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October 23, 2002
[ai] I love Lucy — Jon Ronson meets the cleverest robot in the world … ‘I bought my son an Aibo dog for Christmas last year. “From the first day you interact with Aibo it will become your companion,” the packaging promised, adding that if you feed it, it will yelp in delight, if you put it to bed, it will sleep, etc. As we strung it up off the light fitting to see if it would cry, and deprived it of food and light and finally got bored with its constant yapping and turned it off completely and put it in a box, I pondered the same questions the scientists consider. The good news was that we gave Aibo perfect motive to rise up and enslave the Ronsons, and it didn’t. But did it offer a thrilling window into tomorrow’s world? No. Maybe it was our fault; maybe we didn’t give it an opportunity to flourish and learn and grow.’
October 11, 2002
[web] NTK Not — a random NTK story generator from Blogjam‘An older boy mentions he’d do anything to see the ‘t*ts’ of the Daisy Duke character on the old TV show ‘The Dukes of Hazzard.’ But we’re not listed on the Lovebytes site at the moment – ‘cos we like to keep it underground, and don’t want to play that corporate game with the likes of Lego and Apple. http://bitey.net/slashdot-sigs/ – back again now. And good luck to ’em!’
September 5, 2002
[web] Engine Trouble — profile of Google covering the block by China‘Google knows things. Not only does it index more of the web than any of its competitors, offering makeshift translations of pages between languages – it remembers, too. The company archives millions of web pages on its own computers, giving them a life beyond their creators, which provides another potential motive for the Chinese block: even if the computer hosting a Falun Gong website is seized and destroyed, the page persists in Google’s collective memory. In 2001, Google bought the rights to thousands of old postings on the Usenet system on online message boards. They are now catalogued on its database, and your past obsessions with Dungeons and Dragons or ornithology cannot be erased’
August 30, 2002
[web] Meet Mr. Anti-Google — interview with a guy who believes that Google’s PageRank algorithm is evil and wrong. ‘…Google does seem all-powerful. It’s been four years since the search engine came online, and in those years, while the whole industry has crumbled around it, Google, somehow, has only became bigger, better and more popular. To someone like Brandt, someone not unfriendly to conspiracy theories and wary of the “power structure,” the Web according to Google must be a hard thing to bear. And bizarre as it may seem to go after a service as loved as Google is, on evidence as thin as Brandt offers, isn’t it more surprising that it’s taken this long for someone to snap up the google-watch.org domain name? Google seems indomitable, and Brandt’s fight is, certainly, doomed from the start. But perhaps it’s time someone took on Google — even if just for the fun of it.’ [Related: Google-Watch, Metafilter Thread, via Beesley]
August 21, 2002
[web] PageRank: Google’s Original Sin — interesting view of what’s wrong with Google. ‘… PageRank drives Google’s monthly crawl, such that sites with higher PageRank get crawled earlier, faster, and deeper than sites with low PageRank. For a large site with an average-to-low PageRank, this is a major obstacle. If your pages don’t get crawled, they won’t get indexed. If they don’t get indexed in Google, people won’t know about them. If people don’t know about them, then there’s no point in maintaining a website. Google starts over again on every site for every 28-day cycle, so the missing pages stand an excellent chance of getting missed on the next cycle also. In short, PageRank is the soul and essence of Google, on both the all-important crawl and the all-important rankings.’ [Kinda Related: Googlegate]
August 17, 2002
[mobiles] Cell Biology — the Washington Post on mobiles phones and swarming … ‘The very fabric of their time has softened. Remember arranging to meet at a specific time, like 8 p.m., at a specific location, like Connecticut and K? Forget it. The new hallmark of squishy lives involves vaguely agreeing to meet after work, and then working out the details on the fly. A time-softened meeting starts with a call that says, “I’m 15 minutes away.” It’s no longer unforgivable to be late, as long as you’re in contact.’
August 16, 2002
[war] Mock Cyberwar fails to end Mock Civilization‘We’ve seen cities immobilized for days by natural events like blizzards, the severest of which are often accompanied by power and communications breakdowns, financial inconveniences and failures of emergency response teams to function, and yet life goes on. Human beings simply aren’t as fragile and narcotically-dependent on state authority as the government desperately desires them to be. We shift for ourselves rather well for moderate periods of time when the infrastructure of state paternalism lets us down and the life-giving commercial heartbeat flatlines. People are remarkably good at solving problems, both individually and in small ad-hoc groups. Thus we survive earthquakes, floods, blizzards, depressions, epidemics, hurricaines, foreign occupations, famines, plagues, slavery, volcanic eruptions, sustained V-1 and V-2 bombing campaigns, and the like. If we couldn’t, we wouldn’t be here now.’
July 27, 2002
[web] AOL RIP? — Douglas Rushkoff on AOL / Time Warner’s Problems. ‘…AOL’s purchase of Time/Warner heralded the end of the dot.com bubble. AOL was cashing in its casino chips. And just like the gambler who trades in his colored plastic disks for real cash, AOL’s Steve Case understood that his run was over and that it was time to trade in his stock certificates for those of a company that had genuine assets.’ [via Evhead]
May 23, 2002
[web] Geeks go hack to the futureBen Hammersley on O’Reilly’s ETCon‘It was either a masterpiece of timing, or serendipitous coincidence. Either way, 500 of the world’s leading developers, hackers and alpha geeks gathered in a Santa Clara hotel for the O’Reilly Emerging Technologies Conference last week. At the same time, Apple launched a new machine, Star Wars: Episode II premiered, the X-Files ended, and Napster shut down and then reopened. It was all just asking for trouble.’ [Related: Matt Webb’s notes on ETCon]
October 30, 2001
[sysadmin] An Actual Letter from a Fed-Up Systems Administrator‘Never fuck with your systems administrators, because they know what you do with all your free time.’ [via BenHammersley.com]
September 7, 2001
[books] Conducting Black Operations in the Corporate IT Theatre from O’Really … could come in useful … ‘Black Operations. Silent, undetected and above all untraceable acts of system administration which get the job done. Of course, if you’re fired or captured the secretary will disavow any knowledge that you ever had the root passwords. There’s a job to be done, work without backups, casualities are acceptable. Do what you know to be right.’ [Related: CopyLeft T-Shirt, link via Camworld]
[books] Dot.Bomb — first chapter of the book by David Kuo … ‘Winn’s goal was not just to sell a lot of one kind of stuff or another. He wanted to use the Internet to revolutionize every facet of retail, creating a one-stop Internet shopping site of unparalleled selection, product information, and efficiency. It would be for the Internet age what Harrods was for the entire British Empire at its height: the shopping source for all things. Winn knew it was an inspired – and possibly psychotically lucrative – vision.’
July 12, 2001
[tech] Cap’n Crunch’s Homepage… includes the infamous article from Esquire on phone phreaking…. ‘I ask him who this Captain Crunch person is.”Oh. The Captain. He’s probably the most legendary phone phreak. He calls himself Captain Crunch after the notorious Cap’n Crunch 2600 whistle.” (Several years ago, Gilbertson explains, the makers of Cap’n Crunch breakfast cereal offered a toy-whistle prize in every box as a treat for the Cap’n Crunch set. Somehow a phone phreak discovered that the toy whistle just happened to produce a perfect 2600-cycle tone. When the man who calls himself Captain Crunch was transferred overseas to England with his Air Force unit, he would receive scores of calls from his friends and “mute” them — make them free of charge to them — by blowing his Cap’n Crunch whistle into his end.)’ [thanks Phil]
November 26, 2000
[mobiles] Great article about how awful mobile phones are‘What is it about these things that makes us so obedient, and so oblivious to that which lies outside them – such as actual people? I once asked a man who was bellowing into a cell phone in the coffee shop in San Francisco why he was talking so loudly. A bad connection, he said. It had not crossed his mind that anything else mattered at that moment. Like computers and television, cell phones pull people into their own psychological polar field, and the pull is strong.’ [via Guardian Weblog]
October 30, 2000
[eliza] It’s a crazy idea but it might just work… somebody mixes AOL Instant Messaging and Joseph Weizenbaum’s Eliza. The resulting conversations are hilarious…. ‘Using a publicly available Perl version of ELIZA, a Mac with nothing better to do than play psychoanalyst, a few applescripts, and an AOL Instant Messenger account that has a high rate of ‘random’ people trying to start conversations, I put ELIZA in touch with the real world. Every few days I’ll put up the latest ‘patients.’ Names have been changed to protect the… well, everyone.’ [Related Links: Try Eliza, via Beesley]
October 1, 2000
[tv] Danny O’Brien thinks PCs are the new TVs‘I haven’t had a television for almost two years now. Believe me, I like television. People who don’t have televisions, I continue to believe, mostly wear bow ties and have children who are home-schooled, go to university at the age of 12 and then run away to live off chestnuts in the forest. I know this. Once I’d stopped slumping in front of the telly when I came home from work and moved into the far more sophisticated habit of slumping in front of a monitor, my viewing hours plummeted.’
September 21, 2000
[tech] Was the real winner of Big Brother Real Media? ‘The extent of the Big Brother achievement should not be under-rated. Not only did it prove video streaming could reach a massive market, it was also a technologically smooth ride. Most of the people who signed up for the Big Brother RealPlayers were novices to the Net, yet the first job they had to do was download and install an intricate piece of software, something that even baffles experts from time to time.’ [via Yungee]
September 20, 2000
[cringely] Robert X. Cringely answers questions on Slashdot. Cringely on the origin of Cringely: ‘Cringely came to be as a guy on the masthead who could be blamed for fuck-ups. The idea was he’d be fired from time to time then reinstated when the advertiser (it was always an advertiser) had cooled down. He could never come to the phone because he was the Field Editor — always out in the field.’ [Related Links: I, Cringely, Accidental Empires at Amazon]
September 8, 2000
[allergic to microchips] Guardian Unlimited reports on a woman living in a timewarp — she’s unable to go near microchips which are omnipresent in modern society…. ‘Mrs Stock says that if she goes near a computer or sits in a modern motor car she quickly begins to suffer with a pain that she likens to a pencil boring through the back of her head. “I have earache and toothache and my vision goes distorted. It is just as though you are drunk and you don’t know what you are doing,” she said yesterday. “I find it very scary, especially when the eyes go. They can be like that for hours and I worry that they may not become all right again. The pains in my head can last for days.”‘
July 30, 2000
[media nuggets] Media Nugget of the Day looks at Apple’s Airport and The Simpson’s Archive. ‘Does the world really need a complete list of Bart’s chalkboard openings? Maybe not. But it’s a comfort just to know it’s there.’
July 28, 2000
[tech] It’s SysAdmin Appreciation Day! ‘Sysadmins don’t want to be apreciated, we want to be left alone! Now please excuse me while I take these disks to the bulk era….er..bulk virus scanner…’
July 6, 2000
[mobiles] The New York Times reports on Text War in the Philippines. ‘Muslim insurgents battling Philippine troops in the south have a new weapon. When the shelling and gunfire let up, they send a barrage of scathing insults to Manila’s forces by cell phone. “There is a text war among the MILF and our forces,” said Brig. Gen. Eliseo Rio Jr., referring to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the larger of two rebel groups fighting for an independent state. “Our soldiers are texting insults to the MILF. And the MILF are sending the insults back.”‘ [via Slashdot]
July 3, 2000
[murder] BBC News reports that murder suspect put plan to kill wife on Psion palmtop. ‘Prosecutor Jonathan Laidlaw told the jury at Inner London Crown Court Mr Debruin wrote what looked like a macabre checklist for the killing on his Psion organiser which read: “Rubber gloves. Throat. Take telephone off hook. Purse out with contents spread about.”‘
[sealand] More on Sealand…. Wired looks at the company attempting to use Sealand as a secure off-shore data host and Slashdot interviews the chief technology officer managing the project.
June 23, 2000
[link dump] Some tech links: MacOS X Weblog, and two applications I use everyday at work — vnc and Security Explorer.
June 14, 2000
[BOFH] Who wants to marry a SysAdmin? “There’s no time to waste. We’re all getting fatter and paler by the second. Hook up now before we can’t keep track of our processes anymore and our hair forks all to hell.” [via Just Daz]
May 25, 2000
[tech] I find this hard to believe: Linux is more popular than sex!
May 23, 2000
[weird science] Potato powered webservers… [this one is going to get blogged everywhere]
May 17, 2000
[tech] newsUnlimited reports on family in Silicon Valley [Text-Only]. “[…] Most revealingly, perhaps, is the way in which the word “family” is slowly turning from a noun, into a verb. Parents in Silicon Valley have been overheard talking about the need for “doing family,” as if it were less of a static unit than one of many activities to be fitted around other obligations. When a parent talks about spending “quality time” with his child, it is not a vague reference to hanging out with him or her on the weekend. It is used as a direct oppositional to “quantity time,” with the belief that, like everything else in Silicon Valley, if you concentrate hard enough you can achieve just as much in a condensed period as across a longer stretch of time.”
May 15, 2000
[tech] Microsoft plans changes to Outlook in the wake of The Love Bug [via Scripting News]
[mp3] Napster is irrelevant reports Wired News. “The amazing thing about Napster isn’t the program, it’s the idea,” Weekly said. “You can’t litigate the idea. You can’t tell people that they need to stop thinking about the idea. Already we’ve seen commercial alternatives pop up with Scour Exchange (a commercial file-trading exchange), so even if Napster is sued out of existence, there are alternatives popping up everywhere.”
May 12, 2000
[tech] It’s Anti-Microsoft Day at Barbelith Towers with excellent coverage of Microsoft Vs. Slashdot and Security issues in Internet Explorer. [Where does Tom find the time and energy to do these great articles?]
[tech] BBC news reports on perks for IT workers“The more common perks include pensions, healthcare, cars, share options, flexi-time or a corporate box at a football ground. “However, companies such as Oracle provide a benefits cafeteria system in which employees are awarded points with which they can purchase the perks they want. These include extending annual holiday and life assurance for partners.
[tech] Embrace, extend, censor — Microsoft goes after Slashdot. Here’s the original article
May 9, 2000
[tech support] It was a bad weekend for technical Support team at Australia’s federal trade commission, Austrade after the ILOVEYOU virus was released last week….
May 4, 2000
[MP3] The Register points out that the phrase MP3 has been sprayed on statues and walls in Whitehall after the Mayday protest: ‘Quite why these hardened anarchists and eco-twats felt the need to paint a computer format alongside cries for revolution is unclear – is this the first sign of an internet generation, lost and disillusioned and unable to function without a keyboard, crying out for attention? Who cares.’
[virus] When I’m not blogging I do Tech Support… anyway this morning we’ve been swamped with copies of the “ILoveyou” virus. Don’t open any attachments from emails with the subject: ILoveyou UPDATED: BBC News report, it looks like it’s happening all over the place….
April 24, 2000
[y2k] newsUnlimited asks if we were conned by the computer industry over y2k? [Text Only]
April 16, 2000
[tech] Computer’s rot childrens brains reports newsUnlimited.
April 13, 2000
[tech] Wap phones are like ZX Spectrums [Text Only]. Hmmm… nice idea…
April 11, 2000
[tech] Suck on skins: We have seen the future, and it is damned hard to use.
April 7, 2000
[BOFH] The BOFH interpretation skills test. Which side are you on?
April 6, 2000
[tech] It was a bad bay for the IT support team at the London Stock Exchange yesterday [Text Only]
April 5, 2000
[tech] Profile of Joel Klein — the guy who gave Microsoft a good kicking [Text Only].
[tech] Julie Burchill comes out of the closet as a technophobe [Text Only].
April 3, 2000
[funny] Report from The Onion: New E-Toilet To Revolutionize On-Line Shitting. “In the near future everyone will shit on-line.”
March 30, 2000
[tech] Fuck Outlook Express! I hate it… I’m going back to my roots and downloading Peagsus Mail for Windows!
[tech] BT and Amstrad release e-m@iler — a telephone that allows pay-as-you-go access to email without a computer. Here’s a BBC News report.
March 29, 2000
[Mac] Microsoft releases IE 5 for Macintosh. There also a beta version of Media Player available. Here’s a review of IE5.
March 23, 2000
[tech] Nice overview of why text created on Windows PC’s looks tiny on Macintoshes….

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