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Home > Weblog w/e 23.12.2000

Saturday 23 December 2000, 23:45 GMT
The latest e-commerce business model: sell at cost, ask for tips.
Could it be true that cats can make you crazy? [Via NTK]
Nice to see Dubya still has time to update his weblog:
Bummed today. I was just over at the Grolier's site, reading up on being president, and I saw in the last paragraph where it says "no president can be elected more than twice." Dang. I've already been elected twice in the past month, so I guess this'll be my last term.
Gavin Williams has a superb analysis of just why Buffy is so good in the latest edition of At The World's End.
Friday 22 December 2000, 22:25 GMT
Yahoo has found what might just be a very simple way to avoid having to implement the directive from a French court that it should find a way to block French users from auctions which contain Nazi memorabilia: have a US court declare that the French court has no jurisdiction over a US-based company's servers. This is going to get very interesting... [Via Techdirt]
Are you looking for a more secure version of Linux? The US National Security Agency has just the thing. It's even been released under the terms of the GPL, so the truly paranoid can take a good long look at the source code. [Via the null device]
Do you really have what it takes to stalk William Shatner? [Via Memepool]
Happily, Claire Swire's boyfriend and his colleagues haven't lost their jobs over That Email. Presumably Norton Rose didn't fancy becoming a the ones to test the limits of the RIP Act and would like us all to forget about them now.
Clay Shirky has seen micropayment schemes come and go, and he isn't impressed: it's not the technology, it's the mixed message micropayments send to the customer. A very good essay, which has shaken my belief that micropayments were a solution to a lot of the problems of rewarding content producers painlessly. I'll have to think on this for a while... [Via rc3.org]
Beth at Bad Hair Days pointed her readers in the direction of an hilarious exchange between a husband and wife on the occasion of their daughter's first birthday. Do all new parents have conversations like this? (Scroll down to the second section of the entry for 21.12.2000, headed "The Rumhuds Speak.")
The Victorian Sex Cry Generator. "You darling, darling! You wield that cane as if to the manor born!" [Via Pigs & Fishes]
Thursday 21 December 2000, 23:00 GMT
A very nice animated .gif. [Via Memepool]
The Register has a fascinating story about proposals to give vendors a means of rendering unauthorised copying of digital data to a hard disk all but impossible. This would be built into every industry-standard hard disk sold, so end users would be stuck with it if content providers chose to activate it (and let's face it, they would). [Via the null device]
Wednesday 20 December 2000, 21:50 GMT
Now we know why there's a Playstation 2 shortage: Saddam's got 'em all. Somehow I think The Register has the best take on this particular crackpot theory.
Stephen Lemons interviews Steven Soderbergh in Salon.
MasterRace: For the rest of us there's honesty. Nice. [Via Yet Another Web Log]
The Internet Revolution rolls on, Part CXII: Cheerleading. [Via Techdirt]
Tuesday 19 December 2000, 23:55 GMT
It's hard to believe that it's almost twelve months since we were being warned that modern civilisation might disappear at midnight on 31.12.99 (oops - I mean 31.12.1999!), plunging those of us who hadn't bought a hideout and stocked up with plenty of guns and food into the 18th century. Rick Chandler wrote some rather sceptical pieces about the scaremongering over Y2K, and now he shares some of his email from a year ago with the readers of Ironminds.
Kirsty MacColl, a classy singer and songwriter, Rest In Peace.
Once Apple produced the most interesting, easy to use personal computers in the world, now it just produces the most stylish ones. Salon asks what happened, why we should care, and what Apple can do next.

I can't believe that Apple are unaware of the extent to which the PowerPC chip is being outgunned for sheer horsepower by the Intel/AMD range: surely they're working on a transition to another CPU, if only as a stick with which to beat Motorola/IBM into producing more competitive products?
I stopped using DigiGuide, a freeware TV and radio listings program, when it became adware which installed spyware which could only be deactivated in return for an annual subscription fee. Several customers, most notably Andy Mabbett, took the program's developers GipsyMedia to task on their online forums and, when GipsyMedia took to censoring their web-based forums, on Usenet. Now GipsyMedia have changed their business plan and turned DigiGuide into an adware-free product which you can register for just £4.99 per annum. While I'd love it if the product was still freeware, I can certainly live with paying £4.99 a year for the use of the program. Kudos to Andy Mabbett for his relentless questioning of GipsyMedia's representatives about their product's capabilities, and to Gipsymedia for relenting and giving the customers what they wanted.

Now that all that's been sorted out, I can safely say that if you have a PC running Windows 95/98/ME/NT and you're based in the UK, you owe it to yourself to give DigiGuide a try: very highly recommended.
Monday 18 December 2000, 22:30 GMT
The Zen of Palm, or how to keep your pants on while computing on the move. Faced with a wave of Pocket PC (aka Windows CE Version 3) machines with high-colour screens and the ability to play Full Motion Video, Palm are doing exactly the right thing: keeping it simple. One day we'll have low-cost handhelds with the horsepower to run these sorts of applications and run for a month on two AAA batteries, but not for a while yet. No doubt the Pocket PCs will take some market share from the Palm/Visor axis in the meantime, but I wonder how many of those Pocket PCs will still be in regular use a year after purchase, and how many will be sitting around the house, being too heavy and unreliable and complicated for real people to carry around all day? [Via Techdirt]
Look out! The Canadians are coming... [Via jo_ham, posting to Three Way Action]
The greatest damage done by the panic over paedophilia is that it poisons the atmosphere to the point where otherwise sensible local education authorities feel obliged to insist that parents may no longer film their children at public events like school plays. If children are brought up in an atmosphere of fear and mistrust, believing that danger lurks around every corner, what hope is there that we might one day live in a tolerant, open society?
KPNQwest secreted a little joke in its Request For Proposals when it was looking to find a vendor to provide some backbone router equipment: it asked vendors whether they supported RFC 2549. Sadly, only one vendor (Cisco) got the joke. KPNQwest have refused to name the vendors who claimed to support RFC 2549, but I think the least they could have done was got one of the guilty parties to actually sign up to supply "IP over Avian Carriers" (aka running the internet using carrier pigeons) and then held them to it. [Via the null device]
BBC News Online reports that the latest revisions to the Council of Europe's Cyber-Crime Treaty, which purports to harmonise international standards in policing hacking, viruses, fraud and (but of course) child porn on the internet, have been greeted with dismay by civil liberties organisations like the Global Internet Liberty Campaign. Read the latest draft of the treaty here, and the GILC's response here. Looks a lot like a repeat of the RIP Bill on an international scale.
Who needs a Big Fucking Gun when you've got a keyboard? [Via Bifurcated Rivets]
Sunday 17 December 2000, 22:15 GMT
The world's first multi-megawatt offshore wind turbines have recently been commissioned just a few miles away from me, at Blyth Harbour. The photo on the developers' web site looks pretty impressive: I might have to take a wander up the coast to see for myself. [Via ZZZ Online]
Hotmail demonstrates once again that free services on the internet are worth exactly what you pay for them.
Watching the coverage of the US presidential elections, I frequently felt sorry for Al Gore, even before the Florida debacle. For all that he'd become a mean debater, he didn't seem at all comfortable with the bits of politics that involve dealing with people, particularly by contrast with a born "people person" like Clinton or even Dubya. Journalist Carl M Cannon, writing in The Atlantic about his contacts with then-Congressman Albert Gore Jr, came to a similar conclusion.
Russ Spencer writes for Wired News about a high-tech resort for people who've apparently forgotten that the point of a holiday is to take a break from work.
Remember last year's Guinness ad, the one with the surfers and the stallions? Adland has a superb parody. [Via The View From Here]
After so many geeks pointed out that the new millennium wouldn't really begin until 1.1.2001 and were almost universally ignored, Farhad Manjoo tracked them down and asked what they're planning to do this New Year's Eve.

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