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Saturday 2 June 2001, 23:20 BST
This week's issue of NTK was particularly good. The highlights: a rather bitter farewell, Planet of the Apes action figures (complete with part of the Statue of Liberty in one instance!) and a snappy answer.
Bob Cringely thinks he has a solution to the micropayment problem: tipping.
Inconstant Moon. A textbook example of how to put together an informative site about astronomy which has plenty of depth but is still accessible to total novices. [Via BlueEar Forum]
Conan O'Brien gave a terrific Commencement speech at Harvard last year. Read and enjoy. [Via MetaFilter]
Friday 1 June 2001, 22:30 BST
Awwww, isn't it cute. [Via my 2p]
Did you know the origins of the term "taking the piss"? Me neither. [Via rec.arts.sf.written]
A prank well worth the price of a parking ticket, I'd say. [Via Q Daily News]
Technology and chocolate combined. What more could a geek desire?
Thursday 31 May 2001, 22:55 BST
Oh my. There's a sight you don't see every day. [Via Q Daily News]
McDonalds buys the world, one word at a time. [Via SeeThru Weblog]
Wednesday 30 May 2001, 23:55 BST
Who do I vote for? According to this site, I'm marginally more inclined to vote Liberal Democrat than Labour. So far, so good: that pretty much matches the result of the test I took the other day. However, this latest analysis also suggests that I'm as enamoured of the Green party as of the LibDems.

I'm sorry, but I can't see myself ever voting Green. What this really demonstrates is that it takes a lot more than 20 questions to divine someone's political leanings. [Via wherever you are]
M C Escher, eat your heart out. [Via Haddock.org]
You've heard of FuckedCompany? Now, here's FuckedWeblog. [Via SeeThru Weblog]
Electronic gadgets are a more welcome present than flowers, survey finds. I can but echo Meg: well duh! [Via not.so.soft]
Tuesday 29 May 2001, 22:00 BST
Man At Work. Look at that view!
Britain's managers are learning to relax again. Isn't that nice for them. Shame that by and large they're still unwilling to allow their employees to do the same.
I haven't mentioned Big Brother 2 as yet, but I can't let this pass without comment. Teacher Penny, who has already been shown on camera kissing one of the men and was reportedly caught nude on camera when her towel slipped as she emerged from the shower, has been threatened by the head teacher of her school, the Sarah Bonnell School in Stratford, with the loss of her job because of the school's code of conduct.

Apparently, the head teacher is concerned that she has, "to make sure that the profile of the school and its ability to provide positive role models for my girls is maintained." Note that the head teacher admits that she hasn't actually seen the nude footage as yet, but she does state that she understands that it was an accidental exposure. So what exactly is the problem? Presumably it's that she's behaving "in a lewd manner" on TV, where her pupils (and their parents, more to the point) will see, but so what? Does anyone seriously think that the girls at her school are unaware of the possibilities of flirting with boys? If Penny was single, would she be banned from going out socially in the town or city where her school is, in case a pupil saw her on a date or a night out and was influenced by her "lewd behaviour?"

Incidentally, my take on Big Brother 2 as a whole is that it's rapidly becoming every bit as compelling as the original. I have no idea who'll be in contention for the big prize, but I can't wait to see who gets nominated in the first round of voting. A lot depends on the extent to which the voting blocs line up on gender grounds, as they mostly did last time round in the early stages, and how far the contestants have learned the lessons of the first season about tactical voting, but my guess is that Narinder (too mouthy), Amma (doesn't suffer fools gladly) and Bubble (too loud, too few brain cells to rub together) shouldn't get too settled in.
Wired News didn't need to try to make this story topical by linking it to the Californian energy shortages. The notion of "smart dust" which might one day float around allowing sensing their environments and networking together to report their findings back to base is pretty damn exciting and scary all by itself. For a look at just how nasty "smart dust" could be, see Vernor Vinge's excellent A Deepness In The Sky, in which it plays a small but significant role in the maintenance of a thoroughly despotic state. (Even if you're not interested in the possibilities of pervasive, covert remote surveillance, read it anyway: it's a superb novel.)
Talking of the surveillance society, it's coming to something when even the European Parliament is reportedly on the verge of publishing a report advising citizens to employ encryption and avoid the use of closed-source software in order to foil the electronic intelligence gathering efforts of the governments of the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. It remains to be seen whether the report is acted upon, but even if all it does is provide evidence of everyone's worst suspicions it'll serve a valuable function. No doubt within days someone from Microsoft will accuse the report's authors of being "un-American." [Via my 2p]
The Road To Springfield. Brilliant! [Via Montykins]
Prince has become a Jehovah's Witness, and has decided that he's not going to swear any more. Assuming that he extends this new-found sensitivity to preclude explicit mention of sex, he's going to end up performing some awfully brief concerts. Mind you, it's not all bad news: he can always get a job at the Sarah Bonnell School in Stratford! [Via little.yellow.different]
Using Windows NT may increase your insurance premiums. What I find interesting isn't so much the finding that NT-based servers are more vulnerable and have greater downtime due to attacks by "hackers", it's more that sysadmins in NT-based firms are worse trained and suffer 33% more turnover in sysadmin positions than their counterparts in Unix/Linux-based firms.

Is this because NT's greater vulnerabilities, and consequent impact on a firm's operations, mean that an NT sysadmin is more likely to be fired/resign because of the effect of downtime on the firm's bottom line? Or is it that all these sysadmins are leaving firms of their own accord, saying "I told you so!" to their PHB as they depart? [Via the null device]
Monday 28 May 2001, 23:35 BST
Bob Frankston does a nice demolition job on a recent Wired article that danced on the grave of the "egalitarian internet" on the grounds that the widespread introduction of broadband access heralds the end of "freeloading" by users who pay flat-rate charges to ISPs and/or telcos. [Via NewsTrolls]
Wouldn't it be nice if your email software could intertwingle your mailbase? [Via Misnomer]
What a surprise: a Microsoft program which takes what you type and insists on altering it so it conforms with Microsoft's notion of the right way to do things. The Risks Digest has the gory details.
Sunday 27 May 2001, 23:55 BST
It seems that the technology which is presently used to superimpose adverts on the field of play and billboards in broadcasts of sporting events is about to be implemented for the first time on a scripted show, thereby allowing advertisers to have their favoured brand of soft drink placed prominently in-shot even if it didn't exist when the show was recorded. I can't be the only person who thinks this is a dreadful idea, can I?

Hopefully there'll be sufficient consumer resistance to this idea to kill it, or goodness knows where it'll end. Having said that, if the personal video recorder ever really takes off, thereby allowing viewers to effectively skip ad breaks completely, the advertisers and broadcasters will no doubt argue that they have to raise the money to fund programming somehow and this would be one way to do it. Subscriptions would be a far, far better way to achieve this goal, but only provided that we're allowed to pick and choose programming options in a much more flexible way than is presently the case. [Via Q Daily News]
Somehow I doubt there's much truth to this story. I hope. [Via NTK]
Rewriting history. Historian Stephen Ambrose's latest book about World War Two paints rather too pretty a picture of American soldiers' motivations and America's war goals, according to Benjamin Schwarz.
Hello there, I'm Olo Bumbleroot of Haysend. What's your Hobbit Name? [Via /usr/bin/girl]
Shouting 'Jesus Christ' gets tennis team thrown out of final. [Via pie in the sky]
I found a couple of worthwhile zines this evening: Backwash and Flak. Read and enjoy. [Via Impetuous.Org and a fire inside]

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