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Saturday 11 August 2001, 23:35 BST
Too darn hot. [Via Q Daily News]
Dr. Seuss Explains Why Computers Sometimes Crash.
If a packet hits a pocket on a socket on a port, and the bus is interrupted at a very last resort, and the access of the memory makes your floppy disk abort, then the socket packet pocket has an error to report.
[Via weblog.vavatch.co.uk]
"You're a freakin' moron, Bob." I noted last week that in Bob Cringely's last column he'd turned up the paranoia about Microsoft a couple of notches too high. Cringely got a lot of mail from readers, and to his credit, he's devoted this week's column to letting those readers spell out just how wrong-headed his theories were.
Oh my god! Ralph Wiggum has taken out Abe Simpson!
The Panda body-slams The Rock! As I said last year, I don't see anything wrong with the wildlife fund using the www.org domain (which they already own) while the wrestlers use wwf.com.
Do you fit the profile of a serial killer? It's OK, I only got an 8. Honest! [Via Memepool]
Friday 10 August 2001, 23:30 BST
Can you beat the staring dog? [Via not.so.soft]
What's the most addictive video game ever? I think I'd vote for Tetris, but Defender isn't far behind. [Via scrubbles.net]
The KEO Programme plans to launch an unpowered satellite carrying a cache of information about humanity today and messages from ordinary people which (it's hoped) will return to Earth in 50,000 years.

The only trouble is, every science fiction story I've read that has used this sort of premise has been a cautionary tale, demonstrating that the results may not be what the designers expected. Even so, something about this whole idea just tickles me. [Via User Friendly Link of the Day]
Thursday 9 August 2001, 23:10 BST
Paint the Moon. It's a crazy idea, but it just might work... [Via Memepool]
The Onion AV Club interviews Samuel R Delany. [Via Yet Another Web Log]
If you enjoyed the film Memento you might be interested in reading the short story that inspired it.

I, on the other hand, have read the short story but haven't seen the film. The story was sufficiently intriguing that I'm definitely going to keep an eye out for the video/DVD now. [Via 13 days from monday]
Ouch! [Via miss bitch]
Kickbox the Queen. Isn't this sort of thing still a treasonable offence? [Via /usr/bin/girl]
Lap Dance. No it's not what you think. [Via rachelandrew.co.uk]
Wednesday 8 August 2001, 23:55 BST
BBC Sport's Online Cricket Simulator. It's certainly an accurate simulation of my cricketing prowess: I can barely lay bat on ball, never mind score a run! Even so, it's extremely addictive. [Via CoffeeToGo]
Napster: The Motion Picture. Featuring Marlon Brando as the Bertelsmann Music Group. [Via Pop Culture Junk Mail]
The Guardian's Washington correspondent Martin Kettle wonders whether a 24/7 work culture is such a good idea. [Via Arts & Letters Daily]
Dot Com: The Musical. Class. [Via not.so.soft]
Tuesday 7 August 2001, 22:35 BST
I went to the cinema to see Cats & Dogs this evening. It's a nice basic idea, and the special effects worked well (I loved the ninja cats and the Nuremberg rally of rodents!), but the humour is very much aimed at the kids and the central idea doesn't really support 90 minutes of story: it might have worked better as a short. Still, it was a pleasant way to pass an amusing hour and a half.
Talking of films, it's been revealed that the next Star Wars film will be called Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones. I understand the argument in favour of such a corny title - the "it's a tribute to the old Saturday morning serials George Lucas grew up watching" - but that doesn't excuse such a horrid, cheesy title. Not that it'll affect the film's box office one iota, of course...
Dr Dorfman has compiled a Color Photo Atlas of Dentistry. Really, really scary stuff. [Via 3 Bruces]
The Surreal Gourmet has found a surprising new way to cook chicken. [Via brainsluice]
Monday 6 August 2001, 23:25 BST
Next time you think you've got a lousy job, think about this poor guy and count your blessings. [Via 3 Bruces]
The Philosophy of Fan Fiction. Deva argues that professional script writers and fanfic authors are essentially engaged in the self-same task, namely borrowing from, reacting to and commenting upon a canon of established work.

I'm generally receptive to the proposition that fanfic deserves respect, but I think it's unreasonable to stretch the point quite so far. In my view, a script writer employed by the creator of a show and writing to a show's "bible" is working in a completely different creative universe to a fanfic author, who will frequently take the characters down roads not taken in the show proper (and not just in terms of their sexual preferences).

Indeed, one of the functions of fanfic is to create an alternative history of the show's plotline, to correct the original writer's "mistakes" or to depict vignettes that occurred before/between/after the broadcast/published episodes of the story. Deva would no doubt argue that the original writer, even if he or she actually writes all the episodes of a story, has no particular authority over the story readers/viewers choose to construct when reacting to the original work, but I'm old-fashioned enough to believe that the original author's vision outranks mine every time.
Multitasking at work reduces efficiency. Amen to that. [Via Nick Jordan]
Shakespeare Porn. Professor Richard Burt has devoted his time lately to studying such rather, er, free adaptations of the Bard's work as Taming Of The Screw and A Midsummer Night's Cream.
The fast-forward button has long been a handy tool for porn viewers, but Burt is perhaps the first person in history to fast-forward through the sex scenes to get to the dialogue.
[Via Arts & Letters Daily]
Distinguished Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk returns to Blyth, where he started out as a cub reporter, to reflect upon how the journalistic techniques drummed into novices on papers like the Newcastle Evening Chronicle and the culture of regional news reporting distort reporting on stories from further afield.

Fisk's concerns about journalistic culture are worthy of consideration, but I found the story as striking for its description of Blyth, a town just a few miles from here which is every bit as grim and decrepit as Fisk suggests. [Via Electrolite]
Channel 5 have started broadcasting Cupid, which looks to be a witty, slick and thoroughly entertaining little fantasy. It features a standout performance from Jeremy Piven, but he couldn't do it without an excellent script and good supporting work from his co-stars. The show feels a lot like Now & Again or Moonlighting. (NB/- those are very positive comparisons in my book.)

Sadly, also like Now & Again, Cupid was cancelled in the States after half a season. Worse yet, Channel 5 have chosen to broadcast the show on weekday afternoons, when I'd say it merits a prime time slot. I watched the first episode this afternoon (just as well I had a day off work, or I'd probably have forgotten it was on) and I've decided after just the one episode that it's going to be well worth taping.

While I'm on the subject, what is it with US TV executives? Why the hell do fresh, inventive shows like My So-Called Life, Profit, Now & Again and Cupid wither and die when they've barely got into their stride while formulaic dross like Charmed and Dawson's Creek plays for several seasons?
The Random Course Module Catalogue.
Module Title
Complex problems in the rise of television and its connection with the rise of mobile telecommunications.

Module Outline
This course will explore the rise of television and its connection with the rise of mobile telecommunications by means of torturous over-analysis, and rampant Freudianism. The teaching will be slick and by the end of the module the tutor is expected to be superior to their peers.

Credits and Assessment
The module is worth 10 credits and is assessed by secret means.
Sunday 5 August 2001, 23:20 BST
Jon Rochmis has a good rant about the SirCam virus.

What's amazing about the spate of macro virus and IIS worm problems is that reports almost never seem to mention the one common factor: all of them are facilitated, to say the least, by Microsoft's utter inability to design secure software that at least limits the damage this sort of attack can do.

Granted, if Linux was the dominant PC OS we'd see the virus and worm writers targeting the weaknesses of that OS instead, but the bottom line is that Microsoft's products are presently the main target and if they want us to trust their software to hold our personal information and manage our internet access then it's up to them to do a better job of making stable products that are secure out of the box. [Via NetSurfer Digest 7.24]
Salon published a fascinating analysis of how the recent (and utterly false) Mail On Sunday story claiming that George Martin had announced George Harrison's imminent demise came about.
BDS&M in the boardroom. Just one minor practical observation: afterwards, you'll need to bribe the security guards not only to persuade Security to ignore your, er, comings and goings, but to wipe the security camera video tape. Unless you're an exhibitionist too, that is. [Via 3 Bruces]
You're a poor country seeking to spread computer literacy, but you can't afford to buy thousands of copies of Windows. Linux sounds like the obvious solution. Or maybe not.

I think the real problem wasn't the virtues of Linux per se, it's that the project relied on it being installed on PCs after purchase, rather than being pre-installed. If users had to install Windows on their new PC, they'd find it a lot less user-friendly. I installed SuSE Linux on my PC yesterday, and it truly wasn't any more difficult than installing Windows ME on a friend's PC a couple of months ago.

It's fair to say that pre-installation wouldn't solve the WinModem problem, or the idiotic idea that two programmers could upgrade and provide support for an entire nation's complement of school PCs, but it would be a start. Also, with pre-installations computer makers could customise the Linux desktop to suit their perceived market in ways that Microsoft just won't let them with Windows. [Via Techdirt]
Christopher Walken collects Tupperware. No, really. [Via MetaFilter]
The New York Review of Books has revamped its web site, making it easier to read the articles by not splitting them across umpteen pages. There's some seriously high-quality content there, but having to download it a page at a time used to be a serious deterrent to my reading it more often.

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