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Home > Weblog w/e 27.10.2001

Saturday 27 October 2001, 23:30 BST
One: A Space Odyssey. Nice. [Via 2 cups mayhem, 1 teaspoon reality]
The Sopranos meet Osama bin Laden: Fuhgedaboutit. [Via linkmachinego]
Infectious Awareables. Anthrax looks a bit dull, but some of these look really good. [Via MetaFilter]
Adult AIM Buddy Icons. Saucy. [Via 3 Bruces]
Friday 26 October 2001, 23:55 BST
And So It Begins? Microsoft's MSN portal site is now preventing users of a number of non-Microsoft web browsers (including the current version of Opera for Windows and K-Meleon, which uses Mozilla's Gecko rendering engine) from accesssing the site, claiming that:
Attention: Web Browser Upgrade Required to View MSN.com

If you are seeing this page, we have detected that the browser that you are using will not render MSN.com correctly. Additionally, you'll see the most advanced functionality of MSN.com only with the latest version of Microsoft Internet Explorer or MSN Explorer. If you wish to visit MSN.com, please select the appropriate download link below.

* Internet Explorer for Windows
* Internet Explorer for Macintosh
* MSN Explorer for Windows
Granted, my life won't be blighted by not being able to visit MSN.com, but I can't see this as anything other than an attempt to reinforce the suspicion which most non-techies already have that the only real web browser out there is produced by Microsoft, and that anyone who uses anything else is just being awkward. Assuming Microsoft don't reverse this policy, what we'll probably see is more browsers offering the ability - already available in Opera - to send a User-Agent string which pretends their browser is actually Internet Explorer. Which will in turn skew the browser usage statistics still further, going a step further towards rendering Opera and Mozilla invisible and thereby justifying Microsoft's "why would anyone use anything else?" stance.

And no, this isn't just Microsoft's version of the campaign by the Web Standards Project to encourage users to upgrade to a modern browser. The WSP recommends that sites offer users of older browsers links to a variety of more standards-compliant browsers: Microsoft just tell you to use one of their browsers. [Via MetaFilter]
If girls came with resumes... [Via Davezilla]
Musings on the theology of the Buffyverse. Food for thought. [Via dymphna.net.journal]
Thursday 25 October 2001, 22:10 BST
The Disney Channel are using one of their cartoons to spread anti-Napster propaganda. Even though I'm not on the "music wants to be free" side of the debate, I find this amazingly arrogant. [Via digitaltrickery.com]
The Onion's AV Club interviews Alan Moore. [Via I Love Everything]
Tuesday 23 October 2001, 22:45 BST
The Louise Brooks Society. A very comprehensive site devoted to the iconic silent screen star.

I was inspired to google for this site by the lovely image of Brooks which adorns dymphna.net.journal, a weblog I added to my sidebar at the weekend.
Tim Morgan's Guide to Shooting Rubber Bands. Essential information for 8 year-olds everywhere. [Via /usr/bin/girl]
What happens when a government Whip tries to bring a recalcitrant backbencher into line over his criticisms of the government's actions over Afghanistan? It's not a pretty sight. Regarding the possibility of a Commons vote on the war:
HA = Hilary Armstrong, Government Chief Whip.
PM = Paul Marsden, a Labour backbench MP.

HA: In fact we may well hold a vote, but if we do, it will be whipped.

PM: That is outrageous. You won't even give us a free vote on whether we go to war - it is an issue which should be a matter of conscience.

HA: War is not a matter of conscience. Abortion and embryo research are matters of conscience, but not wars.

PM: Are you seriously saying blowing people up and killing people is not a moral issue?

HA: It is government policy that we are at war. You astound me. We can't have a trusting relationship if you keep talking to the media without permission.
[Via linkmachinego]
Monday 22 October 2001, 23:20 BST
From the Best Western Hotels House Rules:
"The maximum number of people allowed in a double, queen or king-size bed is 2."
Spoilsports! [Via december14.net]
You can't be too careful when it comes to checking your mail these days. I quite like the idea of turning my junk mail to a pile of ash, actually. [Via dutchbint.org]
Janis Ian finds out what it's like to be a fan. I suspect that if I ever attended a Worldcon I'd be exactly the same. If I ran into (picks names at random) John Varley, Vernor Vinge, Lois M Bujold, Iain M Banks, C J Cherryh, Joe Haldeman, Neal Stephenson, Peter F Hamilton, Ursula Le Guin or Ken Macleod the chances are I'd just gape. [Via Electrolite]
"He appeared a small confused stranger and we fell in love within minutes." What a lovely weblog post.
Sunday 21 October 2001, 21:00 BST
Net.deprivation. Richard C. Crepeau goes cold turkey, and rediscovers the horrors of actually having to pay attention to TV news broadcasts to get your daily news fix. [Via PopPolitics]
Shit Goes Down. Tired of lacklustre summer blockbusters? Bill Murray, Bruce Campbell, Angeline Jolie and the voice of Christopher Walken team up to bring you the coolest summer flick ever! [Via Spacecheese.com]
The Sombrero Galaxy - simply beautiful.
The Security Systems Standards and Certification Bill, which is soon to be the subject of hearings in the US Congress, is potentially a very scary piece of legislation. In an attempt to further restrict the ability of ordinary computer users to copy digital information that might be copyrighted, the bill seeks to make it illegal to build or sell or otherwise traffic in any digital device which fails to use a "certified security technology." In effect, they don't want anyone's PC to be capable of intercepting the audio or video signal at any point between the bytes being read from the DVD/CD/hard disk and the sound/vision being played/displayed.

The problem is, there's no sign that the bill's authors have given any thought to the impact on open source operating systems of this legislation. It's one thing for media companies to shy away from providing Linux versions of their DVD-decoding software, but it's quite another to make it illegal to "traffic in" Linux just because it's not possible to make an operating system which is open source and yet somehow immune to people rewriting the device drivers.

It's true that this is American legislation, and thus of no direct relevance to the UK market. Consider this: Linux has largely flourished because there's an enormous number of companies making cheap PC-compatible hardware to which Linux (or [Free|Open|Net]BSD, or BeOS, or Hurd) can be added later: if all PC audio and video hardware expects to talk to a "certified" driver then at best open source operating systems are going to be confined to non-PC hardware platforms. Not to mention that if this sort of legislation is passed in the US then it's only a matter of time before the same media conglomerates that back the SSSC Bill will come and ask the EU to pass similar legislation.
Twins fashion fighting felines. This is too bizarre for words! Gotta love those wacky home-schooled kids. [Via MetaFilter]
Mark Morford resents the implication that he's being unpatriotic when he notices a few little flaws in the performance of his president:
When he repeats primitive little maxims like "There are no negotiations" and responds to press-conference questions about the vitriolic anti-US hatred that has blossomed around the globe by saying, "I'm amazed. I just can't believe it because I know how good we are," thus causing a giant global spasm of multinational cringing and openly insulting the intelligence of anyone who can walk and breathe at the same time.
[Via Daypop]

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