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Home > Weblog w/e 10.11.2001

Saturday 10 November 2001, 22:45 GMT
Neil Gaiman has given a worthwhile interview to January Magazine. He talks about why he and Terry Pratchett took so long to agree to let someone film Good Omens, writing a book on Duran Duran and why taking writing jobs for the money is a bad idea.
Jayne M Iafrate has an idea that could avert the impending recession in the US: allow a few hundred thousand same-sex weddings.
Tourist Seal Hunting. Norway's fisheries minister reportedly thinks it'd be "a hit." [Via the null device]
If you're in need of a morale boost, visit the Automatic Flatterer [Via wherever you are]
Friday 9 November 2001, 22:20 GMT
The adventures of Acoustic Kitty.
"They slit the cat open, put batteries in him, wired him up. The tail was used as an antenna. They made a monstrosity. They tested him and tested him. They found he would walk off the job when he got hungry, so they put another wire in to override that,'' he said.
This is not a joke. [Via Ben Hammersley.Com]
Did you know that Bill Gates was responsible for the creation of the Open Source movement? Me neither, but that's what he appears to claim in this article about Microsoft's AGM:
"Really, the reason you see open source there at all is because we came in and said there should be a platform that's identical with millions and millions of machines," he said.
There's a germ of truth in this argument, in that the presence of a dominant cheap and reasonably open hardware platform has made it much easier for Open Source software to spread, but the same principle would have applied if MacOS or CP/M-86 had spawned the 90s PC boom. [Via rc3.org]
You've probably heard of the Friends Reunited web site, dedicated to acting as a go-between and putting former schoolfriends in touch. Now SeeThru gives us the logical extension of the idea: Bullies Reunited, using the Friends Reunited database to put bullies in touch with their former victims.

Presumably their next strategy will be to offer an opt-out service for potential victims (for a very reasonable fee, I'm sure.) [Via I Love Everything]
Oh Bono! What were you thinking? [Via Do You Feel Loved?]
It's Shark Week at Perry's Wife.
Today's item: Shark Facts

Sharks think Dolphins are pathetic. You don't even want to know what they think about you.

Sharks demonstrate logical thought (e.g., "I am a giant, razor-toothed killing machine, therefore I can eat whatever I please." Logic!).

Sharks typically attack in shallow water.

Sharks sometimes attack in very deep water just to prove to themselves that they can.
[Via Massless]
I watched the last episode of The Secret Life Of Us on tape last thing yesterday. The show didn't get a huge amount of press coverage over here - possibly because Channel 4 pulled their patented Angel/Homicide/Babylon 5 "push it back until it's on until the wrong side of midnight then wonder what happened to the ratings" trick - but it deserved to be noticed. It was a soap opera, but a very superior kind of soap: more This Life than Neighbours.

The season finale had me all but shouting at the screen as Evan and Alex finally got together, only for Alex to push him away after an ill-considered comment and almost let him go to New York at the end without admitting how she felt. I'm so glad Channel 4 announced over the closing titles that the show will be back for a second season.
Thursday 8 November 2001, 21:55 GMT
Windows XP Flight Feature Flawed.
[...] as with many Microsoft releases, there have been some problems with the initial releases. Many users are saying that their flying experiences are very different from what is shown on the television commercials.
What a Dorcus! More quality work from James Lileks. Make sure you read the Company History. And that you check out the Jackal jacket line:
What's the well-dressed professional assassin wearing nowadays? Clothes that reflect his own essential traits of cruelty and ugliness, his abberant values and black dead heart - that's what! You might not be a hired killer, but with the Dorcus line of Jackal Jackets you can stride onto the tarmac with a look that says: Women fall at my feet. Granted, they are usually bleeding heavily from the exit wound, but that's your style, tiger..
Heck, just read the whole thing - you won't regret it. [Via User Friendly Link of the Day]
I'll grant you I'm hardly the world's most skilled HTML jockey, but if these guys can make a living then perhaps I'm in the wrong line of work. [Via qwertyuiop]
Lakeland Cam's Best of the Week. Wastwater looks spectacular. [Via Bifurcated Rivets]
Wednesday 7 November 2001, 22:20 GMT
BBC Islam Awareness Week Quiz. I managed 9/10, having got the length of the year in the Islamic calendar wrong. [Via David Brake's Blog]
Doha's Kamikaze Capitalists. Naomi Klein poses an excellent question:
What do you call someone who believes so firmly in the promise of salvation through a set of rigid rules that they are willing to risk their own life to spread those rules?

A religious fanatic? A holy warrior? How about a U.S. trade negotiator.
[Via Kate]
New Zealand's Parliament considers the really important issue of the day: how to stop the cameras highlighting MPs' bald spots. [Via Ben Hammersley.Com]
Are You A Blogaholic? Apparently I'm not:
Your Score: 48 / 100

48 points is in the 21 through 50 precent You are a casual weblogger. You only blog when you have nothing better to do, which is not very often. There's nothing wrong with that. But if you'd post a little more often, you'd make your readers very happy.
[Via pie in the sky]
Tuesday 6 November 2001, 23:40 GMT
Robin "Roblimo" Miller wonders whether one of the consequences of the MS antitrust settlement (which has just got more complicated, but let that go for now) will be that we'll see more major name PC makers offering Linux as a standard option on new PCs. I'd like to think this would happen, and Miller paints a pretty picture demonstrating how advantageous it would be for customers and PC makers alike to make Linux a widespread option, but I'm not so sure it's as tempting as he thinks. In order to offer Linux on their PCs, makers would have to both train support staff and be reasonably sure that all the hardware add-ons they supply were fully supported by Linux.

The former objection can be got round - goodness knows, plenty of support calls require at least as much skill in communication as they do in-depth technical knowledge of the operating system, so with a decent set of scripts the majority of support calls could be dealt with - but the latter is a major issue. It would be a step back to the situation in the days when CP/M-86 and MS-DOS were fighting it out for supremacy on the new-fangled Intel 8088 systems and you had to check carefully when buying any piece of hardware to ensure that the vendor had provided drivers for your chosen OS. One unquestionable advantage the dominance of Windows has brought to ordinary, non-technical users is that for 95% of the add-on hardware out there you can be sure that the maker has developed a 32-bit Windows driver which will come on a CD-ROM with the device itself. It's not that PC makers couldn't source drivers for all their hardware, it's that it would potentially add a great deal of hassle to the process of sending a PC out of the door to customers. [Via rc3.org]
Way of the Stick. Cool! [Via Memepool]
Anti-Dolphin.org. Don't let the years of pro-cetacean propaganda fool you. [Via SeeThru Weblog]
Monday 5 November 2001, 22:40 GMT
Grasshopper Recipes. No doubt very nourishing, but I don't think I'll be trying them out any time soon. [Via tired lil' brit girl]
Case Settled: Justice to Break Up Apple For Turning Microsoft Into a Monopoly. Alternative OS Maker Used Anti-Competitive Practices Against Itself.
"We could have punished Microsoft, but that wouldn't have solved the problem. Apple would still be around to do it all over again," said Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. "No, you can either penalize the monster, or you can penalize Dr. Frankenstein. We choose the latter."
Microsoft's Passport system has already been shown to have a security flaw. Not that this should be considered a surprise, but it's still depressing that it's happened so rapidly. [Via CamWorld]
Way of the Stick. Nice. [Via Memepool]
Sunday 4 November 2001, 21:25 GMT
REM on The Simpsons. Shame that looks nothing like Michael Stipe. [Via Do You Feel Loved?]
Following the attempt by MSN to lock out users of non-Microsoft browsers, CNet is reporting that Microsoft's "plucky rivals" in the browser market may have seen an increase in downloads following the lockout.

I think the use of a phrase like "plucky rivals" says it all, really: as much as I like Opera and K-Meleon, I can't ignore the fact that they're operating on the fringes of a market that Microsoft pretty much owns. Anyway, the lockout would have primarily affected users of non-MS browsers (and possibly a few users of IE2 or 3), so what you're probably talking about is a shift in market share between users of Netscape/Mozilla/Opera/the rest as they try to find a non-IE browser that'll get them into the MSN site, rather than a revolt against Microsoft's marketing of their favourite browser. [Via my 2p]
The Honda Unibox concept car looks rather strange, but I rather like the idea of a car with pedestrian airbags and a built-in shopping cart with navigation aids. And it's a hell of a lot more appealing than a car that talks to me and tries to cheer me up! [Via Frownland]
Henry's Diary.
November 02, 2001

I just taught Henry to say, "I like small Asian girls."

I'd like to apologize. I was bored and it seemed like the right thing to do at the time.
(I'm documenting this purely for future therapy reference.)
[Via Mighty Girl]

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