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Saturday 26 January 2002, 23:30 GMT
The Onion Infographic: The New iMac. [Via Looka!]
Stuck on a train and the buffet car has run out of food? Order takeaway. The only problem is, the average GNER train is liable to be so late that your curry will be stone cold by the time you get to the next station to take delivery. [Via rebuke.org]
Say the colour, not the word. Not as easy as it looks. [Via Ben Hammersley.Com]
Christopher Walken is Bilbo Baggins.
"The way Gollum looked at it, that ring was his Precious. And he'd be damned if some orks were gonna put their greasy hands on his Precious. So he hid it in the one place he knew he could hide something. His ass. Five long centuries, he wore this ring up his ass."
[Via Pigs & Fishes]
Friday 25 January 2002, 23:55 GMT
Evil Whil Wheaton Dot Net. No comment necessary, I think. [Via plasticbag.org]
Last night BBC Radio 4 broadcast Chillers, the first in a series of short dramas. Last night's play was an adaptation of John W Campbell's classic SF short story Who Goes There?

Campbell's story isn't well known outside SF fandom, but you may have seen John Carpenter's memorable 1982 film adaptation of the story, The Thing. I wasn't terribly taken with the radio version, but that may be because Carpenter's film is one of my favourite SF films. Even if I hadn't seen the film, I'm not sure that radio is the best medium to tell the tale of a shape-shifting monster: having the characters react to odd sounds in the background just isn't the same as actually seeing a man's chest grow a huge toothy maw which proceeds to bite off the arms of the doctor trying to administer CPR, then the body grows about three heads and ten legs and starts causing real mayhem. (As one character says at the end of that scene, "You've got to be fuckin' kidding...")

Next week's Chiller is another SF classic, Harlan Ellison's I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream. I can imagine that working very well indeed as a radio piece.
Gentle thoughts for today.
3. When I'm feeling down, I like to whistle. It makes the neighbour's dog run to the end of his chain and gag himself.
Thursday 24 January 2002, 23:00 GMT
Yet another striking, colourful Astronomy Picture of the Day.
The Microsoft-English Dictionary 1.5: (What Microsoft Really Means To Say.) [Via Bifurcated Rivets]
Eagle 1. A very nice version of the old Lunar Lander arcade game. I'm every bit as bad at landing on the moon as I used to be 25 years ago. [Via I Love Everything]
Sure, I'll Do It. An interview with Robert Wise. Not a particularly in-depth interview, but the man's directed so many classics, from The Haunting to West Side Story, that you just know he's worth a listen. [Via scrubbles.net]
Thursday 23 January 2002, 23:25 GMT
Scientific American reveals what happens when the Aibo meets the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

It would be nice to think that Sony's example in eventually reaching an accommodation with an enthusiast who figured out how to extend the Aibo's abilities will influence other major corporations with hyper-vigilant intellectual property lawyers. [Via Boing Boing]
Charlotte Raven writes in praise of public urination. I'm pretty sure there are better - or at the very least, more sanitary - ways to demonstrate that you're rejecting middle class values. [Via [parallax view]]
Tuesday 22 January 2002, 23:10 GMT
At last, a reason for The Sun to approve of the Euro. (NB/- not work-safe.) [Via Off On A Tangent]
It turns out AOL aren't buying Red Hat after all. Which is a shame for the industry's humourists. See, for example, BBspot's Top 11 Reasons AOL Time Warner Would Buy Red Hat:
3. Because Red Hat said they would give them the source code to Linux if AOL Time Warner purchased them.
[Via Kuro5hin.org]
Welcome to HellOK! magazine. [Via nocto]
National Geographic has a really good site all about crocodiles, including a funky little Flash-based map showing the distribution of the different species around the world, and an awe-inspiring image of a ten-ton prehistoric relative of the modern croc. [Via SeeThru Weblog]
Monday 21 January 2002, 23:10 GMT
What happens if AOL buys Red Hat? Well, User Friendly paints a fairly worrying picture of one possible outcome.

Jokes aside, I can't see what would make Red Hat a good buy for AOL. True, a Linux-based set-top box using Mozilla as AOL's web browser of choice would make a mean internet appliance, but do AOL really need to buy the rights to the biggest, most visible Linux distribution just to put together a Linux-based set-top box? It all sounds to me like a bargaining chip in AOL's endless battle against Microsoft: let us keep our place on the Windows desktop, or we'll start selling non-Microsoft set-top boxes for US$300. [Washington Post article via Boing Boing]
Getting even with Jehovah's Witnesses. Wonderful. [Via Rogi]
Hot Sexy Hobbit at Bridge of Khazad-dur. Personal ads, Tolkien-style, courtesy of craigslist. [Via rec.arts.sf.written]
Over at dollarshort.org, Mena relates a charming story of high school humiliation and synchronicity.
Sunday 20 January 2002, 23:45 GMT
Surprise Settlement Evenly Splits Microsoft: One Firm To Make Software, Other To Make Patches.
British Sitcom Spin-Offs Films. A rather frightening reminder of just how many lousy sitcoms were turned into feature films in the 1970s and early 1980s. The most terrifying fact revealed therein: in 1971 the feature version of On The Buses outgrossed Diamonds Are Forever at the UK box office. Granted, Diamonds wasn't Sean Connery's finest 007 outing, but come on... [Via The View From Here]
Software author and Ph.D English Literature candidate Patrick W Bryant is planning to open-source his dissertation. His plans to produce a highly flexible, expandable electronic version of his dissertation are very impressive, and his intention of making the software he develops to facilitate the project available under the GPL is highly laudable. It promises to be a markedly superior alternative to the common practice of cramming the text into a PDF file and bunging it on the web somewhere. [Via Boing Boing]
Richard Stallman doesn't like people sending Word files as email attachments. As usual when RMS rants, he mixes common sense with righteous indignation that the software world doesn't revolve around the GPL. As one poster to the discussion thread notes, not everyone who receives email is in a position to refuse to accept files in proprietary document formats.

It seems to me that in the short term the solution is to send files that actually require moderately complex formatting in RTF or HTML format where possible. If you really need to send a document that'll look precisely the way you want it to, use PDF. (Yes, I know about TEX. I also know the chances of the average manager or secretary managing to print out a TEX file using their bog-standard Windows PC are about a zillion to one.) [Via CamWorld]
It's amazing what you can find if you use one of the peer-to-peer file sharing networks. Basically, a lot of people seem to be making their entire My Documents folder, or even their entire hard disk, available to the world.

Some of the posters who discussed this story at MetaFilter think this MSNBC story is stage one in a campaign to scare people away from peer-to-peer networks. I'd say it's a timely reminder that if you give total strangers access to your hard disk it's up to you to be aware of just what it is you're sharing.

Yes, it's true that Microsoft have contributed to the problem by effectively giving every Windows 95/98/ME program root access to the entire PC, but that's a side issue. Ultimately this isn't the result of some secret registry setting or magical super cookie: it's a combination of people not really understanding what they're doing with their PCs, and software authors who fail to take into account that 80% of PC users are technically clueless. [Via MetaFilter]
As I type this Jerry Maguire is playing on Channel 4. I haven't seen it in a couple of years, so I'd forgotten just how much fun it was. Tom Cruise does charming very, very well, Renée Zellweger and that incredibly cute kid are a delight, and Cuba Gooding Jr is a terrific pain in the ass. It's not deep, and it's not going to change anyone's world, but it's a highly entertaining film.

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