March 2002

February 2002 -- 2002 -- April 2002

March 1, 2002

And thus endeth the shortest month.

If you think you're job is bad, check out what this guy has to do for a living. It's not easy mutliating yourself for public safety.

Spring break begins today for me. Out of my four classes on Friday, only one was held, so needless to say it was an easy day. I'm not planning on doing much over spring break, so perhaps I might find time to update the website everday. But probably not. My least favorite part of school vacations is that just about everyone on my buddy list is offline while school isn't in session. Normally there's like 25 or so, during a vacation I'm lucky if there's 2. Also UF's spring break is the week before everybody's else's, so the only people free are the same ones who I see all the time up here. And no more DDR 5th mix 3 minutes from my room :( But regardless, I will enjoy this week of relaxation.

March 4, 2002

Perhaps Microsoft really does believe in Innovation, as it keeps innovating new ways to get your computer hacked into. Now a simple bit of XML code on a website is all it takes to execute commands on your computer. Even turning off ActiveX and scripting doesn't stop this one, it takes a registry tweak until Microsoft decides to release a patch.

Politicians are at it again, this time a canidate for California govenor used an "innovated way of using the internet" to email people telling them to vote for him. And not everyone who got emailed even lives in California, or were even US citizens. In a nice twist though, the webhoster for the campaign website took it offline for a while for violating the terms-of-use contract. Will people ever learn? I'd NEVER vote for any politician that ever spammed me.

Pioneer 10 turned 30 the other day. It's now 7.4 billion miles away, floating off toward Aldebaran which is the red star in Taurus, which is should reach in about 2 million years.

It has now been proven that a true obfuscating programs is impossible to make. There will always be some way to figure it out. This has major ramifications for software "protection" as that was one way in which companies would try to make their software tamper-proof.

And finally in a story that shows that technology isn't always the best tool for the job, a "Domesday book" that was put into digital format in 1986 is now unreadable because the hardware used to read it is now obsolete. However the original one, written in 1086, is still in fine condition. This is a concern for a lot of record keepers, as so much information today is stored electronically. But the ability to read the information depends on the programs and hardware avaliable at the time. 1,000 years from now, do you think we'll able to know how to open Acrobat files, or Excel 95 spreedsheets? It's a field of research that deserves a lot of study, as can you imagine the problems that would happen if the ancient civilizations used computers to put all their records on? We would have no idea how to extract the data, and millions of years of history would be completely lost.

March 10, 2002

Yeah, so much for updating during Spring Break. I had a really good one though, so I cant' complain. Went to the beach on Tuesday, but it was pretty chilly and the water was freezing cold, so just threw around a frisbee. Then became a USF student for the day while I hung out with my friends Kathryn and Whitney (Hey!). Thursday went to the Florida Strawberry Festival with friends and rode a bunch of rides. Friday went to Pleasure Island, and Saturday went to a lake in Orlando to jet ski with my friend Heather and her friend Caroline. Then went clubbing at Ybor to finish off the night. And now back up in my dorm room chillin the night away. Life is good :)

The 2002 March Madness brackets were announced today. Florida is seeded 5th in the Mid-West. We did well at the beginning of the year, but then we just kept losing. Texas Tech (where I would have gone to school if I stayed in Texas) is seeded 6th, which is really good for them. Duke will probably end up winnign it all though.

New StarWars trailer debuted today on Fox. I didn't really like it too much, but of course I'm going to see the movie anyways.

March 11, 2002

Looks like AOL might be switching to Linux for it's server needs, and begin using the Mozilla rendering engine instead of IE for it's browser. One of the major reasons for the switch is that it's cheaper to run Linux servers, and they liked the way Mozilla handles the HTTP 1.1 protocal. Even though they still aren't making a Linux AOL client (and if you're technically inclined enough to use Linux, why the heck would you ever want to use AOL?) the fact that thousands of websites will now have to start to confirm to web standards or else risk AOL users not being able to see their websites, is a Very Good Thing (tm). No more "You must have Internet Explorer to view this website" nonsense.

March 14, 2002

March Madness begins! Basketball is my favorite sport, and I love watching the college games. Here's to hoping the Gators win it all!

Mozilla 0.9.9 was released the other day, and it's the best one yet. It's getting closer and closer to the 1.0 release, and it truly is on par with Internet Explorer. And even better in the fact that it blocks pop-up ads without having to turn off all javascript.

According to the BBC, even Google is affected by link manipulation. People have finally figured out how to get their sites to pop up for certain keywords on Google. It's still the best search engine there is though.

Email is more popular than regular mail. Of course, 95% of email is spam, so does that really count?

March 16, 2002

Twas a sad sad day in basketball yesterday, as my two favorite teams in the tourny both were defeated in upsets. The #5 Gators lost to #12 Creighton 83-82. They won on a last second 3-pointer in double overtime. I didnt' even get to watch much of the game, since I had classes. However inbetween one of them, I decided to go to the comptuer lab to see how much we won by. Instead I see we're in double overtime with a minute thirty left. So I "watched" the last minute and a half by continously refreshing for the latest score. Had quite a crowd too looking over my shoulder, and there was a loud sigh as the last refresh showed we lost by a measely one point. And I had such great hopes for the UF basketball team....

In the other upset, #6 Texas Tech lost to #11 Southren Illinois. Both my parents and one of my best friend's went/go to Texas Tech, and I also had hoped they would advance far with Bobby Knight. But I guess not anymore. Here's hoping for next year.

Business 2.0 released their 101 Dumbest Moments in Business for 2002. Enron is featured in many of the moments, along with a few tech companies and even the now defunct XFL. For as dumb as some businesses are, they can still make an awful lot of money.

A new record holder for the most distant object in space from us has been set. It's a galaxy 14 billion light years away. It also has given astronomers a glimpse into early formation of galaxies, as they estimate this particular one to only be 750 million years old. Space is a wonderful thing.

March 17, 2002

Happy St. Patricks Day!

Salon has an interesting piece on video game music remixes. Videogame music is unfortunatly one area of music that gets very little professional recongnition as an art form, and is nearly impossible to find in stores in the US. Just try finding a DDR soundtrack in a local Best Buy, it just isn't going to happen. So it's either import them from Japan, or download them off the net. Perhaps someday videogame music will get the recognition it deserves, and the composers could actually go up for Grammy's.

Two spacecraft were launched today, to make a very accurate map of the Earth's graviational fields. Despite what you may learn in high school physics, gravity is not the same everywhere due to variations in density and material. So NASA plans to use these two spacecraft to measure the tiny differences, and create a map 100 times better than current maps. Science is amazing no?

March 20, 2002

Mandrake Linux 8.2 was released a few days ago, and I must say it is quite nice. I installed it last night, and after some initial problems with sound and X, I got it working just right. It's amazing how easy the install is nowdays, and all the new programs that make using Linux so much easier than when I started 3 years ago. Check it out for yourself.

Some photo's were recently released of Russia's attempts to get to the moon. They had their hopes pinned on some HUGE rockets, but in every test they ran, they failed in catastrophic explosions. Would have been interesting though if the Russian's had been able to reach the moon. Maybe by now we'd be on Mars.

Ain't It Cool News says that they got a sneak preview of Star Wars Episode 2, and they loved it. I'm not sure whether to believe them or not, but they are semi-trusted on the net. But even if it is false, I'm still gonna see the movie of course.

March 21, 2002

Here's an article on the history of the mouse. It tells the story of how they made a mouse that was not only more accurate than the models at the time (1970's) but 90% less expensive. And they did it, helping make the Macintosh a success. The very first mouse was created in 1964 however, so we're coming up on the 40th anniversary of our very useful pointing device.

A company is offering a free ferrari to anyone who can break their encryption scheme. They say it's uncrackable, even to brute force methods, so maybe they'll get to keep their car. Of course, once quantum computers become reality, all our encryption may become crackable. But that's still a fair ways off, and who knows, I may get to help define teh future someday.

For everyone who caught the end of the Indiana-Duke game tonight: Wow!. I love March Madness!

March 22, 2002

Yet another bill has been introduced into Congress trampling rights and common sense in order to suck up to corporate media intrests. And this one is a doosy, on the level of the atrocious free speech infringing

It's Senate bill S.2048, also known as the Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act (CBDTPA). It would prohibit the sale or distribution of digital devices, unless the device includes copy-protection standards set by the government. The hope is to stop the Napsterization of digital media, but all it really does it make it illegal to do pretty much any kind of copying of any kind on your computer. This bill would cover any kind of hardware and software that might possibly be used to copy something, from TV's to computers. It wants to make anything that can copy a copy-protected work illegal. If the same bill was introduced back in the 70's, VCR's and cassette tapes would not exist, and you would not be able to tape TV shows or record music from the radio. Other possible aftershocks of this legislation include:
  • limits on "format-shifting," for example, the ability to create mix-CDs of music you've paid for;
  • controls built into hard-drives that would allow files to be labelled as "unmovable," so they could not be backed up, or moved to another machine, nor could the drive be effectively optimized;
  • restrictions on the manufacture and distribution of devices and programs that can play unrestricted formats, such as MP3 audio and DivX video files.
But that's not even the worst of it. As this Wired article explains, the effect on coders and the open source movement could be enourmous. Within 3 years after the bill becomes law, the only code programmers will be able to distribute will have to have embedded copy-protection schemes approved by the federal government. Due to the very broad wording of the bill, the CBDTPA regulates just about every program on your computer, and this includes simple stuff like the "copy" or "cp" command on a Windows or Unix computer. Anything that could even remotely be able to reproduce copy-righted works would be affected by this bill. The only loophole is that you could still program anything you want on your personal computer, you just couldn't distribute to anyone. And since most other countries are smart enough not to make laws like this, it would effectivly create a firewall around the US since any program imported (read: downloaded) from a non-US country that didn't include these standards would be deemed illegal. That would have huge affects on the open source world, where code is collaborated on with people from throughout the world. If this bill passes, it could lead to a "US-Linux" version that is created independently of any other version, since incorporating non-US code would be deemed illegal. Scary scary stuff.

And of course the major media companies love this bill, like Disney and News Corp. Luckly so far there seems to be a large public backlash against it. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has a webpage set up discussing the bill and what you can do about it. The Justice department created a web-form for comments, though contacting your local senator would probably be a better idea. Hopefully through public outcry we can prevent this bill from passing and becoming law. We don't need yet another DMCA.

March 23, 2002

I've found a new hero: A girl who promises to eat pizza every day for a whole year. As anyone who knows me in real life knows, I love pizza. But I don't think even I could stand eating pizza every single day. For that I am in total awe. She keeps a diary of what pizza she eats and everything. I wish her well.

A little old, but here's an example of some good ol' Microsoft ignorance.

My registration date is tomorrow for my fall classes, and my schedule is decent, but I'm really hating all those discussion sections and extra lab hours. I've signed up for 16 credit hours, but will be in class 21 hours every week. Plus this one class I need is ONLY offered on Tuesday's and Thursday's at 8:30. 8:30!!! Every other day I start at 11:45, which is pretty nice. And then classes (with some breaks in between) till 6. So much better than 7:30 to 3:30 that high school was. And now that I'm finally getting into the classes required for my computer engineering major, I get to take fun courses like "Digital Logic and Computer Systems", "Applied Discrete Structures", and "Computer Linear Algebra". Ahhhhhh, I love college.

March 26, 2002

Nothing like spending an hour and a half working on some a small program that scratches some "itch" that you have. I've written yet another perl script, this time one that automatically updates my AIM profile to show what song I'm currently listening to. It only works with Gaim however, so all you Windows people are out of luck.

Thanks to all the cellphone and Gameboy players out there, the thumb is becoming the most dexterous finger of people under the age of 25, instead of the index finger. It'll be interesting to see the long term effects of technology on evolution.

China is slowly catching up to the US and Russia with their space program and may be sending up a manned mission in the semi-near future. They've openly discussed sending Chinese men to the moon, and I think that it'll happen one day, and it'll catch everyone off guard. But we shall see.

March 27, 2002

Codeweavers had done it again. Before it was a plugin program to let people run Windows only apps on Linux. And now it's a program that runs Microsoft Office on Linux. It's no longer a requirement to have a Windows operating system to run Microsoft's killer app. A review of the new office product really likes it which isn't suprising. This is exactly the kind of thing that is needed, where Microsoft applications become independent of the operating system. Once that is accomplished, then people can use any operating system they want to fit the needs and wants that they have. Just one more step down the road to Windows freedom.

Rogert Ebert has a scathing analysis of the copy protection that is beginning to show up on CD's. So far it's only been on a few, but more and more CD's are being "protected" in the effort to prevent piracy. Instead all it does is make end users mad that CD's won't play on their non Windows computers, cd/mp3 players, game consoles, or anything else that isn't a plain jane audio only CD reader. And of course the real pirates have no problem still getting the tracks in digital format, so it's really not accomplishing much except to make listeners disgruntled. It's not a good idea to treat your customers like theives.

A videogame store owner decided to share his experiances with having to deal with stupid people everyday, by creating a website detailing all the dumb questions, shoplifters, and brain dead liers that the poor guy has to deal with everyday. He does seem overly cruel at times but there are some good stories none the less.

March 28, 2002

Yes, finally many of the word's I've been using as slang are now in a "dictionary" and are henceforth "real" words. Chilaxin (which I first heard from a friend of mine who is one of the funniest people I've ever heard) is now a glorified word since this dictionary takes words that people have made up and assigns definitions and parts of speech to them. It's essentially a create your own dictionary type of thing of made up words. And then this all boils down to what is a "legal" word? How to words become "real" words in the first place? I make up words all the time, but what makes them official ones that won't get me F's on English papers? That is the real question. The discovery of this dictionary has made me lipadoodly.

Fox (sworn enemy of Time Warner which owns Cartoon Network) has a piece about Cartoon Network refusing to air Speedy Gonzales cartoons. They see Speedy as portraying an offensive ethnic sterotype of Mexicans, and since kids are impressionable people, they won't air it. I watched a fair amount of Speedy Gonzales when I was a kid on Nick (which on a totally different tangent here, is it just me or does Nick seem a whole lot worse now than it did when I was a kid? What the heck is this the Nick Cannon crap? Talk about portraying racial sterotypes) and I don't think I was harmed by it, it was just cartoon fun. Also interesting to note that Cartoon Network has exclusive rights to the cartoon, so they can do whatever they want with it, even if it means that no one can see it.

Pizza good. Sleep good. Life good :)

March 29, 2002

Is web surfing losing it's fun? I've got to agree a little bit with the conclusions that this article gets at, as during the great internet boom of 1999-2000 there were just so many websites out there and they all were trying to do something to get people to visit them. But even today I'm still completely addicted to the net (and being in college lets me have more time than ever to be on the computer), and while sometimes I do find myself thinking that there is nothing new to read or see (ie: Slashdot/Salon/CNN hasn't updated in the last 20 minutes) it usually passes fairly quickly as I read some obscure news story and then go search for more info on that. And the same thing happened way back when I first started surfing the web in 1995. The main thing is just that the novelty has worn off, the ability to instantously retrive information is so common place now that it's just taken for granted. Every once in a while though, something will make me remember just what makes the Internet so unique and exciting.

Salon has an article about how the DMCA is being used to wipe out internet radio by making the licensing fees far too expensive for the small internet station owners. Instead of the $1,000 a year it currently costs, it would end up to be about $1,000 a day. I especially like the second to last question that Salon asks, where the guy points out that internet radio and mp3's are a great way to discover new music. I know I"ve bought a WHOLE lot more music after Napster (and the like) came out than before. It's given me a way to sample new music (especially techno/trance/dance since radio almost never plays it) and decide for myself if a CD is worth buying. Why music companies don't relieze this, I'll never know.

AdCritic is back! After being shut down a few months ago, they have new owners, and a new business plan. It's being targetted at advertising managers, and to view the commercials you'll have to pay a monthly fee. Yeah, it doens't make much sense to me either, to make people pay to watch commercials for products. But that's the marketing industry for you.

March 31, 2002

Happy Easter!

A member of the Kentucky House of Represenatives has an interesting bill to deal with riverboat casinos. I wonder what the odds of it passing are.

And speaking of bad bills, a reader at Kuro5hin wrote an article with an in depth look at the CBDTPA. He talks about the possibilities that this bill could lead to, including the elimination of open source and even leading to a Nazi like state where only certain types of information is allowed to be disperesed. Interesting implications indeed.

Can't say the H word without someone misunderstanding anymore. A computer camp in Denver was originally going to be billed as a "Hacker Summer Camp", with the original meaning of the word "hacker" which is "A person who enjoys exploring the details of programmable systems and how to stretch their capabilities". A kid who wants to go to a computer camp for the summer is most definitly a hacker. But of course the good ol' media gets a hold of it, and makes it seem like the camp will teach kids how to break into computers (see "cracker"). I love the quote from the parent who says "Isn't it just teaching kids things they might not have figured out on their own?" Gee, isn't that the point of a educational camp? Some people. Anywho, just gives an example about connotations of words and how a "good" word can turn "bad" with enough bad publicity.

February 2002 -- 2002 -- April 2002