there are 30 posts from January 2004

January 30, 2004


Can’t tell you how happy it makes me to learn of Wonkette. Where the hell have I been these last few weeks? Ana Marie Cox & Washington insider politics gossipy analysis in an easily digestible format? TriFECTA, ladies and gentelmen.

(Quick moment of idolization: Ana edited the few pieces I wrote for Suck. She made them muuuuuuuuch better than they were when they were originally submitted, and used every opportunity to push me to be a better writer. The pieces turned out great. Me and writing? Not so much.)

January 30, 2004

google mail

Given the vague nature of the opt-out requirements in CAN SPAM, especially around the definition of who is the “sender” when you have third party commercial ads appearing in a message, I’m wondering about the likelihood of Google actually getting into the “inserting ads in email for list publishers” business. Unless, of course, they’re planning on operating a centralized clearinghouse for opt-out processing. Which, while theoretically interesting on paper, would be nearly impossible to manage in practice. (There are just too many actors, and the landscape too rocky.) At any rate, their lawyers must be working overtime…

January 29, 2004

pc notebook design

What is it with PC notebook designers; especially their need to clutter up machines with application-specific hardware buttons?

I’m likely headed into the market for a new notebook in the next few months, and I’d love to find a 15” widescreen notebook that has just a bit of the design sense of the aluminum Powerbook. EMachines, Toshiba and Gateway all offer reasonably priced 15-inchers, but all of them manage to clutter up their ID with all these damned buttons… Who uses their laptop as an MP3 or CD player when the clamshell’s closed? Who uses hardware buttons to launch office applications? And do we need an “i” button to connect to the Internet or the hardware provider’s (lame) support website? What is it that compels notebook designers to shift functionality that most appropriately belongs in software out into the design of the machine itself?

Is there no market for a 15” Powerbook PC wannabe?

January 29, 2004

one dozen delicious

One dozen recently delicious links:

  1. directory snapshot - 2002 june ()
  2. usa today to publish tivo stats (via pvrblog) ( media television )
  3. FTC proposes adult spam labels ( email )
  4. George And Abe ( humor )
  5. Erik Benson’s Weblog: effective individual ()
  6. Please sir, may I have a linker? ( microsoft software )
  7. everyone wants to look like nick nolte these days ()
  8. Flash mob, on a train! ()
  9. hello – picture sharing slash IM ( social-software software windows )
  10. unison – os x newsreader ( apple software )
  11. Wanted: personal social network coordinator ( social-software )
  12. treo 600 updater ( software )
January 29, 2004


Justin Hall just won’t stop. And for that I’m thankful.

He just hit his ten year anniversary of publishing content on, and if you’ve been online that long, taking a tour through his June 2002 subdirectory listing will likely set off little memory bombs every step of the way. “Oh, yeah the summer roadtrip in 1996…I remember that. My God, look at his hair!”

Two things about Justin’s publishing that continues to amaze. First, obviously, the sheer volume. He simultaneously has no filter and is able to filter down his days into something readable, entertaining and bigger picture. Second, even though he’s now using a publishing tool, there are all those pages out there. All today’s template driven publishing looks boring and corporate and easily digestible next to the personality-rich (and chaos-laden) individual pages that have popped up on links since 1994. Colors! Inline pictures! Wacky table layouts! Today, we type into textareas, publish with a pushbutton, and imagine that our validating content is contributing to some sort of semantic web. We’ve given up the personality of the individual page for the syndicated reach of RSS.

One more thing. Compare and contrast: Justin’s decade of personal publishing at with the average individual profile on Orkut or Friendster or Tribe. Sure, those systems are built to be the personal home pages of people who don’t publish. And I know I’m romanticizing. But where along the road did personal publishing shift from freewheeling page posting to form-centric data collection?

January 28, 2004

orkut's back.

Wow! Thanks to everyone who participated in the flash mob yesterday outside of the Googleplex – so sorry I couldn’t be there! As I’m sure you know by now, your tireless dedication, your boundless energy and your overwhelming passion for all things Orkutish has paid off – our purple home is back! Once again, we’re free to virtually come together, find common interests, share relevant information, and organize social events!

Yours in connection,
Michael (currently connected to 4,567,247 people through 1,458 friends and 674 fans, offering 948 testimonials and participating in 112 communities! w00t!)

January 27, 2004

one dozen delicious

One dozen recently delicious links:

  1. Ikeaphobia and its discontents ( business good-ideas )
  2. mark hurst - bit literacy ( email good-ideas )
  3. EnoQuest #1: six degrees of Brian Eno ( good-ideas social-software )
  4. traffic data at alexa ( social-software )
  5. Many-to-Many: Why Orkut Doesn’t Work ( social-software )
  6. Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s Daypart Redesign ( design good-ideas )
  7. Ars Technica: Foldable e-newspapers coming from Philips ( hardware whoa )
  8. Cohorts ( business )
  9. What is Technorati? Now that’s a damn good question. ( social-software syndication weblogs )
  10. my yahoo rss beta has launched ( syndication )
  11. om malik: is google the devil? ( google )
  12. 802.11me: DeadEndster ( good-ideas social-software )
January 26, 2004

orkut withdrawl

Help! How will I keep in touch with all my friends now that orkut’s down?

Update: Brainstorm! How about a flash mob outside of the Googleplex? Tomorrow, noon pacific. Spread the word – this social software thing is gonna be big, and we can’t let Google miss out on this tremendous opportunity!

January 22, 2004

very rich client

Without much fanfare earlier this month, announced their “Office Edition,” which pushes their SFA functionality down into Microsoft Office. The company that championed went overboard with their “no software” positioning is now touting their integration into the world’s most widely used piece of personal productivity software. Which really isn’t that big of a deal, when you realize that this fits in perfectly with Microsoft’s strategy of morphing Office into a combination productivity app and very rich client. If you’ve used Office 2003 at all, you’ve probably noticed the obvious net-enabled features like the research pane, smart tags (remember those? They live!), Sharepoint integration and the XML tools built into Word and Excel.

If you’ve seen any of the whiz bang demos of Longhorn, it’s abundantly clear that the browser is not where it’s at for Microsoft. Instead, it’s all about the rich client. While .NET application development isn’t for everyone, there’s enough interesting functionality in the new Office to enable the return of the power user – the former macro writer who can now leverage their VB skills to integrate data (through web services inside and outside the firewall) into their everyday working environment.

January 22, 2004

one dozen delicious

One dozen recently delicious links:

  1. iTunes Music Store RSS Generator ( syndication )
  2. Art Garfunkel charged with marijuana possession after traffic stop ( people )
  3. torrentz ( p2p )
  4. A Few Thoughts on Cognitive Overload ( business )
  5. Simon Guest on Project Niobe ( microsoft software )
  6. as messaging? ()
  7. joshua ellis on taste tribes ( good-ideas )
  8. warren ellis on microcast culture ( business good-ideas television )
  9. Yahoo! Research Labs ( business good-ideas )
  10. interix tools for windows ( microsoft software windows )
  11. Niobe: develop managed add-ins for Outlook 2003 ( microsoft software )
  12. News: Personalized News ( good-ideas syndication )
January 21, 2004

the human condition

Great microthread happening at delicious, commenting on commenting on URLs. My take: all technologies eventually (d)evolve into a messaging system, or as mwik puts it, “the deliciousbloggingcommunitystreet finds its own uses for things.”

January 21, 2004

can dean cross the chasm?

Forgive me for applying technology marketing concepts to national politics, and for potentially speaking waaaay too early, but two phrases keep echoing in my head since Monday night: “crossing the chasm” and “second mover advantage.”

Notion 1: Dean won’t be able to cross the chasm. (You’ve read Moore, right? If not, has a good overview.) He’s done a fantastic job of hitting the enthusiasts and visionaries, yet despite a fantastic channel strategy won’t be able to cross over to the pragmatists, much less the conservatives. Just enough of the core fundamentals of the “product” are there (vision, experience, etc.) to enable the early adopters to wrap the product with their own add-ons (passion, a rabid and web-fueled community of supporters). But perhaps Dean isn’t quite ready for prime time; pragmatists, after all, want something that just works. And maybe doesn’t yell so much.

Notion 2: Kerry and Edwards have a second-mover advantage. With Dean as the early front-runner, follow on candidates like Kerry and Edwards have been able to watch Dean and his message, to see what works, what doesn’t, and how they should be adjusting their strategy accordingly. Friend Garry Mitchell (the consummate insider) writes today in The Mitchell Report (email only, trying to convince him to get it up online):

The primary reason for the wholly unanticipated, meteoric rise of Howard Dean (we’ll deal with the death spiral in another column) was that he touched raw nerves by saying that it was time for the Democratic Party to be Democrats again. Like H. Ross Perot on deficit reduction and budget balancing in the 1992 campaign, Dean has made the other candidates discover their “inner backbones,” albeit at his own expense, and the irony is that their messages are sharpening while his is not.

And then, a quick Google search on “second mover advantage” led to this classic from Red Herring juxtaposing the business strategies of Webvan (doomed first mover) and Microsoft (very successful second mover).

One of the implications of the second-mover advantage is that established companies with existing infrastructures and a variety of sales channels do better than pure plays – in any market touched by technology. It is not that entrepreneurialism and innovation matter less than existing market power, but that every new technology is a perilous risk.

Replace “companies” with “candidates,” and “new technology” with “new campaign strategy” and Iowa starts to make sense. At least to me.

January 17, 2004

one dozen delicious

One dozen recently delicious links:

  1. googlemail? ( email )
  2. WashMu and eBay ( business good-ideas )
  3. (i)tunes at work ( apple music software )
  4. dwr champange chair finalists (via kottke) ( design )
  5. – office edition ( microsoft software )
  6. Famed Whitney Collection of Art Is on the Block ( art business )
  7. The Book, At Last ( books )
  8. BBC Symphony Orchestra - Cage Weekend 2003 ( music )
  9. capture the business! ( business good-ideas )
  10. Thought experiment [dive into mark] ( software syndication )
  11. aworks: new american classical music ( music )
  12. [Net jukebox firm wins patent ruling]( _( bad-news hardware music )
January 17, 2004


I’ve probably seen the animation of the MER Rover bounce across the surface of Mars two or three dozen times now. But each time it fills me with the same sense of wonder and awe… I’m starting to understand the mystical reverence that finds its way into my parents’ voices when they talk about the Moon landing in 1969; amidst social chaos and an unwinnable war, there were those grainy images of Armstrong to send chills up the spine.

Tonight, Kate and I clicked through today’s set of images from the Rover. She doesn’t quite get the scale of the achievment, but loves the movies of the countdown, the liftoff and the landing animation. Sliding off my lap after reaching her requisite 15 minute limit for any one particular activity, she turned up to look at me and said “Daddy, I want to go to Mars.”

January 15, 2004

Here's the thing...

Here’s the thing about this whole whiz-bang Internet. All of it – the remarkable web applications, the fantastic presence-facilitating servers, the IP telephony devices, the XML-RPC-enabled Perl scripts – requires actual connectivity. You know – lines that sync, routers that route. I find it very disconcerting that my personal technology stack relies on SBC at its base.

Damn you, Gilder, where’s my fiber?

January 12, 2004


Had to migrate Windows domains this morning. It wasn’t as bad as doing a complete reinstall, but if you’ve ever done it, you know how convoluted it is. And then, when you actually have an account on the new domain, there’s the little thing of preferences, which get completely whacked. Both OS prefs and application prefs. So if you’re a tweaker (and trust me, I’m a tweaker), you’re thrust into this foreign environment, the land of factory defaults, where things beep and whoosh and fade and scroll.


January 10, 2004

one dozen delicious

One dozen recently delicious links:

  1. Joi Ito – SonyOpenForumSpeech04 ( good-ideas )
  2. Net::MovableType ( small software weblogs )
  3. Down and Dirty Pictures ( books business movies )
  4. ic_temp ( weblogs )
  5. review of spot msn direct ( ambient hardware small )
  6. Pricing Software by Any Means ( business software )
  7. cwd, rip ( email )
  8. someone call the fab five ( politics )
  9. real alternative ( music software )
  10. Inbox trauma, new anti-spam tools falter ( email recursion )
  11. The Art of Unix Programming ( books good-ideas software )
  12. The Algebra of RSS Feeds ( syndication )
January 09, 2004

box modeling

So on a whim I redid the look and feel of this site, and lo and behold, I’m apparently having an issue with IE and it’s darned box model. If you’re looking at this in IE6 (like I am), you’ll notice that the main column is missing its one pixel border on the right-hand side. I’ve Google’d to death, tried about a dozen different things, to no avail. It’s fine in Mozilla and Safari, but not here on IE. (I haven’t looked at it in 5.x versions of IE, and I’m sure the boxes are likely busted there as well, but, frankly, don’t care all that much…) Suggestions welcome.

Update: fixed! Thanks so much to Ethan from

January 08, 2004

wish fulfilled.

I ask, Keyspan delivers.

Keyspan, (marketing assertion deleted), announces its revolutionary USB Server that connects USB devices to a Mac or PC via a wired or wireless Ethernet-based LAN. The USB Server will ship in late Q1 2004 with an MSRP of $129. Much like a USB print server, the USB Server enables attached USB devices to be used and shared by client PCs on a LAN. In addition to printers, the USB Server supports other USB devices such as hard drives, scanners, and more.

Wow, I should start asking for stuff more often.

January 08, 2004

traffic rank

It’s been a while since I’ve surfed any data at Alexa, but the handy NetCaptor (more on that later) has built in easy access to Alexa data, so I checked it out this morning. They provide comparative graphs of site traffic – here’s eBay against Amazon:

(alas, this image is lost to the sands of time…)

Fascinating dip around the holidays… The data is their “traffic rank” instead of raw traffic, so it’s impossible to discern from this chart the scale of the delta between the two. But if you assume there’s some sort of powerlaw at work here, there should be quite a difference between the 8th ranked and 16th ranked sites by traffic…

January 08, 2004

one dozen delicious

One dozen recently delicious links:

> Basecamp Preview from 37 Signals / software

> PVRBlog on the Tivo Announcements / television hardware

> A Guide to Developing and Running Connected Systems with Indigo / windows microsoft

> The Wilgoren Watch / politics weblogs

> reducing jpg compression level in the treo 600 camera / photography hardware

> It’s about time – Apple seeks dollars in former freebies ( / apple business

> Tim Bray - Defining a Web Site

> McSweeney’s A Message From Pat Robertson and the “Vote No On Jesus” Campaign / politics religion

> Jeffrey Veen: To The Left or To The Right? / religion politics

> walt mossberg loves tabbed browsing / software

> zipdecode - zip code visualization / design

> The Future of Portable Video Players / apple

January 08, 2004

all the young dudes

A while back I posted about declining television viewership amongst males aged 18-34. iMedia Connection is reporting that the latest “Simultaneous Media Usage Survey” from BIGresearch shows that “the missing demographic is migrating toward instant messaging and the Internet.”

Amazing numbers: since August of 2002, 18-24 y/o male television viewership decreased 8.8%. 24-34 y/o male television viewership decreased 12.2%. They’re spending more time online than they are watching TV – 187 minutes v. 160 minutes, respectively. And they’re doing it in primetime: more than 40% reported online activity between the hours of 7:30 and 11:00 pm. Joe Pilotta, the VP from BIGresearch, hits it on the head.

“The Internet requires more involvement plus more of an action orientation, especiallywith gaming on computers,” he explains. “Also, TV programming has little to say to this age group.”

L8R, tube.

January 07, 2004

one dozen delicious

One dozen recently delicious links:

January 07, 2004

fit and finish

If you ever have the opportunity to either seriously renovate or build a house, whatever you do, pay attention to where you put your light switches. Otherwise you’re in for one of those daily annoyances that will eventually drive you to…walk across the room to turn off a light.

What you need to do it right is a patient architect, an informed electrician and several uninterrupted hours of time. Walk through every (framed or unframed) doorway, and do your best to visualize that instinctual reach for the throw. Stand at your imaginary sink and think about your disposal. Imagine you’re doing your last rounds before going to bed – what’s the sequence of shutting down the house? Review the drawings that come out of that session. At length. And then do the whole thing again. And then again.

Our architect was fabulous at laying out the big picture; cluing us in to how the rooms would play against one another, why this doorway needed be here, why this ledge needed to be this high. But we (collectively) just couldn’t get it together on this particular fit and finish detail. At the point in the project (a) the house was barely framed (and always dark), (b) schedules were tight and (c) budgets tighter. We didn’t afford ourselves the time to do it right. We were stuck with one initial draft of schematics, one one-hour walkthrough, and an offsite review of the final schematics.

There’s one switch that drives me batty. Our back hallway has an overhead track. Its switch is near the back door. But I’m about ready to have an electrican rip up out the wall and run conduit to create a second switch for that track at the near end of that hallway, so that when I’m doing my nightly rounds I don’t need to trek that extra six or seven feet. It’s not that I don’t need the exercise, it’s that it reminds me – daily – that we rushed that part of the project, and that we’re paying for it now in the annoyance factor.

January 06, 2004


Wow, I guess that whole mini-iPod thing must be a hit – after all, who wouldn’t want to spend just $50 less than a white iPod in order to get a 40% of the storage capacity and colors. And I guess the XServe must be the thing for my server farm. After all, that G5 is part of the third-fastest supercomputer in the world!

(I know, pointless bashing. A few reloads later and the site appeared. But, um, oops.)

January 06, 2004

just like the old days

In case you’re just not MacWorld’d out, and still hunting for that perfect encapsulation of today’s reality distortion whatever, check out arstechnica’s review of the whole shebang:

Twenty years after bringing desktop publishing to the masses, giving everyone the power to create really bad brochures and church bulletins, Apple has done it again. Garage Band makes it possible for even the most computer illiterate and tone deaf individual to make horrible music through drag and drop simplicity and brightly colored icons, complete with incredible sample instruments that may very well be the first “clip art” of the 21st century.

Oh, and there’s this, too, which reminded me of the old days

Then he said the first thing during the Keynote that seamed real. “We love music, we love it just like you guys do.” In that one sentence it seemed like everything he was doing was because he really believed technology was cool, that it could be used for things, and not just as end in itself, that he wanted to make something — besides a buck. It was very cool.

Anyway, now that I’ve excerpted all the good parts for you, go skim it yourself.

January 06, 2004

in 30 seconds

While I enjoy a little Bush-bashing as much as the next Berkeley resident (OK, probably not quite as much), Jeff Jarvis nails the problem with’s Bush in 30 Seconds:

The assignment only extends the problem with liberalism today: It’s all about being against. It’s all about no. It’s all about bad dog, bad. How much better it would have been to assign these creative masses to come up with ads that present a positive view of a better world without Bush and with a vision we can grab onto and support with pride.

So, I’m hoping for v2 of MoveOn’s program – “insert candidate here in 30 seconds.”

January 06, 2004

blog snapshots

For no particular reason, here are full-length screencaps of ten “randomly selected” weblogs. (If you care, all were through IE 6 on XP, with a browser window 850px wide.)

And for whatever reason, I get a kick out of comparing lengths.

January 05, 2004

recommended: middlesex

Highly recommended: Middlesex: A Novel, by Jeffrey Eugenides. Keywords include: Greece, Turkey, Detroit, New York, San Francisco, Berlin. Automobiles, especially Cadillacs. Race, class, gender, identity. Sex. Love. The American Dream.

January 02, 2004

no flowers, please

A 2003 resolution that paid off, at least in psychic terms: backup more frequently. In our x-platform house this is done through a shell script on the laptop that’s launched from Cygwin, rsync-ssh’ing over to the iMac and dumping everything that’s changed. Even over 802.11b it only takes ten minutes to do an incremental rsync once or twice a week.

Of course, this doesn’t account for the servers. And I absolutely do not post this in some sort of twisted, self-satisfied reaction to the fact that interconnected is most likely gone, gone, gone. That, friends, just makes me sad.

2004? More offline in my online. More on that to come.