March 21, 2002

Mike tries to write

I've never quite understood the appeal of web logs (or blogs), even though they appear to be all the rage all over the net. Now, despite always saying that I would never have one, I appear to have created just that. Why?

I enjoy writing, and my wife keeps telling me that I'm good at it (she may be biased, though). Maybe having this online will encourage me to write more. This isn't intended to be an online diary, but rather a place to stick random things that I write. Maybe some of it will be good. Maybe a lot of it will suck. We'll see...


Posted by Mike at 10:09 PM

March 22, 2002

The emperor has no clothes. And is ugly to boot.

My day started by finding this piece, talking about how AOL-Time Warner's directive to all of their properties to use AOL for corporate email has finally been rescinded. Evidently AOL's wonderful email service isn't so wonderful for themselves. At least where I work, we use our own email products. (If you don't want to believe something bad about AOL from MSNBC, read this version on CNN, a company wholly owned by AOL-Time Warner.)

Later in the day, I found news that Sen. Fritz Hollings has finally introduced his Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act (CBDTPA) as a bill. The bill purports to protect the interests of copyright holders by mandating that all computer hardware and software have built-in copy-protection abilities. While I'm all in favor of copyright holders being fairly compensated -- I actually do buy software, music, movies, etc. -- this is just insane. The bill as written is so broad, it would evidently make the DOS "copy" or Unix "cp" command illegal. Imagine a world where every piece of software had to include copy protection support. Even simple applications like SimpleText or Notepad would evidently require new support. Woe to the person who releases something without this support. The penalties are by definition the same as for violation of the DMCA, where violators "... shall be fined not more than $500,000 or imprisoned for not more than 5 years, or both, for the first offense." Quite a hefty price to pay for that shareware utility that lets you copy and organize pictures. 

What's really depressing is that this is such a Democrat-sponsored bill. In addition to Hollings (D-SC), co-sponsors include one Republican and four other Democrats, including our own Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). Democrats are supposed to be the champions of the individuals, but in recent years have shown themselves as anything but that on any kind of intellectual property / privacy issue. No doubt the fact that Democrats have long been heavily supported by Hollywood has something to do with their enthusastic support of this bill, which couldn't have been any more slanted if it had been written by Walt Disney Chairman Michael Eisner.

More coverage of the bill is here and here.

Posted by Mike at 11:45 PM | Comments (1)

March 23, 2002

Athletes? Yeah, but check out those swimsuit models!

As a graduate of the University of Tennessee, I've always appreciated Women's College Basketball. I've never gotten into basketball that much, but I always liked the Lady Vols. Unlike the men's team, who, when I was a student, sucked in all categories, the women managed to consistently win games and actually graduate. It was the 49ers who claimed the slogan 'winning with class', but I always thought it should apply to the Lady Vols.

After watching my beloved team play tonight, beating BYU to advance to the 'Elite 8' (when did someone invent that term?), I looked to for news. I managed to load the page at just the right time in the ad rotation to see all three of the main banner ads hawking products based on the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition.

This wouldn't be quite so bad if it weren't for the fact that CNN/SI's coverage of women's basketball is awful. It's not that I object to the existence of the swimsuit edition. Rather, it's to the fact that the swimsuit models are the most prominent placement of women on even the pages devoted to women's basketball. Every day, on the main home page, as well as the CNN/SI page, there are headlines about the men's tournament. When I've looked, there has frequently been no mention of even the existence of the women's tournament, much less any news about it.

When the brackets for both tournaments was announced, CNN had easy to find links to pages about the seedings, links to printable brackets, and articles about the pending matchups. For the men. Click on the link for Women's Basketball, and you got a sterile looking page with no articles, no pictures, and links only for the scheduling information for the season that had just finished. Want to see the brackets? Too bad. (The information is up now, but the page still looks like crap. Frankly, the swimsuit ads were about the only notable visual element on the page.)

There's some hope, though. ESPN's women's basketball page appears to have actually had some design put into it. Pictures -- of the athletes, not swimsuit models -- appear, as well as numerous articles about the sport. And they had link's to the women's brackets the very first time I looked.


Posted by Mike at 11:21 PM

March 26, 2002

Knoxville is SO cosmopolitan

Last night, we went to Buca di Beppo in Palo Alto for a friend's birthday celebration. It was fun, and it was good to see people. I was a little sad at missing the Lady Vols and the Vanderbilt Commodores playing for a spot in the Final Four, and even more annoyed that I had forgot to set my UltimateTV to tape it. Oops. Happily, though, the bar in the restaurant had a TV that was showing the game. Meredith and I walked over to the bar to watch the final minute of the game, next to two men in suits who were sitting at the bar. Soon, we heard: "... yeah, Knoxville is such a great city. It's so much more cosmopolitan than Palo Alto is. They've got all these great sports teams, even a hockey team. There's lots of big high-tech companies there..." This went on.

The dictionary defines cosmopolitan as:

  1. Pertinent or common to the whole world: an issue of cosmopolitan import.
  2. Having constituent elements from all over the world or from many different parts of the world: the ancient and cosmopolitan societies of Syria and Egypt.
  3. So sophisticated as to be at home in all parts of the world or conversant with many spheres of interest: a cosmopolitan traveler.
Now, I really enjoyed my years in Knoxville, and I think it has a lot of things going for it. But this description does not particularly bring Knoxville to mind for me. Certainly not when compared to Palo Alto. Meredith's theory is that the guy was trying to impress her.

Oh, and the final result? Lady Vols win! Coach Pat Summit now holds the record for taking a team to the Final Four -- this is her 13th trip.

(Continuing my rant from last time... the main headline on right now is indeed about the Women's Basketball Final Four. On CNN/SI? It's about baseball. Which hasn't even started yet.)

Posted by Mike at 09:58 AM

March 28, 2002

Damned allergies...

This morning I woke up with my left eye half-swelled shut due to allergies. Most allergy pills fall into one of two categories for me: those that relieve the symptoms by knocking me unconscious for the next several hours, and those that are roughly as effective as sugar pills. Chlor-Trimeton belongs in the former category, and Claritin, one of those new wonder drugs, falls into the latter category. I'm sure that Claritin works wonders for some people, but for me it's useless.

I also discovered this morning that this web site was down. Well, mostly down -- it could load the home page, but nothing else. After several hours, the problem was fixed. The service provider says it was caused by a 'buggy automatic update'. Hopefully these updates will be either less buggy or less automatic (and more tested) in the future.

This evening I received a notification that as of 4/30, AmexMail is shutting down their email service. Since 98% of what I get on that account now is spam, I somehow doubt that I'll really miss it. Still, it's another milestone in the passing of the free Internet services.

I watched another episode of Enterprise tonight. At least it's not falling into the trap that Star Trek: The Next Generation did of rehashing old Star Trek plot lines during most of the first season. Unfortunately, the show isn't actually interesting yet. The episode I saw tonight, "Acquisition", was just kind of goofy. Not terrible, but not actually good, either. It wasn't until its third season that ST: TNG started to be good, so maybe it will take time for Enterprise as well. Maybe they'll eventually lose the awful theme song, too.

Stupid news item for today: 'Corpse' Turns Out to Be Sex Doll

Posted by Mike at 10:46 PM