December 01, 2002

OK, sometimes SNL can be funny

Meredith and I watched the Saturday Night Live episode last night with Senator John McCain. It was actually funny, unlike most of their recent episodes. SNL seems to do some of its best work when they do political comedy -- and what better subject when you have a real Senator on the show?

The best skit was the 'Hardball' interview with an ACLU representative and John Ashcroft (played by McCain) talking about the war on terror. The skit did a really good job of capturing the absurdity on both sides. From the ACLU's "The Taliban prisoners at Guantanamo Bay are being denied their basic human rights. They can't practice their religion, they're not allowed access to their weapons, they can't even confer with their terrorist leader! It's appalling!" to Ashcroft's "We�ve got some real great stuff in the works. There's one plan that would make the Arab language, or anything that sounds like it, illegal."

It's hard to beleive that McCain actually did it, but it was SO funny.

His poking fun at Barbara Streisand ("Do I know how to sing? About as well as she knows how to govern America!") was also great (sorry, Linda).

Posted by Mike at 08:39 PM | Comments (1)

December 07, 2002

Christmas Shopping

Today, while running some errands, I was reminded of why I try to do all my Christmas shopping online.

It's not the crowds. The long lines don't bother me that much. Parking further away has never seemed all that terrible -- I can walk a few extra feet. None of this is it.

It's the people. No, not even the store employees -- it's the customers. They are ALL grumpy. Crabby, grumpy, sullen, whiny, angry customers. Nothing is going well for them. A crowd of people in such a uniformly bad mood is hard to find -- except in December. Why is everyone in such a rotten mood? This is the Christmas spirit??

Posted by Mike at 05:00 PM | Comments (1)

December 08, 2002

Server hell

Well, I've finally finished cutting over to a new server. This is the third hosting provider in the 21 months we've had this domain. The last one worked reasonably well, except that the domain name servers went unresponsive entirely too often.

Now I'm trying yet another hosting company. This one provides virtual server access, where you get your own virtual machine. The good part is that I get to configure everything on the server the way I want it. The bad part is that I have to configure everything on the server. Ugh. At any rate, I think it's working now. I'm hoping to cut the email server over to the new machine soon, but I haven't gotten that far yet.

At any rate, hopefully this one will work better.

p.s. Saturday Night Live last night returned to its normal ways -- i.e., it totally sucked.

Posted by Mike at 01:35 PM

December 11, 2002

Star Wars on the really, really big screen

Last night, Meredith and I joined anne and Dave at The Tech Museum in San Jose to see Star Wars: Attack Of The Clones on the imax screen.

First piece of advice to anyone else considering this: sit high. We sat about 2/3 of the way up and still spent a good part of the night with our necks bent over backwards. The movie, converted to imax format, doesn't take quite the entire dome, but close. And remember the chase scene very early in the movie through the skies of Coruscant? Wow. Dizzy.

The also edited the movie, cutting a few scenes out to get it to 120 minutes. Anne pointed out that they probably had to in order to get the film to fit on the imax reel.

Posted by Mike at 10:13 PM

December 12, 2002

all the broken links

Oops ... when I moved everything to the new server, I installed a new version of MovableType and just imported all the entries from our blogs from the old server into the new one.

In doing so, all of the individual archives have different file names. So now all the Google search queries are either landing on non-existent URLs or on blog entries that have nothing at all to do with the search query. On the other hand, given what some people search for when they find our site, they probably weren't finding what they were after, anyway.

Posted by Mike at 12:26 PM

December 14, 2002

Night on the town

Last night was the Microsoft holiday party. The party was scheduled to be on a boat, the San Francisco Belle, which would leave port at 8 PM and return just before midnight.

Except that the weather yesterday was terrible. We left the house at about 5 PM, and it took almost an hour and forty-five minutes to make it to the city. We checked into our hotel, changed, and then wound up having to walk to the boat in order to make it on time. Now, the pier wasn't very far -- but boy, was it wet. We made it, looking mostly like drowned rats, and were immediately accosted by the photographers asking, "Want your picture taken?"

As it turned out, the boat never left the dock -- they decided that the weather was too rough. It was plenty rough just sitting in the dock.

The party was fun, despite the rocking boat. We left around 11:30 and walked back to our hotel (it wasn't raining by that time) and turned in for the night. Our room had a wonderful view of the bay.

We got up this morning, enjoyed brunch in the hotel restaurant, and then wandered around the Embarcadero Center for a bit. We ended up at the Landmark Theatre and watched "Bowling For Columbine". The film was really good, and really disturbing. It opens with Michael Moore applying for a bank account at a bank in Michigan where you get a free rifle when you open an account. Yes, they keep rifles in the bank. Stunning... Definitely worth seeing.

Posted by Mike at 08:53 PM

December 17, 2002

Googlebot's curious DNS

What is it with Googlebot? Googlebot is the technology that Google uses to 'crawl' web pages as it builds its index of the web. Every so often, it crawls, enabling people to find the pages on our web site with underaged boys in underwear. Wait, no, that's not it.

A little over a week ago, I changed the DNS entries for to point to the new server (the one hosting the page you're reading now). Usually, it takes about 72 hours for all the Domain Name Servers worldwide to flush their cache and get the new entries. Looking at the logs of our old site, I can see that most people got switched over sometime on the 7th. went from 2072 hits on 12/6 to just 48 on 12/8.

But by yesterday, 12/16, it still got 36 hits. All of the hits from about 12/10 on have been from Googlebot. For some reason, the DNS servers that Google uses aren't clearing the cache and getting the updated information. Weird.

Posted by Mike at 09:03 AM

December 18, 2002

When liberals drive me crazy

"Some of these high-speed pursuits have resulted in harm and even death to innocent bystanders. It's an ongoing problem and it's about time the Police Commission changed its policy."

That's a quote from Ramona Ripston, executive director of the ACLU of Southern California, as cited in a article about the Los Angeles police considering banning police car chases.

This quote, and others I've seen like it from people commenting on police chases, conveniently overlook a simple fact: the police were chasing people who chose to run. Yes, it's a tragedy when the idiots the police are chasing crash into people. But it's a tragedy caused by the people running, not by the police.

Do we really want a system where criminals know that to get away from police, all they need to do is drive really fast? Is that actually better?

Just because it's easier to change the behavior of the police than the criminals doesn't mean it's the fault of the police.

Posted by Mike at 09:40 AM | Comments (1)

December 19, 2002

The Two Towers


Meredith and I saw The Two Towers yesterday with anne, Dave and various other people from Apple. It was incredible. I want to go see it again.

Most reviews I've read of the movie have been overwhelmingly positive, with a few exceptions. The Mercury News review of the film was particular insipid. The stupidest quote is, perhaps: "Even without the obvious connection to the twin towers brought down on Sept. 11 -- a symbolic link which the picture does not seem to shy away from ..." I don't even know how to reply to something that inane.

Bottom line: go see it. The adaptation of the book to the movie is as good as you could possibly hope for. The effects are nothing short of stunning. The battle scenes are amazing. Gollum is amazing. Ents are cool! This is the fastest-paced three hour movie I've ever seen.

Posted by Mike at 09:07 PM | Comments (2)