January 01, 2004

Why targeted advertising would be an improvement

Meredith and I just finished watching a episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. The episode was all about a 14-year-old girl who had been raped and then later tossed down a flight of stairs by her rapist. Cheery stuff.

In every single commercial break, there was an ad for a phone sex hotline. Literally every break.

Who watches a show about a 14-year-old getting raped and thinks, "Damn, I'm horny. I need me some phone sex"?


Posted by Mike at 10:14 PM

January 04, 2004

How to detect hype

Search amazon.com for Bluetooth. The results:

86 items in Electronics
22 in Wireless Accessories
9 in Cell Phones


555 in Books

Posted by Mike at 09:02 PM

I need that problem

Bank of America kept airing an ad during tonight's Sugar Bowl broadcast for their 'private bank', with some guy talking about how great it was to help him with the complexity of managing all his weath: oil fields, paintings, real estate...

I know it's hard for me to keep track of all of my oil fields. I really sympathize. As do many people who watched the game tonight, I'm sure.

Posted by Mike at 09:16 PM

January 05, 2004

Cat v. Candle

Lately, we've often been lighting candles on the dinner table. Our cat, Jake, almost always sits on the table while we eat dinner. He doesn't eat our food; he just sits there. A lot of times, he'll reach a paw out towards one of the candles, then pulling back as he realizes that candles are, in fact, hot.

Not this time, though. While we were both watching him, he struck at the base of the flame with his paw and immediately pulled his paw back -- after snuffing out the flame. I would never have believed it if I hadn't seen it myself.

I guess he doesn't like candles as much as we do.

Posted by Mike at 10:09 PM | Comments (1)

Referrer spam

I'll give spammers this: they think of ways to spam people that haven't even occurred to me.

In case you don't know, web logs usually contain a link to the referring site -- i.e., if you clicked on a link on site A that takes you to site B, then the log for server B will show that that access came from site A. It's an interesting way to see how people are finding your web site.

Recently, though, I've been very puzzled by some of the referrers that have shown up in the web logs for mohea.com. I've started seeing more and more porn sites showing up in the logs. It seems reasonably safe to assume that none of these sites are really linking to our web site, so why the link? It was obviously spam, but what was the point? The server logs are private -- no one but Meredith or I ever see the logs.

But, of course, that's not always the case: a lot of web sites (and blogs) now include links to the most recent referrers to their site. So, by spamming the referrer logs, they get their porn sites to show up on other people's sites and blogs. To stop this, people are starting to develop referrer blacklists, similar to Jay Allen's MT-Blacklist that blacklists blog comment spam.

(You can read more about this phenomenon here.)

I really hate these people.

Posted by Mike at 10:27 PM

January 09, 2004


I went to a memorial for Elaine Ung today down in Cupertino. Elaine died suddenly late last month. She had worked as a tester for Apple for a number of years, and on the QuickTime team for last several years. During my time on QuickTime, I got to work with Elaine a lot. She was probably the best tester I've ever worked with, at Apple or at Microsoft. Her bugs had an amazing level of detail to them. And they were not ever wrong. The fastest way to silence an engineer protesting that a bug couldn't possibly be real was to point out that Elaine had written it.

Elaine was the only tester I've ever worked with that, if she had written in a bug that it happened "only between 1 and 3 AM during a full moon", you would just decide to come in at 1 AM during the next full moon so that you could reproduce and fix the bug.

Posted by Mike at 08:56 PM | Comments (2)

January 10, 2004

Details matter

On the MSNBC home page, it shows the local weather. Right now, it displays:

Mountain View, CA
Updated 12:56 a.m. ET Jan. 11, 2004

That's nice. What would be even nicer, of course, is if they could figure out that Mountain View, CA is not in the Eastern time zone, and show me the time it was updated in my actual time zone.

Attention to detail really does make a difference.

Posted by Mike at 11:18 PM

January 20, 2004


Tonight I fly up to Redmond (just outside of Seattle) for a three-day class on the internals of the Windows kernel. It should be really interesting -- it's certainly the first training I can remember looking forward to in a very long time.

As it seems to always work out, such events, which seem so well-timed when planned months in advance, now appear to be at the worst possible time. We're in the middle of a huge crunch at work, and my team is responsible for a lot of the stuff that needs to be done.

But I'm still going.

Posted by Mike at 09:00 AM

January 23, 2004

Post this sign, no matter what

The restaurant / bar I just ate at has a notice posted on the outside informing people that, according to Washington state law, persons carrying firearms into an establishment that serves liquor, whether or not they have a concealed weapons permit, is illegal unless that person is a law-enforcement officer. Violators will be arrested and prosecuted ... blah, blah, blah ...

What's funny about this?

The bar in question was in the Seattle airport. In the secure zone.

Posted by Mike at 07:50 PM

New flash: anti-gay activists are stupid

Wired news is reporting on the dismay of the "American Family Association" on discovering that a poll they placed on their web site on whether or not gay marriage should be legal, was then discovered by "homosexual activists", who then voted.

So ... let me see if I understand this. This group posted a poll on their web site, which they say that wanted to take to Congress, to show that most people are against gay marriage. They posted this on their web site, hoping that only members of their organization, who presumably are against such an idea, would vote.

And now they are shocked, shocked and appalled, that, instead of getting the skew they wanted in the results, they are getting a different skew.

Posted by Mike at 08:05 PM

January 24, 2004


I've just spent the last couple of hours playing EA's Return Of The King game on my Xbox. It's a lot of fun to play.

The best part: that I know one of the engineers who worked on it. It's very cool getting to play his game. Seeing his name in the credits is very nice.

Thanks, Russell!

Posted by Mike at 11:15 PM | Comments (1)

January 25, 2004

Microsoft dev blogs

A lot of Microsoft developers are blogging now about what they're working on at http://blogs.msdn.com/. There are a lot of devs from the .NET and CLR teams that write there. It's a fantastic resource. If you're into .NET programming at all, check it out.

Posted by Mike at 01:17 PM

Mac OS X adoption rates

You hear a lot from Apple these days about how great the OS X adoption rates have been. At Macworld Expo this month, Steve Jobs went as far as to announce that, "the transition [to OS X] is officially over."

And certainly this is true with the people I know. I can think of just one person offhand that I know is still running an older version of MacOS — and that's on an iMac that his (little) kids use.

So I'm always surprised, then, whenever I look at the web logs for mohea.com — consistently, Mac OS 9 and earlier versions account for 30-50% more hits than Mac OS X. If anything, I would expect the numbers to be skewed even more heavily towards OS X on my site, since every Mac user I personally know that's accessing this site on a regular basis (a list that includes Meredith) is using OS X.

So — who knows. It's obviously silly to draw conclusions on OS adoption rates based on the statistics of one seldom-visited site, but it's a little curious nonetheless.

Posted by Mike at 09:08 PM | Comments (3)

January 28, 2004

Virus hell

Like most people, I lost count of the number of virus-infected emails I got yesterday. (See this Microsoft page for more information on the virus.)

Adding insult to injury in all of this was the number of well-intentioned auto-replies I got from other mail gateways, saying that the email I had sent to one of their users was infected. Typical was this one:

A message containing a virus was sent from your e-mail address. It is very likely this machine (or any other you use for e-mail) is infected!

At one time, this was indeed how viruses were often transmitted. A user would inadvertently pick up the virus, and then might email the infected file to another user.

But those days are pretty much gone. Now, viruses forge the 'From' address all the time. I didn't send a single virus-infected email out yesterday, but lots of infected PCs sent out dozens or hundreds of emails claiming to be from various mohea.com addresses. The odds of getting a virus with a legitimate 'From' address are virtually nil.

Until we have authenticated-sender in email, I think it's past time for the mail gateways to give up on the bounce messages to infected emails. I bet none of the bounce emails actually got to anyone really infected, but they probably scared a lot of people who weren't. And they certainly didn't help reduce the deluge of useless emails flying across the Internet yesterday.

Posted by Mike at 07:59 AM

January 30, 2004

Long week

This has been a very long week. l am so glad it's finally over. on Wednesday, one of the PMs in my group told me that l looked exhausted, and that was only half way through the week.

But l do have a new toy. I'm writing this on a new Tablet PC. I finally decided it was time to get a new laptop that was faster. The Tablet part seemed like a nice bonus.

Time to go get dinner. And a beer.

Posted by Mike at 09:02 PM

January 31, 2004

Everything has bugs

My amplifier in our living room locked up this morning. I thought the remote was dead, until I tried hitting buttons on the front panel, and that didn't work, either. Had to pull the plug so it would restart.

Who'd have thought that we'd one day wish for reset buttons on home appliances?

Posted by Mike at 11:35 AM | Comments (1)