Thursday, February 28, 2002

It's been about 59 days since I started my journey on the road sans Starbucks. The thing I miss the most is not the coffee. I've been getting that at home now and some of the coffee guys out on the street sell decent "american" coffee as we called it in our family. No, the thing I miss the most is the space. I travel a lot for business. I consult so even if I'm working for someone on a long term contract I still need a remote office outside my clients place to do things I need to do when I'm not on their clock. Starbucks was the perfect spot for quick presentation fixes, coding, interviews, and meetings. Now that some Starbucks in NYC have installed wireless LANS I'm really missing them. Ah well, for this year anyway I'm going to really rough it.
The Empire Striking Back? First some do-do at Microsoft asks "Death of the Browser?". Next, Don Box takes a swipe HTTP. Anyone else uncomfortable? HTTP seems to be doing just fine. It almost sounds like Microsoft is either trying to wind the clock backwards or ensure the net is significantly twisted into something they control. Think I'm going overboard? They already control the browser space. What browser are you using sheep-boy? Wake up people.

Wednesday, February 27, 2002

Whew! Pushing out a new template is nerve-wracking! I'm sure it's breaking in a bunch of browsers but hey it looks good in mozilla. Drop me a line and let me know what you think of the redesign. I'm popping a cold one. Peace.
Holy-moly, what a scenario. Check out this piece called Whispers in the Land. I talked about this long ago here and here. There are some links posted in support of "Whispers" that can be found here. This is serious. Not necessarily because it's true but because it could be true. Even if it's only 1/2 true we're in trouble.
I have been reduced to a typeface.

Tuesday, February 26, 2002

John Dvorak is a Big Fat Idiot Who is this guy and who in God's name gave him a word processor? I mean seriously, Mr. Dvorak, I think there are a lot of things you don't get, besides blogging and The Cluetrain Manifesto. But let's try to stray from personal attacks here and address the central point. While you seemed to have inflamed the blogging community a bit, which can be best summarized by this response, you have done nothing but inflame. You offer no constructive criticism of the ideas and hence you offer up noise. Regardless of how vapid you think all this blogging is your thoughts on the subject are shallow at best. (Even though what you do could be considered blogging.) Try thinking before you type next time, eh? Or maybe since your a Journalist try to contribute something that resembles an original thought on the subject. Thousands of people a blogging on all different subjects. Why? Who cares? Let them be. Let's see what happens. Interesting things are going to happen and are happening despite the trolling of wind-bag journalists who have no clue. Blogging is like the web. As megnut says it's "bottom-up". On the net that's where the exciting things happen. Its how the web was created.

Monday, February 25, 2002

Anyone else hear of these guys? I followed a link from an interview with John Perry Barlow on News.com where he calls them "Grateful Dead 2.0". They've got mp3s up o the site for downloads. So far I like what I hear.

Friday, February 22, 2002

I went over to Marek and saw this. I too am shocked and horrified by Daniel Perl's death. Here was someone who could have been a conduit for communication, he could have helped spark dialog, but now he is dead. I am so sorry and feel sick that it ended this way. My heart aches for his wife and unborn child. And to the perpatrators may you rot in hell. Violence will beget more violence and you will loose regardless of how many people you kidnap and kill, regardless of how many buildings you destroy, regardless of how many innocent people you kill. You will be wiped from the face of the earth if you try to fight your way out of the situation your in. Don't look to Viet Nam for inspiration. What happened there is different. You are waking the sleeping giant. This is a dangerous game. Payback is a bitch. You have no idea what your doing. To our leaders, stop screwing around with bombs in the desert. Fix the real problems. Stop talking peace and start making it. Be smart. Protect the people. Not necessarily with violence but with intellect and compassion. Stop talking like a character out of a bad B-movie. Yes people have done evil but so have we. No one is without sin. Stop dropping the damn ball on us. Engage these fuckers before they show up on 42nd Street with a nuke-in-a-box. Notice I didn't say give in but start talking and listening. There is more than one way to get things done.
Any significantly advanced program's bugs are indistinguishable from features.

Thursday, February 21, 2002

Sorry for waxing geek here but the circumstances of how I make a living are intricately tied up in all of this industry nonsense over Sun's J2EE and Mircosoft's .Net. These two "BigCo"s have been fighting over the hearts and minds of developers for decades now and I'm getting a bit tired of being fough over by people that couldn't give a shit about where they are leaving me in the process. Much like the used tissue I just tossed in the wastebasket under my desk just now. Yes I'm getting sick again. Sun has been championing their Java J2EE "platform" for a while now. I must say I'm comfortable here. But lately they've been getting into pissing matches over the protection of the J2EE Certification brand. To you non-industry types out there it means you product can't be called J2EE compliant unless you pay for all of the testing code and time to pass all of the test suites Sun requires you to pass for compliance. I'm not sure what Sun is thinking but maybe their falling stock price has something to do with it. Java may have not turned into the direct success Sun was hoping for but it sure helped sell a lot of servers. So what's up with this change of attitude to the people who have latched on to J2EE? The free software and open source communities have really run with Java these days. Free versions of many J2EE technologies are available today. This lowers the cost of entry and it hasn't erroded the market at all. Ask BEA. And isn't it about time sun loosened the grip a bit on Java? Why not open source it? Java could use some creative transfusions from the thriving always transmuting geek agora. This is not the time to move in the other direction. Don't tighten the grip on Java/J2EE now. It's no good for anyone. Microsoft on the other hand, in it evil intention to kill Java, has now releast .Net studio which includes C# (thats pronouced "See-sharp") a pure rip off of Java. But in true MS fashion they have not only ripped off the environment but they've possibly improved on Java by adding some really nice features we geeks love. They are also commiting heavily to web services which is very interesting but far from unique. Many companies, including Sun, have made similar bets. Everyone is doing web services. It promises to do for programs what the web did for information. It makes it easy for programs and systems made by different vendors to communicate and work together in hopefully meaningful ways. Sounds great, right? Yeah. The only problem is lock in. Microsoft will give you this and more but you have to stick with them. You can't run this stuff without Windows and well you know the story. I know both of these companies are fighting for their lives but I wish they would understand one thing. I don't need either of them to survive. I can't live exclusively with one or the other to survive. It's reality. A world dominated by Sun is no better than the current world dominated by Microsoft. Don't make me choose sides. Just give me good tools that I can use to get stuff done. Tools that I can take with me from place to place where it doesn't matter what operating system the company is running. Imagine carpenters who need a different brand of hammer when working for someone who is using different brand of nails. Give me tools that I can use for my smallest cost concious customers up to the other guys who will spend beaucoup dollars for big iron and software. I think you could do this if you guys would look at the world through my eyes. You know a real customer. A customer that generates demand.
SPAM Subject Line: STEVE, You've got another chance to scratch! Yeah. *scratch* *scratch* Thanks! Thank God for that email.

Wednesday, February 20, 2002

Heh. Enron's new voice mail message can be played here.
After spending more than a few moments educating my friend on the technical zeitgeist last night over drinks, I found myself once again whipped into a fervent froth when the conversation turned to Microsoft. Then this morning I see this article by Scott Hacker which explains a little known, but extremely anti-competitive, practice that Microsoft uses to control the boot loader on all Intel systems sold with windows. It essentially makes it impossible for Dell or any of the other PC manufacturers to sell systems that dual boot. i.e. Systems that can boot both Windows and say Linux. The article concentrates on Be computers struggle to gain market share in this space by co-existing with Windows but the manufacturers were unable to ship BeOS on any Intel hardware because of these restrictive and secret Windows OEM agreements. The article goes on to describe how the US DOJ blew making this argument in their case against Microsoft. Check out the article. It sheds some new light on a very ugly practice. There was one quote that I have to share because for me it drives home the essential problem with Windows.
Don't bother trying to create a better commercial desktop OS ? it doesn't matter how hard you try, how many engineers you throw at the problem, how much money you spend, or how many years you put into it. Microsoft owns that space and, worse, the public is totally complicit with that fact. People will not stop using Windows. It is a losing battle.
This is a pretty serious statement. It depresses and enrages me all at the same time. It simply does not have to be this way.

Tuesday, February 19, 2002

You have to love sites like www.opensecrets.org to really help lift the lid on that stinking garbage can of political influence. I don't have to tell you how many contributions Kenny-boy and Enron gave to the Republican Party and who knows what they got in return, but the site starts to attempt to track some of the payback. Anyone who steps into a voting booth should check this site out. You do vote don't you?
Just got back from Boston. It's such a civilized place to live. Not at all like New York. Sometimes this are just seems like such a shit-hole to me. I wonder why I put up with living here. I must need to go back on vacation. I think I've come back too soon.

Thursday, February 14, 2002

San Valentino
For this was on seynt Valentynes day, Whan every foul cometh ther to chese his make... Chauser -- Parlement of Foulys
There were actually three Saints named Valentine and although I'm sure each must of had their taste love, divine or earthly, we don't wear our hearts on our sleeves today because of them. But those two lines of verse, written by the day's master poet, hundreds of years ago, sparked a few to keep the day for love. Chaucer you saucy devil you. If he were alive today he'd probably be writing hormone fueled rock lyrics. I don't mean that Backstreet Boys crap. I'm talking three-piece, power chord, Marshal stack amp blowing stuff. The kind of music that drove us all wild in the 60s and 70s. Wild with love. Layla! You got me on my knees! I'm in the sunshine of your love, Sugar Mags! Inna-gadda-da-vidda, baby! Don't you know that I love you?!? Poetry. Love. It's the very essence of life. You can't live without either. Oh, you can go through life without them but you won't really be living. So go find your mate and make it man. Because life is so short. She said she loves you and you know that can't be bad. No, never bad man. Never bad.

Wednesday, February 13, 2002

Hold, on please. Use it on the next jerk that calls you with a "special offer".
Hey! Leave that Billionaire Alone.... A friend emailed me this Fox News gem, which I'm sure is making the rounds. Our buddies from the surgically altered Fox desk apparently have their snare drum tight eyebrows in a micro-furrow over Ted Turner calling the 9/11 hijackers brave men. dictionary.com defines bravery, or its root brave, like so:
brave: 1. Possessing or displaying courage; valiant. 2. Making a fine display; impressive or showy: "a coat of brave red lipstick on a mouth so wrinkled that it didn't even have a clear outline" (Anne Tyler). 3.Excellent; great: "The Romans were like brothers/In the brave days of old" (Thomas Macaulay).
Valor then seems to be important so:
valor: Courage and boldness as in battle; bravery
Which brings us to:
courage: The state or quality of mind or spirit that enables one to face danger, fear, or vicissitudes with self-possession, confidence, and resolution; bravery.
I think were back where we started. By definition these men, or at least some of them were brave. The unwitting saps who helped hijack the planes and had no clue they would be roasted on impact, may have been bold but they weren't brave. It's easy to be bold when your holding a weapon, even a simple box cutter, against a bunch of unarmed people in a confined airplane cabin. But the guys at the controls, those men were as brave as they come, but they were also immoral, misguided, confused, vengeful, blinded, enraged, hateful and hopeless. So what if they were brave. Bravery is overrated. They probably weren't kind, compasionate, loving, caring, thoughtful, independant, free thinkers. I think most people confuse bravery with some kind of white-hat western morality. The definition of the word says nothing of the sort. I'm not mincing words here. Language is all we have to communicate. It's important we know what words mean when we use them and when we take them out of context to beat someone we don't like over the head with them. So who cares that Ted Turner thinks those guys are brave? No one should. This isn't what we should be debating. But perhaps some people should wonder why news agencies would stir up this kind of sentiment. I think people are a bit tired of pot-shot journalism. I know I am. Give us some real news for a change. How about some real insightful analysis of real issues? Stop spewing this excrement on the airwaves and on the net. We are not that stupid. At least some of us are above this form of mass marketing. Yes that's right mass marketing. You don't think Fox is actually in the news business do you?

Tuesday, February 12, 2002

Crimes Against Humanity Milosevic is now sitting in front of an international court and will soon be confronted with his crimes. They are of course terrible and whether he sent the orders or just provided the fertile soil for the seeds of hatred to blossom into savagery isn't important. Thousands have been killed in campaigns of "ethnic cleansing". So as he sits there I wonder what is spinning in the minds of other heads of state. I'm sure some sit sweaty palmed wondering if they are next or if they will be accused by the people they oppress or by some outside nation that takes up their cause. Maybe even Dubbya is thinking about how the Afgan campaign will play out in a few years time, once we get the perspective of time. All the while another criminal, Kenny-boy Lay, pleads the 5th. While his crimes pale in comparison to Milosevic, Lay was head of an organization that defrauded millions of people out of their savings. Stuffing the people?s pockets full of Enron funny money while Lay and the other Enron execs filled their pockets with real cash. Screw the company options people. Take the currency. Legal Tender. Maybe that's why I'm a consultant. The lesson for today? Don't fuck around. The people you step on today are the ones that are going to help you into the chair, strap you down, and shoot 30,000 volts through your ass. Or they might be the ones to just spend their taxpayer dollars to see you sweat it out infront of a federal grand jury. Too bad you won't do any hard time. I might be moved to send you and economy sized tub of Vaseline. How's that for voice......

Monday, February 11, 2002

Self-Death Memory-less reincarnation == death. What's the diff? If I die and come back as a chipmunk but I have no prior memory of my life then it seems philosophically/phychologically equivalent with death. That is unless my soul is somehow disconnected from my memory/intellect, in which case how does it remember the 10 Commandments? Maybe there is no soul? Maybe I am just intellect? These questions of self, online selves, are all tied up somehow in this central riddle. Maybe this is justs a pale projection of my intellect into this ghost world of bits. (Or maybe my intellect is what is pale.) I think I could use some stimulation. Maybe some Kant to improve my rants. Kant hurt. Connection. Being engaged with the people and happenings about me. I'm not sure when it sort of slipped. Sometimes I feel like Billy Pilgrim but instead of being dislodged in time I feel disloged in my own head. In my own sense of who I am or who I think I am. Which self am I really? Is there ever a singular notion of self? Is anyone really just one person? I can tell you gentle reader that from my angle I'm not so sure. That is not to say that there are 13 of us rattling around inside my skull but I'm sometimes confused on whether I am one person with may facets or one person with too many notions of self. I guess either option makes life interesting, but which one is healthy?

Saturday, February 09, 2002

Engage! I've just picked up Gonzo Marketing: Winning Through Worst Practices by Christopher Locke. I'm blown away. He lobs some real melon-sized perls from the pages of this book. I'm digesting them as fast as I can. It's inspiring to think that all of this business cruft can be shed and a sense of honesty and passion can be restored to everyday business. I've got to get back to it. My mind is on fire. Where is the damn scotch?

Friday, February 08, 2002

Greta van Susteren Is A Freak, But Fox News is Freakier Many people have seen the stories regarding Ms van Susteren defecting to Fox News and the supposed deal that included the requirement that she have cosmetic surgery to change her appearance. Being a not so avid night cable news consumer, I only caught her new image last night. I was horrified. This conversation took place just before I switched over to Adult Swim on the Cartoon Network: "She looks like an alien.", said my wife. "She's a freak.", I replied. "She's not a freak. She just looks like an alien.", she countered. I'm sure similar heated debates are raging in front of the old glass teat. But it really deserves to go way beyond her physical transformation into something that looks like another famous talking head, Clint Howard's alter-ego in the "Corbomite Maneuver" from the original Start Trek series. It really has to do with what Fox News is telling us about what they are doing. It's all about packaging. What's inside doesn't matter. "Check out the chicks! You don't even have to listen to what they are saying." I mean this is the worst type of insult any news organization could foist on the public. I'm constantly amazed at the capacity for our culture to poo-poo all sorts of violent, sexual, or other wise controversial content on the airwaves, but when a entire network is constructed around sex apeal and shock journalism no one bats an eye. I guess it's because they provide fair and balanced coverage and I guess there is a segment of the population out there that's lapping it up. The rest of us will at least be able to change the channel. Worse than the whole silicone injected broadcasts they are now selling is the terrifying exposition of someone selling their soul for money. Afterall, that's the bottom line isn't it? "Here is the bag of cash now all you need to do to get it is ________." Only Greta knows what else she gave up besides her appearance. Greta I'm sorry I called you a freak, but I wish you would have thought a bit more about what you did and where you went to work.

Thursday, February 07, 2002

I believe David Wienberger's "hyperlinks subvert hierarchy" mantra. That's when I remembered this link http://www.microsoft.com&item%3Dq209354@www.hardware.no/nyheter/feb01/Q209354%20-%20HOWTO.htm . A prime example. So not only can corporations have "voices" but now they can be mimicked by numerous digital Rich Littles. Heh.
During my "terrestrial" commute this morning I passed the news stand on the A train platform and saw this gem:
I bought the damn rag and laughed my ass off all the way to Fulton Street. The stories were as funny as anything in The Onion. Give it a try. I think we could all use the laughs.
If anyone is wondering what to get me for my birthday this year, I'll take one of these SoloTrek Jetpacks. Seriously, I saw plans for somthing like this jetpack on Ebay once and I thought it was a goof. Who needs a Segway?

Wednesday, February 06, 2002

My ongoing struggle to stay Starbucks free has saved me, so far, about $80 dollars. This has been pretty stress free and I haven't been compensating in other areas so the savings is for real. I know it may seem like chicken feed but for a guy who has so little self-control when it comes to legal consumables this is big. Now if I can only kick my bad eating habits.

Tuesday, February 05, 2002

I think winter is finally here. We've been having such mild weather lately that I was wondering if we were just going slide into spring. Not so. It's now officially freezing outside. There was actually snow on the ground when I left home for the daily trek to Manhattan. I think this might be a metaphor for my feelings on the economy around here. I'm not sure we're pulling out of this funk and I'm not seeing any signs in our business that things are turning around quick. Maybe it's too early to tell but no one seems to be calling with their first quarter budgets burning a hole in their pockets. I'm betting we're going to be in this cycle for a year. Nothing to do but keep at it I suppose.

Monday, February 04, 2002

Michael Moore launches this open letter to George W. Bush. It's a scorcher:
"What shame do you feel tonight, George, for the lies you have told? What shame do you feel using the dead of 9-11 as a cover for your actions, hoping that our sorrow for those lost souls and our fear of being killed by terrorists would distract us from what your boys and Kenny Boy were up to during those horrific weeks in September and October?"

Saturday, February 02, 2002

I just upgraded the family iMac to Mac OS X. Wow. This was the easiest UNIX variant install I've ever done. I was very happy to find out that emacs was pre-installed. (I'm such a geek.) My kids were glad to find out that all of their games seemed to run just fine, if not, better than before. I took a bunch of notes and will probably do a full write up at some point. I must say I'm a die-hard lunix guy but I am very impressed with OS X.

Friday, February 01, 2002

Ai-ya-yai. This is a tough one. Should a muslim woman be forced to show her face to get a picture drivers license? My solution was to take her picture, sans berka(sp?), and then give her a little black berka colorforms(tm) sticker to let her put over her picture. Then she can at least peel it off in front of female police.
Lots of police downtown today. There must be some spill over event about to go on because there is a "high-end" tent city in front of the stock exchange. My wheels are turning a bit after reading this interview with Evan Williams. He mentions some spec for a tool to aggregate and sift through all of the content that is flowing through things like Blogger. It might be easier to do if it supported RSS. Then it might be a matter of searching through scads of RSS content. Of course then you would need a spiffy interface to make it easy to synthesize it all.