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My Archives: September 2003

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

random photo
Posted by CKL @ 02:57 PM PST
DSC00229 (98k image)

Monday, September 29, 2003

Posted by CKL @ 10:55 AM PST
I love usability guru Jakob Nielsen for his bluntness, if nothing else. People often accuse him of merely restating the obvious, which is arguably what he does in his most recent Alertbox column:

"The human brain's capacity doesn't change from one year to the next, so the insights from studying human behavior have a very long shelf life."

In his defense, I say that knowing something obvious is not the same as understanding it. Everyone knows that human brains aren't evolving annually, as stated above, but how many people really pay attention to that fact? So many people are focused on the latest fad or fashion that they forget the basics. There are reasons for everything. Sometime I wish I could make everyone sit still and watch several back-to-back episodes of Connections.

If it ain't broke, put down the power tools and back away slowly.


Sunday, September 28, 2003

Giant Battle Monster!
Posted by CKL @ 01:12 PM PST

is a Giant Squid that CANNOT BE STOPPED, projects a Purple Forcefield, and has a Long Neck.

Strength: 11 Agility: 8 Intelligence: 12

To see if your Giant Battle Monster can
defeat CKL, enter your name and choose an attack:

fights CKL using


Friday, September 26, 2003

over the hump
Posted by CKL @ 10:58 PM PST
Well, it's done... I gave notice at work today. I'm leaving PalmSource in two weeks and starting my new job on October 13th. In between, I'll be road-tripping down to San Diego for BuffyFest! It's all terribly exciting.

I probably spent more time than I needed to, agonizing over how to break the news to PalmSource. I wasn't very happy in Marketing, and things had gotten better since I moved to IT a few months ago, but in the process of making that transition happen, I re-examined and reconsidered many of my work-related priorities. And then this great opportunity came along...

All the "how to resign" web sites I looked up recommended not telling my soon-to-be-former employer where I was going, just as my friend Loren had suggested earlier this week. At first, I thought it seemed a rather impersonal and marginally hostile attitude, but then I realized that there are good business reasons for doing this, no matter how friendly you are with your co-workers. (Not that the advice sites actually tell you this-- they just tell you what to do, without really explaining why. Annoying. This is also why I hate Ann Landers and Dear Abby.)

It's a bit sad that the corporate world forces us into these roles, but such is life. In the end, I went with a minimalist resignation letter, choosing to give more information verbally and as I felt was appropriate in a variety of circumstances. So far, it's been working out, and I haven't told anyone at work where I'm going-- though I'm sure I will, eventually. It's all about reading the room.


Monday, September 22, 2003

Back on Earth
Posted by CKL @ 05:40 PM PST
I spent the last week at SpaceCamp-- well, Adult Advanced Space Academy, if you want to be precise-- which was tons of fun. Definitely want to do it again. I would have posted some HotSheet entries from Rocket City, but all the available computers had Internet filters which disallowed access to "personal web sites" (anything in the .org TLD, as far as I could tell). Sigh. I did take lots of photographs (eh), which will be online Real Soon Now.

Friday, September 12, 2003

Posted by CKL @ 09:30 AM PST
This seems to be happening more and more often: I get to the office, unlock my workstation, pull up Google News to check top stories, and find out that somebody has died. Today, there are two: Johnny Cash (1932-2003) and John Ritter (1948-2003). May they rest in peace.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Fun with math
Posted by CKL @ 10:30 PM PST
How much force does it take to send a DeLorean back in time? You can find out using Google Calculator. But it still won't help you with that freaky word problem involving two speeding trains, a fruit fly, twins, and the speed of light in a vacuum.

(Thanks to The Internet Tourbus for spreading the word!)


Posted by CKL @ 03:59 PM PST
If you've been following the recent flurry of activity surrounding the RIAA's "anti-piracy" campaign, you'll know about this chain of events:
  1. The RIAA collects data on people who have been running file-sharing programs on their home computers.
  2. The RIAA files lawsuits against individual users alleging illegal file-sharing activity and demanding up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation.
  3. One of the users named in such a suit turns out to be a 12-year-old girl.
  4. Not surprisingly, countless people rush to defend the hapless moppet against the corporate behemoth.
  5. The RIAA settles with the girl-- or, rather, her mother-- for $2,000.
Now, let's just ignore for a moment all the nitpicking-- doesn't COPPA imply that the RIAA's original data collection was illegal?-- and focus on the fundamental, flawed premise:
RIAA President Cary Sherman during a Senate Judiciary hearing [claimed]... that most people don't shoplift because they fear they'll be arrested. "We're trying to let people know they may get caught, therefore they should not engage in this behavior," Sherman said.
Hmm. This sounds familiar. Where have I heard that tune before? Oh, yeah:
[A] simple truth which Jim Baen is fond of pointing out: most people would rather be honest than dishonest. He's absolutely right about that. One of the things about the online debate over e-piracy that particularly galled me was the blithe assumption by some of my opponents that the human race is a pack of slavering would-be thieves held (barely) in check by the fear of prison sentences. Oh, hogwash...

The only time that mass scale petty thievery becomes a problem is when the perception spreads, among broad layers of the population, that a given product is priced artificially high due to monopolistic practices and/or draconian legislation designed to protect those practices. But so long as the "gap" between the price of a legal product and a stolen one remains both small and, in the eyes of most people, a legitimate cost rather than gouging, 99% of them will prefer the legal product.

Thank you, Eric Flint; and you, gentle reader, should check out the Baen Free Library, where you can read the complete text of Eric's rant and download free-- that's right, FREE-- e-books by Mr. Flint and others, direct from the publisher.

Don't believe the doubletalk about "artists' rights" or "intellectual property." Especially don't believe those dopey "Movies, They're Worth It" ads that are now polluting a theatre near you. The entertainment industry is a business, and the people trying to protect their investments are not the artists or craftsmen slaving away behind the scenes.

CDs or theatrical releases are only a method of distribution. Is going to see a movie better than renting a DVD or watching it on cable TV? Is buying a CD better than downloading a song from iTunes or recording it off the radio? Maybe. It depends on who you talk to. It depends on your personal preference.

It's very dangerous to equate freedom with capitalism.

One last thing: some of the news stories on this brouhaha reference the fact that music sales have declined in the past few years, and attribute this to the rise of online file-sharing. Whoa there, Edward Tufte! All you've got is coincidental correlation. Post hoc ergo propter hoc is not a sufficient defense, and you sure as hell shouldn't use it offensively.

The world is changing, and you may delay the future, but you'll never stop it with fallacious arguments.


Friday, September 5, 2003

War! What is it good for?
Posted by CKL @ 09:15 AM PST
In a San Francisco Chronicle story about Jessica Lynch's $1 million book deal, Mark Morford says:

The fabric of war consists not of gallant battles fought by hardy soldiers for some noble collective good yay yay go team, but of manufactured tales of valiant brotherhood and purebred heroism designed to make the vile pill slightly less bitter. War is, of course, vicious and primitive and disgustingly violent and not the slightest bit gallant...

Meanwhile, over at Reason Online, Virginia Postrel reflects:

War is stupid and wasteful and cruel and necessary. "People die," says Buffy. "You lead them into battle, they’re going to die. It doesn’t matter how ready you are or how smart you are. War is about death. Needless, stupid death." The next day, she goes to war. And good people die.

I don't know if "liberating" Iraq was the right thing to do. And I'm not sure it would make me feel better if I thought it was. But I believe these words, which Virginia distills from Buffy's moral universe:

Evil must be fought. Evil never goes away.

The world is a very big place, and I am very small. I do what I can.


Firefly: The Motion Picture
Posted by CKL @ 08:56 AM PST

"Firefly is moving to the big screen. After taking his Buffy the Vampire Slayer feature film and turning it into a successful TV series, Joss Whedon is about to do the reverse with another one of his creations. Whedon has teamed with Universal Pictures to turn Firefly, a TV cult favorite, into a feature film.

"In addition to having adapted it for the big screen, Whedon will also make his feature directorial debut with the project. Plans are to see Firefly go into production in first-quarter 2004.

"Universal recently acquired the rights to Firefly from 20th Century Fox Television, where Whedon's Mutant Enemy Inc. production company has a television deal."

-- The Hollywood Reporter


Wednesday, September 3, 2003

What's Curtis Watching? Fall 2003
Posted by CKL @ 11:55 PM PST
The following demonstrates my extreme geekiness and need to get a life. Enjoy.

"What's Curtis Watching?" is a comprehensive list of network TV shows for the 2003-2004 season (excluding potential midseason replacements) and brief, possibly snarky descriptions for many shows. You can view it sorted by premiere date or show name. Deciphering the color-coding is left as an exercise for the reader. Understanding why I've been staying up late to futz with this... well, that may be impossible.

Anyway. Some of the new shows which pique my interest:

Some of these will be good. Most will suck. I hope none will cause permanent damage.


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