April - May 02
Sept. - Oct 01
I'm back from Ireland but its gonna take a week or so to reclimatize so don't expect to much from me for a few days. Some brief Irish notes: Their economy is going through the roof, the food is much better then you'd expect, don't even think of driving there if you've never driven on the left before (take this quiz to see if you're qualified), and don't think you can go drink for drink with an Irish Guiness drinker even if you're a pro in the states. More to come on Ireland as soon as my head heals.
I'm going to Ireland until March so KIPlog is on hiatus. There's plenty of others out here to read. Check out some of my favorites on my links page. Here are a few other suggested readings you don't see linked on every blog:
Stardust - making sense of new internet stuff. Lots of links, lots of multicast stuff.
Joe Clark Toronto writer, editor, developer. Web design and industry links, gay stuff and music. Extra points for mentioning the Magnetic Fields.
Mitch Wagner 24-Hour Drive-Thru Web Log Here's the kind of blog I like - good information with good commentary. Too many blogs are succumbing to the this is cool (you don't have the slightest idea where you're going) style of linking.
Tech Dirt Tech business news. Again good information with well-written commentary. Reading techdirt is also a good lesson on how to link in the context of your commentary.
If you're looking for a journally blog to read, try those which are more thought provoking, than the "I'm so tired cause I'm a teenager" whiny ones. Try NQPAOFU, syntheticzero, lemonyellow.
Come on back in March. I've got a few special articles planned and I'll let you know all about what happens in Ireland.
Charles Shulz dies
Charles Shulz's dies hours before his last Sunday strip was distributed. His characters never got old and sick. We look for deeper meanings when Mr. Death does shit like that. I didn't seem that his last strip gave us any last bit of wisdom or any insight into anything. Except for the fact that nobody's getting away from the Bastard. Who do you think was calling Snoopy on the phone?
Metlife.com uses the peanuts characters shamelessly to illustrate how to deal with the loss of a loved one.
Need to know how many people there are right now? Use the US Census Bureau's population clock. Need to know other census data like your town's block by block family income? Then try the Tiger Map and use the Map Census Statistics to control the data you want to see.
Clinton is going to hold a meeting Tuesday with government officials and Internet business leaders to "work through whether we're doing everything we can now" about week's attacks on popular Web sites.
Syl sez had a rant last week about the new slow lane. Ever wonder why traffic doesn't behave the way you think it should? Read Physics for Bored Commuters. It explains the traffic wave, which is why traffic slows into a stop-and-go inch worm effect. His first experiment "Rather than repeatedly rushing ahead with everyone else, only to come to a halt, I decided to try to drive at the average speed of the traffic." is the way I drive in traffic mainly because I drive a manual and like to keep a constant speed rather than shift a million times on the way home. Of course other cars try to fill in the gap in front of me because of some deep-seeded need to get in front of another human. For more on this in-car psychology read the Principles of Driving Psychology.
Lack of updates are caused by: three Websites which need to be planned out before I leave for Ireland next week, planning for Ireland, forgetting to save my most recent bookmarks before doing a clean install yesterday, sleep, lack of sleep.
Thank you Slave for warning me that the The Chicago L is going to be messed up tonight because of a water main break "Riders who normally take the Purple Line north to the Belmont station will have to use other lines, officials said." The first time in a month I take the train and its messed up. It was screwy this morning, but they never told us anything.
I heard that the island of Tuvalo sold its Domain (.tv) for more than its GNP. Although I can't find anything on it yet. "In 1998, Tuvalu began selling internet addresses in its
TV domain and reportedly has derived revenue from use of its area code for "900" lines." I'm still looking.
The Space Shuttle is readying "to collect data for the most detailed, near global topographic map of the Earth ever made" It's unbelievable that 80% of the globe will be scanned in high resolution by radar on a single, 11-day Space Shuttle mission. It'll take one to two years to make the maps.
This is what I have been waiting for on the internet since GG showed me my first online satelitte photo on some gopher server. The web is now complete for me. Topozone now has free topo maps online. "We've got every USGS 1:100,000, 1:25,000, and 1:24,000 scale map for the entire United States". Thank you Bird on a Wire, thank you Found Objects, thank you topozone.com.
Linguistic archeaology (again)
NY Times article What We All Spoke When the World Was Young tells of the work of Dr. Joseph H. Greenberg of Stanford University, who is comparing "core words in the hope that they will sort themselves into clusters representative of their historical development". Liguistic critics reply that words are not stable enough for that sort of long-term comparison - they change too much over time. Dr. Greenberg claims certain words are extremely stable. Just like the article: Relationship between Basque and the Eskimo language which we doubted, Dr. Greenberg makes the correspondence between the Nilo-Saharan languages and Eskimo with the word finger.
Fragments from Elian! The Musical Mandy Patinkin plays Castro and Sigourney Weaver is Janet Reno. Check out the other McSweeneys stories like the Thought Police Blotter.
If you don't know this by now you should - Doubleclick is now actively tracking individuals while they browse. We've talked about Web bugs here and how they can be used to identify you, but now DoubleClick has come up with another way to identify you with cookies. This is an important step towards the inevitable - the telemarketing call that says "hey, we noticed you visited porno.com today and thought you might be interested in some of our products. No? OK, I'll give your wife a call later to see if she may be interested."
I can think of lots of other scenarios too. If a site can tell who you are, it would have the ability to redirect you to the information it thinks you'd be interested in - or scarier - the price it thinks you can afford. As a site builder I could think of lots of reasons why I wouldn't want a particular demographic to see a certain page.
Other related links on the subject:
via Camworld -privacy discussion about Doubleclick
Neale from wetlog has come up with a cookie master.
How to read a 200 year-old document
"Perhaps the fentiments contained in the following pages are not yet fufficiently fathionable to procure them general favor...." Did Thomas Paine have a lisp?
Earlyamerica.com's FAQ page explains why you see an f where an s should be in old documents, why a 200 year-old document is often in better shape then a two-week old newspaper, and more.
The Valley of the Shadow is an awesome site covering two communities during the Civil War. Chuck-full of really cool maps, newspaper articles, soldiers' dossiers, personal diaries etc. etc. A Civil War scholar could spend days here.
Eatonweb's 1.25.00 entry discusses using bold for Web page skimmers and keeping anchored text in context. I use headings to grab people scanning down my page and try to keep my highlighted links in some sort of context so maybe I can index things someday. What really bugs me is I like to put quotes in italic but the way Web browsers render italics is barely readable. I'd switch to a different style and
"put quotes in code tags" but that brings up several other issues.
You can tell some designers or design houses by the fonts they use. What's Your Type?, a feature in HOW magazine, explores this with a few interviews with designers "Any type designer who has a favorite typeface is a like a shepherd who favors one sheep,"
Jazz is evil
"A number of scientific men who have been working on experiments in musico-therapy with the insane, declare that while regular rhythms and simple tones produce a quieting effect on the brain of even a violent patient, the effect of jazz on the normal brain produces an atrophied condition on the brain cells of conception, until very frequently those under the demoralizing influence of the persistent use of syncopation, combined with inharmonic partial tones, are actually incapable of distinguishing between good and evil, right and wrong." A 1921 Ladies' Home Journal article, Does Jazz Put the Sin in Syncopation?, declares jazz as the blame for the immoral conditions of young people. They were'nt able to stop jazz from corrupting America's youth and evolving into hip-hop, but thankfully Flapper Culture and Style died off. Or maybe it just evolved into Goth.
Music while you work
While on the music subject, do you listen to music while working and how does it effect your work? I personally only have music on when HTML coding at home, and its something fast and simple like Amphex Twin, Coil, Orbital. Lyric-ee stuff (i.e. Stephen Merritt) distracts my mood, jazz really throws me off (and makes me write immoral code) and only resort to Skinny Puppy, FLA, or Ministry when I start falling asleep. Sonic Caffeine (again from HOW) explores how music influences creativity. I'll look for more on this when I get some time.
This U.S. Trademark History Timeline traces brands and trademarks since cave paintings. Check out the examples in their image gallery. That's a women sucking on a small horse's behind as a sore throat remedy.
Absurd Web site of the Day
Turn-of-the-Century Children's Books
What children might have read at the turn of the century (the previous one). With links to the online texts.
NOVA's Feb. 1 show will feature some experimental archaeology including a trebuchet (big-ass catapult) built at Loch Ness. Apparently this is quite a hobby. The Grey Company's Trebuchet page aims to "celebrate the joy of using them today as a wonderful sporting toy". Want to get thrown by one? Trebuchet.com can help.
Know your bhalu
Get Acquainted with the Sloth Bear!
Dan "Lake Effect" Hartung did the investigation of the Relationship between Basque and the Eskimo language link. His analysis: Intriguing hypothesis undermined by sophomoric research. It's a case of trying to prove a theory by looking for information, rather than trying to find a theory by looking at information.
I've discovered the hardest thing about doing a blog like this: an information input block (like a reverse writer's block). I don't know how many times I see a page on the Web and say, "wow, I gotta read this, it looks interesting". But I find I either don't have the time nor the attention span to understand and reach my own conclusions. I hold off commenting on these pages until I can read them, but by then, I'm on to something else. Sometimes an article looks interesting but just don't have the time to look into the subject to make sure I'm not advocating some sort of hooey. Here's an example: this page on The Relationship between Basque and the Eskimo language may be a well-researched, important theory, or it may just be a rambling conjecture based on a few linguistic coincidences. I can't tell since I haven't time to read it this morning. (Whatever it is there's lots of other interesting looking stuff I haven't had time to read on Linguistic archaeology throughout the author's pages.)
At the risk of being ostrasized by the world, and being the target of the DMA's assasins, I'm going to come out of the cold and admit that I once worked in telemarketing. And I didn't just read scripts to housewives and people trying to eat dinner. I lured young high school students, college students, the desperate out-of work and the transient into the hellish world of dialing for dollars. I taught them tricks and skills which gave them the ultimate power - to sell something over the phone to someone who wouldn't buy the same thing from their mother. I have some inside secrets to share (though they'll kill me if I tell too much).
I've seen a few rants about this plague on Looka, Ethel the Blog (01.18.00 entry) and Breaching the Web. Looka points to the Anti-telemarketing source, which gets in your face with ugly design and tries to sell you anti-phone sales stuff. (although I like the anti-ten cents a minute scheme (I get ten cents a minute, all day? all year? wow thats $52,560!). Some of the tormenting ideas are funny but once you've been in the business you can make any newbie telemarketer cry with much more creative methods. I once told a rep who called my house to pack up his things and go home because he was fired. I knew the office he was calling from, so I gave him a story that I was the "test call of the night" and that he had messed up the script. I knew the manager working him that night and I said "he'll mail you your check, hang up and go home." The manager called me back a few minutes later pissed as hell, screaming that I had sent one of his best salesman home.
The Anti-telemarketing site at least gives the truth about the DMA's DO NOT CALL list. The only marketers who pay any attention to it are those who buy the list to call it. The buyers hold on to it and call it after a while. They have an edge since the number hasn't been bugged for awhile.
There's some good anti-telemarketing scripts and links at Junkbusters. It has a better description of the system. But neither site really describes how the system works. And knowledge is what it takes to be able to disarm something.
The real secret is nobody actually dials a phone, the calls are dialed by a computer (unix or xenix mostly, but some are NT's), then run through a crude voice recognition program when the call is answered. It determines if there's a person on the other end or an answering machine. It does this by listening for a pause after you say hello. On your answering machine there's no pause (-helloyou'vereached555-1111pleaseleaveamessage). Thats why you hear that gap before it clicks and you hear the rep. If the machine detects that pause it sends the call to a waiting rep, who's sitting in front of a screen with your name on it. The rep asks for a mispronounciation of your name and proceeds to read a script.
The script is designed to control the conversation and lead you into buying. Luckily 99 percent of all people working the phones are awful at it. Telemarketing companies can't train the average employee well enough before they quit from the abuse (from the managers not from residents), so they bombard the phone lines every night with as many calls as possible, and try to fill as many seats on the "predict-a-dialer machine" as they can so the machine runs optimally. Not enough reps means too many calls get "abandoned" or hung up on cause a rep was still on another call.
OK, so how do we stop it? You can't. You can: request everyone who calls to put you on the DNC list, have fun abusing them (IMPORTANT POINT: these callers have your address in front of them! - don't call them names that you wouldn't call a big muscled guy in a pick-up truck with a fully stocked gun rack!) or just hang up. All these methods may slow calls down but not forever. Hanging up quickly when you hear nothing on the other end is the best way. You don't get worked up from the call, you save time, and the call may be recorded by the rep as a bad number since he didn't hear anything on the other line by the time he got it. But usually your number will get back in the call rotation list anyway.
Try this experiment - leave a message on your answering machine with a gap like- Hi,......(3-4 seconds). Your machine will be full the next day of messages that sound like this - hello? hello? or sometimes you'll here the rep talking to the guy working next to him, cause he never heard the beep.
Ethel the Blog's suggestion of leaving a disparaging message to phone sales people isn't working cause the phone people are afraid of him (they never even hear his message), it's because his number slowly gets worked out of the rotation by the software that does the dialing and logging of the calls cause it never gets answered. It eventually winds up in a pile of crappy numbers on a disk that gets tossed or worked back into another calling "campaign". His method works though - if you begin your outgoing message with something like "hi I'm screening my calls right now so give me a second to answer the phone while this message is playing" then you pick up the phone, you'll reduce the your number of telemarketers to almost zero. Simple technology, can be be beat by simple technology. Let me know your results.
Fonts for charity
FontAid, a font designed by 27 designers who each got to do a letter, is on sale for $10 and the proceeds go to UNICEF to help war refugees.
Going to Ireland next month so I better start planning. I case anyone's interested, here's a Ireland link page I just built to help me with research and planning. It'll get a bit more detailed as I learn more, but for now all I'm interested in is how to find the best pubs. Maybe I should be concentrating more on how to renew my passport.
North America will see the moon turn red during a lunar eclipse thursday at 11:05 EST. On the same subject, GG sent me the link to The Moon Illusion - When the Moon is near the horizon it appears larger in angular size than when it is high in the sky. I had seen this before on some other blogs but didn't have time to read and understand it.