August, 2006

Sunday, August 27, 2006

The Risk Pool

The Risk Pool: "Under the circumstances, one of the great mysteries of contemporary American politics is why Wagoner isn't the nation's leading proponent of universal health care and expanded social welfare. That's the only way out of G.M.'s dilemma. But, from Wagoner's reticence on the issue, you'd think that it was still 1950, or that Wagoner believes he's the Prime Minister of Ireland."

[bookmark]

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Tool Use Observed in 2nd Group of Chimps

Tool Use Observed in 2nd Group of Chimps

[bookmark]

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Giant nests perplex experts

Giant nests perplex experts: "'We're not really sure how this multiple queen thing works,' Ray said. 'It could be that the daughters of the original queen don't leave the nest or that the queens have developed some way to cooperate.'"

[bookmark]

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Ice geysers 'discovered on Mars'

Ice geysers 'discovered on Mars'

[bookmark]

Thursday, August 17, 2006

BizDev 2.0

BizDev 2.0: "Several companies -- probably more than a dozen -- have approached us to provide printing services for Flickr users, and while we were unable to respond to most of them, given the number of similar requests and other things eating up our time, one company, QOOP, just went ahead and applied for a Commercial API key, which was approved almost immediately, and built a fully-fleshed out service."

[bookmark]

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Terrorists' Strategy Revealed

Airline travel on Sunday was just as clumsy as news reports promised, although loading and unloading planes was a lot faster thanks to less carry-on luggage. If only U.S. Airways hadn't forgotten to actually transfer a bag to the connecting flight.

As I passed through the myriad of security checkpoints and liquid disposal opportunities, I heard several people speculating that terrorists have changed tactics from trying blow us up to trying to drive us mad.

"Now we art all here," said Hastur meaningfully, "we must recount the Deeds of the Day."

"Yeah. Deeds," said Crowley, with the slightly guilty look of one who is attending church for the first time in years and has forgotten which bits you stand up for.

Hastur cleared his throat.

"I have tempted a priest," he said. "As he walked down the street and saw the pretty girls in the sun, I put Doubt into his mind. He would have been a saint, but within a decade we shall have him."

"Nice one," said Crowley, helpfully.

"I have corrupted a politician," said Ligur. "I let him think a tiny bribe would not hurt. Within a year we shall have him."

"They both looked expectantly at Crowley, who gave them a big smile.

"You'll like this," he said.

His smile became even wider and more conspiratorial.

"I tied up every portable telephone system in Central London for forty-five minutes at lunchtime," he said.

There was silence, except for the distant swishing of cars.

"Yes?" said Hastur. "And then what?"

"Look, it wasn't easy," said Crowley.

"That's all?" said Ligur.

"Look, people —"

"And exactly what has that done to secure souls for our master?" said Hastur.

Crowley pulled himself together.

What could he tell them? That twenty thousand people got bloody furious? That you could hear the arteries clanging shut all across the city? And that then they went back and took it out on their secretaries or traffic wardens or whatever, and they took it out on other people? In all kinds of vindictive little ways which, and here was the good bit, they thought up themselves. For the rest of the day. The pass-along effects were incalculable. Thousands and thousands of souls all got a faint patina of tarnish, and you hardly had to lift a finger.

But you couldn't tell that to demons like Hastur and Ligur.

Fourteenth-century minds, the lot of them. Spending years picking away at one soul. Admittedly it was craftsmanship, but you had to think differently these days. Not big, but wide. With five billion people in the world you couldn't pick the buggers off one by one anymore; you had to spread your effort. But demons like Ligur and Hastur wouldn't understand. They'd never have thought up Welsh-language television, for example. Or value-added tax. Or Manchester. He'd been particularly proud of Manchester.

Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (Ace Books, 1996), pp. 8-9

See also: Bruce Scneier on movie plot threats

(Thanks to Mark Argent for the transcription and citation.)

[bookmark]

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Tar wrappers in subversion??!?!?!

Bill Bumgarner explains why Subversion needs opaque collections. Another example would be any development project that relies on third party libraries (or code, servers, etc. -- for example, freeze_edge in a Rails project). You want to keep the version of the library you use (and have tested against your code) under version control. Currently, the version of every file in the library gets tracked separately (technically, the directory version that this version is in). For most purposes, this is useless. If you need to update versions, you can't just update: you have to remove the old version, replace it, and re-add the new version. Otherwise, svn will get confused. For most purposes, this is worse than useless: If the directory is managed by an application, svn will get confused. If the directory is updated by software, svn will get confused.

Updated. Thanks to Jamie for pointing out the ambiguity in my original description of how svn tracks the versions each file separately. Jamie also pointed out something that I think bears consideration: most of the work on this needs to happen on the client. All the server needs to know is that a specific directory node and everything below it are handled in the same way as a single file. You could do a cheap hack of a solution without the repository knowledge by adding a client command which automatically removes the old version of a directory and inserts the new one. However, this wouldn't handle the case where the directory's contents are generated by software.

[bookmark]

Monday, August 14, 2006

Teen body clocks, early class schedules don't mix

Teen body clocks, early class schedules don't mix: "Ninety percent of parents mistakenly think their teenagers get enough sleep."

[bookmark]

Friday, August 11, 2006

Twenty five years of the IBM PC

Twenty five years of the IBM PC: "Computer firm IBM made technological history on 12 August 1981 with the announcement of a personal computer - the IBM 5150."

[bookmark]

Nice Rats, Nasty Rats: Maybe It's All in the Genes

Nice Rats, Nasty Rats: Maybe It's All in the Genes: "He found that the fox kits from Belyaev's domesticated stock did just as well as puppies in picking up cues from people about hidden food, even though they had almost no previous experience with humans."

[bookmark]

The Unchecked World of the Internet

The Unchecked World of the Internet: "Ten years ago Congress passed a law requiring blog operators to protect the public by self-regulation."

Let's see.... Ten years ago, we did have "a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun".

Ten years ago, Dave Winer had not started to post his thoughts to his web site.

Ten years ago, Cameron Barrett was had not yet launched his own web site.

Ten years ago, Evan Williams, Meg Hourihan, and their coworkers were several years away from realizing that the random writing on their web sites wasn't a distraction from their work -- it was their work.

Ten years ago, Brad Fitzpatrick was entering his junior year of high school.

Ten years ago, Ben Trott was five years away from being unemployed enough to have time to write some software so Mena Trott could have an easier time updating her web site.

Ten years ago, Joshua Schachter and a number of friends had not yet had the conversations that would lead to the creation of a shared site for interesting links.

Ten years ago, I had not yet hacked up some software for news sites to post notes about current events to my web page (only to lose them in a disk failure, post to a couple other sites for a while, and then resurrect the idea a couple years later).

Ten years ago, no one had come up with a name for this thing so Peter Merholz could mangle it.

Ten years ago, legislators were all about laws restricting speech on the internet, but I don't believe they had that much foresight.

[bookmark]

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Doping in Professional Sports

Doping in Professional Sports: "But unlike many security arms races, the detectors have the ability to look into the past."

[bookmark]

Revenge of the Irate Moderates

Revenge of the Irate Moderates: "Traditional beliefs like every person's right to a day in court, or the conviction that America should not start wars it does not know how to win, wind up being portrayed as extreme."

[bookmark]

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

First person identified from AOL Data: Thelma Arnold

First person identified from AOL Data: Thelma Arnold

[bookmark]

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Learned Aggressiveness

Learned Aggressiveness: "On July 7th, being the Democrat who criticizes Democrats ceased being safe."

[bookmark]

Monday, August 07, 2006

IE 7.0 Technical Changes Leave Web Developers, Users in the Lurch

Paul Thurrott (!):IE 7.0 Technical Changes Leave Web Developers, Users in the Lurch: "My advice is simple: Boycott IE. It's a cancer on the Web that must be stopped."

[bookmark]

Sunday, August 06, 2006

When Would Jesus Bolt?

When Would Jesus Bolt?: "Now we see what they really care about. It's not religion; they care about power."

[bookmark]

The state of IPv6 has to be seen to be believed

The state of IPv6 has to be seen to be believed: "The US government pretty well mandated a June 30, 2008 as an implementation date, or at least the OMB did. The Department of Commerce more or less laughed at them on technical grounds. So you have a deadline, reality and politics, any guess which will win out?"

[bookmark]

Pa. brewery seeks labor concessions

Pa. brewery seeks labor concessions: "Pittsburgh Brewing, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection late last year, warned that without a new deal, it probably will close and its brands will be made by an out-of-state brewer." -- and local beer distributors will move IC to the "imported" case.

[bookmark]

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Bush submits new terror detainee bill

Bush submits new terror detainee bill: "Scott L. Silliman, a retired Air Force Judge Advocate, said the broad definition of enemy combatants is alarming because a U.S. citizen loosely suspected of terror ties would lose access to a civilian court - and all the rights that come with it." - such as a trial, a requirement for some evidence of wrongdoing, etc. Have we declared war on someone yet?

[bookmark]

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

How shooting digitally changes acting

How shooting digitally changes acting: "I think shooting in digital changes acting as much as film changed stage acting, or as sound changed film"

[bookmark]

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Men Not Working, and Not Wanting Just Any Job

Men Not Working, and Not Wanting Just Any Job: "The jobless rate is now a low 4.6 percent, yet that number excludes most of the missing men, because they have stopped looking for work and are therefore not considered officially unemployed. That makes the unemployment rate a far less useful measure of the country%u2019s well-being than it once was."

[bookmark]