Fun Flash music toy, the Dub Selector. There are six different dub machines to play with. I really like this genre of music toy. [Metafilter]
In Europe, poultry has flavour - chicken is actually yummy! In the US our birds are bred so much for industrial processing that they have no flavour, just like oranges and tomatoes. Great article in the New York Times about this, The Hunt for a Truly Grand Turkey, One That Nature Built.
I'm writing my O'Reilly talk into an article, and I'm fanatic about my images looking good. See how nicely centered and anti-aliased that little picture is? I use xfig to do vector graphics, fig2dev to convert to PNM, then netpbm to scale the images nicely. But netpbm was missing a tool to say "make the image this size by padding it on all sides" (pnmpad isn't that smart). So as a procastrination tool, I wrote up the ugly shell script pnmpadtosize. Unix at its best!
So no, my DSL doesn't always work. Running loopping to ping every 10 seconds, I've had seven DSL outages in the past four days.
Outage for 360 seconds started Sun Nov 18 12:03:34 2001
Outage for 50 seconds started Sun Nov 18 13:24:00 2001
Outage for 90 seconds started Sun Nov 18 18:56:25 2001
Outage for 100 seconds started Sun Nov 18 21:32:55 2001
Outage for 40 seconds started Mon Nov 19 08:19:43 2001
Outage for 50 seconds started Tue Nov 20 21:10:13 2001
Outage for 900 seconds started Wed Nov 21 01:59:12 2001
PacBell DSL seems to be dropping my link every day around 10am, for about 5 minutes at a time. So I wrote loopping, a small Perl script that pings my link every N seconds and notes failures. Yeah, trivial hack, but it always takes longer for me to do these things than it should.
Writing installers for Windows packages is a pain in the neck. The commercial packages don't work well and have these funky proprietary scripting languages for the install script. A better alternative may be the Nullsoft Installer, used mostly in WinAmp related programs. Free software, simple and workable.
I'm working on buying a house. Everyone told me how much of an advantage it was, but I never really understood it until I built a spreadsheet to test it out. For instance, if you put 20% down on a $300,000 house your monthly payments are about $2000, but after you count the tax advantage it's really more like $1300! Crazy.
Kevin Poulson on dark address space: parts of the Internet that can't find a route to each other. Result is by Internet researcher Craig Labovitz, although I can't find this paper. Some hints by Poulson that this could be related to folks hacking Internet routers to make safe spaces for themselves. Fun stuff. [RobotWisdom].
Way back when, the Internet was only 30 hosts wide. That is, the time-to-live field on packets in the common TCP/IP implementation was set to 30. If two hosts had more than 30 hops on their route, they couldn't talk to each other. The Internet grew bigger than a diameter of 30 sometime in 1992 or so, and all those TCP/IP stacks had to be updated. I think most stacks now set the TTL to 255, the maximum.
Crop circle research has been an amazing site for a long time, deeply detailed analyses of people who want to believe. There's a wonderfully detailed analysis of a formation near Arecibo, which a remix of the 1974 message SETI folks sent to the stars. Photo to the far right is originally from Lucy Pringle's crop circle photography.
I've picked up the new game Civilization III, which has the exact same horrifying addictive qualities as its predecessors. The best fan site seems to be CivFanatics. The forums even had a fix for the ugly font bug - remove the Windows installed copy of LucidaSansRoman. [Memepool]
Disturbingly (in)appropriate for the time, but Flight 404 is a poetically lovely Flash work about the thoughts of people on a doomed (fictional) plane.
Fun little utility, http://surfraw.sourceforge.net/. Command line tools that know about web service sites, so you can run google Pixelvision from the command line and have it do the right thing. He has little scripts for about 20 sites. The big drawback is it just invokes lynx; I'd rather it used wget, scraped the result, and formatted it as domain-specific text. Hmm, sounds like a good hack. (PS: I love Debian. I just typed "apt-get install surfraw" and away it went, like magic.) [sweetcode]
So someone hacked Passport. Pretty bad, too.
By cobbling together a handful of browser-based bugs with flaws in Passport's authentication system, Slemko developed a technique to steal a person's Microsoft Passport, credit card numbers -- and all, simply by getting the victim to open a Hotmail message.
The Register has some details about MessageLabs. About $.66/user/month for spam scanning, about $2.20/user/month for virus scanning. MessageLabs claims they have over 500,000 users, so that gives a revenue estimate of at least a million dollars a month. Not so bad, although I bet their operations are expensive. I wonder how well their service really works? There's a lot of value in centralizing this kind of filtering.
Pixar has made their short films available on the Web. A complete history of film-quality 3d rendering in seven easy downloads. [Slashdot]
There's an editorial on Advogato with more concern about SourceForge's long-term stability. Good comments - a reply from the SourceForge manager himself, also some info on alternatives: Savannah (GNU), Tigris (collab.net?), and BerliOS (GMD Fokus). Also lots of reports of ad-hoc arrangements people make.