I just bought myself a new tiny digital camera, the Canon Elph S400. So far so good. 4 megapixels is nice and the user interface has improved noticably over the old S200 I'd used before.

The feature that surprises me the most for being useful is the TV playback mode. Very comfortable looking at photos on a TV screen, and handy in a hotel room.

Trying to find an honest online camera store that will ship quickly and reliably is unnecessarily difficult. I ended up at B&H for rapid shipping. Amazon has it for $480 via J&R.

  2003-03-29 03:49 Z
Why would you perform CPR on someone who's bleeding to death?
  2003-03-27 05:12 Z
Yes, there's a way to gamble on the war. TradeSports is running a futures market on how long Saddam will be in power. The graph below is the current odds that Saddam will be gone by the end of April. Thanks to Nick for pointing out this is a good 'war mood' indicator.

  2003-03-25 03:24 Z
I've been enjoying playing Rainbow Six: Raven Shield. The gameplay is great and the graphics are incredible; some of the maps are truly beautiful.

But the game makes me so damned tense! I find that's true of many good video games. Hacking Python is more relaxing.

  2003-03-23 21:59 Z
The Smoking Gun has video and images of Bush having his hair combed moments before announcing the start of war on Iraq. Thanks, Marc!
  2003-03-22 01:55 Z
I knew I shouldn't have spoken so soon: Lisa Rein has disturbing photos and video of cops hitting protestors. More on the BoingBoing discussion.
  2003-03-22 01:45 Z
The White House is vowing a strong retaliatory response after the BBC aired live video of President Bush getting his hair coiffed in the Oval Office as he squirmed in his chair and practiced on the teleprompter minutes before Wednesday night's speech announcing the launch of military operations against Saddam Hussein.
Story (via technorati). Anyone have the video?
  2003-03-21 17:54 Z
The San Francisco paper today has six pages on the protests. 1400+ arrests. Rob Morse's column describes it best.
It started at 7 a.m. Thursday with an operation as precise as anything staged by the Special Forces. Platoons of protesters arrived simultaneously at various intersections of the city and shut them down.

According to the paper Thousands of people roaming the streets in an organized/chaotic way, hundreds of cops doing battle to control the situation. In Portland in the early 90s when this kind of thing happened the cops went apeshit and started bashing heads. In SF it sounds like the police just calmly did their jobs. Could have been a lot worse.

  2003-03-21 16:42 Z
Over 1000 protestors arrested in San Francisco today. Blocking streets, disrupting traffic, generally trying to shut things down.

12 years ago, that was me. It's not me now and I'm of mixed emotions. Blocking traffic isn't going to stop the war. But doing nothing encourages complacency. It is wrong that the US is off killing thousands of Iraqis and our biggest concern is which freeway offramp might temporarily be shut down.

  2003-03-21 03:53 Z
  2003-03-20 04:00 Z
I'm at a loss on things to blog, as discussed with Marc and Rael. I don't want to be a boring warblog, but I can't think of anything else to say.

Gillmor's own concerns are expressed much more clearly than mine:

Bush and Ashcroft will whack away at liberty for everyday people ... They will seize on the sure-to-come domestic attacks to insist that government has the right to know absolutely everything about you and me, but we have absolutely no right to know what the government is doing with our money and in our names.
  2003-03-19 18:46 Z
I've been so upset about the Bush administration's war policy towards Iraq that I thought I should put my stake in the ground, state my fears, then re-examine them one, two, three years from now.
  1. The war will end swiftly, with 1000:1 Iraqi to US casualties
  2. The first few months of victory will be a proud time for the US, evidence of Hussein's brutality and thankful Iraqis.
  3. Bush will be reelected.
  4. After a year or so the other Arab nations will express great discomfort with continued US occupation of Iraq.
  5. Arab pressure will make the current Israel situation untenable.
  6. Within three years the majority of Iraqis will hate the US occupational government.
  2003-03-18 03:09 Z
Want to know what contemporary war looks like? Viddy this video (7 minutes WMV, alternate). It features attack footage from an AC-130 raid in Afghanistan. The images are from the gunner's point of view. The voiceover is remarkable.

Watching the video you have no real sense that there are actual people dying down below. Just little bright blobs on a dark backbground. The soldiers are remarkable, too. So many people involved, so calm! War machine.

Listen to the voices at the end:

That one's still crawling there
I know those two guys I saw them flying apart
I saw him die earlier

Thanks to Diffuse Shadows for the link and Obey the Fist for the video. I think it's interesting how most blogs picking this up are pro-war.

  2003-03-15 23:05 Z
With all of the horror going on in the US government right now, I figured it was high time to read 1984 again.
  2003-03-14 03:54 Z
Why is the credit card entry usability of ecommerce web sites so bad? "Enter card number: (no spaces or dashes)" says the form, over and over again, on site after site.

Isn't this what computers are for? Can't the code remove the punctuation for me? And why do I have to tell them whether the card is a Visa, Mastercard, or Amex? The first digits on the card make that clear.

It's like the site wants to make it hard for me to buy something. Is this some sort of Visa requirement, to only accept the number exactly as typed by the user?

  2003-03-13 16:25 Z
"Update. Now Serving in All House Office Buildings, 'Freedom Fries,'" read a sign that Republican Reps. Bob Ney of Ohio and Walter Jones of North Carolina placed at the register in the Longworth Office Building food court.

The other day I was picking up my shirts at the Freedom laundry when I met a handsome man with his hair in a long Freedom braid. I invited him back to my house for some Freedom wine and before I knew it we were Freedom kissing. Turns out he's into Freedom active; we had a lovely time and then he left, promising to write me Freedom letters. I sure hope I didn't end up getting the Freedom disease. That'd be doubleplusungood.

  2003-03-12 16:07 Z
One of the niftier DHTML/Javascript hacks out there is tablesort.js from WebFX. Just drop some boilerplate Javascript into your HTML and presto! all your tables are sortable on a mouseclick. This hack has been around since 1998; they've recently updated it, but the old one works fine for me.
  2003-03-11 03:52 Z
I'm looking forward to Rainbow Six: Raven Shield. The demos are great. Multiplayer may finally be the successor to Counterstrike we've been waiting for, and single player is a lot of fun.

These Tom Clancy games are creepy military porn. Fans love them for their realistic weapons, tactical planning, corpses, etc. I confess to an uneasy enjoyment of this kind of fantasy. Hitman 2 was awesome.

What surprises me is how much of the fan activity for Raven Shield is European. I would have expected something this militaristic would be most popular in the US. Maybe the realism of it turns off American Rambos.

PS: Amazon has a $10 rebate.

  2003-03-09 20:06 Z
Congratulations to Cory for having his book reviewed in the New York Times. That's quite an accomplishment for a young novelist, particularly for science fiction. Cory's the most connected person I know.

The review is a bit goofy but does have one insight I particularly liked:

his novel's ad-hocracies ... offer a knowing, gently satiric view of a once ascendant digital culture.
  2003-03-09 16:49 Z
I've been noodling around with doing weblog stats using the Python interface to gdchart. I'd forgotten how much fun scripting languages can be. I can lay down a lot of sloppy code quickly and get the information I need. So much simpler that the burden of Software Architecture!

gdchart is good software; simple code to draw graphs and save them as GIF or PNG files. The Python interface makes it really easy to do some serious charting.

gdchart.chart(gdchart.GDC_LINE, (450, 250),
   outputBase + ".png",
     time.localtime(day[0])) for day in dispReaders],
   [day[1][0] for day in dispReaders],
   [len(day[1][1]) for day in dispReaders],
   [day[1][2] for day in dispReaders],
   [len(day[1][3]) for day in dispReaders])
  2003-03-09 00:00 Z
The first US president was famous for not lying about cherry trees The evidence that Iraq has been trying to buy uranium from Niger is a complete forgery. Let's ask the expert, Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency:
After three months of intrusive inspections, we have to date found no evidence or plausible indication of the revival of a nuclear weapons program in Iraq.

In the meantime, the US has produced no compelling evidence of the alleged weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Let's ask another expert, Hans Blix, lead UN weapons inspector in Iraq:

I would rather have twice the amount of high quality information about sites to inspect than twice the number of expert inspectors to send.
Gee, the US isn't helping the weapons inspectors inspect for weapons?

I guess I was naïve to think that my government wouldn't just lie about the evidence we claim to have.

  2003-03-08 16:19 Z
Beautiful video by the folks at Pleix for the track Itsu by one of my favourite glitch bands, Plaid. Great use of business graphics and texture mapping to make creepy video. Watch at least the first half; first time this went around the net I only watched 30 seconds and quit and missed the good parts.

A pox on DRM software, btw - I couldn't get a decent screencapture of the video or even a link to the actual video. Grr.

  2003-03-07 04:43 Z

Biker sandwich: bad
Creepy old sedan: bad
Shiny new SUV: just right
  2003-03-06 04:39 Z
I love mechanical watches; beautiful, precise workmanship, slightly anachronistic. Thanks to Ken I'm now wearing my Frederique Constant watch again. Not quite the one pictured here, mine doesn't have the date complication. It does have the window into the movement and a clear back.

The crazy thing about watches is you can easily spend $20,000 on one without getting gold or jewels. Just a lovely skeleton movement or a beautiful A. Lange & Söhne 1. The workmanship on the inside is as beautiful as the exterior. Alas, not in my range, so I just read along with the watch geeks.

  2003-03-05 03:25 Z
These two bits of Perl print different things.
print localtime(0);
-> 001631116933640

$now = localtime(0);
print $now;
-> Wed Dec 31 16:00:00 1969
I'm sure if I were smart enough to use Perl I'd know all about how the two statements were in different contexts and how it's wonderful that Perl evaluates things in a context-dependent way because I can do so many cool things with it.

I don't want to be that smart to write simple scripts. I started learning Python a month or two ago and I'm a much happier person.

  2003-03-03 18:39 Z
Spurred on by Mark Pilgrim's and Tim Bray's postings, I looked at the access log for my four week old blog to see what robots were visiting me.

No fewer than 71 different hosts grabbed my robots.txt in eight days. Two creepy ones: NameProtect (trademark enforcement) and TurnItIn (anti-plagiarism). This doesn't bug me too much. I do wonder why some of these crawlers felt it necessary to fetch robots.txt forty times in eight days.

  2003-03-02 18:43 Z
A few year ago I bought a comic book adapation of H.P. Lovecraft's Dreamquest of Unknown Kadath. I'm a big Lovecraft fan, particularly of his stuff that's more fantasy than horror. I still remember the day I bought the complete set of Lovecraft stories published by Arkham House. It was my first ever online purchase; alas, the store has since closed.

The comic is fun - it neatly captures the wonder and mystery of Lovecraft's epic fables. I like the everyman aspect of Mock Man, a nice rendering of Lovecraft's own generic men. The thing that I think is coolest is that in the comic book is a URL and email address from 1997, and they still work! The Bits out of Time.

  2003-03-02 04:54 Z
Yet another Blosxom plugin, ASIN. This one lets you write links in your entries like
<a href="asin:B000003RGY">current music</a>
The asin plugin will turn it into the appropriate Amazon link.

I was prompted to write this by Kottke's post about a change Amazon made to URL formats. Used to be you could go to Amazon, copy the URL for a page, paste it into your blog and slap on your associate ID and you'd get the credit. No more, now you have to construct the URLs very carefully. This plugin makes it simpler.

I hope I got the URL format right. I'm sticking in the undocumented ref=nosim - I think it's obnoxious that Amazon defaults my links to 'buy more crap'.

  2003-03-02 00:39 Z
I've released a new Blosxom plugin, clicktrack. It rewrites URLs in your stories to go through a 302 redirect script so you can log clicks on your blog that go offsite. Yes, I'm running this on my own blog.

There's also a new version of the imagesizer plugin to automatically add size tags to your story's images. Thanks to Todd for the Perl-fu to do this more cleanly.

Finally, I now have a place for all my Blosxom plugins. Apache stylin!

  2003-03-01 18:08 Z
  2003-03-01 03:43 Z