I know it's bad, but whenever I hear "killer bees" I can't help laughing.
A weblog by Matt Webb.
Korbo, Lorbo, Jeetbo.
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So what have I been up to? I've regained my faith in MySQL. I spend yesterday learning how to use indexes properly and it's made such a difference. That almost makes up for having to rewrite loads of Dirk. Version 2 should be finished soon; hopefully faster, and easier to expand. WAP here I come.
And what else... I was playing today with a page to announce the end of the cola wars but then I thought it would be fun to have a survey to see how many people drank what. Then that become a thing for people to answer all sorts of questions so we could match Coke and Pepsi drinking to personality types. And then that became a neural network taking as its input a short questionnaire which guesses your preferred cola. It's trained in an evolutionary way, one generation each questionnaire filled. Um, and that's why it's taking so long.
Well at last I can get through to Blogger after almost a week. My ISP deny it was their fault, but if I didn't go through them it would work fine. So: I changed the access number. Ta da.
Oh yes, and Woody (here's a picture of him in a dress [27kb]) has hurt his paw. He cut it the other day, but when the cut healed up it had got infected and his leg swelled up. I took him to the vet today and he had a great time (the vet gave him a biscuit).
A pay-as-you-go email sans computer which will never work because: the profit comes from the email phone calls, there's advertising, it's called 'e-m@iler'. How can you spend 18 months designing something and come up with a name that bad?
Andrew lets me know about the triumph of New Labour [registration required, I think, but it was so long ago]. Every time I read or think about New Labour I get that feeling I had on the night of May 1st 1997 watching the General Election results come in. Just sheer excitement. The verge of something new. I never thought it would happen (no one did). I was watching the BBC and it was all very normal at the beginning, until the results started coming in - 12% and 14% swings to Labour. Within the first three results you could see a look in the presenters' eyes. They were excited. Filled with trepidation, but looking to the future. I think, for Britain (for me), that was when the millennium really happened.
And (now I've finished downloading) do you want to know the best feature of Mac IE5? It's not standards compliance. It's using ColorSync so images appear identically on my iBook as they would on a Window's box CRT. Brilliant.
I wish I had blue hair again, but that blue-grey thing after only a week is really not too good. I've heard tell that Fudge do colours that don't fade, but even their UK branch gives prices in Australian dollars. There's a place in Oxford that does it though. Perhaps I'll go.
I'm developing some new hatreds (but I'm not sure yet whether they're going to turn into long-term hates). I hate using a modem to download Mac IE5, like I can even browse fast enough at the moment to make use of it. I hate asking my ISP if they'll be going unmetered in the future, only to get a response full of FUD. I hate MySQL for not noticing letter accents in SELECTS and forcing me to rewrite half of Dirk2 to compensate. I hate people who talk in cinemas, and who laugh when okay yes you could laugh at the film, but in the context of the story itself, within its own consistant internal universe, you couldn't possible laugh with. I'm one of those people who thought Starship Troopers was a serious war movie; can you tell?
Okay but I love some stuff too, and if ever I forget that I just need to juice a quarter of a watermelon (sans skin) and two (unpeeled, uncored) crisp, sweet, juicy apples. Mm.
Since Saturday, my I haven't been able to get through to Blogger going through my ISP. So, apologies for the lack of updates.
I never have very much to say on days when an internet connection costs a penny a minute.
Hey, you want to hear some great rock? Type 'Strip' into the search box and download their MP3. This track ('Man of Bronze') is stunning live.
Today's cheese fact isn't so much a fact but nutritional information. But it's on the list, so you're getting it anyway.
One 30g portion of Cheddar contains about 10gms of fat (34%), 7.5 of protein (25%), 222mgs of calcium (22% of suggested daily intake), 123 calories as well as healthy contributions of vitamins A, B12 and D.
And that's all you need to know about cheese. Bollocks. That means I have to find some other source of lazy content.
Bibliomania has searchable etexts - handy! From the Kama Sutra,
The women of Avantika are fond of foul pleasures, and have not good manners.
Where is Avantika anyway? I must be sure to avoid it. Also: Men to avoid; ones whose mouths are full of worms. That's bad. Okay. Alright, important safety tip, thanks Egon. [wav]
If you are to follow the path of righteousness, first you must find the Tao Of British Cheese.
When storing cheese wrap in foil or clingfilm, put in airtight box and take out one hour before serving.
Here endeth the first lesson.
Design a Barbie to look just like you (and then buy it, obviously). Also: the only site aimed at children that uses the word 'contiguous' on its front page.
My Twin offers a similar service, but much more lifelike, and much much more terrifying.
And then of course there's Real Doll which really shouldn't be used for children. Unless they've got a really deep and early interest in biology (and willing to sacrifice their future sanity upon the bloodied altar of Freud).
The Anagram Genius server will return to you by email anagrams of your name, with one million and one options and preferences (approximately).
There's an article in The Independent (print version; I can't find it online) about new guidelines for scientific journalism. I'm all for this: a scientific voice is too powerful in the public's mind to be used for political ends or just to make a good story. The Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford have produced the report including some well thought out guidelines for journalists. My favourite (from the Indy):
Establishing journalistic "balance" by quoting the opposing views of a minority does not adequately take into account that minority views in science are more likely to be wrong.
And if you don't take this into account then the public believe that global warming is fiction, that if something is GM it is automatically bad, that there is no difference between science-as-research and science-as-industrial/political-propaganda.
Fact: The last person to speak Dalmatian (the language, not the dog, spoken on the coast of what is now Croatia) was killed, in 1898, trying to clear a roadblock with a landmine.
Okay, so I investigating this a bit and came up with a couple of facts of my own:
1. The last speaker of Dalmatian was Tuone Udaina (Italian: Antonio Udina).
2. It appears that two different people have sent the same question (word for word) to the Linguist maillist, trying to find out about this guy - almost two years apart (in June 1998 and January 2000).
3. A Google search for Antonio Udina turns up an article in Britiannica. In all that time, do you think the questioner hadn't checked?
Maelstrom is one of those shops where you wander through racks of chrome muttering I Want I Want I Want.
Man, I'm thinking about binning all this web stuff and getting into the cheese retailing business. It's an high-flying, fast growing, expanding market - and by using today's cheese fact I know I could stay ahead of the pack. But sssssh, don't tell anyone.
People are requesting stronger flavours with particular growth in mature and extra mature cheddar.
There are some things you never really think about, and when people tell you you're surprised or shocked. Some things are in a domain which doesn't really interest you, but when you find them out they're intriguing. And then there another sort, like today's cheesy fact.
Cheese is used mostly as a sandwich filling, in day to day cooking and as an everyday snack with biscuits.
You learn something new every day. And to think that I'd always been using all that cheese I bought to stop my coffee table wobbling.
The tea FAQ by a corporation has a slightly different slant, concentrating on the nutritional benefits of tea and addressing public concerns: Q - Does drinking tea during pregnancy affect the foetus? A - Studies show (etc).
Does a generic tea website need a realtime chat? How can it not be platform agnostic? And how, if the latest version of the rec.food.drink.tea FAQ has been out since 1998 do they have an old version? For answers to all of these questions and more...
Isn't it quiet around here? Tell you what: as a special incentive, if you come back soon I'll tell you who won the Cola wars, and about a teepee village in Wales. How's that for an offer?
Cheesy fact of the day:
81% of cheese is bought pre-packed against 19% from the delicatessan.
I guess once you've paid good money for this sort of cheese research to be done, you're sure as hell going to tell as many people as possible.
I went to an art gallery with my virtual boyfriend today. A pretty typical day: I knocked over a 3000 year old urn, and Max got offered a modelling job in Milan. But he turned it down to be with me! Everyone say 'aaaah'. What a sap.
Today's cheesy fact of the day:
Cheddar accounts for 57% of all cheese eaten.
If people really do see ghosts, and people really do see aliens; why do people never see ghosts of aliens?
Today's British Cheese Board (it's just occurred to me that 'cheese board' is a really awful pun. Why didn't I get that before?) -- ah-hem, today's British Cheese Board cheesy fact of the day (from my leaflet):
We consume over 300,000 tonnes of cheese at home in a year. In total we eat about 90kg of cheese per person per year - that's 25gms per day - less than half the amount of cheese consumed by Europeans.
Sorry, is this fact trying to turn it into some kind of patriotic duty to consume more cheese?
I got an email from my virtual boyfriend! Except it was from his flatmate, trying to jump on me at a party (but I didn't let him).
A wouldn't-that-be-great for Blogger: when you've made your entry, but before your weblog has been published, words with suspect spelling (check against dict.org or Dictionary.com) should be hinted somehow, and have a popup with suggested corrections. There are freely available lists of valid words with phonetic translations (for matching incorrect words); I'll have to dig out my references. Of course, eventually you'd want user-defined dictionaries and so on, but I'm sure this would be useful even as an optional limited beta.
Hey, if I were the guys at Blogger I'd have a script that watched all new posts for 'Blogger' or 'Pyra' (the search picks up on the word in the template, too, not just on posts?).
Fascinating paper on home pages and the construction of identity, from September 1998. Weblogs were off radar then, I guess, but the ideas and commentary are just as valid and interesting. In the context of this paper, weblogs define your identity by displaying your interests and dislikes (by their absence despite being common in the community).
Too.. much.. weblogging. Must -- must look up... might forget how to see in three dimensions. Argh! No, okay. It's just the TV. Phew.
Interesting article about surface water on Mars. Hmm. From what I understand, these features could also come from large scale sapping, or from a massive impact leading to catastophic flooding. Good slideshow and other coverage (from MSNBC) though.
Fantastic issue ('episode'?) of Salon today. (I know it's good because I only went there to check out the Technology articles and ended up reading all the other shit.)
Who sold out electronic music? misses the point about how dance really was subversive. It was that normal people were taking drugs. It's that E (such an integral part of early dance I don't know how people can talk about the origins of dance without mentioning it) permanently changed people's personalities and caused an almost religious communion in the clubs. When all this got diluted by booze and pop - that's when DJs got important, because people seem to have to herd and they have to be told what to do. And stuff like Moby and Chemical Brothers isn't proper dance anyway, it's too recognisable.
When liberals lie about guns is one of those rare articles that I completely disagree with but can't fault. To say that guns being used in suicides isn't a reason that they should be banned (or at least restricited) is false I think; there is (at least in the UK) precedent here. Aspirin is sold in smaller boxes and has reduced the incidence of suicide. Mind you, if I'm saying that suicide isn't premeditated I should tell you this: my boss from the ironmongers I used to work in sold a length of thick rope saying "Now, don't you go and hang yourself with that (ho ho)!" Buyer topped himself a couple of days later. D'oh. Anyway, I can see no good reason for a person to have a gun; I can see many why they should not.
Pink pistols: "The gay movement often portrays homosexuals as helpless victims. Here's an alternative: Arm them." This is a joke. Right?
And my adventures didn't end there! The British Cheese Board had a stall at Waterloo. Much free cheese! Mmmm. I got a leaflet with loads of cheesy facts and recipes. One fact a day, until I run out:
98% of the British population enjoy eating cheese.
While I was at Waterloo I also got to use one of BT's new Multiphones (although BT have an entire site devoted to payphones, they don't actually mention any of their phones directly). You get a minute of internet access for 10p, minute usage time 10 minutes. I couldn't check my mail because it wouldn't take cash, only a phonecard, but you could look at the BBC for five minutes, free. Why only five minutes though? If you can't get off that one site it's not like you're going to stand there all day. That limit just makes BT look stingy.
Hey, I went to London today to see Fantasia 2000 at the bfi London IMAX. Bit of a disappointment really - it turned out to be a cartoon, without any words. I thought I was going to see a porn movie on the biggest screen in Britain.
Still, I kept an open mind and thought it was excellent (best segments: Pines of Rome (flying whales), Beethoven's 5th (abstract butterflies), Rhapsody in Blue (New York)). Why acid got so popular in the 1960s when they had this to watch I really don't know.
'Snake City' at Bubblegun is the funniest thing since sliced bread. Um, does that work?
I've signed up for a virtual boyfriend. I wonder if he'll email me? I'll keep you posted.
Boddingtons replied to my email already!
Thanks for contacting us.
Couldn't tell you when we started putting the URL on the cans. It's relatively recent though.
Many beer consumers are interested in the website. We get something approaching one hundred thousand hits a month. Not massive but I think it justifies our existence. As for defining the added value, I think that's more a job for the marketing people rather than a simple webmaster!
The US Government collect information on European corporations and passes it on to US companies. This includes espionage. Interesting article. As much as I'd like to think that spying doesn't happen, it's going to happen as a necessary consequence of competition. There is no global government, only anarchy: strong encyption is the only answer.
I'd also like to think that governments shouldn't help corporations like this. The type of companies being helped are strong enough to operate on their own. If they're not then best not have them around. I don't like to see government this involved in the markets; they should only decide on health and safety issues, things like that.
However: the author of the article is Duncan Campbell, an investigative journalist who wrote the original report that triggered this investigation. That's a conflict of interest right there.
Too much personal information: I have a spider plant in my room to soak up the radiation from my computers (Radio 4's Gardener's Question Time said it was a good idea. I believe everything I hear on the radio). I've named it after Henri Becquerel in honour of the plant's peculiar beard.
Moby was what got me into music. I was in a shop in Carnaby Street with a friend of mine, years ago, and we heard a Twin Peaks remix (Twin Peaks being the best things since sliced bread). This was of course Moby's 'Go'. The albums were just as good. After that I went through house (when it wasn't pop), garage, trance techno. Right through that club scene. When Play came out I couldn't believe it. Such a return to form (I hadn't entirely agreed with his return to his thrash metal roots). Such incredible music.
When did Boddingtons start putting a URL on the side of their cans? I wonder if they get many hits? What is the value added for the consumer for a beer having a website? Hey, if I knew how to blag that question I'd make a fortune.
I've been reading a fantastic Wizard of Oz FAQ whilst watching Return To Oz on TV. Questions such: is there really a man hanging from a tree in the first movie? (No.) In a bizarre turn of synchronicity, it turns out that there are two Ozian language on the I can eat glass page (the Oz FAQ link is broken).
Terraserver (which seems to have now spun off from its Microsoft home) only has a 2.5 tb database. I should be able to see my house but it uses some bizarre plugin to display images which I can't get working under Windows, and the whole site refuses to support Macintosh.
Um, enough wonderment. Play with the QuasiTiler and be sure to up the dimensions so about 8 or 9. Very cool. This is one of a number of cool things on the web since 1993. Penrose Tiles are 5-fold quasi-symmetric and were used by Kleenex to make quilted toilet tissues because the lack of periodicity would ensure an even surface when rolled. Used, that is, until Roger Penrose sued their thieving asses.
Good grief. The Internet Archive have 14.6 terrabytes of data. Alexa take 'snapshots' of the web and donate them to the archive, each snapshot taking a few months to complete. It's funny, somehow I thought it would take longer than that - I've been through the phase of being surprised about how big the 'net it and have started overestimating. Like when I was tiny and couldn't believe how big the Earth was (I remember confusing people I'd heard of on the news with people in the village), and now it's just sinking in that this planet is really quite small and getting more interconnected every day.
I didn't realise that you could spank Britney Spears with fish. Why didn't anyone tell me? It certainly distracts me from my cakey sickness.
Matt's not feeling terribly well at the moment. It was always a real treat when I was young to lick the cake mix spoon, and we had some eggs spare today so we made a whole bowl of cake mix and I've eaten most of it. Yum. But uuuuuh.
For some reason Oxford University have decided to ban access to epinions.com on the grounds that it's a surf-for-cash site. I've emailed the cache people on the grounds that it ain't. I wanted to see the new logo and had to go through anonymizer.com.
Every single bloody co.uk domain I want is owned by another.com who own about 6700 of them. It's an abuse. Corporations and individuals should be restricted to a single domain each - everything they want to put online should hang under that. That's what URLs are for.
I went to an UpStart Network talk last night about how to have your own internet startup company. It was freaky, all the people were the same. Virtually no women. Glasses. Ribbed jumpers (high neck). Um, dressed like me. A whole room full of geeks and people who want money. Scarily, the guy talking spoke about money in the same way a guy from Intel did when I saw him talk - a big-business kind of way: 'generous renumeration packages' as opposed to 'well paid', that kind of thing. I don't like it, it makes me feel ill.
The guy giving the presentation was Simon Darling, the internet man from Unilever from ages, and now starting a company to leverage WAP and SMS. He was obsessed with mobile phones, which I can understand even though I don't have one (when I can do my email on a phone, unmetered, and the same address I usually use, then I'll get one). Anyway, so what did I learn?
Get money from wherever you can, but go for smart money from people who can introduce you to other people. Technology doesn't matter, you can outsource that (that was a shock to me. I thought you had to live & breathe the internet to start an internet company, but no - it's just about making money). NDAs matter shit: a VC will never steal your idea because they'll get a bad reputation, and if you're moving slowly enough for potential employees to steal your idea you may-as-well pack up and go home. Saying that, the guy wouldn't tell us what his idea was. Hmm, what else? Don't drink several pints of water before sitting through an hour presentation. And if you expect to give the free wine a run for its money you should have a bit more to eat than a couple of pancakes and chocolate cupcakes first.
Those last two are by personal experience. Can you tell?
The BBC seems confused about why some terms are internet clichés (like 'information superhighway' and 'e-[insert word here]'), and others ('spam', 'flame', 'netiquette') get in dictionaries. It's pretty simple, although difficult to see when you're a journalist: nobody ever says 'surf' or 'internet superhighway' (although I'm quite taken with 'infobahn' I don't think I'd ever use it without a heavy dose of irony). Stuff like 'spam' on the otherhand was used by people before the media got their hands on it. Answer: if you learn a word from a newspaper, it won't be around in another six months time.
"VeriSign said the company expects to add to its existing employee base to exploit new market opportunities" - I don't like the sound of that. Versign are buying NSI. Network Solutions are too recently a monopoly. There's still too much room for abuse. Very soon, I think, who has control in internet-space is going to become an international political issue, much like fishing stock off the coast of Canada or GM food imported into Europe. Hopefully individuals will be able to ignore government disputes, but they're going to make it very hard for us to ignore I'm sure.
BBC Online has the best headline: 'The revolution will not be metered.' The picture with the article is even funnier.
NTL are also doing no-subs/free-calls internet, this time with a personal endorsement from Tony Blair. The catch: you have to use their telephone network, and use an adaptor to get on it. If you're not on cable (I'm not) you must spend minimum £10/month on regular calls on their network, but it seems you may still pay line rental (about £10/month) to BT. There's also a 3.5p connection fee per voice call, compared to a minimum call cost (but no connection fee) for BT call. Mind you, they do go live April 17th, and they support Macs from the off which is a first. The latest news: NTL's pre-registration server is maxed out; BT is down 32.00p as of 09:35.
The Labour Party have an ugly picture of William Hague stashed on their website.
According to the BBC's A-Z of Parliament, MPs aren't allowed to die whilst on the premises. What do you suppose the punishment is?
Nnnng. Debugging HTML is now my #1 least favourite activity. I'm currently battling with MSIE4/5 (Windows) which is refusing to use the top couple of pixels of the first column in a table in Dirk2.
Altavista UK are currently testing a no-subs/free-calls ISP for the UK. It seems a leak to the Sunday Times triggered an early press release (this page will be updated as more details are revealed). I didn't believe it was true before I read therelease. The local loop will be unbundled from BT by June 2001. ISPs based in the local exchange will have a marginal cost of zero per user online. I imagine Altavista UK believe that when the monopoly is ended, so many companies will go into the local market that the wholesale cost of calls will be near zero. They're just trying to build market share by subsidising the free access until that time. Next into this market: The Register points at Lycos.
Hey, but what if there really are only half a million different appearances for individuals, and then it just repeats. Would we ever know?
Youdraw want to collect half a million stick-figure drawings, and then put 12000 books of these drawings on display so that people can try to see what six billion individuals is really like. I like that.
In Oxford we have our own TV channel: Channel 6, the Oxford Channel. They're drumming up advertisers, and today ran a short film of water pouring through an eggtimer. When it ended, a message on the screen said "This is 20 seconds of your life you won't have again." Ow! I am Jack's wasted life.
Ambitions day: I'd like to work for Ars Digita. I like what I see on their website, and the philosophy that comes of it. First, though, I need to bring my resumé up to date.
Yeah, and why is the first book called Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone in the United States? Hang on, I thought the whole idea of the Philosopher's Stone was one that resonated through history as the ultimate unattainable alchemist's dream. What's the point of getting rid of such a beautiful second-degree association for the sake of a soundbite? Kids aren't born stupid, you know.
Harry Potter is being analysed in Salon. One article claims that the books are sexist, the other is a response and argues against misplaced political correctness. It confuses me how people can accuse these book of being politically incorrect. Perhaps it's people projecting their own prejudices and concerns which will cast an otherwise even-handed book in a biased light. People seem to try and judge what children will think and will do as if they're adults, but children are not adults and meaningful answers will not be obtained from this approach.
Okay, this is cool. Type some words in a box, and these guys hear it in their lounge. Not that I could get the streaming video to work, but cool none-the-less.
Yahoo lists 61 HamsterDance spinoff sites (and another six directly related). There are 127 listed Ate My Balls sites. In the spirit of stupid internet crazes that get out of hand, I'd like to propose my own. Everyone should have one a these: a page of whose piss you'd drink. Although I admit I can't quite see Jorn Barger joining in, or Dave Winer jumping on this bandwagon.
Why does www.macosx.com take me to BrainMania? And why do schoolkids need a site that gives them human answers in 24 hours? If it's the sort of kid that does its work any earlier than the night before then it's the sort of kid who won't need and help.
This is incredible - a sandstorm the size of Spain off the coast of Africa. Apparently these storms sometimes reach the Caribbean.
The 8 latest posts are named
Filtered for nematodes and Uniqlo, Red, yellow, green, bice, plunket, plaid, Coffee morning three, Filtered for storytelling, We Didn't Start the Fire Pedia, Filtered for making and alienation, Filtered for art and other intangibles, and Filtered for top-notch long reads.
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Interconnected is copyright 2000—2014 Matt Webb.