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Friday, July 11, 2003
9:19 PM      

There's a hole in my blog
Well, now that the new Blogger interface has been rolled out, it's like I'm experiencing the work of the Helen Keller School of Torture: where they learn to move the furniture, and I stumble blindly across it. Archive management doesn't work the same way, and though I've been able to force most of my archive pages to update, there's one that won't publish, an I have no idea why. I tried logging into Blogger control to send a message about the apparently missing features, but it doesn't recognize my login, so I'm sort of S.O.L... I figure I'd get better support if I were paying for Blogger Pro, but maybe not. I'm logged into the LoFi interface. That may have to do with problems developing for the Mac platform. I just know I'm pretty frustrated right now.

Much as like Blogger, I'm starting to think it may be time to migrate to one of the other platforms, like Moveable Type. I have to upgrade to Blogger Pro to get RSS, anyway, and I'm not sure there's any advantage to staying with Blogger anymore.

We'll see. I'll let you know what I figure out.

[ link | e-me ]

3:11 PM      

Got an e-mail from the DNC today linked to a petition calling for a bipartisan investigation into what he knew and when. I think some of this is the usual spin-control, but overall it's a good idea. I thought about filling in the comments field, then I thought better of it: My server logs show that someone from the US Government has been viewing my blog; why make it any easier for them?


A couple of days ago, I saw a very different account of what happened to Jessica Lynch when she was captured. She was the "hero" who supposedly emptied her rifle when her convoy was ambushed in Iraq. They said she'd been shot, stabbed, and tortured... yada-yada. A short while later, we heard only whispers that none of that was true. The channels weren't making a big deal out of how they'd probably been used again. The account yesterday said that the vehicle she was riding in crashed into another vehicle with tremendous force, killing all passengers except Lynch. She was in an Iraqi hospital when she was "rescued." There wasn't an Iraqi soldier in sight. There's speculation that Lynch's family is under some sort of gag order.


Speaking of the press blowing it again, it's been nearly 7 years since JonBenet Ramsey was killed, and the networks have faithfully advanced the insinuation that Patsy was probably the killer, but the Boulder Police Department had simply flubbed the case... Now the new District Attorney in Boulder has taken the Boulder Police off the case, and a civil judge in Atlanta has ruled that the evidence is more consistent with the intruder theory. The Governor of Colorado was in the business of slamming the Ramseys, too. Interesting that I found this article on the USA Today site, dated Apr. 9, 2003, but the Today Show didn't pick up the story until a couple of days ago.


I wonder if we could get the reality TV folks excited about a celebrity cat-fight between Arianna Huffington and Ann Coulter. I bet we could get Coulter to wear a bikini (considering how she seems to like figure-flattering outfits so much), maybe get them to wrestle in a vat of Jello™ brand gelatin, or something — get the corporate sponsorhip angle in there... But thinking it through a little more, Huffington isn't nearly as pro-Democrat as Coulter is died-in-the-wool-Republican. Huffington has a lot to say about the spinelessness of the Dems, for example, and she's much more concerned with corporate annexation of the political system than with which party is in control, so she might not like the Jello™ angle so much, either. For that matter, she seems to have a hell of a lot more class than Coulter...

[ link | e-me ]

8:22 AM      

Yesterday at FlashForward, I sat in on a presentation by Erick Natzke called "Interaction Less Ordinary." The presentation was a breath of fresh air from the typical lightweight how-to sessions you see in so many of these conferences. Natzke downplayed his own prowess, and seemed intent on inspiring the audience to explore ideas. To that end, he shared his process- showing a lot of experimental projects that he'd done for his own edification. Then, he showed how ideas gained from those experiments ended up as part of client work. Curiosity and drive (which he calls "stubbornness") have a lot to do with his final results, which are indeed less ordinary.

One of the coolest results he derived, was an algorithm for drawing ribbons with the Flash drawing API. Using a tool that lets Flash movies respond to their own audio tracks, the ribbons expanded dynamically in response to the pulse of the drum tracks.

Samuel Wan's presentation wasn't as awe-inspiring, but it showed how far-out you can take collaboration with Flash, and hinted at where a lot of future Flash development efforts might focus. Sam made it clear just how simple it is to get fully functional chat applications running with Flash Communication Server. I'd seen a demo like this before, but Sam's was cleaner and clearer. He also made something else clear: the biggest challenge of using FlashComm isn't setting up applications, it's figuring out how to do collaboration well.

One of the things that Sam is interested in now, is taking advantage of the Flash player embedded in PocketPCs. He demonstrated a PocketPC Flash app he wrote days ago that controls a camera mounted on a robotic arm, saying that he's now more interested in using Flash in stand-alone settings – no browser involved.


Missed the Tour de France coverage yesterday. Can't wait to find out what's going on.

Some of the ads that are running along with the coverage are intriguing, and others are just plain wack. US Postal has an ad that uses "Neither rain, nor sleet, nor gloom of night..." very effectively. Lance is also featured in Subaru ads, where he seems far more animated than I've ever seen him, which doesn't make him a Willard Scott or even a Bob Roll, but he's more animated.

Speaking of Bob Roll, there's an absurd commercial that makes fun of the way he pronounces the name of the Tour: at the end of the spot, he's looking into a mirror, saying "Toor - day - France!" over and over. He is the Willard Scott of sports announcing.


Bush in Africa, etc.

Well, so far, Bush has snubbed Mandela for calling his spade and he's made a pilgrimage to the island that most represents American slavery – where he condemned the act of slavery but made no apology. He's walking around making big promises about American contributions to help fight AIDS, but the fine print says you'd better not be counseling women on abortion if you want any of this money. And maybe it all means nothing. Consider AmeriCorps – a successful and effective program that is a darling of both parties. After Bush promised to expand the program by 50%, it was initially cut by 80%. After some last-minute haggling, the cut was adjusted to only 58%. This from a Newsweek article on MSNBC:

...The more cynical view is that Bush is a lip-service president who makes “compassionate conservative” promises and even signs bills in the Rose Garden with great flourish—then walks away. Exhibit A is the landmark No Child Left Behind Act, which imposes a series of costly accountability mandates on the education system (many of them commendable) without providing the resources to implement them. The congressional appropriation is $8 billion short of what Bush asked for.

But this president is such a strong leader in his own party that he can’t claim to be stymied by Congress. We know that if he cares about something, he generally gets it done. ...

[ link | e-me ]

Wednesday, July 09, 2003
1:11 PM      

The Icon was Love
As I sit to write this, "Love's Theme" is running through my head. Still can't believe Barry White is gone. That deep, husky voice; and those songs - like "Baby Blues." He truly was the icon of erotic love. A year or so ago, I saw him on the Today show, being interviewed because some marine biologist had gotten the idea to pipe Barry White music into a shark tank in the hope that the vibrations would inspire the sharks to mate. You could tell Barry was getting a kick out of it. He played along with the interview. He smiled, and relished the moment, but he didn't seem to have a big head, either. Like all of us, I'm sure he had his ups and downs. We were fortunate that he shared his passion and joy with us, and even though his voice was so deep, you could say he went out on a high note.


4 = history
Imagine being tucked into an aero position for more than an hour, with 8 of your teammates, pulling toward the course finish line, racing against headwinds and the clock. You start out seemingly slow, and in the end, you dust off the competition by 30 seconds – an eternity in bike time trial racing. That's what Lance Armstrong and team US Postal did in Stage 4 of the Tour de France today.

At the end of the day, US Postal held the 8 best overall times of the Tour, and a Columbian named Victor Hugo Peña was the Maillot Jaune - the man in the Yellow Jersey. He'd bested Lance in the prolog time trial by one second, and that was enough to put him at the top for now. Columbians have had stage wins before, but never in the hundred years of the Tour, has a Colombian worn the Yellow, until today. Of course, the French can take consolation in the fact that a Frenchman has already been in Yellow this year, and Mr. Peña's name seems to be inspired by one of the greats of French literature – a French national hero.

The announcers couldn't help using machine metaphors to describe the performance. With their aero helmets and tricked-up TT bikes, they did look an awful lot like some kind of Anime man/machine. Clipped into those petals and hunkered-down in racing form, they were a sight to see.

The Tour has given us some good racing so far, and unfortunately, there have been at least one crash in each of the first three stages. Amazingly, Tyler Hamilton rides on after a nasty collarbone-breaking crash in the first stage. Another rider involved in the same crash raced in the next two stages wearing a neck brace! These guys just don't go down for the count. Tomorrow will be a good day for sprinters again, but the first significant climbs of this year's race will enter the mix. US Postal may defend Peña's Yellow Jersey tomorrow, but sooner or later, the Maillot Jaune will likely land on Lance's shoulders. Once that happens, he's not going to relinquish it without a fight.



This is just too cool! If you go to Google and type "weapons of mass destruction" into the search box, then click "I'm Feeling Lucky" you get a very interesting result... read carefully:

The links work, too. They point to lovely apparel, thought-provoking literature, a Kubrick classic, and even Rummy's own "Existential Poetry".

The clever thing about this, is that this is not Google's doing. This is the work of a smart and cheeky British web developer who understands how the Google engine works. Check out the meta tag:

<meta name="keywords" content="404, weapons of mass destruction, iraq, UN" />

Since "I'm Feeling Lucky" takes you directly to the #1 hit, this page will come up as long as nobody else puts up a page with that keyword phrase and manages somehow to out-rank them.


The FlashForward2003 conference started today. Looking forward to checking out some of the presentations. Tomorrow, I'll be helping out at the New York Macromedia User Group (NYMMUG) booth.

[ link | e-me ]
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