November 30, 2002
We Didn't Start The Fire

Here's a cool flash animation of Billy Joel's We Didn't Start The Fire. Definitely one cool tune and one cool piece of flash.

Posted by adam at 10:00 PM
Another Cool Web Comic

Check out Nowhere Girl.

Posted by adam at 09:48 PM
I Am Now a LiveJournal User

Thanks to Faecrow I am now syndicated on LiveJournal. So if you use LJ add adamw as a friend.

Posted by adam at 03:45 PM
November 28, 2002
Video Lectures
  • Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs has been MIT's introductory pre-professional computer science subject since 1981. It emphasizes the role of computer languages as vehicles for expressing knowledge and it presents basic principles of abstraction and modularity, together with essential techniques for designing and implementing computer languages. This course has had a worldwide impact on computer science curricula over the past two decades.
  • Linear Algebra: Basic subject on matrix theory and linear algebra, emphasizing topics useful in other disciplines, including systems of equations, vector spaces, determinants, eigenvalues, similarity, and positive definite matrices. Applications to least-squares approximations, stability of differential equations, networks, Fourier transforms, and Markov processes.
  • Video Lecture Showcase: a site with a whole bunch of links to other online video lectures in lots of different subjects
Posted by adam at 10:58 AM
The Death of Hip Hop

I know you’ve been thinking it. And if you haven’t, you probably haven’t been paying attention. The art we once called hip hop has been dead for some time now. But because its rotting carcass has been draped in platinum and propped against a Gucci print car, many of us have missed its demise.
All one needs to do is watch cribs and notice none of these people showing off their heated indoor pools or the PlayStation Two consoles installed in all twelve of their luxury cars have a library in their home. Or display a bookshelf, for that matter. No rapper on cribs has ever been quoted saying: “Yeah, this is the room where I do all my reading, nahmean?”
Question: Why haven’t these so-called “ballers” gotten together and bought a farm, a prison, a super market chain, or chartered a school? But they all have clothing lines. Smells like a sucker to me. The lack of social responsibility from people who claim to ‘rep the streets’ is stunning.

Read the rest of the article here.
Posted by adam at 10:31 AM
November 25, 2002
The Geeks Prayer

Yea, Though I Walk Through the Valley of the Shadow of Bill:

Linus is my shepard; I shall not want.

He free-eth me from Microsoft; he leadeth me towards an open land.

He restoreth my self respect; he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for the sake of open-ness.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of bill, I will fear no evil: for thou art with; thy source and thy cvs they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the house of bill: thou annointest my head with Samba; my source floweth over.

Surely openness and source shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Source forever

Thats awsome Scott!!
Posted by adam at 08:58 PM
November 22, 2002
Web Services in Mac OS X

The Apple Developer Connection site has a good article on Web services frameworks in Mac OS X 10.2. It does a good job of defining web services and describing both XML-RPC and SOAP. Then it goes into explaining how to actually integrate web services into Mac OS X programs. Good stuff.

Posted by adam at 11:37 PM
November 21, 2002
Kevin Mitnick's Missing Chapter

When famed hacker Kevin Mitnick wrote his book on computer security, The Art of Deception (John Wiley & Sons, 2002), the first chapter was autobiographical in nature. It was included in the advance galleys that were sent to reviewers, but when the book itself came out, that chapter was not included.

And, here it is.

Posted by adam at 09:00 PM
Linkidy Link Link

kryogenix has a comment about links between other places and says:

"I remain unconvinced that we need yet another addition to the sprawling world of XML-based formats that are trying to make the semantic web happen."

(This is in response to Simon Willison's posting about wanting to have a way to indicate that two links are related besides just linking to both of them in a weblog post)

Well, I'm happy to report that we don't need another XML format, it already exists: XLink. People already have a name for this idea also, its called a Linkbase

Posted by adam at 08:38 PM
Star Trek: Nemesis Preview check it out yo
Posted by adam at 07:39 PM
Like, Duh

A survey commissioned and published by National Geographic shows that a large majority of young Americans between the age of 18-24 are geographically illiterate.

Less than 15% of the subjects could locate Iraq or Israel on a map. Only 17% could locate Afghanistan, even though the survey was carried out after the war. 11% could not locate the U.S. on a map.

The survey is here. More figures and discussion at kuro5hin
Posted by adam at 07:33 PM
November 20, 2002
Lifestreams, Microsoft, and Aggregators

Every so often I go back and try to wrap my brain more tightly around the concept of Lifestreams.

We contend that managing one's own electronic world can be a frustrating task for most computer users, requiring too many separate applications, too many file transfers and format translations, the invention of too many pointless names and the construction of organizational hierarchies that too quickly become obsolete. What is needed is a metaphor and system for organizing the electronic ``bits of paper'' we all so easily collect, whether we create them ourselves or they come to us in the form of email, downloaded images, web pages, or scheduling reminders. Lifestreams is such a system.

Lifestreams uses a simple organizational metaphor, a time-ordered stream of documents, to replace conventional files and directories [3,4]. Stream filters and software agents are used to organize, locate, summarize and monitor incoming information. Lifestreams subsumes many separate desktop applications to accomplish the most common communication, scheduling, and search and retrieval tasks; yet its machine-independent, client-server architecture is open so that users can continue to use the document types, and viewers & editors they are accustomed to.

A lifestream is a time-ordered stream of documents that functions as a diary of your electronic life; every document you create is stored in your lifestream, as are the documents other people send you. The tail of your stream contains documents from the past, perhaps starting with your electronic birth certificate. Moving away from the tail and toward the present, your stream contains more recent documents such as papers in progress or the latest electronic mail you've received---other documents, such as pictures, correspondence, bills, movies, voice mail and software are stored in between. Moving beyond the present and into the future, the stream contains documents you will need: reminders, your calendar items, and to-do lists.

This idea seems right in so many ways, but we haven't gotten near making it a reality yet. Now Microsoft wants to get in on the action:

Engineers are working on software to load every photo you take, every letter you write - in fact your every memory and experience - into a surrogate brain that never forgets anything, New Scientist can reveal

It is part of a curious venture dubbed the MyLifeBits project, in which engineers at Microsoft's Media Presence lab in San Francisco are aiming to build multimedia databases that chronicle people's life events and make them searchable. "Imagine being able to run a Google-like search on your life," says Gordon Bell, one of the developers.

News Aggregators could get in on this also with a few properly placed advances in the tech.

  1. We need to snap out of the idea that aggregators are only for news, they can also be lists of the latest mp3s you've downloaded or orders placed on your e-store.
  2. I shouldn't have to go get feeds, feeds should come to me. When I launch my aggregator it should ping the feeds it is subscribed to telling them that it is listening. Then, when a feed generates something new it should nearly instantly tell my aggregator. Besides the effects of making aggregation a real-time task this also would greatly reduce bandwidth. You'd only be downloading the new item, not the whole feed, only when it was updated.
  3. Applications need to generate these feeds for events that take place, like receiving an IM or new mail in your inbox or a friend visiting your website.

This can all be accomplished with the existing technology, xml-rpc seems the logical choice for communication between applications (either web or local) and aggregators. Yea yea, I know I should get off my ass and do it myself but I can't make application authors implement it unless I stir up some interest so thats what I'm doing right now.

Posted by adam at 11:36 PM
Inbox Buddy 1.0

Scott has finally released Inbox Buddy 1.0. Congratulations!

Inbox Buddy is an addon to Outlook that adds features like color coded email, spam filtering, relationship based email management and notification right into the Outlook interface. So if you run Winblowz take it for a spin :)

Posted by adam at 10:55 PM
I Want Your Text

GetContentSize is a cool utility that will tell you the percentage of a webpage that is text and the percentage that is markup. Info for this page:

Total page size: 40882 bytes (not including images, attached scripts or style sheets)
Text content: 10811 bytes
Text content percentage: 26.44 %

That means 73.66% of my page isn't text and thats not good. I think I might edit this program to also count the percentage that is urls because they provide vital information to a page. Maybe that will give a better representation of what's important and what's garbage

Posted by adam at 10:48 PM
When Good Interfaces Go Crufty

In Vernor Vinge’s sci-fi novel A fire upon the deep, he presents the idea of “software archeology”. Vinge’s future has software engineers spending large amounts of time digging through layers of decades-old code in a computer system — like layers of dirt and rubbish in real-world archeology — to find out how, or why, something works.

So far, in 2002, this problem isn’t so bad. We call such electronic garbage “cruft”, and promise to get rid of it someday. But it’s not really important right now, we tell ourselves, because computers keep getting faster, and we haven’t quite got to the point where single programs are too large for highly coordinated teams to understand.

But what if cruft makes its way into the human-computer interface? Then you have problems, because human brains aren’t getting noticably faster. (At least, not in the time period we’re concerned with here.) So the more cruft there is in an interface, the more difficult it will be to use.

Read the rest over at The Weblog of Matthew Thomas

Posted by adam at 10:31 PM
Project Genesis

Internal Corporate Correspondence for Project Genesis

To: General Director Jehovah
From: Lucifer, Head of System Technology Department

In the course of our work on project Genesis, we have run into some difficulties (specifically in the "Let there be Light" phase of the project):

We do not currently have access to a source of uninterrupted light that can be channeled into two separate luminary bodies. I propose we utilize a standard "Red Dwarf" type light source for daytime illumination, and use a mirror for nighttime light.

Upgrade to "Yellow Dwarf". The cost differential is minimal, but aesthetically, the look is far more impressive.-- Gabriel (Marketing dept.)

But that's a multi-client light source! Why would the user need it for a single-planet system?-- Lucifer

The marketing department will tell to the user what he needs or doesn't need.-- Gabriel

Lucifer, please restrict your comments to questions within the field of your competence. I'm approving the "Yellow Dwarf".-- Jehovah

By the way, with the level of light output generated by a Yellow Dwarf, we can use a regular planetoid instead of a mirror.-- Michael

Agreed.-- Jehovah
Posted by adam at 10:25 PM
More Post Apocalypse-esque News From Argentina

Last week it was tent cities on freeways and barter economies. This week 1,715 miles of phone cables have been stolen.

A report from the National Statistics and Census Institute indicates that copper exports grew 16.5 percent in the first six months of 2002 compared with same period last year. The increase occurred despite the fact that Argentina has almost no copper production of its own -- it imports most of the metal to produce the cables.

So where does the copper come from? Eduardo Mirabelli, chief of external communications at Telefónica, another regional telephone company, said the answer has to be the stolen cables. "That's almost 700 tons of metal, and 500,000 people without phone service," he said.

Cable theft has always existed in Argentina, telephone company officials say, but in the past it was generally done as a prank. With the economic crisis now gripping the country, stealing cables has become a serious business, particularly in poor neighborhoods outside Buenos Aires, where the telephone companies have not invested in underground cabling.

Posted by adam at 04:39 PM
Weblog Editing and NetNewsWire Right now I'm using Kung-Log to edit my Movable Type weblog and I use NetNewsWire Lite as my aggregator (both in OS X). I'm really looking forward to NetNewsWire Pro which among other things will include weblog editing (screenshot). I'd be more than willing to pay a few shillings for that.
Posted by adam at 04:26 PM
Recommended Reading

Mark Pilgrim is playing with automated recommended reading again. You can get your own recommendations here.

People I subscribed to this morning:

Posted by adam at 03:43 PM
November 19, 2002
No RSS Feed :( David McCusker, is now working for OSAF, which is cool. But his weblog doesn't have an RSS feed, which is 'not cool'.
Posted by adam at 10:26 PM
November 18, 2002
Cocoa Fun Stepwise has a good tutorial on building a Cocoa app using Project Builder and Interface Builder. The app is an HTML source editor. Part 1 teaches you how to start the application in Project Builder and build the basic editor while only having to edit about 5 lines of code. Part 2 shows how to add a preview feature that will open your document in a browser.
Posted by adam at 09:24 PM
Structured Procrastination

I really need to hone the fine art of structured procrastination.

I have been intending to write this essay for months. Why am I finally doing it? Because I finally found some uncommitted time? Wrong. I have papers to grade, textbook orders to fill out, an NSF proposal to referee, dissertation drafts to read. I am working on this essay as a way of not doing all of those things. This is the essence of what I call structured procrastination, an amazing strategy I have discovered that converts procrastinators into effective human beings, respected and admired for all that they can accomplish and the good use they make of time. All procrastinators put off things they have to do. Structured procrastination is the art of making this bad trait work for you. The key idea is that procrastinating does not mean doing absolutely nothing. Procrastinators seldom do absolutely nothing; they do marginally useful things, like gardening or sharpening pencils or making a diagram of how they will reorganize their files when they get around to it. Why does the procrastinator do these things? Because they are a way of not doing something more important. If all the procrastinator had left to do was to sharpen some pencils, no force on earth could get him do it. However, the procrastinator can be motivated to do difficult, timely and important tasks, as long as these tasks are a way of not doing something more important.
Posted by adam at 05:48 PM
Electric Souls

A story over at kuro5hin explores some of the potential consequences of direct neural connections and living in virtual reality.

The year 0, Universal Space Calander was the year that humans first visited Pluto, the last planet in the Solar System to be visited by humanity. People had moved into space in large numbers for the plentiful solar energy and raw resources. By then there were many small community space vessels that did nothing but roam around mining asteroids and the occasional comet.

It was already common in those days for astronauts on long voyages to travel in virtual reality couches. Their brain was connected by a direct neural interface to a virtual reality while their bodily functions were handled by machinery, and tubes fed water and food directly to their stomach. Many of them had jobs they could take with them and do entirely in virtual reality when the ship did not need tending. And when the ship needed tending they would not wake up bodily to do it, but rather animate a mech through their VR connections, and do the tasks remotely. With this strategy, much less living space was required and the astronauts were less likely to suffer from claustrophobia. Their virtual reality could be as big and open as they desired.

Posted by adam at 05:31 PM
Doesn't It Look Like One Of Those Old Manual Lawn Mowers?

Now you can pre order a Segway at Amazon.

Posted by adam at 05:21 PM
November 17, 2002
Waste'n Time

I've been spending a lot of time over at PopCap Games playing all the fun java games especially Big Money

Posted by adam at 05:43 PM
Twilight of the Superheroes

In 1987, Alan Moore wrote a proposal for an epic comic crossover in the DC Comics universe. Sadly it was never published. [via Boing Boing]

Posted by adam at 05:39 PM

Wow! Watson is one of the coolest programs for OS X I've seen. It really is hard to explain so if you have OS X, download it and take it for a spin. It gives you 18 different tools which include, local weather, movie showtimes, Amazon and Ebay searches, TV listings, stock quotes, all in a beautiful GUI without having to visit websites in your browser.

Posted by adam at 11:35 AM
XML On The Brain

I've been doing quite a bit of XML reading lately. First off is XML in a Nutshell (I only have the first edition, anyone know what's new in the 2nd edition/). Then I found the amazingly cool Annoted XML specification which I'm about 1/3rd through.

Once I make it through those two I'm going to try to grok this whole RDF thing. I might need to do a little reading up on URI's and other related things first.

Posted by adam at 11:30 AM
November 01, 2002
NaNoWriMo Day 1

So, I've only written 747 words so far (my goal for today was 2,000) but I'm pretty happy with where I am. You can read my first chapter and then read a conversation I had that really gave me a great idea of where to go with my story.

Posted by adam at 09:36 PM