This is BrainLog, a blog by Dan Sanderson. Older entries, from October 1999 through September 2010, are preserved for posterity, but are no longer maintained. See the front page and newer entries.

April 2000 Archives

April 29, 2000

I went to Circuit City last night just to see if they had any of the old Apexes in stock. As I expected, the clerk said "No" before I could finish the sentence. They were, indeed, recalled. So it's eBay or a not-as-cool-but-still-plays-MP3s Apex (cuz they're still pretty cheap and none of the other cheap ones do the MP3 thing).

April 28, 2000

Circuit City still stocks that Apex DVD player, but:

We are aware from media reports that initial production of the Apex AD600A had secret menus which allowed some users to bypass copyright protections built in to all DVD players. These menus have now been deleted from this player in recent production; our present stock reflects this fact. We purchased the AD600A based on its full array of legitimate features, quality construction and a most attractive price. Due to overwhelming demand, we must limit orders to one unit only.
And in February, dealnews said "One reader reports that this player has been withdrawn from distribution. a Warrensburg, MO, reader reports that the local Hastings store sells the Apex, although it is likely sold out by today. A Mesa, AZ, reports that Circuit City stores increased their price on the Apex to $179.99, if you can find it." $180 is still a decent price for a DVD player, isn't it? And it still plays MP3s on CD-R.

eBay to the rescue? Should I? (Really, should I?)

Also found this Geek.com review on the Apex.

Topsy-Turvy DVD available for pre-order, $17.

Moviemaker.com article on Internet distribution rights. "Be sure to read this article before you grant Internet rights to your distributor."

The Illustrated Elton John Discography.

BMI's list of songs that have been performed X million times. Only one song in the 7 million list (the most plays): "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'".

Bookmark dumping ground:

April 27, 2000

Lisa: Wow, my first published article! Too bad it has someone else's name on it.
Homer: Welcome to the humiliating world of professional writing.

Sometime, somehow, I went from W34 L30 to W35 L29. How the hell did that happen?

Total Recall 2 due to be directed by Jonathan Frakes. Frakes doesn't necessarily ruin a project; I like ST: First Contact (a lot, actually) and one of his ST:TNG episodes. Not sure what to expect from this project, though, and if it's anything like the barely derivative TV series, it'll be nothing like the original movie. But we got two of the main screenwriters from the first. No cast yet. Release date 2001, but then again, Ender's Game is still registered with a year 2000 release date and no cast or crew.

(Speaking of which, didn't the IMDb entry for Ender's Game used to have a producer credit? Someone backed out, I bet, leaving Card stranded with a broken script and no project future. Oh well, sounded like the whole thing needed re-thinking anyway.)

DVD Review interview with Pixar, on A Bug's Life.

eNormicom. From 37signals ("We See People"). (Thanks Magnetbox.)

Bookmark dumping ground:

April 26, 2000

IMDb makes it easy to pick out celebrity Scientologists. Mr. Battlefield Earth John Travolta is an obvious one. Tom Cruise, in 1990, "renounced his devout Catholic beliefs and embraced The Church Of Scientology claiming that Scientology teachings had cured him of the dyslexia that had plagued him all of his life." Nicole Kidman is as well, and they married in Dec of 1990, so...? Jenna Elfman (aww, I was just starting to like her) and her husband Bodhi Elfman (uncle Danny isn't on the list, FWIW). Isaac Hayes, Kirstie Alley, Nancy Cartwright (voice of Bart Simpson), Juliette Lewis, Priscilla Presley...

Movie web sites are using Flash to recreate the excitement and style of their trailers for low-bandwidth transmission. I still think Frequency looks a little too sentimental for my tastes, but the site is an example of this kind of sharp Flash execution. (I was a tad surprised to see that Frequency actually has a story, might actually be worth seeing for its execution. From the director of the popular Primal Fear. Opens April 28th.)

And speaking of Battlefield Earth, battlefieldearth.com and battlefieldearth.net are distinct sites, and yet seem designed by the same people. The .com seems to be a general site about the book and the movie--and is out of date, no way to skip the Flash intro, and replays the unskippable Flash intro every time you try to go back to the main menu. (Sorry, had to get that off my chest.) The .net is dedicated to the movie specifically, links to the .com site, and has slightly better Flash (though hardly as interesting as other sites I've seen).

Battlefield Earth pre-production behind-the-scenes teaser: high bandwidth, low bandwidth. Mentions the involvement of a couple of people (director and cinematographer) that did work on a couple of the Star Wars films, recommended to Travolta by Lucas himself. Their actual involvement in Star Wars (eps I and IV) seem rather limited, at least by their titles...

I'm not gonna bother to look up articles on the darned thing, but I will make the observation that Battlefield Earth seems like an oddly rushed project. It's still "in production" on IMDb and will be released in less than a month. I saw Travolta on a talk show saying it wasn't done yet but opens in a month, and he played a clip of one of the completed scenes. Did I mention the movie looks like crap? (Never read the book, don't care to. I'm just full of snap judgements today.)

Time Code 2000, Mike Figgis's no-edit real-time 4-digital-camera split-screen film, opens April 28. I actually saw a trailer for it on TV; the Quicktime is available buried in their Shockwave-only official web site.

Win $1000 worth of books from Powells.com:

THE FINE PRINT: Powell's employees and members of their immediately family are not eligible. Duh. The winner must be at least eighteen years old because young people have plenty to be smug about already without winning this contest. Furthermore, the person who wins should like books. Surely you can understand what a drag it would be if the winner replied to our congratulatory notice by saying something like, "Oh, I thought you guys sold CDs, too. No? Just books? But I don't like to read." Then we find out the winner is the guy from the back of your English class who always swore he'd read the assignment yet could never identify the story's setting. ("No, Richard," Miss Piligian would reply - she had the patience of an angel, Miss Piligian did - "The Scarlet Letter was not set in Salinas, California.") Richard tells us, "I didn't think I'd win," explaining that he'd only entered in the hope that by not winning his odds would be that much better for the next drawing he tried, the Tri-State Pick-6 maybe, or next month's raffle at the Fish and Game.
Incidentally, Powells' newsletter is as charming as their web site.

Not long after I'd fallen in love with PHP, I've fallen in love with something else. Thankfully I can use TextPad to edit PHP code.

Post-its turn 20! Win some. Post-it flags/bookmarks are immensely useful; I use 'em to put tabs in printed manuals. Strong enough to be tabs, Scotch enough to be removed without damaging the book. Today I discovered the, uh, not-that-useful black Post-Its (no picture, alas), to be used with gold/silver pens, like these nifty Pentel shiny+roller hybrids.

... There, that should make up for my brief absence. :) I'm working a real-life big-timey super-duper full-time job now, and at least for the first week I'm trying not to touch the blog at work. But I'll get the hang of this schedule soon enough. (Oh, and there's plenty more bookmark dumping ground to come, I just don't have time left today.)

April 23, 2000

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the new BrainLog (now a part of dansanderson.com--aren't I pretentious?)! It's actually not fully set up; I'm very much looking forward to MySQL integration, so I can have all those spiffy features everyone else has. But I'll be doing all my updating here from now on.

And no, I will not be displaying the times entries are posted.

Not that anybody cares, but I should mention that URLs linking into the archives will change again. The current set-up is temporary. I've moved a bit prematurely because I wanted to get off the UW system for good (even though the SHF is still there). The other Features aren't moved yet either, and I may take down the Word Count Index (and maybe even the world-famous Y2k joke) for good, because I won't be running it.

Feedback on any and all of this is most welcome!

April 21, 2000

SFWeekly article on Tom Lehrer. (Everyone's blogging it, but I like Lehrer.) The article spends the first two pages talking about Greg Proops, which turns out to be appropriate, I guess. I'm not much of a Proops fan; he opens his act by telling the audience to "Shut up", and call me sensitive, but it kinda turns me off. From the article it sounds like his real act is better than some of his stand-up that I've seen on TV...

What's New in Perl 5.6.0.

CBS's Survivor to premiere May 30. Survivor FAQ.

Stupid Research Tricks. (Thanks Mr Pants.)

JJG's Information Architecture Resources List. (Many thanks rebecca's pocket... and jjg, of course. :)

FutureStep Executive Recruiting Service. My mom sends me this link and says it's very much worth filling out the lengthy registration questionnaire if you're looking for an executive position, to receive "your complimentary salary market value and career feedback reports." There doesn't seem to be a way to specify interest in, say, a software engineer position, just a software engineering supervisor (or did I miss something?). Still useful to see salary range s, I suppose.

Bookmark dumping ground:

April 20, 2000

Blog chat was hoppin' last night. Some of us decided that we'd like to do it weekly instead of biweekly, so show up Wednesdays if you're in the mood.

I'd like to throw thanks to stef who helped touch up a photo I'm using for my new web site last night. The web site should be up in a couple of days, I'll be sure to announce it.

The good news: Cocoa may help fight cholesterol! The bad news: It's only cocoa extract, not fatty sugary chocolate. Oh, and the study was sponsored by the Mars candy company, just in time for Easter.

Reuters would also like to remind us that chocolate is bad for dogs.

The Official Joe Cocker Web Site.

Fun attraction/repulsion applet! I'm really not a math/physics geek, but I'm enough of one to love this kind of thing. (Thanks boingboing.)

Wouldn't Napster be in big trouble if they complied with this request? I'm under the impression that this would institute an editorial policy, bringing up all those issues that Napster is trying to avoid about being responsible for the content their users are trading. IANAL, and sometimes I wish I were. (Not that the issues surrounding Napster are important to my life or anything...)

Bookmark dumping ground:

April 19, 2000

I am employed!

Stef's redesign is too cool.

Article on the only Kubrick film I haven't seen (well, post-"Killer's Kiss", anyway):

On first glance, Barry Lyndon seems to make the least sense of any Kubrick movie; juxtaposed against better-known, better-liked Kubrick movies, its very existence still seems incredible. But when you’re dealing with a major artist like Kubrick, sometimes the most anomalous choices reveal the most about the body of work.
(Thanks Robot Wisdom.)

Echelon FAQ. (Thanks Dad.)

Huh. Brig is right: with the new Spyonit.com redesign, there is no way to add a new spy--at least not one that isn't in their meager browsable selection of pre-built spies.

The FAQ reads: "Add an Instant Spy using the box that appears at the
bottom of the Home page." But nothing like that appears on any page.
What the hell?

So you want to be a computer game developer? (Thanks Absolute Piffle.)

Medline Plus Medical Encyclopedia. (Thanks Absolute Piffle.)

Occupational Outlook Handbook. (Thanks Absolute Piffle.)

Absolute Piffle. (Thanks Absolute Piffle.)

Happy Science Songs! (Thanks Pop Culture Junk Mail.)

You realize that BrainLog is just a metablog. Did I neglect to mention?

Bookmark dumping ground:

April 18, 2000

Satelite images of Area 51, from TerraServer.com.

This Phantom Menace spoof from the French and Saunders Christmas special is quite entertaining, in a French and Saunders sort of way. Cameo by John Inman (you'll know him when you see him). 14 megs. (Thanks Mr Pants.)

There was an Are You Being Served?: The Movie? Why wasn't I informed? IMDb plot summary: "When Grace Brothers closes for redecoration, Young Mr. Grace send the staff on holiday to Costa Plonka, where they find themselves in the middle of a revolution." They meet up with the Harlem Globetrotters; hilarity ensues.

John Di Maggio, who plays Bender on Futurama, apparently played Steve Balmer in Pirates of Silicon Valley. I only mention it as an excuse to link to this image.

The History of Q-Bert. Also, Classic Video Game Surrealism from the Golden Age of Arcade Games. (Both thanks Pop Culture Junk Mail.)

Food Storage Guidelines. Immensely helpful for single-occupancy households like my own. Nice to know that, yes, I really ought to throw out that week-old salsa. (Many thanks Lake Effect.)

For those of you that decided to buy Phantom Menace on VHS, check out TheForce.net's Guide to Cameos and Hidden Images. Some are a little, uh, obsessive ("When leaving the ship, heading for Tatoine, watch R2D2. Someone forgot to airbrush out the bar holding his back legs together"), but there's some fun stuff mentioned.

Blog chat tomorrow (Wednesday) 5:30pm PDT. irc.skunkworks.cx #blogirc. You'll need an IRC client.

Bookmark dumping ground:

April 17, 2000

Ira Glass fills in, from KUOW's Rewind. (I blogged it before Lisa did, nevermind what she tells you.)

Twilight of the crypto-geeks, Salon article on geeks rescinding Libertarianism.

It was as if some tipping point had been reached, in which a critical mass of people involved in technology had suddenly looked up and found themselves to be older, grown-up, and in need of social supports -- grown-up like the Net itself.

While considering adding Critiques of Libertarianism to my bookmark dumping ground, I decided it was worth elaborating for the sake of fairness: Libertarian FAQ, and Libertarian category at FAQs.org. Oh, and I might as well mention my interest in this book, to be published in May, which investigates why Libertarianism is so rampant in geeks. (Paulina Borsook wrote a recent Salon article on dating difficulties in Silicon Valley, among others.)

Andy Dick has a web site. Exceptionally done. Includes a beautiful black and white pic of Andy and Phil Hartman.

iSyndicate lets you acquire syndicated content, free and licensed, for your web page, including headlines and photos. You can also syndicate your own content. Much of the free stuff you can probably get yourself via an RSS/XML file, but it's interesting to see non-free content as well.

Davenetics has a new site categorizing actual legal documents from the latest deals in the Internet business community. A subsection of FindLaw.com.

RAM Price Index. (Thanks Lake Effect.)

Bookmark dumping ground:

April 14, 2000

The following instructions for nasal irrigation can help alliviate allergies, sinus problems, postnasal drip and the common cold. The procedure can also prevent infection and worsening of nose symptoms:

  1. Mix 1/2 cup of common table salt with 1/2 cup of baking soda, dry. Keep the irrigation solution in a plastic food container or jelly jar with a lid. To make a solution, stir 1/2 teaspoon of the dry salt/soda solution with 1 cup of warm water.
  2. Stand by the sink and use a soft rubber bulb syringe to squirt the solution up each nostril, letting it drip out. Blow your nose gently to clear the secretions. Repeat.
  3. Now, squirt some solution into your nostril with moderate force. While doing so, snort the solution all the way back through your nose and into your throat. Use short, sniffing, snorting actions to get the water through. It will go to the back of your throat and may makeyou want to gag. Clear your throat, spit it out and repeat.
  4. When your nose is completely clear, blow and pat it dry. You may now use other nasal sprays, as prescribed. Since your nose is now moist and clean, the sprays will not irritate and wil provide better coverage and treatment.
  • Irrigate twice a day, followed by nasal sprays.
  • Never blow your nose forcefully while holding it shut.
  • If the solution stings and burns your nose, change the amount of salt and soda, or the water temperature. Since the solution resembles normal body fluids, it should feel neutral in your nose and not cause irritation.

Peter Peake, of Aardman Animations, discusses his Oscar nominated animated short Humdrum in Atom Films' Director's Chair. The others are neat too.

Star Wars II to use digital cameras.

Propaganda from Modern Humorist.

Snood, an addicting shareware game for Mac and Windows, got some free publicity on The Late Late Show the other night. One of the guests, Clint Howard?, mentioned it for no good reason. He liked it. I saw it accidentally while switching between two PBS stations. Anyhoo, I've been playing it, and it's pretty neat.

I'm enjoying Joel Spolsky's continuing series of essays on user interface design; their rambliness lends them charm. (Thanks q.)

TV News: What Local Stations Don't Want You to Know!

Bookmark dumping ground:

April 13, 2000

Jews for Java. "In Israel, ultra-Orthodox rabbis have banned their followers from cruising the Web, but that's not stopping the observant from hacking code."

Shoplifter with Knife and Gun Killed was KING 5's top story on Wednesday, because a KING camera operator got complete footage of the police killing. Other stations covered a small no-fatality plane crash.

Neuroscience for Kids! From a prof here at the UW. Supposedly the most accessed page on the UW faculty web servers (all UW web servers? hard to tell, no raw data). A student's free Internet postcards service wins the honor for the student servers. (And here I thought the SHF had a real shot at that honor...)

Start up discussions and more with "live shared email" that doesn't bloat people's inboxes (using a Java applet embedded in an HTML email): Zaplet.

Ew. (Uh, thanks, strange brew.)

Huh. Amazon.com now lists movies in theaters with no planned video release in their video section. They include links to the IMDb showtimes database, as well as a review of the film. Perhaps this is their way of pre-listing the video in their database, ala book releases. They do have email notification of release dates, though.

Bookmark dumping ground:

April 12, 2000

Jews of the '50s in 3D! (Thanks Strange Brew.) After whipping out the blue-red anaglyph 3D glasses to play with this page (from 10 years ago--kept 'em for just such an occasion!), I just had to search for more 3D images to look at. Unfortunately most of it was red-green, not red-blue, so it gives me a headache with these glasses. And there's a bunch of "parallel" (cross-eye) method pics out there, which I'm still convinced is a big Emperor's-Clothes-style hoax. Ah well:

Get your own red-blue 3D glasses. Cheap ones for $0.50, nice ones for $10.

Ten Companies to Work For. In case you're lazy: Icarian, Emerald Solutions, eHobbies.com, BroadVision, SAS Institute, Adobe Systems, Loudeye Technologies, Trilogy Software, Resource Marketing, and Internet Pictures. (Thanks Paul.)

Alan Ball on American Beauty. Also, article on M. Night Shyamalan. Both from Writer's Guild of America.

Win a Movie Light! A $500 value! From Mole.com, your online resource for movie lighting. Check out their other stores: StudioDepot.com, for general studio merchandise (including a monthly drawing for a Cinematographer's Gift Pack); StudioAuctions.com, online auctions for movie making equipment; and MoleTown.com, movie and TV merchandise for 'end-users'.

Intro to Color Theory, from A List Apart.

How Programmers Stole the Web. Right on, or misguided? You be the judge. (Thanks Swallowing Tacks.)

Bookmark dumping ground:

April 11, 2000

I too shall blog the teaser trailer for the new Lord of the Rings movie trilogy. Decent cast, though I haven't read the books yet so I don't know how apt the casting is (some seem disappointed). To be directed by Peter Jackson, whose IMDb bio reads: "His films frequently conclude with a bloodbath, e.g.: the lawnmower with the zombies in Braindead (1992), and the murder of Honora Parker in Heavenly Creatures (1994)." To be written by Jackson and his usual cohorts.

And for good measure: Angelina Jolie cast as Lara Croft. To be directed by Simon West, whose IMDb bio reads: "Before Simon West started his feature film directorial career with Con Air (1997), he directed TV commercials, such as the Budweiser add with the dancing ants." To be written by Pat Massett and John Zinman, neither of whom have IMDb entries (unless this is John Zinman).

You know, if you're looking for inexperienced people to write and direct big budget films based on popular established content, I'm currently unemployed and looking for a project.

Customs uses x-ray specs to see you naked!!!

The Sims insane asylum.

Oedipus The King (Of The Road). (Thanks Pith and Vinegar, Larkfarm.)

Bookmark dumping ground:

April 10, 2000

It was only a matter of time. Jim Roepcke now has a monitor app that downloads people's publicly available "Favorites" lists from Weblogs.com and counts, sorts and maps them by blog. For example, there are 11 people with BrainLog in their Favorites.

Of course, this only reminds me of my reservations of the lack of the ability to opt-out of making your Weblogs.com Favorites list publicly viewable (or rather, opt-in seems more appropriate). As much as I enjoy knowing I'm on 11 lists and who they are, I'm a little uncomfortable knowing that they didn't volunteer that information. (You'll notice I don't have anything in my Weblogs.com Favorites.)

Incidentally, I hope to implement opt-in public lists in the next version of the SHF. (Boy, I'm really talking that up, aren't I?) Stay tuned.

Kieslowski's Decalogue will be out on DVD April 18. Now how about DVDs of Red, White and Blue?

Basics of lip-sync animation, from Gamasutra. (Thanks Robot Wisdom.)

New Scientist article on the evolution of gesture. (Thanks Robot Wisdom.)

Bookmark dumping ground:

April 7, 2000

quesoJason introduced me to WBGO in New York in blogirc last night and I can't get enough of it. A great selection of jazz and swing, far better than any other streamed jazz I've heard. (And the fast jazz makes blogirc about 20 times as entertaining, and 200 times as exhilerating.)

Kozmo.com is now open for breakfast and lunch, 7am to 11am. I guess they've finally accepted the fact that everyone is using them for food more than videos. I just hope the prices don't go up as a result...

All Nude Teen Stick Figures!!! (Thanks NeoFlux.)

I have 915 bookmarks in my browser. I think I'm gonna start unloading them into this blog so I can delete them from my "Favorites". I hope you don't mind.

Bookmark dumping ground:

April 5, 2000

Experts say this is a great time for first-timers to jump into the stock market, with mindless panic driving prices down with a near-guaranteed recovery. Don't have the bucks? ($5,000 suggested minimum for long-term investing, at least 5 years.) Try a simulation to watch how much you could have made if you did: EduStock (a ThinkQuest site) has great info and a simulation game, and Virtual Stock Exchange is always popular. Yahoo has an April-only short-term game where you can see why short-term investing is a bad idea, and for cash prizes!

Homebrewed SDSL in Eastern Washington.

Weird Al's latest tour to be released on DVD. (Thanks mathowie of MetaFilter.) Check the store for 21 music videos on DVD for $25. Now how about releasing UHF on DVD? (I'd kinda like to own a copy of The Compleat Al too, just for old times sake...)

Does anyone have any instrumental piano music (recordings) to recommend? Solo or otherwise, any genre. Looking to expand beyond the standards.

Teehee! I tricked Lisa into taking one of my pills. Sunshine on my shoulder makes me happy.

Blog chat today (Wednesday) 5:30pm PDT. irc.skunkworks.cx #blogirc. You'll need an IRC client.

April 4, 2000

Reel.com is hosting the official Chicken Run home page, including the trailer. Chicken Run is the first feature-length animation from Aardman Studios, creators of the Wallace and Gromit series. Coming June 23rd!

Warner Bros's authorized tribute to Stanley Kubrick. (Thanks Pith and Vinegar.)

DVDFile's review of the Three Kings DVD puts this disc on my wishlist.

The Sci-Fi Channel plans to air the student version of George Lucas's THX-1138. The short, fully titled THX-1138-4EB: Electronic Labyrinth, was Lucas's student project and is the basis for the full-length feature, THX-1138. The broadcast will be part of a new series entitled Exposure, "to showcase short films from both established and up-and-coming filmmakers". (Thanks Lake Effect.)

Informative editorial at Reel.com on the Star Wars DVD issue, including even more confusing news regarding the VHS release of Episode I: The Phantom Menace:

Menace cassettes will be available in two forms. In addition to the regularly priced pan-and-scan version (which shears off up to 44% of the original theatrical viewing area), Fox will be releasing a "collector's edition" which costs nearly twice as much. Purchasing the latter is the only way to obtain the widescreen version, a more complete viewing format coveted by fans and videophiles alike as superior to pan-and-scan. The widescreen tape also contains a ten-minute behind-the-scenes documentary, as well as a 48-page, lightweight version of the popular book, The Art of Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace, and a reprinted 35mm movie cel. Although the collector's edition seems all well and good for the serious fan, it's more than a little frustrating for those only interested in a simple widescreen copy, which usually retails for the same amount as a pan-and-scan copy. The mere fact that consumers are even forced to argue over trifles like VHS viewing formats — the screen resolution of either is but a fraction of its digital successors' — has put some over the edge.
The collector's edition is $30 at Amazon.

Weblogs.com ditches the sign-up form. I told you they weren't crazy.

April 3, 2000

I'm fine, how are you?

April 1, 2000

Good April Fools jokes take too much time to do.