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 Older entries, from October 1999 through September 2010, are preserved for posterity, but are no longer maintained.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.

October 2000 Archives

October 31, 2000

Larry's Perl 6 Showcase talk. Wah-hah.

The Red Herring interviews Al Gore. "His answers to our questions were discursive and abstract. To explain his ideas, he spoke not just in paragraphs, but in entire chapters. He drew inspiration from management theory, computer architecture, and thermodynamics."

See also their interview with George Bush. Fewer surprises, but good for comparison. (It's a tech industry mag.) "GWB: Please don't refer to me as a simple man. Only I am allowed to make that reference. [Smiles.]"

The Cell, Platinum Edition DVD will be released December 19, with an amazing feature set. I missed it in the theaters, so I'm glad that the DVD release will get this caliber of DVD treatment.

The New Venue is holding the first ever Aggressively Boring Film Festival, "the first ever film fest for the Palm OS." They're taking submissions for greyscale silent films of an appropriate resolution. The November 10 deadline is a little short, if you ask me, but I can't wait for the results. I might enter myself.

Primedia to buy About.com for $690 million in stock. Investors not impressed.

October 30, 2000

Rhino Records does anti-Napster PSAs. It's just not cool.

This Buchanan campaign ad is. No adjective necessary.

Daisy Girl II, and anonymous republicans running pro-Nader ads to siphon Gore votes. (Both commercials available as streamed video in the article.)

AOL 6.0 has no home page button, always opening AOL.com on start-up. What's next, the Address bar?

The new version of Yahoo! Messenger for Windows has free PC-to-phone telephone calls, anywhere in the United States.

October 27, 2000

Daylight saving ends on Sunday at 2am, for those of you that celebrate daylight saving. Fall back.

Sources for Time Zone and Daylight Saving Time Data. I'm gonna keep blogging time zone and daylight saving sites until I fix the time zone adjustments for the SubHonker Filter.

Oh my God: This ShowBiz Pizza Place / Chuck E. Cheese fan site is fantastic. See especially The Rock-afire Explosion Multimedia Archive. The RAE is the animatronic band at the center of Showbiz Pizza Place (a spin-off of Chucky Cheese pizza). See archives of promotional videos, songs from the show tapes and albums, memorabilia, history, franchise materials, and even a few videos from Let's Fun Pizza in Chile. (Looks like we missed the October 14th Showbiz Pizza Place / Chuck E. Cheese Chat Night. Shucks.)

I was introduced to all kinds of bastardized versions of classic popular music from "Gee Our First Album" (which I should probably take from my father's LP collection before he throws it out). Fatz Geronimo, keyboardist gorrila, being my favorite of the group, I took to "You May Be Right" (the Billy Joel song) and "The Music Goes 'round and Around." Being my first exposure to these songs, I actually prefer some of these arrangements/performances to their original counterparts.

*sigh*

ChuckECheese.com is the official site, of course.

Chuck E. Cheese founder Nolan Bushnell created Pong, by the way, and went on to found Atari before deciding the future was in animatronic rats and crappy pizza. Check out this interview, this article (with hot tub photo), and another article/interview.

October 26, 2000

Amazon.com PlayStation 2 Store. Christmas is, uh, just around the corner, you know. The damned thing probably plays DVDs better than my Apex.

I like how the PlayStation 2 already has a review posted: 5 stars, ends with the line, "I am hoping to get my hands on one as soon as possible." (Amazon has a sweepstakes for first reviews of a product.)

It's "out of stock", of course, and even when it comes in it'll sell out until after the holiday season, so it's OK to just give me an IOU. This also means Amazon won't let me put it on my wishlist. So if you go to my wishlist for holiday gift ideas, you won't see the $499 eternally unavailable PlayStation 2 on my wishlist. If you can't afford to get me a $499 eternally unavailable PlayStation 2, you can find less expensive gift ideas on my wishlist.

MathWorld is gone. *sob*! One of the best sites on the web...

www.bushthumbs.com. Bush bashing fun.

AmigaOne hardware specification announced. Yes, that Amiga.

Sun says Java moving toward full open source.

October 20, 2000

This took guts. One thing to write a meta-blog feature, quite another to sing it. (It's "MEEM-pool", by the way. ;)

Tim O'Reilly and Jeff Bezos have launched BountyQuest, "an Internet-based, broadcast reward service for finding prior art relevant to the validity of a patent." And if you can prove this has been done before, they'll pay you $14,159.

Not getting enough exercise? Maybe you are! The SportBrain Personal Fitness Assistant gives you credit for the exercising you do throughout the day. A fancy pedometer works with PC software and their web site to coordinate working more activity into your daily routines.

The prizes-for-steps thing is friggin' brilliant, by the way.

October 19, 2000

Stupid patent on screen protectors (such as WriteRights for Palm Pilots) owned by some guy interested in nothing but exploiting intellectual property laws. Not only is he pursuing Concept Kitchen (makers of WriteRights), but he is actively pursuing anyone who sells WriteRights, including individuals selling used Palm Pilots with WriteRights attached.

Converse nears corporate extinction. All-stars are hard enough to find as it is...

The International Press Telecommunications Council has officially approved NewsML v1.0, an XML-based standard for all multimedia news creation, storage and delivery. Some large news sites have already committed to using the standard in their news feeds. Find out more information here.

October 18, 2000

Handspring releases Visor Platinum and Visor Prism. The former is faster, $300. The latter is in color, $450. The latter one would make a great Christmas gift for me, it would.

Yes, I already have a Handspring. If you had a Palm-style handheld, you'd know that color is more than just fancy; with limited screen real estate, color provides a much welcome additional dimension of user interface feedback. And the backlighting is much easier on the eyes.

It's Northwest Bookfest week here in Seattle. Lasts through the 20th; some good stuff on the schedule.

Kevin Bacon Game as Math Theory: Properties of the Kevin Bacon Absorbing Set.

Build Your Own One-of-those-clocks,-you-know-those-clocks-with-the-spinning-lights. Electrical and mechanical engineering experience required, but the parts are cheap.

Speaking of programmable processors and hooby electronics, Parallax:BASIC Stamps are still available. Those starter kits look cool (I like the $150 one).

SheetMusicPlus.com.

October 17, 2000

Cable channel shows off films made before rules made female libidos disappear. Pre-code talkies on Turner Classic Movies, Oct 27. Aw yeah.

A gun kills many men before it's done... One gun...

Perhaps everyone who'd care already knows, but Webgrrls ROCKS! 2000 is October 21, at Bellevue Community College. $50.

Wall of Sound Soundbooth is worth trying out for their Twisted Mixes collection of stations. My favorite: Music to Die For, where somebody dies in every song. Hearing all those story-songs about heroic or tragic death strung together is a bizarre (and even depressing) experience.

For regular listening, I like Musical Confetti, randomly selected songs from every genre. Listening to the middle movement of a symphony then jumping straight to Funkytown amuses me endlessly.

I've blogged this Infocom page, but I've been playing the old games using the walkthroughs. I love games, especially text adventures, but I don't have the patience for them. (Can't really draw maps and notes while playing them on my Handspring on the bus...)

October 16, 2000

Marketing scheme successful: I love my TiVo. I love being able to pause TV. I love being able to record TV without the hassles of tapes (making sure you don't tape over things you want to keep, tape speeds, tape quality)-- and being able to transfer a recording to tape at any time. I'm sure I'll love being able to jump back in time by 8 seconds once I figure out how to do that. But the ultimate success of the great giveaway scheme: I absolutely love the on-screen TV grid and show information, which you need to subscribe to their service at $10 a month to use.

A feature I have mixed feelings about: It remembers shows you like (by either recording them or voting for them via red and green buttons on the remote control) and automatically records other shows you might like. The day I plugged the thing in, I played with the instant replay feature during America's Most Wanted, then set it up to record a local comedy show late in the evening. When I woke up the next morning, I discovered that the TiVo thought I might enjoy an episode of Three's Company (which apparently runs on UPN or something at 9am on Sunday). I didn't, but I appreciate the thought.

After only another day, however, I'm already annoyed with the feature. I look over and see the little red light on all the time, meaning another show I don't like being digitized onto my device's hard drives, which I will have to press a bunch of buttons to delete. It's like spam, and if TiVo's partnerships were more strongly established, it would be spam.

But being able to conveniently watch what I want to watch when I want to watch it without the hassle and effort of VCRs is just plain cool. I'm not sure if it's worth $400 ($300 after rebate), but the Great TiVo Giveaway is still underway. It's no longer a sure thing (as it was when I got mine), but still probably worth shooting off an entry. I'm certainly willing to pay $10/mo for the TV grid features, even though I only have crappy reception of 5 channels. (This device is clearly more fun with cable; after a while, the recommendations might actually be reasonable...)

Applause to Kraft for returning to the foil covers on their Jell-O pudding snacks. Those epoxied layered plastic covers were awful.

You should never have to stick your fingers into food to remove the wrapper. Period. (I'm talking to you, Seneca Foods applesauce.)

101 uses for your coffin. Aw yeah.

realMYST playable demo test. Have a PC with a 3D card? Experience Myst like it was meant to be experienced, with new immersive graphics and enhanced audio. (Alas, my card doesn't cut it.)

Sun has servlet- and applet-based search engines to download for use with the Java documentation and tutorial. The applet works on Sun's site over the Internet, or on your own local copy of the docs! The applet for the Sun docs is free to download. DocFather, the engine, can be licensed for Internet, Intranet, or CD-ROM Publishing.

I've been meaning to write my own such engine for CD-ROM publishing use. I could put all the docs I ever use on a single, searchable disc... But I've been meaning to write a lot of things.

Stale link by now, but: The new Aibo pet robotic dogs will sell for $1500 in the U.S. The new model "has an array of new features that enable it to experience 'intimate interaction with people,' Sony said. ... 'From the first day you interact with Aibo it will become your new companion,' a Sony promotional video said as several new Aibos were shown cavorting, waggling their ears, and avoiding objects in their path."

See also the Aibo home page and the specifications page.

October 9, 2000

DVDDebate.com tells of WB's enhanced DVD region coding system intended to break multi-region players. I have an ulcer dedicated to the DVD industry.

Hey neat, $600 flat screen.

Truth in Advertising (3.5 MB QuickTime video). (Thanks sylvar of memepool.)

Robert Rodriguez's 10-minute Film School. (Thanks Metascene.)

Slashdot's Your Holiday Present Wish List thread is slightly entertaining. Already a few great on-the-web gift ideas. I want an EcoSphere; love their expensive fountains, too.

Your Basic Hardware Page. Just another PC hardware site, but haven't seen it before. I also visit Tom's Hardware and Hardware Central, when I care about things hardware. Which I rarely do, because hardware is boring.

October 4, 2000

The Conversation will release on DVD on December 12, with director's commentary, as well as a commentary by the supervising editor and a behind-the-scenes featurette. (Amazon's newly added catalog entries don't seem to have been proofread; the title is most definitely "The Conversation," not "Conversation.")

Also, the 1982 movie adaptation of the musical Annie will be released on DVD on December 12. This is the Albert Finney version, not that piece of garbage that came out last year. (Link is to Express.com, as Amazon's catalog entry for this is all messed up: it assigns a Dec 12 release date for the 1999 version, which is known to be incorrect.)

Yes, I would add the DVD of Annie to my wish list. What's your problem?

CBS's revival of the TV show The Fugitive is currently filming in Pioneer Square in Seattle, down where I work. Tim Daly was running across streets all afternoon yesterday, and will continue to do so for a while. Rumor has it that a bunch of episodes will be filmed here.

One of my favorite commercials. As ads go, it's nothing special, but I laughed out loud the first dozen times I'd seen it.

When Macgyver jumped the shark. (Thanks Strange Brew for mentioning it. Fun read.) Incidentally, last Friday was the 15th anniversary of the first episode of MacGuyver.

IIRC, MacGyver's first name was Angus. And "Hell Week" was a good episode. Now I wanna see re-runs again. Or have every episode on DVD. Many Knight Rider eps are on VHS now, thoguh they cost $19.95 each...

October 3, 2000

The 6th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition is in full swing! Pick up this year's entries and start plowing through them. A rule of the competition is that a game/work should be 'solvable' in less than 2 hours, so too much isn't expected of judges. Good thing, too, because there are 53 entries this year. Vote for some, vote for all.

I keep meaning to enter, but I keep forgetting when the deadlines are. The prizes are always cool. Develop early and you can get the IF community to test and debug for you. Completeness is key to having a solid work of IF, which usually means having reasonable responses to input that you originally didn't account for ("draw curtains," for example). Testers are to your interactive fiction as readers are to a preview draft of your novel.

Andrew Plotkin is a major IF contributor, both in works of IF and in software engineering. Only linked 'cuz I like his home page.

Behind the Music That Sucks.

Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas is getting a special edition DVD re-release today. Extras include extra footage, Burton short films and more.

There's a 2600 meeting at the Washington State Convention Center this Friday, 5-8pm.

How to Mix a Pop Song From Scratch. (Thanks Apathy.)

October 2, 2000

At the end of the September 30th season premiere (was that the premiere?) of The John Report with Bob, John Keister mentioned that the reason why the domain name for the web site isn't thejohnreportwithbob.com is because a 13-year-old beat them to the registration. Not a bad fan site. I wonder how many minutes it'll take him to mention the mention of his site on his site...

Speaking of beating people to a domain name, I notice brainlog.com is registered by someone in the Netherlands. I remember when I opened BrainLog almost a year ago, I checked for the domains and saw they were all available-- because how would the phrase "brain log" occur or be of use to anyone?-- but decided against them. Apparently brainlog.com was taken by someone two months afterward, and was never used. How rude.

I just snagged .org, but it doesn't point anywhere yet.

Discounted DVDs at Amazon, for a limited time. Some popular movies in this list, including The Addams Family, Little Voice, and several of the original Star Trek TV series discs.

Joel likes these T-shirts.

I've seen spammers do some creative tricks, but a recent one has piqued my curiosity. An ad for "business to business marketing" software, a CD-ROM of domain name owner names and addresses mined from various whois databases, includes a notice at the bottom claiming the message to be "in compliance of the new email bill section 301. Per Section 301, Paragraph (a)(2)(C) of S. 1618, further transmissions to you by the sender of this email will be stopped at no cost to you. This message is not intended for residents in the State of WA, NV, CA & VA..." That's not the part that interests me, though the not-intended-for clause is cute (spam with forged headers is illegal in WA via an unenforcable state law). What's interesting is that below the notice is a block of text. I'm guessing this is either an attempt to get past spam filters, or it's there to show up in search engines in case it is ever quoted on a weblog:

On the other hand, the appearance of parasitic gaps in domains relatively inaccessible to ordinary extraction is not subject to our hedonic Folklife perspective over a given time period. We can see, in retrospect, the product configuration baseline appears to correlate rather closely with a parasitic gap construction. However, relational information is not to be considered in determining improved subcultural compatibility-testing. In the discussion of resumptive pronouns following (81), any exponential Folklife coefficient is rather different from the total configurational rationale. As a result, the earlier discussion of deviance necessitates that coagulative measures be applied to all deeper structuralistic conceptualization. Obviously, the systematic use of complex symbols adds explicit performance contours to a corpus of utterance tokens upon which conformity has been defined by the paired utterance test. However, the characterization of critically co-optive criteria is not quite equivalent to the evolution of specifications over a given time period. As a resultant implication, the fundamental error of regarding functional notions as categorial requires considerable systems analysis and trade-off studies to arrive at the anticipated fourth-generation equipment.
Anyone have a more interesting explanation? (P.S. Yes, qJason, I too have noticed an influx of spam. A major mailing list must have changed hands.)