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 Older entries, from October 1999 through September 2010, are preserved for posterity, but are no longer maintained.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

November 2000 Archives

November 28, 2000

New Pierce Brosnan Movie, Like Many Others, Sent Straight to Video. Brosnan jokes aside, this is what happens when $120 million budgets become better investments than $10 million budgets, given matching promotional funds.

Check the Worldwide Box Office to see if your favorite big budget film broken even. Clicking on the movie title takes you to the corresponding IMDb "business data" page, including budget info. The query interface on top lets you sort by type of gross, range by date and search by title.

Thanks to filmfodder.com for picking up a couple of tide-me-overs for us bated-breath Spielberg/Kubrick fans: the new poster for A.I., and the archives of Counting Down's AI Crafts Services Table Bagel Cam.

Also thanks to the fods for the link to Coming Attractions' AI page, which I keep forgetting to check: "... from our anonymous source: the teaser trailer for Spielberg's A.I. will be appearing with the December 22 release of Robert Zemeckis' Cast Away starring Tom Hanks. You can bet on it."

Movies.com asks the key question of A.I.: "Which will prevail, Kubrick's cool cerebral irony or Spielberg's warm sentimental streak? Or is there room for both?"

leJOS: Java based OS for Lego RCX.

National Weather Service Western Region Forecast Map. Track your storm warnings with a clickable Java applet map!

November 27, 2000

Woohoo! The Seattle Sketch Comedy Project 2000 is on!

Bloody short notice, though: opening night is this Wednesday, November 29th; $15. Then 13 "full-length" (35 minute) shows from November 30 through December 2; $5/each. Check the schedule.

DreamWorks' next computer generated feature, Shrek, is set to release May 2001. Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy (playing a donkey), Cameren Diaz, and Jon Lithgow in that old standby premise, a universe with a bunch of fairy tales mixed together. Interesting to see animation houses are less afraid of animating humans.

Compare Pixar's next, Monsters, Inc. Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, James Coburn, and Jennifer Tilly. Ooh, fur!

Palm V with color to be shown at Cebit 2001 in March (no extra info at link). Color, SD (SecureDigital) card slot and a new multimedia-enabled OS. SD add-ons include MP3 players and the like; Palm's belated response to the Handspring Springboard.

Also: vaporware report of a possible Microsoft .Net port of MS Word and Excel to the Palm OS.

I enjoyed MrBarrett's November 24 entry.

Snow globes: It's a good thing. (Thanks Mermaniac.)

Jakarta ORO, open source Java regexp library.

November 24, 2000

Cukor's 1954 remake of A Star Is Born (with Judy Garland and James Mason) is out on DVD, with as much footage as they could rescue from the studio's removal-- and subsequent loss-- of important scenes and an entire musical number. Years after the film was made, 22 minutes of the lost footage was recovered and restored. As I understand it, the rest of the film appears on this disc assembled from stills and recovered audio tracks, which is as complete as this butchered masterpiece is going to get.

The new version of A Star Is Born was assembled. Cukor died two days before its grand re-opening at Radio City Music Hall.

Sturtle.com's Amazon.com Wish List Secret Santa Program. Sign up today! I did, so I might be buying you something.

Mike Muuss, the author of the essential Unix networking program 'ping', has died. Anyone working with networks uses ping as part of their daily lives-- see lower in that page for the parodic honorarium in the form of an Amazon.com book review. Slashdotters mourn, with obligatory 100% packet loss jokes.

In his own words (warning: white text on almost-white background; hit Ctrl-A to read).

I don't use Blogger, but I've always thought there might be an interest in self-contained installable customizable scripts that perform weblog maintenance without a central server. I tend to sit on my ideas while other people implement them.

If architects had to work like web programmers.

Netscape professional sez: Don't use all that non-standard Netscape 4 crap, cuz it doesn't work in Netscape 6. 'sok, nobody's using Netscape 6 anyway.

November 23, 2000

Happy Thanksgiving!

Apologies for the ten-hour outage yesterday. DreamHost's database went down, and when it came back up my tables were corrupt. The problem appears to have been fixed; I'm not sure if any data was lost.

November 21, 2000

Handspring Visor: $250.

Nokia 8290 cell phone: $180.

IrLink: $20.

PTelnet: $0.

Having your server send email to your cell phone when it needs your attention, then be able to use your Visor to telnet into the server to fix the problem from anywhere in the nation with no long distance charges: priceless.

Ditto for being able to browse the web and check email.

Not having a rechargable Visor: sucky. IR sucks juice like crazy. I can probably get, oh, 3 hours of Internet use out of three AAA batteries.

Also, IrLink doesn't work with the 61xx Nokias yet. Works great with my 8290, though.

Now I need to fashion a special phone+Visor case that holds the IR in proper orientation while I'm on the bus...

VNC, free software that allows you to control computers with almost any kind of operating system by remote via a full rendition of the remote computer's screen, using another computer of almost any other kind of operating system, is available for Palm OS. Check out the screen shot of a color Palm with a view of a Windows 95 desktop. If it works, that's pretty cool. But those Palm processors are pretty weak, and you'd need a pretty fast network connection for it to be useful. Then again, all versions of VNC have surprised me with their effectiveness.

Who doesn't like Schubert's Erlkonig? Check out other sheet music on that site.

Plex86 runs Windows95! I may finally make Linux my primary OS. Now I just need a MacOS than runs on an Intel processor and I'm set...

4-inch personal satelites: $45,000. Have your very own!

November 20, 2000

ICANN: The Winners Are .... 'swhat you get for not having any individual-member-elected representatives on the board. I'm surprised there's no .msn or .aol, all things considered.

How to Hurt the Hackers: The Scoop on Internet Cheating and How You Can Combat It. Network gaming could be fun...

New Yorker web site debuts in January. Was a pain blogging last week's blog article with nothing to link to.

Get it while it lasts! Only $14,999!

TiVo starts another giveaway essay contest, with a weirder theme this time.

A decent pop music lyric site.

Notes on learning styles.

November 17, 2000

Fun with your Palm and your Nokia! Draw icons, write new ring tones, and connect your laptop/Palm to the Internet. The saleslady craftily talked me into buying a more expensive phone than I wanted, but I just realized that it saved me much more money in connectivity hardware for Palm-to-phone connectivity. Modems and cables would cost hundreds of dollars-- and I'm not even sure it'd work-- and with this phone I can just use the IR port.

I ultimately went with VoiceStream, for many reasons. Digital coverage is very decent--including all along I-90 between Seattle and Spokane, which I didn't know about until I got to the store. Their highly promoted $40/mo plan has more minutes than I could possibly use, and a reasonable overage rate. I could probably switch to their equally priced national no roaming plan and still not use any overage minutes. They provide GSM service, which is a world-wide technology standard, as opposed to many services' semi-proprietary technologies. The right balace of features, coverage and price for my uses, and recommendations from friends sold me on their service.

I'm already a little scared of my phone, though. The Nokia 8290 is extremely small, and I'm afraid of losing it. I'm also a little skeptical of reception; my boss tells me cell reception is terrible in the building where we work (walking into a conference room puts his dual-mode phone into analog roaming), and my call to customer service over that phone from my apartment was of dubious digital quality. (I'm still waiting for service activation, so I can't call anyone other than customer service at the moment.) Could just be the battery isn't fully charged. But we'll see.

I have 72 hours to get out of the year long commitment. 20 minutes of use to exchange the fancy phone. But I've got a feeling it'll all grow on me.

Cellular Phone Service FAQ.

Nokia 8290 Phone Page.

Point.com is well known as probably the best cellular phone comparison service. I know I'm a little behind the times in finding this site, but this is the first time I've considered a cell phone. I want to see more consumer comparison sites with these kinds of features.

Cellular Phone Information For Beginners.

Wireless FAQ.

AAA Communications emergency 911 cellular phone and cellular phone accessories. The FCC requires all cell phones to be able to make a free call to 911 even when not on a plan. AAA sells phones set up to use existing networks to call 911 with no monthly fees, if your cell phone is really only for emergencies.

Mobile Phones are Penis Extensions.

The Brunching Shuttlecocks: The Bjork Song.

A TCP/IP Resources List.

November 15, 2000

"John Pendry of Imperial College, London has been asking what happens if a material's refractive index, which measures how much it bends a ray of light or other form of electromagnetic radiation, is negative instead of positive... [I]f [his conclusions] are right, they could prove revolutionary for the design of new types of lenses."

The Art of the Guitar.

The Education of Henry Adams.

Movies.com and Fact City have a query page that lets you query movie data with Madlibs-style questions ("Who played _______ in _______?").

If you try that spaghetti sauce recipe, don't overdo the sugar. Just don't.

November 14, 2000

Mister Rogers' Neighborhood will shoot its final episode in 2001. "Rogers is expected to dedicate his time to his educational Web sites, publications, and museum programs."

The Brunching Shuttlecocks: Am I President or Not?

Woohoo! Java Examples in a Nutshell, 2nd Edition came out last month. Seems like all I need to do is wish really hard, and O'Reilly eventually comes through. A solid Woohoo! for the 3rd edition of the Perl Pocket Reference as well, with an index in the back.

The Muppets use Instant Run-off Voting. A use of copyright infringement to make a point. No comment on the point being made, except that the more I read about voting strategies, the more I want to read mathematical analyses of political procedures.

Why isn't IE 5.5 remembering my passwords, like it used to before I reinstalled Windows? I'm on medium security... *sigh*

November 13, 2000

The Adventures of ACTION ITEM!

Mathtools.net should be on your resources list, if it isn't already. I was looking for general material on statistics, and found far more than I hoped for at The Statistics Homepage from StatSoft. If you like a little interactivity with your free online textbooks, check out the Rice Virtual Lab in Statistics.

All those symbols got you all dizzy? Perhaps it's worth studying your Greek Alphabet, with a few of their common math and physics definitions. If you're more into the Greek than the math, you need the Greek Alphabet, with pronounciation information.

Reasonable ways to interpret the Palm Beach ballot. Yes, another silly ballot link. Sue me.

November 10, 2000

'Stop the presses!' and, uh, the 'servers' too. The Houston Chronicle on covering the election. (Thanks girlhacker.)

GameSpot's SIMply Divine: The Story of Maxis Software. (Thanks again girlhacker. :)

Hey neat, a blogger in my home town. Hi Tom!

November 9, 2000

My father tells me that the November 13th New Yorker, their cartoon issue, has an article about weblogs on page 102.

19,000 Fla. ballots disqualified, voters sue saying ballot confusing.

The confusing Palm Beach County ballot.

November 8, 2000

Bush Or Gore: 'A New Era Dawns'.

MIT research scientist Alan Napatoff argues in favor of the electoral college, mathematically. (The essay's portrayal of actual electors' attitudes is entertaining.)

FraBoom explains the electoral vote process, almost. What it neglects to mention is, perhaps, what's more interesting (and what is similarly misrepresented by television running estimates): how electoral candidates (for whom the public is actually voting) are chosen, and what about this and the electors themselves is supposed to result in representation (in some form) of popular vote. But it's a kid's toon, and it's cute.

I hear some argue that because the American people clearly want Gore for President, based on popular vote, and the electoral college will elect someone other than Gore, the electoral system is counteracting democracy. It seems important to consider that only 49% of the American people want Gore for President. We're arguing about the statistical tie-breaker, not the whole election. Even so, recent events shall inevitably inspire protest.

Heated comments welcome, I love this stuff.

Transformers: The Movie is out on DVD. Not many features (interview with score composer, storyboards and uncompleted scenes), and it is not widescreen, but there haven't been good recordings of the film in circulation for a long time. A worthy cult film.

Q272392 - How to Remove Branding from Internet Explorer. (Thanks q.)

November 7, 2000

ABCNews.com has a nice summary description of the electoral college. (Did you know electors vote for the president and vice president individually? Did you know that electors cannot vote for a president and vice president from the same state? Did you know Dick Cheney had to change his voter registration from Texas to Wyoming because of this fact? Well, I didn't.)

For more on "faithless electors," see The US Electoral College Webzine. (Then see the inevitable Metafilter discussion.)

Vote today.

Hunter S. Thompson rewrites the rules of baseball.

Gamasutra: Postmortem: Blizzard Entertainment's Diablo II.

Sony PlayStation 2 as a DVD Player... and Other Matters of Cultural Consequence. I don't play games enough to warrant the cost of a game, let alone a console, but the PS2's DVD playing abilities prompted me to consider a purchase. (As owners of the old loophole-menu Apex know, the ROM that contains the loophole has some defects, but getting it repaired would remove the menu. So it's second DVD player time for us.)

Jessamyn is coming back to Seattle! Woo!

Wall Street will be released on DVD today. Director's commentary, making-of documentary.

XML Protocol Technology Reference.

November 6, 2000

Amazon.com is having a Wish List Holiday 2000 Giveaway, where you can win everything on your list up to $5000 worth. Enter by updating your wish list; get extra entries by buying me something off my wishlist. (No joke! You'll really get extra entries!)

I was a little surprised that IMDb has purchase-link sponsorships to twec.com and Best Buy-- as opposed to Amazon.com, which, last I heard, owned IMDb. There are still prominent to-buy links to Amazon on the movie details pages, but the content on the front page has "buy" links to other stores. Certainly IMDb has been making moves to be more profitable in its own right, but I can't imagine a situation where signing on another store would be more cost-effective...

What?

Hey cool, I didn't realize the DVD of Dead Again has three commentaries. Not I need more items on my wishlist...

November 3, 2000

HipZip Digital Audio Player keeps MP3s on 40MB PocketZip discs. Easy to store and carry, and PocketZips are only $10 each. If I were to get a portable MP3 player, this would be a killer feature for me. As many MP3s as you can carry, basically. They've just opened a related sweepstakes.

VideoGameDesign.com details most of what Nintendo Game Boy developers need to know. I'm a bit confused, because this site is supposed to be a collection of articles and news related to all video game design. Instead, it's just this Game Boy document. This is supposedly Nintendo's official document, which is neat, but still, what's up with the site?

Bank of America finally has web-based checking services. The dial-in service (with custom software) wasn't half bad, but web-based is generally the way to go. (Something about having DSL makes me feel like I shouldn't need a modem...)

November 2, 2000

The Long Now Foundation seeks to move away from faster-cheaper thinking with a monumental century clock. See also this Wired story.

Related link (also found on Metafilter): John Harrison and the Longitude Problem. Yes yes, more time geek stuff.

The Moog Cookbook. (Thanks danelope.)

ZDNet compares four web scripting languages. ColdFusion gets top honors as "the most productive choice," and JSP as the "best growth path for enterprises." PHP comes in as the fastest, though ZDNet's rationale for not claiming it the best is very sound. As much as I love PHP for my own projects, even the larger of my projects are hindered by PHP's scriptiness. Maybe I just need to learn more PHP technique; PHP 4 offers more options along the lines of larger-scale programming languages that could help along these lines...

Election Hoax Aims to Deceive Voters.

The Drew Carey Show is doing their annual live+improv show next week.

ThinkGeek appeals to geeks by offering something they want at a reasonable price.

November 1, 2000

The Wall Street Journal does a piece on weblogs (and it even gets AP treatment). Zannah gets a mention alongside Memepool, that's pretty cool. All the cool people get mentioned in newspaper articles. Doesn't Gil get a lick??

Government considers full-disclosure policy for software makers and their security problems. "Full" means good, and "disclosure" means thing!

Experiment concludes serious news reporting unpopular. "Although some critics faulted the execution, not the concept, of the program, the experiment's failure could be taken as reaffirmation that a serious format cannot succeed -- that people need to be drawn in through celebrity gossip and miracle diets introduced by bubbly anchormen and anchorwomen."

Scamming Google.

The Visor Game Face converts your Handspring Visor into a handheld game machine with combination keypad/joystick. Doesn't work on the new color model (disappointing considering most PalmOS games look much more fun in color). Use it with this overpriced Handspring module of games (only two of the games are not available free for download, and both have free renditions available, IIRC).