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 Older entries, from October 1999 through September 2010, are preserved for posterity, but are no longer maintained.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

December 2001 Archives

December 27, 2001

Hi there! I'm back. Too many stories to tell, not nearly enough time to tell them. In fact, I don't think I'll be fully back until next year. Enjoy a couple of links in the meantime; I've got quite a backlog of good ones I need to sort through.

Reading anxiety: A simple calculation shows that none of us has enough time left:

[A]t some point along the path to discovery, the reader confronts his or her reading mortality. There's only so much time. And there are so many great books. And every year more books are published, some of which will be great. Reluctantly, the reader begins to acknowledge the appalling necessity of choosing to read certain good things and not other good things.

In his 1994 book The Western Canon, literary critic Harold Bloom leaned right on to the literary panic button. "What shall the individual who still desires to read attempt to read, this late in history? The Biblical threescore years and 10 no longer suffice to read more than a selection of the great writers in what can be called the Western tradition, let alone in all the world's traditions. Who reads must choose, since there is literally not enough time to read everything, even if one does nothing but read."

A map of Springfield.

December 5, 2001

Starting today I'm out on a business trip. BrainLog will return in two weeks. Have a happy Hanukah!

Reflections, an elegant laser reflection game. (Thanks Zannah.)

Sabren has gone and started a fantastically priced web hosting company. He even has Zope hosting. Maybe someday I'll get tired of paying an extra $40/mo for my static IPs and take down my servers, and just get good hosting...

Bobby Fischer comes out of hiding to applaud Trade Centre attacks. MetaFilter responds.

Debunking the myths of the origins of Cisco. I never believed Bosack and Lerner developed critical or all-important technology by themselves in their living room, though it's easy to see how the other Stanford developers could get left out of the legend. The part of the story I remember best is how the company founders didn't properly handle their agreements with venture capitalists and got screwed (though I believe I've only heard that part of the story via Nerds 2.0.1 anyway).

SatireWire's Second Annual Poetry Spam. Write poetry out of quotes from spam emails.

Think it's easy to create a poem consisting entirely of passages from Spam emails? Don't tell that to Darrell Jones, who, in an addendum to his entry for SatireWire's 1st annual Poetry Spam last year, wrote: "This is harder than it looks!" and steadfastly proved his point by not winning the contest.

December 3, 2001

Two Copyright Cases Decided in Favor of Entertainment Industry [NYTimes]. US Courts Kowtow to Entertainment Industry [The Register].

Hollywood victory in DVD hacker case.

I'm too disappointed with recent rulings to comment properly, so instead I'll talk about web advertising. Salon has gone absolutely bonkers in web advertising lately. In addition to their no-ad subscription system, they're doing pop-overs, pop-overs with sound, animated delay screens, in-line big-boxes, interactive in-line big-boxes, and even in-line big-boxes with full motion video with sound. Some of it I hate: sound should most definitely be something the user requests specifically, pop-ups should be limited to one per page view, and delay screens just suck. But some of it I love: the looping full motion video compelled me to click on the "listen" button (to turn on sound that's off by default) and I watched the whole damn ad. I've seen some great interactive in-line big-boxes here and elsewhere, too.

Dialtones: A Telesymphony. Symphony performed on audience members' cell phones. MP3 clips of an actual performance available.

Huh. I had thought Britannica gave up their print edition in favor of a CD-ROM+website business model. Their business model has been revamped a dozen times since their initial CD-ROM efforts, so I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. Three cheers for the printed word!