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 Older entries, from October 1999 through September 2010, are preserved for posterity, but are no longer maintained.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

November 30, 1999

WTO conference protest activity takes over downtown Seattle. A peaceful AFL-CIO march became day-long violent protests, mostly vandalism and police reaction--pepper gas, rubber bullets, riot gear, armoured vehicles. National Guard is being dispatched, civil emergency has been declared, including a 7pm curfew. Coverage can be found everywhere, I'll list a few and then shut up about it:

Dell gets all iMac-ey. (Thanks Davenetics.)

November 28, 1999

I really didn't need another 'net game addiction. (Thanks nyarl of memepool.) Seems like th e Wordox dictionary isn't the fullest, but it's still a good game. (Now how 'bout a live networked Upword s?)

A Thanksgiving cartoon from Atom Films. Web sites will do anything to get attention.

Speaking of, Atom is now releasing tapes and DVDs of some of their stuff. I've seen most of it dozens of times at festivals, so I'm not giving 'em my credit card number just yet.

Picked up Metropolis on DVD for $5 yesterday. Now all I need is a DVD player. (From Madacy Entertainment, if you're curious. Stocking stuffers in fron t of the register at Suncoast. Could be crap for all I know, but hey, $5.)

November 27, 1999

Happy Thanksgiving, all. Mild apologies for the lack of updates; I decided to let other things consume my life for the last couple of days.

FBI harasses ISP to take down Y2k movie. The movie (2Mb, 6 mins) depicts a government agent briefing his troops on a mission to incite a riot in Times Square on Dec 31, providing cause for the government to use force to contain the crowd.

November 25, 1999

Browserola is a Windows program that emulates the rendering engines of major and minor PC browsers. Looks good, quite useful. Download the demo and see for yourself. (Thanks MetaFilter.)

November 24, 1999

Thanks CamWorld for mentioning this article on that show I 've mentioned an embarrassing number of times in this blog. I take no pride in knowing that before they went toll free, WWTBAM's phone number was a $1.50/call 1-900 number (1-900-933-9391, to be precise <blush>; toll-free in some states?). It does seem like most of the contestants are from a particular part of the country... finally has Lego Mindstorms. They didn't a few weeks ago. Gimme! (Excuse me. Gimme please.)

I'm sorry, I should be saving my gimmes for something like this. Or maybe I should mention more affordable stuff. Or maybe I shouldn't mention anything at all, because I'm far too old to sit on Santa's lap.

If you're like me and couldn't get a stream for a Drew Carey webcast that complemented an episode last week, you can revisit the web site and watch clips (or the entire webcast, for that matter). Lots of silly stu ff happening in the webcast while other stuff was happening in the episode. Check out the web-only Ed McMahon cameo (Ed didn't appear in the TV episode). I believe the live webcast didn't have audio; these clips do, though they clearly don't depend on i t.

Well, it's about time I blogged about my interests in interactive fiction. I've been a lurking part of the IF community for about five years now, and haven't told a soul, until now.< /p>

You know interactive fiction if you've ever played a text adventure game. The quintessential text adventure, Collosal Cave, is so classic it is readily available in many forms, including this Java app let. (This puppy dates back to the PDP-10 days, and its Fortran source is still available.) I shall forgo the traditional quote of an adventure session and allow you to try the applet to remind yourself of the genre.

By far the greatest early contributions in the arena of text adventure games came from Infocom in the 1980's (a whatever-happened-to story if there ever was one). You may remember such classics as Zork, Ballyhoo, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and The Leather Goddess of Phobos. Activision owns the rights to 30 of the 32 Infocom text adventures, and con tinues to develop the Zork series in graphic adventure games. Activision has made Zork I, II, and III available free for download.

A history of interactive fiction by Graham Nelson.

I won't bother to droll on about the thriving community of authors and players (the 5th Annual IF Competition ended recently), and the sophisticated authoring systems available. Instead, I recommend the FAQ. While it's hardly definitive, The Mining Co.'s IF site (now has been around for a while and is well-maintained.

If you have only a casual interest (or less) in IF, stay tuned. I may very well dump IF-related stuff into this blog on slow days. (If you're seriously interested, you'll find the above resources, and countless oth ers, far more valuable.)

November 23, 1999

BrainLog should no longer be suspect if you're using the URL I posted for the data-only as the 'changes' URL.

My Wu-Name is The Eurythmic Lord of Chaos. 'spose that's appropriate... (Thanks gmtPlus9.)

I found and enjoyed one of Sarah Vowell's Salon pieces from a couple of months ago on Andy Richter and his decision to leave Late Night with Conan O'Brien. I'm so glad someone has finally said:

It is understandable why Andy Richter is quitting "Late Night": Not because of the first half of the show, in which he is a vital participant, but because of the second half, when he has to sit in a chair on the set, McMahon-like, and not say a word. It's a waste.

Andy Richter (courtesy a fan site).

Max Weinberg is returning to the show from his tour with Bruce Springsteen. --Hey neat, I didn't know Max "presented" these compilation albums. Some decent selections, though it sounds like these are only special for Max's liner notes.

From the Wired review of Toy Story 2, it sounds like it may live up to my expectations. See also a Salo n story.

November 22, 1999

I enjoyed tonight's Frontline documentary on the history of apocalyptic belief.

Whee! now contains BrainLog's full content (including the archive). Blog watchers and search engines alike can use that file. (The other 2-line text file I mentioned will continue to be supported.)

New primary color discovered. (Yeah, it's old, but hey, it's new to me.)

Jessica Abel is the cartoonist that drew the This American Life comic book. She describes her attempts to follow the instructions in the book to create a TAL-like radio piece.

I've finally developed a web-based updating facility for myself. As a part of this, blog checkers can now access to see when BrainLog was last updated. Woohoo!

The Lyrics to College Fight Songs site has a page on differences between versions. On the University of Washington (citin g contributor Toby Nelson):

Lyrical differences in 'Bow Down to Washington' ...

Lyricist Lester Wilson wrote the first phrase of the chorus as "Dobie, Dobie Pride of Washington", instead of "Heaven Help the Foes of Washington". The ASUW enacted an amendment to change the lyrics after Gilmore Dobie resigned as football coach in 191 8.

The very rarely used, and now almost completely forgot, first verse of 'Bow' replaces everything in the intro after the first two lines with:

"From across the land they send their teams of great renown, /
But on the field of battle they are trampled into the ground, /
Pull the Golden Bear, /
From his mighty lair, /
And we'll drag his carcass with us to the Northland."

and the last two lines of the chorus with:

"And when we snare that Golden Bear, /
You'll never carry him back to California."

as 'Bow' was originally written as specifically an anti-UC, Berkeley song.

See also the Mary Paynton's notes on the UW fight song lyrics, with full past and present lyrics.

November 21, 1999

Like a good blogger, I've been messing around with RSS/RDF channels and such. Check out the Backends tab of the Link Box. As with most of my toys, they're for my own use, so please accept my apologies that it only works with Internet Explorer. Any suggestions for good RSS/RDF files to watch?

Marvel comic book artist Stan Lee has big plans for a new website from Stan Lee Media. Stan Lee plans on a web-only Flash-animated super-hero comic, "The 7th Portal". Excelsior!

November 19, 1999

Tired of clicking on links to travel through your web pages? Click no more! RoboCast allows you (or whoever licenses it for their own site, e.g. ZDNet) to sit back and watch the pages fly past you.

I enjoyed these Ani DiFranco RealAudios too much not to mention them. (Thanks Robot Wisdom.)

Just 'cuz I forgot to mention Wise Guys (the new Sondheim) doesn't mean I'm not excited! Sondheim's NYT essay is worth a read. (Thanks Mermaniac.) Victor Garber kicks ass.

Usenet flame wars can get you burned. (Thanks Unpopular.)

November 18, 1999

I was too busy and stressed out to do an update today, but this little story made my day (in a cynical way). Thanks to TBTF, citing Bruce Schneier's CRYPTO-GRAM email newsletter, for mentioning how Windows CE encrypts your Windows NT password.

Time Code 2000 sounds a lot like the Dutch 4-camera real-time millenium project I mentioned a couple of weeks ago. It's not the same project, however. TC2k will be projected, in theaters, with all four cameras' video running simultaneously. British director Mike Figgis (of the excellent Leaving Las Vegas and the awful Loss of Sexual Innocence) "thought of doing the film just a few months ago," according to the NYT article. Strangely, the NYT thinks the most interesting part of the project is the use of digital cameras...

If you wanna know how digital cameras can really enhance the film industry, check out Kodak PreView. Take shots of locations and scenes with your fancy digital camera, dump 'em into the software, then tell it what film and filters (among other things) you're thinking of using. PreView processes the image and shows you what the results of your expensive shoot and film processing will be. <drool>...

November 17, 1999

Well, the latest attempt at a multimedia webcast for a wide audience is a complete failure, from my perspective. They claimed to be prepared for 500,000 streams. I find it hard to believe that that many people in the Pacific time zone are watching this thing right now. They said to arrive 15 minutes early. I arrived 30 minutes early and never got a stream.

I'm bitter. ABC can suck my DSL connection. I no longer want to be a millionaire.

University of Washington computing statistics. Fascinating, I'm sure.

The Drew Carey Show synced webcast that I mentioned a couple of weeks ago is tonight, 9pm on both coasts (repeated for Pacific time zone). They've set up a mock Winford Lauder site to correspond to the show. Requires Windows Media Player. (Thanks to Davenetics for the link to the ZDNet article.)

The online version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire is surprisingly playable. I seem to be better at the actual show's questions than these, but I guess that's no surprise...

I watch too much television.

November 16, 1999

Save Gary Coleman!

Gary Coleman. The name alone invokes warm memories to all but the most hardened of souls. It was this 4'8" cherubic-faced actor who stole our hearts as Arnold Jackson in the hit television show, Diff'rent Strokes. Yet since the mid-80s, life has not been easy for the star...
(Thanks to Davenetics.)

The 1999 National Film Registry List is out!

And I thought ASCIIPic was fun! Thanks to riotnrrd of memepool for mentioning png2html. To use that version you need libpng and the PNG version of GD installed. If you have an earlier GIF version of GD, however, it's a very simple matter to replace every occurance of "Png", "png" and "PNG" in the source code of png2html with "Gif", "gif" and "GIF" so it works with GIFs and the old library. ("Png"-->"Gif" is enough to get it to compile, the rest are cosmetic.) The resulting files are, of course, huge, but still cute. Here's a picture of Lisa's cat (334k). Here's another (217k).

November 15, 1999

KUOW pledge form; This American Life comic book at the $75 level (also includes a Morning Edition coffee mug). Silly me, I didn't see it on their web site because they called it "Individual Support", and I tend to associate "Support" with something else. :)

Everyone who cares already knows about this, but until I read the recent Slashdot article, I didn't even know KVM switches existed. Even better, several responses pointed to VNC, the GPL remote display server/viewer system! Servers and viewers exist for Windows, Linux, Mac, and others. Makes me wish I had a Mac on my network to try it with. (While not a KVM system replacement, VNC will still come in handy.)

href="">Home Page,
the documentary about Justin Hall and href="">his web journal, is
available in its
entirety at
An official selection of the href="">1999
Sundance film festival,
the film is
Ebert's Video Pick of the Week
this week.
It's also available href="">on video
at On November 19th it premieres at Cinema
Village in New York City. A must-see for webloggers and web-journal

Justin persuaded the director, href=",+Doug">Doug Block, to start href="">his own web site, including a
journal of the

Other links from the documentary:

November 14, 1999

AdBusters has two TV spots as part of their The Big Question campaign, including one regarding the WTO coming to Seattle. Impressive use of stock footage. (Yeah, it's just like me to think they're neat for the cinematic aspects. ;) )

November 13, 1999

More on I Woke Up Early the Day I Died: I went looking for the video, figuring it'd be easy to get as this is a 1998 production with big names in it. In my search I found the official web site with the sad news:

By fault of ill management and poor financial planning, the distributors of this movie, Cinequanon, have run into astounding money troubles. It is our feeling that this movie will not see another theatre and may not even make it to tape.
Now I'm more intrigued than ever. You can get on the waiting list in the off chance they might produce more videos of the film.

William Daniels Elected SAG President. William Daniels kicks ass.

American Cinematographer always puts cool stuff online. The November online articles include many photos and nice articles on Bringing Out the Dead, The Limey, and Fight Club. (The layout is a bit difficult on my browser: there are supposed to be numbers below "Go To Page:" which are links to the pages of the article [start with 1]. Click on the thumbnails in the lower-left frame to navigate the photos with captions.)

Last month was their Kubrick issue: Eyes Wide Shut, a feature article on Kubrick, and Clockwork Orange.

Note to self: Lisa's This American Life watcher is better than yours, checking the archives instead of the front page. This week's show, Who's Canadian?, is actually online. (Same as last time, they didn't link to it from the front page because it's a rerun.)

I Woke Up Early the Day I Died: written by Ed Wood, Jr., posthumously brought to life in 1998 by Aris Iliopulos (Aris's only film credit). Its cast includes Billy Zane, Christina Ricci, Sandra Bernhard, Eartha Kitt, and John Ritter, among many others. An anonymous contributor to IMDb speaks knowingly:

This is a script that Ed Wood worked over 10 years on trying to get made. Aris Iliopulos finally got the chutzpah to film a script that Wood saved from his burning home at the expense of other, more transitory valuables.

This is a dialogue-free movie, that some may foolishly describe as silent. In fact, it is a quite noisy film, without the inane chatter of most flicks. In the hands of these filmmakers, the music and sound effects provide a rich audio experience that works better than almost any grist from the Hollywood script mill, particularly that stupid boat movie Billy Zane last was in ('Watch out!', 'Oh no!' - J. Cameron.... ick...) I'll take Zane's wonderfully communicative monosyllabic grunts in this film over empty dialogue any day.

November 12, 1999

Note to self: Old Talk of the Nation Science Friday from June 11, 1999 on Open Source; guests include Tim O'Reilly. I'm putting it here because I missed it and just found it in their archives. (All public radio fans should know about Radio Scout.)

Some fun geeky stuff at the MIT MicroMedia Lab. Three projects with movies online, mostly having to do with technologizing print media.

November 11, 1999

Thanks to peterb of memepool:, from the creators of goats. Mmmm...

Thanks to Illuminatrix for the enthusiastic weblog entry on PBS's New York: A Documentary Film. (Hey Lis, check out the trivia game. :)

YES! The Seattle Cinerama Cinema has installed restored Cinerama projectors! The restoration was performed by American Cinerama. Photos are available. No word yet on Cinerama movie showings, but millions of Paul Allen's money was spent to make it possible, so we should see at least How The West Was Won sometime soon.

The Seattle Cinerama has a web page, of course, though no mention of the new equipment. In fact, it looks like nobody has touched the fancy Flash site for months.

Thanks Lisa for mentioning the Kubrick films at the Cinerama. So much for movie lent, eh?

November 10, 1999

Twisted Tunes. (Thanks to Kestrel's Nest.)

Streambox lets you save streamed media to your hard drive. Wired covers the implications. After all, content providers use RealAudio because the streamed content can only be accessed directly from the originating web site, and not saved or copied. I smell a coding cat-fight coming on, similar to the MSN/AIM fiasco but with more intrigue. (Thanks to Davenetics.)

Could someone explain to me why cracking someone's encryption scheme has legal implications? I only understand it as far as going beyond reverse engineering to distribute copyrighted material (and perhaps patent violations). RealAudio is claiming license violations, though it sounds like it's the person using the software that's violating licenses. What legal threat caused the guys who cracked DVD movie copy protection to pull their web site? It's sad to see those who don't know their rights to allow themselves to be bullied by lawyers that exploit that naivette...

My Technosphere creature died today.
*** TechnoSphere Telegram ***

These are the highlights of Munchmunch's (ID 48273) life in TechnoSphere recently:

  • Munchmunch has been hunting for food.
  • Munchmunch deftly avoided the romantic advances of Greedy (ID 41115).
  • Munchmunch has sadly died of starvation.
*** End Transmission ***

I think there's a lesson to be learned here. Dunno what it is, though...

Prediction: Everyone will post about The Onion doing a story about Mahir.

November 9, 1999

Having only been listening to This American Life through their web site, I didn't realize that the 10/29 show, Simulated Worlds, was actually a rerun from a few years ago (and therefore not linked from their front page). I've linked it here for my own sake. Last week's Where Words Fail is now on their front page.

From the This American Life mailing list: Their comic book, Radio: An Illustrated Guide, is now available for educators to use in classrooms. (If you're a real educator and wish to purchase 10 or more copies, contact Todd Bachmann at Include "EDUCATOR COMIC" in the subject, or he won't read it.) The rest of us can get the book by donating to our local public radio station (e.g. KUOW in Seattle).

Hey, is gone for good? The domain name doesn't resolve. She hosted a bunch of cool basic geek references, like an online HTML copy of the GNU Emacs FAQ. (She shows up #2 in the Google search for "Emacs FAQ", and is one of the few resources mentioned in the Emacs category in Yahoo.)

It looks like the only major online home for the FAQ is now the GNU Emacs FAQ at They also have a download page. Time to update those indicies and search engines... (Yes, I know it's available from within Emacs itself, I just like having an HTML version.)

And only because I'm enjoying it (it's certainly not new):

  • CygWin, UNIX utilities for Windows 9x/NT, incl. bash
  • tcsh for Windows 9x/NT
  • Virually UNIX for more UNIX ports to Windows
Why bother? I'm not entirely sure, actually...

November 8, 1999

The Being John Malkovich web site has a section on the puppeteer that did all of the amazing marionette work in the film, including QuickTime movies of his show. (The whole web site is pretty cool, actually. Also check out JM, Inc. Sign up, get free stuff--assuming they haven't run out already...)

Many thanks, Lisa, for mentioning Mermaniac: A Show Tunes Weblog! You know what I like. :) Via Mermaniac: BradLands will soon have Specific Overtures, dedicated to musical comedy. Got the Sunday poster and everything. I'm so glad I'm not the only one...

November 6, 1999

XEmacs for Windows. Yay!

The founders of the Dogme 95 method of filmmaking will do an interactive year 2000 film project, backed by the Danish Film Institute.

The 4 x 70 minutes will be broadcast simultaneously on four national tv-channels on January 1st, 2000 at 19:30 hours Copenhagen time immediately following the New Year's speech by the Danish Prime Minister. The intention is for viewers at home to edit their own unique film by zapping between the four national tv-stations.

The film will be shot in real-time, with no editing (beyond the editing the viewier does with their TV). Four actors, each with a camera crew, will go their separate ways, in live contact with the four directors back at the project headquarters via intercom. The directors will watch the video feed to control the project from remote.

The Dogme 95 method of filmmaking seeks to bring filmmaking back to its roots. Check out the manifesto on their web site, as well as the corresponding entry in the Internet Filmmaker's FAQ. (As weird as the "millenium" project sounds, it meets the qualifications.)

Lisa's National Film Registry contest has a November 15 deadline. Are your favorite films not on the NFR preservation list? Should they be? If they get added this year, you could win videos! In fact, Lisa isn't getting many entries, so you're very likely to win! :)

Dang, I missed Burn All GIFs Day. I was gonna throw a party. It's too bad browser support for PNG isn't good enough yet...

November 5, 1999

Mahir hits 1,000,000. Informal samplings of his web counter indicate he's getting about 10-15 hits/sec on average. On Nov 5 1999 2:55pm PST, the LinkExchange counter clicked over to the big 1.0 x 10^6...

November 4, 1999

I have to say I was rather impressed with Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, the American version of the British quiz show. Fox, of course, has its new rip-off, Greed. (You'll have to follow their links, they're disrupting deep linking.) WWTBAM lets you watch someone wrestle with their own inner forces. In true Fox fashion, Greed pits people against each other: big long term winnings only available through cooperation, with fairly large immediate cash incentives for spiting each other. When Other People Attack.

Perhaps I'm with the mindless media-crazed populus on this one, but I can't help but be intrigued. Greed is a much messier game than the straight and simple WWTBAM, seeming like Chuck Woolery is making up stuff as he goes along. But the video-game-like heartbeat music, the swift lighting changes, the long pauses and the dopey host making a big deal out of easy questions will get anyone worked up. And now worked up contestants can hurt people other than themselves.

I love strategically engineered products of commercial media. (Don't get me started on Pokemon...)

Academy Selects Five to Receive Screenwriting Fellowships [front door]. I'm not one of them.

I was never going to link to Mahir's home page, seeing as it was already on everyone else's blogs. But now that he's a phenomenon, I can no longer contain myself. As of Nov 4 1999 8:00pm PST, he's got 877826 hits on his counter. Like the author of the article, I too first viewed this page when the counter was around 10,000.

The gunman who shot four people, two fatally, in a Seattle shipyard area yesterday is now believed to have had deliberate and specific intentions. He remains at large. Buildings where I work are in a lock-down situation right now, as are area schools. (Seattle Times' front web page currently has a slightly scary picture of SWAT team members searching a trail on which I occasionally jog.)

President Clinton apparently made a weak attempt to sympathize, hitting two birds with one stone by expressing "profound shock and sorrow" for shootings in both Seattle and Honolulu in one sentence.

KIRO TV had pretty good coverage, the Seattle Times was impressed.

What a perfect time to pass an initiative that results in cutting funding for police and public health.

November 3, 1999

Ken Griffey, Jr. has decided to leave the Mariners to be with his family. Best of luck to him in Orlando, he will be sorely missed. (Yahoo Sports.)

November 2, 1999

I enjoyed these Lego Mindstorm television advertisements. (Or go in their front door.) Too bad the cool kit is $200... Also: Mindstorm internals page, Sept '99 Wired story, a programming site, a very specific RCX internals site, and a web ring. There's supposedly an open source Mindstorms OS in progress, but the site is down...

Speaking of Legos, this guy has done some neat sculptures. WizardCAD, a Lego CAD program, is in development (beyond existing Lego-brand software). And, of course, ye olde MIT Programmable Brick which never ceases to entertain.

Other blogs you probably read have already mentioned this, but Randal wishes that we spread the word, so here it goes: the State of Oregon v. Randal Schwartz. (Thanks to Referer Log and CamWorld, respectively.)

Ack! "Development and distribution of Programmer's File Editor has come to an end." PFE was the cleanest, fastest, and all around best freeware text editor for Windows computers. (There's a Mac version, too, but I've never seen it. Probably doesn't compare to BBEdit, though.) The only thing it lacked was syntax hilighting. And he didn't release the source, either. Erg! PFE should remain available from other sources, especially now that PFE fans are desperately trying to rescue the thing.

I'd pay twice the market value for a version of BBEdit for Windows. (sigh) Anyone have any recommendations on Windows text editors for programmers (besides Emacs for Windows)? I don't want to install Visual Studio just to use the text editor...

I guess I can't wait for XEmacs for Windows, despite my frustrations with it in X.

November 1, 1999

Thank you obvious of memepool for mentioning DialPad, a service that lets you make a phone call to any number in the US from anywhere in the world for free over the web. I just made what otherwise would have been a $26 phone call to my mom using my PC, headphones, and $4 Radio Shack microphone. No additional software needed, either; it's just a Java applet. (PC only, unfortunately.)

After the Model Egg Auction hoax (see also the Silicon Alley Daily's second article that hasn't been archived yet), it's difficult to believe that Digiscents could be for real. I'm still not sure it is, though their press release is more convincing than Ron's.

We've known for a while that The Kids In the Hall are going on tour. I hadn't realized that tour dates and locations have been selected and tickets are on sale. I think I'll buy my tickets to the Vancouver BC show now while I still can--ah, crap, both shows sold out... Hmph.

Kevin McDonald appears to have his own home page. Scott Thompson has a professionally administered official fan club home page, though it doesn't want to let me in. See also the Unofficial Mark McKinney fan page, and any site in Dave Foley's Yahoo! category.

Spumco Flash animations, from the creator of Ren & Stimpy.

Find zen or something.

Premiere magazine's Tom Cruise jigsaw puzzle is always fun. Always.

Aaah! Eh?