Wednesday, January 1, 2003

Today would have been my

Today would have been my father's 60th birthday: he passed away in May 2000 after a heart attack induced by a severe asthma attack.

In other head cold has ceased to be a head cold, instead it's dropped into my chest as a cough. With any luck it'll be gone by the weekend.

e.p.c. posted this at 21:11 GMT on 1-Jan-2003 .

Thursday, January 2, 2003

Frisket spent the afternoon at

Frisket spent the afternoon at "Monster Mutt" and is completely wiped out now. It's flurrying outside now...earlier it was raining but turning to ice on the road, I prefer flurries.

e.p.c. posted this at 22:54 GMT on 2-Jan-2003 .

Friday, January 3, 2003

I was supposed to drive

I was supposed to drive to Boston this afternoon for Alister's soon-to-be-ex-single-guy party, however the weather intervened. The consensus of the conference call that Lisa was on as well as the other IBMers in Boston was that I84 and I90 were a disaster. So I wait until tomorrow a.m. to see if I can drive or train up Saturday.

e.p.c. posted this at 15:46 GMT on 3-Jan-2003 .

Monday, January 6, 2003

The Patent Minefield

I've been working up a business idea with a couple of people here in the city. Since it uses relatively off the shelf parts I was hoping that it would be straightforward to put together a prototype and pitch it around. The sad reality is that even a cursory search through the tarpit that is the USPTO patent database came up with multiple conflicting patents which may cover what we're trying to do, or not.

Over 16,000 patents were granted in December 2002. Over 184,000 for the year (according to the site). There are over 2M active patents (assuming an even expiration period of 17 years), with almost half granted in the past five years.

What's my point?

As a small-time techie trying to make a buck, I have two options -- mine the patent database for ideas (and license appropriately) or ignore it entirely.

I'm far better off blindly ignoring what's been done and trudging onward, ignoring the patents that exist, instead of using the system the way I thought it was intended: allow inventors to share their inventions and in return get a monopoly on the value of that invention for a period of time.

There are so many trashy patents being filed (and granted) that the whole system has been corrupted. The very people who claim to be out to protect the value of intellectual property are destroying it. The system all but encourages you to ignore others' intellectual property (in the patent form) rather than make use of it. I'm sure there's many valid, fine patents in the mess, but they're useless to anyone without a high powered and well funded legal research staff.

And just to discourage me further, I came across several IBM patents which were filed in 1997-1998 having to do with web technologies. I now know why I got hosed so badly by IBM...I thought I was supposed to help other employees by answering questions. Instead I should have replied Interesting problem, tough noogies, hung up, and then written up the solution as a patent disclosure.

e.p.c. posted this at 22:12 GMT on 6-Jan-2003 .

I did drive up to

I did drive up to Boston on Saturday for Alister's bachelor bash. It was small, relatively uneventful, and fun. After spending Sunday afternoon recuperating, I drove back to Brooklyn (said drive seemed to take forever due to the weather and the throbbing in my not-quite-broken again left foot).

e.p.c. posted this at 22:31 GMT on 6-Jan-2003 .

Tuesday, January 7, 2003

Watching the MacWorld far

Watching the MacWorld far nothing has stunnned me.

e.p.c. posted this at 11:57 GMT on 7-Jan-2003 .

Ugh...Apple is calling it's suite

Ugh...Apple is calling it's suite of itools iLife. Anyone wanna take bets on how long it is before AT&T Wireless sues Apple?

e.p.c. posted this at 12:04 GMT on 7-Jan-2003 .

Finished with the Macworld streamcast...Apple

Finished with the Macworld streamcast...Apple announced some nice stuff, but nothing I'm going to run out and buy. I'm holding out for a Mac subnotebook.

e.p.c. posted this at 13:15 GMT on 7-Jan-2003 .

Wednesday, January 8, 2003

LazyWeb and RSS: aggregating and distributing feature requests

Clay Shirky discusses LazyWeb in LazyWeb and RSS: Given Enough Eyeballs, Are Features Shallow Too?. LazyWeb is a site where people can post (or point to posts) describing feature needs. The idea being, collect wishes together and someone, somewhere might say "Hey, I can fix that". The crux of Shirky's article is that RSS can help scale the Lazyweb notion by helping distribute requests to multiple sites, as well as aggregate requests in one place. At the end he asks:
Will it work? Who knows. Like any experiment, it could die from inactivity. It could also be swamped by a flood of low-quality submissions. It may be that the membrane that a weblog forms around its readers is better for matching describers and developers than an open feed would be. And Paul Hammond has suggested that "Any attempt to invoke the LazyWeb directly will cause the whole thing to stop working."

It's worth trying, though, because the potential win is so large. If the benefits open source development offers for fixing bugs can be applied to creating features as well, it could confer a huge advantage on the development of Mob Software.

e.p.c. posted this at 11:14 GMT on 8-Jan-2003 .

I'm turning off the feed

I'm turning off the feed of this site to That was the first "formal" weblog I tried to maintain (though I've had a number of webloggish personal sites in the past, most notably (which itself is long gone, though available on Unfortunately the site is far too slow and causes "Radio Userland" to hang. I've also noticed that categories and titles don't get reflected, and three sites is a bit much anyway.

e.p.c. posted this at 12:01 GMT on 8-Jan-2003 .

Friday, January 10, 2003

We're in Boston for Alister

We're in Boston for Alister and Abigail's wedding. The drive up was rather uneventful though long. "Frisket" is staying at "Monster Mutt" until Sunday.

e.p.c. posted this at 13:21 GMT on 10-Jan-2003 .

Argh. So, we're staying at

Argh. So, we're staying at the XV Beacon, a nice hotel at the top of Beacon Hill. One attraction was the in-room broadband. Works pretty well for web access and for retrieving email. However, their ISP apparently redirects outbound port 25 to their email server (perhaps to make it easier for people to relay mail otu without changing settings). However it doesn't work, all attempts bounce. Argh. Double argh.

e.p.c. posted this at 14:17 GMT on 10-Jan-2003 .

Sunday, January 12, 2003

We've returned from Boston. I

We've returned from Boston. I completed my duties as Best Man and as a result Abigail and Alister were married yesterday afternoon (ok, I suspect they'd be married anyway). "Misha" walked "Frisket" home for us from "Monster Mutt" since we weren't certain we'd be back in time (we arrived home around 6:30 after about four hours driving). Frisket is zonked out now after three days of play at Monster Mutt. I suspect she'll be subdued for at least a day.

e.p.c. posted this at 22:03 GMT on 12-Jan-2003 .

Monday, January 13, 2003

iCommune is a plug-in which

iCommune is a plug-in which extends Apple's iTunes software to share music over the network

e.p.c. posted this at 14:43 GMT on 13-Jan-2003 .

The network is the medium:

The network is the medium: BitTorrent.

e.p.c. posted this at 14:48 GMT on 13-Jan-2003 .

This week's project (aside from

This week's project (aside from attempting to get a job): change my weblogging/web site tools. I've pretty much had it with "Radio Userland" but haven't found a better substitute. I've looked at Moveable Type and Blogger and others and haven't found any solution that clicks.

e.p.c. posted this at 14:56 GMT on 13-Jan-2003 .

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Nor'easter for Friday.

Nor'easter for Friday.

e.p.c. posted this at 17:45 GMT on 15-Jan-2003 .

Thursday, January 16, 2003

a.m. update

Lisa is trapped in Armonk. Ok, perhaps I exaggerate, but her meeting is running longer than expected. "Frisket" has been moping since returning from "Monster Mutt" yesterday. When she woke up this morning, she did her morning stretch, grabbed a stick and walked over to Lisa's side of the bed to wake her up and was perplexed that she wasn't there.

e.p.c. posted this at 09:24 GMT on 16-Jan-2003 .

What's in your green tea?

While trolling around for something completely different, I came across this article from In These Times: What's In Your Green Tea?. An excerpt:
Hope Nemiroff thought she was living the healthiest lifestyle possible. After being diagnosed with cancer in 1995 and having a tiny tumor removed from her breast, she had changed her ways. [...] She switched to a mostly organic, vegetable-based diet. She drank a dozen cups of green tea every day.

Determined to learn everything she could about her disease, Nemiroff, now 58, also became president of the Mid-Hudson Breast Health Action Project, an advocacy group in New York. Impressed by her efforts, her oncologist hired her to help with a study of the relationship between DDT and breast cancer. Although she was not a subject of the study, Nemiroff says, "I got curious. I wanted to see what [the blood] of somebody like me would look like who was living a healthy lifestyle."

Her blood, it turned out, contained traces of DDT. And when she later investigated what part of her diet might be contaminated with the pesticide, the answer jolted her. A laboratory analysis found DDT in her green tea.

e.p.c. posted this at 11:03 GMT on 16-Jan-2003 .

Friday, January 17, 2003

Klaus dropped by last night

Klaus dropped by last night to meet "Frisket". I managed to get two unfortunately sloppy pictures of the two of them together on the promenade: Klaus Rusch and Frisket on a park bench Klaus Rusch and Frisket on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade. In other news, the door knob on the guest bathroom has been fixed. With this enhancement, guests will be pleased to not be locked into the bathroom until someone chances by in the hallway. Not that that happened.

e.p.c. posted this at 10:10 GMT on 17-Jan-2003 .

In A Bread-Crumb Trail to

In A Bread-Crumb Trail to the Spirit of the Times, the NYT reports on the art scene and small galleries of Manhattan:
Connecting the dots formed by New York gallery exhibitions is a perpetual art world pastime. The process involves matching little details or broad stylistic trends, recognizing recurring themes and common materials, or sometimes just finding the shared thread in one's own seemingly unrelated reactions. And everybody comes up with a different diagram.
Oliver Kamm/Apartment 5-BE

A sign of the Chelsea underground is the gallery that Oliver Kamm, who formerly worked at Marianne Boesky and Paul Morris, has opened in his one-bedroom apartment on West 23rd Street. For his second show, he is presenting the New York debut of Colin McClain, a young artist from Tennessee who derives his motifs from Gray's Anatomy.

e.p.c. posted this at 15:51 GMT on 17-Jan-2003 .

Saturday, January 18, 2003

Cold. Dang cold. "Frisket" walked

Cold. Dang cold. "Frisket" walked me over to the promenade where she promptly tried to get in on the ice carving demonstrations being taped by WNBC and WABC.

e.p.c. posted this at 12:10 GMT on 18-Jan-2003 .

Sunday, January 19, 2003

According to this c|net

According to this c|net article, the RIAA has apparently decided that, in addition to overcharging for CDs and taxing blank CDs and audio tapes, that internet service providers (ie: Earthlink, AT&T, Verizon, AOL, Comcast) should assess a monthly charge against their customers, said charge being funneled back to the RIAA to "compensate" for alleged piracy of music.

e.p.c. posted this at 10:24 GMT on 19-Jan-2003 .

I gave up on the

I gave up on the multiple style thing...I found it confusing, don't know about the four other people who read the site.

e.p.c. posted this at 20:48 GMT on 19-Jan-2003 .

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

Random bits

The nine new proposals for the WTC site have been on display at the Winter Garden and can be voted on at Imagine NY. I'm not particularly taken by any of the designs, and a couple are just creepy. The reality is that we need to set aside space for the memorial, rebuild the transit concourse, and then let the site sit for awhile. Nothing good will come out of urban planning by committee.

Ryze is a business networking site I've joined (at the nudging of Eileen).

There's a huge satellite truck parked at Hicks and Clark, making matters worse (and the horns louder): Henry St is closed at Clark so traffic is diverting into the one-way nightmare that is the promenade side blocks of the Heights.

Canberra, Australia went up in flames over the weekend. The Sydney Morning Herald has collected its coverage here. My impression of the city was that it's a collection of suburbs, there's no city "center" per se, though I suspect the parliament buildings serve as a de facto center.

Please tell me we're not this stupid: Captive helped trick US while bin Laden escaped. The summary: think of the football game where the Quarterback hands the ball to a running back but makes it look like he (the Q-back) still has the ball. Now, replace football with "satellite phone" and quarterback with "mass murderer bin Laden".

Chess Champion Faces Off With New Computer. Personally, I hope Kasparov loses yet again. Of course, I may just be bitter about his comments after the '97 rematch (which had those of us on the web team stuck in a mildewy locker room off the stage in the Equitable building for the duration of the match).

SBC is demonstrating yet again how lame our patent system has become by going after a museum for using frames (invented by Netscape!) according to this c|net article: SBC stakes claim on Web frames patent.

e.p.c. posted this at 16:01 GMT on 21-Jan-2003 .

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

2003 though, is more like 1984

On January 22, 1984 Apple ran the famous 1984 commercial. Somehow I can envision someone speaking the text of the commercial today, and really meaning it:
Today, we celebrate the first glorious anniversary of the Information Purification Directives. We have created, for the first time in all history, a garden of pure ideology. Where each worker may bloom secure from the pests of contradictory and confusing truths. Our Unification of Thoughts is more powerful a weapon than any fleet or army on earth. We are one people, with one will, one resolve, one cause. Our enemies shall talk themselves to death and we will bury them with their own confusion. We shall prevail!

e.p.c. posted this at 17:55 GMT on 22-Jan-2003 .

Sunday, January 26, 2003

You know, the Superbowl would

You know, the Superbowl would be a complete waste of time were it not for TiVo. This must be the one time a year when TiVo users skip the show and watch the commercials. Who cares about the's always a blowout and the play is terrible. They should play a few of these in Green Bay or Chicago/Soldier Field.

e.p.c. posted this at 21:10 GMT on 26-Jan-2003 .


You know, the Superbowl would be a complete waste of time were it not for TiVo. This must be the one time a year when TiVo users skip the show and watch the commercials. Who cares about the's always a blowout and the play is terrible. They should play a few of these in Green Bay or Chicago/Soldier Field.

e.p.c. posted this at 22:10 GMT on 26-Jan-2003 .

Monday, January 27, 2003

The East River is thickening

The East River is thickening up...there's ice floes in the main river and the water between the Brooklyn piers has pretty much frozen over. I'm not sure that the river can completely freeze...there's probably too much "stuff" flowing into it to let it freeze over completely, still it's impacting the ferry services.

e.p.c. posted this at 21:29 GMT on 27-Jan-2003 .

Thursday, January 30, 2003

So, anyone know where I

So, anyone know where I could pick up a copy of John Brunner's Shockwave Rider? I appear to have lost yet another copy (ok, I believe the previous copy is somewhere in North Carolina with Brad Mehlenbacher). It's probably hanging out with the recently purchased reading glasses which have also disappeared, inside the house. No, I don't blame "Frisket". She tends to leave a debris field.

e.p.c. posted this at 13:34 GMT on 30-Jan-2003 .

Friday, January 31, 2003

Many years ago I had

Many years ago I had an account with Netcom ( I was desperate to get a non-IBM account so I could post my résumé and look for a job (this was when IBM was laying off firing departments at a time in Poughkeepsie and Kingston). Anyone, I got an account with Netcom and actively used it from 1994-2000 or so. It was a basic shell account, which I frequently found useful to have. Sometime around 1999-2000 Mindspring bought the remains of Netcom, and later the same year Earthlink bought Mindspring. The merged companies shut down the shell account access and offered to forward email from addresses to Earthlink or Mindspring addresses. Thinking this would be a good idea, I signed up for the free forwarding.

Fast forward several years and billions of spam messages later. Earthlink decides to shut down the mail forwarding, but offers to add the address as another email address on the Earthlink account. I decide to let the address die since it receives 100s of spam emails per day (most of which were thankfully caught by the service). So, the big day comes, the address dies, and my spam count goes to zero. Not just under ten, zero. Nada. I went days without getting spam. This bliss was shortlived as I've since started receiving 1-2 spam emails again, but nothing like the volume before.

Earthlink, though, didn't kill off the email address. They set up a separate address on my account and promptly billed me an additional, prorated, monthly charge since I was over my allotment for my account. Even though I killed it the day after they set it up, they're sticking to billing a portion of their $21.95 monthly charge (I normally pay $9.95 since I don't use their dialup at all). It's at most ten bucks but I'm thinking of killing off my Earthlink accounts entirely, my only regret would be losing the spam filter they've installed.

e.p.c. posted this at 08:39 GMT on 31-Jan-2003 . much for secure facilities

Ouch...according to The Register and Bloomberg, a hard drive containing records of over 150,000 clients "disappeared" from a secure facility managed by IBM subsidiary ISM Canada. I hope that it was misplaced. More details at the Toronto Star indicate that the missing drive contained records from other companies and government organizations.

e.p.c. posted this at 17:51 GMT on 31-Jan-2003 .

Powers of ten

There's been "Powers of Ten" books and clips around for several years, this website zooms in from outside the galaxy to focus on a single leaf (ok, it's mostly digital art since of course there are no photographs of the earth or solar system from outside the lunary orbit).

e.p.c. posted this at 21:19 GMT on 31-Jan-2003 .

Slightly acerbic and eccentric dog walker who masquerades as a web developer and occasional CTO.

Spent five years running the technology side of the circus known as

More about me here.