Thursday, May 1, 2003

So...tonight CNN had a clip

So...tonight CNN had a clip on the USS Abraham Lincoln, where Bush is to give a speech tomorrow. Seems that he is to fly in in an F14 or some other combat aircraft, not the Marine helicopter usually used. Not that I wish any harm, but there are so many ways this could go wrong (at least they are not trying it at night).

e.p.c. posted this at 00:07 GMT on 1-May-2003 .

Chris Allbritton closes out his

Chris Allbritton closes out his back-to-Iraq weblog with: Epilogue: A Question of Truth
We’ll see to what degree democracy really does come to the new Iraq. But I know this: The American people, in whose name this war was waged, need to hold this administration’s feet to the fire. It’s obviously too late to stop this war, but we as a democratic nation still have a responsibility to make the aftermath as beneficial to the Iraqi people as possible now that it’s over. That means that corporate cronyism that seems to be the preferred method for awarding lucrative rebuilding contracts needs to be protested — loudly. Any backsliding on democratic actions or a disconnect between administration actions and rhetoric have to be combatted as vigorously possible.

e.p.c. posted this at 22:35 GMT on 1-May-2003 .

Friday, May 2, 2003

Why on earth would anyone use a debit card?

If I read this article (Settlement Seen as Changing Ways Consumers Use Debit Cards) correctly, after the settlement between retailers and Visa/Mastercard takes effect, retailers will be free to choose whether or not to accept debit cards at all, and if they accept them, whether to require a PIN as the “signature” or an actual signature. By using a PIN, the retailer pays mere cents for the transaction, by accepting a signature the retailer pays much more. On the other end of the transaction though, the banks that hold the cards apparently are charing consumers up to $1.50 per transaction if they use a PIN to sign the transaction, instead of a signature. So, even with the settlement, the banks get their $1.50 (or more), only now the retailer isn’t forced to fork over the money.

So, why would anyone who’s minding their money use a debit card? If you put the purchase on a credit card, and pay that card off every month, you end up getting a little interest on the float in your account between when you made the purchase and when you pay your credit card bill (assuming your credit card has the typical billing grace period).

e.p.c. posted this at 10:54 GMT on 2-May-2003 .

About me... I am a

About me...

I am a thirty-something I/T hack. I’ve been doing Internet stuff since the late 1980s and computer stuff since the late 1970s. That’s not supposed to impress you, you’re supposed to take pity on someone who’s spent far too much time playing with computers.

I went to "Allegheny College" (where I studied Arthurian Literature and Pascal) and "Carnegie Mellon" (where I studied technical writing, interface design, and comp.sys.mac.*).

From 1990 through 2001 I worked at "IBM". From 1994 through 1999, I ran No, really I did. Honestly. Look, I can see you don’t believe me, so dig up your copies of InternetWorld from 1995-1998 and look for the Fortune 500 webmaster survey...I’m in there. No, really. Ok, well, you can look for my old page at (there’s something weird going on with Javascript and images on that page that I don’t understand, nor care to debug).

While at IBM I did all sorts of interesting things, ranging from writing some books for MVS, RACF, and CASE/390, and, well, helping to put IBM on the Internet and world wide web. I worked on a few Olympic Games web sites (Atlanta, Nagano, Sydney) and the Deep Blue web sites (still smarting over that). I designed some pretty nifty web hosting infrastructures if I do say so myself. Really. Ok, fine, write me off as another .com dropout. See if I care. Phhhthttbtbt.

In 2001 I took a sabbatical since I was, well, rather burned out. I returned in September 2001 as a “consultant” (meaning: they had no idea where to place me). After spending two months flying around the East Coast and sitting in rooms playing Snood (because they didn’t want me to do anything either, just bill your time to the customer please), I decided I had better things to do with my life and left for netomat, inc. where I ran the technology and software development team.

I left netomat in 2002, because, you know, the worst job market in a century is the best time to quit a paying job.

I currently do some consulting and take care of "Frisket", our Golden Retriever (I have to admit this, Frisket’s web site gets far more traffic than this site).


These are in no particular order:

  • Wireless technologies (bluetooth, wifi)
  • web logs and ideas derived from them (content syndication, things you can do with XML,).
  • Complex I/T problem analysis and solutions
  • Web site infrastructure design and operations, problem management, etc.
  • emerging technologies and their impacts on communications
Current projects
  • Writing So you want to be a webmaster? (hey, it’s a working title, ok?). About my time served as webmaster of and "IBM" in general.
  • Writing a novel. Everyone should try to write one. If you’re lucky, this one won’t get published.
  • Exploring "Bittorrent"
  • Exploring RSS and RDF
  • Reacquainting myself with the BSD variants of Unix
  • Some light Java work
This site

This site is geared towards friends and family and other colleagues. If you don’t fall into one of those categories then you are a welcome guest, but don’t complain that this doesn’t meet up to some self-inflated standards of what a weblog is supposed to be.

This site is the follow-on to which in turn was a follow-on to both and (bluelogs died out of non-participation by IBM employees, died when I left in 1999).

This site is currently run using "Radio Userland", however I plan to change over to "Moveable Type" soon. Radio was kind of interesting for awhile, until I tried customizing it. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out the most simplistic scripting (you can see the result in various “macro” errors throughout the site). The markup is supposed to be "XHTML" compliant, though I haven't verified it lately. The CSS is based on a Radio version of a "Moveable Type" style, though I've completely rewritten the "HTML" gorp and modified most of the "CSS" to my own taste. I don’t have comments enabled intentionally...If you want to let me know what you think, send me a note (the little envelope icon thing at the top of each day) or add a comment to your weblog (the catch being that doesn’t run a "trackback" server).

e.p.c. posted this at 12:07 GMT on 2-May-2003 .

Reading: Reinventing R&D Through Open Innovation.

e.p.c. posted this at 12:10 GMT on 2-May-2003 .

Sunday, May 4, 2003

If you read, Chris

If you read, Chris is asking for feedback on his trek and the blog: Call for comments. Hello all. I'm gathering material for research on the B2I proposal, and wanted to ask the readers some questions. Feel free to answer in the comments or email me.

e.p.c. posted this at 18:25 GMT on 4-May-2003 .

Monday, May 5, 2003

Dinner tonight was at Isobel.

Dinner tonight was at Isobel. We’ve been going more frequently due to the new menu they adopted (their first menu was very shellfish heavy). "Frisket" got a new shipment of knuckle bones and tendons to chew on so she was happy today.

e.p.c. posted this at 22:37 GMT on 5-May-2003 .

Monday, May 12, 2003

A very minimalistic internet comic

A very minimalistic internet comic strip: Death to the Extremist.

e.p.c. posted this at 12:36 GMT on 12-May-2003 .

Where do you fall on

Where do you fall on the Political Compass? I must have done something wrong, my numbers were all negative.

e.p.c. posted this at 17:22 GMT on 12-May-2003 .

From the Sydney Morning Herald:

From the Sydney Morning Herald: Computer glitch traps man in BMW: While on the way to an important speech, Thailand's finance minister got locked inside his luxury car because of an onboard computer malfunction and had to signal someone to smash a window for him to crawl out. "It was pretty bad because nothing worked, everything was locked," a shaken Finance Minister Suchart Jaovisidha told reporters yesterday. [...] The engine stopped, the air conditioning shut down, the doors got locked and the windows wouldn't roll down, he said, adding that he was trapped for about 10 minutes.

e.p.c. posted this at 18:08 GMT on 12-May-2003 .

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Today’s big accomplishment: discovering that the dryer had become just ever-so-slightly disconnected from its vent duct. This was not very difficult detective work, the yards of lint I pulled out from around the enclosure kind of gave away that there was a problem. Apparently the dryer was installed in such a way that, assuming it didn’t ever move, the vent duct would sit just on the edge of the opening, there was no compression ring or flexible duct connecting it, it was just resting against the dryer. I didn’t fix it yet, need to run to the hardware store tomorrow to find some 5 inch flexible ducting (though, we have plenty of duct tape).

e.p.c. posted this at 22:54 GMT on 13-May-2003 .

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Will The Real Saddam please

Will The Real Saddam please stand up?

e.p.c. posted this at 12:28 GMT on 14-May-2003 .

That was a good episode

That was a good episode of West Wing. It’s a shame that Sorkin is leaving the series. The NY Times covers the finale in A Whiff of Camelot as 'West Wing' Ends an Era: Mr. Sorkin's "West Wing" was a boy's vision of the true Camelot: knights at the Round Table and Guinevere safely upstairs and locked in her chastity belt. Certainly the show will be less literate. It is hard to believe that in a Sorkinless "West Wing" a young White House aide will sarcastically refer to a French rival as Tartuffe.

e.p.c. posted this at 22:22 GMT on 14-May-2003 .

Thursday, May 15, 2003

In March I noted Edward

In March I noted Edward Tufte’s dissection of PowerPoint slides used to present information about the Space Shuttle Columbia. Tufte has now written a booklet called The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint which looks at how presenations weaken verbal and spatial reasoning.

e.p.c. posted this at 12:07 GMT on 15-May-2003 .

Off to see The Matrix:Reloaded.

Off to see The Matrix:Reloaded.

e.p.c. posted this at 16:25 GMT on 15-May-2003 .

So The Matrix: Reloaded has

So The Matrix: Reloaded has been seen now. My take: it’s ok and I’ll definitely see it again (in a theater with a better sound system though), however it felt lacking, probably because they can’t really break too much new ground and stay within the story line. A couple notes for my fellow former Bridge Street residents: I think the building with no elevator was to our Northwest (across the park), and there was a spoon after all.

e.p.c. posted this at 23:38 GMT on 15-May-2003 .

Friday, May 16, 2003

Leaving for a week’s vacation in Lake Placid, back online next Thursday.

e.p.c. posted this at 12:30 GMT on 16-May-2003 .

Saturday, May 17, 2003

Arrived in Lake Placid around

Arrived in Lake Placid around 8:30 last night. The drive out of NYC took close to two hours (covering about 40 miles). "Frisket" spent some time at the lake this morning and dabbled her toes in the water. She seems to like the lake when it’s quiet. Later when there were some mild waves she wouldn’t go near the lake.

e.p.c. posted this at 16:28 GMT on 17-May-2003 .

Sunday, May 18, 2003

We have a new game

We have a new game with "Frisket". We’ll walk her over to the Lake and cycle through a number of sticks and branches on the shore, throwing them into the lake. She’ll run into the lake to retrieve them and then run back up the bank and deposit them in one of several piles. We do this for 20-45 minutes at a time and then spend the next hour toweling her off. She also met a new friend today...another dog here at the lodge.

e.p.c. posted this at 21:22 GMT on 18-May-2003 .

Monday, May 19, 2003

Saw X Men 2 tonight

Saw X Men 2 tonight at the Lake Placid Palace. Lisa and I made up 2/3rds of the audience. I can only hope that the Palace had a few more people over watching the Matrix:Reloaded. My review of X2: fancy special effects and a great cast can’t possibly save the lack of a coherent plot or cover up the numerous holes in what little plot there is. At least the popcorn was good.

e.p.c. posted this at 22:40 GMT on 19-May-2003 .

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

"Frisket" had much fun today,

"Frisket" had much fun today, while we were at the lake her friend dropped by and participated in the fetching of sticks and running around on the bank doing the little victory dance Frisket developed. We also finally shopped at the pet store in Lake Placid (it had been closed Sunday and Monday) and picked up some water toys for Frisket which she promptly initiated into the Lake Placid game.

Lisa and I wanted Frisket to get quite tired so she wouldn’t miss us while we ate dinner and caught the series finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I thought it was one of the better episodes of the season, and probably in my top twenty for the series though not one of the best episodes.

e.p.c. posted this at 23:33 GMT on 20-May-2003 .

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

This was our last full

This was our last full day in Lake Placid. We walked around town a bit, though this is not a town where you do late afternoon shopping as most stores start closing around 5:00.

e.p.c. posted this at 21:32 GMT on 21-May-2003 .

Thursday, May 22, 2003

Leaving Lake Placid today around

Leaving Lake Placid today around noon. Should take 5-6 hours to drive back to Brooklyn, depending on traffic. My guess is we’ll fly down the NY Thruway to Rockland County and then crawl back into the city.

e.p.c. posted this at 08:19 GMT on 22-May-2003 .

Friday, May 23, 2003

We’re back in Brooklyn today, just in time for the weather to be cold and damp for the holiday weekend. "Frisket" is spending the afternoon at "Monster Mutt" while we unpack and catch up on things.

e.p.c. posted this at 12:32 GMT on 23-May-2003 .

A couple links: Documentation of

A couple links: Documentation of Gator Advertisements and Targeting is a research report on the Gator malware (it’s an application on Windows which will cause popup ads to appear when you hit websites, ads which Gator sells, not the website you’re visiting so the revenue goes to Gator, not the website). Earth, Moon, and Jupiter, as Seen From Mars is an image taken by the Mars Global Surveyor, the first showing the Earth and Moon from space, together. Finally, Students for an Orwellian Society has an interesting take on the value of 1984 today.

e.p.c. posted this at 12:48 GMT on 23-May-2003 .

From Lawrence Lessig’s weblog: dear Starbucks, say it ain't true?. So I have this from an extremely reliable source, who vouches totally for the facts that follow.
Story one: Last month while visiting Charleston, three women went into a Starbucks. They were spending the weekend together and one of them had a disposable camera with her. To commemorate their time with one and other they decided to take round robin pictures while sitting around communing. The manager evidently careened out of control, screaming at them, “Didn’t they know it was illegal to take photographs in a Starbucks. She insisted that she had to have the disposable camera because this was an absolute violation of Starbuck’s copyright of their entire ‘environment’--that everything in the place is protected and cannot be used with Starbuck’s express permission.
Story two: At our local [North Carolina] Starbucks, a friend’s daughter, who often has her camera with her, was notified that she was not allowed to take pictures in any Starbucks. No explanation was given, but pressed I would think that the manager there would give a similar rationale.
I wonder what would happen if hundreds of people from around the country experimented this holiday weekend by taking pictures at their local Starbucks … [Lessig Blog]

e.p.c. posted this at 19:59 GMT on 23-May-2003 .

I seem to be collecting

I seem to be collecting PowerPoint critiques and spoofs. And now: The Gettysburg Address as a (typical) PowerPoint presentation. Also read the author’s reasons for creating the spoof.

e.p.c. posted this at 21:50 GMT on 23-May-2003 .

Sunday, May 25, 2003

We caught Bend It Like

We caught Bend It Like Beckham again, at the Pavilion Brooklyn Heights Cinema. It’s a fun movie...see it if you haven’t.

e.p.c. posted this at 00:50 GMT on 25-May-2003 .

Monday, May 26, 2003

It’s raining, for the third day here in NYC, and the fifth or sixth for us (since it rained the last couple days in Lake Placid).

I did some mad techno-geek stuff over the weekend, rearranging my hosting at (where is hosted, amongst other sites), rearranging the jungle of cables under my desk, almost eliminating a power strip but not quite, realizing I ordered both the wrong DVI extension cable for the G4 as well as the wrong KVM for sharing my wireless keyboard between the mac and stinkpad. By far, I wasted the most time trying to figure out why the FreeBSD box keeps shutting down after an hour of uptime. I had set it up to host DNS and some other minor home-networking stuff, which isn't much work but it does need to be running. I am contemplating upgrading it to FreeBSD 5.1beta to see if that exorcises whatever daemons are bringing it down.

No slacker, I haven’t upgraded the G4 to 10.2 yet so no iTunes sharing yet.

e.p.c. posted this at 11:06 GMT on 26-May-2003 .

Tuesday, May 27, 2003 CAT PRIN -- the CAT PRIN -- the tailor for a cat you know — it is — fact which will become dearer than former if a cat has clothes on.

e.p.c. posted this at 11:13 GMT on 27-May-2003 .

This site was hosed for

This site was hosed for a couple days, my apologies. It seems to be running much better now. I now need to migrate it from to

e.p.c. posted this at 11:22 GMT on 27-May-2003 .

Oh, and I figured out

Oh, and I figured out at least part of the cause of the FreeBSD box crashing...has something to do with the seti@home client I was running on it. I stopped running it and voila, the box has magically stayed up for nearly 24 hours.

e.p.c. posted this at 11:28 GMT on 27-May-2003 .

I can’t find my earlier post about the Baghdad blogger Salam Pax, but here is a related followup in (of all places) The National Review: The Elusive “Mr. Peace”.

e.p.c. posted this at 13:30 GMT on 27-May-2003 .

Great. Here I am, trying

Great. Here I am, trying to eat healthy and drop my weight, and discover that the metric reference for weights (the kilogram) is itself losing weight (more properly: mass). Today’s NYT covers this in: Scientists Struggling to Make the Kilogram Right Again.

e.p.c. posted this at 13:49 GMT on 27-May-2003 .

The NYT essay Essay: Fading

The NYT essay Essay: Fading Species and Dying Tongues: When the Two Part Ways pointed me to a site on languages which I’ll need to explore:

e.p.c. posted this at 14:03 GMT on 27-May-2003 .

Thursday, May 29, 2003

While commuting to Sydney in

While commuting to Sydney in 1999-2000, a number of us were afflicted by United’s inflight movie The Straight Story, about a guy who drive his lawnmower across several states to meet up with his brother. Apparently, there’s now a guy riding across the US on a lawnmower to raise money: Across America in 80 days ... on a lawnmower. I hope the Saudis don’t get any ideas, they may attack the Mall in D.C. with a convoy of hijacked John Deeres.

e.p.c. posted this at 10:03 GMT on 29-May-2003 .

Looks like the elected officials

Looks like the elected officials in my hometown learned a hard lesson about e-mail: Commissioner censured after circulating village e-mail. It seems that there is (or was) a big fight brewing in Du Page county, Illinois over the DuPage Water Commission (formed in the 80's I think to pump Lake Michigan water to the county). There is a continuing big fight over expansion of O’Hare airport into the village of Bensonvill, IL. An elected commissioner in Downers Grove happens to work for the village of Bensonville and apparently shared a private email with his colleagues in Bensonville.

My little lesson here: email is never private. There are degrees of privacy you can try for, but in the end it is never private. It can be shared intentionally or completely by accident. Email is never private.

e.p.c. posted this at 20:38 GMT on 29-May-2003 .

Friday, May 30, 2003

Terrifying Bill Passed During NBA

Terrifying Bill Passed During NBA Playoffs:In a nationally televised address before an estimated audience of 150, President Bush praised the Citizenship Redefinition And Income-Based Relocation Act. "The swift passage of this very important law proves what I have always believed: that government works best when spared the constant carping and criticism of naysayers," Bush said. "I am proud of all the senators, representatives, regional overseers, and metropolitan sub-commanders who worked so hard to make this law a reality. Almost as proud as San Antonio is of its Spurs."

e.p.c. posted this at 20:38 GMT on 30-May-2003 .

Saturday, May 31, 2003

Woo-hoo...they have caught the guy

Woo-hoo...they have caught the guy suspected in the Olympic Park and other bombings. CNN: FBI: Rudolph Captured, MSNBC, NYTimes: Olympic Park Bombing Suspect in Custody.

e.p.c. posted this at 10:35 GMT on 31-May-2003 .

Olympic Park Bombing Suspect Captured

My connection: I was working in Atlanta on the 1996 Olympic Games web site, based in the building across the street from the bomb (in the left corner of the videos they are playing now of the bombing in the park). I wasn’t in the building at the time of the bombing, instead I was sleeping at home about a mile away. I heard a muffled whump when the bomb went off, then nothing. Then..sirens and helicopters flying very low on the deck into the city. The initial report I got on my pager was that the bomb had occurred in the Olympic Village which was just across the interstate where we were staying. I felt no easier when it became clear it was the Centennial park since that’s where most of the IBM web team had planned to go that night. Turns out the ones I know had left the concert about 20-30 minutes earlier and were a few blocks away when the bomb exploded.

e.p.c. posted this at 10:42 GMT on 31-May-2003 .

Doh! Man Accidentally Leaves Picasso,

Doh! Man Accidentally Leaves Picasso, Matisse Paintings On Subway

e.p.c. posted this at 12:35 GMT on 31-May-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.