Monday, February 2, 2004

Finally, January is over

I spent the last week catching up on life and closing out the project I'd been working on with the NY State Senate since November.

A close friend of ours lost her mother last weekend, so we had another funeral to attend to this past week.

I'll be very, very peeved if I have a funeral of any sort this week (or this month for that matter).

I have decided it's going to be a good year from here on out, so no more of this funeral stuff, ok?

I'm driving out to Chicago midweek, depending on the weather, to start closing out the estate. I plan to spend a couple of weeks, I know it won't be enough but I'd like to get a big chunk done.

I'll bring Frisket out with me, she'll be entertained by the snow if nothing else.

Many thanks to everyone who sent their sympathies and condolences. I'm working my way through a stack of cards and emails to reply to.

e.p.c. posted this at 00:40 GMT on 2-Feb-2004 .

Stolen SCO Code in Linux cannot be displayed

Stolen SCO Code in Linux cannot be displayed

e.p.c. posted this at 18:18 GMT on 2-Feb-2004 .

Tuesday, February 3, 2004

Stacking the Deck Against Science

Wired News: Stacking the Deck Against Science The White House says it wants to make sure big policy changes are backed by "sound science." Opponents call the proposal a wolf in sheep's clothing.

e.p.c. posted this at 14:47 GMT on 3-Feb-2004 .


Sooner or later this week I'm driving out to Downers Grove from Brooklyn. I meant to leave this morning but spent all night Sunday night debugging a problem for a client and didn't feel like dealing with packing and the 10,000 item todo list yesterday.
So, more likely to leave tomorrow, some time.

e.p.c. posted this at 17:04 GMT on 3-Feb-2004 .

Thursday, February 5, 2004

Or maybe not driving

I've had a pounding headache off and on since Tuesday which convinced me not to leave yesterday.

I figured I'd sleep it off at night.

Woke up this morning and finished packing and as my mindset shifted into driving mode the headache resumed.

Perhaps it's psychosomatic.

And a quick looksee at the site shows there's a nice snowstorm brewing across the prime driving area.

So, I'll get to Illinois, just not sure when.

e.p.c. posted this at 14:24 GMT on 5-Feb-2004 . , Comments [2]

Todd's got a brand new blog

Turbo Todd has a blog.

e.p.c. posted this at 16:24 GMT on 5-Feb-2004 .

Saturday, February 7, 2004



Am packed.

Finished up almost everything except a checklist of stuff from Jon which I really, really will work on once I'm in Illinois.

Paid the car insurance bill, wouldn't want that to expire while I'm away. Still need to have the car inspected but am about to do that.

Frisket is still kind of ill but we'll go on, at a minimum she'll force me to pull over at regular intervals.

Just going to drive west until I hit the Land of Lincoln (or The Buckeye State, or The Keystone State, but definitely not The Garden State).

e.p.c. posted this at 13:30 GMT on 7-Feb-2004 .

Sunday, February 8, 2004

And That's How We Do That

874 miles. About 7 bottles of Diet Coke. Three rolls of sweet tarts. Two Hostess Apple Pies. Some sort of meat substance configured as a burger. A very disappointing faux-Chinese meal. US$120 of gas, and frequent stops to run around and frolic in the snow.


More notes from the drive

We left just before 4:00 p.m. Saturday, heading south to Staten Island then down 95 to 287 to 278 to 81 to 76 to 80 to 294.

Frisket was quite well behaved for the drive. I pulled over about every three hours so she could run around. Turns out the storm I chose to sit out midweek dumped 1/4 inch of sleet on the snow at the rest areas which turned into a frozen crust. Frisket would run around thinking it was snow and try to bury her head only to slide along.

At the Sideling Hill rest area on I76 she thought she was in nirvana having found 18-20 inches of snow (with the crust on top) and 12-18ft piles of snow at the end of the parking lot. I let her run around for about half an hour there.

The drive was pretty much uneventful. There wasn't much construction and the weather was pretty decent. In the mountains I ran into occasional whiteouts at the tops of the hills but nothing extraordinary.

I did learn that the trip computer in the car is not so accurate with its range calculations. I'm guessing that it bases the range estimate on the theoretical possible range given a full tank of gas, and that it doesn't actually tie into the real level of the gas tank. I learned this because the "i'm empty" light was flashing as the trip computer told me that I still had 75 miles. I pulled into the first service area that I found and filled up 17 gallons in our 18 gallon tank.

We hit Ohio aroudn 1:30 a.m. and I pulled over for a long break. This is not a problem in the Spring or Summer when I've driven in the past but the car cooled off pretty quickly. I started off again around 2:30 and found a Red Roof Inn near Cleveland and checked in there for the night.

Frisket and I started off again around noon and returned to the ever-boring Ohio Turnpike. It took all afternoon but we arrived around 5:45 CST.

The driveway hadn't been plowed and the MDX had some issues getting up the driveway but it was good to stop moving after 24+ hours on the road.

I'll add more notes later. Frisket's out and I'm about to crash as well.

e.p.c. posted this at 23:03 GMT on 8-Feb-2004 .

Monday, February 9, 2004

Job growth forecasts...

Calpundit writes: In particular, the White House is projecting that non-farm payrolls will rise from 130.1 million at the end of 2003 to an average of 132.7 million for 2004. To me (and to Reuters) that sounded like an increase of 2.6 million, but Brad notes that to get an average of 132.7 million jobs we need to end the year at about 135.3 million. That post in turn links to: Why Oh Why Are We Ruled by These Idiots? (Special Troika Forecast Edition), Yep. The Administration's Forecasts Are Weird Beyond Belief with this: To get from our current 130.1 million payroll employment number to an average number for 2004 of 131.9 [...] million requires that payroll employment growth average 470,000 320,000 a month for the rest of this year. That's ridiculously high: nobody is forecasting growth like that.

e.p.c. posted this at 20:17 GMT on 9-Feb-2004 .

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Cross-Border Church Visit Costs Man $10,000

Yahoo! News - Cross-Border Church Visit Costs Man $10,000 Crossing the U.S.-Canada border to go to church on a Sunday cost a U.S. citizen $10,000 for breaching Washington's tough new security rules.

The expensive trip to church was a surprise for Richard Albert, a resident of rural Maine who lives so close to the Canadian border the U.S. customs office is right next door to his house. Like the other half-dozen residents of Township 15 Range 15, crossing the border is a daily ritual for Albert. The nearby Quebec village of St. Pamphile is where they shop, eat and pray.

e.p.c. posted this at 10:44 GMT on 10-Feb-2004 .

The 10 Worst Corporations of 2003

From The Multinational Monitor: The 10 Worst Corporations of 2003 We hate to sound like your parents, but you must take responsibility for your actions.

Steal from the grocery store, go to jail.

Double park, pay the ticket.

But why doesn't this simple principle apply to corporations and their executives?

As of this writing, of all of the U.S. corporate financial crimes committed that have cost hundreds of billions of dollars over the past couple of years, only two top level executives are in prison.

That's it -- two.

Now, ask yourself, if working class people committed crimes that cost hundreds of billions of dollars -- inconceivable as it is -- how many would be in prison? The whole lot of them.

So, how is it that corporations and their executives get away with it?

Harry Glasbeek is a professor of criminal law at York University in Toronto. He has studied corporate crime and written a book about it called Wealth By Stealth: Corporate Crime, Corporate Law, and the Perversion of Democracy.

Glasbeek says that the creation of the corporation allowed for this "fungibility of responsibility."

"Sometimes the executives plead the corporation to relieve the executives from responsibility," Glasbeek says. "Sometimes the corporation causes the executives to plead, a couple of people take the fall. And it is very difficult. We have created a separate entity with separate property. You have a functional notion that property yields the income stream and wealth to people outside the separate entity. You have in-between actors who belong to both classes, the corporation and the outsiders. So, you have multiple personalities with different legal duties and rights that the actors are allowed to take on at any one time. That allows a shifting of responsibility that we cannot control."

Call it Multiple Corporate Personality Disorder (MCPD).

Glasbeek says this disorder undermines our notion of responsibility, which "supposedly depends on the individual taking responsibility for his or her own actions."

e.p.c. posted this at 11:54 GMT on 10-Feb-2004 .

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Erasing a Skeletal Reminder of 9/11

The damage from 9/11 continues...a building on the north side of WTC7 was just weeks away from reopening as an academic building for the Manhattan borough community college when WTC7 collapsed against it. According to Erasing a Skeletal Reminder of 9/11, BMCC is going to tear down the building and build a replacement since the remaining structure is too damaged to be replaced.

e.p.c. posted this at 12:16 GMT on 11-Feb-2004 .

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Mozilla Firefox

I downloaded the new version of Mozilla Firefox (formerly a number of other names) and highly recommend it. It's very fast and feels lightweight. I've noticed a couple of minor display glitches (it's still beta code) but am enjoying it. It's just a browser, no mail client, no IM client, though I'm sure there are or will be plugins that support such things.

You can download it from

e.p.c. posted this at 12:17 GMT on 12-Feb-2004 .

Friday, February 13, 2004

When things become portable, they become marketable

In Collision Detection, Clive writes: On Ebay today, someone is auctioning their mobile number "867-5309" -- which was, of course, made hummably famous by the Tommy TuTone hit "Jenny (867-5309)". It's available in the 212 area code. When I checked in, the bids had already hit $730.

When it became easy to register domain names, a new market appeared in domain name swapping and squatting. The same sort of thing, though I think on a much smaller scale, could occur with portable mobile numbers. Then again, since telecom rates have come down so much, the value of a 1-800 number might be far less than the value of a 1-ABC-DEF-GHIJ number if that spelled something of value to an organization.

I read a couple of other blog posts which seem to be relevant: Peter Merholz: … I talked about how people adapt technologies to their own needs, which often run orthogonally, if not in direct oppostion, to the creators' intents. Essentially what happens is that creators put functionality Out There -- what happens after that can be somewhat up for grabs., my etech talk: revenge of the user: Yet, in building these systems, the creators made assumptions about both the networks and human behavior. This is where the trouble began. Creators had a set of assumptions about how their systems would be used. Needless to say, not all users agreed with, or even understood, the philosophies of the creators. As a result, users repurposed the tools available to support their own needs and desires. Thus, what the users did did not match up to the social theory expected by creators. In some cases, these new uses horrified the creators who actively attempted to construct boundaries of acceptable behavior, further aggravating the users., and Cory Doctorow: The fact of the matter is that no group of engineers in a boardroom can ever anticipate what normal people will do with their inventions.

e.p.c. posted this at 18:19 GMT on 13-Feb-2004 .

Sunday, February 15, 2004

Off for the weekend

I'm taking the weekend "off". Lisa flew in from New York yesterday and we are spending the weekend at the W Hotel Chicago Lakeshore.

Had an excellent dinner last night at Russian Tea Time on Adams with a classmate (and her husband) of Lisa's from the LEEP program at UIUC.

Tonight...well, tonight I was supposed to make the plans and managed to pick a restaurant, but kind of screwed up on the reservation end. We ended up eatingn at Kamehachi on Ontario near the hotel. I had a chicken-soy glazed main, Lisa had sushi and some rolls. The food was great. We snuck in by accepting a table in the smoking section. The air quality wasn't too bad until just as we were leaving when a flock of smokers entered the bar.

Frisket is staying with us in the hotel. She has stayed here before and acts like she knows her way around.

e.p.c. posted this at 00:46 GMT on 15-Feb-2004 .

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Interesting AOL error

I updated my .sig for my business email to include a faux-URL of tel://+1 718 xxx yyyy for my business phone. I didn't think too much of's possible if you have a semi-aware client that you could click on it an initiate a call I guess, if the tel: method is registered.

Anyway, I did this and went on my merry way doing work.

I just found out that AOL scans incoming mail for a variety of things, I assume to deflect spam and phish mail. In this case I got my message to a colleague bounced because tel:// isn't a valid URL, specifically I got:

Remote host said: 554-: (HVU:NR) This email is rejected for containing one or more URLs which do not follow RFC guidelines. For additional inforFšpon, ID=7ba403506641df


So, I removed the anchor tag...will see if AOL continues to bounce this or not. It seems really stupid that so much energy and processing power has to go into deflecting viruses, spam, phish, etc.

e.p.c. posted this at 14:02 GMT on 19-Feb-2004 .

Requiem for a dream: article on Dean's campaign

Requiem for a DreamInternet politics, release 1.0, still has some bugs in it.The Internet didn't cause Dean's demise. Ultimately, the product wasn't saleable. Voters decided that other candidates spoke more directly to their concerns, or would be more electable in November.

e.p.c. posted this at 20:24 GMT on 19-Feb-2004 .

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Waste some time

Bubble wrap

e.p.c. posted this at 23:04 GMT on 24-Feb-2004 .

Argh...missed the absentee voting deadline

I didn't think about this until late Friday and then forgot about it again until tonight. It didn't even occur to me when I was planning to drive out that I'd miss the NY State Presidential Primary next week, probably because originally I planned to be back in NYC by now.

I would have had to send in the absentee application some time last week, today apparently was the cutoff (seven days before the election).

Maybe I'll vote in Illinois...there's a voting card here dated 2002 with my name on it.

e.p.c. posted this at 23:48 GMT on 24-Feb-2004 .

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Design update, misc notes

I updated the design here somewhat...I was getting tired of the three column thing. It was a neat thing to code up but utterly useless as a design. I'm keeping it to a degree for now under the latest entries for each section.

One thing I realized is just how totally hosed MSIE is. I have been using the new Firefox browser from Mozilla, and previously had used Opera alongside MSIE. MSIE has had no major updates in years and it shows when you use something like Firefox. The thing that I noticed this time around was that IE's margin spacing is off. I use picas to set the left margin, and it should be the same for the banner and body (2pc). Firefox and Opera had no problems with this, but MSIE indented the body 4 picas for no apparent reason. I have it hardcoded to shift left for MSIE. Previously I had to do CSS hacks for the other browsers, now it's just MSIE that has any special hacks (other than Apple's Safari which doesn't understand or differentiate the colors InfoBackground and InfoText).

Still here in Downers Grove, IL, slowly going through the house. Cleaning stuff, boxing stuff, throwing stuff away. The lawyer left a message for me today that the court date is the 5th for the will and designation of me as executor of the estate. If that holds I'll be able to get finished with the legal and financial stuff that has been in limbo for six weeks.

Frisket is sleeping on the couch next to me. She had had fun for the first couple weeks here as I'd let her play offleash in the back yard. However with the snow melting she's gotten more adventurous and started exploring the other yards. Yesterday she ran away from me (which is disconcerting under normal circumstances) and ended up playing in a creek four houses down. That's about three Manhattan blocks away, though still within the same "block" as the house here.

So, now she's not allowed offleash outside (she also treed a cat the night before, luckily the cat didn't realize Frisket has no idea what to do with a cat).

e.p.c. posted this at 22:14 GMT on 25-Feb-2004 .

Thursday, February 26, 2004

European Union to Impose Trade Sanctions on U.S

This can't be good: European Union to Impose Trade Sanctions on U.S. The European Union's trade commissioner told senior lawmakers on Thursday that the United States would face $4 billion in sanctions starting Monday because Congress had failed to eliminate overseas tax shelters for American exporters that were declared illegal by the World Trade Organization. [...] The pain will be felt primarily by American farmers and manufacturers. The Europeans will begin imposing tariffs on agricultural goods, leather products, paper, steel, nuclear reactors, machinery, carpets, clothing and other goods that are directly competitive with thier own products.

e.p.c. posted this at 17:34 GMT on 26-Feb-2004 .

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.