Swimming with the Razorfishes

Friday, November 21, 2003

Damn. It looks like Dell has retired their Stephen the Dell Dude AOL bot:

The internet just got a little less exciting for me.


Chris tipped us off to Rolling Stone's Top 500 Albums.

A few comments.

  • How did Fleetwood Mac's Rumors rate higher than Let It Bleed? How on Earth did it rate higher than Coltrane's GIant Steps?

  • Dark Side of the Moon higher than It Takes A Nation of Millions? Crackers.

  • Forever Changes, Love? WTF?!

  • The Beatles' Please Please Me? I love The Beatles, but lets focus on the stuff they after they stopped trying to sing like Motown stars, m'kay?

  • Born in the U.S.A. in the top 100? That's just crazy talk.

  • I'm guessing that Elvis Costello is rather miffed that he rated lower than Creedence Clearwater Revival.

  • I'm glad to see that Catch a Fire made the list. I thought I was alone in liking that one.

How you know this list is crap:

  • The Saturday Night Fever soundtrack made number 131. Ahead of The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle. Ahead of Aja.

  • Elton John's Greatest Hits made the list? Greatest Hits?

  • N.W.A's Straight Outta Compton Comes in ahead of Moanin' in the Moonlight, Paul's Boutique, and Bluesbreakers.

  • Three words: Byrds Greatest Hits.

In fact, the list really falls apart after 100. Brace yourself if you browse past that point.

Thursday, November 20, 2003


Note to self: review Rascal Software's Veredus, Java-based documentation tool, for technical writing.

I'm listening to Pink Floyd's Animals [itms]. It has been a while.

Wow. This is a great album.

Wow. Very cool. A map showing where candidates' money comes from.

[via Scripting News]

A Rock, Paper, Scissors competition. I don't think this is a joke. God, I would love to have photographed that.

[via Scoble]

What is the worst job you've ever had? This is some funny stuff.

[via Outwardly Normal]

Funny. When I read it, the speech President Bush gave yesterday sounds pretty good.

But when I heard him speak it, all I could focus on was his...dopey...halting way...of speaking. He really needs a speaking coach.

Dave Pollard on the Walmart Dilemma. Good stuff.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Re-implementing what I designed in 1979 is not interesting to me personally. For kids who are 20 years younger than me, Linux is a great way to cut your teeth. It's a cultural phenomenon and a business phenomenon. Mac OS X is a rock-solid system that's beautifully designed. I much prefer it to Linux. [via Wired]

From Bill Joy, that is high praise, indeed. Apple's OS people should be deeply tickled.


One of the great things about New York is the frequency of random, strange events. One minute you are walking down 42nd Street, dodging traffic, and the next, you are in the middle of a bunch of people wearing some kind of traditional costumes.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003


Quick Quiz:

This says more about:

  1. The father
  2. The son

Is it just me, or does Apple's new iMac with a twenty-inch screen seem like a mildly subversive bit of hardware? With a twenty-inch LCD screen, it is a workable television for a small room. At that price you also get an 80 gig hard drive, good enough to hold my MP3 collection for streaming.

They were introduced today, with little fanfare.


SlimDevices has an interesting product called Squeezebox. A $300 adapter that makes streaming music from your PC to your stereo easy. It looks like I'd have to run some software on my PowerBook, but it also looks like I'd be able to stream both MP3 and AAC.

I'm tempted to buy one.

[Thanks to ScifiHiFi for the link.]

Monday, November 17, 2003

Mike Clark asks a good question:

"Tell me how to write a J2EE app that displays "Hello World" on a web page?"

Yes, with the war files, and descriptors and pre / post compiling, creating and deploying J2EE applications certainly is difficult.

But, quite frankly, I don't want an environment that makes "Hello, World" really easy. I'm rarely asked to write applications that display "Hello, World" on a web page. And If I really had to do that, I'd fake it by dropping an HTML file into the J2EE container's document root and pretend it was all dynamic.

I don't want an environment that makes the simple things even easier. I don't want another pet shop demo application, ATM, employee directory, or currency calculator.

If an environment makes the simple stuff easy while making the really difficult stuff next to impossible, that doesn't really serve anyone's needs. How about making it easy to have two J2EE containers communicate with one another. How about making it easy to map complex components to multiple relational tables, rather than making it moderately complicated to map a simple object to a single table? How about making it easy to query and manipulate the abstract schema, rather than making it somewhat mystical to walk across a few objects' relationships?

I don't care how easy it is to write "Hello, World." I'd like the really tough stuff made easier.


Wait a minute. I just read that page again. This has to be a joke, right? After the plausible "Email 'um" and "Burn 'um" options, they mention snail mail and fax.

Uh, apparently one does need more than a brain stem. Or I don't have one. Either or.

So now I feel like an ass.

Wow. This is misguided. Propaganda from the RIAA inviting us to "send back" our MP3s to them. Ostensibly created by "Parents and Their Kids against Stealing," one needs little more than a brain stem to see through this sham.

I like the implication that MP3s are like CDs; physical things that can be "sent" to the RIAA to be disposed of. I'm wondering if RIAA systems really are ready to handle gigabytes worth of mail attachments. I'm tempted to send my whole library just to see.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

Tonight, expect is my friend:

#! /usr/bin/expect -f
spawn telnet $argv 25
expect "Relay Service ready"
send "\035\r"
expect "telnet>"
send "quit\r"

Frank admissions of problems in Microsoft's Universal Plug and Play software from a former team member. Hmm. Should I build autodiscovery software based on UPnP, a closed, bug-ridden product with little shipping software, or on Rendezvous, an open, well-supported product with actual, shipping, software.

"But the uncomfortable reality is that I was fully aware that the UPnP team's programming/testing practices left something to be desired. In fact the code was so awful that at one point a snippet of code from the checked in source tree, real code that was supposed to ship in the final product, was sent around and a contest was held to see who could figure out what it was supposed to do. I say supposed to do because the code didn't actually work. There were two contests, one for developers and one for PMs. I won the PM contest. The page of code was an AtoI function. Once you fixed the endless loop it turned out to require O(N2) iterations where N was the number of digits in the original ASCII number.

We had one or two testers depending on what other projects were around and only one of the testers understood what was going on and she could only cover a tiny bit of the code base. When I worked for IE the rule of thumb for network code was to have between 2 to 3 testers per developer, although we were lucky to have a 1 to 1 ratio. As a side note, the testers we did have for networking in IE were absolutely rock solid and easily the equivalent of 2 bodies a piece. UPnP had something like 2 testers for 5 or so developers.

Yes, I talked about the problem with the group's management. Yes, I talked about the problem with several of the testers and developers on the team. Some cared, most didn't. Eventually those of us who had any pride in our work just got up and left. Without support from management there really wasn't much else to do. The feeling of apathy and doom was pretty consistent throughout the project." [via Goland.org]

So it seems that California Governor Gray Davis doesn't know how to drive. So the man who presided over a controversial car tax increase can't drive a car.

This reminds me of Robert Moses, who, in his zeal to criss-cross New York City with countless bridges and highways, destroyed countless neighborhoods. This man who, almost single-handedly destroyed large sections of The Bronx, couldn't drive. Robert Moses, great builder of highways, did not have a driver's license.

I don't think this is such an improbable scenario. The world has tolerated The United State's self-serving policy because our imperialistic tendencies have been largely confined to business and culture. However, our actions Afghanistan and Iraq must be regarded as what they are: invasions of sovereign nations.

While the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan enjoyed fairly broad support, our invasion of Iraq did not. And while our invasion of Afghanistan was supported by strong evidence that military action would serve the common good, the invasion of Iraq was not.

One of the few things justifying Iraq is the belief that on some kind of absolute scale of good and bad, "we" are good and "they" are bad. This is the same logic that claims history is written by the victorious, that the end justifies the means.

But like all matters of opinion, this can change, and the U.S. can find itself on the wrong end of the scale. This scenario is not improbable.