I don't know if this made it onto or stayed on anyone else's radar, but there was a five-story skeleton of a planned 10-story Intel building in downtown Austin that was abandoned right around when I moved here, circa 2000, coinciding with the local nadir of the (first?) tech bust. Intel ended up with a much smaller presence in rented space south of the river, and nothing happened at the downtown site for six years.
Well, yesterday, they finally blew it up (by most accounts "they" being the federal government). To make way for... wait for it... a federal courthouse. Not just a federal courthouse (we have two already), but this Orwellian monstrosity. Didn't we stop building stuff that looks like this in the '70s? This design reminds me of the misplaced I.M. Pei structures of certain state college systems (SUNY comes to mind), except not as good. I spent more time than I care to recall wandering alienated through these landscapes of abandonment, ducking and cringing beneath the stained concrete and dirty marble facades of post-apocalyptic monoliths. Which is why I find this evocative editorial, overlaid with my knowledge of the area, so chilling: it's going to be like Logan's Run meets Red Square (hell, it's already the Republic Square area--not far to go there). On the plus side, as you stumble out of the Gingerman at 2am, there should be plenty of jackbooted thugs around to help you navigate the barricades and find your car. Assuming there's any parking left after they extend the security cordon. And by "help" I mean tazer you and beat you with batons.
You see where this is going, right? Tear down the remnants of the tech bubble; extend the massive apparatus of authoritarianism. Get used to it.
Executive Summary: Second Life sucks, possibly worse than the first one.
You can click on the cubes and download scripts, which make you do something, or make your guy move around, or wear something. It was retarded. Imagine that every time you bought a shirt from a store, you had to install Windows on your torso.
Browsrcamp comes up every so often as a tip or trick for testing web sites on Mac browsers when you don't have a Mac. The free service gives you a jpeg screenshot of what a URL looks like in Safari. For testing a homepage or template this is fine, but it breaks down in a dynamic context (for example: a site where you need to log in or where you're using DHTML behaviors or AJAX).
But there's also a paid service that lets you VNC into a Mac and actually watch how your site behaves in any browser (and they've got some weird ones). If you had a short-term project that absolutely had to look right on the Mac, this would be a cost-effective alternative to actually buying one--conceivably $20 could get you through your entire testing phase.
Given the number of times I've almost run out to Fry's and bought a Mac Mini in a panic, I'll definitely be using this down the line.
All it takes is a snowstorm to strand hundreds of motorists on a 50-mile stretch of Interstate 78 for up to 24 hours and cause an "almost total breakdown in communication" among state agencies, according to Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell (which, I'll note, is not actually an explanation). Keep in mind, the Interstate system is supposed to be a priority transportation system, especially in times of war, and I-78 is refereed to as a "strategic" corridor for the tri-state area on a number of official sites (it's designated "High-Priority Corridor 63"). In fact, it's part of the emergency evacuation route for New York City. Seems like the kind of road you'd want to keep open. Plus, didn't we throw a whole lot of money at this "communication among state agencies" problem after 2001?
First Paris Hilton has food thrown at her in Austria and has to leave the stage (and she looked genuinely scared, which is nice). Now J. Lo is booed to tears by a German crowd. Granted, either of these things could happen here in the U.S., but then we're a bunch of hot-tempered bastards anyway. Throwing trash at Paris Hilton is downright poetic, so score one for the Austrians. But how hated do you have to be to get booed by Germans? I mean these are people who revere David Hasselhoff (although I bet "The Hoff" is pushing it with this role). My advice to celebrities would be to stay out of Hungary altogether--they'll eat you alive! Ba-dum-bum.
If I'm reading this right, the EU parliament wants to ban "skinny mirrors." While I'm glad to see the EU get on its feet and join the world community of utterly ineffectual legislative bodies who only seem to be able to agree on the totally trivial, I can't imagine why they would be against skinny mirrors.
And apparently HP offers a digicam with "skinny mode." That's just obvious. I'm thinking let's take it to the next level. Skinny glasses. Skinny contacts. Skinny windshields. Skinny fish tanks (because really, do you want your Siamese fighting fish to see how fat you are dancing around naked to Moby?).
And the best part about the skinny mirror (and possibly other Skinny® brand technologies) is that it makes really skinny people disappear. Like the vampires they are.
When a dollar coin is issued, the Mint “earns” the difference between its production cost and face value — now about 80 cents. If a collector saves the coin, another must be issued to replace it.
A banknote, since it is redeemable, counts as a government liability, and the Federal Reserve has to back it by buying securities, which earn interest. According to the Fed, there are now about eight billion dollar bills in circulation, so that interest income is considerable. Coins do not yield such income.
I'm a little thrown by who exactly is earning this "income" (investors in T-bills or some other instrument, I imagine), but I think what they're saying is that paper currency represents a government liability on the books (and in the financial markets) but that coins are just "sold" to the public (at far higher than their intrinsic value). It's a strange distinction only partially justified by the longer circulating life of coins--yes, a coin may circulate for 30 years, but it can't depreciate, and it's engineered never to have its intrinsic value exceed its face value, so it's not really an "ownable" commodity.
This seems like an insignificant technicality until you consider the recurring push to eliminate the dollar bill. In that case, literally billions of dollars would switch accounting columns from "redeemable" to "other," essentially allowing the government to "print" more money off the books. From this perspective, it's shocking they haven't done it already.
Some of you might be interested to know (okay, one of you, if "you" includes me) that Borland (as CodeGear, as turboexplorer.com) is still hanging in there with Win32 (non-.NET) development, and there's even a free version now/again. You can't find it from the real site, and it looks fake when you get there, but apparently this is legit. The product I'm referring to is Turbo Delphi 2006.
Here's an article that goes into it a little more. I agree with the assessment that Delphi/Pascal is essentially a nostalgia project at this point (although I'm sure there are eastern European hackers shareware authors who would argue). But depending on what's available out of the box (typically they've left out critical network stack interfaces in the sub-Pro versions), this is interesting to me because invoking the .NET framework (as you do automatically in Visual Studio) for a tiny helper app or test harness is computationally expensive and leads to its own version of "DLL hell." Plus, the .NET compilers are offensively slow even with up-to-date hardware.
If I try this out and it blows me away in some regard, I'll follow up.
While the students in the class probably didn't learn anything positive from the exercise, this is an ironic and unintentional study in so many teen/Gen-Y issues--peer pressure, failure of the education system, mixed messages from on high, the perils of obedience, Schadenfreude ("It was fine for me, because my best friend and me [sic] did it first!"), etc. I also imagine this turned into a perverse game of "is he/she hot or not" to keep it rolling, since only the person right before you counts, right?
I don't know which is scarier--that the "health" instructor got 18 kids to chew the same piece of gum at the absolute height of cold and flu season or that the director of school health services characterized this as "a low risk of spreading the cold or flu." Um, if cold and flu can't spread by the direct transfer of saliva from one person's mouth to another, how the hell does it transfer? Maybe they got over zealous redacting evolution from the textbooks in that district and threw out germ theory as well. And really, it's cold and flu if they're lucky.
Great job folks. I'm pretty sure the takeaway for these kids was "it's okay to have an orgy!"
Oh, and no way were we dumb enough to fall for this in high school. I'm serious. But we had The Boss.
Blind faith in your leaders, or in anything, will get you killed - Bruce Springsteen
There is a Gotterdamerung attitude abroad in the world that says, we’d rather destroy reality than admit we were ever wrong about anything. That’s rather startling and awful, but we live in a capitalist system and by and large capitalism calls the shots – literally in that it controls the armies and police forces. So it will become a very serious question for us, now and in the immediate future, and really for good: how real is democracy? And, if science as a cultural force needs to stand up for the creatures of the Earth against capitalism as a cultural dominant – who wins? This is a big question. I have hopes that despite the immense power of capitalism (which is not “creation of capital” but rather “feudal control of capital”), the real productive capacities of science, and the way science has to an extent “scientized” the workings of society in the last century, will mean that science will prevail in the end; meaning the scientizing of capitalism into some post-capitalist order that is more just than the current one.
And this is just the lead in to the real take-away:
We use "global warming" after all as code to speak of a much larger environmental crisis, and that crisis is in part the result of too many humans on the planet using a destructive technology to live by, and so human population is a crucial issue, not always linked to the other problems, when actually it is central. And human population drops to replacement rates or below when social justice prevails, especially when women have full legal rights to their lives, along with a minimally acceptable standard of living. So social justice, impossible in capitalism because of capitalism’s basic hierarchical power structure, is necessary to environmental health and human survival. So these forces, democracy and social justice, align with science in a larger project of survivability of the species. But it is an anti-capitalist project in the end.
So here's our choice: engineer a post-capitalist permaculture society or die.
OnlineVia SASE(!), you can buyget for free 150-year-old sour dough starter from the Oregon Trial. But reading this boingboing post about it, the question that comes to mind for me is... Hold on, there were Basque sheep camps in Oregon in the 1940s? (cue sounds of feverish wikipedia-ing--okay, apparently yes)
What's the snail-mail equivalent of being Slashdotted? Because it just happened to these poor people. If you're going to take advantage of this offer, I'd strongly urge you to liberally interpret the "cost" section of the order page:
Occasional unsolicited donations offset costs of distribution and production to allow us to carry on Carl's tradition of not requesting a fee.
Logically, however, they'll need to ban them in cars as well, because you could take someone out just changing songs. And probably subway platforms, because you might stumble onto the track while checking your email. And probably on sidewalks, since not only does an iPod mute your situational awareness but it actually attracts muggers as well. I'm pretty sure after that they'll have to ban the deaf--after all, they can never hear the traffic that's about to mow them down. And just to be safe anyone with any visual impairment or mental handicap, because that's sort of like checking your Blackberry. And, statistically, I think you'd have to ban old people. And baby strollers.
This blogger believes that customer service, or the lack thereof, has been the deciding factor in Dell's decline. He cites "low cost and high operational efficiency" as not being enough. While I've personally considered Dell a disappointment in terms of hardware performance and reliability, I've never heard anyone complain about the service (aside from having to call them all the time because the systems keep breaking). Certainly no more than I've heard complaints about Sony or Apple (and reliability has been an issue for these manufacturers as well).
I'd like to present an alternate theory: that rather than rebel against poor customer service, what customers have really shied away from is Dell's "directness." I think that increasingly consumers have been pushed (back) toward retail computer buying. There are many reasons for this. Bundling and 0% financing options are one big one. The perceived value of a free printer or scanner at retail usually far outweighs the cost of delivering it. And it's a hell of a lot easier to wait for the "0% on all Computers until 2008" insert in the Sunday paper than it is to wade through the shady 10% coupon deals for Dell on eBay.
Proliferation of choice may also be a factor: I think consumers have become less confident in their ability to choose the right system and components online, and Dell's plethora of models and configuration options works against them in this regard. Intel vs. AMD (how many cores do I need? 32- or 64-bit? And don't even get me started on the "processor number" debacle), a half-dozen different kinds of RAM (DDR? DDR2? what's PC-3200 in Mhz? and how much do I need?!), three or four generations of hard drive technology all currently available, XP vs. Vista, CD vs. DVD.
And then there's the sales aspect--dragging people squirming and clutching their wallet that last few feet to the register. Should I wait for Vista? What if BlueRay suddenly languishes and I can get an HD-DVD drive for $50 next month? In an almost perverse reversal of the status quo, I think the geek at Best Buy and the WalMart sale flier are actually keeping the PC unit sales flowing at this point with gentle hand holding and impulse buys. Conversely, anyone confident and patient enough to shop online has been in a holding pattern for at least six months.
I wouldn't be surprised if we see Dell making some deals for retail placement this year. Given that they already have a rivalry/relationship, WalMart/Sam's Club is the obvious first step. Costco is always a possibility. But to really make a go of it, Dell is going to need to get in bed with one of the big chains: Best Buy or Circuit City. Or, if they want to really hit it out of the park, Target. This strategy helped pull Gateway out of the fire when their online business dropped off (which, ironically, did have something to do with customer service). Adjusted for the 21st century, it could work for Dell too.
Penguin's massively collaborative novel experiment--A Million Penguins--seems to be off to a rocky start. It's a wiki, so it could easily self-improve at any moment, but I wouldn't count on it. Right now it's execrable. I mean truly ghastly.
"Big Tony," a voice said, "There's a call for you."
Big Tony carefully put down his cards and looked at the bartender, slightly raising his left eyebrow. "For you? But everyone knows not to call me here?"
"They're calling your mobile - how would they know where you at?"
"Of course," said Tony, nodding meaningfully as he took the cell phone out of his pocket. He might be "mean and dumb as a man can come" but he was also a little slow.
"Hello" said the voice on the phone, "Is that Huge Tony?"
"No, this is Big Tony."
"Sorry - wrong Tony."
I know, rather than complain I could simply edit it. In fact, just snipping it out like this makes it sound slightly funny--like maybe it's trying to be a little madcap and ironic. It's not.
Start editing this? Might as well piss in the ocean on a rainy day.
"I’m sorry, no one here has any intentions of helping you with anything."
Fuckin' A man! Stick to your guns and don't sugar coat it.
On another note... Lycos still exists?!? Well there's your problem right there.