September 2002

Has the US welcome worn out?

Newsweek has a scary account of stupid behavior by US troops in Afghanistan. I think anytime you leave an occupying force long enough, these kinds of things are bound to happen. Most soldiers are trained to kill, not to put up an intelligence network. via Robot Wisdom

Wrap your brain around this!

Just like Kottke and others I had to open Photoshop to believe this optical illusion. The funny thing is that I consider myself a professional regarding these kind of things, but, there was no way I could look at the full picture and convince myself that the two squares were the same color.

Taming List with CSS

Most days, Cascading Style Sheets drives me nuts, even though most of the time it's not the fault of CSS but rather the browser's different ways of interpreting them. But today I am on a CSS high after reading this fabulously deep article on lists and CSS. I can't wait to get my hands on a potential application.

User-Centered URL Design

Right on! Great new word for my vocabulary: CMSJunk

Iraq The Fifty-first State?

This long but very interesting piece speculating on the aftermath of a unilateral Iraqi war raises some long overdue deep thoughts of what comes after a war in Iraq.

Negroponte of WiFi

Wired has an interesting piece by Negroponte on how WiFi may leapfrog 3G.
...Think of a pond with one water lily, then two, then four, then many overlapping, with their stems reaching into the Internet.
...In the future, each Wi-Fi system will also act like a small router, relaying to its nearest neighbors. Messages can hop peer-to-peer, leaping from lily to lily like frogs — the stems are not required. You have a broadband telecommunications system, built by the people, for the people...
I think this has already started to happen but the question is when will the Telco Lobby wake up and try to crush it.

Is developing for the mac crazy?

Joel triggered a big debate with his article that basically claimed you had to be a nut to develop for the mac market. Brent Simmons responded that it was a question of emotional appeal and to that John Gruber added some very interesting rational arguments.

Progress Paralysis

As I read this Progress Paralysis: Eight steps to get your Web site moving again. I recognized everything, brilliant article. Only two things I would like to add
  • The independent web team needs good startup capital so they can build up their service with something valuable to offer its "clients".
  • Don't implement a CMS but rather a CMS Framework so you don't get tied to one system.

Mac OSX Customization

Learned a lot of very cool tricks in this Mac OSX customization piece by Mark Liyanage. I think I will need a couple of visits to get it all in. The unix pipe to and from the clipboard is really cool.

Rebuilding America's Defences

If there is any truth to this it's very scary! Not so much the part about Irak, I suspected that much, but what really scares me is this:
...advanced forms of biological warfare that can 'target' specific genotypes may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool...
Let's get this straight in this case genotype basically equals race. To call a weapon that targets a specific race "politically useful" means Bush has some really sick people around him.

Nevada Voters May Legalize Marijuana

The Nevada ballot has it right by going for full legalization! Just decriminalizing makes no sense because:
  • The state can not earn tax on the drug since it is still illegal to sell.
  • The law enforcement still has to chase pot dealers when they could go after more important criminals.
To me the greatest evil of drugs is the criminal industry it creates. I thought we would have learned this from the days of prohibition.

Naked Networks are not (necessarily) insecure

I think Cory makes a couple of really important points about network security.
... Meanwhile, the legitimate users of your network resources are often outside your firewall (mobile execs at a client site, for example) and thus not only walled off from the rest of the network, but also vulnerable to attack, since their machines' first line of defense is the firewall, which they are suddenly out of. ...
I read somewhere recently that three of the US government super secure networks, networks that are not even connected to the Internet got infected by Microsoft viruses. This should not even be possible but it happens because the network is so restrictive that the users needing to get work done connect their laptop to the network creating gaping holes.

There is another point to this and it's the issue of who is in the company and who is outside the company. This is something that tends to get more fuzzy with consultants. I have some long standing clients where I find I would often like to post things on their intranet when I am not at their location but since their intranet is behind a firewall I can't do that and the note or idea gets lost.

A few principles and a little order

I don't agree with much that Jacques Chirac says but I think he hits it on the nail when he talks about the dangers of a unilateral US strike against Iraq:

...But if one country claimed the right to take unilateral action, he said, others would follow.

"What would you say in the entirely hypothetical event that China wanted to take pre-emptive action against Taiwan, saying that Taiwan was a threat to it? Or what if India decided to take preventive action against Pakistan, or vice versa?" he asked.

"I don't need to tell you that I condemn the regime in Iraq, naturally, for all the reasons we know," he continued.

"But a few principles and a little order are needed to run the affairs of the world." ...

Amazing review of OS X Jaguar

John Siracusa does it again! This time with a beautifully crafted review of OS X.2. I think I have read every OS X review he has done and still it amazes me how much I learn from every review he does.

Amazon Harry Potter Nimbus 2000 Reviews

I can't figure out which of these reviews are genuine and which ones are spoofs but they are very funny nevertheless and the official description does describe the toy as vibrating. via BoingBoing

BBC has added lots of RSS feeds

My all time favorite media outlet has added a bunch of RSS feeds to their site! Just plugged in four of them into NetNewsWire and now I am a very happy camper! Of course I have to stop procrastinating and make my own RSS feed tomorrow. Via Mark

SMS in the US is a dud

Not a big surprise, Sadly I think the people that have written this article don't understand why SMS has not taken off in the US. Here is my take:
  • Universal system All European carriers use the GSM system and SMS was around from the beginning. So all phones are SMS capable and SMS is always part of the standard plan. I don't know what the situation is in the US now but when I wanted a subscription you had to pay a substantial supplement for SMS and of course it was restricted to your carrier making it useless.
  • Everybody has a cell phone If you discount the kids younger than ten and luddite grand parents, the European market penetration for cell phones is nearly 100%. In other words you can SMS anyone.
  • Price Difference In Europe sending an SMS was considerably cheaper then even a short call. This has changed somewhat as normal calls are becoming cheaper while the SMS price has remained quite stable. In the US the price difference was never as apparent.
  • Prepaid cards The booming market for SMS is among kids. Prepaid cards make it possible for parent to give a cell phone to their kids. These kids paying their own calls are very careful about using it so tend to use SMS as it's cheaper (and more discreet in a classroom).
  • Identifiable phone numbers This may seem stupid at first but in Europe cellular numbers have a different prefix than land lines so you always know if the number you want to SMS has the capability.
  • Caller pays all The US system of airtime makes everything much more complicated. I am sure if the US had adopted the European pricing model; caller pays all the US cellular market would have boomed much earlier.