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March 31, 2002

wucrtupd.exe, the Windows Critical Update Notification program, insists on running every five minutes to check for critical updates. It may be well intentioned, but if the OS is so damn buggy that critical updates have to be searched for every five minutes, they should take it off the market. What's worse, there's no way I've found 'til now that to change the interval for good (running wucrtupd.exe resets the interval to 5 minutes). This page suggests something about sucrtupd.exe, which apparently exists for Windows98, but I run Windows 2000 and have an 'updated version' (according to with such 'advanced features' helpfully removed. Have disabled Critical Update Notification now (in HKLM\..\Windows\..\Run), and hope it stays that way.


March 30, 2002

Beatles wanted to do Rings film in 1960s. That's one film I'm glad never came into being. Can't you just see George Harrison as Gandalf? :-)


March 29, 2002

Flangy points out that I forgot to include OS X as a contender for the heart and minds of developers. Accepted. For graphic designers -- or BSD fans without a budget :-) -- a Mac running OS X is a great investment... all the ease of use of a modern desktop OS, and all the power of Unix behind it. But to me, a hardware monopoly is far worse than a software monopoly. At least my Windows apps will still find a microprocessor to execute on if Dell tanks. A hardware+software platform combo controlled by one company would imho be too risky for many businesses -- and it doesn't even have enough market share to justify the cost of developing apps on it. To me, the network effect of (both) Wintel and Linux will be the single biggest factor that'll force the Mac to become the Porsche of the personal computer world -- pretty, immensely desirable, but a bit impractical for carrying the family around. (Porsche does pretty well, as I understand it -- so, undoubtedly, will Apple.)




Sjoerd Visscher: Don't like the look of this site? Fantastic Tool.


Doc Searls:
It is clear that Microsoft's top management deeply believes they are doing good in the world. In terms of just selling stuff that a lot of people buy and like, that's so. But it goes deeper. They believe they are doing good by becoming strong, by staying strong, and by fighting their enemies with every ounce of that same strength.


JOHO: Become the digital millennium's Medici, not its Savonarola.


Wolfgang Manousek:
Now our Program Manager is getting real dangerous, he changed some code in our product and checked the changes into the source control system. A PROGRAM MANAGER touched our code (this brings the picture of Lucy (Peanuts) to my mind, yelling in pain and horror being kissed by a dog).
Ow. that bad a reaction? :-)


Doc Searles: Before trashing about 100 newly-discovered e-spams, I decided to merge all of them into one item. Here's the result. Heh.


NY Times: This is a case of monkey think, monkey do. One step closer to Planet Cyborg, imho. Within 50 years we'll see increasing numbers of people with some sort of prosthetic attached that'll make our spectacles and crutches and motorized wheelchairs appear like stone age tools.


March 28, 2002

movabletype released v2 on March 20. No blog cloning yet, though :-(, although automatic thumbnails are there. (I played around with Radio Userland 7 and Movabletype briefly before cooking up my own system for ChaosZone!)


CNN: Playboy seeks 'Women of Enron'.
Playboy is hoping to entice some of the women who lost their shirts in the Enron scandal to reveal a little bit more. "That's rich,'' said Deborah DeFforge, co-chairwoman of the Severed Enron Employees Coalition. "We've had so much depressing news or stressful news, and then to all of a sudden come up with something like that, it's kind of cute.''


Message to Userland: get a graphic artist, guys, and lose that ugly white patch around the OPML coffee mug. (btw, you sure Sun hasn't patented coffee mugs :-) ?)


Visual Studio.NET Pricing: over one thousand dollars for the Professional edition and two-and-a-half thousand dollars for the Enterprise Architect edition. (The .NET SDK, which has C++, C#, VB and JScript compilers plus online help, a debugger and a profiler is, of course, free.) I don't mind the high-end pricing, most corporations will buy into it. What disturbs me is that developers and 'hobbyists' (msft term, that) who like to program at home, in their spare time, are getting locked out of the GUI game because of this ridiculous pricing scheme. That's a shame, because availability of good tools was always a plus point for Microsoft. This is a serious opportunity for things like Borland JBuilder Personal Edition and KDevelop to build up some mindshare. The standard editions (Visual C#, Visual Basic, et al) are pretty affordable, though, at $109 apiece. Haven't used them, though -- so can't say how good they are, though I suspect they'll let you create forms-based apps with minimum fuss.


There's some talk about cloning the Radio Community Server in Python and Java these days. RCS is already free, cloning a free add-in to a $40 product doesn't make too much sense. Of course, if it turned out well, Frontier sales could be in trouble. The miracle of all of this, at least for Userland, is that not too many people are interested in cloning Radio itself. Fortunately from Userland's perspective, Radio is so *cheap* that it's probably not worth it to clone the thing -- buying it (and getting ad-free webspace to host your blog, plus a groovy scripting environment) is a much better proposition.


There are days when you just have to quote Dave. [On TiVO]: A note to Eisner and the other filthy bastards who think I'm a pirate, I pay $60 per month for this service. And I largely use it to watch stuff that's broadcast over the public airwaves for $0. Go figure.


March 27, 2002

USS Clueless:
It took a direct order by Emperor Hirohito to make it happen. After Hiroshima and Nagasaki, he finally bestirred himself and ordered a surrender. And with that, the entire martial tradition shattered like broken glass. The influence of the samurai on Japan was destroyed forever, and Japan is now ruled by its merchants, as are the Western nations. It took a crisis of faith; it required the people of Japan to believe that they were defeated. They had to give up a thousand years of cultural chauvinism, to accept deep within themselves that their culture was inferior in practice, and had to be replaced.


from the newly discovered blogs dept: The Kolkata Libertarian.


Lee Jeans commercial: say hello to happiness. Weird.


John Robb: If we had copyright term reform, we could see a world where people carry around the Library of Congress -- legally -- on their laptop.


Tommy's Thoughts: SharePoint vs. Radio Community Server. I have a similar problem. We use a weird mix of Domino (for discussions) and a webdav-enabled Apache (with Perl) for publishing. However, there's still something that's too rigid. Unlike Tommy, we don't use Office docs -- our docs are mostly text, PNG, visio-generated html, and vanilla html. Perhaps because you have to use log in to Lotus Notes? Perhaps because creating html docs in FrontPage is too painful? A lot of our work still happens through email. And I worry about the ideas that are getting lost in all those private inboxes too. And no, don't talk to me about mailing lists.


gobeProductive - These guys are missing out a price point -- it really should have been $99.95.


March 25, 2002

The TBTF Log was one of the earliest Blogger-based blogs around and was (c. 1995-2000) famous for incisive coverage, great commentary, and rifle-shot links. It was also about the only newsletter I actually looked forward to. But it hasn't been updated for ages now (last entry 2001-07-29). Pity -- I miss Keith Dawson's always readable coverage. Here's hoping he considers coming back online, although his company page has this to say: From 1994 to 2001, TBTF brought a worldwide readership timely news ... There was nothing else quite like it on the Net. The past tense does suggest that TBTF may be gone for good.


The Times Of India: Oscar eludes Lagaan. Good. Lagaan was a pathetic PoS with delusions of grandeur. It doesn't matter whether it won or lost, it would have remained a bad movie nevertheless. Overacting, melodrama, excessive musical sequences -- all the hallmarks of Bollywood excess were present in it. The wonder of it is that it was even nominated.


March 24, 2002

In the Fall of 1984 Apple published a 16-page advertising insert in Newsweek magazine. For many, this was the first 'up-close' experience with a Macintosh -- detailing the radical features of this new computer. Check out page 10 of that ad. (detail)


CBDTPA Coverage: Dan Gilmor: Bleak future looms if you don't take a stand. I'm not a thief. I'm a customer. When you treat me like a thief, I won't be your customer. Enough is enough.


Added code to ping to the script that drives this site. Testing it out now. Update: it worked :-)


Report Of The Committee Appointed By The Bombay High Court [...] To Recommend Measures To Protect And Shield Minors From Pornographic And Obscene Material On The Internet (PDF). Pretty good reading. Rather sensible and keeps a reasonable -- though not great -- balance between the technically possible and the 'demands' of society -- at least without killing off the medium altogether. The bottom line recommendation seems to be: better logging of publicly accessible internet connections, such as those at public cybercafes. Some good quotes:
The argument seemed to proceed on a theory that all users of the Internet are irresponsible, uneducated, highly impressionable and need to have their intake of Internet material regulated by some undefined person or persons supposed to possess greater clarity, maturity and familiarity with the Internet, its hazards and benefits. The Committee felt this argument was totally bereft of merit and undeserving of further attention.
The Internet is a new medium and, while it brings its own set of issues and problems, equally it is not necessarily amenable to restrictions applied to earlier ('legacy') technologies and media. Inherent in the New Age of the Internet is an expanded freedom, flexibility and malleability. To strike at these is to strike at the very foundation of the medium.


Reuters: Thumbs Are the New Fingers for GameBoy Youth. The use of gadgets such as mobile phones and GameBoys has caused a physical mutation in young people's hands, according to a British Sunday newspaper. I wouldn't believe everything a Sunday newspaper says, but there's no doubting the way young people adapt to technology. MTV brought us two minute attention spans, now the Gameboy and Nokia bring us the dextrous thumb. (btw, this post on Slashdot notes that the use of the word mutation is incorrect -- there is nothing happening here on the genetic level. This is a bit like typists developing pudgier fingers or piano-players having more dextrous hands.)


March 23, 2002

Finally got hold of BlogBuddy. It's a tiny Delphi app that implements the Blogger XML-RPC API, so you can use it to publish to Blogger, Greymatter, MovableType and even Radio! (and yes, this is posted using BlogBuddy :-))


The RSS Feed for ChaosZone! is now up. All that's left now is to ping automatically every time this page is updated. Will sit down with that soon. Images may replace your lousy passwords. Darko Kirovski, a cryptography and anti-piracy researcher at Microsoft, demonstrated a prototype password system at Microsoft offices in Mountain View, California, on Wednesday. Theory: this'll never work with the "techie" crowd because they remember letters/numbers much better than they remember pictures. (ever wondered how unix fans can remember all of tar's options? :-)) On the other hand, for people who "think graphically" (designers, artists, etc), this may help. But I wouldn't bet on it, passwords are too deeply entrenched in our lives already -- ATM PINs, Phonebanking PINs, the whole nine yards. Also, I don't know how this is different from Passface's Realuser, which uses faces in lieu of passphrases. I've tried Realuser, and I found it was far more difficult to remember their faces than it was to remember my passwords. And I could choose only 5 faces -- not too good, it's too easy for over-the-shoulder attacks, and it's a pain to change "faces" like I change passwords. I imagine a face-changing session would go this way: "Let's see, I chose a caucasian male last time, this time, I'll pick an asian female...". Uh huh, too much work.


Doc points to a much better name for the CBDTPA: The Anti-Mammal Dinosaur Protection Act.


United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary: Comment on the Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act.


March 22, 2002

The Register USA: DRM hardware law gets new life, new name. (Slashdot coverage here). How can the entertainment business hold the hardware business, which is ten times its size, to ransom? Answer: By keeping political lapdogs in its pocket. The tech industry, sadly, has been historically averse to lobbying. This is rapidly changing (witness the msft-versus-sun shindig), but the entertainment industry is far ahead of these guys. It's a chilling reminder that when the DMCA was passed, many relaxed by saying an 'obvious' bad law like that couldn't pass, but it did. And the Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act (CBDTPA) (nèe SSSCA) will pass too, unless a stink of gigantic proportions is created so that no senator or congressman would want to be standing within a hundred yards of the proposed bill. Interestingly, I asked RMS a question about this some time back at a talk he gave in Madras. His answer, very roughly summed up, was: "It probably won't pass". I hope so too, only if does, the GNU page about the right to read will become a whole lot more real.


March 21, 2002

Yahoo: Effective April 24, 2002, Yahoo! Mail will no longer provide free POP3 Access or Auto Mail Forwarding to Yahoo! Delivers subscribers. Yahoo, once a ubquitous presence on the web, continues its slide towards possible profitability and certain irrelevancy. Ultimately, it'll be interesting to see how they do against the twin grindstones of AOL and MSN. Their strategy of selling connectivity+content will appeal to the mom-and-pop set, while those tech-savvy enough to use more traditional ISPs are probably running their own qmail and Apache boxes and will not be caught dead a hundred miles around any branded offering anyway.

That said, I hope Yahoo makes some money out of this-- possibly enough to turn profitable and avoid a buyout. Yahoo defined the web experience for many early (but not too early) web users with it's spare, slow-connections-friendly layout; it's directory was a great guide to odd sites (at least before memepool and google), and captured the spirit of the web by including links to lots of viewpoints and alternative sources -- most other sites refuse to link outside their own properties, or include a grudging handful of links. It would be a shame to see it gobbled up by a Viacom or Disney.


Full-size fully functional virtual keyboard. Wow. But can it work on my desk covered with last month's brochures, scribble pads, and snacks? :-)


March 20, 2002

CNN: Stealth asteroid nearly blindsides Earth. We are living in interesting times, aren't we?


Microsoft Knowledge Base Q276304 Error Message: Your Password Must Be at Least 18770 Characters and Cannot Repeat Any of Your Previous 30689 Passwords. (wow, that secure?) This takes second prize for Wierdest mskb entry seen yet. The first goes to MSKB Q261186: Computer Randomly Plays Classical Music.


The Guardian: Scientists stunned as ice shelf the size of Wales falls apart in a month. Uh huh. A few more of these, and we'll be living in a Hollywood-style disaster movie.


March 19, 2002

The patron saint of Internet users?


On Microsoft Presspass, this touching tale of corporate benevolence:
Players from Microsoft's Windows XP ice-hockey team and rival Sun Microsystems gather March 17 at Seattle's Key Arena following the Microsoft Challenge, which raised more than US$1 million for the Ronald McDonald House, a haven for seriously ill children. Microsoft won, but who's counting?
This little sidebar is titled "Peace on Ice" :-\.


March 18, 2002

Radio Community Server - Now available. For free. Wow. The only crib I have about this is: Userland as a company has a history of releasing products for free, then turning them into pay-only. In some cases it works fine (think Radio for $40, which is amazingly good value), but in some cases it isn't too good for the community (Frontier's $899 1 year subscription). How do I know what the RCS will cost 5 years later? Interestingly, for a free-as-in-speech environment for xml aggregation, metadot is pretty cool. Even better, it's in Perl, so I have an easier job of hacking it than Radio (I dig its outliner, but Usertalk sometimes gets on my nerve with its funky syntax). PS. I am aware of the irony of a Perl aficionado talking about "funky syntax".


Who killed OS/2? Like the victim in Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express, the body has many wounds. The difference between the novel and the reality is that in the novel, none of the wounds was self-inflicted. I use OS/2 at least once a month... it's what my bank's ATM runs. Frankly, I wouldn't pity IBM for its inability to market OS/2. For a corporation that was a giant monopoly in the 70s, it sure displayed a lack of good business sense.


March 17, 2002

staton.Blog: Peter Chernin, president of the News Corporation, which owns 20th Century Fox, said in an interview that without copyright protection we will change our business models and the loser will be the public. ... what exactly would "the public" be losing if Fox, et. al were to change their business models? What, no more "Celebrity Boxing"?


Seen on kuro5hin, in a discussion about FOTR:
One monopolistic film company to fund them all One producer to make them One marketing campaign to bring them all And in a dark theater, enthrall them.


Saw The Fellowship of the Rings last night. Very good. Nowhere near the books in richness, of course, but you can't condense a 12-hour book into a 3-hour film without sacrificing something. The cinematography and the special effects were there in just the right doses, without overpowering the acting. Gandalf was amazing, Legolas was just right, and although I would've liked it if he cried less, Frodo was pretty good too. Even Arwen did not ruin the show as some feared she would. Shore's music was just right, not too polished or orchestral. But, gosh darn it, when the lights came on after three hours, I felt really sad that I'd have to wait a whole year before I got to see the next instalment. For such a technically polished movie, though, the print was baad. Actually, the sound sucked. It went off for a few seconds on more than one instance, and the music overpowered the dialog at quite a few places. True, the theater was crappy (Satyam, Chennai, don't go there unless you have to), but some reviews make me wonder if some of the prints had defective audio. Sure hope they can iron out these glitches before The Two Towers (which, if you've read the book, is where the story comes out in all its glory). And I do hope they show some Ents in it :-).


March 16, 2002

Microsoft, Apple Unveil New Error Codes For 2002.


Continuing coverage on the CD wars:
NY Times: Where Music Will Be Coming From.
MSNBC: Music to my ears.


March 15, 2002

Business 2.0: 101 Dumbest Moments in Business in 2001.


March 14, 2002

New Layout for! This is basically a perl script that scrapes my blogger page and re-renders it here, complete with archive links to blogspot. Next up: a (synthetic) RSS feed.


NY Times: Piracy or Innovation? It's Hollywood vs. High Tech


March 13, 2002

This would be a really good idea if they did not overreach. Already, the MSDE that ships with much of msft's new software is good -- the next logical step would be to add intelligent searching of unstructured data and unify the windows data storage story. The last thing we need is another in-your-face update that forces a lot of users who have *just* learned that .doc files are word documents to get used to (shudder) resource forks or other monstrosities.


Joel Spolsky:
One of the most misguided ideas in programming pedagogy is the idea that you have to seduce people into programming by starting with simple, fun, graphical stuff. Some people think that the best way to learn programming is to start with HTML, maybe, and then learn how to cut and paste some javascripts, and then move on. Another misconception is that you should start with a trendy, marketable programming skill like Java or Web Database Programming. Well, those people are wrong.


March 12, 2002

1943 Guide To Hiring Women. Plus ça change, plus ç' est la mème chose.


According to the Google Zeitgeist, in Jan 2002, only 1% of all operating systems that accessed Google ran Linux. Macs made up 4% and all flavors of Windows combined made up 91%. What will be disappointing for Microsoft is that Windows 98 made up a whopping 50% of that 91%, and Windows 2000 and XP 17% and 9% respectively.


March 11, 2002 on Marc Andreessen: The Internet, like its poster-boy, has grown up.


Windows XP UI nitpicking. Very well done too.


March 10, 2002 Student's gender switch poses washroom dilemma


March 09, 2002

Got some interesting ideas about integrating Blog*Spot with Chaoszone today ... let's see if I roll it out anytime soon.


The ChaosZone! Blog has shifted! New URL:


March 07, 2002

Moving or Renaming the Documents and Settings Folder in Windows 2000 is a pain -- if you don't do it at install time.


Install Windows Desktop Update on NT systems -- without jumping through IEAK hoops or uninstalling/reinstalling IE4SP2. The trick is a little known command line utlity that the IE5/IE6 installer accepts: IE6Setup.exe /C:"ie6wzd /e:IE4Shell_NTx86 /I:Y" (replace IE6 with IE5 if installing IE5). This also works on a PC with IE6 already installed.


Geocities is closing it's FTP service effective April 2 2002. This page will soon move to Angelfire, I guess, since Blogger *needs* FTP to work.


Thomas Jefferson:
If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me ... Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property. Society may give an exclusive right to the profits arising from them, as an encouragement to men to pursue ideas which may produce utility, but this may or may not be done, according to the will and convenience of the society, without claim or complaint from anybody.
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