December 2003 Archives

Wikipedia fund raising

Wow, that was fast! Early Sunday I read that Wikipedia is looking for money to buy some new servers. I paypal'ed them $100. Apparently a lot of other people did the same because they only need $2500 more as of this writing to reach their goal of $20,000. So instead of suggesting to send them money I'll suggest you give money to The Perl Foundation or to the EFF. Their current "mp3 is not a crime" t-shirt is mighty cool so if you just want a very red $100 t-shirt then I recommend sending them money. ;-)

Speaking of new servers, did I ever mention that Robert, Vani and I installed the new servers we bought with money Ticketmaster gave us? They are in the rack (rather than in my apartment) and Robert and I are busy putting them to use.

Apple Wireless Mouse


Apple Pro Mouse vs Wireless Mouse

Before christmas while picking up an iSight for my mom (and one for myself) I also got myself a Wireless Mouse.

Unpacking it quickly revealed the first major problem: It's not shiny. Not "not shiny enough", it's just not shiny. At all.

Apple Wireless Mouse

Besides the non-shininess the design isn't so bad. The on/off switch is pushing a door away from the optical eye, very neat. Installation with Panther was a breeze, even using both mice at the same time works fine. A positive surprise was that it does have adjustable click-tension.

Usage wasn't quite so delightful though. Clicking with tension set to "minus" is fine, but the darn thing is slightly bigger and much heavier than the ordinary pro mouse. My poor arm and shoulder gets tired pushing it around for just a few minutes. No fun at all.

A wireless keyboard seems pretty pointless (unless you use it to play games on a giant tv). But a wireless mouse? Well, it would be kinda neat if it was 1) not huge. 2) not heavy like a truck. 3) shiny.

The iSight however is mighty neat. I couldn't make the "holder" fit well on my Dell monitor, but the one to put it on the Powerbook works nicely (except there I'd like the firewire cable to be shorter). And why is the cable to hard to detach from the camera?

Merry Christmas

This year I'm going to celebrate christmas with Birla whom I've known since we were 6-7 years old. We went to school together for 12 years and now she ended up here in Los Angeles as well. What a small world it is sometimes. She is married to an Englishman and they are playing family in the hills nearby here. Visiting them some months ago I was quite amused by quizzing Birla "his or yours?" and be told "his" with things that would be very typically hers to get and have. (Large round mirror with a sun shine shaped frame - if you, dear reader, know her, then you know what I mean :-) )

I've bought unusually geeky presents this year; but of course I can't tell about those yet.

Funny, it looks like wednesday is weblog day for me this month. I have a few other stories queued up, for example about how I unintentionally got my 15 minutes of fame in the Danish media. I was even invited on a tv show if I had been over there for christmas rather than here... All very silly and quite amusing.

Happy holidays etcetera to everyone.




In this place, most people speak more than one language. Almost no one owns a car, even the millionaires. Many people don't even knowsomeone who owns a car. There's no Wal-Mart, no Target, no Home Depot.

There's also a deep ethic of civic-mindedness. Average citizens are not just aware of, but actively engaged in efforts such as city planning and zoning laws and the design and preservation of public spaces. Architecture is valued and protected by well-organized, well-financed groups, often consisting of canny partnerships between public, private, and corporate concerns. New urbanism is an understood goal, not just a theoretical ideal.

Anil Dash: Whence the Name.

Not exactly Los Angeles ... :-) While we do have an amazing mix of cultures, backgrounds and identities and even neighborhoods where you can walk to your basic amenities, civic-mindedness and good architecture is relatively sparse here.

But hey, the weather always comes to the rescue. New York: Cloudy and 12 degrees celsius. Los Angeles: Fair and 20 degrees celcuis. (Looking out the window I can't see a single white spot on the sky...)

Practically Freezing!

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Just got home and the thermometer in my car said 7.5 degrees Celsius. Very cold! Maybe where you live it wouldn't be so cold, but here they don't even sell clothes made for such weather and they certainly don't make the buildings for it. brrrrrrrhhhh... Must run and stand in front of the heater.

Homophobic Fuckwittage


Like Brian Dear I started getting enormous amounts of junk mail after sending a bit of money to the ACLU. No, they don't have even an opt-out button in their donation process. My little brain can barely contain the irony of the ACLU selling my postal address and justifying by saying that they are going to somewhere in their terms. Did I mention that the other organizations are even know from where they are getting the addresses? Not that I mind anyone knowing that I've given money to that particular cause, but come on... I was giving money to the ACLU to help them make that sort of thing happen less frequently, not the other way around. Naturally I wasn't planning to make that mistake again.

Reading this story makes me consider giving them a second chance if they eventually add a "please preserve my privacy and don't sell my address" button...

Marcus McLaurin was waiting in line to go to recess on November 11 at Ernest Gallet Elementary School when a classmate asked him about his mother and father. He responded that he didn't have a mother and father; instead he has two mothers. When the other child asked why, Marcus told him that it was because his mother is gay. The other child then asked what that meant, and Marcus explained, "Gay is when a girl likes another girl."
Upon hearing this, Marcus's teacher scolded him in front of his classmates, telling him that "gay" is a bad word and he should never say it at school, then sent him to the principal's office instead of letting him go to recess. The following week the school required Marcus to attend a special behavioral clinic at 6:45 in the morning, where he was forced to repeatedly write "I will never use the word 'gay' in school again."

Louisiana School Punishes 7-Year-Old Boy for Talking About His Lesbian Moms

I was going to write something about how surprising it is that so many people grow up being intolerant morons with this kind of education, but I'll save your time for another day and go and collect my jaw from the floor instead.

(via Dave Cross, from whom I also stole the title of this entry)

GPRS considered useless


t68iI've played with my GPRS connection for a few days now. It really doesn't work very well at all, at least not here in Los Angeles or with my phone or with my usage. And yes, the phone is reporting decent coverage when GPRS doesn't quite work. Sometimes ssh works alright (with the ~1 second lag), but sadly it's not very consistent. Packet loss has occasionally been 20-30%, enough to combined with Other Factors make ssh not able to even initiate a connection.

So what about non-interactive connections? Web sometimes sorta almost works. Trying to sync my mail from the IMAP server (using takes Forever, and even then it'll only get the headers from a dozen new mails and not actually the mail content.

I might give it another try or two, but if it doesn't get much better then I'm definitely not keeping the service.

A comparison with AT&T edge makes it look like that might be marginally better. Reading another review doesn't exactly make me run out to try it. A third review makes it sound not quite as sucky. Oh, and the PC Card you need is Windows only so far, so it might as well not exist as far as I'm concerned. :-) And unlimited usage is $80/month. That's almost as much as I pay for DSL; not so attractive.

GSM World has more information than you ever wanted about GPRS and related technologies.

In unrelated news there's another Steve Jobs interview in Rolling Stone where he among other things talk about how the music industry works (and doesn't work). No making fun of Michael Dell dancing though...

November Retail Therapy

daniel_lanois-shine.jpgSome recent retail therapy ...

Nick Cave: No More Shall We Part
Daniel Lanois: Shine
Kruder & Dorfmeister: Conversions
Once Were Warriors
Arvo Pärt: Te Deum
Underworld: A Hundred Days Off
Microsoft: Age of Mythology (Mac)
Future 3: Like...
Kenneth Koch: One Train
Capucon & Capucon: Duos for Violin and Cello

The Daniel Lanois CD is really growing on me. I just got Underworld and Nick Cave yesterday, but I think they'll both get steady rotation in iTunes as well. The rest I haven't really had a chance to listen to yet. (Or to watch the movie, play the game or read the book).

Oh, I also got sufficiently tired of the miserable transfer speeds of 802.11b to buy a 802.11g access point (a Linksys WRT54G). But I haven't unpacked it yet ...

Speakeasy were supposed to upgrade my DSL to 1.5/768 (from half the outgoing speed) yesterday. Same monthly price, apparently they are just improving their service level. Very cool. It was down for a few minutes today but it's still running at the old speed. I should try resetting the modem/router gadget.

T-Mobile GPRS on OS X


I got T-Mobile to enable GPRS ("T-Mobile Internet") on my phone the other day. It works alright with the t68i and the PowerBook. I used Ross Barkman's "modem scripts". With the right script with the magic "use GPRS" commands I just had to choose the correct "CID" and enter "" as the phone number. I also setup a "Data account" on the phone; I'm not sure I actually needed to do that.

A few odd things:

  • The T68i (or OS X) can't figure out to have both and the PPP connection connected to the phone at the same time.
  • I get a 10.x IP address, having a public address would be slightly more convenient.
  • The latency is about a billion years. Alright, that's not true but it's around or more than a second. Not fun for interactive connections (understatement meaning: that really fucking sucks).
  • I haven't tested the transfer speed, but it seems better than normal GSM data (9600). I was mostly going to use it for interactive connections I don't really mind whatever it is.

I can't figure out if I could use the $10 "T-Zones" service rather than their "Internet" service which is more. I only need web access and ssh. Can they really tell if you use the phone as a modem rather than just use data from the phone? That was what the customer service person told me.

Perl Advent Calendar 2003

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Mark Fowler is doing a Perl Advent Calendar again this year.

Each day he picks out a useful or interesting module that you likely haven't heard about. Very fun and useful.

If you are impatient and want to open the rest of the doors, then you can go back and play with the calendars from 2000, 2001 or 2002.


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The 5th Wave-2003.12.01 - Why can't you just bring your iPod like everyone else?

(from Robert)

New York Times Magazine had an interesting article about Apple and the iPod a few days ago, The Guts of a New Machine.

I didn't expect much when I resorted to asking, in so many words, whether he thinks consciously about innovation.

''No,'' [Steve Jobs] said, peevishly. ''We consciously think about making great products. We don't think, 'Let's be innovative!''' He waved his hands for effect. '''Let's take a class! Here are the five rules of innovation, let's put them up all over the company!'''

Well, I said defensively, there are people who do just that.

''Of course they do.'' I felt his annoyance shift elsewhere. ''And it's like . . . somebody who's not cool trying to be cool. It's painful to watch. You know what I mean?'' He looked at me for a while, and I started to think he was trying to tell me something. Then he said, ''It's like . . . watching Michael Dell try to dance.'' The P.R. minder guffawed. ''Painful,'' Jobs summarized.

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