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Nature abhors a vacuum. So does my cat.

Welcome to Vacuum

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In the latest issue: "When you get distracted, as you eventually will be, be distracted with a purpose. If you are scatterbrained at times by nature take glory in it and make the odd connections that no one else will. No one else thinks the way you do and no one else has your unique combinations of skills and experiences."

Epinions of interest:
***** A Pattern Language (Alexander)
***** Information Rules (Varian)
***** Run Lola Run
***** The Past Didn't Go Anywhere with Ani Di Franco and Utah Phillips
***** Hobee's for a recent Vacuum dinner.
***** Chia Shiang for an Ann Arbor dinner.
More at the epinions site.

Weblogs of interest

. link watcher is the list I use
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"unauthorized duplication, while sometimes necessary, is never as good as the real thing"

Sunday, January 23, 2000

SANTA MONICA, Calif. -- TheBrain, which provides visual apprehension technology for organizing and sharing information, said it received $3 million in its first round of funding led by Jump Investors, with contributions from Prime Ventures, eCompanies Venture Group, Angel Investors, Staenberg Private Capital, as well as Esther Dyson, chairman of EDventure Holdings, Michael Egan, chairman of, and Mike Santullo, founder of Four11. Randall Kaplan, founder and managing member of Jump, will join TheBrain's board of directors. The company plans to use the funding for sales, marketing, personnel, and product development. good job harlan

Saturday, January 22, 2000

Antarctic Ice Prowler - Ice Prowler Design Components of the Antarctic Ice Prowler were designed to withstand the environment of the South Pole. Each component has been tested up to 100 degrees below zero. thanks lake effect, wear your helmet matt

Thursday, January 20, 2000

Mirabilis Dictu A remarkable confluence of factors in Israel – including education, immigration and a military that's a talent incubator – has created a thriving Internet scene. Its godfather is Yossi Vardi. thanks retreaters

Tuesday, January 04, 2000

Enterprise Development Fund Announces New Fund EDF Ventures ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Enterprise Development Fund announced the first closing on $20 million for its third venture capital fund, EDF Ventures. The new fund will focus on investments in emerging and established e-commerce, healthcare, and technology companies. EDF is seeking to be licensed as an SBIC, at which point the fund will have $60 million in capital. thanks venturewire

Prudence and Safety from the Programmer's Stone. "All mapping can be seen as a search, and the thing about searching is that one does not know where the sought thing is. Therefore one must usually undertake to continue the search until the object is found. This is much easier to do if one can have confidence that the object of the search actually exists! Otherwise, one must impose some sort of artificial termination such as a time limit. This is where the `mapper faith' we mentioned at the beginning comes in - mappers discover over and over again that the natural world is always simpler than it looks, providing that one looks at it in the right way. Sometimes great hidden complexity must be uncovered and explored on the way, but the simplicity, the necessary sufficiency of the `quality plateau' will be revealed in the end. In all situations found in the natural world, a mapper investment will be worthwhile, because the deeper the hidden view, the more worthwhile (powerful) it will be. Situations that do not involve the `natural world' in this sense (after all, everything in the universe is `natural') are those where consciousness has acted to create a local area of irrationality. In other words, where you are playing against another mind, which by accident or design is setting out to confuse you, by setting out to show you only parts of the whole system (which is rational) so that what you see appears as complete but irrational." thanks ken

Global Incident Analysis Center: Mission Statement The Global Incident Analysis Center (GIAC) is an information sharing forum open to every country and community on the planet. GIAC will provide rapid and full disclosure of attack patterns and analysis, including draft analysis to give the network and systems defender the information they need to do the job. thanks sans

forum - Guest Feature: A Look at Whisker's Anti-IDS Tactics " Anti-Intrusion Detection System (IDS) tactics were one of the original key features of my whisker web scanner. The goal of any anti-IDS tactic is to mutate a request so much that the ID systems will get confused, but the web server will still be able to understand it, hence the subtitle "just how bad can we ruin a good thing?" This paper is aimed at explaining the thought process and implementation behind various anti-IDS tactics whisker uses to avoid web scan detection. While I specifically have ID systems in mind, this also applies to monitors, sniffers, log parsers and anything else trying to interpret web traffic and/or requests." from rain forest puppy

Monday, January 03, 2000

Entrepreneur Magazine: The Shadow Knows Understanding and effectively managing the informal relationships and unofficial communication channels in shadow organizations can greatly reduce employee turnover, improve diversity and help make the most of your company's invaluable knowledge resources, says Valdis Krebs, a Westlake, Ohio, consultant who specializes in social network analysis. "If you go back to the old question of whether it's who you know or what you know that gets you ahead," says Krebs, "the answer is, it's who you know." thanks valdis

Saturday, January 01, 2000

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell, due out March 2000. Author Q&A.
1. What is The Tipping Point about?

It's a book about change. In particular, it's a book that presents a new way of understanding why change so often happens as quickly and as unexpectedly as it does. For example, why did crime drop so dramatically in New York City in the mid-1990's? How does a novel written by an unknown author end up as national bestseller? Why do teens smoke in greater and greater numbers, when every single person in the country knows that cigarettes kill? Why is word-of-mouth so powerful? What makes TV shows like Sesame Street so good at teaching kids how to read? I think the answer to all those questions is the same. It's that ideas and behavior and messages and products sometimes behave just like outbreaks of infectious disease. They are social epidemics. The Tipping Point is an examination of the social epidemics that surround us.

Wednesday, December 29, 1999

Social Network Analysis Bibliography Introduction to Social Network Methods: A Working Bibliography on Social Network Analysis Methods by Robert A. Hanneman of the Department of Sociology at U Cal Riverside. This page is part of the materials on social network analysis that accompany Sociology 157, as taught by Robert A. Hanneman of the Department of Sociology at the University of California, Riverside

Innovation, Social Capital, and the New Economy by Jane E. Fountain and Robert D. Atkinson, Progressive Policy Institute. "Networks are more efficient organizational forms for innovation in the New Economy because they facilitate enhanced learning. Compared to large, hierarchical structures, networks more effectively scan the environment for potentially significant events, more accurately interpret environmental change, and more creatively and adaptively craft responses to change. Superior ability to scan the business environment for new developments and interpret them accurately translates into heightened capacity for timely and responsive innovation. Dense social networks can encourage experimentation and entrepreneurship among actors because they represent an optimal mix of collaboration and competition. Network members compete fiercely but also collectively process and share information about environmental changes including markets, regulations, technologies, and opportunities."

Sunday, December 26, 1999

NicheWorks - Interactive Visualization of Very Large Graphs by Graham Wills, Lucent Bell Labs "Displaying and navigating very large networks is a hard problem. With current and foreseeable limitations on display size and resolution, it is clear that labeled views of complete large networks are impossible with static layouts. One approach which has been tried is to use the two dimensional screen as a view on a three-dimensional layout but these methods have not shown themselves effective for large networks; indeed, since the layout can now be viewed from many angles, the problem is worse in 3D. Our approach is to provide a tool that allows the user to interact with the weighted graph, making it possible to position and focus rapidly on different subsets of the whole, thus building up knowledge about the entire graph."

Friday, December 24, 1999

UMBS - FT Mastering Strategy Building social capital as an organisational competence Soon after Robert Rubin announced his intention to step down as Secretary of the US Treasury by July this year, pundits were commenting on the differences between his style and that of his successor, then-Deputy Secretary Lawrence Summers. In short, while Mr Summers wanted to be the smartest person in the room, Mr Rubin wanted to hire the smartest person in the room. Their different styles represent the two fundamental approaches to personal and organisational competence: achieving success through human capital and achieving success through social capital.

Tuesday, December 21, 1999 When can I afford a house? How can I monitor my GPA? What are my stock options worth? How do I track my kid's batting average? Find out the answers to these questions and more with hundreds of clever calculators brought to you by BrainMatter, the new webtop spreadsheet. thanks stating the obvious (note: requires IE for the moment)

Y2K Real-time Information Center at SANS "Welcome to the real-time alert page. As system administrators submit detects of intrusions, odd log file entries, encryption failures, Y2K problems or other information it will be analyzed. When possible, we will post that information here. The information is presented by day that it was received by the analyst and the most recent information is on the top."

Sunday, December 19, 1999

Watts, D.: Small Worlds: The Dynamics of Networks between Order and Randomness. "The networks of this story are everywhere: the brain is a network of neurons; organisations are people networks; the global economy is a network of national economies, which are networks of markets, which are in turn networks of interacting producers and consumers. Food webs, ecosystems, and the Internet can all be represented as networks, as can strategies for solving a problem, topics in a conversation, and even words in a language. Many of these networks, the author claims, will turn out to be small worlds. How do such networks matter? Simply put, local actions can have global consequences, and the relationship between local and global dynamics depends critically on the network's structure. Watts illustrates the subtleties of this relationship using a variety of simple models---the spread of infectious disease through a structured population; the evolution of cooperation in game theory; the computational capacity of cellular automata; and the sychronisation of coupled phase-oscillators."

Saturday, December 18, 1999

Measurement Studies of End-to-End Congestion Control in the Internet End-to-end congestion control procedures as performed by conformant TCP are an important reason why the Internet is not suffering from congestion collapse. As long as TCP continues to carry most Internet traffic, this situation should continue. However, there are indications that the percentage of traffic carried by UDP is increasing as non-TCP applications like streaming media grow in popularity. Unlike TCP, UDP does not perform any congestion control and instead leaves this responsibility to its applications. It is important to keep track of how much bandwidth UDP applications are using and whether they are doing any form of congestion control. Given the diversity of applications and the lack of centralized control on the Internet, measurement remains the only way to resolve these questions.

Friday, December 17, 1999

Cisco Systems to Acquire Internet Engineering Group, L.L.C. SAN JOSE, Calif., Dec. 17, 1999 - Cisco Systems, Inc. today announced the acquisition of privately-held Internet Engineering Group, L.L.C. (IEng) of Ann Arbor, Michigan. IEng is a leading developer of high-performance software. This acquisition strengthens Cisco's optical internetworking strategy to enable service providers to build next-generation high-speed networks.

DOG 'signs' up for new long distance Carolyn and Stephen Booth own a summer camp, which is served by a single phone line. The Booths one day discovered Qwest long-dstinace charges on their Bell Atlantic bill. They called Qwest and asked why their long distance provider had been changed from AT&T without their authorization. Quest later provided a long-distance authorization signed by Boris Booth. But "Boris" had been the couples' dog, dead and buried for 12 years. It's not that Qwest will accept a paw print for the authorization of long-distnace; the Booths had listed their phone number under Boris' name to ensure privacy, so only their close friends would know where to look up their number. A telemarketer, seeing the name in the phonebook, apparently forged the dog's name on the contract. thanks billing world, don't go pulling this stunt naomi

Wednesday, December 15, 1999

Bird trap and cat feeder (US Patent 4150505) A bird trap and cat feeder for catching birds and feeding the birds to a cat. The trap designed to catch birds the size of a sparrow while releasing smaller song birds, wrens, swallows, or the like. The feeder providing means for continuously supplying a cat or neighborhood cats with sparrows to eat. thanks printery

404scape.html File Not Found 404! The requested URL was not found on this server. But there's more than meets the eye here. thanks t.s.

Tuesday, December 14, 1999

Method of exercising a cat (US Patent 5443036) A method for inducing cats to exercise consists of directing a beam of invisible light produced by a hand-held laser apparatus onto the floor or wall or other opaque surface in the vicinity of the cat, then moving the laser so as to cause the bright pattern of light to move in an irregular way fascinating to cats, and to any other animal with a chase instinct. thanks amicus

Sunday, December 12, 1999

Collision Course from Fast Company: "You can learn a lot by watching smart people in giant organizations wrestle with the most profound changes to hit their business in 50 years. That's exactly what's happening today in the auto industry. In just a few short years, the Web has become an indispensable part of daily life for tens of millions of people around the world. It has reshaped the logic of countless industries, from personal computing to travel. But within the next few years, the Web is expected to make its greatest impact yet. That's because one of the most powerful and most important industries on the planet -- the design, assembly, and sale of automobiles -- is finally ready to get with the digital program." thanks Gen

The Self Organizing Economy, by Paul Krugman, review by The Bactra Review.

A power law distribution means that the number of objects whose size is at least S is proportional to S^a, for some (hopefully negative) constant a. It happens that the size of cities obeys a power law known as Zipf's law, which is usually stated thus: the size of a city is inversely proportional to its rank order so that, for example, the 100th largest city is a tenth the size of the 10th largest city. This rule is almost exactly true of the sizes of American cities (it corresponds to a value of a of -2), and has been for at least a century. Physicists have liked power laws ever since Galileo, and recently we've developed a taste for power law distributions; Prof. Per Bak and his disciples sometimes seem to want to claim everything obeying a power law distribution for ``self-organized criticality.'' Krugman explains the power law distribution as an outcome of growth processes where the expected rate of growth is independent of the size already attained. Such processes do, in fact, generate power laws, and have been known to for some time --- Herbert Simon proposed one, ``in a completely impenetrable exposition,'' in 1955. Alas, none of them are as regular as the empirical data! thanks Steven Johnson in Feed, and Adina for the original observation

Emergence of scaling in random networks Albert-Laszlo Barabasi, Reka Albert Science 286 509-512 (1999) We show that for most large networks, including social networks or the citation patterns of scientists, the connectivity distribution follows a power law. We provide a simple network model that can account for the scaling behavior. thanks Nate Zelnick, internet world news

Saturday, December 11, 1999

Mob Muscles In on Credit Cards Police in Toronto have arrested 38 members of what they claim is a huge, high-tech Russian organized crime ring. Authorities allege that the mobsters intercepted and decoded vast quantities of credit-card data in transit from stores to banks and rigged debit card machines to download and copy encrypted information.

Thursday, December 09, 1999

Left the door open
for the Prophet Elijah.
Now our cat is gone.
thanks Deborah and found in the in box

Echelon Watch from the ACLU and EPIC: "Echelon is perhaps the most powerful intelligence gathering organization in the world. Reports suggest that this network is being used to spy on private citizens everywhere, including on the Internet. This site is designed to encourage public discussion of this potential threat to civil liberties, and to urge the governments of the world to protect our rights. "

Mitre is developing a directory known as Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures, or CVE, which seeks to identify with standard names all the vulnerabilities on which attackers they prey. The project hopes to help standardize computer security vulnerability vocabulary so that users can be certain whether security tools are finding the same or different holes and systems can be built more securely. The CVE editorial board has assigned numbers to about 320 vulnerabilities, and all major security vendors have agreed to provide a mapping of their vulnerability lists to the CVE. thanks sans

Wednesday, December 08, 1999

FUP. STORE CAT. Powell's Books newsletter.
When it rains like this, Fup just lays there on top of the Atlases and stares out the window at the puddles swallowing circles of lawn around the tree trunks and lampposts. Well, around two o'clock yesterday I went to the Tech store and of course that's where I found her, curled up in the exact same position she was in at nine-thirty when I'd come in for coffee. I followed her gaze across the street. A miniature poodle scrambled back and forth along a park bench, leashed to the iron arm, barking at her reflection in the water below. Fup said, "Stranded in the middle of a puddle. Let's call the fire department and see if they'll rescue her."

Tuesday, December 07, 1999

Salon Technology | MP3 crackdown "The RIAA this week slapped an MP3 search engine called Napster with a lawsuit, claiming that Napster contributes to piracy by letting users swap file libraries with each other. Never mind the fact that many of the songs that people are swapping might be legal."

Sunday, December 05, 1999

Guglielmo Marconi In the first year of the 20th century, a well-tailored young man of 27 named Guglielmo Marconi sat in a shack on a cliff in Newfoundland trying to receive a message on his new invention, the wireless telegraph. The significant thing about the message was not the message itself, but its origin. It was being sent to him all the way across the Atlantic -- on electromagnetic waves generated by one of his confederates in Cornwall, England. It was history's first long distance wireless radio communication.

Privacy group sues NSA over spy net (Excite/ZDNET news via Slashdot) "Americans could learn more about the degree to which the secretive National Security Agency -- the government body charged with cracking codes and protecting critical information -- has been spying on U.S. citizens, if a suit filed on Friday by the Electronics Privacy Information Center garners results. "The charter of the National Security Agency does not authorize domestic intelligence gathering," said Marc Rotenberg, director of EPIC, in a statement on Friday. "Yet we have reason to believe that the NSA is engaged in the indiscriminate acquisition and interception of domestic communications taking place all over the Internet." "

Tuesday, November 30, 1999

TIME Digital - November 29, 1999: Cyberslaves, Unite! Lessard: I'm not saying the Net is bad. But there's definitely a lot of hucksters out there. It's like the rest of the economy on crack. The main image of the industry is of the 23-year-old codeboy geniuses going 36 hours at a clip. The fact is that companies don't want somebody older who has limits, who has a life. This industry has been a lot like "Logan's Run" and now it's like Menudo -- you're out of the band at 16.

ZDTV | The New Crypto-Commies Newly released documents show that the FBI closely monitored a key member of the standard-setting Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) in 1992 and 1993, as he waged a doomed battle to inject crypto support into an emerging critical Internet standard.

Monday, November 29, 1999

The Intelligence Gap, Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker. 'The decline of the N.S.A. is widely known in Washington's national-security community. "The dirty little secret is that fibre optics and encryption are kicking Fort Meade in the nuts," a recently retired senior officer in the C.I.A.'s Directorate of Operations told me. "It's over. Everywhere I went in the Third World, I wanted to have someone named Ahmed, a backhoe driver, on the payroll. And I wanted to know where the fibre-optic cable was hidden. In a crisis, I wanted Ahmed to go and break up the cable, and force them up in the air" -- that is, force communications to be broadcast by radio signals. The number of daily satellite-telephone calls in the Arab world, many of which are encrypted, is in the millions, creating severe difficulties for eavesdroppers.' thanks cryptome and

Monday, November 22, 1999

Seattle Weekly: Features: How I "escaped" from Amazon.cult "As a Customer Service rep, the half of your daily shift not spent on the telephone is consumed by grinding out responses to customer e-mail inquiries. These can range from requests for help in finding a particular out-of-print title to suggestions that the company shove a particular policy up its corporate ass. One of the first surprises you encounter on the job is that you almost never respond to these queries from scratch. Instead you learn to troll the Blurb Index--a roster of pat responses, or "blurbs"--designed to address practically every conceivable scenario a customer might present. If a genuinely new situation arises more than once, there will probably be a blurb written for it."

Sunday, November 21, 1999

Henry Grunwald, 'Twilight: Losing Sight, Gaining Insight' (via NY Times) "I stand at the edge of the ocean and I think of those eyespots and of the single-cell creatures that, eons ago, began the miraculous process of sight. I, too, strain to see — to see the waves, the sand, the shells and seaweed and debris that wash ashore. My eyes are animated by the same impulse, the same will to see. But my eyes don't work, at least not fully, because they are blocked by disease. The scene around me appears through a kind of curtain, a haze. If I bend down, I will have a hard time telling a stone apart from a shell, a coin from a piece of sea glass. If I were to pick up a discarded newspaper, I would not be able to read it. During a lifetime as a writer and editor, reading newspapers — or news in any form — had been a natural and indispensable part of myself. My existence seemed to be wrapped in the printed word. No longer. "

Assistive Media interview on NPR
Q. How did you learn user-friendly for visually impaired?
When I prototyped the site... I looked at other disability sites and talked with, e-mailed computer users - especially computer users who are completely blind. I think that’s quite a barrier to overcome, and I want to design it to be the easiest it can be. What I found is... just simple text with very low graphics, text that is large, text that is bright for those with low vision. It accommodates a variety of disabilities. It’s ultimately designed, though, for a blind person. With their artificial text reader they can go to the site and run through it very easily. With their artificial text reader they’ll be able to determine which are the links to the audio programs, to the titles. The key is simplicity, nothing fancy. No Java, No animated gifs. thanks david

People for Internet Responsibility PFIR is a resource for discussion, analysis, and information regarding Internet issues, aimed at providing a forum for *ordinary people* to participate in the process of Internet evolution, control, and use, around the entire world. PFIR is also a focal point for providing media and government with a resource regarding Internet issues that is not controlled by entities with existing major vested financial, political, or other interests. This is accomplished through the PFIR Web site, the handling of telephone and e-mail queries, and through digests, discussion groups, reports, broadcast and Internet radio efforts, and other venues. thanks judi

Friday, November 19, 1999

Germany Awards Grant for Encryption (NY Times) "A branch of the German government on Thursday announced plans to give a grant of 318,000 marks (about $170,000) to a grass-roots effort to help create new data-scrambling software. The move is controversial because the United States government has been lobbying the German government to restrict such technology for fear that criminals and terrorists will use it to cloak their actions. The German government cited the need to protect electronic commerce and private communications against these same criminals and terrorists."

Thursday, November 18, 1999

Need for Computer Experts Makes Recruiters Frantic "The managers at Vivid Studios, a Web site consulting firm here, are accustomed to calls from employment recruiters trying to poach their technical staff. But the day a suitor telephoned looking for Nevil was a new low. Vivid's receptionist assured the recruiter that it would be difficult to put Nevil on the line. And with good reason. Nevil is a black Labrador retriever." thanks brig

Tuesday, November 09, 1999

The vOICe Learning Edition - Vision Substitution Software for the Blind "What does it do? The vOICe Learning Edition translates arbitrary video images from a regular PC camera into sounds. This means that you can see with your ears, whenever you want to. How well you can learn to see with your ears is something only you can find out, but now you can indeed find out and learn through this Learning Edition, for free!" thanks linkwatcher metalog

Phil Agre'sRed Rock Eater on cheap pens et al: "Finally, the mystery of the advanced gel pen technology is starting to affect productivity. Despite what you may have heard, the technology probably does not come from extraterrestrials. Can someone please do a patent search? It makes sense to start with Pilot, whose G-1 is an excellent example of whatever this technology is. The main question, indeed the central design question for all of these cheap pens, is how the ink gets chased down toward the point as you write with it. Does it involve a vacuum, or what?" what's big and red and eats rocks?

Sunday, November 07, 1999

Sorting Things Out stands at the crossroads of sociology of knowledge and technology, history and information science. The categories represented on our desktops and in our medicine cabinets are fairly ad hoc and individual, not even legitimate anthropological folk or ethno classifications. They are not often investigated by information scientists (but see Kwasnik, 1988, 1991; Beghtol, 1995; Star, 1998). But everyone uses and creates them in some form, and they are (increasingly) important in organizing computer-based work. They often have old and deep historical roots. True, Personal Information Managers are designed precisely to make this process transparent, but even with their aid, the problem continues: we still must design or select categories, still enter data, still struggle with things that don't fit. At the same time, we rub these ad hoc classifications against an increasingly elaborate large-scale system of formal categories and standards.

Saturday, November 06, 1999

Cookies, Gift-Giving, and the Internet in First Monday: "The metaphor of cookies is pervasive throughout the Internet. It is used in a variety of contexts that are interrelated, but yet lack cohesion. This section will attempt to expose some of the underlying similarities between these examples and discuss their significance in the larger social context." me want cookie

Encyclopædia Britannica "Electronic Tube" also called VACUUM TUBE, or VALVE, device used in electronic circuitry to control a flow of electrons. Such devices include vacuum tubes, phototubes, gas-filled tubes, cathode-ray tubes, and photoelectric tubes. An electron tube typically consists of two or more electrodes enclosed in a glass or metal-ceramic envelope that is wholly or partially evacuated. Its operation depends on the generation and transfer of electrons through the vacuum from one electrode to another. worth the wait to see britannica and glad it survived the m$ encarta onslaught

Thursday, November 04, 1999

the cluetrain manifesto - the book The official publication date is February 7, 2000, but it should be in stores long before that. Click on the cover to pre-order from Amazon, and tell all your pals and fellow seditionists about it. If this thing hits the NY Times bestseller list, the world is gonna change bigtime! Given a little viral word-of-net, that's not necessarily such a long shot. Wait a second... are we actually marketing here? Yeah, we are. But remember: every book you buy sends an unmistakable message to clueless corporations everywhere. Hell, buy two, they're small. go rageboy go

World's smallest Web server developed in partnership with Schlumberger ANN ARBOR---The University of Michigan's Center for Information Technology Integration (CITI) announced---in partnership with Schlumberger, the world's leading provider of smart card-based technology---the development of the first Web server to run on a smart card. A smart card looks and feels like a regular credit card, but with a difference---a smart card contains a tiny computer that is able to store very securely all types of information, such as account numbers, emergency health information, cryptographic keys, and even money. good work jim and dr. honey

Pudding-Factory Disaster Brings Slow, Creamy Death To Town Below (the Onion) CENTRALIA, IL--Sweet, creamy death swept through this small Illinois town Monday, when nine 300,000-gallon storage vats violently burst at the local Snak-Tyme pudding factory, burying hundreds of residents in a rich, smooth tidal wave of horrifying pudding goodness. thanks Deb, MJ

Lawsuit Says AOL Shuts Out the Blind - NY Times "Cybertimes" In a test of the idea that virtual spaces must by law be readily accessible to people with disabilities, a major organization representing the blind filed suit against America Online Inc. on Thursday, saying that its online service is almost impossible for blind people to use. The suit, which accuses AOL of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act, was filed in Federal District Court in Boston by the National Federation of the Blind, along with the organization's Massachusetts chapter and nine individuals who are blind. The organization is a nonprofit group based in Baltimore that has 50,000 members nationwide.

Wednesday, November 03, 1999

technology: Transistors down the tubes? (Nature magazine) Remember the days of vacuum tubes (also called ‘valves’), looking like miniature rockets from Flash Gordon and glowing in every old Bakelite radio? Well, they may be due for a revival, according to a study published in Applied Physics Letters. The difference is that now they can be made small enough to pack ten billion onto a chip one square centimetre in size. thanks YAWL

Sunday, October 31, 1999

BRIE Working Paper 132: Social Capital and Capital Gains, or Virtual Bowling in Silicon valley by Cohen and Fields: "Of course, there is trust in Silicon Valley; there is no such thing as a productive milieu, or even a functioning society, where there is no trust. At issue is the specific nature of that trust. What kind is it? What does it do and not do? Where does it originate, that is, where are its social foundations? Frequent, often sustained but, critically, commercially-focused contacts generate judgement: "he’s reliable; he’s straight; you can count on him to fulfill his end and do it well, reliably, on time." This is the stuff of reputation, of commercially valuable trust. Such specific, performance generated trust is the building block of Silicon Valley’s particular brand of social capital. The sequence runs from performance to trust, not from community. Perhaps policy would be well advised to aim for that trajectory, even if it entails loosening some deep, exclusionary, civic engagements."

Wednesday, October 27, 1999

My epinion on why it's more satisfying to write book reviews for epinions than it is to do the same for Amazon. (Feedback is the key.)

Tuesday, October 26, 1999 - kicks off free Web-to-phone service With free Internet service and free faxes heating up on the Internet, says it's the first to offer totally free phone service. The San Jose, Calif. spinoff of Korea's Serome Technology touts itself as the first free Web-to-phone Internet Telephony service. Revenue will come from ads that pop up while users make free calls from personal computers to traditional phones.

BusinessWeek ebiz Stephan Haeckel, IBM Advanced Business Institute: "I know of no large organization that manages itself -- yet -- as a system. None. They're mostly framing themselves by geography, product, line of business -- and they are trying to deal with some of these interactions by matrix management, traditional chains of command. But the traditional way is organized by lines of authority rather than lines of functionable outputs. In other words, companies and managers must learn fundamentally new competency: designing and leading organizations as systems rather than as collections of products and functions. The fundamental need in e-business is to redesign organizations. "

Salon Technology | The information Laundromat on Whisper Number: Still, it's an unusual circumstance: We are used to trusting information whose provenance we know, and discarding information whose history we don't know. Yet here, investors have one source of information they do not trust -- the investment analysts -- and another that seems to work, but that no one quite understands. Consider it a metaphor for the expanding information economy. Like a sophisticated machine, as the information available to us gets richer and more complex, it paradoxically becomes both easier to deploy and harder to dissect. (thanks Tomalak)

Monday, October 25, 1999

Silicon Alley Daily on iXL turmoil: "Rapid expansion has led to rapid turnover and a fragmented corporate climate that former employees describe as visionless. Industry observers estimate that the company's turnover rate is at least 25 percent and could be in excess of 30, particularly in the firm's Los Angeles office. The churn may worsen as employees begin cashing in their options: one former employee predicts that iXL "is going to be a vacuum after people vest."
thanks noise between stations

The VNS from a Patient's Point of View by David Naess. "There seems to be a lot of interest in the epilepsy community about the Vagus Nerve Stimulator. The VNS is a device which has (in the USA) graduated from an experimental device to a therapeutic device. Since I am a technical writer and since I have a VNS implant, it seemed be a good idea for me to apply my profession and supply an information outlet. "

Scientific American: Feature Article: A Zeppelin for the 21st Century: November 1999 "One of our greatest challenges was performing the kinds of calculations common in the aircraft design industry--estimates of aerodynamics, stresses and electronic functions for various design options. With today's computer technology, we knew the potential existed for vast improvements over classical zeppelin design. But airship development basically ended in 1940, and no theoretical or scientific advancement had occurred since. We searched the world for computer programs capable of calculating loads and stresses for various aerodynamic maneuvers and found nothing. We would have to create our own theory and practice of zeppelin design. " thanks Lindsay

An epinion in the latest high-tech gadgetry section, rice cookers. "We cook rice in an ordinary heavy pot on the stove. The pot was my grandmother's - "Club" is the brand. Doubt that you can still buy it."

Sunday, October 24, 1999

Alamut on weblog behaviors: (1) Linking, (2) Name-dropping, (3) Propagating information, (4) Re-contextualizing experience, (5) Opinion-ating, (6) Souvenir collecting, (7) Stroking, (8) Stroke soliciting, (9) Dialog-ing, (10) Brand building, (11) Displaying, (12) Prioritizing. thanks Alamut

Steven Baum's new weblog Ethel the Blog includes lots of good reading suggestions.

Friday, October 22, 1999

Remarkable notes and recommendations from Phil Agre's Red Rock Eater newsletter.

What is a Media Nugget? Simply put, a Media Nugget is a thing of quality, whether enduring or ephemeral. It can be a recording, book, magazine, TV show, web site, movie, computer game, or whatever. Lord knows, there's plenty of good stuff out there. For some, we'll link to so you can scoop the nugget right away. For others, we'll put links to related web sites. It's no big thang. It's just a nugget... thanks Harold

The Onion:Newly Unearthed Time Capsule Just Full Of Useless Old Crap
"It's yours for the taking, if you're interested," Kirschwald said. "But we'll probably end up tossing that stuff out. Not even the libraries around here want that crap. Do you know anyone who uses vacuum tubes these days?" thanks meg

Kirk McKusick interview on [Y]ou had copyright, which is what the big companies use to lock everything up; you had copyleft, which is free software's way of making sure they can't lock it up; and then Berkeley had what we called "copycenter," which is "take it down to the copy center and make as many copies as you want." thanks my dog wants to be on the radio

Cosource Moves Forward with Supermount Cosource, currently "in beta" according to Thompson, has spent the past 12 months developing the sort of highly automated web system that allows developers and potential sponsors to meet and exchange proposals about the sort of open-source software they are interested in building and, importantly, interested in paying for. With the number of small, modular projects being considered, said Thompson, there was no way any one organization (and especially one as small as Cosource) could keep track of it all. Thus, Cosource acts as a sort of bazaar broker, helping steer potential sponsors (those who agree to pay the developer to complete the project) toward potential developers. Cosource receives a "small markup" as a commission for its work as facilitator and meeting place. (See

Penguin's Progress: The New Building Trade (Doc Searls) "The future of computing won't be built by a company, even though we'll call it an industry. It will be built by builders and companies of builders. And both will operate on Unix-informed concepts not just of operating systems and development models, but of understanding and solving problems. And — critically, because this is a first — of doing business. This new building trade won't be limited by one vendor's monopilistic insistence that everything be built only with their materials and tools. It won't be a made out of one vendor's pre-fab parts. Most of all, it won't be built on shaky foundations that nobody can improve because their bricks and mortar are can only be touched by their own manufacturer."

Slashdot founder on Michigan vs. Silicon Valley
Doc Searls: You ever thought about leaving Michigan?
Rob Malda: I love Silicon Valley. I love being out on the West Coast. It's so expensive, though. I can't even deal with that. I'm Dutch. I'm a cheapskate. Where I live is cheap. The cost of living is nothing. I can get a big nice house, get a few acres, some trees, and nobody will bother me. But it'll be tough to get bandwidth. Out here I can throw a stone and get an ADSL line. But a couple of acres out here? It's a bitch. But it's nice. So I'll make it a habit to come out and hang. But I won't be staying.

Thursday, October 21, 1999

Joint Intelligence Virtual Architecture, JIVA The Intelligence Community's initial efforts towards creating a "virtual intelligence architecture" that will link collectors, exploiters, analysts and intelligence customers electronically will transcend organizational boundaries and, by providing more flexibility and less bureaucratic rigidity, electronic connectivity will allow the policy and intelligence communities continually to reevaluate requirements and refocus resources on those issues of paramount importance. Breaking down these boundaries will help synergy in all areas of the Community---collection, analysis, production and requirements formulation and vetting. Programs such as INTELINK and Joint Intelligence Virtual Architecture (JIVA) are harbingers of an era where collaborative reporting will be the standard among analysts throughout the Intelligence Community.

Brain Shocks May Help Depression (AP News on Yahoo) "In one case, a former shipbuilder had severe depression unrelieved by any current therapies, and he was so sick that he had trouble even leaving his house. Doctors implanted the pacemaker-style device to stimulate a part of his brain thought important for mood - and that very day the man laughed. ``It was remarkable,'' recalled Dr. Mark George of the Medical University of South Carolina, who performed the experimental implant. ``I said, 'Are you being forced to laugh or do you feel good inside?' He said, 'Both.''' "

DIA tackles flow of intelligence Today, the Defense Intelligence Agency is moving forward with a program that promises within the next five years to eliminate minor yet potentially deadly errors from proliferating throughout the intelligence community. Known as the Joint Intelligence Virtual Architecture (JIVA), the goal of the program is to help analysts overcome information overload by transforming the once ad hoc process of sharing critical intelligence data into a fully digitized, dynamic environment. With the help of a two-year, $6 million research and development contract awarded last month to BTG Inc., DIA is relying on Extensible Markup Language (XML) to create an environment in which changes to documents or databases are immediately available to intelligence analysts around the world. XML is an industry-standard development language used to create World Wide Web-enabled documents. XML documents also rely on dynamic structure tags, which enable a document's content, such as text and pictures, to be shared and linked easily using the Internet.

A Webwide World by Ken Perlin, NYU, 1998 "Technogeeky Info: This work is a variant on the "Random Fractal Forgeries" by Richard Voss, when he was working with Benoit Mandelbrot at Yale and IBM. In that work Voss introduced the idea of zooming forever into islands around islands on a fractally generated planet, and he created a nice little film demonstrating that. I wanted to try something in the same spirit using my noise function, and to make it all work in real-time on the Web. The surface texture is formed by a summation of noise functions. Portions of this summation are used in various ways to form clouds, ocean, mountains, snow, etc. The starfield that surrounds the planet is also formed out of noise functions. The planet has atmospheric haze (how else could you breathe?). "

Salon Technology | Attack on the Net "We hear a lot of moaning in the book world about how saintly independent booksellers are being wiped out by evil online juggernauts like No one wants to see the plucky little guy stomped by the faceless big corporation. But I doubt you'll hear much lamenting for the local car dealerships that get driven out of business by Autoweb or Carpoint. For millions of consumers, buying a car used to be a painful process, much more painful than it should have been."

Wednesday, October 20, 1999

Applet to manipulate a face - Ken Perlin In our Improv work, we showed how to make an embodied agent react with responsive facial expression, without using repetitive prebuilt animations, and how to mix those facial expressions to simulate shifting moods and attitudes. The result is real-time interactive facial animation with convincing emotive expressiveness. The eventual goal of this research is to give computer/human interfaces the ability to represent the subtleties we take for granted in face to face communication, so that they can function as agents for an emotional point of view.

NCM Online : Is There A Role For Literacy In The Information Age? We may be heading for a great, global irony. Never before has the world been so quickly in communication with itself. But now that we are "wired," no one may have anything to say.

The Baguette Quartette Home Page "The Baguette Quartette is a San Francisco Bay Area group that plays music that was heard in Paris between 1920 and 1940 on street corners, in cafes, and in popular dance halls. Led by accordionist Odile Lavault, its repertoire consists of valses musettes, tangos, pasos dobles, fox trots, marches and realistic songs. They have recorded two CDs, "L'air de Paris" (1995), and "RENDEZ-VOUS" (1998)."

Welcome to "The recent launch of the free site, designed to be the most trusted source of information, learning and knowledge on the Internet, has created such an enormous volume of traffic that the company’s servers have experienced a temporary slowdown. We apologize to everyone who has been unable to access The tremendous response to has created a tidal wave of activity on our site, and we are working hard to make the site available as quickly as possible. "

Forbes (11-1-99) Backseat Driver Is the Showroom Dead? Two perhaps interrelated revolutions are under way in the business of selling cars. One is the Web. The other is the consolidation of traditional dealers into national organizations like Wayne Huizenga's AutoNation or into manufacturer-controlled retail chains. As in most revolutions, the players are taking great risks and trying to anticipate what will be needed tomorrow. All these moves don't constitute panic, but we are seeing a lot of experimenting. Neither the automakers nor the consolidators nor the entrepreneurs know exactly what the buying public wants.

Doom as a tool for system administration: "As I was listening to Anil talk about daemons spawning processes and sysadmins killing them, I thought, "What a great user interface!" Imagine running around with a shotgun blowing away your daemons and processes, never needing to type kill -9 again.... This work was funded by the National Science Foundation (without their knowledge) through a BIO Research Training Group in Ecological Complexity (NSF 9553623)."

Tuesday, October 19, 1999

Fast Company on The People Are the Company written by John Seely Brown in the first issue of Fast Company: "Once again, tech reps help illustrate the point. In developing Eureka, PARC sent a researcher to travel with field technicians. When problems with copiers arose, the researcher asked to see the manuals the tech reps consulted. Early on, before they got comfortable with the PARC representative, the tech reps would pull out the "official" company manual - clean, pristine, neatly organized. Over time, though, they started showing the researcher their "real" manual. It was the standard book - but highlighted, dog-eared, filled with scribbles in the margins and annotated with notes and reminders. "

EB 11/98- SPECIAL REPORT/ COVER STORY The Road to Wellville on Xerox: "Don't underestimate the importance of knowledge sharing--the ability to tap the wealth of internal knowledge and share it across the organization. It's a pet project within Xerox. One example of a successful internal project is Eureka, a collaboration between Xerox France and researchers at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) that augments printed service manuals with electronic updates. Eureka enables service technicians to share the knowledge they generate in the field by submitting "tips" that are tested and validated by other specialists and incorporated into a relational database. "

Andrew Brown in the New Statesman - It's a blog's life "Blogs are never going to be big business and they're not the future of the web, either. But I find that I visit them more and more because in the blogs you can still find that educated, anarchic spirit - rather as I imagine medieval universities to have been, full of wandering scholars - which once seemed the natural atmosphere of the whole World Wide Web."

Three on a Match from Amy D. Wohl. "Eureka is an internal Xerox knowledge management project which allows field customer service staff, initially in a pilot, but now rolling out to more than 20,000 world-wide, to share repair tips. Experienced CE’s (customer engineers) can write up their good ideas and offer them to Eureka, but ideas don’t get published until several of their colleagues review them and agree that they will work. In some sense, it’s like the peer reviewing system of a refereed scientific journal." thanks brig missed you at dinner

The Gospel of Tux (1.0) (Lex Parker)
"In the beginning Turing created the Machine.
"And the Machine was crufty and bodacious, existing in theory only. And von Neumann looked upon the Machine, and saw that it was crufty. He divided the Machine into two Abstractions, the Data and the Code, and yet the two were one Architecture. This is a great Mystery, and the beginning of wisdom." thanks Deborah at found in the in box

Monday, October 18, 1999

The Raven Discussion List is raging on about a proposal for the IETF to including wiretapping features into future voice-over-IP protocols. - XML Inter-Application Protocols "XML is the new hyperlink: a conduit for integrating applications with each other. It provides a great starting point for open standards. XML-based protocols are not fundamentally superior to existing ones (e.g. CORBA, EDI)—but the human-readability, low barriers to entry, and sheer enthusiasm surrounding XML, give them a huge advantage."

THE REGISTER, "biting the hand that feeds IT". Cheeky brit tech reporting.

"LAN Troubleshooting and Baselining" pocket guide (if you have big pockets) from Wavetek Wandel Goltermann. "This pocket guide directs you in how to identify the most important network statistics and information that will help you to troubleshoot a network. You should use this convenient resource if you are a network manager, network troubleshooter, or a network service engineer who is responsible for network uptime and customer satisfaction. This handy guide will provide you with a comprehensive list of the major network statistics, errors, and procedures that can help you do your job better and faster."

THE REGISTER: Telecom 99: The winners and the (many) losers on WAP, the Wireless Application Protocol for services on mobile phones: "Here's the key observation: even the existing, rudimentary text-messaging over mobile phones is a monster hit in Europe and Asia. In Britain, mobile message traffic is growing by nearly 1000 per cent over a 12 month-period *before* WAP. Yeah, that's three zeros. Top that, Internet over PC. So the comparison between WAP and laptop performance may be irrelevant."

Sunday, October 17, 1999

When do cats eat? "Spikey and Sparkey are our 2 little cats that have been living with us since august 1999 now. Everytime they go ut and have a bite to eat they get photographed and put onto the web. This way you can not only see Alex's and Karen's eating habbits, but Spikeys and Sparkeys eating habbits as well. "

THE LONGING: What the Web is For by David Weinberger (Journal of the Hyperlinked Organizaton): "However much we long for the Web is how much we hate our job."

1999 Retail Electronic Payment Systems Conference in Baltimore Nov 10-12 1999. "This conference will focus on the increasing use of electronic payments at the point of sale in retail environments and the impact these payments are having. Attendees can expect to gain knowledge of new and evolving payment technologies and hear from leading banking,retail and industry professionals as they cover topics including: electronic checks, smart cards, radio frequency payments, debit and credit cards at retail and global electronic payments. Don't miss this opportunity to learn how these elements could impact your business." Can't wait until there's a "pay now ok" button on my cell phone, not.

David Brophy's Growth Capital Symposium in Ann Arbor Oct 20, 21 1999. "The focus of the 1999 Symposium is on companies that are positioned to exploit opportunities that have risen as a result of the advent of the internet and its adoption by consumers and businesses as a medium to communicate and to conduct business. These opportunities include, but are not limited to: internet infrastructure technology sites: content, community & commerce consumer & business applications that leverage the internet"

Concert last night at The Ann Arbor Ark was Greg Brown and Karen Savoca. "Greg Brown has a voice from another century, a sound of gravel, dust and dirt roads, of life as it was lived back when most of the country looked like rural Iowa, Brown’s home. But his songwriting and music are timeless: blues and country from the heartland. He’s widely regarded as one of the real geniuses of roots music. The dynamic duo of Karen Savoca and Pete Heitzman return to The Ark, this time with their friend Greg Brown. She plays the conga drum and sings with the voice of an angel while her partner accompanies her on guitar and bass. Their sound is an elusive mix, blending melodic beauty and a funkiness that brings her original songs to life, lifting the spirit and bringing an amazed smile to your face. When they all play together it’s pure magic." Fun show. Karen's home page link above has details and song clips.

Free Software for ISBN (Bookland EAN-13) Bar Codes "Start with an ISBN, for example 1-56592-197-6, and a price code, say 54495. Running bookland with: 1-56592-197-6 54495 > barcode.eps"
The software is written in Python by the College Park Press. calculates the EAN-13 number and produces barcode.eps, a 2K EPS file

Bookland EAN (ISBN) Barcodes from Infinity Graphics. "Bookland EAN (European Article Number) bar code symbols have become a requirement in the book publishing industry. They are used to represent the ISBN (International Standard Book Number) of the publication."

Subversive software at your service (10/16/1999) by Dan Gillmor on RUSure, an application that watches over your shoulder as you buy books and alerts you of better deals. "Subversive software takes many forms, and it isn't new. The very rise of the personal computer was an inherently radical shift, giving individuals and small businesses the ability to do things once reserved for richer people and big organizations. The rise of networks, especially the Internet, fueled the revolution. The Net in general, and World Wide Web in particular, have become the environment in which we increasingly handle our information, communication and commerce, and in which regular people find they have more power than ever."

Saturday, October 16, 1999

Communication Research: Tufte review by David Sless. "Edward Tufte is the magical curator of information design. Following in the grand tradition of 19th century museum curators, his books are masterpieces of the exhibitor's art. The exhibits are extracted from their daily contexts of use and beautifully displayed with his engaging and fascinating commentary."

Dick Miller at Stanford: on project MEDLANE. "It is an experimental effort to create a flexible retrieval and display mechanism for bibliographic, authority, and other ‘library’ information using XML (Extensible Markup Language) and Oracle 8i. Essentially, we have mapped Lane Library’s 200,000 bibliographic and authority records, including links to over 5,000 Internet resources, into XML. Circulation and serials checkin servers bypass our CARL System’s interface and web catalog. With burgeoning web development, we felt that our ‘library information’ was under-utilized due to its segregation from mainstream web resources, and in danger of becoming marginalized. "

MARC standards are kept at the Library of Congress.

Medlane Experiment - MARC to XML Restructuring serial, circulation, and traditional bibliographic data for deployment in changing digital environments. Speech by Dick Miller of the Lane Medical Library at Stanford U Medical Center to MLA Chicago.

Good News for Prospective Fiction Authors (Irony Intended) posted by William Penrose to misc.writing on an Oct 4 New Yorker article by Malcolm Gladwell called "The Science of the Sleeper" on collaborative filtering.

CBC Radio's Best Minds program has an interview with Malcolm Gladwell & his new book "The Tipping Point" on social epidemics. (Requires realaudio).

Friday, October 15, 1999

FCC Outage Report 99-149 July 30, 1999, Lamesa, TX

A contractor was providing backhoe training to his employees on his property in Lamesa, TX. The contractor told his employees that no utilities existed in the practice area and instructed them to exercise their backhoe skills. The employees began digging and subsequently severed an AT&T cable that crossed the contractor's property. There was no One-Call notification to AT&T, however there were marker poles posted on the property and were clearly visible. thanks who notes "Sometimes FCC filings can be hilarious"

Robin Cover has a good page on the WAP Wireless Markup Language Specification (WML).

"Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) is a result of continuous work to define an industry wide standard for developing applications over wireless communication networks....WML (Wireless Markup Language) is a markup language based on XML, and is intended for use in specifying content and user interface for narrowband devices, including cellular phones and pagers. WML is designed with the constraints of small narrowband devices in mind."

Chad Childers is giving a keynote speech at the Intranets2000 conference. "Application developers must face some major changes in the next few years, as secure corporate intranets open up. Suddenly, applications must not just work for one company, but for thousands of first-tier suppliers and hundreds of thousands in the second tier. Large corporate offices, small shops with one computer, and roaming staff with portable devices all have to face the risks and get work done. Open standards, including PKI, WAP, and E-tiering, have the potential to take us safely down that road. "

On the MP3 player: Omnium 2006: Boiled In Lead "Orb" including the "manic distort-a-billy" of Tape Decks All Over Hell. Omnium is my favorite source of music at the moment - next on the list to track down is the Reptile Palace Orchestra. thanks whump

Vacuum is now using the ultra-hip Blogger tool from the good folks at Pyra for site maintenance. This should make everything all that much more easy to maintain, thus increasing the chance that the site won't go a whole month with no updates.

Lou Rosenfeld and Peter Merholz deconstruct a Yahoo store in this Internet World article.

Earlier log entries in the previous log.

15 May 1999 and earlier

See weblog 0001 for earlier entries.

Notes afterwards

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