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June 2003 Archives

Rear-view mirror day/night setting

You know how, underneath the rear-view mirror in your car, there's a little tab you can pull forward or push back? In all these years, I never knew what it was for! And now I do. You see, there's actually a piece of glass in the front and a mirror behind that piece of glass. In the "day" setting, with the tab pushed back, the mirror and the glass are aligned. In the "night" setting, with the tab pulled forward, the mirror is pointed toward the ceiling, but the glass in front still faces behind you. The mirror reflects the almost pitch black ceiling, and the glass reflects a lot less light than the mirror would. This reduces the glare from headlights behind you.

Crazy eh?

National Do Not Call Registry goes live!

Register now at the National Do Not Call Registry website and be free of most telemarketing calls starting October 1! If a company violates the rule, you can report them. Telemarketers who violate the rules could be fined up to $11,000.

There are a number of exceptions, though. Main, the registry only covers business calls, and not political or charity calls. It also doesn't cover long-distance phone companies, airlines, banks, and insurance companies. Finally, companies you have a relationship with can call you up to 18 months after your last transaction.

In many cases, though, including that last one, you can still specifically ask the company not to call you again, and they're legally obliged not to.

Update (Jun-29): Long distance phone companies, airlines, and banks were not covered because they fall under the jurisdiction of the FCC, and this list was made by the FTC. However, the FCC just voted to support the list, so those industries will need to heed the list as well. The article makes no mention of insurance companies, but since they are no longer listed in the revised exceptions list, I'm assuming they're no longer excepted as well.

Interviews take forever

I don't know if it's always been like this or if it's because of the economy, but the interview process is so long and involved these days. I've been interviewing since the beginning of the month, and I'm still in the process! First you have to take an online programming quiz, I guess to weed one batch of people out without their having to spend too much time. Then you have an hour-long technical interview on the phone. And with one company, I then went in person, and I had a 3-hour technical interview (a hour with two people, an hour with another, and an hour with a fourth person). And now since I guess that's been going okay, I have yet another interview.. this time for 4 hours, apparently.

Craziness.

Also, I find it interesting how hard it is to gauge your own performance at an interview. I know they mostly test your thought process and not your memory of facts. They ask you questions, and you're not expected to know the answer; they just want to see you work through the problem, and they help you along with suggestions. Still, at my last interview, I felt like I did worse than I could have. I felt like I had an off-day and came up with stuff very slowly.

But then I thought: You know, I probably only remember my mistakes and things I didn't get. When I did get something, I probably just breezed through that part without thinking about it. I could only hope I did better than I thought I did. Well, I guess I must've been right, since I seem to have come through that part okay.

More evidence of the worthlessness of intuitive statistics and the need for objective measurements. :)

Iraq Aftermath FAQ

Toronto's Globe and Mail has an informative and sometimes amusing Iraq aftermath FAQ.

I have one thing to add to the Baghdad power situation: I was reading that there's actually more power being generated than before the war, but Baghdad was actually siphoning power from neighboring areas then. They're not letting it do that any more now, and that's why Baghdad is having power problems. Sorry, but I don't remember where I read that. :P

Musicians protesting per-song downloads

With the relative success of the iTunes Music Store, (legal) per-song downloads are finally becoming popular. Some musicians, including Linkin Park, Madonna, Green Day, Jewel, and Radiohead, are stipulating that their albums can only be sold as complete albums. They're worried that they'll lose money and that people won't experience albums as they're meant to be heard.

I have absolutely no problem with this, and I think it's even a good thing. I love well-arranged albums, and I'd hate to see concept albums and instrumental tracks fall out of favor.

Washington Post report on Jessica Lynch

The Washington Post interviewed a bunch of people to piece together as best they can what really happened to Jessica Lynch. Here is their report.

Whatever happened to Kenneth Lay?

Back in February of last year, Paul and I made a bet. We made a bet about the future of Kenneth Lay. Paul bet that Lay would get more than 5 years in prison, and I bet that he'd get less. The loser would have to take the winner out to dinner. There were already repurcussions for Enron the company, sure, but we were talking about personal accountability. Only what happens to Kenneth Lay himself would count.

But maybe he'd get fined? We decided to make $50,000 equivalent to 1 year, so Paul would win if Lay gets a combination of fines and prison-time equivalent to 5 years, and I'd win if he gets less. Even $250,000 really isn't that much for Paul, so I figure that was his sneaky little trick. Kenneth Lay may not get much prison-time, but he would surely be fined more than a couple hundred grand, no?

Well, I sure haven't heard much about Enron these days, but that's no surprise; I may still have missed something. So I looked around a bit, and I found a couple of references to the fact that Kenneth Lay has yet to be indicted with a criminal charge. Here's a list of criminal cases involving other members of Enron. But hey, who can blame the feds when you've got the devil herself, Martha Stewart, to deal with, eh? (She's been indicted for selling stock that saved her a mere $45,000.)

This does, however, present me with a dilemma: Paul and I never set a time limit on our bet. So what happens if a criminal case is never even filed against Kenneth Lay? I won't get to collect on that dinner!

LaserMonks

Monks from an abbey in Wisconsin have started up a printer supplies company called LaserMonks. All proceeds go to abbey upkeep and charity. Here's a Reuters article about them. They aren't newcomers to ecommerce. They've already been selling religious materials through MonksOnline. I just want to say "LaserMonks" again and again.

LaserMonks LaserMonks LaserMonks! :)

Powergen Italia

The award for best domain name ever goes to Powergen Italia. It's funnier when you realize that it's unintentional.

(At least their domain name carelessness becomes more understandable when you see the poorly translated English on their site.)

Ceci n'est pas une guerra (c'est l'amour)

Blogger Jason Kottke put together a cute little silent film about the eternal bond between Bush and Chirac.

Comment Links and Archive Reorganization

I've added links to recent comments, listed by date and poster name, to the main page (over on the left). The editor's control panel has a listing like that, and I find it a good way of checking for new comments. So I've added it for all to use. Am I not kind? :)

The particularly astute of you may notice that these links point directly to a particular comment. The date following each comment is now a permalink, so you can give people links to specific comments now! Yay!! ... *unimpressed silence*

Finally, speaking of permalinks, I guess they're not so permanent, because I just reorganized all my individual entry files into folders by year and month. This way, I don't end up with a gazillion files in the same folder. I apologize for the inconvenience of killing off old links. Hopefully, I won't be changing these links ever again.

Sex, Guns, and Rock & Roll

MP3s, AK-47s, and hot chicks: A winning combination!

US negotiating with Taliban

We won the war in Afghanistan and kicked out the Taliban, right? Well, not quite. Karzai's gov't doesn't really have that much power, and now, according to the Asia Times, the US and Pakistan are negotiating with the Taliban to possibly allow them roles in the post-war gov't. (Found link via the Agonist.)

"Huh? Afghanistan? C'mon, that's so 2002!" :P

Whatever happened to the three mysterious ships?

So you may remember that, back in February, there were three mysterious ships sailing around the oceans, suspected to contain Iraqi weapons. I was wondering the other day: Whatever happened to those ships?

Well, guess what? While glancing through my website logs, I noticed that nearly 300 people were wondering the same thing. They reached my site through the search string, "three mysterious ships". Like me, they only found old news from February. No one's mentioned those ships since.

The war is over, so you'd think that we'd know by now, one way or another. I imagine the most likely explanation is that nothing ever came of it, and no one bothered to report that. That's too bad. Have you ever watched an interesting report on the TV news about some developing story and lamented that you'd probably miss the followup some weeks from now? Well, with the Internet, you can actually search for those stories to see what happened later! But I guess you can only do that if someone reports it. :P

Were I delusional, I'd hope that this post will trigger a web-wide riot, demanding to know what happened to those ships. :)

A Death in North Dakota

A Japanese girl dies alone in a snow-covered North Dakota forest. A cop says he thinks she was looking for the buried money from the movie Fargo. A British reporter travels there to film a re-enactment of her final days. As in Fargo, the story isn't quite what it seems, but the truth becomes irrelevant.... Anyway, go read this Guardian article.

Thirty-three Virgins

Most megacorporations that own a variety of interests use different brands to promote different products. Sony owns Columbia/Tristar, for instance, and Philip Morris -- oh, I'm sorry, they're Altria now -- owns Kraft Foods, which in turn owns products under a gazillion different brands, from Altoids to Oreos.

British megacorp Virgin, however, seems to use the same brand name for everything, from Virgin Radio to Virgin Atlantic, from Virgin Wines to Virgin Healthcare, and of course the most amusing: Virgin Brides. I found this really fascinating during my stay in Britain. Anyway, here's a full list of Virgin companies: [A to E] and [F to Z]. I guess I'm easily entertained.

Correction: I originally confused Proctor & Gamble with Philip Morris. Altria owns Philip Morris, not Proctor & Gamble. Thanks to Mawo for pointing out the mistake.

Now in China: 24-Hour News

The state-sponsored Chinese Central Television network (CCTV) started a 24/7 news channel just in time for the recent war. (I found this out from my dad.) That may not sound like a big deal until you consider that, previously, every news report had to be explicitly authorized by the government. That model was just not tenable in the 24-hour format, so the government agreed to allow real-time coverage! Much of their news was translated from foreign news stations like CNN, BBC, and Al-Jazeera, since they don't have as many journalists of their own. And they would report breaking news as it happened.

I mean, I'm sure they still have lots of general guidelines, and they probably can't report freely on domestic matters. Plus, the gov't probably picked this case because China didn't have a strong stance in either direction anyway. (And let's not forget that it's still jailing certain journalists.) Still, I think this marks the first time journalists working for state-sponsored media have been allowed to speak to the people with real-time news without first checking it with Party officials, and this 24-hour news channel is here to stay. If not a milestone, it's at least a big step in the right direction.

Trying too hard to prove the lack of WMDs

It's not just some rogue reporter at the New York Times any more.

  • First, Vanity Fair interviewed Deputy Defense Secretary Wolfowitz. They published an article suggesting that he said WMDs were a manufactured reason for the war. But they had taken his quote out of context as demonstrated by the full transcript.

  • The Guardian published an article about how Straw and Powell expressed their doubts over their evidence at a meeting before Powell's big UN speech. Now they've retracted that story after Straw said that the meeting never even happened.

  • The Guardian also published a story on their website about how Wolfowitz said that the war was really about oil. But he said no such thing, and they've retracted that too, saying they misquoted him. The proper quote was actually published a week earlier in an AP article that was on their own website.

I don't think WMDs were the real reason for the war either, but when you're trying to show that someone was fabricating evidence, you really shouldn't do that yourself. These were big breaking stories that attacked people's integrity. When you do that, you'd better be damned sure of your own.

When I saw those two articles a few days ago, I was about to post them (and a third article) on my blog, but I was feeling a bit skeptical and figured I'd wait till there was more evidence. :P The third article from about US News and World Report. They said that Powell lost his temper over the shaky evidence he had to present. Well, that one might still be true, but the really sad thing is that I have to take it with more grains of salt than ever. This has not been a good year for the news media.

"They, like, don't know anything."

A group of teenaged girls are teaching FBI agents how to chat like 13-year old girls in undercover operations to catch pedophiles.

"They, like, don't know anything," said Mary, 14, giggling.

"They're, like, do you like Michael Jackson?" said Karen, 14, rolling her eyes at just how out of it adults can be.

Also:

And the younger female FBI agents assumed that teenage girls would think actor George Clooney is cute.

"We're, like, no," said Mary, making a face.

"He's, like, 50," Karen exclaimed.

And the best part of all:

Thanks to the girls, Bald said, the FBI has gathered such valuable information as [...] "pos" stands for "parent over shoulder."

After the ceremony, several parents talked excitedly about finally finding out what "pos" meant.

Karen shot Mary a worried look: "Our classmates are going to kill us."

Keanu gives £50 million to Matrix effects team

According to British celebrity news magazine Hello!, Keanu Reeves is expected to make some £70 million from the Matrix sequels, and he's giving £50 million of it to the team of 29 costume and special effects people. Pretty cool. :)

Handy Guide to Media Consolidation

Here's a handy guide to existing media consolidation. It lists media outlets owned by five companies: AOL/Time Warner, Clear Channel, Disney, News Corp, and Viacom. There were some surprises for me, and there probably will be for you, too. Expect further consolidation in the future now that the FCC has just today voted to further relax media ownership regulations.

Honda ad floods my server

So I saw that cool Honda ad, and, since the QuickTime version was hard to find, I hosted a mirror on my site. I mentioned it in this post. Apparently, it became the number 4 Goggle hit for honda ad quicktime. I think a lot of people have been passing the direct movie link around, too.

Now, that's kinda cool, but it's taken quite a toll on my bandwidth. So my site has a monthly transfer limit of 40 GB. I've previously only used less than 0.3 GB a month. Now, when I first noticed the clip's popularity a week or two ago, it had eaten up 4 GB in May. That's a lot, but I figured I'd let it stay. But now I've noticed that it had a second peak of popularity, and my site's total usage for May was nearly 32 GB! According to my logs, that video accounted for 98% of my bandwidth in May. So, sorry. It has to go down lest it immobilizes my site.

Those of you who know me can still find it in this directory with the same password you use for my photos. The rest of you, well, apologies again, and I hope you find it in some other Google hit. :) Enjoy!

Update (Jun-30): If you live in the UK, you can get a free DVD with hi-res QuickTime versions on the DVD-ROM portion from this Honda UK page.

About June 2003

This page contains all entries posted to the klog in June 2003. They are listed from oldest to newest.

May 2003 is the previous archive.

July 2003 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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