Archive for July, 2003

Pet Peeves: Yeah, Baby!

July 31, 2003

Watching The Amazing Race tonight, I realized that I had moved from dislike to sheer hatred of the phrase “Yeah, baby!” It came on the scene a year or two before Austin Powers completely ruined its novelty. If you say this (and you know who you are because you probably say a lot of these cliché verbal crutches), please consider coming up with something new or, perhaps, ditch the crutches and banter on your own.

If you think about it, its affirmatory power is neither a solid “Yes” and is tempered by the indiscriminate “Baby,” normally reserved for infants or loved ones. If I have to use something like it, I’ll go with a good ol’ “Yes indeedy!” or “You bet your sweet bippy!”—which has the added benefit of being inscrutable to everyone under the age of 30 and nostalgic to those over.

Google’s AdSense

July 31, 2003

Google AdSense is a program whereby Google supplies personal Web sites with text ads relevant to the pages content. I’m thinking about doing this.

What do you think? Yes or no? Please express your opinion in the comments. I don’t want to alienate anyone and I’m not hurting for money by any means, but I sure wouldn’t mind getting some Google revenue—my Amazon affiliate has never generated a sale (I still like the information they provide so I’ll keep it up).

Excellent Tutorial

July 31, 2003

Here’s an excellent advanced tutorial on Colonel Angus. If you’re a guy with a partner you love, you owe it to yourself (and your partner) to read through this. It’s very well-written, descriptive enough to be useful, and thorough. There are illustrative pictures along the sides that are definitely not work safe, but don’t let that stop you. Turn off images or resize to obscure them.

Note: I’ve avoided the obvious descriptor words so that I don’t get pervs for all eternity visiting my site. Also, I didn’t stumble across this tutorial through any similarly perverted means: it came across the What’s New on Yahoo! pages this Tuesday.

Tech Work is Grueling

July 31, 2003

Tech work can be very grueling. Many people completely change their careers after the experience. The former boss of my department became a dog groomer. Others might go on to deliver books to the Nepalese via yaks. Whatever floats your boat, eh?

Giddiness Redux

July 31, 2003

The waiting game is over: I just got word that the proposal was pretty good, requiring only a few changes. Unfortunately, the agent wants a sample chapter to include. Phew! Luckily, he’ll wait a little longer for that, but the revised proposal has to be to him by Monday.

I’ve got a feeling that this book is going to keep me very, very busy.

Sony’s House of the Future

July 31, 2003

I feel sorry for my cousin Jake, who has to live in a state-of-the-art apartment with no bathroom.

Idea Futures

July 31, 2003

I stayed away from the idea of the idea futures market that’s generated a lot of controversy lately. (Quick aside: You’ve got to love the title of Pravda‘s article: “Pentagon Gives Up Terrorist Totalizator”) I understood the idea, but I wasn’t sure whether I bought its efficacy. This editorial by one of my favorite Reason authors, Ronald Bailey, convinced me that I understood it well enough to assail its efficacy.

Futures markets in general are as close to national legalized gambling as you can get. When you buy pork belly futures for a certain price, you’re betting that the price will match or exceed the price you paid. How can you know that? There’s not really any special insight or intuition that futures traders have in this regard. I’m sure they’ve studied the pork belly market and, if they’re successful, they’ve been doing it for years, but the future isn’t known and anything can happen. What’s more, there’s a whole bunch of data available and the variables are largely predictable, though not completely.

A futures market for ideas and events struck me as ludicrous. Not only was I skeptical that anyone outside the intelligence services would be participating, I didn’t see how anyone would be willing to bet on such an unpredictable and uncertain outcome. To bet on the likelihood that the Syrian prime minister will be assassinated doesn’t seem macabre to me, but it does sound foolish. When do close the bets? When he dies? At some predetermined point in time? If the terrorists were aware of the bets and that they suggested some course of action, wouldn’t that encourage them to stop planning in that direction and do something that wasn’t being bet on? I think so.

That’s the rub as far as I’m concerned. Betting on future events and then using that information to guide policy and action strikes me as outlandish. “Ooo, futures trading in our invading North Korea is through the roof! They must know something we don’t know. Prepare the B-52s (no, not them, Colonel, the big bombers).” Obviously, that’s a simplification—and a funny one at that—but the real problem is that it seeks knowledge secondhand. They must know something we don’t already know. Instead of focusing on gathering the most useful, accurate intelligence, we look to the market for insight. What’s worse, we don’t really know if we’re right until the event actually takes place and the winner is determined. Only then, the predictive value of the market is zero.

It’s an interesting idea, but I think it should be kept as an idea. (Another aside: Bailey cites several different futures markets offered by TradeSports.com. Crazy stuff!)

Thinking Outside the Sink

July 30, 2003

Kohler’s got a new line of interesting bathroom fixtures called the Purist Suite. The most interesting one to me is the Purist Wet Surface Lavatory, which is a flat surface with a surrounding moat. The sink is thus liberated from the tyranny of the basin. Sure, this will never replace the kitchen sink but it does transform the handwashing experience into something novel and fresh.

One of my favorite things is a fresh approach, a novel take on a mundane activity that enhances the experience aesthetically or practically. You don’t get them very often, but they’re something to treasure when you do. [from Justin Hall]

[UPDATE (7/31/03): I’ve added a list category entitled “Thinking Outside the Box” that will serve to feature just this sort of innovative design and approach. If you’ve got something to include, please include it in the comments or email me.]

Inscrutable Weirdness

July 30, 2003

From BoingBoing comes the Hall of Technical Documentation Weirdness. I love the caption for the first image: “From a Dell computer box. I believe the caption should read ‘If you drop this box on a dog, don’t trip over its tail’.

It reminds me of oh-so-many The Simpsons episodes.

eBay Hilarity

July 30, 2003

A co-worker sent me a link to a feedback page on eBay that is hilarious because it mocks the inane comments typically left after an auction is successfully concluded.

The user audaciously (and sometimes spectacularly) derides the spelling and enthusiasm of the feedback provider in responses—a feature I wasn’t aware existed on eBay. Funny stuff!