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Throwing My Vote Away: Got back from the retreat in time to go and vote for Clark. Sorry for the downtime. I'm qualitatively better at pool than I was before the retreat (I've discovered how to hit one ball at an angle using the other ball). Inadvertent but fun pool variant coming tomorrow. Etc. Etc.

[Comments] (3) Cue Ball Wild Pool: As promised. This is a pool variant that you play when your pool table has two cue balls but no eight ball (as did the pool table at the retreat). It's just like regular pool, except you can make a shot using either of the two cue balls. This is faster and more fun than regular pool.

Niggly sub-rules: when you choose a cue ball, the other cue ball is the eight ball for the duration of that shot (so if you sink one cue ball using the other, you lose unless it's the endgame and you were trying to sink the eight ball). If the other player sinks the cue ball they used, you have to put it somewhere appropriate on the table as in regular pool, but you don't have to use it on your next shot.

Rules for the horrible pool variants Andy and I used to play (with rules for cue ball bowling, bonuses for making a ball jump off the table and hit the potted fern, etc.) not forthcoming.

[Comments] (2) Official Crummy.com Licensed Joke Product:

Q: What pet does a vampire keep?
A: A coffinfish!

I can't believe Big Book Of Jokes For Kids didn't accept that joke.

: Made tasty butternut squash soup tonight. I forgot to get ingredients for my crazy squash soup idea! That idea being to bread and fry sliced zucchini, and to float it on the soup as a garnish. Now no one will ever know how that would taste! Until the next time I get a chance to try it.

I used to hate squash and zucchini. I still hate bell peppers, but I might not in a year.

Tomorrow: I plan to make the ice cream of madness. Turn back!

Can't Stop Stupid Map Tricks: Here's a map of all the countries whose country codes are the same as a US state code, and vice versa.


SORRY: this message is created by robot!

Well! That's okay then!

What Would Be Nice: XML-RPC Edition: It Would Be Nice If All Consuming had an XML-RPC interface for entering which books you've read. That way it wouldn't take me 3 minutes to indicate that I've read one book and I would actually start using it.

On the other end of the What Would Be Nice supply chain, It Would Be Nice If Freshmeat's XML-RPC interface could be used to grab the newly added/updated projects listed on Freshmeat instead of only being usable for submitting new versions of projects. This would make my Software Roundup rounds a lot easier.

[Comments] (1) You Can Make Me Use A Password But You Can't Make Me Like It: I love The Container Store, because it is what it says and I love containers. But what I don't love is differences. Also, I have no love for the password notebook they had in the impulse-buy aisle, a convenient place for you to record your usernames and passwords for websites so that everyone else can log in as you. I think the notebook had a Sherlock Holmes head embossed on it. ("One thing puzzles me, Holmes; how were you able to impersonate the Duke on eBay?" "Inspector, my methods are well-known. It was a simple matter to look up his password in the notebook containing all his passwords.")

Maybe you can secure the notebook by hiding it in a book safe, except the title of the book is "Book Safes And How To Make Them".

Best Dressed: stack's roommate did a documentary on the Weather Underground that was nominated for an Oscar but did not win. stack went to the Oscars and was duly saluted by the papparazzi. Kevin sez, "Don't you hate it when Sandra Bullock gets in your shot?" This is an ongoing problem for stack.

PS: stack's day job project is out.

[Comments] (6) Dog Shows: What's the point of dog shows? It seems like a worship of the Platonic form, made ridiculous by the fact that the Platonic forms were artificially created by selective breeding. It's not like people are still coming up with new avant-garde breeds of dog.

I can understand county fairs where people show off their enormous pumpkins, because at least you can eat pumpkins.

Yes I Will Complete Your Assignment For You Search Requests: What was the Marbury v. Madison case all about? Use internet if you want.

: One of the advantages of having a digital camera that fits in your pocket is that you can take a picture whenever your arms are not paralyzed. I kind of had this when I had the Hiptop (That reminds me: I got rid of the Hiptop because it never worked for me. I now use a cheap old reliable cell phone with no features beyond Tele-TalkTM), but my time trials indicate that it takes about ten seconds for me to take my camera out of my pocket, turn it on, take a picture, turn the camera off, and put it back into my pocket. I don't think I could have taken a picture with the Hiptop in 10 seconds. Plus you can actually see details in the camera pictures.

All that was seemingly a big lead-up to the fact that I've had to start putting up "misc" directories to contain pictures that don't correspond to a "big event, better take the camera" thing. Here they are for February and March. These sets include hilarious moments like At least they didn't park in the handicapped space.

Bonus for Joe: this Ad campaign for New Zealand found near the Apple store which opens up new fields in tautological advertising. "Don't even come," it says. "We won't let you in."

Bonus bonus for everone: for some reason they're ripping up all the greenery around the building where I work. I assume they know what they're doing. Anyway, I call this picture set The Scouring of the Shire, and it should satisfy those of you who were hoping Return of the King would be even longer.

: Sumana's story of her visit to a call center in Bangalore is up on Salon. Forget The New Pentagon Papers, this is the real stuff! Sumana doesn't like the Magic Marker-ish drawing that adorns the story, but I do. I should write my sci-fi story about outsourcing, along with all the other sci-fi stories I'll never actually write.

[Comments] (1) Dream Incompetence Hilarity #2: (Here's #1)

"Well, if I'm driving to New York I should be able to stop by Massachussets and see Jake. Right? Well, let me check the map. Hm, I don't... seem... to be able to read... a map."

(The map wasn't even right.)

[Comments] (2) : Sumana got me a copy of Twisty Little Passages, a book I've had my eye on for a little bit. I will probably start reading it tonight since I'm too burned out to do anything else (more productive things I could be doing: making Nutellamisu as I'd planned, making any kind of food at all, continuing to unpack/organize all my junk, putting up pictures from the CollabNet retreat, working on NewsBruiser, writing a story, writing something down for the panel--wait, I have to write an entry about that). OK, other entry coming up.

[Leonard-Trips]: So, as I apparently just remembered, I volunteered to be on a panel for a Serious Seminar on Digital Democracy Friday afternoon at UC Berkeley. You're welcome to attend, but I'll probably just be mumbling something foolish and then staring into space. One of my theses is that online campaigning qualitatively changes the dynamics of fundraising, but it does that by making fundraising look more like grassroots organization. We can only make a quantitative change to the effectiveness of actual grassroots organization, because an end-to-end network is a one-trick pony. All it does is make things more like grassroots organization.

I think staring into space is probably my best option here.

[Comments] (1) My Day Came Pre-Made: Last night Sumana informed me that the smarmy Andorian captain on Enterprise is played by Jeffery Combs, the same actor who played the smarmy Vorta flunky Weyoun on Deep Space Nine and about a jillion other smarmy alien Star Trek roles. Typecasting was never so delicious!

If there were a Weyoun action figure I would buy two, just so I could have one of them face the other, and say "Oh. An action figure of me. How banal." Also, if one of the action figures were to break I could replace it with the other with no problem.

Report From Staringintospacecon 2004: I didn't embarrass myself, but I didn't talk a whole lot either. It was a little depressing because I felt outclassed by people who were better than I at public speaking.

Note to self: put more business cards in your wallet. You lost all previous business cards when you put your wallet in the washer. That's just the way it works.

PS: Here's Seth's email advice, which is better than the use I got out of it:

Maybe you should prepare a short list of (as the PR people say) talking points -- or an outline -- that you can use if an appropriate time comes for you to make remarks. ... how you got involved, what technology people at the Clark campaign worked on, the campaign's attitude toward technology, etc.

People at seminars also hate generalities and love gossip. Being concrete (I should say being specific) is very desirable for attracting audience interest. I have a hard time with that sometimes. For example, when talking about trusted computing, I tend to assume that people think that things like "reverse engineering" and "interoperability" are good, and then talk about how reverse engineering may interfere with those abstract classes of activity. But for many audiences, it would probably be more helpful to say "suppose you had some spyware on a Windows machine, and you wanted to understand exactly what kind of personal information it was transmitting...".

Despite much gossip likely being off-topic for your panel, the inside of a presidential campaign is a place most people never get to see at all (like the inside of a nuclear power plant, or the inside of the Library of Congress, or something), and I'm sure many people in your audience would be hungry for general narrative about what it is like to help somebody run for president.

Another thing I think people can appreciate -- especially people who have been subjected to endless amounts of marketing here in the Bay Area during and even after the technology boom -- is a frank discussion of limitations. (It's refreshing to read Peter Neumann's RISKS stuff, for example, as an antidote to boundless optimism about particular technologies.) I suspect this kind of honesty can go very far just on the strength of the contrast with the way professional marketers talk about things. It conveys an honorable sense of "I am an engineer and I'm going to talk to you about what's really possible and what isn't".

[Comments] (3) Future Fad #2: My prediction of vegan vegan food has not yet come to fruition (or vegetablition), but I'm preparing to prime the pump. My cruelty-free imitation veal will take the world by storm with its tender baby-soybean flavor. I call it "Seal". It can't fail!

: DUN-dun!

Sumana loves this, as you might expect. Almost as good is the fact that the automatic ad at the bottom of the page tells you to make out your will. Because next week, Law and Order is all new, ripped from the headlines--and YOU'RE the body!

: Saw Secret Window with my mother today. She said people are comparing it to Hitchcock movies, so I will join the club. There was a Hitchcock movie fitting the title schema "X Window". Secret Window was a rehash of The Dark Half, which had a lot of birds in it, reminiscent of The Birds. The end.

Enough levity! The movie was okay but not great. I wish there were some way to edit these movies down to 45 minutes. The movie's saving grace was John Turturro in a role where he looks like Dennis Kucinich's evil twin.

Fun trailer fact: science has run amuck! We never should have put I, Robot and The Caves of Steel into the supercollider just to see what would happen. A Will Smith movie was produced that scientists estimate might have a half-life of up to 50,000 years. Is this the kind of world we want for our children?

Hurry, Before Zagat Gets To It: There's a Vietnamese restaurant near my house, on the 1100 block of Ocean. By weekday it is an ordinary Vietnamese restaurant, but on weekends it turns into its alter ego, Sexy John's Pasta! It's an all-singing, all-dancing, all-organic bistro in an authentic Vietnamese restaurant atmosphere. The Ceasar salad, garlic bread, and made-from-scratch pasta are all great and very cheap. The aforementioned Sexy John is a student at the nearby city college; maybe he'll open a full-time restaurant if his food catches on. Give it a try if you're in the area. It's great to have a good Italian restaurant within walking distance of my house.

Dessert: They were out of tiramisu, but they comped us some panna cotta because apparently they're still trying to figure out how to make panna cotta. I thought it was good because I'd never had panna cotta before, but Sumana said the texture was weird.

PS: please do not do a Google search for "Sexy John's" until this restaurant becomes very popular.

Virtue Is Its Own Reward #3: Sumana got spam that said "Hang Saddam and Save 50%!"

(#1, #2). Why do I keep doing this? Because I keep changing the titles of my mini-features, that's why.

[Comments] (2) What about the Eagles?: If you thought The Big Lebowski was a thing not subject to SCA-ish appropriation by dressing-up fanboys then Big Lebowski night in North Little Rock should have shattered that notion. (Adam-Dude #2, where are those pictures?) But no! You chose to believe, despite all evidence, that the Coen masterwork could only be appreciated by those too cool or too stoned to make fools of themselves by dressing up like characters from the movie.

If your childish preconceptions were not so laughable, perhaps you could be an object of pity. For behold! Lebowski Fest is coming to YOUR TOWN (if you are Brendan), and its Star Trek convention-esque geekiness scatters to the wind like ashes from a Folger's can any aspirations you may have had for having your master's thesis The Dude Abides: Lebowski as a Mithras/Christ Figure in Modern Mythology taken seriously. You should have picked on Barton Fink instead. Nobody dresses up like Chet the bellboy. Well, if you do, I don't want to hear about it.

[Comments] (2) New Theory of the Manahmanah: I think Brendan and I thought of this on the way to California. Here are previous theories, all of which pale in comparison to the shiny new theory.

The new theory is that the hippie Muppet is trying to communicate with the Snowths, but the only thing he can get across in their language is the phrase "Manahmanah", a context-free friendly expression that translates roughly to "Hey hey!" So the lyrics of the song, translated, go something like this:

Hey hey! (It's good to see you)
Hey hey! (I said it's good)
Hey hey! (It's good to see you, to see you, to see you, it really is a good thing that you came)

Then the hippie Muppet whips out his Advanced Snowth and starts talking about how lovely the Snowth country is, and asking where are the most beautiful landscapes, and they can't understand a word he's saying.

I Am Not An Ideogram! I Am A Free Man!: Another gem from Steve's Chinese Word Of The Day: "Prisoner". If I ever need to write "Concave prisoner", I'm all set.

There must be little cartoons where the lines of ideograms frolic and interact in vocabulary-building ways.

: Inspired by clasic Trek, I used to make up jobs for my Lego spacemen based on the color of their spacesuits. The blue suit guys were the pilots, which I suppose makes sense in retrospect. I don't remember what the other jobs were. Maybe the red suits were the navigators, and the yellow suits made the coffee, and the black suits were space ninjas. I don't know. I never managed to acquire any white-suit Lego spacemen, so I guess those were the guys who stayed in the pressurized dome on the moon and did paperwork.

Anyway, it turns out aircraft carriers have the same kind of colorful division of labor. Lots of (official Navy) pictures on that site, including one of Daniel Green, who out-Ts Mr. T.

Sure, Make The Robot Do It: In Shabot 6000, robots take the drudgery of religious doubt and angst off humanity's shoulders. Well done, with only one Futurama-overlapping joke so far.

DID NOT HAVE KNOWLEDGE OR A CERTIFICATE: Noisy graffiti from Iraq, including the sociopolitical version of Hofstadter's Law.

[Comments] (2) Recycled Joke Time: Pretty cool that someone managed to write a Javascript chess game in 5k. But it's not so great--I can beat it three times out of four.

Tip your waitresses!

Bort, Retry, Fail?: Not content with killing off Be's senior management, Mike Popovic ex-co-worker Dave Bort has taken to drawing an online comic. On a good day it's funnier than Tom The Dancing Bug.

Named Incubus #2: "The Alamo"

Willfully obscure entry. Oh, all right, here.

Metadessert Madness: If only those Girl Scouts knew to what fiendish uses I plan to put their cookies. My Dissociated Press recipe algorithm has seized upon new data and is coming up with ideas:

The first two are the only ones I can think of ways to make appetizing (crushed Samoas + banana wrapped in phyllo dough and fried, Tagalongs + coconut cream + canteloupe or avocado + etc., some sort of halo halo thing; needs work).

Anyway. Today I made ice cream of madness (coconut-banana-lime, not the ice cream of madness I'd originally intended to make), as well as two other dishes I'd never made before (fondue and bread pudding). Remind me to tell you about it when I'm not asleep.

[Comments] (3) The First Monkey, Or, Lack Of Practice Makes Perfect: Recently I discovered that I'm a lot better at playing the guitar than I was when I left to work on the campaign. In the intervening time I didn't practice at all. How did this happen? Was what I was doing homomorphic to playing guitar? Did I gain generally enhanced reflexes? It's a little scary, like discovering that you're slowly turning into Spider-Man.

: Went to the zoo on Saturday with Sumana and Zack. It turns out that Garrett went to a different zoo on Saturday, so just go look at his pictures. They're better than mine.

The Asian elephant is very sad because her friend had tuberculosis and was euthanized. We did see the African elephants who were happier, partly because they'd just had bales of hay stuck tucked between their tusks so that they would walk around and eat from a sort of beer hat of hay. I think when they complete the "African Savannah" habitat they should put the Elephas in with the Loxodonta and verisimillitude be damned.

The lake in the "South American Rainforest" habitat had been drained for no reason I could see, so there were no vegetarian piranha and the sole caiman was crammed into an isolation chamber along with the giant python. No turtles either, but elsewhere in the zoo they had Madagascar spider tortoises walking around on the grass, the tiniest chelonians you've ever seen.

Also, I recently found out that Zack makes candles, so I brought and gave him my now-ruined "Powerful Elvis Prayer" devotional candle for him to recycle. It's nice to be rid of it in a way that makes me feel like someone will appreciate it.

[Comments] (2) When Food Fads Collide: Sumana pointed me to The Everyday Low Carb Slow Cooker Cookbook. Coming soon: my Vegan Raw Food Low Carb Low Fat Organic Whole Wheat Juicer Cookbook. Subtitle: "Just stop eating."

[Comments] (4) An Atom of Sense: Getting back to NewsBruiser development. I made a bunch of comment-related fixes and I just finished adding Atom syndication support. If people are going to make my life difficult by making up new syndication formats, I might as well play along. Still need to fix the longstanding timezone problem with the timestamps: I'll do that tomorrow and then cut a release.

New comment features: you can automatically shut down comments on old entries, and you can turn on comments for specific entries instead of for the whole site.

Joe says that there was a glowing review of NewsBruiser in the UK magazine Linux Format. Since they don't do aspiring weblog software authors the favor of putting their glowing reviews online, Joe is sending me the magazine and I'm gonna type it up. And as long as we're discussing Linux magazines with weird names, how about India's Linux For You?

: I forgot to thank Feed Validator, the pedantic friend of Atom and RSS developers, for its help on NewsBruiser last night.

(From Impeach Central): Quasi-spam:

Read the Books that Will Impeach Bush & Sign the Petition

Them are talented books!

Steal This Idea: A solution in search of a problem, the OveractiveWeb's answer to the LazyWeb. I thought of a way to make this useful, but Spamgourmet does the same thing in a more intuitive way, so that's out the window. The only thing this idea has on Spamgourmet is that Spamgourmet keeps your real address on file and this putative service wouldn't. So what is it good for? Absolutely nothing?

Idea follows. Compute a one-way hash of your email address. For instance, "8zhkqqkZ.A9tg" is a crypted version of "leonardr@segfault.org". "b83aaa5e5c8129987c8c54f2974e84d3" is the MD5 sum of "leonardr@segfault.org". You get the picture. Then give out "b83aaa5e5c8129987c8c54f2974e84d3-whatever@mysecretemail.com" to someone from whom you want to hide your true email address. When you want to see if they sent you mail, go to mysecretemail.com and say "Hey, I'm leonardr@segfault.org". mysecretemail.com thinks "Oh, that's good old b83aaa5e5c8129987c8c54f2974e84d3.*@mysecretemail.com," and forwards you all the accumulated mail.

It's cool and secret-agent-ish, but like I said I can't think of a real use for it. Also you could break it if you had a way of generating a specific hash collision, which you kind of do.

PS: more useful, less cool variant: leonardr-at-segfault.org-whatever@mymyriademails.com. This lets you get get infinitely many forwarding accounts for one email address.


One day, robot asked the head monk how to find kitten.

"The kitten that can be found is not the true kitten," said the head monk.

"Then why do we search for kitten?" asked robot.

"Why did you drop kitten?" asked the head monk.

At that moment, robot found kitten.

[Comments] (3) The Rothe Hits!: New NewsBruiser release. It's Atom-licious! And Sumana-compliant!

Speaking of Chelonians: Check out the Subversion book. Also, True History of the O'Reilly Animals.

[Comments] (2) Freshmeat Mysteries: Freshmeat's page for NewsBruiser says it has a rating of 8.37 out of ten. With one vote. How is that possible? I can only rate a project with an integer. Is the 8.37 a grandfathered score from some older rating system in which NewsBruiser had multiple votes?

Update: Your Earth FAQ has the answer.

Coming soon, if you're interested: easily-derivable-from-first-principles secrets of how to get the most bang for your Freshmeat announcement buck.

Ramble And Bonus Link: 2 years since I got braces. Going to orthodontist today for what will hopefully be my penultimate visit (They were supposed to be on for 2 years, but I missed an appointment working for the campaign). For a while I had a compulsive Python script on my home page that displayed what percentage of the time had elapsed between then and now.

Anyway. check out this free stock photo site. What's the catch? Well, this page conveniently lists the main catches, but photographers may reserve the right to attach additional catches to their photos. Not too onerous.

Now, It's Garbage!:

"...in the musique-room the boy that was to sing a song, not singing it right, his master fell about his ears and beat him so, that it put the whole house in an uprore."

Just another way in which my life is less exciting than Pepys': fewer random onstage beatings.

Trapped By Weblog, Need Help: Sumana just IMed me saying she'd finally caved in and read the "We're under zombie attack" weblog, which made me realize that it's sort of the real life equivalent of a zombie. I try to resist its undead power, but everywhere I turn I see it coming towards me, closing in! Help!

They Held It Without Me?: PyCon 2004 is in full swing, and Ted Leung is there, covering the events as well as the pre-event sprints.

This year's crop of papers includes some of the standoffishness I think makes for good paper titles, like "Scripting Language" My Arse and Twelve Thousand Test Cases and Counting. (Wasn't that a Johnny Cash song?)

Bug in Gnumeric: I keep clicking this button. Where's my money?

[Comments] (1) Stupid Google Tricks: "hapter ne"

Helpful Python Tip: The parser in the htmllib library is useless for actually parsing HTML. Use the one in sgmllib instead. I learned this once when writing the Eater of Meaning and I'm learning it again with this new project I'm working on. Hopefully I'll have something to show you tonight.

That's A New One!: Hey! Sumana sent me a 'shout-out' on this week's Namaste America Gold, the semi-interactive Bollywood fan show/source for imported news from India. Excitement! Obaid Kalwani, the shouter-out, pronounced her name wrong and mine correctly. Go figure.

Until this week, all the 'shout-outs' were to and from people in the East Bay. leading me to do high-larious impressions of Obaid Kalwani reciting shout-out locations: "A shout-out from Walnut Creek... here's one from Hayward... shout-out from Concord... this is a Fremont train. Doors are closing." This week they had shout-outs from Los Angeles and East Brunswick, putting the lie to our hypothesis that they recorded a different shout-out segment for each media market.

[Comments] (5) : Can someone point me to an HTML parser that turns an HTML document into a nested data structure like what I sketched out below? I'm sick of having to jump through hoops to collect the text of a link. I know there's something similar for XML because I heard about it at EuroPython. Stop me before I write my own! Must work or be makable to work in Python 1.5.2. Offer not valid in "Mirror, Mirror" universe.

Sorry, no spectacular thing to show you today. I've got only one of the three things working that I wanted to have, and (sad to say) it's not the one that hits people in the gut and makes them think This Is Important, insofar as any of them do that.

This is an HTML document.


["This is an", [TAG name='a' attrs={href: 'http://www.w3.org/MarkUp/', title: "Brought to you by HTMLCorp"} child=[TAG name='b' child=["HTML"]], "document"], "."]

Update, much later: I wrote Beautiful Soup because I wasn't happy with any existing parser.

: Godzilla is set to be retired (again) with a Kill All Monsters!-esque monster monster rally of a movie called "Godzilla: Final Wars". When will they learn? You can deprive the Godzilla franchise of oxygen, but that won't kill it.

Spooky Spam: your name is wrong

: I just realized that it's only a matter of time before Freenet's Ian Clarke is knighted and becomes Sir Ian Clarke. Because really, how long can you go with a name like "Ian Clarke" before the Queen taps you on the shoulder?

We Are A Model Of The World: I got very excited when I read:

But the Japanese always think big, even in miniature. That's why they built the entire world to precise scale at this odd site about two hours by train from Tokyo.

Sadly, that is hyperbole. The entire world is not represented to scale at Tobu World Square. It just has a bunch of scale models of famous buildings. They're nice models, though! Check out the pictures. They even have Tom, the famous 150-foot tall beefeater.

I look forward to the exciting future, where terraformed planetoids recreate Earth at scale. But I had this mental image of the portion of the model world in Tobu World Square that contained a tiny model of the model of the world in Tobu World Square, ad infinitum, and you can't get that on no planetoid.

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