8 April 2009

Book: “The Status Civilization”, Robert Sheckley

If you’re a Douglas Adams fan, Robert Sheckley is probably a good bet. He wrote mostly SF with a satirical comedy bent, and was widely acclaimed for it. I’ve found a few of his novels disappointing–“Options“, for example, seems to fall apart part-way through and meander around. “The Status Civilization“, though, is excellent. It does have a few visible seams from its original publication in magazine serial form, but they don’t detract too much from the story. ... Read more

23 March 2009

The financial meltdown and keeping perspective

I’ve seen a few people start saying that we shouldn’t be worrying about the misdeeds of AIG and other bailout recipients, because the problem we face makes their sleaze look trivial. Sure, AIG paid its employees massive bonuses after receiving bailout funds. Yes, the bonuses were even bigger than they admitted, an average of about a million dollars per person, going to the very people who destroyed the company, the folks in Joseph Cassano’s financial products division. ... Read more

16 March 2009

On Twitter

Twitter is an interesting case study in Internet fads. The system itself is utterly trivial–not just in usage, but technically trivial too. Any competent web developer can build a Twitter clone in a weekend, and many have. Yet somehow, it has developed amazing mindshare. A lot of people seem to be using it simply because everyone else is. I got in early, reserved my user name, then let it sit idle. ... Read more

13 March 2009

Kindle and Amazon and the DMCA

Amazon have misused the DMCA to demand takedown of a file called azw-0.1.zip. Since I have both the archive file and a Kindle, and have used both together, I can explain what’s really going on. Hopefully this will clear up some of the misinformation floating around. The code in the disputed zip file is written in Python. It calculates the Mobipocket PID for your Kindle, based on the serial number written on the back. ... Read more

12 March 2009

.. .–. — -..

I thought the old iPod Shuffle clip-on was as ridiculously small as they could take it. Other than prisoners in jail, did anyone actually need the Shuffle to be even smaller? Are there people out there who are happy to learn morse code to control an MP3 player? People who are delighted at the idea of a proprietary headphone connector, so they either have to buy special headphones, or spend $15 on an adaptor that puts the controls right back next to the iPod where they used to be? ... Read more

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