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August 31, 2004


James Doohan, who played Scotty on "Star Trek" (it's possible you knew that already), received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Doohan, unfortunately, is ill with both Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.

In 1996 I was working under Rick Rashid, who is a big Trekkie. We had a group meeting and he invited Doohan (who lives in the area) to attend, because he was "the world's best known engineer" (or something like that). Rashid and Doohan actually sat on stage and performed this fake dialogue about engineering. It was pretty hokey, and at one point Rashid read one of Doohan's lines off the Teleprompter (or maybe it was the other way around)...anyway the audience was shuffling around and looking at the ceiling and you felt sort of embarrassed for all concerned.

But at the end, Doohan put down his script and said, "I just want to say one thing." And he sat up straighter in his chair. And he said, "You know, I served in the Canadian army in World War II, and I was the first one off my boat at Normandy on D-Day, and there are not a lot of people alive who can say that." Everybody perked up instantly. And he talked, unscripted, just for 3 or 4 minutes, maybe, about what he thought was important in life. He wasn't talking any louder than he had been, but you could hear a pin drop in the place.

When he jumped off that boat he was 24 years old, just a few years younger than I was at the time. I remember feeling guilty, because we had been sort of laughing at him before, and we were a bunch of overprivileged geeks who had never had to fight a war, and we didn't really deserve to be in the same room with him. We had probably paid him a fee to show up, and that was wrong, we should be honoring him, not paying him to come up on stage and do his little dog-and-pony show with Rick Rashid. Luckily, he had enough dignity for everyone.

Posted by AdamBa at 10:53 PM | Comments (0)

Microsoft Home

Microsoft for a while has maintained a "model home" in one of the buildings on campus. It's a space inside one of the buildings that is configured to look like a house with various different rooms, complete with furniture, paintings, etc. And of course the whole thing is tricked out with all the computer bling bling you can think of.

The goal is to demonstrate current and future technology in a more natural setting. For example Microsoft sometimes brings in people off the street to test early versions of its products; when testing software that would normally be used in the living room (the thinking goes), it's best to have a fake living room set up. When a reporter from Wired magazine was shown a demo of Microsoft Interactive Television offering back in 1995, it was in the a previous incarnation of the Microsoft Home.

(I worked on that product, and I can testify that the demo in question was nothing more than a Visual Basic hack, which had nothing to do with the product we were building. But show it on a big-screen TV in the Microsoft home, and it looks convincing).

The internal Microsoft website for the MS Home has a virtual tour, which shows a picture of each "room" along with spacy quotes like "Community can be found through content" and "Experiences will bring together all information available on the network" and "Smart Devices connected to other smart devices can create a one touch solution consolidating tasks that might otherwise be a friction point with consumers". If you ever happen to have a job at Microsoft, check it out.

That Wired article (which remains, according to their search, the only one in the magazine that ever used the word "yurt"), contains the following, which remains the most profound thing I have ever read about interactive television, and predicts why it will never catch on:

In fact, Microsoft seems to be over-intellectualizing TV, in the hope that the software giant can break 50 years of viewing habits and change why people watch. "People have a money budget and a time budget," begins Thomas Wong, Microsoft's advanced consumer technology research manager. "And people are willing to pay to save time," he adds. Thus, he says, they will use interactive TV to rent movies; shop for food, clothing, and household items; attend college and self-improvement classes; and get all kinds of information - all without having to leave their couch for time-consuming trips. That, he says, is what people in focus groups and surveys say they'll do.

I don't think so. The reality, it seems after my first two expeditions into interactive TV land, is that people don't care very much about saving time when they turn on the tube. The average American watches between four and five hours every day, according to Nielsen statistics. If they were so pressed for time, where did they get these extra hours in the first place?

Posted by AdamBa at 10:32 PM | Comments (0)

August 30, 2004


Looks like Movable Type decided to save the other entry also. How enchanting.

Well, let me instead see what happens if I insert an image in the text.

I guess it works.

Posted by AdamBa at 11:14 PM | Comments (0)

Journalist Resigns Over Plagiarism

Stephen Dunphy, a Seattle Times business writer, resigned after admitting he plagiarized other writing.

I like Dunphy's writing. It's a shame. It's also a shame that Movable Type decided to crash while it was saving a longer comment I wrote about this. I use to use 2.X and it was rock-solid, but 3.01D seems like an unstable pile of dog doo-doo.

Posted by AdamBa at 11:11 PM | Comments (0)

Journalist Resigns Over Plagiarism

Stephen Dunphy, a Seattle Times business columnist, resigned after admitting he plagiarized other writing.

The original incident happened in January 1997, and just came to light this year. Then I guess some other suspicious columns turned up, and in the end he resigned. I liked Dunphy's writing (most Seattle business journalists come across as rabidly anti-Microsoft). It's a shame, but it shows how seriously the journalism world takes accusations of plagiarism. In the end, I think episodes like this will continue to separate "real" journalism from blogging.

Posted by AdamBa at 11:07 PM | Comments (0)

August 28, 2004

Roads on the Move

Pity the humble road, so important to transportation, yet never getting to go anywhere itself...always the bridesmaid, never the bride.

So let's cheer a couple of exceptions: here's a bridge in Bosnia that got to take a little trip (with an unfortunate ending, however), and here's a nice time-lapse video of a road in Bellevue taking a 64-foot journey (choose one of the "NE 8th Bridge Roll" videos).

Posted by AdamBa at 08:54 PM | Comments (0)

New Spam Record

My old email address,, is hopelessly entrenched in the "please spam me" address lists (if you want to email me, you can still use it -- eventually I'll set up a new address and decommission that one). So I finally set up Spam Assassin to filter email.

I could set it to be automatically deleted, but instead I have it forwarded on with a subject line that starts with "**SPAM*" and then has the Spam Assassin score included. This is so I can keep track of which email scores the highest (Spam Assassin assigns points to spam-y attributes of an email).

About a week ago I got the new champ, weighing in at a hefty 47.80 (5.0 is the default cutoff for being labelled spam). This is the list of miscreancy from the email:

pts rule name description
---- ---------------------- --------------------------------------------------
0.5 X_PRIORITY_HIGH Sent with 'X-Priority' set to high
4.2 MIME_BOUND_DD_DIGITS Spam tool pattern in MIME boundary
2.1 SUBJECT_DRUG_GAP_X Subject contains a gappy version of 'xanax'
0.5 X_MSMAIL_PRIORITY_HIGH Sent with 'X-Msmail-Priority' set to high
2.8 SUBJ_VIAGRA Subject includes "viagra"
0.3 RCVD_NUMERIC_HELO Received: contains a numeric HELO
3.1 MSGID_SPAM_CAPS Spam tool Message-Id: (caps variant)
4.3 GENERIC_VIAGRA BODY: Mentions Generic Viagra
0.0 HTML_MESSAGE BODY: HTML included in message
0.1 HTML_70_80 BODY: Message is 70% to 80% HTML
0.1 MIME_HTML_ONLY BODY: Message only has text/html MIME parts
2.2 HTML_IMAGE_ONLY_02 BODY: HTML: images with 0-200 bytes of words
0.7 MIME_HTML_NO_CHARSET RAW: Message text in HTML without charset
0.2 NORMAL_HTTP_TO_IP URI: Uses a dotted-decimal IP address in URL
3.0 FORGED_RCVD_NET_HELO Host HELO'd using the wrong IP network
0.5 FORGED_YAHOO_RCVD 'From' does not match 'Received' headers
1.2 RCVD_IN_NJABL_PROXY RBL: NJABL: sender is an open proxy [ listed in]
0.1 RCVD_IN_SORBS_MISC RBL: SORBS: sender is open proxy server [ listed in]
2.3 RCVD_IN_XBL RBL: Received via a relay in Spamhaus XBL [ listed in]
1.1 RCVD_IN_DSBL RBL: Received via a relay in []
2.2 RCVD_IN_BL_SPAMCOP_NET RBL: Received via a relay in [Blocked - see ]
0.1 RCVD_IN_RFCI RBL: Sent via a relay in [$ has inaccurate or missing WHOIS data at the] [RIR]
1.2 MISSING_MIMEOLE Message has X-MSMail-Priority, but no X-MimeOLE
3.9 RCVD_DOUBLE_IP_SPAM Bulk email fingerprint (double IP) found
1.1 FORGED_MUA_IMS Forged mail pretending to be from IMS
4.3 FORGED_IMS_HTML IMS can't send HTML message only
1.1 MIME_HTML_ONLY_MULTI Multipart message only has text/html MIME parts
4.3 FORGED_IMS_TAGS IMS mailers can't send HTML in this format
0.1 MISSING_OUTLOOK_NAME Message looks like Outlook, but isn't

An impressive list, but I'm sure someone out there is cooking up an email that can top it.

Posted by AdamBa at 11:54 AM | Comments (0)

Fired for Blogging

A blogger in Nunavut was fired for blogging. I guess when you work for Nunavut Tourism, you are not supposed to write a blog that mentions that it's really cold and the buses don't run on time (even if it is really cold and the buses don't run on time).

The article claims she took her blog down, but if you visit it, the archive links still seem to work. Fascinatin' stuff.

The firing was discussed on Metafilter, and there were also a couple of letters in the Nunatsiaq News.

Posted by AdamBa at 08:05 AM | Comments (0)

August 17, 2004

Why Blog?

Why did I start blogging now? At various times over the past 3 years I have considered blogging as a way to publicize my first book. But I didn't, because I thought blogging was an egotistical fad.

I still think blogging is an egotistical fad, but now I have a new book coming out (it's not out yet, but it is listed on Amazon). So I'm here to hype myself, and if I entertain anyone, so much the better.

Posted by AdamBa at 10:02 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 14, 2004

First Post

OK, we're going to pretend like nothing ever happened.

Posted by AdamBa at 09:57 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack