Sara-Marie (from Australian Brother one) has proved it's not the bum-dance you should be worried about.... it's her right cross. She apparently decked a drunken moron who was spouting invective at her in a bar, primarily about her looks and figure. Silly bastard is generally considered to have got what was coming to him.

I have been dreaming of this. Commercial Breaks and Beats :: The UK TV Advert Music Database. I am always spotting the music used in ads, trying to figure out who it is - ever since Adidas used the Propellorheads track "Dive" in one of their TVCs. I was sure, no doubt, that it was a song - the other people I was with all thought that the music would have been made for the ad. I was right, but damnit I still haven't managed to buy that album :)

In more recent times, the Levis Twist ad currently screening here in Australia has been bugging me. Now I know - it's definitely Pepe Deluxe.

Any tech-savvy writers out there with a few brain cycles to spare? 100 Words is currently looking for some assistance. Jeff Koyen (who is currently rating very high in my good books for posting me old issues of crank) is stuck paying by the hour for net access, so admin for the site is a bit fraught. Hell, even if (like me) you're currently committed as far as you can go without getting committed, you should check the site out - it's a cool idea.

Seagate are making a fresh play into the consumer hdd market; releasing a line of easy-to-install, low-maintenance hard drives. They do what's been bloody obvious to consumers and apparently arcane for manufacturers..... they put plain-english instructions on the drive itself. If you lose those instructions, pal, you do not need them :) It's good to see Seagate paying some attention to consumer retail. Their drives are good, now the support can be improved. I have an IBM hdd at home; chosen in a close call over the corresponding Seagate. If I get a second drive you know what it'll be now :)

For those of you who don't remember, IBM are moving away from the consumer hdd market.

He tried it once before and got shut down. Undaunted, Nathan Wright moved his auction from eBay to Yahoo! and got a whopping AUD$55 for "his soul".His soul actually comprising of an empty jar; but hey. What I find odd is the fact that this story was headed "Sould for sale on eBay" when actually eBay refused to let the auction proceed once the knew about it. Some people may think that's a small thing, but it's not - it's potentially libellous.

US plan to strike enemy with Valium - yep, pretty much what it sounds like. The disturbing part of this article comes later though - The Pentagon has also asked scientists to evaluate proposals to use genetically modified bugs that 'eat' the enemy's fuel and ammunition supplies without harming humans. Umm, excuse me, what moron would want that developed? Because nobody would ever want to release it to the world, bringing civilisation to a crashing halt as every store of fuel gets eaten in a short space of time..... right? Nobody....

I'll step off my piracy soapbox for today and let someone else take the mic. LawMeme features an article discussing the "analogue fallacy", which Hollywood in particular is fond of trotting out. Basically it's the flawed concept that digital media make piracy "more common" or "more dangerous" or whatever. Which is a load of shit.

Dell is making a valiant attempt to make PC recycling break even, by using prisoners for cheap labour. MS rears its ugly head on this issue as well, with evil licensing strategies making second-hand/recycled PCs even less financially viable (to say nothing of OS bloat outstripping old hardware's capability). But points to Dell for what they're doing. has a short piece on MSIE6 bug with floating divs and spacers. Buggy browsers which don't support web standards continue to curse the lives of web developers the world over. It's not helped by your average user's total ignorance regarding browsers - many people don't realise how big a difference a version makes. Gentle persuasion can help a bit, but mostly users just get pissy if you dare suggest that The Problem is their software. Yes we can design something which works for most people; but if you, hissy person, are using a 'version two' browser, then you do not count as "most people". Hell, upgrades are free and there are detailed instructions out there regarding the installation process. Even if you're not a computer geek you should be able to work it out - you installed MS Office, didn't you chum!

GhostRecon.Net... you'll never guess which game I'm currently addicted to. While poking around for strategy guides, I turned up ... a very nice site, I must say. Good primary information, interesting background information (which is rare); professional templating and simple navigation. I'm impressed!

While I'm on the topic (games, that is) I'll also mention the Rogue Spear walkthroughs on Pie's Tactics, pretty helpful if you're stuck (hey give me a break, I only just got a machine capable of handling these games ;)).

Micro$oft have done themselves proud in the news today... MS releases grand daughter of all IE security patches, fixing up some huge holes in IE5.5/6.0; and not only but also Microsoft Opts-In Hotmail Users, changing the privacy settings in all Hotmail accounts to allow their personal details to be shared. If you use IE or Hotmail, go read up.

Meanwhile, EA Games have announced they will be entering a deal with Sony (PlayStation) in preference to Micro$oft (Xbox); for reasons including MS's bullying tactics and bad user privacy habits. Although foolishly in this article Sony is touted as having won the console war; which implies that people have already forgotten when Nintendo ruled the roost (for instance). The console market is fickle, for want of a better word.

Napster's looking very shaky... Five of its top execs (including the founder and CEO) resigned yesterday. It looks like another ignominious end for another breakthrough company... the IT world has so many stories like this. Next comes the buyout from an evil bastard company, complete with final bastardisation and/or shitcanning of the product.

Hot on the heels of yesterday's post about defeating CD copy protection with a nikko pen; comes this gem from slashdot: Fun with Fingerprint Readers. You may recall a while back that I posted news of a grocery chain installing fingerprint readers; together with the usual hype about them being totally secure. Well, a mathematician (not a security expert) has found two different ways to defeat fingerprint readers reliably about 80% of the time. He uses freely-available materials, in particular gelatin.

Back to the drawing board for security firms. Fingerprint security has been blown out of the water. Of course, I'm sure this one will be kept quiet...

According to the Gartner group, information overload is now official. Well, it was anyway; but people get excited when Gartner say things.

To quote for a second... spot the two words which have no place here: One of the biggest challenges facing an organisation today is filtering the good from the bad information. It's the classic signal/noise equation. We all like to get the right signals--and all hate the noise. But for each and every employee these are highly debatable categories. Gartner found, quite surprisingly, that the most useful information employees receive comes from personal networks, contact with friends and colleagues, and emails--rather than the finely tuned information source that is supposed to be the Intranet. But how do you manage that?

...did you spot them? I'm looking at quite surprisingly. It's not a fucking surprise. Anyone who's worked in a really big organisation knows that big orgs continue to operate successfully despite the systems they have in place. If people weren't social animals, your average big org would collapse.

You know, you don't have to agree with vegetarian/vegan/animal rights activists.... but you've got to admire their lateral thinking abilities. They must have some serious brainstorms... think about it, last time you flicked across channels and saw a basketball game, did you see the players bouncing a ball or a cow? Well, they saw a cow. No More Leather Basketballs for NCAA. According to this article, they've just saved 576 basket balls' worth of cow. I'm not sure how many cows that is, but hey it all helps (literally speaking). What the hell, if a synthetic ball is just as good as a leather ball; why kill animals. I mean hey, at least this fight took their mind off what I chose to eat today. I'm all for limiting pointless use of leather like this; but hey I would also like less pollution (like, say, a synthetic basketball factory produces). I'll settle for people not trying to ram their politics (and tofu) down my throat.

Islay set for hydrogen power - the plan is to power an entire island using hydrogen cell technology. The island is also the first real user of the Wavegen "Limpet" generator, which converts the energy in ocean waves into power. The power from that system will power a hydrolising machine, which produces the hydrogen. I feel this sort of project is critical for the future - it's just a pity it's so unpopular (renewable energy doesn't equal easy money for greedy corporations).

At last the Xbox came out, so naturally Sony has cut PlayStation 2 prices. Hooray! :) I don't agree with this statement though - "If Sony goes to $199, it will show that they're really, really concerned about Microsoft," P.J. McNealy, research director at GardnerG2, said last week. Personally I think it shows a desire to blow Xbox out of the water like the overhyped piece of crap it is. It's not fear of the competitor, it's Sony's way of saying "fuck you, upstart" to Micro$oft :)

Slashdot has further links regarding the brewing console price war, now there are three major players (PS2, Xbox, Gamecube).

Although you could be forgiven for thinking iMacs just haver better musical taste than other computers, actually it's just confirmation that Celine Dion's latest CD kills iMacs. The copy protection fucks up the iMac CD-ROM's firmware, which basically locks the drive and requires the iMac to be taken to a service centre. This was suspected when the CD first came out; but now it's definite. The record companies think this is fine - they don't want you to use your computer to listen to the music you've paid for.

Meanwhile, Aphex Twin gets around piracy by building something really freaky/cool into his CD, which you can only see if you buy the disc :)

Families of 11 dead illegal immigrants to sue US - they're suing because the US hasn't put drinking stations in the desert for illegal immigrants who are trying to cross the border. I would have thought the money for the legal battle could pay for quite a few drinking stations, if they wanted to go put them in themselves... it just seems weird to me that people committing a crime expect the government to help them do it. Yes, it is a humanitarian issue... but I don't see it as grounds for a lawsuit. You cross illegally through the desert? You really are making a decision on which you have to take your chances. Hell, it's not like people don't know the desert is a) there, and b) hot.

Zeldman links to the House of Style CSS Browser Support chart. Where you see an awful lot of red, for "ye got NAE fookin' chance in that pile'o'shite browser, Jimmy!"

Ironically however I found this site's miniscule text had to be cranked up with the browser, before I could read the nav options... hmm. But of course that worked, so they did the right thing overall I guess :)

Zeldman has also reinstated the exit gallery on his site, a pretty intense set of links which are "useful, beautiful, or entertaining". Makes me wish I had broadband, though - so many sites and so little usable time on dialup :-/

If you're wondering who the hell this Zeldman guy is, anyway, here's an interview with Jeffrey Zeldman of A List Apart.

Jakob Nielsen sticks to the classics with this one... Top-10 Guidelines for Homepage Usability (Alertbox May 2002). I pretty much agree with these; although as always Nielsen will always err just a bit too far to the side of pandering to dumb user behaviour. I think anyone who looks for "the little box where I can type" needs to mature a bit and look for "search". Interestingly, the Alertbox site uses a named link for search and not a "little box"; so maybe he does have limits :)

You want broadband with that? McDonalds plans to set up WLAN (wireless network) access in various outlets in Japan; so you can leech while you lunch. The article also mentions that BT (British Telecom, or Bastard Telco to the punters) is planning something similar for the UK. Meanwhile in Australia we're still waiting for DSL/cable to become viable. *sigh*

While various high-profile battles have been raging, the printing industry has been waging war on cartridge refillers. You know, where you pay half as much for a refilled ink/toner cartridge than you would for the name brand/original refill. It's not a surprising activity, considering two or three refills generally cost the same as the printer itself. Imagine if your car cost half its original price to refuel!

Sun are planning to charge for the next version of StarOffice, a move which is tipped to win 10% marketshare off MS Office. It's a pity to see a relatively high-profile open source application going over to retail; but still, now that you have to pay for it managers will be jumping at the chance to save money. The system is so screwed up...

File sharing boosts music sales. "A study released this week by Jupiter Research reports that about 34 percent of veteran file swappers say they are spending more on music than they did before they started downloading files. About 14 percent of heavy file traders say they now spend less on music." I guess the other 52% had no change. I notice that reporters have been quick to mention that this sort of survey can easily be biased.... but they didn't jump on that fact when the record industry funded reports which claimed the exact opposite. Slashdot has more links.

iD software has finally officially announced the release of Doom III. For those of you who don't know, iD created Wolfenstein, Doom and Quake... endless hours of my life, right there ;) Well mostly Quake deathmatch. Loooooved that college network.

This is interesting, albeit scary. A collection of Software Bugs (well, links to info about them) highlights cases where programming/computer bugs have led to catastrophic failures. Top of the list is an unmanned rocket which cost $7billion to develop and cost half a million to hurl in the air. A programming bug hurled it right back to earth.

A recruitment firm has calculated that Star Wars sick days will cost US$300m; that is, $300m worth of lost wages from people bunking off to go see the premier showings. The article does put that in perspective though - four weeks of World Cup Football is estimated to cost the British economy a whopping 3 billion pounds.

Yay for Trenchcoat Day! :)

Trenchcoat Day - The first day of the year you can wear a trenchcoat in Brisbane without melting.

* does the trenchcoat day dance of joy, coat flapping as trenchcoats do *

Andrew Fiber, maintainer of a Jewish folk music mailing list, said that the list has been inundated with messages about widely off-topic subjects, so much so that Fiber wondered if most of his members had suddenly gone "meshuga (a little crazy)." quoted from Klez: Don't Believe 'From' Line. Just wanted to say that Yiddish has really cool words ;) Maybe it says something that Meshuga describes an awful lot of my friends...

Meet the latest celebrity virus (well, worm) - Klez. Wired's article mentions a really nasty feature of this one whereby the From: field uses one of the email addresses it's collected to send it on to the next person. So, the confusion and hassle it causes is that much worse.

This is a major problem for people who barely understand how the system works in the first place; plenty of people assume the From: field is always true. On top of that, mailling lists which automatically subscribe people without sending a confirmation email are signing people up based on this virus's activity. So there you go, the geeks were right on this one. Making things user-friendly needs to be done within limits, for good reason.

It's really good to see that web accessibility is getting some coverage; right now the big news is that Flash MX can be made accessible. To the non-developer this is probably all greek; but what it means is this: old versions of Flash meant that blind users get nothing more than "Embedded object" or some similar description. That's the whole site, if it's flash. Flash MX allows developers to include text alternatives and long descriptions of stuff like animations. So it is possible for them to cater to all users.

The reality is that Flash creators tend to be Designers and not Developers, so they're more of the Y0 WH4SSUP i'M A FL4SH G0D school. They didn't care when their site took 15 minutes to download over a modem, so why are they going to care if a blind user can't use their site?

But still, full marks to Macromedia for only taking six versions of Flash to get there ;-] Ahh, they're on the wagon now. Marks also go to news outlets for recognising that this is News, in fact it's Big News for special-needs users.