slashdot bits

Slashdot | The RIAA Hit List - A Pattern Emerges? A quick rundown on the songs being named in RIAA lawsuits. Shows they'll happily sue you for that crappy old Wham song you accidentally downloaded while drunk; just as soon as they'll sue you for downloading their current top-charting darlings. Or more correctly, if you download a combination which triggers their SUE THEM! SUE THEM ALL! bot.

Slashdot | Clammy Modding. Modding your mouse and/or mousepad for cooler usage. Personally I want a keyboard that keeps my fingers *warm*.

Slashdot | Sci-Fi Memorabilia To Ogle And / Or Buy. Some cool, some tragic, some weird; some all three and more.

slashdot bits

Browser Wars II: The Saga Continues :, Commentary & Society. An excellent article for anyone who actually gives two shits about web browser software (and in the readership of this blog, I think nearly all the people who meet that criterion are in the same room as me right now...).

I don't agree with the article's view of Opera though. It paints a very bleak picture; when really Opera has an opportunity right now to sell itself according to the killer features of its user interface... eg. turning off popups, turning off animated gifs, password management (which I would never use but people like), mouse gestures (try them and you'll never go back), skinning (the ultimate in cosmetic-but-critical features for some users), etc.

What has held Opera back? Money and ads. You either have ads; or you pay for the software. Until now; none of the big players have seriously made anyone pay for their browser. Microsoft unsurprisingly breaks that ground here by tying the browser to its next Windows release - that is, you have to cough up to get a new browser. Users don't give a shit about their browser; they certainly won't pay for it when there's a free option. But if they have to pay for something that used to be free; they might try an alternative if it's cheaper and does the job (especially if it does the job better). So; if they need a better browser (which they will one day, when IE6 is as obviously ancient as Netscape 4 is now) then they might look at their computer (hmm, not enough RAM for Longhorn); look at their bank balance; look at the price of Windows and the price of Opera.... It's an opportunity. Not a huge, easy, wonderful opportunity; but it's there.

Gateway Pages Prevent PDF Shock (Alertbox). Jakob Nielsen's followup to his piece on how evil PDFs are on the web. Quick quote summary: Websites use PDF despite its weaknesses because it supports ease of posting, even as it denies ease of use. ... It's actually not very expensive to, say, create a set of Web pages for annual report information as long as the Web design is done while the annual report is being written. The cost comes when companies have a glossy annual report already finished and then say, 'Webbify this.' ... Rather than force it to solve problems that it's much less suited for, let's reserve PDF for what it's good at: printing. It's no disgrace to be the world's greatest solution for a single problem, especially one that's as common and important as printing.

I'm not big on gateway pages; since as a user I know what I'm doing (I am frequently reminded that I am not an "average user" and I should probably explain what the hell I'm talking about). I prefer a less involved and more realistic solution of ensuring links to PDFs are clearly labelled; or preferably the PDFs don't exist in the first place. If you take content to the web, use a web format. PDF is not a web format. Simple.

Meanwhile, in football... Australia thrashed New Zealand in the Rugby League test match; unfortunately the test match thrashed the Broncos. The coaches are having to speak up now trying to defend their players from being ground into almost-inevitable injuries. These guys are human, despite appearances. You push them long and hard enough and they break. Or at least, their knees and ankles do. The Broncos have lost two key players for 4-6 weeks, one player for the season and five others are injured to various degrees; possibly dropping the Broncos out of premiership contention. I can't help wondering if the schedule would be different if a Sydney team was filling all the representative teams; rather than the Broncos. But that's just parochial fandom speaking... right? Sure.

web dev bits

...and to round it out, a damn funny quote from's html/web quotes page:

There?s something you have to understand about the Web standards community. Jeffrey Zeldman and Nick Finck pay attention to Tantek Celik and Dave Shea, and everyone else, and I mean everyone else, pays attention to Jeffrey Zeldman. -CodeBitch

You know those websites with pictures of totally fucked-up ideas and products produced and sold in the past? I reckon octodog is headed STRAIGHT for those websites. I'm not sure exactly why I find this so disturbing, but FUCK! that thing is wrong.

I hardly watched Big Brother since I thought most of them were either arseholes or fuckwits (or both). I cannot believe that the grotty fucktard won; especially up against one of the only nice people. "Charismatic"??? I give up on the Australian public, I really do.

slashdot bits

NYT (reg req) | A 'Funky A.T.M.' Lets You Pay for Purchases Made Online. Fan-freakin-tastic! I figured this would have to be possible :) Since banks have completely missed a market for debit cards (credit card with zero limit - pay as you go), there's an opportunity for solutions like this to become popular.

Ask Slashdot | Color Printing Without the Inkjet Mess?; don't miss the link to Continuous Flow Printers.

Currently slashdotted, but for future reference: Slashdot Games | Celebrating Bad Game Packaging Art.

The Australian | Police target free email. The Australian Feds are trying to remove the anonymity from webmail accounts; even suggesting a 100-point identification check for internet access and the abolition of free email. The article points out that data havens will always spring up anyway; and I seriously doubt the world (especially the US) is going to pay any attention to Australia's police. "Australia? Isn't that in Europe? Oh wait, no you mean the place with all the crocodiles! Do they have internet there? Wow!"

Sluggy Freelance needs readers' help to keep it alive. Make this your good deed for the day :)

Qty  Name                                  SKU           Price Sub Total
1    Save Sluggy Donation                  DON01         $5.50     $5.50

Poprocks & Coke | Pretending to shoot people. Where was I? Oh yes, the [Nintendo] Zapper. No matter what color you had, using it to play Duck Hunt & missing most of the ducks & having your stupid dog laugh at you & trying to shoot your stupid dog in the face & missing the next round of ducks because you were too busy trying to shoot your stupid dog in the face was only fun for so long. Fucking smartarse dog. I never used the Zapper as a separate toy though. Too busy blasting clay pigeons (you didn't have to shoot ducks, remember? :) the clays were more of a challenge).


waferbaby news | 2003.07.12. links to various sites. so far it's found links to some nice art and photoshop brushes (under Resources).

Good for a Monday when an early start fried the few brain cells I have. Marks off for the two pedestrians who tried to look at the underside of my car this morning. Simple process: look first, step onto road second. I saw the first one coming a mile off, but it was just luck that nobody got stamped the second time.

The 19th Floor | Making Accessible Minds. An interesting post from a person with a disability, about the creative release of blogging.

Lately, it's occurred to me that, as in real life, I'm something of a novelty in the blogosphere. For those of you who don't know me or haven't read my blog before, I have a disability called spinal muscular atrophy. It's a neuromuscular disability that I've had since birth. I use a wheelchair to get around and a portable ventilator helps me breathe. As an added bonus, I need a nurse with me 24 hours a day. I have very little use of my arms or legs, but I can type this blog with a headset that emulates a mouse. Straight from my head to the screen, as it were.

On another note, this guy's minimal design makes most of my stuff look screaming gaudy. Damn.

*ahem* Queenslander, old chap.

Blues blown away. Queensland 36 defeated New South Wales 6. Stuff the series, what a match! :) A pity for the blues not to get much applause when they received the shield though... they had won the series. Not that they looked like they felt that way ;)

Australian IT | Coles calls back Delhi call centre. RETAILING giant Coles Myer has brought its credit card operations from a Delhi call centre back to Melbourne amid union claims of a customer backlash. Eeeeexcellent. I hate getting forwarded to international call centres. I don't care what they claim - I've had many operators with accents so thick I couldn't understand a word... and apparently they couldn't understand me either. It doesn't work!

News bits....

Shocks await coma victim - he's been in a coma for 19 years. Meanwhile his wife has had three kids with another guy, but not married him; his wife and family are feuding; and the daughter he knew as a six-week old baby is now a stripper. Welcome back! They'd better explain who Jerry Springer is, he's going to need to know. | Man builds own car for AUD$1400. Actually a Cambodian guy who figured out how to make a neat little two-seater based on a 100cc motorbike engine. More info and a pic: Cambodia Mechanic builds car for BD340(900 US Dollars). Good on him! | Join missile shield, Australia told - AUSTRALIA should join the US global missile shield to provide a protective umbrella for forces increasingly deployed to trouble spots in the Pacific and Asia, a navy report claims.. Because the Maginot Line worked so well for the French. Speaking of: America's Maginot Line. Forward engagement depends on pre-existing forward bases. A military force that has no airfields or ports to accept reinforcements is impotent. Without bases there can be no concentration of military power: weapons cannot be stored, let alone massed for use. The vulnerability of bases is America's singular military weakness in Asia.

Academic's crack habit becomes public. Well, actually the headline is Australia primed to be yanked into US but I feel the need to add my own spice sometimes. Basically the guy makes some sound arguments; but then comes up with a completely fucked conclusion. AUSTRALIA has been urged to seriously consider becoming the 51st state of the US. He caps it by claiming the US has a great tertiary education system, a desirable economy and above all else... Australia could field teams in American sports leagues. Guards, seize him. Although he's right about the weak sense of nationhood; some other arguments are unbelievably weak. For example does it really matter where the PM lives? Would everyone in the US freak if the President spent all his time at his ranch? At any rate; this smacks of being an academic phoning it in to justify their tenure. It's easy to slap together a few inflammatory statements and pretend it's a groundbreaking statement. Actually this guy has borrowed exact wording* from various other people and created a wild but stupid topic for a conference.
* eg. "flag of our own" was a key phrase in a campaign/song for a new Australian flag. I'm pretty sure I've heard "sold the farm" in a few Telstra-related debates too.

netscape dead, really this time

Zeldman | "People, it's over:" AOL kills Netscape. Mozillazine reports that AOL 'has cut or will cut the remaining team working on Mozilla in a mass firing and are dismantling what was left of Netscape (they've even pulled the logos off the buildings).' ...small consolation is that Mozilla lives on; although I'm hardly turning cartwheels about that. Mozilla's user base is *small* and mostly confined to geeks. It'll take a miracle for your average user to switch to Mozilla.

UPDATE: An article on Cnet has an AOL representative claiming that Netscape has not been axed outright by AOL - 'Netscape remains a key part of our multibrand strategy,' AOL spokesman Andrew Weinstein said. 'We will continue to support the browser and the portal.'. Who do you believe? The spokesdroid or the laid-off staff?

reel grate spellering

This is your career on netspeak. Which leads to the next point.

Public service announcement: there is no "a" in definitely. It is not spelled "definately". If you don't believe me, look it up. I've seen this exact error three times today alone, in various places across the net. Yeesh!

While I'm at it, if you can't find something; you did not "loose" it (unless you can't find it because you defenestrated* the damn thing). The word you are looking for is "lose". Similarly, if you try to insult someone by calling them a "looser", well, you should be looking up "irony".

* I just like the word, ok :)

Alertbox | PDF: Unfit for Human Consumption. Occasionally I agree 100% with Jakob Nielsen... this is one of those times. PDF sucks for anything other than print. It's frequently used on the web when HTML should be used and in many cases, it's pure laziness - ahh I can't be arsed converting that, let's just whack a PDF up on the site. Users only open PDFs when they have to. If nothing else; people should pay attention to the fact that users hate PDF. Whatever other benefits there are, you'd think people could at least understand that, right?

My pirate name is Black Harry Flint: Like anyone confronted with the harshness of robbery on the high seas, you can be pessimistic at times. Like the rock flint, you're hard and sharp. But, also like flint, you're easily chipped, and sparky. Arr!. ARR! Test by

Wired | The Antigravity Underground - The fantastic floating device called a lifter has no moving parts, no onboard fuel, and no shortage of wide-eyed admirers. Even inside NASA. Pretty cool stuff; although it certainly doesn't sound like "anti-gravity". But it is still a form of propulsion, which seems worth investigating.

slashdot bits

  • BBC | Hi-tech babble baffles many. Not really news. This article suggests trying to "dumb down" computing terms. But really... the "babble" often can't be simplified. MP3, for instance, is ALREADY simplified from MPEG layer three audio compression format. With tech stuff, if the sales assistant can't tell you; leave the shop and go somewhere that hires people who can do their job (hint: Harvey Norman does NOT fit this category). At the end of the day, this is not a technology problem - it's a marketing problem. The point of marketing is to inform prospective buyers about your product and why their lives are shit without it and will become perfect if they buy it (you may wish to mentally rephrase that into something less cynical). You don't do that by saying "this mp3 player has 128 megs of smart memory storage and can digitise media at a sample rate of 44,000....."... you say "this digital walkman holds up to two hours worth of music".
  • Slashdot | Thailand Imposes Gamers Curfew. Thailand has a high rate of online gaming addiction; hence this strategy to limit the amount of time the games are available. Pity Australia won't do the same with Casinos.
  • CNN | Surprising findings about video game players. 1) Everyone plays games, not just male geeks. 2) Playing games does not ruin your academic career. 3) Playing games can be very social.
  • Slashdot | Harry Potter in German, not Czech. In short: fans can translate and release the latest Harry Potter book months ahead of official releases. Instead of getting their act together, the publishers are suing school kids. I cannot fathom waiting until next year to release the Czech translation - in what business plan is that a good idea?

more news bits

Newkie Brown flavoured ice cream! Seriously, caramel and beer-flavoured ice cream. You can now walk the dog* for dessert!

* It's a Newcastle Brown Ale thing.

Just shoot me, says Beattie of photo row. Pretty much my reaction too, actually. I'd rather they used real photos in training than have officers accidentally shoot hostages because their training didn't prepare them for reality. I haven't seen many cardboard cutouts walking the streets, have you? Fair enough that the photos shouldn't be used without permission; and there are specific cultural issues regarding images of Aboriginal people which should have been respected. But was it an intentionally racist incident? Not from the information I've seen. Aboriginal people are part of the community. They could be a victim of terrorism just as easily as the next person. How deeply this incident effects relations is up to both sides of the argument. Apologies have already been made - but it seems they won't be accepted. Aboriginal Legal Service chief executive Noel Blair [said] 'It just takes one incident like this to almost destroy everything people have worked towards.' ...only if you let it. You can choose to accept the apology and move on. I can't help thinking there are more important issues that need this kind of energy. | Matrix devotee 'plotted to kill' (From correspondents in Oaklyn, New Jersey). Question: What did America learn from the Columbine massacre? Answer: Fuck all. The focus of this story is the kid's habit of dressing in black and his immersion in Matrix fandom. The real story is he was teased all his life and was arrested after taking his father's guns and attempting a carjacking. It's fucking irrelevant what he was wearing or what movies he liked... if he hadn't been marginalised by his peers he wouldn't have been so angry. If his father hadn't had a variety of firearms available in the house he couldn't have got tooled up. If anyone had spotted how disturbed he was he could have been given therapy. But no, let's talk about his wardrobe. Fuckwits.

stuff from sunday's paper

  • Doped-up rats in the ranks - RATS high on drugs have been running wild in the ceiling of a police station after munching on speed and pot exhibits. Caboolture rats are happy rats!
  • Why we get old school buses - Queensland bus operators don't buy new buses, they buy the ones other states are done with. On top of that, the council buses in my area are listed as the worst in Brisbane. So, while I was fucking freezing on the bus last Friday it could have been worse. The bloody thing could have caught fire. On top of this; the service is unreliable and expensive. They wonder why people avoid it...
  • PC speech? No bloody way, say angry Aussies.

dilbert - 2003.07.04. again with the close-circuit camera. it's not really phones ringing per se; it's wacky ringtones on phones people leave sitting around... unanswered. here's a tip: mobile phones ARE MOBILE. take the fucking thing with you when you leave your desk. THAT'S THE POINT.

slashdot bits

Spam-bot tests flunk the blind. Most anti-spam signup traps are based on visual recognition by a human. That's no good to a blind person. The problem is finding an alternative; then getting people to use it. Generally a blind person has to successfully sue somebody before anyone takes any action.

slashdot bits

  • Slashdot | Netscape Founder Says Web Browsing Innovation Dead. There's a fucking news flash for you. On the other hand, Opera has been keeping up with the times.
  • Slashdot | eBay Provides No Privacy For Sellers. To put it another way: eBay brags about being heaven for social engineering hack attacks.
  • Gates on Linux. To paraphrase: Pfft! As if a big company like us needs to worry about a bunch of geeks! Remember OS/2? No? Perhaps Billy has blocked out the days when MS was a tiny startup with a few geeks who had dropped out of college. To quote the man himself: We were pretty young. We started when I was 19 and so we just had a lot of - a lot of energy. (from Triump of the Nerds). So, Linux eh... just a bunch of committed geeks. Nothing to worry about there. *shrug* with the kind of money MS has in its war chest, it probably can just ride it out. Linux will be like the Mac - just a very small part of the market. A surprisingly vocal part of the market, but a small part.

It worries me how often Dilbert appears to be based off closed-circuit vision of my team's office. Now User Friendly is getting in on the act.... UF 2003.07.01. I had pretty much this exact scenario yesterday. HERETIC SMASH!

This is fucking priceless... livejournal group - "debate" | People aren't worth the same. a little background: you may have heard of the case where a nurse's assistant hit a homeless man while she was driving drunk and on drugs; then she let him die in her garage. she got a 50 year jail sentence (eligible for parole after 25 years). the girl who started the debate thread thinks the sentence was too harsh, because the man was homeless. you can read it one of two ways: a) she's an idiot troll seeking attention, or b) she's an idiot who really believes it. either way, her pathetic attempts at wit and riposte are... well, hilarious.

As an aside, you might not find any of it funny. It depends on whether you've ever enjoyed watching people bait a poorly informed but tireless opponent.

Musicians Petition Against the RIAA, asking them to stop suing fans for copying music. The petition seeks signatures of musicians, to show the industry they don't think attacking fans is a good idea. Instead they want the focus to remain on organisations who are making money from piracy.

In response to the continuing legal attacks by the RIAA and major record labels on internet music sharing, which now include both criminal charges and civil suits against individuals, musicians are joining together to say NO to the action supposedly being taken on our behalf.

Just because the major labels haven't figured out a way to make money out of the internet doesn't mean that individuals who have shared music should go to prison, or be forced into bankruptcy. The industry is alienating the very people it hopes to sell music to in future with its heavy handed action.

If ever there was proof that the industry has alienated everyone else, here it is... even the artists are desperate to prove that the RIAA has it wrong. They have to resort to a petition - the kind of grass roots protest left to those without power, trying to influence those who do. They don't endorse piracy, but they sure as hell don't want to piss off the very people they need to buy albums and come to gigs. Musos have to make a living, that's how they do it.