27 December 2011

First use of "pirates" in the "copyright" sense - 1703

"As to Answers, Banters, True-English Billinsgate, I expect them till no body will buy, and then the Shop will be shut. Had I wrote it for the Gain of the Press, I should have been concern’d at its being Printed again and again, by Pyrates, as they call them, and Paragraph-Men: But would they but do it Justice, and print it True, according to the Copy, they are welcome to sell it for a Penny, if they please." - D. Defoe "The True Born Englishman" (1703)

Yes, I was surprised too.

24 December 2011

Thinking about Google+ and the #nymwars...

Wouldn't you like to get away?
Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your 'nym,
they don't know you're a her or him.
You wanna be where you're not seen,
'cos everyone looks the same.
You wanna be where nobody knows
your name.

27 October 2011

Incredible movies that will never get made...

There is occasionally discussion of a movie version of Ender's Game. I don't think that the novel would work well on the big screen, though it might make a cable TV series.

The short story, however, is a different matter. I think it would make an excellent movie...

...if it was produced by Miyazaki.

26 October 2011

Unthink Direct Marketing

If you've been following my Google Plus stream, I've been poking around "Unthink", the new social network that claims that they're "not Facebook".

It seems to me that they're being a whole lot more Facebook than Facebook dares to be. With a dash of OKCupid...

 ...and a pinch of LinkedIn...

...and a big heaping spoonful of direct marketing...

... oh maybe there's a reason for that!

23 July 2011

More Verbogeny - WASPonym

I've done some more verbogeny...
A whitebread pseudonym chosen to avoid letting a restrictive social networking site such as Facebook know that you're using a pseudonym.

12 April 2011

When bitten by a vampire...

It's vitally important that you know what mythos, TV show, or popular fiction series your vampire is from. A vampire bite can be anything from an isolated event that leaves you feeling unsettled for a few days, to the beginning of a nightmare of damnation and unholy cravings.

17 March 2011

Something you don't want to see in your kernel source.

ifnot (super())
udata.u_error = EPERM;

udata.u_error = EPERM;

10 March 2011

This is the geekiest joke ever

A TCP/IP packet goes into a bar. It says, "I'd like a beer".
The barman asks, "A beer?"
The packet responds, "Yes, a beer."

04 March 2011

If you're in the top 1%...

By the way, it's because of this phenomenon—the fact that many of the great people are never on the job market—that we are so aggressive about hiring summer interns. This may be the last time these kids ever show up on the open market. In fact we hunt down the smart CS students and individually beg them to apply for an internship with us, because if you wait around to see who sends you a resume, you're already missing out. -- Joel on Software

If you happen to be one of Joel's Interns, I recommend you go out and look for another job anyway, and seriously look, so you get the skills required to look for a job under your belt and you're comfortable with them. Because you never know. I was one of you, and found myself twenty-something years later looking for a job in the middle of George Bush's economy and had absolutely no clue. And that's a scary place to be.

19 February 2011

Dream Diary?

Another incredibly complicated and detailed dream. It was like a steampunk Terry Gilliam movie. I was helping a friend check out a house he was going to buy, and it had underground torpedo launchers (they launched underground torpedoes, yes, really), rooms full of boxes of stuff from the '30s including evidence that Marilyn Monroe was Aleister Crowley (played by Christopher Lloyd)'s girlfriend, secret rooms, an incredibly detailed greenhouse with huge thick plate-glass walls that led into an undersea base with room after cavernous room full of mysterious boxes, crates, parcels, and luggage, racks of 1890's clothes, and of course giant dangerous-looking steampunk machines. All through the dream I was exquisitely aware that I was playing a role in a movie that I'd seen before, but couldn't control what I was doing. The villainess was the ex-wife of the house's owner, and was bent on destroying his works (which would I knew lead to a revolution in science and technology). She was intermittently a huge bloated old woman covered in cracking make-up and a young girl who was probably a remotely controlled robot.

The plot centered around her starting up one of the machines, and deliberately unbalancing the power feed. This involved skinny butler-type minions, one of whom was me in disguise, puling on ropes and levers in various parts of the house. I had to convince myself not to play along, but I ignored myself when I wasn't myself and when I was myself I KNEW I was playing along to try and find where she was hiding the key... to something... it was important, I knew that.

Then I suddenly realized that I was trapped, and I had to wake up and go to work, so I woke up and it was 12:55 AM.

09 February 2011

The problem with HTML5 "apps"...

Getting back to my comment in June about making HTML5 a "flash killer", this would also solve the problem of HTML5 as an alternative to native applications. The same ".zap" bundle should be treated as an application, that you can download and install, and have a nice self-contained package that acts like an app.

When I recently brought this up on Buzz, I was directed to HTML5 offline support. That seems rather fragile to me:
  • It's built on top of caching, what happens when you clear your cache? What should happen? Should such implicit "offline" apps stay around after you clear your cache? That sounds like a way to create a "persistent script injection" attack. The idea of the "app bundle" is that you have an object (an app) that you deliberately choose to install, and that you can throw away when you don't want it.
  • How do you know when you have the whole application safely in your cache?

04 January 2011

An article I'd forgotten about...

Something I posted on Advogato 10 years ago...

26 Aug 2000

Microsoft had the right idea, they just haven't figured out where it makes sense yet.

I'm talking about their whole web browser == the OS thing. You don't want to do that on the desktop, your applications are too heavy-duty, they break the browser metaphor, and the security issues are horrid.

But where it does make sense, is in a handheld computer. The applications you run in one of those things are, mostly, well suited to the model of filling out forms and following links.

Take an iPaq, and install a lightweight browser. No javascript or anything applety... it's a purpose-built browser, if you want special behaviour suited to the touchscreen you hardcode it in.

Then add a copy of Apache with a server-side scripting language. Maybe a bunch. I like tcl (NeoWebScript, that is), but something like REXX or Perl or even a VB clone or Javascript would be useful for people who like those.

Build in your address book applications and the like using the web server. As much as possible your user interface for EVERYTHING is through http://localhost/....

You'd want a few extensions to HTML. A mechanism to edit using rich text in entry fields (using an SGML/XML markup, of course, behind the scenes), for example, and a way to deal with large graphical objects that's better than the way things like Terraserver or Mapquest manage it. But mostly you'd do things through the browser.

It just seems like an automatic match. And with cross-database links (and look at critlink for an idea of how to synthesize them if there's not a good anchor already there... perhaps have a special tag in the URL to signify 'search the document for this string'?) you'd get some nifty epiphenomena.

It's almost worth picking up an iPaq running Linux to experiment with the idea...

Apart from the ability to run a local server so you can maintain local state and computation in the background... sometimes you really need to have a server you control on local hardware... this seems to be the way devices are going. The one thing that I really want in a handheld that they're missing is local casual scripting.