Adam Fields (weblog)

This blog is largely deprecated, but is being preserved here for historical interest. Check out my index page at for more up to date info. My main trade is technology strategy, process/project management, and performance optimization consulting, with a focus on enterprise and open source CMS and related technologies. More information. I write periodic long pieces here, shorter stuff goes on twitter or


Happy New Year!

Filed under: — adam @ 11:10 am

We’re off.

See you in 2005!

eXeem beta screenshots

Filed under: — adam @ 10:19 am

eXeem, an encrypted, anonymized adware BitTorrent replacement put out by the folks behind (the BitTorrent tracker site that shut down recently) seems to have materialized in beta.



New Year’s Resolutions for the blog

Filed under: — adam @ 2:25 pm
  1. Rationalize the permalinks and get rid of numbered link posts.
  2. Splice the photo blog, blog, category, and feeds if feedburner doesn’t beat me to it.
  3. Start formally using Creative Commons licenses.
  4. Figure out a better way to have conversations between blogs than trackback.
  5. Address the comment spam problem.
  6. Add auto hyperlinks to the rss feed.

Category RSS feeds

Filed under: — adam @ 2:05 pm

I just noticed that the rss feed page can be restricted by category.

So, if you’re just interested in, say, the DRM posts, you can use:

and it’ll give you a feed with just those.

Very high frame rate cameras

Filed under: — adam @ 1:38 pm

This describes a very (multi-thousand) frame per second camera array made out of cheap 30 fps CMOS cameras, with some software on the backend to synchronize the frames. Theoretically, I’d assume that they could just keep adding cameras to the limit of being able to tell what order the frames go in.

Wallet-sized essentials

Filed under: — adam @ 12:30 pm

Slim stainless steel “emergency” and wallet stuff.

Cory rants on DRM (and rightly so)

Fantastic piece on DRM by Cory Doctorow.

I think this is a mostly accurate assessment, one that is not worded strongly enough.

But, there’s a distinction between “how things should be” and “how things are currently” that needs to be drawn.

Content owners, however unfortunate that may be, do call most of the shots, by virtue of the fact that they claim to do so. But there’s no reason to think that the public has to let them. In contracts, and more specifically, in policy, the guilty party that yells the loudest and makes the most demands can set the stage up however they want, and everyone who goes along with it gives them only more power to do so. This is the reality of intangible agreements, and the “rules” are whatever the content companies dictate and consumers accept. Or consumers dictate and content companies accept. If you disagree with this, you must speak. Verbally, with your wallet, in print, on the radio, on TV. Change the discourse.

I wholeheartedly agree with the point about using DRM to remove functionality included at the time of purchase, and shrouding it in ongoing rental/license fees as an excuse that you always have the choice to renew or cancel, and so promises they’ve made up to that point are somehow not required to be included in future negotiations. This sort of transaction is very much like a “sale”, but it is not a “sale”, even though most people continue to consider it such (because all they know is “sale”, and no one’s explained the new rules to them well enough). It differs from a “sale” in that it removes any obligation on the part of the producer/supplier to not reverse any of the terms of the transaction after the fact. Think about what that means for a second.. . .

Think about what it would be like if other things worked this way. Say you buy a microwave oven that comes with a “single touch popcorn function”. That’d be a selling point of the microwave, that would maybe encourage you to choose one kind of microwave over another. Now, say it’s a month later, and the popcorn function stops working. You’d expect the company to fix it, right? Now, what if when you ask them to fix it, they say “Sorry, we turned if off from here. If you want to make popcorn, you have to pay us another dollar.”? Do you? Or do you decide that the initial purchase was made on fraudulent terms and demand your money back?

Maybe, the argument goes, they won’t do this because then — who would buy their product in the future? But what if, at the same time, it became impossible to find a microwave with a built-in popcorn feature that was just “included”? That would be stupid, right? Maybe this is stretching the analogy a bit thin. Manufacturers should be adding features to get new customers, not taking them away. Except that you’re not looking at the right value proposition – the fact that you want to make popcorn in your microwave benefits the people who make the microwave in exactly zero ways, once you’ve already made the decision to buy the microwave… Unless, that is, they can get you to buy the ability to make popcorn again. Of course, they’d have to also find ways of getting you to think you still had a good deal, so you wouldn’t tell your friends what happened.

There are three possible outcomes:

1) Your microwave (and everything else digital, and that eventually means “everything”) starts to behave more like your cable box. Welcome to popcorn licensing.

2) Your cable box starts to behave like your microwave does today. Frankly, I just don’t see this happening.

3) We all step away and look at different pricing models for this business of bit pattern creation, and examine what the real value of this industry is, and where the trade-offs are.

Content companies spend millions per year on lobbying the government to change the “rules”.

Where are you in this discussion?



Automatic keyword news filtering

Filed under: — adam @ 4:56 pm

A thought occurred to me while thinking about the automatic keyword ad serving problem of avoiding potentially sensitive subjects – it’s probably possible to monitor something like this:

for related keywords and use those as the starting point for topics to avoid. There’s no reason to try to make this fully automated – let the distributed meat machine work for you.

Amazing cardstacker gallery

Filed under: — adam @ 3:09 pm

Vegan-approved condoms

Filed under: — adam @ 3:08 pm

The Incredibles and the FF

Filed under: — adam @ 2:25 pm

It looks like The Incredibles has really fucked things up for the Fantastic Four movie.

The Sri Lankan animals all got away

Filed under: — adam @ 2:15 pm

22,000 people dead along the Indian Ocean coast, and all of the animals escaped. I guess this is what happens when you build houses and stuff.

New York City Walk

Filed under: — adam @ 12:38 pm

A Columbia librarian walked every street in Manhattan between May 2002 and December 2004.

His website, with lots of pictures, is here:

The dangers of context-sensitive ads

Filed under: — adam @ 11:54 am

The feedburner rss feed Amazon ad insertion service is serving inappropriate ads.

I believe the Google context-sensitive ad service takes measures to prevent this sort of thing. They all should.

This is a screen capture from my bloglines page (not my blog):

Tsunami ad screenshot

I’ve notified feedburner of this, but I think it’s important to think about the implications in general. If we’re going to start inserting context-sensitive ads all over the place, there ought to be a little sensitivity to, say, the death of more than 75,000 people.

Amazon has one-click tsunami aid donations

Filed under: — adam @ 11:36 am

Amazon has added a 1-click donation page for tsunami aid donations. As of the time of this writing, they’ve collected almost $1.6M. If you haven’t given already, please consider it.


Sledge Hammer!

Filed under: — adam @ 12:59 pm

I’m almost ashamed to admit I used to watch this show.

Create your own monster

Filed under: — adam @ 12:20 pm


What the bagel man saw (and started)

Filed under: — adam @ 11:50 am

This is a great story about a guy who retired to sell bagels on the honor system. It’s also an interesting glimpse into the sociology of white collar crime.

Update: My friend Mark points out:

“As noted at the very very end of your link, this is actually from the NYTimes Magazine 6/6/2004 (where I first read it). Of course, you can no longer read it at for free (too long ago), and it’s your choice to circumvent (c) by pointing to the blog entry. But you should at least give the proper credit in your lead-in, methinks.”

While credit is certainly due, I’m not sure I agree that it’s a copyright violation. It certainly is a sticky situation.

I think this may qualify as “copying for personal use” even though it happens to be accessible to the public. It looks like this may have come from the email list. The original ad is included, it links back to the source, and there’s no financial gain involved in distributing it. There’s ostensibly financial loss on the part of the NYT, because people who might have paid to view the full article now don’t have to. I will note that the NYT general terms of service includes no mention of articles sent via email. I will also note that this article does NOT appear in the Google cache, or even appear to be indexed at all by Google (although that may just have fallen into the hole where Google was unable to index new pages because they’d hit the 32-bit limit on their indexes, and not be directly copyright related).

But, let’s try to be fair about this. The NYT is charging $2.95 for back articles. That seems like a lot, although you get a bulk discount, which has never made sense to me for electronic content. Still, let’s call it a market rate of $3. Since they have a monopoly, they can set the price. So, I propose this. If you read this article and liked it, let’s be fair to the NYT, and try to convince them that they’ll do better by asking for money than by demanding it. Clearly, they can’t stop this article from being copied. I’m mostly of the opinion that they shouldn’t try.

So I’ve set up a dropcash donation page to make voluntary donations to the NYTimes for enjoying this fine piece of writing (and others).

“The New York Times charges for back articles. We think this is unfair and expensive. This is a voluntary fund to donate money to the New York Times as compensatory payment for viewing articles that have been copied. This is an exercise to convince the New York Times (and the content generation industry in general) that they can get more money by asking for it than by demanding it, and that we acknowledge that copying can’t be controlled.

For more background on how this came about, please see:

This is a voluntary donation, I’m guessing it’s not tax deductible, and I hope it’s not an admission of guilt.

The New York Times, as far as I can tell, has no official channel for receiving paypal donations. I figure that Daniel Okrent, “the readers’ representative” is the right person to deal with this sort of thing, so I have used his address as the paypal recipient.

I have chosen the current market cap of the NYT corporation (5.9B) as the goal for this campaign.”

Another update: It appears that the dropcash page doesn’t update the donated totals until the money has been approved by the recipient. Since the NY Times doesn’t officially accept paypal, they may never approve them, and so the donation page may never rise above zero. Please donate anyway.

(Also, don’t let this stop you from donating money to the Tsunami relief fund. Do both.)

The vice guide to everything

Filed under: — adam @ 11:35 am


She’s a flight risk

Filed under: — adam @ 11:22 am

“On March 2, 2003 at 4:12 pm, I disappeared.
My name is isabella v.
I’m twentysomething and I am an international fugitive.
My name is isabella v. But it isn’t.”

As jwz says: “Short version: heiress runs to escape arranged marriage; launders money, flees private security forces, hangs out with smugglers, blogs.”

Lenovo outsources management… to NY

Filed under: — adam @ 10:59 am

This is very interesting. As part of the Lenovo/IBM deal, Lenovo management will give up control of the company to IBM top management, and move the company headquarters to Armonk. This sounds a lot like a reverse takeover.

Bush to renominate 20 rejected judges

Filed under: — adam @ 10:56 am

Stop hitting yourself. Stop hitting yourself. Stop hitting yourself. Stop hitting yourself.

Yushchenko loses

Filed under: — adam @ 10:56 am

Or, at least, the exit polls said he won.

Earthquake and Tsunami relief fund

Filed under: — adam @ 10:54 am

The Red Cross has set up an online form for making donations to the Earthquake and Tsunami relief fund.

I’m sure even $20 helps – give now, before you find an excuse to put it off!

Ten things about Thomas and Scalia

Filed under: — adam @ 10:46 am

First novel advances through the ages

Filed under: — adam @ 10:36 am

Interesting piece on an informal survey of “how much did you get as the advance from your first novel?”.

Overclock remix

Filed under: — adam @ 10:36 am

Overclock Remix is a site dedicated to taking music from old video games and “reimagining” them with current hardware.

Mobile foodie survival kit

Filed under: — adam @ 10:07 am


It’s a 5×6 little packet with spices and some little sauce bottles for $30. Sadly, they included Tabasco instead of some small batch habanero sauce. But if you care about that, you probably carry your own bottle of that around too.


Games Knoppix

Filed under: — adam @ 12:55 am

It’s a bootable linux CD packed with games. I haven’t tried it yet, but it sounds quite cool.

Use the torrent if you can.


In praise of game sequels

Filed under: — adam @ 10:50 am

I keep hearing about how most of the good video games this year were sequels — Prince of Persia 2, Halo 2, Jak 3, Ratchet & Clank 3, Doom 3, GTA 5, Half-life 2, Viewtiful Joe 2 … the list just keeps going on. Even the ones that weren’t strictly sequels were franchise continuations instead of new worlds — World of Warcraft, every Star Wars game, the Bard’s Tale remake, a few LOTR games.


Good firefox tweaking reference

Filed under: — adam @ 12:34 am

Some of these have shown up elsewhere, but this is a good, concise reference for lots of preferences you can change to speed up firefox.

Digital photo noise reduction by calibration

Filed under: — adam @ 12:32 am

The core of this technique is to take a black frame (with the lens cap or a dark towel over the lens) at exactly the same ISO and exposure time settings, then subtract that frame from your image. This should give you a much clearer image with much less noise. This technique has been floating around for a while, but this is a very clear description of the process, plus a very strong background explanation of why it works and what kinds of noise it doesn’t fix.


Adult internet TV is about to hit

Filed under: — adam @ 10:27 pm

Unrestricted adult programming. Some porn, but not all porn. Sitcoms, dramas, news (?), etc… Just like a regular TV station, but with cursing, violence, nudity, and fucking. I’m surprised this hasn’t happened sooner.,1284,66127,00.html

Not the brightest marketing move

Filed under: — adam @ 10:19 pm

“Whole Foods Markets is reconsidering whether to continue selling a line of microwaveable stuffed animals that an educator said could lead children to believe there is nothing wrong with putting their pets in household appliances.”

How did this get past the focus groups?!?

NYC murder rate is down AGAIN

Filed under: — adam @ 11:25 am

While I’m sure at least some of this is due to the valiant efforts of our ER and paramedic staff (people are less likely to actually die when attacked), and I’ve noticed an increase in news reporting of other street crimes (even if they’ve actually declined overall), it seems that, for the 14th year in a row, the NYC murder rate is down…

So, I extend a general thanks to the rest of New York, for less killing of each other.


Top 100 toys of “yesteryear”

Filed under: — adam @ 5:52 pm

The EFF backs Tor (and also why digital computing is good)

Filed under: — adam @ 11:58 am

The EFF has backed Tor:

“Tor is a toolset for a wide range of organizations and people that want to improve their safety and security on the Internet. Using Tor can help you anonymize web browsing and publishing, instant messaging, IRC, SSH, and more. Tor also provides a platform on which software developers can build new applications with built-in anonymity, safety, and privacy features.”

We get more benefits out of having our legitimate communications encrypted (and protected from criminals) than criminals do by being able to hide. Strong crypto is always available if you want it. Covert channels are possible. Again, here’s an object lesson in Turing-Completeness.

The overall premise is this – Turing described a certain kind of basic computer that’s the baseline for computability. If another computer is “equivalent” to this (or instead, two computers are equivalent to each other), it can perform the same calculations – i.e.: take the same input and give the same output. There’s a principle in there (I’m not sure if it has a name) that says that it doesn’t matter if the alphabets are the same – the computation is still equivalent if the two machines are both Turing-complete, so some alphabets are interchangeable with others. This is how we get from computers processing zeroes and ones to human-readable text, images, and eventually moving images on the screen or other output device – alphabets can be encoded, and they’re still equivalent.

I’ve simplified things a bit.

This is a fundamental difference between digital computers and everything else. Computers are modeling devices capable of emulating a wide range of other things. Because of the interchangeability principles, the underlying restrictions and capabilities remain, regardless of what kind of representation you’re talking about. This has implications for encryption, digital media, and basically everything else we do with computers. More to the point, it has implications for trying to restrict what any given user wants to do by encoding some information as a digital signal, and the fact that pretty much, you can’t – they can always change the alphabet on you.

Examples of this are all over the place –

A lot of my friends work at banks or other large corporations that try to restrict what traffic can flow in and out of their network. They block ports, or they don’t allow certain protocols. Every one of my friends has successfully bypassed these restrictions by tunelling whatever they wanted to do over a different protocol. If you allow ssh, you allow everything to someone who can use ssh and is clever enough to realize that. Bits are fungible – it doesn’t matter to the computer what comes in or goes out, as long as there’s another translation program that can change one alphabet to another.

It’s currently possible to equip your car with a device that will let you open the door by knocking a certain pattern on the window. This is a perfect example of a covert channel – the alphabets are interchangeable, so your car can translate an unadvertised and hidden series of knocks into “open the door”, and it doesn’t fundamentally matter what the series of knocks was, or even that there was a series of knocks at all. It still means “open the door”. Bits are fungible.

The same principle is at work with digital media. When you play a movie, bits are read in, and transformed to a moving image of pixels. Here’s the important part. Unless you’re going to restrict access to the hardware (which is where the dreaded DRM “black box” comes in), even if the source file was encrypted and restricted, the machine on which you’re going to play it back still has to unencrypt it and display it. At that point, it can be captured and transformed into whatever form you want. Bits are fungible.

Bits are fungible. This is why “copy protection” is incompatible with general computing. If you allow general computing, bits can always be exchanged for other bits.

It’s also why encryption is not the same thing as security, why the bad guys will always have encryption, and why the EFF backing strong encryption is important for digital freedom.

Any questions?

Pulp Xmas

Filed under: — adam @ 10:41 am

My friend Rob and some of his co-workers made this movie. It’s The Pulp Fiction trailer audio mixed to Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.

It’s awesome!

They finally fixed the battery gauge

Filed under: — adam @ 1:24 am

This will definitely be welcome. I can’t say how many times my laptop battery has suddenly kicked out while the meter read 20-50%.


Yeah, it’s a DRM kind of day

Filed under: — adam @ 2:46 pm

One hardware expert’s nightmare with DRM-protected content.

This isn’t good for anybody. It’s a poor consumer experience, it’s alienating, it’s difficult to set up, it makes you feel like a criminal.

AND IT DOESN’T ACTUALLY STOP ANYBODY WHO WANTS TO PIRATE THE MOVIE. Software DRM never fully can. This is why we say that copy control is mutually exclusive with open computing.

I think the people who are pushing this terrible technology on us need a lesson in Turing Completeness.

(Update: I wrote a longer piece on this.)

Oh, it looks like just so much goodness

Filed under: — adam @ 2:39 pm

“I understand that in the movie, Zaphod’s second head is inside his nostril. And this all ties in with the increased prominence of the Church Of Arkleseizure in the movie (a race with fifty noses, and the first to develop the aerosol deodorant before the wheel) and their leader John Malkovich, who also has a second head, and Zaphod’s unwillingness to sneeze.” Update: I’m informed that this isn’t true. It still looks good!

Moldable plastic

Filed under: — adam @ 2:09 pm

“You get a bag of plastic pellets, put them in 160F water, and they phase change, becoming soft and moldable. If you don’t let the water get too hot, when you take the plastic out, it’s cool enough to shape with your hands.

When it cools down, it hardens into a strong, durable, paintable, machine-able white plastic. If you don’t like what you made, you just put it in 160F water again and reshape it.”

Who is reading this?

Filed under: — adam @ 1:14 pm

My traffic tends to spike between noon and 1pm ET.

Are you reading this over lunch on the East Coast, or right when you get in on the West Coast?

Secure the Homeneck

Filed under: — adam @ 12:44 pm

Heh. Via Karm:

(Brought to you by the exclusive maker of Chrissy Caviar, which I’ve mentioned before.)

The MPAA has no idea what’s about to hit them

Recently, several large Bittorrent tracker sites were shut down, citing concerns about problems with copyright holders.

The movie studios think this is a good thing. They’re wrong. P2P is the Content Industry’s worst nightmare…. to date. But it just keeps getting worse from there.

Mark Pesce (inventor of VRML, which, despite completely failing to take off in any meaningful way, is still really frickin’ cool) has an extended rant about it, which is worth reading.

Here’s what I think it boils down to – a simple choice. We, as a society, have to choose one of:

1) Copy protection.
2) General purpose open computing.

They are not compatible. Copy protection (and everything else that goes along with being able to perform copy protection) simply cannot be enforced in a world where the end user has control over their hardware and software. (Update: I wrote a longer piece about this.) Everything else is a thin sugar layer on top of that, disguising the fact that we’re heading for one of two worlds – where all entertainment (and consequently, all other computing) is viewed with industry-mandated black boxes, or the content creation industry (movies, music, games, etc…) learns to live in a world where they can’t force people to pay for their product. Currently, it’s a weird mishmash, but eventually, It’s one or the other.

Fortunately, there’s still a looong way to go before general purpose computing is outlawed, and there’s not a long way to go before technology makes it possible to anonymously copy whatever you want. Two things work in favor of that outcome – 1) storage keeps getting cheaper, and 2) because everything’s digital, a distribution mechanism that works for one kind of media can be easily adapted to work for all kinds of media. Eventually, there will be enough storage out there that the entire music library of the human race will be able to fit on a card or disc that’s small enough and cheap enough that it will be practical to just hand them out with a cup of coffee. Then, eventually, the entire movie library. Then, without the cup of coffee. All radio. Recordings of every live performance. P2P is just a way station on the road to constant on-demand availability of all digital media. It may be over the wire, it may be on cheap storage, it’ll probably be a combination of the two. But how it happens doesn’t matter – it will happen. Eventually, it isn’t about “piracy” vs. “legitimate usage”. It’s about facing a world where copying is not only widespread, it’s simply unavoidable.

What will the music and movie industries do when faced with the prospect of such a world? It’s tricky. They can try to fight it, but, sadly for them, these enabling technologies are also really good, and in some cases necessary, to all kinds of other interesting (and interested) parties, industries, and countries. I think fighting it is doomed to failure, and any attempts to do so only prolong the agony of all concerned, make criminals out of legitimate users, and alienate any goodwill towards actually saving these industries by paying for their product in some other way. They can try to make money off of live performances, but eventually those will all be available as recordings immediately after the fact. It’s already starting to happen. And that doesn’t help the movie industry much – although it’s been longer in coming, the movie industry is going to do much worse than the music industry out of this – they don’t have live performances to fall back on and their main revenue model is built around staggered, restricted distribution.

But here’s the real point – these industries are going to have to find other ways to make money. Many people will pay voluntarily, if they think they’re giving their money to people who are working hard to produce the content they like, and they don’t think they’re being taken advantage of by asshats who don’t respect them. Suing them doesn’t help. Trust me on that one. Maybe we need a voluntary entertainment pool, where people pay in (say, monthly), then they get to vote on media they’ve seen. If you make good content, you get a bigger piece of the pie. Maybe we need to return to a patron model. Maybe it becomes much more difficult to be “a professional creator” (and maybe it becomes MUCH more difficult to be “a professional content distributor”). The argument “if you can’t make money off it, no one will create” is just wrong. People will create because they need to, and the consequential technologies that increase the distribution of content also make it cheaper and easier for everyone else out there to express their creative energies. We need to find a way to pay them (us), and they (we) need to find a way to convince us (them) to do so.


New server worm targets php and uses Google to spread

Filed under: — adam @ 11:17 pm


“The Santy worm uses a flaw in the widely used community forum software known as the PHP Bulletin Board (phpBB) to spread, according to updated analyses. The worm searches Google for sites using a vulnerable version of the software”

Tonga is the porniest nation

Filed under: — adam @ 11:05 pm

“While Sao Tome remains a mere adolescent in the world of online porn (in terms of countries, Germany leads the way with 10 million pages, and the UK is close behind with 8.5 million), that figure corresponds to 1.7 pages per inhabitant. Germany in contrast has 0.12 pages per person, and the UK, 0.14. Winner of porniest country in the world is Tonga with an incredible 7.7 pages for each of its 110,000 inhabitants.”


Filed under: — adam @ 4:51 pm

Marton Csokas is Trevor Goodchild

Filed under: — adam @ 4:48 pm

AKA Celeborn:

Also, Jonny Lee Miller as Goodchild the Younger.

Haven’t seen him in a while.

New nerve imaging tech

Filed under: — adam @ 2:05 pm

“The proprietary NERVONIX Nerve Imaging Technology is based on the ability of nerves to alter tissue distribution parameters of electrical fields. Since depolarization of the neuronal cell membrane is not required for this effect, extremely low-intensity electrical fields can be employed for image construction. Impedance changes measured at the skin surface are translated into data to pinpoint and construct a two-dimensional image of the underlying nerve structures, which appear in the form of peaks on a topographical map. The highest impedance levels show up as the brightest peaks on the map. The technology operates non-invasively and without any unpleasant sensations.”

The EFF needs your support

Filed under: — adam @ 1:13 pm

As you think about your taxes at the end of this year, consider donating to the EFF. They’re fighting the good fight for your electronic freedom, they produce tangible work, and their efforts affect everyone who uses the internet or technology in any way.

No, really. Do it now!

The Beastles (Mashed Apples all over this funky place)

Filed under: — adam @ 12:43 pm

Beastie Boys + Beatles mashup. I’m not so sure it’s good, but it is interesting.

[Update: Correction, it's really good. Get it now, before the C&D does!]


Thom Hogan photo predictions for 2005

Filed under: — adam @ 2:21 pm

Wired article on the Ohio recount fraud allegation

Filed under: — adam @ 1:11 pm

“As a statewide election recount got underway in Ohio last week, a Democratic congressman called on the FBI to impound vote-tabulating computers in at least one county and investigate suspicions of election tampering in the state.”,2645,66072,00.html

Scoble finally has an independent thought

Filed under: — adam @ 12:21 pm

Microsoft has so badly made a mess of things that it’s gotten to the point that every new bad thing you tell me about Microsoft makes me want to use it more than I currently do. Here’s the twisted reasoning behind that seemingly paradoxical statement, and then some spiralling off into something that’s only partially related, but which is the real point:

  1. Microsoft has a LOT of problems.
  2. They are capable of doing good work when beaten over the head with problems and forced to fix them. (But they don’t always.)
  3. Every problem pointed out is now a public problem that may be fixed. Every problem not pointed out is a private problem that will not be fixed. The hope of a fix is better than the complete denial. This seems to be because marketing runs the company, and dictates what the technology talent can do.
  4. I feel like if their marketing department gets a clue, they might stop getting in the way of their good products.
  5. The first signs of the marketing department getting a clue will be with an ad campaign that actually works and tells the truth.
  6. Scoble is a very visible aspect of the Microsoft marketing machine, and he recently posted an opinion that, while in direct contradiction to the way Microsoft marketing is working, is nonetheless true. The opinion in question is that Microsoft marketing is going about tapping into the media player market in exactly the wrong way, and that their marketing of music players sucks. This is true. It’s not the entire reason that they’re losing to Apple – some of that also has to do with overly restrictive DRM bullshit. But it’s at least an accurate opinion of the way Microsoft marketing has completely dropped the ball (or is not even aware that there is a ball at all) on promoting what’s good about portable music players.
  7. I often find that Scoble’s posts toe the party line, but when he goes against the grain and actually points out what they’re doing wrong, it’s refreshing.
  8. Maybe that means that they’ll actually fix this.

Here’s the Scoble post:

Fark photoshop on “Unlikely scenes from the extended DVD version of “The Return of the King”

Filed under: — adam @ 11:17 am

Some of these are funny.

For some reason, Styx thinks they’re the Walrus

Filed under: — adam @ 11:08 am

SSA rejects New Paltz wedding certs

Filed under: — adam @ 10:55 am

The Social Security Administration is rejecting wedding certificates from New Paltz. Even heterosexual ones.


Solar PC

Filed under: — adam @ 4:05 pm

Low-power PCs.


ARPS (Advanced Ring Possession Syndrome)

Filed under: — adam @ 5:17 pm

“Thirty students at University College London were asked to explain the odd behaviour the character displayed in the films based on the J.R.R. Tolkien trilogy.

The students noted his solitary habits, spiteful behaviour, odd interests, difficulty in forming friendships, emotional changeability, nervousness and paranoia.”

( Update: Here’s the BMJ article: )

First-hand account of Ohio election tampering

Filed under: — adam @ 12:19 pm

This seems not good at all.

Blogging the Barlow trial

Filed under: — adam @ 12:13 pm

‘On Wednesday I went to Superior Court for the hearing on John Perry’s motion to suppress. The defense claimed that the search at the airport in 2003 was not “reasonable” and therefore that evidence obtained from it should not be admitted. The Superior Court of California, County of San Mateo, is accustomed to dealing with cases that arose at the San Francisco Airport, but it’s not particularly used to constitutional
challenges to aviation screening procedures, nor to having multiple camera crews turn out for a single pre-trial evidentiary hearing in a misdemeanor drug possession case.’


Filed under: — adam @ 9:42 am is:

“A group of independent mathematicians, statisticians and computer professionals has formed a new, volunteer scientific research project to objectively investigate the accuracy of elections in America. ”


The most amazing crossword puzzle

Filed under: — adam @ 8:37 pm

There had to have been a better choice of words

Filed under: — adam @ 4:13 pm

Gillette is getting ready to release a vibrating version of their Venus razor for women.

This is probably very cool – as I’ve mentioned before, the M3 Power is much better than the non-vibrating Mach 3.

The Gillette “President for blades and razors” had this to say about the product launch:

‘Our testing indicated that there is an upside potential to penetrate more razors at a slightly reduced price.’

I’ll resist the tempation, but there are just so many places to go with this one.

Is it time for the Gnu Positioning System?

Filed under: — adam @ 3:49 pm

As the US Govt. makes preparations for the ability to shut down the GPS in case of “emergency”, I’m left wondering what it would actually take to replicate the functionality with private satellites.

Two page Firefox ad runs in the NYT

Filed under: — adam @ 3:45 pm

What are you waiting for?

Do I Need a Jacket?

Filed under: — adam @ 3:44 pm

A Star Wars game retrospective

Filed under: — adam @ 3:23 pm

I think Shadows of the Empire remains one of the best games I’ve ever played. Tie Fighter is a close second in this batch.

Spoke n’ light

Filed under: — adam @ 3:19 pm

LEDs mounted on a bicycle wheel create a static message. Like those clocks with the wavy hands.


Business card cutter

Filed under: — adam @ 2:03 pm

I have a need for lots of different kinds of cards (business cards for consulting, business cards for companies, personal cards, cards with just my blog address, photo release cards, among other things). I’ve simply done without rather than get them all printed, but recently I bought a Cardmate business card cutter:

This thing is great! I can print 10-up cards on cardstock, and cut them myself. They don’t look quite as good as professionally printed cards, but they’re a huge step up from the pre-cut peel-off cards (which are probably half the weight of good cardstock). The advantages of print-on-demand cards are numerous – you can vary them with your audience, print special colored ones for the holidays, etc…

(On a side note, I ordered it on the phone from ABC Office first and told them I needed it by a particular date, a week off. They said no problem, then sent me an email three days later saying it was out of stock and would be backordered. Until the week after I needed it. Nice. Laminator Warehouse was not only cheaper, they had it, were very helpful, and got it to me on time.)

Pierced Nez

Filed under: — adam @ 11:09 am

James Sooy has made a pair of eyeglasses that hang from his nose bridge piercing. Apparently, according to the article, he’s not the first to do this, but he has taken pictures of it, which are included. So yeah.

Wraparound scanner

Filed under: — adam @ 11:07 am

Tokyo University researchers have come up with a flexible scanner than can be inserted into the pages of fragile books so they can be scanned without breaking the spine.


How to make highly detailed clay oranges

Filed under: — adam @ 10:58 pm

That’s pretty nifty.

Zigbee 1.0 ratified

Filed under: — adam @ 5:41 pm

That’s pretty cool. I’ve played with X10 a fair amount in my apartment, and it’s not entirely reliable. I’ve heard better things about Zigbee.

Funky touch-activated LED flashlights

Filed under: — adam @ 1:51 pm

Strangest palm programs

Filed under: — adam @ 12:53 pm

Gonzalo Silva

Filed under: — adam @ 10:52 am

I ran into this guy on the subway, and his music is pretty good. I bought a CD. Reminds me of Nick Drake.


If you’ve purchased all three LOTR extended DVD sets…

Filed under: — adam @ 7:47 pm

Go to for a free slipcase ($3 S/H) to put them all in.

Schneier on security

Filed under: — adam @ 5:37 pm

I’m surprised he didn’t mention Spoofstick, which is a VERY valuable addition to the firefox security arsenal. But there’s still a lot of good stuff in there.

NEJM photo essay on caring for the wounded in Iraq

Filed under: — adam @ 5:34 pm

This is a very graphic photo essay about emergency surgical teams and the cases they encounter in Iraq.

Namco noodle park

Filed under: — adam @ 3:55 pm


Cartoon therapy

Filed under: — adam @ 12:13 pm

This is pretty moving.

John Perry Barlow is fighting the TSA

Filed under: — adam @ 11:22 am

“I have been quietly gathering myself up for the countless smaller contests arrayed before us that, taken collectively, will determine the future of freedom in America. We can’t afford to lose many of those, and we will have to emulate our authoritarian adversaries’ disciplined resolve if we are are to prevail.

As it happens, I am already personally engaged in one of these battles, and it has been testing my resolve for over a year. Now that it seems to be coming to a head, I want to tell you about it. My own liberty is at stake, but so, I think, is the liberty of anyone who wishes to travel in America without fear of humiliation or arrest.

On September 15, 2003, shortly after Burning Man, I was hauled off an airplane that was about to depart San Francisco for New York and charged with the misdemeanor possession of controlled substances that
had allegedly been discovered during a search of my checked baggage.”

He is fighting the charge on the grounds that the searching of his bag by the TSA for anything other than items potentially dangerous to the flight is an unconstitutional search.


If you’re looking for something to do for the holidays

Filed under: — adam @ 7:23 pm

“On Sunday December 26, 2004, a re-vote of the run-off for the Presidential Election in Ukraine is planned. Anyone who is over the age of 18 and a citizen of another country (i.e. other than Ukraine) can become an international observer. (Ukrainian citizens can be local observers) The Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC), in cooperation with the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA), has organized international election observers for the first two rounds and are now seeking observers for round three. You do not need to be Canadian to register through the UCC, you may be a citizen of any country except
Ukraine. You can make a contribution to democracy in Ukraine and spend the most interesting Christmas ever by coming to Ukraine to observe the elections.”

New browser popup vulnerability

Filed under: — adam @ 7:22 pm

Basically, a window in the background can hijack a popup from a window in the foreground, and you won’t know about it.

HOWEVER – the Firefox extension Spoofstick sees right through this, and is present on popups as well as regular windows. Spoofstick helps. Get it.

Choose the Blue

Filed under: — adam @ 12:06 pm

Choose the Blue is a search engine for finding which corporations gave how much to Democrats or Republicans.

I find it interesting that Shell is the only major gas company that gave more to the Democrats. Interesting that there’s even one…

Some ways to speed up your firefox

Filed under: — adam @ 11:51 am

Add sparklines to your php pages

Filed under: — adam @ 11:45 am

Sparklines are helpful, small (text-sized) mini-graphs invented by Tufte to enhance the information transfer rate in text pages. This is an open source PHP library to generate them.

Stem cell research without all the “babykilling”

Filed under: — adam @ 11:33 am

Chef ruins $$$$ truffle

Filed under: — adam @ 1:02 am


‘The arrival of the 850g fungus at Zafferano, the Italian restaurant in London’s Knightsbridge favoured by gourmand glitterati from Madonna to Bill Clinton, drew salivating admirers from Paris and Madrid.

Queues formed in search of the taste described by Cassini as “earthy, sexy and an aphrodisiac”, available at a cost of R6 600 per micro-sliced sprinkling.

But then head chef Andy Needham left the mushroom in a refrigerated safe for four days, taking the keys with him on holiday.’

Sleeping less may make you fat

Filed under: — adam @ 1:01 am

“People who habitually slept for 5 hours were found to have 15% more ghrelin than those who slept for 8 hours. They were also found to have 15% less leptin. These hormonal changes may cause increased feelings of hunger, leading to a foraging in the fridge for food.”

Programmer claims he created a vote-rigging prototype

Filed under: — adam @ 1:00 am

Homeless Iraq vets are starting to show up at homeless shelters

Filed under: — adam @ 12:23 am

Yeah, this is going great.


Yushchenko was indeed poisoned

Filed under: — adam @ 11:58 pm

Small comfort

Filed under: — adam @ 6:39 pm

‘”Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to uparmour our vehicles?” Army Spc Thomas Wilson asked.’

‘”You go to war with the army you have,” Mr Rumsfeld replied, saying vehicle armour manufacturers were being exhorted to crank up production. Mr Rumsfeld added that vehicle armour might not provide total protection from the perils faced by soldiers in Iraq – such as roadside bombs. “You can have all the armour in the world on a tank and it can [still] be blown up,” Mr Rumsfeld said. ‘

Krugman on the Social Security “crisis”

Filed under: — adam @ 11:38 am

“Privatizing Social Security – replacing the current system, in whole or in part, with personal investment accounts – won’t do anything to strengthen the system’s finances. If anything, it will make things worse. Nonetheless, the politics of privatization depend crucially on convincing the public that the system is in imminent danger of collapse, that we must destroy Social Security in order to save it.”

Two very cool RSS applications

Filed under: — adam @ 11:35 am

Fresh Patents – subject-specific new patent feeds.

Hubmed – Search Pubmed, pick up a feed on all new articles matching the search.

For me, this seems like the kind of thing to use live bookmarks in firefox for instead of bloglines – you may want to follow something for a short time, then delete it.

I’m a total geek

Filed under: — adam @ 11:30 am

So a I got a piece of spam this morning, with the subject line:

“Spend X’mas with 1 U lOVE !!”

And my first thought was “cheap servers!”.


Cartoon skeletons

Filed under: — adam @ 11:29 am

The site’s been down for a few days, so I’m just posting this now.

They’re drawings of cartoon characters next to what their skeleton might look like.

Speaking of which, has anyone seen an actual Visible Frylock poster?

There’s also a mirror here, if the site’s hosed again:

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