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Nov
30
2000
0 comments
Real world connection to a computer. It's not overly interactive yet, but what will we have when you can phone a computer and have it talk to you? This isn't your old-world voicemail system, navagating your bank account by punching series of keys to always hear the same woman's voice that has addressed you in the same way for the past decade. Talking is this computer's purpose, not just a frilly cover-up of a computerized back-end.



Nov
30
2000
0 comments
Maybe she had to wash her dog. Quite a large dog, too -- the steel washtub she had dragged to the middle of the driveway was large enough to fit a person or two.

Summer was ending. The leaves had started to change, and this would probably her last chance to work with water outdoors. Uncurling the hose, she started to fill the tub.

Her cordless phone distracted her. As I drove past, there was a river of water running down the driveway to the gutter. Lost in her conversation, she had turned slightly, the hose missing the nearly-empty tub by several inches.



Nov
27
2000
0 comments
I know what my Christmas present is going to be. I pointed it out and said "oooh!", so Grandma bought it for me.

I have three weeks to forget what it is. I can only keep it on the condition that I'm surprised when I open it on Christmas Day.



Nov
24
2000
0 comments
Crazy -- it's beginning to seem that the lack of a registered domain name makes you look like a second-class citizen. EVERYONE has their own domain name. Do I? Heck, no!

Several people have suggested that I register a domain name for the receipt site. I've even considered it for my own personal stuff, but is any of it really worth the cost of the name ($35/yr), plus paying a hosting service monthly so that your domain has a place to point to, without banners or popups? Yea, yes, you can swing free deals on domain names & hosting, but you get the same bad service that you get now.

The one thing that keeps me from it is this: Clicks. Net traffic doesn't originate from an easy-to-remember URL, unless you're printing it on businesscards or airing it in commercials. The receipt site wouldn't benefit from a domain name - 99% of all traffic comes from search engine clickthroughs, references from other sites, and people's bookmarks. Same with my personal site - it's webrings & the receipt site bringing visitors. A short URL doesn't make it easier for people to click on the link.

Unfortunately, you are "out of the loop" if you haven't bought your own domain name. Which reminds me -- I need to pick up a Swatch watch, an Esprit bag, parachute pants, and one of those little scooters.



Nov
24
2000
0 comments
Derek Is Reading:

SPACE: Battleground of the future? by LB Taylor, Jr.



Nov
24
2000
0 comments
Daily Condition:

in cd player: crystal method, vegas

my condition: bleh.



Nov
17
2000
0 comments
Where exactly does online fame come from? The guy from Bradlands was featured reviewing a website in some trade-rag I read, and the only credentials they listed for him is "webmaster of Bradlands." How about Jason Kottke? He seems to have some sort of fame-cloud around him as well. Heck, there were a bunch of blogs listed in the New Yorker, and you know what? I've read most of them before.

I haven't figured out yet how writing a blog can create fame. Is a brief paragraph every day or so on the topic of one's own daily life really lend credentials of a celebrity? Or, where else does online fame come from? You got Shawn Fanning, sued for writing a piece of software, he's famous, but nobody knows anything about him personally. The creator of Hampsterdance entertains a new person multiple times a second, but is rarely ever referred to by name. I'm famous for being Derek with the receipts, but there's nothing famous about Derek Dahlsad. We all did something to acquire our various levels of renown.

It may be possible that, in the fragmented online world, famous bloggers are filling a gap -- people who are famous for themselves, not for what they do. It may not be neccesary to wonder what these bloggers 'Do' when they're not dropping hints at their daily activities, since there are plenty of us who make it perfectly clear about what we do, wether or not you know who we are.

What sets apart one blog from another? Graphics quality is definitely significant, but who is to say if that's a yardstick for measuring quality of a blog. The content of the blogs is rarely remarkable. Most of it is a link and an opinion of the link. There's no comunication - it's distincevly one-sided for being the product of an interactive world. What creates that spark, the connection which gets a blog repeat traffic & the badge of celebrity?

You know what? I haven't written an editorial in a long time, yet my brainlogs get longer and longer.



Nov
17
2000
0 comments
Derek Recommends:

venue:M&J Brand Saloon, Fargo ND

They had a cover band, 24Seven playing, there were few patrons in the place, and everyone was just enjoying themselves. I like dives better than popular bars.

(I think that's their link)



Nov
11
2000
0 comments
"An absolutely brilliant and succinct description of large social processes.", according to Tom Jennings (a man rapidly becoming my new hero).

Back to the first link, the snippet on social systems. I see the pattern described as repeating fractally in today's society; I have experienced it everywhere from my dead BBS, the various places I've worked, and the receipt site. Not only negatively, mind you, but the structure of classes & leaders within classes & leaders, nested structures created by the association of people.



Nov
9
2000
0 comments
Hey -- you know what? I like the Electoral College!

The Electoral College means that your vote counts MORE the FEWER voters there are in your state!

For instance:

Out of all the voters in the state, you get the same number of electoral votes cast. So, if only 10% of the population votes, boom, same number of electoral votes. only 1%? Same number of votes.

Let's say in California, only 1,000,000 people vote, but 2,000,000 people across Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, and North Dakota vote. Does that mean our piddly empty states have more weight than one of the largest & most populous states in the US? No matter what we think, this is still a Republic of states: We elect representatives, who are counted based on the population they represent, not the people who make the most noise.

Some people say "kill the electoral college!" Well, those people are the ones who think that their vote doesn't count. It's propoganda which tells us that the electoral votes erase our popular vote. To eliminate the electoral college means that only the people who vote are represented.

Come on, you whiners who say "if you don't vote, you don't have any right to complain." Well, our nation is founded on the idea that EVERYONE has the right to representation -- declining to vote, for whatever reason, doesn't mean you're exempt from the basic rights afforded by the Constitution. Non-voters still have the right to be represented.

Unfortunately, by not voting you effectively cast your ballot as whatever the majority of the voters is. They call them 'polling stations' for a reason -- they are looking for a broad cross-section of society, to determine what the majority is. Everyone knows how surveys work: you get 20% of the population, figure out what they think, and reliably attribute that statistic to everyone. Same with voting - the electoral college applies the cross-section of voter opinion to every citizen, regardless if they voted or not.

So, you voters who think you're popular vote doesn't count -- consider that, if you're part of the majority in your state, that all the nonvoters essentially voted the same as you.

Those of you in the minority, well, in this government of the people, by the people, and for the people, the Electoral College still represents ALL people, not just voters. Stop whining.



Nov
7
2000
0 comments
Derek Recommends:

format: scripted programming languages

Kottke mentioned recently how object-based Flash 5 is way easier to understand than scripting in Flash 4 -- I must be a complete idiot, because OOP makes absolutely no sense to me. If I know what I want the computer do do, I'm going to tell it to do it. OOP seems a really round-about way of issuing commands to a computer.



Nov
7
2000
1 comment
Daily Condition:

in CD player: leftfield, rhythm & stealth - did you know it's got computer data on it, besides the music?

my condition: tired of the rain, tired of the cold, tired of early darkness & cloudy skies.



Nov
7
2000
0 comments
While Destiny toyed with her Classic Mac, I lay on the couch reading How Did We Find Out About Computers. After a while, Destiny's curiosity led her to read over my shoulder.

"Who's that?"

"Charles Babbage."

"Oh. Babididge?"

The next page: "What's that?"

"Babbage's calculator; sort of a computer, but made of wheels & levers."

"Oh. Like my computer? With wheels?"

A few pages later: "what's that?"

"A vacuum tube...it's...hmmm....."

Better than to describe it, with a few twists of a screwdriver I had the back off a 1950s-era portable record player, and handed it's single tube to Destiny. She turned it around in her hand: "sharp!" on examining the leads. I seated the tube back in it's socket, and turned it on so Des could see it glow.

We finished Asimov's book and moved on to other children's computer-books. I pulled more bits out of storage. I lifted the dustcover of my TRS-80, to show that we had one just like in the photo. Des marveled at the enormous computers of the 1960s, and I let her unravel 10' of tape off a discarded data-reel. An illustration was of a IBM 286 motherboard, so Des got to compare the picture to the real thing: "sharp!" on examining the soldered leads on the back of the board.

5-1/4" floppies, the inside of a hard drive, handfuls of ICs, Des played with it all.



Nov
4
2000
0 comments
I'm constantly waffling back and forth -- which is better? Should I buy cheap generic computer parts, since I'm going to upgrade them within a year anyways (which is around the time cheapo parts break anyways), or do I spend money on quality equipment to avoid headaches caused by quirky hardware?

My cheapo "all-on-the-motherboard" motherboard, with a MII-333 processor, prior to the motherboard crash seems slower than the Pentium 166 and Intel-brand motherboard that I fished out of the garbage behind an office building, which I installed until I can buy a new PC100-spec motherboard. I haven't had a single crash yet, no hardware incompatibilities, but Intel motherboards are expensive. Should I buy another $60 on a motherboard which will last me 10 months, or do I spend $150 for a quality motherboard and try to make it last?





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