Categories: "computer/tech"

Happy birthday, DBC

It was four years ago today that I was presumptuous enough to think the internet needed one more web site of personal yammerings. Danny's Blog Cabin was born on LiveJournal on May 30, 2003. Eight months later I moved to at the generous invitation of Brendan. It would be appropriate to stop and reflect on what we've all learned in the last four years, how much things and people have changed and what the fifth year and beyond might hold in store for this safe haven of personal expression and exploration. But instead of any of that crap, I'll post this picture of monkeys riding bicycles.

Starcraft 2

Blizzard has announced that they are working on a sequel to their classic sci-fi strategy game, Starcraft. They began development after the release of Warcraft 3: Frozen Throne, which was in January 2003. So, they've been working on it for four years! There's no release date yet, but it will be out for both Macs and PCs at the same time. You can watch trailers, see screenshots and read about some of the new units at the Starcraft 2 site. Starcraft is still my favorite video game. After their success with World of Warcraft, it's great to see Blizzard revisiting this game.

Penny Arcade has a theory about how Blizzard was able to keep this project under wraps for so long.

Danny on Google

I recently installed the AsonishMe Search Cloud plugin for my blog. Here's my search cloud (aka, Zeitgeist). It shows what search terms people most commonly use to find my blog. Clicking on the term takes you to the blog post that they found. Bigger terms have occurred more often. Hover your mouse to see how many times.

But the strange thing I noticed was that "danny" was one of the most common search terms that led people to my site. I searched Google for Danny to see how many pages I would have to go through to find my blog. It was number 2. Not page 2, but the second result on the front page. It puts me ahead of Danny DeVito, Danny Elfman and Danny Bonaduce. I tried Yahoo and found that I'm number 7 there.

This seems like a mistake. Search engines, you may want to adjust your algorithms.

If any authors want to have your search cloud added to your page, I can do it for you.

Gas Boycott

People, for the love of crap, if you get an email that sounds too good or bad to be true, it probably is. Before you hit the forward button, do a quick Google search for the subject of the email and the word hoax. Or visit

Google search for gas boycott hoax
Gas boycott page on Snopes

Someone taped this gem to the breakroom door at work. I also got it in an email from an otherwise reasonable person. First of all, there's never been a one day gas boycott that dropped the price of gas by 30 cents. Second, if you just buy gas on another day, the monthly total sales won't be different at all. The only things that can drop the price of gas are an increase of supply or a (real) decrease in demand.

If you actually want to do something about gas prices, then use less gas. Bike, walk, carpool, don't travel as much or get a more efficient car.

EMI drops DRM in iTMS

Apple, inc and the record label EMI announced (EMI press release, Apple press release) this morning that they will begin offering songs in the iTunes Music store that have no digital rights management (DRM). If you're not familiar with DRM, here's a quick explanation. When you buy a 99 cent song in iTunes, you can play it on your computer and up to four more computers where your iTunes account is authorized. You also can only play the song on an iPod, so if you have bought some songs on iTMS and you get an mp3 player that's not from Apple, you can't play your songs. There's also a limit on how many cds you can burn from the music you buy. The idea is to prevent piracy, but the people who are willing to pay a dollar for a song are usually not the pirating type. They could have downloaded the entire album for free from BitTorrent if they wanted to pirate it. What usually happens is that DRM is an annoyance to law-abiding music purchasers.

EMI is offering DRM-free tracks on iTunes for a premium ($1.29), but they are higher quality (256K). I think the price is still too high, but this is a huge step in the right direction. You'll be able to do whatever you want with these files: email a song to friend, burn as many cds as you want, back them up, play them on any mp3 player and not worry about losing your investment if technology changes. Steve Jobs says that similar deals with other labels will follow and by the end of the year he hopes to have 50% of the iTMS catalog available DRM-free. This may be the beginning of the end for DRM. I've never bought songs from iTunes, but I may consider it now.

I mentioned DRM in a post almost two years ago. I linked to Cory Doctorow's great speech on the subject (still a good explanation of why DRM is terrible) and I hoped that Microsoft's forthcoming portable audio player wouldn't have an oppressive DRM. It does.

If you're wondering what artists this will include, here's a list of EMI artists.

Dancing Bananas is back

We've posted Episode 4 at the Dancing Bananas website. I also put all of the episodes on YouTube and moved the subscribe links to the sidebar. As always, you'll find links to the high quality version. We've recorded episode 5 and it should be out soon.

White House official Libby guilty

White House official Libby guilty (BBC) - A former key White House official, Lewis Libby, has been found guilty of obstruction of justice and perjury. Libby, ex-chief of staff to Vice-President Dick Cheney, faces a prison term of up to 25 years. He will be sentenced in June.

I wish this trial had been about the real issue, which is the outing of a covert CIA agent. I also wish that they could have gone after the people that told Libby to do this. Cheney was involved in this. I also thought that Robert Novak should have felt more heat than he did over this, but I guess some people are tougher to get than others. If they're willing to lie about something that they claim is not even illegal, is there really any reason to trust this administration about anything?

Attitude of Nature

Another interesting quote from the book I'm reading:

One major question needing to be examined is the general attitude of nature. A century ago there was a consensus about this: nature was ‘red in tooth and claw’, evolution was a record of open warfare among competing species, the fittest were the strongest aggressors and so forth. Now it begins to look different. The tiniest and most fragile of organisms dominate the life of the earth: the chloroplasts inside the cells of plants, which turn solar energy into food and supply the oxygen for breathing, appear to be the descendants of ancient blue-green algae, living now as permanent lodgers within the cells of ‘higher’ forms; the mitochondria of all nucleated cells, which serve as engines for all the functions of life, are the progeny of bacteria which took to living as cells-inside-cells long ago. The urge to form partnerships, to link up in collaborative arrangements, is perhaps the oldest, strongest and most fundamental force in nature. There are no solitary, free- living creatures; every form of life is dependent on other forms. The great successes in evolution, the mutants who have, so to speak, made it, have done so by fitting in with, and sustaining, the rest of life. Up to now we might be counted among the brilliant successes, but flashy and perhaps unstable. We should go warily into the future, looking for ways to be more useful, listening more carefully for signals, watching our step and having an eye out for partners.
-- Lewis Thomas, The Key Reporter (Autumn 1980)

Bill Gates totally insane, totally

Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine.
--Bill Gates in Newsweek

First of all, why is the world's richest man talking like a jr. high student? Like, I, like totally dare you to buy Vista, totally. Second, you couldn't do it once a month on a Windows machine because after the first month the computer has been crippled by spyware and can't connect to the web.

I'll admit that there are exploits for OS X and I'll admit that Vista is probably going to be more secure than Windows XP (it couldn't be much less secure). But come on! I've been running my Mac for 1.5 years with no antivirus program, no spyware remover and no problems. How many Windows users can say all three of those things? I hope that Vista turns out to be bulletproof and people can run it for more than a few months without feeling like they need to reinstall or toss their computer. But I'm not holding my breath. I'm not running out and buying Vista, either.

Does this make me a Mac bigot? I hope not. People should use whatever works best for them. But don't believe this crap about Windows being more secure than the Mac. In my experience it's just not true.

For web devs

Expired: View > Source
Tired: Web Developer Extension
Wired: Firebug 1.0

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