Archive for August, 2004

Stamp Act

August 30, 2004

For those who missed it, it is now possible to design your own custom US postage stamps. For a rather significant premium, you can bid adieu to centuries of high-quality stamp art and tradition and forge ahead into a world where every letter is adorned with photos of Fido, Mom, Dad, the kids, or whatever you darn well please within the bounds of legality.

Treading into the territory of philatetic heresy, I say: Go for it. Vive la difference!

A sheet of 20 self-adhesive 37-cent stamps costs $16.99. Check out Stamps.Com for details.

RSS and me, me, me

August 30, 2004

I’d like to see RSS aggregators with a search-like relevance ranking capability built in to make the RSS experience truly about me, the reader.

By itself, RSS gets me partly to the customized information content experience since I only subscribe to feeds I like. But current aggregators are dropping useful information on the floor that could otherwise be used to better deliver a custom experience to me. For example, the aggregator knows which headlines I select and also which full articles I decide to visit having first read the item summary. Why not run some algorithms in the background and use that information to rate future news items in each feed based on my prior reading habits?

Or, at the very least, let me specify some keywords or other search terms to be used to filter the items in each of my subscribed feeds?

Aselin Debison

August 18, 2004

Aselin Debison’s album notes claim she is one of the fastest rising stars Canadian music has ever produced. I guess I’ve been living under a rock because I’d never heard of her and the album was released in 2002.

She’s from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. The sound ranges from pop to folk and the subjects from music to the history of Cape Breton. My favorite selection is a medley of Somewhere over the Rainbow and What a Wonderful World. Check it out on her website under the Music section — audio for the entire album is there.

As an extra treat, Natalie MacMaster plays fiddle on several songs on this album. Can’t get enough of that Cape Breton fiddling.

By the way, the prime minister of Canada apparently hailed her as “the next Celine Dion,” which I find incredibly insulting — to Aselin, of course. Ms. Debison’s music is already much more varied and interesting — and she was only 12 years old when she recorded this album.

Give it a listen.

Semper Fi

August 12, 2004

My brother is deploying to Iraq today as part of the 3rd Light Armored Recon Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment. He’s a major, 41 years old, four kids.

Semper Fi, Carl. I’m very proud of you.

eXPletive Repeated

August 7, 2004

I’ve twice now had instances where applications launched from one user account under Windows XP pop up their UI on the desktop of another user account. That is, one clicks to start the app and nothing appears to happen. However, if you log out and then log in under another user account, the application will be up and running there. At a minimum this is a pain in the ass. At worst, it is a showstopper unless you figure out what is going on.

This was bad enough the first time when nothing at all appeared to happen and the entire app was running elsewhere. This last time, the main UI came up okay under my account, but a subsequent login dialogue window came up under another user account. Perhaps this second dialogue was controlled by a separate process. In any case, I thought the app was broken in some weird way until I happened to mention it to a colleague who had also had this problem and he suggested I hunt for the dialogue under the other user accounts on the machine.

This is such pathetically broken and amateurish behavior that I wouldn’t know where to begin a real rant on this topic.

By the way, it appears that if the account under which you want the app to run is the first account that is logged in after a reboot, then the problem goes away. Thanks, Stephen, for that good advice.

Anyone else out there seen this problem?

Blue Moon

August 5, 2004

Ask someone what a Blue Moon is and they’ll probably tell you it’s the second full moon in a single month. Well, it turns out that this definition resulted from an error in Sky & Telescope magazine in 1946 and it has since propagated widely. Richard Dawkins would be proud of this meme. So, while you might find this definition in a dictionary today, it isn’t actually correct.

Usually, there are twelve full moons each year — three per season. In years where there are thirteen full moons, the Blue Moon is the third full moon in the season containing four full moons.

See this article for more details and a description of why the Blue Moon is the third of four full moons.