April 01, 2003

Retrospective - 2003/03

In March, there was a cooling in my attitude to the war. You may recall that in February the blog posts were strongly anti-war. The same thing occurred at the start of march with posts like Bombs Away and the ever popular Singalong. These posts were quickly followed by more moderate posts like UK vs France and even a pro-US stance in 51st What. Finally you have the anti-protester post.

There was the usual Anti-Microslosh stuff in MCSE: Why Bother?, 101 Dumbest Moments in Business and the catch phrase which got a lot of reuse in All Together Now.

The very first whinge about public schooling appeared - a forerunner of a long-running saga.

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March 31, 2003

Tale of Three Cards

These are all true stories that have occurred in the last couple of months. Guess which institution you should be dealing with?

Alfred (not his real name) had a credit card with a big bank (which bank?). He noticed some strange transactions on his bill so he gives the bank a call. They advise him that he is unidentifiable and so he trots into a local branch the next day at the start of his lunch break. He is still there at the end of his lunch break and most of his afternoon tea (1 hour, 15 minutes). He gets to make a "stat dec" and is then sent home with the assurance that the bank will contact him about the matter and he should pay the several thousand dollars anyway pending a better solution. Three weeks later and nothing has happened but he is dreading the next bill.

Belinda (not her real name) has a credit card with a big shopping chain (which may be affiliated with the bank above). Belinda decides to give her hubby a subsidiary card and gets the paperwork. When she starts to fill in the bit about her card number she realizes that she can't find the card. After a full scale search involving at least a platoon of willing assistants, she calls the emergency number of the credit card people. After a bit of discussion they admit that in fact her card was suspended about three weeks ago because someone (a retailer where she had used the card) found it and sent it in. To organize another card, she would have to call again during business hours. Belinda's number one question was "When were you going to tell me about this?" and the response was "If you needed the card, you would have got in touch with us".

Charlie (not his or her real name) has a credit card with a credit union. They noticed some suspicious character was generating sequences of bogus credit card numbers and realized that the sequence would run into Charlie's number in the near future. Charlie being OS (Overseas) they got in touch with the local contact provided by Charlie, passed on the news and provided a method for Charlie to have the card cancelled (and a new one issued) before there was any problem. For such superb service they can obviously be named as the NSW Teachers Credit Union. I reckon they deserve the equivalent of an Oscar for customer service.

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March 29, 2003

You look familiar...

Tonight's story was overhead in a restaurant in Coogee. At the next table were a couple of sportsmen - one an Aussie, one a Kiwi swapping stories about overseas trips representing their respective countries. The Aussie told a story about a swanky restaurant in the USA where the tables were arranged in rows and filled from one side of the room to the other (I remember something similar in Germany/Austria). The entire Aussie team were seated along one side of the table with a couple of Kiwi mates at the end furthest from the door. They were all indulging in a bit of the amber nectar when a well built (chubby) fellow slipped in opposite them and started sliding along the bench to the end.

As he sat down the first Aussie said: "Gday mate, you look at bit familiar". As he slid along the next one said "Oweryagoin Oright? I seen you before somewhere". And so it continued with each Aussie professing some faint glimer of recognition but not particularly concerned with identification until the stranger drew level with the first Kiwi who said: "Hang on, I reckon you're on the television". The second Kiwi agreed: "Ain't you that Drew Carey bloke?"

Says something about the Australian sportsman. A mere tv celebrity and comic is nothing to get excited about. Not like say scoring a goal (= touchdown for Americans? or is that a putdown?).

Of course I know a Kiwi who will also point out the relative intelligence of the Kiwi who at least knew who the stranger was but I also didn't mention that the dinner was to celebrate beating the Kiwis in an exhibition match :rofl

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It can be hard being a teacher. I think one of the features of being a teacher is having certain assurance of your own weaknesses. As a part time teacher I am always horribly aware of my own inability to spell. I am terrified that I will write something wrong on the board or misspell something in an exam (or sometimes that I will leave a out). As a side effect, I have this desire to correct other people's spelling (and grammar) sometimes.

Take this protester (source - email from friend - if this is your image, I am happy to acknowledge it...):


Doesn't it look a bit better corrected:


Of course, "Me a Moron" should be "I am a moron" but the assumption here is that this gentleman's grammar will be equivalent to his spelling.

It would be worse if it turns out that he is a teacher :grin

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March 27, 2003

Scott McNealy

On Tuesday I had the pleasure of attending a brunch, hosted by the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce, as a guest of Sun Microsystems Australia. The guest speaker was Scott McNealy, Chairman and CEO of Sun Microsystems Inc.

The topic was about the future of the IT industry which at times was compared to both the phone industry and building your own airplane. Scott was pushing the point that the IT industry has "got it all wrong". The customer is not interested in the parts, they want a solution where the parts are hidden beneath a "blanket". The idea is to outline the solution and assume that the blanket can handle the implementation. Certainly this may be the future but there are a lot of assumptions about both how and when such a vision can occur.

Show "Scott McNealy" »

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March 26, 2003

Hackers vs Microsloth

The Register has some more information about the Microsoft vs Hackers advert that was withdrawn in South Africa (because it was misleading).

Here's a nickel....

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Flame Wars...

On MacSlash there was an article about the fact that Adobe has decided to publish some PC vs Mac benchmarks to demonstrate that the PC is faster for some tasks that a Mac. The reason for interest in the claim is that it coincided with Adobe promoting the sale of DELL PCs. The suggestion was that perhaps the choice of what benchmarks to publish may have been influenced by commercial realities.

This rapidly degenerated into a flame war between PC and Mac bigots each trying to claim that either they had a "bigger one" or "wider one" or "faster one" or "more handsome one" or something.

Show "Flame Wars..." »

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March 25, 2003


Apple have apparently announced that there will be no more seed releases of Safari. This is because some of those who have signed NDA are making the seed releases available to the public. As a result, there will be no information about the newer developments, nor will there be a chance to test the new features.

I have not received copies from Apple but I have downloaded a copy from the internet. It does have the frequently requested tabs BUT it is not as stable as the official public beta. In fact it has a bad habit of consuming lots of memory and hanging. There are still some issues with the GUI, especially around the menu bar. It still doesn't appear to know how to tunnel https through a normal proxy server.

Oh well. Here's hoping there will be a more stable public beta at some point.

Last night, at the WWDC promo in Sydney, all the web pages in the demonstrations were shown in IE. I had almost forgotten how ugly that browser was after using Safari so much.....

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March 24, 2003

Is it a joke?

The election is over and the Labor government has been reinstated for another four years. More corruption, more incompetance, more dishonesty. Still there wasn't much in the way of decent competition, especially given the cash that Labor spent on advertising and promotion. I think the late arrival of the "back to school" funding (which arrived at the same time as the first lot of Labor propoganda) was probably deliberate - here's $50 bucks, vote for us so that we can destroy the schools, hospitals and police for anmother four years.

I also can't believe how many people voted for free drugs and bush fires. There were more who wanted to be high while being burnt to a crisp than there were Christians prepared to take a moral stand.

Well, I believe it was said that a people get the government they deserve - I just wonder what on earth we could have done so wrong to get this lot again.

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March 23, 2003

Talk about popular...

The Crazy Apple Rumors Site ran a fantastic spoof after Al Gore joined the board of Apple. The spoof claimed that George W Bush was challenging the vote (a la Florida). The article was picked up and run by a number of other sites (some of whom did not realise it was humour). It also featured in 'Apple Hot News' which is a fantastic achievement for a rumour/humour site.

As a result, the bandwidth to the site appears to have been overloaded and the most recent posting suggests that the authors are having a "spring break". On the other hand, maybe the spring break is due to the recent visit to the zoo and some excitement that may have occurred there ...

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March 22, 2003

Well I never...

After all that careful research, I got to the polling booth and found another candidate. You could have knocked me down with a feather. No mention in the papers, no junk in the mailbox, no doorknocking, no flyers on poles - absolutely no publicity for the UNITY candidate.

Well that reflects in the current vote count (as at 8pm, 16,500 votes counted) and the UNITY candidate is running at about one third of the Informal candidate who is running neck and neck with the independant and the democrat.

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March 21, 2003


Ever wondered what some of those symbols mean? You know, the symbols that are used as "universal" pictograms that replace words. Everyone recognises the one that says put red electrical tape over and around anyone who smokes....
Well a helpful site has put up the explanations for all the new icons that are used to explain terrorism. My favourite has to be the one for "Don't run if you set yourself on fire" which looks like this:


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Bad Publicity?

There's an old saying about there being no such thing as bad publicity. Well all the papers and newsites are full of stories about something we can't discuss. As per Basil's advice - "we won't mention the war".

All this alternate news is distracting from the publicity seeking Microslash so they have announced a brand new vulnerability that affects all versions of Windows. It is a real humdinger - highly critical involving malicious web sites and emails and everything. The only solution is to patch everything or $buy$ newer software which doesn't have THIS bug (lots of others included for future publicity and enjoyment).

What was that item a few days ago? Here's a nickel son, buy yourself a real computer.

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March 20, 2003

Politics vs Schools

Most people are aware that there is some discrepancy between the results of public (government funded) and independant (partially government funded) schools. Thanks to the NSW Teachers Federation the size of the gap is not known but as a parent I am firmly convinced that independant schools will be more effective for my children. You may or may not agree but what is interesting is the degree of support for independant schools (and freedom of choice for parents) provided by the various parties standing for election on Saturday.

Note that currently the state government does contribute to the cost of education of all children. This is primarily directed at public schools but a student in a non-government school is currently funded to 25% of the amount commited to a government school. In other words, if you send your child to a non-government school, the state government will spend less money on your child.

Six of the parties were asked four questions:
1. Will you continue to fund students at 25%?
2. Will you maintain interest rate subsidies for approved building loans?
3. Will you increase the grants for disabled students (up to the 25% level)?
4. Will you maintain the independant authority of the "Board of Studies"?

The answers (based on stated policies and formal advice from the relevant individual) appear below along with the name of the spokesperson and a quick score. An answer of Yes scores 1, No scores 0, any hesitation or reservation costs a half point. Increasing the funding gains a point.

Labor (J.A. Watkins): Yes, Yes, Not sure, Yes (3.5)
Liberal/National (B.R. O'Farrell): Yes, Yes, Not sure, Yes (3.5)
Greens (J Kaye): No, Yes but will review, No, No (0.5)
Aust. Democrats (A. Chesterfield-Evans): Yes, Yes, Yes, No (3.0)
Christian Democrats (G. Moyes): Yes (incr to 30%), Yes, Yes, Yes (5.0)
One Nation (D Oldfield): Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes (4.0)

Obviously there are other issues at stake but if you support independant schooling you should at least consider the Christian Democrats in the Senate. If you are against independant schooling feel free to vote for the Greens.

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101 Dumbest Moments in Business

For eveything under the sun there is somebody watching, collecting statistics and making lists. This one is the list of the 101 dumbest moments in Business for 2003.

The company we all loved to hate has 7 entries (more than any other single organization include MacDonalds). This includes entries #48, #49, #50, #51 which are all related to the promotion (demotion) of ".NOT". Entry #41 was related to the aborted campaign to spread graffiti all over New York to promote "MSN 8".

Entry #11:

Whiffed pitch No. 2: swiping your competitor's idea and completely screwing it up.
In an attempt to blunt Apple's (AAPL) "Switch" campaign, Microsoft posts a page on its website, titled "Confessions of a Mac to PC Convert," featuring a woman touting the Windows XP operating system. It's soon revealed, however, that the woman pictured is a model and the touting comes from a freelance writer paid by Gates & Co.

And the highest scoring entry for MicroSlosh is #5:

Celebrating the can-do spirit that continues to make American capitalism the envy of the world.
At a developers conference in September, Microsoft (MSFT) senior vice president Brian Valentine describes the state of the art in OS security: "Every operating system out there is about equal.... We all suck."

Speak for yourself Brian!

Also worthy of comment at #31 is the "Dude! You're getting a Cell!" episode.

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March 19, 2003

Beating the English

Oh well, there goes another sporting loss for the UK. From Column 8 in the SMH today:

Once again, Oz has thrashed the Poms at one of their national sports. Mike Dobbie, ex-Wahroonga, and his wife, Ruth Arkell, ex-Woy Woy, witnessed an Australian team win the 19th World Pooh-Sticks Championship, held at a lock on an Oxfordshire stretch of the Thames on Sunday. "Admittedly the A. A. Milne-invented activity is more of a game than a sport," says Mike, "nonetheless, it was great to see the Southern Cross flapping in the Mother Country's breeze."
The skill-filled contest involves dropping a stick from a bridge over a river and seeing how fast it travels. The Oxfordshire lock is not the original Pooh-Sticks bridge where Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin played - it all started in Ashdown Forest, east Sussex.

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404 Not Found

Moveable Type have a system where users who have paid (donated) money for the software get listed in a "recently updated" section on the main page. This is a great way to find other blogs and explore the net.

There was an interesting site that I stumbled across last night: Zapology - blogging for attention deficient which in turn had a link to a great 404 page error (please read the error carefully).

I remember reading about how to do real 404 pages (and other smart stuff) in apache but I could never complete anything as witty as this one.

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All together now...

Apparently someone has found yet another exploit when you use Windows for real work on the Internet. First use of the exploit was in the .mil domain.

All together now ....

1 ...

2 ...

3 ...

Here's a nickel son, get yourself a real computer! (from Dilbert)

Could be a Mac, could be Linux, could even be a Sun box - just stop running toy systems in the real world. Cool for games, and fiddling but uncool for the military.

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Keynote and RSS

Just found a couple of references to a great idea. This is one of those things that is just so obvious but only after someone thinks of it ....

First there is an article at MacSlash , then a mention on inessential.com and finally what seems to have started the ball rolling is at Radio Weblogs .

Basically the two suggestions that jump out at me are the use of NNW and Keynote (which I can then drive from my mobile phone thanks to Clicker ) AND the idea of a Baysian filter to find more stuff like what I already read . That sounds like a great replacement for the daily paper (especially given that my local daily papers don't have RSS feeds).

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March 18, 2003

War Bits and Pieces

This image (from the SMH) sort of sums up the attitude of most people I have spoken to:


In another article the SMH reports that He [GWB] promised the Iraqi people: "The day of your liberation is near." Is that the day Saddam is defeated or the day when the US pulls out?

I guess that we will also have to declare war on all the other nations with weapons of mass destruction (USA, UK, France, USSR, China etc) and those who have a history of killing their own people (including the unborn?).

Actually, I think I have made my feelings clear and like one of my favorite sites I am going to try to avoid saying anything further about the war. Basically it is a tragic mistake and there is nothing I can do or say that will change it.

Expect more exciting news about the one horse local elections instead :-)

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Legal Support

The SMH has a very long article about containing snippits about the war. Normally I don't quote articles directly but in this case the relevant part is quite short:

Legal case for war dubious, warns Clark
The United States and Britain were unlikely to find legal support for an attack on Iraq, New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark said today. They would "stretch back through a string of UN resolutions to construct a legal edifice for what is happening", she said. "I think they will fail to convince most international lawyers. I think the lawyers will argue about this until kingdom come."

I can solve the problem. Any lawyers who don't support the legal case for the war can be sent to the front. Won't be any problem getting legal support in that case ....

[HINT FOR HUMOUR IMPAIRED: No I do not agree with the war - see the song below and earlier articles - I am pointing out the silliness of haggling about the legality/illegality of a war that should not happen.]

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