CamWorld: Thinking Outside the Box
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 December 2000 
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Sunday, December 31, 2000

I just killed a day playing the demo of Oni. I also played a couple hours of Rune. Gaming has come a long way since I last played regularly.

Some obvious predictions for 2001 (off the top of my head):

  • The Pentium 4 chip will be a dud
  • Mozilla will finally release a 1.0 version
  • Linux will become more mainstream
  • Apple's stock will rebound, as will other tech stocks that make up the heart of NASDAQ
  • The dot-com market will continue to shake out
  • The BigWebShops (iXL, Sapient, etc.) will continue to bleed money, but more importantly, lose their good employees to smaller companies that are better managed
  • USInteractive will go out of business
  • We will see more focus on content management in the web industry, and less focus on the flashy, interactive crap that passes for web sites today

Ryan's British TV Show Reviews.

If you're looking for information about British TV shows, you'll likely find it here. Wow. Loads of links.

Saturday, December 30, 2000

I am way behind in answering email. Like six weeks behind. If you have contacted me and it requires a response, please email me again.

In the three and a half years I've been doing CamWorld, I realize that there are days when I post many excellent links and commentary, and that there are also days when I'm off and don't post much at all. As a year-end celebration, I'd love to get some feedback from my readers about what days were especially good. If enough people send in suggestions about which days were good, I'll compile a list for everyone to see. This will also help my new readers catch up on some of the links and commentary that they might have missed but are buried in the archives.

If the existing security issues in Microsoft Windows are a potential national security risk, then I can only imagine the problems Microsoft will face with .NET, which is a true distributed application framework -- that is, an application platform that takes advantage of the network abilities found in today's modern software. Whether or not this direction in software development is a good thing is hotly arguable. I'll say what I always say: the market will ultimately decide. No product or service, no matter how well it's advertised, will succeed if the consumers don't want it or perceive it to be unsafe.

This paper about Conceptual User Interface design ranks right up there with the Rational Unified Process (read this) in the list of bad ideas in web technologies and software development. [Link via SVN]

Yay! Megnut went minimal! People with slow modems and old computers, seeking information (not graphics) love you!

Thursday, December 28, 2000

The NY Times has a good article about Blogger and weblogs.

On Christmas Eve back in Michigan, I spent easily 45 minutes trying to explain to my mother what exactly it is that I do for a living. I have this exact same conversation with her every time I go back to see the family, and each time I am reminded at how complex computer technology is and how those of us who have been immersed in it tend to take what we know for granted. My older brother Craig (not Craig Barrett, the CEO of Intel) tells me he visits this site pretty regularly but admits that much of what I link to is way over his head. This from a guy who changes semi-truck tires for a living. And this gets me to thinking about how we all are going to use today's emerging technologies in the future. For instance, I would never consider building a new house without stringing 100-BaseT between the walls to every room, yet in rural Michigan where my family lives, thousands of houses are built every year without this consideration even being talked about. I think it's a matter of perspective. I realize the future potential of such a simple procedure because I see it from my technologically-adept point-of-view. But I also understand that such technology is slow to come to places like northern Michigan. On college campuses, administrators realized early on that wiring the dorms with ethernet was a smart move, and has raised a whole new crop of graduates who expect broadband Internet connectivity to be the norm. In places like Austin, Texas and the Bay Area, we're seeing new apartment complexes springing up that have a broadband LAN and a fast connection to the Internet.

Friday, December 22, 2000

Updates to CamWorld will be sporadic over the next few days as Damien and I are traveling back to the land of 10-foot snowbanks (Michigan) to be with our family for the Christmas holiday. I'm not sure what I'm doing yet for New Years, but will be back in New York. If you want to to invite me to some cool New Years parties, feel free to send me an invitation. cracked by credit-card thieves. I'm not really surprised to learn they're using IIS as their server, even though I recognize that Unix-based servers have as many security holes.

The creator of "Schoolhouse Rock" has died. His genius will be missed.

Advogato: If you combine cron and procmail, what might you end up with?

Advogato: The Demon of Portability. Excellent look at the problem the Linux market faces with competing GUI standards.

Ken Coar: Ken's Musings

"Curious George W. was a happy little monkey..." Oh my, I am laughing my ass off. This is freaking hilarious!

NYC Department of Consumer Affairs: Visitor Tips For Shopping at NYC Electronics Stores

Wow. I just found the most amazing site called It takes all the weekly sales specials from the various large chains and groups them together, so that you can quickly compare sales prices for DVD players, HDTVs, Apple computers, and more. [Links are for NY State]

Thursday, December 21, 2000

There are some good papers from the latest HFWeb Conference held back in June:

Johns Hopkins: Center for Talented Youth: Study of Exceptional Talent

Office Jesus Will Work Miracles for Food

Sun Microsystems to Ship Java 2 Platform, Micro Edition (J2ME) for Palm Powered Handhelds Jef Raskin on Alan Cooper

The Microsoft Windows Guidelines for Accessible Software Design: Creating Applications That Are Usable by People with Disabilities

What is the All Terrain Viewer?

MSDN: Designing Accessible Applications

Netscape White Paper: The Networked Enterprise White Paper

User Interfaces: Survey Information and Thoughts

iPlanet: Reusable Routines for Server-Side JavaScript

Wednesday, December 20, 2000

The New Methodology [of software development]

WebTechniques: Getting it Together

Bill Gates urges the FCC to force AOL to open up their Instant Messaging protocol. Why? so Microsoft can move into this market and dominate it as well? Sheesh. Long live Jabber.

Tim O'Reilly: Remaking the Peer-to-Peer Meme

Is Flash 99% Bad? [via]

There are some new screenhsots for Eazel. They remind me a lot of what Apple is doing with Aqua.

Tuesday, December 19, 2000

Mozilla, the porn browser?

Economist: Browser Wars, Part Two

FTrain: Silicon Alley Update

Remember Now there's

Monday, December 18, 2000

I want a real Star Trek phaser for Christmas.

Why you should consider writing your web pages in XHTML, not HTML

Uncle Sam: I AM THE BOSS OF YOU Poster Project

Hey, redesigned. I liked the old design better, but the new design is OK.

Industry Standard: Inside the Cult of Kibu

My co-workers think I'm crazy because I don't like sushi. So today, for lunch, I ordered Chicken Katsudon instead. Boy, was that a mistake. My stomach has been churning for hours...

Slashdot: Why Software Still Sucks. Read this Upside article first.

Coin flip decides election winner. This story is cool because I went to high school just up the road from Fife Lake, Michigan.

The End of SSL and SSH? Hmmm...

Good Experience: It's Time to Simplify the PC

Sunday, December 17, 2000

We had our New York Christmas party on Friday. While it wasn't as cool as the San Francisco party, it turned out OK. Towards the end of the party, we all went one floor down and crashed the Giorgio Armani party (in the same building). The SF party also had a short write-up that got picked up by the Associated Press. Cool!

I have a really hard time picking Christmas gifts for my family. Every year I always have to call my mom and sisters and ask what everyone wants. If I didn't do this I'd probably end up getting everyone the same thing: like cell phones or something. The problem here is that they all live in rural Michigan where cell phone service is spotty at best -- and what would my 9-year old nephew and 12-year old niece do with cell phones? See the problem?

Friday, December 15, 2000

I think this is a joke. Is it?

Another reason to like Cisco. They were the only company to actually read the RFC prior to endorsement, and then "only on April 1."

Guess the Dictator and/or Television Sit-Com Character

Jeffrey Zeldman on site maintenance. Darwin Continues Open Source Evolution

Ha ha! Vignette to Replace Presidential Front-Runners with Story Server

I learned an important lesson about online communities a few years back that has served me well. When someone criticizes you in public, whether it's online or not, it's often best to remain silent and ignore that person. The kinds of people who take pleasure in saying bad things about you and your character are often only seeking to provoke you, and want you to respond, therefore stroking their ego and making themselves feel more self-important. I've encountered a number of these people online and have argued with them on mailing lists, in public discussion forums and in conference hallways -- and almost every time I've come away asking myself why I even bother. These are people who like to stir up trouble, heckle speakers at conferences, interrupt presentations with poorly thought-out opinions, attack entire online communities that have intentionally left them out, post private email exchanges to their public web sites, break NDAs, invite themselves to your parties, and generally make asses of themselves without realizing it due to an over-inflated ego or misguided sense of self-importance. You know who these people are, and I know who these people are. The best tactic is simply to ignore them, and maybe they'll go away.

The latest TIME Magazine cover.

Damn it people. I don't want to have to report your somewhat legitimate emails as spam, but you're giving me no choice. I don't care for your offers to trade links, share traffic, or boost clickthroughs. I don't care that you think you're being nice by actually sending me a piece of unsolicited email that isn't quite spam, but is some kind of offer for products, services, or link sharing. If you got my email address from some directory somewhere instead of directly from me, there's a good chance that I don't want you to email me -- and your email will be reported as unsolicited email and your account may be terminated by your ISP.

Monday, December 11, 2000

Flash-based design does not equal web design, no matter how whizzy and flashy you make it. When creating Flash designs for the web, remember that it is a presentation-based format, not a text-based/data-based format. Flash is an excellent technology that works well as a component of web design, but not as a wrapper for your site's content unless said content is best suited to be displayed in a presenation form (i.e. portfolios, 3D renderings, product cut-aways, complex data charts, etc.). Until web designers realize that Flash is not the end-all solution to their web design problems, we're going to continue to see the Flash technology be mis-used.

You gotta love Canadian World Domination!

New bookmark: Media Inspiration

SJ Mercury News: Bill Portelli on Open Source

Upside: Can VA get out of hot water?

Mozilla has reached version 0.6, which is based on the Netscape 6 branch of the source code.

Lucian Millis just alerted me to his weblog about information design, web usability, and user experience. Looks good so far.

More and more DSL horror stories are hitting the press. How soon before everyone realizes that the problem isn't the technology itself? The problem the relationships between the large phone companies (who run the DSL networks) and the DSL resellers.

Linux Journal on Mac OS X: First Impressions

Sunday, December 10, 2000

Back in New York. After taking a car service from the airport to my apartment in Brooklyn, I dropped by bags and immediately took a shower to remove the "airplane cooties". If you travel a lot, you know what I mean.

So, now I'm relaxing on the couch. The TV is on for background noise. Somehow the channel landed on the Cartoon Network where some bad Flintstones movie was on. I asked Damien, who had the remote, why it was on this channel and he responded "That's where it landed." That's when I realized that it would be really cool to hack a TV remote so that it had a "Random" button that you could push to get a random channel. Surely much better and more fun that surfing up and down the channel array. I'm sure some hardware geek has done this. Send me links!

Whoo! I'm gettin' me an Auto Hammer!

I'm sorry, but some ideas are just wrong.

The large telephone conglomerates aren't going to get away with it much longer. BellSouth was recently found guilty of discriminatory practices. And you can bet that the other Baby Bells (RBOCs) are doing the exact same thing. As a consumer, I just want better service. In fact, I just want the DSL I ordered in March, but don't have yet. And if I can't have that, then I at least want reliable service for the pathetic iDSL they mistakenly installed back in July.

Waferbaby Corner: nickd

Um, if you're getting 250,000 spam complaints a month, doesn't that clearly point to a serious problem with your company's policies towards spam? Spam is bad. Spam wastes more bandwidth every day than Flash ever will. Spam needs to be illegal. The only thing I can think of that's worse than more spam is Flash-based spam. Please, please, please -- let's not let it get that bad. Let's make spam illegal, and then enforce those laws.

Saturday, December 9, 2000

Alan Cooper's keynote yesterday was phenomenal. The guy simply can't say anything wrong when it comes to explaining interaction design and how it relates to the customer experience. I am so jealous that my old friend Elan now works there and gets to work with such an amazing team of people. If you haven't read Alan's books on user interaction design, you're missing out. I also met Sue Cooper, Alan's wife who is the CEO of their company. She is just as amazing as her husband. I told her about my interactive business card idea from a few years back and she asked if they could borrow it.

Just came back from a session with Mark Hurst from Creative Good. Excellent speaker. He was wearing a ShirtSignals long-sleeve shirt from 37 Signals. On Wednesday night, I wore my ePIMP shirt from ShirtSignals and had several people comment on it.

The session right before Mark's was all about cutting-edge and experimental graphic design on the web, as presented by Curt Cloninger, who was also an excellent speaker. In fact, I spent a few minutes in all three of the other sessions wondering where everyone was, only to walk into Curt's session to find it standing-room only. His session was the only one I saw at the entire conference packed like that. And he was wearing one of the new OBEY "Jakob Neilsen" shirts (I ordered mine last Monday).

The Christmas-light-in-a-box logo is back for the second year in a row. Last year I had several readers write in telling me that it looked too much like a dog getting aroused. Heh.

Friday, December 8, 2000

Yesterday was a good day. The sessions were rather boring, so I spent more time hanging out in the halls talking to people. Much better than listening to some really bad speaker who mumbles, gives bad information, and forgets to have a question/answer session at the end.

At the trade show, I won an IBM Workpad 3c (the IBM-branded Palm V) and my co-worker Matt won a couple grand worth of Adobe software.

More evidence the DSL market is falling apart because of anti-competitive practices by the large phone companies.

Thursday, December 7, 2000

While checking into the Hilton in New Orleans, I turned around only to discover Jeffrey Zeldman in line behind me. He's sounding horribly sick, so I hope he doesn't miss too much of the conference.

From the scarcity of people walking around the hotel this evening, I can tell that attendance is way down. I'm guessing that is a direct effect of so many dot-coms cutting back and going out of business recently.

HarvardNET just got out of the DSL business and cut 58% of their workforce. That's OK, because their service sucked anyway.

My old college buddy Aaron Draplin has finally embraced the web with a lot of me pushing him into it and doing the HTML for his site. You can read his musings about graphic design and music at Draplindustries.

I want to make it clear that I'm not involved in this little flare-up on the rss-dev list, though I am staying at the Hilton in New Orleans. With a little bit of guesswork, I'm pretty sure I know who this childish poster is. I've spent most of the day trying not to run into him in the halls at this conference.

Had a great lunch today with Jeffrey Zeldman, Dori Smith and Glenn Davis.

DSL in Distress.

Christopher Marsh has written an excellent resource for evaluating content management systems.

Tuesday, December 5, 2000

I'm off to Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. for two days to meet with a client. If you're in the area and want to get together for a quick dinner tonight, drop me a line. I'll also be in New Orleans from Thursday to Sunday for the Builder Conference. See you there.

WebStandards Project: Web Standards Project Applauds Netscape 6.0 as Milestone Toward a Standards-Based Web

Monday, December 4, 2000

This just in: HP has hired Bruce Perens. Whoah, interesting.

OK, I'm getting sick and tired of web sites that hijack your browser. The latest to do so is the official X-Files web site which uses the incredibly trite "browser earthquake" javascript to move the browser window around your monitor. Of course, all possible user interaction with the browser is disabled until the javascript is actually finished. You can't click stop. You can't click back. You can't even close the browser window or use the keyboard shortcuts. You are effectively locked into a disabled browser incident that breaks every browser usability rule and expectation known to man. My god, it's almost as bad as Flash. I went to this site to get the name of the actor who plays Agent Doggett, only to exit out as fast as possible -- heading straight over to IMDb. I just want information, folks. Is that too much to ask?

Related to the above rant is an article called Flash is Pretty Bad, which outlines some rules starry-eyed Flash-loving designers can follow to use Flash appropriately in their sites.

LinuxLookup: Shell Prompt Customization

Linux Journal: Mozilla Browser Suite

Create your own Red Meat comic strips.

InformationWeek: The Case For Open Source

A funny picture.

The source of endless teasing, I'm sure...

Salon: Free Photoshop For the People

New Book: Don't Make Me ThinK: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability

Sunday, December 3, 2000

Watching X-Files tonight, I realized that it would be pretty cool if a future episode has an X file that involved a Liquid Metal Guy (T-1000 Cyborg), the very character Robert Patrick played in Terminator 2. And with James Cameron doing TV now, an episode directed by him might not be out of the question.

A good friend of mine is addicted to Teen NBC on Saturday mornings. You know, all those young adult shows with pretty actors and plot lines that have strong underlying morals. These shows, while entertaining, are pretty awful and clearly targeted at a teen audience. But, that's my adult perspective, and I didn't realize it until my friend pointed out that these shows like City Guys and One World are simply this generation's version of the shows I grew up with like Diff'rent Strokes and The Facts of Life, which I imagine my parents and older siblings saw as silly and awful. Open Source vs. Commercial Software Development

Java Developer's Journal: Java and Creeping Open Source

I guess what bothers me the most about this whole U.S. election nonsense, is that neither candidate has said anything about what they'll do if the economy takes a large nosedive next year, as many experts are predicting. The government has tools in its arsenal that can combat a sinking economy and soften the blow for those who will be hit the hardest, but I worry a lot about how Bush and his Republican cronies will or will not react to such an economic downturn. Bush is the candidate supported by the rich, most of who will still be rich if the economy dives. Gore is the candidate for the masses, many of who will lose jobs, go bankrupt, and see hard times if the economy dives. So, if the U.S. economy does bottom out over the next four years, which Presidential candidate is the best equipped to handle it?

Rather shallow article comparing the interfaces of Mac OS X, Microsoft's .NET, and Eazel's Nautilus. Singing, "One of these things is not like the others..." Hint: It's not Unix-based.

Like any fast-growing company in the Internet sector, my employer is hiring lots of new employees. For the past 6-8 months, the quality of the candidates that we've been able to attract has been dismal at best -- until recently. I think because so many people have been getting laid off at dot-coms in New York City, we're starting to see more and more qualified candidates. But I also think that because we're in a hot field right now (open source) we're attracting the talent that we wouldn't normally get if we were just another dot-com play with misguided venture capital money.

O'Relly: Han's Top Ten JSP Tips

I don't understand how spammers can have the specific Yahoo address I use only for ecommerce purchases. I'm almost convinced that some of the online stores I frequent are selling their customer data to spammers in exchange for monetary funds or something. How else would this Yahoo account get into the spammer databases? I've long suspected that Microsoft sells its Hotmail data to spammers simply by the sheer amount of spam I get at those accounts. Furthermore, Yahoo accounts that I don't use for ecommerce purchases get no spam whatsoever. What's going on here? Can someone point me to any research done on this? Are ecommerce stores stooping so low as to sell their customer data to spammers and marketing firms? Followup: Some readers are suggesting that spammers are getting the account addresses straight from Yahoo.

Friday, December 1, 2000

Crap, it's December already.

The DSL provider market is falling apart. Fingers of blame point all the way back to the monopolies the large phone companies have. I ordered my DSL in April. It's now December. I now doubt I will ever get the DSL I ordered. And until I do, I refuse to pay for the pathetic max 16k/sec iDSL I have now (which is down 40-50% of the time anyway) that was installed by mistake because of a screwed up installation and ordering process. And people wonder why the market is falling apart. Customers aren't going to pay their bills if they're not getting good service. This travels all the way back up the chain, too. Unfortunately, it probably won't affect the phone monopolies because it's not them who are getting hurt, it's the DSL providers and middlemen who are being forced to lease the lines from the behemoth phone companies who are getting screwed. The cynic in me says that this is exactly what Bell Atlantic (ahem, Verizon) and other monopolies have had in mind since the start of the DSL market growth.

Please stop submitting the McDonald's chicken-fried head story. Any story this big will have already been covered by most other weblogs and news outlets.

The Revenge of the Library Scientist

2002: Nov | Oct | Sep | Aug | Jul | Jun | May | Apr | Mar | Feb | Jan
2001: Dec | Nov | Oct | Sep | Aug | Jul | Jun | May | Apr | Mar | Feb | Jan
2000: Dec | Nov | Oct | Sep | Aug | Jul | Jun | May | Apr | Mar | Feb | Jan
1999: Dec | Nov | Oct | Sep | Aug | Jul | Jun | May | Apr | Mar | Feb | Jan
1998: Dec | Nov | Oct | Sep | Aug | Jul | Jun | May | Apr | Mar | Feb | Jan
1997: Index of 1997

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