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12 May 1999

"Say 'What' again."
-- Jules (Samuel L. Jackson) being persuasive in Pulp Fiction

I wish everyone new to the Internet had just a teensy bit more skepticism than they do. Even many folks who've been on it for a long time should know better too:

  • E-mail about formerly lost child continues to generate calls [Minneapolis Star-Tribune, seen on Obscure Store]
    Last July, Christine Schmidt sent an e-mail to help find her missing 20-month-old daughter. Krystava was found safe and sound less than a day later, but there was no way to notify all those who may have read her mother's plea.

    Nearly 10 months later, the Mounds View Police Department continues to receive calls about the e-mail, which implored people to pass the message to "everybody you know on the Internet ... "

    "We get at least one call a day about the child," Frantes said. "It never goes away." hasn't prevented 911 calls from reaching dispatchers. But explaining to hundreds of people that Krystava is back with her mother takes time away from dealing with more pressing police calls.

Gah! Please, everybody, read these rules of thumb:

If you receive an e-mail telling you 'forward this to everyone you know!':

  1. Don't.
  2. See A.
  3. If you really think it's THAT important, do try and independently VERIFY the details of the message before spreading it around and lending it YOUR credibility. If it's about a missing child, are they still missing? If it's protesting a bill Congress might pass, what year was it sent? Is the bill still pending? If it's a virus alert, ask an expert to verify it.
  4. If you must send it, send it to only your closest circle of friends. Sending to everyone you can send to is quite widely frowned upon and is considered so rude as to invite ridicule. To be safest:
  5. Don't.
Well-meaning but mistaken people can cause immense havoc, and not just with mail servers, as demonstrated in the article above. Don't be a part of the problem.

Apple-invented standard makes good: There was an audible squawk from various hardware manufacturers a while back when Apple & friends decided to charge $1 for each FireWire port someone wanted to put on a device of theirs. That concern should go away now:

  • Joint Licensing Program Further Increases Attractiveness of the IEEE1394 Digital Interface [PR Newswire]
    The patents can be licensed for a fee of US $0.25 per system regardless of the number of components that incorporate 1394 PHY LSI.

    "Intel believes that IEEE1394 enables the PC to add tremendous value to consumer electronics devices," said Patrick Gelsinger, vice president and general manager of Intel's Desktop Products Group. "Broad deployment of IEEE1394 requires reasonable licensing terms around this technology, and Intel is very pleased to join these companies in driving to that goal."

    "Open and reasonable licensing is fundamental for new platform technologies to achieve broad adoption," said Carl Stork, general manager of Windows Hardware Strategy and Evangelism at Microsoft. "Microsoft views this announcement as an important step towards broader adoption of 1394. Microsoft has supported 1394 in Windows since the introduction of Windows 98 and is adding additional 1394 capabilities in Windows 2000 and Windows 98 Second Edition."

Companies like VST Technologies have started to bring out really cool FireWire add-ons like hard drives that don't need power cords or configuration a la SCSI; just plug 'em in and your machine magically sees another drive. I don't need that kind of drive yet, but I sure want it. ;)

Does anybody actually use Microsoft's Mac 'portal', Mactopia? It's rarely mentioned anywhere I regularly go, and for my money I've got plenty of Mac news sources already and am not too interested in seeing their spin on things. Is it just me? Am I missing a good thing?

Whoa. Cool:

  • 1999 Well-Connected Awards: The 50 Best Products of the Year [Network Computing]
    This year's Software Product of the Year is Apple Computer's WebObjects 4.0. WebObjects makes development of Internet and e-commerce applications fast, efficient and scalable. Its strength is its strict adherence to object-oriented methodologies. Objects created in WebObjects are easily maintained and fully reusable. Along with substantial power and flexibility, WebObjects brings an ease of development rarely seen in industrial-strength development environments.

    ... While other environments offer a few of the pieces and parts of Apple's WebObjects, this is the best and most elegant total system we've seen for creating Web-enabled applications. WebObjects takes the witchcraft out of Internet application design.

I'm still convinced I would be well served to learn to develop in WebObjects, but the project I started for that purpose last summer got derailed by other Urgent! Urgent! stuff and I never got back to it. I did pick up some rudimentary Java and got some interesting exposure to serious object-oriented programming, but that's all so far.

In fact, I'm imminently starting a fairly large project using completely different, equally unfamiliar tools: Perl, mySQL and FreeBSD -- three technologies I have barely a passing familiarity with, but tools I'm convinced it's essential for me to learn.

Diving headfirst into a big project with them probably seems foolhardy, but A) I'm already quite familiar with database design and CGI programming from using other tools, B) there are plenty of online resources I can consult (including sample code), and most of all C) I've got a high enough opinion of my skills and ability to learn that I'm sure I can do it. The arrogance of a geek is one of his/her strongest points, when applied constructively...

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