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Steve Bogart

News, Pointers & Commentary Archive: July 1998

27 July - ?? 1998 "Only a mediocre person is always at his best."
-- Laurence Peter

Seems inevitable in hindsight: Since the day job isn't letting up (can it, even?) and since I've gained a 'night job' (extending & polishing Formjack), some other stuff has got to go. Namely, the updates to this page.

I know, you're so disappointed. All 3 of you.

Expect another post maybe this coming weekend (Aug. 1), then expect another update before the tenth. I should have a handle on how the rest of August looks by then.

23 July 1998 "Had we said 30 years ago that we were going to put man in space for 30 years and we're only going to have two accidents, we would have said, `Boy, we'll take that right now.' Certainly, pushing out the frontiers as we did and still are doing, and having one accident in flight, the other on the ground, really is remarkable."
--Alan Shepard (1923-1998) in a 1991 interview
Alan Shepard (of the original Mercury Seven) died yesterday: If not for the HBO series "From the Earth to the Moon", I would have had very little idea what exactly he did. (Hey, I didn't even show up until 1970, and I wasn't paying attention to the space program at the time...)
Rick Schroder (yes, that Rick Schroder) will be taking over as Jimmy Smits' replacement on NYPD Blue after the first six episodes of next season. This is a pretty good article about it, with many quotes from the respective horses' mouths: If you're a fan, Alan Sepinwall's NYPD Blue Homepage [] is a good source for information and talk about the show, including episode reviews.
Hey... Saw this article and tested my various browsers. Opera/Windows doesn't support it. IE 4/Mac doesn't. Netscape Navigator 4.05/Windows sorta does (but without the gamma and alpha features). We're not there yet...
22 July 1998 "The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt."
--Bertrand Russell

Here's your barrel, here's a fish, and here's a gun: Really, I almost don't even have the heart...

Repeat after me: Windows NT is not robust enough to stake lives on. Neither is MacOS.

"I said right full rudder! Now!"
"Sorry sir, we're rebooting and it had to run a CHKDSK...can it wait about 10 minutes?"

I really don't have anything to add to the article, except that the slashdot folk are of course having a field day with it. My favorite post was from a Peter Koren:

Those who chose NT for the Navy should be awarded with free WinNT controlled pacemakers, cars and gas ovens. Then the rest of us could make book on which bozo will keel over, crash or burn and how soon.

Welcome to the Windows NT lottery.

21 July 1998 "What for you bury me in the cold, cold ground?"
--Tasmanian Devil, to Bugs Bunny

Go Adam! Adam Engst, publisher of TidBITS (a newsletter I've been reading for years now) is going after the Bull's Eye "E-MAIL MARKETING WORKS" guy with the State of Washington on his side. This ought to be fun...

Give him one for me, guys...

An excellent musing on the appropriate way to handle Web content you wish you hadn't put up, particularly if you're supposed to be a trusted factual body like a newspaper:

Geek fun: If I knew Perl, and if I had nothing else to do, this sounds like it'd be a hoot.
On my About Me page, I have an anagram of my name: Steven E. Bogart = 'Steve, a Net Borg'. I just thought of another which explains a great deal: 'Grab Steve, O Net.'

Oh, believe me, it does...

I haven't thrown out any Onion links for a while. A couple of memorable recent stories:

19 July 1998 "Down! Down! Down! Go! Go! Go! Mine! Mine! Mine!"
--Daffy Duck trying to keep Bugs away from 'his' treasure in "Ali Baba Bunny"

As expected, a clueless (but apparently decent) political campaign spammed the world with promotional materials. There will be more...

They had the decency to apologize profusely the very next day, which may be a good way to judge a politician - when caught in a stupid error, do they take responsibility?
Incidentally, I've definitely settled on Formjack as the name for the software I'm preparing for release...and no one else has used the name! "Steeplejack" is the best cognate for it as far as trying to determine what I mean by it - it means "someone who builds or maintains very tall structures."

Most of my time is being spent writing & documenting that at the moment...expect updates to this page to continue to be sporadic for a bit...

In the meantime, here are a bunch of links I'd been saving up to write about but probably won't get the time:
16 July 1998 "As soon as we started programming, we found to our surprise that it wasn't as easy to get programs right as we had thought. Debugging had to be discovered. I can remember the exact instant when I realized that a large part of my life from then on was going to be spent in finding mistakes in my own programs."
-- Maurice Wilkes discovers debugging, 1949

Big money, big money: How nice to have analysts actually having to explain why Apple's making so much: $101 million this quarter when everyone was expecting $50 million...

The HTML leaves a bit to be desired (never mess with the default font size for the majority of the text on a page [saith Jakob Nielsen] -- users have chosen their default text size because they can read it comfortably, so making it all smaller than that seems a bit...perverse? mean?), but the content is A++:

It's an interview with Linus Torvalds, originator of Linux, about many wide-ranging topics. Very, very smart guy (except where I disagree with him, namely that the MacOS will be gone in five years...see above). Recommended.

[on Windows 95/98]: "What's fundamentally wrong is that nobody ever had any taste when they did it. Microsoft has been very much into making the user interface look good, but internally it's just a complete mess. And even people who program for Microsoft and who have had years of experience, just don't know how it works internally. Worse, nobody dares change it. Nobody dares to fix bugs because it's such a mess that fixing one bug might just break a hundred programs that depend on that bug. And Microsoft isn't interested in anyone fixing bugs--they're interested in making money. They don't have anybody who takes pride in Windows 95 as an operating system."
14 July 1998 "Life may have no meaning. Or even worse, it may have a meaning of which I disapprove."
--Ashleigh Brilliant
Does this seem dumb to you? Okay, look at the chart on this page. Find approximately the last time Apple's stock price was where it is right now (33 and change). Looks like it's around January-February of 1996, yes?

So could someone clue me in as to why everyone's reporting the 'news' that Apple's stock has hit a 52-week high? It's at least a 104-week high, or a 2 1/2 year high really. I just don't get it.

New Scribble! On the Naming of Software: Are all the good names taken? In a crowded category, maybe...
"So I've got this software I'm working on..."
12 July 1998 "I love creative dry spells, because it means I am subconsciously preparing to write something. I relax, do things, see friends, have dinners. It's like being pregnant: one day, pop."
--Steve Martin in Entertainment Weekly #438/439
Looking for Someone? Check this clearinghouse of US White Pages databases. Find anybody if they're listed...
Well, doesn't this just scare the pants off you: OK, disclaimer first: no one went on record and said that Microsoft made them back down, but still I find this article awfully easy to credit:
Hey, I saw Mulan last night. The villain especially was fabulously drawn (with eyes just like his hawk's), the story was very engaging and funny, and the voice talent was as usual top-drawer. Grade: A.

I liked the fact that they didn't sing all that much. In The Lion King (for example) it felt like there were more songs crammed in than were necessary for the story. In this they only did a few songs and let the story carry most of the burden, which worked much better for this kind of story (to me).

Disney also did an impressive job of depicting war without showing a single dead body; in fact I counted only one instance of a sword causing an injury on-screen. It was very little-kid-friendly in that sense, though some of the little kids around us were clearly bored a few times during the film.

Of course, there are some who weren't completely happy with the depiction of Mulan. Salon gives a forum to two young Asian women to discuss their perspectives on the film.

Well, fine. I still got more than my $5.75 worth of fun out of it.
Also saw a trailer for A Bug's Life, the next film from Pixar (makers of Toy Story). Looked great!
10 July 1998 "I, in my cynical and not-at-all-endearing Generation X fashion, couldn't see the entertainment potential in having a picture taken of myself standing in the immediate proximity of a beautiful model, but instead amused myself greatly by taking pictures of the sort of men who wanted their pictures taken of themselves standing in the immediate proximity of a beautiful model."
--Andy Ihnatko
Quite Fun: Dan Gillmor imagines what it would be like if various companies actually started telling the truth:
Win money! Be part of something bigger than yourself! Join the DES-II cracking effort, which starts Monday. The goal is to throw such an immense amount of computing power at a medium-size computational task that it gets done immediately (defined as 'in under 10 days'). See for details on the project and download the latest version of a client program for your computer at
A Healthy Apple: Well, let's see...not only did Apple's stock reach a 2 1/2 year high...not only did they announce their third profitable quarter in a row (numbers forthcoming)...but they're starting to get headlines like this, which you couldn't have paid anyone to write about them a year ago: For fun: Andy Ihnatko's report from MacWorld goes on a bit too long IMHO, but is still packed with the highly amusing stuff I read him for (see today's quote):
Do you read the New Yorker? I skim it now and then when I'm around it, but I don't subscribe to it or seek it out. Editor Tina Brown is leaving, which may change the nature of the magazine:
7 July 1998 "18,446,744,073,709,551,616 bottles of beer on the wall..."
--from one of the proxy servers. Join the fun...
Well, well: It's going to be another big Apple news week at the New York MacWorld that stock price!

Check the usual suspects for news: MacInTouch, "MacSurfer", "MacCentral"...

Didn't this *just* come out? Windows 95 Service Pack 3, aka Windows 98, is already getting its own Service Pack. Hey, sounds like a good reason to wait a little...
Interesting stuff: I haven't read all of it yet, but this is a fascinating chunk of a new book about how the more we make, the more we feel we 'have' to spend, and the more we think we will need to make in order to be fulfilled: Personally, I also buy all sorts of 'unnecessary' stuff, largely because I can -- caffe mochas from St. Louis Bread Company, many CDs, comic books, real books, lots of takeout food...since I can do all that and save some money (my loans are almost all paid off!), I'm relatively content with my lot.
More on the aftermath of Phil Hartman's murder:
I just saw these guys: Acoustix figures prominently in a CNN story on the International Barbershop Harmony Convention. They're really good.
2 July 1998 The amount of time between slipping on the peel and landing on the pavement is precisely 1 bananosecond.
--from, author unknown
I'm taking off for the weekend; next post will likely be Tuesday. In the meantime:
Caveat Windows Emptor: There are lots of folks having trouble upgrading to Windows 98 - registry corruption, crashes, continuing problems with Plug-and-Play, etc. and on top of it all they can't get into Microsoft's support lines. Just think, for only $90 you too can have this much fun.

Also, to varying degrees, Dell, Toshiba and Compaq are discouraging upgrading if you own certain models:

Jon Katz on...
Microsoft has agreed to pay $5 million for the use of the Internet Explorer name:
It's been a year since the Mars rover's jaunt. CNN has a nice recap of the trip:
'nother security hole for Windows web servers:
"So if you want the source code to Microsoft's home page:$DATA
It works for Perl code too:$DATA "
1 July 1998 "Don't forget, buy Meept!!(tm) brand idiocy...If it doesn't say 'Meept!!(tm)' it might not be lame."
--post on (not mine)
Talk about jumping the gun: Windows NT 5.0 is nowhere near shipping, but analysts are already weighing in pro and con: Not that I disagree with the recommendation, it just seems a bit early to be even bothering to talk about it.
Customer service, right? Dave Winer takes Microsoft to task for not notifying its customers of a security hole in a timely fashion (and for not providing a fix quickly). Not that I expect Microsoft to listen, but Dave provides a valuable service in pointing out where they could improve.

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