Monday, June 19, 2006

More Miracles of Modern Technology


An ancient bus converted to a (sort of) double decker using part of an old van. This is on NW 29th near Nicolai, in a weird old industrial corner of NW Portland. It's on the hike to/from Portland, er, Pyramid Brewing up at NW 31st & Industrial, in case you're wondering what I was doing up there. There's probably a fascinating and eccentric story behind this beast, but I have no idea what it is, or why it was made.

In other thrilling technology news:

  • MEJ mentions the latest tech conspiracy theory rippling across the blog 'verse. If you open Notepad on WinXP, type "Bush hid the facts", save it, and reopen the file, you see gibberish. Frightening, no? A little government censorbot right there in your own PC. And Windows probably reported you to the NSA, as well.

    Ok, well, no, that's not really what's going on. As the comments to that article note, it's really an artifact of the flaky international language support in Notepad, and a lot of short text snippets trigger the same behavior. Also, the text itself isn't actually mangled. If you open a command prompt window and do a "type bush.txt" (or whatever you named the file), your computer will tell you that Bush hid the facts, exactly like it was supposed to.

    I spend an inordinate amount of time in my RL job dealing with ugly internationalization (i18n for short) issues, primarily with Japanese language support on Windows and a few Unixes. And this is one of the rare situations where I'm forced to say that Windows is not worse at it than the Unix world. Convincing iconv to do what I want, reliably, across umpteen different platforms is a freakin' nightmare.
  • Both Slashdot and Groklaw both took the recent "Caldera OpenLinux X" hoax seriously at first. I'm sorry, but when something defies all evidence and all common sense, a little skepticism should be in order. It wasn't even a very good hoax. Is this why people keep falling for phishing spam? They just believe anything that looks vaguely legit after a brief couple of seconds' inspection? C'mon, people.
  • Another blog spammer managed to get past Blogger's word verification, and posted an ad for aquariums to an old story of mine about Saturn's moon Rhea:

    Hi I was searching for some information on Aquariums - some tips and Tricks and sites which have great resources and came across yours.
    Great site - I will bookmark it !

    h t t p :// hckpublishing . com / aquarium /

    I imagine the spammers think bloggers are so needy and insecure that they'll be thrilled to receive insincere compliments from spambots. And maybe that's actually true for some people. I just get curious about who's behind it. Unfortunately these spammers have taken a few steps to cover their tracks. The domain's registered through Domains by Proxy, so there's no useful domain contact info. And the site is hosted through a "reseller hosting" firm called HostGator, so there's several layers of obfuscation here. I can't figure out who to complain to, which I'm sure was the whole idea. The site itself is puzzling: a few low-value filler articles, and a few ads. Do people actually make money doing this? That's what I really don't understand about the spam business. Other than stealing credit card numbers, the spam business model is a complete mystery to me. Are there people out there, in this day and age, who still try to buy stuff from spammers?
  • It's time to jump on the viral video bandwagon again. Here's that ultra-cute Kitten vs. Powerbook video, if you haven't seen it already. Awwwwwww....
  • A post about our fair city's shiny new tram tower, arguing that the tram is cool and artistic and architecturally adventurous. Also, did you know that we're now officially the Best European City in America? It's true, at least so far as anyone knows. We don't get across the pond that often to see things in person, but we have cobblestones here, and sidewalk cafes, and Vespas, and the Europe you see in the movies looks a lot like that, so we must be on the right track.

    What's more certain is that we're the most Caucasian city in the country, and getting even more so every day. Surely that can't be what our leaders are really thinking when they say "European", can it? I mean, not consciously thinking it, anyway. (Actually, these days genuine European cities are probably more ethnically diverse than we are, come to think of it.)
  • An article about the current architectural fad of figuring out how to use surplus shipping containers as housing. Seems that in the Glorious Future, we really will live in bitty little boxes, er "modules", and we'll love it. Also, we'll subsist on nothing but vitamin pellets, and ride flying cars to the office. Resistance is futile.
  • Anything that's large and shiny counts as technology, even if it's art. This is doubly true if said object is on the cutting edge of "intellectual property" legal insanity.
  • This is even more of a stretch for a technology-related post, but here's a photo titled hops plant transplanted from a local park. Hops growing wild in our city parks. How cool is that? (I figure this item fits here because hops go in beer, and making beer involves technology, so there you have it.) Mmmm.... beer....

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