Critical Section

Archive: December 27, 2003

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Saturday,  12/27/03  09:34 AM

Well, you knew this would happen, a Slashdot poster notes GM's Onstar System Hacked.  If you own a GM car with Onstar, you can find step-by-step instructions on the 'net.  Why do it?  To get around the $400/year service fee, of course...

Apple store in Palo AltoRobert Scoble spends three hours at the Apple store in Palo Alto, and comes away impressed.  The interesting thing about Apple is that while there is always a discussion about whether they're successful as a business, there is no question that they create value.  Their products are cool and useful, their marketing is interesting, and even their sales delivery channels are worth studying :)

Doc Searles notes:

Last week we had an earthquake in Big Sur that hit 6.5 on the Richter Scale, killed two, and dropped several buildings in downtown Paso Robles.

Yesterday we had another quake of exactly the same size in Iran.  It killed twenty thousand or more and destroyed the ancient city of Bam, which comprised perhaps the largest mud brick structure in the world.

Talk about terrorism.  Mother Nature gives us the real deal.

Yep.

Ottmar LiebertOttmar Liebert posted interesting thoughts about ownership of music, and artists allowing their listeners to copy music.  "I can actually sell you the right to copy the music and no-one can stop me.  And that is exactly what I intend to do.  Watch me....I am going to do it....yes, Sir..."  He also discusses why MP3s are popular and DVD Audio is not, despite the higher quality of music DVDs.  "It is an easy way to carry music around with us, it is a great way to organize our music, and it sounds fine for running around and listening to stuff...  Good music shines through regardless of the medium it is presented in."  Talk about an artist who gets it...

The MPAA (movies) isn't as heavy-handed as the RIAA (music).  CNet reports In chasing movie pirates, Hollywood treads lightly.  "'I'm not ruling out anything, but at this moment we don't have any specific plans to sue anyone,' [MPAA President Jack] Valenti said.  'I think we have learned from the music industry'."  That's a good thing.

toaster!Stay tuned for this: Firms team up to create more web-linked appliances.  Toshiba, Sharp, and Sanyo have formed a standard called iReady which enables household appliances to communicate wirelessly with each other.  Is this the next big thing or the next big dud?  I can't see where my toaster needs to be on the 'net, somehow...

 

Simple is Good

Saturday,  12/27/03  03:22 PM

I always have so much to do in December, don't you?  So many social events, Christmas shopping, year-end deadlines.  But somehow I love it.  The cold crisp air, lights everywhere, a sense of excitement, music...

And since I have so much to do, naturally I'm procrastinating by working on something I don't have to do at all.  Yep, I redesigned my blog.  And you probably can't even tell!

If you're a Critical Section regular, you know I like frames, and for most of this site's existence the default view was a frameset.  Then recently I ran a survey, found hardly anyone liked my frames (!), and made "no frames" the default.  In the month since, only 40 visitors ever selected the "(frames)" option, out of about 34,000.  (I get around 1,000 pages views per day.)  Meanwhile I had a lot of residual complexity from supporting the "(frames)" option, much of it hidden; for example correctly computing page views when you have a frameset is nontrivial (you don't want to count each frame as a seperate page, that would be misleading).  And we all know that complexity is bad (W=UH).  Not to mention, I'm plotting further changes which probably will be visible, and continuing to support frames as an option just makes everything harder.

Simultaneously, I decided to get rid of an ongoing ugliness in my permalinks.  You may be aware of Brent's Law: The more expensive the CMS (content management system), the crappier the URLs.  Well my CMS is free, but the URLs all started with this funky "index.cgi" (or worse, "noframes.cgi"!).  I finally learned enough about Apache's mod_rewrite to eliminate the CGI from the URL.  (It took about ten minutes :)

So - poof! - no more frames.  At all.  Even as an option.  And - poof! - no more funky URLs.  You might notice that things load faster.  And you might notice that something is broken (!), if so, please let me know.

Simple is Good.  Okay, now, back to work :)

 
 

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