Max Romantschuk's weblog – May 2004 archive

Slow Mondays

Monday 31st of May, 2004 - 12:30 – Permalink

I've now completed the first phase of my bicycle upgrade project (see May 10th,) which is quitting the gym. I can now save the combined sum of my gym membership and bus fees every month, which amounts to some 70 euros. I hope to accumulate enough money for my target bike before winter really hits, which is going to require some additional measures. Next up is to sell my electronic drum set, which I don't really use any longer. Feel free to contact me if you're interested in a Roland TD-5K set.

Permutations

I've found no interesting news today, but a while back I found a rather interesting page which demonstrates some of the difficulties with creating a reliable automated spam filter quite well: There are 600,426,974,379,824,381,952 ways to spell Viagra. And that's only by swapping letters or inserting a letter between characters. Sheesh!

Googlactivities

Thursday 27th of May, 2004 - 12:06 – Permalink

It's hard to imagine the web without Google. I do remember a time when searching the web involved using several search engines and lots of time, but it all seems quite distant. These days I just go to Google, and... well, google. Fact is, Google is so omnipresent they've even got their own verb.

Google is a lot more than just web search. Gmail has recieved a lot of press lately, and they have started the Google Blog. Speaking of blogs, did you know Blogger is part of Google too? Blogger was recently redesigned, check out The New Blogger at Stopdesign.

I'm carefully optimistic about the future of Google. I see potential harm in the fact that they are everywhere though. I would not be surpised if Google is in a Microsoft-like love-hate relationship with the web users of 2014. Some though, are more critical than I am, like Google Watch for instance.

Despite all of this Google's web search is still pretty darn good. I actually found a bunch of Google web search features I was unaware of quite recently. The calculator and definitions are especially handy, have a look.

My sexy Backlog

Tuesday 25th of May, 2004 - 11:30 – Permalink

The family related stuff mentioned in my previous post is beginning to loosen it's grip on my time allocation abilities. In plain Englsh: I should now have time to blog again. I built up something of a backlog of stuff I wanted to cover during the last two weeks, so I can't really call all this stuff news. Let's just settle for readworthy, shall we?

What's the big deal with Sex?

You'd be amazed how many people end up here through sex related seach engine queries. The funny thing is that my blog isn't exactly sex-centered. I do mention sex related issues from time to time, but it's not like I have my personal porn collection on display or anything. I'll be willing to bet I'll get at least a hundred extra hits during the next three months due to the fact that this post happens to deal with sex.

Oral sex is better than unsafe drunken sex, m'kay?

A British government study has found that Encouraging schoolchildren to experiment with oral sex could prove the most effective way of curbing teenage pregnancy rates according to the Observer story Oral sex lessons to cut rates of teenage pregnancy. If you ask me this is more or less common sense. After all, getting pregnant while practising oral sex would require a rather unusual anatomy. Furthermore, teens are bound to have sex sooner or later. It's better to give them safer options than turn our backs. Treating the problem though education instead of the cause trough abortion just makes sense.

Actually, sex is bad for you.

Rather amusingly, turning their backs on the problem is exactly what the Americans seem to be doing. Robyn Licht's school textbook claims that sex is harmful, along with stuff like tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs. Fortunately Robyn has taken a stand, asking Why Does My Textbook Say Sex Is Harmful?

Not all porn sites are created equal.

I found Robyn's story through the The Webby Awards: 2004 Nominees & Winners. There was a rather interesting nominee in the community section, SuicideGirls. I'd call SuicideGirls a cross between a porn site, an online community and a punk attitude towards life. It's nice to see something that actually stands out for a change. There are, after all, tens of thousands of really really worthless porn sites out there. If you're going to spend money on porn at least spend it on quality porn.

Disclaimer

I don't believe that a healthy appetite for sex is bad. I don't believe porn to be inheritly bad. Some may disagree, but I stand by my views. I realize some readers may well be offended by me linking a porn site, but I feel this porn site is worth mentioning. Live with it.

Pressed

Tuesday 11th of May, 2004 – Permalink

Due to various family-related activities I probably won't have time to blog for a week or so. Given that I usually blog three or four times a week I just thought I'd let my regular readership know. Surprisingly, it seems I indeed have something of a readership. I have about 50 visits on days when I post, which I consider quite good taking into account my widely diverse interests and my lack of promoting this blog.

Creative Commons

I've been looking at the different licenses from Creative Commons lately, partly due to the fact that I'd like to get some photographs of mine up here some day. Creative Commons is a really interesting project, especially given the recent issues with copyright on music and films. The different Creative Commons licenses help eliminate all the gray areas, and content authors can easily choose a license which fits their needs. I hope to have both my music and photography up here under a suitable license within a year or so. Free time isn't exaclty abundant at the moment, so there's really no point in rushing it now is there?

Determined

Monday 10th of May, 2004 – Permalink

After careful consideration I have decided the following: I'm going to quit the gym. I'm also going to quit riding the bus to work, during winters too. Instead I'm going to ride my bike to work all year around. The money saved from quitting the gym and not taking the bus will go to a separate account, dedicated to keeping my current bike ridable for as long as it takes to save enough money to buy a new bike. I'm wagering I can keep my current bike ridable until I can afford a new one...

The bike I'm planning to get is (rather obviously) the Gary Fisher Dual Sport 129, mentioned in my previous entry. I've decided on a Gary Fisher bike for several reasons. First of all they seem like a company genuinely excited about their work, something which is rather rare these days. The only other manufacturer who conveys the same kind of spirit that I know of is Mackie, highly recommended for audio equipment.

Anyhoo, both companies have also demonstrated great customer support. I sent Gary Fisher a few questions on the bike, and recieved swift and informative answers. High quality customer support is very important to me, and especially in this case. I have calculated that the bike will cost me around 2000 euros. I don't plan to spend that kind of money unless I can be sure to get support even ten years from now if necessary.

Another reason for me to choose Gary Fisher is the fact that they have a well designed web site. I feel this shows that they are willing to spend money on other things than just manufacturing bikes. The site also has a rather good bike selection tool, which amusingly suggested the Dual Sport 129 to me, after I had already been looking at it. One rather compelling reason to buy their bikes is the fact that you can't buy one off their site. The reason is simple, they don't feel that you can properly select a bike without riding it, just like the way it should be. Good stuff.

Wish me luck saving money, will ya?

Pirate-support, anyone?

There are a lot of pirated (unlicensed) copies of Windows around. Frankly I don't blame people using a copied version of Windows on their home computer, the price for Windows is rather extravagant given their practical monopoly at the moment.

But it seems Microsoft does realize some things are better left alone than messed about with. Service Pack 2 (SP2) for Windows XP will install even on a copied version of Windows. This, is a Good Thing. Most of all, this will help reduce the problems associated with worms and viruses. There's a Slashdot discussion on the subject, with at least one rather interesting comment. Compare this to the recent behaviour of the RIAA. Which makes more sense to you? After all, Microsoft could be throwing lawsuits right and left to people copying Windows...

Objects of desire

Thursday 6th of May, 2004 - 12:23 – Permalink

I mentioned wanting a Tunturi F600 last week, but I think I've found an even better bike to desire. The Gary Fisher Dual Sport series, more precisely the Dual Sport 129. It's like dream come true for someone like me, who needs good road performance, but wouldn't mind hitting the woods every now and then. Maybe I'll just quote their site...

Dual sport riding. It.s what many of us do each and every day. It.s the kind of riding that requires a bike built for the challenges of a technical singletrack, as well as a fast city street. In other words, a bike that feels equally at home on the dirt as it does on the asphalt. Well, we have that bike. It.s called a Fisher Dual Sport. It.s a tried-and-true 29" mountain bike with road bike details. For starters you can switch to 700c road tires. And you can attach racks, fenders, and other roadworthy accessories. Dual Sport bikes feature full-size chainrings that give them the widest gear range possible. Ride the trail. Ride the road. Just ride.

I haven't actually tried one, but it just feels right, you know?

The truth be told, I'm contemplating scrambling together the money for a bike like this, and riding to work all year round. I rode to school one winter, that was not nearly as long a ride. I still think I'd be up to it. In any case, I'd need a pair of these.

Beat that drum

While I'm at it, I might as well blurt out that I want a Roland HPD-15 as well. I've tried one, it's the single most intuitive, responsive and fun electronic percussion instrument I've ever played.

Clarifications

Tuesday 4th of May, 2004 - 12:01 – Permalink

I do not consider myself a journalist. Despite of this, every now and then, my blog takes on characteristics of more traditional online (and real world) publishing. I wrote a short blurb yesterday on YesLogic, who in my view were spamming the W3C www-style mailing list.

This morning my mail box contained a message by Michael Day from YesLogic. I have taken the liberty to reproduce the message below. (Double quotes have been replaced with single quotes, and the message has been edited for whitespace.)

Subject: YesLogic Prince announcement

Hello,

Following our recent release announcement for YesLogic Prince on the W3C CSS mailing list I noticed that you described this on your website as 'spamming the list'. This is not entirely correct, as spam is unsolicited email, but our product announcements are welcomed by the CSS mailing list administrator as they are related to the ongoing development of CSS.

While it is true that it was an announcement regarding a commercial product, we believe that it was a fairly unintrusive post that was relevant to topics under discussion in the CSS community. In particular, this release of our product implements several CSS properties which are still experimental and likely to change in future revisions of the working drafts. As a CSS implementer, we provide feedback on the implementation of experimental properties to the working group, and participate in the discussion of extensions to CSS.

We also provide a free personal license for our product, which allows CSS enthusiasts to experiment with new features that browsers have not yet implemented, such as the list ::marker pseudo-element and paged media properties.

Finally, we do not post such announcements to the list very often. I think that the recent flood of virus/worm emails that has proliferated through all of the W3C mailing lists is much more of a spam problem.

I apologise for any inconvenience our announcement has caused you.

Best regards,

Michael Day

My view

Michael feels that his message to the list was not spam. I don't wish to claim my view is the absolute truth, but here's why I claimed it was spam in the first place:

  • The W3C Spam Policy states the following: As the fora hosted at W3C are focused primarily on technical, operational, or communications issues, any commercially-focused e-mail is likely to be interpreted as spam.
  • YesLogic used the W3C's property to distribute an advertisement. I doubt YesLogic paid the W3C for the storage of the message, sending it out to numerous recipients, and the electricity consumed in the process. Traditional advertisement by mail forces the sender to pay for the costs of the advert, but in the case of spam the recipient pays.


Disclaimer

The views expressed in this blog are mine and mine alone. I am in no way affiliated with the W3C, nor do my views represent the views of the W3C. I do not wish to impose my own views upon others, so please make up your own mind about this issue.

And in totally unrelated news...

I found a link to my blog on a Fistful of Euros under the heading Life in Europe. I'm quite flattered that a high-profile blog like AFOE feels me worthy of such recognition. Thanks guys (David!)

Untitled

Monday 3rd of May, 2004 - 12:48 – Permalink

My SPD pedal purchase (mentioned last week, April 26th) has begun to pay off. This morning I noticed a subtle change in my pedalling style. I'm adapting to pulling upwards and I seem to be able to keep a higher gear while riding. Of course it might just be the result of a weekend's worth of rest, but I'll stick to my more optimistic adaption theory.

A commercial announcement!

These people spam W3C mailing lists, do not purchase their products. Here's proof. Feel free to spread this meme far and wide, join the anti-spam bandwagon! W3C's policy on spamming their lists isn't exactly hard to comprehend.