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Archive for February, 2006

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Trump Rediscovers The Wharton School – and then goes to far…

Tuesday, February 28th, 2006

Of special note to UPenn alums who missed the debut of Apprentice #5 tonight:

Trump picked the project managers for the first task himself. One of them was a Harvard MBA, to which he said, “I have great respect for Harvard Business School. It’s the second best school in the country, behind Wharton, which is where I went.” I assure you, cheers went up around West Philadelphia when he said that.

Later in the show, the reward for winning the task was lunch with Donald Trump in (what he called) “The Wharton Club.” Turns out, the “Wharton Club” is actually the Penn Club in midtown Manhattan. The slip probably would have cost him all the goodwill he built up on the Penn campus from the first remark, except for the fact that most students probably don’t know the Penn Club exists (after all, it targets alumni, not students).

At any rate, for a guy that hardly ever talks about where he got his education (or, for that matter, his money), it was nice to see him recognize his roots for a change…

Categories: Primetime TV, University of Pennsylvania | 2 Comments »

Plain Text is the Answer!

Sunday, February 26th, 2006

A major Hat Tip to Michael Weinmayr Starr, who correctly suggested a Plain Text post from the Outlook client. The plain text eliminates all of the HTML spaghetti code in the previous test, and uses the “mobile-post” class I had originally identified. “MsoNormal” apparently not only refers to Microsoft Outlook, but also to the “normal” HTML mode of posting.

Now, not only is the HTML cleaner, but the font settings are properly applied and all is well. The only thing I’m noticing at this point is the automatic line breaks that plain text defaults to in Outlook (every 76 characters or so). I’m sure this is something I can turn off in Outlook – I just have to play with it. Other than that, though I think the mailing problems are solved.

Categories: Tech Talk | 2 Comments »

OK, one more test…

Friday, February 24th, 2006

Well, the first test went pretty well.  It seems Blogger used to put the whole post in a class called “mobile-post,” but now it puts it in a class called “MsoNormal.”  Frankly, the other one made more sense to me, but what do I know.  In any case, I’ve added both to my style sheet now, so I should be good to go.

Other problems, for those who care about such things:  you have to change your settings to make Blogger publish the message to the blog, otherwise it just sits in “Draft” status, and you need to publish it manually.  Last night, I spent a half hour going back to my blog & refreshing, waiting for the mail servers to do their job.  Silly me.  Also, the HTML it generates is an absolute nightmare.  I need to single space between paragraphs in e-mail so they appear double spaced here, for instance.

Finally, for some reason, the e-mail posts are only picking up the spacing attributes from the style sheet, not the typeface.  For both regular text and the MsoNormal class, I’ve got “font-family: Book Antiqua, serif;” in there, but the e-mail posts are coming out in Arial (at least on my browser they are).  If there are any HTML geeks out there (and I know of at least one…) who care to look at the source & help me out, I’d appreciate it.

Categories: Tech Talk | 2 Comments »

Finally, a test of mobile posting…

Friday, February 24th, 2006

Excuse the interruption, folks.  I’m clearing out my To Do list from a long time ago, and I’m finally getting around to defining the e-mail posting style in my style sheet.  If this works, I should be able to e-mail posts to the blog without any of you being any the wiser.

We’ll see…

Categories: Tech Talk | 2 Comments »

Upgrading to the Video iPod – A Dilemma

Thursday, February 23rd, 2006

  

For those who enjoy my Ramblings, some new fodder…
 

Categories: Tech Talk, Words about Music | 9 Comments »

The Department of Internet?

Thursday, February 23rd, 2006

According to the International Telecommunication Union (via InternetWeek), in 2000, the United States ranked third in the world in number of high-speed internet subscribers per capita. In 2004, we were 16th. The 2005 numbers are about to come out, and it looks like we might fall out of the top 20.

Some of these countries have obvious advantages in this space (close proximity of people, making it easier to get broadband access to a higher percentage of the population), but we’re behind countries like Canada too. InternetWeek thinks that what’s missing is a government regulated broadband network.

Interesting. Here’s a space where market forces aren’t satisfying the public good (it’s not profitable to wire everyone for broadband, so no one does it) AND where the providers (cable & phone companies) are starting to make noises about distributing their costs to their users (the content providers).

Smells like a public utility, doesn’t it?

Government run broadband access to the internet would allow us to determine what percentage of the country was online by manipulating government spending, rather than counting on the private sector’s profit motive. On the other hand, there’s been a lot of talk lately about how the feds react to content that travels over their wires. If the feds get involved here, look for the same kind of decency/censorship debates that we’ve had in radio and television in recent years. Of course, the Internet raises a few new issues: First, content on the Internet doesn’t necessarily come from the United States, so even if access is a public utility (in this country), it would be exceedingly difficult for the government to completely regulate the providers.

Second, the Internet provides more interactive options for policing content. If you think people are in a tizzy now over the government asking search engine companies for data, imagine if they controlled the servers themselves? They may not be able to stop the production of “offensive” material, but they could more easily control the distribution of it. Now, I’m not suggesting that the U.S. government would outwardly censor Internet content (see also: China) – that wouldn’t pass muster with the public in this country. Distribution control in the U.S. more often takes the form of surcharges – charging a premium for access to adult sites (a la HBO or Cinemax on cable TV), for instance.

So the question is this: is more universal access worth giving the government a say over what gets seen and how much it costs? I say no, but then again, I live in a major metropolitan area where broadband access is readily available.

I wonder what Scalzi thinks out in Ohio…

Categories: Political Rantings, Tech Talk | 3 Comments »

It had to happen eventually…

Tuesday, February 21st, 2006

Malware on a Mac.

So, here’s the question: is this bad news of the “the OS isn’t impervious to attack as many have tried to claim?” variety, or good news of the “market share and visibility have increased enough to warrant the hackers spending time on attacking OS X” variety?

Categories: Tech Talk | No Comments »

The Best Reason to Own a Laptop … Ever!

Tuesday, February 21st, 2006

Via InternetWeek:

Internet cafe computer mice are the second most bacteria-carrying item found in public facilities, surpassing toilet doorknobs and hand straps on busses, a study showed.

Categories: Random Acts of Blogging, Tech Talk | No Comments »

New York City Subway Stories

Wednesday, February 15th, 2006

I had a doctor’s appointment this morning, so I commuted into the city at an odd hour. On the uptown E train (World Trade Center line) at around 11:15, was a man wearing blue jeans, a windbreaker, and a winter cap.

He was carrying with him a hacksaw, a screwdriver, and a flashlight. He didn’t have any kind of bag or case, he was just carrying them loose in his hands. I assume he was in a construction-related line of work, and was just bringing his tools to/from his job.

So, I ask again, exactly what are they checking for when they randomly inspect our bags on the subway? If an openly visible hacksaw is OK, what exactly is not OK?

Categories: New York, New York, Political Rantings | 3 Comments »

Google Achieves Microsoft-like Evil Status…

Tuesday, February 14th, 2006

Google’s recent Desktop Search tool provides a feature that copies the search index across networked computers, so when you search on one machine, you can see documents stored on another. Sounds reasonably harmless, right?

Turns out the copy is done by temporarily uploading encrypted versions of the files to Google’s servers and then downloading them to the other machines. Google says it deletes the files roughly every 30 days. It also says the user has complete control over which files/folders are included in the search, and that it automatically filters out password protected files and secure web pages.

But none of that matters to the EFF, who is recommending that no one use the feature.

Why? Because Google might one day turn that data over to the federal government if it is subpoenaed during that 30-day window.

Isn’t this just amazing? Forget all the extra features they put in to protect the user. Forget the vanishingly small likelihood that a particular file is residing in a Google server’s temporary cache at the precise moment a subpoena is issued, and forget the relative usefulness of the tool itself (Remember, Google doesn’t build these tools to try and step through privacy minefields – they build them to be useful to their customers). The big news story from a couple of weeks ago has put Google in the bullseye with regard to privacy issues, and all because they refused to submit data after a government request.

Imagine what they’d be saying about the company if it had complied?!?

Categories: Political Rantings, Tech Talk | 2 Comments »

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