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Geography, Schmeography

July 26th, 2005 | File Under Nate | No comments yet

Here we are in 2005 — unquestionably the Future — with Google Maps and GPS and magnetic north and other such flash-in-the-pan fad technologies, yet nobody seems to know where the United States really are.

Sure sure, you may think you know, but there’s one simple way to find out. Find a group of people (eight or more should do) from different parts of the country. Ask them whether or not New York is part of New England. Sit back and watch the ensuing argument.

Just one little spoiler: if either everyone in your group is from the Northeast, or no one is, this won’t work. If you’re in such an unfortunate situation, you can always try this alternative argument-primer: is Texas part of The South?

Fewer fireworks, but still something.

Up up and away

July 15th, 2005 | File Under Nate | Only one comment so far

So I’ve decided if and when I eventually don a mask and head out into the streets to fight crime at night, I’m going to call myself “Captain Defeat” or something like that. If we’ve learned anything over the years it’s that a superhero’s name and mascot are far more critical than any “powers” “skills” or “knowledge” they might posess.

Therefore the intimidating name is much sought-after. The reasoning behind Captain Defeat is two-fold. First, any villain who hears the name will immediately think to himself “Defeat? Is that supposed to sound threatening? Because it sounds kind of like ‘Captain Loser’….” Then, naturally, they’ll wonder whether or not I understand how the name sounds, and whether or not my choosing such a name indicates that I’m not very bright or just that I’m not very good with names — either way it’s hardly a plus. But more to the point, the obvious question will be “if this guy doesn’t understand how moronic his name sounds, is he still intelligent enough to understand it if I take a moment to mock him about it to his face, or is he so dense that I’ll have to explain it to him first, and then mock him about it?”

And while he’s thinking about all that, that’s when I’d hit him.

Fun with eBay

July 5th, 2005 | File Under Nate, OSTG | No comments yet

Well, it has begun. I’m auctioning off advertising space on my fingerprints via eBay. Here is the auction URL if you want to bid or read more of the justification: eBay item #5595514591

If you don’t feel like reading it, the upshot is that it’s a publicity stunt aimed at biometric security systems. A printed piece may follow at OSTG after all is said and done. But I am really going to do it; the fingerprint-faking is easy, I read about it online.

Till then, feel free to bid or just pass the word along. The more hits it gets, the merrier.

UPDATE: The auction has now ended! History is over; please return to your homes. I will be setting up a separate blog to document the process and the biometric ad campaign — more on that when it’s ready.

New boring material now!

July 4th, 2005 | File Under OSTG | No comments yet

Linking to a new article is now an opportunity to waste another post.

Bringing back LZW is a guide to restoring some image-editing functionality that was lost temporarily because of a software patent fiasco. Plus it has a moral for programmers who can learn a little from how well the libtiff project administrators handled the situation.

Mono, by contrast, is a patent train wreck waiting to happen, and when it does the project’s users will be up a creek because the developers haven’t planned for it.

Be sure and read the comments from uninformed readers asserting that their favorite Linux distribution is immune to the LZW situation. They’re wrong.

Oh, and Happy birthday Uncle Sam.