February 28, 2004

What a 'sweeeet' idea - charging eligible voters a fee for not voting. Notice this article from an Australian news report. Ignore for the moment the human interest side of the story (e.g. that the woman's excuse was that she was having group sex, so was too busy to vote). Note that no-show eligible voters are being fined $37.50 for not participating in the election. I think this would be a PERFECT source of additional revenue for the federal government. Failure to vote in a federal election could carry a similar penalty in the United States. Administered by the same agencies that register you to vote in the first place, it would either improve voter turn-out, or act as an 'Aloof Tax'. What do you think?

February 25, 2004

On the scope: millimeter waves and T-rays. May start a new section on 'up and coming tech'...stay tuned.

February 23, 2004

Thanks to the LangaList (and maybe to a slashdotter originally?) for the information at this link regarding a NIST study of DVD and CD life. If you're archiving important information (business OR personal! think digital photos!) on DVD or CD media, you should probably read this information before you expect it to last you for the long run.
Aha! Mystery solved! Mike's List linked to my website in Mike's List #78 from 3 February That explains the hits from his site. The DHTML behaviors on Tripod appear to be turned on on at least one of their servers, explaining the many hits to hilite.htc. If my guess is right, then DHTML behavior is seriously broken in its currently supported form on the client side(s). It should not be necessary for the client to continually download the behaviors from the support files. It generates way too much traffic. While I don't know what would be better, I'm going to integrate the behaviors into the HTML file itself and see if I can make that work a bit nicer.

When I have time that is. Looks like I'm about a week behind on my Calc homework. I need to catch up on that, since it's the ONLY thing standing between me and an Associate's Degree in April. It was a busy weekend and I never had the chance to update my site look. I've been too busy checking out links on GeekNews and SlashDot. Just this morning, I was reading about a robot-PC on SlashDot. What's nice about this piece is that it brings robotics down to the PC hobbyist level. Not every PC geek is going to be a servo-motor geek (I know I'm not...I can never finish a project). If they make the programming easy enough, building the robotics into the case may just make the low-utility robot something that hobbyists with ca$h will want to buy.

Speaking of buying things. I went to the mall this weekend, and poked around at Best-Buy and some other stores. It wasn't crowded at all, and as for myself, I didn't buy anything. It just seemed kind of boring. There doesn't seem to be anything 'new' on the horizon. The marketplace seems ripe for 'The Next Big Thing'. Don't know what it will be, but whatever it is, consumers seem ready to spring into action on the next fad item. Have any ideas? Email me...

Jeff Harrow's newsletter came out this weekend. There's a big piece about RFID technology in there. While not as futuristic as many of Jeff's pieces, it's interesting reading about a technology that has the potential to change the business world. Considering what I was reading (Money magazine) about WalMart affecting the economy in the past few years with average NEGATIVE INFLATION of 3% on its pricing shelf, and their own RFID plans (Wired), I can see businesses using this technology to further control back-end pricing.

February 20, 2004

TRIPOD is still broken (well, unsupportive, anyway) - I'm going to forget about DHTML behaviors for the moment and just go ahead and put in the new design. I'll probably have it up by the end of the weekend. (I'm going to work on my Calculus homework first.)

Hmmm, a thought, before I lose it - 3 dimensions of space, another dimension of time - what if Douglas Adams was right and another dimension is Probability. We could someday invent a probability drive that would allow us to move along the probability scale, allowing us to hit our enemies with lightning (struck by lightning odds 1:3000 over your lifetime), or allow us to win the lottery! And according to some quantum theories, it might be possible, because we'd merely end up in another universe where it actually happened! Just had to record that thought for myself (before I forget it).
Our expectations are SO different from that of our ancestors. Every day, 3 or 4 people visit one of my web pages (the blog, or the archives). Usually, they're looking for something specific, and I've talked about it in the blog, so they end up here from a search engine. That's fine - but it's very low traffic. As I was browsing the blogs, I began to think that that's 3 NEW PEOPLE A DAY that I am meeting (or rather, that are meeting me). If you met 21 new people a week, you'd have a pretty full social life, wouldn't you? It was kind of interesting to suddenly have that thought. Think of the people who visit as potential friends or acquaintances and put faces behind those 'hits' and no longer is 21 hits a week chump change. It's a potential social kingdom! So, if you're visiting here for the first time - WELCOME! Send me an email just to say hi (link on the upper left of the home page if you're in an archive).
A few thoughts:

Shock Radio - Why do people listen to shock radio? Is it because of the vulgar references and the 'What will he say next?' aspect, or is it merely because it's different from the standard music format? I started thinking last night about the possibility for a 'TechTV' format radio station, and whether or not people would listen to it. In doing so, I tried to think of the different radio formats that were not music. The biggest examples I could think of were shock radio, all news, and advice shows. Here in the DC area, as examples, on WJFK radio we have Howard Stern, Don and Mike, Ron and Fez in the 'shock jock' categories - each with risque shows with topics targeting mostly male audiences. Then we have NPR and WTOP, the newsy radio stations. There's also 'news shows' on WJFK around the shock jocks. So far, I haven't heard any 'Dr. Laura' type shows in the local market that have been successful.

So, what would happen if we started a channel that resembled SlashDot? A radio station dedicated to the thinking man without a political, religious or sexual slant at all. Talk radio is a great format in that it can keep the listener glued to the station, but instead of random news, interspersed with political news and sports, we would forego these subjects, and stick to technology. It would be a techno-geeks all day sucker. ::shrug, another idea I don't have time for::

February 17, 2004

Someone has a bad net crawler, and it isn't me. Looking at logs for my web page (which gets very few hits as it is), I noticed over the past week two separate incidents where there have been multiple (like, say 50 and 100 at a time...) requests in a row from some crawler looking for the file hilite.htc. Unfortunately for the crawler, the htc is a DHTML behavior file, which Tripod does not serve up with the correct MIME type on most of its servers [I think I caught it acting correctly ONCE]. Something in the file (or perhaps in this page itself) causes the web crawler to get this link over and over and over. Here's an example from the logfile:

XXX.YYY.ZZ.A - - [12/Feb/2004:20:36:00 -0500] "GET /rgautier/hilite.htc HTTP/1.1" 304 - "-" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; .NET CLR 1.1.4322; MSIECrawler)"

And there was another one with the referrer of Mikelist.com/current.htm (although Mike doesn't link to me that I know of). So, if you're a robot - sorry, you'll need some more smarts...

It looks like the MSIECrawler hits come from someone who has subscribed to my web page (little old me? Wow! Shocker!). However, the links that had MikesList in it didn't have the MSIECrawler in the reference data (They said 'Rich's XP', which is curious because my name is Rich, but the IP address wasn't from anywhere that I connect from and I don't recall having a machine that I called 'Rich's XP')