Fri, May 31, 2002

It’s a girl!

I’m thrilled to announce the birth of my daughter, Teresa Marie. God grant her many years. She was 8 lbs 1 oz and 21 inches long. Her brothers are not quite sure what to make of her, but are glad to see her and happy to hold her anyway. You can take a look at the hospital photo of her.

So now you know why there have been no updates for a week.

She’s named primarily for St Thérèse of Lisieux (called the Little Flower) and for Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who was influenced by and took her name from Thérèse. I highly recommend the autobiography of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux: The Story of a Soul. I’m amazed by the fervency she had for loving God. Her words are simple, yet profound. As a parent, I am challenged by how her parents so obviously raised her well, indeed raised her to be a saint.

Fri, May 24, 2002

To the pain…

Ouch. David Hyatt had a horrible experience trying out Netscape 7. That he had been using Netscape 6 makes this even worse. I agree with him, the kinds of annoyances he experienced are why I use Mozilla.

And speaking of Mozilla, Release Candidate 3 is out.

Thu, May 23, 2002

Netscape 7 PR1

As I guessed a few days ago, the next version of Netscape will be 7. PC World has written a generally favorable first look at Netscape 7. I’m more interested in Mozilla 1.0, but I’m glad to see that Netscape is putting 6.x behind them.

Wed, May 22, 2002

Copyrights: 14 + 14 = Good

Opening briefs were filed May 20, 2002 in Eldred v. Ashcroft. The case is a constitutional challenge of the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, which extended existing and future copyrights by 20 years. For an excellent analysis of this case and the history of copyright read Is Life Plus Seventy Too Much?

Copyright in the United States was based on the common law system to forbid copying and was not based on author’s rights. The founders saw copyright as a way to secure benefits for the public from the works of authors and not as a way to reward authors. Copyright was intended to create a system that would foster creativity and learning and would promote the distribution of works by protecting the author. Therefore, the original copyright system was 14 years plus an optional extension of 14 years if the author was still alive. With CTEA that has been extended to the life of the author plus 70 years.
Create like it's 1790

I found the Internet Archive Amicus brief particularly compelling. They emphasize the number of projects working to prepare out-of-copyright works for digital distribution. From the brief: “For the second time in history the collection of all recorded information is within our grasp. Digital technology allows us the opportunity to build a ‘universal’ library that dwarfs the collections of the Alexandria Library and even our modern Library of Congress.”

Tue, May 21, 2002

Book reviews

Stephen Wolfram’s A New Kind of Science is certainly generating discussion, controversy, … and book reviews. Slashdot has a “review” and discussion. Ray Kurzweil has also written about it.

Mon, May 20, 2002

The entire universe in 3 or 4 lines of code

Steven Levy talks about Stephen Wolfram and the book A New Kind of Science which I mentioned earlier. “Some of the engineers are developing A New Kind of Science Explorer, a PC application with a mini-Mathematica program that allows people to run the experiments in the book and begin to do research projects of their own. Wolfram feels very strongly that ‘his’ kind science is one through which amateurs will unearth major discoveries, and he has been thinking of various ways to assist them.” All this sounds like fun.


Vice President Chenney warns that additional terror attacks are “almost a certainty.” I agree with Blake Ross: this is not the time to play the blame game about September 11. We’re all in this together. Jef Raskin explains how the next terror attacks may be worse if terrorists use a small remote-controlled airplane with a deadly payload. Sadly, I’m sure this is but one of the many ways we are vulnerable. God help us.

Sun, May 19, 2002

2 for II

I just got back from seeing Episode II for the second time. I was surprised at how much more I found in it than the first time. There are many parallels with The Empire Strikes Back and I enjoyed picking up on some I hadn’t noticed. Perhaps knowing the plot changed my perception, but the acting seemed more nuanced than I thought in my first viewing. I caught echoes of Jake Lloyd’s portrayal of Anakin in Hayden Christensen’s vocal delivery, particularly in the early scene where he complains about Ben. It’s always difficult to be believable when using different actors to portray young and old, so even minor cues help. (Ewan McGregor seems perfect as a young Sir Alec Guinness.)

There’s a line in Episode II that got me thinking about R2-D2. In the diner, Ben says something like “If the droids could think, none of us would be here.” Throughout the Star Wars universe, droids pretty much do what they’re told. This was the downfall of the droid army in Episode I. Non-battle droids are pretty simplistic. R2-D2, on the other hand, appears self-directed, motivated, perhaps even sentient. No other droid seems to be so aggressive or loyal. He seems to be much more than a simple astromech droid. For instance, he leaves the ship after receiving the communication from Ben and surprises Amidala and Anakin by seeking them out. Interestingly, C-3PO does not seem to have this quality; it is amusing how he follows R2-D2 around.

I’ve heard comments that the story in Star Wars is really about the droids. R2 plays a primary role here. If I’m right, and he is sentient, it adds impact to Ani’s line to Amidala about having R2 with them. It’s fun to ponder anyway. I’m just thankful that R2 doesn’t behave like Number Five.

Sat, May 18, 2002


Blogdex from MIT’s media lab provides a fascinatingly quick look at the top stories in the world of blogs. How would you know the importance of purple carrots without it?

Fri, May 17, 2002

The way we do science is wrong

According to a Time Magazine article, Stephen Wolfram, the famed creator of Mathematica, says science has been broken for more than 300 years – and he can fix it. The article is about his new book, A New Kind of Science, in which Wolfram discusses how studying cellular automata may be better than trying to develop complex equations to explain nature. (Also see

Star Wars: Attack of the Clones

I saw Episode II yesterday. I thought it was awesome and far better than Episode I. After the chase at the start of the movie, I realized I had my mouth open watching the stunning visual effects. Very cool movie and fun to watch. Just don’t think too much about it.

Warning: Spoilers Ahead. The following contains information that might ruin your viewing of Clones. If you have not seen it yet, you might want to skip the following.

Some people have obviously thought about the Star Wars movies. The Weekly Standard has a humorous and controversial article suggesting that the Empire is good. The author makes a compeling case, but not without faults. He claims you cannot trust Leia’s claims because she willfully lies to the Empire, but accepts Chancellor Palpatine’s comments despite the fact that he is manipulative and deceitful to the Senators and Jedi.

Jerry Pournelle critiques the silliness of the movie, complaining that the Jedi bring knives to gunfights. Of course, light sabers aren’t just any old knife, but an energy weapon that can reflect blaster shots. Pournelle makes a good point about the silliness of the plot, particularly the knowledge of Ben’s friend at the diner, and the incompetence of the Jedi, Senate, and assassins.

Despite all this, I really loved the movie. The action and scenery are amazing. I found it perfectly believable that Jar Jar caused the galactic war, but cannot fault him too much–the Chancellor would have been able to manipulate someone else if he hadn’t. At least Jar Jar was treated as annoying and his lines were minimized. The one-liners from Threepio were great. Talking with friends after the movie, we decided that R2-D2 is like Batman’s toolbelt: anything he needs he has. It was fun to watch him climb stairs. I definitely want to see it again.

Netscape changes and rearranges has a new look. The colors are somewhat darker than previously and the home page is quite different in layout and shorter.

There are rumors that the next version of netscape will be 7.0. This has been suggested by the Netscape/7 useragent string in several bug reports. I suppose it is remotely possible that these are from AOL testing Gecko in AOL 7.0, but don’t think they’d use a Netscape 7 identifier for the AOL client.

Thu, May 16, 2002

What a dull name…

I’ve been testing out a Windows build of mozilla/browser. It has a number of usability improvements, including a return to having the URL entry box in its own separate toolbar, simplified menus, a slightly improved reload icon, and easier access to history. Check Blogzilla for screen shots and additional information. It’s clear that it needs a lot of polish, but it is somewhat better than Mozilla, if only because of the URL bar change. Update: If you download the build, make sure you launch it with mozilla.exe -chrome chrome://browser/content/ or you will not see any differences.

Trying to search Google for more information about mozilla/browser (or even mb) yields less than useful results. It makes me wish this project had a more interesting name.

Tue, May 14, 2002

Hiking in Kentucky

The Kentucky Trails Association is promoting the development and maintenance of a Kentucky-wide system of hiking trails. They want to work with other groups having similar goals, such as rails-to-trails organizations.

Mon, May 13, 2002

Pope via SOAP coming soon?

The pope talks about the Internet as a new forum for proclaiming the gospel:

The Internet causes billions of images to appear on millions of computer monitors around the planet. From this galaxy of sight and sound will the face of Christ emerge and the voice of Christ be heard? For it is only when his face is seen and his voice heard that the world will know the glad tidings of our redemption. This is the purpose of evangelization. And this is what will make the Internet a genuinely human space, for if there is no room for Christ, there is no room for man.

I suspect the pope is speaking at least partially figuratively, but thankfully there are already many icons available that show the face of Christ.

The essence of the Internet in fact is that it provides an almost unending flood of information, much of which passes in a moment. In a culture which feeds on the ephemeral there can easily be a risk of believing that it is facts that matter, rather than values. The Internet offers extensive knowledge, but it does not teach values; and when values are disregarded, our very humanity is demeaned and man easily loses sight of his transcendent dignity.

There’s a certain irony to posting comments like this to a blog (and in quoting the pope in the Orthodox Christianity category for that matter).

Preferences humor

Someday Mozilla will include every app you could ever want to have! Coming soon: peg board games. Matthew Thomas has more about the war against preferences.

Fri, May 10, 2002

A way to enhance blogs

Link to an article and it will return the favor (used to link to / dis / linkback.html ). This is a good idea that helps to reinforce the natural grouping, community-building, and conversational aspects of blogs. I expect to see it copied widely. [Hat tip to Jon Udell]

Update: Back in 2002 when this article was originally published, using the technique was a good idea. Unfortunately, spammer scum have now made the technique completely useless. They made this essentially throw away article the far and away most popular blog entry in October and December 2005, so I have renamed and edited it to hopefully make it less popular with the bad robots. In this case the permalink isn’t. Deal with it.

Spammers, since we have never published the places that you (supposedly) came from (I know the technical term, but am avoiding it) your efforts were completely wasted. Go do something worthwhile.

Google + Blogs

I stumbled across the musings of Andy Edmonds and got stuck for a while. Good information about Mozilla and UI design. I was intrigued by his suggestion of a scripting solution to the problem John Robert Boynton describes:

Google should recognize weblogs as a document and site structure, and link to the archive url, not the main page of the weblog… Thus it would be better to point to the archive. This would require a convention similar to the robots.txt convention. Google is perfectly placed to initiate the convention.

Thu, May 09, 2002

Barn raising, internet style

Robert X. Cringely writes about some fascinating ideas. In his latest article, he describes a new and powerful form of collaboration that is impossible without the internet. Cringely recently lost his son Chase to SIDS and wants to prevent other babies from suffering the same fate. I was skeptical when I read his original proposal to create baby monitoring techno-jammies. I was also stunned by the number of babies that die from SIDS each year. And as a parent, I can imagine how hard it would be to have your son die while lying on your lap. I look forward to reading more about the project and watching the barn go up.