Girlz on the Town

While I was writing the previous post, this picture came in via e-mail from Jaylene:

Girlz on the Town

That’s Xy in the corner. I note that she seems to have a drink in her hand. She and Jaylene took the streetcar to the Quarter for a girls’ night out, while I stayed home and finished my stupid novel. Oops, I mean novella.

It was kind of novel (no pun intended, please move along) to get the picture and see what they were up to. It makes me feel like I’m somehow included in the fun. Plus I’m a little bit reassured; they haven’t been murdered — at least not by the time this photo was taken. Is it just the gee-whiz factor, or is there something to this?

Turkey Prep


Jaylene Marsh came to visit us for Thanksgiving. She drove down from Indianapolis yesterday, and today she took this picture with her phone and e-mailed it to me. I posted the picture to Flickr. (Thanks, Rachel, for turning me on to the site.) So this is my first real attempt to post from Flickr to my blog, and thus to the roxlyst.


Yesterday the IT department here at the university finally delivered my new computer, a Macintosh G5. It was supposed to arrive this summer, but everything seems to run about three months late here. Nor is it what I requested. I asked for a dual 2.5GHz machine with a 250GB hard drive, 2GB of RAM and a 23″ monitor. What I got is a dual 1.8GHz machine with a 150GB drive and a 20″ monitor.

But at least I got my RAM.

I spent most of the day making the transition to the new machine. I’d braced myself for an ordeal, something akin to a brain transplant, but actually it was the smoothest upgrade I think I’ve ever done. The only real glitch was that my old G4 wouldn’t boot into target mode, which would have allowed me to attach its hard drive to the new system via FireWire and transfer data at superfast speed. This didn’t work because my old G4 was a custom build with a SCSI drive. (Apparently you need to have an ATA drive on bus 0.) So I booted the new machine into target mode and transferred some files that way, and then did the rest over the local network, and it was all pretty easy.

I wonder if these old Hitachi RasterOps Mc 8115 monitors are worth anything. They cost about $1000 each. I remember that I was so excited when I first got them five years ago. Two years later I was still beside myself. I really thought that the 3200 pixel wide display was something to rejoice in. But I’m tired of looking at those CRTs. Side by side with the new display, they just look old and blurry and dim. And they weigh a ton.


My new display may only be 1680 pixels wide, but it’s much easier on the eyes.

We Were First! — Weren’t We?

I recently became aware of a challenge to one of our main claims to fame, namely that ROX was the first TV series on the Internet.

When I was preparing for my talk at NOFCPUG I did a Web search that turned up a number of references to the Computer Chronicles as the first show on the Internet. I couldn’t find any documentation that seems authoritative, nor could I find a precise date for the event — only the year, 1995. I have researched this topic several times over the past 12 years, but I never encountered this claim for Computer Chronicles before. I contacted them via their website and asked when they put their first show online. Eight days later, I still haven’t heard back from them.

I also noticed that an article on Wikipedia cited 1995 as the year of the “first television show broadcast via the Internet,” but without mentioning the name of the show. I posted a query asking why the name was not specified. Within a few days, a name was added — Computer Chronicles, not ROX.

So I posted a follow-up, the thrust of which I will summarize here:

I have reason to believe that Computer Chronicles was not the first TV show on the Internet. I think it was a television series called ROX, which debuted on the Internet on April 15th of 1995.

I am reluctant to make that change to the timeline myself, though, because I was and am involved in the production of ROX. I am very obviously biased! It would be contrary to the spirit of Wikipedia for me to make to make such a change. I respect the Wikipedia project too much to engage in self-aggrandizement. I hope my comments are not perceived as such.

Nevertheless, I would like to offer the following evidence. Below I am pasting the text of an article which appeared in Time magazine on May 1st, 1995.

Joe Nickell and Bart Everson, a couple of goofy, twentysomething guys from Bloomington, Indiana, are sick of small fame. For three years their satirical public-access TV show has played to critical acclaim in the greater Bloomington area, but it has never attracted the kind of national attention that would capture a slot on network TV. Though local sponsors chip in enough to keep Everson clothed, housed and fed, Nickell still has to support himself as a waiter. So the pair set their sights beyond broadcast TV, beyond cable TV, to the computer networks. Last week, as their 85th episode, Global Village Idiots, was flickering across Bloomington televisions, it was simultaneously stored on the Internet, where millions of people worldwide could retrieve it — the first television show broadcast in cyberspace. [Emphasis added]

Although the “satirical public-access TV show” is not mentioned by name, it is in fact ROX, as my second piece of evidence makes clear: This article from Wired Magazine, dated December 1995.

Should any Wikipedians find my evidence compelling, I hope they will make a change to the timeline. I won’t do it myself for the reasons cited above. I have offered to provide more evidence in the form of Usenet posts and personal journal entries.

Obviously I’d like to think ROX was first, but I’d also like to get the straight facts on record, even if they prove otherwise.

Rolex Spam

Just in the last few days I’ve been getting a bunch of Rolex spam. It’s the electronic equivalent of a guy in the alley who says, “Psst, wanna buy a Rolex, cheap?” Apparently I’m not the only one. Seems to have started on October 17th, and it’s hitting worldwide. I wonder if, in the future, we’ll refer to major spam events, like we refer to floods and earthquakes and hurricanes. “Yeah, I remember the big Rolex spam deluge of ought-four.”

Update — The Spam Report ran a story titled ‘Rolex’ spam taps into bling-bling culture on October 25th.

Dive Out

Wow. Mark Pilgrim seems to be giving up the blogging life. The final terse post came yesterday, and today his Atom feed returns a 410 Gone.

Mark’s blog, dive into mark, was the first blog I ever made a habit of reading. He displayed an acerbic wit even when addressing to dry topics like character encoding or, for that matter, HTTP Error 410.

I realize he’s still alive, but I feel like he’s gone too. I miss him already.

Geeks Gone Wild

A coupla profs at Xavier are doing a workshop today called “Geeks Gone Wild,” about how they’ve used QuickTime clips to jazz up some of their classes.

To promote the workshop, they produced a short video spot, which they planned and shot and edited on their own. Then they asked me to help tighten it up. I said I’d do it so long as my name wasn’t associated with it. There wasn’t much to do; I just cut out a little dead air here and there, added a short voiceover and a closing graphic. The video was posted online and should be available for a while.

When the link was sent out to all faculty, my name was included after all. Sure enough, all day Friday people were telling me how much they liked the video and that I’d done a good job. I replied that the real credit goes to the profs who did most of the work and that my involvement was minimal.

When I ran into MaPó, she asked me, “What’s up with this ‘Geeks Gone Wild’ thing?” I replied again with the story of how I wasn’t supposed to be credited — but it turns out she hadn’t even noticed my name. She saw the title “Geeks Gone Wild” and instantly thought of me. She said that I’m a “poster child for geekdom.”


Note: Geeks Gone Wild has nothing to do with Gimps Gone Wild.

The Library of Babel

My work on interlibrary loan and remote database querying is finally starting to pay off. I’m happy to announce that you can now retrieve a page from the Library of Babel at Working with such a large data set is a challenge, and there are a few bugs. I can specify the wall, the shelf, the book, even the exact page number, but I can’t figure how to specify the exact hexagonal room. Indeed, there seems to be no indexing scheme at all for the hexagons. If anybody figures this out, please let me know. There’s a particular book I’m looking for somewhat desperately.

Scrabble Days 4 & 5

Mike finished his 30th round of Scrabble yesterday. His final standing for the tournament: He’s ranked #118 in Division 1, having won fourteen games and lost sixteen.

That’s all for Mike. He and Susie hit the road back to Bloomington this morning. I enjoyed their visit. Of course XY found it a bit stressful, being as they’re her parents and all.

Today is also the final day of the Scrabble Championship. It’s just two people duking it out for the big title: David Gibson and Trey Wright. The final games can even be “replayed” on the Scrabble Association website.

Update: Trey played the word “lez” and had to retract it because the game will be televised. How silly! Thanx to Anal for the link.

Scrabble Day 3

Miike won five games and lost three today at the Scrabble Championship. One of his opponents scored a triple triple with the word defiling. A triple triple is a word that stretches over two triple word scores. 13 (for defiling) * 3 * 3 + 50 (for playing all seven tiles) = 167 points for that play.

iMovie Bugs

At last, someone has acknowledged the iMovie “Save Frame As…” bug. I was beginning to think I was crazy, because this damn thing has been annoying me ever since iMovie 3 came out back in early 2003, and I could never find any mention of this bug, though surely it must have bewildered thousands of users across the globe.

Well, iMovie 3 is widely known to be buggy. I thought I’d do my part by sharing a fix for a problem that has been messing with my mind the past few weeks.

First, the problem: I’ve encountered this a few times on different machines in different situations. Audio and video appear to capture correctly. Clips on the shelf play back both audio and video. But clips in the timeline play back video only — no audio!

The fix: Open your project file in a text editor like BBEdit. Look at the tenth line or thereabouts. You may find something like this:

AudioTrackMute: 1 1 1

And that’s the problem. It should be:

AudioTrackMute: 0 0 0

Change the ones to zeroes and the problem should be fixed. Easy. Yet I can find no mention of this solution, or even the problem, using Google. Hopefully this write-up will help someone else who encounters the same problem.

I Got Mines

Daring Fireball Shirt

Back in June, John Gruber tried something daring. He asked his readers for money to support his blog, Daring Fireball.

It’s a great blog, probably the best I’ve seen on the Mac OS. I might have thrown some cash his way just out of general principle. It’s that good. What really clinched it, though, what separated me from my hard-earned cash, was the cool t-shirt design in my favorite color.

So I bought a shirt.

It arrived today, and it’s cool. I even wore it to a Web development meeting at work, but everyone was too preoccupied with Important Stuff to ask me what “Daring Fireball” meant.

100,000 Spam E-mails

I’ve been letting the Mac OS X Mail client decide what’s junk for the last seventeen months. As of this morning, it has identified 100,031 e-mail messages as junk and filed them away, sight unseen, in a designated junk folder. That’s 44,288 messages to my “private” e-mail address; the rest have accumulated through a couple accounts that I manage for other people.

Of my 44,288 junk mail messages, the most popular subject line seems to be — no subject at all. I ran a few keyword searches and found these results:

  • 985 home
  • 727 loan
  • 609 penis
  • 545 vicodin
  • 523 viagra
  • 508 money
  • 457 mortgage
  • 376 sex
  • 195 enlarge
  • 193 women
  • 149 cialis
  • 60 wow
  • 50 orgasm
  • 34 xxx
  • 34 hydrocodone
  • 2 vagina

This is hardly a scientific statistical analysis, but it’s amusing to see “penis” beat “vagina” by such a margin. Need I add that with such a large volume of spam it’s impossible to be sure there isn’t any legit mail buried in there somewhere? But I’ve wasted too much time on this already. It’s time to delete this 199 MB load of crap.

A pox on all spammers.

Info Jones

The website has been down since July 4th and it’s really chapping my ass.

See, my favorite news aggregator, Shrook, uses for distributed checking of all the sites I read. Distibuted checking is cool; it appeals to my notions of a good cyber-ecology.

Sure, I could run Shrook without using, but that seems so primitive.

You don’t realize you’ve turned into a junkie until someone gets between you and your smack. Why, today I almost missed the fact that my favorite film ever is being released on DVD, and that S-Train and T-Steel are running for Prez/VP in 2008, and that Julie and Dave Summitt are having a baby. (I should have been able to predict that last, since everyone my age is having a baby.)

I need my fix.


A couple of weeks ago, PJ mentioned he’d recently tutored a mutual acquaintance of ours on some of the finer points of Web authoring.

“Yeah,” I said, “I’ve tutored him many times.”

“But I bet you’ve never gotten paid!”

And PJ pulled out his wallet. Sure enough, he had a personal check for $120. Then he explained his policy: He charges $40 an hour for consultations, with a three-hour minimum.

Two nights ago, I got a call from a woman named Tammy. She said she was a friend of my boss. She had some questions about a website for her company, and my boss had suggested that she call me. We arranged a time to get together.

It so happened that PJ was there, at my house, when I got this call. I hung up, and his reaction was immediate: “I’d charge $40 an hour with a three-hour minimum.”

So this morning I met with Tammy and spent a little less than one hour looking at her HTML and answering her questions. She was friendly and intelligent, and I enjoyed helping her. I felt like she really understood what I was saying and got a lot out of it.

But I didn’t charge her a penny. And what I’m wondering is: Am I a nice guy, or just a sucker?


AltaVista reveals the following word count on the Web:

beep:      625,434
beeep:      12,191 
beeeep:      2,962 
beeeeep:     1,264 
beeeeeep:      931 
beeeeeeep:     453 
beeeeeeeep:    866 
beeeeeeeeep:   273 
beeeeeeeeeep:  562 
beeeeeeeeeeep: 131

What I found most intriguing is the surprisingly low count for beeeeeeeeep (9 E’s). I can’t imagine why this is the case.

So I repeated the search with variants of the word “bleep” and got these results:

bleep:     51,388 
bleeep:       328 
bleeeep:      170 
bleeeeep:      95 
bleeeeeep:     48 
bleeeeeeep:    36 
bleeeeeeeep:   19 
bleeeeeeeeep:  33 
bleeeeeeeeeep: 14 
bleeeeeeeeeeep: 7 

Look at that — there’s a SPIKE at the 9 E variant!!!

What could possibly account for this?