Entries for June 2002 (July 2002 »    August 2002 »    September 2002 »    Archives)


Hoping for a bulge in the old onion bag

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 29, 2002

I've got the World Cup fever folks. Finally. All the early morning games and limited TiVo hard drive space put a damper on the whole affair for me, but today's Turkey/South Korea game had me on the edge of the couch. In honor of tomorrow's matchup between Brazil and Germany, I'm temporarily changing my name to Rasonaldo Kottke. Despite my German surname and heritage, I'll be rooting for Brazil. Ole, ole ole ole...

How the other half listens

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 29, 2002

I've been watching MTV and listening to some top 40 on iTunes for the past couple of days. I shouldn't be surprised by this, but the music sounds exactly like it did when I was in college. The fashion is up-to-date and the band names are different (Avril Lavigne is a present-day Alanis Morissette), but the sounds seem like they're coming from tribute bands. And don't even get me started on rap and R&B...talk about stagnant, nothing new there for years.

To its credit (and great advantage), despite its derivative nature, today's pop music is still incredibly addictive...I just can't get some of them out of my head. When I went to do the dishes yesterday, they "looked like a job for me" rather than just a simple chore. Thanks pop music, you make life more fun and manageable!

Me link pretty today

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 28, 2002

Just about every time I talk to him, Rael askes me what I'm reading, aware that friends are often the best source of potential new reading material. In the last few months, several people I know โ€” who all have fairly different interests and backgrounds โ€” have independently recommended that I read some David Sedaris. Buckling finally under the intense pressure, I've added Me Talk Pretty One Day to my wishlist in the hopes of actually purchasing it some day soon. (I've noticed my wishlist isn't so much a wish for products as it is a wish for time, time to read all those books, time to watch all those movies, and time to make the money to purchase them.)

Silver spoons and smelly garbage

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 28, 2002

For some reason, the neighbors think its acceptable to clog the trash chute with their garbage and then just leave it that way for someone to clean up their mess. Maybe they think that since daddy paid for the gigantic BMW in the garage, they don't need to bother with stuff like that.

Thin, but not super thin

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 27, 2002

The thin page is a weblog for "people who want to be very thin, enjoy fasting, or who are very thin and want to stay this way":

"Some of the people here have anorexia, bulimia and other eating disorders. This group is not about getting super thin OR about recovery. It's about having friends: people who will understand."

There are all sorts of people out there and little by little, they are all finding people they can relate to because of the Web.

Behind the scenes

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 27, 2002

Cyan Pictures, a startup indie production company, is using a weblog on the front page of their site to document the process of getting films made and to get people involved in that process. It's just getting started, but like Neil Gaiman's journal and Roger Avary's journal, it should be an interesting look at the business of producing media.

Not afraid to show their type in public

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 27, 2002

Public Lettering, a walk in central London explores a variety of typography around London. It reminds me somewhat of The Minneapolis Sign Project.

Second verse, same as the first

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 26, 2002

I'm currently listening to 18, Moby's new album. It sounds exactly like Play: gospel vocals, similar samples, familar synth noises, and the same piano melodies that he used on Play and Everything is Wrong several years ago. There's some good tracks on there, but I'm disappointed overall. Come on Moby, how about something a bit fresher?

Minority Report

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 26, 2002

Fifteen minutes into Minority Report, I was hooked hard. Good action, intelligent dialogue, thoughtful vision of the future, careful crafting of the plot. Spielberg worked hard to create a world in which people could lose themselves for two hours and twenty minutes. He had me for the two hours but the Hollywood ending snapped me out of it and I left the theatre with a bad taste in my mouth. The last twenty minutes seemed to be from a completely different film, like the finale of a Tom Clancy movie got tacked onto the end of it. I can't remember the last movie I saw that was so good at the beginning and so mediocre at the end.

Life in the fast lane (not a metaphor)

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 24, 2002

Motoring along the freeway, you observe several types of drivers. There's the guy who can't maintain a constant speed and you end up passing each other about fourteen times over the course of 45 minutes, developing in the process some sort of passing rivalry that becomes really important about the fourth or fifth pass to the point of wanting to kill each other.

There's the guy that won't get out of the fast lane when there's a faster car on his tail. You find lots of these in California, but not so many in Minnesota which makes it all the more annoying when you do observe one gumming up the well-oiled freeway machine.

There's the guy that passes you, pulls back into the slow lane in front of you, and slows down to a speed one or two mph lower than what you have your cruise control set at, forcing you to pass him. In some cases, this is the opening volley in the passing wars mentioned above.

And then there's the lucky bastards. A bunch of us were flying along in the fast lane last night, exceeding the suggested speed limit by a significant margin. The guy in front got clipped by a state trooper, missing me by three cars and four seconds. Good thing I wasted about that much time at the gas station getting out to check that I had secured the gas cap (which I hadn't).

Computers and cat baths

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 23, 2002

My mom and I are sitting here in front of her new-ish computer and I'm showing her how I can update my Web site from anywhere. The cat is behind us on the bed giving himself a bath.

Let's play the Visio game

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 20, 2002

The woman next to me on the plane this evening spent about 45 minutes meticulously constructing a map of North America from individual state and province components in Visio. She had Canada and the United States almost completed by the time we landed. It looked as though she was doing it as a way to pass the time rather than for a presentation or project.

TiVo for your car

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 20, 2002

37BetterMotors, designed by the fine Web craftsmen at 37signals, offers a new perspective on what automotive Web sites could be. 37BetterMotors could do for cars what TiVo did for television, turning car ownership or leasing into an activity, not the passive exercise it is currently.

I am listening to this now

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 19, 2002

iTunes is a quality piece of software...especially when you can script it. Kung-Tunes is a wee app written with AppleScript that takes the current track info from iTunes and FTPs it to a server of your choosing. My choice is my Web server, allowing me to display here -- for you, kind reader -- the track I am currently listening to on my own personal computer.

Currently listening to:

Thanks to What Do I Know, a quality piece of online narrative and fun-making, for passing this along to me and all of you too.

1000+ things that art is

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 19, 2002

An excerpt from Joe Maller's artlist:

Art is a luminous neon sign.
Art is obvious.
Art is everywhere.
Art is whatever art does.
Art is only what you believe it to be.
Art is an atheist.
Art is an aestheticist.
Art needs to feel abandoned.
Please don't neglect your art.
You can't run from art.

Christian Marclay's Video Quartet

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 19, 2002

Christian Marclay's Video Quartet was the most interesting thing I saw at the SFMOMA yesterday. Video Quartet is a movie featuring four simultaneous clips from other movies shown side-by-side, each one contributing some sort of music, sound effect, or vocal to a 13-minute visual mix tape. The result is as if Mike Figgis had directed an Avalanches music video...but way better. "Richly layered" doesn't begin to describe the experience.

Little Engines Electronic Reading Tour

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 18, 2002

Hello! TNI Books (tnibooks.com) has occupied this website for a brief period of time. It will be over before you know it, and odds are good that if you've come here in search of something interesting, you won't go away disappointed.

Welcome to the LITTLE ENGINES Issue Three Electronic Reading Tour!

The Pockets by Paul Maliszewski

"There is nothing that makes one feel so much at home in a foreign city as knowing a good bar: a place where on can feel comfortable quickly, and go back to, in the hope, if not the certainty, of being recognized." โ€”-Financial Times

Let me give you this example: In Marrakech, at Tapster's, everyone knows my name. Because I tell it to them, straight out. In a way I instruct them, but totally without guile, mind you. I say to them, I say, Sound it out now. I say, Listen to me. I say, Watch my mouth. See my lips? It's easy. I say, Listen, a wise man once told me that no sound is sweeter to a man than the sweet sound of his own name. And I say to them, Ergo, because I like the sound of that too, Ergo, I will pay you, right now, right here, understand? to tell me mine.

I've discovered that money, when strategically deployed, assists the process of memory formation and, in particular, promotes the cementation of certain long-term memories. The upshot there being that everywhere I go people know who I am.

I carry all the funny little pink and yellow and orange currencies of the world, in my pants pockets, my wallet, and stuffed in my back-up billfold. Some I have zipped into my belt, in a discrete pouch. I line my shoes with the stuff; I walk all over it. In my hotel room, alone, before venturing out into the night, I sit on the edge of the bed and fan a sheaf of bills into a thin layer and spread it over my calves. The TV in the corner is tuned to VH-1, replaying an in-depth documentary history of rock history documentaries. My gold-toe socks, pulled smartly up and over the bills, hold the thin layers of currency in place.

The wondrous elastic properties of my socks have never once embarrassed me. Disinterested third-parties have commented that the subtle effect on my legs' musculature is somewhat stunning, provocative even, so long as I'm seated just right, and there's the sort of light that not so much hides as forgives flaws and perhaps a little of that music they play, in the background, not blaring, never blaring, and so long as I have my one good leg dangling jauntily over the other, and then the cuff of my pants (worsted wool!) creeps up just so. It's quite perfect.

You may have to work at it, but they'll remember your name provided you get a fix on their price. Don't let the "language barrier" grind negotiations to a halt. Use your hands, gesture if you have to, speak loudly. My name, I say, pointing to myself. My name, I repeat, thumping my sternum with cupped hands. Cupped hands being what you call your inclusive, gentle, and warm body language.

I have inner pockets, coin purses, money clips, a beautiful chrome change machine hanging from a leather strap around my neck. My checkbook's the size of a photo album, one for a big family. Everything's monogrammed, embossed or engraved or otherwise emblazoned with the initials that spell the very names by which I'm known and are sweet for me to hear. These days I pad the shoulders of my suit with rolls of American quarters, which coin seems to be hot with the kids. Used to be nickels were. Even my pockets have pockets, and they're all full.

My bad leg doubles as a bank safe. The Vault is what I call it. It's got a surgical steel, triple-tumbler combination lock machined right into the kneecap, just set right into the sucker. The combination changes each month. Has to, for security. Additionally, I possess a killer fanny-pack whose equal is not known, will not, in fact, ever be known, because I had it custom-tailored in southern Italy, out of Spanish leather and the finest Libyan thread. This southern Italian guy did the stitching using a fossilized pine needle from a rare tree found only near the very top of the western face of Mt. Sinai, he told me.

You can hold your fingers up to show how high you're willing to go. For instance, two fingers means you'll give them two of whatever it is they happen to want most of all in the place wherever you happen to be at the time. My name, I say, gesturing openly and warmly, and then hold up seven fingers in front of my face. Then I look at my fingers outstretched like that, nodding at them from left to right, to emphasize the sheer plenitude of digits I'm abstractly offering in place of what they want most of all.

When in Alma-Ata, Kazakhstan, you have to track down Lou's or Tip-A-Few if that's closed the night you go. The Kazakhs moved their capital last summer sometime, I think, or maybe the year before, so neither place is overrun with miserable administrator types anymore. You get a whole different crowd, friendlier and polite like you wouldn't believe, while still not compromising the frisson of danger thing I associate with all those breakaway republics.

Which reminds me, there was a place on the island of Borneo, this is in the interior, that used to be called Olde Ale House. It got bought out five or six years ago by Slim's. Slim's is sort of a semi-local chain of similar independently-managed establishments in the western Pacific Malay region. In spite of the new owners and what have you, it's still good. They kept the same bartender on. Definitely worth the trip if you have time off in Jakarta and just want to get away from everything for awhile.

In Cabo Frio, which I prefer to Rio de Janeiro - same coastal clime, same access to airports, same etc. - do yourself a favor and inquire about this place that's a bar disguised as a fully-operational eighteen-wheeler. It doesn't even have a name. Say the truck/bar is driving by, on the outside it looks every bit the spitting image of those trucks that carry the poisonous gases, all plastered with red signs and stern prohibitions, saying whatever 'notice' and 'warning' are in Portuguese. But inside they've got a teakwood bar that will quite simply impose a stiff excise tax on your lungs.

The next time you're in Djibouti, try Ed's. I met an Account Rep for Barbasol in Gdansk who told me about it. He was there creating some new popular thinking about facial hair. And go to The Pub in Perth. That's what they call it, everyone'll know what you mean. At the South Pole, there's a little place, Eddie's Tavern. It's quaint but not too. Not so many people know about it yet. You can walk in there a second time with every certainty of being recognized as a regular. You don't get that whole expense-account crowd in there.

For a paper copy of this story, along with other fine surprises, check out the newest issue of LITTLE ENGINES at tnibooks.com.

An eventful non-eventful trip to the grocery store

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 17, 2002

Possible reasons why I almost got into 3 or 4 car accidents on the way to and from the grocery store just now:

1. Learning new keyboard habits for Mac OS X is so mentally taxing that I forgot how to drive a car.

2. Everyone was hiding in my blind spot. A car and a pedestrian jumped right out of there, looking to kill.

3. When the car radio is turned way up, the music drowns out your voice and you can fool yourself into thinking that you actually sound like Thom Yorke.

4. Chicken apple sausage contains apples? I always thought that was a just a cute name...or a misnomer, like Pennsylvania Dutch. This line of thinking may have caused my mind to wander slightly.

Best wishes for a speedy recovery

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 17, 2002

My best wishes for a speedy recovery go out to hospital-bound Dave Winer. I haven't been irritated by anything on the Web since Friday and I think Dave's absence is to blame. ;) Hopefully he just pulled his blogging muscle and will be back in action soon.

The illusion of the Internet infinity

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 17, 2002

Olivier has some good thoughts about the illusion of the Internet infinity:

"Next time you discover a great site that appeals to your interests, think about sticking to it in the future. Participate in its growth, if only by promoting it to your friends. Assuming that Google will always pick up good stuff for you is dangerous, because Google doesn't create anything but a collection of links. Always on the move nomads don't create cities, yet it takes more than temporary tents to host and grow great sites. The Internet as a whole might feel infinite, but don't take for granted there are and always will be an infinite number of alternatives to the sites you love."

Been there, done that times a jillion

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 16, 2002

How does the old adage go? All possible thought and speech has been thought or spoken? Something like that anyway. The Internet adds an interesting twist by documenting a lot of it for relatively easy reference. The good thing about this is the Internet becomes the lazyweb, a place where "if you wait long enough, someone will write/build/design what you were thinking about"...and I'll add to that "or already has". The downside is the vast Web reminds you that you're not as clever as you think you are. Witness Bill Quick's zeal in claiming the coinage of the word "blogosphere". In fact, Brad Graham of the Bradlands first used the word "blogosphere" way back in September 1999, more than two years before Quick first used it.

The simple joy of being connected

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 14, 2002

Remember when you first logged onto a BBS, Compuserve, AOL, or connected directly to the Internet at school and felt the thrill of being connected to people and information around the world? I'm experiencing the simple joy of being connected while sitting here on the couch using the wireless connection we just hooked to our DSL modem. Like TiVo does for TV watching, a laptop with wireless Internet access transforms how people use computers in a way that needs to be experienced to fully understand.

To put it another way: Wheeeeeeeeee!!! I'm posting to kottke.org from the couch!

Star Wars in digital

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 14, 2002

Oh, and Meg is absolutely spot on with her assessment of Star Wars in digital...it made the movie so much better. Even the previews before the movie looked amazingly crisp and clear. It reminded me of the first time I watched a movie on DVD.

What We're Doing When We Blog

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 14, 2002

Meg has an article on O'Reilly today about What We're Doing When We Blog. It's a look at how the format makes possible the type of interaction we see when people use weblogs, regardless of what the weblog is about. The last line of the article is a great one: "As with free speech itself, what we say isn't as important as the system that enables us to say it." I don't know if I completely agree with that, but it's an interesting perspective.

Developers, developers, developers, developers...(but what about the users?)

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 14, 2002

I agree, Netscape 4 has to go. Please get it out of my sight. It sucks because it's not a browser as much as it's a dirty bomb lobbed over the fence in the heat of the browser wars. If Netscape 4 were a car, they would have recalled it years ago.

But I'm not sure that Mozilla is any better. Mozilla is a toy built by developers for developers...a return to the days of Mosaic when some geeks in Illinois built browsers for other geeks around the world. Developers slobber over things like support for standards and XUL (which are cool), but end users have different needs and priorities.

Yeah, remember them? The end users? The ones that you're building the software for? They don't care about your damn cross-platform interoperability...they want fast, they want features to help them browse the Web, they want an interface that was designed by someone who knows about interface design, and they want a good user experience.

I know I'm being unfair because the developers really did build Mozilla for themselves. Mozilla isn't so much a browser as a platform for people to build cool, useful software for people to use. But the disconnect between developers building great platforms and ending up with genuinely usable software on the other end is becoming more and more frustrating. Make a Unix that my mom can use (Apple is getting there with OS X). Make a Mozilla-based browser that is half Web browser and half Watson. Turn the simple tech of RSS aggregators into Daily News Readers. Make weblog tools that don't rely on a writer's knowledge of outlines, permalinks, the word "blog", or RSS feeds. Build Wiki software that doesn't rely on a writer's knowledge of difficult posting syntax or the Wiki Essence.

Software for people, people!

Brilliant chemistry hack

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 13, 2002

When Germany invaded Denmark at the beginning of World War II, exporting gold became a crime. Niels Bohr, entrusted with the Nobel Prize medals of Max von Laue and James Franck, didn't want those gold medals to fall into German hands or risk smuggling them out of the country. He and a colleague hid the medals for the duration of the war by dissolving them in acid, each medal in its own jar. When the war ended, the gold was recovered from solution and recast by the Nobel Foundation. (from The Making of the Atomic Bomb)

Just like a rejection letter from the New Yorker subscription department

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 12, 2002

I submitted this list to McSweeney's a few weeks ago and they rejected it. I thought it had promise, but what do I know?

The 2003 NATO Phonetic Alphabet, Sponsored by Some of Your Favorite Products and Services

A - Compaq AlphaServer
B - Bravo, a Cablevision Systems Corporation network
C - Charlie's Angels 2, a major motion picture starring Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, and Lucy Liu
D - Delta Air Lines
E - Echo Digital Audio
F - Foxtrot, by Bill Amend
G - The Volkswagen Golf TDI
H - The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino Las Vegas
I - Grammy nominee India.Arie
J - Romeo + Juliet, now available on DVD
K - 94.3 KILO, Colorado's Pure Rock!
L - EDEN Organic Baby Lima Beans
M - Michael Jordan Cologne
N - November AG, The Molecular Company
O - Oscar Mayer Beef Franks
P - Papa John's Pizza
Q - Normandin Hotel Quebec
R - The Alfa Romeo 156 SportWagon
S - GMC Sierra SLT 4WD Extended Cab
T - The Annual Hollywood Tango Festival
U - King Uniforms and Industrial Laundry
V - Victor Company of Japan
W - Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey
X - Chandra X-ray Observatory Center
Y - The New York Yankees
Z - The Universal Zulu Nation, International Hip Hop Awareness Movement

Sushi wrapping robot

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 12, 2002

Are you in the market for a sushi wrapping robot? It's got a wasabi depositor and everything. P.S. The sushi wrapping robot is not to be confused with Cycler the Rapping Robot, who gives presentations to schools "on waste related issues in a memorable and interactive way". (via p/tm)

Change is constant, Jason is not

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 11, 2002

Moving is hard work. In the past few months, I've gone from focusing on design to focusing more on writing and programming, worked on learning more about Unix (from knowing little), switched from hand-coding my Web site to Movable Type, moved from Windows to OS X, went from remembering all of my appointments in my head to using calendaring software to keep track of them, switched from Eudora to Entourage, and went from a full-time job to freelancing (and now hopefully back again).

That's just a long way of saying that if I owe you email or have been bad at getting back to you, especially in the past couple of weeks, I apologize and will try to do better now that I'm finished with the moving for awhile. I hope.

Switching to the Mac

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 11, 2002

Apple's switch campaign (featuring BoingBoing's Mark Frauenfelder) comes at an interesting time for me. My first real experience with a Mac was in college. At the time, WYSIWYG word processing on the PC didn't exist (at least on the slow PCs they had at the computer lab) so my friends and I all used the Macs in the tiny Mac lab to write our papers. We wondered why everyone else seemed to be making the wrong choice.

Then I got a 486. Windows 3.11. It worked enough like a Mac to satisfy me...you know, being that it was in my room and all. And it crashed less.

When I started working as a Web designer after college, I got the chance to work on Macs again. It wasn't pretty. Compared to similar Windows-based PCs, they were expensive, they crashed frequently, and they were slow. My 486/66 Mhz machine running Windows 95 was faster, cheaper, and more stable than any Mac I encountered at the work place, even a top-of-the-line 300 Mhz PowerMac that crawled like a little baby when I gave it any sort of task more taxing than opening a file. I made my decision then and there: Windows forever, Macintosh never.

That is, until last week. Last week I bought a shiny new iBook to use as my primary computer...and I love the damn thing so far. Here's why I decided to go with the iBook:

- Unix. Command line on Windows is a joke. I wanted a computer that could easily run Apache, MySQL, and Perl in the environment for which they were originally programmed. Windows can run all that stuff, but why bother when you can go with BSD?

- Professional GUI to go with the Unix. Linux will never be big on the desktop until they have a professionally designed GUI to go with it. I don't care how much power the OS has under the hood if the UI is clunky. I want the command line, but I also need to use the latest desktop applications like Photoshop (and spare me your GIMP recommendations. As if.).

- Portability. My Sony Vaio laptop has plenty of power and a big-ass screen, but it weighs a metric ton and lasts about 20 minutes on battery power. The iBook is small, light, and the battery, as near as I can tell, lasts forever.

- Power and price. 95% of my time on the computer is spent writing email, browsing the Web, listening to MP3s, coding HTML/Perl, and a bit of Photoshop & Flash. I don't need a top-of-the-line 2 Ghz processor to do any of that. The 700 Mhz G3 in my iBook, along with 640 Mb of RAM, gives me all the power I need to do all those things at a pretty reasonable price.

- Happy customers. I know lots of people who know things about stuff. You know the type...they have the answers to all of your technical questions. I trust the opinions of these people about computers and personal technology. They all have iBooks and TiBooks...and they love them.

- The Apple benevolent dictatorship. Apple closely controls both the hardware and the software associated with the Mac. I used to think this was a bad thing...a de facto dictatorship that drove prices up on the hardware and discouraged innovation on the software side. At this point, after wrestling with hardware incompatibilities on Windows for years (No Win2000 driver for some weirdo graphics card in your laptop? Too bad...you can't upgrade, sorry.), I still think Apple has that dictatorial power over their system, but I'm willing to embrace that. I just want my computer to work for the things I want to do with it, and if I have to pay a little more for it or not have access to all the latest software, so be it. Sometimes a benevolent dictatorship is better than a system with no accountability (Dell tech support: "Must be a software problem. Did you call Microsoft?" Microsoft tech support: "Oh, that's a hardware problem. You need to call Dell." Intel tech support: "Did you call Microsoft? That's a software problem for sure.")

I'm still in the very early stages of ownership, so I guess I'll see how all this works out for me in the next couple of months.

Hiking in Lassen

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 10, 2002

Paul has some photos up from this weekend's hiketacular. My camera is stuffed with photos but who knows if I will get a chance to put them online any time soon. And Paul is exactly right...as isolated and lost as we were at times, everyone in the group was pretty calm about it. Well, except for the slight avalanche we started. "Heads up! Boulder!"

My webcam eye and my baboon heart

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 10, 2002

Not a lot to say about it this morning with 50 other things to do after a relaxing/stressful weekend in the wilderness, but yes, that's me in the NY Times this morning with a webcam eye. Ok, maybe a few quick things:

1. One quote from me which didn't make it into the piece was "the more, the merrier".

2. Tools are important. So is the format. It's not as important as what people use them for, but tools and formats shape the environment in which they are used.

3. Most webloggers (75%+ at least, in my estimation) are not tech bloggers or warbloggers. They're just the ones that get all the press. LiveJournal has hundreds of thousands of members, a tiny fraction of whom talk about technology or current events. Out of the "10 most recently published blogs" on blogger.com right now, none are tech blogs or warblogs.

One Hit Wonders predates Googlewhacking

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 07, 2002

One Hit Wonders is a search engine game that dates from late 1996 where players try to find two-word submissions to Altavista that receive only one hit. This predates Googlewhacking by a good 5 years. OHW appears to have a superior scoring system as well, rewarding players for more common words.

I found this on the world's most thrilling games you can play involving your search engine page which also includes games such as Web Pursuit and the prime number game.

The top 10 search engines according to the top 10 search engines

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 06, 2002

Based upon the potentially specious assumption that searching for the word "search" on a search engine should return a list of links to other search engines, I determined what the top 10 search engines thought were the top 10 search engines. I started with Google and determined the rest of the most popular list as I went along based upon what sites came up most often.

1. Google
2. Yahoo!
3. Search.com
4. Altavista
5. Excite
6. Lycos
7. AllTheWeb
8. Metacrawler
9. Dogpile
10. Go.com

1. Google
2. Netscape
3. AOL
4. MSN
5. Search.com
6. Altavista
7. [search.ch]
8. Web Search
9. Search Hippo
10. search.nl

1. Google
2. Lycos
3. Altavista
4. Webcrawler
5. HotBot
6. Search.com
7. Mamma
8. AllTheWeb
9. AOL
10. Yahoo!

1. Search.com
2. AllTheWeb
3. MSN
4. [search.ch]
5. Google
6. AOL
7. Northern Light
8. Web Search
9. Mamma
10. Dogpile

1. Altavista
2. 37 Search Engines
3. Search.com
4. MSN
5. 89.com
6. METASpider
7. BotBot
8. [search.ch]
9. sear.ch
10. MegaWeb

1. Search.com
2. AllTheWeb
3. MSN
4. [search.ch]
5. Google
6. AOL
7. Northern Light
8. search.nl
9. Web Search
10. Altavista

1. MSN
2. AskJeeves
3. HotBot
4. Yahoo!
5. Search.com
6. LookSmart
7. Webcrawler
8. Lycos
9. Excite
10. AOL

1. AOL
2. Search.com
3. Yahoo!
4. Altavista
5. Google
6. Excite
7. AllTheWeb
8. MSN
9. Dogpile
10. Webcrawler

1. Lycos
2. Search.com
3. Google
4. Yahoo!
5. iWon
6. Webcrawler
7. Altavista
8. Excite
9. AllTheWeb
10. Northern Light

1. Lycos
2. Search.com
3. Google
4. Yahoo!
5. iWon
6. Webcrawler
7. Excite
8. AllTheWeb
9. Northern Light
10. HotBot

I was surprised at the variety of the results returned by the 10 sites (with the exception of Excite and Webcrawler, whose results are virtually identical). I was under the impression that the search sites had settled on two or three sets of data that were parcelled out by the likes of Inktomi.

As expected, Google appears on almost all of the lists. Google also gave the best results for what I was looking for. Out of the first 11 results, 10 were general Web search engines. Altavista was the worst by far. I had to dig through 26 pages of results to come up with 10 general Web search engines. The rest of the results were site-specific search engines of all shapes and sizes (like the search page for clorox.com). I think Altavista's problem lies with how much emphasis they place on what appears in the

of a page. Yahoo, even though they use Google's search technology, was pretty useless as well. <p>Special mention goes to <a href="http://www.askjeeves.com">AskJeeves</a>. Although not one of the top 10 search engines, the results it returned were quite good, even better than Google's.</p> <p>Notes: Search engine results are from 6/4/02. I didn't include paid listings (as much as possible) or results other than Web-wide search engines. Meta-search sites were also not included. Also, this is highly unscientific claptrap, but interesting nonetheless. Maybe.</p>

Some administrative concerns

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 04, 2002

I just donated to Movable Type. Ben and Mena are nice people and deserve to be compensated for providing me with this nifty bit of software for free.

And thanks to Movable Type, I'm now pinging weblogs.com. I'm not sure what the benefit is for me, but I can't find out if I don't play. Give me a ping, Vasily. One ping only please. (Hey! The ping didn't work. What the crap?)

The PowerPoint battle is joined

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 04, 2002

The time for talk is over. Leslie and Sippey are all set to battle it out to see which one of them is the top PowerPoint Master of All Time Forever and Ever Until the Heat Death of the Universe. Sources close to the contest say that Leslie has a slight edge over Sippey, partially because the rules forbid him from putting any pictures of his adorable child into his presentations.

Howard Rheingold at Reboot on the 3rd revolution

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 04, 2002

A great post on BoingBoing this morning about Howard Rheingold's talk at Reboot:

"Tim [Berners-Lee] didn't need to go to the owner of the Internet and ask for the architecture to be changed. Because the Internet was created as an open platform, he could just do it. He did it. He put it in the public domain. Journos ask him if he regrets not earning money from each page, but while there's nothing wrong with being an entrepreneur, most innovation comes out of the public domain."

Damn, I wish I was at Reboot right now.

Love is...

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 03, 2002

Love is not eating smelly food on the Tube. Read more about Tube etiquette.

Everything In Its Right Place

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 03, 2002

Even after listening to Kid A about a million times, Everything In Its Right Place can still almost make me cry. It's not what he's singing, it's how he sings it.

Automatic discovery of RSS feeds

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 03, 2002

Now that all of kottke.org is in MT, I can start worrying what to do about things like RSS feeds. I've been following the developments concerning the automatic discovery of RSS feeds, written about extensively on dive into mark (more here and here). Basically, you insert the following code:

into your Web page and then all an RSS aggregator needs to do is check that Web page for your RSS feed instead of you having to provide the aggregator with a specific URL. Pretty slick really.

However, I have a couple of concerns about how this works:

1. My understanding is that when a Web browser loads a page, it downloads all the documents referenced in the tags. That's how stylesheets work. Does this mean that every time someone loads up my Web site, they're going to get this RSS file as well, whether they want it or not? For popular sites, depending on the size of the RSS file, that could add up to several megabytes in additional bandwidth...and possible additional bandwidth charges. Does the "rel" attribute being set to "alternate" take care of this?

2. Do the aggregators need to check my Web page each time they download the RSS file or are they going to cache the location and then only check the Web page once a week or so for a possible location update? Again, serving two files when only one is called for could get costly, especially if an aggregator is calling for it multiple times a day.

Can anyone shed some light on this?

World Cup weblogs

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 02, 2002

World Cup 2002 is upon us and there are already several weblogs covering the event. There's World Cup 2002 Blog, the World Cup 2002 weblog at howardstreet.com, Blog Sport's World Cup 2002 Weblog, and SportsFilter's soccer category. The pros are getting into the act as well with the Guardian's World Cup Weblog and Time.com's World Cup Weblog. Update: there's also El Weblog del Mundial from Argentina.

If I'm not mistaken, this week brings us another milestone in the "coming of age" of weblogs: the first mention of the word "weblog" on the front page of CNN.com (a link to Time.com's World Cup Weblog, screenshot here).

Moving to Movable Type

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 02, 2002

After 4+ years of carefully editing kottke.org by hand with a text editor and an FTP client, I've finally invested some time putting everything into a content management system. After mucking around for months trying to build my own system that did absolutely everything (God, what the hell was I thinking?), I chose to go with Movable Type, a donation-supported off-the-shelf microcontent management system (mCMS).

MT isn't the perfect solution, but it's surprisingly powerful and well-suited to the task (something I discovered once I started poking around the documentation and on the MT support forum). I've been using it in the background for a couple weeks, getting all my past entries into the system and the templating figured out, and I'm quite happy with it so far. It'll be interesting to see how the switch from hand editing to using a publish-via-the-Web tool will affect what I post, how often I update, and so on.

If you're a repeat visitor to kottke.org, there are a few changes due to the switch that I should mention (although the first one is the only important one for casual readers):

- Posts now appear in strict reverse chronological order. Previously, the newest day appeared at the top of the page, but the posts within each day read from oldest to newest down the page. Posts now read from newest to oldest down the page within each day. The newest post is always at the top of the page.

- Each individual post now has a permanent link associated with it (the gray-colored bracketed timestamp at the end of each entry). Previously, I only permalinked each day's collection of posts.

- Each individual post is archived on its own page in addition to a monthly archive. For example, this post is located on this page and on the archive page for June 2002.

- Because each post is now archived individually, all of the specific post URLs have changed. This was a hard thing to do because it basically breaks all the links to specific kottke.org posts on other sites...and I hate it when sites do that to me. Thanks to Apache's RedirectMatch directive, I'm automatically redirecting incoming requests for the old links to the new files as best as I can for now. In the future, I'm going implement a better solution using mod_rewrite.

- The archive page has moved to this URL.

- A category listing on the archive page coming soon.

- RSS feed coming soon. Maybe.

Other than all that, everything here looks and works the same as before.

Oh, one more thing. In order to import all my previous posts into MT, I had to write a script to parse through the HTML of my old monthly archives. Parsing through 1.2 Mb of hand-coded HTML is an inexact science at best. If you happen to take a spin around in the archives, let me know if anything seems amiss. Thanks!

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