The Art of Identity

So he was on one of these errands and the person behind the counter didn’t know him and was asking for some identification. He had his hands full so first he put his son down on the counter and went to reach for his wallet. “Never mind”, the woman behind the counter said, “I recognize your son.”


Ben Hammersley writes

According to this blog post research has shown that people talking on IM treated users they considered to be geographically far away in a way different to those considered geographically near by: they trusted them less, were less likely to be persuaded by them, and were more likely to give deceptive portrayals of themselves.

So maybe we’re doing the wrong thing. Maybe the way to reduce trolling is not to display real locations, but to fake them – increasing the number of users who appear to be from the same town as you, in the hope that you’d take more care in your own backyard.

On the Internet, no one knows you’re a dog. But it’s obvious you are when you’re seen at the local grocer’s.

A Five-Letter Word for “Blow Hard”

Highland County made the national news the other day. There’s a bit of controversy about a wind farm proposed for one of the ridges there. Feelings have been blowing about as strong as the wind does. You can get the local perspective from The Recorder.

(Update: a five-letter word for “blow hard“, at least in this context, is “boast.” You may want “storm” for your crossword puzzle.)

No Child Left Inside

The Connecticut State Parks have a plan. You will get out of your chair, go outside, and have fun. Leave the video games at home. They are not needed to play The Great Park Pursuit.

The Great Park Pursuit is an eight-week contest that will have you decoding clues, discovering parks and forests across the state and participating in fun activities and challenges – all for a chance to win fabulous prizes such as mountain bikes, camping equipment and more. The game kicks off on Saturday, May 6 at 10:00 a.m. at Dinosaur State Park in Rocky Hill.

Each week, you’ll be provided with a clue to one of Connecticut’s parks and forests. Additional hints will be provided here throughout the week to help you figure out which park you need to visit next. Depending on the week, you can visit the park anytime that week or on the following Saturday for a specified activity. At each park, you’ll be asked to complete an activity – hike, fish, participate in a scavenger hunt and more. When you complete the task, you’ll be given the clue to the next week’s park or forest.

By the end of the game, there will be no child left inside.

Trade Goods

Ben Hyde notes a common parental concern that arises from the fungibility of lunch money.

If you give your child lunch money only later to discover they are buying candy with it you may discover your yearning for a special less fungible lunch currency. Not surprisingly there are micro-currency solutions for this problem.


Meanwhile, back on the lunch money problem. You could send your child to school with lunch already made. This would teach them valuable negotiation skills as they barter their lunch for better options. A wise parent might just send them to school with some highly fungible trade goods — cookies for example.

Back in my school days, I was in the subsidized school lunch program. This meant that my parents pre-paid lunch for the week, and I received a card valid for a certain number of lunches. On the days when the school lunch was nauseating, such as when corn dogs were served, I would trade my free lunch for cash so I could purchase something a little less disgusting.

The school lunch card was not transferable, but the meals purchased with that card were. After purchasing the lunch, I could trade the whole tray for 75¢, or just the approximation of pizza for 50¢, and then purchase Hershey’s strawberry shortcake.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the school lunch program

Provides nutritious lunches and the opportunity to practice skills learned in classroom nutrition education.

Skills like economic decision-making and negotiation.

An HTTP GET is not a Binding Contract

At the site of FunWebProducts is this warning.

Please read carefully. By clicking one of the “FunWebProducts” above, you accept and agree to abide by the End User License Agreement.

Clicking on any of the links in question will trigger an HTTP GET request, and the installation of the FunWebProducts spyware.

The HTTP specification, RFC 2616, discusses the meaning of GET in Section 9.1.1 Safe Methods.

Naturally, it is not possible to ensure that the server does not generate side-effects as a result of performing a GET request; in fact, some dynamic resources consider that a feature. The important distinction here is that the user did not request the side-effects, so therefore cannot be held accountable for them. [emphasis mine]

The Benefit of the Law

We just watched A Man for All Seasons, about Thomas More. In it he is quoted as saying,

Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!

This Post Approved by My Editor

As further proof that c|net hires only the best and the brightest, Steven Shankland puffs up a piece about the release of the 2.6.16 kernel with this evidence:

Linux is most widely used on low-end computers, but work is still under way to adapt it for large multiprocessor systems.

Mr. Shankland obviously means large, multi-processor systems like those on the list of Top 500 Supercomputers. The trend obviously shows that Linux does not run most of them.

I trust you can hear the sarcasm dripping from my pen. It’s nice to know that the 2.6.16 release includes support for Cell, Niagara (or UltraSPARC T1), and Oracle Cluster Filesystem, but Mr. Shankland could have stopped there and left his shoe out of his mouth.

WordPress and {DEL, INS}

The current version of WordPress handles DEL and INS incorrectly. When WordPress attempts to enforce valid markup it moves DEL and INS out-of-context and inserts empty P elements.

DEL and INS are flow elements, and can behave as either block or inline elements. Stop messing up my markup.

The Convenience of the City

One of the nice things about living or working in New York City is the convenience of social events. Events such as what looks to be a very interesting debate this coming Monday hosted by the Federalist Society at the University Club, between Robert Levy of the Cato Institute and David Rivkin of Baker & Hostetler on the question, “Does the President have the Power to Conduct Wireless Surveillances?”

Unfortunately we’re almost two hours north, and I no longer work in the City. Oh, well. Perhaps one of you could go?

Tonight’s Top 10

Rick said that his friend Erik Heels said that his, Rick’s, employer, FeedBurner, doesn’t matter. This prompted Rick to write a bit about why FeedBurner does. In conclusion,

Erik and I see a lot of things differently (he’d probably hate Lost and Battlestar Galactica, which is almost as bad as hating TiVo, but whatever).

Erik’s list of the top 10 technologies for which he doesn’t much care is worthy of consideration. I use a number of them: Gmail,, FeedBurner, desktop Linux, the TiVo.

I didn’t understand the attraction of web-based mail until I came to work for a company that limits one’s access to the Internet. And until Gmail, I didn’t use web-based mail because, frankly, the services all paled in comparison to real mail user agents like Claris Emailer. (Then again, I’m writing my website in a textarea.) For me, Gmail works for that snappy one-liner you want to send in a hurry, without getting in my way. solved a problem I’ve had for years: keeping all of my bookmarks at my fingertips. I use more than one computer. Lots more than one computer. The privacy implications are quite real with any of these publicly viewable services, but I trade that for convenience. Would I run a similar service myself? Sure! But I haven’t made the time to do it.

The same thing with FeedBurner. I like the stats. I like the XML stylesheet. I like not having to pay attention to Dave Winer’s grumblings about perversions of pure RSS. I like not having to do it myself, though I could. It works for me.

And desktop Linux does too, though I would prefer a Mac. But then again, I’m a sysadmin, and not an Average User. In any case, Windows makes me grumpy.

Then there’s the TiVo.

You do not realize how seriously broken the television viewing experience is until you have a TiVo. And there are good, interesting, well-done shows on television, which you can find if you don’t have to sit through the chaff. But they are shows, not channels.

(From a demand perspective, for Erik’s commenter, the TiVo satisfies 80% of the television-on-demand future that’s been talked about for the past 30 years. Netflix satisfies the rest. One day the Apple iTunes Music Store might — it works great in a pinch — but my DSL connection isn’t quite up to the task. As for AOL TV, it has unmet requirements.)

Erik makes an excellent suggestion in his assessment of LinkedIn.

Pick up the phone and call your contacts every once and a while. Or better yet, visit them. Or send them a card. Or a letter. Or an email message. Anything more real and meaningful than LinkedIn.

It’s 10 o’clock. Do you know where your kids are?

Zimran thinks mobile phones are due for simplification. I do too.

I saw the LG Migo when I was in a Verizon Wireless store last year after my LG VX-6100 clamshell snapped. The girls thought it was cute, but they were wanting me to get something blue — or pink. It’s a nice little phone, sturdy. And according to Engadget, Verizon is selling a GPS feature for it. So now you can answer the above question with “Yes, they are at latitude 41.410935, longitude -73.718004.”