TiVoing the Fencers

I finally caught one of the fencing broadcasts, of the men’s sabre finals on TiVo. If you don’t have TiVo, or another high-quality DVR, and you are a sports nut, I highly recommend it. The pause feature is essential, as are slow motion and instant replay. Because, let’s face it, everybody poops.

I hate to recommend the POS NBC site, but they have video from Sada Jacobson‘s and Mariel Zagunis‘s bouts. The clips require the first six digits of your Visa card (hiss!) and Windows Media Player (boo!).

While NBC is only interested in broadcasting chances at medals, the U.S. Fencing Association has been watching all of the bouts. Not only do they have a guide for the media, but they have one of those blog things as well.

MSN Spaces

Phil Ringnalda has an excellent look at MSN Spaces, their blog service, though I’m not sure why I read Sam Ruby’s comments without going back to the original.

Amid all the negative aspects of the site, I spy at least two things I approve of: storage.msn.com is a good name.

I am interested to note that the feed I get while I’m signed in to Passport includes draft entries, unlike the feed I get when I’m signed out. Since most RSS readers aren’t going to be sending a cookie that includes the Passport login information, <wide-eyed-and-innocent> that would seem to make an RSS reader built into the browser more useful than others </wide-eyed-and-innocent>.

Starter Castle

Tilden mansion
This is what a real mansion looks like. It is obviously not a McMansion, which you can confirm by checking the price tag.

ure doesn’t do the place justice, because you can’t see the rest of the property, or the details in the granite, or the guest house, or the view across Lake Mahopac.

Poor Coverage

I didn’t mention this before, but NBC’s Olympics site is incredibly bad. The first two thirds of the screen are taken by useless graphical features. And, yes, by useless I mean a banner containing the date and a button for the Telemundo version, a banner advertisement, and the logo. I know what day it is. I don’t need to search Google from here. Trash the advertisements; I’m not clicking — beach volleyball is on and I have to concentrate. Then there’s the background image, which just wastes time on the download.

Look, the web is more than a decade old. I think you can find people who know how to write quality HTML. Earth to NBC, investigate optimization. Oh, yeah, you probably talked to SBCY! marketing. Too bad, I’m out of region, and your Internet-based coverage sucks just as bad as your broadcast coverage.

Speaking of bad, was it too much to ask that they spend more than 30 seconds covering our first gold in fencing?

Change, Please

inluminent’s well-endowed linkblog linked to a manifesto at ChangeThis.

People call the team at Change This optimists because we don’t believe it has to be this way. We don’t believe humans evolved to be so bad at making decisions, so poor at changing our minds, so violent in arguing our point of view. We’re well aware of how split our country and our world have become, but we don’t think the current state of affairs is built into our very nature.

Another Major Award: the CIO Agile 100

CIO Magazine has seen fit to include SBC as one of its “Agile 100.” They “selected 100 organizations wherein IT agility enables agility across the enterprise.”

SBC Communications
San Antonio
Portfolio management utilized to shift more than $60 million in project budgets to higher priorities. Application Rapid Deployment process for 316 types of low-risk, repeatable IT solutions increased IT staffer productivity by 49 percent.
John Stankey, CIO and Senior Executive VP
Edward E. Whitacre Jr., Chairman and CEO
FY03 revenue: $40.8 billion
Employees: 175,400

Meanwhile, the University of Michigan‘s American Customer Satisfaction Index rates us a 68, out of 100.

Hey, nobody’s perfect. At least we’re better than Qwest.

House Stuff

Tim Jarrett has sold his house in Seattle and moved back to Boston, where he is having some issues with his new house. In the course of his adventures, he links to House in Progress, which in turn links to lots of cool real estate and construction-related items, including ApartmentTherapy.

As I’ve mentioned, we’re trying to sell our house, so property matters are on my mind. Have you noticed how most local news is about real estate?

A Plan of Action

So I know where I’m going with this journal, here’s my plan of action.

  1. dump the data out of Radio Userland
  2. dump the data out of MySQL, or at least look at it
  3. insert the data from Radio Userland into MySQL, taking care to maintain the post identification numbers
  4. fix the WordPress rewrites so that none of the Radio-created URLs break
  5. move this publication to its resting place

I’m not entirely happy with writing on-line, but I was doing that more than not anyway, so I’ll just have to copy things that I write off-line from a saved file.


Corinne Maier responds to the lack of opportunity in France’s ossified corporate structures by encouraging less work than more. In an article on her and her book, Bonjour Paresse, the New York Times writes

In many ways, Ms. Maier is typical of France’s intelligentsia, overeducated and underemployed. She studied economics and international relations at the country’s elite National Foundation of Political Sciences, or Sciences-Po, before earning a doctorate in psychoanalysis.

But she works just 20 hours a week writing dry economic reports at the state electric utility, Électricité de France, for which she is paid about $2,000 a month.

Sounds like she needs a blog.

The Times, selectively snipped, continues

“Work is organized a little like the court of Louis XIV, very complicated and very ritualized so that people feel they are working effectively when they are not,” she said.

Her solution? Rather than keep up what she sees as an exhausting charade, people who dislike what they do should, as she puts it, discreetly disengage. If done correctly – and her book gives a few tips, such as looking busy by always carrying a stack of files – few co-workers will notice, and those who do will be too worried about rocking the boat to complain. Given the difficulty of firing employees, she says, frustrated superiors are more likely to move such subversive workers up than out.

With chapters titled “The Morons Who Are Sitting Next To You” and “Beautiful Swindles,” it declares that corporate culture is nothing more than the “crystallization of the stupidity of a group of people at a given moment.”

This may not be a peculiarly French problem. I do believe that Dilbert speaks of something similar.

Not Watching

I don’t think I’m the only one who wants to watch the fencing matches, though I may be the laziest member of the potential audience: I’m not willing to change my behavior to suit the whims of NBC. It would be nice if I could watch some small snippet of the matches at the Olympics site, but, no, that’s too much trouble for them. Might cut into their television revenues.

Tell you what, dumbass, I’m not watching the fucking commercials. I have TiVo. I’ll just have to look at the schedule to see when I should record.

Partial Translations

The news media have done a partial translation of the name of Moqtada al-Sadr’s militia. They’ve translated “army,” but not “mahdi.” This Wikipedia article on the mahdi may be more comprehensible, or you may prefer citations of the various hadith on the madhi.

Ah, and now you see why it remains untranslated.