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April 11, 2006

'What makes a hacker' — by Steve Wozniak

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Angela Gunn (above) — USA Today's waycool "It" girl who's grossly undercompensated, in my humble opinion, no matter how much the paper's paying her (note to Editor: you couldn't replace her at twice the price so why not give her a bump just for the heck of it?) — reported on Steve Wozniak's keynote address back on July 11, 2004 at the Fifth HOPE (Hackers On Planet Earth) gathering in New York City.

Here are the Woz's defining characteristics of a hacker, as related in his talk:

• A sense of humor

• The ability to derive pleasure from jokes and the unexpected

• A tendency to strive for internal rather than external rewards

This just goes to show that being a hacker need not require great computer skills: in fact, you don't need any.

In Woz's hacker world there's plenty of room for a TechnoDolt™.

Ms. Gunn provides a link to an interview with the Woz that appeared in yesterday's Seattle Times.

Full disclosure: I have never met Angela Gunn; I have never spoken with Angela Gunn or even seen her on TV, in the event she's ever been on the tube; I have, on occasion, exchanged emails with her.

More disclosure: I have never met Steve Wozniak; I have never spoken with Steve Wozniak, or even seen him on TV, though I'm almost certain he's been on the tube; last year, however, the Woz did place a comment on bookofjoe — this event was among the top 10 things that happened to me in 2005.

April 11, 2006 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

'The Power of Flash' — Taschen's new book is not a practical joke, it turns out

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When this came in via email 20 minutes ago I thought it was a joke.

I mean, Taschen produces some of the most amazing books on the planet, with eye–appeal that dazzles.

So I figured it had to be an April Fool's joke, April 1[1] or some such riff.

But no: they're serious about Flash being the greatest thing to hit the web since sliced bread — to mix a metaphor — and they've just published a book (above and below)

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to tell you all about it.

Here's what the email said:

    The power of Flash

    Many of the web's most eye-popping sites are created using Flash, a program which allows for total creative freedom and maximum interactivity.

    In its early years, Flash was used mostly for artistic and design sites, but more recently large corporations - even Citibank - have turned to Flash.

    This guide rounds up the very best and most innovative sites using 100% Flash navigation, including Nike, Adidas, Bacardi, Shrek, Nintendo, Playstation, Ford, and Honda.

You may have heard this before here but in case you're a newbie let me state my opinion in no uncertain terms:

Flash is a disaster — always.

No exceptions.

It makes websites slow, annoying, ultimately frustrating and oh-so-pleasant to leave and avoid in the future.

If the world's best web designer offered to add Flash to bookofjoe I'd pay him to go away.

And that's all I have to say about Flash.

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You can buy the book for $9.99.

April 11, 2006 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

'Who's Blogging?' — The Washington Post hooks up with bookofjoe

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Last evening I noticed a number of people had visited bookofjoe from the Washington Post's website.

How'd that happen? I wondered.

I went back into the web and found they'd clicked on bookofjoe from this story's sidebar (above), which took people to yesterday's 2:01 p.m. post discussing the article (below).

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Huh.

That's pretty interesting, that I'm linked via the Washington Post's site.

And I suppose it's a tacit nod of approval/blind eye to the fact that I routinely publish the Post's stories in their entirety, as I did in the post they linked to.

I would expect my attorney — should push come to legal shove in the Fair Use arena —

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might well use this as evidence on my behalf.

April 11, 2006 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Infrared Thermometer — 'Measure temperature from a distance'

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From the website:

    Measure Temperature from a Distance

    Finally there's an easy, accurate, and safe way to measure temperature — while keeping a safe distance.

    Just aim the Infrared Thermometer, press the "Scan" button and read the temperature on the high–contrast LCD display.

    Has "Min" and "Max" options to track highest or lowest temperature detected.

    Great for troubleshooting furnaces and air conditioners, checking oven and grill temperatures, etc.

    • Measures –27 to 428°F (or –33 to 220°C).

    • Convenient hand–held size: only 3.75"L.

    • Uses one button cell battery (included).

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Beam me up.

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$39.

April 11, 2006 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

White Dog — by Carl Phillips

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First snow—I release her into it—
I know, released, she won't come back.
This is different from letting what,

already, we count as lost go. It is nothing
like that. Also, it is not like wanting to learn what
losing a thing we love feels like. Oh yes:

I love her.
Released, she seems for a moment as if
some part of me that, almost,

I wouldn't mind
understanding better, is that
not love? She seems a part of me,

and then she seems entirely like what she is:
a white dog,
less white suddenly, against the snow,

who won't come back. I know that; and, knowing it,
I release her. It's as if I release her
because I know.

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April 11, 2006 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Bill Gates is my neighbor — but you're gonna have to click just below for proof

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Even then you won't be sure.

We live in the world's most upscale subdivision, in ur-country.com (scroll down to "Citizens").

Bill's address is row 19, column 19; me, I chose to move in kitty-corner from him, at row 20, column 20 (above).

Already he's been by to borrow a cup of sugar.

Friendly guy.

Dennis Ringwood, the grand panjandrum of ur-country.com, emailed me late yesterday afternoon as follows:

    Hey Joe,

    Came across your blog and wanted to tell you about the Citizen links on
    www.ur-country.com.

    There is a current promotion for free links (for active countries) and it would be great to see you and other fellow bloggers there.

    Best regards
    Dennis Ringwood

Hey, make me an offer I can't refuse.

I sent him my now-iconic bookofjoe NanoIcon™ (below)

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to put up at 20-20 and before you could say Bob's your uncle there it was near Bill's.

Tell you what — with RuleTheWorld last week and now this it looks like we're finally lighting this firecracker.

I wonder if Bill's gonna return the favor and see about acquiring property near me up by my Arctic Circle digs.

Better bring your mittens, is all I've got to say.

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w00t!

April 11, 2006 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Are you — or is anyone you know — on 'The List?'

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Don Oldenburg's "Consummate Consumer" column in this past Sunday's Washington Post was among the most interesting things I've read this month.

His subject was "so–called 'Bad Guy List'" to be found on the public website of the U.S. Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control.

The government's official name for it is the "Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List."

Oldenburg noted that the 224-page-long document contains "the [alphabetized] names of individuals, organizations, corporations and Web sites the feds suspect of terrorist or criminal activities and associations."

He continued, "What's not widely known about it is that by federal law, sellers are supposed to check it even in the most common and mundane marketplace transactions."

According to the law everyone is prohibited from doing business of any sort with any person named on the list.

According to Thomas B. Hudson, an attorney who specializes in legal compliance issues, "... Ninety-five percent of the people whose names are on the list are not even in the United States."

Oldenburg also notes that you should "... be forewarned — by going on the site you've consented that the feds can monitor your use of the site."

Here's the Post article.

    Hit-and-Miss List

    If You're in This Directory, Forget Shopping

    You know this is happening at the airports, where security pulls some guy out of the boarding line.

    You've heard about the feds being on the lookout for money launderers in high-stakes financial transactions.

    But a car dealership?

    Hey, how about the 7-Eleven?

    You might be surprised!

    Alan Dessoff was.

    Just as Dessoff was about to sign on the dotted line for a new 2006 Toyota Camry XLE at Coleman Toyota in Bethesda, the sales manager glanced up from the printer and casually mentioned that Dessoff wasn't on "The List."

    Dessoff gulped, "What list?"

    The Bethesda communications consultant's thoughts suddenly shifted from that dreamy new-car smell to something fishy.

    The sales manager told Dessoff that car dealers are required to check every would-be buyer's name against a computerized list of "thousands of names."

    If the name's on The List, no deal.

    When Dessoff asked where The List and the requirement to check it came from, the manager, he says, took on a confidential tone as if passing along a state secret and said, "the government."

    Dessoff thought he was kidding.

    Like maybe he had Jack Bauer on the brain, seen too many episodes of "24."

    But he was serious enough that he wouldn't say anything more about The List.

    "I was so taken back," says Dessoff.

    "But is it so? Like the no-fly list? A hidden part of the Patriot Act?"

    Actually not so hidden. The so-called "Bad Guy List" is hardly a secret.

    The U.S. Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control maintains its "Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List" to be easily accessible on its public Web site.

    Wanna see it?

    Sure you do.

    Just key OFAC into your Web browser, and you'll find the 224-page document of the names of individuals, organizations, corporations and Web sites the feds suspect of terrorist or criminal activities and associations.

    You might think Osama bin Laden should be at the top of The List, but it's alphabetized, so Public Enemy No. 1 is on Page 59 with a string of akas and spelling derivations filling most of the first column.

    If you're the brother, daughter, son or sister-in-law of Yugoslavian ex-president Slobodan Milosevic (who died in custody recently), you're named, too, so probably forget about picking up that lovely new Humvee on this side of the Atlantic.

    Same for Charles "Chuckie" Taylor, son of the recently arrested former president of Liberia (along with the deposed prez's wife and ex-wife).

    The Bad Guy List's relevance to the average American consumer?

    What's not widely known about it is that by federal law, sellers are supposed to check it even in the most common and mundane marketplace transactions.

    "The OFAC requirements apply to all U.S. citizens. The law prohibits anyone, not just car dealers, from doing business with anyone whose name appears on the Office of Foreign Assets Control's Specially Designated Nationals list," says Thomas B. Hudson, senior partner at Hudson Cook LLP, a law firm in Hanover, Md., and publisher of Carlaw and Spot Delivery, legal-compliance newsletters and services for car dealers and finance companies.

    Hudson says that, according to the law, supermarkets, restaurants, pawnbrokers, real estate agents, everyone, even The Washington Post, is prohibited from doing business with anyone named on the list.

    "There is no minimum amount for the transactions covered by the OFAC requirement, so everyone The Post sells a paper to or a want ad to whose name appears on the SDN list is a violation," says Hudson, whose new book, "Carlaw -- A Southern Attorney Delivers Humorous Practical Legal Advice on Car Sales and Financing," comes out this month.

    "The law applies to you personally, as well."

    But The Bad Guy List law (which predates the controversial Patriot Act) not only is "perfectly ridiculous," it's impractical, says Hudson.

    "I understand that 95 percent of the people whose names are on the list are not even in the United States.

    And if you were a bad guy planning bad acts, and you knew that your name was on a publicly available list that people were required to check in order to avoid violating the law, how dumb would you have to be to use your own name?"

    Compliance is also a big problem.

    Think eBay sellers are checking the list for auction winners?

    Or that the supermarket checkout person is thanking you by name while scanning a copy of The List under the counter?

    Not likely.

    Even most car dealerships come up short on compliance, despite harsh penalties that include 30 years in jail and fines up to $10 million against corporations, and $5 million against individuals, and civil penalties of up to $1 million per incident.

    "Laws like this that are so ridiculous that no one obeys them do nothing to inspire respect in our legal system," says Hudson.

    But while admitting that compliance is "obviously a challenge," U.S. Treasury spokeswoman Molly Millerwise says it is improving.

    "The financial institutions have really stepped up to the plate in combating illicit finances and checking the list," she says.

    "Other industries are following suit.... We expect U.S. businesses to do all they can to comply with the law, but we do recognize there are challenges in applying broad sanctions of this sort."

    But if Bad Guy List compliance were to increase substantially, and if your name is similar to that of a suspect listed, wouldn't you risk running into all sorts of hassles buying anything from automobiles to washing machines?

    "If you have a 16-year-old kid standing in front of you with his parents, and his name matches with a former foreign national born in 1932," says Millerwise, "that's obvious."

    But still.

    FYI, as you're perusing The List to see if your name (or anything close) appears, be forewarned -- by going on the site you've consented that the feds can monitor your use of the site.

    Not that they'd do that....

April 11, 2006 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Official bookofjoe Pie Plate

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Over the past few months I've been getting a lot email from readers asking me when I'm gonna bag that 9:01 a.m. Einstein–at–the–blackboard dealie and bring back my Official bookofjoe gear.

Your wish is my command: without further ado, the bookofjoe Pie Plate (above).

From the website:

    Stoneware Pie Plate

    This lovely enameled stoneware pie plate will add special flair to your home–baked goodies.

    Great for serving or gifting your special recipe.

    Oven, microwave, and dishwasher safe.

    2-1/4"H x 11" Dia.

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Also available in Cobalt, Cinnabar or White — but why on earth would you want any of those?

$19.99.

April 11, 2006 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

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