Sophont
Saturday, August 21, 2004
 
Web Search Garage
Web Search Garage: "If you thought that Internet searching was just about plugging in a couple of terms into a search engine, think again. Web Search Garage will teach you to search more efficiently -- helping you find what you need faster -- by teaching you eleven principles of Internet searching.

'Regardless of the way you use the web, either for work or play, reading Web Search Garage will introduce new 'tools' for enhancing your skills using the Internet.'
-- Barbara Thompson, Research Solutions

Principles of Internet Searching
Onions. Salt Grains. Reinvented Wheels. What do they have to do with searching the Internet? The principles of Internet search will give you strategies to do your searching efficiently, no matter what search engine or other search resources you're using.

Web Search Garage will teach you to:

-- Narrow your searches to get a managable number of results, while still finding what you want.
-- Find experts and preexisting research for the topics in which you're interested.
-- Evaluate search resources for credibility.
-- Discover new resources and search engines relevant to the topics in which you're interested.

'I have to do research each week for my nationally syndicated newspaper column. Over the years, I felt I knew many of the tricks to minimize wasting time while looking for great information on the Internet. After reading just one hour of 'Web Search Garage' I have discovered my search methods and techniques are about as productive of using a rock to hammer a nail. Web Search Garage will save me hundreds of hours of time and allow me to discover jewels of information that other people lose among the thousands of pages of Web Search results.'
-- Tim Carter, AsktheBuilder.com

Information on Topical Searching
In addition to the principles of Internet searching, Web Search Garage also takes a close look at Yahoo and Google, as well as other useful but not as heralded search engines. And the final section of the book covers various common search scenarios for which people use the Internet, including:

-- Genealogy
-- Medical and Drug Information
-- Kid-safe Searching
-- Ready-Reference
-- Local to International Levels of Information

'From the queen of web research, this book give you everything you need to know to actually find what you're looking for on the web. This book is so useful, it's scary. It's the only book I actually keep on my desk, next to my PC.'
-- Mary Ellen Bates, Bates Information Services

One Book and Lots of Bonuses
Buy a copy of Web Search Garage and you'll get a free six-month subscription to ResearchBuzz Extra, Tara Calishain's extension to ResearchBuzz with more resources, more news, and a free weekly article about Web searching and related topics. (Already a subscriber to ResearchBuzz Extra? Thanks! We'll extend your subscription by six months.)"

Tuesday, August 17, 2004
 
customer experience, user experience
Good Experience Blog: "What if a company stopped advertising altogether and focused exclusively, with undivided laser-focus attention, on the customer experience? Would the CEO be insane? If it was a public company, would Wall Street riot, and would the board ask for the CEO's resignation?

In a word, no. I know this because there is a major, established company that is pursuing a strategy very close to that. Its TV advertising budget is zero.

BusinessWeek recently interviewed Amazon.com's Jeff Bezos (Aug. 2, 2004). The interview included this exchange:

    BusinessWeek: How important is advertising to building the brand?

    Jeff Bezos: We don't do any television advertising, and we take
    all of the money that we would put into television advertising,
    and instead put it into things like free SuperSaver shipping
    [free shipping on most orders over $25], lower product prices,
    category expansion, and invention of new features. We take those
    funds that might otherwise be used to shout about our service,
    and put those funds instead into improving the service. That's
    the philosophy we've taken from the beginning. If you do build a
    great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of
    mouth is very powerful.

    BW: It's fascinating that the increase in the value of your brand
    has happened at the same time when you're not advertising in mass
    media at all. Do you anticipate ever needing to use broad-scale
    advertising again?

    Bezos: No. Never say never, but I don't anticipate that. I like
    the strategy we're on.

I like the strategy Amazon is on, too. Not to suggest it's even close to a perfect customer experience - there are many challenges on Amazon.com, not the least of which is the increased clutter on its product pages recently. But Amazon is much, much better than most, any way you measure it - revenues, profitability, stock price, brand equity. And their stated strategy - straight from the mouth of the CEO - is close to the ideal corporate focus on the customer experience.

Amazon's example offers a challenge for other companies: focus first on the customer experience. It's not even necessary to pull the entire ad budget. Just create a strategy, and a budget, to focus on the customer at *least* as much as you invest in ads."

 
PARANOIA
Mongoose Publishing : For All Your Gaming Needs ...: "When PARANOIA was first published almost 20 years ago, amid fears of nuclear war and job loss to those newfangled desktop PCs, it was instantly popular for its vision of a high-tech, post-holocaust, totalitarian future ruled by a deranged Computer. It won attention too for turning the basic paradigm of RPGs—players cooperate—on its head, making all players secret traitors who can only advance by uncovering treason.

Happily, today those fears are obsolete. Instead, we have spam, viruses, trojans, malware, distributed denial of service attacks, the RIAA, cyberwarfare, identify theft, terrorists, the Patriot Act, terrifying new diseases, the threat of environmental catastrophe, the grey goo scenario, and weapons of mass destruction."

 
skateboarder is scarred by Con Edison
Online Edition: news: "August 15, 2004 -- A 26-year-old skateboarder is scarred for life after she fell onto a red-hot Con Edison manhole cover — mere blocks from the scene of a tragic death earlier this year when a woman stepped onto an electrified Con Ed cover.

Magazine receptionist and DJ Liz Wallenberg told The Post she was skating to see friends at an East Village club early Wednesday when she hit a bump in the road at 13th Street and Second Avenue.

'I landed with my arm and back straight onto the metal cover,' Wallenberg said. 'I noticed it was kind of hot, but I didn't realize how bad it was until my skin started to sizzle.'

A distressed Wallenberg lifted her shirt and saw a large red imprint from the manhole cover on her back. She rushed to the next block, to Second Avenue nightspot Second Nature, to get her friends' help.

They took her to the emergency room at Beth Israel Hospital, where she spent the next seven hours.

'It was such awful pain,' Wallenberg said. 'There was blistering, and it was like I was branded. You can see the 'O' and the 'N' from 'Con Edison.' The doctor said a lot of this will scar for life.'

The accident occurred two blocks from where psychology student Jodie Lane died on Jan. 16. The 30-year-old woman was walking her two dogs when she stepped onto an electrified manhole cover and died instantly."

Monday, August 16, 2004
 
Axis of Eve
Flash Alert: Snake in the Garden! Worm in the Apple!

In a distasteful attempt to exploit the World Trade Center tragedy as a platform for their political agenda, the Republican National Committee has pushed their convention date into September and has decided to come to New York City for the first time in their 150 year history.

Axis of Eve is calling upon Eves from all over to join us for a panty performance protest to take place at 6 PM on September 1st at an as-of-yet undisclosed location in Battery Park City.

Over 100 fabulous Eves will assemble wearing protest panties (bare-legged, with tights, pinned to clothing) and Axis of Eve tank tops. Some of us will wear American flags as flashing capes.

We will perform a MASS FLASH to create a media spectacle that lays bare the shameful tactics of the Bush administration and boldly demands an end to political cover-up. Show the world that the Emperor has no clothes!

To join the thong throng for this panty press event, contact info@axisofeve.org"

 
IDF to treat shell shock with cannabi
Israel News : Jerusalem Post Internet Edition The IDF will soon begin using cannabis to treat
soldiers suffering from combat stress, the military
said Wednesday.

An army statement said the military medical corps and
the Hebrew University of Jerusalem would begin
treating victims of post-traumatic stress - commonly
known as shell shock - with THC, the active ingredient
in the cannabis plant. It said the treatment would
begin on an experimental basis.

"The use of THC as part of the treatment for
post-traumatic stress disorder was approved by
military and civilian committees relevant to the
subject," the statement said.

An IDF spokesman said treatment would be given to both
conscript soldiers and reservists.
=====================
jay: So... if this is sucessfull, the next logical
step is to administer it as a preventative, before the
stress producing events occur. And for humaniartian
reasons, it should be distributed to the Palastienes,
who also could use stress prevention.
With both sides under treatment, the only conflicts
will occur over who gets the last bag of Doritos.

Friday, August 13, 2004
 
USN/What's New
"Loved to love": "Two souls that were destined to meet and fall in love.
What happens if one of them leaves this world before even meeting the other?

Akiyama (Kenji Sakaguchi) is an elite pilot who trained at NASA, and now enrolled to be a pilot of Japan's first manned space shuttle launch. Reiko (Hitomi Kuroki) is a director at an investment bank that sponsors this space shuttle project. They got the looks, intelligence and wealth. But there is one thing they don't have... which is truly love and to be truly loved. Akiyama and Reiko were destined to meet and to be fall in love.

This captivating romantic love story starts on August 6th!"

Time Warner Cable / NYC TV, Channel 73
Coverage: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, Staten Island (all NY 5 boroughs)
August 20th, 2004 8:30-9:30pm (New)"Loved to love" #3


 
weapon of mass destruction in his trousers
Taipei Times: "Australians who want to get away from it all go to Tasmania, an island state of Australia that lists carrots among its major exports.

But world affairs caught up with Tasmania recently when a local found himself in court over a terrorism scare.

Phillip Lowe, a 60-year-old piano tuner, told a female security guard in a Hobart car park that he had a weapon of mass destruction in his trousers.

'This is a warning story for the whole of Australia, this is,' Lowe told Australia's ABC Radio.

'Anybody can point the finger at anybody and cost them an awful lot of money and an awful lot of anguish -- and you're gone, mate, you're gone,' he said.

Lowe doesn't deny the incident took place or that he behaved foolishly.

'I said I had a weapon of mass destruction and I rotated my hips, suggestively, I must admit,' he said.

Police charged Lowe with making a false threat, but when the case was brought to court, Tasmania's Director of Public Prosecutions decided the matter was too trivial to proceed with.

Lowe's lawyer, Garth Ste-phens, claimed the authorities had overreacted.

'Even if he said what was claimed to have been said, it was probably unnecessary for the police to go as far as charging him, detaining him and searching his house and car,' Stephens said.

That view is disputed by Australian Attorney-General Phillip Ruddock, who said Lowe was out of order in claiming the government had whipped up public hysteria over the threat of terrorism.

'Is he suggesting that Sept. 11 didn't occur in the United States? Is he suggesting that Australia hasn't been the subject of a very clear threat? Is he suggesting that Australians didn't tragically die in Bali?' Ruddock said.

Terrorism, even weapons of mass destruction, are a threat facing every corner of the globe.

And that includes sleepy Hobart in Tasmania, it seems.
"

 
Environmental Groups Get Tax Dollars from the Bush Administration, Urge Voters to Dump Bush
News from the Capital Research Center:: "A review of federal grants shows that many support relatively uncontroversial projects. But often that only frees up other nonprofit money for political advocacy. To its credit, the Bush Administration cut back on its grants to two of the most politically active environmental groups—the Natural Resources Defense Council, which specializes in filing lawsuits, and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). WWF strongly supports U.S. adoption of the Kyoto treaty, the international treaty to cut greenhouse gas emissions to combat the alleged global warming threat. In 2001, the Bush Administration rejected the treaty citing, among other problems, official U.S. government estimates that the treaty could cost the U.S. economy $400 billion per year and double a family’s monthly electric bill. Still, government officials gave NRDC $627,394 in 2003 and WWF $11,677,035 in 2004.

NRDC is now spearheading an “Environmental Accountability Fund.” The project will use advertising, celebrity events and a campus speaking tour to highlight the misdeeds of Bush environmental policies.

Perhaps the Bush Administration should spearhead an OMB Accountability Fund to highlight the ever-increasing federal assistance to environmental groups that claim their cause is being “dismantled.”"

Wednesday, August 11, 2004
 
Colorado Voter
Colorado Voter: "The Boulder County Republican Party was kicked out of Thursday’s official test of the new election system. Election officials insisted that the legally appointed Republican Party representative change his test decks, presumably so that the system can pass the tests. The Republican representative refused, and the clerk told him to leave.

Many voters do not follow instructions and instead of filling in the box, will use an “X” or a check mark or circle the box, or instead of using ink will use magic marker, etc. Some voters will object to voting with a ballot that is not secret, and will “white out” or cross out the serial number that uniquely identifies their ballot. In the past, some voters have written notes explaining what they meant to do. The Republican test deck was prepared to verify that these real-life situations will be correctly handled by the untested counting system.

Because of the insistence that the Republicans remove these tests, it appears that real-life ballots can cause the new voting system to fail.

The Republican representative, Al Kolwicz, had the legal authority to participate in the testing, a statutory duty to perform, and all of his actions and tests were within the law. The public needs to know why the Republicans are being harassed by county officials.

According to Kolwicz, “answers to major questions about the security, accuracy and verifiability of the HART InterCivic voting system have not been forthcoming from the Clerk. Based on what I have seen, I would definitely not trust this system”
"

Tuesday, August 10, 2004
 
Summer 2004: Fast Track v.2
FILMMAKER MAGAZINE :
"From independent filmmakers, film critics, Academy members and a wide array of award-granting bodies, to established industry insiders and the heads of the MMPS’ own Specialty Divisions, a singular message was projected loud and clear: the screener ban would be profoundly destructive to the fortunes of independent and specialty-film distribution. Those opposed to the ban called and wrote letters to executives of the MPAA and the MMPS, spoke out in the mass media, published open letters in the trades signed by hundreds of filmmakers, etc. — they dissected the “logic of the ban” and offered to work with the MPAA to find equitable and effective solutions to address their piracy concerns.2

How did the MPAA react to this concerted opposition? On October 23rd the MPAA and the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences issued a joint press release announcing that “an agreement had been reached to allow for the distribution of ‘screener’ copies of motion pictures… to Academy members.”3 The remedy was worse than the illness: allowing only Academy members access to screeners severely disadvantaged all of the other accolade and award-granting entities. More to the point, given that the awards strategy of independent films often relies on moving up the awards ladder — from, for instance, critic’s accolades, to the SAG, BAFTA, Golden Globes and culminating in the Academy Awards — this policy only validated the worst fears of those opposing the ban: that the MPAA and the studios desired to win more Academy Awards and that they were using their anti-piracy campaign as a cover to marginalize independent film and competing awards bodies."

Monday, August 09, 2004
 
Fed up hospitals defy patching rules
nwfusion.com: "The problem is that computer worms that target Microsoft-based computers, including MS-Blaster and Sasser, have increasingly struck hospital networks, where unpatched Windows-based patient-care systems have become infected. Some manufacturers, including Philips, contend that hospitals must do a better job of applying security defenses to protect medical devices by buying intrusion-prevention systems (IPS ) and internal firewalls.

However, hospital IT professionals respond that it's not that unusual for medical-device manufacturers to be the origin of worms that get in their networks.

There have been several instances in which viruses originated from medical instruments straight from the vendors, says Bill Bailey, enterprise architect at ProHealth Care, a Milwaukee healthcare provider. Medical equipment arrived with computer viruses on it or service technicians introduced the viruses while maintaining the equipment, he says."

Saturday, August 07, 2004
 
Book extract: How To Be Idle by Tom Hodgkinson
Guardian Unlimited:
"As to how on earth going early to bed could automatically guarantee riches and happiness, I suppose nothing can be proved, but I'm with Dr Johnson who confidently asserted: 'Whoever thinks of going to bed before 12 o'clock is a scoundrel.'

Greatness and late rising are natural bedfellows. Late rising is for the independent of mind, the individual who refuses to become a slave to work, money, ambition. In his youth, the great poet of loafing, Walt Whitman, would arrive at the offices of the newspaper where he worked at around 11.30am, and leave at 12.30 for a two-hour lunch break. Another hour's work after lunch and then it was time to hit the town.

..............The lie-in - by which I mean lying in bed awake - is not a selfish indulgence but an essential tool for any student of the art of living. As Sherlock Holmes knew. Lolling around in his smoking jacket, puffing his pipe, Holmes would sit and ponder for hours on a tricky case. In one superb story, the opium-drenched The Man With The Twisted Lip, Holmes solves yet another case with ease. An incredulous Mr Plod character muses: "I wish I knew how you reach your results," to which Holmes replies: "I reached this one by sitting upon five pillows and consuming an ounce of shag."

René Descartes, in the 17th century, was similarly addicted to inactivity. Indeed, it was absolutely at the centre of his philosophy. When young and studying with the Jesuits, he was unable to get up in the morning. They would throw buckets of cold water over him and he would turn over and go back to sleep. Then, because of his obvious genius, he was granted the special privilege of getting up late. This was his modus operandi because, of course, when he was lying in bed he was thinking. It is easy to see how someone so inactive should conclude that the body and the mind are separate entities. Laziness produced Cartesian duality. For him, lying in bed and thinking was the very essence of being human: Cogito, ergo sum, or, in other words, I lie in bed thinking, therefore I am."

Friday, August 06, 2004
 
"Three times fuel costs."
Google Groups: From: John Schilling (schillin@spock.usc.edu)
Subject: Re: Three times fuel costs.
Newsgroups: sci.space.policy
Date: 2004-08-05 14:24:30 PST
Andrew Gray writes:

>A figure that gets thrown around a lot when talking about the operating
>costs of airlines - and, implicitly, what space travel should be aiming
>at - is "three times fuel costs"; it's a number that always vaguely
>surprises me, but that's by the by.
>A while ago, one of the newsgroups I read had a discussion of the
>operating costs of public transport; someone did a quick and dirty
>breakdown of an estimate, and concluded:
>"This means the fuel cost is going to be something like 30% of the total
>cost of operating the bus service."
>http://google.com/groups?selm=N48%2ByDLrCe0AFw5B%40nojay.fsnet.co.uk
>It mildly surprised me at the time; for some reason it popped back into
>my head. It's interesting to see convergence in a different field,
>although I know it has little significance.

It is significant in that it points to a common underlying logic.
Mature industries tend to split their costs evenly between manpower,
capital amortization, and consumables. In the case of transportation,
"consumables" mostly means fuel, plus spare parts and little bags of
peanuts, but mostly fuel.

If any one of those three starts to dominate the cost, it gets hammered
down at the expense of the low-cost leg, to restore the balance. Your
fuel expenses are two-thirds of your total budget? Time to invest a
bunch of capital in whatever new technology will allow greater efficiency
on that front. If it's labor costs that are putting you in the red ink,
you invest in automation. If, OTOH, capital investment is itself the
long pole in the tent, you hire as many mechanics as it takes to keep
your creaking old gas-guzzlers in service and postpone replacement as
long as possible.

Sometimes there are structural reasons why an industry won't converge
on an even capital/labor/consumable split. But if you don't know the
industry and are looking for a BOTE estimate, one third capital plus
one third labor plus one third consumables/fuel/energy, is always a
good guess.

Sunday, August 01, 2004
 
computers may be viewed as "psionic tools"
Analog Discussion BoardBy Dr. Sardonicus on Saturday, March 20, 2004 - 10:31 pm:

Well, I suppose that, in a sense, computers may be viewed as "psionic tools" -- instruments for exercising mental domination over others. Consider the following hypothetical conversation:

Y: "Oh, come on, mind control? It's just a machine."

X: "Oh yeah? We can already use this "just a machine" to make people agree to the most outrageous things. Watch this."
X then brings up a copy of the "end user license agreement" for his company's new software on his monitor.
"Look at this. We're saying our product might not work. It might wreck your hardware. And the poor schmucks agree to all this before they install it! And then, when things go wrong,..." (X laughs uproariously)

Thus endeth the hypothetical conversation. I leave you with a time-honored quote, from this very forum:

Well, There is another group of people who may be in a worse situation than those having "psychic episodes". Perfectly normal people who also have strange experiences they cannot understand or explain. And these unfortunates do not have the luxury of keeping quiet. Their experiences are so disruptive, they cannot resume the normal course of their lives until they consult "experts" who can give completely rational explanations of their bizarre problems. These experts invariably ask them humiliating questions that make these poor people out to be crazy, stupid, ignorant, inept, clumsy - and always at fault for their own difficulties.

These unhappy people are having trouble with their computer software.


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