Monthly Archives: February 2007

Technology lets down playback

I can think of two examples where digital media has limitations which affect the fidelity of playback in a major way: with music it’s gapless playback, often noticeable on MP3 players and with CDs on some players. With DVDs it’s layer changes, again, worse on some players than others.

This shouldn’t be the case, of course. Digital media of course is meant to be better than analogue, in every respect. I don’t know if there are standards mandated in the relevant formats, but perhaps there should be… or at least some documented workarounds, such as recommending where DVD authors place layer-changes.

After all, these kinds of things can ruin the enjoyment of a movie or piece of music if handled badly.

Friday brief stuff

Google for the Enterprise: Google Apps Premier edition is here. $50 / user account / year, providing Gmail, GTalk, GCalendar, GDocs & Spreadsheets, GPage with guaranteed uptimes, phone support and more storage and options.

Favicons: Good article on making a good favicon.

One commenter left a useful link to the PNG2ICO command-line tool. This online tool also looks handy.

RIP: Robert Adler, the man who invented the TV remote control (despite not watching much TV himself, apparently).

RSS vs old-fashioned browsers

I got interested in checking out the number of subscribers to my feeds, since Google Reader is now revealing it in the user-agent.

Here are the figures from my personal blog. /feed/ 26 /feed/atom/ 2 /feed/atom/ 8 /feed/ 21 /feed/rss2/ 1 /feed/ 1 /feed/ 2 /feed/atom/ 1 /feed/rss2/ 1 /feed/rdf 1 /feed/ 1

Bloglines is reporting as two separate readers for /feed/ – perhaps different versions?

So 65 subscribers from those aggregator services that report on numbers.

Whereas the home page is getting around 240 hits per day, many from individuals, but also a lot from search engine bots. (No I haven’t got the energy to work it out precisely.)

So it would appear that despite the growing popularity of aggregators, many people continue to just hit the web pages manually.

These figures are much lower than for many, but it reflects a similar result to what Ed Bott found in his stats.

Australian PM spam

Someone’s spamming Australian email addresses with a fake news bulletin about PM John Howard having had a heart attack. It includes a link supposedly to The Australian newspaper, but which in fact goes to The spams come from a variety of addresses, with subject lines such as “John Howard, the current Prime Minister of Australia have survived a heart attack” and “Best surgeons are struggling for the life of the Prime Minister”.

The domain was registered only a few days ago, to a post-office box in Nova Scotia, Canada, and apparently the site tries to install malware.

SYDNEY, February 18, 2007 08:56pm (AEDT) – The Prime Minister of Australia, John Howard have survived a heart attack. Mr Howard, 67 years old, was at Kirribilli House in Sydney, his prime residence, when he was suddenly stricken. Mr Howard was taken to the Royal North Shore Hospital where the best surgeons of Australia are struggling for his life.

Click on the link below to get the latest information on the health of the Prime Minister:

The Australian – keeping the nation informed
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Over on my personal blog I’ve posted about visiting the ACMI “Hits of the 80s” video game exhibit. Well worth a look for any nostalgic geeks in, or passing through, Melbourne.

It’s great to see ACMI’s Games Lab giving computer games some recognition for the important cultural impact they’ve had. While we may never again see something like Space Invaders causing a shortage of coins in Japan, or pop songs written about Pacman, games are a huge industry, and a big influence over popular culture.

The problem with syndicated news

SMH (NSW) story: A man has been shot dead on Valentine’s Day, in what locals are saying was a jealous argument over an ex-wife. A large search is now underway for the killer around the small town of Gulgong, near Mudgee in the state’s central west.

Age (Vic) story: A man has been shot dead on Valentine’s Day, in what locals are saying was a jealous argument over an ex-wife. A large search is now underway for the killer around the small town of Gulgong, near Mudgee in the state’s central west.

At the time I initially looked, neither story had any indication which state this happened in, except the SMH one linked to a Google map of Gulgong, NSW. I had guessed that, since I recalled Mudgee was in NSW.

When you’re feeding your local stories into the global (or at least national) media machine, a little more info on where it’s happening would help a lot.


Google Inc today lost a copyright fight launched by Belgian French-language newspapers which demanded the web search service remove their stories, claiming it infringed copyright laws. … They complained that the search engine’s “cached” links offered free access to archived articles that the papers usually sell on a subscription basis. It was unclear if Google would have to pay a fine.

— Wire story: Google loses case against Belgian papers

That’s just stupid. You don’t need to go around suing search engines to stop your stuff getting into their databases. Every web developer who knows anything about this knows you just need to drop a robots.txt file onto your web site and it stops all search engines and archivers stone dead.

To ignore that, and send the lawyers in instead just looks like you’re not looking for a solution, you’re looking for money.

The cost of the pitch

What spammers don’t seem to realise is that advertising doesn’t scale. Spruikers know this — that’s why every shop doesn’t have one, it would be a cacophony of noise. Junk (snail) mail people know this — if everybody’s mail box was flooded 100% of the time, everybody would get a No Junk Mail sticker. (Mind you I did once get 28 items in one day.) Telemarketers… well, they may not have figured it out yet.

In fact no, I’ve changed my mind. It’s all about the cost of the pitch. As the cost approaches zero, and assuming there’s no regulations preventing it, there’s more pitching. So those who don’t batton down the phone hatches like I do get endless calls. And spammers flood email boxes, despite that their pitch would work better if it was the only one that arrived that day. Not to mention if it wasn’t in broken English.

Which is why my Gmail spam folder currently has 2702 items in it.

Do people wanting to buy Cialis and Viagra actually wait around for a spam to arrive telling them how to get it? Why don’t they just go to the chemist?

OpenID – the next big thing?

Over the years, as new web services have come into prominence, there’s been a rush to get hold of the best IDs. Most people would chase something resembling their name, with those with popular names too late to the game being left with the lame IDs: nicknames, real name + licence plate number, or hackerz sp34k versions.

Some of the defunct web sites I got good IDs for include Excite and Some I still use include Gmail (and all the other Google properties), Hotmail and Yahoo.

With the news that Microsoft will be supporting OpenId, I reckon the next big rush could be for this, particularly if Google and Yahoo are sensible and decide to jump on the bandwagon.

OpenID identifies you by a URL/URI, so it’s marginally less user-friendly than a conventional logon, but if it takes off (*if*) and gets widespread use around the web, from a user point of view, it could go a long way towards cutting down on the zillions of passwords people currently have to remember… and thus have to write them all down.

So I’ve got my OpenID already. Have you? Now, since Flickr are pissing everybody off with new limitations, maybe I’ll go over to Zooomr and take a look around there. is spamming blogs

People are comment-spamming blogs on behalf of The comments I’m getting look something like this:

Name: mirror

Talking of [topic], may be if you want to buy [product] at best price, I have a suggestion to make do look up Online Shopping

I’ve had about a dozen of these today, hitting various entries, where the topic closely resembles the topic of the blog post hit, though the link to [product] is often tenuous.

Apparently (see comment 16 here) the company offers discounts from products in return for people posting blog comments about them. Certainly looking around they appear to be successfully hitting a lot of blogs.

Not mine though.

More examples after the fold.
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Low impact installations

If only application installations were more like Java or Flash applets — low impact, with no permanent hooks into the host computer. Files that just sit in a directory, rather than installing themselves all over the filesystem, the registry, wherever-else.

Then maybe we wouldn’t be tempted to regularly rebuild operating systems, just to regain some of the lost performance, and removal of unused apps would be clean and painless.

Is it too much to ask?