Knowledge is power Archive Last updated - Jan 4
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November



CD-R FAQ
Everybody with a CD writer has questions about how to use it. This CD-R FAQ answers all of them. Including what to do with a CD that failed during writing (with more creative uses than just coasters), how to repair a scratched CD "A common misconception is that the data is on the bottom, but if you examine it carefully you will see that the data is beneath the label. The laser reads the data through the polycarbonate layer, and if the layer is scratched the laser will refract onto the wrong part of the disc.", how long they last "The shelf life of an unrecorded disc has been estimated at between 5 and 10 years." and of course what everybody wants to know - how they react in a microwave.


Mark-up languages
If you're like me, you've been putting off learning what XML is. I think it's more important to learn MRML. The Mind Reading Markup Language (MRML /mur'mul/) is a proprietary extension of the HyperText Markup Language. This document, all MRML tags, and any ideas you come up with while reading this information are the exclusive property of the authors.


Intelligence in the War of Independence
If your a fan of spies and intrigue or a Revolutionary War buff read the CIA's page on Intelligence in the War of Independence. You'll learn what a sympathetic stain is.




Thanksgiving Break
Kiplog is going on vacation this week. If you need a kiplog substitute this week check out larkfarm. If I was working this week I would have used a few of their links from the last few days.




Good design starts with good typography
Ok, my first rant - Lots of Websters out here are complaining about the bad state of design on the Web but are using poor typography to express it. First example: Jay's got a cool page, with lots of great links and he's got strong opinions on design. But he makes the small font bug mistake seen here when he lays out responses to his design rant. Most of you with a small font preference will clearly see the gap in the normal leading of the last line of each paragraph. This is a very common sight on the web today and it seems people just ignore it. Here's how to fix the small font gap bug.

His second mistake on that response page is he's choosen Helvetica -2 from the default font size, on a Mac that's an unreadable 7 point type. On a PC its 8 point. Here's the relative font sizes (plus leading and tracking) for both platforms. I have to bump up my font size to read it.

Second example: (Oh god, I'm going to get in trouble for this) is on Jakob Nielsen's lastest alertbox about bad design elements that become standard design. I agree with his point, but he disapproves of left-justified navigation rails complaining that they take up room (about 20% of the page). But without that 20% taken up with something, either white space or other margin design, text runs all the way across the screen. Jacob's articles are unreadable on my screen without resizing my window because the text goes all the way across the width of the browser window - up to 30 words on one line. It'll be fine with a small monitor but they don't sell 640-wide monitors with new computers.


Microbe facts
Over 500 species of bacteria live in the healthy human alimentary canal; in the average adult they weigh about one kilogram. If you want to know more (and after that fact I'm sure you do), read The Effect of Intestinal Microbes on Systemic Immunity.




Email hoaxes part II
I've gotten my third email hoax letter this week, all from people I consider more inteligent than me. If you want current info on some new hoaxes coming down the pike check out the Computer virus hoax pages . This is required reading for all newbies and gurus alike. But what if you really have a serious warning? How do you write an email about it without sounding like you're crying wolf? Read Drop-dead internet alerts.


Cross-linking
Got a reference from nqpaofu, who's surprised I gave a link over in the left side there. I'm much more surprised to be included on this Dutch artist/curator's page that been around since March of 98 and where there always seems to be something thought provoking.



Nearby Weblogs
PG and me had a discussion once on the regional anonymity of most Web sites. If you'd like to find a blog near you check out this map, showing where they are. For those of you here in Chicago, visit Lake Effect, with lots of regional links. He was kind enough to give me a reference today. (I too, have to listen to car alarms from people stupid enough to leave them on when they park under the "L".) Other Local blogs include the famous robotwisdom (Jorn got himself in Wired this month) and Slave, who also has some CTA comments.




Cool Javascript fun
Superbad seems like it could be hours of fun. Keep clicking, this site is pretty deep, featuring lots of javascript and gif tricks, Ranger Rick, duct work, Planet of the Apes characters, Micheal J. Fox with a big head, and lots of other stuff to explore.


How to help a newbie
I read this guide to helping someone with a computer a while ago and found it useful. Its sometimes hard to remember, that at some point way back when, we all had to figure out how to turn these things on. Keypoint: If it's not obvious to them, it's not obvious. Another Keypoint: Don't take the keyboard away from them. One of the things I find myself doing when teaching somebody is showing them too many ways to do something, like all the keyboard shortcuts etc. But the person you're helping only cares about the end result, they haven't gotten to the point of how to get to that end result faster, or more efficiently.


All Human Knowledge vol. 2
I'm always surprised to find that people don't know about one of the greatest sources of information on the Net - the list of FAQs. Have a question about something? ANYTHING. Want to know something about Kool-aid? Its here (including the fact that it wasn't used in Jonestown). It could take a while to find certain things but its all there. For instance everthing you want to know about Dippy birds, why golf balls are dimpled, why hot water freezes faster than cold, and the apparent superluminal velocity of galaxies can be found on one page! Part 3 of the Particle Physics FAQ. I'll be pointing to the best of them as time goes on.


Was the Microsoft 1999 Annual report produced on a Macintosh?
Not knowing what kind of hidden info is embedded in your word files can get you in trouble.


Web Bugs - Sneaky Customer Tracking
A few weeks ago I pointed to a link that briefly desribed how to track who's reading email you send out with a GIF. Here's a much more comprehensive FAQ on Web bugs, who's using them and why. These last two links provided by R. M. Smith's Advanced Web Programming site.




Everything you need to know about snack cakes
Whether its a ring ding, ding dong, or a big wheel, its important to know your snack cakes when you're travelling. More important its so important to know not to put a twinkie in a microwave. The brilliant scientists at Rice University have conducted gravitational response, radiation, solubility and many more tests on the lovable yellow treat. The Turing test's the best.


All human knowledge
This is the first of many attempts to prove that if the Web isn't the repository of all human knowledge, it soon will be. When I say all human knowledge I don't just mean the writings of philospers, I'm talking about my previous twinkie link. Somebody learned what happens when you put a twinkie in a microwave and that knowledge is now available to everyone. This List of movies with women smoking in them is an incredible database of microtrivia for whoever needs such information. Don't ask me how such information could be used, I don't have the foggiest.


Space Weather
A Wired story warns of the coming solar maximum, the cyclical periods of solar storms, which could be more disruptive than y2k. The NOAA are on top of it though, with daily reports (including cool shots of the sun) and a new system of scales to measure the effects of bad space weather. It should make for some cool auroras.




Getting your site indexed by Yahoo
Another Webmaster wanted to know why his site wasn't indexed by Yahoo when the site had really good rankings in all the other engines. If you use Yahoo, you should know how it works. Unlike almost all the other ways to search the internet, Yahoo is done by humans, not bots. So it takes forever to get looked at (almost 2 months for one of my sites) and you may not even get on after they visit you. Here's some good tips on getting those humans to list your site. Yahoo itself answers most questions about getting listed. The really tricky part is getting in the right category so people find you once you are listed.


Bubbleboy Virus
Microsoft's email "features" now allow a virus into your machine without even opening or reading the email. I guess that's one of the new innovations Bill was talking about at that press conference the other day. Lots of other good gloats and comments at slashdot.




This knowledge really is power department
How to make an arrowhead from a beer bottle. This is going to be important stuff after y2k. (God, I hope there'll be enough beer.) It doesn't say what you make the arrow shaft from, maybe pretzel sticks or beef jerky?



Steal this javascript assignment
Cool javascript on shotdead's cover page He's got a good collection of links too. He led me to the next item ...


Cool flash site
Stamen has done some interesting Flash stuff here. It's interesting to see how certain people react to an interface which you have to play around with to figure out. I guess its what's really meant by "interactive" (a word I truely hate). If you don't interact with this stuff it doesn't do anything.




Is Knowledge Power?
I thought I'd stir up the "what is knowledge" question again. According to T. H. Huxley:
"The value of any pursuit depends upon the extent to which it fulfils one or all of three conditions. Either it enlarges our experience; or it increases our strength; or it diminishes the obstacles in the way of our acquiring experience and strength. Whatever neither teaches, nor strengthens, nor helps us, is either useless or mischievous."

T. H. Huxley On Natural History, as Knowledge, Discipline, and Power Proceedings of the Royal Institution (1856) Scientific Memoirs I
He goes on to consider how the process of acquiring knowledge strengthens and develops the powers of the gainer (that is the ability of the gainer to turn one part of the universe against another, in order to attain his own ends). He's talking about the Science of Natural History here, but it applies to all knowledge.
So is the dancing hampster page I pointed to a week ago useless and mischievous or did it enlarge our experience?

Here's a good synopsis of the limits, origins, history and consequences of knowledge (I learned here that this blog's title comes from Francis Bacon). Some of the other articles linked on the top of the page look interesting too.

Nov. 4 - Weblog notes I'm able to keep up with adding links every few days but just haven't got the chance to work on the feedback part of this site yet. Someday . . .

Why you should and shouldn't use CSS
An article about Netscape 4.0, CSS, Peanut Butter and Bicycle chains. For those of you who don't know anything about CSS take this tutorial and you will. Then go on to learn more at the House of Style

How to Obscure your URL
A few neat tricks for obscuring your URL. Alot of the examples didn't work in my main browser though (Netscape 4.06 Mac). Why would you want to know this? So you'll know when others try to do it to you.

History Sources
Lots of history sources for those who are interested in that sort of thing. Links to full text and other resources on Ancient Medieval, Modern, and any other type of history.

Existence and transplanted heads
How a brain gives existence to a mind. Actually I'm too tired to get most of this stuff, I just like when a scientist grafts an animal's arm into its eye socket.



Typography Site
Very nicely done Shockwave Flash site called counterspace discusses the anatomy, classification and history of typography. The timeline takes a bit of interface exploring to get around but still very elegantly done.

Ever want to know if your email was read?
Via Tasty Bits Blog on 10/26, the Sneaky Customer Tracking heading describes how a company sneaks a blank pixel into your HTML based email client, which links back to their site, recording the fact you've opened and read their email. I don't use a HTML-displaying email client, and I can't think of a way to anybody could really abuse this sort of thing, but I bet somebody will.

Javascript resource
Definitely the best Javascript resource I've ever seen. Lots of other object-oriented oriented stuff up a level for those who need it too.

Information information
After two toon links in a row I figured I better get serious. I saw the discussion about information at syntheticzero.com and lemonyellow and knew this information theory stuff would fit right in to the concept of this blog. After trying to read through it I didn't really get it. These definitions helped a little and I learned more about cybernetics but I felt I didn't understand enough about it to make an intelligent comment. I wonder whether I should just stick to toon links. I don't feel particularly lucid today though after a flu shot. Maybe I'll clear up and have something intelligent to say in a few days. I think the question I want to ask is what is knowledge and when does information become knowledge?



Pulp Simpson
To go along with yesterday's cartoon links, here's a page of Pulp Fiction scenes drawn by the Simpson's artists.

On a lighter note
During a recent gathering I mentioned Cartoon Network's showing of the new improved Yogi Bear done by Ren and Stimpy's John K. but this weekend I missed the Scooby Doo Project , a Scooby Doo does Blair Witch thing.



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