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Blogging away the moments

because ... well ... why the hell not...?

it's a dirty job, but somebody's got to do it.

Friday, November 24th


Search attempt of the moment:

Google: "SNMP tutorial" retrieved this near the lot of its list of hits:

Where Telecom, Datacom and The Internet Converge. ... OK. The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request. ...

Tuesday, November 21st


Searching for Truth, Justice, and the Internet Way:

Somewhere, deep in the heart of the Microsoft Campus, a lone software engineer sat there, innocently typing, "&nbsp" into Yahoo's search box. Why? With nothing but mere log files to help us, we cannot say for sure; perhaps in Washington state, this tag has entered into the local lexicon and, in the hallowed halls of Microsoft, has replaced, 'hi' as the simple, casual greeting of programmers passing each other in the hallways.

But whatever might have prompted this action, hit number nine on Yahoo was " " - the Doomsday Tag [ ] and that's what our formerly unsuspecting Microsoft employee clicked through to. What havoc could ensue from this event? Do you think this could change the very nature of FrontPage's future development plans?

No, I didn't think so either.

Britney Spears naked sex pictures

In other news, I was somewhat surprised to discover that a search on Google for "the perfect physical specimen male" pops up a list of hits with this very page at the top. Hmmmmm. Not a whole lot of hits so far today coming in from that one (versus the several hits per minute coming in from searches on "music videos" and "movie trailers"); mixed in with the more conventional hits, I just saw a google search on "erdos number sexual" zip by. Now, there's something I wouldn't have expected.

Okay, this is sick, cheap, and sleazy ("yeah, so what else is new?") but after seeing just some of the bizarre hits that were coming in just while I was writing the paragraph above, I think I'm just going to have to insert an utterly gratuitous mention of "Britney Spears naked sex pictures mpeg jpg free download" for no reason other than to see how soon this blog winds up at the top of some search engine's nude Britney hotlist.

Okay, shameful Britney-related confession: I've never seen any of Britney's videos, met her, or anything like that. I wasn't even quite sure whether it was "Speares," "Speers," or some other spelling ... so ... I (blush) became one of the nameless millions who type "Britney" into a search engine every eighteenth of a second.

Well, not only was my search rewarded by the correct spelling of her name, one of the top hits (right next to the "Britney Spears Portal" ("she has a portal? this is a web portal, right, and not something obscene? I think I won't click through right now and will just leave the answer to that question to history) was the actually genuinely interesting Britney's Guide to Semiconductor Physics ] Okay, for the first time ever, I think I'm starting to understand what this BritneyMania is all about ... well, she is cuter than Tom Lehrer.

Though Tom Lehrer's physics- and math-related lyrics are easier for me to understand. I mean, everybody knows what Tom was talking about in Lobachevski when he sang, analytic and algebraic topology of locally Euclidean metrizations of infinitely differentiable Riemannian manifolds"--and I'm sure we all had the same immediate reaction: "but isn't an infinitely differentiable Riemannian manifold necessarily locally Euclidean?

... But how, exactly, does one interpret the mathematical underpinning of "Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah"?

Monday, November 20th


Christmas gifts that they won't already have one of:

L.A. County Coroner's office gift shop [ ]

... however, if you do end up getting the gifts for your family and loved ones there and on Christmas morning the sounds of crinkling and tearing wrapping paper are followed, not by the hoped-for gasps of surprise and delight, but by disappointed sighs of, "oh, I already have that" ... just back quietly out from the room and move somewhere else. Right away.

Thursday, November 16th


note that the anticipated flux levels of each component, the time of the peak, and the particle size distributions are uncertain:

Calculate your expected meteor shower activity from your location on Earth under a range of observing conditions in November of 2000. (courtesy of NASA) [ ]

Skies are clear out here at the treehouse, so I'll let you know how it goes tonight from my special high-tech spring-coupled observing platform (aka "the trampoline in the backyard"). One snippet of NASA's meteor shower viewing advice particularly sticks in my mind:

If you keep your expectations low, then even a single bright fireball will cause you much delight.

Sounds more like dating-and-relationship advice than a helpful hint for mere meteor-viewing activity....


Exploring the Amazon:

Discovered by accident that Amazon.Com has my soundtrack CD on sale [ here ]--with an URL like that, it's probably understandable that I hadn't wandered over to it earlier. They had slipped a pair of typos into the track names so I popped them a note about it and they've assured me that the updates and corrections will appear in one to four business days. (Which is faster than a lot of online databases, at least; I'll just have to check back and see how they're doing.)


New Bulemic Barbie: ]

(shamelessly stolen from B&K's Webblogg ])


Further evidence that the "e" in "e-commerce" stands for "eediot," part 102:

Meritline offers some decent prices on CD jewel cases through their online store--$15 for a hundred. Actually obtaining them, however, is a more challenging affair.

I put an order in with them a couple of weeks back and received a confirmation in email shortly thereafter. Now, if you're particularly clever and good at picking up on hints and foreshadowing, you might have guessed already that I'm about to tell you that I still haven't gotten them.

the heaviest CD cases in the world

Well, you're right. I haven't.

Not because they're out of stock or anything that simple, but because, as they keep assuring me, "jewel cases are too heavy."

I should just give up on these things and cough up the $16 it might cost to buy a box of a hundred jewel cases elsewhere. I probably will, but the sheer bafflement at how a company could be in the business of selling CD packaging (including jewel cases) but be unable to ship them to would-be customers has pushed me to probe deeper into this mystery.

Maybe not much deeper, but a little deeper, anyway.

Where things stand right now is that I got them to "research" the matter and call me back. They even did call back, which is pretty unusual for a company I'm trying to buy something from these days.

"Okay," they informed me (I can tell you're heaving a sigh of relief out there); they can ship me some jewel cases ... but it'll have to be by truck and will cost at least $100, more if I admit that they'd be sending them to a residence, 'cause the trucking company charges extra to go to a residence.

Hmmmm...I'm tempted. Even at a cost of $100 to ship a box of CD jewel cases, it might be worth it just for the puzzled expression on the trucker when getting to see Meritline using their forklift to load that roughly-breadbox-sized box of CD cases onto the truck.

Nah; never mind. I'd probably be risking a lawsuit if this box of the heaviest CD cases in the world broke the truck's axle. Guess I'll order some from some place that carries CD cases light enough for carriers like UPS.

Tuesday, November 14th


Going, going....

I guess it's official; I'll skip over the long and boring details (sure; there's a first for everything), but one of the things that's been keeping me far busier than it should this past month has been the acquisition of a majority interest (80%) in Go-Go Media, publishers of Go-Go Magazine [ ] which Westword describes in its current (11/9) issue as "the city's most prominent new entertainment bi-weekly..."

I know; I said I wasn't going to buy any more companies for a while. Well, I'm trying, really. I promise, no more new companies, mergers, buyouts, or anything else like that for at least the rest of November.

"the city's most prominent new entertainment bi-weekly..."

I'll try, anyway. Just hang with me on this one; you'll see.


It's Tuesday Morning; do you know where your old computers are?

Since early this year, I've been working with the Masaba Project down in Colorado Springs to get everything from clothing and other basic necessities to computer equipment to those who can most benefit from it. The program is run by a Native American group, but they work with any and all people they feel they can help.

One of the best things about the Masaba project from my personal, selfish perspective is that they'll actually take stuff. You wouldn't think that would be as unusual a characteristic in an assistance program as it is, but most of the other groups I've dealt with have this habit of not picking up goods that have been collected for them, often for months at a time. I've organized collections and benefits and had groups request that the items collected be left at a particular pickup/dropoff location where they then get damaged or destroyed by being left unprotected for extended periods of time. I know from personal experience (lots of personal experience) how difficult it can be to run or organize a volunteer-operated program, but being able to accept donations, especially when fundraisers and events have been scheduled well in advance, is critical.

The fact that they're willing to accept imperfect items too has been a great help to me--I've got a long backlog of charities that are queued up with requests for computers and other equipment for individuals they're trying to help and for their own facilities which are all waiting on the back burner because they simply won't accept anything unless it's complete and set up to their exact specifications.

Sometimes I've dealt with that: for the program that would only accept computers if they included speakers, I went out and found a place that had a good sale on computer speakers and bought a dozen or two. But usually it comes down to a time and priorities issue: when I've got a group that will only accept computers if they're fully set up and configured, complete with 56kbps modems, word processing and spreadsheet software, and (yes, you'd be surprised how often I get this) 15" or bigger monitors (they may have a queue of people without computers, but getting them a mere 14" SVGA display would simply be unacceptable) and another group who will accept a pallet of computers and a separate pile of modems that they can put in themselves, it all ends up coming down to the cold, hard fact that I can get fifty computers out to people through the second group in the time it would take me to get one or two through the first.

At this point, I may have gotten something upwards of fifty Pentium systems out to the Masaba project and they've taken the initiative of putting together a facility to recondition and configure the systems that they get in and then get them out to people and I have great hopes that this will not only help get equipment out to more people who can use it, but also teach people who previously had limited job skills and training about computer repair and setup. ]

Wednesday, November 8th


Wednesday Morning Web Awards:

I've heard more than a few tech writers and product support people complain about how few people read manuals. I'm sure it's true that a lot of people don't read technical manuals, but at the same time, I keep running into more and more reasons not to read manuals.

Apart from the obvious problem that practically every technical manual nowadays consists of a picture of a turntable (if it's audio or video equipment) or a computer with a smiley face (if it's some kind of computer equipment like, say, a router or a supervisor card for a manageable fiber optic hub, which we all know look pretty much like one of the old all-in-one Macintosh computers with a smiley face) accompanied by extensive and dire warnings not to use this product in the bathtub.

In a minimum of six languages.

Now, if, for some reason, you actually want to use this product, even if there's no bathtub in sight, you're on your own. Sure, if it were an emergency, you could run out to the hardware store, buy and install a bathtub in your computer room, and then proceed not to use the product in the tub, but you'd still have details like the configuration and setup to worry about.

My theory is that every time a computer or electronics company comes out with a new product, they draw straws to see who gets to do the "bathtub test." Then, a bunch of people stand around in protective white lab coats with clipboards, awaiting the inevitable, and then nod sagely to each other while checking the "did not work in bathtub" box on the form:

"looks like this one isn't bathtub-ready either."
"The PAL version will be out next week, and it should be coming out in Blueberry and Tangerine the week after; maybe one of those will turn out to be tub-compliant."
"Here's hoping. Oh, by the way, I think it's your turn to perform CPR."
"It my turn last week; it's your turn."

But, in any case, rumor has it that there may be some technical manuals out there which are actually technical in nature. It may be an urban legend, but somehow I keep hoping. Of course, with my luck, it'll turn out that the "technical manual with technical content" of myth and legend will actually contain a list of the specific shampoo brands which should not be poured into the cooling slots while the power is connected.

Unless it's Bubble Memory, I guess.

Um...but where was I...? Oh, yeah. The other problem with reading manuals is finding them, and since I deal with a lot of used/OEM/surplus hardware that usually doesn't include manuals and similar luxuries, I find myself going to the web in search of documentation.

only Vulcans would come up with error codes expressed as exponential numbers with seventeen digits of precision

Many, if not most, manufacturers' web-based documentation sucks, at least if you're looking for something other than their newest product that they're hyping this week. As a side-note, I've found that being able to struggle through German is surprisingly useful when looking for docs; a lot of manufacturers have this habit of disposing of the docs for last year's products, but I keep running into German sites that still have German versions of the docs.

Of course, sometimes this simply means that you have extensively illustrated PDF files showing you not to pour beer into the cooling slots of your manageable fiber-optic hub which, oddly enough, looks like an old-style one-box Macintosh with a smiley face.

My latest documentation webhunt was remarkably unsuccessful in scaring up any actual documentation, but I did run across a some new and innovative techniques for bad webdesign and implementation that were so remarkable that I simply had to come up with an excuse to give them special awards.

It's Wednesday morning; that'll just have to do for an excuse because it's what I've got. And so, on with the Wednesday Morning Web Awards:

  • In the "Most absurd use of corporate doublespeak" category, the winner is 3Com Corporation for what I found instead of useful documentation when trying to track down information on their Netbuilder II line of routers: [ ]
    To extend its leadership in the emerging high-growth technologies of IP telephony, broadband, wireless, and the Web, 3Com Corporation is discontinuing the PathBuilder switch and NETBuilder router product lines.
  • In the "Most brain-dead site search" category, the winner is Cabletron/Enterasys [ ] where a site search on documentation for any of the products I'd been interested in turned up these thumbnail descriptions for the hits:
    If you see this message you have style sheets and/or JavaScript turned off. This site requires that style sheets be enabled in your browser. Click here for instructions on turning on style sheets.
    Come on, guys; Enterasys's "mission statement" proclaims
    Enterasys Networks is the only provider of total network solutions singularly focused on enterprise-class customers. By tailoring its solutions for e-business applications, and by providing global 24x7 service and support, Enterasys builds maximum competitive advantage into the IT infrastructure.

    ...and you can't even make your internal indexing bot compatible with your own web pages?

  • And, finally, in the "Least Useful Search" category, the winner is AGFA [ ] whose scanners yield only cryptic numeric error codes which are undocumented in both their print and electronic documentation (troubleshooting: "are you trying to use the scanner [insert picture of old-style Mac with smiley face so we know what a high-end "professional" scanner looks like] in the bathtub? Well, don't. Take it out and allow it to dry before trying to scan your document again.) Searching their site for "error codes" produces 619 documents, all alike:
    Image Display Page
    Error The requested Product could not be found in the database. Error code: 2.1764506784363466e59...

    Okay, I'm exaggerating. They're not all exactly alike. Some of the documents have error code: 5.285594864678313e180...

    I've been trying to use AGFA's phone support, but so far I've done a few half-hour-plus sessions of listening to an endlessly repeated "your call is important to us" recording, but have yet to talk to a human being.

    But, then, it is possible that AGFA's employees aren't human at all; they could be Vulcans, you know. I think only Vulcans would come up with error codes expressed as exponential numbers with seventeen digits of precision.

Tuesday, November 7th


A quick sleepy note:

The great advantage of the net is that it's "on tap"; today, for example, I got up at a quarter to three AM, proofed and checked a magazine that needed to get to the printer by mid-day, followed that by dealing with the "company reorganization of the day" and some more promotional issues, and then went on to meetings about everything from video editing to movie scripts to computer-aided training for law enforcement projects...and wrapped that up just short of midnight. The net provides some social contact in little bite-sized bits that can be served up at the touch of a button, at least enough for a nibble before catching two or three hours of snooze-time before getting back to work.

Usenet and message message boards have the added advantage of being "optional." I've trimmed my email "inbox" down to hardly more than 350 messages waiting to be read (and a mere 1460 read-but-yet-unresponded-to), which is definite progress, but email still can feel "obligatory," somehow, with messages waiting patiently or im- for an appropriately thoughtful or informative response.

Email's great, mind you, but it can get daunting sometimes. Fortunately, most people have gotten used to my being busy and often sporadic in my email responsiveness, so most of them don't feel too snubbed if I'm slow about getting back ... or if they are feeling snubbed, they aren't sending me notices to that effect in email.

Message boards, on the other hand, are more suitable for dropping into and saying what comes to mind right then...and only if and when you have a moment and something reasonable does come to mind.

Which makes them good practice--I think forcing myself to do the random, stream-of-consciousness approach helps with my serious writing as well, especially with combatting the "edit everything to death" tendency I bog down into when I really do need to write something of a more professional/official nature.

...and somewhere, way back there, I did have a point in mind, but as much as I'd planned to wherever I was going my moment of winding down after the day's meetings has passed and if I wind down any more, I'll be asleep.

And that, I think, is what I'll do. Pleasant dreams to all of you out there in net-land!

Thursday, November 2nd


Nominations I never knew:

Mark Steven Grove nominated for "Best Local Filmmaker, 2000"? [ ]

Hey, I'd have voted for him, but I only just now found out about it and it's already over, with Mark having lost out to Trey Parker. Okay, I admit it, Cannibal, the Musical was an unparalleled cinematic masterpiece, so it's no great shame to be second to Trey Parker, but I bet if they'd had them fight for it, Mark would have won.

So, of course, the first thing I do is call Mark and ask, "Hey, did you know...?" and he said that he'd gotten a note in email about it a few months ago, but hadn't thought to mention it to anybody.

I admit it, Cannibal, the Musical was an unparalleled cinematic masterpiece

Mark is like that, though; he's always totally focused on whatever project he's working on right this minute and everything else sort of slips his mind. Then every once in a while, something will slip out about what he did on Highlander or Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, or some other fairly high-profile project and by the time that's worked its way through your head enough for you to say, "hey, wait...?" he's already deep into the details of what he's shooting next week.

Wednesday, November 1st



Okay, gang, I digitized a clip from the "Evil Lair Scene" and stuck it on the web; I'd been hemming and hawing about it because of the "mature language" content, but then I thought, "aww, **** it" and made it accessible to the world at [ ]

(Oh, yeah; if you hadn't guessed from the heading, it is the clip that includes the "keyboard fu" shot--as well as one of Michelle Grove's infamous "overhead kicks.")



In the old days, there were stock tickers, but now I have log files.

I've gotten into the amusing habit of keeping a window open on one of my main workstation monitors with a running view into the hits on the Trygve.Com website. Apart from the sheer ego value, as long as that particular window is scrolling along at a steady clip, I know that all's well with at least that part of the network.

It's not like having an "inverse webcam" showing me whether you're smiling, sneering, snoring, or snorting at what you might see here on Trygve.Com, but it does show me where a decent percentage of the hits are coming from and sometimes I'll see a flurry of activity coming from somewhere interesting.

In the last couple of days, I've seen a big spike in the hits coming from Alta Vista, so just for fun, I thought I'd see where I came up on a couple of searches there and elsewhere:

AllTheWebmovie trailers3
AllTheWebmp3 site2
AllTheWebmp3 files3
AllTheWebmusic videos9
AltaVistabodybuilding pics1
AltaVistamovie trailers2
AltaVistamusic videos3
AltaVistamedieval weapons1
Googleinside a computer5
Googleworld conquest1
Lycosmovie trailers10
Yahoomovie villain2

Obviously, I'm just not doing quite so well on Lycos and I've slipped from the #1 movie villain spot on Yahoo, but, hey, maybe next week things will be looking up on those fronts.

...but how come I get six or seven pieces of junk email per day promising "guaranteed top ten search engines placement" from companies/websites that don't even show up at all in search engines themselves?

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