Monthly Archives: January 2007


To the right → you’ll note a new ad on the site. Kiva is a service that allows you to easily loan money to a particular somebody in a developing nation, allowing them to start or develop their business. There is no interest paid, but you are statistically very likely to get your investment back in the specified time frame.

Contribute as little as $25, and make a tangible difference to a person who is unable to acquire funds via more standard channels.

How disappointing…

Sometimes you’re better off not knowing.

I just found out the origin of the term ‘Bohemian’, as it applies to lifestyle. Wikipedia (the indisputable fount of all knowledge) tells me that it’s based on the French word for Gypsy, as the French purportedly used to think that Gypsies came from Bohemia.

All this time I’d imagined Prague at the center of an area with some great history of artistic self-expression. But no. Just a buncha confused medieval French people.

I guess I’ll have to focus my Czech-loving attentions on neighboring Moravia, which does seem to be pretty fascinating, at least the Moravian church and those killer cookies.

Now, I’m sure that Prague is still a fantastic place despite it all and I hope to visit soon. I don’t want to raise the ire of the Czechs.

UPDATE: Nor the gypsies. I’m all over Flamenco.

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know, But Were Afraid to Ask…

I was sitting here fiddling with Google Earth, as I am prone, and noticed for the first time a city name of ‘Kingston’ hovering in the middle of the Pacific between New Zealand, Australia, and New Caledonia. “How curious”, I mused, and zoomed in to find Norfolk Island. A closer look showed a bucolic looking place of country lanes and homesteads and a bit of forest. The ruler tool showed me that the island was all of 5 miles and change in its longest dimension.

In other words, a tiny, isolated place in the midst of a vast ocean.

Curious to know more, I Googled it and found near the top of the list, as usual, the Wikipedia page on the topic. Not expecting a whole lot to be said about such a small place, I was surprised to find an extensive entry discussing the entire history of the place, details of the two murders that have occurred in recent years, how delivery ships dock at the jetty (it depends on the direction of the wind, you know), where it’s safe to swim, and the exact number of analog and digital telephone lines in service (as of 2004). Lovely panoramic photo, too. With a population of some 1841 (again, as of 2004), there are more words in the article than there are residents of the place, by a factor of more than 2! This is not to mention the subsidiary page on the politics of Norfolk Island, or the one on elections and parties in Norfolk Island. There are more, too.

So what’s the point here? I love Wikipedia! A couple of people who care deeply about this little island can write as much as they want about it, and we’re all the better for it. This can, I suppose, lead to disproportionate coverage and, therefore, a distorted account of the world, but I’ll take that over a more traditional encyclopedia entry which is likely to just say: “Small Pacific island and territory of Australia”.

Good tech, bad tech

Wow, has it really been since May that I posted?!

As for the topic of this post, I received an iPod Shuffle for Stressmas and I, as I and many others are prone when it comes to Apple products, have fallen for it. The design is, needless to say, inspiring…the aluminum, the hinged clip, the simplicity of controls, the lack of protrusions, the little touches like silk-screening the serial number and the required FCC, etc. ratings out-of-the-way under the clip; it’s all just perfect.
And how does it actually work? While listening last night, I fumble-fingered the pause button and instead hit ‘next track’. Since I was in the middle of a lengthy podcast, I thought: “@#$(!, now I have to find where I was again”. But when I hit ‘back’, it started from where I’d left off. A small thing that made all the difference at that moment.
But of course not all is perfect; my main complaint so far: I want a better way to automatically update it with podcasts!

On the ‘bad tech’ side, I opened Adobe Reader tonight and it notified me that it wanted to be upgraded with version 7.0.5 and 7.0.6 and 7.0.7 and 7.0.8 and whatever else. Fine. First annoyance: I had to select each update individually and click ‘Add’…shift-click and control-click didn’t work.
That done, it downloads and starts installing. Not only did I have to reboot to commit the changes, I had to reboot 5 times. Must’ve taken me half an hour to update bloody Acrobat Reader, probably without being able to notice any difference.

The moral of the story: Details matter a whole damned lot!