It's Just this Little Chromium Switch Here

Weblogging and commentary by Chip Rosenthal

Ode to the Whip In

The Blog Day topic is What to do with Four Spare Hours in Austin. For me, this is not a theoretical issue. I had quite a bit of downtime this past weekend. My recommendation is to use the spare time to drink.

MSN/Hotmail Closing the Barn Doors

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Links: Microsoft Going after Hotmail Spammers (News.com, Feb 18), Microsoft Planning more Spam Suits (News.com, Feb 19)

In a previous article, I discussed the magnitude of the dictionary attack problem at MSN/Hotmail. This week, Microsoft announced plans to file several "John Doe" lawsuits against spammers that harvest member addresses by this method.

Collaborative Filtering at Amazon.com

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Link: Amazon.com Recommendations: Item-to-Item Collaborative Filtering (link to abstract)

The Jan/Feb issue of IEEE Internet Computing magazine has an interesting article on the collaborative filtering algorithm used at Amazon.com. This brief tutorial does not provide sufficient information to implement or evaluate collaborative filtering systems, but I found it a good introduction to the technology.

Jello Shots Capital of the World

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News 8 Austin interviews Freddie Steady KrcLinks: The Year the Music Died (News 8 Austin), Rent Party Blues (Austin Chronicle)

Those who cared have always winced when the cliché Live Music Capital of the World was bandied about, but nobody disputed the fact that Austin has been home to a remarkable live music club scene. Starting with venues like The 'Dillo and Threadgill's, and pioneering genres such as Outlaw Country and Modern Texas Blues, Austin has been an outstanding place for musicians and fans to call home.

Three Most Important Things

Fire! Fire! Fire!This morning, I discovered the three most important material things in my life.

Around 7 this morning, I was awoken by the smell of acrid smoke. I looked out my bedroom window and saw the neighbor's backyard engulfed in flames. The morons next door had managed to light the debris in their backyard on fire. The fire had spread to the wooden fence at the back of their lot. From there it would move to the fence between our yards, and then to my apartment building.

I called 911. They had a report of the fire, but not the address. I gave them directions and they were on their way.

Now, the fire was really raging. The smoke had gotten so dense and so black, it nearly obscured the flames. The fence between our lots had not caught yet, but there was a real possibility I would need to abandon my apartment. So, I began preparations to flee and started to gather what possessions I would be able to take.

Fortunately, the fire department arrived quickly and soon had the blaze under control. So the damage was limited to burning, stinging eyes that lasted about an hour.

I did learn, however, which possessions I prize the most. They are: my cat, my computer workstation and my pants.

Feb 26 update: I've posted an update to this article.

Austin City Boosters Get Desperate, Sleazy

Thing are getting so desperate in Austin that the city boosters are resorting to spam.

To: chris sherman <chris [at] greateraustin [dot] com>
From: "chris sherman @ GreaterAustin" <chris [at] GreaterAustin [dot] com>
Subject: Invite: Austin Small Business Growth Conference this Tuesday Feb 18
Date: Tue, 11 Feb 2003 18:52:05 -0600

Hi,

The Greater Austin Business Growth Conference takes place this coming Tuesday, February 18 at the Austin Convention Center. The conference is a one-day event for small business owners, founders and operators in Central Texas looking to grow and expand their businesses.
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Featured speakers at the spammer's conference include city councilmember Will Wynn and ice cream mogul Amy Simmons. How unfortunate to see these people aligning themselves with spammers.

Yeah, Well You Smell Funny

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I've received this terribly obnoxious spam several times over the past week.

To: "" <chip [at] unicom [dot] com>
From: "Pavol Viluda" <www [dot] designgalaxy [dot] net [at] mail [dot] soaustin [dot] net>
Subject: STOP UGLY WEBSITES! USE PREMADE WEBDESIGN SERVICES
Date: Sun, 9 Feb 2003 19:48:02 +0000

I have recently founded your website. Design is bad. We are promoting new great resource of website templates www.designgalaxy.net. Use my template to build good website.
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This spammer is badly in need of either English lessons or a bitchslap. Maybe both.

Outrage in Washington: Part II

Link: Coble, Myrick face heat for comments.

Rep. Howard Coble (R-N.C.), during a radio interview, defended imprisoning Japanese-Americans in internment camps during World War II. He thought it was necessary because some Japanese-Americans "probably were intent on doing harm to us, just as some of these Arab-Americans are probably intent on doing harm to us."

Sure, Washington is full of idiots, but before you write this guy off, please note he is the chair of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland. (via BookBlog)

Outrage in Washington: Part I

Link: Justice Dept. Drafts Sweeping Expansion of Anti-Terrorism Act.

The current administration--aided by a derelict Congress--has significantly curtailed our civil liberties. Executive orders and laws like the Patriot Act have abridged fundamental rights, such as requiring search warrants before protected, confidential information (like library records) can be seized.

And now they're at it again.

This time, however, there may be hope. The Senate recently bucked the administration and voted to block funding to the Total Information Awareness program. Maybe they are finally ready to stand up to the Bush Justice Department and its attack on our most basic rights. (via bOING bOING)

Jammin' on Aggregation

In a previous article, I mentioned some work I was doing on automatic blog aggregation via trackback ping. I've already turned a second generation on the system, and it's now been deployed at the Austin Bloggers web site.