November 29, 2005 | 2:19 PM ET

Blogging may be spotty this week as I recalibrate my days to accommodate some new responsibilities...

There exists a video in which someone is shooting from a moving car at other cars in Iraq.  The accusation is that the shooter(s?) is a private contractor killing civilians.  Watching the video itself doesn't make it apparent who is involved or what the circumstances are, so I'm not going to make any leaps, but it seems likely that the role of private contractors in Iraq is going to see some extra scrutiny soon.  We can be sure that the subject is of keen interest in Iraq, anyway. 

Many online are making the thematic connection between the video and the recent death of a military ethicist.  (I'm deliberately not linking to the video.  It's not hard to find, and the content itself isn't as graphic as the expression "trophy video" suggests, but I'd rather not link to video of people dying all the same.)

As we've read before, it will soon be possible - even commonplace - to download your Tivo'ed shows to a handy little device like an iPod or PSP to watch on the go.  So you might Tivo ER and watch it on the train to work (maybe even fast forwarding through the commercials).  Now imagine you're NBC and you aren't getting a cut of the mobile TV download action.  (Obviously this site is part owned by NBC.  However, I have no insight into the subject of this article.  One observation I can make is that it can often be a legal nightmare trying to work out the rights to putting TV video on the Web, so it's kind of funny to see an end run like this.)

Speaking of my corporate parentage, before the holiday I had seen some stories about the new XBoxes malfunctioning.  Now the folks at Slashdot are pointing to the possible cause being overheating.  (Again, in the interest of disclosure I note that is half owned by Microsoft, and again I note that this gives me no special insight into the matter.  I did, however, talk about it with my colleague and fellow cube farmer Tom Loftus who does our video game reviews and he agreed that the machines run hot.)

WWIII seen through Soviet eyes — "In a historic break with the past, Poland's newly elected government threw open its top secret Warsaw Pact military archives - including a 1979 map revealing the Soviet bloc's vision of a seven-day atomic holocaust between Nato and Warsaw Pact forces."  Nothing worse than seeing a mushroom cloud on your city's name.

18 tricks to teach your body — I can't wait to try these.

European Terrorism Law and Music Downloaders — Is there anything scarier than lobbyists and special interests influencing the scope and reach of anti-terror laws?

Seeming somehow related to the above:  "On the 9th of December 2005, Deborah Davis will be arraigned in U.S. District Court in a case that will determine whether Deb and the rest of us live in a free society, or in a country where we must show "papers" whenever a cop demands them."

"I'm so concerned about what the consequences might be of starting an intergalactic war, that I just think I had to say something."  I'm not sure what it means when a news item is sourced to "PRWeb," but it's fun to keep alien conspiracies alive.

Bruce Willis is a fan of Michael Yon too.

Free text books

Video of the Day:  Boing Boing points to a time lapse video of the Panama Canal locks.

" The data shown represents the "popularity" of every integer between 0 and 100000, collected periodically since 1997 from a popular search engine."  This is a seriously dense app that requires Java, but it's very cool to play with.

Disturbing facts about Google

What the red/blue map looks like now — Obviously this is not charting the answer to the question, "Do you wish you'd voted for the other guy?" but I am a fan of anything that shows Americans are in fact much more united than America-hurting partisans would want us to believe.

Why $5 Gas Is Good for America — The answer is that more expensive gas makes alternatives more viable.  The point of tension is how well we can make the transition, but apparently there are a few good options in the wings that simply can't compete at the current price but can be implemented pretty smoothly.  Funny expression:  "Petro-pessimism"

3-D video podcast?  I don't have any 3-D glasses to try this, but I Tivo'ed the recent 3-D Medium and I'm looking forward to the 3-D Rolling Stone, so as soon as I get some glasses I'll be ready for a 3-D bonanza.

Speaking of podcast ideas that I haven't tried yet but sound interesting, iFeedPod.  The idea is that instead of sending your RSS subscriptions to your newsreader/aggregator, you download them to your iPod to read.  I'm not excited about reading off that little screen, but the idea of taking my daily news with me in a little device instead of, say, a newspaper, is certainly appealing.

Speaking of feeds and podcasts, CC:365 is a project to podcast Creative Commons licensed music from a different band every day for a year.  The blog for the project is here.  They're still accepting submissions.

Bush to increase funding for hope-based initiatives

Craigslist Founder Slams U.S. Press, May Launch New Online News Project — What would a news service from the Craigslist guy be like?  One might expect lots of citizen reporting since Craigslist content is user generated.  The clues in this article make it sound like he's hoping to help establish a new authoritative (trusted) voice in news.

DOA:  " Plot Summary: A feature adaptation of Tecmo's bestselling game franchise "DOA: Dead or Alive". The movie centers on four female fighters in a competition to the death on an exotic island."  Sounds like a winner to me.

"The 62-year-old retired city councilor from Kingston, Ont., paid his $230 Visa bill last month in 985 installments, often pennies at a time, to protest against the fact that his bank outsourced some of its credit card processing to a U.S. company."  He was able to do this with payments through the Internet, he didn't actually mail in that many checks.

Shooting off a lock is (mostly) false.  I wonder if this is also the case for shooting open a door lock.

Why do we love rounded corners?  A discussion among designers about why rounded corners are more appealing than sharp corners.  I'm still not convinced that that's the case, but the discussion is interesting.

AccuRadio — Free categorized streaming music.  There are ads all over it, but otherwise I don't immediately see any catch.

November 24, 2005 | 11:32 AM ET

Just a few Thanksgiving-related links that came up while surfing last night...

Top 11 signs you're at a geek's house for Thanksgiving

Since anyone remotely proficient with a computer becomes the official household IT person when they go home for the holidays, Top 10 things to do for mom's PC over Thanksgiving

The day after Thanksgiving is well known as the first day of the Christmas shopping season, but in case you're not feeling that spirit, November 25th is also Buy Nothing Day.

Cookbook reviews, best and worst.

I often see popular sports blog links but seldom include them here because I don't have enough of a sports knowledge base to know if they're worth sharing.  This time, however...  Your Chicago Cubs All-Time Thanksgiving All-Star Team


November 23, 2005 | 1:40 AM ET

This is how a government-filtered internet looks...

...Which is not to say that putting (or keeping) the Internet in the hands of corporations instead is necessarily a better idea.  There is huge concern among Web deep-thinkers about saving the Web from the greed of corporations who own the actual hardware pipelines that make the Internet possible.  There have been several significant essays written on the subject recently.  Doc Searls does a bit of a round-up of them here, so I'll suggest that as a starting point.

The Dilbert blogger (whose name, I should learn by now, is Scott Adams) is collecting strategies for winning an argument online - or at least, dismissing the other person as stupid.  It reminds me a little of the 38 ways to win an argument site.

Speaking of arguments, just as the marine referred to by Representative Jeane Schmidt in the now-infamous "coward" exchange in Congress last Friday is being scrutinized he insists he didn't say anything about anyone being a coward.

Speaking of scrutinizing, a new angle on that story is that Murtha is trying to distract from an ethics investigation he may be facing.

Another possibility is that Murtha actually means what he says, but that's crazy talk.

Video of the Day:  I completely lost my note on the latest Coudal movie " Copy Goes Here."  I especially liked that I realized what was going on at the same time the main character did.

Almost Video of the Day but I thought it'd be cheating since it's of my friend and colleague Bob Sullivan .  At the end of an interview with Lisa Daniels the other day his last answer used the kick-ass line, "If you don't know enough about technology, that is YOUR FAULT."  Three cheers for Bob for not buying in to the popular notion that computers are for kids and it's funny to be computer illiterate.  Surrendering to ignorance is not an option when it comes to your kids and the Internet.

"US troops used white phosphorus as a weapon in last year's offensive in the Iraqi city of Falluja, the US has said."  Pentagon has called WP a "chemical weapon" — Some folks are pretty upset over the sum of those two headlines.

Tivo is coming to your iPod, PSP — So we're up to TV being on demand and portable.  Now we just need a better way to view it.

What would they have to call a kangaroo for you to feel OK about eating one?

Chris Matthews has caused a stir with comments he made in Canada recently:  "If we stop trying to figure out the other side, we've given up. The person on the other side is not evil -- they just have a different perspective."

Project Hero is one blogger's effort to relay the stories of military medal honorees in Iraq and Afghanistan.  I don't know if the Jessica Lynch and Pat Tillman situations (or for that matter the Swift Boating of Kerry's medals) have soured the media on coverage, but they're good stories.

Iraq gun porn:  Which guns suck, which guns rock — Also includes a discussion of tactics and characteristics of different populations there.  As with the link above, this is so colorful and interesting, it's amazing that other media can't muster the curiosity to relay anything like it.  For all the talking head experts on TV, the most enlightening military coverage I've seen comes from amateurs and freelancers online.

Speaking of worthwhile reporting, Digby recommends someone named Jason Vest.  (Digby's entry then goes on to make an interesting argument about the lingering effects of torture on the torturers.)

The results of the International Weblog Awards are in and the best blog in the world is a Spanish blog called " A Little Respect, I'm Your Mother."  "The blog follows the life of a 52-year-old Argentinean housewife named Mira Bertotti with colorful comic-style illustrations accompanying Bertotti's regular dispatches. The blog, however, is actually a work of fiction by writer Hernán Casciari."  (Don't worry, there's an English version.)  This is an interesting result given yesterday's note about the global appeal of Latin American soap operas.  More on the "BoB" winners here.

Speaking of awards, The favorite Web site awards.  Lots of fun exploring to be done here.

Speaking of fun surfing, I had a good time today at Neatorama and also recognized a lot of the features at the Cartography blog.

I had no idea there even was such a thing as "HIV denialism."  Apparently there are people who don't agree that HIV causes AIDS.  As I understand it (though obviously I have some catching up to do), part of the debate hinges on the rate of contraction by heterosexuals.  This entry is a little bit mired in inter-blog drama, but does a thorough job exploring one particular case in discussion.

American Edit - Mashups using Green Day's American Idiot songs.  Really fun stuff, I listed to it three times already this afternoon.

Herrings speak in farts  (This is not a new story, so I'm not sure what's brought it up again, but it sure is a funny idea.  These guys won an IgNobel in 2004 for their research on the matter.  And that link includes an audio clip.)

Microwave popcorn causes cancer... maybe (or not).  (Look for "fluorotelomers" to be a new buzzword.)

Google Base, Google's answer to online classifieds, launched last week.  While some people are taking a wait-and-see position, others have pointed out that it will enable people to submit non-Web-page content to be searchable.  So far it looks like people are submitting everything from recipes to porn. points out some interesting insights into the symbolism of the set President Bush couldn't find his way out of the other day.

They played the trailer for Lady in the Water when we went to see the new Harry Potter movie.  The wikipedia entry for it may be full of spoilers, so don't click if you don't want anything ruined, but what I read makes me want to see it even more.  [ Link]

The New White Flight — I can't tell if this is a public link or if a cookie is letting me see this article, but it's about white people moving out of school districts dominated by high achieving Asians.

" These pages explain quantum entanglement by way of colourful pictures, helpful analogies, and absolutely no math."

Paul Graham describes the elements of Web 2.0 in a clear way.  If you're just catching up, this is a nice explanation.

Why Americans work so much more than Europeans.  "[P]art of the problem is that voluntary leisure for some Europeans has helped lead to involuntary leisure for others."

The headline coming from this recent Pew report is that people are using search engines almost as much as they use e-mail.  I was struck by the chart on page 4 that shows that of the 94 million people using the Web every day, only 3% are logging on to read blogs.


Hi Will,
You probably have heard of this already.  But I’m completely amazed by this new robot Sony has developed, QRIO. I had heard of Honda’s ASIMO, but to see this thing demonstrated is amazing.

I’m surprised we’ve gotten this far so soon.

Will replies:  Hi Jeff, thanks for the link.  I like the video clip of the robot talking with the kids.  It's funny that he speaks in Japanese until it's time to explain his name, then he switches to English with a Japanese accent.  Related:  President Bush shaking hands with a robot with an Einstein head the other day.

November 22, 2005 | 3:30 AM ET

I've mentioned before that is a popular and growing online community.  Lately that growth has been such that many speculate the site will become the new online superpower, usurping Slashdot.  While there is definitely a rivalry between the two sites, some seem to take it more seriously than others.  Adding to the mix is the rise in popularity of the tagging community.  But what strikes me about the comparative stats of the three sites is that the new traffic of any individual site doesn't appear to be at the expense of the others.  It could be that Slashdot users are adding the other two to their regular surfing, but my hope is that they're developing separately to preserve the character of each community.  (Even though some folks, myself included, will continue to monitor all three.

Speaking of preserving the character of a community, blogging is not unlike other subcultures in which the question of "selling out" is debated.  Growing up, I remember discussions of the ruinous effects of commercialism on skateboarding and punk rock music.  And so it is that you can label your blog ad free or pro ad depending on your position.

Speaking of that controversy, the Wooster Collective is sorting out its feelings about Sony's new fake (?) graffiti PSP ad campaign.

Speaking of Sony, Sony apologizes for the DRM rootkit fiasco.

The apology comes too late for some:  The Boycott Sony blog

When you think about it, the Sony rootkit story is like the tech blogger version RatherGate.

And speaking of all that stuff, Piece of tape defeats any CD DRM — "Applying a piece of opaque tape to the outer edge of the disk renders the data track of the CD unreadable."  This is going to take some experimentation I think.

A difficult puzzle game with just enough cheat hints to keep you playing too long.

Speaking of games, How fast can you type the alphabet?  I love games that let you log your score even if your rank is 14150.  And how the heck does anyone type the alphabet in 1.5 seconds?

The 7 deadly sins of blogging — These don't have anything to do with blogging for fun, they're about blogging for business.  Number 3 is the only one I disagree with strongly.  There are plenty of extremely successful blogs with eclectic subject matter.

Latin American soap operas are taking the world by storm.  This article is probably more than you wanted to know, but interesting nonetheless.

A son sees his mother passed out after chatting on a Web cam and ends up saving her life from across the world.  Line of note (to me): "I'm going to have it on all the time now."  Video phones, here we come.

Penn Jillette:  " There is No God"

The Glass Trick — I love close-up magic.  We saw this guy once before in a clip in which he makes a hamburger come out of a picture of a hamburger.  In this one, the first trick is a little weak, but the second two are pretty staggering.  Also interesting how he mixes English and Japanese.

Speaking of English and Japanese, Speak Real Japanese — From what I can tell, this is one guy trying to help people become familiar with Japanese, not exactly lessons in the traditional sense.  I didn't run into any spam, so I think he's sincere.  (er... or she.)

Beauty is only Geek Deep — Burningbird engages an ongoing debate about the merits (or lack thereof) of the Geek Gorgeous calendar featuring sexualized "women in technology."

Waterless washing machine — "[I]t utilises negative ions, compressed air and deodorants to clean clothes."

Video of the Day:  Close Encounters of the Christmas lights kind.  I'm sure the neighbors love that.  UPDATE:  This Putfile version might be faster loading.

Riffs: "your social recommender" — This is still a new site, but it seems more about venting than getting any recommendations.  That said, my experience with online communities is that people really like to vent, so this could do well.

Lexus has a secret cheat code — A combination of pedal pushes unlocks the computer's vehicle stability controls so you're not prevented from doing something stupid/fun.  People who play video games have learned to expect these.

The man who sold the war is John Rendon.  Who???  I'm getting a little sick of reports of geniuses and gurus who masterfully manipulate the media.  And while I'm not naive enough to think that it's politicians who are actually running things instead of these behind-the-scenes characters, that's pretty annoying too.  (This is my Commuter Click.  Long, but good intrigue.)

Speaking of the war, Mudville Gazette hosts and lengthy timeline that puts the current situation in Iraq into a perspective dating back to 1990 (and earlier).  Regardless of your feelings about the current conflict (or even this timeline), the timeline is a good reminder of the larger context in which the present situation exists.

" Global disaster will follow if the ice cap on Greenland melts."  These disaster articles are starting to blur together, but this one is pretty dramatic.  However, "Until now, scientists believed the ice cap would take 1,000 years to melt entirely, but Ian Howat, who is working with Professor Tulaczyk, says the new developments could "easily" cut this time "in half"."  So...  500 years?

How to exercise your eyes.  (Note:  Not a professional medical site.)


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