November 30, 2004!

Title: Bruce Napoleon, Vampire Veterinarian
Total word count: 50242,
Completed: November 30th, 2004 11:12 pm (just 48 minutes shy of deadline!)

I'll post the novel in full on blogspot tomorrow sometime (only about half is up). Holy crap, what a ride! Some data to absorb:

Words: 50,242
Bytes: 276,871
Lines: 3678
Exclamation points: 33!

Thanks to my wonderful wife Christine, super-kid Frannie, My sister Denise, my cube neighbors and fellow nanowrimos Graham and Andrea (all of whom who had to listen to me ramble on about this and that) and the nanowrimo people! And Max the cat, my parents for being so great what with the giving birth to me thing, google for feeding me and keeping me warm as I wrote late into the night. And everyone who humored me though this, the coolest novel ever written about a rural vampire veterinarian.

Chris DiBona
Posted From: Mountain View, Ca

November 29, 2004

Keyhole Location of the Day...

In what might be a recurring feature here on Ego Food, I'd like to present my Keyhole "spot o' the day". If you have keyhole, just click on the image to load the KML file. If you don't, go get it!

These planes were chopped up in such a way as to be able to be seen from space, as per treaty requirements. These planes appear (?) to have been B-52s (which would be consistent with treaty demolition requirement)

Chris DiBona
Posted From: Placerville, Ca

November 28, 2004

Rating Zagat.... Rating Bloggers...

In case you haven't read it, Mimi Sheraton's article, Rating Zagat from Food and Wine magazine goes into the real problems articulated in posts like Jeremy Zawodny's "Are bloggers really that dumb?"

In short, she asserts that the opinion of one well informed expert cannot be synthesized by a thousand well meaning people ignorant of how to eat and produce food for a restaurant setting. I'll leave the application of this piece to the world of blogs and such as an exercise for the reader.


Chris DiBona
Posted Via: Blogger Interface
Posted From: Placerville, Ca

November 27, 2004

Soviet Space Battle Station Polus

This thing is so damn cool: Soviet Space Battle Station Skif and its prototype Polus.

But I'm very glad it blew up taking off.

Chris DiBona
Posted From: Placerville, Ca
Posted Via: The Blogger Interface

November 26, 2004

More on Command Line Urls..

Mike has written an addenda to my previous post on his site: Command-line URL

This stuff is fun! Mike's notes show you what you need to do in the apache config file to make your urls even more normalized. Check it out.

An interesting side conversation is what if you want your pages to appear normal, but actually make them sort of sneaky? For instance, suppose you want to "tag" your users so you can tell when they refer people to your website, you can put an identifying collection into the url, based on their user id. This would fall into the category of likely evil, but informative. Ah, but I'm rambling now :-)

Chris DiBona
Posting From: Placerville, Ca
Posting Via: Blogger Interface

Why TV-B-Gone is a Good Thing.

I've been meaning to write about TV-B-gone for a little while and explain why I think this is a good thing. The concept of being able to shut off TVs isn't in an of itself good or bad, much like television itself isn't good or bad. A friend of mine gets apoplectic at the idea of people having the power to shut off any TV at any time in any environment stating, correctly, "If you don't like it, don't go to that restaurant, man.".

I agree with him on this, but that exact reasoning is why I think anyone should be able to shut off a TV in an Airport or other public place where you literally cannot get away from the damn things. The TV as intrusive device in Airports is a -bad- thing. I like being able to read, listen to music or try to pay attention to when the airline is telling me my flight will be late and overbooked, TV gets in the way of all that, and TV-B-Gone is a great solution to that problem.

The idea that we should not be able to be tv-free in these environments is very much like the smoking debate that some states are currently going though and that California (America's non-smoking section) went through years before. By passing laws that prohibit smoking in bars, restaurants and public spaces like courtrooms, airports and the like, we made life longer and better for the vast majority of us that don't smoke.

Likewise, I don't choose to watch to pabulum they like to pump out via CNN-Airport, or CNN-hertz-courtesy-shuttle or whatever, but since they have a TV vomiting this crap out every 20 feet, I don't have any control over this particular annoyance.

Please note that I'm not complaining (whining, moaning, etc) about the Wells Fargo near my house that plays Fox News on the TV, or the many many restaurants that put TV's in prominent placement around their bars and other places. Why? Because I can and have chosen to not go to them and wouldn't dream of shutting off those TVs (well, mostly not). I'm simply saying that I should not be subjected to having to watch TV when I literally cannot escape it.

And, no, it is not legitimate to require people to have to watch TV to take a plane trip. I'm picturing the chaos that might erupt if people stop watching TV 24 hours a day....the fantastic chaos, people might read, or play wih their kids, or, gosh, talk to one another.

Chris DiBona
Posting From: Placerville, Ca.
Posting Via: Blogger Interface

November 21, 2004

Now you too can kill JFK! (Just what you always wanted?)

Yes, I understand that there are people who are still fascinated by the JFK assassination, but I have to admit, I find the JFK Reloaded simulation in poor taste.

In case you haven't visited the page yet, it is a game of sorts to see if you can replicate the events perpetrated by Lee Harvey Oswald to the same effect as occurred. The shooter who comes closest wins a prize valued , according the page, of 100,000 us dollars. I don't even know if this is for real, mind you, it seems like it would make a great prank to put this site up, you know the media is gonna go nuts.

This isn't unprecedented in video games, Grand Theft Auto 2 had a presidential assassination subplot in it back in the day that I reviewed for Boot magazine and I was I think as shocked at that. The House of Yes had the JFK assassination as a centerpiece as well. I suppose all tragedy becomes comedy and at some point after that a video game.

I'm willing to bet you that this game makes a ton of money. (via jwz)

Chris DiBona
Posted From: Placerville, Ca
Posted Via: Blogger Interface

November 20, 2004

Party Fresh Chris

I'm sitting in a lounge at SeaTac and marveling, privately, at the conversation going on in the chairs opposite me. It is a young woman and what I'm assuming is her mother. They're discussing the OC. Apparently, "Teen People" magazine has a "what is your oc quotient" quiz within its august pages. Perhaps I'm being cynical, but as of late, I've decided that everything you do either makes you smarter or dumber, or, more rarely, neither.

Taking an OC quiz I think falls into the stupid category, unless of course you are testing for knowledge about the OC.

This is not to push any disapproval on the OC, I'm sure it's a fine show, but I can't be the only person who sees reading people magazines OC quiz as being positive for that thing crammed in that skull of mine. But wait, maybe, just maybe, I'm looking at this from the wrong direction. Maybe she doesn't read much and I should see this as being IQ positive, as words are flowing off the page and into the brain, burning pathways that can later be utilized in more lofty pursuits.

Then again, I've watched my share of bad movies, read my share of bad books and listened to my share of awful music. The question is, when I die, some day hopefully far in the future, can I say that I have a net positive? Ask me later.

The Google party was a lot of fun. A bunch of folks from Amazon, UW and Microsoft showed up to nosh and meet us. I got to meet some really interesting north-westerners, including Charles Simonyi, whose books were old standbys during my windows development days. Before my open source life, I coded my share of windows apps. I remember owning Microsoft C 6.0 & the windows SDK. Those were interesting days, to be sure. I remember after I left Tandem and went to work as a consultant, I gave away my Microsoft C, C++ and Windows books, thinking I didn't need to lug them around anymore. I didn't, but not because of my lack of a need for reference materials, but because the web had taken powerful hold over developer communications.

The party was a lot of fun, though.

Chris DiBona
Posting From: Seattle (sort of, wrote this up in the airport, anyway)
Posting Via: Blogging Interface.

November 16, 2004

Flickr like url styling.

There has been some talk lately about Flickr's url structure. Specifically, presenting a url like so:

Instead of


Instead of:

You get the point. So many developers don't do this, but the nice thing is that, intrepid developers, you can do this in practically any language very easily. If you haven't tried it, you can pull it right out of script name.

Apache does some magic with this. For instance. If you go to this url :

Then you'll see a little php script that prints out the script name.

But look what happens when you go here:

Here is the super simple code for that page:

$urisplit = split("/",$_SERVER['REQUEST_URI']);
$name= $urisplit[count($urisplit)-1];
print "Hi There $name !<p>";
print "Request URI = {$_SERVER['REQUEST_URI']}";

An exercise for you, my reader. Have it do multiple tagging, for instance, give a result like "Hi There Chris and Bob" or something.

Chris DiBona
Posting From: Mountain View, Ca
Posting Via: Blogger Interface

November 15, 2004

I link to InsideGoogle again (and some mini-updates)

We're doing the right thing, without prompting. I really like where I work: InsideGoogle: Google Detects Phony Ad Clicks... And Refunds The Cash

In blog news, my colleauge Biz Stone has found the missing link, the homo hablis, of blogging. , Captain Kirk. Think about it:

Captains Log <-blog title
Stardate blah-de-blah <-date for later retrival and syndication.

You know that starfleet was aggregating.

Other than that, I've got my NaNo groove back, hit 13k words. I still have to write a -lot- per day to make the month goal of 50k, but I might just make it. Course, I wonder what I'm doing it for, but , heck, I'm having fun.

Chris DiBona
Posted From: Mountain View, Ca
Posted Via: Blogger Interface

November 11, 2004

Yay Google! (and a Nano/Wreck update)

From InsideGoogle, something that makes me (more) proud to work at Google:

Consumer Report On Paid Search Disclosure

I have to say, even long before I worked here, I always admired how google kept the advertising clearly separate from the results. It showed me they (We) cared about the information retaining its integrity in and of itself. Whenever I hear the word "paid placement" or "paid search" erroneously applied to us, it makes me wonder, I don't consider what we do paid placement, as you can tell the difference between the results and the ads.

That's not to say I don't pay attention to the ads. I don't want to turn this into a "google is great" post, I mean, it is, but you don't need me to tell you that, but even the ads at Google are smart. Yay google :-)

Wreck Fallout

It's been about 4 days since the wreck and I'm getting less sore every day, I even reduced my intake of advil to two pills every 6 hours instead of 3. I managed to scrape by this one without major damage, so that's good :-) I have a few tender spots on my head and on my left leg, but basically I managed to roll my car without any significant damage, so I'm pretty happy about that.

The major fallout has been that I'm falling dramatically behind on my NaNoWriMo but I hope to catch up by this time next week? I only have to write about 3k words a night for the next 7 nights to be back on track. My colleague and co-nanoer Graham says that rolling your car is a decent excuse for extending the deadline, but my other co-worker/co-nanoer Andrea says I should just incorporate the wreck into the story and bully through. I'm not sure that I should use the car wreck story in Bruce Napoleon, but it sure is tempting, and it might give me a way of getting Bruce introduced to more people. Vampires are a bit insular when it comes to meeting non-vampires, or, as I like to call them, potential dinners.

Chris DiBona
Posted From: Mountain View, Ca
Posted Via: Blogger Interface

November 9, 2004

The Wreck.

Howdy, a bunch of people have asked what happened yesterday morning. First, go check out the flickr photostream tagged, appropriately, with crash roll and accord so you can see what happened visually.

The short story is that I was driving to Sacramento airport on Route 50 from my home in placerville. About 5 minutes on the way, near the placerville forni road exit, I was in the left lane really just getting up to speed. I was probably going 65. It was foggy out. I had just taken a swig of ice tea and was going to turn on the radio. I looked .... hey what's that in the road?... A deer. I didn't swerve to miss it, but I did try a kind of smooth lane change to miss it.

The deer was probably all of 100 feet away when I noticed it, and I didn't miss it. I hit it (thump, poor thing) and lost control. As I saw the embankment coming I mostly was happy my daughter and wife were not in the car and that I had really good life insurance. Then , seriously, I thought...hmm...I should do something about this ice tea in my mouth. I spit it out to the side as I started my roll. the apples I was taking to my sisters flew out the back window at some point, my wife points out this was a good thing, as being pelted by apples in a rolling car is funny, but possibly painful, thing to imagine. It would have been the ultimate n-body physics problem. The inside of my car would have been like a screensaver coated in applesauce.

This particular photo, on flickr (also above) is tagged up so you can see where I think the roll started, helped along by the embankment and fence. I think I hit the frontage road (fair lane drive) with the left side of the car, and so I landed shortly thereafter on my now wrecked wheelbase. I skidded/scratched/gouged to a stop on the shoulder on the frontage road, about 10 feet shy of a gully. A little more momentum and the ride would have gotten much worse. This squished the car and broke all the windows at what seemed like the exact same time.

As it was, I was conscious the whole ride, the roll and everything, it was -wild- and slightly crazy. I wasn't hurt, my neck was a little sore. I shut off the still running engine, undid my seatbelt and grabbed my flashlight as I exited the car.

My glasses were gone, never to be recovered. My phone was gone...the sherrif found it , intact about 15 feet from the car, slightly out of its case but in great shape. My laptop and other luggage were fine in the trunk (I'm typing this on my laptop and it is no worse for wear.) My google fleece which I got shortly after I was hired was clearly imbued with magical shield power, so I recommend buying one.

The fireman said I ought to take an ambulance into the hospital for xrays, so they strapped me to a board and neck head immobilization brace and took me into Marshall hospital. There, I met up with my wife and daughter and eventually I went home with a clean bill of health and a prescription for a muscle relaxant (which I haven't taken yet, just taken a bunch of advil every 6 hours).

I got progressively more sore over the course of the day, but I think the pain has stabilized. The only bruise I have is a strange, arrow shaped thing running around my arm which literally points at some parallel groove bruises, both of which I think came from the belt. Enjoy the extra pictures!

I was worried about my reflexes. Had I gotten slow? On the drive to my sisters tonight, I had definitive proof that I hadn't. I had to brake rather sudddenly when getting onto 680 from 205 when the people in front of me (who were all tailgating each other, all suddly breaked in a great cloud of rubber and dirt. All seemed okay, but it was kind of sudden. Since I don't tailgate, I had ample room, even in the ridiculously stupid Astek that I rented (I asked for a teeny economy car, they give me the ugliest car detroit ever produced.)

Oh, and I think the deer wife said the fireman told her they had to move the poor thing's remains off the highway.

Chris DiBona
Posted From: Mountain View
Posted Via: Blogger Interface.

November 8, 2004

Wow, that really hurt.

I'm okay. The deer and my car? Not so much.

Chris DiBona
Posted From: Placerville
Posted Via: Blogger Interface
Feeling: Mighty sore.

November 5, 2004

Idiots in the Air Force dedicate $7.5M to study psychic teleportation.

In this story: Yahoo! News - Air Force report calls for $7.5M to study psychic teleportation we see that both Air Force hiring standards and American educational standards have gone way, way, down. What a vast collection of idiots. What do you expect from people who are strafing elementary schools. Their defense, "What! It was the weekend!"

Maybe they should try teleporting the bullets into the school next time.

Chris DiBona
Posted From: Mountain View, Ca
Posted Via: Blogger "Blog This" Interface.

November 4, 2004

Third NaNo post up.

I'm sleepy, go read the latest entry in my NaNo book, "Bruce Napoleon". Enjoy!

Chris DiBona
Posted From: San Jose
Posted Via: Blogger Interface

November 3, 2004

Second Nano Post, and a picture.

Due to NaNoWriMo, I'm writing more (go read about Bruce) , but not here, so I'm going to post pictures, which I hear is like posting one thousand words.

Chris DiBona
Posted From: Mountain View, Ca
Posted Via: Blogger Interface

November 2, 2004

Thinking Machine 4: Play the Game

Holy crap, the election is interesting, but this is insanely cool: Thinking Machine 4: Play the Game Gotta love chess.

Chris DiBona
Location: Mountain View, Ca
Posting Via: Blogger Interface