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A whole universe in the box on my desk.


have not been blogging

Of the stuff that I'm doing that is interesting that I could publish about that I write anything down about, none of the stuff I write is of a good format for a blog.

I didn't fully realize how low my commitment to this weblog thing had become until I got hacked, didn't notice, got taken down, and took six months to re-instate.

hey echo from nowhere

(13:22:59) (anonymous friend): hey
(14:09:26) (anonymous friend) logged in.
(15:33:42) natyoung: hey
(15:33:48) (anonymous friend): hey
(15:35:12) natyoung: hey
(15:35:17) natyoung: hey what the hey!
(15:39:08) (anonymous friend): hey hAy hey.
(15:39:16) (anonymous friend): what hey the?
(15:40:06) natyoung: I was heying your hey
(15:40:12) natyoung: if you were heying my hey
(15:40:21) natyoung: then it's just a hey echo from nowhere

youtube oeuvres

- laughing baby
- police car chase
- lightsaber battle
- garbage day
- sarcasm
- how to get kicked out of
- katana versus


There's a video on youtube of a very nifty image resizing algorithm.

It got me thinking about supercomputers. Thirty years ago people were predicting what supercomputers would do when everyone had one, and it wasn't this.

They thought supercomputers would _DO_ all kinds of amazing things.

It turns out that one thing supercomputers are good at is messing with reality. Mediated reality. So the more we run reality through computers the more power they have to change our experience.

I had my first close up glimpse of a segway last weekend. There again, there was this incredible real time responsiveness, but the intention was all coming from the rider. None of the processing was doing decision making, it was all mediation between rider and ground.

In a weird way watching the segway and watching the image resizing work felt similar.

product selectors/search

I've been looking at product comparison pages. These have lots of data, which I've been using in mockups:



These are searches:

hard drives


XHTML Power Point

I had played with s5 a while ago but found the browser support lacking. slidey is simple and solid.

You lay out a presentation as a set of slides in an HTML document. Follow the simple markup conventions and include the javascript and css files and your page will be built into a very basic portable PPT like presentation.

UPDATE! S5 is reloaded!

deals has one (often silly) item each day, sometimes at a very good price. The "Things man was not meant to buy" kind of sums up the main appeal of the site, which is in the descriptions of the items.

The slick deals site has links to lots of deals... again kind of on the "yard sale of the internet" theme.

Circuit city sells a bunch of open box/returns/closeouts on ebay: search for the stores trading_circuit and trading_circuit_liquidation

I like totally love it

steep and cheap

best firefox plugins

Web Developer
lots of great tools for web developers

more granular debugging, better console, and more tools for JS coders

User Agent Switcher
lets you send a different useragent string

Tab Mix Plus
adds a bunch of great functionality to firefox tabs (making them almost as good as opera tabs)

Live Http Headers
report of http requests generated for a given page

IE Tab
embeds the IE control in a firefox tab. good for pixel comparisons

grabs pages and all their assets, rewriting links to work from a local file

IE 7 uptake on this site

The numbers below are calculated over the past 10,000 hits (about 5 days).

dateIE7 share

Kevin Kelly's cool tools

I've been browsing the cool tools website and have grabbed a bunch of noteworthy links and book reccomendations.〈=en

I'll add the books after I've had a chance to check them out more thoroughly.

standard deviation

While reading about how the time it takes different programmers to accomplish the same task has a very high standard deviation.

I got curious about the details of standard deviation, having forgotten everything I learned in second year physics.

Talking to a coworker confirmed my intuitive idea of standard deviation: that it's a measure of how closely the individual measurements are grouped around their average.

This technical definition of standard deviation would have required me to learn several other terms that weren't immediately familiar.

Google let me look at what a variety of people thought about standard deviation

Wikipedia's entry for standard deviation started with a good summary continued with the math, and filled in with some applications, including the fact that in many applications standard deviation is a measure of how valuable the average is in making predictions. It also gave examples and related links. Go wikipeida.!!

simultaneous editing with Moon Edit

When you have more than one person wanting to edit the same file at the same time, there haven't been a lot of options and they've all been clunky.

Now there's a really good solution and it's called moon edit.

You can see all the cursors of all the people editing at any given time, watch their typing appear, and hear their keystrokes (if you choose).

It lets you group thoughts better than IM, it's quicker than twiki, and it's a lot more fun that screensharing with netmeeting or equivalents. For working together on a document it can't be beat.

It has a very neat slider that lets you replay the history of the document. It has a bunch of emacs like stuff with creating scripts and evaluating expressions inline.

It's a wicked tool with a retro unix-y gui. Check it out!

my first network appliance

I have my first remotely administered network appliance set up now.

It's a picture frame I bought for my grandmother for Christmas from ceiva.

I went to the website in advance, armed with the serial number of the device. I was able to set it up and configure it so that when she plugged it into her phone line, it was able to dail an 800# and configure itself with settings, including local phone numbers for her area.

I can go online and see what pictures are in the machine now, pictures that are queued to go in the next time it dails (in the middle of each night) and so forth.

It's pretty fun. I have to find out how she likes it.

lack of specificity leads to speculation

Tim Bray posted this fairly strong yet very indirect attack on a very specific yet entirely un-named individual.

The xml-dev mailing list had considerable commentary and speculation, with various insiders proposing to have ideas about who was being attacked.

The only person we know for sure it isn't aimed at is a man who assumed it was aimed at himself. Protesting his innocence led Tim to clarify that it wasn't him at all.

Perhaps indirectness has gone too far when it leads to statements like "Now that you say it wasn't who I though it was I remember my own reservations about believing him when he implicated himself. I'm also now wondering if it was who I originally though it was or someone else who I more recently thought it might be."


I've been feeling solipsistic today, and (largely due to insecurity over weather whether I was spelling "solipsistic" right) stumbled upon

The prosaic poetry. The archaic photography. The dotty PDFs. It is to idle obsessively.

complexity vs simplicity

Complexity is a place one passes through while searching
a very crowded world of similar but different things.
It becomes simple when one can safely ignore the
differences and pick one. Complexity is a property
of the space of choices. Simplicity is a property of
the act of choosing.

-- Len Bullard on the xml-dev mailing list

how to ask a good question

ESR's essay: how to write questions the smart way is pretty awesome. I kind of hate the tone, which would make me retitle the essay to "how to ask a cool hacker elite a question when you are probably a worthless fool".

But as usual with Raymond, if you can get past the tone the content is excellent. He describes very methodically how to pick the right time and place to ask, and how to determine and include the right level of detail.

t-shirt collaboration

threadless site. Submit your design, have it rated by the community. Some of the highly rated designs are selected to be made into shirts.

Some of them are really neat and others are just so-so.

css zen garden

CssZenGarden is pretty amazing. A bunch of designers have each used the
same HTML document and created css files that give it radically different

Some designs I picked out:

neat rollovers:

neat underlines

weird link tricks

neat page frame

crawling underlines

faded background

neat designs

I've heard the complaint that there are extra hooks in the HTML code that
needn't be there semantically and that are only placed there to facilitate
design. I don't see a problem with that, it's a purist "content v.s.
layout" argument I'm just sick of. It's a great theory, and no design
decisions should be made without attempting to keep structure and
presentation distinct. However, it's one of the least productive, most
annoying issues to take a purist stance over, and yet many people do just

Along similar lines, what is this "graphic artists only" thing? If I can
make a design you like am I a graphic artist? and what about "in the past
neat tricks have been reserved for structured codists"? If you can do
neat tricks with css then you are a structured codist, aren't you?

Here are the complaints I have about many of the designs.

- lots of content included in images (in addition to undermining the point of the exercise, it's the most extreme violations of the seperation of structure and design you can have)(why not just lay out your page as one big image, have a css that pulls it in as a background, and hides all the text on the page, making the links into blocks and repositioning them over the images to create an image map...)
- lots of places where position and size is tweaked to fit the content... so substituting a document with the same semantic markup but different amounts of copy would break the layouts
- visited links often not indicated

anti spam spam

Don't know why this tickled me so much.

"If you received this email your s.p.a.m. filter is not working.

If your one of those people who hates sifting through junk mail in your [this product is for you]"

bookmarklet heaven

Wow, this guy has done some amazing javascript work. Partly amazing from the implementation side, but also just really useful and thought provoking.

web experiments gone horribly awry

bad sign

I think having "uninstall" as your hottest download is a bad sign.


I used to work at a startup called At that time there were a bunch of competing electronic cash and prepaid cash card schemes.

Now you can buy Borders cards in a borders bookstore, just like buying a gift certificate.

I checked back in with the web-base cash equivalent companies, which are still there, but online stores have stopped accepting there cash equivalents as equivalent to cash.

internet cash

Visa has a new cash equivalent card for parents to give to teens. The corporate market could probably find a use for such a thing as well.

vias buxx


I've been having this conversation.

ad blocking hosts file

Most OS's have some variation of the "hosts" file where you can add servers by IP address and indicate what kind of traffic to allow from them. By blocking a bunch of the IPs of ad serving agencies like doubleclick, etc., you can get rid of many of the ad banners you'd otherwise see on web pages.

This guy Mike has compiled a very nice ad blocking host file.

national do not call number

Now all we need is a no spam number!

register your number

yahoo news

computer destruction

perversion tracker

Have you ever read this in a software review?

"Indeed, one glance at the interface is enough to reveal that Apimac Software must have decanted a large portion of their pickled hamster collection into the power-supply fan of their terminally ill G4 tower, thus forcing the development of this scrobiculated application to be completed using a wet cowplop and three yards of burlap painstakingly crafted into a working computer by a colorfully costumed troupe of trained pubic lice."

If not, head on over to perversiontracker right now for a heap of abuse (aimed at third parties (assuming you're not a developer of bad OSX software))!!!


A lot of interface work assumes the traditional three-legged stool of keyboard, mouse and monitor. Here's to more furniture!

And speaking of interfaces based on the mouse...

(thanks Matt)

Opera 7

Opera 7 is here, and it only gets better. A bunch of the things that I've always liked are even better than before.

- Support for DHTML. I haven't thoroughly checked this, but a bunch of pages that didn't work with Opera 6 now do. Support for layers and positioning has been brought up to speed in Opera 7.

- In Opera, you can open a set of windows each in its own tab, then save that set and call it back up later. In Opera 7 this has been made a lot easier, so it's really practical to use.

- History is in a tab of the sidebar (mozilla has this too)

- Another sidebar shows all the links in the current window. Opera had this in a links window before, but the sidebar's a really good place for it.

- skins...

- The new email client, M2. More on this later.

Opera browser: rave review

I've been using Opera for about a year now. I am totally addicted to some features of the web browser.

- Tabbed browsing is excellent. I can have 20 windows open and not clutter up my task bar. I can open links as tabs in the background and cycle through them as I please. When I start the application, it re-loads the set of windows I left off with the last time I was browsing.

- Mouse gestures are addictive. Right button with the following: drag left for back, on a link and wiggle down-up to open in background, drag in a checkmark (down then right) to close window. Lots of others.

- Great keyboard shortcuts

- Fast. Opera fast. Mozilla slow.

- Misc: save window sets, links window shows you all links in page, zoom in or out on page.

supreme court decides against Eldred


Americans are not mere passive consumers, dully absorbing images invented in distant corporate laboratories. We hatch our own ideas and compose our own stories, drawing on pop culture without absorbing it blindly. We should look with disfavor on any law that tells us to shut up and get back on the couch.

barnes and noble website

Just went to the barnes and noble site for the first time in years. I was amazed to see it's a virtual look-alike to

Imitation the sincerest form of flattery? Or just a belly up submission pose?


new perspectives

OK, like oh my god, I like this new way of looking at my web page.

Also, I pity my website, foo'

419 flood

The 419 junk emails seem to be getting increasingly numerous. How many gold mine owning dead zimbabwean millionaire's wives/sons/ministers of commerce can there be buying billions in farm machinery with unclaimed funds in numbered bank accounts?

I've gotten 3 offers just today! It seems like someone would have to fall for one of these offers within minutes of getting and email account just to avoid receiving the next one before they are done enthusiastically sending along their bank account number and plotting what to do with their own 10 million.

This has got to be getting close to saturation.

user agents

I've run into a bewildering array of user agents since I began to look at my server logs.

So I wanted to look up some of them. I found several lists, but to my amazement, I was unable to find the ones that have been coming to my site. Instead, I found another bewildering array quite distinct from most that I have seen on my own site.

Oh so much fun.

Oh I found each of these a long time ago. But they are both so much fun I can't believe it. It's amazing how you can catch such a great characterization in just a few frames.

poke alex in the eye

Make the doctor smoke(might need netscape for this one...)

acronym finder

I've never been able to figure out what IIRC meant. It was always something I just ignored, skimmed over and hoped was not semantically important.

Well, I finally got sick of it and looked it up. There's a database of acronyms that seems pretty complete. It did have IIRC, as well as RTFM, ROTFL and MVC (which to me stands for Model-View-Controller not Motor Vehicle Collision).

acronym finder

online job search

Note: This is an article I wrote in 2000. I haven't been doing a lot of online searches lately so I can't meaningfully update it at this time. Much of it should still be relevant.

using my laptop as a modem

I have this really weird problem with my internet connection where I can connect, ping, and tracert, but I cannot get web pages, ftp, or email. This is a tested setup that all of a sudden started having these problems. Dialing long distance to another pop works fine. Connecting to the same number with my laptop works fine.

So I installed windows internet connection sharing on my laptop and added it as a gateway on my desktop. It works great, and now I can relax while the ISP fixes this (last time it took them two weeks) and not rack up long distance charges.

weblogs suck

I read a comment at k5 that actually began as a rant about the fact that backlinks are only there to bolster a lack of content but went on to profile useless blog types...

From: k5 comment

Some particularly scathing excerpts:

Here's some of the things that suck worst:

Meta-blogs. There's already 101 mechanism for finding new weblogs and watching to see when existing ones are updated.

TV blogs. "I watched (some crap) last night,-snip-

Bathtub diary blogs. "I didn't leave my house yesterday and sat at my computer all day.-snip-

Barfly diary blogs. "Went to the club/watering hole/pub/bar last night, just like I do every night, and a drunk guy said something funny or a drunk girl did something strange."

Relationship drama queens. "My girlfriend left me an email last night saying she wasn't going to call me tonight because she had to get up early-snip-(but OMFG the rest is funny...)

Geeks. "So I downloaded the high-resolution timers patches against 2.4 kernels and the low-latency patches and applied them to the test kernel I was running on my old test machine (

etc. etc.


Whatever alternative or optimal approaches may exist, it's clear that "de- presentation" is as fundamental a force as re-presentation as we approach the brave new world of massive databases and cameras everywhere. Some new and difficult issues need to be addressed. Camera zapping may provide a robust metaphor for these deeper issues and help to stimulate and provoke solutions.

tracking stuff

also those cameras that guy kept releasing... the travelling gnome...


Advanced machine intelligence used to analyze google search results...

Some terms I tried:

public relations
war on terrorism
war on drugs
snuggly bunny
hello kitty (must try)
california uber alles
humanitarian aid
alcoholic father
never ending story

So much more fun than typing "hello kitty is" into google yourself...

Get your war on

From the creator of fighting and filing:

Get Your War On!!!!

The Great Firewall of China

Info about how the Chinese government controls internet usage. The first half of the article is about low tech political solutions such as raiding people's houses in the middle of the night and throwing them in jail.

The second half is interesting though, and talks some about how the (only partially effective) blocking is done. It also mentions the dance between the anonymous web surfing proxies and the governments that want to limit access.

The report home page - pdf - html

Test a URL to see if it is blocked from China.

handy bandwidth chart

Charts that let you compare bits, bytes, megs, T1s, T3s, how many minutes it will take you to fill up a CD using your T1 line, etc. Fun!

frustrated with the flow

Last night I was thinking about something I read online yesterday. Wanting to re-read it, wanting to comment on it. Do I remember where I read it? No. Am I going to search my history in a vain attempt to find it again? Ha!

I have a snapshot of that idea in my head now, like a scene from a car window, one that wasn't quite striking enough to make me slam on the brakes at the time, but which now I can't get out of my head.

mouse gestures in mozilla

I'm really starting to love mozilla. If the annotea client improves a little, I'll switch from Opera.

Circumstantial evidence that openbot is brain dead

I recently noticed that one rather obscure demo on my site has been getting a lot of hits. Cool, someone finally saw how cool my cabinet building demo was! And only 4+ years after I wrote it!

Wait, it's getting more hits than the rest of my site combined! Plus, wait, 2000 and some hits, wasn't that number familiar, oh yeah, some robot hit my site about that many times... wait a minute...

Over a period of time, Openbot hits my site 2206 times. Over that same period, builder.cgi gets 2020 hits. Assuming the robot finds 180 other thing to get interested before or after getting trapped in builder.cgi, it all makes sense. Especially considering no other page in my site gets near enough traffic to account for hits from the Openbot user agent.

Stupid Robot!

visual search engine

I've seen this idea tried before but never quite this well. The flash interface gives you a clickable map of your search results:

'sup with strikethrough styles?

Geez, it seems like all of a sudden everyone's using strike through text in CSS, especially for formatting either the visited or active states of hyperlinks. I didn't know you could do this, but do you want to?

Sluggy Freelance

This long running online comic is suprisingly endearing. I began reading it soon enough after it started that I only wasted half a day reading the archives up to the (at that time) current comic. I've been hooked ever since.



Google! DayPop! This is my blogchalk: English, United States, Arcata, Willow Creek, Nathan!


Get a CD burned and sent to you

You can poke around here for movie trailers, game demos, software trials, and anything else you've been wanting but don't have the time and/or bandwidth to download.

Gather up to 650 megs of files, pay $10, and get a CD in the mail shortly thereafter.

robot wisdom

I just discovered robot wisdom. The homepage has a weblog/list of links.

But also check out the Elvis Index and the antimath page.