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Updated: 11/1/2002; 5:16:45 AM.
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 Tuesday, October 01, 2002

Rant of the Day Goes to: Young Pup

From Kjartan:

Forget everything you know about creating pop-up windows. Most importantly, forget you ever knew that the javascript pseudo-protocol ever existed. Do you hear me??

Never, ever, ever use the javascript: pseudo-protocol for anything, ever ever ever ever again. Please. Pretty please. The next time I click on a hyperlink, only to have it cause an error in my browser, I am going to hunt down the author and pound them into holy oblivion. I'm not joking I will kill someone. Maybe two... Perhaps an entire company-full. [youngpup.net]

I couldn't have said it better myself.  Given my tendencies for running lots and lots of windows, I'm with YoungPup on this one.  Pure JavaScript urls prevent users of your web applications from opening urls in different windows with the Right Mouse Button.  I'll have to remember to follow his guidelines when appropriate. 


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Guy Haas Has a Blog

Very cool -- the person who has single handedly given me more corrections on the spelling and grammar on my blog now has a blog of his own where I can correct his writing.  Guy's blog is about his work in the Society for Technical Communcations (STC).  And, for humor, say "Guy Haas Has" 10 times fast.  Best of all he's even using Radio so this is another person that I brought into the Radio fold.


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Linux Versus BSD for Web Applications

Jeremy has a great analysis of Linux and FreeBSD based on his experiences at Yahoo (he's a lead developer for Yahoo Finance, author of a forthcoming book on MySQL and the deployer of what I suspect is the largest to date MySQL 4 application, Yahoo Finance).  I think I actually blogged this when it first came out but it's good enough to be blogged again.

PS -- Thanks to Keith Devens for this link; it took a bit to find where I found it.


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Seven Tricks Web Users Do Not Know

From the excellent TopStyle vendor blog I found this: Seven Tricks That Web Users Don't Know.  Nothing here really surprised me but it does a great job of pointing out the difference between computer industry "experts" and Joe User who just wants to get the job done.  There is an excellent commentary on why you shouldn't use 2nd browser windows much if at all and she does a better job than others in describing the problems users have with it.  The one thing that I would be curious to know is if Mac users know more than PC users.  I have no evidence that this is true but I'd suspect so.


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No Wonder Software is Always Late: Blame CmdrTaco

Slashdot turns 5 years old today and "CmdrTaco" is the (or one of the, I forget) founders.  I still remember the 1st time I saw Slashdot back in 97 a few months after it launched when I was working in the basement offices of Dataware Technologies.  Too funny on how some memories stay with you?  Can you remember when you 1st saw a particular website ?  And I would love to know (or be terrified to know) just how many hours have been blown reading and posting to Slashdot.  No wonder software is always late -- it's his fault.

Happy Birthday Slashdot !

Slashdot Discussion About This (what else?)

CmdrTaco's Journal / Blog 


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Good CSS Article on Lists

From the normally good folks over at A List Apart comes "CSS Design: Taming Lists".  While I was groveling through it I ran across their excellent article from 2001 on A Web Designer's Journey.  I say "Normally Good" since I'm still upset with Zeldman's 99 % of Sites are Obsolete article but I haven't blogged my objections yet (it's coming, it's coming).


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Amazon: The Credit Card ?

Apparently Amazon is now in the credit card business and you can apply for a card.  It's a FirstUSA card so there isn't any magic here except for the triple points on Amazon purchase.


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Essential Blogging Moves Up 12,000 !

According to Amazon, Essential Blogging now has a ranking of 8,474.  That's down from approximately 20,000 in the past two weeks.  Go Amazon!  Perhaps my book royalties will cover a bag of cat food and kitty litter some day (writing technical books is not the road to riches and fame that one might suppose).

Bias disclaimer: I'm one of the authors so I clearly have a very vested and biased interest.


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Is It Time to Think More About Unions?

Even though I'm an absolutely unabashed capitalist and, typically, a backer of business, my recent writings on corporate responsibility, greed and ethics might make you think maybe we need more unions.  After all -- those greedy corporations are just stealing from the workers, aren't they?  Ah.  No.  The West Coast U.S. ports from San Diego to Seattle are shut down right now over the issue of management wanting "to put in technology to automatically clear trucks in and out of terminals and track cargo within the terminals.  Currently, much of that work is done manually by ILWU marine clerks." (Wall Street Journal, 10/1/2002)

I can understand a union wanting to protect its workers.  But get a load of what these guys are paid:

"Annual salaries for ILWU members, who load an unload cargo, average abou $106,000 for those working 40 or more hours a week.  Marine clerks, who type in data and keep track of cargo, earn about $128,000 a year on average if they work a similar number of hours.  Foremen, working full time, have an annual salary of $166,000". 

Wall Street Journal 10/1/2002

Unbelievable.  I'm not slighting the skills of these people and I don't want to state that their job isn't important.  Even so, this just seems astonishing to me -- $128,000 for a clerk!  I'm college educated, fairly intelligent (or so at least people seem to think; I guess I'm continuing to fool them), very skilled and a world class expert at what I do well.  Even so these are numbers that I've rarely made in my career for just 40 hours a week of work.  Name me one person in high tech who makes more than $100,000 and works only 40 hours per week. 

And lest you say "Why do you care?  The company just makes less profits with this kind of union based salary scale."  Oh no, no, no.  These costs are directly passed on to consumers of all types of goods -- cars, electronics, etc.  Anything that passes through one of these ports is going to be more expensive because of this (and since these ports are where most electronics from Japan enter the country".

Fundamentally it seems that everyone has forgotten the need to be fair and reasonable to their constituencies: Management to Customers, Managment to Workers and Management / Works to Customers.  I hate to get on a podium and say "Why can't we all just get along?" but that really seems like what's needed.


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Resume Writing Tips for Geeks and Non-Geeks

This is a good article on writing resumes that make it through the screening process.  Even though the focus of this article is for geeks, I actually think it's much more broadly applicable.  I actually thought the last tip was the best "Give it a Good Filename" i.e. NOT resume.doc.  Given that files do need to be extracted from emails from time to time, naming it something like "resume.doc" means that the HR person has to rename it to something real.  Now do you really think that they'll bother or just move on ot the next one?  Trust me -- they'll go onto the next one if they have to do anything extra.  "resume_tjones.doc" is just as easy for you to send to the recruiter and a lot better for you.


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Can You Please Blog This?  CD Price Fixing

Here's a great story on CD Price Fixing from the USA Today:

NEW YORK The five largest music companies and three of the USA's largest music retailers agreed Monday to pay $67.4 million and distribute $75.7 million in CDs to public and non-profit groups to settle a lawsuit led by New York and Florida over alleged price-fixing in the late 1990s.

...

Attorneys general in the two states, who were joined in the lawsuit by 39 other states, said that the industry kept consumer CD prices artificially high between 1995 and 2000 with a practice known as "minimum-advertised pricing" (MAP).

The settlement will go to all 50 states, based on population. Consumers may be able to seek compensation.

Under MAP, the record companies subsidized ads by retailers in return for agreement by the stores to sell CDs at or above a certain price.

The companies have not practiced the pricing agreement since 2000. At that time, they agreed in settling a complaint by the Federal Trade Commission that they would refrain from MAP pricing for seven years.

Former FTC chairman Robert Pitofsky said at the time that consumers had been overcharged by $480 million since 1997 and that CD prices would soon drop by as much as $5 a CD as a result.

So let me get this right.  Consumers have been overcharged by $480 million and the companies are paying less than $150 million in fines?  Hello ???  That means that for breaking the law the companies were compensated to the tune of $300 million.  Is it any wonder why companies break the law?  Whatever happened to punitive damages? 

This is one of those times where you just have to be unbelievably angry with State Attorney Generals like Elliot Spitzer (NY) and Richard Blumenthal (Connectictut, not sure if he's part of this but he was in the Microsoft case).  The attention that these guys get from a settlement is huge, they look like stars and it furthers their political careers.  What it doesn't do though is cause any degree of lasting change.  I'd be virtually certain that the reason that this didn't include huge punitive damanges is that that would have dragged the case out for years and years due to appeals (big damages is a huge reason to appeal) and the attorney generals involved would have left office by then.  Sigh.

Anyway, the point in posting this is to spread the facts on the blatant abuses of power by the record companies.  The more facts (as opposed to supposition) people know about this the better it is for digital music.


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Understanding Why the North Shore of Boston is Isolated and Inaccessible

The North Shore of Boston is a wonderful place to live.  That is if you don't have to go anywhere.  If you have to travel then it absolutely sucks green slimy toads.  There is absolutely no significant road from where I l live (Nahant) out to an Interstate.  I can take 129 which is a little backroad for about 30 minutes to get to Route 1.  I never understood this under now.  On a Slashdot discussion of the Big Dig's officials blaming the software for why it's running behind, I found this:

Boston's highway system (with the exception of the Pike, which has its own connected but separate history) was designed around I-95 and the Inner Belt, but two major segments of I-95 (Canton to the South End and Revere to Peabody) were never built (the segment that was built is now I-93 downtown and Route 1 north of Boston), and the entire system is a half-baked mess because the core of the system was never finished. Depressing the Central Artery is supposed to alleviate at least some of the resulting mess by increasing the downtown capacity to handle the traffic that the Inner Belt was supposed to deal with.

... Boston Roads Site

Astonishing.  Just astonishing.  This would have completely changed the North Shore, dramatically improved housing values and provided tens of thousands of people with a significantly better quality of life.


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If You Click On No Other Link Today...

This is what we've all been waiting for.  And you have to click on it.

The December Issue

Thanks to the incredibly cool Moxie for this one.


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