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Blah for 2003.12


Goodbye 2003. Hello 2004. May you be more prosperous and enjoyable than the year before.


Just as the holiday season is finishing up, try this cool flash snowflake maker.


Merry Christmas! Blah Humbug! Happy Holidays! Joyous Festivus! And party, party, party!


Tonight: gift wrapping. Tomorrow night: more gift wrapping. In just a few more days: gift unwrapping. Yeah!


100 Years Of Turbulence” not only provides some good information about the Wright brothers (like lots of stuff I never learned in school), but it also makes some very good comments about some of the problems of patent systems:

The Wright brothers' first priority was to patent their airplane, and they duly received their patent in 1904. It didn't just cover their specific design, but the whole concept of three-axis control - being able to independently steer the aircraft in pitch, roll, and yaw - that was critical to powered flight. This patent became a mighty weapon that the Wright brothers used for the next thirteen years to sue the bejesus out of anyone else who tried to fly an airplane.

It may not have been a problem if the Wrights themselves had kept working on aircraft design, or if the original flyer had been good enough to license. But neither was the case - the Wrights became so consumed with their lawsuits that they had no time or energy left for further work, essentially becoming the SCO of the early aviation age. And their airplane design, while innovative, was mostly innovative in the wrong ways.

And for more on the pains of patents, check out this example of 20 simple Web items with patent claims.


My last class of the semester is tonight. Once done I’ll finally have time to go Christmas shopping, wrap presents, put up Christmas decorations, and have about two weeks of free time (at night and weekends, I still work though, even on Christmas Eve). But in the meantime, here are some links to check out:


I like AOL. They send me free DVD cases in the mail.


Tonight I just picked up Firefly on DVD! Wo-hoo! (And FOX, damn you. Damn you to hell for cancelling this great show.)


Subject: Realtime: December 2003

For December 18th’s entry about Steven Spielberg’s birthday, you say “And hurry up with Indiana Jones 4!” Are you kidding me? Enough with the endless sequels. Enough with digging up corpses. Indiana Jones 3 ended with them riding off into the sunset, the western equivalent of “and they lived happily ever after”, aka “The End”. I love the Indy series also, but can’t we just let movies end on a high note and stop trying to cash in on them until they’re bled dry?


Isn’t it great when modern technology and communications work? Motorist Registers During Traffic Stop.


Two (of many) great quotes from Iraqis, via “Letter From Baghdad: The War After the War” in The New Yorker:

People are hungry, starving. They don’t believe they got rid of Saddam. If they got rid of Saddam, give me something to eat. That’s why people hate Americans. We don’t hate them because they are Americans. It is because they are the superpower, but where is the super power?


And here comes a government that can throw out our much-vaunted Army in three weeks, so why can’t they fix the electricity in three weeks?

Don’t let the length of the article deter you, the whole thing is definately worth reading. (Try the printer-friendly version to make reading easier.)


Damn... it’s December already? Well, only two more weeks of class left.

Well, while I’m doing this today, here are some quick (and some old) things I found interesting: