NETSURFER DIGEST
More Signal, Less Noise
Volume 08, Issue 01
Friday, January 11, 2002

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BREAKING SURF
Euro Cash Launch
Fuel Cells
Decode a Noisy Message to Aliens
No Hidden Messages in Usenet Images
More Than 600 Losing Entries
And the World Technology Award Winner Is...
The Privatization of Public Research
The Year That Was in Internet Rights and Laws
Keystroke Evidence OK, Judge Declares
Civilian Casualties in Afghanistan
The Foulest Media Performances of 2001
CNET's 2001 Interview Transcripts
Salon Interviews Creator of Creatures
DoubleClick Drops Online Ad Profiling
ICANN Strips Volunteer of .au Domain
Vim, Open Source, and Ugandan Orphans
Netcraft Web Server Survey
More Microsoft Trickery
eBay Auction for America Short of Goal
ONLINE CULTURE
Move over, Melrose Place - It's the Geek Sexchart!
How Google Saved Usenet
Year-End Google Zeitgeist
Retribution Breeds Cooperation
Netsurfer Recommendations
SURFING SITES
When Pong Goes Bad
Acts of Gord, Patron Saint of Retail Clerks
Dan's Look at Nifty Electronic, Computer, and Other Gadgets
SpudChunker Potato Guns
The Food Museum
Car Museums
Pop Culture Nostalgia
Humorous Screenshots, True and Otherwise
Ode to a Turntable
Public Records
ONLINE TRAVEL
The Condensed History of China
A Photographic Homage to New York
FLOTSAM & JETSAM
Andy Kaufman
Harry Chapin and Little Jason's Other Goodies
Download the Net
Dial 404 for Love
Heard the One about the FBI Ordering a Pizza from the Asylum?
UK Gun Market
OTHER LINKS
BOOK REVIEWS
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Contact and Subscription Information
Credits

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BREAKING SURF

Euro Cash Launch

Years in preparation, the launch of the euro on Jan. 1 was a huge deal and a mind-boggling feat of logistics. To satisfy initial demand in the 12 countries that have adopted the new currency, mints printed 14.5 billion euro banknotes and struck 56 billion coins. Distribution of only the Netherlands' cache of new cash, a tiny fraction of the Europe-wide total, required 8,000 truck deliveries. Despite the organizational challenge, the launch appears to have gone smoothly with only minor snafus such as brief shortages of small denomination notes in some countries. By this weekend, just about all cash transactions in the 12 relevant countries will be conducted with the new money. The BBC's coverage of the story is mind-boggling, too, with coverage of items like one smart teenager taking advantage of exchange rate gaffes and the Netherlands' offer of early euro starter packs. The splendid content includes a bank vault full of articles, news, views, funny tales, and trivia - did you know Montenegro's official currency used to be the deutschmark?. Old national moneys can be used until Feb. 28, so if you've got any hidden away in your mattress, better get them out and spend now.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/in_depth/business/2001/euro/default.stm

Fuel Cells

The Bush administration has with its newly announced Freedom Car program decided to push fuel cell technology instead of development of a high-mileage sedan. It's difficult to decide whether this is to reduce American dependence on foreign oil or to suck up to the oil companies by removing incentives to make more fuel-efficient cars. Whatever the reason, it's hard to argue with the decision to pursue a cleaner and potentially cheaper energy source. So, what exactly are fuel cells? Start at the Fuel Cells Information Center (FCIC) for a rudimentary explanation of the technology and a large number of related links. Fuel Cell Today is a portal for people and organizations interested in the technology. Finally, the Department of Defense (DoD) Fuel Cell program site has many government and defense related fuel cell links. The Washington Post has details on the Freedom Car announcement.
FCIC: http://www.fuelcells.org/
Fuel Cell Today: http://www.fuelcelltoday.com/index/
DoD Fuel Cell: http://www.dodfuelcell.com/index.html
Post: http://www.washtech.com/news/regulation/14565-1.html

Decode a Noisy Message to Aliens

Scientists working on the search for extraterrestrial intelligence have released an intentionally degraded copy of a message which they plan to beam to the stars later this year. They released the message to the public to test whether such a message can be easily decoded after traveling through the interstellar medium. The message signal is expected to pick up noise as it travels by laser beam through the interstellar medium. You can take a crack at decoding the message at the project home page. New Scientist has the story.
Project: http://www3.sympatico.ca/stephane_dumas/CETI/
New Scientist: http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99991757

No Hidden Messages in Usenet Images

The researchers who last year scanned two million eBay images for hidden messages using steganography have now completed an analysis of one million Usenet images. They did not find any hidden messages, but it could be argued that they missed the blindingly obvious forest for the trees, which is that porn is really, really popular. This Web page has some good statistics from their effort.
http://www.citi.umich.edu/u/provos/stego/usenet.php

More Than 600 Losing Entries

The winners and runners up in SatireWire's Second Annual Poetry Spam more than make up for the more than 600 losers. The contest had two categories. The Strictly Spam category required poetry entries which were constructed entirely out of phrases from spam e-mail. The winner was the hilarious "Enlarge Your Boss" by Anna Lee Hastings. Poets submitted works about spam to the Freestyle category, which was won by Alex Silbajoris with "I Answered All My Spam".
http://www.satirewire.com/features/poetry_spam/poetryintro.shtml

And the World Technology Award Winner Is...

The envelope has been opened, and the current crop of winners of the World Technology Awards (WTAs) has been named. WTAs are intended to honor people whose work seems to have great long-term impact. This year's winners include Linus Torvalds, who produced the Linux kernel and released it as open-source material, and Robert Metcalfe, who invented Ethernet and founded 3Com. Shawn Fanning, founder of Napster, won in two categories: entertainment and entrepreneurship (apparently, being ground to a pulp by the legal system doesn't disqualify one). Funnily enough, the WTAs are sponsored in part by Enron, which has suffered some legal misfortunes of its own. The list of winners is supplemented with occasional brief biographical sketches.
http://www.wtn.net/ WTN: http://www.wtn.net/

The Privatization of Public Research

Universities have long been hotbeds of coding innovation. UC-Berkeley, for example, developed BSDC and BSD Unix - the latter particularly important in the development of the Internet. Although proprietary software dominates home and office computing, the underpinnings of the networked world are found in freely disseminated open-source code. Today, publicly funded universities are permitted to nurse revenue streams by licensing technology developed through public funds. Universities have established offices of technology licensing that exist to secure revenue from technologies that their employees develop, effectively privatizing the developments. On one hand, there's nothing like cash to encourage research. On the other hand, would the Internet exist today if these policies had been in place a couple of decades ago? Critics have raised the valid question of whether technologies such as TCP/IP would be freely released in today's corporate university environment. Salon has a brief article with more food for thought.
http://www.salon.com/tech/feature/2002/01/04/university_open_source/index.html

The Year That Was in Internet Rights and Laws

In times of war, the law is silent. Not so its critics. Barry Steinhardt, associate director of the ACLU, paints in a Wired piece a rather dismal portrait of the year 2001 with respect to our rights in cyberspace. Steinhardt frets over the USA PATRIOT Act, which provides the US government with unprecedented ability to eavesdrop on the Internet. The government also endorsed the Council of Europe's Cybercrime Convention, which may force it to investigate Internet usage that's legal in the US but illegal in European nations. Steinhardt found one ironic silver lining in 2001: a US District Court ruling that Yahoo could not be held liable for breaking French law concerning the display of Nazi memorabilia because of First Amendment protection. A New York Times article (free registration required) elicits opinions from intellectual property attorneys and others concerning the year in Internet law.
Wired: http://www.wired.com/news/politics/0,1283,49317,00.html
Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2001/12/28/technology/28CYBERLAW.html

Keystroke Evidence OK, Judge Declares

When the FBI snuck into the office of Nicodemo Scarfo and planted a computer keystroke sniffer so they could read his encrypted business messages (see NSD 6.42), they probably knew they'd eventually be challenged in court. With evidence so gathered, the US government charged Scarfo with bookmaking and loan sharking. Scarfo's legal team challenged the constitutionality of the method used to gather the evidence. Now US District Judge Nicholas Politan has quashed that notion, ruling the use of the implanted sniffer software perfectly acceptable and the evidence gained from it admissible. Scarfo's not the only one upset with the decision. The Electronic Privacy Information Center fears the judge's approval will encourage law enforcement officials to snoop excessively, particularly in view of the FBI's desire to use remote infection techniques, obviating the need for breaking and entering to plant the keystroke sniffer (see NSD 7.40). This probably isn't the final word on the issue, however. If Scarfo is convicted, the whole thing is bound to be appealed. Wired has the story and Rutgers University's School of Law provides the complete ruling.
NSD 6.42: http://www.netsurf.com/nsd/v06/nsd.06.42.html#BS3#BS3
NSD 7.40: http://www.netsurf.com/nsd/nsd.07.40.html#BS5#BS5
Wired: http://www.wired.com/news/privacy/0,1848,49455,00.html
Rutgers: http://lawlibrary.rutgers.edu/fed/html/scarfo2.html-1.html

Civilian Casualties in Afghanistan

Professor Marc Herold, at the University of New Hampshire, has written a detailed but inflammatory article about civilian deaths in Afghanistan. The author has supposedly carefully sifted news reports and eyewitness accounts to document the cruel carnage wreaked by US bombs. Still, this thing is more diatribe than scholarly literature and the author tiringly makes incessant use of incendiary language and overstatement. The report is important because of the dearth of official casualty figures but it's a pity the author carpet-bombs our sensibilities with his endless cheap shots. Herold accuses the US of the same kind of savage exultation in deliberate murder as Osama and his boys, and his style, his invocation of the race factor, and other preposterous claims sully the paper. Fact is, wars are messy and you don't win 'em with nice. We also think you can distinguish morally between those who start and those who respond.
http://www.cursor.org/stories/civilian_deaths.htm

The Foulest Media Performances of 2001

The P.U.-Litzer Prizes spotlight the worst excesses of journalism in the past year. While there is much to amuse here, note the Protecting Viewers/Readers from the News Prizes. It seems that there is more than a bit of truth to the allegation that certain large media organizations opted to tone down their coverage of civilian casualties in the Afghan war. Truth is indeed the first casualty of war, in this case at the expense of not offending the public sensitivity with tragedies of people generally as innocent as anyone who perished in the Sept. 11 terrorism. It always pays to be an informed news consumer and ask what is not reported and why. In any event, we can confidently say that the awards will make you happy by making you laugh through your tears of despair.
http://www.fair.org/media-beat/011213.html

CNET's 2001 Interview Transcripts

Every new year, the media throw up salvos of obligatory retrospectives. This year is no different. Weighing in from the tech angle, CNET presents transcripts of interviews with the likes of Bill Gates, Fujio Nishida, Sir Arthur C. Clarke, and more. Arthur C. Clarke? He wrote science fiction, and maybe he invented the concept of geosynchronous satellites 60-odd years ago. Why is he in among this modern list? One word: tantalum. It's an ore used in the manufacture of semiconductors and capacitors - mighty important things these days. Prospectors for this ore are busily wiping out habitat for the lowland gorilla, presenting a paradox for those who use tech to try to save the habitat and about which Clarke, unsurprisingly, has opinions. Other topics include Microsoft, the proposed HP-Compaq merger, terror (of course), and online privacy. There's excellent reading to be had here, but you'll need to set aside a little time for digging.
http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1005-201-8233387-0.html

Salon Interviews Creator of Creatures

Steve Grand is the designer of a line of computer artificial life games called Creatures. He's also just published a book, "Creation: Life and How to Make It", which we recommended in NSD 7.42. Salon has an interview with Grand in which he discusses how Creatures has come about, emotions in machines, what artificial life means, and his current and future projects. Worth reading, though the book is (as usual) better.
Steve Grand: http://www.cyberlife-research.com/people/steve/
Creatures: http://www.creaturelabs.com/
Salon: http://www.salon.com/books/int/2002/01/02/grand/index.html
Book: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0674006542/netsurferdigest

DoubleClick Drops Online Ad Profiling

In a sign of the dismal state of the online advertising market, the largest online ad company, DoubleClick, has decided to end its ad profiling service. The service tapped a database of some 100 million user profiles to target ads. DoubleClick generated the anonymous profiles from users' click patterns and used the data to present users with ads chosen based on their presumed netsurfing interests. DoubleClick's abandonment of this service, once the big jewel in its technology crown, testifies to the utter collapse of the online advertising market. Apparently, in the eyes of advertisers, the benefits of such targeting do not justify paying a premium for it. CNET has the story.
http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1005-200-8407125.html

ICANN Strips Volunteer of .au Domain

In the beginning, the Net was run by individuals. Domain name registration was the province of volunteers. Robert Elz, an Australian programmer in Melbourne, ran his country's domain name service. An isolated and quirky individual, Elz readily relinquished the .com.au country code top-level domain (ccTLD) sub-domain to auDA, Australia's national non-profit domain name service. Elz, however, has fought to keep control of the .au ccTLD out of auDA's hands, claiming that auDA is not yet capable of administering the nation's .au cyber estate. Elz offered to surrender .au to his government but ICANN stepped in and stripped Elz of his rights to the ccTLD. Gradually, the bureaucrats are replacing the short-sleeved engineers who built and designed the system.
http://www.wired.com/news/politics/0,1283,48973,00.html

Vim, Open Source, and Ugandan Orphans

Vim, a text editor, is distributed with most versions of Linux. It's the brainchild of Bram Moolenaar, who continues to maintain the code. In this thoughtful piece, Moolenaar describes the origins and internals of Vim, plus the concept of charityware. He encourages users of Vim to make donations to orphans in Uganda. The article will interest those who want to understand the open source movement in the context of a specific piece of software.
http://www.rons.net.cn/english/FSM/vim

Netcraft Web Server Survey

Netcraft's latest monthly diagnostic of the Internet reveals some interesting results. Among the findings, the Web server survey reports a drop in numbers of Web sites for only the second time. The first drop, which Netcraft calls a "blip", occurred in August 2001 as the result of "failures and business model changes at several mass hosting companies, and the aftermath of the Code Red virus." The current decline is attributed to an overall drop in registered domain names as unrenewed domains now exceed new registrations: "Domains bought during the rampant domain-name speculation of late 1999 are now coming up for two-year renewal, and many are being abandoned." The report notes, however, that as squatters desert domains, the proportion of active sites should increase.
http://www.netcraft.com/survey/

More Microsoft Trickery

In December and January, ZDNet UK hosted a poll on which technology Web developers planned to use in future. On Dec. 21, most planned to use Java and a mere fifth cited Microsoft's .NET. By Jan. 5, results had flipflopped and more than three-quarters of respondents said they would use .NET. ZDNet UK did a little basic digging and found that the change in attitude was primarily due to a campaign by voters from Microsoft.com, some voting after reading an e-mail with the subject of "PLEASE STOP AND VOTE FOR .NET!". ZDNet UK wrote up the results of its investigation and added a separate commentary for good measure.
Results: http://news.zdnet.co.uk/story/0,,t269-s2102244,00.html
Commentary: http://www.anchordesk.co.uk/anchordesk/commentary/columns/0,2415,7111562,00.html

eBay Auction for America Short of Goal

eBay's auction aimed to raise $100 million in 100 days to be donated to the victims of Sept. 11. Apparently the project got nowhere near that goal, reportedly raising only $10 million to date. That's not peanuts, but still, it probably reflects a certain amount of charity fatigue among the public. CNET has details.
http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1007-200-8362724.html

ONLINE CULTURE

Move over, Melrose Place - It's the Geek Sexchart!

The Geek Sexchart, est. 1997, is an ever-growing ASCII "family tree" diagramming interweaving physical intimacies among 1,400 hackers, crackers, geeks, and cyberfreaks. Lish Daelnar, the person at ground zero of the Sexchart and keeper of the flame, talked to Wired about the history of this strange project and its implications. "The chart was started specifically to make fun of me - to show how many guys I dated," she says, but notes that since the minimum requirement for chart inclusion is "wet kissing", "somebody with 20 links might mean they've kissed 20 people in their whole life." Nevertheless, some haven't taken kindly to having their personal meatspace links documented, and Daelnar has even received related e-mail threats. Her advice to the disgruntled? "If you're gonna have privacy, have privacy - you can't tell six people and expect it to stay a secret." Dare we label this another milestone for the open-source movement?
http://www.wired.com/news/business/0,1367,48997,00.html

How Google Saved Usenet

As we reported in NSD 7.42, Google has assembled an archive of 700 million Usenet messages that date back to 1981. Now, Salon tells us how this was done. The real heroes of this effort were the numerous pack rats who squirreled away old Usenet postings on magnetic tape and, later, CD-ROMs. Despite their efforts, not all postings from those days have been recovered. Usenet pack rats tend to have collected more of the shiny technical subjects than matte social ones, and messages about Unix bugs survived more often than abortion flame wars. A discussion on Slashdot reveals that not everyone is happy to see their old posts come back to haunt them. Google has said it will remove any posts from the archive at the request of the author.
Google: http://www.google.com/googlegroups/archive_announce_20.html
Salon: http://salon.com/tech/feature/2002/01/07/saving_usenet/index.html
Slashdot: http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=01/12/11/0727218

Year-End Google Zeitgeist

Nostradamus stepped on Pokemon, Harry Potter body-slammed X-Men and "Loft Story" elbowed "Big Brother" on Google in 2001. The top misspelled queries of January 2001 were "inauguration" and "presidential", and until September, the Code Red virus seemed like the most dangerous threat lurking on the horizon. The Year-End Google Zeitgeist reveals search patterns and trends for 2001 that stand as significant digital anthropological artifacts, and make for fascinating browsing. The page lists Google's top 20 gaining and declining search terms for the last year, plus 12 "Top 10" lists and a link to a timeline of monthly highlights. According to Zeitgeist, "All Your Base" hit Google only about a year ago. My, how time flies.
Zeitgeist: http://www.google.com/press/zeitgeist.html
Timeline: http://www.google.com/press/timeline.html

Retribution Breeds Cooperation

A basic tenet of the study of behavior is that the threat of retribution will bring a certain amount of compliance in most social situations. Now, there's mathematical proof for that assertion, thanks to some game theory researchers who played an investment game in which players punish those who do not contribute to the group. Why is this of interest to the Net? One of the perennial online problems is the tragedy of the commons, where freeloaders (e.g. spammers) use up resources (e.g. Usenet), thus ruining the resource for everybody. As a Slashdot discussion notes, this research can be potentially applicable to online shared resource technologies such as peer-to-peer.
Research: http://www.nature.com/nsu/020107/020107-6.html
Slashdot: http://slashdot.org/science/02/01/10/0324223.shtml


Netsurfer Recommendations

Items our staff likes and you might too. Click on the image or title to order at a hefty discount from our affiliate Amazon.com, and send a few pennies our way as well.

True Names: And the Opening of the Cyberspace Frontier
Vernor Vinge, James Frenkel (Editor), Marvin L. Minsky (Afterword)
Tor Books; ISBN: 0312862075

Vernor Vinge's novella "True Names" was published in 1981 and immediately became one of those seminal works which presage major cultural shifts. Vinge may not have been the first writer to anticipate the Net and all that it implies, but he was certainly one of the most original, and arguably the one with most impact on early online pioneers. "True Names" has been out of print for many years, but its legendary status remains undiminished. In this edition, the novella is accompanied by articles by other SF authors, computer scientists, and others it has inspired over the years. This is a must read for anyone interested in the roots of online culture. If you crave more Vinge we highly recommend " The Collected Stories of Vernor Vinge".



The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai: Across the Eighth Dimension
Earl Mac Rauch
Pocket Books; ISBN: 0743442482

You already know the movie. You may not understand it, but surely you've heard of Buckaroo Banzai - physicist, rock star, linguist, philosopher, brain surgeon, and inventor of the Jet Car. You know, the guy who saved Penny Priddy's overthruster from the evil Lectroids of Planet 10 and their goriously mad leader Dr. Lizardo. Yeah, that one. Well, now his story is told in a book that finally explains the background behind his band and sidekicks, the Hong Kong Cavaliers. Snap this up before it goes out of print and becomes an impossible to get cult item. Oh yeah, don't forget to see the movie.



Beginning Perl for Bioinformatics
James D. Tisdall
O'Reilly & Associates; ISBN: 0596000804

Perhaps the best way to introduce this book is to say that while the computer economy is in the toilet, the biotech economy is doing quite well. If you're a tech type and thinking of switching careers, this may not be a bad book to become acquainted with. The book covers the basics of biocomputation and then plunges right into a Perl-centric look at solving typical biological computing issues. The book is accessible to non-programmers and thus a good fit for biotech professionals who are familiar with the bio concepts and need to brush up on the practical computer science aspects of their field.



Mac OS X: The Missing Manaul
David Pogue
O'Reilly & Associates; ISBN: 0596000820

For Mac users, the OS X operating system is in many ways a radical departure from everything that came before. While Apple has tried to keep some amount of continuity within its user interface, the entire underpinnings of the operating system have radically changed. The consensus opinion is that the change is much for the better - it's Unix after all. However with revolution comes the need for re-education, which is where this book comes in. The book's strength is in not only covering new features but clearly explaining what happened to all the old Mac OS 9 features. A must have resource for all migrating or new Mac OS X users.




For more selections, check out the Netsurfer Library at http://www.netsurf.com/nsl/

SURFING SITES

When Pong Goes Bad

For many of us, our first twinge of techno-envy was experienced playing Pong at a friend's house. That's the same friend who had the Play-Doh Barber Shop and Sea Monkeys; you couldn't figure out how this kid managed to get all this stuff. But you did know you had to have this green glowing game to join the ranks of the worthy. Looking back on Pong with today's technology, we wonder what we were thinking. It was a green block, bouncing across a black field. Secretly, we all knew it was more than that, and so did the person who created this Flash movie, set in the world of Pong, which rhymes with strong, which is what the language is.
http://www.youngprimitive.cz/pong.html

Acts of Gord, Patron Saint of Retail Clerks

This site has an ancient look to it, which the fonts and manner of writing amplify. This is illustrated biblical stuff, and hugely amusing, if you don't take religion all that seriously. This is, after all, the Word of Gord, and it deals more with retail issues than with theological debate. If you've ever worked in retail-land, you'll find gems here that will awaken long and deeply-buried memories. Obviously, not buried deeply enough. Forget the shovel - bring in the back-hoe.
http://www.actsofgord.com/

Dan's Look at Nifty Electronic, Computer, and Other Gadgets

Dan's Data is not just for PC enthusiasts in search of hardware reviews, although this eclectic site has about 300 of them. Cameras, remote control vehicles, and magnets - oh, yes, magnets - also feature. Dan, of Australia, has obviously spent a lot of time and effort on his technical guideposts. He offers articles and tutorials such as "How to build a PC" and "Do it yourself! Or don't ...". His most popular page is "How To Destroy Your Computer" and his personal collection of gadgets includes a radio-controlled Sherman tank, the subject of one of his two Tank Review pages. His review of PORNsweeper reveals that the blocking software flagged conventional photos of Mona Lisa, the front of a truck, President Bush with the First Lady, and Bill Gates. Go figure. Don't miss the cool magnets page, by the way.
Dan: http://www.dansdata.com/
Magnets: http://www.dansdata.com/magnets.htm

SpudChunker Potato Guns

A few months ago, NSD covered the heavy weapons of food artillery, pumpkin throwers. Let us now turn to a weapon of lighter caliber: the potato gun, particularly the commercial models produced by SpudChunker.com, which sells the guns and accessories via the site. The ammo comes from your local grocery store. The standard guns - Right Guard deodorant is the fuel of choice - have a range of about 150 yards, while propane-fueled guns can fire smaller potato plugs up to 300 yards. Think how useful that can be. The site has instructions and all the information the average spudgunner will ever need, as well as order forms. The only part of the site that's not worth visiting is the video page. The videos just don't do potato guns justice.
http://www.spudchunker.com/

The Food Museum

The Food Museum has both a virtual and a real existence. Online, it's a one-stop source for food exhibits, news/issues, resources, food history, book reviews and just plain fun. In the non-virtual (real) world, it's a series of exhibits at museums and other educational projects. The museum is an ambitious ongoing project with some pieces still incomplete. There's enough here now to fill the time between lunch and supper. Be sure to visit the news and issues pages. For a lighter view, the kids' page is excellent. The Food Museum's strength is its general coverage. The site isn't a place for trendy foodies, it's for ordinary folks.
http://www.foodmuseum.com/

Car Museums

No car images! None, nada, nil. Not a single picture of any car. This site is primarily a list of automotive museums worldwide. Come to think of it, if you really delve deeply there are a few tiny auto images. The listings are extremely complete and intelligently organized so that travelers can easily put together a list of museums wherever their travels lead them. Many of the listed museums and open collections have Web sites of their own. Links are provided, and at these sites you'll find scads of great automotive images. The number of museums is astounding. Any museum that regularly displays cars qualifies for the list, so it includes municipal transport museums, fire service museums, and others that are not solely devoted to autos. Vehicles on cinderblocks in the front yard don't count.
http://www.team.net/www/museums/index.html

Pop Culture Nostalgia

Ah, glory days! If you're over 40, you know the agonies of nostalgia: embarrassment; guilt; anxiety; a sense of loss; backache; and other blessings of time. Ancients who nevertheless crave temporal punishment in an indulgence in toys, entertainment, food, and fashion of yore might get a kick out of Yesterdayland, a pop-culture retrospective subtitled "Your Childhood Is Here". You'll get a kick even if, say, you're over 30 (egad!) and you grooved on the Beatles, disco, Madonna, Love Boat, the Incredible Hulk, bellbottoms, lunchboxes, video arcade games, and the like. Yes, a lot gets thrown together through the wonders of age, technology, obsolescence, and this site's intent to build community through feedback and message boards. Jonathan Livingston Seagull ring a bell? How about Donny and Marie Osmond? Dan Rowan and Dick Martin? Alvin and the Chipmunks? Charlie's Angels? Wonder Woman? Are we getting warm? Tributes, interviews, articles, links to Amazon.com, and other related materials may revive memories and thin your wallet. The easy-to-search fashion database is excellent. Bikini, Body Glove, Brylcreem, cutoffs, hip huggers, miniskirts, Nair ("stinky cream with the miracle results"), love beads - indeed, we could go on and on....
http://www.yesterdayland.com/

Humorous Screenshots, True and Otherwise

Once in a while, while surfing the Web, you come across a potentially embarrassing error, evidence of poor judgment, or something so weird you have to wonder about the people who posted it. Chapter 18: Government Humor has a small but noteworthy collection of screenshots that documents political error or faux pas in the category of ludicrous. An FBI press release warning of impending and unspecified doom is called skyfall.htm, a scatological spelling error from Reuters, a grandma for sale on eBay, and a 404 error message on a cellular phone are believable. There's some obvious tampering (for humor, of course) in a photo of Bill Clinton showing centerfolds to schoolkids, a "Got Milk?" pseudo-ad, and a "photo" of a tank crushing a car beneath the word "Hi." The webmaster claims to accept submissions, but the site was last updated months ago.
http://onastick.net/

Ode to a Turntable

Technics, the audio offshoot of Panasonic, has now been around for 30 years. Its SL1200 series of turntables has been pretty well unchanged for much of that time, and vinyl fans love them for that. This is a pretty cool Shocked site, all crassly commercial, of course. The idea was to show how the 1200 series platter players have changed the world of music, but the site doesn't really accomplish that. It's got some nice audio, but the main thing to remember here is that if you want to do classic DJ scratching, you need a set of 1200 decks on board. And why not? If you don't change the design in any substantial way, you have no further costs incurred. Good business all around, then.
http://www.technics1210.com/

Public Records

Search Systems claims to be the "largest collection of free public records on the Internet." It's really a search site rather than a collection - the public records are stored in many locations - but it certainly seems comprehensive. Choose a state, province, territory, or country, and jump to a variety of public records on the Web, with documents like contracts, licenses for professionals, veterans' records, and much, much more. Navigation is a breeze. On our last visit, resources listed on the New Sites page included police accident reports in Philadelphia, a list of credit unions in the United States, and directory information about many banks around the world. This is a good place to bookmark for research.
http://www.pac-info.com/

ONLINE TRAVEL

The Condensed History of China

We appreciate the frankness in the introduction to Condensed China: "I deliberately skipped over and left out a lot of information," writes New York-based historian Paul Frankenstein. "This is more like 'Chinese History: the Cliff Notes version' or 'Chinese History's Greatest Hits' than a full-fledged history." His small, articulate site covers Chinese civilization from 2200 BCE to the late 1990s. We understand his approach and like his prose. Who, after all, has time to absorb so much history (geography, war, politics, religion, art) in detail, especially on the Web? There are four sections, each but a page to scroll: the origins of Chinese civilization, the early empire, the second empire, and the birth of modern China. Some historians might argue that all the richness of Chinese history has been reduced to generalities and thumbnail descriptions. Blame the decadent Web. Still, this site might prove a good resource for students, journalists, and others who are not historians and who plan a trip to China.
http://www.asterius.com/china/

A Photographic Homage to New York

Here Is New York is a somber, elegant, ambitious photographic tribute to those who died in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center last September. The About Us page states, "The exhibition is subtitled 'A Democracy of Photographs' because anyone and everyone who has taken pictures relating to the tragedy is invited to bring or ftp their images to the gallery, where they will be digitally scanned, archivally printed and displayed on the walls alongside the work of top photojournalists and other professional photographers. All of the prints which HERE IS NEW YORK displays will be sold to the public for $25, regardless of their provenance." The elegiac tone is set by an initial dropdown list of search categories such as WTC - Immediate Damage, WTC - Collapse, Ground Zero, Firemen, Policemen, Victims, and Missing. There seem to be at least several hundred photos in the online gallery. Here is New York is both a media resource (although none of the online photos we viewed is attributed to anyone) and an unofficial virtual national monument. Many with a personal involvement in the tragedy are likely to spend hours viewing these photos online. In early January, when this review was written, the shopping bag had yet to be activated. Proceeds will go to the Children's Aid Society WTC Relief Fund.
http://www.hereisnewyork.org/

FLOTSAM & JETSAM

Andy Kaufman

Andy Kaufman was nuts, but he did it so well. Before his life was cut short, he'd left his mark like an over-watered dog on the hydrant of American comedy. The site's still under construction, but there are some nice tidbits to be found. If you never got to see Andy in action, visit, bookmark, and learn.
http://www.caksociety.com/

Harry Chapin and Little Jason's Other Goodies

If you like games, this place is OK. If you like Harry Chapin, this is your spot. Little Jason has links to lyrics, MIDIs (remember them?), and more. Or try playing the lemonade shack game or take a little click-trip to the LaughShack. Some's old, some's new. Most of it's borrowed, but still worth a view.
http://www.littlejason.com/

Download the Net

There's a bit of comic catharsis in W3Schools's graphical answer to the far too common tech support question, "I want to download the Internet. Do I need a bigger hard disk?" While you're at the site, check out its free tutorials, including such subjects as shape tweening in Flash and playing with the global.asa file in ASP.
http://www.w3schools.com/downloadwww.htm

Dial 404 for Love

Web 404 errors can lead to dull, static error pages informing you of that fact. Or they can lead to lusty mechanical intelligences who reach out and grab a handful of life as it passes by. Like here.
http://www.binaryinc.org/404.html

Heard the One about the FBI Ordering a Pizza from the Asylum?

Guess what? It's true. In 1993, FBI agents investigating health care fraud tried to order pizzas. The pizza shop wouldn't deliver pizzas to callers who claimed to be feds at a psychiatric hospital. It's so nice when urban legends prove true.
http://www.snopes2.com/humor/jokes/fbipizza.htm

UK Gun Market

Need a gun in the UK? High-quality shotguns make up the bulk of these listings, followed distantly by rifles. Most of the sellers are licensed gun dealers with really nice double-barreled shotguns on offer. Most guns have both stock and receiver photos. There are some truly beautiful, not-cheap guns shown.
http://guntrader.co.uk/

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