"If you like Pat Robertson, you'll love ass fucking!"

Amazon blushes over sex link snafu

By Stefanie Olsen

In a incident that highlights the pitfalls of online recommendation systems, Amazon.com on Friday removed a link to a sex manual that appeared next to a listing for a spiritual guide by well-known Christian televangelist Pat Robertson. The two titles were temporarily linked as a result of technology that tracks and displays lists of merchandise perused and purchased by Amazon visitors. Such promotions appear below the main description for products under the title, "Customers who shopped for this item also shopped for these items."

Amazon's automated results for Robertson's "Six Steps to Spiritual Revival" included a second title by Robertson as well as a book about anal sex for men. [...]

"This kind of prank is not good for Amazon because it will scare some customers away. It reinforces some people's view that the Internet is a dangerous place," said security consultant Richard Smith, who brought the links to the attention of CNET News.com. "The prank makes me also wonder how much the Amazon recommendation system is being hacked by authors and publishers as a new marketing tool," he added. [...]

Among the related shopping items for Robertson's book Friday were listings for "clean underwear" and "ladybug rain boots." [...]

Robertson could not immediately be reached for comment.

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Total Information Awareness: three years in prison

Man Sentenced for 'Burning Bush' Comment

Fri Dec 6, 2:37 PM ET

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - A man who made a remark about a "burning Bush" during the president's March 2001 trip to Sioux Falls was sentenced Friday to 37 months in prison.

Richard Humphreys, of Portland, Ore., was convicted in September of threatening to kill or harm the president and said he plans to appeal. He has said the comment was a prophecy protected under his right to free speech.

Humphreys said he got into a barroom discussion in nearby Watertown with a truck driver. A bartender who overheard the conversation realized the president was to visit Sioux Falls the next day and told police Humphreys talked about a "burning Bush" and the possibility of someone pouring a flammable liquid on Bush and lighting it.

"I said God might speak to the world through a burning Bush," Humphreys testified during his trial. "I had said that before and I thought it was funny."

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make it up in volume

AOL Must Shed Weapons of Wealth Destruction

(2002-10-25) -- Unless AOL Time Warner completely eliminates its "weapons of wealth destruction" (WWD), regime change seems inevitable, according to industry experts.

Chairman Steve Case's secret WWD program may have existed as early as two years ago when he and now-retired Time Warner boss Gerald Levin were talking about a mysterious "synergy" they were developing.

"No one really knows what this synergy is," said a market analyst at a reputable Wall Street firm, "We have no concrete evidence that the synergy exists. But it must have something to do with reducing a mighty publishing empire to dust and ashes."

Since AOL took over Time Warner about two years ago, the company has lost billions of shareholder dollars. Company insiders say that Mr. Case never wears a necktie out of fear of rebels within the organization.


more wind-walking machines

Many more pictures of those crazy walking machines... These things are so amazing, it's hard to believe they are real! Is there evidence of fakery?

Also, it looks like there are four Flash videos of them moving around, though I can only get it to play the first one.

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Dali Clock: further adventures in retrocomputing

So, for those of you tuning in late, back in 1991 I wrote this program called XDaliClock, which is a clone of a similar program that I had on my Mac in 1984. I sold that machine in like, 1987, and I'd been halfheartedly trying to find another ever since, because I wanted a machine that was still capable of running the original Dali Clock. Well, back in April, cyantist bought me one! And tonight, I finally got around to getting the original Dali Clock running on it. That means that I now have a dedicated Dali Clock Appliance, made of the absolute wimpiest computer capable of generating that effect.

Even the original Palm Pilot (on which XDaliClock also runs) is a way beefier computer that the original Macintosh is: the screens are almost the same resolution, but the Pilot's CPU is at least 4x faster (maybe more?) and it had 1 or 2 megabytes of RAM. The Mac had 128K. K.

No, my office isn't crowded, why?

This was quite a production. I had files that purportedly contained the Dali Clock executable, that had been floating around in my home directory for a decade, and I needed to find a way to get those files onto the Mac.

The problems standing in the way of this:

  • 128K Macs didn't have ethernet (ha!) or SCSI (are you joking?)
  • I think they might be able to run AppleTalk over the serial port, but I don't have the drivers for that -- so I'd have to find them, and install them, which is something of a chicken-and-egg problem.
  • 128K Macs can only read 400K single-sided floppies.
  • No floppy drive manufactured in the last 6+ years can read or write 400K disks. (Or the 800k double sided variant.) Apparently modern disks are made of different material and are written with a different magnetic field strength, so it's a hardware issue, not software.
  • No Mac that does have a disk drive that can write 400K disks also has ethernet.
  • For that matter, no Mac manufactured in the last 3 (?) years comes with a floppy drive at all!

So, here's how I did it. Barry loaned me a Mac Classic II that he had lying around (it's toaster shaped, but has a hard drive! Oh, BTW, you could get a hard drive for the original Macintosh: it plugged into the serial port.) I used the Classic II to format a modern floppy disk. I tracked down a USB floppy drive. I downloaded the files used an iMac, and wrote them to that floppy. (The iMac can read disks formatted on the Classic II but not vice versa.) I got the files onto the Classic II's hard disk that way.

Then I had to figure out how to unpack the files, because there were several layers of decade-obsolescent packager formats wrapped around them, the trickiest of which was PackIt (which apparently only Jurassic versions of Stuffit Expander can read: versions which only run on Jurassic Macs...)

Finally, I formatted a 400K disk on the 128K Mac (a disk that came with it, i.e., a disk manufactured in 1984) and copied the files from the Classic II's HD to that. And, success!

The original (Steve Capps) version of Dali Clock only works on the 128K Mac: it crashes the Classic after one second. However, in 1987, Ephraim Vishniac disassembled the original clock binary and hacked it to work on (then-) modern Macs. So (for the sake of completeness) I was able to get his version working on the Classic II (OS7.) Sadly, that version does not work on OS9 or OSX, though surprisingly, it doesn't crash OS9. It seems to be assuming a 1-bit display, so you just get some static at the top of the screen.

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