More Junkmail from Bob!

Sunday, February 17, 2002
Important Stuff!


The superbowl happened again! Complete with superbowl parties, superbowl advertising, a huge pregame show, and even a little football, one of the country's biggest holidays was strictly observed.

Superbowl advertising can be pretty funny. MSNBC reported the week before the game:

"Fox is having a hard time unloading all of its commercial slots for the Super Bowl, television's most watched and most expensive advertising event. Its difficulties are alarming because the deadline is approaching fast: Only two weeks remain before the Feb. 3 kickoff at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans. Normally, the slots are sold out about a month in advance. Amid softness in the advertising market, News Corp.'s Fox still is holding about 10 percent of its total commercial inventory during the game, according to Jon Nesvig, Fox Broadcasting's president of sales."

That sounded bad this year, assuming nobody remembered last year:

"NEW YORK (CNNfn) - CBS on Tuesday said it expects to score at the cash register on Super Bowl Sunday, refuting a published report that the network is having a hard time selling ads for the NFL's Jan. 28 championship game.  Calling the leftover ad time 'a bad sign,' The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday reported that Viacom-owned CBS has sold only about 90 percent of its inventory."

Here are the advertisers for this year, more or less:

        AT&T Wireless
        General Motors
        H&R Block
        Levi Strauss
        New Line Cinema
        Pizza Hut (pregame only)
        Radio Shack (pregame only)
        Charles Schwab (pregame only)
        Sony Pictures Entertainment
        Universal Studios
        Universal Studios Theme Parks
        Visa International
        Warner Bros.

The non-prime 30-second ad spots went for about $1,500,000. Last year the average price was about $2,000,000. The year before, it was about $2,200,000.

There are 3 dotcoms in this list. Two years ago, about 40 percent of the superbowl advertisers were dotcoms. One dotcom CEO said about his 2000 Superbowl advertising, "It's definitely worth the money. The site traffic was very strong. I was very, very pleased with that aspect of it as well as the number of people that requested service."

That was CEO Kelly. I thought I'd see how they're doing today, so I went to their web site. I got the old message, "The page cannot be displayed The page you are looking for is currently unavailable. The Web site might be experiencing technical difficulties, or you may need to adjust your browser settings." After a little web searching, I learned that closed down and laid off all employees in June following their Superbowl ads. It's a good thing they spent their money wisely.


I've noticed something very important on the newer airliners. The toilets seem to flush with air rather than water. I guess air weighs less. When you flush on a 757 or 767, it's really loud.

A lady was flying on Scandinavian Airlines to the U.S last year. It was a long flight, and she understandably needed to use the restroom. So she did. And she flushed. But she flushed before she stood up. Then she remained seated for the rest of the flight. Stuck on the toilet. "Ground technicians" got her loose after they landed.

I'd recommend that they provide pry-bars in their toilets.

Legal Trojans

Suppose I wrote a program that records your web visits, the information you fill out in formations, etc., and sends all the information back to me. My program would also sneak in some pop-up ads so it looks like they're coming from someone's web site when they're actually coming from me.

In order to get you to install and run my program, I could sneak it into the installation of a real application. They I would get all this neat information and free advertising from anybody who installed that application.

Far-fetched? Not really. VX2 attached a similar spy program to Audio Galaxy's installation. It was there for about a month.,1282,49960,00.html

Here's a little more sensational article by the guy who "discovered" the VX2 software:

Not long ago something similar happened with "ClickTilUWin"

It's legal as long as you say that it's OK to install the spyware, which is generically covered in the click-before-you-install agreement. There's no telling what I'm installing on my computers.

Microsoft and John

Microsoft is a legal corporation and will not be broken up. The U.S. Justice Department announced this on September 6, 2000. In January 2000 (I think), John became U.S. Attorney General. During the 2000 election season, Microsoft gave John $20,000.

Attorney General John recused himself (a fancy word for excused) from the Enron case because Enron gave him some money. He didn't do that with Microsoft. Some people are pretty mad at John about that.,1551,50442,00.html

Afterward, the Justice Department asked for comments online. They got about 30,000 comments. They published all 47 of them that they considered "worthy of consideration."

Here's a good solution for the whole thing -- Windows and applications by one company, software patches by another. I wonder if this idea was one of the 47.

Legal Coercion

MSDN stands for Microsoft Developers Network. It is a bunch of documentation and support files you can subscribe to from Microsoft. The documentation is pretty important if you're writing programs.

A few years ago Microsoft changed their help file format in MSDN to html. This seemed pretty strange to me, because the html help had a lot more limitations than the older help. What could have prompted this?

Yesterday I decided to install the January release of the MSDN help files. It's a big installation, over a hundred megabytes. Usually I'm wary of installing something that big from Microsoft lest it try to take over part of my computer and change the way I do things.  But help files are fairly benign, so I thought it would be OK.

Last week Microsoft made the official and final (maybe) release of Visual Studio.Net, their mother of all development platforms, frameworks, environments, and universes. They have new versions of all their compilers. For example, Visual Basic is now called Visual Basic.Net. However, Visual Basic.Net is a new language. It will not run previous Visual Basic programs without lots of modification.

I believe I mentioned before that the .Net compilers will run only under Windows NT, 2000, or XP. They will not run on Windows 98 or Windows ME. The computer I'm on now is running Windows 98. 98 is faster than the others for me.

Anyway, back to my MSDN help file installation. I started the installation and got some message saying Internet Explorer 6.0 is required. Why I need a new internet browser in order to load some help files is beyond me, but being the cooperative type of guy I am, I obediently downloaded the huge IE6 and installed it. Then I went back to the MSDN help file installation.

I completed the installation, tried it out, but it didn't work. Nothing. After about 3 installations I finally read the message at the end. It said that it was incompatible with Visual Studio 6.0, but I could use it in the standalone mode. I double clicked on some of the files to bring them up in standalone mode, but nothing happened.

In order for me to install the latest set of documentation from Microsoft, I not only have to update my browser, but I have to install some incompatible compilers I don't want and a slower, cumbersome Windows operating system that I want even less.

So I taught them a lesson. Not only did I uninstall their new MSDN help files, but I uninstalled IE6 and went back to IE5.5. This was surprisingly easy.

Then I decided to check my email. As obvious punishment for not upgrading to the latest Microsoft software, my Outlook 98 refused to run. OLE Error. So I reinstalled it. Same error. So I uninstalled it and installed Outlook 97. Different error, but still no luck. After some extended thrashing around and multiple installation combinations, I edited the registry are removed everything that said, "outlook". Then I reinstalled Outlook 97, then Outlook 98. Then I copied some already-installed Outlook 98 program files from a backup got it back to normal.

So much for a benign help-file installation. I'm sticking with the October files. If I need anything newer I'll get it from I may use Opera to access it, too!


Warner Home Video had a special deal going for video rental stores in Australia. They decided to charge them double price for all DVDs. The asked the stores to voluntarily agree to this arrangement, else have their supply of all Warner videos involuntarily cut off. As a result, video rental stores were paying $55 per DVD when they could buy the same DVD in Kmart for $25 or $30. Except Warner required them to agree not to buy the cheaper ones anywhere.

It's illegal for them to do this with Videos in Australia (and probably elsewhere), but Warner said DVD's were different. They said since DVDs are digital only software laws apply.

Warner lost.

Foreign Exchange

When they designed the 2-euro coin, they didn't consider the Thai baht coins are almost alike. Physically, that is. A baht is worth about 26 euro cents. Some bahts are turning up in some European vending machines now.


I was going to go on a tirade here about Bush, but it's all pretty boring so just pretend I hollered and shouted a while about Bush spending money on stupid stuff, raising a big budget deficit, claiming a recession when by definition it's over, and calling everybody evil. There. Now I feel better. And I didn't even have to go into Enron stuff.

Seal Cams

What's a good way to explore undersea? Use and undersea animal. After extensive job interviews, 15 Weddell seals were selected for the jobs of carrying cameras around under the Antarctic ocean near McMurdo Station.,1282,49921,00.html

Really Temporary Flight Restrictions

Some of the flight restrictions I've seen in the past few months were a bit hard to decipher, but this one is by far the best. This is a temporary restricted area near Denver, from the week before last. It moves every few minutes!

3.0 NMR BLW 3000 FEET AGL OF 394236N/1044529W, OR THE
FQF270006.4, FROM 0202081550 (0850 LOCAL 02/08/02) UNTIL
0202081600 (0900 LOCAL 02/08/02).
3.0 NMR BLW 3000 FEET AGL OF 394437N/1045737W, OR THE
FQF270016.0, FROM 0202081615 (0915 LOCAL 02/08/02) UNTIL
0202081625 (0925 LOCAL 02/08/02).
1.5 NMR BLW 1500 FEET AGL OF 394432N/1045945W, OR THE
FQF269017.6, FROM 0202081625 (0925 LOCAL 02/08/02) UNTIL
0202081735 (1035 LOCAL 02/08/02).
3.0 NMR BLW 3000 FEET AGL OF 394437N/1045737W, OR THE
FQF270016.0, FROM 0202081735 (1035 LOCAL 02/08/02) UNTIL
0202081800 (1100 LOCAL 02/08/02).
3.0 NMR BLW 3000 FEET AGL OF 394236N/1044529W, OR THE
FQF270006.4, FROM 0202081820 (1120 LOCAL 02/08/02) UNTIL
0202081840 (1140 LOCAL 02/08/02).

It moves from Buckley Airforce Base to downtown Denver and back. If I was flying around there below 8,000' or so, I'd need to know whether it was 9:10 am or 9:20 am to tell where I can and can't be. I guess I'd just call the controllers and ask them where I can go.

Dollars for Digits

Need some extra cash? Got a calculator? Go here:

There's a $100 prize for whoever can come up with the most accurate answers to some math problems by May 20.

eBay Archives

I've heard of people buying something from the company they work for and selling it at a profit on eBay. I supposed it's likely that someone somewhere would steal from their employer and sell the stolen merchandise on eBay. But I probably would not have guessed that someone made thousands of dollars on eBay selling stuff stolen from the National Archives.

Smart Licenses?

Smart drivers licenses are in the future. How smart and how universal is being argued. Today it's technically possible to have a chip in your license containing fingerprint or retinal data, so when you need to be positively identified you would have a finger or retina scanned to make sure it matched your license.

Some people want to have the license record information about a persons movements and transactions. Some people are really bent out of shape about the whole thing. Bush asked if it would keep his family from faking IDs and prescriptions.,1283,50418-2,00.html

Nice Jobs

JDS Uniphase was a darling a Wall Street not long ago. Even though it's not a dotcom, it's stock has since gone from the $130-150 range to $6 last week. They lost more than $50,000,000,000 last year alone. That's more than a million and a half dollars a DAY.

This is poor but not unheard of performance. What IS unheard of, at least by me, is a company with this performance that pays their executives 75 and 120 million a year. It must be some kind of bonuses or royalties, but the CSO (Don) and COO (Greg) of JDSU were paid $75,000,000 and $121,000,000 last year, and that's before exercising any stock options.

OK, OK, there may be some Enron people who rank up there, but Enron doesn't count.

A Linear Comet

The comet Linear has rounded the sun and is headed back out to space.  I'm not sure how long before or whether it will return. It's currently visible in the southern hemisphere, headed north.

Pictures of Today!

Saturn, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope


A pond on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.


Melinda, a tree, and a beach.


In a marshy area at Hilton Head there were lots of these tiny holes...


... made by these tiny crabs (I think).


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