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2000 Q1

[31.Mar.00]
Long-time readers of this column will remember the little spat with TheStreet.com's James Cramer. I said he was a loudmouthed hypocrite. He said I was full of shit, and challenged his critics to short his stock, then at $16.44. Yesterday it closed at $9.88, a 52-week low. It gets better. Cramer gave up his 2000 salary — $275,000 — in exchange for the option to buy 30,000 shares. At $19.

A few days ago Cam had a link to an article about how to succeed at getting hired. Two of the suggested tactics were to (i.) ask for business cards and (ii.) send a thank-you note.

Number of interviews performed by Dack: a lot
Number of times asked for a business card: 0
Number of thank-you notes received: 0

Along with crappy service at fast-food restaurants, we can now add poor manners to the list of drawbacks to the red-hot economy.


[30.Mar.00]
Here's how I've spent the past couple of weekends. I am not responsible for the background color!

Attention K-Mart Shoppers: Does anyone know of a site that offers very similar (in terms of design) Flash and non-Flash versions? Please send me a note posthaste.

It seems like this utterly ridiculous waste of time happens in the US Senate every freaking year. Undeterred by the amendment's defeat, Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) says, "We'll be back." Come back, Orrin, and hopefully you will lose again, and again, and again.


[29.Mar.00]
The best submission to the Worst Things About a Hangover list in a mighty long time: Mental anguish: Who did I confess undying love to last night?

[28.Mar.00]
The best part about dinner at Chino Latino is the dark nature of the fortune cookie messages. Last night's treats (besides the cookies themselves):

» Your forehead is shiny!
» You might not make it home tonight.
» The last chapter has yet to be written on you and acne.
» Isn't it time for Gramps to come clean about what he did during the war?

Mark Hurst of goodexperience.com liked the Flash article so much that he's including it in his weekly newsletter to be sent in a day or two. Ummm ... thanks, Mark. Better get prepared:

» Flame-resistant jumpsuit. Check.
» Asbestos gloves. Check.
» Welder's mask. Check.

Adobe Premiere 5.5 is out, and, unlike Premiere 5.1, it actually works on Windows NT.

Wanting to stress-test his newly installed version of IE5 for the Mac, reader Colin O'Brien tried visiting boo.com (in simple mode) and "got a completely unreadable blob of text and images." What's the problem here? IE5 for the Mac or boo.com? Or both?


[27.Mar.00]
A tip o' the cap to Jakob Nielsen, who showed a sense of humor by not getting pissed upon seeing his image alongside a picture of Bluto Blutarsky, and who wrote "It is impossible to tell from your site whether you are an undergraduate student or a senior VP."

The New York Times offers a pretty handy guide for music fans wanting to explore electronica and its different genres: house, techno, big-beat, drum 'n' bass, and trance.

*Real* Must-See TV: Tomorrow night PBS is airing the third part of Bill Moyers' series that's followed the financial ups and downs of two blue-collar Milwaukee families over the past 10 years. Even if you don't agree with Moyers' point of view, his stuff is always well done.

In the spirit of the Bullshit Generator, here's Buzzword Bingo. Print out some cards and take them to your next meeting!


[24.Mar.00]
Looking for Wrapster? Go here.

Some good Friday lunch-time listening: NPR's Science Friday discusses Internet patents.

A new company, marchFIRST, seems to have used the Bullshit Generator to write the entire contents of its web site (if you're able to get past the Flash intro). Here's a sample:
If you had to imagine the creation of a business today, what would it look like? Dusty business models built around supply chains and economic value added? ...

Not if you're imagining a business with a future.

In fact, you probably had a different paradigm in mind. Something more efficient. Something direct and frictionless in its customer interaction. Something built on knowledge assets and supplied in real-time. Something that only the Internet can capitalize and enable.

All of us are at the beginning of a new wave of business innovation, one that will be triggered by companies who seize the Internet not just as a tool for managing businesses, but as a means of imagining business. Those companies that can envision and sustain a new level of business integration — from business model to operations to customer relationship — will be the leaders in the new economy.
Huh?

If you like the old school, you gotta love Wisconsin sports. The football team is the definition of smashmouth, running the ball down opponents' throats; and the basketball team wins with a team-oriented, disciplined offense and a stifling defense. C'mon, sing with me:
If you want to be a Badger, just come along with me,
By the light, by the light, by the light of the moon.
If you want to be a Badger, just come along with me
By the bright shining light of the moon.
You may want to consider it. Badgers have more fun, leading the nation in number of drinkers and binge drinkers. Woo-hoo!


[23.Mar.00]
In the age of e-everything, here is The Society for the Preservation of the Other 25 Letters of the Alphabet.

A residual effect of the interest in the Bullshit Generator has been an increasing number of quality submissions to the Suck List:

» When MTV stopped playing actual music videos
» the available pool of candidates for election to any public office
» Napster users who keep incomplete songs in their library
» urinal conversationalists

and my personal favorite:

» anti-flash dinosaurs like you

"Dinosaur" is actually one of the nicer things I've been called by Flash fans the past couple of days ...

Swiss designer and typographer Cornel Windlin spoke at the Walker Art Center a couple of night ago. His site would make a strong entry for the 5K contest. Uh oh ... only 10 days left!


[22.Mar.00]
Gahh. If this is boo.com's idea of a faster, easier-to-use interface, they're in big trouble. (Click on "simple mode")

Just when I thought I had the submissions to the Bullshit Generator licked, suck has a link to it. Two words: email tsunami!

Speaking of tsunamis...

In response to the Flash is Evil article, reader Kit Frymier says, "You are talking out of your ass ... Flash's time has come and will be coming like a huge tsunami real soon." God help us all. Think of all the sites you visit on a regular basis for news, weather, sports, stock quotes, nonsensical ramblings ... even entertainment. How many of those use Flash? If excite.com began using Flash on their home page, I'd be setting up My Yahoo! within minutes. Flash is fine, I suppose, for animated shorts or annoying splash screens, but it simply has no place on the vast majority of the Web.

It's fun saying "tsunami."


[21.Mar.00]
TO: dack@dack.com
FROM: The Rhinestone

Someone with taste in movies as bad as yours shouldn't be allowed to view them, much less review them.

Do me a favor: stick to letting OTHER people review movies. You're good at the other stuff you do on your site. You can watch movies, just don't tell ME what you think of them. You have bad taste.

Oh - and you're also a bald-faced Cohen Brothers whore. But then you knew that.

The Rhinestone
(a fan)

Geez, I wonder what the non-fans think.

The Rebirth of Design is a meme at its peak: last week it made the cover of Time and yesterday it was the topic of Talk of the Nation. Boy, Juan Williams sure can't hold a candle to Ray Suarez.

By writing about m-commerce, old fart William Safire has significantly lowered the term's coolness quotient.

Thanks to everyone who submitted terms to the Bullshit Generator; you've help make it the best damn bullshit generator west of the Mississippi. Several hundred terms were sent in, and I've finally gotten around to adding a few of the better ones to the list.

Groove Armada's Vertigo is pretty groovy.


[20.Mar.00]
Reader Craig Ness suggests an R-rated corollary to the Bullshit Generator, with such double entendres as:

» How much traffic can your "back-end" handle?
» Do you consider yourself a "portal?"
» How fat are your "pipes?"

Got any more? Send 'em in.

Men should read this week's supplement to the New York Times Magazine called "Men's Fashions of the Times." Stanley Bing, author or "What Would Machiavelli Do?," contributed "The Ugly Man's Guide to Looking Good," in which he suggests "the more homely you are, the more money you need." There's also a fun rant about goatees and the soul patch.

It's official! Erin Brockovich is entertaining:

"Hugely Entertaining!"
— David Ansen, Newsweek

"Outrageously Entertaining!"
— Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

"Entertaining and Inspiring!"
— Leah Rozen, People


[17.Mar.00]
In the race for top submission to the bullshit generator, "space" is giving "B2B" a strong challenge.

Can someone please help me find a magazine that doesn't have Julia Roberts on the cover?

How much does your name affect who you are? Submit yours (scroll down when you get there) and find out. This is great. The next time someone accuses me of being a tactless, cold, domineering jerk who will most likely go insane, I can say, "Look, asshole, it's not my fault! It's my name!"


[16.Mar.00]
The number of submissions to the Web Economy Bullshit Generator has been overwhelming. A cursory review has determined "B2B" to be the big winner, followed closely by "architecture." It was fun watching a co-worker make bullshit and say, "Hey, I used that phrase in a proposal recently!"

Aussie Neale Talbot has gained weblogging fame, er, infamy, for his useit.com parody and the weblog junior high. There's a bunch of other good stuff at www.wrongwaygoback.com, especially the under appreciated Things That Might Be True, but Aren't (example: Superman is Aquaman's brother). Neale's witty, angry, mischievous ... and I guess that's why I like reading him so much.

Patrick Lynch, author of the popular Web Style Guide, has an article that should be required reading for any web development shop that works in partnership, or subcontracts with, graphic designers. Says Lynch, "When discussing a new Web site people often get obsessed with the home page character and graphic design." Yep. If I had a dime for every time that's happened, well... I'd argue that the home page should be the very last page designed, and that it may not even have to follow the "deep design grid" established for the rest of the site.

Reader Peter Lawrence astutely points out that while Flash (which is evil) might be gone from www.ford.com, it's used liberally at www.jaguar.com. And pop-up windows, too!

Web development shop 37signals has a very unique design (which uses only two images) and a sense of humor: their posting for a web designer asks, "If you were stranded on a desert island without GoLive or Dreamweaver, would you still be able to code HTML? If so, we should talk."


[15.Mar.00]
Holy Image Makeovers, Batman! Behold the transformation of Internet World columnist Nate Zelnick from clean-shaven square to unshaven stud.

BEFORE AFTER
Zelnick

The topic of today's first hour of Talk of the Nation: the taxation of internet commerce.

It's comforting to know that Animal House is alive and well on today's college campuses.

Time magazine, of all places, has a cover story about the rebirth of design in the new "design economy."

AOL is trying to clone Napster.

There is no pain more excruciating than listening to Today Show host Matt Lauer say "Wazzzzzzzup." Oh, by the way, that's a really trendy saying right now.


[14.Mar.00]
At 6:14 yesterday afternoon the Napster music community had over 1,000,000 songs available. Only a few weeks ago 200,000 was a good session.

Decide.com offers handy comparisons of wireless plans and wireless phones. I'm waiting for the Ericsson R380, which should be widely available in a month or two.


[13.Mar.00]
This week's New York Times Magazine has a harsh criticism of the web patent frenzy.
(Note: it's quite long)

Steven Soderbergh is really starting to suck. "Out of Sight" was brutal, "The Limey" was just OK, and now he's offering up a drama, based on a true story, about a working-class single mother who gets a job as a legal assistant. Ugh. Starring Julia Roberts. Double-ugh.

Reader Dan Halsey wrote:
(Regarding your article "Best Practices for Designing Shopping Cart and Checkout Interfaces) what would be the best way to structure the shopping cart screen if the shipping rate was based upon the zip code of the user (UPS Ground/FedEx Overnight) and that information is not captured until the following customer information screen?
Buildscape.com provides a decent answer to the question, by providing a text area for users to enter their zip code and click "Update Cart." Not bad.

Buildscape.com is also notable as an e-commerce site with a sense of humor. If you don't have anything in your shopping cart and click "Your Cart," you get random hiaku messages like:
at the journey's end
the realization dawns
your cart is empty

and

you're just starting out
we see your cart is empty
but is your soul, too?

a fruitless search-engine query gives:

sadness, emptiness
desperation is growing
my search found nothing

and

emptiness returned
no products could be found here
turn not to despair


[10.Mar.00]
Putting together a design for the 5k contest has been at once fun and frustrating: fun because it forces you to be extremely clever in how you design and build your site, frustrating because 5k is so darn small ... the tabs at amazon.com are 4.5k.

The contest is a great idea, but I have a couple of gripes: (i.) it should be for 5k sites only, not 5k pages. A single page just isn't very interesting, and anyone can build a pretty cool 5k page, but can you build a cool 5k site? (ii.) overall site/page size should not be a judgement criterion. I want to see the coolest damn site someone can squeeze out of every last one of the 5120 bytes.

Hey kottke and peterme: everyone's for sale. What's your price?


[9.Mar.00]
If there was ever any doubt that people care about animals a heck of a lot more than their fellow man, here's conclusive evidence.

Corporations now have more to worry about than their employees checking stock prices or sports scores on the company dime: alladvantage.com pays users for surfing the Web, and it works like a mulit-level marketing scheme. One alladvantage member who signed up friends and family got a check in the mail last month for $3000.

A woman who used her rectum to smuggle a gun into a Columbian prison had to have it surgically removed. Apparently Columbian women like to stick drugs and hand grenades up there, too.

Speaking of rectums, I heard on Marketplace last night that a Hong Kong physician is in hot water for performing colon-rectal surgery while chatting on a cell phone. Man, talk about adding insult to injury.


[8.Mar.00]
It was 72 degrees yesterday in Minneapolis, which brought to mind an old Onion article that still cracks me up.

Govote.com offers a service that matches your political views with those of the mainstream presidential candidates, and suggests who you're most (or least) in sync with. Alan Keyes and Pat Buchanan tied for last with a mere 10% vote matches. Sadly the service doesn't offer results for more obscure candidates like Ralph Nader, or my guy, Harry Browne.

Yesterday's Times has an in-depth article about the Napster craze and the scare it's put into the recording industry. Napster CEO Eileen Richardson is obviously an avid dack.com reader as she argues that Napster increases record sales, a point made here a few weeks ago. ;-)


[7.Mar.00]
An insane Frenchman is "walking" across the Pacific Ocean, from Los Angeles to Sydney, Australia. He's sponsored by a French sauerkraut company that's tracking his progress ... and they also supplied him with 22 pounds of kraut for the journey. Yum!

Yesterday's All Things Considered has a hilarious satire of the Bush-McCain mudslinging ad campaign. Listening to the segment requires Real Audio (which sucks) but it's well worth it.

Reader Matt Renfroe was so giddy about having his sleeper suggestion added to the sleeper list, he wrote an acceptance speech:
I'd like to take a few lines to thank some people that enabled me to pick this sleeper. First, I'd like to thank Stardust Coffee & Video for carrying this title, and on DVD no less. Without them, none of this would be possible. Next I'd like to bow to the general movie-going public, their straight-forward sensibilities keep Blockbusters in business by carrying 50 copies of Deep Blue Sea and not much else. And last but not least, a tip of the hat to Esquire magazine for their mention of Hands on a Hardbody that grabbed my attention.
Hmmm ... guess I'll have to rethink my opinion of Esquire.


[1.Mar.00]
I hereby retract all the bad things I've previously said about Flash. In fact, I'm pretty sure Flash is the best damn thing ever.

Internet World once said it may make sense for site builders to copy the design of amazon.com — simply because so many web users are used to its interface — but this is ridiculous.

An old Forbes article made it sound like within-an-hour delivery service kozmo.com was in trouble because founder and CEO Joseph Park blabbed his business plan to some investors who ended up copying it. Looks like things are worked out: a new deal with Starbucks puts kozmo.com drop boxes in their stores, and an IPO is on the horizon. Hey kozmo.com, please come to Minneapolis soon, won't you?

Buzzword watch: Just when you thought you had e-commerce figured out, here comes m-commerce: mobile commerce.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to drink beer, smoke cigars, and play golf until my hands bleed. Back in a few days.


[29.Feb.00]
<Bewilderment, Shock, and Outrage>
People who clip their fingernails in public — especially those at Gate 5, Ronald Reagan National Airport, Monday, February 28, around 5 PM — do not have a place in civilized society.
</Bewilderment, Shock, and Outrage>

Next time you wander past a newsstand, check out the March issue of Harper's (because it's unavailable online). Greg Critser writes a piece about American obesity called "Let Them Eat Fat," arguing that America's thin, health-obsessed upper class may be making a concerted effort to keep the bulging lower classes fat as hell. He offers several extremely provocative explanations for the well-to-do's motivations. My favorite: the affluent own stock in fast-food firms, but know fast food will kill them, so they need someone (else) to keep eating it so as to grow their retirement portfolios.

Gripping article profiling a handful of Russians fighting the war in Chechnya. Highly recommended.

Buzzword watch: First there was "sticky," then it was "viral," now it's "magnetic." Magnetic is when a site (or network) gains value for a user when he brings someone else in. Napster = magnetic.


[24.Feb.00]
The Flash article didn't sit too well with Oven Digital's Sean Lyons:
TO: dack@dack.com
FROM: sean@oven.com
SUBJECT: your [sic] a nerd
No updates for a few days. Going to NYC and DC. On the agenda:

> buy art by Anja Kroencke
> a martini at the King Cole Bar & Lounge
> a bite at 212
> see Willem Dafoe and Steve Buscemi in North Atlantic
> meet Clarence Thomas
> sit in on a Supreme Court argument


[23.Feb.00]
Only enough time today for a lone quickie: get those boogers out of there!

[22.Feb.00]
You're at work. You're bored out of your mind. Hell, a trained monkey could do your job. I know one could do mine. Leave the drudgery behind for a few hours and explore tvparty.com, an A/V history of the boob tube. There's a downright dirty ad for Dole bananas, a '50s spot for a beer called Blitz (ahh, those were the days), and an audio clip of Casey Kasem going nuts. Tons of fun. [Note: RealAudio required.]

Last night I had the pleasure of being stuck behind a Ford Excursion. Couldn't see a damn thing. There's no way this vehicle can fit into a normal garage. It needs a hanger for crying out loud!

[Note: Ford.com has thankfully dropped the extremely irritating Flash splash page. Somebody there musta read the Flash is Evil article. ;-)

Coming to dack.com in a few days: the Web Economy Bullshit Generator.


[21.Feb.00]
Enjoy Salon while you still can. Helen Thorpe writes that Salon will soon be offering flashier news, celebrity coverage, and gossip. And at the current burn rate, they'll be out of cash in 18 months. Of course, before that happens, they'll be bought by AOL or some other media giant.

Say what?! A plug-in that's actually worthwhile? Maybe. The Pixelon Player streams full-screen video to your monitor. It's not TV-quality, as they claim, but it's sure better than those itty-bitty QuickTime movies.

<RANT>
Hey Hollywood Video! You own reel.com, one of the best movie sites on the Web. Why on earth don't you outfit your stores with web terminals?! It would make every movie-renter's life a lot easier, and increase your movie rentals. I'm sorry, but reviews from the pimpled 15 year-olds behind the counter really don't compare with Kenneth Turan, Mike Clark, and Roger Ebert. (Note: the pizza-faced critics are, however, better at picking flicks that the NY Times' Janet Maslin. She sucks.)
</RANT>


[18.Feb.00]
Seen on my office building's men's room door:

TO: All 2nd Floor Tenants
FROM: Property Manager
RE: Vandalism of Restroom Partitions

It has been brought to our attention that someone is unscrewing the restroom partitions and toilet paper dispensers in the men's room on 2nd floor. If you are aware of who is responsible for this vandalism, please report this information to the Property Management Office.

TO: Property Manager
FROM: Dack Ragus
RE: Vandalism of Restroom Partitions

Please leave the sign on the men's room door indefinitely. I get a big chuckle every time I go to pee. Oh, and by the way, it's not me.
Telecom industry analyst Jeffrey Kagan recently toured US West's VDSL project in Phoenix and says:

"I couldn't believe my eyes. I saw them deliver hundreds of channels of high quality digital cable television and pay per view services, high-speed internet access and regular phone service... all over regular, existing, copper phone lines that are already there."
Congratulations, Matt Renfroe! By submitting Hands on a Hardbody as your favorite sleeper, you've won a dack.com souvenir you're likely to treasure for a lifetime. Keep an eye on your mailbox next week.


[17.Feb.00]
Get ready for some debauchery, tomfoolery, and a whole lot of jocularity: themanshow.com. Lovely Vanessa, the Juggy of the Month, says "Click my juggs to see a video clip." Make sure your best gal has a juggy baby doll. Is it possible for Kimmel and Carolla to be any more non-PC?

Separated at birth: Delta house pledgemaster Bluto Blutarsky and web site usability master Jakob Nielsen.

Oops. Looks like thestreet.com's business plan isn't going to work out after all. The exit strategy now: sell. [via reader Mike Manning]


[16.Feb.00]
Web Usability Guru™ Jakob Nielsen recently argued that navigation is overdone on many web sites. The folks at a new Minneapolis web shop called Aveus don't see it that way, and have released a new site that offers more site navigation schemes that you can shake a stick at. They even have true "breadcrumb" navigation that shows a user's click path, rather than their place in the site's hierarchy. I really doubt this is useful, especially since the navigation history is a built-in feature of 4.0+ browsers.

Saw Election again last night, and it's better than any of the films nominated for this year's best picture, including American Beauty. It's a shame so few people have seen it, or even know what it's about. I remember overhearing someone leaving the theater saying, "I thought that was going to be about a presidential election."

Separated at birth: Brenda Warner and Ann B. Davis. If my wife showed up at the Super Bowl in that outfit, I'd have no choice but to file for divorce.


[15.Feb.00]
After seeing yesterday's bumper sticker post, a reader reminded me of an Onion t-shirt that says "End Racism. Kill Everyone."

Speaking of the Onion, the trial of the NYC cops who shot Amadou Diallo 41 times reminds me of a hilarious article about the NYPD apologizing for the accidental shooting-clubbing-stabbing-firebombing death of a Jamaican immigrant.

There's a very good chance nobody cares, but I found a place that sells old-school New Balance running shoes for cheap. Even the "traditional" 990 has gotten to be a bit funky for me, and everything else in this year's collection is so damn ugly I thought I might have to make my 998s last forever. Enter California Best, a running store that offers 80s-vintage 996s for just $59.99. Talk to Manuel and he'll waive the shipping fee!


[14.Feb.00]
Bumper stickers are usually pretty lame, but this one really hit my funny bone: "Save the Planet. Kill Yourself."

Recommended: The newly restored re-release of Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window. Hitchcock beautifully threads the witnessing of a murder with the witnessing of his neighbors' mundane, weird, and desperate lives. And then there's Grace Kelly, who is practically the definition of style, grace, and beauty. Especially beauty. About the closest thing we have to her these days is Gwyneth Paltrow, who couldn't hold Grace Kelly's bra strap.

This may sound wacky, but Napster has probably increased record sales. Let's just say I've got this friend who, um, has been exposed to a whole new world of music that she never knew existed before trying Napster. The only problem is that the Napster community is fairly mainstream, and only the most vigilant user can track down albums from even vaguely obscure bands. So, if my friend wants to discover and explore a new band or genre she originally stumbled across through Napster, she must buy the CDs ... a sale the music industry would never have gotten without Napster.


[11.Feb.00]
Had a couple of beers last night with a buddy who works at US West, and he told me about a service being tested in Phoenix called VDSL, which, depending on who you talk to, stands for either Very Fast DSL or Video DSL. Either way, they've figured out how to send full-screen video over regular telephone lines. I'm not sure who's going to win the bandwidth race, but the need to pay a cable bill and a telephone bill will soon come to an end.

This Spring Break's Abercrombie and Fitch catalog doesn't have all the sex, drugs, and rock and roll that got them in so much trouble last year. Instead they've left a bit more to the imagination, with bare-chested guys "discovering" scantily clad gals, prone, in the middle of a grassy field. Hmmm ... I wonder what happens next?! The catalog makes clear that the new fashion trend is to leave the top button of one's pants or shorts unbuttoned. I'm going to try that at the office a little later today.


[10.Feb.00]
Cool site: moreover.com. News feeds in 243 categories from over 1500 different sources. You can have the headlines emailed to you, or even include them on your own site ... for free. In the offbeat channel, I learned that a collector is selling a single strand of JFK's hair for $800.

Forbes recently published an article that you read, tear out, and keep for future reference: "8 Investing Rules That Have Stood the Test of Time." A gem, especially for the dozen or so value investors still left out there.

Can someone please explain to me the big deal about XHTML? According to the W3C, we need XHTML so the full range of user agents can access Internet content. But perfectly well-formed XHTML documents aren't accessible with web-enabled cell phones, for instance. What am I missing?


[8.Feb.00]
Read a mini-review of "Cider House Rules." Doogie Howser meets Forrest Gump!

Opening this week in NYC: Sex: The Annabel Chong Story, a documentary about a woman determined to break the world record by having sex with 251 men within 10 hours. You go, girl!

Builder.com has published an excellent collection of articles that help e-tailers answer the question "Is My Site Shoppable?"


[7.Feb.00]
If you're like me, you miss "Homicide." Bad. On Sunday, Feb 13th, NBC is airing Homicide: The Movie. The show's best characters are all back for the reunion, including Reed Diamond (my personal fave), who plays the deeply flawed detective Mike Kellerman. Kellerman's one-time love interest, the sexy ME Julianna Cox (Michelle Forbes), is also part of the cast. I've got almost a week to get the VCR set to stop flashing 12:00.

Still more commentary following the very amusing "Unskilled and Unaware of It" study published a couple of weeks ago. Apparently a bad hair day not only lowers one's self-image, it can inspire feelings of incompetence and self-doubt.

Coming soon to a trendy kitchen near you: the wired refrigerator.


[4.Feb.00]
Salon has published an interesting piece about Napster and current "MP3 free-for-all." The best quote comes from Napster CEO and former club diva Eileen Richardson: "Everyone looks at Napster and goes, 'Holy shit!'" That's what I said the first time, too, Eileen. If you use Napster, be careful: there's a security problem that might get you into some legal hot water with the nasty Recording Industry Association of America, and they seem to be suing just about anyone they can.

NeoPoint just redesigned their web site (it's a lot better looking, but a lot slower ... ugh), and with the new site comes a new phone, the NeoPoint 1600. This little company is going toe-to-toe with the likes of Nokia and Ericsson and making some of the coolest WAP-enabled phones on the market.


[3.Feb.00]
Shocking email from a reader regarding The Man Show: "Absolutely the best damn thing ever is GIRLS JUMPING ON TRAMPOLINES. Right now, in the suicidal days on protracted winter, it's the only thing that keeps me going. I especially appreciate the full leg extension where you can see the vaginal ligaments and musculature." Clearly this fella's given the trampoline jumping segment a bit too much thought.

"Dack Ragus, you've been selected to receive a free trial issue of NewBusiness, your monthly guide to surviving and, yes, thriving in the new Web Economy." Do thousands of trees really need to be sacrificed for yet another Web Economy rag?

Somehow, inexplicably, Time magazine put Bob Marley's Exodus ahead of Miles Davis's Kind of Blue as the best album of the last century. If you haven't discovered "Kind of Blue" yet, I highly recommend you give it a try. It never gets old, even after countless listens. Producer and composer Quincy Jones once said, "I play "Kind of Blue" every day. It's my orange juice."


[2.Feb.00]
Ahhh. Tanned, rested, and ready to ramble on.

Don't ever let those surly flight attendants get you down; especially when you're on vacation. My coping mechanism is to recall a verse or two from the Replacements tune "Waitress in the Sky":

BEGIN
She don't wear no pants and she don't wear no tie
Always on the ball, she's always on strike
Struttin' up the aisle, big deal, you get to fly
You ain't nothin' but a waitress in the sky

Sanitation expert and a maintenance engineer
Garbage man, a janitor and you my dear
A real union flight attendant, my oh my
You ain't nothin' but a waitress in the sky
END

Whiz kids from MIT's Artificial Intelligence Lab have created a travel site that savvy traveler Rudy Maxa calls "the most useful display of fares and routes on the Web, hands down." Not only does it display results better than Expedia, for example, it includes fares from more airlines.


[28.Jan.00]
No updates for a few days. Goin' to South Beach to hang with Gwyneth and Leonardo and a few other close friends.

If you've sent an email over the past few days and not received a response, my apologies. I'll get to it upon my return.


[27.Jan.00]
"Fauxhemian" is the word writer Rob Walker has coined to describe the ever-increasing population of the "hip" and "alternative" who also happen to be millionaires. There once was, Walker writes, a decision one had to make between being counterculture or working for The Man. No more. The New Economy has changed all that, allowing many to make gobs of dough and still have purple hair.

Boo.com, which was just critiqued in the most recent Internet World, has laid off 10% of its work force and plans to revamp its web site. Thank heavens. Boo.com is one of the Web's worst-ever examples of form over function ... and apparently they're paying the price. A big e-retail shakeout looms.


[26.Jan.00]
If you've ever wondered why men live shorter lives than women, a series of ads from British clothier Wallis have the answer. (i. thanks, S. Ulrich) (ii. sorry about that damn popup window)

In learning more about Wallis, I came across a great ad promoting the web site of Valisere, the Brazilian equivalent of Victoria's Secret. Viva la Water Bra!

Sunday's New York Times Magazine has a worthwhile article chronicling the ups and downs of .com retailer RedEnvelope. Co-founder Scott Galloway wanted to start an e-commerce biz because he and b-school buddy Ian Chaplin "decided that being a consultant was like being a sex therapist who couldn't get a date." (sniffle) Ouch, guys, that hurts.


[25.Jan.00]
BEGIN RANT
OK. I've been wearing the same khakis for about 10 years. I mean, not the same pair, but the same brand and style. 10 years! I went to restock last night and discovered an embroidered logo above the right rear pocket. Dammit, J.Crew! It's not enough that I buy your clothes? You've got to slap your brand message on my ass?!
END RANT

[Ummm ... you can win an embroidered dack.com hat by submitting a good sleeper.]

Minneapolis consistently brings up the rear in Internet World's Web Performance Index. Netscape.com, for instance, loads in an average time of 1.89 seconds if you're in Philadelphia, but it takes an average of 13.28 seconds if you're in Minneapolis. Why? I want answers!

Also from the latest Internet World: Ron Exler, an analyst with the Robert Francis Group, says, "The next big thing for the Internet may just be connection of wireless handheld devices." What insight! With advice like that we should look for the Robert Francis Group to soon challenge the likes of Gartner, Jupiter, and Forrester.


[24.Jan.00]
David Duval sure seems like a heck of a nice guy, but boy, does he look ridiculous in that short-sleeve mock turtleneck. The new shirt, combined with his trademark Oakley blades, add up to a five-alarm fashion emergency. I'm surprised the PGA Tour is allowing Duval to play in what essentially is a t-shirt. Golf is a game to be played in a collared shirt.

Spend a little time at the sleeper list and you'll surely detect the strong bias towards film noir. Why? Because noir rocks. Starting February 18th, Film Forum, a Manhattan indie/repertory film house, is hosting a seven-week festival to celebrate the genre. The theater has been kind enough to post the full list of flicks that made the cut.

Maybe Shannon Sharpe and Jason Sehorn should educate a few more of their NFL buddies about how to calculate a P/E ratio, or at least how to not be such dumbshits with their money. Jacksonville Jaguars running back Fred Taylor lost $3 million in a Ponzi scheme that a dozen other NFL players got caught up in. Taylor's not happy about it, but is quoted as saying, "I'm real smart with my money."


[21.Jan.00]
About midway through last night's 48 Hours, which was about obese people trying to lose weight, Dan Rather says, "Experts agree that in order to lose weight, one has to burn more calories than one consumes." Thanks for the insight, Dan!

I was beginning to wonder "what ever happened to David Siegel?" Siegel, you might recall, authored one of the most influential web design books ever published. Turns out he's morphed from web designer into business consultant with a book entitled "Futurize Your Enterprise: Business Strategy in the Age of the E-customer." Blech. Siegel has definitely kept a lower profile on the Web, which is a good thing, because he's arguably the world's biggest egomaniac. It's old, but G. Beato wrote a wonderful article exposing Siegel's "auto-mythology."

New word heard on yesterday's Talk of the Nation: "viewsers," which is, of course, a combination of "viewers" and "users."

Mulletsgalore.com has been slightly redesigned. Don't miss this week's "Mullet of the Week."


[20.Jan.00]
And you thought shares in Berkshire Hathaway were expensive. Heard last night on Marketplace that shares in Yahoo! Japan were trading at $1M apiece. Apparently there are only 2,500 or so shares outstanding, which puts Yahoo! Japan's market cap at around $2.5B. Maybe a cool million each is a deal considering Yahoo! USA is valued at $95B.

[19.Jan.00]
Newsflash: Writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson is a guest on tonight's Fresh Air with Terry Gross. Thanks to Jason Joyce for the tip!

Finally got around to seeing Magnolia, and while quite good, it's probably Paul Thomas Anderson's weakest feature-length flick, after both Boogie Nights and Hard Eight. Wow. How'd you like to have that for a filmmaking resume? What's most impressive is that he wrote and directed all of them. And he's 30 years old.

Speaking of "Hard Eight," it's on the sleeper list, and just about everyone who's discovered the movie there has given it an enthusiastic "thumbs up." It features the usual P.T. Anderson suspects (Philip Baker Hall, Philip Seymor Hoffman, John C. Reilly), along with Sam L. Jackson and Gwyneth Paltrow. Quite possibly the biggest sleeper of the '90s.

Ouch! It hurt to fill up the tank tonight. Oil prices at a 9-year high. Sure am glad I don't own one of those gas-guzzlin' SUVs. "But they're safer," goes the refrain. Yeah, when you crush me like a bug I suppose it is safer.


[18.Jan.00]
Behold the power of Cam. The kid links to a Macintosh OS X review by GUI guy Bruce Tognazzini and essentially knocks "Tog's" site offline due to excess bandwidth consumption. (Note to self: never host your site with a place that does that.) Anyhow, I'm not sure the reason for Tognazzini's popularity: in one of his columns he rails against the sorry state of web design, yet he contributes to the sorry state of web design by neglecting to have an index page for his collection of articles, so users get a directory view of www.asktog.com/columns/. Not good, since lots of people love to hack off the end of a url to get to higher levels of a site's information architecture.

Gahhhh! Do not do this:

a:link { color: #330099; font-weight: bold }
a:visited { color: #330099; font-weight: bold}
[Courtesy of the Digital Origin web site.]

Overriding the default link colors so that they're the same is evil web design. The inherent changing of visited and unvisited link colors is the number one navigational cue web users have.


[17.Jan.00]
The popular men's attire at this month's Walker "After Hours" confirmed one of my greatest fears: the mock turtleneck/t-shirt with sportcoat look is back ... with a vengeance. What's next? The return of Miami Vise-esque facial hair?

So-called "friend" Mark Harritt somehow talked me into seeing The Hurricane instead of Magnolia. We are friends no more. Read a bitter mini-review here.


[14.Jan.00]
Good grief! The photo of that cloned monkey looks like a Glamour Shot!

Money magazine columnist Michael Sivy says buying Disney is the safe way to play Net mergers: since the AOL-Time Warner deal, he says, "brands and content just got much more valuable." Disney's got both in spades.

Jakob Nielsen's book Designing Web Usability: The Practice of Simplicity is #1 on Amazon.com's list of computer books and #24 overall. I've only read the chapter on intranets, and there was little, if anything, I hadn't already read on his site or from some other web usability author. However, even if the rest of the book is a repackaging of stuff he's already written, it's nice to have it in one easily accessible, easy-to-read format. Long live books.

See Web Usability Guru™ Jakob Nielsen in a really ugly shirt!


[13.Jan.00]
Last night I whipped up an intranet design for one of my company's business units. It's optimized for IE 4+ on a PC. Let me know what you think. I incorporated some of the incoming web colors for the season (see Jan. 6 post), and some really cool fonts from a Japanese font designer. Thanks, kottke, for telling me about them. It took all my willpower to resist using the Space Invaders characters somewhere in the design:


[11.Jan.00]
The AOL-Time Warner mega-merger got me thinking about a recent Internet World article that proposed Yahoo! might someday buy Disney. The market clearly thinks something with Disney may soon be afoot, as it bid up its shares more than 15% yesterday. If nothing else, the speculation shored up my poorly performing super-cap value portfolio.

Also yesterday, a Talk of the Nation program about the new fascination with old-school machismo was mysteriously cut off, both on the Web and on the radio. Bummer, too, because Man Show co-host and co-creator Adam Carolla was as amusing as ever.


[10.Jan.00]
The actor Michael Douglas has his own personal web site and is offering membership in his fan club for just $39.99/year. All profits will go to charity, but I can't imagine there will be any when you consider that $119.97 (the sum of 3 memberships) will need to support a new web site that will offer: "access to exclusive home photo and video clips, special memorabilia auctions, monthly chat sessions with me, message boards, screensavers, news updates, and more."

[7.Jan.00]
Do you have any money? The New York Stock Exchange is having a huge sale on a lot of great companies, and an especially deep discount on a real keeper: LU.

[6.Jan.00]
The January/February issue of Communication Arts identifies a handful of incoming colors for this year, and I guess black is out. "... the base color is changing from black to earthy colors and bright splashes," says fashion guy Bill Marpet. Is there any connection between what's hot in fashion and what's soon to be hot on the Web? Here are the browser-safe equivalents of what's incoming:

         
Cerulean Hot Coral Opaline Green Primrose Yellow Toast

Hmmm that Primrose Yellow sure looks familiar ;-)


[5.Jan.00]
I'm on a mailing list with a guy named Brian Michelich. Brian doesn't have his own web page, nor does he return my emails (hardly alone in that category), but he is adept at finding some of the best sites on the Web. A while back he schooled me on adcritic.com and now he's got me raving about phonebashing.com: a collection of six QuickTime movies that feature two guys dressed up as giant cell phones. They grab phones from unsuspecting gabbers, smash them on the ground, and run like hell. Highly recommended.

Though phonebashing.com has stolen a bit of my thunder, watch this space for the first episode of Cell Phone Theater: entitled "The Restaurant," an annoying cell phone user gets what's coming to him.

By the way, AdCritic has the new Jenny Craig ad featuring blowjobbing blimp Monica Lewinsky. She's lost 31 pounds!


[4.Jan.00]
Definitely worth checking out is American Movie, a very funny and sometimes touching flick about a charismatic but dirt-poor filmmaker trying to make a feature-length film. The belly laughs fade as you go, and it can get a little long in places, yet it's a thoroughly enjoyable and compelling story about one man's determination to live the American Dream.

[3.Jan.00]
The latest PC Magazine features a new site called iExchange.com that tracks amateur stock analysts. It's a novel idea that does bring some accountability to a few of those pushing shares in Canadian mining companies, but do they really expect people to pay $2.00 for a research report from a user named Wild Thang?

[1.Jan.00]
Fight Club has some strong competition for title of most overrated movie of 1999: The Talented Mr. Ripley. There are only a handful of good things to come out of this psychological thriller that is boring, not thrilling:
1. Cool '50s clothes.
2. Cool '50s Italian cars.
3. Cool '50s Vespas. Lots and lots of Vespas.

The talented Mr. Cranky puts it best when he states that "Mr. Ripley's main talent is being an imbecile." Thanks, Mr. Cranky. You rock.

Besides the clothes, cars, and scooters, the best part of the entire filmgoing experience was watching the trailers, which identified five movies to avoid in the new millenium:
The Skulls (Yalies' secret society thrills, kills)
Angela's Ashes (Irish period piece)
The Beach (Leonardo DiCaprio)
Gun Shy (Liam Nesson in a romantic comedy)
Mission: Impossible 2 (Tom Cruise)

Mr. Cranky's going to have a lot of fun with these.


lyrics I dig
"Just because you won't unlock your door, that don't mean you don't love me anymore."

— Steve Earle


email: dack@dack.com© 1998-2017 dack.com