Public Speaking on Privacy

Every time I give a talk, I find I enjoy it more. This is scary.

I prepared for the talk by spending almost the entire day working on my Python program, stopping only when I noticed it was time to drive up to the Center. That was much more relaxing than honing my presentation would have been. And I even made good progress on the program; I hope to actually start using it tomorrow.

Command Performance

I didn’t expect to be updating my ‘blog today; I thought I’d be too busy working on my privacy presentation for tomorrow, or maybe hacking my Python program. But I got the presentation done early this afternoon, or as done as it’s going to be until I decide to revise it ten minutes before showtime, and I find that if I program late in the evening, I have a hard time getting out of that mode so I can go to sleep. So here I am.

Besides, Diane is in a class this week and asked me to write something in my ‘blog so she’d have something to read during the dull parts. To be honest, I’m not sure that this particular entry is going to be much more interesting than the class, but how can I say no to such a charming requestor?

But really, today was a quiet day; I concentrated on doing work at work — I even managed to submit an expense account that’s been on my queue for a week, so perhaps American Express will not be unhappy with me.

Hormel throws in the pig.

Still looking at broadband alternatives for the house; people on DSL Reports have some good things to say about Earthlink and LinkLine and Raw Bandwidth. Nobody seems to talk much about the cable alternative, at least not on this site — anyone using @Home in Los Gatos?

They claim that it’s going to be cooler tomorrow evening. I hope so; it’s amazing how fast it got hot. On Monday evening, I was joking that we might have to turn on the furnace; tonight, I thought we might need the A/C, but the house peaked at 75 degrees, and now we have a cooling breeze coming through the windows.

And on that note, I end tonight’s command performance of Defenestration Corner. Good evening!

Power's back; I am too, sort of

Almaden survived the weekend powerdown just fine, though the climate control in my office seems to have been a bit weird today. And I survived a weekend without Net access — but I’m starting to look for a DSL or Cable ISP that serves my area and does a decent job. Any hints?

It’s going to be a busy week at work. I’m mentoring a new professional hire; on Thursday, I’ll be giving a presentation on privacy at the Silicon Valley World Internet Center Pub (y’all come…drinks are free!); and I’ve gotten started on a small Python programming project to help me deal with NNTP-based services.

And it’s also a busy week at home. This Friday is one of the two opportunities a year we get to throw away more than one can’s worth of junk in a week, and I have a lot of sorting to do. I don’t really have to worry about paper stuff, since they’ll always take an unlimited quantity of recyclables — but this is my chance to get rid of some of the other stuff which I tend to accumulate.

So I don’t expect to be posting much for the next few days.

Opting Out

Speaking of privacy, here are two handy links.

If you want to opt-out of the tracking that advertising networks like DoubleClick and AvenueA do to your browser, go to, then click each checkbox and hit the “Submit” button.

And if you don’t like the X-10 pop-under ads which are suddenly all over the Web, go to and you’ll be opted out of them for 30 days (it looks like the window still appears, but then it disappears all by itself). [Link courtesy of Dan Gillmor.]

The last of the 5-1/4 inch diskettes

I was doing some housecleaning last night and realized that I had a shelf full of 5-1/4 inch diskettes, but I haven’t had a computer in the house that could read them for about a year. So I tossed them out (I couldn’t think of any way to recycle them).

Out, 1981 taxes!

Out, PC-File!

Out, Word Perfect!

Out, TapCIS!

But I couldn’t bring myself to discard absolutely everything — when we ordered our original IBM PC in 1981 (we got such an early enough machine that it only had 64KB on the motherboard and one-sided diskette drives), we bought three pieces of software to go with it. MS-DOS 1.0, Microsoft Adventure, and VisiCalc. The first two programs are long gone, but I found the VisiCalc diskettes last night and decided to hang on to them for no good reason — after all, I have nothing which can read them! But maybe they’ll be collectables someday.

Offline till Tuesday

I get my Net connectivity through work — my home system is behind the firewall, right on the building LAN. It’s very convenient. But this weekend, Almaden is having its twice-yearly site powerdown and major maintenance — and so my connectivity will vanish when they flip the big switch.

I expect to cope just fine, and hope my silence doesn’t distress any of you.

Have a great weekend, and Shabbat Shalom!

Party time!

If the US were a parliamentary democracy, Dubya would be facing a vote of no confidence now, thanks to Senator Jeffords. Of course, I haven’t had any confidence in Dubya since the first time I heard he was running for President!

After a fun and exciting two-and-a-half hours in the dentist’s chair this afternoon, I drove to the
Silicon Valley World Internet Center in Palo Alto to see what their Thursday Pubs were like. I’ll be speaking there next Thursday on Internet privacy (my title: “Privacy isn’t just the law, it’s a good idea!”) and I wanted to get an idea of the way the audience interacted with the speaker. I learned one important lesson from my trip — I need to be brief. People are there to network and partake of the refreshments; the speaker is there to provide a focus, but not to take too much time away from the real reason people come. That information alone made the trip worthwhile — and the beer wasn’t half bad, either.