New York Times and Judy Miller Speak Up

OK, it’s been a while since I’ve said anything about the investigation to find the traitor(s) who revealed Valerie Plame’s identity as a CIA agent. For the most part though, the news of the last month has been a fairly confusing swirl of rumors, so I guess there’s not much to add to that.

Today the New York Times published two notable articles that deserve some reading:

The Miller Case: A Notebook, a Cause, a Jail Cell and a Deal
My Four Hours Testifying in the Federal Grand Jury Room

The first is the Times’ account of what was going on internally at the paper while they were simultaneously trying to prop Miller up as a martyr to press freedom and also trying to contain newsroom resentment that Miller had screwed over their reputation on WMDs. The second is Miller’s own account of her grand jury testimony. While the first article soft-pedals the account a bit, there’s still plenty for the Times to be embarrassed about.

The most glaringly obvious problem with Miller’s account is that on the one hand she claimed that she only had one source to her information about Plame: Scooter Libby. Her deal with the prosecutor to only testify about conversations with Libby was reportedly based on that claim. But then later she claims that an early reference to Valerie Flame (sic) in her notes was not from conversations with Libby. And then on top of that she pulls a Reaganesque defense that she forgot who the source was for those notes, but she’s really really pretty sure it wasn’t Libby.

In any case it is quite a discrepancy to go from one source to two sources, even if she doesn’t remember who the other one was.

OK, make that three 7+ magnitude quakes I’ve felt

2005/10/15 23:51 Magnitude: 7.0 No.: 148 (1015235170148)

10月15日23時51分 規模:7.0 編號:148 (1015235170148)

It was waaaaaaaay off the east coast though, so it was only enough to wake me up here in Taipei.

Thanks For All The Phish

I’ve been a fan of the network consulting group Netcraft for something like ten years now. I’ve been following their web server surveys for ages, and at one time I managed to get into their most requested sites list. One of their newer services is the Netcraft Toolbar which is designed to warn you when you visit risky sites, and also blocks known phishing sites.

When they recently released their Firefox version, I installed it. As a test I pulled up some recent phishing emails and tried it out. Most of the sites were detected, but a few were new enough that they weren’t. I then noticed that it allowed you to submit new phish sites to them. After submitting a few I got an email saying that if I was first to report a phish site, I’d be eligible for a prize. I submitted a few where I was the first reporter and Netcraft asked me for an address to send me a prize.

It’s been a bit busy, so I had almost forgotten about it. Today I got a package from CafePress which had me scratching my head wondering who was sending me something. I opened it up and found a nice mug with a Netcraft logo emblazoned on it. This will be nice for making nice steaming cups of hot chocolate as the weather grows cold. Thanks Netcraft!

(I also got the October/November issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine today.)

Apple Really Gets It

Back when Napster was king, and the only legal online music stores either had an eclectic selection (emusic) or hopelessly restrictive DRM, I was convinced that if someone could just come up with a comprehensive, easy, and non-cumbersome way to buy music that it would be a hit. Then Apple came a long and did it, and legal online music finally took off.

Over the past couple of years the online piracy battle has turned to movies and TV episodes. I’d been thinking again along the same lines I was thinking about music 5 years ago that if someone could just come up with a way to get current TV episodes available for sale at a modest price, that legal online TV episodes would take off. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but it turns out that Apple has done it again.

Apple has now made current TV episodes available in iTunes Music Store. The selection is a bit dismal, but it’s a good start. Current hits Lost and Desperate Housewives are two of the series on offer. The other three series are ones I’d never heard of: Night Stalker, The Suite Life and That’s So Raven. OK, so it’s a bit slim pickings for now, but hopefully it’ll get better. Individual episodes are priced at $1.99, though they have the same price for both hour long and half hour shows which is a bit weird.

Now for the downside: Unlike their audio offerings, currently Apple does not allow you to burn video episodes to DVD. This is unfortunate as watching video on a computer often isn’t as nice as watching on a TV. I’m hoping for them to lift this restriction in the future. I haven’t actually downloaded a video yet, so I’m not sure about the video quality either.

Some suggestions for Apple:

1) Lift the burning restriction!

2) Offer a “season pass” subscription where one can subscribe to the entire current season and have new episodes downloaded as soon as they are released.

3) Beef up the catalog. Here’s some suggestions I think would really get noticed: 24 and Battlestar Galactica. Personally I’d also like to see the Law & Order series, and West Wing.

4) Along the lines of the free songs promotion, make deals with new series to feature a free episode per week.

Losing weight

Since June I’ve been making an actual effort at losing weight, and it seems to be working. Mostly I’ve been trying to walk more places instead of taking the bus or subway, and also reducing snacks and sodas. Otherwise I haven’t modified my diet much; no counting calories or fat content or anything like that. I also got a treadmill in August because Taipei weather is often not very conducive to walking. (Too damn hot in the summer, damp and drizzly in the winter.)

I started in June at 106kg (for those of you using archaic measuring systems, multiply by 2.2). Before our US trip I was down to 102.2kg. I’d lost enough weight that two strange things happened that I hadn’t experienced before: 1) my belt became too big 2) I could fit into my old jeans that are a size smaller than my current ones without them being tight. I was worried that I’d lose ground on vacation, but I’m down to 100.8kg now, so I guess there was enough activity on the vacation to keep things on track.

I don’t really have a goal as such right now, but I figure if I can make it down to 90kg that’ll be pretty good progress. My goal is to do the equivalent of about 3km of walking per day, either on the treadmill or through actual walking. For actual walking the Google Maps Pedometer lets me trace my route on a map to see how long it is.

Getting Windows XP to speak multiple languages

Until recently, Windows XP could only handle one language per installation. This is fine if your household only uses one language, but it gets to be a hassle for those where multiple languages are commonly used. To further aggravate the situation, it’s hard and expensive to get, for example, an English language Windows XP in Taiwan or a Chinese Traditional language Windows XP in the US. And even if you did manage to get versions of the languages you need, you’d have to set up a cumbersome multi-boot system to be able to use both on the same computer.

Other OSes, such as MacOS, Solaris, and many Linux distributions have been localized with multiple languages, and allow a single computer to offer a localized login with different languages for each user account. That way you could set up one account for English, and the other account with Chinese Traditional, and then everyone could get all the menus in their preferred language without all the hassle.

This capability is now finally becoming available for Windows XP. Microsoft has designed a four disk package called the Multilingual User Interface (MUI) which allows you to add on a couple of dozen different localized language packs to your Windows XP system, including most of the world’s major languages.

Until recently, the MUI was only available to corporate users with Volume Licensing contracts. Now it is available to OEM system builders as well. Although OEM versions of XP are supposed to only be sold with a new PC, it is possible to buy them alone through some dealers. The MUI is not yet available as a separate product, so you have to shell out for another license of Windows XP. The product number for XP PRO SP2 OEM w/ MUI in the US is E85-04057 and should cost US$150-160 by mail order.

I recently bought a copy of this, and installed the Chinese Traditional package on my desktop system. After installing it, I went into the Control Panel and clicked on Regional and Languages Settings. Under the Languages tab was a new menu for choosing the language for the account. I left my own account with English, and set the Guest account that my family uses to Chinese Traditional. After logging out and logging back in, all the menus in the Guest account were now in Chinese. This will certainly make it easier for them to use my computer.

I know a few of your who read this journal are either multilingual yourselves or are in a multilingual household. I highly recommend getting a copy of the MUI for your computer.