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September is over!

Yes, it's finally true, AOL is pulling Usenet access. Unfortunately, Usenet is pretty much a dried up corpse at the moment, so losing the AOL crowd is probably not sufficient to save it from the rampant spamming and idiocy that makes it what it is today.

I remember being particularly wedded to Usenet back in the early-mid 90's, when there were actual communities of helpful people talking about interesting topics and only moderate numbers of flame wars ensuing on the side. Pretty much every ISP had Usenet access as part of the standard package, and there were really good newsreaders around for all the platforms. Thanks to Google Groups, the content from that era isn't lost, though the interface to it sure has gotten a lot worse, especially since Google's last "upgrade". You can even track down my first Usenet post, which is kind of amusing.

As many of you know, I first got into Mac programming back in the early-mid 90's by writing JPEGView, but I also wrote another utility called uuUndo, which was a very slick uudecoder built specifically to parse multi-part newsgroup posts in random combinations and order, and extract the resulting binaries. I wrote this mainly to interface with NewsWatcher, which was an excellent Mac newsreader written by John Norstad. To test this, we would do the "All Bods" test, which was to use NewsWatcher to go to alt.binaries.pictures.erotica, and then type Cmd+A (select all) and Cmd+B (extract binaries) and just watch the two programs churn through many megabytes of porn.

It was really just for testing, honest. :-)

The ultimate Revenge of the Sith accessory

Darth Tater. Need I say more?

12 records or cassettes for only a penny!

Remember those ads? I remember joining one of those record clubs back when I was a kid and only had a cassette player, and then joined again when I upgraded to CDs in order to beef up my collection (which is approaching 1000 these days -- yikes!) Well, now it looks like record clubs have moved into the 21st century. Apparently BMG (formerly RCA if you were into record clubs) has come up with a new Netflix-like scheme: put a bunch of CDs you want into your queue, and once each month you'll get one CD mailed to you for $6, shipping included.

Of course, the real question is, do they have anything available you (a) don't already have and (b) would actually want, even for $6? :-)

Cyberball for real?

Looks like the folks in Japan take their robots seriously -- they are claiming that they will have a World Cup-class robot team by 2050. Even though the technology is still on the primitive side, it would be interesting to see one of the RoboCup games mentioned in the article.

In good company…

While I would claim to be no John Carmack (real 3D math makes my head hurt), it looks like we both had similar ideas of converting to blog format to start the new year. I always did think that the .plan files were a bit outdated.