one day at a time…
Sunday, 19 October 2003

Pix Of The Day: Familiar But Never Hackneyed View
CREDITS: © Andrew Leaney/Leaney.org MAP: Blea Tarn (and detail).
Thumbnail click pops-up larger image.

Blea Tarn © Andrew LeaneyBlea Tarn towards the Landale Pikes must be one of the classic views in the English Lake District. We have featured similar views before, but we thought this to be one of the best we have seen. Andrew Leaney has another view on his web site, taken on a wonderful Autumn day in Lakeland, on a walk round the valley of Little Langdale. Three CAM site pictures have brought us close to experiencing home sickness. Two of those were taken by Andrew

On This Day In 2002: Nobody Is Perfect In Every Way - Sat, 19 Oct 2002
CREDITS: © David J. Farber/DJF home page. Thumbnail click pops-up larger image.

David J. Farber © David J. FarberYesterday we made a facetious remark about academics liking to attach long names to things: today, missing an archive entry for the appropriate day, we Googled "19 Oct 2002" then stumbled across David J. Farber, who is The Alfred Fitler Moore Professor of Telecommunication Systems in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and Professor of Business and Public Policy at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

Early in 2000, David was appointed Chief Technologist at the FCC (Federal Communications Commission), a body renowned for its ability to sense the policy direction in which any current administration wants to go. We hope he gave them a rough ride. He was named as one of the most powerful twenty five people in networking in an issue of Network World magazine. Wired Magazine, issue Sept 1996, said he was the Paul Revere of Cyberspace.

The achievements listed on his web site are extensive, and his resumé clearly defines him as a technologist with clout. We were most impressed firstly with his Apple Macintosh laptop, seen in our feature picture for today. We confess that when we first saw the thumbnail of that picture, we thought David was a TV evangelist: we were only half right as usual. What he evangelizes is more temporal than spiritual.

Secondly his irreverence and disrespect for copyright holders, celebrated here by stealing his picture even though the official publication released one is perhaps more flattering. Our eagle eyed readers will doubtless notice the title of his homepage is macpond (more kudos), and features at the very top a logo for the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation: motto 'Defending Freedom in the Digital World').

Thirdly his invention of the Farberism: surreal garbled sayings that have a meaning despite their confusion. One of his best known sayings, a reflection on the anarchic nature of the movement of information about the Internet, was "Photons have neither morals or visas". Nothing unclear in the thinking or the expression in that sound bite, which he used as an email sig.

David also has the common touch: about 25,000 people receive his personal mailing list Interesting-People.org. In an interview, David said that he would be allowed to maintain his list while working for the FCC. "I couldn't have accepted the job otherwise," he said. At FCC Towers they must have wondered what kind of a square peg they were trying to fit into one of their comfortable round holes.

We also respect the man who spoke as an expert witness in the Microsoft hearings: "In general, designers have a huge amount of flexibility in how to package these files, the same way you have a large amount of flexibility in how you put things in a grocery bag, as long as you don't crush stuff. Software is infinitely malleable." Many saw this as the death blow to Microsoft's assertion that it had to integrate its browser into the operating system desktop. When obfuscation is raised to an art form, genius is needed to articulate what any idiot should know to be the truth.

This item specifically revolved around the date of 10 Oct 2002, and that was the date on which David's web site was last updated. It seems that only people like us, on whose hands time lies heavily, can afford the overhead of keeping web pages updated.

Further research updates David's circumstances: he has resigned posts at the University of Pennsylvania, is no longer the FCC Chief Technologist, but does hold the posts of Distinguished Career Professor of Computer Science & Public Policy in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, which is brief to the point of terseness compared with his last title. He holds secondary appointments in the Heinz School of Public Policy and the Engineering Public Policy Group.

Although we hesitate to offer advice to someone in such a lofty position, here goes: Dave, ya gotta do sumptin' about that web page! It is one of the worst we have ever seen. Now you have left UPenn, deletion seems a good option. On the other hand that would leave this page with broken links.

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Jules Laforgue (1860-1887)
"Ah! que la vie est quotidienne."
Oh, what a day-to-day business life is.
'Complainte sur certains ennuis' (1885)