"The only blog we have to fear is blog itself."

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Someone ate the brown acid 

Last year, an outlet mall north of Pittsburgh opened at midnight after Thanksgiving to get a jump start on the shameless day-after orgy of shopping that has become wedded to the holiday tradition. The response was so huge that it nearly shut down a nearby interstate, as traffic from the mall overwhelmed the mall parking lot and backed up for miles.

They're doing it again tonight, while reassuring shoppers that all vehicles will be accommodated this time. But, oh, how they speak of 2006's chaos with a misty-eyed nostalgia!

Get a load of Michele Czerwinski, senior marketing manager for the mall:
"From a business and marketing perspective, it was the most exciting thing that I ever experienced in my life. I don't know what Woodstock was like, but I felt like it was this little secret sale that everybody knew about."
Yes. Woodstock.

Except instead of being the defining moment for a cultural youth movement, it's about 40% off Banana Republic shirts.

As a side note, if they're so confident they'll be avoiding the gridlock from last year, how come their tips for better enjoying the shopping experience (.pdf) include the suggestion "Fully Gas Up the Car"?

Thank goodness I'm working on Friday.

Monday, November 12, 2007

About 19 years ago.... 

From Time Magazine, Nov. 14, 1988:
It is one of the least publicized achievements of the computer revolution: a huge, arching communications network connecting 60,000 computers by high-speed data links and ordinary telephone lines. Developed by the U.S. Department of Defense's Advanced Research Projects Agency in the late 1960s, Arpanet, as the information grid is called, has carried everything from unclassified military data to electronic love notes sent from one lonely researcher to another. But last week it became the conduit for something much more dramatic: one of the most sophisticated and infectious computer viruses the world has yet seen.

The trouble surfaced in computer centers at two institutions that serve as major network links: M.I.T. and the University of California, Berkeley. Last Wednesday night computers at both centers started furiously generating unwanted electronic files, clogging up their storage systems and slowing operations to a crawl. Almost immediately, similar problems began turning up at other centers throughout the network, from the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington to New Mexico's Los Alamos National Laboratory. Within hours, operators shut down thousands of machines across the country to quarantine them, severing their connections to other computers and rendering productive work all but impossible.
At the time, The New York Times still included the word "virus" in the phrase "computer virus" in quotes. The NYT, Nov. 8, 1988:
The Federal Bureau of Investigation began an official criminal investigation today of the computer ''virus'' that crippled a nationwide Pentagon data network last week, and officials indicated that a decision on whether to prosecute the author of the renegade computer program was near.

Charles Steinmetz, a spokesman for the bureau, said an informal inquiry into the computer incident over the weekend uncovered ''enough elements there for the Federals to investigate it officially'' as a probable criminal act.


The man suspected of planting the virus in a Cornell University computer terminal, Robert Tappan Morris, a 23-year-old graduate student at Cornell University, appeared briefly with his father outside his parents' home in Arnold, Md., this afternoon, but declined to discuss the incident.
Morris now teaches at MIT.

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