Douglas Adams has passed away.
Disappointingly, this hasn’t received much press. In the most recent
Newsweek, for instance, he has a sentence underneath the notice
of Perry Como’s death (which, admittedly, is also a sentence). Perhaps I’m
looking in the wrong places; I imagine the science fiction sites have all
mentioned it by now. Perhaps a lifetime spent around science fiction fans
have caused me to overestimate his fame. I guess it doesn’t really matter.
They’ve created an entry for him at the
online hitchhiker’s guide
linking to several obituaries, tributes, his work at the guide and
elsewhere, and a discussion area.
(I found all this, by the way, through
discussion area that was referenced by
It’s funny how these things work. When I first heard the news (at church,
strangely enough) I was saddened but not strongly affected. Writing this
up, though, has been surprisingly difficult. I have a physical sensation of
loss that surprises me, since I’ve known about this for two days and all I’m
doing is writing about it. I guess that makes it real.
Sfstory, of course, was greatly influenced by
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, as can be seen in the
occasional encyclopedia entries, the brief cameo appearance of Arthur Dent and
Ford Prefect, and the endless variants of “Space is big.” I’m sure he never
heard of it, but nevertheless it stands as a tribute to his best-known work.
Since I last wrote, the young finches on our porch
have grown feathers and flown away. I did manage to get some pictures, and
I may eventually post them. While our porch does seem quiet and empty now
that they’re gone, this does give us a chance to take down the wreath, which
was fading fast, and clean up all the finch droppings. We’ll have to see
what happens next year.
Speaking of birds, you may recall
RFC 1149, which proposes a protocol for
distributing internet packets via carrier pigeons. It took eleven years, but a
group of hackers has taken the April Fools joke to the next level and
Strangely, the day after I came across that site, Salon ran
an article about it, saving me the trouble
of doing a lot of background research to try and explain it.
Techie humor is a strange thing. Some people might not see the point in
determining how to transport IP
packets over carrier pigeon networks, and especially not for actually getting
a bunch of pigeons and tying printed out packets to their legs. For me,
these things are worth doing because they're pointless: that’s what
makes them funny. Roger Ebert once described humor as taking something silly
and treating it with complete seriousness, and this is a perfect example.
And, in a weird way this demonstrates how truly flexible the internet
protocols are. Granted, the latency is high—a ping took six million
milliseconds—but the wonder is that it works at all. Still, I don’t think
the wireless networking folks have much reason for concern.
iCab has been updated
recently. The most important new feature (for me, at least) is the partial
CSS support. As usual, iCab
has gone the extra 1.6 kilometers and included a way to specify user stylesheets.
That’s right, sheets. As in, plural. You pick which one you want (if any)
from the View menu. Better yet, iCab manages not to horribly screw up pages that
use CSS features it doesn’t
support, unlike certain popular browsers that start with “N”.