Marine Technology

San_Francisco_Oakland_Bay_Bridge_Zan_810

This morning was very foggy. In my daily ferry trip to work I learned a little about marine technology. I had assumed that, here in the 21st century, ships, like the ferry I ride to work, used some combination of high resolution GPS, radar, and maybe radio telemetry triangulation to identify where the ship was and where everything else in the bay was (other ships, the bridge pylons, etc.) I found out this morning that this must not be the case. As we trucked along, at a pretty good clip, across the bay with zero visibility of any kind, all of a sudden, the engines go from about 3/4 of full thrust to zero thrust. The whole boat lunges forward as we rapidly decelerate (due to water resistance) and out of the pea soup appears the massive bay bridge center anchorage dead ahead. The captain turns the boat sharply to the left and we swing around it and accelerate again. I’m glad our captain has good reflexes.

Later, upon landing and walking to work, the entire embarcadero was echoing with different ships fog horns being blasted.

It turns out that the two methods employed these days to deal with fog are slamming on the brakes if you see something ahead of you and making a ton of noise in hopes that someone else out there hears you and doesn’t crash into you. I thought we were living in the future, what happened?

Origin of Cementhorizon

In 1999 the internet landscape was very different from what it is today. In the absence of free services for things like weblog hosting, photo hosting, group collaboration, etc. Google had started the year before and was at the time merely a search engine (one the blew yahoo and altavista out of the water, but still a search engine).

It was in this environment that I envisioned a website to try to keep this community of people (my friends and theirs) in contact despite physical separation as people moved away to colleges and other towns. I happened upon the site design that I made in 1999 (before implementing it a couple years later) and thought I’d put it up here. At the time there was no cementhorizon and the provisional name was “Tree Group” because that was the name of the group of people in high school (we all hung out at lunch around a specific tree). These are just notes laying out ideas for what would go on the site and how it would work.

Tree Group Conceptual Layout


POP and Web Based Access to Email Addresses

 


Hosted Web pages

  • www.domain.com/username or sitename.domain.com (with
    FrontPage server Extensions)

 


Monthly Newsletter

  • Note from me
  • updated What’s Up pages
  • upcoming Calendar Events
  • For Sale Listings
  • Movie/Book Reviews

 


Databases

  • User Database (#201)

    • username [INDEX VALUE]
    • password
  • Group Database (#202)

    • Global Group number [INDEX VALUE]
    • Owner’s Username
    •  
    • 0 : unmasked [set owner to nobody]
    • 1 : masked (from everyone) [set owner to nobody]
    • 2 : group mask (group 1001)
    • 3 : group mask (group 1002)
    • etc.
    • group 1 is the first group saved by any user
    • Groups from group mask consist
      of list of unchecked (masked) usernames
    • Groups from the photo gallery consist of the
      members in the photo
    • groups 100-1000 are single user groups (e.g.
      group101 : gwood / group 102 : dsmall / etc)
    • Multi-User groups begin at 1000
  • Contact Database (#203)

    • Each Field has and associated mask value from Group
      Database (#202)
    • UserName [INDEX VALUE]
    • First Name
    • Middle Name
    • Last Name
    • Home Phone
    • Parents Phone
    • Home Address
    • Parents Address
    • Work Phone
    • Work Address
    • Secondary Phone Number
    • Tertiary Phone Number
    • Primary email address
    • Secondary Email address
    • Tertiary Email Address
    • ICQ Number
    • AOL IM ID
    • Yahoo Messnenger/Pager ID
    • Pager Number
    • Cell Number
    • Other Wireless Number
    • College Name
    • Homepage
    • What’s Up Text
    • PGP Key
    • Default Prefered Address Book Format
      (Netscape/WAB/Outlook)
    • Default number of Thumbnails per Page
  • Event Database (#204)

    • Event ID# [INDEX VALUE]
    • Event Title
    • Begin Date
    • Begin Time
    • End Date
    • End Time
    • Owner UserName
    • Description
    • Post it in the Newsletter? [True/False]
    • Mask Value (Who’s Invited)
  • Photo Gallery Database (#205)

    • Photo ID# [INDEX VALUE]
    • Owner username
    • Date
    • Date Accuracy [True/False] (True : Accurate /
      False : Guess)
    • People in the picutre as a Group ID# from Group
      Database #202
    • Total Number of Ratings Votes
    • Total Value of all Ratings Votes
  • Discussion Group Database (#206)

 


Web Site Universal Pages

 

Event Description Page (#100)

  • Event Title
  • Begin Date/Time
  • End Date/Time
  • All Events (Listed By Title and Linked to Each Event
    Description Page (#100)
    ) on the same day as Begin and
    End
  • Event Owner (Linked to mailto:)
  • Event Description
  •  

Create Virtual Group (#101)

  • Every Member Listed In a List
  • CheckBox Next to each Name
  • For mask group default is everyone
    checked (checked means you can see the information and
    are considred unmasked)
  • For derivitave of mask group photo
    gallery member search : default is everyone is unchecked
    (checked means that you will have to be in the picture to
    return a hit)
  • Save Virtual Group [give it a name and it’s saved,
    associated with the user that created it]
  • Clearly stated privacy information so that the user knows
    that only he/she will see/have access to the saved mask
    group
  •  

Date Description Page (#102)

  • List of all events Beginning or ending on the date [each
    one linked to Event Description Page (#100)]
  • This day in history link
  •  

User Page (#103)

  • Homepage
  • Contact Info [phone,email,icq,etc]
  • link to search photo gallery for user as member
  • link to search photo gallery for user as owner
  • link to mailto: for all email addresses + wireless pager
    email address + ICQ pager email
  • current picture
  • what’s up text
  • user owned Schedule Events
  • ICQ online/offline graphic

Schedule : Events

  • Event – Post in the Newsletter?
  • User events – Variable
  • Group events – Variable
  • This Day In History – No
  • Concerts – No
  • Holidays – No
  • Solctices – Yes
  • Sunset / Sunrise – No
  • Art Exhibits – No
  •  

Mission Statement (#104)

  • To provide a means by which everyone can have the ability
    to stay in contact with those that they wish to at the
    same time limiting contact to those they wish to avoid
  • To enrich the members lives by providing event
    information for gatherings, concert information, birthday
    notification etc.
  • To provide easy access to information concerning means of
    staying in contact, including long distance companies,
    calling cards, cheap flights/transportation, etc.
  • To provide a location to call home on the web by
    providing free web site space, and free email accounts
  • To provide access to pertinent information concerning
    members protection of thier privacy and anonymity on the
    internet through introduction to personal encryption
    technology, anonymous remailers, and masking firewalls.
  • To provide a clearinghouse for group related pictures so
    that everyone can have access to a giant photo album

Meta Tag Mirror Index Pages (#105)

  • Multiple ancillary main pages containing Meta Tags filled
    with the members names that auto refresh/redirects to the
    main page
  • Members Names formated as John Doe / Doe, John / J. Doe /
    John Middle Doe / J. M. Doe / etc.

 

Display Page (#106)

  • Image
  • Rating 1..10 radio buttons
  • Email Owner link
  • Members
  • Date of Picture + Date accuracy
  • Event Name [linked to Event Description Page if
    the event exists

Web Site Public Hierarchy

  • Mission Statement (#104)
  • Meta Tag Mirror Index Pages (#105)
  • Public News [pertaining to web site business]
  • List of hosted web pages
  • Request for admission form (voted on by current members)
  • Link to Members Area
  • Hosted Web pages [www.domain.com/username or
    sitename.domain.com] (with FrontPage server Extensions)

    • How to build a homepage, links to help and
      software
    •  
  • Portal Search Fields [yahoo, excite, lycos]
  • Keeping In Contact
    • Long Distance Carrier’s Cost comparison, how to
      save money
    • Calling Card cost comparison
    • Airling Ticket advise, how to book, special price
      email listservs
    • Amtrak costs
    • Bus costs
  • Description How to set the Tree Group Web Site as your
    browsers default HomePage
  • Public Key Encryption Information
    • What it is
    • Why to use it
    • How to use it
  • ICQ Information
    • What it is
    • Where to get it
  • For Sale Listings (classifieds for crap)
  • Incest Court ?????? (Members Area?)
  • Spy Stories
  • Movie Reviews
  • Book Reviews
  • Sunset / Sunrise Data
  • Cool Links Page
    • Yahoo Cool Picks
    • Slashdot sites
    • Other Cool Listing compilations
    • Allmusic.com
    • IMDB.com
    • webmuseum
    • propoganda / mirrored in BMP format for windows
    •  
  • Recipes
  • Voting Questions

Web Site Members Area Hierarchy

  1. User Database Personal Settings [default [mask/unmask/mask
    group
    ] setting is unmask]

    • Email Address
      • Linked to mailto:name@domain.com
    • Primary Phone Number [mask/unmask/mask
      group
      ]
    • Parents Phone Number [mask/unmask/mask
      group
      ]
    • Primary Address [mask/unmask/mask group]
    • Parents Address [mask/unmask/mask group]
    • Current College Name
    • ICQ Number [mask/unmask/mask group]
      • Linked to ICQ Personal Communication
        Center
    • AOL Instant Messenger ID [mask/unmask/mask
      group
      ]
    • Yahoo Pager/Messenger ID [mask/unmask/mask
      group
      ]
    • Current Picture
      • Linked to Gallery Search on Self
    • Secondary Email Address
      • Linked to mailto:name2@domain.com
    • Pager Number [mask/unmask/mask group]
    • Pager Email Address [mask/unmask/mask
      group
      ]
    • Cell Phone Number [mask/unmask/mask group]
    • Birthday [data placed in Shedule Database]
    • Schedule Page
      • Listing of upcoming events that you
        control [leaving school / returning to
        school / BBQ your setting up / your
        birthday / etc]

        • Each Event is linked to Event
          Description Page (#100)
      • 8 Fields for School Schedule
        • Drop Down Box [Go back to school
          / Leave School]
        • Date
      • Personal Events
        • Begin Date / Time
        • End Date / Time
        • Radio button description
          [Birthday, Anniversary, other
          (fill in field)]
      • Group Events
        • Begin Date / Time
        • End Date / Time
        • Description [BBQ, movie etc.]
        • Notify [No / Whole Group / Mask
          Group
          ]
        • If [Whole Group] or [Mask
          Group
          ] Then Notification
          Design (Directions, Time, What to
          bring, etc.)
        • If [Mask Group]
          Then Goto Create Virtual Group
          (#101)
          Check box selection of
          names
    • What’s Up [Current wrap-up of what is going on in
      your life]

      • classes
      • signifiant others
      • religious epiphanies
      • piercings
      • current musical tastes
      • current plans for school, job, love, life
        etc.
      • Date of most recent update
    • PGP Key
    • Homepage [link to homepage]
    • Link to Audio file for addition to email program
      ["You’ve got mail", "I just sent
      you an email, Bizo"]
  2. User Database View List
    • Default Category Display
    • Check Box selection of columns to display
    • Pull down menu of common display settings
      • everything [all fields]
      • phone numbers [fields with phone numbers
        in them]
      • snail mail [Physical Addresses]
      • internet pressence [email addresses,
        homepages, ICQ etc]
    • Title of each column linked to sort by catagory
    • Search for Text in Field/Fields
    • Listing [for Masked Entries Leave Blank]
      • Name [Linked to User Page (#103)]
      • Email Address [Linked to mailto:user@domain.com]
      • Phone Number
      • Address
      • Parents Phone Number
      • Parents Address
      • ICQ Number [linked to ICQ Personal
        Communication Page]
      • AOL IM ID
      • Yahoo Pager/Messenger ID
  3. User Database Download Address Book
    • radio box / submit selection of format [Netscape
      1.x/Netscape 2.x/Outlook 95/WAB/etc.]
    • Link to form for requesting a new file format
  4. Photo Gallery [Database FileName / PictureOwner /
    PictureMembers]

    • Top 10/25/50 Pictures based on Ratings from Display
      Page (#106)
    • Search by Members
      • And / Or
      • Check Box Member Selection (Derivitive of
        Create Virtual Group (#101) for mask
        group
        )
    • Thumbnails per Page [Number]
    • ThumbNail linked to Display Page (#106),
      Under thumnail is Source that is
      linked to the image file (for download) and the
      file size [eg Source 148kb]
    • Information On submission howto
      • Specs for scanning images (resolution,
        color, etc)
      • How to mail them to me to scan for you
  5. Web Based Email Send / Recieve [username@domain.com]
  6. Discussion Group
    • Read Discussion Group
    • Create New Thread
    • Post to Discussion Group
  7. Current Calendar
    • Generate Calendar from Database
    • Current Months Calendar
      • Layout in Basic Calendar fasion 7X4
      • Number 1-30 in each box links to Date
        Description Page (#102)
        containing
        verbose listing of that dates events
      • Each Day Containing Title of Event Linked
        to Schedule Event Description Page
        (#100)
      • For Days containing more that displayable
        [more…] which links to Date
        Description Page (#102)
      • Each Event contains Begin Date/Time and
        End Date/Time ,

        • If Event has Different Begin/End
          Dates it is displayed twice, once
          on the beginning date and once on
          the end
        • If Event has same Begin and End,
          it is listed once on that Date
        • Specific Begin End Date Time is
          contained on the Event
          Description Page (#100)
  8. Security Description and Privacy Information
  9.  
Written By Eugene Wood
Date : Aug 9 1999

This is what it takes to determine the price of service from Comcast

Here’s the transcript of the chat and what it took to find out how much it costs to get internet services from Comcast. All to find that internet costs $59.95 per month.

Jessica: Hi, I’m a live Comcast product specialist. Would you like my help checking out?
Jessica: Just type your question below.
You: How much does “performance internet” cost if I don’t get cable TV as well, after the 6 month promotional price ends?
Jessica: I’d be glad to assist you with our internet special offer.
Jessica: Please click on the orange ‘Move chat window’ button to make it a window of its own. That way, you’ll still see this web page while we chat.
Jessica: Thank you for moving the chat.
Jessica: Just to check before we move on, are you a current Comcast customer or have you had Comcast service within the last 120 days?
You: No, just trying to find out the price for a new customer
Jessica: i see, thank you for considering comcast.
Jessica: For Performance special offer for new customers, that is $29.99 per month for 6 months.
You: I’m asking about the price “after the 6 month promotional price ends?”
Jessica: After 6 months it will be $44.99 per month for 7-12 months.
You: and that’s with only internet, not cable TV?
Jessica: That is only for internet service.
You: Does the price of $44.99 per month for 7-12 months for performance internet require that the customer have cable TV?
Jessica: If you currently have cable service with us which is not under promotion, that is $19.99 per month for 6 months.
You: no, what I’m asking is : In order to get the price of $44.99 per month for 7-12 months for performance internet is the customer required to also have cable TV?
Jessica: No, you do not need to have cable in order to have internet service with us.
You: I understand that, but do I need to have cable TV in order to get the price that you’re mentioning for performance internet?
Jessica: No, that is the price without cable service.
You: I understand that it’s the price without cable services, but am I required to have cable TV services in order to get that price for performance internet?
You: I think I’m not being clear
Jessica: You are not required to get cable in order for you to get this price of the internet.
You: got it.
You: And what is the price after 12 months?
You: What is the price for performance internet if the customer does not subscribe to cable TV after the 7-12 month period?
Jessica: After 12 months the price will run from $42-$60.95 per month.
You: How is the price determined? What price would it be within the range of $42 to $60.95?
Jessica: The price will vary depending on the area.
You: What would the price be in the zip code 94501
Jessica: I am sorry to say but I can only give you an estimated amount of the services you are taking cause only our specialist on the last step of the order process can give you the exact amount before you will commit to any order today.
You: how can I speak with or chat with that specialist
Jessica: I would recommend that we proceed with the sign up process so you can connect with our specialist who can provide you the exact fee.
You: when you say “connect with our specialist” is this over chat or phone? I would like to go straight to that person because I’m just trying to find out the cost of the product.
Jessica: Yes that is over chat.
You: Please connect me with that specialist.
Jessica: I am sorry but you can only be connected to them once you process your order, no worries cause rest assured that the amount will not be that high,and you can discontinue the order if the price does not work for you.
You: You’re saying that I can’t find out how much the service costs until I’ve ordered the service?
You: That doesn’t make any sense.
You: I have to know how much it costs before I decide to order it.
You: That would be like going into a store, taking an apple up to the counter, asking how much it costs and the cashier saying “You have to buy it before I can tell you how much it costs”
You: Perhaps you should just transfer me to the specialist that you’re referring to and I can ask him or her what the price is

Jessica: Okay, I am sorry for the inconvenience.
You: Thank you
Jessica: I will connect you to our specialist now. Please wait for the link I will send you.
You: Thank you
You: Will you send me the link in this chat window?
Jessica: Have you successfully connected with the Order Entry Specialist?
You: I’m not sure. I’m chatting with a guy named “Darwin” in another window. I’ve asked him if he’s a “Order Entry Specialist”
You: He is
You: thank you for transfering me Jessica
Jessica: Please chat with the agent on the other window, he will provide you the exact amount of the service you are asking.
Jessica: Is there anything else I can help you with today?
You: No, thankyou
Jessica: Thank you for choosing Comcast. It has been a pleasure assisting you.
Jessica: Have a great day.

user Guest has entered room
Guest>
Order Information
analyst Darwin has entered room
Darwin>
Hello Guest_, Thank you for contacting Comcast Live Chat Support. My name is Darwin. Please give me one moment to review your information.
Darwin>
Welcome to Comcast Chat Sales! I see you are interested in adding Comcast services.  It’s my pleasure to process your order and answer any questions you may have throughout our conversation.
Darwin>
May I know if you have an existing account with Comcast.
Guest_>
Hi Darwin. I’ve been working with Jessica
Darwin>
I understand.
Guest_>
Here is the transcript if you’d like to catch up with where we’re at :
Guest_>
Jessica: Hi, I’m a live Comcast product specialist. Would you like my help checking out?
Jessica: Just type your question below.
You: How much does “performance internet” cost if I don’t get cable TV as well, after the 6 month promotional price ends?

You: Thank you
Jessica: I will connect you to our specialist now. Please wait for the link I will send you.
You: Thank you
Darwin>
Are you still chatting with her?
Guest_>
She’s in another window. Did she transfer me to you?
Darwin>
Customers will be automatically routed here.
Darwin>
I understand that you have typed in your information, will you verify the following information for me please:
1. Complete Name
2. Complete Address with Zip code
3. Contact Number/s
4. Email Address
5. Services Ordered
6. Preferred Date and Time of Installation
Guest_>
Darwin, are you an “Order Entry Specialist”?
Darwin>
Yes I am.
Guest_>
Gret
Guest_>
Great
Darwin>
I do apologize, we are currently having a system maintenance and I am not seeing the information that you entered here in my end. No worries! I would still be able to process your order, just please provide me with the following: 1.) your full name, 2.) full service address with zip code 3.) One or two contact numbers and 4.) the service/s that you want to order.
Darwin>
No worries, I can take your order from here until we complete everything for you.
Guest_>
I’m not looking to order service, I’m looking to determine the price of service.
Guest_>
What is the price for performance internet if the customer does not have cable TV, after the first 12 months in the zip code of 94501
Darwin>
May I have the complete service address so I can check that here for you.
Guest_>
Sure, xxx xxxxxxxxx st. Alameda, CA 94501
Darwin>
Kindly stay online as I check the order here on my end.
Darwin>
Do you have any Internet service from other provider/s?
Guest_>
Let’s say no (I’m only trying to find out the price)
Darwin>
I understand.
Darwin>
Good thing you were shopping online.
Guest_>
Jessica said that after 12 months the price is between $42 and $60.95
Guest_>
per month
Guest_>
And that the price depends on the customer location
Guest_>
I’m trying to find out the price for 94501
Darwin>
I understand. I am still waiting for the information to load here. Kindly stay online.
Guest_>
No problem
Darwin>
Is this the exact address, xxx xxxxxxxx st. Alameda, CA 94501?
Guest_>
Sure. I can give a different address if that will help you get me a price
Guest_>
You can try anything on that block (xxx xxx xxx etc)
Darwin>
This is the price – Performance – Special Offer $29.99 per month for the first 6 months. 
 
Darwin>
Offer ends 9/21/11, and is limited to new residential customers. Not available in all areas. Offer limited to Performance Internet. To qualify for offer, service must be ordered via www.comcast.com. After first 6 months, monthly service charge goes to $44.99 for months 7-12. After 12 months, or if any service is cancelled or downgraded, regular charges apply.
Darwin>
Regular rate will be $$59.95 per month and if you have no modem there will be a modem rent of $7.00.
Guest_>
So after 12 months, with my own modem, and without having and cable TV services, the price would be $59.95 – $7.00 = $52.95
Guest_>
Is that correct
Guest_>
Sorry, typo there. Meant to say :
Guest_>
So after 12 months, with my own modem, and without having any cable TV services, the price would be $59.95 – $7.00 = $52.95
Darwin>
No, that will be $59.95 with or without the modem.
Guest_>
ah $59.95 is the price for the service without a modem. $7.00 to rent a modem. So with my own modem it’s $59.95 and renting a modem it’s $59.95 + $7.00 = $66.95
Guest_>
is that correct?
Darwin>
That is correct.
Guest_>
Great, thanks for the information. Have a nice day.
Darwin>
You are most welcome!
Darwin>
Would you want me to process the order for you?
Guest_>
No thank you.
Darwin>
I am happy to help you today.

Surreal moments living in the Castro

I’ve been hanging out at home for days now sick as a dog, I came out to make some soup and am now sitting at my computer reading about all the ruckus going on at the end of the block. I’m reading about the filming etc. and the guy on the massive PA system directing all of the extras down the street who are simulating a march, hands the mic over to Carrie Fisher who recites a kind of a poem which takes her monologue that she records for Obi-Wan Kenobi and combines it with sentiments about gay rights. I really pray that this is actually happening and not just a result of my seemingly never ending fever.

Locke, Goosebumps, Sparkle and Old Men

goosebumps_label.jpg

Last night I went to the 2007 Sparkle SF annual champagne and sparkling wine event with my journalist girlfriend. It took place at the St. Regis Hotel in downtown, a shockingly posh place. We went to the press meeting with Kimberley Locke from American Idol and heard her talk about her commitment to charity work. We then went and tasted wines, snacked on fancy hors d’Ĺ“uvres, watched a charity auction, and listened to Locke sign a few songs. At the auction I got to see a rich girl bid $3500 for a trip to Iceland. After the benefit I met Jack and saw No Country For Old Men, the new Cohen brothers film.

Findings of the evening :

  • Rich people food tastes really good.
  • I actually like champagne/sparkling wine, which I’d previously though I didn’t. Turns out I just don’t like the cheap stuff.
  • Though I didn’t taste all of them, of the ones I did taste the 2006 Goosebumps Sparkling Shiraz by MollyDooker was the best.
  • Locke is a good singer, but I still prefer Duncan Sheik for my adult contemporary.
  • The new Cohen brothers film is great. It’s actually suspenseful. I can’t remember the last time I watched a movie and was gripping my legs and truly didn’t know what was going to happen. The film breaks many rules that I’ve come to subconsciously rely on when watching a movie which really make it stand out. It’s brutal and violent and dirty and real. If you can stomach it, I highly recommend it.