March 1

"Nothing Is Perfect" Has Leapt

The blog is now on dolben.org. This is the last entry that will be on comcast.net.

There might be a few glitches with links, some of which had to be edited by hand. I’ll fix ‘em as I find 'em.

posted @ 12:25 AM EST

Dolben Family Tree

I’ve put the beginnings of genealogical data, displayed and managed by PhpGedView, for the family tree that includes the Dolbens I know on dolben.org. Contact me if you are not too distantly related and would like to become a user so that you can see more information or can add some missing data.

posted @ 10:41 PM EST

March 2

Using Safari in Mac OS X to Get Certificate from Thawte for Mail

In an article on setting up encrypted email on Mac OS X (10.3) in MacDevCenter, the author describes using Mozilla to get a digital certificate from Thawte. I found that Safari works as well up to the point of fetching the certificate, and then works even better; automatically putting it on your keychain where it’s ready to be used by the Apple Mail client.

posted @ 02:45 AM EST

March 3

Taking Advantage of Opportunity

Opportunity outcrop The stunning success of NASA’s current double-barreled, robotic reconnoiter of Mars, in finding that water once flowed on the red planet, underscores the value of unmanned, extraterrestrial exploration. The mission, which was designed to determine whether or not there was ever water on Mars, has served its purpose well and has produced the provocative, positive result. If the goal is learning, what additional benefit could be gained by putting a man on Mars, and at what additional cost? The greatest historical effect of the rover Opportunity’s discovery may be a national policy that places more emphasis on robotic probes of space, and less on manned space adventures.

posted @ 02:23 PM EST

March 6

Hubble Finds van Gogh Image at the Edge of the Milky Way

Starry Night The Hubble Space Telescope’s image of V838 Monocerotis brings van Gogh’s Starry Night to mind. From the Space Telescope site:

This image, obtained with the Advanced Camera for Surveys on February 8, 2004, is Hubble’s latest view of an expanding halo of light around a distant star, named V838 Monocerotis (V838 Mon). The illumination of interstellar dust comes from the red supergiant star at the middle of the image, which gave off a flashbulb-like pulse of light two years ago. V838 Mon is located about 20,000 light-years away from Earth in the direction of the constellation Monoceros, placing the star at the outer edge of our Milky Way galaxy.

posted @ 02:03 PM EST

March 7


I filled out the pedigree of my paternal grandmother, through her great-great-grandparents, where holes in the information I have start to appear.

posted @ 12:50 AM EST

March 9

Google Found "Nothing Is Perfect"

Finally, at the moment, Googling for “Hank Dolben” turns up the old “Nothing Is Perfect” blog. Now that it has a clue, let’s see if Google will pick up this new location.

posted @ 02:15 AM EST

March 10

Rye Junior High Spring Concert

Last evening we went to the Rye Junior High Spring Concert which included a program by the Seacoast Wind Ensemble with and without the eight grade band.

posted @ 02:02 AM EST

Safari Doesn't Load Applet Tagged with Object

In HTML 4.01, the <applet> tag was deprecated in favor of the <object> tag, and so is disallowed in XHTML 1.0 Strict. To my astonishment, Apple’s Safari doesn’t load applets tagged in the standard (c. 1999) way, though current versions of Mozilla and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer do.

Maybe I’m missing something in the specification. Here’s a snippet:

        width="240" height="280"
        <param name="NDNG.PLACES" value="4" />
        <param name="NDNG.DIGITS" value="10" />

posted @ 09:47 PM EST

March 11

Added Another Generation and Ancestral Line to Edward Doty

I made some more additons to the Dolben Family genealogical database:

  • my paternal grandmother’s great-great-great-grandparents, where I have information about only six couples
  • the ancestral line from one of them, William Sherman, (born 1704, died 1786) to Edward Doty, three generations

posted @ 06:57 PM EST

March 12

More Navel Googling

At this moment, Googling for “Hank Dolben” turns up www.dolben.org.

posted @ 08:15 PM EST

March 13

Safari Does Load Applet Tagged with Object

It turns out that Safari 1.2 does load applets tagged with <object>, but only if the deprecated attributes “code” and “type” are used, as in the following:

      width="240" height="280"
      <param name="NDNG.PLACES" value="4" />
      <param name="NDNG.DIGITS" value="10" />

In either case - using <applet> or <object> - HTML 4.01 Transitional is forced by Safari to get Java applets to load.

posted @ 10:11 PM EST

March 15

A.Word.A.Day Has RSS Feeds Now

A.Word.A.Day has RSS feeds. Thanks for the notice, Dave.

posted @ 05:20 AM EST

Notes for Editing the Dolben Family Graph

I’ve written some notes for Dolben family graph editors, family members who want to contribute to the sharing of our genealogical information.

posted @ 03:26 PM EST

March 16

CNN Notices the RSS Web

For those of you who still aren’t quite sure what this news feed stuff is about, here’s a little introduction by CNN. Hmm, it doesn’t mention any RSS feeds from CNN.

posted @ 12:00 AM EST

Code for the N Digit Number Game

I’ve put the code and generated package level documentation for the N Digit Number Game (of which Mark4 is an example) online. Note that the implementation has a history of about twenty years, beginning with a version written in Pascal for the DECsystem-10, and design artifacts persist in the current code. The Java version was written in December 2000, and just edited to use the “org.dolben” namespace and to improve the leveraging of javadoc.

I think that the most interesting part of the software is the monitors algorithm, which won a little contest of programs playing against each other in those days of yore.

posted @ 06:00 PM EST

March 17

"There Are More Things in Heaven ...

and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.“

The following is the lead of an article in NewScientist.

The most distant object ever seen in the Solar System appears to be even stranger than first suggested, after astronomers revealed full details of the discovery.

Nicknamed Sedna, for an Inuit goddess of the sea, the object lies three times as far from the Sun as Pluto and appears to be about three-quarters Pluto’s size.

posted @ 11:40 PM EST

March 18

Keep Your Head Down Tonight

Tonight, according to calculations done at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (and who would doubt them?), a smallish asteroid, about 100 feet across, will pass at a distance from earth of about 10% of the distance to the moon. See “Closest asteroid to pass Earth approaches.”

posted @ 02:35 PM EST

Petey's Opened Yesterday

Petey’s Summertime Seafood & Bar opened yesterday, between about four inches of snow the night before and another couple last night. I supposed that they had green beer, so I didn’t go.

The new Google Local finds it!

posted @ 06:49 PM EST

March 20

Speaking of Spring...

The first day of spring (the equinox at 6:49 UTC today) around here is just another opening to talk about the weather, in this case, the past winter.

posted @ 12:47 PM EST

March 21

Summary of the Evidence for Water on Mars

Michelle Thaller, an astronomer, not a geologist, but most assuredly a communicator, does a nice job of summarizing the evidence that the Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, discovered for there having been water on Mars. Among other things, it’s the Blueberries. Especially well brought out is a sense of the methodology employed by the scientific mission planners. That and a fair amount of good luck have produced a spectacular result.

posted @ 09:31 PM EST

March 23

Ripping Off MathPad

PMC In the last couple of days I’ve returned to a project that I had just barely got off the ground a few years ago, a Java rip-off of MathPad, which is a very cool numerical analysis application (fancy, graphing calculator) that runs on Mac OS. One of the nice attributes of MathPad is that it is very handy to use for small calculations - the ones you’d pull out your handheld to do - and yet is powerful enough to do things that you’d be crazy to try with your handheld calculator, even if it’s programmable.

Having been hooked on MathPad from the time of its creation, I have suffered withdrawal pains whenever I was in some job situation where a Mac wasn’t on my desktop, and so, am doing something about it. Of course, I’m doing the development on a Mac, but the program will run on any system with a sufficiently up-to-date version of the Java Runtime Environment. If some other job doesn’t get in the way, I plan to release an early version, in a week or so, of my infant application dubbed “fnPad” and pronounced “fun pad”.

posted @ 06:29 PM EST

March 25

Infant fnPad

A very early version (0.1) of fnPad is available for trial. Please let me know if you’ve tried it, and what you’ve found about how it works for you.

fnPad is a text editor based (a calculation consists of editable text in a window) programmable calculator written in Java.

posted @ 02:54 AM EST

fnPad Diaper Change

The infant fnPad needed a few little changes to add a couple of missing things and fix a couple of little problems; another day, another version (0.11).

posted @ 08:05 PM EST

March 26

On the Road Again

I got the bike back on the road today, for the first time this year, and managed a 17.9 mph average over a 19.3 mile loop, in spite of taking the slightly disadvantageous direction along the beach - not great, but pretty good for this time of year. Over the winter I used a trainer around four times a week for an hour, giving me a good head start on the season.

posted @ 06:58 PM EST

March 28

Heroin Doesn't Touch All

A letter to the editor, written by my son Will, was published in today’s Portsmouth Herald. Ain’t I the lucky one?

posted @ 07:16 PM EST

March 31

Motorola to Buy Quantum Bridge

Quantum Bridge, one of the hot, tech bubble startups, which sucked up bunches of engineers and then spit them out when the bubble burst, survived long enough to be acquired by Motorola.

posted @ 12:57 PM EST

Googling Weapons of Mass Destruction

Given the evanescent nature of Google’s results, I don’t know how long this will last, but I can’t resist passing along the following: type (or copy and paste like a power user) “weapons of mass destruction” (with the quotes) into Google’s search field and click the I’m Feeling Lucky button, just as if you were Hans Blix. Until the quixotic page rank reshuffles its deck you’ll get this clever ad.

[Should have saved this one for tomorrow?]

posted @ 04:31 PM EST