Don Larson mentioned a Palm application called FirePad on his site a few days ago, and it was the first time I’d ever heard of it. The program is very cool.

Basically this is an application for viewing large image files on handheld screens. Convert a large image file to the FireViewer format, transfer it to your Palm, and the program lets you scroll through the image.

The company’s business model seems to be enterprise-level solutions that handle the conversion of images on the fly and can serve up images over a network, so someday you could connect to your companies Intranet and request a map last years sales figures for North America broken down by product, and have a scrollable image of that map automatically transferred to your handheld.

Very cool. Once color screens become common on handhelds there are going to be a lot of cool applications like this.

Identification Required to Buy Video Games

Today K-Mart and WalMart announced that they will start requiring picture idea for people who want to buy violent video games. And that means everyone will have to show ID. The retailers plan to set it up just like with alcohol or tobacco, where the cash register prompts the teller to ask for ID.

This is insane. The last time I was in a WalMart and K-Mart they both stocked toy guns, as well as an assortment of other violent toys (I was lusting after a Phantom Menace lightsaber at the time). How long before they stop selling toys to children as well?

The funny thing is they are not even going to target the really dangerous games — the turn-based strategy games. Apparently they are only worried about the effect that playing Duke Nuke Em or Unreal: Tournament will have. I would have no problem with my kid playing those games. What worries me is when my wife is playing Civilization II and she starts lobbing nuclear weapons all over the place (she regularly violates numerous principles of international law), or when she switches to Alpha Centauri and I catch her nerve stapling her population. Now that is something to worry about.

Sudan Cracks Down on Women Workers

    Apparently there’s some sort of competition going on between Sudan and Afghanistan over which nation can be the most extreme in its restriction on women.

    The Taleban had begun to loosen up restrictions on women before tightening down again last month with broad restrictions on working women, including shutting down small business run by widows. Sudan decided to try to keep pace by banning women from working in any part of Khartoum, the capitol, where they might come into contact with men.

    Police have already begun making the rounds ensuring that no woman is working in gas stations, hotels, restaurants and other public places. According to Khartoum Governor Mazjoub al-Khalifa, the ban is actually good for women. The BBC reports al-Khalifa said:

This is to honor women, uphold their lofty status and put them in the appropriate place that respects the values and observes the tradition of our nation.


Anger at Khartoum ban. The BBC, September 6, 2000.

The Houston Texans?

CNN reports today that a name has been chosen for the National Football League expansion franchise in Houston, which was left without a team when the Oilers moved to Tennessee and renamed themselves the Titans. I thought Titans was a stupid name, but now the Houston team has decided to call itself the Houston Texans. Yuck. If I spent $700 million on a football team like Houston owner Bob McNair did, I would go out and hire the guy or girl who came up with name for the Toronto Raptors to come up with a real name so I would not get stuck with Texans (actually, if I had $700 million I would not be buying a football team — I don’t see too many of these teams that have much of a long term economic upside; I would bet the long term return investment for professional, A-level sports teams in the NFL, NBA, etc., is relatively low compared to other businesses). CNN notes that this is the franchise that the NFL tried real hard to give to Los Angeles — see, I knew that “Romeo Must Die” was based on a true story.

I love football, but right now am going through serious fantasy football withdrawal. A couple years ago a friend convinced me to join his ESPN fantasy league. The problem is I am obsessive in everything and I hate to lose. So for the last two years I would spend about an hour a day during the week keeping up on football news, making trades, etc., and then plant my butt with my laptop in front of the TV on Sundays (I reached the point where I was trying to tape ESPN football analysis).

It worked — both years I had the best record in the league, winning the championship the first year and then getting blown away thanks to injuries in the playoffs last year. But this year I decided I could probably make better use of my time in other endeavors (plus like I said I hate losing and did not enjoy getting knocked out of the playoffs).