January 2007
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Month January 2007

Local winter storm warning

When the weather gets as severe as it does around here, we learn to take warnings seriously even if the actual weather probably will not be as bad as they anticipate. After a summer of record-breaking heat, the winter has so far been mild.

They’re saying that ends tomorrow:

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN NORMAN HAS ISSUED AN ICE STORM WARNING…FROM 6 PM FRIDAY TO 6 PM CST SUNDAY.

.PERIODS OF FREEZING RAIN WILL OCCUR BEGINNING FRIDAY NIGHT AND CONTINUING THROUGH SUNDAY. HEAVIER PRECIPITATION WILL LIKELY OCCUR FRIDAY NIGHT WITH ANOTHER ROUND EXPECTED SATURDAY EVENING INTO SUNDAY MORNING. SLEET MAY MIX WITH FREEZING RAIN ON SUNDAY BEFORE THE PRECIPITATION ENDS.

ICE ACCUMULATIONS OF ONE HALF INCH TO ONE AND A HALF INCHES ARE EXPECTED WITH THE MOST SIGNIFICANT ACCUMULATIONS EXPECTED TO EXTEND ALONG THE INTERSTATE 44 CORRIDOR. ICE ACCUMULATIONS AND WINDS WILL LIKELY LEAD TO SNAPPED POWER LINES AND FALLING TREE BRANCHES. THIS MAY RESULT IN EXTENDED POWER OUTAGES IN SOME AREAS.

Some of you may recall that in February 2003, GCSF World Headquarters and its entire neighborhood lost power for over three days. Roads were passable even as power lines were covered with ice, so we decamped to another part of the state for a couple of days. That was up the “Interstate 44 corridor,” though, so we’re not sure we could do that this weekend.

We have plenty of options if the power goes out for more than a few hours; we learned lessons in 2003. We have food and can find local shelter if necessary. This server, providing news and issue distribution, is co-located in Oklahoma City with its own power; mail and local internet services at GCSF World Headquarters are completely separate. Even if we lose local power or Internet, this server won’t go down, though mail may not reach us for a few days.

(If you’ve been with MDJ for a long time, you may know that we didn’t have a secure subscription page until 1998. If you subscribed before then, you probably called us; if you called, you probably talked to Marie. She says “hi,” but she’s even more prepared than we are – in 2003, her house was without power for sixteen days. The backup generator and power cut-off switchover are all tested in the past few weeks and ready to go, you can believe it.)

We’ve rebuilt the RSS feeds today so MDJ 2006.01.09 (with pre-keynote Macworld Expo coverage) is now in the MWJ RSS feed. We’re working on more – yesterday we managed to get NetNewsWire (a primary news collection source) down to 2 unread articles from a peak of, I believe, 3785. (It was at zero on Tuesday morning.)

If weather interferes there may be more delays, but we’re prepared to work around them as best we can. Theoretically, the more prepared we are, the less likely we are to need any of those preparations, so there we go.

A reminder to MWJ readers – issues await you NOW!

We’re well aware that the previous issue of MWJ was in early November 2006, and we’re not trying to pull anything over on you. We’ve made no secret that the security topics we wished to tackle throughout the last half of 2006 kicked the crap out of us, and only in December did we start getting a handle on them and cranking through the topics.

What we want to remind MWJ subscribers today is that, by policy, while MWJ is delayed, you get free issues of MDJ in MWJ’s stead. If you want to read them, they’re in the secure MWJ RSS feed to which we distributed usernames and passwords either on 2006.07.02, or if you subscribed after that, when you signed up. (Sorry, free trial subscribers – RSS access is only available with full subscriptions.)

Just use the username and password we shared with you in Safari or NetNewsWire (or any RSS reader that supports both enclosures and secure pages) and you’ll find every issue of MDJ since the last issue of MWJ was published. (The issues are only available to MDJ subscribers for the first 48 hours after publication, but as soon as we rebuild the feeds after that, they’re added automatically to the MWJ RSS feed if the last issue of MWJ was published more than a week earlier.)

Right now there are 26 pages of MDJ waiting for you, mostly on security but with a few other topics. MDJ 2007.01.09, just published, has another 11 pages of current news and product announcements for Macworld Expo week, and that’ll be available in the MWJ RSS feed by Wednesday Thursday morning if MWJ hasn’t been published by that time.

We’re really doing our best through the difficulties to provide you with as much information as we can, but we simply feel it’s inappropriate to distribute issue of MDJ to you in E-mail because, well, many of you don’t want that much E-mail. RSS allows us to make those issues available to you now, just a click or two away if you want them now. Please feel free, as the scripted text in the RSS feed says, to “download, decompress, and enjoy!”

Updated: Thursday morning. Tuesday + two days = Thursday. We knew that. We think. It’s very busy this week. (Does the iPhone have a calendar?)

A free style guideline

…for writers covering next week’s big trade show in San Francisco:

Macworld Conference & Expo. Macworld Expo is acceptable on first and subsequent references. Never just Macworld—the stand-alone name refers only to the magazine, not to the trade show.

Note that there are no capital W letters in any spelling of the trade show or the magazine.

Please pay extra attention to spelling if you work for the Wall Street Journal, Wired, or AppleInsider, or if you’re one of the analysts the site constantly quotes.

Expert Macintosh users who see “MacWorld” in an article know you don’t know what you’re talking about, just as most technology-literate readers would laugh at “MicroSoft,” “QualComm,” or “LexMark.” Referring to a famous technology event without the correct name or spelling is a quick way to throw away your credibility. Saying “That’s how I always thought it was spelled, and besides, everyone knew what I meant” is saying “I didn’t bother to get the facts about my subject before I wrote my article.” Don’t be that writer.

Readers sometimes benefit from changing odd capitalization to more traditional usage:

Before: The iPod shuffle play button is big and friendly.

After: The iPod Shuffle play button is big and friendly.

This is not one of those cases – changing “w” to “W” is neither more traditional nor does it aid understanding. Dropping “Expo” is fine for casual conversation, but since the magazine is heavily involved with the trade show, correctly referring to “Macworld Expo” and Macworld assists the reader:

Macworld has announced its list of “Best in Show” products for the current Macworld Expo.

It also simplifies searching your database for articles about the trade show. When in doubt, use the correct name instead of the short version. Being clear and accurate is more important than being trendy.

Happy New Year!

We hope you all were out partying to ring in the new year. We were here, in the office, but we don’t mind – in some ways, a lot of the second half of this year felt like an enforced vacation. You party, we’ll write!

We will be out of the office for most of New Year’s Day due to individual obligations, which is also why we can’t stay here until 6AM to get the current issues finished, but we’re optimistic for the next 36 hours. This security stuff has kicked our asses for the entire second half of 2006, but it’s not 2006 anymore, and we’re rolling right along. We’re finishing answers, reaching new conclusions, dissecting conventional wisdom – it’s all great fun, mitigated by the fact that it’s not yet in your hands. (Who decided to put two holidays in seven days at the end of the year? Annoying!) But it’s good stuff – see if we’re wrong when you get it.

And then – well, I’m not allowed to say, but it should be great fun. (We’re not talking about the stock options thing, either. That’s got unexplored level of weirdness in it, and we want to look at a few more things about it first.)

Happy new year!