Now blogging at diego's weblog. See you over there!

more on how history repeats itself

Another NYTimes article with another take on how we've been through all this before. Just like what I linked to a couple of days ago...

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on February 25, 2003 at 11:22 PM


Over the past few days I've been noticing that there is no rhyme or reason to what I blog about. ARF is a mess. Even if it's technology in general and what directly concerns me of it in particular, the topics still jump all over the place. I can as easily post personal comments, ideas, news on spaces, or link to other news or blogs, with or without comments. I tried to separate a bit by blogging about non-tech stuff on my other weblog but that hasn't really done the trick, since there are just too many different tech-things that I find interesting.

I've been thinking of introducing categories, but wondering if they'd do the job. But just now I got an email from Greg asking whether there is a blog in particular were I talk about spaces only. There isn't, but there should be.

I guess I'll start with categories, merge all my blogs, and see how it goes. I have to do a redesign, too. This one is about to go from the "tired" into the "expired' column.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on February 25, 2003 at 6:03 PM

ibm and the holocaust

Over the past two days I've read Edwin Black's IBM and the Holocaust: how America's most powerful corporation helped Nazi Germany count the Jews. Quite simply, a shocking book. Incredibly well-researched. Virtually Every single paragraph of its 600-plus pages is backed up by references.

The Nazis used punch-card machines (IBM's Hollerith machines) to tabulate their various "censuses" that helped them organize the massive requirements of a wartime economy (and war itself), plan logistics, and, yes, identify the Jews for extermination, among other things. The Nazis tabulated everything. For example, after invading Belgium, they did a census on cattle. Afterwards, cows were required to wear an ID card. Blitzkrieg, the Nazi's "lightning war" was possible only because IBM's machines helped them organize the logistics and troop movements. Rhat, and everything else.

One has to doubt how much of their massive growth, conquest, and murder would have been possible without IBM's help. Not only the Nazis were the original Big Brother, IBM was the original super-sleazy high-tech company (only they didn't get caught). For example, During the first 6 years of the Third Reich, IBM's German subsidiary Dehomag (under IBM NY control with 85% of the stock) paid no taxes at all to the Germans, since it reported zero profits all the while IBM NY was reporting Germany as its second biggest market worldwide after the US. They used all sorts of accounting tricks to "cancel out" the earnings in the subsidiary while in reality they were funneling the money to IBM NY in the form of (among other things) "royalty payments". It was made all the more an "achievement" considering the environment of tight government control and paranoia that the Nazis fostered. TJ Watson was constantly looking for an edge in what everyone expected to be the new "German Empire" in Europe. The ultimate capitalist (if not a closet Fascist): profits at any cost. IBM employees helped the Nazis design efficient punch card systems to process people as if they were assets, mark them for displacement or anihilation, intimately involved into every detail to best help their 'customer'. Watson was informed of every decision, and right up to Dec. 7, 1941, when the US entered the war against the Axis powers, he micromanaged the germany operation as if it was a sales office right next to him in Manhattan, getting information on everything from market strategy, use of the machines, ongoing projects, and expenses--sometimes as little as a few dollars. As late at 1939, after Germany had invaded Checkoslovakia, Watson was still advocating for Germany to receive natural resources from other countries. He even received a medal from Hitler himself in 1937 for his many efforts (which he later returned with a public, open letter to Hitler, after the tide of public opinion in the US had turned virulently anti-Nazi). Regardless of his private stand for 'world peace', privately, he continued excercising control of IBM Germany, even using the US State Department to transfer his correspondence with the subsidiary. Though most of the stratospheric profits were in frozen accounts in Germany or in real estate, a lot of that would be recovered by IBM after the war.

Quite incredible that this remained in the shadows for so many years. Highly recommended.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on February 25, 2003 at 5:43 PM


Looking for an alternative to a null layout on Swing containers, I found SpringLayout. It allows fixed-size locations as well as hybrids (locations that are fixed, but relative to other components within the container), and it was introduced in JDK 1.4. This article from O'Reilly Network describes how to use it. It's definitely more difficult to use than, say, BoxLayout, but it's easier than the black-magic required for GridBagLayouts. It is designed to be used within GUI Builders, but it is certainly useful for "hand-coding" as well, in particular cases in UIs when complete layout control is required.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on February 25, 2003 at 3:05 PM

more on the sun announcements

Related to the Sun announcements made yesterday (as expected), has a new article online. Many of the announcements have to do with hardware (or so it seems from the coverage), although integration of high-end functionality into Solaris is also prominent.

Later: I found this Cringely article talking about Sun's announcements. He's skeptical, to say the least.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on February 25, 2003 at 10:20 AM

bloggers on news aggregators

JD recently posted a two part article on bloggers' thoughts on news aggregators. Links: Part One and Part Two.

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on February 25, 2003 at 12:13 AM

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