Date:         Fri, 21 Jan 2000 01:16:31 -0600
Sender:       The Internet TourBus - A virtual tour of cyberspace
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Comments:     Originally-From: Patrick Douglas Crispen

From:         Patrick Douglas Crispen 
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    Macaroni Clean Out the Icebox
Howdy, y'all, and greetings once again from the slightly cold city of
Tuscaloosa, Alabama!
I want to apologize for using the wrong date in my last TOURBUS post
[it should have said 18 JAN 00 instead of 18 JAN 99].  The problem
wasn't due to any computer failure or even a squirrel attack.  Nope,
it was my fault entirely.  I guess I, myself, am not Y2K compliant
after all.  :(
TOURBUS is made possible by the kind support of our sponsors.  I thank
the folks at "Columbia House," "," and "" for
making today's post possible.  As always, please visit our wonderful
sponsors and thank them for keeping the bus rolling!
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On with the show ...
My paternal grandmother used to make a casserole she called "macaroni
clean out the icebox."  According to Grandma, the casserole contained
macaroni, beef, and anything else she could find that was taking up
room in her refrigerator.
Well, in the spirit of my Grandma's macaroni clean out the icebox,
today's TOURBUS is collection of quick stops that have been sitting on
my "stuff I really should mention in TOURBUS" list for a LONG time.
Two Quick Urban Legends
URBAN LEGEND #1: KFC restaurants no longer use the word 'chicken' to
describe their product because they serve meat from genetically
engineered animals that the government will no longer permit to be
referred to as 'chickens.'
Buzz.  Not true.  Thank you for playing.  KFC chicken really IS
chicken.  It's their coleslaw that's fake!  [I'M KIDDING!]
To learn more about the KFC "Frakenchicken" urban legend, take a look
at either 
or .
URBAN LEGEND #2: water heated in a microwave oven could possibly
'explode' into a steam bubble, causing a scald burn.
Ding-ding-ding.  We have a winner!  It turns out that this urban
legend is true ... sort of.  It is theoretically possible that water
heated in a microwave oven could reach temperatures above 100 C
without turning into steam.  When something is added to this
superheated water (a tea bag, a spoon, or whatever), the water would
rapidly change states from water to steam.
Fortunately, this is pretty rare.  So rare, in fact, that you need not
warn your friends about it.  According to our friend David Emery,
      A search of the medical literature on microwave injuries ...
      [shows] references to trauma caused by everything from overheated
      pizza to exploding eggs, but no mentions I could find of serious
      injury due to surges or explosions of boiling water.
Anyway, if you want to learn more about turbulence and nucleation in
superheated liquids (whee!), take a look at either 
or .
A couple weeks ago we talked about the Y Go 2 Waste Y2K food drive at .
TOURBUS rider "Anthony" asked me to mention a second charity that is
also collecting stockpiled Y2K supplies: AmeriCares at .
Hunger Site and Beyond
By now, everyone has heard of the Hunger Site.  Click on a button at and a small donation of food is made to
hungry people around the world.
Similar charity sites have popped up over the past couple of weeks.
Two sites recommended by TOURBUS rider Robin Peters are 
and .
Angela Dias recommends a similar site: 
Also, as long as we are in the giving mood, will donate
one US dollar to one of seven charities of your choice in return for
your visiting the Britannica Web site at 
When you visit the site, a pop-up window will appear asking you to
choose a charity from the following list:
      - Amnesty International
      - Cancer Treatment Research Foundation
      - D.A.R.E. America
      - Do Something
      - The Shoah Foundation
      - World Wildlife Fund
      - Starlight Children's Foundation
Britannica will also ask you for your name and email address in order
to register you in their free adventure sweepstakes.  If you aren't
interested in registering for the sweepstakes but still want
Britannica to give a dollar to your charity, key in a fake, email address (like or
You can read more about fake addresses in my 5 December
1999 post at

> .
"Words, words, words!  I'm so SICK of words!"
Finally, if you want to learn a little more about the digital domain,
let me suggest three things you should add to your reading list.
PC World -- February 2000
I strongly recommend that you check out the February 2000 issue of PC
World (the issue with the word "Gotcha" on the cover).  The magazine
costs US$5.99 on newsstands, but you can find most of the magazine's
current articles on the Web for free at,1278,,00.html .
The issue's cover story -- "The SWAT Team: Kill Bugs Dead" -- tells
you about "the most insidious software bugs" and it also tells you how
to fix these bugs.  What impressed me most about the cover story is
that it lets you know about serious bugs in Windows, Internet
Explorer, Netscape, Outlook, Eudora, Office, WordPerfect, and even
McAfee VirusScan and Norton AntiVirus.  Folks, if you have a PC, you
need to read this story.
The February issue also reviews tax preparation software, anti-virus
programs, and utility suites, and it also discusses some of the
problems many home users are having accessing the Net through cable
modems and DSL.
PC World is always a good read.  The February 2000 issue, however, is
Designing Web Usability
If you are interested in creating truly exceptional Web pages, this
next one is for you.  Jakob Nielsen, the internationally renowned Web
usability expert we talked about in May of last year (see ),
has finally written a book:
      "Designing Web Usability"
      Jakob Nielsen
      ISBN 1-56205-810-X
      US$45.00 (I bought my copy for US$27.00 at
Using real-world examples (both good and bad), Nielsen shows you why
EVERYONE designs Web sites incorrectly and he then teaches you how to
design Web sites that provide better service -- and better usability
-- to your users.
Nielsen's book doesn't teach you HTML or how to create animated GIFs.
Rather, his book focuses on the logistics of WHAT you need to do to
meet the needs of your site's users.
I disagree with a few of Nielsen's suggestions -- for example, while
he adores Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), my personal experience with
CSS shows that it's not quite ready for prime time.  However,
Nielsen's "Designing Web Usability" is still the best Web design book
I have ever seen (and it is even better than mine).
In fact, were I teaching a high school or college level course on Web
page design, Nielsen's "Designing Web Usability" would be required
reading ... and it would be the first book I assigned.
Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace
Can the Internet be regulated?  For a long time, I thought the answer
to that question was so self-evident it was funny: of course not!
Then I read Lawrence Lessig's new book "Code and Other Laws of
Cyberspace."  Now I'm not so sure.
Lawrence Lessig is a professor at Harvard Law School, but he is
probably more famous role as a "special master" in the Microsoft
antitrust trial.
As a professor and a lawyer, Lessig uses a lot of hypothetical
situations and analogies in his book to make the point that the Net
can indeed be regulated simply by changing its architecture.  But
Lessig takes this point one step further: these architectural changes
can either make the Net a place that fosters freedom or a place of
repressive control ... and the choice of what kind of cyberspace we
want and what freedoms we will guarantee is completely up to us.
Better minds than I have reviewed Lessig's book -- you can find a list
of those reviews at -- but I found
Lessig's book to be one of the most enjoyable, easy-to-read, and eye-
opening books I have ever read.  Like most of the lawyers and
professors I know, Lessig asks more questions than he answers.  But
even his unanswered questions open up whole new avenues of thought.
If you want to learn more about the direction Internet freedoms may be
heading, and about what you can do to play a part in choosing that
direction, I strongly recommend that you read "Code and Other Laws of
Cyberspace" by Lawrence Lessig [ISBN 0-465-03912-X; US$30.00; I bought
my copy for US$21.00 at].
That's it for this week.  Have a safe and happy weekend, and we'll
talk again next week.  :)
    Macaroni Clean Out the Icebox
DOT (noun or verb).  To eat sparingly in order to lose weight.
Usage: "Boy, you look like 250 pounds of chewed bubble gum.  You need
to go on a dot!"
[Special thanks to Lee Warlick for today's wurd]
You can find all of the old Southern Words of the day at 
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