Second only to the issues surrounding tattooing and tattoo removal, the hardest decision one ever has to make is, upon moving to California and buying a convertible, what personalized license plate should one get? In the past, this was a slow and embarrassing process, requiring one to go to the Motor Vehicles office, shuffle up to the clerk, and meekly request "HOTBABE," only to receive the crushing news that someone else has, somehow, already thought of that and taken it as her own personalized license plate. While there are 66,220,518,000 possible combinations, it is apparently a devoted pursuit of the state's 30-odd million residents to think of personalized license plates. As with Internet domain names, if you can think of it, someone probably already has it.
But now the California Department of Motor Vehicles has understood our plight, and has put up the web site plates.ca.gov so that we can sit at home and use the Web to see which of our license plate ideas is available. It has a simple HTML form interface, shown in Figure 5-2.
Figure 5-2. California License Plate Search
However, it's so draining to have to plant the mouse in the search box, type "PL8DV8" or whatever other license plate you want, mouse over to the submit button and press it, see the next screen report either "Plate configuration PL8DV8 is unavailable" or "this plate is tentatively ...