December 29, 2000

Looking at IDS systems this past week. I've implemented two of them, a personal IDS called BlackIce and another one on Linux called Snort. As far as BlackIce goes, it's a pretty solid inbound firewall. It doesn't have any outbound firewall functionality (yet), but its IDS system is very nice, and it's incredibly easy to use, while still allowing power users to configure it with the config files.
Someone else had set up an interface that takes Snort output and makes pretty HTML output. It's called SnortSnarf. I'm going to try to implement that next. If anyone has any experience with these tools, let me know what you think. It looks nice and has links for different hack attacks so you can just click on them to jump to descriptions, etc.

December 24, 2000

Unbelievable...I knew that our cable company has one of the worst service records, so WHY did I think their Road Runner service was going to be any better? I've had the service for 8 days so far, and I am more than just displeased. It's starting to border on disgust. I've had problems with speed fluctuating (from 1k-1Mbit over a period of 10 minutes - up and down, up and down) and now a 6 hour (ongoing) outage. Right now, I am dialed into the Net through a modem connection because my network connection is down.
But THAT'S NOT THE WORST OF IT. The worst of it is that I was given an estimated up-time of 5pm, then 5:30. Then, at 5pm, their customer service went home for the holidays, without telling the national Road Runner service desk what the problem was, or when it is expected to be fixed. For all I know, we may be out until Tuesday because everyone left for Christmas.
It's all about maturity. The Internet just isn't mature enough, folks. Until the ISP's deliver the type of service we expect from the phone company (not that they're perfect...), the Internet will be a toy.

December 19, 2000

Called and cancelled my Sprynet account today. It's amazing that noone has thought to provide email forwarding for deleted accounts. I mean, sure, I've left as a customer, and you don't want to make it easy for someone to leave your ISP service, but some do-gooder at the IETF should have added email forwarding to SMTP (or ESMTP) to provide forwarding options, complete with reply to originators as to your new email address. Even snail mail provides for this option.
For those of you thinking about changing ISP's, I would suggest BigFoot's email for life. It's a nice service [when it's working...I've caught it being down twice in the past month]. Of course, you get what you pay for - case in point the big HotMail fiasco.
Changing email addresses can be cleansing though. Gives you a chance to get off all those SPAM mail address lists and force you to clean up all your online memberships. Maybe I'll actually get organized this time, and document all my online memberships this time....nah!!

December 17, 2000

Got my cable modem! I'm not too impressed with the speed thus far, though. I'm seeing throughput of 150-250 KB/sec. A T1 can spit 1.5 MB/sec and I know in some areas, a cable modem can run maximum around 4-6 T-1s. The cable guy recommended an in-line amp to me because the cable is split 5 ways in my house. I may try that, but first I'll ask a neighbor of mine to compare speeds with me. If anyone has any suggestions, let me know.

December 15, 2000

Wow! I haven't blogged in a while. Been busy lately with trips out of town and the Christmas season. Had a pie stuffed in my face at the office Christmas party, but I also walked away with what I believe to be some of the nicer gifts, too. If you'd like a picture of me and the dripping cream, email me and let me know.
I get my cable modem tomorrow (CHEER!) and may put up a webcam out the back window in my house. (or a fish cam...) We'll see what happens. I just can't wait for those 3MB/sec downloads from Happy Puppy. Speaking of games, I've been having a hell of a time making Ultima VIII run on my Windows 98 box. If you have any hints to stop it from crashing, let me know....[yeah right..notice I didn't tell you anything about my machine]

November 22, 2000

Updated the contest on this page under Help Yourself. Win $100,000. Good luck. Let me know if you win.

November 21, 2000

Saw a funny label this morning. I've been going through my cold medicines and throwing away stuff with PPA in it [phenylpropanolamine hydrochloride] because of the recent FDA warning regarding brain hemorrhages.
Well, I was reading the label on a medication containing acetaminophen and it states [paraphrased]: "If you consume 3 more more alcoholic beverages per day, please consult a doctor before taking this medication. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage." As I read it, I laughed out loud. You would think that someone concerned with possible liver damage wouldn't be taking three pops a day and that the pain medicine they need the next morning would likely not be as dangerous as the poison from the night before.
Interested in finding out what drives this, I found this article concerning the effect it can have on your liver. Shoot, after reading that article, I don't think I'll be using Tylenol any time soon. But the label still strikes me funny as hell.

November 17, 2000

And for the new top level domains, ICANN: The Winners Are ... [a Wired news article]:

.stupid, .stupider, .dumbasarock, .dumberthanthat, .political, .morepolitical, and...... .BIZ [to confuse everyone looking for COMPANY.COM].

Why couldn't ICANN have given us something useful? Instead, they've dumped stupid new domain names on us like .pro and .name!?!?! Who's going to set up a web site as or Why couldn't ICANN have adopted useful toplevel domains like .SEX or .SEARCH? .SEX would be great for fracturing the net into the side I don't want to see and the side I do...[no comment on which is which]. .SEARCH would be great for all the different search engines to set up RUG.SEARCH if that's what I'm looking for, or SITE.SEARCH or HOUSE.SEARCH...
Forgive me...I can't think straight, I am so utterly baffled by why they would take .coop amd .aero!! Those domain names are going to be hot sellers ---- NOT!

November 16, 2000

Bought a grandfather clock [the Lenox IV seen on this page] the other day [picked it up yesterday]. It's a beautiful clock with three counterweights (a second hand), quietly friendly chimes and three curved display shelves. It's surrounded by glass windows and has a little light in the top of the case. We got a good deal on it, and it's something we've been eye-ing for a while. When we talked the salesman into a further 25% discount, we had to go for it. I set the clock up yesterday, and it sounds wonderful.
The Internet is both a godsend and a curse. With the new house, I've tried ordering stuff online. One thing we ordered was a rug from Rugs USA. The image onscreen looked white and black, and the color of the actual rug when I received it was a yellowish off-white. It wasn't REALLY their fault. Even the picture on the label included with the rug was misleading, and they probably scanned the label for the web picture. Even so, before ordering stuff online where the color matters, give them a ring first, eh?
On the other hand, if you are going to buy something expensive in the store, like sheets from Veratex, you should check prices online! I found the same sheet set online for $40 less than it sells in stores. We have a California King size bed, so we are used to jumping on a chance to buy nice sheet sets. I'm glad I checked before jumping on this purchase.

November 06, 2000

Wow! Been a while (a LONG while) since I've written anything in here. Lots of things pass you by when you get really busy.

We're moved in, of course, and unpacked. We've begun decorating (black and white zebra stripes on the main level, Pokemon in the kids room, etc..) and have bought blinds and drapes and all sorts of other stuff (like new plates, silverware and other household items). Moving is certainly one way to start spending money. The costs you can mount in just a month are amazing. It's a good thing we kept a reserve of cash to do all this stuff.

The alarm people were in the neighborhood selling monitoring service this past week. Considering that the telephone lines come right out of the ground and up the side of the house, I decided not to go with them. I'll put in some of my own sensors and a siren along with some window stickers to scare anyone away. A professional thief certainly isn't going to be scared by a 'monitored by' sign, and a casual thief isn't stupid enough to hang around a really loud horn. What we really need for a monitoring service is a neighborhood watch.

Halloween was fun. My son went as 'Licensed Character' and got enough candy to last him the rest of the year [at the rate I let him eat it]. My feet hurt from THAT night. The wife and I went out to a local club party, and I had my picture taken in a coffin. Of course, THAT happens to be on the roll of film they can't find, eugh!

Last week, got a flat tire, and a free rubbing from someone else's car [in a parking lot]. It hasn't been a good week for the car. I had to drive 30 minutes to my wife's job and change her tire for her...

Probably even more stuff happened, but I can't remember it all right now. Talk later.

October 14, 2000

As you can imagine, a lot of things have gone on in the time I have been away from my blog. We've moved into the new place. I'd like to thank Home Depot, now my very favorite store. I've changed two chandeliers (1 of them havgning two stories up!), showerheads, and painted the floor of my garage with an epoxy paint. Through all the work we are doing, from cabinetry to garage floors, Home Depot employees are knowledgeable and very helpful. I never thought I'd be able to properly acid-treat my garage cement, prime it and paint it, but they patiently explained everything to me and helped me to understand the whole process. They have everything I've needed, like this four part ladder that became a scaffold for changing that big chandelier in my front foyer. I've cleaned up the old house with their help, too, understanding spackle and drywall repair, painting, cleaning supplies, etc... This store is just GREAT.
The movers did a pretty good job. Only two things got damaged (my computer desk and a rip in my sofa vinyl). I think I can repair them both, but we'll see what their insurance covers (if anything.) They took a lot of care, but nothing can ever be perfect. I understand, stuff happens to everyone. My phone line is in, but my cable isn't going to be installed until the end of October.
Owning a house is great. I've got a nice sized side yard, that I'm thinking of turning into a gnarly graveyard this year for halloween. Couldn't do that in a condo (which I've owned before), and couldn't do that in the past rental. Before last year, we didn't celebrate the holidays due to a religious choice. But, we've come past that now..
Of course, now that I'm finally done moving stuff, I'm sick. My son must have given me this wonderful virus. I figured with all the ammonia I've sniffed in the past two days that the bugs invading my body would have died, but no luck.
My computer desk right now is a cardboard box flattened out on top of another box, but I'll survive. We have some custom cabinet people coming to give us a quote to build a whole 'office' center thing,
I bought some new shoes, leather casuals, and promptly got paint on the leather...ugh. I ruined a pair of black jeans by getting down on my hands and knees with all these cleaners.
One cleaning agent I worked with is called "Simple Green". We used it undiluted, and it works great for getting up grease and other stains on your counters and kitchen appliances. It's also biodegradeable and supposedly not harmful to the environment.
One thing I'd like to know is just how many coats of paint DOES it take to cover up a three-year olds wall scribblings? My son did it years ago, but I still wanted to call him on the carpet today when I had to figure out how to clean it off and paint it.

October 03, 2000

Went back to work today and worked hard to catch up on the 4-day weekend I had created. Lots of stuff to do, and I got mostly caught up. Still one unresolved issue, where I've been unable to contact this one customer. He's in Hawaii, so it's kind of touch and go on organizing the contact with him. I'm pretty sure I'll catch him on Thursday afternoon, though. The tag game is almost finished.
Had a couple of stuck services and one problem caused by some corporate changes (that YET AGAIN we weren't notified of in advance, despite promises to the contrary). I had known about this particular change from something else that occured (and broke) last week, so I was able to fix this problem quickly. Networking is very inter-dependent that way.
Learned a bunch about safety today, thanks to a minor accident in the office, and prepared safety training for my victims (I mean, employees), also looking to corporate for help. They promised me some support, and I hope they deliver well.
Came home, and the wife is overworked, the kid over-zealous, and the house a disaster (due to the move). I can't wait for this all to be finished. I'll be able to tie up a lot of loose ends tomorrow (like mail forwarding and getting some finished painting done). Oh, thanks go out to several people today. Like, The Post Office for allowing me to pick up my keys 15 minutes after they closed. And Xerox, who contacted US about a dangerous aspect of their product, a color printer that COULD possibly catch on fire. They called us and came out and repaired it. Firestone could learn something from them, I think.

October 02, 2000

Moved in (well, signed and paid for) our new house on Friday. Since then, I've been busy as a beaver, cleaning the yard, painting the garage floor, installing a cieling fan and light set in the master bedroom. My wife wants me to buy this beautiful chandelier for the foyer, and a nice new front door kit. We've done shelf paper in the kitchen that looks just fantastic. After we move in, I'll have to put up pictures on my web page. The builder finished alot of the things we had problems with, but nailing them down to do other things is difficult. I'll keep on them though.
Also had my first cub scout den meeting on Sunday. That went pretty well too! Cub Scouts is just bound to be a heap of fun, and I think we're going to get a big kick out of it. I need to better organize the den records and have a better system for collecting money (dues, patch money, etc) and tracking expenses. The scouts had fun and made a medicine bag. In it, they put slips of paper with kind words. And we did an ethics exercise as well. I've got to make sure that we work on the achievements for each of the boys too. Supposed to meet with the other den leader tonight to go over next weeks plan.
Bought a US flag too. I want to mount that on the house, but I'm still not sure where, on the garage or the main door frame. I'll look around the neighborhood for suggestions and see where other people put theirs.

September 29, 2000

Check out this item at Lifestyle Fascination. A Casio Wristwatch Camera. It's a black and white digital camera WITH DISPLAY that fits on your wrist, with time, calendar, alarms, stopwatch, databank, and storage for 100 pics! It connects to your PC for up and downloads and it's $199!
Man, if I had the money right now, I'd....probably buy something else...but if I had LOTS of money, I'd buy this. I LOVES gadgets.

September 27, 2000

Northern Dogs Forum has a message train that talks about a bad situation in Alaska where salmon have not returned to spawn. This is causing a problem for locals who depend upon the fish as a food source for their husky population. They are shooting their own dogs rather than let them starve to death due to the shortage. The most chilling entry is this message thread is the last line of this message, "....we have messed up big-time, and the fish are gone..."
Think about that. Close your eyes, and imagine the anguish of knowing that something we have done to the environment has caused this catastrophe. Rather than waxing poetic about it, I'll just let you stew on how deep a meaning that could have, and how it could happen to any of us.

September 24, 2000

Wow, you know, the weirdest things in the world happen by coincidence, and it always seems so amazing. As I may have already mentioned, I signed my son up for Cub Scouts. Now, when you sign up for Cub Scouts, you get to be recruited into the organization as well, because they need volunteers to run things. As some of you may know, I've already fallen for this and did some Little League coaching in the past. Well, I fell for it again, and when they asked for volunteers for den leaders, my hand went up. So did someone else's hand in our pack. His name is Gautier too, just like mine. And he has a son...the aforementioned in this column, the one with whom my son's school lunch record has been scrambled with. The one whose middle name is the same as my son's first, and whose first initial matches my sons middle initial. So, is this a small world or what? Mr. Gautier and I will be leading our son's cub scout pack this year, and I think we'll have plenty of fun doing it, but I just can't wait for all the administrative head-scratching it's going to cause. You just KNOW that some well-meaning administrator somewhere will decide that the paperwork must be wrong, and try to straighten it out by deleting one of the records in a computer, or ignoring half of the paperwork...especially mixed up when I submit a change of address at the same time. Whoo-boy....will keep you posted!

September 23, 2000

The cable is out. This happens just too often. The one problem I think I'm going to have with going to a cable modem is going to be when there are outages like this. With the phone system, I have never had it go out on me (although Sprynet has had problems in the past.). Using a dialup as a backup is going to suck big time once I get used to the speed of a cable modem.
My kid has a cold (and now a fever). Kids can be so miserable when they are sick. The poor guy wants to go outside and play but now that he has a fever, he's been put on restriction. With half of the cable channels gone, I'm really in a pinch, because he's still an extremely active kid and that means I have to be too. Gotta run.
It looks like the problems between BLOGGER and TRIPOD have cleared up. I'm glad for that. It was starting to stress me out having to do manual updates to my website. I picked up a new book: The Code Book. Nope, I still haven't finished those other books I'm reading, but this book caught my eye because it explained many different encryption schemes, and the history of them. Some of the European history in the book was very interesting, such as the story about Mary Queen of Scots, and how bad encryption was her downfall. I'm about halfway through the book now, and it still has my attention. The reviews at Amazon give it 5/5 stars, and I tend to agree with that rating. If you are interested in either history or cryptography, it's a good read.
My son began playing in the Pokemon League today. I sat with him and tried to help him play. Sometimes he took my advice, and sometimes he didn't. Kids are like that. They tend to think that they know everything and ignore their parents when they want to. I tried to just bite my tongue and let him make his own mistakes, and praised him when he made good choices by himself. Being a parent can be tough. As for the Pokemon League, it looked like fun. I might join myself :-)

September 21, 2000

One reason that I still pay for Internet access has been my web space. Recently, I've established this space here on Tripod and I've been slowly weaning off my ISP's email address and using a reflector adresss instead (found here). I'm going to be giving up my account at Sprynet when I move, since I'll be getting a cable modem.
The one difference between my Sprynet webspace and Tripod is support. We have had a problem blogging to Tripod recently, and there's no one I can call for support. I've left several emails for the support team without response. So, with cheap [or free] services, you get a lack of support services. This is important to remember as you utilize services in the new economy. It's not so new a concept, you know, getting what you pay for.
For those of you who want to help others, here's a web site that will make it easier. Helping.Org will help you find just the right volunteer opportunity to meet your (and their) needs. By checking for volunteer requirements in a ZIP code near you, you'll be able to find a way to volunteer for anywhere from an hour of your time up to full time. What's really nice about this is that even those of us with a full schedule can still find a way to help others, easily! What a great use of the Internet!

September 20, 2000

Here is a VERY cool article about: Coating Isolates Nuclear Waste. This article talks about a new coating called EKOR that will possibly enable us to stop nuclear radiation from contaminating the environment. For those of you who may not have learned in high school, radiation emissions from radioactive materials only diminishes with time. There is no known way to neutralize their radioactivity. Storing and transporting highly radioactive items is dangerous because the radioactive material breaks up as it diminishes. Flakes and dust that break off from the items are hazardous just as the original material is. These flakes and dust particles enter the surrounding environment (such as the water table) and pose severe bio-hazards. Shielding of radioactive materials is very difficult because the materials used to shield it are affected by the radiation itself and either become radioactive or break down completely. This new coating has stood up to a several month test where it is showing no such effects from its application to the most poisonous place on the planet - the Chernobyl nuclear reactor #4!
This has VAST importance! If this stuff works, it could allow us to possibly encapsulate nuclear waste, and maybe even eventually make it fairly safe to be handled, transported and stored with little or no effect on the surrounding biology.

September 19, 2000

Wow, you know what I just read? An Oklahoma State University student had his computer seized by the police for distributing illegal copies of music. Apparently, the student was ftping the files and lots of them from what the article said. The source is quoted as the 'Chronicle of Higher Education Online, September 18 2000'. I'm reading from an abstract service called Edupage by Educause.
The interesting thing about this is that it's touted as being 'news' that someone can be held liable for an illegal act. "Hello?!" This shouldn't be news. If you do something illegal, like copying music or programs, and you don't have at least an inkling that you COULD indeed be prosecuted for it, then your parents didn't do their job.
Ugh! I am so upset that this is such a big deal for everyone.

September 18, 2000

Does your organization run Microsoft Exchange? If so, do you have virus scanning that interfaces with it? If not, take a moment out of your busy day and visit HouseCall for Microsoft Exchange Server. They offer a free virus scan of your Exchange Server, to see if any viruses are still sitting in someone's mail box. They also offer a free house call scan of your local machine at this page if you're silly enough to run around without virus protection on your own machine.

September 17, 2000

Why do we weblog? It's a very strange thing we do, logging parts of our lives or our thoughts for the prosperity of it, for review by anyone who might happen across it. A weblog can never truly be a diary or journal, because it must be edited by human nature. There are pieces of my life I do not wish to share, and certainly pieces that you would never want to read about. There was a man who kept a journal of his life. I listened to an account of his life on the Don and Mike Show one day driving home from work. His case was very interesting, as he would log every detail of his life, from when he went to the john, what and when he ate, and minute by minute accounts of his day. It must certainly have taken him a good few hours each day to write this chronicle, and he filled up a room with his journal.
I don't think we who weblog do it for the same reasons that struck him, although some might. Myself, I began this only as an exercise of the mind. Not only the weblog but the creation of the surrounding web page is what excited me and interested me for the first few months (of which I am approaching rapidly). Maybe even some of my readership is no longer there. I can certainly see by my hitcount that I am not a universally subscribed to web log. And my repeat visitors is few and far between. So, this diary amounts to talking to myself. I wonder, does this equate me with the man walking down the street in animated conversation. Am I one of the first crazy men of cyberspace?
Isn't it interesting how when we begin to wax philosophically we end up just throwing out supposition and question, and never really get anywhere? Our train of thought is quickly lost in a rambling line of ideas that just streams nonsencially from our mind. As I was saying, I began this web log as an exercise for my mind. I wished to extend my abilities back into the realm of written ideas to better prepare me for exercises in the real world where I would need these skills. I don't know whether or not I've grown as a writer from my first weblogs, but I've learned a great deal about HTML in the meantime, and have enjoyed discussing my life with, well, myself.
If you happen to be a reader of my web log, please know that I appreciate your taking the time out to share a little part of my life with me. As I can only offer you a virtual cup of tea, I would like to do so. One lump, or two?

September 15, 2000

I can't believe that Napster is still in the news. Now they are making a claim that the Napster application itself should be considered the same as a VCR, because it allows users to 'time-shift' recordings. That means they are claiming that the Napster application is just another recording mechanism for content that allows the user to listen in a different way.
What I hope the judge can see is that Napster is NOT an MP3 ripper application. It is a file sharing application. An application that made no beefs about being able to share copyrighted music, an application that was developed without contacting the RIAA or anyone else to develop any form of copy protection (such as VCRs have built into them), and that the recordings they are 'time-shifting' is not live content at all. Isn't a CD already adequately time-shifted?
Sorry, just have to say it again. Napster was a short-sighted enterprise. It got the technology out there to promote a use of the Internet that will eventually re-invent the Internet. But trying to make a company out of it, and trying to convince the US Judicial system that they are in the right....that's just plain wrong.

September 14, 2000

I was just thinking how much I've uglied up the out-of-band section. For example, too many banner ads. I need to trim it down a bit. Also, the Java applet for the Missing Kids, while a nice idea, takes alot of memory to load up. I think I'll redo the index page yet again to try to make something a little more classy. Sometimes I get a click of a good idea...I wonder how to foster one at will?
I haven't rambled on for a bit on here. Thought I'd write what's going on.
We've started packing up the house. Boy is that going to be a chore. But our other choice is to let the movers pack it for about $1200. No way. We've got a few weeks, so a box or two a day, or even 5-10 each weekend should get us done. Just have to remember everything else going on in our life. We signed up our kid for the Cub Scouts. I remember Cub Scouts, and the friends I made, the sense of achievement when I earned badges and stuff. I figure it will be good for him, and hopefully keep him with the right types of friends. Who knows, if I foster it well, he may aspire to become an Eagle Scout some day.
Speaking of Eagle Scouts, I've been looking for an old friend named Eric Klein. I went to High School with him in South Brunswick, NJ (class of 1984) and I haven't been able to find him online at all. It seems strange to me how few people are online these days, considering how many people ARE online. Ooops, wrong track.. Anyways. If you know a 34 year old guy named Eric Klein, contact me at once, PLEASE.
I've seen some neat JavaScript posted on the Blogger home page. I may incorporate it into my site later on. There's just too many toys to play with on a web site, and I can't make up my mind what kind of style I want to exude. If I'm going for something that reflects myself, I think I've got it in this chaotic throw-together I have here.
By the way, I've started receiving the subscription to Wired Magazine that gave me for free. You see, if you signed up at WonderClick.Com, you got a free one-year magazine subscription. It's started coming, and my favorite tree-killer too, Wired. This magazine is ON TOP of things in a way noone else is. If you don't already read Wired, then you're just not a news hound at all.
Well, ta ta for to some other distraction. I'll be back with you all later, I guess.
Are you old enough to remember S&H Green Stamps? Even if you're not, you'll be interested to know that they've joined the 21st Century with a new name and a computer system! You can earn points for signing up for offers, or for buying things at their vendors. And points are just like the old stamp-books. Get enough stamps and score free stuff. Check it out at S&H! This award program has been around for 104 years, and it looks like they're set up to stay for yet another century.
While examining a local problem with our school district at Hayfield Pyramid Solutions Group, I got to thinking about how American life can never live up to the expectations that appear in TV and other media. The example that hit me was the one where the parents cheerfully yell upstairs to their children to hurry up and get ready for school. It's almost always bright and cheery outside whenever this happens in movies or TV shows, but at MY house, it's not like that. It's still dark. The sun hasn't woken up, and neither have we. Why do kids have to get up at 5:30 AM to get ready for school? What kind of sleep patterns are we teaching them? I put my child to bed at a reasonable 8:30, and thankfully he doesn't have to get up that early yet, but in a few years, he will, especially if they don't build a closer middle school. I think it's a crime to send a sleep deprived child off to school. What do you think?

September 12, 2000

Don't pay for what you can get for free. Seen those ads for Don't pay them $29.50 a year when you can get the same thing from Web Site for Alumni of US High Schools. Granted, Classmates.Com has a lot more advertising money, but this is coming from the people who pay to register there. Ad-supported HighSchoolAlumni.Com offers the same services...try it out!
Urban Legends hang their ugly heads again with this letter regarding Harry Potter and Satanism. Read David Emery's article entitled Harry Potter and the Chain of Fools at About.Com. 'nuff said...

September 08, 2000

I'm testing a new format. Please let me know how this page looks to you...
Remember when sliced bread came out? How happy you were? Maybe you're not old enough to remember that, but here's something that's just as great! -- always watching... is the title of a web site that will KNOCK YOUR SOCKS OFF! This web site watches the closed caption programming of a variety of television programming, from Financial and Sports to Kids programming and Entertainment. All you do is type in the keywords that interest you, and they will email you a short surrounding transcript anytime that keyword is mentioned! Set up a password, and you can edit your preferences a little more.
By default, when you enter in a keyword, it will notify you the next 3 times that keyword appears in any media they are tracking. When you set up a password, you can up that notification count to 10, and you can continue to up the count as you get closer to 0 in order to keep it active. Additionally, you can then select which types of programming to ignore. If you're looking for the word "Dallas" and you mean the TV show, you can turn off Sports programming, or vice-versa.
Try this out, really cool!

September 07, 2000

Just saw this article entitled Invisible Web Bugs Track Your Surfing. The first line reads Big Server is Spying On You. This was even given its own paragraph. UGH! There is a lot of thought that should go into how seriously you take this article. Please, go and read it, and then come back here...
I saw an article where Bill Gates was speaking about privacy on the net, and he made a wonderful point. How many places in the world can you walk out of a store and tell the store-owner, "Forget I was here, and what aisles I browsed. Don't look at which direction I came from. Don't discuss what I did in here with anyone. Don't remember what I bought or how many times I bought it. Don't remember how much I spent or if I used any coupons. All of this is private information and you have no right to it."
I read that [NOT word-for-word....I believe it was in this months Business 2.0 somewhere] and I thought, "He's SO right. He's hit the nail on the head". If I own a business (a web site) and I decide to hire a marketing company to help me expand my business, I'm going to share all kinds of information with the marketing company. I'll tell them all about my customers habits. The only thing I would consider private information is the name and address information I have for them [example, a pharmacy]. I'll tell them everything I can about my customer base, provided that the data doesn't include identity information.
And if the FBI comes by and asks me if Mr. Pipe-Bomb-Builder came in and bought 15 gallons of Clorox, I'm going to tell them that information, probably without even a warrant, because I want to cooperate with them. I would consider that type of information "shared information".
The information in a web-bug is no different from the information I get when the user requests a web page from me. In fact, you can get so much more information about the user than is mentioned in this article. The identifying information is only identifying in specific instances of dedicated IP addresses, which are usually businesses, not private dial-ins. And many businesses do their best to hide even that identification from the outside world through proxies and NAT.
Let me give you an example. You see the web-counter on this page? It garners all of that information in that article. I happen to know that some of the users who hit this page came from AOL. I also happen to know that they found me with search words containing pornographic references. I don't know WHO they are. Without a search warrant I doubt I could find out. But I do know now how certain search engines see my site. This is important information to me, and it doesn't 'belong' to those users. It belongs to the search engine that sent them to me AND that user. That search engine decided to pass on those parameters in the URL. That means they pass it on to me. I pass it on to my marketing company.
Bruno drives up to my store from the South-bound exit off I-44. I see him come in this way, and I log it. 10 more people come in the same exit. You think I shouldn't be allowed to know where they're coming from? How am I supposed to know where to put my billboard? If the FBI comes in and asks me did I see some guy in a pinstripe suit drive in off the southbound exit, can't I tell them? Now how about if Vinny calls me and tells me he's sending Bruno over to get some black powder. Bruno comes over and I don't deal in nblack powder. Now the FBI comes in again...wants to know why Bruno was here. Who's the slimeball now? Me or Vinny? If Vinny was smart he wouldn't go telling me why he's sending Bruno my way. He'd let me work that out with Bruno himself. Now howabout that? Bruno comes in from the South Exit, walks in and ASKS me for black powder straight out. This is different. Should I go sharing that information with my marketing guy? Sure! Maybe he'll tell me that in the past year, I've got 15 guys asking for it. Maybe I should consider selling it. Or maybe I should contact the FBI and have them tap into my store cameras so they can catch these dirtballs named Bruno.
I think there's a degree of privacy that you do give up when you get online. But I think you have the same problem with real life in general. As a webmaster, it's my responsibility to use what info I have to market my publication. If AOL wants to share that info with me, I'll use it. If you as a user don't like it, complain to the people that pass it on. Complain to AOL, Yahoo, Google, Hotbot, etc. Ask them to hide your search strings when they return your search results. But you can't expect people to throw away information you give them, that is unless you want Benjamin Franklin to stay behind to make sure I forget why you was in my store....
Just to plug them again, but mostly to thank them for this article on Moving Hints, I'd like to express my gratitude to for the advice on getting 3 quotes and an NTE quote on my move. This is due to be the best move I've ever made! Three companies, two different prices and one no-show(!). And I got an NTE [+10%] from them when I asked for it!
In this USA Today article, Harry Potter faces biggest foe yet in book censors, you will find that book banning is still in season. Being an avid reader myself, I have never been a fan of people who wish to ban books from library shelves. I can certainly understand a parents concerns, having a grade-school child myself, but I can't understand the idiocy that some people wish to perpetrate. The notion that this particular children's book will cause an otherwise normal healthy child to engage in occult activities is absurd. By the time the child is able to even comprehensively read these books, they should already be well aware of the difference between fantasy and reality.
I gave 'book banning' a whole new thought last night as I ruminated on both sides of the discussions. On one hand, a library is a place where a child can gain unfettered access to knowledge. On the other hand, there is certain types of knowledge that we attempt to protect our children from. I firmly believe that it is a parent's responsibility to act in the raising of a child and let them know what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior. The child will help you with making sense of this, with their question of "Why?" when you tell them something is unacceptable. Banning a book from a public library does not absolve the parent from their responsibility. This particular book is probably so pervasive that your child could obtain it from any number of friends if you haven't made it clear that they are not to be reading it.
You know, there are certainly publications that the public library does not maintain, and that is a fine line that a librarian must consider. A lot of good books have been banned over the years, for countless reasons. But I don't think that any of the reasons are worthy of pushing your morals or judgements on others.
Perhaps these people are shocked to know what concepts their children are ready to understand. Perhaps people are shocked at what tender age their children can comprehend things such as sexuality, religion, paranormal concepts and superstition. The problem is not with society at large. The problem is with the denial that they may be feeling. If a child can understand the concepts they are exposed to, then perhaps it is time for that 'talk you've been meaning to have'. Perhaps instead of focusing your time and effort on banning books, you should be using that time to sit down and have an important discussion with the child as to what is appropriate and why you feel that way. No one said it was going to be easy to teach your children, but you should not and can not expect to be able to control what other people do for your own ease.
You know, this is exactly the type of thing that gets me rambling because there is so much to say on the subject. I'm not saying we should be carrying 'Playboy' magazine in the local library. There are laws that control certain publications from distribution to minors. And unless a library can put into place the necessary controls to control the distribution of such publications, it has no legal right to carry them IMHO [in my honest opinion]. However, should those controls be in place, and should the library see it within their charter to carry it, and their funding agents agree with their decisions, I don't see why there should be any beef. Of course, I've just introduced a new twist. Do the taxpayers have the right to control what their tax money supports. Can book banning from a library be considered an act of a funding agent who is unhappy with how their funds are spent? Do we not have elections and elected representatives to drive this? Does our form of government NOT work here?
Historically, what do we see? A vocal minority complains to the school board [elected officials?] that they are unhappy with decisions made in the local school library. Book is banned. An incensed and even more vocal majority complain and get the decision reversed. You would think someone would learn from history. As the official, you should have the capability to come to a consensus agreement on the matter without resorting to the extreme of banning a book outright. Politicians are paid to be mediators and agreement makers, are they not?
I don't claim to have the solution to fit all the sides I have mentioned. I only claim to have an opinion. And you know what, now that I've given you at least most of it, I realize also that you're entitled to your own opinion too.

September 06, 2000

Have you ever noticed how great inventions are almost always invoke the feeling of "Oh, of COURSE! I should have thought of that, it's so obvious."? In the house I'm in right now, I can't even hear the doorbell upstairs in the master bedroom. It's 3 flights up from the chime. But if someone opens the front door, the change in air pressure is immediately obvious to the point where you can hear it. Someone used this effect to create a house alarm. AirBlock instantly detects the change of air pressure from the forcing of all windows and doors in areas as large as 4,000 ft.� (370m�). I think this is a great idea. You don't have to wire all your doors and windows, and the detection system is almost unbeatable. To bypass it, you'd have to slowly feed in air into the home to equalize the pressure before opening the door or window. Unless you're Aldritch Ames or someone else keeping Top Secret documents in your house, I doubt any crook will take the time to do this. Add yet another neat toy to the collection!
I just stumbled across This site bills itself as Everything for the IT Professional. They have tech news, job data, cramsession and training info, ratings on tech products, a file watcher for keeping an eye on patches and more. I found the site, because I was looking for a Question of the Day subscription. This is where they email you a technical question designed to prepare you for a particular test. They email you one new question every day. It's good for keeping yourself in the right frame of mind and helps you study for the exams.

September 05, 2000

I went to blog this site, and I think it explains itself very well in its title. You'll notice a new java applet in the out-of-band. For those of you with Java disabled, it's an applet that displays 12 of these kids, hoping that you've seen one of them. If you have, please help them.
"The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's Home Page - an online resource for information on: Missing Children and Child Sexual Exploitation. This resource includes: disappear, runaway, kidnap, kidnapping kidnaping throwaway, abduct, abduction, abducting, lost, find, recover, child custody, missing child, homeless child, posters, stranger abduction, luring, stolen baby, school abduction, child protection, neglect, child, charity, charities, charitable, hague treaty, hague convention, hage treaty, hage convention, awareness, family welfare, vulnerable parenting publication, child resource, child stats, child statistics, donate, donation, child advocate, child advocacy, treatment, community notification, megan's law, victim's rights, victim, protect, sex offender, molest, child safety, online, child abuse, online, safety tips, internet, internet safety, stranger, exploit, internet, web, www, computer, kid, enticement, luring, cybercrime, safesurf, pedophile, pedophilia, paedophile, paedophilia, recividism, abuse, sex offender, child-sex tourism, sex tourism, lolita, tipline, tipsline, child exploitation, sexual exploitation, sexual abuse, child abuse, Internet safety, child crimes disappear, runaway, kidnap, kidnapping kidnaping throwaway, abduct, abduction, abducting"
Over in the out-of-band, you'll notice a new graphic link to 'Scratch4Cash'. Now, everytime you check in at my website, you'll get three chances at winning up to $100,000 in an instant win format! So to those of you who like to play the lottery, here's a free one for you.
This weekend I received two different DVDs from Netflix I should share with you. The first and foremost was Little Rascals, Vol. 1 & 2Little Rascals Volumes 1 & 2! Two volumes on a single DVD is still something that doesn't make a whole lot of sense, unless you consider that they may have already been published to two different VHS tapes. But that aside, I must say that this was the most enjoyable rental I have had in a while! Watching Spanky, Stimey, Buckwheat, Porky and Alfalfa in some of their best bits took me back to a simpler time in my life, and I was glad for it. I got to share a bit of myself with my wife and son who have never seen The Little Rascals, and they both enjoyed the pleasure. If you have a chance to rent (or buy if you're into that) this DVD, I highly recommend you do so.
The second tape I rented this weekend was Boiler Room. I've been wanting to see this movie since it was in the theater. I put the DVD on and I watched the whole thing. Hrmmm. eh... Well, at least I can claim I've seen it. I was very unimpressed with this film, just about every aspect of it. I mean, it did what it said it would do in the ads, scaring me away from ever buying investments over the phone. But it did even this poorly. I can't say stay away from this film, though. Even though the delivery was bad, and even though the movie leaves an unfinished taste in your mouth, the movie is worth seeing for the lessons and exposure that it offers. The exposure to a life you will likely never see first hand. Don't buy this movie and don't pay too much to rent it. Heck, maybe wait for the TV version. But if you have a chance to see it once, you should.

September 04, 2000

Yeah! Been researching options on the new house, and I am so excited about being able to get get Cox Communications: Roadrunner service in the new house. Blazing Internet speeds, and it will end up costing me less. I'll just phase out this second phone line, and turn off my ISP (who I've been detesting since they were bought out.)

Another tidbit I forgot to mention earlier this week. I stopped at the newstand on the way home, and found myself with only $9.00 and wanting to pick up two different magazines (at $4.95 and $4.99). I finally settled on Business 2.0, due to the article about Microsoft's .NET. The magazine was great. I almost read it from cover to cover (although for me, that's usually cover to middle, and later back to middle). Of couse, Murphy's Law being what it is, it ends up my boss has a subscription, and I could have read the other magazine, Grok. Why no link on that one? Well, turns out Grok is a very well-liked word, and there are two or three publications by that name, and since I didn't pick up the magazine...I don't know which one I almost bought! For those of you who do not know who four-time Hugo award-winning Robert Anson Heinlein is, click on his name for the FAQ. The word 'grok' is an invention of his, and lives on through the magic of the Internet and computer science in general.
Well, I got a bit off track, there...but back to the Business 2.0...good rag...
We went to the mall today just to get out of the house, do a little shopping and stretch the legs. It's been raining on and off and ruingin any outdoor fun plans we had. So to get some exercise, off we went. While I was there, I went to the new Wizards of the Coast store in the mall. If you don't know who these people are, then you're probably not an avid or an amateur gamer. They sell all that is Pokemon, Magic:the Gathering, Dungeons and Dragons and every other strategy game under the sun. I just love to browse the shelves over and over to look at the games I no longer have the time to play.
While I was there, I bought Mille Bornes [,the french] Card Game, and another game called "The Scooby Doo Card Game". It's sometimes difficult to convince my son to just sit and read, and I figured it would be nice to get him involved in a strategy game where he has to read. I mean, besides Pokemon, (alright no laughing in the balcony!). Well, Mille Bornes is a classic, and I got the whole family to play, so that was a hit. But this Scooby Doo card game was a bust. The rules were too complex for him to quickly grasp at 7 years old, and the game aspects were difficult as well. Either they didn't playtest this game, or they have do-do's for marketing folks. By the time the game mechanics are interesting to him, he'll have outgrown Scooby Doo and moved on to other things. So, my recommendation on that is, skip it. It took too long to play, besides...even if he was interested, I don't see him sitting in one place for more than an hour even if he IS having fun.
What, surprised I didn't talk about computers?

September 01, 2000

Today in Wired News, I read aboutGAC. It's supposed to be a digital mind modeling project, and the author is attempting to build a huge yes/no fact database. Unfortunately, the press is causing a massive influx into his website, and I can't get the site to consistently respond to me. I've tried entering data and reading parts of the site, and I get partial responses, DNS failures and a variety of other wierd errors in between every other successful load. I hope he gets the site into a consistent state so I can check it out, as it sounds like a fun projects.

August 31, 2000

I was just reading Wired News. A new alert is in the technology section entitled Word Docs With Ears? In the article, it states "A privacy group warned Wednesday that so-called "Web bugs" could track Microsoft Word documents as they are distributed among Internet users." The article goes on to talk about how one could embed a URL request for a graphic or a cookie submission into a document, and because MS Word is HTML enabled, this request could fire without the knowledge of the document reader. Also, not mentioned in the article, but obvious to the technologically inclined, you will note that this does not constitute macro code. I wonder whether or not it would be possible to implant viral code that would fire in MS Word into that URL-retrieved object. Utilizing an ActiveX object, you could embed code into the document, and if the user does not have ActiveX turned off in their Internet Explorer options (insert thousands of people yelling about IE/OS integration here) the ActiveX applet could fire and run.
Yet another development that will fire off the next salvo of virus/fix cycles.
Ok, if the sound starts to bug you, just click on Knock It Off in the header.

August 30, 2000

It looks like TheCounter isn't as accurate as I would like. Consistently, I have found the counter not loading on the page, and I believe the count is way off due to this. If anyone knows of a better webcounter service, please let me know.
A new set of words I've heard bantied about is 'viral marketing'. I believe that it implies a product that has the tools necessary for recommending itself built right into the product. So that users of the product can easily forward it on to friends and family without having to go outside of the product to do so. I think it's just another 'hype term' myself, and think that marketing folks should just concentrate on the basics instead of trying to find the 'Holy Grail' of marketing. Word of mouth advertising has always been a valuable tool, and viral marketing doesn't seem to be much different than 'word-of-mouth' except that its fast becoming an annoying phrase. It bugs me about as much as the word 'switch', when the darn thing is just a 'multi-port bridge'. And 'level 3 switch', when the old term was 'brouter'. Inventing new words is just a way for someone to sell you something you already know about it, and the Internet is just great for repackaging and selling old product. Just look at the rebirth of so many scams on the Internet. Scams you wouldn't fall for over the phone or in person. But that's another topic. I guess I'm just sick of buzzwords.
Another thought hit me tonight. I have a lot of technical capability and I often wonder if I might be able to apply it to doing some good for the world. It might be nice to start up a non-profit organization to do some good, while still being able to support myself. If anyone has any ideas, please let me know what you think. I'd love to hear input either about ideas or pitfalls.
By the way, you may have noticed a few things changing in the out of band section. One, I added a link to SpyOnIt, with a bot that can automatically notify you when this page changes, and the other link is to a free webcounter provided by The Counter. This one uses JavaScript to look at your current screen size, color depth and OS, and keep track of them for me. The # in the counter is all hits that are NOT me, and that successfully contact TheCounter when it loads.
Oh boy. Busy week indeed. I've called three moving companies in my local area to come out and give me moving quotes (suggested by The HomeStore website). I used their website to locate the movers too. It was helpful, so thanks Jon!
Let's see, I've set up a birthday party for my son and have to send out invites this week....laser tag at the nearest LaserQuest center. Two 20 minute games should wear the brats out enough....or enough to wear me out. Fun game, LaserQuest.
At work, I have servers to order, people to interview, stuff to make sure is happening right. Someone else is going on vacation and I'm going to be doing some of his duties as well for the next 2 weeks...and I still have all this moving stuff to think about. I'm going to need a few weeks vacation myself just to relax. Too bad I don't have that much left....ARRRRGH!
We watched a movie last night....Brazil, a Terry Gilliam movie. A few problems with this one. First off, we received Disk 3 of the set (which has a cut down version of the movie on it.) This is a problem of renting from Netflix. Their shipping methods only allow them to ship you one DVD. When a release is multiple disks, you only get the one they've picked out. And without understanding Terry Gilliam, they've chosen the wrong bloody DVD. I'll complain about it, but Netflix is still a good deal. I think we've seen 10 movies this month, and for $16.00, that's $1.60 per rental, which inludes shipping both ways. Well, anyways...the sound on this cut was terrible. I couldn't hear the dialogue well enough, and the oddity of the movie made it even harder to watch. So, don't waste your time.
We've seen some really good flicks this past week, though, including The Green Mile and The Negotiator. The Green Mile was a fantastic drama, and a superb performance by everyone involved. Tom Hanks shone as the star, and the supporting actors were all fantastic. The Negotiator was a good action flick, with a semi-surprise ending. Everyone we thought 'did it' ended up not being who actually 'did it'. The action, plot and story flow were good, and it's well worth seeing. Another movie, The Rock , was a good movie except for one thing...too much cursing. While I can understand the type of language that people use under stress, this may have been just a tad overdone. The rest of the movie was good though, and well worth watching.
Well, that's it for now. I've got paperwork to do, and a server to research.

August 28, 2000

Well, I haven't posted all weekend. I have house guests and I haven't been on the computer all weekend except to pick up the odd mail message. I've also been busy getting ready to move into the new house. We've got a closing date at the end of September and I'm ready to rock and roll. Except that there is about a million things to do before we're done moving in. One of them (giving notice) has already been done, and I've called my insurance company to get a homeowner policy already. Combination rates are great... when you have home and auto insurance both through the same company. I still have to coordinate a heap of things, like movers, utilities, paperwork, money, etc..whew! Now if I could just win $1,000,000 or so, I'd be all set.
Sorry I don't have much 'thinking-man' content today...been too busy.

August 24, 2000

I admit it.....I watched the last hour of Survivor. I didn't see ANY of the episodes before this one, and I did only watch the last hour. I tuned in because I had heard there would be some fighting in the final comments and I wanted to watch the catfight. In that, I was only mildly dissapointed. It didn't turn into some Springer-esque brawl, but that one girl had plenty to say. I was dissapointed that the final guy to cast his vote not only broke a tie, but his only final comments were to ask each of them to pick a number between one and ten. I couldn't help but think that it's kind of difficult to put $900,000 on a stupid bet like that. I would have liked him to give his reason for who he was going to vote for, and then vote. But they didn't show any comments from him at the end...and it really cheapened it for me.
Stupid numerical analysis follows here
I was also surprised that Rich didn't pick 5 or 6. He got first pick of the number set and cornered himself into the high end from the get-go by picking 7. And then Kelly didn't pick 6 to counter him! She picked three!, evening the odds on Rich by giving him the number 6 and tie-ing on 5. I'll bet she'll feel stupid about that if she thinks about it. With a pick of 6, she gets 60% of the range. With her pick, she gets 1-2-3-4 and half of 5, giving Rich 55% of the number set. You know, after 39 days maybe your brain just isn't as sharp, but this is a gimme problem from grade school. Given the chance to pick first, you should pick 5 or 6 when two people are picking. Picking 5 gives you 1-5, and 6 gives you 6-10. If the other player wants a piece of the lower number set after you pick 5, it costs him 10% of the range to pick 4. Otherwise he should be happy with the high range at 6. If (s)he doesn't understand the odds, you get free numbers when (s)he picks something besides 6.
end of numerical analysis
Of course, that just looks at the numerics. Jim (a friend) just told me that 7 is the most picked number by people when asked. Perhaps that factored into Rich's decision. Perhaps he was just 'going with his gut'. We'd have to ask him to know for sure.
Then there's the question of what rules he was imposing in his own mind, whether the loser became the contest winner, etc..the psychological analysis can get pretty deep.
Well, enough ranting about that for now...more interesting stuff later on.

August 23, 2000

I walked through my new house yesterday in a pre-drywall walkthrough. Basically making sure they put in cable, telephone and ceiling lights that I had ordered extra. I spoke with the construction supervisor about putting in Ethernet connections, and he said if I put them in that he wouldn't go ripping them out. So last night, Rich's Midnight Wiring Service went in and put 3 Ethernet drops in all running to a 4th block downstairs. I put one in the master bedroom, one in the kid's bedroom, one in the sunroom off the kitchen, and the 4th block in the extra space off the den downstairs. I wanted to do more, but it got dark and the first drop took us longer than I expected. Considering that their wiring people wanted a few thousand just to do 4 drops, I figure I got a deal doing it myself.
I get two answers from the people as far as move dates, so I'm trying to nail them down to giving me a more firm date. If you've got any advice, let me know..I could use it.

August 21, 2000

I tried this morning to update the management software in the 3Com switch. Not only didn't it take, but it fragmented the bloody network on me. All hell broke loose for about 3 minutes while I fixed it. Now the POST light is blinking, and the switch works, but I can't telnet into it. And one of the laptops is giving me fits when I try to connect it up. I hate working nights...but I'll have to turn this puppy off to reset it to its factory settings.
Then, I went back to my office and noticed this article in Government Computer News. The article is entitled "Agencies see signs that IPv4 is running out of room". That's right! Someone in DoD went to get a block of addresses, and the cookie jar was empty. Never mind that the network admins have been crying wolf for years...Now they're deciding to set up a test IPv6 pilot network of about 5 sites, according the article, BY YEARS END! Oh my...
One of the things that disturbs me so much is not that they're going to do be doing this, but the manpower required for ensuring that all the current Internet equipment eventually gets transitioned over. And the expense, and the time...and the fact that I think these switches I just put in aren't IPv6 compatible, at least in the management software. Of course, they'll have to run IPv6 networks and IPv4 side by side for QUITE a while...but it's still going to be a hassle. If you work with computer networks, I wish you luck.
As for me, I think I'm going to go back to work at McDonald's. They give their employees money towards education, I hear, and without making them sign commitment letters either. Tech companies now are ensuring that their employees don't take advantage of training opportunities by dissuading them with letters of commitment. And they're implementing it quite poorly, with no distinction between 'required' and 'non-applicable' training. So, using my education benefits to get a degree in basket-weaving or to go to a training class on Windows 2000 holds the same commitment of 1 year. And with employers holding on to that last paycheck to make sure they get paid back, the employee will have to spend the money to sue if they feel it isn't right. AIEEE! Help, I'm being repressed!

August 20, 2000

On Saturday, we made it to the monument. They have fixed things up, and the observation desk offers a nicer view now. Then we went to the American History museum. We saw fairly new exhibits about time and electricity and an extensive reworking of the transportation usual with this museum, I found it all fascinating.
Saturday Night Live again did NOT have the Computer Guy sketch...what a ripoff. The show was ok...fairly funny...but I really wanted to see the computer guy sketch.
From Netflix this weekend, we received and watched a variety of DVDs..the best being The Music Man. A long movie, but well worth it. They just don't make movies like this anymore! Music and color all over the place. Who needs all that electronic whizbang special effects when you have good music, raw talent, fantastic dancing and choreography (sp?!) and a fantastic screenplay? Maybe I still harbor something for Shirley Jones? After all, Mrs. Partridge is not easily forgettable!
Wow, what a day on Sunday. I went shopping for four simple things this morning, and ended up with a WHOLE lot more. For example, they had Cherry Coke 12-packs on sale for $2.00 each. I bought 10 of the diet version. And then, Land-O-Lakes has come out with a new mac and cheese that has 50% of your daily vitamin requirements in Vit A, D, E, B6, B12, and a few more. Most mac and cheese is pretty vitamin-free, so I wanted to scarf these up at $0.45 a box. Considering I pay $0.33 for the store brand, I think its a bargain if I can get some real value out of eating that junk. I mean, as long as I'm overweight, I may as well make sure I don't die from vitamin deficiencies.
Then, we went to a birthday party for one of my son's friends. And after that, back to said friends house for a pinata. It was interesting, because the pinata was of Pikachu. I commented that perhaps the parent might want to take a whack or two themselves at that particular icon. Amazingly noone found this as funny as I did.
Then we went out to eat. It's my sister-in-law's last day before she returns to South Korea. After that, I stopped by Blockbuster, and obtained some pre-played video games for $7 a pop. I couldn't resist, considering they'd cost $20 each new and with Nintendo games, there isn't much wear and tear that will break the cartridges. I got Pokemon Snap, Zelda and one other where the name escapes me. It was another adventure game like Zelda, and ends in 64. They were all rated E.
Well, chat at ya later. Bye for now.

August 19, 2000

Forgot to call TicketMaster to reserve tickets for the Washington Monument on I'll have to go wait in line for tickets early in the AM. They've reopened it, you know. I hear they've replaced the observation deck glass and it's much better view now. The outside looks like they did a lot of work on it. We put in a new switch at work tonight...Everything went well, but I have to update the mgmt software next week using a TFTP daemon...yuchola. You would think that they wouldn't use such historical techniques in today's equipment...and this from 3COM no less.

August 18, 2000

If you haven't visited WonderClick.Com yet, I would suggest hopping on over to there...and you too could win a NEW CAR, as Bob Barker's announcer might say. With nothing to risk, load or fear, it's a great way to start off my browsing day (or end it..). With all sorts of sweepstakes offerings, and simple entry and re-entry each day, I think it's a wonderful opportunity to enter into a raffle without paying for the tickets.
Just in case I haven't mentioned it prizes for free at I don't get anything out of it...but I want to recommend it for those of your interested in winning a NEW CAR (as Bob's announcer would say). With free chances every day to win stuff from household furniture to elecrtonics, and NEW CARS, I think it's a great way to sign on every day.

August 17, 2000

Well, I gave our briefing at NMIMC this morning. Things seem to have gone well. The only difficulties were that I spoke too fast (20 minutes instead of 30), and I stumbled through the last part of the last slide because I forgot what I was going to say.
I found that I wasn't nervous once I got up and began speaking, and I believe that I kept most of the people's interest through the briefing. They asked some good questions at the end, which I had ready answers to, being technically knowledgeable, and knowledgeable about our business areas. I think that we may be rated rather well and may end up bidding on proposed work coming down the pike.
Well, we were invited to give our oral presentation to NMIMC today. I am not sure what I am going to say. I wish I had more time to prepare the slide presentation that we handed in to them, because I can see some problems with it right now. Nowhere do we talk about who DRC really is, and there's no good ending on the presentation. Wish me luck. If we get good marks on our presentation, we'll be invited back to do proposals on work for them.

August 16, 2000

Here's an irritating thing I've seen... On the east coast, there's a chain of barbershops called The Hair Cuttery. They had these advertising posters all over the metro train stations and local advertising boards, that said "A good haircut is still just $10." Shortly after, they had changed all the signs to say "still just $11". Am I the only one that strikes as odd? I've noticed that this particular ad campaign is now no longer running, and I just had my hair cut there today. Guess how much it was? 'still just $12'
There are some VERY interesting things going on in science these days, like this news article from the BBC News: Scientists claim world cloning first. Apparently, a team in Australia has cloned a mouse and harvested embryonic stem cells from the mouse and transplanted them back to the original in order to prove that it could be done. The interesting bit of this is that recent studies have shown the possibility of creating specific cells, such as nerve cells from stem cells. As this article points out, these two techniques together may mean treatments for Alzheimers disease in the future. And at the rate that biotechnology is ramping up, I think that it will be a very few years before this type of application becomes a reality. As I grow older and have more problems, I appreciate more and more the solutions that people like this are working on.

August 15, 2000

One of my favorite things to read is the daily briefs from Wired News. For example, here is an article entitled Spy Game Intrigues Techies. Now, this sounds like a BLAST. I think it would be great to be on one of these teams, and I think the participants would have LOTS of fun. This is a life experience type of thing. Then, there's scary stuff like this: Hacker Hoax at Safeway with the included scary line of "Up to 1,000 customers telephoned to complain Saturday after a hacker appeared to have accessed a Safeway database containing details on 25,000 shoppers, the Sunday Times reported." Privacy advocates have been scared of this event for some time. It looks like they had every reason to worry..
I just loaded up IE 5.5 and was trying to access Blogger to show to someone. In case you didn't know, Blogger technology is what makes this website so easy to update. Just type in your thoughts and hit publish, and it just slips right into that cell on the ole web site. Well, I couldn't log into Blogger, and what it turns out happened was that the Blogger cookie was now no longer valid. So I went into my cookie directory, and deleted all my cookies....All 385 of them!!!! WOW! I mean, I knew that cookies were in use all over the net, but it was kind of eye-opening to know that I myself had 385 tracking tags attached to me. I've put them into a temporary directory, and intend to see how much information I can glean about myself from looking at them.

August 14, 2000

I don't know how many of you readers have access to Usenet news. But if you do, some of the best stuff pops up on This group is filled with submissions from other newsgroups and posted when the moderator thinks they're funny. I think to qualify, they're judged on a sarcasm-meter. Occasionally, one will make me laugh so hard I have to go find the Tums to quiet down that acid reflux o' mine.
Well, we got that white paper out today to NMIMC. I hope they are really serious about looking for companies to do web work for them. DRC is just PERFECT for the work they're doing, and it would be nice to have an even broader range of customers where we could strut our stuff. I hope the paper I put together shows them how qualified we are.
I rented a game from Blockbuster yesterday, a Playstation game. I got it home and even though the disk seemed to load fine, I couldn't start a new game due to scratches on the disk. The game freezes up during the opening sequence, and there's no bypass capability. Blockbuster is sure to refund my rental fee, but I'm pretty angry at the programmer for not coding enough error detection into the game. After all, the error is just during the display of a cinematic sequence that I could do without. The wonderful thing about analog media is the forgiving nature of the media, whereas in digital media, improper error detection can cause these glitches to stop a whole process. There's something to be said for imperfection, after all...
Good night....don't let the bed bugs bite....I'm going to go read my Premium This Is True.
I had read about in a recent LockerGnome. It's a neat little web site that offers free applications that run in a browser. Some examples? Calendars, Virus Scan, Loan computers, Maps, Games, English and Math learning, Hobby (Amateur Radio RF Safety Calculator, for instance). There's so many applications that I couldn't possibly name them all. The nice part is that the Internet really makes this possible. Forget all this download and install and uninstall hassle. Forget having to check for updates. You're assured that when you go to the app, you're running the latest version..this is just plain neat!

OK, I admit it, I get hooked. Hooked on Bingo, Lotto and other games of chance. On the Internet, gambling with real money seems kind of pointless to me. When there are so many places to go to win money without any stake. Well, ok, no monetary stake. All they want is your time and eyes, so they can burn brands into your brain. I figure that if I'm going to watch TV and have brands pushed at me anyway, I may as well play Bingo at the same time. The odds are unbelievably against you in Bingo and Lotto, but people do win. With the way I play Blackjack, I wouldn't want to put my money on the table anyway. This way, if I do get too involved playing Blackjack, I don't lose anything but the time I spent playing it. And if you're going to play, there's no way around that unless you hire a robot to play for ya! With the myriad of Lotto games on the 'net', you could just pick the same numbers in all of them every day and just wait till you win 1,5 or 10 million bucks. Don't hold your breath, though..

August 13, 2000

Do you remember what Kurt Vonnegut supposedly told graduates at MIT in 1997? (He didn't really). But the point made in the speech/article still goes. Wear sunscreen. Today my very angry shoulders and neck are screaming at me. Of course, I remembered the sunscreen, but someone else 'thought' it was in the car. (It wasn't.) Ouch!
I watched Saturday Night Live last night, now in its 25th season. There's a new sketch they've been doing, which people are raving about and I've caught once. The computer help-desk sketch. The help desk technician makes fun of the other employees, berating and belittling them for not knowing anything about computers. The sketch wasn't on last night, darn it! The terrible thing about good satire is how true to life it can seem. I try to teach our junior personnel that the customer should be their focus, not the technology. I hope I get that across enough. I've had my share of temporarily brain-dead users. But no matter how much someone lacks the ability to apply common sense when sitting in front of the keyboard, I don't think that it's right to treat them with discourtesy. Especially not in our business.

August 12, 2000

Home from Kings Dominion. We spent about 5 hours there, most of it in the water park. Getting old does something to your enjoyment of a place like that. I used to 'have' to ride every thrill ride, and I wouldn't mind spending an hour in a line to do so. But I just don't feel that way any more. Speaking of monopolies, though (I know I wasn't..but now I am..), they charge $2.50 for a 20-oz soda in the park, and $2.75 for a 20-oz bottle of chilled spring water. I'm glad we didn't eat in the park as well! I couldn't help but mutter 'thief' under my breath when the vendor said "Thank you very much" as I paid him for the bottled water and soda. As I searched the Internet this morning for restaurants near the theme park, I noted only one within 6 miles range. It's unbelievable how they get you! If you do decide to leave for mid-visit meal, they make sure you have to drive 12 miles round-trip unless you eat at the Burger King just outside the gate! At today's gas prices, that's $1.50 in gas alone! Plus the hassle of riding the Interstate to Ashland and back to the park. It makes me wonder how much that Burger King owner had to pay for the priviledge of opening up his restaurant right off Theme Park Way.
I'm looking for a counter for this page, and I might even put a cookie (this link is DECIDEDLY on the paranoid side but it's VERY good informative stuff about cookies) on the page to identify unique visitors...if you see a cookie in the near future (if you even watch for them), the cookie won't be dangerous or'll just identify you as having been here, I promise...If I ever do collect any info on your browsing habits, I'd let you know and give the chance to decline.
Rich...over and out.
I picked up a new magazine tonight on my way home from work. It's called Time digital. The publication peaked my interest because of an article on Virus Hunters. The article was an interesting discussion about updates on virus protection technology and where virus protection folks are trying to take us in the future. A lot of the articles in the magazine were geared toward people with technical know-how, which is just perfect for me. I've noticed that most news outlets are geared toward the computer novice, and I rarely find value in reading beyond the headlines in most newspapers and magazines. The articles in this magazine seem to be written toward techies, but not as in-depth as what you might see in Wired magazine, which is another favorite read of mine. For those of you out there with any PC knowledge at all, it's a nice read. Although if you want to be truly on the edge, I still have to recommend Wired. Still, there's no reason you can't read them both.
Anyway, it's late..I'm off to later.

August 11, 2000

I just added a link in the out of band portion of this web site. It's for subscribing to LockerGnome. LockerGnome is an ad-supported newsletter that had humble beginnings. With all the stuff that comes out on the web every day, it is next to impossible to keep up with what the latest and greatest is, in many arenas. Chris Pirillo puts out a daily and weekly summary of the newest free/cheapware, system updates, system candy, favorite link, desktop enhancement and tips. That get one of each a day, or a bunch for the week. Rather than surf around and spend all your time browsing for the best, rely on the work that Chris does. He really gets to the 'root' of the web....really!
I started thinking about the delivery mechanism of the web, and what it can and cannot do. Stemming from the discussion I just had with Terry about what a journal is, I started thinking about how this web site could expand. Don't ask me how I got there from here, but lets say that each of the subjects I talk about is considered a single 'thread' of conversation. On Usenet, threaded discussions are the norm. In a newsgroup, each participant can start a thread on a particular item, and each person's thoughts can be read by reading all the messages in a thread.. (Click on Usenet link to learn more about it). On the web, given enough resources, I could provide threaded discussions for all sorts of things, like King's Dominion, and stupid weathermen (just kidding, see last post). But that's not what the web is about. The web is about linking information, and the information delivery was meant to be uni-directional.
OK, let's organize those thoughts. Usenet is used for threaded discussion between groups of people. The Web was meant for delivery of information with hyperlinks to follow "information trains" (poetic license, me). Then that takes me off the hook for providing two-way communication in this forum...if I want to do that, I'd create or some such and ask you all to participate in a discussion of my life. Of course, if I did that, either noone would participate, or I'd be too busy discussing the intracacies of my life to actually LIVE it. OK, what about the 'information trains' I mentioned? Should I include websites devoted to Information Security, King's Dominion (or outings in general), books I've read, or people who can't read a satellite image correctly?
This web site is decidedly shallow. If I spent my life creating all of those web pages, my wife would leave me and I'd probably lose my job. Instead, what I offer is simply a shallow opinion, with hyperlinks to web pages I feel can give you better specific information. And the web is great for providing expert sites on all sorts of information. My links will decidedly sway the way you see things. For example, for Usenet, I chose to link to DEJA.COM because it's a free service and provides beginner info. I could have linked to Don't go there...they're trying to sell you something. So you see, there is some inherent value in my weblog.
Then, there is another side of the coin. Writing to my audience. If I just go on about my life, I'll bore you. If you're bored, you won't come back. Not that that's any loss to me, but I do actually have something to offer; my opinion. He had a point. As this site evolves, and I understand my writing style more and more, I'll offer more specific opinions on topics of interest in order to keep YOU interested. It may also help me to ensure I have cohesive opinions instead of just jumbled thoughts.
I'll write later, maybe about how I felt about the roller coasters at King's Dominion, or about my new favorite acid reduction medicine which I'm sure I'll need. And when I finish that book, I'll be sure to let you know how it ends. :-)
Terry Moore asked if I keep a journal. I believe this is a journal. Or at least the beginnings of one. I hope to share thoughts on what's going on in the world around me, and in the memes that I happen to have my brain dipped in at the moment. Everyone experiences the world in a vastly different way, and it is interesting to watch someone else's life go by. It may give you a perspective on things that you didn't see before. Of course, it will also end up slanting your own universal experience.
We're planning on going to King's Dominion this wekend. We had planned to go last week on Sunday, and it ended up raining. I caught hell from the wife because I depended on the weather channel and told her Sunday would be nicer than Saturday. Well, they were wrong, and I was in the doghouse for a day.
Fantastic! I just got rid of the IFRAME on this site to make it Netscape compatible! The information I ended up needing was in Table 1 of THIS ARTICLE from WebTechniques. One great thing about this is that I don't have to put frame references in my links any more. I am using Blogger to continually update my site and while it's easy to creat hyperlinks, I kept having to edit them and add target="_parent" tag properties in all of them so that it would break out of the frame when going to the link. Now, I'm using a defined cell size to format my web page, and using a server-side inclusion of the blogger html file. The other advantage is that IFRAME was requiring a HEIGHT property, which would either be too big (giving lots of whitespace to the bottom of my web page) or too small, necessitating a scroll bar in the cell (very ugly, I assure you).
Well, enough about programming..back to the salt mines.
OK. Well, I'm pushing myself today by submitting my site to Yahoo. This is going to force me to do a few things. The first will be to get rid of that IFRAME to be more Netscape compatible, and the second will be to start updating my site more often. I read in WebTechniques last night about server side includes. I wonder if Tripod includes this capability? I also read some stuff in there about XHTML and I think I'm going to start trying to keep my code XHTML compliant. That means two or three changes for keeping my tags all lower case and ensuring tag properties are in quotes.

August 10, 2000

Wow...who wrote that last log entry? Was that me? It's full of spelling and grammar errors. I wonder what I was on that day? Probably too much caffeine. That seems to have taken the place of a good night's rest in my life. In any case, I thought I'd start a mailing list that would let you know when this page changes. That way, I don't bother people who don't care, and those of you who do will know when there's updates. So, if you care, write me at and let me know.
I'm writing a white paper on DRC's capabilities re: web development and maintenance and it is taking up all my spare time. That, and we have house guests (my niece and sister-in-law from Korea). I'd like to say that I've never been busier, but of course, I have been.
Last night we watched Air Force One on DVD. If you haven't seen this movie....go out and rent it, or buy it. That is, if you like action, edge-of-your-seat suspense and Harrison Ford. If you don't like any of those, forget the movie. We were all excited watching it. I ate a whole lot of snack food during the tense parts.
The other night we watched another suspense movie that was very entertaining. The Long Kiss Goodnight on DVD. There's a bit more bad language in this one, along with some adult situations. If you're conservative, I'd rule out watching this movie. But apart from that, it was very entertaining. The humor in the movie was very adult in nature, but it was also very funny. It certainly was not immature humour or a teenager movie. The movie was extremely tense as well, and very action packed. It was also an interesting premise that I personally had never seen before.
Well, I'll write later...

August 04, 2000

Well, let's see. It's Friday and I am tossed about as ever. There never seems to be time enough to do everything. I've picked up my books on learning Visual C++ again and started reworking through the first couple of chapters. And I've been downloading fonts like nuts. There are so many dingbats out there! Dingbat fonts, of course. There are website just devoted to them. There's lightning fonts, people fonts, weather fonts, alien fonts, snowflake fonts. You name it, you can probably find it in a font.
I'm reading Cybershock by Winn Schwartau . He's fairly famous in the Information Warfare arena for providing balanced commentary on the state of information security. He dips his feat in both waters, so to speak. It's a good book, and a must read for anyone who cares about the state of Information Security today.
Well, more later when I have more to say...C ya

July 28, 2000

Lots of new things this week. Let's see.
First off ... Swish ... A VERY cool beginner's Flash creation tool. Create Flash animations quickly and easily. This tool is made for text effects, and has some very cool effects built into the program. With it, you can quickly make professional-quality animations for use on your website. Check it out at I chalked up the $30 and made some neat stuff. Like, take a gander at this: Pretty neat stuff, eh?
Let's see, what else was there?
Oh yeah, Napster is closed down by judge's order...and the point is? Don't flaunt your obvious felonies in public?
Found some really neat fonts at
I had some other stuff to say, but my impression with Swish is just so overwhelming that I forgot what else to say!

July 17, 2000

Went to the National Gallery of Art this weekend on Saturday with my son. He's 6 years old and isn't all THAT interested yet, but he has fun being with me and I think it's important to get culture into that thick head of his. He needs SOMETHING besides Pokemon his whole life. We went to the modern gallery, as I enjoy modern art more than religious and scenery paintings and such. I took some pictures with my digital camera [MagicImage 500-I/O Magic]. They came out good enough for background images. Another fun museum is the Hirshorn [sp?], although some people don't agree with my taste. I think they have plenty of thought-provoking displays and while I may not agree with all the messages, I find the artist's thoughts interesting. On Sunday, we played Monopoly and other games, such as Go-Fish and stuff, staying inside for most of the day.
I finished Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. It was a good book, and got more and more exciting the deeper you got into it. Now I just can't wait for books 5, 6 and 7! A friend of mine has introduced their daughter to the series, and she's nuts about it. I think it's great to get kids interested in reading. My son gets interested, but he's not a voracious reader. I wonder if that's good or bad because I see a lot more socialite in him than I saw in myself as a child. Still, he reads well, and understands when he wants to put forth the effort; I've just got to get him to slow down long enough to do so.
I've found something I like now...beef jerky. Not that I'm turning into a survivalist or some kind of macho hunter. It's a great snack. You have to put so much energy into actually eating it that the calories are practically gone before you've swallowed it, and it's certainly much better than a box of Pringles(tm) to be chewing on. Teriyaki beef jerky is the flavor I've hooked myself on. The only problem with this new habit is the price....$5.99 for 4 oz. of snack, while it lasts a while, seems excessive. I think I've found me some better deals on eBay, but we'll see if they live up to the promise.
Out for now...Rich