June 25, 2001

Oh, yeah, speaking of dropping me a line. I've updated the Email me! link over there on the right. Seems it has been wrong for a while now.
See my mug down at the bottom right of this web page? It should link to my online cam at Spotlife. Notice the big change? Well, if you know me or watch often, you'd see that I've cut my beard. Now I don't look like Grizzly Adams any more. I've cut it down to a goatee. So now I look like Sigmund Freud(sp?) or Nostradamus...what do you think? Drop me a line.

June 24, 2001

Do you use Ultraplayer, Sonique, Media Player or WinAMP? Of course you do. Do you ever look at what is available in terms of the visualizations? You know, the graphical spectrum analyzers and such that sync to the music? At the WildTangent Web Site you can download a control that has several visualizations that can be activated in these players. One of them is ChristmasDancer, which shows off some really nice 3-d effects! A young woman in Christmassy clothing dancing (to the music?!? depends what you are listening to). The mirror effect and the full-screen DirectX is really nice. Of course, they have a bunch of other visualizations too. Some of them actually sync to the music.

The only problem that I have with the control is the price they want for commerical use of the control in web sites....$1000 for 1 URL for simple 3-d effects such as spinning logos or the like....Considering that alot of people are using Flash to do stuff like this, and they only have to pay one price for the tool, I find use-based pricing just too expensive to be practical. Of course, the tool is free for non-commercial use. I guess they hope that s/w and web developers will get a taste for using the control and bring it with them to work....the control looks like it offers alot for those who are graphically inclined....too bad I'm still on stick figures.

But, in any case, now I have a beautiful dancing girl on my desktop at home while I listen to online radio and the portion of my music collection that I've 'puterized.

Does anyone out there use TruGreen ChemLawn's residential service? I use them to take care of my lawn with regular feedings, but they are always trying to sell me other services. Some of my plants apparently have bugs (spider mites and scales) and they want to 'take care' of them for me. Now, living in a small home, I own about 6 small shrubs total...and they wanted to service them for $29 a pop, 5 times. That's $150 folks, to get rid of some bugs. I told them no way, and went to Kmart to pick up some chemicals to spray with.
If you have any hints for the best way to get rid of spider mites and scales without spending too much money, let me know, will ya?

June 21, 2001

I just read an article in The New Haven Advocate | News&Commentary section. It's about a company that has the fleet version of GPS in its vehicles, and charges you for every time you exceed the speed limit, $150 per incident. The article talks about Big Brother and how this may be some kind of invasion of privacy. Me, I'm not so sure that the angle on this story is right.....
If I own a vehicle and you wish to rent it from me, and I have the means to protect my assets by providing a monetary incentive for you to not use it in a manner inconsistent with its purpose, I should have every right to do so. Provided, of course, that I make you aware of the device, its intent and the impact it may have on our arrangement, you should have no problem with it. This company's contract had the following text (according to the article):

Vehicles in excess of posted speed limit will be charged $150 fee per occurence. All our vehicles are GPS equipped.

Now, not everyone knows what GPS is and that the technology could be used to report average speeds over distance. So, the contract is poorly written from the get-go. That in and of itself is a problem. Acme should be forced to rewrite this section of its contract to make it clear:

If you speed, we will know, because all of our vehicles have technology installed in them to report violators. If you violate the posted speed limit, you will be charged $150, even if the local authorities do not catch you. The car itself will automatically report these violations to us and you will be fined. Every car we rent has this capability and it is used in every rental we make. If you sign this contract, you agree to pay $150 if you exceed the speed limit, and you agree to pay this amount every time you do so.

Not only should the contract be modified this way, but there should be an 'initial' block next to it because it is out of the ordinary. However, this article takes the stance that doing something like this is somehow wrong. Myself, I think the company has every right to protect its assets by ensuring that it is not abused. And James Turner and anyone else....they have a right to rent from someone else...someone who doesn't use this technology. I can imagine, though, that if this technique becomes normal, such technology may make the daily insurance rate for rentals drop. You know, the $14-$25 a day you may pony up for rental insurance? Perhaps companies that have this installed in the vehicle might offer you that same insurance for $4 or $5 per day? And the risk may be lowered so much that the rental fee itself shows a cost benefit itself. So, there should be adequate monetary mitigation for a law-abiding renter to make the solid choice. I don't know how it all will turn out...but at least you know where I currently stand.

June 16, 2001

What is wrong with people? Is the economy so wonderful that people don't need jobs? Last week, we wanted to hire someone to clean the house. We advertised in a local paper, and had about 40 or so people call for the job. We arranged for 8 people to come for a personal interview. Of those 8 people, only 3 (yes, that's three, not an astigmatic eight) showed up for their scheduled interview. What is the point of making an appointment you don't intend to keep? And if you have a telephone, why can't you call to say you're not coming?
This week, we called a Sears authorized kitchen cabinet dealer to give us an estimate for adding on to our kitchen cabinets. First they called to cancel their first appointment, but made an appointment with us for the next day. To this, they showed up 30 minutes late. Of couse, the man who showed up had an excuse....but still. Now, we gave him a half hour of our time, and with that he said he needed to come back, because he needed us to work out details. Fine, we made an appointment with him for Friday at 6:30 pm. Well, here it is Saturday.....that must be some traffic jam..

June 10, 2001

Gee, look at that date - 5/21/01 - The last time I blogged was so long ago. I had initially started this project to keep my writing skills up to date. You know, practice makes perfect and all that noise. It just hasn't turned out that way. With life being so busy, I haven't had time to stop and comment out loud on the news or anything else that's going on in my life. Well, I just thought I'd drop a line to say hey. So many interesting things are going on though. The economy isn't going strong. New technology is still going strong though... Seagate has a 180 GB hard drive out now, and IBM is working on technology that will bring 400 GB hard drives to us very soon as well! There was an article out there on the net explaining how the breakthrough they came across will help to continue the Moore's Law progression of hard drive space, where previously there was thought to be a physical barrier in just how much a hard drive could hold. Invent, invent, invent...amazing what they can do nowadays.
Another interesting thing was something I read about in The Rapidly Changing Face of Computing. It's about how twisted fiber optic cable can have more tensile strength than the steel core they use in electrical cables. Right now, electrical cables carry current on the aluminum cover around a steel core. But the electrical lines have a maximum diameter that is restricted by the strength vs. weight problem of the steel core. With a fiber core, not only would they be able to make thicker electrical lines (Californians are cheering now!) to carry more current, but the core itself might become useful to deliver bandwith along with the electricity. Hmmm, can you say "fiber to the household"? Of course, the U.S. isn't about ready to replace all the electrical lines in the country, but for new homes in the future, this could show a lot of promise.
Also, you'll notice by the webcam a new backdrop. My wife bought some nice cherry bookcases, a desk and a filing drawer for my office space. You'll see the bookcases behind my ugly head. Let me know if it gets too messy.