December 31, 2003

Lets call yesterday Day 0 and today Day 1. Of what, you may ask? Of me starting on the Atkins Diet. Yesterday I purged myself of all starches and sugars that I normally make the staple of my diet. No longer will I eat Chicken McNuggets, Sausage McMuffins or pretzels and potato chips. Also, no longer will I drink the gallons of soda pop that I have been known to drink in a week's time. I plan to lose at LEAST 20 pounds (I'm weighing in at very close to 230 these days. While I have a big frame, it's not THAT big). I'd like to get back down to 185/190. I was in very good shape at that weight, but if I can just get to 20x, I'll be happy. I figured I'd use the blog to keep a food log and also to let you know what I'm feeling. So, first the food:

Day 0
  • One Ham and Cheese Omelet
  • 1-2 oz. of salted peanuts (didn't know they were illegal during induction)
  • 2 slim jims (didn't know they were illegal)
  • Most of a box of chicken hot wings [0 carbs, I checked]
  • A salad with 1/4 cup of tomatos, cheese and bacon bits (had the dressing because I didn't know better)
  • Lots and LOTS of water all day long

Day 1 - so far
  • One Ham and Cheese Omelet for breakfast
  • 3/4 lb. of Jumbo Shrimp for lunch (mmmm)
  • I plan on having the same dinner (with a low carb dressing I found - Helmann's Rockin' Ranch Dipping Sauce) as yesterday, including the wings.
Even though I had technically 'cheated' on Day 0, I still found myself waking up with sore muscles (notably biceps and thigh muscles), like you feel after a light workout when you haven't done anything in a long time. I haven't gotten a caffeine-absence headache yet (and Im grateful!). My tongue feels oily and greasy too. I had expected problems with my acidic stomach, but I think the absense of caffeine has really helped with it. No volcanic eruptions yet, and no heartburn. We'll see how it goes, eh?

December 26, 2003

Merry Christmas! Hope that Santa brought you everything that you asked for. For Christmas, I got a few things, including Hordes of the Underdark. Now I can disappear from the real world for hours at a time, forsaking all others, my homework, etc, etc. Also got a carry bag for my new Digital 8 Sony Video Camera. It stores audio/video in the same format as miniDV, except on 8mm tapes rather than 4mm tapes. I purchased a Firewire adapter, as readers know, and I've FINALLY FIGURED OUT HOW TO MAKE IT NOT FREEZE during video captures!!! On Usenet, I've seen a few posts about computers locking up and freezing during video capture over IEEE 1394. I've had NO problems since I've started capturing to a temp directory off of my system drive. Every time I've tried to capture video using a secondary hard disk, it would freeze up. So, I've moved enough files off of my system partition to have 3GB free, and I capture to this partition instead. Perhaps the second drive's spin up time is too slow for the program to capture to it properly, and that causes the lock ups. I'm going to try a few experiments to see if that's the problem. If you've been having this problem, I'd suggest freeing room on your system drive and trying it again.

December 23, 2003

From the Random BLING FAQ:
Is this legal?
Absolutely. There is nothing illegal about any of our system. It is not a pyramid scheme or illegal "frontloading" system.

BULLSHIT! A pyramid scheme is defined as: a fraud based on recruiting an increasing number of investors. That means that to make money, more investors have to get involved. Once the suckersinvestors dry up, the money dries up - leaving the majority of the people who've put their faith in the plan holding the (empty) bag. The web site will likely dissapear (or maybe not, if they're not in any danger of being caught) and you'll never see a dime of your investment. Early investors will reap their rewards, because crime, unfortunately, does pay. But it's still illegal, and immoral. Don't participate in these schemes, please.

December 22, 2003

:Sigh: Randombling - a word that I came up with in July 2000 when I wanted to create a Blog - now it appears someone has registered the name on the web and begun using it as the name of their newest program to make money for free. Folks, there is no such thing as a free lunch. Pyramid programs aren't new, and they aren't news. What they are is illegal. Besides the fact that the few links I've found to do NOT work when you click on them (404 errors!), a pyramid program is only good for the people who start the program. Then the program becomes useless because there's no suckers left.

I haven't found a working link yet, but being as they're using Paypal, those links should expire as fast as they get their money from you. Does the program work - no. Don't contribute - continue on with your travels on the web. [Soap Box off]
YAY! Finished my Christmas shopping three days early! (Dec. 22nd) How about you - did you finish yours? I bought my last gift for the season today (although I may stop and buy some cards at Rite-Aid tomorrow (but I won't tell if you don't). The house is all decorated and we're happily feeding all the employees of Dominion Power. Although I have icicles under the new deck this year, I think I'll be adding more lights at the end of the season (when they go on sale this weekend, that is!). It would be nice if gaudy light displays had a purpose when it was nice and warm outside. I hate putting up lights in the cold.

December 21, 2003

I'm playing with a three column CSS based layout that I found on the net. If you'd like to see the layout while I work on it, click here. Once Tripod is done fixing their MIME tags, I'll finish up the page and put it out.

December 18, 2003

Looks like Tripod hasn't fixed the .htc file MIME type on their servers yet. When they do, you'll notice that I'm playing with a feature in Stylesheets and DHTML called DHTML behaviors. It allows you to use CSS to apply scripted actions to a tag, just like you can assign formatting and colors to tags. The reason it doesn't work yet is that the htc MIME type is text/x-component, and Tripod sends the files out as text/html. This breaks the functionality and makes it not work. I'm sure my code works because I've tested it from IIS and it works fine, and I've tested it from my local file system and it works fine there, too.

December 15, 2003

If the web site looks funny, it's because I'm playing with Stylesheets. Part of the re-learning process for me. I'm thinking of playing with Javascript next term during my class, and I thought it'd be fun to implement some Javascript functions into a stylesheet. Maybe make all the links on my page rainbow-flash when you mouse-over them. The stylesheet would change how the tags' default actions operate. To learn about Stylesheets, I've consulted the WebMonkey, specifically, Mulder's Stylesheet Tutorial.
Good morning. It's an icy morning here in Virginia, but the schools are open (slightly late) and the air is not too cold. We should see some melting here, I think. All but two gifts from my Christmas shopping are done. I still have to mail some, but I actually brought the package with me today so it should get done today. I hate the winter season, but I like Christmas well enough. We've done the tree and some of the lights (although I need to put up a few more lights on the front of the house yet...I've had bad luck the last 2 weekends, what with schoolwork and the snow. With school out, and no snow this coming weekend, I should be fine, eh?
For the site redesign, I'm looking at a three column approach with a DHTML column in the middle. The only concern right now is how Google and the other search engines will pick up the different topics that I've planned. Were I to do a frames site, I think the engines would be able to pick up the content I switch into the middle frame. With DHTML, I'm not so sure. Any thoughts?

December 14, 2003

The ads are gone. Long gone are the days of the free ride, and I'm just catching up. Tripod has been good to me for years, and I've decided to bite the bullet and pay for the web hosting I enjoy. With the ads gone, I'll be able to design my page the way I want without worrying about popups and inline ads. Since I'm taking a Javascript class next semester, I may want to apply some of the knowledge to my own site. I'm also thinking about doing an RSS feed and posting more often (and more useful info).
Technology sucks. No, seriously, folks. More specifically, digital technologies suck. Here's a pipe dream for you - digital video capture. I have a firewire ( 1394) card in my computer and a Digital 8 camcorder. I tried transferring data via the digital interface into a variety of products (doesn't matter much since they all use the same Microsoft OS-embedded driver for the video capture.) The first time I tried it, it was going good. I got 10 full minutes before I ran out of disk space (had specified the wrong drive for the temp file - dumb me). So, I changed the disk drive setting and tried again. It froze, within a second of capturing the video. Restarted the OS. Restarted the hardware. Rebooted, reinstalled drivers, restarted computer, camcorder, etc....over and over. Spent hours on it. Note the 1AM post time. This sucks big time.

Here's the problem with digital technology, folks. It only has two states - on or off - working or not working. You don't get a fuzzy capture, but when it's not working 100%, you don't get a fuzzy capture, if you get my drift. At least with analog technology, when something wasn't working, you'd get at least partially to what you wanted. Here's a prime example. Take a VHS tape. Take a penknife. Now scrape off a 1/4" of the material from the tape. Play it in your VCR. Note the manifestation of the error. Now, take a DVD - one you'll never want to watch again. Take the same penknife, and just nick the sucker. Put it in your player, and watch the error manifest itself, and possibly halt your player for a full minute or stop the movie altogether when it can't figure out what to do.

This digital transfer stuff just is NOT cutting it for me, or for a few hundred other people who've posted on Usenet. I'm betting there's a few thousand more out there who don't even know what Usenet is and are calling and causing problems to the video capture software companies. Luckily, I also have a TV capture card in my PC, so I can hook it up to the analog RCA video jack on the card, and capture my movies that way. The high quality may not be there, but at least I can get the videos into the computer. And low quality is better than nothing.

December 12, 2003

People are always wanting stuff for free. I went to look at my web statistics, and I see the search term: use showshifter without paying for it. (roll eyes). If you want to use Showshifter, buy it. Go to their website and buy a license to it. Don't be a jerk. Software piracy hurts the software industry. No matter how you cut it, it cuts jobs. If you don't have the money to buy the product, go out and get a job delivering pizza for a month, and you'll have the money to buy it. Ask for it for Christmas, whatever! If you can afford a computer and a TV tuner card, you can afford to pay for Showshifter. The computer industry is in bad enough shape without freeloaders.
Hello, readers (and all you wonderful visitors from Google and other search engines). School's out for 6th Term. Midterm for one class was a bear, but I did get a C on it, landing a B for the course. I decided not to take the final. I just couldn't bear to sit through another exam like that. So, my midterm was almost half of my grade for the course. I'm trying to set up my account with Visitorville - having probelms with it though...we'll see how it goes. Next term starts in January...Calculus and Javascript - should be a fun semester, no? Christmas is coming, and I've done my shopping for most everyone. It feels good to get it out of the way. Some stuff has happened, but I've not had time to write. Don't really have time now, but, check out SwishMax - the newest version of Swish that came out within the last 2 months or so. It's a good product which I've recommended since it first came out. The upgrades to it include a scripting language. It should stand on its own for doing animated web content, but it's like Flash-lite. It will get the job done for most simple needs.
I'll probably work on the web site over the next month...let's see what motivates me.

November 12, 2003

Long time no write. It's been more than a month since I've written, although I've had the urge before today. Lots of things I'd love to talk about, but none of it seemed important enough. At the moment, though, I'm very tired because I stayed up late two nights in a row. When you get older, that can really begin to affect you. Last night it was because I was watching 'A Beautiful Mind' - a movie about John Nash, Princeton intelligentsia who decided to live with his paranoid schizophrenia rather than be medicated to the point of uselessness, and his wife who supported him and his decision. It's a good movie, if you like those types of movies (which I do). But, be aware that it's a longer movie and you should give yourself the time you need to watch it (> 2 hours).

The night before it was The Sopranos that had me up - I'm watching the series on DVD from Netflix (the link is from them). I just watched the first three episodes from the fourth season on Monday night. I'm impressed with the show. In the first season it looked like it was going to be formulaic, what with one person dying in each show. All I concentrated on earlier was who was going to be picked to be bumped off in each episode. It was a good idea to stop that later on. The show became a lot more meaningful.

Also, saw an innovative new service on the net, called Visitorville. It's a unique web visit data collection service with a SIMS-like interface, that shows your web traffic in real time, graphically, with people and buses (for referrers). Details on visitors show as people's passports, and your web pages each show as buildings, so you can watch people move from building to building. The only down-side is the price. They want $20 a month for the service. For a small website like mine (50 visits on a lucky month and free web page servicing), it makes no sense. I would recommend they change their business model to make room for the little guy like me if they want to succeed.

I've been watching a few stocks lately, to see if I can find any predictors to recovering companies. A while ago, I made a few predictions, and never acted on them. Putting your money where your mouth is is the only way you'll make money, of course. But I'm shy when it comes to actually putting up vs. shutting up. If any of my estimates come up, maybe I'll mention my stock choosing strategy. A little more research is warranted, though.

September 28, 2003

Listen to music online? I have broadband, so I listen online. Check out my Launchcast radio station. It's got ads every 6 or so songs, but its better than listening to the radio since I have so much editorial control. My favorite feature is being able to say "I NEVER WANT TO HEAR THAT SONG AGAIN!", or artist, or album.... It learns well, too.

September 02, 2003

I ran into an interesting problem this past weekend. A neighbor of mine was trying to play Warcraft II Battle.Net edition over an IPX network. I had properly installed the IPX networking components on both of his computers, and he had been working just fine. He called me this Monday and said that he could no longer connect to games over IPX. He was receiving a "waiting for response" message from the connecting computer, once he attempted to connect to the game created by the source computer. The fact that he could see the game over the network told me that IPX was at least partially working.
I tried setting his IPX frametypes to 802.3, and even tried remapping his internal IPX network numbers to something other than the defaults (he is using Windows XP). Nothing worked. Some things made it worse. I even tried uninstalling and reinstalling IPX. No luck. The solution ended up being the removal of some additional protocols that had been installed (noone seems to know who did it) - The Network Monitor protocol and the IPV6 Developer Edition protocol had both been installed on one of the machines. It is POSSIBLE, I guess, that the Network Monitor protocol was grabbing the IPX packets and not giving them back (sensing that they were not meant for that client machine, perhaps?). Knowing that Warcraft II probably used some old IPX gaming code and was not optimized for machine->machine communications leads me to believe this was probably the case. Hopefully, my posting the solution will aid others who have the problem.

August 30, 2003

It's been a long time since I've written anything in my blog. I've been busy writing for class, and that had me burned out on sitting down and writing even more. But, that term is over, and a new one is starting. I'll have enough for my A.A. in December if I take Calculus next term, and I should be on track for my B.S. by next December. As some of you already know, I'm attending virtual studies at Limestone College.
On to today's subject. I wanted to give kudos to a software product called IsoBuster. A friend of a relative was using drag and drop CD-RW software. While the concept of such software is very nice, it uses an unreliable mechanism for writing out directory information. Unlike a multi-session CD, where you burn a new directory each time, this utilizes UDF to build a chained directory that is read from the disk. However, if UDF fails in a burn, it can turn the CD into a coaster. I had the CD sent to me and I went on a pilgrimage for CD repair products.

I tried CDRoller, CDCheck, CD Data Rescue and ISOBuster. CDRoller looked like it could do the job, but was taking more than an hour to scan the UDF data from the CD. CDCheck, while free, apparently doesn't do repairs on UDF disks. CD Data Rescue seemed to be taking less time to scan the CD, but it was still taking a while, and had a heftier price tag than CDRoller, so I kept looking. I loaded up ISOBuster, and it scanned the CD and showed me the data it found in less than 5 minutes. I clicked on Recover, and it told me I needed to buy it (by the way I only had to buy it because it was a UDF disk. Multi-session recovery and other options are free with ISOBuster). I clicked on the Buy Now! link, bought my registration key from Kagi (which was very quick and I've bought regkeys from them before), and within 10 minutes I had registered the software and was writing 500MB of precious digital photographs to my hard drive! So, KUDOS to ISOBuster. If you need CD Data Recovery, you may want to check out this easy to use, and inexpensive tool (only $20 for the extended functionality). I intend to hang on to it for other coasters, as I run into them every now and again.
I'm still taking piano lessons at Jordan Kitt's Music and advancing in my knowledge, if not in my skill at the keyboard. I'm also playing both Chess and Bridge again. I love the Internet. I purchased an out-of-print book through Amazon's search and find feature, and I'm still amazed at the way that the Internet can so easily link buyers and sellers. The book is an indexed guide to winning moves based on approximately 60,000 tournament games (The Blue Book to Winning Chess Moves, or something like that) and I think was last printed in 1977. I remember scouring used book stores to find titles that were so obscure. The 'net definitely changes the world of information.
Well, schoolwork to do, although I'll likely be found on Pogo playing their new Poker game. While I'd just LOVE to go out and waterseal my deck or mow my lawn (yeah, RIGHT!), it is thundering in the near distance, and the wind tells me the rain is to follow quite soon.

July 27, 2003

I took my midterm exam for Expository Prose last night. It was an interesting exam, but I'm not sure how well I did. The test was basically a thesis paper using two writings we were asked to be familiar with before the exam. One of the writings we were asked to use was "The Internet: A Clear and Present Danger" by Cathleen A. Cleaver. Apparently, there are a lot of links to this famous speech on the Internet, but at the moment I can't find one that links to the entire driveling text. Reading this piece of supposedly professional writing had my neck hairs so raised that I found it difficult to focus on the writing at hand. My head was clouded with hate as I attempted to control my thoughts and restrict them to the task at hand. I'm fairly certain that while writing about her text that I did not stay on subject, and I may have suffered a grade or two for it.
What incensed me so much about the prattling Cleaver's commentary was how it shifted back and forth between commentary on pornography and child pornography. Even after reading the text a few times, it was difficult to establish when she was speaking about which. It was slightly apparent that she almost equated the two during her writing of the commentary, and that infuriated me to no end. Her essay even brings up that all-too-familiar comment of "With a few clicks of the mouse, anyone, any child, canget graphic and often violent sexual images--the kind of stuff it used to be difficult to find without exceptional effort and some significant personal risk." Doesn't Cathleen realize that The Internet is just another bad neighborhood? When you bring many societies together, it is going to culminate in a community that has a very diverse set of decency standards, and you're going to need to learn to deal with that.
The Internet is not the demon here, any more than outlawing guns will stop people from killing each other. The Internet is merely an effective tool for its purposes. Its purposes are indeed broad, and include both legal and illegal activity. Dealing with it will be just as effective as dealing with it without the automated tools made available by the Internet itself. There is no added requirement for additional legislation, more government and more red tape, just to deal with problems that have been around for centuries. Bestiality wasn't invented in 1960 by some geek with the first ARPA node. Rape certainly has been around on this earth longer than known written history. Just because we like to pretend that the society we live in is moral, religious, or upstanding in some way, does not give us the right to take away the rights of others for their own protection.
If I want to protect my children from bad neighborhoods, I do not allow them to play there, at least not alone. When personal responsibility is "illogical and ineffective" (her words!), there is something wrong with the parents. It is certainly NOT the responsibility of government to restrict the rights of many just to protect the few who have misunderstood the Internet to be a safe place to let your children peruse for hours at a time without supervision.
Sorry, I know I'm ranting. I've much more to say, but I have other things to do. I hope that all of this anger didn't show through on my midterm. If it did, I hope I was more structured and applied it to the question at hand properly....sigh.

July 23, 2003

The RIAA has announced today plans to begin suing libraries for possession of copy machines. Spokesman William Melater was heard to say "All those libraries out there with books of music in them. We own the copyrights for most of the sheet music in their pop sections. Why, anyone can come in there and copy the sheet music and reproduce our works without a care in the world as to how many laws they're breaking!". With the copy machine device, anyone entering the library free of charge can copy popular sheet music without paying the authors a cent. Asked why they didn't think of this sooner, Mr. Melater said, "Well, we just got these new lawyers, see, and they figured that the local governments might have deeper pockets than some of those Universities we're going after...."

Note to reader: This is a spoof, and, yeah - it IS kind of hard to tell the difference between reality and stupidity these days, isn't it?

July 21, 2003

Started working on the van today. She's leaking and/or burning oil. I bought it second hand - what a waste that was. Should have used it as a down-payment for a new car. We bought a new Camry anyway - so I'm driving my 3-year old Neon to/from work. The van will become a project vehicle for me. Step one will be finding out where that oil leak is and fixing it. Then I may start to work on the engine - see if I can make her stop burning oil. (of course, I may end up totally destroying the engine in the process ;)

Back to today - I got under her and started cleaning up the gunk from the current leak(s), to be able to find the source. Once I get it all de-gunked, I'll drive her around for a while to see what I can find. It was a good respite from doing my homework, anyway. I needed the break.

July 19, 2003

I've just read an article on the Internet (found here) regarding how DirecTV has thrown out a large dragnet to catch satellite pirates. Unfortunately, their legal dragnet is catching innocent victims as well. There is one thing that I did not understand in the article. Rod Sosa, an entrepreneur from Texas was one of the innocent people that DirecTV managed to convince to settle out of court for $3,500, merely for owning a piece of equipment that could be used to pirate their signal. In the article, it mentions that Rod had no such intentions, and had not, in fact, stolen any of DirecTV's programming. Yet, he willingly paid their blackmail? In this country, there is a legal system. That legal system is supposed to be designed to protect us from prosecution for crimes of which we are innocent. Granted that it does not always work. However, given that the evidence of proof of theft of service is on the accuser in this instance, what did Rod have to lose except some time off from work? Even at $300/day (a good six-digit salary), Rod could apparently afford to spend as much as 11 full days in court arguing his case. Why do people buckle so easily under the threat of legal action when they are innocent? What ever happened to standing up for what is right? It is very difficult for me to understand why someone would allow themselves to be pushed around and bullied by big business just because they wield some mysterious power called a 'lawsuit'. It's time we stood up for our rights as citizens and stopped being scared little mice. If we continue to allow big business to push us around, they won't stop doing it. 'nuf said....just had to get that off my chest.

July 11, 2003

Got involved in yet another addiction: This time it's a Virtual Reality World (currently in BETA) called There. If you're interested, visit at You can sign up for the BETA or send me an email and I'll send you a referral (so you get bumped ahead in the list). In the beta, you get 10,000 Therebucks to spend. It's based on XML and a nice VR engine. You can buy stuff, ride a hoverboard/hovercraft/dune buggy, etc.... It's been a very sociable experience, and I think it'll be nice for people who like The Sims, but are looking for more freedom in what they can 'do'. It's a cross between Sims and a MUD (if you know what that is...). Well, anyway, see you There!

July 01, 2003

Well, Blogger.Com has redesigned their blogging tool. Something else to get used to....but, hey, can't complain - I use their free service. I've been looking through my logs. Recently, I've seen a few hits from people looking for CLEP brain dumps. What's up with that? Have these people never heard of the LIBRARY? Try learning the subject you want to CLEP, and then visit a library for one of the many CLEP study guides that have been published for years. For the most part, these study guides are the same as the tests, just with different specifics in the questions. If you learn the material, you'll do fine. Brain dumps for CLEPs?

We've successfully moved our network, phones, users and office to Vienna, VA. It's been a harrowing few weeks, but we have a few loose ends to tie up and we'll be all done. Tomorrow I hope to tie up most of that stuff. Classes are done - but then started right back up again with Music Appreciation (should fit in great with my piano lessons, no?) and Expository Prose (that's one reason I started the blog anyway, right? To practice writing more?) I have this fear of writing. It's very difficult to get started. Once I do, though, thoughts roll out of my head faster than I can type them.

I've read the new Harry Potter book. One thing that made "The Order of the Phoenix" an interesting read was knowing that someone was going to die in the book. Every time that something started happening to one of the characters, you were saying to yourself, "Is this the one? Did they die?" It added that external expectation into the whole mystery of the book. It took me a few days to gulp down all 870 pages, due to work and all, but I've finished it for a few days now, and I'm ready for the next two already. Kudos to J.K. Rowling. I bought some Bertie Botts Beans and got two chaps I know to try the dirt flavored ones. You'd be surprised how UN-brave grown-ups can be. My son and I ate every flavor in the box between the two of us last summer. It was a fun experiment....gross, but fart humour! Some of them are positively disgusting, but hell, you just swallow those quicker...

June 19, 2003

I've been remiss of late to writing in the blog, so I'm just going to brain dump a bunch of random stuff. First of all - Looks like I will have my Associate's Degree this year (Decemeber will be graduation) - one way or the other. I need three more courses, two of which I've signed up for next semester (Music Appreciation and Expository Prose - we're going to be getting artsy). The last must be Database Programming (which I may be able to test out of), or Calculus I (which I may just study for the CLEP and CLEP out of..).

New subject: Usenet and Google - I must once again say that the Usenet archive on Google is a lifesaving device. If you don't already know - Try and type in some identifying search terms from a problem you can't solve. It's FANTASTIC - just found the solution to Outlook giving me an 'Operation Failed' message. I'm running WindowsXP, and had opened Outlook in a remote session earlier today - I opened Processes on Task Manager, and there was a hidden Outlook running still in the background - closed it and fixed the error....I love being able to look at problems other people have had and seeing the solution just SITTING's great. - Jeffrey Harrow publishes The Harrow Technology Report. In it - Jeff said "It's not what you know, but how quickly you can find what you need to know" - that is so true. The Internet sure has changed how things are done - no longer do I spend hours on bizarre problems - the answers are right there. Go read his newsletter - it's great. I've been reading it for years.

New subject: Pepsi's Win a Billion Sweepstakes - backed by Berkshire "Where else you gonna get a billion dollars?" Hathaway. Amazing - This is just A BUTTLOAD of cash - I've got 8 entries so far. Also, I think I read somewhere that the final numbers are to be randomly picked by a monkey on their TV show special....if it matches the code for the final contestant, they'll win. Let me just ask, can TV get any stupider? I mean, yeah, I want to win a Billion Dollars, but does it have to be televised, and does it have to be done so - what's the word?! - Fox-TV-like? Maybe the special will be aired on Fox. If it's true, it just goes to show the level of intellect that the average American TV viewer has....:sigh:

New subject: The new series of Monk! The TV show on USA Network about an obsessive-compulsive detective. I LOVE this show. If you haven't seen it from last season (It wasn't as well publicized), you've got to catch it. The season premiere is tomorrow and it may bring me back to watching TV on a steady basis again, like I used to watch the X-Files each week religiously. Especially if you're a Columbo fan, this series will be for you!

Speaking of TV - I have a TV capture card (ATI TV Wonder VE, if you care) and just bought some software for it called Showshifter. The software works great - and I've been using it every day of the 15-day trial period, to record shows to my hard drive for viewing and writing to VCD. Using the TitanTV Electronic Program Guide, and searching for shows I want, I've been able to find and record shows I've wanted to watch, including an episode or two of Monk. If you have a TV capture card, you should check out this software - you can even get the professional edition of the DivX codec with it for good capture quality.

Well, out of breath for later....Rich

May 29, 2003

Compaq makes racks for their servers - but you can put other stuff in them. For this, they make shelves. Recently, we inherited a gaggle of racks (5) and one shelf. The shelf did not have a part number, but we wanted more. So, I called Compaq. I talked w/Tech support, Customer Service, the routing center, the sales team, and a variety of other people. I estimate that I spoke with 10 different people - 4 of which claimed to be actually able to help me. After a variety of dead-end calls, part numbers that did not exist, part numbers that are not in the sales' teams systems (yes, multiple sales teams..), and 4 hours all told on the phone, I called Dell.
Dell makes server racks and shelves for their racks. They're compatible with the racks I have. Their shelves fit fine - how do I know? They sent me one to test out. It fits just fine. Total time on phone with Dell representative (reached on first phone call, I might add) - 20 minutes TOPS. Guess who's getting my vote for ordering these shelves?

May 25, 2003

Found another collection of O. Henry's works in a used book store today. Book was c. 1957 or so, and contains some publications that I had never read before. Included were some letters of his, written to friends and colleagues. Some of them were very amusing, and his writing style was even consistent in his humorous asides to his friends. For those of you who are not aware, O. Henry has always been my favorite writer. His most famous stories are the staples of high school English teachers, "The Ransom of Red Chief" and "The Gift of the Magi" having been force-feed literature in more than one of my own educational endeavours. If anyone could inspire me to write, this short-story author would certainly be the man. Again, one of those things that I can say 'someday' to, like so many other desires cut off by the expectation of the Grim Reaper's edged blade. There is never enough time....

May 19, 2003

Why Matrix: Reloaded was a bad movie - let me count the ways:

  1. Fight Scenes: Boring, trite, rehashed - In the first movie, Neo learns how to 'see' the matrix and change it. Yet, he continues to use kung-fu moves from the 60s and 70s to beat up the bad guys. In one fight scene, he's taking on what appears to be a hundred bad guys, and instead of using his 'superpowers', he's relying on moves that even the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles wouldn't use in their movies. The fight scenes are contrived. Some of them happen for no reason. In one part of the movie, they use a fight to 'make sure' that Neo is who he says he is - what was that?
  2. Laurence Fishburne:Sigh - sorry, dude - your career is over after this one. Between the too-obvious hamming up of his lines, metre and tone, and the extremely POOR speaking abilities demonstrated at the 'Sermon on the Mount', Larry has lost his cool. Literally. By the end of the movie, you'll think of him as just a whiny hanger-on for Neo - just extra baggage to carry around. His acting was sub-par, and he really could have used some of those 'special' effects to beef up his voice for his pre-orgy-party speech.
  3. Sex:Does anyone remember Quantum Leap? It was a great concept - could have been a Sci-Fi KILLER show - then they added sex, and the show became BAD - really bad. In a sci-fi flick, sexual tension is expected and desired. Sex itself ruins the show, always. Let me repeat myself - If you are making a science fiction movie or TV show - do not, under any circumstance, allow the director to show people having sex. And, if you do have to, make it short, very short. It seemed like a half hour before the scene was over. And make sure it doesn't look like a kid making love to his mother....speaking of which....
  4. Carrie-Ann Moss:Did I get that spelling right? Boy did she get old fast. Love interest? My god, she looks old enough to have birthed Neo. She's not sexy. Even the leather outfit didn't help. Not one bit. ewww, take it off...
  5. Discovery:This is what makes a science fiction film great. Unfortunately, Matrix:Reloaded didn't have any. Nothing new - sorry, but it's just same ole, same ole. We wanted to see Neo using all of his superpowers in this flick, but all he could do was fly real fast. Total lack of imagination on the writer's part. I blame them completely for the letdown.

That's just my opinion. I was disappointed. The Matrix was a great movie. Should have just loaded it once, though.

May 17, 2003

My blog has hit a bit of a dry spell. I haven't been writing because I've been busy, or because I've forgotten about my blog. Seems fear is a factor, the more I realize that people may read. I've not wanted to put anything in my blog that might seem off-color, or any part of the 'evil Rich'. Nobody reads the blog anyway, so I don't know what that's all about. I've given some thought to whether the blog is about me, or about the things that I do or find interesting, and that question brings about a weird answer. Are these two things not one and the same? I am what I do. We all are what we do. That is what makes each of us unique, our perspectives, our experiences. Some of the stuff that's UP, first.
Just finished Term 2 at Limestone College. Signed up for 6 more credits on Term 3 - I am on a ROLL.
Jon Davis, a prior associate of mine, has just had a BEAUTIFUL baby. Congratulations, man, and welcome to fatherhood, responsibility and all that.
People continue to send me forwarded emails of emotional or uplifting emails.....sigh. If you were going to write someone a letter, would you open the envelope, stuff in a newpaper clipping, and then just mail it, without adding any personal comment? I can understand wanting to share something with someone, but it seems that that is all some people do is forward stuff all day. Between the corn and the horrible net jokes that I've seen countless times over the years, please note that your FORWARDED sentimental/crap joke email will not be read. It will follow the Spam into the Spam folder.
Cloudmark's SpamNet BETA is over, and now they're charging for their software. We beta testers get to keep our beta copies forever, though. It's a shame they couldn't find a free business model. Their software works great.
I went and purchased a few small toys this past month. First of which was a Lexar JumpDrive - the USB memory stick that holds 128MB of files. The great thing about this is how Windows XP Pro handles it. I put a CD or two of my music on it, and just plug it in to whichever computer I'm at. Windows XP just pops up Media Player and starts playing all the songs stored on it.
I also purchased MIDI cables for hooking up my keyboard. I've recorded a few MIDIs, but I'm not quite used to performing yet. I get nervous and flub all over the place. I'll put a few on the site when I get better at it.

May 03, 2003

Second semester is out at Limestone. New semester begins on Monday. I signed up for two classes again - but they may not have processed one of them. Will have to follow up on Monday. We've been doing preparation work for moving out to Merrifield. We got a Meridian One phone system, and I've been learning that system. Trying to make sure that everyone has a good game plan and target job when we get there. We'll be merging IT people with other departments, including acquisitions from last year, and I want to make sure that I can get everyone assigned duties, and take care of stuff from a supervisorial standpoint (target job objectives with measurable results..etc..). Anyways, just have had a lot on my mind lately, and have been working hard, so I haven't had time to write.
Bought a USB memory stick, the Lexmark 128MB one - it's nice. I've already used it to copy my homework folders for next semester to, so I'll be able to have my work with me at the library, or even at the office at lunch.

April 17, 2003

In CNET News article: Mitnick: You can trust a hacker:
While some security experts learned their craft in the government sector or through school, many of today's consultants and researchers were yesterday's hackers. In many cases, the person may not have done anything illegal, but in other instances, it was a matter of not having been caught, Mitnick said.

Of course, the missing irony here is: Are you sure you want to hire a hacker that got caught? Obviously, if you hacked computers, and got caught, you must have overlooked something while you were doing your thing, no? Industry pundits may have it right when they say that convicted hackers have nothing to add to the security mix, but for the wrong reason. Saying that the hacker community has nothing to add to the 'security posture' of the network as a whole may be wrong, but it turns out that this can be a completely different statement than saying "We don't hire ex-con hackers".

April 15, 2003

In the New Scientist today,
Snail mail attack could be launched online
I remember LONG ago, when I were a young lad....ok, not that long ago, when waging a junk mail war on someone seemed like a fun practical joke, like calling up the Army and telling them maybe you wanted to enlist, giving off your friend/enemies mailing address and phone number...then subscribing them to all kinds of catalogs. But, with the Internet, you can take practical joking to a new level.

In fact, there are dozens of practical joke sites on the Internet, like The Gag Works, and The Prank Place. There have been lists of Practical Jokes since the dawn of the net, like on alt.shenanigans. The Internet is a great place to merge technology with things that you could only do by hand years ago, and automating things with no morally redeeming value seems to be what drives technology. Some of these are pretty funny, folks, like >the fake lottery tickets...
Did the timing belt (and water pump while we were in there) on the van. Next thing I 'may' do is some body work - but I'm waiting for my paint to come in that I ordered from Mopar. Once it does, I'm going to hit a few rusted/peeled spots and see whether it's something I want to spend my time on. In other news, I've got to paint the front of my house this year. Not something I'm looking forward to, but it really should be done. The cheap-ass paint job they did initially is already peeling where it rained hard on it. Last year I did the front of my garage, but this time I'll be up on the ladder...ugh.

April 12, 2003

Took a long scenic drive on the Shenandoh Skyline drive today - it was clear and good weather, but the trees haven't regained their leaves yet. They have a stable at the 51 mile marker that you can go horseback riding, provided you knew enough to reserve in advance (that's one day early) - Skyline Stables...540-999-2210. On the way back, a strange odor starting coming out of the right side of the van. It smelled like something burning, but it wasn't quite as acrid as rubber burning, although it had a rubber 'flavor' about the smell. I stopped the car, and it seemed to be coming more from the exhaust than anywhere else. We let the van cool down, and I looked for the source, but couldn't find it. Then we drove home without recurrence...:sigh: - buying a used vehicle is one big crap shoot...but I'm going to stick with this van...put enough money into it to keep it running - not so much good money after bad (if the engine blows, forget it), but in standard maintenance items the last owner didn't bother with, like changing the serpentine belt, the PVC valve, the spark plugs, various filters, radiator cap, trans fluid, fuel filter, etc, etc. Buying the parts myself seems to be saving me some money - I just need to find a fairly inexpensive mechanic who will do reliable cheap labor.
Why does it take men an average of 10 minutes to get ready to leave the house, while it takes a woman an average of 687576327362876397 years? Just curious...

April 06, 2003

I bought a 1996 Plymouth Grand Voyager SE with 136,000 miles on it - to replace my 1993 Honda Civic that had been stolen and crashed. All told, it cost me a few hundred bucks to upgrade to a van, but I think it's going to be worth it. I bought it at Woodbridge Auto Auction, and I've had the systems checked. Timing belt looks good, but it needs a new serpentine (not immediately...) belt due to some cracks in it. Replaced the PCV valve, air filter, had the radiator flushed and the transmission looked at. It's got some bumps and bruises, but fairly minor (I could use a new left front quarter panel (misleading - only about an eighth panel on the van..), but I can live without). I think Im going to experiment with this car. Having not paid much for it, and wanting to learn more about cars, I'm going to be a lot more apt to tinker with it. Besides, at the auto auction I saw cars going for $700 that were about in the same shape as my Honda was....I can afford that to just get to work... Yet another hobby ;)

April 01, 2003

I was reading CNN tonight - and came across this: - 'Idol' contestant booted over scandal - Apr. 1, 2003
A month after Fox disqualified a singer from the show amid revelations that she had posed topless on an Internet porn site, the network said Monday it was expelling another finalist, Corey Clark, who is facing trial on misdemeanor charges of battery against his sister and resisting arrest.
Wait a minute? Wouldn't that make them better contestants? Isn't scandal a part of being a celebrity? Instead of pushing them off the show, shouldn't that immediately qualify them to be finalists? You know, a free pass for the round, like on Survivor?
"What, You dealt drugs to orphans in east L.A.?" To hell with what Simon thinks of your singing, you're a BORN SUPERSTAR!!!!

March 30, 2003

We went to the West End Dinner Theatre last night and saw the Pirates of Penzance [click for a picture]. It was a wonderful show - very lively, well acted, and well-sung. Before we went, I read a review in Potomac Stages. I don't agree with the reviewer about the music at all. The whole show seemed full of sound to me, and I didn't detect one bit of missing music. I did, howver, have to agree with the opinion about Ron Sarro as the Major General. It seemed to me that the actor was not comfortable in his mustache during the singing, and he certainly could have hammed up the role a bit more. As for the rest of the cast, they were wonderful. The women, especially Mabel, had beautiful vocal range, and Thomas Howley nailed the lead quite well!

March 29, 2003

Remember that total information system I blogged about, that our wonderful government is working on, under the guise of tracking terrorists? In Wired 11.04: VIEW Howard Bloom spouts the following:
Frankly, the critics are missing the point.

Frankly, Howard Bloom is missing the point.
Well, on your commute, flip the switch to your TIA-developed Communicator platform and initiate a search. It's being designed to knit together all kinds of disparate data: travel documents, phone records, credit card and banking statements, even server logs.

This is exactly the problem. We, the American people, believe that this constitutes an unhealthy level of information about us. We believe that it is practically criminal to be able to piece this information together without a search warrant or a valid reason. The technology will become available to us, as he conjectures. But, there are MANY people out there that I don't want knowing what books I buy, when I travel, where I live, and when I'm likely to be on vacation so they can clean out my house.

Just think what a search engine would do - it would let you pull up Mapquest, and click on a link that tells you who's currently on vacation and when they're likely to return. It would also tell you which ones bought portable DVD players, jewelry and other fenceable items. I really don't understand why Mr. Bloom pretends that this is OK with him. It's certainly not ok with me.
You see the new * characters after the links in my page? They link content to blogdex - the weblog diffusion index. This is an index of blogs and the links they provide. When you click on one, a pop up window will display to tell you what other blogs are pointing to the same link.
There's a guy in Iraq who runs a Blog called: Where is Raed ?
:: Monday, March 24, 2003 ::
The last two days we didn�t have internet access.

With today being March 29th, I'm beginning to worry about him. Granted, survival is probably the first and only thing on his mind about now, but the blog is apparently important for him. Maybe he's just without access to the 'net for right now. I hope he gets online again soon so we can read about what's happening from the Iraqi civilian point of view...
Ok, so 11 days and no writing - what's that about? Well, I've been busy. Work is busy as hell. We're planning a move to a new office space to save loads of money. The move isn't bad, but the problem is that a lot of things are not resolved yet, politically or technically. So a lot of planning is on hold for the move until certain decisions are made, and the time it takes to make them is just very stressful. In addition, we're busy as beavers with software releases and other projects. School started up again. One of the classes I signed up for (Computer Organization) turned out to be a class I already had credit for (the registrar had changed his mind, apparently), so I had to do a quickie-turn-around, putting me about a week behind on assignments and readying. The class I signed up for is Legal Issues in Technology, another work-at-your-own-pace course. Deja vu is hitting me pretty hard (think Psychology), and I think I'm about 2 pages of writing behind at the moment. (major sigh)

What else is new? Oh yeah, thieves broke into both my wife's car and mine (and quite a few neighbors). They actual drove mine off. The police told me the guy driving didn't turn on the headlights. As the cops tried to pull him over (about a mile from my house), the thieves spun my car out (into a guardrail) and made a run for it. Two of the three got away. Allegedly, one of them stole a bicycle, and was found a short time later a few miles up the road. He's in jail now. Meanwhile, the faceplate on my wife's stereo had to be replaced, and my car is just about totalled (waiting to see what the insurance company says)

March 18, 2003

Patch your servers! Patch your IIS Servers!! New HOLE, new patch, as of this week. Patch them now, before it's too late - InfoWorld:�US Army hacked via IIS hole:�March 18, 2003:�By�Paul Roberts:�Security. I'm going to go out on a limb and say "2 weeks" - that's when the worm will start. And....let me guess....60% vulnerable....

March 17, 2003

I've got something to say about this Wired News Article and it's implications, but it's been said by many others before me (even years ago). As an example, just take this test at the Llama Party web site. Think about it, do airplanes get hijacked by people with poor credit ratings, or do airplanes get blown up by terrorist Extremists? Just what the HECK are they thinking?

March 16, 2003

Now coming at you in full 1280x1024 in 17" LCD color! I purchased a Kogi 17" LCD monitor for $299. It's black bordered and has built-in speakers (although I doubt I'll use them..). I wanted the extra resolution for doing graphics work, and I started up Blender already to test it out. It looks fantastic on the screen. Let's see, what else is going on? Oh, yeah - got a B in pre-calc, and an A in Internet Applications. Just signed up for my 3rd semester at Limestone College. I'm taking Introduction to Programming II and Legal Issues in Technology. At the same time, I'm going to try to study for the CLEP test for Calculus. Taking math classes over the Internet is a ridiculous idea. I found myself turning to people near me to help with difficult concepts (e.g. logarithms, ugh). Why should I pay for the whole class when I can test out of it? Ramble later...

March 11, 2003

If anyone else out there is trying to learn the piano, you might be interested in this: A Chords Speller chart I found online, complete with fingerings. Since I've taken up piano, I've found that it can be hard to find simple one-stop FREE resources to answer questions about piano. Fake books are a great resource for learning songs, but if you don't know all of your chords, you DEFINITELY need a chart.

March 07, 2003

Think your government isn't watching you? Think your privacy is safe? Remember the article I wrote about the Visa card monitoring program that Poindexter was starting? Well, go and get yourself a copy of Wired magazine for April 2003, and open it up to page 29 of the Special Report insert (Life in 2013). You know, it used to be a net joke to attach 'keyword lists' to your emails as a snafu to the good old NSA. You know, a list like: assassinate kill murder president AK-47 nuclear weapons grenada terrorist, etc.....' just to make sure your email was flagged for monitoring.... I used to think it was a joke by paranoid delusionists...certainly such a list of key words would be thrown away were they not in any context to incite. Well, it looks like many Americans are not as paranoid as we all thought they were (well, ok - maybe those UFO freaks and the guys with the tin-foil hats...). This (fictional, for now, but how far do you think this is from the current truth?) report about how they monitored movements, followed a citizen, did biometric scans, voicescans, RESPIRATORY MEASUREMENTS during surveillance, all based on the Visa card purchases of an individual for (and this, friends, is the KICKER.......) buying BOOKS!

Just yesterday, I was watching television, and a commercial came on: A kid walks into a library/book store and asks for a list of books. The stern old lady behind the counter says: I'm sorry, sir, but these books are no longer available. At this point, two goon-types walk up behind the guy who asked for the books...the commercial then puts up a big set of words: What if this weren't America? (or something to that tone....what if you didn't have rights to read what you wanted...) It was all very ominous...but the majority of the American public may NEVER know how true it is....go get April's WIRED magazine. Read it...especially those pages....and if I don't blog for another 6 months, I'm probably rotting in a jail cell somewhere under the U.S. Patriot Act. Someone call Senator McCarthy and tell him he can come back.

March 05, 2003

Note: Macromedia has released another security update to their Flash player. If you have this plugin (and 75% or more of you do), please click on Yes when asked if you'd like to accept the flash update when you come to this page. It will help protect your computer against worms, viruses, and other nasties...

March 01, 2003

My 15" LCD screen is too small. Working on this modeling software with the small screen is starting to get on my nerves. The screen only goes up to 1024x768 and working with graphics applications comfortably, I think I want more screen real estate. Looking around, it seems $336 after rebate is the lowest (according to Price Watch) to be found...still slightly out of my price range. 18" LCDs are coming down in price, though, so I'll keep my eyes/ears open. If you hear of any really good deals let me know..
I started a group on Yahoo Groups. If you read this blog, you might be interested in joining - it's called Rich's Random Hobby, since I have a tendency to jump around amongst so many. Go here to sign up if you're interested in files/photos, chat, shared messages, curiosity, whatever.

February 26, 2003

Who says nothing good comes out of Open Source? (Ok, no one that I know - but here's more proof). A group of donators got together and bought the rights to a defunct commercial package. They're publishing it as Open Source, and they're freely distributing it at this time. It's 3-d modeling software, with built-in animation and rendering tools. I've been playing with Blender now for about a week, and I must say that it is FUN to be able to create 3-d stuff on the fly, and make AVI's from easily created keyframe animation. Apparently Blender has been around for years, and if you're motivated enough, you could create a whole game from it (use version 2.25 - 2.26 is broke in this area). While my own efforts PALE in comparison, I have found it a cheap and quick way to get into the hobby.

February 24, 2003

Just got back my midterm results for Pre-calc. Got a 76 on it - ugh. Looks like I might pull a C in the class...Final is whenever I'm ready to take it. I'm more confident about the second part of the class, though, so I should be fine....we'll see....part of the exam will cover logarithms...something I'm not all that good at. In my other class, I finished up early - midterm and final - have an A for the class, but that's not saying much - the class was definitely below my challenge level.

Looks like I haven't written anything in here for a long time. I've taken up all kinds of hobbies lately, 3-d modeling, chess (again...), but mostly I'm trying to concentrate on schoolwork. Taking mathematics over the Internet is not much different than trying to read a book and I may forgo the classroom experience for Calculus. In Term 2, I'm going to take a light load (from a brain perspective) so I may just study Calc and go for a CLEP. Been busy at work, too - lots of changes going people coming on board, etc.....well, back to work.