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.