December 06, 2004

I've made changes to the list of my chess games, adding a dynamically sorted table (written in Javascript) to more easily sort the games (by date, opponents, results). It still needs some work, and as I have time I will work on it. Not writing for a while seems to be a habit of mine. My interests wax and wane and I'm usually busy as hell doing different things. Got the Christmas tree up yesterday, and we decorated inside the house. Now it's time for me to do outside as well. Garish light displays and other things, evergreens with flashing lights right outside my door. That tree may have to be cut down in a year or two, it's growing fairly fast.

November 22, 2004

Blogger Features

Blogger enables me to easily publish this running commentary on my webpage, and they added a new feature where you can post to your blog via email (They probably added it MONTHS ago, but I just saw it). So, I�m trying it out. Ignore the slight interruption.

Why do I bother writing in this thing? Bah, who cares. I just put up some more games last night on the Chess Games page. The games that are up on here are only ones that I've played on Pogo because that site emails you a pgn formatted email that is easily saved down and analyzed by a script that I wrote in VBScript (thanks to Crafty/Bob Hyatt). Oh yeah, the Crafty FTP site seems to be down. I guess that Bob's school is having problems with their RAID device, and the machine has been taken down until it gets fixed. In the meantime, you can download Crafty from a variety of pages, but the easiest to remember might be . They also have the 'SE' version of Crafty with different personalities for the Engine. Just in case you wanted to play a game against Capablanca.
As for me, I'm still trying to survive the middlegame without blundering away the advantages that I've learned to accumulate in the openings. I got some books out of the library and I'm going to try to read through them, especially the one called 'Winning Chess Strategies' by Yasser Seirawan. I read some of that book last night, and it had some good advice right from the first chapter.
Getting ready for Thanksgiving. This year I didn't freeze the turkey like I did two years ago. That was interesting, trying to defrost a turkey the night before Thanksgiving....heh. Some lessons you learn because of the pain they cause in trying to right the error.

November 12, 2004

Some important stuff in the news first. They've chosen Mahmoud Abbas to chair the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). This is a right step for the Palestinians away from the politics of Yasser Arafat. Abbas and Arafat certainly did not see eye to eye, and Abbas may be more concerned with the good of the Palestinians than with his own interests, unlike Arafat. Last night Tony Blair and President Bush met for dinner, and discussed establishing a peace envoy to perhaps take advantage of the passing of the torch to take steps toward peace in the region.

Another important replacement is being done in the United States, with the choice of Alberto Gonzales to take over in place of John Ashcroft as U.S. Attorney General. He seems to be a much less polarizing candidate for the position, with less of a fundamentalist background. In fact, unlike Bush, he does not oppose abortion or affirmative action, which may go a long way to making him the best choice from a liberal standpoint (compared to other Republican possibilities). There was some discussion about him being a hard-liner on the death penalty, and his work with the Texas Governor in this area may become a point of contention, but the death penalty discussion seems to be one that is easily tabled for larger issues.

My links today point to, the Internet's free Encyclopedia. I wanted to mention them because yesterday I wanted to find out more about Abbas, and I went to the link there. I found it interesting that his Wikipedia entry already contained information about his appointment as chair to the PLO, considering that it had just happened. It struck me that having an open source Encyclopedia, accessible so readily and so up to date is a great thing about the Internet. That's it...nothing overly inspiring - I just thought it was really cool/neat.

The author of Chess Position Trainer is working hard on his program and the last of a few bugs. He'd love for you to download his program, try it out, and leave suggestions for him on the Forums on his website. I think it's an awesome program, and I sent him a donation. If you have any interest in playing Chess, this is a fantastic program. I'm working on a Repertoire set for the tool that will contain Mating and Endgame puzzles that you can download and train with. Remember that chess is a game of recognizing patterns in the chess game, and that the more you practice with those patterns, the more readily you will be able to recognize them during a game. My game is getting better (although I still have a lot of work to do on choosing an effective defense - the Sicilian Defense is very complex!!).

November 10, 2004

The citizenry is about to get at least a partial break from the religious regime of the U.S. Government. John Ashcroft is resigning as Attorney General. I, for one, cannot wait to see who takes his place and I hope that his replacement's politics and personal beliefs are just a tad more toward the center. Of course, with a Republican White House and Congress, we'll certainly get a replacement that leans to the right. Hopefully, however, they can avoid someone who leans so much that they occasionally tip over. Let's face it folks, I'm surprised John Ashcroft can walk a straight line without wearing weights in his left shoe.
In his letter of resignation, Attorney General Ashcroft states: "Yet, I believe that the Department of Justice would be well served by new leadership and fresh inspiration". Many in the country might agree with this statement. However, we should not forget that Mr. Ashcroft served during trying times, and he and his office have done a bang up job of helping to keep this country safe. I may not agree with some of his methods or opinions, but results are something he should be appreciated for. John, we'll miss having you as a punching bag. It's time to find a new reason for disliking the Bush administration.

November 08, 2004

Free Chess Position Trainer software is available at this link. I haven't tried it yet, but will when I get home tonight. It's very difficult to find any free chess software beyond just analysis and chess playing. This software may actually help you study opening moves, and develop pattern recognition. Without playing hundreds of games, you may never be able to do this yourself. The developer made the software for himself and offers it for free, asking for donations if you like it.
Finally Have More Time To Write -
Well, things are calming down, both at work and at home, and I've got some time to write. This past weekend, I spent trying to get NDISWRAPPER to load up at boot time. I'm not having a whole lot of luck getting it to run automatically. It seems to me that the wireless signal can take up to 7 minutes to find the access point, and there are still problems with the code that can cause kernel crashes and lockups if you try to use the interface before it's locked on to a signal. Turning off SSID broadcasts helped a bit, but there are still some problems that prevent the interface from coming up at boot time. Once the machine boots, I can execute the setup script and have the interface come right up, but then I have to restart Samba and Apache so they can bind to the IP address that is then available. Considering I'm trying to setup a closet machine, I don't want to have to manually bring it up (no monitor on the machine is the ultimate goal..).
I'm almost to the point where I want to just wire the closet with Ethernet, but I'll play with it some more. At least I got ndiswrapper working at all. It looks to me by the Usenet posts I'm reading that some people can't even get that far.

October 20, 2004

That's it! Finished, fini! 120 credit hours are now complete, and I have earned my degree. I finished my last class final today, and I am done. My time is now my own, and I can spend it doing the things that I enjoy without having to worry about scheduling in school assignments. In December I will receive my B.S. in Computer Science/Programming. Talk to you later. Just had to get that out. It feels good to be done!

October 15, 2004

I've been having a problem with Windows' Remote Desktops MMC Snap-In - but I think I've solved it. The problem was that the mouse would sometimes dissapear in one but not all of the Remote Desktop sessions I was using. There were a few posts on the Usenet newsgroups about this, but I didn't find a solution, but rather a hint toward one. It turns out that the solution is that the particular Remote Desktop session thinks that the CTRL key is being held down. To fix it, merely hold and release CTRL and the mouse will re-appear.

October 10, 2004

Added my Chess games in a link to the left. It links to an index of games that I've put through the Open Source chess engine called Crafty (written by Bob Hyatt). Also, you know those penguins in the last post? Well, seems they ARE plotting something! I saw a movie preview in the theater the other day where they plot and execute a zoo escape. Looks like a ball. Keep an eye out for it in theaters this summer.

September 27, 2004

Because, obviously, SOMEONE has way too much time on their hands, they've created - Penguins are taking over. Not only do I wish I had the time to waste to do something like this, but I wish I had the motivation and drive as well. Then I'd actually spend it doing something useful.

September 14, 2004

Taking my last class for my degree. Of course, rather than pick something simple, I chose yet another course with tons of reading and a term paper. Impact of Sexuality on Behaviour, or something close to that. It's a Sociology major course. At least it's interesting reading ;)

Going to add a section to the web site: Chess Games I've played (w/annotations by Crafty). It's more for my own records than anything else. I'm playing again and I keep making stupid errors. Ah, the impatience of youth, right? The first game can be seen here. I'll make a link for the sidebar and an index for them, maybe with my own commentary thrown in as I have time.

Meanwhile, still busy as a beaver, but almost done!! (smile, keep the chin up - talk at you later)

August 16, 2004

God, it's been a long time since I've had time to write. Besides being swamped at work with a bunch of new projects (both a good thing and a bad thing, I guess), working through these two classes at school, and trying to handle my re-found addiction to Everquest, well...what can I say?
Just stopping to blab for a moment and don't have time for a real update. I have stuff to do.

June 19, 2004

Dear Blog - It has been a month since my last writing:
Wow, it's been a busy month. If it wasn't one thing, it was another this month. Lots and lots of homework for 2 of my last 5 classes. The Psychology course ended up being a whole BOATload of reading and had a term paper as well. At work, they sent me on travel to Texas for 8 days and at home my son is just getting out for summer vacation.
I can't wait until I'm done with this degree. I may not go right back for the Master's program, and instead concentrate on other things in my life for a little while.
One of those things might be considering moving to the Dallas-Fort Worth area in Texas. Real Estate is depressed there at the moment, and it's just the opposite here in the Washington, DC area. It might be just the right time to buy something down there. I'm trying to work it through the office to find an assignment down there, but I'm not going to marry myself to my company. If I can find something on my own that will make sense, I will go for it.
The weather down there is great, too. We came back to Virginia, and the moment we stepped off the plane, it was like a wall of humidity stopped us in our tracks. The temperature was lower, but it felt a whole hell of a lot hotter.
Well, that's it for the moment...ta ta

May 20, 2004

Eat Butter, Not Margarine - Did you ever get the feeling that 'the experts' just don't know what the hell they're talking about? I remember, years ago, the great push toward margarine. Advertising expounded on the health benefits of eating margarine instead of butter, saying it was better for you. Granted, we're talking 30 years ago, but some of those reading this will surely remember. Well, now, with the advent of the Atkins and other low-carbohydrate diets, margarine is now considered less healthy than butter. And, of course, studies are going to back up this conclusion as well - Looking at this article in Nature Magazine: Trans-fats come under fire: Nutrition experts call for ban on hidden food villain.:
"Evidence for the harmful effects of trans-fats has mounted, however. In 2002, a US expert committee charged with making nutritional recommendations concluded that there was no level of trans-fats in the diet that could be deemed safe."

Wow, that's strong language for talking about our food. What the article is talking about is hydrogenated vegetable oil. That's the ingredient in your Country Crock(tm) or other margarine that lets you spread it around the same way soft butter is spread. What gets me is that we have spent years and years on processing foods in this country to make them more available, more accessible and more desireable to the majority, so that they could be mass produced and mass sold. In doing so, we've removed the food value, and instead have created a supermarket full of food that is going to end up killing us.
Disclaimer: I have lost 25 pounds on the Atkins diet and am a proponent of healthy alternatives for processed foods, where possible.

May 13, 2004

In New Scientist, an article I'd like to bring to your attention mentions the use of auditory signals from a CPU being used for cryptanalysis in a recent study. So, on top of Tempest considerations, now we may have to worry about high-frequency sound filters for classified and sensitive cryptographic devices.

May 12, 2004

I got my degree! I'm finally legal after 20 years! My Associate of Arts Degree from Limestone College - here it is:

May 11, 2004

Tried this - it didn't work: :: the dot org era
This didn't work either: ATI sponsors 3d cards :: :: the dot org era
Is this a possible fix for ATI Radeon problems with Blender?
"After removing 'atioglxx.dll' menus draw correctly. Performance depends on system speed now."
. Will have to check tomorrow. Blender is even faster on an old 400Mhz laptop than my 2.4Ghz machine with an ATI Radeon 7000 VE card.

Well, I checked it - it didn't fix the problem - Blender still is shit-slow drawing menu items.
IIS 6 Error: "Unable to read configuration for Microsoft Internet Information Server" while trying to add FrontPage Extensions 2002 to a new web site. The solution was in this article on Usenet (thanks Google). Basically, Sharepoint Portal Services, which is web-based, is required to make this installation. Sharepoint had been stopped on the server (by me) due to our 'if you don't need it, disable it' policy. Well, turns out you need it. So, if you have this problem, there's your potential solution.

May 10, 2004

A friend of mine, not a friend of ours, but one of mine, asked me to post a link to his website. Alright, it's my son, and he's learning to build a website using Tripod's Site Builder. So give it a visit at He's got some games on there and a comic that he drew. Feel free to send me any comments you'd like to pass on. He isn't old enough for his own email address yet.

May 09, 2004

Andy Kaufman: Dead or Alive? The Associated Press and the Newspaper Network of Central Ohio bring you this news of a welcome back party scheduled for Andy Kaufman next Sunday, just in case he was faking it. If you don't know who Andy is/was, go out and rent yourself the movie: Man on the Moon, starring Jim Carrey. The movie is an external biographical account of the comics life, and covers pretty much everything the public knows about Andy. Unfortunately for the world, lung cancer took "Latka Gravis" away from us twenty years ago. Before dying, Andy promised that if he were faking his death, he'd resurface in twenty years. So, next Sunday his manager is going to hold a bash just in case.

Having been blessed with watching "Taxi" in the 80's, and having appreciated much of his work, I can tell you that I'll be keeping an ear out to hear how the party turns out. At the same time, I woulnd't expect anything, although if I was Bob Zmuda, I'd have done the same thing. Cheers to you, Bob, for keeping the dream alive. But if our boy doesn't show, let's not keep him going as long as Elvis, alright?

May 05, 2004

From the Dumb Crooks Department comes this article: / News / Odds & ends / Computer glitch gives out free gasoline: "They discovered that because of a computer glitch they could swipe their drivers' licenses instead of credit cards to gas up for free at the pumps outside the Meijer chain" - Now, this can't be a good idea, can it? I mean - if you swipe your license, you're giving your information to the chain, and they can track you down and be punished, right. Well, it looks like 107 people did not figure out that there might be just such a consequence, and the police ARE hunting them down. The scary thing is that many of these 107 were college students. That's right, people supposedly intelligent enough to go on to a higher education stole gas from a gas station, and swiped their personal identification into the computer so that they could be readily identified. I don't even need to add a personal comment to that. It practically stands on its own.

May 02, 2004

Dedication and Love Overcomes Dermatitis and Kills Deadly Virus!
In this article from Sky News: "Deadly hospital superbug MRSA may have finally met its match - a lotion developed by a humble trucker". This is just amazing. You have to read the article for the full effect. But, it's incredible that this man developed this lotion on his own, just to help his wife's dermatitis. If I were a religious man, I would have put odds on that (G)od himself rewarded the trucker for his hard work through the secondary use of this lotion. Even as a solution to dermatitis, this lotion would have been worth developing, but to have it also fight a deadly bug is a great bonus.
The End Is In Sight! As of Friday, the semester is done. I've five classes remaining before I finish my B.S. in Computer Science/Programming, and of those, only 2 are required classes. The next semester begins Monday, and I'm taking Database Programming (SQL) and Educational Psychology (an elective). I should be finished taking classes this year, October 22nd. Then I'll shop around for a Master's program, meaning I should think about studying for the GRE, etc. If there is one thing I'm learning from this experience, is that my mind is getting old, and it's hard for me to study material that is completely new to me. Along with everything else in my life, it's hard to study for exams and keep up with the amount of work that is required in some of these classes. Thank god for my experience in some of the field, making some of the classes easy.

April 30, 2004

Somebody keep a watch on Dave Barry! A New Scientist article warns us about the danger of exploding eggs after they have been removed from the microwave. The first thing I thought of when reading the article was: Cool! I need to try that. And then the introspect within said, "That sounds like something Dave Barry might try!". A few years ago[1993 Miami Herald], Dave made famous the Strawberry Pop-Tart for its ability to burst into flames when left in a toaster for too long (*requires a broken or modified toaster). There were numerous incidents on the 'net with pictures and everything of duplications of the Dave Barry experiment. It might be fun to microwave eggs, and figure out the timing to explosion, coming up with the countdown for exploding eggs to see if they'd be viable as low-cost grenades. (*Don't try this at home - you could lose an eye - check the article!)
Forget butterfly wings - watch out for gerbils! The old adage about a butterlfly's wings in China creating a hurricane in America seeks to point out how small effects in nature can blossom and cause large-scale change. In New Scientist today, there is an article about how the gerbil population in Kazakhstan can predict the coming of plague outbreaks. Of course, the gerbil seems to be the main carrier of the disease, so the relationship is indeed sensible. The article is an interesting read, and show the importance of scientific research and data collection. In this particular situation, it looks like we should thank the Soviet scientists who provided the data that helped reach the conclusions in the article.
I haven't written in a few days. Tuesday and Wednesday I was down in Fort Worth, TX for business. I like Texas - it's very flat down there, and you can see for miles and miles. Tall buildings far into the distance show you which direction you're pointed in when you're miles out. The sky is humongous, and you almost have 180 degrees of view. One side of the sky can be clear as a bell, as you watch a storm pass to the East. It's gorgeous, strickly from an enormity of nature standpoint.

April 26, 2004

Found a virus (or a trojan) this morning on two web servers that had been put on servers over the weekend. This virus/trojan disabled the port 443 (SSL) web sites on these two boxes. It was listening on port 443 and another 1489 or somesuch port. I found it using fport.exe to be a file called ntoskrnl.exe. It had installed itself as a service called MS Windows Update, running as SYSTEM. So, I killed the process and moved off the file. Instead of 1660 KB, the file was 704KB, and it was in a different directory c:\winnt\system32\config. Once the service was disabled, IIS had no problem taking the port back.
These two servers had not had the patches that came from Microsoft last week (week before?), and I'm supposing that that was the entry point for this particular bug. I'm still looking through the bug to see what I can see, but it's an executable, so full analysis will be tough, and I probably don't have the time for it.

April 23, 2004

Information Should Be Free! No, I don't mean free like free beer. I mean free as in uncontrolled. The importance of history and accurate and full reporting of events is perhaps one of the most important freedoms that we have in this country. Free speech, free press, the basic ground rules of the U.S. Constitution, are being stepped upon. In The Washington Post this morning :Photos of Soldiers' Coffins Revive Controversy ( The article is not so much about the dead soldiers who are giving their lives, but the irony of the fact that the freedoms they are fighting for, the freedom from repression, is taking more and more hold here in their home country. As a veteran and a citizen, it just makes me sick when our well-meaning government places unnecessary controls on the dissemination of imagery and information that will help the American people make informed decisions. Death is a part of war, and placing restrictions on the dissemination of these images and facts is nothing short of criminal!

April 22, 2004

But is anybody listening? The World Wide Web is a huge library of information. Just today, a colleague and I were musing at the power of the Internet and how our filing cabinets were dinosaurs of a different age; an age that ended within the past decade. You used to print out or copy articles of interest, highlight information that might be important to you and then stick it in a filing drawer, to be pulled out years later when someone had a question. It was the difference between being a sage and just being an old employee, or perhaps the difference between being a pack rat or not.

The Internet makes us all librarians of our little corner of the Universe, whether something interesting is happening around us or not. Blogging is a dream situation that historians of the ancient worlds could only wish for. Looking at the massive amounts of information, both corporate and individually donated, the library of the Internet allows me to instantly transport to any corner of the globe to see what is happening. In Iraq, unknown citizens have created a running tally of the events of the day. Here in the United States, a few hundred more pundits rattle on about the events that they hear about, but the real question on my mind is: Does Anybody Listen?

And I don't mean are they reading the blogs and newspapers and websites. I mean, is anybody actually listening to what they have to say? During the initial Iraq bombing (the second round - when Junior invaded the land), I must admit to having checked on the Salam Pax blog several times per day, just to try to get an inkling of what was going on over there. I thirsted for real person, first-hand accounts of the situation. At the same time, even though I read his blog, I don't believe that any of his thoughts, his dreams, or his opinions really hit home with me. I logged into the web, looked up the information that I wanted to know (i.e. how the battle was going), and then logged off. The poor man shed his soul on his website almost daily when he could, yet I know that I never spent more than a fleeting moment reading what he had to say.

I see that people visit my blog. Occasionally, they'll click on the photo link, but more often than not, the page that they come into the site on is the same page they leave on. They don't click Home. They don't care what I have to say or want to know anything about me. They get their information, and they leave. Hell, I don't blame them. I do the same thing. But I wonder if the loss of the social interaction in these mindless computers is affecting us.

In the real world, if someone came to you for information, you might stop, chat, ask about their family, share other meaningful dialogue, and then come to the point. Perhaps you might even follow up with the person to let them know that they were helpful to you. With the web, I don't even get an email (although I know some of you have come here with SPECIFIC problems that were solved by my posts) in response. The requestors are nothing but anonymous IP addresses, rather than possible acquaintences and potential friends. The web is a soul-less monster.

But why should I bother even writing about this? After all, no one is listening.

April 13, 2004

Taking Pictures Through Glass. I found a unique use for the red-eye feature of my digital camera. It allows me to take photos of things in glass enclosures. Perhaps that is one of its stated purposes, who knows, since I never read the manual. In any case, it was an interesting discovery, and allowed me to take clear pictures of Darth Vader and the Alien (from Alien) which were encased in plexiglass at Disney/MGM Studios. They were in the 'Villains' section of one of the exhibits, and the first time I took a shot, the flash bounced right off the plexiglass, giving a terrible spotlight shine. I retook the photos with the red-eye reduction feature on my digital camera, and the shots cleared right up. I'll definitely remember this little photography tip on my next museum visit where flash photography is permitted.

April 03, 2004

Looking for Free Partition Magic? I just finished resizing my NTFS boot partition. It was 6GB in size (the whole disk), but I wanted 3GB of it for a Linux distribution called Knoppix. Knoppix is a Linux distro designed to run from a CD. It has tons of utilities and other Linuxy stuff on it. It works just fine from the CD, but it can certainly run faster if it runs off your hard drive. Well, to install Linux, you have to have a partition to install it to. What's a guy to do? First, I downloaded the demo version of Partition Magic. Of course, it was stripped of all functionality, short of buying it outright. Scratch that. Then, I booted up Knoppix 3.3 from an ISO I found on the 'net. In it, there is a tool called qtparted. This is a free tool just like Partition Magic, except it's GNU licensed, doesn't cost anything and runs under Linux. qtparted is actually a front-end for a series of tools in Linux. One of these tools is ntfsresize. Unfortunately, qtparted couldn't resize my partition because operating systems don't neatly use space all at the beginning of a partition, but spread stuff all over the place. The ntfstools installation that came with Koppix 3.3 is not the newest, and does not support automatic moving of data to make room for the partition resize.
Well, a good geek doesn't stop when he is thwarted. No, he uses Knoppix to download the ntfstools, compiles the package into the RAMdisk/Desktop, unmounts the hard drive, and uses the newly compiled ntfsresize to automatically resize the partition for him. Then, he loads up qtparted again to automatically handle the fdisking of the partition so that he doesn't royally screw up his hard drive due to a fat fingering of the partition data.

Walla, rebooted into Windows 2000, where it ran the diskcheck, and everything was hunky-dory. Don't spend your money on Partition Magic - get yourself a nice free Linux distro and the latest ntfs tools. It was relatively painless, and it worked great.......on a laptop no less!
The Next Big Thing - Software AI Sifting Algorithms. I see a trend that's been forming for a long time, and I'm sure others will agree. With the advent of big disks, and bigger small disks, faster disks, and bigger permanent storage, we are beginning to accumulate massive amounts of data. Some of it is junk, some of it is just because we can, and some of it is vitality important.
Short example. When you first downloaded Morpheus, Kazaa, GNUTELLA and/or Napster, I'll bet you started downloading songs like there was no tomorrow. Maybe you downloaded 20 hours of music. When you were done with downloading all those songs, did you spend 20 hours going through the music to:

  • Ensure the song was complete by listening to the whole thing
  • Fix the MP3 ID3 tags with the proper artist, album and genre
  • Sort the files into separate directories by genre, or load them into another program for sorting
My guess is that you may have done this for some of what you downloaded, but you never got around to doing the whole collection. Face it, America is filled with people who love to collect stuff. Whether it be Pokemon cards, Magic cards, D&D source manuals, baseball/football/sports cards, knick-knacks, crystal, magazines, books, so on and so on..... we love to collect it. And sometimes we take the time to sort through it all. How do you sort through terabytes of data, though? How do you find the time to organize all of the digital pictures, digital music, digital videos and other material that you store on your computer?
There are numerous programs out there that will do this for you, but the software isn't keeping up with our needs. Sooner or later, we will find that the software just wasn't designed to do the work for us, and that our time involvement is just too resource intensive. What we're going to need in the future is software that is smart enough to sort through everything on its own. It will need to be able to handle terabyte sized databases, sort through more than one type of file (music, images, etc), and will have to be available for the common user. It will be able to analyze the content, tag it, make intelligent decisions and follow some simple rules that we give it (porn in this directory, heavy metal music in this directory, password protect this directory, etc.) Yet one more thing for me to spend my online time looking for. I'll bet there's a few projects already at SourceForge designed to do this very thing. If you find it first, let me know.

April 01, 2004

Not An April Fools Joke. As of this morning, shock jock Howard Stern is no longer on the radio. Is this a joke, an April Fool's joke? Apparently not, as he's been replaced by two candy-talking D.J.'s with the stupid 'bright' voices and the slogan, "Fun Without The Filth". I listened for a few moments, then immediately turned my radio to a news station. Unfortunately, Viacom won't care, because they own that news station too. Frankly, I'm sick of giving these conglomerates my valuable ear-time. I'm going work on my nightly custom news download to CD and listen to that in the car. Update - Well, of course it's an April Fools joke. God, he let it run long enough. I tried back for the second time - and he's back on now. He got me. I wonder how many listeners he lost in the shuffle?

March 31, 2004

RSS Feed Now Available. Thanks to 2RSS.COM for providing conversion service from Atom XML site feeds to RSS site feeds. The RSS button at the top of the page will get you an RSS formatted version of the site feed, if you're interested in it. Blogger still only offers Atom XML feed formatting, and since I use Tripod it's going to be a pain to do the conversion to RSS on the site itself (no access to cron jobs, limited perl support, etc..) although if I ever get a hair up my butt, I may sit down and try to work it out.

March 29, 2004

Is there too much entertainment content in this world? Movies, television shows, books, plays, web pages, video games galore! With kids today who've never seen the content that we grew up with, there's practically a lifetime of content for them to explore. From Atari video games to movies like Star Wars (the original!) and all the books we grew up on (Hardy Boys!), the amount of content that is still around is unbelievable. With this trend continuing, and the library just getting larger, at what point will we completely fill the coffers with enough to keep us busy and amused for the rest of their lives?

March 27, 2004

Curious problem and solution - problem - on a Dell Inspiron 7000 laptop, I plugged in a Microsoft Intellimouse (wired kind). The wheel on the mouse didn't seem to do anything. I checked the mouse settings, which were set (properly) to 'Assume wheel is present' - so I went to Microsoft's web site and downloaded the Intellimouse drivers. After loading the drivers, still no dice. Tried taking the mouse apart and checking for burnt parts, etc. After looking at the circuits and seeing that three different circuits were involved in the switch and the rolling fore and aft of the wheel, I decided that I would assume the circuitry was fine, since all three operations were not working.

Solution - The laptop in question has a touchpad. It was configured in such a way that when the mouse was plugged in, both the mouse and touchpad would work at the same time. Aha! Perhaps the OS was seeing the touchpad's limitations (no wheel) and using that as the mouse configuration. I went into the BIOS and changed the laptop to shut off the touchpad when the mouse was present. I rebooted and the wheel is working just fine now.
There has to be a word for, professional jealousy, or professional wanna-be-ism. I'd be interested to know if other professionals, like lawyers, doctors and such experience the same problem. Why do people who cannot understand basic programming concepts attempt to write complex computer programs? I don't go around performing brain surgery on people....or defending people in a court of law. I'd be sued for malpractice, or worse, end up killing someone.
Yet, when I join a chat room, inevitably, I am asked to help someone with a programming issue. And it's never a SIMPLE programming issue. It seems to be one like: Can you teach me how to program in ASP.NET, so that I can do my Master's Thesis on Elliptical Encryption Protocol? :sigh: All I can do is refer these people to the MYRIAD of free programming websites that will teach them the language - like W3School

March 25, 2004

A friend of mine this morning asked me if they encode personal information, such as name and credit card data onto hotel key cards. He had received a message suggesting that this happens, and the message recommended keeping the card when you check out of your hotel, to prevent thieves from getting the information. This is one of many urban legends that have cropped up over the many years, and preys on the fear of technology that pervades the older generation. To debunk this myth, I sent my friend to Snopes.Com, the Internet's best source on Urban Legends. Perhaps you're familiar with the movie, or the 'Bloody Mary' legend?

March 22, 2004

Virus writers say "You have three days!".
This weekend, a worm broke out on the Internet that was new and interesting in a variety of ways.

  • It attacked a vulnerability that had only been patched for three days.
  • It damaged data and scrambled hard drives.
  • It attacked a firewall product, not an Operating System.
The article put out by the firewall vendor itself has the details, but it attacked users of BlackICE and RealSecure firewall products. Users who had taken steps to secure their machines were brutally attacked and targeted. The act of securing their machines had made them less secure. Recent viruses and worms that have been on the loose have not been as aggressive as this one, and all of us should take a stern lesson from this weekend's attack. The Internet is not only an unsafe place, but it is a battleground, and nothing short of daily vigilance can protect your system from its danger.

March 21, 2004

There's a reason that we shouldn't trust our politicians, and THIS is it, right here. According to the article, it is COMMON practice for legislators to

  • rig voting machines to automatically vote for them, regardless of what the vote is for.
  • allow OTHER legislators who are present to vote on their behalf.
  • not commit hari-kari when exposed.*
*Well, ok - that last one is mine. What I don't uderstand is why these people have not been fired, ousted, sued, beaten, tarred and feathered, etc??? Is the Democratic process such a fucking joke that even those who make our laws don't even bother to have the decency of keeping up the image that they're thinking about what laws they pass?!?! The article says these practices may skew the voting record! It doesn't just skew it! It means that nobody is behind the wheel. This is unbelievable, and completely reprehensible. I'm glad that I don't live in Pennsylvania, but I have to wonder if the same problem isn't going on right here in the great state of Virginia where I live, or in the Federal Government.

March 20, 2004

I've added Pictures to the site. To start off, I've put up some pictures of the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile that I saw parked by a hotel this morning. Hope you enjoy them. Just click on the Pictures link and you'll be given a slide show of the pictures I have. The timer is set to 6 seconds. I'll add a way to manage the timer and to pause/move through the slideshow via buttons later.

March 19, 2004

Just ran into an interesting bug on a box with Windows 2000 Professional. I had installed Adobe Acrobat Reader 6.0 and went to read a PDF document on the web. When I did, I got the error "The feature you are trying to use is on a network resource that is unavailable." and it was trying to find the .msi install file for Journal Viewer. Hitting Cancel just caused the installation to backup and try again. I had to close out of the browser and the PDF viewer application to stop the install from continuing. I found the answer in a KnowledgeBase article at Adobe. Basically, you have to download and install Windows Journal Viewer (duh, I didn't REALLY need the article to tell me that....I wanted to know WHY, DAMMIT!) This was pretty weird that Acrobat Reader required Journal Viewer to run.
I've begun adding my personal notes pages on different technologies. I'm going to start with one on Wireless Technologies. See the new section below the reading list on the left. Please read the disclaimer regarding the accuracy of the notes before depending upon them, and realize that these are only supposed to be cursory looks at the technology involved, and may not be as deep a knowledge as you require. I may include individual research links in each guide, or I might not - depends on how motivated I feel.

March 18, 2004

Do we have a Turing Test winner? This article at WebPro News quotes:
In a recent test of 2000 users, nanniebots did such a good job of imitating child users that none could distinguish whether it was a bot chatting with them or a real user.

The Turing Test refers to the test for whether or not a machine has succeeded at Artificial Intelligence. From The Turing Test Page I quote:
When talking about the Turing Test today what is generally understood is the following: The interrogator is connected to one person and one machine via a terminal, therefore can't see her counterparts. Her task is to find out which of the two candidates is the machine, and which is the human only by asking them questions. If the machine can "fool" the interrogator, it is intelligent.

Perhaps a formal test approach should be taken to test this new software. Isn't there a prize involved?
Thinking of adding another reading list item: The Scientist. Also been thinking of doing topics pages, such as: Everything you should know about RFID, or Everything you should know about the Trusted Computing Platform, and/or a variety of other subjects. The topics would each be something that I am interested in and am doing research on. The pages would act as a form of secondary memory for me, since I would use the pages to track my own knowledge and progress. It would be nice if there were a software package that would allow me to merely click on or drag pages to an interface that would track the links and their contents to be assembled into a readable form at a later date. Organizing thoughts is not exactly one of my strong suits.

March 17, 2004

This morning, Nature reports that nanopulses, ultra-fast electrical pulses, may be able to cause cancer cells to commit suicide. This discovery may lead to a new type of treatment for cancer - quote:
For this reason, researchers hope to use nanopulses to kill cancer cells while leaving healthy tissue intact. Schoenbach's team has already shown that the pulses can shrink mouse tumours by over 50%, and is working on catheters or non-invasive ways to deliver the shocks to the body.

March 16, 2004

(obvious) The world is a different place than it was 20 years ago. Research on any subject is fingertips away from the common man. Just as the printing of books ushered in a new era, so has the Internet. People can choose to be as well-informed as they wish to be.(/obvious) However, this comes at a price. The price is information overload, the overbearing amount of content that is pushed upon us each day literally drowns us in information. To process it, we must learn either to ignore it, or how to process it. And for this, we will need ever faster brains, as the information becomes even more invasive. In the song "It's a Wonderful World", the writer mentions:
I hear babies cry. I watch them grow. They'll learn much more than I'll ever know.

And this growth continues unabated. What was true in the middle of the 20th century is so much more prominent in the 21st. Thankfully, our scientists are working on helping the next generation with these issues. As noted at SciScoop, recent research at Duke University shows that prenatal choline supplements make brain cells larger and faster. In animal testing, the choline supplements provided for larger neurons in the brains of the offspring test subjects. The larger neurons in the hippocampus of the offspring also possessed more 'dendrites' than their untreated breathern. Additional studies point to increased learning and memory abilities in such treated creatures.

While it may be too late for adults to take choline supplements (remember, you can have too much of a good thing, and you're probably getting the right amount of choline in your daily foods), these studies might introduce additional supplemental choline into the prenatal vitamins for pregnant women. Even so, were I to be pregnant right now, I think I'd eat plenty of eggs and peanuts if it meant my baby could be smarter.

As for SciScoop, they're on my to-watch list for adding to my daily reading, but if you do decide to go browsing at the blog, keep your thinking cap on - many of the postings are tongue-in-cheek, and require a good sense of humour, or at least a double-check of your facts before you believe the articles.

March 15, 2004

Nature Magazine's website this morning has a report on research being performed that will make way for stretchable circuits. The researchers are using thin gold filaments shaped like 2 dimensional springs to create circuits that can bend and stretch up to 50% longer than the printing area. This research may help create fabric-based circuits that are more tolerant of movement and also allow printing of circuitry on stretchier materials like Lycra. It may also mean more reliable electronic circuits in products that we already know, such as home-based dance pads.

March 14, 2004

Granted, it's not a difficult thing to do, being better than basketball than I am. I'm 6'1" and I'm lucky if I can make 50% of my shots from where you use a shot-clock. When I was young, my parents signed me up for basketball, and of my 4 possessions in actual games, I walked 3 of them. However, I just saw someone who is not only better than me, but who may be the next Michael Jordan. In fact, Reebok has already signed him. His name is Mark Walker, and he's 3 1/2 years old. Go to this weblink - watch the video of Mark making 18 baskets in a row from random spots. This is someone you do NOT want to play horse with. I get the feeling that Mark is going to be the future youngest star of the NBA. And I just know Reebok will be showing off Mark during the NCAA. March madness rules, and, oh yeah....Duke sucks!

March 13, 2004

Today, I used an open-source (that's free for you n00bs!) audio capture and editing tool today to capture cassette tapes to my computer, preparing them to be written to CD. The tool is called Audacity, it's a SourceForge project. SourceForge is where programmers start projects that allow other programmers to help out with coding, testing, debugging and advising on their projects. It's a great place to pick up software that has been offered up under free for use licensing. The tool was great. It was simple to use and worked on a fairly slow PC (233 P2 w/128MB RAM) without a hitch. Editing and exporting to a wave file worked just fine, and without any need to go to the help files. I even tried some noise reduction with the tool. Of course, my abilities need some fine-tuning when it comes to using the tool properly for sophisticated editing.

March 12, 2004

This morning I turned on Howard Stern to find that his show was a conglomerate of clips and sound bites, without any interjections by him. While his show has always had plenty of sound clips taken from other media outlets, he is normally using them to make a point and backing them up with his own commentary. Apparently Howard has decided to make a point by taking a TRUE No-SPIN attitude in his recent commentary about the FCC and recent Congressional hearings.

While listening to the show this morning, I could not help but to have feelings of depression and melancholy as I listened to the Freedom of Speech slowly drift away on the words of our idiotic elected representatives. The show included clips of both supporters and detractors of Stern and his show, and it was made clear through their own words the reasoning for their stances. Allow me to add my own spin here and say that it sounds like the religious right-wing politicos in this country are trying to shove their own standards of immorality and indecency down my throat. By restricting what people can say on the airwaves of America, we are allowing the government to control our thoughts and restrict our ability to communicate.

Through satire and commentary, Howard Stern's radio program has for years communicated the idiocy of people in this country who harbor racist and sexist opinions. Satire itself is a political commentary mechanism that has been protected by the First Ammendment for over 200 years. What the censors in the FCC are doing is illegal and immoral. They are using the law to silence their detractors and oppose political change, against the wishes of the founders of this country.

What of community standards? The American people have long voted with their wallet. Howard's show has been at the top of the Arbitron ratings for 20 years. What makes capitalism so great is that if the people did not want to listen to him, he would have failed. Our capitalist society has proven that the majority are willing to support satirical programming through his voice. As a community, we have set our standard through support for his program throughout these many years. Communities in America have always voted with their money, and there are many individual communities where Howard's show does not air; not due to political pressure, but due to the lack of financial support from that community.

March 10, 2004

The new Windows XP service pack due out from Microsoft will make sweeping changes in the default security options for lots of users, but one thing that will be included will be pop-up blocking. This should be a relief for many, especially since even without pop-up blocking enabled, new rules will be enforced on pop-ups that aims to disallow pop-under advertising and pop-ups that take over your screen. Even with the feature turned off, pop-up windows will have to abide by new rules as to size and position that make them near impossible for less experienced users to close. Of course, this will affect many websites, and if you code for the web, you're going to want to pay attention to all the code you've got.
Here's an idea for a new device and how to implement it: Each day at 5AM, your computer downloads the RSS feeds that match your interests. These RSS feeds download 10-20 headlines and short blurbs from different realms, be it sports, English sheepdoging, or Linux. With headlines downloaded, your computer utilizes text-to-speech (free API from Microsoft, Direct Speech), and speaks the headlines into an mp3 file. At 5:50AM, once your custom news has been recorded for you, the mp3 file (or Ogg-Vorbis file, Wave file, whatever) is transferred wirelessly to your car radio's memory. At 6AM, you get in your car to go to work. Instead of listening to the idiotic drivel of your local news team trying to make sense of technical news, instead of listening to the traffic reports of the same roads that are clogged over every damned day and instead of listening to topics in which you've no itereset interrupted by commercials every 3 minutes, you get to listen to your custom news read to you as you drive to work.

The advantages are obvious:
  • customized news feeds based on the RSS feeds you want.
  • No commercials
  • No stupid jokes or idiotic commentary by news ppl who haven't a clue
  • No weather and traffic every 15 seconds
So, who's up for developing this?
Just seen on New Scientist: A robot that can build 3-d structures with cement. An engineer at the University of Southern California, named Behrokh Khoshnevis, has been working on an invention for more than a year that could potentially revolutionize both architecture and components of the construction industry.

"The goal is to be able to completely construct a one-story, 2000-square foot home on site, in one day and without using human hands," he says.

While there is certainly more to building a house than just the walls and structures, I don't think that anyone would question that that goal would be an incredible breakthrough. Other items in the article mention that it would be possible to build new types of structures that were previously unattainable. Curved walls printable by such a machine would potentially take many pourings of concrete layers that would each require custom setup work. Where is Frank Lloyd Wright when you need him?

Also mentioned in the article, cement is an old material that is in use because of the tools that we use. This could make way for new types of materials that are custom designed for this machine and/or its successors. It could cause a revolutionary change in the way that stuff is designed, constructed and put into use.
The weight is down to 210.0 this morning after 210.2 yesterday. That makes the same weight two days in a row, or an OFFICIAL 20 pound loss so far following the Atkins diet. I still haven't bothered to exercise, but as the spring comes into its own I may pump up the bicycle tires and go for a spin a few times a week. If you don't know, I started dieting on Dec 28th. So, 2 months and a week to lose this weight. The first 10 pounds went quickly, and it's been slow since then. However, over the past two weeks, I've consistently lost, so I feel like I'm picking up steam again. My target is 175 by summer, which may require some work on my part (burning more calories), but even if I make it to 190 I will be happy. At 6' 1" anything below 190 would probably be considered a healthy weight. If I put on some additional muscle tone, it will probably be best.

One thing that I believe has helped me to restart the weight loss is the addition of caffeine to the diet. Not a lot, but I allow myself a 20 oz of Diet Pepsi each morning with breakfast. It gives my body the wake up kick, and I think it's kickstarting my metabolism. After that, it's water for the rest of the day. If you're on Atkins, you'll want to make the choice for yourself, but whatever you do, take everything in moderation. This advice comes from someone who was drinking practically a 6 pack a day of non-diet colas.

March 09, 2004

Thanks belong to an alert Slashdot reader for pointing out: NASA has just released Ultra Deep Field images, images of (I quote)

The snapshot includes galaxies of various ages, sizes, shapes, and colors. The smallest, reddest galaxies, about 100, may be among the most distant known, existing when the universe was just 800 million years old. The nearest galaxies - the larger, brighter, well-defined spirals and ellipticals - thrived about 1 billion years ago, when the cosmos was 13 billion years old.

This is amazing. This kind of a view of the Universe puts things in real perspective, and will impress upon our children and our educators how important space exploration is to understanding our universe. The image itself is incredibly rich with imagery, and should make us all stop and think. Anyways, go look at the pretty pictures....and judge for yourself whether Hubble is worth saving.

March 08, 2004

Anyone want to bet on whether O.J. Simpson will be found guilty this time? According to the Associated Press, DirecTV is accusing the ex-football-star, ex-Hertz star, ex-CourtTV star of stealing its signal. I guess that since O.J. has had to sell off his stuff to pay his civil charge, he's got no money left for cable.
I'm seriously thinking of changing the web page address (i.e. moving off of Tripod because of the lack of certain types of server-side scripting support) to As a matter of fact, that domain address right now points right back to these archives here with a redirector. So, if you have me bookmarked, you'll want to make that change now and get it out of the way.

March 07, 2004

Well, I made the changes to the way the blog gets published, so that the archives would look just like the home page. I also centered the dates in the center column and cleaned up the HTML just a little bit more. Also, I've found a few places that do free customized RSS feeds. I'll write about them in a little while, but right now, the dog needs a bath.
I found a nice RSS news feed reader for Windows - It's called RSS NewsTicker, and it's beerware (which is practically free considering the price of a brew). If you like the product, you buy the guy a beer [He accepts Paypal on his website]. Anyways, while the application isn't necessarily the most robust, it does work properly on Windows XP with multiple users, and the application bar handling is well integrated into the desktop thanks to his use of the .NET Framework. ICQ properly resized around it, and you can configure it to be on top or bottom of the screen. I wish he'd add drag and drop for adding feed URLs, but hopefully he'll put that into a future version. So, if you're a news junkie like I am, and you want an out-of-the-way news ticker, try it out.

March 06, 2004

Oh, for two days in a row I was down to 211 pounds this week. Still on the Atkins Diet and going strong. I don't know if I'll make my goal of 175 by August, but I'm already looking and feeling much better. Sugar-free jello is a godsend. I've used that to stop some cravings, and also have used several brands of no-carb or low-carb bars to get rid of chocolate needs. I've also let myself start drinking a 20oz bottle of Diet Coke or Diet Pepsi. And what's REALLY amazing is that I've gotten used to the aftertaste.
As for that RSS problem - it looks like it's going to be a problem. Seems you can't load XML from a second website using the XML control, because of possible cross-site scripting issues. So I'm just going to have to find another way to do what I wanted with the "Reading List".
I LOVE my wireless LAN. I finally got set up with wireless LAN at home (which is weird, because I'm a network geek). I spent about $40 on a wireless router (after rebate) and bought one of those USB dongle thingies that does 802.11b. Then I borrowed an old laptop from work, and I'm doing the wireless thing. I would have started sooner, but I had been looking at the ViewSonic 15" AirPanel, and it was just too expensive. It's a shame, because it's a really nice product. But $680 (on Ebay) is just too much to pay. Considering that for $800 you could purchase a laptop and the wireless adapter was only $29.95, the AirPanel just didn't make sense even at that cut-rate price.

But now, I don't know how I lived without. I'm writing in my blog this morning from my kitchen table and sitting next to my wife. ("Peace", she says.) At least I don't have to go downstairs and isolate myself from the family. The computer is becoming part of daily life, and is just another tool. Having the net without wires is definitely going to be a paradigm shift for me.

March 03, 2004

The new look is in. You're looking at it. I wanted something simple, yet functional. I also wanted to rid myself of all the distractions on the page. One thing I may revisit is utilizing RSS feeds in popups that you can move your mouse over (on the left) to show headlines from the RSS feeds of my Reading List. Since I'm not finished with that, I thought I'd just go ahead and put up the new page anyway. Enjoy. It's not based on tables, but rather on absolute positioning and absolute sizing of the left and right columns. I've also gone with formatting based on CSS instead of inline code. It make the HTML code much easier to read. Another step will be to move the archives into the same type of format, but because of how I've structured the blog, I'm going to have to hack in something. No matter, that's why this is a hobby.

Finished Calculus this week - that is the last class for my Associates of Arts in Computer Programming. I'll pick up my degree in May (provided I passed the final exam, which I did...) and should finish the four-year program in December.

March 02, 2004

It has often been surmised that Science Fiction authors are the true innovators of science, and that their dreams are merely fulfilled by the desire, brains and money of the powerful. Jules Verne wrote about space travel and submarining long before any were possible. The countdown itself is an artifact a piece of fiction regarding the launch of extra-terrestrial vehicles*. If this is true, then the science fiction author of today scopes out the possibilities of tomorrow. Whether or not they get their facts straight as to the 'how', they show the possibilities.

A man who might not consider himself to be a science fiction author is Jeffrey Harrow of The Harrow Group. He has been writing about 'what-if' for many many years. Go to his web site and read his musings, because as we can see by recent events, even his imagination is being tamed into realistic science today. Take a look at this article about printing human organs on a modified ink-jet printer. This is real science following the musings that I have heard Jeff talk about in his column for years. While they have not exactly printed out a heart for your quadruple-bypass neighbor yet, this is exactly what they're studying this stuff for.

Jeff has been discussing both 3-d printers and biological merging of computing and science for a long time. His articles are on the cutting edge, thanks to his alert readers. If you don't read his website, you should start.
You're not paranoid if they actually are out to get you! Look at this article about RFID tags in new $20 bills. That's right, folks, the government IS actually tagging your money with electronic signatures! No longer is this the worry of the paranoid, but the worry of us all. According to the article, the right eye of Andrew Jackson in every bill was where the burning started. RFID technology is a unique chipping methodology that reacts to radio signals and transmits an identifying number when hit at the right frequency. Are these folks paranoid, or is this merely due to a smudge of metallic anti-counterfeiting in the bills? Looking at a $20 bill in my own pocket shows a rather strong smudge just above Andrew's right eye, but it looks way too small to be hiding a chip in there. I think it's more likely that what these folks have burned was a small metallic deposit used for anti-counterfeiting.

February 28, 2004

What a 'sweeeet' idea - charging eligible voters a fee for not voting. Notice this article from an Australian news report. Ignore for the moment the human interest side of the story (e.g. that the woman's excuse was that she was having group sex, so was too busy to vote). Note that no-show eligible voters are being fined $37.50 for not participating in the election. I think this would be a PERFECT source of additional revenue for the federal government. Failure to vote in a federal election could carry a similar penalty in the United States. Administered by the same agencies that register you to vote in the first place, it would either improve voter turn-out, or act as an 'Aloof Tax'. What do you think?

February 25, 2004

On the scope: millimeter waves and T-rays. May start a new section on 'up and coming tech'...stay tuned.

February 23, 2004

Thanks to the LangaList (and maybe to a slashdotter originally?) for the information at this link regarding a NIST study of DVD and CD life. If you're archiving important information (business OR personal! think digital photos!) on DVD or CD media, you should probably read this information before you expect it to last you for the long run.
Aha! Mystery solved! Mike's List linked to my website in Mike's List #78 from 3 February That explains the hits from his site. The DHTML behaviors on Tripod appear to be turned on on at least one of their servers, explaining the many hits to If my guess is right, then DHTML behavior is seriously broken in its currently supported form on the client side(s). It should not be necessary for the client to continually download the behaviors from the support files. It generates way too much traffic. While I don't know what would be better, I'm going to integrate the behaviors into the HTML file itself and see if I can make that work a bit nicer.

When I have time that is. Looks like I'm about a week behind on my Calc homework. I need to catch up on that, since it's the ONLY thing standing between me and an Associate's Degree in April. It was a busy weekend and I never had the chance to update my site look. I've been too busy checking out links on GeekNews and SlashDot. Just this morning, I was reading about a robot-PC on SlashDot. What's nice about this piece is that it brings robotics down to the PC hobbyist level. Not every PC geek is going to be a servo-motor geek (I know I'm not...I can never finish a project). If they make the programming easy enough, building the robotics into the case may just make the low-utility robot something that hobbyists with ca$h will want to buy.

Speaking of buying things. I went to the mall this weekend, and poked around at Best-Buy and some other stores. It wasn't crowded at all, and as for myself, I didn't buy anything. It just seemed kind of boring. There doesn't seem to be anything 'new' on the horizon. The marketplace seems ripe for 'The Next Big Thing'. Don't know what it will be, but whatever it is, consumers seem ready to spring into action on the next fad item. Have any ideas? Email me...

Jeff Harrow's newsletter came out this weekend. There's a big piece about RFID technology in there. While not as futuristic as many of Jeff's pieces, it's interesting reading about a technology that has the potential to change the business world. Considering what I was reading (Money magazine) about WalMart affecting the economy in the past few years with average NEGATIVE INFLATION of 3% on its pricing shelf, and their own RFID plans (Wired), I can see businesses using this technology to further control back-end pricing.

February 20, 2004

TRIPOD is still broken (well, unsupportive, anyway) - I'm going to forget about DHTML behaviors for the moment and just go ahead and put in the new design. I'll probably have it up by the end of the weekend. (I'm going to work on my Calculus homework first.)

Hmmm, a thought, before I lose it - 3 dimensions of space, another dimension of time - what if Douglas Adams was right and another dimension is Probability. We could someday invent a probability drive that would allow us to move along the probability scale, allowing us to hit our enemies with lightning (struck by lightning odds 1:3000 over your lifetime), or allow us to win the lottery! And according to some quantum theories, it might be possible, because we'd merely end up in another universe where it actually happened! Just had to record that thought for myself (before I forget it).
Our expectations are SO different from that of our ancestors. Every day, 3 or 4 people visit one of my web pages (the blog, or the archives). Usually, they're looking for something specific, and I've talked about it in the blog, so they end up here from a search engine. That's fine - but it's very low traffic. As I was browsing the blogs, I began to think that that's 3 NEW PEOPLE A DAY that I am meeting (or rather, that are meeting me). If you met 21 new people a week, you'd have a pretty full social life, wouldn't you? It was kind of interesting to suddenly have that thought. Think of the people who visit as potential friends or acquaintances and put faces behind those 'hits' and no longer is 21 hits a week chump change. It's a potential social kingdom! So, if you're visiting here for the first time - WELCOME! Send me an email just to say hi (link on the upper left of the home page if you're in an archive).
A few thoughts:

Shock Radio - Why do people listen to shock radio? Is it because of the vulgar references and the 'What will he say next?' aspect, or is it merely because it's different from the standard music format? I started thinking last night about the possibility for a 'TechTV' format radio station, and whether or not people would listen to it. In doing so, I tried to think of the different radio formats that were not music. The biggest examples I could think of were shock radio, all news, and advice shows. Here in the DC area, as examples, on WJFK radio we have Howard Stern, Don and Mike, Ron and Fez in the 'shock jock' categories - each with risque shows with topics targeting mostly male audiences. Then we have NPR and WTOP, the newsy radio stations. There's also 'news shows' on WJFK around the shock jocks. So far, I haven't heard any 'Dr. Laura' type shows in the local market that have been successful.

So, what would happen if we started a channel that resembled SlashDot? A radio station dedicated to the thinking man without a political, religious or sexual slant at all. Talk radio is a great format in that it can keep the listener glued to the station, but instead of random news, interspersed with political news and sports, we would forego these subjects, and stick to technology. It would be a techno-geeks all day sucker. ::shrug, another idea I don't have time for::

February 17, 2004

Someone has a bad net crawler, and it isn't me. Looking at logs for my web page (which gets very few hits as it is), I noticed over the past week two separate incidents where there have been multiple (like, say 50 and 100 at a time...) requests in a row from some crawler looking for the file Unfortunately for the crawler, the htc is a DHTML behavior file, which Tripod does not serve up with the correct MIME type on most of its servers [I think I caught it acting correctly ONCE]. Something in the file (or perhaps in this page itself) causes the web crawler to get this link over and over and over. Here's an example from the logfile:

XXX.YYY.ZZ.A - - [12/Feb/2004:20:36:00 -0500] "GET /rgautier/ HTTP/1.1" 304 - "-" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; .NET CLR 1.1.4322; MSIECrawler)"

And there was another one with the referrer of (although Mike doesn't link to me that I know of). So, if you're a robot - sorry, you'll need some more smarts...

It looks like the MSIECrawler hits come from someone who has subscribed to my web page (little old me? Wow! Shocker!). However, the links that had MikesList in it didn't have the MSIECrawler in the reference data (They said 'Rich's XP', which is curious because my name is Rich, but the IP address wasn't from anywhere that I connect from and I don't recall having a machine that I called 'Rich's XP')

January 28, 2004

Do you subscribe to any online newsletters? You know, email newsletters? For the longest time, I was a member of many different ones, until it got to be too much for me. I've long since stopped reading LockerGnome and other such lists, not due to a lack of quality (Nay, this is a high quality newsletter), but just because I don't have the time on a daily basis to go through TONS of email.
However, there are TWO lists that you should subscribe to, and never turn off, especially if you're into technology. One of these is Mike's List, and the other is The Jeffrey Harrow Technology Report. Jeff has been writing his synopsis of the future for a few years, and Mike has been scoping out 'new stuff' for a shorter period of time (still a few years).
What I like about both lists is that they only come out occassionally, and they're both full of new stuff that shows just where we are going on the technology front. What!?!? You're still reading? Get a move on - go subscribe!

January 17, 2004

My son is standing in front of the TV, wailing his arms about wildly. The Playstation 2 and the TV are turned on, but he's not holding the controller. He appears to be having some type of epileptic fit, but there's a smile on both of our faces. Of course, he's playing with the new "Eye Toy" from Sony Entertainment. It's a video camera that sits on top of the TV and makes you part of the game. You use your hands (and maybe your head, your hips, and other body parts...) to play games like Dancing, Boxing, Kung Fu, Window Washing and other cutesy games. I had a go at it earlier today, and even I enjoyed playing it while I got some sorely needed exercise.
The camera sits on top of the TV, and can be swiveled and tilted. It has a red light to let you know if your lighting is too dark, but it doesn't warn you when the background items' darkness might interfere with your game play. I'd suggest a lamp somewhere in front of you for optimum performance. Our cherry-wood bookcases at the back of the room really play havoc with some of the games, while other games remain playable. There are 12 games in all on the enclosed DVD, and Sony has already published other titles for the toy. Considering we traded in a bunch of games that no one plays any longer and only paid $7. out of pocket for the thing, thanks to GameStop, I'd say we've gotten a good deal.
Now he's breaking boards with his head on the bonus round of Kung-Fu. I better go make sure he doesn't get any splinters.

January 16, 2004

I believe I've tracked down the problem with video captures freezing when trying to capture video from my DV Camera/Camcorder. The problem appears to be related to Dynamic Disks. You see, when I added my 200GB HD to my computer, I configured it as a dynamic disk, just in case I wanted to try out software RAID configurations. That means that the partition I created is not on a static partition, but a dynamic partition. Apparently other folks who have had the same problem have reported the situation happening with their RAID-0 and RAID-1 configurations. Well, I tried it without dynamic partitions, and the video capture no longer freezes. Which means the digital video capture drivers seem to not like dynamic disks! Now, this is pure hypothesis, but it seems to fix my problem. I'm going to convert my disk back to a static partition table (once I move all the data off it) and that should fix my problem, but so far, it's worked with both the other disks in my system, even the slow 60GB one.

January 13, 2004

Dual-monitor support for OpenGL applications in Windows XP seems to switch to software rendering for the OpenGL driver. This can affect applications that use the OpenGL libraries on machines with dual monitors installed. Most recently, this affected me when I was trying to use Blender v2.31 on a dual monitor machine. The software seemed extremely sluggish, and was taking forever to paint menus and draw, even rotating views. It was unusable. Once I removed the second monitor (disabled and disconnected it and rebooted), Blender worked like I remember it.

January 09, 2004

Just wanted to keep this link available - funny review of 1lb breakfast from Swanson's Hungry-Man line: click here.

January 03, 2004

I've moved my food log to: FitDay - This website tracks my weight and the foods that I've eaten. It allows me the public log, as well as private reports on nutrition and other aspects of my diet and exercise.

January 01, 2004

Day 2
  • One Mozarella Cheese Omelet for breakfast cooked in olive oil
  • 4 oz of kielbasa (1 of 4 from a 1lb package)
  • 6 slices of corned-beef with 1 slice of mozarella cheese in the microwave for lunch
  • Salad - 2+ cups of iceburg lettuce, 3 tbps of a low-carb dressing, and part of the hamsteak diced
  • A hamsteak - 1/4 -1/2 in thick slice of ham heated in the microwave. Put some on the salad. Shared a little with my son.
  • For snack - 5 oz of bologna - unsliced
I should probably drink more water - I haven't had much today.
This morning I got out the olive oil and cooked me up a 3-egg omelette with a slice of mozorella. Normally I would have used margarine, but that's a no-no. The eggs tasted great, and the pan was still oiled enough to cook a 4-oz kielbasa (yummmm). I gave maybe 1/4th of my omelette to my mother-in-law. It looked huge.

From the diet, I've noticed lots of intestinal gurgling. Also, last night before going to bed, I weighed myself. I weighed 230.4. This mornining when I woke up I weighed 226.8. Both times I weighed myself twice. You can't tell me that I've lose 3.5 lbs in one night, can you?
Atkin's awayyyyyyy - doing good this morning - woke up with slight muscle aches all over, some from the bowling last night. We went out to Disco Bowling for New Years. Also, had LOTS of energy last night. New Years Party usually kills my energy and I'm asleep before I drive home. Not the case this time. Also, woke up with almost exactly 8 hours on the sleep clock - not normal for me. I usually drag my ass out of bed about 9-10 on my days off, reluctantly. Had plenty of energy this morn.

Day 1
  • One Ham and Cheese Omelet for breakfast - 1g carbs for the ham?
  • 3/4 lb. of Jumbo Shrimp for lunch (mmmm) - 0 carbs?
  • Salad - 3 cups of lettuce, 1/4 cup tomato, 1/4 cup of bacon, and a low-carb dressing.. Total 12-13 carbs w/dressing/tomato
  • 4 oz of bologna - unsliced.
  • 7 smaller-sized slices of corned-beef with a slice of mozarrella in the microwave (pre-party snack)
  • up to 10 pieces of pepperoni as munching snacks at New Years party
  • 2 finger-sandwiches without the bread (cold cuts/cheese) - about 1 slice total of each