December 29, 2005

DRM sucks!!!

I bought a USB hard drive with the money I got for Christmas (and Best Buy gift cards.) For the past 2 or 3 nights I've been trying to figure out the best way to get music that I want onto this portable drive so that I can play it:
1) On all 4 computers in my house, Win 2000/Linux/XP Home and XP Pro all included
2) In my CAR, which plays MP3's off CD, and regular CDs
3) In all 3 MP3 players owned by various family members.

Boy, what a bunch of bullshit these 2 days have been. The RIAA sucks as far as I'm concerned. And those of you who contribute to their fantasy dreams by buying DRM-protected content can all go to hell too. This is a capitalist society, and you're ENABLING them buy buying their DRM bullshit. STOP DOING IT!

1. You have a choice. You can listen to content on the radio, and you have a right to record the radio to any device capable, for your own private time-shifting use. This includes Internet radio (since they're paying the same fees broadcast radio is paying now!). There's a fairly famous judge's ruling that pretty much validates this right with respect to audio/video recordings (Betamax/VHS ruling.)

2. By enabling them, you're giving your rights away. You're demonstrating both that they have the right to charge you to make copies of what you already have the right to listen to on your own schedule, and you're showing through 'common-practice' that they can do what they're doing.

3. Unbeknownst to you, your DRM content will eventually break down. Don't believe me? I've had several different DRM's break on me in the past year. Does anyone remember downloading movie content from on the Internet? You have the movie file, but you can't play it - why not? Because it can't call home. How about the software product that no longer has a support web page to get its temporarily running license because they went out of business? History teaches us about the future; we have only to listen. DRM will break down when it is no longer supported by the infrastructure. Some DRM has to phone home. Try doing that with your laptop in an airplane at 25,000 feet with no Internet. Some DRM needs software LOADED ON YOUR MACHINE!!!! to run (Hello Napster, you bunch of hucksters!). What happens when you want to listen to your content on an unsupported OS? OOoops, too bad...What, you upgraded to IE 7? Are you SURE that web-based DRM form will continue to work? What, they put in a firewall at work and you can't get your license file any more? Too bad, no refunds forthcoming from Napster, I'll bet...

If there's anything we should have learned from software in the 1980s it's that SOFTWARE PROTECTION DOESN'T WORK. DRM is SOFTWARE PROTECTION. It's broke out of the box.

4. You can buy what you want elsewhere. Legality of sites such as and other Russian-owned sites are still up in the air. Wikipedia articles and web sites argue over and over about whether these sites have the right to continue. AllofMP3 has been running over a year and haven't been shut down by the Russian government yet. Do you have the right to import purchased content from other countries? From what I have read, you have the right to transfer in personal use items, and the onus seems to be on the content owner to restrict you from that right if they choose to reserve it.

5. You can buy what you want HERE, in THIS country. Visited a pawn shop lately? I'll bet that CD of your favorite 80s hair-band is sitting there on a shelf, just waiting for you to buy it for $1 and go home and rip it. Granted, it'll take a bit of know-how, but you can do it..

Reasons 6-10 - DRM blows and is the brainwashing tool of the RIAA. And remember, they suck - don't bow down.

Back to my own experience? NOBODY can give me what I want. The best I could do would be to pay a service like Rhapsody TWICE for my content. Once - a monthly subscription fee to listen to what I want (program my own radio station) and they a SECOND fee to burn the music to a CD so I can take it with me. And if I prefer a different format for convenience? I'll have to rip it myself from the CD I payed them to let me create. How nice of them.....but 90% of what I want to listen to is already in my home library, on either CD, VHS, cassette or DVD. What good are they doing me with the dumb-ass system?

I've about made up my mind that DRM content is EVIL. I will NEVER buy another DRM track. I bought ONE - from Napster - and paid .99 for it. That's the last dollar the DRM-happy folks will see from me, ever. I'm debating maybe paying Rhapsody or Yahoo, or some other service to play the content that I want (on their subscription/playlist option - $3.99 a month?) and then record it for timeshifting later (with windows recorder?). But splitting up the files is going to be a pain in the butt.

What the RIAA and the content folks need to realize is that I am READY and WILLING to pay $.99 a track - but I want a nice MP3 file I can take to any platform, not the crap they're trying to sell me.

December 22, 2005


Why I love my MIMO - My neighbor bought a 2.4Ghz phone last Christmas. Since he hooked it up, my 802.11g network has been cutting in and out, most likely due to interference from his phone (I have a 5.8Ghz phone for this reason). Before he got the phone, I had no problems. The day he hooked it up - my wireless network would drop out at least twice a day. Just last month, I purchased a Netgear Wireless Access Point, a MIMO 802.11g access point. Ever since I hooked that puppy up, I have had no interference problems. The MIMO router has 11 antennas in it, and the router intelligently reconfigures itself on the fly for best possible signal transmission to the cards that it is receiving signals from. I've turned off wireless on my firewall/cable router and am using just the access point. In the past month, it hasn't dropped a connection once.

December 06, 2005

Idiot Kills Himself

Today's DUMB-[CENSORED] award goes to Steven Zorn, also proud winner of the Darwin Award. Holding a loaded, single-chamber weapon to his head, Steven clicked the trigger, thinking that the weapon would not fire because it had not fired two times previously. Not only is Steven now dead, but liberals the world over will now jump on this instance as proof that guns (of whatever form) are dangerous, and should be kept out of the hands of citizens. (Steven was playing with a 'pen-gun', which I'd probably classify as useful as a deringer, but more innocuous.). Quite seriously for Steven's family, I'm very sorry for their loss, but he's really pissed me off.
Gun control lobbyists don't need any more reasons to come after the citizen's right to bear arms, and it's dumb shits like this who apparently don't have adequate brain cells to protect their own lives that fuel the liberal movement. In the past, I've been called a liberal, a left-leaner, and other non-Republican names, but if there's one thing that I don't believe in, it's laws made to protect ourselves from our own stupidity. Kitchen knives are dangerous, but do you see us trying to outlaw them? Why not? Some Brits are... Firecrackers are dangerous enough to cause their outright ban in many states of the union, and we all know what those dangerous drugs are outlawed, right? When are we going to stop babying the people of the United States? We probably spend more money protecting potential Darwin winners than we do on the real problems of this country, such as unemployment and homelessness. You know what? If we had fewer DUMB people, that would help solve the unemployment rate! Jobs wouldn't go away - they'd have to hire replacements. And the homeless could live in the now empty homes of the deceased idiots.
What pisses me off more than the well-meaning lobbyists trying to curb our right to be responsible adults and play with what we want to play with, are the assholes who give them the incidental evidence they need to fuel their fire. This is why Steven has earned today's Dumb [CENSORED] award, because he has contributed to their cause.

December 04, 2005

Why Britney Spears is Rich

Ok, besides the fact that she's had some hit songs, has a really cute face, and is 'da bomb' in the body department, Britney's people must really be looking out for her. I was shopping with my wife today, and we came to a perfume counter at a mall store that smells like the mixture between a greenhouse and a still. The lady behind the counter cornered my wife into trying out a bunch of fragrances, many of which I instantly turned up my nose at. The last one I agreed on with my wife was Blue somethingorother, and it was what I would say is a livable fragrance. After finding out the price tag, I was ready to turn around and walk out of the store, when out of the corner of my eye I saw displayed Britney's new fragrance Fantasy.
I couldn't help myself. I turned to the counter hawker and told her that my curiosity was piqued, and I just had to know 'how bad this smelled'. She said she'd show me just how bad it smelled, mimicking me, as I'd mimicked 90% of the crap cologne she was pushing. I was prepared to make fun of Britney's marketing team, figuring that she'd probably just tacked her name onto something new that they wanted to push, and that it would rank with the rest of the toilet water. You see, I'm a smart-ass consumer, and a smart-ass who laughs when people make fun of Mrs. Spears-Federline, even while harboring not-quite-secret fantasies about her, me and a night or two in Vegas.
Back to reality, I grabbed the sniff card from the salesperson, whiffed and cried out immediately, "Honey!". You see, this is my 'Eureka' voice. When I've found the golden chalice, I call out to my wife. You see, not only didn't Fantasy SUCK as I fully expected, it was fantastic! It smelled like a young woman should. It was innocent, sweet, romantic and sexy as all hell get out. With a strong smell of strawberries, but more than just that, it is one of those perfumes that I just know I can count on to drive me wild. The perfume is one of those that will turn your head when you smell it. If you got a whiff of it, you'd immediately turn to see what hot young thing was passing you by. This perfume BECKONS to a man, the way a perfume is meant to reach out its tendrils and wrap them around your hair in its loving embrace.
So, you see, Britney Spears is rich because no matter how much we prepare to make fun of her (as a 39 year old man I am very ready to do so because she's so pop-icon, yet so redneck-trailer-trash in the news/media), we still find ourselves humming her stupid songs, drooling over her Pepsi commercial(s) and trying to imagine ourselves dancing in her bed [sorry, did I say that out loud?].
So, depending on why you're reading this post, I hope you got the point. I am ashamed to say that I love her perfume, and further ashamed to say that I bought a BIG bottle of it for my wife. This is what women's perfume should STRIVE to be. There are two perfumes I've found in it's class: Red and Exclamation! that I buy for my wife. Almost every other perfume stinks to high heaven, and women wear way too much of it. But there are a very few good ones out there, and Britney has stuck her name on one that will bring her riches for a long time.......DAMN HOW I HATE BEING WRONG.

December 01, 2005

My New (Old) Passion

What have I been doing with myself at nights that I no longer post nude pictures of my cute little shih-tzu? I've been busy helping to ressurect an old bad habit called FoxMUD. Fox is a Multi-User Dungeon based on the Diku Code base (huh?!) and was created back in 1993. Since then, it's seen half a dozen sites, and LOTS of players and wizzes come and go. I've talked about Fox MUD before, and if you're interested, click on the link, and give us a whirl. Worst you'll do is waste 10 minutes looking at it, and saying WTF. Best you'll do is log in, get addicted, play 20 hours a day and get fired from your job, divorced from your family and die from dehydration like those kids in Japan and South Korea.

October 15, 2005

The drop zone at Kings Dominion provides about one second of "Oh my god" and two of blissful free fall - well, almost. In any case, it's fun as hell. Make sure you try it out if you visit.

October 12, 2005

New Scam Warning - Identity Theft through Employment Offer?

I received an email today concerning an offer of employment from 'Charles A. Davlin' of NESMA.COM. Fortunately for me, the job offer I received was for much less than I normally am offered for employment, which raised alarms. Additionally, the following was in the email message:
This position requires a DISCO security awareness/clearance. You will be
required to provide the following information to start your application for
a clearance, after the RSNF has accepted you for employment.

Name, Social Security Number, Date of Birth, Place of Birth, Current
Employer and Address, Copy of latest security update if available.

While some or all of this information may indeed be necessary to process a security clearance, it is not normally something pointed out to folks who are being offered a job. The fact that the email asks for this up front is alarming.

The scammers are doing a nice job, though. The email is accompanied by personalized and boiler-plate employment offer documents in Word format, position descriptions that are oddly personalized, and Insurance Plan details. Automation of Word document creation is not something I'd seen before from scam artists/bulk emailers, but this is certainly a new extent that someone would be willing to go to.

Identity theft is not a new crime, but these are some new lengths, certainly. Be careful out there...these folks seem to have pulled my resume off Monster.Com. While the email and offer look real, and they look willing to exchange paperwork, signatures, etc, if it smells like a scam, it usually is....

September 23, 2005

My Lotus Notes Adventure

A task at work required us to convert Lotus Notes .nsf files containing contacts and email messages, such that we could import them into the clients' brand new Exchange Server. We were in an environment where connecting to both servers was not going to be possible, and we received the Notes Files on a DVD from the customer. At first, I thought that this was going to be a simple task, and that imports would be a matter of just telling Outlook to import the file. Since I'm writing this entry, you can be assured that it was not so simple.

There are a good many products out there that will convert Notes data for you. Unfortunately, most of them cost a good deal of money. I found one that was very inexpensive, and served half of our needs. The tool is Notes2Outlook. While the tool is still very immature (it terminates without warning when it hits an error, and is very sensitive about how you start it up, it doesn't clean up its own temp files, but can crash if you don't clean them up manually...that kind of thing), it did work for us in migrating email messages to PST files from NSF files. It was also cheap - $160 for a 3-month subscription, more than long enough to do a one-time import.

To do the import, you need to make sure you get a Lotus Notes client. If you're doing this process, you're probably an Outlook/Exchange Administrator, and don't know much about Notes. This is where I was a week ago. Make sure you get a copy of the client from the people who give you the .nsf backups. It's the only way you'll ever be able to read the .nsf files. There is no open source solution to accessing the emails, even if you spend $1000 or more for an import tool. The Exchange Migration Wizard and Lotus Notes Connector even requires installation of the Lotus Notes Client on the Migration machine.

Once you have the client, make SURE you can open the .nsf databases you were given. One of the .nsf files we received had 'local access protection' on it, and could not be opened by the Notes client. This causes all kinds of consternation when we tried to import it, and we had no idea that the problem was linked to the Notes client being unable to read the file. To do this, open the Notes Client, choose File, Database, Open and select the .nsf file. Make sure this brings up the messages you wish to import, or the contacts you wish to import. You'll be using the Notes client to do the import of contacts, anyway.

Install both MS Outlook and the Notes client on a fast machine. Install Notes2Outlook on the same machine. Begin your imports. A few tips:
  • Open Outlook before starting Notes2Outlook. The programmer tries to instantiate it when it runs, but Outlook can be touchy when starting up, and the instantiation is best done while Outlook is already open and in memory.
  • Make sure you specify a Working Directory that is EMPTY. Choose a different working directory for each import as you go along.
  • Don't close Notes2Outlook in between conversions. We had a hard time with it opening back up cleanly. Just do all your imports with the one session.
  • Don't choose the All option. It makes for a very big PST file.
  • Notes2Outlook has a counter that appears on the screen down in the left bottom - but it's NOT in the Notes2Outlook window. When you start the application, move the Notes2Outlook window so that the counter can easily be seen on the backdrop of the application. There should be a status message when you start the application.

Now for the names.nsf file - the contacts. The Notes Client is good here, because it will export a VCARD file. Just choose Export, and you can Export an address book to a VCARD 3.0 file containing all of the contact information. There is one small problem, however. Microsoft Outlook does not understand multiple-entry VCARD files. That's just STUPID, but that's how it was when we tried to import the entries in Outlook 2003.

To solve this problem, I wrote a .VBS script that opens up the VCARD file and separates the VCARDS into their own files. Here it is:

Dim ifs, ofs
Dim infile,outfile

PATH = "C:\Notes Contacts\UserName\"
INFILE = "names.vcf"
i = 0

Set ifs = CreateObject("Scripting.FileSystemObject")
Set infile = ifs.OpenTextFile(PATH&INFILE,1,0)

intext = infile.ReadLine

Do Until infile.AtEndOfStream

'Check to make sure we're at the beginning of a VCARD.
If Left(intext,11) = "BEGIN:VCARD" then
i = i +1
OUTFILE = CStr(i)&".vcf"
Set ofs = CreateObject("Scripting.FileSystemObject")
Set outfile = ofs.CreateTextFile(PATH&OUTFILE,True)
'Begin building game buffer
outfile.WriteLine intext
intext = infile.ReadLine
Do Until left(intext,9) = "END:VCARD"
outfile.WriteLine intext
intext = infile.ReadLine
outfile.WriteLine intext

intext = infile.ReadLine
End If


Set ifs = Nothing
Set ofs = Nothing

To use it, just change the pathname of where you put the .vcf file that Notes creates, and this will make a series of files in that directory: 1.vcf, 2.vcf, etc.
I would recommend creating a directory for each user and running this split.vbs program on each directory.

Finally, you can drag and drop the .vcf files directly into the Outlook Contacts folder. When you do, you'll have to Save and Close each one (by default Outlook opens up the vcard, rather than saving it). You can likely hold down Alt-S on the keyboard to quickly do that.

I hope this blog entry helps some other poor sucker with their Lotus Notes to Exchange Migration or NSF to PST conversion. I know I was looking for a free solution on the Internet, and didn't find one. If the Notes client has an open API, perhaps some nice Open Source programmer will write a free converter. Until then, however, this is an inexpensive solution.

September 20, 2005

Artifact of a frightened populace

Metro stations in DC still haven't done anything about these welded shut newspaper boxes at the stations. While it may lead to more security, it has also led to dirtier stations since our nations newspapers are now handing out thousands of 'Express' copies to daily commuters. At this juncture they may just as well remove the welded doors entirely, giving the papers away without leaving them strewn all over the floor in the morning.

Time for REAL tort reform

The "New American Rule" is a proposed tort fee rule that would require lawyers to disclose their hourly rates to clients who may be contingency clients. An editorial in todays Washington PostTimes explains that this proposed new rule could help control unreasonable lawyer fees by exposing greed and giving control to consumers after a case is won. But does it go far enough? Hardly - part of the problem is that the consumer is just as greedy as the lawyer in question. Why wouldn't they agree to such rates in a 'roll-the-dice' situation as long as their own end were served? What the proposal lacks is the capping of 'reasonable' fees at such a point that extremely ridiculous cases are too risky even after factoring in potential rewards. Only then will the crap shoot be curtailed!

September 19, 2005

It seems to me that whenever i'm in the city i see an ambulance rush by. I can't help wondering about who and why. It makes life seem all the more real, a feeling you don't get in the sterility of the suburbs. I'm now blogging from my new cellphone, at least while the novelty lasts.

September 12, 2005

Busy busy busy busy

Life can be so busy. Of course, it's busier when you're addicted to a video game that sucks hours from your life. My level 44 Necromancer, Detestoruuk, on the Everquest Cazic-Thule server may not be much of a legacy, but I'm having fun playing the toon. Yeah, I know, I gave up playing Everquest, but I'm back. I don't know what it is about the summer that makes me log back in, but it does. I'm doing my best to not stay up until 1 in the morning playing, though. Getting to bed at a reasonable time is definitely a goal for me this time around.

My chess-playing has been suffering a bit, since I'm not studying as much. But that's alright. When I lose a game, though, I can see where I've lost it, and it's usually a fairly blatant error. I can hold my own against most beginner players, and I'm all right with that.

We've been busy at work, with lots of projects coming to a peak all at once. It's definitely feast, not famine, at the moment. You know how work can ebb and tide.

As usual, the life of a suburban dad is too full. While I've given some thought to cashing in and moving to a simpler existence, life is just too busy at the moment. I don't even have time to catch up with all of my favorite hobbies. I really could use some focus.

August 11, 2005

New TV Series: Over There

I watched this new series last night - Over There - The episode had several short stories presented in staggered format; a story was presented about an interrogation in Iraq, a kid who lost his leg and didn't want to take morphine and a man whose wife was in Iraq attending a spouse support group consisting of all women. It was this last story that touched me the most. When he breaks down in the group and tells about his recent visit to the grocery store (commissary -sp?) where he's unable to put back food he almost buys for his wife (who is over in Iraq), I felt at least part of his pain. All in all, I think it was a good show. The action shots were very TV-produced special effects in style, but they got their point across. I think the show will do well, but it's not necessarily compelling television. There are some shows that I will sit down to the TV specifically to watch. This show is just one I'll watch if it's on while I'm vegging out.

July 22, 2005

OMG STFU Already!

Not happy with the assault on GTA: San Andreas, an attorney in Florida is now going after The Sims. Why? Because it may be possible to view the smooth, un-detailed bodies of Sims in Sims 2 with the use of a cheat code. That's right, visual depictions of the smooth shape of a human being, WITHOUT GENITALIA OR NIPPLES, has the objections of some idiot in Florida with too much time on his hands. Perhaps next he'd like to withdraw all of the dolls in the universe, slapping ratings on Barbie and Ken. Hell, why stop there - what about all of those cartoons that depict naked animals on TV...(Bugs Bunny - you need to buy some pants, dude.) After all, last time I checked, Looney Tunes was rated G. Even my V-chip is incapable of locking those nasty naked critters from the eyes of my child.
People, people, people, will you all please just SHUT THE HELL UP!? Here's the link: Jackass attorney tries to make fool out of himself - succeeds..

July 18, 2005

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

I am a fan of the original movie, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I've seen it about eight or ten times. I have a tape of it I recorded off of a movie channel preview in 1987. I've seen it in outdoor theaters, movie theaters and on my big screen at home. I love the Oompa-Loompa songs and I think Gene Wilder was a genius. So, of course, Saturday found me in a seat at the local theater where I watched Johnny Depp play Willy Wonka for Tim Burton's version of the book. I also happen to be a Johnny Depp fan, so I tried my best to keep an open mind with this movie, and in fact, the actors, with one exception, did not disappoint. I think they did a wonderful job playing their parts.
The movie had one horrible disappointment, however. The Oompa-Loompas failed to impress at all. The big singing, dancing numbers were interesting, yes. But, the words they were singing were impossible to hear. The modulation of the music was handled terribly, and the impact of the Oompa-Loompa's songs was destroyed by poor production. The original movie did this right. The original Oompa-Loompas were scary, comical, clownish and frightful, and had IMPACT on the audience. The production numbers Tim Burton envisioned were not clownish and frightful. They were clownish as perhaps children see clowns. They were not dark, evil clowns, but instead a funny little production number.
I don't blame the Oompa-Loompa actor (that may have saved Tim money, but it made it worse, really), but instead blame the production team who chose the effect they presented. I also blame Tim a bit, seeing as how he doesn't seem to really understand that clowns are supposed to be frightening to adults. There is a duality in their existence that he has severely missed. Overall, the movie just wasn't dark enough. It could have been, and all he needed to do was hire a bunch of little people, dress them up and make them sing in clown make-up.
My vote goes to the original.....all hail Gene Wilder.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Of course I waited in a book store until midnight on Friday to pick it up. Of course I've finished the book before the weekend was out. I'm a Potter geek through and through. I love the books. No, I did not dress up as Voldemort or a Death Eater. No I didn't even wear an 'I am Voldemort' T-shirt like some of the geeks that showed up. If you're not a Harry Potter fan, you may not know what you're missing. They are some well-written and engrossing tales. Go ahead, try one. What could it hurt?
This book isn't the best one of the series. In fact, I felt that there were too many marginal characters involved in the story, and the author could have explained a few things about some of what was going on. Even though I'd read the first 5 books in the series, I don't remember exactly why everyone is mad at Percy or who Fleur is. A short paragraph would have helped, although it may not have been following the style of the series. Two years is a long time to wait and expect us to remember the previous book. No, I didn't go back and read #5 before hitting the bookstore.
The thing that has made the last few books interesting though is the British author's penchant for killing off major characters in the story. Although this particular kill-off I felt was transparent. There was way too much fore-shadowing from the middle of the story (but I won't ruin it for you).

July 14, 2005

Repair Your Own Major Appliance

Cost for GE Repairman to come and LOOK at your broken washing machine: $69
Estimated cost from local repairmen to replace broken lid switch on washing machine after paying him to look at it.: $125 - $200
Cost of new part from online RepairClinic.Com - $32 with shipping.
Satisfaction of repairing your own major appliance faster than you can get a repair guy to your home: Priceless

Folks, this website is GREAT. You just go to the website, select your make and model number, and select what's wrong. They tell you how to open the appliance (where's the stupid clips!!), how to figure out what's wrong, and then give you pictures of the parts before you order them to know you're getting the right replacement part. The part was $23.95 and with 2-day shipping of $7.95, I had the part and installed it in 5 minutes.
Granted, I'm not afraid of a little electrical repair, but this made my job so much easier, and with the right parts in hand, my repair job wasn't just two wires connected with electrical tape when I was done. I replaced the lid switch and it looks exactly like it did before I started. And just think, no ass crack was involved at all.

June 15, 2005

GreenZAP - Send No Money

No posts for a month - wow. Now that Greenzap is open, I would recommend that you not go giving them any money (even if you have rewards coming to you) - Take a listen to this radio interview. It's GREAT - they've waylayed these guys, and asked them direct questions, to which there seem to be no good answers. Listen yourself before sending money to GreenZAP or filling out any Bank information on their website.

May 15, 2005

Posted New Game Analyses

I've posted new games I've played. I pulled the PGNs from GameKnot (UPDATE: STAY THE HELL AWAY - THESE PEOPLE ARE UNPROFESSIONAL AND DISCOURTEOUS) and fed them to Crafty 19.17 for 10 seconds a move. I only analyzed my own moves for mistakes. If you're interested in my weaknesses in play, it might help you. Just pull up my chess games page and walk through the commentary. No human comments in there yet.

May 08, 2005

Lost My Chess Tournament

I played in (and lost both games at) my first chess tourney today. The pressure was unbelievable, even when I was winning (during the second game). The 'never sure' about your moves is amplified by the addition of a clock and time and performance pressure. I need to learn to listen to the little voice in my head a bit more. Both times that I made the fatal error, I had thought about the thing that got me in trouble. In one, I had even written down a potentially saving move as an option on my scorecard. I know that I poo-pooed one potentially game turning move without adequate analysis (time pressure, or just tired after an hour of play?)...
If I want to win at tournaments, I'm going to have to work on my stamina, and also work on my own ego/assurance levels so that I don't question my self so much in the opening moves, allowing myself more time toward the endgame.
Well, I'll try not to be TOOO hard on myself, even though my first opponent was 11 years old, and he beat me....sigh. Of course, I beat myself. After giving up a pawn, I viewed my game as hopeless, and didn't try as hard as I should have. Had I hung in there, I may have been able to recover the game...but the psychology of losing that pawn to a stupid tactic (discovered attack/zugzwang combo) that I had already THOUGHT to myself that I should have moved out of before-hand, was too much for me.

May 01, 2005

I hate Chess

I hate Chess - I hate losing Chess. I suck at chess - I'm sick of losing. I hate Chess - I hate losing Chess. I suck at chess - I'm sick of losing. I hate Chess - I hate losing Chess. I suck at chess - I'm sick of losing. I hate Chess - I hate losing Chess. I suck at chess - I'm sick of losing. I hate Chess - I hate losing Chess. I suck at chess - I'm sick of losing. I hate Chess - I hate losing Chess. I suck at chess - I'm sick of losing. I hate Chess - I hate losing Chess. I suck at chess - I'm sick of losing. I hate Chess - I hate losing Chess. I suck at chess - I'm sick of losing. I hate Chess - I hate losing Chess. I suck at chess - I'm sick of losing.
There - got that out of my system.....

April 27, 2005

Take Control of Your Life

Following in the footsteps of a fellow blogger, I have cancelled my Everquest accounts, both of them. I haven't played in many months, and still have half a year left on one subscription, but I've turned off the billing for both of them. Damn it, getting your out of control expenses in line is one of the first steps to financial maturity, and it's about time after 38 years that I take some steps. I also moved some debt from 11% to a 0% for a year credit card. I am TAKING control. Next step is to get rid of my Blockbuster-by-mail subscription. Netflix did it so much better, anyway, but I don't really need to watch so much TV.
It's spring - time for some spring cleaning don't you think? Sony has had me on their Everquest-drip for too long, if you ask me. It's worse than crack, because they keep improving it to make it better for those who stay on it the longest. The nail in the coffin? Veteran Rewards which give increasing skills to people like me who've been around 6 or 7 years. That's right - I started in 1999! Ugh - no more. I need to concentrate more on fewer things.

April 24, 2005

My Baby's Back!

My Canon Rebel came back from the factory. She's had the main PCBoard Assembly replaced in the unit. The camera is working now, although one of my lenses pooped out (the Quantary 28-80mm lens). It's got a 5-year warranty, and I still have the receipt and warranty info for it, so I'll be sending it in for repair (the zoom ring doesn't work - it's stuck at 28mm). Yellow/Red Tulip
Here is a tulip from my front yard taken with that very lens. This is about the last picture the lens took before she died on me. I can't imagine WHY it's doing this to me....sigh.

April 19, 2005

Ho Hum

Spring is here - and it's beautiful outside. I can't wait to get my camera back from Canon's service center....soon, soon... When I do, I'm going to take out a rider on my homeowner's policy on it. Looks like it's about $14 a year to protect a $900 investment against loss and theft. Considering how much I use my camera and how much I miss having it, that might be some cheap insurance.....
Well, not much else is going on - I've been playing plenty of chess in my spare time - trying to deepen my book knowledge, and get over some of my weaknesses as a player. Not very exciting for the reader, to be sure. Soon I'll have to hang up the chess pieces at least temporarily in favor of my golf clubs. Now, I'm no golfer, to be sure (I'd be lucky to actually shoot a hole in under 10, even a par 3), but I like to go out anyway and enjoy the day.

April 15, 2005

Interesting Chess Site and Greenzap

First things first - the GreenZap site is live again - preregister now and get $25 when they open this summer. They don't ask for any private info yet, so no harm pre-registering - you can decide later if there's any sign of them being a scam. The promo code is 'randomblings' - Get your free money now.
Now that you're independently wealthy....take some time out for Chess. Come play me a game at (UPDATE: STAY AWAY FROM GAMEKNOT aka CHESSCOLONY - THEY'RE A BUNCH OF UNPROFESSIONAL DOODY-HEADS!!!)- you can play multiple games at once, and there's a nify IE plugin to tell you when it's your turn. You play at play-by-email speeds (3 days in most cases alloted per move), so you can give games your full attention and make those brilliant moves.

SurfJunky Update III - Eternal Optimist

Color me an eternal optimist. I have left Surf Junky running for pretty much all the time. According to the website, my account has amassed earnings of $282.19. Today is April 15th, their own promised pay-by date via Paypal. Do I plan on getting paid? not really. Deep down I understand that the economic reality of the site is that it can't be true. Personal EarningsActivity
Points: 318
Payment rate: $0.6 per hour
Hours spent surfing: 557.60
Your earnings: $282.19
On the other hand, I've not suffered any loss by using the site, and the miniscule chance that they may actually pay out this month (their second month in full operation) is such that the eternal hopeful in me keeps checking my Paypal account. I figure I'll give up on checking for any money in a few days. Until then, paint me with that 'sucker' brush you've got in your hand. So many people on the Internet have said this is a scam that I don't understand why the site is still there. With this kind of money owed me, I can imagine someone with nothing better to do bringing it to small claims court for judgement against the site owner. From what I understand of them, though, they're probably used to that and don't care.

April 14, 2005

Resumes and Identity Theft

Hint for people looking for work. Your social security number should not be on your resume. With identity theft being the fastest rising crime of this century, you need to be more alert of where your social security number is needed. When you apply for a job, your social security number is needed to process your pay. However, your resume normally has a larger circulation. Recruiters, human resources personnel, supervisors, and even technical review personnel will have access to this document. They're not necessarily all honest people, or trained to properly care for (shred) such documentation. Please keep your SSN off the resume, and save it for when it's absolutely necessary.

April 13, 2005

Factory Service

I've sent my baby back to the factory to be repaired. We'll see how much it costs to have it fixed. It's hard to bear not having my Canon digital Rebel. It's a wonderful camera, and it sucks having it broken. It's a shame I'm an honest sort, I was thinking as I was on the phone with my insurance agent. I was close to considering taking a rider out on the camera and then waiting a month to claim it....ah, so tempting. Insurance fraud sucks, and I would never perpetuate it, but I can certainly see the allure.

April 12, 2005

Greenzap to Resume Service 13Apr?

Looks like GreenZAP is getting back online soon - They estimate to have their servers back in running order by 13 April 2005, according to an email sent to pre-registered users. Whether or not GreenZAP is going to be able to compete with Ebay's Paypal service is questionable, considering that Paypal has such deep links into the major market area of online auctions. But I'm willing to give them a try, especially considering the free $25 they're giving to new users, a deal just like the one that got me started on my Paypal account years ago.
I can't help but wonder how they're going to get any market penetration, especially since they won't be able to get the hooks into Ebay auctions since they're directly competing with them.

April 10, 2005

Signs of Spring

Lawnmowers humming, callouses growing, dirt under your fingernails, birds nesting in your mini-evergreens, hornets nests to clean out from under your oven vent. A deck to powerwash and paint and outside trim cracking off the house. A garage door that needs repairing, a carpet needing replacing, last year's garden turned to weed.

Ah, but the cut grass smells sweet, and now that the weeds have been pulled, the garden looks primed and ready for new plantings. The painters have come and powerwashed the deck, and tomorrow they'll sand, prime and paint the trim, sealing the deck on Wednesday. We've already held our first barbecue, and I just know the neighbors will be next. With the IRS savings plan, I may have enough this year to replace the carpet on the main level with oak hardwood flooring and an overlay carpet.. Perhaps I'll paint first...perhaps I won't do any of it..

April 06, 2005

GreenZAP growing pains

Remember signing up for Paypal, not believing you'd ever collect your $25? Well, a new competitor has sprung up calling itself GreenZAP (get it, ZAP some green, whatever...obvious). Well, their site is having problems serving up content. If you want your free money, just click here to pre-register. They're not asking for any private info yet, so no harm done (unless you're not already a recipient of massive amounts of SPAM and they just want your email)... Since I already get 1000's of SPAM messages, I figured nothing ventured, nothing gained.
They sent out an email warning of their growing pains on their network. I can imagine - give away free money, invite lots of web traffic...again, watever...obvious. The 'invite' word you need to sign up is 'randomblings'. Benefits for signing up others with your own made up keyword.

April 05, 2005

Ear Infections Suck

When you have a child with an ear infection, there is not much you can do until the antibiotics kick in. You can give them Tylenol, or Motrin for older kids, but the plain truth is that their ear hurts, painfully, and you can't fix it. They will wake up in the middle of the night, and it will be difficult to get them back to sleep. It sucks, blows chunks, etc.... and I would like to kill the bastard who decided to give my kid the gene that makes him succeptible (sp?) to these things (*Note: agnostic speaker...).

April 04, 2005

A Hole in the Theory

Nature Magazine has published an article by physicist George Chapline disputing the existence of black holes as we have thought about them for years. Rather than a collapsed star that sucks in and destroys everything that falls within its event horizon, they may instead be masses of that elusive 'dark energy' that astrophysicists have been looking for all these years. The article mentions that the matter sucked into a black hole may instead be converted by this dark energy and bounced back as anti-matter (electrons become positrons - reverse-charge electrons), colliding with inbound matter.
Considering that even Stephen Hawking has admitted to being wrong about black holes (albeit in a different theoretical discussion regarding preservation of informational state) we quiet observers of the science world should remember to keep our eyes and ears tuned to current research. We teach these elements of science to our children, and we should make sure that they get the current theory when we're talking to them, so that they understand just what is meant by the word 'theory'.

April 03, 2005

Free Money at Greenzap!

Remember when you signed up for Paypal and they gave you free money? Well, there' a new money by email service starting up on the web - Greenzap. You can pre-register now, but you'll need a pre-registration code. The code word is 'randomblings'. If you click on that link there, it'll pre-fill it in for you. Where else can you get $25 for free? The days of free money may be coming back to the 'net. Get yours NOW before the companies go bust again ;)

April 02, 2005

Checking out Yahoo's 360o service

Got an invite to Yahoo's 360o service today and invited a few friends. If you'd like an invite to this invite-only beta, I have heaps of invites left. Just ask for one (I'll need your email address).

April 01, 2005

New Chess Games Posted

I replaced the chess games I had posted with some from 1/2005-3/2005 that I played at FICS. Right now, the chess game viewer works best with the default skin. I didn't take into account my alternate pages when doing the skins.

March 31, 2005

Hack me!

Open invitation - I am using Microsoft Outlook 2003. This is an open invitation to you, the Internet populace. I dare you to send me an email message ( that infects my computer with a virus/trojan/malware through my email client. Obviously, I won't be clicking on any if you're going to prove that Outlook is such a security risk, you'll have to do it without my help. Prove me wrong - show me why I'm an idiot by using Microsoft Outlook - send me a virus that will execute just by my receiving it. Make it as in-your-face as you want - format my hard drive...go ahead...
Now, if you haven't just sent me that email - SHUT UP about Outlook being an insecure mail client. You are just repeating rhetoric and you don't really understand the issues. Why do I use Outlook? Because I can - safely...and it lets me easily do what I want to programmatically. I like it - it's a nice interface, and it does what I need it to do. And Bob? I didn't mean you buddy.

Wonderful Helpful Outlook - NOT!

I use Outlook 2003, and Im not ashamed to admit I use Microsoft products. Sure, I'm a geek, a programmer, a Unix guy and all things Slashdot and Fark, but it boils down to usefulness. I have to say that I've never been infected by a virus or trojan because I use Outlook. I keep my system patched and I don't run executables that people send me - I'm a safe emailer.
Now, with that out of the way - the saga begins. As some of you know, I play chess at the Free Internet Chess Server (FICS). One of the options at FICS is to email your games to you in PGN format. I had briefly discussed this here on my blog, and I wrongly blamed the FICS software for sending me corrupt PGN games. Last night, user DAV at FICS helped me find the root of the problem, and it wasn't FICS at all. It was Microsoft Outlook trying to be helpful. As usual, good intentions lead to bad results. The solution is to tell Microsoft Outlook not to help you...
Microsoft Outlook seemed to feel that any line of the chess game that started with a check (+) in the first move of a word-wrapped line needed to be cut twice and the move repeated. Don't ask me why...who knows who wrote the stupid line wrap-insertion code for Outlook or what drugs they were on at the time. Suffice it to say that inserting extra moves into the middle of a chess game is not conducive to computerized analysis.
The solution is to tell Microsoft Outlook not to help you, by unclicking an option in the mailer called 'Remove extra line breaks in plain text messages' - which, by the way is NOT what it's doing, since there ARE NO LINE BREAKS in the pgn file that FICS sends out. To set this, go to Tools|Options|Email Options and uncheck the box about a third of the way down labeled [Remove extra line breaks in plain text messages]. Now, this will appear to corrupt all of your game emails without the option to repair them with the manual [Restore line breaks] option. To make it effective, close Outlook and re-open Outlook.
Amazingly, all of your emailed games will now be magically fixed. This was important since I wanted my Outlook to automatically process this inbound mail and send it to Crafty for analysis, and post it automatically to my website when it was done. Now I'll be able to complete that little project.

March 29, 2005

Everything is the Same

It all runs together after a while. Especially after 38 years, and I suspect it'll run together even more as I get older. When I go to the movies, it is rare there is anything new or unexpected in the plotlines. When I listen to music, it is very rare that I hear anything truly unique. As I read other's blogs on the 'net, they all begin to look the same.
People all shop at Walmart, Sears or Kohls for their clothes. Men's suits and slacks all look alike. Even bikinis are all extremely similar, and I'm beginning to wonder about my sanity because even the bikini fillers are all the same ole thing.
Perhaps I have an innate need for new things because of my desire to always be learning something new. The world isn't so much letting me down as it is pandering to the young blood. Everything old is new again - to them, the next generation. Meanwhile we old people have seen it all before. My son, now 11, is ga-ga over Metallica and Black Sabbath songs from the 1970's era. To him, this stuff is brand new. He's learning to play electric guitar, and this is just the coolest stuff. To me, it's nostalgic.
If you're reading this, I hope I'm not boring you. I know that I can get into a funk and that it rubs off on the blog.....I'm just trying not to feel so old....and I could ramble on for a real long time here....but what's the point? I'm sure if you go back in my 5 years of archives, you'll find a similar rant...there hasn't been anything truly new or interesting since the invention of the World Wide Web.

March 27, 2005

New Skin Available

I put together a skin called Piano800 (a new stylesheet - use the skin selector drop down at the top of the blog.) The skin is designed for 1024x768 and 1280x1024 screens, which covers the majority of folks. The image isn't one that resizes well, so I didn't make it a resizable skin (like the default skin). I'm going to work on a skin that resizes through all of the dimensions next, probably. It's going to requires some planning. The skin is cool looking though if you have one of the afore-mentioned screen sizes....took me a few hours...working with the CSS to make it just right...and making the image. Much of the time was spent tweaking 5px here, and 5px there.

March 25, 2005

Deploying ASP.NET Apps with Integrated Security

At work we're in the midst of deploying an ASP.NET application using Integrated security (using impersonation - <identity impersonate ="true"\> is the tag, btw). This allows us to develop the application securely using Windows accounts, and make use of the security features of the Operating system, including integration with SQL Server 2000 and the Active Directory groups, etc... In deploying it to a new server, I was locking down the application directories to ensure that only the people who needed to access the application could get to it, and I found out something when I locked it down too far. and why are you using a domain controller as a web server, you naughty geek?!?
You see, ASP.NET needs to recompile the application into a DLL before it starts executing the code (it checks for things like changes to the aspx files before starting up). But if you're using Imersonation, the ASPNET account is not the account being used for this compile operation. Instead, it's the 'NETWORK SERVICE' account, which will need access to the entire application for checking for changed files, and write access to the binaries directory for writing out the .dll. The error you'll get if this problem applies to you is something along the lines of "Access Denied to .[your app path]\ web.config'. Failed to start monitoring file changes.". The fix is to permit 'NETWORK SERVICE' account (local account except on domain controllers - and why are you using a domain controller as a web server, you naughty geek?!?) read access to your entire web site, and write access to where the compiled code is.
Using Integrated Security for your web applications is a good way to build security deep into the site when using SQL Server or other integrated database product. It allows security to pervade the very core of your code, rather than provide only an entry mechanism to your web site. You can and should lock users out of things that they shouldn't have access to, even if your code doesn't allow them to execute code. New bugs, buffer overflows, viruses, and the law of unintended consequences will come back to bite you in the ass if you're not careful, and it's better to apply security at all levels of your design.

March 24, 2005

Putting it together with Duct Tape and Baling Wire

My new custom 404.ASP page reads <%
If Request.QueryString <> "404;" Then
Set FileObject = Server.CreateObject( "Scripting.FileSystemObject" )
Set LogStream = FileObject.OpenTextFile (Server.MapPath ("/statistics")& "\-----,txt" ,8, true)
LogStream.WriteLine ("404 on " & Request.QueryString)

Response.Redirect "\index.asp"
End If
as shown in the box. You see, in my stylesheets I added a hack to fix an Internet Explorer CSS Display bug wherein CSS floating elements slice themselves off to match the size of its neighbors when hovering over links in the parent element (div/span). The hack involves pointing to a background image, which forces a redraw....but I didn't want an actual image to be used, so I pointed it to 'null'...which generates a request back to the server for an image that isn't there. I guess that I could create an empty image called null, but that didn't occur to me while I was fixing the 404 redirect page. Oh well, I need a way to track 404's anyway, since GoDaddy.Com doesn't give me the ability to scan my raw log files for free. So, I use ASP to track session and application stats, and visits to my web page, including referers (sp?). Obviously, in the code I am posting here, I've changed the filename I track to -----------. You'll want to make this an actual file on your server if you use it. The 8 represents APPEND mode for opening the file.

March 23, 2005

Prime Number Algorithm Breakthrough?

In New Scientist Breaking News - Classic maths puzzle cracked at last the article discusses a breakthrough in congruence mathematics. At the end of the article, it mentions applicability to cryptographic algorithms currently in use on the Internet, and I am assuming that applicability is meant for the prime number algorithms used in public key cryptography. Already, weaknessed in SHA are showing up (well, after 30+ years). Combined with this, are we set to weather a new storm of cryptographic attacks on the underlying security of the 'net?
The article isn't clear, however, as to the applicability toward prime number computation. If any of you reading this know where I can get more information on the new discovery, or a laymen's discussion on its applicability toward public key crypto, please drop a comment and point us in the right direction.

March 22, 2005

American Culture at its Best

MSNBC reports that Monster swine 'Hogzilla' was real, experts say. That's right - National Geographic has confirmed that an 800 pound wild hog did indeed exist in Alapaha, GA - a small town at the intersection of RT129 and RT82. One of the things that makes America great is the ability of its residents to make money off of practically any occurence, natural or unnatural that they come across. One of the things that makes America great is the ability of its residents to make money off of practically any occurence...With access to two major highways, the exit for the huge hog should bring in plenty of tourist cash once the locals capitalize on the giant pig. I already feel the urgent need to stop at the new exit that I can imagine them building, and picking up an "I heart the giant hog" T-shirt...a perfect slogan, if I do say so myself. They've already held a festival for the big piggie, so I know they're on the right track. American road trips are nothing unless you stop at the tourist traps along the way, and I still have a trip planned to see the World's Largest Ball of Twine. Someday.....

March 21, 2005

Blog Skinning

Ok, I'm working on skinning my blog so that I can play with different stylesheets on the fly. One of the results of doing this is the addition of cookies to my site that will remember which skin you choose, so that all of the pages pick up the new skin. I found a lot of useful references on the web, but no one site was more helpful than the next. Most places that I looked at used server-side scripts to skin their blog. Instead, I am choosing to use multiple stylesheets with Javascript to switch between stylesheets.
To do this, you place link tags in your header that load in the different stylesheets. Then, there is Javascript linked to the option box (top right of this page) when the value is changed. It uses DHTML to switch the active stylesheet to the one that is chosen. A List Apart had the necessary Javascript code for switching the stylesheet on the fly. I'll work on some stylesheets that are actually attractive (as opposed to the only alternate that is up there now).
One thing that this work is doing is helping me to understand page layout more and more, as well as understand some of the nastier CSS bugs in the Internet Explorer display code.

March 20, 2005

We went for a walk

I dragged the boy out for a walk (he would rather stay home) and the wife grabbed the dog. We walked for about a mile and a half, and back again. Tired Shih Tzu Fluffy on a walk Now that we're back and tired, thought I'd stop and post a pic of the dog from the walk. We didn't see anything interesting nature-wise other than funny looking trees and some squirrels. I'd hoped to be able to get a picture of a large bird I'd seen out there before, or maybe a deer, but no such luck.

Mandarin Design. Web and Blog Design and Development

I want to thank Mandarin Design's website for some of the CSS tricks that I'm now using on my website. They have a lot of neat CSS tips and tricks that help your layout be more magazine-like. I've been working out different CSS classes than can be applied easily when I want to add these elements to my posts. Mandarin Design Like this nice pull-out text class in this post. All I have to do in Blogger while posting is assign a span or paragraph and give it the proper class name 'class=whatever'. And of course, changing the stylesheet automagically updates all of my posts...I'm beginning to really understand the allure of CSS. I don't think I'll ever go back to table layouts ;)

Check Engine Lights and Stupid Computers

The check engine light went off in my Dodge Neon (2000). This always causes a small swell of panic. After all, what kind of failure could you imagine would be associated with the Engine? Thrown rods and leaking head gaskets flooded my mind as I drove home on the highway at just barely the speed limit, fearing the worst was going on under the hood.

...all I can think is that it's going to cost me a new car.

The same car has been in a bad accident. It was a few years ago, and my wife got sideswiped by a van trying to make a right turn from the middle lane. It was pretty bad, but the car was mostly fixed up. I found out way too late that the alignment in the front end was permanently damaged, and there's not much I can do about it, save having her frame-pulled. Since I have no way to attribute this particular failure to the accident, I'd end up paying for it myself. Add to this that the hand-brake light has been turning on every time I accelerate from a dead stop and that I hadn't yet gotten my yearly inspection.....all I can think is that it's going to cost me a new car - and Im still paying for the wifes'.
I took her into the shop yesterday (note for others - it seems Firestone doesn't DO check-engine lights on the weekend, although I don't know why, since that's when people WANT their cars to be worked on.) and it costs $79.50 for them to pull the code out of the computer and look it up [probably on the Internet, for all I know]. They said the code represented a failure in a torque or acceleration sensor or something like that, so they removed and tested the sensor....which passed muster.
The car passed inspection, the brake light was an easy fix (low on brake fluid) and they turned off the code on the computer. Everything's fine and dandy with the car, except for that alignment thing on the front-left wheel...crisis averted...for now. Computers are great, except when they cost you money when they wrongly report a failure. The shop guy suggested that maybe the sensor just had a disconnect and replugging it in fixed it...we'll see. Stupid least it forced me to have the inspection and brakes done.

March 17, 2005

The Heavy Duty DDR Dance Pad

We ordered on Ebay a heavy, metal-encased Dance Dance Revolution dance pad for the Playstation 2. It came today, dual boxed and brand new. It works GREAT! It doesn't move around the floor (it weighs about 20 pounds or more...), and it takes my weight (almost 200#) just fine. It's so much better than the normal game pad you buy in the stores. Ebay is fantastic! You can buy anything on the 'net. My son is having a ball with the new pad. He can pass challenging mode on the stupid game. I leave it on beginner, and about 3 songs wears me out completely at that slow speed. I'm so jealous..

March 16, 2005

A Rousing Read

I finished reading American Roulette. If you like reading first-hand accounts of criminal enterprises or books about con games and/or con men, this book is one for you. The book has only one slightly boring chapter, when the author goes back in time to look at the origins of their con games. Apart from that chapter, the book is engrossing and pulls the reader gently through the book. The only thing that I found irritating about the book is that the author doesn't show any particularly redeeming qualities. There's nothing in the book that would bring you over to his side and after reading the book, you may find yourself wondering just what makes him so special that he should be able to get away with cheating the casino for 25 years when you can't even exceed the speed limit once without getting a ticket. I'm a fan of crime non-fiction and con man stories because I like learning about the cons themselves. I'm a bit of a puzzle freak, so getting raw information like that is enjoyable for me.
Next on my list is Shadow Counter. I finished Chapter 1, and it seems to be an interesting story about a blackjack card counter. It's an older book that I've just never gotten around to reading. We'll see how it goes, and if it has enough raw information in it to keep me aroused (no pun intended here, but feel free to write your own joke).

Kasparov Retires from Chess

I'm a little late with this 'news', but wanted to wish him well - Garry, you're one of the greatest chess players in history - may your life continue to be long and prosperous - Guardian Unlimited | World Latest | In a Surprise Move, Kasparov Retires. That's right - Chess's public champion Garry Kasparov is retiring at the ripe old age of 41. Well, retiring from chess anyways.

SurfJunky Update III

Surf Junky appears to be non-operational this morning. Last stats I received was last night:

Activity Points: 96
Payment rate: $0.45 per hour
Hours spent surfing: 158.63

Your earnings: $71.42

This morning - image links on their server are not working and their home page states that "Surf Junky is experiencing some unexpected downtime." If I were a gambling man - I'd give 50-50 odds that they're gone (they should not have had to disappear until 15Apr before not paying thats why 50-50 odds). No more Surf Junky updates until at least 15 Apr...I'll let you know if I get paid, but don't hold your breath, I'm not going to...

UPDATE: Update to the update - they appear to be back online this afternoon...

March 15, 2005

From the -Holy Shit, That's Cool- Dept.

From: Wired News: Need a Building? Just Add Water:
Soon, there will be such a method. A pair of engineers in London have come up with a "building in a bag" -- a sack of cement-impregnated fabric. To erect the structure, all you have to do is add water to the bag and inflate it with air. Twelve hours later the Nissen-shaped shelter is dried out and ready for use.

It's nice to know that computer technology is not the only place that people are making strides. There are many, many problems facing our earth, and it's good to know that people are out there in other fields working at solutions. Too often, people think that computers are some kind of magic solution to all of their problems, applicability be damned. Well, computers don't build buildings, well - not yet....

Tuesday is Choose Day

Thanks to Tuesday is Choose Day for this meme:
Would you rather:
1. be responsible for an oil tanker crash off the coast of alaska OR cause a rebellion in a developing nation? That's an easy one. Human suffering is much more preferable to animal suffering. After all, animals are innocent creatures. After the Valdez incident, I've had a lot of pent-up emotion over just what we did to the wildlife in that region. Also, the rebellion would obviously benefit SOMEONE, whereas the oil tanker crash would hurt everyone in the region.
2. get locked out of your house while naked OR throw up all over yourself in the middle of an important meeting? Another soft ball. Throwing up on yourself is the most disgusting, sickening thing I can think of. Getting locked out of your house is something we've all done (or will do), and being naked is no big deal. I think I'd definitely be able to laugh about it later...but I wouldn't even be able to THINK about throwing up on myself without a recurrence.
3. wake up to find your feet have grown two sizes OR hair all over your back that grows back every night? A woman wrote this question, right? I'm a man, of COURSE I'd rather have 2 more shoe sizes to contend with.
4. eat nothing but cheese for a week OR only chinese food for two months? I think I've done this - or at least something similar. I was in the military for a few years, and ate the same food day in and day out at the mess hall at several locations. Who doesn't love Chinese Food? (Well, I'm originally from New York, so maybe that has something to do with it...?)

Atrophy of the Mind

Atrophy - That's the word I was trying to remember. My mind feels as though it is undergoing atrophy (did I use that right?) I'm unable to remember words. They sit on the tip of my tongue, and I think it's because I haven't done any real writing (see, the word for the type of writing - not free - creative, I think, just slipped out of my mind.) It didn't flow, like it might have years ago.
I think I'm seeing the limits of my own intellect, and I'm not happy about the limitations. Studying chess, piano, CSS, ASP.NET, HTML and writing, along with handling day to day life, the rigors of my job and family, are too much for my little brain to handle.
Perhaps I need to read more. In that vein, I'm halfway through a book I picked up in a discount book store - American Roulette. It's the first-hand account of a man who made his living cheating casinos at roulette, craps and blackjack over a period of 25 or 30 years. Let's see if reading helps. I'm going to try to read more books for enjoyment.

March 14, 2005

Corporate Memory (Internet History Lesson)

Many of the people reading this blog don't know what Usenet is. Oh, they may have heard of Google Groups, and they may even use it to their advantage when they're looking for technical answers (btw: This tip alone will make you seem smarter than your peers...). And even those who do know what Usenet is, some portion of them have never heard of the Usenet Oracle. The Usenet Oracle is an anonymous, cooperative email(message) system for creative, humorous writing. The home page of the Oracle says it's been around since 1989. I don't recall exact dates of when I ran into the Oracle for the first time, but that sounds about right. [I've been on the Internet since 1986. Well, ARPANET anyways.... And even before then, I was active in the online community through local dial up bulletin board systems (BBSs) and FIDOnet.] The Oracle is a 'personality' that existed on shared message systems. You ask it your question, and some random person gets your question and answers it, usually humorously, and demands your sacrifice in return. Some of the funniest stuff I've ever read on the Internet was at the expense of the Oracle's question-asking public. If you have a moment, check it out. Or ask it a question. I promise you it'll be worth your time.

March 13, 2005

The True Enemy

For those of you who don't know, I'm 38 years old. I'm not old enough to be called old, and I'm not old enough to be called young. I'm just now approaching my mid-life crisis, even though I'm nowhere near middle-aged (well, ok a little close). I am just now reaching a point in my life where things that were clear to me are now fuzzy, and things that were fuzzy are now clear; and while I didn't mean my eyesight, that applies too.
I have found the true enemy of man - it is Time. Or perhaps it is a sign of the times or the world in which we live that it has become such a pronounced enemy. There are so many things that I want to do, that I want to make time for, but there are not enough hours in the day. And each moment that I spend giving time to one pursuit, the rest of my pursuits slip away neglected.
I'm feeling this way because this weekend I spent a lot of time with my son. I love spending time with him. We went to play laser tag at LaserQuest near Potomac Mills mall. I always win (see scoresheet - I'm BlackHat - he's Ace), and he idolizes me begrudgingly. That's the part I like. The old man still has something on his son. I'm still the big guns in the family, and don't you forget it bub!
At the same time that we were at LaserQuest, at the movies (Robots), and walking 2 or 3 miles through the park today, things weren't getting taxes, piano practice, chess practice, badly needed blog redesign work, coding study, picture taking (well, ok I took some at the park), book reading, bill paying, research for new business, playing with the dog (we took him to the park too...), needed indoor repainting, needed outdoor repainting, and so on ad infinitum.
Do others feel the crunch of time as I do? Or am I poorly out of tune with what the world expects of me and I've become overly self-indulgent? The older I get, the more things I have to do, and the more un-completed things I leave behind. For each hobby I have kept over the years, there are numerous ones I've not garnered enough steam on starting. I look at what others have completed in less time on the earth than I, and I am sincerely jealous at their hard work and perserverance. If I had the focus and drive to be as successful as people like Michael Dell or Bill Gates, would I have the other good things in my life? Is it all a trade-off, and have I made the right trades?
Maybe I'm not approaching a mid-life crisis. Maybe I'm smack in the middle of one. As Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey said "Time is a cruel thief to rob us of our former selves. We lose as much to life as we do to death." And Mason Cooley said, "Regret for wasted time is more wasted time." So I guess I'll stop wasting time and move on to the next task. Till tomorrow....

Conspiracy Shmiracy

Just a quick rant: There is no right-wing conspiracy. There is no left-wing conspiracy. The conspiracy does not exist. It is in your mind, and I am sick of reading about it. Stop your belly-aching about the left or right 'wing' and buck up to the fact that there are people out there with a different outlook than you. Spend less time bellyaching about how 'they' are out to get you and ruin your life, and more time trying to understand their side of the issues. Instead of pointing to their faults, try looking for the faults in your own arguments for whatever issue you're proposing and try to come up with middle ground where you can both meet. For Crissake, you're both human, and both prone to being imperfect. Accept that there is another point of view, and address it instead of worrying about whether or not they have their underwear on straight or their tie is a four hand instead of a Windsor.

SurfJunky Update

SurfJunky Update: As of today, I have attracted at least one down-link at SurfJunky, that pay for auto-surfing website that started up last month. While no one knows whether or not we'll get paid, I just leave it up and running on my extra computer screen. - Stats to date:
Activity Points: 72
Payment rate: $0.45 per hour
Hours spent surfing: 120.67

Your earnings: $54.32

Keep checking back - I will keep you abreast of whatever happens with this. I am making sure not to cheat, use refreshers or anything that might get me banned. I'm following all their rules as best I can.

Blogger Is Getting On My Nerves

Blogger is really pissing me off lately. All this weekend, posting on Blogger has been like a lottery. You put together your post and hit the publish button. If you win the lottery, your post gets published on your blog. If you lose the lottery, your post goes into the Ether, never to be seen again (unless you hit the back button and cut and paste it into a more stable program, e.g. Notepad). I've wanted to try to play with the image posts I've been making lately to try to wrap text around the pics, etc...but I can't even get Blogger to behave enough to simply make a post, much less know what it's published or not. I've even seen some blogs where Blogger is posting 3 times, probably because their redirection code is screwed up, but the script is going ahead anyway.

March 12, 2005

Losing a Hard Drive Sucks Major <bleep>

Dead Disk Drive
I lost a disk drive this week. It had gone south on me before, just after the warranty ran out of course; but it lasted 6 months after the last failure. I'm pretty sure it failed while waking up from sleep one morning when I came down to check my email. It started making nasty noises and putting it in the freezer didn't help. I didn't have anything VERY valuable on it, but I did lose some pictures from my trip to Vegas that I hadn't yet burned to CD. Losing a hard drive sucks, especially one that was only manufactured 2 years ago.

Mystery Pic Revealed

Pistachio Nut with +17 diopter macro lens
Mystery Pic revealed: Ok, I can't hold it in till Sunday - the picture is of a pistachio nut. No winners this time - but I'll post another one soon(er or later) - maybe make it a regular feature.

March 11, 2005

Are you a fan of Wikipedia? I know I am - it's a fantastic extension of the Internet, allowing people to share information in a manner that makes sense, editing each other's works and offering some very solid research on important subjects. Well, BoyHowdy introduced me to the Uncyclopedia today, and it went right into my bookmarks list. Everyone has something they want to rant about, or otherwise spread disinformation about - (my favorite rant is Ikea so far). And here you can do it all to your heart's content. But forget about well researched articles. This site is all about disinformation, rumour and humour. So put on your 6th sense before visiting.
I would like to thank Peter Mack for The Perspective of the Day: Go to The Global Rich List and see where you lie on the grand scale of the world's wealth. I think I'll permanently bookmark this site so that every time I think I'm a poor shmuck without enough money, I can click on the bookmark and lighten my perspective on things.

March 09, 2005

DANGEROUS NEW PHISHING ATTACKS: A new phishing email with the following URL is being sent around - it appears to use Ebay's own servers to redirect the user information to the hacker's PC.... Although the link in the email is expressed simply:

Here's the code for the attacking link:
(hackerPC address changed to protect the stupid)

Note that the link sends you to Ebay's signin service! If you click on the link, you actually end up on Ebay's signin page! And clicking on the Certificate Info verifies that the actual SSL session is indeed being held with Ebay's normal signin what's going on here?
The hacker is using Ebay's own scripts against them. Apparently the RedirectToDomain command is meant to pass the user credentials to the hacker's configured PC at (real hacker address in the email!) where the script eBayISAPI.php is waiting for the user to arrive. Potentially, if eBay's login server is stupid enough, it will pass the user's credentials to the specified redirected URL.

This is a fairly sophisticated phishing attack. Potentially the hacker might not even end up getting your password. Maybe they get an internal authentication code for your eBay account that allows them to act as if they were logged in to your account, by passing those authenticated signals on to other eBay servers (in specially formatted HTTP requests).

While I've notifed eBay (at, there's a lesson in secure web application design in how this email attack works, and web designers should pay heed to the weaknesses and vulnerabilities inherent in passing credentials from server to server in 'custom' login scripts/scenarios. At a very minimum, checks should be made to ensure the machine you're passing to is on a pre-approved list. A secure channel should be used if at all possible (client PKI certificates!)

March 07, 2005

In Other News: Got my butt handed to me during lunch today. A coworker and I play chess at lunch. He beat me hands down 2-0. Since I've been spending more time on HTML and div tags than studying/practicing chess, I'm beginning to lose the edge I had on him that was keeping us even. I'm going to have to buckle down and study if I want to win. Time to go check out the current version of Chess Position Trainer. That's a completely free practice tool for studying your repertoires and practicing against known positions. It's good software, and if you play chess, you should be using it.
If you haven't already - check out the 'What is this' contest two blog entries down - no one has gotten it yet ;)
Here we go again. For those of you who have been on the Internet long enough - Pay for Surfing is back. There is a service called Surf Junky making the rounds that will potentially pay you 45 cents an hour to leave a browser running on your computer. It's fairly obtrusive, but if you have two monitors (or two computers!) and frequently don't need the screen real estate, you can still work while ads scroll on your second screen. I've signed up and so far, my computer has supposedly earned $17+. Now to see if they end up actually paying me. Surf Junky may be old news already, but there's plenty of buzz about them already. They've already denied users of the Firefox browser access to their service because of the many plugin capabilities of the browser and the ability to use them to cheat the system into believing you are there when you're not. The way they did this was to turn off those accounts, with money in them, no less - raising the hackles of a large community of people yelling 'Scam!'. I'll report on what happens with my account right here on Randomblings, so keep your eyes peeled. I'll let you know when I bypass the $25 mark (sign up under my referral link if you want to help me get there quickly) and I'll let you know when or if I ever get paid via Paypal.

UPDATE: My Surf Junky total passed $25 today (3/8/2005). I have not used Firefox or cheated in any way. I'm going to leave it running until their 'payday'. Here are the current stats as of 12:55 EST:
Personal Earnings

Activity Points: 33
Payment rate: $0.45 per hour
Hours spent surfing: 55.64

Your earnings: $25.04

March 06, 2005

Guess the Closeup Contest: If you can guess what this is a picture of, you'll get a free outbound link on my blog page(s). It'll be over on the left side and show up on all of the pages in my site (pending no layout changes, of course):

March 05, 2005

Anti-Gravity Irish Dancers: Also seen at the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Alexandria today were these Irish Dancers testing their new anti-gravity parade float. As you can see, it was working perfectly:
Irish Dancers Flying at St. Patrick's Day Parade
Happy St. Patrick's Day! Today we went to the Alexandria St. Patrick's Day Parade (yes, I KNOW it's early for that, but they had one anyway.) I saw this little drummer boy in one of the marching bands:
Little Drummer Boy at St. Patrick's Day Parade

I'll post more pics later - I'm still going through them all - the curse of having a digital camera - information overload - you can take pictures of EVERYTHING, but eventually you have to sort through them all.

March 02, 2005

The only good thing about being sent on travel is that you can sometimes get a really sweet rental car, like this one that had 3 miles on it when I got it:
Sebring Touring Convertible

February 28, 2005

Well, isn't that special. It's 11:24PM on the East Coast (10:24 where I am). I had to take a little business trip, so of course the largest snowfall of the year arrives on the day I'm flying out. I tried getting to the airport early enough to fly standby, and I did - but the airline oversold the plane, so no standby seats were available. The normal 2PM flight was cancelled, so I couldn't fly standby then either.
So, I got on my ticketed flight which should have left at 4:30 or so. We got in the air 2 hours later, after two de-icings (one of which was held up due to broken down de-icing equipment), and the fixing of some frozen flaps on the airplane. Well, I'm alive, and my bags made it in good stead (hours earlier than I did), so I had to walk from gate 4 to gate 25 to pick them up...sigh.
I picked up my bags and checked my cellphone for messages. My 3PM stock alerts were all bad news (not that Im worried about them..they're solid) and the news of the day says a suicide bomber in Iraq took out 115 people and injured more than 100 more.
For those of you who believe in karma - I believe now is the time I should pick up a lottery ticket, am I right? Good night folks - I'm heading for some sleep.
Who's Nerdier?
I am nerdier than 87% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

February 27, 2005

They [not 'They', but the weathermen] are saying we should expect up to 10 more inches of snow tomorrow - It's hard work hauling around rolled snowballs - as evidenced by my son taking a break here:
Andrew building a snow man
Listed on BlogShares

February 26, 2005

Me at the Piano: I practice playing the piano now and again - I'm not much of a player, but I like to sit and fiddle from fake books - I can fake a song by tri-chording and sustaining and playing the melody, and it's an enjoyable little side-trip on the road of life. Recently I've learned to play 'Piano Man' by Billy Joel - one of my favorite artists. Click the pic for bigger version.

Me at the piano
Found on: Bread and Roses: "Bold the states you've been to, underline the states you've lived in and italicize the state you're in now." Ok - I'll play this game...

Alabama / Alaska / Arizona / Arkansas / California / Colorado / Connecticut / Delaware / Florida / Georgia / Hawaii / Idaho / Illinois / Indiana / Iowa / Kansas / Kentucky / Louisiana / Maine / Maryland / Massachusetts / Michigan / Minnesota / Mississippi / Missouri / Montana / Nebraska / Nevada / New Hampshire / New Jersey / New Mexico / New York / North Carolina / North Dakota / Ohio / Oklahoma / Oregon / Pennsylvania / Rhode Island / South Carolina / South Dakota / Tennessee / Texas / Utah / Vermont / Virginia / Washington / West Virginia / Wisconsin / Wyoming / Washington D.C. /"
FrontPage extensions are both a blessing and a curse as any IIS web server admin/developer will tell you. On one hand, FrontPage is good at handling web sight management, fixing links, etc, etc... on the other hand, managing permissions can be a dicey affair, and hand-jamming permissions on the server to do what you want can screw up your FrontPage web (requiring reinstall cycles galore). GoDaddy's service attempts to stop the user from screwing up his FrontPage webs by not allowing you to hand-manage permissions on a FrontPage Extensions enabled hosting account...
BUT (the catch) if you're using Interdev or Visual Studio .NET, and you don't have FrontPage, you're out of luck! You need VS.NET to manage your ASPX files, and your code, etc, but you'll also need FrontPage Explorer (ONLY comes with FrontPage, mind you) to manage your directory permissions. Almost enough to make you want to become a php developer instead.

February 25, 2005

Welcome Googlebot! Since I moved the site off of Tripod, I've been waiting for the Google bots to pick up the new site address and start re-indexing my site. Looking at my logs today it appears that Google's bots are busily analyzing my site again - so, welcome robots ;)
Check your variable names: I was coding some ASP to track sessions to see how people surfed through my site (or if they even did) and I used a Session variable to store some information. In the Global.asa file under Session_OnEnd I put in some code and it wasn't working. I left it alone last night and came back to it later today. It turns out that I used different variable names to store the data than to retrieve the data. Same 'contextual' name, just stated in a different manner. So, lesson for the day is 'check your variable names'.
In other news, know that the Response.Redirect directive stops processing your ASP code right then and there, so if there's any code that needs to execute, it needs to be executed before the Redirect. I had incorrectly assumed that Response.Redirect would just write out a redirect to the user, and continue processing the asp file, but I learned that it doesn't when I tried to do a Session.Abandon afterwards, and the Sessions weren't closing out on the server.

February 24, 2005

Clicks for the sake of Clicks? The more I look at all of the referral programs, the more I am drawn into the referral programs that offer 10,000 and 15,000 free hits just for signing up. To whet my appetite I joined one that promised 10,000 free hits - Raginhits, it's called. When you sign up and add your URL, you can apply your free hits right away and start getting traffic to your site - you can even choose only 'manual clicks'. Hrmmmm, wait a minute? They have an auto-clicking option? You can earn credits just by leaving a browser open cycling through sites automatically? What's the quality of those clicks? I might as well buy time on Cable TV at 3:30AM, on the TV Guide channel, no less. More people might pay attention to that than to a browser they just left open for the sake of it?
Quickly, I assigned my credits to manual mode surfers only. Perhaps one will stop by my site and like it enough to stick around. Don't know if I'm going to sit and earn credits there, though. Most every site I get sent to is yet ANOTHER click-for-credit/cash site. So, I don't think my time is well spent.
The one thing I've enjoyed so far about BlogExplosion and BlogClicker is that it feels more community oriented. I read about other people's lives, and they come here and read my random nonsense. I've even personally connected with a few of them by email. It's pleasant, and it's what I wanted out of my blog - personal contact - not impersonal advertising hype. If you have a blog, I'd suggest these latter two programs (links on the left under Thanks...). Talk at you later.

February 23, 2005

Home to some of the most useful software on the planet - and it's free, no less - Sysinternals Freeware is for the System Administrator that has almost everything. Their newest release is a rootkit detector for Windows. It will find hidden registry keys and files that may provide the hiding locale for hidden bugs on your system. A rootkit is installed software that hides from virus scanners and the like, and gives administrative control (root in Unix terms) to the programs it's running. The 'kit' means that it's a utility with multiple skills, and is installed all at once by hackers to attempt to take over your machine and hide itself from detection. My favorite software they distribute, however, is Process Explorer - it lets you get into the nitty gritty's of the processes running on your machine, and can help you debug some of the nastiest problems if you know what to look for. I highly recommend this site.
You know - the moon is an ugly thing when viewed close up. I took this picture at 1/1250 shutter with a 300mm tele (off-hand) - F/5.6 with the camera set to ISO 400 - cropped out all the black sky to make the photo 640x480. (Click for full size)
Moon picture
I'm going to turn on Blogger's Comments method and get rid of the Doodle Board - I think it'll be better for discussion of specific topics (wishful thinking on my part). As always, this blog is under constant construction.
Printer Cartridge Scams: Normally when you hear the word 'scam' mentioned, you figure there's got to be a con artist somewhere in sight. You don't normally expect to hear this word used in association with a big corporation like Hewlett-Packard. But this is exactly the word being used on the web today by people who are pissed off about some of the business practices of HP. Besides the Yahoo article mentioning the lawsuit, more pages are showing up on this thread at Slashdot. Some of the articles as old as 2001. I guess that the practice of expiring inkjet cartridges isn't news after all. Well, in the sense of it being 'new', anyway. The lawsuit may just cause some changes to come about, but it may take a while. Some of those articles are good reading, like the one that talks about how different cartridges can be used in different printers with a little bit of hacking, to maximize your bang for the buck when buying ink.
As consumers, what we'd like is for someone to come out with an inkjet printer that welcomes refills. It could come with an interchangeable print cartridge and a cleaning kit that would help you keep it in optimum working condition. You could buy the refillable ink, and soak the cartridge overnight to help clear up any clogs in the ink delivery.
Sooner or later, your cartridge is going to clog though, so I understand at least part of what HP is trying to do in expiring their cartridges. But we are a nation, nay a world, of penny pinchers. The freedom to use something until its dying breath is something we hold dear. Imagine being told that your car is no longer usable after 150,000 miles. For many, that seems quite reasonable. But to the guy on the bridge trying to get to work late at 9:30AM Monday, as his odometer rolls over? It's a different story. Folks, this should be an engineering principle. Never design something that forces the consumer to take an action that would deny them the freedom to ignore your 'suggestion'. After all, when's the last time you changed your oil at the 3,000 mile mark?

February 22, 2005

Some time ago, I gave up my inkjet printer for a personal laser printer. I had gone to purchase some ink cartridges, and went home with the laser printer because buying a new printer was cheaper than buying the ink for the older printer. (I paid $99 for it) Competition is certainly needed in the ink cartridge business to bring prices down to a reasonable level. Either that, or the companies that design the printers need to make them refillable out of the box -
Ok, that's never going to happen! The company that does that will be cutting off its nose to spite its future profits, after all...Of course, they could go in the complete opposite direction and purposefully force you to purchase their ink cartridges to continue using their printer. But would they? According to: Yahoo! News - Lawsuit Says HP Printer Cartridges Die Before Use a woman is suing HP because, as she claims, the cartridges for her printer "expire on a certain date, in some cases rendering them useless before they are even installed in a printer". Now that's certainly one way to ensure future profit! I wonder what dumb, stupid, ignorant, son of a bitch thought up that one - and how soon he/she'll be fired.
Seriously, though, this is definitely an area where consumers need to force manufacturers to get in step with our needs. Hell, it's cheaper to buy a new printer FOR FREE!!!! from Tiger Direct after rebate than it is to refill the printer cartridges in your old one. How silly is it that we manufacture throw-away electronics? They're not only giving them away, but they have been for years! My first color printer was a free-after-rebate deal from CompUSA. Come on, people, there has got to be some economic common sense applied here. The economy isn't going to get better if we manufacture goods, ship them, support them, etc... and make no money doing it. And why? To make sure that you have to come back for more ink? Well, if your company gave me a printer for free, why wouldn't the other company give me a printer for free when yours runs out of ink? Don't you think that somewhere down the line someone's going to figure it all out? Why are we all so collectively stupid?
Meme of the Day: Shirt Folding - Just found a link to this shirt-folding video on the blog-verse (sorry, forgot which blog) - It's a really cool way to quickly fold your shirts so that they look neat and it's fast - really fast. I can only imagine that this might be a training video for some factory where they have professional shirt folders who do this all day long. In any case, if you ever have to fold laundry and want to shave off a few seconds, you should watch the video a few times and take heed.

February 21, 2005

I remember being introduced to the library in our grammar school when I was a child. I remember it because I wanted to read all of those books. Growing up, as a teen, I thought to myself that the perfect life would be to be able to live in a library, to have the chance to just read and read and read the combined knowledge of man. I've even extended that dream into one where I own a used book store.
The Internet is like a library on LSD. You can read the writings of others, in real time, indexed or not (through Google or Yahoo, for example), and you can get lost in it. The only problem with this is that the web is becoming more and more self-referential. Don't get me wrong - I have nothing against the authors who have commented on the blogging phenomenon. But so much has been said about blogging - so many products and ideas support the phenomenon, that it's all becoming rather self-serving. There's programs where you can visit others blogs in return for having them visit your blog. There's comment software that allows you to obtain comments on your blog so that others can post comments and have links back to their blog, and so on and so on.
One thing that is the same as that visit to the library is the sense of over-abundance. There are simply too many books in a library or book store to be able to read them all in a lifetime. And there are simply too many programs and links on the Internet to follow them all. Too Much Information is more than just a witty saying; it is more a fact of life now. We are bombarded with media, opinions, left and right political agendas, self-referential writers patting themselves on the back, or media making fun of how liberal the media is!
Since I write a blog, I have been thinking, just what should my focus be? How should I concentrate my own writings on topics that are important to me, without getting caught up in the linking, referring, and cross-linking to other links that will lead you to other blogs, that will eventually lead you back here. Am I doing you a favor, or am I overloading you with information. Today, I signed up for several programs in the Blogverse - Blogazoo and Blogshares. As I thought of adding their links over in my 'Thanks' column, I visited other blogs through their links. I came across some that had reference/program links all over their page. And for every inch they had given up, their content was that much smaller. You have to content king? If so, how much advertising is enough? Certainly there are bloggers out there who have overdone it. And do I really care if you visit my blog? After all, isn't just one of my hobbies?
Questions lead to more questions. Trying to find answers to all of this will drive me to read more. That reading will lead to more questions, and so on....welcome to my library. Good luck escaping.