Sunday, May 30, 2004

Movie Night

Kristi & I went out to see "13 Going on 30," a nice little comedy starring Jennifer Garner of Alias fame. The reviews are right, the film is good enough, but you leave truly impressed by Jennifer's ability to act. In this case the role is as a 13 year old, and it doesn't guarantee she can act in more serious roles. But again, you cannot help but be impressed by her ability to capture the essence of this role. Bravo.

Then we came home and saw Welcome To Mooseport, a truly funny movie. As I was starting the DVD I wondered why we even rented it. After the fourth or fifth laugh-out-loud moment I was very happy we picked it up. For an evening of comedy around your own TV, this is recommended.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Archie, Jughead, Josie, and the gang

Recalling when my literary tastes were not so developed, but my enjoyment of simple stories was, this link to Archie Comics, whole comics, is welcome and enjoyable.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

TX reverses decision

Well, after a couple of newspaper articles, and many more blog entries, the state comptroller for Texas asked her general counsel to review the recent ruling to *not* give a nearby Unitarian Universalist church tax-exempt status. Yesterday, a reversal was announced.

Have any of you ever gone to a UU church? Years ago I went to a couple, one in West Lafayette, IN and another in Park Forest, IL. Very interesting. Both congregations I attended were very liberal, but more significantly the services were much closer to lectures on philosophy than to a traditional sermon.

Tidbits: Robert Fulghum is a UU minister and the Presidents Adams were UUs.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Oops. Sorry.

To all three of my readers, assuming I captured a couple new ones, I apologize. I have today gone back and edited out the vast majority of my pompous affectation, "Seems to me." Other than fixing this, posts remain the same.

Oh, reading this was painful. Please accept my apology.

Austin, TX

I spent this weekend, once again, in Austin. This is a town that specializes in the weird, the entertaining, the outdoor lifestyle, technology, and accepting others for who they are, or at least who they claim to be today. I love it there.

Follow this link to an interactive map of the downtown scene.

Design your website for readability

Design Eye for the Usability Guy

Jakob Neilsen, long-time usability expert for the web, undergoes a transformation as Design by Fire rewrites and redefines a recent Alertbox article.

I recommend reading this link for Jakob's original text and then look at the link above for ideas about transforming text to a modern look and feel.

Now I wish I had some more time to put all of this into practice myself.

Friday, May 21, 2004

I hope that computer was sanitized first

RFID Chips for VIPs

I predict some sects to call this the first evidence of "The Mark of the Beast."

How long will it be until someone starts a business signing up clubs and clubbers to "HipChip: the hottest ticket in town;" all with discounts, passes, and automatic debiting of your account?

Real world economics in an unreal world

Game Theories

I find this fascinating. The concept of turning time spent in a virtual environment into real money. I have a friend, let's call him Curtis, who has made thousands of dollars (more than $20k) from selling online currencies. Recently, Curtis taught his wife how to run a macro program on a spare computer while he was at work. So, every couple hours she checked on the program, sold the currency to an online broker and was making a couple hundred dollars a week.

What is also fascinating is how top money people in games have developed a very strong system of time/money management. Just ask Curtis and he can tell you "At level 60+, I make more platinum an hour if I do X and Y. It is not cost effective for me to take 10 minutes to go do task A or B because I lose more platinum than it costs to buy ..." And so on.

If I could figure out how to capture the energy these players put into the game, and direct it towards an endeavor in the non-virtual world I would almost be guaranteed of success. Just look at their actions! Many (most?) of these top-tier players have taken the time to determine what specialized skills need to be mastered, what skills need to be understood generally, what the best tools are for each task they perform, what the market for their goods or services is, and how the overall marketplace works.

Or, you could get paid to just play the game. link

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Everyday matters

and every day matters, too.

I love the sudden changes you get from seeing a new blog. It kills my time, but I get sucked into and find a bit of sunshine or a smile finds me. This is quite unlike when I get sucked into a game of GNU Backgammon or Freecell as I sit alone in my office late at night.

Maybe it is that, the aloneness when reading a good blog isn't there like the solitary game. It's not there because the author is sharing of him/herself and I get a little glimmer into their lives.

Today's sprinkle of joy came from the artwork of and glimpse into Danny Gregory. Recommended.

"Nay, he doth say else..."

Democracy & government

Our problems with government aren't all that new. Which of course leads us question how we got here again and what it will take to get out...

Mapmaker, mapmaker, make me a map.

I have no need to make maps, but at this program I wish I had a reason to make a map. Very cool, and recommended by both Jerry Pournelle and Joseph Merkling.

Monday, May 17, 2004

Iron John conquers Japan

Sony and the search for Qualia

Robert Bly had some things right; namely individuals need an event to mark points of transition in our lives and this event is in part traditional. Of course, Iron John didn't work for me, in large part because the proof of his argument was in poetry he had written previously.

Now comes Ken Mogi with the above article on Qualia. I hadn't read more than the merest tidbit and I had flashbacks from Iron John. Truly I did. And all of this as an introduction to Sony's newest line of very high priced goods.
Via ShinyShiny

Strong and brittle make for a dangerous container

Bush's Strength... Is Also a Weakness

Mr. Sullivan hit this nail on the head. "The trouble with hatred is that it blinds you. And Bush-hatred is particularly obfuscatory."

Of couse, what he misses, is the second nail. The blind adulation of GW, when it is obvious he and his administration have made a number of mis-steps. I understand the cry for Air America, but what I really want is more debate by caring people who want what is right for their community, country, and planet, while acknowledging the other sides of the discussion have valid points and want the same general things. Surely there are more than a few of us out there?

It takes a village

Teen pregnancy rates

I've been hear quite a bit about Brown v Board of Education lately. And the truest thing I've heard was said on NPR this morning. It went something along the lines of "segregation was not the evil, but a manifestation of evil."

Brown v Board of Ed allowed some to escape a definite problem, but long-term success does not come from desegregation. Rather, it comes from having a chance to succeed in a community (parents, educators, facilities, etc.) that allows and encourages achievement.

I think the same is true for the still startling numbers of teen pregnancy. I applaud the work of all who have toiled to make improvements over the last decade, but obviously the fight in both these areas, and so many more, is not over.

Sell the king size bed, buy a double

Childless couple told to try sex

This couple could not be all that religious. Song of Solomon, the 22nd book in the Old Testament gives plenty of pointers which might lead the good couple into a loving embrace.

Old times

Palatine High School: Class of 1984

Folks who remain friends from childhood into adulthood, or those stay in touch with their friends from the past, should be honored. I don't stay in touch with many of my high school friends myself--and cannot imagine going to this reunion--but I wish the rest of you a good trip down memory lane.

Friday, May 14, 2004

Makes the World Go Round

Sweetheart Report

Seems to me, "all we need is love." And if you're searching, this, most unlikeliest of places, the internet, has some advice that would work. Read it, Try it, Like it. Really.

Lying Liars

Nielsen Rating System At Odds With RIAA's Claim Of "Lost Sales

If entity A owns Something (let's say, oh, I don't know, a song) and entity B wants a copy of the Something, it is fair for A to ask for and receive compensation from B. This is a transaction and shouldn't be all that difficult.

I think the same is true if the Something is a computer program, or article, book, or .... Information may want to be free, but information creators have the right to expect compensation for their work when it is consumed.

From all of this, you would think I would support the RIAA when it hunts down children who have illegally downloaded songs. Unfortunately, they, like Josh McDowell, are willing to play with damn lies (statistics) to suit their own purpose.

Forget the confusing percentages, here's an oversimplified example: I shipped 1000 units last year and sold 700 of them. This year I sold 770 units but shipped only 930 units. I shipped 10% less units this year. And this is what the RIAA wants the public to accept as "a loss."

While I appreciate numbers and statistics, using them to support a lie should be punishable. Maybe not a criminal offense, but at the least it should be a civil offense and one for which I can extract a change in behavior and a public apology, broadcast large.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Outsourcing, it's not just for high tech anymore

Contracting Out Our Government

Marylaine Block writes about the trend to outsourcing primary functions of government in an imitation of big business. This is part of a conversation that has never really caught our collective attention.

I think it is easy to get agreement on the idea it is dangerous to outsource prisoner interrogation, but I think the conversation needs to go further. The problem is not outsourcing, it is that we have had not good discussion about how much, how far, how long, and under what conditions we should outsource. With every government contract, we outsource a little more and the trend towards a virtual government becomes a graver danger every day.

It's the little things

Eats, Shoots & Leaves

The most interesting folks are those with a passion. If I was going to add a passion to my life, I think I would like to add the 'proper grammar' passion. Follow the link to a great excerpt from someone blinded by her passion.

Don't let this shrink in the wash

Sony launches the smallest PC of the world

Seems to me, this would be about a gazillion times better than a regular PDA. Maybe not that much better than a decent PDA-phone combo. But what do I know? I currently sport neither.

If only the fat lady would sing.

Opera releases Internet Browser Version 7.5

If you are one of those people who dislike Microsoft or just want to break away from the heard, try Opera.

Back when I using Opera, oh six or seven years ago, it was breaking the mold in a good way. Fully compliant with all standards, fast, easy use of multiple windows, etc. Now they have OperaMail, a newsreader, pop-up blocker, ...

Hey, does this sound like Google to anyone besides me?

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Discounts are good

SpinRite 6.0 is almost ready for release.

Steve Gibson of GRC is offering a limited-time only discount on the newest version of the classic product SpinRite. This update has been a long time coming and, like most of his products, well worth the money.

With the release of our next major advance in SpinRite - version 6.0 - the first-time purchaser retail price will remain at $89, [...]

This special reduced pricing will not be made widely known, and is intended primarily for those who are following/contributing to SpinRite's progress and who have been actively helping to test the product as it is being developed for final release. [...]

So, follow the link above, click on "News" and read about the program's progress. The snippet above comes from a posting on Wed, 10 Mar.

It was nice knowing ya

Ralph Nader sues Texas after failing to get required signatures

Seems to me, he knew the system was rigged against him in Texas long before he got there. Sure, it's a bum deal, but you gotta play the hand your dealt. He played. He lost. Now he's crying foul.

Damn shame I ever voted for him.


Rumsfeld Tells Congress Changes Needed to Increase Flexibility

Rumsfeld said the department is looking to establish a National Security Personnel System to give more flexibility in how DoD manages its 700,000-plus civilian personnel. "Today, because that task is difficult, we find frequently we use ... people in uniform for nonmilitary jobs because we can manage them much more readily," he said. "We use contractors rather than civilian employees, again because you can manage a contractor more efficiently."

Seems to me, everyone knew, and anyone could figure out, that the contractors in Iraq were running a bit more of the prison than good practice allows. This wasn't about management; this was about deniability.

Saturday, May 08, 2004


Condolences to the family of Janet Pittman. Born June 1, 1939. Died May 5, 2004. She was filled with a zest for life and love for a good story. And boy, did she ever love to tell them!

Janet's final months were painful, having been diagnosed with cancer. Especially nice for Janet was that her brother, Michael and his wife, Bonnie—two very dear and giving people—were with her during the last few days of her life. Janet died in the home of her daughter, Tracy who had been caretaker for Janet for much of the last year. My aunt was survived by her three daughters, Tracy, Jean, and Melinda. My father, Janet's brother Tony, flew down from Chicago and I flew down for the viewing and funeral.I have always held Tracy in the highest respect. While we all have our own form of dysfunctional families, few of us have to take on the adult role for the rest of our family while we are still children; Tracy did, and she did it well. 

Tracy, you have our love and appreciation for taking care of your mother. You are in our thoughts.