Wednesday, October 18, 2006

I'm helping a friend move from the upper-Midwest out to Oregon, and that means a long road trip. We decided to take a scenic route back, and yesterday we stopped at Mt. Rushmore in Wyoming. That was after driving in 40-50mph headwinds on an interstate at about 75mph. My truck does well on the road, but a combined 120 mile per hour head/crosswind is a bit of a pain, not only in terms of driving between the painted lines, but also on fuel.

Good thing fuel's cheap in South Dakota. In South Dakota they also have hotels with these water parks inside. You know, water slides and pools and stuff. We stayed at one the other night and had a blast. Felt like I was 10 again (which is especially weird when I look in the mirror).

At any rate, the real point is that we went to Mt. Rushmore yesterday afternoon. I'd never been there before. My friend Cory had been there (he says) like 25 times, because he has family down the highway and he lived nearby for a while. So I had a tour guide of sorts. We grabbed cameras and took some shots and walked the trail loop.

Mount Rushmore is an amazing work of art, demolition and commemoration all rolled up into one.

The flickr set including these pics (and some more) is here. The last one on the page was shot by Cory (who has quite an eye for pictures).

Rushmore1

Rushmore3

Rushmore2

Washington and Lincoln



Add/Read: Comments [2]
Personal Stories | Photography | Random Stuff
Wednesday, October 18, 2006 6:01:02 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Friday, October 13, 2006

Trees Changing in MontanaToday I drove half way to my destination in Minnesota. I saw a lot of amazing stuff and places, but since I am on a bit on a mission to get to my destination (and plan to take the leisurely route back), I didn't stop much.

The leaves are just now changing along the mountains of the Continental Divide in Montana and Idaho, so on the return trip the view should be pretty darn spectacular in that stretch.

We're likely to spend some time at Yellowstone. Never been there, always wanted to. And there are a bunch of other interesting places to go in these parts. Should be a fun week. No real plan, no set schedule, no real rules...

Especially the no set schedule part. Heh.

Nice. :)



Add/Read: Comments [3]
Personal Stories | Random Stuff
Friday, October 13, 2006 7:22:49 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Thursday, October 12, 2006

Well, I have about 2,000 miles ahead of me (and I'm later getting started than I'd hoped due to a few unplanned items that came up in the past 24 hours), followed by a couple days hanging out in once place and then 2,000 miles back home.

This will be the first time I've had the opportunity to drive across the northern states out west, like Montana and North Dakota, so I am looking forward to it - and it's the perfect time of the year. I'll be doing the quick drive out and the scenic drive back.

So, blogging here will be light for the next week or so. Unless i get some great pics along the way, of course.



Add/Read: Comments [7]
Personal Stories | Random Stuff
Thursday, October 12, 2006 12:35:22 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Monday, October 09, 2006

Everyone and their brother's going nuts over the announcement this afternoon that Google is buying YouTube. I think we all knew it was coming, and yeah it's a big deal. What was really interesting to me was that I was about to do a between-flights phone interview (on an unrelated tech topic) with a national newspaper reporter (who shall remain nameless), when the interview was suddenly (and rightfully, heh) postponed due the the Google announcement (which had not been publicly made at that time, but I just happened to hear about it third-person before it was actually announced in public).

Anyhow, it's an interesting consolidation acquisition, especially since Google already has their Google Video (which I like), but adding YouTube (which is pretty awesome) does round things out very nicely, especially with the deals YouTube has recently made with some major media labels. How much did that jack up the value in the past couple days?

It's time for Microsoft to find a way to make some sort of serious, serious push on it's Soapbox offering. I have not uploaded any videos yet to my Soapbox profile, but I will soon in order to do some comparing. First thing for MS to do? Probably best to drop the blue color theme and get back to web UI basics. Also probably best to rethink the name. Seriously. I'm not kidding. Google Video makes it blatantly clear what you're using and it's easy to remember. YouTube is a household name and I know what I am doing based on the name, as well. And to be honest, each time I wanted to write something about Soapbox on MSN, I had to go back to my email and search to figure out what the service was called. That's not exactly memorable, or usable.

Actually, truth be told I'm on the fence on the color thing. But the standard, proven blue-text-on-white-background model is safe, expected and generally accepted - and that might just be a good thing right about now.


Add/Read: Comments [2]
Random Stuff | Tech
Monday, October 09, 2006 6:31:32 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Sunday, October 08, 2006

So, clearification.com is now active online. Looks like a Windows Vista viral marketing piece for... well... I dunno what the heck this actually is. It's random, for sure. Not exactly, well, clear.

But hey, it made me watch and I'm typing this, so yeah - it's viral, all right.

Heh, it's funny. I'm really not sure what demographic this is supposed to play to. Maybe kids or young adults. Or people who step in dog poop. Trust me on that one.

An RSS feed is available, and there are "webisodes" being posted periodically. The first one is already up. It's funny. Again, I have no idea what this has to do with Vista, but hey - it's funny. Or at least weird. And stuff.

Here it is:

YouTube? Huh?? Hmm. Heh.



Add/Read: Comments [0]
Geek Out | Random Stuff
Sunday, October 08, 2006 7:54:17 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Thursday, October 05, 2006

Vista_logoWell, honestly, it's about time.

Bloggers are all over the story, and are espousing a variety of opinions, but I have wondered for years when Microsoft would finally crack down on software thieves and simply not allow their software to run unless it was legitimately licensed. I'm responsible for cutting a big check each year to Microsoft to pay for the software we use at the company I work at. It costs me more, in effect, because others are taking without paying.

So, Windows Vista will detect piracy and take action. In Microsoft's words:

"Collectively termed the Microsoft Software Protection Platform, the new technologies will introduce improvements in how Microsoft software activates, is validated online and behaves when tampering or hacking is detected."

Thinking about this from a security guy's perspective, one thing bothers me: Turning off the anti-malware capabilities on unlicensed copies? Are you kidding me? That means the rest of the world falls victim to everyone out there that's running pirated Windows? Please, please, please change this one - Microsoft might be a victim, but no need to invite the rest of the world into that club. And it looks like Richi Jennings agrees with me on that one. That's just poor prioritization. Hopefully someone will rethink the approach in that specific area...

Elsewhere, Ed Bott at ZDNet has written a very good piece describing the changes and his thoughts on the matter. He has some important point, ones that Microsoft should make sure they have thought completely through and have a plan for - especially where it comes to Volume License customers. Those are the people you don't want to aggravate, for sure.

Among Bott's comments:

Microsoft denies that this is a "kill switch" for Windows Vista, even giving it a separate question and answer in its mock interview announcing the program. Technically, they're right, I suppose. Switching a PC into a degraded functionality where all you can do is browse the Internet doesn't kill it; but it's arguably a near-death experience. The accompanying white paper describes the experience in more detail:

By choosing "Access your computer with reduced functionality," the default Web browser will be started and the user will be presented with an option to purchase a new product key. There is no start menu, no desktop icons, and the desktop background is changed to black. The Web browser will fully function and Internet connectivity will not be blocked. After one hour, the system will log the user out without warning. It will not shut down the machine, and the user can log back in. Note: This is different from the Windows XP RFM experience, which limits screen resolution, colors, sounds and other features. [emphasis added]

My head practically exploded when I read this sentence describing the new, improved punishment regimen: "Windows Vista will have a reduced functionality mode but one that is enhanced." Enhanced reduced functionality? Orwell would be proud.

Snarky as ever, Engadget reports:

Well, Microsoft has fired the first salvo in this war on pirates -- according to The Associated Press, the Redmond crew will be taking "much harsher steps to curtail piracy" than in years past. First, the company will "deny access" to some of the "most anticipated features," including Windows Aero, the new GUI. Then, Vista will start issuing ransom demands (we're not kidding about this part), demanding that a legitimate copy be bought within 30 days, or else. What would such consequences entail? How about limiting Web access to an hour at a time? Further, what about not being able to open documents from the desktop or "run other programs such as Outlook e-mail software" ? However, the article goes on to say: "Microsoft said it won't stop a computer running pirated Vista software from working completely, and it will continue to deliver critical security updates." So for those of you keeping score, Microsoft wants to make using your computer as miserable as possible, while keeping it as "safe" as possible, ok?

People out there will whine and complain and say it's not fair, that it's all a bunch of red tape and people will be inconvenienced (and they might be right about that one point), and a million other things that go along with the typical victim mentality (sorry guys, but possession of stolen goods is illegal, even if it's inconvenient, and possessing stolen stuff unknowingly doesn't make the goods any less stolen). And Microsoft needs to make sure that legitimate users are not impacted in a truly meaningful and workable way. But the fact of the matter is that Microsoft is right on this one. In fact, it seems to me that if I ran a company that created software for use by consumers and businesses, and if I wanted to make sure it was being legitimately used and paid for, I'd just keep it from working at all if it was obviously stolen.

But the politics of huge-mega-corporation-attacked-by-angry-mob is a multi-billion-dollar business, apparently.

Glad to see they're finally doing something about it, though.

Some Techmeme-tracked discussion on the topic:

Technorati tags: , , , ,



Add/Read: Comments [8]
IT Security | Safe Computing | Tech | Things that Suck
Thursday, October 05, 2006 6:51:25 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#