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 Saturday, 22 May 2004

Scott built himself a couple of nifty calendar views to extend dasBlog ther other day - Monthly and yearly views. Cool stuff, check it out if you're a dasBlogger, especially if you type a lot of blog entries and want to be able to visualize them differently than you can now. Scott hints that he'll make them generally available soon.

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Blogging | Tech
Saturday, 22 May 2004 16:45:44 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
 Wednesday, 19 May 2004

A friend and coworker of mine, Scott Hanselman, trapped me into lunch today as I was walking through the cafeteria. Well, okay, he didn't exactly trap me, he just waived me over and invited me to sit down, but “trapped” sounds better. His wife, Mo, was there as well. Earlier Scott had asked me if I would help him duplicate some DVDs from their recent trip to Africa. He made the a comment about how his DVD burner had crapped out and died on him, and then made some reference to how he had to watch DVDs on his tablet “during that period in my life when my computer wasn't working.”

Now, I have often heard people classify their lives into convenient or descriptive apportionments, like “when I was married to my third wife” or “back when the kids were still at home,” etc.

But Scott's comment started me thinking. Life in the digital age is - at least in my own experience and my observation of others - fairly consuming. Everything I do seems to have some kind of connection - either direct or not - to computers or other electronic devices and information. From the perspective of the hindsight-oriented crowd, it's a wonder the world functioned at all without all this technology. While I constantly find myself ready to hurl my Blackberry device off a cliff, I would not be able to function as effectively without it. Or at least it seems that way.

We've become a world of digitally-leashed animals, for better or for worse. Some have started to describe our lives in terms of “bandwidth” and available “cycles” when talking about how much time we have (or don't have), and for many of us, the idea of giving up our cell phones and email, while probably a welcome and wishful thought, in reality causes us to feel anxious. After all, how in the world could we possibly function?

Our interrupt-driven lifestyles may be the end of us. I wonder how long it will be before the average human lifespan in technologically-advanced countries actually starts to drop as a result of the stress of technology? Certainly technology has improved our collective quality of life to a degree, but at what point does the world start rotating backward? Lends a whole new definition to “mean time before failure,” doesn't it?

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Wednesday, 19 May 2004 17:10:41 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
 Tuesday, 18 May 2004

Every blog needs the obligatory picture of a cute puppy, and/or pet pictures. Here's mine.

He actually slept last night without crying or howling (unless I slept through it, that is). That's a miracle in and of itself.

Still have not settled on a name, but I am leaning toward Deeohgee. ;-)

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Personal Stories | Random Stuff
Tuesday, 18 May 2004 17:48:19 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)

By way of

Because we have a moral duty to protect the ignorant people, please let your friends and family know about this important product recall:

Name of product: Martha Stewart Everyday® Safety Matches
Units: 588 boxes
Distributor: Kmart Corp., of Troy, Mich.
Hazard: These matches may ignite upon impact, posing a fire hazard to consumers.

Uhhhhhh - yeah??? And the problem is??? I thought everyone knew if you dropped a box of matches enough times, it will eventually catch on fire... I'm sure there's some clever Martha Stewart joke in this somewhere, too, but I'll just let you think of it.

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Humor | Random Stuff
Tuesday, 18 May 2004 16:24:58 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)

There are a few things, some of them admittedly old-skool, that I want my Blog to be able to do. I don’t imagine they’re all that complicated, but here they are:

  1. Allow people to sign up for email notifications when I add a new item or modify an existing one – Email alerts, so to speak. I can get alerts when people post comments or trackback or refer, etc. and I want to go the other way on a subscription basis.
  2. Similarly, allow someone – at the time they reply to a post – to choose whether or not they want to receive email notifications of any subsequent comments on the same post.
  3. Allow [CategoryName] in any post method’s subject line to auto-add to an existing category (which works in email-posting now, but don’t think it does in Movable Type API, etc.)
  4. Allow a post-classification and user-registration system so that people who are signed up can see all public and private posts, and people who are anonymous on the site only see the posts that are viewable by general public.

That’s actually about it. I may think of more later, but other than that, dasBlog does pretty much everything I want and need it to do.

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Tuesday, 18 May 2004 16:01:46 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)

Over a week ago my (new) cat escaped out of the house when a door blew open. She disappeared. For a couple of days, I could hear her off in the woods meowing and stuff, and a couple of times when I called she came sort of close, but never stuck around.

She's definitely a 'fraidy-cat.

Anyhow, after a week of not seeing or hearing the cat, I had to assume she was coyote dinner. I mean, she was pretty small and young, so death by dinner seemed the only option.

Wrong. Kat's still out there, still meowing.

And apparently eating well, from the looks of her. I have no idea what she's eating (mice and/or rats I hope), but it's keeping her healthy.

I tried to catch her and bring her in, but she jumped and ran when I tried. Hey, fine with me.

Anyhow, Kat Lives. Kind of reminds me of those Darth Vader Lives pins when I was in grade school (yeah, yeah, no old people jokes), only different.

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Personal Stories | Random Stuff
Tuesday, 18 May 2004 08:24:49 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
 Monday, 17 May 2004

I can hardly believe the email I got today. This just doesn't happen...

You may recall I just signed up for Vonage's Internet telephone service. It's cool.

And this email just arrived:

Hello Greg,

We are very excited to inform you that your monthly phone bill is going DOWN! Our price on the Residential Premium Unlimited Plan has been dropped AGAIN!

The base price of the Residential Premium Unlimited Plan will drop from $34.99 to $29.99 as of your first billing cycle on or after May 17, 2004.

There is no need to contact customer care - you will automatically receive the 14% monthly savings. The new, lower price plan will be reflected in your next billing cycle.

By adding 150,000 customers to our network, Vonage has cemented its lead in the industry. As a reflection of our commitment to our customers, we would like to reward you by passing the operational efficiency and cost-savings we've achieved through our success directly back to you.

Again, thank you for your continued support and loyalty. Without you, we would not have been able to pass this significant savings along. If you have any questions, please email us at with the words "Price Change" in the subject line.

Rich Gale
Vonage Customer Care



Wow. You just don't ever see anything like that anymore. A price reduction?? I don't know what to say.

So far I've enjoyed using the soft-phone so far on my laptop (talk about nifty), and am waiting for the IP phone broadband connector device bridge thingie device to show up on my doorstep still, so have not been able to use a real phone on it, but will be sure to post a review once I get a chance to use it for a while.

Anyhow... Wow.


I just noticed - if you want to sign up for Vonage service, they have a referral program where I can send you an invitation and you'll get the first month free, and I'll get an equal service credit - good for everyone! Just email me here: Send mail to the author(s) and I will send you the invite - be sure to send your name and the email address you want the invite to go to.

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Random Stuff | Tech
Monday, 17 May 2004 14:30:01 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)

New addition to the household that can't stand being away from people for more than ten seconds. Loud, funny, and - dare I use the word - cute. But hey, it's a puppy, so cute's ok. For now.

Buddy (my dog I've had for years) and he get along great. No, he does not have a name yet. Maybe I'll take suggestions at some point. Pics to be posted later.

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AudioBlogging | Personal Stories | Random Stuff
Monday, 17 May 2004 08:55:39 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
 Sunday, 16 May 2004

(OT comment fodder: What's the main difference between Superman and every other good-guy super hero?)

On TV you only get 30 or 60 seconds. On the web you get as much time as you can get people to give you - they call then “webisodes.”

American Express teamed up Jerry Seinfeld and Superman. If you have a few minutes, it's pretty amusing and fun. Seinfeld's not Batman, or The Flash, and he's not going to team up with The Man of Steel to save the world. But they might sell some credit cards, and I laughed.

NOTE: American Express has removed the content from their servers, but you can still see the webisodes over at Unplugged Studios, the creators of the Jerry and Superman films. It's a little tricky now because their site is Flash-based, so here are my convoluted navigation directions:

  • Go to
  • Enter their flash site
  • Look at the bottom for the American Express link.
  • Click on that link and use the menu on the right to choose the "Watch" options. From there you can watch all four episodes.

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Humor | Random Stuff
Sunday, 16 May 2004 22:45:53 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
 Saturday, 15 May 2004

I saw “Man on Fire” today with friends. Not too bad. Not great, but all-in-all it was a fun and edgy film worth seeing.

Denzel Washington does what he seems to do best: He plays a completely controlled man whose life is otherwise out of control. He's holding his life together by sheer willpower, as they say. All that's dramatically offset (or complemented, depending on how you look at it) by the fact that he's clearly an alcoholic with a difficult past (more of what he can't seem to control), and a real desire to stop living his life. It's not necessarily that he wants to die, but you do get the impression he's not really interested in living his life anymore.

So, in true modern-American studio-produced film fashion, a strong-willed child enters his life (can you say Sixth Sense?) and changes the man - for the better, of course.

Washington plays a former assassin, we assume for the CIA or similar, who goes to Mexico to visit a friend and former killer/co-worker. He takes a job as a bodyguard for a little girl whose parents make her a target for kidnapping by a band of organized criminals and corrupt police officials.

Knowing that, you can probably guess the key plot lines in this film, and you'd be right. But after all, how many times can movie makers create films like this one and come up with something new? This film is done over and over again, in one script or another, so there's nothing really earth-shattering here.

Still, it is a fun film, and the camera work and post-production editing is pretty effective, so it stands out for those reasons. There's a lot of character development going on, at least in the beginning, and that's kind of unusual for this type of film. But ultimately it becomes a violent killing spree movie, with blood and vengeance typical of the angry-tired-burned-out-guy-pushed-over-the-edge film genre. So, depending on who you are you'll either love or hate the second half of the film. Luckily, much of the violence takes place just off camera, but you still see the spattered blood and hear the screams.

I especially enjoyed the confrontations between Washington's characters and the bad guys. The scene where Washington's character extracts information from the first in a series of criminal thugs was great, as was the  same scene played out a few characters later under the overpass (pretty crappy way to die).

The occasional fade-in subtitles when people were speaking Spanish were great, until they started applying subtitles to spoken English (with subtitles also in English, duh). When the subtitles went from practical and useful translation to artsy-fartsy subtitles-for-emphasis, it got a little weird for me.

Denzel Washington can carry pretty much any character (man, has he made a lot of movies recently), and he certainly has to in this film, which lasts somewhere around two and a half hours. It didn't seem that long though. The young actress who played the little girl in the film (Dakota Fanning) also carried a lot of the weight, even when on the screen with Washington, which is really saying something.

For people who enjoy a good action film with a decent story and can handle the mad-revenge kind of violence, this one is worth seeing. If you don't have the stomach for a killing spree, ya better stay home.

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Saturday, 15 May 2004 23:57:06 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)

A little while back, I blogged about technologies that have been around for a while that I had not yet “made the leap” into. As is usually the case, once I make a list, I tend to act on it (I should probably make more lists :-)). Here's an update on my previous post.

  • MP3 Players - Still checking these out, not sure it's where I want to go. I am thinking some of the upcoming multimedia devices might be a better option for me. Maybe. We'll see.
  • IP Telephones - I made the leap and signed up for Vonage. I even downloaded a soft-phone, which is a program that runs on my computer and acts just like a regular phone (well, pretty much like one). So I can use the soft-phone anywhere I go on my laptop, or the real phone at home. Cool stuff.
  • Picture/Audio/Video Blogging - I've made the leap here in the area of blogging with audio using, which is a coolio service that works great and has a nifty feature set. Pictures and video might be in the future, but since I am already a little self-conscious about posting my voice, we'll see.
  • Windows XP Media Center PC - Have not gone there yet, and probably won't until I get a better idea of what's available. I have some relatively picky requirements for home, since I want to do multi-room and feed into my home theater system, etc. Microsoft is going to be releasing lots of new stuff for XP Media Center edition that will meet my needs I think, including devices that may turn out to be better than a plain-old MP3 player (as mentioned above).

Weird that I'm totally geeky in certain areas (I have a freakin' GPS device in my car that I can speak commands to, and it speaks back to me and shows me the maps and stuff, for gosh sake - freaks people out when they use it). I guess these days our areas of geekdom have to be limited to what's important to each of us as individuals. There's just too much geek-fodder out there to do it all.

But I'll try. ;-)

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Random Stuff | Tech | Windows Media Technology
Saturday, 15 May 2004 13:47:43 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
 Friday, 14 May 2004 reports that later this month, Microsoft will release the new spam filter for Exchange 2003, as well as Service Pack One and the first Feature Pack.

Nice that they are separating the fixes (service pack) from the feature enhancements. Notable among the feature enhancements for me are the improved/new admin tools and the RPC-over-HTTP setup tools. Nice.

Speaking of which... If you have not yet enabled RPC over HTTP, let me tell you - it's very nice to be able to connect to the Exchange server securely over the Internet. It's also a bit complicated to set up (involves some registry editing, client software patch download, and a good understanding of the vague), and has not been all that well documented. However, there is a recently-published technical article at the Microsoft Download Center called “Exchange Server 2003 RPC over HTTP Deployment Scenarios” that covers the setup on both the server and client sides. Read carefully and follow every step, and it will work. Note also the system and network requirements. They are not optional. You'll need to have a compatible environment for this to work.

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Friday, 14 May 2004 23:07:16 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)

Okay so here's a question for ya:

RSS - what does it stand for?

I've always seen it referred to as Really Simple Syndication, like they say here. But I've found others (although not recently) referring to it as Rich Site Summary.

So, which is it? I know the original RSS format, a Netscape thing intended to assist in building news portals and delivering content, eventually grew and branched into differing “standards.” Is that where the terms split maybe?


  • in "RSS 0.91" it stands for "Rich Site Summary"
  • in "RSS 1.0" it stands for "RDF Site Summary"
  • in "RSS 2.0" it stands for "Really Simple Syndication"

So much for “standards.” :-)

Not like it matters, really - but I was just wondering.

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Random Stuff | RSS Stuff | Tech
Friday, 14 May 2004 21:37:46 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)

Since I am plugging security-related stuff today:

“Join Mike Nash, Microsoft's senior executive in charge of security, for his monthly security update. This month, learn more about Authentication, Authorization and Access Management. Mike's guests will talk about the Microsoft Identity and Access Management Series and Public Key Infrastructure and how each can be used in corporate environments to enhance security and reduce costs. In addition, Mike will report on the latest details of what Microsoft is doing across the company to improve security through guidance, tools, training and technology.”

Signup: Register Online
Date: Tuesday, May 18, 2004
Time: 8:30AM-9:30AM Pacific Time (GMT-8, US & Canada)

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IT Security | Tech
Friday, 14 May 2004 11:28:55 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)

Microsoft's new TechNet Radio audio show is an informative way to learn about IT. Their first bradcast is called “IT Security at Microsoft,” and it covers a lot of ground. Worth the listen!

Learning about how other companies deal with network and information security, especially big ones like Microsoft, is a valuable exercise in developing your own IT security strategy. Microsoft has over 300,000 network devices, and more than 50,000 employees. They are pretty free-form in terms of allowing their employees to install software as needed, run beta and “dogfood” software in production, and have some interesting ways of dealing with the environment. Microsoft's similar to where I work in terms of culture and whatnot. I've had the opportunity to visit Redmend and to talk with people there on a regualr basis, but even so this broadcast was useful and made me think.

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IT Security | Tech
Friday, 14 May 2004 10:52:16 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)