Thursday, 22 July 2004

If you have a need to do XHTML validation of web pages and find yourself doing it manually and probably not often enough, check this out: Ben Hammersley has built a XHTML validation tool that generates its results into an RSS feed, from any page you specify. The test runs each time you load the feed into your favorite RSS reader, so it's all-too-easy to repeat, which is nice.

"The validation is redone everytime the feed is requested. If there are no errors, the feed will be empty. Silence is golden, in other words."

Check it out - and start validating - here.

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RSS Stuff | Tech
Thursday, 22 July 2004 10:31:32 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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I've had two sets of epidural spinal injections to try to fix my back, and while I have had some relief, it's not solved the problem.

So, I went to the doctor the other day, and he decided its time to send me to the spinal surgeon. I guess there are a few procedure options - one of which involves heating up the intervertebral disc from the inside in order to cause it to shrink. The heated tissue scars and shrinks, so the protruding (herniated) part of the disc (which is pushing on the nerve roots where they attach to the spinal cord) recedes. The disc has a soft inner portion surrounded by a more fibrous shell, so to speak. A herniated disc is one where the fibrous shell gets torn and the center material bulges out. The bulging out part is what's pushing on the nerves. Oh, and it hurts (sometimes a lot).

Anyhow, the doctor that does this special heating/shrinking procedure (the more common procedure is a microdiscectomy, where they just go in with blades and cut out the bulging part) is in Salem, which is a good couple of hours from where I live. I guess there are a few docs in Portland that do something similar, but my doc wants me to go to this guy because its a newer procedure that heals faster and has shown good results (less scarring damage to the disc - it's more exact). So arranging visits and working with that doc will be a little complicated, and I don't even know for sure if I'll end up being a candidate for that particular method. But if it means pain relief, it's all good.

The craziest part of this problem is that most days I am uncomfortable - some pain but not unbearable. Other days (few and far between) I feel almost completely normal (I love those days). And on yet other days the pain is so unbearable it can't be described with words. Debilitating comes to mind, but that doesn't really paint the complete picture.

Anyone have any personal experience with any of these?

  • Intradiscal Electrothermal Treatment
  • Endoscopic laser foraminoplasty (ELF)
  • Percutaneous discectomy (PAD)

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Kineflex Artificial Disc Surgery | Personal Stories
Thursday, 22 July 2004 09:39:30 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Wednesday, 21 July 2004

The Channel 9 crew has been interviewing employees in Microsoft Research. In a video interview with employees of the VIBE group, we get to see some of the plans and prototypes in actual use in the area of future display screens and mechanisms. They're doing cool things with great big displays and multiple monitors. The dragging demo and the Group Bar demo are pretty darn nifty stuff. "Rehydrating" groups of programs I used sometime before - wow, very cool!

The Channel 9 videos provide a level of detail and flavor you'll get nowhere else: Straight from the mouths of the people working on the projects, you can find out about some of the up-and-coming inside stuff.

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Wednesday, 21 July 2004 19:45:36 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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With a small amount of education and a healthy dose of common sense, anyone can safely use the Internet for purchasing and banking online. Plus, if you're not already doing so, if you're one of those people who says you 'just won't do it,' you're making a big mistake. Online banking bill-pay done carefully can make your financial world much more secure, simpler and more efficient. And "careful" is a pretty easy threshold to reach with some basic knowledge.

Do you know what "Phishing" is? You should, if you want to safeguard your private information. Do you know the basics of online transactions and how to make sure you're banking and shopping safely? You can learn what you need to know in just a few minutes.

Here's a resource (a pretty good one) aimed at making people smart online banking and shopping consumers:

Microsoft: Preventing Online Fraud

Check it out, and do yourself the favor of some self-education with resources like this one. I've done practically all my banking and bills online for four-plus years, without a single problem. You just have to know how to be safe, and it's not complicated to do. 

Avoiding online commerce simply because someone you know told you it's "bad" is nothing more than a valuable opportunity down the drain. You had to learn the basics of vehicle safety when you learned to drive - What if someone had told you that driving was dangerous and should be avoided at all costs, and you had believed them?

Don't miss the boat. Just be sure to take a life jacket with you.

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Random Stuff | Tech
Wednesday, 21 July 2004 19:20:53 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Tuesday, 20 July 2004

For those who administer or work in the guts of Windows systems an networks, and perhaps those who set up and maintain applications on Windows, the Script Center over at TechNet is a truly valuable resource.

The TechNet Script Center provides one-stop shopping for system administrators wanting to manage their Windows computers using Microsoft's scripting technologies.

There's the script repository, which has lots of samples, as well as a number of good tools and utilities you can grab and start using right away.

And the scripting guys have a sense of humor. Check out the WMI Scriptomatic and its readme file, and then generate WMI scripts to your heart's content. Need ADSI scripts instead? Use the ADSI Scriptomatic. Read the accompanying text. It's worth the eye strain, trust me.

(Ok, fine, here you go: WMI stands for Windows Management Instrumentation and ADSI stands for Active Directory Services Interfaces)

Oh - and webcasts - so many good webcasts. This week is Scripting Week (believe it or not) and here are the webcasts for that celebration. And there are a number of very good archived webcasts, too. All network administrators are now on notice that you have to know how to do this stuff. Go learn. Now. TYVM.

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Tuesday, 20 July 2004 21:40:35 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Monday, 19 July 2004

Google now owns Picasa. It's am imaging tool - and it's really very good. Oh yeah - and it's FREE.

It provides a timeline- and album-based view of all your images and lets you sort through them, print them, edit them, transfer them from your camera, share them with others, make slideshows, and more.

It's cool - check out the flash demo here, and download here.

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Monday, 19 July 2004 20:58:53 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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