Monday, 27 September 2004
Sunrise over St Helens from HomeClearly visible from the front porch of my house, across the river over there in Washington, Mt. St. Helens is getting restless. Standing in the yard looking at the mountain in the hazy sky, it looked just like it does any other day, but apparently it's been grumbling more than it usually does under the surface - enough for the USGS to take official notice, anyhow.
Here is the seismic-activity recording from Wednesday evening last week (the seismograph readout shows a 12-hour block from noon to midnight UTC, which is 9pm to 5am PDT), which looks pretty normal:

And the following are the subsequent 12-hour periods, from September 23rd on through to this evening...

September 23 0000-1159

September 23 1200-2359

September 24 0000-1159

September 24 1200-2359

September 25 0000-1159

September 25 1200-2359

September 26 0000-1159

September 26 1200-2359

September 27 0000-1159 (partial)

All images come from the webicorders system at the Pacific Northwest Seismograph Network. On the webicorders page, scroll down and see the links under "SEP EHZ UW : St. Helens - Dome Station" for the latest data.

In addition, news reports are now saying that the USGS has issued a "notice of volcanic unrest" for the mountain: "Initially, hundreds of tiny earthquakes that began Thursday morning had slowly declined through Saturday. By Sunday, however, the swarm had changed to include more than 10 larger earthquakes of magnitude 2.0 to 2.8, the most in a 24-hour period since the last dome-building eruption in October 1986, Scott said."

The full Seattle P-I news story can be read here.

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Mt. St. Helens | Random Stuff
Sunday, 26 September 2004 23:57:33 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Saturday, 25 September 2004

The Business Journal Online reports on an Annenberg survey that finds people who watch The Daily Show with Jon Stewart are more likely to know the issue positions and backgrounds of presidential candidates than people who do not watch late-night comedy.

"In recent years ... traditional journalists have been voicing increasing concern that if young people are receiving political information from late-night comedy shows like The Daily Show, they may not be adequately informed on the issues of the day. This data suggests that these fears may be unsubstantiated. We find no differences in campaign knowledge between young people who watch Leno and Letterman – programs with a lot of political humor in their opening monologues -- and those who do not watch late-night. But when looking at young people who watch The Daily Show, we find they score higher on campaign knowledge than young people who do not watch the show, even when education, following politics, party identification, gender, viewing network news, reading the newspaper, watching cable news and getting campaign information on-line are taken into account."

While this does not mean the Daily Show makes people more politically aware, it shows the sample audience is more aware of the pertinent issues and facts. So for me, the full results of the survey and Annenberg's review of the content of each night-time comedy show were very interesting to read, especially when you compare and contrast the actual content of different shows, such as The Tonight Show and Late Night.

This helps explain why, even for someone like me who does not necessarily agree with Jon Stewart's political positions or leanings, The Daily Show is a program I look forward to watching - I TiVo it every day. It's funny and in fact does address the issues in its own way. It's comedy, so you have to take all of it with a grain of salt, but if nothing else, it's one more place for intelligent people to process the vast amounts of information (both relevant and irrelevant) that makes up this never-ending election cycle.

Note: You can view the actual Annenberg Center news release, which contains the full survey questions, results and analysis here. [PDF]

The Annenberg Public Policy Center also operates, I site I mentioned recently here, which does an excellent job of non-partisan review of the advertisements and other messages put out by the political campaigns, with the tag-line, "Holding Politicians Accountable."

Survey Excerpts:

"Polling conducted between July 15 and Sept. 19 among 19,013 adults showed that on a six-item political knowledge test people who did not watch any late-night comedy programs in the past week answered 2.62 items correctly, while viewers of Late Night with David Letterman on CBS answered 2.91, viewers of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno answered 2.95, and viewers of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart answered 3.59 items correctly. That meant there was a difference of 16 percentage points between Daily Show viewers and people who did not watch any late-night programming."

"Young people who watched The Daily Show scored 48% correct on the campaign knowledge test while young people who did not watch any late-night comedy scored 39% correct. Meanwhile, young people who watched four of more days of network news scored 40% correct, equally frequent cable news viewers 48% correct and newspaper readers 46% correct."

"Of the 83 political jokes made by Stewart, only 9 specifically targeted Bush. That was 11 percent of his political jokes. The same number targeted Kerry."

"The Daily Show segments are less likely than a Leno or Letterman joke to use a quick punch-line to make fun of a candidate ... Instead, Stewart’s lengthier segments employ irony to explore policy issues, news events, and even the media’s coverage of the campaign."

- Thanks to Betsy over at My Whim is Law for the pointer.

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Random Stuff
Saturday, 25 September 2004 09:48:13 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Friday, 24 September 2004

I swear to God, I just heard Robert Scoble schooling Michael Savage on his talk radio show about what blogs are and why people write web logs. So cool!

And here I am driving down the road at 70 ... Uh I mean 60 55 miles an hour blogging about it Blackberry-style, heh. Moblog yo!

Cool stuff, Robert. Amazing new world we live in - You read on someone's web site that they listen to talk radio. It's a web site I read in order to learn and stay up-to-date in my field. A couple days later, I'm driving home and I hear (what I think was) the author (Scoble) on talk radio, talking about blogging. Nice.

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Blogging | Random Stuff
Friday, 24 September 2004 17:48:45 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Tonight I had the privilege of watching two very smart people speak about a technology I barely grasp at the PADNUG meeting, with a few good laughs thrown in. The requisite pizza never showed up, but dinner afterwards was a fun time and I had a chance to talk to some people I otherwise would never get to meet.

The speakers were Rory Blyth and Scott Hanselman. Scott is a friend and co-worker of mine, an accomplished technical presenter and regional MSDN director. He played code-monkey while Rory, a rather infamous blogger and all around good guy who recently started work at Microsoft as a MSDN Presenter**, demonstrated the beta of Visual Studio .NET 2005 (aka "Whidbey"), showing off many new capabilities in developing application web sites with membership capabilities (almost all without writing any code).

Thee guys are both crazy freakin' smart. Much smarter than I. I'm one of those guys who deals with lots of hardware and software, manages a group of fine employees, deals with a wide variety of people and their needs, and generally does his best to make sure things work. These two guys are in a higher league. They're amazing when it comes to coding and building things out of thin air. I wish I was half as smart.

Rory and Scott presented things in a way that I - a simple IT jock - was able to follow and pretty much completely understand. That's the mark of a good presenter and teacher: When you can impart and transfer some portion of your knowledge and to someone truly outside your profession.

By the time they were done, I had a good picture of what kinds of things Visual Studio 2005 will be able to do for the developer crowd. Understand that I am a guy who tends to get lost in developer presentations, so the fact that I actually followed along the whole time and was able to use words like "cool" and "ahhhh" with actual meaning and understanding proves these guys can teach as well as present.

Rory will also be presenting in Portland (Hillsboro actually) at the local MSDN event scheduled to be held on Thursday November 18th at the "Movies on TV" theaters. The target audience for those presentation sessions is developers interested or working with Visual Studio and .NET technologies. If you're in a different city and want to attend an MSDN event, check the schedule of all upcoming events and locations here.

** Note that Rory's title is really something like "Pacific Northwest Microsoft Developer Community Champion," but "MSDN Presenter" is much easier to use in a sentence.

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Random Stuff | Tech
Thursday, 23 September 2004 23:34:38 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Thursday, 23 September 2004
If you are running a pirated or otherwise improperly-acquired copy of Windows and you think you'll be able to download updates and add-on's, you may find yourself out of luck in the future.
Security Pipeline reports that Microsoft has quietly debuted a mechanism that can block pirated copies of Windows from downloading fixes, patches, and software.
According to Microsoft, 23 percent of Windows computers in the United States are running bogus versions of Windows. The new program installs an Active-X control (users can opt out, at least at this point) that examines a system accessing certain files on Microsoft's Download Center to see if the copy of Windows that is installed on the machine is legitimate. At this time a number of Windows Media files are flagged for the check, along with several others. Files that will prompt the user to validate his or her copy of Windows are marked in the file listings with a small gold arrow on a blue circle background (see above).
I was interested to find that my computer, the very one from which I am writing this weblog entry, a computer provided to me by my workplace and which I know for a fact runs a legitimate copy of Windows XP Tablet PC Edition, was initially denied access to the Windows Media Player 10 download because the test did not immediately verify it as a legitimate OS installation. Wow, I thought - that's just great.
However, once I correctly entered the product code from the friendly license sticker (the one with the teeny tiny print so small I almost could not read it) into the web interface provided for computers that could not be automagically verified, I was passed straight through to the download page. So in the end, it worked just fine:

No doubt Microsoft is legitimately interested in making sure its updates are getting into the hands of those who have purchased the products the company produces, while at the same time providing software thieves with a reason and incentive to pay for the operating system they use. It should not come as a surprise that Microsoft is doing this now, nor that they will likely expand this capability in the future. Ultimately, it takes people spending money on software to allow a company, regardless of how big that company may be, to continue to build new and better software products. No matter what your philisophical position with regard to Microsoft, the one core rule of business always applies: If you're not making money, you shouldn't be in business.

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IT Security | Tech
Thursday, 23 September 2004 22:22:30 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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I know he didn't mean to (so I won't act all flattered or smug or anything), but Robert Scoble just sort of summed up the better part of my topic/category list for this-here-blog of mine, over on his blog...

I thought it would be interesting to compare his list of cool upcoming topics for the future to what's categorized or searchable right now on my site. So, I did just that and have added the links, below. Not a bad start, and it points out to me where I am falling shorter than I had realized in my content. Hey Robert, thanks for the copy. :-)

“For the next 18 months, where are the business opportunities going to lie? Tablet PC. Bigtime. Windows Media Center. Gonna be a big deal. SmartPhones. Wanna watch how fast the Motorola MPX220 sells when it's released in the next few months? Xbox Live. You only need to say one number and everyone knows exactly the Xbox thing I'm talking about: "2." Visual Studio 2005. Tons of stuff coming there. MSN has a whole raft of things up their sleeves. And we haven't even started talking about BizTalk, SharePoint, Exchange, SQL Server, 64-bit Windows, SBS, CRM, LiveMeeting, and OneNote, among other things.”

It also gives me a gut-check on my existing blog categories. Here they are, with the ones that apply to this posting checked:

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Blogging | Mobile | Office 2003 | OneNote | SharePoint | Tablet PC | Tech | Windows Media Technology
Thursday, 23 September 2004 06:51:30 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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