Saturday, 13 November 2004

I have to make an unplanned vehicle purchase sometime in the next week or so, and I will be heading out of here in a few minutes to start looking around at what's available these days. I have no idea at this point what I am interested in.

But maybe someone who reads this will have some ideas of their own they want to share.

What I need and who I am:

I'm a guy who lives in the woods with a house at the end of a long gravel driveway. It snows up here. I drive around 80 miles a day going to and from work, and in the past I have used my SUV to pull a trailer.

I am not an anti-SUV person, and you won't be able to convert me to the hatred side of the force on principle. I am open to looking at what ever works for me (in other words, I am willing to be "for" a vehicle type, rather than being opposed to it).

I sometimes transport as many as four other people in my car. It has to be safe. After recent experiences, I'd say it has to be super, super safe (as Bill Gates would say). Let's just say I am glad/lucky to be alive and leave it at that.

So anyhow - If you're a Consumer Reports nut, have recently shopped for vehicles, or otherwise have some knowledge, experience, or opinions that you think would be valuable to me in my vehicle search, either email me (use the little envelope thing in the copyright message at the bottom of this web page), comment here where others can see (I will get an email instantly with your comment), or if its Saturday afternoon, you can even try calling my cell phone (hey, call even if you don't know me, it's all good) at 503-970-1753. Let me know what you think.

While I will be making my own decision on a purchase, I think it would be great to get some ideas from others.

Triva Note: Most of the feedback I get through this site seems to come in the form of direct emails, along with a few comments left on the site's comment system (see the bottom of this entry and look for the  icon and click the link to leave your thoughts).

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Personal Stories | Random Stuff
Saturday, 13 November 2004 12:10:30 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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MSN launched the new beta version of their new search engine the other day, and I finally got around to playing around with it just a bit. There's some cool stuff in there. It seems to have a decent catalog of stuff to search through, although (no surprise here) it's not as complete as Google's directory. I appreciate the clean layout - it's very readable.

I like the new search interface, and the Search Builder tool (available from any search entry box) let's you do advanced searches without having to be a complete geek - nice for typical end users.

There are a few things it has that Google doesn't, though.

For example, it seems to understand when I ask questions in context. Or at least it provides answers to some questions - typically factual ones. Nice for high-school research projects and the like, or for trivia lookups. 

For example, I tried searching for the term "What is the population of the United States?"  Google provided some useful and well-chosen links to web sites (Census Bureau, etc.), but MSN Search came up with something even better - the actual answer to my question (click the image to perform the search yourself):

(click image to perform the search in your browser)

I also found if I searched for the population of Oregon or other locations, it worked just as well.

Population, well that's cool. What about other facts? I searched for "Exports of the United States" and got this:

(click image to perform the search in your browser)

Searching for other country's/states exports and populations and values yielded similar results.

And it's not just social studies - physical sciences, too:

(click image to perform the search in your browser)

I'll have to play around with what MSN search provides answers for - I am sure I just scratched the surface.

Google's popular "Calculator" functionality has long been touted as useful, and it looks like MSN has similar capabilities. One subtle difference, though, is that Google Calculator returns a page with just the calculator results followed by a link to perform the web search, where MSN returns the answer plus the web search results lower on the same page:

(click image to perform the search in your browser)

(click image to perform the search in your browser)

Also not surprising are the links provided to "Encarta Answers," since that appears to be the source of the MSN Search "answers" content.

Cool stuff. I have seen the MSN search indexing my web sites in my stats logs, and it looks like they've done a pretty good job on building an index of this web site, although they have not indexed the full content. Google's got a lot more.

It's also interesting to see how they list sites that link to mine.

But I like it. For the first time, I will likely use MSN's search as a regular tool for finding information, alongside others like Google.

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Saturday, 13 November 2004 11:30:21 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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If you're in the Portland Oregon area, have some computer equipment to get rid of, and are inclined to do good in the world, you owe it to yourself and your neighbors to check out Free Geek, a non-profit organization in Portland that will take your computer donations and do great things:

Free Geek was founded in February 2000 (and incorporated as a 501(c)(3) in April 2000) to recycle computer technology and provide low and no-cost computing to individuals and not-for-profit and social change organizations in the community and throughout the world.

In the four years since its formation, Free Geek has recycled over 360 tons of electronic scrap and refurbished over 3,000 computer systems that are now in use by individuals and organizations in the community.

You can even drop by at Noon or 6pm, Tuesday through Saturday and take a tour.

Volunteer 24 hours at their facility and you can earn a refurbed computer with Linux on it. Donate computers of any type, in any condition - details here. They'll take old monitors, too - but there's a $10 charge, since they're like, nasty inside and all.

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Saturday, 13 November 2004 09:15:10 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Friday, 12 November 2004

Ok, this is freakin' hilarious... If you're easily offended by things like fart jokes, click here and stop reading now. If you have a sense of humor that includes laughing at bathroom noises (in other words if you are like 95% of the people in the world), read on. This information is really about technology, not bathrooms or poop. Uh, yeah.

RoboDump is a robot. Sort of. And it poops. Sort of. Forever. A horrible, never-ending bowel movement complete with straining grunts, horrific gas, splashes, and pee sounds.

I snuck RoboDump into the men's room at the office. Unfortunately, today turned out to be the day of a board meeting. Whoops! It still went over well; the office was abuzz all morning with gossip about the guy in the bathroom. Several people theorized it was the CFO. The janitor commented to someone in the hallway that he wanted to clean the restroom but "this guy's been in there all morning."

I also decided to dress it in businessware to make coworkers less likely to try to talk to it... if it looks like a customer or visiting bigwig, they'll be less likely to offer help or ask for a courtesy flush.

Pictures and an audio sample are available at the web site, and you can comment at the blog... I can't help but laugh at this one... Hahahah...

The work that went into this marvel of electronic wonder was pretty extensive, and let me tell ya - I want one.

(found via

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Geek Out | Humor
Friday, 12 November 2004 23:13:17 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Thanks to my friend Scott, I made a few enhancements to my dasBlog weblog app that drives this site. I'll leave all of them active for a while to see how they work. If you have thoughts, feel free to leave them here as a comment on this post.

  • As of a few minutes ago, I enabled GZIP HTTP compression for site content (which matters a lot more to me in the bandwidth-saving area than it does to anyone else).
  • I also added an object to the comment pages here that requires anyone who wants to post a comment to read the text from an image on the page and enter the text on a text box. This will help reduce the comment spam that comes and goes on this site.
  • Finally, I downloaded the latest dasBlog web core DLL as posted on the GotDotNet workspace, which enabled me to add a NewsGator ranking object to each blog post.

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Blogging | Tech
Friday, 12 November 2004 22:43:21 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Looks like TopLayer will be hosting a series of three “webinars” (oh how these new clichés bug me) on the topic of Understanding Network Intrusion Prevention.

I am not personally familiar with the company, but the content looks interesting. It is advertised as free training, and specifically not a sales pitch. 

Here's the info and links to sign up if you're interested. Each session will last for about 60 minutes. From their email and web site, the session will include:

  • Understanding problems that Network IPS can solve
  • Network Intrusion Prevention technology overview
  • Vulnerabilities, exploits, regular expressions, and protocol validation
  • Comparing and contrasting IPS technology to IDS technology
  • Requirements for in-line operations
  • Reliable, scalable network IPS deployment scenarios
This educational webinar series will be led by Top Layer's senior engineering team. Individuals that are investigating or installing network intrusion prevention technologies should attend this webinar series. There will be a question and answer period at the end of each session. Each webinar is an educational session, it is not a sales presentation.

To Register:

Detailed Descriptions of the Sessions:

Network Intrusion Prevention Webinar Session I

Topic: "Problems that Can be Solved by Network IPS"

  • Background of IPS and Attacks
  • Problem Review
  • Massive Network Attacks
  • Known and Unknown Network Exploits
  • Requirements for an Inline Network Device

Register Now>       December 8       12:00 PM Eastern Daylight Time (EDT)

Network Intrusion Prevention Webinar Session II

Topic: "Network IPS Deployment Goals"

  • Brief Review of Session I
  • Universe of Attacks
  • IPS Mechanisms
  • Protection vs. Recognition & Classification
  • Requirements for Inline Network Device

Register Now>       December 9       12:00 PM Eastern Daylight Time (EDT)

Network Intrusion Prevention Webinar Session III

Topic: "Network IPS Requirements and Example"

  • Brief Review of Session I & II
  • Network Usage Model
  • Network and Security Performance/High Availability Requirements
  • The challenges of IP Fragments and TCP Segments
  • Security Event Reporting
  • IPS Deployment Example

Register Now>       December 15       12:00 PM Eastern Daylight Time (EDT)

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IT Security | Tech
Friday, 12 November 2004 15:17:01 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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