Sunday, 02 January 2005

Comment here if you want them, I now have ONE more to give away.

Sorry - all gone! :)

First four comments get ‘em. Leave your first name, last name and email address.



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Sunday, 02 January 2005 15:27:31 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Idiots and A**holes. They’re everywhere, unfortunately. People who run a company that sells cool stuff to people might occasionally have to sit down and have a conversation with, oh say the FBI. Hey, at least you can blog about it!

Laser_cautionApparently, a not-so-naturally-select number of people are taking green handheld laser pointers (which are quite bright out of the box ), increasing their power, and (like complete idiots) pointing them into aircraft that are flying overhead. Of course, common sense tells us if you’re aiming a laser into an aircraft, it’s probably close to the ground and chances are the light scatter through the glass is going to be intense. Not to mention I seem to recall that when I was a kid growing up in a national laboratory town, there being a warning label on every laser ever made about not shining it in a person’s eyes…

In a blog entry called “Jasper Green Lasers: useful tool or terrorist weapon?” (hey look Scoble – A corporation with a blog, heh!), Bigha Sales and Marketing guy Noah Acres (dude, nice web site, seriously) talks about a little visit he was paid by the FBI, duly (and correctly) chastises any of his customers who might be using the devices illegally, and let’s those people know that some (very interesting-sounding) technology can and will be used to hunt anyone doing this down, at which point they could be quickly taken to jail. Nice! We need more of this kind of law enforcement! [EDIT: In the comments for this post, Noah points out that the secret technology is – once again - a common sense approach: The pilot or observer can jook where the super bright green beam of light is coming from on the ground, and radio in the location. Ahhh – GPS/LORAN/etc! Hey, works for me – technology doesn’t have to be very complicated to work!]

Inlineimage_handBut anyhow, about the laser, because this is a tech blog after all, and these things are pretty cool… Maybe you’ve heard of the Jasper Laser (or any one of a number of similar handheld pointers of lower quality). It’s a very bright green laser, running at 5mw, which is the highest power at which a class IIIa laser can legally operate. Class IIIa is also the highest power laser you can operate without a permit.

Unfortunately, there are places that modify this laser and others like it and then sell them on the Internet. There are videos of modified lasers cutting through plastic cups.

Bigha is a company in Corvallis, Oregon that makes cool bicycles. They also happen to sell Jasper handheld lasers, which are perfectly legal and kinda cool.

In their Jasper Laser FAQ, they tell potential purchasers…

“When used with common sense, Jasper is completely safe.”

They also offer these safety tips on the web site:

1. Don't allow children to use Jasper without close adult supervision.

2. Don't shine Jasper into:

  • passing cars, airplanes or other vehicles
  • windows of houses
  • around the eyes of any person or animal
  • mirrors or other highly reflective surfaces — the beam might bounce into someone's area of vision
  • any optical instrument that might focus Jasper's energy into someone's eyes

Unfortunately, there are plenty of people out there who have no notion or concept of common sense. It is these dolts that don’t think about what they are doing and end up hurting people. It’s also these dolts that read the first two sentences in this paragraph and think it’s not talking about them.

More from the FAQ pages on the Bigha web site:

“… as the beam gets brighter it also contains more energy and can cause harm to eyesight. The beam can even burn if brought to too high a level. It is illegal to modify a Class IIIa laser to output more than 5mw. Anything stronger becomes a Class IIIb device and requires a safety interlock and a mechanical shutter. It is also illegal to use a Class IIIb laser in a public place without special permission … 5mw lasers are quite adequate for everyday use, indoors and out. More power than that increases the health risk to others and shortens the life of the laser itself.”

Good for Noah and Bigha.Subscribed” the the blog [hey guys, put a nifty RSS icon on your web page :-)], and I only wish more companies would have the cojones to yell at their customers and others who are making it hard for them to do business or who are putting other people at risk. Nail ‘em, man. None of us need dolts and idiots running around pulling crap like that.

And I think I want a green laser now. Heh.



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Sunday, 02 January 2005 09:56:12 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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When I make lists, I sometimes like to include things I’ve recently accomplished, so I can have some items already crossed off the list to start. If I do that, I’m at least a little more likely to accomplish what makes up the rest of the list. Except that there will almost always be one or two things that end up uncompleted, because there’s something about finishing everything that kinda freaks me out and leaves me wondering if I’ll end up in trouble for being too efficient.

So – to that end – he’s my list for the new year, in no particular order. Resolutions, things to accomplish, wishes, self-absorbed thoughts – whatever you want to call them, I don’t care. In the end, it’s just a list (with a few things crossed off and a couple things that can safely remain undone, for good measure)…

  • Become a True Security Geek – like in an “I grok security” kind of way. Involves certifications and some formal training as well as a demonstrated bloggarific slant toward this area. I have the title, and I have some good experience to apply, now it’s time to really, really fit the bill.
  • Dump Dish Network and flush them down the toilet – I am all about HDTV now, and even though I recently acquired Dish Network's HD-PVR receiver, and it’s better than the older receivers in some ways, Dish has regularly screwed its customers with promised made and not kept. For example, in mid-2004 they promised the receiver I just bought would support record-by-name in a future software update, by the end of 2004. Then right after I bought mine they announced it would not be supported. So much for the single reason I bought this receiver. Plus their HD channels are way too few. VOOM is my best guess at where I’ll end up moving (no cable TV out here in The Middle of Nowhere), but not until something, somewhere becomes truly viable for the rural TV watcher in HD mode. Dish Network doesn’t keep its resolutions, so I am making one to dump them straight on their asses, unless something drastically changes.
  • Media-Center the crap out of my house – This ties into the Dump Dish Network line item… I <3 the Media Center concept, with networked media and one centralized place for everything to “live.” I especially like the fact that it is supposed to happen relatively seamlessly. I appreciate the Media Center PC for lots of reasons, and I am quite encouraged by Microsoft’s latest MCE beta survey questions (no details will be shared here, sorry) and the categories of questions they asked – It’s going to be a fascinating area of the industry to watch in 2005, without a doubt.
  • Buy a Mac – I have written about this before, and more and more I am still leaning that direction… Probably a notebook model, but we’ll see. It’s the cash outlay that’s held me back thus far, and the possibility of a headless desktop model is intriguing. Besides, my mom just told me that they plan to buy one for Jack, her husband, so (she tells me) I “really need to get one” so I can support theirs. Hmmm, something a bit sideways about this thought process… Haha…
  • Pod-/Audio-/Video-Cast stuff that matters – In keeping with the rest of my multimedia resolutions, I will blog in forms other than (but not in place of) the written word.
  • Get Married – Because I have to have at least one completely unrealistic (yet on my list of things I would like to have happen in life) thing remain unaccomplished at the end of the year. Heh.
  • Take care of my back – I ended 2004 with lower back surgery and a subsequent recovery that became extremely painful a few days after the surgery. I’ve dealt with this pain for so long, I am willing to do almost anything to make sure it goes away and stays away.
  • Remember My Friends (ongoing, done once so far - not bad for the first day!) I have experienced so many great examples in 2004 of how terrific my friends are. From the two friends who just stayed at home with me 24/7 after my surgery and an unexpectedly painful recovery to my terrific neighbors - who can only be accurately described as a God-send, as well as a bunch of others from work, church and elsewhere who make my day on a regular basis, I have so much to be grateful for, and so much to give back.
  • Update the Cops on Top Web Site (done, woo-hoo!) so it works the way its supposed to and doesn’t rely on broken java menus. Cops on Top is a non-profit organization of volunteers, mostly law enforcement officers, who undertake mountaineering expeditions to the most respected and greatest mountains in the world, with each expedition made in the memory of an officer killed in the line of duty. It’s an amazing organization that I have had the privilege of serving for the past few years, and I now serve on the board of directors of the non-profit corporation. I’m also resolving to improve the site and its ability to be easily updated by climbers in the field via text message, camera/mobile phone, email, or satellite telephone. Can anyone say “blog?” Yeah, man.
  • Climb a Mountain – I hope to climb Mount Elbrus, the highest peak in Europe, as part of a team with Cops on Top that is mounting an expedition in late summer 2005. I used to work as a cop, back in the day, and while I have worked with the organization for some time, I have never participated in an expedition with them. Once my back is healed I hope to be able to do this.
  • Help Others (done, but not finished) – ‘Tis better to give than to receive… and I will continue to do my part to support organizations and people in need, and to encourage others to do the same. I put it on this list only because I hope that one other person will also makes this resolution.

 



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Sunday, 02 January 2005 03:21:17 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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The 2005 List of Banished Words has been released.

Sadly/Happily (depending on your personal opinion/position), among the words formally banished this year by Lake Superior State University is “Blog.” LSSU’s 30th annual list describes the term and its reasons for banishment as folows:

BLOG – and its variations, including blogger, blogged, blogging, blogosphere. Many who nominated it were unsure of the meaning. Sounds like something your mother would slap you for saying.

  • “Sounds like a Viking’s drink that’s better than grog, or a technique to kill a frog.” Teri Vaughn, Anaheim, Calif.
  • “Maybe it’s something that would be stuck in my toilet.” – Adrian Whittaker, Dundalk, Ontario.
  • “I think the words ‘journal’ and ‘diary’ need to come back.” – T. J. Allen, Shreveport, La.

Also banned – and I have to agree with this one, it just bugs the crap outa me every time I hear it – is “Webinar,” which is described on the list this way:

WEBINAR – for ‘seminar on the web.’

  • “It’s silly. Next we’ll have a Dutch ‘dunch’ … bring your own lunch for a digital lunch meeting.” – Karen Nolan, Charlotte, NC.

AMEN Karen! But better watch out what you say in public, someone will hear it and the next thing you know, instant mareting-speak… Dutch dunch. Heh…

LSSU has been compiling the list since 1976, choosing from nominations sent from around the world. This year, words and phrases were pulled from more than 2,000 nominations. Most were sent through the school’s website: www.lssu.edu/banished. LSSU accepts nominations for the List of Banished Words throughout the year. To submit your nomination for the 2006 list, go to www.lssu.edu/banished.

(found via Doc Searls, Über blogger extraorinaire)



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Blogging | Humor | Random Stuff
Sunday, 02 January 2005 02:30:06 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Gavi has created a Google-Suggest-like dictionary. He also wrote a “how does it work” section that includes the source code, so others can roll their own versions.

It’s pretty darn nifty. He used an older, early-1900’s classical dictionary, so some of the definitions are kinda funny to read. Also added recently (new for 2005, heh…) is the Free Online Dictionary of Computing (click FOLDOC on the Dictionary page to search that publication).

There are zillions of possibilities. Cool stuff!

Objectgraph



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Tech
Sunday, 02 January 2005 01:15:09 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Friday, 31 December 2004

When it rains, it... (uhhh... or when it snows, in this case)

It's snowing hard again. Wow. I kinda-like just realized I need a snow showel, snow plow and maybe some firewood. Time to start making some phone calls, heheh...

Severe Weather Alert from the National Weather Service

 ...CENTRAL COAST RANGE OF WESTERN OREGON- COAST RANGE OF NORTHWEST OREGON-WILLAPA HILLS- INCLUDING THE CITIES OF... FRANCES... GRANDE RONDE... JEWELL... MAPLETON AND VERNONIA 426 PM PST FRI DEC 31 2004

... HEAVY SNOW WARNING IN EFFECT UNTIL 4 PM PST SATURDAY FOR THE CENTRAL COAST RANGE OF WESTERN OREGON... THE COAST RANGE OF NORTHWEST OREGON AND THE WILLAPA HILLS...

HEAVY SNOW HAS DEVELOPED OVER THE NORTH OREGON COAST RANGE AND WILL MOVE INTO THE WILLAPA HILLS. FOUR INCHES OF SNOW HAS FALLEN OVER WILSON RIVER SUMMIT SO FOR THIS AFTERNOON. FOUR TO EIGHT INCHES OF SNOW IS LIKELY FROM AROUND 1500 FEET AND HIGHER. THE SNOW WILL DIMINISH SOME LATER TONIGHT BUT WILL INCREASE AGAIN SATURDAY MORNING AS A NEW SURGE OF MOISTURE MOVES INTO THE AREA. ADDITION SNOW IS LIKELY ON SATURDAY MORNING. ONE TO THREE INCHES OF SNOW IS POSSIBLE OVER THE CENTRAL OREGON COAST RANGE TONIGHT WITH ADDITIONAL SNOW POSSIBLE ON SATURDAY.

A HEAVY SNOW WARNING IS ISSUED WHEN SIGNIFICANT AMOUNTS OF SNOW ARE IMMINENT OR HIGHLY LIKELY IN THE WARNING AREA. SNOWFALL INTENSITIES WILL BE HEAVY ENOUGH TO SUBSTANTIALLY REDUCE VISIBILITIES AT TIMES.



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Friday, 31 December 2004 16:38:33 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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