Monday, 26 December 2005

Plagiarism sucks, and Om Malik's weblog was apparently being copied verbatim, images and all, and repurposed sans-attribution on another site that was serving up ads and (potentially) making money. I've had this happen to me a few times in the past year or so, and in some cases found the only way to fight it was to quote the DMCA in an email to the host. Lord knows asking Google to hold them accountable for their terms of service did not work in my case - Google just wrote back and said "we can't do anything." Plus the bad guys were repurposing content from a whole slew of other sites. Lazy jerks.

By the way - this is really not exactly a trivial deal for many blog authors and publishers. I know when it happens to me, I chase it down and take it seriously. No lawyers needed - I am pretty good at that stuff and have some legal and courtroom experience, so why not put it to use eh? The ads on my site pay for my web hosting and my Internet access each month, and then some, so I have a little more than just an ego interest in what I choose to write and post.

Anyhow, below is an email I used last year to resolve a plagiarism problem involving full content from this web site. It's blunt, direct, complete and it worked. Also, note that this letter followed multiple attempts to get the site owner to remove plagiarized content. I'm posting the email letter here simply for the benefit of anyone who might become a victim of blog plagiarism and wants access to some ideas that have worked for others in the past.

And by the way - make sure you have a copyright statement and maybe a Creative Commons license on your main page that states what people can and cannot do with your blog content (mine's at the bottom of every page - it says people can repurpose it with attribution and for non-commercial purposes). It can't hurt to do this, and it helps set reasonable expectations and ground-rules for well-behaved people, while it can also be ammo for the ill-behaved later on...

Note that the problem I tackled with the below email was resolved within 4 hours of the email being sent to the hosting provider (the site owner never responded), and it happened a year and a half ago, so please don't go harassing anyone - this is just posted here to help people who might end up in a similar situation.

Where you see the word "(-- edited --)" below, I have removed identifying information to protect the innocent as well as those who complied with the requests to remove the offending content.


-------- Original Message --------
Subject:  ACTION REQUIRED: Illegal use of copyrighted content by one of your customers for commercial purposes
Date:  Sun, 3 Apr 2005 17:18:51 -0700


The owner of the web site(s) located on your servers/network at the below IP address and domain name is stealing and republishing - via an automated web-server application that gathers an XML feed - content owned and copyrighted by Greg Hughes at (MICROSOFT-DOTNET-TECHNOLOGY.INFO)

The following ARIN information identifies (-- edited --) Holdings, LLC (which is a corporation in Colorado) and (-- edited --).com (which appears to be a possibly defunct operation) as owners of the IP address/block in question:

Location: United States [City: Loveland, Colorado]

NOTE: More information appears to be available at NET-216-7-186-0-1.

(-- edited --) Holdings, LLC D393LLC-DC-INVERNESS6 (NET-216-7-160-0-1)
(-- edited --).com VONOC-216-7-186-0-23 (NET-216-7-186-0-1)
# ARIN WHOIS database, last updated 2005-04-02 19:10
# Enter ? for additional hints on searching ARIN's WHOIS database.

The person(s) running the web site at MICROSOFT-DOTNET-TECHNOLOGY.INFO have been contacted in the past via the “contact” form on the web site and told to stop repurposing this content, specifically because they have not obtained permission and because they are profiting from advertising revenue from said web site. This activity constitutes theft of intellectual property under copyright laws and the DMCA. The information being sourced is copyrighted as indicated on the web site, and is not in the public domain for re-use. The party(ies) associated with MICROSOFT-DOTNET-TECHNOLOGY.INFO have not responded to repeated contacts and requests to cease use of the copyrighted material.

We have sent a CEASE AND DESIST letter to the parties once again today (April 3, 2004) through their web site contact form at At this time we request that you remove the offending web sites and pages from your servers, as they are clearly in violation of the common acceptable use provisions of the parties to this email:

http://www.(-- edited --).com/acceptable-use.asp#copyright

IN ADDITION, the same person(s) appear to be sourcing copyrighted material for commercial use from Yahoo!, Search Engine Watch,, the Kansas City Public Library, National Geographic News,, and Web Hosting News. Unless the situation is rectified immediately we will also be contacting those persons and companies to advise them of the misuse of the copyrighted property and data.

The WHOIS information on record for the domain in question is:

Domain ID:D8436219-LRMS
Created On:27-Nov-2004 15:34:17 UTC
Last Updated On:27-Nov-2004 15:34:20 UTC
Expiration Date:27-Nov-2005 15:34:17 UTC
Sponsoring Registrar:R136-LRMS
Registrant ID:C7727838-LRMS
Registrant Name (-- edited --)
Registrant Organization:(-- edited --)
Registrant Street1:(-- edited --)
Registrant City:(-- edited --)
Registrant State/Province:Gujarat
Registrant Postal Code:(-- edited --)
Registrant Country:IN
Registrant Phone:(-- edited --)
Registrant (-- edited --)
Admin ID:C7727839-LRMS
Admin Name:(-- edited --)
Admin Organization:(-- edited --)
Admin Street1:(-- edited --)
Admin City:Ahmedabad
Admin State/Province:Gujarat
Admin Postal Code:(-- edited --)
Admin Country:IN
Admin Phone:(-- edited --)
Admin (-- edited --)
Billing ID:C7727840-LRMS
Billing Name:(-- edited --)
Billing Organization:(-- edited --)
Billing Street1:(-- edited --)
Billing City:Ahmedabad
Billing State/Province:Gujarat
Billing Postal Code:(-- edited --)
Billing Country:IN
Billing Phone:(-- edited --)
Billing (-- edited --)
Tech ID:C7727841-LRMS
Tech Name:(-- edited --)
Tech Organization:(-- edited --)
Tech Street1:(-- edited --)
Tech City:Ahmedabad
Tech State/Province:Gujarat
Tech Postal Code:(-- edited --)
Tech Country:IN
Tech Phone:(-- edited --)
Tech (-- edited --)
Name Server:VOB1.(-- edited --).COM
Name Server:VOB2.(-- edited --).COM

(Note: I edited the names and other identifying infomration from the WHOIS record at the request of the person listed in the contact sections of the record becuase they asked me to do so. While the information is accurate as it was originally posted, it serves no useful purpose to keep that person's phone and other information here and the orginal issue was resolved, so I agreed to make the change).

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Monday, 26 December 2005 21:21:05 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Saturday, 24 December 2005

SantaTrackGEarthLooks like Santa's got himself a gmail account, and the Google Earth team has been working with him to set up a live map tracking capability for the big night. If you've got Google Earth, you can track Santa online. If you don't have it, now is a good time to grab a free copy.

Here's email from Santa that Google posted:

To: "Google Support"
Subject: Naughty or Nice Layer

I love Google Earth and have been planning a big trip with it. Now I'm wondering if you've ever thought about licensing data layers for "nice" and "naughty." If interested, I've got a really good list -- I've checked it twice. Rooftop accurate data!

Let me know,
S. Claus

Google says: "While we didn't work a deal for Naughty or Nice data layers, we did negotiate the rights to track this user on his big trip. If you've already got Google Earth, you can too."

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Saturday, 24 December 2005 09:43:23 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Philip Chu's Seven Habits of Highly Effective Programmers is a great read. He goes into the characteristics of what I would agree makes up a truly effective technical professional (regardless of whether you be a programmer, systems engineer, admin or whatever).

Anyone who works in the software or IT field should read this.

I like his final line, too: "Stupidity is contagious."


[via a link from Digg]

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Saturday, 24 December 2005 09:28:57 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Friday, 23 December 2005

As I mentioned here last year, you can track Santa's progress on Christmas Eve with your kids online at the NORAD Track Santa web site.

On December 24th kids can call toll free at 1-877-Hi-NORAD anytime after 9AM Eastern Standard Time (7AM Mountain Standard Time) to find out the status of Santa from NORAD. Or, even better, check out the NORAD Track Santa web site (available in several languages):


Looks like Brent's got a good list of online resources, too. Enjoy.

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Friday, 23 December 2005 19:30:58 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Sunday, 18 December 2005

Not sure how I missed it, but sometime last week or so BlogJet was upgraded to version 1.6.1. I have been using this tool for well over a year now to post almost all my weblog entries. There are others out there, and some are getting close, but BlogJet is simple and works well.

What's new? Lots of enhancements. Posting to MSN Spaces sites for one thing, and more. While there are still some features left on my wish-list, this is a great upgrade. Here's the list from the BlogJet weblog:



  • Work-around for WordPress and TypePad date/time issue.
  • Now BlogJet can work via proxy with authentication.
  • Fixed issue with FTP proxy.
  • Fixed double trackbacks in TypePad and Movable Type
  • FTP password encryption.
  • Fixed: Insert Link window didn’t remove automatically http:// when inserting https:// of ftp:// links.
  • Fixed “Cannot focus a disabled or invisible window”.
  • Fixed: error message when posting with image selected.
  • New connection core.
  • Lots of other bug fixes…

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Sunday, 18 December 2005 20:07:54 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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The DualCor cPC running Windows XP Tablet PC EditionJames Kendrick's got some exclusive details on the DualCor cPC, a nifty looking mobile device that can run Windows XP for normal computing tasks, and switch to Windows Mobile 5.0 when the user needs more PDA type functions:

"The cPC sports a dual processor design, a Via 1.5 GHz processor running Windows for standard computing functions and an Intel chipset running Windows Mobile 5.0 Phone Edition for handling PDA and phone tasks. The cPC doesn't just rely on the dual processor/ OS design to innovate, it also has a passive digitizer (touch screen) running Windows XP 2005 Tablet Edition! This will provide a rich stylus-enabled experience for those times when end users are mobile and not docked."

This is a great idea - dock it and you get the keyboard experience with a monitor and all, pop it out of the dock and switch to mobile mode instantly, with an uber-smartphone. I can think of a few people who are probably going to want one of these...

Here's how DualCor puts it:

"Delivering the Holy Grail of Enterprise Mobility: 100% replication of the fully functional, fully connected, non-diluted, intra-enterprise desktop experience in a completely mobile hand-held device."

And I like the letter-opener style stylus (see the larger view of the image, above, by clicking on it).

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Sunday, 18 December 2005 17:02:11 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Mark Cuban posts a weblog entry today about his thoughts around what appears to be a lazy reporter for the New York Times (and by lazy I don't mean "doing nothing," but instead "not doing enough") and the content of a column by the Times that Cuban was interviewed for via email last week.

(You can read the actual email responses Cuban sent to the Times' reporter's questions on his blog, by that way. Amazing how things have shifted in terms of information availability over the years. Also, Cuban follows up with another blog entry asking "who has higher ... standards, your typical fulltime blogger, or the NY Times ? Who puts more effort into researching their articles? Who conveys more depth?")

Not like it's a shock or anything that the New York Times would research and publish content with an apparently predetermined end-goal in mind, and it is a column, after all, so opinion's completely within the realm of reason. And Cuban's known for opinions and ideas that writers don't always take at face value. But it's interesting to see what was asked, what answers were provided, and what was published.

Also of interest are Cuban's thoughts about the future of HDTV in the home and the much-higher-def projection they're starting to install in theaters. Personally, I like where he's going with this stuff, and as a former projectionist for a small chain of theaters way back when, I can tell you that I am happy there are a least a couple theater owners out there focused (no pun intended) on the quality of the experience and making it easier to bring quality filmwork to lots of people quickly. It's painful these days to go to theaters where the projection lenses are shoddy or even just not properly aligned and focused, and where the light box and shutter mechanisms simply suck. I've arrived at a point where if a theater doesn't have most or all of the following characteristics, I just don't want to go anymore:

  • The proper lens for the screen, meaning uniform brightness and sharp focus across the entire field, whether it's film or digital projection images being shown
  • Clean sound and acoustics that doesn't self-cancel or distort
  • Seats that you sit in and instantly wish you had at home (these are rare but they do exist, and I can almost predict by ownership when there will be good chairs)
  • Food selection that isn't cardboard and chalk derivative - and a bonus if the theater uses peanut oil (yes, be sure to prominently display the use of peanuts for safety) to cook the popcorn
  • A theater hall that doesn't smell like someone hosed it down with a mix of sweat and vomit juice between shows (remove the seats and bleach the place twice a year, seriously)

Anyhow, Cuban makes some interesting and valid points in his weblog entry. Again, it's encouraging to see someone focused on quality (as opposed to strict cost/return) as primary business drivers. That's smart. No point in good margins of no one wants to buy the product, and one thing that HDTV at home does do is raise the bar on the expectations of the theater experience - we'll always expect it to be one or two quality and experience notches better than anything at home. The Times article refers to and quotes leadership of Regal Entertainment Group, which is a company that doesn't tend to meet my wishes outlined above.

Someone has to lead and push the limits. Cuban tends to do this. Good for him. Good for us. And Randall Stross of the New York Times, well he probably just needs to get out more. Maybe a movie?

[via memeorandum]

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Sunday, 18 December 2005 11:51:02 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Saturday, 17 December 2005

Scott Adams says he recently quit caffeine. It wasn't exactly pleasant for him. Sounds like it still isn't.

I can relate. Except that I have not quit.

I drink coffee like it was, well, water. Like it's going out of style. It's easy to do - there's tons of free coffee everywhere I go. Which means work and home. And church sometimes. Free coffee everywhere.

Coffee is The Devil. So I am not sure why it's at church.

If I don't get my requisite dose of caffeine in the morning, I (seriously) can't see straight. Like as in my vision is blurry and my head hurts. That can't be good.

I stopped smoking a couple years or so ago. I've quit other things before, many years ago. But caffeine, well man oh man... Painful.

For the record, cigarettes was the hardest from a withdrawl perspective. Freakin' BRUTAL. It still is from time to time. I tell people I *stopped* smoking. I don't say I "quit." Nothing is guaranteed, nothing is forever. For today I am stopped, and it's better that way.

I guess I've learned that much fairly well. Heh.

But, back to coffee - It's the one vice I have left remaining in my life, really. I know I shouldn't drink as much as I do, but it just won't let me go. I've tried it - Ringing ears, blurry vision, massive headaches, general lethargy, an *inability* to sleep (seriously), and on top of that no more coffee, which I actually like (and I never actually liked smoking that much).

Argh. Decaf doesn't really appeal to me. All the decaf I've ever had tastes like crapola.

Any ideas?

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Saturday, 17 December 2005 23:01:32 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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I had a thought tonight. It's not a new one, not even all that original. Some might call it fleeting or warped. I think I've mentioned it here before, maybe over a year ago. Whatever, doesn't matter really. A thing over on Digg earlier today reminded me of it.

What, exactly, is "it" you ask? I'm getting to that. To "it," I mean. Whatever.

Let's face it, there is one question that any knowledge-centric computer system should know the answer to by now. So, with this hypothesis in mind, and with the belief that being proven wrong would be a strong indicator of certain impending doom, or something very similar, I set out to put a number of the esteemed AI-ish computer systems to That Ultimate Test.

And here are the results...

Encarta® Instant Answers - which I reviewed here last month - passes the test:

[18:00] what is the answer to the question the life, the universe and everything?
[18:00] Encarta® Instant Answers: Forty-two.

Nice. I like having Encarta Instant Answers in my IM list. Even more so now.

For fun, I also posted the question to Yahoo! Answers (beta), which is a service that gets answers from real people. The results come in email. Not exactly instant gratification, but what the heck. I wonder if I'll get flamed, since that's one of the more particularly unique aspects of human interaction, dontcha know.

Oh, wait! That was fast! Look what just arrived in my inbox, no less than one minute after my posted question - wow!

Good news! Someone has answered your question on Yahoo! Answers:

What is the answer to the great question of life, the universe and everything?

Here's the answer that bfeldman23 gave:

Cool. Not even a flame. Heh. Other answers received while writing this post included:

  • Alcohol  (ed: this was actually the first answer received, and it arrived at the same time as the answer above - this might mean something)
  • John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life."  (ed: nice - I like that one)
  •  7  (ed: someone's an optimist eh?)
  •  The question is why, the answer is why not!  (ed: heheheh...)
  •  sex  (ed: well, yeah, duh...)

Side-bar: I started thinking about flames and insults, and since this was distracting me terribly I decided to go back to Encarta Instant Answers to see if I could get the computer on the other end upset...

[18:32] screw you
[18:32] Encarta® Instant Answers: That's an insult, if I'm not mistaken. Why would you say such a thing?

Hahahah... Nice. But you know I had to keep trying...

[18:38] a**hole    (note: I edited the actual word I typed for this family blog post)
[18:38] Encarta® Instant Answers:
That's a fairly serious insult.
[18:39] Encarta® Instant Answers:
[18:39] Encarta® Instant Answers:
Yes, whatever.
uh huh
[18:39] Encarta® Instant Answers:
[18:39] Encarta® Instant Answers:
Hmm? What?
[18:39] Encarta® Instant Answers:
[18:39] Encarta® Instant Answers:
[18:39] Encarta® Instant Answers:
K, no prob.
[18:39] Encarta® Instant Answers:
[18:39] Encarta® Instant Answers: I don't know. OK, should we get back to the kind of questions I was designed to answer? You can type "?" at any time to see a list of questions you can ask me.

[18:51] WTF?
[18:51] Encarta® Instant Answers:
What up?
[18:51] Encarta® Instant Answers:
Here is the definition for nothing: not anything.
[18:51] uhh
[18:51] Encarta® Instant Answers:
Everything OK over there?
[18:51] Encarta® Instant Answers:
OK, whatever. Why don't you ask me something that's actually in Encarta? You can type "?" to see a list of questions you can ask me.
[18:51] Encarta® Instant Answers:
Ugh? What's wrong?
[18:51] Encarta® Instant Answers:
Me? Really?
[18:51] Encarta® Instant Answers:
Are you sure? Maybe not me.
I'm sure.
[18:52] Encarta® Instant Answers: OK, whatever. OK, should we get back to the kind of questions I was...

Hahahah, I love messing with non-sentient beings. They can't get pissed off and punch you in the face. Yet. Cool.

Anyhow... I had a point around here somewhere...

Next comes Google Calculator, a quite useful tool built into Google's search engine. As expected, fast. clean and to-the-point:

  the answer to life the universe and everything = 42
    More about calculator

And of course there's MSN Search (which, for the record, is pulling it's data from Encarta, just like the Instant Answers, above). MSN Search does just as well, and is able to accept slightly more variations on the searched phrase than Google and still return the answer:

Web Results

    Page 1 of 564,343 results containing the answer to life the universe and everything (0.10 seconds)

Answer:  answer = 42

Finally, here's Amazon's A9 search engine conglomeration thing, which returns a lot of search results, and if you check the reference box there, it show Wikipedia's typically flashy, pithy and detailed answer (only part of which is below):


The Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything
The Ultimate Answer

The Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything is a concept taken from Douglas Adams' science fiction series The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. In the story, the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything is sought from the supercomputer Deep Thought. The answer given by Deep Thought leads the protagonists on a quest to discover the question which provides this answer.

Very cool.

To sum it all up, while it's not quite on par with a handheld Hitchhiker's Guide yet, there's at least a glimmer of hope. And that's nice to know.

So, for now, it appears to be safe to follow this sage advice: Don't Panic.

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Saturday, 17 December 2005 17:12:55 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Friday, 16 December 2005

I suppose there's a chance I'm the last person in the world to watch The Polar Express. I rented it tonight, I suppose due to a subconscious need to find a little holiday something or another.

If you haven't seen this movie, you're really missing out.

I can remember (vaguely) being the kid on this movie. Each of them, actually. I think that's why it's such a great story and film. And what a great message.

If you've not seen it, or if you know someone who doesn't believe anymore, rent the DVD, settle in for the night, and get a little bit of your life back. I think you'll be glad you did. This has to be one of the better movie experiences in some time. I can't believe I missed it til now.

And if you're lucky enough to be near an IMAX theater, you might be able to go see it there - in 3D, which Roger Ebert says is an incredible experience. Here in Portland, it's 2D at the OMSI OmniMax theater, but it's on the big dome screen.

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Friday, 16 December 2005 21:51:32 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Thursday, 15 December 2005

Such the conundrum. In my kitchen pantry I have four cans of Wolf Brand Chili. They taunt me. I stare at them every now and then an ponder the many Wolf Brand possibilities. I do this because they have been in my pantry now for, oh, a few years. I think seriously about opening one, scraping it out over a bed of Fritos, running some cheese on top and radiating it all in the Microwave. Health food at its best.

I'd actually do it, too, if I wasn't afraid I'd freakin' die. I mean, just how long is canned chili good for, anyway?

I mean, the answer must be either "a finite period of time" (undoubtedly substantially less than four years) or else it must be something along the lines of "forever." Like as in "put canned chili in your Y2K and terrorist attack supply caches."

So, in my quest for knowledge I did the most obvious thing your average 38-year-old guy would be expected to do when confronted with obscure kitchen-related trivia of such potential impact as to rise to the level of life-and-death.

I called my mom.

Her advice? "If it's not swollen or split open and as long as it doesn't hiss when you open it, it's probably fine." Hmmm... Probably?

I told her "Yeah, well I probably still won't open it."

Not that I don't believe my mom. It's just that, well, maybe I don't believe her. It's just not like her to be so non-committal. "Probably fine." Heh. Right. She's probably taking out an insurance policy on me right now. Nah, she'd never do that.

Okay, well... Time for some search engine research action, then. After Googling for a half hour and (uncharacteristically) coming up with practically nothing you'd consider useful (more proof that I'm basically just completely random), I decided to take a chance and just open the stupid thing, listen for the hissing, smell it, eyeball it, and nuke the living hell out of it before allowing it to reach my mouth.

What the hell, ya only live once. And I'm hungry.

So, if I don't ever post here again, I'm probably dead from botulism or some other nasty crap. Wish me luck.

UPDATE: Opening can... Hiissssssss... Woahhhh... Never mind, I'm not touching that stuff. Heh. I'll just go hungry.

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Thursday, 15 December 2005 18:52:42 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Sunday, 11 December 2005

I'm supposed to be on my way to Portland by now, to meet up with the youth group for a evening thing, Christmas shopping and stuff.

Supposed to be. Just one minor problem.

My truck's sitting out there in the driveway, with my laptop, camera, phone, and everything else I might possibly need tucked inside. The engine is all warmed up, the heated seats are turned on.

And the doors are all locked.

And the extra key? Yeah, let's not even go there.

To solve this problem, after failing miserably at the Magic Wire Coat Hanger Method, I brought out the smallest Yellow Pages book in the United States and looked for a local locksmith.

I'm starting to see why there are times when it's easier to live in or near the city. My first call was to a guy who, it turns out, is over in the state of Washington. Another call or two went unanswered. My next call was to a guy three-quarters of the way to the city, and he said he'd be heading my way. That's about 30 minutes away.

Days like this make me happy I have that Hemi V8 under the hood, what with the truck sitting there in the driveway at fast idle for the past hour and all.

But hey, with the PC laptop locked up in the car, at least I can be glad to have this Mac sitting on my desk in the corner over here. And I can be glad I have time to apply the gazillion software patches and updates I apparently missed since I last used it who-knows-how-long-ago.

I just hope there's enough gas left by the time they guy gets it unlocked to get me to the closest gas station.

Okay, I'm done. How's your weekend?

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Sunday, 11 December 2005 14:21:24 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Philippe Cheng made a rare couple of posts on his weblog this weekend (yeah, that's a friendly little jab right there, did ya catch that one?). He's spent the last, ohhh I dunno, 20 years or so building a new Chinchilla condominium. I guess that explains the light blogging activity. Looks like the family has grown a bit during the intervening time:

     Philippe's Chinchila 'Cloning' Experiment

Heh. Sorry, couldn't resist. Philippe's a coworker and he likes to make furniture and other non-digital stuff on the weekends, which is cool. Check out his blog. He writes now and then about interesting development stuff, too.

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Sunday, 11 December 2005 07:52:39 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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"They all hold signs."

Dressed in ratty clothes, one guy stood on a busy corner with a cardboard sign inscribed with an offer to give away free Linux CDs. As you can imagine, the number of takers was not all that many, nor was it a quick process. How do you think the people this man encountered acted?

It was an interesting day of observation and insight for the man, and the end if the story is - well, you should just go read it.

[via Digg]

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Sunday, 11 December 2005 05:58:37 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Saturday, 10 December 2005

Writely is a web-based document authoring and collaboration tool. You can create new documents or upload existing documents of popular formats (Word, Open Office, text, HTML, etc). Once you've started a document you can collaborate with others on it - even in real time, as the page will refresh to include changes made by the other person every few seconds. And it's all done in the browser, with no software or controls to install. Slick stuff.

Once you're done, you can publish your document and share it with others (email notifications are also built in), or use Writely to post the content to your blog - which is exactly how I authored this particular entry (with some minor glitches along the way, but it's a beta).

Interesting and very web-two-oh-ish. Word processing, collaboration, and it's completely deployed online. One to watch, for sure.

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Saturday, 10 December 2005 23:33:33 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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I have been awfully busy lately, with lots and lots of work projects, travel for work and personal purposes, and all the rest of life on top of that. As a result, there are over a hundred interesting tidbits of info I set aside with hopes of writing here about them.

But since I know in the real world that won't ever happen, here are the 48 random things that caught my eye ad attention long enough for me to save each one - These fall mostly in the tech category:

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Random Stuff | Tech
Saturday, 10 December 2005 11:22:06 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Everyone knows XBOX360's are in very short supply, and the ones that are available are being swept up as soon as they hit shelves. So, it makes sense that a few web resources have appeared to help you find one.

  • - Best Buy stores in the US will be receiving fresh inventory next weekend (the 18th). This site lets you enter your ZIP code and find out how many will be arriving at a store(s) near you.
  • - Sign up for a free or premium service that will notify you when online retailers have XBOX360 consoles available to purchase.

Sounds like there will be opportunities to find one before Christmas. Rumor on Friday was that there were Costco stores with large shipments at that time in some areas.

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Saturday, 10 December 2005 09:07:25 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Thursday, 08 December 2005

My coworker, Brent Strange, has just started a Quality Assurance (QA) blog. Brent's what I would call a QA expert (he amazes me from time to time for sure) and he does terrific quality work, so I am looking forward to what he says and thinks on it.

Here is his introductory post, and he's already started adding new content. And it's another dasBlog weblog, which is cool. Nice template, too.

This will be one to watch. Subscribed.

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Blogging | Tech
Thursday, 08 December 2005 20:46:49 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Google Transit detailGoogle has released an early version of Google Transit, a Google Maps internal mash-up that my fellow Portlanders can use to find public transportation to get from point A to Point B around the metro area. Once you search for your trip, you can compare the relative costs and time required to use public transportation or drive, and have complete instructions for each. Click here for a sample transit search from Hillsboro, Oregon to the Portland International Airport (PDX).

I mention that my fellow Portland residents can use it, because this is an early beta so (as of the time of this post) it contains information for public transit services in the Portland, Oregon metro area. But hey, it's a beta release, and Portland's a great place to try something like this. It's a large city but not huge, so it's manageable. the transit info is available electronically, and with the many bus and light rail options and all the interconnections, it's a good test bed. So those of us that live here can be very happy, and the rest of ya can learn more about Portland until your city is available. Just don't move here, heheh. Just kidding.

From the "About" page:

"Do you live in or near a city? Want to go someplace—to the airport, to dinner, to work every day—and not worry about the hassles and expense of driving and parking? Google Transit Trip Planner enables you to enter the specifics of your trip—where you're starting, where you're ending up, what time of day you'd like to leave and/or arrive—then uses all available public transportation schedules and information to plot out the most efficient possible step-by-step itinerary. You can even compare the cost of your trip with the cost of driving the same route!

"At the moment we're only offering this service for the Portland, Oregon metro area, but we plan to expand to cities throughout the United States and around the world."

One problem with the interface when I used it - no scroll bars. The directions pane is cut off at the bottom of the browser window and there's no way to scroll down to see more. The data is there, but it's not displayed. But I am sure they'll work on it. After all, it's a beta.

     google transit page

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Thursday, 08 December 2005 05:10:20 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Tuesday, 06 December 2005

I've written before about FrontMotion's Firefox MSI installers and their Active Directory ADM policy templates, but with the recent release of Firefox v1.5 and the resultant updating of the installers by FrontMotion, I figured it's worth another mention. In a security-conscious IT environment, we all know how difficult it can be to exercise the necessary level of control over programs that are used to access the Internet - and the web browser is number one or two on the list of possible problem Internet apps (along with email programs). So being proactive whenever the tools are available to us is quite important.

Luckily, FrontMotion distributes MSI (Microsoft Installer) versions of the Firefox web browser for people to use (free of charge at this time) and there are two editions of the installers available. FrontMotion's Firefox Community Edition - which is the one that includes the Active Directory integration for centralized management and control - is slated to be updated shortly, and their stand-alone MSIs (which are not AD-integrated) have already been updated to incorporate Firefox v1.5.

The features of the Firefox Community Edition should be of interest to companies that centrally manage software for IT and security purposes, and the package allows you to upgrade non-MSI installations as well as those from other organizations. Features of the community edition include:

  • Active Directory deployable and upgradeable.
  • Active Directory management through Administrative Templates (*.adm).
  • Desktop Icon similar to IE.
  • Shell integration similar to IE.
  • Set Default browser
  • Macromedia Flash plug-in preinstalled
  • Detect and upgrades non-MSI installs.
  • Can upgrade 3rd party MSI's from MIT,, and ZettaServe.
  • Able to properly perform uninstalls and restores system associations

You can subscribe to the FrontMotion mailing list for occcasional announcements about updates at: I don't see a blog or RSS feed, but we can hope.

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IT Security | Tech
Tuesday, 06 December 2005 02:32:28 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Monday, 05 December 2005

Kathy Sierra does her typically terrific job of distilling the Web 2.0 hype down to something meaningful in a post where she says:

"If I were a VC, the 'elevator pitch' I'd ask for would be simply: 'Tell me how this thing helps the user kick ass?' If you can't answer that, don't bother launching your power point."

Check the full post (with trademark cartoons and buzzword bingo) and find out why "engaging" and "inspiring" are what today's techies should be thinking (and talking) about.

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Monday, 05 December 2005 20:33:07 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Always wondered who that dude was talking to...

"The Worst Job Ever"
(Windows Media video - contains strong language, etc etc)

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Humor | Random Stuff
Monday, 05 December 2005 19:04:23 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Sunday, 04 December 2005

Air Combat USA planesIt takes a really gullible type to fall for one of my secret plans. Either that or someone who trusts me implicitly, misguided as that may be.

Along those lines, I didn't tell my friend David where we were going or what we were doing this weekend, just that I'd pick him up on Friday, that he should bring enough clothes for a couple days, and I'd have him back to his ship (he's in the U.S. Navy) in time for duty early Monday morning.

We try to do something crazy and insane once a year or so, and we were a bit overdue for this trip. I've actually been planning it for more than a year, at least in part. Without going into all the details, what matters the most if that Dave knew nothing of what we were doing on our trip (not even that we were flying to California) until we got to the location for each planned activity.

The plan included roller coasters, jousting dinner, visiting David's family in the area, and other fun stuff. But the real big event of the trip was on Sunday at the end of our stay in Orange County.

Dave and Greg at Air Combat USA (before Dave puked)On Sunday afternoon, to end the Secret Plan trip, we went to Air Combat USA in Fullerton, California. There we suited up, were briefed by former military pilots, and climbed into two high-performance military training aircraft, which we flew with the instructors for about an hour in some training maneuvers and six real-live dogfights. Gunsights, smoke and all. It was - to say the least - a blast. I can now say I know what it feels like to fly 5.5-G turns and that I did just that. Wow.

It's not cheap, for sure, but if it's something you've ever wanted to do, check our Air Combat USA on the web - - and give it a try.

Just be sure to keep the yak-bag handy. Dave's new call-sign is "Ralph," if that tells ya anything.

Above is a pic of Dave and I in front of one of the planes before we took off. Good thing we took the pic before we left - no stains on Dave's flight suit. Heh.

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Sunday, 04 December 2005 17:34:22 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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