Thursday, 30 March 2006

Google's got some beta UI changes kicking around in the background, and you can check them out yourself if you like. Here's how:

1. Go to

2. Copy and enter this line into your address bar:


3. Do a Google search and see the difference

Of course, if and when Google implements thes new UI changes, this tweak becomes useless. But for now it's fun.

Thanks, Trevin.

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Wednesday, 29 March 2006 23:21:20 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Thursday, 23 March 2006

If you ever end up at the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, be sure to rent a car. Especially if you fly into Terminal B (which is pretty much every flight that's not American Airlines (which is the airline that RULES the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex)).

Board the bus that delivers you to the rental car complex, and if you're lucky, it is there that you will meet Stewart.

Stewart is to rental car shuttle bus driving as Texas is to the rest of the United States - one great-big personality. From the second you meet him, it's apparent that Stewart is here to welcome you to the place where Everything Is Bigger™. He doesn't have a think drawl, but you can tell where he's from, if in no other way, by his personality, which is Big and Friendly.

I boarded the bus for my ride from the B terminal to the Avis desk, along with some other people and a whole slew of college-age guys sporting "North Carolina State Ultimate" garb. Who knew Ultimate (a game played with a flying disc and seven men on the field (and often incorrectly called Frisbee™ Football)) was a college sport? Well, it is.

Anyhow, Stewart saw the jerseys, too. After launching into a friendly and boisterous rendition of Helpful Hints for Visitors to DFW (which was very useful, BTW), he started a friendly over-the-loudspeaker conversation with the Ultimate guys and the rest of the passengers. He asked if they thought they'd be champions (and they said yes, of course). "Hey," asked Stewart, "do you want to hear a true story about the man who was perhaps the greatest sharpshooter ever?" Everyone (of course) said yes, and so he started to tell the story, which was approximately seven minutes long (and which, he explained, also happens to the the amount of time it takes to drive from B terminal to the rental car facility). It was clear that Stewart has a knack for telling stories and captivating an audience.

So - about seven minutes later, we got to the rental car terminal and as I stood up to get off the bus, I realized (seriously) that I'd completely forgotten to go to the baggage claim to get my suitcase when I got off my flight. I guess umpteen hours of flying and time zone changes incurred while crossing the Atlantic twice had baked my brain or something. I told Stewart what I'd done and laughed at myself, and he smiled and looked a bit concerned about me having to go back for my bag. Maybe he thought I had to be somewhere or something. No big deal, I told him - I'd just stay on the bus and ride back around and get my bag at the terminal. He looked a bit pained when he had to tell me he wished he could do that, but that I would have to go up to the upper deck and take the out-bound bus from up there. That last time he tried to return someone to the terminal on his bus, he'd gotten into some trouble.

Not a problem, I told him, and thanked him. He told me where to go and I located the upper deck access and then rode the bus back to Terminal B. I retrieved my bag after some searching and speaking with the United baggage office, then went back out to the curb to catch one of the buses back to the Avis desk.

Along came one of the buses, and off came a zillion people. When I climbed on, there was Stewart, smile on his face. We were the only people on the bus. "NOW," he exclaimed, "now you're ready for a rental car!" I laughed and agreed. "You want to hear a story?" he asked. "Yeah, but not the one about the sharpshooter," I said. He laughed and turned to me. "I have a repertoire, you know," he said. "Three stories. They're all about seven minutes long." And then he told me the story of Goldsmith Mare, perhaps the greatest race horse that ever lived. If you want to know the details, you can either Google for it or you can fly to DFW Terminal B and jump on the bus to go to the Avis counter. Maybe you'll be lucky enough (as I was twice in a row) to get Stewart as your driver.

My point is, EVERY airport should have people like Stewart. Hell, I'd fly to Texas and rent a car once a year or so, just to enjoy the seven-minute ride on the bus, along with a good seven-minute story and a smile.

Welcome to Texas. Thanks, Stewart.

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Thursday, 23 March 2006 18:53:19 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Wednesday, 22 March 2006

For the zillion of you who have asked me for Windows Live Messenger (note - this is for Live Messenger, not Mail!) invitations, Trevin says this link will let you sign up even without an invitation now.

Or, if you want to feel extra-special through personal treatment, email me (greg-at-greghughes-dot-net, you know) and tell me something about yourself - like where you are from and your name and something else interesting (not optional - seriously - share and share alike!) and I will hook you up personally.

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Wednesday, 22 March 2006 12:32:03 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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My co-worker, Milind, recently posted a link to the web site of Julian Beever, who does 3D pavement art and some other cool artistic stuff such as his wall murals.

Check it out - these 3D sidewalk sketches are way cool. Below are a few examples - and he has many others that are just as amazing. Clicking each image takes you to the artist's web site.


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Wednesday, 22 March 2006 12:13:02 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Heidelberg Castle - TopPrior to my business meetings today, I was able to spend a short time with my friend Florian here in Germany. His parents hosted me at their home and shared a bit of real, small-town Germany with me, including some of the food and customs. Florian took me all over the countryside to a few places, including a few that most tourists never see - off the beaten path, as they say. It was a great weekend, one that I will remember for many, many years.

The Heidelberg Castle is a common tourist stop, but we went there anyhow, and I am glad we did. It was actually the second castle we visited (the first one, Hardenburg, I did not have a camera for). It's a pretty amazing place, and we first climbed the hill on the opposite side of the river from the castle (called the Philosopher's Walk), which has a great view of the old city and the castle. Then we crossed the old bridge and walked through the city, then up 315 steep steps to the castle. Given my recent condition, this was a healthy climb, to say the least. But I made it.

Heidelberg at Night from the RiverFrom the top one can walk through the castle and see all sorts of interesting things. There's a huge wine barrel in a lower level of the castle - like huge as in you have to see it to believe it. And of course the architecture is amazing.

Actually, the smaller castle we visited the day before, called Hardenburg (follow link for pics), while smaller and relatively hidden away at the far end of a valley in the town where we stayed (in an area called the Rhineland-Palatinate), was probably more fun to explore because it's not heavily visited and almost every nook and cranny is accessible, with the exception of part of the lower levels. It's interesting to learn about the history of the construction - and periodic destruction, typically by the French armies - of these castles. The Hardenburg Castle was built sometime shortly after 1200 A.D. That's some serious history.

Limburg MonasteryAlso in the same area is the Limburg Monastery, on top of another hill across from the Hardenburg Castle. It is a large and spectacular ruin, as well. It's been added on to recently, so some of the structure is a little too modern looking, but luckily you cannot see it while walking the grounds, at least once you leave the parking lot. This is a huge structure, and was built in the 9th century. It was first a castle of sorts and then was converted to a monastery for Benedictine monks. It's an interesting and rich history - the Hardenburg Castle was actually built illegally on Limburg land by the governors who were responsible for protecting it, but it seems that did not make the Limburg residents happy. Read more here. As is typical, the history is colorful and full of interesting stories over the years.

If you even get a chance to visit Germany, be sure to take some time to get off the common paths followed by tourists. While the Autobahn is fun (for us Americans with our annoying speed limits and all that), taking your time by taking the back roads through smaller German towns to get to your destination is worthwhile. It's there that you get to see Germany in it's full color, not on the superhighway.

747 at Teknik MuseumWe also visited a museum that has lots of aircraft (including an actual 747 you can walk though and a whole slew of military aircraft from around the world), a U-boat, and many fine cars on display. An amazing selection of very cool items.

Thanks to Florian and his parents for a terrific few days - I hope have the opportunity to visit again soon. Germany is a beautiful country.

I'll post a few more pictures and some details shortly from the other stops and things we did along the way.

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Wednesday, 22 March 2006 11:42:37 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Saturday, 18 March 2006

Sure, it's nothing new, but this is the first flight I've been on that has Connexion by Boeing service on board. It's kinda cool - Using my WiFi card I get an access point on the plane that in turn lets me get to the Internet via satellite service.

Instant messaging works and obviously I can post to my blog. Latency is about what you'd expect from satellite service, but all in all this is a great way to get some stuff done on an eight hour flight.

By the way - I forgot to bring my digital camera with me on this trip to Germany. Go figure. If anyone has any suggestions on a digital camera to pick up over there (I'll have to figure out the power plug stuff when I get back) let me know. Can't believe I did that, heheh...

Speaking of getting stuff done, time to do some (real) work... I even got a VPN connection to the office - nice!

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Geek Out | Tech
Saturday, 18 March 2006 15:56:27 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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I had the pleasure of visiting the School of Science and Technology here in Beaverton, Oregon on Friday for the junior class career day. Along with a whole slew of other talented and much-more-interesting-than-me adults, I was able to converse with a wide variety of students about what they're about to face in their lives: Financial aid forms, the Real World™ and not really knowing what life has in store (but wishing they did).

It was a great time, and it gave me a chance to reflect on where I've been and how I got to where I am today. there have been many highs and lows in life along the way. But (and this is probably one of life's most important lessons) regardless of what all happens in life and why, I'm a better person for having experienced all the things that have happened around me over the years.

So, for the couple of you students who manage to find your creative and inquisitive ways to this blog, thanks for the opportunity and don't forget the open-ended offer: Send me an email or call me (the number is over there on the right) if you have more questions or want to see what the crazy world of software, Internet security, catching online bad guys, and IT is all about.

For everyone else: When was the last time you spent half a day at a local school talking with the students and staff? Everyone should do something like that at least once a year - participate in some event and give back a little of what you've got - your experiences, good bad or otherwise. Share it with the upcoming generation of geeks, actors, cops, lawyers, engineers, recruiters, sales execs, dentists, marketers, accountants, entrepreneurs, nanotechnology physicists, and rocket scientists. Call a school, give half a day. All you have to do is ask, and you might be surprised what you learn.

Okay. I'm outa here. Pray for WiFi on the airplane. Deutschland hier komme ich!

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Saturday, 18 March 2006 00:22:02 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Friday, 17 March 2006

I haven't posted much recently because I have been out of pocket quite a bit, and during the few days I've been in town and functioning normally, it's been quite busy for me. So, even though this blog's been quiet, I have quite a few things stacked up and waiting to be written. I'll get to them soon. Plus I think the slow down in writing is good for me for a little while. Creativity recuperation you might say.

Hopefully they'll have WiFi on the flight to Europe this weekend - that would make it easy to catch back up some. And easier to get some work done.

Meanwhile, I went and saw Scott Willis, one of our past IT interns where I work, in his school's performance of An Ideal Husband (by Oscar Wilde). Had a good time, and I am once again amazed at what young people can do all on their own when simply provided the opportunity and support when requested.

More to come soon. Hopefully some pics from Germany, too.

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Thursday, 16 March 2006 23:38:54 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Sunday, 12 March 2006

Microsoft has released the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 List Web Part. If you've started using CRM v3 and you have a SharePoint Portal of Windows SharePoint Services setup, you can use this web part to bring data from CRM v3 into your SharePoint pages to build dashboards and information pages for quick, at-a-glance data.

You can downloaded it here. From the site and the documentation, here is a brief overview:

The List Web Part for Microsoft® Dynamics™ CRM allows users to view their Microsoft CRM data from a Microsoft Windows® SharePoint® Services 2.0 page. The records are displayed in a grid that behaves similarly to the grid within the Microsoft CRM application. Users who have the proper privileges will be able to perform actions such as create and edit. It allows users to view Microsoft CRM records as a list from a SharePoint dashboard, open records in Microsoft CRM 3.0 from the list, and connect Microsoft CRM Web Parts to filter different lists.

Microsoft CRM security is maintained at the grid and record level. If the user does not have access to a particular record, it will not be visible in the grid. Likewise, if the user does not have privileges to view the entity configured, an error will be displayed to the user. The Web Part uses adaptive UI. For example, if the user does not have permissions to edit accounts, the Edit button will not be visible to the user.

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SharePoint | Tech
Sunday, 12 March 2006 16:13:45 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Saturday, 11 March 2006

Starting next week, I'll be healed enough to able to travel again. That's good, since travel is - relatively speaking - low impact, and because I'm scheduled to be several places around the world in the next few weeks for meetings and speaking engagements.

  • This week I'll be up at Microsoft in Redmond, Washington for some can't-really-talk-about-it-yet kind of stuff, and to meet with a few people up that way. I also have a surgery followup appointment with the doc. I'll be in Redmond Monday, Tuesday morning and Thursday. On Wednesday I'll be back home so I can see one of our recent IT department interns, Scott Willis, performing in a play called The Ideal Husband.
  • On Friday I'll be doing a community even and speaking at the School of Science and Technology in Beaverton, Oregon about my job and career with a group of high-school juniors interested in information technology careers.
  • On Saturday, I'm off to Frankfurt, Germany for some business meetings and I hope to catch up with a friend while I'm there. I'll arrive on Sunday the 19th and be there through Wednesday the 22nd. I took four years of German language classes in junior high and high school many years ago, and this will be the first time I've ever been to that country. I wonder how much of the language will come back to me?
  • Then it's back home to the USA, by way of a stop in Dallas. I'll arrive in Texas on the 23rd, and will be speaking on Monday during a session at Microsoft's Convergence conference - that's the big annual Microsoft business solutions event (now they call MBS their "Dynamics" product line). The topic of the presentation is Customer Relationship Management for service, and I've been asked to give some color commentary of the when's, how's, why's, pitfalls and process of complicated CRM and related projects along with a Microsoft partner we've done a lot of great work with, InterLink Group.
  • After a few days back at home, It's off to Orlando, Florida April 4th-6th, where I'll be speaking during a session at the Forward Financial Bank Security Forum on the topic of combating cybercrime and partnerships between private industry and law enforcement.

If you have plans to be in any of the same places at the same time, send me an email and let me know, and hopefully we can meet up -

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Saturday, 11 March 2006 23:03:13 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Tuesday, 07 March 2006

MDA Lockup LogoMy good friend and co-worker Simon is being his typically great self, and has accepted the fact that he's going to jail for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. This is a great chance to make a donation to bail him out (it's a tax deductible charitable donation, and if your company matches donations, even better! Hey Microsofties!). I've been locked up for MDA before, and my friends and colleagues have always come through for me and posted my bail.

And to all Corillian employees - I'm challenging you here and now to contribute!

Below is the information from Simon's campaign. I've already done my part and contributed to the cause - will you do yours? Even the smallest of contributions makes a difference, and it doesn't matter where you live or who you are. If you have any questions, let me know (email or comment here) and I'll get 'em answered for ya. Contribute as soon as you can - the deadline date is March 9th, just a couple days away!!

Mda_togetherThis year, I have the honor and pleasure of participating in MDA's Hillsboro Lock-Up 2006 to help "Jerry's Kids®". To reach my goal I need your help!

I'd like to include you or your company on my list of contributors who are helping me reach my goal. Your donation would help MDA continue the important fight against muscular dystrophy. Check out my web page by clicking on the link below. There you'll find all kinds of information about MDA, and be able to make your tax-deductible donation on-line using your credit card.

MDA serves people in our community with neuromuscular disease by providing clinics, support groups, assistance with the purchase and repair of wheelchairs, braces and communication devices, and summer camp for kids. MDA also funds research grants to help find treatments and cures for some 43 neuromuscular diseases that affect people of all ages, right here in our community.

I sincerely hope that you'll take the opportunity to support MDA.

Here's the link to donate!

On behalf of the families MDA serves, thank you!

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Tuesday, 07 March 2006 19:04:25 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Monday, 06 March 2006

Update: You can read all of my posts about my Kineflex ADR surgery at this link.

Many of you who read this know that I had back surgery recently. The surgery was an Artificial Disc Replacement at the L5/S1 level, with a Kineflex artificial lumbar disc. It's been almost three weeks, and my current assignment from the doc is plenty of rest (and so I am at home almost all the time), combined with walking as much as I reasonably can, but without overdoing it. I'll soon be able to go into work part of the time for very light duty. Right now I am able to do some work from home, which is one of the things that helps to keep me sane day after day.

Progress milestones while healing - big and small - really stand out in a recovery like this. I was able today - for the first time - to walk the half mile trek to my mailbox and back. It's the longest single outdoor walk I have done so far. I live at the end of a long gravel driveway, up and down two steep hills. As I was climbing the first hill and neared the top, it dawned on me that I was not slowing any, and that it didn't hurt!! Wow! By the time I got back to the house, I was quite worn out (exhausted, really), but no worse for the wear physically. Progress! Not to mention it's a great psychological milestone. Before the surgery I would have been staggering, clumsy and in pain before I got a hundred yards into it. Three weeks ago I was re-learning muscle movement just to walk at all for the first few days.

So, slowly but surly, getting better. I just have to make very, very sure I don't over-extend myself or bend the wrong ways (I am limited in certain motions for now), and I have to pace myself so I don't wear out. Unfortunately when I do wear out it happens quickly and I tend to crash from an energy standpoint. Other than that, I feel much better overall than I did before the surgery and, despite some surgical side effects that take time to work themselves out, I'm encouraged.

One of the things that has made this whole Artificial Disc Replacement surgery thing bearable is an online forum called the ADR Support Forum over at at ADR is a newer technology in the United States, although it's been prevalent in Europe and other places for many years. There are lots of great people on the forum who have either gone though ADR surgery or who are looking into it and wanting to find out more, so it was a great resource for me pre-op and it still is after surgery. Highly recommended for reading and participation if anyone is considering an ADR procedure.

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Monday, 06 March 2006 21:08:43 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Sunday, 05 March 2006

I noticed that the nominees for this year's Academy Awards in the "Best Live Action Short Film" category are downloadable on iTunes. Wow, so cool - I'm a fan of good film quality, and nothing beats the under-thirty-minute format for making a real impact, without the typical fluff and other Hollywood-formula junk.

So, I downloaded. And watched. And so here you go - my own impressions, which will hopefully inspire you to watch. It doesn't have to be in your local theater to be good. In fact, if it's in the local theater, well... Never mind. Let's just stay focused on these short films.

First of all, if you have iTunes and a spare $10 (like as in total - you can get them all for less than ten bucks), then my first suggestion is that you should download them and watch (links to iTunes music store). They range in length from about 14 to 28 minutes, there are five films in the category, and they're certainly worth watching. It makes for a great evening, and it's an easy, painless way to expand one's film horizons, just slightly.

The second thing is, you won't want to watch all of these with the little kids. There's nothing really gross or pornographic, but there is some explicit content (nudity, language and violence) in a couple of them, and the content in others can occasionally be a bit heavy or dark for some.

That said, here are five short films you should watch, and what I thought of each:

Our Time Is Up (in iTunes)

This is the story of an American psychologist who finds he has a short time left to live, and how that impacts his relationships with his patients. It's well-done and the main character is played by Kevin Pollak. I liked this film at times. It's funny in a smart kind of way, and it's well-shot and the direction is interesting. But in the end, something about it felt, well, thin. Kind of like the way fast food fills your stomach but leaves you wishing there was something more. Certainly worth watching, but probably not one I would vote for, given the competition.

Six Shooter (in iTunes)   UPDATE: Oscar Winner

From the opening line, this is a dark, confrontational Irish film, which won the Oscar in the category of Best Live Action Short Film. The story plays character off of character to show how people deal with death and emotion, and how those differences - in hyperbole - affect one another. It's a smart film, one that slaps your sensibilities in the face and challenges the viewer to stay with the film, in the same difficult way the characters either choose to stay or go, I suppose. This is one of the two short films that gets an explicit label, for the violence and language. Be forewarned - If you have a hard time with dark themes of death and violence, this one may not be for you. For me, knowing ahead of time was enough. It's well-shot and the direction is very good. A young actor named Ruaihidhri Conroy steals the scene later in the film. Be prepared for the violence and murder/suicide themes and you should do okay.

Cashback (in iTunes)

From the UK comes a great short that will leave you thinking and laughing. By the way, this is the other film that gets an explicit rating, but for a different reason: This time it's because of the camera imagery of the female body, and I will leave it at that. The contrast of the characters is very subtle and the premise if great. A young man works nights in a grocery store, and the film examines the others who work there and how the pass the time. It's clever and funny, very well-directed and filmed. Sometimes simple and clever combine in a writer's mind to create something special - this is one example. Again, there's full-frontal nudity in this (not really distasteful, just a hard-to-explain surprise if you're watching with the young kiddies) and that's not explained on iTunes specifically, so watch appropriately and all. I really liked this one, and I laughed out loud at the last line.

Ausreisser (The Runaway) (in iTunes)

This is a great film. Of them all, it's right up there with two others for my vote (If I had a vote, that is). This German film shows a one-day interaction between a boy and his father, who never knew he had a son and has never wanted one. But it's much more special than that, and writing anymore would just take away from the film itself. The little boy portrays the part well, the direction cuts the scenes craftfully to keep things moving effectively. It's a sad, happy, sad, happy, sad again film that leaves you wondering if it was really only 23 minutes long. Well-directed, well-acted and well-shot, the only people who won't like it will be those who find themselves sitting there at the end muttering to themselves "I didn't get it." I love a good smart, emotional, intimate and personal film about two people and what really matters, and this is it. Well done.

The Last Farm (in iTunes)

This film comes from Iceland and is an amazingly well-crafted set of visuals and character play that paints a vivid picture of a man in deep sorrow. You may know what's coming, but in the end, don't we all? I think that's the point, or at least it's one of them. This film does such a terrific job of conveying so many complex, intertwined messages in such a short time. It's very sad and quite touching. If nothing else, it shows the simultaneous detailed complexity and abstract simplicity of the human spirit and how one's spirit can be so tightly tied to another. Excellent film. (Note: the iTunes reviews seem to have some twelve-year-olds that are giving it one star because the preview is not helpful, which skews the overall rating of the film itself, which is quite positive) 

So, which one do I like best? Well, honestly the one that stands out in my mind the most is The Runaway. It's a personal story that connects. The others that I rated with five light bulbs (heh) are also terrific, and any of those I think should get the award. More important than which gets the Oscar, I think, is the fact that not enough people get to see these types of films. My intent here was not to convince someone which I think is best, but rather to convince people to watch all these great little films, ones that they otherwise might miss.

So, go buy your tickets - all of them for ten bucks - and watch!

If you happen to be in a really big city, you might be able to see them in a theater, too.

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Sunday, 05 March 2006 11:10:36 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Thursday, 02 March 2006

Okay, Dork fightclubI just have to say something here. I can't help myself. Like CBS hasn't already done enough to ruin things for us in its own studios, now it's reporters are taking it to the streets, too.

You know, Fight Club used to be cool, one of the best movies of the last several years for sure, then these guys have to go and freakin' ruin it.


Let me put it this way: This is to Fight Club as "What are YOU doing???" is to "WAZZZZUUUUUUP?!?!?!?"

Someone should go find these guys and kick some @*$ for real for breaking the first rule. Where's Tyler when you need him? Not to mention what this does for the image of software engineers in our world. That's it, might as well just give up now.

Alright, anyhow, back to our regularly scheduled programming...

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Random Stuff | Things that Suck
Thursday, 02 March 2006 17:52:00 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Wednesday, 01 March 2006

Want to know something about 25 powerhouse companies that are making big moves with the "next" wave of killer 'net apps? A list put together by Business 2.0 is a good place to learn more - The overall presentation and information summaries are well done.

Five list categories each showcase five leading companies, plus one "incumbent to watch." The categories are:


Check out the complete list here: The Next Net 25

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Wednesday, 01 March 2006 22:00:19 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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The DualCor cPC running Windows XP Tablet PC EditionDualCor will soon release their new cPC computer. Many are poised on the edges of their seats, waiting to see more, and many also can't wait to buy.

Digital Lifestyle Magazine has a new video with lots of good footage of the device being shown on by Steve Hanley, DualCor CEO. An external battery pack with 10 DAYS of battery life. Wow - cool.

See the video here and learn more about the new device.

Note: As mentioned here before, I am a DualCor technical advisor, so I am not exactly completely unbiased, but you have to admit, no matter what - this is great stuff.

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Geek Out | Mobile | Tablet PC | Tech
Wednesday, 01 March 2006 19:44:38 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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You see a link to and click it. What do you expect to see?



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Wednesday, 01 March 2006 19:18:58 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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