Thursday, December 04, 2003

Years ago there was a poem that people got on plaques and put up on the outside of the house by the door. I can't remember the whole thing (so I will spare you) but it went something to this effect: "No solicitation...I don't need whatever you are selling...if Sears and Roebuck doesn't have it - I don't need it!"

The techy 21st century equivalent is: "If AMAZON.COM doesn't have it - I don't need it!" Really, what is there that you can't at least get another site address from AMAZON to purchase? Everything from compressors to diamond rings to books and toys to clothing and vacuum cleaners? Wow. Even searching "sofa" brings me to links where I can purchase furniture online.

And what is everyone I know's favorite gift for themselves and others? You guessed it - an AMAZON gift certificate....OH YEA!

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Winter is upon us, and cold, and some snow squalls. Not too bad out there though, especially when the sun shines. This means knitting and reading as well as Mac upkeep. I am knitting a ridiculously simple shawl in a wonderful varigated blue-grey Homespun yarn. This is the only knitting I will do from now on. Just simple knit stitch over and over until I have shawls, throws, etc. And of course it is reading season.

I am finishing "Pictures from an Institution" (Randall Jarrell). It is not light reading. Both the form and the content require concentration and thought. Considering the pile of unread books I have, I would say I have reading for about ten years, without even purchasing any more books. Yet I know I will get more books. It is as the water flowing over the waterfall, it is as certain as the Spring, and as wonderful an adventure as any. It will be back to "Seven Pillars" for me after finishing "Pictures". I intend to immerse myself in "Seven Pillars" and then read a few books about Lawrence and the events of the time. Then maybe another Sax Rohmer for a break.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Back to Opera. I am now running Opera 7.23 in Windows XP. Mozilla, while nice, is too much to maintain, and Opera is still the best and fastest. All that I said about bloat is still unfortunately true, and I do pine for the slimmer version, but I did learn that one does not have to install in a profile. If you elect NOT to install for multiple users it is all installed into one folder as in the good old days. At least as far as I can tell in the little time I have searched. The best part is the election of only text ads. That is just so classy. No graphic monstrosities flying around from the browser, only from sites.

Now for a viable Opera product for Mac OS X and we're all set. But that may not happen any time soon. Safari is a good browser on Mac, but the speed of my Mac keeps going down with each new security upgrade and with more software installed. It "feels" like it is carrying a heavy load. And yes, I do use Cocktail and MacJanitor. There is probably more I can do but for now I am set. I do have about a GIG and a half of music on the Mac now - not that much by some standards, but more than needs to live there.

O.K....well, for some reason Blogger is very weird with Firebird. So out it goes. Back to Mozilla and my primary use of Opera 6. I love Opera 6. Seven is top heavy, complex, and worst of all - it installs in your PROFILE. I hate that. The slim, all in one folder browser that Opera made me love is gone, and that leaves no reason at all to use Opera, unless it is my old version 6. So I will continue to use that as long as I can, though at present I need Mozilla or IE to download to the windows PC. Opera crashes every time.

Monday, December 01, 2003

Playing around with Mozilla's Firebird browser. It reminds me so much of Opera in the good old days before bloat set in. So far so good. No faster than Mozilla, but I don't want or need the mail and composition features. Has a great look and functionality I need without the heavy lifting. So let's see how it goes. Using it on Windows XP.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

So, Blogger has tips on what to do if your Mom finds your blog...hahhhahha. How about if MOM'S the BLOGGER? I wrote a note suggesting Blogger give tips on how to handle it if your Mom or grandmother is the blogger. Heh. Now - on to more interesting topics.

Apple and iPod are a happy combination. Mine is now charging along side my eMac. I thought I had quite a bit of music there - from Jimmy Buffett to Shostakovich, but it seems I have only put about an eighth of what it can handle. The iPod needs a dock for certain, and a cover. It is so small and so shiny and slippery. I can see myself doing what I invariably did to the walkman when I used that, get up and forget you have the earphones on and pitch the little goodie across the room and unto the floor. I can't think that that would improve iPod workability.

Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and the menu is easy and set, memorized in the rolling passage of time, unchanging and comfortable. Going to rest, cook, clean up, watch the Macy's Parade, and do all the things that remind me of every Thanksgiving. I remember the Mess Hall years. Those are good memories. My father and mother and I went to the annual gala Thanksgiving banquet the Air Force Mess Halls provided at Plattsburgh A.F.B. and even at Torrejon in Spain so many many years ago. Nuts, oranges, turkey, stuffing, candy, and all the rest, all of away from "home" yet we "brats" were home. I am thankful for family, friends and a warm home and a fine place to work. I wish my grandchildren the same good life.

Sunday, November 23, 2003

Did I ever mention that Apple should be selling the new OS, Panther, at a lower price? Especially if you bought your Mac in the last YEAR, not six months? Well, I think if more people let them know that there could be a response. After all - marketing is the thing, and keeping your fanbase, as it is in Mac, as well as your customer base are important for future sales. With Educational Pricing of course it is less, but maybe it should be less for all. So far I enjoy 10.2.8's stability. So perhaps I will wait awhile for all the bugs to be worked out of Panther, although I hear it is one great OS!

On the PC side, I have to admit again that XP is the most stable Windows OS I have ever worked with. At home I find no problems with the Home version, and support of it seems painless. At work the Professional version is also working out much better than I would have expected. I don't like Outlook though, and would never use it at home.
To my amazement I own an iPod. Now to get all the goodies! Well, maybe not so fast. First to arrange everything in iTunes just the way I want it, then upload to iPod. Then to figure out the ramifications of using the iPod for backup data. That's really the nifty thing about the iPod - I was thinking of the tiny FlashHopper or DiskOnKey for something to get "later" but now I think I am all set. Lots of learning to do yet, though.

Maccentral is a great place to get all the Mac news - be in the know!

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

IMPRINT has proven to be a great little program. I had trouble with printing the labels at first and I suspected my HP DeskJet with good reason. Since I got the printer with my Mac I thought it would be flawless in functionality - boy was that wrong. The drivers didn't really catch up with MAC OS X until now. When my labels didn't print I went to HP and found drivers from last month and installed them and that solved the printing problem. I think printing is just so basic. Why would OS X have come so very embryonic into this world? It did though, and wasn't even really stable until 10.2.6, and when I came over from the Windows OS I thought I would find the same level of development. I didn't. I do love my Mac though but honestly - Apple really needs to provide the functionality on a more professional level when they release software - you cannot expect people to constantly download new versions of the OS until the thing is finally stable. I am not going to Panther until the beta testing is done by all those folks out there who are buying it now. Of course I do know that each update has the potential of newer and better bugs!

Friday, October 24, 2003

Now - back to techy info. Nisus Writer Express 1.03 is out - nothing here to really entice me to upgrade yet. A few bug fixes for bugs I never encounter. I am waiting for the BIG ONE. A real upgrade with some features added. I am patient.

Last night I installed, and even PAID FOR, Imprint - a nifty little program to make labels from Mac Address Book. Now to enter all the data in my Address book. I love to churn out labels, and the Mac has proven difficult to do that with. I see that in Panther, they have added this functionality to Address Book itself. I guess that puts the small shareware programmers out of one more program. Sorry to see that happen, but the label functionality is really basic, and Appleworks was the only possibility, and that one a very convoluted one. Not that WORD made labels really easy. You are (were?) constrained to make a whole sheet so you had to trick it into printing a sheet of different addresses, for example for Christmas Cards. But in Address Book printing of labels on the Mac I can now use Imprint and print a label alone in any position on a label sheet or print a whole sheet of one address or a whole sheet of different addresses just selected from Address Book. Imprint will also adjust the fontage to your address length, and that is really a cool little touch! Imprint from Ampersandbox.com.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

After seeing Adrian Brody in "The Pianist" I decided then and there that he would be perfect as Joe Kavalier in "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay." So if you read this, Michael Chabon, I hope you agree. Now, I know there isn't much chance anyone will actually read this, but the idea is out there. In the bio on IMDB it says Adrian dabbled in a bit of magic as a youth. Again, a perfect fit for the role.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

What I love about blogging is that I can say only what I want to say - no need to go on and on in case someone doesn't know the background of a topic, no need to embroider. If it is interesting to anyone else, that's nice, but if no one else ever reads it the thoughts remain as a tiny bit of the cerebral flotsam of the time in any case.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

I can't believe we are asking and getting Turkish troops in Irag and we have the utter gall to refer to them as "Peacekeepers." Oh my. Ask the Kurds what sort of peace this is. Not the kind I'd want. There is a history there.
Meanwhile, Arnold is now governor of California! You just never know. America and the Democratic Process never cease to amaze. No reason in the world why he should not do as good a job as any professional politician. I haven't been totally convinced that the wheels of government don't turn more on the process itself and on the Civil Service than on any one elected official. Historical waves seem to come and go and people act within them, unaware of the influence of a sort of mass psychology. And now as we see the dominance of the Baby Boomer generation slowly crumbling, and the dreams of Democratic deliverance of our people out of Egypt (metaphorically) failing badly, perhaps we see a wave of historical return to individualism. Slowly but surely more people seem tired of rhetoric. And lets face it, the Democrats promised a perfect society sometime in the 1960s and it surely has been awhile and no amount of money thrown around has seemed to improve education, or poverty and has certainly NOT reduced crime and social chaos.

Friday, October 03, 2003

Oh, I should add that the music of Wladyslaw Szpilman, the pianist of the film, is available on two albums at Amazon.com, "The Pianist: Original Recordings by Wladyslaw Szpilman - Fryderyk Chopin (Composer), et al; Audio CD" and "The Original Recordings of the Pianist [IMPORT]," and of course the soundtrack form the film is also available, and a wonderful album it is.
Have I mentioned the movie "The Pianist?" How wonderful and lyrical it was? Of course it was one individual story of one man's survival. The scene near the end when the German officer simply says "play something" was the heart of the film. Indeed, the playing then is a triumph of the human spirit over evil.

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

After finishing "Scoop" on Friday, I finally and reverently picked up "Wonder Boys." Michael Chabon can't write books fast enough for me. Every platitudinous remark ever made, all the hyperbole ever given breath to about a writer is true of Michael Chabon. Great, funny, moving, lyrical, poetic, fun, amazing, ironic: all this and more. Very different from "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay," and written before that opus magnum, still "Wonder Boys" delivered adventures and ridiculous situations to surprise, sadden and amuse me. I had already seen the movie, and I have to say that the movie delivers the feeling of the book amazingly well. Oh yes, I finished "Wonder Boys" last night, now to go backwards again and buy and read "The Mysteries of Pittsburgh."

Even if J.K. Rowling and Michael Chabon don't write another word, I will have been privileged to live in their time.
Finished "Scoop." Evelyn Waugh was able to capture journalism in its most twisted form. I am not sure today that all the events in this book could be brought off. We live in the age of video and live broadcasts. However, that probably just makes MAKING THE NEWS somewhat more challenging. "Scoop" still carries a wallop.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

WOW...Apple pulled the 10.2.8 upgrade. Too many user problems right off the bat. Oh well. I can wait on anything new anyway!
Apple has a new version of Jaguar out. 10.2.8! I must have missed 10.2.7? So - compufun in the works for the weekend. I also need the newest version of GraphicConverter. It is a superb program, and my version is a bit outdated. I find there are many more updates and tweaks in the common use of Macs. The mindset seems to be to get all the newest versions, and the bug problem seems so much less. in a Winsystem you always have to think about how a new version can discombobulate your present software (or even your drivers), and as a rule there is always some punishment for each "upgrade," and some troubleshooting fun to be had after you add something. In the Mac OS, this seems so minimal, I haven't had the problem at all so far. I have downloaded a few programs that didn't seem stable and instantly trashed them. That's another beauty of the Mac OS. You can pull stuff to the trash and have the program gone after just a few files are removed from the preferences folders.
Freedom is at hand. I finished "The Heat of the Day." Now I can concentrate on Evelyn Waugh for awhile, and then finally get to the prize. I need to read "Wonder Boys." After "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay" I had to measure my reading of Michael Chabon because I think he is the greatest writer alive today, and I could easily zip through his work and then have to wait while he gets around to writing more! I have the book "Wonder Boys" and have longingly picked it up several times, only to remind myself to finish every other book I started.

I briefly considered entering the race for governor of California, even though I live in New England, but what the heck, I don't have the time with all the reading I have to do. I thought I may as well run because everyone else is running, but then I thought what a waste of time being governor of California would be. A person might win, what a stroke of bad luck.

Monday, September 22, 2003

The hurricane has come and gone, even leaving downed trees in New England! Now Fall is coming on, leaves getting red, orange and yellow slowly while the temperatures remain livable outside. If winter didn't come right after Fall, I would enjoy Fall much more.

I have decided that Elizabeth Bowen's writing is among the most tedious. I am still plodding through her book, "The Heat of the Day". If I do not let myself read anything else, it is even more difficult. Her sentence construction is convoluted and ambiguous, and the narrative often winds around some introspective philosophical digression and then twines back to the remnants of the story. It is not really a character driven story, but rather a philosophical tome. In some ways her writing is evocative of Virginia Woolf.

What keeps me going is the overall ambience of the book - the "feeling" of deadened feeling. WWII must have cast a dismal pall over Britain because victory was not insured, and many were very frightened of the future, while fighting valiantly in any way, even small, to stave off the enemy. This feeling is manifest on a personal level by the few characters, including the City of London, whom she has allowed to take shape.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Hurricane Isabel is slowly but inexorably moving toward North Carolina. Now the eye is on a trajectory heading straight for Raleigh-Durham and my grandbabies. This was a huge storm but is now category 2. It could get larger or smaller. I am watching it hourly. Preparations are in gear down there in NC, and I hope it misses all land, but this probably isn't going to happen. Oh for the monolithic dome home - the perfect home.

Monolithic Dome "Eye of the Storm"

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Yesterday late afternoon and into the night I finally got to see "The Four Feathers." First I watched all the "special features" which were all monologues from the director with a bit here and there from the screen writer. I appreciated this sequence of events after I viewed the entire film. Without the opportunity to see and hear the director, I would not have been attuned to the undercurrents of this film, nor probably to the musical interplay amoung the scenes.

Lots of reviewers panned it, and lots of reviewers liked it. The superficiality of the panning reviews is incredible. Apparently they were watching some other film because some reviews leave out Abou, and most seem to be totally unaware of this movie as "parable" and as the surrealistic episodic film it is - the desert portions are surreal and Abou appears as an angel in the oddest places. He comes and goes - there is no explanation of HOW. We westerners with out LINEAR discourse style have very little patience with the circular development of Eastern discourse, and we want HOW spelled out. Thus it is no surprise that reviewers have missed the flow of this story. If you allow yourself to see this film as it unfolds in front of you, and you allow yourself to listen without a linear frame of reference, or impatience, you will see that the story of Abou and Harry is the heart of the film, and that the journey Harry makes is within more than without, and Abou is the only way he can make this journey. One reviewer wrote that the Abou character has no believability and is false - he says, in fact, "What's in it for Abou?" Well, Abou is not motivated by that sentence, he is ruled by destiny, and destiny placed Harry in his path, and with that comes responsibility. Once the choice is made to help Harry, Abou has taken on that responsibility for life. A foreign concept to the Western world, but not to many peoples of the East.

"The Four Feathers" is a beautiful film, I recommend it.

Friday, September 12, 2003

WOW. New Blogger option to spell check! This has been needed. Careful editing is always a good thing, but spell checking provides the last word. So to speak. More new options as well make this an interesting journey. WAIT - for now the URL is not found. Maybe my browser? Who knows.

Thank goodness - Friday! Glad to see it come because I want to spend the weekend doing some much needed work around the house and watching several DVDs. HHHHmmm...which will come first, and which will get done?

I see Apple is being sued by the Apple Corps who are the Beatles parent company, or owner or however it is delineated. Seems Apple agreed not to go near the music business and the suit is not the first. There must be money in the "music business!" Interesting to watch this develope.

This week has seen a plethora of MS updates to our software at work. Security holes being patched, new virii sigs galore. Sigh. meanwhile - did I upload the *monthly* new Norton sigs for my Mac? I have to see about that...I keep forgetting about Norton on the Mac. Wonder why that is...:) Can't get too complaisant though, you never know.

Monday, September 08, 2003

Go to Applelinks and read "Grack." The writing is amusing, fast-paced and excellent. The pictures are of God's own country. And to top it all off, this guy is an Air Force Brat.
Monday morning coffee sitting on the desk beside me, and I am waking up slowly. It was an interesting weekend. Had one of those fits of organization where you go and look at your "wardrobe." That's what I call it, yea. So quite a few old things are history now, sitting in the Salvation Army sorting center. Had to reorganize the cupboards in the kitchen to accomodate the new water-heating-device-with-cord which I prefer to sit on the counter in readiness. All is now efficiently arranged. Nothing is like the thrill of saintliness you get from organizing, cleaning, sorting and removing. We all have too much "stuff" in our lives and homes. No doubt about it. I have too much stuff. Probably going to keep on having too much stuff. I do have a finite space for books, so when I go beserk and buy books I have to sort out some already on the shelves. Ditto CDs. If you don't get a grip and cycle through the stock, you are immersed in a sea of possessions.

Friday, September 05, 2003

Saw "Happy Texas" one more time the other night. Always a fun viewing. I am beginning to think we should just rent the movies we know are good because we've seen them. Taking a chance these days just might get you one horrid evening of film.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

Worms eating their way through the internet. Our web is down at the college. All week so far, and this is Thursday. Mail only sporadic. Network really slow, and by really slow I mean almost unresponsive. I am getting a bit withdrawn, and not very enthused about the non-reception of email. It's the start of the school year, and I always forget the numbers of students in this metro area. With three colleges in town the numbers of internet users spikes tremendously in September. Should not come as a surprise to the local IT people. Phooy. Good thing I have a trusty modem at home and can POP the mail. Sometimes that works, sometimes it does not. And of course it goes without saying that having a Mac is a nice touch as well, especially in these wormy times.

Spent the money to register Nisus Writer Express. Now, I hope it gets some enhancements in version 1.1, coming out very soon they say. I would like the WYSIWYG font list, but that's not the top of the list. The ability to save as a PDF would be nice as well. This word processor is very very smooth. A nice "feel" and a good touch. You can also make the actual text area as wide as your screen if you want to. I like a nice sized window for my text, and you cannot get this with Appleworks or with Mellel as far as I could tell in my trial of that software. I didn't want MSWord for Mac, so I looked for another word processor with a variable text area, and Nisus Writer Express fills the bill.

If we register Mac software we encourage the developers. Go to it people!

Friday, August 29, 2003

Children are such little PEOPLE. A little voice says: "Daddy, I need in the office to get my drink..." OH SURE - another ploy to get into the office and "help" Daddy. The little guy wants to WORK. It seems so exotic, WORK - it's what Daddy does...oh the sultry oriental pleasures that lurk behind the door to the OFFICE....Daddy calls his bluff by saying:"Pick up your drink" and the little head twists around to look back downstairs....ah HA! Busted....

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Reading Evelyn Waugh again. "Scoop" is really ironic. Hysterical irony at every turn. Waugh just makes a statement - no explanation, and I role in the aisle. Laughing out loud while reading on the back deck has the effect of making me seem a bit mad. Well, I suppose there may be substance to that impression.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Learning to take pictures again because my old TLR camera has no working light meter. Needs a mercury battery. Mercury batteries have been banned in the U.S. I am trying to master (which is in this instance means get to a level above crap) exposure control by eyeball. In the old days, when I was a kid, I had a Zeiss Ikonta. Folding bellows and all. Not only did you eyeball the exposure, you had to cock the shutter. I sold the Zeiss, complete with huge flash unit, when the ZOWEEEE new Kodak Instamatics came out (1965)because they were point and push and had photoelectric cell exposure meters. At least the one I bought did (what did I DO with that camera?) So - the skill of exposure setting has left the database of my brain, and practice is all that will restore some of those skills. Today's films seem to operate on a wide latitude. My latest roll came back today, and the prints all look well exposed no matter what the aperture setting as long as it was WIDE. "Rule of sunny 16", and then open her on up seems to do the trick! More like the "Rule of sunny f8" here in the Northeast.

Monday, August 25, 2003

So the Farmer's Almanac says we are to have a cold, miserable, long, snowy New England winter. Just for a second this appeals - after the heat wave we had just a week and a few days ago. But then, thinking back to cold, miserable, icey, snowy dark winter, my heart plummets to my socks and I remember taking those vacation days instead of driving on the worst days. Winter is so long here, and so dark. I photocopy the months from December to April from the Almanac, just the parts where the sunrise and sunset stats are listed. Then I check off the days as it gets lighter and lighter minute by blessed minute. There is a short while in December where I go home from work around 3:30pm to get on the way by dark and be home in the twilight, and then in the summer I leave work at 5:50PM in the light. The worst of the Winter is the dark, and the best of the Spring is the light.
I downloaded Nisus Writer Express Demo last week and have been using it. Except for the stupid "watermark" on the last printed page, which is really a pain because it is actually several diagonal lines down the entire page, this is a really nice beginning of the new word processor. I love the feature of a flexible writing area like MSWord has, and I don't want to buy WORD. Mellel and Appleworks both have a small writing area reminiscent of the old Mac with a tiny screen. Nisus Express is flexible and has the coolest slide-out preferences and formatting screen. In addition it is much more intuitive to use than the above mentioned programs. I have been using Microsoft WORD a long time now and before that - Word Perfect. Having used Appleworks since I became a Mac user, I was looking for something sleek, faster, and more flexible specifically for word processing, and I think Nisus Writer Express is that program.

I had questions about the registration and upgrades, so I wrote the support address an email. Within the morning I had an answer to my query. Very pleasent and prompt response, which I truly enjoyed seeing. This will be the only the second major software I have purchased for my Mac - the only other real purchase has been GraphicConverter and my several-button mouse! Now, a nice, affordable ice white Mac USB ergonomic keyboard might be nice - nothing out there fills that bill entirely.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Too much violence in the news. Middle East hot spots as usual added to the rest of the hodgepodge of cruel humanity. Would that we would not be deluged with bad news. Would that everyone had learned not to make a mess and then kept to that advice. Ruling out any mess would always rule out hurting people, leveling people's homes, and general mayhem of all sorts.

Watched "StarTrek: Nemesis" last night. Excellent. Better than several of the other "StarTrek" films have been. Data lost his "life." And in so doing he became more human and more hero than most humans ever do. He "laid down his life for a friend" to quote scripture. The entire verse goes: "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." (Jn 15:13). I was very surprised that the film didn't offer more homage to Data gone than they did. Of course they have a new android who is Data's "brother" so the actor keeps on in the same general role and more development is now possible again of the android character.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

It is now almost the end of today and the lights are slowly coming on in the vast area affected by the 4:00PM blackout of '03. I checked the email forum for my email service of choice, and there were carping comments about the unavailability of the email service. Now the main servers for our service - a small one in comparison to many better known brands - reside in New York City. Some people felt that "backup plans should have been made" and that the outage was apparently a major problem in their lives hour by hour. You know, given that this is the largest rolling blackout ever, and that Cleveland to New York to Toronto to Sudbury, Ontario, for Pete's sake, had power out, you would think checking your email was not the top priority. Granted, some was business related, but really, half a day and one night - maybe people should examine their lives and find a good book to read when they can't read their email. In fact, I guess they just must have fuller, more exciting email lives than I do! I checked my Yahoo mail just now. I got several spams, and one mailing list post. So I am going to go watch "House Hunters" on HGTV and let the excitement carry me away. I can read that other mail when they have it up and running tomorrow!

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Sunday past comics section - Doonesbury concerned itself with the very real problem of "Blogger-block." It has affected me the past few weeks, probably due to the inertia caused by sitting basking in the mugginess. As ideas hit me, I will respond, though if they hit me hard enough I can probably be found sleeping. There is an old saying: "When I works, I works hard, when I thinks, I goes to sleep." Lately this has been true, except perhaps for the "working hard" part. Just joking.
The "dog days of summer" are here. Muggy weather for as far back as we can remember now. Some promise of a break tomorrow. Meanwhile, talk about OLD news, there is another vulnerability in Microsoft OS. So go get that patch, or is it those patches, and upgrade those virii sigs.

Monday, August 04, 2003

Well, Monday. Monday in August...home and work, a humid cloud over the day. Days like this were made for rocking on the veranda fanning while you sip a non-caloric diet lemonade. Certainly not the day for exertion. My my.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

On a lighter note, the Summer flows onward with relentless progression toward the Autumn of the year. For now though, the days are warm and the feeling is Summer. Took a lovely little trip on a Lake in New Hampshire, and was thrilled to see a bald eagle for the first time, and loons for the second time. Look around you and see something new.

"You learn something new every day!" --Isabel Marie Rosendahl Gibbs.
Observing the general populace of computer users, it seems so common for people to print out the world. Why, oh WHY do people print out all their email, and then go on a websurfing expedition and print out everything they see there? Wasn't the digital age supposed to make us "cyberaware" and "paperless"? Oh my. The gross waste of paper and ink in homes, offices and (especially) institutions of higher learning across the globe must reach an appalling measure. Back it up, save it on a CD, a diskette, a ZIP, whatever, but please refrain from printing every last item no matter what the infinitesimal worthlessness of the information.

Saturday, July 26, 2003

Great news! Netscape is gone, but a new foundation lives! AOL is providing 2 million dollars to support a Mozilla Foundation to assure continued development of the Mozilla browser open source for multiple platforms. This is exciting news, and news which makes the future of browsing look better than it did last week.

Saturday, July 19, 2003

Now, the price of coffee. Why is decaf so much more expensive? And what is there about the little bean that makes Starbucks and Green Mountain Coffee that is so special when compared to the little bean that makes Folger's? Ahhhh...these are questions worth the pondering! How much is hype and how much is real. I know that Green Mountain Coffee Roasters is really good coffee. French Roast, that's coffee, but the best is Kenya AA. Oh my. But, I don't turn down the odd cup of Folger's French roast either, though, and the whole bean (ground in-store and taken home) makes a superb brew.
Browsers now that Netscape is going the dodo way. Well, I still use Opera 6.06 on my Windows XP machine at work. MUCH better than having to slog through IE. Opera is slimmer and faster, but I don't like version 7. Your screen real estate has shrunken to dangerous proportions in 7, and your icons are like fat beginner pencils. Plus the enclusion of an unneeded and (to me) unwanted mail program has finally done me in as far as Opera is concerned. I haven't even tried it on the eMac. No more paying for Opera.

Meanwhile in eMac-Land I use Apple's Safari exclusively. The release of Safari 1.0 has improved the experience. It has a lot of Opera's good points, as in speed, bookmark ease, multiple windows and tabbing. I like the look as well.

IE is just so slow. On the PC it is even slow on a fast network. Cumbersome one might even say. But now and then you need something that IE handles well, so I always have it on hand.

Friday, July 18, 2003

On the Demise of Netscape - From another thinker:
Think of all the successful open source projects that do not have AOL or some similar gorilla backing them! Apache, PHP, and the big one - LINUX! :) All these succeeded in the same shoes the mozilla folks find themselves in now. Or worse. I feel bad for them for losing their jobs, I hope their families are not to negatively affected. I am not too worried about Mozilla though.

Interesting timing, there has been talk of revolt and rebellion in the Mozilla camp for a while, they were due for a shakeup. Mozilla is not finished because open source projects are never finished. Windows and IE are not finished, MS just will not admit it. Linux is certainly not "finished". I'm sure Mozilla will be fine. It's the main browser for Linux and if IBM, SUN, HP and those guys (plus most of Europe and Asia) want Linux to displace Windows on the desktop (and they do) then someone will be taking good care of Mozilla, believe you me.

My own observations:
Well, I do hope those guys get a company together and keep the Mozilla fan-base. It is one thing though that needs a person to know more than the usual to get it downloaded and on the machine and all that talk of "builds" scares people. I sure am sorry they lost their jobs, and I am especially sorry AOL bought Netscape and then AOL was acquired by Time-warner and they booted Steve Case. He liked Netscape and he built AOL and was a success...Time-Warner is going to kill AOL if they are not careful and that would be a shame - it is one huge compu-comapny.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Finished Evelyn Waugh's "Decline and Fall." Sad, funny, ironic and entertainingly scathing look at his times. Probably our times as well. Crumbling and amoral British society after WWI, rather like a dark Wodehouse. Bertie Wooster makes a more lively and less depressing read. Still, for some reason I like Waugh's books. This makes the fourth I've read in the last several years.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

How far North are fire ants? I just read on a Texas website that one must not put harmful chemicals or pesticides in the water meter to kill fire ants. Apparently this is not an uncommon occurance. Fireants in the water meter. Puts our local problems into perspective. But, should that problem plague you, pour boiling water down the ant hills. Maybe you run then too, it didn't say. I think I would. These are the sorts of things I categorize as general thoughts.

Monday, July 14, 2003

Property taxes and the cost of school systems. We started to expect too much from the schools in the nineteen-sixties. Legislatures passed requirements that have in effect made the schools responsible for far more than education, and the costs have skyrocketed. Then educators started padding schools with all sorts of ephemeral programs, all of which cost more and more, and parents began expecting and demanding more of the teachers and the school in terms of everything from extraneous subjects to babysitting functions. Most of the embellishments were programs which we all liked having for our children, but which if examined in the light of today's budgetary constraints would be found not crucial educationally.

Meanwhile property taxes are getting to the point of being riduculously out of control. When the property tax is almost what a years worth of house payments comes to we should take a look at our methods of schooling and funding for same.

In our state one could envision one school board at state level overseeing all the schools, yet getting this through the legislature and the people of the state would be impossible. Centralizing schools and budgets would certainly be a better way then the present local control of almost every school at intervals of twenty miles down each road, and all those school boards and sets of administrators. Food for thought.

The basic philosophy of education has also changed. Schools should not be tools of social change, school are historically there to provide the cultures they serve as conduits for those cultures and as sustaining forces from generation to generation. The mandate for change started in the sixties has been engrained in our educational system and in some cases seems to have stamped out the mandate for educating our children.

Friday, July 11, 2003

Some poor woman, A.S. Byatt, a British writer, has dared to critique J.K. Rowling and poor Harry Potter for not being cerebral enough. Her criticism seems to flow out onto the general populace and its inane pastimes, as well as into the halls of academia, where she accuses higher education of watering down the literature of the ages with popular culture and cultural studies. It does read like the "younger generation is going to the dogs" attributed to Socrates. I agreed with the points about cheap junk on television, in the movies and in popular press, but that is nothing new, just new media for junk. In her defense it should be said that in Britain one does have the freedom of speech, and she has a right to her own opinions. The resulting flap is one she no doubt expected after attacking a popular icon of the age. Harry Potter still remains one of the best series of books to come out of anywhere in a long long time, and I look forward to my turn at book 5.
The Medical Center has settled with the nurses! This is great news. The nurses were being asked to take a reduction in pay, and to continue the short staffed, mandatory overtime milieu in which they have been working for a long time. All for the sake of the hospital cost-cutting brought on by overages in the cost of new construction. That's putting it in a nutshell. The new contract with the nurses union will set new work rules immediately. No mandatory overtime, something which is needed to insure good patient care. I could never understand mandatory overtime. Overtime is, by its very nature, more than is required, thus mandatory is a word I cannot apply. Back when I worked in nursing overtime was sometimes necessary to insure continuity of care, but never were the staff told it was mandatory. Also in place will be staffing ratios of 5 patients to one nurse, and a one to one ratio in the ER. I should hope the ICUs also have more R.N.s. Apparently this contract may be the benchmark for hospital in the Northern New England area. Go nursing staff!

Thursday, July 10, 2003

MacWorld finally - in the new issue I got yesterday - decided to grudgingly admire the eMac, but not too much - refers to it as squat and things like that - a workhorse for schools...I think they should aim it right smack at the general comsumer who buys a dell or gateway to do email, internet and save and share pictures. And of course listen to and record music!

Then, MacAddict came and again - it features the eMac! Tests show that the new 1GigRAM eMac can hold its own! Good to know. They did however, refer to the eMac as a "behemoth." I take umbrage.

Most Mac stuff is very high-end user and that fact helps account for the smaller sales figures. At least that is the impression I get from reading the Mac publications...they are very professionally oriented.
The eMac could be Apples gateway (excuse the pun) to a larger general user base. DO YOU HEAR ME STEVE????? I would aim an ad campaign right out there at the home PC crowd featuring the smaller footprint of the eMac - the all-in-one feature that first attracted me! To a Windows user the eMac *IS* a small footprint, even though to a Mac user I would suppose the iMac is the point of reference.

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Another thought hit me at lunch. We were talking about money and what people with a lot of it do with it, not from our own personal experience of course! In the course of the conversation I recalled that Bill Gates and his wife have given many thousands, even millions to chartities, and to institutions including Duke University. How much I appreciate this fact, as Duke is close to the hearts of my family - at least the Medical Center is.

People with money could decide to spend it all on themselves rather easily, even with the untold weath some possess, so sharing the wealth with others shows the sort of character that could ultimately lead to a better environment for the technical world as well (reminds me of open source sharing, although wealth is seldom open source!).

Added tidbit - today Microsoft changed its employee benefit from stock options to actual stock. That's a good sign. HHmm.....shall I hope for a better tomorrow? Maybe so...

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Meditating on the ways I use the eMac "different." First, I find that after waiting for troubleshooting occasions as I was used to doing on my PC, I feel alone. Except for a few niggly items, I find no need for the expectation of trouble. Oh, last week I generated my first kernel panic, but that was probably due to my having opened about 6 programs all at the same time while online. I was trying to upgrade my website "live" and do some graphic mainpulation for it at the same time, as well as Appleworks and an editor open, and my browser. So that I can explain. No trouble since a reboot from that escapade. The eMac, like I have learned from reading the Mac pubs that all Macs do, does like to hog memory. I have a paltry 256RAM, and am looking at the possibility of adding more. This assessment is after she reached her five months birthday yesterday.

So, how is life-on-the-Mac different? I boot up and do what I want to do - I web, I write, I play with photos, I listen and buy music and burn the odd CD. In a word, I USE the eMac instead of doing my former hobby which was maintaining and tweaking and cleanup on a Windows PC. I estimate the time needed for that on a PC to be about 1/3 of the time on any system. maybe it will be better with XP. As I now use an XP machine at work (three weeks new, I will coment later on that. Give the machine a few months).

An observation - why is it that I read so much in the Mac pubs about Microsoft Applications? I guess if you are a Mac user from way back maybe you have dulled your brain on the issue, but I didn't buy my Mac to run Windows!! If you want to run Windows - get a PC. There are a lot of pluses about the WindowsXP OS. I reached the pinnacle of dismay tonight when reading the review of MSN for Mac OS X in a new issue of one of my MacMags. I mean really. Do I want to be a client - to PAY Microsoft and be another appendage of the empire? I think not.

If you have an Apple Computer, learn to use Appleworks, and unless you really need to use Microsoft apps on your Mac for your daily bread, don't do it. Support open source, find an office program that you can use, do all you can to make APPLE and compatible open source applications appealing to others, and maybe a tiny voice for choice will prevail.
On a lighter note, I have finally finished the Ludlum Bourne trilogy. Now on to "Topper" and "Decline and Fall." First though, I have a "Mrs. Pollifax" book to finish. "Mrs. Pollifax and the Hong Kong Buddha." Dorothy Gilman is hands down a better writer than Robert Ludlum as far as editing and linguistic flow go. Somehow Ludlum was best at fast edgy violence, but after a few books, the need to skim the wordy boilerplate of corn that he inserts at the oddest moments begins to take away the thrust of the action. He is not adept at dialogue. Editing out a good 100 or so pages would have done "The Bourne Ultimatum" a world of good.
I am sitting here reading Yahoo News and pondering the fate of the Iranian conjoined twins. How very sad it is that they died in surgery. On the positive side, the story of their lives and the doctor who adopted them is sobering. The little girls were hospitalized, then in the Islamist revolution, they vanished. When their father, a village farmer, finally found them they had been taken in and adopted by a doctor who found them abandoned in a hospital with staff who refused to care for them. He raised the girls as his own daughters, and they convinced their natural father (who wanted them back) that they were better off than working in a village, a life they would never have been able to sustain. That their adopted father would reach out in kindness and give them life is both a testimony to goodness in this world, and an opportunity to reflect on possibility for a common understanding between good people no matter where they find their lives unfolding.

Friday, July 04, 2003

Today is the fourth of July. I guess Summer is not only here but in progress. No more thought of that. Yesterday I was thinking that I work in the workplace of my dreams - the absolute apex of civilization - the axis of the matrix of knowledge. Surrounded by the ideas and the dreams of mankind, I walk each day among my oldest friends. I work in an academic library. Accidental in the beginning - serendipity placed me in my dream job, then the people I work with made it worth the years. Working among the books, my oldest and most therapeutic of friends, then walking amidst the beauty of a well manicured campus, leaving work is a changing view of four seasons against the hills. Coupled with the constant flow of available reading, this is a daily pleasure.

eBooks figure highly among my obsessions, and the paucity of good readers for the Mac is a concern, yet I have the Palm Desktop Reader at the moment. Not enough literature free for the Palm Reader. Free literature is the motivating factor in eBooks as far as I am concerned. I first read a book on the PC when DOS was the OS. Good Old blue screen and white letters. Read it online from the author's site. later bought the paper book. Not an unusual happening. I have purchased several books I first read in the electronic versions. Sax Rohmer collection started that way.

eBooks - another case of free access being denied as publishers try to grab once out of copyright texts for the "erights." Having been somewhat successful, I am sure more tricks will be used to deny us free texts out of copright and to make the bucks at our expense. Thank goodness for the GUTENBERG PROJECT. Protecting texts in electronic form for the millenia. I think our copyright laws protect the texts for too long from the public domain. As long as the author is alive and royalties are possible this protection is valid, but the length of time of the copyright "protects" the publishers and heirs so that they can then cash in on another's creativity is far too long. I would think 50 years or the author's lifetime is plenty of time.

On the topic of books...reading at the moment the third in the Ludlum "Bourne" set, and the last Ludlum book for me. Had to finish the Bourne saga, but really...summer reading as they like to say about light best seller stuff. Also reading "The Heat of the Day" by Elizabeth Bowen, a rather flat affect sort of ambiance with a pall over it. Wartime England. Started Evelyn Waugh's "Decline and Fall." Hysterical yet pathetic story so far of young Brit thrown out of college due to fund shortage who then is disowned by his guardian and thrown into a hideous teaching job in a third rate boys school...just bought a load of books from Alibris so I am in no danger of running out of fodder for the wetware. Not to mention the recent acquisition of Harry Potter #5. Even if HP wasn't the best written story in a long time you'd have to read it to be part of our world.

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Today - Sunny and breezy with a bit of clouds here and there. Observed the campus at its best - crowded with young people, and not so young people. Chipmunk in residence also. Trees, both native and gifts from Japanese students, leafed and needled out in patterns of fractal beauty, ginkos, hemlocks, maples of all colors, oak and arbor vitae. Walking was a feast for the eyes today. Courtyard in bloom with shady spots to enhance the feel of summer. We appreciate summer who know such winters as the last.