Dropping Scoble's RSS feed

No loss there. Too much name dropping and ego.

A Dr. Seuss quote that I've always liked

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." -- Dr. Seuss

One of my favorite authors from my childhood and even through today.

This is a quotation that most bloggers should take to heart.

Windows Vista crash cost me $100

BLEH! Yesterday Vista out of the blue began plaguing me with messages that a system device needed to be checked or blessed or some other damned thing. Anyway, to stop the stupid dialog box from constantly popping up, I renamed the rogue file that was the source of all this irritation.

Now keep in mind that the poorly designed, poorly programmed Windows Vista won't even let me change or delete a fucking ICON ON MY DESKTOP! OK?

But it allowed me to rename this file within the Windows/System32 directory, which after much research as I could do seemed to be acceptable.

Nope. After the rename, Windows Vista would not reboot normally, to safe mode or even to the command prompt.

So, I went out and bought a new Western Digital 250 gig drive at Best Buy for $89 ($96 and change with the tax). Yeah I could have spent an hour and $10 worth of gas to drive to Fry's and buy a 300 gig drive for ten dollars less, but it didn't seem worth the trouble and time. I can't stand Fry's 90 per cent of the time anyway, as they have the usual non-English speaking employees who wouldn't help you even if you were on fire.

I put Windows XP on the new drive, made it the master (DUH!), made the ass-wipe Vista drive the slave and now I can get most of my old data. I was too frazzled to think to do this one drive at a time, so now my primary drive with XP is drive E, the old drive with Vista is C and my DVD burner is D. Go figure. Makes for some interesting software installation scenarios, trust me.

All I can say is that Windows Vista has always been problematic and I advise that everyone and every company out there, to avoid it like the plague. Tell Microsoft to just keep slowly improving Windows XP. Sigh.

Snakes on a Plane - The Movie Redux

The movie met and exceeded my expectations. If Samuel Jackson (or any other star) wasn't in it I probably would have skipped the film.

Oddly when I bought my ticket on opening day (August 18) the ticket seller mumbled something about this film already being a cult movie. I replied that had I known that I would have dressed up in a snake costume. Or should that be dressed down into a snake costume? I guess it depends on how you are dressed.

Anyway the start of the film had me a tad concerned that it was going to be an extremely cheesy "B" movie. Once Samuel Jackson appeared on the scene, all that changed and the film took off to be a well made suspenseful thriller.

So what are you waiting for? Go see it!

Inspector Montalbano mysteries

Just finished Voice of the Violin, the fourth book in the Inspector Montalbano series by Andrea Camilleri. This series has been a best seller in Europe but isn't very widely known here in the US.

Anyway, the whole series revolves around a police detective in Sicily, his eating, his girl friend, his co-workers and life in Sicily in general. It's light reading but interesting and complex at the same time.

Highly recommended, although I am going to have to research to figure out which book in the series is number five. I hate reading books like this out of order as sometimes the story refers back to incidents in previous books.

The World's First Blogger Doll

There are rumors that a doll modeled after Tara Hunt, the world’s most famous female blogger and creator of the HorseCowPig blog is in the works!

Naturally there are a lot of design decisions (Natural blond? Dark roots?) to be made and it isn’t certain whether or not the Tara doll will be available for the 2006 holiday season. Certainly the demand to own one of the Tara dolls from what is expected be a limited edition production run will be great.

However as rumors and details are forthcoming, we will keep you posted.

Snakes On A Plane – The Movie

Of course I haven’t seen it because the movie isn’t out yet, but whoever created the marketing buzz for this film should have a statue erected in their honor. I am envisioning something from the Soviet school with a figure holding a torch aloft surrounded by Nietzsche inspired Aryan children, kneeling at the figure's feet.

Snakes On A Plane is everywhere! Well, there isn’t a breakfast cereal yet, but don’t be surprised to see one. Even this week’s Best Buy Sunday ads have pictures from the film imposed on the screens for their TVs.

I’ll be seeing it I hope shortly after it comes out. Some places are sneaking it this Thursday night, but I’m not THAT eager to see it.

A Scanner Darkly – The Movie

This has always been my favorite Phillip K. Dick story, written during the drug holocaust days of the 70s. I too knew people that died or were damaged by drug usage. Heck even I am still damaged: “Sorry honey, didn’t mean to call you a bitch last night. I was having an acid flashback.” Right.

My problem is that I know this story very well and the film was largely faithful to it. So I can’t say how it plays for someone who has not read the book (or been involved with drugs). It’s a great story of unintentional heroism and tragedy. Whether or not the audience picks up on that I can’t say. I do know that I don’t care for the animation overlaid on the live action.

More disturbing is that director Richard Linklater’s next film is another book that I enjoyed, Jennifer Government. Sigh.

Anyway I enjoyed A Scanner Darkly and hope that some people that see it will actually read the book.

My New England Trip

It was the usual joy of traveling with my wife and daughter who evidently think I just walk around during the day and spear 100 dollar bills with a trash collecting stick. The two of them managed to do their usual routine which is to pack along more luggage than went down on the Titanic. Anything they don't have room for, they ask me to put in my luggage which in their world is probably full of useless crap like my clothing.

Well, the trip was quite educational. We discovered that Sprint has absolutely no cell phone coverage north of Manchester in NH and sporadic service (if any) in ME. Boston of course was no problem. The Internet? Ha! Not in northern NH! What is New Hampshire anyway? A forest with a government and a few towns?

And what's with the moose? NH has signs about every 50 feet indicating that you may be on the verge of hitting a moose while there are no signs in Maine about moose or any other animal.

There is an eating pattern that we did observe taking highway 25 from Conway NH to Portland ME. The pattern is you pass a pizza parlor then an ice cream store then a pizza parlor then an ice cream store over and over. It was weird. I presume that Maine residents have just tossed in the towel regarding obesity issues in the US.

So we did the Freedom Trail walk around Boston last Wednesday in the 103 degree heat with the 112 degree heat index. Did you know that the Freedom Trail walks ends in Filene's basement? Neither did I.

The highlight of Thursday was touring the Albacore sub in Portsmouth, followed by more binge shopping by the wife and daughter. I spent a whole dollar that day on an Albacore magnet which I think I probably have lost already.

Wed, Thurs and Friday were spent at the Best Western in Manchester which had FREE and excellent (except that it was B) Internet service plus a great continental breakfast which included waffles.

Friday we had to check out and move to Chocorua NH for the wedding welcome dinner. We stayed at Samantha's Inn which is slightly better than sleeping in your car but not by much. That evening we attended the wedding welcome dinner where we met what I can only presume were the immediate drinking buddies of the groom and my wife's brother's family which included his daughter the bride. As far as I could tell most of the people there were either overly inbred or else dropped on their head a lot when they were babies. Well, the food was good, and more importantly the booze was free.

Saturday we went shopping (Surprised?) before going to the wedding that night. The post wedding dinner consisted of the usual inedible rubber chicken. At least the booze was free. My 19 year old worked her deep cleavage dress on the bartender and drank about 5 rum and cokes. The good news there is that she has my high alcohol tolerance.

Sunday we went to the post wedding breakfast, which totally lacked mimosas or bloody Marys. Sigh. Well we said our goodbyes and loaded the luggage in the van and drove through ME to Boston. We stopped at the Cape Elizabeth lighthouse where the presumed heirs to the Wal-Mart fortune did more shopping even though the gift shop couldn't have been more that 20' x 20' square.

We checked into the Marriott Wharf hotel next to the Boston aquarium. No I didn't pay their minimum $450 a night fee for a room. The bride who is quitting her job at Harvard got the Harvard discount for the room of $99 and paid for it. The ransom to park the car was $40 a night, the Internet connection was $10, etc. I was somewhat surprised that they didn't have a coin slot to charge you for using the elevator inside the hotel. Was it worth $450 a night? Not unless Meg Ryan was going to drop by to tuck me in. Um, or a word that rhymes with tuck.

Monday morning the Women With Bottomless Pocketbooks managed to spend $50 on souvenir T-shirts and baseball caps at the booth in front of the hotel. It was amazing. They hadn't gotten 50 feet from the hotel before shopping. Then they walked to Filene's to resume their shopping while I stopped near there at Borders (if you fall asleep in a chair there, they rudely wake you up, trust me on this one).

Finally we got to Logan, dropped off the rental car, lounged around the airport which has no free wireless service and boarded JetBlue to connect in NYC at JFK. So, we barely managed to make our NYC connection only to be caught up in the FAA computer glitch that occurred that evening. We sat on the runway in that jet for FOUR HOURS before taking off for our five hour flight to Sacramento.

Despite all this "fun" we just fell in love with the northeast (well except for the useless people in NH) and are ready to move there if anyone will offer me a job that pays real money.

World Trade Center - The Movie

It sucked.

Bad if not almost non-existent acting, absolutely no emotional bond to any of the characters (in other words you won't be shedding any tears) and as hard to believe as it may seem, BORING.

This might as well have been a movie about two guys stuck in the bottom of a mining cave-in.

If you HAVE to see this loser of a film, save your money and rent it on DVD in a few months.

iPods lock up Windows Vista

Talk about PANIC! Yesterday I turned off my PC that I am testing Windows Vista on, and when I came back to it hours later, it would not boot up. This particular PC has an Intel motherboard, Intel Pentium 4, 2 gigs of RAM, an ATI video board with 128M of RAM and the other usual suspect hardware.

When I would turn on the PC, it would show the Intel screen from the Intel BIOS, but it would not start up the hard drive. I figured that my hard drive had finally been killed by the poorly programmed Windows Vista. Odd things you can observe on your Windows Vista PC are watching the CPU peg at 100% utilization when you have no programs running, having your monitors turn off and turn on randomly, having to wait 15 minutes after booting up for Windows Vista to “stabilize”; if you attempt to do anything during this stabilization phase of booting up, Windows Explorer will crash and you will have to reboot your PC for it to function.

Anyway, I had foolishly plugged my iPod into a USB port to recharge it. Windows Vista not only now supports booting from a USB port, it looks to the USB ports FIRST for booting up! Doh!

Well, once I unplugged my iPod and rebooted my PC, all was well. By the way besides the fact the having an iPod plugged in prevents Windows Vista from booting up your PC, the iTunes software doesn’t work under Windows Vista either, even in “compatibility” mode!

Sadly I still have Windows Vista on my PC. Windows Vista is just a dog of an operating system that smells as rank as a pile of skunk droppings.

30 Seconds to Mars uses DRM

Yep. My daughter attempted to download the songs off of her 30 Seconds to Mars CD, to her iPod, only to be stymied by the EVIL DRM (Digital Rights Management). The iTunes software simply would not recognize that she had a legitimate copy of the music! To add insult to injury 30 Seconds to Mars put a survey on their CD asking if users were unhappy that they couldn't download their songs to an iPod!

So, after attending 2 of their concerts and buying their CDs, my daughter is no longer going to be a consumer of 30 Seconds to Mars.

She just wanted to listen to their music while she worked out. The combined corporate greed of 30 Seconds to Mars and their publisher Virgin Records just cost them another customer.

An Inconvenient Truth

Go see the movie and read the book.

This is very real and quite scary. Things need to change or we will all die in an unexpectedly short amount of time.

Although their website is still a work in progress, Nature's Future is probably the best environmental group in the world for contributing your time and money to in an effort to fight global warming and to support and repair bio-diversity.

They do real work and they don't screw around with your donations.

Dell XPS 2010 FINALLY ships!

Woo hoo! Yes at $3500 and 18 pounds (well from earlier reports; Dell NEVER DOES say how much this thing actually weights) the Dell 2010 is the Godzilla of both notebooks and uber geek status.

Just go to Dell's web site and check it out. While I might have techno lust for such a beast I lack the money. A more practical solution for my impoverished tastes would be the new G35-AV650 model of Toshiba's Qosimo which has HDTV built into it.

Allen Ginsberg's Howl turns 50

The 50th Anniversary of the publication of Howl and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg took place on June 4th. I always found Howl to be inspirational. For more details, visit the City Lights site.

The 25th Anniversary of the first reported cases of AIDS

June 5, 2006, marked the 25th anniversary of the publication of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report of June 5, 1981, describing the first reported cases of an “unexplained illness among five previously healthy homosexual men in Los Angeles.” The report signified the beginning of what would later become known as the AIDS pandemic.

Through the California Department of Health Services, Office of AIDS (CDHS/OA), the State provides funding and resources for HIV and AIDS prevention, care, and treatment, including HIV rapid tests, (now available in over 30 local health departments), and services to 29,000 HIV-positive citizens of California who benefit from the largest and most comprehensive AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) in the United States.

For additional information about AIDS or to locate HIV testing services, contact your local health department or the California AIDS Hotline at (800) 367-AIDS (2437) or visit www.AIDShotline.org. For information on CDHS/OA mission, programs and other helpful resources, see OA’s Web site http://www.dhs.ca.gov/AIDS.

Art School Confidential

I love to find quirky offbeat films otherwise known to some as "art house films". Films I've seen in "art houses" that fall into that distribution channel have been works such as Donny Darko, Amelie, Rabbit-proof Fence and Life Is Beautiful.

Art School Confidential attempts to make the cut as an art film but falls flat as sort of an occasionally funny bit of satire. With a cast that includes John Malkovich (who also was one of the film's producers), Jim Broadbent and Anjelica Huston one would have hoped for a better production, but this one really fell short of the mark. Granted it had many funny moments and to be frank, I think it is an enjoyable alternative to shallow thrillers like Mission Impossible III and The DaVinci Code.

My recommednation is to do something different and go see this film.

Apple iPod, Nano and Shuffle review

We now own all three Apple iPod models through a series of unrelated events.

First, the daughter hit 19 this month and her Dell DJ 15 MP3 player which cost $200 two years ago died. I took it to a shop where for no charge they showed me where the danged thing had shorted out internally. Sigh.

So for her birthday, we bought a 30 gig iPod, which as it turns out is really cool. I think we can appreciate the integration between the iPod and iTunes because we spent so much time struggling with the Dell which used the ever-so-crappy MusicMatch for its software. That was a constant battle and things just did not work well. It was pretty frustrating. Having said that we are so far beyond pleased with the iPod.

So! For Mother's Day, Mrs. Drips received an iPod Shuffle, based on the mistaken assumption that she wouldn't need anything more technical than that. Mrs. Drips sent me on a course correction to Best Buy yesterday to buy her an iPod Nano. Cough. She is now content for the moment and has already done a workout at her gym with the iPod which she loves as it is so much cooler than toting a CD player with her.

I am now the unintentional recipient of the iPod Shuffle. I'm not the big music consumer in this household, but I am stunned about how clear the sound is with the Shuffle. The only album I own is Joan Osborne's Relish, which despite being several years old is still a favorite of mine. It just sounds so great on the Shuffle, and I can actually hear sounds that I never heard before through normal stereo speakers. I also have an hour of the sounds of a rainfall loaded on the Shuffle which is supposed to make me more focused, but tends to put me to sleep. Ok, so I have The Jets and Hoobastank tunes on there too, as well as Beethoven.

San Francisco Zoo, Beach Chalet Restaurant and other places

My daughter turned 19 recently so we took a trip into San Francisco yesterday to celebrate. First we stopped at the Beach Chalet restaurant for a (with tip) $103 lunch for four of us. It was pricey, but excellent.

Then we visited (for the first time) the San Francisco Zoo. It is the WORST zoo I have ever seen. It is an eyesore and the citizens of San Francisco should be ashamed of it. I hope to post some photos of it on here to display what a despicable condition that zoo is in. By the way if you do go there, they do not feed the lions on Mondays, and the staff starts closing up the Children's Zoo and the carousel at 4 even though the zoo stays open until 5. At $11 per adult for admission this zoo is not worth it. Don't expect to see elephants, camels, seals or orangutans there as they don't have any of those animals to display.

After the zoo, we hit Forever 21 for a couple hours of intensive shopping. Fortunately they had an extremely uncomfortable chair I could sit in while waiting for the shopping spree to end.

Finally we grabbed at bite at Lori's Diner ($50 with tip) and called it a day. My daughter and I always eat at Lori's prior to seeing concerts (Usually Marilyn Manson) at the Warfield, which is just around the corner more or less.

Linksys WMP54GX4 PCI Wireless-G Adapter with SRX400

OMG! The Linksys WMP54GX4 is better than sex, drugs and alcohol! Well, its
better than most alcohol except beer which is a sacred drink.

I was reading the Sunday Sacramento Bee yesterday and came across a Best
Buy ad for the Linksys WMP54GX4. To be honest I don't actually read the
Sacramento Bee as I think it is only good for wrapping fish or training
puppies, but I do buy their Sunday edition to read the ads from Best Buy,
Fry's, Staples, Circuit City and all the other outlets of electronic toys.

I already use the Wireless-G Broadband Router with SRX400 as well as the
Wireless-G Notebook Adapter with SRX400. Linksys had not announced or
shipped a PCI version for Wireless-G with SRX400 at the time (less than 2
months ago) that I acquired those two products. I wanted an adapter for my
main desktop but Linksys didn't offer one with SRX400 capability.

Weirdly enough the Linksys WMP54GX4 PCI Adapter with SRX400 is not listed on the Linksys site. It's possible that they are ramping up for their 802.11n products and are going to quit selling their SRX400 gear soon, but I would think they would at least list this product to help clear out their inventory.

Anyway, although the installation knocked out my USB mouse for some
unknown reason that I will check into at a later date, I eventually got
the adapter up and running. Although Linksys advertises SRX400 as being
able to increase your networking speed by 10x, my speed went from 54Mps to
240Mps. I'm not complaining as that is almost 5x faster but my wireless
router is only about 30 feet away in another room, so I wonder how one
ever gets up to a 10x performance increase in speed.

I can't link to any picture of it, but the adapter has a four foot cable
that is attached to an antenna that looks like something out of either
Star Trek or Star Wars, thus thrilling one's inner geek. This antenna
really pulls in network signals! Doh! I have a Canary Wireless gizmo just
for finding WiFi and while it finds 2 or 3 networks from my neighbors, the
Linksys finds 6 and gives you breakdown of their SSID, signal strength,
and encryption. Woot! This totally owns! Now you can send death threats to
the President and watch in glee as the Secret Service hauls away your
neighbors. JUST KIDDING!

If you have an SRX400 router and need a PCI adapter go get one of these
while they are still available.

United 93 movie

Well I saw the movie United 93 last night. You can read about the fictionalized chunks of the movie here (MSNBC) and here (Washington Post). The Washington Post has some interesting quotes from 9/11 that show that government order had been passed to "take lives in the air to preserve lives on the ground".

Like the recent A&E film, Flight 93, the movie was very emotional and engaging. I felt distanced though because I was aware that there is no indication on the transcript of Flight 93's cockpit voice recorder that the passengers ever managed to enter let alone seize control of Flight 93's cockpit.

In fact there are many sites and books promoting the scenario that our own Air Force shot down Flight 93. The plane was only 7 minutes from entering the Washington DC airspace, the shoot down orders had been authorized, and ...well it could have happened that way. There's some compelling evidence that supports that scenario, but it's best if one searches the web for those sites to draw your own conclusions.

People want to believe that the passengers of Flight 93 brought the plane down that day because they want the empowerment of having heroes that stood up against the hijackers.

Whether passengers or a missile from an F-16 brought down Fight 93 will probably never be known.

At the end of the movie before the credits began to roll, some woman in our audience stood up and started screaming about Bush covering up 9/11, a fifth plane and Iraq. Then other audience members stood up and screamed back at her (I live in a part of California filled with Nazis and die-hard Republicans). Finally my wife stood up and screamed for everyone to shut up. We left then, as it is always a good policy to move towards the nearest exit when my wife starts yelling.

If you just can't get your fill of 9/11 movies, World Trade Center directed by Oliver Stone will be coming out on August 9th. Nicolas Cage and Maggie Gyllenhaal are the main stars for that film.

Should you wish to while away the hours reading a fringe viewpoint of 9/11, I highly recommend Crossing The Rubicon. The book is a perplexing mix of truth, fantasy and conspiracy theory.

Stay tuned.

Robert Scoble supports censorship

Robert Scoble, Microsoft's most well known blogger has decided to censor the comments on his blog.

"Yes, I am now approving every comment here. And I will delete any that don't add value to either my life or the lives of my readers.
This is a huge change for me. I wanted a free speech area, but after having a week off I realize that I need to make a change. That, I'm sure, will lead to attacks of "censorship" and all that hooey. Too bad."

Ooh! Denouncing free speech? I guess that's why Microsoft's kowtowing to the censorship policies of the Chinese government don't appear to bother Robert. So now his blog will be in line with the usual toadying, mutual ass-kissing and self promotion of his "A-list" clique of "friends". We will be subjected to more promotions of Microsoft's dull products as well as the endless dropping of names like Doc, Dave, Seth and all the other stooges.

So how do those shiny new hob-nailed boots feel Robert? Are they comfy and snug? Robert, have you given any thought about what we can do about all those pesky Jews, and people of color and gays and well, everyone that doesn't think just like you?

Wait! I see clearly now! A conversation is when you totally agree with the other person. So anyone who dares to disagree with you is not part of the conversation?

So much for credibility. It appears that Mr. Scoble's expertise is not in the area of blogs but in the area of suppression of free speech and the censorship of differing ideas and opinions.

You know a "little bit of censorship" is a step on the road towards "let's just put a few people in concentration camps".

Seagate Momentus 160 Gig notebook drive

Woot! I just upgraded my antique Toshiba Tecra 8100 from its original factory 10 gig (that’s right TEN gig) drive to the new Seagate Momentus 160 gig drive. Needless to say, I am extremely pleased with the massive added storage. Come to think of it my desktop PC only has a 120 gig drive in it. Oh well, I guess I shall always be a technology poster child.

The gory details of how I accomplished the upgrade are in my posting about ez upgrade.

Apricorn’s ez upgrade kit

Even though I build my own PCs, the thought of upgrading my notebook’s hard disk drive has been intimidating. I figured there were two possible outcomes: either I succeeded or I turned my notebook into an expensive paperweight. Well, the ez upgrade kit from Apricorn was SO EASY to use that I was impressed. While older notebook kits use a PCMCIA slot card, the ez upgrade kit uses the notebook’s USB port. Here’s the steps:

1. Put your new notebook drive in the external drive box that comes with the kit. Plug the drive into your notebook’s USB port.

2. Boot from the Apricorn CD or just install the software. Booting transfers data faster.

3. Run the Apricorn software which basically bit copies your existing data to your new notebook drive.

4. Unplug your notebook (you need to use direct power during the transfer as it can take quite a while; two hours in the case of my mere ten gigs).

5. Remove your notebook’s battery.

6. Remove your notebooks’ hard drive. HA! I read that instruction and thought: WTF? I have never seen a notebook arrive with instructions on how to remove the hard drive. Fortunately CMS Products web site has instructions on how to remove the hard disk drive from a wide variety of notebooks.

7. In my particular case there was a complication. The drive sits in a casing held in by four screws. In their infinite wisdom, Toshiba put glue in the screw holes to keep things truly secure. Three of the screws with a bit of extra effort unscrewed easily. The fourth screw would not unscrew so I had to cut away that part of the casing in order to remove the drive. It was pretty frustrating, but in the end I managed to get the drive out without totally ruining the case.

8. Put the new drive in your notebook, replace the battery and power it up.

With the exception of the unruly screw, this whole process worked perfectly. An added bonus is that you can put your old drive in the external case and use it for additional storage.

Coke Blak is finally here!

Coke introduced Coke Blak in France last August. I was interested because it was described as a mix of Coke and coffee. I hoped it would taste better than icky old Jolt Cola or even my random attempts to blend Coke and coffee. Hell, I was planning a trip to France just to taste Coke Blak!

Well last Friday I found it at the local 76 gas station for $1.39 with a stack of 40 cents off coupons stuck on the freezer door. Naturally I HAD to buy two of them! I can only describe the taste of this drink as smoky and sweet.

Coke describes Coke Blak as "a fusion drink". Well, whatever, I just want it available at a lower price, in cans and in cases. You have to like the bottle design though.

Quilmes beer from Argentina

Trader Joe's has a limited selection of beer. I was being lazy and cheap this week, but knew I needed beer, so I bought a six pack of Quilmes beer. I guess I simply don't understand economics or profit and loss because there is a Budweiser plant less than an hour away from where I live, yet a six pack of Quilmes imported from Argentina at the bottom of the southern hemispere is less expensive. Does that make any sense to anyone? I can only presume that the profit margin on Budweiser must be huge.

Well Quilmes is a pretty decent beer and it certainly tastes better than Budweiser.

Apple to Boot Windows

Apple has announced their intentions to allow the new Intel based Mac to dual boot into either the Mac OS or Windows.

This looks like a win-win situation for Apple and might spark developers into looking at the Mac platform again.

How I Work: Bill Gates

This is an interesting article where Bill Gates discusses how he works. What I most enjoy is that he still gives out the impression that SharePoint can be productive right out of the box. This type of misinformation is what keeps me employed as a SharePoint consultant.
It appears in the picture of him in the article that he has a Tablet PC next to him with Post-It notes on it. Then again maybe its just a keyboard with his log-on passwords written on the Post-It notes. Poor Bill! He has to wait until next year to get a digital whiteboard? Doesn't he have any influence at Microsoft?

Naked Conversations Review

This book claims on the dust cover to discuss “how blogs are changing the way businesses talk with customers”. The authors however start off with two premises from The Cluetrain Manifesto (possibly one of the most bullshit filled, vapid books ever written) that:

1. Markets are conversations.
2. Conversations are where intellectual capital gets generated.

What the authors of both books fail to take into consideration is the definition of what a conversation is:
An oral exchange of sentiments, observations, opinions, or ideas

First of all blogs are not oral, except for podcasts which are only one way therefore podcasts do not have an exchange of information. Blogs (ignoring that they are not oral) have the potential of having an exchange of information but only if someone posts a comment.

So the entire premise of blogs somehow being conversations is false.

Another false premise is that businesses have a need to blog. I have no interest in a blog from Wal-Mart, my grocery store, Sears, CompUSA and many other businesses that I can think of. Granted a web site might well be of use, but I see no reason to get engaged with my grocery store’s blogsphere evangelist. That seems totally pointless. What would we blog about? Carrot prices? There has to be a limit on how much knowledge one needs to take in.

I think of the blogsphere as a giant room filled with a thousand dogs, each one sniffing another dog’s butt. It may not be butt sniffing but butt kissing in the way of name dropping is almost the main content of this book. It sounds like a couple of little kids crying out “Look who we know!” and “Isn’t it cool that we all point and refer to each other’s blogs endlessly?”

Amazingly there is nothing in this book that tells you how to get started with a blog. Perhaps for some of us that is just intuitive.

If you want to read a book that intelligently discusses blogging I suggest Who Let The Blogs Out? By Biz Stone.

I do not recommend Naked Conversations unless you just love the blah blah blah of endless and repetitive name dropping. It's truly not worth wasting your money or time on.

Serious Flaw in Web 2

Google’s Gmail has been down most of the day. It was sporadic last night. Now I can’t get through to Blogger (although if you are reading this I obviously got through eventually). I don’t know if the Blogger problem is Google’s or the degradation of service I have been experiencing with Comcast, but it all points to a serious gap in Web 2. Namely the failure of the service provider’s application (Gmail) or your Internet connection via your ISP (Comcast).

The situation is that a friend of mine is in San Francisco from Australia and the only means of contact we have been using is Gmail. So now with Gmail down we can’t hook up during his visit.

So if you are imagining that you can live with all your data in various areas around the Internet, think again. This is just one example of where you are going to want to have some data stored off line.

Download Movies or buy the DVD?

You can now download movies the same day that they become available for sale on DVD through Movielink or Cinemanow. Looks the prices are normally around $19.95 while (even though I hate them) Wal-Mart offers titles as low as $14.99 the first week that they are released.

I would be concerned about backing up the downloads in case of a hard disk crash as well as whether or not there is an DRM/oddball extra copy protection on the downloads. Personally I will stick to the cheaper route of buying the DVD at the store. With freeware programs on the market that can break DVD copy protection, one could upload from the DVD to a laptop or other PC and still have the original in a secure location.

Subversive Cross Stitching

I came across this site from reading about it on dooce.com.
Every home should have some of these hanging on their walls.

DirectTV arrives Comcast leaves

It must be the year of the satellite here. I got Sirius satellite for the wife and daughter at Christmas and now we just left Comcast for DirectTV.

Part of the reason for the switch is my intention to totally drop Comcast because their "High Speed Internet" often drops below dial up speed. Yep, that's right, Comcast has over sold their Internet offering and some of us (like moi) are running at extremely slow speeds now. Downloads take insane amounts of time and internet gaming (my personal gripe) is impossible when you have pings of 300+ms!

So the first step was to drop the cable TV (the DSL option is going to take a bit of home rewiring for me). No biggie there as we went from about 60 cable channels to like 155 satellite channels. More choices and excellent video/sound quality. My wife was so brainwashed by Comcast's anti-satellite commercials that she was concerned that we wouldn't receive local TV stations (we do), that satellite TV wouldn't work when it rained or the wind blew (no issues there, and we have had a storm since installation), etc. All is well.

The other incentive was that the satellite/DSL pricing is lower than Comcast's by a considerable amount. We choose DirectTV after reviewing the TV channel packages and selections offered by both DirectTV and Dish. No bias, it just worked out that DirectTV's offering was more in line with what we wanted to watch. As an aside, we also get XM satellite through DirectTV, so now we have both satellite radio carriers! Doh! That's a bit of an information overload.

April Fools Day

I found my PC mouse no longer worked this morning. I rebooted the PC. Nope. Still not working. Dusted off and reset all the USB cables. Nope. Still not working.

I turned the mouse over to look at the bottom. Covering the mouse's LED was a small bit of Post-It note with the words “April Fool!” written on it in what appeared to be my wife’s handwriting.

Sigh. I always get fooled on April Fools Day.

Elsewhere on the web you can read April Fools Day news such as China purchasing Google and other phony news for geeks.

Shel Isreal doesn't know how to blog

Isreal and Scoble were unable to stand up to hard questions during a recent talk at Amazon. They've chosen Werner Vogels, CTO of Amazon as their target for their alleged mis-treatement at Amazon.

I guess they were hurt that they weren't surrounded in real life by a large group of fawning butt kissers as they are on the Internet. What is shockingly amazing is this statement from Shel Isreal:

"I think there's a nice ironic touch to the fact that when I tried to leave a comment on this post by Werner Vogels, CTO of Amazon.com, his technology would not allow me to sign in."

It only takes a TypeKey or TypePad account to leave a comment on Mr. Vogels blog. Mr. Isreal's blog uses the EXACT SAME REQUIREMENT!

This guy co-authored a book on blogging and he can't figure out how to leave a comment?

Well, that says a lot about his alleged expertise!

Microsoft blogger Scoble wants to censor unfriendly blogosphere

Investor Relations Blog does an excellent job of dissecting the "truth" behind Scoble's demand for censoring an Australian journalist who wrote that 60% of Windows Vista code needs to be rewritten.

Amen, brother! Windows Vista sucks, and I say that as a long time Microsoft consultant.

Pizza in a Cone News

The New Zealanders have finally read their email!
It only took them a week.

Anyway, it turns out that they do not have the rights for me to bring the holy food object, Pizza in a Cone to America.
So they have forwarded my request to the actual Pizza in a Cone inventors in Italy.

Stay tuned.

Oglala Sioux Tribe on the South Dakota Abortion Ban : SF Bay Area Indymedia

Cecilia Fire Thunder, who is a nurse as well as being the President of the Oglala Sioux tribe said that she will establish a Planned Parenthood clinic on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

More details are the above link.

Who to call when you can't decide for yourself

Stephanie McMillan, the woman behind Minimum Security, created this great cartoon which includes the work and home phone numbers of South Dakota senator Bill Napoli, who pushed through the South Dakota ban on abortion.

March 26 update Stephanie is auctioning the original cartoon on eBay to raise money for Planned Parenthood and the Oglala Sioux tribe.

Vista 2007. Fire the leadership now!

Mini-Microsoft: Vista 2007. Fire the leadership now! So say MANY Microsoft employee bloggers, due to yesterday's announcement that the release date for Windows Vista is now slipping to 2007.

I agree 100% that Microsoft needs a major company housecleaning.

This continuing slippage on product life is seriously impacting worldwide productivity. For some that may be the negative news; for others its positive news as Microsoft's inability to keep up product quality and upgrades is opening the door for companies to sell non-Microsoft solutions to the enterprise.

Pizza in a Cone update

No word from the New Zealanders on bringing "The Cone" to the states.

I've begun my own pizza in a cone experiments, but since I am the only person in the house who is not gluten/wheat intolerant, it has come down to me and my volunteer staff (Toto the 17 year old blind and deaf poodle with 3 teeth and Minnie the Shih Tzu princess of the universe) to do the tasting. Minnie as you will recall was involved in my recent Flamethrower burger taste test.

I'm semi-decent at cooking. I guess the best news so far is that the smoke alarm hasn't gone off although there was a tense moment when I managed to set my oven mitts on fire. Lots of whooping and dancing around the kitchen. You know the drill.

Stay tuned. Something will come out of this. Perhaps not something good, but something.

Max's restaurant and Firestone beer

Ok, so I went to Max’s the other day for the first time in five years. I had not realized there was a Max’s in Roseville, and I had totally forgotten all about their great restaurant chain.

Max’s was packed, even though it was like mid-afternoon, so I just sat at the bar. You know those customized handles they have on beer taps? Well one of the taps, I swear to God was a fish! So I asked the bartender (a woman with really Big Hair. She had so much hair I was afraid that when she turned around she would have an extra face on the back of her head or something) what the “fish beer” was like, and without an answer she just poured me a 16 ounce “sample” and said “Try it”.

Well the good news is that the beer didn’t taste like fish. The name of the beer is Angler’s Pale Ale, but it didn’t really appeal to me. While I was drinking it, the bartender poured me samples of four more beers without me even asking. For a moment there, I think I was falling in love, at least to the point of realizing I was going to give her a 20 percent tip. So I’m sitting there with an empty stomach downing five glasses of various strongly alcoholic beers. Naturally after a while I still had enough sense to know that laying down on the floor was probably a no-no but that resting my head on the bar until it could clear should be ok. I do recall that one of the beers was Drakes and the one I liked the most was Firestone.

Eventually I was able to feel and move my fingertips. I did manage to sit upright as my BBQ sandwich arrived, which was heavenly (like all the food at Max’s).

No dessert though as it was obviously time to head home for a nap.

I must recommend though that eating at Max’s and drinking Firestone beer is a truly wonderful experience.

Just don’t start drinking on an empty stomach.

April 3 update: We went back to Maz's two days later and had dreadful food and terrible service. So we aren't returning to Max's as even the manager was incompetent at resolving our issues.

V for Vendetta

A combination of Orwell’s 1984 and today’s political scene, V for Vendetta takes place in a not so distant future where the UK government rules by fear. The media is censored. Citizens are manipulated into the fear of terrorism and avian flu outbreaks.

A man who has been a victim of government torture and experimentation, rises up to bring down the government. This unnamed hero wears a Guy Fawkes mask throughout the film and sets November 5th (Guy Fawkes Day) as his date to complete the work of Fawkes by destroying Parliament.

I’m not to going walk through the film and unleash any spoilers.

I think this is an important film that above all else deals with ideas and not the dichotomy of one political figure or party compared to another.

My advice for any intelligent person is to go see this film immediately.

Take a day off from work. Stop watching television. In fact just look up the show times nearest you, turn off your computer and go see this film right now.

Microsoft harms world economy yet promotes people-ready ad campaign

Today Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO, told attendees at the ImpactPeople conference in New York the new Microsoft ad campaign theme: "Microsoft: Software for the people-ready business." Ballmer claimed that Microsoft software and the new versions of various Microsoft products will improve the productivity of teams within companies.

I disagree 100% with Ballmer’s statements, including those that follow below.

Successful businesses succeed based on the quality and performance of their people.
… We are talking about making the people in the business more productive

Let’s skip quality for the moment and go straight to performance and productivity. It has taken Microsoft over five years to produce an “upgrade” to Windows XP, called Windows Vista. It took six years for Microsoft to upgrade SQL Server 2000 to SQL Server 2005. It has taken four years for Microsoft to produce Office 2007 and SharePoint Server 2007. Other Microsoft products such as Internet Explorer (5 years) are also locked into this lengthy upgrade cycle.

Due to Microsoft’s near monopoly, these 4, 5, and 6 years delays in producing upgrades to existing software products have impacted the growth of economic productivity and performance on a world wide basis.

This is an example of negative productivity and performance on a global scale.

Amazingly in practically the same breath, Ballmer waxes poetically about Microsoft spending $20 billion dollars in the last three years on research and development.

For a CEO who in the past has spoken about “we eat our own dog food” he certainly is not displaying a track record for performance and productivity. As to quality, Microsoft’s best effort in that area is addressed by posting monthly patches to some (but not all) of their products. If you have Office, it’s not in the monthly patch. You need to go to the Microsoft Office web site to locate new patches. For enterprise critical servers such as BizTalk or SharePoint, it’s the same situation; you have to dig to find the patches. That doesn’t impress me as a commitment to quality.

"We think this is a pretty unique vision," Ballmer said. Well a horse wearing blinders has a pretty unique vision too! Ballmer implied that IT people (yes the ones who buy Microsoft’s products) don’t share this “vision” of productivity and performance.

Well that inflammatory statement will be big news to IT people. I would venture that if there is any one group within a corporate enterprise that is productive, it’s the IT department. IT doesn’t drive the quality, performance and productivity of the enterprise; it only provides the tools. It is up to the management to provide the leadership and drive for organizations of any size. Software is simply a tool, not a solution nor an implementation of productivity.
An organization could install all the Microsoft software products available and that would not guarantee one iota of increased performance, quality and productivity.

Microsoft’s “people-ready” campaign misses the whole point: It’s not about software, it’s about people.

A History of Violence and Mirrormask

Two intriguing films are out on DVD this week: Mirrormask and A History of Violence. Ok, Mirrormask came out last week. So what?

Mirrormask, a Dave McKean, Neil Gaiman and Jim Henson Productions film is weird, arty, weird and somewhat weird. Fun to watch although I swear to God that DVD volume levels are intentionally set low so that eventually you will go out and buy a home theater system just so that you can hear the damned things.

Anyway, the sets, costumes and scenery in Mirrormask are impressive. Jim Henson's daughter, Lisa Henson is on the additional material portion of the DVD. She goes on about The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth, but as far as I can research she didn't work on either picture. Her father and his company, Jim Henson Productions worked on those pictures. Perhaps now people can inherit their parents film credits. This should be good news for Alfred Hitchcock's daughter.

I liked A History of Violence, especially the high school hallway scene (I'm not going to give out spoilers, but you will know what I am talking about when you see the scene). The gratuitous sex scene goes on far too long. Maybe it was just an over exposure to Viggo's butt on the wide screen that made me feel that way, but I found it lengthy and lacking any contribution to the story line. The film is edgy and I thought it was well acted and interesting. I don't know if Viggo deserved an Academy Award nomination for this film, but William Hurt sure as hell didn't. He was only in the film for what? Five minutes? Maybe people in Hollywood owe him money or something. Make sure you see this film, it was one of the better ones for 2005.

Crossing the Rubicon

This book, Crossing the Rubicon is such a struggle to read. It’s a mixture of extreme fantasy fringe writing (“the CIA killed Robert Kennedy”) and reality. It’s like drinking truth and bullshit mixed into a milk shake, and you don’t know when to swallow or spit.

I’m in the middle of it and enjoying it basically because it forces you to keep running a reality check on your own beliefs.

King Michael Edition of the Excel Bible

In other news, I googled my name the other day (I do this on a random basis) and found that John Walkenbach, author of the Excel Bible for Windows 95, refers to it as the King Michael edition (after moi, the technical editor). That gave me a smile for the day. Come to think of it I was probably being an asshole as an editor but then again do editors serve any other function?

Google Office advances, Microsoft Office fumbles

Google has purchased Sketchup. Well, despite the fact that one of Sketchup’s products ties into Google Earth for mapping, their flagship product, Sketchup, is a $495 3D drawing package.
My question is: Could this become another component of Google Office?
Along with Google’s recent acquisition of Writely, one has to wonder when Google will complete and release Google Office. The biggest question is whether or not Google will charge for Google Office. If they don’t, and Google Office is entirely web based, then it will have a major impact on the revenue stream of Microsoft Office.

The downside for Microsoft is their announcement that Windows Vista, the five-years-in-the-making non-upgrade from Windows XP will not begin shipping until November. That means that Office 2007 is accurately named and probably will not ship until 2007 due to Microsoft’s inept testing methodologies wherein if Office 2007 shipped before Windows Vista, there would be incompatibility risks. Microsoft will not chance shipping Office 2007 before Windows Vista because if there are incompatibilities between Windows Vista and Office 2007, that would require shipping a service pack the same day Window Vista ships. It’s too costly and too much of a time crunch for Microsoft to take on, because their present management structure no longer allows them to rapidly respond to change.

Microsoft has also announced that the minimum entry price for Office 2007 will be $150. That minimum entry price gives Google a lot of space to play in regarding pricing.

Google has the ball. Let’s see if they can make a touchdown with Google Office.

Marilyn Manson wedding in Vogue magazine

The headline says it all. Buy the March 2006 issue of Vogue for a full color treatment of Manson's marriage to his long time girl friend whatshername. Hey! I might like Manson, but I'm not THAT much of a fan!

Updated March 26 so that the Vogue link goes to the photos. I also meant that I am not a fan that can recall his wife's name, although my 19 year old daughter can. She and I have been to three Marilyn Manson concerts together in the last 3 years. I always get a double take when I wear one of my MM Concert Tour T-shirts out in public. Frankly it never ceases to amaze me as to who will come up and talk to me about MM.

Electronic Arts BF2 1.21 patch SUCKS!

Yeah, yeah, you probably don’t play Battlefield 2, but Electronic Arts was supposed to ship an expansion to the game (technically called a booster pack) last month. First though, they had to ship a patch so that the expansion would work. Well that patch, 1.2 was fine except that they found a few little glitches in it. So, they delayed shipping the expansion until they could patch the patch.
Well this weekend (after a month of "testing") they made the patch available for download and it has totaled fucked up game play for users worldwide. For some bizarre reason the ping rates are spinning from 300 to over a million, and once your ping rate goes past 125, the Punkbuster software will kick you off of the game servers. Needless to say, right now no one can play Battlefield 2, and there’s nothing on Electronic Arts web site that indicates that they are even aware of the problem, let alone working on it.
Although EA is even more evil than Microsoft, they definitely need a Scoble-like corporate blogger out there to soothe the masses, especially if they want those same said masses to purchase future enhancements to their games.

Bugatti Veyron

Through a series of corporate mergers, Volkswagen has acquired the Bugatti name. Bugatti was a famous Italian auto maker with an active racing team, whose heyday was primarily in the 20s and 30s. They are now manufacturing 50 Bugatti Veyrons a year. At a price of one million Euros (today's rate makes that $1.2 millon dollars) these are not going to be the first choice for your average driver. The Veyron sports a 1000 horse power engine with a top speed of 220 MPH. I don't even want to imagine what the gas mileage is, but if you've got the wealth to pop $1 million+ on a car, gas pump prices probably aren't even a concern. The styling on these cars is amazing and the web site alone is worth a visit.

Groove, SharePoint and BizTalk

Well, my current consulting contract ends this week so once again I am on the lookout for income producing opportunities. I’ve had the good luck and/or misfortune to become quite expert with Microsoft SharePoint, BizTalk and Groove.

I designed and implemented the world’s largest SharePoint site and at the same time have managed to piss off legions of SharePoint developers all over the world who worship Microsoft like a god due to my article (linked to elsewhere on this blog) pointing out the weaknesses of SharePoint. I like SharePoint but Microsoft needs someone (like me but I can think of others) to manage and direct the product in a professional manner.

I’ve used BizTalk since the day it shipped, but it too needs new management. More importantly, Microsoft needs to figure out how to market it. The product is great but trying to explain it and show what it can do is challenging to say the least.

Please take Ray Ozzie, Lotus Notes and Microsoft Groove and put them wherever Jimmy Hoffa is currently residing. I was present at the Lotus Notes announcement in Boston during Networld which I think was in 1989. Anyway Jim Manzi showed two people on stage with one supposedly in London and the other in Boston, sharing a spreadsheet thanks to this hot new product, Lotus Notes. My thought at the time was Big Whoop. Nowadays whenever I encounter Lotus Notes in a corporate environment, it is being used not for collaboration but because it is viewed as being less likely to be vulnerable to a virus attack than Microsoft Exchange. As for Groove, the only market I have seen it used in to any extent, is law enforcement which also uses SharePoint extensively because it is mandated by the Department of Homeland Security. Microsoft has cleaned up Groove (well what will be Groove 12 which is in beta) to where it is actually somewhat usable for collaboration. It’s still as dull as Lotus Notes though and frankly doesn’t carry that much weight to collaboration except in special circumstances (like law enforcement cases).

So I’m great at building collaboration within companies as well as solving complex business problems. Basically I’m talented at making companies wealthier due to higher productivity.

Maybe I need a marketing manager to sell my skills. Anyway don’t hesitate to contact me if you have an opportunity that I can fill.

DQ Flamethrower vs Carls Jr Jalapeno Burger

I have to admit that every time I see the TV commercial for the Dairy Queen Flamethrower burger I crack up. If you haven’t seen it, it’s about a guy accidentally setting his office on fire because he was eating a DQ Flamethrower burger.

Well on occasion (despite the extreme right wing politics of the company) I have had a Carl’s Jr Jalapeno burger. It has real jalapenos and onions on it and is fairly spicy.

So Sunday morning I packed Minnie the world’s most spoiled Shih Tzu into my 11 year old VW Golf and puttered over to Dairy Queen to test out the Flamethrower. I wonder how Dairy Queen manages to stay in business as they seem like the trailer trash of fast food chains. Crummy locations, outdated facilities, and well it just seems like the whole chain could go out of business at any moment. I don’t want them to go out of business because I still like their dipped cones (butterscotch, not chocolate) and also because they seem like something out of the 50s. They’re kind of nostalgic.

I ordered the double meat patty Flamethrower $4.50 or so along with a Coke that would fit into the wee drink holder in the VW. I spend a lot of time eyeballing drink containers as only a few will fit in the VW’s drink holder. In fact, I removed the ashtray years ago so that tall drinks would fit in the holder. Otherwise the only thing that truly fits would be a very small cup of coffee. Do Germans have an issue with drinking in their cars or what?

The Flamethrower was not a flamethrower. It wasn’t even spicy let alone hot. No onions, no jalapenos, just two slices of mild pepperjack cheese on a double burger. It was so mild I gave Minnie bites, not that it was an option as she would have pouted for days if she didn’t get a bite. I was very disappointed. Minnie was ecstatic because she got to go for a ride and eat bites of hamburger.

There you have it. I voted nay on the Flamethrower and Minnie voted yea. It’s your call on whose opinion you want to trust, me or the Shih Tzu.

Google buys Writely

This is a major deal! I encourage people to sign up for the Writely beta. If Google adds spreadsheet/database/presentation software, then they will have an Office suite on the Web.

Considering the entry point for Office 2007 is at minimum $150, this will have an impact on Microsoft's Office revenue stream. Maybe corporations will avoid this due to security concerns but I think this will be HUGE!

I see this as a serious move by Google that can only benefit them while taking away market share from Microsoft.

Microsoft Origami aka Intel UMPC

Microsoft and Intel have announced the UMPC (Ultra Mobile PC). On the surface, the UMPC appears to be a low end ($500-$1000) mini Tablet PC.

Pros: It's lightweight, weighing in around 2.5 pounds.

Too short a battery life (3 hours) to make it practical as a mobile device.
Too big for pockets (like an iPod or a Pocket PC), so how does one carry it?
More expensive than the top of the line iPod or Pocket PC and in the range of low end notebooks.
Ships with Windows XP, but it's an unknown about "upgrading" to Windows Vista.

Regardless of software included with the system, it appears that it will be inconvenient to use due to its form factor. For some reason it reminds me of an Etch-A-Sketch.

International Women's Day

Today, March 8, 2006, is International Women's Day so go forth and do something, um, womanly. March in the streets? Take the day off from work? I have no idea exactly what one should do today to mark the occasion.

I can share that on my current job at Delta Dental they use the Websense Enterprise software to keep employees from venturing to non-work related sites on the Internet. The site for International Women's Day is blocked. The software claims the site is "an Advocacy Group". Wow! I wonder if the local Islamic Imam and his Moslem storm troopers would pay me a visit if I dared to commit the thought crime of thinking about advocating women's rights.

Avoid Franklin Covey PlanPlus

"Are you using Franklin Planner for Microsoft Outlook?
So you are aware, Franklin Planner for Microsoft Outlook is not compatible with USB syncing." -- from Franklin Covey's website.

Let's see, I bought my wife a Palm z22 for Christmas and the Franklin Covey PlanPlus for Outlook from the Franklin Covey store. No one said anything about USB problems between the software and the Palm. The Palm z22 ONLY has a USB port, so it cannot be switched over to serial synching. Even though the Palm z22 isn't listed above, it still eventually hangs and locks up both the PC and the Palm if used with the PlanPlus program.

My advice is to avoid Franklin Covey products based on their lack of up to date technical support!

Peet's Coffee

Peet's FINALLY opened an outlet here in Folsom yesterday, in
the midst of the six Starbucks serving this not-so-big-suburb. Anyway,
we snagged about $50 worth of premium coffees and teas as door prizes
yesterday, and are returning today to snag more door prizes (basically
everyone entering the store throws a small bag of coffee onto a table
and wins something. You can do this every visit). They had a manager there explaining the nuances of various coffee flavors: nutty, earth, spicy, sweet, etc...

So I was wondering if there is some big coffee snobbery kind of taste-off where coffee lovers sip a cup, swirl it around in their mouth and spit it out?

The BIG PLUS is that ALL DRINKS are FREE yesterday and today. Whoopie!

However, so far (and granted, this could change) I still like Starbucks better.

Peet's does beat out Tully's in San Francisco though. Tully's is usually bitter and not too flavorful, at least in my humble opinion.

Capote A brief review

Ok, even though I really don’t like Phillip Seymour Hoffman (is there another Phillip Hoffman that he is concerned about being confused with? I mean what the hell is the requirement for using his middle name of Seymour?) I did see Capote on Friday night, and I have to admit it was a good movie and that he did a great job of acting in it.

Basically the film is about Capote’s researching and writing of In Cold Blood. After seeing the film, I did a bit of follow up to answer a few questions I had, like who was Capote’s "long time companion"? Well the guy was Jack Dunphy, writer of several books that I have never read or for that matter even heard of. Another question I had was to find out if Harper Lee had ever written another book after To Kill A Mockingbird. The answer was no. Then again Capote never wrote another book after In Cold Blood although unlike Harper Lee, he had previously written novels.

I enjoyed Capote and if it beats out Brokeback Mountain at the Academy Awards tonight that’s ok. Just as long as Good Night and Good Luck, Crash and Munich (for what it’s worth I cannot get the Munich web site to open in Opera!?) don’t win squat I will be happy.

Good Night and Good Luck had a good story to tell but it didn’t work. Unless you totally understood the McCarthy era, this film simply did not work. As for the nomination for Best Actor for David Strathairn, I just don’t see it. Sitting stiffly and smoking cigarettes didn’t seem to me like much of an acting job.

Crash came off to me as just another cheap “let’s try to toy with the audience’s emotions” kind of films. No real acting in it either, at least not to the depth of Heath Ledger or Phillip Hoffman.

Munich was just fictionalized bullshit. The book the film was based on, Vengence, was written by a guy who claimed to have inside knowledge of the Mossad’s payback assassination teams, but it turned out that he actually knew nothing about it. Since the release of the film some of the actual Mossad members have come out and said that 1. They didn’t feel any angst about killing terrorists linked to the Munich killings, and 2. That several teams were involved, unlike the film portrays.

Well anyway it will be beer, pizza and chili tonight while we watch the Academy Awards.

Murphy's Red Beer

In a somewhat appropriate manner, my bottle of Murphy's Red Beer from Ireland was the last of my Valentine's Day beers. It was surprisingly good. I never have had much of a thrill drinking Irish beer (Irish whiskey is another story. A real life story too, actually set in Ireland, but alas most of you are too young to hear THAT story.)
Anyway I liked it and now I am off to see the only 2006 Academy Award nominee for Best Picture that I haven't taken in yet: Capote.
Being originally from Kansas I don't know why it's taken me so long to get around to seeing this picture. Well, maybe I will pop up a review here instead of at eOpinions for a change.

NBC dumbfounded by 2006 Olympics closing

It's amazing. NBC just sat there with God knows how many commentators, like bumps on a log during the 2006 Winter Olympics closing ceremonies. Keep in mind that all of this is taped, NBC literally has HOURS to edit and improve their broadcast. Hell, they could have even sub-titled the speeches and songs!

Instead the only thing NBC could do was:

1. Ask the American team members "How did it feel?"
2. Identify Avril Lavigne and announce that she is a Canadian.
3. Identify Ricky Martin.
4. Point out that fireworks were going off after the torch was extinguished.

Amongs the things that NBC had no clue about:
1. The show started with a white-clad clown on a white horse to symbolize "ice."
2. He was followed by snow explorers, a huge band of clowns, and acrobats, including a few that "flew" in the air above a giant fan.
3. One of the themes was the "Carnevale" parade which included people dressed as tarot cards and characters from Italian mythology.
4. Some of the clowns performing wore the original costumes from Fedrico Fellini's 1971 film, "The Clowns".
5. Famous tenor Andrea Bocelli performed.
6. The guy who grabbed the microphone yelled "Passion lives in Torino". NBC identified him as a person advertising an on-line casino. The "casino guy" incident actually took place on Friday when a guy streaked the curling bronze medal award.
7. NBC never figured out that the roller bladers with flames coming off their heads at the opening and closing ceremonies were called the "Sparks of Passion" bladers.
8. They never mentioned the next Summer Olympics to be held in Beijing in 2008. Only that the next Winter Olympics will be in Vancouver in 2010.
9. The 400 brides represented hope for the world. They formed a peace dove and then the Torino logo. Each bride carried a lighted lily. When all of the lilies simultaneously faded out, the torch extinguished.
10. There was a lot of confetti during the closing ceremonies. The Italians invented confetti.

The Italian Olympic Committee handed out books to the press that explained every single nuance of the opening and closing ceremonies. Evidently no one at NBC bothered to obtain, let alone read one of these media books.

Basically NBC's employees have no right to refer to themselves as journalists. The entire NBC Olympic coverage was shoddy and lacking in depth.

Dual Deputy Deaths

Don Knotts and Dennis Weaver died.
Don got his start as a deputy in Mayberry.
Dennis got his start as a deputy on Gunsmoke.
I saw Don at a dinner theatre a few years ago where he starred in On Golden Pond.
That's it. No other news for today.

Two more Valentine's Day beers

While watching Breakfast at Tiffanys on DVD last night, I drank a Paulaner Salvator Double Bock and a Coopers Brewery Best Extra Stout from the Valentine's Day beer box.
The Paulaner is a German beer with a pretty extensive web site. I didn't really care for the beer itself though. The Coopers is from Australia, and was ok; not bad, not great; just ok.
I find all these beers and their respective web sites interesting. I haven't seen a good site that ties all the world's breweries together in one central database yet. There are a couple that try, but none that I have seen that really stand out.

Birthday Swag

Yeah, I hit 57 yesterday. Don't need a walker or a cane yet so life is still interesting. Stayed home, ate Cheezer's pizza (always good and from a local pizza shop), drank two of my Valentine's Day beers, a Singha from Thailand and a San Miguel from Mexico. Don't rush out to buy either of these beers, they were ok as in pretty much like the usual watered down taste of a Budweiser.
Watched Zathura on DVD.

The birthday swag was:

PC Game: Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel without a Pulse. You play Stubbs the Zombie. You attack "normal" humans by throwing your rotted off arm, guts and other body parts at them. Once you kill them, you get to eat their brains. Oh come on! You know deep down inside that you are dying to play this game!

2006 Calendars: The Onion and Dave Barry.

Books: Diary by Chuck Palahniuk. He wrote Fight Club (amongst his many works). I've never read Fight Club. I haven't seen the movie, Fight Club. Obviously I lead a sheltered life. Now you know.

Naked Conversations by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel. Scoble and I (along with millions of other people) exchange email on occasion. Although Scoble puts out a great blog, he has no influence at Microsoft to the point where he doesn't even have the authority to steal post-it notes. It's tragic, so I asked for this book in the hope that it would provide a clue as to how he found himself in this predicament, along with possibly an insight as to his obsession with cell phones.

Micro-ISV by Bob Walsh. This looks to be a totally cool book. I am excited to start reading it in the near future.

DVDs: The Terminal. I love Tom Hanks' movies!
Wallace & Gromit - The Curse of the Were-Rabbit I love Wallace and Gromit movies too!

Alhambra Beer

Well, I tried yet another beer from the Valentine's Day case: Alhambra from Spain. The beer was good, supposedly a dark beer, but since I drank it straight out of the bottle I can't say if it was dark or not. The theory is that if one uses a glass, then the glass has to be washed, which uses energy resources that potentially contribute to global warming.

Therefore one should always drink their beer directly from the bottle or can to help prevent global warming.

Anyway, I liked the beer, and Alhambra's website looks nice even though they only offer it up in Spanish.

More on Supporting the Danes

The Danes are taking quite an economic beating from the Islamic nations over the cartoon controversy.

Support the Danes and freedom of expression by buying more products from Denmark.

I for one, am switching to Carlsberg Beer for an indefinite amount of time.

Every little beer or bit counts. Do your part.

Congress investigating Microsoft and others over Chinese censorship

A BBC report covers the news of a congressional inquiry into Microsoft, Google and Yahoo bowing to Communist Chinese government demands to censor content.

The Chinese are on the Internet. These three companies (and others like Cisco) are only in China to make money.

Human rights such as freedom of speech are obviously of no concern when it comes to making money.

We are all Danes

Support Freedom of Expression

What's This All About?

This was created by Lewis Purdue, whose novel Daughter of God was plagarized by Dan Brown and turned into The DaVinci Code.

Chuck Palahniuk quotation

People who would never throw litter from their car will drive past you with their radio blaring. People who’d never blow cigar smoke at you in a crowded restaurant will bellow into their cell phone. They’ll shout at each other across the space of a dinner plate.
These people who would never spray herbicides or insecticides will fog the neighborhood with their stereo playing Scottish bagpipe music. Chinese opera. Country and western.
Outdoors, a bird singing is fine. Patsy Cline is not.
Outdoors, the din of traffic is bad enough. Adding Chopin’s Piano Concerto in E Minor is not making the situation any better.
You turn up your music to hide the noise. Other people turn up their music to hide yours. You turn up yours again. Everyone buys a bigger stereo system. This is the arms race of sound. You don’t win with a lot of treble.
This isn’t about quality. It’s about volume.
This isn’t about music. This is about winning.
. . . . .
These music-oholics. These calm-ophobics.
No one wants to admit we’re addicted to music. That’s just not possible. No one’s addicted to music and television and radio. We just need more of it, more channels, a larger screen, more volume. We can’t bear to be without it, but no, nobody’s addicted.
We could turn it off anytime we wanted.
. . . . .
These distraction-oholics. These focus-ophobics.
Old George Orwell got it backward.
Big Brother isn’t watching. He’s singing and dancing. He’s pulling rabbits out of a hat. Big Brother’s busy holding your attention every moment you’re awake. He’s making sure you’re always distracted. He’s making sure you’re fully absorbed.
He’s making sure your imagination withers. Until it’s as useful as your appendix. He’s making sure your attention is always filled.
And this being fed, it’s worse than being watched. With the world always filling you, no one has to worry about what’s in your mind. With everyone’s imagination atrophied, no one will ever be a threat to the world.
--from Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk

2006 Winter Olympics open in Turino

The only sporting events I follow are the Olympics, and I love to watch the opening ceremonies. Unfortunately NBC continues to be incompetent (see my December 2005 blog) at covering the Olympics.

Did NBC send anyone who speaks Italian to the 2006 Winter Olympics? Did NBC fail to buy a program guide for the opening ceremonies?
Did NBC mention the actor playing Dante in the opening ceremonies? Does anyone at NBC even know who Dante was?

Do you or anyone at NBC understand why the cows of Piedmont were honored in the opening ceremony? Do you or anyone at NBC understand the relationship between Turino and Piedmont?

Well, I'm not telling. Go Google it for yourself.

I was pissed that NBC spent the first hour of their Olympic fawning over Michelle Kwan, Bode Miller and Shaun White. I know we will hear about them ad nauseum before the Olympics end. It's all taped anyway so I had to stay up until midnight instead of 11 since NBC wasted my time yakking with those three airheads.

Is it only me or does anyone else think that Mary Carillo (who interviewed Michelle Kwan on NBC) looks exactly like Nancy Kulp, who played Mr. Drysdale's secretary on the Beverly Hillbillies?

My Rip Van Winkle PC

Recently my PC started having "Thermal Events" which is Intel's way of saying it was overheating. Thanks to Intel's Active Monitor program, their program shut down my PC before it burned up the CPU. I opened up the PC case and pointed a house fan on it, but I could hear the power supply rising and falling like a roller coaster ride, so I knew that despite the fact the thermal events had ended I needed to replace the power supply.
After pricing power supplies at the two rip-off stores here in Folsom, I headed to Fry's, the major rip-off store chain in California. I rarely enjoy Fry's as about 99.9% of their prices are at full retail. People seem to think that if one sees a price in a newspaper then it magically must be a bargain. That is rarely the case at Fry's.
Well to cut to the chase, I discovered that PC power supplies have changed and that I didn't get the memo. The really cool power supplies are modular so that you only plug in cables to your power supply and to your PC components that you actually need, thus increasing air flow inside your PC. The "traditional" power supplies just come with a zillion pre-installed cables and the ones you don't need, you just tuck away as best you can within your PC's case.
So! Quickly name three brands of PC power supplies! Yeah, I couldn't either. I spent a long time looking at the power supplies at Fry's. Naturally I had no assistance as all computer stores require that their employees know nothing about PCs and are forbidden to assist customers unless the customer tackles the employee or puts them in a head lock.
Eventually I decided to purchase an Antec power supply, because they are a popular PC case manufacturer. Upon driving the 20 miles back from Fry's and removing my PC's old power supply, I discovered the new generation of power supplies have a 24 pin connector to the motherboard. My three year old motherboard has a 20 pin connector. Once again I missed the memo!
The next day I took the Antec back to Fry's, stood around for an hour and finally figured out that possibly an Asus power supply would do. Naturally when I got to my car I opened the box to count the pins so that I wouldn't have to make another trip. Initially I was shocked because the connector had 24 pins AGAIN! However upon closer examination I found that 4 of the pins were attached as a separate plug so I just unplugged the plug and all was well.
The important bit here is that this power supply had a 140 mm fan on it to help with the PC cooling. Most of the power supplies in PC cases and even on the shelves at Fry's lacked decent fans. In fact for the $80 I paid for the power supply I could have purchased a brand new PC case that included a power supply. However the power supplies that come in PC cases are as a rule pretty lame and all of the ones I looked at didn't have good fans. Plus I didn't want to go through disassembling my PC when I only needed a new power supply.
As a footnote the new power supply is 500 watts and my old one was 350 watts. The fan is the best part of it though. It also has connectors for PCI boards and SATA drives in case I upgrade my PC in the next ten years.
I'm happy but my advice to PC hackers like myself is that if you are looking for a Sunday afternoon project, upgrade your PC power supply to one with more power, a big fan and modular cable connections. I got the additional power and big fan, but the modular power supply was $20 more, so (being unemployed at the moment) I skipped that feature this time.

Halo 2 to only run under Windows Vista

Well, the title says it all. If you have a burning desire to run Halo 2 on your PC then you are in the elite group of people who actually have a reason for purchasing the non-upgrade to Windows Vista.

Windows Vista (aka Windows Katrina) continues to generate hot air

Mary Jo Foley's Microsoft Watch quotes Microsoft's Michael Sievert, corporate vice president of Windows Product Management & Marketing on Microsoft's expectations of how much Windows Vista will pump up profits.
The analysts quoted are just a circle of industry analysts having a mutual compliment and admiration session.

There is absolutely no compelling reason for an individual or enterprise to "upgrade" to Windows Vista.

I quote: "Sievert identified four reasons that Microsoft is so bullish about Vista's prospects. Overall industry and PC growth; Microsoft's plans to combat software piracy; a change in the mix of the types of PCs being sold; and the Redmond software maker's plans for improving its customer "relationship after the sale" all will be key drivers for Vista growth, he said."

1. Industry growth is slow if not stagnant.
2. Combatting software piracy is not a driving reason for anyone to purchase Windows Vista.
3. A change in the type of PCs being sold? Does Microsoft think people are going to buy tablets or Media Center PCs in droves because of Vista? This seems to be a continuing fantasy at Microsoft.
4. Improving the customer relationship? That's certainly an area Microsoft needs to improve but again, it is not a driver for buying Windows Vista.

We're still waiting for a compelling reason to purchase Windows Vista, like say, some new features? Surveys are indicating that 50%+ of current users have no plans to upgrade to Windows Vista.

US backs Islamic cartoon protests

OK, the Bush/right wing Christian administration is now backing Muslims in the European cartoon dispute in an obvious attempt to suck up to the one billion Muslims that the US has already pissed off by invading Iraq.

As the leading German newspaper, Die Welt, stated when they reprinted the cartoons, "They can't bomb us all".

This is a world of diversity. Some actions will always infuriate a set group of people. When I eat bacon, I am not doing it to anger Jews and Muslims, nor frankly do I care. If anyone in the world wants to picture Allah (God) or Mohammad, so be it.

Maybe that's actually a picture of Allah on the roof of the Sistine Chapel. Should it be painted over?

This is much ado about nothing

Mix 06, Web2 and the almighty dollar

Microsoft's Australia/New Zealand branch is offering a free trip from down under to Mix06 in Las Vegas for the best gadget for Windows Live.

Microsoft certainly could use some help with developing gadgets for Windows Live, that's for sure!

Interestingly enough a session entitled "Web 2.0: Show Me the Money" has been added. This the true core value set of what Mix 06 and quite frankly Web2 is all about; ensuring that no one misses out on becoming a millionaire if Web2 creates Internet Bubble 2.


Sadly it's what America is all about now.

Lavigne label defends 'file-sharer'

Amazing as it may appear, a Canadian record company is paying for a Texas family's legal defense against the RIAA stormtroopers.

Cheesy excuses over melted PowerBook

apcmag's coverage of a melted Apple powerbook with pictures. Looks icky. Despite some controvery, Apple replaced the notebook, although I tend to side with Apple's initial reaction as to how this notebook ended up in this condition.

Marilyn Manson heads to Berlin Film Festival

Ok I have attended three Marilyn Manson in the last three years, due to my daughter being a big fan. I like Marilyn Manson too. As a sidenote I have taken my wife to one concert in the last three years, and that was Cher who appears to be on a farewell tour that will only end when the sun burns out. Anyway I won't go into my conspiracy theory that Marilyn Manson and Cher are the same person, but I did want to provide this link and this link to a story on him heading to the Berlin Film Festival to find backing for a feature film he wants to start shooting this summer.

Oscars 2006 - Traditional Animation Only!

Here's a tidbit on how and why the Academy made their decision regarding this year's nominations in the Animation category. I found it interesting especially when you see that they only nominated three films out of a large pack of animations that came out in 2005, like Chicken Little, Robots, etc.

2006 Oscar nominations

For Best Actor: ANYONE except Philip Seymour Hoffman. I just can't stand the guy. I was so happy when he died in Red Dragon.

For Best Supporting Actor: Give it to Jake Gyllenhaal for Brokeback Mountain. While I LOVED A History of Violence, I don't think William Hurt should be up for an award.

For Best Actress: Cameron Diaz's performance in In Her Shoes certainly should have received a nomination for Best Actress!

And I don't even like Cameron Diaz.

Best Supporting Actress: I don't know.

Best Animated Feature Film: Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit. DUH! Tim Burton's Corpse Bride was a total loser and Howl's Moving Castle is just more lame anime.

Art Direction: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Sorry I just can't even see the art direction in King Kong.

Cinematography: Brokeback Mountain. No skill required here, just spectacular scenary.

Costume Design: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It was about the only thing worthwhile in the film.

Director: Ang Lee for Brokeback Mountain, but really to make up for him not getting it for Hulk.

Best documentary feature: March of the Penguins. I liked it but it convinced me that I do not want to visit Antarctica or be a penguin.

Best documentary short subject: Dunno. Didn't see any of them.

Achievement in film editing: Cinderella Man

Best foreign language film of the year: I missed all of these.

Achievement in makeup: Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith. Hell yeah!

Original score: Brokeback Mountain

Original song: I don't know although I find it odd that Walk The Line didn't have any nominations in this category.

Best motion picture of the year: Brokeback Mountain. I love nature films. This one had horses, bulls, LOTS of sheep and a token bear.

Best animated short film and Best live action short film: Missed em all.

Achievement in sound editing and Achievement in sound mixing: War of the Worlds. The alien foghorn was eerie.

Achievement in visual effects: King Kong. The gorilla versus the dinosaurs thing was great.

Adapted screenplay: Brokeback Mountain. The CLEAR winner. Adapting that screenplay from a short story.

Original screenplay: None of the nominees stood out based on dialogue or anything else.

Chinese speak out about Internet censorship

Censorship is supported in China by Google, Microsoft and Yahoo in return for the chance to make money in the mainland Chinese market.

These voices from China speak out first hand about this situation.

Weblog- WEF Davos- Times Online: Different strokes for different folks

Weblog- WEF Davos- Times Online: Different strokes for different folks
The Times comments on Yahoo, Google and Microsoft caving into the Chinese in order to be able to conduct business in China. It's obvious that money is much more important to them than human rights. Even Bill Gates has defended the stance of these three companies bowing to the demands of the Chinese government.
I wonder how proud the employees of Microsoft, Yahoo and Google are to be participants in repression? To say that the employees of these companies are unaware of what is going on would be like saying that German citizens in 1944 were unaware that their country was at war.
Speaking of war, I'm reminded of Dow Chemical's stance during the Vietnam war that the sales of napalm to the U.S. military were hardly amoral as they only accounted for six percent of Dow's profits.
I presume that the present and future income from China is of a significant amount to outweigh any concerns about minor things like freedom of speech or freedom of religion.

Tim O'Reilly on Web2

To quote a wee bit of what Tim O’Reilly has written about Web2, since he discovered he could leverage it into a marketing ploy:

The Long Tail"
"Small sites make up the bulk of the internet's content; narrow niches make up the bulk of internet's the possible applications. Therefore: Leverage customer-self service and algorithmic data management to reach out to the entire web, to the edges and not just the center, to the long tail and not just the head.”

What the fuck does this mean? I’ve got a damned high IQ, I've been in IT for nearly 40 years and this entire paragraph sounds like something muttered in an absinthe bar. Even Microsoft’s Mix 06 team has referred to this silly quote in their RSS feed.

Put up a comment if you can explain this, please!

NIX on Mix 06

Mix06 is NOT Web2 despite Microsoft attempting to portray it that way.

Here's a list of the sessions and my interpretation:

Artificial Intelligence: Using Amazon Mechanical Turk and .NET To Create New Breed of Web App

For anyone who has worked with AI, this isn't AI. It's not Web2 either unless one is under the impression that using Web Services magically transforms an application into a Web2 application.

Building Great Browser Toolbars and Extensions

The browser is NOT the focal point of Web2, nor in some upcoming scenarios is it necessary.

Building Interactive Applications using Windows Live Robots, Activities, and Alerts

Be a lackey for Microsoft and TOTALLY miss out on understanding Web2.

Building Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) Applications for the Browser

Sorry but Microsoft is not the centerpiece of Web2.

Build Your Own Search Engine


The Business of RSS

More non-news from the Johnny-come-lately gang at Microsoft. What we really need is a standards committee for RSS.

Coding Living Room Apps for Windows

This is being driven by the Microsoft Media Center team and has NOTHING to do with Web2.

A Designer's Overview of Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF)

Not Web2! Only for Microsoft lackeys.

Designing a Better User Experience with AJAX

AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript And XML) is hot right now. PASCAL was hot in 1990. No one language or mix of languages and technologies will drive Web2.

Designing for Television and Large Screen Display

STILL not Web2, and STILL being brought to you by the Microsoft Media Center team.

A Developer's Overview of Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF)

Another session where Microsoft hopes to suck any loose dollars out of future Web2 applications.

Developing a Better User Experience with "Atlas"

Microsoft continues to troll for those elusive Web2 dollars.

Digital Rights Management: Technology Overview

DRM is an aspect of downloading or using copyrighted material but its NOT Web2!

Extending Your Experience to Mobile Devices

My experience? They must mean the experience of my site. That will be very feature dependent and not a universally acceptable situation within Web2.

Extending Your Experience to the Desktop using Windows Sidebar

Web2 is ONLY for people who buy Windows Vista? WRONG! The Windows Sidebar is such a cheap non-feature it is beneath discussion unless you are 10 years old. (Sorry if I offended any 10 year olds.)

Extending Your Experience to the Living Room

Another Lets-Beat-A-Dead-Horse session brought to you by the apparently desperate Microsoft Media Center team.

Extending Your Experience to the Office Suite

Office 12 and Web2. Is Office 12 shipping? Want to wait until it does to use it with your Web2 application?

Introduction to InfoCard and the Identity Metasystem

Microsoft hawks up the SmartCard AGAIN and hopes no one will notice.

Making Your Site Look Great in Internet Explorer 7

Instead of doing that, make your site look great in W3 industry standard browsers like Opera or Firefox. The only thing the IE team should bring to Mix06 are their resignations for having sat on their asses for FIVE YEARS within putting ANYTHING innovative into IE.

The Opportunity Beyond the Browser

Yes! There are significant opportunities beyond the browser. I doubt you will encounter them at this session though.

Powering eCommerce with PayPal

Not Web2!

RSS Beyond Blogging: Developer Challenges

The non-standard RSS goes beyond blogging? Maybe. Then again, maybe not.

Using Web Services in your Gadget/Widget

More Windows Vista sidebar crap!

Needless to say, I am NOT going to Mix06 unless Microsoft is picking up all of my expenses. Ha!

Sydney Smith quote

"He has spent all his life in letting down empty buckets into empty wells; and he is frittering away his age in trying to draw them up again."

Kind of reminds me of many of the blogs I come across, including often as not, my own.