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.