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.

LSD's Inventor turns 100

Albert Hofmann remembers very clearly the moment when, on a spring afternoon, riding his bicycle, the whole world - and his life - changed.

"Everything in my field of vision wavered and was distorted as if seen in a curved mirror," says the chemist, who celebrates his 100th birthday tomorrow. "I had the feeling that I could not move from the spot. I was cycling, cycling, but the time seemed to stand still." It was 1943, and Hofmann was experiencing the world's first LSD trip.

By the time the frightened 37-year-old research chemist reached home, he was terrified. The room spun. The walls rippled. His worried neighbour resembled a malevolent witch. He felt like he was dying.

After a few hours, the intensity of the experimental drug he'd dosed himself with fell and he was able to enjoy the "fantastic and impressive" effects. Next day, he felt wonderful: "A sensation of wellbeing and renewed life flowed through me. The world was as if newly created."

It all began with a peculiar accident. The doctor, employed by the Swiss chemical firm Sandoz, was pursuing respectable but unremarkable research into ergot. This poisonous fungus that grows on rye had been used for centuries as a folk remedy to bring on childbirth and ease headaches. The doctor believed that ergot could be a storehouse of new medicines, and he set about synthesising new chemicals from it.

In 1938, Hofmann had synthesised the 25th chemical: lysergic acid diethylamide. It showed little effect in test animals, bar restlessness, and it was shelved.

Five years later, on a hunch - or a "peculiar presentiment", as Hofmann puts it - he brewed up a fresh batch. In the process, he was overcome by dizziness. Sent home, he "sank into a not unpleasant intoxicated-like condition, characterised by an extremely stimulated imagination".

The next day, Hofmann concluded that the sensations could only have been caused by accidental exposure to something in his lab, perhaps the LSD. To be sure, the cautious doctor gave himself an extremely conservative amount of the chemical - 250 millionths of a gram. It was, in fact, the equivalent of a megadose of the mind-agent, still one of the most powerful known to man.

Alarmed by the strength of the ensuing effects, he clambered on his bicycle and tried to make his way home. The rest is history.

Sandoz was keen to find a use for this new compound, and Hofmann thought it could have an important role to play in psychiatry. After animal tests showed it to be virtually non-toxic, it was made freely available to qualified clinical investigators. "Properties: causes hallucinations, depersonalisation, reliving of repressed memories and mild neurovegetative symptoms," read the label on the bottle.

LSD's effects did not come as much of a revelation to science. Such psyche-manifesting agents, or "psychedelics", were already well known. Mescaline had been discovered in the late 1800s and made famous in 1954 as the subject of Aldous Huxley's book The Doors of Perception. What was extraordinary about LSD was its power. It was about 10,000 times more powerful than mescaline, and a tiny amount was enough to trigger profound alterations in consciousness.

Through the late 1940s and most of the 1950s, LSD caused a revolution in psychiatry. Therapists and doctors used it to treat forms of mental illness, including neurosis, psychosis and depression. More than 40,000 people underwent psychedelic therapy. Respected figures considered it a wonder drug and gave their careers over to LSD research. Some believed it gave a glimpse into the way schizophrenics perceived the world. Others used it as a catalyst to accelerate traditional psychotherapy - and even took the drug themselves along with their patients.

By 1965, more than 2,000 papers had been published, many reporting extremely positive outcomes in treating anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder and alcoholism. Hofmann's vision of LSD as a "medicine for the soul" seemed to be coming to fruition.

But LSD began to leak out into élite society. Artists, painters, performers and musicians began to experiment with it in looser, less formal contexts. Anaïs Nin, Ken Kesey, Allen Ginsberg and Huxley all explored its creative potential.

Huxley believed such drugs gave normal people the gift of the spontaneous visionary experience usually reserved for mystics and saints. He would later request an injection of LSD on his deathbed.

In the United States, newspapers and magazines began to fill up with sensational reports of LSD experiments, miraculous effects, mystical rebirths and self-transformations. In 1959, the film star Cary Grant received the first of 60 LSD-assisted psychotherapy sessions, and concluded: "I have been born again."

The public grew more and more curious about this "miracle drug". Self-experimentation began to increase. In a society facing growing industrialisation and urbanisation, alienation and boredom, everyone wanted to be reborn.

Already, a counterculture had sprung up to oppose the wealth-driven homogeneity of capitalist America. LSD was rapidly adopted as the sacrament for this bohemian "hippie" movement. In the age of the moon landings and the exploration of space, here was a tool that allowed a similar, metaphorical journey, a short cut to enlightenment. By the mid-1960s, the drug was booming.

Hofmann remembers the time distinctly. "I had not expected that LSD, with its unfathomable, uncanny, profound effects, so unlike the character of a recreational drug, would ever find worldwide use as an inebriant. People had the mistaken opinion that it would be sufficient simply to take LSD in order to have such miraculous effects."

Rampant use led inevitably to "bad trips" among recreational users, and Hofmann could only watch with a mixture of astonishment and dismay. "They did not use it in the right way, and they did not have the right conditions. So they were not adequately prepared for it," he says. "It is such a delicate and deep experience, if used the right way. "

He was stricken by doubt and concern that misuse and fear of the drug would lead to it being taken out of the hands of responsible investigators and psychiatrists. Would LSD - the drug which, on that spring day in 1943, reconnected Hofmann with the "deeply euphoric" visionary encounters he'd experienced in nature as a boy - become a blessing for humanity, or a curse?

A curse, the authorities concluded. In 1966, the drug was outlawed around the world. Psychiatric treatment continued but was steadily throttled by red tape and LSD's reputation as an "insanity drug". By the 1970s, research had stopped altogether. Today, it languishes in near obscurity, banished to the fringes of science and society.

Hofmann saw his discovery slip from psychiatric miracle medicine, to psychedelic sacrament of the Sixties, to outlawed, feared street drug. Today, he is saddened but sanguine. "Wrong and inappropriate use has caused LSD to become my problem child," he says. "The history of LSD to date amply demonstrates the catastrophic consequences that can ensue when its profound effect is misjudged and the substance is mistaken for a pleasure drug."

Hofmann himself continued his career as a chemist, and developed several other medicines. All the time, a steady stream of people continued to visit the "father of LSD" in Basel during the 1970s and 1980s. Many were en route to India and the Far East in search of gurus and a context for the LSD-driven mystical experiences. Many stopped off in Zürich seeking his counsel - often trying to score some of Hofmann's "secret stash".

Hofmann considered it was his responsibility as inventor of the drug to meet as many of these people as possible. "I have tried to help, instructing and advising," he says.

Only now, 40 years later, is there renewed interest in the therapeutic potential of LSD and other psychedelic drugs. The British Journal of Psychiatry last year called for a reappraisal of psychedelics "based upon scientific reasoning and not influenced by social or political pressures ".

An international symposium convenes on Friday in Basel to discuss LSD research. By today's standards, much of the research from the 1950s is flawed. Clinical studies are slated to restart at Harvard this year, organised by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Study, this time looking at LSD as a treatment for cluster headaches.

Hofmann hopes research will continue, but he believes LSD should remain a controlled substance. "As long as people fail to truly understand psychedelics and continue to use them as pleasure drugs, and fail to appreciate the very deep psychic experience they may induce, then their medical use will be held back."

Today, he lives with his wife in a house overlooking the countryside around Basel. He is head of a large family, including eight grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

He took the drug many times, but now, he says, he has no use for LSD. He believes it is just another means to attain extraordinary states of consciousness. "Breathing techniques, yoga, fasting, dance, art" are, he thinks, equally good.

He takes pleasure in recalling his boyhood experiences in nature that he links with psychedelics. "LSD brings about a reduction of intellectual powers in favour of an emotional experiencing of the world. It can help to refill our consciousness with this feeling of wholeness and being one with nature."

The LSD Symposium runs from 13-15 January in Basel.
Published January 10, 2006 by The Independent

Linksys Wireless-G Router with SRX400

After watching the Golden Globes last night I decided to upgrade the family network at 10 PM. Its just my nocturnal nature to do stuff like this late at night.

I installed the Linksys Wireless-G Broadband Router with SRX400, to replace a Linksys wireless-B router. This MIMO based router is supposed to increase wireless speeds by a factor of 10 if they have a matching card that supports SRX/MIMO.

Well I got one of those cards as well, the Linksys WPC54GX4 and installed it in my daughter's Sony PCV-W10 PC which is a really cool but really WEIRD PC that came with 2 PCMCIA slots. So! Now she has faster connectivity and my PC which had been stuck at the maximum speed of the old "B" router (11MBps) is now running at "G" speed (54MBps).

It was nice to do the upgrade. Tonight I am going to plug in the MAC addresses off of each PC so that any snoopy neighbors can't share our bandwidth (which can get a bit boggy when the 3 of us are all on). Screw the high tech WEP crap, just plug in the MAC addresses and shut everyone else out.

My Sunday in the home IT support barrel

My first mistake was installing three products at once on my wife’s PC. First I upgraded her from Office XP (2002) to Office 2003; then I installed the Palm software for her Palm z22. Finally I installed Franklin Covey’s PlanPlus for Outlook.

Initially everything operated smoothly, except for a few rumbles in dealing with the alien world of Palm, which we easily figured out.

Then Outlook quit working.

Outlook could be opened, but if it was closed, it could not be opened again. Oh, it would start the Outlook process which you could see by using Task Manager, but Outlook simply refused to reopen once it was closed, unless you used Task Manager to close all instances of Outlook.

Countless searches of the Microsoft Support Knowledge Base using phrases like “Outlook 2003 does not respond” and “Die, Pussycat Die!” (Ok I can be a bit random) did not return any useful results.

So I removed PlanPlus, which does not do a clean uninstall even after one uses RegEdit. PlanPlus still displays a menu in Outlook.

No change. Outlook still refused to reopen once it had been closed.

I removed all the Palm software.

Still no change.


Finally after 5 hours of this I found the solution BURIED in a user forum on the web:

Remove WinFax. Huh? Well, actually you change it from using email to send faxes and you have to rename 4 WinFax dll files, but that worked!

I reinstalled the Palm and PlanPlus software and all is well. There is a note on Symantec’s site that one must have WinFax 10.03 in order for WinFax to work with Outlook 2003. Seeing as my wife has Symantec’s Norton Anti-Virus on her PC, one would think that Symantec might have put WinFax into their Live Update program.

I mean who would have thought to look to WinFax for a problem with Outlook?

As far as that goes, this entire scenario should be somewhere out on Microsoft’s Support Knowledge Base. It’s not like Symantec is some small company with a tiny installed user base.

I’m very disappointed in both Symantec and Microsoft.

MacWorld 2006

As predicted, at MacWorld 2006 Steve Jobs introduced a line of Intel based Apples.

In all likelihood, Microsoft and Apple have probably made an agreement not to port Windows to the Intel based Apples. (Hmm, after posting this it appears that the new Macs will run Windows Vista, but not XP, according to Apple SVP Phil Schiller.) After all, it is important for Microsoft to keep up the illusion of not being a monopoly power in the computer industry. As part of the “Who? Us? A monopoly?” non-agreement, Microsoft’s Macintosh Business Unit announced at Macworld a five-year agreement to continue to develop Microsoft Office for Mac software for both PowerPC and Intel based Macs. Apple should have asked Microsoft to sweeten the deal with some cash, considering that Microsoft's last release of Office for Mac shipped nearly two years ago, in April of 2004.

So basically Microsoft has covered its "We're not a monopoly" stance through 2011.

You can plan on seeing performance reviews of Windows Intel boxes versus Apple Intel boxes as soon as the Apple products become available.
Should the Windows boxes prove faster, count on the Windows pundits crying out “See!” and the Apple pundits replying with “So what?” If the results are reversed then reverse the cries and replies. No one’s going to shift loyalties in these two camps but the reviews and responses will provide plenty of fodder for blogs and tech articles for a few weeks.


Dell XPS Mobile Concept

Woo hoo! The Dell XPS Mobile Concept! I wanted one of these the first time I saw a photo of one! Who cares that this product weighs EIGHTEEN (that's right 18!) pounds? With a 20.1 inch wide screen its not like you would be lugging this thing around on a school campus. Then again if you are The Incredible Hulk, maybe you would. If I were leaving town for more than 2 or 3 days, I would take this with me.

In addition to its awesome 20.1" screen, it has a Bluetooth keyboard that plugs into the unit for traveling and for recharging. Microsoft and HD-DVD be damned! Dell has chosen to put a Blu-ray DVD drive in this monster. The sound system sports 8 speakers and a subwoofer!

This is definitely the coolest product I have seen coming out of CES 2006.

Of course the ultimate question (assuming Dell puts this into production) is how much will one of these babies cost?

There are some excellent images of the XPS Mobile Concept at Dell 's CES 2006 site. There are other sites that have additional images, namely Anandtech and Engadget.

Accurate or not, here's what little I seen in the way of specifications:

Operating System:Windows XP Media Center Edition
Drives: Two 2.5" drives running RAID zero
Bluetooth wireless Keyboard with touchpad
Bluetooth handheld remote control
Processor: Dual-core 2.1GHz Intel T2600
8 speakers and a subwoofer
1.3-megapixel camera
Screen: 20.1" LCD
Weight: 18 pounds
Blu-ray DVD player
HDTV tuner

P.S. I just found a big picture (not a photo) on Dell's site.

Christmas 2005: The Aftermath 2 weeks later

1. Beer: The Pilsner Urquell has been consumed.

2. Books: I'm halfway through The Sword of Angels. I finished A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin. I am not going to buy the fourth book in this series until it comes to paperback, as I have read several reviews stating that Martin, like Robert Jordan is beginning to milk the series and that the fourth title, A Feast for Crows is just so much filler that doesn't move the saga forward. Crossing the Rubicon is in my "to be read" pile, along with a dozen other books. The $30 Borders card helped cover $50 in additional book purchases.

3. Software: Sigh. I am SO stuck in Psychonauts! It is a fabulous game, but I am at the point where a lot of eye/hand coordination is involved, and my limit in that area is managing to put the correct shoe on the correct foot in the morning. I need to find a 10 year old to get me past this current point in the game.

4. The Logitech Mobile Freedom Bluetooth Headset for my cell phone has come in quite handy just as I thought although I can't figure out how to dial a call and then switch to the headset.

5. The $10 Starbucks card has been spent, and most of the other goodies have been eaten

6. Clothes: I need to exchange a bunch of the clothes as they are too big for my petite little 240 pound body.

7. DVDs: I haven't watched No Direction Home yet. Hopefully it will be as good as Don't Look Back. I did view Blade Runner. The BIG difference between the theatrical cut and this director's cut is the ending, but it's not a really major thing.

Windows Vista (Katrina) Redux

“I have a horror of people who speak about the beautiful. What is the beautiful?”
--Pablo Picasso (1881–1973)

Ok, let’s review the non-features of the non-beautiful Windows Katrina (aka Vista).

1. Improved Setup Routine
Mentioning this alone as a feature should give one a suspicion as to how lacking in features KATRINA actually is. I mean honestly! How often do you install Windows? So it takes 30 minutes as opposed to one hour for Windows XP. Quick! Grab your left over New Years Eve horns and toot them to proclaim your ecstasy over such a fabulous feature!

2. New Start Button and Start Menu
The Start button is now rounded and has the Windows flag on it. When looking at this and the new rearrangement of folders and icons, the only thought that can genuinely come to mind is: “Does Microsoft now have a cap of 80 on their employee’s IQs?”

3. User Interface
Themes and colors and Apple OS-like transparency. Sound familiar? If any of this lends itself to productivity, please let me know.

4. "New" Applications

a. Windows Defender. Um, Microsoft’s AntiSpyware now is a part of Windows.

b. Windows Photo Gallery. My Pictures gets a bit of improvement.

c. Windows DVD Maker. I’ll be impressed if I can burn a DVD without the Digital Rights Management software kicking in; even if I have already de-encrypted it.

d. Windows Collaboration. No one will use this outside of a few teams of 10 or less people in corporate environments.

e. Windows Calendar. Oh PLEASE! Let us lay palm leaves at the feet of the Microsoft Moses who brought this clay tablet of a turkey down from the mountain.
For those users who don’t have Outlook, there are already many free calendaring programs available on the Internet.

f. Windows Backup. Only upon RTM will we be able to see if this more useful than one of the commercially available products on the market or if it is just another half baked product like Windows Transfer.

g. Windows Transfer. Formerly known as Windows Migration Wizard, I have never gotten this to do a useful reliable, functional transfer from one PC to another or even from one hard disk drive to another.

h. Windows Mail. Outlook Express gets a new name. You might want to go lie down and rest your rapidly beating heart after such an exciting piece of news.

i. Windows Media Player 11. Same product very minor improvements.

j. Media Center. No new juice here other than UI improvements.

k. Internet Explorer 7. Isn’t it sad that the current version of Opera is better than IE7?

l. BitLocker. Encrypt your drive. Watch your system performance come to a crawl.

m. Family Safety. I’m a parent. Kids will find a way to do something you didn’t think of. If you forget the password you get to reinstall Windows or set up your kid as yet another user account. How many families are still sharing PCs anyway?

n. SuperFetch. Plug in an external drive or a USB and watch your performance improve. Doesn’t distributing caching across multiple devices increase overhead instead of reducing it?

Is there an actual reason for planning to purchase Windows Katrina or have I missed something?