Saturday, October 30, 2004

Warning - Checks Clearing Faster! Banks Implement Check 21 Starting Thursday

That's right - Check 21 is in effect.

"The Check Clearing for the 21st Century Act - better known as Check 21 - will allow financial institutions to exchange electronic images of consumers' checks rather than transporting the actual paper checks around by air, land and sea.

As a result, checks that consumers write are likely to clear faster than before, so there will be less "float" between the time a check is written and when funds are debited from the account."

So - if you're one of those people that writes checks on Wednesday thinking "oh, Friday's paycheck will be in my account before this check clears...." you may be in for some surprise bounced checks and bank fees! My sis-in-law's mom is a big-wig at a local bank, and indeed she has confirmed that this change is going into effect, and that everybody seems to be jumping onboard.

Gmail accounts 'wide open to exploit'

Gmail accounts 'wide open to exploit' - report | The Register: "Google's high profile webmail service, Gmail, is vulnerable to a
security exploit that might allow hackers full access to a user's email
account simply by knowing the user name, according to reports."

--- Yikes!!! Well that's not good!

Friday, October 29, 2004

AMD Austin Turns 25

[H]ard|OCP - AMD Austin Turns 25:AMD Thursday celebrated its first 25 years
in Austin, TX. Founded in Silicon Valley in 1969, AMD began operations
in Austin in the fall of 1979 with 72 employees. Today, the global
technology company employs more than 3,000 employees in Austin where it
designs industry-leading 64-bit microprocessors, low-power embedded
processors and operates a state-of-the-art semiconductor manufacturing
facility, AMD Fab 25, which produces Flash memory – a pervasive
technology that is powering the rapid growth in digital devices such as
mobile phones, PDAs, and DVD players.

Microsoft Partner Pack for Windows XP - Windows-Help.NET

Microsoft Partner Pack for Windows XP - Windows-Help.NET - Microsoft last week silently released a software dubbed the "Partner Pack for Windows XP". The free add-on pack includes new Microsoft and 3rd party software items.

The most useful items contained in the Partner Pack are:

* Microsoft USB Flash Drive Manager. Will help you backup and restore presentation, pictures, songs and applications from and to USB Flash Drive devices and take them with you. The application can also help you to classify and name USB Flash Drives images (for instance "My network configuration" or "The pictures for my grandma") and lets you see this name whenever the USB Flash Drive is plugged into the computer.

* Post-it® Software Notes. This digital version of 3M's famous canary yellow® note is perfect for quick reminders on your computer desktop so you never miss a meeting, event or thought.

* Google Deskbar. Google Deskbar™ lets you search using Google right from your desktop, even when your browser isn't running. Search from the Google Deskbar search box located within your Windows taskbar. Or type the Ctrl+Alt+G keyboard shortcut to jump to the Google Deskbar instantly. Search results appear in a "mini-viewer" window that closes automatically when you're done.

* eTrust™ EZ Antivirus 2005. Award winning antivirus protection software for your home and home office PC developed by a world leader in internet security software. It protects email and other files by automatically removing viruses, worms, and Trojan horses. eTrust EZ Antivirus automatically downloads new virus protection updates on a daily schedule to keep the program up to date against the latest virus threats. This subscription includes 12 months of virus protection updates, plus FREE 24 X 7 internet support.

Read about the rest of the apps at Windows-Help.NET

Firefox Release Candidate 1.0

Mozilla has released the first (and probably only) release candidate of the Firefox browser on its ftp servers, in much the quiet fashion. The official release of Firefox is slated for November 9th.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Dremel Pumpkin Carving Kit

Slashdot - GimpyMcJackass writes "With Halloween just around the corner, Dremel has "developed" the ultimate pumpkin carver set. It actually looks like it's just your normal dremel (although it's translucent orange) with a 191 high speed cutter
and some fancy patterns. Of course, if you already have a Dremel and
cutter (or reasonable knock-off of either/both), then you can just download some patterns."

Hypo-Allergenic Cats Now Available for Pre-Order

Finally, my cousin Laura could come over to my house! Woohoo! Let's buy some cats! :)

Slashdot | Hypo-Allergenic Cats Now Available for Pre-Order: "'Allerca Inc is now taking reservations for genetically engineered hypo-allergenic cats, which it calls 'lifestyle pets'... and apparently they are just the beginning... Read the press release here... and you can take delivery of a cuddy non-sinus bothering bundle of joy for just $3500. 'The hypoallergenic cats produced by ALLERCA will allow consumers to enjoy the love and companionship of a pet without the cost, inconvenience, risk, and limited effectiveness of current allergy treatments. Clients will take delivery of the first ALLERCA kittens in 2007. The hypoallergenic cat is the first of a planned series of lifestyle pets that ALLERCA will develop over the next few years.' Meow!'"

Firefox Shooting For 10 Percent

You know me and my Firefox cheerleading - Go Firefox! Just to add another set of statistics to the mix, according to, through October so far, Mozilla has 17.2% of their visitors' market share, up from 16.9% last month - and October isn't even over yet. On that site, Mozilla's share of the pie has increased every single month since January 2003, which is the first month it is listed. Here's that link.

Slashdot | Firefox Shooting For 10 Percent: "Random BedHead Ed writes 'An article on ZDNet Monday features an interview with Bart Decrem, the Mozilla organization spokesman, who says that by the end of next year they expect to have 10% of the browser share. 'We have the momentum,' he says. He attributes some of the success to faster browsing and a lack of software bloat, and suggests that other open source projects might see similar success if they trim features. The article also quotes some very interesting figures from ZDNet's own web servers. About 9% of ZDnet visitors were using a Mozilla browser in February; now in it's at 19%.' The average for OSTG overall is about 30%."

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Sweet Coding Success

Well... after wrestling with my XP install in VMWare on my Linux box all weekend, I discovered this evening that the glorious (and free!) ASP .NET Web Matrix program allows you to write ASP .NET code and test it with its own built in mini-web server on XP Home. So, I can use it on my laptop! (The whole point of doing my web development on my laptop is so that I can bring it with me to do live demos to clients on the laptop... it being portable. And with all servers running locally, I don't need to rely on a client's internet connection).

Anyhooo so I won't be needing that XP install after all (though I'm glad I did it, because I'll eventually move all of my Windoze related stuff to that new virtual machine since it has the larger virtual hard disk).

So I stopped at Borders this evening to find me an ASP .NET book that has some detail on the Calendar control. I have a few books already, but none did anything but show the default calendar, and I needed something to demonstrate binding data to it. The goal of this little piece of the application is to display the current month's calendar, with hyperlinks to dates with events scheduled. Click on a highlighted date, and the event will show beneath the calendar.

I found what I needed in a Wrox book - "Beginning ASP .NET 1.1 with VB .NET 2003." You too for $39.99 can use 5 pages of the entire book! But I really can't complain - it saved my life and sanity by clearly explaining what I needed to do. After some monkeying around to make it fit my database, it finally worked.

Ya see - I haven't coded ASP .NET in, oh, at least 2 years. My dumb arse took on a web project requiring Microsoft Front Page and ASP .NET. (Barf!) I figured - it's all programming, it'll come back to me.... RIGHT! I stared at a blank screen the other night, completely unable to remember anything useful about ASP .NET. So this book will actually be good to have on hand, since the only ASP .NET books I have already are at least 2 years old. That's ancient in programming years.

And let me tell ya - the community of ASP programmers is way less friendly about sharing code than the open source community! I couldn't find a useful tutorial on the web to save my life. When I need PHP help, all I have to do is google and shazam - tons of helpful links. Here's a plea to all of the Microsoft programmers out there: share share alike! The world would be a much friendlier and productive place! But I guess proprietary code is just the essense of what it is to be "Microsoft." I won't be joining that club anytime soon.

So... my calendar is now working. All I have to do is integrate it into the site template I developed, and then start working on the database manipulation page for the calendar db, which I don't anticipate being nearly as "new" to me as the calendar. (I've worked with databases in ASP .NET before - I'd never played with the calendar until now).

I will sleep well tonight after this sweet coding success, and the rest of this project will hopefully go smoothly. Wish me luck!

Monday, October 25, 2004

Saturday's Poker Tourney

Well, Saturday's poker tourney went alright- it went well for my boyfriend (placed 4th/19), and great for 2 of my friends (placed 1st and 3rd - a nice accomplishment, especially since this is only their 2nd attendance at this game). For me - well, I played my hands the way I wanted to play them, and I don't think I could have done anything differently that would have affected the outcome. But, I placed somewhere around 11th or so (I didn't even look closely at the loser board to count my position... I was somewhere in the middle).

It was a night of big hands being beat by bigger hands. I myself had 2 occasions where my nut flush got beat by a full house on the river. Lost some chips in those hands. On 4 separate hands, I had a small pocket pair (twice they were 7's - odd) make a set on the flop. All 4 times, I bet the minimum bet when the board was checked to me, and all 4 times everybody folded. So I made no money on any of those hands - just picked up the blinds. That's a little frustrating, but I didn't want to slow-play them, because each time there were 2-to-a-suit onboard, and I didn't want to give anyone a chance to catch a flush. I've been burned way too many times with that move.

The hand of the night: I wasn't involved in this one, but it was a doozey. Nobody raises the pot, and the big blind calls with 4-2. Flop comes 4-4-2. Big blind flopped a boat. He bet out - not a huge bet (but I can see why, as what could anyone possibly have on that board worth sticking around for? Ya don't want to scare people out). One caller. Fourth street comes a 7. Boat man bets out big. Gets called. River comes a 7. Boat man bets big again. Caller goes all in (about double the current bet). Boat man is in a quandry. He agonizes over his decision, knowing that even one 7 would have him beat (7's over 4's would beat his 4's over 2's). He ended up laying down the boat. (I don't think I could have done it - it was a gutsy laydown). Caller flips over his quad 7's. He was holding pocket 7's. Curious that he didn't raise pre-flop, but... whatever. Great hand to watch at any rate.

A couple boats got beat by higher boats at other tables - things like that. Big hands all night.

The hand that took me out: it was down to 5 at my table, and my stack was about average for who was sitting around me (though short-stacked compared to the chip leaders at the other tables). I held J-10 offsuit, called the big blind. Board came J - rag - rag (or so I thought). I bet, had a couple callers, including Mr. BB. Turn came a 5, and the river came the completion of a gapped straight: so it looked like 7 - 3 - J - 5 - 9. I bet all the way down, got called all the way down till the river when I got re-raised for the remainder of my stack. Mr. BB is a bit of a bully, and I had a decent kicker with my top pair so I said, what the heck. Make it or break it. I called, he flipped over his straight with his 6-8 offsuit. 6-8?? You've got to be kidding me. Nope, no joke. I was out.

Moral of that story: I should have raised pre-flop. Just calling the big blind was a mistake, considering the person in the big blind ended up beating me, and I'm sure he'd have folded if I raised pre-flop. I have to get this through my thick skull: if a hand is good enough to play, it's good enough to raise. If I wouldn't raise with it, I shouldn't be playing it at all (unless it's a freebie in the big blind). These conservative moves end up kicking me in the butt sometimes - a lot of times actually.

Oh well - at least my friends placed well, and I had a good time, so all is well.

My Pumpkin

Well, I made my own pumpkin carving template and tried it out last night, and it worked! Here are the results. My pumpkin is the cat (on the left), and my boyfriend's pumpkin is on the right. I think they turned out awesome! :)

Shelly and Randys Pumpkins

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Windows XP Second Edition

[H]ard|OCP: "Windows XP: Second Edition:
This could be is a very good thing. Remembering how Windows 98 and Windows 98SE worked, this may mean that Windows XP will be supported for a long time to come. That means you, the consumer, can save your $$$ because you won't have to buy a new OS.

Speaking yesterday at the Gartner Symposium in Orlando, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said that a number of important security initiatives were underway for Windows, some of which would be part of a pre-Longhorn 'Release 2' for Windows XP. Beyond noting this, Ballmer did not disclose any details regarding when we might see R2, or just what it would contain. In fact, he didn't give any time frames for anything, be it Longhorn, Windows Server 2005, Office 12, or when Steinbrenner plans to make his life easier by recruiting Clone War rejects."

Slashdot | San Fran Mayor Declares Wireless for All

Slashdot | San Fran Mayor Declares Wireless for All: "arvind s. grover writes 'San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom stated yesterday in his state of the city address that every San Francisco resident will have free wireless internet access. "

Philadelphia (my former home and city I dearly love) proposed something similar a few months back. Oh, jealous! I don't think they've done anything with it, and it doesn't look like San Fran has too much planned out at this point. Probably just another one of those foo-foo political promises. It'll be interesting to see which city actually makes it to market with such a thing first, and how they do it (and how they pay for it!)

Carving Pumpkins Tonight

Well, I'm carving my Halloween pumpkin tonight, and I decided to seek out some cool stencils on the web. I think I want to do a cat this year. I've never used a stencil or pattern before - I've always done your traditional jack-o-lantern faces. This year I'm going to try my luck.

After searching for stencils for a while, I found some OK ones, but nothing that really grabbed me. So I decided to draw my own. Now - I suck at drawing, but since stencils are kinda blocky anyway, I don't think mine turned out half bad. It's a bit like a pumpkin I saw online, and we'll see how it turns out! I'll post a photo of my pumpkin if it isn't too embarrassing.

My cousin Kevin is obsessed with the Statue of Liberty, and I found him a Lady Liberty stencil. There are some cool ones out on the web - just do a Google search for "pumpkin patterns" or "pumpkin stencils." I found lots of free ones - everything from the standard pumpkin faces, to George W. Bush and John Kerry, to the Osbournes, to Sponge Bob Squarepants and Hello Kitty. (Is Hello Kitty still around? I guess so - it was huge when I was a kid. I guess it all comes back around...)

Here's a good link with some pumpkin carving tips and other Halloween stuff:
Halloween Online Magazine - Pumpkin Carving 101

Slashdot | Yahoo Shuts Down Their PayPal Competitor

Slashdot | Yahoo Shuts Down Their PayPal Competitor: LostCluster writes "MSNBC and ZDnet are both reporting that Yahoo and HSBC have announced a shutdown plan for their PayDirect service which was their rival to PayPal. Since CitiBank abandoned their c2it service last year, PayPal now seems to be a monopoly by default." There are other players in this field, though, like bidpay and worldpay."

-- I can't say this surprises me at all - I use Yahoo! mail (primarily as my spam-able address that I put in web forms), and every time I go to their site and see the Yahoo PayDirect link, I always wonder how it makes any money, as I've never known a single person who has used it. PayPal has just always been the standard, particularly if you use eBay. Now that the two are one in the same, it's probably even harder to use any other payment service through eBay.

I would say that this news is disturbing, but honestly I've always been happy with PayPal (even post-eBay-acquisition), so it really doesn't bother me. In general though I'm a big fan of competition, so the exodus of competitors from the online payment services market can't be a good thing.

Slashdot | NY Times Endorses Open-Source Election Software

Slashdot | NY Times Endorses Open-Source Election Software: "'On its editorial page today, the New York Times called for election system reform, saying among other things that 'Congress should impose much more rigorous safeguards, including a requirement that all computer code be made public. It should require that all electronic machines produce a voter-verified paper trail.''"

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Google's Making Money

Google is making money... 19 cents per share in its first 3 months as a public company, to be exact.

Who wishes she had money to invest?? (Me Me!)

It's too bad ya gotta have money to make money. It's the ultimate slap in my broke-ass face. Oh well - I'm playing in a poker tourney tonight. Wish me some luck luck luck! Maybe then I can buy a share of Google :)

Read all about the googley wealth... here.

The Amazing Curt Schilling

The more I think about the extremes to which Curt Schilling has gone to pitch for his Boston Red Sox, the more I am amazed (and the more I'm grossed out!!)

"No one else, of course, ever had a dislocated ankle tendon sutured temporarily into place by stitching the skin to the deep tissue below it, much less had gone ahead to do it a second time less than a week later to pitch in a game of this magnitude."

That just about says it all. Read the story, respect the man, and GO BO-SOX!

Gwen Stefani is a StepMommy

Gwen Stefani (of the band No Doubt) and her rock star husband Gavin Rossdale (does he still count as a rock star if Bush hasn't done anything since the mid 90's?) have found out that Gavin is the biological father of a 15 year old British model. Oops!

Sounds like Gwen is pissed! I would be too, since Gavin originally denied having a relationship with the girl's mother. That's some non-relationship to have created a child!

They've been married what, like 2 years? 3 years maybe? Well you know, Gwen always said - "a true love survives a rock steady vibe." This sure is some vibe.

The dirt is over at Yahoo News.

Fannie May Candy is Back!

Oh sweet joy!!!

Fannie May has been bought out and is reopening stores all over Chicagoland. They plan to have 47 stores open in the area by Thanksgiving, and that is a lot of sweet sweet goodness! Mmmmm meltaways and pixies... Yum!

Read all about it courtesy of the Daily Herald.

Boost Your Web Business: Sell Something!

I enjoyed this article over at It talks about how to make more money by developing products by explaining the fundamental flaw in service business models: the requirement that you trade resources for dollars. When you develop a product, you can resell that product again and again, capitalizing on the resources you initially invested. In a perfect world, I think a web design business would do both: offer innovative products as well as service.

This article goes pretty in depth on choosing a target or niche market and breaking your new product into that market. Worth a read if you run your own service-based business.

Product Strategies To Boost Your Web Business [Work Smarter]: "Product Strategies To Boost Your Web Business"

Windows vs. Linux Security: The Facts

I wish I had the brainpower to read this right now - maybe you will. A reality-based comparison of Windows and Linux security. Can somebody tell me who wins?

Find this article at the Register - always a good read.

America's Most Connected Campuses

Slashdot linked to an interesting little article over on - "This second annual edition of The Princeton Review's 25 Most Connected Campuses examines the technological capabilities of the country's best schools and tells you which campuses are on the cutting edge."

The Top 10:
  1. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  2. Bryant University
  3. DePauw University
  4. Temple University
  5. University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
  6. Cornell University
  7. Duquesne University
  8. The Catholic University of America
  9. University of Pennsylvania
  10. University of Georgia
Ahhh UGA - I dreamed of moving to Athens and going to the University of Georgia once upon a time. Having turned 30 the other day though, I guess my college residential days are long gone!

I teach at a community college, and I sure do wish our campus was "cutting edge" - or any edge at all! I guess I should not complain. We finally got a couple WiFi hotspots on campus this semester (of course none in my building or anywhere that they'd do me any actual good). I hear the signal strength on them is crap anyway, so I don't know what I think I'm wishing for.

I sure sound grumpy tonight don't I?! Yeup, it's time for bed. (I know, I said that last post....)

Here's a link to that full Forbes article.

Loading XP on Linux with VMWare

Well, tonight I find myself reinstalling Windows. Doh!! No, no - I haven't abandoned Linux. Quite the contrary. A few months back, I had discovered the joys of VMWare Workstation, a piece of software that lets you run multiple operating systems on one computer via "virtual machines." So, I was running Windows XP on my Linux box. Well, when I installed it back then, I forgot how sickly bloated XP was, and only gave myself a 4 GB partition in which to run XP. Needless to say, that is not enough; XP itself takes nearly the entire 4 gig!

I had found a how-to for enlarging my VMWare "virtual disk" size, by creating a second larger virtual disk, then using Norton Ghost to clone the original virtual disk to the new larger one. That would be all fine and good, if in fact it worked. I don't know if it's just me, or the fact that my version of Ghost is a couple years old, but every time I tried to do the clone, it would hang at some random spot in the middle of copying the drive. I tried everything I could think of, including defragmenting the source disk and various other things I'd read about when googling for help. Nothing worked. I needed another solution.

So I decided to create a new virtual machine with the proper sized partition this time. I create a 40GB virtual disk, and set out to load XP again. Of course, I ran into the same problems I had run into a few months back when trying to get the virtual machine to boot from the CD: it wasn't recognizing my CDROM drive.

I ended up having to do 4 things to make it work:

1. Set the CDROM drive to /dev/hdc (or whatever your CD drive is). For whatever reason, the default /dev/cdrom wouldn't work for me, even though it works on my other virtual machines under VMWare.

2. As root: CHMOD 66 /dev/hdc

3. Toggle "legacy emulation" to "on" in VMWare for the CDROM drive.

4. When VMWare boots up, hit F2 to enter VMWare's BIOS. Go under the "Boot" menu and set it to boot from the CDROM drive. (This is a critical step that I missed last time I had installed XP. I ended up making the 6 floppy setup boot disks, and what a pain that was!)

Right now, I'm suffering the horrors of Windows Update, patching this new XP install. Ugh.

So why am I going through all of this, you wonder? Well, I have a web development client who is insisting that I use Microsoft's ASP .NET, as other components of their web site already use it. They are also requiring me to provide to them a Microsoft Front Page template. (I despise Front Page to the core of my very soul). So - I have to get an IIS web server up, and sadly my new laptop runs XP Home and not XP Pro. XP Pro is required in order to run ASP .NET. Like I said, my original XP-on-the-Linux-box didn't have enough free hard drive space to load anything else, so I'm creating a new XP install with plenty of room to run the web server, .NET framework, and anything else I might need. I hope to avoid installing Visual Studio .NET (what a nightmare that is... hours and hours!) - I'm going to try to use Dreamweaver for my ASP .NET coding (it has various extensions that make such a thing possible), and then just make the web template in Front Page at the last minute. Man I hate Front Page.

So that is my tale of woe for the day. Remind me NEVER AGAIN to take on a project that requires the use of Microsoft products exclusively. It's not even paying that well, and for all the time I'm putting in trying to configure my systems to run properly for this project, it's hardly worth the money.

I hope your evening has been better than mine! :) As soon as this service pack is done installing, I am off to bed!

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Still No Hockey

Sadness... Yesterday, the NHL told its 30 teams that it can schedule its arenas 45 days in advance instead of the previous 30, a sign that there won't be hockey in those arenas anytime soon.

The two sides:

Team owners: "It's frustrating. The union has not chosen to get serious about negotiations."

Players' Union: "It's very clear that the league and its teams are far more concerned with booking concerts than negotiating a solution to end the owners' lockout."

At this point, I don't care who's right or wrong... I just want them to play hockey! :(

Read the full story over at

BoSox Win!!!

The Boston Red Sox became the first team in major league baseball history to erase a 3 games to none deficit and come back to win a playoff series. Damon the Demon is the hero of the night!

Read all about it!

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Five million Firefoxes released into the wild

Take back the web! Take back the web! Mozilla's Firefox browser (still in its "preview release" format, with the highly anticipated official release coming November 9th) reached the 5 million downloads mark on Monday, making it THE most downloaded Mozilla based browser of all times, according to Check out the article on

Sick of spyware? Get Firefox! Tired of a clunky browser interface? Firefox has efficient tabbed browsing! Want to try a browser that is actually revolutionizing the web browser (as opposed to the Mother Ship, who has been for years sitting on its butt assuming that market share is reason enough to quit innovating and improving)? Get Firefox!

Five million Firefoxes released into the wild -

Top 11 Geek Pick Up Lines

BBSpot has some giggles going on: the top 11 geek pick up lines.

My fave - "You had me at 'Hello World.'"

I also liked: "Have you ever googled yourself?"

Good for a laugh! Check it out -

BBspot - Top 11 Geek Pick Up Lines: Part II

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Get Over Fear of Rejection

Get over your fear of rejection... business style, anyway! (one of my favorite sites) has an article on their web sales blog with tips on how to get over your fear of rejection, particularly when pitching web design and development sales to clients or potential clients. Aside from my reluctance to take major risks (see my handwriting analysis, in a post below!), the one thing that keeps me from pursuing web development full time is the fact that I am not a sales person. It's not that I couldn't be - it's just that I'm such NOT a fan of rejection that I would never bet my living on being able to sell my services. I mean - nobody likes rejection, but I have a thing with taking it personally when it comes to business. I can't help relating business rejection to personal failure. (I know, BIG personality flaw!)

So reading this article, I may just try some of the tips they suggest.

1. The "no" game. Go around asking people questions for which you expect to be turned down.

"Can I borrow a hundred bucks?"

"Wanna go out on a date?"

"Can I please shave your cat?"

Get used to hearing "no" and even make a game out of it, have fun with it. Hmmm. The more you hear it, the less it stings.

2. Pursue a goal way bigger than selling your web services. That way, perspective lends itself to showing you how small in fact the act of pursuing a web job really is, in the grand scheme of things.

Interesting stuff. Check out the entire article.

AMD Slashes Prices, Ships 4 GHz CPU


AMD today introduced the Athlon 64 4000+ and Athlon 64 FX-55, as anticipated, along with price cuts across the rest of its 64-bit desktop and desktop-replacement mobile CPU line-up.

Read all about it over at the Register. also has a nice writeup on the Athlon 64 4000+ chip.

Now if I could just win the lottery....

Does Open Source Deserve a Place in Your IT Portfolio?

Interesting article over at NewsForge. Some key quotes from a keynote speaker at the Symposium/ITxpo:

"You'd be stupid not to use open source as part of your application management strategy."

"Most of us aren't going to Linux from Microsoft or Sun because of ideological concerns. We're doing it because it's cheap."

OK - But why? Read on here.

Firefox Launch Ad Campaign

On November 9th, Firefox 1.0 will take back the web. We want the world to know it. Join us over at SpreadFirefox as we raise funds for the most ambitious launch campaign in open source history. A portion of each donation will go towards taking out a full-page ad in the New York Times celebrating the release. All donors will be listed in the ad, the signatories of a declaration of independence from a monopolized and stagnant web. Will you be a part of the open source legacy?

Donate to the Firefox Ad Campaign!
Donate now and get your name in the NY Times! $30 gets you one name listed ($10 student rate). Be part of
The Firefox Advocacy Ad Campaign — the first-ever, full-page advertisement in a major daily newspaper created and paid for by the open source community.
Get Firefox!

Monday, October 18, 2004

Configuring Email Links in Firefox

If you run Mozilla Firefox under Linux, it does not know how to handle email "mailto:" links by default. You get an error about an unrecognized protocol or something along those lines. (Note: if you use Firefox in Windows, you won't have this problem. It's Linux-specific).

Newsforge has a nice little article on the Mozex extension, which you can use to configure the handling of mailto: hyperlinks in Firefox to call up your email client (amongst other things). I'll have to try this when I get home - I had trouble installing Mozex a few weeks back, but didn't bother to investigate the issue.

Using Firefox's Mozex Extension to Call an External Mail Client

Confessions of a Recent Linux Convert

Nice little article over at, written by a former Microsoft Windows user who now runs Linux happily on the desktop. The main perks: reduced cost, lower hardware requirements, less crashing and instability, and fewer (read: no!) viruses.

I have to agree. I switched to Linux about 6 months ago, and the only crash I ever encounter (it has happened a total of twice now in 6 months - that's a total of TWO reboots of my machine... in 6 months...) is related to SuperKaramba and the weather theme I have running on my desktop. I haven't bothered to investigate the cause, but considering that it only happens about once every quarter of a year, I'm not too worried about fixing it.

The programs I use now for web browsing and email - namely, Mozilla Firefox and Thunderbird - I find to be superior to their Microsoft equivalents. The Mozilla Calendar, which I use in place of Outlook's calendar, is on par if not superior. I miss the integration of the calendar with the entire email suite, but it's a small sacrifice - particularly considering that the Mozilla calendar is based on open standards (which gives me a warm fuzzy feeling I never get when using Microsoft's proprietary formats). Using's office suite is plenty fine for a casual user like me, who just does basic word processing and the occasional spreadsheet. It's compatible with MS Office files, too, so no issues there. I do prefer the interface of MS Word, as's word processor looks a bit "dated" to me - like I'm working on an app from 1997 - but looks aren't everything. The functionality and compatibility are there, and that's what's important.

Not having to worry about viruses is fantastic. You wouldn't believe the peace of mind that comes from knowing you're invulnerable to them.

My new laptop (about 4 months old now) runs Windows XP, and I use it when I need to run Dreamweaver. (I haven't yet invested in Crossover Office for Linux to be able to run Dreamweaver on my Linux box). In the 4 months I've had the laptop, it's already starting to hang and crash on me due to software crud. I can't believe, not even a half year into its useful life, and XP already needs a reload. Rebooting after some random crash the other day reminded me how much more stable life is on the Linux side of things.

Check out the "Confessions of a Recent Linux Convert" article here.

Java vs. PHP Job Requirements

Great article over on Jeff Moore's blog, comparing the requirements listed on for 10 Java programming jobs and 10 PHP programming jobs. Here are some of the results:

Java : avg 4.5 years of required IT Experience
PHP : avg 2.3 years of required IT experience

Java minimum education requirements:
4 of 6 CS Degree (100%)
2 of 6 Bachelors degree (33%)
4 of 10 unspecified

PHP minimum education requirements:
2 of 10 CS Degree (30%)
2 of 10 Bachelors degree (20%)
6 of 10 Associates degree (60%)

PHP jobs focus much more on page authoring with photoshop experience desired, CSS, and Flash.

Java jobs were much more server oriented. 8 Out of the 10 Java jobs required experience with a specific application server. There is really no equivalent on the PHP side.

No surprise MySQL dominates in the PHP world.

The PHP Jobs had 33 different skill requirements:
Apache, CSS, CVS, ColdFusion, Crystal Reports, DNS, Database Design, Dreamweaver, Flash, Graphic Design, HTML, IIS, JavaScript, LDAP, Linux, MySQL, Object Oriented, Oracle, PL/SQL, Perl, Photoshop, PostgreSQL, SEO, SOAP, SQL, SQL Server, Shell Scripts, Smarty, Unix, XML, XSLT, e-commerce, illustrator

The Java Jobs had 70 different skill requirements:
Applets, ATG Dynamo, Apache, Application servers, CSS, CVS, ClearCase, DB Design, DB2, EJB, Graphic Design, HTML, IIS, IntelliJ IDEA, J2EE, JAAS, JBOSS, JBuilder, JDBC, JDeveloper, JMS, JMX, JNDI, JSF, JSP, JSTL, JUnit, Java beans, JavaMail, Javascript, LDAP, MVC, NT, OLAP/Datawarehouse, Object Oriented, Oracle, PL/SQL, Patterns, Perfoce, RMI, RUP, Rational Rose, SOAP, SQL Navigator, SQL Server, Servlets, Shell scripting, SitemInder, Solaris, StarTeam, Struts, Sun certification, Testing, Tiles, Together J, Tomcat, UDB, UML, Unix, WSAD, Web Serviecs, Web frameworks, Weblogic, Websphere, Websphere Studio, XML, XSLT, e-commerce, iPlanet, optimizeIT

Interesting stuff - check out the full writeup at Jeff Moore's blog here.

Mailinator - Stop Giving Out Your Email Addy for Spam!

Cool site - a friend of mine had recommended it to me a while back and I'd lost the link. Now I present it to you: partially out of my willingness to share, and partially to archive it someplace where I can go back and find it later!

The blurb from Mailinator's web site:

"Get enough SPAM lately? Have you ever gone to a website that asks for your email address for no reason (other than they are going to sell it to the highest bidder so you get spam forever)?

Welcome to Mailinator(tm) - Its no signup, instant anti-spam service. Here is how it works: You are on the web, at a party, or talking to your favorite insurance salesman. Whereever you are, someone (or some webpage) asks for your email. You know if you give it, you're gambling with your privacy. On the other hand, you do want at least one message from that person. The answer is to give them a mailinator address. You don't need to sign-up. You just make it up on the spot. Pick or - pick anything you want (up to 15 characters before the @ sign).

Later, come to this site and check that account. Its that easy. Mailinator accounts are created when mail arrives for them. No signup, no personal information, and when you're done - you can walk away - an instant solution to one way spammers get your address. Its an anti-spam solution for everyone. The messages are automatically deleted for you after a few hours.

Let'em spam."

I wish I'd used it on that handwriting analysis site I just did.... at least I used my "spam" email address. (Yahoo Mail is still good for something!) -- All hail Gmail!

Handwriting Analysis

We've all seen personality tests based on quizzes, or your astrological sign, but how many of you have had your handwriting analyzed? I came across a site today that has a handwriting self-analysis quiz, and at the end it gives a lengthy report on your personality based on your handwriting. Let me tell you, it's frighteningly accurate! It even pointed out a couple aspects of my personality that I keep pretty private. Kinda creepy!

Here are some blurbs about me:

"One way Shelly punishes herself is self directed sarcasm. She is a very sarcastic person. Often this sarcasm and "sharp tongued" behavior is directed at herself." -- YIKES! Yeah, they got me.

"Shelly is a practical person whose goals are planned, practical, and down to earth. This is typical of people with normal healthy self-esteem. She needs to visualize the end of a project before she starts. She finds joy in anticipation and planning. She feels she has the ability to achieve anything she sets her mind to. However, she sets her goals using practicality-- not too "out of reach." She has enough self-confidence to leave a bad situation, yet, she will not take great risks, as they relate to her goals. A good esteem is one key to a happy life. Although there is room for improvement in the confidence catagery, her self-perception is better than average." -- true dat

"In reference to Shelly's mental abilities, she has a very investigating and creating mind. She investigates projects rapidly because she is curious about many things. She gets involved in many projects that seem good at the beginning, but she soon must slow down and look at all the angles. She probably gets too many things going at once. She has the best of two kinds of minds. One is the quick investigating mind. The other is the creative mind. Her mind thinks quick and rapidly in the investigative mode. She can learn quicker, investigate more, and think faster. Shelly can then switch into her low gear. When she is in the slower mode, she can be creative, remember longer and stack facts in a logical manner. She is more logical this way and can climb mental mountains with a much better grip." -- Can I put that on my resume??

"Shelly will be candid and direct when expressing her opinion. She will tell them what she thinks if they ask for it, whether they like it or not. So, if they don't really want her opinion, don't ask for it!" -- couldn't be more true!

"People that write very large tend to be very social and friendly. It seems Shelly has this type of writing. This indicates a need for people and a particular natural ability to socialize and be the life of the party. Now, if Shelly also has specific fears (like fear of criticism or fear of trust) then she will deny she is the life of the party, because fear has overcome her natural inclination to be social. People with large handwriting tend to be effective at anything that requires interaction with lots of people. She is a people person." -- This one REALLY creeped me out. I do deny that I am the life of the party. I'm a Libra (astrologically speaking), also known as being the life of the party. Hmmm...

Interesting stuff. While these sorts of tests may be generalized and non-specific, they sure do give ya some food for thought!

Go get your own analysis -

Web Standards Based PowerPoint Alternative

Ever wanted to create a nice slideshow presentation and put it on the web, only to find that Microsoft's PowerPoint creates clunky, bloated, proprietary HTML code when you output your .ppt slideshow as a web page?

Check this out - Eric Meyer, CSS guru extraordinaire, has created "S5: A Simple Standards-Based Slide Show System." A snippet from his web site:

"S5 is a slide show format based entirely on XHTML, CSS, and JavaScript. With one file, you can run a complete slide show and have a printer-friendly version as well. The markup used for the slides is very simple, highly semantic, and completely accessible. Anyone with even a smidgen of familiarity with HTML or XHTML can look at the markup and figure out how to adapt it to their particular needs. Anyone familiar with CSS can create their own slide show theme. It's totally simple, and it's totally standards-driven.

As a bonus, its markup is compatible with the Opera Show Format, and S5 is engineered to be displayed using Opera Show when a presenation is run using Opera."

I was playing around with the pre-1.0 release version and am stoked as heck to try out some of the new themes and mess around with creating my own. Good times.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Tommy Lee Plays with College Marching Band

Being a former band geek myself, I got a kick out of this article. Tommy Lee (famed drummer of the band Motley Crue, amongst other pornographic pursuits) played on the drum line with the University of Nebraska marching band this weekend. The picture says it all - band was never THAT cool when I was in it!! Check it out over at Yahoo News.

Coding Web Sites: Mozilla Firefox or IE?

I just finished reading an article over at about how despite the growing market share that Mozilla Firefox (and to a lesser extent, Opera) are acquiring, many companies are continuing to code their web sites to support Internet Explorer exclusively. Many developers cited in the article claim that the expense of re-writing code, or coding for multiple browsers, is cumbersome and expensive. So, they default to writing their web pages to work in IE. Period.

I completely agree that writing code for multiple browsers - well, it sucks, and it doesn't address the real problem at hand: browser incompatibility. That's a problem we may well never solve, as various browser vendors try to keep their products competitive and (particularly in the cases of Microsoft and Netscape) proprietary.

But - web develpers CAN solve the problem of making web sites functional and attractive across multiple browsers. How? Stick to web standards!!! It boggles my mind that more developers don't jump on the standards bandwagon, as it truly does solve the problem of writing multiple versions of web pages for various browsers.

Today's web browsers are getting better and better in terms of W3C standards support. Even recent browsers support enough of the web standards (recent as in, IE5/Netscape6/Opera5/Mozilla1.0 era) to make writing web code to W3C standards a practical solution. If you need to support ancient browsers like version 4 and earlier - and honestly, you shouldn't (unless you want to contribute to the global internet problem of browser incompatibility) - you can still use standards like CSS to generate functional but less fancy versions of your web site, without writing multiple versions of web pages.

While companies with existing web sites that are written in an all-IE-based fashion will have some investment if they want to covert to standards-based web solutions, it's not something that has to be done all at once. Implementing web standards on an existing web site can be done gradually, bit by bit, until all components have been validated and converted to be standards-compliant. For companies overhauling a web site or starting from scratch, it should be a no-brainer. Comply to web standards, and your pages will be visible to the greatest number of people using the greatest variety of web browsers. In essence, you then no longer have to worry which browser (or internet device or cell phone or PDA etc etc) your visitor is using. How refreshing is THAT?!

To quote the article I just read:
"It makes good business sense to code valid, standards-compliant Web pages. We all know IE is not in any immediate danger of losing its dominance, but in the long term, who knows? Look at how quickly Netscape lost its dominance to IE. Companies can't make these costly mistakes." (Source: )

That just about says it all.

Related articles of interest:

"I Love Firefox but Can't Escape Explorer" -

Moral of the story: Don't be a non-standards-compliant web developer!

"New Firefox browser is smokin' as upstart challenges Internet Explorer" -

Thursday, October 14, 2004

When Configure Reports a Bad Interpreter...

Ran into a problem on my Linux box today that I hadn't seen before (and solved it! Gotta love a happy ending). I was trying to install ProFTPd built from source. I ran ./configure, and it was giving me the error:
bad interpreter: no such file or directory.

Mighty frustrating. Web searches turned up possible shell problems (which I did not think I had), or the possibility that the first line of the configure file was not written as #! /bin/sh (which it was).

The problem ended up being that I had extracted the tarball on a Windows machine and burned it to CD, then copied the directory onto the hard drive of the Linux box. When I un-tar'd the compressed file on the Linux box, the configure worked fine.

Lesson: don't decompress source files on Windows and expect them to work in Linux! Something in the back of my head was telling me that as I ran the tarball through WinZip, but I ignored it. Lesson #2: those little voices in my head aren't always crazy!

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Email Icon Generator

If you haven't already guessed, I'm a geek. And I just found the coolest thing! It's an icon generator that you can use to make an icon of your email address. Being the cool geek that I am, I'm making one for my Google Gmail account.

Check it out:
Shelly's GMail Icon

Too cool...

Go make your own! They also support Hotmail, Yahoo, and MSN.

Monday, October 11, 2004

If Mac OS X Came to x86, Would You Switch?

Ooooh juicy question posed over on Slashdot:

"I'm not a fan of Windows, and never have been, but I am a fan of the x86 architecture. I really like Linux, but there are still a few issues that are keeping me from switching completely. I really like Mac OS X but I don't want to drop $2000 on a computer that is only as fast as an x86 computer at half the price. Darwin, Mac OS X's unix-ish core, has been ported to x86 and Microsoft's upcoming Longhorn OS seems to be disliked by everyone but Microsoft. If Apple released Mac OS X to compete with Longhorn, would you switch?"

I have to admit: having been a full-time Linux user for about 6 months now, I can say without hesitation that I would try Mac OS X if it were available for my x86 computer. Don't get me wrong; I love my Linux box. There's one program that has me tied to Windows, however, and despite my efforts to find suitable replacements, I just can't. It's Macromedia Dreamweaver (which happens to also be available for Mac). One of my primary functions in life is web development, and I love Dreamweaver. I've tried a few of the Linux web editors, and while they're fine - they aren't DW. I particularly like Dreamweaver's site management and reporting tools, and its syntax highlighting works great for HTML and PHP, my primary languages of choice.

So - if Mac OS X came to the x86 platform, I would definitely try it out. It's *nix under the hood, so I wouldn't *really* be cheating on Linux, would I?

Would you switch?

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Need a job? A friend? A guitar?

I've been surfing around a site called and it's been quite the refreshing journey into classified ads and the like! For once, a web site that lists classifieds and job postings for "free" - no fuss, no muss. This site actually has a mission! Check this out (taken from the "About" page at

craigslist is about:

  • giving each other a break, getting the word out about everyday, real-world stuff.
  • restoring the human voice to the Internet, in a humane, non-commercial environment.
  • keeping things simple, common-sense, down-to-earth, honest, very real.
  • providing an alternative to impersonal, big-media sites.
  • being inclusive, giving a voice to the disenfranchised, democratizing ...
  • being a collection of communities with similar spirit, not a single monolithic entity.
How cool is that? I can practically feel the love. Check it out if you're looking for a job, a friend, or a new guitar.... or anything else you can think of. Chances are, you'll find it at Just be careful when typing the URL - I spelled it wrong once and ended up at a porn site. :)