Friday, December 22, 2006

Season's Greetin's

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

The very best of the season to you and yours this holiday season.

Friday, December 01, 2006

If Chris Locke says... (The Notoriety of Fame)

< andy_rooney > Didja ever notice that cool things aren't cool until cool people make a point of saying they are ... well... cool? Didja ever notice that Chris Locke is the purveyor of things with high cooliocity factors. In fact Chris Locke is the very picture of cool. Didja ever notice that? < / andy_rooney >

H/T to another Master Cooler - Frank Paynter

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

This is why America (USA) is great!

The constitution of the United States of America guarantees Newt Gingrich the right to speak his mind freely about the things he strongly believes. Quoted in the The New York Sun publication, Gingrich: Free Speech Should Be Curtailed To Fight Terrorism Mr. Gingrich makes what he believes is a strong case for the curtailment of that same right.
"This is a serious, long-term war," the former speaker said, according an audio excerpt of his remarks made available yesterday by his office. "Either before we lose a city or, if we are truly stupid, after we lose a city, we will adopt rules of engagement that use every technology we can find to break up their capacity to use the Internet, to break up their capacity to use free speech, and to go after people who want to kill us to stop them from recruiting people."

Newt, you are absolutely right! We, as a nation, should "break up their [your] capacity to use free speech" for the overthrow of this great nation and all that it stands for.

UP with Newt Gingrich!!! DOWN with Free Speech! Oh, wait, I just abdicated my right to say that...sorry. I retract everything.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

...and I told them you didn't like the 'bread component'!

Remember the old joke that starts out... "I saved your life. Jim and Joe were going to make you eat a ... sandwich..."

You do? Then you won't be at all surprised when you read this report on McDonalds Intellectual Property and the protection thereof.

McDonald's puts patent on sandwiches

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

McDonald's wants to own the rights to how a sandwich is made.

The fast-food chain has applied for a patent relating to the 'method and apparatus' used to prepare the snack.

The burger company says owning the 'intellectual property rights' would help its hot deli sandwiches look and taste the same at all of its restaurants.

It also wants to cut down on the time needed to put together a sandwich, thought to have been dreamt up by the Earl of Sandwich in 1762.

The 55-page patent, which has been filed in the US and Europe, covers the 'simultaneous toasting of a bread component'.

Garnishes of lettuce, onions and tomatoes, as well as salt, pepper and ketchup, are inserted into a cavity in a 'sandwich delivery tool'.

The 'bread component' is placed over the cavity and the assembly tool is inverted to tip out the contents. Finally, the filling is placed in the 'bread component'.

It explains: 'Often the sandwich filling is the source of the name of the sandwich; for example, ham sandwich.'

Lawrence Smith-Higgins, of the UK Patent Office, said: 'McDonald's or anyone else cannot get retrospective exclusive rights to making a sandwich.

'They might have a novel device, but it could be quite easy for someone to make a sandwich in a similar way without infringing their claims.'

McDonald's said: 'These applications are not intended to prevent anyone from using previous methods for making sandwiches.'

©2006 Associated Metro Limited

Friday, November 24, 2006

Minimal Manifesto

Value silence.

Be humble.

Do not engage in idle speculation.

Do not ask questions that are their own answers.

Do not think out loud.

Not liking something does not make the thing wrong or bad.

The Arrogance of Affluence

In an earlier post American Wealth I made the following points...
  • I have never really been hungry.
  • I have never really been thirsty.
  • I have never really been cold.
  • I have never really been homeless.
  • I have never really had to work hard.
  • I have never really been poor.
Yesterday, the Thanksgiving holiday here in the USA, was a time of abundance, excess and celebration. We made a point of just laying around, being entertained by all-day television and then eating until we were as stuffed as the the turkey. And then there was pie.

Underlying my excesses crawled a thread of reflection. Yesterday it was the "We're so rich..." thread. Here are some of the points...

  • We are so rich that we can stand for long periods of time in the shower letting clean, pure, heated (and then temperature regulated) water just splash against us and then run down the drain.
  • We are so rich that we can heat our homes so that we can wear t-shirts and shorts indoors in the winter time.
  • We are so rich that while cooking our abundant and excessive Thanksgiving dinner we actually complained that it was too hot.
  • We are so rich that we can afford to let in the winter air to cool our too hot kitchen.

...and the number one way I can tell that we are so rich...

  • We are so rich that we eat the pie filling and throw away large pieces of the crust.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Tomorrow and tomorrow.... my favorite holiday. A time when the human spirit soars. When fellowship and the sacred rite of sharing food brings us to the temple of the kitchen. Warm and comforting. Appealing to all the senses. May you and yours celebrate.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Where when you know what about who is telling.

You can tell a lot about a person when you listen to who they are talking about...

I will let you draw your own conclusions...

You worry about what Jason Calacanis says?

You know who is the current points leader in NASCAR?

You worry about what Mark Cuban will not buy next?

You can recite the guest list from Tom and Kat's wedding?

You know that Zhang Yin the richest person in China?

You really are excited about Ponzi and Chris?

You laugh or cry at hugh macleod's cartoons.

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Saturday, November 18, 2006

Breaking Habits

Bad or otherwise...

J. Wentworth was quoted in this posting Breaking Bad Habits at Cultivating Greatness

Making Changes Once you start, do everything you can to help yourself succeed: * Break your goal into several manageable steps so you can enjoy small victories along the way. * Develop new routines and activities to avoid falling into old traps. * Keep track of your progress. * Seek professional help and support groups if you feel the need. * Reward yourself for your hard work!It took time to develop your bad habit, it will take time to stop it. If you look for overnight success, you will likely be discouraged. Some days will be easier than others. If you slip up, don’t let that keep you from trying again.

All very sound advise but the post seems to have overlooked one very important part of the actual process...

As an individual who has worked through a number of 'bad habits' as well as a number of 'Ok habits' I can speak from personal experience. As an individual who has lead recovery programs and worked closely with many others who are dealing with habits I feel that I can speak from applied experience.

Breaking habits, good or bad, is a matter of stopping a behavior, plain and simple. Your feelings, fears, tensions, angst, frustration may contribute to the difficulty but they must be dealt with separately. If you want to quit smoking; just stop. And continue to stopping until you have actually quit. Here is the BIG RUDE SURPRISE - after you have stopped the smoking behavior you will still have all of your feelings, fears, tensions, angst, frustration to deal with.

So, why let all of those 'things' interfere with the cessation of a behavior. Don't allow those things to be the road block in the path to achieving your desired results. Don't choose to honor those 'things' over the clearly defined objective you have set for yourself. Just stop smoking - then address the next issue on the list.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Got a call...

Got a call from the Head Bum... seems there is a one show revival of Rent-a-Bums for Gary Allan tomorrow night. So 11:AM tomorrow we will load in the show.

It seems he is a popular Hat, Buckle and Boots entertainers with a hot number: 'A Feelin' Like That' ... from his album 'Tough All Over'.

He must be really really famous because I don't know anything he has done.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Preview: Slack 11 and the 2.6 Kernel

I mentioned that I enjoy pulp fiction, I likened it to television without the commercials. Well, I just finished Louis L'Amour's 'Tucker'. It is a coming of age novel story - Shell Tucker starts out a know-it-all boy and turns into a mature savvy young man. Classic L'Amour.

When he was interviewed L'Amour said he could write anywhere, anytime. Give him a portable typewriter and he could write in the middle of Hollywood boulevard. Part of it was his simple straight forward style. Part of it was his love of telling a good story. Part of it was writing about something he believed in deeply.

I don't think L'Amour believed in the stories that he made up. I believe he was a man who clearly knew fact from fiction. He did however believe in the values represented in his stories. Clearly he loved the hero, rough around the edges, who stood for Honor, Truth, Compassion and Commitment. He wrote simple action-adventure storys that show us what we can expect from ourselves if we hold to our core values.

Did I mention that the man just loved to write.

So where is this preview?

Slack 11 and the 2.6 Kernel - sounds like the title of an action-adventure thriller, sort of like Ocean's 11 and the Temple of Doom. Now that is a scary movie prospect.

The preview? It is coming to a blog near you. Watch your local papers for times and dates.

The [Short] J Train

John Dodds offers this 'minifesto' which I distilled yet again in red. While not as pioneering as the original M'festos John does brings to the fore a number of important points... My favorite is #9 - less because it about selling but more because it acknowledges what the customer is really all about; buying.

I think number 8 brings the matter into very clear focus - keep coming back to your customers. Get to know them, return to their values, come back to their successes with your product. Keep coming back.

The J Train (A Marketing 2.0 Minifesto).

  1. All Markets Are Up For Grabs. Focus: Re-frame the discussion.

  2. Difference Not Differentiation. Minimize the behavioral change you demand.

  3. Don't Disappoint. An informed customer is your best promotion.

  4. Make Your Marketing Sociable. Build genuine relationships with potential customers.

  5. Interaction Requires Iteration. Community, co-operation and co-creation.

  6. See The Wood For The Trees. Find out what [your customers] are like.

  7. Relate, Renew and Reinvent. You must keep coming back to your customers.

  8. Don't Forget To Sell. Sell - your customers are interested in buying.

  9. Le ROI Est Mort. ROI will rise as your engagement [discussion] intensifies.

  10. Marketing Is Not A Department. It is everybody's job.

The J train that I used to ride from lower Manhattan out to JFK is synonomous for me with expanding horizons and (with its echoes of those trains called clue and hugh) it seemed an aptly contrived title for my rough draft minifesto on this evolving thing we call marketing 2.0.

posted by john dodds @ 2:10 AM

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I'm tired... And the good news!

This has been one of those days... I am tired.

And the good news is....(* Drum roll please *)

Performancing Firefox posted correctly to on the very first try!

Oh yeah! Well done Performancing.

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

My neighbor's obnoxious sodium vapor street light

Singapore teen charged with stealing wireless internet access

Let me state for the record that stealing is wrong.

Now, lets examine the real nature of the circumstance...

My neighbor put up one of those obnoxious sodium vapor street lights on a pole that is close to my property. I will readily acknowledge that he is completely within his right to do so. Even if the light is an obnoxious eyesore. But here is the point of my rant...

Can my neighbor stop me from using the light emitted from his obnoxious street light? Hardly. He cannot control where the light goes. So I can sit out in my yard in the middle of the night and read the paper using his light if I want to...and he cannot stop me. Can my neighbor stop me from using the deterrent effect of a street light, his street ligtht, to reduce the possibility of crime in my neighborhood?

If my neighbor didn't want me to use his street light then he better direct it specifically on to his property. Or he should set the light to shine at a frequency that only he can see. Or he should turn the light off when he is not using it. Or...

My wifi network? Protected with a shared WEP key? Well, yeah... so what is your point?

Monday, November 13, 2006

I need to get a life...

I was curious so I signed up at Second Life. Learned to walk, talk and fly. Managed to stumble and tumble around for a while and then it hit a ton of virtual bricks... allow me to elucidate...

05:00 Pager goes off - sent by my primary network management system - "Wake up call." Serves as my programmable alarm clock _and_ tests the paging system.

First thing in the morning I usually check my PDA for my daily schedule and then wifi for my gMail. A quick read of the gNews followed by a check of my gReader feeds... kiss my lovely wife (the Saint) and then dropping teenagers off at highschool. Yes, I did remember my laptop, my cell phone, my PDA and my pager, thank you very much... "Make sure you e-mail me if your mother is going to pick you up after school."

Visual check of the Simplex Fire Alarm system on my way across the lobby, green is good. Check the snail mail. Checking for 'red-light' messages on printers, fax machines and copiers as I wind through the office. Through two locked doors to access my office and the network operations center.

Check the status of the network. Hobbit reporting which systems are on-line, which have system messages, which PCs have recently been rebooted. Hobbit also displays Server status - CPU loads, disk utilization, tcp connections and more. MRTG generates traffic graphs for key network connections. This big peak means the back-ups ran on schedule last night. This long sustained peak means that Sally is trying to send Halloween pictures to her sister again.

Fire up gReader on my main Slackware system (v.11 running KDE 3.5, tight) start in on the professional blogs...Trade Slicks (magazines) for the 21st century. Dock the laptop and fire it up... corporate e-mail - good the spam filter is working. Load the CCTV application - double check that all the cameras are on-line, good. Generate the Internet proxy report for last week and send a copy to the boss.

07:25 Pager goes off - sent by secondary network management system, "Morning staff meeting." Snag my first cup of office coffee then off to the morning briefing...

I need to get a life...yeah right, just what I need, a Second Life.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

New Business Computers

Business computing is not evolving as fast as the technology of PCs.

Take Joe Clerical for instance. An evaluation of his PC usage shows that he spends 10-15 minutes per day on company related e-mail. He works with an Access based program (front end for an SQL database) for 4.75 hours and he is allowed to surf the Internet on his breaks (2 x 15 min.) and lunch half-hour.

Were it not for the advances Microsoft has made with Active Directory and Domain management Joe might still be using Windows NT on a Pentium I. It is very difficult from a business perspective to reconcile buying Joe a new PC complete with OS and a new Office suite when his job requirements have not changed in the past four plus years.

Perhaps Microsoft should take a long hard look at their B-to-B model. By forcing upgrades they are pushing business folks to the very edge of their patience. This could be particularly dangerous when the competition, albeit immature and scattered, cost so very little by comparison.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Slackware 11

Not much of a post...

...just, welcome old friend.

Installed just the way it ever was... dependable, uniform, comfortable.

More to follow...

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Friday, November 10, 2006

Security Alert: Privacy is dead!

Two (count 'em, 2) years ago I posted this (adult content) which was a repost of a "Privacy " rant that I had originally posted at Winextra.

Today I followed a link pointed to by noted security specialist Bruce Schneier which took me to an interesting article on Data Mining.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Hot Mama!

BEFORE you go all ballistic on me... I am NOT referring to a woman or a stereotypical group of women in this title.

A 'Hot Mama' is a wondrous culinary delight that grew out of a special ministry that was shepherded by Tom when he lived at a student cooperative during his undergraduate years.

In the early 1970's at a small liberal arts college in southern lower Michigan there existed a 'radical-hippie-commune' student cooperative called the Goodrich Club. (The Club still exists today and carries on many of the traditions of earlier years.)
At the time the Club was all-male - a legacy of the strict views of the college. Tom decided that his personal contribution to the Club, above and beyond his regular duties, was to bake bread. At the time he was working for a Pizza shop and worked out a deal to use the mixer and the ovens after hours. So there was an abundance of fresh baked bread.

I am sure in my own mind that Tom's Gift to the club was a sort of a cross between meditation and service (ministry in action). Perhaps there was no distinction for Tom. Perhaps baking bread was just his calling.

So there was bread, many many loaves of fresh baked bread. And there was a house full of hungry young men. Young radical hippie young men and associated radical hippie young women who frequently stimulated their appetites with the serious pursuit of academic excellence, intellectual stimulation, long days and long nights of applied study and of course just a little, just a wee bit of... the munchies.

Did I mention the ministerial efforts of Tom and the presence of fresh baked bread? Oh yeah! Night or day, morning or evening there was bread. Two slices cut to an individual's particular taste and popped into the toaster. Liberally spread (it is a liberal arts college, after all) with butter on one piece and peanut butter on the other then joined in culinary matrimony to become the 'Hot Mama'. Oh yeah!

In our hours of need Tom's ministry fed us. Thanks Tom.

This was brought to the surface of my fuzzy memory by the grace of my wife's contribution, Gift, to our family - fresh baked bread. That I dutifully toast, butter, peanut butter and then enjoy as a 'Hot Mama'.

[UPDATE] Tom offered the following ...

Out of respect to the memory of my late Gramma who taught me to love
hot mammas, it must be said that the 'original' is (simply) open-faced, toast with peanut butter and jelly. And to this day, in our clan--or tribe--that is what a hot
mamma is.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

SLED, Ubuntu and Slack, oh my....

Here I am back in SLED10.

This is after an excursion into Ubuntu6.1 this morning.

U6.1 isn't too bad, as canned distos go.

Had to fight with a couple of 'features'...
  • Video still defaults to 1024x768, 800x600 or 640x480 (what is that for? PDAs?) I was able to locate an online HOW-TO that walked me through the sudo based commands to reconfigure the X Server (If this sounds scary it is a seasoned Linux Admin.)
  • Went into the 'system' controls menu and tried to reset 'Time and Date' - FUNKY! Finally realized that after setting the time I had to hit the 'Synchronize' button to get it to set the time. Sheeeeeesh.
  • I thought instead of me setting/correcting the time I would just invoke the NTP service and let it go to the network for accurate time. When I checked the box it prompted me to provide it with root credentials and then asked if I wanted to install the NTP service. When I clicked 'Install' it just thought for a second (whirling thinking symbol) and then it stopped... no dialog box, no install window, no NTP services. Harrrrumph!
  • Something down-deep that I didn't care for was a kind of latency when it comes to mouse clicks and button choices. On a couple of occasions the system seemed to offer a button, give it focus, but not let the user click on it. Seems I had to click somewhere else and then return to the button in question.

So I have returned to SLED...

Prepared by Novell, SLED is a commercial package. It is prepped to a commercial standard. It works exactly the way it is supposed to, with rare and as yet unfound exception.

This is very important in the distro perspective of things. If putting together a distro is fun and interesting that is one thing. If prepping a distro is a matter of commercial livelihood - for which a company will be held accountable - that is anther thing entirely.

As a canned distro goes, SLED10 is one of the very best I have seen. But... it is still canned.
So I will be patient ... let vamp download the 6 CD ISO images that constitute Slackware 11.

More to follow...

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

How do I compute?

This will be an 'all-day' post... chronicaling my use of this computer and others in my work and home environments.

Laptop off the changer at home, didn't fire it up - had to vote.
Laptop on the docking station at work, changed from WiFi to wired
* Logged into Laptop WinXP, started Lotus Notes, noticed there was no new spam,
* Woke up sledix (SUSE SLED10), started FireFox
Loaded Google Home Page, GMail, GReade, Meebo,
Opened three linked sites from GReader, marked 7 articles "Not Read' to save for later
Loaded to begin this post.
* Woke up polyx (Slackware 10), checked overnight download (vamp) for latest Ubuntu disto
Checked Hobbit/MRTG display for status of network
* Connected sledix to polyx via vmware-server-console
Installed latest version of Ubuntu - Disappointed that it did not automatically upgrade!
* Installed new HD in sledix, loaded Ubuntu 6.06.1
Disappointed with video resolution, poor documentation, uncomfortable GNOME UI.
(Cabled SUSE HD back and rebooted to SLED10)
* Updated Red Hat SQL server
* Checked GMail, GReader.

Lunch was spent with Jim in his Poetry Garage - So good I feel uncomfortable thinking I can write.

Just finished reading a Rob Reilly review of Ubuntu 6.1 "Edgy" and then visiting the "U" site... Now I am really torn... The prospect of loading Ubuntu6.1 vs. Slack11.0 - very difficult choice....

Configured vamp to download Ubuntu 6.1 ISO and Slack11 ISOs tonight

Problem: ActiveX applette doesn't recognize IE 7 as a supported browser
* RDP from polyx (Slack10) to Win2K3 IIS server... locate *.ini files
decoded/transliterated and edit *.ini files
* Mapped laptop to Win2K3/C$ to write edited *.ini files back to IIS server

* RDP Win2K3 IIS to stop and start web server
Tested intranet pages - activeX applette works in IE 7 ... Yea!!!

* Checked GMail, GReader.

* Changed the backup tapes...

* Go home

Ahhhhhh, got home. Pleasant family dinner, ahhhhhh.... then the election results started coming in....
* Laptop connects to home wifi (connected to DSL)
~3 hours trying to find feeds for local races in KY and MI
checked gmail
went to sleep

(awake at 05:00, repeat...)

Monday, November 06, 2006

Moving FUDward?

Anthony Taylor in his report Microsoft’s perfect timing goes a long way to putting this naive boy in his place... I just finished saying that the agreement between Novell and Microsoft was a beginning... I guess I should take lessons in 'getting a clue'

Microsoft’s perfect timing

By Anthony Taylor

Online on: 06/11/2006

Microsoft has always had excellent timing. They know when to announce a product; they know when to begin grass-roots movements to build hype for a product; they know when to create an alliance; they know when to break an alliance. They have missed some marks, that's true. They almost missed the internet boat, but were able to quickly recover with the licensing of Spyglass, Inc's browser. Microsoft's best timing, though, has always been when and where to spread Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt.

And that brings us to Novell.


Now, less than a month before the release of corporate Vista, Microsoft has created a climate that will chill that negotiation tactic. We saw Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer begin this chilling effect this last week, when he said, "If a customer says, 'Look, do we have liability for the use of your patented work?' Essentially, If you're using non-Suse Linux, then I'd say the answer is yes."

"Oh," the sales rep can say during licensing negotiations, "are you planning on installing Suse Linux?" Then they can go on about how dangerous it is to deploy GNU/Linux, unless it is Suse Linux. "And do you know how expensive that is?" they can ask.

Until now, there has been little fear about installing GNU/Linux, SCO lawsuits notwithstanding. Red Hat Linux is a particular favorite, but there are many installations of GNU/Linux without any commercial support. System administrators simply download the latest version of their favorite distribution and install. Now, businesses will be more likely to require installation of GNU/Linux with "indemnification," such as Red Hat Linux of Suse Linux, increasing substantially the price of initial implementation and adding to recurring costs. This decreases the GNU/Linux value compared to Microsoft products.

Visits from the Business Software Alliance (BSA) never worried those with GNU/Linux. With the threat of Microsoft retaliating with patents, very large corporations -- those most likely to turn to GNU/Linux, or at least use it in license negotiations with Microsoft -- are less likely to consider GNU/Linux at all, at least until this is all sorted out. By that time, they will have upgraded to Vista, allowing Microsoft to continue domination through this upgrade cycle.

In the end, this is all about Vista. This is all about a forced-march upgrade cycle. This is all about pulling the prop from under corporate threats of a mass GNU/Linux migration. This is all about removing choice.

It's all about marketing the idea that GNU/Linux is not safe, and you should probably stick with Vista.


I was surprised by Gold Farming in China... Oh yeah, surprised is not the word I will continue to use...

Second Life: Real Money in a Virtual World [Link]

I won't suggest this is ethically wrong. I won't suggest this is morally wrong.

I will only state for the record that in its entirety this is completely WRONG!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

at least M+N are trying to move forward

David Sugar in his FreeSoftwareMagazine article, From freedom to slavery; a week of two distros, issues a rallying cry, bemoaning the Novell+Microsoft deal. His rhetoric is strong and his positions are compelling. My first inclination is to uninstall my most recent SUSE instance and wave my GPL/FOSS flag high.

Yet I am left wavering... first, wishing to acknowledge that Novell's SUSE is a great distro. One of the few that, as a tool, has 'met my hand''. ("If the tool does not meet the hand do not pick it up.") SLED10 is well appointed and comfortable. The comfort is an indication that thought and preparation went into the UI. Right from the 'box' SUSE is both accessible and visually appealing. Form without function is the downfall of many distros - the Chameleon's selection of Gnome based applications provides a well integrated suite of software tools. (I once heard a Novell rep refer to the lizard as a gecko - I don't think so!)

More important than my personal tastes in Linux distributions is a base, fundamental question; Where will the reconciliation start? To this end I applaud both Novell and Microsoft in their willingness to face the reality of our current situation and hammer out a working arrangement. Only the hind sight of history will validate or vilify this agreement but... at least M+N are trying to move forward.

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Saturday, November 04, 2006

RIP Rent-a-Bum

Rent-a-Bum has been assimilated into the corporate Borg.

"This ain't our first rodeo, it is our last."

Had I stayed and kowtowed to the great borg I would have had the pleasure to roadie for the "Killer" - Mr. Jerry Lee Lewis... but that is not what it was all about... kowtowing. Being a Rent-a-Bum was about being above all that. It was about hard work, professionalism, and a close association with the bands and performers. Rent-a-Bum was not about kowtowing to the corporate borg.

Rent-a-Bum was about being a shield. Being a barrier between the acts and the corporate world that wanted a piece of them. Venue owners want special privileges, back stage access, glad handing. Audience members, grrrms, want special privileges, back stage access, glad handing. Acts and talent just want to be normal people, treated with respect for their professional contributions. Acts and talent just want to get the job done and relax without being grabbed, picked at or fawned over. Rent-a-Bum was about providing that layer of professional space.

Friday, November 03, 2006

American Wealth

I have never really been hungry.

I don't know what gnawing perpetual hunger is. I don't know what going to bed hungry every night is all about. I have never really wondered where my next meal was coming from.

I have never really been thirsty.

I have never been so dehydrated that I had to drink contaminated water.

I have never really been cold.

Really cold as in continuously unable to generate enough body warmth to be comfortable.

I have never really been homeless.

I have always had an address. I have always had a house to live in.

I have never really had to work hard.

Work hard for days on end, exhausted at the end of the day and bone-tired at the beginning of the day.

I have never really been poor.

I do not know how 80% (at least) of the worlds population feels every minute of every day of their entire lives.

Who am I to say that I understand any part of the world situation?

Thursday, November 02, 2006


I posted the previous (Cyber Agricultural Engineers, Oh my!) rather as an off-hand remark. More like an exclamation. Then I began to internalize exactly what 'Gold Farming' represented in my world view. Then the warning klaxon began to sound in earnest.

Perhaps as much as two years ago I slack-jaw marveled at an NPR story about a fellow who had paid ~$12,500 USD for a virtual island in one of the on-line games. The reporter went on to suggest that this enterprising individual would do what any self respecting property developer would do... sub-divide, build, sell and make a fortune. A real fortune, selling digital dreams to other would be digital Barons.

So if this adheres so closely to the brick and mortal model of value enhancement then why am I so excited about it? Real world value is being assigned to virtual world entities. With this assignment we are leaving the reality of our terra firma for the vast uncharted space of our fantasies. The gap between values and Values is widening with no regard to the cost in human terms. Literally, while people on one side of our planet are starving to death, people on the 'other side' of reality are spending real time, real money and real energy achieving status in a pretend world. In the ether of the net.

It will always be easier/cheaper to offer a person the picture of a bowl of rice than it will to offer the bowl of rice. Pictures will not feed the outer person. Pictures will not sustain the inner person.

Neo, take the blue pill.

Cyber Agriculture Engineers, oh my!

I have in the past lovingly referred to Farmers as Agricultural Engineers. Then I read an GigaOM article that referenced Gold Farmers which lead me here...

Gold farming in China

According to estimates, around 100,000 people in China are employed as gold farmers, as of December 2005. [1] This represents about 0.4% of all online gamers in China. Chinese gold farmers typically work twelve hour shifts, and sometimes up to eighteen hour shifts. Wages depend heavily on location and the size of the gold farming company. One gold farming operation in Chongqing in central China with 23 gold farmers was reported to pay its employees the equivalent of about 75 U.S. dollars per month, while workers at a larger gold farm in Fuzhou earn the equivalent of about 250 U.S. dollars per month. The rising prevalence of gold farming has led to the creation of gold farm brokerages, such as UCdao. [2]

Pulp fiction fun

The great thing about pulp fiction is that it is just like TV ... without the commercials. Ahhhhhhh!

Stone Cold, Robert B. Parker

Tucker, Louis L'Amour
Spring Moon, Bette Bao Lord


Fairy Tales for Computers, The Eakins Press, Copyright @ 1969
The Machine Stops, E. M. Forster
The Nature Theater of Oaklahoma, Franz Kafka
Notes on a Dream, Theodor Herzl
The Book of the Machine, Samuel Butler
On Intelligence, Paul Valéry
The Nightingale, Hans Christian Andersen

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

But seriously...

(Read "I was taken..." then come back and read this - the only problem with blogging is the reverse time warp-thing that happens, FILO, etc. )

One of the other offers that I receive frequently always strikes a chord with me... "Earn your degree on-line in minutes..." In this day and age of 'padding' one's resume to secure that cherry position with that Web2.0 startup having an extra PhD laying around is handy... sure I could just "claim" my position in life and who would be the wiser? I would! Therein lies the problem...

So my resolve is to implement the opposite... I intend to receive my Letters from IU (Internet University) the old fashion way - I will write. Some will read.

Pa^2 - The Way...
began as an essay. As I started into it I realized that I will spend a very long time trying to do justice to the "simple" ideas that I have put forth.

I was taken... (winkwink)

Not a day goes by that some individual doesn't make it their business to worry about the length, volume, and functionality of my... "The pen is mightier than the sword." I am touched by their heartfelt expressions of concern. I am up-lifted by their offers of encouragement. I am buoyed by their offers of assistance in this most delicate matter.

Heckfire! I am just pleased beyond words to receive a daily onslaught of personal correspondence offering me just what I need to over-come my deficiencies. I feel better already knowing that the answer is just a click away...

Oh! The title of this post... sorry, I should have put up the entire thing.

In my view one of the greatest lines ever penned in popular culture... "I was taken by a photograph of you." Joni Mitchell's clear and soaring voice comes a ringing through...

Friday, October 27, 2006


Rumsfeld in Heated Exchange With Reporters Over Iraq

Donald Rumsfeld

By E&P Staff

Published: October 26, 2006 11:20 PM ET

A press briefing on Thursday by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld drew wide attention when he deflected heated questions from reporters by asking them to calm down and "just back off" and wait, again, for positive results in Iraq.


Rummy, please consider telling the men and women in the field of battle to "calm down and "just back off"" PLEASE, ask the parents of soldiers living and dead to just 'calm down'... and wait.


What is right about Liberals?

Michael Bérubé responding to criticism leveled by "Maximilian Pakaluk’s recent review of my book in the National Review Online." offered the following position....

As I explain in What’s Liberal?, there’s another reason I don’t share Harris’s faith (or that of any other “ethical realist") in mind-independent concepts: I think that believing in them can have nasty consequences. That is, people who believe that they’ve discovered objective moral principles out there in the ether (as distinct from people who think they’re working out sublunary moral principles with their fellow human beings) are especially likely to think of people who believe otherwise—or who simply believe in other principles—as not merely mistaken about this or that but objectively wrong as measured by some nonhuman, observer-independent criterion. Or, as I write elsewhere in the chapter, “you might conclude that people who disagree with you are not simply working from different moral premises but, rather, are alien—or opposed—to morality itself. It then becomes all the easier to exclude them from the conversation, from all forms of human community.” And one of the purposes of the liberal arts—golly, but I thought this argument was as clear as a mountain stream—is to teach people how to think about fundamental disagreements in human affairs, and how to conceptualize fundamental disagreements without coming to the conclusion that the people who disagree with you must be expelled or exterminated.
Not to sound fawning or patronizing but this is the clearest explanation of a "Liberal" position that I have ever encountered. In the space of one paragraph, albeit a complex one, Bérubé is able to point to the crux of the matter, mind-independent concepts. I see his discussion not just as a personal one but as a world-view as well - clarifying many, if not all, of the world struggles.

How clearly I can hear the Christian Fundamentalists saying, "you are not simply working from different moral premises but, rather, are alien—or opposed—to morality itself." Echoed are the voices of the Extremists of almost every camp. Armed with such righteous indignation it is easy to see how violence is the next available method of cleansing the alien immoral influences.

Life becomes very cheap when we disconnect ethics and values from our day to day existence. Mind-independent concepts are just such a disconnect.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Your wall, my graffiti?

Jeneane iffen you are going to offer comments (spray graffiti) on another's blog site (my wall) then you have to know that I get to do what I like with my wall. If that means repainting it, so be it. If it means charging admission to view my wall, extant with your graffiti then so be it.

Lives up to its name, is as good as its word...

Steven over at WinExtra pointed us toward a product that you just don't see every day. Here is a product that really does exactly what it claims. It comes clearly packaged, it is easy to install, does exactly what it says it will do, doesn't have any back-doors or hidden "features"... NaDa, zip ziltch, zero... just exactly what you would expect from every good software provider.

Go here, get yours => Get your NaDa here

I got mine and it is great!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Vacation is over, back to work.

Spent 8 of the last 9 days on "vacation" ...

Getting to spend time with an old friend, priceless. Getting to attend the Goodrich Club Board Meeting, invaluable. Setting aside 1 day to visit my father's cousin in Holland Michigan, beyond measure.

Working my butt off trying to keep pace with my old friend - a daunting challenge at best, an exercise in futility at worst. Ken Shenstone is building a studio complex to compliment the 20 year old wood fire Anagama kiln. Not one to enter into small projects Ken and Buck, in partnership, are building two major studio spaces and a common room/kitchen/music studio. As soon as I get the old fashioned film pictures developed I will post a few. (And, as soon as I get permission I will post earlier pix from mid summer that contrast the progress being made.)

So here is a partial list of accomplishments*...

Roofing: Installed metal ribbed roof and trim (rake side x2 plus high side) on a 37' x 52' slant roof
Roofing: Bituthene and roof felt for the common room
Electrics: Bore 4" hole through 12+ inches of 4000lb concrete
Carpentry: Sheathing exterior wall of common room
Carpentry: Bituthene and Typar wall of ceramic studio
Landscape: Prepare area between house and studio for grass planting
Landscape: French drain (stone over drainage pipe) back of commom room

Social: Friday night losing 3 out of two games of Cribbage to Rusty (Yup, got skunked.)
Social: Saturday night, won 2 out of 2 games of Cribbage from Rusty (small revenge.)

* Fine Print Disclaimer: I merely assisted in these accomplishments. Ken is duly credited with doing the actual work.

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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

New Google Feature

Log into Google and go to Google Docs

While the entire world is a buzz with the GoogleTube extravaganza Google has continued to quietly build the state of the art online office experience. Google Docs appears to be the central interface of access to the "working" side of the online office.

My son, of whom I am very proud, was excited beyond words with the thought of his stop-motion videos being accessible via Google. His interests are not in the business of websites but rather the enjoyment of his creations. GoogleTube will be just the forum for the display and admiration of his videos. Keep up the great work!

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Monday, October 09, 2006

No Reservations

Anthony Bourdain has no reservations. Thank the deity of your choice. To my ears and eyes Tony brings a new standard of excellence to television. Breaking the traditional Travelogue mold, swearing and eating his way across this country and a nation near where you live. Poking fun at all things commercial. Favoring instead local flavors, street foods and strong drink.

In particular watch for his Beirut episode. It is truly disquieting. We get to see a side of television production that isn't often available. Bourdain avoids the the sensationalism of the "News" media. He and his team focus on the reality of being in a place that is rapidly becoming unpredictable.

What I found most telling was Bourdain's precarious position of not being in control. Here is a rugged individual who is relegated to being a refuge. His world is tossed and he just has to go for a ride. We see a man who doesn't quite know what to make of it all - and in showing us this side Tony Bourdain becomes one of the real people. He becomes one of the people he takes such delight in shocking us with in any other setting.

Odds are that Bourdain and the entire 'No Reservations' production team will not get anything more than a passing attaboy - and that is a damned shame 'cause they did really good work. Yeah, they worked their asses off when the going got tough. All the while focusing on people.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Saturday morning...

Saturday morning at our house is often filled with the smell of frying bacon. Then hash brown potatoes. Then eggs and finally toast. Saturday morning breakfast is my weekly reward. It is also a vestigial remnant of my youth. A reward from a time of poverty. A time when as church-mouse poor college students we would splurge and spend a couple of early Saturday morning hours at Kate's Kitchen. Those were the days of Camel non-filters and countless cups of scalding counter coffee. Those were the hours when we would be served and satisfied. Two over easy bacon whole wheat... For an hour or two the poverty and the winter wind and the studies were pushed away in favor of a classic 'greasy spoon' breakfast.

Kate's is gone even if the building remains. A big name pizza franchise lives there now.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

In response to Doug Karr: Protecting Software and Customers from Counterfeiters?

Doug Karr's original post... When I tried to respond to Doug's questions my answer just seemed to grow beyond a comment post... so I put it here...

What follows will appear to be off-topic initially but I assure you it will circle around to the issues that you have brought up...

I am a dyed-in-the-wool Slackware Linux advocate. I am particular about Slackware. I am particular about Linux. These two combined means that I am particular about Open Source Software. This in turn means that I am particular about “free” software.

I have had the luxury, the inclination, the opportunity and the technological resources to become a moderately fluent Linux 'Business' user. (I have 7 linux servers in production providing a number of "back office" services (e.g. firewalls, proxy, HTTP, router/gateway, alpha-numeric paging, and network management).) It has taken time and effort to capitalize on my situation. Time and effort that most likely is not available to Joe Average.

I have sampled many of the mainstream Linux distributions (distros). I have had the opportunity to try a myriad of avant-nerdy-custom distros. The mainstream distros are as proprietary as a well know commercial OS. The smaller specialty distros are keen, neat and interesting but lack a polished finish. Slackware, the work of Patrick Volkerding, is the seminal foundation of Linux distributions. One of its many claims to fame is that it puts the onus of responsibility on the user. While a few "features" are turned on the rest of the configuration is left up to preferences of the person using Slackware. In addition Slack, as it is lovingly called, is not natively encumbered with the burden of a Graphical User Interface (GUI). Every aspect of Slack can be configured using a simple text editor.

[I am supposed to add here; not for the faint of heart.]

Linux is born on the back of Open Source Software (OSS). OSS is an affirmation of the value of software as a contribution to a larger community. It, software, is written because it needs to be written the way a painting need to be painted. Occasionally an artist will paint "on commission" as a programmer will develop a specific program for a client. More often than not the artist/programmer will create to fulfill the need of creation.

The business model that has evolved out of OSS is an acknowledgement of where the true value lies in software. It is best seen in the "Distro" business model. The value is not in the software but in the packaging and integrating of the software into the distro package. Red Hat was quick to tell me that the support cost I was asked to incur was not to "purchase" the software but rather to cover the cost of ongoing support for _all_ of its constituent elements. I was assured that the software was available for download from a number of sources at no cost. [BTW: I received the same position statement from Novell's SUSE - so this isn't vendor specific.]

This business model extends to individual applications as well. PostgreSQL, the RDBMS with the difficult to pronounce name, is a very good example. PostgreSQL is readily available for download at no cost. It comes complete with _very_ comprehensive documentation. Additionally there are publicly accessible forums where usage discussions and even some problem solving is available, again for free. If however you want or need to please the PHB by being able to point to a service contract that stipulates the terms of support - PostgreSQL is more than happy to oblige, for a price. Do not mistake my levity in this matter for a slight against PostgreSQL. Their application is professional at every turn as is their support. It just so happens that they have chosen to place monetary value not on a world class program but on world class service and support.

After all that Slackware Linux OSS evangelizing I now put on my professional hat: I am the Manager of Information Systems for a mid-sized manufacturing concern here in the mid-west. We do business the old fashioned way - Microsoft Windows: 9 Servers and 70+ desktops. We use Windows as a business resource because that is what our most important business resources, people, are trained and proficient with. We use Windows because our second most valuable business resources, our customers, use Windows. We use Windows because the business applications we depend on are Windows based. So, regardless of my personal preference I am a staunch supporter of Microsoft Windows.

I have also 'enjoyed' the polite invitation from Microsoft to run an internal audit and verify that all of my PCs and servers running Windows were and are duly licensed. I assumed that if I had not complied with their polite request I would have ended up on a list to be visited by the BSA. I am not a lawyer and I do not suggest that I fully understand the dotted "i's" and crossed 't's" of the EULA but I am relatively sure Microsoft was and will continue to be within their rights to respectfully offer such 'Invitations'. My position, whether I personally like it or not, is that I do business using Microsoft products and I am honor bound to adhere to a contractual agreement regarding their use.

In my view the question of whether I should be saddled with the responsibility of verifying and validating the implementation of their product is mute. Caveat emptor! "Buyer beware" is the watch word that we should live by. I view the verification and validation mechanisms as just another type of 'dongle'. In reviewing the Microsoft Position I was heartened to hear that only minor punitive measures will be taken against those who are not in compliance. Of particular note is Microsoft's insistence that they will not prevent non-compliant instances of Windows from obtaining critical updates. I take this as a significant gesture of good will.

As to the cost verses the worth of Microsoft products I have one observation; contemporary OS and software customers expect the same functionality from their home PC that they do from their business PC. In many cases people have higher expectations from their personal computers than they do of the PCs that they use at work. I believe this disparity of expectation significantly colors the "supply and demand" market influences. To put a finer point of this I believe that Microsoft is on the right track offering 'Windows Lite' to burgeoning third world nations who have severely limited technological resources. (I know, this is a departure from my pervious rant regarding Microsoft pricing schedule. See Microsoft Redux ) On the other hand, if Joe Average expects his home PC to perform as well or better than his office PC then Joe should be expected to pay for that performance.

The problem is that Windows is not a qualifiable or even quantifiable product. It does not wear out nor is it [intentionally] designed to stop working after a specified period of time. It is not, in and of itself, a dependable income generator over time. That coupled with the fact that software (OSs and Applications) are easily duplicated means that Microsoft has very little to actually market unless they impose arbitrary value limits. Their first imposition is the actual price of the product, the unit cost. Second are the measures they impose on the customer to insure the adherence to contractual obligation. Finally, Microsoft should be acknowledged for making each successive version of their flagship product Windows better. It is this value that we as consumers should measure when considering our next OS or application purchase.

The OSS model depends on free distribution to extend applications and distros into the greater computing community. Then it is a matter of trial by fire. If the app or distro meets community imposed standards of excellence it flourishes. When it does succeed then its value is acknowledged and the authors can exercise their right to realize monetary rewards for the real value of their efforts. There are some cases where an author will actually choose not to accept remuneration for their apps or distros but instead use the creditability of their success to further their careers in other ways. A good example of this is nmap, acknowledged widely as the premier port scanner. Nmap author doesn't (yet) charge for his program but he is acknowledged in his field as an expert and sought after as such.

So it would appear that Microsoft is in the unenviable position of having to establish and then protect its product in order to realize a monetary return. OSS, on the other hand, does not have to protect its product and is able to capitalize on the real value that the community places upon it. Microsoft must place demands on the public. OSS receives support from the public. Microsoft will inevitably crumble beneath its own weight. OSS will just continue to grow in its freedom.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

This is a catastrophy of the highest order!!!

The New York Times reports...

FRISCO, Tex., Sept. 28 — “Keep the ‘Art’ in ‘Smart’ and ‘Heart,’ ” Sydney McGee had posted on her Web site at Wilma Fisher Elementary School in this moneyed boomtown that is gobbling up the farm fields north of Dallas.

But Ms. McGee, 51, a popular art teacher with 28 years in the classroom, is out of a job after leading her fifth-grade classes last April through the Dallas Museum of Art. One of her students saw nude art in the museum, and after the child’s parent complained, the teacher was suspended.

Although the tour had been approved by the principal, and the 89 students were accompanied by 4 other teachers, at least 12 parents and a museum docent, Ms. McGee said, she was called to the principal the next day and “bashed.”

She later received a memorandum in which the principal, Nancy Lawson, wrote: “During a study trip that you planned for fifth graders, students were exposed to nude statues and other nude art representations.” It cited additional complaints, which Ms. McGee has challenged.

The school board suspended her with pay on Sept. 22.

This is why America consistently gets failing grades in the world community. Not only in Education but Civics as well. One might surmise that as a nation we are willing, nay, wanting to be uncultured! It would appear that we want to turn our back on the very fabric of our civilization.

We need to put a stop to illiterate and uneducated parents insisting that their children be intentionally "dumbed down". This stupidity has to stop, literally!!!

Monday, October 02, 2006

one liberal blogger

The following is taken from the Washington Post

Stan Collender, a public relations specialist at Qorvis Communications LLC in the District, said the potential for bloggers to damage the reputation of a business or person is a growing concern.

"It's like pamphleteering on the corner, only its cheaper, quicker and vastly more broad," Collender said. "But unlike the traditional media, it's completely unregulated in that there's no fact checking, no editing. It has all the potential for creating a lot of damage to someone's or something's reputation very quickly, and it's almost impossible to eliminate it. Any unsubstantiated rumor has a very good chance of getting out there."

A growing concern to whom? Spin Doctors on both sides of every aisle have been bending the truth since the term Nom de Guerre was coined. Stan Collender should be more concerned with the 'Cliche Phenomenon' than anything else in this unseemly matter. As we all know a cliche exists because it holds some essential truth. Pamphleteering worked because of the essential truth expressed, however egregiously presented.

Giving Frank Paynter's blog entry, ' If Murry Gunty didn’t exist we’d have to invent him' a quick read we see the real value of his 'pamphlet' ... Namely the clear and concise criticism of the entire matter. Frank is willing to paint a telling picture of Murry Gunty, acknowledging readily available facts. Then when it comes to the comment [posted in response to the Pincus mentioning Gunty] Paynter is very particular in pointing out the impropriety of the comments. He characterizes them as "hearsay and potentially damaging". This is the very real essence of correct blogging - Blogging must be and is self-policing.

Such self-policing practices are the backbone of the blogosphere. The many voices, vox populi, that blog on a given topic or issue bring many if not all the varied perspectives to the reader. This is in contrast to the touted Mainstream Media who provide one or two sterilzed and encapsulated views or opinions.

The bottom line is that serious criticism of blogging cannot be leveled at a single blogger or even a select group of bloggers. Individuals who are critical of blogging have only one recourse, the court of the blogosphere. Get a blog, write your side of the story. Set the story straight. Exercise your right of Free Speech.

P.S. I had no idea that Frank Paynter was, and I quote, "one liberal blogger". What is the world coming to?

That grain of rice... is yours. ant carrying a grain of rice... or 'Walking among Giants!'

I am a very selective blog subscriber. I decided early on to pay attention to who was reading whom and then subscribe accordingly. People who consistently showed up in blogrolls did so for a reason. These are the people who I started to read. This means of course that I am quantitatively not very well read. On the other hand it turns out that I am well read qualitatively. That is where the Giants come in.

On the Internet no one can tell you are an ant walking among or reading the Giants.

So I was only a little surprised by Om Malik's revelation that so many people are not in tune with the latest and greatest that the net has to 2.0 offer. Then I began to reflect on the fact that the Giants are all about the early adoption of technology - or the very early origination of such technology. Us ants are just about comfort and ease of use. We like the old ways.

The grain of rice, your grain of rice, is huge. But boy, oh boy, is it good.

Do you do 2 point oh?

Very very refreshing to hear that there are many other people that do not know about all things 2.0

Om and Niall PodSessions remind us that there are a great many people who want comfort and ease of use. They are not interested in the bleeding edge of technology.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

A gift

A gift given and received... of my work in 2Voices my spirit sister offered the following...

a rambunctious poet
is looking for comeuppance
from Internet foes

Looking for God as if I were blind.

RealLivePreacher gladdens my heart and gives me hope. Gordon Atkinson pulls no punches. He stands as a man among men and tells the truth as he sees, feels, lives and in some instances dies with it. So when RLP speaks I have a tendency to pay just a little more attention...

When something of import prompts RLP to speak I pay just a little more attention. Today his blog entry ( Jacob's Well: Portrait of an Emergent Church ) pointed us to this article published in 'The Christian Century' about a postmodern church in the heart of the country.

Keel is the pastor of an 'Emergent church' in Kansas City, Missouri. Of him it is said,

Keel is drawn to theologians who articulate a post-Christendom perspective and who argue that Christians are most faithful when they are not seeking cultural or political power. Keel carries no weapons in the culture war, and he figures that his people, hardly stereotypical evangelicals, vote Democratic or Green as often as Republican.
Perhaps the most refreshing part of Keel's approach to the "Great Commission" is the faith he exhibits when he gives the seeker the opportunity to discover why a community of believers gathers so consistently to celebrate.
"If most evangelicals follow a pattern of believe-behave-belong, we reverse that pattern and make it belong-behave-believe," said Keel. "We say, 'Try on these clothes, take up these practices, and see what happens.'"
We need to stop looking for God as if he were lost. I need to look for God as if I were blind.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Fudge and Darn - R.I.P. John M. Ford

There was a disturbance in the Force...

Why does this internet thing have to be so vast that I only learn of great wordsmiths upon the occasion of their death.

Like McGonagall, only without the rhymes

The grape known as Thompson Seedless,
By Robert Mondavi he swore,
That the upstart group of the base-born drupe
Called the Flame should grow no more …

Uh, where were we?

Monday, September 25, 2006

Marginalize and/or Destroy

Michael Bérubé takes a great Monday morning shot by posting a list of those who maybe, might, could, sorta, Marginalize and/or Destroy "...the brave guy who’s looking out for you."

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Crab Log ?

Ooops, my bad...

Small Network Needs

... or...
Every important thing I know I learned from building a small network.

In the latter half of the 1990's I had the luxury of building a network environment from scratch. I cite this as an exceptional circumstance because very rarely does one get to start with a clean blank canvas when implementing a network. Almost always there are existing infrastructures to contend with and legacy technologies to accommodate. I found myself in a circumstance where there was no pre-existing conditions. I was given liberty to grow a network from a single seed. From that seed a small to mid-sized network has evolved but not without learning curves and growing pains. In recounting the development and evolution of this network I hope to emphasize a few very important lessons learned.

  • Small networks require the same infrastructure components that larger networks require.
  • Planning, planning, planning!
  • Networks are a very good example of "Pay-me-now-or pay-me-later"
  • Computers really only do one job at a time well. Only people think they can multi-task.
  • 100% Over-Pull - Anticipate growth!

Small Business Owners beware... Small networks require the same infrastructure components that larger networks require.

This is a statement-of-the-obvious for any Information Systems Manager worth his or her salt. Unfortunately it comes as a HUGE and dissappointing surprise to most small business owners. Too often the refrain is, "All I want to do is get my e-mail and run some kind of simple ERP application." Unfortunately there are three deceptive inclusions in such a statement. First is that there is no such thing as a simple ERP application. Second, getting e-mail is considerably more involved that just dialing into an ISP. Finally, the largest deception by far is the assertion "all I want to do..." These are the famous last words (actually first words) of Feature Creep, the enxorable march of additional functions and "needs" that suddenly appear as soon as the network is established. Feature Creep is almost always rationalized after the fact by saying, "Well, we already paid all this money, we should at least be able to (fill in the blank)."

We will revisit this point ... again and again ...

Planning, planning, planning!

The best way to combat the "all I want to do..." attitude is to determine exactly what you really do want to do. Ask all the questions first - they are cheap at the price and the answers will offer clear direction for the overall project. Start by determining the general responsibilities of your proposed network environment. File Sharing means a central repository, a file Server (1) that network users can get to. Preventing labor from accessing management files means having a user security system. Print Sharing means that both the computers and the printers have to be interconnected. E-mail means that in some fashion the network has to be able to connect the internet. E-mail, in some cases, may require a Server (1). Having a web site means that a Web Server (1) must be accessible by the Internet. Keeping your information safe means having many different layers of security; firewalls, anti-virus programs, anti-spyware programs, user security systems and reporting systems.

Then there are physical issues to address. How will users PCs communicate? Will you install a wired network? This will include distribution devices (switches and hubs). If you implement fiber-optic cabling then suitable converters will be needed. All of these constituent elements will need suitable places to reside. Most often these will be in closets or phonerooms. Network resources need to be physically secure. It does not good to have a strong password when a thief can steal your file server. Even closets and phonerooms can be vulnerable to someone walking in and "jacking" into your network.

Then there is the realistic evaluation of the actual number of users on a network. All too often I have heard something like 'only the main partners and their assistants...' This suggesting that the number of users is relatively small. Serious followup finds that there are 14 partners, each having a personal secretary (14) and an assistant (14). Each office suite shares two printers (14). Seven of the partners use a laptop in addition to their desktop (7). The HR Manager and her secretary are not considered partners but they use a PC(2) and two printers(2). The receptionist, three records clerks and the Building/Security Manager all use PCs (5) and share two printers (2). By my simple count the users PCs total 55 and the printers total 18. So in this example of a Law Office there are 73 connections that have to be made, not counting any of the servers (at least 3 from the above example).

Computers really only do one job at a time well. Only people think they can multi-task.

Almost to a person small business owners have asked, "Why can't a secretary use that server, the one locked in a closet, to type up invoices?" Well, the most obvious answer is, 'You shouldn't lock secretarys in closets.' The real answer is very simple and very dissappointing. Computers are really only single-taskers. The best scenario in a small business setting is one server is assigned one role or responsibility. Many of my counterparts in the industry will take exception with this but my response is just as simple as my rule. If a server "crashes" how many roles or responsibilities would a business operator like to lose for the duration of the crash? If the File Server malfunctions the E-mail is still operational as is the E-Commerce site that runs on the Web Server.

This highlights a paradigm of business that is worthy of note. The network is not the 'thing'. The network is the communication channel that business 'things' use to transfer valuable information. The network is a utility, not unlike water and electricity, that business can make good use of but are not directly dependent on. Networks don't, as a rule, do business - they make business work better. This brings me to the awareness that computing the ROI of a network capital investment is as difficult as determining the value of running water or dependable electricity. On the other hand, an E-Commerce system that increases annual sales by 200% can clearly be evaluated in terms of ROI.

100% Over-Pull - Anticipate growth

When estimating the number of strands of fiber-optic cable to pull between any two given points I apply the '100% Over-Pull' rule. At a minimum I will specify twice as many strands as I anticipate using. More often than not I will specify 300 - 500% over-pull. Experience has shown me that networks grow in the same way that Features Creep. Once a resource such as a network infractructure is established then everybody will find yet another use for it. So where initially 2 of 6 strand are dedicated to the digital network all of a sudden an additional 6 strands are needed for the transmission of CCTV images.

"Wait! You never mentioned anything about CCTV!!! We thought you were talking about computer networks." It is true that I have been focused on computers but again the network is not the 'thing'. In the case of a fiber-optic network infrastructure it can be a resource to any system that can speak "glass" - computers, CCTV, audio, telephone, HVAC controllers, and more.

The same '100% Over-Pull' rule applies to computers and networking. Just like nature abhores a vacuum, business will grow to fill an empty network. Business will grow very quickly to fill an empty network. So it is imperative to anticipate growth. A 300-500% growth rate is not unusual in the first 5 years of a network. This brings us back to my first point - Small networks require the same infrastructure components that larger networks require. (Did I mention we would revisit it again and again... ) Where the real value can be realized is in the correct specification the first time when building a network infrastructure. And of course this correct specification is an out growth of my second point ( Planning, planning, planning! ) married to the spirit of the 100% Over-Pull rule.

Everything I have offered here is about having realistic expectations. Too often under-sizing our needs and objectives leads us to make less than economically valuable business decisions. To be fair, our fathers and their fathers ran businesses with yellow legal pads and Ticondaroga #2 pencils. The supply-and-demand business rules that served them well just don't seem to stand up to JIT thinking and Business@Internet.speed. When we take the first steps out of our father's business paradigm we must be prepared to hit the cyber-space surfing (...hit the ground running...)


William Meloney is an Information Systems Manager for a small mid-western manufacturing concern. The views expressed within are his alone and do not reflect those of anyone else, living or dead. Do not operate heavy machinery. Be sure you can sleep for 8 full hours before taking. If a condition lasting more than four hour occurs contact your physician immediatly.

Friday, September 22, 2006

I've been to...

create your own visited states map
or check out these Google Hacks.

I have always wanted to see this map... of the states that I have at least set foot in... if not actually visited.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Ask not for whom the bell tolls...

Bipartisan Poll Shows the Majority of Americans Favor Video Choice Over Onerous Net Neutrality Regulations

The survey found that very few registered voters are familiar with the issue of network neutrality. In some regions of the country, only 5 percent of likely voters had even heard of “Net Neutrality.” The survey found broad support for a “Consumer Internet Bill of Rights,” like that contained in the Senate’s communications bill. The provision contained in the Senate bill prevents Internet service providers from blocking access to competitors or degrading a consumer’s broadband service. According to the survey, when presented with a choice between video choice and additional net neutrality legislation, an overwhelming majority of voters supported video choice.

Please, please don't mess with my euphoric mind altering substance deliver system. Please don't let free enterprise and world culture overshadow World Federation Wrastlin' or Studio 60 (This deserves a separate post but let me just say that a TV Soap Opera about a tv soap opera is the very height of insults.)

'Sides which, how's come we gots to legislate the "Net Neutrality" stuff? Everybody knows Al Gore invented the Internet. Ain't no way anything is ever gonna happen to change that. 'Sides only-est thing its good for is keepin' stats during NASCAR races... and them pick-tures, ya'll know the ones I's talkin' about...

Just remember...

When freedom is outlawed only outlaws will be free.


'They will pry my freedom from my cold dead hands.'

If you missed PhoneCon go back to bed ...

...and sleep until next year!

Jeneane Sessum pulled off the coup of the of all times! An event unparalleled in the history of technology... a floating convention. A convention dedicated to good old fashioned communication. Just plain folks getting together on the phone to share the goodness of thier lives. People from all corners of the globe.

Land lines, mobiles, Skype, Flickr, ChatCreator and much much more. Fresh baked Croissants, Talking Like Pirates, Trains (Kevin Marks), singing (Frank Paynter), gardening, conference calls...

It was a gathering of gathers - people who know people who know people.

Thanks Jeneane!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

My Children, My OS. Their choices...

Bridget Kulakauskas offers a keen insight in to the adoption of technology across generational boundaries in her authoritative article Didn’t God say “...and the geeks shall inherit the earth”?>

If you say stuff like “Linux will never take over on the desktop because people just aren’t into doing geek stuff—they don’t want to know how to do things and they just want usability” I will respond with even if that is true at the moment—and there isn’t conclusive evidence to suggest this is so—what about today’s six year olds?

Unfortunately I feel that Ms Kulakauskas has failed to acknowledge one important facet of her position: What does a six year old want?

All three of my children, R(16), S(14), and W(12) have been brought up with computers from the first day they came home from the hospital. I can say with fatherly pride that all of my children can use either Linux (Slackware at that) or Windows. In fairness I must acknowledge that none of them are called upon to do system administration nor are they obliged to use the CLI (Command Line Interface). I am sure in my assumption that if they had access to a MAC they would not have any more difficulty than I do using one.

So what is the important facet? Which OS do they prefer or want to use. Or, roughly transliterated; What [OS] does a six year old want? Experience shows us that no real amount of OS sophistication or stability is important to a young person as they begin to use computers. Instead the computer, which becomes synonymous with the OS, has to have the features and baubles that are common in a young persons world view. This can be summed up in one assertion: if the majority of their friends are using Windows then you can be sure they will want to use Windows.

I have demonstrated the merits and values of Linux on many occasions. I have shown the functionality of similar programs (AIM clients, IRC clients, browsers, et al) assuring them the same resources on the Linux box. In return I have gotten the "Yes Papa, we know all that but we like Windows better" response.

So I ask myself why would they like an OS that is so much unlike Linux. Linux being my OS of choice. The first observation that comes to mind is the fact that many (if not all) of the sites that my children are interested in demand, or only support, Microsoft's InternetExplorer. Another factor is the commonality of language that my children use with their peers when communication complex computer information. Again, most if not all are couched in the vernacular of Microsoft.

This is also seen in adults who insist they don't use a spreadsheet instead they use Excel. This is a clear case that I have stated in the past where the object (the OS) and the brand (Microsoft) and the behavior (computing) all have the same name - "using the PC". (See "Microsofting")

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Which came first...the circle or the content?

I followed a article link in the Arts section of the NewYorkTimes and ended up here...


Which so much reminded me of the work of hugh

Then I stumbled across this...

"A guide to blagging things


Never write a guide telling other people
how to blag things"


Monday, September 11, 2006

After 9-11

Walk with me in Brooklyn after midnight

to the intersection of Old Fulton and Water streets

directly beneath the Brooklyn Bridge

walk with me half a block from the disaster relief kitchen

to Fulton's Ferry Landing

to look out across the East River

the smouldering Manhattan skyline

radiating the eerie stark white glare of
thousands of emergency lights

the remaining buildings silhouetted, standing
as silent sentinels around their fallen comrades


Our team is working the second shift - 6:PM to 6:AM

The midnight snack, hot hamburgers, have been cooked,
packaged, and shipped to the rescue workers

the night air is soft

with our chores done until breakfast a group
of us decide to go have a look at
ground zero

the silence of the Brooklyn Bridge is almost
deafening - the bridge is still closed - pedestrians only

from the height of the bridge span - there is a wonderful panoramic
view of New York City

bridge is closed because there is nowhere to
go on the Manhattan side - emergency vehicles only

but there are people out - walking, standing, red-eyed policemen,
exhausted national guard, fire men and women, rescue personnel,
red cross volunteers, news crews

and the displaced - New Yorkers, heart broken, hopeless and lost,
just wandering around...


Hastily erected cyclone fences keep all but
the authorized a full block away from
ground zero

everywhere there is a dull gray layer of
concrete dust - covering everything, plants,
window sills, cars, streets

I've never been to a war zone, but I have been to
ground zero

from our vantage point - a block away we
can see across an empty lot directly into the
smouldering remains of the World Trade

I've never been to a war zone, but I have been to
ground zero

I spent a number of years working the
ambulance as an emergency medical
technician - responding to horrendous
automobile accidents and all manner of
human insults and injuries

my heart has been broken many times

... and then I went to ground zero

with disaster relief I have responded to numerous
floods and tornadoes

my heart has been broken many times

...and then I went to ground zero


we returned to the disaster relief kitchen,
shaken and feeling empty

we sat silently on the sidewalk, outside the
kitchen compound in a semi-circle of street

she appeared out of the darkness, like an
apparition, standing just at the edge of the
light, smoking a cigarette

she was trying to decide if she would
approach or not

she sat stiffly, quietly chain smoking -
offering one and two word answers to our
initial questions

She said, "I've been having trouble sleeping..."

then she said

My land lady had called me from the
apartment downstairs, said something was
going on, something about the World Trade
Center, she said go down to the street - Old
Fulton street, to see

stepping from her apartment door and
turning right gave her a full view of both
towers - one already involved from the
impact of the first plane

then as if in a dream she watched the second
plane approach and slam into the
second tower

her description becomes vague - I assume that
she stood and watched in shock as the
situation unfolded before her very eyes

retreating to her apartment only when the
huge dust cloud crossed the East River and
swept into Brooklyn right past her door


sitting with us is the shell of a woman, a
woman who's heart is broken, a woman who is
lost, a woman with no hope

a woman who needs to tell and retell her
story - and we must listen

because listening is our only real ministry
listening is the only christian act of charity
available to us in the immediacy of this

Niche Markets, the King of...

As I was writing an apologetic sounding resolution that I would no longer dislike, criticize, haranguing, or otherwise dis Microsoft I came to this stunning realization... the Redmond giant occupies only a small niche market seat.

How many microprocessors are there out in the world?

How many microprocessors out in the world actually run a Microsoft OS?

Of the many choices available which microprocessor and OS is the next consumer going to run right out and buy?

My guess is it will be a Tweener or a Twenty-something buying either an music device or a cellular device. Priced in a range that is accessible to either of those target markets.

NOW HERE IS THE QUESTION WORTH SHOUTING ABOUT... How long will it be before PC manufactures realize that interfacing not with the device but with the device's OS will become paramount in the next big cyber-techno push? Wouldn't a PC running Symbian interface better with a phone running the same OS?

. . .