Friday, December 31, 2004

New Years Resolutions

As the year comes to an end; I’ve been trying to figure out what, if any, New Years resolutions I should make. Since finding out that I was going to be a father in 2005 (previous post), I have quit smoking and reduced the amount of alcohol that I consume to a trace amount (i.e. tonight is New Years Eve and I won’t be drinking at all!). Most of the things that matter to me are already in process: school, family, and expanding personal knowledge.

So where does that leave me? I guess, if I have any resolutions for 2005, they are to stay the course. I will not start smoking again. I will keep at school until I have a degree. I will continue to expand my knowledge and understanding of the world to insure that I am all that I can be. I will do everything in my power to make my life, my world a better place for me and my growing family.

Well, there it is - my New Years resolutions are to keep up the good things and stay away from the bad.

Microscopic Photography

One of the things that I love most about surfing is the unexpected finds. A post on Boing Boing this morning, Amazing microscopic photography, was one of those moments. The pictures at eye of science amazing and beautiful - but what caught me most, was the fact that so many of them looked completely alien. If taken out of context, it would be hard to believe that you were even looking at something that is real. This is one of those sites that I will revisit often.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Survival Calendar

This is kind of spooky - crazy. My wife just came home from work with a page form the daily calendar she has at work. The calendar is called The Worst-Case Scenario 2005 Daily Survival Box Calendar: A Day-by-Day Guide to Surviving a Year's Worth of Peril by Joshua Piven and David Borgenicht. The calendar has produced some very humorous daily entries that are on our fridge like How to Fend Off an Alligator, How to Survive When Lost in the Jungle, How to Escape from Bondage and my personal favorite How to Escape a Bad Date. The entries have advice like:
"Locate a usable window and attempt to open it. If you cannot open the window, find an implement you can use to break it."
The entry my wife came home with today is from December 22nd. The survival tip is: How to Survive a Tsunami. How spooky is that! Very weird stuff - of course, the tips that it gives would not have done much to help in this case, but still strange timing...

More Satellite Images

I found some more satellite images at Reuters AlertNet. These are not just of the tsunami flooding, but all sorts of other things going on in the world currently. If you are a info junkie like me, you should find the site pretty interesting.

Helping in a Time of Need

Right after 9/11 almost every web site of merit had a how to help or donate page. Thanks to that, sites like Amazon, Yahoo, and eBay raised millions of dollars for victims. It's good to see that these companies are at it again trying to raise tsunami relief money: Amazon (they have raised $3,889,114.50 as of this post!), Apple, eBay, Yahoo! (a little box in about the middle of the page), and Google.

Also, via Boing Boing, I noticed a great idea from Andrew Falconer: If you recieved gift cards for Christmas, contact the company and have them convert it distaster relief money.

Pale Male Returns Home

As an example that protesting can work, the co-op board of a New York building on Fifth Avenue have given in and allowed Pale Male (see earlier post) and his mate, Lola, to return to the building. The pair has nested on the building since 1993 and raised 23 babies were evicted because residents of the building complained that the hawks were a health and safety risk. After public protest, a new nest was constructed on the building, and the New York Audubon Society and PaleMale.com reported that the pair returned yesterday, and Pale was spotted carrying sticks to the nest! We have such a limited supply of nature left in our cities; it’s nice to see some of it being protected.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Tsunami Satellite Images

Going through Boing Boing this morning, I came across a post about Tsunami Satellite images at DigitalGlobe. The images are both amazing and disturbing. But it really does help to put the size of the waves in perspective.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Apple 2 Emulator

This is just too sweet, a online Apple 2 emulator complete with a ton of software.

Sadly, it does require Windows and IE - but that is a small price to pay.

Monday, December 27, 2004

New CFMX Coding Guidelines

Sean Corfield updated the Macromedia Web Team ColdFusion MX Coding Guidelines on Christmas (nice presen for all!). If you are a CF developer, this is a must read.

Do Something to Help...

As I drove home from Chicago yesterday morning, the news about the quake and tidal waves in Asia was just coming in. At the time, the BBC was reporting that there were 3,000 dead. My wife and I grimly talked about how that number would like double or triple by days end. When I just checked the BBC News, the number was at 20,000. This is a natural disaster of unparalleled levels. Nine countries have been effected with over

I really wasn't sure I wanted to blog about this story; it is so sad and horrifying. But after I read Greg Hughes and Nick Bradbury's posts, I realized I needed to say something. This really is a time when you should do as Greg Hughes said and Stop surfing and do something - now:

Clean Software

I spotted this over at slashdot this morning. Jem Berkes has just opend a new web site called CleanSoftware.org as a resource site for Windows programs that are free and free of spy/as ware. His collection isn't that big yet, but I think he has a great idea and I hope this site is successful.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!


I think todays Garfield is a perfect statement about what Christmas is to me.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Martian Carwash

According to the New Scientist, something is cleaning the Mars Rover Opportunity. For unknown reasons, the solar panels on Opportunity are more than 15% cleaner than its twin Spirit. While there could be a simple and true explanation; I don't think so, I think something out there wants us to know it's there by cleaning solar panels!

The Truth is Out There!

(Ok, or not, maybe it is just the wind in the crater or the angle of the panels)

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Spreading Christmas Cheer

Going through the CNN website today, I found two articles that renewed my faith in the human race, at least a bit.

The Long Tail

The October issue of Wired had a great article about the future of media called The Long Tail. The author, Chris Anderson, is writing a book (of the same name) and has decided to blog about it as he writes. If you interested in media matters, check it out.

Car Based WiFi

The German government has given a group of auto makers (BMW, Audi, Daimler Chrysler, Volkswagen, Renault and Fiat) a grant to produce a working wireless standard for cars. According to this article on The Register, the car companies are working with a German group called NOW (Networks On Wheels) to produce a method for cars to share data with each other, trucks, even bikes as they pass each other.

I can imagine the possibilities right now, and most of them are positive. A slightly disturbing possibility is this: If all of these vehicles are trading info with each other, there is nothing to prevent them from say, sharing that data with the police. Now there is a good side to that - drunk drivers, accidents, etc. could be identified and picked up quickly. The bad part of that, the police, and therefore the government as a whole could learn everything there is to know about your driving habits, including everywhere you travel to.

As with all technologies like this, I just hope that we can gain from the potential while somehow keeping Big Brother at bay.

Asteroid Passes Close to Earth

Normally I'm not one of those people to worry about things I can not change (ie. death in a freak vending machine accident). Some things after all, are just up to chance.

This though, is kind of scary, a small asteroid passed by Earth on roughly Dec. 19th. There are too things about this asteroid that are a bit freaky. First, it passed within 22,300 miles of the planet, which is inside the orbits of geostationary satellites! And to make matters worse - we didn't even see it coming. It was not discovered until Dec. 21st! Why did this happen? Well it turns out the sun creates a blind spot that prevents us from seeing objects coming from its direction. Only a space telescope could have seen this.

I'm still not going to spend any time worrying about the possibility of asteroids crashing into the Earth, just a little scary to think that with all our technology, we still can be humbled by a 16 foot wide rock.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Speed Up Firefox

I came accross this post on speeding up Firefox, if you are on broadband - it is well worth it!

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Date Announced

New Harry Potter on sale in summer

We have a date! I was close with my June perdiction.

Winter Solstice

Today is the Winter Solstice - the shortest day of the year - otherwise known as a pagan holiday.

No matter what religion you are, there is something magical about the shortest and longest days. In a way, I feel like today is the end of a year, and the beginning of the next.

NORAD Tracks Santa

I came accross this via a blog - it's been years since I've thought about his, but it really makes me smile. I think it's great that a miltary organization like NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) can be a little silly and have holiday fun.

MP3Jing

This is pretty cool - there have been amateur nights in clubs and bars forever; but this is a little different. With the storage space and power of modern MP3 players (iPod, etc), a new type of amateur night has started in London at a club called No Wax. Each DJ gets a turn to plug-in their MP3 player and gives the audience their best three songs.

I love when a technology leads to a new way of doing something. I remember when MP3 encoding was unheard of, back in 1995 or so - and now, even non-technical people know what it is. Very cool.

Harry Potter Book 6 Complete!!!

I am so excited. Harry Potter author, J.K. Rowling has announced on her site that she had finished the sixth book and delivered it to her English language publishers. Community sites, like The Leaky Cauldron, had predicted that we might get news like this before Christmas; but I wasn't sure if it would be this good.

I can't wait to find out the release date, which should be sometime today. My guess is, that this book, like the last three will be fairly long, requiring at least three months to edit and another one or two to publish. A June release?

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Censorship in 2004

This has been a pretty sad year for free speech on TV. Starting with the famous Janet Jackson Superbowl event, the year has gone down hill quickly. I was just reading an article on CNN/Money about this that points out the massive increase both in complaints to the FCC and the amount of money the FCC has fined. The funny thing is, that wasn't the part the really bugged me. The FCC is supposed to respond to compliants from the public and take the proper actions.

The part that really bugged me was a list of ads that got pulled this year, for various reasons, after groups protested them. Two of them were some of the best ads released this year. The Corvette ad directed by Guy Ritchie was great! And the Bud Light ad, which aired first during the Super Bowl, was considered by many to be the best ad all night. If people can't see the difference between fantasy and reality in an ads like that - they shouldn't be watching TV at all! Both of those ads are harmless, the fact that the companies were so quick to pull them really shows how powerful the vocal, but small minority interest groups have really become.

Sad, really sad, if we let the overly vocal minorites rule what we see, read, eat, think - whats next?

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Flash ActionScript 2 Tutorials

The Flash Ant blog has a great introduction article on a planed series of tutorials on ActionScript 2.0.

One of the points made that I like the most is the mythical difference between a Flash designer and a developer. I have always found this to be a bit strange. Of course in the beginning, there wasn't much programming to be done - but since Flash 4, programming has been big part of Flash.

For those who have been using Flash for a long time, the jump from AS 1 to AS 2 can be painful to say the least. I am really looking forward to reading his tutorials - if only I could be in London for his real world training in January.

Friday, December 17, 2004

CSS & Fixed Width Sites

Neil Straghalis, who is the design and production manager for macromedia.com, has a great post about dealing with fixed width site designs and content that is wider than the layout. Along with how Macromedia has chosen to deal with the issue, he also has some great links to other designer’s blogs and their methods of dealing with this problem.

Yahoo Live Traffic Maps

Yahoo has added live traffic updates to its maps. Very cool - it is 6:34 am CST and traffic already sucks in Chicago and Washington DC - but New York isn't reporting. The addition this tool (it show traffic, construction, and average speeds) makes Yahoo Maps my first choice for trip planning now.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Firefox Ad

Get Firefox!I've been watching the progress of Firefox with extreme interest. I've been very impressed with it, a clean, simple, safe browser. Who know it could happen?

And now, the Spread Firefox team has done something that I really thought was impossible. They got people to cough up real hard earned cash to show their support for Firefox. They raised enough money to buy an 2 full page ads in the New York Times!

Congrats to Mozilla, Spread Firefix and everyone who pitched in money! It is very cool to see a true grass-roots software project make it.

Even with everything there is to love about Firefox - I think my favorite feature may be the easy of designing for it. If you start your design work (HTML, DHTML & CSS) with just Firefox as your preview, much of the design work will be compatible with IE, and other. That along has saved me enough time to make it my favorite browser.

Macromedia Christmas Card

Christian Cantrell and Mike Chambers announced the release of the Macromedia 2004 Holiday Card yesterday. Its a fun little game involving a penguin. The highest score I was able to get was a 28 something, out of 30.

There is an easter egg, which makes me happy - I also try to add at least one into any application I develop. If you want more on that, click here (WARNING: Contains Spoilers!)

Blimp Powered Internet

Then of course there is this. A 1.4 ton, completely unmanned solar powered blimp that will hover over a city providing wireless internet.

So ideas, just don't make sense to me. There has to be a better way to do this than a unmanned blimp - the potential for disaster is huge. Yikes! And yet, Sanswire Networks, LLC is doing a test flight next month.

FCC to Allow in Air Wireless

I saw a story on SlashDot this morning about the FCC voting to allow wireless internet connections on planes. If all goes well the service could be in place by 2006. The FCC is also taking public comments ahead of a 2005 decision on lifting the ban on cell phone use in planes.

Adding wireless net to long flights will be a Godsend, of course, without an in-flight power supply my laptop battery only lasts for 3 hours. But still, beats the hell out of reading the airline magazine!

The whole ban on cell phones always seems strange to me... The FCC is worried that cell phones "might" interfere with the planes navigation and electrical systems? We've had this technology for what, like 20 years, why hasn't anybody proven this out, one way or the other?!? Surely, if there is any interference, Boeing, Airbus and the others could easily come up with a fix - after all, it's not like we don't know the exact spectrum that the phones use...

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

LEGO Logic Gates

Saw this on Slashdot this morning; I grew up with LEGOs and computers (got my first computer, a Tandy 100, for Christmas when I was in 7th grade). I'm a big fan of the LEGO company, in fact, I still have all 3,000+ LEGOs that me and my brother played with when we were kids and I can't wait to give them to my kids. So whenever I see something that is both LEGO and computer based I'm a happy camper, this is the coolest so far: LEGO Logic Gates... SWEET!

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

The Pain of CSS done Wrong

I thought I would share a recent experience that I had with designing a CSS template for a large web application. Development work on this application started well over a year ago, with the primary users being employees of government agencies. The requirements for browser support were pretty simple, Internet Explorer version 5.5 or above. Almost all of the users are on Windows PCs, so the pesky IE for Mac wasn’t a concern. As I built the framework of this application, I added CSS styles to a master style sheet on an as needed basis.

Here is where I made my first mistake. Once you get to a point, where your CSS file reaches over 800 lines - and you haven’t finished it, you have a problem. Not only is this a fairly large burden to load, but maintaining it becomes troublesome. Since I had no plan, no roadmap for developing it - the file became a mess in a hurry.

The second mistake I made was only designing and testing my styles with only IE in mind. Most of the styles, thankfully, are fairly simple and do not use things like the voice hack, however, as I have come to see almost all of the positioning styles do not work the same in the Mozilla browsers (Netscape, Mozilla, and Firefox), Opera, or IE for Mac. Now, of course, the security problems with IE have become well known and documented, and use of Firefox and Netscape is on the rise with government agencies and contractors that work with them. D'OH! This is the big ouch - going through a large, complex web application page by page to find all of the style issues is extremely time consuming.

So, what have I learned? Well, the lessons learned are pretty clear:

1. Plan out your CSS file before you write it. Make sure you cover the basic required styles (body, p, h1...h4, etc).
2. Design with Firefox or Netscape (v7.2+) - if the style looks good in the Fox, it most likely will look at least similar in IE. And if it doesn't, the IE hacks are well documented and can be found quickly through Google.

Good News for the Environment

Ford is going to stop producing its largest SUV, the Excursion, by September 2005. According to an article on CNN Money, Ford plans to replace production of the Excursion with its new Super Duty pickup. The article doesn't say it, but perhaps, with sales down by 25%, Ford has realized that the time has come to make more efficient trucks. One can only hope.

While the Super Duty isn't much better, it is at least a step up from what the Sierra Club calls the Ford Valdez.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

For all of the bad things that are said about Microsoft, at least Bill Gates is a true philanthropist. His foundation, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, latest gift is just another example of his understanding of the need to be a good global citizen.

I wish more billionaires would use their money the same way.

MSN Toolbar Suite

Microsoft released a beta of its new MSN Toolbar Suite yesterday. It does have a ton a great features like popup blocker, true desktop search, online form filler and on page search highlighting (in other words everything to Google bar does).

My only really question is, considering the number and the nature of the security flaws in Internet Explorer, why would I want to risk give it more access to my system? Until MS gets its act together on security, I think I'll stick to Firefox.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Google Suggest

I just saw this on Christian Cantrell's Blog...

Google has done it again... check out the newest addition to Google Labs, Google Suggest. As you type a dropdown gives you real-time suggestions on what you are attempting to search for, very slick!

UPDATE: Adam Stiles has a great post on how to hack the new Google Suggest

Log Induced Memories...

I was just reviewing the logs of site traffic for this site, and I came across an entry that caught my eye. The referrer was a friend’s site, so I decided to look at the source of the hit. I was totally unprepared for who it was... Someone from my past, a friend (not sure if he would see me that way); who I haven't thought about in a long time. Seeing his site, and following some links from it to other people really got me thinking about the past, good and bad. I just spent the last 20 minutes reliving parts of my life that a decade or so ago... wow.

I never expected that looking at my site traffic could produce such a trip down memory lane, but I'm glad it did.

Flash & Gadgets

For those of you who follow Macromedia products or went to MAX this year, this won't be surprising, but it’s an interesting read. This DeviceForge.com article talks about how a NEC subsidiary called Vibren has licensed Flash to embed in all sorts of devices, PDAs, airline entertainment systems, POS, etc.

I've been a fan of Flash since back in the day, when it was still FutureSplash (there is a article about the creator of FutureSplash at SysCon) and I have been very impressed with what Macromedia has done with the product. This is just another example of the companies ability to think "outside the box" when it comes to products, and not be afraid to go into new markets.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Hooray for Canada (and New Zealand)!

Within hours of each other today, the Canadian Supreme Court and New Zealand's parliament cleared several hurdles to gay marriage. First New Zealand's parliament voted to recognize civil unions (didn't go far enough, but a step in the right direction) and then the Canadian Supreme Court cleared the way for a law for Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin to bring gay marriage legislation forward.

I fully support the idea of gay marriage. To me, since there is supposed to be a separation of church and state, the state has no business deciding who can or can not get married. If a Catholic church (or any other religious institution) wants to deny two people in love the chance to marry under their God, that is their problem, and I have no issue with that. But a government that has separation of church and state in its constitution has no right to decide who is acceptable for marriage. If only more people in this country would read our Constitution, maybe we could be all we should be.

Just my two cents.

New York Hawk Evicted

I don't get it, why was Pale Male allowed to be evicted!?! It seems to me that he should be protected by law, or at least by public opinion. I grew up in inner city Chicago, and I would have loved to see such a wonderful display of nature living in on my building... people suck.

Windows Shortcuts

Thanks to fullasagoog, I came accross this Blog entry about Windows XP shortcuts, who knew there were so many? I use Remote Desktop daily, and I've also been a bit annoyed by not being able to ALT-TAB, now I know I can ALT-PageUp!

News From the Stork


Ultrasound
Originally uploaded by dah007.
Yesterday my wife and I got confirmation on the best news possible; we are going to be parents! Like any proud father, I want to show off pictures of my baby. I can'€™t do that, but I can show off the ultrasound.

Accoona.com

This is just a little stange. On Dec 7th, former president Bill Clinton helped launch a new search engine called Accoona. Whats strange about this, is that the primary backer of the new search engine is the Chinese Goverment. The new engine has an exclusive agreement with the Chinese Government giving them access to data about 5 million Chinese companies and puts them in a unique position ahead of the 2008 Summer Games.

Why would the Chinese Government, who works so hard to censor the web for its population, invest in a search engine? Perhaps to better censor, for the Chinese and the rest of the world. :(

XBox Raid

I not sure how I feel about this. Yesterday, the FBI raided 3 video game stores in the Washington DC area and arrested 2 employees on "conspiracy to commit copyright infringement and conspiracy to traffic in a device that circumvents technological protection measures".

What was the real crime here? Modding the Xbox and selling the modded version is illegal - but I have to say that kind of sits weird with me. I understand that Microsoft wants to protect its IP, but getting the FBI involved seems a bit over the top. In defense of Microsoft, the modded Xbox’s did contain 15 pirated games - which I agree is a real crime.

Maybe, Microsoft is taking the wrong approach. Instead of hunting down and punishing people who mod their Xbox (modded Xbox’s don't work with newer Xbox live games), why not get involved in the modding community and take advantage of the ideas and innovation that is coming out of it?

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

John Lennon Memorial

John Lennon was killed in New York City on this day in 1980. I remember that day very well - it was, for me, what JFK being killed was for my parents generation.

There is a Strawberry Fields memorial in Central Park in New York City that you can view in QuickTime VR, thanks to 360 Visits.

Macromedia News Extension

Mike Chambers, the Development Relations Product Manager at Macromedia, has created an extension for Firefox that brings you all of the Macromedia news (via RSS) to a little button on the status bar. If you are a MM programmer and like to keep up with everything that the company is doing, I recommend this!

Thanks Mike! :)

Internet Tax Ban

Proving that even that worst American president in my lifetime can sometimes do a good thing, President Bush signed a ban on internet taxes last Friday.

Unlike many people, I'm not against paying taxes. There are things that any government does that need to be done, and need to be paid for. The chances of an internet being used wisely are close to zero. If a net tax was used to pay for public bandwidth, provide net access to low income people, or even just to keep our schools up to date with modern computers and software, then I would be for it. But that wasn’t likely to be the case, so I think banning internet taxes is the right way to go – at least for now.

Monday, December 06, 2004

GO BEARS!!!

We didn't just win, we won by 10 points!

I was pretty sure signing Chad Hutchinson was going to be a mistake for the Chicago Bears, after all his performance in Dallas wasn't very hot. And for all I know, he still may turn out to suck.

However, that doesn't matter right now, because he gave the Bears something we haven't had since week 3 when Rex Grossman got hurt. He threw for 213 years and 3 touchdowns, while that is nothing compared to a normal week of a Peyton Manning or a Donovan McNabb, it gives Bears fans hope that we may still end up as the Wild Card in the playoffs.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Macromedia Knowledge Base

Macromedia showed off its new Knowledge Base at MAX earlier this year, and now it's finally live!

This is a huge step forward for MM, in the past, though it was possible to find most of what you were looking for, getting there was often time consuming and difficult. New features like suggested drill-downs for common terms should really help users get to the good stuff in a hurry.

Oakley Thump

In the too cool, but not exactly perfect yet, category comes the Oakley Thump. The style isn't really one I like; and the memory size is still a bit small - but other than that a very cool toy.

MSN Spaces Update

Looks like I spoke a little too quickly about Spaces yesterday. Adding images and links is possible with Spaces; you just have to be using IE. I should have guessed and tried that.

Still, this is a good example of an age old web problem. If I wasn't a web developer, I might never have thought to try the site again in a different browser. There was nothing on the screen that informed me I was missing functionality by using Firefox, so I just assumed I was seeing everything. For me, I would never be satisfied with a site / application that I designed working differently with two different browsers, without at least some kind of warning, or something...

Friday, December 03, 2004

Wifes Birthday

Happy Birthday Heather!

Today is my wonderful wife, Heather's birthday. Besides the normal going out to dinner and drinks afterwards with friends, I have some surprises for her, I hope she likes them!

MSN Spaces

I was reading Neowin.net this morning (like I do most days) and I noticed that MSN has launched the public beta of Spaces, there own Blog service. Since I have a Hotmail account already, I figured I would give it a shot.

My experience was typical, for me, of most Microsoft products: a fairly clean UI setup, with many high level options, but very few ways to truly customize. There are little things that bugged me within moments of trying to set one up. For example, on each space, there is a content area for updated spaces (on the right-side), which shows all of the recently updated Spaces. Why would I want that on my Space? How do I get rid of it? I couldn’t seem to. Another thing that is missing, the new posts don’t appear to allow HTML, so it doesn’t seem like you can have a simple hot link in a post.

While this new Blog service may appeal too many who are new to Blogging, I don't expect that it will be popular with most experienced internet users. If you are curious as to what it looks like, or just want to see my Spaces space (boy, that sounds awkward...) it is located at http://spaces.msn.com/members/dah007/ (note that I have not done much with it). One final note, I used Firefox to setup and browse my Space, and it worked perfectly, way to go Microsoft, supporting more than just IE, about time...

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Guns & Robots

Is it just me, or is this just a scary thought. At least, for now, the Army intends the robots to be 100% human controlled by radio.

Look at the picture and tell me that SkyNet isn't far away...

Of course, then there is this about test program in LA and Chicago that will outfit high risk areas with cameras that can pick up the sound of a gun shot, and quickly pan and zoom to the location in the hopes of getting a picture of the shooter.

So I guess we are on our way to a 1984 SkyNet then....

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Netscape Rebirth

This article on C|Net caught my eye. It appears that AOL has green-lit the Netscape team to develop a new version of the Netscape browser, this time with a twist. In the preview release, users can switch between browsing pages with Microsoft IE’s engine and the Mozilla Gecko engine. My first thought was "wow, Netscape is really thinking this time" and than, came my second thought: "Oh no! As if we developers don't have enough problems making sure our pages work in the various flavors of browsers out there today!"

If, and I think it’s a big if, Netscape does this right – the new browser will allow us developers to transparently see which rendering engine is in use on any given page hit, but I somehow doubt it. This new browser raises other problems as well. What if a user logs into a site, setting a cookie, then switches rendering engines? Will the new browser be smart enough to know the cookie should apply to both?

I'm worried about the headaches this new browser is going to cause, but it is good to see Netscape back in the fold.

Blog Number 1 Word of the Year

According to CNN, publisher Merriam-Webster is reporting that "blog" was the #1 looked up word of the year.

The full list says a couple of things about past year:

1. blog
2. incumbent
3. electoral
4. insurgent
5. hurricane
6. cicada
7. peloton
8. partisan
9. sovereignty
10. defenestration

I wonder if any Sociologists out there are studying the connection between what we search and what we are going through, as a society...

Ken Jennings Finally Loses

According to the Yahoo! News, Ken Jennings has finally lost on Jeopardy after winning 74 games in a row. I don't even watch the show, but it has been interesting to follow his progress.

The question he lost on, is kind of funny... "Most of this firm's 70,000 seasonal white-collar employees work only four months a year."

Jennings answered: "What is FedEx?"
Correct answer: "What is H & R Block?"

I guess the $2.5 million will help make up for that miss...

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Google TV

Now that Google has conquered most forms of traditional digital media (that just sounds strange), it looks like TV might be next. According to ZD Net Australia, it looks like Google may be attempting to do for broadcast TV and cable TV what it did for web content. Of course Yahoo!, Microsoft, and AOL are also looking into this next market space.

Image the possibilities... I love the idea of being able to watch the things that I want to watch when I want to, this is on-demand TV to the next level. Want to see that episode of M.A.S.H. where Radar learned about love, just Google it from your TV based search bar and away you go. Or the 1985 Superbowl, or Tori Amos live on SNL, etc, etc.

SWEET!

Ghostly Mirror

With the release of the Flash Video Kit earlier this year Macromedia has added some very powerful abilities for Flash developers. As with any new technology, most of the examples of its use thus far have been very straight forward Ford's F150 Mini Site, Philips Home Entertainment, etc.

But something that always happens, with a technology that is new and promising is innovation. Enter the Ghostly Mirror, a very use of Flash and Flash Video technologies. This is why I love being a geek. There are always new toys, new methodologies, and new experiences just waiting to be discovered.

Monday, November 29, 2004

New at Target...

Update: Looks like someone at Target realized that things weren't right... Oh well, it was funny while it lasted.

I'm not sure what is going on here. I guess Target is just expanding into new markets...

New Car Smell

Saturday afternoon I picked up my first totally new car, a 2005 Hyundai Santa Fe. With 4 wheel ABS, traction control, alloy wheels, 2.7 v6 and power everything, I have to say, I'm quite happy with it. Plus, how many other cars (trucks, SUV's, etc) can you find with so many features and a price tag at $20,000? Oh yeah, and there is that little 10 year - 100,000 mile warranty.

Its a blast to drive and meets all of my needs, so color me a happy camper! Oh yeah, camping... can't wait until Spring!

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Harry Potter Release Date

Over at The Leaky Cauldron there is a report about the possible anouncement of a release date for the next Harry Potter book. Please let it be this year, PLEASE!!!!

Friday, November 26, 2004

Thanksgiving Part 2

Well I'm about to leave for my third Thanksgiving dinner in two days. Behind me are dinners at my wifes moms house and her dads house, now all that remains is a quick drive up to Chicago for dinner with my parents. And of course, like always, there is a winter storm between here and there (always happens!). With any luck, the fine folks at I-DOT (Illinois Deptartment of Transportation) will keep the roads clear for the next couple of hours...

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Happy Thanksgiving!

This is one of my favorite holidays. Why? Because, Thanksgiving is about spending time with those who are closest to you, your family and friends. Sadly, Thanksgiving has become the one of the few times a year that Americans really do this anymore. We have lost the art of the family dinner and I for one am sad to see it go. ABC News did a - somewhat lacking - but basically informative
story last night about this. It covers the basics of the Slow Food Movement as well as the "new found" success of organic foods.

I think that many of the social issues troubling Americans today could be at least partially fixed if we were to embrace the basics of Slow Food. Families that cook and eat together tend to stay together. Parents who involve themselves in their children’s lives by simply having a conversation around the dinner table are more likely to raise “well adjusted” children. The people I grew up with who came from families that sat around a table each night tended to have the best family lives. My wife and I have already promised ourselves that when we have kids, the family dinner will be a requirement. This won’t be too tough as we already each dinner together every night.

The benefits of Slow Food, from a social perspective, are clear; but there is another piece. If all of us were to seek out and eat only fresh foods, that are grown locally and where ever possible organically grown, the health benefits would be huge! It is hard to measure how much damage we do to ourselves with the chemicals used on our food – but it should be clear to everyone that food grown without is got to be better for us.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Kevin Sites | Blog

Kevin Sites Blog

I just came across this blog -- wow.

Stories and pictures for a freelance combat correspondent currently working for NBC in Iraq. His words and images are quite incredible.

Harry Potter DVD

I am a big Harry Potter fan, ever since the first book, I've been completely hooked. I'm also a big fan of the movies. When the third one came out earlier this year, I have to say, I was not very happy with it. While Chris Columbus did a very good job in translating the books to the big screen, I felt that Alfonso CuarĂ³n really was too loose in his vision of the book. Sure the basics were all there, but many of the details were missing, and the plot was out of order.

Since I'm never totally sure about a movie, I saw it twice in the theatre. I still felt it was the worst of the three. After watching about half of it on DVD last night, my opinion has changed a bit. I still am unhappy with the loose script translation, but I really picked up on how true to the characters Alfonso's vision was. Still not my favorite, but it is a Harry Potter movie, and therefore it will be in my collection forever.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

The Next ColdFusion

As Macromedia gets closer to releasing the next version of ColdFusion, several examples of the new tools (or toys, depending on how you want to see them...) are being shown off.


New Cell Phone

So I decided yesterday that I needed to get a new cell phone. The Nokia 3595 that I had, while still functioning, had started to show some serious signs of decay. It was dropping calls, rebooting itself and the Java engine was refusing to load about 50% of the time.

Since I don't really need a fancy phone, and I didn't want to pay a lot I started looking at the Cingular (doesn't work in Firefox!) website for free or near free options. Since my contract with them was up, I figured I would be able to talk my way into at least some basic free phone. I noticed that the Motorola V220 was being offered as a free phone for new contracts. So I did a little research (CNet V220 Review and others) and decided that if I could wing it, I would try to get a new V220 for me and my wife.

I was very surprised at how easy it turned out to be. I walked into my local Cingular store, expecting a fight, and within 15 minutes of being there, I was signed the new contract with 2 new free V220's. Of course, after setup, car charger, protective case, and hands-free ear-bud, I still spent over $100. But none the less, that is the first time a cell phone company hasn't been a total pain to deal with when it came to upgrading - good job Cingular!

As for the phone, it is exactly what I expected after reading the CNet review. Though I think perhaps that CNet was a bit rough on it. The camera is decent, the sound quality is way better than CNet suggested and so far battery life is great. All-in-all, a good basic phone.

Monday, November 22, 2004

World's Fastest Electric Car

This may not be the coolest looking car, but it is faster than a Porsche 911! I'm happy to see that engineers are finally trying to look outside the box with electric cars; because I truely believe that is the only way we will finally see cars being created that are truely replacements for the environment-destroying gas-slurping ones we drive today.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Too Good to Be True..

I didn't really think the Bears could beats the Colts. But I didn't expect the defense to play so poorly, ouch! Oh well, the Cowboys got destoryed again, so hopefully the Bears can beat them on Turkey day.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Bears vs Colts

I can't believe it, Sports Illustrated editor Peter King is perdicting that the Chicago Bears are going to beat the Indianapolis Colts!

Could it be true? Can the Bears win 4 in a row? Will the mighty Colts do down? Man I hope so...

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Fun Toy

Ascii.art is just too cool. It takes any image file (JPG, GIF, PNG, BMP) and converts it to Ascii art via a web page. Does really serve any purpose, but it is fun. :)

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

ColdFusion OOP or Thinking in DAO

One of the best things about Macromedia ColdFusion is also, perhaps one of the biggest flaws. ColdFusion is a very easy language to learn, in fact, in my opinion only HTML is an easier web language. Just like HTML, basic ColdFusion is procedural making it very easy to understand and code. Many programmers learn how to code with ColdFusion, without learning how to program in a clean, clear and concise way.

With the addition of CFCs to the language in version 6 (MX), Macromedia has moved the CF more towards being a Object Oriented Language (OOP) while still maintaining its procedural roots. Once a CF programmer gets to the point that they are developing more than just simple applications, it is very important to learn about and use a coding methodology.

Enter DAO (Data Access Object)... Joe Rinehart of clearsoftware.net has written a very good article on using DAO with ColdFusion called Be a DAO Disciple that is worth a read for all CF programmers, regardless of your skill level.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Bears Win, Again!

With starting QB, last year’s co-MVP, out resting up after a chest injury; the Bears rolled into Tenn. looking to prove that they were not the bad team everyone thought they were.

The Bears offensive does suck. Not because they lack players with skill, we have plenty of them. Gage, Wade, Thomas, Jones, and even Terrell (though damn, can he please learn to catch!?!). But the thing that wins games for Chicago is Defense. And for the second week in a row, the Chicago Bears Defense came through in a big way.

Considering that we are now 4 and 5, which puts us in the playoff hunt, I think it's time we get a little respect. The Colts will be a very tough team to be beat next week, but it’s at home, and I think we at least stand a chance. We have the 13th best Defense and the Colts have the 31st (of 32!), so we should be about to do something against them offensively and maybe even slow Manning down a little on his push to beat Dan Marino’s record of 48 touchdowns in a single season.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Killer DHTML site

Everyday I spend at least a couple of hours "randomly" surfing the web for sites that catch my interest. Today I found the home site of Scott Schiller, and all I can say is damn! His site has to be one of the slickest all DHTML sites that I have ever seen. If he had used Flash, it would still be slick, but doing it in DHTML... wow I'm impressed and inspired... back to the drawing board...

Bill Mahar

Comedian Bill Mahar is being sued by ex-girlfriend who claims he promised her marriage and a house in Beverly Hills, once owned by Ben Affleck and J-Lo. She says that when she quit her job as a flight attendant he became angry and physically abusive.

Anyone who is a fan of Bill, or who has at least watched his HBO show a couple of times, knows that he always talks about how he will be single for life. So there is something about this that doesn't fly. Of course, everyday, there are woman who have been abused or conned by men and need the system to help them get justice; but I don't buy that this is the case. I am so sick of the court system being used by gold diggers and attention seekers for personal gain.

Of course, there may be nothing we can do. If we limit the justice system and we risk real people with real problems falling through the cracks.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Sweet Flash based Weather App

This is too cool!! A very nice RIA (Rich Internet Application) that shows weather for the US using Macromedia Flash.

http://www.wunderground.com/satellite/vis/1k/US.html

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Mozilla FireFox 1.0

In the good old days (note the sarcastic tone), designing web sites meant you had to worry about many different browser versions. I remember all to well trying to make the same interface work in Microsoft IE 3, IE 4, Netscape 2, 3, 4, 4.07 & 4.77 (never mind AOL and others!).

Thankfully, as of late, the browser wars have been more or less over. That is not to suggest that we, as consumers, won -- it just made our lives a bit less complicated. With Microsoft finally beating Netscape, and AOL running it into the ground it appeared that IE (with its many flaws) was to be the browser that we all had to deal with. And all was good -- ok, maybe not, but it was at least nice to only have one major browser on the market to design for.

But for months now, Mozilla FireFox has been gaining ground. I have used it as my primary browser for months and even though it means more design work (mostly just dealing with flaws in IE and its CSS limitations); I’m happy to say that v1.0 is finally out! If you are worried about security, wish for a faster browsing experience, or are just not a fan of IE – give FireFox a try, I think you will like it.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Bears Win!!!

Two games in a row, I can't believe it! And on the road no less. As with many games, the final score does not tell the whole story...

Early in the game, it looked like Kurt Warner and Tiki Barber (I'm big fan of him and his brother) was going to keep the Bears out of the game. The Giants got 14 points very early in the game and it really looked like the Bears were going to get blown out (I don't think the Bears were able to get a first down until almost the end of the first quarter). With the beginning of the second quarter, everything changed. The Bears put up 28 unanswered points by the beginning of the fourth quarter and really out played the Giants all the way around until the end.

Could it be the Bears may be able to beat the Titans next Sunday? They are both 3 and 5...

Friday, November 05, 2004

Back to the real world

After an hour of waiting on the tarmac for the flight crew to decide if it was safe to fly (our A320 had a faultly AC unit), and a trip to IKEA, I am finally back home in Urbana.

I have to say, New Orleans is one crazy city. I loved it, but I don't know if I could handle it for more than a week at a time! The French Quarter is an amazing place - filled with living history of our country - and Bourbon Street, well it is just the biggest party I have ever seen.

So now I have a weekend to relax - and then back to the real world...

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Kerry Admits Defeat

So much for the Redskins game being able to predict the outcome of the election.

I was really hoping that the voters in this country would see past the "moral" issues that so many of them cited in voting for Bush and realize that this country really needed change. I'm still coming to grips with the fact that Bush has won, and I have to say I'm worried.

Heres to hoping that the country can survive four more years of Bush...

No President Yet

Well Election Day has come and gone, and we still don't know who won, yet. According to CNN, right now there are still 3 open states and sadly Bush is leading by 2 electoral votes. I really hope that the fine people of the state of Ohio realize how badly this country needs change and went with Kerry.

I'm quite pleased to see that Illinois (there was never doubt there), Minnesota, Wisconsin all went Kerry. It shows me that the upper Midwest is not so behind in our thinking from our more liberal, open-minded friends on the East and West coast.

Everyone keeps talking about how important this election is - and I couldn't agree more - I hope by the time this week is over, a change has in fact occured in Washington. *fingers crossed*

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

MAX 2004

I've been in New Orleans since Saturday and I have to say this is one crazy town!

After a very crazy weekend (more on that later), Macromedia MAX 2004 has finally kicked off. Right now, I'm sitting in the back of a session on the future of ColdFusion and I have to say it is looking pretty damn good! ;)

I haven't been able to get much net access until today, but, now that I have it, I will post more soon.

Vote or Die!!!

Today is Election Day in the USA and while voting is not required to live in this country, I personal feel that everyone who is legally able should.

If you do not, you are missing out on an important part of what is means to be an American.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

BEARS WIN

Finally the Bears have their second win of the season! Woohoo!

I have to say, it was really cool watching this game. Not just because we won, but I never expected to be sitting in a hotel bar in New Orleans watching a Bears game and have so many Bears fans around me. Every time the bears did something good, more and more voices were added to the cheering... very neat.

Happy Halloween

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!


Friday, October 29, 2004

Proof that Bush is a Cheat

From the moment I heard about Bush having something under his jacket during the debate, I thought while it was possible, no one is that stupid. I mean come on, he has access to the FBI, CIA and God only knows what other secret agencies, he wouldn't use something that could be easily caught!

Guess I was wrong...
NASA photo analyst: Bush wore a device during debate

Redskins Pick President

According to articles all over the web (CNN / SI, Snopes, and many more that I'm too lazy to post) if the Washington Redskins win the last game before the election, then the political party in control of the White House retains control; if they lose, the opposing party win. Normally I don't buy into this kind of thing, but it's been true for the past 15 elections!

That being said...

Go Packers!


In case you were wondering, Vegas is putting odds on Green Bay!

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Happy Birthday Kim!

It's my friend Kims birthday today, and like a total dork, I forgot, but hopefully, she will forgive me.



HAPPY BIRTHDAY KIM!! :)



MAX 2004

I can't wait, just 2 days until I leave for New Orleans for Macromedia MAX 2004. For those of you who don't have a clue what I'm talking about... MAX is the yearly user conference for Macromedia products (ColdFusion, Flash, Fireworks, Flex, etc.). This will be my third time and I expect it will be the best one yet.


One full week of sessions chalked full of learning goodness during the daytime and Bourbon Street at night. I will be reporting my thoughts from New Orleans throughout the week.


Red Sox Win

I was raised in Chicago, on the Northside, which means I'm a Cubs fan. Truth be told, I don't even like baseball that much, but because da Cubbies are so cursed, I always find myself hopeful that each new season will bring the Cubs a chance to finally win a World Series (amazing how America always seems to win the World Series, isn't it?).

Of course, once again, this year, the Cubs didn't do it - but, the Boston Red Sox did! As with the Cubs, the Red Sox are also a "cursed" team. So as the World Series got closer and closer, I found myself paying attention to it - and even watched a bit of it.

Heres hoping that the Cubs can finally break their curse, now that the Red Sox have broken free of theirs. As any good Chicago sports fan will tell you, "Next year, is the Cubs year!"

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

The First Post...

So I didn't really mean to set this Blog up.

I was reading a post on another Blog (freakSauce) about the hundreds of tons of missing explosives in Iraq (I know I put them somwhere) and I wanted to comment, next thing you know I've setup an account and well, here we go...