Monday, October 31, 2005


Bill Gates Kudos Moment

Any time Bill Gates or his Microsoft makes mistakes, we are sure to know. I guess it's time to give Microsoft a kudo when it's due.
Bill Gates has donated almost $260 million for the research of a vaccine for malaria. That is a nice chunk of change. Thank you Billy Boy.

What I would like to know is why he gave the money to British scientists and not American? Are American scientists inferior when it comes to research of a malaria vaccine?

While this is great news, some say malaria wouldn't be such an issue, especially in Africa, if the U.N. hadn't banned the use of DDT. I am currently not up to speed on the subject to agree with the statement, but it would not surprise me if the UN actually made things worse by trying to make things better.

Saturday, October 29, 2005


Oops, "My bad." initially was to be like a Big Lots of the internet. At some point, they decided they wanted to be an Amazon wannabe. They haven't handled their growth very well. They had a few missteps lately, and it has cost them in the pocket book. The ex-president's excuse "My bad." Wow, that's funny. I never heard an executive chalk a serious loss with a flipant response as "my bad."

The Register has the full scoop.


True or False: What?

One day, I plan to have my web log up for developer and techies. This entry may or may not appeal to everyone, but is interesting from a programmer and user's perspective.

As some may not know, a boolean is simply a true or false value. In a boolean algebra equation, it would look like x=true.

There is some interesting food for thought as to whether software developers should use booleans or not in code and on the user interface. The notion is the ambiguity in the meaning of true or false. There is sometimes not a clear understanding what true or false means. Are check boxes evil? Make sure to read the comments in the referenced web log entry.

Friday, October 28, 2005


Iraq Travel Guide

I found this interesting. It's an old travel guide to Iraq published by the War Department. I suggest you read it before setting out on your next trip to Iraq.

Thursday, October 27, 2005


Back Again - AT&T

AT&T breaks up to make the baby bells. A baby bell ends up picking up the remains of AT&T. Well, ok.

For me, the best thing AT&T delivered was AT&T internet cable service. @home made a great start, but delivery was rough from time to time, especially in the beginning. AT&T came in cure all remaining ills. And just when they get everything right and most people pleased, they sell it to Comcast, who raised the rates along with eventually raising the bandwidth.


Hard drive to good deals.

My current PC has served me well for two years or so, but it's time to take it to the next level. Some good early bird deals have been showing themselves, so I jumped on some. Just put an order in for the following from

eVGA Geforce 7800GT 256-P2-N518
The 7800GT is the affordable 7th generation nVidia card. This card is not the mega overclock version, but is overclocked and can reportedly reach the higher speeds. This was purchased as part of a combo package with the video card. In addition, eVGA is offering a $25 rebate, $25 eVGA store credit, and free Call of Duty 2 ($45 savings), which I was going to buy anyway.

eVGA 133-K8-NF41 ATX AMD Motherboard
It's not the best nVidia Athlon board, but it has received good reviews and everything I need. Ok, almost everything. I was disappointed to read it does not have a Firewire port. I never really use the one on this PC, but if I actually had the time to import digital video from the camcorder, it's nice to know it's there.

The motherboard and video card were $400 together before rebates.

Hitachi Deskstar T7K250 250GB 3.5" SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive
I debated whether to implement RAID again and ended up with one drive this time. I am still debating it. From everything I read, RAID improves performance in particular cases. Running the type of software I do, I might fall into that category. The RAID I have has been very reliable and has not lived up to the warnings I read in the reviews. Hats off to Silicon Image for a great controller and driver!

I bought the platinum version of these in July for only $2 more. This will bring total system memory to 2 gigabytes. Sweet. Well, when running virtual machines via VMware, each machine will take 1 gig of memory. The memory will go quick.

So what's missing? The CPU! I have settled on the AMD X2 CPU. I am deciding between X2 3800+ for ~$330 and X2 4200+ for $400. That's a big price difference and wouldn't normally be an issue for me, Mr. Frugal. :o) Right now, ZipZoomFly is offering the chip plus Nero 7 Ultra, free DVD media, and a "wine stopper" for free with the chip. My plan would be to buy the chip and sell Nero 7 hoping to get at least $50. If I really want Nero 7, I would qualify for a much lower upgrade price anyway. So, $400 - $50 = $350, very close to $3800+'s price.


Bragging Rights

Everyone has probably noticed on web boards that some people use their signature block for quotes, image links, or for listing their current PC configuration. I was reading some messages on a web board and noticed one fellow's signature block showing off his PC configuration.

"My O/S is Win98SE v4.10.2222A on
AMD K6-2 3D Sound overclocked
400Mg/w 184Mg RAM"

Umm, if I were him, I would find something else to put in my signature block. I didn't realize people still use 7 year old PCs as their primary PC. Wow.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


I like market competition.

Keep those price cuts coming. :-)
Current Analysis: Sony makes strong push in US LCD TV retail space, sinking Sharp


Winds of WinZip Change

WinZip International, which used to be Nico Mak, is working on the next version of WinZip, WinZip 10. Like every new version, new features are added, but version 10 is bringing more changes.

I paid for WinZip about 10 or so years ago. I received every new version for free since then. I don't know of a single application that I use so much for so long and received so many updates for free. I really got my $29's worth.

I thought when I purchased WinZip, it said free upgrades for life. I only have a very basic receipt of my purchase, and no evidence, other than my memory, of the promise. I assume any promise was nullified when WinZip International took over. It looks like long time WinZip users will have to pay for the next version. At least the price doesn't seem to bad, $15 for the comparable version.

What do I mean by comparable version? The next WinZip will come in Standard and Pro versions. The Pro version adds features for people interested in using WinZip as a backup tool, like scheduling and CD/DVD burning. I have no interest in either and will opt for the Standard.

Why does it matter if you have Windows XP? Because like XP's CD burning, XP's Zip support is very basic and inadequate. Another advantage I find by using a third party tool comes is in usability. I've learned the in's and out's of WinZip. The way I work with WinZip and zip files is always the same whether I'm on Win2k or XP or another version of Windows.

"I use a third party tool. Why do I care?" Well, there is a lot competition for WinZip these days. Europe was ga-ga for WinRAR. The latest buzz seems to be around 7zip, which claims to be all solutions these days. It claims it can create portable Zip files more highly compressed than WinZip 10 beta. It also says its 7zip format beats WinRAR. Did I mention it's freeware?

What is not to like? Its interface and Explorer integration is like WinZip of 10 years ago. It could get better with time. Till then, I will probably put up the $15 for the next WinZip and maybe get another 10 years out of it. :-)


Is Burger King trying to put one over on me?

Thanks Donald for bringing this article to my attention about Burger King and their strange masked man, the King. As usual, I find myself in disagreement with Slate.

Let me go one the record and say I am not paid by Burger King. I never worked for Burger King. I found the BK stories on the web and could have ignored them, but I didn't because I thought they were funny.

Seth Stevenson of Slate Magazine is worried that an advertising agency has filled his mail box with inquiries about BK's king costume to raise the buzz factor about a product. I find his conspiracy theory ridiculous. Not because it isn't possible, but because of the irrelevance if it is.

Seth seems helpless in being able to accept or reject e-mail. I have received spam buzzing about the power of Viagra. Should I suspect Pfizer is behind it? Does it matter? If I don't care about the e-mail's subject, I ignore it, trash it.

Why does Seth feel compelled to acknowledge the e-mail in the first place, especially about something as trendy as the King? Is Slate magazine where all the hipsters hang out? Is it the place where all the kids are going to find out about BK Halloween costumes? Seth thinks too highly of Slate.

Yes, I know he writes about ads, but there are plenty of ad campaigns to write about. He could easily ignore BK's. Since his gig is to write about advertising, should his guard be up all the time anyway? Why does an event with Burger King just now send off alarm bells?

Seth brings forward no real evidence other than a hunch. He gives an opinionated analysis of the subservient chicken promotion and offers it as substantiating evidence. He is worried about a press being duped into over hyping company's products. This is the same press that has orgasmic reactions every time Steve Jobs releases a new iPod. Maybe Steve Jobs should run Burger King. Then Seth would be complimenting BK for such a clever idea.

Friday, October 21, 2005


Media Bias and Technology Reporting

PC Magazine is on a roll with the subjects of their recent opinion columns. John Dvorak explains why the buzz meter blows its top any time Steve Jobs does anything. I definitely believe there is some truth to what he says. Probably a more important question is why the reporters chose to use their Macs over a Windows or Linux box. The underpinnings given by the answer also impact a journalist's bias.


Dumb Rights Management

Bill Machrone is right on with his analysis of what DRM is going to bring, an age of inconvenience. Pirates used to concern themselves with hacking software protection schemes. Now, the hackers have made piracy too convenient for all media and even convinced a good bit of the public that the behavior they are participating in is not "piracy." It's something else, but not piracy.

Back in the day when I was trading software like baseball cards, we realized who we were. We didn't hide it or warm it over with some twisted logic to ease the conscious. It was piracy, and we were pirates. It's not that we were evil. Well, maybe some were. It was a hobby like trading cards. The challenge was to have the biggest collection with the best software. My policy was to purchase any software I actually used, which makes the current wave of copying media a little different. Are people buying the music they are trading and listening to? If they really like the band, they will. Copying music screws the music companies AND the artist.

Hackers made ripping, encoding, and trading copyright materials too easy. Now the public can easily participate. The media moguls have to take action to protect their empires. This brings us to DRM. Digital Rights Management locks down any media file to a particular device, like a PC. This consumer model isn't going to succeed in a country where we are "free to move about the country."

Don't get me wrong. This situation is not a one way street, not solely consumer driven. The media moguls have made and are making enough missteps to force the consumer to take action on their own. They have price gouged. Their industry is bloated with too many hands in the pot looking to get more than a fair share. Increase efficiency, lower costs, and pass the savings on to consumers. Technology offers so many possibilities to make this happen.

I had my run in with DRM when I purchased some music from iTunes. (I wouldn't have, but it was part of an exclusive pre-order deal. Never again, but that's a different log entry.) The only machine I can listen to the files on are the machine where I made the purchase unless I install the iTunes software beast on the other machines. I can't listen to the music on my HTPC in the other room without installing the terrible iTunes software. Such inconvenience does not exist with CDs... Well,the unprotected ones.

The only work around I know of is to burn to an audio CD and rip back to the PC. The problem I have with this is the Xerox effect, a copy of a copy will not be as good as the original. Granted, most of the process is digital and maintains integrity, but opportunity for compromise exists during the burn and the rip. None of this matters really BECAUSE iTunes, Satan's preferred choice in music software, will not burn audio CDs. It says I should be able to burn purchased music, but the software fails to burn. Again, that's part of a long story with iTunes left for another log entry. Bottom line: Friends don't let friends use iTunes. (I bought music from Real's music store and had zero problems accomplishing the above using RealPlayer.)

Media seems like it costs a lot, but it is lower overall than what it used to be. I began collecting CDs when it was over $300 for a single disc player, the selection in the store was one column on the shelf, and new releases were so small in quantity, you could track them in a monthly magazine. CDs cost $17-$20/disc. LaserDiscs easily cost over $50. Good laser discs were $75-$100 per movie. Yea, ONE movie, $75. I paid those prices, so CDs under $10 and DVDs under $20 ain't too bad from my perspective given the quality of the media. So if you really like an artist/band or a movie, go buy it from a legit source. Camcorder recordings from movie theaters sold on the streets does not count.


Catching Up With BBspot

Time for some Friday fun! I've been falling behind on my BBSpot reading. Here are the best articles in no particular order from latest the batch I read.

Top 11 Changes in George Lucas's Lord of the Rings: Special Edition My favorites are 11, 6, 5, 4, 2, and 1.

Bill Gates Tries His Hand at Rap As with almost all stories he writes with Bill Gates, this one is hilarious. It brings together the creative and entertaining world of rap with the likeability of Bill Gates. You can't go wrong.

Trailer Review: Doom Another accurate review by da man.

Apple iSmack Nano Addresses Concerns over iPod Muggings It would not surprise me if someone makes something like this. The comments by 50-cent (or is that Mr. 50 Cent?) are entertaining. I look forward to the Samuel L. Jackson edition.

BBloopers: Human Torch If somebody shows up with this costume, I will crack up and give the kid double the candy.

Top 11 Reasons Geeks Can't Sleep My favorites are 10, 8, 6 (horrible movie), 2, and 1 (almost a real life story of someone I know).

Thursday, October 20, 2005


Warner joins Blu-ray DVD camp

Will Microsoft/Intel lose one? It's hard to believe! At this point, it looks like Blu-Ray might win the war again HD DVD, Microsoft and Intel chosen format. Warner Bros, who was sitting on the fence, has chosen Blu-Ray as their format. This is good. The CE market does not need another format war.

Which one is better? From the little I have read, Blu-ray appears to be better. I am all for a format that doesn't chain my media to a studio executive's desk. I pay for a license to use a DVD's content for my personal wants. If I want to move a movie to the PC or a portable video player, there should be no problem doing so. 2.0 Released!

Want a free full featured office suite with more applications than a standard Office install? Want an office suite those focuses on function over forever radically changing user interfaces? is a high quality free office suite that comes with a word processor, a presentation program, a drawing application (includes flow charting!), a spreadsheet, and a database. And as it has for a few versions now, all of the applications export to PDF. Presentation can even export to Flash.

Give it a try. It doesn't cost anything. Get it from

Sun also sells the commercial version called StarOffice, which is like, but comes with additional clip art, fonts, support, and better MS doc importing. (See this FAQ for more details.) StarOffice sells for only $70 a download. An entire office suite for a fraction more than the price of a video game. Read about StarOffice at Sun's site.


This web log is hazardous to your health.

A fellow named Jakon Nielsen offers up top ten design mistakes of web logs. Out of the top 10, I think I commit 9 of them. My apologies. Like a fine wine, well, you know... :-)

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


What's in a name?

Groups or individuals borrow pieces of another organization's name, sometimes to mock, sometimes to imitate, and sometimes to encourage curiosity. My curiosity is why the legal system has been filled with so many suits over names.

I read this article about the Church of Scientology suing a web site because it uses a play on the Scientology name as a domain name, Maybe it's the age of the internet, but I can't remember so many suits filed about one party obfuscating another party's name. The age of Microsoft's silly case against Lindows. Or, Microsoft going after a kid's web site because his domain name was based on his name,

It seems in a lot of cases, the complaint is rubbish and would probably be irrelevant at some time before the internet. There is a legitimacy to protecting a company's name, but sometimes it goes too far.

How long before Kellogg's sues Malt-O-Meal over the cereal titled "Frosted Flakes"? I give you exhibit A and exhibit B. Here is a case where the is no twist on the names. Even those these companies share an identical product with identical names, the consumer can easily discern between the two and a healthy competition can exist.

Will anyone visiting or really think they are visiting the Church of Scientology or Microsoft? Is a consumer not able to distinguish between Microsoft Windows and Lindows? Dr. Pepper and Mr. Pib? ;) At some point, common sense has to take hold. The courts have no need to look down on the consumer and do the thinking for them.

Monday, October 17, 2005


Microsoft users discover old song

I am always tickled how Microsoft users are impressed with product features that have been available in competing applications for sometimes years.

A lot of noise about VisualStudio 2005 and its Code Snippets feature. It is a wonderful feature competing development IDEs have had for years. Type a few letters, press a key, and the letters expand into a block of text, usually code.

Here is Coding Horror illustrating the new for Microsoft feature.

Saturday, October 15, 2005


Yea, but can AMD Horus calculate x/0??

AMD's Horus project puts 32 AMD64 chips into a single "PC". Put X2's in there, and that's 64 cores. That's a lot of horsepower. I look forward to the 3d benchmark and FPS benchmarks on this puppy. Certainly won't be CPU restricted.

AMD Horus to arrive very shortly



I read the story and didn't think much of it. Then I saw the actual footage. It is so hilarious! Talk about sensationalizing a news story.

A Today news reporter staged a canoe ride to exaggerate the effect of flooding. She's paddling in her canoe explaining how the river rushed into the city and how difficult it is to paddle the boats to get around town. From the left of the screen, two citizens walk in front of the camera and through the water that is about ankle deep. :-))

You must watch this. It's a classic.

Friday, October 14, 2005


Pimp Your Hard Drive

Be the envy of all your friends! Imagine how impressed they will be when you bring over your external hard drive, and it displays a light show second to none. Here is Western Digital's latest incarnation, Extreme Series II Lightened Hard Drive. (As we all know, anything with the word "extreme" in it has got to be good.) The drive light cycles through different colors slowly as it operates. Boss.

Tom's Hardware has the low down.


Switching to the PC #2

I found one more parody of the Apple switching ads. This video is funny at a personal level because Mike and I have talked about this very subject, games on the Mac.
Switch to the Mac

Thursday, October 13, 2005


FPS News and Reviews

Early reviews are beginning to pour in for Serious Sam II and Quake 4. The Metacritic doesn't have enough reviews for Q4 yet, but Serious Sam II is currently coming in at a disappointing 76. For reference, Serious Sam received a 87 and Serious Sam Second Encounter received an 85. Some of the complaints on SSII don't make sense to me. There complaint is the game is nothing but waves and waves of enemies coming after you. Uh, yea. That's what Serious Sam has always been.

Quake 4's only early review puts Q4 at an 86. Not a bad start.

In other news, id has said there is another Wolfenstein in the works. "And there was much rejoicing."


Funny Apple/PC Switching Videos

No, not Ellen Feiss, the drugged chick, explaining which she switched to a Mac. (Apple may have taken Ellen away, but you can watch her here.)

I came across a couple of funny Switch videos, not Apple endorsed of course. The Apple Switch parody proves life is not a bed of roses on the other side of the fence. Skyler believes moving to a PC builds character. (Please ignore the irony of the switching to Apple video being in Windows AVI format and the switching to Windows video being in QuickTime. :-) These are parodies.)


Adventures of Bill and Steve

CNet has pictures of Bill Gates on vacation.

He's dressed very properly. Make sure those socks don't fall. :-)

Steve Jobs was working hard on improving his looks. Yea, he thinks he is God looking down on the little people.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


Just in time for Halloween

I have to give credit to the new owners of Burger King. They know how to create marketing that sticks. The freaky King, the subservient chicken, weird Hootie and the Blowfish music videos...

Now you can buy Halloween masks of two of their commercial characters. Maybe if you trick or treat with these things, someone will drop a burger in your bag. Hold the pickles please.

BK Halloween Masks

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


The Creepy Burger King

Something disturbing about the king in the Burger King commercials. Now, just in time for Halloween, Fark began a create your own creepy BK ad thread.

business2blog: Build Your Own Creepy Burger King Ad

Sunday, October 09, 2005


Cool Tool #2

The Windows task switcher hasn't changed much in many years. Windows Vista has shown major changes are coming. Why wait? Here is a very nice task switcher available now. Use it and you'll understand the advantage a better task switcher can give you.

Get TaskSwitchXP

Saturday, October 08, 2005


Mozilla Firefox 1.5 Beta 2 Released

If you are interested in the next version of Firefox, beta 2 has been released. I find it to feel slicker. It has performance optimizations and will be a worth upgrade to 1.0x. For a beta program, it's very solid.
Check it out.

Some of your extensions will be disabled. Some can be updated through the automatic update feature. For others, I found I could upgrade to a beta compatible version of the extension by going directly to the extension author's web site.


SnapStream Store: Beyond TV 3

This is a pretty good deal if you are looking to get into HTPC. SnapStream makes BeyondTV, a really good TIVO++ program. They are offering BTV3, plus a free upgrade to BTV4 (supports HDTV) when released, and a free Firefly PC remote control for $70. I have the remote. I paid $40 just for the remote.
Here's the deal.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


Miers is the wrong pick by George Will

I don't the reasons why Miers should be on the Supreme Court. Then again, the burden of proof is not on me. It is the job of the president and Miers to convince us why she deserves the job. I shouldn't have to search for reasons.

George Will weighs in with his opinion. It's a brutal and truthful piece. Only the brave should venture a read.

Here's a taste...

In addition, the president has forfeited his right to be trusted as a custodian of the Constitution. The forfeiture occurred March 27, 2002, when, in a private act betokening an uneasy conscience, he signed the McCain-Feingold law expanding government regulation of the timing, quantity and content of political speech. The day before the 2000 Iowa caucuses he was asked -- to insure a considered response from him, he had been told in advance he would be asked -- whether McCain-Feingold's core purposes are unconstitutional. He unhesitatingly said, ``I agree.'' Asked if he thought presidents have a duty, pursuant to their oath to defend the Constitution, to make an independent judgment about the constitutionality of bills and to veto those he thinks unconstitutional, he briskly said, ``I do.'' :: Columns :: Miers is the wrong pick by George Will



My current $.02 on VoIP services.

A friend recently asked me about VoIP service, thoughts, prices, etc. Here is what I wrote.

I pay about $22 after taxes. I use Lingo at Vonage is another big name. Both have a long list of features. Compare them. The only thing Vonage has that I wish Lingo would have is caller id name and number. Lingo is number only. I will be writing them asking about this. I like Lingo's advanced call forwarding. The do not call registries do a good job of keeping telemarketers out, but non-profits or businesses I already have an account with bug me. I setup a forward rule that says when their number comes in, send them to 555-555-5555. It has helped. :-)

I highly suggest you sign up for a service and take advantage of the free 30 day trial. If you want and can, forward your land line to the VoIP to get a real world test. Also, keep in mind that VoIP has only one entry point. It does not run to all the jacks in the house. Some people have rigged their houses to do it, but I use a expandable cordless system.

How is the quality? Initially, all the companies had problems ramping up. I am pleased now and have been for a while. If you don't like the quality of the connection, you can increase the bandwidth usage to 90kbps. Default is 30kbps, which is fine by me.

I pay around $75 for phone, basic cable, and cable internet after taxes. SBC has been running a $75 deal (pre-tax) for all three too with directtv as the TV service, but I like cable over DSL. TCP/IP will be the gateway for all home services. I look forward to technology like Verizon's FIOS in every home.

Lastly, buy an UPS system for your broadband modem, router, and VoIP just in case the power goes out. Lastly last, the FCC requires VoIP providers warn customers than emergency services like 911, not sure if all offer, will be down if your internet is down. Just FYI.

If you sign up for Lingo, make sure to put me as a referral, kamiller42. :-) Sign up directly or here's a nice deal...

I post this. It might be useful information for anyone else looking at VoIP. This FAQ at Broadband Report is useful too.


Just 4 Fun: He Man does 4-non-blondes

Funny and moving. He Man does 4-non-blondes

Monday, October 03, 2005


Nifty Utility

I have always setup my quick launch bar and other created toolbars on the side of my desktop. I keep numerous shortcuts categorized into bars. This has worked ok, but I always wanted something more out of the bars. They currently are dumb bars holding simple shortcuts.

Now here is a free, my favorite price, utility which gives a very functional sidebar. Why wait for Vista? Check it out.


1, 2, .... 30? 30 GIGabyte mailbox and file storage for free.

This company is offering plenty of storage, 30 GIGs, for free. I haven't tried them, but it costs nothing for you to sign up. Let me know what you think. - The 100 Best Products of 2005

If you haven't seen it yet, here is PC World's 100 best products of 2005 (so far). Interesting the iPod is so low on the list, and it's the iPod Photo. The Rio Carbon beat the iPod. It's #13. Too bad they are out of business. - The 100 Best Products of 2005

Sunday, October 02, 2005


If at first you don't succeed, spend, spend again.

A standard Microsoft war tactic is to engage the enemy into battle and suffer losses till one side gives up. With Microsoft's massive war chest, they can afford more losses than many companies can. They can spend almost every business into oblivion.

It looks like Microsoft is out to kill Sony. It has been pouring salt on Sony's financial wounds for a while with the X-Box. Microsoft has lost $4 BILLION supporting the X-Box. The same isn't true for Sony who has made money overall with the PS.

X-Box 360 and PS3: Fight!


Look of the new $10 bill.

The new $1o bill looks very nice. It seems to have more decorations than the previously redesigned bills. It all exists to foil counterfeiters. I think if there were no counterfeiters, our money would probably be simple black and white pieces of paper. ;-)

Saturday, October 01, 2005


When Teens Go Wild

Talk about a disturbing story. First, the crime is itself is so vile and cold. Second, the backwards thinking of the parents. It is no wonder these kids are confused. How could anyone in good conscious take a baseball bat to a fetus?! Animals take better care of their young than these people. It's stories like this that counter any argument for the theory of evolution.

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