Archive for: May 2008

May 31, 2008

Democratic National Committee

Filed under: Personal — Les Bain @ 2:55 pm

Today, I am watching the Democratic National Committee Rules and Bylaws Committee.

Some observations:

  • I am so happy I am not a Democrat (I am not a Republican either).
  • Will Rogers was right when he said, “I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat.”
  • Supposedly, the Republicans are taping angry members of the Democratic party saying they will vote for Senator McCain before they will vote for the “other” Democrat. It will be a coming attraction on YouTube.
  • DNC Meeting Protest “DissNfranChise?” is already up on YouTube. The background music is Linda Ronstadt’s “When Will I Be Loved”.
    • I’ve been cheated
    • Been mistreated
    • When will I be loved

There will be no party unity after this meeting. Bet on McCain.

Content and Nontent

Filed under: Personal — Les Bain @ 3:19 am

Content is king on the Internet. So they say.

Nontent is lack of content. Nontent.com is for sale. Maybe nontent is the court jester to the king.

There is a certain amount of real content. That content is then re-used, re-purposed, and re-blogged.

Yahoo kills a billion pieces of spam a day. Content killers.

How much of content is someone (like me) expressing their opinions of the content of the day.

May 30, 2008

Clerics and Comics

Filed under: Politics — Les Bain @ 5:06 pm

Father Michael Pfleger gave a sermon making fun of Senator Clinton. He was criticized and censured.

One of the comments usually heard is that is was very inappropriate for church.

Hmmm. Maybe so.

But it was funny, and would have been very appropriate in a comedy club. Take down the church sign, put up a comedy club sign, and all would be well.

Scott McClellan writes a book

Filed under: Politics — Les Bain @ 12:41 pm

Scott McCellan wrote a book about his time in the Bush administration.

The central thesis is that the United States government is immersed in a campaign culture. Scott says that everyone, including himself, is so involved in partisan politics that they were short sighted about everything else.

  • It was more important to spin an issue toward the Republican side than to tell the truth.
  • It was more important to be loyal to the Republicans than to tell the truth.
  • It was all consuming to be caught up in the partisan fighting.

When asked why he did not protest or quit, Scott says that he was in a partisan fight and was so focused on that that he had to leave government to see the ramifications.

It sounds like the campaign culture to me. Can anyone discuss the situation between Senator Clinton and Senator Obama rationally these days? There are advocates on both sides with known talking points.

I am convinced that the TV news casts could use one pundit with two hats to comment on any of the stories.

  • Put on the red hat and do the Republican talking points.
  • Put on the blue hat and do the Democratic talking points.

And the for the Democratic primary

  • Put on the Hillary hat for those talking points
  • Put on the Barack hat for those talking points.

Then at least we would not have people talking over each other.

May 29, 2008

Repeat Reverent Ruckus

Filed under: Politics — Les Bain @ 9:28 pm

Another Reverent has been taped giving a shocking sermon.

What is it like to be one of those ministers?

You are a prominent religious leader in the community. You have built a large church with thousands of members. You are respected in the community. You sit on advisory boards.

You are invited to the White House.  Here is Reverent Wright at a White House breakfast.

You stand in front of an adoring congregation preaching, your congregation is responding positively, the ‘Amens’ are loud, and the adulations are sure to follow. At the end of the sermon people shake your hand, tell you it was a great sermon, and say ‘God to bless you’.

Then the sermon shows up on CNN. You are roundly criticized. Pundits are shocked. The congregation is criticized. If a politician has attended the church or been endorsed by you, the politician is vilified.

What a disconnect that must be.

May 28, 2008

Curse of the Golden Flower

Filed under: Personal — Les Bain @ 1:23 pm

As I was finishing my work day yesterday, the movie Curse of the Golden Flower came on TV. I watched it from start to finish.

It was a visual feast. A stunning collage of colors, ritual, martial arts, family intrigue and grand opera themes.

I do not normally check to see what reviewers write about movies, but I did read a sampling of reviews about this movie. It was so magnificent visually that I wanted to read other’s reactions.

Almost every review remarked on the incredible visuals.

And every review discussed the plot that was a stew of intrigue, betrayal, murder, poisoning, and stepmother-stepson, and stepbrother-stepsister passion.

It was a remarkable movie.

May 27, 2008

Twitter

Filed under: Personal,Technology — Les Bain @ 7:03 pm

Twitter has been a great source of amusement and amazement.

  • Some blog posts discuss why the writer will not go on Twitter
  • Others bloggers post reasons why they cannot live without Twitter
  • When Twitter goes down, some people act like the Internet is down.
  • The Gillmor gang would have to shut down without Twitter to discuss.
  • Dave Winer uses Twitter as an example of how to develop software which is fascinating
  • Twitter will be the poster child for scaling issues for many months.
  • Twitter is used as an lesson for centralization vs. decentralization.
  • One comment about Twitter: Twitter is Facebook for those that do not have Facebook.
  • Some want Twitter to charge super users to raise money to fix it.

And Twitter is free.

May 26, 2008

Memorial Day

Filed under: Personal — Les Bain @ 10:38 am

Today is Memorial Day – the last Monday of May. Today we remember those that died while in the military service of the United States in any war or military action.

It was originally called Decoration Day, because on this day the dead were honored by decorating their graves.

I remember as a young man getting dressed up and going to the cemetery at this day. There were flowers everywhere. People decorated graves of relatives whether they had died in the military or not.

When you went to the cemetery, there were veterans in uniform giving out poppies and requesting donations for some veterans fund. Usually, we all got a poppy.

It was an obligation of the day, and people dealt with it in the normal way

  • Some got up early and took care of the obligation early.
  • Some procrastinated and went later in the day.

Our family went early in the day. We had moved a good deal, so there were no relatives buried in the vicinity, so we paid our respects to the relatives of friends of the family.

The decorating of graves seems out of step with life today.

  • First, we are rarely in the same place as the graves of our family members that have passed.
  • Second, we acknowledge the family members that died by addressing their spirits or memories.

I will take a moment today to remember my Mother and Father. Their graves are too far away to decorate, so I will remember them and smile.

May 25, 2008

My new Treo and the sounds

Filed under: Personal,Technology — Les Bain @ 7:55 am

The next function I am going to learn about my new Treo is all the sounds, beeps, rings, alerts, and alarms.

I learned about

  • how to set different ring tones
  • how to turn off the phone
  • how to turn down the phone ringer

but ….

I still get alerts, etc. Some of them go off early in the morning.

I need to find the way to turn off all sounds so

  • my sleep is not interrupted
  • and it is not beeping during a meeting.

May 22, 2008

Write every day

Filed under: Blogging,Personal — Les Bain @ 11:56 am

That is the advice given to aspiring writers. Write every day.

I am blogging every day. It is starting to effect my writing. I am starting to think more about word choice and sentence structure.

I did not start blogging that way. I started by just trying to get some thoughts into sentences and hitting the “publish” button. Check. That task done.

I was an English major and an aspiring writer at one time. I discovered it was not for me. But I certainly would like to be able to write better.

I read some blogs that are written well. They are captivating and engaging. When I read good writing I find myself reading more intently and staying with the writing longer.

I would not mind if my readers had the same experience.

May 21, 2008

Who’s got the most?

Filed under: Politics — Les Bain @ 5:18 pm

Senator Clinton continues to say she got the most popular votes. Good for her, but the candidate that gets the most delegates is the one that wins.

  • It is like a basketball team saying the other team scored more points, but they got the most rebounds.
  • It is like a football team saying the other team scored more points, but they had a much higher time of possession.
  • It is like a baseball team saying the other team scored more runs, but they had more hits.

I understand that there are super delegates that have not decided and Senator Clinton is trying to convince them.

But how they keep score is delegates. The one with the most delegates wins.

Blog every day

Filed under: Personal — Les Bain @ 4:23 am

I try and blog every day.  Blogging is therapeutic.  It is like motivation and hygiene.  It needs to be done every day to be effective.

There are times when blogging comes easily.  There are times blogging is difficult.

When blogging is difficult, it is usually because what is on my mind is not something I want to discuss.

  • Sometimes it is too personal.
  • Sometimes it is just embarrassing.
  • Sometimes it is not clear.

I am going back to reading about the Law of Attraction.  Get my mind right.

May 20, 2008

Content Ads

Filed under: Blogging,Personal — Les Bain @ 12:06 pm

I added Google Adsense ads to this blog. I was interested in the results.

  • Lots of ads for computer backups. Yep. I investigated, changed, and monitored new backup systems. That makes sense.
  • Ads for blogs and blogging software. Yep. I talk about blogging in this blog.
  • Ads for UPS systems. Hmmmm. I guess so. Backups are part of disaster preparedness.

It is like an instant summary of what I have been blogging.

Web Site Surprises

Filed under: Technology,Website — Les Bain @ 11:57 am

Potential website clients will call and ask how much it would cost to make a small change to their website.  Boy is that tricky.

I cringe as I wonder if the previous webmaster used any sort of technique for common code.

  • Will there be a dynamic template from Expression Web, Dreamweaver or Frontpage.
  • Will there be server side includes for the common code.
  • Will the code be standard enough for a website scan and replace.

I wonder if the client can find their Web hosting user id and password, or whether that disappeared with their last webmaster.  Of course it can be retrieved.  It usually takes a conference call with the web hosting site, the owner, and myself.

I wonder if there is any unusual pattern of redirects that must be followed.  I started to look at one website where the redirects were 4 deep.  A went to B went to C went to D.  I have no idea why.

And I wonder if the previous webmaster has two duplicate sites depending on where the visitor is coming from.  It must have been an analysis to see if one worked better than the other, but I changed the website, then discovered there was a duplicate site in another subdirectory.

I have discovered these and other traps waiting for me as I look at a new website.  Sometimes it takes a few minutes to make sure the there are no traps.

May 19, 2008

Marriage

Filed under: Personal — Les Bain @ 9:23 pm

The California Supreme Court ruled that the law prohibiting same sex marriage is unconstitutional.  Same sex marriages will probably begin in California 30 days from the ruling.  There will be a constitutional amendment on the ballet in November so the people can vote to change the constitution if they wish.

The entire issue resolves around the fact that the state gave special considerations to married couples.  If the state gives special rights to one group, it cannot withhold those rights from another group.

Let us step back and consider.  What if the state did not consider marriage in any of the laws, taxes, or benefits.

People could create civil unions to protect jointly shared property and share benefits.  The IRS could give special consideration to civil unions if that is the law.  Social Security benefits could be defined by civil union.

It is not a far stretch to go from corporations to civil unions.  We form groups that are treated as entities by the state.  This would be another one of those entities.

Marriage should just be a issue for the church.  The state should be prohibited from even asking about one’s marital status.  It should be as unimportant to the state as someone’s baptismal or communion status.

If marriage is a religious institution, it would take place in the church as do baptisms, communion, confirmations, and other religions rites.

I do not have a problem if the Muslims have up to 4 wifes.  I do not have a problem if the Latter Day Saints have multiple wives.  I do not care if churches practice infant or adult baptisms.  I do not care who prays to what God.  Those are matters left in the Church.

There would be no marriage license, unless the church issues one.

The state can provide another kind of legal entity called a civil union with tax and benefit laws.  The state should get out of the marriage business entirely.

PHP Code

Filed under: Personal,Technology — Les Bain @ 1:26 am

I am writing some PHP code. It is for a project that I am have been working on. It is the most elaborate code that I have written for a good while. Just about everything that I am coding is something I have not coded before.

The coding process, however, is most familiar. I use a combination of “top down development” and “step wise progression”. We used to have signs that said “programmers do it top down”. That was before we were engineers.

But the system could have great promise.

I will see.

May 18, 2008

Blogging the same thing twice

Filed under: Personal — Les Bain @ 6:51 pm

Sometimes I start to blog about something, and it seems I have blogged on the same topic before.  It is not a problem to blog on the same topic of course, but I do not want to write the same blog post more than once.

On the other hand, I am not sure anyone including myself, would notice … or care.  If the thought comes up again, perhaps the best thing to do is just to write it down again.

I could do a search and try and discover if it is in the archives, but I am not sure I want to do that.  Perhaps it will be different enough this time not to matter.  If it is what is on my mind today, why not just write it.

So that is what I am going to do.

Ah … Sunday

Filed under: Personal — Les Bain @ 2:06 pm

If you have a Monday to Friday work or school week, Saturday and Sunday are the weekend.

Sunday is the classic touchstone for optimism versus pessimism. It is either a wonderful full day of no work or school, or a depressing end to the weekend.

Now some of us work every day, so it is a moot point, but it is fascinating to see how people react.

I work on Sunday, but I get very few client calls or emails that need to be answered, so it is a different sort of day. I schedule a project each weekend to take advantage of the uninterrupted time.

May 17, 2008

Heat Wave

Filed under: Personal — Les Bain @ 7:19 pm

It is the weekend. It feels wonderful.

  • I am watching the Tweets as my son rides 100 miles today getting ready for the Aids Lifecycle.  The last tweet was at 80 miles.
  • I am helping my family move Ethernet wire around the apartment so they can find the coolest spot to work.  I will go out later to get a switch and some more Ethernet to make it all work smoother.
  • I am watching Book TV and it is always good to watch people discuss ideas.  I remember the adage that little minds discuss people, average minds discuss things, and big minds discuss ideas.  On book TV, at least some of the time they discuss ideas.
  • I consolidated my task lists so there are fewer tasks and a clearer priority.

All is well.

May 16, 2008

Unsubscribing

Filed under: Internet — Les Bain @ 11:47 am

I continue to unsubscribe from all email newsletters and ezines. I want to move all subscriptions to RSS so that they are under my control.

The process has been most interesting.

I received this email:

If you are receiving this email, it means you are NOT signed up to receive our weekly … newsletter. Don’t miss an opportunity of wealth as we will make the website only available to subscribers soon. Subscription is free.

The spam was so blatant it took me a minute to understand.

I have also had to do this process a number of times.

  • An email newsletter arrives. One that I subscribed to some time ago.
  • I click the unsubscribe link in order to stop the newsletter.
  • I am taken to the website where I am asked to login, but I do not remember my password.
  • I follow the instructions to reset my password, which means I get another email.
  • I read the email, follow the instructions to retrieve my password, logon on and unsubscribe.
  • I receive an email notifying me that I changed my password.
  • I receive an email notifying me that I unsubscribed.

That totals 4 unwanted emails to stop the newsletter, but at least it worked.


I have also had this process.

  • I receive an email newsletter to a specific email account.
  • I follow the unsubscribe link to a website.
  • The website asks me to logon to change my subscription, but I do not remember my password.
  • I follow the link to retrieve my password, but the website says I do not have an account.

Here is another one. I received one today that said:

If you want to unsubscribe to this email, simply block the following email – xxx.domain.com

I want to block it before it gets to my computer of course.


I should have kept a log of my adventures, but I did not think it was going to be so interesting.

May 15, 2008

Coding

Filed under: Personal — Les Bain @ 10:19 pm

I was up late last night coding PHP to add functionality to my website.  If the functionality works well, I will use it on other websites.  It is so consuming to program.

Today, I am doing all the other business with the understanding that when all my business tasks are done, then I am rewarded by being able to code.  You would think that after being a programmer for 40 years, it would get old, but it does not.

I was a manager for part of that time, but I always seemed to find some code to write.

Heat Wave

Filed under: Technology — Les Bain @ 10:12 pm

We are having our first heat wave of the year.  It was over 100 degrees today.  It is not a major problem to survive, it gets hot in the afternoon and then cools off.  It is pleasant now.

There is air conditioning in our apartment, so it is pleasant.

However, my computers have apparently been overheating today.

  • My laptop is sitting on two cold packs now, and it is running consistently for the first time today.
  • My external hard drive has a fan pointed directly at it, and it is running consistently for the first time today.

Yes I do worry about moisture with the cold packs, but I wrap them in paper towels and do my best to keep them dry.

May 12, 2008

Aids Lifecycle

Filed under: Personal — Les Bain @ 6:23 pm

My son is getting ready to ride in the Aids Lifecycle. It is a bike ride that will take place June 1-7, 2008, as cyclists and volunteers will travel 545 miles through beautiful California from San Francisco to Los Angeles. My son will be one of 2500 cyclists riding in the event.

It is the official cycling event of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center.

The event will raise close to 11 million dollars.

We are enormously proud of him of course. It is a wonderful event for a good cause.

May 9, 2008

Parental Controls

Filed under: Notes,Personal,Politics,Technology — Les Bain @ 3:08 am

When my children were young, we did not restrict their Internet access. We talked about the dangers openly, asked them what they knew about the dangers from their readings, and asked them what rules they followed. We agreed on the rules.

  • Do not give out your name or address
  • Do not agree to meet anyone

When they were in elementary school, the computers were in a public area of the house.

That was just about it.

I am not saying that was wise, it is just our style. Having a frank talk about the dangers allowed them to set their own limits. I knew they were going to visit porn sites and other sites, but I was much happier that they did it without having to try and hide it.

When my son was a Freshman in high school, he told me if I ever wanted to go to a porn site, he had account and password hacks.

When I set up computers for parents now, I am often instructed to put on the parental controls. I of course do it, and I always think back about how it was when my children were small.

I do not have any regrets. I still think we were right. But it is definitely worse now on the Internet, so I do wonder if I would put on parental controls now. Probably not.

May 5, 2008

Email

Filed under: Personal,Technology — Les Bain @ 5:56 pm

I use Outlook for Email.

I have been working to reduce Spam and undesired email.  The results are starting to show.

The Junk email folder is now full everyday.  I review it but I will not be doing that much longer.  I will change the rules to delete the spam without checking.  I am just using the Outlook processing for now, and it seems to be working ok.

I make a distinction between mail boxes and mail folders.

  • Mail folders is where I store email I want to save
  • Mail boxes is where I receive email.  Email is sorted into a dozen or so mail boxes.
  • Everything that does not get sorted into a mail box ends up in the Inbox.

When all works well, there are very few if any emails in my inbox.

If email shows up in my inbox, one of the following happens:

  • If it is spam, the keystrokes Alt-A-J-B send it to the junk email folder.
  • If it is mail that I expect to get more off, I create a rule and sort it into a mail box.
  • If it is a subscription, I cancel the subscription.  No email subscriptions; only RSS.
  • If it is a one-off email, I process it or store it in a mail folder.

My overall time on email is being greatly reduced.  I am trying to use that time looking at my RSS feeds without flying through them.  More considered reading.

I am enjoying both the process and the results.

May 4, 2008

Listening to the Gillmor Gang

Filed under: Internet — Les Bain @ 4:08 pm

Listing to the Gillmor Gang discuss the Microsoft – Yahoo deal that fell through. There is the standard list of pundits on the call. They do not agree.

I cannot help but think of the political pundit shows. There we know what position pundits are going to take depending on their party and the candidate they support. They are spinners.

With this crowd, you never really know who is going to take what position, but there are certain perspectives that are predictable.

  • Robert Scoble will talk about the employees at the companies involved.
  • If Jason Calacanis was on the call, he would say the deal can be understood by looking how much the deal would add to search & online advertising.
  • Mike Arrington will call out someone else on the phone call.
  • Dan Farber will have the broadest industry view, and include in the analysis companies that are not directly affected.
  • Doc Searls adds the humor.  Are you on Twitter, or “some other drug”.
  • Steve Gillmor makes it happen – enough said.

Learning the Treo

Filed under: Technology — Les Bain @ 3:43 pm

I try to learn a new Treo feature each day.  There is a lot to learn.  I have had Palms for years so I know the Palm OS, and thought I knew many of the applications.

Here is one example.  I looked at the calculator.  It looked like the standard Palm calculator.  Nothing to learn.  Then I hit the menu and looked at the options.  There is an option for an advanced calculator.  After you get to advanced calculator, you have the choice of

  • Math
  • Trig
  • Finance
  • Logic
  • Statistics
  • Weight / Tmp
  • Length
  • Area
  • Volume

The only point is that each little application has multiple layers to be investigated.

It is fun.

May 3, 2008

Shut Down? No way.

Filed under: Personal — Les Bain @ 8:27 pm

Today was shut down day. Time to turn off the computer for a day. I did not do it. I worked on the computer all day.

There were financial reports to do, client websites to tweak, email to answer, and now, a blog post. There were things to look up on the Internet, blog posts to read, and IM’s to answer.

But there was no Twitter to respond to: I am not doing Twitter.

And there was no FriendFeed to read: I am not doing FriendFeed either.

And I found out that

  • My son biked 70 miles including a climb of Mt. Diablo
  • Microsoft is not buying Yahoo
  • My new Treo has many more features than I first imagined

May 2, 2008

Upgrade WordPress

Filed under: Blogging,Personal,Technology — Les Bain @ 9:43 pm

I needed to upgrade WordPress. Today is the day.

I decided to download and try the WordPress Automatic Upgrade plugin.

It worked very well. I downloaded it, installed the plugin, and ran it to get a successful upgrade. I am now at the latest version of WordPress.

I ran the plugin in automatic mode, and it went through the steps quickly and successfully. I am most pleased.

Shutdown Day

Filed under: Technology — Les Bain @ 11:34 am

Can you turn off your computer for 24 hours? Do you want to? Do you care?

Shutdown Day

I have not decided yet. Perhaps.

May 1, 2008

RSS Awareness Day

Filed under: Technology — Les Bain @ 1:00 am

Today is RSS Awareness Day


RSS Awareness Day.


Visit my RSS Tutorial


RSS Tutorial