Category Archives: Random-musings

best and worst of human nature

Today marks the four year anniversary of 9/11.

The aftermath of hurricane Katrina will no doubt overshadow this. But, in a way, the events of the past two weeks remind us about the best parts of human nature.

I saw this story online this morning on the Dallas Morning News website.

Would-be volunteers left to wait

Now, even though the story really covers people complaining about being frustrated over not being able to help the victims of hurricane Katrina, the fact that there are more volunteers than the various help organizations know what to do with speak volumes. There are other stories about how literally millons of dollars of donations are flowing to the Red Cross. There are stories of people who have gone out of their way to help these people.

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live 8 — so what’s the big?

UPDATE 07/06/2005:

AOL has posted a page with links to videos from some of the performances:

http://music.channel.aol.com/live_8_concert/highlights

Why was this show important?

Twenty years ago yesterday, another huge concert event called live aid occurred. Two concerts in London and Philadelphia ran most of the day with a large number of bands that were big in the mid 80s. They were trying to raise awareness and money to help aid poverty in african countries.

Although live aid and other efforts like it have raised millions of dollars in aid and have done a great deal to help this part of the world, the effort has simply been a band aid for the problem, not the cure.

The organizers of live 8 realize this, and they are shooting for a bigger, more important goal. End poverty in these countries. Period. But, in order to do that, things have to happen on a much larger scale than they have ever done in the past. So, live 8 is focusing on the G8 summit, where 8 of the wealthiest nations get together and talk. They already have Tony Blair, the british Prime Minister, on board, and he will present their idea to the other nations.

So, if they’re talking to world leaders, why should we care? Well, do you really think President Bush is going to listen to the likes of Bob Geldolf and Bono? Probably not. That’s where the concerts come in. The concerts are meant to attract attention of us, the people, in order to raise awareness of the situation. The president may not listen to a couple of rock stars, but he will pay attention to the concerns of millions of his constituents. I read somewhere that he appears to be on board with this and may double the amount of relief effort to africa. He’s a president on his second term, and like most presidents, he’s thinking about the legacy he will leave behind.

It’s an intriguing idea. Wouldn’t it be nice for the United States to make a difference in part of the world without sacrificing a single soldier, or firing a single shot?

Go here to find out more: www.live8live.com.

Now, about the shows themselves…

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Ah, the joys of ebay, part 2

And here we go again….

I thought I had sold my laptops finally. There’s still a chance the buyer may come through on one of them. But, the toshiba….

Third auction on the toshiba finally got all the way through to the end. I normally won’t accept bidders with zero feedback, but I thought I’d take a chance on this one…

Well, turns out that the person who won the auction was actually someone’s teenage daughter who was off playing on the computer while the folks were out of town. The girl set up her own ebay account and started winning auctions. The parents were just lucky that she forgot their paypal account info, or she would have tried to buy all of this stuff as well.

The people apologized and were nice enough to help me clear things up through ebay, but it put me back at square one again…

So here’s hoping the fourth time is the charm…

So far… only one scammer…

hello seller am so much interested in your item firstly i will like to know the condition of the item and i will like to know maybe you ship abroad because am getting it for a friend in west africa and i will be willing to pay you the sum of US$600 through western union auction payment(money order) including shipping through either USPS or Fedex to west africa”

ebay already nailed this one before I could forward it.

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Ah, the joys of ebay…

So, I’ve been on an ebay kick of late, trying to sell crap I have been meaning to sell for a while as well as some stuff I just don’t use.

That went pretty well. Then, I got the itch to upgrade my laptop. But, in order to do that, I decided I needed to get rid of the two I already have.

Well, selling laptops on ebay is an entirely new adventure than selling anything else online. There are a number of scammers watching the laptops sales who either send you emails with sob stories, or worse, use the buy it now option on your laptop, then send you the same goofy story.

Every single one of these comes from a newly created ebay user with zero feedback. Often, the accounts were created the day they started sending questions. Buy it now bastards are the worst, because then I have to spend time fighting with ebay to get credit for the auction, then start over. Africa appears to be the ‘destination’ of choice, for whatever reason.

The technical term of what these guys are trying to do is called ‘phishing,’ where they are trying to get users to submit personal information for identity theft.

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Revenge of the Sith — It didn’t suck…

If you were not one of the loyal (or crazy) Star Wars fans that managed to catch the movie at 12:01 this morning or sometime today, I am here to tell you that it was actually pretty good.

The title of this post I borrowed from Scott Kurtz of PVP who’s quick post about the movie was “it didn’t suck.”

I’ve seen it twice today, and I plan to try catch it at a DLP theater before too long.

What was good about it? This was the first of the new movies that felt like it could be on the same shelf with the original trilogy. If you don’t believe me, go watch Episode 1 before you see Sith, just to remind yourself about a) the story and b) just how bad Episode 1 was.

I don’t want to give much away about the story. I think Lucas handled the transformation of Anakin to Vader very well. The scenes where the emperor is finally revealed and all of his well laid plans are executed are some of the best and most tragic scenes ever seen in the Star Wars saga. The beginning and the end of the movie flow very well, keeping everyone engrossed in the action.

In fact, I was surprised to see how one scene in the trailers actually fit into the movie. I was worried about the scene in the trailer where Obi-Wan screams ‘You were the chosen one.’ It really bugged me for some reason, but after seeing it in the context of the completed film, it worked very well.

Ewan McGregor and Ian McDiarmid appear to be the most comfortable and appear to be having the most fun with their characters ( Obi Wan and Palpatine, respectively).

Oh, and Jar Jar (I will give this one away) doesn’t die, but he a) never speaks and b) is now only an extra that shows up in a couple of group shots. So, that’s a big plus.

Is the movie perfect? Of course not. It seems like the movie drags on in the middle while you wait for all of the pieces to fall into place. Once there, the pace is non-stop until nearly the end of the movie.

There is one confrontation that ends in a pretty lame way. And, as before, any scene with Anakin and Padme is pretty painful to watch. However, some of the scenes involving those two are a little better than the last film. I know Natalie Portman is an amazing actress. I’ve never seen Hayden Christiansen in anything else, so I’m not sure about him. I just don’t know why Lucas can’t get these scenes right.

And, although it’s cool to see the Vader suit again, it just feels out of place in this film. It’s primarily because the ‘older’ technology feels more advanced than anything in the original movies. It’s like showing us the light high tech armor that U.S. soldiers wear today and then trying to convince us that a guy in full plate mail is ‘newer’ technology.

One of the new characters, General Grievous, simply shows up. Plus, Lucas tries to convey everything that happened in the time between Episode II and III in the opening text of the film. If you want to learn more about the Clone Wars, you’ll have to pick up the Clone Wars animated series on DVD. You’d have to wait to catch the 3rd season on DVD or catch it in reruns on Cartoon Network. The 3rd season is probably the one to watch because it covers the events immediately before Episode III. In fact, the last episode of Clone Wars ends right where Episode III begins, which I thought was a nice way to integrate the two.

Overall, the movie is really good. The special effects continue to be more and more amazing. After seeing this one, it makes you wish Lucas could go back and spend some quality time with Episodes I & II and ‘fix’ them instead of trying to tweak the original trilogy again. After seeing Episode III, you can tell that Lucas had this one pretty well thought out, and that the other two movies only exist to set up the events for this one.

What about the nostalgia factor? What about the other movies ( 7, 8 & 9 )? This has been a journey that has taken 28 years to complete. We’ve waited that long to finally see how Anakin becomes Vader, the rise of the Empire, and the fall of the Jedi.

The saga has been part of Lucas’ life for at least that long. In this day and age, it’s hard to comprehend doing anything for 28 years ( hell, most marriages these days don’t last that long ). So, I really don’t blame Lucas for wanting to get away from it.

Sure, to a certain extent, it would be cool to see 7, 8 & 9 made, just because it would be an amazing cinematic feat that would not likely ever be repeated. But, at the same time, there are so many books out there already that cover what happens after Return of the Jedi that maybe there’s no point to making the movies.

It’s a little sad to see the last Star Wars movie, and I hope that Lucas will reconsider making the last three. At the very least, maybe he’ll turn then over to someone he trusts ( rumors have mentioned Spielberg doing them).

But, if this is truly the final one, then I think Episode III was a great way to end it.

alas, poor macromedia, I knew thee well…

Last monday, I saw an article on news.com that I never thought I would ever see…

Adobe buys Macromedia

Dvorak has a good theory on why this has happened. To me, being an ex-macromedian, it still sounds like something out of the twilight zone.

His theory is that Adobe was worried Micro$oft was going to snatch up Macromedia in a bid to get into the online publishing business. Better to buy them out and chuck them into the garbage than compete against Micro$oft.

What do they really gain? Well, they will get Flash, which will give them two of the most popular (and annoying) technologies on the web. Acrobat was cool up until version 6.0, when Adobe slapped that annoying updater onto it.

What about the other products? That’s the big question.

Since the internet boom, Macromedia’s big sellers have shifted from Director, FreeHand (yes that’s a capital ‘H’), and Authorware to Flash, Dreamweaver and Fireworks.

Adobe may hang on to Director and Authorware because they don’t have products in that space.

FreeHand, though, has been stagnant since version 8, so it’s on the way to oblivion.

Dreamweaver? Adobe has GoLive. I haven’t touched that product since the early days (before Adobe snagged it), so I can’t comment on it as a product. If it has a better rendering engine than DW, I would welcome it ( I still can’t get DW to display a halfway complex design correctly ). These products may get thrown into a blender to create GoDreamweaverLive.

Fireworks is the product I’m the most worried about. Fireworks, even though it has a few hiccups, is my favorite Macromedia product, and I would hate to see it go away. But, Photoshop/ImageReady (from Adobe) are already huge bloated products, and I’m afraid that Fireworks will get assimilated into one/both of those products. That would truly suck.

The rest may get to stick around for awhile, simply because they don’t really compete with Adobe’s existing product line.

Well, ok. Kill Cold Fusion. Make the pain stop. That shite should have been put out to pasture years ago. JRun is still a decent app server, though.

There are a lot of good people at Macromedia, and I hate to see the company being devoured by Adobe simply because they’re worried about a much much bigger beast getting to the company first.

Hang onto your Macromedia products if you’re using them because they may be the last versions you’ll see.

UPDATE: Well, maybe Adobe isn’t so paranoid after all. Micro$oft is going to enter the online publishing market when Longhorn comes out. But, they are coming up with their own standard, code-named ‘metro’ ( oy ). Where does Micro$oft come up with their code names? ‘Metro’ makes me think of that stupid new term ‘metrosexual’ — Does that mean the Queer Eye guys are leading the development team?

At least Apple comes up with cool code names. : )

For those of you who haven’t seen this, ‘metrosexual’ is supposed to be a label for ‘straight’ men who are not afraid to embrace their feminine side. Don’t ask me why we needed a term for it. If you’re worried you might be infected, you can take the Metrosexual Quiz.

And, no, I only scored an 8 on the quiz, so I am safely assured I’m nothing of the sort. So, there, beat that score! Or, well, maybe not.

Let her go…

I have been fighting the urge to comment on the Terri Schiavo story that has been front and center in the news for the last 10 days or so. But, hey, if Jesse Jackson can show up and throw his hat into the ring, then it must not be too late…

Bottom line: She should be allowed to die. It is, according to her husband, what she wanted. And, the courts have been right all along in either staying out of it or backing the husband. According to polls, most people agree. They are also ticked off that the government has tried to intervene, which they shouldn’t have. This MSNBC story echos a lot of my thoughts about the situation.

The thing that gets me in these situations are those wacky ‘right-to-lifers’ who will chuck just about anything aside for the ‘sanctity’ of life. Remember, these are the same folks who have been freaking out and preaching about the ‘sanctity’ of marriage while protesting the concept of gay marriage. In this case, they’re willing to chuck all that marriage stuff aside in order to preserve life. They want the government, any government, to intervene, even though they don’t realize that doing so tramples on the rights of the individual.

I’m not saying this is an easy subject. Heck, even the Catholic church is divided on the subject, which is very scary considering there is news about inserting a feeding tube in the Pope. Granted, the situation is significantly different when you have a person whose mind is sharp and whose body is failing him. But, what if, God forbid, he has a stroke/heart attack/whatever that puts him in the same state as Shiavo. And you thought the press over the Schiavo case was crazy…

But, in my opinion the ‘right-to-lifers’ have an ulterior motive in all this. If they can ever get the government to take the bait and pass some sort of legislation that would preserve life at all costs, then they have leverage to push for legislation on their other favorite topic — abortion.

Fortunately, if that ever happened, the courts would eventually strike it down. Florida has already tried to interfere with the Schiavo case. In one case the law was passed and struck down by the courts. And the second attempt last week never got past the state senate.

Here’s the question for those of you still in favor of putting that tube back in her. If you were in the same situation, would you want to live like that? If you said no, and if you’ve even gone so far as to take steps to ensure that this situation would not happen to you (like set up a living will — which, by the way, may or may not help you), then, why on earth would you think it is okay to put another human being through that?

Part of the Christian doctrine is about life, but it’s also about compassion for your fellow man. Who are you really being compassionate for? The woman who’s been living in a persistent-vegetative state for 15 years? Or, the parents/family who simply won’t let go?

The only good ‘liberal’…

I came across this article a couple of weeks ago.

Can Liberalism Survive?

I thought it was an interesting read. To some extent, when I think of what happening to the democrats, I think of this poster from despair, inc. Persistence, because in spite of the fact that they lost the election they just can’t seem to get over it.

I don’t think that one party or the other should go away. But, the democrats just can’t let it go. I’m not talking about the more moderate folks. I’m talking about the far left folks that have taken over the democratic party. These are the folks who have basically decided that most of Americans are too stupid to make intelligent decisions, so we should put them in power so they can make all of those hard decisions on our behalf.

Instead of reflecting on why this attitude didn’t sit well with the American people, these folks continue to throw tantrums, even writing crap like this Fuck the South and use the fact that Bush won the election as evidence of the stupidity of the majority of the U.S. population.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure that most politicians on both sides believe the average person to be too stupid to figure out what’s really going on. They’re wrong, because most people simply don’t care either way.

But, the democrats can’t seem to figure out that their current approach isn’t working. As long as they stay the course, republicans will continue to gain support and win more elections.

Get over it. Let it go. Better luck in 2008, guys.

PS BTW – Hillary isn’t the answer either. I personally don’t have a problem with a woman as the president, but I don’t think the majority of the country is ready for that. And, I’m pretty sure they won’t bite on Clinton. Martha Stewart, maybe. Oprah, maybe, but not Hillary.

farkin’ hilarious

For those of you who have never heard of fark.com, you should really drop in sometime. You don’t have to click on the “boobies” links, just read the headlines. Some of them are classic. Some links are not safe for work (NSFW), but they usually will label them as such.

The best one I saw tonight:

Bill Clinton sleeps on floor of plane during tsunami tour, allowing elder Bush to sleep on bed. Political analysts believe this is first time Clinton has seen bush in a bed and declined to jump in

Some others:

Body of Christ to get new and improved flavor

Boeing CEO fired because he couldn’t keep his plane out of a colleague’s hangar

Green Day wakes 9 year old from coma. First words are “Turn that sh*t off.”

America’s 10 most powerful women. Surprisingly, your wife did not make the list

Scientists develop new battery that can recharge in 6 minutes and can last 50 times longer than conventional batteries. Vibrator manufacturers said to be abuzz with delight

mac software purchases

It’s been a month since i bought my g4 ibook, and I have been happy with it so far.

I have not done any battery metrics with it, but the battery life has been impressive. I can charge it up, leave it unplugged for 3-4 days, turn it on and have a couple of hours of life on it. I’m pretty sure my toshiba won’t even boot if left unplugged for four days. I may try that later.

I have not yet tried to do any development on it, so there’s at least one program I have not picked up yet.

So far here’s the list of software I’ve purchased.

iLife ’05 upgrade
Mac Journal 3.0
NetNewsWire/MarsEdit ( right now Ranchero software has deal going where the license for NetNewsWire will also work on MarsEdit. Two nice products for $39.95 )
CopyWrite 2.1.8

I will probably add TextMate to the list at some point, but I need to play with it some more.
I may also pick up VoodooPad as well.

The nice thing is that all of these products are $40 or under.

I have yet to pick up Office for Mac yet. I just don’t know if I want to.

I am also staying away from graphics programs for now as well. I think my 12″ screen is going to a bit cramped for graphics, especially when I have a nice 22″ monitor 10 feet away from where I am typing this. Plus, the graphics apps are the ones with the $500-$700 price tags.

The only product I was a little disappointed with was MacJournal, and that’s only because they had a 15-day trial instead of a 30 like most companies. I like the product overall though.

So, I have spent about $125 on software and the iLife upgrade.