# Monday, January 24, 2005

I have a hobbyist level interest in linguistics, and one of the things I find most fascinating about language is the way it changes.  Modern English provides us with some pretty stunning examples.  I think they tend to fall into two categories.  There are abuses that are just plain wrong and should be severely dealt with, many of which can be found in our media (and political speeches).  These stem mainly from a lack of proper education, or just plain lack of attention.  I was a bit shocked to here Dr. Rice, in her confirmation hearings, talk about the “dismantlement” of our nuclear missiles.  This would be abuse. 

On the other hand, there are innovative uses of language that, IMHO, grow our language in interesting ways.  As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a huge fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and one of the biggest reasons I love the show is for it’s innovative use of language.  There’s a cool page over at PBS right now about “Slayer Slang” and some of the innovative linguistic tidbits to come out of BtVS.  As but one small example, when told that something was “pointless”, Buffy responds “it’s totally pointy!”  That’s innovative use of language, and I think it should be applauded.

Given that, I was happy to see Wil Wheaton start a post today with the word “Embiggened”. :-)  Is it a word?  No.  Should it be?  Maybe.  Is it evocative and interesting?  Most definitely. 

Monday, January 24, 2005 10:23:20 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 

 Henrik Gemal has added some code to Thunderbird (as a first step he says) to provide extra protection from phishing.   Sounds like a pretty good start to me.  You’ll get a warning if the link you clicked on in an email is an IP address instead of DNS, or if it’s a different address from the one in the text of the link.  A little goes a long way here, and this will certainly be a big help. 

Good work!

Monday, January 24, 2005 10:09:58 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Thursday, January 13, 2005

I finally feel as if I’m starting to recover from the weekend…

My wife received a big award in the SCA (she’s now a Laurel for anyone who knows what that means) and the run up to the event was pretty hectic.  And the party that followed was epic in proportion.  I’m just not as young as I used to be.  I should have some pictures up after this weekend.

Anyway, hopefully things will pick up here a bit now that it’s over. 

Thursday, January 13, 2005 1:12:43 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Thursday, January 06, 2005

No surprises there…


I am nerdier than 76% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

Thursday, January 06, 2005 2:33:50 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 

My musical tastes tend to run towards the eclectic.  Basically, I like just about any kind of music that sounds like the people who made it actually cared about what they were doing.  This mostly only excludes “pop” in all its evil forms. 

Anyhow, once again Rhapsody is my friend, and I found this guy named Krishna Das.  The have him listed under “Devotional”, since his lyrics center around Indian (Hindu) religious themes, but the music is pretty progressive.  Picture Hare Krisnas doing Trip Hop.  I’m diggin’ it as background music-to-code by. 

The fun of subscribing to Rhapsody is that I get access to all kinds of amazing music on demand, but not stuff that I’d necessarily want to shell out for on CD.  The fact that I can only listen to it when I’m at my (or any) PC isn’t a problem, since that’s where I mostly am anyway. 

I really dig what is often referred to as “Asian Underground”.  There are a whole bunch of South Asian DJs and musicians living in the UK who are combining traditional South Asian music forms with electronica/dance music.  Very cool stuff.  It’s an amazing fusion that really works well.  Check out stuff like DJ Cheb i Sabbah, MIDIval PunditZ, and State of Bengal (one of my favorites).

Thursday, January 06, 2005 11:23:03 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Wednesday, December 29, 2004

As the recent earthquake/tsunami crisis in Asia and East Africa has demonstrated, no matter how much we like to think we have mastered our environment, we haven’t.  So right after you send in your donation to a relief agency, start thinking about how prepared you are for a disaster.  These things can happen in First World countries too.  In fact, geologist predict that a 9.0 earthquake could happen off our own (Oregon) coastline.  A 10% chance in the next 30 years. 

The most important thing to keep in mind is that in the event of a disaster of this magnitude, EMS personnel will NOT be coming to your house any time soon.  They’ll be going to schools, hospitals, retirement communities, and places where there are large groups of people who are incapable of helping themselves.  We as capable citizens should be prepared to look after ourselves and our families, and to help our neighbors for the first 72 hours without the expectation of help from the authorities. 

So be prepared!  It doesn’t take much effort to put together a 72 hour kit for your family.  You can put one together yourself, or buy one already made.  You can do it a little bit at a time. 

Better still, take the next step and get some training.  Check out your local CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) program.  CERT is a program (now under the mandate of FEMA) for creating local teams of volunteers who can help themselves and their neighbors in times of emergency.  Check the FEMA site for a training program near you.  Most programs involve a fairly minimal training commitment (the program I entered in Hillsboro is 24 hours, or three hours a week for 8 weeks).  You’ll learn some important skills, and it’s a lot of fun.   

If you are into technology, get your amateur radio license and learn how to provide emergency communications.

Take the initiative!  Be prepared to protect yourself and your family.  No time like the present.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004 1:56:07 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Tuesday, December 28, 2004

I haven’t had cable TV for many years.  In fact my TV at home pretty much only gets one channel.  Luckily, it happens to be our fabulous local public broadcasting station, OPB.  Every time I see cable television, at the gym, at my parents’ houses, etc. I’m once again shocked and appalled by the lousy (I might go so far as to say “execrable”) shows that are on.  The one possible exception would be the food network, which often has some pretty cool stuff on, but they have their share of garbage too. 

Which isn’t to say that nobody is making good television!  There are some truly great shows on TV.  I’m just not willing to put up with the 99% that’s awful.  Luckily, more and more shows are being released on DVD, and I’ve become an avid fan of TV-on-DVD.  I’m more that willing to shell out $40–$50 for a season’s worth of good TV.  I must admit though, that’s about my limit.  There are a few really great shows out on disk that are just too expensive.  I love the Sopranos, but $75 a season is too much.  I was a huge X-Files fan in the early days, but there’s no way it’s worth $100+ a season.  But there are lots of shows coming out for a reasonable price that are well worth checking out…

I’m a huge Joss Whedon fan, so I’ve got all 7 seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer now (say what you will, it’s a fantastic show!) and the final season of Angel comes out in February.  I’m also a huge fan of Firefly, Joss’s sadly short-lived Sci-Fi series, which is a great on DVD and includes some shows that never made it to the air. 

For Christmas this year I got the first two seasons of Roswell (great stuff) and the first season of Dead Like Me, which I find completely hilarious.  My wife got the first two seasons of the BBC classic Red Dwarf, which she and my kids totally adore. 

There are also some “vintage” shows coming out on DVD which I think is pretty cool.  I’ve picked up 21 Jump Street, Quantum Leap, and Northern Exposure so far.  21 Jump Street is worth it for the clothing styles alone.  Those were the days.  If only they’d put Miami Vice on disk. :-)

So as you can see from the list above, it’s not that I don’t like TV, I’d just rather put my $40 bucks a month into content that I know I like rather than bet it on the drivel the networks pump out.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004 3:07:21 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [4]  | 
Last year I got a great jacket for my birthday from SCOTTeVEST.  This year I got the fleece version, which also fits inside the shell I got last year to provide (much needed this time of year) insulation.  These are great jackets, very comfy and covered in more pockets that the average non-geek would know what to do with.  I haven’t had a chance to properly wire up the fleece yet, but I’m sure that’s coming any day now.  I’ve got a pair of noise cancelling ear buds semi-permanently wired into the shell, so I never have to wonder where I put those #(@*! headphones.  Of course that just leaves me wondering where I put the #*@(!@ iPod instead. 
Tuesday, December 28, 2004 9:49:44 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Being a dedicated Firefox user, one of the few things that was still thwarting me was SharePoint.  We use SharePoint internally for a ton of stuff, and it was a drag to have to fall back to that other browser.  SharePoint pages look and work fine in Firefox, but I was having to reauthenticate on every single page, which really hindered my enjoyment of the experience.

I finally figured out how to get Firefox to do NTLM, which means I don’t have to deal with the authentication dialogs, thereby reducing my dependence on IE to one and only one application (Oddpost). 

It’s not at all obvious how to make it work, and it took me a few tries.  You have to go to your Firefox address bar and type about:config.  This will bring up the internal config editor, which allows you to set all kinds of properties that influence Firefox’s behavior.  Look for the key called network.automatic-ntlm-auth.trusted-uris.  Set that key’s value to a comma separated list of servers you want NTLM auth for.  So if your internal SharePoint sites are on servers called Larry and Mo, use “larry,mo”.  You can also add the same value to the key network.negotiate-auth.trusted-uris.  It’s unclear to me if that second one is required, but I set it, and everything works.  Now SharePoint works like a champ, and authenticates automatically.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004 10:53:30 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [18]  | 
# Monday, December 20, 2004

The open source email client, not the fortified wine. 

I’ve ditched Outlook at home in favor of Thunderbird 1.0, and I’m pretty happy with the decision.  Between the increased speed of startup and mail downloading, and the vastly superior HTML rendering time, it takes me much less time to read my mail now than it did with Outlook.  The junk mail filtering works very well, and consistently.  The filtering rules are easy to compose (although my one gripe is that I can’t figure out how to get the rules to run every time I get new mail) and work consistently as well.

I installed the extension “Enigmail” which provides a very nice frond end to GnuPG PKI engine, and it integrates extraordinarily well into Thunderbird.  The install of GPG was quite challenging, but the Thunderbird integration is super easy to use. 

Pretty much the only things I miss about Outlook are a couple of plugins, NewsGator and Plaxo, but I’m finding out that I didn’t use them all that much at home anyway. 

Thunderbird + Firefox == one big happy for me. :-)

Monday, December 20, 2004 2:18:51 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [3]  |