Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Proof that cats do not need chiropractors…

Without further comment…




-- //Steve//

A desk clock for ultra-geeks!

My daughter, Shawna, gave me this some time back.  I kind of take it for granted but today for some reason it just caught my eye in a special way, so I thought I’d share it with the world.

A few years ago she was shopping around and found this little trinket:

Modem Clock

Believe it or not, it’s an old 2400-baud internal PC modem that someone mounted on a base, including part of the motherboard!!!  Then whoever this inventive soul was mounted a clock on it!

A simple little trinket, but it’s one of my cherished possessions.  So no, you won’t see it up on eBay – at least not mine! :)

-- //Steve//

PS: Yes, boys and girls, at one time having a 2400-baud modem meant you really had a hot system!  (I once had a 1200-baud half-duplex modem – wouldn’t go full duplex on my Apple II Plus – and was envied, so that dates me a bit.)


Monday, March 15, 2010

Check before you forward that message…!

I don’t know how many messages I get every day from well-meaning friends – and family members! – who see something heart-warming in their mailbox and forward it along to everyone they can think of.  I appreciate seeing a lot of them, some not so much, but before I forward anything like that I always check the most reliable source I have yet found to make sure they’re real before sending them on.

The Snopes web site at www.snopes.com is by far the most reliable source I’ve yet discovered for back-checking to find out if such-and-such a forwarded message is real or not.  Some have turned out to be legitimate.  Others started that way but morphed out of control over the years.  But the bulk of the stuff that I get forwarded to me turns out to be just plain bogus.

Today I got one that was probably the greatest story I had seen in a long time.  I so wanted it to be real, but I had to check.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t.  It wasn’t a hoax, just an article of fiction written for a magazine in 1998 and has since been treated as fact and forwarded along.  Details are here for those who are interested.

If you read it, you’ll know why I wished it were true.

Anyway, the point is, PLEASE back-check anything you read before forwarding it along.  Do your part to keep the volume of email traffic down as much as possible.  Your mail provider will thank you.  (Well, maybe not but you can give yourself a “warm feeling inside” by knowing you did the right thing.)

-- //Steve//


“Folding the corners down” on electronic magazines…

I’m finding myself more and more drawn to the idea of using electronic magazines rather than print.  Not surprising, considering I come from the deep end of the geek pool, right?

Anyway, a lot of my magazines come to me in electronic form, either in PDF format or via the Zinio service.  There are a few other such services, but Zinio is the only one I’ve found that’s really worth bothering with.

One thing I usually do with print magazines when they come in is to quickly page through each one and dog-ear the pages where an article or ad appears which is of interest to me.  Later, when I have time to get into the serious reading part, I just flip through and go to the pages with the corner folded, and read those articles.

Zinio has a cool feature where you can annotate the information on your page.  You can either use the “highlighter” mode and put a highlight on the article title or advertisement of interest, or you can put a little Post-it type of note on the page with whatever notes you want to make – the digital equivalent of jotting down notes in the margin of the magazine.

The problem with that approach on print magazines is that it would require you to page through the whole magazine to find where the highlights and post-its are located, unless you “dog-ear” the pages to mark which pages have notes.  Zinio makes that easier with the option to “Show Annotation List.”  It puts a list on the right side of the window with a list of all of the annotations you’ve made in the magazine that’s currently open.  Click on the annotation in the list, and you go straight to that page.  Once you’ve finished dealing with whatever you noted, you can delete the post-it note or erase the highlight, and move on to the next thing.

I haven’t yet discovered a way to do that in Adobe Reader yet, but give it time.  I know it can be done in the full Acrobat software, but unless you have a need to create PDFs that are more involved than just using the “print-to-PDF-format” option, getting Acrobat for something like this is more like swatting a fly with a sledge hammer.  Give it time, though, I’ll either find that feature in the free Adobe Reader program, or a free or inexpensive alternative to it somewhere else.  Stay tuned.

-- //Steve//

PS: The only down-side I’ve found so far in using Zinio is that if your magazines come with a free DVD included, you don’t get that DVD with the electronic version.  At least, that’s the case with the publications to which I presently subscribe.  Hopefully as more publishers sign on to the electronic-publishing format, they’ll determine a way to make that possible.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Mysterious Benefactor


We were very pleasantly surprised this afternoon to find a greeting card in the mail, unsigned and unidentified other than a Santa Ana, CA postmark, containing a $100 gift card from Stater Bros. supermarkets!

Lord knows, we certainly can use it, and we’re grateful beyond words for the help.  I just wish I knew whom to thank for this very welcome gift!  If by chance our mysterious benefactor happens to read this….


-- //Steve//

So what action IS appropriate?


I just read the following in the RCI Cyberjournal, the daily email bulletin sent out by Radio Canada International:



The Canadian government is defending its handling of the case of Iranian-Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi.  Ms. Kazemi died in police custody in Tehran in 2003 after being beaten and tortured.  Canada's government has expressed its dissatisfaction over Iran's investigation into her death.  Her son, Stephan Hazhemi, has sent a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper in which he accuses the government of uttering empty words of condemnation while failing to support them with action against Iran.  A spokeswoman for Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon says that the government has consistently spoken out against human rights abuses in Iran.


I’m wondering, what sort of action DOES Mr. Hazhemi think is appropriate?  Should Canada go to war over this?  I understand how he must feel, and I know I’d be in an absolute fit if I were in his shoes, but the wheels of diplomacy and international relations don’t exactly run at NASCAR speeds, and there is only so much that one nation can do with regards to the actions of another, short of actual military action.

So I’m curious, what sort of action does Mr. Hazhemi want the Canadian government to take?

-- //Steve//