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Saturday, March 30, 2002

A PDA Diversion

Eveyone needs a little diversion in their day. Bang Bang!, a fun game for your Palm OS-compatible PDA can entertain you while standing in line at the post office or waiting for a table at your favorite restaurant.

Coffee Geeks Unite!

If you want to experience the height of coffee obsession, this is place.

The Usenet Newsgroup, alt.coffee boasts the finest collection of coffeegeeks on the planet.

Learn why you can't make true espresso with a steam "espresso" machine.

Learn why the perfect espresso shot is exactly 23 seconds long.

Learn how to use those funky aluminum Moka pots that the Italians are so fond of.

Coffeegeek.com is a web site where the alt.coffee crowd can get their fix of How-To's, machine reviews and more.

You don't need to take your coffee drinking to level that these people do, but I have learned enough to improve the quality of my coffee a hundred-fold. Check it out, but beware. I know of at least 1 person who ended up becoming a professional coffee roaster after stumbling upon alt.coffee.

Career-Op: Starting to Surf

ComputorEdge Magazine, March 29, 2002

A few years ago, I was a volunteer at my local library. What started out as a few introductory Internet classes turned into a 5 year stint helping anyone who came to open up the wonders of the Internet. I gave this class to over 2000 people over this time and each and every class was enlightening. It is often said that in teaching you learn as much as you teach. I learned about people and how best to communicate high-tech topics to even the most novice computer users.

The title above to read the entire column

Snap Server - Easy to install file server for Small Office/Home Office

My friend Sam (also a computer consultant) let me know about these easy-to-use file servers. You simply pluf in a network cable and power and the server appears in the Windows Network Nieghborhood or Mac Chooser. Futher configuration can be done using a web browser.

This looks like a great way to add server storage to your small network.

Emergence: The connected lives of ants, brains, cities and software

by Steven Johnson

I have always had an affinity for science books, so this one caught my eye while I was reading some magazine. Johnson gives a clearer understanding of how relatively "dumb" communities, like ants, can show us how some systems become self-organizing. Ants develop large communities that mange all the necessities of daily life; food, cleanup, reproduction; when each ant only knows about their own local environment.

One of the best sections seeks to explain a common phenomenon that I have experienced in many different situations. Once a given community grows beyond a certain size, the ability of a small minority to hijack the community becomes easier. These "cranks" seek to turn every discussion to their own ends regardless of the context. Johnson uses Slashdot as an example of how moderation feedback, having members rate other members messages helps to self-organize the system so that it can continue to work even with millions of members.

Emergence offers a wonderful explanation of systems that we might not even notice operating around us and ways we can use these self-organizing systems to solve some of societies biggest problems.

Friday, March 29, 2002

The 101 Dumbest Moments in Business

Via Business 2.0

Only 101?

Enron, Andersen and others figure prominently.

Astronomy Picture of the Day One of my favorite sites. A on-going collection of some of the best astronomy pictures on the web. Complete archives are available, too. From the site... "Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer."

From Windmills to Whirligigs

A wonderfuls site I stumbled across that uses an amazing collection of whirligigs to teach scientific concepts. Hosted by the Science Museum of Minnesota. From the site... "We (Karen, Natalie & Mike) were looking for a unique science and art connection to wind. We found it with Vollis Simpson and his windmill-powered whirligigs."

From Career-Op:Assistance, ComputorEdge Magazine, March 22, 2002 "Whether you are working as an independent consultant or for an in-house, IT department, helping users help themselves can be an important part of improving your career. It may seem odd, but giving the users the tools to solve common problems themselves frees your time for the more intractable issues that always appear. If you approach self-support in the right way, as an improvement in service instead of extra work for the users, you can begin to build a cooperative arrangement that can help everyone be more productive." Read the entire column

Book Recommendation

Love by the Glass : Tasting Notes from a Marriage by Dorothy J. Gaiter, John Brecher Just finished this excellent memoir by the authors of The Wall Street Journal's 'Tastings' column. While the authors do talk about wine a lot, it is truly a story of their lives and relationship long before they began writing about wine for a living. An excellent and quick read. Gaiter and Brecher are a wonderful couple, if a bit "precious" at times. I have seen them on Martha Stewart Living on occasion and was charmed by their love for wine and their desire to make it understandable to all. Wine is truly an obsession for them, but we can all learn from their obsession without taking it to that level. I highly recommend reading their "Tastings" column in the Wall Street Journal each Friday. It contains more information on particular wines and recommendations. From Amazon.com... List Price: $24.95 Our Price: $17.47 You Save: $7.48 (30%) Gaiter and Brecher are also the authors of the Wall Street Journal Guide to Wine, another highly recommended book. It offers information and recommendations for each specific variety of wine.

Wine Recommendation

Fetzer Vineyards 2001 Echo Ridge Gewürztraminer
CostCo or CostPlus World Market $4.99

Wow! More explanation below… I hadn’t had any white wine in a long time, we tend to drink a lot of red with our pasta meals, so I decided to pick up a couple of bottles on my last trip to CostCo. I wasn’t terribly selective, looking more for a variety than any particular vineyard or type of white. This is one of the bottles I picked up that day, There are some wines that you know are going to taste wonderful simply by the smell they offer up from the glass. This is certainly one. With a small swirl the scent of lemons and citrus rose up and filled the room. The first sip brought even more citrus flavors and a residual sweetness that almost made you want to down the entire glass at once. Fight this temptation and sip. Your will be rewarded. I served this bottle refrigerator cold and it was very refreshing. It tasted like cold spring water on a hot summer day, but with the added enjoyment of fruit, sugar and spice. I highly recommend you pick up a few bottles if you are wine drinker. If not, this wine might just change your mind. It is approachable, fun, slightly sweet and a perfect wine for sipping on the patio as the temperatures rise. I plan on making this my summer "house wine” this year. CostCo here I come! Saluti! Douglas