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Saturday, April 06, 2002

Time to set the clocks back? -- You Bet!

Ever wondered about the when, what and how of Daylight Savings Time? Here it is, directly from the US Naval Observatory.

Adobe Photoshop for OS X will be available via Amazon on April 20, 2002.

You can per-order today!

It will be great to finally have a native version since it is the choice of nearly evey power Mac user.

Paper Plate Education
"Serving the Universe on a Paper Plate"

Sites that serve up unique ways of explaining the world around us always catch my interest.

Activities include a portable sundial, constellation projector and how to turn a salad spinner into a zoetrope. An especially good resource for teachers.

Link via Yahoo

Friday, April 05, 2002

Are you gettting telephone calls from 954-623-4620? So have LOTS of other people!

It just so happened that I saw mention of this on MetaFilter on the day that I have received at least 2 hang-up calls with nothing but a few weird tones when I pick up the phone.

It seems AT&T has hired a telemarketing company to get people to switch to AT&T. Unfortunately, they are using the most annoying methods possible and, in some cases, refusing to honor DO NOT CALL requests.

Magical Macintosh Key Sequences

Ever wondered how to eject a disk from the drive on boot, close all the Finder windows with one click, how to force your Mac to boot from a CD. Here are your answers. Make your Mac do everything but sit up and beg!

From the site...

"This is a collection of the (poorly documented) key-sequences that do things. It's probably possible to find all this information within Apple's Knowledge Base, but it's currently scattered across multiple entries."
Via macintouch.com

Career-Op - Build a community

A high-tech career can be lonely. Whether you’re working on some programming problem, installing gigabytes of software, updating web sites or trying to solve some intractable computer problem, it can often feel as if you are all alone, with no one to praise you, no one to help you and no one to watch your back. Spend enough hours in "heads down" mode, as I call it, and you can find yourself yearning for a little human interaction. There are ways, though, to help you stay focused on your career by developing your own personal support group.

Click the title above to read the entire column

Apple Security Update

Ok, Mac users, its time to run Software Update again. This update patches a bunch of UNIX system programs underlying OS X. It is always a good idea to install security patches as soon as possible so you don't run into any nasty surprises.

As an added bonus, there is also an update for iTunes (2.0.4) waiting in your Software Update.

Via Versiontracker.com

Thursday, April 04, 2002

A Gardener's Notebook

You can easily tell when Spring has arrived in our garden here in Van Nuys. The roses were nothing but "shorn sheep" after their heavy pruning in January, but now they are already large, healthy bushes bursting with buds. By the beginning of next week I expect to be in the middle of a "Rose Tide." when all the pink blooms peak at the same time. In a good year we get several such explosions, one always more welcome than the one before.

The purple roses in the back have already bloomed, but they are smaller, more scented and more delicate. They will bloom almost continuously during the summer. A few JFK and Mikado roses join the mix in the back garden, as well.

Joe and I potted up a bunch of cuttings from our garden and that of our friend, Jo Ann. She brought over an entire bag of ice plant cuttings taken during the cleanup of her garden. If I can get them to root I will use them to fill in some holes in the front beds. We also potted up several rosemary cuttings that will eventually turn into small topiaries. Finally, I took some ivy pieces and started them in hopes of covering our small wall made from recycled concrete. I am not sure which ivy it is, but it seems much less invasive than the typical English Ivy I hve seen in other yards in the neighborhood.

The bulbs are mostly done blooming at this point; their foliage flopped on the ground, soaking up the energy they will need for next years bloom. They look so untidy, but I refuse to spend the time braiding, twisting or otherwise cleaning up the mess. It requires too much time and energy. I will wait until the leaves brown and dry and then clean them up.

There is always more work to do, but I hope to fill out the plantings in the shade garden, now that the new soaker system is in place. This will make it much easier to maintain the area and insure that any new plants get off to a good start.

I realize that things happen a little more quickly out here in California, but I am sure you all will be back in your gardens before long.

Be well!

Los Encinos Grand Re-Opening

April 27, 2002

Los Encinos Park, heavily damaged in the Northridge earthquake is re-opening on April 27, 2002. A day of celebration is planned with music, dancing, living history and kid's activities.

This is a beautiful park, hidden, although it fronts right on Ventura Blvd. Just east of Balboa. There is a duck pond, the original adobe, the big house and more. We have been waiting for the park to re-open for quite some time.

Visit the park's web site for more information.


Photo: http://news.bbc.co.uk/

As the summer quickly approaches, especially here in Southern California, it is time for us all to be on our guard against wildfire.

Whether fires are intentionally set (a horrible crime) or natural in origin, quick detection can keep a small fire from turning into disaster. You can help by being prepared and being aware.

  • Program your cell phone with emergency and regular numbers for local agencies, including 911, police, fire, ranger stations, etc.
  • Report any suspicious or dangerous activity, no matter how small
  • Report any signs of smoke, campfires, illegal grills, smoking in prohibited areas, etc.

Working together we can help to prevent the types of fire damage we have seen in past years.

The Tehachapi Loop

My friend, Barb, passed on the following in my WelchEvents mailing list and I thought it would be interesting to the readers here, as well. My response follows.

"I saw that you listed Lancaster Poppy Festival around the 20th of April.....if anyone of your friends choose to go there have them drive a short distance further to Tehachapi to see The Tehachapi Loop. One of the seven wonders of the Railroad World. Up to 35 trains a day can pass through there so there's never a dull moment! :)


You just told everyone about it. (COOL) Rosanne I and checked it out one day, driving back from Bakersfield.

Here is a link to information on the Historical Marker at the site.


And this Google search gives you more information than you ever wanted to know about it.


tinywords.com: daily haiku

Want to bring a little serenity into your day? Try tiny words. There are days when I need a little haiku to help me put life in perspective. Imagine getting a 3 line poem while the boss is droning on about downsizing, rightsizing or whatever "sizing" it is today. How about a little haiku while you are trapped in traffic on the 405?

You can receive your haiku via email, SMS message to your cell phone or on your PDA. Now there is no reason not to get a little poetry into your life.

Dion's new CD crashing party for some users

Like we needed something else to crash our computers?!?!?

I understand the problems involved with copyright enforcemnent and stopping the piracy of music, but simply playing the music on a computer is a legitimate use of the CD. You can be sure that I will not buy any of these "locked" CDs. My computer crashes enough on its own, thank you very much.

Somewhat unsaid in the article, were the CD to crash the computer while you have other applications open, the chances of data loss are extremely high. I can see it now.

"Gee boss, I just wanted to play some music to relax while I worked on the Welch contract and I lost everything. That isn't a problem is it?"

From Yahoo news...

"Epic/Sony released "A New Day Has Come" embedded with Key2Audio copy protection in Germany and several other European countries. According to a spokeswoman for Sony Music Entertainment, it is clearly stated on the front of the booklet and on the back of the jewel box that the CD "will not play on a PC or a Mac" in the language of the country in which it is sold. Besides those notices, which the spokeswoman said were readable before purchase, the disc itself bears the same warning."

Brewery Art Walk 2002

We have attended this art walk several times over the last few years and always had a good time, even while toting Joe around in a baby carrier.

The Brewery contains and eclectic collection of artists from the deepest grunge to commercial photographers. The lofts themselves are as entertaining to see as the art inside.

Check it out. You won't be disappointed!

From the web site...

"Next ArtWalk:

April 20 and 21, 2002 11am to 6pm Resident artists of the Brewery complex, and invited guest exhibitors throw open the doors of their studios to the public at this biannual arts event. The event is free of charge.

Space News Rare Planetary Traffic Jam Above

Look! Up in the sky! Even in Los Angles! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's a....planet?

Several planets, actually. An amazing alignment of planets is happening over our heads right now and should be visible, even here in light-polluted Los Angeles.

From Cosmiverse.com...

"Comet Hale-Bopp dazzled us for weeks. The Perseid meteor shower thrilled us for one night. But the world hasn't seen anything like the planetary traffic jam that's going to occur the last week of April and the first two weeks in May!"

Wednesday, April 03, 2002

MPR's The Splendid Table

While were on the subject of food shows, here is another one of my favorites, but this one is on the radio. The Splendid Table is hosted by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and includes a collection of stories and a variety of food topics. You can tune in live on your local public radio station or listen to the show (like I do) via the web.

The current episode includes a segement on where Chefs eat on their night off, the "vanilla ecstasy experience at Kopp's Custard," and how to find the perfect country ham.

Good Eats with Alton Brown Fan Page

You find all manner of odd things when you surf both web and television. Good Eats, a show that combines cooking, food science and fun is one of my television favorites. Forget West Wing or ER, I make a point to sit down and watch Alton cook up all sorts of fine food.

Brown's quirky style and playfulness really help to set the show above some other cooking fare. Recipes are given in full and great pains are taken to insure that you understand everything so you can replicate the food in your own kitchen.

Tuesday, April 02, 2002

US Gasoline Price Watch

I was just thinking the other day that, as gas prices continue to rise, it would be great to have a web site that listed all the current gasoline prices for your area. I played around with a very simple database but a quick Google search turned up someone who has already put together an excellent site. You can even join up and be a price spotter for your area. If enough people updated the prices this information could be quite useful.

From the web site

"GasPriceWatch's US gasoline feature is the voice of consumers when it comes to American gasoline prices. We monitor gas prices across the country so you can get the best deal in your area. Search our database to find the lowest gas prices in your area. Prices are updated frequently by users like you. All Regular prices are per gallon in US dollars."


This site is one of the highlights of my day. Each morning a new word arrives in my Inbox, complete with pronunciation guide, definitions and usage examples. Each week's words are developed around a common theme so you learn words that you might never have come across in your daily life. Painless improvement of your vocabulary, one word at a time. Who could ask for anything more?

From the A-Word-A-Day web site...

"The music and magic of words -- that's what A.Word.A.Day (AWAD) is about.

We are a community of more than 500,000 linguaphiles in 210 countries. You too can subscribe.

Come, explore the world of words, share it with other wordlovers, and delight in the joy of words."

The Happy Fun Don't Buy Compaq Page

"The moral of this story is: if you feel like buying a Compaq notebook computer, go out and buy yourself a lump of clay SHAPED like a notebook computer. You'll get about as much use from the one as from the other?actually, now that I think of it, you can make the lump of clay into an attractive ashtray that you can give your Dad on Father's Day, which is more than I can say for the notebook computer.

I don't often offer bad reviews on anything -- books, computers, software -- but sometimes things are so bad that people feel they need to let others know. In that light I offer this link.

Mitch Wagner had such a bad experience with Compaq that he decided to share his experience on the web. Other readers are starting to chime in with their own horror stories as well.

Read the page for yourself and see what you think.

from WebSanDiego mailing list.

State (CA) Signals Intent to Regulate DSL

"A California Public Utilities Commission judge ruled late last week that the agency has the authority to weigh in on a range of issues involving the Internet access technology known as digital subscriber line service, or DSL, including the quality of service provided, how it is marketed and a provider's DSL business practices."

Way too long in coming, it is good to see someone paying attention to how important DSL and other broadband connections are becoming. It might be too much to wish, but hopefully this will forestall another Northpoint DSL disaster such as we experienced last year when the bankruptcy of one provider knocked many businesses off the net with no notice at all.

Via latimes.com

Monday, April 01, 2002

The Difference Engine: Charles Babbage and the Quest to Build the First Computer by Doron Swade, Viking, 2000

Working my way through this book at the moment. I knew a little about Babbage and the Difference Engine, but now I am getting the full story from beginning to end.

Quite a story, filled with the typical intrigues, financial problems and ultimate failure to complete the Engine.( I don't think I am giving away the ending since most tech folks know about this subject.) The first working Engine was completed in 1991 by the Science Museum, London.

Network Solutions Horror Stories

It seems Network Solutions is sending out notices to renew your domain names, even if you registered the name with a different registrar. Filling out the invoice and signing it actually ends up transferring the domain BACK to Network Solutions.

Look for the red highlighted text near the top of the linked page for the full info.

HandyShopper for Palm OS is a extremely neat and useful way to organize any sort of list you might need. It was originally designed for keeping grocery lists but has grown far beyond that.

I use it to create reusable checklists for software installations and configurations, packing lists for trips both large and small and, of course, groceries.

Handyshopper even has its own mailing list (over 2000 members) where you can discuss new ways to use the program with other, like-minded people.

Information via Versiontracker.com.

Hubble Resolves Expiration Date For Green Cheese Moon

Well, we all knew this to be true, didn't we?

MPR's The Writer's Almanac

Garrison Keillor gives a daily reading of happenings on this date in history and a poem. Where else can you go in America to hear someone read a poem everyday on nationwide radio.

I can never seem to catch this 5 minute piece on my local NPR station so I end up listening (and reading) the daily episodes (and archives) from the web.

Digital Sundials

Call me a geek...are you finished? These things are one of the coolest items I have come across lately. They are small AND expensive, but I love the combination of an ancient process with today's highest tech. Get yours today! (and give it to me!)

If you've ever wondered how Google.com performs its search engine magic, this is the place to find out.

From Google.com...

"Building upon the breakthrough work of B. F. Skinner, Page and Brin reasoned that low cost pigeon clusters (PCs) could be used to compute the relative value of web pages faster than human editors or machine-based algorithms. And while Google has dozens of engineers working to improve every aspect of our service on a daily basis, PigeonRank continues to provide the basis for all of our web search tools."

Sunday, March 31, 2002

I brought 2 bottles of Fetzer Vineyards 2001 Echo Ridge Gewurztraminer ($4.99) to Easter luncheon and it disappeared so fast I only got about 1 glass. Everyone agreed that it was sweet, but complex and combined well with the the typical Honeybaked ham, green bean cassarole, scallopped potatoes and deviled eggs.

It feels so good when you can share something nice with those you love. A good bottle of wine can add so much to any meal, not just on a holiday. We sat around for hours today, even longer than usual chatting about nearly every topic under the sun.

See entry below on March 29, 2002 for a more detailed comments on this wine.

Palm Desktop 4.0 for OS X Not ready for Primetime

By all accounts Palm Desktop for OS X is not yet ready for primetime. I have done one installation, upgrading a previous BETA Handspring user to the new verison, with no ill effects (as far as I know), but the link above references several problems with the new software.

Handspring, maker of the Visor and Treo, has listed the following advisory, although it is buried pretty deep within the support pages.

"The new release from Palm: don't use it Palm, Inc. recently released Palm Desktop 4.0 for Macintosh, which synchronizes under Macintosh OS X. This software has not yet passed the tests for use with Handspring products, and therefore Handspring does not support Palm's version of the software. When the Handspring-compatible version of Palm Desktop 4.0 for Macintosh is ready, we will make it available on our downloads page.

So which Palm Desktop version do I use? Please continue to use the approved and supported Palm Desktop 2.6.1with Handspring handhelds until we release the Handspring version of the new Palm Desktop software. "

Even after the various problems are solved you will still need to wait for each conduit manufacturer, i.e. Landware PocketQuicken, PowerOnSoftware's Now Up-to-date/Contact (the one I am specifically waiting for), Entourage for Macintosh, etc., to update their conduits to work with the new software.

It looks like we still have a long wait before Palm OS and OS X get back on speaking terms.