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Saturday, April 13, 2002

Instant messages aren't always fleeting

To most of you this is going to seem common sense. Like email and your web browsing, instant messages are susceptible to being captured and reviewed by your boss or anyone else who happens by your computer. Still, it bears repeating. This article from CNN.com provides some details about how you might be watched and why you should care.

I have written previously about keeping your business life separate from your work life before in my Career-Op column. Here are 3 columns on similar topics.

Friday, April 12, 2002

Career-Op: A Word on the Web
By Douglas E. Welch

Many of you probably have your own personal web site. You might even have developed a site about a specific topic that interests you. It might be a very popular site. If you are like other successful web site owners you might have wondered if there is a way to help defray some of the costs of running your web site or even turn it into something that could become the focus of your high-tech career. While earning a living doing what you love is a highly sought after goal, turning your web site into a commercial enterprise might not be the route to take.

Career-Op is a weekly column published by ComputorEdge in San Diego, California, Colorado Springs, Colorado and ComputerScene in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Welcome to NoHo Theatre & Arts Festival 2002- May 18 -19

The summer festivals start in earnest this month. Here is a "heads-up" on a good one coming in May. We used to go most years when we lived in NoHo. Lots of theater, arts & crafts, music and food. Wear a hat and bring lots of water, though!

Family Fun w/ the Children's Museum of LA

Sherman Oaks Fashion Square

April 19; 2-6pm

From the site...

"The Children's Museum of Los Angeles and Fashion Square would like you to join us in making Stamp Art. Children of all ages and their parents are invited to the mall's Center Court (lower level) for this free arts and crafts event. For more information on events and programs at the Children's Museum of Los Angeles, please log on to www.childrensmuseumla.org!
Joe and I have visited these craft days in the past and found them to be quite well organized and fun.

Roll the credits (Out the Door)

It seems that the Discovery Channel wants to eliminate credits at the end of their shows. They say that too many viewers are leaving as the credits roll, looking for entertainment elsewhere.

What goes unsaid in the article is what will fill this suddenly freed time. Does anyone really think that they will offer another 30 seconds/1 minute of show time? Don't kid yourself. They will fill this time with commercials. Now, I am not entirely naive about the television business. I understand that dropping credits will allow them to remove the breaks between the shows, starting one immediately after the other, as we have seen done on other networks. The added commercials will then be internal to the show, when the viewer already has and investment and will be less likely to leave. Unfortunately, this doesn't make it right, or even wise.

While I am all for businesses making money, doing so at the detriment of the people who produce their shows is wrong. Let us show a bit of respect for the hard work that goes into a production. Networks that continually exhibit a lack of respect for their show producers may just find themselves without any decent programming at all.

I hope that the producers for Discovery have enough respect for themselves and their workers to start imposing "credit guarantees" in their contracts. Television workers have the right to be credited for their work, on-screen, in readable type, every time. Consigning workers to anonymity to gain 1 more minute of ad time is unfair, greedy and just one more step in increasingly desperate moves by television networks.

Thursday, April 11, 2002

Should the penny go?

Are you tired of carrying around all those pennies, or filling your jars, ashtrays and dresser tops with them? There are factions on each side of this argument. Are you a penny-hater or would it bother you to see all prices rounded up to the nearest nickel. (Which, BTW, is made mostly of copper!)

From CNN Money

Which storybook character are you?

There are several "tests" like this out there on the Internet, but this one struck me a a kinder, gentler version. After seeing "Into the Woods" a few months ago I was intriqued to see what storybook character I would turn out to be.

Just call me Le Petit Prince!

Wednesday, April 10, 2002

The Whole Earth Festival 2002!

Saturday, April 20th and Sunday, April 21st, 2002!
11:00 am - 6:00 pm both days
Lake Balboa, 6300 Balboa Boulevard, Van Nuys,
1 mile North of the Ventura Freeway, 1 mile west of the San Diego Freeway.

Looks like a new Earth Day festival is coming to the area. Lots of special guests (see web page).

Lake Balboa is a very pretty park but a bit warm in the summer. It is also usually very busy on the weekends so this event will make it even busier. I would recommend parking somewhere else in the park and using the bike path to get to the lake. There is usually extra parking off of Woodley Avenue, by the driving range.


Our friend, Jo Ann, adds the following first person info on last years event...

We went to this last year (heard guest speakers actor Woody Harrelson and author John Robbins "Diet For a New America" - both very informative about ecology and nutrition) and tasted the various veggie treats and explored the newfangled eco-inventions ... had a great time.

As with any outing, wear your hat, and your SPF 15, and maybe have a bottle of water with you. We know some of the musicians coming to play and they're awesome. The kids will enjoy Peter Alsop at the Kids' Tent on Sun. 11:45am. Highly recommended!

Los Angeles Zoo - Earth Day -- Join the Los Angeles Zoo and radio station K-EARTH 101 for a very special Earth Day celebration that promises awareness, education, and entertainment for the whole family.

The two-day Earth Day Expo takes place Saturday and Sunday, April 20-21, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at various locations throughout the Zoo. More than 30 organizations will have booths dispensing information and fun craft projects, and all activities are free with paid Zoo admission.

My-Cast -- Neighborhood-level Weather Forecasting

My-Cast allows me to get specific weather reports, radar and alerts for our walking tours in Palm Springs. It also keeps track of one of our favorite stop-overs in Idyllwild.

My favorite feature are the animated radar graphics with your location clearly marked. No you can make an intelligent guess if that storm is going to soak you or just dust you with drizzle.

From the site...

"The My-Cast Difference My-Cast calculates weather forecasts eight times daily in four-mile sections across most metropolitan areas. Eleven-mile sections cover the rest of the U.S. By comparison, National Weather Service Forecasts update four times a day across 20-mile sections.

We offer weather forecasts precisely for your locations. Check back often for updates on how the weather will affect your plans and favorite outdoor activities.

My-Cast is available via the Web and personalized email updates."

Tuesday, April 09, 2002

TIME Tech: 50 Best Websites

As if you didn't spend enough time at the keyboard, here is Time Magazine's list of the TOP 50 web sites. Of course, any list such as this is obsolete the minute it is posted, so the site is also asking for your favorite sites that everyone should know about.

Warning: Lost productivity ahead

Via Fark.com

Gardening links from afar

I was checking my web referer logs today and came across this interesting site that was linking to a gardening column I wrote back in September 2000 on Guerrilla Gardening.

I love knowing the people around the world get a chance to read my writing, even if they speak a different language. You might be able to read the article in English here or, if that link doesn't work, you can visit the Babelfish translation engine at Altavista directly.

Court Overturns Book Store Order

Are bookstores like libraries? Possibly, now that this ruling has been issued. The Tattered Cover Bookstore is not required to turn over sales records to police who are trying to tie a suspect to drug-related books. Interesting ruling regardless of your opinion on the issue.

From Findlaw.com...

"DENVER (AP) - The Colorado Supreme Court refused to order a bookstore to turn over its sales records to police on Monday, overturning a lower court decision demanding the records as part of a drug investigation."

Monday, April 08, 2002

Spring is here and the roses are in bloom

"Bewitched" roses (named after the television show) line our front walk.

Click picture for full-size image. (~1 MB)

Technology as magic

Just when I think I am impressed with the state of today's technology I come across a link like this. This site contains several recordings produced my Thomas Edison between the years 1919 and 1926.

The quality of these recording, un-enhanced, is quite amazing. It must have seemed truly magical to the people of that era.

All files are available in either MP3 or RealPlayer format.

Via Metafilter

Cottages by the Sea, The Handmade Homes of Carmel, America's First Artist Community

Whether you have ever visited Carmel or not, this book is a wonderful introduction into its architectural and historical treasures or a way of bringing a bit of Carmel home with you. The wonderful pictures provide and overview of the vernacular architecture that gives Carmel its character. The text also provides some history of the town so you might better understand how the architecture grew out of the early townspeople rather than being dictated by some large developer.

More information on Carmel is available at:

Carmel By-The-Sea - Official City Website

Carmel Resource Guide

Google search on Carmel California

Sunday, April 07, 2002

Card Trick Central: #1 Site for Card Tricks, Card Tricks, and more Card Tricks

The name says it all. Ever wanted to amaze friends with your magical prowess? This is the place to get started. Clear directions and a little patter (that's magician lingo for talking) get you started. All it takes is a little practice and a little nerve.

Coffee Anyone?

This is to be the first in an irregular series on my favorite coffee places. While I must commend Starbucks for creating a corporate business out of what had been a very local phenomenon, I now make a point to search out local coffee businesses to patronize.

There are several reasons for this:

  • The overall quality of Starbucks stores has dropped significantly over the past year, becoming more like the "McDonald's" of coffee than the trendsetter it once was.

  • While the use of super-automatic espresso machines helps to set a certain level of quality throughout the chain, it removes any chance for a particular store to shine if they find the proper barrista talent.

  • Local coffee establishments, especially those that roast their own beans, can deliver a level of "freshness" in their coffee that Starbucks cannot possibly match. As I have learned over the past several months, fresh roasted coffee is a world apart from anything you will find in the grocery store. Even I was skeptical about just how different the quality could be, but one purchase at my local coffee roaster made the difference crystal clear.

  • Local stores, with small staffs, are more likely to get to to know you, and you them. This adds another dimension to your experience at any retail establishment. You begin to relate more closely to the staff and the other customers, creating a small community were you can feel very comfortable.

  • Finally, I love helping a local business thrive. It is such a pleasure to see someone who loves what they are doing succeed.
With that out of the way, let me tell you about the first coffee store I would recommend to anyone who asks.

The Coffee Roaster, Sherman Oaks, CA
13567 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
(818) 905-9719

Even though this store is less than 2 miles from my house and I have driven past it probably hundreds of times over the years, I had never stopped in. Finally, in response to a posting on the alt.coffee Usenet newsgroup, I checked it out.

The place was as anti-Starbucks as any place you might imagine. First and foremost, the coffee roaster has a prominent place, front and center, as you walk in the door. It is surrounded by bags and boxes of green coffee, awaiting roasting and roasted batches waiting to be shipped or sold in the store itself.

I happened to arrive at precisely the right time this day, as the owner was just starting to roast a batch. I had recently read about the intricacies of coffee roasting and was treated to a hands on primer. My son, Joe (4), and I watched the beans flow past the glass window, got to check the progress of the roast with a little scoop, listened to the first and second crack of the beans (it sounds like popcorn) and watched as the beans were dumped in the cooling tray with a whoosh.

This isn't really a place to come and hang out. The coffee bar is small, but functional, seating about 2 people. There are only 2 tables, once inside and one out. Even so, you will find people there throughout the day. The staff is friendly and efficient, equally adept at making a great Latte or bagging and ringing up your whole bean coffee purchase.

In fact, you should make sure you never leave The Coffee Roaster without something for your home machine. You will think that you have purchased a new (and more expensive) coffee maker. I was getting rather blase about my morning coffee, but once I tried these fresh roasted beans I became slightly obsessed. I started reading more and more about coffee, watching how it was made in the various stores I frequented, thinking about the taste like you would a nice glass of wine. My favorites are Milano, a custom blend that is used to make espresso in the store and Half and Half, which is also available in Decaf. Both make great espresso or drip coffee, whichever you prefer.

If you enjoy coffee at all, I highly recommend you check out The Coffee Roaster the next time you are in the neighborhood. You won't be disappointed. Heck, I may even join you!