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Saturday, May 04, 2002

GoogleGazing, a Cultural Cross-section with the help of digital cameras

An interesting social experiment struck me today when I noticed that someone had been referred to my web site after searching on "DCP_0747.jpg." As some of you might recognize, this a is standard filename spit out by many Kodak digital cameras. In fact, you can replace the number with anything from 0001-9999. Other digital cameras use similar serial number schemes when storing their photos.

I then realized that, using Google's Image search, it would be possible to view a collection of these photos for each number. Using this rather random method, you can get a small cross-section of Internet culture. I call it a GoogleGazing.

The more adventurous among you could turn off Google's SafeSearch feature.

Here are a few Google links to get you started...

DCP_0747 | DCP_1234 | DCP_4321

LAPD Information Available Online

If you live in the City of Los Angeles, you can find out what is happening with the LAPD in your neighborhood. The most useful information I found were small newsletters dealing with police activity in each Basic Car area.

For example, I live in Basic Car Area 9A59. Looking at the newsletter, it seems that car break-ins and car theft are some of our biggest problems. They area is also looking to start a Neighborhood Watch in our area.

If you don't live in the LA proper, you might find these links useful.

LA Sheriff's Department

California Highway Patrol

Friday, May 03, 2002

Topanga Canyon Wildflower Pictures

A gentle reminder to go visit nature this weekend.

Click for larger images

This photos were taken on a Geocaching hike in Topanga Canyon, California on March 16, 2002.


Career-Op: On the inside
by Douglas E. Welch, ComputorEdge Magazine

Working as an independent consultant for small companies has many benefits. The work is varied and you get to deal with a large variety of people. One downside, though, is that the company may not have anyone on their staff that can monitor and manage systems between your visits. This can often lead to confusion and crises when systems don't work as planned. If you want to keep your client relationships on a good footing you need to have someone on the inside who can be your eyes and ears, even when you are far away.

Security hole found in Macromedia's Flash

If you regularly access sites that use Macromedia Flash on Windows, you will want to download a new player as soon as possible. It seems there is a flaw that can allow hackers access to your files. Full information is available in the article.

From the story...

A SECURITY HOLE in the way Macromedia's Flash player handles ActiveX content could allow an attacker to run the code of their choice on vulnerable systems, according to a security advisory published by eEye Digital Security late Thursday. Macromedia is offering a new download of the player which fixes the flaw.

Via Infoworld

Small bugs can lead to large disasters

Thank goodness most of the computer bugs we face never will never have the disastrous consequences ofthose detailed here. It seems that computer errors (more correctly, human errors in telling the computer what to do) have lead to the explosion of rockets, the disabling of warships, the failure of telephone service, the loss of space exploration vehicles and even the near failure of London's Millennium Bridge.

This site brings home the necessity of heavily testing any computer file you design, whether it is a program, an Excel file with calculations or the simplest database. It seems that the old joke is still true, "To err is human, but to really foul things up requires a computer!"

Thursday, May 02, 2002

A Tornado's Path

This satellite photo demonstrates the awesome power of a F5 tornado. The path of the twister can be clearly seen, even from this great distance. I have been near tornados in my Ohio childhood, but I can't imagine the feeling you must have seeing something this large headed for you.

Via Fark

Wednesday, May 01, 2002

The Art of Innovation : Lessons in Creativity from Ideo, America's Leading Design Firm

cover An excellent insight on how one company practices innovation in attacking all sorts of business-related problems. IDEO, the focus of the book, was involved in creating the Palm V, the original Apple Mouse and hundreds of other products. Here they share their philosophy of innovation and help you apply it, no matter what your work.

Mac-to-Mac file transfer using Firewire

Using only a Firewire cable you can connect Macs together to allow you to copy files from one computer to another. Firewire target disk mode is much like the old system that allowed you to connect a Powerbook to a desktop Mac using the SCSI port. It is nice to see something this useful being upgraded to use the latest and greatest technologies. This technique can be very useful in those situations when they Macs aren't connected to a network. This Apple tech note tells you exactly how to do it and which Macs can do it.

Via Macintouch

Tuesday, April 30, 2002

LAX Flight Tracker System

Ever wanted to know who owns that plane that just went screaming over your head and rattled your windows? Just want to be amazed at all the air traffic that crosses over the LA Basin? This is the place to answer all your questions. Flight info is delayed by 10 minutes for security reasons.

From the site...

"Welcome to Los Angeles World Airports LAX Internet Flight Tracking System, AirportMonitorâ?¢. This system allows you to watch the movement of flights and air traffic patterns within the greater Los Angeles region. If you are a first time user of this system, please take a few minutes to read the following information, which should assist you in understanding and utilizing the full capabilities of this site. "
Via Fark

ABC plans all-day 9/11 anniversary tribute

It seems that ABC is already planning to shelve its normal programming on 9/11/02 to dedicate itself totally to 9/11 anniversary coverage. Say what you will, but I, for one, will not be watching.

I have grown progressively more despairing of the American desire to wallow in disaster, constantly looking backwards to tragedy instead of forward to life. On 9/11, I will turn off the television, the radio, heck, even my computer, so I don't have to listen to the endless prattle of this or that expert trying to make sense of the attacks. It made no sense then and it will make no more sense 6 months from now.

Instead, I will take a walk in the mountains, ride my bike by the sea, read a book in my garden, hug my wife and child, anything but dwell on what happened. I will bask in the joy that I, and those I love, are alive and well. I will live life to the fullest, knowing that it is fragile and precious. I will mourn for those who are gone, but rejoice for those that are still alive.

I feel deeply for those who lost someone close to them on 9/11. We will never forget what happened, but we can only live life forwards. If you dwell too long on the past you are in great danger of missing the joy of the present. We don't need a parade of press, pundits and politicians to tell us what to feel. We already know in our hearts what to feel.

The best way to commemorate 9/11 is to live. Live your life to the fullest. Reach for your dreams and achieve them. Even more importantly, complete the work of those we have lost. Don't let their dreams die. Take on their burdens and carry them as far as you can. This, living your life, is the best possible revenge in a world turned upside down.

Don't wallow in death and destruction on 9/11/02, celebrate life.

Monday, April 29, 2002

Don't sent a resume ...and other contrarian rules to help you land a great job


This is the book about job hunting that I would have written myself, had not Fox beaten me to it. I highly recommend this book and have written about similar tactics in my Career Opportunities columns (http://www.welchwrite.com/dewelch/ce/) over the last 4 years.

The world of work has changed drastically over the last decade and this calls for new tactics in getting your first job or your next job.

According to Fox, it all comes down to selling yourself to your future employer. It matters little what you want out of job or a career. What matters most is how you fulfill the needs of the hiring company. Of course, you should be trying to fulfill your work need, but the person interviewing cares little or nothing about your needs and only about their own. A hard fact to face, perhaps, but an extremely important one.

Fox goes on to give hard examples of how to use letters, not a resume to gain an interview, how to prepare for that interview and how to do everything possible to get the job you want.

While I am sure that some human resource people and corporate management will take issue with some of Fox's advice, as they have with my columns about resumes. This is because Fox's tactics seem to make their job more difficult. HR staff can no longer winnow large amounts of resumes down to a select few quickly and easily. What they don't realize is that if all candidates used these tactics, hiring would be easier and the company would be hiring better people.

Highly Recommended

GeekSounds - Alarms for your Palm

Tired of those lame alarm sounds that come with your Palm handheld? Here are 20+ different sounds, including movie and television themes and an assortment of odd sounds.

Easy to install and easy to uninstall.

Highly recommended and FREE!

Via VersionTracker.com

Apple - eMac

It is good to see Apple working on its educational line again. The iMac, especially with an LCD screen, is an excellent choice for the classroom, although I would have preferred it in a flat panel design, instead of the old iMac body shape. My guess is that the old shape makes the computer a bit more resilient in the classroom environment, though.

From Apple.com...

Meet Apple's affordable new computer for education - complete with a 17-inch flat CRT display, a PowerPC G4 processor and a space-saving, all-in-one design that fits on school desks. Plus digital applications for learning, Mac OS X and Mac OS 9.

The Writing of Lydia Adamson

I happened across the mystery novels of Lydia Adamson at my local library a few years ago and immediately devoured everything at that local branch. I had thought about these books over the years, but just recently I decided to work through as many of the novels as I could find. Surprisingly, many of the books are only available from the Los Angeles Public Library as reference books, meaning they only have one copy and don't loan it out. So, I am stuck with reading only those books that I can easily get, although I am thinking of heading over to my local used book store, The Illiad, in North Hollywood, CA to see if I can pick up some of the older novels there.

Adamson's 2 main protagonists are Alice Nestleton, a New York actress who spends more time cat-sitting and sleuthing than acting and Dr, Deirdre "Didi" Nightingale, D.V.M., a vet who seems to stumble upon the oddest crimes in rural, upstate New York. Both series deeply use the animal knowledge of the main character to spice up the mystery in inventive ways. If you are a cat lover, you will love Alice and her deep knowledge of cats. Dr. Nightingale expands this interest to all animals, from elephants to pigs to dairy cows.

If you are looking for a quick, yet fun, mystery jaunt, the books of Lydia Adamson offer a veritable feast.

Sunday, April 28, 2002

Cycoactive - RAM GPS Mounts and accessories

As some of you know, I recently purchased a Global Positioning System receiver (a Garmin eTrex)for use in the Geocaching treasure hunt game.

I also have a lot of fun using the GPSr in the car whether we are traveling around town or on a big trip. I can set a variety of waypoints, build a route between them and then let the eTrex point the way. While my unit does not contain road maps, more expensive models do.

Along with the GPSr, we recently purchased bicycles again, after Joe began riding his two-wheeler so fast that we couldn't keep up on foot. Of course, this meant I wanted to use my GPSr on my bicycle to clock time, mileage and speed information. A quick search on Google turned up the perfect mount. Even better, the main parts of this mount are interchangable. I can place a mount on my bike and another in my car and easily move the GPS between them.

The mount is very solid, with little or no vibration even on the roughest streets. I can position the mount so that I can easily access all the buttons and read the display without disrupting my riding.

I was very happy with Cycoactive's web store and got my GPS mounts within a week. If you have a need to mount a GPS (or anything else, for that matter) in your car or on your bike, Cycoactive would be a good place to start.

From the site...

This is the most versatile mount available. It allows you to mount your GPS at any angle, (see gr3h above for example) and it's a quick-release too! Super secure hard rubber ball is guaranteed not to slip, and it provides some vibration isolation.

* part# greth
* vibration isolated handlebar mount for motorcycles
* mounts to 7/8" or 1" bar
* mounts at any angle
* cast aluminum assembly with tough plastic GPS cradle
* made in USA
* adaptable to many other applications

No more need for WWW.

This may only save you a couple of seconds each day, but it seems that most web designers have finally configured their Domain Name Servers (DNS) correctly. After a bit of informal testing, I have confirmed that, for most web pages, you no longer need to type "www." before a web address. i.e. you only need to type cnn.com instead of www.cnn.com.

The "www." was originally used to let Internet users know that they were talking with a world wide web server (www). It was really never required, but it quickly became a de factor standard among webmasters. For years, many machines were not configured to respond to the domain name alone (i.e. cnn.com) so that you were required to type in www in most cases.

One caveat, though. If you see an address that contains anything but "www" in front of the name (i.e. groups.yahoo.com), you still have to type in the entire name. The reason is that the first part of the name is literally the name (host name) of the web server you are trying to contact. Many companies, like Yahoo, are dividing up the services using different names. Hence, yahoo.com takes you to their search engine/subject index, while groups.yahoo.com will take you to their group mailing list service.

So, save a few keystrokes the next time you are surfing the web by skipping the "www.".

Webopedia: Online Dictionary for Computer and Internet Terms

Ever wonder what all those crazy Internet acronyms and terms mean? Here is the place to figure it out. Webopedia describes itself as "The only online dictionary and search engine you need for computer and Internet technology." I think I might just agree.

LA Times Festival of Books 2002

This large book fair has a little bit for everyone. This our 4th or 5th yearattending the festival and we always seem to have a good time. No where in LA will you find so many authors, in some many genres, chatting, selling and signing their work. There are many panels that take place over the 2 day event, but Rosanne and I have never attended them. There is so much to see at the free outdoor stages and walking among the many booths. Frankly, we don't want to be cramped in a stuffy lecture hall when the weather outside is so nice.

If you don't mind waiting in line, there are hundreds of opportunities to have authors sign their books. I saw many collectors wheeling luggage carts around, waiting to get their favorite author to books both new and old.

There is plenty for the kids to see and do, as well. The Children's Museum of LA had 2 large craft booths for making your own book and there were 2 stages for shows, including a Blue's Clues show and a group doing all your favorite Schoolhouse Rock songs. Melissa Joan Hart of Sabrina was also on hand to read Peter Rabbit. Dom Deluise and Christopher Nance, weatherman from NBC 4, were also signing their children's books nearby.