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Sunday, March 30, 2003

Events



Fillmore Railfest 2003





We always head up to Fillmore, CA this time of year for the Railfest. It is a small festival, but quite entertaining. There are excursions trains, a steam engine you can drive (for a fee), live steamer model trains, gunfighters, food and more.


We had friends in town from Ohio, but thought they would like a touch of California small town life. They enjoyed themselves a lot. One highlight on the way home was a stop at the farm produce stands. They luxuriated in the fresh oranges and more, especially considering that Ohio was stall in the depths of Winter when they left.


Click on the link or photo above for a small gallery of pictures from our day.

Friday, March 28, 2003



Career Column



Career-Op: Little Things Mean A Lot


by Douglas E. Welch, ComputorEdge Magazine


You might not think you would learn something about high-tech at the local Chuck E. Cheese franchise, but this is exactly what occurred the other day. Due to some technical difficulties at this particular branch, I was reminded of a basic truism of technology ?? little things mean a lot.


Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Web



Photographic Improvement


I am always looking for ways to improve my photography and
Dawn Mikulich over at A Life Uncommon has a treasure trove in a recent posting to her blog.


She points to hints on self assignments, Portrait tips and shooting great photos of bad weather.

Monday, March 24, 2003



Web


Women of Our Time


Twentieth-Century Photographs from National Portrait Gallery



I believe that providing long-distance access to their collections is one of the most important roles of the Smithsonian Institution today. Not everyone can visit Washington, DC to visit all the wonderful museums located there. While online galleries are certainly a lesser experience, they allow nearly anyone to delve into the exhibits and artifacts held within. More amazing collections are available the the Library of Congress's American Memory Web Site.


The gallery is a collection of women's portraits along with brief biographies and some history of the photo itself. The photos run the gamut from Shirley Temple to Rosa Parks.


This site requires Flash and works best on broadband connections (Cable/DSL).

Sunday, March 23, 2003

Books




cover



Wind: How the flow of air has shaped life, myth and the land
by Jan DeBlieu


I came across this book while reading
Writing a Book That Makes a Difference
. It sounded so interesting that I had to request it from the library. I have not been disappointed, either. I love books that deal with science in an interesting fashion and am already a hundred pages into the book.

Friday, March 21, 2003



Career Column



Career-Op: Making Magic


by Douglas E. Welch, ComputorEdge Magazine


An important part of any high-tech career the ability to answer any technical question as quickly as possible. Of course, as you know, it is impossible to keep the million different solutions to a million different problems in your head at the same time. This is why it is so important to make use of the tools you have. In fact, your own knowledge, combined with that of your high-tech friends and various Internet tools, can sometimes make your level of technical expertise seem almost magical.



Computers/Windows


Spybot 1.2 Update for Windows PCs


This is the latest update of Spybot from PepiMK Software. Spybot is a good addition for standard anti-virus software, as it checks for other exploits and issues that could make your Windows-based PC open for attack from the outside.


Version 1.2 appears to be a significant update with a slightly new interface and it checks for hundreds more issues than the previous version.

Sunday, March 16, 2003

Computers/Virus

Fake MS Security Update

I received an email today with the text quoted below.

This is NOT a valid update from Microsoft, but a WORM (W32.Gibe) that will infect your machine and attempt to email itself to everyone in your address book.

If you receive an email like this, simply delete it. You cannot be infected as long as you do not run the email attachments.

Microsoft never emails updates nor includes attachments in the promotional emails.

You may or may not see an email like this, but it appears to be making the rounds again, so update your anti-virus programs (or install them if you don't have one) and be "on the lookout".

For further information, visit:

http://securityresponse.symantec.com/avcenter/venc/data/w32.gibe@mm.html

WORM EMAIL TEXT

"this is the latest version of security update, the "March 2003, Cumulative Patch" update which eliminates all known security vulnerabilities affecting Internet Explorer, Outlook and Outlook Express as well as five newly discovered vulnerabilities. Install now to protect your computer from these vulnerabilities, the most serious of which could allow an attacker to run executable on your system. This update includes the functionality of all previously released patches."



Events/Photos


Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve




Some weekends you just need to "get the heck out of Dodge", so today we did just that. We headed North on the 405 to the 14 and off to the Antelope Valley. After yesterday's rain the sky was crisp and clear, yet the temperature was just right. It took us about an hour to reach the Reserve, which is located about 13 miles west of Lancaster. Joe and I had visited the reserve a few years ago, but Rosanne had not. That year the poppy bloom (and other wildflowers) was very low, due to a lack of rain. The recent precipitation we have had this year, though, has helped the bloom along. The poppy blooms aren't as prolific as the major bloom a few years ago, but there is still plenty to see. Along with the state flower, there are Coreopsis, lupine and a host of others.


The reserve is always a blustery place to be and today was no exception. The wind was blowing quite strongly but it wasn't too cold, thank goodness. We all returned from our 1.5 mile hike around the visitor's center looking like we had been in a wind tunnel. The winds can leave the poppies looking quite battered and also causes them to remain tightly furled. Even so, we found many a sheltered area along the path where the poppies were totally open in the warming sunshine.


Towards the end of our walk, Joe met a very nice 5-year-old girl, named Lena, and they spent the time racing down the path ahead of the grownups. They also wandered through the small visitor's center, enjoying the diorama of the native fauna and Photo CD player showing examples of all the flowers that can be found in the park. Joe was having quite a good time and after we said our goodbye's and were driving down the entrance road he said he would like to have Lena over for a play date. Rosanne explained how we hadn't gotten the family's phone number, but Joe quickly decided that he would simply call every number in the phone book until he found them. Then it was off to lunch.


Admission to the Poppy Reserve is $4/vehicle.


Visitor's Center Open


Weekends 9-5

Weekdays 9-4


You can visit these links to more information about the park. Clicking on the title link above, or the photo, will take you to a gallery of photos.


Antelope Valley California Poppy Preserve Web Site


Antelope Valley Poppy Page






Crazy Otto's Diner


Every good road trip deserves a hearty lunch and whenever we are out "adventuring", we like to try out the local establishments. Passing an IHOP and a Denny's we came across Crazy Otto's. Then it got weird!


The hostess led us to our table and we settled in. As Rosanne and I started looking through our menus, Joe suddenly said, " Hi, friend." Sure enough, at the very next table was the family we met earlier at the Poppy Reserve. They had sought out a local place to eat and we just happened to meet up again. After such a fortuitous meeting we accepted fate, chatted a bit while the kids played and exchanged business cards. You have to figure that life is trying to tell you something with a coincidence this big!


The restaurant had all the charm expected in a local eatery and the wait staff was First Class. The portions are HUGE! I ordered a breakfast (Otto's was voted best breakfast in the Valley 11 years running) and it came on a platter. Sausage patty the size of a dinner plate, hash browns, 2 eggs, and biscuits and gravy. I ended up having the leftovers for dinner. If you can drag yourself out of bed earlier than I can, I would recommend hitting Otto's for breakfast before visiting the Reserve. This should fortify anyone for the 1-3 mile hikes you can try at the park.


Crazy Otto's is a mile or so East of 14 Freeway at the same exit (Avenue I) that you use to visit the Poppy Reserve -- and old-fashioned enough not to have a website.


CRAZY OTTO'S DINER

1228 W AVENUE I, LANCASTER, CA

(661) 940-9177






Antelope Valley Indian Museum



Since we were in the neighborhood (loosely speaking), we decided to hit another attraction I have been meaning to visit for years, The Antelope Valley Indian Museum. The museum had originally been a family home in the late 20's. The owner, H. Arden Edwards, was fascinated with all things Native American and amassed an amazing collection of artifacts on all facets of Indian life. The home is built directly on top of the natural boulders on the site and the rocks protrude into the house and make up large portions of the walls and floors. Edwards later built the California Room, carving a staircase directly out of the boulders, to store and show his growing collections.


A new owner, Grace Wilcox Oliver, arrived in the 30's and added her own large collection to that built by Edwards. She turned the home into a full-time museum and offered tours. Finally, in 1978, the property and the entire collection was deeded to the California State Park Service and was opened to the public again in 1982.


The museum also has a "touch room", where kids can try their hands at grinding corn and using native tools, a picnic area and a nature trail to round out your visit. We only had about an hour and fifteen minutes to see the museum, but that provided us a good overview. Allow 2-3 hours if you want to fully explore all the displays and have a picnic lunch.


Click on the picture to visit a small gallery of images from our visit.


Open to the public on weekends


The Antelope Valley Indian Museum is open on weekends from 11am to 4pm from the middle of September through the middle of June.

The museum is closed through the summer months.

The museum fee is $2.00 for adults and children 16 and under are FREE.

See Web Site for directions.


GPS Route


For those among you who really want to "geek out," here is a picture (WARNING -- 700K+) showing today's route laid over satellite images.





We had a great time on today's trip and highly recommend you visit the Antelope Valley before the summer heat gets here. It can be quite refreshing to get out of the "big city" for a while and enjoy the wide, open spaces that are only an hour or so away.

Saturday, March 15, 2003




Rainy Days


Rainy days, like today, are sometimes difficult. We are all so "go-go-go" in our daily lives, but today we had no need to go anywhere or do anything, and so we didn't. It actually took an effort to just stay home and just enjoy the sounds of the rain on the roof. I watched the squirrels raid the bird feeds, shaking the rain off their fur, and tried to take photos of the little birds that always take shelter under the patio during the heaviest rain. The next time it rains, take it as a sign. If you don't have to go anywhere, don't. Brew a pot of coffee or tea, grab a good book and put up your feet for a few hours. Now matter how busy you are, everyone needs some time to recharge their batteries.


I spent most of the day watching cartoons and playing with Joe and catching up on some reading, both books and online. We even took some time to set up our tent in the office. I was mainly doing it to check things out and make sure it was still usable. We haven't been camping since Joe was born, but now that he is 5 he seems to be interested in trying it out. He got a kick out of setting up the Thermorest pads and sleeping bags. I think as soon as the weather warms up a bit we will try and do our first overnight trip.


I even had time to make a real dinner this evening. I pulled out one of my favorite recipes from Mario Batali, a sausage ragu. I used penne instead of the gramigne called for in the recipe, but any short pasta seems to work well.



Computers/Macintosh


JPluck brings the web back to your Palm for Mac OS X users


When AvantGo first came out, a few years ago, I used it regularly to load various web pages directly into my Handspring Visor so I could read them while waiting in line at the Post Office, sitting in a Starbucks or a variety of other places. AvantGo never developed a version of their software for OS X, though., so I have been going without this feature for quite a long time.


Plucker is a free replacement for AvantGo, but it required a lot of fiddling to get it to work and used the Mac OS Terminal application, not exactly a good fit for our average user. Today, thought I happened across JPlucker, a Java application that runs on your Mac and uses a full GUI to easily let you select, download and convert web pages and then HotSync them to your Palm OS-based handheld.


The JPlucker setup can be a bit tricky, but if you decide you want to try it out, drop me a line and I can get you going.


Friday, March 14, 2003



Career Column



Career-Op: Out of Focus


by Douglas E. Welch, ComputorEdge Magazine


Among everything else I do, I am also an amateur artist. As is often the case, something you learn in one area can often be useful in other aspects of your life. One useful technique I have learned from my art is squinting. When you are first looking at a scene you want to draw or paint, you purposely unfocus your vision in order to get an overall impression of the light and dark areas. Sometimes in order to see things more clearly, you have to get the big picture first.


Thursday, March 13, 2003

Events



Cherry Blossoms at Lake Balboa




After reading some recent wildflower reports from the Poppy Reserve, I decided to postpone our trip to sometime later in the month. This gave Joe and I a chance to check out the cherry blossoms at Lake Balboa Park in Encino.


The trees are blooming, but they are not a their peak, yet. Still, they are quite beautiful and offer many opportunities for photos. When the bloom is at its height, though, it is like there is a great pink cloud floating over the lake.


The best surprise today was the large wisteria which are growing on trellises around the lake. Several were totally covered in white and purple flower spikes.


The lake was quite busy today, almost like a Saturday or Sunday. I spotted at least 3 painters and a television show was also filming today.


Try to visit the lake over the next few weeks. The bloom should increase dramatically. You can tell the end is approaching when leaves begin to emerge.


Lake Balboa


(818) 756-9743


Balboa Boulevard, south of Victory Blvd., Encino


Encino 26 acre lake. Rent a paddle boat to explore the beautiful lake or spend the day fishing from the shore... the lake is stocked regularly by the Department of Fish and Game.

Monday, March 10, 2003

Web



Museum of Musical Instruments


My friend, Jo Ann, forwarded information on this neat virtual museum. Learn about the history of musical instruments and the people that have played them.


Computers/Macintosh


Apple Updates Java for Mac OS XApple Updates Java for Mac OS X


I am hoping that this update significantly speeds Java programs. Even the simplest Java applications run very slow under Mac OS and it dimishes the quality of your web browsing experience.


From Apple.com...


Apple takes Java to the next level with the latest, certified release of the Java 2 Platform, Standard Edition, version 1.4.1 for Mac OS X. This release delivers hundreds of new features, performance improvements and unique benefits by tightly integrating Java even more closely with key technologies of Mac OS X. Still the only high-volume desktop operating system to ship with Java 2, Mac OS X is emerging as the best place to develop and deploy your applications.

Friday, March 07, 2003

Computer/Macintosh




Mac OS X Printers Disappearing



I ran into a odd problem setting up Mac OS X printers on Wednesday. The user's printers had suddenly disappeared from their Print Center.


Luckily, this was a known issue and is addressed buy this tech note, "Error 1282 When adding printer in the Print Center.


The fix requires using the Terminal program to rectify it, but the directions are clear and should be within the skills of any Mac OS X user.



Career Column



Career-Op: When your Sixty-Four?


by Douglas E. Welch, ComputorEdge Magazine


Having just celebrated my 39th birthday (really, not like Jack Benny), I find myself looking at the world, and my high-tech career, a little differently every day. Little by little, I have realized that no matter how much I love my work, I probably don't want to be toting computers and climbing under desks when I am in my 50's. From now on, any evaluation of my career will involve thinking of what I need to do in the next 10 years to make sure that I am not trying to have the career of a 30-year-old when I am 60. Maybe you are only in your 20's or 30's today, but you would be wise to consider, even in the smallest way, where you might want to be in 20 years.


Tuesday, March 04, 2003

Technology



With RFID,
TAG! You're It!


by: Mitch Krayton


My friend, Mitch, has a interesting article on radio frequency identification tags that are being included in more and more products these days.


From the article...


It's been a quarter of a century, but radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, which are inexpensive, portable objects, are making their way into fresh interactive kiosks projects.


What is RFID?


Beginning in the 1980's, tags with an antenna were used for livestock identification and automated vehicle identification. Better than bar code, tags can track moving objects in groups using radio signals. RFID allows for non-contact reading and writing of tags in environments too severe for typical bar code labels. RFID's radio signals can penetrate snow, fog, ice, paint, ink and dirt where optical technologies can't possibly work.

Monday, March 03, 2003


Computers


Laptop Accessories


I have been installing a lot of laptops recently, mainly Apple Powerbook G4 units. Because of this, I have been giving recommendations to the new owners on the care and feeding of their new babies. For most of them, this is the first laptop they have ever owned.


Whether you are the proud owner of a flashy new Powerbook, or toting around a 4-year-old Dell laptop, you are well advised to seek out a few accessories to keep your computer around for a long time.


Security


One of the most important devices you can get for your laptop is decidingly low-tech. If you use your laptop in public areas, Iike cafes and libraries, a security cable, like these from Kensington, are very important. The lock fits into a security connector provided on most laptops. The cable can then be looped around a table leg or other heavy object. While these cables won't stop a determined crook they can prevent your computer from "growing legs" while you pick up your coffee at the counter.


For more agressive protection, you could invest in a laptop alarms. Although, as with any alarm, there is a good chance you will set it off accidently.


Cases and protectors


If you carry your laptop from office to office or just from room to room, you should have a good case to protect it. This might include computer proctectors like these, which are designed to stay on the laptop at all times. These are good choices for laptops that move from table to couch to desk on a regular basis.


Some specialized protectors are designed to address specific problems, such as preventing Apple Powerbook keyboards from making permanant marks on the LCD screen. Another version can be found here.


You should also have a fully-padded carrying case for travelling via plane, train or automobile. Try to get a case that is well-padded and has plenty of space for cables, disks, etc. You might also consider a case designed specifically for your brand of laptop.


Handhelds


PDA's like those from Palm and Sony, need protection from the minute you take them out of the box. Every handheld computer will be dropped, it is only a matter of time. Don't wait for the costy repair of a shattered screen to drive the point home.


Save yourself the headaches of a lost or damaged laptop. Invest a few dollars now to save a few thousand down the road.

Computers/Macintosh



Apple Security Update 03-03-03


Latest Apple Update closes who in UNIX Sendmail application. Most users do not have this service enabled, so this update is not critical, but should be installed when possible.


From Apple.com...

The Security Update addresses a security issue in sendmail where a remote individual could gain access and control of the system. Although sendmail is off by default in Mac OS, it is recommended that all users install this Security Update. This update also includes a newer version of OpenSSL that provides improved data confidentiality by addressing a recently-discovered security issue.

Saturday, March 01, 2003

Computers/Macintosh



Mac OS X 10.2.4 modem bug


This Apple tech note might help some of you who are experiencing problems maintaining a dial-up connection to the Internet on your Mac. The provides a list of effected machines and one option to be changed.



[Via MacInTouch: Mac news, information and analysis]

Events



RAILFEST 2003


March 22-23


Fillmore


Celebration of railroad history; train rides, frontier gunslingers, arts and crafts, antique farm equipment and food.


Tel: (800) 773-8724 or (805) 524-2546

Fax: (805) 524-1838


We visit this festival every year. An A-1 event.