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Saturday, August 30, 2003


Wonka Wonders

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory has always been one of my favorite movies. USC is hosting an exhibit of photos and other materials from the movie.

From the web site...

David L. Wolper Center Exhibition

Sponsored by Information Services Division

Wed, May 28, 2003 through Fri, September 19, 2003 on Mondays, Wednesdays
and Fridays from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm

Admission: Free

Doheny Memorial Library (DML)
David L. Wolper Center, Ground Floor
University Park Campus

This exhibition features rare on-set photographs, production designs and
other material from the 1971 musical Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

The landmark film was co-produced by the Center's namesake beneficiary,
David L. Wolper, and he contributed much of the material on display.

Roald Dahl wrote the film's script, based on his own book. Dahl's offbeat
vision was so unexpected in a children's film that the movie was initially
received with bewilderment. It has since been recognized as a classic.


LemonFest 2003 - Ventura, CA

A new festival in Ventura starts next weekend.

From the web site...

Mark your calendar to join us on September 6 and 7, 2003 from 10am - 6pm in celebrating Pacific View's history! The mall sits atop a former lemon grove and, fittingly, has launched Ventura County's newest festival to honor this history.

Friday, August 29, 2003

Career Column

Career-Op: Stretching

by Douglas E. Welch, ComputorEdge Magazine

Stretching yourself, both professionally and personally, can be a bit painful. It can also yield some of the best improvements in your life. Just like you may be sore the day after starting a new exercise routine, your ego and intellect might emerge a little bruised, but your body will be better for the effort.

Global Art Exhibition Calender

While the coverage is a bit spotty at the moment, ExCalendar.Net is aiming to provide a global resource for art exhibition information. Choose a continent, then a region and ExCalendar will present you with a list of museums and the exhibitions at each museum.

This could be a great resource when you are traveling. Instead of sitting around your hotel room in the evenings, you could go catch the latest exhibition.

Via Neat New Stuff

Thursday, August 28, 2003


I received notice of the following update for Microsoft Windows regarding a flaw in the Microsoft Media Player application. Please visit http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com/ to install this security update.

From Microsoft.com...

MS03-017: Flaw in Windows Media Player Skins Downloading Could Allow Code Execution

Microsoft Windows Media Player provides functionality to change the overall appearance of the player itself through the use of "skins". Skins are custom overlays that are made up of collections of one or more files of computer art that is organized by an XML file. The XML file tells Windows Media Player how to use these files to display a skin as the user interface. In this manner, the user can choose from a variety of standard skins. Each skin provides an additional visual experience. Although Windows Media Player comes with several standard skins that users can choose, it is relatively easy to create and distribute custom skins. A flaw exists in the way Windows Media Player 7.1 and Windows Media Player for Windows XP handle the download of skin files. The flaw means that a malicious user (referred to as an "attacker") could force a file that masquerades as a skin file into a known location on a user's computer. This could allow an attacker to save and then start a malicious executable file on the system.

Read the entire article

Computer Discussion Group at the LAPL Sherman Oaks Branch

Tonight, (8/28) I am re-starting my Computer Discussion Group at the Sherman Oaks Branch of the LA Public Library.

Rather than a traditional class, I usually show off some new web site or other interesting technology, then I open up the floor for questions. This seems to make the most sense, as it allows me to directly address the most important questions on people's minds.

If you would like to attend, or know someone who would, here is the information:

Computer Discussion Group

With Douglas E. Welch

August 28

September 11/25

October 9/23

November 13/20*

December 11

* to avoid Thanksgiving holiday

6:30 pm

A short technology presentation, followed by an open question & answer session.

Send email computer@welchwrite.com for further info

Sherman Oaks Branch

Los Angeles Public Library

14245 Moorpark Street

Sherman Oaks, California

(818) 205-9716

Monday, August 25, 2003

Avoid this scam - Do Not Call List is Free!

In the ongoing battle against scams, spam and viruses, be aware of the following scam based around the telemarketer DO NOT CALL listing. You can register for this list for free via both telephone and the web. Some scammer is trying to charge you $2.95 to probably do absolutely nothing.

Here is some info from DM News, the Online Newspaper of Record for Direct Marketers...

A toll-free number, 1-800-DO-NOT-CALL, that offers to register consumers for the national no-call list for a $2.95 fee, is a scam, the Federal Trade Commission said last week.

Read the entire article

Please take the utmost care when approaching any offer such as this. There are too many people more than willing to separate you from your money in the quickest way possible.

Via TechDirt

Sunday, August 24, 2003

A Walk Through the Getty Garden

While visiting the Getty Center yesterday, (August 23), I came upon the idea of creating a walk-through of the striking gardens, for those of you who have never had a chance to visit.

More in my gardening weblog, A Gardener's Notebook

Saturday, August 23, 2003


Sorry about the late notice on this. -- Douglas

Sunset Junction Street Fair

August 23 & 24, 2003

3600 to 4200 Sunset Blvd

Silver Lake, Los Angeles

Saturday 23, 10:00 am to 11:00 pm

Sunday 24, 10:00 am to 10:00 pm

$7.00 Donation

Ph. (323) 661-7771

Full Information, including performance schedule, available at the web site above.


Epicurious Wine Dictionary

As a novice-to-intermediate wine drinker, I sometimes run up against terms that are unfamiliar. Today, I was looking for a clear explanation of Vin Santo, a wine I often see mentioned in my research of Italian Cuisine. I had a basic idea of what I thought it was, but the Wine Dictionary gave me a clear and concise explantion with links to additional information sprinkled throughout the text. The next time you run up against an unfamiliar term, turn the Wine Dictionary for help.

Friday, August 22, 2003


Enoteca: Simple, Delicious Recipes in the Italian Wine Bar Tradition

Enoteca is a collection of recipes from enoteche (wIne bars) from throughout Italy. My wife is part Sicilian and we have visited relatives in Sicily, so I am always on the lookout for great recipes -- especially traditional recipes of each region.

What makes the book wonderful though, is the insightful and clear wine recommendations that go with each dish.

This food was designed to be consumed alongside a nice glass of wine and the book becomes a primer in matching wines with all sorts of different foods, simple or fancy.


Last Days of the Dinosaurs

August 27 - 4pm

Richard Wade talks about the dinosaurs and extinction. See a model of a 7 foot dinosaur leg and take home a model of a dinosaur tooth! - for children.

14245 Moorpark Street, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423 -- 818-205-9716

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Career Column

Career-Op: I told you so

by Douglas E. Welch, ComputorEdge Magazine

One of the most frustrating positions at work or home is when you want to say ?I told you so?, but can?t. In business this usually occurs when you warn against a problem only to have the problem occur anyway. While you are probably wise enough to not say it out loud, the chorus of ?I told you so? echoing in your head can sometimes become deafening. As you can imagine, though, expressing those thoughts could lead to your marginalization, if not to the outright loss of your job. While this can be an ugly situation, there are a few ways to help ease the pain, both to your psyche and your high-tech career.


Free Tech Books

This website has a collection of free tech books available from the web. The books are categorized for your browsing convenience. They include books on programming, Scripting Languages, Computer Science and more.

From the web site...

All online computer books listed in this site are available for free, as they are hosted on websites that belong to the authors or the publishers. You are most welcomed to view, download and print the books for your own private use at no charge.

Via LockerGnome


Getty Garden Concerts for Kids

Saturdays, 23, 4:00 p.m.

Sundays, 24, 4:00 p.m.

Central Garden

I saw no mention of these concerts in the Getty calendar, but visiting their web site today, I saw them highlighted on the front page.

This sounds like an excellent opportunity to get the kids up and out and dancing to the beat while enjoying the beautiful Getty Garden.

From the web site...

Summer fun isn't over yet! Garden Concerts for Kids returns for a second season of cool tunes for fidgety feet in the Getty's Central Garden. This year's series features Sol y Canto, an acclaimed bilingual quintet known for its infectiously delicious songs containing lyrics that will have you singing out loud and dancing along. The beat goes on with Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer, the Grammy-nominated duo that delivers high-energy performances packed with audience participation. All you need to bring is sunscreen and lots of imagination.

Artist Info:

Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer

Together, Cathy, on banjo, and Marcy, on mandolin, have been entertaining families for more than 20 years and are two of the most sought-after children's performers in the country. The five-time Grammy-nominated duo is lauded for their ability to present music for kids that is both complex and accessible, thought-provoking and fun. One critic said it best, "there's nothing namby-pamby" about this dynamic duo!


Backup your Mac to your DV or Digital8 camcorder

Interesting re-purposing of your existing electronics. Being able to use a DV camcorder for backups gives me a secondary reason to buy one. I wonder what issues there might be regarding the constant use of the camcorder. I would think backups would stress the unit more than simply recording.

From the web site...

DV Backup lets you use your DV or Digital8 camcorder as a high capacity backup tape drive. Capacity is up to 10GB per hour of tape, or 15GB if LP mode is used. Each tape has a table-of-contents which allows existing backups to be restored with drag-and-drop ease. The camera is controlled by the application (including all tape positioning), no user intervention is required. Flexible levels of error protection are available to suit the backup data in question.

Via Mac Daily News

Wednesday, August 20, 2003


JPL News -- Programs Will Share Inside Story of Mars-Bound Robots

These lectures will also be webcast and available online for viewing at a later date.

From the press release...

Two free public programs in Pasadena this week will offer an introduction to the challenges and excitement of NASA's project to examine two areas of Mars with robotic rovers that are currently flying to Mars. "


Two more windows updates came through on my machine today:

Security Update for Microsoft Data Access Components (823718)

August 2003, Cumulative Patch for Internet Explorer 6 Service Pack 1 (822925)

If you haven't seen this patches on your computer yet, visit: http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com.


Detailed Japanese Papercraft Projects of Native Fish

These beautiful renditions of native fish can be printed, cut out and assembled into faithful 3-d renditions of these native Japanese fish. An excellent project for a rainy (or, in our case, 100 degree+) day.

My latest TechRepublic article is now online

Build a career portfolio to highlight your accomplishments

Conventional wisdom says that to have a good career, whether manning the help desk or sitting in a call center, it is best to keep your head down and not make waves. Although I would question whether this was ever wise, in today's economy, it is almost a sure way to end up at the unemployment office.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

I Love Wireless Networking!!!

I am posting this entry from Jennifer's Coffee at the corner of Tujunga and Moorpark in Studio City. I came over here to get out of the home office so I could get a little writing done. That completed, I have been browsing the web and doing my usual net stuff while sipping a nice Latte in a comfortable chair.

Jennifer's offers free Wi-Fi access to anyone with a properly equipped laptop. If you would like to know how you can break free from your desk using Wi-Fi, drop me a line.

This is a great way to get out of your office for a little while, do some socializing while still being able to get a little work done.


Jennifer's Coffee Connection

4397 Tujunga Ave.

Studio City

818 769 3622


SoBig Virus Returns

It looks like a variant of the SoBig virus is roaming the net again. This article from Eweek.com provides some info on this one.

As always, this is nothing to panic over. Just make sure you update your anti-virus software and process all the available Windows Updates.
If you need any assistance with these updates, or think you have already contracted the virus, drop me an email.

Via Mac Daily News


French Food at Home

I saw this book listed in either Sunset Magazine or Country Living and requested it from my local library.

I found several interesting recipes, including one, Caramel Moons, I hope to add to my cookie/candy list for my annual holiday Open House.

Mac OS X Maximum Security - Book Review/Discussion

There is an interesting book review/discussion regarding Macintosh OS X security over at Slashdot.

As is normal, the conversation devolves a bit towards the end, but the review and earlier discussion might be useful for anyone who is concerned or responsible for Mac OS X security in their company.

Via Slashdot

Monday, August 18, 2003

Getty Center - No Reservations Required

Click for more pictures

I got my copy of the Getty Center calendar today and they announced that
parking reservations are a thing of the past.

Now you can be spontaneous and visit the Getty, even during the week.

On-site parking remains at $5/car, but parking in the satellite lot at
Constellation is free.

You can also arrive by the new Van Nuys Boulevard Metro Express bus.


Thinking for a Change: 11 Ways Highly Successful People Approach Life and Work

I am working my way though this book and wanted to recommend it, even before I finished it. I will admit, it took me more than one try to start the book. Lately, though, I have been more upbeat on my life and my work, and it seems to have given me the space to let this book and its topics into my head.

Give it a try!


Security Update 2003-08-14

Just another reminder to keep current with all updates from Apple (or Microsoft, for that matter). This update is available via the Software Update tool in your System Preferences. Click the link above for further information or to download the patch directly.

From the web site...

Security Update 2003-08-14 addresses a potential vulnerability in the fb_realpath() function which could allow a local or remote user to gain unauthorized root privileges to a system.

Sunday, August 17, 2003


Progressing along our path on robot learning, and due to the early demise of another robot caused by the cats, here is our latest incarnation using the Barebones Photo Head schematic.

Click for larger image

This little gem is powered by 2, AA batteries and a vibrating pager motor. The concept is based on this smaller, solar-powered version. (Photo | Video) When switched on, the bot spins the motor in one direction or the other, depending on the location of the brightest source of light in the room. It then seeks back and forth on that light until another spot appears brighter or you shade one of the phototransistor "eyes".

What you can't see in the picture is that the base of the robot is a standard American dime coin, stuck the the battery case using double-sided tape. This is necessary to reduce the friction so the bot can rotate left and right.

This version is much more active than the original version using a geared motor. The motor was pretty inefficient and would often get "stuck," needing a push to set it going again.


Creatures of the Night

A great hike for kids. Cooler too!

SAT 8/23 6pm

Rocky Oaks

Visit the meadows, oak woodlands and chaparral on this twilight hike as the creatures of the day make way for the creatures of the night. 2hrs NPS

Looking for more stuff to do in LA? -- Subscribe to the WelchEvents Mailing List

Friday, August 15, 2003

Career Column

Career-Op: Inertia

by Douglas E. Welch, ComputorEdge Magazine

Repeat after me…I will stop waiting for other people to help me out of my career problems and address them myself, every day, in every way possible. That was easy, wasn’t it. I am sure you are wondering just what I am talking about, though. What I am describing is the way many high-tech careerists, myself included, who allow the world, the computer industry and the marketplace to push them around from job to job, instead of “taking the bull by the horns” and directing their own career. It is a simple fact of life that it is much easier to let fate dictate your job choices, but it is no way to develop the career and the life you want.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

How small can you go?

Popular Science has an interesting piece on the world's smallest, free-roaming robots. While Joe and I have made some small one's these take the cake.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

The Innovation Weblog

The Innovation Weblog linked over to My Word, regarding Brian Eno's Oblique Strategies creativity tool.

The weblog looks very neat and I am spending some time reading through their past entries.

Check it out!

Monday, August 11, 2003


Microsoft cuts price of Mac Office v.X

It looks like the price of Microsoft Office v.X for Mac OS X got a little less painful this week. The price is still steep for your average user, $399, down from $499, but a $100 savings is nothing to sneeze at. (Although a groan at the thought of all that money might be appropriate.)

A "Professional Version" ($499) includes a copy of VIrtual PC and Windows XP for running Windows applications on your Mac.

If you don't need the entire suite of products (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Entourage) you can still purchase the individual programs separately at much reduced cost.

From News.com


The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable

I just finished this book tonight (I have been on a reading binge lately) and was very impressed. Dysfunctions is structured more like a short story or novelette than a traditional business book. This allowed me to get very involved in the story. Indeed, I believe a good story is always the best way to approach life and business. Whether you are writing a resume or trying to solve difficult business problems, a good story can illuminate the issue better than any combination of charts and reports.

The end of the book contains a more "business-like" restatement of the lessons, for those who want a more traditional review.

More importantly, I saw many aspects of my past business dealings echoed in the book. I think that anyone who is involved in business, in any form, has faced many of these same problems and issues. I requested this book from the library after seeing a short mention, possibly just the title in some magazine I was reading. I had no preconceptions about what I might find within, and I have been pleasantly surprised with the quality and importance of Dysfunctions.

While telling a good story helped to clearly explain the concepts, there were a few times when the characters came around too quickly to the lesson.The main character, a newly minuted CEO brought in to build a better executive team, seems a bit too assured with her process, but yet exhibits some moments of fear and regret.

Overall, this is a great book and I would highly suggest that it be recommended to your employees and your peers as a way of explaining how teamwork can and will develop if everyone is committed to making it happen.

Also available from the author:

The Leadership Fables of Patrick Lencioni, Box Set (The Five Temptations of a CEO; The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive; The Five Dysfunctions of a Team), Box Set, contains: The Five Temptations of a CEO; The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive; The Five Dysfunctions of a Team


A new exploit was released "into the wild" today which attempts to use a Windows bug to gain control of your system. "In the wild" means that someone has created an actual Worm/Virus program to exploit the already known vulnerability and placed it on the Internet.

MS03-026: Buffer Overrun in RPC Interface May Allow Code Execution

The link about will take you to a tech note at Microsoft.com that explains the situation, although it is a bit dense for non-technical readers (and even myself, sometimes (SMILE)).

I highly recommend you run Windows Update as soon as possible to download and install any waiting Critical Updates.

In order to insure that your machine is protected from this exploit, visit...


...today and download/install any Critical Updates it recommends.

If no updates are listed, your machine has already installed the update.


My First Garden

A Guide to the World of Fun and Clever Gardening.

This site is a great introduction to gardening for kids. It includes activities, information and a teacher's guide on how to integrate gardening into the classroom.

Sunday, August 10, 2003


SAT 8/16 9:30am

From Set to Screen

Paramount Ranch

Illusions and hard work turn a dusty set into a realistic town. Join a ranger on this easy-paced walk to discover movie magic and the history of Paramount Ranch. 1hr -- National Park Service Event

Looking for more things to do in LA? -- Subscribe to the WelchEvents Mailing List


SUN 8/17 2pm

Sculpture with Shahin

Sooky Goldman Nature Center

Express your creativity in this ongoing sculpture workshop. Learn to manipulate oil-based clay and make armatures and molds. Reservations required

310-858-7272, extension 131.

Materials FEE



Looking for more things to do in LA? -- Subscribe to the WelchEvents Mailing List

Saturday, August 09, 2003

Sherman Oaks Artwalk

Despite the near-100 degree temperatures, I headed down to the first Sherman Oaks Art Walk this afternoon. Although the artists were a bit wilted in the heat, they were happy to chat about their work. I counted 15 artists in all and they said that there should be at least 25 in the coming months. Music was provided at 4 different locations along the way. The art walk included not only Ventura Boulevard, but also a 2 block section of Van Nuys Boulevard.

Click for a larger version of this map.

The artists involved included the following:

Jaye Alison Moscariello
Carlos Cedillo

Laura Rae Yates

Tim Timmermans Fine Art Photography

Jodi Fuchs

Pawtraits - Robyn Feeley
Paul Whitehead

Evelyene Bly

Vincent Nicastro

Lou Sandoval


Friday, August 08, 2003

Career Column

Career-Op: The Grand Tour

by Douglas E. Welch, ComputorEdge Magazine

It is a simple truth that people in high-tech careers often spend entirely too much time staring at their computer screens, when, in fact, they should be dealing with the people using computers. It is all too easy to lose yourself in the minutiae of programming, debugging the Excel spreadsheet or tweaking that PowerPoint presentation. If you really want to make a difference in your company and your career, you need to take the Grand Tour on a regular basis.

Thursday, August 07, 2003


A discussion on another forum led me to think back on some of my favorite creativity tools and web sites.

Creative Whack Pack

This is one of my favorite tools to let me free associate over whatever I am working on. It has been years since I found it, so I have no idea where I first saw it, but it sits on my shelf with a few others to be called upon whenever I am in need.

There are also a couple of books on which this deck of cards is based:

A Whack on the Side of the Head: How to Unlock Your Mind for Innovation

A Kick in the Seat of the Pants

I recently came across Creativity Web in my search for new creativity tools. This version of Oblique Strategies can also offer a jolt when y ou are trying to come up with new ideas.

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Photos for Sale!

I am testing out a new feature on the web site today. As I post pictures from our travels, I am including some of them in DotPhoto. This allows you to browse and then purchase prints of the photos directly from DotPhoto.

You can click on the photo above to see two pictures I am using as a test.

If this system works out, I will be including photos from various WelchEvents and school events so that friends and parents can get real, photographic prints instead of printing them out themselves.

What I'm Reading...


Managing to have fun


It's Hard to Make a Difference When You Can't Find Your Keys: The Seven Step Path to Becoming Truly Organized


The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable

Check out my recommendations for books, hardware and software at Douglas Recommends...

Sherman Oaks Arts Walk - 2nd Saturday

Sherman Oaks is now hosting an Art Walk on the second Saturday of each month
from 3pm-7pm.

Artists, along with the regularly appearing musicians, will show their art
on Ventura Boulevard between Van Nuys and Cedros.

It is just starting this month, so I am unsure how many artists there will
be, but it should expand the year continues.

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Techology in the Schools

More and more, there are computers in our children's classrooms, but many teachers don't have the training or the time to integrate them into the learning process. (See Those Who Can't : Few are trained to use PCs as creative tools in teaching., Seattle Weekly, August 6-12).

To me, this is an absurd situation. As high-tech workers, we have the knowledge, surely we can find some time to help these teacher help our children and those of our friends and neighbors.

If you can find any time at all in your schedule, talk to your children's teachers about what they need to use their computer effectively in their classroom. Do they need training? Set up a class or series of classes. Do they need additional equipment? We all have something in the back room which could be put to better use. Do they need information on how to use the computer in the classroom? Spend some time searching and pass on the good web sites, blogs and discussion groups you find. Surely, we can fit a few minutes into our day.

We, as people who understand technology, can do a lot more to insure that our teachers have the tools and the training they need to help our children excel.

Career-Op Updates

This evening I updated several interesting pages related to my weekly Career Opportunities column. You can check out the updates using the links below.


I went back through al my columns from 1997-2001 and pulled out those that fit 2 particular themes. I then set up one page for each which you could use as a mini-seminar, reading through everything I had written regarding a particular topic. The links are in chronological order, so the new material is at the bottom of the listing.

Mini-seminar on Getting Started in a High-Tech Career

Mini-Seminar on Professional Development in Your HIgh-Tech Career

I will be processing my 2002 and 2003 columns into these series over the next couple of months.

Career-Op Suggested Reading

I have also updated this page, which contains links to books that I have found interesting whether they are about your career, your life or your well-being.

As I come across new books, they will appear on the Career-Op page, here in my blog, My Word, and on my Douglas Recommends... page.

Job Opening - Disney Internet Group

Software Engineer

The software engineer works under the technical direction of Engineering Managers, Technical Leads and Project Managers/Producers in the development, deployment and testing of Java applications. Designs and develops tools to support the template development team. Designs and develops tools to facilitate deployment and maintenance of production systems. This person will also provide technical direction to a junior engineer during project work, as well as technical mentoring.

Responsibilities also include the design, development and unit testing of WebSphere MQ integration with external systems. Will also work with the QA team in support of integration and acceptance testing. Identifies and resolves root causes of operational issues.


* BS/BA in computer science or equivalent

* 3-5 years of Java development and other internet technologies.

* 1-2 years experience with messaging systems

Specific Skills Required:
* Java, HTTP, HTML, XML, JSP, Windows NT/2K, Microsoft IIS.

* Source code versioning and management tools such as SourceSafe, CVS, Clearcase.

* Websphere MQ/MQSeries 5.2+

*Scripting languages - PERL, ANT, and shell.

*Database experience - MS SQL server and Oracle.

* Model language such as UML

To apply please send resume and cover letter to

Please include reference: SWEPMWS405

We regret that we will only be able to respond to those applicants whose qualifications meet our interest. EOE

Via Web405

Technical Self-Employment Is A Fat Paycheck Waiting to Be Pocketed

With unemployment at an all-time high, working as a high-tech freelancer might be the way to keep your head above water, or even the path to a great career. These two articles by Grant Barrett explore the issues involved.

Technical Self-Employment Is A Fat Paycheck Waiting to Be Pocketed

With A Fat Paycheck Comes Fat Responsibility.

Monday, August 04, 2003

Law of Unintended Consequences - Recall Version

My biggest fear in the entire California Gubernatorial Recall fiasco was the Law of Unintended Consequences. This article from ABC News -- "Recall the Recaller?: Calif. Democrat Raises Possibility of a Retaliatory Recall Bid" -- points out just how bad things could get.

Imagine a constant state of campaigning throughout every single state, county and local government. So little gets done in government today, such a state of affairs would be utterly catastrophic. Using the recall to oust a legally elected governor, with no civil or criminal charges, is the beginning of what could prove to be a quick slide into chaos. That said, this tit-for-tat threat by Willy Brown, Mayor of San Francisco, proves that there are people more willing to be part of the problem than the solution.

Local Harvest - Farmer's Markets/Family Farms/Organic Food

Local Harvest is a web site dedicated to helping you find the best in locally produced food products. You can put in your zip code and find farms, farmer's markets and restaurants near you.

Via MetaFilter

Becoming Human

Becoming Human is a great example of what the Internet can do for education. A light year beyond the typical "film strips" of my school days. Learn about the origins of man in a fun, interactive environment.

The best recommendation I can give is this -- when I started playing the documentary, my son, Joseph, was drawn from the next room. That is the power of the Internet.

Sunday, August 03, 2003

Thomas Play Day at Travel Town Museum

We made one of our regular visits to Travel Town in Griffith Park today.

This was the monthly Thomas Play Day, held the first Sunday of each month. Dozens of crates of Brio trains, track and accessories are opened on the patio in front of the store and the kids are allowed to build to their hearts content. The area is shaded by large trees and stays cool even on a hot day like today.

Joe spent a fair amount of time playing with the trains and then we wandered off to inspect the large model train layout by the East Valley Line railroad club. This N-scale layout, while one of the smallest scales, is one of the largest layouts in the world. Club members are on-hand to run a variety of trains through their paces. Although Travel Town is open every day, the model layout is only accessible on the weekends.

Next on the agenda was the inspection of all the large engines and coaches that comprise the museum. Joe has a great time climbing and pretending, especially on the old steam engines. Recently, informative signs were attached to many of the trains, giving detailed information on their past lives and technical specifications. This is a welcome addition.

The former snack bar at the museum has now become a museum gallery filled with railroad artifacts and information. It is a pleasant way to cool off and learn more about the history of railroading in America.

There is no permanent food service at the museum, although a hot dog cart with a variety of snacks is available. There are also soda and snack machines. I recommend you pack a picnic lunch or pick up food on the way. There are plenty of tables available to enjoy your meal.

If you visit on a Sunday, allow yourself some time to visit the LA Live Steamers next door. Here you can ride a miniature steam train around a wonderful layout.

Find out about more events in the LA Area -- Subscribe to the WelchEvents Mailing List

Stupid Security - the web site

If you are as fed up with stupid and ineffectual security measures as I am, Stupid Security is a place to collect your experiences. Perhaps if enough of these stupid security measures are held up to scorn something will change. Then again, maybe we will all just get some good exercise from shaking our heads in disbelief.

Artist - Dan Roe

When I started my search for robot information, I came across this link to Dan Roe, an artist who has taken some of the BEAM robot technologies and developed art pieces that move. They are quote wonderful.

Click on the portfolio link on his web site and you will find both photos and video of his sculptures in operation.

Saturday, August 02, 2003

Mars approaches

As Mars makes its closest pass to Earth until 2018 and there are special events being planned at various sites.

The Griffith Park Observatory, currently housed in a temporary location during the remodeling of their historic 1935 building, is offering a month-long look at Mars. Visit the Mars is Big and Bright in 2003 for a full list of activities and events.

An LA Times story, A Galactic Block Party for Mars appeared in today's (August 2, 2003) paper.

The Planetary Society has more information over the their Mars Watch 2003 web page.

Finally, all this Mars Madness will culminate with Planetfest '04, where you can have a front row seat to the Stardust Comet Flyby Mission and the landing of the next Mars Rover.

Latest Robot Project - Barebones Photohead

Click picture for 4 images

This is our latest robot project -- a Barebones Photohead. We are slowly progressing up the complexity scale. Soldering all the legs of this chip together for the first time certainly was a challenge.

This unit, when powered up, will seek the brightest source of light in the room and turn itself towards the source. As the lighting in a room changes the head will seek to the next brightest source. It is quite neat to watch and analyze what the phototransistor eyes are focusing on. You can also lead it around, using a small flashlight.

This unit is battery-powered, due to the power needs of the scavenged motor I am using, but you can also make a solar powered version. You can also use the same circuit to control 2 motors which would allow you to make a light-seeking vehicle.

I only had a source for the 74HCT240 chips from a local Radio Shack, but I think the 74AC240 chips would probably work a bit better, as this motor wants more power than the 2 AA batteries can deliver.

Stay tuned for more robot madness!

Protecting your laptop

I recently came across a couple of neat items to help you protect your laptop.

RoadWired Advanced Protection System (RAPS)

These totally customizable sleeves protect your laptop against everyday scratches and bumps. The velcro enclosures insure that it will fit your computer perfectly, regardless of manufacturer or style. Wrap your laptop in a RAPS and you can place it in your briefcase, bag or backpack knowing it is protected.

Kensington MicroSaver

It is a sad fact that laptops and notebook computer can easily "sprout legs" and disappear forever. Kensington's MIcroSaver product line can give you peace of mind when working in public areas.

These security cables, which come with key or combination locks, easily wrap around the leg of a table or the arm of a chair. Whether you are working in a coffeehouse or in the conference room at a client site, a MicroSaver could be the difference between having a computer or not.

Friday, August 01, 2003



August 2, 2003, through January 4, 2004

I recently read about this collection in the book, Patience and Fortitude. It sounded quote fascinating and I am interested in seeing it in person.

The Huntington is free on the first Thursday of the month (Thursday, August 7).

From the Huntington Web Site...

The ways in which art has been taught and valued in America from the 1800s through the 1940s will be explored in this exhibition of artifacts and ephemera from The Huntington's Diana Korzenik Art Education Collection.

Included in the collection are vintage paint boxes, coloring books, stencil kits, drawing manuals, and sketchbooks, as well as works on art theory read by teachers and educational policy makers. Korzenik is a Boston art
educator who spent nearly 30 years acquiring these materials at flea markets and antique stores. She donated her outstanding collection to The Huntington in 1997. The collection not only demonstrates methods of art
instruction in the 19th and early 20th centuries, but exemplifies the value society placed on art education.

Career Column

Career-Op: Your First Day

by Douglas E. Welch, ComputorEdge Magazine

There are times when I dismiss possible column ideas because I think they are too commonsensical. I figure that everyone has learned how to do the basics in their companies. Almost immediately after such a thought, I am proven wrong, sometimes in dramatic fashion. You would think that a company that hires thousands of people over its lifetime would know what is involved in the process. Unfortunately, whether the company is large or small, this doesn’t seem to be, Hence, this week’s column addresses an issue important to many of you — how to have a great first day at a new job. Feel free to pass this column on to friends in management. Perhaps it will then become as commonsense as I once thought it was.

Bug in Mac OS X 10.2.5

Apple released the following Tech Note on July 30, regarding a bug in Mac OS X 10.2.5. Most of you probably have already upgraded, using Software Update, to 10.2.6, but this is a good reason to confirm that, or process the upgrade.

Mac OS X 10.2.5: Files Unusable After Copy via AFP
Files written, cached, or explicitly saved by a Mac OS X 10.2.5 client to
an Apple Filing Protocol (AFP) server may become unusable under certain
circumstances. Update to Mac OS X 10.2.6 or later to prevent this issue.

Sizzling Summer Nights at the Autry

Last night, we hit the free evenings at the Autry Museum. These Thursday nights offer free admission to the museum after 4 pm and then entertainment, food and dancing in the museum courtyard until 9pm.

The Golden Spur Cafe is open for dining either inside or out on the patio. The museum requests that you don't bring outside, but many people set up chairs and picnics on the large lawn beyond the patio. From there, you can still clearly hear the music and the kids get a big place to run and play.

These events continue each Thursday night through August. Visit the Autry Museum Web SIte for further infomation.

Click on the photo above for a small picture gallery.

Here is the information for next Thursday night.

Sizzling Summer Nights Francisco Aguabella and His Latin Jazz Ensemble

August 7, 2003. 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.

Museum Plaza

Start your weekends early at the Autry Museum with our sixth annual Sizzling Summer Nights! Dance to salsa music in our open-air plaza, and enjoy delicious food and drink available for purchase. Don't know how to salsa? No problem - we'll provide free dance lessons! While you're at the museum, visit the galleries free from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. Sizzling Summer Nights are the hottest Thursdays in town! Tonight, Francisco Aguabella and His Latin Jazz Ensemble features jazz along with Afro-Cuban, Yoruba, and son rhythms.

Free to the public.