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Sunday, November 30, 2003

Free Computer Training as close as your TV

Every time I flip around my cable channels, I notice these great computer classes on using some of the most popular computer softeware. You might find that resources for learning about your computer might be as close as your television remote. I have been meaning to share this information for a long time, but tonight I was finally able to find the schedule information.

Here in LA, Channel 36 on most cable systems is the LA Channel. They host a wide variety of programming, including the Learn Key training series. You can find which classes are upcoming by viewing the schedule available online. I have seen classes on Microsoft Word, WordPerfect, Powerpoint and Microsoft Excel. I am sure there are even more that I have missed.

Calculate new California DMV Fees after rollback

It just happens that our car registration bill arrived before the recent rollback in vehicle registration fees. If your renewal bill is due on or before January 30, 2004, your renewal bill is not correct.

The California DMV has a page where you can calculate the corrected amount. Simply enter information from your current bill and it will provide the corrected amount.

Saturday, November 29, 2003

Apple Certified

If your Apple
Macintosh computer needs servicing, please call an Apple Authorized
Service Provider. Apple Authorized Service Providers will assist you
in identifying the nature of your problem. Should your computer need
hardware repair, the Service Provider will provide you with your available
service options.

Find an
Apple Authorized Service Provider using Apple's
Find Service web page.

Top Sci/Tech Gifts for 2003

Scientific American magazine has a list of their Top Sci/Tech gifts for this holiday season.

You can get everything from beaker coffee mugs to brain-shaped Jello molds.

A great place to look for the perfect gift for the geek(s) in your life.

Fix your iMac's "slouch"...

I recently had an email from a client whose relatively new Flat Panel iMac was refusing to hold up its "head" any longer. Whenever he adjusted the screen into the proper position, it would sink to the desktop. The problem and possible solutions are described in this discussion on the MacRumors forums.

First, let me say that this repair is probably best carried out by an Apple-certified repair technician. It requires a special tool and replacement parts(Neck Tool Hinge Kit for G4 iMacs) and seems to be quite a touchy operation, as seen in this installation video from a web site in Japan.

Thanks to Sam at NightsNWeekends.com for research assistance.

Friday, November 28, 2003

Career-Op: Education -- Future

by Douglas E. Welch, ComputorEdge Magazine

So now that you are on your way developing an excellent high-tech career, youíve either accrued a group of steady clients or snagged a solid corporate position, how do you ensure your continued success? Last week, I talked about the benefits and problems of specialization. Today I want to discuss the best method of keeping your career fresh in an ever-changing world.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

A PDA for Christmas?

Gearbits has a great chart showing just what PDA you can get for under $100 this holiday sale season.

If you have been waiting on getting a Palm OS PDA, this just might be the time. Prices are lower than ever before and a little smart shopping can get you a great unit for cheap.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today is Thanksgiving Day here in the US (in case I have any international readers out there) and the California branch of the family is gathering here at the Welch Homestead.

The smell of roasting turkey is filling the house as my sister and my son prepare the big bird. We will be joined today by friends as well, as we offer up our celebration to anyone who might not have other plans or is far away from their family.

Sometimes, after reading the daily newspaper or watching the television news, you really have to think hard about exactly what there is to be thankful for. Still, there are things, both large and small, that come to mind if you think about it. You just have to delve deep into your memories to find them.

I hope this holiday season finds you all well, wherever you many be.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

What I'm Reading...

From architecture to thinking to careers to Martha Stewart, another eclectic collection of books currently in my reading pile.

Optimal Thinking: How to Be Your Best Self

Working Identity: Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career

Brag!: The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn Without Blowing it

Decorating for the Holidays: Christmas With Martha Stewart Living

Christmas With Martha Stewart Living

The Distinctive Home: A Vision of Timeless Design

PC Magazine Holiday Gift Guide

It is the season for giving, so here is a link to PC Magazine's Ultimate Desk Jockey gift list.

There is something here for the techno-geek in everyone, whether they are jamming to MP3's, taking digital photos or chatting via text messaging on their cell phone.

Monday, November 24, 2003

OnRobo's 2003 Robot Gift Guide

For your friends who have an interest (or obsession) with robots, here is a short gift guide to give you some ideas.

Falling off the edge of the planet...

Just so you all know that I haven't fallen off the edge of the proverbial planet, here is a short update.

My 5-year-old "germ carrier" brought home something particularly nasty last week and we have been down for the count. I was spared until the very end, so now that everyone else has recovered, I get to be sick.

Anyway, sickness has a way of addling my mind, so nothing has looked very interesting lately, at least, not interesting enough to pass on to you folks. I feel like I am coming out of it, though, so hopefully new material will be forthcoming.

Be well!

Friday, November 21, 2003

Book of the Week

David Allen's followup to one of my favorite books, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity

See anything besides "Cat in the Hat"

After seeing the trailers and being inundated with the 100's of advertising tie-ins for this movie, I had no intention of going to see it anyway. Still, it is heartening to learn that some of the most prominant movie critics (who DID see it) have agreed with my assessment. While I find the book wonderful as it is, sometimes a movie can add a new dimension. Unfortunately, it seems the producers, directors and actors have decided to take the title and almost nothing else.

The Boston Globe's Ty Burr sums it up like this, "If the producers had dug up Ted Geisel's body and hung it from a tree, they couldn't have desecrated the man more."

LA Times Manohla Dargis sums up his/her feelings in verse, "Why oh why did they make it like that, oh why did they ruin "The Cat in the Hat"?"

More reviews and discussion can be found in this thread on Metafilter.com.

I would highly advise all parents to read these reviews, and more, before taking their children, or even their teenagers. We, the movie audience are often blamed for the poor quality of movies with the saying, "if the audience didn't watch it, we wouldn't make it." Let's make the message clear this time and go see something else.

Career Column

Career-Op: Education -- Focus

by Douglas E. Welch, ComputorEdge Magazine

As you continue in your high-tech career, you will naturally find that there are some tasks, some systems, some software that you prefer. This is natural and is an important guide in choosing the future direction of your career. Continually having to perform undesirable tasks and work with systems you donít like is a sure road to job, and perhaps, career, burnout. That said, it is also important to continue developing your generalized knowledge so that you are not left at the mercy of any one, obsolete technology.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Apple Security Update 2003-11-19

It looks like us lowly Jaguar (OS X 10.2.x) users have finally got the security update issued weeks ago for Panther. (OS X 10.3) in Security Update 2003-11-19

Update information from Apple...

Security Update 2003-11-19 includes the following updated components:

gm4, groff, Mail w/CRAM-MD5 authentication, OpenSSL, Personal File Sharing, QuickTime for Java ,zlib "gzprintf()" function

Additionally, there is also a Quicktime for Java update.

Both of these updates are available via the Software Update system preference on your Mac.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Here is my latest article for TechRepublic.com...

Manage and restore Palm PDA backups with these tips

Having to restore a user's Palm PDA from backup files can stem from a number of problems. For instance, a program error can leave the PDA in such a state of confusion that only a hard reset will bring it back. Or, data can be lost if the batteries on the device are allowed to go completely flat for an extended period of time. Unfortunately, a hard reset also deletes all of the device's data and programs, leaving the PDA in its factory default state. Finally, if a user's PDA is lost or destroyed, you'll need to move your user's data to a new device.

World's Smallest Flying Robot

Josh Rubin has a picture and some links to Sieko Epson's announcement of their tiny, Bluetooth-controlled, helicopter.

Way Cool!

Sunday, November 16, 2003

The Wal-Marting of America?

Fast Company magazine has a very thoughtful article about the pros and cons of Wal-Mart's power in the economy of America.

The Wal-Mart You Don't Know

While the company attempts to do good on some levels, there is the constant danger of the company using its tremendous power to destroy individual manufacturers and even entire classes of manufacturers.

Is there a point where companies become too big and wield too much influence over the economy and even public policy?

Food for thought.

Christmas Shopping?

Just a gentle reminder, if you are shopping for holiday presents through Amazon.com, you can use the WelchWrite Bookstore. Simply click on the link below to start your shopping and WelchWrite receives a small portion (around 5%) of each sale.

alt="In Association with Amazon.com">

You can also see some of my recommendations for books, hardware and software by visiting my Douglas Recommends... page.

Friday, November 14, 2003

New virus disguised as PayPal e-mail - News.com

A variant of the Mimail virus is making its way around the Internet again, hidden in a message purporting to be from PayPal.

Please make sure your antivirus software is current and all Windows Updates (http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com) have been installed.

You can find more detailed information in this story from News.com linked to the title above.

Career Column

Career-Op: Education -- Fundementals

by Douglas E. Welch, ComputorEdge Magazine

Last week I talked about the importance of direct experience in building your high-tech career. This should not lead you to believe, though, that formal training is not necessary. An education in high-tech concepts will allow you to expand your horizons beyond your direct experience. They can also lead to ways to garner even more experience by applying this newly acquired knowledge.



November 28-29

More than 30 arts and crafts booths, food, and music; tree lighting, caroling and Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus. Tel:† (909) 659-5049

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Build a "one board birdhouse" -- See A Gardener's Notebook

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Latest Microsoft Updates

Get'em while their hot!

There are 3 new updates for MS Windows today. If your computer hasn't notified you automatically, visit http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com and download them as soon as possible.

Here are direct links to information on each of the updates:

MS03-048: November 2003 Cumulative Security Update for Internet Explorer

MS03-049: Buffer Overrun in the Workstation Service Could Allow Code Execution

MS02-050: Certificate Validation Flaw Might Permit Identity Spoofing

Purple Cow by Seth Godin

Purple Cow

Is marketing dead? Seth Godin seems to think it is -- at least in its traditional form. He thinks that instead of making "safe" products and using marketing to sell them, your company should be making "remarkable" products that go a long way towards selling themselves.

Whether you agree with all his conclusions or not, Godin gets you thinking -- an important part of any book.

Other books by Seth Godin

Monday, November 10, 2003

Sno for Mac OS X

For those of you longing for a bit of Winter here in SoCal, here is a wonderful little application.

Sno 2001.12.08 puts falling snow on your Mac desktop and also comes with a Sno Screensaver to fill the night sky with snowflakes when your computer is idle. There are loads of tweakable settings so you can create just the type of snow you remember.

While I don't miss frost-bit toes and driving on ice, I do find myself reminiscing about roaring fires and hot chocolate. Sno helps to bring pleasant memories to mind.

Apple releases OS X 10.3.1 update

Users of Mac OS X 10.3 can find the latest update from Apple waiting in the Software Update utility.

This update is to fix problems with 10.3 and external Firewire hard drives, as well as problems with the new FileVault encryption feature.

From MacCentral.com

Sunday, November 09, 2003

Sculpture and Photogaphy in Franklin Canyon

Sculpture with Shahin

SUN 11/16 2pm

Sooky Goldman Nature Ctr

Come express your creativity in this ongoing sculpture workshop. Students will learn to manipulate oil-based clay and make armatures and molds. Materials fee. Reservations required 310-858-7272 x131. 2hrs WODOC

Photo Fun in Franklin Canyon

SUN 11/16 3pm

Sooky Goldman Nature Ctr

An experienced photographer will help you find unique views and photo opportunities or just enjoy the
peaceful, easy-paced hike. Reservations required 310-858-7272 x131. 2hrs WODOC

Friday, November 07, 2003

Career-Op: Education -- Experience

by Douglas E. Welch, ComputorEdge Magazine

Since I wrote my column about Apprenticeship a few weeks
(See I
want an apprentice
, September 12, 2003
) I have received several questions
from readers wanting to know what they should be studying today to build their
high-tech career tomorrow. While it is impossible to predict the future, there
are several ways of preparing for a high-tech career that will serve you well,
regardless of where the industry might find itself down the road. Over the
next several weeks I will explore the ways you can, and should, develop your
own customized high-tech education.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Tilt : A Skewed History of the Tower of Pisa

Any book you finish in nearly one sitting has to be good. While I am admittedly a history buff, this history of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, captivated me.

The book, which is bound in the shape of a parallelogram, mimicking the tilt of the tower itself, starts with information on the latest (and probably most successful) attempts to halt the tilt of the tower and protect it for future generations. It then delves into the far history of the tower, it financing, its design, its construction and its possible demise.

An excellent companion to this book would be this episode of PBS' Nova series, Nova: Fall of the Leaning Tower. It details the rehabilitation efforts that eventually halted the tilt and allowed for the re-opening of the campanile in 2001.

Quick response on LA pothole request


This morning I got a call from the LA Bureau of Street Services regarding the repair request I emailed in on Sunday. The supervisor, Anthony, was actually at the site to inspect my problem, but was having a few problems locating it. I talked him through the exact location and, after seeing it, he said he would put in a repair request right away.

I love it when systems work like they should.

So, if you find problems with the streets in Los Angeles, send an email via this online form and it should get addressed quickly.

Monday, November 03, 2003

Full Moon Hike

SUN 11/9 7pm

Charmlee Wilderness Park

An evening hike through Charmlee Park under the full moon. All ages welcome. Reservations required 310-317-1364. 2hrs CWP

Sunday, November 02, 2003

Report Street Problems in LA via Email

If you find a street problem as you drive around LA, as I recently did, you can easily report it using this Online Form from the LA Bureau of Street Services. There is also an interesting page (at least for the engineering geeks among us) describing and showing all the different types of possible road failures you might encounter.

About a year ago, I submitted a different problem through this system and it was repaired within about 2 weeks. Your mileage may vary.

Rocky Oaks Nature Walk

SUN 11/9 10am

A slow-paced walk for all ages. Enjoy seeing wildflowers, oak woodlands and colorful volcanic rock formations. We may also see a seasonal pond. 2hrs TC

Saturday, November 01, 2003


Learning to Look: Line

November 7, 2003 -- February 23, 2004

Norton Simon Museum - Pasadena

Line is among the artist's most basic and essential tools. Since pre-historic times, artists have employed line to describe objects, to structure a composition, and to heighten the visual and expressive impact of a work. Learning to Look: Line examines objects in which line is used for conventional purposes as well as in inventive and unexpected ways. A small but wide-ranging selection of works from Europe and Asia are represented in this exhibition curated by the Education Department.

Career Column

Career-Op: Frightening, but true

by Douglas E. Welch, ComputorEdge Magazine

While I certainly don't like to dwell on computer horror stories, there are always lessons to be learned from the mistakes of others. Whether you are protecting your own computer, or those of your clients, it pays to be aware of the computer problems that can arise on a daily basis.



November 8, 2003, through April 4, 2004

William Morris's place in the history of nineteenth-century design Will be examined in this exhibition of over 200 works related to Morris, His circle, and the firm of Morris and Company.

Drawn from The Huntington's extensive Arts and Crafts holdings---the largest collection of William Morris materials in America---the exhibit will include stained glass, textiles, designs for wallpaper, embroidery, tapestry, furniture, ceramics, manuscripts, and Kelmscott Press material. central theme will be the practical and theoretical ideas behind Morris's design activities. For Morris, beauty, pleasure, and work were interrelated
ideals, and in his work he attempted to integrate the manual and the intellectual. Groups of objects on display will be assembled to explore the different historical debates and ideas relating to Victorian design and culture with which Morris engaged, such as the gothic revival, medievalism and modernity, the role of women in the arts, and the relationship between socialism and the arts. After closing at The Huntington, the exhibition will travel to the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven, Connecticut.