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Everything posted by Abraxas

  1. :icon5: Too Funny Cole! Thanks! Rick
  2. That's America for you these days. Encourage mediocrity. What a sad commentary on a once great country. Rick
  3. Both links work for me, Wibby old boy! That's the first time I've ever been to La Maison de Tanuki. Inspired by Baker Street Tube station, eh? Love the Sherlock Holmes theme... England is my favorite tourist haunt as well. I lived there for two years (mid 93-mid 95), and have been back twice on vacation. Personally though, I hope the exchange rates swings a bit more in our favor before I get the urge to return. $2.26 for a pound sterling? I about had a heart attack signing the receipt for dinner (or anything else) when I was there last December! Rick PS Personally, I think this entire event was a ploy to raise the rating on Wibby's Blog back to 4 stars! Tell me I'm wrong!
  4. Oh God, not another second rate remake! Who are they going to get to play Tim Curry's role? Like him or not, his performance makes RHPS. I can see it now: "Vin Diesel in The Rocky Horror Picture Show" (shudders) Be afraid...be very afraid. Rick PS By the way, Wibby old boy, you're dating yourself here....
  5. Abraxas

    E Book Redux?

    The limiting factor for this taking off is bringing the price down to levels your average consumer would be willing to shell out their hard earned cash for. I'm generally an early adopter, but in this case, I think I'll stay on the sidelines until if/when the price drops into the sub-$100 range. A side comment concerning the lack of a backlit display. That was a conscious decision in the design of the kindle. The technology used, called "virtual paper" only draws power from the battery when refreshing a page. Display backlights are huge power hogs.... If you're interested, MIT's Technology Review magazine did a short write up on the Kindle a few months back, and its likely available on their website... Rick
  6. This just exemplifies what I've been saying for years: If you're not furious at our government, you aren't paying attention. Rick
  7. Technically, you could do that, but it would mean going the LOOOONNNNNGGGGGG way around, with a complimentary stop down under. Rick
  8. Compliments of Conde Nast Portfolio Magazine LINK TO CONDE NAST PORTFOLIO Commentary: The Price of Prejudice by Editors Jun 16 2008 Fostering tolerance and diversity is important to recruit, retain, and motivate the best and brightest. Thanks to the recent decision by the California Supreme Court, we expect gay marriage will again be an issue this election year. On their November ballots, California voters will be asked to amend the state?s constitution, in effect overturning the court?s legalization of same-sex marriage. It should be quite a fight. Gay marriage may appear to be one of those cultural issues that should be of no concern to a business mag?azine. But we feel strongly that Californians face a defining moment that is as much about their economy as it is about their social mores. Ever since the 17th-century Dutch Golden Age, during which freedom of religion flourished, it?s been clear that a tolerant society respectful of individual autonomy makes for a prosperous society where creative entrepreneurship thrives. Today, attitudes toward gay rights are an important barometer of a society?s broader tolerance and diversity, and arguably nothing is more central to individual fulfillment than the choice of a loved one with whom to build a life together. This is why all good capitalists should join us in supporting gay marriage. The economic case for same-sex marriage often sounds like a pitch for another stimulus package: Allow gays to marry and so many more billions will be spent throughout the economy on weddings, gift registries, and travel. But that argument is far too narrow. Corporate America understands that fostering tolerance and diversity is important in order to recruit, retain, and motivate the best and the brightest. Twenty-six years ago, the Village Voice, a New York newspaper, became the first U.S. employer to offer benefits to the same-sex partners of its employees; now more than 80 percent of Fortune 500 companies do so. Among the 10 largest U.S. companies, only Exxon Mobil and Wal-Mart do not provide domestic-partner benefits. It may be no coincidence that the current centers of technological innovation in the United States?the San Francisco Bay Area, Boston, and Austin, to name a few?are among the nation?s most receptive places to gays. Sadly, government is often behind the curve in this area?in part because polls show that a majority of Americans oppose same-sex marriage. The 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act disallowed partner benefits for public employees. Massachusetts permits gay marriage, and a handful of states recognize civil unions or domestic partnerships, but other states are openly hostile to the concept and go so far as to limit what same-sex-partner benefits companies can offer. If you run a large company with operations in many states, good luck trying to transfer gay married employees from Boston to a state where their spouses will be considered by law to be total strangers to their kids. The problem is magnified at the global level. As more countries, from Canada to Spain to South Africa, legalize gay marriage and grant gay couples greater legal equality generally, the U.S. could lose the competitive advantage of being the world?s beacon of entrepreneur-nurturing tolerance. In an ever-shrinking world with increasingly mobile talent, intolerance is bad for business.
  9. James; Thanks for the heads up. Nice to see that the Zonealarm guys are on the ball, unlike those people in Redmond, WA. I experienced this lovely issue. I did some checking with co-workers who also had the problem, and found that the update to the Malware removal tool set all the firewall permissions in Zonealarm to ask first or to deny. According to a co-worker, change the permissions back to allow, and adjust your security slider for the internet zone to medium and everything supposedly works again. I'm downloading the Zonealarm patch just to be on the safe side though. Now the big question is why Microsquash didn't test this out before pushing it into the user community. Hmmm, perhaps it's a Microsquash plot to discredit Zonealarm so they can take over that market segment, hmmm. Rick
  10. Absolutely spot on! Thanks, Mike, from my little corner of the world! Rick
  11. Camy; Okay, given the size you are looking for, DLP is pretty much out. That doesn't usually become an option till you hit 50 or 55 inch units, but you might give it a shot as DLP can be more cost effective than large LCD or plasma displays. Mitsubishi and Sumsung own this market at the moment, with Sony playing catch-up after dropping the development ball a couple of years ago. For my money, 1080i or 1080p is the way to go. I think if you go to a good shop with your movies and then watch some blu-ray @ 1080, you'll be hooked. If nothing else, you should do this to see what the differences are. After all, your TV doesn't have to please me, Wibby, or anyone else: you have to be happy with your purchase. My only advice is that saving a few bucks today can come back to haunt you in a year or so, and I think that advice applies to 720p or a cheap model from some of the companies already mentioned. Stick with a brand name. Samsung, Sony, and even LG have pretty solid products. As far as 720p is concerned, I think if you go watch some 720p, you won't see too dramatic an improvement over the analog PAL signal you are probably already watching. An issue with plasma screens can be image burn-in if you use it as a monitor as well as a TV. Also, if you have any plans to live higher than 5000 feet in altitude, Plasma screens have been known to have a strange buzzing noise and premature failure problems at altitude. Still, the picture is a bit better than a comparable LCD, or was until the LCD response times started dropping below 10ms. I'd look very hard at the 40-45 inch LCD displays, just look for the things I already pointed out from a specification perspective. As for the rest? Life is all about choices...and the consumer electronics folks seem to want to make life as interesting as possible! Cheers; Rick
  12. Camy; It should be OK, but go watch it before you buy it. I'm a bit concerned about the 8ms response time. I'd look for something 5 ms or under. The slower the response time, the more you'll tend to see motion artifacts and pixelization. Watch the TV in the shop and bring some movies. Take some with a wide range of light and dark scenes so you get a feel for how the picture looks across its range. Also take something with a lot of motion in it. If the picture is clear and the motion looks smooth, and the colors are bright and vibrant without ghosting, you probably have a winner. One other thing to look for. Look to see if a black background is completely black. Some monitors show light leakage from their backlighting. This will show up along the edge as a white line that bleeds into the black (its really annoying). Happy viewing! Rick
  13. I'd have to agree with your point, Pecman. I once read somewhere that if you want to learn how to write, you need to read everything you can get your hands on: not just books on how to write. The only "how to" books I've read are "How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy" and "Characters and Viewpoint", both by Orson Scott Card. Now, before I get a ton of hatemail about Card, I find his personal and religious viewpoints as repugnant as anyone else here. Having said that, the books are well written, interesting, and provide valuable insight into the writing process. Still, the best preparation for writing a fantasy saga I ever had was reading every good (and many bad) fantasy series I could get my hands on. Read it enough and the basic underpinnings of a fantasy series become pretty obvious. I find it useful to do a fairly in-depth analysis on the characters before setting fingers to keyboard so that you know the character, and how he/she will react in a given situation to ensure they are believable and consistent. I work in pretty much the same way Wibby mentioned. I sketch out what I want the volume to accomplish, then do a short sketch of each chapter that moves the story along towards the end goal of the particular volume. Then I start writing (until I get stuck or work dominates my life) while paying close attention to the promptings of my personal muse. My editor pointed out that it was useful to keep a glossary of characters and places. The issue with epic fantasy is keeping your character list from spinning completely out of control, and remembering all the characters you've already invented. For the places, I find making a map very handy, and there's some pretty cool planet creation software out there that makes a great starting point. Don't like the planet it created? Hit the generate button, and you have a completely new planet in under five seconds. Your imagination is the best writing aid ever created. Still, what software do I use? I use the same thing I use at work: Microsquash Word, but I have been playing around with the Open Office suite of applications. It does pretty much everything that Microsoft Office does, only it does it all for free, and works on all the microsoft file types as a default. Its also available for windows, linux, and mac in about a dozen different languages. If you're interested, check it out at openoffice.org. Rick
  14. Don't forget your box of tissues....Dewey's work tends to result in waterworks at several points in the saga. Happy Reading! Rick
  15. Bravo! It's too bad the rest of the US press corps seems to be lap dogs to the white house and the republican party machine. It's long overdue that the press begin calling this president, and his incompetent administration, to account for their mis-deeds and lies. We need more journalists like Olberman who call them like they see them. Well said! Rick
  16. Yay!! Happy birthday to you, Happy birthday to you, Happy birthday to DaBeagle, Happy Birthday to you! Rick
  17. Now, if only he could do something about that non-actor, Nicholas Cage, and the loathsome Jim Carrey. I'd not only hug the raccoon, I'd buy him a months supply of antacid and raccoon treats...assuming we avoid the poo thing, of course. Rick
  18. I'm very conflicted about this area of the law. On the one hand, I have real problems with locking a kid up for his/her entire life for a crime committed as a juvenile. On the other hand, a fourteen year old is clearly capable of understanding the difference between right and wrong. Premeditated murder is wrong in pretty much anybodies book, and this boy planned and carried out an act of cold-blooded, premeditated, murder. The penal system does nothing to help criminals overcome their issues, and as a direct result, the recidivism rate is well over 50% (and is probably closer to 80%, but I don't have the exact statistics at hand). Society, in general, won't accept a convict in the workplace, and those institutionalized for long terms have major issues with adjusting to life on the outside, something further complicated by their inability to find a constructive place in the workforce. If this boy is locked up until he is 25, he will fit into this mold all too well, having been in the system for 10 years. If this boy is incapable of finding solutions to his problems for minor issues like another boy telling him he loved him and being different, how will this so-called child react when faced with real problems in adulthood? Go postal and kill everyone in his workplace? Beat his child to death because it won't stop crying? At some point, the system has to take serious interventive action, and that line was clearly crossed. There is no perfect solution here. Justice is, and always has been, a compromise between restricting the rights of those who commit serious crimes and the rights of a free society to live in relative safety from such people. Rick
  19. Oddly enough, the local abuse shelter sent me an e-mail indicating they didn't accept donations...strange. Still, I went ahead and followed up on one of the suggestions made here at AwesomeDude and contacted the local Ronald McDonald House, and they indicated they would happily accept the movies and DVD player I offered. I'm just waiting on a note telling me when and where to take them (we have two of them here in Denver). Helping make a child and his/her family who is undergoing Chemo or some other serious medical procedure might not quite rank up there with helping abused kids, but I think its still a great use for perfectly good movies! Thanks again to all who provided suggestions! Rick
  20. Thanks for the suggestions guys, its certainly food for thought. Of the titles I have in my donation pile, I've either replaced the copy with Blu-ray already, or I wasn't that impressed with the movie in the first place. I'll never give up a good DVD unless I can replace it with something better. I only recently threw out my VHS copy of the BBC's 'Blackadder' comedy series, because I was finally able to replace it with DVD. While my part of the world may not be representative of the rest of the movie watching public, since the HD-DVD format went away, the stores in my area have sold out of dedicated Blu-ray players several times and report that software sales are way up over last year. We're also finally seeing same day and date release of new Blu-ray material with the standard def DVD's. I'm frothing at the mouth in anticipation of the release announcements from Paramount and Universal studios (of course, I froth at the mouth frequently anyway). Rick
  21. Okay, here's an issue for the various denizens of AwesomeDude: As a consequence of my gradual conversion to Blu-ray, I have something on the order of 80-100 DVD's that I now have no use for. I don't want to just toss them out, after all, there's nothing wrong with them. So here's the question: Does anyone know of a charitable organization I could donate them too? Most of the movies run the gamut of genres and their ratings range from G to R, so some are clearly not suitable for little kids. Any suggestions? Rick
  22. There have been a number of security people pointing this out over the years. The primary reason the Mac has been more or less untouched by the hacker community was its market share relative to the Windows community. If you're going to spend time trying to rip people off or just be destructive for the heck of it, you'll want to get the most bang for your hacking buck, so to speak. As a result, Apple has gotten a bit of a free ride, relatively speaking, for a long time. Abraxas
  23. Speaking as another long-term victim of peanut allergies, I can say I've developed enough resistance I can be in the same room with that nasty stuff, but the stench always turns my stomach. I, too, carry an epinephrine injector, but thankfully haven't had to use one in years. I primarily wanted to comment on this whole skittles thing. It's entirely too easy to blame the "No Child Left Behind" stupidity, but the underlying root cause of the problem is that, as a society, we've decided that its governments responsibility to raise children. Speaking as someone who has worked with hundreds of kids over the years, I've seen far too many cases of people who have children and then assume that they are everyone else's responsibility and effectively wash their hands of the kid. Is it any wonder we have the issues we have today with so many absentee parents? I always found it to be a bit sad when I was spending more time with a kid than his own parents were. I guess I was one of the lucky ones. My parents set rules and boundaries and enforced them. I may not have liked it much as a kid, but I'm much better off as a result, and my upbringing wasn't the result of some stupid government committee that would enact, and then attempt to enforce, a policy as moronic as this one. As the old saying goes, God must have loved fools, 'cause he made so many of them. Rick
  24. Trab; Brilliant... Abraxas
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