Bill's Blog

Friday, August 05, 2005

Self Portraits

Ok. Everyone does it at some point. The temptation is just too great. If you're working with a camera for any length of time, at some point you turn the camera on yourself and shoot away. Usually the result is off-centered, lopsided, out of focus and about ten degrees of angle. It is a fact in photography - the draw to it is just too strong.

On August 3rd, while repairing the space shuttle, Steve Robinson caved to temptation and produced the remarkable shot below. And if you think this scaled down version is cool, click here to see the hi-res shot (Provided by NASA).

Robinson Self Portrait

I wish my self portraits turned out this well.

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A Movie Out of My Childhood

Last night I was flipping through the channels trying to find something to put on in the background as I read through The Secret Man. FoxFamily was running Flight of the Navigator, a 1986 movie about a boy, David, who disappears for eight years and returns to his family un-aged. At the time of David's return, a spaceship is recovered nearby by NASA. David tries to make sense of it all and get his life back.

This is a great flick, suitable for kids of all ages. I wish the kids were home last night or that I had caught it early enough to tape it. It's now on our Blockbuster queue for some good ol' nostalgia.

If you have never seen this movie, I'd recommend getting your hands on a copy and sitting down with the family. Good flick, funny, and clean. Rated PG.

Notes of Interest:
-Paul Reubens (PeeWee Herman) is the voice of Max, the spacecraft.
-A young Sarah Jessica Parker makes an appearance or two.
-Howard Hesseman of Head of the Class fame, is head of NASA.
-Director Randal Kleiser also directed Grease.


Warriors of the Net

LAN PacketsEver wanted an easy to understand concept of how data is transferred over the Internet? Can't quite grasp the concept of TCP/IP? Need an easy way to explain it to the kids? The people at Ericsson Medialab created a great animated movie back in 1999 to help you. The creators have since left Ericsson and acquired the rights to their work.

Though Warriors of the Net is six years old, the video is still relevant and its easy to follow dialog make it a winner. Every computer teacher in the country should be showing this to student. It is available at no charge for non-commercial use and is well worth the download (70-120 MB depending on the quality you choose). Running time - 12:40 min.

Warriors of the Net

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Thursday, August 04, 2005

Quote of the Day - 08/04/05

"Information is the currency of democracy."
-Thomas Jefferson

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Roberts Confirmation Hearing

The only thing I need to hear John Roberts say during his confirmation hearing is:

I believe in the limited exercise of judicial powers. I believe the Supreme Court needs to measure every case against the Constitution and the Framers' intent therein. The Constitution is the law of the land and the standard by which each case should be measured. It is my intention as a Justice to be fair and open-minded. I will afford each case the same scrutiny and thought.

He should not be required to answer questions pertaining to potential cases or issues. The Senate should look at whether Roberts can be trusted to serve on the highest court in the land; whether he is honest enough and has the strength of character not to impose his own feelings and views on the cases before the court. A straight up or down vote needs to be held after he has had a fair hearing to determine his fitness for the Court.

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HP Settles Recovery CD Lawsuit

I got my notice of the proposed settlement well over a month ago and the court just approved the settlement. I figured I'd post about it, not only because I am involved, but also because its making rounds a few places and I am opinionated when it comes to the whole Recovery CD/Hidden Partition.

When I purchased the HP system two years ago at Best Buy, there was nothing to indicate that Recovery CDs were not included in the box (as they had been with every other computer I had ever purchased). When I first fired up the PC, I was prompted to create the recovery CDs. I attempted to run the CD creation process, following the directions on screen. Long story short, it didn't work. I made several calls to HP expressing my difficulties and finally managed to get a supervisor to authorize shipment of recovery CDs at no charge. I was relieved two weeks later that I had gone through the hassle of getting the discs, cause I needed them to reinstall the OS after a few patches didn't install correctly.

Fast forward to this past winter when I was obtaining some new Gateway laptops for the company I work for. I (again) was not informed ahead of time that they were moving away from shipping Recovery CDs. Their CD creating program did not work either (if I recall correctly, no matter what happened during the creation process, the verification process always failed - which stopped you at Disc 1). I still have not gotten them to ship CDs to me, though I am told you can order Discs with new systems now (similar to the Dell setup). After about a week, Gateway did supply me with a patched Recovery CD creator which skipped the verification stage and allowed me to burn the discs I needed.

As an IT Manager and heavy computer user, I see hard drives fail constantly. I understand there are problems with longevity of optical media and people misplacing discs, but I cannot understand why the PC manufacturers are getting away from including recovery CDs. If they want to include the separate partition, that's fine. But consumers should be told this ahead of time and given the option (both at the time of purchase and after the fact) to purchase Recovery Media. As Ed Bott, author and computer journalist, points out:

If you use Windows XP, you should have a Windows CD. Period. (One good reason: In Windows XP Home Edition, the Windows Backup program is in the Support folder and isn't installed by default. Backup is a good thing.)

PC Manufacturers like Gateway, Sony, Dell, and HP need to get back to the tried and true Recovery Discs. One for the OS, one for drivers, and as many for bundled applications as they need.

To find out if you are eligible for this settlement, click here.

Engadget: HP settles hidden partition suit
Ed Bott: Hidden partition vs. a real Windows CD
Dukes/Dolan v. Hewlett-Packard Settlement Web Site

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First Birthday

Henry's first birthday party was this past weekend. Here's some pictures of the little guy enjoying the spot light.

(Click on these thumbnail to see the full-size picture)

Pictures of the kids

Kris took the kids to the mall last week and had pictures taken.