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Sunday, March 07, 2004

I found a nice RSS news feed reader for Windows - It's called RSS NewsTicker, and it's beerware (which is practically free considering the price of a brew). If you like the product, you buy the guy a beer [He accepts Paypal on his website]. Anyways, while the application isn't necessarily the most robust, it does work properly on Windows XP with multiple users, and the application bar handling is well integrated into the desktop thanks to his use of the .NET Framework. ICQ properly resized around it, and you can configure it to be on top or bottom of the screen. I wish he'd add drag and drop for adding feed URLs, but hopefully he'll put that into a future version. So, if you're a news junkie like I am, and you want an out-of-the-way news ticker, try it out.
posted by Rich Gautier 3/7/2004


Saturday, March 06, 2004

Oh, for two days in a row I was down to 211 pounds this week. Still on the Atkins Diet and going strong. I don't know if I'll make my goal of 175 by August, but I'm already looking and feeling much better. Sugar-free jello is a godsend. I've used that to stop some cravings, and also have used several brands of no-carb or low-carb bars to get rid of chocolate needs. I've also let myself start drinking a 20oz bottle of Diet Coke or Diet Pepsi. And what's REALLY amazing is that I've gotten used to the aftertaste.
posted by Rich Gautier 3/6/2004

As for that RSS problem - it looks like it's going to be a problem. Seems you can't load XML from a second website using the XML control, because of possible cross-site scripting issues. So I'm just going to have to find another way to do what I wanted with the "Reading List".
posted by Rich Gautier 3/6/2004

I LOVE my wireless LAN. I finally got set up with wireless LAN at home (which is weird, because I'm a network geek). I spent about $40 on a wireless router (after rebate) and bought one of those USB dongle thingies that does 802.11b. Then I borrowed an old laptop from work, and I'm doing the wireless thing. I would have started sooner, but I had been looking at the ViewSonic 15" AirPanel, and it was just too expensive. It's a shame, because it's a really nice product. But $680 (on Ebay) is just too much to pay. Considering that for $800 you could purchase a laptop and the wireless adapter was only $29.95, the AirPanel just didn't make sense even at that cut-rate price.

But now, I don't know how I lived without. I'm writing in my blog this morning from my kitchen table and sitting next to my wife. ("Peace", she says.) At least I don't have to go downstairs and isolate myself from the family. The computer is becoming part of daily life, and is just another tool. Having the net without wires is definitely going to be a paradigm shift for me.
posted by Rich Gautier 3/6/2004


Wednesday, March 03, 2004

The new look is in. You're looking at it. I wanted something simple, yet functional. I also wanted to rid myself of all the distractions on the page. One thing I may revisit is utilizing RSS feeds in popups that you can move your mouse over (on the left) to show headlines from the RSS feeds of my Reading List. Since I'm not finished with that, I thought I'd just go ahead and put up the new page anyway. Enjoy. It's not based on tables, but rather on absolute positioning and absolute sizing of the left and right columns. I've also gone with formatting based on CSS instead of inline code. It make the HTML code much easier to read. Another step will be to move the archives into the same type of format, but because of how I've structured the blog, I'm going to have to hack in something. No matter, that's why this is a hobby.

Finished Calculus this week - that is the last class for my Associates of Arts in Computer Programming. I'll pick up my degree in May (provided I passed the final exam, which I did...) and should finish the four-year program in December.

posted by Rich Gautier 3/3/2004


Tuesday, March 02, 2004

It has often been surmised that Science Fiction authors are the true innovators of science, and that their dreams are merely fulfilled by the desire, brains and money of the powerful. Jules Verne wrote about space travel and submarining long before any were possible. The countdown itself is an artifact a piece of fiction regarding the launch of extra-terrestrial vehicles*. If this is true, then the science fiction author of today scopes out the possibilities of tomorrow. Whether or not they get their facts straight as to the 'how', they show the possibilities.

A man who might not consider himself to be a science fiction author is Jeffrey Harrow of The Harrow Group. He has been writing about 'what-if' for many many years. Go to his web site and read his musings, because as we can see by recent events, even his imagination is being tamed into realistic science today. Take a look at this article about printing human organs on a modified ink-jet printer. This is real science following the musings that I have heard Jeff talk about in his column for years. While they have not exactly printed out a heart for your quadruple-bypass neighbor yet, this is exactly what they're studying this stuff for.

Jeff has been discussing both 3-d printers and biological merging of computing and science for a long time. His articles are on the cutting edge, thanks to his alert readers. If you don't read his website, you should start.
posted by Rich Gautier 3/2/2004

You're not paranoid if they actually are out to get you! Look at this article about RFID tags in new $20 bills. That's right, folks, the government IS actually tagging your money with electronic signatures! No longer is this the worry of the paranoid, but the worry of us all. According to the article, the right eye of Andrew Jackson in every bill was where the burning started. RFID technology is a unique chipping methodology that reacts to radio signals and transmits an identifying number when hit at the right frequency. Are these folks paranoid, or is this merely due to a smudge of metallic anti-counterfeiting in the bills? Looking at a $20 bill in my own pocket shows a rather strong smudge just above Andrew's right eye, but it looks way too small to be hiding a chip in there. I think it's more likely that what these folks have burned was a small metallic deposit used for anti-counterfeiting.

posted by Rich Gautier 3/2/2004


Saturday, February 28, 2004

What a 'sweeeet' idea - charging eligible voters a fee for not voting. Notice this article from an Australian news report. Ignore for the moment the human interest side of the story (e.g. that the woman's excuse was that she was having group sex, so was too busy to vote). Note that no-show eligible voters are being fined $37.50 for not participating in the election. I think this would be a PERFECT source of additional revenue for the federal government. Failure to vote in a federal election could carry a similar penalty in the United States. Administered by the same agencies that register you to vote in the first place, it would either improve voter turn-out, or act as an 'Aloof Tax'. What do you think?
posted by Rich Gautier 2/28/2004


Wednesday, February 25, 2004

On the scope: millimeter waves and T-rays. May start a new section on 'up and coming tech'...stay tuned.
posted by Rich Gautier 2/25/2004


Monday, February 23, 2004

Thanks to the LangaList (and maybe to a slashdotter originally?) for the information at this link regarding a NIST study of DVD and CD life. If you're archiving important information (business OR personal! think digital photos!) on DVD or CD media, you should probably read this information before you expect it to last you for the long run.
posted by Rich Gautier 2/23/2004

Aha! Mystery solved! Mike's List linked to my website in Mike's List #78 from 3 February That explains the hits from his site. The DHTML behaviors on Tripod appear to be turned on on at least one of their servers, explaining the many hits to If my guess is right, then DHTML behavior is seriously broken in its currently supported form on the client side(s). It should not be necessary for the client to continually download the behaviors from the support files. It generates way too much traffic. While I don't know what would be better, I'm going to integrate the behaviors into the HTML file itself and see if I can make that work a bit nicer.

When I have time that is. Looks like I'm about a week behind on my Calc homework. I need to catch up on that, since it's the ONLY thing standing between me and an Associate's Degree in April. It was a busy weekend and I never had the chance to update my site look. I've been too busy checking out links on GeekNews and SlashDot. Just this morning, I was reading about a robot-PC on SlashDot. What's nice about this piece is that it brings robotics down to the PC hobbyist level. Not every PC geek is going to be a servo-motor geek (I know I'm not...I can never finish a project). If they make the programming easy enough, building the robotics into the case may just make the low-utility robot something that hobbyists with ca$h will want to buy.

Speaking of buying things. I went to the mall this weekend, and poked around at Best-Buy and some other stores. It wasn't crowded at all, and as for myself, I didn't buy anything. It just seemed kind of boring. There doesn't seem to be anything 'new' on the horizon. The marketplace seems ripe for 'The Next Big Thing'. Don't know what it will be, but whatever it is, consumers seem ready to spring into action on the next fad item. Have any ideas? Email me...

Jeff Harrow's newsletter came out this weekend. There's a big piece about RFID technology in there. While not as futuristic as many of Jeff's pieces, it's interesting reading about a technology that has the potential to change the business world. Considering what I was reading (Money magazine) about WalMart affecting the economy in the past few years with average NEGATIVE INFLATION of 3% on its pricing shelf, and their own RFID plans (Wired), I can see businesses using this technology to further control back-end pricing.
posted by Rich Gautier 2/23/2004


Friday, February 20, 2004

TRIPOD is still broken (well, unsupportive, anyway) - I'm going to forget about DHTML behaviors for the moment and just go ahead and put in the new design. I'll probably have it up by the end of the weekend. (I'm going to work on my Calculus homework first.)

Hmmm, a thought, before I lose it - 3 dimensions of space, another dimension of time - what if Douglas Adams was right and another dimension is Probability. We could someday invent a probability drive that would allow us to move along the probability scale, allowing us to hit our enemies with lightning (struck by lightning odds 1:3000 over your lifetime), or allow us to win the lottery! And according to some quantum theories, it might be possible, because we'd merely end up in another universe where it actually happened! Just had to record that thought for myself (before I forget it).
posted by Rich Gautier 2/20/2004

Our expectations are SO different from that of our ancestors. Every day, 3 or 4 people visit one of my web pages (the blog, or the archives). Usually, they're looking for something specific, and I've talked about it in the blog, so they end up here from a search engine. That's fine - but it's very low traffic. As I was browsing the blogs, I began to think that that's 3 NEW PEOPLE A DAY that I am meeting (or rather, that are meeting me). If you met 21 new people a week, you'd have a pretty full social life, wouldn't you? It was kind of interesting to suddenly have that thought. Think of the people who visit as potential friends or acquaintances and put faces behind those 'hits' and no longer is 21 hits a week chump change. It's a potential social kingdom! So, if you're visiting here for the first time - WELCOME! Send me an email just to say hi (link on the upper left of the home page if you're in an archive).

posted by Rich Gautier 2/20/2004

A few thoughts:

Shock Radio - Why do people listen to shock radio? Is it because of the vulgar references and the 'What will he say next?' aspect, or is it merely because it's different from the standard music format? I started thinking last night about the possibility for a 'TechTV' format radio station, and whether or not people would listen to it. In doing so, I tried to think of the different radio formats that were not music. The biggest examples I could think of were shock radio, all news, and advice shows. Here in the DC area, as examples, on WJFK radio we have Howard Stern, Don and Mike, Ron and Fez in the 'shock jock' categories - each with risque shows with topics targeting mostly male audiences. Then we have NPR and WTOP, the newsy radio stations. There's also 'news shows' on WJFK around the shock jocks. So far, I haven't heard any 'Dr. Laura' type shows in the local market that have been successful.

So, what would happen if we started a channel that resembled SlashDot? A radio station dedicated to the thinking man without a political, religious or sexual slant at all. Talk radio is a great format in that it can keep the listener glued to the station, but instead of random news, interspersed with political news and sports, we would forego these subjects, and stick to technology. It would be a techno-geeks all day sucker. ::shrug, another idea I don't have time for::
posted by Rich Gautier 2/20/2004


Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Someone has a bad net crawler, and it isn't me. Looking at logs for my web page (which gets very few hits as it is), I noticed over the past week two separate incidents where there have been multiple (like, say 50 and 100 at a time...) requests in a row from some crawler looking for the file Unfortunately for the crawler, the htc is a DHTML behavior file, which Tripod does not serve up with the correct MIME type on most of its servers [I think I caught it acting correctly ONCE]. Something in the file (or perhaps in this page itself) causes the web crawler to get this link over and over and over. Here's an example from the logfile:

XXX.YYY.ZZ.A - - [12/Feb/2004:20:36:00 -0500] "GET /rgautier/ HTTP/1.1" 304 - "-" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; .NET CLR 1.1.4322; MSIECrawler)"

And there was another one with the referrer of (although Mike doesn't link to me that I know of). So, if you're a robot - sorry, you'll need some more smarts...

It looks like the MSIECrawler hits come from someone who has subscribed to my web page (little old me? Wow! Shocker!). However, the links that had MikesList in it didn't have the MSIECrawler in the reference data (They said 'Rich's XP', which is curious because my name is Rich, but the IP address wasn't from anywhere that I connect from and I don't recall having a machine that I called 'Rich's XP')
posted by Rich Gautier 2/17/2004


Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Do you subscribe to any online newsletters? You know, email newsletters? For the longest time, I was a member of many different ones, until it got to be too much for me. I've long since stopped reading LockerGnome and other such lists, not due to a lack of quality (Nay, this is a high quality newsletter), but just because I don't have the time on a daily basis to go through TONS of email.
However, there are TWO lists that you should subscribe to, and never turn off, especially if you're into technology. One of these is Mike's List, and the other is The Jeffrey Harrow Technology Report. Jeff has been writing his synopsis of the future for a few years, and Mike has been scoping out 'new stuff' for a shorter period of time (still a few years).
What I like about both lists is that they only come out occassionally, and they're both full of new stuff that shows just where we are going on the technology front. What!?!? You're still reading? Get a move on - go subscribe!
posted by Rich Gautier 1/28/2004

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