March 2004 Archives

March 2, 2004

X-Arcade Sticks

I consider myself a fighting game least as far as the 2-D ones are concerned. A few odd 3-D ones have caught my eye in the past, but I always find my way back to Street Fighter or the King of Fighters series. This is all well and good except for one thing: I'm terrible at them. Beyond terrible actually. In fact, I may consider myself one of the worst players in the modern world when it comes to the genre. This in no way however kills my love for them and is exactly why I was a candidate for one of these gorgeous 1-player X-arcade sticks. Though there are some minor problems with the stick, you really can't go wrong if your one of those people who is still clinging to the games of old. Right out of the box, the X-Arcade screams quality. From the flawless veneer finish to the solid wood used to create it, these guys have spared no expense.The buttons have an exremely solid feel and the sticks spring loaded recoil is unparralleled. The box is also very professional looking and the packaging didn't allow for any movement during the shipment. Speaking of which, the X-Arcade arrived at my door in 2 days....and that's only because that Monday was a holiday. This was with their offer of free ground shipping yet! My only complaint was with Airborne who obviously decided my package wasn't important enough and let it sit on my front porch for over 2 hours in freezing temperatures without so much as a knock or a doorbell ring. Jerks. The stick features 9 face buttons, enough to support any of the major consoles. Button maps are avaialble with the included nstruction book. 2 buttons are featured on the side, just underneath the top panel. These serve their purpose of replicating a pinball machine accurately for whatever video pinball games you may have laying around. Another button on the back is for programming moves into the peripheral. 3 banks are available and can be set to any button. Adapters are available for various consoles from the PS2 to the Dreamcast. After pulling it's 10-pound frame from it's box and connecting my added PS One/PS2 adapter (which was also free!), I got to work with Street Fighter Colletion 2. It's amazing, but even with it's size, this stick is still perfect for placing on your lap. If it's too much, the rubber grips on the bottom should hold things in place on a sturdy table just fine. Just by holding it, you can feel how much care goes into making this stick. Some arcade machines don't feel this solid. Finally getting into the game, I noticed some problems. Most notably, the dragon-punch motion that is so familair with fighting game fanatics, is nearly imposible to pull off without some unhuman-like reflexes. Half-circles, 360's, and charge motions have never been easier. I have finally become deadly with Guile. Sadly, trying to make anything out of Ken and Ryu is an excersise in frustration. A quick change of games to Street Fighter Alpha 3 and then to King of Fighters '99 proves futile. I have no trouble controlling the combatants in Soul Calibur II, but it's not exactly what I bought the stick for either. A quick check of their website shows a way to make the stick a bit easier to use. By bending some of the metal contacts, response time becomes quicker. After doing so, the ratio of hit dragon punches to missed is better. Probably 3 out of 5 times at best compared to the one out of five previously. Still, not very good considering the price. However, my complaint is meager. The X-Arcade is meant to be taken apart and replaced with any arcade machine parts of your choosing (as evident by instructions on their site). After ordering a "competition stick" from HAPP (, all things are forgiven. Moves come off without a hitch and the looseness of the included stick is gone. It would've been nice to maybe have the option of what type of stick you would want to be included depending on what you'll be using it with most, but the added price of a new stick is minor for the overall quality. If your not terribly into fighting games, the above complaints probably won't even affect you anyway. Playing Pac-Man is a snap with the 4-way controls (easily switched from 8 after opening the bottom panel). Playing MAME is actually fun now compared to my old, horribly innacurate, Gravis Pro. Also note their customer service is outstanding. I recieved an E-mail response within 12 hours with a professional answer to my question. No, I'm probably not any better a fighting games than I was previously thanks to the stick, but they are alot more fun to play. The price is certainly something that will keep this accessory in the hands of the hardcore, but you get what you pay for. You will NEVER get this quality from a generic stick bought off a store shelf. Better yet, this is the only stick you'll ever need as they promise to support all upcoming consoles. In theory, you'll save money in the long run. This is a must own, but fighting game fans need to be aware of the minor added cost to make their games more playable.

The Pita Pit

There is a new place in Bowling Green to eat lunch. The Pita Pit opened in December, I have recently been there for the first time, and its another good choice for lunch. You get a filling pita, chips and a drink for $7 bucks or so, very similar to Subway's pricing. Of course now we have The Pita Pit, Subway, and W. G. Grinders all next to each other. Better for me, all 3 are right next to West Hall, where I work. Oh, Barry's Bagels is gone, it has been for a few years now. The Pita Pit is moved into that vacancy. Oddly though, the Barry's Bagels sign is still up. Who knows why.

If ICANN can't, who can?

A lawsuit accusing a key Internet agency of stymieing innovation could lead to fundamental changes in the way the global network is run, threatening an already tenuous balance between commercial and public interests online. VeriSign last week lashed out against the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), saying the group violated antitrust laws by repeatedly preventing Mountain View, Ca.-based VeriSign from launching new services based on its control over the master database for Net addresses that end in .com and .net. On one level, the lawsuit represents a straightforward business dispute between two powerful groups, the nonprofit ICANN and the for-profit VeriSign, over terms in a densely worded contract. On another, though, it stands as the first outbreak of public hostilities between the twin titans that effectively control the domain name structure that is the defining characteristic of the Internet. The result could have a long-term impact on e-mail, Web browsing, and how domain names are bought and sold. Source: C|Net

Marge Schott Dies at 75

CINCINNATI -- Marge Schott, the tough-talking, chain-smoking owner of the Cincinnati Reds who won a World Series but was repeatedly suspended for offensive remarks, died Tuesday, a hospital spokeswoman said. She was 75. Schott was hospitalized about three weeks ago for breathing difficulties and repeatedly needed treatment for lung problems in recent years. Christ Hospital spokeswoman Dona Buckler did not release a cause of death. Source: ESPN Classic

March 3, 2004

The Passion of The Christ

I saw this movie this past Sunday, and before I forget to post anything about it, I want to make a couple comments. I think TIME put it best with the title "The goriest story ever told" (March 2004 issue). It is the goriest story ever told, and Mel Gibson made sure it was shown in full detail. When Peter got his ear torn off, and seeing Jesus put it back on again, that set the tone for the entire movie. During the whipping scene, when they get out the whips with the metal claws on them, that was a rather visceral feeling when you heard them rip the thing out of his back, and saw the flesh fly (I wasn't ready for that one, and neither was the audience in the theatre). And then there was the spear at the end of the Crucifixion scene. This movie was bloody, and gory. Did it need to be? I don't know, but I think it was used for a purpose. And it did not hurt the film. The Passion was bloody and gory, but I was expecting worse from what I had heard. Maybe it is because I have been desensitized by the media and Hollywood, but the blood and gore in this movie did not bother me. The production values were very high, the costumes and sets were very nice. The small amount of effects shots were very good I thought. The spear scene at the end of the movie did not look great, but it was so bloody that most people were not scrutinizing it at all. I thought the teachings and healing of the life of Jesus would have been a bigger part of the movie, but they were only short flash backs triggered during His torture through out the movie. The movie centralized on what happened after the Last Supper. But it was good that the movie did not go broader, the movie was not too long, not too short. It told enough of the story to tell the story well. When we grow up and learn about Jesus and his life through Sunday School, church or what not, we see these carvings and stained glass windows of specific moments from His life. It was amazing seeing these scenes acted out, very closely I might add, to that of what we remember from church. I thought that was the best part of the movie. Another shining point of this movie is the fact that, in my opinion, it was not so much propaganda as other 'Jesus" movies and shows have been. There were no cheesy beams of light, people were not falling over at the sight of Jesus. The story was treated very well, and it was not Hollywood-ized either. No one would want to see that either. The acting was great. The subtitling was not a problem. I was leery about the subtitles. But they did not bother me. They did a great job on those. I am really glad to see this movie has done so well at the box office. 135 million at the box office so far is some feet. Especially for a religious movie. Considering that The Passion has been getting bad press for over a year now, I think more people went to see if they would hate it. Some things in the movie were questionable, debatable, controversial. For example did the nails go in His hands or wrists? There were a couple things like that I picked up. But I think Gibson went with the more widely accepted views, or the way I like to put it, what most people were taught when they were a kid. There is no doubt that this was a very hard movie to see through from beginning to end, and saying it is thanks to the passion of Mel Gibson is surely no pun. All the hard work payed off in spades, regardless of the full on barrage of media in his face through every moment until, and even after opening day. I could go on and on here, I thought it was a great movie, a great story that Gibson told very well. I liked the actress who played Satan, I thought she did a good job. James Caviezel played a good Jesus, Monica Bellucci (Matrix Reloaded, Revolutions) played Mary Magdalene well. I thought the entire cast, Maia Morgenstern as Mary, they all did very well. If you are thinking of skipping this movie because of the blood and gore, don't let that stop you. This was a great film and one you should not miss. I might suggest that you don't take your kids to see this movie. Buy the DVD so they can watch it when they grow up. I only say that because of the sometimes horrific scenes of torture. I give this movie a solid A.

Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ

Propaganda? Anti-Semitic? Religious Splatter Film? Brilliant work of faith? Reviews, news, thoughts here. Have you seen it? What do you think? Be sure to see what others at thought about The Passion of The Christ.

Disney Shareholders Give Resounding No Confidence Vote On Eisner

Roy Disney and Stanley Gold Say Vote Is Clear Message That Eisner Must Go Philadelphia, PA - March 3, 2004 -- "The resounding 'No Confidence' vote cast by shareholders/owners of The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) has sent a clear and undeniable message that dramatic change is needed now and that Michael Eisner must go," Roy E. Disney and Stanley P. Gold said today. Messrs. Disney and Gold said that their estimated tally of votes indicates that Walt Disney Company shareholders withheld more than 40% of votes from Michael Eisner for re-election as a Director of the Company, and 20% from George Mitchell, John Bryson and Judith Estrin as Directors. "It has been suggested that Mr. Eisner's withhold vote is really a referendum on the separation of the jobs of chairman and CEO," they stated. "While we agree that this is a necessary action, and the job should be split, we don't believe Mr. Eisner should have either job." As Patrick McGurn of Institutional Shareholder Services said, "This is unprecedented. This is beyond a referendum on corporate governance. This is a referendum on Eisner's continued presence at the company." ISS earlier recommended a "no" vote on Mr. Eisner. Source: I could elaborate and go into my opinion on Eisner, but I wont. He just has to go.

March 4, 2004

Senior citizen food fight injures 3

No charges filed in scuffle over lettuce at retirement home salad bar WINTER HAVEN - A brawl at the salad bar at Spring Haven Retirement Community sent three senior citizens to Winter Haven Hospital Sunday. Administrators say a 62-year-old resident who threw the first punch will leave the senior residence. All participants waived criminal action in the incident. No serious injuries were reported. "This is the first time in 25 years I've ever heard of something like this happening," said a shaken Jill Andrew, Spring Haven spokeswoman. According to police, the battle erupted after fellow diners accused the man of foraging among the lettuce leaves on the salad bar. Words were exchanged leading to the ballroom boxing match. Witnesses say the man punched an 86-year-old accuser in the face and bit a 78-year-old resident on the right arm. The man's 80-plus-year-old mother told police that her son, "only likes a certain kind of lettuce." Others accused him of playing with the salad greens while inspecting the crop. His mom conceded, "that it did appear that he was playing with the food." She was slightly injured trying to help her son during the struggle, police said. The lettuce lecture was actually the last straw in a lengthy history of bad blood, Andrew said. At least one resident was injured when he was knocked to the ground by diners fleeing the battleground, according to police. Source: Now if this were Bob Knight we wouldn't bat an eyelash at it. You don't see a story like this every day.

MS Word File Reveals Changes to SCO's Plans

from the now-this-is-just-scary dept. "Ah, the joys of 'track changes' in MS Word: metadata in a document obtained by Cnet reveals some earlier plans by SCO's legal team. Among them: to sue in February (their original target date), to sue Bank of America, to 'impound ... all Linux software products in the custody or control of Defendant through the pendency of these proceedings', and to accuse in court 'Linus Torvalds and/or others' of 'inclusion into one or more distributions of Linux with the copyright management information intentionally removed.' Good stuff." Also, SCO has announced a few new licensees including Computer Associates. Source: Slash Dot

Losing Control of Your TV

The latest anti-piracy move will prevent you from making high-quality copies of broadcast TV programs. And the new "broadcast flag" technology enables all manner of other restrictions. In the future, the Motion Picture Association of America will control your television set. Every TV sold in the United States will come equipped with an electronic circuit that will search incoming TV programs for a tiny electronic “flag.” The MPAA’s members will control this flag, putting it into broadcast movies and television shows as they see fit. If the flag is present, your TV will go into a special high-security mode and lock down its high-quality digital outputs. If you want to record a flagged program, you’ll have to do so on analog tape or on a special low-resolution DVD. Any recording will be limited to analog-quality sound. This security measure is not designed to protect the television from viruses or computer hackers—it’s designed to protect TV programs from you. Source: MIT Technology Review Oh lord its the VHS tape all over again. And we all know how devastating the VHS tape has been on the industry. Has the MPAA gone too far? What do you think?

Defending your Email Address

As you may, or may not know, evil spam harvesting bots collect email addresses on web pages. There are a few ways to defend yourself. Unfortunately this is yet another thing to think about. You can put your email address as an image (non clickable) in the page, you could do something like user [at] domain [dot] com, but both of these solutions to the problem do not allow the end user the ease of getting ahold of you. You can also only put a form on the site, but this forces someone to use the form (some people would rather use an email client). This is a great way to handle the problem, but your email address is still hard coded into HIDDEN form fields (in most cases). The best solution for this method is using PHP (although PHP is not always available), thus your email address is never in the source code. There is a way to display your email address using javascript to perform a "document.write" and concatenate parts of code and variables together to make the mailto link. This is by far the slickest solution. There is one glaring problem though. This solution does not comply to usability and accessibility standards. It does not pass Government Section 508, or Bobby guidelines. But if usability or accessibility compliance is not your thing, then this javascript tip sure is slick.
<script language="javascript"> <!-- var contact = " Ken Edwards" var email = "ken" var emailHost = "" document.write("<a href=" + "mail" + "to:" + email + "@" + emailHost + ">" + contact + "</a>") //--> </script>
This script can be put anywhere in the page, it does not have to be in the head region. If you put it in your head region, you will have to break the script up into two, one for the vars and one for the document.write. But wait, there's more! The best way to defend your email address (other then not having it on a web page altogether) is to ASCII encode it. Web Browsers render ASCII, and thus this method does not hinder the usability (or accessibility) in any way. Spam bots, as far as I know, do not know how to decode ASCII yet. It would take some smart programming, and a lot of processing power for them to do that. I strongly suggest you ASCII encode your email addresses on your web pages. Only the @ and the . (period) need to be encoded. &#64; = @ &#46; = . (period) There is a nice PHP script I have found that will encode your entire email address. This does not work that well I have found, so I don't recommend it. I think that ASCII encoding your email address is the best way to defend yourself from SPAM. Please send this to anyone else who would benefit from the ASCII encoding trick. SPAM is one of those problems that affect everyone, even if you are not directly involved. I think everyone should use this trick on their web sites. It would no doubt cut down on the amount of SPAM accumulated because of harvesting bots. UPDATED
In Response to Neil T'a comments: Excellent point about accessibility. For a moment there I was not thinking of accessibility, I was just thinking of my loathing for SPAM, and how much of it I know I receive because of my email address being on web pages. I am not totally sure a screenreader could not read the name. Unless of course the screenreader did not have javascript enabled. But when you are worried about screenreaders then you are also concerned with Bobby and Section 508 compliance. So this trick is not for you. And who these days turns JavaScript off? I couple years ago I would have agreed with that statement. But not today. For university or government sites you would not use this javascript, I doubt it would pass Bobby or Section 508 standards. I would imagine ASCII encoding would fly though. I was right, Bobby did not like this. UsableNet Lift (a service/product that checks usability and accessibility standards, including section 508) did not like it either. It suggested using a NOSCRIPT tag, but said that was not in the 508 spec. Lift had other issues other then the NOSCRIPT problem. I would not want to put a standard mailto: link in a NOSCRIPT tag though. Your email address is going to be written in the source of the page, thus, accomplishing nothing. So what have we learned here? This javascript method is not accessibility friendly. Does this matter? Nope, it sure doesn't, not for 99% of you. Lift gave a green light to the ASCII encoding trick. So this is the one I suggest using unless you don't care about the non javascript folks, or you are developing university or government sites. And if encoding the @ sign and the . (period) is not enough for you, then encode the entire thing! I like the user [at] domain [dot] com trick too, but that is as counterproductive as putting an image with your email address on the page.

March 5, 2004

Leaked Memo Says Microsoft Raised $86 million for SCO

Open source advocate Eric Raymond has published a document purporting to be an internal SCO memo confirming that Microsoft helped arrange financing for the company's jihad against Linux users to the tune of $86 million. The document below was emailed to me by an anonymous whistleblower inside SCO. He tells me the typos and syntax bobbles were in the original. I could not, when I received it, certify its authenticity, but I presumed that IBM's, Red Hat's, Novell's, AutoZone's, and Daimler-Chryler's lawyers could subpoena the original. On March 4th SCO, within 24 hours of publication, I received word from Steven J. Vaughan at that SCO had confirmed that the memo is legitimate.

Beyond Good and Evil X-Box Review

Very few games can combine so many different genres and still be succesful. Even fewer games can cram multiple genres together and become one of the most memorable games of an entire generation. Enter: Beyond Good & Evil. The brainchild from the same man who brought us the Rayman series, BG&E is one of the most spectacular looking, sounding, and playing video games of not only this generation of consoles, but could very well be a benchmark for future consoles as well. Beyond Good & Evil tells the story of Jade, a photographer/reporter for hire. Living with her Uncle Pey'j (a pig...yes, pig), Jade gets crossed up in a mystery surrounding a war affecting not only her world, but also the people trying to protect it. It's not a story filled with very many twists or turns, but there are moments that may come as a surprise. Jade will be tossed into numerous situations ranging from stealth, space combat, picture taking (!), racing, and straight out action. That's were the game shines. Each segment of the game, whether it be the boat races early on or the massive Star Wars-esque space battle near the finale, would be a great game on it's own. The stealth segments are simplified compared to the complicated schemes of say, Splinter Cell, but this gives them a feel of other more classic games in the genre. Jade has no night vision, can't distract guards, and certainly won't be sniping anybody. It's a refreshing change of pace from the "realisitc" stuff clogging the market. The simplistic AI may cause some people to shove this to the wayside, but the ones included here are much more gripping and tension filled than any other Metal Gear clone. Puzzles also make an appearance, but very few are challenging enough to stop a die-hard puzzle fanatic. This keeps the game moving briskly along throughout it's entire 10+ hour running time, never dragging itself down in complicated junk. Fighting segments are also in the same vein: Simple and easy to master. In fact, it's probably the best as far as beat-em-up games are concerned this entire generation. It's spectacular to watch Jade flail about taking out various undead creatures performing moves that would probably take 15 buttons presses in another game. As sort of a side game, their are 150 different species of animals scattered throughout the land. Taking a picture with Jades camera of each one earns cash. There are a numerous places to buy items across the games map and some of these are integral in completeing the game. Pearls are another (and rare) form of currency accepted by the Mammago garage which can help increase your vehicles attributes. The majority of the game has Jade teamed up with a partner who can help her out in certain situations. Uncle Pey'j helps out for the first half and then players are introduced to Double H, a hilarious take on generic heroes. Controlling them is context sensitive, but never requires anything more than pressing the "B" button. You can also ask them questions which adds to the storyline or may help you along if your stuck. Helping boost the game up even higher is it's intense cinematic feel. The entire game is letterboxed (though not in widescreen?) and every 3-D gaming graphical trick is used somewhere. Lighting effects are unparralleled, the textures never appear blocky or blurry, and the performances by the character models really heightens the atmosphere. The entire planet is fully realized down to the smallest of details and the productions values must've been incredible. Regardless of the cost, it was all worth it when it was finally put on the disc. As with the graphics, the sound is also spectacular. The voice acting gets special mention as it's some of the best heard to date. Full 5.1 sound support means you can hear everything coming at you from every angle and the fight sequences are inredibly immersive with the right equipment. Music, while fairly sparse, is always welcome. The theme in the Akuda bar is addictive and you can't help but groove along with it. Is 10 hours too short for a game of this type? After growing up in a generation of games where the average actioner lasted no more than an hour, not at all. The only real problem is the length of the side games (like the boat racing and space battle) which are more of a tease than anything. Lucasarts could learn a few things about how to make a Star Wars flight sim just by playing this one. The only other minor quibble is the camera which can prove to be bothersome once in a while, but almost never in a life or death scenario. It's also a shame that after the cliffhanger ending we may never get a sequel since the game sold so poorly across all platforms. Beyond Good & Evil is one of those games so good, you'll rant and rave about it to everyone you know until they either buy it or you drive them criminally insane. It harkens back to a day in video games when you'd replay a game countless times simply because it's fun, not because your forced to collect crystal #374,987 to get a "real" ending. It's simplicty at it's finest and a very drab, dark world if we are never treated to a sequel.

Dark Deal: 4GB Microdrive for about $200

You can get this tiny hard drive for less than $200 (MSRP: $499 with a PC Card adapter). This deal requires a bit of a hack. First, purchase a Creative MuVo 2 for $199 and then disassemble it. Inside, you will find the Hitachi 4GB Microdrive. There are a few more steps, so before you get started, visit these sites. Source: The Screen Savers

Martha, Martha, Martha!

Martha Stewart may soon be forced to don prison-issued pinstripes -- definitely not a good thing. The domestic doyenne was found guilty Friday on all four counts against her stemming from her stock-dumping trial: conspiracy, obstruction of justice and two counts of "making false statements." Stewart faces up to five years in jail and a $250,000 fine on each count. As a first-time offender, Stewart will likely not serve the full 20 years; however, most legal experts expect her to do some time behind bars. Source: E! Online So all the snickers and jeers ( we have had for years about how well her prison cell is going to look, they are probably all going to come true now. Now I know its been a running gag for a while now, but I want to see Martha Stewart Living Behind Bars! I would pay for a subscription for that. Wouldn't you? I mean, what else would she do there?

iPod mini sells out

USA Today reports that Apple's new iPod mini is "a smash hit." Retailers are having trouble keeping the devices in stock, according to the report. When Apple announced the devices were shipping in February, the company said they already had 100,000 iPods on pre-order. The US$249 iPod mini was first introduced to attendees of Macworld Conference & Expo in San Francisco, Calif. in January, but it's only been available for purchase for a couple of weeks. The diminutive version of Apple's eminently popular MP3 player sports credit card-sized dimensions but uses the same user interface to control up to 4GB of music, or about 1,000 songs. It's Mac and PC-compatible like its bigger, larger-capacity siblings. Source: MacCentral So is this a nose turned up to the critics?

March 6, 2004

Volvo S40 Commercial

"animated driver on animated course" I believe Grand Tourismo was the game, I could be wrong, racing is one genre I do not like. But the new Volvo S40 commercial uses an animated driver and an animated course. So shit sherlock! We are used to seeing the "professional driver, closed track" disclaimer on all the car commercials these days, but "animated driver on animated course?" The S40 commercial goes something like this: driver is driving around curves on a track, then they show an interior shot, the "animated driver on animated course" disclaimer shows at the bottom, and then the driver takes a few flips off the course, then gets out (unscathed, of course). Come on people! It might look pretty, but its a VIDEO GAME! It is not reality. I can understand the need to have the disclaimer to cover their collective ass for the horde of recent commercials that have a REAL driver on a REAL course driving like a lunatic. But this type of disclaimer on an animation from a video game just shows the hoops that legal departments have to go through these days. Its just pathetic. This type of disclaimer reminds me of Bill Engvall's "Here's Your Sign" bit where he pokes fun at the outrageous warning signs on products.

Interviewing Graduate Students

ME: "I conducted 3 interviews today." FRIEND: "Oh yea, who did you interview." ME: "Graduate students for our assistantship for the fall" FRIEND: "Wait, you interviewing graduate students? You are a college drop out." ME: "Any your point?" The fact that my recommendation will determine who gets the assistantship does come with a touch of irony. But I was doing this when I was a college student as well. So this is nothing new. This year my boss did not have time to help me with the interviews, so it was me in a solo effort. Since those who I interviewed might be reading this, I will not divulge my opinions on the contestants, er.. applicants. All I will say now is that I know without a doubt who I will recommend for the job. Conducting an interview is really hard work. And although I have been doing it for years now, interviewing both undergraduate and graduate students, I do not think I am that great at it. I usually rely on my boss to ask the hard questions. I have not struck out yet on my recommendations, so I have that going for me. If anything, I am now able to get a good sense of talent in an interview. While that is not the only part of determining a future employee, it has become the easiest thing for me to gauge. Another thing that I have learned to gauge is communication skills, and the fact that those skills trump talent in a tie breaker. Sometimes communications skills can even outweigh talent alone. You learn a lot more about the interview when you are the one asking the questions, and not answering them.

Spam is 10 Years Old

Today (5 March) marks the tenth anniversary of what is generally considered the first spam message. On this day in 1994, US law firm Canter and Siegel posted a message on several Usenet newsgroups advertising its services to people interested in participating in the US Green Card lottery. These days we'd barely bat an eyelid at such a message but at the time it was considered as appalling breach of "netiquette" - the unspoken rules of polite behaviour online. It was the cyber equivalent of trying to sell cellophane-wrapped roses in the middle of a crowded pub while the footy is on the TV. Source: The Register

Feds reject Eolas browser patent

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has issued a preliminary decision invalidating Eolas' claim to Web browser technology central to a case against Microsoft, which could save the software giant more than half a billion dollars in damages. If upheld, this also means Microsoft will not be required to make changes that would have crippled IE's ability to work with plug-ins like QuickTime and Flash. Eolas has 60 days to respond to the decision. The USPTO has only invalidated 151 patents out of nearly 4 million patents awarded since 1988. Source: C|Net I have written about Eolas, so if you are late to the party check these out: This latest news from the USPTO is huge news, and something I am very happy to hear. Eolas has 60 days to respond to the decision, so we will see more news within 2 months on this I am sure. This is not just big news for Microsoft, sure they would save a lot of money, but this is bigger news for the web developer communities.

Dubya's Hotmail Account

Here is a good laugh: Bush's Hotmail Account.

March 7, 2004

Dreamweaver MX 2004: The Missing Manual Is Out

O'Reilly has announced the release of "Dreamweaver MX 2004: The Missing Manual." Dreamweaver writer and teacher David Sawyer McFarland has teamed with Missing Manual creator David Pogue to produce a user guide for Dreamweaver MX -- this time for the 2004 release. The new book gives Web designers a variety of "tools and techniques they need to get their work onto the Web faster and more professionally." "Dreamweaver MX 2004: The Missing Manual" is published by Pogue Press and O'Reilly, and sells for US$34.95 (Amazon has it for $10 cheaper, not a sunrise there). This is for everyone who has asked me what book to buy to learn more about DW MX 2004. I own the DW MX Missing Manual book, and it is great. Every book in the Missing Manual series is great (especially those written by David Pogue).

Falcons survive and move on

Being offensively proficient can help a basketball team overcome any other shortcoming. Bowling Green's women's team's proficiency for two quick stretches Saturday enabled the Falcons to move into the second round of the Kraft Mid-American Conference women's tournament Wednesday at Cleveland's Gund Arena, the team's first trip to the second round since 2001... Source: BG News

LOTR Prequel (The Hobbit) in the Works

NEW YORK (AP) - Peter Jackson won't be returning to the Shire any time soon. The Oscar-winning director is planning to film "The Hobbit," the prequel to "The Lord of the Rings," trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien, but two studios must first fight over legal rights to the film. Jackson said New Line Cinema has the rights to make the movie, but MGM has the rights to distribute it. "I guess MGM's lawyers and New Line's lawyers are going to have a huge amount of fun over the next few years trying to work it all out," he told reporters recently in Los Angeles, according to AP Radio. "I'm obviously busy for a couple of years on 'King Kong' so those lawyers can just go at it for a long time." "The Hobbit" tells the story of Bilbo Baggins, who found the ring and eventually passes it on to his nephew, Frodo Baggins. Frodo's journey to Mount Doom to destroy the ring is the basis for the "Rings" books and films... Source: My Way News

Canton woman wins Web free speech case

Anyone who has thought about developing a Web site to gripe about a company owes Michelle Grosse some thanks. The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati ruled Friday that the Canton woman did not violate the law when she used the name of Lucas Nursery and Landscaping Inc. for a Web site she created to complain about the Canton nursery. Paul Levy, staff attorney with the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen, said the ruling bolsters the fight by consumer groups to stop corporations from snuffing out free speech on the Internet. "This is a very important case," said Levy. "This is a mainstream circuit court that said using the Internet and the name of the company to criticize a company is perfectly legitimate..." Source: Detroit Free Press Huh? How about all those sites like PayPal Sucks? Anyway, its good to see that free speech is still being upheld in the courts.

Finder co-designer not keen on current user interface

Steve Capps, co-designer of the Finder and much of the Mac's graphical user interface (as well as one of the folks behind the Newton OS), doesn't find much to excite him about either the Mac or Windows user interfaces these days. He's been designing and building user interfaces for over 25 years. Currently, he runs his own company, onedoto (pronounced "1.0"). The company was designed to develop user interfaces, software and hardware and provide services "that make communicating easier, richer and more personal." Source: MacMinute

A Recipe for Learning Web Design

I get asked "how can I become a Web designer" all to often, and guess what, thats how this article starts! Written by the same guy, D. Keith Robinson, who pens the Asterisk blog (which is a good read, by the way).
Web design and its related fields are still relatively young in the grand scheme of things and are still developing. One of the questions I’m often asked is, “how can I become a Web designer?” The answer isn’t simple. There are many different paths one can take to become a professional Web designer, each as different as the individuals that make up the Web design community.

Today, many successful Web professionals are self-taught and many of these have jumped into the Web via another industry. These are also the ones who are most likely to have been at it the longest. Only recently have we seen large numbers of people come straight into Web design from formal education programs. In most cases, this formal education alone doesn’t prepare one for success...

Source: Digital Web Magazine His point about web technologies changing so rapidly that traditional classes are not enough are spot on.

March 10, 2004

$1 million bill leads to arrest

COVINGTON, Georgia (AP) -- A Georgia woman who tried to use a fake $1 million bill to buy $1,675 worth of merchandise at Wal-Mart was arrested, and police later found two more of the bills in her purse. The U.S. Treasury does not make $1 million bills, but similar-looking currency is sold in some souvenir shops. The fake bill featured a picture of the Statue of Liberty, police said. "It looks real, but of course there's nothing real about this," said Stacey Cotton, police chief in Covington, about 30 miles southeast of Atlanta. "People do crazy things all the time." Source: CNN

Trip to Chicago

Monday and Tuesday I was in Chicago. I like visiting Chicago, but I don't think living or working their is my cup of tea. It is one of my favorite places to visit though. Monday night I got to go out with a friend who is working in Chicago right now. It was great to sit in a bar and BS all night. Tuesday Paul and I went to a full day workshop put on by Baseview and Adobe. But that is for another post. The best part of the show was the Jazzbox demo that worked with InDesign CS and InCopy CS. Jazzbox is a Baseview product, Windows only right now, it allows for multiple people to work on the same layout, double-truck even, as well as jump stories between separate documents. Very cool! Too bad we cant use it (Windows) or afford it (its really expensive). The second half of the show was a presentation by Russel Viers, an Adobe Certified Trainer. The topic was Quark to InDesign migration, and he was really funny. He did show a number of things that I did not know how to do, or how easy to do, in InDesign. He was very informative. He even had giveaways. Including some LOTR games, and 2 full copies of the Adobe CS suite.

March 11, 2004

Game Over on UPN Review

Gamers have been "treated" to their second most embarrasing moment of 2004. UPN debuted their CGI animated series "Game Over" tonight and sad as it is to say, I'm not sure if the Spike TV video game awards were worse or if this show just set a new low. Game Over gives us the useless story of the Smashnburns, a family of supposed video game characters living in, well, a video game world. Their neighbors are ninja types who are constantly brawling with other evil ninja types. The mother is a Lara Croft knock-off, the father a race car driver, and their kids are nothing. Yes, nothing. They are not a part of any game like their parents, and their inclusion in the show makes little or no sense. The glorious first episode (sarcasm people) which premiered this evening gives us a mish mash of plots, none of them which pan out or are entertaining in any way. We learn of how the family "adopts" their pet, a purple, horny, chain smoking dog thing that like looking at the mother through a peep hole in the shower. Oh wait, I get it! She like Lara Croft! It's a rip on all of those nude codes! That is just like, so funny (more sarcasm people)! The wonderful producers also gave us a plethora of unfunny fart jokes, a father bra shopping with his daughter, and the teenage boy who's pants drop a bit farther than neccesary to be cool. The only minor high point of this half hour mess were the brief cameos of a few actual game characters including Abe from the Oddworld series and Crash Bandicoot. Supposedly, there are 5 episodes of this show waiting to air for the next 5 Wendsday nights. I'd be seriously surprised if we see more than 3 of these actually air. It's a completely wasted attempt at what could've been a mildy amusing look at video game characters, but instead turned out to be worse than that stupid Old Navy commercial that aired during one of the commercial breaks. UPN, your market researchers blew it.

POPFile v0.21.0 Update in OS X

POPFile 0.21.0 has been released, and with very little trouble I have it up and running in Mac OS 10.3. The big change in this version is no more BerklyDB back end, POPFile now using a SQL database, and the easiest way to do this in OS X is to use SQLite. Thankfully Michael Tsai (SpamSieve author) has a built version of SQLite for Mac OS X. This means you do not have to compile and install it. The schema is available to use something like MySQL, but why bother? Next up you have some perl modules to install: These you will need to download, compile, and install. DBI needs to be installed before you can install the DBD::SQLite module. More on installing SQLite and these associated perl modules below. There are a couple really cool new features to POPFile, and in my opinion, worth the work to use them. They are:
  • The global options for Subject Modification, X-Text-Classification insertion and X-POPFile-Link insertion have been removed and replaced with individual options on a per bucket basis to give greater choice in configuring POPFile.
  • The 'unclassified' bucket is now visible in the UI so that you can see how many messages were unclassified, and configure header modification. This also means that unclassified messages are counted in the accuracy statistics; previously they were not counted which could have skewed the accuracy statistics if there were unclassified messages. -- This was something I had asked for, and I assume others did as well.
  • The history "page" bar has been simplified so that it uses a fixed amount of screen space, while making navigation easy. Filters and searches on the history are now persistent, for example you can click on the Buckets page and return to the History page without losing your filter or search settings.
  • The Buckets page has been modified to only show the 'distinct word' count per bucket and to show the total number of distinct words in the database. Previously we showed two counts with confusing titles: now we show the true number of words in the database, not the "word counts" (which was the number of times each word occurred).
  • We've recently seen spam start to use CSS to obscure messages and fool filters like POPFile; in response, this version of POPFile does analysis of CSS in HTML encoded messages. POPFile now correctly uses the SpamAssassin headers to make POPFile more efficient when used in conjunction with SpamAssassin. We now also look at TLDs (Top Level Domains) and store them as pseudowords (most useful for TLDs like .biz). -- My favorite new feature.
A couple warnings from the developer:
  • It's possible that you might see a drop in accuracy as your corpus gets trained up on the new anti-spam features. This drop in accuracy will be corrected once you've retrained POPFile a little.
  • I'm suggesting that if you have a corpus with GREATER THAN 30,000 unique words (you can figure this out from the Buckets page) please wait for v0.21.1.
I have written about POPFile on Mac OS X in the past, and if you are interested in POPFile, you should read my previous articles: Upgrading POPFile This assumes you have POPFile 0.20.0 or 0.20.1 installed in Mac OS X (10.3 recommended). If you have not installed POPFile in the past, please read the two above links. For example I am not discussing creating the StartupItem for POPFile here. You can find that information in the above links. Just a reminder: you need the Developer Tools installed to compile the perl modules. A) Download SQLite, DBI, DBD::SQLite, Digest::Base, Digest::MD5, and HTML::Tagset from the links provided above. Mount the SQLite disk image. B) Open Terminal and type this: sudo cp /Volumes/SQLite-2.8.13/sqlite /sbin/ (type admin password) C) Next you will be installing all the perl modules. These are all installed in the same manner. Remember that if you drag a folder from the finder to Terminal, it will write the path for you. So just type cd [space] and then drag the name of the folder (eg. DBD-SQLite-0.31) into the Terminal. Installing the module goes like this: In the Terminal, cd to the unpacked perl module's folder perl Makefile.PL [return] make [return] make test [return] make install [return] Now you need to install the new version of POPFile. 1) Shutdown POPFile, go to http://localhost:8080/ (or the port number you changed POPFile to) and click “Shutdown POPFile” 2) Backup your current POPFile install. This is at /Library/POPFile 3) Keep the folder /Library/POPFile/corpus handy, you will need to move this to the new version of POPFile. Also keep “popfile.cfg” which holds your settings. 4) Download the new version of POPFile, in this case, 5) Replace the /Library/POPFile folder with the newly downloaded version of POPFile. 6) Be sure to move the corpus folder over to /Library/POPFile and the popfile.cfg file, or you will have no buckets, magnets, or anything for that matter! 7) Open the Terminal and type/paste these two commands: cd /Library/StartupItems/popfile sudo ./popfile start (type admin password) 8) Depending on how big your corpus is, and how many buckets you have, it might take a minute or two to completely startup POPFile. You do not get any feedback on this in the Terminal. At first I thought I did something wrong, but just waited a couple minutes and I could finally load the POPFile web page. Now go to http://localhost:8080/ and you should see the default POPFile History page. 9) I suggest you setup your bucket preferences such as this: Subject Header Modification OFF, X-Text-Classification Header ON, X-POPFile-Link Header ON, Quarantine Message, OFF. Being able to turn these on and off on a bucket by bucket basis is a nice feature, but right now I am not using these individual preferences. The developer, John, even has a page devoted to gathering funds for a 12" PowerBook G4. He can test POPFile on Windows and Linux, but not on Mac OS X. So help him out and donate! I talked to John sometime late last year about an easier install for OS X (there is a very nice installer for Windows) but he has not had time to get to me on the subject. It sure would be nice to have the binaries for OS X all setup in a package. So why do I still use POPFile over SpamSieve? Well, I am not afraid of the command line, and I have used POPFile for a long time (I used it on my PC for sometime before installing it on my Mac). Also, not until recently did SpamSieve support the features I need for Apple Mail. SpamSieve might be easier to install then POPFile, but where is the fun in that? I have all my clients buy SpamSieve and use it. It is easy for me to install and support.

Writer of original Mac development doc talks OS X

Caroline Rose, the primary author and editor of the original Mac developer documentation, is no longer an Apple employee, but is still a big Mac fan. In spite of writing about technical things for a living, she says she's no "geek/technophile" and admits that she had to be "dragged kicking and screaming" to Mac OS X. "But now I'm a delighted Panther user," Rose told MacMinute. "I think Apple's doing a great job of making these inevitable transitions relatively painless, if not altogether enjoyable. I'd already seen much of this same software in action back when I was at NeXT, and I'm very pleased with its translation to the Mac." Source: MacMinute


This can has a great story behind it, and has hit many many newspapers and television stations. I'll preface this with the fact that I've been hearing odd things in my house at night. I'm betting on either a) aliens or b) ghosts, but it could be the fact that I'm usually drunk and forget to turn off various TV's and stereos. Upon heading to bed, I find that the can has MYSTERIOUSLY sprung open, as if to let out some inner demon. Yeah, I can just sense you geiger-counting/ghost-busting folk about to blow it right now with anticipation. With closer inspection you can see that this OPENED ITSELF. The tab you normally flip forward to open the can is NOT up, and instead the part that should be pushed down into the can has burst out, undoubtedly letting some little demon into my seriously unholy house. So I'm screwed for sure. Source: eBay Auction & & WSJ OpinionJournal

March 12, 2004

Kicking off the Academy Awards

Nearly 45 million viewers tuned in to the 76th Academy Awards, the biggest audience in several years, drawn in part by the return of go-to host Billy Crystal and the promise of a signature big show opening. And Crystal delivered, leading his musical monologue with a montage parody in which he is inserted — in full costume, and lack thereof — into actual scenes from nominated films. Crystal convincingly slays a giant elephant from “Lord of the Rings,” comes conspicuously between Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton in “Something’s Gotta Give” and climbs both “Cold Mountain” and the final mountain in “Rings,” complete with a relocated Kodak Theater and Hollywood sign. Director Troy Miller of LA-based Dakota Pictures shot much of the film against green screen backgrounds, using clever composites to convince the audience that Crystal was really “there.” And to convince themselves that the illusions were working, the Dakota crew used PowerBooks and a Power Mac G5 editing station running Final Cut Pro to create and view the shots on the fly, on set, as the footage was captured. Check out the process. Source: Apple Hot News Thanks to Rob for the link!

March 15, 2004

Dreamweaver MX 2004 7.0.1

Macromedia Dreamweaver MX 2004 (7.0.1) fixes known problems in Dreamweaver MX 2004. Some of these issues could cause Dreamweaver to perform slowly or occasionally crash, so all current Dreamweaver MX 2004 users should download and install this software update. It is no secret that Dreamweaver, for the last 3 versions, has been a dog running on the Mac in comparison to its Windows counterpart. It does not matter if its my PowerBook G4, or the PowerMac G5 at work, Dreamweaver is just dog slow. It screams in Windows. Why is this? For the most part, Dreamweaver is not a compiled application. There is very little that is not user extensible. I love this feature, I just wished the performance (on the Mac) was closer to the performance I see in the Windows version. I will take a slower DW on a Mac then a screaming fast DW in Windows any day though. Enter this 7.0.1 (thats DW MX 2004 for those counting) update. I see immediate results on the Mac. Its not as fast as the Windows version, but a huge improvement over 7.0.0. I can now open up and switch between 2 or more documents without it taking forever and a day to open the documents, and work on them all. I am really impressed with the speed improbements that Macromedeia has made. It makes using MX 2004 on a Mac a lot more tolerable then when MX 2004 was first released.

CeBIT to premiere USB Swiss Army Knife

It was bound to happen. Given that you can buy a Victorinox Swiss Army Knive with just about every gadget known to man, from horse-hoof awl to Hubble Space Telescope lens polisher, it's no real surprise that the company - in association with flash memory outfit Swissbit - is now offering cutting tools plus USB flash memory stick. The gadget will be unleashed on an incredulous world at CeBIT next week. The USB Swiss Army Knife is available with 64 or 128MB memory, plus all the usual extras - knife, corkscrew and tin-opener. The 64MB version will cost €55; the price of the 128MB version is tba. Source: The Register I want one! Check out the datasheet (PDF).

In a Blogging slump

You might of noticed that there were not many posts last week. It was Spring Break here and I decided to relax, and spend some time away from the computer. It was great, let me tell ya. But I am still not feeling like posting much. I got some new video games, and have been playing them online (PS2). I will at least get some mini reviews of those online sometime in the near future. But don't worry. That blogging bug may return at any moment now, its a rampant fever sometimes.

March 16, 2004

Apple seminar reveals Pixar's switch to OS X, G5s

Pixar is switching to Mac OS X and will be using Power Mac G5s for its work, according to a MacNN reader who attended Apple's Uncompressed for Final Cut Pro seminar in New York on Wednesday morning. In his Keynote presentation, Apple's Don Peebeles said that Pixar has used Linux and Intel-based architecture in 2003, but that Pixar was switching to Mac OS X and G5 workstations for its production work: "Peebles went on to say that this switch was 'a move that no doubt made common CEO Steve Jobs very happy.' According to Peebles, Pixar challenged Apple to come up with a way to review HD quality video on the desktop at a reduced file size but keeping the quality. Of course the technology they developed (with Pixar) was based on Wavelet compression and named accordingly, 'Pixlet'. With this impressive technology, the new G5 systems and OS X's Unix underpinning, all the pieces were in place." Source: MacNN So they may be switching to Mac OS X and the G5 for their post stuff. Final Cut Pro with the new pixlet codec. I bet they are not gonna change their animation workstations. Thanks to my Dad for the link :)

iTunes hits the 50 million song mark

Apple on Monday announced that its iTunes Music Store has seen more than 50 million songs purchased and downloaded since its launch last year. That figure doesn't include songs redeemed through Pepsi's iTunes promotion, which runs through the end of this month. Apple has made other deals in the past few months with Target, Hewlett-Packard and AOL to push the service cross-platform. Analysts are optimistic on Apple's success in the music business, but warn that Sony's entrance in the market could be Apple's biggest competition yet. Source: MacCentral

March 17, 2004

Apple unveils Spoken Interface for blind OS X users

Apple has introduced a new accessibility solution for visually impaired users that it will integrate with the next major release of Mac OS X. The company took the wraps off of the new technology today: It's called Spoken Interface for Mac OS X. To find out more, MacCentral recently spoke with Mike Shebanek, Apple product manager for Mac OS X Source: MacCentral This looks pretty nice, and it should be better then the current voice features of OS X. I just hope there are better voices then the MacinTalk voices, such as Veronica.

Guy Kawasaki talks about Apple, Garage, more

Like Apple CEO Steve Jobs, Guy Kawasaki, the original Apple evangelist and a former Apple Fellow, is known for his charisma. And while still a fan of Apple products, don't look for him to return to Infinite Loop. "There's more chance that I'll play for the San Jose Sharks [the California hockey team] than return to Apple," he told MacMinute. "I'm 49 -- my days of trying to build or run empires are behind me. I just want to focus on my family, invest in great tech companies, make a few speeches, write a few books, and play hockey." Source: MacMinute

ShapeShifter 1.2 is out with LOTS of changes

Just take a look at all the new changes in 1.2! Wow! It seems like it should be more then a .1 update. There is a new theme installed by default, SimpleX. Its blue, and it looks really nice. Unsanity really makes great software for OS X. By far the best new feature is the new ability for themes to skin individual applications. Before you had to use other apps to skin apps individually. I own a lot of Unsanity software though, so maybe I am just a little bias.

March 19, 2004

Indie-only serves music with no DRM

The iTunes Music Store has been gradually adding more independent music since its second-generation version was launched in October, 2003, but fans of such music have a new resource to turn to as well. It's called, and it launched last Halloween. Since then the indie-only online music download service has gone from 17,000 to almost 90,000 tracks and will expand even further in the next couple of months. MacCentral recently spoke with the company's co-founder and CEO Morgan Harris to find out more. works very differently than most other online services include the iTunes Music Store -- that's evident from the Web site, which is also the main interface for the service. The company has eschewed a custom application interface for a Web browser. "We did it that way so it's cross-platform," Harris told MacCentral. No Digital Rights Management, totally cross-platform. Source: MacCentral

Panther on a 366 Mhz iBook

Do you remember the original iBook? The "clam shell" or "toilet seat" iBook, as some people called it. I just installed Panther on a 366 Mhz iBook, the first in the line to have a FireWire port. It has 320 MB of RAM, and I am impressed. In comparison I have ran 10.1, and 10.2 on a 300 Mhz iMac. I have not seen 10.3 on a slow processor yet. And I am very impressed. It is very responsive, even without turning off the drop shadow (ShadowKiller, Unsanity, free). The Finder is very responsive. The only thing that takes forever is the pre-binding process ("Optimizing System") after software updates - this is like watching grass grow.

March 20, 2004

New domains '.mobi' and '.xxx' under consideration

SAN JOSE, California (AP) -- Ten organizations submitted applications to sponsor new Internet domains, including ".mobi" for mobile services and ".xxx" for adult content, the group that oversees key aspects of the global network said Friday. Each organization paid $45,000 to apply for suffixes that are to be set aside for specific industries and interest groups. The deadline for applications was Tuesday. Source: CNN I have been saying they should use .xxx for years now. It looks like I am not the only one.

March 22, 2004

What's the Plural of 'Virus'?

virus is neither viri nor virii, nor even vira nor virora. It is quite simply viruses, irrespective of context. Here's why. English Inflections First off, the OED gives nothing but viruses for the plural. Here's its abbreviated entry: ... Pl. viruses. An infectious organism that is usu. submicroscopic, can multiply only inside certain living host cells (in many cases causing disease) and is now understood to be a non-cellular structure lacking any intrinsic metabolism and usually comprising a DNA or RNA core inside a protein coat (see also quot. 1977). [ Formerly referred to as filterable viruses, their first distinguishing characteristic being the ability to pass through filters that retained bacteria. ] Source: Oxford English Dictionary My friend Ian brought this up, and I thought it was virii too, after all, virii is used all over the place.

March 23, 2004

display:none SPAM

The new super cool chic thing to do with SPAM is to use CSS and the display:none proporty on pretty much every block element known to man, including the ever fun OBJECT tag. Don't get me started on ActiveX, thats another story all together. By the way, this is why you hear so many people, including me, rant to not enable HTML in your email client. What am I blabbering about? Take a look: <html><body>
<font face="System">
<OBJECT STYLE="display:none" DATA=""> </OBJECT>
</body></html> Since I am the curious type, and I am using a Macintosh (do not try this yourself on a PC running Windows, you have been warned) I actually loaded up that URL. This URL is dead by now, just take my word for it. This automatically downloaded a file on my Mac. I can only predict what would have happened if I did this on my PC. SPAM filters need to be updated for this trick. I am not sure if SpamSieve will pick up this trick, but I know for sure the latest version of POPFile (of which I outlined how to install on OS X) will in fact learn and catch this trick. This was one of the major new features. I need to email the developers of DSPAM and SpamSieve to see if their systems will accurately classify this new trick. I hope they both do. I have been meaning to write about it, but I have, after many months convinced Digital Partners (DP) to install SPAM blocking software on their mail servers. The amount of SPAM on our BG News lists was getting counterproductive. DP finally decided on DSPAM after conducting research. In short I am very happy with DSPAM. So check out DSPAM!

March 24, 2004


Update 04.08.06 - This thread has been shut down. Comments have been turned off. If you care to know why, read it here. Update 02.15.06 - Before you post yet another comment here, you may wish to go to the site and plug your serial number into their database, and track it, and stuff. It is not that I do not like the comments, but it seems a bit odd. And it is more like a joke that has run its course by now. I would also like to say for the record that I did not think I would have to update this post with these blatantly obvious notes. But thanks Josh for the suggestion. Have you seen one of these bills stamped with this URL? The one I had also had the Series Date and the Serial Number highlighted. I don't know that I agree with the stamping of legal tender with advertising for web sites, no matter what the reason. That being said, this is a nifty idea. You can see the $1 bill that I am talking about here. It is more then just $1 bills too. I split a $20, and 5 days later I used it for a Sprite. Its a cool novelty. You can see what states have the most entries, etc, nice stuff. I just wonder when we will see advertisements for the local strip club stamped in the margin of the $1 bill. Your thoughts?

March 25, 2004

Live From Detroit

This is the first live remote for Breaking Windows! But it has not been without some small problems. The M39/Southfield exit was closed (yes construction in Michigan is actually worse then it is in Ohio) so I had to take Ford Rd. exit and double back to the Holiday Inn. But did I remember everything? Lets see: Clean underwear, etc: Check Razor, toiletries: Check Cell Phone: Check AC Adapter for Cell Phone: Check Palm: Check GameBoy Advance: Check PowerBook: Check AC Adapter for PowerBook: Oops! Man I was so close! And as I am here for a FileMaker Pro training workshop, I can't go three days without actually using FileMaker Pro as I am learning new techniques. I can't stand learning the things and not being able to apply them right away, especially when it has to do with software. Don't believe what Apple says about PowerBook battery life. They are correct about iBook batteries, they seem to last. But not the PowerBook ones. Luckily there is a CompUSA within walking distance from the Holiday Inn I am staying at. So now I am the proud owner of 4, yes 4, PowerBook AC adapters. I keep one at work, one at my couch (I pride myself on being lazy), one at my desk attached to my BookEndz Dock, and now I guess I have one I can permanently keep in my PowerBook bag. That is pathetic. MacAdacemy/ WindowsAcademy is putting this show on, and Keith Keil is the instructor. I have some of the training CDs he has authored for MA/WA. As a nice bonus, we get a voucher for 6 free training CDs from MA/WA. I am not sure to wait until they have a set on FMP 7 or get their InDesign CS set. Work already owns their FMP 6 set. This Holiday Inn is l33t! I get free DSL, something I have never had in a hotel, although I do not travel. Since this FMP workshop is here at the hotel, there is a discount on the price of the room. So it made no sense staying at a "cheaper" place. The food is great, and I get 10% off at the restaurant downstairs. So the price is right all around. There is a pool to swim (no, I don't get to swim much). This place is great, and very relaxing. I will worry about work on Monday, yay! Next update from Detroit will be about the first day of FMP goodness. Fun fun!

March 26, 2004

The English-to-12-Year-Old-AOLer Translator

The FBI doesn't need to hire 12 year old girls, they could just use this translator. Thanks to Matt for the link.

Saga of a DVD Case

I look forward to Tuesdays very much like Adam Sandler looked forward to nudie magazine day in his fan favorite "Billy Madison." The thrill of heading into the local mass electronics chain and scanning rows upon rows of newly released digital goodness is too hard to resist. It's after the adrenalin has stopped pumping, the new releases are in the bag, and my 36 inches of wasted reciept are in the bag that everything seems to go down hill. Round 1: Their first line of defense is the shrinkwrap. Eager to check out the innards of my lateast purchase, my first instinct once inside the car is to rip them discs right open. No so. Not even my keys can tear through this space age material. I slice, I slice, but eventually, I must give up hope since I'm ruining the case and bring in my second troop: The teeth. Thanks to a rather forgettable incident in high school, one of my front teeth is made entirely of plastic. That little bad boy has served me well over the years especially since it's now chipped and sharp as a razor. After countless minutes of knawing (and strange looks from the ever growing populace outside my vehicle), I finally make a small hole in it's ozone layer. It's not big, but I can finally slide my finger in there and tear it off. Round 1: Me. Round 2: Now we move on to the "security stickers." These inept pieces of sticky goo are hardly the detterent to any shoplifter. Come on, everyone knows that in order to take a stack of DVD's, you stuff them into your oversized parka on a 90 degree day and make a mad dash for the door. Workng retail, I know how this works. Besides, even a stupid shoplifter knows that tearing these stickers off in time to make an escape is impossible. Now past the shrinkwrap, my tooth begins round 2. He's got nothing on these stickers. Again, the weakers keys make their presence felt, but the stickers continue fighting back. It's time for my secret weapon: The thumb nail. Having not chewed it off for 2 whole weeks, he's stronger than ever. I dig into it's starting point and finally make some progress. After 25 minutes of a struggle that is comparable to putting on jeans 2 sizes too small, I breath a sigh of relief. I'm home free.....almost. Round 3: This is their sneak attack. Completely unprepared, I begin to pull apart the plastic. What? It....won't.....oooopen! What the hell is this? A 3rd line of defense? I pull and pull some more....I even try pushing the sides together. It's hopeless. Wait a minute...I spy some strange looking tabs on the side of case. They say "open." Why, that's exactly what I'm trying to do!" It seems these must be related to the problem in some way. I push on these, much like the arrow seems to indicate, but all is lost. These is no hope. I will never be able to appreciate the finer points of "The Rundown." But, not being the quitting type, I feel that I must go on. After 15 minutes of researching and planning a proper plan of attack, I dig my thumbnail into the sides of these (cutting myself in the process) "open tabs" and I'm finally there.....The bright sun bursts off the surface of the disc, practically blinding me. As any human would, I drop the disc to avoid further damage to my cornea. Freed from it's plastic bindings, it lays in a large puddle which has formed on my cars floor from a recent torrential downpour in which my window was left cracked. The battle was over. Me, blinded and bloody, can only stare at the blur as it begins to take on water. I don't care. I had won. I may be out $20, but damn it, I beat the DVD company. I got to their disc and no matter how many curves they tossed my way, I overcame them. Universal, I demand a surrender. You are the only company stupid enough to include these "tabs" and probably consider them useful in some way. Well, I can now see your waving the white flag as I dance in the parking lot around my prey. I won you bastards.....I won.

InDesign CS 3.0.1 update released

Adobe recently put out an update to their print publishing tool InDesign CS (Creative Suite) that brings the application to version 3.0.1. The upgrade fixes a number of issues, including broken hyperlinks within a book after it has been exported to a PDF file, imprecise constraint when shift-dragging an anchor point on a page item, and more. Source: MacCentral For the first time that I have noticed, you download the updater through InDesign. There is an Update app not unlike the Software Update app in OS X.

March 27, 2004

FileMaker Pro 7: Can You Say Paradigm Shift?

by William Porter I wouldn't describe the last several versions of FileMaker Pro as ho-hum, but I wouldn't exactly call them exciting. The addition of XML support in FileMaker Pro 6 was so revolutionary an enhancement that most developers still don't know what to make of it two years later. Otherwise, version 6 felt like a maintenance release, with a few new status functions, the capability to import photos directly from a digital camera, a Find and Replace command, etc. As a result, many people who aren't already in the know will be surprised - no, scratch that - shocked to discover that the just-released FileMaker Pro 7 is dramatically, profoundly and comprehensively different from its predecessors. Different and, I hasten to say, better. What's New (FMI) Now, the difference is not primarily a matter of new or changed features, although there are more of those than I can mention here. It's more a matter of a new way of thinking. Experienced FileMaker developers learning to work in FileMaker Pro 7 may feel like Texans accustomed to attacking their food with steak knives, now forced to eat noodles with chopsticks. Chopsticks are not just a different tool for picking up food: they're designed for a different cuisine, behind which there is a different conception of what constitutes a meal. The same applies to FileMaker Pro 7. We're not just going to be building databases differently, we're going to be building fundamentally different kinds of databases. Source: TidBITS What a great analogy! This is a great review from start to conclusion. If you want to see the good and the bad of FMP 7, be sure to check this out.

Rundown DVD Review

If there is such a thing as paint-by-numbers movie making, "The Rundown" is a perfect example. It's so cliched, so predictable, and so generic, you can actually guess half the dialouge and plot points before they even happen. However, when it's this much fun, who cares? The Rock/Dwayne Johnson plays Beck, a bounty hunter type who's tiring of the buisness and wants out. He agrees to one last job to earn $250,000, enough to live his dream: open his own restraunt. That job leads him into the heart of the Amazon to retrieve Travis, played hilariously as always by Sean William Scott. Things don't pan out quite as easily as Beck had planned. What follows are some of the most ludicrous action seqences ever put on film, using everything from CG to "wire-fu." It's dumb, it's fun, and it's a great ride for the full hour and half. Assuming you bought the proper disc, the film is presented in it's orignal 2.35:1 aspect ratio. It's a gorgeous print with deep blacks and some extreme color. In fact, the color is SO strong, I found it neccesary to fiddle with my otherwise perfect TV's color settings. I've never had to do this before with any movie. The sound is likewise spectacular with a full mix that immerses viewers directly into the action. The opening sequence in the dance club is a perfect example of how well mixed this disc is. Thumping bass, lots of screaming, and tons of things breaking make for a refrence quality sequence. While not an all-out special edition, the disc does have a nice variety of special features. There's a nice stack of deleted/extended scenes, a look at how they made Hawaii and California look like the Amazon, and a stupid look at the monkey sequence. 2 commentaries are also available for those interested, with the Rock featured on one having a blast talking about the movie. While certainly not a film for anyone who only believes art-house movies are the only ones worth watching, this is a mainstream movie where you could put your mind at ease and just laugh. It's not a classic actioner, but it's more than a worthwhile while to kill almost 2 hours. The Rock is here and I have a feeling we'll be seeing quite a bit more of him in the future.

March 28, 2004

Beyond the Mat "Ringside Special Edition" DVD Review

Barry Blaustein's much adored documentary on professional wrestling gets re-released in a special edition this week. Though hardly without massive issues, any fan of the documentary itself may as well have this release. New features include a sit down dinner/interview with a cynical Jesse Ventura and much more light hearted Mick Foley. Clocking in at 16 minutes, it's criminally short, but still worth a look. The commentary with Terry Funk and Blaustein is still present from the original release as is a newly recorded one with Ventura and Foley. This is where the disc falls apart. The commentary is in the vein of Mystery Science Theater with the speakers overlapping the video, only in full color and right in your face. Each time these two make an appearance, the DVD needs to stop, load up the footage, and then continue. When their done, the same process occurs only removing the speakers. I'm sure a few cheaper/older models of DVD players will have some serious issues. Worse yet, you can't even skip to a scene to watch specific commentary sequences. You need to watch the entire thing. Video and sound quality are as expected for a documentary. Some of it is horrible, some of it is fantastic. The new sit down dinner/interview is crystal clear though. It's not the be-all-end-all edition, but it's a fair upgrade if you can live the with constant stoppages that come with the video commentary.

Cops: 3 Pack DVD Review

Fox's long running show has finally made it's way to DVD. Coming in a 3-pack (each disc can also be purchased seperately), the hour long discs are all packaged seperately without any special box. Cheap on Fox' part to say the least. The 3 discs are entiled: Shots Fired, Bad Girls, and Caught in the Act. Each disc contains various snippets from recent seasons that relate to the title of the disc. It's baffling, but everything on these discs is CENSORED. Language is bleeped, the finer points of gratuitous nudity is lost, and it's simply no different than catching these episodes on TV. Well, not everything is cut...see, Fox has been kind enough to include "bonus footage" which is all uncensored. These brief 15-20 minute hodge podge of clips are the only special features on these discs. If they can include this footage, why can't they simply leave the entire disc uncensored? The warning labels all over the disc about violence, language, and nudity are seriously misleading. Video quality is as expected for something filmed as it is. Same goes for the sound. Even as single discs, this DVD series is a major dissapointment. All the VHS releases of the show were uncensored, so it's even more baffling as to why these are all cut up. Certainly NOT worth a purchase unless your looking to snag a few new clips on a new format.

Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla DVD Review

Sony strikes again with aother decent Region 1 release of a Godzilla flick. This 2002 update of the popular Mechagodzilla is meaner, faster, and looks pretty sweet. Created partially from Godzilla's DNA, Mechagodzilla proves to be one of Godzilla's more formidable foes. It's by no means the greatest Godzilla fact, it's pretty flawed. Godzilla doesn't even move on more than one occasion when being blasted by various weapons. It's blatantly obvious there's no one inside the suit. Still, those of us who still love seeing Japan get trampled are in for a treat. Oh, and make sure to watch all the way through the credits. This is another great widescreen transfer, quick off the release of "Godzilla vs. Megaguirius" and "Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah." Hints of grain are still a problem, mostly with special effect sequences. This most likely has more to do with the source material than any compression problems. The sound is also spectacular including an amazing opening battle in a rainstorm. The Japanese language track is back......and it even has real subtitles! That's right, not just captions from the US dialouge. Thanks guys! This means Sony almost got it right. Featureless is the only way to put it. Nothing, zip, nada. The only thing on the disc are completely unrelated trailers. Yuck. Hopefully we can get the quickie sequel to this one, "Godzilla, Mothra, Mechagodzilla: Tokyo SOS" sooner than we got this one.

White Patriotic Posters is such a great place to find some eclectic gifts. I mean, you can even buy an UtterlyBoring T-Shirt. Please note that if you do not have a sense of political humor, do not read further, and god for bid, click this next link., the great humor and satire site about our Pres has a bunch of hilarious posters for sale. Be sure to check them out. Thanks to my Dad for this link!

March 29, 2004

ESPN Dream Job Finale

Have you been watching ESPN's take on the reality tv show genre "Dream Job?" As always, ESPN does it right. I think Zach was the best all around person up there all 6 weeks of the competition. I think his hair hurt him, even after he shaved and pulled his hair back. You can grow your hair back for crying out loud, he should have got a short clean cut, shave the goatee and if he was really serious I think he would have. After all, the judges always had great things to say about Zach. But ESPN already has one Kenny Mayne and they do not need two. After they cut Zach my vote was to keep Aaron, but I was in the minority. I thought Aaron did much better with his final SportsCenter with Linda Cohn, and Aaron sure had an edge in tonight's sports questions. The lack of sports "trivia" knowledge did not hurt Mike though. After thinking about it, Mike Hall has a little more personality. It should be interesting seeing his first real SportsCenter. ESPN has come up with some great programming in the past year, with shows like PlayMakers (which is sadly not coming back). Dream Job was a great show from start to finish, and it is nice to see a reality tv show not turn into a soap opera. I think the best part of Dream Job, other then Stu, was the behind-the-scenes look at the best damn sports show on television (SportsCenter, not FOX Sports). Just like everyone is an armchair quarterback, everyone is an armchair SportsCenter anchor. We all want to be a SportsCenter personality. We all think we could be one. For Mike Hall's poor performance in today's sports questions against Aaron, he did exceptionally well in his final set of questions to determine his salary, when it really counted. 95K, that is insane. The other "final four" contestants might get some nice jobs sure, but nothing close to working in Bristol, CT.

March 30, 2004

Music sharing doesn't kill CD sales, study says

A study of file-sharing's effects on music sales says online music trading appears to have had little part in the recent slide in CD sales. For the study, released Monday, researchers at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina tracked music downloads over 17 weeks in 2002, matching data on file transfers with actual market performance of the songs and albums being downloaded. Even high levels of file-swapping seemed to translate into an effect on album sales that was "statistically indistinguishable from zero," they wrote. "We find that file sharing has only had a limited effect on record sales," the study's authors wrote. "While downloads occur on a vast scale, most users are likely individuals who would not have bought the album even in the absence of file sharing." Source: C|Net Sure, the RIAA is gonna believe that...

Microsoft cuts Xbox prices

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Microsoft has fired the first shot in this year's video-game price wars, cutting the price of its Xbox console by $30 to about $150 in the United States. The price cuts will go into effect Tuesday. Industry analysts and some Microsoft officials have been expecting Microsoft to cut the price for its Xbox for some time, but at $149.99, the new price is lower than some had expected. Source: CNN/Money Maybe now I will buy one... again. After all Ninja Gaiden sounds killer, and very hard.

FileMaker Developer 7

The new FileMaker is out! I got my shiny box last week, it came when I was in Detroit. I have been playing around and am about to post a First Look article. I want to go through the changes in ScriptMaker, then I will post it. So stay tuned. I am not going to be using FileMaker 7 for any of the solutions I have created for Student Publications. So why did I buy it? Because I need to be ahead of the curve. I need to know about all the changes. And eventually I will be moving the Unigraphics invoicing system, the KEY Yearbook purchasing database, etc, over to FMP 7, but not right this minute. They have changed too many variables. And since it is a new file format, we would need to upgrade to FileMaker Server 7 which comes out this summer. That being said, I could do a lot more with 7, and it is well worth the work, in my opinion, to port everything to 7. The one glaring omission I see is no "import file/table" feature in the Define Database dialog. FileMaker now acts like a SQL database, or day I say MS Access, you now have multiple tables in one file. Before v. 7 you had one table per file. FMI could have been nice and included a consolidation feature. That would have been great. Well leave it to the plugin community to fill a void. Both New Millennium and .com Solutions has tools out to help move a multi file solution into a single file, multi table solution. FM Robot from New Millennium is a table consolidation utility. It takes the Database Design Report (so you need Developer, not just Pro) and consolidates all your files into one multi table file. I might invest in this tool. New Millennium makes good software, so it looks like it would be worth it. Only the Windows version is available right now, so I think I will wait until they release a Mac version. Although I might just get the PC version to have it now, I do as much developing in FileMaker on Windows these days as I do on the Mac. What really makes sense about FM Robot is its ability to duplicate tables within a FileMaker 7 file. You can also build a "library" of "template tables" which you can transfer into any new solution. Very cool. FmPro Migrator from .com Solutions does not look like it as easy to use, as you need to install ActiveState Perl on Windows (although I have used ActiveState's Perl before and it is a breeze to setup). FmPro Migrator has a much broader scope then FM Robot though. FmPro Migrator will migrate FileMaker Pro databases to MySQL, Oracle, Access, SQL Server, Sybase and DB2. It now includes a FileMaker 3,4,5,6,7 to FileMaker 7 table consolidation feature, and Microsoft Access to FileMaker 7 migration feature. Both sites have detailed feature pages and screenshots available, so check them out. There is a demos to try as well. I can't say anything for the accuracy of either of these tools, but considering how much different FileMaker 7 is from v. 6, I can't see either tools being 100% accurate with regards to calculations, scripts, privileges, and relationships. I will have to buy one and see how it fairs. FM Robot looks like an easier to use tool, but FmPro Migrator has a much more robust feature set.

Leo host no longer of The Screen Savers

:sad: It is weird with now Leo as host. The first show post Leo had him doing a segment on changing a linux password, something that Kevin would usually do. Sure, Patrick and Kevin will do a great job, but its not the same. Leo was also the resident Mac geek on the show, so I am sure the amount of Mac content on TSS will decline now. Call for Help will now be the only place to get the fix for Leo's wit now. Oh and did you hear that Comcast is going to buy TechTV and merge it with G4? It will be interesting to see what other changes are in store for my second favorite tv station, TechTV. G4 just magically apeared one day (I have Time Warner Cable) and I have started to watch it, but G4 is a one trick pony with a lot of reruns. Here is another good read about the TechTV/G4 merger. From Leo's blog: I hate long good-byes. I loathe long on-air goodbyes. So don't expect me to say much tonight on The Screen Savers. But since the news is out on Slash-Dot and the TechTV message boards, I guess I'd better say something here... The story of how this came about is long and boring, but suffice to say it was my decision. With the uncertainty caused by the channel's sale I decided it would be prudent to diversify. I was lucky enough to find a great weekend job at KFI in Los Angeles, but as a result I've been working seven days a week. TechTV very graciously has allowed me to cut back so that I can work at both places without sacrificing my health or sanity. I will continue to host Call for Help every day, and it will air at a new time, 6p Eastern, right next to The Screen Savers. I hope you'll stop by on your way to The Big Show®....

Spammer's Porsche up for grabs

Internet giant AOL has ratcheted up the war against unsolicited e-mail with a publicity-grabbing coup - an online raffle of a spammer's seized Porsche. AOL won the car - a $47,000 Boxster S - as part of a court settlement against an unnamed e-mailer last year. Source: BBC News

Sports Illustrated's digital workflow

I found this via Waxy Links, RSS is so great. This article details the hardware and software used. Pretty good insight. Check it out! They use the same Sony monitor I use ;)

March 31, 2004

Virgin gets taste for Apple's iPod

Apple Computer last week pushed back the international debut of its iPod Mini, citing a limited supply of hard drives. But its full-size iPod is a big hit "across the pond," in the Virgin Atlantic Airways lounge at London's Heathrow Airport. Passengers can borrow an iPod to listen to music (courtesy of the Virgin Megastores) before boarding their long-haul flights. The iPod is popular throughout Europe; the iPod Mini is supposed to ship worldwide in July instead of April. Virgin's lounges, known for their upper-class amenities, feature full business facilities, an open bar, hot meals, haircuts, massages and even electronic golf driving ranges. Source: C|Net

iPod: this season's must-have for muggers

West Midlands police have issued a stark warning to iPod users: ditch the white headphones or pay the price. Fashion-conscious music lovers are apparently being targeted by muggers. The Times tells the sorry tale of 22-year-old language student Roland Baskerville, who lost his 20GB model on the mean streets of Birmingham: "I was walking down the road near to my home when a man who was walking the other way pointed at my headphones." The thief then asked Baskerville if he was listening to an iPod and, receiving an affirmative answer, he "pulled a knife out and started waving it at me, saying: ‘Well hand it over, then.’ I gave it to him and he ran off. He must have known I was wearing an iPod because of the white headphones." Source: The Register

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) DVD Review

The Texas Chainsaw Masacre is one of those movies you probably grew up hearing about. Too young to view it, you'd proudly proclaim to friends that you had seen it and make up all kinds of little white lies. Eventually, you'd finally have the pleasure of viewing Tobe Hoopers horror flick. Well, that time never actually came for least up until this week anyway. Thanks to the big budget theatrical remake, we get a DVD release to coincide and take advantage of the name. The story revolves around the usual group of teenagers, brought together due to a string of grave robbings. They decide to head out to a small Texas town and make sure a recently deceased member is still where they should be. What follows is a supposed retelling of semi-serial killer Ed Gein's story. Though loosely grounded in facts, the story is hardly true. It's a slasher flick that would set the ground rules for all those to follow and use the killers name to raw some more interest. Now, I'm well aware this movie was shot dirt cheap, somewhere in the $150,000 range. I'm well aware that this was pretty much the "first." I'm also well aware that countless other movies would go on to blatantly copy this one. Simply put, I don't care. It's terrible. It's poorly paced, the kid in the wheel chair couldn't be more annoying, that freakin' girl won't stop screaming, and the killings are the furthest thing from gruesome I've ever seen. The only pluses are the semi-documentary like film style and the dinner sequence near the finale. It's hardly been worth a 23 year wait for me. This DVD release doesn't help any either. The video is presented in a supposedly (and I quote) "painstakingly restored widescreen print." If this has been restored at all, it's a small miracle. Colors bleed, nightime sequences can hardly be made out, and grain dominates the print. The sound suffers a fate along the same lines. The new surround mix is hardly immersive as the packaging states. The rear speakers are used all of 5 times throughout the entire running time. The only other option is the original mono track. Extras seem promising enough. Deleted scenes, outtakes, trailers, still photo's, and a commentary track. Well the deleted sequences and outtakes not only feature zero audio, but are in such bad shape you can't make out what's going on. The photos are fine and feature various posters and still shots. Same goes for the trailers. The commentary has Tobe Hooper, the director of photography, and Leatherface himself, Gunner Hansen. I fully apologize to those who have firm memories of enjoying this film. This is just not a good movie. Other directors and filmakers have done so much better over the years, this one just gets buried. Note that I love low budget stuff and alot of my collection is nothing but B-movies. This one simply doesn't belong.

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