Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween!

Princess and dragon!We put the princess, a dragon, a photo backdrop, and some on camera flash to pretty good use for a Halloween card this year.

Halloween 2006 Photos

Tags: , ,

Monday, October 30, 2006

Speak to me -- talk back to Phil

Send Me A Message
My feedback form was generating a horrific amount of spam in my inbox. A few weeks ago the problem got so bad, I simply killed the form out of frustration. It didn't do much for my spam problem, but I took a couple of additional steps and now I no longer know about the problem -- the offending emails are safely hidden in my trash. This solution created a new problem, however. It has become ever so slightly more difficult for you to send me a message.

I still would like to hear from you, however, and some of you post comments in line with the blog postings. For those, however who don't care to write, but would like to talk, you can now click on the new, improved, side link that includes voice capability or why not try the link with the itty bitty bird head and leave me a voice mail. Isn't that better?

qv: Send a message to Phil

Podcast: Spam filter costs taxpayers $250,000

It's pretty easy to figure that my computer is costing me time. It seems like every day it takes just a bit longer to boot up. One of the tasks that takes the longest is retrieving my email. My email software doesn't seem to be getting along with the new email servers at my hosting company and retrieving email now seems to take forever. Add to this the insult of half of my email being spam that I intend to delete anyway. AAArrgh!

Lucky for me, I have a friend whose spam filter is even more aggravating to me than my own spam problem. This podcast contains the rant about that problem as well as a bit of an exploration of the problems of a group whose spam filter may have cost them $250,000.

Tags: , tekel

Computer recycling center in Greenville?

In the Asheville Citizen Times:
"Dell and three regional Goodwill Industries operations in North Carolina, including stores in Western North Carolina, have begun a free drop-off program for recycling unwanted computers."

Where do you do this in Greenville, SC? I have had several friends say that the local Goodwill won't accept their computers. Perhaps I can do a bit of leaf observing this weekend and drop off some computer junk at the same time.


Friday, October 27, 2006

Feeling creative? Why not design the new South Carolina License plate?

Beginning November 1, you can submit a new design for the South Carolina License plate.

The Press release...

Greer, S.C., October 4, 2006 – Governor Mark Sanford and the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (SCDMV) announced today a license plate design competition for a new state license plate scheduled for production in 2008. The new plate will replace the current palmetto tree license plate.

The competition is open to all South Carolina citizens. A panel of judges from state agencies and professional organizations will narrow the submissions to a list of three finalists. A sample plate for each of the finalists will be posted on the state Web site and South Carolina citizens will be invited to vote for their plate choice.

"Since this plate is going to appear on more cars than any other, and in keeping with our belief in people having more of a say in all aspects of government, we thought it was appropriate to open up this contest to everyone in the state," Governor Sanford said.

Officials say the 2008 plate design should reflect and promote the quality of life in South Carolina. License plate artwork should include a centralized graphic design as well as the overall plate background. Artwork submissions will be accepted only in electronic formats through the state Web site at www.sc.gov from November 1, 2006 through January 31, 2007. All submissions must also meet the technical specifications required for license plate production. A detailed listing of all specifications is available through the state Web site at www.sc.gov and the SCDMV Web site at www.scdmvonline.com.

SCDMV officials expect to announce the winner in July 2007. For more information about the competition requirements, visit the state Web site at www.sc.gov or the SCDMV Web site at www.scdmvonline.com.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Eats, Sues, and Leaves

There was a great story on NPR today on what has been called the million dollar comma.

Rogers Communications Inc. and Bell Aliant have an agreement that allows Rogers to use Bell Aliant's telephone polls. Bell Aliant would like to terminate the deal.

Two companies are in a dispute over the reading of the following paragraph in an agreement:
"This agreement shall be effective from the date it is made and shall continue in force for a period of five (5) years from the date it is made, and thereafter for successive five (5) year terms, unless and until terminated by one year prior notice in writing by either party."
If the second comma were not in place, then the agreement is a minimum of 5 years long. With the comma in place, it can be terminated at any time with one year notice.

The court validates what English teachers everywhere have been telling us for years. Commas do matter.

qv: NPR: Million-Dollar Comma May Aid Canadian Company

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Podcast: Backing up to the Internet

This is the podcast version of the radio segment that aired on 23 October 2006. In this podcast, Eric Rogers and I discuss ways to backup files to servers on the internet.

As I mentioned in a previous post, We talked about Box.net, X-Drive, and Servosity. Although I didn't have it quite right when we are on the air, Eric and I actually use mydatabus to transfer the large audio files that eventually become the podcasts.

Gone Phishing ... this time with Yahoo Messenger.

Yesterday, I got two instant messages from friends leading me to a GeoCities page that promised a joke, but instead offered a log in page for Yahoo. It struck me as odd, because I was already logged into Yahoo and couldn't think of any reason for Yahoo to ask me to log in again. Hmmm...

After consulting with the friends and looking at the source code of the web page I discovered that the instant message was phishing for my Yahoo credentials. I can only guess that once the page had the credentials it could log in as me and then send the same instant message to all of my friends. I resisted temptation.

The Geocities page looks like this:

I especially love the fact that they included the "Prevent Password Theft" seal of approval on the page. For bad guys, it's a nice touch.

What to do? Don't click on links from friends? Maybe. Geocities has become such so rich in scams that it might be ok to simply exclude their domain along with all of the .info domains from your allowed list of websites.

At a minimum, don't enter your credentials in web pages hosted at GeoCities...

Tags: , , ,

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Yes! We are going to see the Red Elvises tonight!

It has been a crazy week. We really meant to tell even more people than we have about the Red Elvises that will be appearing at the Handlebar tonight. We have never missed their show. It is great fun. If you have never seen or heard Russian Rockabilly surf guitar, then you simplay can't imagine the fun you are missing. They are like nothing else.

We hope to see lots of our friends there. Even more, we simply hope to once again have the great time we always have when we see them at the Handlebar.

The link to the right is to my various pictures I have taken when they have appeared at the Handlebar. As luck would have it, I built the Web Album in PicasaWeb rather then Flickr because it was absolutely the fastest way for me to get the pictures off of my computer and on to the web.

qv: Red Elvises at the Handlebar

Listen: LovePipe by the Red Elvises (mp3)

Tags: , , , , ,

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Got Milk?

Got Milk?
Originally uploaded by Yanov.

Do you think the cow was stalking the school bus? Maybe the bus was chasing the cow. I always have a camera with me and my truck has a sunroof, thus I was able to shoot this while driving down Haywood road.

Tags: , ,

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Your Day - Internet Backup Solutions

It looks like my previously mentioned segment on Internet backup will air on Your Day on Monday, October 23. Since it falls right after Bob Becker's piece, I suspect it will start about 12:20 or so. Your Day airs at noon, Monday through Thursday on the ETV Radio network throughout South Carolina. In the upstate, you can listen to WEPR 90.1 FM.

The complete rundown:
Your Day - Monday October 23, 2006

The effects of new media on the midterm elections.
Dr. Bob Becker, Director of the Strom Thurmond Institute on Government and Public Affairs at Clemson University learns how the Internet and other media are affecting political campaigns from Dr. Dave Woodard, a professor in the Clemson University Political Science Department.

Be sure to back up your data! Eric Rodgers talks with Phil Yanov, Director of Business Development at Acentron Technologies, and founder and Executive Director of the GSA Technology Council about new Internet methods of off-site computer files storage.

Southern Farmers. Glenn Hare of the Brooks Center for the Performing Arts talks with author Melissa Walker, a Converse College History Professor about her latest book Southern Farmers and Their Stories: Memory and Meaning in Oral History.

Shagging in the Carolinas. Roy Scott talks with the beach music expert, ‘Fessa John Hook of The Endless Summer Network, author of Shagging in the Carolinas, published by Arcadia Publishing.

Tags: , , , ,

Sunday, October 15, 2006

GSATC-TV: Success Tips for IT Job Seekers

This is the second video we produced for the IT Job Fair. This one was sent to everyone who signed up for the event. It contains tips for success that might be useful to anyone looking for work at a job fair.

Thanks again to the guys at Champion Communications for producing the video.

[Play Video - requires Windows Media Player]

Tags: , , , , ,

Saturday, October 14, 2006

GSATC TV - Job Fair is October 17

I went over to Champion Communications this week and shot a couple of videos for the GSATC job Fair. This first one is a promotional video that is emailed to the GSATC mailing list and will also be posted on the website.

qv: More about the Job Fair

Tags: , , , , ,

Friday, October 13, 2006

White and Nerdy

Do I know this guy? Am I this guy?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Writely gets makeover - finds spreadsheet twin

Wonder twin powers -- Activate!

Last night, Writely, Google's recently purchased online word processor came together with Google Spreadsheets for a single, more consistent interface that now forms Google Docs and Spreadsheets.

What do you get out of this? The first thing you'll notice is the cosmetics. Writely now looks like other Google products. This means it should be easier to find menu options and generally navigate the screen. Google's about page for the new offering lists the following new benefits:
  • A combined list of documents and spreadsheets

  • A new interface for Google Docs & Spreadsheets

  • A consistent way to share

The combined list will make it easier to find documents that are related to one another. Still Google expects you to use stars and tags to create relevance..

Next question -- Where is Google Presents? (We NEED something like Powerpoint online.)

qv: docs.google.com

Tags: , , , ,

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Podcast: Live Technology Call-In - Windows Vista RC2

Every month we take calls from South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia on calls about technology. This show was recorded on October 9, 2006.

Show Notes:

Why did the schedule change?

Regular listeners may notice that for the past several months we have been taking calls on the second Thursday of each month. This month we made a change and took calls on Monday, October 9th. We are going to swap around the schedule a bit now until the end of the year and then we will have a new schedule in January. The dates of the live technology call-in segment for the 2006 are:
  • November 20
  • December 14
  • and possibly December 20.

Sometime soon I will post the new (and I think improved) regular schedule for 2007.

Windows Vista RC2 released!

Release Candidate 2 is out for Windows. We mentioned it on the show. The bad news is that by the time we hit the air you could no longer download it
. You can still download Release Candidate 1, however.

First call - Mary wants to upgrade the security on her computer

Here is the recipe we offered her for getting her machine up to date:

Alice wants to know how to keep her teenager from accessing naughty websites.

  • We recommended SafeKids.com as a place for some family guidelines. We like the idea of the family guidelines offered on the website.
  • I briefly mentioned Net Nanny as a solution for making web surfing safe, but nothing will stop a really enterprising teenager so the guidelines seem like a better solution.

Abby has a slow computer. She may be doubling up on her anti-virus.

  • We suggest she stay the course for the moment with her Norton and make sure she isn't running more than one real time monitoring program. A good way to check for this is to look in the system tray for scanning software.
  • While we didn't mention it, she may be ready for a re-install. It is a pain in the neck, but it is amazing how much faster your computer will run after a good cleaning and re-install. The real check is to make sure you don't re-install stuff you don't need.
  • Eric says "defrag your hard drive!"

Claudia has more than one computer, but only one monitor, keyboard and mouse.

  • She needs a KVM (Keyboard, Video, and Mouse) switch .
  • She also asked about a printer switch, but we suggested either using a USB hub with parallel ports or that she networks her computer and then attach one printer to each of her two computers and allow the networking to give her access to the printers as she needs them.
  • It turns out that she is running Windows 98 so we went back to a USB parallel converter solution that we know Belkin offers. .

Bruce lost his AOL sign-on.

  • Bruce called us on a speaker-phone. That doesn't really work -- especially if you leave your radio on. We'd advise against calling us on a speaker phone.
  • Since Bruce hung up on himself (really, we didn't do it.) We suggested he re-install the AOL dialer software.

Carrol called us on a really bad cell phone connection. His Javascript doesn't work.

  • We suggested that he check his settings in Internet Explorer, but as he continued laying out his problem it turned out that his IE was probably broken. We also suggested that he use FireFox as a test case to see if they work inside Firefox when IE is crashing.
  • Carroll's cell phone transmission got better during the call...

Jaime wants to know which drive should be the master.

  • He asked when we are next on the air -- We gave him the wrong answer. We are next on the air on November 20, 2006.
  • If we were building a computer and had two drives, we would always choose the fastest performing drive to be the master and therefore the boot drive. The operating system uses the hard drive a lot, so giving it the fastest drive will deliver the best overall performance for your computer.
  • We also advised Jaime to not change the settings

Through the magic of editing, the above includes bonus calls that didn't actually make the air. If you were listening closely, you'll notice that there is a bit of music in the middle of Claudia's call. The first part of her call was on the air the last half we took off the air. Thanks for listening and we'll see you next month (or maybe before...)

Tags: , , , ,

You Tubers sell out to Google for $1.65 Billion

The numbers boggle the mind. Video sharing service, You Tube has agreed to be acquired for 1.65 Billion Dollars of stock in Google...

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., October 9, 2006 - Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) announced today that it has agreed to acquire YouTube, the consumer media company for people to watch and share original videos through a Web experience, for $1.65 billion in a stock-for-stock transaction. Following the acquisition, YouTube will operate independently to preserve its successful brand and passionate community.
On the conference call, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said that You Tube is the "clear winner on the social-networking side of video." It seems that he was trying to make it clear that Google Video and You Tube are separate entities. It would seem that he stressing the point in an effort to help You Tube retain it's youthful and difficult to reach audience.

Last week, ComScore Networks reported that the MySpace audience is growing older. In the past year the 12-17 age group has fallen from nearly 25 percent to just 12 percent of the total audience. The 35-54 age group has grown 8 points in the same time period and now accounts for 40.6 percent of the MySpace visitor base. Having both Google Video and You Tube in their pocket, Google aims to maintain separate video sharing services for teens and adults.

As should be expected, You Tube founders, Chad Hurley and Steve Chen have put out their own video announcement:

Tags: , , ,

Monday, October 09, 2006

We're LIVE today on Your Day

I may have mentioned earlier that for October and November we are switching up the schedule for the technology call in segments on Your Day. This week Eric and I will be on today (Monday) instead of Thursday. In upstate South Carolina you can listen on WEPR 90.1 FM. Listen to the whole show (which begins at noon) but Eric and I will be on at 12:27 PM or thereabouts.

qv: Your Day

Tags: ,

Friday, October 06, 2006

DIY modern art via Mr. Picassohead

Ah! The joys of creative web toys. My most recent discovery is Mr. Picassohead. Forget the spud you played with as a kid. Mr. Picassohead gives you a canvas and the basic tools to create your own "masterpiece in minutes." It is as easy as selecting a face, eyes, nose (or noses), and positioning them on said canvas.

Mr. Picassohead is a lot more flexible than your old plastic pal. With Mr. Picassohead you can scale and color each of the pieces and he will also let you include as many copies of each piece as you like. (Well, I haven't run out yet.)

Mr. Picassohead even lets you save and email your work. In fact, there is a gallery where your completed work can hang in eternal exhibition.

Mr. Picassohead is quite a bit of fun and the gallery serves as great inspiration. Give Mr. Picassohead a whirl and send me the link to your creations. We might just post a few in a gallery of our own.

qv: Mr. Picassohead

Tags: , , ,

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Irish e-voting booths hacked! Now playing Chess.

The Register:
"IT professionals in the Netherlands have demonstrated that the type of e-voting machines chosen by the Irish government for election counts can be secretly hacked.

Using documentation obtained from the Irish Department of the Environment, Dutch IT experts ... went on ... television ... to reveal that NEDAP e-voting machines could be made to record inaccurate voting preferences and even be reprogrammed to run a chess program."
Personally, I don't share the views of anti-electronic voting advocates. I think we need to make electronic balloting work. Making the vote easier, more accessible, more easily and accurately reported should be universal goals. On the road to those goals there are going to be bumps, ditches, and even accidents. Over eager vendors are going to make promises they can't keep. Vandals will interfere and luddites will unflinchingly decry electronic voting can never be made safe. Despite those obstacles, this is a thing we can make work and we must.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Apple aims to kill Podcasting

Apple's recent cease and desist order to Podcast Ready has been seen as a shot across the bow in the what was previously a cold war surrounding the term podcast.

The guys who started the podcasting craze chose the term podcasting because it was fun, descriptive and easy to remember. It was a no brainer for someone trying to get audio files loaded onto their own Apple built iPod portable media players. Soon, however, the software was being passed around the web and improved by various parties and they all needed to be able to tell each other what they were doing. The term "podcasting" was now not only fun, descriptive and easy to remember -- it was also what everyone prior to them was calling it. It was fated to stick.

The problem now is that the term, while being descriptive, contains the trademarked name of a product owned by Apple. It seems inevitible that Apple is testing the water with its cease and desist order and will soon be chasing down all infringers of their trademark (real or imagined.) At some point we will all have to decide to change the name podcasting to something else.

It reminds me of the trouble we went through in the 1990s when Unisys began pursuing license royalties for the GIF file format which up to that point was the number one format for graphics being passed between computers. In that case everyone used the GIF format because of the compression it offered over other formats. Unisys discovered it had a patent and decided to say "pay," we replied I think I'll use JPG (or eventually PNG) instead.

So, what will we do? Leo LaPorte suggests we use "netcasting" instead. It seems a little ungainly, but it certainly does not have the troubles of audcasting, mobicasting or webcasting. I thnk he's right in thaty we need to solve the problem, I just haven't been able to make myself like the term netcasting. I'm trying, though.

I also keep trying to think of something better, but haven't.

You give it a try...

Jibbitz to be acquired by Crocs

Crocs Jibbitz 6012The Jibbitz website / blog has announced today that they have agreed to be purchased by Crocs, Inc. the people who make Crocs shoes. Jibbitz has been a family owned business that makes very clever decorations for Crocs. The Jibbitz gadgets slip through the holes and allow Crocs wearers (already an incredibly hip lot) to further customize their shoes.

Crocs Jibbitz 6010I hadn't heard of Jibbitz until a few weeks ago when my sister sent me a few and I applied them to my Crocs as well as those of my bride. I previously used size and color to tell our Crocs apart, but now I can take a quick look at the cute critters perched atop them as well.

The Jibbitz are very cool and they have an incredible assortment of them. The reason I celebrate them here is that it would appear from their website and blog that a husband and wife, with the support of family and friends have built a successful business and managed to sell it within just a few years. They say that they currently have over 300 styles of Jibbitz and sell to over 4000 dealers in the US and Europe. Their product is definitely fun to use and I imagine that they have had a fun ride while building their company.

It's on my to do list to give them a call and see if we can't have a chat with them about the business of building their business.

Best of luck to them. The press release says there is another $10 million in their doing well in the years to come.

qv: Jibbitz Press Release

Tags: ,

Monday, October 02, 2006

Radio Alert: What to do about the growing Spam problem

This Thursday, the South Carolina's Public Radio Network' Your Day program will run a segment on the problem of spam email that I recorded with Eric Rodgers a few weeks back.

The complete rundown for Thursday
October 5, 2006:

  • The Mission of ChasDOC . Eric Rodgers talks with Justin Nathanson, executive director of ChasDOC, Inc. about this non-profit organizations mission to support documentary filmmaking. On October 5-8, 2006, ChasDOC sponsors an exposition of documentary films and cinematic shorts addressing a wide variety of environmental and ecological issues. For more information write info@chasdoc.org or call (843) 277-0485.

In Upstate South Carolina, you can listen on WEPR 90.1 FM. For a complete list of South Carolina station's carrying Your Day, check out the Your Day website.

qv: Your Day