Thursday, September 30, 2004

Science comes into play for NL WildCard spot
Let's hope there not a three way tie, but if there is.....
The three teams are labeled A, B and C. Team A is assured home-field advantage for the two wild-card playoff games. Team C is assured of a first-game bye, but must play the next game on the road. Team B is the least favorable of the three, though if it wins Game 1, would play at home for Game 2.
Game 1 between teams A and B will be played Monday. The winner plays Team C on Tuesday.
Because the Giants are 4-2 against the Cubs and Astros, they get first choice and are expected to become Team C, taking the bye. The Cubs' 10-9 mark against the Astros' gives them the second choice, and they likely will accept Team A, assuring the home-field edge.

Florida Trailer Owner Dies After Using Candles & Gas Because of Hurricane
I think the headline says it all. You ever hear the Jeff Foxworthy joke, "If you've been on TV more than twice describing what the tornado sounded like, you might be a redneck." I think that can apply here as well. Someone once told me, "death is never funny....except when it is." That definately applies here.
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Investigators suspect a man was killed Wednesday when a gas can exploded inside a mobile home where candles were burning due to a power outage from Hurricane Jeanne. Three other people escaped unscathed through a window.

Take your clothes off, Get a discount
Want to get 25% off of your next art purchase? All you have to do is strip.
Art buffs are being encouraged to go in the buff to view a nude exhibition. Gallery owner Kevin Money says he only wants the public to get closer to his art. And there is good nudes for the those who choose to bare all. He is offering a 25% discount for culture vultures cheeky enough to take him up on the offer. "Buying art is a novelty in Swindon at the moment but I'm thinking I won't just give 25% off - they have to earn it."

Teachers give Students Margaritas to Celebrate Mexican Theme.
Ok, so the teachers celebrated with Margaritas the day before and mistakenly gave some to the students the next day. Isn't there a law about alcohol on school property? I know how hard it is to sneak a beer into a University of Washington football game...and I'm 33 years old!
The school's international focus this year is Mexico, so the day before the first day of class, teachers celebrated with nachos and margaritas after preparing their classrooms.
"The faculty's not a big drinking group, and so we had the mixed margarita together -- the tequila and the mix -- and we put the pitcher in the back of the refrigerator," said Headmaster Alexander Harvey IV. "Next day, school starts. Everyone's focusing on kids and making it a good first couple of days of school."
But on the first day of school, the milk supply ran out after two lunch periods, so students were served what an employee thought was limeade. It turned out to be the leftover margaritas and was served to third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students.

Thinking of switching from IE? Might want to think twice.
For many people, using a non-Microsoft browser such as Firefox is now a must for secure Web surfing--but most still keep a copy of Internet Explorer around just in case.
The problem is that many Web developers create their sites so they work best with Internet Explorer (IE), but not to work as well with browser software used by relatively tiny groups of potential visitors.

The biggest reason why most people can't dump IE, however, is Microsoft itself: The software giant's Windows Update site blocks out non-IE browsers completely. That means anyone running Windows who wants to download and install the latest security updates from the Web will have to keep IE close at hand. Some consider that ironic or worse, given that authoritative groups such as Carnegie Mellon University's Computer Emergency Response Team now warn people to stay away from IE because of its myriad security problems.

Mozilla Vs IE, One man' s opinion
I recently exchanged e-mails with a member of my Fantasy Football league about his recent conversion to Mozilla. Just thought I'd share the highlights....

I like it so far. I switched because I was being attacked with viruses all the time using Outlook and while they don't get through, the need to put up the two firewalls and use Norton at a very aggressive setting caused all kinds of difficulties that appear to be pretty well eliminated now.

I am buying a new computer and will change to thunderbird, the stand alone email program that goes with Mozilla when it arrives in a week or two. Now I'm using Mozilla as the email program and I have to say it is slick. I doesn't take anywhere near the time to load that MSN does (my other browser included email program) and is or seems to be just as fast as Outlook.They seem to have thought of everything that's wrong with explorer and fixed it.

I was having huge problems trying to get the Stat Tracker (for sports stats) working with explorer and Norton and now it works fine with no adjustments. Norton obviously was not the problem since I still have it running. It has a download tracking window, I don't see anything that would make me go back. There might be problems with pages loading that use a lot of Java script or activie X controls but I haven't run across any.

The program uses google as its search engine without the need to install anything and I haven't even scratched the surface of the plug ins and other mods available. I've installed the latest java engine, macromedia and flash players and quicktime and realplayer 10 are next. All of this is free and open source. I really can't believe it. I may be a linux convert next.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Everett Gets Football Team
With the success of the Silvertips expansion Hockey team, this is no shock. But it is cool, nonetheless. The northend of the Puget Sound has now added Hockey, Football & soon to be a major NASCAR race. Yeehaw!
The National Indoor Football League approved the expansion team at its annual meeting in Las Vegas on Tuesday.
The team hopes to call the Everett Events Center home, and could roll out the green turf in March for a 14-game season that includes seven home games.

The expansion team will be owned by a local group headed by National Football League player Sam Adams. Now with the Buffalo Bills, Adams is a former Seattle Seahawk.
Everett Hawks spokeswoman Lisa Balmes said the organization is ready to roll with its brand of "affordable family fun." Ticket prices will range from $7 to $43, she said.

And You Thought Your Spouse Was A Backseat Driver
You remember those cars that liked to tell you your car door was open..."your door is ajar, your door is ajar"? A group of Australian scientists have invented an electronic driver's assistant system (back seat driver) who forever points out road signs and warns against speeding.
"DAS uses three cameras: one to scan the road ahead and a pair to monitor where the driver is looking," the magazine said.
A computer system fitted behind the dashboard collates the information with data on the speed the car is going.
If it appears the driver has not seen a sign or has not slowed down, a warning is issued.

Wireless Trucker is also a PhotoBlogger

When Tom Wiles steers his "bulldog" (Mack truck) off the "big slab" (I-20) and into the Dallas Flying J Travel Plaza, chances are it is not a great "eat-em-up" (diner) he's seeking.

No, Wiles and thousands of other cross-country truckers increasingly are dropping their CB 10-4's for the 802.11's -- wireless Internet connections right to their truck cabs. And major truck stops, including some in Indianapolis, have found that Wi-Fi is becoming as vital to their clientele as diesel fuel and hot showers.

Many long-haul truckers like the 49-year-old Wiles have outfitted their rigs with an arsenal of electronic gadgetry. "I'm living stretches of five days in the truck, which is fine -- as long as I can have all the conveniences of home right there in the cab," he says.

To that end, Wiles carries a Toshiba laptop equipped with a Wi-Fi card and subscriptions for access points at Flying J truck stops across the country. Flying J's currently blanket 180 of their North American locations with Wi-Fi signals, including truck stops in Indianapolis and Whiteland.

But that gets a trucker online only when he's fueling up or sleeping at a service center. For connectivity out in the sticks, Wiles has subscribed to Sprint's PCS Vision cellular nationwide network.
For phone calls, Wiles has jettisoned his home landline and now uses his cell phone for voice communication. For on-the-road entertainment, he can burn discs on his home entertainment system's DVD recorder, then pack them up for viewing in the cab on his laptop. For music, Wiles has subscribed to XM satellite radio ($9.95 per month) and purchased a portable Delphi SkyFi receiver that works in his home system as well as the truck cab.

And for a hobby, Wiles has begun taking still digital pictures with his 3.2-megapixel Toshiba PDR-M71 and video with a digital camcorder.

Trucking can be a lonely road, and being constantly online has helped Wiles stay in touch with far-flung friends and family. About a year ago, Wiles discovered his hyper-connectivity also could spawn new conversations with perfect strangers.

Wiles set up a Web site ( to display some of his digital artwork and perfected a way to update it from the road. Since then, it has blossomed into a trucking blog of his daily travels, an advice center for other digi-truckers, a repository of roadhouse restaurant and motel reviews and a showcase for his humor and conservative social commentary.

Aloha! Want to go Hunt Sheep?
If you own a gun & sign up for the lottery, you to can be eating a nice helping of Sheep Meat in Hawaii.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is looking for volunteers with rifles to help rid the park's new 116,000 acres of thousands of feral sheep.
The park service will conduct a public lottery Nov. 8 to select participants in the hunt, officials said. The project will continue indefinitely and lotteries will be held every six months, officials said.
There will be no limit on the number of sheep taken, and volunteers will be encouraged to keep the meat, the park service said.

Bay Area used to Have "Monster Bash", Now it Has Monster Park
The Oakland A's had the Bash Brothers, the San Francisco 49ers will now play in Monster Park. Monster Cabling has bought the naming rights for $6 million & that name is a nightmare!
"It's a only-in-San Francisco-name and San Francisco prides itself on being different and this is just another example of us standing out in a crowd," said Sam Singer, spokesman for the San Francisco 49ers football team that plays at the stadium.
The name comes from its new sponsor, Monster Cable Products, a San Francisco-area company which sells audio cables such as those connecting guitars to amplifiers.

All I want for Christmas is....A Bowling Alley?
Hey Mom! I know what you can get me for Xmas. All it costs is 1.45 Million bucks. Neiman Masrcus came out with its fantasy catalogue again this year. The bowling alley tops the list for me!

"This year's gift assortment is more innovative and luxurious than ever before and is available in its entirety online," Hoffman added.
Yes, that even includes the his-and-hers bowling center.
The 5,000 square-foot, four-lane bowling and entertainment center includes all the bowling equipment, his-and-hers bowling shoes, a multi-media system with two large-screen plasma TVs, and a karaoke machine. The package also offers lessons from professional bowlers.

World's Fastest Roller Coaster to Open in Spring
128 MPH in 3.5 seconds climbing to 456 THAT is a thrill ride!
JACKSON, New Jersey (AP) -- Six Flags Great Adventure is opening the world's tallest and fastest roller coaster this spring -- a thrill ride that accelerates to 128 mph in 3.5 seconds and rises 456 feet off the ground.
The current speed and height record holder is Top Thrill Dragster at Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio. Made by Intamin -- the same company Six Flags hired to build Kingda Ka -- Dragster shoots riders to 120 mph in 4 seconds and takes them to a height of 420 feet.

Do Suspicious Bets Let "the Apprentice" Out of the Bag?
If you don't want to know who might win the show, don't read this story.
An offshore bookie has suspended betting on the winner of the second season of NBC's "The Apprentice," citing an "unusual betting pattern on two contestants" from accounts originating in New Hampshire.
"We don't know if this is some kind of link to the contestants or some way involved with the production," wagering director Stuart Doyle told The Associated Press Tuesday. "When this has happened before, it's because someone has known the outcome."

One down, One to go for 10 Million Bucks
SpaceShipOne reached the altitude it needed to consider it's first privately funded trip into space a success. In order to claim the $10 million prize, it needs to do it one more time.
The spacecraft encountered problems shortly after the rocket ignited during its vertical ascent. It unexpectedly began a series of more than 20 barrel rolls.
An unofficial altitude for SpaceShipOne of 358,000 feet -- well in excess of 62.9 miles (100 km) -- was recorded by radar at the site.
This marks the first of two successful flights the team needs to win the $10 million Ansari X Prize.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Mt St Helen's Rumbling & Grumbling: Explosion likely?
Seismologists believe there's an increased likelihood of a hazardous event at Mount St. Helens because of recent changes in the mountain's seismic activity, and on Sunday the U.S. Geological Survey issued a notice of volcanic unrest.
"The key issue is a small explosion without warning. That would be the major event that we're worried about right now," said Willie Scott, a geologist with the USGS office in Vancouver, Wash.

Customer Service at this company tells us what we've known for years!
Just SCREW off! Sometimes I feel like that's the unspoken word from some customer service departments, but thanks to a hacker, this company actually tells you to do so!
Customers of British cable firm NTL were subjected to a barrage of profanity after a malicious hacker or disgruntled employee changed the company's telephone service message, the Sun said in its Monday edition.
"You are through to NTL customer services. We don't give a (expletive) about you. We are never here. We just (expletive) you about, basically, and we are not going to handle any of your complaints. Just (expletive) off and leave us alone."

Simulation PLays Out NHL Season
Ok, the players are on strike, but the video game isn't. According to this article one TV station is going to have a video game simulate every game of the 2004-2005 NHL season and show box scores and highlights on its broadcasts. I'll take the Sharks!
Crestfallen hockey fans worried about filling the hours during the National Hockey League's labor dispute may now have a place to turn. Beginning Oct. 13, the cable channel G4techTV plans to resurrect each of the 1,230 regular-season games listed on the league's defunct 2004-2005 schedule by setting them in motion on a video game console. All 30 teams will face off in "computer only" mode, meaning that the computer will control both teams, and the resulting scores, stats and highlights will be shown on the network's sports program, "Sweat."
G4techTV was born last spring when the cable giant Comcast acquired TechTV, a channel aimed at computer geeks, and folded it into its G4 channel, which catered to video game enthusiasts. G4techTV now bills itself as "the only 24-hour television network devoted to games, gear, gadgets and gigabytes."

Soldiers Blogs Keep Us Informed
Want to really know what's happening in Iraq? This article outlines some Soldiers Blogs who are stationed in Iraq.
Spc. Colby Buzzell and a handful of others write unvarnished war reporting. But many of these blogs have been shut down.
Buzzell's squad was on a mission in a poor neighborhood in Mosul when two Iraqi boys ran up carrying old artillery shells. "Give me a dollar!" they said.
Another came carrying bullets and demanding money.
"Then, all of a sudden, this really skinny Iraqi kid comes running up to us with a f---- HAND GRENADE in his hand," Buzzell wrote on his war blog. "'Drop the f---- hand grenade! Drop it now!' We all started yelling. The little kid, still with this proud smile on his face that said, 'Look what I just found' just dropped the grenade on the ground, and walked over to my squad leader and said, 'Give me money!'"
The grenade didn't go off.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Drunk Drivers on Horseback cleared.
Apparently not only is wearing high heels a good defense against drunk driving (see article a couple days ago) apparently so is being on horseback.
PITTSBURGH, Pa. -- The state Supreme Court ruled that Pennsylvania's drunken driving law can't be enforced against people on horseback, a decision that inspired the dissenting justice to wax poetic.
The court ruled Wednesday in a case against two men in Mercer County in 2002. Riders Keith Travis, 41, and Richard Noel, 49, were charged with drunken driving along with a man driving a pickup who allegedly rear-ended the horse Travis was riding away from a bar on a dark country road.
All three men failed field sobriety tests, police said, but a judge threw out the charges against Noel and Travis after they argued that the word "vehicles" in the state's drunken-driving law doesn't apply to horses.
Prosecutors said the code specifically includes people riding animals. But the majority justices cited a similar case in Utah, where judges said such a statute is confusing and too vague about which regulations would apply to animals as well as vehicles.
Justice Michael Eakin, who is fond of writing rhyming opinions, summed up the lone dissent with two stanzas mimicking the theme song of "Mister Ed" -- a 1960s TV sitcom about a talking horse:
"A horse is a horse, of course, of course, but the Vehicle Code does not divorce its application from, perforce, a steed as my colleagues said.
"'It's not vague,' I'll say until I'm hoarse, and whether a car, a truck or horse this law applies with equal force, and I'd reverse instead."

Football Team would rather Forfeit than Play against a girl!
Maybe this Catholic football team should wonder who is "acting like a girl" as they chicken out of this matchup.
WHITE CITY, Kan. -- St. Mary's Academy won't play against a team with a girl, so the private Catholic high school is forfeiting a football game.
White City principal Sid Tanner said when coach Bobby Rehse called to make sure the freshman guard would have her own dressing room, officials said St. Mary's won't play against a girl.
St. Mary's Academy doesn't belong to the state high school activities association.
So the school can't be disciplined more severely than the forfeit to White City High.

Beware of GPS if Boss gives you new Cell Phone: Big Brother is Watching!
If your boss decides it's a good time to get a new cell phone for you, and it is GPS equipped, beware he may be monitoring your whereabouts. Be careful on the golf course on Tuesday afternoon. Better not catch a lunch movie. Big Brother is watching.
Cell phones are giving employers new ways to check up on employees in the field--and raising fresh workplace privacy concerns as a result.
On the leading edge of the trend is
Nextel Communications. The wireless provider began selling its Mobile Locator service last November, giving bosses an easy way to find employees who carry GPS-equipped cell phones.
Earlier this month, mobile tracking firm
Xora showed off the latest version of its Nextel GPS (global positioning system) phone software. The company says 1,600 corporate customers have signed up for its services, including "geofences" technology that sets off an alarm at the office when field workers go to preprogrammed off-limits sites, such as a bar or a park.

A Computer named Popeye?
Researchers at MIT are trying to develop technology to power our laptop and mobile devices with Spinich. Hmm...Gives a new meaning to taking your computer to an internet Cafe? Yes, waiter, I'll have a turkey sandwich on sourdough & a spinach sald for my square friend here...hold the dresing.
Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology say they have used spinach to harness a plant's ability to convert sunlight into energy for the first time, creating a device that may one day power laptops, mobile phones and more.
Why spinach?
In reality, any number of plants could have been used. But the researchers chose spinach because "it is cheap and is easily available from the grocery store," Zhang said.

Ringtone Gives Women Bigger Breasts
Ok guys, download this ringtone to your girlfriend, wife's (or both) cell phone if you want em bigger and better than other (pig).
A Japanese man has developed a breast-augmenting ringtone which has had oriental A-cups downloading like crazed breastless women in the hope of of aurally-driven überjubblies.
Hideto that his deliciously-titled "Rockmelon" ditty uses "sounds that make the brain and body move unconsciously". Tomabechio calls the subliminal mambooster a kind of "positive brainwashing" and further reckons that it's "a part of cognitive science".
Rather improbably, or should that be lamentably, Rockmelon enjoyed 10,000 downloads in its first week alone. One satisfied user said: "I listened to the tune for a week expecting all the time that I was being duped. But, incredibly, my 87-centimeter bust grew to 89 centimeters! It was awesome!"

Be sure to get your Seinfeld fix on Thanksgiving
Jerry, Elaine, Kramer and George will all be part of a look back specaial on Thanksgiving day this year. Look slike I'll be watching something other than football on Turkey day!
The planned November 25 broadcast, highlighting the origins of "Seinfeld" and the early years of the mega-hit comedy that ran on NBC for nine years, is timed for two days after the DVD release of the series.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Scoble Gets Called out on Longhorn Table
A reader calls out Robert on why he isn't pushing Longhorn and telling us what we can expect from the product anymore? Twelve months ago it was "Longhorn this, Longhorn that" now there's not even a peep.
The thing is that I don't have any credibility left when it comes to Longhorn. Over the last 18 months I got out there and lead lots of Longhorn cheers. And now there's a changing of direction.
The thing is, I am super sensitive right now to making a whole new round of promises. I'd rather wait to talk until there's beta build to hand you. Why? Cause what good does it do to write about the feature set if you can't see it? And if you're a developer, you don't want to hear FUD, you wanna see working APIs.
So, I'm gonna be quiet until there's bits to hand you all to discuss. If there's a business need that you have, let's serve that in email privately. Does that make sense?

Winning a "Free" car Costs a lot
People who were given a free car on this years season premier of the Oprah Winfrey Show have to dig deep in to their pockets. The Value of these cars must be counted as income and could cost some "winners" up to $7000. Still, 7K for a new car is agood price, but some still may not be able to afford it.
According to a spokeswomen for Harpo Productions Inc., Oprah's company, the recipients must pay a tax on the winnings, just like any prize.
For a brand new Pontiac G-Six, the model given away on the show, the sticker price is $28,500. The $28,500 would need to be claimed as income so, depending on the individuals tax bracket, the tax could be as high as $7,000. And that was after Pontiac agreed to pay most of the local charges, including state sales tax and licensing fees.

The Harpo Spokeswomen said winners had three choices. They could keep the car and pay the tax, sell the car and pay the tax with the profits or forfeit the car

SF Giants offering Wireless Instant Replays in your seat
SBC Park is allready one of the largest WiFi hotspots in the U.S., now the Giants plan to offer patrons of its games access to pull up instant replays from different angles on their laptops. Now everyone can see whether the ump wa right or not, instantly.
"We're charting new territory here so it's really going to be up to what our fans want," said Bill Schlough, vice president and chief information officer of the Giants.
In addition to instant replays, the Giants plan to add a wireless feature so fans can order food online for delivery right to their seats.

VOIP will be become the standard in Corporate Networking
According to this new survey by AT&T, the matter is not if, but when it will happen. IF your not all ready on board, you'd better jump on before it passes you by.
With many of VoIP's performance, security and reliability issues being solved, the historic barriers to the technology's wide adoption have begun to fall, claims the study, "Voice over IP Comes of Age." The EIU surveyed more than 250 senior executives and found that 43% were either using or planning to implement VoIP within the next two years, while a further 18% expected to deploy the technology in the long term.

Cisco to open R&D center in China to focus on VOIP
Som einteresting quotes in this story but the one I like the most is from John Chambers himself. one of cisco's big things right now is being able to deliver Voive, Video and data in order to bring larger companies with remote sites together and make communications easier between the sites. That being said, here is the quote from Chambers, ""The success rate of my acquisitions goes down the further I get from San Jose," Chambers said, referring to the site of Cisco's corporate headquarters in California. "
Umm, John...are you sating it is hard for you to communicate with your remote locations?
Cisco is also on the hunt for investments in China, Chambers said. "We do a lot of investments in startups and we do a lot of acquisitions of startups," he said, noting that the company has already invested in six Chinese companies.
Explaining Cisco's decision to set up an R&D center in Shanghai, Chambers cited the aggressive rollout of VOIP services by Chinese telecommunications companies, strong Chinese government support and a good education system. "You all have some great universities and you're turning out some really highly talented engineers," he said.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Feeling lost without the internet? You're not alone. A recent study by Yahoo shows that in just a couple weeks without surfing the web peopole feel lost and bored.
"It allows a rare glimpse into the reasons consumers make the choices they do and how they are emotionally impacted," said a statement from Wenda Harris Millard, Yahoo's chief sales officer. "We can then help marketers apply these insights to reach their target audiences."
Respondents expressed frustration in completing tasks or shopping without the Internet. Socially, people found they were unable to maintain relationships with people outside their immediate circle of close friends, since many of them used e-mail or instant messaging programs instead of phones to keep in touch.

This Scooter problem isn't just for kids
Ok we've all read or heard a story about how kids are riding motorized scotters on sidewalks or without helmets & how dangerous this could be. But what about senior citizens? This town has become over run by Seniors with Government funded Scooters.
Stricken with arthritis, Connie Haller gave up strolling the streets of this mountain town. But when the 78-year-old woman learned that the government would buy her a motorized scooter, she gladly accepted. And so did her elderly friends. And their friends. And their friends.
Scores of scooters and motorized wheelchairs plod along busy streets to the Wal-Mart, restaurants and beauty salons. Motorists complain that they snarl traffic, and the gray-haired riders fret about the dangers of sharing the asphalt with cars and trucks.
Paintsville officials are not sure exactly how many people in town have scooters. But Haller said she knows of at least 50 in her apartment building alone.

High-Heels is the way to beat a DWI
Ok women, and some strange men, next time your driving drunk and a police officer asks you to take a field sobriety test, make sure you put on your stilleto's first!
Attorney Bill Thomas may get a lot more business from female motorists thanks to a novel defense strategy: High heels can help beat a DWI rap.
Thomas last week asked a judge how anyone could pass a field sobriety test -- which requires a lot of walking -- in a pair of 3- 1/2-inch stiletto high heels.
Thomas contended it would be "fundamentally unfair" to use the results of field sobriety tests against one of his female client because she was wearing stiletto heels at the time, making her unsteady on her feet.

Considering that she was wearing stiletto heels, the woman did remarkably well by making it to 16 seconds, Thomas argued.
Judge Wade Barber squelched the results of the field sobriety tests and tossed out the DWI case.

Swearing could cost you $50
If you lived in parts of Russia it would, anyway. Officials have enacted a law that calls for instant fines of $50 for public swearing.
Regional officials near Belgorod, on Russia's border with Ukraine, introduced a ban on swearing in public in the summer as part of a cleaner-living program for their young folk.
The total collected in two months up to mid-September came to more than 510,000 roubles ($17,400), regional official Pavel Bespalenko was quoted as saying.

Hold on to your rabbit ears, your about to be paid to switch to digital TV.
Are you in one of the estimated 45 million households who watch TV using Rabbit Ears? No Cable, Satellite or Digital feeds coming into your home? Our government just might pay you to hook up to digital signals.
"Since the industry isn't going to do it, the government has been forced to take action," said Gerry Kaufhold, a principal analyst at research firm In-Stat/MDR.
The bill highlights a congressional conundrum. On one hand, lawmakers are loath to turn off analog signals all at once, which would render an estimated 45 million analog TV sets -- those not hooked up to a cable or satellite service or to a digital-to-analog converter box -- utterly useless. And they are reluctant to spend money on any program that smacks of corporate favoritism.

Om Malik posts an article written by Daniel Berninger, recently a senior analyst at Tier 1 research, over on his blog. This is a great article outlining the "VoIP insurrection, the best and most definitive essay you will ever read on this technology, where it is headed and why it is important."
The VoIP insurrection over the last decade marks a milestone in communication history no less dramatic than the arrival of the telephone in 1876. We know data networks and packetized voice will displace the long standing pre-1995 world rooted in Alexander Graham Bell's invention. It remains uncertain whether telecom's incumbent carriers and equipment makers will continue to dominate or even survive as the information technology industry absorbs voice as a simple application of the Internet.

Robert Scoble makes the front page:
Scoble and other local Bloggers are featured in this front page article in the Seattle Times.
Arguably the most famous blogger in the Seattle area is Robert Scoble, a technical evangelist at Microsoft. Scoble's blog, called Scobleizer, receives international attention and ranks among the top 100 blogs on the Web.
Last week, Scobleizer came in at 44, based on the number of other blogs linking to his site. Technorati uses those links as a measure of the blog's influence.
Scoble says blogging and other forms of direct communication over the Web are here to stay. He uses software to scan 800 different Web sources a day, looking for news about Microsoft and highlights of daily political news.
"The word-of-mouth information networks are becoming more and more efficient every day," Scoble writes.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Poker Robots Taking Your Money
so you decided to go ahead and play online poker. You put &75 into your account to give it a try. At first you do ok, getting it to $100 or so, but then this one guy comes to the table and just seems to never lose. He always folds at the right time, calls your bluffs, & never throws money away on a bad hand. What's up? Well it seems some poker sites might be using Bots to take newcomers and others for their money!
Concern is growing in online chat rooms and news groups devoted to poker that sophisticated card-playing robots – known as “bots” in the nomenclature of the Web – are being used on commercial gambling sites to fleece newcomers, the strategy-impaired and maybe even above-average players.
Widespread use of bots capable of beating your average player would pose a significant problem for the red-hot online poker sector, which has grown exponentially in recent years and is expected to top the $1 billion revenue mark this year. Without some way of verifying the identity – and humanity – of players, the business could be significantly undercut.

New German Mobile Phone to Detect Bad Breath
Hmm, I know a few people who coul duse this technology today here in the U.S. Interesting all they need to do is be able to store mouthwash in the phone that squirts into your mouth when the offensive breath is detected!
The phone will use a tiny chip measuring less than one millimeter to detect unpleasant odors, a spokeswoman for Siemens Mobile said. A research team in the southern city of Munich is developing the device using new sensor technology.
"It examines the air in the immediate vicinity for anything from bad breath and alcohol to atmospheric gas levels," the spokeswoman said. "Some people take smelling good rather seriously."

John Kerry on Letterman last night.
I have to admit, he was actually pretty funny. I still won;t vote for the guy, but at least he has a sense of humor. He is the Anti-Al Gore!
Kerry's "Top 10 Bush Tax Proposals" are:
10. No estate tax for families with at least two U.S. presidents.
9. W-2 Form is now Dubya-2 Form.
8. Under the simplified tax code, your refund check goes directly to Halliburton.
7. The reduced earned income tax credit is so unfair, it just makes me want to tear out my lustrous, finely groomed hair.
6. Attorney General (John) Ashcroft gets to write off the entire U.S. Constitution.
5. Texas Rangers can take a business loss for trading Sammy Sosa.
4. Eliminate all income taxes; just ask Teresa (Heinz Kerry) to cover the whole damn thing.
3. Cheney can claim Bush as a dependent.
2. Hundred-dollar penalty if you pronounce it "nuclear" instead of "nucular."
1. George W. Bush gets a deduction for mortgaging our entire future.

Chicago Moving to 'Smart' Surveillance Cameras. On one hand I can see this as a good thing. I twill help police act before a crime is committed. On the other it just take sus one step closer to Big Brother knowing every step we take, every move we make (I'll be watching you).
A highly advanced system of video surveillance that Chicago officials plan to install by 2006 will make people here some of the most closely observed in the world. Mayor Richard M. Daley says it will also make them much safer.
Police specialists here can already monitor live footage from about 2,000 surveillance cameras around the city, so the addition of 250 cameras under the mayor's new plan is not a great jump. The way these cameras will be used, however, is an extraordinary technological leap.
Sophisticated new computer programs will immediately alert the police whenever anyone viewed by any of the cameras placed at buildings and other structures considered terrorist targets wanders aimlessly in circles, lingers outside a public building, pulls a car onto the shoulder of a highway, or leaves a package and walks away from it. Images of those people will be highlighted in color at the city's central monitoring station, allowing dispatchers to send police officers to the scene immediately.

Robert Scoble Says Halo 2 is worth the wait.
Are you ready for Halo 2?
I am. I sure wish I could talk about Halo 2 (they've asked us to wait). Let's just put it this way. Some things live up to the pre-release hype. Some things don't. Halo 2 does. We'll talk more November 9.

Ford revs up Internet phones
Auto giant Ford Motor plans to install 50,000 VoIP phones at 110 offices in Michigan, in one of the largest installations of the technology to date by any corporation, SBC Communications said Tuesday.
automobile manufacturer has tapped SBC, the nation's second-largest telephone company, to provide the phones and the engineering help to install the gear, and to manage the service, according to SBC. The carrier will use Internet phones from Cisco Systems.
Because of its size and scope, the Ford-SBC contract, which reportedly is worth $100 million, is a watershed moment for the technology known as VoIP, or
voice over Internet Protocol, which converts phone calls into data packets that travel over the Internet.

For those of us with multiple shelves of stereo, TV, DVD, TIVO & Satellite equipment, Sony has introduced its new slimmer, smaller model of the PS2. The good news is they won;t be charging more for it than the original PS2.

The redesign is part of Sony's strategy to maintain the PS2's lead over rival consoles. The new PS2 is about half the size of the existing model and will sell for the same price. The new PS2 is mostly identical to current models. But the internal volume has been reduced by 75%, meaning it is half the weight and less than half the thickness of the existing console. It also now comes with a built-in Ethernet port to allow gamers to play online.

Are you a mom looking for work? This article suggests the 100 best companies to work for, benefits wise, for working moms. The article is based on a study done by the Mazgazine Working Mother.
Nontraditional benefits that are relatively rare in the broader universe of employers is common among companies making the list, according to the magazine. For example, 97 percent of the companies on the 100 best list offer compressed workweeks and job-sharing opportuities, while only 34 percent of companies nationwide offer the compressed week and only 17 percent offer job sharing.
The magazine does rank companies within the top 10 or top 100 companies lists. Its new top 10 list has six companies returning from last year's winners: drugmakers Bristol-Myers Squibb and Eli Lilly &Co., computer maker IBM, financial services firms Prudential Financial Inc. and Wachovia Corp., and household products maker S.C. Johnson & Son.
New to the top 10 list are Johnson & Johnson, J.P. Morgan Chase, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Discovery Communications.

Speaking of video games. The new nintendo portable gaming device, the Nintendo DS (replacement for the Gameboy allthough Nintendo doesn't want you to think of it that way), is set to launch in November.

The gadget will go on sale on 21 November in the US and 2 December in Japan. Europe will see the device on sale sometime at the start of 2005.
Rival Sony is set to release its portable PSP at the end of the year. Nintendo also announced the DS will have a price tag in the US of $149.99.

The Nintendo DS has two separate screens so that players can check maps, whilst the game is being played on the other screen, for instance.
At 5.85 inches wide, 3.33 inches long, and 1.13 inches tall, the device also has a wireless range of 30 to 100ft (nine to 30m), which means that multiple users can play multiplayer games using one DS game card.
It also has a touch screen and an embedded microphone for voice recognition control, and has a chat software that lets up to 16 users chat at once.
Games will come from 100 different companies which have already agreed to develop titles for the device.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Californians Clean Up Beach In The Nude
I always thought people in Santa Cruz were different...but I don't want to see jsut how different they are!
What made the effort at Bonny Doon Beach different from cleanups elsewhere on the California coast were the volunteers: Many were nude. Members of the Bay Area Naturists club were among those who collected 600 pounds of garbage at one of Northern California's most popular clothing-optional beaches, seven miles north of Santa Cruz. "The real purpose is not the nakedness, but clearing up the trash," said Jurek Zarzycki, 54, as he scanned for refuse in the buff. "Every piece of garbage we find out here is testimony to somebody being a sloppy jerk."

Internet Advertising Taking Off!
Have you been thinking, "boy, it seem slike eevery time I go to SITE X there is more and more advertising and less & less content?" Odds are, you are right on! Internet Advertising has grown over 40% since this same time last year according to this story.
NEW YORK (AFP) - Internet advertising revenues in the United States surged 42.7 percent in the second quarter compared with the same period a year ago to 2.37 billion dollars, an industry group revealed.
"Internet advertising is without question taking share from the other media at this time and for good reason -- marketers have figured out that online advertising is often the most cost effective medium for influencing both branding and sales results," said Greg Stuart, president and chief executive of the IAB.

Just a friendly reminder not to trust e-mails looking for your Credit Card info to "verify" your account.
Users Find Too Many Phish in the Internet Sea
You can be whatever you want to be on the Internet - even if you want to be Citibank.
A recent flood of fake Citibank e-mail messages demonstrates the growing arsenal of technical and psychological tricks that online tricksters, called phishers, are using to get people to divulge personal information.

Scoble also writes on How to get your Blog Discovered....and one of his readers says he is wrong!
Personally I think they are both right. Take bits and pieces of both and you've got yourself a blog people are reading.
Mikal makes a very common mistake about weblogs: "if no one has linked to [my blog], then it might take Google forever to find it."
This is absolutely not true, but it prompted me to write a blog on all the ways your blog can be discovered.
First, why isn't it true? Well, if you're using a modern weblog tool your tool will ping a weblog ping server. There are at least two that I know about:
Karsten Schneider says that Pingomatic is even better cause it'll automatically ping 14 different places.

Robert Scoble points to Hoax site:
There is some criticism going around about Robert's pointing to a site in which someone posted a hoax of what a computer would look like in 2004 (supposedly the story was written 50 years ago). I've got two reactions: First, this issue isn't that big a deal to get all hyped over. Second, there are many sites out there to verify stories before posting them. Robert's reaction to Unsubscribe from the feed that had the hoax is a good one, IMO. As someone who has studied Journalism, Robert should have known to verify his sources, but as a source...once you've lied/pulled a hoax, no matter how big or small, you can no longer be trusted.

Mobile Phone Head to Head Gaming:
Up till now one of the only drawbacks in mobile phone gaming (besides the size of the screen & resolution) is the inability to dial up a buddy and kick his but in a head to head matchup. Well, hopefully soon that will be coming to a phone near you!
As millions buy increasingly powerful cell phones, many companies are racing to develop video games to take advantage of the newfound portability.
The newest twist is multiplayer: You can face real people in space battles or fishing tournaments. Until recently, multiplayer on cell phones game meant at most posting high scores on a leader board.

AIM Robots to help put IMers.
Need to know the phone number ot the local Pizza Hut? Want to know what the news is in the Wall Street Journal? AIM is launching AIM robots you can install in your buddy list and simply ask questions to and it will provide answers.
AIM Robots have existed since 2002, but AOL is now wrapping a formal program around this feature, said Brian Curry, senior director of AOL's AIM Network Services. "We never had a well-defined program. Now we have a program with partners who help people build these bots," he said.
The decision to give AIM Robots a boost is a result of the increasing popularity of IM in general and of the existing AIM Robots, particularly the "Who wants to be a millionaire?" one, which has been added to the buddy lists of about 75,000 AIM users, Curry said. "It's a great window for marketers to interact with potential customers and disseminate information," he said.
It's up to each user to add the robots he's interested in, and he can remove them whenever he wants, Curry said. Robot operators agree not to distribute users' screen names and pledge to only use the robots for their stated purpose, so that AIM users don't face the type of spam nuisance affecting e-mail, Curry said.

Internet Taxes a big issue in Washington DC:
This is something to watch closely. It is something that if it slips through the cracks, could very well wind up costing us taxpayers.
Tech groups also have asked Congress for a permanent ban on taxes unique to the Internet, but a Senate version of the Internet tax moratorium, passed in April, would only extend the moratorium for four years. House legislation, passed in September 2003, would permanently ban Internet access taxes and other taxes unique to the Internet, but a group of senators questioned whether the ban would limit states and local governments from levying taxes on telecommunications services as telecom companies move their traffic to IP (Internet Protocol). The moratorium expired last November, and if Congress fails to act, state legislatures may begin to look at taxing Internet access, said Joe Tasker, senior vice president and general counsel at the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA). "If Congress doesn't get it done in conference, it sends a signal to states," he added. "It's important for the Internet."

Are you a technophobe? If you are, you are not alone. Greg Hughes writes about Technophobic people in Canada. He says it affects 30-40% of the population. while that seems high, the reality is there are still a lot of poeple out there who are deathly afraid to touch anything "techy."
It's a curious paradox that in a country like Canada, one of the most computer-friendly nations on earth, we also boast a sizeable chunk of people – between 30 and 40 per cent of the population – who simply refuse to learn how computers work. These people have a label: technophobes. Technophobia is a fear of computers or technology. And it's a social problem on the rise throughout the western world.

Do you know of or work for a spammer? the Federal Trade Commission has recommended a plan that will net you anywhere from 100K to 250K for ratting them out! According to the story The rationale for such rewards is that employees of spammers would be justifiably concerned about the loss of their own income if the company they work for is closed because of spam arrests, or that they may lose their jobs if word gets out that they provided the critical information.

In a show of proof we are moving back into a employee market instead of an employer market, Peoplesoft has sweetened the pot on its overall severence packages in an attempt to retain employees. The severance package for PeopleSoft employees will now include a minimum of 12 weeks of base pay, plus health care coverage for a similar period. Previously, the minimum was two weeks' pay for each year of service, but the package capped out at three months.

Got Linksys networking gear? Want Cisco products but can't afford them? Get up to 100% rebate on your Linksys gear if you upgrade to Cisco! But Beware, this should really show how how much margin Cisco adds to their product if they can afford to do this and still come out smelling like a rose!

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Dodgers pitching woes should net Tracy Manager Of The Year Award

As a Dodger fan I love the fact the Dodgers are still atop the West. I hate the fact it is still a very real possibility that they don't even make the playoffs (even though no one ever talks about them as a "wild card" contender). Both the Cubs and the Giants are hot right now & I could see a scenario in which both of them overtake the Dodgers at the wire.That being said/qualified I was on the Dodgers home page today and the "poll question" they ask is; Which of the following Dodgers would be your game 1 starter in the playoffs:

1. Jeff Weaver
2. Kaz Ishii
3. Odalis Perez
4. Jose Lima
5. Another Dodger

Umm......Can I phone a friend, use a lifeline, anything? I know Weaver and Lima are having good years, but a game 1 starter in the playoffs....ughh. If this is not proof enough Jim Tracy should be Manager of the year, I don’t know what is. Let’s just throw out some numbers here:

Jeff Weaver’s career ERA is 4.59 in 952 innings. He averages 2.58 walks per 9 innings & just over a hit per inning. Meanwhile he is not a big strikeout pitcher and has a career record 12 game sunder .500.

Kaz Ishii just had an MRI on his back (which came out ok, but scary nonetheless). In his 456 career innings he’s posted a 4.30 ERA. He averages a whopping 5.84 walks per 9 IP and an amazing 1.51 WHIP (Hits plus Walks divided by IP). He is 12 games over .500 in his career but I think you can attribute that more to his inconsistent pitching than anything else.

Odalis Perez is having the best year ERA wise among the Dodger starters. He’s posted a respectable 3.407 ERA in this campaign. With a career ERA of 4.24 in 607 inning and a won loss record of 44-42, you don’t exactly get the feeling of warm fuzzies every time he takes the mound. Especially when you consider he is 0-1 with a 5.850 ERA in 20 innings over his last four starts as we come down the stretch.

Jose Lima has been the biggest surprise in the Dodgers rotation this year. As we come down the stretch he’s 2-1 with a 3.60 ERA over his last 20 innings (3 starts). That being said though, This guys ERA in the past 4 seasons starting with the year 2000 has been 6.65, 5.54, 7.77 & 4.91…and that’s not a small sampling….that’s over 500 innings across those 4 seasons. In fact, in 1211 career innings coming into this year, his career ERA was 5.13. The key to his success has been his control. He’s walked less than 2 per 9 IP. He’s having his second best year of his 12 year career in WHIP at 1.215. Still, is this the guy you want to throw out there in game 1? The guy is averaging 4.9 strikeouts per 9 innings and by the time the playoffs role around will have pitched more innings this year since 2000.

Then there is Hideo Nomo. Talk about a disastrous season. When this guy returned to the Dodgers in 2002 he was reborn. He pitched over 200 innings in both 2002 & 2003 and posted ERA’s of 3.39 and 3.09 respectively. He had always been a great strikeout guy, averaging over 1 per inning, but even in his successful seasons of 2002 & 2003 that number fell to just over seven per nine IP. Maybe that was the first sign of things to come. This season he’s averaging just 5.68 per nine IP and his WHIP has skyrocketed to 1.68. He was considered a disappointment in Milwaukee, Detroit and Boston in 1999, 2000 & 2001 when his ERA hovered around 4.50…so what does that say about him this year with an ERA of 7.71?

Wilson Alvarez, the old man in this very Veteran rotation, has been horrible as we wind down on 2004. over his last 5 appearances, including two starts, he’s looking at a 8.486 ERA in 11 1/3 IP. For the season he’s at a respectable 4.238…which is ok but he too will have pitched more innings come playoff time than he’s thrown since 1999.

Last but not least there’s Brad Penny…the Dodgers “Ace of the Staff.” He’s scheduled to throw one more simulated game on Friday, then possibly make a start next week. With just over two weeks before the playoffs I’m not so sure I want a guy who hasn’t thrown in months to be the top of the rotation guy in the team’s first playoff game in over 10 years. Not to mention Penny himself has a career ERA of 4.01 in 790 IP. In fact, going into this season his ERA had only been under 4.10 in one of his four Major League seasons.

So there are your options in the playoffs. Whose it gonna be? If I had to guess, the four man rotation in round 1 will be Weaver, Perez, Lima, Penny with Ishii, & Alvarez coming out of the pen. Nomo either gets left off the playoff roster all together or gets the long relief role. Assuming the Giants win the Wild card, as it stands today, they would travel to St. Louis and the Dodgers would face off against the Braves. By virtue of current record, the Braves would get home field in the series. Of course should Chicago beat out San Francisco for the Wild Card or san Francisco catches the Dodgers and the Dodgers win the Wild Card, they would travel to St. Louis in what I would predict to be the quickest series of the playoffs. The Cards hitters would absolutely crush Dodger pitching, just as they did last week in a three game sweep.

Regardless of the playoff scenario, the possibility with 16 games to go the Dodgers will win the NL West with these arms should be reason enough to hoist Jim Tracy high in the air & toast the town of LA LA Land.

Some research on the web about my family name history (put more here for my reference, but welcome for all to read)...

From page 6 at (the Paredes Press)
AMERICAN...SINCE THE 1800'S. Pre- Hernan Cortez, there was no-one on the main land of the 'New World' named Paredes. When the 'first' Paredes arrived, is not verifiable. There are many Paredes mentioned in the history of the new world by eminent historians like James Michener, and Americo Paredes of the University of Texas, and mentions of Paredes in Europe, including the Countess de Paredes, who was the guardian of 'Juana La Loca', the daugher of Isabella and Ferdinand, of Spain.

Another reference to a Paredes, is that of James Michener, in his book, Carribean, in which a Paredes- Ledesma, is mentioned as the Spanish Admiral who successfully defeated the first state- sponsored terrorist of the time, England's Sir Francis Drake, in and around, the Carribean.

There was a Paredes who was President of Mexico, at the time of the Mexican-American war, one Mariano de Paredes, who, after deposing Santa Ana, the self-styled "Napoleon of the West" was himself deposed a year later, and with his family moved to the northern provinces of Mexico, in and around Chihuahua.

One fact that must be understood...the "Law of Burgos" promulgated by the Spanish Crown, in answer to Queen Elizabeth I of England, and the 'Black Legend' which she started, to whip up resentment against the Spanish, by maintaining that the Spanish killed most of the Amerinds with which they came in contact, and thereby increasing interest in, and colonization to, fact, the opposite was true. The English, in only the upper N.E part of the north american continent, killed more 'Indians" than the Spanish did in all of the New World. But the Spanish Law, required that any spanish subject that fraternized with a native of the New Spain, would by law, have to marry that person, explaining the mixing, and the preponderence of Spanish names vis å vis Indian names.

The prevailing culture in all of what is now North, Central, and South America, is, and has been Spanish, including, language,customs, mores, ethics, religion, and architecture. There are 300 million +spanish- named persons in the Americas. For 300 + years, Spain ruled that part of the North American continent including Mexico, and land from Florida to California, Colorado, Nevada, as well as the islands of the Carribean. Mexico, on the other hand, ruled Texas for a period of 13 years, from 1822 - 1835.

The name, Paredes, then, is as American as Los Angeles, San Francisco, El Paso, and Las Vegas, and spanish names are part of the region's history. Spanish named men made up 1/10th of the defenders of the Alamo, and all of the attackers. As a matter of history, Mexican citizens,(some were American defectors) fought on both sides in that battle.(Only Davy Crockett's troops were not Mexican citizens.)

There have been 1,786+ persons named Paredes who have lived and died in what is now the United States, since the Civil War. THE HISTORY OF THE NAME, PAREDES. THE PAREDES NAME.According to the Historical Research Center tm, the name signifies "one who hails from Paredes." At least six places bear the name in Spain, those being Murcias de Paredes, Melo de Paredes, also in the provinces of Cuenca,Crense, Oveido, and Pontevedra. Pared, derives from the latin 'paretis' both meaning 'wall', and signifying the 'great walls' built around settlements in Spain by the Romans, when Rome ruled. There is research that holds that the Paredes, whose roots are ours, were jewish, and became 'Maranos' who fled to the 'new world'.

THE EARLIEST TREE IN THE USA. (Spanish) Paredes and French Lady come to New Spain( Most of the Americas)Their off-spring move to Sinaloa, thento the northern provinces of Chihuahua.
P.A.Paredes marries J.Ortegon Paredes El Paso, Texas 1890's. Both were living in El Paso and had been for some time.____________
Children:Girls... Amelia, Tita.Boys..Saul,Angel,Peter,Abel,Carlos.
Amelia (no children)
Tita (Freddie)Saul w/ Bea BarelaS.Oliver,
Raymond Arthur(dec)Angel w/ Herlinda(children's names N.A)
Peter w/ Helen MapulaAlice J, Peter III, Sam and David (dec)
Abel w/ JosephineAbel, Raymond Arthur, Cecilia, and Cynthia.
Carlos w/ Irene San MiguelAnn E., Carlos Jr, Sylvia and Miriam.

Military preparing for Kerry as our Next president:

Judge: It's ok for jurors to be drunk
NEW YORK (Reuters) - New Yorkers dreading jury duty take note: it's OK to be drunk on booze or high on pot or cocaine while doing your civic duty.

So said a New York judge on Wednesday, who refused to set aside the verdict on a retired city firefighter convicted of swiping souvenirs from Ground Zero, citing the U.S. Supreme Court to back her ruling. Samuel Brandon, 61, found guilty in March of petty larceny for stealing personal items from the ruins of the World Trade Center, asked for a new trial after a juror told him after the verdict that he had been drinking during deliberations.

But Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Ellen Coin cited a 1987 Supreme Court decision which rejected the argument that jurors consuming alcohol, smoking marijuana, snorting cocaine and falling asleep constituted an "outside influence" on jurors.

Coin said being drunk on jury duty was "reprehensible," but that there was little she could do about it given the Supreme Court ruling.

I make occasional visits over to the "news of the weird" website...Sometimes I find some things so funny I have to pass them along:

Thomas Pinckney, 18, charged with trespass in Tomah, Wis., in June after a woman awoke at night to find him holding her arm, told police that he had found the woman's keys in her apartment door and was just trying to return them.

Mr. Thubten Dargyel, 53, who was arrested for sexual assault on a mentally disabled woman in Madison, Wis., in June, explained the presence of his semen by claiming that he ejaculates when he sneezes and that, in fact, he was surprised only that his semen doesn't show up on many other patients, too.

In a federal court in Austin, Texas, in June, accused bank robber Adam Martin, 38, acting dramatically as his own lawyer, inexplicably called his brother Michael as a character witness even though he knew that Michael had already pleaded guilty to being Adam's partner on four robberies. Adam asked if Michael had ever committed any crimes. Predictably (that is, to everyone except Adam), Michael responded, "Yeah. You were with me on four different bank robberies, Adam. You know that."

John Hutcherson, 21, was arrested in Marietta, Ga., in August for vehicular homicide and DUI after he drove 12 miles home and went to bed, allegedly oblivious of the dead body of his good friend that was hanging out his passenger-side window. According to police, the 23-year-old pal had been decapitated by a telephone pole guide wire when he stuck his head out the window after Hutcherson veered off the road. A neighbor alerted police the next morning when he saw the body still draped on the door of Hutcherson's truck. [Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 8-30-04]

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Truck maker will sell giant pickup
Navistar starts marketing cement mixer-based truck that dwarfs the Hummer and the F-350.

For the driver looking for more in a pickup -- one that dwarfs the Hummer and the Ford F-350 -- Navistar has just the ride for you.

The new CXT -- short for commercial extreme truck and built from the same platform as the heavy-truck maker's typical tow truck or cement mixer -- will be sold starting this week by Navistar's International Truck & Engine subsidiary.
At 258 inches, or 21-1/2 feet long, the CXT is about 4-1/2 feet longer than the new Hummer H2 pickup, and about 2 inches longer than the F-350 Crew Cab.

But the way it really towers over what's on the road now is in height. At 108 inches, or 9 feet, the CXT stands only a foot below a basketball rim and more than two feet above the Hummer or the F-350.
"It's not going to fit into the standard garage," said Mark Oberle, a spokesman for Navistar, based in Warrenville, Ill., outside Chicago. "We can see it as a vehicle for business people who want to make a distinct impression. For personal use, it's for people who want to make a statement."

One statements: The buyer has a great deal of money to spend. The price for the CXT ranges from about $93,000 to $115,000 fully loaded, with such creature comforts as a DVD player and leather upholstery.
Buyers will also have to have a fair amount of money to fill it up -- it's projected to get between 6 and 10 miles per gallon of diesel fuel.
The vehicle weighs about seven tons empty and can carry another six tons in its truck bed.

Will Smart's weird cars make it here? (from
If you've been to Europe in the past few years, you may have seen people driving around in small cars that look like giant insect heads.
You weren't hallucinating -- and you may be seeing these 'Smart ForTwos,' or cars like them, on roads in this country in the next few years.
The Smart ForTwo is built in "smartville" in the town of Hambach, France. Smart, a subdivision of DaimlerChrysler, sells the ForTwo in Europe, where gasoline commonly costs about $5 a gallon and city streets are old and narrow. In that environment, driving a car that gets about 60 miles a gallon may be, well, smart.
DaimlerChrysler's decision, at least for now, not to sell the ForTwo in the United States is probably smart, too. This is not a car many Americans would go for.
Instead, the folks at Smart are working on some cars that maintain the sporty looks but with attributes American drivers want.
Manhattan meets ForTwo
I recently spent a day driving a ForTwo around New York City. The experience revealed plenty of interest in the car.
At stoplights, people rolled down their windows and shouted questions. On Manhattan's 8th avenue, a bicycle messenger yelled out, "What the hell is that?" In a supermarket parking lot in Queens, a small crowd gathered to ask questions.
One couple even followed me home to find out how they could buy one.
The first question everyone asked -- actually the second one -- was "Is it electric?" or "Is it a hybrid?"
Given the car's cutting edge looks, it was an easy assumption to make. (The car's design has remained largely unchanged since it first rolled into production in 1998.)

No, I informed them. It's just a diesel.
Inside the car, that fact was unmistakable. The tiny three-cylinder engine, situated just behind and below the seats, raised a racket reminiscent of a groovy 1960s VW Beetle. In 21st century terms, however, the noise is not so groovy.
To keep up with traffic, I had to wring out every bit of the engine's maximum 41 horsepower. According to the spec sheet, the Smart ForMore cdi I drove could go zero-to-60 in 19.8 seconds.
The gasoline engined version, with its 0.7 liter rear-mounted in-line 3 pumping out 60 horsepower, would presumably blow the diesel's doors off in the quarter-mile.
Well, it would win, anyway.
Aside from its slowness and interior noise level, the ForTwo would face a far more basic hurdle in the U.S. market. The average American consumer just won't buy a 2-seater that isn't a sports car. Take away the back seats and that thing better go zero-to-60 in six seconds or less.
Since the car is designed to fit two-abreast in a parking space designed for one, there isn't a whole lot of room for luggage, either.
For the United States market, Smart has something entirely new in mind: an SUV version of another one of its cars, the ForFour.

Starting in 2006 the Smart ForMore will be built in a factory in Juiz de Fora, Brazil. The company plans to sell 30,000 ForMores in the United States, and an equal number elsewhere around the world.
Aiming to compete against the Toyota Rav4 and Honda CR-V, the vehicle will be equipped with a 1.8 liter 4-cylinder engine or an optional 3-liter V-6.
If your heart is set on owning one of the original ForTwos, a California firm wants to give you the chance. But DaimlerChrysler doesn't endorse the effort.
Zap, a Santa Rosa-base company that sells a variety of electric cars, is working to import ForTwos and hopes to sell as many as 15,000 a year. The company already has contracted with an importer, said Alex Campbell, a Zap spokesman.
Once here, an automotive conversion company will beef up the car's bumpers, add more side impact protection and make a few other changes to meet U.S. safety regulations, Campbell said. Right now, Zap is waiting for approval from the Environmental Protection Agency.
Zap will concentrate on "luxury" versions of the cars with cabriolet tops and leather interiors. Prices will range from the teens to as much as $23,000.
DaimlerChrysler is not involved with Zap's effort and warns that it will not provide dealer support here for the cars. Zap says its dealers will be trained to service the cars.
The cars is importing will be a shade quicker than the model I tested, said Campbell. At any rate, customers looking at a Smart ForTwo are probably interested in something besides speed, he said.
"Zero to 60 doesn't matter as long as you can get where you're going and get there safely with minimal impact on the environment," he said.
He'd better keep those prices down, though. At $23,000, upper-end models would have to compete against the Toyota Prius, a muscle car by comparison, with room for four adults and luggage.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

She won't testify in a criminal case against Kobe because of the "trauma" she has endured over the past 14 months, but she'll have no problem testifying in a Civil case (in which she has less protection of personal persecution, but does got money as the end result). Katelyn Faber has once and for all shown her true colors.