30 November 2006

Thinking Better of A Book Title

My brother has an older edition of Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law. It is entitled Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual.
Where before their book would teach you how to libel, now it teaches you about media law. That's an improvement in the title.

The Plunkett is Gone

As Lou points out on his AOL Instant Messenger profile, the Plunkett is gone. The new bar doesn't allow smoking, which I think is pretty cool. Here is a link.

26 November 2006

Email salutations and closings

There was an article in the Times today about email salutations and closings. I usually use Hi and Best if I am talking with friends, or Dear and Love if I am emailing family.
I disagree with the article, I think Best is very nice and warm, and isn't cold at all. If I am emailing a professor (not so much anymore) or someone I don't want to use Best on for some reason, I just use my email signature, and if I am emailing a potential employer, I use Dear so-and-so: and Sincerely, since I don't think you can go wrong with that.
I used to sign emails with a slash -- /Douglas -- but someone I knew did not like that, so I changed to Best.
I'd never use xoxo as this article says some people do. I think it could convey the wrong impression.
As a side note, I don't like the use of Very Truly Yours in legal correspondence. Yours implies that I belong to someone, and I don't. Sincerely serves its purpose as a closing just as well.
I guess maybe this all goes to show that one should not read too much into closings.

23 November 2006

Amaze your friends and scare your enemies

The quote is from Microsoft's System Internals Team.
Microsoft's System Internals team came out with a really neat screensaver. It simulates a Blue Screen of Death on Windows. I'll just copy and paste the sections on Windows XP and Windows 2000/98 functions (the exclamation points are Microsoft's, not mine).

On Win2K and Windows 9x it presents the Win2K startup splash screen, complete with rotating progress band and progress control updates!

On Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 it present the XP/Server 2003 startup splash screen with progress bar!

Here is a link.
Someone at the System Internals Team had too much time on their hands.
If you have Windows XP, then you should have no problem dealing with the zip file, but if you have Windows 2000 or Windows 98, you'll have to download a program to deal with the zip file.

22 November 2006

Check Out Gmail's Page

A reminder to check out Gmail's page on Thanksgiving Day, they usually post some cute things on it.

20 November 2006

Google Maps Will Call Businesses For You

Google Maps now has a neat new feature. You can now call a business using Google Maps. You find the business on Google Maps and then enter your phone number.
Google then calls your phone and then connects you to the business. I was expecting the call to appear on my display as a call from a phone number in Mountain View (where Google's headquarters is).
That was not the case though. The phone number came up as the business I was calling. Strange, because the business wasn't calling me at that point, it was Google, who was going to connect me to the business. After I picked up, it said "connecting" and rang the business. Having the number appear on my phone is useful because I would be able to capture the number of the business if I wanted to. I just thought that the caller id was set by who was calling you, so this was surprising. If I had a landline and paid for long distance, it would be more useful because it would save me on long distance bills.

18 November 2006

Free Backups of Your Contacts on Vz Wireless

I was logged on to Verizon Wireless recently and noticed that they have -- free -- if you use their online service called My Account, an address book backup system. You download a little application to your phone and you can use it to send your phone numbers. It is useful if my phone ever dies or I lose my phone, because I use my cell phone for nearly all of my numbers. The link for the backup service is here, although I was able to link to it from my My Account home page.
Update: What's especially neat about it is that you can do it automatically, so that in the middle of the night it will talk to Verizon Wireless and send your contacts without any intervention on your part.
As a side note, I never memorize people's phone numbers anymore. When I was in high school and college (and did not own a cell phone) I dialed nearly all of my friends' numbers, so through repetition, I memorized them. I even remember some of them to this day. But now that I have a cell phone, I just have to find the person I want to call in my contacts list and hit the send key, so I never remember the person's phone number.
As a second side note, over the summer (I think), Verizon Wireless started allowing you to see who you had spent money text messaging. That's useful if you wonder why your text messaging bill is so high.

15 November 2006

Updated MySpace

I updated my MySpace profile with a song by The Duhks. They are this really cool Canadian group that I heard on the Mike Harding Show on the BBC. The song is described by them as Zydeco, but they have an impressive mix on their CD. The repertoire ranges from Irish music to spirituals from the Georgia Sea Islands. I'm debating getting another CD from them. I'm intentionally not linking to my MySpace profile here. If you know me, look me up and add me as your friend to view my profile.
I know some people don't like my profile picture, but since that is one of the few things on my profile that comes up without my adding the person as my friend, I want to make sure that the picture is ok for potential employers.

Microsoft Blogs

One blog that I am subscribed to is a blog published by the Mac Office team called Mac Mojo. Blogs that are published by teams at Google tend to read like press releases and are usually not that interesting (with the possible exception of Blogger Buzz, whose team does not seem to be so censored). While I'm sure Microsoft has policies in place for blog posts by its teams, the blogs there seem freer. This post on Mac Mojo, for example, talks about their testing program for Microsoft Excel. Essentially, they have a giant spreadsheet on which they run calculations to make sure that the calculations that Excel returns are the ones that they expect it to return. They run these tests on both older Macs (with PowerPC processors) and newer Macs (with Intel processors). It wouldn't do if all of the PowerPC Macs said that two plus two equaled five. Sometimes the posts on the Mac Mojo blog are technically over my head, but it is much more interesting to read about how they test their products rather than read some blog entry that reads like a press release.
The Microsoft Security Response Center's blog is also pretty interesting.

Cell Phones in New York City Schools

There has been a debate for a number of months about the ban on cell phones in New York City's schools. Parents talk about how it is important to contact their children or for their children to contact them. I agree with Jerry's earlier comment on this post. Because of cell phones, people do not plan things in advance.
When I was in school (before cell phones were really popular), I would use a payphone to call my parents when I needed to be picked up from school. If I got sick, the nurse would call a parent at work or home. Cell phones are not absolutely necessary for children in school. With that being said...
I'd hope that if someone at the school decided I needed a cornea transplant (as apparently happened according to this article), the school would at least try to talk to me about getting in touch with my parents, rather than leave me to try to contact them surreptitiously with my cell phone.
I also do not understand how a mother whose daughter broke her arm in a fight would not be able to get through to the school.
As far as the child who was unable to call for help when he was arrested for disorderly conduct, my bet is that one of the things that gets taken away from you when you are arrested is your cell phone. So I don't think the cell phone ban hurt that young man.
If the school does not answer the phone, does not have adequate track of its students, or sends them to hospitals for corneal transplants without consulting a parent or making a reasonable effort to contact the parent, then that is a serious problem which must be fixed. I think cellphones can be useful to students and convenient for them. If they are in lockers throughout the school day, I don't really see a problem.
However, students can use payphones to inform parents of their whereabouts, just as students did for years before cell phones became widespread, so I'm not sure if cell phones are absolutely necessary. Maybe an absolute ban is a good idea.

11 November 2006

New York State Pavillion

There was an article in the Times about the New York State Pavillion. These are structures that were built for the 1964 World's Fair in New York City. They might have been a nice tourist attraction (but for the fact that they are in Queens, pretty far from Manhatttan) but the city allowed them to become dilapidated. They're in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, near LaGuardia Airport and Shea Stadium. I usually see them when I get off the Long Island Expressway onto the Grand Central Parkway. It's too bad, because they sound like they would have been really neat to go the top of, and I think that you might have had a clear view to Manhattan (and certainly out to Long Island) from there, but I'm not positive, since I have never been up there.
As a side note, if you have been to Disney World, you may have seen a part of the 1964 World's Fair. In Tomorrowland, there is something called Carousel of Progress (that's the ride where you go into a theatre and then it rotates around in a circle through various scenes of American life) This is its page on Wikipedia; and this is a link to Disney's official page for it. I noticed from its Wikipedia page that Disney only opens it in season. That's unfortunate, I think it is a neat ride for its historical perspective.

10 November 2006

Mobile Service Spikes in University Park During Football Games

Saw an article in the Daily Collegian about various mobile phone carriers and their efforts to remedy service spikes during football games. When I was there for the Youngstown State game, I had no problem contacting René/Richie to meet up before the game. That, I realize, was a minor game and I also was not trying to call during halftime.
I realize that it is difficult for providers to be able to provide service of this nature, especially when they only need it for a few days a year. On the other hand, I'm glad they're looking into it. I don't think text messaging is a valid solution, since it costs extra money.
As far as people complaining about meeting up, prior to the game, they could arrange a meeting place before the game. This is what people did before the invention of mobile phones.

08 November 2006

For Grammarians

I discovered this site the other day on the web. I am linking to the site's homepage (as the site owner requests). If you click on the link to go to the list of errors, there are a ton of them, so don't be discouraged by the homepage. It's mostly text, and therefore is quite fast. The entry on apostrophes is especially interesting.

07 November 2006

Rene's Blog Post on EZ Pass

René recently posted an entry on her blog about EZ Pass and the bar exam. I disagree with her on EZ Pass being just as neat as passing the bar exam, although I do think it's neat. My family has had it for a number of years -- at least five years, probably more. In any case, it really saves us time (and sometimes money) at toll plazas. When I was younger, we used to have to wait in long lines at the toll booth to go across the Throgs Neck Bridge. Now, it is very rare to have these long lines. We just go straight through the EZ Pass lanes, and it takes a minute or so. The neatest EZ Pass lanes are the ones on the New Jersey Turnpike, where you can go through them at fifty-five miles per hour. There are also some areas around New York City where they gauge how long it takes a person to go from point A to point B by capturing the EZ Pass information at both locations. They then post that information on a wizard sign. They could use that to catch speeders, of course.
For example: If Pierre travels from Baton Rouge, Louisiana to Waterproof, Louisiana in 1 1/2 hours, and the cities are 118 miles apart, Pierre must have gone faster than sixty miles per hour at some point on his journey. Therefore, if the speed limit is fifty-five miles per hour, Pierre must have sped at some point on his journey. This journey is not apocryphal, there really is a Waterproof, Louisiana. Here is a link to Google maps so you can see this journey yourself. (And yes, I know that EZ-Pass does not exist in Louisiana, I just wanted to talk about Pierre and Waterproof)
EZ-Pass does not do this. However, if you exceed the speed limit going through the toll plaza, they can photograph your license plate and potentially mail you a ticket or take away your EZ-Pass privileges. I would not want my EZ-Pass privileges taken away; I've seen the lines for non-EZ-Pass lanes at the toll plazas and am glad I never have to wait on them.
And René, you still might want to make sure you are fully clothed while going through EZ-Pass lanes. Sometimes there are people in the booths. Particularly on the I-78 crossing over the Delaware into Pennsylvania, there are often people in the booths. I guess people crossing there have trouble understanding the signs that say "EZ-Pass Only" lanes, so they need people there so the people who don't have EZ-Pass can pay the toll.