2004-05-27

Leaving on a Jet Plane


Okay, so that plane is at the gate next to mine.

My plane to Atlanta looks to be a decient sized 737.

I'm online at the airport - wireless. But for some reason my AIM won't start. It gets past password, and says starting services, but never finishes starting. Maybe something is unhappy in the software. But it worked fine before I left. I even tries turning off the firewall software (which I turned on before going online at the airport.) Oh well.


2004-05-26

Outlook Extract Software

I was looking for a way to backup my outlook emails. After doing a quick search on Google, and not being very impressed with what I found, I checked Source Forge for any open source extract tools for Outlook.
I found Outport. It has the ability to extract by folder, with different output formats.

It created a file per email. The file name message#.type. Where the # is the number of the file, starting with '1'. But when you get above 9 messages, the natural sort order of name gets mixed. So I wrote a small cygwin script to rename the files with leading zeros, so all the numbers are always 4 digits.

The first format is an HTML file. But when I opened it in IE, it didn't show anything. Looking at the HTML code of one of the emails, I saw stuff that looked like it was created with word. When I opened it with word, it came up well. So I renamed all the files to .html.doc, so that they will open with word.

Another format is 'outlook item', which is a .msg file, which opens as a stand alone message by outlook.

It also does text version of the emails.

I just wish it did .msg format - raw email style.

Hiking from Palmer Lake

In January, we hiked up from above the Palmer Lake area near Monument.


View uphill.
From what I can tell, we were on a hike up Mount Herman Road.


view back down canyon.

When we were beginning of the hike, I took a picture of the road from where we parked. Here I've played with the colors, making it look almost sepia.

Larger, original picture
I wanted to emphasize the red in the do-not-enter sign without making it look like it was pasted into the picture.

[Comments on the picture requested]



Matrix Fan Film Site

A group of New Zeland actors and amature film makers decided to make their own version of the matrix called Fanimatrix.

It is a big download to watch, but from the first 5 minutes, I can say that it is worth the broadband download.

You can hear some of the sounds ripped off from the Matrix trilogy. While the sound track and camera motion show it is not a full-professional production, it is very well done for non-professional.

2004-05-25

Martha's Matches are a Fire Hazard

I found a hot story on a government site.

It seems that Martha Stewart Everyday(R) Safety Matches may ignite upon impact.

I thought that was the idea behind matches: to ignite when you strike them!

Well, it seems that people may be getting burnt on more than just Martha's company stock.

From: Consumer Product Safety Commission

Hot Air Balloon

In January, I heard an odd sound outside our house. It was the sound of a hot air balloon doing a number of burns. This was not the first time I've heard this near our house. A few times a year, the winds seem to bring a balloon to our neighborhood. This time it flew right past our house


As we live on a hill, it usually takes a lot of burns to get past our neighborhood. This balloon came relatively close to the house. I got a few good pictures out of the front door.


Then I got a few pictures out across the backyard


It seems this balloon is known as "High-Ho" piloted by "Don Dougherty" of the local hot air balloon club: Ballooning Society of Pikes Peak

Robot Magazines

I subscribe to a few robot-related magazines.

I just renewed my subscription to Circuit Cellar. Circuit Cellar is not specificially about robotics. It is mostly about microcontroller projects. It usually has at least one direct article about robotics, and a lot of the other articles have useful information. I find this magazine has the best details. I like the contests, even though I haven't yet entered one. There is always lots of good reading in this magazine.

Another magazine has been around for quite a while: Nuts and Volts. This magazine has an assortment of articles. Often there is one or more articles on robotics. This magazine has spun off a robot-only magazine: Servo.

Servo is for the robot hobbiest. It has only been publishing a few months. You can tell it still has a little to go to be a solid magazine. This is a great place for a beginner to start, and still has a lot of information for someone who has done a little more with robots. It may be a little bit of a disappointment at first for someone who has done a lot with robots.

If nothing else, these magazines also give place for advertisers. This may be the only way to find out about some products that are out there related to robotics.

2004-05-24

Select Startup Programs

MSCONFIG is a built-in program that comes with many versions of Windows. (95, NT & 2K don't come with it).
How to Use MSCONFIG

I've used it in Windows 98 a number of times. By taking out things I don't think are needed, I've managed to not only speed up startup, but I've also reduced crashes quite a bit.

It can be hard to be sure what program you need or don't need. But you can use this list for a rough guide for W98.

Digichrome's Blog

Welcome to Digichrome's Blog.

It appears my interest in blogging has sparked one of my friends to starting his own blog. I look forward to reading more in his blog!

Sand Castle Pictures

I took a bike ride with my boys Saturday afternoon. We went to the big park next to the local high school. Lev likes the BMX track. The boys enjoy the playground. And I enjoy making sand castles :) .


Pre-mound of sand for sand castle. My boys are so used to being able to jump on the sand mountains, that I had to tell them a few times not to jump on it, as I wanted to make it a castle.


Finished castle. The sand under was too dry to do much forming on the base, but I was able to able to make a couple of towers, then I dredged up some more wet sand for a bridge.

Later I did an experiment. I wanted to see if I could make a good wet sand pile for tunnel digging. It turns out I did too well.

First I stripped and area to the wet layer underneath. Then I took turns piling sand then packing it by standing on it. I made it so tight, that it hurt to dig the tunnels. But Lev and I dug some tunnels for the challenge.

Hiking Glen Eyrie Again


Rock Formations


Tree and Waterpipe crossing streambed

My step-mother flew into town yesterday for a few days. As she had just been in Salt Lake City for a few days, she was already feeling a little more comfortable with the alititude. I suggested the hike to Dorothy falls. It was a sunny day, so the shady hike up to the falls was a nice adventure. The water flow was much less than a couple of weeks ago. Eitan managed to fall into a pool of water just as we were starting back down from the falls. I wound up carrying him about half the hike back. This made for a bigger workout than I expected :) . It was a wonderful hike. About the only thing that marred it was the fact the a number of of the railings on the bridges at the bottom had been vandalized during our hike. We were still able to get down safely, but there were a couple of places that it made it a tiny bit nerve racking. But the worst thing was to think that there are some people that would do this. It is the kind of thing that can ruin it for a lot of people. And I had to explain to my boys, because they noticed all the pieces that had been broken.
It was a shame my wife was up at school in Boulder and couldn't join us this time! Hopefully next time!

2004-05-23

This is True - Humor

I joined the This is True mailing list a long time ago. I still get the free=reduced-sized-with-advertising weekly email. I think the stories are alwahys great - and usually very funny. Although all the zero-tolerence stories from Colorado can also be a bit concerning. Why don't I get the premuim editing? While I think it is a very good service, I'm afriad I don't quite think it is worth how much the premium edition costs.

The honorary unsubscribes are usually very interesting. This is the person who usually obscure, but has made a noticable impact on the world, who has passed on reciently. I give This is True a lot of credit for coming up with someone truely worth mentioning for the underrecogzined contributions.

Also available from the site is the famous 'Get Out of Hell Free!' cards.

This is True by Randy Cassingham - Weird but True News from Around the World

2004-05-21

SPAM from UAL

I just got a spam email from "Alicia_Simmons@yahoo.com".
She says: "Your friend has prepared for you to meet up with another friend."
And pointed me to a URL: "http://mywaytodate.com/confirm/?oc=########"

Getting a spam like this isn't all that strange. I'm certainly used to getting emails like this.
But this one was a little different. And a bit concerning.

You see, when I looked behind the scenes at what email address this spam was sent to, it was sent to a special email alias that I had set up only for emails from United Airlines. I've gotten a number of newsletters from United since last November.

This means that the spammer behind this email very likely got this email address from United Airlines' server. And then the question becomes did they get other information from United Airlines besides just my special email address? And of course, how many other people's information did they get?

I immediately wrote to United Airlines, and included the raw version of the email, expressing my concern about the possible breach in security.

Then I traced where the email came from with ARIN Home Page and sent another email off to what is hopefully resposible administrators who can at least shut down the route that the spammer used to send out the email.

Pictures at the Zoo

Every year, the local Zoos have a light show. Where they set up all sorts of interesting light displays. We went to out local zoo this year.

Sample of the lights setup.


In the giraffe house


The overpriced carousel

2004-05-20

Air & Space Screensavers

For those of you interested in space and the like, here is a collection of screensavers
Air & Space Screensavers

Pictures - Infrared & Outside


Self portrait in Infrared, as displayed at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science in the new space wing, connected to the Gates Planetarium


Outside where I work. Artistic, no?

Urban Legends: Andy Kaufman

Well, I heard an odd rumor today. It seems that someone has created a blog, claiming to be Andy Kaufman. It seems that they thought 20 years after his death would be a good time to play on Andy Kaufman's odd sense of humor.

Not surprisingly, it turns out not to be true: Urban Legends Reference Pages: Inboxer Rebellion (Andy Kaufman)

And as a rule of thumb, Snopes is a great place to check out if a story is another false urban legend.

2004-05-19

Pictures of the Rocky Mountains


Pikes Peak and the Surrounding mountains. Lots of contrails in the sky. Taken November 2003.


Ute Valley Park - view into the Rocky Mountains along with Pikes Peak.

Dinosaur Resource Center

Early last Noverber, my family and I went to the traveling Dinosaur exhibiting up in Denver. While we were there, I noticed a sign for a new Dinosaur Museum that was supposed to be going up near Colorado Springs. I took a digital picture of the sign to remind me.

Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center


I just checked and found their website. The website says they will be opening this Memorial day 2004. That is in less than two weeks. I wish them well!

Denver Area Robot Club

While I live in Colorado Springs, the closest group I've found to share my robot hobby with are up in Denver. Well, not quite Denver: we usually meet in a suburb south of Denver. An area called Highlands Ranch. Which is where the Ranch in RanchBots comes from.



It is an interesting group of people. The guy who leads the group, Kerwin, is a really nice guy. He works with electronics, and is very good about sharing his knowledge. He is very good with helping beginners. He helped out a whole high school class the last year, so I give him a lot of credit for that.

There are an interesting collection of other people who usually attend. Some of them are a bit geeky and some you wouldn't know that they were technically minded. I think it is great to see a mother and her (I guess about) 8 year old son come to most of the monthly meetings. He is excited by the simpler robots, and often has a neat robotic-style toy he has built or customized. But the mother always seems to be trying to learn more about the more complex robotics. I can see that she has to really push herself to grasp some of the concepts we throw around. But I think it is fantastic that she keeps coming back. Keep asking questions!

Another guy who often shows up comes down even further than I drive up. He comes down from the more advanced Front Range Robot Group out of Fort Collins. It is always interesting to see what he comes up with. He has put together some fantastic hardware.



Every four months we have schedule a joint meeting between the two groups, just past the northern edge of Denver. It's not too bad a drive for the Denver guys, but it means I have to drive a little more than the Fort Collins guys. Unluckily I missed the last joint meeting, as my son was having his birthday party. It seems like the spring meeting is always a poor showing from the Denver club. Perhaps we should just make that one an automatic skip. :)

2004-05-18

Humor: ZUG

Some funny stuff on this site. But beware - not for the sensitive types in the crowd :).

ZUG - The World's Only Comedy Site - Pranks, Jokes, Funny Video Clips, and Other Funny Stuff

Game: 3D Tank

I ran across this open source site last month. I downloaded it, but I haven't tried it. It is supposed to be like Battle Zon.e

There are all sorts of neat projects going on at Source Forge.

If anyone gets to try it before I do - let me know what you think!

Pictures: Garden of the Gods


Red rock formation
Note the famous 'Kissing Camels':


Showing the main entry road. Another major rock formation, this one is a bit whiter. Cloudy Pikes Peak in the background.

Flying to Florida

Well, I'm flying down to Florida for Memorial day weekend. This time when I checked Orbitz I was surprised to find no non-stops from Denver to Fort Myers. Well, if I have to change planes, it was worth checking flying out of
Colorado Springs Airport.
Before 911, it cost about the same to fly out of the Springs, you just usually had to accept 1-stop verses non-stop compared to Denver. But this is the first time that costs have been similar, and Denver has gone to a one-stop. Okay, so maybe it has to do with the season too, but I like being able to fly out of the Springs. It is a really nice airport. I might go early to enjoy the Free Wireless at the Springs airport. They charge at Denver.

I love it! I just read the name of the SSID (the name of the wireless network) at the Springs airport: 'tsunami'. Why do I love it? Because it goes well with the name of my Toshiba laptop: 'Tornado'!

Humor: Real Life IT Troubles

I subscribed to an email list from ComputerWorld called Shark Tank.

I look forward to reading it every day. It has stories about people in IT (the technology field) - showing Dilbert-like incompetence at all levels. It is usually very funny. Whoever is the hero of the story is called the 'fish'. Mondays are usually a bonus day with often 3 or more stories!

2004-05-17

Game: Freeciv

I found an earlier version of this game included with linux (or was it cygwin?). They have a version for windows too. And it is open source - thus the Free in Freeciv.

This game is based on Civ II. It has a multiplayer network version as well. I thought it played well. They have had a number of revisions since the last time I tried it. The only limitation I remember is that to play a network game, you have to run the server software on Linux.

Download Freeciv

Pictures: Misc


A quick sandcastle I built at the playground at Palmer Park last month. Not as fancy as Professional sand castles. But I have fun building little ones. I can't seem to avoid making them when I can. And I've figured out a trick to make the mound quickly with my feet, so that helps.


Another picture from Glen Eyrie. The first time I hiked there. This is a rock formation near the top edge just before the old quary.


An aritstic (IMHO) picture I took at the Air Force Academy this weekend. I was trying to highlight the drop of water, but it turned out a bit subtle.

Site: Howstuffworks

I found this site again the other day when I wanted to see if my understanding of how DNS (Domain Name Services - how typing www.google.com works behind the scenes) works was correct. The site has a very good overview of how many things work.
Looking further in the electronics section they talk about
Home Networking
I was reading through one of the sections on CDs - and it was interesting how some of the data was obviously dated: they were talking about 2x burners as a premium finally falling below the $1000 range.
I was surprised that in talking about CD Tracking they didn't mention that a CD drive actually has 5 read 'heads' - 1 for data and 4 for positioning. Perhaps it is hidden in one of their later articles.

2004-05-16

Hiking AFA

We went to visit our friends who live on the Air Force Academy yesterday. We went with them for a hike along the Falcon Trail.

To get into the Academy took over 20 minutes. They only have one person working the desk, and he is very, very methodical.

I got a couple of nature pictures:

Baby pine cones on a tree - macro focus. I think this came out well.


A picture looking back along the trail. You can just make out the chapel - the 'triangle' building on the left edge of the ridge.


Wild Flowers along the trail.

Software: Knoppix Linux

I head recient read about software called Knoppix Linux.
This is a special version of the Linux software. It is a single CD image file when you download it. It is designed to be a bootable CD - with a compressed version of the file system - with lots and lots of good utilities built in. This is great as a rescue CD or can be used to make into a kiosk system.

I've downloaded it - but I haven't tried it yet. It is supposed to be very good at detecting many different types of hardware. I've got a nasty old Compaq system - with a speical SCSI interface on the motherboard that has made earlier version of Linux burp in the past. So I may have to try it on that just as an acid test.

Shopping: Overstock.com

I found Overstock.com when searchinf for the old Sci-Fi/Horrorish movie Saturn 3 on Saturn 3 has a horror-theme, it is also a pretty good, if hokey, Sci-Fi movie. It is obvious they put a lot more money into the interior sets and the robot than outside spaceship shots.
I love the complexity of theRobot.

2004-05-15

Awesome Game Creation

The first item I ordered on Half.Com was:
Awesome Game Creation: No Programming RequiredAwesome Game Creation : No Programming Required(2000)
This is a neat book. At the homeschool cooperative, one of the parents was a local college teacher. He decided to teach a version of his game course to the teens at the coop. As I was not working at that time, I asked to 'lurk' in the class. The teacher was happy to let me. I was glad he did. It was a good class. The book and the class teach you how to get started in creating games using these game building applications. The book covers a few different engines. The engines for the most part require no programming. You import graphics and audio, and drag-and-drop objects, then select options in different windows. In most cases there is some scripting you can do behind the scenes to improve your games. But the kids were able to come up with all sorts of shoting games, a modified driving game and even an adventure game. While Lev was not interest in the class, I told him about it. He got rather interested in it at home. I showed him how you can use the system with paint to create your own animated sprites. He surprised me with his first one - it was better than the one I tried to do for him!

I haven't touched the book in a while, since I've been working. We were over at the neighbor's house, and he mentioned that his son, a little older than Lev, was interested in game programming. So I loaned him the book. I think the boy is more interested in more advanced 3D game programming, but it is a good start.
There is also a 2002 version of the game creation book. Offhand, I can't tell you what difference there is.
I noticed that there appears to be a newer version on 3D game programming in the same series. It must be new, as there are no copies available on Half.Com at this time. Hm - and the publish year is 2004.

Great Prices at Half.Com

Half.com by eBay
Half.com is run by EBay. But instead of auctions, it is people listing stuff to resell at a fixed price right away. I have found a number of technical books on this site at very good prices. After ordering about a dozen books, there was only one book that I recieved that was not in the condition indicated, yet it was still perfectly usable. And the seller worked to make it up to me. They also have some great prices on Music and Movies, and who knows what else. I suggest going with a bigger seller - as they are more likely to be reliable. Usually I got the items in less than a week - shorter than they say on the site.
The only thing you should know: half.com/ebay.com expects you to work through them on any problems instead of going to your credit card company. They even have an claim system if there is a problem.
Oh - well - there was one other problem - Half.Com mislisted a C reference guide as a C++ reference guide, but it was less than 5 bucks, so it wasn't worth putting in the claim, as the reference guide was useful to me as is.

Picture: Train


Picture of a Frieght train, 2001-08-07.
When I was commuting to Denver, I would keep my eyes out for the trains that travel near I-25. If the timing was right, I would pop off and take some pictures. This is one of the first I took in a significant collection.

Picture through a passing freight train.

2004-05-14

Free Business Magazines

I've signed up for a few free business magazines through this site. Sometimes I get a tiny bit more email than I would like from them, but it is mostly with offers for things I don't care about.

I currently have a few free digital subscriptions through them - using the Zinio magazine reader. I don't love Zinio - while the interface is true to the magazine: even the advertising cards have to be turned, and the fold out pages can take 3 or four clicks to get through. The interface feels bloated and slow, even on my 1.4Ghz laptop at full throttle. This even with some of the options turned on to speed it up - like don't show page turning animations.
Also I would have thought that the cost for digital should be a lot less. So far, I haven't seen a magazine I would pay for, but it can be interesting to browse through my free magazines.

Hippie Punch Buggy!


No tag backs!

I took this picture last September. We went to Manitou Springs for some sort of fair. Parked along a street near the fair, right near one of the public springs (3rd picture), was this Volkswagon.

Another Site I've Webmastered

Here is another site I've done:
Soli Deo Gloria Choir.

This is a local chior group here in Colorado Springs. But they have made it pretty big! They've made it to Carnigie Hall.

This was the first time I got to use my digital camera as part of the Web Authoring process. I even did some touch up on one of the pictures. There was a table in one of the pictures, that is just a blank wall now :).

2004-05-13

Relaxability - Web Site

In the past year, I had a friend in town want to move his business onto the web:
Relaxability.

He makes self-hypnosis audio CDs for self-improvement. I was able to provide the layout for the CDs and the jewel cases. We also worked on brouchures and business cards. But the main thing was the e-commerce site. It is hosted under Yahoo - but he has listed it on a number of sites. It took a bit to learn how to work with Yahoo's control's - and then a little longer how to work beyond Yahoo's controls.

We also had my cousin work up the logo - she did a great job!

More on ImageMagick

ImageMagick can also create PDF files.
It can be as simple as: convert test1.jpg test2.pdf
There are lots of things you can do, especally in scripting with ImageMagick. This is a neat program. The only thing I will warn you about is that it does use a lot of CPU to convert images.

Un*x in Windows

Cygwin is a system that I believe originally came from RedHat. RedHat is a commercial Linux distribution. But CygWin is not a whole operating system. But it does give you a lot of the Linux power under windows. And it merges with windows too. So you can write a shell script that can call windows programs too. Or write winapi compiled programs. I downloaded it last time as an easy way to have a C compiler. It comes with GCC, which also does C++ and more. But I have used it more for shell scripting. I have used it with ImageMagick to script conversion of my digital photos to a screen saver slideshow size.
I also use a dos command utility exiflist.exe to extract the width of the image to know if the picture is landscape or verticle. Perhaps I could have done that with ImageMagick.
Note - a unix verison of ImageMagick can be included when you install CygWin.

Friendster

You can join Keith's personal community at Friendster. You can network with my friends and I can network with yours!

Friendster is an online community that connects people through networks
of friends.

Once you join Friendster, you will be automatically connected to my
friends.

Click to join Friendster

Snow Covered Mountain


Last month in April, we had a bunch of snow at slightly higher elevations. The mountain was well covered. Here is a picture from downtown colorado springs. In the forground is the founder of Colorado Springs, General Palmer on his horse. In the background is the snow-covered mountain of Pikes Peak.


Here is a picture of Pikes Peak from January. It was a cloudy morning, snow still on the ground. I was driving to work, and there was a break in the clouds. There was Pikes Peak, newly snow covered, and colored from sunrise. I have seen pikes peak this color from sunrise before, but it was even more striking to see it burst onto the scene through this hole in the clouds.
This is the Purple Mountain Majesty in the song America the Beautiful.

2004-05-12

Purple Flowers


Purple flowers on a bush at Glen Eyrie, taken over the weekend.


I was thinking it might be neat to put up a picture every day or so from my digital picture collection.

'Free' Business Cards

Vista Print - Free Business Cards

Okay - not truely free. They get you on shipping and handling, and having a reference on the back of the card. But the reference is pretty low key, and the shipping and handling is pretty reasonable. I've used them more than once, and I think they are pretty good. I love having a set of business cards that I can hand out even just to give out my email addresses, or make a note on.

Earn Points for Reading Offers

I signed up a long time ago for a service called MyPoints. These days they send me a few emails a week - I think the most was about 15 in one week. Each time I check out the email, and click on an offer, I get a few points. As a rough rule of thumb, these days the points are worth about a 1/2 cent apiece. I have even bought from the advertised sites a few times.

2004-05-11

My RSS Feed

In case anyone wants to add my blog to their RSS reader:
http://kah731.blogspot.com/atom.xml

What does this mean? It means that if you have an RSS news reader (see early blog entry) you can have it look for updates I put out on this blog.

Hiking to Dorothy Falls

We took a hike this weekend at
Glen Eyrie. This is a local place, right next to Garden of the Gods. I had hiked up to the falls (and beyond) once before. This time it was a family hike. I made it up to the falls with my boys. You have to cross the stream quite a few times to make it to the falls. I love hopping over the rocks. My eldest liked to slog through the water in most spots. It was a great hike. I hope to go up there again soon.

Burning Multiple CDs

Well, not too long ago I got a DVD+-RW drive. It came with
Roxio Easy CD & DVD Creator 6. My desktop computer already had a DVD-Rom and a newish CD-RW drive. I decided to add the DVD+-RW drive instead of replacing a drive. I figured the CD-RW drive was faster for CD burning, so I left it in for when I wanted to burn CD instead of DVD media.

While going through the screen to make a backup of a CD (using disk copier), I noticed something interesting: The software was offering to burn to 2 CDs at once. So I can burn a CD in my CD-RW drive and another CD with the same data in my DVD+-RW drive at the same time with Roxio v6. They call this 'multi-destination copy'. Pretty neat. I will have to try it soon, just to see how it goes. I suppose it might be faster to burn 2 CDs in a row in my CD-RW drive than to throttle back to my DVD+-RW drive, but it might be fun to try anyhow.

2004-05-10

Fighting SpyWare

What is one of the most insidious things these days? SpyWare.

From the subtle to the insidious to the nasty.

Subtle as sending simple information about you and your computer, things like your connection speed. This isn't too bad if you know and agree. But sometimes they tell you about it in the middle of some long annoying agreement form that almost nobody fully reads or understands.

Insidious things like Gator that download extra components and send back extra data that most people done even know is happening.

Nasty things, that hijack your home page, rewrite your host files, and do who knows what other nasty things.

In a lot of cases, you computer can start to slow down and even have a lot more unexpected crashes due to spyware that loads every time you boot up.

What can you do about it? There are a number of SpyWare scanning and cleaning programs out there. I use 2 of them:

AdAware and SpyBot - Search and Destroy

In both cases, you always want to check for updates. I run them both about once a week or so. In theory they might even catch a virus on your computer too!

Each has their own strength and weaknesses.
AdAware is better at killing cookies - sometimes a little too good. I've had to add a couple of cookies I don't want it to kill, and I think it is killing some of my AvantGo cookies.

Spybot finds some more spyware - but has a less intuitive interface. It is worth figuring it out.

One of them found that the game playing system in the latest version of AIM has spyware. So I let it get rid of it too.

In both cases, they don't out-and-out delete things; they make a list you can update and move stuff to a quarantine location, which you can delete at a later time if you want.

WinVNC Remote Desktop

I reciently deployed remote desktop software. I've used it before at a previous job, but this was the first time I've set it up.

This a GPL software:
RealVNC - Download VNC 3.3.7

WINVNC or VNC - allows you to run a desktop server on your computer. The default action is to share out your current screen, so someone who uses a VNC client to connect to a VNC server then can share the mouse and keyboard of the server machine.

Why did I need this? Well, I have a friend who doesn't have use of her eyes. But she does very well on her computer with some commercial talker software called JAWS.
But like a normal home user, she comes across things that are hard to fix without an expert in the field. And sometimes things are just setup on a computer so that it really helps to look at what is going on on the screen - or know hwere to click the mouse. Like when AIM hides on the start tray - convienient if you can see - a pain in the butt if you can't. So I help her out when I can. But it can be hard to get over to her house very often to help.
As she just got DSL from Qwest She got a surprisingly good rate of $27/mo for about 6x dialup upstream and down with MSN as her ISP. (They have an even better rate if you want to roll-your-own email and skip the ISP.)
So I helped her setup DSL. This turned out to be a little harder than expected, as Qwest/MSN expect you to have W98SE or higher. She currently has only W98 1st edition. So I managed to get her system working manually. The DSL modem - now they call it a DSL Bridge - is pretty fancy. It is actually a multi-protocol DSL-HUB. It has NAT, 10/100 ethernet, a USB connection and 802.11b/g wireless. The wireless worked out well, as I was able to get online with my laptop at the same time as her desktop to help test VNC. As it was I had to do an advanced setup on her DSL bridge to forward the port for VNC, but it worked well.
Twice now, I've been able to log into her computer and help her with a bunch of settings, right from home. This way my kids weren't moving stuff around on her, and I didn't have to spend a bunch of time driving both ways to do some relatively simple fixes.

The good news is she has a windows 98 SE computer that I just have to spend a little on-site time to get running for her. But I wanted to get her working first with the system she was comfortable with.

One of the other exciting things about VNC, is there are versions for most of the platforms, so you can remote control Mac, Un*x and Windows.

RSS - News Reader

I have been using a new service called RSS. RSS is a news feed technology for the internet. It is a client application that sits in you system tray and checks for new news every hour. Behind the scene it uses XML.

I first heard about it with a pay client. So I looked around for a free client. I am using: RssReader - free RSS reader displays any RSS and Atom news feed. I like it very much. The only thing I had to do was change the updated new news sound. I like how you can double click on a headline to open it in a new browser. You can add a new feed by selecting the URL of an RSS XML feed, and copying it to the clipboard, then pressing the '+'/Add button is RssReader - it automatically pastes the URL.

Some of the RSS feeds I use:
AP World News: http://xml.newsisfree.com/feeds/69/1469.xml
CNET News: http://news.com.com/2547-1_3-0-5.xml
PCWorld.comhttp://rss.pcworld.com/rss/latestnews.rss
Slashdot: http://slashdot.org/slashdot.rss
Wired News: http://www.wired.com/news/feeds/rss2/0,2610,,00.xml

Some sites have multiple feeds - and there seems to be a large number of feeds out there!