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highlighted links:

Twitter Blocking explained

Social Marketing... at last!

The Psychology of Collective Action, Social Media,...

Fwd: [#MRO-489-36585]: com-give.com scam site

Today's "what's this company?" mystery: Safer Alco...

Losing classroom content

Cross pollinating outreach ideas

Equity versus equality

Tempered glass whiteboard ideas

Top tier front line




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8.31.2005

FX Networks' Oil Storm movie site

Here's the official site for last June's "Oil Storm" movie on FX Networks.

Their synopsis mentions a "Category 6" hurricane. Whatever. Category 4 was good enough to bring on the flood -- the inevitability of which should have been a foregone conclusion with a city that size below sea level sitting in Hurricane Alley.

(Which is not to dismiss the scope of the disaster and the loss of life, which of course is going to most affect the least-advantaged of the city who didn't have the opportunity to drive themselves north ahead of the storm.)

Should have pushed for more fuel cell and bio-diesel research before we got to this point, right?

FOUND IT! Prophetic New Orleans movie!

Okay, it was FX rather than the Discovery Channel. FX Looks Left to Peak at Oil: " Here's just a sampling of the catastrophes packed into two hours: A Category 4 hurricane nearly wiped out the city of New Orleans, devastating the oil facilities at Port Fourchon, 70 miles to the southwest. Then, U.S. oil was routed to Houston, where fog prevented ships from moving. Once the fog lifted, the new Bush-appointed energy czar ordered accelerated processing, which resulted in two container ships colliding and exploding. Next, the United States had to rely on Saudi Arabia for oil and terrorists struck -- first killing oil workers and then destroying two key Saudi oil facilities."

Let's hope that it stops at "Category 4 hurricane" and the similarities end there!

Prophetic New Orleans movie?

Okay, I need my readers with good memories and cable television to help me out on this one. A few months back, there was a fairly lame fictional "docudrama" on something like TLC or the Discovery Channel, about the closing of major oil port on the gulf -- probably New Orleans, but maybe somewhere in Texas. It talked about how there was a narrow river bend, and ship ran aground, and then gas prices went up, then additional tankers of fuel were sent, and one of them wrecked, and it threw the U.S. into a tizzy.

Does anyone remember this? I'm surprised I haven't heard about it, considering how prophetic it was given our current circumstances.

8.30.2005

The latest illiterate phishing attempt

Good thing these phishing crooks still can't write good:

"Please Note: If your account informations are not updated within the next 24 hours, then we will assume this account is fraudulent and will be suspended. We apologize for this inconvenience, but the purpose of this verification is to ensure that your ______ account has not been fraudulently used and to combat fraud."

Yeah. Right. Gotta drag me away from the mouse to keep me from clicking on your link, buddy!

8.29.2005

Feedburner is still awesome!

Those of you who listen to my podcast know I use a service called Feedburner to clean up the RSS feed and make it podcast-ready. And I love them -- friendly, responsive, nice attitude, great service, all that good stuff. So it surprised the heck out of me when I came across Leo Laporte's blog entry that bashed them to pieces for revealing Leo's TWiT podcast stats, in apparent violation of their own privacy policy.

Well, Leo was wrong.

Here's his apology: It's Not Their Fault | this WEEK in TECH. Long story short, Leo had made his stats public by enabling the "publicize my stats" option in his Feedburner feed. And once they're public, they're public, so one of Feedburner's VPs had no problem commenting on a statistic that Leo already made available to the world.

Sounds fine by me, but Feedburner has wisely decided to just not comment about anything anymore, pretty much. Sad, but I guess that's how you have to run a business that targets niche markets where a few players can reach certain audiences and make a huge impact.

So, even though my voice doesn't count for much... Keep up the great work, Feeburner folks!

Justin Taylor on Abortion

Someone joked on Justin Taylor's blog that, if anyone should represent "evangelical thought", it's not Pat Robertson or Jim Dobson but Justin himself. Here's an example of his writing as published in World Magazine - Weekly News | Christian Views

8.28.2005

Pat Robertson = Jim Dobson?

Reading more in that Christianity Today article, you come across a quote about the 700 Club from Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals: "You know his program has one section of it that's a Christian exhortation, and then another section where he's a political pundit."

Absolutely. And at leat Pat Robertson is somewhat transparent about that. Not nearly transparent enough, but he does a much better job than Jim Dobson.

What do I have against Jim Dobson? For those of you who forget, do a quick Google search for Dobson's connection to the NRB and Wayne Pederson, who was elected the president of the National Religious Broadcasters before Dobson led a coup that ousted him in 2002.

(Ooh! Robertson likes coups -- as long as he dislikes the leader being ousted, that is. Maybe he and Dobson can get together and talk about Chavez?)

Anyway, what did Pederson do to earn the Wrath of Jim? He gave an interview to the Star Tribune in which he said:

"But what's probably more disturbing to me is that evangelicals are identified politically more than theologically. We get associated with the far Christian right and marginalized. To me the important thing is to keep focus on what's important to us spiritually. We're all entitled to our political views, and evangelicals tend to gravitate toward more conservative politics, but sometimes in taking our stands we've allowed ourselves to be typecast and the effectiveness spiritually has been diminished."

Amen! And "Duh!", too -- this is a no-brainer statement in today's world, akin to saying the sky is blue.

But Jim Dobson didn't like that. So he called up Jerry Falwell and 18 other "Godly leaders" and orchestrated a vote of no-confidence to oust Wayne.

The thing that gets me? Maybe Jim's call was innocent, maybe it was evil; I'm in no place to judge that. But the NRB set up an ethics committee to investigate, and the committee determined that Dobson was out of line. What did Dobson do in response to those Godly leaders?

WorldNetDaily: Dobson quits NRB board amid politics row

And evangelicals let this guy speak for them?!?

Hey, if you want to be a conservative lobbyist, fine. If you want to dupe innocent people into giving you money for your agenda, I can't stop you. But, for your eternal sake, I wouldn't suggest doing it in Christ's name!

Pat Robertson, hypocrite

Still working to keep you up-to-date on Pat Robertson... I'm amazed by this one. Granted, I probably hold what some consider to be contradictory views, but a) I don't intend to do that, and b) I'm not blabbing them to millions of people. (Trust me, even though they're on the Internet, millions aren't reading them.)

I'm sure the fact that Pat has major financial holdings in Liberia (wait -- $8 million is peanuts to Pat) has nothing to do with the fact that he denounced Bush for calling for their leader to step down. (Read CBS News | Pat Robertson Slams Bush On Liberia | July 11, 2003).

Of course, there's "duly elected" of the people we like, and "duly elected" of the people we don't like.

Yikes.

Christianity Today gets credit for exposing that particular insight, and is keeping up with the latest...

8.26.2005

Connecting babies to languages?

I've been feeling a tiny bit guilty for not exposing Candela to more foreign-language experience (so she could be one of these child prodigies who knows eight languages)... but cool guy Garrick Van Buren comments on a Newsweek article in his blog (Working Pathways, Inc ? The Work Better Weblog ? Archive ? An Emotion Connection Tells Us What Matters) and notes that it doesn't matter. Why? Because neither Ruth nor I speak a foreign language (not well, at least) and Candela doesn't have an "emotional connection" to anyone who does.

A policy against glass will save you!

On the topic of horrible customer service, you can read about my dad's latest encounter in his blog Moeville Musings: Piece of Glass in Kemps Ice Cream. When he called to complain about having bitten down on a chunk of glass, he talked to a customer service rep, and...

"She said, 'There can't be glass in our ice cream because it is against our policy to have foreign matter in our ice cream.'"

8.24.2005

Pat Roberson wises up (a little)

News flash! Someone apparently got to Pat and said, "Ummm... Mr. Robertson, sir? You really did say what people say you said." Not many details, but US evangelist apologizes for Chavez remarks - Yahoo! News: "WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Conservative U.S. evangelist Pat Robertson apologized on Wednesday for calling for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, saying he spoke in frustration earlier in the week.

"'Is it right to call for assassination? No, and I apologize for that statement. I spoke in frustration that we should accommodate the man who thinks the U.S. is out to kill him.'"

Good to follow a weak apology with an immediate excuse, Pat.

Pat Robertson: Stupid Liar

I hate to be so antagonistic on my blog -- whatever happened to "Minnesota Nice"? -- but, man, how dumb can you get?!? If you say something in front of hundreds of millions of international viewers, it's really hard to then say, "Oh, I never said that."

Duh!

Read the latest in Pat Robertson Says He Was Misinterpreted - Yahoo! News: "'There are a number of ways of taking out a dictator from power besides killing him. I was misinterpreted by the AP, but that happens all the time.' But a video of Monday's telecast shows that Robertson's exact words were: 'You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it."

Fixing Customer Service

Here's an interesting article on AOL's customer service, which I never liked even back in the 1980s when they were QuantumLink (blast from the past!). As the article AOL agrees to customer service reform | Tech News on ZDNet points out, they had some... "interesting" standards for their customer service reps.: "Previously, AOL would distribute bonuses in the 'tens of thousands of dollars' if representatives were able to retain half the customers who called to cancel their service, according to the attorney general."

Adam Savage interview from 'The Sneeze'

Okay, you just gotta love a site named:

The Sneeze - Half zine. Half blog. Half not good with fractions.

Anyway, thanks to Rob, I came across this Interview with Adam Savage from Mythbusters. In it, Adam mentions something interesting that I can't relate to. Maybe I would be more private if I were that famous. I've known one or two coworkers who fell into this boat, but I'm just more open than his co-host, I guess:

"Well, Jamie's personal life is very much his personal life. He's a very private guy. His relationship with his wife is something I know nothing about because they're very private. But she's a great lady. She's really awesome."

Pat Robertson - 'Innocent as a serpent and wise as a dove'

Beautifully written comments (to see Justin's comments, where this post title came from, be sure to read the full article!) quoted in Justin Taylor's blog, Between Two Worlds: Al Mohler on Pat Robertson's Comments: "...he brought shame to the cause of Christ. This is the kind of outrageous statement that makes evangelism all the more difficult. Missing from the entire context is the Christian understanding that violence can never be blessed as a good, but may only be employed under circumstances that would justify the limited use of lethal force in order to prevent even greater violence. Our witness to the Gospel is inevitably and deeply harmed when a recognized Christian leader casually recommends the assassination of a world leader."

8.23.2005

Evangelist Pat Robertson calls for assassination of Venezuelan president

You know, it was Pat Robertson who very nearly single-handedly (he had a little help, but just a little) kept me from becoming a Christian until I turned 21.

Because it took that many years for me to realize that statements of people like Robertson don't represent Christ in any way, shape or form.

Now dictators, assuming they're not benevolent ones, are bad. Sure. Freedom is good. But this?!? Evangelist Pat Robertson calls for assassination of Venezuelan president: "'You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it,'' Robertson said. 'It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war ... and I don't think any oil shipments will stop.''"

Bad day at the track...

Those who introduced me to the racing game Flat-Out will know exactly what this picture means. It was pretty spectacular, frankly. Nice view! Posted by Picasa

Things you never knew about AdWords

Since I'm on the AdSense side of the equation, I never knew this about AdWords (the advertiser side), but here's an interesting quote from the article Google changes irk advertisers, please publishers | Tech News on ZDNet: "In the past, if a keyword being used by a particular advertiser didn't meet a set of performance criteria including the number of click-throughs, the word would be disabled, even if the advertiser still wanted to advertise with that keyword. The changes made last week lower that performance bar. "

8.22.2005

Fix your statistics... by removing them?

For years, people have complained about Blogger's statistics page; my blog, which has been around since 2002, always displayed 0 posts. That changed, as evidenced by the page Blogger: User Profile: Eric Larson

Here's what shows up:

User Stats

On Blogger SinceSeptember 2002
Profile Views74


Slick, no? They just removed all the references to number of posts, frequency of posts, etc.

If you can't fix it, feature it... and if you can't feature it, delete it!

Frankly, it's better than inaccurate stats. But still kinda weird!

Justin Taylor on 'The Deliberate Church'

The full text of the book is online if you follow the link at Between Two Worlds: The Deliberate Church, and the first few pages are good enough that I might actually buy it!

Coming from me (who buys nothing... and is trying to cut back on books right now as it is) that's a huge compliment!

Affordable housing is bordering on oxymoronic

A quote from a nice little blog, which belongs on Ruth's site more than mine: The Housing Bubble 2: Lack Of Affordability To Sink US Home Prices: ML: "'The price of an average starter home in the United States has climbed 14 percent over the past year, while the average income for the first-time buyer family has risen just 4 percent, Rosenberg said, calling that an 'unprecedented gap.''"

I love the 1960s! (and 1970s!)

As Google Desktop indexes my hard drive, it's pulling up local copies of the old slides I posted online a few months back.

And I just want to reiterate... I love the 60s! And the 70s! It was a time when furniture like that pictured was considered normal. :)

Illiterate deception from the FRC

The Family Research Council has both guns blazing with their “anti-.XXX domain” campaign. Impressive. I wonder how many people will put blind faith in the FRC’s headline and will think that their work (for which they’re happy to take donations, BTW) will “Stop the XXX Porn Industry Dead In Its Tracks NOW”?

I won’t even mention their bad math (because, of course, we know that creating a new domain is going to double the amount of porn on the ‘Net, right?) or their demand that people turn their e-mail into chain-letter SPAM on their behalf. Wow!

Their plea is below, typos and all – though I wonder if the FRC made a Freudian slip in the hope they can “loose millions in profit” and make that money flow their direction?

(Note that the lack of paragraph formatting is thanks to the new Blogger for Word plug-in, which doesn't seem to work exactly as intended... but it's close!)



We Can Stop the XXX Porn Industry Dead In Its Tracks NOWAugust 18, 2005
The Bush Administration is listening to you! It put a temporary halt on plans to establish the .XXX domain, the special haven on the Internet for the porn industry. FRC has been battling this deceptive .XXX domain for the past two months, since it was announced by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the governing agency for the internet. We've met with key people at the Commerce Department, which has jurisdiction over ICANN, and we asked you to send letters and emails to President Bush and ICANN, telling them to stop the .XXX domain. And thanks to your letters and emails, the Bush Administration announced this week that "due to unprecedented opposition" (that means from YOU), it asked ICANN to halt the process for one month and reconsider. We now have until September 15 to pressure ICANN to kill the .xxx Domain. The .XXX domain was never intended to force the porn industry to leave the .COM domain, which has been extremely profitable for pornographers. Instead it would allow pornographers to continue to sell hardcore, illegal porn on the .COM domain and expand to the .XXX domain. That means perhaps twice as many Internet porn sites and twice the danger to children. In other words, it would not make the web safer for children; it would make it more dangerous. But now the porn industry will be fighting back. They know that they stand to loose millions in profits if the .XXX domain is killed in the September 15 vote by ICANN. We must act fast and in force! You can help stop the porn industry from expanding by sending another message to ICANN now saying, "Stop the .XXX domain." I also need you to forward this to your friends and family today. Let's stop the porn industry. Remember, the vote is September 15, so we must act fast!



8.20.2005

Saving time on time-wasters

If you read Rob's Blog you'd know about Hapland. And if you're like I am, you'll need the Hapland Walkthrough to give you a clue.

Wow! Clever stuff!

Kari Byron traveling San Fransisco looking for fists?

My PVR failed to record the early portions of the Mythbusters shark special when it aired the first time, so I just got to see the clip where the gang decides to go out and buy some latex or silicone or whatever... fists. Kari found some -- described as "novelty items" by the narator, who also mentioned that it was possible to find anything in San Fransisco.

Now, I know a little bit too much about some thing (not through personal experience, fortunately)... so I actually know what these "novelties" would be used for. And, even for the folks who are hunting for Kari Byron information on the internet... I gotta admit, not even they have something like that in mind when they think of Kari.

I hope!

But, man... that scene is... pretty... interesting.

Never thought I'd see Kari working with something like that!
Click for more Kari Byron posts

UPDATE (June 2006): I've moved all my Kari Byron commentary over to a different site; you're welcome to browse around here... but for anything new, check out the Kari Byron category on att.ention.net.

Kari Byron, vegetarians, and sharks?

So, here's my question: If you're a vegetarian, do you have a problem with "catch and release" in the name of science? Kari seems to be having a good time on the Mythbusters shark special, and I know that some vegetarians have no problem eating fish... and sharks aren't fish... so, really, this doesn't relate to anything, does it?
Click for more Kari Byron posts

UPDATE (June 2006): I've moved all my Kari Byron commentary over to a different site; you're welcome to browse around here... but for anything new, check out the Kari Byron category on att.ention.net.

8.19.2005

Jim Dobson still gets PSAs!

It's been a full day, and my Jim Dobson post (educating eric: James Dobson and Republican Politics) still gets nothing but PSAs in the AdSense block -- from my computer, at least.

Is he that bad that nobody wants their paid ads associated with his name? Wow!

St. Paul Pioneer Press | 08/19/2005 | Police recount reckless spree

One question: Why only 40 years?

St. Paul Pioneer Press | 08/19/2005 | Police recount reckless spree: "The nearly two-mile chase lasted 90 seconds, ending when the Envoy crossed into the southbound lane and struck Sandra Baxter's 1994 Ford Taurus. The 36-year-old, who was a half-mile from the home she lived in with her mother and sister, was pinned against the steering wheel and killed instantly....The criminal charges could put Adams in jail for 40 years."

Dragon Global's ShowAnalyzer rocks!

Okay, I've only played with it a little bit, but if you want to strip commercials out of your television recordings, check out Dragon Global - ShowAnalyzer.

I'll write more about it later... but here's another interesting tidbit. It mentions a video player program called Zoomplayer, which is also free. ShowAnalyzer outputs data that doesn't remove, but "marks off" commercials in a way that Zoomplayer can read. So if you're watching Mythbusters, it just magically jumps over three minutes of commercials. And if you click the "next chapter" button, it jumps to the next commercial break.

Very, very slick!

I record everything in ATI's proprietary VCR format, because I want to capture the closed captioning and search on it. (That alone is a very nice function. Looking for your favorite Kari Byron quote? Just do a search in the closed caption text for "kari" and you'll jump right to it... usually.) So, that means I have to export from ATI's format and encode as MPEG1 (my personal favorite format, because even though it's not a great codec, it's readable by pretty much every program and platform on the planet).

It's complicated, but far more do-able than ever before!


Commercial comments (Blogging from Word!)

Ironically, I’ve got two commercial-related things going on in my mind right now. On the Ericast, I’ve been discussing how commercials are going to get more and more imbedded into content; I think we’re going to drift away from “spot radio” or “spot television”, and even drift away from traditional “product placement”, and move toward a picture-in-picture or screen crawl or other “embedded advertising”.  That way, you’ll be unable to avoid the advertisement… and you’ll want to see it, because skipping it would mean that you’d miss out on the content.  (Imagine, for example, a HGTV demo on sponge-painting that takes up the top 2/3rds of the screen, with the bottom 1/3rd showing things like “BEHR Paint on sale at Home Depot!  20% off!”.)

I might hate living in a world filled with television that looks like that… but it probably would be effective.

But, speaking of, I’ve found a program that removes commercials from MPG files!  And it really works!  I’ll blog it next, from the site.

Why not mention it now?  Because I’m actually entering this through Microsoft Word, using the new “Blogger for Word” tool.  (Thanks to Brett for the head’s up about it!)  So, let’s see how it works…

8.18.2005

Where'd all the blog ads go?

In my "James Dobson is a moron" post, Google AdSense served nothing but public service ads. I figured they might be engaging in a little good-natured censorship, protecting their advertisers from "endorsing" a page that had the word "moron" in the title. But the much less antagonistic title of educating eric: James Dobson and Republican Politics still serves nothing but public service ads.

What gives? There's got to be something out there on the topic of "republican politics", don't ya' think? And what happened to Google's practice of filling up my pages with blog-related ads when it couldn't find anything topical?

Maybe it'll change if I give it a little time.

Shrink (transcode) MPEG-2 files using ReJig

For those of you who make DVDs or otherwise work with MPEG2 video, the program ReJig looks very promising... but unless you've read this, you're doomed! VideoHelp.com :: View topic - Shrink (transcode) MPEG-2 files using Rejig

I have to play with it a bit more to see how well it works, but I'm hoping to use it to take the programs I've recorded with my ATI card, export them to a oversized MPEG2 file, then compile them down to something that will fit on a DVD.

I'll let you know how it goes...

James Dobson and Republican Politics

Okay, I needed a catchy title. There you go. Here's the issue, quoted in the story Bush administration objects to .xxx domains | CNET News.com: "The Family Research Council, for instance, warned that 'pornographers will be given even more opportunities to flood our homes, libraries and society with pornography through the .xxx domain.' "

How dumb can you get?

If pornographers want to "flood libraries and society" with porn, they can do it plenty-fine now. Don't need any more "opportunities". What a .XXX domain does is allow portions of society (libraries, schools, parents, whatever) to LIMIT the flood, by restricting access to the domain.

Duh!

Porn is on the internet. It's not going to go away as long as we have a bare minimum of freedoms in this country. So why not attach a modicum of regulation to it, so that we have a better chance of avoiding it?

Yes, the article explains that this is the Bush Administration objecting to the domain... but Bush is just doing what his "conservative base" demands, and Jim Dobson is the self-appointed (and self-important) leader of that "base". If the FRC weren't in a tizzy about it, Bush wouldn't be, either.

In the "We can't win" category, the article notes that ICANN turned down the .XXX domain suggestion five years ago; "At the time, politicians lambasted ICANN's move. Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., demanded to know why ICANN didn't approve .xxx 'as a means of protecting our kids from the awful, awful filth, which is sometimes widespread on the Internet.' Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., told a federal commission that .xxx was necessary to force adult Webmasters to 'abide by the same standard as the proprietor of an X-rated movie theater.'

What's ICANN to do?

Are the glory days of computing gone?

A colleague just passed along the article Schooled in security | CNET News.com. I remember what might now be look back on as the "height" of the "free computing", when servers for FTP and TELNET and Gopher and this thing called the "World Wide Web" were just out there, open, available to pass files around. When the fact that computers on campus could pass files to each other was considered really cool -- not a security risk.

Don't get me wrong; we're better off now than we were four years ago, so-to-speak. But I do wonder what kind of Internet my daughter will grow up to use.

8.17.2005

Passing on Panel Discussions?

In his latest podcast (Blogarithms IT Conversations News: August 14, 2005), Doug Kaye mentioned an interesting anecdotal tidbit: People seem less interested in panel discussions at conferences than they do in single speakers. The panel discussions get lower ratings at ITConversations.com, and... there was some other reason he mentioned it, too. (Okay, so I don't remember. Sorry!)

As I was listening to one of their panel discussions this morning, I had a thought: It was really hard to follow. It takes a lot of mental energy to keep up with who's-saying-what. And I don't even particular care about the who's-who; it would be even worse if I really need to know which person was making a particular point.

Could that be what people are reacting to when they rate panel discussions lower than single-speaker talks?

8.16.2005

The return of text in the archives!

By popular demand -- Rob mentioned it -- I've brought back the text in the archive section. So now if you click on the archive months (available from the home page) you'll see more than just the titles (or, in the case of the early posts, just the times and dates!) of my posts; you'll see the entire post itself! See educating eric: September 2002 for an example.

My AdSense revenue will suffer, because you need to go into the post itself (by clicking on the timestamp link) to see contextually-relevant ads... but, hey, at least it's easier to find my old writings!

8.15.2005

Robotic graffiti without X-Y plotting!

Okay, I just have to say that robotic stuff is really cool. I came across a little project named "Hektor". These guys figured out how to move a spray can against a wall and automate what it paints.

Now, that doesn't sound too exciting. X-Y plotters have been around for years. But they figured out a way to hang the can from two points at the top of the wall and use gravity to provide the pull in the other direction. By changing the length of the two wires, you can position the can anywhere you want.

Sure, it takes a ton of math to calculate how to get the can where you want it... but that's what computers are good at, right?

It's one of those "That's so simple, why didn't anyone else think of that?!?" ideas. Don't know what kinds of other applications it has -- I can't quite see hanging a router from something like this and carving out a sheet of plywood with it -- but there must be something!

The future of Google Books?

If you haven't yet checked out print.google.com, you should -- full-page images of books upon books upon books. It's like Amazon's "Look Inside" feature, except a billion times better... unless you're an author or publisher, in which case you won't be too happy with it. Which explains the recent development: Google Suspends Copying Protected Books; Publishers Unimpressed - Yahoo! News

Kirsten Kemp, Hollywood star!

When I said, "Set your VCRs", I meant it! As promised, this morning TBS featured one of two appearances of Kirsten Kemp (then "Kirsten Holmquist") as a guest-star on Saved by the Bell.

Times have changed!

And so has Kirsten!

It's an interesting role -- Rhonda Robistelli -- and I guess I can't expect a sitcom from the 1980s (targeted at kids, no less) to epitomize exemplary acting. But, I have to be honest... the whole thing is pretty bad.

On the other hand, any show that launched the careers of Tiffani-Amber Thiessen and Elizabeth Berkley (not to mention Kirsten Kemp!) can't be all bad, right?

8.14.2005

More than Kari Byron pictures?

Here's what I don't exactly get about the Kari Byron thing. Everything out there, like this featured site [LINK NOW DEAD], is a pile of screen grabs from Mythbusters. (As an aside, I'm sure Kari regrets posting for that plaster cast of her... um... anatomy. Becuase it seems that those screenshots are the ones that are the most popular. That, and pictures of her in a schoolgirl skirt holding a bunch of balloons... hmmm.)

Anyway, there's one interview out there with Kari, but other than that, there's no content. What we know about her, we know from her web site and from Mythbusters. That's it. I suppose the reason I get so many Kari Byron hits is because folks -- okay, who are we kidding; they're not "folks" but "guys" -- are hoping that someone will do another interview or write-up, and that I'll be that person.

But, hey, what are we looking for? Her favorite color of hamster? As a vegetarian, does she still hate brussel sprouts like the rest of us do? What?

A secret Maxim layout that we never knew she did? I don't think so! There's nothing out there, people!

If the Discovery Channel wants to be exploitative, I'm thinking that a Kari Byron special going straight to DVD (and promoted well!) might do okay. Maybe a live chat with Kari on the Discovery Channel web site -- which, for all I know, they've done, but if so they haven't promoted it. (The only thing they have archived is one with Adam and Jamie from last November).
Click for more Kari Byron posts

UPDATE (June 2006): I've moved all my Kari Byron commentary over to a different site; you're welcome to browse around here... but for anything new, check out the Kari Byron category on att.ention.net.

Set your VCRs for Kirsten Kemp!

Property Ladder is in reruns (only so much real estate to go around, I guess), but one of Kirsten Kemp's appearances on Saved by the Bell (from her days as Kirsten Holmquist) is set to run on TBS tomorrow (Monday, August 15th) at 6:30 a.m. CDT.

You can bet we'll be recording it on every recording device in the house -- I can't trust my computer's PVR software to work reliably anymore -- and as soon as we can get it processed, you'll see it here, first!

I'm hoping some of her quotes from my earlier post will be in there!

8.11.2005

Kirsten Kemp's early sitcom days?

UPDATE: Be sure to check out this post where you can find a screen capture of "Rhonda".

So, folks, why are we interested in finding clips of Kirsten Kemp's early, early acting career on Saved by the Bell when she played "Rhonda Robistelli"? Because it would be a hoot (technical term) to see the following phrases coming out of her mouth, courtesy of the site Saved By The Bell Quote of the Day by Steve Carey:

"The Rhonda Robistelli Compendium, Chapter 1

Rhonda: "Hey Zackee! Hey, what's da rush, button-nose?"

Rhonda: 'Hey Zackee, we gotta talk, hunk o' mine. (To the gang) That boy has got one cute behind, oo!

Rhonda: "Sure, take five. I'll go wash my face and floss (wink) for later."

Rhonda: "Mom's visiting dad in the slammer, and we got the house all to ourselves."

Zack: "I don't kiss on the first date."
Rhonda: "Whoo-hoo, good thing for us - I DO."


(You can find the DVD on Amazon).

Kirsten Kemp (from Property Ladder) was Kirsten Holmquist!

Now it makes so much more sense! After Ruth commented on her blog that Kirsten Kemp said she guest stared in some popular 80's sitcoms, I was confused that there was no sign of her out on the internet. But some dilligent sleuthing (by listing to Ruth and going to Kirsten's web site... and reading the main page instead of her bio) turned up the fact that her name used to be Kirsten Holmquist.

If you look for that, you find a lot more.

Now we just need to find some video clips or screen captures... Any Saved By The Bell fans out there with Season 1 (their "ninth grade" episodes) on DVD? Episodes 4 and 10 from that one, guys! Looking for the "Rhonda Robistelli" character...

8.08.2005

Nigerian Scammers love me!

Hey, I know they're a scam (one of many recent articles on the topic can be found at Technology - canada.com). But doesn't it give you a warm feeling to have someone address you as "Sir" -- that never happens to me! -- and say kind things, like...

"I am contacting you believing you are a honest and trustworthy person.I believe you will not betray the confidence I am willing to repose in you, for me to have contacted you even though we've not met before."

Awwwwww. That's sweet! I've never had so much confidence reposed in me before. Not even by my wife, who's pretty good at reposing.

Goodbye, Peter Jennings

The news this morning, topping the story about the shuttle that just can't seem to land, is that ABC News anchor Peter Jennings dies of cancer - Yahoo! News.

I remember Peter Jennings reporting from the London bureau -- Dad would comment on his not-quite-British, but-not-really-Canadian accent -- and remember when he started anchoring the news in 1983. That's where that photo is from -- that's how I think of Peter Jennings.

(I also remember when Dan Rather replaced Walter Cronkite as CBS anchor. Funny, but I don't remember much about Tom Brokaw until he was an established anchor; we must not have been an NBC family.)

8.04.2005

Granite counters for real estate in Miami, Florida?

I was thinking about some of the real estate shows (like Property Ladder) that we watch, and these fancy condos and townhomes in places like Miami, Florida or Southern California. And one of the things they always emphasize is doing fancy kitchens with granite countertop.

I even came across a site that claims to have do-it-yourself granite, which seems like a heck of a project to me. (That's where the picture came from; if you click on their link you can see all the tools and things involved in the process.)

So, my question is, what's the big deal about granite counters? Is it -- and stainless steel appliances, too -- going to seem outdated in 20 years? Or is it a good investment?

Kerry Keri Carry Carrie Cari Byron Mythbusters

Ruth realized that there are no sites that refer to the likely misspellings of Kari's name -- Kerry Byron, Keri Byron, Carry Byron, Carrie Byron, or Cari Byron. So we're trying a quick experiment, since this site has become a hotbed of Kari Byron activity.

There are probably more variations on the name "Kari" out there, but that's as creative as I can be at the moment.

So, if you're reading this, you're either a regular reader of mine who's wondering why I've gone insane -- no Prozac or Zoloft or St. John's Wort or Levitra for me, though! -- or you're looking for information on Kari Byron from Mythbusters (a show on the Discovery Channel).

I'm trying to keep all my Kari Byron links here, because some really unlucky folks -- especially those whose searches indicate they're desperate to know if Kari is married -- never get to see the bulk of my Kari Byron material.

You might want to go to Kari's official site at www.karibyron.com, though I'll warn you that there aren't any photos of her there (and very little biographical information). She's an artist, and that's a site that showcases her art.

Basically, there's very little information on the internet about Kari. If you hunt hard enough, you can find out a little bit about her family, but I have major ethical problems with disseminating that kind of information. It's fun to watch her on Mythbusters and all... and, sure, she's intelligent, charming, and attractive... but, come on, she's a real person and we need to respect her and her privacy.

Still, I have to admit, it would be fun to interview her on my podcast. Given her background, I'm sure she's got lots of interesting stories to tell!
Click for more Kari Byron posts

UPDATE (June 2006): I've moved all my Kari Byron commentary over to a different site; you're welcome to browse around here... but for anything new, check out the Kari Byron category on att.ention.net.

Apologies to Reno, Nevada!

Okay, if you've read this for any length of time, you know that I've got lots of search results for my miscellaneous Kari Byron comments, which just encourages me to talk about her more because that's what people are coming for.

Well, looking at my search results, folks occasionally search for "Kari Byron married", which is why I put up this post: educating eric: Kari Byron has a ring! Engaged? Married?

The problem? Some poor person from Reno, who did one of those searches, landed on one of my other Kari Byron pages and never clicked on the Home link here, which would have brought him (or her... nah, "him") out to the home page, where he would have seen last night's post that talks about the apparent wedding ring that Kari's wearing.

So, here's the challenge: How do you design a site so that people who land deep within it can find their way out to get to where they really want to be?

I suppose I could go back and update all my old posts with pointers to new content, but that's kinda the antithesis of how a blog is supposed to work.

Any ideas out there?

UPDATE (June 2006): I've moved all my Kari Byron commentary over to a different site; you're welcome to browse around here... but for anything new, check out the Kari Byron category on att.ention.net.

Stone-Throwing Girl Granted Probation

UPDATE: Good news from the L.A. Times. Stone-Throwing Girl Granted Probation: "Maribel's father, Martin Cuevas, said the deal was good because his daughter was not required to plead guilty, and will not be in custody. 'I believe it's just,' Cuevas said. 'We've reached an agreement.'... Prosecutors had earlier offered Cuevas a deal in return for her guilty plea to a lesser, misdemeanor charge, but the girl steadfastly refused."

Looks like the best possible result out of a horribly messy situation. For my original commentary from a couple days ago, click here.

8.03.2005

Kari Byron has a ring! Engaged? Married?

You heard it here first! Engaged? Married? I don't know. But in tonight's episode of MythBusters, as Kari Byron is working on the arrow-splitting rig, you can clearly see a ring on the ring-finger of her left hand. As news of this leaks out, I'm thinking my "Kari Byron" blog hits might start dropping. Sorry, guys! Looks like she really is taken.

Maybe a quickie wedding in Las Vegas? Who knows... but, given the popularity of Kari's dating life as a topic on the Internet, I'm surprised there isn't more talk about it!

Based on this screen capture -- yes, that's Kari's hand; you can see the same ring in other shots clearly attached to her arm (which connects to her shoulder, then neck, then face, so there's no doubt that it's hers) -- it seems to be a wedding band.

So, assuming we're right... Congratulations, Kari!

UPDATE (June 2006): I've moved all my Kari Byron commentary over to a different site; you're welcome to browse around here... but for anything new, check out the Kari Byron category on att.ention.net.

Bullied? Fresno cops will arrest you (and Maribel Cuevas)

Okay, there are bigger issues on our little blue marble of a globe for us to worry about, but sometimes something comes along that's so blatantly stupid that you just have to comment.

The Maribel Cuevas story fits the bill perfectly. The poor girl goes on trial today and faces four years of incarceration.

This story is floating around through various news sources, but the best and most accurate version so far is the one at SFGate.com.

Here are the facts. Maribel Cuevas, an 11-year-old girl, was playing in a relative's yard with her six-year-old brother, his six-year-old friend, and that friend's four- and three-year old sisters. Eight-year-old Elijah Vang and SIX OTHER BOYS ride up on bikes. They throw water balloons AND ROCKS at Maribel and the small children around here. The water balloons hit Maribel in the head; the rocks "merely" hit her in the shoulder and side.

Maribel picks up ONE OF THE VERY ROCKS THROWN AT HER to scare off the kids that are threatening her and the tiny children around her. Maybe she intentionally threw it; maybe it's true that she just pretended to throw it to scare the bullies off and it slipped from her hand. Regardless, it left her hand and hit Elijah Vang in the head. It gave him a cut that was about an inch-and-a-half and required stitches.

So far, not good. Bad situation, maybe we need some counseling and mediation, but it sounds like typical bullying that should be reigned in... and, given the result, maybe punk boys will learn a lesson and see that they shouldn't pick on toddlers and kindergarteners because some responsible kid like Maribel will step in and make them stop.

Not in Fresno. Sorry.

Because in Fresno, they'll send out cops who'll pin your girl to the ground, cuff her, take her to juvenile hall with the promise she'll be there "a few hours", and HOLD HER FOR FIVE DAYS!

Now, attentive readers will say, "Wait a minute, Eric. Cops themselves don't hold kids in juvenile hall. They have no control over that." Half-true, dear reader. The problem here, as quoted in this excellently-written article, starts when reality- and fact-challenged cops wrote up the report on 11-year-old Maribel:

"The police report listed Maribel's age as 13 and said she threw a 5-pound rock at Elijah, whose age was misstated as 6. He is 8. The rock caused a 4- inch gash, the report said. A report from the hospital where Elijah was taken said the cut was 1 1/2 inches. It required several stitches. After earlier press reports, the police said the rock was actually 2 1/2 pounds. Maribel says the rock that left her hand was much smaller."

Even if you discount the claim that the cops picked up the wrong rock as "evidence"... but, wait! Why should we discount that claim when these morons couldn't get anyone's age right and can't tell the difference between four inches and an inch and a half?

(I have my own personal theory that these gentlemen are used to overestimating the length of things that are measured in inches, which would explain why a mere inch-and-a-half looked like a more impressive four inches, but that's just speculation on my part.)

When dispatching cops to a Spanish-speaking neighborhood, do you think Fresno dispatches Spanish-speaking cops? Nah. But they do read 11-year-olds their Miranda rights when they arrest them. Of course,
KTLA points out that they can't even get that right:

"I read Cuevas her Miranda warnings and asked if she understood, she replied with 'no,' " Officer Christopher Green wrote in his report. "I read them line by line and explained until she understood each line."

If this weren't happening to real kids (and warping the heck out of them; read the stories for the full picture of Maribel's treatment, and I haven't even talked about putting her under house-arrest with a "curfew" so stringent that she couldn't get home from school without violating it...) it would be hysterically funny. Remember the old SNL Weekend Update routine with Garrett Morris in the corner of the screen, shouting the news for the "hearing impaired"? Apparently, Fresno has picked up that model of "translation" for its cops. Don't understand your Miranda rights -- because your English isn't great and, more importantly, YOU'RE ONLY 11?!? We'll just read them slower. (To be fair, a police chief says the officers later requested an interpreter. Brilliant move.)

Now, if Fresno wants to become a jack-booted police state, they can. It's not like we have rights in this country that are governed by a "federal government" and supersede... oh, wait. Never mind.

Anyway, here's my question: If Fresno wants to be "tough on crime", why wasn't Elijah Vang arrested? Assault is assault. He freely admits that he "started the fight" and pelted Maribel with rocks and water balloons. Sounds like there's an "intent to harm" there. No word on whether the house behind her was unlocked; if not, she was effectively trapped in a fenced yard by a gang of boys on bikes who she (and the tiny kids she was with) had no hope of out-running. She claims she was just defending herself and the small children around here -- a claim easy to support considering the unprovoked attack. Sounds like self-defense to me. Does "assault" in Fresno really depend soley on how lucky or unlucky your aim happens to be, regardless of circumstances?

Apparently so. Or, maybe they just don't care.

Finally, before someone derails my senate career by saying I'm comparing Fresno's law enforcement practices to the Nazi Holocaust, let me clarify that I mean no such thing. Instead, I'm comparing their law enforcement practices to pre-Holocaust Nazi Germany, in which a police state showed open indifference and derision toward a minority community. I'm sure we're a long way from a Fresno "cristal noche", but I truly believe you can judge the health of a society by how its institutional systems (particularly law enforcement, which has a unique license to be "legitimately" abusive) treat "the least" members of that society.

Fresno has let Maribel Cuevas down. And, with behavior that's not only abusive and stupid but just plain embarrassing, it let down the community it claims to protect.

8.02.2005

We demand that you take 5 minutes out of your online experience ...

I just have to take less than five minutes to comment on a line from the latest PayPal phishing scam I got. The complete text of their passionately persuasive plea is:

"We demand that you take 5 minutes out of your online experience and renew your records to avoid running into any future problems with the online service. However, failure to update your records will result in your account suspension. Once you have updated your account records your internet banking service will not be interrupted and will continue as normal."

Oh, the comments I could make. Wow. But, anyway, the fact that they're "demanding" is a really interesting choice of words. Do you think phishers would get better results if they said, "Please"?

The ethics of hotlinking?

Okay, folks, I need your ethical opinion here. In the context I use it in this blog, what do you think of hotlinking? Here's a description, from the article Bandwidth theft - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

"Web pages may link to other web pages using hyperlinks. The hyperlink object allows a viewer to click on a link to reach another site. The owner supplies bandwidth as a gift, or to sell something, etc.

"It is possible to use a HTML tag in a webpage to embed material from another site in it. Thus when the webpage is sent to someone to view, the bandwidth for the embedded material is supplied by the owner of the second site. Simply linking to a file is also considered to be bandwidth theft.

"This may not be desirable for the owner of the second site: he or she may only be willing to supply the material, with the corresponding bandwidth, if that material is viewed embedded in his or her own webpages, e.g. because otherwise it does not help him earn money which compensates for the bandwidth cost.

"This may be considered unfair and even be called 'bandwidth theft'. If there are no copyright restrictions, it would be considered fairer if the owner of the first site puts copies of the embedded material on his or her own site. If there are copyright restrictions, the alternative would be to just link to the other site."

Now, here's my issue. I can very, very easily take images and post them to my Blogger site via Hello. I'm not "stealing images because I'm lazy". In fact, I'm not "stealing images" at all, and that's the point. You sometimes see images on this blog, and the folks who put those images out on the internet are the ones who own/control those images. I'm linking to their material, displaying the image that's publicly accessible. If I download the image and serve it off a server that I control, they no longer control their image. To me, that seems to be further away from "fair use" than displaying something that's already publicly available on the 'net.

Does that make sense?

Note also that I'm putting this in the context of my use here. I think it's unethical to take someone else's graphic and use it on your site as your own, for your own purposes, independent of their original use. For example, if I took the image of the happy eHarmony couple from the last post and put it on my blog as an example of happy couples in general, that would be wrong -- especially if I were hotlinking to it. But if I'm posting a critique of eHarmony, and I can link to eHarmony's site, what are the ethics surrounding the display of a relevant image -- the image that people will see as soon as they click on the link I'm providing? The image isn't making my site "pretty"; it's encouraging people to follow the link to the site the image came from. That's what it's all about, right?

With so many people against hotlinking as "bandwidth theft", what's the feeling about hotlinking as "content ownership preservation"?

eHarmony 'The Compatible Marriage' a scam?

I wish I had read sites like this one before agreeing to evaluate eHarmony's new "marriage enrichment" program. If I had, I'd have realized that we'd never get the $25 Amazon gift certificate they promised us.

Their new program, "The Compatible Marriage," is basically a re-hash of all sorts of good books and programs that have been around for years. They wrap it in a "scientific" test and profile, but you don't need my background and degree in personality assessments and instructional design to question its construction. (Don't bother looking for any information on its reliability or validity, let alone anything about its development or norms or...)

Long story short, it's a multiple-choice assessment with a horrible navigation structure. At the end, the claim that they'll e-mail you a series of exercises to take. No e-mails ever came. But we found one on the site and went through it. It was interesting. On July 25th, we got an e-mail that we hadn't completed the evaluation of that exercise, and to look for it in the "Announcements" area when we log in. Nothing there -- and, trust me, we know what their evaluations look like, because we answered dozens and dozens of questions as we completed their assessment. (My extremely conservative estimate is that I have at least five hours in their "two hour" test.)

Today, my wife (and just my wife -- nothing to me) gets an e-mail that says they closed the system on August 1st, deleted our accounts, and because we didn't complete all the evaluations we're not eligible for the $25 Amazon gift certificate. But, wonderful folks that they are, they graciously included a $10 Amazon certificate code for our trouble.

Problem is, Amazon's shipping break is at $25, so if I wanted to order something from them, that's the certificate I'd make use of. Imagine this: eHarmony promises a certificate for exactly that amount! What a coincidence! It sure got our attention -- and probably worked for others. And, imagine this, they find a reason not to provide it, and give a token certificate that's far less likely to be used.

Even more interestingly, I logged into my eHarmony account and all my information is still there, including the same little statement that says my subscription is good until 11/1/05. So why did they give one week's notice that we hadn't completed an evaluation that apparently doesn't exist, then "close" our account while apparently keeping it open, and then award us a "consolation" gift certificate for not following instructions that they didn't provide? If I hadn't spent hours following their instructions to the letter (as best they conveyed them -- I still can't read their mind, which is apparently what I needed to do to win the fabulous prize they promised) and had just blown through their evaluations, not bothering to give them several paragraphs of substantive suggestions and error-corrections... well, then I'd be behaving just like them, right?

What particularly ticks me off about the situation is that eHarmony is touted as a "Christian" service. And, I'm sorry, but honesty and integrity are fairly important in the Christian category. Using bait-and-switch tactics to get nearly-free evaluation and troubleshooting services from people who believe you'll deliver what you promise isn't cool.

I expect this kind of behavior from those "Win a free iPod!" banner advertiser types, but not from an organization that claims to be reputable... a claim that, with a little bit of Internet searching, looks more and more dubious.

Watch out for them -- and if they ever release "The Compatible Marriage" to the general public (probably at some inflated price, accompanied by the promise of something or other which they may or may not deliver on as advertised)... watch out!

Anyone else have experience or news about them and their dating service?

 


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