Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Foxes watching the hen house?

Ok, it seems I'm a bit behind the times on keeping up with politcal news. I was surprised today while reading an article about alleged censoring by the White House of scientists reporting global warming when I came across this quote:

"Cooney, who was a lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute before becoming chief of staff at the White House Council on Environmental Quality, resigned in 2005 to work for oil giant ExxonMobil."

So let me get this straight. A guy who used to work as a lobbyist for oil companies was appointed chief of staff at the White House Council on Environmental Quality??? Is this some kind of joke? Talk about a conflict of interest! How could someone in good conscience do such a thing? Could the president seriously think, "Now this is the guy who will do the best job looking after the environment..."? And to think I actually thought Bush sounded like a reasonable guy when he gave his state of the union address last week.

Ok, I suppose there's no sense for me to get all worked up about it - this all was from a couple years ago - the oil guy has since resigned to go back to working for oil companies - but sheesh! That's the most ridiculous thing I've heard in a long time.

Am I missing something here?

Advice on getting a dog

Lately I've been really poor with my time management. For example, I ended up cooking my dinner about 11:30PM tonight. And now it's 12:30am and while I should be sleeping, I ended up getting distracted reading an article about how to properly choose a dog. And I'm not even thinking about getting a dog! (Hmmm.. seems I've got a monkey brain...) You too can get distracted and read the article here. It's actually quite entertaining and offers a lot of great advice. If you don't want to get totally distracted, here's one quote that I thought was very worthwhile (from page 5 of the article):

"Pet stores . . . Just say no!

Here's a way NOT to get a dog. When you see those little puppies in mall pet stores, our advice is: run away. Many pet stores sell dogs from puppy mills. If you thought that the plight of veal calves was bad . . . well, you're right, it is. But puppy mills are right there with it when it comes to wholesale animal cruelty. They basically churn out puppies for pet stores, kill the ones that don't look like they'd sell well, and keep the live ones in awful living conditions. And pet store puppies that don't get bought are sent to the pound."

So, if I did lose an hour or so of sleep getting distracted reading about dogs, the least I can do is share the above advice. And if you are considering getting a dog, read the full article, and then visit the local pound.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

So Long Max!

After 13 years of what was hopefully a happy carefree life of a dog, my ol' friend Max has died. Back when I had a house, he had been a great companion, always eager to take me for a walk. He had kept a watchful eye over my house for about 8 years, but was now living in retirement in Florida for the past few years, no longer worrying about chasing the trucks that dared drive down his street or barking a greeting or farewell to anyone entering or leaving the house.

This last picture was a good illustration of just how patient he could be putting up with all sorts of silliness dreamed up by a litle girl (circa 1994):

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

My New Schizophrenic iMac

Well... maybe it would be more appropriate to call it a Mac with multiple personalities rather than schizophrenia. Anyhow, I recently bought a new iMac. For those of you not familiar with an iMac, it looks like a flat screen LCD monitor with a keyboard and mouse attached. There's no computer box visible. The computer is inside the monitor. Here's a link to a bunch of pictures of one on the Apple web site.

One of the reasons for getting a new Mac was consolidation. The new Macs use Intel processors. Without going into the technical details too much, I'll just say you can think of an Intel processor as the same "brain" as is inside a regular PC that runs Microsoft Windows. Why is this important? Well, with special software, this now allows you to easily run Windows software on a Mac, while simultaneously running your Mac software . So, I can ditch the big clunky Windows PC under my desk and have my Mac pretend it is also a Windows PC. Here's a screen snapshot of my Mac desktop:

Sorry the image is a bit small (you can click on it for a slightly larger view). If you squint, you should be able to make out the normal Mac menu bar on the top of the screen (note the Apple logo in the upper left corner) and if you look at the bottom of the screen, there is the normal Windows XP menu bar. Also, one of the main windows on my desktop shows Microsoft Visual Studio running (a Windows program). It has the normal Windows XP window controls even though it is floating inside a Mac desktop.

All of this is possible with a software product for the Mac called Parallels Desktop. It allows you to create "virtual machines" that run on the Mac. In this case, I created a Windows XP virtual machine. I should note I needed to have a valid copy of Windows XP to install. I was a little curious about how the performance would be. Surprisingly, it is quite fast. Running a virtual Windows XP session on my iMac via Parallels is actually significantly faster than running Windows XP on my two year old Dell Dimension which has a 2.4 Ghz Intel Pentium 4 processor. As an experiment, I was importing full resolution video using the Mac's iMovie program while simultaneously running software in the virtual Windows XP machine. Both programs responded smoothly - the video displayed flawlessly at the full framerate even while the Windows XP software was being used.

I had been looking to upgrade my Windows PC for a while now. It was running some of my newer software development software a bit slowly. Also, my Mac laptop was quickly running out of disk space with all the photos I've been taking lately (I've accumulated over 12,000 photos in the past few years - yikes!). So, getting a new Mac made some sense. Yes, I could have lived without it, but it does make things much easier. I can still use my Mac laptop for when I need to be mobile, but I can offload the bulk of photos and other heavy processing work to my new machine. I free up a lot of desk space by eliminating a PC - the iMac takes up a lot less space since it just has the footprint of the monitor - and my development work under Windows will now be faster. Plus, I won't have to keep switching between machines when I need to use a Windows program vs. a Mac program.

Granted, if I had never switched to a Mac in the first place I never would have had a consolidation issue, but having used the Mac for almost a year now, I can definitely say I find the whole Mac computer experience significantly better than what I was used to on a Windows PC. I suppose the point of all this is, if you prefer the usability of a Mac, but have some Windows software you must still run, the new line of Macs have an answer.

Elephants Performing Extortion

A friend at work (yes, the same one who told me about Stormonter yesterday) pointed me to this article in the Bangkok Post. I find it hard to believe, but gangs of elephants have been stopping and raiding cargo trucks on a road through a wild-life sanctuary. According to the article, "A herd of about 20 elephants frequently blocks the road and holds up cargo trucks until a bundle of sugarcane, tapioca or pineapple is tossed to them as a highway fee."

I'm surprised someone hasn't blamed violent TV programs for teaching the elephant gangs this behavior...

Monday, January 22, 2007

Fortune of the week (8)

No problem can stand the assault of sustained thinking.

Ok, I must admit, when I first read this fortune, I misread it and thought it said "sustained drinking"! That would have been a bit more interesting of a find for a fortune.

It is only a Stormont

A friend at work stopped by my office today to show me an interesting quote from a book she is currently reading - Benjamin Franklin, by Walter Isaacson. In chapter 13, there is a short paragraph that describes a minor difficulty Franklin had while visiting Paris trying to drum up support for the US. There was a Lord Stormont (from England) who was there apparently spreading lies about Franklin, trying to discredit his reputation. Franklin's alleged response to this was, "It is not a truth. It is only a Stormont." Supposedly this led to the use of the catch-phrase stormonter, used among the hip Parisians of the day to refer to liars. It was supposed to be a French pun for menteur, which in French means liar.

So there you have it - in case you didn't already know this - my name is synonymous with liar - at least amoung 18th century hip Parisians, and Mr. Franklin. (Yes, although not mentioned anywhere in this blog, my last name is Stormont. The pseudonym I used of "Mostly Torn" is derived from MostTornBrain - an anagram for my real name.)

So, everything you read here on this blog should be taken with a grain of salt. After all, it's only a Stormont.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Just not feeling myself

For the past week or so, I just haven't been feeling myself. I think I may have had the flu, or something very similar. Today I took a few pictures and I definitely don't look like my usual self, either! Something a bit odd has happened to my head...

Ok, maybe it's not that funny, but for some reason I found great amusement in playing around with Apple's "Photo Booth" software. I like that second to last picture the best. I look kinda like Gollum. Maybe I can use it on my ID at work.