Monday, February 28, 2005

State Of Shock

I still wasn't feeling up to snuff yesterday and after a morning of
chores, layed down to read and/or watch a movie. Deb got home about 4,
tired from working all day, and lay down and dozed off. About 6:30 I
suggested that I'd better get ready for the 7:00 surprise party for her
aunt. Deb groaned and said, "maybe they won't miss us?" eventually we
got going and drove on down to the Legion hall where the party was being

It took us a minute to figure out which room it was in and as we walked
in I was surprised to see everyone pointing cameras at us and thought,
gosh, we're not running late, why would they be expecting Aunt Ruth
already? And then I noticed Aunt Ruth sitting at the table and party
poppers going off. Deb had turned around and started wallking out and it
was then I finally realized it was a surprise 25th anniversary party for
us! Wow! What a shock!

We had a wonderful time walking around and greeting all our friends and
relatives that were kind enough to attend. And you know, its strange how
you can sit down with friends that you haven't seen in some time and the
conversation picks up where it left off, as if all this time hadn't
passed. Maybe it hasn't when it comes to friends...

Looking forward 25 years seems like such a long time. Looking backwards
it seems too short.

And then there's the kids who yesterday were just "this big" and now are
planning and paying for a surprise anniversary party for mom and dad.

Then there's my poor suffering wife Debbie. She's had to put up with me
all this time! Rumor is, she's up for sainthood (and Lutheran's don't
even have saints!).

More good news! It looks like we won't have to sleep in the car on our
big trip cross country later this month.

I'm looking forward to seeing everyone at our 50th anniversary.

notsosilentbruce on AOL IM

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Podcasting - small press for radio

Remember Adam Curry? VJ from MTV? Apparently since we've last seen him, he's had his own internet company and when it got to be worth 68
million, sold it. So now this man of leasure has been involved in
developing Podcasting.

What is Podcasting? Podcasts are ameteur (mostly anyway) radio type programs that are uploaded in mp3 format to the internet and downloadable via an "aggregator" (collector) program. The aggregator
programs are designed to allow synchronization with an iPod (or other
mp3 players I assume), but the shows can be downloaded and listened to
with you computer. Internet radio shows are nothing new as I'm sure you
know, but the "killer application" here is the aggregation programs that
seek out your "subscribed" programs and download them to your mobile
device, whch can in turn, be listened to in your car or at work or while
you walk or jog.

And the shows themselves? There are currently around 3200 different podcasts being produced. News, music, humor, you name it. Just for instance I like to listen to:

The Dawn and Drew show - a young couple podcasting from their Wisconsin
farmhouse. Topics are, well, whatever, but usually funny and often a bit
off color.

The Daily Source Code - Adam Curry's own mostly daily show which consists of music, poodcast news, and occasionally some MTV memories.

Coverville - 3 times a week Brian hosts a 1/2 hour show featuring "covers" (songs done by other than the originator). The shows often have themes.

Various computer tech shows like Leo Laporte's computer tech show, Maccast, and the Linux Link Tech show.

If you're curious and want to try some shows out (or even want to create a show of your own) you can visit or for
listings of shows by category and software to download (although most
can be downloaded directly form their home sites if you so choose).


notsosilentbruce on AOL IM

Linux, what's it good for?

I love new toys. My first computer was a Commodore 128 in 1986. It had
no hard drive and the disk drive was not included, so at first, all my
programs were laboriously typed in and recorded on a cassette in a
"datassette." The first program that Deb and I typed in took 9 hours and
was a solitaire program. When we finally got it typed in correctly and
ran it I was so thrilled that I knocked on my neighbor's door and drug
him over to look on in splendor. He watched how it worked and then said,
"how long did this take you to type in? Nine hours!? Do you know how
many games of Solitaire I could have played in nine hours?"

To this day, I'm still a technology junkie. Anyone that even remotely
knows me can tell you that. So when I started reading about Linux (to be
fair, I've heard about it a lot over the last few years) and Open Source
programming and then listened to "The Linux Link Tech Show" podcast, I
got interested enough in it to try it out.

Linux developers are doing everything they can to get folks interested,
their best effort being "Live CD" versions of their programs. A Live CD
is a complete Linux desktop contained on a Bootable CD. Which means that
you can run it from the CD without installing anything on your computer.
I found several versions of these programs at (be sure
that what you are downloading is an "live" file). The first I downloaded
was ubuntu. 650 mb's burnt to disk as a "disk image" (it's important
that you read the documentation on how to burn disk images at the site).
I popped it in the disk drive, restarted the computer and low and
behold! Windows booted up?! I tried again and this time noted that a
menu right at startup allowed me to push F12 to alter where the computer
booted from. Since then I've found out that while many computers boot
first from CD, then floppy, then Harddrive, not all do. If not, It is
suggested that you alter your BIOS to let your CD boot first (but how
one does this, I do not yet know!) So anyway, this time the disk worked
and in a minute or two, the ubuntu desktop showed up.

There's not much on the ubuntu desktop at first glance. Instead of the
START menu that you are used to in Windows, the menu says APPLICATIONS
and pulls down from the top left side. Programs are broken down by type.
Now here's the amazing part! There are dozens of programs included!
There is a full Office suite, a Photshop type program, CD and DVD
players, low end games (and ubuntu's version of Mahjongg is my
favorite!) like solitaire and blackjack, tetris and reversi. There is a
program that will allow you to download and install lots more (but not
while you are using the Live CD), and wonder of wonders, a web browser
called Firefox that hooks up to your web connection with no problem. I
didn't have to do a thing!

There are several versions of Linux, my current favorite being Knoppix.
Knoppix is optimized to run from the CD drive and "installs" over 2 giga
bytes of programs to temporary RAM on your system. Besides everthing I
mentioned on the ubuntu disk, Knoppix even has a Windows emulator which
allows you to run Windows programs. Knoppix allows you to read files on
your computer, no matter Windows or not. Set up properly, Knoppix will
allow you to save setting and files to the hard drive as well without

So of course I raved about all this to a good friend and his first
question was, "so why would anyone want to use this Linux?" Sigh...
(Flashback to my Commodore story earlier.) I thought about it a lot and
then one day while listening to a computer tech help podcast, it hit me!
How often do you have hear someone complaining that their computer is
not working, working very slowly, or they feel they are infected with
spyware and/or virus's? Linux is the solution, temporary or otherwise.
If you have one of these Live CD disks on hand and know how to boot from
the CD, you can use your computer, unimpeded by infection, to get on the
internet, or access file that you might not be able to on your infected
Windows system.

While no system in invulnerable, Mac OS and Linux have fewer holes for
hackers to take advantage of. Add to that the fact that hackers are busy
hacking Windows.

If nothing else, Linux is good as a rescue system. So there!


Might I humbly recommend?

I eagerly await my issue of Fantasy and Science Fiction in each month's
mail. The latest issue arrived today with a new short story by a writer
I discovered last summer in F & SF, Matthew Hughes. So far he's done
several stories featuring this character, Henghis Hapthorne. old Earths
foremost freelance discriminator. Henghis is sort of a Nero Wolfe,
reluctant to leave his studies, sending his integrator to do his

Hughes stories take place in a distant future where things are, well, a
bit different than today. Rather than have me go on for paragraphs and
thereby reinforce my title of babbler, I'll give you Mr. Hughes website
address and let you decide if you want to know anymore:

There are several other writers in this (April) issue of F&SF that I
have enjoyed in the past, in particular, Ron Goulart with an new story
about his turn-of-the-century supernatural investigator, Harry

And if you think this is a ploy on my part to help the folks at F&SF
sell more issues so they'll be sure to stay in business (and along the
way entertain me with great stories) you're absolutely right!