Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Ultimate Apple II Fonts

Reviewer : Bill Martens
Version : 1.0
Date : 2008/12/30
Publisher: Kreative Korporation
Website :
Category : Mac Intel / Miscellaneous / New Release
Cost : Free

About The Program :

A young college student, Rebecca Bettencourt, has creative a beautiful rendition of the Apple II and Apple IIgs fonts. These fonts have been done in True Type format for both Mac OS X and Windows as well as any other system which can handle true type fonts.

The fonts have been very popular with Apple ][ enthusiasts over the years, but this is the first time they have been made readily available on newer systems.

User Experience :

The fonts downloaded and installed quite easily. Rebecca has even gone so far as to create a keyboard layout patch which allows the end user to quickly change from normal font input to inverse character input. The funny part of all this is that she has stayed true to the original Apple II series by naming the fonts with names such as pr number 3 (PR#3) and the keyboard patch as in number 0.

Positive Aspects :

Very few authors these days stay true to the original spirit of the Apple ][ when developing their software. This package has been a breath of fresh air in that realm with fonts that look exactly like they would on the Apple ][ and ][gs. The font maps are clear and complete and shows a great deal of detail work that went into producing the font package.

Once you have copied the keyboard layout to your Keyboard Layout directory and placed the two font files into the fonts directory, you are good to go. The are there and ready for usage.

We loaded the fonts and then tried them out in Indesign 2.0 with our current issue of Call-A.P.P.L.E. Magazine. Not only did the fonts works as advertised but they clearly enhanced the look that we were wanting for the current issue.

Negative Aspects :

No minuses in this package. It is all about look and feel and Rebecca has hit a home run.

Summary :

If you want the true look and feel of your old Apple ][ computer, then you will want to check out this package.

Rating : 5 OF 5 APPLES

Platform 1 : The Ultimate Apple ][ Font Package
Download 1 :

Platform 2 : Mac OS X Keyboard Layout Patch
Download 2 :

Platform 3 : Shaston Apple IIgs True Type Fonts
Download 3 :

About the Reviewer :
Bill Martens is the user group Ambassador for Apple Pugetsound Program Library Exchange (A.P.P.L.E.) and is also the production editor for Call-A.P.P.L.E. Magazine. ( Non-commercial replication of this article is permitted for User Groups.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

End of another Year

Well, 2008 has come to an end here. As I site here in Japan writing this, we are about 8 hours away from 2009. So what to say about this year.

I for one, finished a half dozen projects and none seem to have gone past the front door. I guess it is a sign of the times when the money stops, the viewers disappear and everyone starts putting their cash under their pillow or mattress.

I finished another football season. Not the way I wanted to end it but it ended none the same. It was an enjoyable season with the team making the second round of the playoffs for the first time in their 27 year history. Hopefully the team can go all the way next year and win the championship.

But then I guess I should stop talking about me and start talking about my favorite subjects. We are still at war (Major bummer) and we still havent gone back to the moon or on to Mars even (More major bummer). When will it be that man begins to explore the universe in earnest and quits trying to destroy each other with the best weapons money can buy.

While I dont have any of the answers, I do hope that all of you, my readers will have a joyous new year and find a way to spread a bit of cheer around to those who share our lives.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and what ever else you celebrate, make it a good one!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Santa Comes to Town Screen Saver -- An A.P.P.L.E. Short Review

By Bill Martens

Well for those of you in the mood for Christmas and santa, here is a package which plays fairly on both the Mac and on Windows. The Santa Comes to Town Screen Saver is a nifty little program that starts out with Rudolph the red nosed reindeer and then the rest of the team followed by Santa and his Sleigh.

This is definitely the thing to leave on your screen on Christmas eve as you walk away. It's cute and not playing any obnoxious music so it is probably even safe for the office or the library.

Installation is a breeze with the installer playing nice on all levels. The best part is that it is Free. If you are still stuck on halloween, Raul Silva has a screen saver for you too. My only wish on this screen saver was Santa being more random sort of like the old Flying Toasters was.

4.5 out of 5 Apples

Download the program
Mac OS X Version --
Windows Version --

Friday, December 12, 2008

We are all just prisoners here of our own device

Or so the words of the Eagles song go. But, in light of the trials and tribulations we must face just to get off this rock we call Earth to explore the universe, maybe the problems are too great and are keeping us here.

It is funny to hear myself say that especially since I have advocated manned space travel all of my life. Watching the moon landings in my living room in Maryland during the heyday of the Apollo program and then again in the Shadow of the Air Force Academy during Deke Slayton's mission stirred up a hornets nest of curiosity. Of course, there are many other people who were also inspired by those events of the 1960's and 1970's who have pursued the dreams with all of the fervor that the adventure is deserving of.

However, we still have not gotten far off this planet. And even here on the planet, we continue to face the same issues time and time again that we have virtually no control over. Famine, wars and natural disasters continue to rule our lives and much like the stories we write and read, the ending does not seem to be very easy to achieve.

If we ever are to get off the earth and truly explore the universe, we must first learn to live together and work together. Even best of friends don't seem to be able to do that all the time much less other countries. We continue to kill and plunder each others countries yet, we say things like for all man kind.

We also must get past the hunger issue. If we cant feed everyone here on earth, how do we expect to feed ourselves in the vacuum of space where we cant grow the foods except in enclosed environments. Sure, we would all love to have the TV program Star Trek to spring to life but the realities are that I doubt that any machine could produce enough meals for a major crew the size that we are talking about that would be necessary for colonization of other planets. Also, even if we do grow our own food in space, we still have to process that food and prepare it. This step alone is a major undertaking. The reality is that any food we need in space, we are going to have to take it with us.

There is also the problem of other consumables. Recently the International Space Station received a water processing plant which turns urine into drinkable water. But that is only one system and relying on a single system would be foolhardy at best. Redundancy again is needed. Also when the toilet clogs in space, its not like here where things just stay in place. They truly go all over the place. Smells also are not alleviated easily as in an earth borne environment.

I don't know about you but the idea of living inside a bubble anywhere we go as humans doesn't seem all that appealing. Until we find another planet with an environment that is close enough to Earths, we will always be living inside a bubble. That bubble is prone to failure both from the inside and from the outside. We have a long ways to go in being able to make a planet livable without the aid of enclosed environments.

The ultimate goals in all of the science we pursue in the exploration of space needs to be applied to all mankind and not just the select few that are enjoying the fruits of it right now. Sure, all of the films are inspirational and continue to motivate those of us who think that space is truly worth the money that our governments put into it, but until we do figure out how to solve all the big problems, then we are all "just prisoners here of our own device."

Yule's Christmas Quest -- An A.P.P.L.E. review

By Bill martens

Candlestone Productions has released a nifty little Christmas game / adventure game which is directed primarily at kids. Yule's Christmas Quest is a freeware package that focuses on the idea of finding all of the gifts from the twelve days of Christmas. Santa apparently forgets where he puts things and it is up to you to help Santa's helper puppy, Yule, find the gifts so that they can be delivered. The program is available for both PPC based Macs as well as the Intel machines.

Installing the Game

The game comes in a zip file and unpacks to a single file, making it easily transported around your machine. The lightweight 6.5 mb program is refreshing since most programs these days take far more drive space and accomplish far less. But then you are up and running in two minutes. Perfect instant entertainment installation.

Game Play

The controls off the game are run by moving yule around the screen collecting the different items on the screen. There are blue bears that will run into Yule and send him back to the point he started in the current screen. The timer also must be renewed with the clock icons around the game board. As each item is collected, there is a counter beside the particular item that will increase. Once all items of a particular item are found, the item becomes highlighted.

This game should have had a nice little game ending such as some type of musical act on the screen. However, it abruptly ends the game and returns to the game start screen. This could be particularly disheartening for a kid who has just sat there and collected everything essentially winning the game but no prize. The one aspect of the game that is definitely appropriate is the time out screen with Yule's face coming up in a frown with a clock in his hand.

While the graphics are cute and will draw children's attention, the actual play is a bit too precise in its required movements at points. The game also did not quit gracefully and I had to force it to quit. There is definitely room for improvement in this game but it is a good first effort worthy of mention.


Candlestone Productions Website :

Intel Based Download :

PPC Based Download :


3 out of 5 Apples

About the Author

Bill Martens is the user group Ambassador for Apple Pugetsound Program Library Exchange (A.P.P.L.E.) and is also the production editor for Call-A.P.P.L.E. Magazine. ( Non-commercial replication of this article is permitted for User Groups.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Mailplane Version 2.0 Reviewed

by Bill Martens

As the amount of spam being received by our accounts increased, the more I redirected the accounts to a GMail account, allowing much greater SPAM deletion prior to receiving mails. This method of SPAM filtering unfortunately produced the side affect of needing an application which allowed control over multiple GMail accounts. Then came Ruben Bakker's Mailplane application to the rescue.

Over the past year or so, I have steadily followed the progress of what I consider to be the best GMail reading app developed. The Mailplane program is not only intuitive but allows easy control over all of the email accounts that I manage. It has allowed me the peace of mind that none of the SPAM that gets sent in will ever make it to my inbox. But in spite of the program being great, Ruben did not rest on good enough. Now he has released version 2.0 and made it all that much better

41 new updates were made to the program including Quick Links, Video Chat Support and full support of GMail 2 features. While most of us think this many changes could only come from Apple, think again. The new application is bright, fits into leopard nicely and even looks good now.

We started from version 1.6.x of the application and upgraded via the upgrade feature in the Mailplane menu. Not only did it pick up the upgrade immediately but it upgraded the application in less than 60 seconds.

Once restarted, the application came up and showed an email with a list of all of the new features included in the application. This allowed me to easily go through the feature list and see if there were any in particular that enthralled me. One such feature was the new Attach Folder and File Bundles feature in composing emails. No more clunky single file attachment nightmares. Now it can be performed in a single swoop.

Growl also seems to play much nicer with the application now. Many features related to notifications are among the half dozen items in the program related to notifications that been update. This in turn has made the application much less annoying when mail items come in while working.

While, I would like to say everything is wonderful, there is one new item that I do not like whatsoever. If you have any accounts that have over 999 new mails in it, the accounts tab shows the number as something that is not really readable. It puts the thousands digit followed by a comma and "..."; i.e. 1,.... I have a few accounts that have system notices in them and this was the one negative thing I found during my experience with the latest version.

Other than that, this version of the Mailplane application is not only a solid application but a well thought through and complete application. It certainly makes my life easier and I am sure will make yours easier too if you have numerous Gmail accounts.

What is best about this application is not just that it is useful but also that the cost wont break the bank. At $24.95 for a single license, it is well worth your hard earned money. If you have multiple machines like I do, you will particularly like the $15 family option that Uncomplex Ltd offers. The system requirements for the program make it easy to handle too. The program runs on either Mac OS 10.4.11 or 10.5.5 meaning it should work comfortably on any G4, G5, or Intel based Mac.

For those users who are still using Windows, I know that Ruben has been considering a version specifically for the Windows platform. ( Obviously he is awaiting feedback from users prior to building that version though.

You can download the Mailplane application from the Uncomplex Ltd. website at:

Rating: 4 out of 5 Apples

About the Author

Bill Martens is the user group Ambassador for Apple Pugetsound Program Library Exchange (A.P.P.L.E.) and is also the production editor for Call-A.P.P.L.E. Magazine. (

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Is Apple covering something up?

Last week, Apple Inc introduced a line of new machines with Die Cast Aluminum bodies. No more of the aluminum sheet metal that flexes and bends with the slightest pressure.

For my poor MacBook Pro, this has become a serious issue. Too much pressure from my arms on the right corner has left the CD band out of place and dipping down so I actually wound up having to cut it off in order for CD's and DVD's to slide in and out.

The Metal is warped in several places and bent in others. It makes me wonder if Apple has been receiving customer complaints about this, resulting in a new body type rather than fixing the issue. Get customers to buy the new machine when those of us with the 17" MBP already spent $3000 buying this computer. Nothing like spending another $3000 just to fix the problem.

I just wonder if I am alone in this analogy or if there are others out there with the same issue. If you have had similar issues, let me know.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

9/11 -- Where were you?

I was asleep taking an early snooze on that fateful day when I was awakened by the ringing of a phone. Groggily I answered in a gruff tone which stated that I was annoyed at being woke up. A long time friend of mine was on the other end.

"Turn on the TV!" was all she said. I was wondering what could be so important. Nothing was planned by NASA so we could not have lost another shuttle. No wars were ongoing so I figured it had to be a take over of another bank as I was involved in the financial industry at the time.

"A plane hit the world trade center" she said to me and as I turned on the TV and tuned in CNN, her words began to sink in. I was still groggy as I laid down on my couch but the sleep was slowly fading from my body.

"Oh My God" was all I could say. I knew people in there. Many people. Oh my, oh my. It could not be possible. As we sat there wondering what was going on, another plane slammed into the second tower of the World Trade Center. I jumped from the couch as the sounds echoed through the TV and the Announcer started to calmly say that a second plane had struck the World Trade Center.

"Jesus! Did you see that?!" I asked knowing full well she had seen. I had to gather my wits at this point. I knew my former company, Goldman Sachs had moved out 18 months earlier but all the people from Knight Ridder were in there. Having worked with many of their people in the Market Data installations that we performed on many trading floors around Tokyo, I was suddenly flush with worry that they people I knew were in imminent danger.

We both sat there with the phones to one ear, taking in everything visually and from the announcers on the TV. It was so overwhelming that tears began to flow. America was under attack. The news flashed the news that one more plane had hit the Pentagon. Gees, I thought to myself. How many planes are going to crash?

By this point I was looking for answers which I knew would not come any time soon. It was to be another two weeks before I totally understood the relevance of that moment but like millions of other people around the world, I became very engrossed in the reporting, looking for any new tidbit of news that could explain exactly what happened.

Of course, the whole time, I was also secretly hoping that it had all been a dream and that I would wake up from this nightmare sometime soon. But the news reports continued, another plane crash in a field in Pennsylvania. That was four planes. Out of the 6000 or so in the US actually in the air at that time, why these four planes.

News, more news, and more. I couldn't get enough. I was addicted and I had to have answers. I laid on that couch for the full two weeks not sure why this happened but then suddenly I started watching the first baseball games that were being played after the attacks. It was then that I too woke up and said I had to go on. Friends died but now we were going after the bad guys and we were going on with our lives again.

It was these moments of realization which pushed forward the agenda which I had been afraid of when Bush took over the presidency. Hunan Island and 9/11 had just been a minor precursor to what the world was about to witness. Shock and Awe. But I thought that had already occurred but then the building exploding in downtown Bagdad on live TV told me we were in this war now. Grainy green colored videos of battles with the tracers floating gracefully towards their targets with devastating effect. Military hardware and building erupting into a ball of flame shooting black smoke and fire skyward. It was these images which stuck with me.

I decided to go do what I could for my country and even though I was too old to be in the military there were still plenty of civilian positions available, especially as we ramped up for war. I was to do my part as were many in my family and those of my friends who I grew up with. Now all these years later, I wonder if it had been worth it.

We are still in the wars, no end in site. People have forgotten why we started these wars and they have become apathetic again. But all we have to do is look to Islamabad and we suddenly realize that the baddies are still out there and we need to go forth and kick some butt in that old fashioned American style. And lest we forget, 9/11 is the reason for it all.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

IOC Diciplines Swedish Wrestler

I wrote this response to an article by Bill Plaschke about the IOC disciplining wrestler, Ara Abrahamian. (

"Hey Plaschke, You got this one right. The IOC has become a bunch of loser old men sitting in chairs making judgments on the athletes of today, only interested in their cushy little jobs and not in real promotion of athletics.

And by the way people, China also agreed to abide by the code of conduct and balked on that when it inconvenienced their totalitarian rule over the country. The IOC stood by and did squat and then everyone says oh, it is ok...its China.

Well, NO, it is NOT ok. It is pure BS and the same reason why many of us who grew up with the boycotts of the 1980's and being affected by those boycotts cant stand anything the Olympics stands for now because it doesnt stand for the athletes except for people like Michael Phelps.

Personally, I think we should have given the Olympics to a more deserving country where freedom of speech and basic human rights are not squashed at the drop of a hat. after watching the farce of a torch relay and the heavy handed security guards (special Chinese Police) made me just absolutely abhor watching any news of the Olympics. It the IOC was really interested in abiding by the Olympic charter, they would have called the Chinese on their farce, but then, the IOC is only interested in letting the government of China write their own rules for the Olympics and making tons of money."

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

China Shooting Self in Foot

Over the past few weeks here, the Beijing Olympics have looked less and less desirable for those attending. First, the journalists were being censored after being promised unfettered access to the Internet. Then the air became a major issue and the fact that four American cyclists arriving with US Olympic Committee issued masks on, caused the Chinese to take offense and the US Staff chastised the athletes. Now, Olympian (Notice I did not say former) Joey Cheeks has been refused a visa, as just added fuel to the fires already burning in Beijing.

China for it's part, opened up the reporting during the earthquake only to shut it down again when people started asking why only schools collapsed while government buildings in the same area went unscathed. Then they started jailing folks for even asking the questions. Journalists were given the boot from the country again.

Tibet and Turkmenistan have become issues with several bombings and the protests against China's over bearing repression of the regions. Granted, for it's part, China has highlighted the problems by trying to associate them in the same way with 9-11 with the war against terrorism. But this is all home grown issues that China's repressive hands have created for themselves and in no way bears any resemblence to the 9-11 and 7-11 terrorist attacks that occured in the US and the UK. You are talking instead about people who just want their home lands back and want to live in peace.

What is saddest about all of this is that China was even granted the Olympic games in the first place. The Olympic charter is supposed to promote peace and harmony, yet China's human rights record alone should have been enough to sink their application back 6 years ago. But instead, people thought China would clean up its act both ecologically and socially. Instead, they have become so repressive that now they even are brazen enough to block Olympians from attending the Olympics and to try and say that if you speak out against anything China doesn't like, you will be booted from the country or refused entry.

I take issue with the US Olympic Committee not supporting Joey Cheeks, but then, when has the USOC ever done anything that was supportive of the athletes. It is time to boot out the old cronies that are running the show in many of these cases including the IOC which has also failed to support the athletes instead bowing to China's repressive tactics.

People have forgotten all about Mexico City where U.S. athletes made political statements. Yes, they were chastised for it, even booted off the Olympic team in an era where tolerance was in low supply, but it had the effect that was required. It is time once again for a Mexico City type revolt on the part of the athletes and this revolt should continue until the Chinese back down from their idiocy. I also think it is time that the leaders of democratic countries around the world throw their weight around again and threaten boycott (This may be too late as we have already sent most of the athletes to the games).

Friday, August 01, 2008

Beijing Backs Down

Just a day after the uproar over the censorship of the Internet that I mentioned in my previous post, Beijing appears to have relaxed the Internet censorship according to this Time article (,8599,1828587,00.html) But is is a bit too late to get the stink back in the horse?

What is amazing to me is that the Chinese government says free unfettered access, but what they mean is free and unfettered as long as you dont want Falun Gung or Free Tibet sites. The government apparently have made the relaxation complete through out the entire country. But the fact that they still block these sites tells me that they are afraid that if they let the Internet completely open, they will lose the strict control they have enjoyed for many years.

The earthquake sympathy is finally wearing off and the reality that Beijing is the biggest farce in the history of the Olympic games is just becoming apparent. Hopefully, the rest of the world will wake up with the few that have already been enlightened.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

China Censoring, IOC helping censorship!!!

A while back, I wrote that they should move the Olympics on the grounds of the crackdowns in Tibet and the jailing of journalists as well as other areas of ill will towards people. Now I have found one more reason why we should not support the Olympic games in China...Censorship. While, the IOC had originally announced to the world as had China that the censorship would be lifted for journalists, this has not and will not be the case for the duration of the games.

Several reports on ZDF's Heute and CNN's Headline News programs have shown evidence that China is censoring the journalists right in the Olympic press pit. They even blocked access to the ZDF's website which makes it nearly impossible for the Germans to turn in reports.

Now it turns out according to this report in reuters ( that the IOC agreed to allow China to clock certain sites and censor the traffic. Not only does this go against the Olympic charter but it makes the IOC a total joke. They display with the Iraq national team was so pitiful, I thought to myself, where is this going? Now I know where it is going. The IOC has given in. They no longer press China on tough issues and they wont press for changes in the censorship.

While many people have refused to comment, I have chosen to take a stand here and now. I DO NOT support the Olympics in China. Period! While, my father was angry when carter canceled the US team going to Russia in 1980, I instead have a different suggestion. Create an alternative games for countries who do not want their athletes going to the smog infested capital of the world, where journalists are beaten, jailed and censored unlike anywhere else in the world.

We should also disband the IOC and create a new organization run by athletes for athletes. No more BS from political groups and governments. It is time that athletes are allowed to compete as athletes and not as pawns of their governments.

As for my idea of the Alternative games, they could be planned for any place in the world with the infrastructure willing to host them and would welcome all Olympic qualifiers. This would allow people to take part and perform in a grand stage without the politics of the IOC or the restrictions of the Chinese who obviously are trying to politicize the entire Olympic movement, just as Hitler did in 1936. Enough is enough and I again say "NO Olympics for China!"

Monday, June 23, 2008

Is the Washington Post aiding the Enemy?

I was horrified to find an article in the Washington Post, suggesting that we should negotiate with the Taliban instead of sending more troops to Afghanistan. But then I looked at the source of the article. It was written by a Dr. Ali Ettefagh in Tehran, Iran. While I normally would not have made anything of such an article, the whole premise that we should negotiate with the Taliban just absolutely shocked me. It amazes me even more that the Washington Post would endorse in any way shape or form the policy that the article is espousing.

One need only look back 10 years when the Taliban were firmly in control of Afghanistan and blowing up religious symbols that had stood for a thousand years. They basically put the people and the country of Afghanistan into the dark ages, yet they themselves were allowed to use technology. Women were not allowed to be educated and strict Islamic extremist law was implemented, complete with public executions in facilities that were build for peaceful sporting exhibitions.

These are the same group of people that Dr. Ettefagh is suggesting that we negotiate with. All we need to do is take one look at some of the film from that era prior to 9/11 from Afghanistan and jump up and shout a resounding "No Way In Hell!"

While I am one who is definitely concerned with journalistic freedoms, I also have family members and friends who are currently fighting over seas and everything that they have fought for seems to be forgotten by the one paper that is supposed to be the supporter of American freedoms. My friends have died there and the things they gave their lives for, most of us take for granted. It is not a war about anything materialistic as has been suggested by many outlets. It is a war about doing the right thing. This is something that people who have become obsessed with President Bush have forgotten.

The article,, which does not even seem to matter to anyone at the post, is obviously pushing a very Iran centric theme. Negotiate till people are blue in the face. But the author tries very hard to compare the wars fought by the US after 9/11 to the drug wars of the 1990's.

The complete and utter failure of Dr. Ettefagh to understand that this is no 1990's drug war and that this is a war for the freedom of the Afghanistan people, only serves to highlight the fact that this article should not have been in the Washington Post in the first place. If this had happened during any other war we have fought over the history of the US, heads would have rolled and the owners of the paper would have been thrown in jail for treason.

Our papers in America are no longer the bastion for the red, white, and blue but are now the mouth pieces of our enemies and the Washington Post is right at the top of that list. Maybe the next time Bush names the Axis of Evil, he can include the Post in the list. While I do not necessarily agree with the policies of our government, I certainly do not endorse the undercutting of our brave men and women in uniform the way that this article does. It is a total dis-service to them and should be called for what it is; pure and utter rubbish which does not belong in a paper that would be read by the American people.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Plurking the Karma Thing

It is kind of funny that I have been using Plurk ( for the past month and have come to the realization that people are very much rank and rating oriented. Everyone complains about their Karma as it is called on the site.

Everytime people’s Karama reached a point where they got the benefits of having high karma (usually just colors and emoticons), they complained louder. The funny part is that over 30 percent of the messages on the site were about the Karma.

I find the whole rules thing with Plurk a bit annoying as well. It seems to me that just because someone has something interesting to micro blog, they should not be penalized for posting it just because they have posted more than 30 times in a day. But they do penalize you.

One more funny change is with the Karma growing as well as the number of users on the web site, they have begun to throttle those plurkers whose Karma is over 60. Real nice. You cant have anyone reaching 100 otherwise the balance and the game would be pointless.

For me, I just ignore all of it. I find that the conversations posted are 90% of the time well worth the dozen or so replies. You will find that the items on the site with the most replies are generally things of value although occaisionally, one of my food or coffee plurks draws more replies than the news plurks that I have become known for.

When Social Networking began to become an item, many people thought of Facebook or Myspace, but these days it is more about Twitter ( and Plurk and for good reason. No bulky items cluttering the user’s pages and the sites are all about communicating. If we had these sites 10 years ago, the world would be much more at peace. It is funny but I have rarely seen anything negative in my adventures of Plurking or being onTwitter. Maybe we should make all world leaders join just to see how they would handle it or make it a pre-requisite for becoming president.

For those of you who follow me on the social networking sites, I have added a partial list of the sites I am on. You can find me there and feel free to give me a holler or a request to be a friend.

My Social Networking Sites
Twitter (
Plurk (
Pownce (
Bright Kite (

My personal Sites
Virtual Apple II ( (
A Voice from the Minor Leagues (
Bill Martens Photography (

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

World Records on the Internet

Today, Firefox is attempting to set a world record for the most software downloaded in 24 hours with the release of their newest version of the Firefox Browser. While this attempt is seen on the surface as just a really cool idea, it has serious undertones for the Internet at large.

With an approximate 30-50 million users all trying to download the same software from the same servers all in the same day, I can see some serious slow downs on networks occurring very rapidly. Until now most of these type of slowdowns have been related to social networked viruses that made their way through the home computers and office PC's of millions of users all over the world.

But this slowdown that will result will be the direct result of people purposely trying to download a new software package. Having just upgraded to FF3 RC3, I, for one will not be participating in the download. This is not because I don't want the latest version but it is primarily due to the fact that I do not want to contribute to the willful destruction of the Internet as we know it. Besides, I can download the new release tomorrow or the next day and it is not going to make much difference in my experience with Firefox.

Slowdowns in places like India where the Internet is already at a crawl, could place so much burden on these locations that they will be cut off from the rest of the world for several days. I am sure there are several multinational conglomerates around the world that will not appreciate the inability to communicate with these offices.

While I have not seen anyone take the same approach as I, I am sure that once the Internet starts to slow down, people will either give up on the Internet for the day. However, there are those who can not escape having to use the Internet. Financial institutions all over the world already use the Internet as their primary resource for communications but if they suddenly can not send or receive trades, updates or End of Day items, there could be some serious hell to pay. The losses financially could balloon into a number of the sort that we have been seeing with the Sub-Prime losses all over the globe.

My recommendation is that while this type of thing is fun and it is cool to say you set a record or were part of the record, I am saying, "Just say NO!"

Get Fire Fox --
World Record Attempt --

Friday, June 13, 2008

Is Mars Getting Closer?

Ok, I have to admit, the headline is a bit misleading. But it is more of a question of are we getting any closer to going to Mars? We have robots and rovers there but so far, not a single man has gone to any other planetary body since 1974 when Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmidt left Mare Serenitatis.

But this week, nasa at least got the ball rolling with the awarding of the design of the next generations spacesuits to a Houston based company, Oceaneering International, Inc. ( Of course, this is only half the battle but at least if the guys go anywhere they will have new spacesuits. It almost reminds me of the old Jose Jimenez jokes that Bill Dana did on the Steve Allen Show back in the 1960's. "Why, I even got a helmet and gloves!"

All joking aside, this is serious business. And with a $180 million contract, this type of business will provide a ton of good high paying engineering jobs. If the whole Mars trip costs $200 billion by the time man lands on Mars, this will be an adventure well worth it in economic growth and hopefully a bit of restored pride in both NASA and the US.

While politicians like to complain about the costs, they all know that these are the types of jobs that cant be shipped over seas or farmed out to third world countries. These types of jobs also allow for economic prosperity. It was the whole space program in the 1960's that caused the economy of the US to boom, even in a time of war. In spite of our fighting in Vietnam, we were still able to cause the average American consumer to actually have a high level of confidence in the basic economy, all the way until the oil shock hit.

Unfortunately, we are in the middle of another oil shock that is shaking the foundations of almost every country in the world, but this is primarily due to the fact that while the oil companies are making record profits, the workers have not benefited int he same way. If the US doesn't find a way to distract the American consumer at this point, all may be lost. Especially the space program which is the first to be cut any time that there are funding issues elsewhere.

In my book, if we make it to mars on the schedule that President Bush laid out, then it will be an absolute miracle worthy of the stories that are still told about the men who went to the moon. Will this be Bush's legacy? The man who brought Mars closer to us? Dont bet on it but hopefully as more contracts are awarded to US companies, we will find that the date of the trip and man setting foot on Mars will get closer with or without all of the external circumstances.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

ABC Sportscaster Jim McKay Dead

No one can forget the Wide Wold of Sports intro for ABC Sports or the way that Jim McKay was a mainstay in the world of announcing at a time when the sports world needed someone like him.

He announced almost any major sports event and the ones most people remember him for are 1972 and 1976 Olympic games. In 1972, the Israeli athletes were murdered and he was the one voice which came through with a sound of reason amongst the madness that followed the incident.

In 1976, it was he who presided over the games, announcing as Jim Walker won the 1500 and Bruce Jenner won the decathlon.

He began sports casting in 1961 and was a main stay in tv broadcasting during an era long ruled over by the great news casters of his day. But it was Jim McKay who with stood all the ups and downs and became beloved by many in his time.

We thank you for the memories Jim and wish there were others like you. Jim McKay was 86.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

My new twitter like toy, Plurk

Over the past six months or so, I have posted over 3000 messages on twitter, put up with the ups and downs of the site and grown to love the site in spite of its short comings. That was until this week when I discovered the promised land of social networking micro blogging sites.

Plurk, has a flavor much like that of twitter, in fact most of the twitter folks are there. There is one distinct difference. Plurk allows you to take part in a pure conversation directly in the users plurk, creating a near real time conversation between many people, much like the party lines of old.

While it has a ways to go to be perfect, Plurk is definitely a step up from the singularity of the twitter world. It allows you to follow multiple discussions all within the same time frame with by the minute break down of the Plurk chain, making it easy to find discussions you are taking part in. Another nice feature is the fact that the handling of the microblogger follows similar patters to the twitter ones.

If you havent tried out Plurk yet, you should. Just a bit of fore warning. It is addictive and you will find yourself among the sleep deprived of your fellow Plurkers. But until you get to the point of completely screwing up your sleep patterns, have fun and enjoy the graphical interface.

My Plurk --
My Twitter --

Friday, May 30, 2008

Space Ambassadors Needed

Ever wanted to tell someone about going into space and be an evangelist for Space? Now you can. The National Space Society and Virgin Galactic are starting a space ambassador program or as they say on their website, "Space Ambassadors can be anyone — you just have to have a passion for space and the ability to effectively communicate that excitement to others. Teachers and artists are particularly encouraged to apply. Membership in the National Space Society is not required to participate, but is encouraged! "

Check it out at$Origin=SpaceAmbassadors

They say on the web site that one lucky ambassador will be chosen to fly. Gosh, maybe I have a chance to go up after all :D

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Netaudio Ads...Real or Scam?

Several months ago, I wrote a blog entry on this site about having joined the Net Audio Ads craze that was hitting. While it all seemed like it would be the latest and greatest way to add monetization to my web sites, it has panned out to be anything but.

Over several weeks, the idea went from a few people signing up to viral and then to Net Audio Ads being on the blink to them back tracking on the fees, to them not starting the service to the people who signed up thinking that there was a large advertising machine behind the group being asked to sell advertising.

Now the only thing that ever plays on my blog is an ad for Net Audio Ads. In April, when I looked, I had made a whole penny off my ads. That's right folks, 1 red cent!!! Now when I look, they don't even give me credit for that one. The funny thing about that is, I get more in one click through on Google Ads than I have ever gotten from Net Audio Ads.

My feeling is that the way they hyped the site and the service far too much and basically the only thing they are left with now is no ads. And while this seems to be the way it is, I haven't removed their ad module from the blog because I want to see this story to the end.

I don't know if anyone else has been following this or had experience with this group but I would definitely be interested in hearing how other have made out with it.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

A new openess in China?

Over the past week or so since the big 7.9 magnitude earth quake in China, we have seen scenes of the destruction and the suffering unlike any we have seen out of China before. One might ask, is this just a convenience to get the sympathies of the world or is the open reporting for real?

It has been amazing with reports by phone, satellite, and even video phone, seemingly coming to the world without impunity from all of the reporters there. Never before have we seen this aspect of a country that has become synonymous with human rights abuses and closed borders.

It is refreshing to see this, but then comes the ultimate question of "will it last?" Once can only hope that it does last. And now that the country goes into a three day mourning period with more than 35,000 people dead, 200,000 plus injured and millions left homeless, the situation is far from over there.

The only thing that has been a bit like the old days is China's refusal to accept most aid but that has been changing too with a team of search and rescue experts from Japan being allowed in to help in recovery efforts. Also, the world has generously offered stocks of food and water and China, unlike burma has been readily accepting this help and distributing it with no holds barred.

Everyone thought that the Olympics would change China. My feeling is that maybe it takes an act of God to change China and now that we have one, China seems to be changing very rapidly. Even dissension and questioning of the government has been allowed very openly after more than 7000 schools collapsed throughout the country. The reporting of this dissension has also been freely allowed and almost encouraged.

While China is still communist, one can only hope that now that the country has seen one of the worst natural disasters in human history, that the country can truly change and become the real world player that it has the potential of being.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Double Amputee Allowed to Compete

Over the past two years, many news reports have covered Oscar Pistorius, a double amputee record holder in the 100,200, and 400 for disabled athletics. Many of the articles I have read have not been so favorable on him competing against able bodied athletes and fulfilling his dream to compete in the Olympic games in Beijing.

Oscar was born with several deformities which cost him his legs at the age of 11 months old. Obviously with the advances in technology, he can now compete on a fairly level playing field with other runners. Not disabled athletes but able bodied ones. This is the way it should be. However, not everyone feels that way and after the way the International Association of Athletics Federations ruled, it is obvious that they didn't feel that way either.

The IAAF ruled that Oscar Pistorius had an advantage over his able bodied competitors because his prosthetics gave him an advantage of having to expel 25% less effort over the same distance. Yet, in spite of this supposed advantage, he has failed to automatically qualify for the Olympics. In the IAAF testing, it is unknown exactly what they based this judgement on but one can only assume that they based it on him being completely whole in body which he is not.

Now, finally after all the wrangling and testing and the sheer hell that these people and organizations have put Oscar through, The Court for Arbitration of Sport has made a decision that he can compete for his country. Luckily, this decision is final and there is no appeal for the IAAF at this point.

Because of his failure to qualify automatically to compete, it is highly likely, according to some reports, that he will go to Beijing as part of the South African 4x400 meter relay team which is allowed to take 6 athletes to the games to compete. I sincerely hope that Oscar Pistorius does well and performs his best there as the whole world will now be watching. Not because the man will break any world records, but because he is now joining the ranks of the able bodied athletes after being forced into a classification most of his life that he neither asked for nor had any choice in.

To all the nay sayers in the world, who thought that Oscar Pistorius was not capable of competing or that he had a technological advantage, I say "go Oscar Pistorius!!!"

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

WWDC Sells Out....What????

WWDC, the developers conference for Apple which is held each year at Muscone Center in San Francisco, apparently has sold out. While the exact number of tickets available for the conference is not known, it is a bit odd that there were 6000 some attendees last year and it wasn't sold out but this year, it is sold out at 5000.

Is this a limitation being placed on the number of people by Apple or is it real? Who is to say, however, after my experience with last year's conference, it almost doesn't seem to matter.

We went to last years conference looking for meat and potatoes developers information yet, got spoon fed apple sauce marketing crap from companies all over the spectrum. The ever elusive developers information on the iPhone was not only non-existent but the short run through that they did in the keynote, which supposedly had information available on the WWDC web site wasn't even available until the conference closed. Not much good for any question and answer sessions with the Apple developers when you have them right there.

But of course, with the popularity of the Mac increasing as a computing platform, it is no real surprise that they would say it is sold out. However, I find the numbers to be just a bit too artificially set and it is with doubting heart that I believe this is any more than just a marketing ploy. Of course with past history as an example, this is no real surprise.

The only real surprise is that it took a year for them to add the iPhone track to the program. This track should have been made available in last years conference when the iPhone was the entire focus. But instead, Steve chose to come on and say that we didn't need an SDK. Then in February, he decided we did. Now as the throngs of the Apple faithful clamor to Muscone with hopes of seeing the next generation iPhone and other goodies, will they be once again disappointed the way we were with a second round of Leopard stuff that wasn't really relevant to developing much of anything.

To this accord, I say "Please, Apple, make up your mind, quit faking the numbers, and get the meat and potatoes on the table for us real developers to eat."

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Apple Camera Nabs Thieves...err...Stupidity nabs thieves

I have read several articles this week that Apple store employee, Kait Dupalga of White Plains, NY, had her MacBook stolen and recovered it by remotely capturing a photo of the thieves using it. While many stories on the net had everything from this being miracle work, to the Mac having anti-theft devices, it is amazing how few people check their facts before actually publishing a story such as this.

First, the Mac does not have an anti-theft device. The fact that the Mac was remotely accessible was due to Back to My Mac remote access that is part of the $99 a year .MAC package offered by Apple, Inc.

Second, this is no miracle. When you have stupid thieves who use a computer as is, they are bound to get caught. These idiots didnt even change anything. They just fired it up and using the browser, were shopping for beds.

Third, It begs the question why the owner had no security set on the computer. No passwords, nothing. If Ms. Dupalga had been smart, she would have installed a security package such as Lojack or Undercover. But she did no such thing.

All I can say is she got lucky. Extremely lucky. The fact that she was able to get the shot of the guys and that it was someone her room mates knew and recognized, obviously payed dividends. But if you want real security on your system, get one of these programs and install it.

Back to My Mac --
Undercover --
LoJack for Laptops --
Verey I For Mac --

Where are the militaries of the world now?

When countries have felt threatened in the past, they have rushed in their militaries with lightning speed. Such was the case in Afghanistan, Kuwait, Iraq and other hot spots. But the Burmese people who have one of the largest despot militaries is seeing no such help.

We will send billions to Africa in aid, but barely a trickle to Burma. And not only that, the aid that is being sent is now being stuffed into military warehouses to support their military rations or marked with the names of generals of the regime and then handed out. It is odd that these jokers think that the people will be fooled about where the aid came from when the box is clearly marked, Kingdom of Thailand, China, India, US Aid, or others.

It sickens me to think that the big countries are going to sit by idly and let the Junta in Burma kill 2 million people. It is time for these countries to quit fighting over the wealth of the world and for them to step up and to fight for the humanity of the world. I am surprised that the US has not resorted to aid shipments in the manner which it took with Yugoslavia in the 1990's. Drop pallets of MRE's (Meals Ready to Eat for you non-military types) and water rations from C-130's flying over head and let the people have them. Protect these flights with F-18 fighters and Navy carriers and tell the Junta straight up that if they interfere, we will destroy their military and military bases in a fortnight. (this could be done since they seem to conglomerate in certain areas).

It is high time that the crimes that are being committed against the Burmese people cease and that the real aid begins to happen. The Burmese have suffered long and hard at the hands of these idiot generals and it is time that it comes to an end. The US, UK, and all the coalition forces or NATO or other militaries, should step up and make this mandate happen immediately.

Talk about timing!!! China Espaces the Glare.

This week after the world had the weight of its criticism focused squarely on the Junta of Burma and the Chinese for its handling of the Tibet issue, something happened that has turned all that criticism on its head.

An earthquake of 7.8 struck killing more than 10,000 people at last count. While most people are still focused on the Burmese Junta's handling of the cyclone aid, their criticisms of China and Burma have suddenly waned. Call it the sympathy factor or the ADD factor.

Of course, at the same time, the Olympic torch relay has been reconfigured and seems to no longer be the main focus of the government. Unlike other governments around the world who have been criticized for their handling of a natural disaster, the response of the Chinese government has been praised to extents never seen.

The focus of the government has rightfully turned to rescue operations and they have implemented the usage of their military in a manner that is consistent with the military being the people's military. Even the US government failed in this respect with the Katrina response, at a time when it could have won the hearts and minds of the people. Now China has obviously learned from that and the Burmese government failures and they have squarely focused the full efforts of their military machine on recovery and rescue operations.

But are we being too soft on China now that they have their own issues? will the focus on their human rights abuses be lost in their great response to something that no one expected them to step up to the plate in? Or is the Chinese government the ultimate propaganda machine that has learned that the real way to help change people's minds is to do something that shows benevolence and compassion? Only time will tell, but I have noticed that the reporting in this disaster has been clear, numbers concise and accurate, and even the reporting by foreign press freely allowed, seemingly without restriction.

It is my feeling that the government of China will play this up, try to show it's best face in the Olympics and then go right back to being the over bearing, people beating, polluting country that it has been once the focus is off. But the only things people will remember will be the handling of the earthquake response and the Olympics. And in this, the people of Darfur, Burma, and Tibet will be forgotten once again and left to their own devices.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Recovering from a crash

Over the years, there have been several times where I wished I could back data up to something that would never loose my data. But this dream is probably the dream of every engineer or programmer on the face of the earth. Of course, this dream is probably the biggest dream there is. Unfortunately, a recent database crash caused the dream to come back again.

In this day and age with free storage online and the availability of big hard drives cheap, the problem of hard disks failing is becoming more prevalent. Which leads to other failures.

Is this problem leading us into an era in which we truly are going to loose everything? If we were to suffer a magnetic pulse on a large scale around the world, such as that caused by an asteroid hitting the earth, it would be foolish to think that anything of our data would be left other than that which is in print format.

Should we even be thinking about the paperless office that people have been trying to create since the 1980's, rather foolishly and unsuccessfully in reality. But what is the flip side of that thinking. If we go back to using just paper, things slow down, and also we use more natural resources that are already strained beyond belief.

So what to do? In the short term, I would say that if it is important, back it up on two different mediums. Use online as well as offline resources. If it is really important, print it out. And if it is even more important that that (imperative to your life), put a physical and a media copy in a safe deposit box.

Luckily I dont have much that is in the final category but I keep thinking how many web sites would become my only copy of items I have created should I loose my hard drives.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

My Coffee and I

I have always appreciated a good cup of coffee. While there are tons of places that supposedly specialize in making a good cup, I have found that most of the places are just barking in the wind. That has in turn made me take to buying the coffee and grinding it myself.

While most people are happy with the MJB or some other form of canned coffee from the store, I appreciate a bit more flavor in my coffee. Especially a bold or extra bold coffee. This is why I normally will turn to Seattle's Best, Tully's, or Starbucks for my beans or Peets when it can be come by. But they only do the trick half way.

The one coffee that I have enjoyed the most outside of Kauai is the coffee from the Gold Coast Coffee Company in Kailua-Kona Hawaii. For anyone who has visited the Big Island, this is a no brainer. The Coffee Samurai ( is owned and operated by a third generation Japanese descendant and has by far the best coffee there is.

I don't normally endorse too many things but this place has coffee that will not only fill the air with an aroma that is absolutely distinct, the brewed coffee is a different flavor from anything you have ever had before.

If you are going to the Big Island anytime soon, be sure and pick some up or you can order online from their web site. It is definitely well worth the price.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Apple ][ and my Life this week

This has been a weird week. I haven't had much time for almost anything and everyone keeps asking why. Well, when you look at what I have done this week in the world of Retro-computing, hopefully you will understand.

First, lets talk about Apple Pugetsound Program Library Exchange. ( This has been my baby over the past 10 years and I am finally stepping aside and letting Mike Pfaiffer run with it. But in doing this, it meant that I had to re-do the web site, clean it up, and delete the items not needed on the server. I also had to write a standards document for the production of the magazine. While this might seems like an item that you would have on hand anyways, I hadn't updated any of the items in the document in many years.

Also the 30th anniversary issue of Call-A.P.P.L.E.. 30 Years. How did it get to this point in time. But that is the legacy that is the Apple II computer. It is now 30 years and still going although we now cover the Mac as well.

And speaking of the Apple ][ or Apple2 as it is known, the retro sites we have re-released this week include our Apple Archives site (, the Beagle Bros site (, and the Willamette Apple Connection site ( These three sites constitute a good portion of information available for the Apple ][ series computers. Also a ton of software and manuals to go with the packages.

So, if you still have a penchant for the Apple ][ computer and liked the IIgs laptop mentioned in my last post, check out these sites and re-live the 1980's like it is still here.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Apple II gs Laptop

Ben Heck's name has become synonymous with great computer hacks. Once again he has hacked a system which no one said could be done. This beautiful machine not only allows the spirit of the machine to come alive but is a one of a kind machine that Ben is auctioning off for charity.

Check it out.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

A Mistake in position on the Olympics

Initially, my thinking about the Olympics was that we should go forth in non-protest, but as things have ratcheted up in the last few weeks with China cracking down on dissenters and on the Tibetans, I have become more and more soft on my stance. While I have never supported protests against the olympics, I am now for moving them all together from China. We could move them some place like Sydney or another city that already has infrastructure to support the games.

Such a move would not only be a wake-up call for the Chinese government but even the mere threat of such a move would hopefully get them moving in the right direction. And if it didnt, we could always set a deadline for them to do it and at the same time have another city prepare for the games.

One may wonder what it is that made me change my stance. In the world of free journalism, there are few of us who are as well known as Wu Lihong. A ecologist who has spear headed China's AIDS campaign and their anti-corruption campaigns is now in Jail for three years for speaking his mind on the Olympics.

While there are many of us who have spoken our minds on it, few if any of us have served time for our thoughts. But now, Wu's wife is having to figure out how to survive in a country where the government doesn't care what happens to a person's family. With 2 Billion people, who can blame them much on this but as one who cares about people, this type of attitude is not only unacceptable but is completely abhorrent.

Which brings me to Tibet. Just because the Chinese government claims something as their own, it does not make it so. I say to the Chinese government: Get a grip dudes! Let the Tibetan people live in peace and quit jailing people for speaking their mind. The deaths of nearly 200 people for protesting something that is frowned upon in all free countries is unacceptable.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The last of the Big Three Sci Fi Writers Dies

In the Science Fiction writing world, there are three writers who wrote books that almost transcended everything. Frank Herbert with his ecological themes, Isaac Asimov with his Generational Government and population themes and last but definitely not least, Arthur C. Clarke with his Scientific themes. Herbert died in 1986, Asimov in April 1996.

Everyone always thought of Clarke as the best of the three because of his scientific knowledge which seemed to go into his stories in a manner which could be easily implemented and believed. But whether you think any one of the three were the best, all of them are now gone and the world is a lessor place because of it.

For this writer and reader, these three writers were a main stay of my library with first editions of each in it. Of course, having read many books outside the main stream by these authors, I can tell you without hesitation that not everything they wrote was great. But the overall package was far greater than the average writer could ever hope to achieve. With careers spanning more then 50 years each, Herbert, Asimov, and Clarke had a style which is lost on today's writers.

In the stories written by the big three, you could always count on the fact that the stories they had written would paint not only a unique world or universe, but also that their characters would be rich, deep and well rounded. No shallow characters for these writers.

And now here we are 22 years after Herbert died and now all three are gone. Lost are the new stories that they would have written. And at 90 years old, Clarke was the longest lived of the three. But you can say that he gave us all of those years in 2001, 2010, 2061, and finally 3001.

For the science fiction world, I guess the challenge now will be to find the next big three that will affect the next generation of readers.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Are terorists targeting the Olympics?

China has announced that it has broken up a terrorist group that was targeting the olympics. The group known as ETIM, while as small as a couple of dozen members, has been all but wiped out by the raid which killed two and left 15 in custody.

While the Chinese are playing up this incident, many are a bit hesitant to agree that it was really terrorism. But based on the history of the Olympics and the fact that is has been a target with the Munich and Atlanta incidents, we have to take this threat seriously.

Unfortunately, the Olympics are the highest profile event there is with more than 150 countries participating in the event. Terrorists see this as a chance to make their impact upon the world, spreading fear. It has not worked out very well in the past but with the damage that 9/11 caused, it is bound to be similar in impact if they are successful.

I for one applaud the amount of effort the Chinese are putting into stopping these idiots. It is high time that the terrorists were stopped and that events like this were respected for the good that they bring to the people of the world.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

New Olympic Facilities in Beijing...and Censorship

The 2008 summer Olympic Games are upon us. Almost. And befitting of the timing, this week, the Chinese government gave tours of the new olympic housing facilities to the media. While spartan by normal standards, I am sure that compared to the normal chinese home that these temporary housing units for the athletes are better than many of those used by every day Chinese.

Running water is the hot item and definitely a must have when you are living in a dormitory type situation and competing on the highest level there is for athletics. But that brings us to the one item which the Chinese are not being so open about.

Internet access and transmissions apparently will be available but will be subject to the same stringent safeguards as the official government line says. What this means is that those athletes who plan on blogging their experiences will find that their words are being scrutinized by people who agenda it is to prevent any dissension among its people.

Free speech which is enjoyed in many countries is not enjoyed by the most populous nation on the earth and will not be enjoyed by any of the athletes coming to beijing this summer. Those who have politically tuned blogs will particularly need to be wary of the censors and would more likely be better off doing a daily journal and posting those to the blog once they leave China.

A more interesting way would be to post to the blog and then when they get home, post the real materials. It will be particularly interesting to find out what the government feels is worthy of their time and efforts. Any one care to take this one on?

Friday, February 29, 2008

The Olympics as a Political Tool

In 1980, my father and a friend of mine were both Olympic hopefuls who were ready to compete for honor and glory for their countries in the biggest and grandest of the athletic stages.

My father was an archer of some renown and had worked for 4 years of his life to become one of the best in the world. I can remember tournaments where the weather was freezing temperatures and sleet and snow and rain and all he did was shoot.

On the same lines, my friend was one of the best discus and shot putters in the world at the time. He had worked all of his young life towards the goal of the olympic games. It was supposed to be his crowning achievement.

Then, some fat assed politicians in Washington D.C. started screaming up and down about politics and decided that we shouldn't support the Russian olympics. All because they were a communist country and didn't agree with our idea of politics and democracy. Then Jimmy Carter decided the US would not be attending the olympic games. All because of politics. We have had olympic games in the middle of the most obnoxious of political situations but the athletes disassociated themselves from it for the most part.

Everyone seems to forget that it is the athletes who are important here, not the b.s. politicians. It is the crowning glory for those athletes who have dedicated their years, blood and sweat to the goal of being crowned olympic champion.

Now the same fat asses in D.C. are at it again. A campaign to get people to turn off the TV because of Burma is under way ( What these people seem to forget once again is that the Olympic Games is not a political game or a political stage. It is an athletic competition. Of course, these are the same folks who would show up and protest at a children's soccer game or baseball game.

In 1980, when Carter cancelled the Olympics for the US team, my father turned pro. He never watched another minute of olympic sports and he voted for Reagan. Why? Well, he said he was fed up with the Olympics being used for everyones political agenda. He was an athlete and now here I am 27 years later looking at the way people play politics with athletes, and nothing has changed.

As for my friend who was the discus thrower, he competed for a few more years before health issues over took his life. As for 1984, he was retired a year or so by then. But neither were interested in their sports on the amateur level due to the politicians.

I remember all these events like they happened yesterday. They had a profound effect on my life and the way I believe. It also led me to believing that you compete where ever you are and you accept those of other faith's countries, religions and you compete in the name of SPORT!

Thus I say to you who would support groups like that one mentioned above; Leave us athletes out of your agenda's. It s really not cool and while we support many of your causes on a personal level, don't make our sports part of those causes as they are not related. We are athletes first and last and friends and fellow competitors, no matter what country we compete for. Just because we are from that country, it does not make us part of the government of the particular country.

Post Script: Don't misunderstand me here, or even bother questioning my patriotism as I am as red-white-and-blue as they come. Since my family has a 400 year history in the US, I am not inclined to listen to nay-sayers. But I am also not a politician and sure as hell don't want a politician telling me who and where, or against whom I can or cannot compete. As an athlete I want to compete against the best, whoever or wherever they are. That is the creed of most athletes I know.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Microsoft getting slammed left and right

Over the past couple of weeks, Microsoft has gotten slammed from both sides of the water on a variety of topics. But is it all warranted?

Over the years, many people have come to hate those up in Redmond, including most of the Apple world. Anytime there is a problem in the online world, it seems that everyone starts pointing at Microsoft or Bill Gates. Well, Bill gates is gone supposedly now and Microsoft is trying to play nice with the open source world that they have long stepped on with every turn of the hat.

Now the European Union has stepped on them with the largest judgement against any company ever. The EU courts has fined Microsoft 889 million for dragging their feet on changes that were mandated by the same court in 2004. Developers in Europe have long suffered at the hands of Microsoft and now the high fees MS charged the developers is coming back to haunt them again.

Also California courts decided this week that a class action suit against Microsoft could proceed. The case which contend thats the Vista Ready label on machines was misleading. Many of the machines so labeled could run no better than the Vista Basic version of the operating system. Since Microsoft dictates what constitutes Vista Ready, they are now a target.

Now with these high profile cases happening, many of the good things that Microsoft does on a daily basis get over looked. And it is no wonder since the cases are extreme and unfortunately warranted, it will take a while before the good things get looked at again.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The fruits of Star Wars

No, I am not talking about that 1977 movie that is the favorite of every one I knew as a junior high school student back then. It is the big budget extravaganza, paid for by all of us American tax payers during the Reagan years. You remember, first called Star Wars, then the Missile Defense Shield and these days, a budget breaker.

Oh but wait, we can salvage part of it by taking chancy pot shots as a derelict satellite. For a mere 60 million dollars, we get to shoot one missile at one satellite. All of course because the fuel on board is toxic and we dont know where its going to land. Thats right folks, we still cant predict where it will land.

That then leads us to the real story, NSA Decides technology on board is risk to National Security. Thats right, the satellite we are talking about is the most advanced, and top secret satellite that the military has ever launched. We surely dont want that landing in the Chinese back yard intact.

(yeah, right! Who are we kidding. By the time the thing went through the atmosphere at 25,000 miles per hour, it would be more useful to a scrap dealer than a technology stealing scientist).

Oh and wait, there is a show stopper. We have the shuttle Atlantis at the international space station and cant risk losing another shuttle. So we better land it first. (DUH!....You think?)

I wonder who writes this stuff for the guys in the press room at NASA these days. it is funnier than Space Balls. And yet, we are paying for this folks. Do they honestly believe that the fuel will not ignite in 60 miles of 25,000 MPH burn out? Get real. Let it drop, quite trying to one up the Chinese, and let the Atronauts at the ISS do their jobs and come home. Number one, quit wasting or tax payer dollars NASA and get on to Mars and the real science.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Are we there yet?

Over the past several days, I have watched endless hours on CNN of people crunching numbers on the US primary elections. While, I don't mind all of the information overload from a statistical knowledge point, it seems to me that a good bit of news is getting severely left out on a daily basis that has just as much bearing on the world as these elections.

Each day, the idea of who is winning seems to change. I can remember just a couple months back when Fred Thompson was the leading man and he wasn't even in the race. Then he started to run and then faltered in spite of announcing his candidacy on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. All the popularity of that show didn't help him one bit and now he is gone.

Then there was another half dozen candidates that dropped out of the races including Rudy Giuliani and Dennis Kucinich, Joe Biden, probably three of the more popular people in the race and then came our Mormon friend, Mitt Romney, whose faith second campaign didn't deal him any better hand. But did you know that in spite of what the national news would have you believe, there actually are still 7 candidates on the trail for the white house.

On the Democratic side, there is Mike Gravel and on the republican side, we have Ron Paul and also Alan Keyes. But like any popularity contest, these minor candidates dont get the money, the coverage or the votes and eventually their names will be dropped from the hat like yesterday's news.

So we are left with A Freshman Senator, a former First Lady and current Senator, A Preacher and former governor, and of course, John McCain. Well, I guess I just let the cat out of the bag who I am endorsing for president. But does it really matter who I endorse? I see the news making waves about who other people are endorsing but then again, they have money machines that I just don't have as a blogger and web master.

And of course, there is the wow factor. When Florida's governor and California's Governor stood up there and announced their picks, everyone tuned in. Hopefully, no one from the main stream media will give my endorsement much more than a passing glance. If not, then we are in a real hurt for news. Which brings me back to where I started before this road trip got a bit long.

The news being reported is not necessarily the news. it is what the people at CNN and the money folks want you to see. It is not that there are blizzards in India, monsoons in Madagascar, problems with Marines raping local girls in Okinawa, or even the storms hitting the US. These stories all seem to magically disappear anytime that there is the least bit of politics involved in a story that runs counter to what the news outlets want to show. I am sure Oprah supporting Obama is important, but then so is the fact that tornados destroyed towns in the US and our young men and women are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I am glad we do place such importance in our choice of leaders in America. But I will be glad when we are there and we start putting the other stories that are important back where they belong.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Iran tests rocket. West reacts.

Iran tested a rocket today, causing severe concerns among western allied countries. While Iran has said that this type of rocket will be used to launch their first home grown satellite Omid (Hope), The US government has sad that the same technology could be used to build long range ballistic missiles and Nuclear capable missiles.

While this is not the first time that Iran has tried to join the big 5 in the space race, it is the first time that they have built up the ballyhoo to go with the launch. Unfortunately for them, their claims of peaceful science surrounding the launch are being met with sever skepticism due to their involvement in the Iraq war. Also Iranian president Ahmadinejad's public displays of hatred for western countries is not helping their cause.

Back in the 1990's everyone knew Iran was working towards satellite launching capabilities as it was widely reported in the media and they had fairly open reporting on the launches. However with this new government, the country has once again gone back to the style that was prevalent during the tenure of Khomeini. I guess the idea of hating America is fashionable again so everyone is jumping on board as quick as they can.

Only time will tell if they are truly developing this technology for peaceful purposes, however, one would not want to see countries suddenly bombed with nukes just because some despot like Ahmanainejad decides he doesnt like ssomething that was said by a government of another country.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Steve Jobs looses $354 Million since Mac World

Acording to a reports in Forbes (, Steve jobs has lost a total of $354 million between his holdings in Apple and Disney. While his salary at Apple is just a single dollar, it is well known that his benefits over the years have been very high market range, including a 90 million dollar jet, shares in the company and other CEO type goodies.

While I dont think anyone is going to cry yet, it is kind of funny to see someone such as Steve Jobs lose more money in a single day than the average company makes in a year in total sales.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Real Space Flight Anyone?

Virgin Galactic has unveiled the latest space ship that will carry passengers to sub-orbital flight. Could it lead further? Richard Branson sure seems to think so in this video

Yahoo Publisher Network...Holier than thou???

Last month, Google had it's latest round of rehashing the Adsense network. So we started to look at other options. One option that recently opened up was Yahoo's service. So we applied. The response we got back was not one that we expected.

Dear William,

Thank you for applying for the Yahoo! Publisher Network beta program. We have reviewed your request and we regret to inform you that you were not accepted into the program. As the program is currently in beta, we are accepting a very limited number of new publishers. We will keep your contact information on file and let you know when we launch to the general public, or if we are able to invite you to join the beta before then. To maximize your chances for approval in the future, please make sure:
You have a valid U.S. Social Security or Tax ID number, and web site content that is predominately in English and targeted at a U.S. user base.
Your site provides a good user experience. Please see our complete list of guidelines for a positive user experience here.
Your site does not contain problematic content. Please see our guidelines for displaying our ad results here.
Thanks again for your interest. We look forward to welcoming you into our program when it is open to the public.


The Yahoo! Publisher Network Team

Now I dont know about you, but if this were my staff putting out letters to customers, I would highly recommend that they dont call the potential customers stupid. But that apparently is foreign to what Yahoo is doing. They not only seem to imply that either we are foreigners (we are all Americans in the company), that we produce web sites that are problematic, or that our web sites do not give the users anything.

Well, being the hot head that I can be when insulted, I immediately fired off a letter back to their corporate staff. I am hoping that I am not alone in this but it seems to me that shooting down the exact people that Yahoo is trying to get as customers is definitely not the best tactic. It appears that they are headed the same route as their failed Auctions site with this one.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Macworld Expo Keynote

One notable item this year from the Macworld Expo keynote was the Internet. The Internet, you might ask? Yes, the Internet. Or in other words how the Internet and a dozen major web sites around the globe were brought to their knee.

Large operations such as Engadget, Macworld, Twitter and a host of others were all useless. I was only able to get a reliable fix from CNET, and I dont even like them but they were they only thing I could get onto.

But now that is is over, you can watch one of the following versions of the keynote. The long one or the short one

For users desiring the long one:

The Macworld 2008 Keynote Speech

For those who dont want to take all day to find out what went on, you can check out this one.

The Macworld 2008 Keynote Speech in 90 seconds!

While the goodies they produced are quite nice, there really was sort of a dead ending to the whole keynote. I was waiting, as were many other people, for the "One more thing" speech that they were going to bring out the real meat of the keynote. But then, that never happened so we were stuck here holding nothing but the Air.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Are we there yet?

It sounds like something your kids might say to you when you are driving the 2000 miles to grandmas house. But this is no trip to Grandmas. After 50 years of the Space Race, we have no men on the moon permanently, no moon base, no mars exploration and certainly no 18 month trip to Jupiter as depicted in the books and movies 2001 and 2010.

It almost makes you want to ask NASA the proverbial question, "Are we there yet?" But of course, now they are pushing plans back due to internal issue and conflicts of interest in plans. To the outside viewer, it looks like a three ring circus. To the media, it is more fodder for the anti-NASA people who want the government agency shut down. And to the space advocate, it is just an absolute disaster.

Originally, we were supposed to have a huge space station in orbit. We have lifted little more than a 3 bedroom apartment. Problems with parts and software keep the shuttles grounded. Losing a shuttle or two also does not help matters. It keeps everyone going in circles. What happened to the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo era "Can Do" type attitude that everyone in the programs had.

In spite of the failures, we still got things up there and managed to go all the way to the moon and back. Today, I doubt we could get a box car halfway down a hill with the way the program is run. Its just that bad. Space is no longer the sought after materials for the school children. In the 1960's and 1970's, if you asked a kid what they wanted to be when they grew up, a good percentage would say Astronaut. Now we cant even get kids interested in the sciences so the percentage of qualified applicants has waned to a point of near disaster.

If nothing is done with NASA to kick them in the seat of the pant, we could lose out on the technological advantage that has driven America for the last 100 years. The Japanese and the Chinese are now the ones pursuing the moon and doing very well with it I might add. We need to get the "Go fever" back and take the chances. Take the risks and get the people there and back.

Whoever becomes the next vice president will have a hard job of putting some pride back in the program at NASA and if he or she cant get the President on board, it will be an absolute that NASA will no longer exist as we know it within 10 years.

The Human Side of Sports Hoopla

Over the past several years, many who have watched the game for professional football have come to either hate or love Terrell Owens of the Dallas Cowboys. They have written about him in the media, announced things about him in the news programs and even had long discussions on programs that banter about the sports items of the day. The one thing no one had said about the man was that he was human. Until Now.

Today, after the Dallas Cowboys lost their game to the New York Giants, a blubbering and sniffling Terrell Owens defended not only his quarterback, Tony Romo, but also mentioned the word team in almost the same sentence. While this would not be news with anyone else just about, it is note worthy because Terrell has been criticized for not being a team player.

His whole battle with the Philadelphia Eagles players and management as well as his antics when he was in San Francisco made him the dorr mat for every sports talk show host in America. Everyone loved to hate him and blamed all of the problems the teams were having on him.

Today he had 4 catches for 49 yards and a touchdown, yet was unable to show everyone that he was the man and the reason they were winning. And as he said in the post game interviews, "we lost as a team." I almost dare anyone to say something bad about him tomorrow as they will be barking up a tree which will have very few branches of followers after the display by T.O. today.

I think T.O. showed what it is about the sport that all who play and watch it love. There is the good times when you win as a team and everyone looks like they could be on the level of God himself, and then there are the times where you lose and look for answers. Today, I think the answers weren't what mattered. It was the fact that a man who has been accused of being one of the most selfish men on the planet showed not only humility, compassion, and a sense of team but also that he showed us that he isnt superman and might actually be classified as human.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Our Fascination with the Celebrities

Over the past five years, I have had to endure absolutely pointless news broadcasts concerning the lives of celebrities. CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, and especially FOX all are guilty of broadcasting these pointless stories of the fall from grace of people like OJ Simpson and Britney Spears.

Things like Dar fur and Iraq, Lebanon, Burma, and Afghanistan have all taken a back seat to this stories that serve no purpose other than to further help destroy a life that needs no help in being destroyed in the first place. Just look particularly at the downfall of Britney.

Of course, the news companies believe tht their main audiences are bored house wives who have nothing better to do than watch this garbage. While the stories do gain some eyeballs, it does nothing for the average highly intellectual person who want to sit down and relax after a day of work and get a bit of news. Or maybe I am wxing nostalgic to the lost era of the 1950's to 1970's.

But we continue on. While I don't think celebrities deserve special treatment, you have to wonder where we draw the line. When does a situation become a Lady Di situation in which people are hurt, maimed or even killed. The over zealousness of the paparazzi is well known. And while this was only driven in the past by tabloid papers which most people didn't read, we are now forced to watch it as part of our evening news casts.

What would Walter Cronkite, Ed Bradley or Edwin Murrow have done? I dont think that for a minute that they would have even considered announcing anything like this. They would have laughed and said "find me a real story". CNN even fired announcer Aaron Brown, a well respected news caster for not being dramatic enough last year. Now his replacement, Anderson Cooper, does nothing but spend way too much time on these garbage stories. Their new statement is that they do "Distinctive Reporting" but the only thing distinctive is the self serving crap that these stations are putting out as "News".

And so I say to these big news companies. Get the garbage stories off the news and give us the real stories. Start focusing on the things that really matter and the stories that are worthy of our time.

Friday, January 11, 2008

The new face of advertising on the Internet

Over the years, there have been fads come and go in Internet advertising. Each generation of the web seems to have its own methodology associated with it. The latest methodologies have been floatin ads, ads that open on mouse over, complete page ads and then load the site, or even peel back ads. But none of these methodologies allowed the web site owner to make sure that all customers saw the ad. I have personally used both Amazon and Google Adsense for ads on my sites.

That has now changed with audio ads or Pay per Play as it is known The audio ads play for 5 seconds and then are gone. But the nice thing is that the web site owner gets paid for each ad rather thn having to count on click throughs for the ad. It plays on site loading as you heard when you loaded this page. I am assuming that the blank air is because their service will not start officially until 1 February 2008.

Will this be the next fad in advertising or will this just be another passing fancy. One can only wonder but from what I have seen so far, I like the idea. Of course there are the purists out there who will argue that the web site should not force the ads onto their users. The nice thing about this is that the ad will not take over the page, only plays for 5 seconds and then is gone forever. No bulky ads that keep popping open or that obscure the page.

We will just have to see if the ads pay enough to actually be worth the time and the effort or whether it will be another lame attempt to monetize the web. (Hopefully it will be the former).

URLS Listed in this article

Pay Per Play (
Google Ad Sense (