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Showing posts from September, 2007

Education and business

I find it entertaining that people worldwide think they have the right to discredit Americans and make fun of them. If you are not American, you do NOT have this right. However, since I'm an American, I'm allowed to make fun of my own people and nation as a whole.

It is pretty well known that education in America, as a whole, stinks. This video is well worth watching because I believe it paints a pretty accurate picture of the state of the nation:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pfRUMmTs0ZA

The video is from a show called 20/20 and it is over a year old but please return when you finish watching.

I was brought up in a family that cared deeply about proper education. I had learned to speed read by the time I entered school. I also remember at least four different forms of corporal punishment used on my behind/legs as a child. Boy grandma sure loved finding that freshly-cut switch. But it made me into a fine, upstandin', law-abidin' citizen who cares about the world around us…

Standards documentation is annoying...

Don't get me wrong, having Standards is a great idea. Being able to clearly communicate how something works is essential to daily life. If we, for instance, did not have the HTTP RFC Standards, you probably wouldn't be able to read this blog entry because every single web server would deploy their own idea of what a website is and there would be no single web browser to handle every single web server. (Or if there was, it would be a couple hundred gigabytes).

No. What irks me is the fact that very few Standards authors actually sit down and write binary data examples. That is, "Here is some sample data" and "here is how to read the sample data" and "here is some basic source code that reads and processes the data". While Standards should be about specification, of which they do a great job already, they should also be able to present an implementation or at least an example that could actually happen.

This is where Standards bodies and a community d…

Setting up a wireless network

Edit (July 12, 2010): Ruh-roh! This blog post was declared Dead on Arrival. Read the story on how my "secure" WPA-PSK wireless network got hacked before setting up your wireless network. My personal recommendation is to NOT use a wireless access point unless you do some real hard thinking and research.

Occasionally I will receive a request for help on wireless networking. Usually the person was scared by someone when they were told, "Wireless networking is insecure. Your personal computer data is at risk." The first question they ask me is, "Is my setup secure?" Well, I'm not a mind reader and usually not in front of the computer, but usually those same users are surprised even to know that they can log into the router.

Okay, so the first thing I have to do is explain what a router is. In layman's terms: A router is something that takes data from computers on a LAN and sends it out on to the big bad Internet. When a response comes back, it is re…

Cleaning a LCD display...

It is interesting to note that many people don't really know how to clean things. This is especially true when it comes to electronic components. In particular, cleaning monitors on computer systems is a widely varied practice and no one seems to have a definitive answer on what the best method is. We pay a lot of money for our LCD flat-panel displays and then spray harsh chemicals on them that causes the display to go murky...where is the logic in that?

Some people might say that the safest chemical is water. However, is fluoride, found in most city water, really good for the plastic film on a LCD display? Probably not. How about all those minerals and "floaties"? Also, probably not good. Fluoride is for strengthening tooth enamel and the minerals probably contain corrosives. And water doesn't mix well with electricity and the delicate circuitry in the monitor.

Other people mention really harsh chemicals and household items as the solution to cleaning LCD dis…

The new PayPal buttons...

...are the ugliest things I've ever seen. The people PayPal has employed are clearly not graphics artists. And also don't have the web developer in mind.

About a couple weeks ago every business customer received a "teaser" e-mail from PayPal saying to get ready for new logos and buttons for use on websites. Mentally, I thought, "Sweet! Maybe they won't stink like the current ones." Today, PayPal sent every business customer an e-mail saying the logos and buttons were ready for use on websites and sent us all to their website via a link.

I clicked the link and, lo and behold, awful-looking images stared me in the face that are worse than the old ones (but that isn't saying much). The image above is the worst of the lot, but they are all pretty bad. Let me name off my reasons:

1) Every last image is a GIF image. Which makes the gradient look awful, severely limiting color choice, and offers extremely limited transparency options. PNG - enough s…