Dan Appleman: Kibitzing and Commentary

My personal blog

A High Tech Thanksgiving

At our thanksgiving celebration we go around and everyone attending says something they are thankful for. In this pre-holiday shopping season, where we tend to get very excited about the latest high-tech toy, it occurred to me to take a moment and note a number of technological marvels that I personally am thankful for. No hype here – these are the things I use every day.

  • Google
    My main search engine and fount of all wisdom, it’s a rare technical problem for which I can’t find some guidance by following it’s paths.
  • Amazon.com
    More than a store, it helps me find new books and music, and provides a first pass at market pricing. Plus, it’s a great place for me to sell my own eBooks.
  • Yahoo Calender
    I don’t like PDA’s (yeah, old fashioned, but it’s just another thing to carry around, keep charged, and worry about losing). Yahoo’s online calender has all the features I need, is available everywhere, and is free if you have SBC DSL.
  • Boston Acoustics & Plasma Displays
    A great display and a fine set of speakers makes a home theatre shine. All the plasmas look great (mine happens to be Toshiba), but I hunted for months before settling on Boston Acoustics Micro 100x speakers.
  • Wacky Voice Alarm Clock
    You’d think I’d have gotten tired of this one, but it still works. Annoying enough to get me up when I must, funny enough so I haven’t (yet) taken a sledge hammer to it.
  • Tivo
    Once you start using a DVR, you can never go back.

More suggestions are welcome. Meanwhile, I wish you all a very succesful pre-holiday shopping season. May you always find an open parking space at the mall. May that gift you just have to get always be on sale.

The Joys of Comment Spam

When I set up this blog, one of the key factors in choosing the software was that it supports moderation of comments. I’d seen other blogs flooded with comment spam (much of it obscene) and did not want to be put in the position of having to constantly check for and delete spam comments. This turned out to be a wise choice.

What has fascinated me recently is the cleverness of spammers trying to get their message posted. The vast majority of spam attempts seem to consist of very witty comments that are almost relevant to the original message. In many cases they consist of famous quotes where the only indication that they are spam is that the “relevant” links within the quote point to an online poker or porn site. I suspect these posts are designed primarily to get by automatic filters, and I expect they meet some success in that.

Today I received one that was clever enough for me to want to share:

A reading from the Book of Armaments, Chapter 4, Verses 16 to 20:

Then did he raise on high the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, saying, Bless this, O Lord, that with it thou mayst blow thine enemies to tiny bits, in thy mercy. And the people did rejoice and did feast upon the lambs and toads and tree-sloths and fruit-bats and orangutans and breakfast cereals … Now did the Lord say, First thou pullest the Holy Pin. Then thou must count to three. Three shall be the number of the counting and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither shalt thou count two, excepting that thou then proceedeth to three. Five is right out. Once the number three, being the number of the counting, be reached, then lobbest thou the Holy Hand Grenade in the direction of thine foe, who, being naughty in my sight, shall snuff it.

Monty Python, Monty Python and the Holy Grail

What this has to do with refinancing mortgages I can’t tell you, and which mortgage refinancer posted this I won’t post here, but if you really want to know drop me a note. Any company choosing that quote deserves to succeed.

VB .NET or C# – The Rematch

I’m pleased to announce the publication of my latest eBook “Visual Basic .NET or C#: Which to Choose (VS 2005 edition).” Based on VS 2005 (Whidbey) beta 1, it is a major rewrite/revision of the previous VS 2003 title, based not only on changes to the two languages, but on the evolution of .NET in general.

Available from Desaware, Amazon.com and Lockergnome

Four more years – What you can do now

My condolences to the Democrats among us, who are in a state of shock wondering how Bush could have won.

My condolences to Republicans among us as well – of all the Republicans out there, you get to have Bush represent your party (at least we in California have Schwarzenegger).

Anyway, we have a pretty good idea of what to expect. Business as usual in Iraq, an increasing national debt, a degraded environment, increased challenges to civil liberties and a preference for corporations over individual rights. There’s no reason to expect much change on this score.

You may be wondering what you can do about it. Sorry, you can’t all move to Canada or New Zealand.

And you can’t do much about Iraq or the deficit.

But if you’re concerned about freedom and civil liberties, there are two things you can do right now that will make a difference. Doesn’t matter if you’re a Democrat or Republican, just that you care about freedom (the first, and most important of American values).

Join the American Civil Liberties Union. www.aclu.org

Join the Electronic Frontier Foundation. www.eff.org

You’ve got nothing better to do for the next 2 years until campaign 2008 starts, and you can make a difference. Spread the word.