Sunday, April 30, 2006

Tech Support: Life on the Other End of the Line

Death threats, PCs hurled out windows, squeals of joy--tech support pros see it all: "Do you hate calling tech support? Guess what--it's no picnic for the people on the other end of the line either. Tech support reps say their job description includes occasional death threats, tedium, possible hemorrhoids, low pay, and sporadic moments of job satisfaction."
Whoops! Google just made some cash...

Ever mis-type a Web address? Say Whoops -- up comes an ad-filled site. And Google makes cash if you click/use the site you end up on. It's something I've always wondered about -- and it seems many folks are trying to make serious cash on your mistakes. Read more.

"The Washington Post found hundreds of active Web sites showing Google ads at addresses that appear to be misspelled variations of well-known company names, known as "typo-domains." Their owners are known as typosquatters."

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Dial-up Net Access: In Death Throes?

With phone companies well aware that cable companies are eating their lunch when it comes to high speed Internet access, the price of DSL has gone wayy down in recent months. How low? In some markets, you can get a nice DSL connection for less than the cost of dialup -- some are getting it for $18 a month or even less.

So is it any surprise that telco's are doing their best to wean all of us off slow, lame dial-up Net connections? Not that I agree with this -- pretty underhanded if you ask me.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Crazy Planes

Get ready to see some of the biggest, heaviest planes ever made: "A concept aircraft currently under development at Boeing’s Phantom Works Research and Development unit might be the largest airplane to ever fly, but it won’t set any altitude records. Its called the Pelican and it would have a normal cruising altitude of only twenty feet because it uses the concept of ground effect to achieve lift. Performance specifications say this ground effect vehicle (GEV) will have a wingspan of 150 meters and be able to carry up to 1,400 tons of cargo."

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Email Chain: Stay Awake In Meetings

Just came into my Inbox... Worth a try:

Do you keep falling asleep in meetings and seminars? What about those long and boring conference calls? Here's a way to change all of that.

1. Before (or during) the next meeting, seminar, or conference call, prepare yourself by drawing a square. I find that 5" x 5" is a good size. Divide the card into columns-five across and five down. That will give you 25 one-inch blocks.

2. Write one of the following words/phrases in each block:Synergy, strategic fit, core competencies, best practice, bottom line, revisit, expeditious, to tell you the truth (or "the truth is), 24/7, out of the loop, benchmark, value-added, proactive, win-win, think outside the box, fast track, result-driven, knowledge base, at the end of the day, touch base, mindset, client focus(ed), paradigm, game plan, leverage.

3. Now check off the appropriate block when you hear one of those words/phrases.

4. When you get five blocks horizontally, vertically, or diagonally stand up and shout "BULLS%$!T!"

"Real Testimonials" from satisfied players, after the jump...

"I had been in the meeting for only five minutes when I won." - Adam W., Atlanta

"The atmosphere was tense in the last process meeting as 14 of us waited for the fifth box." - Ben G., Denver
True Story: Humpback Says 'Thanks'

"If you read the front page story of the SF Chronicle on Thursday, Dec 14, 2005, you would have read about a female humpback whale who had become entangled in a spider web of crab traps and lines. She was weighted down by hundreds of pounds of traps that caused her to struggle to stay afloat. She also had hundreds of yards of line rope wrapped around her body, her tail, her torso and a line in her mouth."

"A fisherman spotted her just east of the Farralone Islands (outside the Golden Gate) and radioed an environmental group for help. Within a few hours, the rescue team arrived and determined that she was so badly off that they must act immediately. The only way to save her was to dive in and untangle her, a very dangerous proposition. Just one slap of the tail could kill a rescuer."

"They worked for hours with curved knives and eventually she was freed. When she was free, the divers say she swam in what seemed like joyous circles. She then came back to each and every diver, one at a time, and nudged them, pushed them gently around, she was thanking them. Some said it was the most incredibly beautiful experience of their lives. The guy who cut the rope out of her mouth says her eyes were following him the whole time, and he will never be the same."

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Tired of Internet Explorer? So is John...

John C. Dvorak: "I think it can now be safely said, in hindsight, that Microsoft's entry into the browser business and its subsequent linking of the browser into the Windows operating system looks to be the worst decision—and perhaps the biggest, most costly gaffe—the company ever made. I call it the Great Microsoft Blunder."

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Carver: The "Car" of the Future

Bandaid: So it sticks all day!

No-Brainer: 1GB Free Backup Space

Now you and I have zero excuses for not backing up our stuff. Shame, really. ;) Sign up for a free 1,000MB (1GB) spot to upload your files.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Free Daily Cartoons via iTunes

"If we could have a crush on a podcast, we would be totally crushing out right now all over the recently launched ReFrederator (click to subscribe via iTunes), which puts out a classic cartoon every single day. Some of them star the likes of Bugs Bunny, Mighty Mouse, Daffy Duck, Betty Boop, Porky Pig, Donald Duck and Felix the Cat--ah, the beauty of things returning to the public domain--and others feature fairy tales and musicals." -- Gizmodo
"Shock Me Sometime!"

That's right... Forget ringtones and vibration--here comes the shock treatment to let you know that someone is calling. Best of all: "Power levels and frequencies can be adjusted, allowing the owner to give a sort of 'personal ring' to an individual caller." Imagine the possibilities.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Biggest... Laptop... Ever...

So what can you buy for $4,000, with a pair of insane graphics cards inside and a large (did we mention big? huge?) 19 inch display? It's the Eurocom M590K Emperor, and you gotta see it to believe it.
Flash Mob: XBox Ad

No doubt you've heard of flash mobs... right? No? Basically, one person emails a slew of others, asking them to show up at a certain spot on a certain day at a specific time, along with instructions on what to do. Here's the first video I've found of a flash mob in action, re-enacting a banned XBox commercial. Watch the guy in the orange cap, and enjoy.
Awesome Rainbow Pictures

Just when you thought you'd seen them all -- here are some of the most amazing rainbow pictures I've ever seen. Including what the end of a rainbow looks like close up! (Did they find gold? Check it!) Be sure to scroll down to look at them all. Have a great weekend...

Thursday, April 20, 2006

New: Tall Building Escape System

Next time you're in a high-rise, see if they have one of these (video) available. Might just save your life!
Take a Flying Leap

Life have you ready to jump off a cliff? Now you can, vicariously. ;)
You: Cutthroat or Pussycat?

Take's Machiavelli personality test and find out. "This survey itself measures only one thing -- whether you subscribe to the ideas of a 16th century Italian political philosopher. But experiments have shown that reactions to Machiavelli act as a kind of litmus test, delineating differences in temperament that can be confirmed with more traditional personality inventories. High Machs constitute a distinct type: charming, confident and glib, but also arrogant, calculating and cynical, prone to manipulate and exploit. (Think Rupert Murdoch, or if your politics permit it, President Clinton.) "

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

A Scanner Darkly

Another Reaves movie, looks freaky. Definitely will see this one.
Religion in the United States

How many Presbyterians are there in Alaska? Answer: More than you think. This site contains a growing set of U.S. maps with overlays showing where members of more than a dozen religious denominations reside. Fascinating.

What's up with so few Catholics living in the South? Wait, I think I know why. And here's one I could have drawn without going to the site.

Here's a tight overview combining all the data.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

How Web Surfers Read Web Pages

For years we've been told that most Web surfers read webpages in a reverse 6 pattern. That is, their eye starts near the center, tracks down and back to the top. Well, looks like we were wrong -- think F for "fast" web surfing/content scanning. Check out these heat scans of eye movement across web sites.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Evolution Timeline

Flash can be used to do so many cool things. This evolution timeline is an amazing example - click on the image to start your journey.

Once the file loads, click and hold down on the small red triangle on the lower left, and start dragging it to the right.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Spongeback Mountain

Ok, we've had Brokeback to the Future and Star Wars Brokeback. Now it's time for... Spongebob? LOL for the weekend is here!

Friday, April 14, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth: Trailer

And now for something completely... serious.

Official Movie Website
Big Brother is Listening

Here's your creepy story of the week: "AT&T engineer: NSA built secret rooms in our facilities." Read it and be afraid: "...this room contained (among other things) a [traffic analyzer] into which all of AT&T's Internet and phone traffic was routed... In addition to AT&T's own traffic, [a techie with AT&T] alleges that the company also routed its peering links into the splitter, meaning that any traffic that passed through AT&T's own network could be scanned. Futhermore, San Francisco wasn't the only place such secret rooms were built; [he] claims that AT&T offices in Seattle, San Jose, Los Angeles, and San Diego also have them." More in-depth NSA tapping information can be found at The Atlantic Online.
Outsourcing Saves Less Than Claimed

One more reason U.S. companies should do their homework before sending American jobs overseas: "(Reuters) Outsourcing of information technology and business services delivers average cost savings of 15 percent, a survey found on Thursday, disproving market claims that outsourcing can reduce costs by over 60 percent. After professional fees, severance pay and governance costs, savings range between 10 percent and 39 percent, with the average level at 15 percent."
TiVo Victorious

Anyone who's been to my home knows that our TiVo is the centerpiece of our entertainment center. Deb loves it, I love it, and William hasn't known TV without one. (For some reason, he really doesn't like it when we're not around to skip the ads. Seems he wants to watch shows and not ads. Interesting.)

Over the past year or two, I've been a little scared about the future viability of TiVo. Most major cable monopolies have offered cheap knock-offs to undercut this flashy startup, and seem to have copied many of the best parts of the TiVo service without any legal ramifications. Until now -- this article has two big things in it that give me joy -- TiVo and victorious used in the headline, plus TiVo someday reaping some financial gain, which I'm sure it really, really needs. Gratz TiVo!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Bill Gates Goes to College

Forget Viruses: Hello Rootkits & "Malware"

We all know the dangers of viruses -- those pestky bits of computer code that can be embedded in email attachments and even pictures that, when run, can do all kinds of crazy things/damage to your computer. In recent years, adware and spyware have had their day, degrading our computer performance and tracking our every movement online.

And while the good news is that most people are running virus checkers (dump anything you run that costs any cash, and get/install/scan with AVG Free Edition from GriSoft) and adware/spyware removers (AdAware Personal kills 'em dead, and is also free) -- there's a new threat plaguing Netizens: Rootkits and Malware.

First, rootkits. The first time I heard this term was a few months back listening to the TWIT (This Week In Tech) podcast. You can listen to the episode here. Leo and his roundtable of pals were soundly kicking in Sony/BMG's head for embedding a rootkit in their audio CDs. Basically, a customer purchases the new Celion Dion music CD, puts it into the computer to listen/rip to MP3s, and upon insertion the CD installs a program in the very root of your computer's operating system which disables copying.

So big deal you say -- Sony should be able to protect their intellectual property, right? Sure, however, Sony's rootkit was just that -- something that latched onto the root of a computer and gave a back door to hackers to exploit. Now cybercriminals could send out new code that could detect and make use of the Sony rootkit to damage computers. Worst of all, Sony originally made it impossible for virus software to detect the kit and remove it. Thus the perfect storm of criticism.

The lawsuit and resulting settlement resulted in more press stories/online coverage than you could shake a stick at. This also fed the fire of the hackers, who now saw rootkits as the core for their next generation of invasive software. Forget viruses/adware which could be detected and removed with up-to-date programs like the ones I mentioned above -- rootkits can hide in your PC's core and do their misdeeds unobstructed.

On top of that, we have another new techie term to learn -- Malware. Consider this the 2006 way of saying virus, adware, trojan horse, you name it. As Microsoft puts is, "Malware is short for malicious software and is typically used as a catch-all term to refer to any software designed to cause damage to a single computer, server, or computer network, whether it's a virus, spyware, et al."

Malware has, in my mind, become even more pervasive and dangerous in recent months. If you've ever tried to launch a server on the Net, you're feeling my pain. Within a few minutes of any new server going live, thousands upon thousands of queries hit every port on the machine, automatically checking for openings and vulnerabilites. Of course, a few are always found -- unless you're a Nazi about security and lock the machine down. And once the openings are... open... your server will be malfunctioning faster than you can say "No way!"

So what can you do about these new developments? First, download and install AVG and Adaware using the links above. Check for updates, then run a scan at least once a week using both tools. You'll have 99% of the viruses and adware kicked from your machine.

For rootkits, a few new tools have emerged to help. Most are still in beta (testing prior to release), but are all we have to find and root out the rootkits. Download, install, and run these tools as well once a week to keep on top of things:

Windows Defender
Rootkit & Malware Removal: Microsoft
SpyBoy Search and Destroy

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Landing Planes in Crosswinds

Stumbled across these videos a few weeks back, thought anyone who flies/has flown/will fly might find them interesting. See how pilots bring in heavies under crosswind conditions. Woah.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Peak Oil & The Future

Want to get scared? Really, really scared? I came across this site late last night, and can't get it out of my head. Read it all here, intro:

"Civilization as we know it is coming to an end soon. This is not the wacky proclamation of a doomsday cult, apocalypse bible prophecy sect, or conspiracy theory society. Rather, it is the scientific conclusion of the best paid, most widely-respected geologists, physicists, and investment bankers in the world. These are rational, professional, conservative individuals who are absolutely terrified by a phenomenon known as global Peak Oil."
Prius: 94 MPG? Woah!

The next Toyota Prius will offer an astonishing 94 mpg (U.S.), according to a report in the U.K.’s AutoExpress magazine. Take that greedy oil companies!

Monday, April 10, 2006

VW: Unpimpin' Da Rides

Love these ads -- perfect test of seeing if I can shorehorn them into my blog. Here goes nothing -- enjoy!

William Rides Solo

One day, my son needs me -- hold him steady, give him that push, and off he goes on his two-wheeler -- "thanks Dad! Weeee!"

Less than 24 hours later, he recovers from a fall, hops on... pushes off, steadies himself on his pedals, and goes like mad... without any help. Balanced like a champ!

Next month, college? This is one proud poppa! Go Will go! :) Here's a larger version of the animated GIF I made. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Some Things You Never Forget how to ride a bicycle. Today, I had the incredible joy of suiting up Will (he's 4 now) with arm pads, knee braces, kid gloves (literally) and his usual helmet, and proceeded to remove the training wheels from his little bike.

"Daddy, I want the training wheels off!" he said last week. "Like Alan and Jay - they don't use them."

A few minutes later, we were across the street in the cul de sac, and he was making it straight across, from driveway to driveway, after 2-3 initial tries - with no serious falls. ;)

It's hard to describe the feeling - Will is growing up too fast for his daddy!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Make Your Own Comic Strip

Like any good Kinyon household (yea, our last name is McLain, but those in the know will agree with me when I say that the Kinyon genes from your spouse dominate all), we love to read the comics in the paper daily. And there comes a time when everyone thinks, "Hey, I could make those!"

So go ahead, make your own comic here!
Marketing & Design Resources: One Big Page

There's PDFs about marketing/barnding, links to portfolios, ad agencies, clip art, web tools, blogs and tons of other stuff all on one nice page. Check it out, if you're so inclined.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Locking Down Your Home Network

Hands-on advice for anyone with a high-speed (DSL or Cable Modem) Internet connection. "Ever delve inside your home network routers and use the hidden security settings that can lock down a network nice and tight? Most people never do. Andy Walker reveals 10 secrets on how to easily access your router's security settings."

Security Secrets Article Daze

I mentioned my time at yesterday -- and then stumbled on this old link buried in my Favorites.

Take a trip, won't you, back to 2000 and the formation of The Education Network:, thanks to my old boss, Jay Bryant (his blog is here).

Photos by Jay from his days at

Note the first pic of a glass wall being used to hold some pretty cool buzzwords -- you'll find this in most .edu .com startups from the period. Keep moving till you see my empty desk, then on and on into the circus.
First Time Homebuyers

I was debating about whether or not to blog about this today, but darn it, someone sent me something that forced my hand. Feedback email chains, I love ya.

My wife and I have had our house on the market for three weeks. We've had lots of great folks in to take a peek. We've had exactly zero helpful comments come back -- none. Zip.

Not that we're expecting anything out of our potential buyers.

Or wait, are we?

Here's the gem that came in over my lunch break that made me write today's post: "THE HOME IS VERY NICE BUT IT IS VERY PERSONALIZED WITH THE CHILDRENS THEME... BUYER FELT THAT WOULD BE A BIG TASK TO CHANGE.. HAYWOOD"

So lemme get this right.

This house has like eight rooms. We've repainted all of them. All are in generally neutral tones. Except my son William's room, which is the smallest bedroom in the house. Like 10 X 10 or so. Took us exactly 10 hours over two days to paint it.

And now some lazy, prolly first-time homebuyer says a few hours of work would be a "big task" to change?

Kids, if you're gonna buy a home, you're going to want to do some stuff to it. And yea, it takes a little work. Surprised? I hope not.

Curious about the other feedback we've gotten? Ok, the number one thing -- I can't make this up -- is that they were surprised that the house was small. That they couldn't cram 2, 3, even 4 kids into it.

Huh? Read the listing folks, THEN come on over! Otherwise, the fact that the house has 3 bedrooms and 3 full baths might escape your eagle-eyes if you were hoping for... what, 4? 5? For our low, low price? ;) Shrug.

Anyhoo, wish us luck. Lots coming through this weekend!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

"Art of the Start"

Ok, I admit it. I used to be a Mac-aholic. An Apple Macintosh lover to the extreme.

A little background. Somewhere deep inside, I have the need to solve other people's technology problems. I got paid to write books to teach others how to make good use of technology in their lives.

So when I was introducted to my first Mac, I made it my mission to convert the brainwashed masses *cough* Windows *cough* to Apple. It's a better machine, I told everyone, sooo much better/easier. You'd be a fool not to rush right out and buy one. (Of course, I was cured of my Apple Fever a few years ago, but that's another post.)

Anyhoo, I made a few converts along the way, and at some point tripped over the name Guy Kawasaki. Big time Apple evangelist, paid to spread the Mac love full-time. I mean, how cool would that be? To fall madly in love with a technology company and then get paid to infect them with the virus of your vision -- that a Mac could make you both much cooler, and much more productive?

I read a few of his books, and recently picked up his new "The Art of the Start" for a song on eBay. This is, of course, a funny, insightful read -- just what you'd expect from Guy.

But a passage on page 36 had me laughing so hard I had to drop the book to catch a breath!

Keep this in mind -- on Y2K my wife and I moved to NC from Silicon Valley so I could start a new job with a company called Here's the passage that made me LOL, from the chapter entitled "The Art of Positioning":

"AVOID THE TRENDY. With hindsight, we made two mistakes naming Garage Technology Ventures when we started it in 1997. First, we initially called the company "" Unfortunately, dot-com acquired negative connotations when the Internet tide went out because it came to stand for companies run by people with business acumen in markets without business models."

Dead on Guy! There's more...

"The second mistake was lowercasing the "g" in It was a silly act of pseudohumility, but those were silly times. The problem with lowercase "g" was that it was hard to pick out in blocks of text. The visual cue that the word was a proper noun wasn't there--you'd think that someone named guy (sic) would know this. Also, no one could really figure out what to do when a sentence started with "" -- should it be capitalized or not?"

"The bottom line, in hindsight, is that you should come up with a name that will endure for decades, and save your cleverness for the features of your products and services."

Amen Guy! (See? what do I do there?) was rife with outbursts from fellow content authors, wondering what to do with that ever-lowercase-b. Eventually, about a year into the company, the bosses decided we should cap it when we start a sentence -- but honestly, I do what I always do in weird situations involving text/grammar I don't fully understand: I rewrote the text so always appears somewhere inside of the sentence.

Problem solved!

And that, my readers, whomever you are, is today's trip into Tim's sordid .com past. ;)
"Red vs. Blue" Web Episodes

Take some guys with way too much time on their hands, some digital video and audio equipment, funny writing/scripts, and a copy of Halo, and what do you get? Why, Red vs. Blue of course. Download the videos and prepare to enjoy some really creative gamer-focused laughs. Fun for the whole family!

Check it:
Really Good Clip Art & Photos

I remember the first time I was asked to make a PowerPoint presentation. The clip art Microsoft used to give you was really, really bad.

Thankfully, the entire clip art piece of Office has been moved online, and they've spent a good deal of time (and cash no doubt) to beef up this important part of Office.

Check it:
Microsoft Office Clip Art Collection