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Oct 30 2006
The [United State’s] freedoms are under assault by an administration whose policies can do us as much damage as Al-Qaeda; the nation’s “marketplace of ideas” is being poisoned, by a propaganda company so blatant that Tokyo Rose would’ve quit.
Nonetheless… the headline is this: Bill Clinton did what almost none of us have done, in five years. He has spoken the truth about 9/11, and the current presidential administration.
- The Bush Administration did not try to get Osama Bin Laden before 9/11.
- The Bush Administration ignored all the evidence gathered by its predecessors.
- The Bush Administration did not understand the Daily Briefing entitled “Bin Laden Determined To Strike in U.S.“
- The Bush Administration… did…not…try.
Moreover, for the last five years one month and two weeks, the current administration, and in particular the President, has been given the greatest “pass” for incompetence and malfeasance, in American history!
To hear [Bush] bleat and whine and bully at nearly every opportunity, one would think someone else had been President on September 11th, 2001 — or the nearly eight months that preceded it. That hardly reflects the honesty nor manliness we expect of the Executive.
I also find Olbermann’s commentary on the Katrina fiasco last year refreshing:
Oct 24 2006
The new Firefox release is great, especially the built in and seamlessly integrated spell checker, this should dramatically improve all those poorly spelled posts and web pages we see everywhere. The new glass theme and highlighting is an improvement (in my opinion) and new built in Phishing tools are also a positive development. Other noteworthy features include session saver, and suggestions in the search box. To test this release with regards to the ill-fated memory leak I loaded up a page of 20 or so animated GIFs which previous versions would choke on and die a painful death, the page still saw a large increase in page-file usage and some slow down but after browsing away from the page it all disappeared and I didn’t have to restart the browser.
A couple of things I don’t like, or maybe I am just not used to, are the changes to tabs. The changes give a fixed minimum width and a horizontal scrollable toolbar when the number of tabs exceed the screen width and also a “Close” icon on each tab. So I thought it would be helpful to state here how to change the tabs back to “the old style” ( i.e. FF 1.x):
Remove Close Button
To remove the close button from each tab and instead place one button in the top right, in the about:config file change browser.tabs.closeButtons to “3”
(For more details see: http://kb.mozillazine.org/Browser.tabs.closeButtons ).
Fit More Tabs on the Page
To do this you have to reduce the minimum width of tabs. Once again, using the about:config file change browser.tabs.tabMinWidth to a value of your choice. The changes will not be apparent until you restart Firefox.
For the complete run down visit: Mozillazine
Oct 24 2006
Threadless is having another $10 sale on all their t-shirts, but it only lasts another day or so, so be quick.
Other notable online t-shirt retailers:
Oct 21 2006
I follow the inner workings of Google frequently through the excellent blogs “Google Blogoscoped” and ” InsideGoogle “. I get excited when new google products are announced, when upgrades are implemented and generally every time Google makes my Internet life a little easier. A Gmail and Reader tab lie open continually, I use Google ad products to promote and earn from, I use google bookmarks, search history, personalized homepage, calendar, groups and obviously search. I am sure I have at least dabbled with most other releases also. So I sing my praises where I can, indeed I spent a half hour session with my last boss showing him all the ins and outs of Gmail and all those subtle little features you need someone to showcase.
But then again not everything is perfect in the increasingly large and amorphous world of the GOOG. In general, the spate of recent releases and acquisitions over the last year or so has left Google with an assortment of great and good products that need more dedicated development time and overall integration with other services to become truly useful. It has become increasingly difficult to find or even remember that Google has a suitable method for dealing with a certain enquiry. Google’s aim is to organise and make available the world’s information — I fail to see how this can be achieved when their own development procedure and release methodologies lead towards an increasingly difficult plane to circumnavigate. It is a white-walled maze -
For all is clean and clear but hidden behind a thousand doors.
The faintest ilk of an integration process between products is apparent in the new blue bar atop of Gmail and other services, a loose link to the other tools you haven’t yet used. I will now take this opportunity to list some areas within google products and services that I feel should be addressed, improved or provided, paying particular attention to the idea of focused integration and improved user experience.
The simplest and most effective integration is to provide access to all search services through a single search box. Blog search, News search, Book search, Scholar, Groups, Images, Finance, Video, Froogle, Maps, Code search — they all require you to visit their little section of google. For certain search terms one box results appear suggesting a search using a different tool and the top alternative search links are available for video, images, etc. The recent addition of the pop-up more box is also helpful. But I feel this is not enough.
There is no method to simultaneously search more than one service. This could be addressed using search operators within the search box, for instance:
- ” Iraq War #blog #news” could search both blog search and news search for results on the Iraq War — or alternatively “searchblog,searchnews:Iraq War”
- “Scarlett Johansson #images #video” to search for both videos and images.
- “Literary criticism #books #scholar -#normalsearch ” a search for literary criticism in books and scholar, excluding normal google search
- “all:Johnny Depp” searches all services and provides for example the top result for each with an expandable box that can provide a further 5 results or a list of results similar to normal queries but with an icon indicating which service generated the result and left-aligned thumbnails for images, videos, etc. For instance the list could contain first a link to Depp’s IMDB page, secondly a link and thumbnail for the trailer to Pirates of the Caribbean 2, thirdly some images and fourthly a recent blog post.
- “media:Buffy the Vampire Slayer” — automatically searches the media services for information (e.g. images, video)
- ” research:Capacitive Tomography” — automatically searches .edu and .ac.uk sites, scholar, books, wikipedia and other valued resources.
- “latest:Halo Movie ” — automatically searches news, blogs and sites recently updated.
I think you can quickly see the power of this approach and I haven’t even touched upon local searches or finance. Of course the exact implementation is just my speculation, another approach could be a list of check-able boxes. In advanced options you could ask that google automatically search all their services for you (similar to the all: operator) and provide you with relevant results from across the board, based on some algorithm that knows based on your search term which services are most relevant. Of course each of the main search services has their own specific user interface and something that could accommodate them all would be needed, though I am sure it is all possible. Custom and save-able search operators, similar to Yahoo’s approach are another option Google has not yet pursued.
Search History, an invaluable tool needs expanding to all of Google’s search services also. It is slowly getting there and I imagine in a few months it will be available for most if not all services. Why not expand this service to let users choose what histories they wish to keep and discard? Why not provide a search operator that automatically excludes a search term from the search history ( e.g. #nohistory). With the power of Firefox’s extensibility search history could also be expanded to search boxes on domains of a user’s choosing. For instance I often want to see what I have searched for on Wikipedia, YouTube or various coding sites. To save terms searched for on any domain would be a powerful tool. Obviously for the sake of privacy and security this should be opt-in by the user and they should retain complete control over the data being stored. Of course this could be expanded to an extension that stores your history online and saves search terms from all sites — but this would generate a slew of privacy fears from the quite right security zealots.
Tools are the second big issue and these should ultimately be integrated. The recent greasemonkey script that puts Reader into Gmail is the clearest and most influential indication of the power of integration. At present I have to login using a hundred different forms to access a hundred different tools that have little to no interoperability. The Reader into gmail approach is a nice idea and one that could be expanded up on:
- “Files” — A list of documents related to your google account i.e. those in spreadsheets and docs, groups (files in the new beta), pages and possibly Gmail attachments. The list could indicate permissions, size, file type, last accessed and direct links to editing them online (or an automatic process to edit them locally and re-upload only changes using the Google desktop search client). This could extend to directly editing Gmail attachments without having to download and re-upload to docs. Photos from Picasa and uploaded blogger files could also be included in this list. Each of these files could also be labelled as per the gmail tradition and of course be search-able both for the file and in the file.
- “History” — An integration of search history into Gmail that could include terms you have used to search through your mail and “saved searches” that could be quite complex (like the greasemonkey script ” save persistent searches”)
- “Blog” — Post directly to blogger from Gmail without having to send posts via email — I much prefer the editor in Gmail and I generally use it to compose all of my posts. The ability to edit from Gmail would also save me having to login to blogger to correct changes or add after thoughts — especially considering I have Gmail open all the time. Once again a list of previous posts and associated files could be made and use the new blogger-beta labelling system. Add multiple blogs in settings.
- “Schedule” — Show calendar inside Gmail — please, please please.
- “Links” — A list of hyperlinks that have appeared in emails or multiple emails recently with the option to store them to Google Bookmarks. The number of times I have to search for the email that contained the link to the web page I have forgotten is annoying.
- Make all of the above options smart (i.e. don’t show blogs if they don’t have a blogger account) and give the user the ability to disable them.
- “Add word to dictionary” option within Gmail rich text editor, though this may be redundant considering the new spellcheck feature coming in Firefox 2.0.
- Save advanced search options to account not just locally — I like to see 100 results and have SafeSearch off, this often gets reset.
- Use the inline expansion of topics in Reader within Gmail to quickly read new mail as an option and to provide some sort of consistent interface.
- Quick add items to calendar using Gmail or Google search boxes (e.g. using calendar:) operator.
- Gmail: Use label colour coding as shown by Matt Cutts.
- Gmail: Relegate Spam to a label that incoming mail can also be applied to.
- Gmail: Export to PDF (and other similar formats in ‘docs’) for emails.
- Gmail: Provide extra security, a search for “password” in gmail should ask the user to input their account password again to ensure Gmail has not been left logged in accidentally.
- A session management console. Oops I left myself logged in on a public PC — delete the session remotely to preserve security.
- Zeitgeist for email — who has emailed me most, who have I emailed most, most popular email domains, who have I chatted to most, etc.
- In Google Reader, let it recognise my own site feed (or let me define this) and if it’s blogger provide a link to quickly and efficiently edit the post.
If you have made it to the bottom of this post I applaud you and if there is anything you think I have forgotten or there are features and changes you want to see feel free to leave a note in the comments.
Jul 20 2006
In brief, this should sway you from ever thinking of purchasing a Dell machine.
Woe betide my Dell, (Renata’s Blog)
Tech: When you go around the web — yes? On your browser program. You can run into bad programs called viruses. And these viruses can cause all the problems you are talking about.
Me: I know what a virus is. I don’t have a virus.
Tech: But viruses cause all your problems. You have a virus — yes?
Me: I do not have a virus. I have a hardware firewall on the router. I have a software firewall on the computer. I have up to date commercial virus protection that updates its definitions on the fly and I have scheduled full system virus scans that run every night at 3 AM. I do not have a virus.
Tech: Well, you know, too much security can cause problems too.
The first tech was adamant that the problem was not related to memory, and that there were only three causes for bluescreens: a bad motherboard, a bad hard drive, or software conflicts. She explained, again, that she had just replaced the motherboard and hard drive. “Must be software,” the tech said. Exasperated now, my tech explained that she had just replaced the hard drive, so there was no software on the machine. He still insisted it was a software problem and refused to send memory. In fact, he suggested something that I will be writing to Dell about. He actually suggested that she install only one of the four memory modules, close the box, determine quickly if that module was okay, and then leave, telling me to continue installing Windows and call tech support if I had any more problems! He actually suggested to her that she LEAVE OUT 1.5 GB of my memory, memory I paid for, presumably without telling me what had been done.
Engadget: Dell Laptops Exploding…
Dell knew dozens of their laptops had sustained extensive heat damage at least two years before initiating any kind of recall. The source, who is claimed to be someone “close to the company,” has said that Dell execs were provided with documents and photographs in 2003 and 2004 showing lappies described as “burned,” “melted” and even “scorched.”
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