Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Happy Kwanzaa-mas-kah

OK, I have to say it. I'm sick to death of all the whining, bitching and complaining from the thin-skinned, politically-correct cry babies who would limit (or BAN, if possible) the term "Merry Christmas."

I mean, really, people. There are much bigger things (like bitching about the 10 commandment statues outside court houses or the word "God" in the pledge of allegiance, or the pledge of allegiance itself!) to bitch and moan about.

If you really want to strip out the meaning of Christmas - then follow someone who's already tried: the Grinch. Granted, he's fictional - but he had the same goals - to wipe out Christmas and all it stands for.

It's not about snow. I live in California and have to "visit" snow above 5,000 feet. But, nonetheless, Christmas will still come.

It's not about presents. There are loads of poor and homeless families that cannot exchange gifts - yet Christmas will still be here.

It's not about Santa. St. Nicholas the modern day home invader - even if you take him out of the equation, you'll still have Christmas.

It's not about consumerism. It's not about getting together with family. It's not about fancy meals. It's not about stockings "hung with care." It's not about decorative lighting. It's not about singing carols.

It's not about any of that. In fact, you can take that all away - and Christmas would still come.

Christmas is about Christ.

Period. The end.

THAT is the reason for Christmas - He is the reason for the season. He is THE Gift. Whether you believe it or not, accept it or not doesn't change that fact.

Even the Grinch found it out in the end: "...Christmas came. It came just the same..."

So whether you celebrate Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah or nothing at all, I want to extend tidings of gladness, joy and safety to you and your family this season.

God Bless!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

MiniRant: Microsoft = Zero Day Threat

So I got yet ANOTHER email warning and news stories about yet ANOTHER zero day bug/threat/malware/trojan/virus for a Microsoft Office application.

This time it was MS Word, a few days ago it was Excel, a few days before that it was Word again, a few days before that it was for XP, etc, etc.

The only good news is that I don't use MS Office any more! For those of you who have been following along - you'll know that I dumped the Office POS for Open Office. So far - LOVING IT. It does everything that I need, in a similar way to the way Office does it.

I've also dumped Outlook for Thunderbird and Google Calendar.

Now I won't lie - it did take some getting used to - and for the first week I wanted to just go back to the old stuff - because I had been using it on an off for the past 9 years and I knew them very well (and the keyboard shortcuts).

BUT - I have hung in there - and now I know the keyboard shortcuts for Open Office stuff (and Thunderbird) as well. Sure, there are things that are different, and I "wish" Thunderbird would allow me to insert the signature on a message-by-message basis (for example).

BUT - I don't EVER have to worry about any "Zero Day Exploits" for Office!

Now if I could only say the same about Windows XP.....

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Mac OS: The Microsoft Redheaded Bastard Stepchild

So.... if you have Office on Mac OS - you won't be able to read Office 2007 files until April/May 2007.


BUT - If you have newer hardware (Macintel) you can always run Vista and Office 2007 on Mac OS via Parallels... DOH!

The Mac translators are due about the same time as the rest of the world translators (mid 2007) - so HOT TIP: If you or your company is on the bleeding edge and is using Office 2007 DO NOT save data in the 2007 format - use the "compatible" setting if you plan on sharing your document with outside people.

Who probably won't be upgrading any time soon. Or ever.

On a completely different note - because I'm using OpenOffice now - they just announced that they WILL support the new 2007 Office XML format (or Novell will develop it)... so in about the same time as the rest of the world has translators - one would assume that OpenOffice will have the same native capabilities.

Did I mention OpenOffice is free? Did I also menti0n I'm using it - and liking it very much? Hint, hint..

THIS JUST IN (from eWeek): "Microsoft has issued a zero-day attack alert for its ubiquitous Word application. The unpatched flaw can be exploited when a user simply opens a maliciously rigged Word document, and there are no pre-patch workarounds available, Microsoft warns."

Ummmmmm..... cool. I'm really, really glad I'm using Open Office instead of MS Office!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Digital Native

As I'm sitting here this morning writing this entry, my 6 year old son, Brennan, is at my side. He's kicking the bejezus out of some Nick Jr. character called "Wubbzy" on an old laptop.

His personal best score is 1153. Not too bad considering my best score is 659 - and also considering that the only "controls" on this game are the right and left arrow keys and the space key.

That brings me to my point - he is so comfortable with technology (he can launch the browser and type in the URL himself) that I wonder how his life will be different from mine - in terms of education.

I'm 42 - so when I was a kid we had to learn how to deal with the card catalog and something called the "Dewy Decimal System." Now they can just search for books on a terminal. They still have to physically FIND the book but the days of kids (like me) randomly re-arranging the little cards are over.

I was luckier than most kids - my parents bought the latest "Encyclopedia Britannica" to further our education at home rather than having to go to the public library. The 26 volume tome was (and is) an analog version of basic life. Whenever I had to do a report or find out how something worked - I would hit the encyclopedia and find out.

Now kids hit Google.

The difference is - the encyclopedia is compiled by dedicated professionals and fact-checks. Like a dictionary. Very unlike Wikipedia where people can just make stuff up and people take it at face value.

I also had to create great lists of books and periodicals that contained some mention of my research subject, only to find the library didn't have that issue, or someone had it somewhere in the library, or it was in the pile to be re-shelved. I became and expert at microfiche and was forced to use critical reasoning to pull together and synthesize my thoughts into a coherent central paper.

Will my kids just copy/paste the top 3 links in the search results?

Thought for today: My school presentation certainly never contained 3-D images, multimedia and a link to my MySpace page!
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