Universities Reject Nosy Applicants

One of the e-publications that I receive is from EDUCAUSE. They were just reporting on the 153-odd business school applicants who were no longer being considered for admission because they had used a hacker’s instructions to gain access to the university admission records to see if they’d been accepted or not.

Some of the rejectees are whining now and claiming a “lapse in judgement” and similar excuses. As far as I can tell, one thing we need less of is unethical business people. Kudos to the universities for their stance!

Jekyll Island Day Trip

Marc and PlaneJust posted some pictures from our day trip to Jekyll island back in October. For some reason I thought I had already done this.

We landed at the Jekyll Island Airport which is non-towered and used our cell phone to call the Jekyll Island Club Hotel and they sent a van right over to pick us up.

We rented some bicycles from them, nothing spiffy, just single gear coaster-brake bikes that took a little getting used to, and did a pleasant cycle of the north end of the island.

The trip was partly for a getaway and partly to flex my wings by doing a longer flight in the Diamond DA-20 two seater aircraft. This is a new plane and is a delight to fly. I wish it had more cargo-carrying capacity so I could realistically look at it for a flight up to Canada, but everything’s a trade-off in aviation.

For this reason I expect that any serious trekking will be done in something like the venerable Piper Warrior II workhorse.

By the way, I’ve been to Hilton Head Island (just North of Jekyll Island) a couple of times and found it to be fairly cold and uninviting. It is very obvious that the locals don’t really want you there and they take pains to ensure that you know this. The beaches are largely inaccessible unless you are staying at one of the resorts or unless you know someone locally who can point you in the right direction.

A big exception were the local Hilton Head airport FBO folks at the Carolina Air Center they were great and if I ever do visit Hilton Head again it will be almost solely on the strength of their efforts.

Pentium vs. Athlon (2004)

I’ve always had difficulty trying to compare AMD vs Intel chips. Recently the folks on Screensavers on "TechTV" have been raving that AMD is now the way to go bang-for-your-buck-wise.

I think the best you can hope for is to check out some of the known review sites (CNET, ZDNET, etc.) and see if they have anything that can help.

I did a quick search on Google and got the hits below.

I’ll tell you that *I’m* expecting to make the move to a tablet PC when the time comes to replace my laptop.


Reusing Classics for new commercials

Michael Geoghegan commented recently on how distasteful it is when older films are used to shill new products.This referring to the Pepsi ad using scenes from Spartacus intertwined with some modern scenes featuring the "sugar water".

Certainly nobody agrees with him more than my wife, Fred Astaire fan extraordinaire, when she first saw him dancing with a vacuum cleaner (Dirt Devil) back in the 1997 Super bowl ad melee.

I’m of two minds on this topic. On the one hand it seems rather callous to take something that isvirtually an icon in our society and to seemingly trivialize it to try to gain a few more points of market share. But on the other hand, done well, these ads can be quite entertaining. Much in the same way as a satire or parody.

I think the folks who are most offended by these ads are those who are closest to the original icon. My wife loves all things Fred Astaire and woe be the person who speaks unkindly of him in her presence. Similarly, Michael is obviously passionate about the movie "Spartacus" (indeed passionate about anything well-done in the cinema sphere) so I can see see where he’d find it almost offensive to (mis)use the work in this way.

I have to say that, while I did find the Dirt-Devil ad to be somewhat cheesy and non-impressive, I rather enjoyed the "Spartacus" commercial. Having never seen the movie "Spartacus" before I don’t attach as much significance to it as I do to Mr. Astaire and his dancing abilities.

I am familiar with the Spartacus story, however. And I must say that that brief scene in the Pepsi ad piqued my interest. I’ve decided, based on the strength of the ad alone, to go give the move a look-see. Also, I wonder how many kids out there may be similarly inspired to seek out this icon of a bygone (for them) era. Michael is not old by my standards – I have over 3 years on him – and this movie predates even me. But the teens and twenty somethings of today have likely never even heard of that film much less seen more of it than they were exposed to in the ad.

BTW, I have been listening to Michael’s podcast "Reel Reviews". If you like films and want to listen to a well-crafted and thoughtfully executed commentary on both old and new films I urge you to check it out from his website.

Troy (2004)

Troy Poster

I just saw the movie Troy (2004) and have to admit to being pretty impressed. Brad Pitt was unexpectedly somber and mature and his fight scenes were absolutely wonderful to watch.

The various Kings and major players all were very well cast. It’s too bad they didn’t explore the relationship between Achilles and his cousin Patroclus in greater depth. Also the siege on Troy came across as a month-long bother rather than the years-long spectacle that it was supposed to have been.

Helen was attractive, but I have to say that both the priestess cousin (Briseis – Rose Byrne) and Hector’s wife (Polydora – Siri Svegler) stole the scenes that they were in for me.



My Word with Douglas E. Welch: SCALE: Southern California Linux Expo with Douglas E. Welch

Douglas has a great podcast, I’ve only recently been checking out his website using my news aggregator.

He recently published a mini-review of this expo. Of interest to me was his desire to make use of an old Win98 machine so I recommended my personal favorite backup solution: 2 Bright Sparks’ Syncback product.
My Word with Douglas E. Welch: SCALE: Southern California Linux Expo with Douglas E. Welch

Picasa 2

I can’t tell you how impressed I am with this software. I was just looking for something I could use to remove redeye from my pictures. I saw a suggestion in one of the google newsgroups about Picasa 2 and I decided to give it a go.

Holy moses does it do a *lot*! The fact that it’s free is just an added bonus. The search abilities and the sophisticated viewing / manipulation abilities rival most of the other programs I’ve been trialing (ACDSEE and Photoshop pro are the most notable ones).

Basically I’m pretty useless when it comes to photo manipulations. Trying to adjust the lighting levels and the hues and saturation really isn’t something that comes naturally to me. The “I’m feeling lucky” button in the “Basic Fixes” section usually does a great job at enhancing the pictures enough that I’m much more satisfied than when I try tweaking bits myself.
That combined with a really simple redeye remover and the myriad other cool features (check out the timeline feature) makes this a winner in my book.

Cons? Except for committing the redeye adjustment to the files on disk (saves the originals in a folder called… “originals”) most of the changes made, rotation, lighting, colors, etc. Are retained only as information in either the folder INI files or in a database someplace (haven’t found it yet need to back it up). This means that for me to give the picture files to other folks, or to upload them on my website, I need to export them. Otherwise they just see the unretouched originals. If I use the email function in Picasa this is done for me so emailing isn’t a concern. But this *is* something to watch out for if you decide to move to another photo management product. You’ll probably need to export ALL of your subdirectories just to be sure that you won’t lose all that retouching work.

I suspect most of the photo management systems have some proprietary quirks like this.
I felt it was a risk worth taking in this case.