Saturday, May 15, 2010

I Finally Gave in to the Fox

Two days ago, I switched back to Mozilla Firefox as my default Web browser.

My first dance with Firefox was in 2005...back when it was version 1.xx. It performed superior to Internet Explorer (if I may so detest such software). Also, Mozilla Thunderbird surpasses Microsoft Outlook any day as an e-mail handler...my grandma has even been using it for the past few years.

However, rumors surrounding Firefox going commercial convinced me to switch to a different browser around 2006--2007. The answer was the Opera Web browser. Opera dominates everything, hands-down. It is the most secure Web browser around, and it can be changed to suit any taste. Opera is also available as a mobile Web browser. Another feature Opera holds is its ability to act as a torrent program, which is handy if you download torrents (I use ĀµTorrent for any torrents requiring removal of certain trackers and such). Still, Opera is a powerful browser deserving more credit than it gets. There is one fallback, however, which was enough to get me to revert to Firefox.

The Internet has not caught up with Opera. That is to say, there are Web site coding and frame structures not equipped to be compatible with Opera. One of these Web sites is the Onetech portal for ATU. The setup of the Web site is only compatible with IE and Firefox, due mostly to using in-line frames (there is a warning when you try to access the Web site with Opera). However, there is an option within Opera to make the software identify itself as another one of the browsers. This works sometimes, but it gets annoying. I have been dealing with that one since I started attending ATU. Another menace is the Blogger Web site. It does not smile upon Opera, either. I could post, but I could not edit the HTML or edit a blog after the fact. Minute problems, yes...but there is no reason to have to switch between different browsers to surf the same Internet. Other Web sites had similar issues.

I realized, years ago, that the rumors of Mozilla commercializing Firefox were false, but I still wanted to give Opera a chance. I got attached to the browser, but not too much to prevent me from reverting. I still have Opera installed and ready to go, but I am happy with Firefox, once again. If the above two problems were fixed, however, it would be safe to assume I would switch back to Opera immediately. Maybe some day...

Saturday, May 8, 2010

I-40 Accident Friday

I was on my way to my mom's house Friday afternoon when I drove (eastbound on I-40) up to an accident scene in Conway before the emergency vehicles showed up. I watched the ambulance try to fight its way through stopped traffic on the westbound lanes as I was pulling away from the scene.

At first, I noticed traffic suddenly slowing as a few people were huddling around an SUV, which was overturned in the median. As I was inching forward, several others swarmed the SUV to check on the driver. Before too long, they had the driver out of the vehicle and on the ground. I did not rubberneck/gawk, but I did see the driver was completely surrounded by people. When I was even with the SUV on the eastbound lane, I saw something I had never seen before...the engine was on the shoulder of the road, almost even with the SUV. Then, I drove through about 50ft of debris, feeling shattered fragments of the SUV bouncing off of my car's undercarriage. The front bumper had been pushed onto the shoulder about halfway through. The good civilians were attempting to clear the road, but there were too many pieces. I started on the inside lane, but soon moved to the outside lane as everyone else was doing. When I passed the debris field, I was about a quarter of a mile from my exit for Vilonia/Beebe, if anyone knows where that is (for an estimation of location).

According to this CNN iReport, both sides of the interstate were shut down for the next two hours. As far as I can tell, no information (other than the iReport), has been made public...but I could be wrong. The picture in the iReport was taken from the side of the eastbound lanes because it is the same view I had, and emergency vehicles were approaching via the westbound lanes. The iReport says the engine ended up half a mile back...this is incorrect--I know because I saw it. At first, I did not know what it was. Then, I saw the pulley system. As my car was even with the SUV, the engine might have been another seven feet or so in front of me.

Also, since I passed the SUV prior to debris, I could only assume the SUV was travelling west, crossed the median, then rolled into oncoming traffic. I do not know exactly what time it happened, but cars that had passed me minutes before were pulled on the side of the road to help. I saw a yellow semi pulled over past the debris, but it did not appear as though it was involved. I did not take any pictures for obvious reasons.

Also...less than five miles back from the accident scene, I saw a state trooper burying his Dodge Charger in the woods to set up to catch speeders. Where the hell was he when it counted? The whole ten minutes I was stuck in traffic, I did not see that officer. I know his car is capable of off-road travel (we have all seen cops in strange spots along the interstate, I am sure). That thoroughly disgusted me. There was no reason he could not have driven down the road to help. He was already out of the traffic, so he had no excuse. Also disheartening was seeing the ambulance stuck in traffic. People can be void of common sense. If you see an ambulance, get the hell out of the way (even if you have to pull off of the road to do so). The life possibly hanging in the balance is far more important than your tires. It was frustrating and disillusioning to see. Yet the amount of people helping was incredible. There was no reason for me to stop, so I did not. There was nothing I could have done that the other 30 people already there had not already done.

On a bright note, I am through with this semester.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

And so it Begins...or Ends

Finals week is upon us, at last! Generally serving as a nice distraction, Facebook has disappointed me this morning. It has been a while since Facebook chat showed its inefficiency, but today is different. I cannot chat, nor can I update my status. I do not take Facebook that seriously, but I at least expect it to function properly one of the few times I use it...especially one of the fewer times I go to actually update a status.

I remember back in the day when Facebook served a function much more closely related to its name, before the pointless applications and advertisements (every one of those teeth whitening and bodybuilding advertisements are reported as being scams, so way to go Facebook for being part of the problem instead of the solution). To have an account in the old days, your school had to have a Facebook domain set up. Thus, Facebook also served as a face finder for new students. Then, Facebook took the MySpace route straight downhill. The chat function usually works well for being a combination of programming languages. I use an Opera Web browser, so I am used to having to open IE to browse some Web sites. However, Facebook does not work in IE, either. With all of the revenue from advertising and applications, I find it hard to tolerate such nonsense.


Here are more reasons Facebook sucks, but is kind of necessary for a good, hearty laugh at others' sheer stupidity. Such a waste...but enough people still use it to give it a purpose. Want to know a challenge? Sift through the narcissistic posts and status changes looking for useful information. Is such a thing possible? Now that I think about it, how useful is the status I was attempting to post? Is it now even worth the time it will take to type it?

And when a friend has a kid, how often is the Facebook profile transformed into the kid's baby book, documenting everything the kid does? I do not care about the kid, especially if I am an old friend from high school. If I visit my friend's profile, guess who I want updates for...here is a hint: not the kid. There might be two or three friends who are the exceptions to that rule...and none of them has kids yet.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Final Projects for Class

This semester is drawing to a close...as everyone knows (okay, maybe not everybody, but most people are in the know, and I could not resist the rhyme). First on the list are my half-page advertisements, both shown below. I mistakingly reversed the assignment--I made the typography assignment vertical, and the original image assignment horizontal.

For this one, I used an image taken a couple years ago by a roommate I had when I lived at Vista Place Apartments...I would not suggest the place, personally. It is set up wrong. Anyway, the screenshot on my old laptop is of my "Edit Posts" section from a few days ago.
The one on the right is my vertical half-page typography attempt. Not a lot to explain with this one. The text is a type of tag cloud, basically...and the rest is self-explanatory.
For the full-page advertisement, I used a few different images, such as the person from the Scream. The Capitol Hill and national seal are also used.
The magazine cover on the right is...there. Of all the assignments shown here, this one is my pride and joy--except the Capitol Hill implication above, but that is more like my favorite detail.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Telecom Presentation

So today, the group I am a part of in Intro to Telecommunications, "The 1080s," gave a presentation regarding HDTV technology. My portion was various types, such as LCD, plasma, DLP, LED, etc... It went all right, considering I harbor a disdain for group assignments. There is just something unsettling about putting your grade in the hands of others, especially when it comes to pass that your group is plagued by that one member epitomizing "half-ass dedication."

I realize it is a presentation for an intro course, but you NEVER (I repeat, NEVER) shine a laser pointer on the professor's neck expecting people to actually find it funny. Maybe in high school (not in my high school, mind you), but a person should already be past that point by the time he or she reaches college. It is not funny; it is the very definition of "asinine." Making matters worse, the rest of the group was trying to portray professionalism...apparently, the concept was beyond the person's grasp. It probably would not have bothered me, but I am in this group, and I do not want that kind of representation.

Either way, the professor noticed, so I apologized to him on my group partner's behalf. I am not mentioning his name, but anyone who was there knows who he is, and anyone who has participated in a group project knows the type of person I am referring to.

A couple good things that came out of the presentation: I had a topic for a vent blog, and I know more about HD technology than I did before. If I could afford an HD television, it would probably be this one...a Samsung 72-inch, 1080p DLP 3D-ready model. Through Amazon, and the link provided, the TV can be yours for around $2000. Considering DLP technology is used in movie theaters, LCD and plasma sets do not hold a candle to it, especially in stunning 1080p resolution. The image quality is worth the extra space any day of the week. For an extra $1400 ($3400 total price), you could also pick up an 82-inch Mitsubishi 3D-ready DLP...also 1080p. Samsung and Mitsubishi are the only television manufacturers licensed to use the Texas Instruments DLP technology, according to the website.



This is the 72" Samsung mentioned above. It is beautiful. It would also go great in my apartment. With my current stereo system, I have big sound with a moderate picture. If I had this thing, the image would match the sound.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Class Project [April 15]

This is my text art. The figure is Amun-Ra (original on the left). The outlining text (and the filler at the very top) was taken from here. It is a prayer to Amun-Ra, the Egyptian sun god. I did not know how it would look in the end, and my filler text vocabulary seemed to shrink more and more as I ran out of time. Anyhow, the finished product is the sunburst on the right.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Collateral Murder

In 2007, two Iraqi Reuters staff members were caught in crossfire between US forces and Shiite militias. A corresponding news article can be found here. Following the incident, Reuters requested a thorough enquiry into the deaths and surrounding circumstances. The two employees were photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen, 22, and driver Saeed Chmagh, 40.

Saeed Chmagh (left) and Namir Noor-Eldeen (right)

Now to the messed-up part. A couple days ago, a friend pointed me to wikileaks.org. Apparently, the onboard video from a US apache tells a different story than news reports. In the video, decrypted by wikileaks after un-named sources leaked it, the viewer can clearly see two men carrying cameras...which the soldiers identify as weapons. A little later, one man (Noor-Eldeen) can be seen kneeling from behind a building, attempting to take pictures of something down the road. Soldiers in the helicopter mistake his camera for a weapon, and they claim they were taking RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) fire. However, it is obvious the apache was never fired upon. There are two men armed with guns in the video, but they do not pose an aggressive threat to the chopper. Still, all are gunned down, primarily by gunman "Crazy Horse 1-8." Commentary from soldiers reveals how eager they are to shoot something. One eerie detail of the video is how the crosshairs follow Chmagh.

Here, you can see the crosshairs on Chmagh, with Noor-Eldeen in the bottom-right corner (both have cameras).

Minutes later, a minivan pulls up along one of the journalists who is succumbing to his wounds on the side of the road. Two children can be seen in the front passenger side of the minivan. With unarmed samaritans picking up the barely-alive Reuters employee, command gives the choppers permission to fire. One of the shells hits the minivan and obliterates it. When it is realized that the US forces screwed up and shot kids, the two wounded children are deferred to Iraqi hospitals. One soldier remarks, "well it's their fault for bringing their kids into a battle." To which the commander replies, "that's right."

Whistleblowers make the world go 'round.

Other relevant websites:
cpj.org - Committee to Protect Journalists
Namir Noor-Eldeen - Tribute to photojournalist killed
collateralmurder.com - Website dedicated to the video

[NOTE: This line is meant only to separate my links from the automatic timestamp following the blog. This is the only way to keep them from blending together]

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Oh...this is Kinda Funny

According to KAIT, a study revealed that teen girls are actually worse drivers than teen boys. I cannot really say this is surprising. The article, amidst gross over-usage of exclamation marks, contains several quotes from (I am assuming) female drivers. One of them even admitted to texting while driving, though not much. An interesting follow-up would be to examine how/if this pattern changes later in life. I am usually the driver, so I have not ridden shotgun with a female in a while. I can say from previous experience that a female driver behind the wheel of a car with a hard suspension is a combination to be avoided. I am not saying I am an excellent driver, myself. I am a bit biased when it comes to judging my own driving. I remember a couple times within the past five months or so when I noticed myself driving erratically beyond the normal speeding scenario. By "normal speeding," I mean 5mph over the limit. I am also sometimes guilty of texting while driving, but only when I am on the interstate with no cars around. Driving through town, I can usually wait to get home before texting.

Actually, I was pulled over about a month ago. The RPD officer accused me of driving through two stop signs. I told him I did not believe him, considering I knew he was behind me for one of the stop signs...not two. Regardless, I did not run two stop signs. When I denied it, he said I just failed to come to a complete stop (still B.S.). I have always heard this referred to as a "California stop." As I handed him my license/registration, I told him once more that I did not remember driving through two stopsigns. After a few minutes, he handed me my license/registration and told me to be careful. Then, he sped away. I guess he had bigger fish to fry. That was the first time I had been pulled over since 2006. My only speeding ticket is from when I was 16 (2004). I was returning to school from lunch and, trying to keep up with the crowd, got clocked going 48 in a 25 zone--2mph faster, and I would have lost my license. No speeding tickets since then, nor any documented violation (regarding my driving skill).

One thing that always gets my goat is when I see news stations running tips on how to avoid paying for a speeding ticket. If an officer writes you a ticket--be an adult and own up to it. I find it a low point whenever a news organization encourages viewers to avoid accepting responsibility for his/her actions...what a disappointment. If you are caught speeding, here is what you do. Go to court, stand in front of a judge and plead "no contest." Easy, right? Or, if you are at least 18 years old, you can mail the fine to the court clerk prior to the court date without having to appear.

And another thing...has anyone heard of a law existing, prohibitting officers from following a person for more than three turns? I have heard rumors, but I have seen nothing to legitimize it.

Picture is from a website with lots of pictures to waste your time...always kept me entertained during down-time back in high school...wreckedexotics.com.

Eine Schlange

A slithering escapee in Germany caused an apartment building to be evacuated for three weeks--and a 19-year-old's apartment to be practically torn apart. The antagonist? A 30cm monocled cobra. From what I have read/seen, the monocled cobra is pretty much king of the deadlies...a mean customer thou shalt not muck with. For more info, check out this Youtube video of some "David" guy on Animal Planet being bitten by a monocled cobra.

Anyway, the cobra escaped from his aquarium on March 18. Now that all is said and done, the 19-year-old faces fines of up to $133,590.50 for the ordeal--they had to tear his apartment apart and evacuate/seal the building because of the venomous snake. Firefighters then checked the building daily for any sign of the snake. Recently, they found the snake stuck to double-sided tape left by one of the firefighters. Authorities say the snake probably died of exhaustion. The article did not disclose the name of the snake.

This picture was taken from this blog. It shows a guy performing with three monocled cobras. The author of the blog apparently considers him to be a "friend," but the blog does not give his name.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Lots of Tickets

As I was parking this morning at 9:30, I could not help but notice the Tech safety car pull up. Then, three officers jumped out as if it was a race against time. They wrote at least four tickets in the newly designated red hangtag parking at Tucker Coliseum. As I watched them jump out and quickly walk from car to car, I could not help but think of one person...

This is Farva from the movie, Super Troopers. He is the officer stuck on the station radio because he tries too hard to be a supercop and lost his street-roaming privileges. I am not saying the Tech safety personnel are a joke; I am saying they all had that look of, "All right! Let's write some tickets and make Tech some money! Yeah! Ready...BREAK!" I did not know Tech had a female officer...I also did not know Tech safety had that many ticket boards. That front row across the street from Rothwell Hall is the new hotspot. Signs are posted, there was a bulletin on Onetech and there was an officer in the parking lot, Monday, informing students of the change. The students have every right to be ticketed for ignoring all three. It sucks, but it is reasonable. I wonder how many students are registered as commuters. I also wonder how many yellow hangtag parking spaces are available. Nevertheless, parking in the wrong color area is a $20 fine...which is $20 I do not want to give to Tech--especially after giving Tech over $2,000 for tuition. Yesterday, there was a red hangtag car parked in the yellow zone...I parked beside it. Did they rush to give that car a ticket? Hell, no.