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 µTorrent 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.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Break is Almost Over

So...somewhere between the recent long(er) nights and "afternoon" mornings, it hit me: that week-long break at the beginning of Spring is practically over--but the weekend is next, so it is all good from where I am sitting. I just decided to drop some lines before I drive the couple of hours, and some change, to my mom's house.

Speaking of "houses"...how about that "House of Representatives" thing? Quick rundown: the 1,000-page bill passed the House of Representatives. Then, a handful of Democrats in the Senate managed to pull 2,000 pages out of their asses in less time than it takes an author to write a mediocre novel...and, I can assure you, it starts off a little dry. I wish I could say it picks up...but it does not.

The Dems had the supermajority (60), so it passed the Senate without much Republican input, not saying input was forthcoming. Then the House said, "we're going to pass a bill." And the House passed a bill. Healthcare law was born...a bit deformed, but one eye was open, so we were okay. Republicans were miffed, but that is okay--they should have actively participated instead of just wanting to kill the bill flat...not saying that would have been a tragedy, but we will see if the reform bill passes the House. I just read on Yahoo! News that the reconciliation bill passed the Senate. In the reconciliation process, only 51 votes are needed to pass (that is general majority for those of you keeping count). So, this still requires no Republican votes...what a great system we have, right? Anyone else tired of it? And they could not resist slipping the education funding stuff in with it. According to the Yahoo article, some things had to be changed, go figure. It is reconciliation bill H.R. 4872 for the two or three of you who might care. If it passes the House, it is a done deal. I hope it turns out well. But we all know the "Audacity of Hope."

And to add to all the b.s. being slung back and forth, Biden dropped the f-bomb within range of a microphone. It was either that or pee his pants with childhood excitement I almost envy. I watched the youtube video...it is barely audible in the highest quality version. You have to know it is there for the most part. Yet Fox picked up on that one fast. Dems are already unpopular around the camp, way to go Biden for giving Fox some cud to toss around...great. Personally, I do not care. I say "way to express your emotion, I guess." After all, it is like Taylor Mali says in "I Could Be a Poet":
"I am not afraid to use that one requisite swear word / to let you know I am [ucking-fay] serious, man!"
Gotta love the Pig Latin, right? Remember: brackets in quotes mean the words enclosed are not original...he originally went for the gold. I cannot do so because it is unacceptable to those two or three people who may stumble across this page...and it is for a class, so I have to keep clamped. However, they now have T-shirts. Yep, Biden's words forever immortalized until the shirt becomes a rag. I cannot help but desire a piece of this history. This is apparently not the first time he has dropped the f-bomb, from what I read/heard on huffingtonpost.com. Regarding the linked article, it also contains the link for the latest incident. Do not take everything you read on Huffington Post as true. It is meant to be humorous, so details are exaggerated for entertainment purposes. However, the post does not fake recordings...that I am aware of.

Anyway, I have already spent more time on here than I wanted to...time to drive. I will add a picture later...maybe.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Class Assignment

This is a relatively simple background using the 3D objects in Photoshop CS4. I used text from the U.S. Constitution.

Last Minute Addition

Sitting in class, I realized my blogs are not up-to-date. So, I am adding one to circumvent the problem. One useful Google service worth mentioning is the "define" function. To search for a definition using Google, type "define: [word]." For example, typing "define: circumvent" returns these definitions.

Spring Break is coming up. I am probably going to take the opportunity to try to find a job. My last job was being, more or less, assistant manager at the now-closed Triple Crown Chinese Restaurant. It was a lot of fun, and I learned how to make a few Chinese dishes.

This is a picture of the cast of "Trailer Park Boys," one of my all-time favorite shows. I was watching an episode before coming to class, actually. Those crazy Canadians...too bad the show was cancelled after seven seasons, but it had a great run.

About to learn about typefacing and font, so I am going to submit this and hope it is sufficient.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Crushing Coffee Caffeine...and the Cove

So I watched a good documentary last night. A friend told me I had to watch it, and now I pass on the advice. The documentary is the Cove. It won many awards, including Best Documentary. The film definitely has that "documentary" feel, similar to gems such as Paradise Lost II. However, it is obvious the equipment used for the Cove is of much higher quality than equipment used for most documentaries.

The Cove is about the annual dolphin slaughter in the Japanese fishing town of Taiji. The documentary goes beyond dolphin fishing to dolphin marketing. Those with weak constitutions should not watch the last 20 minutes of the movie, as footage of dolphin death is shown. All in all, it is a great exposĂ©, and segue, into a modern "Save the Whales" campaign...not saying that is a bad thing, having watched the documentary. If you enjoy powerful documentaries, watch the film. [NOTE: If you want to visit a website related to the effort to save the dolphins (and it is apparently an uphill battle), you can click "modern" or "campaign" above...or you can click here]

I did not start the documentary until around 2:15a.m., which roughly translates to, "put a couple pots of coffee on, and enjoy the show." That is...if the show is enjoyable...this one goes more along "informative." I made it to class on time, at least. Now I am waiting for the crash.

In celebration of St. Patrick's Day, I have a joke for you:
An Irishman walks out of a bar...hey, it could happen.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Russian Software Designers are Bold

Russians are getting tech savvy. For $26, you can buy a Russian program called SkyGrabber. The program intercepts satellite data and downloads it. Iraq insurgents used the software to intercept US MQ-1 Predator feeds. Predators are those unmanned planes that fly recon. Not leaving it at data interception, a Russian software firm has released password cracking applications for the iPhone and iPod touch capable of cracking any password, regardless of encryption type.

Several years ago, one of the company’s programmers was arrested on stage during a software security lecture. Adobe pressed charges against the company because the firm’s software was capable of bypassing the .PDF encryption. Bypassing this encryption meant people could illegally copy eBooks. The programmer was acquitted, and the case went silent.

The Russian company’s website does advertise hacking software for government use, some ranging to over $1,000. I would not trust it, which is why I have not linked to the company website or the software in question. If you really want to take the risk, Google it. There is no telling what you are installing when it is software meant for hacking, ethical or not--especially when you consider the source is a Russian company, when that country has a history of launching digital attacks on US computers.

Monday, March 8, 2010

RPD Makes an Interesting Arrest

Reading through an old edition of the Courier, I skimmed across a story from the Russellville Police Department. Saturday, February 27, the RPD made an I-4[2]0 arrest when an officer smelled marijuana permeating Kenneth Doyle's vehicle. Doyle, of Novato, California, reportedly gave the officer permission to search his vehicle. Upon inspection, the officer found 79 pounds of marijuana (worth an estimated $130000), a gun, fake badges from the San Francisco Police Department and $2500 in cash. Doyle told the officer he was headed east to North Carolina. From there, Doyle was going to instruct a security class at Washington, D.C. At a preliminary hearing the following Monday, Doyle revealed he was a retired police officer. The $130000 cookie was taken from one cookie jar to (probably) be placed safely into another...not saying the RPD is corrupt or anything.

I wonder if the story goes any deeper than a one-man cruise from coast to coast. I have not found anything of interest yet.

As for this picture: One of the aspects of the Silent Hill game series that always caught my attention was the way the in-game photographs looked--aged and kind of eerie. Most of the eeriness came from context, granted, but I tried to mimic the effect from memory. I ended up with the sepia-on-steroids result you see. I tried to find online screen stills of photographs used in the game to use as a guide, but I have not found any. The original image can be found on the RPD website.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Logos

These are the three logos I made. Not sure which one to choose yet.

   Logo 1                                                Logo 2




    Logo 3

Free Speech Tested

Many of us know one of Conway's economic jewels, the University of Central Arkansas (UCA), for its party-related practices. Another bit of fame for the school came in 2009, when a fraternity (Alpha Phi Alpha) was banned from the campus for three years following reports of hazing practices.

The school paper, the Echo, has also gained some attention. In 2007, the student newspaper was named, "best in state." Lately, the accolades have been a little different for the newspaper.

Basically, the opinion section of the Echo ran a story entitled, "Rough Sidewalks Match Administration's Tactics," in February of 2010. The story criticized the UCA administration (specifically, school President Allen Meadors) for misappropriation of funds, inappropriate administrative practices and doctoring of documents--all revolving around President Meadors' decision to install decorative stamped concrete on the UCA campus.

By itself, the story does not seem very interesting. The actual story to the story is how, though he had knowledge of the article, UCA President Meadors let the story run. That is correct. It is possible for school administrators to have the testicular fortitude to own up to whatever action he/she has committed when students, learning the powers of the media, call him/her on it. A freepress advocacy group has even commended the university for leaving the paper alone. Inspirational, yes? [Note: link is a teaser]

Friday, February 26, 2010

So About That Radio Show...

Tonight was the maiden voyage of my radio show on KXRJ 91.9FM. It was smooth sailing...except for one minor detail.

The guys on air before me ran past 8:00 a little bit, but that was okay. However, they decided to play an instrumental loop of Dr. Dre's, "The Next Episode," just as they were leaving the studio. I stopped it as soon as they left the room, of course...that instrumental stench is already stinking up my time slot. I sat down, donned the headphones, placed the CD into the player and hit the button to start the CD to do the intro. Click. Nothing. A little bit of a dilemma, I would say. I had a quick run-down of the place during orientation, but not quite enough to troubleshoot the equipment...call a manager--no answer. I called the only phone number I had. I did not notice the piece of paper with the other two numbers until later.

After a few minutes of futily trying different button combinations, just in case, I realized it was already 8:11, and my CD was clearly not going to play. I had to get on the air. At about that moment, it occurred to me that my little show had undergone a rather significant change for the night...hit the green button; skip the intro. I introduced myself and my (currently) nameless show. Then, I explained that there was a slight change in the program. It was an interesting start.

I blew through every topic I had been researching in about 25 minutes, which would have been sufficient if music would have served as breaks. I still had almost 22 minutes to fill, so I hit the red button to let the programmed jazz play until the next DJ came on. 15 seconds later, my cell phone rang...jazz is not playing; it's time to talk some more.

Having not anticipated this problem, I tried to think of jokes. By the by, it is hard to think of a joke when put on the spot like that. I read a few CD covers and song names aloud, looking for a CD appearing interesting enough to play. I managed to stretch that out to about 8:51...the next DJ just arrived. I signed off eight minutes early. It is an extremely disappointing situation to find yourself in--you are in a position to speak to the masses (potentially, anyway), but you cannot think of anything to say.

The 9:00 DJ showed me that, to play that loop from earlier, a switch had to be pressed on the control board. If I would have only known. My orientation Tech Radio veteran only said, regarding the computer with the public service announcements and loop files, nobody used it much. Thus I did not learn anything about it. Actually, I do not understand why she said people do not use the computer. Anybody with background music, show intros, lead-ins or any other sound byte (excluding whole songs, though a radio station at which I interned kept its music on a server) would get a lot of use out of the computer, assuming he/she could upload clips to it.

The next DJ, Garrett, asked if I wanted to sit in as a co-host on his show. It is a much better environment with music. It is more suitable. During a song break, he put my CD into his laptop. Much to my chagrin, the CD played. I used to have a stereo with the same problem. Some CDs played, while some would play, but with rhythmic fuzz.

If a good thing could be said about tonight, it is this:
The worst thing that could happen on my radio show happened on my first night, so now it is out of the way.
I am not saying the lack of music ruined everything; it just changed the course a bit. All things considered, it went well.

[EDIT: I cannot get the extra spaces to go away, and I cannot get other spaces to stay. Oh well.]

Monday, February 22, 2010

Sarah Palin's Souvenir of Arkansas

On Tuesday, February 16, Sarah Palin delivered a 45-minute spiel to Arkansans at the Verizon Arena. Though attendence is speculated to be less than 5000, members of the media were not allowed to make audio or video recordings of the event.

Regarding the Tea Party movement, Palin stated that the "smart thing" for the involved independents to do is to choose to align with Democrats or Republicans. Tea Party protests are on the basis of restricting power of the Federal Government (that is to say current Democrat and Republican lawmakers). The very notion of an independent aligning with either party is counter-intuitive to the cause.

Another point she made was in the form of the question: "How dare a terrorist who hates America and hates our Constitution be given those same rights?" At least, she thought she was raising an issue that was, well, an issue. Recent CIA missile strikes indicate otherwise when a Taliban commander was narrowly missed, killing his brother. It seems to me that Constitutional rights are not granted to those who pose a genuine threat to the ideals of the Constitution. Civilians in the vicinity of target areas are sometimes not elligible for said rights, either...seeming more like calculated risk.

Fox News made Palin seem...something...when they felt it imperative to note, "Arkansans shelled out big bucks to see former Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin." The dinner tickets were $175 each. The reception, however, was a whopping $500 per person/couple, which included a photo with Palin. Let's all cheer because Arkansas Republicans know how to throw away some money. Do not get me wrong, Democrats do it, as well. But this is Sarah Palin. I do not even watch her on Fox for free. They were probably hoping for a good opening act. The Arkansas GOP was reportedly advertising $20 tickets to boost ticket sales at the last minute. The strategy failed.

One thing Palin did tell Arkansans that was right on the money (okay, nothing Palin says is "right on the money," but this was close) was, "[l]ike Alaskans you too probably cling to your guns and religion." We do like our guns. As a souvenir of her trip to Arkansas, Palin was presented an engraved, lever action Henry Big Boy .44 Magnum rifle by the Republican Party of Arkansas. While Henry rifles are iconic, I do not think Sarah Palin is the type of person who should be handed a gun...much less a .44 magnum rifle. I also think that a more suitable gift could should have been chosen, as a gun does not truly encompass Arkansas...especially since the special $2000 rifle was manufactured in New Jersey.

Image taken from here.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Book Page In-class Project

This is my book page. Click on thumbnail for full size.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Indicative of a Cheaper Electric Bill?

As I flipped through today's (Saturday, February 13) edition of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, I noticed the headline, "Expert: Entergy Poked in Chest." Being an Entergy customer, I was curious.

Basically, Entergy Arkansas is leaving a multi-state Entergy System Agreement, which was meant to share resources and operating costs. According to CB Online, the main reason for the departure is...
"Under the agreement, Entergy Arkansas paid nearly $400 million to the other operating companies in 2009, with most of that going to Entergy's Louisiana and Gulf States Louisiana companies."
The "other operating companies" mentioned above are Entergy Mississippi, Inc., Entergy Gulf States Louisiana, LLC, Entergy Louisiana, LLC, Entergy Texas, Inc. and Entergy New Orleans, Inc.. According to the original agreement, any company wishing to leave the agreement has to give advanced notice of at least eight years. In December of 2005, Entergy Arkansas gave its written notice to Entergy. This means Entergy Arkansas is still under Entergy rule until December of 2013. At this time, Entergy Arkansas can decide if it should be a stand-alone utility or get involved with another system agreement.

An article teaser from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette posted to ArkansasOnline (Thursday, February 11) states that the Arkansas Public Service Commission is attempting to step in and force Entergy Arkansas to become a stand-alone utility.

I wonder how Obama's cap-and-trade legislation (a.k.a. fecal energy tax) will affect the outcome of this venture for Entergy Arkansas ratepayers. To avoid a three-page blog, I will not get deep into cap-and-trade legislation. Here is a nifty video on the subject, instead. On a side note, Obama's bill is supposed to be on the table by April. I wonder if these actions will earn him another Nobel Peace Prize.

Back to the topic at hand, what will happen to Arkansas Nuclear One? I know it is owned by Entergy Arkansas, but Arkansas News reports "Nuclear One is among 10 units operated by Jacksonville, Miss.-based Entergy Nuclear." Since Entergy Arkansas will no longer be affiliated with Entergy Nuclear, as of Dec. 2013, will full control of the facility be turned over to Entergy Arkansas? Will Entergy Nuclear still have a hand in the plant? Or am I misunderstanding something?



[EDIT: For some reason, extra spaces appear where I do not want them. Above, Blogger inserted spaces before certain paragraphs, but it left other paragraphs alone. Even my quote has an extra space. Is poor coding on Blogger's part to blame? I looked for the extra spaces in my editor, but the spaces only appear after being published...it is annoying for obvious reasons.]

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Another Photoshop Op

I saved the draft in class just to get the pictures on the blogger website to use now. Since I added the pictures prior to text, I cannot format the text/pictures any way different than you see...with minimal effort, anyway. I could go through the HTML code and get the URL for the pictures, but this is easier for now. The "after" is on the left, and the "before" is on the right.

The Guy Does Exist

After posting "Quick Photoshop Op," I found out the subject of the image I used does, indeed, exist.

His name is Chris Kemp; the image was is mug shot from Gresham, Oregon. Kemp, 37 years old, was arrested when Carlos Castillo found him in his home the day after Christmas of 2003. He entered the house through an upstairs entrance, finding holes punched in walls. Armed with a stick, Castillo reportedly confronted Kemp in his kitchen while rearranging appliances. The crazy part is that Kemp was wearing clothes belonging to Castillo's mother...including her leopard skin hat and matching scarf. Realizing he was caught, Kemp agreed to sit down and wait for police to arrive. He also stole Christmas money, but he removed it from his pocket soon after being discovered.

The scratches on Kemp's face are the supposed result of a prior battle with a brier patch that he lost (refer to above post for photo).

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Bitter Twitter

We have all heard of it. Some of us have used it. Twitter.

It blew up as quickly as other social networking websites, but it did does not cater to the same demographic as other social networking websites like Facebook and Myspace. While reporters, CEOs and other high-profilers use Twitter as a way to get their latest updates on the computer screens of the masses, teenagers make up a small percentage of tweeters.

One former CEO who uses Twitter is Jonathan Schwartz. Schwartz used to be the CEO of Sun Microsystems. Though seemingly made obsolete by applets such as Adobe Flash (formerly Macromedia), some people may recognize (and still use) Sun's Java software. However, a failed open-source project resulted in Sun's share price dropping $277 to $3.49. This resulted in Oracle easily acquiring Sun.

Schwartz did not retire without a joke. His method of choice was not a letter of resignation. He notified the world of his resignation through a tweet on his Twitter page. A haiku, to be exact:

"Financial crisis
Stalled too many customers
CEO no more"

Quick Photoshop Op

The image on the left is a picture I found online called "Beavis."

I do not know if there is actually a guy walking around looking like this, but I found the picture here. I am not sure of the accuracy of the article, though.

The image on the right is the same image, enhanced with Adobe Photoshop CS4. The only deviation from the methods reviewed in class is my addition of an extra layer containing only the face from the chin up (ears excluded) to add a different type of blur. From there, I adjusted the opacity of the two blurred layers until the guy did not appear to be plastic. To some, he still might. Practice makes perfect-ish.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Human Rights?

So Obama is going to meet the Dalai Lama...and (surprise) China is not happy. I remember back when Chinese/American relations were at their peak. There was an instance when the Dalai Lama visited Washington, and Obama refused to visit him. Why? Because he did not want to upset China. Economics won that exchange. Now that China is not so high on our butt-kissing list, it is okay to see the Dalai Lama.

And China is clearly losing favor with America. It has been a while, but think back before the big "Google" fiasco. Anyone remember when China tried to map the electrical grid of the US? Chinese hackers did not act alone, nor did they necessarily lead the attack. They were assisted by the likes of Russian hackers, among others. There again, economics wins over practicality. If I caught a friend trying to gain access to my laptop, I would not pursue further dealings with the person...would anyone else? Now fast-forward to the "Google" fiasco. Chinese hackers hacked dozens of corporate and personal e-mail accounts affiliated with Chinese human rights activists based in a few countries, including the US. That is not mentioning the new currency problem between China and the US. Then, Hillary Clinton tried to lecture China on human rights.

Now, Clinton has moved on to Iran. In July of 2009, three American hikers were arrested in Iran and accused of spying. A fourth hiker was present, but he stayed behind in Iraq because he felt sick. When the other three hikers crossed the border (innocently or knowingly), they were arrested by Iranian authorities. Recently, the Iranian President (Mahmoud Ahmadinejad) voiced wishes to trade the three US captives for Iranians currently resting in US prisons. Clinton, in her infinite wisdom, has decided not to swap prisoners with Iran. Iran is doing exactly what it should do to get its citizens back [EDIT: By "citizens," I mean "operatives"]. Hillary Clinton has dropped the ball. Instead of the US defending the rights of citizens overseas, she is hoping the Iranian government will suddenly come to its senses and release them. I am not saying they should exchange prisoners without question, but she cannot expect the Iranian government to release the captives based on humanitarian grounds...this is ignorance at its finest. Unless there is an Iranian election, that region has no reason to make any attempts to gain favor with the US. I think past failed negotiations have shown exactly how opposing forces view the human rights of Americans...Nick Burg proved this when he was kidnapped and killed after the US government refused a similar prisoner exchange with terrorist groups in Iraq. And recent convictions showed how the American government views the human rights of its opposition when multiple CIA agents were convicted on kidnapping and torture charges in Italy. An earlier blog I posted referring to John Gotti also shows how, at times, the American justice system does not support human rights. The Patriot Act is further proof. How, then, can the Obama administration so brazenly declare that America is the pillar of human rights? America is a lot more advanced than other countries (thank you [partially] free speech) in this regard, but everyone knows that problems exist...there is no denying that. There is no such thing as a righteous government, that I have seen.

Furthermore, the captives (reportedly students) just happened to go out for a stroll in that area. Why? It is a warzone over there. Common sense tells me not to wander in such areas. The fourth hiker, who did not cross the border, has reportedly told his grandmother not to talk to reporters. Why not? Seems a little strange. I would want my story to be known. America needs to protect its citizens, but its citizens need to know that America will, obviously, not do for them what they cannot do for themselves.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

From the Front Page


Flipping through today's edition of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the front page had a couple interesting tid-bits.

Obama is putting together a committee to solve America's fiscal issues by way of bipartisanship. I agree with Lewis Black when he says, "[...]the only thing dumber than a Republican or a Democrat is when these [people] work together."

A Philadelphia Transportation Security Administration officer is no longer employed by the airport following a prank he pulled on a University of Michigan student. The security officer reportedly planted a plastic bag of white powder in the student's luggage. Then, he proceeded to pretend to "discover" it. After the "longest minute of [her] life," the officer revealed that he had put it there. Now, that is bad joke timing. The student, Rebecca Solomon, posted the story on-line. She said that he had "joked about the least funny thing in air travel." The airport claimed the officer was training new employees to find hidden contraband. If this was the case, he should not have enlisted the help of unwitting participants. As an afterthought to her story, Solomon added that the incident "[opened her] eyes to how small mistakes can have big consequences." After considering her reaction, along with the lengthy diatribe , I do not believe she truly considered it a "small mistake." It was all just bad timing. But, she got her 15.

So I guess the US Marines are leaving Iraq. That is great to see. It appears as though Iraq can handle it, though the White House has concerns about effects the withdrawal could have on an upcoming parliamentary election. The White House hopes the election will result in decisions being made on serious political issues, such as the distribution of Iraq's oil revenue. So does the resolution of those issues mark the end of our oversees involvement? No. President Obama promised to send more troops to Afghanistan, and it is being carried out. Amy Schlesing (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette) writes that 200 Arkansas soldiers will depart for Afghanistan.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Obama's Lost Ability to Campaign


After seeing the astounding 2008 campaign, many voters believed Obama was the path to all hopes coming true. Recent developments might indicate all of that is unraveling as a sort of resentment towards the US President shows its head.

Though she made plenty of campaign mistakes without assistance, Obama's ditch-effort to assist Martha Coakley may have done more harm than good. We have seen this before when Obama's best efforts could not save Jon Corzine's election hopes, either. As I recall, Obama's last (successful) "campaign" ended with the House of Representatives passing the first rendition of the health care bill...but that had nothing to do with voters. Now, many Americans are disenfranchised by the health care bill (and soldiers being sent to Afghanistan...and Obama's extension of the Patriot Act...and the list goes on). Obama promised the US health care reform since his 2008 campaign. Instead of stopping the process and responding to voter anger issues, Obama is trying to limp this through.

The concept of the bill is great--Americans need health care insurance, and the current market needs a kick. The problem arises when the Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill work together to construct the public option. I have an idea for this--we do the same thing we did with General Motors. The US government should find an insurance company that is not doing so well. Then, we buy 51 per cent of the company. This way, we can keep Congress from constructing a policy of their own. Competition would still spread throughout the insurance market, and the American public would not be subjected to a 2000-page bill.

This blog has been on my draft list since Thursday, so I'll cut this one short and move on to something else.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Gotti Got Away

John "Junior" Gotti, Jr. is not going back to any court to truly face his mob-related charges. Gotti has been in court four times for the charges, but the jury always failed to reach a verdict...shocking. Gotti is the son of the infamous John "Teflon Don" Gotti, Sr.. The nickname, "Teflon," arose from the prosecutor's lack of ability to make charges "stick" to him.

On January 8, 2010, a New York judge signed paperwork deeming the prosecutor's case officially closed. The charges Gotti escaped include two counts of murder and other charges such as kidnapping. Now, Gotti plans to leave the US to write crime stories.

I look forward to Gotti taking the O.J. route, though--publishing a book full of implicit confessions. Of course, I also enjoy those old gangster movies like "Goodfellas" and "Casino," so Gotti's book (if he ever publishes it) should be an interesting read. Perhaps he will entitle it, "If I did It." That is what O.J. Simpson did. However, a federal bankruptcy judge gave the publishing rights of O.J.'s book to Ron Goldman's family. Goldman's family then renamed the book, "If I did it: Confession of the Killer." As a side note for anyone who did not watch television in 1994 [EDIT: O.J. Simpson's wife was murdered in 1994; the trial began (and ended) in 1995], Ron Goldman was the guy O.J.'s wife was, supposedly, seeing on the side. Thus, O.J. (allegedly) brutally murdered both of them. Technically, his guilt was never proven beyond a doubt. Prosecutors had his glove, a shoe and a motive. Still, the jury returned a faux pa "not guilty" verdict. He has since then managed to get himself arrested/convicted for other crimes, so he is resting in prison unless he is allowed to parole around 2013 [EDIT: O.J. Simpson will be elligible for parole in 2017].

Curtis Sliwa is the guy who Gotti allegedly paid someone to kidnap, beat and shoot. The only thing he can do for justice, since the criminal case was dropped, is pursue civil charges. If Gotti was able to escape criminal charges, I highly doubt civil court hearings will end differently.

Hey. Maybe the civil judge will award Sliwa royalties from Gotti's book.