Author: Joe Wilcox

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The Buck (Shot) Stops Here

I simply cannot resist. Well, actually I did resist for a few days—OK, maybe a day—but cannot any longer. Some broadcaster named Bob Rivers has got this in-bad-taste but funny Flash movie, “Cheney’s Got a Gun,” poking fun at the Vice President’s recent hunting accident.

Yes, I feel for everyone involved in the incident. But this bit of Flash foolery is just too good to pass over. I’m a fan of political humor—all targets (pardon the pun) accepted, whether conservative, liberal, Republican, Democrat, or some other political persuasion. I’m not partisan. 

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Canon EOS 20D, 30D, or Nikon D200?

I am contemplating digital cameras this week, following Canon’s pre-PMA announcement of the EOS 30D. I had expected a 10-megapixel honker to match the Nikon D200. Instead, the Canon EOS 30D is a marginal upgrade to the 20D, similar to the Nikon 70s compared to the Nikon 70. My initial reaction: Why didn’t Canon do more? I already had compared the D200 and 20D before the announcement. My conclusion: Canon doesn’t need to.

For some time, I’ve griped about the Canon EOS 20D compared to the Nikon D70 (at one time, I owned both cameras and now have only the 20D). I often found the photos taken with the D70 came out as I expected, which wasn’t always the case with the 20D. The camera acted more like an extension of my eye. 

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Be Responsible for Your Kids Online

Over the last couple days, I’ve seen an awfully good AP story, by reporter Matt Apuzzo, stir quite a flurry of fallout about kids online safety at blogsites. Matt focuses on MySpace.com, but the problems of too much information disclosure are persistent.

In December posts What Kids Reveal Online and Minimizing Kids’ Online Risks, I explored the dangers of teen blogging and what kids foolishly reveal. 

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Going Old World, Sigh

During the last seven months, I’ve taken some mighty big steps backward—and I’m none too happy about it. In early August 2005, I started using Vonage voice over IP (VoIP) service, putting a tethered phone back in the house. More than two years earlier, I pulled the landline, and we became an all-mobile family. Three cell phones.

But following carrier consolidation, I no longer could affordably purchase enough minutes for work and home needs; hence, the VoIP service. I would have expected service providers to encourage people to go only-cellular. But, NO-o-o-o. 

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How Rude!

I get so steamed sometimes by some people’s rude behavior. My daughter and I stopped into the local 7-Eleven this morning for a quick burrito. While we were standing in line, this lady jabbering Spanish over a cell phone made a huge mess at the cappuccino machine (I use lower-case “c” because 7-Eleven Cappuccino isn’t).

She used the wrong size cup, which overflowed all over the machine and made a huge puddle of milky gunk on the floor. And she didn’t care! She continued talking on the cell phone! 

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Bye, Bye, Ruffy

Tonight our local veterinarian took Ruffalo, the rabbit we unexpectedly inherited. Ruffy is a cute bunny, friendly and energetic. He needed a better home than we could provide. If we didn’t have two rabbits already, he would have stayed with us.

I am sad to see Ruffy go. He was part of our family. But he needs a better family. The vet deeply loves animals, and I am confident she will find him a home. Yesterday, she sent out an e-mail to people she knows at National Institutes of Health (I provided photos). Several people asked about taking Ruffy. The vet may even keep him. She reminisced about the days when an Angora bunny hoped around the office and people would come by just to gawk at her. 

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Secretaries Don’t E-Mail

In March 2004, I appeared on PBS Newshour to discuss the European Union’s antitrust case against Microsoft. But I was by no means star of the night. The news show featured an interview face-off between Jim Lehrer and U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. I sat in another area of the same studio watching the Secretary answer Jim’s questions—well, sidestep many of them. The Defense Secretary struck me as out of touch, a sense I got more seeing him live than I ever have on television.

But even I underestimated just how out of touch is Donald Rumsfeld. Today, Newsweek columnist Mark Hosenball writes about the Karina hearings: “Congressional investigations of government responses to Hurricane Katrina have revealed that two of the nation’s key crisis managers, the secretaries of Defense and Homeland Security, do not use e-mail”.

Uh, yeah. 

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Powerless

Snow pelted Washington overnight. For once, the forecasters hit the mark. On Friday, the National Weather Service issued a storm warning from 6:00 Saturday to 6:00 Sunday, with projected snow fall between about 10-20 centimeters. By Saturday morning, the the weather service pushed the warning back to Noon and increased snowfall projections to about 15.5-30.5 centimeters.

I blew off the storm’s significance. At 1:00 early Sunday, accumulations on my back porch barely topped 2 centimeters. The situation dramatically changed in the four-and-a-half hours that followed. By 5:30, according to the measure of accumulation on my back porch, the storm dropped 28 centimeters of snow. 

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‘Live 8’ or Death

Two Saturdays ago, the family hauled off to Tysons Corner Center, so that my wife could shop at the New Balance store and my daughter at the Sketchers there. On a giant flat-panel monitor at the back of the Sketchers played Live 8, particularly Richard Ashcroft’s performance, with Coldplay, of The Verve staple “Bittersweet Symphony”.

The performance stuck with me, as did vague memories of Live 8, which I mostly missed. I certainly shouldn’t have overlooked the concert as much as I did. During summer 2005, I struggled through some logistical problems at work, which greatly distracted from many things that should have been greater priority. Events like Live 8 come `round maybe once in 20 years, if Live AID is any indication. 

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Throttle Me, I Throttle You

Uh-oh. Netflix throttling is in the news this week, and I’m steamed about the tactic. I am so mad that service cancellation is one option. More likely, I will, eh, throttle down my number of rentals.

Throttling is a strategy whereby heavy users are penalized for using the service. Netflix reasons it loses money on these customers, so they get lower shipping priority. 

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You Want to Charge for What?

I am not swooping with excitement over AOL and Yahoo plans to charge for e-mail. Here’s how I see it: 1) Spam is bad enough without e-mail vendors making it easier. 2) Charging for e-mail fundamentally changes the way the Internet has long operated.

The way it works: Marketers would pay a penny to directly route their e-mails to inboxes, bypassing spam filters. The marketers that pay get their e-mail separated from those that don’t pay and from the riffraff. Maybe, but I don’t want any of their mail. It’s pretty much all spam to me, and I waste way too much trudging through it. 

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Da Vinci Deserves Better Than This

I finished reading book The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown over the weekend. Someone lent us the book a year before I started reading, which seemed to labor for a year. I just don’t get all the hubbub over the book.

To be clear, I had no trouble with the book’s core concepts about Christ or with the weaving historical interpretation. Of course, Jesus Christ was supposed to marry. I don’t believe that he did, contrary to the book’s fictional assertion. But there is no question that he was supposed to. The Jewish and Christian concepts of the Fall involved two male and one female being (Muslims believe the same, yes?). The Messiah, King of Kings—whatever you want to call him—should marry and resolve the problem, man and woman, reversal of man and woman falling.