Welcome to the premier issue of The Funny/Alerts Newsletter! Today is Tuesday, May 1st, 2001 and this is issue number 010501; year/month/day (it makes for easy sorting).

  I've been mulling over the inclusion of various regular headings/sections/columns. Every issue will have at least three parts: "Funny" and "Alert" are a given (duh); the third will definately have something to do with internet issues. There will be other areas of coverage and these will be determined as each issue is being developed.

  One of my favorite topics for discussion is security/privacy on your computer. Last week Anne and I recieved a couple of notices from our "banking partners" stating that they were planning to share our "non-private" information with their "partners." Well, after looking at the list of what they referred to as "non-private" data, we concluded that they were crazy! The list included our account balance, deposits/withdrawals, transactions and the names of the parties involved! This is DEFINATLEY private information in my book.

  Not only are we going to opt-out of this via the form that they had provided, but I've also called them and demanded that they were to remove my information from any and every list that they had. In fact, since the Credit Union is local, I'm going over there today and voicing my consternation directly to management!

  These nefarious incursions are working their way from cyberspace into our everyday lives. If we want to maintain any semblance of privacy, we MUST resist. I recommend that you do whatever you can to let these  institutions know that you do NOT find these practices acceptable!

 

===

GRINS & GIGGLES:

 

The temperature of Heaven can be rather accurately computed.  Our authority is Isaiah 30:26, "Moreover, the light of the Moon shall be as the light of the Sun and the light of the Sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days." Thus Heaven receives from the Moon as much radiation as we do from the Sun, and in addition 7*7 (49) times as much as the Earth does from the Sun, or 50 times in all.  The light we receive from the Moon is one 1/10,000 of the light we receive from the Sun, so we can ignore that ...  The radiation falling on Heaven will heat it to the point where the heat lost by radiation is just equal to the heat received by radiation, i.e., Heaven loses 50 times as much heat as the Earth by radiation.  Using the Stefan-Boltzmann law for radiation, (H/E)^4 = 50, where E is the absolute temperature of the earth (300K), gives H as 798K (525C).

 

The exact temperature of Hell cannot be computed ...  [However] Revelations 2:18 says "But the fearful, and unbelieving ...  shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone." A lake of molten brimstone means that its temperature must be at or below the boiling point, 444.6C.  We have, then, that Heaven, at 525C is hotter than Hell at 445C.  -- From "Applied Optics" vol.  11, A14, 1972

 

===

CYBERSPACE ALERT:

The Evil Empire Attacks Again!

 

Microsoft issues bounty for OS-less PC buyers

By: Thomas C Greene in Washington

Posted: 30/04/2001 at 05:30 GMT

 

Microsoft may not have succeeded in persuading OEMs and system builders to "decline politely" all perverse requests for PCs lacking a pre-installed (preferably Microsoft) OS, but it's shifted to a new approach.  It's now bribing system builders to turn in anyone who bids on naked boxes, ostensibly so it can harass these poor, twisted madmen directly from Beast Central.

 

Through the new Microsoft OEM Western Region Pilot Program, the company is offering glamorous prizes to anyone who sends in any of their RFQs (Requests For Quote) that don't include an OS for each machine.

 

The glittering booty on offer is five Microsoft game titles for grassing out a bidder on 250 machines; that plus a Fossil Big Tic watch for 500 machines; and those plus a Fast Cook and Grill Combo and Travel Chair for 1,000 or more.

 

Noted MS watcher Andrew Grygus, who we thank for bringing this to our attention, has a somewhat more skeptical assessment of the MS rat-squad's true purpose.

 

"What will happen to companies that submit the RFQs?  I suspect they will be subjected to one of Microsoft's fearsome license audits, and will probably end up paying many thousands of dollars in fines," he says.

 

Not surprisingly, according to Microsoft, the whole scheme is an exercise in selfless public service.  "We strongly advise that each new PC that will be running a Microsoft Operating System be pre-installed with an OEM version of the Operating System.  The alternative would be to purchase the retail product, at greater cost and inconvenience to your customers," the company humbly notes.

 

The benefits to mankind here go on and on.  The rat-your-buddy program "helps you help your customers to be compliant," the company trills.

 

We always thought 'compliant' had decidedly negative connotations, as in: 'a spineless, compliant little boot-licker'.  Leave it to Microsoft to sell submissiveness as a virtue.

 

While stopping just short of claiming that anyone buying a PC without an OS is a de facto criminal, MS obviously reckons that doing so would be outré enough to qualify one for suspicion, or referral to a shrink.

After all, no sane person is going to muck up a perfectly good new box with BeOS or Linux or something freaky like that.

 

Right?

 

===

MEATSPACE ALERT:

WHAT TO DO IF YOU LOSE YOUR PURSE OR WALLET

 

We've all heard horror stories about fraud that's committed using your name, address, SS#, credit, etc.  Unfortunately I (author of this piece) have firsthand knowledge, because my wallet was stolen last month and within a week the thief (thieves) ordered an expensive monthly cell phone package, applied for a VISA credit card, had a credit line approved to buy a Gateway computer, received a PIN number from DMV to change my driving record information online, and more.

 

But here's some critical information to limit the damage in case this happens to you or someone you know.  As everyone always advises, cancel your credit cards immediately, but the key is having the toll free numbers and your card numbers handy so you know who to call.

 

Keep those where you can find them easily (having to hunt for them is additional stress you WON'T need at that point)!  On a personal note, I remember loosing a MC and until I got the toll free number from information, etc.  I was a wreck.

 

File a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where it was stolen; this proves to credit providers you were diligent, and is a first step toward an investigation (if there ever is one).

 

But here's what is perhaps most important: I never ever thought to do this. Call the three national credit reporting organizations immediately to place a fraud alert on your name and SS#.  I had never heard of doing that until advised by a bank that called to tell me an application for credit was made over the Internet in my name.  The alert means any company that checks your credit knows your information was stolen and they have to contact you by phone to authorize new credit.

 

By the time I was advised to do this - almost 2 weeks after the theft - all the damage had been done (there are records of all the credit checks initiated by the thieves' purchases, none of which I knew about before placing the alert).  Since then, no additional damage has been done, and the thieves threw my wallet away this weekend (someone turned it in).  It seems to have stopped them in their tracks.

 

The numbers are:

 

Equifax 1-800-525-6285;

Experian (formerly TRW) 1-800-301-7195 or 1-800-397-3742;

Trans Union (Fraud Victim Assistance Department) 1-800-680-7289;

Social Security Administrations (SSA Fraud Hotline) 1-800-269-0271.

 

Do think about passing this information along ... it could help someone else.

 

[thanks to Bob Behling for this one]

 

[Note: For more information, see the SSA web site on Identity Theft at  http://www.ssa.gov/pubs/10064.html  - DP]

 

===

TRUE STORY:

 

  Hilton Hotels Corp.  is looking seriously at putting a hotel in Earth orbit.  "We want to take a hard look at it and see if Hilton can be first into space," said company spokeswoman Jeannie Datz.  But don't hold your breath: "It's certainly not going to happen tomorrow.  We're talking 15 to 20 years down the road, if any of it makes sense."

  They have competition, too: California's Space Island Group also hopes to build an orbiting hotel.  What might draw tourists to the expensive vacations?  The view, certainly.  But also, Space Island spokesman Gene Meyers adds, "What we've referred to as the romantic possibilities of zero gravity always comes up." (AP) ... Nothing new: love and war have always been the main impetus behind technological innovations.

 

===

FUN SITE:

 

  Oh, my! This site really made me LOL (laugh out loud). You and your friends are going to love poking and prodding this overly exuberant young man. Switch on the music and bring in the back-up dancers! Paul is surely a sight to behold while he jumps, gestures and flails his arms around to the beat.

  Ps. Check out Euro-Dance dude. He stole all my best moves!

 

  http://www.dancingpaul.com

 

===

GREAT UTIL:

 

  eCleaner

 

  I've been using this little beauty for quite some time now. I'm always getting asked "Do you have an easy way to remove all the garbage in an email before you forward it?" You bet I do. With all the email that I handle every day it would be an impossible task to manually have to edit all of it.

  This freeware utility cleans up email messages that have become hard to read from being forwarded many times. It removes ">" and other symbols, word wraps, fragmented sentences, HTML code, unwanted message headers, and so on. To use the program, simply copy the text that you want to reformat to the clipboard. Then run eCleaner, hit F1, and paste the reformatted text into a new email message. This program comes with an installation program and a complete help file.

 

http://members.tripod.com/schin26/clean201.zip

 

===

HARDWARE:

 Microsoft Sidewinder Game Voice

 

  I've been "playing" with this unit for over a month now and have been waiting for MS to get the drivers right before deciding to let you know. Well, they've released a new "version" (1.3 Beta) and it finally works as advertised with my favorite game, Diablo II. The premise of this thing is that it will allow several people to speak together in a chat area, either on the MS Game Voice server or by connecting directly to one of the group, and sub-divide the users into four channels. These four buttons on the desktop "puck", combined with the ALL and TEAM buttons, give you an extreme amount of control over the crowd.

  For instance, within a chat, you can talk with either a single player, several players, your team, or all the players in a chat session. Add to this the fact that Game Voice has a basic voice recognition system for you to speak commands that are converted to keyboard short-cuts and you've got yourself one powerful sidekick! My friend, Bob, says that it's made Flight Simulator a real pleasure to run. No more arcane key combinations to remember (and try to execute); he just loads the FS profile and takes off! Let me tell you... he's absolutely thrilled.

 

 http://www.gamevoice.com

 

---

 Smartvue

 

  This is one cool product! If you need to monitor children, employees, elderly loved ones or your home while you're away, you owe it to yourself to get one of these wireless video cameras. The Smartvue is a 2.4GHz Wireless Color Video and Stereo Audio Transmitter. This allows Smartvue to record crisp, clear images, video, and audio, at 30 frames per second, even with the camera up to 200 feet away from the computer. It connects to your computer's USB port (Windows 98, 2000, or higher required) and can provide live, streaming video; uploads to any web site; emails snapshots and will do time-lapse recording!

  You can have the system phone or beep your pager when the built-in iR motion detector senses movement. You can then connect over the internet for live local surveillance if its computer is online (Internet features require ISP) or, if you don't have a computer, the video and stereo audio output jacks allow the system to work with any TV or VCR; even with existing videotape based security systems.

  The system includes a camera (less than 5" tall) and Smartvue base for approximately $479+S&H. Talk about inexpensive peace of mind!

  Ps. Did I mention that it will support up to four (4) cameras? Hmmm...

 

 http://www.smartvue.com/

 

===

FUTURE VIEW:

 

My Mother the Flying Car

By Courtney Barry

2:00 a.m.  April 30, 2001 PDT

 

AUSTIN, Texas -- Get your pilot's license ready.  A Jetsons-style flying car might be at your dealership in the not-too-distant future.

 

A retired Air Force pilot from Austin, Texas, has come up with a design that incorporates the portability of a car with the aerodynamics and wings of an airplane.

 

The model, in two parts, can be fitted together for use on the ground or in the air by way of a simple attachment, much like a trailer hitch.

 

http://www.stic.net/users/willyfp/index.html

 

===

QUICK WIT:

 

  Never seek happiness outside yourself.