Welcome to The Funny/Alerts Newsletter. First things first: Thank you for all of your inquiries and well wishes. The new cardiologist has assured me that my heart condition is benign and that the best thing I can do is to stop worrying about it. Sounds good to me, but I still have questions about why their Thalium Test made things worse.

  I met with my back surgeon today and he said that everything looks good to go ahead. After 6-8 weeks of physical therapy I should be able to return to work! Finally, a light at the end of the tunnel. Surgery is scheduled for tomorrow morning at 10:00 AM and I should be on my way home by 2:30 PM. Keep all your fingers and toes crossed because this, hopefully, will be the end of the trail and I can get on with my life!

  On a brighter note, Anne and I got out of town for a couple of days with my Dad, Lee Peer. Originally, Dad wanted to go find his Grandmother's ranch in south-central Nevada. She lived about 30 miles outside of a little town called Adaven with two of his uncles. But after thinking about the lack of facilities in that remote area he decided that it would be a nicer trip to head up north.

  So last Thursday, about noon, we headed up I-395 to Alturas, CA., where we stopped for lunch. Then we took a scenic drive around Goose Lake on the California/Oregon border before turning east and traveling to Klamath Falls, OR. There Dad looked up an old friend and we all went to dinner at the local Sizzler's. This, unfortunately, led to my getting VERY sick. Remedy: a 12 hour fast followed by 12 hours of whatever fresh fruits and vegetables I could get. Down-shift and hit the gas; I'm back on track.

  Friday morning Anne and Dad went to breakfast while I recovered. When they returned we checked out and continued east to Medford. Once in town we were immediately drawn to the "Harry and David" store. You may have heard of them since they are world famous for their various fruit and food gifts.  While we grabbed lunch a friendly local gave us directions to Harry and David and then suggested that we also visit Jacksonville. After buying a couple of pounds of Ranier cherries at H&D, Anne went next door to the Visitor's Center and acquired maps and directions to Jacksonville. Let me tell you, if you're ever in the area be sure that you go see this. It's a town that is "stuck" in time at the turn of the 20th century. Take the trolley tour and watch for the "Catalog House." Then visit the Beekman House and feel as if you've stepped back to 1911 as locals re-enact life in authentic garb and language while showing you their "modern" facilities.

 Later that night we got a room and then went to dinner at MacGraph's. My brother Mike would have loved this place because they specialize in all types of fish and seafood dishes. Still feeling a bit under the weather I ordered a salad, some fruit and a side of vegetables, eating what I could.

  Saturday morning came and my motor was purring! We ate breakfast at Rooster's were they actually live up to the claim of "Home style cooking." Thank goodness my appetite was back! Afterwards we found ourselves back at Harry and David looking for the Bing cherries that we had been told would be in. Along with several pounds of these we purchased a case of Raniers for only $5 (!) and then pointed the car south to Ashland to see where they hold the Shakespear Festival. One day I'm going to take Anne up there, but don't tell her. It's going to be a surprise.

  Leaving Ashland, I followed Dad's directions... "Head south to Mt. Shasta and turn left." What a jokester! A couple of hours later we arrived at Burney Falls and beheld one of natures most awesome sights. As the brochures state, "The park's centerpiece is the 129-foot Burney Falls, which is not the highest or largest waterfall in the state, but possibly the most beautiful." This is due to the abundance of volcanic rock which results in a second, underground river that emerges from the wall of the cliff face under the main falls! I must have taken 15-20 pictures of that thing; it was so spectacular.

  Afterwards, lunch at BJ's (Hey! They've got vegie burgers!) in Burney and then home, James.












  You can always check the local weather before you leave:






Attending a wedding for the first time, a little girl whispered to her mother:

"Why is the bride dressed in white?"

"Because white is the color of happiness and today is the happiest day of her life," her mother tried to explain, keeping it simple.

The child thought about this for a moment, then said: "So then why is the groom wearing black?"




CIA official warns Congress of cyber attack danger



WASHINGTON -- U.S.  businesses will "increasingly become the point of attack for enemies of [the] United States" by hackers and national governments using sophisticated weapons such as worms and viruses that can be used for precise attacks, warned a top CIA official in testimony today before a congressional committee.


Lawrence Gershwin, national intelligence officer at the CIA, said U.S companies face a range of threats posed by the growing use of foreign contractors, an increased reliance on commercial software with known vulnerabilities in critical networks and sophisticated, state-sponsored cyber attack programs.


Defenders in government and business "will be at some disadvantage until more fundamental changes are made to computer and network architectures -- changes for which improved security has equal billing with increased functionality," said Gershwin before the Joint Economic Committee.


Gershwin's testimony broke no new ground in categorizing the threats and risks that exist to U.S.  businesses.  Intelligence and information security experts have voiced similar concerns for some time.  But this hearing, organized by Sen.  Robert Bennett (R-Utah), was intended to underscore the need for legislative remedies.


Bennett soon plans to introduce legislation exempting cyber security data from Freedom of Information Act disclosure requirements. Private-sector trade groups argue that the FOIA exemption would allow companies to share data with government agencies without risk of public disclosure.


"There are significant real and perceived barriers to information sharing and vulnerability assessments," said Peggy Lipps, the security director at the Banking Industry Technology Secretariat in Washington.


Duane Andrews, a former assistant secretary of Defense during the previous Bush administration and an executive vice president at San Diego-based Science Applications International Corp., pointedly told the committee that the U.S.  is losing ground in protecting its systems. "The rate of progress has been slower than the growth of the potential threat," he said, blaming that disparity on a "failure to act."


"For a decade, we have had study after study and report after report pointing out that our economy and national security is at risk," said Andrews.  But companies and government agencies aren't taking precautionary steps for a number of reasons, including the following:


·Policy makers don't understand the threats.


·Investments in cyber security measures interfere with business functions.


·No oversight agency holds government and critical business functions accountable.


·The issue is treated as a tactical problem, not a strategic one.


The threats vary, Gershwin said.  Terrorist groups pose only a limited cyber threat because they believe that "bombs still work better than bytes." But that attitude is expected to change as younger, computer-savvy terrorists rise in organizational ranks, he said.


The use of subcontractors hired by foreign partners creates "virtual" insiders whose identity and nationality are often unknown to U.S.  firms, he said.  "As part of an unprecedented churning of the global information technology workforce, U.S.  firms are drawing on pools of computer expertise that reside in a number of potential threat countries," Gershwin said.


Although hackers lack the "requisite trade craft" to threaten critical networks, the large worldwide population of hackers "poses a relatively high threat of an isolated or brief disruption causing serious damage," he added.


The greatest threat comes from other governments.  "For the next five to 10 years or so, only nation-states appear to have the discipline, commitment and resources to fully develop capabilities to attack critical infrastructures," said Gershwin.





Q: Should adults get vaccinated against chicken pox?


Answer from Krow Ampofo, MD: Because chicken pox is a much more serious disease in adults than in children, the vaccine makes sense for all adults -- and teens -- who did not contract the disease in childhood. Complications of chicken pox in adults include pneumonia and encephalitis.


If you cannot remember whether you had chicken pox as a child: Ask your doctor to perform a simple blood test to find out.  The vaccination usually causes only minor side effects, such as soreness at the injection site.


Our inside source: Krow Ampofo, MD, fellow in pediatric infectious diseases, Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, New York City.




Those who should have known better


"I feel that there is a world market for as many as five computers"

 - Thomas Watson, IBM corp. - 1943


"Where a calculator on the ENIAC is equipped with 18,000 vacuum tubes and weighs 30 tons, computers in the future by the year 2000 may have only 1,000 vacuum tubes and weigh only 1.5 tons"

 - Popular Mechanics, March 1949


"There is no reason why anyone would want a computer in their home"

 - Ken Olson, DEC, 1977


"640K ought to be enough for anyone."

 - Bill Gates, 1981


"... I took the initiative in creating the Internet... "

 - Vice President Al Gore, 1999

(I wonder what we were using from 1970 until 1999... :-)


Wirth's Law: Software gets slower faster than Hardware gets faster!





Do you game? Come on, you can tell me. What's your preferred mode of stress relief? Sony? Sega? Nintendo? Your PC? Or are you an Xbox convert? Whatever you play, you need to find hints, tips and news on the latest programs and equipment. GamePro.com is the world's premier online entertainment destination, delivering complete coverage of games and gaming hardware for every major platform. GamePro.com leverages the power of today's most advanced internet technologies to bring gaming enthusiasts the ultimate online experience. Go check them out, but don't go into the CHEATS section unless you really want to spoil all the fun of figuring things out for yourself!







Now here's some really useful stuff. If you're a Windows user (please forgive us, Apple) then you've no doubt often thought of things that your computer could do better. Here to show us all how easy it can be is none other than Scott Dunn (PC World Contributing Editor Scott Dunn has written the Windows Tips column for more than ten years):


Close Multiple Folders Quickly


All Versions: When you drill down through several nested folders, you open a window for each. You can close all or most of them with a single click by holding down the Shift key as you click the Close box in the upper-right corner of the folder window. Doing so closes the current folder and any open folders above it in the folder hierarchy.


Instant Backtracking, Part 1


All Versions: Did you double-click one too many times? Maybe you really wanted to see the contents of the folder containing the current folder. If the Address bar is visible (click View, Toolbars, Address Bar if it isn't), press F4 to display the drop-down list, then climb back up the folder hierarchy. Or click the Up button on the Standard Buttons toolbar if you see it. But the fastest way to go up one level in the folder hierarchy is to press the Backspace key.


One Folder or Many?


All Versions: Do your folders open in a new window or the existing one? If you'd like to change this setting, choose View, Options or View, Folder Options in Windows 9x, or Tools, Folder Options in Windows 2000 and Me. Make sure the Folder tab (Windows 95) or General tab (all other versions) is selected. If you're using Windows 95 with Internet Explorer 4's Desktop Update feature, or Windows 98 or 98 SE, click the Settings button. Now make your choice under 'Browsing options', 'Browse folders as follows', or 'Browse Folders', depending on your version of Windows. Click OK.


Quick Tricks for Mouse and Keyboard


All Versions: You can often get from place to place in Windows faster by using key combinations and mouse moves that aren't apparent from looking at the screen. For a basic list of these techniques, choose Start, Help, click the Index tab, and browse the topics listed under 'keyboard shortcuts'. For even more power, try these often-overlooked tricks.


     ·Prevent a CD from starting: Hold down Shift while you insert the CD


     ·Enlarge/shrink the font size in Internet Explorer, Windows Help, Word, and Excel: Hold down Ctrl as you spin the mouse wheel (requires a wheel mouse)


     ·Maximize/restore a window: Double-click the window's title bar


     ·Close an active Internet Explorer, Explorer, or folder window, or Excel or Word document: Ctrl-W


     ·In an Explorer or folder window, get the optimum column width for Details view: Ctrl-NumPad + (Note: File pane must be active)


     ·Select (highlight) the Address bar entry in Windows Explorer: Alt-D


The Windows Key: A Fast Worker


All Versions Most keyboards made in the last several years come with a Windows key, and sometimes also with an Application key. Try these keyboard shortcuts for extra speed and productivity. Warning: The Surgeon General has determined that these keystrokes may be habit forming.


     ·Display the Start menu: Windows


     ·Open the Run dialog box: Windows-R


     ·Minimize all: Windows-M


     ·Undo minimize all, tile horizontally, tile vertically, or cascade: Shift-Windows-M


     ·Open Help: Windows-F1


     ·Open Windows Explorer: Windows-E


     ·Open Find/Search Files or Folders: Windows-F


     ·Minimize all and undo minimize all: Windows-D


     ·Open Find/Search Computer: Ctrl-Windows-F


     ·Cycle through taskbar buttons: Windows-Tab (Enter opens task; Tab moves focus to system tray, desktop, Start button, and Quick Launch and other toolbars)


     ·Open System Properties sheet: Windows-Break


     ·Display the shortcut menu for selected item: Application


See all of Scott's tips here:





The Nimbus 2001 - part 1


Well, as you probably know, I have a lot of time on my hands these days. Then, last week, I thought that I'd install a demo of the FPS (1st person shooter) Serious Sam. The stats on the game said that it didn't need any "serious" video hardware and I thought that my Banshee should work fine. Needless to say, it didn't. The game looked for a 3D graphics card when I started it and said that it couldn't find one! Although I have an older Voodoo card in the system, that apparently didn't count.


After calling around to the TS (technical support) people for my hardware I finally discovered that the AGP (Accelerated Graphics Port) chip on my system board can't handle the new card. That started the ball rolling; I began my research for a new one and, while I was at it, I figured that I might as well get a faster processor, also. How much is memory? $75 for 256M? I'll take it! The new board can take the latest ATA-100 (say "really fast") hard drives, but I don't have one laying around. Oh, what the heck. And so it went; piece by piece.


As you may have noticed, my new system has a name. I've been a computer user/abuser for a couple of decades now and when I first heard of someone that named their computer, I thought he was crazy. That was before networks became common place. At the time, even large corporations only had a few computers in critical areas and most of those were dumb-terminals (display/keyboard units that were hardwired directly to a mainframe).


A LOT has happened since then. Today it's not unusual for people to have more than one computer in their home and to have them connected via a simple P2P (Peer-to-Peer) network for playing games and/or sharing files, printers, etc.


Now, when computers "talk" over a network, they need a name so that they can find the correct recipient for their information. That name can be anything, as long as it doesn't duplicate another name on the network. In the past it was enough just to let the operating system pick one, but in the last couple of years I've decided to take that choice away from the machines.


Anne's computer was named "Yoda" because it was small, but the size was misleading. It was a speed demon when I built it. My current system is "RAIDer" and was so named for it's cutting edge IDE-based RAID array.


(WARNING: Geek-Speak about to be revealed)

RAID (redundant array of inexpensive disks) has been around for some time, but in the past has been almost exclusively used in servers for their speed and data protection. Unfortunately, they used SCSI (Small Computer System Interface) drives and they're very expensive when compared to IDE (Integrated Drive Electronics) which are what you commonly find it today's desktop/laptop computers.

(end of Geek-Speak)


This system has been named after the extremely fast and highly maneuverable broom stick that everyone dreamed about in the book "Harry Potter  and The Sorcerer's Stone." Hopefully, my computer will prove to be more than a match for any game it participates in. Just like Harry's favorite ride.


Next week: peripherals detailed.




Did you say FREE?


There's something special about the word "free." How can you lose when it doesn't cost anything? If you're looking for something, but don't want to spend any money just to try it out, go to TeraFree and see if they have a version. It may be a "brand-X" program, but if it's not what you need you can remove it without throwing away any money.


TeraFree's directory allows the user to browse through various categories of free offers with complete ease. Their directory currently has over 1,000 freebies, organized into 20 categories.  Thirteen top-level categories of free stuff you can choose from, with those broken down even further. Some of their categories are Apparel, Books & Magazines, Coupons, Games, Internet Services and Webmaster Freebies. (that last one is my favorite)



  ALWAYS scan your downloads with an anti-virus utility.







Kennith Barker


Objection:  To work for a company.


Werk Experience:


present -  World Wide Wab Master, xMonkey.

     Current dutyies include madcow.com, and other stuff.  Also incharge of the update and scripting of scripts.  I can also fix stuff and ususeally have spare parts left over!  Abletyies include document jam recovery technician skills and beverage retrieval.  I can desygn reel good too.


mar96 - apr99 - Pilot, USS Ennerprize.

     Dutyies included: piloting the USS Enzerprize and other ships around in the water.  Making speachs to millions of people, hanging ou tin bars in southern Singapore, and eating grilt cheez sammiches. I also cleaned alot and painted over dirt mostly.


aug72 - mar95 - Profession Relaxation Engineer

     Dooties inclluded research into proper body positions for ultimate benificial use of relaxation time.  Promotoed from lowest reank of Gopher to master Lounger. 



    Present - A little bit. 


    Before - I went to high school.



    View Master, Yo-Yo, Hackey Sack, Typeing 12 WPM, Janitorial, Kneedle Point, Cheesecake, Microwave, Telephone (1 line), Etch-a-Sketch, Aluminium Can recycling, Dirt, plastic Sack recycling. Advanced Speak n Spell.



    Available if you ask, but give me time to make them up^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H provide them.


[DP: Don't ask Funny/Alert for a reference, Mr. Barker]





  Those who have not asked the question are not ready to hear the answer.