Welcome to The Funny/Alerts Newsletter. The surgery went well and I'm on the mend. I must admit that I've never had surgery before, so it was no surprise that I was scared. The Pre-Op crew was great and Anne stayed by my side until the last possible second. The anesthesiologist had given me a "cocktail" and I felt like I'd had a couple of drinks, but it did nothing for my anxiety. So I waited until we were alone before telling Anne how afraid I was. She reminded me that she'd had several surgeries and said that it'd be alright. Just holding her close seemed to be the Valium that I needed.

Then they wheeled me into surgery and, looking around, I thought to myself "Is this all it takes to safely cut somebody open?" When I said "This doesn't look anything like TV" everyone laughed. Actually, I laughed because I had a surprise for them. That morning, after showering up, I had drawn a smiley face on a band-aid and wrote "Go Team" across it. Then I stuck it on my back facing towards the side I figured Dr. Kip would get the best view. Also, in my mind, I was giving final orders to my immune system so that they all knew what to do in my absence. ;)

 

Before putting me on the operating table, Dr. knock-out said "Goodnight" and that's the last thing I remember. About 12:10pm I awoke in recovery and it was all over. Dr. Kipp came by to say that there was a piece of disk right were the MRI had shown it and he just flipped it out and closed me up. No extra problems or procedures. The only thing left to do now was mend up!

 

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GRINS & GIGGLES:

Political philosophies in simple "Two Cow" terms

 

Socialism:

You have two cows.  You keep one and give one to your neighbor.

 

Communism:

You have two cows.  The government takes them both and provides you with milk.

 

Fascism:

You have two cows.  The government takes them and sells you the milk.

 

Capitalism:

You have two cows.  You sell one and buy a bull.

 

Democracy:

You have two cows.  The government taxes you to the point that you must sell them both in order to support a man in a foreign country who has only one cow which was a gift from your government.

 

Bureaucracy:

You have two cows.  The government takes them both, shoots one, milks the other, pays you for the milk, and then pours it down the drain.

 

Corporate:

You have two cows.  You sell one, force the other to produce the milk of four cows and then act surprised when it drops dead.

 

[thanks to Bob Behling for this one]

 

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CYBERSPACE ALERT:

Why It's Getting Easier to Get Your Teenager Off the Phone

By Jeff Palfini

 

A new study shows that instant messaging (IM) and the Internet are changing the dynamics of teen communication.

 

Their parents' generation fought to use the family phone. Today's teens fight over the keyboard.

 

A new study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project says teenagers have adopted the Internet and instant messaging so completely that it has even replaced face-to-face communication as the primary mode of interacting for some teens.

 

The study concluded that of the approximately 13 million American teenagers who use the Net, 74 percent use instant messaging. Surprisingly, one-fifth of the teens using IM said it is their primary means of communicating with friends. The study extrapolated the results from a survey of 754 youngsters between the ages of 12 - 17 and their parents.

 

"Our sense from talking with these teens is that the Internet expands their network of friends," said Amanda Lenhart, principal author of the Pew report. "They keep in touch with people they normally would not because instant messaging can be a more casual way of talking with someone you met at summer camp or someone you have not seen in awhile."

 

Teens say the Internet also helps them to build and maintain friendships. Forty-eight percent said the Net improves their current friendships, while 32 percent said the Internet and instant messaging have helped them make new friends.

 

One reason online communication is so popular is that it allows teens to avoid some of the awkward elements of social interaction, like blushing and stammering, that can prevent shy teenagers from engaging in conversations. The study found that 37 percent of teens use instant messaging to say something they could not have said in person or over the phone.  For instance, 17 percent of IM users have used the medium to ask someone out on a date.  Thirteen percent have announced over IM that they were breaking off a relationship, no doubt ending the message with sad-face emoticons, the punctuation-mark icons that flourish in cyberspace.

 

Internet communication is not without its detractors. Fifty-seven percent of parents surveyed say they are worried that their teen might be contacted by a stranger online. The concern is not without merit: Almost 60 percent of the teens reported such a situation.

 

Perhaps more alarming is that a full 50 percent of teens have sent a message to a stranger.  The media is peppered with instances of sexual predators meeting their prey in online chat rooms. And a study released this week from the University of New Hampshire at Durham's Crimes Against Children Research Center found that 20 percent of online teens have received sexual advances from a stranger online.

 

For the most part, the teens are not worried. In the UNH study, only 20 percent of teens who were approached online are upset by it. Seventy-five percent say they aren't concerned by the unsolicited advances. Pew's Lenhart said this is because most teens feel confident online.

 

"Teens feel more comfortable online because it is not a physical world to them," Lenhart said. "While they may be exposed to advances or images they don't like, they don't feel that they will be physically harmed because they know how to block offensive users in chat and they believe it would be hard for predators to track them down."

 

Parents aren't so comfortable with their teens' Internet savvy. Lenhart said the report revealed that parents check on what their kids are doing online to a surprising degree.  While only 27 percent of teens felt that their parents were checking up on them, 61 percent of parents reported examining their teen's computer to see what they had been up to.

 

However, the study also finds that parents who are more familiar with the Internet are more likely to be more comfortable with their children's safety online.

 

While the pitfalls of the Internet and instant messaging are a source of concern, Lenhart said that overall, both parents and teens have positive feelings about these growing mediums for teen talk.

 

"I would emphasize in the end that parents and kids think the Internet is a good thing," says Lenhart. "They realize it has its flaws, but in the final tally they believe it is a positive thing in their kids' lives."

 

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MEATSPACE ALERT:

 

===

TRUE STORY:

 

·Map Quest generates 20 million maps a day (NY Times)

·Nearly three-quarters of online youth ages 12-17 use Instant Messaging to chat with friends. Only about 44% of adults do (NY Times)

·IBM reports its new chip manufacturing technology will be able to produce chips that operate at 80 GHz, more than twice the fastest chip currently in production (ZD Net)

·Internet users spent an average of 20.2 hours looking at Internet sites in March 2001, up from 15.9 hours the year before and 12.8 hours in 1999 (Yahoo)

·100 Million Americans now buy goods and services on line (Yahoo)

·35.6 million Americans have participated in online auctions (Yahoo)

 

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GREAT UTIL:

Circles, Squares and Skateboards

by Wendy Richardson

 

Need a quick bullet in Word or PowerPoint? Don't touch that Bullets button! Instead use an asterisk and a space for a simple, round bullet list.

 

1. Type *

2. Hit the space bar

3. Type some text

4. Press Enter

5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 for every bullet you need, then press Backspace once or twice to get rid of the last bullet.

 

Round bullets aren't the only bullets you can type this way. Try these:

 

- (dash) gives you a dashed list

-- (double dash) gives a square blocked list {doesn't work in PP}

> (greater than) gives a kool half-shaded arrow

-> (dash, greater than) gives a bold arrow {doesn't work in PP}

=> (equals, greater than) gives an outlined arrow

 

Type any of the above symbols, a space, then some text and bingo a bullet pops up. If you don't want the bingo bullet, just press Ctrl + Z to undo the bullet. If no bullet pops up, check to see if Automatic bulleted lists is selected in Tools/AutoCorrect/AutoFormat As You Type.

 

More bullets

Word and PowerPoint have other arrows you can type automatically. While the list below looks similar to the list above, the symbols are a little different  you can type them anywhere in your text. Because of this, you'll have to tell Word when you want to use one as a bullet by pressing Tab after you type the symbol. PowerPoint doesn't seem to care if you type a space or press Tab. So much for consistency.

 

--> (dash, dash, greater than) gives you a thin right arrow

<-- (less than, dash, dash) gives a thin left arrow

==> (equals, equals, greater than) gives a bold right arrow

<== (less than, equals, equals) gives a bold left arrow

<=> (less than, equals, greater than) gives an outlined double arrow

:) (colon, close parenthesis) gives a "smiley face" graphic

:( (colon, open paren) gives a "sad face"

:| (colon, pipe) gives a "straight face"  {the | pipe symbol is usually shift over the \ Backslash}

 

List Bullets in Word

It's a simple concept. Press Ctrl + Shift + L to apply Word's "List Bullet" style, then type your bullets. When you're finished typing bullets, press Ctrl + Shift + N to return to the Normal style. Here's the advantage: change one bullet (right-click the bullet, then select Bullets and Numbering) and they all change. The disadvantage is any paragraph with the style applied, whether you see a bullet or not, gets the new bullet.

 

Reordering bullets

This is one of my all-time favorite Word and PowerPoint tips I learned just last year. (Wish I'd learned it earlier!) To reorder selected bullets or paragraphs, press Alt + Shift + Up arrow (or Down arrow). It's easy. Just hold down Alt and Shift while you press, press, press the arrow keys. And, even better, this trick works in tables, too!

 

Picture bullets

Let's say you came up with this clever idea to use a drawing of a skateboard as a bullet in a presentation to Thrasher, the skateboarding magazine. Turning the picture into a bullet takes about 30 seconds; on the other hand, hiring an illustrator, scanning the illustration, reducing the size, selecting a format to save the file in, then finding the bullet you saved, could take weeks! In steps below, I assume you already have a picture of the skateboard you want to use.

 

1. Select the text you want bulleted.

2. Right-click in the highlight, select Bullets and Numbering, then click the Bulleted tab.

3. Click Picture at the bottom to open the Picture Bullet dialog box.

4. Click Import Clips, find your picture, then double-click it. Click OK.

5. If the bullet is too large (which it probably is), select it, then click and drag a selection handle to shrink it. All subsequent bullets will be the same size.

 

Unfortunately, picture bullets don't indent text properly That's OK if your bullets are short. But if you have more than one line of text beside a bullet, you'll need a hanging indent. Select your bullets, then press Ctrl + T so that the second and subsequent lines of text line up under the first line of text not the bullet.

 

Clip Gallery

Microsoft has thousands of free Clip Art images at http://dgl.microsoft.com. (They're not exactly free. Have you seen the price of Office XP?) Not only are the images pretty nice, they download quickly into your Clip Art dialog box. Here's how you download an image of a skateboard:

 

1. Select Clips Online from the Picture Bullet dialog box in step 3 of the above example or just go to http://dgl.microsoft.com.

2. Type skateboard in the Search for box, then press Enter.

3. Click the little Download button  below the skateboard (3rd column, 2nd row).

4. In a few seconds, the skateboard should appear in your Clip Gallery dialog box, not in your Picture Bullet dialog box.

 

Inserting the image into a document is easy. Just click the Insert Clip Art  button on the Drawing toolbar, click the Downloaded Clips category, select the image, then click the Insert clip button  on the shortcut menu.

 

How do you use this new image as a bullet?

You got me. The only way I could figure out how to use it was by doing the following:

 

1. Right-click the image on the Web or in the Clip Gallery dialog box in step 4 above, then select Copy.

2. Right-click the text you want bulleted, select Bullets and Numbering, then click the Bulleted tab.

3. Click Picture at the bottom, then paste (Ctrl + V).

4. Select the image, then click OK

 

Ironically, the Picture Bullet dialog box (step 3 above) looks almost identical to the Insert ClipArt dialog box you get when you click the Insert Clip Art button , but it only includes bullets that come with Word (or PowerPoint) and images you import using the Import Clips button. There is no search, no clip art and no way to categorize your images. Images you add just show up at the end. (Hold Shift while pressing Backspace several times to go to the end of the list.) I think I'll stick with the ol' asterisk and space!

 

===

HARDWARE:

The Nimbus 2001 - part 2

 

I always enjoy shopping for computer equipment. Just ask Anne. I'll spend hours on end comparing the various benefits and drawbacks, reading all the reviews I can find and searching the online databases for "Head-To-Head" specifications, frame-rates, data transfer speeds, etc..

 

Given the fact that I'm limited to how much I can spend on this project (how many Platinum cards do I have?) and that there's just some point at which I don't believe I'm getting my money's worth (I'm NOT paying nearly $500 for a P4), this is what I've come up with:

 

Target:

The system must be silent (or nearly so); the case must be screw-less, have a snap on/off front bezel with latch access (flip-open) side panel and USB/Firewire ports on the front. Overall speed must be at least 33% faster than my current system in order to perceive the reason for spending this money. The sound card has to handle all major surround formats (DirectX, EAX and A3D) for my games and, of course, the system board's AGP (accelerated graphics port) must fully support my graphics card!

 

Parts:

Case: Antec SX830 (www.antec-inc.com)

System Board: Asus CUSL-2 (www.asus.com)

Processor: Intel Pentium III, 1GHz

Memory: 256M PC133

Hard disk: IBM Deskstar ATA-100 30G, 7200 RPM, 2M cache

Video card:  WinFast GeForce2 MX DH Pro by Leadtek

Sound card: Hercules Game Theater XP (us.hercules.com)

CPU fan: Molex Radial Fin Cooler w/ copper-core (www.quietpc.com)

Case fans: 4ea ThermaSense 80mm Variable-Speed Fan  (www.pcpowercooling.com)

(and just because) Sound dampening: Accumat AMT035X (www.scosche.com)

 

The case is one of the quietest on the market, due mostly to the "SmartPower" power supply that has a heat sensor for controlling the exhaust fan speed. It also comes with quick-release drive bays and four (count 'em - 4!) snap-in case fan mounts. These came with two standard 80mm sleave bearing fans installed, but as you know I replaced them with the ThermaSense units. The internal 3.5" drive bay also had a fan mount, so I put one in there to keep the HD (hard disk) cool.

 

The system board is heralded among the top hardware experts as being one of the fastest and most stable. Asus has always made some of the best and I have owned many of them. It almost seems like their design engineers just inherently know how to build things so that they squeeze every possible performance bonus out of those chips. This board's AGP slot supports the newest 133MHz 4x mode.

 

The video card is Nvidia's 2nd generation GeForce. Again, this unit is a champ in it's class (that's the gaming class, by the way). Tom's Hardware says, "... thumbs up for the currently best available GeForce solution. The price, package, performance and stability of this board earned it the highest marks over any of the competition." Sharkeys Extreme was equally impressed; "In almost every test, the Leadtek board, with the same 6ns memory, pips our other two GeForce 2's to the podium in terms of performance. The Leadtek is probably going to end up being out "First Choice" GeForec 2."

 

To make a good game absolutely great requires the best sound. My favorite story about this is the one about "Pat's" hidden stereo (his name has been changed to protect the innocent). I worked with Pat some years ago and one day he invited me over after work for a beer and to listen to this new rock tape he'd purchased. As I sat on the couch, Pat went into the back and put on The Band. He had a pair of really nice floor-standing tower speakers and, needless to say, they rocked the place. After a couple of songs he put on Led Zeppelin, then Queen and then Pink Floyd in an effort to show off the speakers. Each time he needed to change the music Pat would go into the bedroom. Since most people have their stereo in the living room, I assumed that he was worried about someone breaking in and stealing it. He was single and made good money, but lived in a "low class" area of town. Thinking that he spent his money on this awesome sounding stereo (it obviously wasn't' his car) I asked to see it.

 

You could have knocked me over with a feather! He took me back into his bedroom and opened the closet doors; there, sitting on the top shelf, sat an AM/FM cassette deck from a car hooked to a 12v AC adapter! Granted, it did have about 25W/channel but it wasn't even a REAL home sound system!? To this day I remember how great that system sounded, just because it had great speakers hooked to it. Now, when I'm upgrading or expanding a sound system, I always pay attention to the output. Today's computer games are capable of surrounding you with all the intricacies of sounds necessary to draw you into believing that you're actually INSIDE a garden, spaceship, battleground, etc. But all of the world's best programmers can't make up for a lousy sound card.

 

With this in mind I hunted down a Hercules Game Theater XP for an absolute, no-holds-barred, more connections than my entertainment system, feature-rich audio card. This thing is capable of taking in and putting out a myriad of sound formats through a massive "break-out" box that sits on your desk. On the back it has six outputs for Dolby 5.1 and DTS speaker connections; coaxial AND optical digital input/output; separate MIDI-DIN in/out; and 2 USB ports. On the front there's a headphone jack (w/ volume control); microphone (w/ gain control); separate left and right line inputs; joystick port; and 2 more USB ports.  (The USB hub makes attaching things like cameras and scanners a snap; no more crawling under the desk)

 

Next week: Load the OS (operating system) & drivers and fire it up!

 

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BONUS:

American Web Hosting

 

Thought of putting up your own web site, but don't know where or how to do it? Perhaps you've got some great ideas that you'd like to make available to the world, but you're put off by how expensive it can be. Let me help you out by pointing you in the right direction. Amhosting.com is a very affordable choice.  Offering top notch technical support and accounts as low as $4.95/mo with tons of features.  All accounts come with a complete unconditional 30-day money-back-guarantee. Their network is all powered by high-speed Cisco equipment and they offer a 99% up time guarantee on state-of-the-art server hardware!

 

They have FrontPage extensions so that you can work on your web site in real time while it remains "live" for your visitors. You can get unlimited email aliases and forwarding, 3 email POP accounts, web-based email access (Ala HotMail and Yahoo!), shopping cart (for e-business), personal Guestbook, BBS, password protected directories, unlimited 24/7 FTP, hit counter and much more.

 

Combine all of this with their OC3 (REALLY fast) internet connection to four separate backbones (internet main streams) and you can see why I like AmHosting. I've been working with these guys for several years now and I'm extremely pleased with their prices and professionalism.

 

NOTE: Just for you F/A readers! For the month of July, mention to Ryan Flowers that you saw this story in The Funny/Alert Newsletter and they'll waive the $10.00 set up fee!

 

Bang for the buck rating: 10/10

http://www.amhosting.com/

 

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QUICK WIT:

 

  The only difference between a clever person and a wise one is that a clever person will be able to deftly figure out the best way to extricate themselves from a situation that a wise one wouldn't have gotten into.