Welcome to The Funny/Alerts Newsletter. How about some more on the vacation? On second thought, two pages (printed) was more than enough. But, if you'd like to see the pictures we took just point your browser to http://www.thepeers.com/ and take a peek! Just follow the new link at the bottom of the menu bar that says "Monterey Trip '02".
Notice that I compressed all of the pictures as much as possible so that they should come across your dial-up connection fairly quickly. Later I'll put the full-sized pictures online for those of you who have either a broadband connection or a great deal of patience.

Co-Conspirator To Make The World A Better Place

1. Only in America... can a pizza get to your house faster than an ambulance.
2. Only in America... are there handicap parking places in front of a skating rink.
3. Only in America... do drugstores make the sick walk all the way to the back of the store to get their prescriptions while healthy people can buy cigarettes at the front.
4. Only in America... do people order double cheeseburgers, large fries, and a diet coke.
5. Only in America... do banks leave both doors open and then chain the pens to the counters.
6. Only in America... do we leave cars worth thousands of dollars in the driveway and put our useless junk in the garage.
7. Only in America... do we use answering machines to screen calls and then have call waiting so we won't miss a call from someone we didn't want to talk to in the first place.
8. Only in America... do we buy hot dogs in packages of ten and buns in packages of eight.
9. Only in America... do we use the word 'politics' to describe the process so well: 'Poli' in Latin meaning 'many' and 'tics' meaning 'bloodsucking creatures'.
10. Only in America... do they have drive-up ATM machines with Braille lettering. 

Why the sun lightens our hair, but darkens our skin?
Why women can't put on mascara with their mouth closed?
Why don't you ever see the headline "Psychic Wins Lottery"?
Why is "abbreviated" such a long word?
Why is it that doctors call what they do "practice"?
Why is it that to stop Windows 98, you have to click on "Start"?
Why is lemon juice made with artificial flavor, and dishwashing liquid made with real lemons?
Why is the man who invests all your money called a broker?
Why is the time of day with the slowest traffic called rush hour?
Why isn't there mouse-flavored cat food?
When dog food is new and improved tasting, who tests it?
Why didn't Noah swat those two mosquitoes?
Why do they sterilize the needle for lethal injections?
Why don't sheep shrink when it rains?
Why are they called apartments when they are all stuck together?

You know that indestructible black box that is used on airplanes? Why don't they make the whole plane out of that stuff?
If con is the opposite of pro, is Congress the opposite of progress?
If flying is so safe, why do they call the airport the terminal?

In case you needed further proof that the human race is doomed through stupidity, here are some actual label instructions on consumer goods:
On a Sears hairdryer: Do not use while sleeping. (and that's the only time I have to work on my hair).
On a bag of Fritos: ..You could be a winner! No purchase necessary. Details inside. (the shoplifter special)?
On a bar of Dial soap: "Directions: Use like regular soap." (and that would be how???....)
On some Swanson frozen dinners: "Serving suggestion: Defrost." (but, it's "just" a suggestion).
On Tesco's Tiramisu dessert (printed on bottom): "Do not turn upside down." (well...duh, a bit late, huh)!
On Marks & Spencer Bread Pudding: "Product will be hot after heating." (...and you thought????...)
On packaging for a Rowenta iron: "Do not iron clothes on body." (but wouldn't this save me more time)?
On Boot's Children Cough Medicine: "Do not drive a car or operate machinery after taking this medication." (We could do a lot to reduce the rate of construction accidents if we could just get those 5-year-olds with head-colds off those forklifts.)
On Nytol Sleep Aid: "Warning: May cause drowsiness." (and...I'm taking this because???....) 
On most brands of Christmas lights: "For indoor or outdoor use only." (as opposed to...what)? 
On a Japanese food processor: "Not to be used for the other use." (now, somebody out there, help me on this. I'm a bit curious.)
On Sunsbury's peanuts: "Warning: contains nuts." (talk about a news flash)
On an American Airlines packet of nuts: "Instructions: Open packet, eat nuts." (Step 3: maybe, uh...fly Delta?)
On a child's superman costume: "Wearing of this garment does not enable you to fly." (I don't blame the company. I blame the parents for this one.)
On a Swedish chain saw: "Do not attempt to stop chain with your hands or genitals." (..was there a lot of this happening somewhere?)

[thanks to Mala and Donna Chizek for this one]

Computer viruses cross picture barrier

WASHINGTON (AP) A new computer virus is the first ever to infect picture files, an anti-virus firm reported [last] Thursday, making sharing family photos on the Internet a potentially dangerous activity.

The virus, dubbed Perrun, is not currently infecting computers but worries anti-virus experts because it is the first to cross from program infection into data files, long considered safe from malicious data.

"Our concern is more for what might be coming," said Vincent Gullotto, head anti-virus researcher at McAfee Security. "Potentially, no file type could be safe."

Until now, viruses infected program files that can be run on their own. Data files, like movies, music, text and pictures, were safe from infection. While earlier viruses deleted or modified data files, Perrun is the first to infect them.

Perrun still needs some tweaking to become dangerous. The virus arrives via e-mail or a floppy disk as an executable file. Security experts always warn against opening programs sent as e-mail attachments.

Once run, the file drops an "extractor" component onto the victim's hard drive. When a computer user clicks on a picture file with the extension .JPG a common picture file found on the Web it is infected before it appears. Because the picture displays normally, Gullotto said, the victim may not know there's anything wrong.

In its current form, an infected JPG file sent to a friend or placed on a Web site isn't dangerous without the extractor file. But Gullotto said there's no reason a virus writer couldn't stuff the entire virus code into the JPG, making the picture file a virus itself.

That evolution should make computer users think twice about sending pictures or any other media over the Internet, Gullotto said.

"I think there's a possibility that this could change the playing field," he said. "Going forward, we may have to rethink about distributing JPGs."

McAfee researchers received the virus from its creator. Gullotto declined to identify the author, and McAfee anti-virus software can detect and remove Perrun.

Perrun is known as a proof-of-concept virus, and does not cause damage. Gullotto said he fears that virus writers may use Perrun as a template to create a more destructive version.

[Note to self: keep McAfee! - DP]

15 new planets. Hints of solar system like ours spotted.

One of the new planets orbits the star 55 Cancri in the constellation Cancer. It is the same size as Jupiter but, more importantly, is the same distance from its star - about 512 million miles. It also has a fairly circular orbit. Previously identified extrasolar planets have been much closer to their stars - around 10 million miles - and in elliptical orbits unlike those of the planets in our Solar System.

Another of the 15 new planets is the smallest ever detected. It orbits the star HD49674 in the constellation Auriga. It's very close to its star - 20 times closer than Earth is to the Sun - but is about the same size as Saturn. The planets were identified by the Doppler wobble of their stars, detected by telescopes in Australia and California. Astronomers infer a planet's size and orbiting distance from how it distorts the different wavelengths of light released by its star.

Astronomers have discovered a planetary system around another star that is similar in scale to our Solar System. It reminds them of home, say the researchers.


INSATIABLE DRIVE: Suspicious employees at a grocery store in Mebane, N.C., called police about a pickup truck driving around their parking lot. When the driver saw the police approaching, he fled. Officers chased him around the parking lot at 40 mph. When he finally stopped, "he kept sticking his hands out the window to show us that he didn't have a weapon," an officer said. "We just couldn't tell exactly what it was he was doing." At least, not until he got out, when officers realized Eldridge Freeman Jr., 27, was trying to get dressed during the pursuit. "He had managed to get his T-shirt partially on, but that was basically all he was wearing," the officer said. "We also noticed that Mr. Freeman's hands and mid-section were both covered in Vaseline."
(Burlington Times-News) ...Not to mention his stick shift.

DRIVEN II: As cab driver Mitchell J. Lewis Jr., 49, drove in his cab to Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans, La., he made a phone call. To the FBI. Agents say he warned them he was on the way to "cause trouble" with a gun at the airport "in the name of Saddam Hussein." When stopped at the airport, Lewis pulled out a BB gun and a knife, police say. He was quickly subdued and arrested. So what was all the fuss about? He "just wanted to be on TV," he told officers. (New Orleans Times-Picayune) ...With nothing else to do, he'll get tired of TV in 5-10 years.

AND YOU THOUGHT YOUR PLACE WAS CRAPPY: Property developers in London, England, always on the lookout for spots to build homes, have decided to refurbish a 100-year-old public toilet into a housing unit. The four-by-four-meter (13-by-13-foot) building will be expanded to two storeys, and should fetch about 135,000 pounds (US$200,000), local brokers say. "I don't think the fact that it was a loo will put people off," said the developer's spokeswoman. "It has its own front door." (Reuters) ...Though instead of using a key, you get in by dropping a penny into the slot.

THE HORROR, THE HORROR: Britain's Independent Television Commission has ordered Microsoft to pull an ad for its Xbox game console off the air after receiving scores of complaints, mostly from women. The ad shows a screaming woman giving birth; the baby shoots out, smashes through the hospital ward's window, and flies through the air. As the naked boy flies along, he's screaming and ages to an old man, who crashes into a grave. The tag: "Life is Short. Play More." Microsoft said the spot conveyed a "positive statement about life." The ITC said it "did not agree that the advertisement conveyed a positive statement," particularly since the man's screams "throughout his life's journey suggested a traumatic experience." (London Independent) ...Though that's true to people's real life experience with most Microshaft products.

IT'S OFFICIAL -- NOW YOU REALLY HAVE HEARD EVERYTHING: "[Roman Catholic] Priest Pleads Guilty to Making Date-Rape Drug" -- Reuters headline

Mornin', my little Karate Kid:
A friend of mine took his wife to one of those self-defense classes. One of the lessons was eye-gouging. The instructor told the women that if they could get their hands near the attackers face, "Place your thumbs in each of his eyes and push in until his eyes popped out of the sockets."

Then the instructor told them that if getting near the face was not possible try to grab his testicles. The women were instructed to yank down as hard as they could.

Judi, seated in the front row raised her hand and asked, "If we yank hard enough, will that pull his eyes back into their sockets?"

An eccentric philosophy professor gave a one question final exam after an entire semester dealing with a broad array of topics.

The class was already seated and ready to go when the professor picked up his chair, plopped it on his desk and wrote on the board: "Using everything we have learned this semester, prove that this chair does not exist."

Fingers flew, erasers erased, notebooks were filled in furious fashion. Some students wrote over 30 pages in one hour attempting to refute the existence of the chair. One member of the class however, was up and finished in less than a minute.

Weeks later when the grades were posted, the rest of the group wondered how he could have gotten an A when he had barely written anything at all. They found his answer consisted of two words: "What chair?"

A Portal Designed for Librarians to Locate Internet Resources Related to Their Profession. 
The most popular Internet Information site for librarians since 1994.

Although this site is meant primarily for libraries and those who work in them, I've found it to contain one of the best collections of resources since my favorite "All-In-One" went down. One section of the INTERNET LIBRARY FOR LIBRARIANS is "Ready Reference" with Almanacs, Bibliographies, Biographies, Dictionaries/Thesauri/Quotes, Directories, Encyclopedias, Maps/Travel, and News/weather! That alone makes it worth the price of admission (which, by the way is FREE).

InfoWorks Technology Company, the people who maintain this great site, also have a section with some interesting online security software. It's called Privacy Protection & Online Security Software for Consumers. One of the most interesting products they have is called SpyStopper:

1. What is SpyStopper?
When you use your computer and Internet, you may be monitored, tracked, and profiled without your knowledge or explicit permission. Hackers, advertisers, and corporations may use Web bugs, spyware, cookies, worms, advertisements, and scripts to gain access to your information and invade your privacy. SpyStopper is designed to block those devices that are used to track and profile you and protect your privacy.

2. What is Spyware?
Spyware is any software that employs a userís Internet connection in the background to gather and send information about you without your knowledge or explicit permission. SpyStopper blocks more than 800 known spyware devices.

3. What is a Web bug?
It is an invisible graphic image on a Web page that is designed to monitor you without your knowledge. SpyStopper will block those web bugs that may invade your privacy.

4. What are Worms?
They are incoming packets of data that attempt to access your PC through your Internet connection maliciously. SpyStopper blocks Code Red/II/Nimda and any other worm trying to gain access to your PC without your authorization.

5. What are cookies and scripts?
Cookies are small text files transferred to your computer from Web servers. Scripts are segments of code from other parties that may run without your permission. Cookies and scripts are commonly used for tracking and profiling consumers. SpyStopper will block those cookies and scripts that may invade your privacy.

6. Will SpyStopper block all advertisements, cookies, and scripts?
SpyStopper is intelligent and only blocks those suspicious advertisements, cookies and scripts that are intrusive and may cause security and privacy concerns. Its blocking is selective.

7. What are the system requirements?
SpyStopper works with Windows 95/98/Me/NT/2000/XP. On Windows 2000/XP, you need to install SpyStopper in an administrative account.

The only thing I'd change is the simple beep that SpyStopper uses. I'd much prefer something akin to the cacophony that the old WebWasher produced. I always knew it was working because my browsing sounded like a war zone (which it is when you're serious about privacy)!


Not Too Late to Celebrate
By Shannon Cochran

The music was loud; the cocktails were plentiful; the big screen over the dance floor displayed source code streaming by, and underneath people in Linux and EFF t-shirts were getting down. At the San Francisco party marking the release of Mozilla 1.0, nobody seemed to really mind that the project took four years to complete, or that, in the meantime, Internet Explorer claimed 90 percent of the market. 

"Considering the general failure of the dot-com industry," said attendee Dan Sneddon, who was wearing a floppy disk storing Netscape 1.0 on a strap around his neck, "any small successes should be celebrated with absolute fervor." 

The landscape has been pretty bleak for those who, for whatever reason, won't use IE. Netscape displays most pages okay; it also crashes at least once a session, and persists in needling its audience with user-hostile features. Given half a chance, Netscape will litter AOL icons across your desktop, display a Netscape advertising page every time you check your mail, and clog your hard drive with unwelcome programs like Net2Phone ("FREE PC-to-Phone calls anywhere within the US!" they blare. In the fine print: "Free calls placed within the U.S. from your PC to any phone are currently limited to 5 minutes.") 

Then there are the other browsers. Opera sounds nice, but it comes with a price: You can choose to pay either with your money ($39) or with your attention by accepting built-in advertisements [albeit, very small ads - DP]. Linux-based browsers such as Konqueror offer a user interface that, in comparison with Netscape, seems like the soul of sweet relief but there's a significant minority of pages that they simply can't handle properly. Oh, and every now and then, when I don't actually care about seeing any content, I like to browse with Amaya. The W3C's unforgivingly standards-compliant browser renders most pages into an illegible mess, but you do get the satisfaction of knowing that you are, in some abstract and impractical way, right. 

Now, there's also Mozilla. It loads fast and runs clean. It doesn't seem to crash very often. It isn't terribly ugly. It has great cookie management and pop-up window controls. But most importantly, it behaves with what I'd call candor, never taking the sort of liberties with my system that both IE and Netscape have been known to attempt. 

Coincident with Mozilla's arrival, stirrings of rebellion are being felt in the browser world. Rumors persist that AOL will soon drop Internet Explorer within its services, and that Apple is working on a Mozilla- based "iBrowser." And there's also the vast new world of embedded devices to consider: A modular, open source browser like Mozilla might really be able to compete with IE in that space. 

But even if most of the world never discovers it, Mozilla is a good browser. The open source community working at its own pace, to be sure has given us a solid piece of software that fills a real need, and that can be used as a basis for new and exciting projects in the future. 

There's every reason to celebrate that. 


Knowledge comes from without - wisdom comes from within.