Welcome to The Funny/Alerts Newsletter. As I write this it is the Internet's birthday. The global Internet's progenitor was the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET) of the U.S. Department of Defense. It was based on the Interface Message Processor (IMP) and a company called BBN won the contract to develop the IMP-to-IMP subnetwork. BBN did not deliver the first IMP until August 30, 1969; the very first site to receive an IMP was UCLA who had it up and running the following Tuesday, September 2nd.
From that point on, the focus was on electronic "notes" that were originally sent between the designers and operators of the network in it's infancy (about 100 individuals). These people called themselves the Network Working Group. Early on the NWG put out a Request For Comments (RFC) that stated: "The content of a NWG note may be any thought, suggestion, etc..."
Almost apologetically it continues "These standards (or lack of them) are stated explicitly for two reasons. First, there is a tendency to view a written statement as ipso facto authoritative, and we hope to promote the exchange and discussion of considerably less than authoritative ideas. Second, there is a natural hesitancy to publish something unpolished, and we hope to ease this inhibition." (Crocker, RFC 3 - 1969)
This openness led to the free exchange of information and these open principles are what made the development of the Net possible. Statements like the ones contained in RFC 3 are very progressive in their openness. The late 1960's was a time awash in popular protest for freedom of speech and demanding more of a say of how the country is run. The openness contained in trying to develop new technologies fits well with the cry for more democracy which students demanded throughout the country and the world. What is amazing is that the collaboration of the NWG (mostly graduate students) and ARPA (a component of the military), seems to be contrary to the normal atmosphere of the times.
Thankfully, they worked out their differences and strode ahead for the good of all mankind! Open communication is essential to understanding our fellow human beings and the Internet facilitates this in unprecedented ways. As a result of their work you can instantly message someone on the other side of the world AND receive a response in a matter of seconds! Your grandparents probably would have thought this impossible and yet we take it for granted, as if it's always been here.
As Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong once said, "I hear babies cry; I watch them grow. They'll learn much more that I'll ever know. And I think to myself, 'What a wonderful world!'"
Oh, Yeah!

Signed,
Co-Conspirator To Make The World A Better Place

PS
The apologies this week are brought to you directly from Bill Gates. Service Pack 1 for Windows XP was finally released, so (as promised) I plunged in putting Windows XP Pro on my main system and Windows XP Home on the "Multimedia System" in the living room.
The upgrade went well except for a tussle I had with the sound drivers. My main system didn't fair so well (thus the apology). "Nimbus 2001", as it's known by on the network, has a removable hard drive tray making it easy to switch Operating Systems as the need arises. Step one> remove old faithful Windows 98 Second Edition drive and slide in the drive for XPpro. Step two> Install XPpro. Step three> swap W98se back in. Step four> cry when XP "leftovers" on drive D: corrupt W98se on drive C:!
Long story. short... took the system to work thinking that I'd fix it during lunch. Wrong. My schedule was so packed the last week and a half that I finally just brought it home last weekend and re-installed on Sunday. (Saturday was booked also, but that's another story...)

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GRINS & GIGGLES:

Did you see that Wal-Mart has managed to come out in the top spot of the annual Fortune 500 list? With over $220 billion in revenue, Wal-Mart officials concede that it might just be time to upgrade the corporate trailer to a double-wide.

---
About ten to fifteen years ago there was a "scandal" at Buckingham Palace. According to tabloids, a large number of the staff were homosexual. It was all over the news.

At about that same time, the Queen Mum was staying overnight at the palace. She woke up in the middle of the night a little bit thirsty. 

She pulled on the service cord (to ring a bell in the butler's room) so that someone could bring her a glass of water.
(Perhaps a gin and tonic?) No answer. She tried again and again. Still, no answer.

Finally, in frustration, the Queen Mum put on her bathrobe and slippers and walked down to the butler's room. There she found several old men just standing around talking.

Seeing this the Queen Mum said, "Would one of you old queens get THIS old queen a glass of water?"

---
The sailor came home from a secret two year mission to find his wife with a new born baby. Furious, he was determined to track down the father to extract revenge.

"Was it my friend Sam", he demanded.

"No!" his weeping wife replied.

"Was it my friend Jim then?" he asked.

"NO!!!" she said even more upset.

"Well which one of my no good friends did this then?" he asked.

"Don't you think I have any friends of my own?" she snapped.

---
Sheila was having trouble with a particularly stubborn varicose vein. She'd thought about going to the doctor with it, but, almost as she was dialing her family physician she got to thinking that in the last couple of weeks the thing had the ability to forecast the weather. 

When the vein turned more reddish in color and warm to the touch, the weather would be warm. When it turned a little bluish and was more cool to the touch, the weather would be cold.

Finally, she decided not to have the problem "solved." She had become almost dependent on her weather vein.

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CYBERSPACE ALERT:
Web Savvy: Put Some Zip in Your Surfing
Five simple digits can open doors online.
Brad Grimes

I love Web sites that offer great information and ask only for my zip code in return, rather than my name, e-mail address, or some other personally identifiable information. Despite the lack of intimacy, the results are tailored to me--or more specifically, to where I live. Zip codes won't unlock every door online, but many sites let me use them to pinpoint what I need quickly and easily.

Up to Code
I never start a day online without first checking in at Weather.com, where entering my zip code turns up so much great localized information--including golf and boating forecasts, pollen counts, and scrolling severe weather alerts--that talking about the weather is no longer mundane. And in the Indian summer, I jump over to Skeeterbites.com to see if I should pack insect repellent when I step outside.

At some sites I can enter my zip code to find replacements for resources I left behind when I moved into a new home outside Washington, D.C. If I need a contractor to repair some cabinetry, for example, I go to ContractorGuide.com. I've also found ImproveNet to be a big help, but the site also requires data such as cross streets (not names, addresses, or phone numbers, though). To find a lawyer, I go to FindLaw; for doctors, I head to the American Medical Association site. I haven't yet found a tool that I like for locating a dentist near me (though I have found a dentist, rest assured).

My zip code also helps me learn about where I live--or where I might live if I move again. At APBnews.com, I quickly discovered that crime in my zip code is almost nonexistent (although nearby zip codes aren't so lucky). At Yahoo Real Estate, I received a detailed profile of my zip code, including average annual utility costs--very helpful. But the grand daddy of all demographic tools is the U.S. Census Bureau's American FactFinder. Click the link to the 2000 Summary File 1 and choose Detailed Tables or Quick Tables to start exploring the reams of data the census collects about your zip code.

At the end of my day, I just want to relax. So I pop over to TV Guide Online to see what's on my favorite network and cable TV channels. Where else is a detailed guide to eight seasons of "Diff'rent Strokes" just a click away? And if the TV listings are uninspiring, I check Moviefone.com to see what's playing nearby, or Fandango to buy movie tickets for select local theaters.

Of course, when I do go out, I want to make sure I can be reached in case of an emergency--and for a reasonable fee. GetConnected lets you compare wireless phone plans, local phone services, and more.

When offered the choice of giving your name and address or just your zip code, type the five simple digits. You'll save a little time, protect your privacy, and get some great information in return.

Gimme Five: Top Online Learning Sites

·University of Phoenix: A pioneer in online education. Offers degrees in areas like business administration, IT, and education.

·Columbia Interactive: Ivy League university has fee-based online seminars taught by the school's faculty. Semester- length courses require admission and tuition.

·U.C. Berkeley Extension Online: Take courses for continuing education, corporate training, or academic credit. Course selections include computer science, Web design, and e-commerce.

·The Kaplan Colleges: Degree programs in criminal justice and paralegal studies are prominent, as well as business and IT concentrations.

·CyberU: College classes, professional training, and computer software courses under one roof. It's suitable for individuals or businesses.

http://www.weather.com/
http://www.skeeterbites.com/ [map of West Nile virus spread! - DP]
http://contractorguide.com/
http://www.improvenet.com/
http://directory.findlaw.com/
http://www.ama-assn.org/aps/amahg.htm
http://www.apbnews.com/resourcecenter/datacenter/
http://list.realestate.yahoo.com/re/neighbor
http://factfinder.census.gov/
http://tvguide.com/listings
http://moviefone.com/
http://www.fandango.com/
http://www.getconnected.com/
http://online.phoenix.edu/
http://ci.columbia.edu/ci/index.html
http://learn.berkeley.edu/
http://www.kaplancollege.com/
http://www.cyberu.com/

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MEATSPACE ALERT:
West Nile Virus

The West Nile Virus was first detected in New York City in September of 1999. Since then, the disease has been detected many more times throughout the United States and parts of Canada. To date, this disease has been responsible for at least 16 deaths and over 80 severe cases of the disease have been reported in multiple States. The virus is now spreading across the country at an alarming rate. Medical and scientific researchers have discovered birds carrying the disease in most of the States east of the Mississippi River. In addition, experts expect the West Nile Virus will continue to spread throughout the U.S., even as far as California. The West Nile virus is a strain of encephalitis which, when contracted, can cause a fatal inflammation of brain cells. The Culex species of the mosquito that carries the virus spreads the disease to mammals and birds, including crows and gulls. There is no evidence so far that the virus can be transmitted from person to person, animal to animal, or animal to person. 

Symptoms
It takes between five and fifteen days from the time of infection for an individual to experience the onset of disease symptoms. Most infections are mild. Symptoms include fever, headache and body aches, while some experience skin rash and swollen lymph glands. Severe infection may be marked by headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, paralysis and, rarely, death. Persons older than 50 years in age have the highest risk of severe disease and should take extra precautions to prevent exposure to mosquitoes. 

For more information on West Nile Virus please visit the following web sites:
http://www.cdc.gov
http://www.nwhc.usgs.gov. 

Mosquito Defense Tips
Don't let bugs ruin your backyard picnic! Create a "Bite-Free" backyard. 

Mosquitoes start life as aquatic creatures, and prefer to breed in still, almost stagnant, bodies of water such as marshes, swamps and small ponds. But being tiny creatures, they don't need lots of space for egg laying -- usually, even the tiniest pool of standing water will suffice. A shallow puddle, a tire swing, an infant's pool, a crook in a tree, an empty bucket or an old tin can are just a few examples of potential mosquito hatcheries. As a result, one of the best preventive measures you can take is to eliminate as many of their breeding sites as possible. This will make your lawn less attractive to mating adults, and thus significantly reduce both the adult and pre-adult (or larval) population. In general, the less junk you have lying around -- and therefore waiting to collect rainwater- the less inviting your property will be to the egg-laying females that inflict bites. More specifically, we recommend that you... 

1) Keep your gutters clear and free flowing. 
2) Keep child-size swimming pools drained when not in use. 
3) Continually refresh and replenish the water in swimming pools and birdbaths. 
4) Store unused flowerpots, watering cans, and empty plastic containers in your garage or shed. 
5) Keep your lawn and shrubs trimmed to minimize breeding habitat for mosquitoes. 
6) Level your yard in low spots to eliminated puddles and pooling water. 
7) Remove old stumps. 
8) Use a permethrin-based mosquito spray, such as Cutter® Bug Free Backyard, on your lawn, trees, shrubs, and flowers. 
9) Apply a DEET-based insect repellent, like Cutter®, to exposed skin. An effective repellent will contain 7% to 35% DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide).

·Cutter® Skinsations has a 7% DEET content; protects up to 2 hours 
·Cutter® "All Family" has 7% DEET content; protects up to 2 hours 
·Cutter® Unscented has 10% DEET content; protects up to 4 hours 
·Cutter® Backwoods has a 23% DEET content; protects up to 8 hours 
·Cutter® Outdoorsman has a 30% DEET content; protects up to 10 hours

10) Spray clothing with repellents containing permethrin or DEET, as mosquitoes may bite through thin clothing. 
11) Whenever you use an insecticide or insect repellent, be sure to read and follow the manufacturer's DIRECTIONS FOR USE, as printed on the product. 
12) Vitamin B and "ultrasonic" devices have NOT been proven effective in preventing mosquito bites.

Note: If you have recently been bitten by mosquitoes or ticks and are experiencing symptoms related to the diseases discussed in this web site, you should consult a physician as soon as possible. 

===
TRUE STORY:

LONESOME GUN: Former pop star Adam Ant has pleaded guilty to making threats. The 47-year-old Brit appeared in court under his real name, Stuart Goddard, and will be sentenced later. The incident occurred when Ant walked into the Prince of Wales pub in London, England, wearing a cowboy costume. Pub regulars laughed at the getup and hummed the theme to "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly". Outraged, Ant stormed out and smashed the pub's window. When several patrons chased after him, he threatened them with a starter pistol. (Reuters) ...Where are the paparazzi when you need them?

AND THE WINNER IS: A radio station promotional contest in Toledo, Ohio, awarded a car to Brian Root, 44, after he managed to keep touching the car longer than 49 other contestants -- six days. WKKO then learned that Root was not one of its listeners, nor even an area resident. Root lives in Mobile, Ala., with his mother. He travels around the country to compete in such contests and has won 16 of them since 1984, earning him about $160,000 by selling the cars. "Who would have thought of something such as someone who travels from city to city to participate in these kind of contests?" said WKKO general manager John Potter. Contest organizers say they plan to change the rules to prohibit "full- time contestants." (Toledo Blade) ...Root's next career: suing contest organizers for "restraint of trade."

KEEP OFF THE GRASS: Facing the worst drought in years, many cities in Colorado have issued outdoor watering restrictions. Which has led to people reporting neighbors who water their yards to the police. Officers in Morrison were called out on one such case. "We went over there to issue a warning," says officer Chris Poundstone. "No one answered the door, but we noticed a garden hose in the front yard, stretched from the spigot around to the garden." They followed it and found the dirt in back was "nice and damp" -- and then noticed what was planted there: marijuana. They retreated and waited for backup and a search warrant, and arrested the woman at the house on charges of marijuana cultivation. (Denver Post) ...Marijuana cultivation: six months in jail. Watering on a Wednesday: six years.

RHYME RAGE: Lothian University Hospitals Trust in Glasgow, Scotland, decided employees were stressed, so a stress counselor started sending all 3,000 employees an e-mail "poem a day". Would-be poet Lynn Ogilvie then asked workers to tell her what they thought of her e-mails. "We have chosen haiku, as the poems are very wee, with the intention of creating a moment of pleasure," she wrote. "Do these tiny poems create a moment of pleasure or irritation?" The hospital e-mail system almost crashed under the deluge of replies pleading for the poems to stop. "A big poem, A wee poem, Ah'm sick o'em!" wrote one. "Not a haiku, Does not scan, Just a plea from an overworked man" wrote another. So did the hospital cancel the scheme? No: administrators have warned the staff to stop complaining or they will lose their e-mail access. (Glasgow Daily Record) ...Well, at least now they know the source of their stress.

NOW THERE'S A GUY WHO CAN GET THINGS DONE: "Dead Dictator Wanted as President" -- Reuters headline 

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FUN SITE:
Behind the Name 

One of the first things new parents start thinking about is "What should I name my future mini-me?" Well, you find some cool names and that's when the second question hits you: "What do these names mean?" On Behindthename.com, you can look up the meanings and origins of many different first names. You can search for names based on gender, or you can even search for names that contain a certain word in their meaning. Hey, I just found out that Donald means "world rule" from the Gaelic. Don't worry though, I won't let it go to my head - and neither will my wife! If you are in the market for baby names then you will like the "Fun Stuff" section where you can find matching names for twins. There is even a message board section, where you can enlist the help of others.
With this site available to you, you'll never have to settle for "Geek Junior"... 

http://www.behindthename.com/ 

[LOGAN m,f Scottish, English
Pronounced: LO-gan
From a surname which was originally derived from a Scottish place name meaning "little hollow" in Scottish Gaelic.]

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GREAT UTIL:
Outlook Express
from PC World.com

OE: Log Out, Don't Just Exit
In the February issue, PC World gave Microsoft's Outlook Express 6 the Best Bet rating among e-mail clients ["Browsing and Beyond"]. However, I could not find any way to log off my identity after a given session--so when I close OE, anyone could open the program again and read all the e-mail in that account. Is there a better way to log off an identity than restarting Windows?
Signed, Anand Narayan, via the Internet

There are many reasons why I think Outlook Express is a good e-mail program, and an important one is its unique ability not only to manage multiple e-mail accounts, but also to allow multiple users (families, for example) to maintain individual, private in-boxes and address lists. The feature you are looking for is there, though it's easy to miss.

To log off an Outlook Express identity, choose File, Exit and Log Off Identity. You can also log off by selecting File, Switch Identities and clicking the Log Off Identity button.

But don't allow your paranoia to subside completely. The strength of Outlook Express' log-on security depends greatly on which version of Windows you use and on how your version of Windows is configured. If you're using Windows 95, 98, or ME, it's a trivial matter for knowledgeable snoops to view your in-box. So if you want to protect your e-mail and other files from the prying eyes of coworkers, curious teenagers or the office janitor, you need the stronger log-on security, encryption and file access controls that are offered by Windows XP Professional and Windows 2000 Professional.

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FAMOUS TRANSITION:
Stanley R. Greenberg.

A screen writer, Greenberg invented what he called the "theater of fact" -- what is better known as the "docudrama": documentary-like dramatizations of historical events. His first was 1973's "Pueblo", about the capture of an American spy ship off North Korea. Better known was 1974's "The Missiles of October", about the 13-day Cuban Missile Crisis. "If the only purpose of historical drama is to record history, to be illustrated textbooks, then there is no reason to dramatize the material," Greenberg once said. "It is better to do them as straight documentaries. But once you get into the human dimension, once you get into the idea of the individual as a hero who is bound by some kind of moral or ethical code, then you have to dramatize it." He also wrote the teleplay for "Blind Ambition", the 1979 story of the Watergate scandal based on John Dean's book, and the screenplay for 1973's "Soylent Green". Greenberg died at home on August 25 from a brain tumor. He was 74.

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QUICK WIT:

We think and behave within the boundaries of our beliefs. The key, then, to fulfilling our potential without limitations is to master our beliefs, to master our minds.

_