Welcome to The Funny/Alerts Newsletter. Finally, a whole weekend to ourselves! Last Saturday was mayhem. I awoke at 4am to drag myself out to The Great Reno Balloon Race. Fortunately, the night before, Anne had reminded me to dress in layers. As I left I noticed that it was a balmy 44 outside and, so the weatherman said, it was expected to reach over 80 degrees. What a great wife I have.
I arrived at 5am and the park was already so packed that the parking was almost a quarter mile away! As I headed out I noticed a spot just past the corner and cooly whipped the Sienna into it. Then I grabbed my lunch box and the bag of flyers and headed into the park. Oh, did I mention that I was manning the booth for Disability Resources Inc.? They're a non-profit organization that assists the handicapped and their care-givers with programs Job Development, Supportive Living Arrangements and Respite.
It seemed like the right thing to do the week before, especially since they'd elected me VP at the last board meeting. But, peeking out from inside my half-opened eyelids, I was wondering about my own sanity. Then again... I was crazy, I was in the right place!
The "booth" turned out to be a table inside the KTVN, Ch.4, broadcast area. What great positioning! I was over-looking the whole field of balloons, just yards away, with people flowing past. All morning I handed out flyers about D.R.I. and $1-off coupons for our Northern Nevada Computer Show. When things began to slow down, KTVN started wrapping things up and put their over-stock of coffee, OJ and "Mickey-D" breakfasts out on the table. "Hey! Would you like some FREE coffee?" "By the way... how'd you like a $1-off coupon to get into the Computer Show today?" I hawked it all... ;)
By 9:30am the park was nearly empty and the balloon "hounds" where drifting towards the horizon, chasing the "hare" balloon. I packed what was left of my hand-outs and headed to the Reno-Sparks Convention Center. I walked in and we had people there! The place wasn't packed, but people were milling around and nearly every booth had someone asking questions about the product or service offered!
I added some signs outside and then went to work. I took off my ComputerLand hat and left my Staff ID behind, playing "shill" in the crowd. I visited every booth and engaged them in Geek-Speak over their wares. Needless to say, I was in my element and having the time of my life! I plied them with questions while collecting some schotky's (pen's, squeeze-apples and other freebies). RAID-arrays, custom PC cases, round IDE cables, left-handed joysticks... we chatted it up. 
I have to say that my favorite vendor was this CodeGnome. This guy had his laptop set up with a wireless card and was tapped into the Charter Broadband wireless network on the other side of the room! [remember in August F/AN #020806 I told you how un-secure wireless networks were?] I sent people over to all of the vendors, depending on what they were looking for, but I made a point of sending my friends to CodeGnome!
All of the vendors seemed to be having a good time and the public was wide-eyed at all of the technology. Just wait 'till next year

Co-Conspirator To Make The World A Better Place



A woman was at her hairdresser's getting her hair styled prior to a trip to Rome with her husband. She mentioned the trip to her hairdresser, Chris, who responded, "Rome? Why would anyone want to go there? It's crowded, dirty and full of Italians.
You're crazy to go to Rome. So, how are you getting there?"
"We're taking Continental," was the reply. "We got a great rate!"
"Continental?" exclaimed the hairdresser. "That's a terrible airline. Their planes are old, their flight attendants are ugly, and they're always late. So, where are you staying in Rome?"
"We'll be at this exclusive little place over on Rome's Tiber River called Teste..."
"Don't go any further. I know that place. Everybody thinks its gonna be something special and exclusive, but it's really a dump, the worst hotel in the city! The rooms are small, the service is surly and they're overpriced. So, whatcha doing when you get there?"
"We're going to go to see the Vatican and we hope to see the Pope."
"That's rich," laughed the hairdresser. "You and a million other people trying to see him. He'll look the size of an ant. Boy, good luck on this lousy trip of yours. You're going to need it."

A month later the woman again came into the salon. The hairdresser asked her about her trip to Rome. 
"It was wonderful," answered the woman. "Not only were we on time in one of Continental's brand new planes, but it was overbooked and they bumped us up to first class. The food and wine were wonderful, and I had a handsome 28-year-old steward who waited on me hand and foot. And the hotel -- it was great! They'd just finished a $5 million remodeling job and now it's a jewel, the finest hotel in the city! They, too, were overbooked, so they apologized and gave us their owner's suite at no charge!"
"Well," muttered the hairdresser, "that's all well and good, but I know you didn't get to see the Pope."
"Actually, we were quite lucky, because as we toured the Vatican, a Swiss Guard tapped me on the shoulder and explained that the Pope likes to meet some of the visitors and if I'd be so kind as to step into his private room and wait, the Pope would personally greet me. Sure enough, five minutes later, the Pope walked through the door and shook my hand! I knelt down and he spoke a few words to me."
"Oh, really? What'd he say?"
He said, "Holy Mother of God, where'd you get that AWEFULL hairdo?"

[thanks to Bob Behling for this one]

A dyslexic agnostic with insomnia once stayed awake all night wondering if there was a dog. 

Sniffing, war-chalking and more: A wireless vocabulary evolves

There's war-driving, war- flying, war-walking and war-jamming. "Sniffing" for 802.11b, or Wi-Fi, wireless LAN access points (AP) seems to be gaining popularity among a small niche of hobbyists, who also enjoy posting news of their exploits online.

Since wireless LAN APs broadcast in the unlicensed 2.4-GHz frequency band, they are easy to pick up by anyone who shells out less than $100 for a wireless LAN card at an electronic discounter and spends roughly the same amount on a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver and free sniffing software from the Web.

Most wireless LAN sniffers are hobbyists who like to engage in electronic scavenger hunts only in their local area. But, analysts warn, the same tools used by hobbyists are now readily available to hackers and corporate or foreign espionage agents looking to exploit unprotected networks.

The result: a new vocabulary (with its roots in a 20-year-old movie) that enterprises would do well to learn. The new terms being bandied about now include the following:

Wireless LAN war drivers routinely cruise their immediate areas in cars equipped with laptops loaded with a wireless LAN card, an external high-gain antenna and a GPS receiver. The wireless LAN card and GPS receiver feed signals into freeware, such as NetStumbler, which detects APs and their identifiers along with their GPS-derived locations. NetStumbler also automatically detects whether or not built-in Wi-Fi Wired Equivalent Protocol (WEP) is turned on or off. More malevolent war-drivers may use Kismet, a tool designed to crack WEP. 

The term war-driving is derived from the "war-dialing" exploits of a teenage hacker in the 1983 movie WarGames who has his computer randomly dial hundreds of numbers and eventually winds up tapping into a nuclear command and control system. As recently as May, a U.S. Defense Department agency was found to be vulnerable by a "sniffer" who found a security hole in the agency's wireless network.

Think of it as war-driving, but on foot instead of in a car. The NetStumbler Web site offers MiniStumbler software for use on Pocket PC hardware, saving war-walkers from toting around laptops. War-walkers like to use MiniStumbler and Pocket PCs to sniff shopping malls and big-box retail stores.

Just as the name implies, it's sniffing for wireless networks from the air. The same equipment is used, but from a private plane. Just last month, a Perth, Australia war-flier picked up e-mails and Internet Relay Chat sessions from an altitude of 1,500 feet on a war-flying trip.

Taking over a network connected to an unsecured AP and using it to inject spam into the Internet. Although there has been much speculation about wireless war-spamming in the hacker community of late, no egregious instances have yet been reported.

War-jacking or Air-jacking
Knocking out a real AP with a denial-of-service attack and then setting up a new AP that will serve as a new hub to devices that homed on the legitimate AP.

The systematic practice of marking and mapping nonsecured Wi-Fi 802.11b wireless APs throughout many of the nation's major metropolitan areas. The FBI this summer sent an e-mail to private-sector members of the local FBI Infragard chapter in Pittsburgh warning them of war-chalking -- the physical marking of a building or facility to denote an open wireless AP [access point].

Restaurants Say No To Biotech Seafood

The idea of genetically engineered seafood is leaving a bad taste in many people's mouths.

About 200 restaurants, grocers and seafood distributors pledged Wednesday not to buy, serve or sell fish created by biotechnology, joining some environmental groups and fishermen in opposing genetically engineered seafood.

"Scientists and corporations are playing with genetics without knowing the consequences," said Eric Ripert, executive chef of New York restaurant Le Bernadin.

Among those signing the pledge were a dozen Alaskan seafood distributors and two dozen organic-food-oriented grocery stores and chains, including Whole Foods Market, which has more than 130 stores. Others included restaurants from Berkeley's Chez Panisse to Washington, D.C.'s Citronelle and celebrity chefs such as Thomas Keller of Yountville's French Laundry and David Pasternack of New York's Esca.

The fish pledge was organized by three anti-biotechnology groups: Center for Food Safety, Clean Water Action and Friends of the Earth.

The Food and Drug Administration is considering an application to market Atlantic salmon genetically engineered to grow twice as fast as salmon raised on "fish farms." A decision isn't expected for more than two years because the company must conduct environmental safety tests.

An FDA-commissioned study issued last month concluded that engineered fish could pose significant environmental issues if they are released into the wild and breed with native species.

Executives with Aqua Bounty Farms of Waltham, Mass., which is developing the engineered salmon, said the attacks are unfair because environmental studies have not been completed.

"What's disappointing is that their objective here is to avoid finding out the facts," said Aqua Bounty vice president Joseph McGonigle. "This is tantamount to prior restraint."

Aqua Bounty has developed an Atlantic salmon spliced with genes from Chinook salmon and a fish known as the ocean pout. The engineered fish produce growth hormones year-round instead of just the summer months.

McGonigle said the company's lab-grown salmon all will be infertile females, eliminating the risk of escaped fish crossbreeding with native species.

Many environmental groups and West Coast fisheries that depend on wild salmon catches oppose biotechnology fish because of crossbreeding worries.



More than 300 field trials of genetically engineered biopharmaceuticals crops already conducted in secret locations in the US.

The Genetically Engineered Food Alert Coalition, composed of consumer and environmental groups in the US released today a new report entitled "Manufacturing Drugs and Chemicals in Crops: Biopharming Poses New Threats to Consumers, Farmers, Food Companies and the Environment", which alerts about the dangers of a new form of genetic contamination produced by genetically engineered biopharmaceutical crops

The new crops, already planted in over 300 field trials at secret locations nationwide, include plants that produce an abortion-inducing chemical, growth hormones, a blood clotter, and trypsin, an allergenic enzyme.

"Just one mistake by a biotech company and we'll be eating other people's prescription drugs in our corn flakes," said Larry Bohlen, Director of Health and Environment Programs at Friends of the Earth US, a member of the Coalition. "The USDA should prohibit the planting of food crops engineered with drugs and chemicals to protect the food supply from contamination."

The National Academy of Sciences in the US warns: "…it is possible that crops transformed to produce pharmaceutical or other industrial compounds might mate with plantations grown for human consumption, with the unanticipated result of novel chemicals in the human food supply." And the editors of Nature Biotechnology recently warned: "Current gene-containment strategies cannot work reliably in the field."

The majority of engineered biopharmaceuticals and chemicals are in corn, a prolific pollinator. ProdiGene, the company with the most plantings of drug and chemical-producing plants, projects that 10% of the corn crop will be devoted to biopharm production by 2010. StarLink corn, planted on less than 1% of total US corn acreage, contaminated hundreds of food products and corn seed stock with a potentially allergenic protein despite the use of gene containment measures. Far from supporting containment strategies such as buffer areas, Anthony Laos, ProdiGene's CEO, wrote farmers in 2001 that: "We will be dealing with these distances until we can gain regulatory approval to lessen or abandon these requirements altogether." Some companies also propose extracting drugs or chemicals from plants, then selling the remainder. Incomplete extraction would mean drugs or chemicals in food or feed.

In a letter to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the coalition called for an end to open air cultivation of crops engineered to produce prescription drugs or industrial chemicals. The coalition proposed that the USDA permit only contained cultivation of non- food plants under the same controlled circumstances as other drug production.


Once released, even in small quantities, widespread contamination by engineered corn can occur, as documented both in the U.S. and in Mexico. StarLink was planted on only 0.5% of all acreage but contaminated at least 10% of the entire corn crop in 2000. The losses to American farmers have been estimated to be as high as $1 billion. The appearance of genetically engineered traits in remote regions of Mexico, which has banned the cultivation of engineered corn, also shows how easily contamination can occur. The source is thought by some scientists to be American imports for animal feed or food processing thought to be inadvertently planted or spilled during transportation.

Fractalus v4.02 [367k] W9x/W2k/XP 

Fractalus is a freeware true color high resolution fractal generator for 32-bit Windows. Fractalus generates Mandelbrot and Julia type fractals which can be saved as JPG or BMP file. It also includes a slide show option and an option to create fractal AVI movies. The program offers 27 different drawing styles, pallete manipulation, right-click zooming, and more. 

E-Mage for Web v1.0.23 [754k] W9x/W2k/XP

E-Mage for Web is a simple utility for creating HTML image galleries from pictures on your computer. It automatically generates pages with thumbnail images that are hyper linked to the original, larger image. You can customize several parameters such as thumbnail dimensions, compression quality, border color and thickness and more. The program comes with several templates to choose from and you can edit them to fit your needs or create completely new templates, using regular HTML documents that match your site design. Even though this program may not appear overly feature packed at first, the high level of customization and ease of use make it a good choice for experienced web masters. 


Question: I am running Microsoft Office XP and I get the following error message when I try to import an image from my scanner: "An error occurred while acquiring the image." I know the scanner works fine, because I can scan using other programs like Adobe Photoshop. Why am I getting this error and can I fix it? 

Answer: Devices, like scanners and cameras, use something called a TWAIN driver and that, in a way, is what is causing this problem. The Insert command wants to use something called the Windows Imaging Acquisition (WIA) driver. This causes the problem, because your scanner's TWAIN drivers aren't being used. There is a way around this, though! Just choose Custom Insert instead of Insert and that will use your manufacturer-supplied or TWAIN drivers to obtain the image. (You can choose Custom Insert by navigating your menus in the following manner: Insert | Picture | From scanner or camera | Insert picture from scanner or camera, then choose "Custom Insert" instead of "Insert.") When your scanner software opens, make sure you choose "Return to Microsoft Word" (or any other Office application). This error can also affect people using Office 2000. 

Whose Body Is It Anyway?

Karen and Mike Ossip's second child, Alison, was born with a fatal brain disorder called Canavan disease. She lived only four years. "It is extremely painful to watch this," her mother says. "To see your child just disintegrate before your eyes."

But after Alison died, research initiated by other Canavan families paid off. They donated money and their children's blood and tissue to start a research project on the disease. A screening test was developed, and work began on a cure.

Yet, as CBS News Correspondent Sharyl Attkisson reports, without the families even knowing it, their children's genetic material was patented by one of the research partners, Miami Children's Hospital. 

The hospital then imposed strict controls on the screening tests, and demanded royalties for each test performed. "For somebody to say in the name of the almighty dollar that they are going to limit the number of people that can have access to this test, to me is just outrageous," says Mike Ossip.

Miami Children's Hospital argues it spent more on research than it's likely to ever get back, and that research will be stifled if there's no way to recoup costs. But it's not the first time the emerging market for genes and body parts has raised the ethical question - are the patients' best interests taking a backseat to their profit-potential? 

The landmark case in this new frontier was that of John Moore and his amazing spleen. Back in the 1980s, doctors treating Moore for cancer at the University of California discovered he had spleen cells that could have special curative powers. So special, the university patented them and made millions selling the rights to a biotech company, all without Moore's knowledge or consent. 

Eventually, Moore found out his cells had been sold and took his case to attorney Chris Angelo. "The crux of the John Moore case is that a patient owns his own body, his own tissues, his own DNA," says Angelo.

The California Supreme Court disagreed, saying what happened to Moore might be unethical, but it wasn't illegal. People, the court ruled, have no property rights to their own bodies. [read that line again! - DP]

Moore spent the next decade fighting for patients' rights, before he died last year. What bothers his daughter Kara Saxby today is how his doctors secretly viewed him as a commodity. "They seemed to be so concerned with his health and yet they were still just taking his blood and doing things with it that he didn't know about," says Saxby.

The families who provided their children's genetic material for Canavan research are suing Miami Children's Hospital for breach of informed consent. The Ossips are watching closely. "Obviously people are entitled to make money, but there's got to be a limit," Karen Ossip says. "This is not right."

But it's today's bio-reality. With the increasing value of our parts and virtually no protection from the government or courts, there's no way to know whether you're viewed as patient or commodity.


[hmmm... Can I patent myself? I'm already copyrighted <see the last paragraph, below> - DP]

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 

A copyright provides the author of a creative work (originally books, but now many other creations such as movies, recorded music, software, and drawings) the right to control the reproduction of the work for a set period of time. This usually includes the exclusive right to make and sell copies of the work, to make derivative works, and to publicly perform the work; or to license those rights to others. In contrast to a patent which grants a monopoly right to the use of an invention, a copyright covers only a specific work of creative expression. Copyrights may be bought, sold or licensed in the same way as other forms of intellectual property. The original owner of the intellectual property may be the employer of the actual author rather than the author himself if the work is a "work for hire". Copyrights are generally enforced by the owner in a civil law court, but there are also criminal infringement statutes. 

In general, the owner of a physical copy of a copyrighted work (book, CD, etc,) can do what they please with the copy, even without owning the copyright, so long as they do not produce additional copies or modified works; but there are exceptions: public performances (which are considered a form of copy) or electronic copy. In the US this is known as the First Sale Doctrine, and was established in the US court system to clarify the legality of reselling books in used book stores. 

Not all copying is restricted; the fair use doctrine allows limited copying of portions of a copyrighted work, e.g., for criticism, satire or educational purposes. 

Many European countries further provide for "moral" rights, which are rights in addition to copyright possessed by an author, such as the right to have their work acknowledged and not be disparaged. While copyright is normally assigned or licensed to the publisher, authors generally retain their moral rights. 

Some European countries also provide for artist resale rights, which mean that artists are entitled to a portion of the appreciation of the value of their work each time it is sold. 

While governments had previously granted monopoly rights to publishers to sell printed works, the modern concept of copyright originated in 1710 with the British Statute of Anne. This statute first recognized that authors, rather than publishers, should be the primary beneficiary of such laws, and it included protections for consumers of printed work ensuring that publishers could not control their use after sale. It also limited the duration of such exclusive rights to 28 years, after which all works would pass into the public domain. 

The Berne Convention of 1886 first established the recognition of copyrights between sovereign nations. (Copyright protection was also provided by the Universal Copyright Convention of 1952, but that convention is today is largely of historical interest.) Under the Berne convention, copyright is granted automatically to creative works; an author does not have to "register" or "apply for" copyright protection. As soon as the work is "fixed", that is, written or recorded on some physical medium, its author is automatically granted all exclusive rights to the work and any derivative works unless and until the author explicitly disclaims them, or until the copyright expires. 



The idea that life and death are separate is the reasoning of dreams, deluded and inverted. If when wide awake we examine our true nature, we will find no beginning that requires our being born and no end that requires our dying. What we will find is the essence of life, which cannot be burned by apocalyptic flames or worn away by flood or cut down by sword or pierced by arrow. It is not too large to enter the seed of a flower without the seed expanding. It is not too small to fill the entire universe without the universe contracting.