Welcome to The Funny/Alerts Newsletter. Seems like I touched a few heart chords with the last newsletter. Several people have said that they didn't know what to do about "all the apathy" they see in the kids. Thankfully, they're going to "be a monkey" (as one of them put it) and start their ripple. Generally speaking, each of them has decided to "walk the talk" of their higher principals, holding themselves up to the yardstick of their beliefs.
As diverse as our nation is, we can do it... we MUST do it, for the children. No longer do we have the luxury of pushing these issues off onto the surrogate parents that are babysitters, day care workers and school district employees. There is not enough time in their day to give the one-on-one time required to raise a child into an upstanding member of our society. That responsibility ultimately belongs to those who brought them into this world.
Like a good captain takes ownership of any problems encountered by the crew, parents are beginning to understand how important it is to be truly involved in the raising of their children. Setting better examples, making better decisions and leading better lives can only have a beneficial affect on their children in the long run. After all, that's what it's all about... the life-long relationship. You're relationship with them and their relationship with others throughout life.
Remember what Edmund Burke said: "All that's necessary for the forces of evil to win in the world is for enough good men to do nothing."

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

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GRINS & GIGGLES:

Larry the Cable Guy said his girlfriend was mad at him. "She wanted me to rent that 'Scent of a Woman' movie, but I couldn't find it. So I just brought home 'A Fish Called Wanda.'"

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Random Thoughts:

Home is where the house is.

Often, when I am reading a good book, I stop and thank my teacher. That is, I used to. Until she got an unlisted number.

It would be terrible if the Red Cross Bloodmobile got into an accident. No, wait. That would be good because if anyone needed it, the blood would be right there.

Give me the strength to change the things I can, the grace to accept the things I cannot, and a great big bag of money.

Think of the biggest number you can. Now add five. Then, imagine if you had that many Twinkies. Wow, that's five more than the biggest number you could come up with.

If we could just get everyone to close their eyes and visualize world peace for an hour, imagine how serene and quiet it would be until the looting started.

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THINGS THAT ARE DIFFICULT TO SAY WHEN YOU'RE DRUNK:

Indubitably
Innovative
Preliminary
Proliferation

THINGS THAT ARE VERY DIFFICULT TO SAY WHEN YOU'RE DRUNK:

Specificity
British Constitution
Passive-aggressive disorder
Loquacious Transubstantiate

THINGS THAT ARE DOWNRIGHT IMPOSSIBLE TO SAY WHEN YOU'RE DRUNK:

Thanks, but I don't want to have sex.
Nope, no more booze for me!
Sorry, but you're not really my type.
Good evening officer. Isn't it lovely out tonight?
Oh, I just couldn't. No one wants to hear me sing.

[thanks to Roy Howard for this one]

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CYBERSPACE ALERT:
The Empire Strikes Back 
By Art Jahnke 

The recording industry wants to make hacking legal, but just for copyright holders like themselves. Should Congress let them get away with it? 

It’s not that recording industry honchos think that anti-hacking laws are a bad idea. They just think anti-hacking laws shouldn’t apply to them. At least, they think anti-hacking laws shouldn’t apply to them the same way they apply to everybody else, which is to say, all of the time. And so last week, a Los Angeles politician asked Congress to exempt copyright holders in the recording and entertainment business from laws that prohibit hacking some of the time, which is to say, in cases where the hacking is done in the name of copyright protection. 

Certainly, desperate times call for desperate measures, and certainly, the recording industry is traveling through some seriously desperate times. But the question that many opponents of the proposed legislation want answered is this: How desperate should you have to be to persuade Congress to winch you up above the law? 

It’s a tough one, and it all began, of course with file sharing technology called Napster, the killer app that threatened to kill the recording industry. But for all of its 70 million users and disruptive potential, Napster proved vulnerable to the industry’s traditional weaponry: lots of lawyers and lots of money. Yet even as Napster was going down, a half dozen similar services were taking its place, maintaining a continual flow of free music and videos to and from hard drives around the globe. Today, the entertainment industry claims, these peer-to-peer technologies churn through more than 3 billion downloads a month, and most of those downloads are copyrighted material. That number is apparently too much even for Hollywood style lawyers and money, and the industry has resorted to another tactic: sabotage. For months now, it has been flooding peer-to-peer services with empty decoy files and hoping that users who download these files will become exasperated and just give it up. If that tactic is working, its success is one of the best kept secrets in Hollywood. 

Now the record companies want to take the next step from the saboteurs’ handbook. They want to hack into the file-sharing networks themselves and disrupt their service. Because that tactic happens to be illegal, they persuaded Los Angeles Rep. Howard Berman to file the P2P Piracy Prevention Act, an amendment to existing anti-hacking law that would exempt copyright holders of liability for “disabling, interfering with, blocking…the unauthorized distribution” of copyrighted materials. 

Predictably, some civil rights-minded observers promptly conjured up images of record industry vigilantes rummaging through the hard drives of personal computers of with boundless enthusiasm and way too much impunity. Opponents also pointed out that the bill fails to specify what kind of sabotage would be allowed and what kind would not. 

And big picture critics expressed fear that legitimizing sabotage will encourage a new kind of digital vigilante justice that could in turn set off a hacker jihad. They wonder where it all will end. Will it end at all? Or is the recording industry trying to herd cats? Is this the best way to stop the illegal distribution of copyrighted material? If not, what is? Tell us what you think. 

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STREET ALERT:
So, Now You're Going To Support Tablet PC's

They have arrived. Your "early adopter power users" are going to clamor for one, just because it's the latest and greatest. But is it really extremely useful? No. They run WinXP with a bolted on "digital-ink" module that allows that system to capture, save and recognize handwriting. The thing is called MS Journal, and takes handwritten notes. Another utility called the Tablet Input Panel allows you to enter notes in other apps. 

The plus side of these things is that you can save and search notes that are handwritten, you can annotate slides in PowerPoint and read long documents better than on a normal laptop. The downside is that managing Windows itself with a pen is a headache and clumsy. Actual handwriting recognition and transforming it onto ASCII is still not perfect by a long shot unless you take the time to write legibly on the screen. We're talking an MS Version 1.0 here folks. You know what that means. They usually get it right over time though. 

These things are probably good for people that are on the move a lot, and synch up once a day or so. This is certainly not yet ready for the mainstream use and replace everyone's desktop. For the moment, entering normal text with the virtual keyboard is going to get you a lot of tech support complaints, it just does not work as well as a keyboard. Better carefully set your corporate standard to a model that performs what your (mobile) users really need. It's time for cautious optimism, but limited to the people that are really good candidates for the functionality. Expect some bugs in the new bolted-on modules though. Check out more at MS' website:

http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=021111TB-TabletPC 

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TRUE STORY:
Don't Bother Him!
by Jim Emmons
Arizona, USA

In 1979, I had been in the U.S Air Force about six years, and stationed five months at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey. I was a ground radio operator, normally a very boring job.

That changed 11 February, when we received a call from the U.S. European Command Operations Center (ECOC). Problems in Iran necessitated that we change one radio to a common frequency and "help". Thus began a month of 16-hour shifts, six days on, one-half day off. Remember, this was before the "Iran Hostage Crisis", before Americans were targets, and before cell phones and satellite communication.

Early one afternoon, a ham radio operator in Teheran broke into our radio traffic, difficult to do with so much information flowing over this single frequency. "Bill" was a State Department employee with radio equipment in his apartment. He had already sent his wife and children back to the States for safety.

Bill said calmly that the new Iranian Revolutionary Guard were coming to his apartment building for Americans, arriving "soon". Their intent, as relayed to him by his Muslim neighbors, was to take Americans to the Secret Police headquarters and shoot them.

He asked us to call his wife and let her know that his last thoughts were of her and their children. He gave his name, his wife's name, phone number, and address. Then Bill said that he thought he heard the Guard coming up the stairs, so he must sign off. As he did, several people came on the air and wished him good luck.

I relayed the message to the ECOC and the National Military Command Center in Washington, D.C. Each said they'd take care of it.

For about five minutes, there was dead silence on the air. Then back to business as usual, handling radio traffic from many officials in Iran needing to transmit messages. We didn't forget Bill, but we had business to conduct that would, we hoped, save other people's lives.

An hour after he signed off, Bill called again to tell us what had happened. Dead silence from all the other stations.

While the Revolutionary Guard came up to Bill's floor, he signed off and hid the radio under his bed, still plugged in, still hot. When the two Guards came into his apartment, they beat him with their fists and rifle butts. They searched the apartment, but just as they neared the bedroom, his Muslim next-door neighbors came in and started haranguing the Guards.

They shouted in Farsi that this was a good man. Why were they bothering him? The Guards threatened to take the neighbors out and shoot them for helping an American. The neighbors kept insisting that Bill was good, to leave him alone. After a few minutes, the Guards gave up, gave Bill a few extra whacks with their rifles, and left.

Two languages. Two religions. Two countries. And one group of brave people who were willing to risk their lives to save one man.

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FUN SITE:
Stay Safe Online

Kids know a lot about using computers and the Internet-sometimes even more than their parents! Many kids are leaders in ensuring safe computing for themselves and their friends. 

Computer viruses, easily distributed over the Internet, can damage your computer and thousands of other computers. We can stop that damage from happening to our computers if we are just aware of a few simple things we need to do. 

Do's:
Do use virus protection software 
Do use a firewall 
Do regularly update key software 
Do take advantage of your software's security features 
Do disconnect from the Internet when you are not using it 
Do tell an adult right away if something doesn't seem right 

Don'ts: 
Don't fall for fibbing email 
Don't open an email attachment if you don't know who sent it and you didn't expect it 
Don't reveal any information that tells who you are or where you can be found 

You'll find more ideas for Do's and Don'ts at
http://www.staysafeonline.info 

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GREAT UTIL:
BuzzPhraser 

We computer geeks are big fans of making a device sound more impressive and more important than it probably actually is. What do I mean, you ask? A hard drive can be called a "data management solution" or a cell phone could be called a "wireless small network communications system." You don't have to be a computer geek to speak this TechnoLatin; all you need to do is direct your Web browser to buzzphraser.com. You tell it how many nouns, suffixes, adnouns, adjectives, adverbs, and prefixes to use and then just click the "New BuzzPhrase" button. Now you have your own TechnoLatin phrase, like "Newly Leveraged Option Services," that you can spout off. It may not be an actual "device," but it still sounds pretty impressive and important.

http://www.buzzphraser.com/ 

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HARDWARE:
Buyers' Guide to Hard Drives
Sean Captain

If you work mostly in standard office programs, nearly any drive will do. But speed counts for multimedia authoring.

The stunning capacity of today's hard drives--which doubles every 12 to 18 months--has made it possible, even economical, to turn a PC into a multimedia machine holding gobs of audio and video files. And drives of 200GB or more should be out by the time you read this. 

Internal hard drives with Serial ATA connections have thin cables that make more-compact computer designs possible. The technology won't become common for at least another year, however.

Though our tests show that today's hard drives all perform about the same when running regular business applications, people who work with large images and digital video greatly benefit from speedy drives. In our tests with Adobe Photoshop, for example, a system fitted with the fastest drive completed a complex task (applying filters and rotating an image multiple times) almost 30 percent quicker than did the same system with the slowest drive installed. 

See the list of winners here:
http://www.pcworld.com/reviews/article/1,aid,103400,00.asp

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ASTRO (not the Jetson's dog):
Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/astropix.html

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QUICK WIT:

When you encounter someone greater than yourself, turn your thoughts to becoming his equal. When you encounter someone lesser than you, look within and examine your own self.
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