Contemplating Modernization

I’m considering making the move from my hand-coded Creativity Journal to the blog system you are are reading now, which is provided by my ISP.

Advantages for this blog system:
Easy formatting – 2
Easy entry – 1
Better security – 3
Multiple blogs – 2
Multiple categories per blog – 2
Comments – 2
RSS – 3
Motivation for redesign – 1
Online site design – 2
Total advantages for new system: 18

Disadvantages for this blog system:
Uses an extra MySQL database – 3
What to do with the hundreds of old posts – 3
Total disadvantages for new system: 6
Total ads minus disads for new system: 12

Advantages for the old system:
Hand coded (prideware) – 1
Matches my site – 3
Cool indentations – 2
Phone compatible – 2
Total advantages for old system: 8

Disadvantages for the old system:
Poor security – 3
Micro$oft dependent – 3
Design getting old – 1
Total disadvantages for old system: 7
Total ads minus disads for old system: 1


Winner: Go to the new system.

Kind of a no-brainer when I look at it this way, eh?

Watch this space for future updates.

Wireless Security Revisited

Last year, I wrote an article for ComputorEdge about the dangers of leaving a wireless network unsecured. A reader, calling himself “Anonymous San Diego Criminal” responded to the article in a letter to the editor, complaining about how I was advocating wireless security and limiting the dispensation of free Internet access. He also said the article implied that anyone who used unsecured wireless networks without permission was committing a crime, hence the name he chose to identify himself with.

Today, I saw a news article (no longer online, from what I can tell) from a Portland, Oregon television station website, describing how a man had been arrested for persistent unauthorized use of a coffee shop’s wireless Internet connection. According to the story, the man was also a level 1 sex offender. Though the story doesn’t say what destinations his Internet packets visited, the fact that he is a sex offender and used someone else’s bandwidth for his Internet access seems suspect.

No, Mr. Anonymous San Diego Criminal, I don’t think most people intend to misuse unsecured wireless networks. But doesn’t it make sense to lock down the networks to keep out those who do misuse them?

Writing Songs and Articles

Last night I sent my latest article to ComputorEdge, entitled “Communication at the Speed of Life.” The article is about communications and network advances in the medical field.

Today, I got another assignment from that editor, and Lannette and I will be co-writing an article for a November issue. Looks like the writing gig is starting to show a little action, at least in terms of non-fiction sales.

I’ve also submitted an essay to NPR’s This I Believe series. If my essay is chosen, I will be asked to record a reading of it for the series. Oh, and I’ll get a couple hundred bucks. This writing stuff is taking off at just the right time; I can really use the extra money right now.

Friday, I debuted my latest song, “New Guy Smell” with Steel River Three. I have a recording of “New Guy Smell,” but I’m not happy with the vocals. I need to re-record it. When I do, I’ll post an MP3 on this site.

Logan leaves tomorrow for a month-long stay with his grandparents in Washington state. We won’t see him until just before the wedding. I’m going to miss the kiddo.

In general, there are a lot of things going on in my life right now. At some point, I need to get a storage shed built. There are always bills to catch up on. I have some website updates to perform, both personal and for other people. And oh yeah, there’s this wedding coming up, too.

Sometimes it seems life is a series of “must-dos,” and that there’s not much room for creativity. I’m glad I’m able to keep the creativity going for right now.

The Digital Generation Gap

I think technology is widening the generation gap at an increased rate. I guess technology has always been at the root of the gap, though when the term first surfaced in the sixties or seventies, I think it had more of an idealogical meaning. We’ve all heard stories about how kids today don’t know what an LP is, or how to use one. One of my favorite examples is from an early Bloom County strip, in which Binkley asks his father what it means “to wind one’s watch.” My kids have grown up in a post-MTV world, and they think in much more visual terms than I do when it comes to music, and sometimes even in terms of literature, thanks to movie adaptations of comic books and classic literature like Lord of the Rings.

Recently, I have seen a couple of new examples of technological generation gappage, both from my stepson, Logan.

One day, when picking him up from day care, he pointed up to a small Cessna flying overhead and asked if it was one of those “old-fashioned” planes. When I heard the term “old-fashioned,” I immediately thought about Steerman biplanes, and started to explain that the plane was not a biplane. “No,” he said, “I mean is it one of the kinds that just have one propeller that they have to use to fly.”

Then, last night, Lannette decided to take a picture of two of our cats, who were snuggling on the living room floor. She got out her compact 35mm, waited for the flash to activate, and took the picture. (Fortunately, the cats were content to sit and pose while the batteries warmed up the flash.) When she was done, Logan asked, “Can I see?”

“See what?” Lannette said, a confused look on her face.

“See how the picture turned out,” he replied. At that point, it dawned on both of us that Logan had grown up in an age where digital cameras are more common than 35mm cameras, and it was normal for him to expect to see immediate results on a small LCD screen.

As technology accelerates, this will, of course, become a wider gap. Ten years from now, when my son Keith has kids (if he has them that soon), my grandchildren will grow up in a world where PDAs will be a requirement for elementary students, and the teachers will automatically beam the homework assignments to the classroom using Bluetooth (or something similar.) To check that the homework is being done, Keith will have to ask his son or daughter to show him how to work the PDA, and will probably have to add his voiceprint to the machine to be able to even access it.

Their allowances (should Keith choose to issue them) will be credits transferred into their accounts, and they can use their PDAs to purchase lunches at school, sodas at the pop machines, and toys at the toy store. In their squeaky-clean world of credits and WiFi, cash will have no meaning; money will be an abstract concept reduced to a red or black number on the screen of their PDAs.

Is this a good thing? Yes and no. Yes, because it will contribute to the safety and security of the kids, and once the parents learn how to use the kids’ PDAs, it will be easier for them to track homework progress and grades. No, because it means that technology will continue to widen the gap between parents and children. As parents, it will be our responsibility to keep on top of current technology if we want to maintain a connection with our kids.

This weekend, I will be giving Keith his first convergence device: my old Treo 300. It will be his phone, his scheduler, his alarm, and his toy, just as it was for me.

Keith, if you are reading this, stay on top of technology. It will help you preserve a relationship with your kids, when and if you have them.

Something’s Going On …

The Internet has been acting strangely today, and the Internet Health Report confirms it. The following is a screenshot from that website, taken at about 2:00 PM MDT, showing that several major Tier 1 providers are experiencing excessive latency.

Internet Health Report
No one seems to be posting anything about it yet, that I’ve seen, but there was a little buzz last week about Netsky.AG. Symantec seems more concerned about Narcs and MyDoom.AF at the moment, so it’s really tough to tell what’s happening. Fat pipes in San Francisco and New York seem to be the most affected, with latencies of over 240 ms.

It will be interesting to see what shows up on the news, if anything.