Tech

Brain TV

Okay, it is now officially time to be afraid – very, very afraid.

Images read from human brain

The Yomiuri Shimbun

In a world first, a research group in Kyoto Prefecture has succeeded in processing and displaying optically received images directly from the human brain.

______________

I’m not worried about the government spying on me… No, I’m much more worried about my imagination ‘running wild’ – the world is not ready for what’s inside my head.

Hell, I’m not quite ready for it.

WordPress Intro

WordPress Intro

Static vs Dynamic

  • Purpose of database-driven sites.
  • Advantages and disadvantages of CMS.
  • Other Content Management Systems

Thinking Inside the Box

  • WordPress server requirements (PHP, MySQL)
  • Choosing a host.
  • Apache vs IIS servers.
  • Host Control Panels
  • Security, upgrading, user management (roles), spam.

Primacy vs Legacy

  • Building WordPress up from scratch in the root directory.
  • Building WordPress in a subdirectory and redirecting on completion.
  • Building in a subdirectory and integrating with existing site.
  • Replacing a site, handling redirects

Theme vs Us

  • What’s in a theme?
  • Not all themes are created equal
  • Widgets?
  • Customizing / expanding a theme
  • Rebranding

The Famous 5-minute install

  • Precusor steps: set up database and database user
  • Get the source files from WordPress.org
  • Prepare the wp-config.php file
  • Upload (got FTP?)
  • Step 1 and you’re done
  • When it doesn’t go right

Now That It’s Running

  • Options:General – setting the basics
  • Options: Writing – Posts vs Pages
  • Options: Reading – Static Home Page vs Blog
  • Options: Discussion – Comments and Moderation
  • Permalinks – What and Why
  • Presentation – Basic Widget Setup

Your First Post (or Page)

  • Definition of Post vs Page – why
  • Categories vs Parent Pages
  • Profile choice – Visual vs Code editor
  • TinyMCE – Meet your editor
  • Discussion
  • Password
  • Slugs and other tasty things
  • Post/Page Status
  • Timestamp
  • Author

Plug it in, plug it in

  • What’s a plug-in?
  • Pros and Cons.
  • Care and feeding.
  • When plug-ins go bad.
  • Happy plug-in family.
  • Plug-ins and their widgets.
  • A few of my favorites – and why.

Q & A

For My Father

George Parker Wray 3/9/1928 - 5/21/2008This post is dedicated to the memory of my father, George Parker Wray who died May 21st, 2008.

First, here’s the eulogy I wrote for his memorial service.

It was an amazing service. The Kiskiminetas Mason Lodge 617 turned out as did the Shriner Clowns whom he had been a member of.

The Masonic service was incredibly moving and it was very obvious my father’s fellow lodge members loved him dearly and grieved his death. Being a mason was a big part of my father’s life and when he and my mother returned to the Pennsylvania area, he became active again – eventually joining the Shriner clowns and helping to raise the spirits of sick children. My dad loved children and it’s so obvious in photos and stories told about him – tying balloon animals for hours so that every single child at an event took something away to remind them of the happy time.

Something the Shriner Clowns did was just touching beyond words – they each left a small balloon animal on the altar as they passed. Seeing the Masonic symbols (lambskin apron, evergreen sprigs and scroll) together with these simple icons of childhood were crushingly poignant. Clearly you could see this was a complicated man who touched people on a lot of levels.

There’s so much story to tell that I’m just going to start dropping in photos and describe them. Try and keep up.

Here’s some family photos that came to me after the funeral (click images to enlarge)

George Wray family

My dad was born and grew up on a farm in Spring Church, PA.

This is his family. I think that’s him on the left in the first row of kids.

George Wray family
An earlier shot of my dad’s family.

Parents of George Wray
My father’s parents. Tough-looking people which I suppose comes from farming.

When my father left his family farm (another story!) he went to work in the local steelmill (US Steel) and met my mother (Shirley) and his to-be inlaws. This is such an iconic shot.

Emily and William Rowe
Emily and William Rowe, my mother’s parents. I knew only Emily, William died when I was very little. (here’s my eulogy for my grandmother)

My mother had two sisters, Bobby and Gwenevere and a brother William (my uncle Mickey). Here’s a great shot of all of them after a night on the town:

Eight is too many!

Back row: Mickey Rowe, Les Walsh, Bob Fleissner, George Wray.

Front row: Jean Rowe, Emily’s three daughters, Bobby Rowe (Walsh), Gwen Rowe (Fleissner) and Shirley Rowe (Wray). Note the horns being added by my uncle Bob and my father. I take it from the straws that drinking had been involved. Uncle Bob looks either very sleepy or completely fried. Needless to say, it was a very close-knit group. All of these people were very much a part of my life as I was growing up and I love them all dearly. (High-resolution image available.)

Well, it wasn’t long after (maybe even before) this photo was taken that my parents started building a family.

The children of George and Shirley Wray are, in order:

Bonita Jo (Bunny)

David William (see also this entry)

Georgia Leslie

Mark Douglas

Paula Nadine

Here’s a couple of shots of my mom and I sitting on the front porch of our house in Apollo – we lived in two different places – one in the lower part of town, the other ‘up on the hill’ (Oak Hill) (map).

Shirley and Douglas Wray
Funny shot, eh?

Doug Wray expressing himself at an early age
Take a wild guess who coached me to make that gesture?

Love ya dad.

I start to remember my father’s career starting around the time he got a job at the US Steel Monroeville Research Center. (everybody’s welcome to help me fill in his earlier years in the steel mill, then San Diego in the Navy and then as a door-to-door insurance salesman – all I know is stories passed on) If I remember right, he started out doing welding for vacuum systems, which led him into a position on the new one-million-volt electron microscope US Steel was buying. That was a rough time for him – apparently he’d claimed a high-school diploma and didn’t actually have it! So he had to hurriedly cram for and take the GED, not something you just do in a week. He did. He also learned electronics via correspondence, amazing to me even now. He worked at US Steel for (I think) twelve years, took early retirement and moved to a job at the University of Colorado’s Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology.

Here’s some photos from George’s time at US Steel’s Monroeville Research Center:

US Steel Monroeville Research Center - MVEM Building
The MVEM (Million Volt Electron Microscope) building at US Steel’s Monroeville Research Center. Very modern! Coolest building on the whole campus.

1 Million Volt RCA Electron Microscope
The RCA 1-million-volt transmission electron microscope. That’s George at the console – he spent thousands of hours running this sci-fi-lookin thing. I spent a fair bit of time here with him on various occasions. The room was kept darkened when the microscope was in use. That, combined with the huge, hulking supports, the humming of pumps, clicking relays and control switches only made it more exciting. This was the glowing heart of scientific research at the time – and my dad was square in the middle of it!

Cockcroft-Walton accelerator used to create electron beam.

This is the ‘accelerator room’ – I think they called it that because it made your heart race to come up the stairs, turn a corner and see this. It’s a Cockcroft-Walton generator and was a part of early ‘atom smashers.’ This is where the one million volts of energy was generated to accelerate the electrons into the microscope’s ‘column’ downstairs.

The very latest in video technology!
Cutting-edge, state-of-the-art video recording technology! 2″ reel-to-reel VTR (before cassettes and helical scan!) I think they were recording steel samples being heated/stressed mechanically to watch the crystalline structure change in real time. Never-before-seen effects!

In the primary transformer pit during assembly
My father didn’t just -work- on this machine, he helped assemble it. This transformer is below the floor of the accelerator room shown above. There’s my dad, as usual, up to his elbows in the dirtiest job. I think he loved doing the ‘messy’ jobs that no one else wanted to do.

George Wray inspecting top of US Steel MVEM electron accelerator.

Here’s George at the top of the electron-beam column. He’s actually -inside- the part that the guy is polishing in the photo above of the accelerator. This was the ‘electron gun’ assembly where the ‘filament’ was housed that actually created the beam of electrons.

An advertisement featuring the MVEM - and my dad, of course.

Here’s a color advertisement US Steel ran -great shot of the accelerator. That’s my dad applying a grounding rod to it. For what it’s worth, my dad didn’t really wear a lab coat all the time.

Group shot 1

I think this group is the team that assembled the microscope. My dad’s in the back row, second to last on the right.

Group shot 1

Another group shot. I think this was the primary building-installation team. My dad’s in the back row, last one on the right. Note that everone’s wearing dosimeters – this thing generated high-energy x-rays when it was on, so radiation exposure had to be monitored.

US Steel Monroeville Research Center - staff

Group shot of the entire research staff. I think this is everyone that worked at the Monroeville Research Center.

Closeup of George Wray
Here’s my dad, closeup from the photo above. He’s in the fourth row back, third in from the left. Look at his face – I know that look. He was so tickled he was probably trembling. This had to be one of the Big Moments in his life to be counted among these people.

When George left US Steel Research after 12 (?) years his co-workers presented him with a notebook filled with significant photos (several shown above) as well as some fun ‘geek humor’:

The cover to the gift book

I love that it’s all elements from the lab: the Dymo labeller (very new at the time and the labels were ubiquitous throughout the lab. The USS logo patch that was on coats, the part-tag (with my dad’s employee number I suspect, but don’t know for sure). Basically it’s supposed to be an ‘operating log’ similar to the one kept for The Scope.

Operating Record for

This page is just filled with all kinds of silly ‘in’ jokes. The ‘Description of Specimen’ is, however, perfectly accurate. One of the signatures at the bottom right is J.Scott Lally. If I understand the ‘Plate exposure’ line, 39,683 photos were taken by the MVEM during my father’s time there. Not a bad record!

Map to retirement party
Map to ‘Party for George Wray’ – I think the location name is also a gag: ‘Elec. Heights Hous. Assoc.’ very likely means ‘Electron Heights Housing Association’ and was perhaps housing for visiting scientists. It had a ‘hut’ which is Cold War slang for a guard shack. This was probably a meeting hall for the research campus. I love that “Informal” has no less than seven underlines. I think they meant VERY informal.

We moved to Boulder, CO in the 1970s and baby, it was a whole different world. From a high-security corporate research lab to a wide-open biology research lab on a college campus. A whole new microscope to install and operate. Nobel-prize-winning scientist Dr. Keith Porter was in charge at the time, so it was pretty heady stuff.

George Wray and Kyoshi Takasaki from JEOL assemble the JEOL 1000C 1MeV TEM at CU MCDBio
This is my dad and his soon-to-be good friend Kiyoshi Takasaki assembling the microscope. They’re getting ready to add the objective lens/sample stage section.

Dick McIntosh and George Wray pose on the upper deck of the JEOL 1000C TEM

Dick McIntosh and George Wray pose on the upper deck of the JEOL 1000C TEM.

George and Shirley Wray pose on the completed JEOL 1000C 1 Mev TEM
Here’s my dad, my mom and Paul Connally posing on the Hanford, WA scope that they stripped for parts when it was decommissioned.

George and Shirley Wray look as Paul Connally disassembles the Hanford, WA JEOL 1000C
Taking apart the Hanford, WA scope. They worked round-the-clock for days salvaging every single unique component they could. Many parts of the Hanford scope went into keeping the Boulder, CO scope going.

George cracking up at his birthday party at the lab.
The folks in the MCD Biology department treated my dad like family. You can see the joy on his face as he reads his birthday card at this party.

George Wray and Eileen O
George Wray and Kate Luby-Phelps at lab event.

George gets some birthday smoochies from the MCDB staff
Aww. Such a ladies man. They all loved my old man. For good reason!

After my father retired from the University of Colorado, he and my mother moved to Winston-Salem, NC. Wake Forest University friends had him teaching students in no time flat. He kept working for several more years and no doubt contributed immensely to the sciences by teaching yet another generation of microscope users how to get the most out of a TEM.

When he finally decided to stop working, he wanted to return to Pennsylvania to his roots. He and my mother moved back to PA near the town of Indiana where my sister Georgia (Missy) lived at the time. My mother began having TIAs and finally succumbed to a massive stroke shortly after they’d renovated a home and were settling in nicely. It was such a blow. My father went on. He became active in the Masons again and then the Shrine and became a clown. Here’s some photos from that time:

My father My father’s Mason ring. For years it mystified me. I assumed the ‘G’ meant ‘George’ – when I found out it meant ‘God’ I think I said ‘Well… more or less SAME THING TO ME!’
Master Mason Jewel The Master Mason’s jewel. Quite an arcane thing.
Top of the jewel Top of the jewel
Bottom of the Master Mason jewel Bottom of the jewel
Lambskin Mason Apron The lambskin Masons apron that was on the altar during the Masonic funeral ceremony. Lovely symbolism.
Shriner My dad drove a van to shuttle kids back and forth for medical exams. I know he loved doing this, he told me so several times.
My dad and his friend Frannie. After my mother’s death, my father met her friend Frannie and they spent the last years of his life together. They spent a lot of happy times together at Shrine events. Fran’s a lovely sweet woman and I know she loved George dearly. God bless her for standing at his side.
Shriners bolo tie My dad loved bolo ties. Here’s one with all the various organization symbol on it.
Close up of bolo tie fastener Closeup of the tie fastener
Finally! Graduated HS! The high school my dad dropped out of to work the farm finally gave him (and many other vets) honorary diplomas. My sister Missy was at the ceremony and reports ‘he was SO happy’. George was all about ‘closing the loop’ so I know this must have delighted his heart.
Program from my dad Program from the graduation ceremony. Nicely done!

And now, the clown pix:

George Wray as BOO the clown George Wray as ‘BOO’ the clown.
George Wray as BOO the clown Closeup of George Wray as ‘BOO’ the clown.
George Wray as BOO the clown, going on All dressed up and going on!
George Wray as BOO the clown making balloon animals Making balloons for the kids.
George Wray as BOO the clown with happy kid Another happy kid – a clown’s best reward.

There’s SO, SO much more to say, but I’ll leave it up to you readers to find the comment field below and add your own memories of George or correct me where I’ve mis-stepped. All submissions welcome. Send your images to macguiguru@spamcop.net and don’t worry about whether it’s appropriate or not. George would have loved it – anytime one of his friends laughs, I’m sure his spirit hears them.

And in all this, my mother appears only a small satellite due to her reluctance to having her picture taken. Know that she was everywhere my father was. For over forty years they walked together as husband and wife and I am certain they are rejoined now. As much as our world is dimmed by his passage, I am sure somewhere there are angels singing and laughing.

Goodbye My Father. You are in my heart always.

Bluehost

I have updated my opinion on the hosting company BlueHost.com.

Even though they persist in NOT making it clear that signing up obligates the user to pay for a full year of hosting -all at once- I have come to respect their service and offerings.

I also think they oversell their servers a bit too much, but their help desk staff is simply incredible.

If you need a large disk storage quota, multiple databases and a good, solid control-panel implementation, they’re not bad at all.

For small sites, however, I would recommend either LaughingSquid.net or Indra.net

Comcast Forging Packets To Filter Torrents

From Slashdot

“It’s been widely reported by now that Comcast is throttling BitTorrent traffic. What has escaped attention is the fact that Comcast, like the Great Firewall of China uses forged TCP Reset (RST) packets to do the job. While the Chinese government can do what they want, it turns out that Comcast may actually be violating criminal impersonation statutes in states around the country. Simply put, while it’s legal to block traffic on your network, forging data to and from customers is a big no-no.”

Keyed Up

My pal Tony sent me this shot of his old Olympia manual typewriter keyboard. Amazing how few keys we got by with.

Olympia Portable Typewriter

Olympia Portable Keyboard

Nowadays we have a lot more keys to worry about – not to mention that weird little pre-trackpad ‘wart’ for cursor control.

HP Portable Keyboard

HP Portable Keyboard

Then there’s your typical home PC keyboard. I think I paid a whole $7 for this one. Very light, very cheap but works fine on Mac or PC.

KeyTronic

KeyTronic Cheapie Keyboard

Then came the ‘split and twisted’ scheme to minimize RSI*. There’s successively more and more compliant versions of these – one that has the keys in ‘pockets’

Windows Ergo Keyboard

MS Ergo Keyboard

Then there’s the truncated Apple iMac keyboard that was on my jukebox – I decided to try the KeyTronic cheapie and it works fine. Better set of control keys.

Apple iMac

Apple early-generation iMac keyboard

My current keyboard – the Matias Tactile Pro. It’s noisy but it types very nicely. Five-year warranty.

Matias Tactile Pro

Matias Tactile Pro Keyboard

Here’s all of em together for comparison.

Comparison Shot

* There’s an outstanding article on Repetitive Strain Injury by Tina Richardson at dopasolution.com. It’s fully WC3 compliant and should work properly with most if not all assistive technologies. Thank you Tina!

Out the Window(s)

http://www.macworld.co.uk/mac/news/index.cfm?newsid=17512

US university dumps Windows to go all Mac

Pennyslvania university is replacing 1,700 PCs with 1,450 Macs

Gregg Keizer, Computerworld (US online)


Wilkes University announced on Wednesday that it has pulled the plug on PCs in favour of Macs, saying the move – which actually began last year – will save the Pennsylvania liberal arts college more than $150,000 while letting students and faculty continue to run Windows applications.

Touted by Apple as one of the first colleges to mandate a campus-wide shift from Windows PCs to Macs, the school wasn’t a bastion of all things Apple before the decision, said Scott Byers, vice president for finance and the head of campus IT. Macs, in fact, were a minority.

Rather than take bids from the usual PC suspects – Dell and HP – as well as Apple, Wilkes decided to go all-Apple because the new Intel-based models and the Boot Camp dual-boot software – would let the school reduce the number of machines campus-wide. “This is an aggressive technology refresh,” Byers said.

“We’ll be able to reduce the number by about 250 across the campus”, said Byers, because labs and classrooms were typically outfitted with an inefficient PC-Mac mix. A class suitable for 30, for instance, might be equipped with 20 PCs and 20 Macs “because each class and each department had its own preference for what computers and what software they liked to use,” Byers said.

Now that class boasts 30 Macs, able to swing both ways at will, courtesy of Boot Camp.

“We think it will save $150,000 directly, in buying fewer units – even though the Macs cost more per unit than PCs,” he said. The school, which enrolls about 4,000 undergraduate and graduate students, will reduce its inventory from nearly 1,700 computers to around 1,450 after the change over. Other costs savings, however, will be harder to measure. “By standardising, the IT department should be more productive,” Byers said.

He also cited the additional security of Mac OS X, school-wide access to Apple’s iLife suite, and Apple’s operating system itself as side benefits. “It is, well, the superior OS, isn’t it?” said Byers, who before the switch was a dyed-in-the-wool Windows user.

The key to the change was Apple’s move to the Intel processor in early 2006 and the dual-boot Boot Camp software. The university’s management application – which tracks students from application through graduation – is a Windows app, for instance, and couldn’t be abandoned. With Boot Camp, such a move isn’t necessary.

Although the $1.4 million three-year switch – which started last year with the purchase of approximately 500 Macs – means Wilkes is all-Apple, students are free to choose any operating system, said Byers. “There’s no Mac mandate.”

Most of them pick one anyway: “This generation seems to prefer Macs,” he added.

Nuclear Accidents

http://www.reference.com/browse/wiki/List_of_military_nuclear_accidents

List of military nuclear accidents

Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaCite This Source

This article lists notable military accidents involving nuclear material. Civilian accidents are listed at List of civilian nuclear accidents. For a general discussion of both civilian and military accidents, see nuclear and radiation accidents.

Scope of this article

In listing military nuclear accidents, the following criteria have been followed:

  1. There must be well-attested and substantial health damage, property damage or contamination.
  2. The damage must be related directly to radioactive material, not merely (for example) at a nuclear power plant.
  3. To qualify as “military”, the nuclear operation/material must be principally for military purposes.

Comes v MS Case

http://iowaconsumercase.org/

Case background:

Comes v. Microsoft is an Iowa state court class action brought by consumers, small businesses, and other indirect purchasers of Microsoft software products. Plaintiffs allege that from May 18, 1994 through June 30, 2006, Microsoft engaged in illegal monopolization and other anticompetitive conduct in the markets for operating systems, word processing, spreadsheets, and office suite software.

Chip Wars Continue to Rage

Class action lawsuit filed against Dell.

The suit claims Intel was bribing Dell to shut out AMD. Dell spokemen say the suit is a rehash of their dustup with AMD and that other claims in the lawsuit are made up.

This whole mess could spell less money donated to GOP fundraisers as well as operational woes for Intel; which could impact Apple eventually.

I think what we’re seeing is the first wave of change eroding the PC market’s sand castle. Dell has been producing an inferior product for years – their penchant for shipping DOA machines is legendary.

First Gateway started tanking in 2000 and hasn’t gotten better, now Dell is showing signs of slipping. HP looks to be doing good, but I think it’s just the effect of laying off all the Mercury employees – that bubble will burst shortly I suspect. Not to mention, when judgement against now-ex-chairman Dunn come down I predict that stock will take a savage hit.

Golly, could it be…? Is the ballyhooed Age of the PC drawing to an end? The skeletons are starting to rattle and fall out of the closets. Meanwhile Apple is doing great.

Going Out of Business

http://blog.wired.com/cultofmac/2007/01/apple_makes_a_b.html

Apple’s first-quarter 2007 results are the best ever.

Thanks to selling an unbelievable 21.1 million iPods over the holidays, Apple reported record-breaking revenues for the December quarter of more than $7 billion. $1 billion of that is pure profit.

Not bad for a company that’s (supposedly) been going out of business since 1984.

I think it’s time for Apple’s detractors to wake up and smell the burning silicon.

MS Word Attack

From Slashdot.org

0xbl00d writes “Eweek.com is reporting a new Microsoft Word zero-day attack underway. Microsoft issued a security advisory to acknowledge the unpatched flaw, which affects Microsoft Word 2000, Microsoft Word 2002, Microsoft Office Word 2003, Microsoft Word Viewer 2003, Microsoft Word 2004 for Mac and Microsoft Word 2004 v. X for Mac. The Microsoft Works 2004, 2005 and 2006 suites are also affected because they include Microsoft Word. Simply opening a word document will launch the exploit. There are no pre-patch workarounds or anti-virus signatures available. Microsoft suggests that users ‘not open or save Word files,’ even from trusted sources.”

Good grief.

Someone tell me again WHY the business world loves Microsoft?

It’s like the old bear/hunter joke: ‘You don’t come here for the hunting, do ya?’

Injured Police Sue Taser

From The Arizona Republic

http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/local/articles/0820taser20.html

Police in 5 states sue Taser in past 2 weeks (note – this story first appeared in 2005 -MDW)

Robert Anglen

The Arizona Republic

Aug. 20, 2005 12:00 AM Police officers in five states filed lawsuits against Scottsdale-based Taser International over the past two weeks claiming they were seriously injured after being shocked with the electronic stun gun during training classes.

Stunning Revelations

Reposted From In These Times

http://www.inthesetimes.com/site/main/article/2894/

November 13, 2006

Stunning Revelations

The untold story of Taser-related deaths

By Silja J.A. Talvi

TASER International Inc. maintains that its stun-guns are “changing the world and saving lives everyday.” There is no question that they changed Jack Wilson’s life. On Aug. 4, in Lafayette, Colo., policemen on a stakeout approached Jack’s son Ryan as he entered a field of a dozen young marijuana plants. When Ryan took off running, officer John Harris pursued the 22-year-old for a half-mile and then shot him once with an X-26 Taser. Ryan fell to the ground and began to convulse. The officer attempted cardiopulmonary resuscitation, but Ryan died.

Nine Years at the Mast

Just did a network analysis for a Mac-based client and found nine-year-old Mac hardware quietly working away in the backroom.

9 years x 40 work weeks x 5 day work week x 8 hour day is over 14,000 hours with virtually no maintenance. In an office with *no* computer-savvy staff.

Try that with a crop of Dells.