Friday, December 31, 2004

DigitalGlobe | QuickBird Images of Tsunami Sites

DigitalGlobe | QuickBird Images of Tsunami Sites: "QuickBird Images of Tsunami Sites"

For those people who STILL have not dipped deep into their pockets, you may contribute to the Tsunamis appeal at


Tuesday, December 21, 2004

'Christmas is taboo in America, but now people are fighting back'

If you think celebrations in Britain are becoming too politically correct then don't go to the US. Philip Sherwell reports

For her son's school "holiday party" last week, Julie West baked a birthday cake for the baby Jesus - a gesture of defiance both against his teachers and the growing campaign in America to remove any trace of Christmas from public life.

Six-year-old Aaron had brought home a note from his school, in Washington state, that asked parents to provide food that their family traditionally enjoyed during the holiday season.

"He asked for the cake I make at Christmas with the words 'Happy Birthday Jesus'," said Ms West. "I called the school to let them know, but a few days later the teacher phoned back to say that I couldn't bring the cake as the party was not a religious event."

Ms West, who attends a non-denominational church in Edmonds, near Seattle, was amazed. "It wasn't an attempt to impose my beliefs on anyone. It was just a cake," she said. "I think all traditions and religions should be celebrated at this time of year."

After researching the issue on the internet she contacted the Rutherford Institute, a mainstream pressure group that defends religious freedom. It assured her that even though the American constitution bans the promotion of religion by the government, simply bringing a cake iced with "Happy Birthday Jesus" into the school broke no laws. "So I took the cake in for the party on Tuesday and none of the other parents or children were offended," she said. "The only comment was how delicious it was.

"I didn't set out to make a point, but now I hope I have helped a few other people understand their rights."

Not everyone is as robust. Across the United States, celebrations for what many Americans now refer to as the "C word" have been all but restricted to churches and private homes.

In Wichita, Kansas, a local newspaper ran an apology after referring to a "Christmas tree", rather than a "community tree" at the city's Winterfest celebration. In Denver, a Christian church float was barred from the city's parade while Chinese lion dancers and German folk dancers were welcomed. In parts of Florida, fir trees have been banned this year from government-owned property.

A mayor in Massachusetts issued a formal apology to anyone offended by a press release that mistakenly described the town of Somerville's holiday party as a "Christmas party". Schools in Florida and New Jersey have banned all carols and elsewhere in Washington state a school principal banned a production of A Christmas Carol mainly because Tiny Tim prays: "God bless us, every one."

In one New Jersey school district, where the singing of Christmas carols has long been abandoned, officials have this year forbidden children's orchestras to play songs such as Silent Night because that might remind people of their Christian content.

Frosty the Snowman and Winter Wonderland have, however, been deemed acceptable as they are devoid of any religious references.

"The majority of people in the towns think that this policy is unnecessary," said William Calabrese, the town president (mayor) of South Orange. "This feels like a slap in the face to diversity, not a symbol of it. They're sterilising the school systems, taking away freedom of choice. It's a type of totalitarianism."

The fightback, however, has begun. Showdowns are taking place across the country as individuals, and conservative and religious groups, come out against the zealous interpretation of the separation of Church and state.

In Chicago, a Nativity scene has been given police protection after a life-sized model of the infant Christ was briefly stolen before being recovered earlier this month.

"This has been getting worse for years and people have finally had enough," said John Whitehead, the founder of the Rutherford Institute, which has issued its own "Twelve Rules of Christmas" setting out people's religious rights.

"Political correctness is all-pervasive here. Christmas has become a taboo in America but now people are fighting back."

In the Oklahoma City suburb of Mustang, voters angered by a school board's decision to remove a Nativity scene from a school play demonstrated their fury at the ballot box last week. They rejected the board's plans to raise $11 million (£5.7 million) by issuing bonds.

Many parents were particularly angry that the play still featured Santa Claus and a Christmas tree in addition to symbols of the Jewish festival of Hanukkah and of Kwanzaa, an African-American celebration established in 1966 as a counter to Christmas. These were deemed "cultural" rather than religious.

Also last week, a court challenge began in New York to overturn a policy that allows the Jewish menorah and Islamic crescent and star to be displayed in schools, but forbids Nativity scenes.

The Catholic League and Thomas More Law Centre are appealing against a lower court ruling that found that the Jewish and Muslim symbols have a secular dimension while the Nativity is "purely religious".

Organisations such as the Americans United (AU) for Separation of Church and State believe that the campaign to put Christ back into Christmas is being pushed by conservative Christian groups buoyed by the victory of President George W Bush and the religious Right in last month's elections. "They are emboldened," said Robert Boston, an AU spokesman.

The Chicago Nativity has been at the centre of controversy since the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Jewish Congress and the American Atheists launched a legal challenge against its location on public property.

Their case was thrown out because the scene was erected by a private group. This year, at least, other expressions of religious freedom are also being allowed in the city.

Pressure groups such as the Rutherford Institute and the Alliance Defence Fund, which hires lawyers to fight perceived anti-Christian bias, say that many teachers and public officials are confused about the law and wrongly believe that any religious displays or symbols are forbidden on government property.

Others have been cowed by a stream of complaints and are just seeking "the easy life", according to Mr Whitehead. Retailers are particularly sensitive to complaints. Several stores, including Macy's, have reportedly banned their staff from referring to Christmas in case they deter non-Christian customers, prompting a group of angry Californians to boycott its outlets.

While President Bush's holiday greetings card, posted to a record two million recipients this year, carries a line from Psalm 95 – "Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song" – there is no mention of Christmas on the White House website. Even Fox News, the conservative television network, cannot bring itself to wish a merry Christmas to its viewers. Instead, "Happy Holidays" is flashed up to the tune – but not the words – of Ding Dong Merrily on High.

The Rutherford Institute despairs. "This is not a Left-Right, Republican-Democrat issue," said Mr Whitehead. "It's about everyone's right to celebrate their religious beliefs as they want. We should be including all religions, not excluding one."

Monday, December 20, 2004

The Oil-for-Food Scandal - What happened, and who's to blame. By Michael Crowley

The Oil-for-Food Scandal - What happened, and who's to blame. By Michael Crowley
Fox News's Fred Barnes calls it "the biggest scandal in human history." American soldiers may be dying in Iraq because of it, says Bill O'Reilly. It proves that the United Nations is a failed, incompetent institution—and that its leader, Kofi Annan, must be sacked, says many a Republican on Capitol Hill.

Conservatives everywhere are in high dudgeon over the U.N. oil-for-food scandal. And certainly, the tale of how Saddam Hussein evaded and exploited U.N. sanctions to reap more than $21 billion in illegal profits from 1990 to 2003 is tawdry and venal. But it's also not quite as simple as Fox News claims. The details are complicated, and pinning blame isn't easy. Here's a guide to the key players and their roles:

Saturday, December 18, 2004


The Labour Party announced today that they is changing the party's emblem from a red rose to a condom. The party chairman explained that the condom more clearly reflects the party's stance today, because a condom accepts inflation, halts production, destroys the next generation, protects a bunch of pricks, and gives you a sense of security while you're actually getting screwed.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Telegraph | News | Exodus as Dutch middle class seek new life

Telegraph | News | Exodus as Dutch middle class seek new life: "Escaping the stress of clogged roads, street violence and loss of faith in Holland's once celebrated way of life, the Dutch middle classes are leaving the country in droves for the first time in living memory."

Holland first Next England.
Rats and ships comes to mind

Friday, December 10, 2004

"Politically Correct" Christmas Greeting

Reuters reports that the mayor of Sydney, Australia, decorated her city's
town hall with just one Christmas tree out of fear of offending
non-Christians. Am I the only one that believes this "Politically Correct"
type of behavior should disappear? Schools can celebrate a winter holiday
that is only about 38 years old, but they cannot celebrate one that is over
2000 years old because "someone" might be offended? "Someone" needs to get
a grip. There is nothing that says we are guaranteed never to be offended
during our lives, and this bending over backwards to prevent people from
being offended by something is pretty offensive to me.

But since there is still time to get those holiday greetings sent (if you do
that sort of thing) I have a message that you can use to insure that the
fewest number of folks will take offense:

Happy Holidays!*

*Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for
an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress,
non-addictive, gender-neutral, celebration of the winter solstice holiday,
practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion
of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the
religious/secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, or their choice
not to practice religious or secular traditions at all.

We also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling, and medically
uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar
year 2005, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other
cultures whose contributions to society have helped make this country great,
and without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability,
religious faith, or sexual preference of the wishee.

By accepting this greeting, you are accepting these terms:
This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal.
It is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting.
It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes
for herself/himself or others, and is void where prohibited by law, and is
revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher. This wish is warranted to
perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a
period of one year, or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting,
whichever comes first, and warranty is limited to replacement of this wish
or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher.


IRA Refuse Paisley Photograph Demand

Paisley, Adams Smiling Together
The IRA have said there is absolutely no chance whatsoever of any of its members posing for portraits for Ian Paisley, despite the fact that doing so could restore devolution to Northern Ireland.

Proposals on power sharing set out by the British and Irish governments promised to bring an end to the two year suspension of Northern Ireland's political institutions.

But Mr Paisley, the DUP leader who has been annoyed for over 50 years, made it clear that he would not accept the proposals until he had received a Christmas card from the IRA with a photo of some of its members on the front.

?And I don't want to see balaclavas either,? he said. ?I want faces, smiling faces. I'm not asking for much. I have a large fireplace with a wide mantelpiece at home and I never get enough Christmas cards to fill it. The IRA never send me personalised Christmas cards.?

Asked if he would accept a signed photograph rather than a Christmas card, Mr Paisley said ?Yes.? The IRA, however, said ?No.?

Meanwhile, two ex-IRA members, Sean O'Sullivan and Aodh Byrne, who can't be named for legal reasons, said it was highly unlikely that anyone in the IRA would consent to having his photo taken. ?Let's face it. Very few of us like having our photo taken. Members of the IRA are no different, even when wearing balaclavas. The fact that Mr Paisley wants to see them without balaclavas, well, it's just not going to happen.?

In an attempt to resolve the problem, Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams said Mr Paisley could have his photograph on a Christmas card if he wanted. He said he'd even wear a Father Christmas costume if that would help move things along.

The DUP leader politely rejected his offer. ?Damn the beast to hell! I'd rather have a photograph of Beelzebub himself on my mantelpiece. No! No! No! No! No! No! No!?

Mr Adams has asked republicans not to take Mr Paisley's words to heart. ?Look, the man isn't getting as many Christmas cards as he'd like. It hurts. Don't be too harsh on him. And remember what all this comes down to ? a large mantelpiece. If only Mr Paisley's fireplace was a little smaller. We'd all be as happy as Larry.?
Taken from

Friday, November 19, 2004

Moscow denies scamming

To continue on the last story
#Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko denied the accusation that Moscow was hampering the probe, saying Friday the government was providing full assistance for the part of the probe dealing with alleged bribe-taking by U.N. officials who ran the program.

In Russia, the recipients allegedly included the presidential administration's office, top oil companies Yukos and Lukoil, the Communist Party and ultranationalist lawmaker Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the report said. The Foreign Ministry also allegedly was a voucher recipient.

UN staff ready historic no-confidence vote in Annan

UNITED NATIONS (AFP) - UN employees are expected to issue an unprecedented vote of no confidence in Secretary-General Kofi Annan, union sources say, after he pardoned the body`s top oversight official over a series of allegations.

The UN staff union, in what officials said was the first vote of its kind in the more than 50-year history of the United Nations, was set to approve a resolution withdrawing support for the embattled Annan and senior UN management.

Annan has been in the line of fire over a high-profile series of scandals including controversy about a UN aid programme that investigators say allowed deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to embezzle billions of dollars.

Staffers said the trigger for the no-confidence measure was an announcement this week that Annan had pardoned the UN`s top oversight official, who was facing allegations of favouritism and sexual harassment.

The union had requested a formal probe into the behaviour of the official, Dileep Nair, after employees accused him of harassing members of his staff and violating UN rules on the hiring and promotion of workers.

Top UN spokesman Fred Eckhard announced on Tuesday that Nair had been exonerated by Annan "after a thorough review" by the UN`s senior official in charge of management, Catherine Bertini.

Annan underlined that he "had every confidence" in Nair, Eckhard said, but UN employees ridiculed the decision and claimed that investigators had not questioned the staff union, which first raised the complaints in April.

"This was a whitewash, pure and simple," Guy Candusso, a senior member of the staff union, told AFP.

Candusso noted that Eckhard`s declaration to the press had said that "no further action was necessary in the matter."

But in a letter sent to the union, a copy of which was obtained by AFP, Annan`s chief of staff Iqbal Riza said Nair had been "advised that he should exercise caution" in future to "minimise the risk of negative perception."

In a resolution set to be adopted on Friday, the union said Riza`s statement "substantiates the contention of the staff that there was impropriety" and that there exists "a lack of integrity, particularly at the higher levels of the organisation."

The draft resolution, also obtained exclusively by AFP, calls on the union president to "convey this vote of no confidence to the secretary general."

Staffers who asked not to be named, afraid that speaking out could damage their future prospects in the United Nations, said the Nair decision was an example of corruption by Annan and his senior staff.

They noted that Riza, UN undersecretary general for information Shashi Tharoor and other top officials had served directly under Annan at least since 1994, when he was head of UN peacekeeping operations.

At the time, the United Nations was widely criticised for failing to stop the Rwanda genocide that left 800,000 people dead, even though UN peacekeepers were on the ground -- a catastrophe for which Annan has publicly apologised.

Annan could not be reached for immediate comment. He is currently in Africa on a high-profile mission aimed at ending the long-running civil war in Sudan.

The latest crisis comes as Annan faces unprecedented calls to resign over the burgeoning scandal about "oil-for-food," a UN aid scheme that US investigators say allowed Saddam to siphon off billions of dollars.

The programme has tainted longtime UN officials like Benon Sevan, who oversaw the operation and is now accused of pocketing Saddam`s money in exchange for turning a blind eye to the Iraqi dictator`s abuses.

Annan stands accused of obstructing US investigators, especially since his hand-picked official Paul Volcker this week rejected calls from the US Senate to turn over documents from the programme and waive UN staff immunity.

Eckhard, his spokesman, on Thursday said that Annan is expected to serve out his term, which ends in 2006.

Veteran UN staff said this was the first time in history that employees had risen up en masse to make a vote of no confidence in a sitting secretary general.

"Kofi Annan is surrounded by corruption, a gang of criminals responsible for some of the worst things that happened to mankind in the 20th century," said one angry staffer, referring to the Rwanda massacres.

"It`s possible that he doesn`t know directly what has gone on," said the employee, who has worked for the United Nations for two decades. "But that`s no excuse."

Saturday, October 23, 2004 Surgeries, Side Trips for 'Medical Tourists' Surgeries, Side Trips for 'Medical Tourists': "Surgeries, Side Trips for 'Medical Tourists'
Affordable Care at India's Private Hospitals Draws Growing Number of Foreigners

By John Lancaster
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, October 21, 2004; Page A01

NEW DELHI -- Three months ago, Howard Staab learned that he suffered from a life-threatening heart condition and would have to undergo surgery at a cost of up to $200,000 -- an impossible sum for the 53-year-old carpenter from Durham, N.C., who has no health insurance.

So he outsourced the job to India."

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Cyber-Safety for All

The "Cyber-Safety for All: From Kids to Elders" booklet is a free download
for non-commercial use
Norwich University Professor Michel E. Kabay wrote this guide to "help people of all
ages protect themselves and their loved ones from people who use the
Internet and other aspects of modern telecommunications to harm others."

The guide covers everything from pornography and pedophiles to scams and
chain letters. Hackers, viruses, spyware and online auctions are covered as
well, and every section has a list of additional resources to get more
information on that topic. The Guide presents a lot of common sense ideas
about how to educate yourself and others regarding safety on the Internet.

This is a very good resource to pass along to everyone you know. Even if
they don't have a computer, the information presented in the Guide helps
dispel some myths about so-called dangers, and gives practical advice about
those things we should all be aware of. At 82 pages it is a bit much to
print the whole thing for all of your non-computer-owner friends, but it is
worth having a copy that you can offer to those who want to educate
themselves about the realities of life on the Internet. The sections about
e-mail scams and spam are well worth handing out to those occasional
e-mailers that seem to flood you with questionable information.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004 Print Page: TIME Magazine -- The Enemy With Many Faces Print Page: TIME Magazine -- The Enemy With Many Faces
Driven by jihadis loyal to al-Zarqawi, the insurgency in Iraq is becoming more confident—and more deadly. But splits in the rebels' ranks are beginning to show

Sunday, September 19, 2004

''Beware Americans bearing gifts''

''Beware Americans bearing gifts''
( -- You don't have to be an anthropologist to understand that whenever a caveman left his environs to conquer a neighboring cave, he wanted something for his trouble -- more food, women or even the primitive ego gratification of exercising power. Nor do you have to study folklore to know that whenever a tribe invaded another tribe, its members wanted something the other tribe had -- superior land for agriculture, better hunting grounds or even the capture of slaves. And, as history has shown time and again, whenever one country invades another, it also wants something -- territorial expansion, natural resources or regional hegemony.

This is not an inclusive list of reasons, of course, but it is enough to show that never did anyone invade another to give them a gift. The mythical Trojans should have understood this before they dragged the wooden horse into their midst and barred the fortress gates behind them.

History has now been turned on its ear with George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq because he says, "We did it to spread democracy." In other words, we invaded to give Iraq one of our most cherished gifts -- our form of government! And we will do this under the gun, whether they want it or not.

Wait a minute. Aren't these the same people who "hate our freedoms and our liberty"?

Somewhere along the line, I suffered a logical disconnect. If those people despise the very things that our form of government provides us, how could they possibly look favorably upon our bearing them this unwanted gift of democracy?

When all other arguments failed, we changed the reasoning to, "We went in to free the Iraqis from the tyrannical leadership of the murderous Saddam Hussein." He was, after all, responsible for torturing thousands at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison. Oh, perhaps he didn't do it personally but, as head of state, he was responsible nonetheless. Our enemies' sewage rolls uphill and he was covered in it.

Of course, after deposing Saddam, we took over Abu Ghraib and gave Iraqis the gift of American torture and murder, something they already had and needed no more of. However, the blame for this was not laid at the doorstep of George W. Bush, the leader of the US, but to a few rogue soldiers who weren't trained properly. In America, sewage obeys the law of political gravity--it doesn't roll uphill. Dubya didn't do it personally and he's not responsible either. This is how it works in a proper democracy.

So, from an Iraqi point of view, what's the difference between Saddam and George? Well, there is Bush's gift of a lot more dead, and many more homeless, for one. Those who have taken pains to do the accounting estimate the number killed at close to 40,000. We don't know for sure because US forces aren't in the business of totaling "enemy" dead. The gift of bookkeeping is not one that we are giving.

There is also the gift of destroyed buildings -- homes, businesses, water works, sewage and power plants. Getting electricity and clean water, something Iraqis enjoyed under the tyranny of Saddam, is a bit problematic now but that's the price you pay when you are the recipient of American generosity.

It needs to be pointed out that it was with great fanfare that Bush & Co. denied that they were invading Iraq for their oil. Why, it belongs to the Iraqi people they said and will be used solely for their benefit -- namely rebuilding their country. It needs rebuilding, of course, because it is the same country we are destroying to liberate its people from the oppression of torture and murder.

How many of you actually believed that line?

But something happened on the road to Eden. The GAO found that over a billion dollars of said oil revenues mysteriously found their way into the coffers of Halliburton Corp. How it got there, nobody knows, or nobody is telling.

And now the Bush administration has announced plans to shift another $3.46 billion from Iraqi water, power, sewage and other reconstruction projects to improve security, boost oil output and prepare for the elections scheduled for January. The gift of elections and "security," something that has deteriorated daily since the invasion, are certainly more important than pure water, sewage disposal and electric power. (It should also be noted that to date only 5.5% of the money previously earmarked for reconstruction has actually been expended in that effort.)

Magnanimously, this will clear the way for the forgiveness of 95% of Iraq's debt to the US, something Bush has suggested that other countries also consider. Why would he give Iraq the gift of debt forgiveness? It's simple if you think about it. The oil money, if it went to pay off debt, could not easily find its way into the treasure chest of companies such as Halliburton and other administration-favored, no-bid contractors. It would have to go back into the US treasury -- our treasury from whence it came -- not to some fat cat corporate friend of the Bush family. The money would then be used to pay off what we borrowed in order to loan the money in the first place. What a silly idea! Reduction of our national debt is not something this "conservative" administration seems inclined to do.

In any case, I'm not so sure most Iraqis are willing to trade water, sewage disposal and electricity for the gift of boosting oil output—the revenues from which they most probably will never see.

Our modern caveman, the atavistic George W. Bush, has exercised his primitive power urge and gotten a big dose of ego satisfaction. And because he has done so under the guise of bearing gifts, that famous old saying -- "Beware Greeks bearing gifts" must now be updated.

If I were an Iraqi, I don't think I could take too many more of these American gifts.

[Raff Ellis lives in the United States and is a retired former computer industry executive. His writing hobby is stimulated by his ceaseless amazement at the truth of two of his favorite quotations: Puck's observation, "What fools these mortals be"; and "No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people," variously attributed to P.T. Barnum and H.L. Menken.]

Raff Ellis encourages your comments: is an international news and opinion publication. encourages its material to be reproduced, reprinted, or broadcast provided that any such reproduction identifies the original source, Internet web links to YellowTimes are appreciated.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004


Get Firefox!

The community is spreading the word about Firefox. Millions of people are already using Firefox and helping us chip away at Internet Explorer's marketshare. More than 80,000 websites already link to the Firefox page, with an additional 200,000 linking to The buzz about Firefox was too hot for the blogosphere and has consumed the mainstream press: this month alone, Firefox has been declared officially "Wired" (IE? "Expired"), USA Today is recommending that its readers use Firefox, and Walt Mossberg, perhaps the most influential tech writer in the US, is telling Wall Street Journal readers that, if you're worried about security, Firefox is a good way to go.

PLEASE NOTE--I have been using this browser now for many months and it does everything AND more that you will ever need in your browser.ITS FANTASTIC

Monday, August 23, 2004

Videos Worth the Download

Be careful when inflating your next wading pool. (Not to worry, the guy wasn't harmed. Not surprising, nor were any animals harmed--most likely because there were no animals in the video.)

Leave work early using this cool fire escape. The boss will never know.

Watch where you're diving! (Or, the World's Shortest Vacation.)

The Webs favourite FREEBIES

Here are 10 of the most popular free software downloads on the web. We update this list regularly and welcome suggested and additions.

1 AVG Anti-Virus
Why pay for anti-virus software when you can have this much-loved bug buster for free.

2 Zone Alarm
Stop cyber-criminals attacking your computer while you're online with this essential free firewall. (I Have used this now for yrs.)

3 Google Toolbar 2.0
This latest version of the Google Toolbar offers easy searching, blocks pop-ups and makes it easy to fill in online forms.

4 Trillian
Access several instant messaging services with one handy tool. Essential for chat fans.

5 BigFix
BigFix can detect and correct all kinds of problems on your computer, usually before they get a chance to mess up your system.

6 Adobe Acrobat Reader
The well-known document reader is essential for anyone who buys gadgets or software, since instruction manuals are now often supplied as Acrobat files rather than paper booklets.

7 Core FTP Lite
You'll find this FTP program very welcome if you need to transfer files to your website with ease.

8 IrfanView
A great image viewer with simple image-editing functions.

9 Spybot Search & Destroy
Not quite as big as Ad-aware, but this spyware stopper recently won a Web User Gold Award, and I have used it on my computer for ages.

10 Pop-up Stopper
f there was ever a program that deserves the over-used phrase, "does what it says on the tin".

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Step By Step: Power to Your Browser

If you spend hours in front a computer--whether at the office or at home--chances are a good chunk of that is Web-surfing time. Web browsers are such ubiquitous tools that people take them for granted. You shouldn't. They can use substantial amounts of computer resources, and their temporary files can hog huge amounts of disk space. Plus, there are those occasional browser security issues that require patches and updates.

Microsoft Internet Explorer is the most common Web browser for the simple reason that it's included with Windows. But substitutes for IE are becoming more and more popular because of their advanced features and their relative--albeit not absolute--freedom from security problems. Dozens of different browsers exist, but two--the free, open-source Mozilla and the $29 Opera (free with ad banners)--are probably the most widely used alternatives to Internet Explorer. You can download these browsers atMozilla v1.7: or Opera 7.5: or use the one that I use downloadable from Firefox
If you are STILL unsure that you should try or use another Browser other than IE I suggest that you read THIS excelent article from Daniel Grays

Monday, August 16, 2004


“A world-class file organizer... A supercharged version of the Start menu's My Recent Documents folder... gives you split-second access to the files you opened yesterday, last week, three months ago, or even last year.”

“TaskTracker is the most significant contribution to my productivity (in terms of finding things) in the past five years.”

TaskTracker™ takes the Windows® Explorer and turns it inside out. Say goodbye to tedious searches for files in Windows' convoluted file system. Now you can get to the files you want to work with - and open, copy, rename, or move them - right away without having to remember where you left them. A great FREE download
Note: Although you're encouraged to make a contribution, TaskTracker is free. It has a free renewal after 90 days, and you can renew it indefinitely. Users should download a new version after Day 75 to get the additional 90 days.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Bartleby Library: Great Books Online

One thing that was fun to do on a hot summer day was to curl up in a hammock under a shady tree. Today, thanks to wireless technology and the Internet,You can enjoy books from the comfort of that hammock, using a laptop or PDA.THIS site is one called the Bartleby Library: Great Books Online. Here you check our some great classic literature and read it online or print it out for later consumption. There is a wide variety of books here, such as Agatha Christie's first novel, "A Mysterious Affair at Styles", to Emily Post's "Etiquette", and several books by President Theodore Roosevelt. An interesting stop as far as I was concerned was the Quotes section. They make interesting reading.

So curl up under that old shade tree, and enjoy your reading time. This is an educational as well as informative site. Enjoy your stop here today.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Simplifying Digital Photography

I own a digital camera, and I have found that the photo software on my computer is ok but I like to look out for better alternatives Taking your pictures is only half the battle. After that is over with, you still need to transfer them, make minor corrections, and then optimize them to be shared with your friends. Most photo software publishers just don’t understand what the consumers want in a simple, yet useful application. However, there’s one piece of software that you should definitely download, and it’s called Picasa.

I have talked about how wonderful Picasa is beforeon other sites, but an even greater incentive to check it out is that it’s now completely free! All of the simple functions that you would want in your photo software are here. Everything from transferring the photos from your camera to creating slideshows and ordering prints is built right in. Simple editing and automatic organization can also be expected. Great stuff!

After you’ve become accustomed with Picasa, give Hello a try. It’s another great free program from Picasa. With Hello, you can share your photos with your friends in an instantaneous way. You no longer have to wait to upload your photos so that everyone can see them. Along with this, you can chat about the photos while you and your friends are viewing them together.

With these two programs installed on your computer, you should be equipped to make the most of your digital pictures, but there is also another site that may come in useful Join HP Photo
Share photos via e-mail, store your photos online, learn to do creative photo projects, get professional prints made and more

Microsoft Web Messenger

Microsoft announced recently that they are beta testing a new all-online version of the MSN Messenger. The goal of the project is to be able to use the MSN messaging service without having to download the actual client. This is handy for folks who might be at work, school, or a library where they are not allowed to install software.

After trying out the beta service, it appears that it is almost identical to the MSN Messenger client. Now I only have one question. Haven’t Yahoo!’s Instant Messenger and AIM been doing this for a few years now?

Monday, August 09, 2004

if only you'd known it was that easy

a very entertaining japanese video clip depicting what must be some ancient japanese origami technique of folding shirts - sounds dull, but its short and worth a look, i guarantee youll do a double take at the end. besides, its helpful!

El Nino may return in 3 months

NEW YORK, New York (Reuters) -- El Nino, the dreaded weather anomaly which has killed hundreds and spawned disasters across the Asia-Pacific region over the years, could possibly develop by late 2004, the Climate Prediction Center of the U.S. National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration said.

In a monthly report devoted to monitoring El Nino which was issued late Thursday, the Center said sea surface temperatures have risen in the central Pacific Ocean and may "indicate the possible early stages of a warm episode."

The Center predicted on its web site that "El Nino conditions are expected to develop during the next three months."

There is about a 50 percent chance that weather patterns will meet NOAA's definitions for an El Nino during June and August of 2004.

"Approximately half of the statistical and coupled model forecasts indicate near neutral conditions in the tropical Pacific through the end of 2004," the Center reported. "The remaining forecasts indicate El Nino conditions will develop within the next 3-6 months."

A 'Kelvin' wave pushing warm waters eastward has been observed, contributing to "an increase in the subsurface temperature anomalies in the central and east-central equatorial Pacific (Ocean)."

Warming sea temperatures and changes in prevailing winds can raise the height of sea level several inches which may indicate an impending El Nino.

El Nino is a weather phenomenon which leads to an abnormal warming of waters in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, recurring roughly once every three years.

The anomaly was first noticed by Latin American anchovy fishermen in the 19th century and was named in honor of the Christ child because it would take place around the year-end Christmas holiday season.

Severe El Ninos, as happened in 1997/98, would cause searing drought in Australia, the Philippines and Indonesia while spawning rampant flooding in Chile, Ecuador and Bolivia. Another Nino in 2002/03 caused the worst drought in Australia in a century.

The warming of Pacific Ocean waters can cause floods and drought as far as South Africa and trigger severe winter storms in California.

El Nino killed hundreds of people in 1997/98 and caused billions of dollars in damages. Before that, another El Nino in 1977/78 likewise killed hundreds and caused several hundred million dollars in damages.

NOTE If you still feel secure then go to THIS link for some more bedtime reading

The View from up There

A wonderful collection of photographs using an aerial or overhead perspective. We live on a beautiful planet.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

The Pentagon's Weather Nightmare
The climate could change radically, and fast. That would be the mother of all national security issues.
Monday, January 26, 2004
By David Stipp

Global warming may be bad news for future generations, but let's face it, most of us spend as little time worrying about it as we did about al Qaeda before 9/11. Like the terrorists, though, the seemingly remote climate risk may hit home sooner and harder than we ever imagined. In fact, the prospect has become so real that the Pentagon's strategic planners are grappling with it.