The miscellaneous ramblings and thoughts of Dan G. Switzer, II

Watch for Mars on 8/27/2003

My grandpa sent me this information. It seems Mars and Earth will become closer together on August 27, 2003 than they have in recorded history.

The relationship in space between Earth and Mars is never exactly repeated either. Each planet orbits the Sun on its own elliptical path, and those paths actually rotate through space over thousands of years.

The result, in late August, will be a proximity that hasn't occurred for 73,000 years, according to a calculation made by Jean Meeus and first reported by SPACE.com in November. Interestingly, even closer passes are in store for our descendents.


Prior to the 1988 close pass, the two planets were even closer in 1971, just 34.9 million miles (56.2 million kilometers) apart. The 2003 approach is less than 1 percent closer than the one in 1971, Standish points out.

"So it's not like you're going to see something gigantic in the sky," he said. "It’s not like Mars is going to look like the Moon or anything."

Mars will appear strikingly brilliant, however. It will be about as bright as Jupiter ever gets. It will shine like a beacon in its characteristic red or orange, in stark contrast to most of the other planets and stars, which exhibit little color.

Steve Stevens' Flamenco A Go-Go

I picked up Steve Steven's album Flamenco A Go-Go. I'm really impressed with this album. It's definitely not a Flamenco album in the traditional sense, but it's definitely got heavy influences in there. It's really hard to label this album as any one type of genre. There's a bit of dance, new age, progressive, rock and lots of world music in there. If you like his work on the Bozzio, Levin, Stevens stuff, then you should definitely dig this.

Personal Update...

It's been awful quite her the past week, but only quite in my digital life. My dad's mom went in to the hospital on Friday and had a valve replacement and a double bypass surgery on Tuesday (7/29/2003.) I've been over to Springfield the past two nights to visit with her. I got to see and talk to her last night after her surgery. The surgery went as well as can be expected and she seems to be recovery nicely. They were planning on making her sit up for her meals today and they wanted to get her up and moving around a bit. I haven't heard from my parents today, but I suspect she's right on target. If all goes well, she should be home by early next week—if not this weekend.

Jenn & I did a bunch of yardwork on Saturday. I cut down the lilly tree right outside my front door. I'm trying to figure out what I want to put in it's place. It was just starting to become tedious to upkeep.

The past week and a half has just been so hectic, but I can't think of what else major went on, so I guess this is it to my personal update. :)

Ailing teen gets her dream: Meeting Queensryche singer

I thought this was a good story. It's amazing what this girl must go through every day. It really makes me appreciate the things I take for granted. Anyway, the band talked about in this article, Queensryche, I saw live the other night. As a matter of fact, this is from the same tour, but obviously a different night.

Wishing on a star... Ailing teen gets her dream

Telemarketers at it again...

The telemarketing industry is really fighting the "Do Not Call" list. I find there new allegations a bit preposterous.

The service, which will be enforced beginning Oct. 1, is expected to block about 80 percent of the calls. The telemarketing industry estimates the do-not-call list could cut its business in half, costing it up to $50 billion in sales each year. Similar lawsuits brought by other telemarketers are pending.

They're claiming they could lose up to half there business. I would agree that they'd have a point if this was a list to sign up to get telemarketer calls, but this is a list for people who are fed up w/telemarketing calls. I suspect almost all 28 million people who've signed up for this list are like me and tired of picking up the phone to have a telemarketer on the other end. There's no way I'm going to buy from a telemarketer. I normally try as politely as possible to cut them off and ask them not to call. After all, I can't blame the person on the other line, they're just trying to get paid like everyone else. This just seems like another frivolous lawsuit designed to delay things.

Article: Challenging the Qur'an

A friend of mine sent me this interesting article posted on MSNBC, titled Challenging the Qur'an, which talks about a new book getting ready to be published which questions the acuracy of the current translation of the Qur'an. The chief point of the book is that the author believes that original language of the Qur'an was probably closer to Aramaic than to Arabic.

[The] copy of the Qur'an used today is a mistranscription of the original text from Muhammad's time, which according to Islamic tradition was destroyed by the third caliph, Osman, in the seventh century. But Arabic did not turn up as a written language until 150 years after Muhammad's death, and most learned Arabs at that time spoke a version of Aramaic. Rereading the Paradise passage in Aramaic, the mysterious houris turn into raisins and fruit—much more common components of the Paradise myth.

Tech TV's Cat learns software lesson the hard way...

Well Cat Schwartz, of Tech TV, recently learned a valuable lesson about computers—forunately she learned the hard way. Recently she posted some unreavling pictures of herself on her blog site—or at least what she thought was unrevealing.

However, there's an important issue to keep in mind about software—many applications save "meta data"—data that is "hidden" from the user, but embedded in the file. For Microsoft's Office products typically will keep track of all your changes to the document. This means even after selecting and deleting text from your document and saving the file, the data you delete may still be recoverable. That's why it's important to never, ever put any content into a document that you don't want viewed. You should be able to remove that hidden data in an Office application by simply opening a new document and copying all the data to a new file.

Anyway, back to Cat's situation. The pictures she was posted were editing in Adobe Photoshop. By default, Photoshop will save a thumbnail preview of your JPEG images as meta data within the file. It does this because it speeds up displaying thumbnails in their thumbnail view. The problem with this, is that the meta data isn't always updated. If you don't use the "Save As" option to save the file in a different file or don't make "dramatic" changes to the file, then the thumbnail won't be updated. You're still probably wondering where I'm going with this.


Mozilla v1.5 (Alpha) Announced/Firebird Delayed...

Mozilla v1.5 (Alpha) was just announced. There's a couple of new features, but the biggest news to me was that they've had to delay the release of Firebird. According the official Mozilla Roadmap:

It's clear now that we will not be able to switch to Mozilla Firebird by the Mozilla 1.5 final milestone. Instead, we expect Mozilla 1.5 to coincide with Mozilla Firebird 0.7. But we intend to implement the new application architecture in the next several milestones, till most of the community is won over to the new apps.

James Patten's Audiopad/Physical UI Models

Audiopad was invented by two Media Lab graduate students at MIT, James Patten and Ben Recht. To quote James' website:

Audiopad has a matrix of antenna elements which track the positions of electronically tagged objects on a tabletop surface. Software translates the position information into music and graphical feedback on the tabletop. Each object represents either a musical track or a microphone.

The demo is pretty cool. Make sure to watch the second part of it, that's the part where they really show off how it works. It's an interesting user interface (UI) that they've developed as well. Make sure to check out the videos on both the Audiopad and as well as the generic video which shows off some of the different implementations of the physical model UI elements he's working on.


Quantum Cryptography Over Fiber...

ZDNet posted an interesting article on using quantum cryptography over fiber networks. I've been quite fascinated with the idea of using quantum physics in regards to networking ever since talking with Robi about a wifi network he had some dealing with that used the quantum physics idea of "entanglement". Entanglement is even talked about within quantum teleportation. It's all very interesting reading...

Over the next few years, Elliott and others in the field may turn the information-security business on its ear. Quantum cryptography could make the secret codes that protect data transmissions far more difficult to decipher—an important feature for financial-services companies, telecom carriers, and governments. Quantum cryptography may also quickly alert systems administrators to the presence of cybersnoops, whether they be hackers, fraudsters, or corporate spies.

Saw Todd, Monica and Nicholas last night...

I went over to Todd & Monica's last night to hang out. I haven't seen Monica and Nicholas since the 3rd. Nicholas is pretty much walking all the time now. He's only crawling occasionally. He's also really starting to comprehend what you say to him. You can pretty much ask him for any toy and he'll go track it down and bring it to you. You can also ask him where people are and he'll look for them. I just love watching little kids learn. It's such an amazing thing.

Also, I got to see him ride his big wheel. I can't believe how well he manuevers that thing—and he's not even a year old yet! He stayed very close to me the whole time I was there. He'd sit on my lap, then get down, bring a toy over for us to play and then he'd want on my lap again. When I got up to leave, he jumped off Monica's lap and klung to my leg. He then held his hands up for me to pick him up. So I picked him up he gave me this big hug. When I gave him back to his mom, he just started bawling. It made me both very sad (you hate hearing a little kid so upset) and made me feel really good that he was so concerned that I was leaving. Anyway, Monica and Todd are doing a great job w/that kid! :)

TV Tuner/Monitor/Camera's for the Gameboy Advanced SP

Several manufacturers have announced add-on products for the Gameboy Advanced SP which will allow you to turn your GBASP into a TV Tuner/Monitor. While I'm not sure why turning your GBASP into a monitor is necessary, the TV tuner could prove useful at sporting events or while camping. I suppose the one use I could see for turning your GBASP into a monitor would be if the LCD display on your camera or camcorder was dead—then you could pipe in the display for those devices into the GBASP. For more information on these products, go check out Lik-Sang's website.

TV Tuner Adapter and Wireless Audio/Video Displayer (with optional Camera!) announced for GBA SP

Pictures from Dream Theater's concert...

Wayne Dennon posted pictures from the Dream Theater concert this past Friday night in Cincinnati, OH. I was at the show (as you can see from my last blog entry.) Anyone, great show and here's the pictures to prove it. (Well, ok, maybe the picture don't prove it was a great show, you'll just have to take my word on it.)

Dream Theater: Cincinnati, OH @ Annies Outdoor 7/18/2003

FW/QR/DT concert was amazing..

Well, Aaron (a co-worker of mine) and I went to the Dream Theater, Queensryche and Fates Warning concert last night. We ran into some heavy rush hour traffic when we got down to Cincy. It took us 40 minutes to move 5 miles on I71.

We ended up getting to Annie's a little before 7pm and Fates Warning was already on stage—which sucks cause the ticket said they go on at 7pm. By the time we got in to the the stage area, we only go to see about 2 minutes of their last song. They were off the stage by 7:20 or so. Although I got to hear a number of there songs while waiting in line to get in, I was disappointed not to see them. One of the main reasons I really wanted to see this show was to see Frank Aresti back with the band and to see Nick Di'Virgio (of Spock's Beard) playing Mark Zonder's drum parts. Anyway, they sounded really good—Ray's voice was as strong as ever. (Although I'm didn't like the dyed green hair...)

Queensryche came on next and they were a pleasant surprise. They only played one song from the post "Empire" area, which is what they opened up with—it's a tune on the new album. They sounded pretty decent, but Mike Stone can't even hold DeGarmo's jock strap. He really massacred Chris' guitar solos. With DeGarmo back in the band, I was hoping he was on tour with them. Stone didn't play any of DeGarmo's solos correctly. When you've listen to the album Mindcrime as much as I have (and most QR fans have,) it's like blasphemy not to stick to playing the solos note for note.


CFMX: RedSky Gone Gold?

First off, I'm not on the RedSky beta—I knew I wouldn't really have any time to "test" the product, so I didn't bother signing up for the beta. Anyway, I heard via the ol' grapevine that RedSky went "gold" today. I have no idea how reliable the person I heard this from is, but we'll find out in a couple of days how accurate this "rumor" is.