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Rosary Army

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Top 10 Astronomy Photos for 2006

I had seen some of these photos during the year, but I had not heard of #1 (the last displayed) which is an amazing photo taken by the Cassini spacecraft from the far side of Saturn looking towards the sun. The earth is in the photo.

I also like #9 painting the moon and #5 the shuttle and space station passing the across the face of the sun.

Combining External Scripts in Retrospect

Retrospect (backup software) comes with a number of external scripts. One I use to e-mail reports on backup success and failures. I needed to add another that would shut down a Domino server and then restart it after successful backups. The help files say: “If you need to run multiple scripts you will have to combine them.” So with that little clue, I spent time figuring out how to modify a DOS batch file. The secret ended up creating a series of “IF” statements up front that would identify the calling scripts (alternating weekly backup scripts) that needed to shut down the Domino server. My mods in bold….

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Banks (Rushing To) Add On-Line Security

I’m glad Ted wrote this timely post, Stupid Site-Key, about ING and their excessive security measures. You can tell 2006 is coming to an end because January 2007 is the deadline for banks to add extra security for on-line banking.

jp_6117_SID.jpgETrade added keyfobs over a year ago. Kathy and I got two free keyfobs, and while it made it more difficult to access, I actually appreciate the security given that is where we store most of our investments.

hsbc-keyboard.pngHSBC added a second password that has to be “clicked” in using a little on-line keyboard. In this way, crooks cannot use a “keylogger” to capture what you are typing. I didn’t mind this step so much, but then they decided last month that my passwords were not complicated enough and they quit working. There was no explanation of this until I called in and talked to a very nice person on the other end of the phone. However, the nice person had to ask me a lot of personal questions so that he was convinced I was who I said I was. I agree with Ted I don’t like giving out this personal information and will start making up answers (that I can remember.) I store hints to my passwords in notepad.yahoo.com (Mom… you may want to do the same.) I store lots of things in notepad.yahoo.com. Very useful because I can get to my notes and tips from anywhere on the internet.

But what really made me mad about HSBC was that they decided to cut off automated access using Quicken. I use Quicken to go gather all transactions from my various checking, savings, credit card, and investment accounts. I will not even open an account unless it supports Quicken. However, HSBC has decided this is not secure because it relies on Intuit (Quicken) security and not their own. Now I have to log in and download a special file (qfx) to import my transactions. Still saves keying in the transactions, but it is more of a hassle.

So I went off looking to move my money to ING. But they have also turned off automatic access from Quicken. And with Ted’s post, I think I’ll stay away from ING and just stick with HSBC.

By the way, it is going to get stranger as you start getting asked questions like “what was the square footage of the house you owned in 1986.” This happened to me recently. I had no idea, but the bank did because they were using a service that combs public records for “out of wallet” information. They call it out of wallet, because it is information you are not likely to have in your stolen wallet.

In this case, it is good to have a spouse who remembers square footages.

[Written on Dell 840c Laptop running Fedora 5 with FireFox for Linux. Used built in screenshot and GIMP graphic editor to create graphics.]

Three New Mac Ads

The “Get A Mac” ads have become a form of mini-entertainment in our household. New ads are newsworthy enough to be announced on My Yahoo and so I end up seeing them over the internet before TV.

I’m pleased to report that one of the new ads mentions “checkbook” twice… even if it was the PC bringing it up.

Long live the Mac. Long live the checkbook.


AdBlock Plus

I use FireFox as my browser, in part to avoid what I believe are greater security risks using Internet Explorer. I use FireFox on Windows and Mac.

The number of video ads have been growing on the sites I visit to read up on news, especially on My Yahoo and in blogs. I did a search for advertising blockers on the FireFox web page and found AdBlock Plus.

It installed very easily, and asked me to pick an ad blocking filter service. I chose the first one called EasyList (USA). I went to My Yahoo and was very happy to see no banner ad at the top. Not only was it not showing, but all the news items shifted up so the banner space was put to better use.


I went to one of my favorite blogs and found good news there, too. No moving iTunes ad that I was used to seeing. Although I actually felt a little bad about that, since I’d much rather support Scot than Yahoo.

Later as I worked on updating our church website, I found a surprise. The random photo in the header did not show. I quickly figured out it was because I was using the banner ad feature in Joomla, which is the system I use to update the site. Instead of showing banner ads, I show snapshots from the church photo gallery. If someone clicks on the photo, it jumps to the photo album. Much more fun than real banner ads, but AdBlock Plus doesn’t know that. It just sees the word “banner” in the image source path so it blocks it.

Quickly figured out that a click on the “ADP” button let me choose… “Disable blocks from www.sjnlilburn.com.” The ADB button turned from red to green, and the photos are back.


I recommend FireFox and AdBlock Plus!

Ted Poolside

Mom really liked the photo we were able to take around the pool at Anna Maria this year, but alas, Ted was unable to be in the photo because he was tending to Clio. Not to be deterred by the laws of physics, Mom took a photo of Ted in her backyard so that he could be incorporated into the family photo. I used PhotoShop Elements (which is a simplified version of PhotoShop.) It was amazingly easily to bring in the photo because the lighting in Mom’s backyard was so similar to the pool shot.

ted-backyard.jpg Family_Picture_Anna_Marie_Ted.sized.jpg

In a similar trick, I had Grant take a photo of me on the front porch at Anna Maria so I could crop myself into a group shot. Grant and I still crack up at Dad posing in the photo with me (he was in the target photo.) That can be seen in the Anna Maria gallery where Ted has now officially joined the vacation (digitally.)

The Bad Y2K (revisited)

In late 1999, a group of us with kids in tow went on a holiday weekend in Cloudland State Park. We stayed in cabins. I wrote a poem called “The Bad Y2K,” got some of the kids to help illustrate it, and I created a website on AOL using the screen name TheBadY2K. It is still there. Probably will last as long as AOL. [As it continues to decline, AOL shut off member web page services. Moved to mac5. – JC 1/16/2009]

I don’t know how many other people wrote poems about Y2K and had them illustrated by kids, but I felt like this provided some unique, historical insight into the “Year 2000 Problem.” So a link can now be found at the bottom of this Wikipedia entry: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Y2k.