The Snoozeletter @ s.9TimeZones.com

 
PT Fini.

Halle-f*cking-lujah! I busted out of Pain Prison (Physical Therapy) today. Current range of motion: 165 degrees in the forward direction (flexion), 157 to the side (abduction).

180 is Optimal, 150 is Functional.

I am delighted to be Functional.

And my one-and-only New Year's Resolution is to make 2009 a less painful year than 2008.
 
Sarah Palin For Vice Commissar!

My friend John just sent this link to an article in the Wall Street Journal: As if Things Weren't Bad Enough, Russian Professor Predicts End of U.S.:

"For a decade, Russian academic Igor Panarin has been predicting the U.S. will fall apart in 2010. [...] Around the end of June 2010, or early July, he says, the U.S. will break into six pieces -- with Alaska reverting to Russian control."

Hot damn! Let's run Sarah Palin for Vice Commissar!!
 
Google Maps Street View.

Cool. Google has finally brought its patented "street view" to some of the most scenic places in the world. To get started, click any of the links below and a satellite photo will open in a new window. You can zoom in and out by clicking the vertical bar on the left side of the image. Zoom out until you see the red place marker, and drag the photo so the red marker is near its center.

Then, if you click and drag the little yellow-orange guy from the top of the bar into the photo, some of the streets will turn blue. Drop the little guy (or the green circle under the little guy) onto one of the blue streets, and you will be right there, looking around at street level!

If you click and drag the street-view photo, you can spin your view 360 degrees. Up and down, too. Stare at the sky. Stare at the pavement. Zoom in or out to get a better look. Then click the white street arrows, and take a leisurely stroll:

Coliseum, Rome

Eiffel Tower, Paris

Badwater salt flat, Death Valley, California (282 feet below sea level, lowest point in North America)

Empire State Building, NYC

Other places
 
How I became a Twit.

I signed up for a Twitter account several months back, just because I can't stand to be left out. After nosing around for several minutes, I dismissed it as just another time sump on the Internet machine.

Then, last spring, one of my friends asked if I Twittered. I laughed. Loud. Microblogging, as it's known, was much more fun when it was called "moblogging" and could handle pictures.

During the Mumbai attacks, Twitter earned some instant respect. But I still resisted.

Even when I found out ex-V.P. Al Gore and The Daily Show's John Hodgman had Twitter accounts, I couldn't get excited about the service. I suspected Gore's Nobel-winning thumbs didn't type in his own tweets, anyway. Even if his mobile phone *is* in iTap mode.

But now we have Thaumatrope, the first twittering eZine. They feature 140-word stories, as mentioned earlier. And even if it's not readily apparent that one guy is pretending to do a series of tweets from the future, and even if you can't understand that somebody else is doing book reviews, and even if you don't want to compromise your Twitter password in order to submit, I guarantee that you will like Thaumatrope.

Mainly because I sold a couple of pieces to them. ;-)

PS: I'm posting the rejects (one so far) in my own Twitter account.

***

Related memes: txt msg lit classix, cellphone novels, 6-word stories, 4-word film reviews (mine), 154-character story contest, 150-character stories (mine), 0-word stories (with long titles).

***

UPDATE: Don't hold your breath, while you're looking for my stories. I just found out they're scheduled to appear in August, 2009.
 
Thaumatrope. 140 characters or less.

Ya gotta love this twittering e-zine...

From thaumatrope.greententacles.com: "Thaumatrope is a magazine for Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror fiction under 140 characters, available on your mobile phone via Twitter.
—edited by @nelilly."

A thaumatrope is a small disc containing a pair of images, tied between two bits of string. When the disc is spun the two images become one. The thaumatrope relies on the principle certain toys use to create illusions of motion. As it spins the quick flashes are seen as one image.
 
Hurts So Good. [The latest in a series of pain reports.]

Two days ago, I was able to raise my right arm 162 degrees in the forward direction and 145 to the side. Plus, the Polish dominatrix and I have set an end date: December 31... which means I only need to survive five more PT (Physical Therapy, or Pain & Torture) sessions with her. That will bring my grand total to 55 two-hour sessions, spread over the last seven months.

I often wish the surgeon hadn't done such a tight repair on this badly-damaged shoulder.

My range of movement probably won't reach a full 180 degrees by then, but the insurance deductible kicks in again on January 1, and I don't have a few thousand extra bucks lying around. So I'll either have to (1) accept the reduced mobility, or (2) rely on self-torture sessions.

Gawd, I love America's health-care system.

In the middle of Tuesday's workout, I was standing in the corner of the PT gym, doing a shoulder-stretching exercise. While staring at the wall, I listened to the physical therapists working, as evidenced by the half-muffled cries and involuntary whimpers of pain coming from the other patients: "Ooo. Ah. Ohhhhhhhh. Uh-uh-uh."

That's when a flash of inspiration hit me. So I turned around and said: "You know, we should record ourselves, and sell it as the soundtrack for a porno flick."

The line got a big laugh. PT humor is an acquired taste.

***

John Cougar: American FoolHurts So Good
written by John Mellencamp, George M. Green
performed by John Cougar (Mellencamp)

When I was a young boy, said put away those young boy ways.
Now that I'm gettin' older, so much older, I love all those young boy days.
With a girl like you, with a girl like you,
Lord knows there are things we can do, baby, just me and you.
Come on and make it...

[CHORUS] hurt so good. Come on baby, make it hurt so good.
Sometimes love don't feel like it should. You make it hurt so good.

You don't have to be so excitin' - just tryin' to give myself a little bit of fun, yeah.
You always look so invitin' - you ain't as green as you are young.
Hey baby, it's you. Come on girl, now it's you.
Sink your teeth right through my bones, baby, let's see what we can do.
Come on and make it...
CHORUS

I ain't talkin' no big deals; I ain't made no plans myself.
I ain't talkin' no high heels; maybe we could walk around all day long... walk around all day long.
CHORUS
 
The brotherhood of the shoe.

Iraqi journalist Muntadar al-Zaidi (a reporter for a Cairo-based TV channel) threw one of his shoes at Lame Duck Dubya (video), just after shouting: "This is a gift from the Iraqis, this is the farewell kiss, you dog!"

As al-Zaidi threw his other shoe, he shouted: "This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq!"

Mr. al-Zaidi, we salute you. Many of us have wanted to throw a shoe or two at that murderous clown for a LONG time.

***

UPDATES: the Guardian is reporting that al-Zaidi has suffered internal bleeding, in addition to sustaining an eye injury, plus a broken hand and ribs, while in custody. They also say that al-Zaidi was locked up in January by American troops who searched his building, but he was released after a day with an apology.

The BBC says that thousands of Iraqis have gathered to demand his release.

Skip Mendler of Honesdale, PA has a great idea. He suggests that everyone who is disgusted with the outgoing Bush/Cheney administration send a shoe to the White House. Just imagine a pile up of a million smelly old shoes in the White House mailroom! I think he's onto something. Spread the word.

The Russian News & Information Agency, RIA Novosti, reports that:

1) a Saudi businessman has offered $10 million for just ONE of the shoes;

2) al-Zaidi could face up to 7 1/2 years in prison for assaulting the leader of a foreign country;

3) over 100 lawyers, including Saddam Hussein's former lawyer, have volunteered to defend the Iraqi journalist.
 
I wanna start a fight.

P!nk: FunhouseThis P!nk song is stuck in my head. Now it'll be stuck in yours, too. Na na na na na na na. [Video@P!nksPage] [YouTube] [YouTube Bimbo Jones Full Remix]

So What!
Written by Shellback (Johan Karl Schuster), Max Martin and P!nk (Alecia Moore)

I guess I just lost my husband
I don't know where he went
So I'm gonna drink my money
I'm not gonna pay his rent (nope)
I got a brand new attitude
And I'm gonna wear it tonight
I wanna get in trouble
I wanna start a fight

Pink video stillsNa na na na na na na
I wanna start a fight
Na na na na na na na
I wanna start a fight

So, so what!
I'm still a rock star
I got my rock moves
And I don't need you
And guess what
I'm having more fun
And now that we're done
I'm gonna show you tonight
I'm alright, I'm just fine
And you're a tool
So, so what!
I am a rock star
I got my rock moves
And I don't want you tonight

Uh, check my flow, uh

The waiter just took my table
And gave to Jessica Simp- shit!
I guess I'll go sit with drum boy
At least he'll know how to hit
What if this song's on the radio
Then somebody's gonna die
I'm gonna get in trouble
My ex will start a fight

Na na na na na na na
He's gonna start a fight
Na na na na na na na
We're all gonna get in a fight!

So, so what!
I'm still a rock star
I got my rock moves
And I don't need you
And guess what
I'm having more fun
And now that we're done
I'm gonna show you tonight
I'm alright, I'm just fine
And you're a tool
So, so what!
I am a rock star
I got my rock moves
And I don't want you tonight

You weren't there
You never were
You weren't all
But that's not fair
I gave you life
I gave my all
You weren't there
You let me fall

So, so what!
I'm still a rock star
I got my rock moves
And I don't need you
And guess what
I'm having more fun
And now that we're done
I'm gonna show you tonight
I'm alright, I'm just fine
And you're a tool
So, so what!
I am a rock star
I got my rock moves
And I don't want you tonight

No no, no no
I don't want you tonight
You weren't there
I'm gonna show you tonight
I'm alright, I'm just fine
And you're a tool
So, so what!
I am a rock star
I got my rock moves
And I don't want you tonight

Ba da da da da da
 
Web 2.0? Or Is It More Like Web 16.0?

It has become difficult to keep up with the meanings of all the new phrases and terms generated by modern technology. One of the most commonly used phrases on the world wide web (www) today is "Web 2.0." It seems like every web solutions company is using this phrase to sell its stuff. So to the average Joe who's not a geek, what is "Web 2.0"?

Well according to Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia...

"[T]he phrase Web 2.0 can refer to a perceived second generation of web-based communities and hosted services - such as social-networking sites, wikis, and folksonomies [collaborative tagging schemes] - which aim to facilitate creativity, collaboration, and sharing between users. The term gained currency following the first O'Reilly Media Web 2.0 conference in 2004. Although the term suggests a new version of the World Wide Web, it does not refer to an update to any technical specifications, but to changes in the ways software developers and end-users use webs. According to Tim O'Reilly, 'Web 2.0 is the business revolution in the computer industry caused by the move to the Internet as platform, and an attempt to understand the rules for success on that new platform.' Some technology experts, notably Tim Berners-Lee, have questioned whether one can use the term in a meaningful way, since many of the technology components of 'Web 2.0' have existed since the early days of the Web."

There is no doubt the www has advanced significantly since inception, but there really is no new version of the www. It is simply much more useful to the everyday person.

However, if we counted each major innovation as a whole number and each minor revision as a tenth, we would already be into double digits. So why are we calling it "Web 2.0"?

If you have seen the latest Die Hard movie, or ever bought software for your computer, you will understand why we are not in Web 2.0. Even if we call it Die Hard 4.0 or MS Office 2007, it's still basically the same movie or tool. So what we are really experiencing now is more like Web 16.0.

If you have an in-depth, honest conversation with your web designers, they will tell you that Web 2.0 is a myth. So to explain how we got to Web 16.0, here's a history of the most significant events on the www.

WEB 0.1 -- 1958 - SAGE - Radar systems are first networked
WEB 0.2 -- 1960 - Packet switching is first created

WEB 1.0 - EMAIL - "A New Way to Send Unsolicited Mail Is Born"

Although the exact history of Email is a tad murky, it is generally accepted that it appeared in 1965, and was created so that people accessing a mainframe could communicate with each other. This was the first step in the interconnection of people, facilitating almost instant communication at no cost to the user.

WEB 1.1 -- 1967 - Markup language is created < / end >
WEB 1.2 -- 1969 - ARPA - A link is established between computers
WEB 1.3 -- 1969 - ARPA Net - First packet-switched network created

WEB 2.0 - WYSIWYG - "What You See Is What You Get (sometimes)"

With the invention of WYSIWYG in 1970, users could now be presented with a basic display of what their finished product would look like, as they were working on it. This removed the need to memorize complex code.

WEB 2.1 -- 1970 - ASP - First Application Service Provider (SAAS)
WEB 2.2 -- 1970 - Style sheets are created
WEB 2.3 -- 1971 - @ is created to separate hosts and users
WEB 2.4 -- 1973 - TCP/IP is created to simplify networking
WEB 2.5 -- 1973 - First connection to another country established
WEB 2.6 -- 1974 - The term "Internet" is adopted
WEB 2.7 -- 1976 - X.25 - The first network standard is approved
WEB 2.8 -- 1978 - International packet switching service created

WEB 3.0 - USENET - "The Black Market of the Internet"

Usenet was established in 1980 to offer mail and file transfers as well as give personal users access to news. Usenet is in fact a large network of servers all in communication with each other; a user posts something to the local server and that item is passed along to the other servers. Usenet was a major turning point because users could finally have an open conversation with anyone on the net, without needing to specifically know the user (unlike Email). The downside is that with a sometimes un-policed net capable of file transfers, the Usenet of today is a haven for piracy of all types, where anything you can imagine is accessible.

WEB 3.1 -- 1979 - Email is made available to personal computer users, millions of Nigerian Princes suddenly need public help

WEB 4.0 - REAL TIME CHAT - Going Outside Deemed "Obsolete"

Real-Time Chat was created in 1980 following users' frustrations with Usenet articles sometimes taking 24 hours to be updated. This signaled a turning point: online conversations became instant, albeit isolated into segregated groups.

WEB 4.1 -- 1980 - First ISPs created providing dialup internet
WEB 4.2 -- 1981 - TCP/IP becomes a standard
WEB 4.3 -- 1981 - US/Europe/Canada/Hong-Kong/Australia connect
WEB 4.4 -- 1983 - TCP/IP becomes the only standard
WEB 4.5 -- 1983 - First wide area network using TCP/IP operational
WEB 4.6 -- 1985 - FTP - The File Transfer Protocol is created
WEB 4.7 -- 1988 - IRC - Internet Relay Chat is created
WEB 4.8 -- 1988 - Bulletin Board Systems and Forums created

WEB 5.0 - HTML/HTTP/Web Pages - "It Has Begun..."

Around 1980, many researchers were using the internet, but they had no single way to create/display "documents" (web pages). Physicist Tim Berners-Lee and his colleagues needed a simple system for creating/displaying documents, but found that existing systems were too commercial, platform-specific or complicated for the average user. So they created their own relatively simple system, consisting of browsing software called "WorldWideWeb," a protocol for transmitting the information (HTTP) and a document annotation convention called "Hyper Text Markup Language" (HTML). This meant anyone could now create web pages using their simple language.

WEB 5.1 -- 1989 - Images can now be animated, oh the horror!
WEB 5.2 -- 1990 - The network now covers the entire world (publicly)

WEB 6.0 - Search - "Did You Mean: Google?"

Before 1990, there was no way to find a page; you had to know the specific location. Around 1991, search engines began indexing (storing) the content they found, giving users the ability to search for a page even if they didn't know the page's location.

WEB 6.1 -- 1991 - DNS - Dynamic Naming System is created
WEB 6.2 -- 1991 - The first text-based browser is created

WEB 7.0 - DHTML - "Because Non-Scrolling Text Is Boring"

The web was static until Dynamic HTML (DHTML) was created. DHTML introduced client-side scripting, allowing authors to include code in their web pages that performed an action upon being downloaded onto a user's computer. DHTML introduced rollover buttons and drop-down menus on web pages. It goes a long way to making the web more personalized.

WEB 7.1 -- 1993 - The first graphics based browsers are created
WEB 7.2 -- 1993 - Screen casts are first created
WEB 7.3 -- 1994 - Wikis are created; Britannica begins holding its breath
WEB 7.4 -- 1994 - The World Wide Web Consortium is formed
WEB 7.5 -- 1994 - CSS - Cascading Style Sheets created

WEB 8.0 - ONLINE DIARIES - "Teens Reportedly Misunderstood"

Online diaries were first created in 1994 as a means for people to store their diaries online for personal or public reading. Writers could now reach almost anyone worldwide at practically no cost, and everyone could create editorials on whatever subjects they liked, without fear of censorship.

WEB 8.1 -- 1996 - The first social bookmarking site created

WEB 9.0 - RANKED RESULTS - "The Online Popularity Contest"

Search engine results helped find things, but many of the results were useless or had nothing to do with the keywords used. As of 1996, search results started to be ranked based on a multitude of things, like how popular a page is. This made searching faster and easier, and significantly less painful.

WEB 9.1 -- 1996 - Flash is created, whole websites can now be animated
WEB 9.2 -- 1997 - The term "Blog" is adopted

WEB 10.0 - HIRED BLOGGERS - "Wow Isn't Product X Great!"

As of 1997, personal diaries began to evolve to what became known as "blogs." Many corporate websites and personal homepages had (and still do have) news sections, these were traditionally updated manually in a back-end system. With the advent of blogs, the commercial sector jumped in, seeing a new marketing medium.

WEB 10.1 -- 1998 - The first audio news site is created
WEB 10.2 -- 1999 - The first web-based operating system is created

WEB 11.0 - RSS - "Newspapers Deemed Obsolete"

Really Simple Syndication (RSS) was created due to the lack of a universal feed format. The creation of RSS means that users could now "subscribe" to feeds containing video, audio, text, or graphics. Users no longer had to trawl the web for new information, they could "subscribe" to a feed and have it sent to them directly.

WEB 12.0 - REMOTE SCRIPTING - "Waiting For 4 Seconds Now History!"

Remote scripting allows scripts running inside a browser to exchange information with a server, so that scripts could be triggered locally, processed remotely and have information returned directly to the browser. This made the web faster and easier to use, and removed the need to refresh the page for simple tasks like sorting.

WEB 12.1 -- 2001 - Blogs evolve from online diaries

WEB 13.0 - PODCASTING - "Now Everyone Can Avoid Listening To You By Choice Rather Than Circumstance!"

Podcasting originated as a portmanteau of the iPod® and broadcasting, although "portable on demand broadcasting" has now become the widely-accepted definition. Originally Podcasting was created to allow individuals to distribute their own radio shows, but it has become popular for a wide variety of things, from educational materials to the latest gaming news. Podcasting opens up distribution of audio content to anyone with a server, with users "subscribing" to the RSS feeds that appeal to them.

WEB 13.1 -- 2002 - Folksonomy is created, giving rise to "tags"

WEB 14.0 - VIDEO PODCASTING - "Web-Based One-Sided Conversations"

Shortly after Podcasting became popular, video Podcasting was created as a means to send the equivalent of TV episodes to users. Though similar to podcasting, the content was not limited to just "TV episodes". Video Podcasting opens up the video medium so that making a TV show is possible for anyone.

WEB 15.0 - VOIP - "High Tech, Dodgy Sounding Free Calls"

With the Voice Over Internet Protocol, telephone audio is sent over the internet, rather than a traditional phone line. This removes almost all cost involved, and also removes the need to have a physical phone line. What this means for consumers is calling becomes much simpler, easier and significantly cheaper.

WEB 16.0 - SAAS - "The Industry Makes a SaaS of Itself."

Software as a Service (SaaS) is just a new term for a concept that has been around since the dawn of the internet (ASP from 1970). SaaS refers to using a piece of software run/provided through the internet, and instead of paying a large one-off purchase price, you "rent" the software for as long as needed. So while SaaS is the buzzword of the day, the concept is decades old.

...The CONCLUSION?

So if you follow the basic rule that each total upgrade is a new ".0" then we are nowhere near Web 2.0. The story is really one of falling price, increasing reliability and bandwidth, coupled with ubiquitous access.

Simply put, "Web 2.0" is just shorthand for the development process outlined above. Bottom line, the web is really becoming what the web really always should have been.

***

Article researched and written by: Julian Stone, Sam Law - Project and Time Management Specialists from ProActive Software - proworkflow.com, Peter Hodge - Editor and Contributor from InfoNews - infonews.co.nz. Disclaimer: Facts are as accurate as could be researched at the time. Note: If reproducing this article, the links and paragraph above must be included.

***

I (Alan) edited the article above, while freelancing for an SEO company. The authors wanted to syndicate their work, so my job was to get it into decent shape. I thought the content was impressive, but as you can see from the earlier versions (1, 2), it definitely needed the edit. ;-)
 
Hungary hates me.

According to this recent news report on Budapest's Channel 2, Santa Claus is having a hard time coping with the global economic crisis.

In fact, things are so bad that he has chosen to deliver gifts to only one person this year.

Guess who.

[Translation of the screenshot below: "Alan C. Baird, you lucky dawg!" (graffiti) "BULLETIN - HUNGARIAN NATION DIVIDED BY SANTA'S DECISION. 2008.12.04. Stock market plunges. Chocolate factories near bankruptcy."]

Click for TRL2 report
 
An AZ Xmas. 

Saguaro decorations in Apache Junction, about 4 miles from our house (click image for 6-photo slideshow):

Saguaro slideshow

See also: White Christmas: Berlin/McPhatter/Held and Rudolph's Revenge and Drive hammered, get nailed and Holiday Rum Cake and Christmas tree angel and A Festivus for the rest of us and Alice's Restaurant and 7,000 Macedonians in full battle array and Letter To Santa: The Ransom Note and Inexcusable liberties with the milkmaids and Christmas split.
 
Write Or Die.

Dr. Wicked's productivity tool is "a web application that encourages writing by punishing the tendency to avoid writing. Start typing in the box. As long as you keep typing, you're fine, but once you stop typing, you have a grace period of a certain number of seconds and then there are consequences."

Gentle Mode: after you stop typing, a reminder box will pop up.
Normal Mode: after you stop typing, you will hear an unpleasant sound.
Kamikaze Mode: after you stop typing, your work will be erased... one word at a time.
 
Mumbai 2 København... perception of life satisfaction and quality of life remains high among European citizens, low among Islamic terrorists.

Executive Summary: on November 19, 2008, Eurofound (the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, an EU policy organization) presented its "Second European Quality of Life Survey (2EQLS) - First Findings." The following editorial compares and contrasts 2EQLS with the "Third Islamic Terrorist Quality of Life Survey" (3ITQLS), a completely imaginary report hypothesized from the actions of the terrorists responsible for the recent violence in Mumbai, India.

According to 2EQLS, Europeans are smugly satisfied with their quality of life, but levels vary somewhat between countries, with Denmark finishing consistently near the top. The survey was carried out by Eurofound, a Dublin-based EU Agency, and offers a unique insight into quality of life in Europe.

By contrast, 3ITQLS found that terrorists are pretty ticked off about their quality of life, with the levels showing surprisingly little variation.

On a scale of 1 to 10, Europeans rate their life satisfaction at 7 (Denmark=8.5) and happiness at 7.5 (Denmark=8.3), while terrorists rate both their life satisfaction and happiness near 0.

Standards of living and reported well-being of Europeans are closely related to the economy of the country in which they live. The survey found that the proportion of people who suffer multiple deprivations, i.e. those who could not afford 2 or 3 of the 6 basic life necessities, is 5 times higher in the 12 new EU Member States than in the 15 original EU countries.

Among the terrorists, multiple deprivations of 5 or 6 are the norm, rather than the exception.

Access to, and quality of, health care services are important factors for social protection. A substantial number of Europeans, however, report difficulty in accessing health care services. The terrorists, on the other hand, generally respond to health care questions with, "What's a doctor?"

Health and quality of family relationships are usually ranked the most important aspect of quality of life for Europeans. Family remains for most Europeans the first port of call for support in emergencies, as well as for child and elder care. But the small percentage of terrorists who still have family members remaining alive tend to experience their family connections in one of two ways: (1) the family members are held as hostages, to ensure the terrorist will carry out attacks in support of The Cause, or (2) the family members are promised small--but to them, significant--cash payments if/when the terrorist loses his life in The Cause.

2EQLS also looks at assessment of the quality of the environment and society; for example, it presents measures of trust in other people and institutions. When asked to rate their level of trust from 1 to 10, Europeans responded with rankings between 2.6 (Cyprus) and 7.2 (Denmark). 3ITQLS found levels of trust among Islamic terrorists ranging between 0 and 0.2.

Recommendation: if the Islamic terrorists were relocated to Denmark, the widely disparate ratings of life satisfaction and happiness should equalize fairly quickly, especially considering the Danish predilection for publishing cartoons of the prophet Muhammad.
 
Shiba Inu Puppy Cam.

Live from San Francisco, as featured on CNN.

Update, December 7: the first set of puppies will soon be placed in new homes (maybe today), but now there's a SECOND set of kicsi kutyus cuteness, from West Chester, Pennsylvania!