Sunday, October 31, 2004

Plumb out!

Gee, there must be lots more kids in our neighborhood (Foxborough). We did the "2 pieces per" out of what we thought was a big bowl, and ran out by, oh, 6:15! So it's turn off the lights, shut the blinds and ... sorrreeeee;-/

A "community" news service - by the community?

Well, if this isn't a potential antidote to the blog as navel-gazing "Me Magazine" diary writing, I don't know what is.

Ever heard of Wikipedia? The open-source encyclopedia that anyone can add to, edit, etc.? Risky biz, for sure - but quite the wondrous site to check out.

Now, there's a movement afoot, to do something similar with the news. Wikinews is already creating quite a debate, even controversy about its potential use (or abuse), value and worthiness.

I sure like the idea, myself. I've offered to help, maybe with that unsung but most important of jobs - proofreading. (Seeing as how I'm always better at catching others' typos than my own;-)

But in reading Dan Gillmor's "We The Media," I'm reminded of the notion that journalists have too high an opinion of themselves - that yes, we have special training and unique experience, but the whole idea of the Web and the Net is that everyone has a voice - and gets to use it.

Will this work? I have no idea. But it'll be fun to help - a collaborative process, far from the insularity of blogging and looking for folks to stop by. This will be a major thoroughfare, with all the pluses/minuses that entails. If folks behave themselves and work (and play) to their better instincts, it'll sure beat the Sims Online or Chat Room 1,034 as a place to see things happen, and make things happen.

Or not;-)

Oh, and by the way - objectivity in the news is taking a beating from some quarters who claim it's not fair to give the "wrong" side/"questionable" points of view equal time.

Poppycock. NPOV is my favorite new acronym - stands for Neutral Point of View. It's explained wonderfully here at Wikipedia. I'll have to go back and read it slowly, because it makes the kind of points I've been trying to make in much more reasoned, in-depth fashion.

Saturday, October 23, 2004


Riff off a stand-up routine I saw many moons ago - okay, sing along!:

"Seventy-six trombones led the big parade ... there was nobody else!"

"Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket ... AAAAIIIEEEEE!"

"Imagine me and you ... I don't."

"Every time it rains, it rains - that much is certain." (Borrowed from Brother Rick;-)

"I just called to say I lo - (click)"

Okay, not as funny as a good episode of "Scrubs" (never saw a bad one). But hopefully at least a smile;-)

Friday, October 15, 2004

Google does it right (again)

As a guy named Barney who knows the song "Barney Google," but doesn't exactly have "goo-goo-googly eyes" (as far as I know), I've always had a soft spot for the Kings and Queens of Search.

So I downloaded the Google Desktop Search with more excitement than trepidation, figuring they'd do it right, as they have everything else (okay, I wish Blogger had more oomph, but it sure works nice and is simple).

And they did. It didn't take long at all to index ALL of my .doc and .txt files, Outlook e-mail, Web sites, etc. And I used it within a couple of hours to find a piece of notes from several months ago, and it came up lightning quick.

Bravo. In fact, said so on Jeff Jarvis' Buzz Machine site (a favorite blog, BTW), and someone responded: "I'm with Barney, this thing is amazingly fast. Makes the XP search look like a horse & buggy. And it'll find whatever you've got. Hell, I've got porn I'd completely forgotten about."

Hmmmm.... time for another search;-)

Ow, that hurt

Some doofus (trying to be kind) who was camped out by the railroad tracks next to the Bend Parkway (nice, quiet spot - yeah right) caused a lot of people a lot of grief today.

He fell asleep with a lantern burning, and knocked it over, and started a fire, and tried to put it out, but he couldn't, so he called 911, and the fire got bad enough it burned some wires overhead - but not just any wires, but the freakin' BendBroadband fiber-optic wires, the ones made of glass, thin as a hair, that carry light (and a whole lot of data), and melt. And which it takes some specialized wiring to fix.

Soooo ... though BendBroadband says it only affected about 5,700 subscribers, I have a feeling a lot more of their almost-30,000 customers felt the pain, for several hours (here's my story about the mess). And most folks really don't have a backup for this stuff - it's cable-modem or nothin. (DSL customers today could chuckle and feel sorry, I suppose.)

It sure throws off the rhythm -- I didn't get to two things I wanted to cover today, and it took quite a while to catch up on e-mail, etc. I've already heard the city manager on the radio, saying he wants to make sure (the city also uses the cable system for Net-based phones!) they have redundancy, like Qwest created for its phone lines after several really dumb, really widespread outages.

But what's a home user (or home-office) user to do? We haven't had a "real modem" for a long, long time, and to have both DSL and the cable modem is ... well, ridiculous (and priced like that, too;-) BendBroadband does have a great service and a great up-time percentage, but when one has one's digital eggs all in one's basket, one would like that basket to be made of titanium alloy. (Though who could lift, or afford, that?;-)

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Moderate in wilderness says: 'Eureka! I found it!'

In a way, I feel like a fool - or at the least, like a less-than-professional Google-searcher.

A few months back, I wrote something that was more of a St. Helens-style venting of steam (and ash) than it was a reasoned piece of political discourse. I called it "A Moderate's Manifesto," and it kvetched about how sick I was (and I'm sure by this point in the election season, many of you are) of the extremist screaming that passes for political debate these days.

Before writing it, I went Googlin' with some search terms that related to "moderates" or "moderate politics" and couldn't come up with stuff better than out of Sweden, for goodness sake. Still, my pal Jake at was kind enough to post it, and it apparently drew some interest from here and there.

Then, this past weekend, I finally got out of Bend for more than 48 hours - the first time in more than a year. And while my darlin' wife got to attend her Women of Faith convention, I got to spend a couple semi-rainy days at Powell's Bookstore, the Western Hemisphere's reading hangout, where I picked up a fun lil mag, Utne Reader, that I peruse on occasion.

And that's where I found it: the article about the movement that I just knew HAD to be out there, but couldn't put my digital finger on. In this case, it's called the Radical Middle, and while it may be a bit more Radical and a bit less Middle than to my immediate liking, I soon had grabbed the only copy (left) of the book by the same name, which led me to the Website, which in turn has led to such interesting groups (and sites) as the Centrist Coalition.

I personally feel that Radical Middle author Mark Satin has, while putting his fingers on the pulse of something, may have gone too far for many who would just like rational, reasonable debate over issues and some out-of-the-box thinking without throwing away the box. The idea of a combined draft-or-community service requirement for all young Americans of a certain age has its pluses, but I'm not sure how the idea of federalizing ALL public education funding would go over.

To me, it's far more important that there's places out there where people are trying to get beyond the ideas of "opponent as Devil Incarnate" (Rush Limbaugh buys into that on one extreme, Al Franken and most Bush-haters on the other) and look not for "Kumbaya"-singing waffle-fests, but real answers to tough issues that deserve more than rhetoric and finger-pointing. Once you get into the specifics, people might peel off -- but setting up the structure for dialogue beyond the screeds of the Major Party Machines is the crucial part, to my way of thinking.

Nevertheless, I think I've finally found the Mother Lode, when it comes to us folks who think Middle of the Road is where most of us are, and that it doesn't mean you get hit from both directions - as long as there's a well-designed median from which to decide on directional travel. Some from the extremes at both ends of the polar spectrum might call that wishy-washy waffling, but I daresay a majority of Americans would call it a New Reality worth embracing and exploring.

I know I plan to!

Monday, October 04, 2004

Here I am!

There ARE eyes behind the glasses;-) Posted by Hello
I wanted to put this over in that profile box, but my my, has Blogger made that ... not as easy as other stuff? BloggerBot seems a bit ... um, constraining. Oh well, it'll change - everything online does!;-)

Spyware ad nauseum unproductus

Lordy, have they got us coming and going or what?

The nasty spyware that infests and infects. Then you have to pay for programs like Ad-Aware, Spybot and the new King Killer, Spy Bouncer to get rid of ones that even the Big Boys haven't gotten around to. (Thanks to Brother Pete for finding that apparently quite effective lil proggie;-)

So they help you find dozens, even hundreds of baddies hiding in your files and registry. But then, if ya wanna remove the darn things, ya have to pay up. And we do, we do - because the pop-ups are at the least maddening, and sometimes far worse.

So is it, as a UPI friend posted today, like paying the Mafia "protection"? Are they in cahoots? I don't want to believe it, but ... sigh.

Hummer Bummer (or, Sorry, Jake...)

But the hundreds of times I send you things a month for your great blog start feeling like someone poking you in the ribs until you wanna bop them on the head.

So why not just do it myself? Why shouldn't I just tell the world (yeah right) when I, for example, open a Bon-Macy's mailing (they must come 2x a week!) and one of the infernal perfume deals that falls out is:

"Hummer: The Essence of Adventure. A New Fragrance for Men"/

Smells like plain ol' cologne to me. But the bottle is shaped like one of them cars;-)

So go ahead, call me a meany, Indian giver. But I wanna kick Bloggers' tires all by myself;-)