Monday, March 30, 2009

Much FUD over Conficker worm?

According to a post by PC World's Erik Larkin in Network World on March 27, "There's some serious FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) out there right now about what the Conficker worm will do on April 1. But according to those in the know, you probably don't have to worry." Larkin said:

According to Joe Stewart, a security researcher at SecureWorks who knows what's what when it comes to malware, "there will be no April 1st outbreak." Clean PCs won't suddenly melt down from a new Conficker infection.

Machines that have current antivirus software are likely okay. As for infected machines already out there Larkin quotes Joe Stewart, a security researcher at SecureWorks, "All that will happen, Stewart writes, is that the worm will begin to use a new trick that gives it a better chance of getting around existing defenses that attempt to prevent it from updating." There is much more information in Larkin's post.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

New Yoga Place Near SJSU

I have had chronic back problems resulting from a work injury years ago. I love bicycling. Bicycling has helped my fitness but cycling has not helped my back, in fact sometimes spending long hours in the same kind of position seems to aggravate my back.

My doctor recommended Yoga, but that was not easy because there was not a convenient Yoga location near SJSU. I was only able to go once a week, but not every week to a place near our home. That has changed, there's a new kid in town.

Downtown Yoga Shala just opened a couple of weeks ago. Veronica Cruz is the owner. The facilities are great! They have a lot of different kinds of Yoga, including Yoga for athletes. You should check their Web site out!

Where I work I run a help desk serving 40,000 people. It is my job to make customer's problems my problem. It gets stressful. Not only has going to Yoga helped my back it has made a big difference in my stress level. I have joined and have gone four times this week, so far!

Here is more information:

Phone: 1-408-885-1000
Address: 450 S. 1st St.
San Jose CA 95113

If you are at all interested I urge you to check them out. They are running a great promotion that ends this month!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Passenger Train Through Alviso

C&NW painted engine on passenger train

Union Pacific Business Train in Alviso
Today the UP ran a special passenger business train they called the SLBOA1-27 up the old Southern Pacific coast line. The train went through Alviso, CA at 3:56 p.m. headed north. Power for the train was the Union Pacific locomotive 1995 that was painted in a special paint scheme to commemorate the Chicago and Northwestern a railroad that was assimilated by the Union Pacific.

Where is Alviso?
  • GPS Latitude: 37 deg 25' 56.99" N
  • GPS Longitude: 121 deg 58' 40.61" W

[Click here to see more pictures]

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Wonderful Help Desk Party

Amarpreet at Help Desk Party

On Saturday March 21 we had a help desk party at Saby Thai in San Jose. Ruchi Binjola and others at the help desk put together an excellent party for help desk and former help desk staff. We celebrated the recent marriages of several of our help desk couples. It was a great party!

[Click here to see more photos]

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

My Dad's Old Speed Graphic

Colorful downtown cyclist

Pictures with my dad's Speed Graphic

Two years ago our house was burglarized and I lost all the cameras my dad had left me except for one, my dad's old Speed Graphic. It is a lovely camera with a sharp old Kodak (made in USA) Color Ektar lens. I have not used this old press camera in decades, but I remember it being as sharp as a tack. Lately I have started doing business with a local camera repair store, Kamera Korner, and the owner is an old camera repairman named Bob. Repair of old film cameras is becoming a dying art, literally. So I decided to get this camera made usable again. It took awhile, I heard stories from the other people in the shop about the work Bob was putting into the camera. After a month or so, it was ready.

The photo above is from the first roll with this camera.

Speed graphic camera

I have found an added bonus with using this camera. It is so unique, so retro looking, people love talking about it. That leads to conversations which leads to photo opportunities. When I look through the viewfinder, when I click the shutter, I am looking through the same viewfinder, clicking the same shutter my dad did fifty years ago. I think that is pretty cool! Plus it takes amazing photos. The picture here does not do it justice, it is so sharp, so true to color. It's amazing, we are talking around 60 mega pixels in digital equivalent, I have been told. It is knock your socks off sharp. Sometimes; older is better.

Editorial: We need to stay focused on the issues!

Saul Alinsky, one of the greatest organizers of the last century wrote, "The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition."

Yet, the California Faculty Association's recent resolution to "Call for A Halt to Violence Against All Civilians in Palestine and Israel" does the opposite and threatens to divide educators over foreign policy issues rather than uniting them over workplace issues. Yes, war is a terrible thing, but our union should be organizing educators. We should should be united fighting for education and better wages, hours and working conditions for educators. As Alinsky says, "Never go outside the experience of your people."

In response to the CFA resolution an SJSU educator recently wrote to the CFA leadership:

I have just heard about the resolution that the CFA board passed regarding civilian deaths in Israel and Palestine. I object very strongly to this resolution on a number of levels. First of all, while civilians are killed in all wars, and all death is tragic, there is a tremendous difference between those killed accidently, by recognized military forces, and those killed deliberately, as a matter of policy, by terrorist organizations. I am absolutely shocked that academics so blithely ignore this difference. My own best friend, a journalist, was kidnapped, beaten, and shot in the back and killed by terrorists in Basra, Iraq in August 2005. Is the crime of these terrorists the moral equivalent of warfare? Are they to be considered soldiers, and not criminals?

Secondly, this sort of resolution is very unuseful when campuses such as SJSU face a very high level of emotion over this issue. Recently, the consul-general of Israel, who had been invited to speak at SJSU, was shouted down by protesters and had to be escorted out by security. Is this the sort of atmosphere that is fostered by such resolutions?

I think our union's attention needs to be a bit closer to home right now. Union strength comes from uniting members around issues important to them in the workplace and setting aside issues that may divide them, that are not work related. Don't we have enough problems right here, right now? I think so! Should we really be dividing our constituents over devisive and perhaps wrong-minded matters of foriegn policy? I think not.

Working with Dreamweaver

Learning Dreamweaver CS4

For the last several days I have been working my way through the Lynda tutorials on Dreamweaver CS4. They are great! I am looking forward to working more with this tool. I have some tools I want to get better with and this is one of them. Right now I am working on CSS.

Monday, March 16, 2009

New kinds of spam

Skype Spam

New kinds of Spam
Beware, Spam is not just for e-mail anymore! Here is a super obvious example. I recently recieved this Skype message saying my PC was infected and needed immediate attention. What I had to do to fix my Windows PC, the message said, was to click on the link. What was the first clue that this was Spam? Simple, I use a Mac!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

April 2009, ACTC Newsletter

April 2009, B&BB Newsletter

Here is the April 2009 issue of the Black and Blue Bottom, the Almaden Cycle Touring Club (my bike club) newsletter. The April 2009 edition is my last edition as Publisher of our bike club newsletter. The time to leave has come.

I would like to thank all the brave ACTCers who have stepped up to distribute, solicit ads and contribute stories and reports to the Black & Blue Bottom. I especially would like to thank Naomi for all of her hard work and dedication to the newsletter. She has been great help and a good friend. Thanks to all of you who have been so supportive over the years!

These are in PDF format:

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Today is Winterail 2009

Winterail 2007

Winterail 2009
The Bill Darrough Show we did in 2007 was very well received. This year we are putting on the sequel. I won't be able to post to the blog today, but will be twittering the event. Please follow the twitter stream here:

Ryan Martin shot this photo of the crowd in 2007 and it was on the big screen the day of the show, shortly after it was shot. I think that was very cool.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Blossoms Like Fireworks at SJSU

Blossoms like fireworks at SJSU

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Bikes hazard to disabled at SJSU?

Bike chained to stairwell

Here are some of the photos I have made recently of bikes locked to the exterior stairwells of SJSU's Clark Hall. These stairwells are used routinely as exits from the classrooms in Clark Hall and would serve as emergency exits from Clark Hall in the event of an evacuation. In addition to the obvious safety issues, I am concerned about the barriers these are for people with disabilities.

I have tried to get University Police to act on this. My understanding from conversations I have had on this is they are waiting for more bike lockers. In my opinion; to put the needs of bicyclists before providing accessible facilities is a form of discrimination directed at people with disabilities. I think we should be striving to provide accessible physical facilities just as we are striving to provide accessible technology.

When I addressed the issue to the Disability Resource Center at SJSU, Lucille Surdi the ADA Compliance Specialist wrote me back:

The ADA Compliance Office has spoken with Chief Barnes regarding your notification to us of the bikes being locked to the exterior stairwells of Clark Hall. The Chief and UPD are working over the past several months with AS Transportation and FDO to address this situation throughout the campus for the entire campus community. Proposals are being developed for more bike racks and more bike cages. This situation is being overseen with coordination from other university departments and is diligently being addressed. UPD is currently enforcing the issue of unsafe bike parking and has impounded many bikes that create a hazard. You are correct, safety is always the primary concern and please do report any direct safety issues to UPD as soon as possible.

I had a previously scheduled appointment next week to discuss this issue in person with them. In the same e-mail Surdi said:

My office had scheduled a meeting with you and I for next week but I do believe that this matter is being appropriately handled and prioritized and there is no need for a meeting. We thank you for bringing this to our attention and we will be monitoring this situation in the coming weeks.

Sounds like bureaucratic double-speak to avoid doing anything to me. In my opinion providing safe emergency exiting of buildings as well as accessible facilities is more important than having people be able to park bikes all over campus. I am a cyclist myself, I rode my bike to work this morning. It amazes me how many abandoned bikes there are in the bike lockers and chained to poles on campus. Perhaps these can be removed if we really need more on campus bike parking.

UPDATE: March 11, 2009

Yesterday University Police Chief Andre Barnes came over and spoke with me and looked at the problem personally. I really appreciate that! He explained to me some of the issues they have been having with dealing with impounding bicycles and enforcing regulations regarding the parking of bicycles on campus. In my opinion this is not about impounding bicycles or creating new demands on scarce resources.

The cyclists I have spoken to who were parked there. seem to have not been aware they were creating a hazard. Perhaps something as simple (and as cheap) as campus foot patrols or CSOs posting notices on bikes informing bike owners that they are blocking fire exits, as well as creating barriers to people with disabilities, could go a long way to mitigating this situation and improve safety as well as accessibility. Maybe if you just ask folks to park elsewhere, they will. This does not have to be expensive.

[Click Here to See More Photos]

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Monday, March 09, 2009

Thinking of Brian Baer

"Photojournalism Ends" sign on book shelf

Thinking of Brian Baer
Brian Baer, the best photographer I know, was just laid off from the Sacramento Bee today. This photo has been sticking in my head for awhile. When I heard of this amazingly talented photojournalist loosing his job as the Bee's political photographer, I thought of this image.

Brian is not a good photojournalist, he is a great one. He has got an eye for an image that literally changed my life and how I saw my own work. Even when he was a student at SJSU, he was that good. He still is, that good.

I remember when Sue and I walked through the Green Apple bookstore on New Year's Eve late last year, I loved perusing their collection of new and used photojournalism books. Then I came to this sign on the shelf and thought, "man ain't that the truth."

I had my old Nikon FE2 with me with a fast lens and fast film but it was low light so I steadied myself and made this photo. This image has stuck with me until now. Perhaps it is trite, after all it is merely sign art. But, when I heard of the Bee letting Brian go I thought of this photo and I thought, "man ain't that the truth."

When the industry gets so bad it spits out its best, where else is there to go? What else is there to think?

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

No walks in the rain

Disabled student in the rain

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Microsoft going after Google search

According to By John Fontana of Network World, "Microsoft this week will start internal testing of Kumo, the company's update to its Live Search Web site and part of its stated effort to keep the pressure on Google."

The Kumo technology appears to contain elements of semantic search technology Microsoft acquired in June last year when it bought Powerset.