A useful new site for anyone in debt: RealLifeDebt.comAs I've heard more and more stories about friends and colleagues facing financial difficulties, I've explored different sites on the Web and been fairly disappointed with the lack of coherent, well-presented information that talks about problems and solutions, rather than selling some sort of dubious service or another. So I built my own. Please, have a visit to http://www.RealLifeDebt.com/ and if you think it's worthwhile, share the link with others you know that might be having some financial difficulties. Thanks.
None of these are me!Fortunately, while I may be highly ranked on the regular Google search engine, a search for "Dave Taylor" on Google Images pulls up all sorts of guys and, um, other stuff, but none of them are me. Try the search yourself: click here.
Original reviews of The Hobbit and LotRHere's a fun way to spend a few minutes - the New York Times (free registration required) has made available the original reviews they ran of The Hobbit (1938) and the three books of the Lord of the Rings (1954,1955,1956). Of the Hobbit, for example, they say:
"The songs of the dwarves and elves are real poetry, and since the author is fortunate enough to be able to make his own drawings, the illustrations are a perfect accompaniment to the test. Boys and girls from 8 years on have already given "The Hobbit" an enthusiastic welcome, but this is a book with no age limits. All those, young or old, who love a fine adventurous tale, beautifully told, will take "The Hobbit" to their hearts."I can't help but agree that these books by J.R.R.Tolkien are gems of literature. If you have nothing else to do for Christmas Eve, curling up with a good book is always a lovely way to spend some time...
Another reason to become a vegetarian?As reported in a number of different outlets, the first confirmed case of so-called "mad cow disease" has been reported in the continental United States. BBC News reports that:
"The United States has reported its first suspected case of "mad cow disease", or BSE, in Washington state. Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman said a Holstein cow had tested positive - but she insisted US beef was safe. Hours later, Japan and South Korea declared a temporary ban on imports of American beef, depriving cattle farmers of their largest Asian markets."While the possible consequences of an outbreak of bovine spongiform encephalopathy can't be overstated (it cost UK farmers billions of dollars and ended with the destruction of over three million head of livestock), I do vaguely wonder if it might not encourage more people to eschew red meat and become a vegetarian...
The importance of "the curve" in academiaI never would have thought I'd receive this, but the online university for whom I teach classes recently sent me this letter stating that I wasn't grading in a sufficiently aggressive manner to have an appropriate grade spread. It said:
We expect our graduates to have excellent skills in their chosen fields of study and also in communication, analysis, and critical thinking. However, students cannot improve in these areas without accurate, rigorous, and consistent evaluation of their work. Many instructors would agree that grading is the most difficult aspect of teaching, not only because of the time requirements but also due to the stress associated with making judgments about a student's performance in class. Both of these factors may contribute to the problem of grade inflation in which the distribution of grades assigned by an instructor does not match the expected distribution of grades for the University student body. The University has determined the following GPA goals...
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Curious what spam looks like? Read mine!I have spent countless hours working on culling the good mail from the junk, and after way more effort than I should have had to spend, it's paying off. I am now seeing upwards of 400 messages each and every day (yes, you read that right, that's one message every 3.6 minutes throughout the day) of which I estimate 80-90% are unsolicated, usually commercial, email.
My solution has involved using SpamAssassin, which is a lot better than the wacky little ninja characters on the page would lead you to believe, a program called procmail for redirecting all tagged spam into a separate folder, and a separate program I've written called showspam which is a highly customized mailbox viewer for spam mailboxes. It's about 100 lines of C coupled with about 75 lines of HTML/CSS.
But what's most fun is that you can now sneak a peek at my spam mailbox - unless I've just emptied it, that is. It's a live display of what's in that mailbox, and you can get to it by clicking here to view my spam and using "demo" and "demo" as the account and password pair.
Spiffo holiday gift option: AnswerSquad Gift Certificates!If you've read all the books, chatted on all the mailing lists, and still can't quite get everything to work properly on your system, then you'll be glad to hear about AnswerSquad, a cross-platform tech support option staffed by industry experts. But it's not just Windows! You can also get help with your Macintosh, Linux system, and even figure out how to write that pesky Excel macro or debug that Python script, all for one low price.
And now you can share this with your friends too: AnswerSquad is offering Tech Support Gift Certificates for the holidays! What better way to get your friends and family to stop calling you when they have computer questions? :-)
Oh yeah, disclaimer: I'm part of AnswerSquad. But I don't wear bell-bottoms.
"Wicked Cool Shell Scripts" is getting closer to your local bookstore...If you go to the NoStarch home page, you'll find this:
It's definitely coming around the corner... and it's going to be a cool book!
The simple pleasures of the seasonToday was an amazingly fun day, starting with late last night, when we were informed by my daughter that we needed to leave shoes out on the porch so St. Nicholas could put a chocolate in each one. I personally haven't heard of this tradition, but I dutifully snuck out to the store and bought a few chocolates, dropping one in each shoe, then stacking the shoes up late in the night, ready to go. This morning it was still bright and early when the little folks crept downstairs and ran back up excitedly sharing the "candy from St. Nick!"
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ASCII movies. No kidding.I bumped into this site via The Internet Tourbus, and it's amazing. I remember ASCII art from decades ago, the classic Snoopy off the line printer, but this is another level entirely: ASCII Movies. Check it out for yourself!
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