Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Beam Me Up, Scotty!

Mr. Spock was one of my favorite Sci-Fi characters growing up, but I've always held a special place in my heart for Scotty on Star Trek.

He was highly technical, and Scottish to boot! I always liked the episodes and scenes where he wears his kilt. ("Is There No Truth in Beauty?", "The Savage Curtain"). I also liked his crossover to Star Trek:The Next Generation in "Relics".

Today, James Doohan gets his star on the Hollywood Walk of Stars. Doohan will receive his star in front of the Hollywood Entertainment Museum at 7021 Hollywood Boulevard at 10:30 a.m. Congratulations, James!

Here are a few links featuring James "Scotty" Doohan:

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Friday, August 27, 2004

Late again...

I've known Cam since 3rd grade, and I swear I continue to miss his birthday every year. Our birthdays are so close, and we have celebrated so many together, that I don't know why I continue to mess up the date. His birthday is on the 26th, but I always think it's on the 28th.

I would also have to echo my comments from an earlier post: a friend is "someone who knows all about you and likes you just same."

Cam has been the generous host of the Annual Talisman Tournament, which is a favorite time of year for all of my friends and I.

We also did a student film in high school, called "Star Wreck", which you can guess is a parody of Star Trek. I'll have to dig up some pictures from that one for a future post...

Cam and his wife just found out they are expecting, too! Congratulations! (hope you wanted me to tell the whole world)

Happy Birthday, my friend!

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Ewoks and Droids on DVD!

Finally, some new Sci-Fi news.

Starwars.com is reporting that the very popular Ewoks and Droids animated series will be coming to DVD in November! Just in time for Christmas, too...

I never really got into Ewoks that much, but I absolutely loved the Droids series. I faithfully watched every Saturday. We need a return of good Saturday 'toons.

I've been feeling much more nostalgic lately, because I've also been playing Midway Classic Treasures on PS2, including my favorite arcade games: Gauntlet, Road Blasters, Rampart, Rampage, Joust, and more. I just need Xevious, Zaxxon, Space Invaders, and Pacman to complete my favorite childhood gaming on PS2. I grew up on the Atari 2600, and Space Invaders was by far my favorite -- even my dad would play with me on that one.

The new Clone Wars animated shorts probably won't make it on DVD until next spring or summer, because there will be a new installment just prior to the release of Episode III. Then, they will all be combined and released on DVD.

September looks to be busy for Star Wars fans, as the Original Trilogy Collection and Star Wars: Battlefront will both be released on the 21st!

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Thursday, August 26, 2004

Always Remember...


Truly touching. I'll never forget where I was when it happened... and who is responsible.

To all of our troops: Thank You! Stay safe, and Godspeed on your return.

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Metadata: harmful or helpful?

After reading Richard's blog, and the accompanying article, I was asked by a colleague my opinion on metadata. Is it harmful or helpful?

I think it depends on your point of view. If you are for sharing information, making it easier to find information, and for freedom of information, then metadata is your friend. If you need to protect information, or are worried about legal entanglements, then exposing metadata may be considered harmful.

As a CYA mechanism, metadata takes no position -- meaning it can hurt you or help you depending on what you are trying to accomplish. Take the example from the CNET story, where Prime Minister Blair's documents contained metadata that contradicted the official position. That metadata was harmful to his position, but helpful to those against his position.

IMO, metadata is like truth.The truth will set you free. In the end, the truth will come out. Enter the rhetorical question: Are you on the side of the truth or not? If metadata exists, and you are doing what is right, it will help defend your position. If you are doing wrong, metadata will help expose you.

If we are ever going to achieve the lofty goals of the Semantic Web, those intelligent systems will need to have metadata in order to function, just as we humans need context around every situation to understand and act properly. Without the context, then you will get misinterpretation.

You should be able to determine what metadata you want to have published along with your content/resource. Perhaps that is where some of the tools fail, in that they blindly publish all of their metadata, when they should provide a choice or configuration of what you want exposed. Hopefully there is at least a common set that everyone would use as a base, such as the Dublin Core.

Choice is always good. If you choose not to expose metadata, then Semantic Agents will not be able to reliably work with your content, and maybe that's the choice you want to make. At least you have the freedom to choose.

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Tuesday, August 24, 2004

My first chase vehicle

Here are a few pics of my first storm chase vehicle, and several important lessons learned:

I bought the '87 Chrysler Lebaron from my granddad when I graduated from CSU. I used it for a few storm chases in El Paso County before Sun moved me to Broomfield. It got me within 3 miles of a tornado at Ramah, which is the closest I've been to a tornado so far.

The important lessons learned came on a storm chase a year or two after my move to the Denver area.

  1. Get familiar with the local roads, and have a really good state atlas
  2. Stop chasing when the Sun sets, no matter how close you THINK you are
  3. Take a chase partner, so one person can look at the skies while the driver looks at the road
  4. If you don't watch the road, you may run into flash flood waters. Going faster won't keep your car from flooding any less
  5. Your wife won't appreciate you calling at 10:30pm saying you need a ride, because you are stuck 90 miles from home
  6. Storm chasers always help other storm chasers! But don't push your luck...

So those are my lessons learned, and here's the story:

There was a pretty good storm forming over Brighton after dinner, so I got clearance from my wife, and was off! I followed the storm right up Hwy 76 to about Hudson. It was a pretty major road, so I was pretty comfortable, but then I heard on the weather radio that it was getting severe near Pleasant Valley. I just happened to see the sign, and took the turn.

It was getting dark, but I was so close, I could taste it. It was kind of cool to watch the lightning and look for tornadoes between the lightning strikes. Unfortunately, the fields had taken all the water they could hold, and started spilling over the roadway, and I didn't notice until I plowed through it, just before entering the town of Pleasant Valley.

The Lebaron plowed through OK, since it was only about 5 inches of water, and I made it into town. I passed a Fire Engine that was directing traffic because of a power outage, and then my car promptly died at the side of the road.

This was a Very Good Thing, because if I had picked up the pace and kept going, I would have wound up in another flooded roadway, this time under 2 feet of water!

At this point, I called my wife with a Ham Radio/Phone patch, and told her I was stranded. She said, "Well, you better find a way to get here then, because the kids are in bed and I can't come get you."

Thankfully I found another storm chaser, who had stopped because of the flooded roadway, and found out he lived in Boulder. He was willing to drop me home, since it was on his way, and chat about chasing all the way home! He had a snorkle on his Toyota, and the first flash flood I had driven through had now turned into 3 feet of water. He plowed through to my amazement, and we headed home.

His vehicle had been struck by lightning a few weeks earlier, and he caught it on tape! Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find the link to the video...

The next day, my wife took me out to pick up my car. It was the quietest 90 minutes of my life...

Following that adventure, I agreed to take a chase partner, never chase at night, and get a vehicle that could handle it.

Stay tuned for my next post about my new chase vehicle!

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Monday, August 23, 2004

Star Trek Science: Transparent Aluminum

I was fortunate to catch the Star Trek Science exhibit in 1994 at the Denver Museum of Natural History. There were many great interactive exhibits on sensors, tricorders, the ship computer, warp drive and more! Unfortunately, I do not think the exhibit is travelling any more.

However, it looks like we've finally achieved another product of Star Trek Science: Transparent Aluminum! Prominently featured in Star Trek: The Voyage Home, transparent aluminum was widely used to make the windows in the Starships in Kirk's era, and to make the holding tanks to transport humpback whales to the 24th century!

The real science is pretty interesting. Check out the article here: http://physicsweb.org/article/news/8/8/9.

Here are some other interesting links about Star Trek Science:

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Wednesday, August 18, 2004

L10N, I18N and Editorial at it's finest

For those unfamiliar, L10N = Localization, I18N = Internationalization.

As my old DIVX player started giving up the ghost, and Blu-Ray is not yet available, I needed a low-cost option to keep my movie habits going.

I found a great deal on a Daewoo DVD player at Target. It's cheap, but has optical audio and component video outputs, so my Denon amp and my ears are happy!

While reading the owner's manual (hey, I started out as a tech writer, and SOMEBODY has to read their work. Kind of a brotherhood thing...), I found the following troubleshooting tip for the DVD player:


  • Keep the phone far away from the speaker
  • Turn down the volumne
  • Turn down the volume of phone and echo

Hopefully, this isn't related to my new DVD player or their tech support experience! :-)

Perhaps this belongs in one of their phone manuals, though SCREAMING still doesn't seem appropriate.

Maybe these folks should take a look at the XLIFF project and improve their translation markup.

I'm sure other companies have this same problem, but this one was pretty funny. I also enjoy watching Headlines every week on Jay Leno (I used to be a technical editor, too).

For more fun with translations, be sure to check out Babelfish. Though I wouldn't recommend it for publishing your technical manuals...

Anyone have any good Sun translation snafus?

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Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Storm Chase report!

Today's hazardous outlook held true. As I left work, and got clearance from home, I began my 3rd chase of the summer.

The winds were very strong in Broomfield, and it was quite dark out East. I joined the Northern Colorado weather net on 145.115 and headed out towards Denver International Airport.

I stopped at 104th and Tower, which has a great vantage point. I reported heavy rain and scud, but no organized formations. Since it looked like nothing more than the rain, I decided to head north.

There were reports of heavy storms in Ft. Collins and Greeley, so I headed up Hwy 85. There was more heavy rain around Lasalle and Evans, but only light rain when I got to Greeley.

I decided to hit Hwy 34 to I-25 and then head home. There was a promising storm forming near Lyons, moving toward Longmont, which would work well for me on my way home. Heavy rains brought traffic near a standstill when I got to the Dacono exit, and I called in a report.

With no tornadoes, I should have stayed home. Especially since my wife and kids experienced this at the house!

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Lots of interesting weather this week

Yesterday was a great day for severe storms in Colorado. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to go chasing any of it (okay, I confess, I was watching the Broncos lose).

Nine tornadoes touched down Monday night including a multiple-vortex tornado (with four funnels!) 10 miles north of Simla.

Hail stones up to 4.5 inches in diameter were reported west of Agate in Elbert County. In eastern El Paso county, they had a tornado (near Truckton) and baseball sized hail.

9News has some pictures and the story. I haven't checked Stormtracker.com yet.

Today's hazardous outlook:




Zooming out, it looks like twin trouble with Tropical Storm Bonnie and Tropical Storm Charlie working their way toward the U.S.!

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Friday, August 06, 2004

Should be iRobot's official movie soundtrack

I saw the latest summer blockbuster, iRobot last night. I'm not well-read enough in Asimov to determine how close it is to his book, but the movie was entertaining. I have a feeling the disclaimer "Suggested by the book by Isaac Asimov" means that the title is the same, and they both had robots...

I wonder if the droids in Star Wars are 3 laws compliant? Certainly not for IG-88 and 4-LOM (bounty hunter droids). What about Data and Lore? Did Dr. Soongh implement the 3 laws?

As for iRobot, they should have used this album for the official movie soundtrack:

Kraftwerk - The Mix

Track Title Artist Album Genre
The Robots Kraftwerk The Mix Electronica/Dance
Computerlove Kraftwerk The Mix Electronica/Dance
Pocket Calculator Kraftwerk The Mix Electronica/Dance
Dentaku Kraftwerk The Mix Electronica/Dance
Autobahn Kraftwerk The Mix Electronica/Dance
Radioactivity Kraftwerk The Mix Electronica/Dance
Trans Europe Express Kraftwerk The Mix Electronica/Dance
Abzug Kraftwerk The Mix Electronica/Dance
Metal On Metal Kraftwerk The Mix Electronica/Dance
Home Computer Kraftwerk The Mix Electronica/Dance
Musik Non Stop Kraftwerk The Mix Electronica/Dance

The opening credits of the movie could have used "The Robots", the big car chase scene "Autobahn", the love angst scenes with "Computer Love", the home delivery of the new N-5's with "Home Computer", and the revolution with "Radioactivity". Finally, the end credits could have used "Musique Non-Stop".

Speaking of end credits, where was Will Smith's new catchy tune? Maybe he should have done a cover of The Robots by Kraftwerk...

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Thursday, August 05, 2004

"Aonaibh ri cheile"

For those non-Gaelic readers out there (myself included), it means "Unite" and is the motto of Clan Cameron.

I actually have a few different Scottish Clans in my bloodline (Robertson, Watchman, and Sinclair to name a few), but don Cameron, as they were the most recent to come to America, and because my mom gave it to me as my middle name.

I usually march with my Clan at the Longs Peak Scottish/Irish Highland Festival in Estes Park, and was married in my kilt!

I think "Unite" is appropriate for this entry, because that's also what is desperately needed at Sun. We've had too many internal conflicts, and too many confusing messages externally.

Of course, some of the other Clan Cameron mottos could work, but I don't think they are quite as appropriate:

"Mo righ's mo dhuchaich" (For King and Country)
"Chlanna nan con thigibh a so's gheib sibh feail" (Sons of the hounds come hither and get flesh)

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Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Missing Extreme

I was fortunate enough to attend Extreme Markup in Montreal last year but the budget fates were unkind to me this year.

Sun management was unable/unwilling to send me to the conference, and I couldn't work out the personal finances to send myself. Hopefully circumstances will be different on both accounts for me to attend XML 2004 in Washington, D.C.

Norm Walsh is giving an excellent full-day tutorial on XPath 2.0 and XSLT 2.0, as well as a presentation on Extreme DocBook, the RelaxNG version of the wildly popular and widely used DocBook content model. Also, before leaving for Montreal, Norm posted the “Eaux-de-vie” release of DocBookNG.

I'm also missing out on some great presentations on Topic Maps and XSLT.Of course, if you're reading this, you are probably missing it too. I'd highly advise attending Extreme Markup and the XML conferences from IDEAlliance.

Montreal is a really interesting city, as is the Extreme Markup conference. You'll find an interesting blend of people and information in both cases. Hope to see you both next year...

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