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April 29, 2011

Canon Multipass Printer Ink

Canon Multipass InkOkay, so you've got a perfectly functioning Canon Multipass Printer. It's like brand new, it even looks brand new, and you see no reason to spend hundreds of dollars buying a new printer. You take good care of your things and this thing should last even another decade. But the last time you went to Costco Canon's own brand of ink was not on the shelves. Neither was it the next time. Nor the next time. This situation appears to be permanent.

So, you scour the web. You find scant traces of the ink available anywhere. But, you do see "compatible" ink around. But you're not sure that this is a good idea. In fact, I remember some of my A+ Certification books making a very big deal out of recommending to customers that they never use off brand printer ink for a variety of reasons, including the ink ruining the printer.

Well, here's my solution, and I'm not sure that it's a good one. I bought some off brand printer ink, and I'm going to use this post to chronicle the result. Here's the ink:

Canon compatible printer ink, currently (as of the date of this post) $11.95, which includes 3 black tanks, 2 cyan tanks, 2 yellow tanks, and 2 magenta tanks.

WOW, what a great deal! For the genuine ink, that would have cost $70+ dollars to take off of the shelf to the register at Costco.

But is it a great deal? Maybe there really are critical differences which make all of the difference. I've found one, so far, having just barely installed it: when I removed the little orange twisty cap, ink spilled out all over my hands and onto my table. It was the yellow ink, and as I sit here now typing this weblog entry, the fingers of one of my hands is conspicuously blotchy with yellow. I'm sure it'll take a few days for this to go away. It's not going to wash off (or out), instead I'm going to have to wait for the affected skin cells to shed and grow new cells in their place. (By the way, did you know that most of the dust in your house is shedded skin cells?)

So that's part 1 in the chronicle of using the off brand printer ink. It's got an excellent price, but a poor delivery system. Not once have I had ink spill out all over my hands with the genuine Canon ink, but this one made quite a mess. Thank goodness I didn't open it over the carpet or a wood table or something else equally damageable. In this case, my table happened to be glass and cleaning took nothing more than a wipe with a piece of tissue. But it could have been bad. If you buy this ink, take care to deal with any spilled ink. (From here on out, I wrap the ink container up in a paper towel before removing the cap.)

Good luck.

Posted by Jeff at 01:38 PM | Comments (2)

April 28, 2011

Ages of Supreme Court Justices

As of today, April 28th, 2011:

John Roberts, 56 (Jan. 27, 1955)
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 78 (March 15, 1933)
Antonin Scalia, 75 (March 11, 1936)
Anthony Kennedy, 74 (July 23, 1936)
Stephen Breyer, 72 (August 15, 1938)
Clarence Thomas, 62 (June 23, 1948)
Samuel Alito, 61 (April 1, 1950)
Sonia Sotomayor, 56 (June 25, 1954)
Elena Kagan, 51 (born April 28, 1960)

The life expectancy of a newborn in the United States of America is 78.7 years (source).

Posted by Jeff at 01:29 PM | Comments (0)

April 25, 2011

Is Dropbox Part of "The Cloud"?

Dropbox Free Storage Space In case anyone has been living under a rock for the last couple of years and doesn't know what Dropbox is, it is fundamentally storage space on the Internet, a small amount (2 Gigabytes) given away freely, in hopes that you'll come to rely on the space and want more and will be willing to pay for it. And, in my opinion...

DROPBOX IS AWESOME!!!

The neat thing about the storage space is that it comes with a small program which runs in the background on your computer (it has an icon in the system tray) which syncs a folder called "My Dropbox" (within your "My Documents" folder) with your online storage space. So, whatever you save into this folder will get automatically synced, without user interaction, with your storage space on the Internet.

In what way is this useful? Well, for me, I've found that if I'm working on a paper or something for school which I know that I'm going to want to work on from multiple computers, or if I'm going to want to print it from other computers, it comes in very handy. By saving my file into the "My Dropbox" folder, it becomes accessible through the Dropbox website where I can print it or access it from anywhere. It's also a place where I store useful PDFs which I know I'll want to reference now and then.

But the awesomeness of Dropbox isn't really the subject of this weblog entry. Instead, the entry is about "the cloud" and what that really means. I found it odd to read where someone else was referring to Dropbox as being part of "the cloud", and I'm interested in getting some feedback and some opinions on the issue. In my opinion, it is not part of "the cloud", and here's why:

The best way to understand "the cloud", from my perspective, is to look at something that we're all familiar with by now: email. Email access typically comes from two sources, and I'll use hotmail as a prototype, even though the same things can be said for gmail and other email services.

Email can be accessed usually in two ways: 1) using an email client program running on your own computer, or 2) using a webmail interface through your browser. The second option is entirely cloud computing and it's the oldest source of cloud computing of which most of us is familiar.

Consider the difference between the two options. In the case of using your own email client on your own computer (Outlook, Outlook Express, Thunderbird, etc.), you download your email, the email is stored on your own computer's file system, and you run the program on your own computer to edit or read the email. This is not cloud computing.

On the other hand, you can access email, such as Hotmail, through your browser as well, without using a dedicated email client. When you choose this option, your email files are stored on the remote computer, and when you write email or read email you do so using the software at Hotmail as accessed through your web browser. This is cloud computing. In a sense, your own computer has been reduced to a "dumb terminal" which neither runs the email software nor stores your files.

Now use that description and apply it to Dropbox. This is purely a file storage solution, and replaces no client software on your computer. There's no associated word processor, spreadsheet, email program...nothing. Additionally, your files are stored on your own hard drive and are merely backed up (synchronized, really) with a copy of your files on the remote file system (Dropbox). Thus Dropbox is not performing either of the two "cloud" functions: it neither replaces your use of your own file system, nor do you use remote software to edit or otherwise use your data files.

So why would someone consider using Dropbox to be cloud computing?

Posted by Jeff at 01:00 PM | Comments (0)

April 17, 2011

Selling: La Femme Nikita, All Seasons

I have decided to sell all of my La Femme Nikita DVDs, season one, season two, season three, season four, and season five:

About the show:

Peta Wilson as Nikita is awesome to watch. She's a super-babe, smart, sexy, and strong. Roy Dupuis, as her partner is a little less convincing at first, but he grows into the role.

I didn't like the show at all at first. I was only watching because my girlfriend at the time really loved the show and wanted me to see it and to watch it with her. From the beginning, you learn that Nikita has been kidnapped by an organization that combats terrorism worldwide. There's little wrong with that. But then we learn that the organization uses criminals and other people they have kidnapped as mere pawns, forcing them to kill or be killed, to do exactly as they're told or be killed (by the organization), and that they have to measure up to certain standards of performance and fitness - or else they're killed by the organization. I tend to like shows to be moral - that is, to champion morality - doing the right thing, recognizing people's political rights, etc. This show seems to take the position that the only way to survive is to be the guy who is more "bad" or is willing to be the most wrong. It's ultimately might makes right.

But the show grew on me and I came to look forward to watching the new episodes. I was hoping that, in the end, we'd see the organization taken apart and destroyed, but...well, you'll see...if you watch....

Posted by Jeff at 05:27 PM | Comments (1)

April 16, 2011

Atlas Shrugged Movie

Atlas Shrugged Movie Part I

Not worth seeing.

When a book is made into a movie, we expect the movie to be a mere "Cliff Notes" version of the book, but this movie was a Cliff Notes version of a Cliff Notes version of a Cliff Notes version of the book. It was so condensed and so watered down that any fan of the book would be disappointed, and anyone who hadn't read the book wouldn't have even the vaguest clue what was going on. The only category left are those who have read the book but aren't really fans, and they wouldn't enjoy it anyway. It's a story which relies very, very heavily on character development, yet this super-condensed version of the story gave the characters literally no development whatsoever; none, nada, zip, zero, zilch, not a single one of them.

When I saw The Lord of the Rings, I thought, "Wow, they really could do Atlas Shrugged justice in a movie. Given a Jackson caliber director, a massive budget, and 10 hours of screen time, it could really work!" But what did they do? They used a no-name director, almost no budget whatsoever, and appear to be making the whole book into about 5 hours of film, the total opposite of what they should have done. I was so bored at one point that I found myself considering walking out.

I want to call it total crap, but I imagine that the director might defend his movie by saying that he did an excellent job with what he had to work with. That might be true. It's like if you go to see your 6 year old kid in a school play: you don't expect the play to be the most magnificent play that you've ever seen, in fact you won't expect much out of it at all. If anyone criticized it, you'd probably say, "What did you expect? It's a bunch of 6 year olds!" So maybe the director has a defense, but it's not a good one. If that's the best they had to work with, they should not have done it.

The really only good thing about it was the performance of the actor who played Hank Reardon. Everyone else gets a resounding: "Meh."

Actually, the best thing about it, though, now that I'm thinking about it, is the fact that so few people will ever see it, given that it has so little promotion because its a low budget indie film.

What a waste.

I give 30% odds on Part II ever being made. No one is going to be excited about this film.

My rating: 1 in 10.

Posted by Jeff at 12:01 PM | Comments (0)

April 15, 2011

Violent Crime and Bullying

There's an issue in the news, currently, about a father who was videotaped cheering his teenage son on in a fight the son was having with another teen over a girl:

The father was arrested for crimes associated with child abuse. But he excuses this behavior by telling us that his son was responding to long term bullying by the other boy, and his attorney defends him by saying, "He [the father] never touched the kid. ... He's telling his kid to stand up against the bully. What is wrong with that?"

Struthers [the father] said Thursday the video leaves out what led up to the fight. He called it six months of "bullying" by the other boy in a dispute over a girl.

Struthers said the video doesn't reflect that for the whole six months, he and his wife, Kimberly Anne, told their teenager: "Son, you're not going to fight."

And Philip Struthers said the portion of the video posted on the Internet also leaves out something that happened just after the fists stopped flying: the fighters shook hands.

"The boys shook hands, all of them - not just the two," Struthers said, referring to a crowd that gathered at the weekend fight in his northwest Hillsborough County neighborhood.

Philip and Kimberly Struthers spoke Thursday in the Largo law offices of their attorney, John Trevena, who said his client did not commit any crimes.

"Does a father really have to apologize for asking his son to stand up to a bully?" Trevena asked.

"He never touched the kid. ... He's telling his kid to stand up against the bully," Trevena said. "What is wrong with that?"

Well, there is a whole hell of a lot wrong with that. The issue here isn't one of merely staving off rude words or overly assertive behavior on the part of the bully, it's an issue of assault and battery - that is: violent crime. This, of course, makes it a police matter, and not merely a matter of standing up for one's self in the presence of people who are against us but otherwise acting legally.

The attorney makes a point of noting that the father never touched the other kid. Well, when your kid is a victim of violent crime - and not past tense, but the crime is actually happening - it's not the kid's role, solely, to handle the situation. It's also the role of the police to handle the situation. It's the role of any good Samaritan witnesses to also step in and help handle the situation. And it is most certainly the role of the parents of the kid to step in and defend the kid. In sum, violent crime is not the type of situation where we should invoke "tough love" and tell our fellow human beings to learn to solve their own problems.

The problem with the father is that through his actions and attitude, he's making a social and political statement, one that is (and should be) contrary to our law: he's saying that fighting (including [or, perhaps, especially?] over girl!) is not a crime, much less a violent crime, and not a situation in which the police, bystanders, and parents should get involved. He and those other bystanders stood around and cheering were treating this violent crime as if it was some kind of harmless competition, like a basketball game, and as if it is a legitimate and appropriate way for boys to solve their problems and establish their pecking order. He is tacitly saying that, in the context of male status, physical "might" should make right.

Frankly, I hope this guy gets prison time.

Posted by Jeff at 12:34 PM | Comments (0)

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