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Archive for October, 2007

PostHeaderIcon Ever wanted to be an author?

How many times have you said,”You know, I should write a book about that?” If you’re like me, you have said it so many times that you don’t even pay attention to it anymore. Maybe you just lacked a little push to get the ball rolling. Maybe you started writing, but got frustrated. Maybe you felt alone in your endeavor, or maybe you just ran out of steam.

November is National Novel Writing Month. is a website devoted to giving people that little shove in the “write” direction. Members support each other throughout the writing process and even throw a little help your way if you hit the doldrums or just can’t figure out what to say. get you started…”Once upon a time on a dark and stormy night…..”

PostHeaderIcon A Blog We Like

If you subscribe to the OffAssist newsletter, you may remember when Dee Copeland was featured in our spotlight column. If not, check it out in the April 2006 newsletter.

Dee, the woman behind Team Copeland, has recently revamped her blog, Texas Realty Blog. With up-to-date info on the Central Texas real estate market and RE trends around the country this is a great resource when you’re looking to buy or sell real estate. Check it out!

PostHeaderIcon Makers! Following a dream…

Sunday I had the great pleasure of attending Maker Faire here in Austin. What the heck is Maker Faire, you ask? It’s this festival of sorts where do-it-yourself types come out and show us what they got… and they got some cool stuff! Okay, and some really weird stuff too. My son got to make a transistor thingy (yes, the technical term) on a business card. We got to see the coolest new toy, Pleo, in person. We had a chance to paint a pumpkin, see robots – a lot of robots, play video games by jumping on a trampoline, finger paint on a touch screen, and yes folks, I got to see the EepyBird dudes do their Mentos and Diet Coke fountain show – and may I saw it’s awesome.

Okay, some of it was serious inventor type stuff, some of it was just downright silly. I mean, really, a robot thespian that sings “The Hills Are Alive With The Sound of Music”? Cool, but useful? I hated that movie the first time I saw it! But that robot was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. It’s a robot! That acts! Probably better than some actors out there 😉 Plus if I’m gonna get a robot, I want it to do my filing or laundry or fetch me a cup of coffee (with sugar and cream, darn it!)

But, you know, the first guy we saw when we came in probably made the biggest impact on me as far as work-related thoughts that swirl in my head… his name was John Funk and he is making a movie, folks. His movie is called Mary Lou Turbine and the Quest For the Dark Planet. Say that 10 times fast, I dare ya.

I’m not even 100% sure what the movie is about – and I even watched the trailer. But he has basically made or made use of old toys and stuff – I take it this is some sort of “no humans in this movie” thing – yeah, there’s a name for this, but whatever. Anyway… what struck me was this. This guy has been working on these elaborate scenes (seriously, I wish I had a picture of his city scape – amazing workmanship) for *YEARS*. How many people do you know that find a dream, a dream that probably makes his friends go, “Huh? You build toys in your garage for your movie? HUH?” and keeps following that dream after all this time?

Yeah. That many, I thought so. So, Mr. Funk, my hats off to you. Everyone should have a dream in their lives and in their businesses and follow it. I think your movie is sci-fi – not something I watch on a regular basis, but you know what? I’ll buy it when it comes out because darn it, I think you were a pretty cool dude and you made me smile.

One more thought… if two guys can make a name and business for themselves simply by dropping candy into a bottle of soda and letting themselves get soaked by all of that… anything really is possible. Go for it. Follow your dreams. I’ll show up next year to cheer you all on.

PostHeaderIcon Go Go Mozilla!

Not surprisingly, the huge success of the iPhone and its advanced mobile web functionality is making a lot of developers take another look at this growing market segment.

Mozilla, developers of the Firefox browsers, announced last week that they are working on a mobile browser with a planned release in 2008. For more information, check out this article at Even more details can be found on Mozilla Engineering VP Mike Schroepfer’s blog, here.

PostHeaderIcon CD Celebration!

Okay, so the party is probably over now, since the official anniversary was two months ago.

What am I talking about? The 25th birthday of the compact disc (aka CD)! That’s right, 25th!

I had no idea CDs were that old. Of course I was *ahem* only 8 when the first one was made…

In all fairness to other forms of music media, the CD may be two and half decades old, but it has not been in common use that long. When I was in high school in the early 90s the cassette section at the music store was still 2-3x as large as the CD section and they were prohibitively expensive for a teenager selling popcorn at the movie theatre after school. Heck, when I was in college a couple years later you could still get current tracks on LP. You had to go to grungy stores in Houston’s museum district, but you could get them.

I didn’t even own a CD player til 1995…and had to get married to get it because it technically belonged to my now-husband!

Anywho… Happy birthday CD!

Philips’ official press release about the CDs birthday

Amusing post from NetworkWorld on the same.

Bonus points if you know the name of the artist recorded on that first CD without following the links!

PostHeaderIcon Microsoft threats a bunch o’ houie?

Over the past few years, Open Source has really come to the fore front of everyone’s mind. It is a great way to cut costs and yet still maintain compatibility with the rest of your industry. Need compatibility with MS Office? Open Office can do that for you. Need to be able to open 3d Studio Max renders? Open Source Blender could be right for you.

The producers of these pieces of software and hundreds more provide their work to you for free. But Microsoft has been threatening to take all of that away. How? 235 counts of Intellectual Property infringement.

Which 235 patents have been violated? Microsoft isn’t saying. Why? The wonderful thing about the Open Source community is how fast something new can be done. Need to work around a patent issue with a hardware driver? Somebody will find. Most probably several somebodies. And much faster than one of the big software companies would do it. Microsoft will not say which 235 patents are infringed because, if they did, there would soon be no infringement.

Microsoft is attempting to leverage large Linux distributors (such as Red Hat) into paying royalties to Microsoft for every copy sold. I think leverage is exactly the right word here. Lets say you need to leverage a rock. You need a fulcrum. A real fulcrum, that you can see, touch, and you know is strong enough to support you lever.

So in the case of Microsoft vs. Linux, we have the rock (MS wanting your money), we have the fulcrum (235 patents), and we have the lever (MS lawyers). The problem is that the fulcrum is undefined. I could just as easily call Microsoft and tell them that they are violating 235 of MY patents. Do you think they would pay me if I refused to tell them which ones?

Yeah, I didn’t think so either. So why should we pay when there is no proof that we are doing anything wrong? Innocent until proven guilty. The responsibility for showing us what we are doing wrong lies with Microsoft.

Microsoft: Tell us which 235 patents are the problem. We’ll pay you till its fixed. Don’t worry, it won’t be long.

PostHeaderIcon Can you count the passes?

I wish they hadn’t cut off the rest of the story, but this is really neat…

PostHeaderIcon Eye-Popping Makeover for the C-Note

Ben Franklin is getting an uber high-tech makeover! Starting in 2008, he’s going mobile. Okay, that sounded better in my head.

In all seriousness, the United States $100 bill is the one most counterfeited outside the country and the Treasury is aiming to put a stop to it.

The new $100 bills, which are expected to hit the streets in 2008, will feature a microlens technology that will make it appear as though Benjamin Franklin is moving when the bill is moved. This founding father will appear to move from side to side when the bill is shifted vertically, and seem to move up and down when the bill is moved horizontally.


USA Today article about the changes.

Notes about the $100 at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing(BEP) website.

BEP notes about the latest US currency redesigns and a spot to subscribe to updates.

PostHeaderIcon Quickbooks 2008 is here!

With loads of new features, primarily aimed at making life easier for less experienced users and those in service industries, who bill by time rather than product or task, QuickBooks 2008 is now available.

Technically it’s been available directly from Intuit, via their website ( for a week now. That’s still the only way to get it, since it won’t be available in retail stores until next Wednesday, the 10th.

For more info on the new features, consider taking one of Intuit’s update classes. You can find more info on these sessions here.

PostHeaderIcon Uncle Sam Doesn’t Want You…

…to give him your opinion in exchange for a credit on your tax account. This is apparently the latest phishing scam using the IRS name & logo to try to defraud people, according to accoutingweb.

So, for the record:

A) The IRS does not ever send taxpayers unsolicited emails. That means they will never contact you via email as a first contact–they will only email you after you have been dealing with some matter and authorized them to contact you via email regarding it.

B) If you’re not sure your IRS email is legit, check out their official page on e-mail scams that use their name, found here.

C) If you do get an unsolicited email from the IRS offering you a refund on your credit card as a result of their internal records audit (um, yea, riiight..) and choose not to check it out on the IRS page above, if it is like the one I got this morning, that told me to click on the below address, it is probably not legit.


The words in red ought to send up a red flag, even if they are spelled wrong.

(yes, the end of the link has been cut off and no, it is not clickable, just in case someone cruises by who hasn’t had their coffee yet this morning)