Thursday, June 17, 2004

Count your Blessings

One of the coolest things about CAP (Computers Assisting People) is the people you deal with. Not just the recipients and the volunteers, though they have stories that could fill several volumes.

Because we are volunteers and many of our large donation pickups need to be done during office hours, we sometimes use guys from local shelters and other agencies that we have a relationship with.

Just last week we worked with some guys just out of prison. They are always good for some fascinating stories but this one stuck with me.

We took them to the Galleria after a work session so they could get something to eat. One of the men had just been released from prison after 16 years. His eyes grew as he looked at the plethora of choices available at the food court. He hadn’t been able to select his food - and certainly not such a variety - in over 16 years.

He settled on some Chinese food, which he had never had before.

Remember that the next time you are feeling unfotrtunate or depressed - and count your blessings.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Major Problem Solved?

There are about 7 major problems in Mathematics that have been around for a century or so and have a $1 million reward if solved.

It looks like one of them has been solved.

In 1904, the brilliant Henri Poncare (the other great mathematician of his era was David Hilbert) came up with a conjecture in topology regarding the 3-sphere. Basincally it says that the 3-sphere is unique among all 3-D manifolds. A young (all great mathematics is done at a very early age) Russian mathematician named Grigori Perelman posted his proof and has been defending it the last 2 years. It looks like it is accurate.

It is possible that our universe might have the shape of a 3-sphere. The math behind the new proof may influence particle physics and Einstein’s theory of gravity.

Scientific American has a great explanation and even a primer on topology in the July issue.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Lows and Highs

I was kind of depressed after yesterday AM's Futures Forum at the PBL Building at Case.

Neosa and REI@Weatherhead put together a dynamite panel moderated by Dr Luis Proenza, president of the University of Akron.

Manuel Glynias, the founder of NetGenics represented Biotech. Lev Gonick, CIO of Case represented higher education and IT, Scott Rickert, President of Nanofilm Ltd. was there for nanotechnology and Industry Week’s John Soat gave an IT and Journalism perspective.

Except for Rickert who saw great promise, especially locally, for nanotech, the others were more sobering. It seemed that many of the things that have to be done to make our community, country and world improve the way they could and should are beyond our control. Self-serving and shortsighted politicians have too much power and are reluctant, if not adamantly opposed, to considering the broader vision and hence, the broader good.

That doesn’t mean we quit trying - we actually have to try more - lots more.

My mood picked up Wednesday evening. John Nottingham & John Spirk spoke at the JCU Entrepreneur’s Association dinner meeting at MOCA. Their brilliant designs have yielded numerous companies, countless jobs and hundreds of millions in revenue for the area. Their focus on consumer products, 70% of the US economy, was in contrast to the morning’s glimpse at bio, nano and info tech.

Check out the review of Nottingham & Spirk and wait for the mood upswing.

Friday, March 05, 2004

1 2 years ago today?

What were you doing 12 years ago? I can actually remember. March 5, 1992 I was cruising all over town - even had Channel 3 and 8 following and filming me. Why?

Because on March 6, 1992, the Michelangelo Virus was going to kick in.

Viruses were new back then - this was pre-Internet (the Internet we know today at least) days and most infections were caused by sharing floppy disks. I used to go to the library and borrow software whenever I wanted to test a new virus. Those disks were like Petri dishes - every virus out there seemed to end up on those disks.

The hype was enormous - this was all new to a world that was increasingly dependent on their PC as a business tool. We weren’t sure what exactly would happen.

I remember explaining to Channel 8’s Martin Savidge just what possible damage could be done. Now the level of naivety seems almost quaint as we are accustomed to routine virus and worm outbreaks.

My advice back then is the same as it is now - backup your important data regularly, store it offsite, test the restore process occasionally and keep your anti-virus definitions current. Now I add, make sure your systems patches are up to date.

Michelangelo did little damage compared to the hype. There were random outbreaks, many in Japan, and some annoyances and expense, but nothing like some predicted. All the exposure may have done some good in alerting people to possible infections and the need for backups.

My favorite virus (yes, I had favorites because most were not malicious) was the Cookie Virus. It would randomly, and with increasing frequency, pop up a window on your screen with the message “Give me a cookie.”

If you knew, or guessed, to type in “Oreo” it would say thanks and remove itself. Those were indeed simpler days.

Friday, February 06, 2004

Freedom to Blog

Way back in the 80’s, I was communicating via electronic bulletin board systems (BBS) with friends in what was then the Soviet Union. They would move from town to town with a PC, modem and printer keeping a few steps ahead of the KGB. Using the incredible power of the technology, they would print newsletters and communicate with Westerners like me who had access to more information than they could have dreamed of.

In fact I learned of the revolutions in Russia before the international press did, thanks to these brave patriots.

I was reminded of this as I read this week about 54 people being jailed in China over their Internet use. Check it out

I am sure if we are hearing about 54 cases, the real number is significantly higher.

Amnesty International is calling for their release. Their crime? Expressing their opinions on the Internet. We bloggers, even far-too-infrequent contributors like me, should be thankful for our great freedom to read and post pretty much what we want.

We should also remember the great empowerment that technology can bring to a person, group or idea. It helped bring down the Soviet Union. Maybe someday it will help in other restricted lands.

Friday, January 09, 2004

Wi-fi presentation at CSU

Saturday January 10th, the Greater Cleveland PC Users Group will be presenting a 2-part program on wireless in Cleveland.

The event is free and open to the public.

I will be doing a presentation on the basics of wi-fi with an in depth look at Intel’s Centrino technology.

Then Dell Klingensmith will talk about the OneCleveland project.

University Center UC1 Auditorium.
Cleveland State University
University Center
East 22nd Street

Park under the Main Classroom Building. Right turn into the Main Classroom Building parking lot G. This is off E. 22nd between Euclid Avenue and Chester Avenue. Other parking is available. Parking rate is approximately $3.00.

Sunday, January 04, 2004

Favorite Female News Anchor

One of the sites I do (ClevelandSeniors.Com - the home for "seasoned citizens" of NEOhio and the people who care for and about them) has a regular Instant Vote feature. We provide topics, people make a choice (anonymously) and after a while we post the results.

We've had a lot of different topics and some interesting results.

One of the most requested topics has been for Favorite Female News Anchor. We chose the 10/11PM anchors - Romona Robinson, Lee Jordan, Wilma Smith and Denise Dufala for the vote.

As expected, it is already hot and heavy.

Get your opinion in. We don't track who voted or how often - just how many totals for each choice.

Let the best, uh, woman, win.