Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Year's Eve and "Quantum" John's Personal Motto

My web browser's home page is a customized set of Google widgets that includes a Bible verse-of-the-day, and today's is Isaiah 43:16, 18-19:

This is what the LORD says... "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland."

After the past year (especially some health issues and an unusually stressful problem with a co-worker), I'm very happy to forget the former things. I'm ready to move on to the new things God has in store for me, my family, my friends, my country, and my world.

That verse-of-the-day also reminded me of one of my favorite verses, Isaiah 26:12: "All that we have accomplished, you have done for us."

God has given me some abilties to work and accomplish things, and I've tried to be diligent in exercising those abilities. As a result, my resume reflects some of the unusual things I've accomplished, such as earning over 50 professional I.T. certifications in database technology, network engineering, computer programming, and system administration, and all of it great fun. But no matter how much I accomplish, I remember Isaiah's words, and know that I'm just one of God's children, trying to follow His will and invest my time as He wishes.

"My accomplishments" are, in fact, what God has done through me, so there's nothing for me to brag about except the God who has blessed me with so much. Which brings me to my personal motto: Everything that I accomplish is just some of what God has done for me.

Trying to listen to God and follow His will has been an amazing life-long adventure so far. Now begins the year 2007, and I get to read live the next chapter... How exciting!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Mandy Lambert is Engaged!

Mandy Lambert, of Columbia, South Carolina, and nice nifty niece of Quantum John, is engaged to marry her high-school friend Philip Nordstrom!! The wedding will be in December of 2007, and we'll all get to be there!

Here's the very happy couple, with a link to an online album with more:

Photo of Mandy and Phil after she accepted his proposal of marriage.

Naked baby Mandy pictures will be available on EBay, unless she pays us a big bribe our standard photo-processing recovery fees.


Okay, I admit it! I'm blessed beyond comprehension! In addition to a long life filled with loving family, friends, and adventure, this morning was a particularly wonderful morning.

Photo of woods and creekI woke up beside my georgeous and loving wife, feeling NO side-effects from the prescription I've been kicking, got to watch her take a shower, and afterward noticed a heavy fog outside. Since I now have a hi-res camera, for the first time in almost 2 decades, I grabbed it and a wide-angle lens, and headed outdoors. What a wonderful time! And you can see some of what I saw, from this online album:

Thank you, Lord, for your amazing gifts!

Friday, December 29, 2006

Good riddance, Duloxetine Hydrochloride.

I think I'm finally over the worst of the effects of withdrawing from Cymbalta. This nasty med was prescribed for me at a dosage large enough to have a "therapeutic" effect on the burning sensations in my feet due to peripheral neuropathy, but it never had any apparent positive impact, despite taking it daily for over a year.

With no gains, and side effects getting steadily worse, including some very unstable emotions on and off, my pain doctor finally agreed it was time to try something else.

So, instead of a drug that is intended to help by affecting brain neurons, I've now started using a cocktail of pain suppressors which a local "compounding" pharmacist makes for me -- by prescription, of course. All I have to do is smear this junk on the souls of my feet twice a day. So far, it seems to help, and with zero side effects. Yea!

Now that I have reason to expect my emotions to be normal again, I'm working on a book proposal that I hope to submit to a publisher in a week or so. I've never liked keeping personal secrets (though I'm very good at keeping other folks' secrets), but I don't want to reveal too much, too soon, because I don't want anyone else to try to scoop me. It takes a looong time for a book to get published, but I'll occasionally mention my progress in general terms. For now, I'll just tell you the major topic is database technology.

Speaking of books, I've started an online novel to explain the origins of Elf Ink. I have the first chapter posted, but I'm not going to put up links in the linky areas of my blaghs until I have a few more chapters done. If you want a sneak preview, I'll give a link here, since this post will get buried by following posts. If you read the first chapter, I'd really appreciate some feedback, positive or negative... mainly, is it interesting enough that you'd like to read more?

Would you believe... Time-Life has finally released the "Get Smart" TV series on DVD. I thought someone might give it to me as a Christmas gift, but I... "missed it by that much." Sorry about that, Chief.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Cymbalta side effects... still.

Still suffering through withdrawal from Cymbalta. What a nightmare that drug turned out to be.

I was scheduled to return to work today, and in fact I went in early, but I turned right around and came home. The burning sensation in my feet and audio processing problems kept me awake most of the night, so I was pretty tired, but otherwise felt not-too-bad when I left home, but before I was half-way to the Metro station, the familiar dizziness came back big-time. I'm sure some other commuters must have thought I was drunk.

Once I got to the office, I couldn't concentrate well enough to do any work, so... here I am at home again. I'll try again tomorrow. At least I made it through another day without that awful drug.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Lousy Side-Effects

Slept through most of Christmas day. Woke up feeling much better than average this morning, but now I'm so dizzy I don't think I'd have been able to make it to work. At least I have today off.

I'm out of paid-time-off (PTO is in lieu of separate accounts for vacation and sick-leave), so I need to work Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday whether I feel like it or not.

UPDATE: Hey, one benefit is that I received a full set of Christmas gifts twice! But, apparently the second set was the same as the first. I got them all again because I didn't remember Christmas morning at all. The second time was fun, though...

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Eve

I'm about 1/2 way through withdrawing from Cymbalta, and still getting over a cold. Spent all day sleeping, staring at the TV while the Redskins lost, winning a play-money poker tournament, and starting a fire. I haven't been up to reading the Christmas story tonight, but perhaps we can do that tomorrow night.

Oh, the fire was in a fireplace. Our home has 2 fireplaces we had never used since we bought it in October 2005, and in fact, this is the first time we have ever had an evening together in front of a real fire. It was pretty neat just sitting around and talking and watching the fire, although I slept a lot of the time.

I didn't get a lot done that I had wanted to for giving Carla gifts, but I was too tired and/or spaced out the last few weeks... at least I was able to keep up enough energy and sanity to keep doing my job. Hopefully, by the end of this coming week, I'll be past both the side effects of the Cymbalta and the effects of withdrawing from it. Then I'll get busy with my postponed plans to give Carla in February.

Valentines Day (my favorite non-Christian holiday) is the 14th, our 21st anniversary is the 15th, and her birthday is the 17th! I have some great plans I'll tell you about, after the fact, because Carla sometimes reads my posts...

So for now, Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

John's Mainframe Laptop

I want the power of a mainframe in a laptop computer.

Doesn't everyone?

I'm posting this description of my next dream-machine, because it's already technologically possible, I think there would be a great demand for it, and I want one or more of the cheap-laptop developers (E.g., Lite Appliances) to read this and BUILD ME ONE!

Now, I'm not talking about a laptop that has the instructions-per-second or amount of memory of a mainframe from 10 years ago... today's laptops are already way past that. And obviously I'm not talking about today's supercomputers shrunk to laptop-size... that will take too long.

Nope, I'm talking about building in automated connections between a very light-weight, inexpensive laptop and a high-performance laptop server, so that the laptop server can provide the best features of mainframe computing to an ultra-portable PC.

Here are the specifications:

The Laptop

  • Can run applications locally when off-line
  • Typical laptop Monitor-Keyboard clamshell form
  • One or more built-in pointer (touchpad/j-stick/thumbtrack/etc)
  • Operating System
  • RAM for the operating system and applications
  • Flash-RAM for storing current state, loaded applications, and the user's files
  • Automatically synch/backup files to Laptop Server
  • Both Wi-Fi and Cellular wireless links to both the Laptop Server and directly to the Internet
  • Applications can process locally, but when connection is available, they can also off-load large processing tasks to the Laptop Server
  • USB ports for local printing and accessories
  • Video output for single or dual desk monitors or projectors
  • NO built-in hard disk drive (HDD only by attaching via USB cable)

    The Laptop Server (LS)
  • Support for multiple laptops
  • Web-based remote desktop
  • Provides roaming profiles (Just throw-away a busted laptop, connect a new one to the Laptop Server, and it will download the same configuration as the last one, including the user's files)
  • Multi-threaded processing
  • High fault-tolerance hardware for business
  • Highly fault-tolerance system for home use (internet based backups)

    The System
  • Can swap applications on and off the Laptop from the Laptop Server to conserve Flash memory
  • Application swapping can be scheduled by the user
  • Backups of Laptop to Laptop Server occur automatically while connected
  • Applications can automatically shift heavy processing to Laptop Server while connected
  • All data transfers between Laptop and Laptop Server support intermittent rather all-at-once transfers

    Okay, system developers, there it is in a nutshell. If you need more details, call me. If you need market research, call me. If you need someone to buy the first one, CALL ME!

  • Tuesday, December 19, 2006

    Cafepress and Copyright Issues

    Disclaimer: IANA lawyer

    Dianne Courage, a good friend of mine who's started a Cafepress shop called Take Courage, recently asked me about copyright issues regarding her plans for new designs. She's just getting started, but you should watch her shop, because she's very talented, and I'm sure she'll end up with one of the best shops at Cafepress.

    Well, I know a little bit about copyright, so I thought I'd endanger the public by posting my understanding of a few of the issues...

    You may or may not be allowed to combine your work (designs, images, or words) with the work of others, depending on several factors:

    If the other person's (or organization's) work is not protected, you can do anything you want with it. It's not protected if the other person never acted to protect it, or if they protected it but the protection has expired. Many works by the U.S. government are in the public domain, meaning they're unprotected, and others (such as NASA photos) may be used if you abide by their guidelines. Patents and copyrights expire, but trademarks do not.

    If the other person's work is protected, you can negotiate with them to buy the rights to use their work. This is too expensive and time-consuming for use with Cafepress, so if you can't use it under fair use (see below) then just design something else.

    If the other person's work is a design, they could have patented it. If the other person's work is an image or words, they could have acquired copyright or trademark protection.

    Copyright means you are not allowed to copy the entire work, unless your purpose is clearly to parody the original. For copying part of a work, copyright law includes a "fair use" concept, but there is a substantial amount of disagreement (legally and otherwise) over what constitutes fair-use. Generally, you can use a small percentage of someone else's copyrighted work if you are not trying to compete with them. For example, you can't take someone else's complete poem and put it in your book of poetry (even with attribution), but you may certainly take a phrase of theirs and describe why you like that phrase, or explain it's meaning.

    Trademark means they're using their image or words to identify their business, such as "McDonald's" and the golden arches symbol. You can use trademarked images or text, as long as you use them in a way that will not cause people to think that you are the company with the trademark. For instance, you can name your plumbing company "McDonald's" because no one is likely to mistake your pipe truck for a restaurant. You may not open a fast-food restaurant and name it "MacDonald's" because any court would rule against you that you were trying to "trade on their name" even though it wasn't exactly the same. Could you buy a sidewalk hot dog cart and put a sign on it that says "McDonalds"? That's a grey area, and a court might rule either way -- if you're name is Joe McDonald, and you don't name your hot dogs "McDogs", you'll have better chances of being allowed to keep the name.

    How do you know if a work is protected? You can do patent and trademark searches via the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office's web site. For copyright, the rule of thumb is, if it's published, then it was copyrighted as of the publication date.

    Are you allowed to quote speeches or statements by public figures and entertainers, without their permission? I believe you may, as long as you give attribution. Even if I am right, however, take warning: nothing may quell the insatiable lawyers-on-retainers...

    Now, here's some inside info regarding these issues specifically regarding creating and using designs on Cafepress products. A symptom of THERE ARE TOO MANY LAWYERS is that Cafepress is being continually contacted and/or harassed by attorneys demanding that Cafepress take down this or that design, sometimes with good reason, sometimes not. I'm convinced some are trying to rack up billable hours so desperately, that they don't care about what is reasonable, fair, or even legal.

    Lawyers for The Spy Museum contacted Cafepress regarding my "Shhh" design, saying it violated the Spy Museum's trademarks. This was a totally spurious claim, as there is no way anyone would mistake the Elf Ink shop for the Spy Museum. And if that wasn't enough, I looked up their trademarks, which covered "Shh" and "Shhhh", but not "Shhh". Cafepress forwarded the lawyer's demand to me, and asked me what action I wanted to take, and I told them that I was convinced I was within my rights to leave the design up, and that it was not harming the Spy Museum in any manner, and Cafepress stood by me. Three cheers for Cafepress! If that law firm tries to push this issue further, I'll post their emails, and my replies, on this blog.

    So, Cafepress gets pestered frequently on these issues, and we don't want to cause them unnecessary headaches, so here's what I suggest. If you want to quote Jay Leno on a Cafepress design, go ahead, but don't tag (label) the design with Jay's name. For instance, if you have an image of several big chins, you can add the text "Yeah, I know I have a big chin. --Jay Leno" to the image, and you can use tags like "chin, big, big chin" but don't use "Jay, Leno, Jay Leno". This way you can have your design, and anyone who browses your Cafepress shop can see it, but when the lawyers search for "Jay Leno" with Cafepress's search engine, they won't find your design. By the way, Cafepress has literally millions of designs, so the lawyers will probably only find things by searching, not by browsing. And if they do find it and fuss, just take it down and pray for fewer lawyers.

    Hope this helps, John

    Sunday, December 17, 2006

    Jealousy is Great!

    Okay, there are two major defintions of "jealousy." One is the same as "envy," as in, you have something I want, and I'm going to find a way to take it from you. That one's always bad. The other one means carefully protecting someone or something in your care.

    The Bible says in one place "God is a jealous God." I'm guessing that's using the protection meaning, 'cause I don't think I have much God would be envious over.

    So, in this sense, jealousy is great! I'm very jealous for my wife Carla... I get riled up if another guy starts gettin' too friendly, don'cha know. And I am very fortunate that my lovely Carla is jealous for me, and I appreciate her looking out for me, especially when I'm tired, have low blood sugar, or my emotions are running amok. Those are the times when I get confused (to say the least), and Carla helps make sure I stay away from folks like sales people.

    While I'm on the topic, and have my wits about me, I offer my apologies to the friends to whom I sent email while I was waaaay off track recently. And thanks for your patience, understanding, and wisdom.

    Personal log

    My camcorder keeps malfunctioning, so I've ordered a new one and it should arrive this week.

    I've had to postpone digitizing photos indefinitely. My emotions have been on a roller-coaster the last couple of months, and seeing the old photos seems to make it much worse. I'm going to talk to my pain doctor about terminating my Cymbalta prescription, as it has never seemed to help the pain, and it's the most likely culprit for my volatile emotions.

    Saturday, December 16, 2006

    The Shape We're In

    The shape of things that have been, are now, and are to come?

    Here's a really fun article discussing the "shape" of the universe.

    Entanglement vs. Relativity

    Disclaimer: IANA physicist, and IANA mathematician

    Experiments have provided strong evidence to support the idea of "entangled particles," but I think there must be a limit to the distance...

    "...two entangled systems appear to interact across large spatial separations..."
    or the Special Theory of Relativity must break down.

    Here's where I see them as mutually exclusive:

    Take the famous spaceship example for relativity... A spaceship has a clock synchronized to a clock on Earth. The ship leaves Earth and travels for awhile at or near the speed of light, turns around, and returns to Earth... the clocks will read differently, with more time having passed on Earth than on the ship.

    Now add to that example a pair of entangled particles. Separate them and keep one on the Earth while one goes on the ship. For this mental exercise, it doesn't matter that the particles can't be monitored without changing the states (they can't transmit information)... while on the trip, if the action at a distance has no limit, then if one changes state a million times, the other will change state a million times. If they change state the same number of times, then time is not relative between Earth and the ship.

    If anyone sees a hole in this attempt to apply logic, I would very much appreciate you straightening me out via a comment to this post.

    Thanks, John

    Saturday, December 2, 2006

    Photo History

    This post is to describe some of my online photo albums, other than family pictures, in order to help people find them via web searches.

    I'm spending a lot of time digitizing old photos and negatives, including performing color-correction, and there are lots more to come! Since they're hosted on Google's PicasaWeb, you can "subscribe" to one or more albums, and you'll get an email letting you know when something's been added to those albums.

    So, if you were a part of Maranatha Campus Ministries (also known as Maranatha Christian Fellowhip) in Rome, Georgia; Atlanta, Georgia; Auburn, Alabama; or Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, then you may be in for some pleasant memories. And just to help the keyword searches, this is the Maranatha associated with Bob Weiner, which began in Paducah, Kentucky, and later moved its headquarters to Gainesville, Florida, and which published the Forerunner newspaper.

    Other albums provide photos of Wesley Southern Methodist Church, in Rome, Georgia; Coosa High School (a few miles west of Rome, Georgia), primarily over the years 1972-1977, and some scenes from in and around Rome, for those who might like some sentimental reminders of their days in The City of Seven Hills.

    The lastest album up is for Bethany Fellowship (a.k.a. Bethany Missionary Church, and Bethany Fellowship Missionary Training Center), in Bloomington, Minnesota, just outside of Minneapolis.

    Of course, I'll be discussing these organizations, particularly some of the strengths and weaknesses of Maranatha, and highlighting some of the photos on future episodes of John TV. So, "stay tuned..."

    Photos, photos!