Bob Hope Has Died At 100 Years Old

Bob HopeCNN reports that “Bob Hope, the legendary comedian whose quick wit, daring personality and ski-sloped nose made him an icon of 20th-century entertainment, has died, less than two months after his 100th birthday. Hope started in vaudeville, before going to Broadway, radio, movies and TV, but may be best remembered for his tireless efforts entertaining U.S. troops overseas.” As I said in my previous post, “his legacy as an American comedic icon should be undisputed among those who know and love him.” He will definitely be missed… 🙁

Ed-die! Ed-die!

Baltimore OriolesEddie Murray and Gary Carter were inducted into the Baseball Hall Of Fame on Sunday, as was Bob Uecker, although he received the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasting despite his contention that “I still – and this is not sour grapes by any means – I still think I should’ve gone in as a player.” 😉

As the official Baltimore Orioles page reported, I was really happy to hear that Eddie Murray “let The Wall come down” in his acceptance speech, since as a player he was notorious for “[building] walls around the press, whose questions he blocked out, and the fans, whose chants he muted.” Instead, at the end of his speech “Murray lifted his arms like a conductor and waved to the thousands of Orioles fans who congregated here, summoning the chant. ‘I’d like to end, in closing, with that Ed-die chant,’ Murray said, grinning.” I have great memories of seeing the Orioles play, and I’m really happy that I was able to chant Eddie’s name while he was still playing. He’s definitely a class act, one that really deserves the Hall Of Fame accolades that he has received.

Favorite Mozilla/Firebird Extensions

MozillaIt’s been a couple of days since I’ve made a post singing the praises of Mozilla or Firebird, so I figured I’d start the week right. 😉 Although the default features of Mozilla and Firebird are extensive, one of many nice things about them is the ability to incorporate extensions (formerly known as plugins in Netscape) and add-on projects that contribute even more useful features and capabilities. For a fairly comprehensive list of extensions you can consult this site, and for an overview of active projects take a look here. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Searchthis – allows you to highlight a term and conduct a search by right-clicking. I use this all the time for dictionary searches.
  • Adblock – complements the already extensive ad-blocking capabilities by allowing you to precisely block server paths for ad graphics.
  • Flash Click To View – disables all Flash animation, blocking annoying Flash ads, but also getting rid of Flash animation you might want to see (like HomeStar Runner!). You can easily click on the Flash box to watch the animation if you so desire, though.
  • Auto Scroll – lets you use the AutoScroll feature available on the middle button of come mouses; might be incorporated into upcoming versions of Mozilla.
  • Download Statusbar – allows you to remove the download status window that pops up, replacing it with a dynamic graphic that appears in a status bar at the bottom of the browser window.
  • Mycroft – choose among hundreds of different search engine sites to add to the default search options.
  • Leech – download all the files of a particular file extension linked to on a page by right-clicking, like graphics, animations, zip files, etc.
  • Language Menu – adds a sub-menu under “Tools” which allows the server to provide a localized version of a page. Great if you look at a lot of foreign language pages.
  • Prefbar – a very useful toolbar that adds “utility buttons, user agent spoofing, web links, and more.” The user agent spoof sometimes fools sites that “require” M$ IE.
  • Preferential Toolbar – quite the power extension; adds an “advanced preferences” option under the “tools” menu that lists any and every modifiable parameter, allowing you to easily customize almost any preference.
  • Blog This – allows you to post the current page to your Blog by right-clicking on the it. This type of feature is also available as JavaScript bookmarklet that you drag to your links toolbar.
  • Themes – a site that lists all available themes for Mozilla, Firebird, Netscape 7.x, etc. I personally haven’t changed my default Firebird theme, but it’s nice to know that you can.
  • Plugindoc – not really a plug-in, more of a resource to help install some pesky application plug-ins, like Java, Shockwave, and ActiveX.

It could be argued that some of these features should be incorporated into Mozilla and Firebird as default features, but I think that not everyone wants or needs all of these things. Some of them I can’t live without, but others would probably unnecessarily complicate things for users. When it comes down to it, I prefer being able to customize browsers the way I want rather than have bugs features forced upon me…

P.S. Make sure you restart the browser after installing each extension. Sometimes I encountered some problems trying to do a whole bunch at once without closing and restarting…

Snapster – Son Of Napster

PBS writer Robert X. Cringely believes he has come up with a “legal way to do a successful music downloading business,” which he has dubbed Snapster, Son of Napster. Although you should read the article for more details, it basically involves starting a public company that buys every available CD, allowing its shareholders to download tracks or CDs for a minimal fee as dictated by the concept of Fair Use. In exploring the legal ramifications of this proposal, Cringely says,

I have yet to find a lawyer who sees a serious flaw in my logic. What I am about to propose is apparently not illegal under current law, which of course means that the RIAA will throw their lobbying muscle into making it illegal, getting Congress to pass a new law specifically against my technique. The trick then is to establish the business before that can happen.

This sounds like an interesting idea, although it would require some significant start-up capital, and of course it has to face the inevitable legal challenges the RIAA will throw at it. Still, I really admire Cringely’s thinking, and especially his reasons for this endeavour:

I don’t like the current situation in the recording industry where power is concentrated in the hands of executives who are doing all they can to stop the rotation of the Earth. Technology has already changed the economics of music creation and distribution, but the record companies are resisting with every weapon they have. I would too if I was in their position, which is fat, rich, and having everything to lose. But times do change, and I think the music business is ready to adopt new ways of moving forward. And once that happens, it will resume growing. But what is needed for that to happen is a catalyst, which I am attempting to provide right here.

I’ve been basically saying the same thing for some time now, but I really admire Cringely’s lateral solution to this problem. Although it might actually be feasible, I’d be very surprised to see anyone actually attempt such a company…

Use A Better Browser

click here for better browsing“If you were looking at this in any browser but Microsoft Internet Explorer, it would look and run better and faster.” The Use A Better Browser campaign makes this assertion, and I tend to agree with them. Why, you may ask? I’ll let them explain:

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer may currently have the largest market share, but it has been stagnating for a while. There will be no new Internet Explorer version until Microsoft’s next operating system. It won’t be available for several years and you’ll need to pay for Windows to get it.

Meanwhile, other web browsers have been innovating and are becoming more and more popular. Today, these browsers run faster and look better than Internet Explorer.

By using a better browser your experience will be better. Plus, you will help to foster a competitive environment in which browser technology can continue to innovate and make everyone’s web experience more pleasant and exciting.

For more information, read Tim Bray’s musings on the subject of browsers.

Although I use and highly recommend Mozilla and/or Mozilla Firebird, Safari, Opera and Konqueror are also cited as worthy alternatives to M$ Internet Explorer. I know I’ve been singing the praises of Mozilla for some time now, but it really is for good reason. Keep innovation alive and break the stagnant monopoly of M$ by trying one of these alternatives; you won’t regret it.

Subtly Simpsons

Subtly Simpsons contains “a list of lines from The Simpsons that we, your editors, have found to be particularly witty, often with their humor derived from subtleties of language, esoteric allusions, or just plain wit.” Although not as comprehensive as The Simpsons Archive episode capsules, there’s still plenty to go through here…