02

2006-02 posts.

  1. MS IE 7 beta available. RE: Cyber Life. Cyber Tech. Microsoft.
  2. Evaluating MS IE 7. RE: Cyber Life. Cyber Tech. Microsoft.
  3. Google privacy. RE: Introversion. Cyber Life. Google. My Creation. Privacy.
  4. Graphical passwords. RE: Cyber Life. Cyber Tech. Security.
  5. Procrastination cheese. RE: Procrastination. Productivity.
  6. Binary numbers taught by the Socratic Method. RE: Education. Math. Philosophy.
  7. Elegance versus Optimized. RE: Cyber Tech. Productivity. Programming.
  8. Pre-language memories. RE: Mind. Pscychology. Words.
  9. Quantifying dark matter. RE: Astronomy. Science.
  10. Bottled water wasteful. RE: Conservation.
  11. SawStop suits. RE: Engineering. Hardware. Legal. Safety. U.S.A. (America).
  12. Monkey off NASA's back. RE: Education. Faith. Politics. Science. World.
  13. Fundamentalists are whacked. RE: Faith. Video. Violence. World.
  14. Songbird set free. RE: Audio. Cyber Life. Free Gratis. Free Libre.
  15. Multi-Touch Interactive. RE: Cyber Tech. Engineering. Video.
  16. Pop steps down. RE: Family. Images. My Creation. Rambling.
  17. Sperm tails. RE: Intelligent Design. Science.
  18. Two restaurants. RE: Chicago. Food. My Creation.
  19. Portals 2.0. RE: Cyber Life. Cyber Tech.

2006-02-01t16:25:29Z | RE: Cyber Life. Cyber Tech. Microsoft.
MS IE 7 beta available

I was going to try the MS IE 7 beta, but part of the install involves "validating" that you are using genuine Microsoft products but that the validation erred and I'm supposed to try again later. What a wash out. Plus when I look over the features of IE 7, it sounds like they simply copied Mozilla Firefox: tabs, search bar, better bookmark management, privacy clearing, RSS feeds, etc. The only thing I saw that might be better is that they seemed to try to tighten up the toolbars on top with smaller icons, plus better printing options. Obviously I can't evaluate their security improvements without a working copy.

Microsoft releases IE 7 beta to public [news.zdnet.com/2100-3513_22-6033116.html?tag=zdnn.alert]

The program, still a work in progress, is available for download from the Internet Explorer section of Microsoft's corporate Web site, the company said. The company, which began limited testing in July, had promised to deliver a public beta by the end of March. "The big update is that it's public," said Margaret Cobb, group product manager for Internet Explorer at Microsoft. "All previous releases were limited." The latest version works only with Windows XP Service Pack 2 and includes many of the features Microsoft has been touting for months.

Microsoft said that the new Printing Enhancements and Shrink to Fit printing features enable users to adjust margins, change the page layout, remove headers or footers, and increase or decrease the print space.

2006-02-02t16:36:10Z | RE: Cyber Life. Cyber Tech. Microsoft.
Evaluating MS IE 7

MS IE 7 beta installed today (but didn't yesterday).

  • It looks nice.
  • Users who haven't been using stuff like this on other browsers will probably think that those Microsoft folks are slick.
  • Of course MSIE is still missing all the nice and productive extensions that Mozilla Firefox has, as well as the user contributions of open source, but we'll see how things develop.
  • I do like the tightened interface, but I think many will be annoyed by the extra click now required because they removed the bookmarks toolbar. Very bold move to modify the menu bar so much.
  • Will people remember that the keyboard shortcut for saving a Favorite is CTRL+D?
  • The Quick Tabs feature, which lets you look at thumbnail of each of your tabs, is nice and is supposed to be part of Windows Vista too.
  • Interesting that in addition to adjusting the text size, you can also adjust the zoom.
  • The prominence of RSS feeds might make RSS feeds even more popular. How a feed looks in MSIE 7 will be important. The filter by category plus sorting features are powerful!

2006-02-03t16:27:29Z | RE: Introversion. Cyber Life. Google. My Creation. Privacy.
Google privacy

One of my favorite expressions is "naked upon the rock". This is a realization that we are all vulnerable and mortal. Accepting this gives me a sense of freedom and appreciation. While I would prefer not to be naked in public or go to the bathroom in public, I think I could do it if I had to. I feel better about exposing my imperfections, my dark side, my foibles, my mistakes, my sexuality, my humanity than ever before. This is all very odd because although I can communicate quite intimately and enthusiastically, I am still a relatively shy and introverted person. And of course I expect info such as my bank account and passwords to be kept private.

That all said, when it comes to the issue of privacy, I have relative peace since I have basically accepted a lack of privacy. Given that my theme is "exploration", I surf the Internet for all sorts of stuff and, yes, sometimes it does get weird. I think that we're all both predictable and surprising creatures. I'm fine with all sorts of entities collecting all sorts of metadata on me. Google is interestingly openly invasive. Google searching is pervasive, but layering it with a Google account is penetrating, and having the Google Desktop is probably as invasive as it gets.

FAQ: When Google is not your friend [news.zdnet.com/2100-9588_22-6034666.html?tag=zdnn.alert]

Q: Does Google collect and record people's search terms whether they're logged in or not?
Yes. Google confirmed this week that it keeps and collates these results, which means the company can be forced to divulge them under court order. Whether Google does anything else with them is another issue. Given the Department of Justice's recent subpoena to Google, it's likely the police or even lawyers in civil cases--divorce attorneys, employers in severance disputes--eventually will demand that Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, AOL, and other search engines cough up users' search histories.

Q: Has this happened before?
Almost. A North Carolina man was found guilty of murder in November in part because he Googled the words "neck," "snap," "break" and "hold" before his wife was killed. But those search terms were found on Robert Petrick's computer, not obtained from Google directly. Also, attorneys have already begun introducing searches conducted on Google, Yahoo and AltaVista as evidence.

2006-02-03t22:16:25Z | RE: Cyber Life. Cyber Tech. Security.
Graphical passwords

I love simple solutions.

Graphical passwords for better security [blogs.zdnet.com/emergingtech/index.php?p=137&tag=nl.e550]

[PHOTO: click point password]
In this graphical password, you supply a picture and your password consists of four or more click points on the image that you specified. I like this solution better.

[SCREENSHOT: icon click password]
In this graphical password, your password consists of clicking on the icons that you specified. The other icons are randomly generted.

2006-02-03t22:17:02Z | RE: Procrastination. Productivity.
Procrastination cheese

This is so cheesy that it might actually work.

Procrastination hack: “(10+2)*5” [43folders.com/2005/10/11/procrastination-hack-1025]

It’s called “(10+2)*5” and here’s why:

  • 10 - Work for ten minutes with single-minded focus on moving toward completion on a single task. Ten minutes, and that’s all you’re allowed to do is work, work, work. No cheating, because (DING!) you actually get a break when you’re done…
  • 2 - After ten minutes of sweaty, dedicated work you get a 2-minute break to do whatever you want—drink coffee, read 5ives, call your bookie, whatever. When the two minutes are up, it’s back to work on the next task on your list. This is important.
  • *5 - You’re going to iterate this four more times for a total of one hour’s working/breaking

2006-02-06t16:11:02Z | RE: Education. Math. Philosophy.
Binary numbers taught by the Socratic Method

Aside from discussing the Socratic Method (which I love), it's just fun to see these 3rd grade kids learn binary numbers.

The metafilter link has some other links in it but most of the comments in the Metafilter thread are asinine.

The Socratic Method: Teaching by Asking Instead of by Telling  [garlikov.com/Soc_Meth.html] [via metafilter.com/mefi/48919]

The following is a transcript of a teaching experiment, using the Socratic method, with a regular third grade class in a suburban elementary school. I present my perspective and views on the session, and on the Socratic method as a teaching tool, following the transcript. The class was conducted on a Friday afternoon beginning at 1:30, late in May, with about two weeks left in the school year. This time was purposely chosen as one of the most difficult times to entice and hold these children's concentration about a somewhat complex intellectual matter. The point was to demonstrate the power of the Socratic method for both teaching and also for getting students involved and excited about the material being taught. There were 22 students in the class. I was told ahead of time by two different teachers (not the classroom teacher) that only a couple of students would be able to understand and follow what I would be presenting. When the class period ended, I and the classroom teacher believed that at least 19 of the 22 students had fully and excitedly participated and absorbed the entire material. The three other students' eyes were glazed over from the very beginning, and they did not seem to be involved in the class at all. The students' answers below are in capital letters. The experiment was to see whether I could teach these students binary arithmetic (arithmetic using only two numbers, 0 and 1) only by asking them questions. None of them had been introduced to binary arithmetic before. Though the ostensible subject matter was binary arithmetic, my primary interest was to give a demonstration to the teacher of the power and benefit of the Socratic method where it is applicable.

2006-02-06t16:11:56Z | RE: Cyber Tech. Productivity. Programming.
Elegance versus Optimized

The concept here is applicable beyond the techy realm: The how efficiently a human solves a problem is more important than how efficiently a machine or system solves it. Or in a related sense, how efficiently people solve a problem is more important than how the organization or bureaucracy solves it. Of course there are many qualifications needed: If your machine, system, organization, bureaucracy, etc. needs to be efficient too.

Is Scheme Faster than C? [cs.indiana.edu/~jsobel/c455-c511.updated.txt]

What I learned most from this experience was the importance of a structured, systematic approach to programming. I have found that is it always better to write a simple, direct program to solve a problem, having become convinced through experience that radical structural transformations can come later; and I can depend on those transformations to preserve the original semantics of my program. I have also learned that I can be free to focus on the NATURE of whatever problem I am trying to solve, rather than on how "efficient" my solution is. Real efficiency comes from elegant solutions, not optimized programs. Optimization is always just a few correctness-preserving transformations away.

2006-02-06t16:21:35Z | RE: Mind. Pscychology. Words.
Pre-language memories

This may be true but I also believe that very young children probably have a general memory of emotional states, of emotional patterns, of a sense of security, etc. Possibly certain smells or images could evoke a subconscious emotional flashback from pre-language days. In any case, I would think that we all agree to be nice to infants and toddlers.

Why do we forget our childhood? [cognitivedaily.com/?p=70]

Gabrielle Simcock and Harlene Hayne of the University of Otago noticed that the period of amnesia tends to end at about the time of the onset of language, so they devised an experiment to test whether language ability might be at the root of the problem ("Breaking the Barrier? Children Fail to Translate Their Preverbal Memories Into Language," Psychological Science, 2002).

 Simcock and Hayne argue that these memories simply are not ever encoded in language, and for that reason, never become part of an adult’s autobiographical memory.

2006-02-06t16:35:47Z | RE: Astronomy. Science.
Quantifying dark matter

This is a "big" story in the sense that we're getting closer to actually quantifying dark matter. Dark matter supposedly makes up most of the matter in this universe, but it does not emit or reflect electromagnetic radiation so we only know it's there by its gravitational effects. I assume that the astrophysicists have already looked into problems with the the laws of gravity itself.

Dark matter comes out of the cold [news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4679220.stm]

"It's the first clue of what this stuff might be," said Professor Gerry Gilmore. "For the first time ever, we're actually dealing with its physics," he told the BBC News website.

"It looks like you cannot ever pack it smaller than about 300 parsecs - 1,000 light-years; this stuff will not let you. That tells you a speed actually - about 9km/s - at which the dark matter particles are moving because they are moving too fast to be compressed into a smaller scale.

The speed is a big surprise. Current theory had predicted dark matter particles would be extremely cold, moving at a few millimetres per second; but these observations prove the particles must actually be quite warm (in cosmic terms) at 10,000 degrees. The most likely candidate for dark matter material is the so-called weakly interacting massive particle, or Wimp.

2006-02-06t18:13:54Z | RE: Conservation.
Bottled water wasteful

This is absolutely astounding! If a tiny portion of what consumers spent on bottled water was spent on building water infrastructure, everybody on the planet could have clean water!!!! Someone should make a company selling bottled water but where a portion of the proceeds go towards building water infrastructure in needy areas.

I'll bet a similar thing could be said for food and possibly insurance.

BTW: When I moved to my into my house, I got some water testing kits and I tested the house tap water, work tap water, and several different kinds of bottled water. My tests showed that the water quality was the same. The only minor thing was that Chicago drinking water tends to be a hair harder.

The only time I buy bottled water is when I travel (say to the Philippines) or when there are no drinking fountains around.

Bottled Water: Nectar of the Frauds? [news.yahoo.com/s/oneworld/20060204/wl_oneworld/45361268291139089785;_ylt=Ah3XakhdnZYbsoIBRp012zgDW7oF;_ylu=X3oDMTBiMW04NW9mBHNlYwMlJVRPUCUl]

Members of the United Nations have agreed to halve the proportion of people who lack reliable and lasting access to safe drinking water by the year 2015. To meet this goal, they would have to double the $15 billion spent every year on water supply and sanitation. ''While this amount may seem large, it pales in comparison to the estimated $100 billion spent each year on bottled water,'' said EPI [Earth Policy Institute] researcher Emily Arnold.

Worldwide, bottled water consumption surged to 154 billion liters (41 billion gallons) in 2004, up 57 percent from 98 billion liters in 1999, EPI said in a written analysis citing industry data. By one view, the consequences for the planet and for consumers' purses are horrifying. ''Even in areas where tap water is safe to drink, demand for bottled water is increasing--producing unnecessary garbage and consuming vast quantities of energy,'' said Arnold. ''Although in the industrial world bottled water is often no healthier than tap water, it can cost up to 10,000 times more.'' At up to $2.50 per liter ($10 per gallon), bottled water costs more than gasoline in the United States.

Tap water comes to us through an energy-efficient infrastructure whereas bottled water must be transported long distances--and nearly one-fourth of it across national borders--by boat, train, airplane, and truck. This ''involves burning massive quantities of fossil fuels,'' Arnold said.

By way of example, in 2004 alone, a Helsinki company shipped 1.4 million bottles of Finnish tap water 4,300 kilometers (2,700 miles) to Saudi Arabia. And although 94 percent of the bottled water sold in the United States is produced domestically, some Americans import water shipped some 9,000 kilometers from Fiji and other faraway places to satisfy demand for what Arnold termed ''chic and exotic bottled water.''

More fossil fuels are used in packaging the water. Most water bottles are made with polyethylene terephthalate, a plastic derived from crude oil. ''Making bottles to meet Americans' demand for bottled water requires more than 1.5 million barrels of oil annually, enough to fuel some 100,000 U.S. cars for a year,'' Arnold said.

Worldwide, some 2.7 million tons of plastic are used to bottle water each year.

Once it has been emptied, the bottle must be dumped. According to the Container Recycling Institute, 86 percent of plastic water bottles used in the United States become garbage or litter. Incinerating used bottles produces toxic byproducts such as chlorine gas and ash containing heavy metals tied to a host of human and animal health problems. Buried water bottles can take up to 1,000 years to biodegrade.

Of the bottles deposited for recycling in 2004, the United States exported roughly 40 percent to destinations as far away as China--meaning that even more fossil fuels were burned in the process.

2006-02-06t18:14:21Z | RE: Engineering. Hardware. Legal. Safety. U.S.A. (America).
SawStop suits

The videos demonstrating the power saw that stops as soon as a hot dog (simulating human flesh) touches the blade have been quite popular, amazing, and full of common sense. However, it seems that it will take lawsuits in order to get the industry to change their ways. Corporate America is so slow sometimes. No wonder companies like Ford are in trouble.

See the videos at SawStop.com.
[PHOTO: SawStop about to meet a hot dog]

Plus the link has a bit of how the invention came about.

He Took On the Whole Power-Tool Industry [inc.com/magazine/20050701/disruptor-gass.html]

In February 2001, Stephen Gass strode to the podium in a conference room at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas and began the video presentation for SawStop, his new invention. The 75 attendees watched the screen closely as a woodworker fed a sheet of plywood into a power-saw blade spinning at 4,000 rpm. Then a hot dog was placed in the path of the blade. Miraculously, the instant the blade made contact with the wiener, the saw shut down and the blade retracted. The dog escaped with only a small nick -- substitute a finger and it's the difference between a cut and an amputation.

Then Dan Lanier, national coordinating counsel for Black & Decker, stepped to the podium. His topic: "Evidentiary Issues Relating to SawStop Technology for Power Saws." Lanier spent the next 30 minutes discussing a hypothetical lawsuit -- in which a plaintiff suing a power-saw manufacturer contended the saw was defective because it did not incorporate SawStop's technology -- and suggesting ways defense counsel might respond. Lanier recalls it as a rather dry exploration of legal issues. Gass heard something different. To his ears, Lanier's message was this: If we all stick together and don't license this product, the industry can argue that everybody rejected it so it obviously wasn't viable, thereby limiting any legal liability the industry might face as a result of the new technology. (Lanier denies this was his point.)

Stopping the blade, he figured, would require a two-part process. First, he needed a brake that would work quickly enough when it came into contact with a woodworker's hand. Next, he had to design a triggering system that could differentiate between finger and wood. Given the speed of the blade, it would have to stop in about 1/100 of a second -- or at about an eighth of an inch of rotation after making contact. Any further, and the cut would be so deep that the device would be useless. To stop the blade this quickly would require about 1,000 pounds of force to decelerate the blade in 10 milliseconds. That calculation took Gass about 30 minutes. The trigger problem was a little more complicated, but Gass came up with the idea of running a small electrical charge through the blade. The system would sense when the blade hit flesh because the body would absorb some of the charge. The resulting drop in voltage would be enough to trigger the brake and stop the blade almost instantly. Gass spent two weeks designing the technology and, using a $200 secondhand table saw, an additional week building a prototype. Then he began to experiment. With the blade whirring, he touched his hand to its smooth side. It stopped immediately. The same thing happened when he ran a hot dog into the blade's teeth. Gass repeated the experiment dozens of times -- and each time the blade stopped immediately.

So for now, Gass is banking on people like Sharon and Don Biers, owners of Collins Custom Cabinets. After one of the employees at their Lowell, Ark., shop lost a finger in a power-saw accident in February, the Biers bought a $2,500 SawStop cabinet saw and have since ordered two more. It didn't take long for the purchase to pay off. Within two weeks, another employee, John Stroud, inadvertently shifted his hand into the path of the blade and the saw shut down when it hit his fingernail. "We made the calculation that it's worth it for the safety of our guys," says Sharon Biers. "The accidents are usually caused by human error, but this saw grants you forgiveness." And not just for professionals. In May, Gass received an e-mail from a high school shop teacher in Princeton, Wis. "I have a sophomore who still has two thumbs thanks to your saw," the man wrote. The company knows of at least five other amputations that have been averted.

Meanwhile, the industry's product-liability fears appear to be coming to life. In 2003, a construction worker walked into the Wellesley, Mass., office of attorney Richard J. Sullivan. He was looking for someone to represent him in a case against Chicago-based S-B Power Tool. The worker had lost his thumb and four fingers while using a table saw. Doctors were able to reattach them, but even after six surgeries and $150,000 in medical bills, he still had no real functionality in the hand. Living on workers' comp, he fell behind financially and was forced to sell his home. Sullivan turned the case down twice because he didn't see a way to hold the manufacturer accountable. Then a colleague told him about SawStop. "His injury occurred on a saw manufactured in April 2003 and sold in May 2003," Sullivan says. "The industry has known about this technology since 2001. That gave the manufacturer plenty of time to react." The lawsuit, filed in Massachusetts state court in the summer of 2004, alleges that the manufacturer was negligent for not implementing the technology and seeks compensation for lost wages, future lost wages, and pain and suffering. (Attorneys for S-B Power Tool responded in January, denying all claims.) "If Gass can figure this out by tinkering around in his backyard, what has this industry been doing for the past 20 years?" asks Sullivan, who has since taken on five similar cases. "They're like the auto industry, which had to be dragged kicking and screaming to install air bags."

2006-02-08t16:33:30Z | RE: Education. Faith. Politics. Science. World.
Monkey off NASA's back

Another George Bush anti-science foobar.

 BREAKING NEWS: George Deutsch Did Not Graduate From Texas A & M University [scientificactivist.blogspot.com/2006/02/breaking-news-george-deutsch-did-not.html]

Through my own investigations I have just discovered that George Deutsch, the Bush political appointee at the heart of administration efforts to censor NASA scientists (most notably to prevent James Hansen from speaking out about global warming), did not actually graduate from Texas A&M University. This should come as a surprise, since the media has implied otherwise, with even The New York Times describing the 24-year-old NASA public affairs officer, as “a 2003 journalism graduate of Texas A&M.” Although Deutsch did attend Texas A&M University, where he majored in journalism and was scheduled to graduate in 2003, he left in 2004 without a degree, a revelation that I was tipped off to by one of his former coworkers at A&M's student newspaper The Battalion. I later confirmed this discovery through the records department of the Texas A&M University Association of Former Students.

Lucky for us Deutsch resigned the next day!

A Young Bush Appointee Resigns His Post at NASA [nytimes.com/2006/02/08/politics/08nasa.html]

George C. Deutsch, the young presidential appointee at NASA who told public affairs workers to limit reporters' access to a top climate scientist and told a Web designer to add the word "theory" at every mention of the Big Bang, resigned yesterday, agency officials said. Mr. Deutsch's resignation came on the same day that officials at Texas A&M University confirmed that he did not graduate from there, as his résumé on file at the agency asserted.

(Of course they're raving at metafilter.com/mefi/48977)

It is amazing that we have to fight for scientific freedom right here in America. The fundamentalist trend is to be like Iran.

Arab education in crisis [english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/7591BA01-A2DB-4269-93A2-CB1D73295B22.htm]

The Arab Human Development Report 2003 said readership of books was limited, education dictated submission rather than critical thought, and the Arabic language was in a state of crisis.

In general, the usual print run for novels ranges from a meagre 1000 to 3000 copies. The number of books published in the Arab world did not exceed 1.1% of world production though Arabs constitute 5% of the world population.

Arab universities were overcrowded with old laboratories and poor libraries. Enrolment figures were a political gesture to appease society more than a product of educational needs.

The Arabic language was in crisis, as it confronted the challenges of globalisation. No more than 10,000 books were translated into Arabic over the entire millennium, equivalent to the number translated every year into Spanish.

2006-02-09t15:38:32Z | RE: Faith. Video. Violence. World.
Fundamentalists are whacked

The scary part is when people don't know they're fundamentalists.

Here's are some whacked Muslims: Iran : A 17 year old girl is sentenced to death by hanging [faithfreedom.org/Announcement/601081013.htm]

Nazanin, 17, was sentenced to death by hanging for defending herself against three rapists.

No where in the world and under no law self defense is considered to be a crime, but in the tyrannical mullacracy of Iran if a woman does not resist rape she will be stoned as adulterer and if she does she will be hanged. Nazanin, this young innocent girl, was assaulted by three criminal men in the West of Tehran while strolling with her niece in a park last March (2005). To defend herself she pulled out a knife and stabbed one of her assailants. The knife penetrated the ribs of her attacker who later died in the hospital. The attacks on women in Iran is so frequent that many are forced to carry a concealed weapon for self defense. Unfortunately the Islamic law does not even allow women that right.

Here's a whacked Christian: Trading Spouses Margaret freaking out [video.google.com/videoplay?docid=5464505634137914176]. 05:31 video. Darkside!

2006-02-09t16:12:49Z | RE: Audio. Cyber Life. Free Gratis. Free Libre.
Songbird set free

Let's see if the just released open source Songbird v 0.1.0 can sing.

songbirdnest.com

2006-02-09t16:13:47Z | RE: Cyber Tech. Engineering. Video.
Multi-Touch Interactive

This video demos an intuitive video interface. It makes the mouse seem primitive. I think Apple is working on a similar technology for their tablet PCs. Excellent idea. The apps they've shown are cool but people will come up with even more possibilities.

Crazy Multi-Input Touch Screen [youtube.com/watch?v=zp-y3ZNaCqs]. 03:30 video.
[PHOTO: Demo of Multi-Touch Interaction technology]

A related new interaction involves hardware: Sony Revolution [http://www.darlugo.com/?id=388&hp=1]. ~02:00 video.

2006-02-14t23:35:20Z | RE: Family. Images. My Creation. Rambling.
Pop steps down

My father died yesterday.
[PHOTO: Pop with bolo tie]

Here are the essential facts:

  • His name was José Eco Maria Hernandez. He was also known as Joe; José E. Hernandez; Dan (pronounced Dahn); Manoy Dandy (pronounced Dahndy). To his children, he was known a Pop.
  • He was born 1938-04-17 in the town of Bacon, in the province of Sorsogon, in the region of Bicol, at the south end of the island of Luzon, the largest island of the Philippines (at that time a U.S. Commonwealth), an island country in the Malay Archipelago, in Southeast Asia. His parents were Felipe Hernandez and Remedios Eco Hernandez.
  • He lived in the Philippines until 1971. He has lived in Chicago, Illinois since at least 1973. He was naturalized as a citizen of the United States in 1981.
  • He was married to Dona Lariosa Hernandez on 1965-05-29 at Bacacay, Albay, Bicol, Philippines.
  • His interests included devout Catholicism, boxing, athletics, gardening, fishing, and collecting wine and wine glasses.
  • His career included a degree in Agriculture and decades of service with QuickSet International, Inc..
  • He died 2006-02-13 Monday 04:45 CST (10:45Z) at the age of 67 of a natural death at the Swedish Covenant Hospital, in the city of Chicago, in the state of Illinois, in the country of the United States of America. My father has had severe Parkinson's (a neurodegenerative disease) for the past six+ years. For the past several days he was had weight loss compounded with a cold. On Sunday morning his breathing deteriorated and he had a cardiac arrest. He was resuscitated and put on a mechanical ventilator. He was in a non-responsive coma with very low blood pressure until Monday morning, when his vital signs dropped fairly suddenly and he passed away in the presence of family members.
  • He is survived by:
    • His spouse, Dona Hernandez.
    • Seven of his eight children (in order of birth): Hilario Hernandez, Helen Hernandez, George Hernandez, Neil Hernandez, John Hernandez, Herbert Hernandez, and Joseph Hernandez. His fifth child, Alan Hernandez, passed away 2003-09-24 while serving under the U.S. Marines.
    • Seven grandchildren (in order by of the parents' births): Andrea Hackman, Connie Hernandez, York Hernandez, Amy Hernandez, Trevin Hernandez, Ari Rose Hernandez, Michael Hernandez. Two more grandchildren are in the oven.
    • Five of his six siblings: Teresa, Balon, Carmen, Felipe Jr., and Ofelia. His youngest sibling, Stban, died as a youth.
    • A vast array of in-laws, cousins, nephews, and other relatives all over the world.
  • The visitation wakes are 02-17 Friday and 02-19 Sunday from 4 to 9 pm at Drake & Son Funeral Home, 5303 North Western Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A., (847) 698-3368. There is no wake on Saturday because of my youngest brother's wedding rehearsal.
  • The funeral service is 02-20 Monday at 10 am at Saint Gregory the Great Church, 1634 West Gregory Street, Chicago, Illinoi, U.S.A., (773) 561-3546.
  • The burial service is 02-20 Monday at Rosehill Cemetery & Mausoleum, 5800 North Ravenswood Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A., (773) 561-5940.

It was a casual Sunday afternoon and I was in the middle of playing an online game of WarCraft when I got a call on my cell phone. I let it go to voicemail while I finished my game (which, btw, I won). My brother had called and all I could make out was that my dad was at Swedish Covenant Hospital. I had a sense that day was completely changed. I very calmly informed my wife. I knew my dad's condition and I knew that the probability was great that my father would not make it. I tried calling my brother back and a few other numbers but they were all busy.  I then Googled up the hospital to get the phone number and address. I called the hospital and I was transferred and put on hold several times —such necessary delays were almost welcome. I remained calm and patient, but eventually I was able to verify that my dad was indeed at emergency room of that hospital. Yes, indeed, my day was completely changed.

My dad was already in a coma when I got there. Over the minutes and hours, various relatives trickled in. We had filled out a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) document in 2002 for my father and no one in our family wanted to go down the silly Schiavo route. We had two basic options: pull him off the equipment sooner, or check his brain status 24 hours after the cardiac arrest and decide then. We also wanted to delay on the hope that as many of the children could be there for his actual passing. After a while, all the children were there except for John who was serving in the U.S. Army in Afghanistan. I was pushing for pulling him off the equipment and letting him go naturally but the consensus was to wait for 24 hours. His blood pressure got so low that the machine had a hard time reading it at all. They gave him medication to raise the blood pressure and at 19:00 they did hypothermia treatment (lowered the metabolism by lowering the core body temperature). In the end his body just insisted that it was time to go. In hindsight, even though I think my father was essentially gone by the time he got to the hospital, I think that keeping him artificially alive bought the family some time to adjust.

My father was taken away from us years ago by the Parkinsons' and yesterday his physical presence was taken away too. However his vitality can never be taken away so long as we keep him in memory. It has been very healthy for my family to reminisce about my father. It is as if we are poking around in the ashes of a fire looking for remnants of a man that was, a man that we dearly miss.

Here are a few collected memory bites:

  • He loved to take out his wine glasses, fill them with various degrees of water, and hear them sing by running a wet finger around the rims.
  • He was the one that dealt out the discipline. The main device for extreme situations was the belt. Simply having his hand near his buckle was a sufficient threat.
  • He loved to go skin diving.
    • I remember that whenever we went with him to Shedd Aquarium, he would point out which of the fishes were good to eat.
    • He loved describing underwater sea caves, how he constructed his own harpoon guns, and how he could swim to his friends houses.
    • One of the stories he would tell involve skin diving for lobsters. He had two relatives (cousins I think), one of which was not very bright. One day they were catching lots of lobsters and the dumber cousin bet the other that he'd catch a lobster on the next dive. The smarter cousin thought that this was a great bet because all he had to do was dive and come back with nothing. However when he went down, he saw the biggest lobster he had ever seen and he had to catch it. So when he went back up, not only did he lose the bet, but the lobster also bit him on the lip!
  • He was an excellent swimmer and he could swim without hardly making a ripple.
  • He had his own tune that he would whistle whenever it was time to go. That whistle was distinctive and could be heard from across the entire store.
  • Pop and mom managed a house with seven boys and one girl.
  • Pop and mom emigrated from the Philippines and immigrated to America for the security and economy of the family. This involved a great cultural and political challenge. There was even a great logistical challenge that involved leaving two of their children behind. When my brother Neil and I finally got to America in 1973, I did not even recognize my own parents.
  • He was constantly exercising and running. Even chewing was an opportunity to strengthen his jaws.
  • He loved to eat healthy and loved vegetables. Wheat germ was a favorite.
  • He was a great instinctive cook. He would cook without a cook book and his recipes varied according to what was available on the market.
  • He would fix things around the house and was a good handyman. I particularly remember fixing the front and back porches with him.
  • He was always very young looking. He and my mom would go out on house calls and some people would mistake him for one of her sons.
  • He liked bolo ties.
  • He loved boxing.
    • He had his own moves: The most famous of which was a left high jab followed by a low right hook while the body swung low and left.
    • He had his kids box with the Chicago Park District.
    • Arguments that could not be settled civilly with words were settled by boxing matches. We would have to put the boxing gloves on, or, if they did not fit, then we had to wrap our fists in socks. Usually both parties preferred to settle with words before arguments escalated.
    • If you got in between him and the TV  while he was watching a boxing match, he would get very mad.
    • Even while in full swing Parkinson's, he enjoyed boxing with his brother when we visited the Philippines in 2004.
  • He and my grandfather were excellent gardeners. Sometimes we had melons taller than the kids.
  • His driving was risky. It seemed that the turns were fast and the stops sudden.
  • He had very nice and legible handwriting. My own is unreadable.

Over the years, there is one story, a true story, that has been repeated at many gatherings. I will tell that story here in honor of my father:

The Fountain Fight

It was 1986, the summer after I graduated from high school. My father, my younger brothers Alan and John, and I were biking to the Taste of Chicago. We were on Foster Avenue just before Lake Shore Drive. There was a water fountain there so we got off our bikes for a water break.

Then a large shirtless man came along and he started bumping into our bikes one after the other. My dad approached him and said that it was OK and that we didn't want any trouble. The man, however, did want trouble and he started trying to egg my dad some but my dad kept playing the nice guy.

Then the man punched me in the face. I couldn't believe it! Did he actually punch me in the face?, I thought. I had been in boxing before and this punch wasn't like a good boxing punch but it was a punch. Then I took off my glasses and the man was now excited because he wanted things to happen.

At this point two of his friends jumped in. They were both shirtless and smelled of sweat and beer, and one was taller than the other two. My two brothers wisely fled —leaving my dad and I to face off against three large men. I only fought one of the three.

For some reason I decided to try something I saw in some kung fu move. I squatted down and spun while my leg swung out and swept out both legs from beneath him. My spin immediately brought me into a standing position looking down at him. I was surprised it had worked! (I still am.) Actually, I was so surprised that I didn't follow up by kicking him but instead allowed him to get up. He took off his belt, which was made out of two or three widths of bicycle roller chain, and used it like a metal whip and actually caught  me on the arm. At some point he got on top of me and just sat there. He then decided he would steal my bike. I wanted my bike back so I started taunting him, calling him a coward, etc. It got him so mad that he threw my bike at me before he took off. It knocked me over but I got my bike back which is what I wanted.

In the mean time my dad had faced off against the particularly large one. He got into a boxing stance and the other guy got into a boxing stance. My dad said that he had smiled had inwardly because he liked to box. They exchanged some blows but my dad knew how to take punches on the arms and shoulders while he managed to slip his punches past the guy's guard and my dad kept getting him in the floating ribs. Finally my dad said that he had gotten the guy spun around and my dad gave the guy a great upper cut to his kidneys and the guy dropped and gave up. After seeing this the second guy was about to take off with one of our bikes but my dad caught up with him and stuck a stick in the spokes and stopped the guy. My dad then gave him a little lecture not to do stuff like this and sent him off.

Then my dad ran into the third guy —the guy I had fought. The guy swung the chain belt at my dad. In the darkness, my dad thought it was a regular belt and blocked it with his arm. After getting over the initial surprise, my dad let him take another swing while my dad went in and caught the blow on his back. This really hurt and marked my dad's back but he was able to move in and deliver enough blows so that that the third guy gave up too.

After this, my dad and I gathered up our brothers and we went to the hospital to look after our scrapes. When my dad found out that the guy had pulled the belt on me, he said that he would not have on as easy on those guys.

After the fight, I kept thinking about it all the time for a few days. It could have been much worse: They could have had blades or pipes; They might have been better fighters or worked as a team. But luckily, except for a few scars, the fountain fight turned out all right. And my dad loved telling that story. 

[PHOTO: Pop stepping down]

(More photos at http://www.flickr.com/photos/georgelhernandez/sets/72057594064538681/)

So long Pop! You fought the good fight. Rest easy. We miss you very much already.

2006-02-15t15:35:51Z | RE: Intelligent Design. Science.
Sperm tails

I know that we have to wage war against the silly Creationists/Intelligent Design folks, but it sure is annoying to preface new scientific work in a context of how it shows that ID is screwed up. However science may turn up some good stuff as it defends itself against ID since science almost always turns up good stuff even if it gets sidetracked.

Unlocking cell secrets bolsters evolutionists [chicagotribune.com/technology/chi-0602130210feb13,1,1538105.story]

To advocates of intelligent design, the human sperm's tiny tail bears potent evidence that Charles Darwin was wrong--it is, they say, a molecular machine so complex that only God could have produced it. But biologists now are starting to piece together how such intricate bits of biochemistry evolved. Although the basic research was not meant as a response to intelligent design, it is unraveling the very riddles that proponents said could not be solved.

Everyone seems to agree that the flagellum used by sperm and many bacteria to swim around is an almost unbelievably complex piece of work. At the core of the bacterial tail is a miniscule rotary motor consisting of about 30 different protein types that interlock and move in concert. The tail acts as a propeller, spinning at up to 60,000 revolutions per minute. In arguing for ID, Behe often quotes flagellum expert David DeRosier, who wrote in 1998 that "the flagellum resembles a machine designed by a human." Behe says the flagellum and other intricate systems are "irreducibly complex"--like a mousetrap, they wouldn't work if you took away even one part. Behe argues it's impossible that such a structure could have come about through natural selection, which is thought to build complex structures one step at a time. So a designer must have done it all at once, he says.

In the last several years Miller and other evolutionary researchers noticed that the flagellum resembled a needle-like structure that bacteria such as salmonella use to inject toxins into living cells. The needle's base has many elements in common with the flagellum, but it's missing most of the proteins that make a flagellum work. The system seems to negate the claim that taking away any of the flagellum's parts would render it useless. It also suggests how the marvelously complex flagellum could have evolved from simpler forms. "The parts of this supposedly irreducibly complex system actually have functions of their own," Miller said.

Perhaps the strongest rebuke to ID in the Dover case concerned the claim by Behe and others that it would be impossible for evolution to produce the immune system. Miller testified that since Behe wrote his 1996 book, evolutionary biologists have built a rich account of the immune system--a point Judge Jones highlighted in his ruling. "[Behe] was presented with fifty-eight peer-reviewed publications, nine books, and several immunology textbook chapters about the evolution of the immune system," Jones wrote, "however, he simply insisted ... that it was not `good enough.'"

2006-02-15t16:52:54Z | RE: Chicago. Food. My Creation.
Two restaurants

Here are two Chicago restaurants I went to recently:

N9NE Steak House [n9ne.com]

  • 440 West Randolph Street, Chicago, Illinois, 60606, U.S.A., phone (312)575-9900.
  • A steak and seafood place. Medium sized portions. Pricey (I spent $168 there) but nice atmosphere.
  • Q08of10.
  • Last week (2006-02-09) we took my good friend Mike out for a special dinner in honor of his finally getting married. I generally abhor getting dressed and spending a lot of money on food but I think it's fine for special occasions. I could only eat like that regularly if I also made great contributions in reducing world suffering and hunger.

Adobo Express

  • 5343 North Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, 60625, U.S.A., phone (773)293-2362, 07:30/19:30.
  • A combination Filipino restaurant and grocer. Almost looks like a chain. You can get a breakfast of fried eggs, garlic fried rice, a choice of Filipino meats like sausage or fried Bangu, plus coffee or hot cocoa for under $6.
  • Q07of10.

2006-02-15t16:53:19Z | RE: Cyber Life. Cyber Tech.
Portals 2.0

Yahoo and Google have been providing rich personalize portals all along with ever increasing AJAX capability. However, it's worthwhile to see what people are doing in an open market. It will be interesting to see if they can make a lot of the relatively manual surfing and feeding that we do easier.

Online Ajax "desktops" try to change the rules of the game [blogs.zdnet.com/Hinchcliffe/index.php?p=8&tag=nl.e550]

As the Web matures into a richly intertwined ecosystem of shared content and open services, what some call The Web As Platform, some innovative companies are beginning to offer potentially disruptive products that leverage the Web's growing "platformness".  Increasing in popularity in particular are what some people call Ajax desktops, or personalized start pages.  Well exemplified by Microsoft's Live.com, but also by the likes of the popular Protopage and Netvibes, the interest in these online desktops is being driven by a confluence of factors.

This is making the simplicity and elegance of online desktops ever more attractive.  A quick check of Alexa traffic for Protopage, Netvibes, and the compelling new entry Pageflakes, shows that marketshare amongst the small players is clearly growing but still up for grabs.  Live.com by contrast is growing by leaps and bounds and its reach already far exceeds any of the small Ajax desktops.  But the growth of all is clear and the model for going to a single place that has all of our information ready to consume is a powerful draw.  And now, increasingly, Ajax desktops are offering some integration with real Web 2.0 online applications like Writely and Zoho Writer, two online word processors that have partnered with Netvibes and Pageflakes, respectively.  And Live.com is expected to have integration with the forthcoming Office Live, though I don't specifically have confirmation of that yet.

Now, for those of you that haven't used Ajax desktops yet, they are a far cry from the HTML portals of yesterday.  Yes, all of the new Ajax desktops do the traditional portal of work of gathering the content sources that interest you, from news and weather to your favorite blogs and del.icio.us bookmarks.  But a number of things make the new online desktops a serious native desktop alternative that will increasingly compete with today's PC desktop, both on the Web and in the enterprise.

 Value proposition for online Ajax desktops

  • One Stop - Centralized online consumption of content and services
  • Accessible Anywhere - Roaming accessibility from anywhere with Web connectivity
  • All Your Data - Easy integration of most existing information sources including e-mail, calendars, bookmarks, news, blogs, pictures, etc.
  • Engaging, Fun, Fast - Rich, interactive experiences that match native software
  • A Platform that Grows And Evolves - Open platform for in-browser third-party software add-ons (Live.com's Gadgets and Pageflakes' Community Flakes)
  • Real Software Not Just Data - Increasing integration with Web 2.0 software applications like word processors, messaging, and wikis, plus rich Javascript widgets
  • Intelligent Consumption -  Ad-hoc, decentralized, user guided content filtering and mashup creation

Out of all of this, two trends are particularly interesting.  One is that some of these start pages are truly open platforms, and there seems to be enough engaged users ready to develop compelling add-ons that extend the experience and make them thriving communities.  This represents two key tenets of Web 2.0: that a platform beats an application every time, and that great software makes itself reusable and extendable in unintended ways.  In particular, Microsoft's Live.com Gadgets are offering consistently interesting new software that lives right in the browser, which anyone can create and share. The second is that mainstream users are at least a year away from being ready for this, probably two.

 

Exploring odd subjects including myself. GeorgeHernandez.com
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