Monthly Archives: May 2012

I’ve often thought that the networks should offer more coverage of the cheerleaders during college football games; Call it “cheer-cam” if you will. Make it a kind of picture-in-picture sort of thing. That way, you can follow the game and watch the cuties in short pleated skirts bouncing up and down on the sidelines at the same time.

Believe it or not, cheer leading is not confined to the US & Canada. You will find it at football matches in Europe and – in of all places – a Chinese airport. It keeps travelers enthralled during flight delays. For all the details, have a look at this story on CNN.com.

And China is not alone. While it is a good bit different from the American style, nonetheless there is cheer-leading at matches in Thailand. This story from CNN explains it all. Obviously, it’s something for the Thai “Lady-Boys” to aspire to.

Enjoy the stories and have a good day!

 

This is what the sparse post that went out yesterday afternoon was intended to be. I wanted to gather a bit of information for the next day’s post before I went to see a client. I was short on time and apparently hit “Publish” rather than “Save as Draft”. My apologies.

I am always on the lookout for free software & utilities that actually work and have run across three more for your consideration.

  1. Advanced Uninstaller Pro – Some weeks ago, I posted about software uninstallers that worked better than the one built into the Windows Control Panel and offered two possibilities: (a) Revo Uninstaller (b) Your Uninstaller. There were one or two others that were more “trial-ware” than anything else & Advanced Uninstaller Pro was one of them. Innovative Solutions have decided to make version 10.6 absolutely free. Are all uninstallers the same? Well, some uninstallers are better at finding things than others. I had considered Your Uninstaller to be tops at finding installed applications but I accidentally installed a bit of “crap-ware” the other day & went to use Your Uninstaller to get rid of it. That application could not find it but Revo Uninstaller did. The moral? It always helps to have two uninstallers available even if you only install software on rare occasions because when you really want to rid our PC of something, you need to find it & get rid of it completely!
  2. WinDirStat –  Ever wonder which files are consuming the most space on your Hard Drive? Then this may be the answer for you. WinDirStat analyses your HDD and displays the results in a proportional sized, colour coded matrix. You can learn what type of file it is, where it is and how big it is. Perfect for finding that monster logfile that’s squatting in a forgotten folder.
  3. FileType ID – This scenario has probably happened to a lot of us. Some one sends you an email w/ a file attached. Maybe it’s a file type that you recognise. Maybe it’s not. Since you don’t know the true nature of this file & the sender has always sent you good stuff before, you double-click on the file and – surprise, surprise – you wind up introducing your system to viruses, malware and other “cooties”. So how do you know what’s good and what’s not. Antivirus file scanning programmes have been known to miss a lot of things. (They have also been known to quarantine and/or delete perfectly safe files.) FileType Id will give you detailed information on any file before you open it by analysing the file’s binary signature. You can save the results of a file’s analysis as an HTML document And share it with friends, co-workers, etc. to get a second opinion. With around 4700 file-type definitions at the moment, this application is a “must have”.

All three of these freebies were reviewed at The Windows Club so you know that the applications have passed through an initial trial and review.

Finally, always keep an eye on what is going on with the installation process. In other words, read each installer panel carefully.  A lot of good software uses installers that want to add a toolbar for a search engine, etc. If you’re not careful, you might wind up with something that you really didn’t want.

It’s funny how the internet works. Yesterday, I posted about Brenda Pandos’ upcoming sequel to Everblue. Because of that post, I picked up a new follower on Twitter; Blackwing Books. Blackwing published Nightworld by Maureen Noel in October of last year. I took a look at it on Amazon and the blurb makes it sound interesting enough that I’m going to give it a go as a break from research for my never-to-be-published novel. A review will follow.

Funny indeed.

This one falls into the general dumbness category. You have probably heard the uproar over the auction of a bit of Ronald Reagan’s blood. Frankly, I’m not sure why anyone would want this other than to possibly clone Ronald Reagan. The story has repeatedly made the news for a number of days now, leading to this spot of brilliance.

Last night on the CBS Evening News, there was yet another story about the auction. To illustrate the story, they – being CBS News – put up a light-box with the headline (in big letters, of course) “Blood Vile”. Reagan’s blood may be vile but it was kept in a glass vial!!

Walter Cronkite must be spinning in his grave right about now and that’s the way it is.

Let us now praise famous men. Today it’s my brother’s turn as he turns 54 around Noon, EST. I’ve known Jim Tench Parsons all his life and I cannot speak greater praise of anyone than I do now for him. Jim Parsons is an avid ham radio operator – W4JTP – a walking encylopaedia when it comes to sports and/or beer, an amazing font of trivia, an amazing freelance writer, and a dyed-in-the wool fan of the Virginia Tech Hokies . He’s got three degrees from that fine institution and if you cut him, he will bleed burnt orange and Chicago maroon. Like his brother before him, he believes that The National Lampoon was the pinnacle of American literature and that the world ended – as we know it – when the Firesign  Theatre broke up.

But most of all, I want to tell of the great help and support he was during our late mother’s last months. No doubt he groaned inwardly whenever I asked “Do you have time for a chat?”, but he more or less cheerfully listened to my account of conditions at our mother’s house in Hopewell, gave advice, did research and was always ready to juggle his schedule so that we both had a respite from our familial duties. In short, I could not ask for better support from anyone.

I just wish that I was half the writer that he is.

Jim took more than his share of grief as a kid from his older brother and has yet to put arsenic in the bottle of single-malt that he bestows on me every Christmas. One or two of those bottles do look a bit dodgy, though. Nonetheless, he persevered though it all and I am – mostly – sorry for these, my misdoings.

I’m both glad and proud to be his brother and I wish him a very happy birthday and the prospect of many more to follow. His life partner, Bob the Cat, will no doubt agree and gift Jim a hair-ball or two in commemoration of this day.

Happy Birthday, JT!

Apple is at it again . . . or rather, not at it again. In the wake of the vulnerabilities uncovered via the Flashback Trojan, Eugene Kaspersky – of Kaspersky Anti-virus fame – had asked Apple to develop a security solution (a.k.a. an App) for iOS, Apples mobile operating system. If you didn’t already know, you have to develop and build an app & then ask Apple “pretty please” if you can put it in the App Store. Apple declined the offer. In essence, Apple puts its fingers in its ears and says “La la la la la – I can’t hear you” whenever the issue of security comes up.

While it is admittedly more complicated/difficult to infect a MAC, the fact that it has been done shows that it can be done and no one likes a challenge more than a hacker. Even as a “good guy” software developer, I relished proving that something could be done when “they” said that couldn’t. Indeed, those were amongst the happiest times in my career. Given that, you can imagine how hackers must feel about this challenge and they are, no doubt, queuing up for a crack at the big MAC.  With the market share for iOS hovering around 30%, hackers are looking at iPhones & iPads as the next juicy target.

If Apple believes that its vetting process for apps before they are made available in the APP Store will save them, the company needs to think again. Websites tailored for access by mobile devices are the perfect virus and malware delivery system. Oftentimes, Apple will deny permission to develop software applications because it conflicts with some product that they are developing on their own. I – as an iPhone owner – certainly hope that this is the case.

The article that spawned this post is available for your reading pleasure at ZDNet’s Between the Lines blog.

For a slightly dated but nonetheless compelling rant about the sins of the Apple, have a look at ZDNet’s A Developer’s View blog.

  1. If any of you have noticed, the title of this blog has changed slightly. It was “The Parsons’ Rant”. It is now “The Parsons Rant”. A minor change so how come? Posts on this blog are Tweeted, Facebook-ed, and LinkedIn and in many cases, the site name was appearing as “The Parsons' Rant”. That odd sequence of characters was WordPress’s way of representing an apostrophe ( ‘ ) since a naked character like that can mess up parsing by web applications. (There are plenty more characters that are represented in this way. You just don’t see them on the front end.) Even though Dr. Data knew what it was, it still looked butt-ugly on an e-mail or Tweet so he changed the name slightly to avoid that happening. Otherwise, it’s still the same old blog containing the same old drivel.
  2. The post was week about “That Topic” set a new record in visitors & page-views that continued into the week-end when I don’t usually post. (Dr. Data told you so!)

Some of the visitors to this site are more interested in the book reviews than my TechnoRants© and I have noticed a slight uptick in search terms for Everblue by Brenda Pandos. Brenda has been working on a sequel entitled Evergreen and a recent post on her blog announced that the Kindle & Nook e-book versions should be available on June 29th while physical copies of the book will be available at the end of July.

Those of you who read my review of Everblue will know that it was quite the exciting read and it looks like Brenda Pandos is going to continue on pace with this sequel. I am sure that some/most of my readers can still remember the 1970’s – if not the 60’s – and will consider this class of fiction to be something that only people with acne and raging hormones should read. (Frankly, at age 60, I’d love for my hormones to rage once more!) It should be kept in mind that the Harry Potter series was just as big a hit with adults as it was kids and Brenda seems to have a knack for making her work appeal across multiple generations.

So, kick back, relax and try to remember when your biggest worries were getting your drivers licence and/or finding a date for the prom. Even if that is a bit of a stretch for you, Evergreen should still be an enjoyable read.

This morning was one of those times when I really wish that the times and circumstances had allowed me to stick with biology. I was scanning Sunday’s Washington Post about a 5-year-old transgender boy. “Tyler” decided at the ripe old age of 2 that she was really a boy instead of a girl. Now this was not a simple case of a child showing an interest in some aspects of the other gender nor was it a case of someone railing against the inequities that our culture enforces on both males and females. No, in this instance, it was a case of a child saying the pre-school equivalent of “What part of ‘I’m a boy, dammit’ do you not understand?”

I’m not going to re-tell the whole story here. You can read it, if you are so inclined, in the Washington Post online. What I am interested in is a statement made by Norman Spack, director of  the gender identity medical clinic at Children’s Hospital in Boston, MA. Spack said: “There’s no question that everybody is seeing more of this now.” This is something that I’ve noticed as well. Post college, there was the occasional story of an adult male or female declaring that they were in the wrong body and that they were going to try & fix things. This became more and more frequent and stories about teenagers being in the same fix began to surface. Now, we are hearing more and more about children of tender age saying flat-out that they are really the opposite gender.

I suppose that transgender people have always been with us and historical tales of men’s excessive heroics or women’s over-the-top motherhood/femininity have sometimes been about a person who found themselves in the wrong body and thought that being more manly or womanly would solve the problem. Then too, there were those who joined the homosexual community where they could act out the gender role that they felt was truly theirs. Experiments in gender reassignment surgery began in the 30’s and there was, of course, the tale of Christene Jorgensen switching sides in the early 1950’s which caused many a snigger. Nowadays, it is happening more and more often. Of course, some of this is due to the fact that “we” – meaning parents, etc. – are more open to discussing this and the internet bringing all sorts of information to our doorstep as well. But still, there are more and more instances of little Johnny declaring that his name should be ‘Jane’ and Denise announcing that she’s really ‘Dennis’.

My own theory is that this increase is a result of the increasing amounts of hormones and chemicals that mimic hormones in the environment. First, there were fish who either showed both the male and female traits of their species or even switched gender. This same mixture of male and female was also observed in other animals  and now the effects are being felt in the human environment as well. While median age for the onset of puberty in girls has remained the same – boys have been to experiencing  puberty at a somewhat younger age – there are increased instances of  girls starting to develop around the age of t 10 and others menstruating in the 3rd grade. Of course, there could be some other factor(s) involved but my bet is that the cause or causes will be found in the food we eat and the water we drink.

There’s at least a thesis in there and probably a dissertation as well. Now if I could just get the funding . . .

You might remember that I wrote two posts on the subject that dare not speak its name -Mantyhose – back on May 2nd. Well, here’s some follow-up.

Less than 30 min. after I clicked the “Publish” button on that post, it was viewed by someone in Hungary! That country – the Hungarian language to be precise – is number 5 on my top 10 list of visitors. The  Hungarian version of Google regularly trolls this site looking for posts on the subject of – you guessed it – Mantyhose. Maybe I should ask my brother-in-law if there’s that certain “something” about Hungary.

And it’s not just Hungarians doing the searches. The term “you-know-what” regularly comes up on the list of recent search terms and is usually at or near the top of my list of popular search terms. Is there something I’m missing? The original post and it’s follow-up were intended to be a simple observation on male fashion and that – sooner or later – everything old is new again. I can say that this topic does have a strong and overwhelmingly “straight” following on the internet.

So, here’s a bit of commentary to satisfy all of those surfers out there who will beat a path to this blog:

The two posts about Mantyhose are among the all time top favourites on the FML blogsite. It should be noted here that the blog was originally intended for the fairer sex but has gained what appears to be a strong male following since 2008.

The first paragraph for that post reads “The masculinity of UK males could be under threat . . .” Now, leaving out the UK bit, let’s consider that statement. I suppose that some less secure males could find their “masculinity” under threat because of this but no doubt similar statements were made in the press when females began wearing slacks in the 1930’s. About 30 years before that momentous event , visitors to Elbert Hubbard’s Roycroft  shops in East Aurora, NY were horrified when his wife Alice – wearing a split skirt – climbed on a horse and went for a ride. The times they do change and anyone today who suggests that females are un-feminine because they wear trousers is begging to be laughed at. If the Mantyhose trend continues, critics of the practice will probably suffer the same fate in the coming years.

An interesting tidbit gleaned from the survey cited in the FML post is that 44% of  the females interviewed stated that their guys preferred tights made specifically for women rather than those intended for men. I wonder if any of  the other 56% are put off by the packaging. This would make an interesting marketing study.

Finally, the following statement was made in the comments section for that particular post:

“As [Lisa,] the owner of this blog, the sex of the individual wearing the legwear is not an issue for me. Impartial is a good word to describe my views, as long as the wearer looks stylish and the article fashion related, I personally couldn’t give a fig if they are male or female.”

My next question is:  “As a blogger, what do I do?” I started this blog to discuss computing technology on the consumer and user level as well as any other topic that struck my fancy. Another of the big spikes in readership are due to my posts on Macs. Maybe I should give in, buy a Macintosh and get a great pair of  L’eggs.

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