ESC!Webs Blogitorials

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Cell Phone Saves Chef

Haven't posted in a couple days but I came across this article showing that apparently there IS a good use for cell phones with picture taking capability.

Who'd have thunk it, but this chef's life was saved when he took a snap of a spider that bit him as he unpacked a crate of bananas. He thought he was taking a keepsake photo when, in reality, the picture allowed the doctors to keep him alive!

Full Article Here

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

And He Finishes With 2 Hours to Spare!

Going to the wire once again, the Spring issue of ESC! Magazine was made available for download late Monday night.

Marred by a last minute pull-out Friday, I was left with a right in the middle of the issue. Thanks to a last minute submission - which came about from calling in a few favors - I was able to juggle things a bit and get it out on time.

The unique thing about creating both a PDF and Print edition of the magazine is that, from the time the issue is "complete" -- Monday night in this case -- until it's printed and bound, I have the luxury of still making nit-picky tweaks to it. As it is, I've already made two slight revisions to the PDF since it was released. Nothing that will make the early versions collectible I'm afraid ... sorry early downloaders!

Now that it's being prepped for print, I have to refrain from any more revisions. Yep, the issue is now ... done.

I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed putting it all together.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Final Edits

Just printed out the second proof copy of the April 2005 edition of ESC! Magazine today. Release Candidate 2 for you software geeks...

To get to this point, I singled out and corrected over 190 individual errors throughout the issue in proof #1. Things like errant apostrophes, commmas and spelling errors are the things that get whacked at this stage.

Now with proof #2, I expect to make corrections to line spacing and other visual aspects of the issue and, when that's complete, I'll move on to my Final Proof to just give everything a final skunk eye before releasing it on Monday.

Somewhere in there I'll be tweaking the contributor bios and the editorial but, frankly, I know that if there are problems in either of those it won't be quite as critcal as an error in someone else's short story or poem.

In a bit of disappointing news, I'm sorry to report that, due to timing conflicts, "Vex" will not appear in this issue after all. I hope to be able to welcome Paul and his creation back for the fall issue.

For those of you wondering, the transition to InDesign is going quite well. Overall, I have to say that I'm very pleased with the product and all the newfound capabilities it has afforded me.

Next stop: Release Day! Stay tuned....

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Earning the Key to Cyberspace City

Six simple steps toward becoming a responsible resident of Cyberspace:

1) Don't use Internet Explorer

I'm beating the proverbial dead horse here, but using IE opens your computer up to all manner of spyware, viruses and Trojan horses. To be a responsible Net Citizen you should use a safer browser like Mozilla Firefox or Opera.

If you run across the occasional site that requires IE such as MSNBC (you KNOW what the MS stands for ... right?) or the Windows Update site, by all means use IE, but for every day browsing stick with something safe like Firefox.

2) Don't Open E-mail Attachments

Most viruses and Trojan horses are spread through e-mail attachments. If you're not expecting the attachment or it just seems ... off, don't open it.

You know what? Don't open them anyway.

3) Keep Your Computer Up To Date

If you're running Windows, please keep your computer up to date by running Windows Update at least once every month. Microsoft tends to release their updates on the second Tuesday of every month, so adopting a schedule of updating on the second Friday of the month (for example) might be a good choice.

Optionally you can set Windows to automatically download and install any new updates when they become available. I don't do this because I prefer to know when and how updates are being applied just in case a problem should arise.

4) Run a Good Anti-Virus Program

Keeping your system protected by running a good anti-virus program is critical. One that comes highly recommended is NOD32 by Eset. I personally use Frisk F-Prot. Both are good programs and do away with the unnecessary features that other, more popular, programs have.

Whatever program you use, be sure to schedule your anti-virus program to download updates automatically.

5) Run One or More Anti-Spyware Programs

Download and install both Lavasoft AdAware and Spybot S&D and run them regularly.

Some have also mentioned Microsoft's Anti-Spyware program, but I just can't bring myself to trust the company that's causing all these problems for people in the first place. Installing the Microsoft program shouldn't hurt anything, but I'm not so sure how much it will help either.

6) Run a Hardware Firewall*

Software firewalls are good but they can be easily defeated. By installing a good hardware firewall, you make your computer "invisible" to the outside world and do so with a piece of hardware that is not so easily cracked.

I've had a lot of luck with Linksys routers, but you should be good with D-Link or Netgear as well.

(*UPDATED 4.18.05: Hardware firewalls are for broadband users. If you're on dial-up, simply use the built in Windows firewall. It should afford you most of the protection you need. If anyone can refer me to a good, inexpensive, hardware firewall for dial-up users, please leave a comment below.)

That's it! Six easy steps to being a responsible resident of Cyberspace.

Oh ... wait. There's one more...

7) Use a Mac running OS X.

Yep. Folks currently running a Mac don't have to worry about spyware, viruses, Internet Explorer issues and most e-mail attachments.

Will this change? Perhaps as the Mac becomes more popular it will become a larger target for hackers, but by design a Mac running OS X is infinitely more secure than a standard Windows XP computer. The fact is, with the exception of the hardware firewall (which is just good common sense) and running an occasional software update, none of the other items on this list apply to Macs in 2005.

So there ya go. SEVEN steps to becoming a more responsible resident of Cyberspace.

NOTE: Even if you follow all the steps above and then some, you may still get a virus or other "infection." Please don't take this list as being legal advice or a be-all/end-all list of things you should do to be completely safe on the Internet. As with all advice, remember that YMMV (Your Milage May Vary).

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Crunch Time

It's about one week before the next issue of ESC! Magazine and that final week usually ends up being quite a crunch to get everything done and ready to post online in time.

Usually what happens right about now is lots of proof prints, last minute editing changes, waiting for additional content (yes, I'm still waiting on some) and, of course, the editorial. Couple that with my experiment of switching all layout work over to InDesign CS and it's going to be quite a busy week.

I'll be trying something different this issue by handing the bulk of the Editorial to someone else -- my wife actually -- so I'm eager to get your feedback on that little change. Don't worry, it's not permanent, but with the Blogitorials and a new little venture I'm working on (details soon), I figure you hear enough from me already ... plus, I'm quickly running out of time! If it goes over well, I may be open to ceding the floor to others in future issues.

Okay ... breather is over. Back to work....

Monday, April 04, 2005

Well Into the Morning with Kevin Smith

Unlike all my other posts, this one is not timestamped "9:00 am." Why? Because I just walked in the door after going out to see one of Kevin Smith's talks entitled "An Evening with Kevin Smith."

Honestly not knowing what to expect, but being big fans of Kevin Smith, Janet and I were ushered to the front row of a sold out show (we bought our tickets back in February) and waited for what we thought was going to be a 1 1/2 - 2 hour show, after which we would go out for a nice dinner somewhere. Upon hearing one of the employees of the theater telling someone the show could last as long as 4 hours, we looked at each other and said, "Maybe dinner is out of the picture."

Kevin himself said at the beginning he expected the show to run about 4 hours -- his previous record of 7 hours being set just the night before in New Jersey -- as he was tired and jet lagged but he was doing this particular show as a benefit for the small Raue Center for the Arts in part as a favor for his Aunt who helped in the restoration and reopening of this 1929 theater back in 2001. As the show went on, it was clear that he was a bit spent from a long night of traveling (at one point he assumed a prone position to tackle a series of questions) but he was also energized by the mostly college age crowd. After all, who doesn't like being the center of attention in a room full of young, aspiring writers and directors who -- and I think I say this factually -- worship the ground you walk on? (One kid and his friends drove from Louisville, Kentucky to Northern Illinois to catch the show.)

Just a hair over 6 hours later -- at 10 minutes after 1am and after Kevin got a phone call from his brother (who was sitting in the balconey) reminding him how late it was -- we walked out of the theater into the early morning air.

If you don't know who Kevin Smith is, you may recognize some of his films: Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and Jersey Girl. Kevin Smith is a writer, director and producer who has, throughout all his success, remained accessible to his fans and true to the spirit of independent film making.

His talks, typically given at college campuses around the country, are not "lectures" so much as "listen and answers." When being introduced, we were told that Kevin would give a little talk and then the floor would open up to a question and answer session. But when Kevin came out he said "I don't know what that dude was talking about, this is all a f*cking question and answer session!"

Soon the aisles filled with those eager to hear the answers to their questions. What I found most fascinating about the night was Kevin's ability to take what otherwise might be considered a stupid question and make that person matter - even to the extent of allowing (maybe "allow" is too loose a word) one rabid fan to come on stage and recite a soliloquy from the movie Dogma before getting to the young man's question. What could otherwise have been quite boring in the wrong hands was made interesting as Kevin wove stories -- often not even related to the question -- for minutes on end until he would end with "What was your question again?" Every question was answered though and everyone who wanted to got a chance to ask, even if they had to endure a little derisive ribbing by Kevin or the audience in the process.

Just like his movies, Kevin's talks are filled with cursing, fart and dick jokes -- often at his own expense. But don't let this dissuade you from going if you get the chance because, if you're an aspiring writer, comic artist, director or producer you will come away from the talk with new appreciation for your art -- and you might even get a chance to ask a question of someone who's been down that road before you.

Oh, and our plans for "dinner out?" Well, Janet nuked a hot dog and I had two bowls of Rice Krispies -- then we both went to bed.

ASIDE: If you're a fan of Kevin Smith's work and don't live near a college campus or other venue where he is likely to give one of his talks, don't fret because you can purchase a DVD version of his show which, through editing, is likely to weed out the "lame" questions to give you a much cleaner and polished performance than going to see him live. At four hours, the DVD is not as long or as dynamic as seeing the man in person, but since every show is dictated by the questions he gets, it won't spoil anything for you should you get a chance in the future to catch his performance live.

Click here to purchase "An Evening with Kevin Smith" from

Friday, April 01, 2005

New Virus Warning

What follows is an e-mail warning I sent to all employees of my company this morning. I felt it prudent to cross post it here.

New Virus Warning

April 1, 2005


Due to the recent discovery in the lab of the first Computo-Human virus, researchers have become increasingly concerned that, due to the ease of transmission (through casual keyboard and/or mouse contact), the global reach of the Internet and the ease by which young hackers could replicate and distribute these destructive payloads, this type of computo-human virus (known by researchers as Win32/ap.fo01 or "compu-flu") could quickly become pandemic, causing one of the largest outbreaks of its kind.


Researchers in Palo Alto have created a computer virus that is capable of transmitting itself through human contact with the keyboard or mouse. While they've achieved greater transmission rates with newer "USB Style" peripherals, they've found viral levels to be dangerously high for users of the older "PS/2" and "AT" style keyboards as well.

It was discovered that routine contact with the keyboard can transmit the virus to your skin. From there it slowly migrates into your circulatory system to lie dormant while it replicates and begins using the human as host for distribution to other keyboards and mice the human might come in contact with. The virus is typically excreted from the human host through the sweat glands or through saliva.

As a simple example of how rapidly this virus could spread, imagine using an infected computer at work, going home, using that computer -- the same one your family uses -- and then your spouse goes into work and your kids go into school. Once the computers in a school or other workplace get infected, the rate of infection multiplies exponentially as other users of those systems then become carriers of the virus.


In our workplace I will begin installing sub-dermal scanners -- to be used in place of the usual password -- to gain access to your workstation.

This scanner will delicately remove (scrape) a fine layer of cells from your epidermal layer using a finely honed blade similar to what you might find in a typical disposable razor. The device will then analyze and compare the DNA strands found within your cells to existing records of your DNA previously collected to determine if you've become infected.

To ease privacy concerns, the scanning devices incinerate your genetic material using high powered lasers (similar to those found in DVD burners) after the scan is complete.

Because of the ease by which you could pick up the virus, this process must be repeated after every prolonged absence from the computer such as a coffee or cigarette break, lunch or even going to the bathroom. The time you can be away from the computer is determined by the system, but the average time allowed is approximately 3 - 4 minutes.

Because it doesn't matter where the machine removes the cells from, you may wish to rotate the finger you use every day to allow for the normal body healing processes to occur on the other digits.


Due to heightened fears of terrorism, recent communications from the DHS and FBI indicate the only way to prevent "rogue" viruses from spreading is to immediately quarantine anyone who has had contact with the computer at which the virus is detected.

To that end, the devices installed in our workplace will be wired into the security system and will send notice to dispatchers who will take appropriate measures -- such as replacing the infected computer with an iMac (see below) -- to ensure the safety of all employees.

Obviously minimizing contact with the infected individual is critical upon discovery.


As is the case with most computer viruses, users of the Apple Macintosh line of computers as well as Linux based computers are SAFE from infection.


You've heard me say this many times before: PLEASE don't open strange or unexpected attachments you might receive through e-mail.

At home, be sure to protect your Windows based computer with a good anti-virus scanner, a hardware firewall and one or more spyware detection programs. In addition, keep your computer up to date with the latest critical updates by running Microsoft's Windows Update and please, please, please run a safe browser such as Mozilla Firefox instead of Internet Explorer.

Being extra cautious is the surest way to prevent your computer from becoming infected with any computer virus, worm or spyware.

Lastly, with the exception of the paragraphs in this Final Note, please be cautious of everything you read on the Internet. Someone might just be pulling your leg - April Fool!