This year we have three Jack-o-Lanterns: A generally traditional one, an off-kilter, but mostly standard-variety one and what should probably be called a cyclops that is teething. You might want to avoid the front porch if you can help it.

In a recent article (free registration may be required), a Charlotte car dealership has apparently run afoul of the building code for too much advertising. The company's infraction? Flying four 3-foot by 5-foot American flags on the roof of the dealership. The flags flying on antennas of cars for sale? They have to go too.

It still surprises me that so few people take advantage of an increasingly valuable (and increasingly inexpensive) resource - the Internet! Out of 8 candidates for at-large seats on the Charlotte City Council, only 3 have web sites.

That's right, folks, it's nearly time for more Charlotte election mania. Don't forget to vote on Tuesday, November 4th. If you're still not sure what's happening on the local election scene, check out the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections site. You'll find it surprisingly useful.

I remember reading about the Free State Project sometime last year. It's an interesting experiment, where the goal is to get 20,000 people to relocate to a single state, where they then hope to influence the local government to maintain a bastion of liberty. The proposal seems sound.

In the last month, the project has reached the all-important plateau of 5000 members, which resulted in the choice of a state for the project. The selection? New Hampshire was the winner. By 2006, the FSF project hopes to have 20,000 people signed up, and within 5 years of that date, for those 20,000 to have relocated to New Hampshire where they hope to exert their influence on the state government.

Thus far, New Hampshire seems a good choice, and the governor of the state has even chimed in to become a friend of the project. In a state where the motto is Live Free or Die, it seems that the project may be destined for success.

I find it interesting when a reasonably legitimate service (eWeek magazine, in this case) sends out an update with asterisks in the subject line so that spam doesn't actually read spam. Instead, it is sp*m. Presumably this is to foil filters that look for spam in the assumption that true spam will contain spam in the subject and the email can be safely deleted.

We get a lot of spam, and very rarely does it contain spam in the subject line. Even when it does contain spam, I can't think of a single instance where the sender of the junk mail has taken steps to protect it from triggering a filter on the word spam.

Just glancing through the mailbox of stuff that kicked out this weekend, I see lots of umlauts, slashes between each letter in sexual, periods in commons spam words such as humungous (sic), cheapest and effective (two periods in that one), and even a tilde in grow. But out of 500 or so junk emails, not a single occurence of spam, in either altered or unaltered form.

It's interesting that people think that those who send junk emails will actually advertise that fact by including the word spam in the subject. Not just people, but a publication devoted to technology. Do these people really live in the same world as we do, or do they occupy some alternate dimension where those who send junk email actually let you know that that is what they are doing by including it in the subject?

Don't get me wrong - I understand that some junk mail does come in with spam in the subject. But at least in our installation, that happens so rarely as to be a non-event. The handful of messages that slip through are much easier blocked by a sender blacklist than a keyword check for spam.

For those of you tired of working already, you might want to skip this piece. It won't make you feel much better about it.

You see, it turns out that Friday was Take Back Your Time Day. The idea was to take off Friday in a show of solidarity to show that we need to, well, take more time off. Apparently Friday marked the day where we Americans have worked as much as some people in Western Europe will work all year.

Of course, the site doesn't seem to mention that perhaps we have a higher standard of living, or can pay our bills or what other changes might be a reward for working as much as we apparently do. That could be because there really aren't any advantages. Or it could be because we like to work as much as we do.

Personally, I'm much more concerned that we have to pay so much money in taxes. If we didn't lose such a large percentage of our income to taxes, perhaps we'd be able to work less and maintain the same standard of living. Harry Browne, the Libertarian presidential candidate in 1996 and 2000, put together a nice essay about the subject this past April 15th. Perhaps instead of worrying what they're doing across the pond (as they say), we should worry about fixing things here. Then let them do the worrying for us while we enjoy the results of our labors.

Some pretty cool news on the Linux front, as Linuxant announces that they have developed a "wrapper" for NDIS-compliant Windows network drivers, allowing them to be used as-is under Linux.

The voice over IP race seems to be heating up. At first, there was only Vonage. Now Skype and SIPphone have entered the space. The disadvantage to these two competitors is that they can currently only connect to others on the same service - but that will undoubtedly change in the near future. In the meantime, you can comfort yourself with much lower calling rates.

For those of you who have the standard love-hate relationship with regular expressions, PHPkitchen has released RegExpEditor, a graphical interface to creating regular expressions.

Mother nature seems determined to let us know that we're not in charge. First, we see a sea sponge that grows fiber optics that are tougher than those we can manufacture. Now, we find out about methane bubbles so large that they can sink ships. These bubbles break loose from the sea floor and create eruptions on the surface that could swamp a ship. This may explain the mysterious disappearance of some vessels. It also poses the question: What did she eat for lunch?

If you're building a home network, you may be interested in a hard drive that you can plug into your network and access from anywhere. Heck, I could use such a device. But nearly $250 for 20GB? That seems a bit pricey when a drive as large as 160GB can be purchased for just $100 (I recently did this myself). Perhaps this is just the start and we'll see prices come down as the popularity increases. Or perhaps someone will be able to hack the thing and plug any drive at all into the enclosure.

I promised a couple of quizzes this week, so without further ado...

Which Dr. Seuss character are you? The quiz says I am Mr. Brown - "Observant and involved, there is little that escapes your notice. You absorb it all, and make sense of it, though sometimes a bit noisily."

For those of you looking for a quiz that is a little more risque, you can find out which Rocky (Horror) character most resembles your personality. Strangely enough, it turns out that I'm Brad - "You're just a normal guy caught in an interesting situation." If you're sensitive about certain words, you may want to avoid this quiz. Of course, if you're sensitive about that sort of thing, you might want to just avoid Rocky Horror entirely.

Headed out on a last-minute trip, so there won't be any new entries until Sunday evening. The Geek Weakly is nearly ready, but not quite complete, so I'll be posting it then. Enjoy your weekend, and see you Sunday night!

For 40 years or so, with the exception of a five-year gap in the late 70s/early 80s, American citizens haven't been allowed to travel to Cuba. It's not bad enough that the government takes our money and spends it with abandon. They have to make up rules that govern our choices, too. And if we don't play along? We get fined.

Apparently the Cuba travel ban holds an average penalty of $7500. For going on vacation. Who in their right mind thinks that this is a good idea? Even if you don't want people to travel to someplace you don't like, you're expecting to engender the support of the people with threats like this?

Now I realize that the current government didn't put the ban in place. But our president has every intention of trying to keep it. He's even threatened to veto the decision to end the ban if it should come across his desk.

At least there are finally some light bulbs coming on somewhere in Washington, as today the senate has voted to stop funding the program. I know, that sounds backwards. Remember we're talking about the government of the United States here. Everything is backwards.

See, the current plan requires funding to make sure no one travels to Cuba. So the senate votes to stop providing funding, which in turn ends the program, because they don't have any money to make it work! Only in Washington.

I heard an interesting piece on Marketplace yesterday afternoon. It was about the proliferation of cell phones that come with built-in cameras. A fad only a year or so ago, they are now everywhere. There has been more than one suggestion of banning the devices. While I can see a certain logic to that, it seems that there are some flaws to the logic.

For instance, the article mentions that someone could be on the phone while in reality they are taking a lewd photo. I don't know about you, but to me a lewd photo probably involves actions that aren't going to happen in a place where someone on a cell phone might just happen to be standing around. If they do happen, those people probably don't mind being observed and/or recorded.

It may make sense to ban the phones in places like locker rooms, but you and I know that even if such a ban is ever implemented, there are bound to be violations. If camera phones are outlawed, then only outlaws will have camera phones and all that.

Admittedly, this might curtail your freedoms somewhat if you like to run around the locker room (or your front yard) naked. Of course, that's only if you mind being photographed without your clothes and a few million of your closest friends having access to the pictures. On the other hand, it may lead to an entirely new attitude on even being naked.

Can such a device be abused? Sure. But so can the telephone. If that's not true, why is there such a fuss about the do-not-call list? Why do we have caller ID? Why are there unlisted numbers? Abuse is not device-dependent.