I know that everyone complains about Microsoft, and I've certainly done my share of Redmond-bashing, but I have to say that their automatic updates do a pretty darn good job. They can get awfully annoying, and from time to time there is one that goes awry, but overall they offer a well-integrated experience that runs smoothly and I give them a thumbs-up.

Compare that to other companies like Dell and you might just see what I mean. You have to go to their site, download them individually, unpack them individually, try to find where they unpacked to (assuming you didn't make a note of all of them), watch as they may or may not overwrite each other. It's horrible.

According to what I've read, the reports are saying that domestic flights from USAirways are undergoing a bit of a makeover - they are having hardware removed so that they will no longer be able to show in-flight movies.

This makeover will allegedly save $10 million per year in fuel and "other costs". Now I get that there is a certain amount of money to be saved by taking out the box that plays the movie. But $10 million is a lot. Plus, don't they need it to play the safety film on the flight?

I don't get a lot of junk mail. I have the warning message on my credit report, I've used as many pre-screenings as possible, and I'll opt out as often as I can. I've even tried to get out of the Valassis list (they are the ones who put the newspaper-like ads in your mailbox). I'm stll working on that one. Though they say that it will take 6-8 weeks to get off their list, and it will last for five years, I've yet to get out.

Anyway, because of all this, I get very little junk mail, and even fewer of those pre-approved credit offers. So I was a little surprised when I received a Disney Rewards card (Visa, I think). It might have been from when we went to Disney a few years ago - as long as you've done business with them, they can send you something, and they might consider staying in their hotel "doing business". But what really gets me is that if you sign up for it, you get a free Bambi DVD!

For the last couple of years, I've had a Toshiba U205-S5034 laptop, and in general, I've been really happy with it. This is one small laptop. If memory serves, it has a 12.1" screen, and is in fact pretty tiny. That can be annoying from time to time, but frankly I don't often use a laptop - only when I'm away from home - and that's a good thing when carrying it. I decided that I didn't really want to lug a massive machine with me any more, and it works great.

I did have to upgrade the memory (to 2GB), which gave me a little more breathing room, but other than that, it does the job well. The hard drive is sometimes slow when you try and do things like sync up with another computer (typically involving deleting a bunch of files or copying a ton of other files), but that doesn't happen too often, so it's not a huge deal. The problem is that every once in a while, it keeps locking up on me in the midst of, well, something.

Intrepid readers of RSS feeds may have noticed an odd happening in the Movable Type Community Blog the other day - unfortunately you can't actually read it if you check the site now, you would have had to catch it in your feed-reader (or your feed-reader would have had to catch it for you, or you'll have to catch it later on in this entry). Product Manager Byrne Reese remarked Since the day we released Movable Type Open Source more than a year ago.

Everyone catch that? Apparently according to Byrne, MTOS came out sometime before June 3rd, 2007. Yet, the official announcement of a stable release was on January 28, 2008, and Anil Dash made the GPL licensing announcement on December 12, 2007 (my birthday, but that doesn't matter). How the heck did Byrne lose more than six months? I'm all for being on "Internet Time", but this is a little bit much, isn't it?

A couple of weeks ago, Keyshawn Johnson did his second round of broadcasting for the NFL draft, and I mentioned just how bad it was. To be fair, it was a bit better than it was last year. For someone who appears to totally lack the ability to shut his mouth, when the cameras are on and rolling for hour after hour of incessant coverage, Keyshawn totally clams up. It's like he just becomes a different person.

What's even more amazing to watch is that he is totally and utterly upstaged by Mel Kiper, Jr. of all people. Now this is no slight against Mel Kiper, Jr., mind you, but for the last thirty or so years, he has done next to nothing except pick apart the draft. He barely goes outside. Understandably, on draft day, he is surely an imposing force. But for Keyshawn Johnson to be intimidated by a guy like Mel Kiper? That's almost impossible to fathom. Yet he is. Last year, perhaps - it was his first year at the desk. But it happened again. I wouldn't be at all surprised if he didn't make it back for a third year. Regardless, this year Keyshawn decided if he couldn't out-talk Kiper, he'd out-dress him. It apparently worked.

I generally like things being made available online. Sure, I have issues with putting data online, because when my connection goes out - and it will go out - I like to be able to get to it. But providing the option to get at things online is a nice feature. Making it so that they have to be retrieved online just blows. It really blows.

One of the hats that I wear in my life as a computer consultant has to do with networks - and when I'm wearing that hat, it means that I have to deal with Microsoft products. This really doesn't mean that I am a Microsoft hater, because a lot of what they do is decent. But some days they do nothing other than make my life miserable. Take eOpen, for example.

It's no secret that I'm not a fan of overpriced fundraisers. Just look at the Girl Scouts. I mean I'll eat some cookies and all, but the way they sell those overpriced boxes of heaven is just ridiculous. Why don't they just ask for the money? I don't mean to pick on the girl scouts. Really. They aren't alone.

When I was a kid, I came home with all sorts of things from school that I dutifully schlepped around the neighborhood, thinking that I was doing everyone a monumental service. Was it really so bad? Probably. These days, our kids bring home all sorts of overpriced crap, then they are made to feel bad when the teacher announces that they can't have a pizza party until everyone turns in a purchase.

The other day I received a phone call from the firefighters, not wanting to miss out.

A few months back, I profiled the Elite Stock-Market Advisory of Scott S. Fraser, and how I thought it was a remarkably bad investment. As of today, there is a single stock that has actually moved higher from that group, but I have now been chosen as the lucky recipient of another advisory, so I thought I would see if Scott is doing any better.

The first thing I noticed is there is a featured stock - but there isn't a basket. What's even more interesting is that with the exception of one of the stocks from the last group being pointed out as a winner, not a single one is even mentioned in this group. For less than a year later, that's a warning sign in my book. As to the details, let's take a deeper look and see what we can learn.

It strikes me as I'm driving down the road (listening to the radio) that perhaps things have gone a bit far when it comes to licensing. Now don't get me wrong, I understand that people want to protect their property - whether it is intellectual property, such as software, or actual property, such as a brand in which they have invested or even a trademark.

But maybe - just maybe - things are a little out of hand when someone isn't allowed to say the name of the local football team or the big game that they play at the end of the year without writing out a check to someone. That's ridiculous. It's not like they don't know who they are talking about. I mean I understand wanting to protect your investment and all, but come on people!

Exactly six years ago today, our country underwent one of the most gut-wrenching moments in its existence. Nineteen people hijacked four airplanes were hijacked. Two of the planes crashed into - and eventually toppled - the world trade centers in New York City. One crashed into the Pentagon in Washington. The fourth crashed into a field in rural Pennsylvania. At this writing, 2974 deaths were directly attributed to the attacks.

It is an easy leap to attribute a huge number of additional deaths to this, as the United States sent a military force to Afghanistan and Iraq. It's quite possible that those tallies will never be accurate, but the numbers are certainly much, much higher - both on our side and on theirs. Whether right o wrong, a number of lives have been lost.

What is interesting to me is that one of the issues with those planes is that the hijackers knew how to turn off the emergency locator beacon in the planes, so that their exact location could not be found. It seem that if you are going to hijack a plane, this would be a really, really good idea. Hijack the plane, and turn off the signal so that no one can find you. Is it hard to do? I don't think so.