29 March 2007

Off To Vacation

I'm all packed and ready to go on my vacation. Out is the DVD player and the two discs - there is just no room for the player. Well, the kids just have to be creative and find other things to do. That video iPod sure looks attractive now...

I'm tempted to try to access Gmail via a mobile phone. Perhaps if that SIM card switcheroo works out on my device, I'll try it, if it doesn't cost so much. I've thought of giving moblog (mobile blogging) a try, but I haven't made a penny with AdSense so I don't see the point of spending extra money on maintaining this blog. Perhaps I'll update the blog via the computer at the home of the wife's relative. I even bring along the transfer cable for the digital camera, but don't count on it - it's Windoze after all, chances are I'll have to do twenty things to the PeeCee before it can recognize my camera and bring the photos in. I'm sure there are Internet cafes along the trip. It's a matter of finding the time to sit down for a few quiet minutes to compose my thought. There is a disadvantage in traveling in a big room, especially when it's your in-laws and they all think alike, which somehow makes all your decisions invalid...

Qaptain Qwerty out...

28 March 2007

Fun Pack

I'm mostly packed for my trip. Actually, that should be "my wife already packed all the essential stuff, like clothes, hygiene items, and medicines." The things that I like to pack are what I call fun stuff. Things to keep the kids, perhaps myself, entertained during all the dead time, e.g. in flight, waiting at the mall for the women to go shopping, etc.

Cathay Pacific has personal TV in every seat, so that will help provide plenty of in-flight entertainment. Originally, I was going to buy an airline adapter to power my portable DVD player, but now that won't be necessary, I hope. Other things that I definitely will bring are:

  • crayons
  • markers for use on paper
  • dry erase boards and markers
  • paper for drawing
  • iPod with Y-splitter and two sets of earphones
  • novel - I swiped a thick novel off my colleague's personal sci-fi library in the office. I should send him a note...
  • Flushed Away and Happy Feet DVDs, mostly to be used during some down time in China or HK. I keep the receipt in my wallet in case Chinese authorities suspect the discs are illegal copies...
Other things to bring:
  • adapter to use China wall electrical sockets
  • extension cable to convert one outlet to three - wonder if the voltage difference will matter...
  • charger for iPod
  • charge for cell phone - supposedly my cell phone won't work in China and at some steep roaming price in HK, but I heard that I can buy a SIM card in HK and swap mine out to make local calls. Interesting concept.
  • dental floss
  • extra AAA batteries for my ancient Handspring PDA
  • digital camera with extra battery and memory card
  • Besta Chinese electronic dictionary - hey, it might be useful in reading street signs somewhere in China or HK.
I'm sure there are other things I want to bring, but I am sure I'll think of them just as I head out the door...

26 March 2007

China Vacation

In a few days, I'll be going on vacation with the in-laws to their home village, then to Hainan Islands and Hong Kong. Ho hum. Been there, done that. Granted it was more than ten years ago that I last visited China and Hong Kong, but I don't expect much difference. Originally, I was hoping I would go to Shanghai but in the end it turned out we won't have enough time. Hopefully, the trip will be an eye-opener for my son. It'll be his first trip to a non-Western world.

In my mind, China is still that Evil Empire communist country where the government crushes its citizens. Where corruption and bribery are standard fare. Where intellectual properties don't mean anything. Where ripoff and poor imitation of great designs are made. I guess despite what my late father's attempt in ingraining in our mind all the great things about being Chinese, I've spent too many years growing up in the U.S. to have any positive feelings toward China the country.

I don't look forward to the long flight half-way around the world, the constant bargaining charade to go through whenever we have to buy things on our own. To be fair, bargaining was required in most non-mall stores in Cancun, Mexico, too. Oh, well, I'll do it for the Kid.

25 March 2007


create your own visited country map

I like to use Blogger's Next Blog button to randomly visit other blogs. They have done a good job of cleansing blogosphere of splogs (fake blogs that are really spams web sites). One blog I happened upon showed a map of the world with the countries the blog writer had visited. The service came from World66.com, linked in the title of this blog. Just check the boxes corresponding to the countries you have visited and generate the map with the click of a button. There are also sections just for European countries, U.S. States, and Canadian provinces.

Not much of a world traveler, I visited only 12 countries or a meager 5% of the world. I did not counting Belgium and Japan, since I was in those two countries only for connecting flights. I was born in Vietnam so there's no surprise there. I left Vietnam for the open sea and spent a few months in refugee camp in Indonesia. It was no Club Med, but still it was an extensive stay. Then I was in Singapore for a few weeks to catch a flight to the U.S. of A. Some years later I visited Canada, China, and Hong Kong, on different occasions. Fast forward a few years, and I happened to work for a travel company as its sole techie person. I got to travel with the president of the company to London, England for a meeting, after which, on my own time, I took the train through the Chunnel to Paris, France. On another trip, we went to Milan, Italy and Frankfurt, Germany. A few months after that, another business-related trip followed but this time I got stuck in the underbelly of Chennai, India, aka Madras. I was supposed to check up on the progress, or the lack thereof, of some software house that was developing for said travel company. My world travel pretty much ended with honeymoon in Cancun, Mexico. Sure I went back to Canada, but as the saying goes, been there done that.

24 March 2007

Dodge That Anvil!

For the past few nights, I've been busy writing for About This Particular Mac (ATPM) a review of the game Dodge That Anvil! (DTA!) from Rabidlab. As the name aptly describes, the goal of the game is to avoid being hit by anvils falling from the sky, while pulling carrots and such out of the ground. Well, it's just a computer game, something to while away the time.

I used to think it would be nice to work as a game tester. Supposedly Nintendo has employees whose sole responsibility is to test out the new games made for the consoles or handheld devices. How cool a job is that? Get paid to play. After finishing the review of DTA! I don't think it is that cool anymore. When there's a condition to doing what you think is enjoyable, it's not fun any more. I suppose those Nintendo testers at some point would rather be pushing paper or finding values with VLookup() in Excel. Too much play can make Jack a dull boy, too. While I like DTA! a lot for being relatively easy to play, at times I HAD to play it just to gather enough info about it for the review. Unlike traditional magazine, online mag like ATPM doesn't have the constrain of space. As long as the review doesn't turn into an encyclopedia entry, one can write as much as applicable. I started testing the game using the Toon challenge level, in which one cannot die, just to advance as fast as possible through the various levels the game offer. But then I HAD to try out the other challenge levels to see the differences. Also, even though I already had the full version of the game, I HAD to install a demo on a different computer to learn about the demo's limitation. When one HAS to do things, the end result ceases to be enjoyable. While I strongly believe in the great work ATPM does and really want to help further its goal of disseminating Mac info to the world, I didn't have as much fun playing DTA! as I thought I would.

Now that the review is done with, I'll allow a few weeks of zero DTA! then go back to it. I'll play the Toon level again and this time will go all the way to the final level.

23 March 2007


Out of nowhere, I recently resumed my interest in doing crossword puzzles. When riding the subway, normally I have a paperback or my iPod with me, but one time last week I didn't have either. Maybe I had the iPod but its battery was depleted. It's one of the minor annoyance with the iPod. I would walk out the door and the battery meter would indicate the device had 75% power, but by the time I reached the train platform, a mere few minutes later, there would be nothing left. I think I have the 10-GB iPod for at least three years already. I suppose electronic devices are not supposed to be used this long.

I happened to have a copy of Metro New York, one of the free daily newspapers, with me at the time. I've been reading Metro almost everyday but never once bothered to try the crosswords. Perhaps there was an easy clue or two so I was able to populate some section of the puzzle. The more I read into it, the more I was able to solve the puzzle. Soon enough, I was going old piles of newspaper pulling the crossword pages. I will stick to the general theme in the newspaper instead of those specific to the magazines. For example, I used to do TV Guide puzzles and ended up only learning about TV stars or shows with short names. My goal with the crosswords is to learn real, useful English words.

Compared to Scrabbles, playing the crosswords is much better in terms of learning or using words. The shortest crosswords word must be at least three letters long, so I don't have to deal with those obscure two-letter Scrabbles craps. I discovered that I know a lot more words compared to back in high school days, which is, oh, only about twenty years ago. I still cannot solve entire puzzles - there are always some authors or celebrities who I don't know about. Sure, I know the Cambodian politician Pol Pot, but that's only because Cambodia is a neighbor country of Vietnam, so I only happen to know a little bit about it.

For those people that I don't know about, I plan to look them up on the web some day. I haven't resorted at all to Google and its ilk in this newly-re-discovered enthusiasm. Back in the old days, when I do the crossword puzzles, I would have stacks of books nearby. Almanacs were useful for looking up people's names or geographic info. Dictionaries are a must. Some words are so obscure only certain big fat dictionaries would have them. Barlett's Book of Quotations or some dictionary of American slang and idioms sometimes help. In extreme cases, I even made trips to the public library to look things up. Aaaah, such were the days before personal computer and the advent of the Internet.

18 March 2007

Flash Flopped

// This script takes the user to Scene 2 when goScene_btn
// is released.
goScene_btn.onRelease = function() {
gotoAndStop("Scene 2", 1);

Good grief! All I wanted was to make a button for use on the web, that when clicked on does something, like revealing a picture behind it. But in Macromedia Flash it's not as simple as I think it should. The above "code" is needed just to go to Scene 2 of some movie clip. I sure had the wrong idea about Flash.

A long time ago, when there was a computer called the Commodore Amiga, bundled with the computer was an authoring program called AmigaVision. One could write multimedia applications with AmigaVision all from by dragging icons into places and setting up their various parameters. For example, you can have a movie clip loaded, then a music file played, then some text shown on the screen, and so on. AmigaVision was probably inspired by HyperCard, the grandfather of authoring software, from Apple Computer. Unfortunately, I never actually used AmigaVision, even though I had it with my Amiga 3000 computer. I just never had the need to use it.

I had the wrong idea that Flash would be something similar to HyperCard or AmigaVision. Just drag and drop icons representing the various actions then adjust the icons to perform the work. I have no problem with learning programming languages. However, I do plenty of that at work already, when I get home I just want to have some fun. The Flash language, I think it's called ActionScript, seems to be object-oriented, that is, everything is an object with properties and actions associated to them. The lousy goScene button above has an event called onRelease associated to it, relating to the event that button is released. The trouble with this is that you need to know the exact thing to type, or know what to look for. Integrated development environment like Visual Studio help by predicting or listing the various options available as you type the codes. But again, when I'm home I just want to do something on the creative side, not learning a new programming language and the various details needed. And definitely not while the trial expires every day...

I may download another Flash demo, this time for use with my Windows XP PC, but perhaps I'll fare better if I read more about Flash first. I'm sure there are some good Flash books at the public library.

17 March 2007

Winter Fun

Every time it snows heavily, adults would groan about having to shovel the sidewalk and dig out the cars, but to the kids it's fun time! It snowed good last night and while there wasn't enough to make a snowman, I gathered enough snow to cover the backyard steps and turned it into a slide. Last time it snowed heavily, J enjoyed sliding on the saucer sled in the backyard ice "pond". My backyard is tiny and the horizontal skid was just a few feet in distance, but it was still very enjoyable to J. This time the slide provides enough momentum for a fun downhill ride of a few more feet. I made sure there was a small path on the side for J to go up. Then I instructed him to either crawl into the saucer sled or sit back into it, never stand on it. One of the few things I learned out of engineering school is that safety is a very important factor in many things. A few friends of J in the neighborhood joined the fun and cheered each other on as they took turn going down the ice ramp. I was about six feet from the foot of the ramp to deflect the sled to the side lest it collides with the shack. A good time was had by all!

16 March 2007

Irish Heart

My mother is very good with making food. She occasionally would tell the story about her not knowing how to cook until after she got married and went to live my father's family.

She has a knack for learning about food making easily. If she sees something she likes, she would ask about it. Even if the person only shares the recipe in some vague terms, she still can come up with the product. Sometimes she would improvise and substitutes materials to come out with something better. I have never cooked in my life, unless your count cooking rice, so I cannot describe how she does her things. All I can say is I'm lucky to have her around to make all the delicious food. Even when she experiments with something new and the result isn't quite what it's supposed to be, I still wolf them down.

She saw some contest sponsored by Nestle that only requires the use of their condensed milk, supposedly from their subsidiary Carnation. Mother made the heart-shaped pudding above as one of the many items she will send pictures in.

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

15 March 2007

NYC Auxiliary Police

I don't recall ever mentioning news articles in my blog, but a recent event changes my style. All over the news this morning was the killing of two NYPD Auxiliary Police Officers in Greenwich Village. Some guy, supposedly angry over a friend's job termination at a restaurant, visited the restaurant and killed the bartender. When he was followed by the two auxiliary policeman, he turned around and killed them too.

I recall one time in high school, perhaps in the junior or senior year, I took Criminal Laws and the class had a visit from the local auxiliary police force. At that presentation, I learned that the auxiliary police are just unarmed volunteers. They even have to pay for their own uniforms. They may be trained in basic self-defense but mostly serve as eyes and ears for the regular force. The theory is that having a police presence, even unarmed, can deter crimes. They get to drive police cruisers and I don't know what else they get out of it, but they can certainly get killed in the line of duty, just like what happened yesterday. I love doing volunteer work, but I must say the auxiliary police must be volunteering in the extreme.

R.I.P., NYC Auxiliary Police Officers Eugene Marshalik and Nicholas Todd Pekearo.

12 March 2007

Whose Line

I've been enjoying a few good laughs from watching on DVD the first season of the TV show Whose Line Is It Anyway? The show is basically improvised comedy. The host Drew Carey, with the help of the live audience, would throw at the four comedians situations for them to act out. The star comedians are Wayne Brady (the black singer), Colin Mochrie (the bald Canadian), Ryan Stiles (The Tall Guy from the Drew Carey Show), and a guest comedian. The situations can be as commonplace as a house party or a dating contest, but most of the time they are exotic/uncommon ones like an encounter between Dracula and his slayer or a love triangle. The situations are usually twisted by requiring the comedians be restrained in some way, like not able to move on their own but instead moved by volunteers from the audience, or acted out in some styles of songs, etc. Further complicating matters, the comedians are usually assigned some strange characters, on the spot, and they must rely on their knowledge and quick wit to come up with something funny. My favorite routine is the Hoedown, in which Drew Carey and three of the comedians make up a ditty to describe some topics. In these days of instant web search via Google and such, sometimes it's hard to tell the smart person from someone who just happened to know how to look things up quickly. With improvisations, you just have to know your stuff to carry out the tasks. I truly admire these resourceful comedians.

10 March 2007


Reading about Steve Wozniak ("Woz") and the computer revolution he helped fuel, I couldn't help wishing I was more involved with the revolution. It's just wishful thinking. It was the early 1980s and I was just a high school lad. I have overcome the language barrier a few years earlier and was comfortable with the English language by then. The revolution was already under way and the computers of the time include the TRS-80 and the Commodore-128. Thanks to my high school buddies M and R, I was enrolled in some computer summer program at Jamaica High School. I learned BASIC on, I believe, the C-128, in glorious colors. Something that I learned back then is useful until this day - string manipulation. Strings in computer programs mean text, as opposed to numbers. One of the exercises that we did involved determining if a string is a palindrome. A palindrome is a phrase that is spelled the same backward and forward, disregarding space and punctuation marks such as comma and apostrophe. Take MADAM I'M ADAM, supposedly something the First Man, Adam, said to the First Woman, Eve, when they, well, first met. Not counting the apostrophe, it's M-A-D-A-M-I-M-A-D-A-M backward and forward. To determine if the phrase is a palindrome, we would have to spell the word backward, picking up one letter at a time from the end. I believe we had to use the MID function to pick up the letters. The syntax for MID is MID({text to extract out of}, {beginning position}, {number of characters to grab}.) For example, MID("Hello", 2, 1) equals to the letter e. A FOR..NEXT loop, with negative step, was needed to walk along the length of the phrase. For other exercises, we learned about the LEFT, RIGHT, LEN, and ASC functions, etc. Really simple stuff but applicable in many situations.

Forward to the year 2007, I have uses for these simple functions in my scripts to retrieve info from Netware eDirectory. Using NDAP programming, I was able to determine the full path of a given username. For example, user John Smith, SmithJ, is an accountant in the New York office, so his fully-qualified name is .SmithJ.Accountant.NYC.USA. Having the full path allows me to add the user to groups via scripts. The only problem is that the path returned via NDAP is the reverse, like NDS:\\Tree\USA\NYC\Accountant\SmithJ. To convert the result to the dot-limited format I had break down path to its components, where each component is separated by slash. Then I pieced the components back together, only I had to start with the last original piece and end with the first original piece. VBScript and NDAP are all modern technologies, but they share the common string functions, such as MID and LEFT, that I learned back in the 80's.

One fun side-effect I had with learning computer in those days was the game Artillery. It was a simple game of two players taking turns shooting projectiles at the other party. Players would enter a number to represent the strength of the projectile and another number for the angle of attack. Now on my PowerBook G4, I have the game Pocket Tank, a descendant of Artillery. Pocket Tank has nice graphic, sound effects, music, options of wind direction and terrains, but the basic idea of adjusting power and angle is still there.

How about a few more palindromes to close off this blog entry?

(Supposedly something Napoleon said before he was exiled to Elba Island.)

(How the Panama Canal came into being?)

(A special kind of taxes for certain activity at 12p.m.)

As you may suspect, palindromes are mostly very contrived, something made up and its existence justified afterward, not something that would occur naturally.

09 March 2007


I recently finished reading iWoz, the Steve Wozniak auto-biography. In case you don't know, Steve Wozniak is the other "Steve" of the two "Steves" who founded Apple Computer. Nowadays, Steve Jobs has almost all of the limelight with all the cool products to come out of Apple, so Steve Wozniak, or simply Woz, may not be a familiar name to some.

Being a Mac fan, I should have read all those books about Apple and the Mac, but somehow I never got around to it. From other non-book sources, I had a general idea of the founding of Apple Computer in the garage of Jobs' house. That the two Steves built a device to fool the phone companies to make free long distance phone calls. Plus that the Macintosh was an idea borrowed from Xerox's PARC lab. Reading the book filled in much of the gap in my Apple history.

The way Woz put it, all the computer design from the early days of Apple Computer was his. He was quite an engineer, someone who not only design things but made them himself. He actually designed a Breakout-type game all with hardware. Bill Gates' BASIC hasn't been around at the time so there was no way to write programs via software. Woz likes to mention every now and then what binary is and how important it is to computers, but I think it's just a waste of time, even for a techie like me. The two Steves are four years apart, such that when Woz was already done with college and designing the first personal computer, Jobs was a mere lad in high school. Woz did give credits to Jobs for being a smooth talker over the phone and succeeded at getting free computer chips from some salesman. He also mentioned that Jobs was good at building computers, but still it was Woz who revolutionized personal computing by introducing the first modern personal computer - a CPU, a keyboard, and a screen.

Someone once showed me some picture of a computer, the CPU being a wooden case. I thought it was just a joke, but in reality that was how the first Apple computer was. The upstart computer was literally working out a garage or a living room, so there was no manufacturing facility to mass produce plastic cases for the new device. Instead, Woz and company just went to some hardware store, bought a bunch of wooden sheets, saw them to size and somehow cobble them together. What a humble beginning!

One piece of misinformation I had about Apple related to VisiCalc, the spreadsheet program. I knew that VisiCalc was the first of its kind and helped sell many computers, but I mistakenly associated VisiCalc to the IBM PC. According to iWoz, it was on the Apple computer that VisiCalc took off.

Steve Jobs is a great businessman but I have no trust in businessmen. Those kinds of people are prone to exaggerate just to sell their products, or provide misleading info, or simply withhold info if such action is beneficial to them. Not surprisingly, in the early days when the two Steves collaborated, Jobs cheated Woz out of a few thousand dollars on a project. Jobs claimed that they were paid by Atari $800 so each of them got $400. Woz later learned that the total was actually a few thousand dollars. Woz valiantly dismissed Jobs' action as youthfulness' foolishness, he simply wrote, "We were just kids."

It must be great to be friends with Woz. When Apple Computer made it big time with the initial public offering (IPO), many Apple employees became millionaires. Woz ensured the wealth was shared by giving away his own shares or selling them cheap before the IPO. The way Woz spent money sometimes sounded crazy. He threw away $12 million of his own money, twice, to produce some concerts, but he said he didn't mind and that the important thing was that he had fun. Sheesh, he would give me just $1 million and I can have some fun with it, too.

Strangely, there was no mention of the Segway, that gyroscope-based electric scooter that was the talk of the town not too long ago. Maybe Woz only liked to talk about his own invention, not something that he helped finance. In the end, he wrote at length about a universal remote control that he invented, but compared to the Apple computer, the story about remote was very boring.

07 March 2007


Totally by coincidence, shortly after my Art of Extortion cartoon appeared in ATPM, I was contacted by a Rene from the theartofquitting.com project. He expressed interest in my Quitters Are Not Losers cartoon, which he saw on Flickr . The project tries to get people to quit smoking and makes an art out of it, by showing pictures about, well, people quitting smoking, or the dangers of smoking, or messages about quitting smoking, you get the idea. It sounds like a worthy cause. In my immediate family, fortunately nobody smokes, even my brother-in-law quitted after many years of smoking, but I still know others who smoke. Check it out quick, as Rene has new art submissions every day, so my cartoon drops lower and lower on the main page.

04 March 2007

The Art of Extortion

As I was preparing the letters A through H for the blog entry about Art Text, an idea hit me. It was almost like those old-days kidnapper's note! Supposedly to conceal their handwriting, kidnappers of bygone days would clip letters from newspapers and magazines to spell out their ransom message. They would then wrap the note around a brick, drive by the kidnapped person's family, and toss the package through the window.

The cartoon marked my debut with ATPM.com as a contributor. Previously, I was only a proofreader, a good one at that, I might add. The March 2007 issue of ATPM.com has both the Art Text review and the cartoon. I asked for the cartoon and review to be separated by a few articles, so that the reader wouldn't be instantly make the connection between the two. However, it didn't work out that way and the cartoon appears right in front of the review. Hopefully, the combo is still a treat for the ATPM readers. The title of this blog entry is a link to issue 13.03 of ATPM.com.

In the office, I'm probably the most technical person in the department. I have a knack for learning technical matters quickly. Well, everybody probably claims that when they go to job interviews. I suppose only my colleagues can second my claim. One down side with knowing more than others is that when you yourself have questions, the likelihood of someone else having the answer is not that great. At home, I use the Mac most of the time and usually can solve my own technical issues, not that there's much to solve. Getting involved with ATPM is a great way to learn more about the Mac. As I ran Art Text through the torture tests to find its weak spots or just to break it, then proofread the entire beta version of the e-zine, I learned a few things about the Mac that I didn't know. For instance, when programs copy info the clipboard, they can provide multiple versions of the info. In the case of pictures, the different versions can translate to different formats, e.g. JPEG, PDF, or TIFF. Art Text only used PDF and subsequently what it puts into the clipboard wasn't available to other programs that don't paste from PDF. I also learned that because of the different magazine formats ATPM issues, e.g. PDF vs. web, different publishing processes were involved. Errors or typos can be found in one format but not in the other, just because the tools used in one process may be smarter in the other. The staff members of ATPM include Mac programmers and professional graphic designers. I am sure there's much to learn from them as I continue getting involved with ATPM.

02 March 2007

Get Firefox

Are you using Firefox for your web surfing? Firefox is the up-and-coming web browser, perhaps someday replacing the monopolistic Microsoft Internet Explorer. There are many things to like about Firefox, other than that it's not from Microsoft. For me especially the list of Firefox features includes search suggestion, RSS, and cool plugins/extensions such as VideoDownloader.

Nowadays most web browsers have a built-in search field where you can enter what you want to find and press Enter. No more going to Google first. With Firefox 2.0, as soon as you type a few letters into the search field, Firefox lists some suggestions, and usually its first suggestion matches what I want. Amazing! It probably has something to do with how popular the search term is, but still interesting.

RSS is the ability to subscribe to a web site. You end up having a button, sort of like a Favorite or Bookmark, but when clicked on reveals a list of recent entries to the web site. I subscribe to my sister's blog and now finding out if she updated her site is just a click away.

I installed VideoDownloader extension some time ago but never had any use for it. I probably read in some list of 10 Firefox Extensions You Must Have. VideoDownloader makes it easy to save a copy of a video seen on the web, which these days are mostly in Flash format, thanks to YouTube. A friend told me that he liked some old cartoon show on YouTube and would like to have a copy of it on his hard drive but didn't know how to do it. I visited the cartoon clip, clicked on the button that VideoDownloader added to the Firefox window, and clicked on the Get Video button. One more click to confirm that download and off it went. Some time later, I had the entire 50+ MB of the video on my hard drive. Maybe there is something else out there for MS IE 7 to do what VideoDownloader does, but I sure like the way it's implemented in Firefox.

I've joined the marketing group for Firefox , SpreadFirefox.com . I added a Get Firefox button to the sidebar of this blog. If you decide to go with Firefox, use the button to download and I'll get some points with SpreadFirefox. Hopefully enough points will be accumulated to convert into prizes, whatever they are. Happy Firefox Web Surfing!