Archive for July, 2008

Increasing Wealth Disparity

Friday, July 25th, 2008

From “Cartoons & Short Takes,” The Week, August 1, 2008:

The rich get richer
The wealthiest 1 percent of Americans garnered 22 percent of the national income in 2006, their highest share since 1929, the Internal Revenue Service reported. At the same time, those at the very top of the income pyramid saw their average income tax rate fall to 22.8 percent that year—the lowest tax rate paid by the top 1 percent since 1988.

I’ve been on and off reading Paul Krugman’s The Conscience of a Liberal, and while I’m no fan of liberal morality, I hear and resonate with his basic arguments on economics and taxes and wealth redistribution.  I’m thinking that we need a new party of “Christian Democrats” — not the German kind, but economic liberals that hold to conservative morality.  I feel lost in the current parties.

Messiah Obama

Friday, July 25th, 2008

And it came to pass, in the eighth year of the reign of the evil Bush the Younger (The Ignorant), when the whole land from the Arabian desert to the shores of the Great Lakes had been laid barren, that a Child appeared in the wilderness.

And so begins a rather long, and rather humorous, take on Obama’s world tour, written by Gerard Baker in the London Times.  Most definitely worth the reading, and satirical deconstruction, whatever your political views.

Read it: “He ventured forth to bring light to the world”

And all the people said, “Amen!”

20th Century Slavery in the U.S.

Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

I’m generally aware of what’s going on in the world, so rarely does an article or photo in Newsweek surprise me.  This, however, was very different.  The photo here was so striking, so strong an image that it made me stop — and what I discovered was that this was taken in the 1930s, in a forced labor camp in the South.

Unbeknownst to me, and I’m sure many other Northerners, black and white alike, slavery continued long past the Civil War.  We’re not talking Jim Crow segregation laws.  We’re talking large scale kidnapping and enslavement of black men and boys that lasted into World War II.

Under laws enacted specifically to intimidate blacks, tens of thousands of African Americans were arbitrarily arrested, hit with outrageous fines, and charged for the costs of their own arrests. With no means to pay these ostensible “debts,” prisoners were sold as forced laborers to coal mines, lumber camps, brickyards, railroads, quarries and farm plantations. Thousands of other African Americans were simply seized by southern landowners and compelled into years of involuntary servitude. Government officials leased falsely imprisoned blacks to small-town entrepreneurs, provincial farmers, and dozens of corporations—including U.S. Steel Corp.—looking for cheap and abundant labor. Armies of “free” black men labored without compensation, were repeatedly bought and sold, and were forced through beatings and physical torture to do the bidding of white masters for decades after the official abolition of American slavery.

One of the easiest methods to put the nation’s stain of slavery behind us is to say that it was long ago, that generations have passed and we have no connection to that time.  But while my grandfather was preparing to be sent into WWII (he didn’t go, the war ended), boys his age were being forced into slavery in rock quarries, brick pits, and farms.  That’s the first news to “rock my world” in a long time.

You can hear an audio slideshow at Newsweek’s site, or go to the site for a new book, Slavery by Another Name, by Douglas Blackmon.

Access 2003 combo box displaying blank entries!

Friday, July 11th, 2008

A client’s database suddenly was showing blank entries in dropdown selection boxes (combo boxes), on forms, reports, and even the datasheet.  The data was there, and the combo boxes actually have items and attached values, just no display.  After futzing for a while and googling away, finally discovered that this is a “known issue” with Microsoft Office 2003 Service Pack 3.  One more reason to be shy about service packs, especially the kind that automatically update.  Surprise!

The solution was to remove the “Format” property for the fields in the combo box.  An alterative, from Microsoft, is to use the SQL query for the combo box to append a blank string to the string value (thus ignoring the Access field Format property).

KB945280 — Combo box controls and list box controls display no value or incorrect values in Access 2003 after you install Office 2003 Service Pack 3

Microsoft also issued a hot-fix for Access issues post SP3, which I haven’t tried yet, but it’s supposed to fix this problem.

KB945674 — Description of the Access 2003 post-Service Pack 3 hotfix package: December 18, 2007

C’est la vie.

Force Firefox 3 to Refresh a Dynamic Page

Thursday, July 10th, 2008

Firefox has for a long time kept form variables in memory when the user clicked reload, or navigated away and then clicked the back button.  Filling hidden form fields with old data from the cache is a really bad idea if you ask me, and I needed to force a refresh.

Usually, I’d use the meta tags to tell the browser not to cache the page, but Firefox 3 seems to ignore them entirely, and will continue to cache and load from the cache.  Wonderful.

Solution for now is to set the following HTTP headers (seen here in ColdFusion code):

<cfheader name="Cache-Control" 
    value="max-age=0, no-cache, no-store, must-revalidate">
<cfheader name="Pragma" 
    value="no-cache">
<cfheader name="Expires" 
    value="Wed, 11 Jan 1984 05:00:00 GMT">

NB: The order of the headers seems to be important!  You can find a good discussion and test results on MozillaZine’s forums.

Enable Remote Desktop Remotely

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

This one is well discussed across the web, but I can never find what I’m looking for when I need it.  So this one is for my reference, and if it helps anybody else — all the better.

Enable remote desktop in the remote registry.

  1. Run Regedit
  2. Select File | Connect Network Registry
  3. Enter the name of the remote computer and select Check Names
  4. Go to hklm\system\currentcontrolset\control\terminal server\FdenyTSConnection
  5. Change the FdenyTSConnection to 0

Steps above found at tech-recipes.
There is also a utility at IntelliAdmin that will do these steps for you.

Make a hole in the firewall on the remote machine.

  1. Get PSTools from Microsoft. We need the psexec utility.
  2. At a command prompt, run the following: psexec remotecomputer cmd

    netsh firewall set portopening protocol=TCP port=3389 name=TS mode=ENABLE profile=DOMAIN

Summary information from Misha Shneerson.
Another option (disabling the firewall entirely) at TechRepublic.

Presidential Horse Doody

Thursday, July 3rd, 2008

Some people have been complaining for years about the quantity of horse poo shoveled by the Bush administration.  The constant question is, where does he come up with all of it?  After extensive historical research, I am finally able to answer the question:

This is from an 1875 atlas of Philadelphia, at 15th and Columbia Ave.  This is now the home of Temple University — I’ll refrain from the jokes about fertil(izing) young minds…

Programmer by day, graphic designer by night

Tuesday, July 1st, 2008

One of the cool things about being part of a small church is that you get to try your hand at a million different things.  Way back in 1991 (when I was 13), my grandfather and I spent many days together making commemorative newsletters for our church’s 100th Anniversary.  In that primitive era of desktop computing, cut and paste involved real rubber cement and a good pair of scissors, but it taught me a lot about layout and spacing and text.

Over the years, home-grown publishing has been a fun hobby of mine, and I’m often enlisted to do fliers and retreat brochures and other random stuff.  And while much of my work is on very short notice and doesn’t exhibit the qualities of “professional design,” I have enjoyed the ability to hone my skills as an amateur graphic designer.

My latest project is an pew envelope for visitors.  I wanted to use the elements of my design for Wyoming’s website header to have a consistent look, and you can see how it turned out.  Next up… business cards.  Comments welcome!