Saturday, May 13, 2006

Free icons for developers

I came across a great site today that has an immense collection of free, quality icon images that developers can use in their projects. The Silk collection is really cool!

They are published with a Creative Commons license, so as long as you give the guy credit and include a link to his site in your about box, you are free to use them any way you wish in your projects, including making derivative works of them.

They are in .png format but they can be easily converted to .bmp or .ico.

How can you go wrong?

So head on over to FamFamFam and check them out!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Universal carding, stupid store policies, and raising responsible kids

I am not against universal carding, but where it isn't law, I have a problem with isolated stores making it a policy of carding people that are obviously old enough to purchase a given product and this policy isn't universally enforced by all employees at all times and isn't posted in any visible place for customers to see.

As an example I will use an incident that occured about a year or 2 ago:

My husband usually picks me up a pack of cigarettes on his way home from work because he can get them cheaper near his job than I can get them here. One night he had some car trouble and he called me at about midnight to say he was going to be a bit late coming home. Then at about 2 am he called again to tell me that he wasn't coming home at all and to go get my own cigarettes. By that hour there was only one place in town still open where I could buy some.

Now I don't drive, so I had to walk a few miles in the freezing cold to get to Wallgreens. The front register was down, so the manager handed me a pack of cigarettes ant told me to go pay for them at the pharmacy counter.

I have purchased my cigarettes at Wallgreens before and have never been carded. I am well over 18 years of age, and well over the age of manditory carding, which in my state is anyone under the age of 27. In fact, I was never carded for a cigarette purchase in my life till that night.

The pharmacist refused to sell me a pack of cigarettes without ID on the grounds that I looked under 40 to him. And he wasn't about to make an exception and wanted me to walk miles back home, get some ID and walk miles back and present it to him. Mind you it was like under 20F that night.

Rather than walking all the way back home and then all the way back, I decided to kill time and wander the aisles and do a bit of shopping. i figured if I killed enough time QuickCheck might be open when I decided to walk back home. And if they were I'd buy cigarettes and a nice hot cup of coffee to warm me up.

Well, It wasn't my night...

When I got to QuickCheck, they should have been open but weren't yet. Somebody decided not to show up for work, and it's their company policy not to open the store unless there are at least 2 employees on the premises. So i couldn't get my cigarettes...or a damn cup of coffee. And it was really cold.

I ended up 'killing time' there too...lol.

By the time I found a place open to buy a pack of cigarettes, it was 7 am and I was around the corner from my house.

Now some of you may say I wouldn't have gone through any of this if I didn't smoke, and I am not going to argue with you about that, and it's not the real point here. And you might even say I should have had ID on me any way even if I didn't think I was going to need it, but that isn't the point either.

The point is, if it is Walgreens policy to card anybody under 40,which differs from state law, it should have been enforced at all times...and some sort of sign somewhere stating that. If that had been the case, I would have been fully aware of their rules ages ago, and definately before I left home and would have brought my ID with me...or not bothered to leave my house till the store around the corner was open.

So now it looks like Tennesee will have manditory carding for all places that sell beer. They think carding 90 year olds will keep teens from buying beer. but since they aren't going to have manditory carding for places that don't sell beer, I think that teens will either get some adult to buy their beer like they do in NJ, or they will start switching to hard liquor & wine where thye have a better chance of not being carded.

Teens will get booze no matter what you do. If they want it bad enough they will find a way.

Take my dad for instance. He started drinking at a very young age. An age that nobody would have sold him anything...age 11.

So what did he do? He built his own still and made his own hooch. Where there is a will there is a way. You can't stop youth when they have made their minds up to destroy themselves. You have to intervene long before that. And I place that responsibility on parents and how they raise their children.

My own daughter, despite having friends that drank and got high, wasn't one of them that got involved in it...she was the anti-peer pressure of her group. With her around, not only was she not drinking, but she had the effect of slowing down thier self destruction and keeping them out of trouble. At least 2 of her friends quit smoking because of pressure from her. She had the nickname of 'Mom'. Other parents knew how she was and worried less about their kids if they were with her.

My daughter finally did start drinking...at age 19, and I don't see a problem with it since she technically an adult and out of school and doesn't drive. The age 21 law was enacted in order to cut down on teenage accidents as a result of drunk driving...which she can't do...and to keep kids from being drunk in school...which she can't do either.

I think if all parents raised their kids and taught them how to make decisions that were good for them, and taught their kids how to think, that the drinking age would never have been raised from 18 to 21 and manditory carding would be unnecessary.

Why is it countries like France don't have the problems we do in the US with alcohol? In France, kids drink wine with dinner...it's no big deal to them...no thrill to go booze it up. If something isn't 'forbidden fruit' it doesn't appeal to a rebellious teen looking to break the rules.

Take away the 'forbidden fruit' factor and a teen is going to have to really think hard to find something to rebel with. For my daughter, who was taught how to properly think, and to take responsibility for her actions, the 'forbidden fruit' was having a messy room...and wearing the most insane clothing combinations. (red & white polka dotted skirt with green & black striped tights and a flannel shirt and purple wig) OK, so she would have been arrested by the fashion police...but that's better than being arrested by the real police.

Maybe I missed my calling...maybe I should have been writing books on how to raise kids. But the parents that would need most to read them aren't the type that buy books on parenting.

Maybe I should write that book any way and sell it on lulu.com. Call it How to raise an intelligent, responsible child that won't make you want to rip your hair out. If I sell it for $5 a copy in .pdf format, would you buy it? If I get enough 'yes' responses, I'll write it. I really will.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Does your OS define your worth as a human being?

Linux lovers are like those guys that go to a football game in the middle of winter with no shirt on, and their bodies painted in their fav team's colors. Would you want to say something bad about their team where they can hear it? Would you want to say something good about the other team?

I am not talking about a normal person that can see the merits & faults in either OS and can use either one for themselves depending on the circumstances. I am not talking about people that are sane & 'normal' Linux users. I am referring to the guys that think everyone should be using Linux, Microsoft should be blown off the earth, and if you don't like it or can't figure Linux out, you should stfu and get rid of your pc.

They think if you say you don't like Linux that you don't like them, too. They identify with their OS just a bit too much. They have a habit of getting into very heated Linux arguments with Windows users and Windows programmers. Somehow they believe that your operating system defines who you are...not merely what you prefer to use.

Nobody's value as a human being should be rated based on an operating system installed on their pc.

Linux users are not the only ones that do this though. I have seen a great many Windows programmers do the same thing when referring to Windows 9x users. Somehow they think that people that still use Windows 98se or Windows ME are less human than those that can afford newer computers, or afford to upgrade. And they think that these people are less in need of quality software that will run on their systems.

Is their money less green than an XP user? I don't seem to think so. And it's not that hard to support an older OS. It's not unacceptable to detect an OS and disable features in software that will not work on that OS. And it's not unacceptable to provide an alternative or features that will only work on 9x and disabling them for NT users.

Just because Microsoft decided that it will no longer support 9x it doesn't mean that 9x will suddenly disappear off the earth. There are still a great many computers out there that can't run newer OS's...their hardware doesn't allow it. Slow processors, lack of RAM, drivers not available...lots of reasons not to upgrade.

And just because someone does buy a new PC that doesn't mean that they will be tossing the old one in the trash. I moved my old pc to my kitchen and plan on putting a recipe database on it...if I can find suitable software to run on it. Older software may not be an option for me, as most older versions have been replaced with newer versions that forget about people like me. Newer versions are not an option because most think you are running a Pentium 4 with at least 256mb of RAM, and Windows XP. My only alternative may be to code it myself...meaning that it will probably be years before I have what I want.

I am going to make sure that my software I create will work on that old pc...for people like me that still have an old hunk of 'junk'. I promise that to you for as long as that old pc still runs. I will not define your human worth based on your OS.

Unofficial Windows ME Service Pack

Some guys over as MSFN are working on an unofficial service pack for WinME. When completed, it will allow users of that version of windows to have a system as stable as my WinME system...maybe even better than mine.

These guys know what they are doing and are dedicated to this project and making it as near perfect as possible.

It's still in development but there should be a release candidate soon.

And these guys are thinking of everything...even a WMF patch added! (an issue our 'friends' at Microsoft seem to want to ignore and/or deny the need for)

http://www.msfn.org/board/index.php?showtopic=61407

StopWatch

I have been spending a lot of time over at DonationCoder.com.

They have this great 'coding snacks' forum where visitors can request small utility programs and volunteers will create them. It's a great way to get project ideas, or kill a bit of time doing what you know you love to do...code stuff.

Someone there requested a stopwatch with a global hotkey to control it. They wanted it to either always stay on top or be able to be minimized to the system tray.

Since I had already done a stopwatch like this, all it needed was the addition of a global hotkey and the request would be filled...so that's what I did.

stopwatch

The hotkey is Ctrl-Shift-F9.

Hitting this will start/pause/resume, depending on the current state of the clock.
This will even work to control the stopwatch if it is minimized to the tray.

Enjoy!

Download: StopWatch

comments & suggestions welcomed

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Translator Boomerang

Over on DonationCoder.com, mouser just released a new version of Translation Boomerang. This uses Google's free web-based translation service to translate a statement or word into up to 9 languages and back to English. If you have never heard of it or used it, it's a must try program.

This is not a serious translator...it's quite funny!

The following is the output, step by step, from English to each language and back to English, for 5 loops. The first line is my original English phrase. The last line is the farthest thing from the first that I could have imagined.

Available for wild sex.
================================================
Available for wild sex.
================================================
Available for the wild sex.
================================================
Available for the wild sex.
================================================
Available for the wild sex.
================================================
Land available for sex.
================================================
The land which can be utilized because of characteristic.
================================================
The ground it could be used because of quality.
================================================
Because it can use local quality.
================================================
Because it can use local quality.
================================================
Because it can use local quality.
================================================
Since it can employ local quality.
================================================
Since it can employ the local quality.
================================================
Since that it can use the local quality.
================================================
It can be used to the local quality.
================================================
As for that it can use for local quality.
================================================
The tube printed style of writing hazard it will be able to use a local quality to that.
================================================
Editorial dangerous pipeline to India using local quality.
================================================
Editorial dangerous piping to India with local quality.
================================================
Publishing dangerous pipe to India with local quality.
================================================
Dangerous pipe of edition towards India with local quality.
================================================
Dangerous tube of the edition towards India with local quality.
================================================
Dangerous pipe of the edition for India with local quality.
================================================
The risk of pipeline quality of the local edition of India.
================================================
Danger of quality of pipeline of the Indian local section.
================================================
Question danger of pipeline of humane local profile.
================================================
Charities pipelines, may local image.
================================================
Next dear ear lines, know local picture.
================================================
The considered following lines of the ear, know the picture local.
================================================
Considered afterwards lines of the ear, know people of the country of image.
================================================
The lines later on considered of the ear, know people of the country of the image.
================================================
The lines later in the considered one of the ear, know peoples of the country of the image.
================================================
Lines later in one ear, and knows people in a country profile.
================================================
With one ear later as for line, knowing people of profile of country.
================================================
In the line the tube printed style of writing or is knowing 1 return route and the people of the profile of the nation in.
================================================
The Bank is one of the editorial was printed circuit and the people of the whole country's image.
================================================
The bank is the editorial was print plate and the people of the complete picture of the country.
================================================
The bank is the publishing one was plate of the impression and the people of the complete picture of the country.
================================================
The bank is of edition was flat impression and people of the complete image of the country.
================================================
The bank is of the edition was flat impression and people of the complete image of the country.
================================================
The bank is of the edition was smooth impression and person of the complete image of the country.
================================================
Bank of Edition impression smooth and full picture of a country.
================================================
Edition impression of the country being smooth, the bank of complete image.
================================================
The impression which the smooth nation sells, the bank of the image which is complete.
================================================
Impression of a national marketing, banking image is completed.