December 13, 2005
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Last minute holiday gifts
If you haven't gotten around to that one special person on your list, perhaps one of these hot items will be the perfect gift to leave under the tree.

Biometric MouseAPC Biometric Mouse Password Manager
One of the PEs says he's definitely getting one of these. About the only thing that we think could make this a better idea: make it wireless. Allows for up to 20 users and is designed to switch between registered users' desktops.

About $60. - Details here.

Binary clockPowers of 2 Clock
There are 10 kinds of people -- those who will be able to read this clock right off the bat, and those who won't. This is one of those gifts you get for your mother because you think it's cool; just be glad it's not in base 8.

About $20. - Details here.

                  GunMarshmallow Gun
Ever wondered what some of the Page Editors do when they're bored at work and not helping on EE? This should tell you. This fires a standard 1-inch round up to forty feet, and it can also fire several mini-rounds for a shotgun-like effect. There's a companion rapid-fire shooter that won a seal of excellence from Creative Child magazine -- so it's at least safe.

About $30. - Details here.

Swiss Army knifeThe newest Swiss Army knife
Victorinox has built a Swiss Army knife that's just about perfect for any computer user. In addition to the standard blade, nail file and screwdriver, it includes a USB memory stick, mini-flashlight and pencil. Available in 128MB, 256MB, 512MB, and 1GB versions.

As shown, about $200 (1 GB). - Details here.

Alienware Area 51 ALXAlienware Area 51 ALX Desktop
As the kids say, this thing is sick. Dual GPU processors. Liquid cooling. Dual core processing. It even comes with Windows XP Pro as a standard OS. And the case isn't like any other desktop we've ever seen -- we'd put it on top of the desk just so guests can see it.

Starting at $4,900. - Details here.

EULAlyzerJavacool Software EULALyzer 1.1
This is a gift that will keep on giving, and it won't even cost you much. It analyzes those neat End User License Agreements that nobody reads, and will tell you what you're in for if you get caught breaking the rules. It also tells you if the software you're about to install has popups or spyware. There's a "professional" version that costs $20 a year, too.

Free - Details here.

Taking care of business during the holidays

gregoryyoung is the Page Editor for VB.NET and C#. Over the past eight years he has worked in various fields including pari-mutual wagering, drug/law enforcement, point of sale systems, and satellite imagery.

The holiday season offers a particularly difficult time for the IT industry. The office is in a clamor with parties, people trying to get their plans taken care of, and of course, year end deadlines. I can assure you that when people go to sleep on Christmas Eve that it will not be thoughts of pager support dancing in their heads. It can be particularly difficult to manage any processes during this period; while there is no real effective way to mitigate these issues, the holiday season can easily be turned into an opportunity.

The healthy IT department revolves heavily around key knowledge workers who are both the backbone and the brains of the operation. These people are invaluable to the success of the department as a whole and are far from being replaceable. This holiday season why not take the opportunity to further your relationship with these individuals and to help build their loyalty to your organization?

Place yourself into the role of a 20-something year old software engineer or network engineer who could easily work at fifteen different companies in your city. Chances are that salaries are within fifteen to thirty per cent of what you're paying him, but this is rather irrelevant as he probably maintains a reasonably good standard of living. He (or she) stays with your company either out of loyalty to the organization or because he truly enjoys what he is doing. This employee is ideal to recognize.

Christmas Bonus!

While Christmas bonuses are wonderful, they show little care on the part of the organization. This year try something different. Lower the bonus amount by $100 and try spending some time instead. Go and buy each of your employees something that is targeted directly at them as individuals. This gift will go much further in bolstering inter-office and corporate employee relations than the additional $100 in a bonus could possibly do.

You may be saying to yourself, "I don't know these people well enough to get them something personal". That is a sign of a much more severe problem in your organization. Your people are your department's most valuable asset; without them the servers would not run and the code would fall into disarray.

Take the time to know your employees! Is John a football fan? What is John's favorite team or player? A jersey or an autographed item can be the wonderful gift that shows you know John. Does Mary enjoy bicycling on her weekends? What would be useful for her? Is she missing any useful equipment? Perhaps you could get her office friend Ellen to collude with you in finding out!

The point here is to get items the person would probably not get for themselves but would enjoy and to avoid work-related items! IT is one of the most stressful areas in a company and research has shown that many people in IT are more susceptible to health problems. Since your knowledge workers are the life blood of your department, foster stress management through relaxation for them! This is not a zero sum game; it is in both your and the employees' best interest.

Knowledge workers and employers are forced to form a weird symbiotic relationship where everyone can stay happy. Often this entails the worker doing things that he or she may prefer not to, like wearing reasonable dress to the office. It is important to note that the employer is often forced to make some sacrifices in order to foster the creativity and loyalty of these workers in a competitive market. If you don't believe me, take a look at some of the things Google does for its employees.

Oh... and if you happen to be shopping for me *wink*, I enjoy the Baltimore Ravens, deep sea fishing, and of course odd technology bits.

Greg Young

Sony Vaio DLSSony VGX-XL1 Digital Living System
Yes, we've been beating up on Sony for the last few weeks, but this is still pretty cool. Store DVDs and CDs, surf the web, watch television; the page says you can copy CDs, but given Sony's recent history, we're not sure we'd suggest it.

About $2,300. - Details here.

Oakley Thump 2Oakley Thump 2 Sunglasses
One of the PEs said that these make you look like The Governator circa 1984, but they'll hold about 240 songs in 1GB of memory, and the speakers are integrated -- so there are no dangling wires. Also available in 512 and 256 MB versions

About $350. - Details here.

Xbox 360Microsoft Xbox 360
No Christmas list would be complete without Microsoft's latest offering. Reports of problems notwithstanding, the concern about backwards compatibility seems to have been answered, and like anything else, the price will definitely come down.

About $300. - Details here.

PowerbookApple Powerbook G4
One of those other newsletters picked the 15-inch model for one of their holiday lists, but we figure the 17-inch version is at least as good a deal: a bigger monitor (1680x1050 pixels), half again as much disk space for about $500 more -- and it weighs under 7 lbs. and has 5.5 hours of battery life.

About $2,400. - Details here.

Red Vs. BlueRed Vs. Blue Videos
It took us a while to figure out what this was; it's a set of DVDs that use scripts the authors write and then follow to create their own movies using the Halo game engine. We'd say it was too weird except they won the award for Best Independent Machinima at the 2005 Machinima Festival.

About $20 - Details here.

Roomba vacuumThe Roomba DiscoverySE robotic vacuum cleaner
We had this one last year, but it's a good enough product that one of the PEs saw fit to suggest it again this year. The company also builds a floor-washing robot.

As shown, about $300. - Details here.

Sites worth visiting for Christmas Gifts

This is a list of some of the more entertaining sites we've found, if you're looking for a unique holiday gift. Sure, there's Amazon, and eBay, and Barnes & Noble, but these are a lot more fun.

All I want for Christmas

MHenry is the Page Editor for the Macromedia topic areas. He has three kids, which makes him an Expert on the uses of couches.

Every once in a while, you run across something so silly it's just plain fun. Such is the case at

But first, in a preamble sort of way, let's consider the sofa. It is, and ought to be, the most significant piece of furniture you own outside of a bed and maybe a kitchen table. The sofa is critical when entertaining guests as well as an excellent place to stretch out when you are trying to avoid doing the yard work. And outside of a car, it's probably where most of us sat when first snuggling up to a member of the opposite sex.

"Ich bin hier und du bist mein sofa." Not just one, but two songs were written by Frank Zappa appropriately titled Sofa No.1 and Sofa No.2. "I am here, and you are my sofa." "All your sofa are belong to us."

"This is a four thousand dollar sofa upholstered in Italian silk. This is not 'just a couch'," from Annette Bening's character in American Beauty.

I don't think there were any sofa references in Casablanca or Take the Money and Run, but I have people checking into it.

And there you have it. I think I've made an adequate case for considering the sofa in a new light. Which is why you need to visit and view the video presentation of their Interactive Sofa. Editor's Note: Unless you speak German, click English, and then click Projects. It's the first one.

There are several thousand uses for this sofa of which, I can only recall two. First, it will help me keep my New Year's resolution to lose weight. When I'm home, I'm on the sofa most of the time anyway. The interactive Sofa may help me keep more active.

Second, as mentioned above, the sofa is one of the first places we cozy up to the opposite sex. As the father of a 17-year-old daughter, I can see this sofa coming in quite handy. As long as I'm hearing the sound of Pong, I don't have to be worrying about hearing any other sounds.

These guys at Sinua are having way too much fun. It's great to see people enjoying their work so much. I also recommend viewing the video titled "The sensitive carpet." I'm thinking I need one of those for the MiniVan.

Best wishes for the holiday season.

Tip from the Moderators: Be nice all year, not just at Christmas

People disagree on how to do things all the time, not that there's anything wrong with that.

But if you find yourself on the verge of saying something to one of your fellow members because something they've said really yanks your chain, it's time to get up and walk away from the computer. What you don't want to do is get into a knock-down, drag-out fight in a thread.

If you have an issue with another member, then take it to the Community Support topic area and let the Moderators do what they're there for: to moderate the disagreement. Engaging in personal attacks just makes mincemeat of a thread, and detracts from the process of getting an answer for the Asker -- which is what we're all here for.

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Page Two: More News and Notes
Nata's Corner: Two Xmas constants: Guests and phish

woman in specticalsThere are two things that are constants at this time of the year: guests, and phishing attempts. The old joke says that guests are like fish -- after three days they stink -- but the P-H phish stinks a lot worse. My other half and I each got an email, supposedly from eBay, last week. They were both attempts to phish, but they're a little unique, so beware.

Mine appeared to be a complaint lodged by someone to whom I had supposedly sold something, but hadn't delivered it. I've never tried to sell anything through eBay, but that's beside the point. What's important is that the email appeared to be legitimate -- all the links were in places you'd expect them to be. But when you moused over the links, you could see that they linked to an IP address somewhere that was definitely not eBay.

My husband's was even more sneaky. If you've ever sold anything on eBay, you know that a potential bidder can write to you and ask a question. Well, this question was about a Pioneer Plasma TV he supposedly has for sale (no wonder, since one wouldn't fit in our living room anyway). If you click on any link, you wind up at what looks like eBay's login page, and almost all of the links go to the actual eBay pages. But if you actually "log in", you wind up sending your username and password to some yokel in Louisiana.

Which brings up something I saw the other day. A study by AOL (go figure) and the National Cyber Security Alliance (whoever they are) says that one of every four computer users gets hit by a phishing attempt each month. Doh!. What's really scary is that seventy per cent of the people surveyed thought the scam attempts were from legitimate companies.

No doubt all of this is good news to computer repair people everywhere.

Inside the numbers
ameba, one of EE's prominent Experts, provides us with a list of newly earned Certificates. His list of all of the Certified Experts is located at his site. The list below covers the period from November 27 through December 11.
Expert Certified in Topic Area
BlueDevilFan dlwyatt82 matthewspatrick osmodean MrManderson Kevin3NF Steven_W udayshankar wstuph NicksonKoh aplimedia lem2802 marchiano DrewKjell mppeters keith_alabaster CajunBill ylandrum lazarus98 gonzal13 frize DeltaFire elbereth21 Sage Master Master Master Master Wizard Master Master Master Master Master Guru Master Master Master Master Master Master Master Master Master Master Master Visual Basic Visual Basic Visual Basic Visual Basic Visual Basic Microsoft SQL Microsoft SQL Microsoft SQL Microsoft SQL ASP ASP ASP.NET ASP.NET ASP.NET ASP.NET Networking Networking Networking Networking Windows XP Windows XP Windows XP Windows 2000
Expert Certified in Topic Area
carrzkiss mightyone dstanley9 jaime_olivares marc_nivens JWCastile Erick37 awking00 oBdA emoreau SunBow PraxisWeb julianmatz RQuadling iamanindian dbkruger cwwkie jimmy282 Zoppo CyanBlue madgett dmitryz6 blue_zee Master Master Guru Master Sage Master Wizard Master Genius Guru Master Guru Master Guru Master Master Master Guru Wizard Guru Master Master Sage Windows 2000 Java C# C# Exchange_Server Exchange_Server VB.NET Oracle Windows Server 2003 Programming Programming Web Development Web Development PHP PHP C++ C++ ColdFusion MFC Flash Flash Databases Windows 98
Expert Certified in Topic Area
rindi blue_zee mvidas kshitij_ahuja danaseaman todd_farmer Darwinian999 coral47 war1 calvinetter byundt WileECoyote45305 ccomley yuzh sleep_furiously SteveGTR leew tfewster ravenpl hdhondt kg_bang dpiniella jaime_olivares Guru Master Master Master Master Guru Master Master Guru Master Guru Master Master Sage Master Sage Guru Guru Master Wizard Master Master Master Operating Systems Operating Systems MS Office PHP and Databases VB Controls Mysql Storage Storage Windows Security Routers Word Word Firewalls Solaris Apache MS-DOS MS-DOS Unix Linux Prog. Printers Sharepoint FreeBSD Languages
1790 experts have 2934 certifications: Genius:73 Sage:131 Wizard:178 Guru:526 Master:2026
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