22 May 2007

Portable Applications

I know that some of us at one time or another have needed to access commonly used programs, files or settings, but we weren't at our own computer. It can be frustrating and wasteful, not to mention you may not be able to get something done that you had hoped to. Well, welcome to the stage PortableApps.com.

Their trademark of "Your digital life, anywhere" really states what they are trying to accomplish. They have taken popular opensource/freeware programs and made them executable from a thumb/flash drive, within a polished interface that really keeps everything simple and easy.

This is just my own personal review of the product and not a paid advertisement. I felt compelled to write about the program because after I have tried it, I found it extremely useful. My work does not allow me to install my own programs for security reasons, so this program fits my needs wonderfully.

With my computer at work, I am stuck using Internet Explorer (which I loathe!) and now with PortableApps, I am able to run Firefox and have all my bookmarks available where ever I go. I'm also able to access my email with Thunderbird, edit a picture with the GIMP photo suite, and access my home FTP server all with this great program.

The best part about it is that it leaves no "footprint" behind when you are finished. No cookies, temporary files or downloads. When you are done, you just close it out and unplug your drive. It really works best if you have a drive that is at least 1GB, although you can trim down the programs and be able to use a 512MB drive as well. Right now I'm using slightly over 512MB of my 1GB drive and I use the rest for my files.

If you travel a lot, switch computers frequently, or have an office with strict computer policies, this program really opens up a lot of options for you. Give the program a try and let me know your thoughts on it. I really think you'll enjoy it!

07 May 2007

Greensburg, KS Tornado

The town of Greensburg, KS is located just over 100 miles west of Wichita on Highway 54. On the night of May 4th, the residents of the town were slammed by a tornado rated as an EF-5. The Enhanced Fujita Scale represents a scale of the strength of tornadoes. The enhanced scale was implemented just this year and is a revision of the original Fujita Scale which was developed in 1971. The tornado that ravaged Greensburg is the first recorded EF-5 tornado.

Officials estimated that over 95% of the town was destroyed with ten deaths recorded so far after the town received winds in excess of 200 mph. The Kansas National Guard was sent in to provide security and now has 40 soldiers and 12 airmen providing security. Unfortunately, four soldiers from Fort Riley were caught looting from a store in the town. Those soldiers have been detained and will be administered their punishment at a later date.

Today was the first day the residents of Greensburg were allowed back into the town. Most all did not have much to come back to as the town was almost completely destroyed. As such, Governor Kathleen Sebelius requested a federal Disaster Declaration from the President and it was granted yesterday.

I can't imagine what it would be like to suddenly lose my home and my possessions. I'm not saying that I treasure these things above my life, but it still brings you to a very low point. These residents have been left with nothing but memories as they didn't have time to prepare for this disaster.

Please keep your thoughts and prayers with the residents of this small town. Pray for their strength, comfort and support. They have gone through a lot and can use all the support they can get. If you are looking to help support the effort, there are a couple of agencies that can assist you.


American Red Cross

KWCH (numerous listed)

God bless all of those who have been affected by this tornado and I pray for you.

06 May 2007

New Earth

I'm always a fan of science fiction. So when I heard that scientists had possibly located an "Earth-like" planet, I was immediately excited. While I know that we don't have the means to reach the planet, the mere thought of having another habitable planet was intriguing.

The planet, which is named Gliese 581 C, is located in the Libra constellation, 20.5 light years away. For the "un-nerdy" out there, 20.5 light years means that it would take us over 20 years to get to the planet if we were traveling at the speed of light. As we all know, we have not even perfected going to our own moon, let alone anything outside of our solar system.

What amazed me was the way the planet was discovered. It was not found in the traditional sense that most people think of astronomy. They used a sensitive instrument to identify a planet's signature tugging on the gravitational field of a star. To me it sounds like a plausible way to locate a planet, but how can they be so sure it would be habitable? According to scientists, they take the type of star that the planet is orbiting and are able to calculate the amount of heat that the star gives off and at what distance a planet would have to be to make it habitable for Humans.

Gliese 581 C is about 1.5 times bigger than Earth and orbits around its star in 13 days. Scientists believe that this planet has great potential to hold liquid water to sustain life. Already this has been seen as a target for NASA's Terrestrial Planet Finder, a space based program to locate planets of interest; unfortunately, the program is about a decade away from reality.

I wish that we had the means to explore this planet already. Space and distant planets has always had a certain allure. Maybe it will be possible for me to live long enough to see long distance space travel, although I doubt it. I'll just have to settle for Star Trek.

03 May 2007

Air Force SSgt in Playboy

I suppose I am a little behind the times in posting this, but as they always say, it is better late than never. I really just wanted an opportunity to voice my opinion on the subject. I feel that a lot of people have thought her punishment was unjust and unnecessary.

For those of you that are even farther behind the times than I am, I am blogging about an Air Force Staff Sergeant that chose to pose for Playboy while she was still serving on Active Duty. She was relieved of her Training Instructor (T.I.) duty and reduced in rank to Senior Airman (SrA).

Michelle Manhart believe that she has done nothing wrong and is only enjoying the liberties and freedoms that she helps protect. That sounds well and good, but there are some things that she is not taking into consideration. When you sign up for the Armed Forces, you are essentially giving up some of your own rights to protect those very rights of others. You are held to a creed and as for the Air Force, a set of core values.

The core values of Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence in All We Do, are not just words that are repeated to sound like a great tag line. They are values to be upheld and honored. When Michelle took it upon herself to pose for Playboy, she relinquished her authority above others as she did not uphold the image of a military member. Possibly, if she hadn't posed in uniform (and it not been publicized), I could see a far lesser punishment.

Playboy knew what it was doing. They knew that there would be a huge controversy over a Air Force female posing in the magazine. They may have even pushed her into doing it by giving her false promises. They knew that with the controversy that the sales of their magazine would shoot through the roof...and they did.

My personal thoughts on the matter are that she should have known the consequences of her actions (probably did). As such, if she valued her career in the Air Force, she should have refused the offer from Playboy to pose. After serving 13 years in the military, she would have been well aware of the outcome. She has been in long enough to remember when another military member posed for Playboy. It was a lieutenant in the Navy who was forced from her commission after posing for the nude magazine. I wish I could remember her name. I tried a quick google, but could not find it.

To close this up, I believe that Michelle Manhart knew what she was doing and that it could potentially end her career in the Air Force. I think she gambled with her career and lost, something that I would be so quick to try. Hopefully she doesn't regret what she has done, because this recognition will not last long, and she'll be wondering why she threw away her career for a bit of cash.

Nude Pictures (NSFW)