Wednesday, March 31, 2004

I believe you can't appreciate real life till you've been burned

Emotions are very relative. How do you know if you're truly happy? It's difficult to know until you understand what sadness can feel like. How do you know if you're truly at peace? It's difficult if you've never had to worry. One must experience suffering before one can experience true joy. The question is how you deal with your suffering before you are able to transition to joy.

I believe forgiveness is the key to your unhappiness...

I believe in love surviving death into eternity....

Monday, March 29, 2004

In Memory of Cecilia Zhang

RIP
Received this today from a friend on my contact list. Follow suit if you wish.
Yesterday Morning 9 year old Cecilia Zhang's body was found in Missasauga ravine. Please put a capital C at the beginning of your name to show your respect>>pass this on to everyone online
Do I really need to comment on the state of our society? I think everyone knows. I am lucky here in Canada. It's a lot worse and much more frequent in other nations around the world. Part of me would rather be there to assist in making a difference where it's needed most. We shall see where my path in life leads me.


Woman reacts to death sentence for drug charges June 26, 2003. Posted by Hello
The above picture is of a woman who was sentenced to death and immediately executed on drug charges in China. The justice process in China sucks, to say the least. Quoted from an Amnesty International article on capital punishment in China:
Trials and the process of appeal are often summary. Furthermore, there is no independence of the judiciary in China. The ruling Chinese Communist Party influences the judicial process at every level of proceedings with courts in particular being monitored and run by Party bodies.
Political pressure on the judicial process is particularly acute during officially designated "strike hard" campaigns, where police, prosecutors and judges are under pressure to demonstrate speed and resolve at the expense of rigour and justice.
What they do to various partisan groups is sick. Given the above political pressure and influence, is it any surprise that people seem to get jailed and executed without just cause?

So I have saved the above picture to my harddrive as a permanent reminder of how much this world sucks. And as a permanent reminder to myself that I have made a vow that I will do what I can about it, God-willing. My resolve to get into a 3rd-world aid organization, some sort of enablement activity (with MSI!), or whatever is that much stronger now. Oh, and we'll have to have an extremely good reason to miss out volunteering at the Community of Hope street mission again on Saturdays.

The only question that comes back is... what can I do? Nothing. But whatever I can do will be good enough, God can do the rest.
Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear. For your hands are stained with blood, your fingers with guilt. Your lips have spoken lies, and your tongue mutters wicked things. No one calls for justice; no one pleads his case with integrity. They rely on empty arguments and speak lies; they conceive trouble and give birth to evil. They hatch the eggs of vipers and spin a spider's web. Whoever eats their eggs will die, and when one is broken, an adder is hatched. Their cobwebs are useless for clothing; they cannot cover themselves with what they make. Their deeds are evil deeds, and acts of violence are in their hands. Their feet rush into sin; they are swift to shed innocent blood. Their thoughts are evil thoughts; ruin and destruction mark their ways. The way of peace they do not know; there is no justice in their paths. They have turned them into crooked roads; no one who walks in them will know peace. So justice is far from us, and righteousness does not reach us. We look for light, but all is darkness; for brightness, but we walk in deep shadows. Like the blind we grope along the wall, feeling our way like men without eyes. At midday we stumble as if it were twilight; among the strong, we are like the dead. We all growl like bears; we moan mournfully like doves. We look for justice, but find none; for deliverance, but it is far away. For our offenses are many in your sight, and our sins testify against us. Our offenses are ever with us, and we acknowledge our iniquities: rebellion and treachery against the Lord, turning our backs on God, formenting oppression and revolt, uttering lies our hearts have conceived. So justice is driven back, and righteousness stands at a distance; truth has stumbled in the streets, honesty cannot enter. Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey.
From Isaiah 59
The logic behind why turning one's back on God causes evil in this world is a discussion for another day.... Suffice it to say that it's not as simple as it would seem. But here's to making a difference, even the smallest of differences.
A man was walking along the beach as the tide was out. He saw a little boy picking up starfish and throwing them into the ocean. He asked the boy, "What are you doing? There are so many starfish on this beach. You're not making any difference here!" The boy stopped and thought for a moment. Then he reached down, picked up a starfish, and threw it into the ocean. Then he turned to the man and said, "It made a difference for that one." ~Anonymous

Love is the Elixir and Poison of Life

Having done extensive study over the past four months on the composition of relationships, how they work, what makes them long-lasting, and why they get destroyed, I have to say that this recent article I found on iamnext is one of the better summaries I've ever seen: Five Reasons Why Couples Break Up. I considered it a fair read. However, the best study ever has to be the one we went through in our guys small group. Tom Nelson and Song of Solomon. Highly recommended for anyone that's serious about looking to commit to something long-term. He was very detailed into why long-lasting relationships are long-lasting and, on the flip side, why relationships fall apart. We went through a video study. But if you can't get the video study, get the book at least.

Not that it matters to me at all, since I'm now planning on being single for the rest of my life.... Famous last words, people say. But whatever the future holds, it's still quite interesting to study. Heh, if I could start all over again, I might even consider studying psychology for my degree, in the effort to become a counselor of some sort.

But while love may be the elixir of life, the snowy slopes of Whistler Blackcomb come pretty close. Went skiing yesterday with friends, thanks to an annual Telus event. Well, only Ian and I skied... everyone else snowboarded. But the slopes were fantastic. The snow was fresh and firm powder, while the scenery and views were amazing. But skiing through fog so thick that you can only see 10 feet in front of you is also very nice. I am seriously considering purchasing my own ski equipment this summer (when it's cheap!) and then getting a season's pass to Whistler for the next coming winter.

Following is a list of web comics that are also recommended. :) These are the ones that I have been regularly reading (or on and off).

MegaTokyo: The one that started my interest
Mac Hall: Ah, geeky college life
Tsunami Channel: So cute
Wish^3: Cool story
Apple Geeks: Started out as a Mac Hall clone, it seemed to me, but has developed its own style
Winter: A story of apocalyptic times
Ponju: Cute pig and girl, but updates have tailed off... :(
Alpha Shade: Has recently caught my eye, and the art is fantastic

Of course, there are many more, but I can't remember them for now. Suffice it to say that if I can't remember them off the bat like that, I must not read them as often. But they are still worth reading. Man, the quality in webcomics is so high these days. Wish I could draw....

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Conquer Your Fear

Went skiing today for the first time in a LONG time (what's it been, three years?). Went to Cypress. It was enjoyable. But on those slopes, I experienced a revelation. Sometimes, if you're scared of something, the only way to go forward is to face your fear head-on and conquer it.

There were times when I was going fast enough for me to lose confidence in my ability to turn and avoid crashing into trees or falling off a cliff. When that happened, I chose to fall down, to stop myself and start again at a more controlled pace. But how does that improve my abilities? How is that skiing?

Finally, I vowed that I would not fall down no matter how fast I went and would instead attempt to brake, control my speed, and make the turn. It was exhilerating to be sure, but a more important thing happened. I broke my limits. I conquered my fear. I gained confidence. I tackled those stupidly easy green runs and made it all the way down without falling.

How many boundaries have I placed on myself these last few months that I'm unable to do even the simplest things? How is it that my confidence has been so low that I can't think I'm capable of doing what I want to do? Why was I afraid?

Moving forward. Now I will conquer these fears one by one. Whatever force imposed them on me (my subconscience? other people's words? something else?) will no longer have any hold on me. No more running. No more falling to avoid things. It's amazing the inspiration one can get from a day of skiing... You know, I might even accept that nomination after all... We'll see. From the soundtrack of one of my all-time favourite movies, Transformers the Movie. Still quite possibly the best American-produced cartoon of all time. :)

Dare
Artist: Stan Bush
Writers: Vince DiCola, Scott Shelly
Producers: Vince Dicola, Richie Wise
Arranger: Vince DiCola
Engineers: Tony Papa, Jamey Dell

Sometimes when your hopes have all been shattered
And there's nowhere to turn
You wonder how you keep going
Think of all the things that really mattered
And the chances you've earned
The fire in your heart is growing
You can fly, if you try leaving the past behind
Heaven only knows what you might find

Dare - dare to believe you can survive
You hold the future in your hand
Dare - dare to keep all of your dreams alive
It's time to take a stand
And you can win, if you dare

Everybody's trying to break your spirit
Keeping you down
Seems like it's been forever
But there's another voice if you'll just hear it
Saying it's the last round
Looks like it's now or never
Out of the darkness you stumble into the light
Fighting for the things you know are right

Dare - dare to believe you can survive
The power is there at your command
Dare - dare to keep all of your dreams alive
It's time to take a stand
And you can win, if you dare

Dare - dare to believe you can survive
You hold the future in your hand
Dare - dare to keep all of your dreams alive
The power is there at your command
Dare - dare to keep all your love alive
Dare to be all you can be
Dare - 'cause there is a place where dreams survive
And it's calling you on to victory

Friday, March 19, 2004

He had everything taken away...

Job lost his family, wealth, dignity, and pride. Yet he still chose to follow God. Why? So many others don't and instead hate him. But Job didn't. He had quite the interesting understanding on suffering, which many in this world today do not have. It makes no sense. At least, from the outside looking in. Let's post a dissection of Job's thought process next week. But for this week, a song. My heart will choose to say, blessed be your name.

Blessed Be Your Name
By Matt Redman

Blessed Be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful
Where your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be your name

Blessed Be Your name
When I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name

Every blessing you pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in
Still I will say
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be Your name
When the sun's shining down on me
When the world's 'all as it should be'
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

Every blessing you pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in
Still I will say
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord Blessed be your name

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Respect_for_Weinrich++;

Lowlight found this:

Eric Weinrich responded to an idiotic USA Today article:

Columnist wrong, Blues' Weinrich says

Ms. Brennan, as a current player in the league, I took exception to your column ("If NHL vanished, who'd miss it?" March 11) about the NHL. I guess you haven't noticed that the league is in the midst of one of the closest playoff races in its history. I realize as an American that hockey is not as popular as women's golf or bowling, but it is a billion-dollar-a-year-revenue sport, and the fans are still coming. Trust me, as in baseball, people will miss it.

I will definitely not defend Todd Bertuzzi's actions. I feel the same as all people: It was a lack of respect for another player and has no place in sports. I can also tell you that in some 1,000 games as a player, I have only witnessed one incident that was viewed on ESPN's "Greatest Hits," and believe me, it was hard to swallow. In some 80 years of NHL games, less than 10 such incidents have occurred in a very rough sport. Yes, it is 10 too many, and every foul has tarnished the game.

For the league to get a comparable TV deal in the next bargaining agreement, these types of infractions must be eliminated or dealt with in the harshest of manners. Bertuzzi will suffer the ultimate pain of missing the rest of the season but also the reminder of his actions for at least the rest of his career. Playing against him is no fun, but he is not a goon and does not have that reputation. But now he will be labeled as a menace by every media person on the continent.

My real issue with your column was the people you talked to about the incident. I'm very disappointed in the response by USA Hockey's spokesman. His assessment of what happened and how it will relate to young players is blown way out of scale. Will you see a youngster chasing down an opponent and hitting him? Not a chance. And if you do, how have the parents or youth hockey organizations failed to help players understand the severity of these actions?

Of course we are role models. But when kids see Britney Spears smoking or partying, do they automatically believe that is the right thing to do?

I respect Mike Eruzione as much as all American-born kids, and I still believe that (1980 Olympic hockey) game may be the greatest sports moment in history. But his reference to international hockey just doesn't apply.

I played in the Olympics and in many world championships. I think I may have the most international games for a U.S.-born player. I know about these types of tournaments. They only last about two weeks, with no more than 10 games. It is intense, and every game means something as does almost every play and penalty. Also, the majority of the players are European and play in far less physical leagues with far less physical players. There are fights, but they are few and far between.

The physical style of play does not work well on Olympic-size ice because finishing a check takes you out of the play too often. Any fight results in a game suspension, and most players don't risk the chance of missing one game because of the short length of the tournament. Maybe this would deter NHL players from fighting as much if they instituted a rule like this but with more games added.

People often overlook retribution that takes place in other sports. In baseball, there are far more bench-clearing brawls than in the past. How do these start? Beanballs or "brush-back" pitches. When I hear that a pitcher says he lost control of a pitch, I find that hard to believe when he can hit a spot late in the game at any time. When he throws at a player, the next inning the opposing pitcher throws at one of their guys. This is the code in baseball.

How often do you see quarterbacks being drilled into the ground by 300-pound linemen? Ask them if they let up on a quarterback or are they trying to knock them out of the game.

In a culture where WWE is more popular than the skill presented on a hockey rink, I agree sport as theater, like wrestling, may show better. It is sad to me that failure and misfortune, deserving or not, lead the stories in most media outlets. I'm embarrassed that this is what sells in the culture I live in. This is why Miracle is received so well by athletes, because it is a story of accomplishment, not failure.

Bertuzzi is sorry. I believe him. He is paying a major price for a major infraction. We all pray for a quick recovery for Steve Moore. Will something like this ever happen again in hockey? The chances are that it will, because the game is so fast and the players are so strong, things will happen, tempers will flare.

Of course I am biased, and I think all you have to do is watch a game live to understand the excitement of hockey. In the future I hope you can talk to players, and I am confident you will get a different perspective. Let's hope it doesn't take another for a response like mine. I'd rather read about some of the more enlightening stories you have reported on in the past.

- Eric Weinrich, St. Louis Blues

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Dissection of a Man's Wish

What goes through a guy's mind when he courts a woman? Well, there are several types of people, of course. You have your brash, confident, players that get what they want. They target whoever they want, whenever they want, and go for the kill. You have your bashful, clumsy oafs who have no idea what they are doing, nor how to talk with the women that they shyly watch. And then you have everything in between.

This song is an interesting case study because the man should most likely be classified as timid. He makes a promise to the girl and tells her how he can take care of her. However he lacks the confidence to say anything with a guarantee. It is only a dream. At the same time, this dream has implicit emotions disclosed in the arrangement of his argument; they betray him and ironically show how he actually needs her to help him. He desires to give a guarantee, but his inability to do so is shown through his request that he receive a guarantee. The questions are asked and requests for guarantees are made in the verses before he can make his own guarantees the theme of the song in the chorus.

What we have here is confusion and irrationality mixed into one desire for a soulmate. He wants to be the knight in shining armour that saves the damsel in distress, but in fact knows that getting intertwined with her heart actually requires action on her part, not his own. The part of the song that manifests this fact the most is the singer's voice. Melancholy and unsure of himself, he sounds defeated and desperate even before he can make the promise. With the crescendo and climax, he is only making one last-ditch effort to explain himself and fails to become the strong figure and pillar of support that he hopes to be. His unsure soft echo at the end of the song demonstrates his lack of confidence.

Hero
Enrique Iglesias

Would you dance
If I asked you to dance?
Would you run
And never look back?
Would you cry
If you saw me cry?
And would you save my soul, tonight?

Would you tremble
If I touched your lips?
Would you laugh?
Oh please tell me this.
Now would you die
For the one you loved?
Hold me in your arms, tonight.

I can be your hero, baby.
I can kiss away the pain.
I will stand by you forever.
You can take my breath away.

Would you swear
That you'll always be mine?
Or would you lie?
Would you run and hide?
Am I in too deep?
Have I lost my mind?
I don't care...
You're here tonight.

I can be your hero, baby.
I can kiss away the pain.
I will stand by you forever.
You can take my breath away.

Oh, I just want to hold you.
I just want to hold you.
Am I in too deep?
Have I lost my mind?
I don't care...
You're here tonight.

I can be your hero, baby.
I can kiss away the pain.
I will stand by your forever.
You can take my breath away.

I can be your hero.
I can kiss away the pain.
And I will stand by you forever.
You can take my breath away.
You can take my breath away.

I can be your hero.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

The Passion of the Christ

Director: Mel Gibson
Starring: James Caviezel, Monica Bellucci, Maia Morgenstern, Hristo Shopov, Hristo Jivkov, Rosalinda Celentano, Luca Lionello, Mattia Sbragia
Premise: Shows the last 12 hours of Jesus Christ in a mortal body
Rating: 3 out of 4 stars

I have to say that it was well-directed; flashbacks were well-placed throughout the movie in order to create context for what was happening. The acting was not bad, but no academy award stuff here. Out of all of them, Shopov perhaps would have the best chance at an award (best supporting actor), but I doubt it. Pilate's musings on justice and truth are quite intriguing, given his unique situation. He has to satisfy so many different interests, but all the parties have contradicting interests, and he's caught in the middle; it makes for a good acting part. Here's a question though. Why did Roman armour replicate buff bodies? I mean seriously, it must have driven up the production costs by at least 25%. I bet it would be much cheaper to produce thousands of these armour pieces if they were simply smooth.

Was a fair movie. As everyone would care more about the issues than the movie itself for its artistic merits...

1. Spirituality:
Yes, there were scenes in that movie that made me weep. In particular were scenes during the Last Supper (during flashbacks) wherein Jesus gave his last commandments to his disciples. They created a a powerful background for when Jesus was on the cross. The thief's realization while on the cross of his own wrongdoings was also emotional. On his deathbed, he realizes who he is and it seems too late for him to do anything about it. All he can do is depend on the guy next to him who seems to have a purpose in all this. The thief's ultimate surrender stood as a stark contrast to the other thief that continued to deride Jesus and refused to look within himself; his folly-filled arrogance reflected many people who choose to point fingers and laugh or scream instead of take responsibility. It was a stark reminder to myself as to why taking responsibility for one's actions is the better path.

2. Bloodshed:
Yes, it was bloody. However, I seriously thought that it would be more bloody than it was. Given my knowledge of the torture tools that Romans used back in the day, I totally expected more blood. So this was actually sort of mild. I was more grossed out by seeing severed heads and whatnot in the movie Identity. But other people apparently want to throw up after seeing Passion, so this must be a subjective thing. Suffice it to say that the camera wasn't focused on the victim the whole time. For example, we got to see quite a bit of the Roman soldiers in action, rather than the scourges actually hitting the body of Jesus. You get to see the scourges hit too. However, the movie still drove home how painful the whole process must have been, especially considering how it all cumulated to the cross. One thing that the movie didn't explain was why crucifixion is painful. You see the soldiers break the legs of the two thieves and then the spear in Jesus's side. But it's not explicitly explained why that happens, it's only implied.

3. Anti-Semitism:
I honestly didn't really see it. The movie seemed to put most of its blame on the high priests (who were technically Jews, I guess, but not the general Jewish population). Even during the walk of Jesus up to the hill of Golgotha, you don't really see the Jews despising Jesus. It's more of a crowd mentality, where you have curious onlookers; some of them get excited and make judgments without figuring out exactly what's going on. But nowhere did I see outright hatred from the Jews. The Roman soldiers were a totally different story. They enjoyed torturing Jesus, mocked him throughout the movie until he died, and physically abused him throughout his walk up to Golgotha, while he was carrying the cross. I pretty much got the picture that if anyone should be disliked for the death of Jesus, it would be the sadistic Roman soldiers (there were a few, like Pilate and his immediate subordinate, that had honour). However, even if the Jews were responsible, one thing really struck me in the movie, that I had never thought about before. Jesus says, "Farther, forgive them, for they know not what they do." So let's figure this out. Whoever's doing this to him, he says to forgive them. Therefore, any anti-semitists who use the death of Christ as justification for their hatred against the Jews seriously have a fallacy in their thinking. IMHO, it would be much better for Jews and other groups to point out the fallacy in anti-semitic arguments based around the death of Christ and manifest their stupidity, rather than get caught up in what amounts to a cat-fight with disgusting implications. Of course, if such stupidity exists in the first place, you can't do much to make it disappear by using logic... like talking to a wall, you know? Plus, consider the fact that the whole purpose of Jesus's existence (according to the big book that's written about him) was to die. If anti-semists truly wanted him to not die by crucifixion or any other premature means, they're missing the point. Mind you, I doubt that anti-semists really actually care, they're probably just using anything they can to justify their behaviour. But a movie that doesn't promote anti-semitisim should not take the fall for the stupidity and irrationality of anti-semitic thought. Hit at the root cause of the problem, please.

Passion, Hockey, and Gates

Finally saw The Passion on Friday night with friends. Review can be found here.

Sanderson and Rucinsky are looking like great pick-ups by Burke so far. :) Sign this man now! But if the ownership isn't willing to bring Burke back, I'd be more than happy to have Tamby as GM. The man deserves a chance. Nonis wouldn't be bad either, but I'd rather see what one of Canada's national team architects can do with the Canucks.

Regarding Bertuzzi's hit. It was ugly. It was nasty. He deserves his suspension. There's no way to justify a sucker punch from behind, no matter what Moore did to Nazzy. Whether or not the league takes action against anything, Bertuzzi does not have the authority to take the law into his own hands. Neither does any other player in the NHL. Now, enforcers have their role, but it's not to arbitrarily take the law into their own hands and arbitrarily decide what to do; they have boundaries. Bertuzzi crossed the boundary, though he never would have expected the consequences that happened to happen. I think there are several issues that people have been unable to understand here.

1. The action should be analyzed separately from the consequent. Otherwise, penalties will vary according to the degree of the damage done to the victim. I would argue that this can in fact maintain or even increase the level of violence. Suppose that Player A commits a dangerous infraction against Player B but Player B survives with only a minor scratch. Then Player A gets only a minor punishment because Player B didn't suffer any extensive injury. This can create a lottery-type mentality (perhaps it'd better be called anti-lottery). Just like people look at a lottery-winners and say, "That could have been me!" and then use this thought process to justify their continued purchase of lottery tickets, players can look at minor injuries and say, "The chances for serious injury/punishment are so low! It almost never happens!" Bertuzzi never thought Moore would end up having 2 fractured vertebrae and a concussion either. When you have things like Martin Havlat high-sticking and getting only two games because Recchi wasn't seriously injured, how does that send the message that high-sticking is a bad thing? And then the next time they play, they break the record for most penalty minutes in a game. @@ The NHL seriously needs to punish based on the action, not the injury. Otherwise, they condone dangerous action.

2. Bertuzzi is sorry about what he did. Everyone who says that he isn't really doesn't know how to empathize. Bertuzzi's always been a brash man. He is no longer that brash man. He's a broken shell right now. It shows in how he deals with the media (or lack thereof), his public apology, and his desire to talk with Moore personally.

3. Let's not forget that Granato is guilty of a similar nasty incident himself. Put it in perspective. Bertuzzi is not an isolated incident. It's only high-profile because of Moore's cracked vertebrae. If anything, Bertuzzi's more like a scapegoat for a big pile-up of nasty incidents, it would seem to me.

On the note of nasty things, what about the price of Microsoft's operating system? I can't count how many people have told me that if Microsoft made their software cheaper, they wouldn't pirate it. Well, kudos to Microsoft for cutting prices in Southeast Asia. This will make computers cheaper for customers to buy, but you just know that it'll increase their market share too over open source alternatives. ;) Consider that home users would use Windows anyway though, and it really is as humanitarian move as Microsoft has made in recent memory (on a corporate basis). However, why on earth are they offering US government employees software for free? Chee...

On the other hand, the SCO lawsuit has taken an interesting (though perhaps not unexpected for the conspiracy theorists) turn. Interesting turn 2.

Monday, March 01, 2004

PC is Clean (and regarding toilets)

So I'm officially back online and almost up to speed. Some apps still need to be installed, but it's fine.
Details on cleaning the worm can be found here.

Have downloaded a virus scanner now for my personal PC. Before, it was never necessary, as I always practiced safe computing; haven't had a virus for years. However, there's no safe computing that can prevent a worm from coming in at the application layer, specifically, through an application that I frequently use, which has no security measures of its own (cough, ICQ). Therefore, I am now using AntiVir, a product that I use on every other PC of which I'm in charge. Check it out. It's a fantastic product, and it's free for personal usage. They make their money by selling to corporations and build their brand partly through giving it away free for personal usage. Now THAT'S viral marketing! Pardon the pun. ;)

Furthermore, following the lead of many of my friends, I am no longer using Internet Explorer except to test out webpages that I make. Having 95% of the market (at last count by Gartner) can easily make your product a target of malicious hackers (or crackers, if you will). Given that this ICQ worm was just another attack that utilized a vulnerability in IE, I felt it was time to change.

Firefox is an absolutely amazing browser. FINALLY, a browser that I feel is worthy of competing with IE has come to fruition. I feel that Mozilla didn't cut it quite well enough. Opera tried its best, but it still fell short. But Firefox is nice. Although it uses the same Gecko engine as Mozilla (hey, it was developed by the same group, after all), it feels a lot more responsive than any of the other browsers I've tried (especially since it also seems to use a smaller memory footprint). As well, the user interface is much more simple and intuitive. All in all, this provides a much smoother and clean surfing experience. Finally, it follows industry standards. ;) On these grounds alone, Firefox would be my primary browser instead of IE, whether or not I got the ICQ worm. Oh, did I mention that the tabbed browsing rocks? That's a nice bonus.

A final stage of security that I am considering is a software firewall (most likely Zone Alarm). My hardware firewall at the router works great, but once again, there's no way for it to protect against attacks that come in at the application layer. That's where a software firewall like Zone Alarm can come in. It can detect whether an activity happening is dangerous, at least in theory. Then it'll either block or give you the option as to whether you want to allow the activity (depending on how you set it up). Software firewalls were never something I was a fan of, but in this case, it may finally be necessary; how else do you protect yourself at the application layer, once the intrusion has gotten past the hardware firewall? If I had an advanced SonicWALL solution with integrated firewall and antivirus integrated at the base network layer, then there'd be no problem. When I installed that stuff for corporate clients before, man, did it ever do its job properly. :) One can dream, that stuff is expensive.

So I'm officially clean. I really don't want to have to set up a gateway box and have McAfee scanning ALL incoming Internet traffic. Reports have shown that type of scanning from the McAfee product can slow your Internet speed by about 40%. But I don't know of any other antivirus product that has a similar option. Besides, even if one did exist, it'd probably slow down your Internet at about the same rate. Grr... now maybe I can get back to some quality blogging.

Been wanting to post this for a while.

Famous bathroom and artistic newcomer. Which would you rather use? I suppose that if you gotta go, you gotta go, but isn't this just borderline voyeurism?