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Blogging at the Office

I've finally convinced everyone at work to start a corporate blog. Some of the guys are really getting into it. It's probably not interesting unless you happen to work in Human Resources, but check it out anyway. The Employee Benefits Blog

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Web Hosting with Travis

I just leased my own web server in a major east coast datacenter and I'm offering cheap web hosting to my friends in order to cover the costs.

If you're interested in having your own domain for a blog, photo gallery, business website, online store or anything else, please let me know.

The web hosting comes with all of the good stuff...
  • Your own domain
  • 1 gig of storage space
  • Email and web mail
  • Top-of-the-line management interface (Plesk)
  • PHP, MySQL, FrontPage and CGI support
  • 24x7 tech support (from your favorite web nerd, me!)
This site details all of the features: I can do personal sites for $4.99/mo and business sites for $9.99/mo.

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Is Your Name Popular?

Here's something new: Enter your name and find out how popular it was across generations with NameVoyager.

As you can see from the chart, the name "Travis" peaked in the 80's.

I made a few other observations:
  • "Jessica" was the number one name in the 1980's
  • "Bertha" was on a severe decline throughout the 20th century.
  • "Bart" fell off the charts after the first season of The Simpsons.
  • I'm not sure why, but the name "Latoya" took a dive after the 80's.
  • "Spock" did not make the list at any point in recent history.

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Arnold and Mobile Phones

Today I tuned in to the radio to hear Governor Schwarzenegger talk about his attempt to ban the use of non-hands-free cell phones in cars.

Schwarzenegger's excuse: [Ahnold voice] "There are too many buh-tons".

Since I was sitting in traffic with nothing to do, I counted the buttons on the dashboard of my car.

78 buttons on my dashboard vs. 16 buttons on my cell phone.

If the buh-tons are so dangerous, we need to ignore cell phones and immediately legislate the use hands-free cars.

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Snail Mail Spam

Please excuse the randomness of this post...

I do Internet work in the HR/Insurance industry, but I don't know much about insurance and employee benefits. Maybe that's why this invitation to the "Defined Contribution Conference" that I received seems like the most boring event in the history of the world. It baffles me that people would be interested in this stuff. Even the invitation is a drab, with a washed-out photograph and crowded with names that I would never recognize. They didn't even try to make the event seem exciting.

I suppose that most people would feel the same way about a technology conference that I would be interested in, but that's no excuse for such a bland marketing piece.


Wall Street Journal article

I got interviewed and mentioned in a Wall Street Journal article that came out today. The article is about the latest mapping web sites, including Yahoo Maps and Google Maps. I just had a little blip on the last paragraph, but it was kind of cool. Check it out.


Skype - Video calling

Jessica and I just got hooked up to Skype. If you haven't heard of it, Skype is the most popular phone/video conferencing software on the Internet. It works just like any other instant messenger, except you make voice calls instead of chatting. It does video too, which is kind of fun for the first 5 minutes. It's really good for making long distance calls. Skype has been downloaded almost 300 million times.

Skype us if you want. Download the software and search for "Travis and Jessica".


Hotmail deletes accounts after 30 days.

My wife hadn't checked her Hotmail account for about 30 days. When she logged in, Hotmail told her that the account had been deactivated due to lack of use. Five years worth of archived email was automatically deleted forever after only 1 month.

That's pretty crappy. It's bad enough that Hotmail has the worst user interface of any free webmail. Now they delete your account if you don't log in for 30 days.

Please, switch to Gmail or Yahoo Mail if you haven't already.

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I've tried out many of the new "web 2.0" personal homepages, but I came across the best one today. beats them all, hands down. You don't even have to sign up to try it.

It's easy to use, updates very quickly and the simple user interface just makes sense. Give it a shot, and don't forget to add my feed :-)


Yahoo Maps Beta

It looks like Yahoo is catching up in the mapping arena. They just released Yahoo Maps Beta. It looks and feels alot like Google Maps, but with some extra features that Google forgot to add.

This Web 2.0 app uses Macromedia Flex instead of good old AJAX.

I'll be testing out Yahoo maps for a few weeks. It looks like it integrates with the Yahoo Yellow Pages, which means that it saves all of my frequently used addresses. That was probably the biggest feature missing from Google maps.


Embed Google Video


Google Video now lets you embed videos into a web page, which is pretty cool. I did it to our wedding video here:


Goodmail vs. Signed SSL Certificates


Permit me to nerd out for a second...

A huge controversy has erupted on the Internet as AOL and Yahoo have decided to implement Goodmail CertifiedEmail service for it's users. The kneejerk reaction from the community has been that AOL and Yahoo are "taxing" legitimate senders of email. I have read many moronic misconceptions about the service, including:

  • All email that hasn't paid the toll will be blocked by Yahoo and AOL

  • Spammers will use the service to bypass normal spam filters.

  • Non-profits will have to pay the tax to send bulk email.

Compare the Goodmail system to signed SSL Certificates that EVERY commerce website uses to establish trust. NOBODY complains about having to buy a certificate from a trusted authority who is supposed to verify that you are a legitimate company. If you don't buy a certificate, you can still sign your own certificate, but your users will be warned by their browser that your certificate is not "Trusted". This is almost identical to the Goodmail system. If you do not pay to be certified by Goodmail, your email can still get through. It will just have to go through the normal spam filters that we already deal with EVERY DAY.

Nothing is being taken away from senders or receivers. Legitimate email senders using opt-in lists now have the option to guarantee delivery as long as they obey the strict Goodmail rules.

Goodmail has every incentive to make sure that it's senders are following it's rules. Mailbox providers still have the incentive to make sure that legitimate non-certified email makes it into every users inbox. Illegal spammers will not be able to maintain any kind of certified status, and thus they will have to fight the same anti-spam mechanisms that they always have. As a legitimate bulk email sender, a frequent recipient of opt-in newsletters, and a spam deleting user, I say that certified email is a step in the right direction for everybody.


Editorial: Automobile Gimmicks

Ten or fifteen years ago, automakers started building cars that lasted longer. Engineering and material advances meant no more sun-cracked dashboards, flaking paint or 100k engine overhauls. This was great for the carbuyer, but the automaker said "Oh crap, who's going to buy new cars if the old ones last a long time?"

The Solution

Fill these new, long lasting cars with dozens of pseudo-useful plastic gadgets, gimmicks, whizbangers and gobschnoblers. It wasn't long before cars were filled with auto-dimming rear view mirrors, adaptive turning headlights, digital compasses, headlight washers, lane-departure warning systems, fingerprint ignition, digital curb feelers and servo-driven cup holders.

The Result

These overly-complex, plastic parts break down after the warranty is up. The car functions perfectly well, but broken widgets and gizmos make the care FEEL old and run down. Unnecessary sensors trigger constant dashboard reminders of broken sensors that aren't worth fixing. Eight-way electronic seats would only move in seven. Auto-folding mirrors get stuck. Etc, etc, etc.

In the end, you sell a perfectly good car at 70,000-100,000 miles and buy a brand new one with even more gimmicks. The endless cycle of useless bling begins anew.

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Getting LinkedIn

If you haven't already tried this, you should get on LinkedIn. I guess you could call it the "MySpace" of the business world. You sign in, tell it which companies you've worked for, and then the site asks you who you already know. From there, you can see your "network", which is based on degrees of separation. It's kinda fun to connect with your old co-workers and business contacts. If you know me, add me as



Supposedly Napster is getting shut down one way or another. Fortunately, there are many alternatives.


New: Web-based security scanner.

I finally finished the security scanner. Didn't do much, just took RFP's whisker scanner, and changed it to work as a cgi script. I'm just learning Perl, so i think it's a pretty cool beginners project.



Ok I just found the sweetest new way to get tons of MP3' the Napster. It lets you search hundreds of thousands of mp3's and all the mp3's come off of other people's hard drives, so there are NO dead huh?



I just got back from Comdex, that big huge computer show in Las Vegas. it was pretty cool, except i've never seen soo many nerds in my life. I stuck out like a sore thumb :)