I’ll Take Oxymorons for $400, Alex

President Bush has announced plans to gather a measly half billion dollars to fund the construction of his Presidential Library. If constructed it would be the most expensive legacy library in history. Early speculation is that the library would house a first edition copy of “Curious George Goes to Iraq” and a complete set of White House cafeteria menus from Bush’s 8 years in office.

I mean seriously, the man brags that he doesn’t read, and everything except the lunch menus has been classified as top secret. He doesn’t need a library, he needs a shelf. Maybe they could use the rest of the money to open the Dick Cheney Comedy Club.

I’ll Take My PC To-Go Please

Over the long weekend I got caught up trying to build a “PC on a Stick”. (This was a level of activity I could cope with while stuffed with turkey.) I’ve seen a lot written lately about portable applications you can put on a USB Drive and carry with you to any Windows PC. I wanted to see how far I could take that. It turns out, pretty damn far. My goal was to create a functionally equivalent portable version of every non-hardware specific piece of software on my PC. I want to be able to just walk up to a PC, plug in the thumb drive in my pocket, and have my whole environment with me. Oh, and I wanted to do it all without spending a dime for software.

Security was also a concern. After all, I wouldn’t want sensitive data in my pocket to get lost or stolen. I was able to easily create a secure vault for data I wouldn’t want anyone who steals my stick to see. I then found an application launcher which fires up on stick insertion. I was able to find portable versions of the whole Mozilla suite (browser, email, calendar) as well as Open Office (similar to Microsoft Office). I was also able to find or easily create web page development tools, an image editor, a photo viewer, a CD/DVD burning tool, a complete suite of PC recovery/repair tools, anti-virus and spyware tools, IM clients, scanning utilities, personal financial tracker (similar to Quicken), a PDF reader/editor, Zip file tool, Media player, Flash creators, script language interpreters, P2P file sharing utilities, file sync tools, and even an SMTP, HTTP, and FTP server that lives on a stick.

There are some functional limitations in some areas. The Quicken alternative does not do automatic updates from financial institutions. The calendar tool will not sync with my Palm. The image editor is a bit more complicated. And because all the applications are held independently on the stick, the integration is pretty manual. That is, if you want to watch a web based video using the portable media player, you need to manually copy the link to the player. But tight integration is not feasible without using the underlying operating system, and that would defeat our portability goal. The only major area where I came up functionally short was in the area of video editing. Although I suspect it wouldn’t be too difficult to get the open source Jahshaka to go portable. However, my enthusiasm was beginning to wane by then. We’ll leave that as an exercise for the reader.

If you’re inclined to try this yourself, start by downloading the free applications suite available at portableapps.com

The project was a resounding success. All this free capability fits on a 2G stick with almost half of it still empty for files, pictures, data, whatever. Very cool – although perhaps I’m just easily amused.

That’s a Lot of Cabbage!

I just returned from the annual gathering of the blog’s readership. My key readers assemble with their families to nosh on our favorite dlshes at the end of every November. We have turkey, stuffing, and assorted trimmings. And while we eat, we reflect on the blog entries we are most thankful for. It’s really nice of everyone to take the time out of their busy schedules for this.

The food was wonderful as usual. Any gathering where there are more pies than people is sure to be a good time.

And people were so kind to make a fuss over how good my cabbage salad was. I get the most kudos from the two women whose kitchens used to provide the sacred salad. A more cynical man might note that shredding a whole head of cabbage is a pain in the butt, so they might be grateful it’s someone else’s issue. But I’m not that man, ’cause I’d rather believe they just love it. Yeah, I’m going with that.

If you weren’t invited this year, just keep reading regularly, and maybe we’ll pick you up next year. But only if you make a decent pie… Or like to shred cabbage.