Sunday, February 25, 2007

Green is Greater than Gold

In an international, star-studded event, tonight's Oscars captured not only a billion viewers but it conveyed a strong message of environmentalism and world cohesion. One of the films was described as "a time-bending rumination on today's global village", but that could have described many of the movies highlighted by the awards tonight.

Several Aussies, Mexicans, Spaniards, Italians, French, Taiwanese, Japanese and British actors, writers and filmmakers presented awards and received nominations and Oscars. Included in the winners was Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" for "Best Documentary Feature". As expected, it received a well-earned standing ovation. On, you can read recommendations on how to go green. On top of that, during the show, some simple steps were listed as Melissa Etheridge sang a song, "I Need to Wake Up" from the film.

Each year of the past decade, it seems that one issue has been central at the Oscars. One year was the year of black award winners; another focused on gay rights, and this year's took a global perspective. Every year from the Golden Globes to the Oscars, I want to see all of the films nominated. I wish I had time to do so. This year, for starters, I really want to see "Babel". Having traveled much of the world, I feel a strong association with its message about how similar we all really are. Also central to tonight's Oscars was a stronger emphasis on all of the nominees. But the real winners are all of us if we can take home the message of how to stop global warming - being green will make us much a much richer planet than any gold ever could.

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Congratulations John Knoll

I've never met John Knoll but we exchanged e-mail a decade ago when I was finishing school. His father, Glenn Knoll, served as Interim Dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan. As President of the University of Michigan Engineering Council, I interacted with him regularly and I also served on the Dean Search Advisory Committee to find a new dean for the college. Glenn Knoll was kind enough to introduce me to his son via email, knowing I was working at the time on directing and co-producing a play I wrote, "Invasion of Cyberspace". John was at ILM at the time, working on "Mission: Impossible" and he had just finished up "Star Trek: Generations".

Fast forward to tonight and John received the Oscar for Achievement in Visual Effects for "Pirates of the Carribbean: Dead Man's Chest". His other credits as Visual Effects Supervisor or Assistant Supervisor include "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine", "Hunt for the Red October", "Hudson Hawk", "Mission to Mars", "Deep Blue Sea" and all 3 "Star Wars" prequels. As a computer graphics designer and animation camera operator, he worked on "The Abyss", "Willow", "Innerspace" and "The Golden Child". According to IMDB, he also worked on early versions of Photoshop. He was also nominated for "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl", "Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace" and "Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones".

Congratulations John!

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Best Oscar Montage

I love Nancy Meyers films. If I ever write a screenplay that's remotely as good as hers, I'll be happy. She wrote some of my favorite films - "Something's Gotta Give", "Irreconcilable Differences" and "Private Benjamin". And she directed "The Parent Trap", "The Holiday" and "What Women Want" (as well as "Something's Gotta Give").

Nancy Meyers put together a marvelous montage in the Academy Awards tonight shown just before the Best Adapted Screenplay award. It showed clips from some of the best films about writers - "Shakespeare in Love", "His Girl Friday" and many others. It was wonderfully compiled and really gave a sense of the screenwriting process, along with fabulous quotes and fun music.

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Oscar Gowns Galore

The Academy Awards are just starting now, but I wanted to blog the fashions as on the pre-show red carpet. Not being an expert on tuxes and not having been able (another story) to view any of the nominated films this year, I'm sticking with blogging about the gowns.

So the nominees for my favorites are...

- Penelope Cruz in a peach Versace with a train of ruffles
- Jodie Foster in a blue-gray mermaid style
- Cate Blanchett in dark gray sparkly goddess one-shoulder Armani Prive
- Reese Witherspoon in such deep purple it looks like black
- Gwyneth Paltrow in a sheer rose-salmon pleated Zac Posen
- Rachel Weisz in a gold-oyster Vera Wang with Cartier jewelry
- Emily Blunt in sparkly sapphire blue
- Nicole Kidman in red with a big velvet bow

And the winner is... Cate Blanchett. Stunning ensemble. All of them are absolutely gorgeous.

Bows prevailed, as did sparkles and beads. Mermaid style was the most popular gown cut. Grays, light mints, very dark blues and purples, white and various shades of pink dominated the colors.

Some of the other actresses (mostly nominees) in attendance at the event include Meryl Streep, Helen Mirren, Jennifer Hudson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jada Pinkett Smith, Jessica Biel, Cameron Diaz, Celine Dion, Anne Hathaway, Salma Hayek, Beyonce, Kirstin Dunst.

Of course the men look remarkable as well - Will Smith, Leonardo DiCaprio, John Travolta, Clint Eastwood, Eddie Murphy, Daniel Craig first coming to mind.

But the overall best dressed award goes to my daughter, Julia, who chose Sharon Stone's designer, the gap, and wore the same fashionable hot pink color as Jessica Biel. And she's her own stylist.

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Monday, February 19, 2007

Online Account Nonsense

About once a week, I find myself creating a hand full of new accounts for various sites that I may or may not ever use again. And then there are the couple that expired or were purged that I have to renew. Of course also we can't forget the passwords that need to be changed - which I'll admit even as a security professional, I'm not as on top of as I should be.

Today, I decided to count all of the accounts I have for sites that I have to date. Not including client accounts or ISP/telephony - just things like and - I have over 225. As someone who learned about e-commerce before it existed, I'm still mind-boggled by this. Who can keep track of these things in a secure, organized fashion without being overwhelmed?

a) Use a site that aggregates passwords that better be damn secure if you have any kind of financial or personal data in it
b) Save passwords in an insecure but easily accessible location
c) Use the same password for multiple accounts
d) Create fake email accounts that are really anonymous or have pseudonyms to use for as many as possible

These still each have their own problems. But what's the alternative? Don't read news online, don't conduct business transactions online, don't use your own identification for your searching? It's tiresome...

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Missing Cable Coop

I just moved, so I apologize for the lack of posts this week but it's been crazy. (See my "Stuck in Contractor Hell" post on the Silicon Valley Moms Blog from a couple weeks ago.)

In any case, we're finally in the house and I am using CAT5 in the wall that works! Cable modem's hooked-up and running. I downloaded a 57MB file in 30 seconds yesterday. Whooee! But the process of getting Comcast here and getting everything working left a little to be desired... I miss the days of the Palo Alto Cable Coop. Not that I could get their service in Menlo Park anyway but still, it was nice to have a local provider. We haven't hooked-up Tivo yet; we'll see how that goes. I have to be able to get through the boxes to the jack first.

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

iPlane, iPlane!

In November, Apple announced partnerships with a number of airlines to provide iPod connectivity. The following day, Air France and KLM denied they were going to offer such service, saying it was only in initial discussions. Delta stuck with it and and now supposdly United and Continental have joined the iPod airmiles club.

Now, according to Budget Travel Online, all three airlines plan to install seat connections in planes by this summer. No more bad, censored movies with pilots cutting in to provide commentary on landmarks you've seen a hundred times over gritty, cheap headsets.

Or if you don't want to wait, depending on the type of plane you're on and its jacks, you can get the Monster iAirplay. It works with auto cigarette adaptors as well as airplane seat adaptors and has gold contacts for
higher quality.

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Monday, February 05, 2007

More Women in Politics; Less in High-Tech

It's great that we have a woman as Speaker of the House and finally a financially viable woman candidate for President, but in another area that has always been male-dominated, technology, women are on the decline again, according to a article by Steve Ranger (sounds like he should be a relative).

An organization called Intellect conducted research that shows women now fill 16% of tech jobs vs. 18% two years ago. Ouch. I really thought it was higher than that by now. Supposedly a lot of the attrition is at the executive and upper management level. I don't doubt that. Supposedly Intellect is working on an action plan to develop better industry practices that foster things women want like a more flexible workplace.

I'll admit it - I work for myself mostly because I've had a difficult time finding a flexible enough workplace to suit my needs. Some of it is because I've suffered from repetitive strain injuries (carpal tunnel, tendinitis, etc.), but now that I'm a parent, I have other needs that match those of many other women. And although I enjoy being self-employed and choosing clients myself, I can't help but wonder what other avenues my career might have taken had there been more flexible opportunities at larger organizations - in or out of high-tech.

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Friday, February 02, 2007

Dolphins Stadium Site Wide Open For Hackers

I don't want to say I'm glad that something Superbowl related got hacked, but here's the thing: when major web sites like Dolphins Stadium get hit with known attacks for Windows security holes, it raises awareness. And frankly, this is such small potatoes in the scheme of things - it wasn't our water system hacked or our electrical infrastructure or something controlling train lines that could kill people. Sure, it's inconvenient for the people running the site and for the fans who visit the site, but they should have updated their web servers months ago in preparation for this event. If it teaches them a lesson and gets others in corporations and government better educated about security, then something good will come out of this. Thinking about the big picture and preventing real terrorist threats is much more important. Here's the story from ZDNet.

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