Sunday, June 29, 2008

North Jersey Bus Survey

NJ Transit and the Port Authority are investigating how to expand bus service to the North Jersey areas. They've got a survey up on their Web site regarding how you think bus service should be expanded. I personally pointed out that it would be nice to have bus service from PCCC Paterson to PCCC Wanaque, for example. I wouldn't mind being able to take that trip on a bus rather than driving.

Thanks Amit for the heads up!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Bye bye Bill

Bill Gates, king of Microsoft, decided last year that he was going to step back from Microsoft to focus on some of his charitable work. Today is his last day. He'll remain as a part-time advisor, but he's out in terms of the day-to-day operations.

Love him or hate him, he's done a ton with charitable organizations, and is one of the big reasons the PC took off the way it did.

It's not like he's going in to a bad place. He's still in the top 10 in the world's richest people, and he's voluntarily retiring at age 52. Not a bad life at all.

What does this mean for the future? Will this hurt or help Microsoft? Only time will tell.

Link to Article

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Economics of Cereal

Kellogg's is dealing with "rising costs" not by raising prices, because we'd all notice that, but by shrinking boxes of cereal. In other words, you will still pay the same amount for a box of cereal, but now you're getting less cereal in the box.

The interesting part is, many people will not notice. This is the reason they do things like this.

Link to article

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

IPv6 coming soon...

This was discussed at random points in a few of my classes, but there are all sorts of issues that are coming regarding the way computer IP addresses are put together. It became clear in the 1990's that we were eventually going to run out of these addresses. To fix it, a new standard called IPv6 was introduced (the one in use is called IPv4). This "new" standard was introduced in 1996.

If there is a solution, you might ask, why has there been no movement towards the new standard? The answer is inertia. In other words "My system works, that will be someone else's problem".

So, that problem looks to be coming up soon, and unless someone comes up with a good solution soon, it will lead to either a slower Internet connection (servers will have to work harder) or a bunch of people being forced to upgrade their networking equipment (unlikely).

I ran across this article, and it's a few months old but still relevant. This article estimates that the day where we "run out of" IP addresses could come as soon as 2010.

Friday, June 20, 2008

My Fall 2008 classes, updated

Just in case anyone is interested, though these are not loaded in the campus portal yet, here are the courses I will be teaching in the Fall 2008 semester, in case you want to either avoid or take a course with me.
At the main (Paterson) campus:

CIS-101-04 Computer Concepts & Applications
Tuesday, Thursday 11:45AM - 01:00PM

CIS-126-E1 Microcomputer Software II
Tuesday 07:05PM - 09:35PM

CIS-290-01 Database Fundamentals
Tuesday, Thursday 10:20AM - 11:35AM

CIS-294-01 CIS Internship
Times TBA

At the Wanaque campus:
CIS-101-A1 Computer Concepts & Applications
Monday, Wednesday 10:20AM - 11:35AM

CIS-125-A1 Microcomputer Software I
Monday, Wednesday 11:45AM - 01:00PM

This course MIGHT be mine:
CIS-152-E1 Internet/E-Commerce Technologies NOTE: MIGHT
Monday 07:05PM - 09:35PM

Bitmap image conversion to vector image

Image editing application software such as Photoshop or Fireworks contain a tool that will allow you to convert a bitmap image (such as one taken with a digital camera) in to a vector image (one that looks "drawn" - and one that can be resized easier.

If you are ever doing any professional logo design and have very little Graphic Design talent (guilty!), you can take an existing photograph and turn it in to a vector image to save yourself time drawing. For example, let's say you wanted to make a cell phone logo - you could take a picture of a real cell phone, "vectorize" it, and then just edit it to suit your needs.

If you're curious as to what I am talking about, you can actually try it for free on a Web site such as vector magic - they will let you try it for free without letting you save - or you can do it in a tool such as Photoshop or Fireworks.

Try it on Vector Magic's Web site for free

How to do it in Photoshop

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Firefox 3.0

Mozilla has just released version 3.0 of their Firefox browser. I've downloaded it, and I am pretty happy with the results thus far. They've incorporated some pretty neat new features (one click bookmarking, more intuitive use of the address bar, better security filters). If you are using an earlier version of Firefox, you might want to consider upgrading, after all, it's free!

Many articles are claiming these improvements are going to make Firefox the dominant Web browser. We'll see.

Download Firefox 3

News story

Monday, June 16, 2008


One of the best ways to be secure, we're told, is to get a shredder. The problem with that is that if someone is motivated enough, they might be able to get information from the shreddings.

"Hey, I saw that in Bad Boys 2!" Me too - except the problem is, now it can be done by just about anyone, not just a socially inept hacker. This can be done through a software program available for download (though, of course, not for free).

On some level, very cool, but on another level, scary, especially if you have something you're trying to hide. Of course, neither of us has anything to hide, so it's all good, right?


Please note that at this point, this only seems to apply to the strip-cut shredders, which are typically the cheapest shredders. If you have a cross-cut shredder, you're safer.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Adobe Photoshop Express

Image editing is a fun little task to do, but the problem is that in order to do the really powerful stuff (outside of the simple things like "remove red eye" and "rotate 90 degrees"), you need application software to do it. When you talk about this application software, you are probably looking at a tool like Adobe Photoshop, which is very expensive for a home user.

Adobe is starting to figure out that sites like Flickr, Photobucket, and Webshots are actually competitors on some level, so within the last few months, they have released Adobe Photoshop Express, a Web based tool that allows you to do a lot of the things that Photoshop does. They also give you 2 GB of storage for free. The goal here, of course, is brand recognition, which many software companies are finding is incredibly important.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Community Colleges and You

As someone who went directly to a university, I was always intrigued by the idea of a community college. I remember thinking "wait, you don't have to take the SAT and you can transfer in as a junior?" - this was a foreign concept to me.

As I grew, I met many people who had attended community colleges and transferred over, and eventually I started teaching at PCCC. At least two of our full-time faculty members that I can think of off the top of my head (Professor Kim from math and Professor Dada from engineering) actually attended Passaic County Community College before going on for their B.S. and M.S. degrees. In addition, one of the school's Vice Presidents and some high ranking IT staff members came through our college. I also know many other faculty members who got degrees at other community colleges before moving on to other degrees.

My former student "Soprano Sue" sent me an article last week, and it got me thinking about this. Encarta has a partial list of famous people who started at community (or, as they are known in other parts of the country, "junior") colleges. Ross Perot...Tom Hanks...Morgan Freeman...Jackie Robinson...Hilary Swank...and many others.

Not everyone has the money or motivation to start at a fancy four-year college. That doesn't mean they can't achieve.

List on Encarta

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

What's that process?

There are times when I will right click on the taskbar down bottom and launch the task manager (or use the hotkey). This will bring up a list of "processes" that are running. For example, at the moment, my home machine has 51 processes running. I can look at the list and recognize some of them - a skill that comes with time - but there are certainly others that are foreign to me.

There are plenty of resources for for this, including just Googling the name of the process...but I have found that the site below provides some great information on tasks, and usually just go directly there.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Danger on the Internet

Obviously, there are a lot of Web sites around that do things that are not necessarily ethical or legal within the United States - the reason, of course, is that laws vary by nation.

For example, almost 20% of the Web sites registered in Hong Kong (.hk) have been identified by McAfee as dangerous to navigate to - in other words, sites that might be likely to host phishing Web sites, or spam people.

It seems like an easy solution to just say "block all sites from Hong Kong" - but more than 11% of sites from China are reported as dangerous...and other countries are bad as well.

Read on...

Thanks to Sue for the heads up!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Gas Prices

Perhaps you have noticed gas prices increasing. I certainly have.

The higher gas prices go, the better it is to take a moment to check out a Web site like - for example, prices in this state are as "low" as $3.75 a gallon, and as high as $4.79. You can see how this can save you some money.

Visit gasbuddy

I also came across this site from a visit to one of my favorite Web sites, - it has a list of 75 gas saving tips. There are a lot of little things that we can do to get slightly better gas mileage, including getting all that extra stuff out of the trunk, which this reminded me to do.

One of the biggest things that saves gas, interestingly enough, was to stop aggressive driving. This is something that I think many NJ drivers could stand to learn...
75 Gas Saving tips

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Browser Security

For those of you who might be curious about how much stuff people can find out about you online, DNSStuff has a little page that will give you information about your computer.

It's really easy to pick up not only your computer's IP address, but also your operating system, the Web browser you are running, and other things.

If you're really interested in security, try loading the page in one browser (such as Mozilla Firefox) and then try it again in another browser (such as Internet Explorer) and you'll see that you are usually giving out more information (and thusly, less secure) by using Internet Explorer.

Pretty neat little Web based tool - it doesn't require any downloading.