City of Heroes

If you enjoyed reading comic books as a kid and day dreamed about being a super hero – or perhaps a super villain, then you just might get a kick out of the City of Heroes / City of Villains online game. It’s one of my guilty pleasures, to be able to log in after a tuff day at work, transform into my secret identity, and go forth and fight crime – or rob a bank or two (depending on the mood). The game is very open ended; you get to design your hero or villain from scratch and they develop by doing, getting more abilities and costume options as they progress in experience. There is also a very active community, and I’ve had a chance to chat with folks from all over the world. For more information, see www.coh.com.

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The www.worldtimeserver.com site allows one to customize a clock, for time zone and color at least, and copy the html code to embed in a web page. The browser must support shockwave flash files.


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Jesus is watching you

A burglar broke into a house one night. He shined his flashlight around looking for valuables, and when he picked up a VCR to place in his sack, a strange, disembodied voice echoed from the dark saying, “Jesus is watching you.”

He nearly jumped out of his skin, clicked his flashlight out and froze. When he heard nothing more after a bit, he shook his head, promised himself a long vacation after his next big score, then clicked the light back on and began searching for more valuables.

Just as he pulled the stereo out so he could disconnect the wires, clear as a bell he heard, “Jesus is watching you.”

Freaked Out, he shined his light around frantically, looking for the source of the voice.

Finally, in the corner of the room, his flashlight beam came to rest on a parrot…

“Did you say that?” he hissed at the parrot.

“Yep,” the parrot confessed, then squawked, “I’m just trying to warn you.”

The burglar relaxed. “Warn me, huh? Who the heck are you?”

“Moses,” replied the bird.

“Moses?” the burglar laughed. “What kind of people would name a parrot Moses?”

The bird promptly answered, “Probably the same kind of people that would name a 140 pound Rottweiler Jesus.”



Analogies and metaphors

Have you ever received a 'humorous story' via email from some friend or acquaintance? I’m sure you have. If you are like most email enabled people you probably have recieved a great multitude. Unless of course you don’t have any friends or acquaintances, in which case you should probably just node your head as if you did.

Was the 'humorous' email actually funny? Usually not; especially not if it involves cats, lists of cats, pictures of cats, or any form of cat byproduct. You may even have considered tweaking your spam filter a time or two.

One of the rare exceptions to this experience is the following account, having no reference to cats, which was forward to me by my friend JB. And no, I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I sure did find it side-splitting funny.

Every year, English teachers from across the USA can submit their collections of actual analogies and metaphors found in high school essays. These excerpts are published each year to the amusement of teachers across the country. Here are last year's top 25 winners:

  1. Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two sides gently compressed by a Thigh Master.
  2. His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.
  3. He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.
  4. She grew on him like she was a colony of E. Coli, and he was room-temperature Canadian beef.
  5. She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.
  6. Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.
  7. He was as tall as a six-foot, three-inch tree.
  8. The revelation that his marriage of 30 years had disintegrated because of his wife's infidelity came as a rude shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge free ATM machine.
  9. The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn't.
  10. McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a Hefty bag filled with vegetable soup.
  11. From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you're on vacation in another city and Jeopardy comes on at 7:00 p.m. Instead of 7:30.
  12. Her hair glistened in the rain like a nose hair after a sneeze.
  13. The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease.
  14. Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.
  15. They lived in a typical suburban neighborhood with picket fences that resembled Nancy Kerrigan's teeth.
  16. John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.
  17. He fell for her like his heart was a mob informant, and she was the East River.
  18. Even in his last years, Granddad had a mind like a steel trap, only one that had been left out so long, it had rusted shut.
  19. Shots rang out, as shots are wont to do.
  20. The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work.
  21. The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while.
  22. He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame, maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.
  23. The ballerina rose gracefully en Pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.
  24. It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids around with power tools.
  25. He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up.



AltaVista Enterprise Search

Chances are you've heard of AltaVista, Inc. in reference to the internet search site. If not, you can certainly find out about AltaVista, either by visiting the www.altavista.com site, checking out wikipedia, or even read the book AltaVista Search Revolution.

Chances are you haven't heard of the AltaVista enteprise group, a small business unit based out of Andover Ma. which productized the search technolog and created theAltaVista Search Engine V3 and later AV Enterprise Search V1 & V2 product lines. These products included a single node search engine application supporting crawling of Web, database, file systems, and email. However, the real power was the included SDK, which allowed 3rd party developers to integrate the AltaVista Search technology directly into their applications and services. This provided for a very tight, high performance, full text search ability. The SDK was used by many OEM and search centric customers.

Alas, AltaVista then parent company CMGi lacked the vision and ability on how to capitalize on the enterprise search market. Eventually the enterprise search group was sold off and product lines retired. Today AltaVista Enterprise Search products are no longer commercially available, though the technology may live on for quite a while in deployed applications.

For more information on the retired AltaVista Enteprise Search products click here

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Day One

This is the first day for the new www.ricklafleur.com site based upon blogger and, hopefully, a more attractive page layout. I hope you like it. Of course, I’m sure I’ll be tweaking it over the next few weeks, so if you have any suggestions please let me know (you will need a blogger account but that's pretty simple to set up). As before, if you were refereed here for a specific project please use the full URL provided.


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