Friday, 30 November 2007

links for 2007-11-30

posted at 8:18 AM in links
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Thursday, 29 November 2007

American Veteran Removes US Flag from Beneath Mexican Flag



posted at 9:34 PM in liberty , video
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links for 2007-11-29

posted at 8:18 AM in links
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Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Wave of Sorrow

Originally slated for inclusion on the Joshua Tree album twenty years ago, this song remained unfinished until just recently:

It can now be found on disc two of the 20th anniversary edition of Joshua Tree.

[Wave of the phin to the Fontosaurus.]

posted at 3:57 PM in music
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I Am Confusion

Last night (this morning?), I finished reading I Am Legend. Well, re-reading would be more of an accurate statement. And yet…

This is the I Am Legend I recall from many years before, and at the same time, it’s not the I Am Legend I recall from many years before. For clarification, I have not seen The Last Man on Earth or The Omega Man, but I’m beginning to wonder if maybe I’ve read some homage to Matheson’s original work. Here’s some of what I recall, in the hopes that a reader can point me to the story I remember:

(Oh, and if you haven’t read I Am Legend and you plan to go see the Will Smith movie, there are some potential plot spoilers ahead, so you may want to stop reading now, since it’s likely you cannot help me anyway. Thanks for stopping by, though!)

  • as in the book, the story I remember takes place in Los Angeles, only the Neville character is living in a house on a hill, and has an actual moat in front of the place, so deep the vampires can’t cross it. I want to say he even bulldozed the dead vampire bodies in to the moat.

  • I recall the story mentioning the vampires having blue tattoos.

  • the story was obviously more recent than Matheson’s, since it has the Neville character watching a video of a plague victim, the Ben Cortman character, actually becoming one of the vampire creatures.

  • the Neville character has a dog that goes around with him, as we’ve seen in the trailers of the Will Smith movie adaptation, as opposed to the dog Neville tries to befriend in the book, but which ends up attacked by the vampires.

  • the Neville character, while foraging/hunting in the city, is trapped by a snare attached to a light pole. He spends a lot of time trying to get free, so much so that the sun begins to set, and vampire dogs come out. The Neville character’s dog defends him while he frees himself, and is mortally wounded. This also looks like it will be in the Will Smith movie, and seeing this split-second snare bit in the trailer is one of the memories that jostled me to re-read Matheson’s book.

  • the Neville character goes to a park to wait for any survivors who might still be alive; he leaves signs tacked up all over the city with the when and where.

  • the Neville character discovers a female survivor, very much like Ruth in Matheson’s book; except in this story, instead of hitting him with a mallet, she drugs him after learning how to turn off/undo all of his house’s defense mechanisms, letting the vampires in.

  • the Neville character is taken by the vampires to their underground lair, a miniature city below the real city, where he is somewhat put on display, and some of the vampires feed off of him. The Ruth character has a son or little brother, and the Neville character feels somewhat sorry for them, wants to help them, etc.

  • the Ruth character, and maybe others, help him escape, and they leave the city by a sailboat.

That’s the stuff I remember, and that stuff is not in the Matheson book. So where did I read it? I’ve spent a couple of hours searching the Internet for answers, all to no avail. Perhaps my Google fu isn’t strong enough. Perhaps I just don’t know what I should be searching for. But I know I’ve read this story as I’ve described above. Help me, scifi/horror readers. You’re my only hope.

posted at 11:52 AM in fiction , read
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I would love to witness a conversation like this

Another nugget from Sheriff Bell:

Here a year or two back me and Loretta went to a conference in Corpus Christi and I got set next to this woman, she was the wife of somebody or other. And she kept talkin about the right wing this and the right wing that. I aint even sure what she meant by it. The people I know are mostly just common people. Common as dirt, as the sayin goes. I told her that and she looked at me funny. She thought I was sayin somethin bad about em, but of course that’s a high compliment in my part of the world. She kept on, kept on. Finally told me, said: I dont like the way the country is headed. I want my granddaughter to be able to have an abortion. And I said well mam I dont think you got any worries about the way the country is headed. The way I see it goin I dont have much doubt but what she’ll be able to have an abortion. I’m goin to say that not only will she be able to have an abortion, she’ll be able to have you put to sleep. Which pretty much ended the conversation.

posted at 11:07 AM in fiction , quote , read
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Monday, 26 November 2007

So it’s okay to name your sons Muhammad, but…

From the Religion of Peace™ Department:

A fifty-four year-old English woman, a teacher at a school in Sudan, has been arrested for allowing her students—seven and eight year-olds—to name a teddy bear “Muhammad”.

The article notes, “It is seen as an insult to Islam to attempt to make an image of the Prophet Muhammad.” This seems to be a fundamental problem with Islam: Allah and Muhammad appear to be really, really insecure. I’m trying to discern the logic with which the determination is made that by merely naming a teddy bear “Muhammad”, this somehow is the equivalent of “making an image of the Prophet”. Really? Yet it’s perfectly okay to name your male offspring—living, breathing humans, just like the former Prophet himself—“Muhammad”. Is not the latter more of “an image of the Prophet” than a teddy bear?

Jesus gets insulted all the time, yet you don’t see Christians running around, throwing the insulters in jail, threatening them with jail time and physical beatings (these are known in the land of sharia as “lashes”). You don’t hear about Christians burning mosques down around the world, because the Islamists declare Jesus to have only been a prophet, and not the Son of God; it’s always the Muslims burning down the churches.

If Allah is as merciful as Muslims claim him to be, you’d think he wouldn’t really care all that much that someone might name a teddy bear after his chief prophet.

posted at 7:29 PM in Islam
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Sunday, 25 November 2007

The thoroughly unlikely, but hopeful, scenario

So the Tigers really blew it on Friday. Looking ahead to the SEC championship? Thinking of playing for the national title game? Distracted by the Miles-leaving-for-Michigan chatter? Whatever it was, the LSU football team was clearly not focused on getting past Arkansas, and it led to their number-one ranking being lost again in triple overtime.

Today’s BCS poll has the Tigers in the number seven spot, which is probably about right. (I think they should be ranked ahead of Virginia Tech, a team they trounced early in the season and which has not had as tough a schedule as the Tigers, but since when has playing in the toughest conference counted for anything with the polls?) It is possible for LSU to still advance to the BCS National Championship Game, but they need a lot of help, which they probably won’t get.

  1. The Tigers have to put the rest of the season behind them and take care of business against Tennessee in the SEC Championship. The same team that demolished a good Virginia Tech team in week two needs to emerge once again, because, quite frankly, we haven’t seen that team since around week two. The Tigers have a perennial problem of playing down to the level of their opponent, rather than at the consistently high level they should be playing at. This is what cost them the game against Arkansas, and could spell their doom against Tennessee.

  2. Missouri has to lose to Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship. (Quite possible, as it appears that the Sooners are better now than when they beat Missouri earlier in the season.)

  3. West Virginia has to lose to Pittsburgh. (The most unlikely of these scenarios.)

  4. Virginia Tech has to lose to Boston College. (Will the Hokies fall twice in the same year to BC? It happened to Georgia against LSU in 2003. Unfortunately, this is probably the second least-likely outcome.)

If all of the above were to occur, LSU would theoretically be in the BCS Championship game against Ohio State. The season is over for Georgia and Kansas. Since they won’t win their conferences, they’re not allowed to play for the BCS title, despite being ranked by the BCS ahead of LSU.

What I think will actually happen is this:

  1. LSU beats Tennessee in a closer-than-it-should’ve-been contest to advance to the Sugar Bowl, much to the chagrin (again) of the Sugar Bowl committee and New Orleans Board of Tourism, both of which want the influx of cash from out-of-staters, rather than fans who can drive the 60 miles between New Orleans and Baton Rouge and still sleep in their own beds.

  2. Oklahoma upsets Missouri to win the Big 12.

  3. Boston College rallies from behind late in the game to upset VT.

  4. West Virginia trounces Pittsburgh much like what they did to Connecticut to advance to the BCS National Championship against Ohio State.

So we shall hope for the former scenario, while acknowledging the latter is far, far more likely…

posted at 9:55 PM in football
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Saturday, 24 November 2007

Food for thought for my believing friends

Craig Groeschel:

Non-believers should feel more loved by the church than by any institution in the world.

Boy, but do I blow this one on a consistent basis…

posted at 7:53 PM in God , love , salt and light
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“If it aint too late.”

Some keen cultural insight, courtesy of Sheriff Bell in Cormac McCarthry’s No Country For Old Men (complete with McCarthy’s trademark non-punctuation):

I read in the papers here a while back some teachers come across a survey that was sent out back in the thirties to a number of schools around the country. Had this questionnaire about what was the problems with teachin in the schools. And they come across these forms, they’d been filled out and sent in from around the country answerin these questions. And the biggest problems they could name was things like talkin in class and runnin in the hallways. Chewin gum. Copyin homework. Things of that nature. So they got one of them forums that was blank and printed up a bunch of em and sent em back out to the same schools. Forty years later. Well, here come the answers back. Rape, arson, murder. Drugs. Suicide. So I think about that. Because a lot of the time ever when I say anything about how the world is goin to hell in a handbasket people will just sort of smile and tell me I’m gettin old. That it’s one of the symptoms. But my feelin about that is that anybody that cant tell the difference between rapin and murderin people and chewin gum has got a whole lot bigger of a problem than what I’ve got. Forty years is not a long time neither. Maybe the next forty of it will bring some of em out from under the ether. If it aint too late.

[Emphasis added. —R]

posted at 1:54 PM in fiction , quote , read
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Friday, 23 November 2007

Recent additions to the library

Earlier this evening, in an attempt to drown our sorrows over the Tigers blowing their national title shot, the family dined at Rockfish, then did a little shopping. Normally, I try to avoid frequenting retail establishments on Black Friday, but by dinner time things had quieted considerably in our little corner of the metroplex. Part of the shopping involved an excursion to Barnes & Noble.

I’d been wanting to read No Country For Old Men for quite a while, more so after Nathan told me his impressions of it, as well as my own reading of Cormac McCarthy’s more recent bestseller, The Road. Now that the movie is out, and I, like Nathan, am jonesing to see it, I figured it would behoove me to read the book from whence it came.

(Seriously, what is the deal with McCarthy and dialogue? Does the guy just not believe in the use of quotation marks? All three of his books which I’ve undertaken to read have been bereft of this usual aspect of literature, and while it seemed to work well in The Road, at least for me, it’s made reading Blood Meridian quite a slog. I’m only 19 pages in to No Country as of this writing, and it’s not a problem so far, but geez.)

I first read Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend in…gosh, I really don’t recall, but it was late middle school, early high school. I really enjoyed it at the time, read it once or twice more before leaving college and getting married. After that, I didn’t give it much thought until, some time in the `90s, I learned that Tom Cruise’s production company had optioned it for a motion picture. I was worried about what Cruise’s involvement, notably as the star of the movie, might do to Matheson’s work. Of the myriad actors in Hollywood, Cruise is certainly not one I could picture as Robert Neville.

I’m somewhat apprehensive about the 2007 film release, even though I’ve yet to see it. I have no problem with Will Smith as Neville; from the teaser and trailer I’ve seen, he seems to bring the right elements to the character. I am disappointed with the film’s movement of the plot location from Los Angeles to New York City, mostly because I don’t really see the point; it seems to be a change simply for change’s sake. I totally understand updating the story for our modern time: the book was written in 1954, and the story takes place in the mid- to late-1970s. There are minor tweaks to the main character—Smith’s Neville is currently in the military, rather than formerly, and is a scientist, whilst Matheson’s Neville is more of an everyman—and those are also understandable and digestable. But the change in the plot location… I guess I’ll just have to see the film to make a final, informed judgment. Until then, another rereading of what I consider to be a classic is in order.

posted at 11:46 PM in fiction , read
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links for 2007-11-23

posted at 8:22 AM in links
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Thursday, 22 November 2007

Giving thanks

So, what am I thankful for this year….?

My wife. Those who know me know that she has to put up with a lot on a regular basis. However, when I injured my left foot earlier this year, a ton of extra stuff fell to her to take care of, and she’s been absolutely wonderful. I love you, sweetheart.

The little phisch. Our little man is a never-ending source of joy—and frustration, but that’s just part of parenting. That smile of his just lights me up any time, and his laugh is the best sound I’ve ever heard. He’s a gas to play with, and it never ceases to amaze me when I see his mind at work on something. Being his dad is the greatest job I could ever have, and has given me a larger appreciation of the love my own parents have for me.

My folks. I had a perfectly normal childhood. My parents, while strict at times, were never abusive in any manner, and I always knew I was loved. I grew up in a nice house in a nice neighborhood, with lots of other kids my age. My folks provided everything I needed, and more. They made sure I went to college without incurring a large financial debt. Since I’ve left the nest, they’ve been a source of encouragement and help in ways I never imagined.

My family. My sister, my grandmothers, my aunts, uncles, and cousins whom I’m lucky to see even once a year. We may not all talk often, and see one another even less, but it’s nice to know that when we do get together, after a few minutes of catching up, it’s pretty much just picking up from wherever we last left off. My life would be more shallow without them.

My friends. I have friends in this nation from coast to coast, and from the far north of the 48 states down to their southernmost. I am blessed to have quite a few right here in my little corner of the world, and more in many other corners. You have all enriched me in some way, and I’m thankful to know you.

The men and women of the United States armed forces. I’m proud to count members from the prior category in this one as well. Thank you all for your tireless sacrifice on behalf of the rest of us. You are never far from our thoughts and prayers. May those of you in the line of fire return home safely upon the successful completion of your mission. In the mean time, watch your six, and God bless.

God. You have made all things possible. You have blessed me in ways far beyond my understanding and worth. You offered Your own Son in my place, so that I might have a place in Your kingdom forever. I am humbled that You, the Creator of all things, would deign to know the number of hairs on my head, much less want to be my friend. All of the above things for which I am thankful are gifts from You, and I am eternally grateful.

posted at 9:32 AM in God , armed forces , love , that's life
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links for 2007-11-22

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Wednesday, 21 November 2007

links for 2007-11-21

posted at 8:19 AM in links
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Tuesday, 20 November 2007

The Gods Aren’t Angry

Thanks to our friends Brent and Tracy, I was able to go with Brent this past Friday to see Rob Bell on his The Gods Aren’t Angry Tour. I’d never heard Bell, and while I have one of his books, I confess I’ve yet to crack the cover, so I was looking forward to hearing what Mr. Bell might have to say.

I was not disappointed. Brent has a thorough review, and I’m pretty much a “ditto” with what he says, so be sure to check it out.

I will add a few comments and observations to those made by Brent. I noted how, when Bell was talking about how God changed the entire dynamic of the relationship with humans starting with Abraham, Rob noted how God, “used those other gods, worshipped by the rest of human civilization, as props in His narrative to humanity.” I’m not sure why that line jumped out at me, but it made enough of an impression to get copied into my Moleskine. Maybe it was just a reminder of how big God truly is, that He exists outside time and space as we understand them, and doesn’t display the very humanistic characteristics we see in the gods of the ancient civilizations.

What’s also fascinating is how so much of what transpired, from a spiritual/faith standpoint, in the ancient world still pervades our so-called modern society. Looking at the religions of the world, all of them are still engaged in some sort of “doing” relationship. You have to do this to please Allah, you have to pray at a certain time, facing a certain way, saying certain words. If you sin, you must confess to the priest, and do penance as he directs. If you offend your neighbor, this is the ritual the rabbi can help you with to make things right. It’s all about doing, which is just how the ancients engaged with Apollo, Jupiter, or whoever.

Christianity is unique in that God Himself provided the means of salvation, saying “Done!” The only thing required of you is to say yes to Him. That’s it. Everything that follows is from your relationship with Him, not because there’s anything you have to do, rather there are things that, as a result of the relationship, you want to do. Which was part of what Bell was getting at, too: the God of Abraham is unique in that He reaches out to humanity for a one-on-one relationship with each man, woman, and child. This idea floored the ancients. It would’ve been as radical a concept as showing a modern automobile to the Founding Fathers.

Bell’s still on tour until December 2d, so if you’re in and around Raleigh, DC, Pittsburgh, NYC, Philly, Beantown, Louisville, Indy, or Rob’s home town of Grand Rapids, I highly encourage you to take it in. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

posted at 9:21 PM in God , fun , learning
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Saturday, 17 November 2007

Yet another update on my injured foot

This past Thursday marked another check-up with my orthopedist. More poking and prodding. More x-rays were taken. (Still kind of cool to see the screw just sitting there in the middle of my foot.) The prognosis? Everything’s looking good, and I am free from walking with the cane.

Surgery for me to get “unscrewed” is scheduled for December 11th. I’ll go back in to the walking boot for a couple of weeks after that, then hopefully back in to regular shoes. Whether or not I’ll have to go back to assisted walking with the cane remains to be seen.

The screw-removal surgery came up this past Wednesday night at the sophomore guys Bible study I lead, and the guys were pondering what was used, exactly, to remove the screw? Was it some specialized, medical implement-only, seven thousand-dollar, cordless drill-type device? It’s not as though they’d just jam a Black & Decker Philips head in there and pull it out, right?

So I asked the doc: “What exactly do you use to get the screw out?”

“A screwdriver.”

“Really?”

“Yep.” Then, reading my face, and the grin at the corners of my mouth: “Granted, it’s not like it’s a Dewalt we picked up at Home Depot and sterilized, but all the same, it’s just a screwdriver.”

I love my orthopedist.

posted at 11:55 AM in that's life
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Thursday, 15 November 2007

links for 2007-11-15

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Wednesday, 14 November 2007

links for 2007-11-14

posted at 8:19 AM in links
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Tuesday, 13 November 2007

links for 2007-11-13

posted at 8:19 AM in links
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Monday, 12 November 2007

links for 2007-11-12

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Saturday, 10 November 2007

links for 2007-11-10

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Friday, 09 November 2007

links for 2007-11-09

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Wednesday, 07 November 2007

links for 2007-11-07

posted at 8:23 AM in links
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Monday, 05 November 2007

links for 2007-11-05

posted at 8:20 AM in links
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Sunday, 04 November 2007

“But you can’t have a one-loss team ranked ahead of an unbeaten.”

Yeah? Why not?

Here’s the rub, looking at the latest AP poll and BCS rankings:

Ohio State may be unbeaten, but they haven’t exactly had a tough time in their lossless season. Of the three ranked teams they’ve played, and beaten, none of those teams have been ranked higher than 21. The Big Ten is not so big this season.

LSU, on the other hand, plays in the toughest conference in the land, widely acknowledged as such by the sports media and honest college football coaches and fans. As Mark May said one night on College GameDay Final, “Where do NFL scouts go first? The SEC.” LSU has played twice as many ranked teams to date as OSU, with a record of 5-1 against those opponents. None of those opponents were ranked lower than 17.

Sure, LSU hasn’t been putting up the big numbers against their opponents like the Buckeyes have done, but it’s easy to pad the score and go undefeated when you’re playing a bunch of nobodies. And this nonsense about Kansas leapfrogging the Tigers should the Jayhawks go undefeated? Please. The case for Kansas being number one or two is weak. Their only win against a ranked team was in-state rival Kansas State, which clocked in on the October 6th game day at number 24. Oklahoma has a much better case, even with its one loss, at a higher ranking, since both of its wins came against teams ranked above twenty. The Big 12 as a conference isn’t its usual powerful self this season either, but based on their schedule, I’d still put the Sooners ahead of the Buckeyes—and right behind LSU.

The Tigers have definitely had the hardest road to the national championship, and unlike OSU or Oregon, will have to play one more game to get there. (Barring, that is, back-to-back stumbles against Ole Miss and Arkansas, both in the bottom half of the SEC West.) Looking at the rest of the season, it’s very likely that LSU will be facing a Top 10 opponent in Georgia for that contest, eclipsing by ranking the twelfth-ranked Wolverines OSU faces on the seventeenth.

Ever since, and including, the game against Florida, LSU has been it’s own worst opponent, not the folks on the other side of the ball. Ivan Maisel calls it. The Tigers have played sloppy and undisciplined. It cost them at Kentucky, and made for much closer games against Florida, Auburn, and Alabama. Yet the Tigers still find ways to win against teams the likes of which Ohio State has nightmares about (Florida in Glendale earlier this year), and Oregon prays they won’t have to play in the post-season.

Why is so hard for an undefeated team to emerge from the SEC? Because the conference is just that good. Witness the rankings this week: no conference has more teams in the Top 25 than the SEC. Last season, no conference played in more bowls than the SEC. Last season, no conference won more bowl games than the SEC. (No one won as many as the SEC did, either.) You want to talk strength of schedule? Start with the Southeastern Conference, because that’s where the strength not only lives, but has drilled deep to lay the foundation the rest of college football wishes its conferences were built upon. At least five members of the sports media got it right this week: they cast their number-one votes for the Fighting Tigers of LSU.

If Les Miles can, ahem, “enlighten” his team to the point that the same Tigers who dismantled number-nine Virginia Tech in the second week show up for the rest of the season, the SEC Championship, and the national title game, God help whomever their opponent is.

GEAUX TIGERS!!!

posted at 8:45 PM in football
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Saturday, 03 November 2007

ATPM 13.11

The November issue of About This Particular Macintosh is now available for your reading pleasure.

Wes kicks off the month by covering—what else?—the blogosphere’s reaction to Mac OS X Leopard. He also has a choice bit regarding the ZFS file system, which I encourage you to read. I realize that particular topic sounds boring—I teased Wes I was printing out that part to help me get some sleep—but he’s done a stellar job of condensing a boring subject in to easy-to-understand layman’s terms. Our intrepid blog investigator also dishes out the links on the forthcoming iPhone development kit for application programmers, as well as a few other choice bits.

Mark—who seems to have the same attitude toward mobile phones as my parents—talks iPhone from the Brit perspective, while also pondering the Google goings-on in the mobile phone space. Speaking of pondering, Mark’s also beginning the laptop or desktop? dilemma. He gets extra points for using a title from one of my favorite authors. Lee’s taking a break from his great column, Photoshop for the Curious, returning in our February edition. To tide you over until then, he documents some other Photoshop-related links you may be interested in.

Sylvester offers a great how-to on extending iTunes’ abilities with content presets. ATPM reader Graham Lindsay was nice enough to share photos from his native Australia for this month’s desktop pictures. Just as all seems lost, our intrepid hero reenters the Mudrix to save the woman he loves in this month’s Cortland.

Small business owners may be interested in Ed’s review of Billable, whereas many folks may be interested in Paul’s look at Graph Paper Maker. Yours truly makes an appearance this month, as I contribute to the iPhone Case Roundup, with Lee and David. Lee likes XtremeMac’s Luna, and Ed is impressed with Nisus Writer Pro. Finally, Eric puts SuperSync through its paces.

As usual, you can read this month’s issue in a format of your choosing.

posted at 1:40 PM in Macintosh
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Thursday, 01 November 2007

links for 2007-11-01

posted at 9:20 AM in links
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