Looking Back, 2000 – 2009

Keith looks back at the last 10 years: 2000 – 2009, the first decade of the 21st century.

Well, 2009 is just about over now, so I guess the fashionable thing to do is look back at everything that happened this year. Or, better yet, everything that happened over the last 10 years.

Actually, now that I’ve written that, it sounds kind of amazing. 10 years. 10 YEARS. Wow. The first decade of the 21st century is over. (Well, sort of… the whole “2001 was the first year of the new millennium, not 2000” thing, but whatever.) We’re now moving into the 2nd decade of living IN THE FUTURE.

So, what do we have to show for it?

To start with, we survived the roll over into Y2K without any disasters, so that’s a good start.

But then some not-so-good things happened:

  • What is arguably the defining event of this decade: September 11, 2001, when a bunch of crazy people crashed some planes into some skyscrapers.
  • 8 years of George Bush.
  • War.
  • Bombings.
  • The space shuttle Columbia disaster.
  • Rapid erosion of civil liberties around the world.
  • The Department of Homeland Security (to me, “Homeland” sounds too much like “Fatherland” and I don’t like the connotations that go with that word).
  • Massive problems with electronic voting machines & potential fraud (which may or may not have already happened, who knows for sure)
  • More SPAM than ever before (to the point where some people have given up completely on email)
  • Bird Flu
  • Swine Flu
  • Massive abuse of draconian & unbalanced copyright laws by copyright holders
  • Massive Tsunamis
  • REAL ID
  • Shrinking polar ice cap
  • Melting glaciers
  • Censorship

But there were good things, too!

  • The first new jumbo jet in almost 40 years, the Airbus A380.
  • Netbooks! (I love my netbook!)
  • The first non-white president of the United States (way to go!)
  • Firefox explodes with awesomeness (and forces Microsoft to finally update their browser as well)
  • Space probes arrive at SATURN, the most beautiful planet (after Earth, IMHO)
  • Pluckly little robot rovers last way, way longer than they were ever meant to way over on Mars
  • The iPhone arrives, changing smartphones (and, arguably, the notion of portable computing itself) forever
  • Wikipedia continues to become more and more awesome
  • The Internet continues to defy attempts to block/censor it (mostly) and remains a powerful force for connecting people, exposing corruption, and spreading news
  • No more planes have been blown up or crashed into buildings by crazy people (no thanks to the TSA or 3 oz. bottles of liquid or taking off our shoes, I might add)

In many ways, I’m sort of disappointed in the last decade. It seems like we were off to a good start, but then we got sidetracked very early on, and things just went all wonky as everyone panicked and all sorts of stupid, reactionary stuff happened.

However, now that the decade is over, perhaps we can put all these bad things behind us, and start moving towards the future in earnest again, instead of taking steps backwards into the past.

Normally, I’d end this post with something like “Well, we can hope,” but really, that’s not all we can do. In fact, nothing will change unless we (that’s me and you, dear readers) get up and do something about it. So, if you need a resolution for the new year, how’s this for one: get out there and change the world, even if it’s just a little bit. There’s no time like the present, after all.

So, that’s it – Happy New Year everyone, and best wishes for a better 2nd decade of the 21st century! Now, get out there and make it happen!!

International Keith Day (#31)

It’s the 17th of November again, and as usually happens on this particular anniversary of another successful orbit of the Sun, I like to remind people to try and take today off from work or school in celebration of what I like to call:

International Keith Day

Which some people refer to as “Keith’s Birthday.”

This is the 31st International Keith Day (IKD), and (alas!) I have as of yet failed to get it recognized internationally as a valid holiday. But I’ll keep trying!

In the meantime, if you can, try to celebrate IKD in whatever way you can get away with – maybe play some games, eat a special meal, or just relax.

Happy International Keith Day, everyone!

Merry Christmas, Earth

Well, tomorrow’s Christmas – and tonight is Christmas Eve. To everyone out there (whether you celebrate Christmas or not), I hope you have a happy one.

And speaking of “peace on Earth” and all that, today’s Astronomy Picture of the Day really choked me up – as it always does.

earthrise

I know it’s just a picture, but… remember, we all – THAT’S ALL OF US, EACH AND EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US – share that little blue marble you see there. So, y’know, be good to one another, don’t be afraid of strangers, and try to keep the joy of this season with you all year ’round.

Merry Christmas, Earth!

Desktop Madness Vol. 64

I wanted the 64th installment of Desktop Madness to be something computer-related (64 being a nice binary number – 2^6 – and of course the latest CPUs are all 64-bit). But, since it’s Christmas time, I decided to go with a holiday-themed wallpaper instead (I’ll hold of for the 128th installment for that particular geeky joke).

snowflakes-and-christmas-tree-stylized

As always, click the image for the full-sized version. Enjoy!

Holiday Spam Tricks

There was a brief period about a week ago where the amount of spam I was receiving (in the multiple unrelated email addresses I have) suddenly dropped. Yay!

But, alas, the spam has come back – with a vengance. One in particular that seems to be slithering by most spam filters at the moment is something I imagine was crafted specifically for this time of year – a spam message designed to take advantage of the fact that people are doing their holiday shopping.

This spam message generally has some variation on the subject line “Re: Order Status” or something like that. The body of the message seems to just be a “Click here to view this message as a web page” link. (Of course, if you get one of these, don’t click the link!)

Given how much on-line shopping is probably going on this time of year, this is a particularly nasty trick to use to get past people’s spam filters. Of course, there are ways to “separate the wheat from the chaff,” so to speak.

Most of these spam “Order Status” messages seem to have a “From” address that’s the same as the address they’re sent to – in other words, when they show up in your inbox, they look as if they were sent by you!

So I guess my holiday spam-avoiding tip for everyone this year is “delete emails that look like ‘order status’ messages but that appear to come from your own email address.” Not the greatest of tips, but hey, every little bit helps.

Stay safe from spam this holiday season!

Email image courtesy of the Tango Desktop Project.