Microsoft gets a lot of

Microsoft gets a lot of crap for having software that is often compromised. Some say it’s due to weak security inherent in their applications while others counter that since they’re the #1 operating system and browser, hackers concentrate their efforts on them. Whatever is the cause for the frequent security holes in Microsoft’s products, the company isn’t doing all it can to remedy the situation.

I was notified about the last two security holes in IE via their security-minded technet site and list. Last time, while patching a hole in IE, I remember not seeing the update at windows update (the automatic OS update service built into win98 and up), and for the newest IE 6 browser hole, the same holds true. I was emailed about this new patch only because I’m on their security bulletin lists. The patch fixes a very serious problem in IE 6; without it, anyone can create a virus and fool your browser into thinking it is a harmless html file. Just to be clear how serious this is: there exists a bug in IE 6 that allows people to run any code they want on your system, by you just browsing to their site. Before I downloaded it, I did a quick check at windows update and scanned for new files. None were offerred and my system was given a clean bill of health.

If Microsoft is serious about protecting their customers and their brand image, I can’t see any reason why they would neglect to inform customers specifically looking to update their software from the very latest and safest software updates. Why would they not help their customers? Is it arrogance? The monopoly thing? Or do they not trust their own patches?

Answer to the ever present

Answer to the ever present question “how bad is the job market in the bay area for web professionals?”

Case in point.

Skills needed: html, flash, animation, perl programming, unix/mysql/php familiarity, some marketing experience, content development experience, and PC maintenance skills.

Oh yeah, and it’s for a porn site.

Pay: $12-$18 per hour and they’ve gotten too many resumes to deal with.

Danza/WHAT is finally revealed over

Danza/WHAT is finally revealed over at 0sil8.

This is what happens when you’ve got too much free time and some web skills. I re-learned Flash enough to remember why I hate the authoring interface, but eventually got the front page done. I re-learned audio and video apps to get the movie done, and I’ve got nothing but good things to say about adobe premiere. It’s come a long way since the last time I used it, and you can do some amazing video work on the desktop.

Stroke

She shook him awake and said "Matthew is here."
"There's Thay?" he mumbled out.
"What?" I had to ask.
"Thor thife, thor thife" he said, to clear things up.
"Oh, my wife! She's in San Francisco, has another week of school left to teach and was sorry she couldn't come. How are you doing?"
My mom was perhaps too optimistic when she spoke to me on the phone the previous day. It was far from the speedy recovery she described.
Quick recap
On Friday, December 7th, around 5:30AM, my mom and dad were setting out to begin their workday (They sell food on a lunch truck, a sort of convenience store on wheels that is sometimes affectionately described as a "roach coach." Growing up, I was usually too embarrassed to have such blue collar parents, and would hide it from friends by saying "they're caterers, they do catering, you know."). They were fully stocked and ready for their first stop at 6:00AM, but as my dad sat at a green light, my mom piped up from the grill in the back "go, it's green." My dad slumped over a bit, and she could tell something was wrong. The next thing she knew, he punched the pedal and fell to the right. The truck jumped the traffic island and knocked over a street light, but thankfully within minutes paramedics and firemen were on the scene. My dad is a large man, and it took them a good 20-30 minutes (according to my mom) to get him out and onto a strecher bound for the hospital. He was speaking at the time and reasonably coherent.
Around 10:30 that morning I got a call from my brother. Seeing my caller ID popup with "Michael – Home" didn't bode well. My first thought was "Why the hell is my brother calling me from his home on a Friday morning? This can't be good." He explained the problem and the prognosis. Later that day, I spoke with my mom and heard the same thing, a stroke, probably caused by a clot going up to the brain, his left side paralyzed. Saturday brought better news, that he could move his left foot down a little bit, and his left arm raised up involuntarily when he waved goodbye to someone. I felt powerless at home, didn't know what more I could do down in Southern California, but I headed out late Saturday to get down for an early morning visit Sunday.
The hospital
When I got to the hospital Sunday morning, no one else was there with him in the Neuro ICU, just me standing at the foot of his bed. His body laid almost completely motionless while he slept, with tubes coming out of every possible place, connected to monitoring devices nearby. My thoughts ran to a couple days before when I read a few emails he sent me, and responded to his instant messages. Friday afternoon, I got a package he mailed me the day before. All that was lively just days before now looked empty. A battered machine lay before me, a machine that pumped blood and air and electricity through flesh and bone that used to talk to me was now still. The machine was hooked to other machines, cold, beeping, machines.
My hearing suddenly went into tunnel mode, and my urge to faint was only being held back by my inability to breathe.
Outside, under the trees I sat in the breezy shade for about twenty minutes before my mom walked past.
When she woke him up, he'd look up at us on his right side, and request handshakes. He had a surprisingly firm grip and mumbled a few short phrases to us. Later on, my mom told me about how he didn't recognize his brother or her brother from their visits the previous day but was happy to hear he knew who I was and recognized me. He asked to see the TV, watched it for about a minute and fell back asleep. We stayed a couple hours, following much the same routine. Wake him up, ask him questions, talk, and watch him fall back asleep.
It seemed clear his mental capacity was there, and like I mentioned before, his language centers were probably not affected. He can talk alright, it's just that his muscles seem to be causing the slurring. The damage appears to be physical and after three days, most likely long-term if not permanent. Mom mentioned he had lost 45 lbs on his most recent diet, but that he was up to his all-time high of 380 lbs when he started the diet. Recovery and physical therapy are sure to be slow, as he wasn't much of a walker before the stroke.
the aftermath
I talked with my mom about what big changes this would bring about. They're about twice my page, at 58 and 57 years old, but had figured retirement was still a decade away. Their house is a two-story one, with their bedroom at the top of a long curving flight of stairs and would have to be sold asap. Their business could be sold, and their truck along with it, or my mom could continue doing it with a new driver if my dad recovered to the point he could stay at home alone. She didn't seem to like the idea of her own early retirement or starting over with a job. They had various retirement investments, but she wasn't sure if now was the time to start drawing from them. She hoped their health insurance was good enough to pay for the long stay and post-recovery period. She brought up the problem I had pointed out years earlier, the fact that my dad did all the finances, and how she wasn't sure what bills needed to get paid or where they were at. She had been staying at her parents place (my grandparents) and would continue doing so. My grandmother is currently battling alzheimer's, so there would be two major problems she'd have to deal with on a daily basis from now on. The worst part of this whole thing seemed to be the toll his current absence would cause. They've been married almost 35 years, and during the last 25 years, they've spent almost 24 hours everyday in each other's presence. They slept next to each other, went to work together, worked alongside each other, came home together, ate dinner and watched TV in the house together. I look at my mom and see a woman that is missing something right now. I couldn't imagine what it would be like if he were gone forever.
Shared experiences
I had received dozens of emails from people that had experience with their parents' strokes. The aftermath for each seemed to run the gamut. Some recovered fully in a short time. Some required a few months. A good deal responded to therapy, some in short periods of time, others taking longer. For some, the therapy seemed to reverse the process as the brain re-mapped new ways of controlling muscles, for others, the therapy seemed to simply make the paralysis manageable. A small portion didn't talk about recovery, and mentioned follow-up strokes and their parent's passing. It was wonderful to hear how others felt in the same situation, what I could expect, and what typically happens. Part of me wishes there were someplace to share such experiences online, to be browsed when the need arises.
It still remains to be seen what will happen next, but for now I can only hope for continued stabilization in his vital signs and a possibility for recovery.

I’ve heard some good news,

I’ve heard some good news, after a cat scan and an angiogram, they found a clot in one of his main arteries. A simple procedure to dissolve it was a success and apparently he’s moving his left leg and arm again. He was speaking before and speaking now, so it seems a speedy recovery is possible.

I heard some very bad

I heard some very bad news today and it made me realize something somewhat depressing.

This morning, while starting his workday with my mom, my dad suffered a stroke. He was driving at the time, and rammed their worktruck into a pole. My mom is fine and I suppose their truck will be ok, but my dad’s left side is paralyzed and he’s currently in ICU, set to undergo surgery later today. I’m grief-stricken over that (and what effect this will have on them, as they ran their own business, entirely by themselves), though Kay says a right brain injury is better than a left one as his speech will have a better chance of remaining intact.

I also realized today that since I’m unemployed, I don’t have any coworkers to share the news with. I talked it over with Kay and that helped, but it sucks to not be at a job where I would normally be surrounded with four or five close friends. I realize that I always took it for granted that I worked at places where my coworkers could also be considered close friends: at UCLA, at Pyra, and even at KnowNow. No one else currently knows about this because I couldn’t tell them, it’s a bit weird to email or IM someone to say your dad had a stroke. It’s also weird to say it here, and I know it may seem self-indulgent for me to turn a post about my dad’s currently grave illness into a reflection on myself, but I had to get this off my chest, to say it somewhere.

Three potential benefits to all,

Three potential benefits to all, if the Segway takes off and gains full acceptance in this country:

– Whether or not it gets allowed on sidewalks, towns will be pressured to build more bike lanes. Getting more bike lanes isn’t easy so if we can gain some lanes due to the Kamen PR machine and funding, at least it will benefit others besides just segway owners.

– If it gets popular, it will reduce the number of cars in downtown areas and the all the associated parking hassles, exhaust, and danger that comes from mixing lots of cars in a small space with lots of people. Downtown areas could be safer to pedestrians and bicyclists.

– I didn’t see a demo of it climbing stairs, so if successful, the company behind it might also help and/or pressure urban areas to become friendlier to people with different mobility needs. If you couldn’t ride a wheelchair from one end of New York City to the other in the year 2000, you might be able to in the year 2005.

So if you walk, ride a bike, or are disabled, you have a lot to gain if this new mode of transportation takes off.