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Office Tips for the Rest of Us
Put down that huge Microsoft Office how-to book. Our expert gives you 10 quick-and-easy pointers for getting the most from your programs.
Michael S. Lasky, special to PC World

Microsoft Office is like its namesake company: huge. It's so enormous, in fact, that Microsoft notes most Office users take advantage of less than 15 percent of the features packed into the 245MB of hard disk real estate that the program occupies. And even in the 15 percent that we do use, most of us don't know many of the great built-ins, short cuts, navigational speed tricks, and other documented and undocumented tips for getting the most out of Word, Excel, and Outlook.

You could, of course, buy one of the zillion books that cover every facet of the Office suite, but they too are overwhelming in size--some running up to nearly 1600 pages and weighing six and a half pounds. Or you can start with some of these handy, dandy tips I've discovered or been clued in to by other Office practitioners. All these speed-up tips and shortcuts work in Office 2003, XP, and 2000. They're certain to help you work more productively on Word documents, Excel worksheets, and Outlook e-mails and contact lists.

Zooming with Office: If you have a scroll wheel mouse, you can use the wheel to enlarge or shrink the screen size of your document or worksheet. Hold down the <Ctrl> key and spin the wheel toward yourself to zoom out or away from yourself (forward) to zoom back in. You may need to enable this feature to make it work properly; to do so,in Word or Excel, choose Tools, Options, click the General tab, and check the Zoom on Roll with Intellimouse box (a scroll mouse of any brand will work).

The shortcut to shortcuts: Not sure of a keyboard shortcut, or just want to learn more of them? Let Office help you by turning on the keyboard shortcut display. Select Tools, Customize, click the Options tab, and check the Show shortcut keys in ScreenTips box. Now when you hover the cursor over something like a toolbar icon, no only will a description of the icon function pop up, but so will its keyboard shortcut (if available).

A Word for the Wise

Automate with AutoText: Word has a surfeit of built-in boilerplate phrases ready to be summoned with a mouse click instead of requiring you to manually type them. To access AutoText phrases instantly, right-click anywhere on the toolbar area and select AutoText. You'll find a menu of phrases (such as "To Whom it May Concern") as well as a button for adding your own AutoText entries.

Return to where you left off: Wouldn't it be nice to quickly return to the place in your document where you left off when you last saved? Press <Shift>-<F5> and you're there. In fact, you can repeat the key combo to go to the last three places you made changes.

Two windows, one screen: When you're editing a document or just want to compare parts of one, it's particular handy to have two independently scrollable window panes of the same document. Select Window, Split and a split bar will appear. Using your mouse, move the line to where you want the split to appear and then click the mouse. Any changes you make in one pane will be made in the other because only the number of viewing/editing panes has doubled--not the number of copies of the document. To return to a single-window view, double-click on the split bar.


Excelling With Excel

Changing directions: With so many places (or cells) to go to in Excel, navigation expertise is essential to productivity. One of the simplest--but often overlooked--forms of navigation is the Enter key. By default, when you press Enter, the cursor goes to the next cell down. But it doesn't have to be that way. To change the default direction to right, left, or up, select Tools, Options, click the Edit tab, check the Move selection after Enter box, and then select your direction choice from the pull down menu. Then click OK.

Moving from one worksheet to another is as simple as clicking the Sheet tabs at the bottom of the screen. But if you want to keep your hands on the keyboard, press <Ctrl>-<PageUp> and <Ctrl>-<Page Down> to toggle through each sheet.

Time for a page break: Unlike with dating, in Excel, breaking up is not hard to do--but clean page breaks are essential. Have you ever printed a worksheet only to find a few stray columns or rows orphaned on a separate page? To avoid this problem, preview where the page breaks are set to fall. Select View, Page Break Preview. The first time you visit, you will see a welcome screen that's not particularly helpful. Check the box offering not to show it again. Use the vertical and horizontal scroll bars to view the breaks. Pages will be marked with large labels and page breaks with bold lines. You can then adjust the break lines with your mouse.

To manually set a page break, select the cell that will be the first one on the next page. Choose Insert, Page Break from the menu. To remove a page break, select Insert, Remove Page Break.

Fill 'er up with AutoFill: Excel can remove the drudgery of entering sequences of numbers, dates, days of the week, months, or years, among other boilerplate items. All you need to do is enter one or two items of a sequence in succeeding cells (rows or columns) and AutoFill can do the rest. Here are some examples:


Fill in a series of numbers: To try this out, enter the number 1 in one cell and 2 in the next, then highlight both of those cells. Now hover your cursor over the small black square in the lower right of the selection until the cursor turns into a plus sign (not the plus sign with arrows). Next, drag the corner down or across and in each succeeding cell, Excel will fill the cells with increments of 1 (3, 4, 5, and so forth). If you originally entered 100 and 200, the cells would be AutoFilled with 300, 400, and so on.


Fill in dates: Similarly, enter a single day of the week or month of the year, and Excel will AutoFill each succeeding day or month. When it reaches the end of a series of named days, it will repeat them again in order until the end of your selection. At the end of a month's worth of dates, it will automatically go into the next month. Excel will even fill in a sequence of years or quarters beginning with the one you start with such as 2004, 2005, 2006 or Q1, Q2, Q3, Q4.

By default, AutoFill copies both the formats and values of the cells you choose. To select one or the other, hold down the right mouse key while dragging. Upon release, choose Fill Formatting Only or Fill Without Formatting. If you don't like how AutoFill has filled cells, click AutoFill Smart Tag to display more options.


Looking Out With Outlook

Faster contacts with nicknames: Every contact record in Outlook includes a field called Nickname. While you could actually enter a friend's nickname there (which is what most users think it is for and therefore don't use it), it is a great way to make name matching more precise when sending e-mails.

To use this field, go to a contact's record, click the Details tab, and enter a name that you'll use as a shortcut for calling up the person's info. It can also be useful for differentiating similar close names. For instance, if you have a series of Smiths--Anne, Barrett, Charles--you could enter a nickname for each, such as AS, BS, or Chuck. You don't have to type the full name, or choose the right Smith from a pop-up list, to pinpoint the Smith you're addressing: you simply type their nickname into the "To:" field of your e-mail message.

Find a contact's address on a map: If your PC is connected to the Internet, you can get a map and driving instructions of a contact's address. Click Contacts on the Outlook bar, then select the contact. From the File menu, select Open, Selected Items. Under the Address button, click the down arrow, then click the address you want mapped: Business, Home, or Other. Now go to the Actions menu and click Display Map of Address. Outlook now goes to the MSN Maps Web site to pinpoint the address on a map. Use the controls on that page to further customize your exact directional needs.

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If You Lose Your Cell Phone
The mulitple stages of loss and how to deal with them.
James A. Martin


Feature: Dealing With a Lost Cell Phone

On a Saturday night in a crowded restaurant bar, my cell phone disappeared. The events that followed were sometimes surprising, sometimes frustrating, and ultimately satisfying. Here's an account of what happened, with lessons learned to help you avoid a similar ordeal.

The Vanishing

My friends and I were waiting in a busy San Francisco cocktail lounge for our pal Mary, who was running late. I had just missed a call from her because my Sony Ericsson T616 smart phone was in my pants pocket, and I couldn't hear it ring. I took the phone out and put it on the fireplace mantle next to me, in case Mary tried to call again.

After Mary arrived, our gang quickly moved to a larger table when it suddenly became available. About 10 minutes later, I patted my pockets, looking for my cell phone. It wasn't there. I must have left it on the mantle, I figured.

By now, a new group was occupying our former table. None of them had seen my phone, they claimed, though they helped me search the area (to no avail). The waiter and the bartender assured me no cell phones had been turned in.

The next day, I called the restaurant manager. Still no sign of my phone. I gave her my contact information; she promised to call if the phone turned up.

Given that the T616 is a sleek-looking smart phone, with Bluetooth, camera, e-mail and Web capabilities, I could only assume it had been stolen.

The Suspension

The morning after the disappearance, I called Cingular, my wireless provider, and had my service suspended. I would be liable for any calls placed on my phone up until the suspension, according to the customer service agent.

I went to Cingular's Web site to see if my account reflected any unusual charges. Unfortunately, charges aren't immediately posted to a Cingular account--they're listed only when a new monthly bill is issued.

The Acceptance

waited for several days, then called the manager again. The phone had not been turned in, she reported. Clearly, it was time to accept reality: I needed a new cell phone.

The truth is, I never liked my Sony Ericsson phone. The display was nearly unreadable in bright sunlight. The interface and commands were not intuitive. And I rarely got good, unbroken voice reception. The honeymoon with my T616 had lasted about 5 minutes past the 30-day return policy. So I wasn't exactly in mourning.

The Quandary

I decided to look for a candy-bar style Nokia phone (I prefer that style to flip phones) for $150 or less. Except for the T616, my previous cell phones had been Nokias, and I had missed the easy-to-use, no-nonsense Nokia style.

I made a list of the features I wanted: Bluetooth, for wirelessly syncing with Microsoft Outlook and perhaps making a modem connection with my notebook; a loudspeaker; a screen that was clearly legible in direct sunlight; easy-to-use menus and commands; and good voice quality.

Getting a replacement cell phone wouldn't be as easy as I thought, however.

Because I was on an AT&T Wireless plan, I would have to switch to a Cingular plan if I bought a new Cingular phone, I learned. Cingular and AT&T Wireless merged last year, but you can't use an AT&T Wireless phone with a Cingular service plan, and Cingular is no longer offering AT&T Wireless plans or compatible phones.

Of course, starting a new plan meant signing a new contract. Adding to my frustration was the fact that my AT&T Wireless contract was to expire just one month later. To get a decent price on a new cell phone, Cingular would require me to sign a two-year contract--plus pay an $18 equipment upgrade fee.

Cingular spokesperson Mark Siegel says the fee is a result of necessary processing and administration costs and is standard among wireless carriers.

Also, I learned I'd have to pay full price for a new phone. If I'd wanted a free phone, I would have had to wait another month, a telephone service agent told me. At that point, when my AT&T Wireless contract expired, I would have been eligible for half a dozen or more Cingular phones.

Alternatively, I could buy a used or refurbished AT&T Wireless phone online for use on my existing AT&T Wireless Plan, the customer service agent admitted. But I would have to acquire a new AT&T Wireless SIM card (about $30) to use on the refurbished AT&T Wireless phone. Such cards could only be ordered by phone from Cingular's customer service department, the agent said, and delivery would take several days.

I was in a quandary. I didn't appreciate Cingular's seemingly unwelcoming approach to the AT&T Wireless customers it had acquired. And yet I needed a new cell phone right away and didn't want to deal with buying a used one online.

The Satisfaction

Ultimately, I put my indignation aside to spend $130 on a new Nokia 6230 and sign a two-year Cingular contract.

And so far, I'm glad I did. I'm thrilled with the Nokia 6230. The smart phone has great reception and is easy to use. Plus, it has a display that's clearly legible in direct sunlight; Bluetooth connectivity; a loudspeaker; e-mail and Web browsing; and a camera that captures still pictures and video clips. Check it out at Nokia's site: http://www.nokia.com/nokia/0,,47665,00.html

Also, I'll be receiving a $30 rebate, so the feature-packed phone cost me only $100 plus tax. And unlike my AT&T Wireless plan, my new Cingular plan rolls over unused minutes from one month to the next. My cell phone usage is erratic from month to month, so the rollover is a big plus, in my opinion.

The Surprise Ending

As fate would have it, one day after buying the Nokia and signing the two-year contract, I learned that my old Sony Ericsson phone had been turned into the restaurant's lost-and-found after all.

So I returned to the restaurant and retrieved my phone. Without hesitation, I walked one block and handed the T616 to an employee of The Body Shop. The fragrance/skin-care retail chain accepts donated cell phones for victims of domestic violence.

Lessons Learned


If you're expecting a call in a public place, turn on your cell phone's vibrating alert and keep the device in your pocket or on your lap. Don't leave it on a table or a fireplace mantle, particularly in a crowded cocktail lounge.
If you lose your cell phone in a public place, have your service suspended as soon as possible. Otherwise, you may be liable for expensive charges such as international calls. (Fortunately, that wasn't the case in my situation.)
When you've made the wrong choice in a cell phone or any other product, don't simply live with it, as I did. Life's too short to use an inferior cell phone every day. Return it to the store if it's still within the 30-day period, sell it on EBay, or donate it. As a friend of mine from rural North Carolina likes to say, "Just get shed of it."
When shopping for a new cell phone and/or a service plan, talk to more than one customer service representative. To get the full story of all my options, I had to interview four different Cingular service reps. Surprisingly, the first three never mentioned the rollover minutes--a big selling point. And the first rep I spoke with understated the price of the Nokia 6230 as well as the number of minutes in the Cingular plan I was considering.
Lost your gadget? Move on. After it's clear you've lost a much-needed cell phone or other gadget, don't waste time. Research your options and replace it as soon as possible.

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Man's best friend goes virtual with 'Nintendogs'
Digital puppies are adoring, adorable and very, very addictiveREVIEW
By Tom Loftus
Columnist
MSNBC
Updated: 12:10 p.m. ET Aug. 19, 2005


Tom Loftus
Columnist




The puppies in “Nintendogs,” the virtual pet title for the Nintendo DS, are just so darned cute.

They’re fluffy for one. They hop around on puppy feet too big for their tiny bodies. They chase their tails. When you call their names they scramble up and hop on to their two back legs, front paws pressed against the screen.

First you pick your puppy. “Nintendogs” comes in three versions, each hosting six separate breeds for a total of 18 breeds in total. Dogs such as shepherds, labs, terriers — even that dog-like animal Paris Hilton carries around.

You feed your pup and train it to perform tricks. Using the bottom touchscreen of the Nintendo DS, you can administer playful scratches behind the ear and all sorts of pats and rubs.

As in older virtual pet titles such as the Tamagotchi or NeoPets, owners must care for their pets. Taking the time to clean, exercise and feed your puppy earns its undying loyalty. Negligence leads to a grumpy collection of pixels. The great thing about "Nintendogs" is that your puppy will always be a puppy. And no matter what you do, it will never die. It's always springtime in "Nintendogs."

I have a German shepherd pup, Rex. I've taught him to roll over, chase his tail, catch frisbees and shake hands.

Training is easy. Take the "sit" command, for example. Using the touch screen I give Rex's nose a quick downward brush. He sits. "Sit," I say. "Nintendogs" uses the DS's internal microphone. Repeat the movement and the voice command enough and Rex learns to sit on voice alone.


Nintendo
Even virtual doggies need exercise
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Taking your puppies for walks can yield new tricks. This part isn't virtual: You actually go for a walk, with the Nintendo DS in your pocket. Let me explain. “Nintendogs" has a play mode called "Bark Mode.” If you come within wireless range of another Nintendo DS owner who has their "Nintendogs" set to "Bark Mode," your DS will give a little bark. Ruff! It's an invitation to play. Accept the play date and watch both dogs romp around and swap tricks.

I haven't had the opportunity yet to find another "Nintendogs" owner, but I can't wait.

Owners also can trade personal audio messages in "Bark Mode." Mine says: "I may be over the age range for "Nintendogs," but Rex sure is a cute little pup."

Caring for these little Nintendoggies, all realistically animated and rendered in 3D, can teach children many things: A sense of responsibility, patience — and an obsession with cleaning up poop.

For adults, the “Nintendogs” experience is not so cut and dry.

I drove my co-workers crazy as I shouted one-word commands into the DS: “Sit!” “Shake!” “Roll-over!” So I took "Nintendogs" home to play with.

One evening Rex was in an irritable mood. I couldn’t get him to catch his Frisbee. I was planning on entering one of the many Frisbee contests available on Nintendogs. I wanted to earn more virtual money so I could visit the virtual pet store and buy Rex a sombrero.

(Yes, there is such a thing as a puppy sombrero.)

But Rex would have none of it. He just sat there, his big brown eyes pleading. What is it, Rex? Another walk? Water?

Rex and I were having a moment. Then I felt something tug my pants. It was my 5-month-old daughter. Watching daddy talk to his Nintendo DS was an odd sight, I assume, and so she had crawled over to investigate.

She looked up. Big brown eyes. What is it? Hungry? Poo poo in your diapers?

There was, I admit, a millisecond of “what should I do?” as two sets of brown eyes, virtual and real, stared unblinking. And looking back I can understand why "Nintendogs" was a huge hit in Japan last year — Japan, home of the lowest birth rate in the first world.

I left Rex alone with his water bowl for a couple hours. I'm sorry. "Nintendogs" is awfully cute. But it's not that cute.

© 2005 MSNBC Interactive

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Sender ID's fading message
Last modified: August 9, 2005, 4:00 AM PDT
By Joris Evers
Staff Writer, CNET News.com

At the start of last year, Bill Gates told the world's elite at an annual conference in Davos, Switzerland, that the problem of spam would be solved in two years.

But if the Microsoft chairman was betting on Sender ID to play a major role in achieving that goal, it looks like a losing bet.

The Microsoft-backed protocol to identify e-mail senders aims to stem spam and phishing by making it harder for senders to forge their addresses and by improving filtering. So far, though, there's been a lack of adoption by legitimate businesses. Instead, it's been proving popular with a group it's meant to deter--spammers.

That could spell trouble. Confidence in e-mail is falling, as its abuse for online scams is growing. If legitimate businesses don't sign up for Sender ID or similar technologies, that trend could continue and undermine e-mail's usefulness.

"There is an identity crisis for e-mail right now," said Samantha McManus, a business strategy manager at Microsoft. "The e-mail infrastructure was built in a different era, when you actually knew who was sending you e-mail and you did not have to worry."

Phishing uses spam e-mail with a forged sender name and a link to a fraudulent Web site in an attempt to trick the victim into giving up sensitive personal information such as passwords. That fraud scheme and other cyberthreats are taking a toll on consumer confidence that will inhibit e-commerce growth in the United States by up to 3 percent in the next three years, Gartner predicted in June. In the same survey, the research firm found that more than 80 percent of online consumers in the United States distrust e-mails from individuals or consumers they don't know.

Basically, Sender ID checks whether an e-mail that claims to come from a certain Internet domain (such as "customerservice@anybank.com") really originates from the e-mail servers associated with that domain ("anybank.com"). The system uses the Domain Name System, or DNS, to make that determination. Sender Policy Framework (SPF), which merged with Microsoft's Caller ID for E-mail Technology to become Sender ID, also uses the same approach.

If adopted widely, an e-mail authentication technology like Sender ID could help people make sure that a message that claims to be from their bank actually was sent by the bank. Authentication alone does not stop junk and spoofed messages, but it can make spam filters more effective, by allowing filters to rate domains based on the e-mail that is sent, for example.

But the use of authentication technology requires a major change in the e-mail infrastructure. Any organization that maintains an e-mail server--that includes companies, schools, Internet service providers and others--has to publish SPF or Sender ID records, or both, to identify their mail servers.

That wide-ranging shake-up is just what the e-mail infrastructure needs, said Meng Wong, the chief technology officer for special projects at e-mail forwarding company POBox.com and a developer of the original SPF specification.

"E-mail is broken," he said. "We will need some shocks to the system to fix it. There is a certain tolerance for breaking things a bit more, as long as you get it fixed. Kind of like when somebody's shoulder is dislocated, you know it is going to hurt when you put it back, but at least it is temporary."

So far, Sender ID and related technologies have not delivered on their promise. There is a lack of adoption by legitimate e-mail senders. Spammers have adopted Sender ID and its predecessor SPF, but without adoption by a critical mass of legitimate e-mail senders, the technology will fail, experts said. With that failure, one shot at fixing e-mail could be lost.

What's involved?
Microsoft argues that publishing SPF or Sender ID records is simple for those organizations that want to do it. It usually does not require new hardware or software. The most arduous part is doing an inventory of mail servers and the subsequent maintenance of that record, Microsoft's McManus said.

Doing that inventory and doing it right are where people run into trouble. Large organizations often have complex e-mail systems that are managed by many people in different geographic locations, according to Gartner. Also, parts of the company's e-mail or DNS infrastructure may be outsourced, making the task more complex. At the other end of the scale, many smaller companies don't have the expertise to publish information on their e-mail servers in their DNS record, Gartner said.

Also complicating matters are the multiple specifications that
exist. There are several versions of SPF, and there is Sender ID, for example.

Those could be reasons why the technology hasn't proved too popular with businesses. Gartner analyst Lydia Leong doesn't expect companies to start picking it up anytime soon. "Adoption will be slow, and many enterprises will not publish records until 2007," she said.

About 1 million domains currently publish SPF records, Microsoft said. That's much fewer than the 71.4 million
There is evidence to suggest that quite a few of the technology's adopters are senders of junk e-mail. Out of a sample of more than 17.7 million e-mail messages taken in late June, a little more than 9 percent were from domains that published an SPF or Sender ID record, according to spam-filtering company MX Logic. About 84 percent of those authenticated messages were spam, it found.

"The majority of the adoption has been by rogue senders trying to get some legitimacy for their messages," said Scott Chasin, the chief technology officer at Denver-based MX Logic.

For spammers, publishing a valid record means they will pass any Sender ID authentication part of a general spam check. Earlier this year, Microsoft said its Web-based e-mail service Hotmail would start flagging messages without valid authentication. Later this year, the company plans to introduce "tougher filtering on nonauthenticated e-mail," Craig Spiezle, director of Microsoft's technology care and safety group, said in June.

"The spammers have more of a motivation to go and do it than most other people," said Forrester analyst Paul Stamp.

Critical mass
For Sender ID to get picked up more widely, the technology needs to become easier to adopt and provide a clear benefit to users, analysts and experts said. "If we don't reach critical mass on the authentication of legitimate senders, there are going to be dire consequences," said Dave Lewis, vice president of marketing at Redwood Shores, Calif.-based StrongMail.

Many of the legitimate e-mail senders who have attempted to publish information on their e-mail servers have made errors, said Dean Drako, the CEO of Barracuda Networks, a Mountain View, Calif.-based maker of antispam appliances.

"We're big proponents of SPF, and all our boxes support it," Drako said. "But we have to recommend to our customers that they do not do any filtering on it, because there are too many false positives. A significant number of people who have published their SPF record have done so incorrectly."

Working with e-mail authentication should be made easier for companies, agreed Lewis of StrongMail. For example, makers of e-mail server software could include simple wizards that collect the needed information, he suggested. "Also, notice back should be provided if there is improper authentication," he said.

Sender ID may not be the perfect solution, Lewis said. "But if we hold out for the silver bullet, we will see a continued erosion in consumer trust in e-mail."

The problem goes beyond junk mail that advertises herbal stimulants or get-rich-quick schemes. Phishing is costing victims real money. An estimated 2.42 million U.S. adults lost money in phishing attacks in the 12-month period that ended in May, according to Gartner. Total losses amounted to nearly $929 million, the research firm said. That in turn hurts customers' relationships with online businesses.

"Where sender authentication is really valuable to enterprises, right now, is in the area of phishing," Gartner's Leong said.

That is why major e-commerce players such as eBay and banks such as Bank of America have been among the first to adopt it, Leong said. Those businesses are among the 36 companies, organizations and individuals who, along with Microsoft and SPF developer Wong, sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission to promote industry collaboration on e-mail authentication.

Standard process
The move was only the latest for Microsoft, which has been pushing for widespread e-mail authentication since Gates unveiled the predecessor to the current Sender ID specification in February 2004. But the effort has had its critics. Some have accused the Redmond, Wash., software giant of trying to strong-arm the industry into accepting Sender ID, especially given its warning that Hotmail may treat unauthenticated messages as spam.

Critics have pointed out that Sender ID is not an accepted standard, and some say it has many shortcomings. Last year, the Internet Engineering Task Force, a standards-setting body, let a Sender ID working group expire. The Internet Engineering Steering Group, a division of the IETF, said in June that it would solicit comments on Sender ID and on SPF as two separate proposals.

There are technologies that offer an alternative to Sender ID and SPF, such as Yahoo and Cisco Systems' DomainKeys Identified Mail, which is also making its way through the standards process. DKIM attaches a digital signature to outgoing e-mail so that recipients can verify that the message comes from its claimed source.

The Sender ID and DKIM camps, however, say the technologies are complimentary, and many of the companies that back Sender ID also support DKIM.

That flexibility could prove a benefit in the fight against spam and phishing if Sender ID ends up having to co-exist with other technologies. It's also a sign that the software industry is serious in its desire to crush spam and keep e-mail functioning. At the moment, though, a lack of enthusiasm and know-how is holding up mass adoption. But for Barracuda Networks' Drako, it's actually the lack of immediate payback that's keeping a majority of the legitimate e-mail senders from using the e-mail authentication technology.

"It won't solve a problem until everybody adopts it," Drako said, echoing other experts. "If we can get to a place where a significant portion of e-mail has valid SPF records, then we can start to do things to fight spam more effectively."

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Court records should go online, state panel says
Last modified: August 19, 2005, 11:19 AM PDT
By Anne Broache
Staff Writer, CNET News.com

Florida courts should post most of their records online, but stricter data privacy laws are needed both in the state and nationwide, a judicial advisory committee said Thursday.

Many of the 24 formal recommendations released by the Florida Supreme Court's Committee on Privacy and Court Records revolve around the idea that access to public records--with appropriate redactions for confidentiality--is the key to ensuring government efficiency, accountability and transparency.

Florida has earned a reputation for its "open government" principles, beginning with a 1909 public records law and augmented by the 1967 enactment of a "government in the sunshine" law, which grants basic access to government meetings.

But right now, electronic court records in Florida are tricky to obtain. In November 2003, the Florida Supreme Court barred courts from releasing documents through the Internet or in "bulk electronic form" except in special circumstances. The moratorium came about because a couple of the state's court systems "basically started dumping everything online," including sensitive family law documents, said Michael Froomkin, a University of Miami law professor who served on the committee.

So the state supreme court convened a 15-member committee, composed of judges, lawyers, clerks and court administrators, to study the situation.

In their final recommendations, about two-thirds of the committee supported putting the records online--but only with safeguards. They said that courts must first create new rules clarifying, among other things, what precisely needs to be redacted as confidential information and establishing limits on what can be released. Mental health, medical, drug treatment and family law records, for example, would not be authorized for release except in special circumstances.

But why not continue to make people trek to the courthouse to get the documents they need, asked a minority of the committee. Publishing the records online would lead to "an immediate and pervasive loss of privacy," wrote Judge Jacqueline Griffin of Orlando, Fla.

The entire group urged the Florida Legislature to enact "meaningful privacy reforms" that go beyond existing laws to regulate not just credit reporting agencies but also so-called "data brokers" that aggregate and sell personal information. It also encouraged Congress to take action but warned that any federal regulation should establish baseline regulations and leave states free to build their own, more stringent provisions. For the most part, the data security bills introduced in Congress this year propose pre-empting state rules.

Within the next few weeks, the recommendations will be transmitted formally to the Supreme Court, which returns Monday from its summer recess. Implementation of any new rules or processes could take years and undergo a formal public comment process.

"Where they're going to come out, frankly, I have no idea," said Steve Henley, a Florida Supreme Court operations consultant and the committee's lead staffer. "It's a difficult set of issues, and reasonable people can come out in different places."

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Light reading

Light changes to ORANGE

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The Tell-Tale Heart

by Edgar Allan Poe


TRUE!-NERVOUS--very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am! but why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses--not destroyed--not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How, then, am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily--how calmly I can tell you the whole story.

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Woody1


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It is impossible to tell how first the idea entered my brain; but once conceived, it haunted me day and night. Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire. I think it was his eye! Yes, it was this! One of his eyes resembled that of a vulture--a pale blue eye, with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; and so by degrees--very gradually--I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever.

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Woody1


quality posts: 30 Private Messages Woody1

Now this is the point. You fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing. But you should have seen me. You should have seen how wisely I proceeded--with what caution--with what foresight--with what dissimulation I went to work!

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Woody1


quality posts: 30 Private Messages Woody1

I was never kinder to the old man than during the whole week before I killed him. And every night, about midnight, I turned the latch of his door and opened it--oh, so gently! And then, when I had made an opening sufficient for my head, I put in a dark lantern, all closed, closed, so that no light shone out, and then I thrust in my head. Oh, you would have laughed to see how cunningly I thrust it in! I moved it slowly--very, very slowly, so that I might not disturb the old man's sleep. It took me an hour to place my whole head within the opening so far that I could see him as he lay upon his bed. Ha!--would a madman have been so wise as this? And then, when my head was well in the room, I undid the lantern cautiously--oh, so cautiously--cautiously (for the hinges creaked)--I undid it just so much that a single thin ray fell upon the vulture eye. And this I did for seven long nights--every night just at midnight--but I found the eye always closed; and so it was impossible to do the work; for it was not the old man who vexed me, but his Evil Eye. And every morning, when the day broke, I went boldly into the chamber, and spoke courageously to him, calling him by name in a hearty tone, and inquiring how he had passed the night. So you see he would have been a very profound old man, indeed, to suspect that every night, just at twelve, I looked in upon him while he slept.

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Woody1


quality posts: 30 Private Messages Woody1


Upon the eighth night I was more than usually cautious in opening the door. A watch's minute hand moves more quickly than did mine. Never before that night had I felt the extent of my own powers--of my sagacity. I could scarcely contain my feelings of triumph. To think that there I was, opening the door, little by little, and he not even to dream of my secret deeds or thoughts. I fairly chuckled at the idea; and perhaps he heard me; for he moved on the bed suddenly, as if startled. Now you may think that I drew back--but no. His room was as black as pitch with the thick darkness (for the shutters were close fastened, through fear of robbers), and so I knew that he could not see the opening of the door, and I kept pushing it on steadily, steadily.

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Woody1


quality posts: 30 Private Messages Woody1

I had my head in, and was about to open the lantern, when my thumb slipped upon the tin fastening, and the old man sprang up in bed, crying out: "Who's there?"

I kept quite still and said nothing. For a whole hour I did not move a muscle, and in the meantime I did not hear him lie down. He was still sitting up in the bed listening;--just as I have done, night after night, hearkening to the death watches in the wall.

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Woody1


quality posts: 30 Private Messages Woody1

Presently I heard a slight groan, and I knew it was the groan of mortal terror. It was not a groan of pain or grief--oh no!--it was the low stifled sound that arises from the bottom of the soul when overcharged with awe. I knew the sound well. Many a night, just at midnight, when all the world slept, it has welled up from my own bosom, deepening, with its dreadful echo, the terrors that distracted me. I say I knew it well. I knew what the old man felt, and pitied him, although I chuckled at heart. I knew that he had been lying awake ever since the first slight noise, when he had turned in the bed. His fears had been ever since growing upon him. He had been trying to fancy them causeless, but could not. He had been saying to himself: "It is nothing but the wind in the chimney--it is only a mouse crossing the floor," or "it is merely a cricket which has made a single chirp." Yes, he had been trying to comfort himself with these suppositions; but he had found all in vain. All in vain; because Death, in approaching him. had stalked with his black shadow before him, and enveloped the victim. And it was the mournful influence of the unperceived shadow that caused him to feel--although he neither saw nor heard--to feel the presence of my head within the room.

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Woody1


quality posts: 30 Private Messages Woody1

When I had waited a long time, very patiently, without hearing him lie down, I resolved to open a little--a very, very little crevice in the lantern. So I opened it--you cannot imagine how stealthily, stealthily--until, at length, a single dim ray, like the thread of the spider, shot from out the crevice and full upon the vulture eye.

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Woody1


quality posts: 30 Private Messages Woody1

It was open--wide, wide open--and I grew furious as I gazed upon it. I saw it with perfect distinctness--all a dull blue, with a hideous veil over it that chilled the very marrow in my bones; but I could see nothing else of the old man's face or person: for I had directed the ray, as if by instinct, precisely upon the damned spot.

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Woody1


quality posts: 30 Private Messages Woody1

And now--have I not told you that what you mistake for madness is but over-acuteness of the senses?--now, I say, there came to my ears a low, dull, quick sound, such as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I knew that sound well too. It was the beating of the old man's heart. It increased my fury, as the beating of a drum stimulates the soldier into courage.

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Woody1


quality posts: 30 Private Messages Woody1

But even yet I refrained and kept still. I scarcely breathed. I held the lantern motionless. I tried how steadily I could maintain the ray upon the eye. Meantime the hellish tattoo of the heart increased. It grew quicker and quicker' and louder and louder every instant. The old man's terror must have been extreme! It grew louder, I say, louder every moment!--do you mark me well? I have told you that I am nervous: so I am. And now at the dead hour of night, amid the dreadful silence of that old house, so strange a noise as this excited me to uncontrollable terror. Yet, for some minutes longer I refrained and stood still. But the beating grew louder, louder! I thought the heart must burst. And now a new anxiety seized me--the sound would be heard by a neighbor! The old man's hour had come! With a loud yell, I threw open the lantern and leaped into the room. He shrieked once--once only. In an instant I dragged him to the floor, and pulled the heavy bed over him. I then smiled gaily, to find the deed so far done. But, for many minutes, the heart beat on with a muffled sound. This, however, did not vex me; it would not be heard through the wall. At length it ceased. The old man was dead. I removed the bed and examined the corpse. Yes, he was stone, stone dead. I placed my hand upon the heart and held it there many minutes. There was no pulsation. He was stone dead. His eye would trouble me no more.

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Woody1


quality posts: 30 Private Messages Woody1

If still you think me mad, you will think so no longer when I describe the wise precautions I took for the concealment of the body. The night waned, and I worked hastily, but in silence. First of all I dismembered the corpse. I cut off the head and the arms and the legs.

I then took up three planks from the flooring of the chamber, and deposited all between the scantlings. I then replaced the boards so cleverly, so cunningly, that no human eye--not even his--could have detected anything wrong. There was nothing to wash out--no stain of any kind--no blood-spot whatever. I had been too wary for that. A tub had caught all--ha! ha!

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Woody1


quality posts: 30 Private Messages Woody1

When I had made an end of these labors, it was four o'clock--still dark as midnight. As the bell sounded the hour, there came a knocking at the street door. I went down to open it with a light heart--for what had I now to fear? There entered three men, who introduced themselves, with perfect suavity, as officers of the police. A shriek had been heard by a neighbor during the night: suspicion of foul play had been aroused; information had been lodged at the police office, and they (the officers) had been deputed to search the premises.

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Woody1


quality posts: 30 Private Messages Woody1

I smiled--for what had I to fear? I bade the gentlemen welcome. The shriek, I said, was my own in a dream. The old man, I mentioned, was absent in the country. I took my visitors all over the house. I bade them search--search well. I led them, at length, to his chamber. I showed them his treasures, secure, undisturbed. In the enthusiasm of my confidence, I brought chairs into the room, and desired them here to rest from their fatigues, while I myself, in the wild audacity of my perfect triumph, placed my own seat upon the very spot beneath which reposed the corpse of the victim.

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Woody1


quality posts: 30 Private Messages Woody1

The officers were satisfied. My manner had convinced them. I was singularly at ease. They sat, and while I answered cheerily, they chatted familiar things. But, ere long, I felt myself getting pale and wished them gone. My head ached, and I fancied a ringing in my ears: but still they sat and still chatted. The ringing became more distinct:--it continued and became more distinct: I talked more freely to get rid of the feeling: but it continued and gained definiteness--until, at length, I found that the noise was not within my ears.

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Woody1


quality posts: 30 Private Messages Woody1


No doubt I now grew very pale,--but I talked more fluently, and with a heightened voice. Yet the sound increased--and what could I do? It was a low, dull, quick sound--much such a sound as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I gasped for breath--and yet the officers heard it not. I talked more quickly--more vehemently; but the noise steadily increased. Why would they not be gone? I paced the floor to and fro with heavy strides, as if excited to fury by the observation of the men--but the noise steadily increased. Oh, God; what could I do? I foamed--I raved--I swore! I swung the chair upon which I had been sitting, and grated it upon the boards, but the noise arose over all and continually increased. It grew louder--louder --louder! And still the men chatted pleasantly, and smiled. Was it possible they heard not? Almighty God!--no, no! They heard!--they suspected--they knew!--they were making a mockery of my horror!--this I thought, and this I think. But anything was better than this agony! Anything was more tolerable than this derision! I could bear those hypocritical smiles no longer! I felt that I must scream or die!--and now--again!--hark! louder! louder! louder!

"Villains!" I shrieked, "dissemble no more! I admit the deed!--tear up the planks!--here, here!--it is the beating of his hideous heart!"


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Woody1


quality posts: 30 Private Messages Woody1

End of story, so what did you learn today?

Blenders are good for mixing things.Drinks.Drinks.Drinks.Drinks..HA HA HA Cool

No I have not been drinking, just happy Friday [Z]

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acemom


quality posts: 0 Private Messages acemom
 Woody1 wrote:
End of story, so what did you learn today?

Blenders are good for mixing things.Drinks.Drinks.Drinks.Drinks..HA HA HA Cool

No I have not been drinking, just happy Friday [Z]



Woody, hon, I think that Taser experience mighta scrambled a few of your neurons.



obob


quality posts: 6 Private Messages obob
 Woody1 wrote:
New thread. I'm thinking this is going to be quite one sided and should probably just be called "Woody's One Place". Not to be conceded, or arrogant, but I intend to really fill this baby up in my spare time. No post whoring, just trivial factoids, news of the day, weather reports, daily scuttle, and some entertaining stories. After all, this is my second home.



geeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeezzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz, man

get a blog

what, Me, sig?

Woody1


quality posts: 30 Private Messages Woody1
 obob wrote:


geeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeezzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz, man

get a blog



This is a blog (big lot of goodies)

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Woody1


quality posts: 30 Private Messages Woody1
 acemom wrote:


Woody, hon, I think that Taser experience mighta scrambled a few of your neurons.


Synaps misfires, uh what?, I might have a brain cloud? But I won't jump in the Volcano for Orange soda mom.....

That was wootdedo island, where the litle squirrel runs up the dock and yells "Boss, da pain, da pain" LOL!

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Woody1


quality posts: 30 Private Messages Woody1

Let's have a few top tens, in the ORANGE!

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Woody1


quality posts: 30 Private Messages Woody1

Letterman - Top Ten Things Governor Schwarzenegger Hears In A Typical Day

10. "When are you going to drop the phony accent?"

9. "Read the Education Budget and then you can have some Strudel."

8. "Why does this place always smell like Baby Oil?"

7. "Are you driving the Hummer to the Earth Day rally?"

6. "Letterman on the phone again -- should I tell him you're still in a meeting?"

5. "The Governor will answer a few questions then show off his abs and delts."

4. "Relax, Governor -- I wasn't sent from the future to kill you."

3. "When shaking hands with assembly members, stop squeezing once you hear a crack."

2. "You gave up a $25 million salary to do this?!"

1. "Governor, please put the desk down."

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Woody1


quality posts: 30 Private Messages Woody1

Top Ten Catch Phrases Ryan Seacrest Rejected Before "Seacrest Out!" presented by Ryan Seacrest

10. "Seabiscuit out!"

9. "Wow, I'm gorgeous!"

8. "Next time bring your sister, you hump."

7. "All hail North Korea's brave leader Kim Jong-Il!"

6. "This is Ryan Seacrest saying, 'Don't let the Asian Bird Flu get you!'"

5. "I'm lactose-intolerant."

4. "Don't have your pets spayed or neutered."

3. "This has been Ryan Seacrest on 'American Idol,' or 'American Top 40,' or 'On-Air with Ryan Seacrest,' or whatever the hell I'm on right now!"

2. "Vote for Kucinich/Seacrest this November."

1. "So long, losers!"

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Woody1


quality posts: 30 Private Messages Woody1



Top Ten Good Things About Being A New York Yankee presented by George Steinbrenner

10. "With the player discount, a hot dog at Yankee Stadium is now only $50"

9. "Your bobble-head doll is a legal form of identification in New York State"

8. "With me there's very little pressure to win"

7. "Hideki Matsui can teach you to sing in Japanese"

6. "After every game, Yogi Berra gives you a complimentary foot massage"

5. "Our spring training facility is near a Hooters"

4. "Take it from the guy signing the checks -- some of the players do OK for themselves"

3. "Pinstripes make your butt look slimmer"

2. "You get to meet all of Derek Jeter's girlfriends"

1. "You think this A-Rod deal is good? We're about to sign TY Cobb"

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Woody1


quality posts: 30 Private Messages Woody1

Top Ten Things I'd Like To Get Off My Chest Now That I'm in the Baseball Hall of Fame
(As presented by Paul Moliter and Dennis Eckersley)

10. "Once after I hit a grand slam I kissed the umpire on the mouth"

9. "In case there's any confusion, when I die, please don't freeze me"

8. "On July 17, 1984, I told the manager I pulled a hamstring and I went to see 'Ghostbusters'"

7. "Thank God I was never a Devil Ray"

6. "I joined a gym so I can continue to shower with men"

5. "Forget all that stuff during contract negotiations -- I was seriously, seriously overpaid"

4. "I traded my 1993 World Series ring for two front row tickets to a Jethro Tull concert"

3. "Once a guy made a joke about the mustache so I beat him to death with a Fungo Bat"

2. "During difficult times in my life I rebroadcast or retransmitted games without the express written consent of Major League Baseball"

1. "Earlier today, I married Britney Spears"

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Woody1


quality posts: 30 Private Messages Woody1

Top Ten Messages on Britney Spears' Answering Machine

10. "This is the printing company. Your wedding announcements are ready"

9. "Hey, it's Christina Aguilera, did you get married or did I?"

8. "It's the printing company. Your annulment announcements are ready"

7. "Rush Limbaugh here. I'd love to try whatever you were taking the other night."

6. "So other than the embarrassing marriage and annulment, how was Vegas?"

5. "Hey, it's Paris. You don't need to get married to get attention. Just have sex on the internet."

4. "This is Kenny from high school. I have a couple of hours free on Thursday if you want to get married and divorced."

3. "Honey, it's Liza. Next time, instead of an annulment, hit him with a bottle."

2. "It's Jessica Simpson. Thanks for making me look like a genius."

1. "Pete Rose here. I bet 10,000 dollars on your marriage lasting a week"

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Woody1


quality posts: 30 Private Messages Woody1

Top Ten Things We Learned From The Mars Rover

10. Contrary to earlier findings, Mars only about a mile from Earth

9. NASA's Mars footage looks suspiciously similar to Atari's Asteroids

8. So far, no sign of Mork

7. Thought I saw Paris Hilton having sex with a Martian

6. We could've taken a photo of Death Valley and saved 400-million dollars

5. The Mars invasion force is already on its way and there's not a damn thing we can do about it

4. It's much more Mars-y than we even imagined

3. Whole "red planet" thing just a marketing ploy by Cherry 7-Up

2. Kucinich's popularity rating on Mars is the same as on Earth

1. Osama ain't there, either

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Woody1


quality posts: 30 Private Messages Woody1

Top 10 Good Things About Having A Stripper As A News Anchor

10. "Finally, a way to get teens interested in current events."

9. "Easy way of fulfilling the station's FCC nudity requirement."

8. "Top story tonight -- I got a new tattoo."

7. "Impressive to watch her do the news while the sports guy's throwing dollars at her."

6. "Oh geez, I dunno -- Maybe the fact that she's naked!"

5. "Carrying on the proud tradition started by Edward R. Murrow."

4. "Fun to hear anchor say, "To hear more on the Iowa Caucus, meet me in the Champagne Room in 5 minutes."

3. "She covers the five W's of journalism; who, what, when, where and WOW!"

2. "Studies have found that clothing detracts from viewers' ability to process news."

1. Viewers intrigued every time she says, "This just in."

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Woody1


quality posts: 30 Private Messages Woody1

Top 10 Questions Received By The Toro Snow Blower Hotline

10. "I'm blowing into it, but it won't snow"

9. "Do you make one for rain?"

8. "Who do I call about reattaching my hand?"

7. "Can you use it to make sno-cones?"

6. "This is Monica Lewinsky, are you looking for a spokesperson?"

5. "Can I use it to make cole slaw?"

4. "Toro? Oh, I'm sorry. I was trying to call Zorro?"

3. "Can I use the snow blower indoors as a fan?"

2. "Where exactly does Bush think he's getting the money to go to Mars?"

1. "Can I blow myself?"

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Woody1


quality posts: 30 Private Messages Woody1

Top 10 Al Roker Explanations For Why It's So Cold"

10. "An area of low pressure, which is formed in eastern Canada, moved quickly southeast... oh, who am I kidding? I have no idea what I'm talking about"

9. "You didn't hear it from me, but earth has spun out of orbit and is hurdling away from the sun"

8. "With a Kuchinich Presidency still a slight possibility, hell is beginning to freeze over"

7. "Who cares about the weather -- "Don't I look great?""

6. "The Gods are angry about that Britney Spears marriage"

5. "Someone must have left the Ed Sullivan Theater doors open"

4. "If I actually knew, don't you think I'd be doing something about it"

3. "Let's just say it's gonna stay cold 'till I get a raise"

2. "Don't know, but we could figure it out over a warm snuggle by a roaring fire at my place"

1. "It's January, you pantywaists -- get over it!!"

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Woody1


quality posts: 30 Private Messages Woody1

Top 10 Reasons George W. Bush Wants To Put A Man On Mars

10. Dick Cheney needs a new undisclosed location

9. It's part of his "No Planet Left Behind" initiative

8. Great deal on the off-season airfare right now at Expedia.com

7. Maybe we'll find some weapons of mass destruction there

6. We've run out of places on Earth to drill for oil

5. Hoping to get Mork's autograph

4. We cannot back down until the people of Mars hold free elections

3. Dude, free Mars bars

2. Why not? It's not like we have an enormous debt or failing economy

1. Pete Rose bet him we wouldn't do it

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Woody1


quality posts: 30 Private Messages Woody1

Top 10 Signs Your Car Should Be Recalled

10. "Leaks brake fluid, transmission fluid and blood"

9. "It can only make left turns"

8. "Ambulances follow you around"

7. "It was rated a "Best Buy" by "Faulty Wiring Magazine""

6. "It has the same battery as your watch"

5. "Heater control is marked "Low," "High" and "Sars""

4. "Page 74 of the owners' manual advises: "Car is for display purposes only""

3. "Blue book value: $38.75"

2. "Seatbelts are made of delicious Taffy"

1. "Dealer promised engine would last as long as your marriage to Britney Spears"

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Woody1


quality posts: 30 Private Messages Woody1

Top 10 Reasons I'm Happy To Have Been Born February 29th

10. "My house isn't all cluttered with thoughtful birthday presents"

9. "Between my birthday and the damn groundhog, February's a non-stop party"

8. "Though it's not legal, I pay my taxes once every four years, too"

7. "You think I'd be appearing on national TV if I'd been born February 28th?"

6. "How many people get a car on their fifth birthday?"

5. "We still pay the children's price at the movies"

4. "Lack of birthday cake has kept me relatively thin"

3. "There's nothing good about it -- I just wanted to meet Cosby"

2. "Dumb people think you're supernatural"

1. "I don't know why, but it gets me a lot of tail"

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