As per the request of one of the DanceNet readers, here are copies of the past ramblings of the DanceNet Webmaster.
One thing I've never understood is why some venues will hold similar events in the same physical location (albeit different dates). I can see if a swing organization has a dance on one weekend while a ballroom venue has it on another night; they're going after different crowds. However, if two different ballroom dances or two different swing dance venues use the same building for their events, they're just going to canibalize each other's customers. Some people will think, "Oh. I can't go this weekend so I'll go the next weekend (the other's venue)". Some dancers might not want to go dancing at the same location week after week.
New dance promoters should find new locations for their venues and make their mark on it. Make it different from everyone else's event; otherwise, they're just a profiteer trying to cut in on the action.
I helped with a studio dance party this weekend and I spent the entire evening fighting off the urge to play all swing music all night long.
The party probably didn't get the attendance of the previous event because of the short notice, but it was noticed that there was a higher percentage of people who were diehard dancers. A higher percentage of dancers stayed out on the dance floor most of the time. This is the kind of feedback that makes a dj work hard to come up with the music to keep dancers from sitting down.
Speaking of dancers' feedback, I hung out on Friday with a band you should all know. They were playing a gig for a special fundraiser to raise money for a hospice in this state. I'm pretty sure that this band was playing *very* well, better than most times I've heard them. What happened? It was an older crowd and they applauded *every time* after the band finished playing. This is the sort of appreciation that every band needs from their "customers" and incites them to play even better. Please remember that when you dance to live music next time.
This week's Soapbox is a consumer advisory announcement for those of you who have home networks. It's entirely possible that I've already written on the subject but I'm too lazy to go back and check.
I personally like having a wired home network with jacks in the walls that I can plug into For an engineer-type, it's a lot more satisfying to have physical proof of a home network, especially if you can plug several computers into the wall in the same room (can we say "LAN Party!"?). For a nerd, this is proof of geek coolness.
Many of you out there, however, prefer the newer wireless home networks. The prices of the wireless routers are lower than the older prices of regular routers. Wireless adapters are more expensive than a regular ethernet (PCI) cards, but not so much that it would deter someone from setting up a wireless network. It's a nice feeling to be able to use your laptop from any part of your home, including your backyard, and there's no cutting of holes in your wall and snaking wires through them. (having said that, I should note that I buy CAT-5 cable in bulk.)
Many people, particularly those who are somewhat computer-illiterate and/or just don't know anything about home networks, don't bother with appropriate protection for their networks. Some people have fixed IP (Internet protocol) addresses with their broadband and it's more of a target for hackers to break into. For those people, I strong request a router/hardware firewall to protect against people trying to get in, even if there's only going to be one user on that broadband connection.
Of course I advise getting the latest antivirus software as well as a software firewall (from vendors such as Norton, McAfee, or many others). The hardware firewall protects against people coming *in*; the software firewall protects against things going *out*. With my software firewall, I've seen unusual programs trying to "phone home", that is, connect *out* to the Internet. When the name of such a program is made up of non-readable ASCII characters, I'm going to get suspicious. With all the trojan horses and spyware that come with downloaded "free" software, such as those that are used to download and share music, everyone should be aware of some hidden program trying to send home information about *you* and/or your computer.
That's just the simple stuff that everyone should be doing. With wireless networks it gets more complicated. The wireless access points can't be adjusted for their power; they're going to transmit to the extent of their range. If that radius extends beyond the walls of the house, others are going to be able to pick up that signal *and* use it. That's not too bad...if you wanted to give your neighbors unlimited access to the Internet at *your* expense. I just set up another wireless home network, and with a wireless adapter here, we figured out that a next door neighbor had a home network and we even saw the name (SSID) of their home network. And we figured out that their home network was not encrypted.
And speaking of encryption, some people *don't* bother or don't know to set up the encryption key. Go with 128-bit encryption and make up a encryption key that's NOT easy to figure out (don't use the same character for the whole key).
There are hackers who go around with the appropriate antennae to find wireless access points. They figure where they can access the Internet easily and for free. This information gets published on newsgroups and electronic bulletin boards. This activity is called "war driving" and there's even a website on it.
I've seen several publications (such as the various Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers magazines) talk about wireless and they all say that even 128-bit encryption isn't completely safe. The chances of someone tapping into *your* wireless is probably small but it's about the same thing as leaving your front door unlocked all the time. Chances are that no one will come in but are you willing to take that chance? There's new technology and standards that should improve wireless network security but they might not get approved for a couple of years and some of them might not work for small home networks.
If you do get a wireless network, it's been rumored that buying all the pieces from the same vendor will make it easier to set up. This shouldn't be true since they're all suppose to follow the IEEE 802.11a/b standard and are suppose to work with each other. I've set up networks using the Linksys and SMC routers (both wireless and wired). The 3COM wireless PC card was nice because of the pop-out attenna, but it wasn't that powerful. The Linksys (and similar cards) stuck out of the PC slot but worked reasonably well. My favorite was the Netgear MA101 wireless adapter which connected through the USB port. The MA101 (and similar ones from Linksys and others) can be adjusted and maneuvered without having to move the laptop and this feature makes it attractive for a desktop computer too. I assume all wireless adapters should have no problems operating *inside* the house. On the other hand, the MA101 adapter didn't work for me at my friends' house (100% strength but couldn't connect) while it worked fine at another's house.
All things considered, I would say that a wired home network is safer (and easier) than a wireless home network. The signal stays in the wire and doesn't go off into the ether; it's harder to tap from the outside. As soon as I plug in, it's connected. There's no waiting while the adapter scans the area for a wireless network. Practice safe surfing and don't forget to shut the door.
Special thanks to Rob Szarka for recommending his favorite San Jose restaurant, Original Joe's at the corner of (301) South First Street and San Carlos in San Jose, California. It's a Italian Restaurant masquerading as a 50's diner with booths and counter service. I don't think I've seen a wait staff interact with the customers so much, but then, I believe most of them are regulars anyway. I recommend eating at the counter because it's faster seating and you get to watch them make a lot of the food. The prime rib was...perfect. :-) Even the coffee was good.
"Swing is like the Dark Side of the Force...once you've travelled down its path, forever will it dominate your Destiny...."Wish I had thought of it first. :-)
- Dave Wong, Lindy In The Park dj.