White House open only to Web holiday visitors
Dec. 9, 2001
By JIM BROOKS
I've just returned from a holiday tour of the White House in
You may have heard media reports that security concerns have closed
the White House to tourists for the Christmas season. It's true that
you can't physically walk through the White House, but thanks to the
Internet, you can get what may be a better view than you would in person.
The White House has a virtual tour available at its Web site. The
real star attraction is the 360-degree tours of some of the White
House rooms that have been specially decorated for the holidays.
These include the East Room, the Blue Room, the Green Room, the Red
Room, the State Dining Room and others.
The 360-degree view is just that -- once the room photo loads, you
can use your mouse to ``look'' all around the room. Viewers can zoom
in and zoom out, look straight down or up. It's as complete a view of
a room as you can get in a photo. And in this case it is especially
nice because it's the White House displaying its holiday finest.
The photographs were all taken using ambient lighting, adding real
warmth to the pictures. The number of Christmas trees, lights and
decorations are impressive.
The theme of the holiday decorations in the White House is "Home
for the Holidays," and there are replicas of many presidential
homes used in the decorations around the White House.
You won't want to miss the White House dining room, which is
festively decorated and features a huge gingerbread replica of the
White House as it appeared in 1800. The White House chefs created the
house in scale usual actual blueprints. It took three weeks and 80
pounds of gingerbread, 30 pounds of chocolate and 20 pounds of
marzipan to build the gingerbread house.
There are other holiday-related photos, including shots of staffers
decorating the White House, the presidential Christmas cards current
and past and more.
The only thing missing on the virtual tour of the White House are
people standing in front of you. Visit the White House Web site and
take the tour at www.whitehouse.gov.
HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS. If you are a Kentuckian by birth or
choice, or know someone who has ties to the state, you can treat them
to a little bit of Kentucky they can download and keep on their
computer during the holidays as a screen saver.
The Bardstown-Nelson County Tourism and Convention Commission's Web
site, BardstownTourism.com, features a screensaver that depicts
Federal Hill, the mansion at My Old Kentucky Home State Park, which
is also featured on the back of the recently released Kentucky state quarter.
The scene is "Moonlight at My Old Kentucky Home" by
Kentucky artist C.W. Vittitow. The screensaver features music and a
gentle snowfall. Instructions on how to download and install the
screensaver are available on the Web site.
The screensaver is a nice holiday touch, especially for someone with
ties to the state but won't be able to visit their own Kentucky home
The BardstownTourism.com site also offers some nice Kentucky gift
ideas for the hard-to-shop-for person on your Christmas list.
For more information, visit BardstownTourism.com.
VIRUS OF THE WEEK. Warnings about computer viruses, worms and
other nasty little bugs are becoming so frequent that it is tempting
to just ignore them.
Some of the loudest warnings often come from the companies who market
anti-virus software, and you sometimes wonder if the threat is real.
From where I sit, the threat of computer viruses is real -- at least
to PC owners. Apple Macintosh users have little to worry about when
it comes to viruses. The vast majority of virus threats are aimed at PCs.
The latest computer virus alert is for a worm named "Goner."
Goner, like many of its predecessors, is spread as an attachment via
e-mail, and activated when a user clicks on the attachment.
In Goner's case, the attachment is supposed to be a screen saver that
is being sent from a friend. When Goner infects someone's computer,
it sends itself out to the e-mail addresses in the address book for
Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express.
Goner allegedly tries to disable anti-virus software and firewall
programs on an infected computer by deleting certain files.
The attachment that has been spreading Goner is named goner.scr.
With so many new virus threats coming all the time, weekly updates of
your anti-virus definition files (the files that tell your anti-virus
software about new viruses) are probably your best defense -- along
with never downloaded or clicking on any file attachment you aren't expected.