layout hack
layout hackMain Pagelayout hack
layout hack
RSS Feed RSS Feed Main page
layout hack
layout hack
layout hackAbout Melayout hack
layout hack
Software I wrote
Friends of mine
Stuff I have for sale
layout hack
layout hack
layout hackPersonal Newslayout hack
layout hack
March, April.
January, March, August.
Jan, Feb, Apr, May, July, August, September, October.
Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.
Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.
Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.
Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.
Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.
Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.
Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.
Jan, Feb, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Oct, Nov, Dec.
Jan, Feb, Jun, Oct, Dec.
Jul, Aug, Sep, Nov.
layout hack
layout hack
layout hackGeek Stuff (computer related)layout hack
layout hack
Digital Music
Why LiveWire Sucks
Why ASP Sucks (a bit)
layout hack
layout hack
layout hack(some of) My Interestslayout hack
layout hack
Sony Playstation
layout hack
layout hack
layout hackSearchlayout hack
layout hack

layout hack
layout hackAdslayout hack
layout hack

Valid HTML 4.01!

February 29, 2004

Fiid is doing the AIDS/LifeCycle 3 ride this year. Kim mentioned that this event has a history of scandal regarding the amount of money that didn't actually make it from the donors to the charity. Fiid had been previously alerted to this issue and has provided us with this explanation of why it isn't a problem anymore.

Got an iPod Mini? Apparently Belkin thinks this is a bad thing (from the Belkin online store).

Are you a conspiracy theorist? Try this one: Date Trees and Flies in the Ointment: The U.S. "Capture" of Saddam Hussein. The accusation is that Saddam was actually captured in the late summer of 2003, and that his capture was kept secret for roughly four months until it was politically advantageous to go public. The proof? Well, in a few photographs, there are date trees, with dates still on them. According to exactly one Iranian person that the author of the article knows, the color of the trees prove that the photo was taken in the summertime. Also, according to lots of people, date farmers harvest dates in the summertime. So, for this theory to work, date trees in the part of Iraq where Saddam was allegedly captured must behave in the same way as in the parts of Iran that this informant has seen, and this informant's opinion of the condition of the trees must be accurate. Also, all of the soldiers involved would have to keep their mouths shut (which seems unlikely in light of all of the leaks and dissent that we've already seen). There would also need to be some sort of reason to delay the good news, and a reason for the news to be released when it was. Why go to all that trouble? Why endure four months of criticism about the war ("quagmire", "another Viet Nam", etc.)?

On the other hand, for this theory not to work, date trees might have different varieties that ripen at different times, with the kind that farmers grow differing in this respect from the kind that are in the picutures in question. Or, the trees might be the same kind, but might look more or less the same if not harvested. Or that date tree expert could be wrong. Or, the coloration of the photo could be wrong. Or, maybe it's not even a date tree, but something else that looks like one.

I think this person has confused "could possibly not be true" with "could not possibly be true". Sure, it's theoretically possible that Saddam's capture was kept under wraps for four months, but it's not very likely. File this one with the allegation that the moon landing was faked.

February 22, 2004

Perhaps you've heard rumors about the modern technologies that record producers use to make mediocre pop stars sound like they can actually sing. Does such a tool exist? Well, check Melodyne out. It can fix pitch problems and do all sorts of amazing pitch shifting changes without the typical problems with sound quality degradation. (Check out the examples.) It's one of those products that is cool to know about, but you hope nobody ever uses it.

Hey look, a U.S. Nuclear Power Plant cheated during a series of anti-terrorism security tests. Even better, some details of the cheating are being hidden in the name of national privacy. Yay! Our security sucks, but you can't find out anything about it because that would make it, um, not secure.

Suppose you've bought a PowerBook and decided that two screens (internal and external) are not enough. Why not add a third with a VTBook card? But then that would lose its novelty soon enough. So get a SideCar PlusTwo Mac and add two more? Does that mean that you could combine a SideCar and a VTBook card for five monitors, or maybe even use two SideCars for six monitors? At that point you might want to invest in something like the TigerVista Quad 76D. Try not to think about the fact that your laptop display setup costs almost as much as a new car.

My PowerBook is fine with two screens. However, it's not fine with a defective hard disk. Did I back up my data? Yes. In fact, I backed up my data the day before the drive failed. Whew. I called Apple and they were kind of not helpful about it - apparently part of the "limited" warranty is that repair parts and repair labor are covered for a year, but diagnostic labor is only covered for 90 days. So for my nearly six month old laptop, they tried to make me agree to pay for them to agree that the hard disk was broken. Lame. Well, I managed to complain enough to get the guy on the phone to admit that it almost certainly had to be a bad hard disk. I was really lucky because when I turned my laptop on the next day, it was working perfectly, so I got a chance to do a full backup of the whole hard disk. That's a major time saver; yes I could reinstall all the applications but it would take a really long time as compared to just copying the hard disk image to another hard disk and then copying it back to the laptop when it came back with a new internal hard drive. I had to buy an external hard disk case but that was cheap, and I had a big fast hard disk sitting on a shelf, so it wasn't a major problem. In fact, I've borrowed Kim's desktop G4 and booted it from that external drive, so I'm more or less back up and running. My laptop is gone, sent back for service. But that still kinda sucks because we have to share a computer now. I had a spare PC that I'm not using anymore (I needed it until a few weeks ago, and it was still sitting in my server rack). So I grabbed that off the shelf, and got ready to set it up so that Kim and I had two computers to use instead of just hers.

However... Remember the IBM "Deathstar" hard disk recall, in which the Deskstar 75GXPs were recalled due to serious quality problems? Well, that wasn't the whole story. Other models made at that time had problems, too; for example, the IC35L060AVER07-0, better known as the Deskstar 60 GXP, had lots of problems too. At this point you have probably guessed that I bought one, and that it died recently. Yup. My PC server was fine for six months, and then I shut it down, moved it to the floor gently, booted it, and the hard disk failed. Did I have a backup of all the important data on it? Yes. Does that make it OK? No. I still had to buy a new hard disk (it's out of warranty now, even with the double warranty period from the credit card I bought it on) and reinstall all the software on the computer from the ground up. There went the majority of my weekend. Other stuff got done, of course, but it kinda wrecked my Saturday to have to deal with stuff like...

...if you're running Samba as a PDC and you want to add an XP Pro client to the Samba PDC's domain, you'll encounter some compatibility issues. That can be remedied using this process which is based on this HOWTO. It works.

I'm really angry at computers now, and scared of hard disk failure. So I tell you this because you probably need to hear it: Back up your data now, and make sure to test your backup copy to make sure it works. It's a lot easier to back it up than it is to do it again. Don't worry about backing up 100% of your hard disk; just back up the stuff that you can't (or really don't want to have to) replace. If you haven't looked lately, hard disks are very cheap. Buy a new one if your old one is acting up. Buy two and mirror them. Burn CDs. But do something, seriously. I've been lucky to have my failures be minor ones, and they still wasted a lot of my time (and Kim's). Imagine how much it would suck if your home computer's hard disk just died, boom, all data gone. Are you ready for that?

February 10, 2004

Well, Detroit has finally caught up with science fiction. Unfortunately, science fiction was making fun of Detroit at the time. Dodge now makes a car called the Magnum that reminds me of the 6000 SUX from RoboCop. It's big, chunky, and ugly. Oh, but it's red and it's got a Hemi! Big deal. It's a brick. Aztek Jr. Motor Trend says it's likely to be classified as a truck.

Got too many computers with multiple video cards? Try a Dual-VGA KVM switch. (Or, just decide which computer is your primary desktop, and which one isn't.)

I just saw this on a web site and it warmed my heart: "Attention Netscape 4.x Users: The time has come to upgrade your browser. [company name here] is committed to providing you with the best possible Online Banking experience, which requires that you have the most current technology available. Please take the time to upgrade today to one of our free recommended browsers, which include Netscape version 6.2 and higher." Can we finally stop even pretending to support Netscape 4?'s search function is hosed. I wrote them a "suggestion":

The new product search is hideously broken!

Try searching for a few books that you know the title and author of and you'll find that OTHER books with different titles come up first. I think the problem comes from the excerpt feature. For some reason the product search function is prioritizing excerpts equally or higher than basic product info (author, title, etc.). Even quoting strings and searching for them won't help.

Search for "charles lewis". He has a New York Times bestseller called "The Buying of the President 2004". The top search results are:
1) "An Affair to Remember" (DVD)
2) "Cool Runnings" (DVD)
3) "An Affair to Remember" (VHS)
4) "Ghosts of the Abyss Movie Showtimes" (Theatrical Release)
5) Breaker Morant (DVD)

Restricting the search to Books only results in 283 hits. I only took the time to page through the first 50 hits, but it's not in there.

Doing an Advanced Search in Books and specifying "Charles Lewis" in the Author field returns 11 books. "The Buying of the President 2004" is not found. An Advanced Search in Books for Lewis, Charles (no quotes) finds the book right away. However, hit #2 is by Charlton T. Lewis, which doesn't even match my search.

I hope you realize how confusing and broken this is.

February 9, 2004

Kim and I joined Adam, Jason, and Carla in Tahoe for some much overdue swishing. Awesome. It snowed on Friday evening, and next weekend is a 3-day weekend, so there was great snow on the ground and hardly anyone else was on the slopes! (Everybody's waiting for next weekend.) The surprisingly cozy cheap motel that Adam found happened to have a hot tub at one end. Damn. That was so totally what we needed after wearing ourselves out on Saturday. I skied all over the mountain, remembered all the technique stuff I've learned over the years in lessons, and reacquainted myself with acute muscle soreness. (Oh yeah, now I remember, skiing requires leg stamina. Shocker.) Perhaps I should have stayed off of the "adventure ski zones" on my first day of skiing after two years, but hey, I've done it before, and I only popped one ski this time. On Sunday I was a little more reserved and had much more fun since I wasn't so totally fatigued. I need some lessons on dealing with deep powder, and some gym time (or maybe bike time). Then I shall return and conquer the adventure zone.

By the way, for those of you without significant facial hair, who may be wondering: yes, beardsicles feel cool. Whiskers get cold, moisture from your breath condenses on them and freezes, and it gets all crunchy. Kim tells me that there were actual mini icicles forming on my beard. Nifty. It gives you something to fiddle with while you're sitting on a 10 minute lift.

Speaking of fun things to do while on a ski lift, I had a nice chat with an official who was involved with a slalom race taking place on a roped-off part of the mountain. They're all members of a singles ski club, though there are open clubs that let in married folks. I'm intrigued by the idea of joining a ski club and actually working up to a competition skill level. They have beginner and intermediate races so I could start next season. Hmm...

On the way up, we had to stop to put chains on Adam's car. (Well, technically, they're Z Chains, which are actually cables, and which are super cool, but we'll call them chains.) We pulled over in the designated snow chain attachment lane, and some rather inconsiderate drivers promptly blocked us in. Since Adam's car used to be my car and I was the one who originally bought and used the Z Chains, I hopped out and helped and we were done quickly. The other folks were clueless and still hadn't gotten the first hook on either tire done. Picture the monkeys at the beginning of 2001, except the bone is a chain that's all tangled up and there's snow on everything. The folks blocking us near the rear of the car were nice and tried to back up a bit, but they were at a stage where they would have to start over if they moved any more, and someone was blocking them from behind. The people in front of them, who were really the ones blocking us, had lots of room. Adam noticed that their shiny new red Audi convertible featured some Marin dealership's license plate holder (which is kind of pretentious in itself), but lacked all wheel drive, which demonstrates a serious lack of judgement on their part, or perhaps misplaced priorities. Those of you not paying attention to Audi models and/or not from California may need some help understanding this. I shall explain. If you're going to buy a fairly expensive new sports sedan ($40,000 at least), and you're looking at Audi models, and you live in California, how can you pass up Audi's excellent Quattro all wheel drive for another $1700 or so? It's like buying a diesel Corvette, or a Bentley without power windows. It's wrong. (Kim says "maybe they bought it used." OK, maybe.) Anyway, they were still trying to untangle their chains 10 minutes or so after they blocked us in, and so I asked them to pull up a bit. They refused, saying "*sigh* no, we can't move." I wasn't at all convinced that they were actually stuck, but they were curt enough that I didn't feel like picking a fight. Instead, I managed to guide Adam from outside of the car so that he could squeeze out between the folks who had blocked us in, striking terror into their hearts as we skidded through on the slippery slush, leaving about three or four inches of clearance on either side. We drove off. A short distance later we pulled over to check the cables, and found that one had gotten twisted, so we took a minute to fix it, and drove off again. A few miles down the road we saw a tow truck pulled over, and just past it, the red Audi convertible. It was perched atop a two foot snowbank, with all four wheels dangling helplessly in mid air, and no clear evidence of how it got there. Well, now you definitely can't move.

February 3, 2004

It's raining a lot in SF this week. No need to outsource to India; we gots us some monsoons right here. I wonder if I should be shopping for a measuring tape that has marks for cubits. (It's rainy, OK?)

February 2, 2004

Has some jerk embedded one of your precious images inline in a page from a popular forum, chewing up your bandwidth every time someone loads that totally unrelated page? If your web site runs Apache, perhaps mod_rewrite can help, if applied correctly. For bonus wrath (and hopefully to encourage the linker to link to something else), redirect to something extremely gross (WARNING: that link really does go to something extremely gross), but only if the visitor is seeing the image embedded in the offending page. No lawsuit required.

No one has solved the spam problem, even though some people seem to think that they are the only people who just had this amazing new idea that solves it once and for all. For them, there is the You Might Be An Anti-Spam Kook If... list.