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March 27, 2007

My former employer is on the cover of the April issue of Money Magazine (link goes to their strange Flash magazine reader). Congratulations, Steve!

Interesting: Prophetic Justice: "The United States is now prosecuting suspected terrorists on the basis of their intentions, not just their actions. But in the case of Islamic extremists, how can American jurors fairly weigh words and beliefs when Muslims themselves can't agree on what they mean?"

A fascinating, if old, look at how engineering and politics don't mix: Personal observations on the reliability of the Shuttle, by R.P. Feynman.

March 22, 2007

I suppose I have to admit that some forms of spam are very successful at moving product, but I disagree with the logical premise that because so much spam is sent, it therefore surely is an effective marketing tool. As a counter argument, I present penis enlargment products, miracle diet pills, and homeopathic medicines. All of these are scientifically provable not to work any better than a placebo, but people buy them like crazy because people want them to work, and refuse to accept hard evidence that they don't work. Nigerian bank scam spam? Works. Penny stock pump and dump spam? Works. But that doesn't mean that spam in general works. Spam doesn't have to work, just for people to send it. People have to believe that spam works, and they will send it.

In fact, I think it's been pretty well demonstrated by now that spam is effective for scamming suckers, and not much else.

On the topic of getting the best of suckers, here are two very funny collections of Snipe Hunts: Wikipedia Snipe Hunt, and Fantasy Objects. You'll have to take my word for the fact that the sites I've linked to really exist. :)

March 21, 2007

I've tried to avoid getting sucked into the many new and apparently good TV series (such as Heroes, The Riches, and maybe Gray's Anatomy and Scrubs), since watching a lot of TV is not something I'm really trying to accomplish right now. But one show that sucked me in when I had my anti-new-TV-show guard down is Bullrun, on Spike. It's a reality show about a long distance road rally on public streets with amateur (in some cases, very amateur) drivers. It's fun, and disposable in that you can watch 20 minutes or several episodes in succession and enjoy it. It's worth mentioning that unlike most reality shows, the stars aren't a bunch of whiny drama queens - they're real people trying to get from point A to point B without getting lost or pulled over or breaking down, so it's easy to identify with the situation and see that some of them are actually being dumb and others are doing a pretty good job. In other words you don't spend the whole time hatin' on the people, you sort of care who wins and who hopefully loses. :)

Cool: Gapminder (via Hans)

Funny: Ali G interviewing Posh 'n Beck, iCarta Stereo Dock for iPod with Bath Tissue Holder, Get a PC ads, Uncyclopedia.

March 20, 2007

If you use Photoshop CS2 on a Mac, there's a file with an illegal filename that it installs which can corrupt your startup disk's filesystem and cause data loss. Seriously, somehow the Photoshop Installer is able to create a file that has an illegal filename - seems like an Apple bug rather than an Adobe bug.

The file is called Tiêng Viêt.html and it's in the Legal folder inside your Photoshop installation folder. There is some discussion about what might be the problem but this discussion is mostly speculation that is ultimately incorrect and doesn't solve the problem. It's not a "system immutable" file in this case; it's a corrupted filesytem. That's bad bad bad news but fortunately it can be fixed pretty easily.

If you run "verify disk" in Disk Utility it says there is a problem, but it can't repair the filesystem on the startup volume, so you either should boot off of a bootable CD, DVD, or external disk, or if those aren't available, do this to fix it (taken from this Apple support document:

  1. Reboot in Single User Mode (hold down cmd-S immediately after restart; more instructions here)
  2. Type mount -o rw,remount / (it seems like this isn't always necessary, but it might be for you)
  3. fsck -fy /

Of course you should back up your computer first, and every day really. This problem caused my backups to silently fail so you should probably verify your startup volume right now if you use Photoshop CS2 on a Mac.

March 18, 2007

Almost a full month after I sent my MacBook Pro back for repair service, it's back. The status had been "Return Pending" with no tracking number for a week, and then on Thursday morning it just showed up via DHL. Apple service folks took the RAM out (Crucial brand) and enclosed a note saying that the third-party RAM is what killed my old logic board, and that if I put it back in and ask for service again, they won't cover the cost next time. So, $370 goes to Apple for official Apple-brand RAM, which is rather expensive. I used the original 512MB SODIMM that it came with for a day, and that was kind of lame, but not as bad as using the 400MHz desktop was. I ordered the Apple RAM on Thursday morning as soon as I read that note and called the Apple Store downtown to find out that they didn't stock it. Amazingly, it shipped the same day and FedEx actually did what they said they would (delivery by 3pm Friday at the latest): at 2:55pm, it arrived. Nice!

I went with Kim and Shawn to see 300 on Friday. It is ridiculous to boycott the movie due to its lack of historical accuracy. The Iliad is not historically accurate either, and Troy is a rather loose interpretation of that great epic (Q: who played the crucial roles of Zeus, Apollo, and Poseidon in the movie? A: That's right, nobody did, 'cuz the gods were entirely absent from the movie!) It's called artistic license, and sometimes it's badly used, but it isn't unethical to reinterpret historical events unless you're claiming to make a documentary (as in the case of Leni Riefenstahl.) 300 is not The Birth of a Nation, m'kay?

Rather than worrying about gory comic-book-inspired action movies, Iranians and Americans alike should be wondering, Where Are The Democrats? ("When it comes to Iraq, the opposition party is afraid to oppose.") What exactly is going to happen when Cheney decides to tell the Pentagon to tell him that Iran is a clear and present danger and that the world needs Bush to be the Decider and invade Iran?

March 7, 2007


After an, um "extended holiday break", I started Tae Kwon Do again. Since I'm taking a semester off from school to work full time on my startup, I didn't sign up for the TKD class at SFSU again. Instead, I joined the Academy of Tae Kwon Do which is pretty close to where I live, and which is owned by the teacher of the SFSU class, Bill Dewart. (Cred? The guy has a picture on the wall where he is standing next to Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, and the Prime Minister of South Korea. Quote: "I was hired as Bruce Lee's bodyguard.")

To say that the workout is more intense than the SFSU TKD class would be a giant understatement. But I expected that. I've been exercising basically next to none (long walks, but nothing resembling real cardio or strength training, and nothing consistent) for 3 months so my goal was to avoid throwing up or passing out, and I narrowly avoided both. I realized about halfway in that I wasn't sufficiently hydrated; I was the only person without a ginormous bottle of water close at hand. I won't make that mistake again. (Drank from the sink during one of the the brief hydration breaks during the 90 minute class, 'cuz I ain't crazy.)

I've never seen planks or leg throws before, but super burpees, jumping jacks, and running were familiar, at least by description. (Workin' the core, man, workin' the core.) There were a few others (foot shuffling and side to side jumping) but I was too busy thinking "wow, I might actually collapse right this second, or barf, I wonder which one will come first?" to remember them all.

I also didn't know if my ankle was well enough to run again. I sprained it badly in November of 2005, took TKD in Fall 2006 to either prove to myself that I was healed and flexible, or else make that be the case. But slightly limited flexibility meant that somehow part of my foot was sore and really hurt when I ran. But that was last year. Tonight I think we ran for a few minutes (somewhere between 5 and 10, think) and it didn't hurt at all. Sweet! So maybe I can get some proper running shoes and resume my runs around the steep hills in my neighborhood. My favorite is the one whose peak is at the intersection of 22nd and Collingwood - over 250 feet of elevation in a little over 2/10 mi of horizontal distance, which is about a 13 degree angle on average. (The last half block, good for over 70 feet of elevation, is mostly stairs.)

I feel OK now, except for a bit of rubbery-leggedness. I had a banana, a smallish Gatorade, a bunch of water, and a proper healthy dinner after I got home. (OK, and a few spoonfuls of Americone Dream, because c'mon, I had to know!) I suspect that tomorrow, and especially Friday, I will be feeling mighty sore, but that's what painkillers and more bananas are for. :)