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Showing posts from February, 2005

NaNoWriMo

I almost forgot. A serendipitous trip to B&N netted a book I'm sure both J-- and I will live to regret buying, No Plot, No Problem. As a writer (went to school, got degree), it goes against every instinct, class, experience, and method I can think of. Basically, you have 31 days to write 50,000 words. Other than that, there's not much too it. The book goes into caging your Inner Editor, some motivational tricks, and the esprit de corps you'll need to accomplish such a ridiculous goal; beyond that, it's a fairly easy technique.
The hard part is that I've committed to doing it, not just to J--, but to myself. At around 1600 words a day, it's something I would never set as a goal for myself precisely because it goes against everything I know about writing.
But, as I thought about it, I remembered trying to write like other authors (comon you writers, where's you Hemmingway hack?). Doing something like this is a jump start to getting the fingers nimble and t…

Off

Hopefully not IDing myself too much, but I'm off to Portland for the week. First time to that state (guess which), so it should be fun. I may blog from there if anything warrents it.
Until then, make sure you check out the other side of YKWP.

Memo to Six Apart

I know everyone picks on MT for comment spam. They tend to get the Microsoft treatment about their products. They are the no.1 standalone blogging software, it's only logical they would be targeted by spammers.
That said, however, it still irks me to no end that they haven't implemented some real tools to fight the spam. MT-Blacklist is awesome, but only until a breach is found. Then it takes the only developer a long time to patch it. Worse for Six Apart, they have old installations out there that have upgrade instructions scary enough that even I thought twice about doing it.
(Sorry, quick aside here, but their installation instructions fail to tell you to upload the Javascript library. Yeah, things don't work too well when that's missing
Anyway, why do I post a beef about Six Apart on a MT-powered blog? Because I'm expecting to get a letter like Ken Camp did anytime from my host. I'm surprised this hasn't happened with more hosts.
My installation is current…

Those who can't, communicate

Communications is not for everyone. I know that's not the most profound statement you've read today, but it is one of those things that needs to be said more often than it is. Communicating is difficult, challenging in a way that many people cannot grasp. It's not language, it's not grammar, it's not even verbalizing important thoughts. It's about being able to listen, to hear and understand (at the same time) what someone is trying to express and then, and this is the important part, take that expression and transmit it to more people. You as the communicator take that thought, the one someone felt was important enough to communicate to you, and expand on it, spread it around, make it known to more people.

That, in a nutshell, is what the function of a communicator really is. Notice I didn't say their job. It's not their job. The communicators job could be any of a vast number of things. Communication may not even appear in their job responsibilities, o…

For the love of... Come on people! It's candy!

In our steady tidal shift towards oblivion, death, and destruction (Cthulhu can't be far away now), there were bound to be a few moments when even the most enthusiastic of us riding the wave would smack our heads and say "Oh comon". Today is one of those days. The New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (that's New Jersey), has decided to raise it's objections to a candy. Yes, a candy. Why, you might ask.

Does the candy maker support a large badger crushing operation? No, oddly. Do all profits of the candy sales sponsor baby-seal-clubbing expeditions? No, although I like your way of thinking. No, the taboo this candy dares to market is... roadkill. Yep, the candy is shaped like roadkill, complete with tire tread marks. Now, how this is supposed to harm animals, I'm a little fuzzy on. Maybe Billy and Jane But-We're-Only-Eight will jack mom and dad's Expedition and go on a wild night of gummi-roadkill-animal-induced Vehicular Whack-A-…

Spyware buys legitimacy (or, AdAware sells out its users)

Broadband Report users are fuming (rightfully so) over Lavasoft's new comfort level with the WhenU program, an adware app that suddenly wasn't being detected by AdAware. No notice was given, no patch was availble. Oddly, WhenU also cut deals with other spyware removal apps at the same time Lavasoft's product changed, but Lavasoft has yet to cop to a deal with WhenU.

Their public response hit today, and if Lavasoft thought it had a problem before, the poop storm is in full effect now.

User: cdru
2003-05-14

So it would be ok for Symantec or McAfee to not detect certain viruses because it wasn't high on their threat assessment chart?

Ad Aware was (notice past tense) a program that removed adware and spyware. When you start removing that functionality because the authors no longer feel that its a threat to your system it defeats the purpose. WhenU is still adware and it's still installed on infected systems. It doesn't matter if WhenU is the greatest software serves a u…

Politics and Business

Why do people find the need to associate their businesses with their politics? Aside from a few, lucky people, mixing your personnel politics with your business is just plain stupid. Business is about conversations and by asserting your political views to a potential customer, before you've even started a conversation, is akin to leading off a conversation with "How 'bout those women; now they want to vote!"
That might be a bit extreme [ed. a bit?!?], but the point remains. I had it hit me today, just casually surfing. I was in my daily tech-site surfing, and hit a link to infowarrior.org. The link was from a site which had an article about Cisco routers; very tech focused.
Then, I get to infowarrior. The top of his page has the standard nav elements: articles, books, events, consulting. Obviously this is this persons store front. And right there, on the bottom of the page, is a nice big political sound bite. He hates Bush, good for you. But by choosing a polarizing …

Roseville Artist Gets Jail for Mural

The Freep says it best:

He painted Eve as God created her: nude.

And when he finished including the bare-bosomed Biblical first woman, he inscribed the word "love" on the mural that covers the outside wall of his Roseville art studio.

In Ed (Gonzo) Stross' eyes, his variation on Michelangelo's "Creation of Man" mural is art.

In 39A District Judge Marco Santia's eyes, it's a crime.

Santia ordered jail time, a fine and probation -- a sentence that sounds a little harsh to a state senator, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan and fellow artists.

Santia ordered Stross, 43, to serve 30 days in jail, do two years' probation and pay a $500 fine for violating a city sign ordinance. Roseville officials said letters were prohibited on the mural and Eve's exposed chest is indecent.

*sigh* I thought this kind of crap was confined to the West side. Congratulations Roseville, you're officially more idiotic than the Zeeland city council.

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Election Reform - Part 1

The cynic in me says that this legislation will never pass. This time. But it's a great start and some really good ideas.

Keep in mind that I said that as I tell you the proposal and who proposed it.

Some good news on electoral reform: Today Senators Barbara Boxer, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, working together with Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, D-Ohio, introduced the Count Every Vote Act, a bill that proposes several necessary improvements to the way Americans conduct democracy. Among other things, the legislation would require that all electronic voting machines print paper ballots; that ex-felons be allowed to vote; and that Election Day be made a federal holiday, so people don't have to worry about the consequences of being away from work while waiting in a line at the polls. The law, Boxer said in a press conference, "is meant to ensure [that] the election debacle of 2000, and the serious election irregularities of 2004, never ever happen again."

Aside from the pa…

My heritage in four panels

Damn it, Achter, you hit me again. Who knew there were four panels that could sum up my childhood.

West Michigan isn't as "thrifty" as it used to be (anyone remember the Woolworth's on River? Big Ten on US 31?). But the area does have that nostalgicflair for the, uhm, cheaper pleasures in life. Something I'm dealing with right now, trying to get the folks a hotel room in the good ole' Double-A

Oh, and John, we need to get you set up with a blog. Seriously; if anyone needs a venue to get stuff off his chest (intelligently, I might add), you're the one. Email me, man. (P.S. I might want the dirt on former employers.

Flamewar!

Mention grad students; check. Point out ridiculous union stance; check. Post to highly-trafficked, local blog; check.

Get your flamewar over at AAiOR!

Man, I don’t check AAiOR for a couple days and I totally miss out on being called “dense”. Damn.

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"Tax" the internet? How's that supposed to work?

Yahoo! has this feature that let's you put news-type blocks on the front page of your My Yahoo! page. Until today, ZDnet was occupied a five-line block on my page. Then I read this article by Lance Ulanoff.

PC Magazine, ZDNet, can we talk? I know I'm nobody; I don't rank in the Top Anything on these here Internets, but I am one of the "consumers" that Mr. Ulanoff speaks of. I do not think everything should be free. I do not think the Web is some Wild West of the technologically clued-in. And if you're stupid enough to employ someone who publically rails in generalities like Mr. Ulanoff, then I will stop consuming your ad-funded "free" content.

Since the dot com boom and bust cycles began, pundits and soothsayers have been raving about the need to "tax" the Internet. No one knows how to do this, of course, but they know it's somehow "right" to do. There's no real need to do so either; there aren't any starving, homeless …

And the "Asinine" tag for the day goes to...

...well, we don't know for sure. Get this:

A state agency is investigating whether workplace safety regulations were violated when three Washtenaw County Sheriff's deputies rushed into a burning apartment building last fall and pulled residents to safety.

Why?

Sheriff Daniel Minzey said he was shocked to learn that someone had filed an anonymous complaint with the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration [ed. MIOSHA] after his three deputies received two awards for efforts labeled as heroic and life-saving.

That's right everyone; save two lives, get an AWARD, get investigated. Who could have done this? The state isn't saying, but the Sheriff Commander has an idea.

Sheriff's Cmdr. Dave Egeler said he has strong reason to believe the complaint was filed by someone associated with the Ypsilanti Township Fire Department. A captain and union official at the Fire Department denied it was anyone within that department.

Well, isn't that an interesting associati…

Deathwatch - MSC Software (MNS)

MSC Software, a local software company that makes virtual product development software, is about to lose it. As of March 11, they will be delisted from the NYSE. While this isn't officially an indication of the value or prospects of a company, it does bring into play some very interesting forces.

Most of the company's stock (95%) is held by institutions: mutual funds, collective investment portfolios, that kind of thing. Many, if not all, of these types of funds have clauses that require the stocks of which they are comprised be publically traded on either NYSE or NASDAQ. Normally, they're not allowed to trade pink sheets.

Which is what MSC Software becomes in less than a month. Anyone who owns MSC stock or works there, read that part above one more time. That stock is going to be required to sell by a lot of people very, very soon.

You can draw your own conclusions.

Yahoo! MNS page

Gadget lust - Dell (again)

Reviews have been pouring in the last day or so about the new Dell LCD (to rival the Apple Cinema display). Gizmodo finally has a price: $1,200, which is actually less than I had thought the unit would be. Gizmodo also points out that with Dell's aggressive pricing and frequent discounts, this LCD could probably be had for under a grand soon. I wonder if the crashing prices for LCDs will bring this to under $1K MSRP soon?

Link

Asian Noodle Soup

SInce I'm in the food mood, I'll keep posting (to make up for those days I won't post at all). Lunch yesterday was pretty good by whippin'-up-lunch standards. I made an Asian Noodle Soup (inspired by Nigel Slater and his book Appetite).

This is one of those whadda yah got recipes, so adjust to your taste. I would also recommend upgrading the ingredients for a real meal.

To begin, we need ingredients. I'm going to adopt Slater's style of recipes and eschew listing exact amounts; it's very freeing

Chicken Stock - enough for two
Udon noodles - one bunch
A good bunch of basil, preferrably Thai (or use half as much if dried)
A teaspoon of sesame seeds
Splash of soy sauce
Freshly ground black and white pepper
Assorted mushrooms (I used frozen Asian mushrooms from Trader Joe's)
A good handful (a cupped hand plus a few) of prawns (works out to about 10 prawns)
Half an onion, sliced in slivers
teaspoon of sesame oil

Cook the noodles. When done, put in a colander and cool u…

Pacific Rim by Kana

Ann Arbor has few restaurants that deserve the attention they get (see this review of Conor O'Neill's). Pacific Rim by Kana fits into the other category, getting attention and credit where credit is due.

The restaurant itself is smaller than I expected, seating less than 100 people when very full. For the night J-- and I went, it was busy, but not more so than I've heard recounted on any normal weekend night. The d├ęcor is warm, with red walls accenting light wood paneled walls, and the occasionally well-placed object on the wall.

We had reservations, which is a must for Pacific Rim; I doubt many people go there on a whim and get seated in a reasonable amount of time. Our table for two was, well, it was tiny. With our menus, a glass of water and the place settings, there was precious little room to put the wine and two glasses when they arrived. There were other tables that sat four which provided ample room for two or three, but I imagine a four-top would have had the same …

We're back!

Wow, I hose the damn site again. I hate not having shell access to either the web space or the MySQL database from 1&1 hosting. Anyway, thank God I made a backup this morning. Everything should be so-so for a while, as I get back to the style sheet.

Heatmap of web users

How do people read the web? Eyetools helps you find out. This is some very interesting and cool research. I hope they can come out with some solid recommendations (on the web) for usability. 'Cause I need to buy another book.

Link

MSC Gets a New CEO

Just a follow-up on the last post. I need to stop following old employers, especially one I was at for only five months, but MSC's current CEO is going to "retire", and be replaced by someone who was appointed to the Board by the company that had previously been trying to take the company private. (It makes sense if you read slowly, I swear.)

I'm curious how this will affect everything. Changes at the top can often be symbolic. VA Partners, the previously threatening company, has a habit of turning companies around, though. They did a bang-up job for Martha Stewart Living. And VCs, if nothing else, hate to lose money. Wonder if this is the beginning of the slow climb for MSC?

Either way, MSC has a new CEO, which they desperately needed. Frank's business aside, listening to him give a presentation was horrible. Any executive who can't get through a sentence without saying "uhm" is not the executive you want as the face of your comapany.

Link

Another close one for the career

In my never-ending quest to risk my career as much as I can (see: applying to CyberNET and thedebaclethatturnedinto), the last company I left had a big news day today.

Leading off, they are about to be delisted from the NYSE. They have earnings coming, but I wouldn't hold my breath. Oh, and if you're into claptrap on semi-anonymous bulletin boards, the employees are about to file a class action lawsuit.

I sure can pick 'em. Thank God I got out. All the best to those employees over there that deserve it. You know who you are.

Side note: If you think you're one of those people, but aren't sure if I'd wish you well, I don't.

Ah, damn it

I have to apologize to Paul over at Meer Macatawa. I was plodding through an upgrade of MTBlacklist and I despammed your comment. Thanks, for commenting here; sorry I'm a dumbass.

On a totally unrelated note, this is the 300th post (that I've kept) to this blog. Considering what I lost in the MT-to-WordPres-back-to-MT debacle, that's not bad.

Shifting twice in one post, if anyone knows how to remove accidentally despammed users from MT Blacklist, I'm soliciting answers.

Shoe on the Other Foot Dept reports - Flash mobs are for lefties only

I find this hilarious for some reason. I shouldn't because the sum of the equation is an FCC that destroys good television and radio, but the method is too juicy to resist. David Galbraith doesn't like that the FCC is getting spammed by "organized religious activists" in "flashmob fashion". Which is completely accurate. These activists are doing just that. In fact, I would think Mr. Galbraith would appreciate these efforts because technology has enabled people to accomplish their life goals. I'll go one further and suggest Mr. Galbraith would change his tune completely if they were "orgnized activists" instead of "organized religious activists".

It's funny how the right and left share so many common traits, they just don't realize it. Technology, like it or not, is a politically-neutral enabler. A <FORM> tag couldn't care less whether you're trying to suppress nipples everywhere or posting, well, a screed agains…

Flamewar on... Amazon?

I know authors pump and dump books on Amazon all the time with literati dick-waving, but I had no idea the fanboys were in effect as well. (Never thought I'd write a sentence with literati, dick-waving, and fanboys all in one sentence, did yah?)

Apparently, all you need to breed such humorous banter as this is a Pixie's tribute album.

i'm sure that weezer is really upset that they didn't get as many stars on the rollingstone website that the pixies did, i mean when they count their money all the way to the bank, im sure they really regret not kissing rollingstone's ass.

Yeee haw! Sales are the true measure of a band, mate! Nevermind that the Pixie's are generally considered a pretty solid band (one which could quite possibly take credit for thinning the emo ranks now and then, as well).

I’ve never heard the album, but I suspect the reviews on Amazon are more entertaining anyway. Read through more of them on the extended reviews... great stuff.

Sidenote: Someone at W…

Must... grow... tomato

I love tomatoes; summer is too short if only for the growing season on those red beauties. So, when someone at work mentioned they had ordered their seeds for the coming gardening season, I thought this year I'd quit having to wait out the stores and farmers for good toms, and grow my own.

I'm told you can do so very effectively in a pot on a porch, which means I have a 30% chance of actually growing a tomato, and not just a ever-browning tomato plant.

I went looking for some seeds, and I sure hope I can grow these puppies because this page is making my mouth water.

Now I may even have an excuse to go that store across from Sweetwater's (drawing a blank right now). Is this town turning me, or am I going back to my roots?

Weirdest sentence of the day

In the slew of groundhog-related articles today, the Detroit Free Press takes the cake for dumbest/weirdest/most disjointed sentence of the day.

For the two years since one-eyed Noah's demise, a groundhog puppet and a live llama were used.

That is the first and last mention of a puppet or llama in the story. No explanation offered. Why did they use a puppet and a llama? Were they just hanging out and sort of got volunteered? Do they have the same weather-predicting abilities as one-eyed Noah? Do they have to be used together (puppet prompts llama, llama uses puppet, etc.)? HUH!?!?! Tell me!

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