29 September 2005

Ever seen Gattica?

You may not have to. It may soon be part of the NBA draft if the Chicago Bulls get their way.



Eddy Curry, the 22-year old forward for the Bulls is being required by the Bulls to submit to a DNA test prior being allowed to play in the upcoming season. Curry has been diagnosed with benign arrhythmia, a heart condition where abnormal heart rhythms are disrupted. Curry had a few incidents that led to his diagnosis and I can only assume treatment.



The Bulls now want Curry to submit to a DNA test to verify that he doesn't have cardiomyopathy, which when paired with the already-diagnosed benign arrhythmia could be fatal.



And that's where this becomes about more than basketball. Curry is an employee of the Bulls and disclosed his condition. The Bulls are now requiring that he prove he doesn't have other diseases in order to continue his employment. The slippery slope should be obvious.



The Bulls (who are becoming more appropriately named as I read through the quotes on this ESPN article) claim this is for the player's well-being. Which is entirely true, except that the employer doesn't get to make that call. Or shouldn't.



Mark this as the first of many such battles to come. And while the rules may seem different for employees such as pro athletes, the implications are far reaching.

He always was more tongue than normally seen on model his size

The foster family from which we adopted Froggie sent us some photos of the mutt when he was just a pup (well, a pup under 15 pounds anyway). I've added them to the beginning of the Froggie Flickr Fotoset.

28 September 2005

Call of Duty 2

Thanks to Les at SEB for the link    to Yahoo. Nice, fast servers with no waiting.



It let me know that COD2 isn't the next game purchase I'll be making. That's saying a lot because I played the hell out of COD. I even joined a clan, played other teams (sort of), and wasn't too bad (not great, but ok). The COD2 demo left me wanting. It felt like the original with some new maps and (some) better sounds. I've read the articles about the new engine and the improved rendering and yaddy yaddy yah. But after a couple plays through the demo, I was over the gloss and looking for more. I was missing that feeling I had with the original COD demo--wanting to play more.



I know it's a demo and I know the game isn't done, so I hope it gets better. But right now, Infinity Ward has the kiss of death going; same old game with the number "2" tacked on the end.



Download at Yahoo Games

USB Drive Utilities

Not utilities for a USB drive, but to keep on your drive. A couple of good links today, thanks to digg.

The Portable Freeware Collection

Mike Tech Show #41

Widgets are freakin' awesome

I love Konfabulator. My cognitive dissonance hasn't kicked in yet on the system resources it requires because it's just so damn cool. The Sleep Timer widget just made my day; I'm sure there's a way to do this in Windows, but I'm too lazy to figure it out. Basically, it'll shut down, restart, or sleep you computer after a set time.

27 September 2005

Don't Give to the Red Cross

Notice this is posted to Politics. I haven't verified anything in this obvious editorial, but I offer it for it's emotional value. The author is the president and CEO of a competing (is that the right word) organization to the Red Cross. He obviously has a vested interest in monies coming his way.



However, he raises an interesting point.



The Red Cross brand is platinum. Its fundraising vastly outruns its programs because it does very little or nothing to rescue survivors, provide direct medical care or rebuild houses.


Taken with a comment in a Fark forum (search the page for Red Cross) about the waste demonstrated by the Red Cross (how they willingly pay full price for hotel rooms they never use), and the suspicions build.



That said, I don't think any of the accusations leveled at the Red Cross, even if true, constitute a purposeful and malicious attempt to sucker anyone. I just think the Red Cross is like many bureaucratic organizations: bloated and inefficient. I personally gave my money for Katrina to Americares. As always, reading up on your charity is a good idea. Even platinum brands may not perform to your standards. YMMV.

Mike Brown is a fucking idiot

Sorry for the title, it doesn't happen often.



Mike Brown was in front of Congress today to answer for the disaster he oversaw after Katrina. I understand he doesn't want to fall on his sword for something he feels isn't his fault, but the level to which he stoops trying to blame anyone but himself is deep. Deep. A sample:



Ironically, it started with an organization called horsesass.org, that on some blog published a false, and, frankly, in my opinion, defamatory statement that the media just continued to repeat over and over. Next, one national magazine not only defamed me, but my alma mater, the Oklahoma City University School of Law, in one sentence alone leveling six false charges. [source]


He then blamed the governor of Louisiana, the mayor of New Orleans, and then shook his fist at "those meddling kids".



Mr. Brown, you're an idiot. Even if every word you say is true, you have been offered up as a sacrifice for all the wrongs of the Fed after this disaster. The fact that nothing you say is likely to be true, it seems you earned the distinction. Get ready for a Fisking of epic proportions, Mr. Brown.



Check out more of Brown's lies here.

Subvert from Within

It's one thing to talk about--and execute--a user-focused approach when you're a small company or an independent contractor. But what if you are, in fact, a fish in a sea as vast as, say, Microsoft? Can you hope to make a difference? Or does working at the "DarkStar" suck the soul from any employee with a passionate users bent?


Link

20 September 2005

Opera is Free

Opera today released their browser for free.. no ads, no banners, no nothing. Very cool. Opera is the parent to many of the features that people love in Firefox, including tabbed browsing. Well worth a look and something else to keep in mind when designing for the web.

Link

[via digg]

18 September 2005

Comments Spam

Sorry to do this, but I've had to tighten up my comment policy due to a comment spam attack. 2 days and over 100 spam comments (and that's for a site with less traffic than 127.0.0.1).

Anyone who uses TypeKey gets their comments auto published; otherwise, the comment goes in the queue. Spammers are scum, and we all pay.

16 September 2005

How not to get out of killing someone

Cross-examined by Lautenschlager, Vang was asked if each victim deserved to die. Vang answered "no" in some cases and "yes" in others.


Stunning... have fun in prison.



Link

Penn and Teller on PETA - Bullshit

Penn & Teller's Bullshit! on Showtime is one of the most lucid shows out there. Unfortunately, it's on Showtime, which I don't get (thank you, Internet). Today, I found a link to the episode on PETA, the People for the *cough*Ethical*cough* Treatment of Animals.



It's good enough that I'm posting the video here (right-click, save as).



I was never a fan of PETA, but after this, I feel sick. Watch. Learn.



UPDATE: Video is now gone; someone slammed my server.

Tie Two Ropes Together... Properly

Lifehacker has a cool post about how to properly lash two ropes together. As a failed Cadet (kind of like Boy Scouts, but with more God and less crafts), I should know this, yet don't. I bring shame on my family.

But no longer, as I will learn how to do this... as soon as I need to lash two ropes together.

...

Link

12 September 2005

Stupid web tricks

This is completely for a couple people at work and will make zero sense to anyone else.



You can now buy these T-shirts at Cafepress:





That is all.

Let the Disinformation Begin

The news hit recently that the next version of Windows, Vista, will come in 7 different "flavors", or SKUs. I'm making the prediction right now that this is a completely false story cooked up to divert attention from the disaster that Vista has become. After dropping pretty much every decent feature from Vista, Microsoft had another Windows Me release on their hands; a dressed-up version of the previous version.

Why do I say that? First, Microsoft may be dumb, but this would colossally dumb. People can't figure out the fact that Win XP has two versions; it's inconceivable that the general public could begin to fathom what they need to ask for when there are 7 versions.

Second, this is way to complicated for even Microsoft to support. Windows as an OS is very, very difficult to support from Microsoft's standpoint because of their insistence at maintaining backward compatibility. Introducing limited releases of an OS (which is what 6 versions of Vista would essentially be) is a logistical nightmare for Microsoft. Now, instead of maintaining security on one stripped-down version (XP Home), they have to protect 6 versions from hacking, cracking, and security risks.

If Vista comes in more than 3 versions, one of which will be Windows Vista Home Theatre Crashing Edition, I'll buy a Mac. I'll have to.

Link

This Week in Tech - Video

One of the very few podcasts I subscribe to (This Week in Tech) released one of their episodes on video. This was shot live in the San Francisco Apple store. BitTorrent download.

Link

10 September 2005

25 Mind-Numbingly Stupid Quotes About Hurricane Katrina And Its Aftermath

"I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees." –President Bush, on "Good Morning America," Sept. 1, 2005, six days after repeated warnings from experts about the scope of damage expected from Hurricane Katrina (Source)


Link [via Fark]

07 September 2005

The joy of beer

I'm currently enjoying a glass of Arcadia Ales' Amber Ale, an excellent ale from the Arcadia Brewing Company (warning: crappy browsing experience) in Battle Creek. It will soon be chased by a New Holland Sundog Ale brewed in Holland (Michigan). Why the dopey post about microbrews?



Because I had to pour out five gallons of partially fermented ale when the foaming brew clogged the airlock, allowing the CO2 to build up enough pressure to blow the lid of the fermentor. I figure the beer was exposed to the open basement air for about 12 to 16 hours; not a good thing for maturing beer. I can't brew another batch until Saturday at the earliest and my last batch won't condition until at least the 16th. So I drown my sorrows in good beer from others, pretending my batch would have been as good as either of them. Ah, the brutality of failure.

Fire Michael Brown

Add geography to the growing list of FEMA fumbles.

A South Carolina health official said his colleagues scrambled Tuesday when FEMA gave only a half-hour notice to prepare for the arrival of a plane carrying as many as 180 evacuees to Charleston.

But the plane, instead, landed in Charleston, West Virginia, 400 miles away.


I know Michael Brown didn't personally do this (well, I believe he didn't), but if the leader allows this kind of incompetence to flourish, that leader is gone.



Link

06 September 2005

Keith Olbermann on NOLA and the Fed

Yep...

Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff said it all, starting his news briefing Saturday afternoon: "Louisiana is a city that is largely underwater..."

Well there's your problem right there.

If ever a slip-of-the-tongue defined a government's response to a crisis, this was it.

The seeming definition of our time and our leaders had been their insistence on slashing federal budgets for projects that might’ve saved New Orleans. The seeming characterization of our government that it was on vacation when the city was lost, and could barely tear itself away from commemorating V.J. Day and watching Monty Python's Flying Circus, to at least pretend to get back to work. The seeming identification of these hapless bureaucrats: their pathetic use of the future tense in terms of relief they could’ve brought last Monday and Tuesday — like the President, whose statements have looked like they’re being transmitted to us by some kind of four-day tape-delay.

But no. The incompetence and the ludicrous prioritization will forever be symbolized by one gaffe by of the head of what is ironically called “The Department of Homeland Security”: “Louisiana is a city…”

Politician after politician — Republican and Democrat alike — has paraded before us, unwilling or unable to shut off the "I-Me" switch in their heads, condescendingly telling us about how moved they were or how devastated they were — congenitally incapable of telling the difference between the destruction of a city and the opening of a supermarket.

And as that sorry recital of self-absorption dragged on, I have resisted editorial comment. The focus needed to be on the efforts to save the stranded — even the internet's meager powers were correctly devoted to telling the stories of the twin disasters, natural... and government-made.

But now, at least, it is has stopped getting exponentially worse in Mississippi and Alabama and New Orleans and Louisiana (the state, not the city). And, having given our leaders what we know now is the week or so they need to get their act together, that period of editorial silence I mentioned, should come to an end.

No one is suggesting that mayors or governors in the afflicted areas, nor the federal government, should be able to stop hurricanes. Lord knows, no one is suggesting that we should ever prioritize levee improvement for a below-sea-level city, ahead of $454 million worth of trophy bridges for the politicians of Alaska.

But, nationally, these are leaders who won re-election last year largely by portraying their opponents as incapable of keeping the country safe. These are leaders who regularly pressure the news media in this country to report the reopening of a school or a power station in Iraq, and defies its citizens not to stand up and cheer. Yet they couldn't even keep one school or power station from being devastated by infrastructure collapse in New Orleans — even though the government had heard all the "chatter" from the scientists and city planners and hurricane centers and some group whose purposes the government couldn't quite discern... a group called The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

And most chillingly of all, this is the Law and Order and Terror government. It promised protection — or at least amelioration — against all threats: conventional, radiological, or biological.

It has just proved that it cannot save its citizens from a biological weapon called standing water.

Mr. Bush has now twice insisted that, "we are not satisfied," with the response to the manifold tragedies along the Gulf Coast. I wonder which "we" he thinks he's speaking for on this point. Perhaps it's the administration, although we still don't know where some of them are. Anybody seen the Vice President lately? The man whose message this time last year was, 'I'll Protect You, The Other Guy Will Let You Die'?

I don't know which 'we' Mr. Bush meant.

For many of this country's citizens, the mantra has been — as we were taught in Social Studies it should always be — whether or not I voted for this President — he is still my President. I suspect anybody who had to give him that benefit of the doubt stopped doing so last week. I suspect a lot of his supporters, looking ahead to '08, are wondering how they can distance themselves from the two words which will define his government — our government — "New Orleans."

For him, it is a shame — in all senses of the word. A few changes of pronouns in there, and he might not have looked so much like a 21st Century Marie Antoinette. All that was needed was just a quick "I'm not satisfied with my government's response." Instead of hiding behind phrases like "no one could have foreseen," had he only remembered Winston Churchill's quote from the 1930's. "The responsibility," of government, Churchill told the British Parliament "for the public safety is absolute and requires no mandate. It is in fact, the prime object for which governments come into existence."

In forgetting that, the current administration did not merely damage itself — it damaged our confidence in our ability to rely on whoever is in the White House.

As we emphasized to you here all last week, the realities of the region are such that New Orleans is going to be largely uninhabitable for a lot longer than anybody is yet willing to recognize. Lord knows when the last body will be found, or the last artifact of the levee break, dug up. Could be next March. Could be 2100. By then, in the muck and toxic mire of New Orleans, they may even find our government's credibility.

Somewhere, in the City of Louisiana.


Video

[via Eschaton]

The 'city' of Louisiana - Bloggermann - MSNBC.com

05 September 2005

Epson printers suck

I'm at the end of my rope. About two weeks ago, the yellow cartridge on our Epson Stylus CX4600 dried up. It was a replacement from Laser Monks (which I highly recommend, by the way) which I've used since I bought the printer. I've run 6 or 7 sets of Laser Monks cartridges through this printer with no issues. So when this one died, I had a spare already sitting on my desk, popped it in and thought I'd be good to go.



Not so, first the Laser Monks cartridge wouldn't get recognized. I fiddled with it for a while, but the printer just wouldn't recognize the cartridge. No problem, I figured the chip got damaged or something was just wonky; it happens. So we bop down to Best Buy and drop $14 and change on a genuine Epson cartridge. Pop it open, replace the cartridge, let the thing charge and the printer says we're good to go; 4 ink cartridges recognized and full.



Print the first page and... only blue. Ok, it's been sitting for a while, so I run a head cleaning. Print again. Nothing but blue. Hmm, ok. Another two head cleanings later and I've blown (according to the monitoring software) a perceptible amount of ink just cleaning the head. Print again. Blue again, but almost invisible.



Now I'm worried. I pull all the cartridges, give them a little shake, pop them back in. The printer charges them, does a cleaning, and sets up. Print another page, full color, photo quality. I'm going to get that clog out of there somehow, even if I have to ram the ink through. Blue again, then less, then less, and by the middle of the page, no ink at all. Blank paper.



I'm currently running what is likely to be the 10th to 12th head cleaning cycle on these cartridges. More than 1/4 of the ink has been wasted on just cleaning the heads. At $14 and change each, across 4 cartridges, that's almost $14 to CLEAN the head. Which still doesn't work. This is the second printer I've done this too in the last week (in-laws printer had the same swan song). Both printers lasted less than a year.



I know printers are a commodity now a days, but this is awful. The quality on this thing would make Yugo laugh. And where do I go for a replacement? HP? Lexmark? Brother? *shudder* Now I have to buy another all-in-one because a part (which likely costs less than $20, but can't be fixed for less than $100) was engineered to break. I've loyally bought Epson printers for many years and for many people. I've given them as gifts, I've bought new ones with features I wanted. But the last few I've bought have been crap.



Goodbye Epson, I'm done with your products.

02 September 2005

Piling On... Katrina Shows Us the Underbelly

I'm committing the ultimate blogger faux pas, but I'm piling on and saying ditto to an entire post.

If I was the President of the country I would be on the ground in the command center with my entire team and NO ONE would sleep for the next three days or until things were under control. NO ONE. [Link]


Jason Calacanis is a smart guy and, like him, I tend to be conservative in my voting and political views, but the situation in the Gulf is unconscionable. Bush didn't visibly do anything for almost two days, and he has yet to be on the ground there. Flying over the Superdome in your jet is NOT helping. Marine One should be lifting people off roofs. Marines should be sweeping through New Orleans shooting looters. Every available unit should be setting up shelters and delivering water. We have a military that can deploy anywhere in the world in less than 48 hours; what's the problem with getting to Louisiana?

This whole thing makes me sick. We have an agency who's SOLE PURPOSE is to manage emergencies (it's in their damn name) and they are proving to be incompetent.

Never mind the idiotic stance on what was referred to as one of the top 3 likely disasters that could hit the US (Salon link; trust me, sit through the ads), but the reaction by governments (local, state, and federal) defies explanation.

01 September 2005

Disgrace

New Orleans descended into anarchy Thursday, as corpses lay abandoned in street medians, fights and fires broke out and storm survivors battled for seats on the buses that would carry them away from the chaos. The tired and hungry seethed, saying they had been forsaken.

"This is not a FEMA operation. I haven't seen a single FEMA guy," [New Orleans' emergency operations chief Terry Ebbert] said. He added: "We can send massive amounts of aid to tsunami victims, but we can't bail out the city of New Orleans."


Bloody, awful, terrible disgrace. I'm not one for over-reacting, but there will be an accounting for this week very soon for every twit that dropped the ball.

New Orleans in Anarchy With Fights, Rapes - Yahoo! News