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Showing posts from December, 2004

The Christmas Post - 1 Week Late

So, I'm lazy (and busy) but mostly lazy, and haven't posted my Christmas post. Not that I had some huge thing to post or deep insights into the Season, but it can hardly go without a mention.
Obviously, my big gift to myself was building my computer (and buying the parts). J-- got her pink iPod mini (and she was surprised, thankfully!). She gave me a Wusthof Classic Santoku (or Asian) knife, a ton of sushi-making materials (which work wonderfully, I might add), way too much chocolate, and a nice broadcloth white shirt. I know I'm forgetting something, but we had a good Christmas between the two of us, and not just for the gifts. Although, the gifts were nice, especially the stuff from our parents. Automatic coffee maker, with built in grinder, you are wonderful, if a bit noisy. They should put decibels rating on packing for those things.
Of course, it wouldn't be Christmas without the families. All in all, the gatherings weren't that bad, considering the sheer volu…

A New Tagline

Tonight, J-- and I went out for Chinese food. Which is to say, we went to a strip mall that served food cooked by Chinese-Americans. We had Triple Vague Delight, Six Ways, with rice. Of course, at the end of the meal we got not just the bill. Oh no, we also got fortune cookies. Ah, fortune cookies, that wholly American contribution to an ironically obscure practice in China. By the way, no one in China had heard of fortunes stuffed into cookies before someone in the States saw the market for them.
I digress. I dutifully crack open my fortune cookie, fully expecting two things: 1) A stale cookie and 2) A cheesy fortune. I get neither. What I do get is a crispy yet tasty cookie and an interminalbly profound fortune. So profound that I immediately say to J--, "this has to be stolen from someone".
The fortune? "Simplicity of character is the natural result of profound thought." The source? Chinese proverb? Nope. William Hazlitt. Wonder if his heirs can sue a fortune co…

Up and running

My new machine is up and running. Actually, it's been running for a while, I've just been playing with it so much I didn't post.
One annoying thing to remember if you're building a new system and expect to play any game made in the last 4 years. Many of the game publishers are putting DRM on their discs now which won't allow you to play the game from a CD or DVD writer drive. You'll need to add a CD-ROM drive to pass their system check, usually every time the game starts up. One more BS thing to keep in mind.
So, my system as running currently is:
MSI K8N Neo Platinum motherboard (Model 7030)
Athlon 64 3400+
512 MB PNY PC3200 RAM
120GB Maxtor SATA 7200 RPM Hard drive
BFG Tech GeForce 6800 OC 128 MB video card
Rosewill Combo Drive (52x32x52x16x) Model C523216
Dynex 52x CD-ROM (Model DX-CDR100)
Thermaltake Silent PurePower 480W W0013
OEM Floppy drive
Antec CS400B Case
As soon as I get a little more RAM and a KVM switch, I'm all set.
Oh, and just for the record, while tim…

Light posting

Not that my posting has been heavy with the holiday (or ever, for that matter), but it will be lighter still as I'm going to be putting together my new machine. Last component came today and now I actually have to do this. (Deep breath).

No, not "clean" as in no porn, but clean as in no spyware/adware. This site lists applications that are free of the nasty evilware that exists in so many programs. And, this software is available for free!


A plea to web app developers

Ok, this won't win me any points if some random web app developer happens across my page, but I have a request for anyone who'll listen.

Please, for the love of God, consider the actual user of your application.

Let me explain where this comes from. I work on the development of a web app, not in the technical sense (I'm not working in the backed), but I am using an admin-type web interface to modify and enhance the UI that our customers will use. So, in essence, I'm the middle man. I consume what our solution provider makes, use the product to create another product, and then maintain that second product. Confused? It's a standard scenario I'm having trouble verbalizing at the moment (Christmas is close and I want out of here; give me a break).

This is my dilemma, issue, beef, if you will. One of my tasks is to implement user assistance. I won't get into the idiotic implementation our solution provider has "provided", but suffice it to say, they need…


I'm addicted to mash-ups.

Most of them suck, usually because someone is trying out a new technique or learning their way around a mixer (and, no, I shouldn't be one to criticize because I couldn't mix two tracks of static). But once in a while, a great one comes out, like the Grey Album or Collision Course or The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu.

It's an interesting concept of doing music, completely (or heavily) relying on other artists for your source material. It's gets to the heart of copyright law or lack thereof. When does artistic freedom trump the rights of copyright holders (and not necessarily the artists who created the work). Should artists be able to consent to their work being used for such a project, or dictate the terms of another artist's project? Should artists be able to sample whatever they want as long as they don't try to pass the original work off as their own?

But I'm neither a lawyer or an artist, so I'll just sit back and enjoy the…


I don't even know if that's a word. But this story has all the elements of a classic West Michigan story; 2nd-tier University, Lowell, and rednecks.

Raychel Swift was driving back to Lowell Friday afternoon when her pet boa constrictor, Mr. Cracker Basket Sassy Pants, sneaked out of a pillowcase and slithered its way into the car's dashboard.
Take that Florida. Mr. Cracker Basket Sassy Pants. Man, I need to find a dealer around here.

Shutdown GPS; stupidest idea yet

I'm a conservative, that's no secret. I support this administration when I can. I have issues with a few things they're doing, but Ashcroft is out, so that's one huge thing off my list.

Until today. This has got to be the stupidest thing I've ever heard. In the event of a terrorist attack, the government could shut down the GPS system.

First of all, why? Is the huge barrier to sucessfully carrying out a terrorist attack knowing how to get out of somewhere? I'm pretty sure they were doing this long before Garmin had a handheld unit. Not to mention, the event that would trigger a shut down of the system is the very event the shut down is meant to prevent. You see the logical black hole created with that last sentence? Yeah, that's where this idea emerged from. Hopefully, it looks around, sees the idiot telling people (with a straight face) about possible implmentation scenarios, and then heads right back into that logic hole.


Blockbuster decides to confuse yokels

I wonder how long before they get sued over this. I have money down for three weeks.
Blockbuster Video is implementing a plan on 1 January to allow you to keep your video an additional week beyond the due date without penalties. However, if you keep it beyond that week, they charge you for the full movie, minus the rental fee.
I have two problems with this:
So, now, not only will new releases be gone on Tuesday afternoon, they won't be back in the store for half a month.
The first time Jane from Allendale's kid forgets to turn in "Walking Tall" and she gets charged for it, her first call is to Sam.
Plus, don't video stores pay hundreds of dollars for the videos they rent out? Are they going to charge customers for the video they actually rented, or are they going to charge consumer retail prices?

First Day

Well, it's official; I'm a Wolverine. I think we're actually required to say that as new employees of the University of Michigan. I'll read through the hundred or so dead trees I was handed today during orientation.

Nothing too spectacular today; your basic sign-here, date-here, smile, sign-here kind of day. And then I got to lunch when I got to my office. You know that standard easy day you get when you start a new job? Find the bathroom, find the coffee, decorate your cube? Yeah, not me. I'm in it head-first. Thank God I have a vacation over Christmas.
I'm working on the MPRIME project. A very cool and worthwhile project; should be a challenge and a blast. Can't be any worse than what I tossed at my last employer.
Anyway, light posting for a while until I get to a) breathe and b) figure out what I can and can't do at the U.

Go Blue (sorry Dad; I'm not required to cheer for the football team so, take heart!)

The end for Ann Arbor (stop cheering)

For anyone who doesn't live in Ann Arbor (A2 to the initiated), this town has one, ok two, huge problems. The first one is that residents (which around here means "non-students") don't like the University. Oh sure, they love football and being able to say they live in Ann Arbor, Home of The University of Michigan, but they really, secretly, hate the damned University. All that traffic, all those students, all that lost tax revenue. It's enough to drive a socially-over-conscious-fiscal-conservative mad.

The second problem is related to the first. See, residents outwardly love the University so much, more and more students keep coming here. From everywhere. And (and this is the worst part), some of them aren't rich. I know, it's awful. So, some people in the city thought if they build affordable housing, more students will not only come here, but maybe talented people will stay or come and work here, too. I know, it's crazy, but they've been told tha…

More movies

I didn't know this, but they have made a new version of the Merchant of Venice (trailer at

Stars Al Pacino as Shylock, Jeremy Irons, Joseph Fiennes, and Lynn Collins. Opens 29 Dec 04.

Official site (gratuitous use of Flash)

It will be curious to see how the play gets treated in this ultra-sensitive, politically-correct world. Even in the best of times, the play has had its critics and apologeits; the loonies that come flying out of the woodwork with an all-star-cast movie should be entertaining.

Interesting aside; there is an open-source stock trading program at Sourceforge call Venice.

My apologies

I'm an idiot. I neglected to enable commeters to actually, you know, comment. For the time being, posts that have comments turned on should allow anyone to post. However, if you aren't registered with TypeKey, your comments are moderated, which means they won't show up until I approve them. Sorry, but spammers are everywhere. If I get hit with a spammer, I may go to requiring a password from TypeKey, but I hope that doesn't happen.

Bravo to CyberNET employees

Proving once again that Barton Watson and his ilk are not representative of the West Michigan work ethic, soon-to-be-former employees at CyberNET spent their Thanksgiving weekend salvaging Roadlink USA's computer system. For their efforts, Roadlink will give them contracts for employment.

Congratulations to the soon-to-be-former CyberNET employees. And thanks to Roadlink USA. A bright spot here and there for these people is more than welcome.

Link (Previous entry, 2, 3)

I hate

In the interest of full disclosure, I do not like the Beatles. Commence the hate now.

Done? Cool, because the Guardian today unleashed its writer on every huge act from James Brown to Bob Marley to, yep, the Beatles.

There's sure to be something in this article that makes you nod with approval and then curse in disgust. Brilliant stuff.


Down the rabbit hole; CyberNET's descent continues

Amongst the clamour of people trying to associate themselves with the Van Andel family now that Jay has shuffled off this mortal coil, TV 8 managed to get inside a warehouse with a pile of goodies that Barton Watson kept for himself, apparently on the company dime.

The list of vehicles includes a Bentley, a Ferrari, a BMW, and... a Ford Focus??? I'm wondering if someone got wise to Watson and decided to help themselves to something, just nothing that would blip too hard on anyone's radar.

Link to story (Link to previous entry, 2)

Free Anti-Virus Software

I've been using Avast as my primary anti-virus application for a number of years now with great results. However, in the last couple of months, Avast has upgraded the application (a common occurance), but broken something. My system is slower and, when I had the Network scanner turned on, noticably lowered my connection speed.

So, I've gone looking for a new, free, AV program, trying things out before I shell out for McAfee or Trend Micro (screw you Symantec and you're resource-hogging applications). First up, AVG.

Bush's America: It's officially an overplayed excuse

God cut from Dark Materials film

The director and screenwriter of the film adaptation of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials is to remove references to God and the church in the movie.


"You have to recognise that it is a challenge in the climate of Bush's America,"

Uh, right. And the same result wouldn't have come about if Kerry were President. Sorry, I don't buy it. Making a movie of this series of books (I want those hours of my life back, Pullman!) would be difficult under any circumstances, and the administration in the White House would be pretty low on the list of issues. First, despite Mr. Pullman's statements to the contrary, this series of books is a stinging attack on the Church. Mr. Pullman obviously has some issues with the Church, and wrote about it. He's not unique in that, and I hardly think he deserves to be held up as The Neo-oppressed.

The books themselves trade heavily in Church mysticism and elements of Gaia-based religions. Guess w…

Stem cell solution?

The main argument from religious circles to prevent stem-call research is that you have to kill an embryo in order to harvest the stem cells. Apparently, the Catholic Church has defined a point at which the death of an embryo is actually the death of a whole person.

William Hurlbut, "an earnest young member of the [President's Council on Bioethics] conservative wing", has come up with a novel, if not creepy solution: harvest the cells before they become an embryo.

As Hurlbut puts it in his presentation paper, "Incompletely constituted or severed from the whole, subsystems with partial trajectories of development may temporarily proceed forward with a certain biological momentum." In other words, the parts of an embryo—or the parts that normally would become an embryo—might produce stem cells, even if, to avoid the moral problem, we kept these parts incomplete or severed.

Basically, he wants to turn off a gene that tells the cells "you become an embryo". …

CyberNET saga: Local girl makes good on elitest upbringing

Krista Watson, formerly Krista Kotlarz, of Rockford, and also wife of the late Barton Watson, is under investigation for running the Ponzi scheme known as CyberNET (or Cyberco). She may not be charged for months, but you can bet that, when they find her, she'll get the punishment due to Barton.

Wow, someone from Rockford who thought they deserved everything. There's a shocker.

Link (Previous entry)

Why I Voted Against the Gay Marriage Ammendment

My friend John Auchter is one of the most intelligent (and by the number of "discussions" we've had, most patient) people I know. John is also really freakin' good at putting those wonderful ideas of his into comics. His latest comic is one such example. To writ:

Now I will say this: Hopefully, in these few weeks between election seasons, we can talk about this in a less emotional way. I think those who would like to see gay marriage legalized have to respect and acknowledge people's religious feelings on the subject. Nobody likes to have something they find distasteful shoved in their face.

For instance, I don't ever want to have to see a Cirque du Soleil show. I don't want to ever vacation in Branson, Missouri. And I don't ever want to tour a veal farm. I have no firsthand knowledge of these things, but the mere thought of them makes me queasy. Perhaps if I were a more free-thinking person I could. But in these cases, I wear the badge of closed-minded…

CyberNET dirty all over

This case just gets worse and worse. The remaining executives seem to be rallying around the missing head of Barton Watson and looting the company while they can. Creditors are filing lawsuits left and right but, surprise, there's no money left. Why?

[CyberNET's Chairman Jim] Horton said he doesn't have any money to pay creditors; and yet, just before Watson killed himself during a standoff with police last week, Horton wired money into his own bank account. One million dollars of that money went to an office in Hong Kong. $750,000 went to Barton Watson's mother. Another $20,000 went to Barton's wife Krista, with Horton's wife Angie receiving $20,000.

Right. Since his golden parachute got a hole shot in it, Horton is now screwing the creditors out of everything he can get.

Prison is too good for people like this.

Link to quoted story
Link to Watson 911 tapes
Link to Watson suicide story
Employee reaction
Employees to get no more checks
CybrNET was a "Ponzi" sc…