October 28, 2005

...so the Special Prosecutor said to the Administration...

"...that's great, that's an excellent set of testimonials on how the White House Iraq Group operated. What, did you call yourselves the WHIGs?"

"...no no, the ARISTOCRATS!"

...ba-dum-bump. I'm here thru Tuesday. Try the fish.

It's getting interesting.

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October 27, 2005

That's entertainment!

I was all set to post a snarky response to this but then I clicked on the poster's name to see what else s/he'd posted and almost snarfed soda out my nose reading them. Now I'm just honored to be a target.

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October 25, 2005

Unhappy iPod

My 4G iPod (Clickwheel) has been a bit of a problem child for around a year. For reasons best left unexplored (*cough*laziness*cough*) it got sent back when under warranty, but when they didn't fix the actual problem and sent it back, I didn't successfully fight them and return it again before the warranty expired. The problem was that it worked acceptably at the time, so long as I didn't try to transfer music to it...and I had to get on a plane for Scotland...and...yeh.

In any case, it finally packed it in a month or so ago. This left me with a dilemma. I could, of course, have simply held out for an iPod Video, which was all the rage at the time on the rumor sites - even if not video, it was pretty clear something was happening in the iPod space. But that would have meant violating my dollar-a-day rule.

The rule is simple - toys must amortize out to no more than a dollar a day. Exceptions to this are actual full computers and cars - both because actual work gets done on them. But things like iPods, GameBoys (if I had one which I don't), PDA upgrades I don't need but buy anyway - that kind of thing. I have to use the thing for long enough that it works out to a dollar a day before I'm allowed to buy another one.

I'd already sort of violated that by buying an iPod Nano. My rationalization was that the iPod 4G was pretty much ensconced in the car at this point, and the nano was my walking-around iPod. Yeah, I know, it's thin. But the iPod still worked, so I wasn't replacing it...thin, thin, thin. Still, rationalization is a talent!

The upshot was that I had (and still have) a couple of months left before my 4G reaches 'rule amortization' date. So I can't replace it. Having it repaired out of warranty would probably cost the same as buying a new 30G (I checked). Third-party repairs would run not much less at all, since it's probably drive-related, and the drives...aren't cheap.

The issue is that copying music (or anything) onto the iPod causes it to freeze up randomly somewhere in the process. Once it does, you have to reboot it and disconnect it. Doing so usually doesn't do anything other than force you to reconnect it - but every fifteen to twenty times you do this, the iPod corrupts itself, requiring you to wipe it to zero and start over. You get the 'folder and url' boot screen, or the 'folder and exclamation mark' boot screen, meaning 'I'm lobotomized.' Only using 'restore iPod to factory settings' will help, which kills everything you've copied so far. Given that I keep around 20G of music on the thing, and this happens reliably within the first thousand songs, that's not too good.

Once it crashes, it loses all the songs that were being synced in that session. If you're manually syncing, that means 'every song you just dragged' not 'every song since you plugged it in' which is good - it means you can plug it in and start dragging groups of 5-15 songs over, in the hopes of slowly moving your library. But then, there's that gotcha - every fifteen, maybe twenty crashes, it takes everything on the iPod and nukes it. And believe me, you always find those five songs you just have to have.

Finally I realized something - it was crashing more frequently as I went along.


So I put an icepack under the aluminum back of the iPod (with some paper between them to prevent condensing moisture). Then I let it sit for about 2 minutes to cool, crossed my fingers and ran a full sync.

It just finished dumping 2,567 songs. Not a hitch.

w00t. Just to be safe, I renamed its little white spastic self 'Gir'.

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Godspeed, Mrs. Parks.

Rest peacefully, Mrs. Parks. You may not have been the first, but you may have been our most powerful. May you not be the last one who refuses to bow.

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October 24, 2005

I Weep for the Future

Why? Well, because.

Note carefully: in no way do I mean that it is not anyone's right to believe whatever they wish - that's the purpose of this nation.

However, one prime reason our nation has done well for itself is because of its embrace of technology and science - and the concomitant attitude of 'questioning truths' that goes along with it. Given the current debates over the direction of science education in this country, I fear for the future of the United States as a competitive world economy.

I have no problem with creationist being taught to children. However, it is a particular belief, of a particular religion or set of religions - it is not a methodology. It is a story, a version of the past couched in a belief system. As such, it has no place in the science classroom. If the argument was over whether or not it was to be taught in an elective, under cultural studies, or even history, I would be much more of two minds about it. However, pushing to teach it in science curricula is not a positive attempt to 'defend ones faith' - it is an attempt to suppress the teachings of science because they conflict with your personal interpretation of the world as taught by your faith.

Nope. Bzzzzt. Go home. That's why we came to this country in the first place.

It especially angers me to hear people invoke 'religious oppression' in their arguments. I challenge them to move past their sheltered little worlds in their rich democracy and visit places where people are persecuted for merely possessing the icons of a faith not approved of by the government or even their neighbors. Where mentioning anything about a faith can result in death or isolation. And yet people here have the temerity to claim 'oppression' because they are told that they are not allowed to tell other children, not of their faith, that science is 'not the answer.'


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October 21, 2005

Healthy Suspicion

Time for a PSA, folks. The season's first few 'internet chain letters' have started trickling in - kids are back at school, which may or may not have something to do with it; holidays are approaching, who knows. But speaking as your friendly neighborhood spam filte...er, network administrator, please, please, PLEASE apply this one simple rule when you read email. Even when it comes from friends. ESPECIALLY when it comes from friends.

If the email message was forwarded, and it asks you to either send information or money somewhere OR to send out email or postal mail, check carefully on its pedigree. Note that I don't just mean be sure your friend sent it. They probably did. But check that the 'story' in the email is true and verifiable. If it's for a cause that's in the news, verify that the organization making the appeal sent it. If it is for an 'unnamed project' or 'unnamed child' or sympathy-jerking cause, be very suspicious.

Here's a good place to look: Hoaxbusters at CIAC - the U.S. Department of Energy's Computer Incident Advisory Capability website. Or just Google for some representative terms from the email - like, say "sick child wish chain letter internet" and see what you get. Dollars to doughnuts you get verbatim text from your email in the results - and now you know.

You're not done, though. Responsibility demands you consider your actions carefully. Blowing a 'reply-all' out to every email on the damn email would really only compound the problem. Better to pick the last few people, the one(s) you know personally, and write them an email with a *different* subject, alerting them to the chain letter (preferably with a link to an internet citation of its hoax status) and a quick suggestion (politely phrased, it's not THEIR fault, remember?) that they check first in future.

Hopefully, next time, you won't get the email.

And we'll all save time.

Thanks. This concludes this particular Nannygram.

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I Swear to God, this isn't me.

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October 20, 2005

Protect or regulate?

Easy. If you're an industry which makes actual weapons, you get protection from lawsuits. If you're an industry which makes entertainment which parents should be responsible for buying for their children, you get regulated.

The former industry's products kill, directly.

The latter? No-one really knows.

Sure. This makes sense.


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October 19, 2005

Wednesday is Fitzmas.

"I have nothing but contempt and anger for those who betray the trust by exposing the name of our sources. They are, in my view, the most insidious of traitors." - George H.W. Bush

TIM RUSSERT: "For the record, the first time you learned that Joe Wilson's wife worked for the CIA was from Karl Rove?"

MATT COOPER: "That's correct."
- Meet the Press

"Soon afterward Mr. Libby raised the subject of Mr. Wilson's wife for the first time. I wrote in my notes, inside parentheses, 'Wife works in bureau?' I told Mr. Fitzgerald that I believed this was the first time I had been told that Mr. Wilson's wife might work for the C.I.A."
- Judith Miller

Taken from the comments on DailyKos.

Impeach George Bush. Impeach him now.

As Jon Aravosis pointed out, if a White House official knowingly divulged the name of an OSS operative during World War Two, they would have been in serious danger of being shot. Bush likes to tell us with as much gravitas as he can muster (well short of Colbert) that we are at war. About what? Among other things, terrorism, rogue states, WMDs and the Middle East. What was the intelligence agent who was exposed working on? Yep, WMDs and the Middle East.

But it's okay. The GOP's tame columnists like to talk about how 'it's only DC' and 'this kind of thing happens all the time' and 'it's not really a crime.' Any investigation of this matter is just 'partisan criminalization of politics.' That's one of their favorite phrases.

Wrong and bullshit.

It's the politicization of crime.

Don't let them get away with it.

Frist, DeLay, Abramoff, whoever Fitzgerald is looking into, Safavian, whoever paid for the 'illegal propaganda' at the Education Department - and these are just in the past few months, and the ones that actually made it to the mostly-cowed press. How many more are there? They're running your country. Into the damn ground. Don't let them.

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October 14, 2005

An Open Letter to the Driver of the Yellow Porsche 996

In re: our brief flirtation of several days ago, on the Eastbound Massachusetts Turnpike - there wasn't any need for petulance, surely. When we left the tollbooths and were directed into the center lane, your headlights where behind my left rear door. As far as I could tell, that indicated that I had precedence for that lane, and you would either drop behind me, or lane change into the left (passing) lane, which I made no move for, and utilize that to go around me. The fact that there was a pickup truck in that lane a few hundred feet ahead of us certainly wasn't my fault.

In any case, after I had passed that truck, who was moving rather sedately, you did, as was certainly your privilege, attempt to pass me. Again, however, I fail to see how the fact that you blew the shift that badly and ended up dropping four car lengths back after making the lane change can in any way be construed as my fault. I made no attempt to seize said lane, then or at any time afterwards. I will admit wincing in sympathy for your transmission at the sound it made.

I do understand that all BMW 5 Series E39 sedans look alike, and that black versions of said sedans are not in any way to be compared with the elegant contours, lines, or sheer panty-wetting performance specs of your chariot. I understand that BMW drivers are universally scorned as incompetent luxo-barge pilots, especially by those piloting manual-shift Porsches, and I cannot in good conscience blame that group for its opinions. I would point out, however, that the identifying '540i' is plainly visible on the right rear of my vehicle, and as such, the fact that when we reached 135 MPH you were six car lengths back cannot really be fairly laid at my feet as the result of any form of deceptive tactics, or (given the facts of the engagement as laid out above) any form of unfair maneuvering on my part. I did allow you the left lane, retaining for myself the greater chance of running up behind slower traffic.

The burst of tire smoke and car wobble you produced when you terminated our dance at that point, before vanishing into my rear view mirror, was indeed impressive. I assume you received a warning from a radar detector, and I must congratulate you on your perspicacity in realizing that given the choice between a black 540i in the center lane and a fire-engine-yellow 996 in the left lane, you were likely at greater risk from the po-po.

Given our location as approaching the underpass beneath the Shaw's market, however, and the fact that I coasted down to 75 unmolested, I thought I'd offer the suggestion that your alarm was likely the normal K-band or X-band interference from said Shaw's security/flourescent systems, rather than a speed radar.

Your evasive maneuvers were quite skillful, though.

Note: The author does not recommend this form of immature, unsafe and illegal vehicular dick-waving and is, in his few responsible moments, suitably abashed at having been goaded into the confrontation. All other times, however, he is chuffed at having defended the Marque successfully, with smooth shifts, having never lost the lead nor bobbled his track.

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October 5, 2005

Ladies and Gentlemen, place your bets...

...on this being a 'mistake.' Given the titles of the movies in question, I'll take odds on someone who was driven from their family and/or community for being homosexual (with said family or community having Mormon values) being involved in the switcheroo.

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Measurement vs. Rote

For reasons best left unstated, I was driving home the other day in a Ford Taurus that recently belonged to me. While doing so, the reading on the tachometer forced its way into my attention, likely because the instrument was placed differently than I am used to on my regular car and because the value it was reporting at idle differed as well. I noticed something odd about said tach, which bothered me so much I'm still thinking about it, and here we are.

The tach is extremely standard - it's an analog dial, with white markings scribed along the outside rim. Its major (labeled) tick marks indicate RPMs x 1000. This makes sense. What didn't make sense to me was that the unlabeled tick marks were placed such that there were five between each thousand point. I was at a loss to discover why this was so. The purpose of the tach seemed to me to be to measure the RPM of the engine in a manner that allowed it to be compared to numbers in a reference as well as compared to other values from experience. Sure, it's not going to be the most accurate thing in the world, and people are going to estimate and round. But if I have performed my crappy arithmetic properly, each of those tick marks denotes 166.6-bar RPMs.

What good does that do me?

Sure, the *middle* one is 500 RPMs. Woo. But why *two* on either side?

I know, I worry about stupid stuff.

"What's your engine idling at?"

"Uh, eight hundred thirty-three bar."

Which it was, too.

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October 4, 2005

Self-sustaining meme reactions. BLOODY PEASANTS!

Part of my daily diet of escapism consists of a wonderful tool of sheer fantasy which provides entertainment ranging from essential cross-dressings to the modern de rigeur of terrorism allegories. Yep, that's right, it's World of Warcraft!

Today, I was taking care of errands in Ironforge, and whilst in the bank, I /yelled out something in response to someone's request that (purely involuntarily) came out in the form of a Monty Python quote. Since WoW is populated by a high proportion of geeks with a good sense of humor, naturally, a couple of people /yelled back the answering quote.

I /yelled another quote.

Immediately, it seemed, six or seven people began barraging Python choice bits into the air. Things stabilized into perhaps two "threads" of interaction, with one or two folks on each end of each thread, racing to get the proper quote responses out, and others heckling and offering corrections or tossing out new lines when the interaction flagged.

I dropped out fairly quickly. However, I was amused as hell to note a few minutes later that it was still going ("The Norwegian Blue? What's wrong with it?")

Furthermore, a couple minutes after that, I saw some repeat quotes pop up, and checked back more carefully. Apparently, enough of the original participants had either tired of the game and left Ironforge, logged out, or just stopped /yelling- and new folks had logged in or arrived within the Ironforge zone to hear the game going on. They'd in turn offered up quotes they hadn't yet heard, but which had made the rounds before ("It's dead, that's what's wrong with it.")

I had to take a Gryph out of IF to hit a guildie raid on Scholo to take down Gandling (looking for SC armor myself) but it was still going strong. I wish I knew for how long :)

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