D.T.P. by Lee -- Daily Tales and Punditry

Sunday, February 01, 2004

It’s Called a CNAME, People!

C’mon, folks, it’s not that hard. I’m anything but a networking guru and I know about this. Why do I seem to be finding more and more sites that don’t have their hosts configured to permit me to type their domain without the leading www.? For example, typing colorgeek.com in your browser yields a message that no web site is configured at that address. I had to enter www.colorgeek.com to get to the site. One shouldn’t have to type www. in front of a URL any more. It’s overkill. The only time we should have to type a subdomain in front is if it’s something else, such as world.altavista.com to get to the translation service.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Oh Bother!

I’ve had several things I’ve desired to post about this week. I’ve forgotten essentially all of them. Why did I not post them? Something has apparently been up with my host. CGI operation has been a little weird from the day I started using my host. Something even more weird happened on Monday and has caused me to see nothing but an error 500 page (some sort of misconfiguration message) every time I attempted to use Movable Type’s CGI functions, including making new posts. This is the first time I’ve been able to get into the management pages.

I’ve been suffering a couple minor issues with my host and I’m very likely going to have to switch. VerveHosting is looking very attractive.

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Friday, January 09, 2004

Cough…Gag…

I should be happy that I frequently see statistics that show the percentage of people in developed countries who smoke is getting lower. And I am ecstatic that Florida passed a law that bans smoking in all restaurants in this state. So why, then, does it seem like I can hardly step outside without smelling cigarette smoke? It’s pretty pathetic that an outdoor area reeks of cigarette smoke—specifically referring to my apartment complex. Somehow, while driving, I also manage to constantly get behind someone who’s got a cigarette hanging out their window and am usually a few seconds too late hitting my recirculate button. And don’t get me started about people who smoke all the way through a restaurant drive-through. Seems like smokers are getting their revenge. They can’t smoke in the dining room, so they do it all the more in the drive-throughs. I’m also getting pissed at restaurant workers who go out to take their cigarette break and stand smack in front of the door, creating a smoke cloud I have to walk through to get inside. Then there’s also people who are puffing away as they’re walking up to go into a restaurant and, just as the approach the door, they take one last big drag, toss the cigarette, and exhale after they walk inside. Jerks.

I’m amused every time I hear Gallagher’s old clip (he’s a 1980s comedian) when he’s ranting about being categorized by “what it is I do not do. ‘Are you a smoker or a nonsmoker?’” He likens it to whether or not he pees in his seat. “Are you a pisser or a nonpisser?” He says, “If it’s a DC-10, I’m a pisser.”

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Thursday, January 08, 2004

Stoopid, Adobe—Stoopid

The individuals at Adobe who decided this have my vote for morons of the year.

As reported on Slashdot, Photoshop CS (aka version 8) includes code that detects if an image is a scan of currency and will prevent you from opening the file! It seems Paint Shop Pro also does this.

Basically this means Adobe automatically assumes everyone is a potential criminal/counterfeiter! Stoopid.

Really stoopid.

Jeez, the U.S. Government itself permits illustrations of currency as long as you follow mandatory guidelines: the illustration must be sized either 75% and smaller or 150% and bigger of the original bill, it must be one-sided, and all material (negatives, plates, digital files, etc.) must be destroyed/deleted after final use.

In other words, Photoshop and Paint Shop Pro will not let me do something that I am actually allowed to do if I follow the rules.

If you attempt to open a scan of currency, Photoshop CS produces the following message, “This application does not support the unauthorized processing of banknote images.”

But get this, the message includes a link which produces a world map so you can click a country and read that country’s rules about currency illustrations. The link for the U.S. rules goes to the U.S. Treasury page that I mentioned, above, which says I’m allowed certain reproductions!

Stoopid.

My friend, Jeff, is the one who pointed this out to me and confirmed it by trying to open an image of a $20 bill in Photoshop CS (which I do not yet have). He also found a message post that quipped, “I have some pretty ugly relatives. What if Photoshop gives me error messages regarding the following: ‘Your family is so unattractive that we are redirecting you to the web where you can pick out better-looking people to populate your Adobe Family Photo Album.’”

I predict someone’s going to make a big deal out of this real soon.

Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)

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Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Bah, Humbug

I’ve been having a really rough time getting into holiday spirit this year. It starts, of course, with capitalism pushing Christmas as early as mid-October! By the time Christmas actually comes around, I’ve been exposed to so much holiday decorations and music, I don’t want any more of it. But the real jerker to the situation lies with the past week and a half and a single event that took place yesterday.

As you read an an earlier entry, my boss is one of many that were laid off in an effort to get control of a budget issue. This wouldn’t have been a problem for me except we had one more issue of “her” newsletter to publish before we were gone for the holidays and she was gone for good. Thus, I put up with 10- to 11-hour days every day last week, six hours on Sunday, and 12 hours Monday—the day I had already put in as the first day of my holiday vacation. Now you know why I haven’t made a blog entry since last Tuesday.

As if to drive the stress in a little further, yesterday morning I went to my car—my brand new 2004 Pontiac Vibe—and discovered a nasty ding in the left rear door! DAMMIT! It was parked along the curb next to my apartment. My reasonable assumption is that someone was backing out of the covered spaces on the other side of the road and tapped it with their bumper. Indeed—today, I walked past a little red Civic with a scrape on the right corner of its rear bumper that looks an awful lot like it matches up to the damaged area on my car.

As politely as I possibly could, I left a note on the car to say I found the damage to my car and noticed the damage on his/her car, and what I believe happened, asking if the person knew anything about it and, if so, would they please have the courtesy of providing some insurance information. Then I added my cell number to the note.

Yes, I took a picture of the car’s bumper and license plate, for good measure.

What do you think? Was this a decent course of action?

P.S. - as I typed this entry, one of the apartment staff walked by outside. I caught her and talked about it, and she is pretty sure the car belongs to my next-door neighbor. Now that I think about it, I believe she’s right. Another tidbit of knowledge in my favor.

Comments: 1 (Comments are now closed.)
Posted by Eric Blair -- December 24, 2003 03:55 PM

'tis the season...

I was doing some gift shopping when a woman in an SUV bumped the side of my car when she was trying to get past me. Beyond thinking this woman was an absolutely horrid driver, I can't think of any way this could have happened - I was as far onto my side of the parking lot row as possible and she was heading the opposite direction. She wasn't pulling around anybody. She just had an aversion to being on her side of the road apparently.

So I turn my head when I feel the bump to see what happened. She looks me in the eye for a second, then drives off. Unbelievable. Didn't even have a chance to get her license plate.

So yeah, I think you took the right did the right thing. Of course, I'm rather bitter about this topic right now, so this might just be my vindictive side coming out.

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Thursday, December 11, 2003

More Comment Spam

Bloggers beware—a new round of repetitive comment spam is happening. I’ve received two now. Both have some sort of quotation as the comment and the URL that is left (I’m not going to reproduce it exactly, here, for fear of search bot ramifications) refers to pills for a man’s…you know…with an adjective in front or the word “try” and ending in .net.

I’m running MT Blacklist, but every time the preceeding word in the URL is changed, the filter doesn’t catch it. Someone please tell me, if I simply add *therestofthecommonURL.net to my list, should that take care of it? Is that how MT Blacklist works?

Comments: 1 (Comments are now closed.)
Posted by Raena -- December 11, 2003 09:33 PM

It's never a bad idea to grab the latest blacklist using curl or wget, or whatever lives on your Web server:

http://www.jayallen.org/comment_spam/blacklist.txt

You can also do it through the web interface, but if you do a little script to grab the file and automate it through cron, you never need to lift a finger.

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Friday, November 21, 2003

Murphy’s Law 101

We all know how it goes—and it “went” for me yet again.

There’s a one-year warranty on certain Apple computer equipment, including a second AC adapter I bought at the same time as my PowerBook.

That warranty expired November 17. The power adapter died November 19. Cost of new adapter, $80.

Suck.

Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)

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Saturday, October 25, 2003

I Hate Acorns

Yes, you read right. I hate acorns.

You northeasterners love autumn because of the leaves turning color then falling to the ground. All we Floridians get are ugly brown leaves and zillions of acorns falling off trees. It doesn’t help at all that there are large oak trees all over my apartment complex.

One problem is that they fall all over the roads and cars naturally run over them. I see more orange acorn guts on the road than actual blacktop right now.

There is, however, an even worse problem. One of these oak trees is just around the corner from my bedroom windows and directly across the street from my living room windows. Half of said tree is above the covered parking spaces. I’ll give you one guess what the covers are made out of.

CRACK! BANG! POP! — All frickin’ night long for the past several weeks.

Why am I noticing it more this year than in the past? I think there’s a squirrel conspiracy.

Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)

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Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Course of Action?

Someone please tell me whether an apartment complex is within its rights to have its residents’ A/C units looking like this. This isn’t even the original condition of my unit. Earlier today, that panel was almost wide open and cords hanging out everywhere. Now, the panel is only almost closed, part of the wire connections are still hanging out, and apparently everyone’s units have one thin cable leading off somewhere, as you can see in the picture. What should I do about it?

I’d called the office earlier today because my A/C was blowing, but not cold. Being careful to stay away from the bare wires (they are 200v, after all), I pushed up on the lower part of the wire you can see to wiggle the interior wad of cables. I heard the compressor click and my A/C was working again. I believe a maintenance person came (I never saw him) and cleaned it up a bit, but the cold air later went away again. I, of course, called again. This time, I met him out there and he was closing up the panel again and said it was low on freon. Indeed, he had his equipment connected to charge it at the time. Well, low freon or not, I’m not getting cool air again, and it’s 7:15pm. I’m absolutely certain that the rat nest of wire inside the panel isn’t making a good connection and the compressor doesn’t know it needs to kick on.

Regardless what it’s going to ultimately take to get this fixed for good, let’s go back to the notion of the way it looks in the picture. Surely leaving 200v wires exposed to the elements like this is a violation of something, isn’t it?

Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)

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Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Blog Spam—UPDATED

Like my pal, Chris, I, too, have been targeted by a dodo who has little better to do than annoy bloggers.

But I’ll voice my disdain a step further than Chris did by helping you take some preemptive action—especially those of you whom I have, at some point or another, linked to. His last-known IP address was 216.228.168.110. Unfortunately, though, I’m having little luck tracing this address.

Feel free to ban at will. If I see new IPs, I’ll update this entry.

UPDATE: I’m no longer sure that IP banning is going to solve it. I just got hit again from a totally different IP: 206.163.168.7

Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)

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Sunday, September 21, 2003

Common Sense, People, Please!

Bank of America’s online banking support staff are idiots.

I’m not being facetious. At least one of them truly is an absolute moron.

Some time ago, I sent in a comment stating that certain javascript-driven buttons didn’t operate properly through Apple’s Safari web browser. I wasn’t mad. I wasn’t demanding an immediate solution. I know Apple is a minority to them and that Safari is pretty new. I politely reminded them that though these buttons worked fine in Internet Explorer for Macintosh, Microsoft had ceased continuing development of IE as a standalone product and that more and more Mac-using Bank of America customers would, undoubtedly, starting showing up with other browsers—especially Safari.

I get a reply telling me how to get the online banking site to “remember me” with an explanation of properly utilizing cookies.

!!!!?!?!????

I replied, simply, questioning what set of circumstances would cause an answer to be sent to me that had positively nothing to do with my original comment—an answer that solved a problem I was not (and never had been) experiencing. (It was still a fairly civil and professional response, but if they read between the lines, they’d have seen I was asking, “Was the person who sent this smoking crack at the time?”)

Tonight, I retrieved another response from BoA with instructions of how to make sure my site certificate settings were correct…

…IN INTERNET EXPLORER 6.0 FOR WINDOWS!!!!!

What the HELL do I care about Windows product instructions which, for one, I never asked for help with and, secondly, completely ignore that I’d been writing to them about Apple’s Safari!!!????? Dorks!

It’s a damned good thing the problem I had apparently resolved itself one way or another, and that I generally don’t have issues using BoA’s (or is that DOA?) online banking, AND that the whole service is free.

Blatant stupidity like this should be grounds for being dragged into the street naked and hung from your earlobes in freezing weather.

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Thursday, September 18, 2003

Mail Go Bye-bye

Cripes! For the moment, I’m missing a bunch of archived mail!

My host’s e-mail database rebuilt itself (as it has sometimes done in the past), but this time, it completely reset the contents of my mail space!

My two main IMAP inboxes were cached and I’ve successfully saved out the messages, but my subfolders were not cached. Usually they are, but I had re-configured my mail client a little while back and hadn’t yet redownloaded those messages.

The most recent message I’m missing is from September 10, so I’m hanging on to the notion that there’s been a backup since then that can be restored from. Surely there’s at least weekly backups, if not daily.

I’m learning my lesson. 1) I will make sure my mail folders are cached at all times. 2) I will try very hard to reduce the amount of mail I store long-term. 3) I will make backups of my cached e-mail database.

Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)

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Monday, August 25, 2003

ACK! Idiotic Mistakes

I’m such a DORK. I just spent the last half hour summarizing my interpretation of some of my stats. I thought a few of you might be interested. I was almost done with the damned post. Just preparing to add one more item. In the process of switching tabs to other pages I was getting data from, I accidentally hit the close widget on the tab containing the page where I was typing my entry. It’s all gone!

I could swear. A lot. And a lot more.

I’m not gonna try and redo it. I’m not that vain. Thus, if you are vaguely interested in a few details about my site visits, drop a line and I’ll share.

I will, however, retype that I’ve had something like 972 unique visitors since August 1. Kinda neat.

But I digress. I’m still pissed at myself.

Comments: 1 (Comments are now closed.)
Posted by Raena Armitage -- August 29, 2003 10:18 AM

...I'm curious. :)

This is one of the things I like about Camino - I've done the accidental close on Safari more times than I can remember...

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Saturday, August 23, 2003

Whose Rights Have Precedence?

I’m not trying to say my apartment neighbors are breaking any rules. I mean, I’d be happy if they were (it would solve my problem), but I’m sure they’re not. The problem is, they sit in the breezeway area for both our apartments, right outside their open front door, and smoke like a chimney. Naturally, their choice of location is, undoubtedly, to prevent filling up their living space with smoke—not to mention that the fire/smoke alarm would probably go off. Unfortunately, the front doors are, by no means, airtight. Consequently, my living room immediately reeks of carcinogens when they light up. Opening my door while this is happening and hollering is not an option, since the guy is a rather large, intimidating fellow. So, I’m deciding whether to confront them myself in a “sorry to bother you” type of attitude and explain the problem, or get the apartment office to do the dirty work for me. To my credit, I’m probably going to deal with it myself but, first, I’m curious whether there’s any generally applicable guidelines for multi-family housing I should add to my arsenal. I may succeed by simply (and politely) asking them to smoke on the other end of the breezeway so the smoke all goes outside. However, if that doesn’t go well, I’d be happy knowing I had something “official” I could throw at them.

Please sound off if you have any thoughts on this matter.

Comments: 2 (Comments are now closed.)
Posted by Jon Gales -- August 24, 2003 11:22 PM

Just start smoking :)

Posted by Andy McConnell -- August 25, 2003 10:09 AM

If you've got the right to smoke,
I've got the right to chew.
If you don't blow your smoke on me,
I won't spit on you.

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Thursday, August 21, 2003

Sobig.F Killer

To qualify for the rant category I gave this entry, I’ll just say this: in this day and age, if anyone is dumb enough to open attachments from e-mails that they weren’t expecting to receive, they deserve to have their computer completely trashed from the results. I just wish the rest of us didn’t have to put up with it, as well, by receiving all the propagation messages the virus sends.

Anyway, kudos to a fellow ATPM staffer for sharing this single commonality among the W32.Sobig.F@mm phenomenon—they all have the bogus header, X-MailScanner: Found to be clean. All you have to do is set a rule to look for that header and set its action to delete the message.

Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)

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Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Stop Buying From Spammers, Dammit!

“A New Hampshire company appears to be grossing close to half a million dollars each month by spamming people with sales pitches for an herbal ‘male enhancement’ product. The discovery may explain the intractability of junk e-mailers on the Internet.” [Wired News]

This is precisely why spammers aren’t going to give up. Ever.

As long as there are a few thousand assholes in the world who patronize companies that send spam, the millions of other internet users are going to suffer the consequences.

Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)

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Monday, July 21, 2003

Fodder For Whether to Patronize Orbitz.com

Good lord—did you see this one?

I mean, before I get targeted for flaming, let me firmly state that I do not, in any way, hate homosexual people—only the lifestyle.

And while I’m soapboxing my opinion about homosexuality, I’ll ask the question, how do gay/lesbian individuals rationalize that homosexuality is a natural/normal thing? I’ll eat my words if I’m mistaken but, as far as I’m aware, humans are the only animals that engage in same sex relationships. Aren’t all other creatures in the animal kingdom heterosexual?

Comments: 3 (Comments are now closed.)
Posted by Michael -- July 21, 2003 08:16 PM

"Let me firmly state that I do not, in any way, hate homosexual people--only the lifestyle."

I'm having trouble seeing that distinction...but as to animals I think the evidence is pretty clear, though not much talked about.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/031225377X/aboutthisparticu

Posted by Lee Bennett -- July 21, 2003 11:01 PM

Well, poop.

Waiter, one humble pie, please. That's right--not one slice. I'll be eating the whole pie. Yes, by myself.

Posted by Raena Armitage -- July 24, 2003 06:23 AM

Looking at the title:

Where does 'whether' come from? Specifically, what problem would there be for you personally to patronise orbitz.com if they offer gay-targeted travel?

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Saturday, July 19, 2003

Pssssssssssssssssss

&^¢%!*@ flat tire!

Grumble grumble fume fume.

Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)

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Tuesday, July 01, 2003

I Think a Wired News Writer Screwed Up

Jeez, Elisa Batista, let’s say you go take some basic Journalism 101 courses before writing another article. Pay attention to the section about checking your facts!

Elisa reported in Wired News that American Airlines claims to be the first airline to permit passengers to use cell phones while the plane is on the ground and the door is open. What kind of crap statement is this? I’ve flown a couple of airlines (American included) over the past year—all of which have indicated that cell phones could be used until the door is shut. This has probably been in effect longer than a year, but I can only say about a year for certain.

Probably some underpaid intern we’re dealing with here, you think?

Comments: 2 (Comments are now closed.)
Posted by Jon Gales -- July 2, 2003 12:17 PM

Maybe they are the first ones to make it official policy?

Posted by Andy -- July 2, 2003 01:38 PM

The rest of the sentence is the key part: that passengers will be allowed to use their cell phones after landing BEFORE they have arrived at the gate and the door has been opened.
So now, if you fly AA, you can phone your ride while the plane is taxiing, and not worry about the stewardess interrupting you (and 20 other cell phone users who couldn't wait to check their voice mail--even before it was "allowed" by policy) with a chastisement on the PA system.

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Sunday, June 22, 2003

Customer Courtesy

I hope some store managers (specifically, but not limited to, restaurants) are reading.

Start paying attention to where your selfish employees (or perhaps even your selfish selves) are parking. Way back when I worked at fast food restaurants, not parking in the back was grounds for termination. These days, it seems the spaces right next to the door are fair game for employees who, of course, arrive before the store opens, which means that those of us who are paying for those measly salaries, which are squandered on spiffy cars filling those spaces, have to trek all the way across parking lots, often in pouring rain (yes, it’s that time of year in Florida), to get inside.

Whoever drives that little red sports car (Mitsubishi, I think) with cocky Asian lettering on the windows and works at the Altamonte Springs Boston Market, I’m looking at you!!

Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)

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Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Buy a Watch, Will Ya?

If I have any readers who are familiar with U.S. law, I’d appreciate some input.

I don’t claim to be at all fluent with the specifics, but I know that there is a certain stretch in the day that is the only legal time for solicitation calls. I’m pretty sure it starts at 8 a.m. but I’m fuzzy on when it ends. One source said 5 p.m. which I know is wrong. Another colleague said 9 p.m., which seems about right.

Technically, it was not a solicitation call that came in at 7:03 this morning.

First, a bit of back story.) Feel free to skip to the next paragraph if you’re crunched for time.) A tech from my cable provider, Bright House Networks (formerly Time Warner), had informed me on Friday that a signal leak had been detected and that the source appeared to my apartment. I wasn’t prepared to let him in to work on it at that time because I was going to be leaving soon. I set up a time with Bright House for someone to come check it out on Sunday. Both the guy who came on Friday and the person I talked to on the phone to schedule the Sunday time had blabbered something unclear to me about FCC regulations and that this needed to be dealt with now so my service wouldn’t be interrupted. So Sunday comes and a tech arrives. (Why is it when I need them to come out, they show up about 5-10 minutes before the end of the time range I schedule, but this guy showed up 10-15 minutes before the beginning of the time range?) The tech pulls out a hi-tech device that reminded me of a Star Trek tricorder, but with two radio antennas sticking out either side of it about 3 feet either way. He waves the thing around my cable jack on one side of the living room and follows the cable around the wall to the other side where my TV is. He gets a puzzled look on his face and checks again. “Crazy surveyors,” he mutters. “I’m not picking up any problem.” Somewhat amused, I send him on his way, noting a bit more waving around of his instrument outside my building. I never saw him again.

Back to my rant. I’m fully aware that Bright House (as well as some other companies) will make follow-up calls after a service call to encourage customer satisfaction. First of all, I did not make a service call. They’re the ones who had the problem and needed access to my apartment to check it out. I was understandably perplexed as to why I was being asked if my cable service was now working properly. But what really pissed me was that the call came in at 7:03 a.m. You have to realize that I generally wake up between 7:30 and 8 a.m. on weekdays to be to work by 9 a.m. The only reason I even answered the phone and wasn’t in a comatose sleep was because I thought maybe it was a paranoid coworker confirming I’d be in the office by 8:15 today to show a video, like I’d promised. But the fact that my alarm had gone off at 7 and I was a third of the way through the snooze cycle didn’t make me feel any better about Bright House’s choice to call me at that time.

I don’t think there’s anything I can do about it. As I said, it was not a solicitation call. I am a customer of theirs. Am I right, or is there any form of legal chastisement I can lay on them?

Comments: 1 (Comments are now closed.)
Posted by Jon Gales -- June 10, 2003 01:13 AM

According to Junk Busters it's 8 AM to 9PM in your local time zone.

http://www.junkbusters.com/ht/en/fcc.html

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Sunday, June 08, 2003

In-DUH-vidual Moments

Stoopid.

Thanks to one of the zillions of dorks who choose to ignore the No U-Turn sign on the road approaching my apartment entrance, I now have a marred front grille on my car.

I believe I had enough distance in front of me, that is, until some doofus in a big dually pickup made the illegal turn—even worse, starting from the right line and crossing the left lane so as to not have to make it a 3-point turn. The van in front of me only barely got stopped when the truck cut in front of him. If there hadn’t been a teensy bit of rain starting, I probably would have gotten stopped, too.

The damage is superficial on both vehicles. I was content to just swap information with the guy, but considering a 3rd party “technically” caused it (who, of course, was long gone by this time), the other driver insisted a cop come out.

Uhg. Well, it went exactly as I predicted—especially since an on-break CompUSA worker saw it happen. The cop agreed neither of us were directly at fault and neither of us got tickets. He filled out a driver exchange form, gave us both copies, and sent us on our way.

Stoopid.

Anyway, assuming I hear from the other driver again, I’ll have the choice of either turning it into my insurance, or just paying him myself. In spite of the fact that a 3rd party was to blame, I did technically hit him.

Stoopid.

So, does anyone have any advice as to an amount I should set to decide whether to turn it in, or pay it? I really don’t think it’ll be more than a hundred or two, and I doubt I’m even going to do anything about the little mar on my front end. I guess what I should do depends on my deductible. I thought mine was on the higher end, but I need to check. There’s a code on my insurance card that says D100. The other guy’s says D250. Could I have actually paid a bit higher premium for the $100 deductible?

Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)

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Wednesday, June 04, 2003

GeoCachers Under Fire

How often it is that goody-two-shoes legislators have to go and ruin a great thing. It seems that park officials are either starting or considering to start banning GeoCaching on their grounds. They’re pooh-poohing the well-meaning activity claiming that it attracts undesirables to their park and encourages people to tromp through and possibly damage natural areas.

Never mind that a very large percentage of GeoCachers are extremely mindful of the environment and are careful where they trod. Never mind that many GeoCachers even clean up trash in the areas they search. Never mind that many people relocate caches they’ve left every so often so as to prevent them from being found just by following the trails that would become visible by people bushwhacking the same path over and over again. [Twincities.com]

Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)

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Spam Is in Eye of the Beholder

When are these whining criminal business __bleeps__ going to figure out what their target audience is thinking? I couldn’t give a monkey’s butt what the “official” definition of spam is. If you sent it, and you didn’t address me specifically and solely, and I didn’t ask for it, it’s spam. Period. This may not be the legal definition, but that doesn’t stop me from adding you to my spam filter list. [Wired News]

It’s really quite simple, people. Spam costs the recipients more money than it does the sender. I’m in favor of advertising, but only advertising that the advertiser pays for. I don’t care if you are a company that I already patronize, offering me half off my next purchase—if you (indirectly) caused me to pay for your ad, I’m not interested.

Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)

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Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Sucky Day Redux

I just may have been more accurate to headline this entry as Sucky Week. I dunno.

I’m fighting a huge temptation to explain what I’m pissed about, but doing so would violate my own “separation of work and blog” rule (see bottom of About Me page).

Let’s just put it this way. This time of year is the most hellish for me. If anyone were to believe I could come close to having a nervous breakdown, this would be the time. I’m fed up with having so many things to be responsible for piled on me during this “event” that happens every year, while always hearing about the other employees and the one or two tasks they are assigned.

Every year, this one likely to be included, I come out the back side of the event more exhausted and sleep deprived than anyone should have to be. Plus, I cannot remember the last time I wasn’t ill after this event.

I consider this entry a pledge to myself that I will either be assigned fewer tasks next year, or my office will have to figure out how to deal with my sudden and unexpected need to tend to urgent personal matters that require out of town travel. That may be what it’ll take for people to realize how much has been dumped on me.

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Friday, May 16, 2003

Sucky Day

I’m not going to bore anyone with whiney details. Suffice to say I’ve been a victim today of severe irony as well as idiotic, bureaucratic mentalities of “those in charge” within a nonprofit office.

I need a new job.

Comments: 1 (Comments are now closed.)
Posted by Queue -- May 27, 2003 11:17 AM

I know this is late, but... Welcome to my world!

• • •

Saturday, May 03, 2003

Wireless Spam

It’s inevitable.

I say, let it come. I’m not such a huge advocate of SMS, so I’d just disable the feature on my phone. But let it come. Perhaps as soon as some high ranking government officials start getting “Enlarge your penis” messages during the middle of a top security briefing, we’ll finally see the whole spam problem go away.

MobileTracker entry.

Comments: 2 (Comments are now closed.)
Posted by Raena Armitage -- May 5, 2003 06:58 AM

As with most things cellular, the US is more than a year behind. (Ha ha.) I get spammed via SMS a few times a week; it's been increasing gently since I bought my first mobile in 1999. It's easy to do, too; just one method is to automate the process with ICQ and its SMS service, with a little bit of tweaking to get around its daily limit, and you don't even need to pay a cent.

SMS is really quite neat, though. Instead of using voicemail, I can divert my cell to an operator who'll take the message, name and number, and SMS it to me. So useful when you still want to get messages, but not make a call. Or I can message a friend while either of us are at work or in class without looking like a complete slacker.

Posted by Queue -- May 5, 2003 10:33 PM

You act like government officials have SMS capable phones. Our guys get piece-of-junk phones that barely get cell reception. :)

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Friday, March 28, 2003

Can You Hear Me Now? I Hope Not!

Listen—er, read—carefully. E-mail (or this blog, for that matter) does not explicitly convey someone’s tone of voice. For goodness sakes, before you beat someone over the head because you think that what they typed was done with a an unkind intent, make damn well sure that person was truly meaning to be unkind!

Sure, it’s one thing if I type in an e-mail, “I HATE YOU, YOU #)*#$!@) DORKWAD!!!” But if I type something like, “I don’t understand your question. Give me some more information so I can give you a decent answer,” those words do not, generally, mean that I think you’re an ignorant plebe. It just means, I didn’t understand your question. Tell me more.

While discussing this topic with fellow ATPM staff, one observation came out that conversing with written word is kind of an art form and that someone who is adept at language can actually convey tone of voice with just the written word.

Fine. When I’m writing a love letter, or a request for my office to let me buy something, or an article for publication, it is absolutely important to try to be clear with not just what you’re saying, but the tone in which you’re saying it.

However, as far as I care, e-mail is a natural venue for quick, informal conversation. It’s a way to get a word to someone who’s hard to catch by phone, a way to map out what you want to say so you don’t forget parts when you speak in person, or a way to get a word to someone you don’t want to talk to on the phone or in person. Don’t expect me to make absolutely certain that a sentence I type in e-mail has been carefully thought out so as to be impossible to be interpreted as me being pissed off.

If I’m pissed off, I assure you that I won’t leave it to an ambiguous sentence for you to infer my mood. I will let you know it.

Comments: 1 (Comments are now closed.)
Posted by Queue -- March 28, 2003 04:12 PM

Sarcasm is often read into people's spoken words. It's no wonder this carries over into reading e-mail.

• • •

Tuesday, March 04, 2003

Don’t Encourage Them!

Oh bother! How the hell are we going to ever convince people that HTML formatting should stay on the web and e-mail should stay ASCII only when conglomerates like Earthlink are sending out asinine tips like this one suggesting people “have more creative communications” by using HTML formatting in their e-mails?

Hey, Earthlink big shots; it’s bad enough you guys decided to change your weekly newsletter to HTML format. I don’t need clueless internet newbie plebes sending me e-mail messages that are several tens of kilobytes bigger than they need to be just because they want to type the word “love” in red!

And while I’m hollering at you, if you’re going to talk about using HTML formatting in e-mail for the slightly more redeeming purpose of being able to type foreign characters, at least show the intelligence to properly identify that “the ‘c’ in français” is called a cedilla and “the two little dots over the ‘a’ in doppelgänger” is called an umlaut!

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• • •

Friday, February 14, 2003

Good Thing My Checking Account is Free

Why do companies—especially banks—have such an insatiable need to waste my time? You have to call them to activate new credit cards that replace expired ones. Thus, you are, consequently, a captive audience—forced let them try and sell you on various protection plans. On top of that, they assume you’re so stupid that you probably accidentally pressed the number to indicate you’re not interested in their sales pitch, so you get an “are you sure” message that is almost as lengthy as the one you heard the first time.

I guess the notion that my bank now gives me free checking as well as free online banking (that’s right, I don’t pay my bank one cent for any of their services…er, well, at least not directly—naturally they’re making money ining my, and everyone else’s, checking account dollars) is enough justification to not get completely pissed off at them.

But really, bankers, how about making solicitation calls like any other respectable tele-marketer (so that my Call Privacy ID can deal with you like it’s supposed to)!

Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)

• • •

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

)@#^ Corporate Workplace Nonsense

AGGG! I could scream my fool head off.

Corporate workplace politics and bureaucracy SUCKS! It’s bad enough that you can’t give off the slightest indication that someone is upsetting you. It’s worse that if someone does perceive (notice I said “perceive”) that you are upset, regardless whether or not you really are, they can’t even be adult enough to come to you and talk about it to try and resolve it. NOOOOO. They have to run tattle to the brass that so-and-so isn’t behaving in a manner harmonious with office civility. Doesn’t it stand to reason that if people act as though they’re godly enough to waste time inventing the perfect words to answer a touchy situation, often times there’s still that little bit of resentment over what transpired? That resentment builds and builds and you end up with an office full of coworkers who get stressed out because they’re afraid to do or say things around others for fear that they’ll word it wrong and, heaven forbid, offend someone.

If something is bugging me, I’ll pretty much be the first one to let you know it. I simply have to get it out of my system. And the great thing is, I basically never hold grudges. I speak my mind, then I usually forget about it. It’s far less stressful. The mentality that you have to put on a front that says, “even though you are rubbing me the wrong way, I can respond as if what you were doing is just fine and dandy.” No, it’s not fine and dandy, and putting on that front implies to the other person that there was nothing wrong with what they were doing, so they’ll continue doing it.

I’m not suggesting that coworkers should be at each other’s throats all day long. Naturally, people who work together need to be able to be comfortable around each other and have no problem with civility. But things are going to bug you once in a while. That’s being human. Do the human thing and say so, then move on. No harm, no foul.

No, I’m not prepared to walk out of my current job. I do keep faint tabs on non-corporate job possibilities—but I’ve been doing that since the day I started full-time where I am now.

Comments: 1 (Comments are now closed.)
Posted by chris -- February 14, 2003 12:27 AM

I know what you mean when it comes to the temper/anger thing. I have been "talked to" more than once by my supervisor regarding my "outbursts." What she doesn't get is that, and I'm just like you in this regard, when I blow up, I'm venting, releasing, and then that's it. End of story, life moves on.

To quote Costanza: "Now they want me to hold it [anger] in and bottle it up. It makes me so mad!"

I generally wear my heart on my sleeves. What you see is what you get, take it or leave it. (I see that part of myself in my blog every day.) I'll try to be diplomatic, but I'll tell you what I think without sugarcoating it. It can be a huge disadvantage, it can be a great advantage; depends on the situation. I let fly with a rather serious, but diplomatic invective on looking forward to OS X with regard to an in-house software package that is crucial to our business. This was back in the fall, when we first heard that Apple was going to stop shipping systems that booted OS 9.

I was unofficially reprimanded by my superior, since the manager responsible for the software was offended that I would say such a thing, true or not, to the people who were CC'ed and not just to him. The problem was that those people needed to know he and his team were dragging their butts; they were our internal customers, the publishing folks. We had been talking about moving to OS X since the spring, and 6 months later, we were in danger of having to buy Macs that wouldn't boot OS 9. Today, there are TWO initiatives within that group to provide OS X-compatibility as we look to moving the artists to that platform later this year.

I like to think that I handled the situation The Macintosh Way, even though I wasn't in a position to program the solution. After all, it's easier to ask for forgiveness than beg for permission. My boss knew I was in the right; she was simply "forced" to reprimand me, and she did it verbally, so there's no written record. :)

Don't worry about the other people. There may be some adaptation on your part (I go into the lab now to blow up, where I can bitch to our curmudgeonly server wizard I get along so well with, and the hum of the server boxes works toward drowning out my rants.), but don't change for them. Life's too short. Be who you are. They may not appreciate it, but at some point, someone will. They'll accept you for who you are and you'll both be better for it. As far as I'm concerned, there's only one person I have to worry about pleasing, because He's the one I'll stand before some day and have to answer to. It won't be any employer, friend, or family member.

• • •

Tuesday, February 11, 2003

TWC = Take-away Whatever you Can

Time Warner Cable suits can really be jerks when they want to be. I don’t know how I’m only just now realizing this (probably because I’ve been too busy to watch a lot of television lately, but I’m working on that issue) but, apparently a month or two ago, some of the premium digital channels got shuffled in the offered packages. Consequently, I lost two channels (one of which shows older, but not too old, movies which I liked to tune into about once a week) and supposedly gained a couple non-premium channels—junk like NASA TV (barely useful even during major events like liftoffs, landings, and disasters), Lifetime Real Women (yeah, I’m watching that one all the time!), and a local weather now station (I gave up on TV as my source for weather information æons ago). Okay, they did add the National Geographic Channel. Not bad, but just one channel—correction, one non-premium channel—that even remotely interests me. A component of my decision for one particular premium pack was for one of these lost channels.

I say again, non-premium—channels that cost more to receive. I lost two decent ones, and was returned with a smacking of mostly piddly standard digital tier channels. And, bottom-line monthly rates increased a couple bucks.

“Refund, or reinstate, TWC.”

Idiots.

Comments: 2 (Comments are now closed.)
Posted by chris -- February 12, 2003 05:39 PM

CABLE: Commercials And Basically Lousy Entertainment.

Personally, I would love to see cable & satellite companies begin to offer some sort of pay-per-channel plan, where you could pick and choose the channels you wanted. Sure, you'd still have premium channels, and they could still offer packages, but it would give consumers more choice and yes, would likely up their revenues.

We have both AT&T cable & DirecTV satellite. We got the ultra-basic AT&T cable service when we got our broadband connection, because w/the cable splitter in the study, I couldn't use DirecTV. Lucky for me the AT&T contract installer forgot to put a blocker on my connection at the junction box, and I get many more channels than I'm supposed to. Doesn't really matter though, since I don't watch even a third of what I have.

The Retrophisch Channel Line-up: major networks, Fox News Channel, ESPN et al, Fox Sports (Southwest, in my case), History, Discovery, TLC, Stars/Encore, and I could take or leave HBO. Granted, the wife watches more tv than I, but the above is where you'll most often find me tuned in.

Posted by Bryan -- February 25, 2003 03:42 PM

The reason we'll never have pay-per-channel schemes is because certain channels would outright die. You're paying to subsidize a handful of people who watch the junk channels. It doesn't benifit cable companies to lose the number of channels they offer, or at least that's what they think.

• • •

Sunday, February 09, 2003

Stoopid Journalists

cnnsucks.jpgWhen I see idiotic things like this, I am embarrassed to admit that my career is related (sometimes loosely—sometimes tightly) to journalism.

Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)

• • •

Friday, January 31, 2003

Goodbye Spam?

I think the service that sites like GoodbyeSpam provide is, ultimately, just the ticket for never having to deal with junk mail again. So, why am I typing this in the rant category instead of punditry? I’m glad you asked.

First, what does GoodbyeSpam do? All of your mail goes to the service first. I don’t know for sure, but I imagine you configure it to check your POP, IMAP, Yahoo, Hotmail, MSN, or Juno account, and then you create an account in your e-mail software to pull mail down from GoodbyeSpam and no longer from your normal e-mail service. Once GoodbyeSpam has retrieved your messages, it checks to see if the sender is included in either your ‘accept’ or ‘reject’ lists. If the sender is found, the appropriate action is taken. If not, the message is sent to quarantine and the sender is automatically replied to and asked to click a link in the e-mail to confirm that he or she is a real person. Upon doing so, they are added to the ‘accept’ list, the message is passed on to you, and the sender shouldn’t ever have to deal with the validation again. And, of course, you can manually add addresses to either list. The concept is wonderful.

However, I’m not busting a nut to sign up…yet. Two reasons. The first may exist elsewhere. I haven’t seen it yet. The validation needs to be a little more substantial. I assure you, spammer technology is well beyond the simple ability to automatically detect validation messages and click a link. What’s needed is for the validation to not have a link to click, rather an embedded graphic file of a word, and the word should have some sort of graphic treatment to deter optical character recognition. The sender would need to read the word, reply to the message, and type that word in a specified location. This is an almost sure-fire way to be sure a human being is doing the validating.

The second reason is the price. GoodbyeSpam.com costs $3.22 per month. Forgive me (or not) if I sound cheap, but $40 per year is steep. Consider that dialup access can be had for next to nothing and that domain registration is $35 or less per year. A couple years worth of this anti-spam service, and you’re really soaking some cash.

GoodbyeSpam has an alternative to the simple link validation. It’s possible to have the validation message also include a name and the sender must also provide the e-mail address that matches to get validated. Spammers are not likely to plow through their huge address database to match your name with an address. They often only have an address with no name, anyway. I think, though, that even this is not beyond the possibility of being automated. But the point is, to get this feature, you have to upgrade to GoodbyeSpam’s professional service and, ta-da, you’re now paying $5.32 per month ($64 annually).

ISPs and e-mail providers need to start implementing this type of thing on their own for their customers. I don’t see that it would be any huge drain of system resources for them. Your e-mail account is going to be sent the mail (spam or otherwise) regardless whether you have the validation service, so there’s no difference in mail storage space. You can rest assured that as soon as XYZ service provider (a respectable/known provider, of course) finally bites the bullet and offers this as part of their standard service, they’re going to see significant customer growth until such time that other ISPs hop on the bandwagon.

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• • •

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

You’ve Got Spam

Sorry, Bryan (my brother and, like me, a newbie blogger), I truly must quote your entry:

“When is the government going to get off of their collective asses and pass some decent anti-spam laws? It’s nice and all that most ISPs will delete accounts used by spammers, but, in the end, it is doing absolutely no good. We need to go after the companies that enlist these spammers.
“Spam is on the rise with estimates of 36% of e-mail traffic being SPAM. Let’s put this in perspective. Your ISP has costs associated with storing e-mail, computers to handle the internet traffic, and per-byte costs for sending and receiving internet traffic. Somewhere in the range of 1/3 of these costs are being forced on the ISP by spammers. You know the ISPs are not going to eat these costs. Many ISPs have already started charging more. That’s right. You, the consumer, will end up paying.”
Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)

• • •

Sunday, January 26, 2003

Celine Who!?

My ATPM friend Chris Turner makes a really good point. He asks why Celine Dion was chosen to sing God Bless America during the SuperBowl pregame.

Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)

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