Saturday, November 13, 2010

Road Trips

So, in a little bit, Donna and I will be heading up to Philadelphia to, hopefully, see the Flyers trash the Panthers. To be honest, if I hadn't seen the team name on the tickets, I wouldn't have remembered that the Panthers even exist - the same holds for pretty much all of the teams from states with no, naturally occurring, outdoor ice.

We're taking my car up to Philadelphia, this time. Donna's in the middle of doing several sewing projects. With the DST nonsense, it will be dark early and Donna will need cabin-lighting to see. The passengers' cabin-lights in the BMW are a lot more directed than they are in the SUV. She can have her light on and not make me night-blind. The same can't be said of the lights in the SUV (just one of many differences between a $50K car and a $25K car, I guess).

For all the expense and niceties of the BMW, it's an old car (a 2002 model year). The head unit that came with it didn't have an auxiliary-port through which to plug in an iPod or similar device. All it has is the CD-player. There's, effectively, little in the way or radio once you get too far north of Baltimore. Pretty much, you have to bring your music with you to cover the hour+ stretch north of Baltimore where radio ends.

When It comes to my car, that means I gotta burn CDs to listen to (if I want new music each trip). It's kind of a pain in the ass.

I'd get a new head-unit for my car, but none of the after-market units work with my steering wheel-based controls. And, at nine years old, I'm always hesitant to spend the money to get someone to do the work necessary to preserve use of the steering wheel controls.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Browsing SNAFUs

Yeah, I know that it's actually the fault of AdBlock+, but there's still something weird about the fact that my Google-produced Chrome seems to be unreliable in playing videos from Google-owned YouTube.

Think I'll Pass

Why do I get the idea that Knucklehead will perpetuate the truisms about movies that start professional wrestlers?
This guy?
I mean, "The Big Show" may be a nice guy and all. He may even be of above average intelligence. And, truly, "professional wrestling" is all about acting. I just can't see that he's going to be someone to put on a compelling movie-acting performance. Worse, a movie that centers around a wrestler playing a wrestler (I'm presuming: commercials frequently aren't accurate indicators of movie contents) in a comical farce gives me little in the way of faith that this will be a high-quality flick. Really: I'm wondering how this movie got any budget for advertising. It just strikes me as a movie made to go "straight-to-tape".

Not All Ounces Are Created Equal

So, today, I was telecommuting. I was working on a "how to use NetApp Fibrechannel Storage With RedHat Multipathing" document. As I usually do when telecommuting, I had the TV on to make background noise. At one point, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire came on.

As far as gameshows go, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire is not the most horrible of the bunch. Certainly, it's far better than the ferret-level intelligence required for Wheel of Fortune and less trailer parkish than Let's Make a Deal. Still, the show's a dumbed-down version of the same show that came from England.

Even dumbed-down, there's certain standards that one really should maintain. I mean, if you're going to ask a question - I don't care how hard or easy it is - you should expect a correct answer. More, the answer that you're asking for should be correct.

Today, I had the pain of seeing really poor writing and fact-checking at play. The question asked was something along the lines of, "If a man weighs 150lbs and gold's market price is $1000 an ounce, how much would the man be worth if he were composed entirely of gold?" The answer they wanted (and got) from the contestant was $2.4Mn. Now, that answer would be correct, if gold were measured in the same units that body weight is measured in. However, that is simply not the case. Gold is measured in troy ounces (ozt.). Body weight is measured in avoirdupois ounces (oz.). Ok, typically body weight (in the US) is measured in "pounds" but, that's neither here nor there - it's the underlying conversions that are material to this question.

A quick search shows that, one pound of body weight equates to 16 avoirdupois ounces (or 16oz). Whereas, one pound of body weight equates to roughly 14.583 troy ounces (or, 14.583ozt). That means that the 150lb man would be 2400oz. and 2187.5ozt. (or thereabouts). As previously established, gold is measured in ozt, not oz. Therefore, the calculation should have been $1000/ozt * 2187.5ozt to get a value of $2.187Mn, not the $2.4Mn that was offered as an answer option.

Grr... Sloppy (and, yes, I didn't worry about the significance of my numbers when I placed decimals and did my rounding - sue me).

No KSH Love

I've been using UNIX operating systems (and workalikes) for a long time, now. The first UNIX system I touched was in 1989. As a longtime user of UNIX, I've developed some deeply set habits and preferences.

One such preference is my choice login-shell. I am a Korn Shell (KSH) user. Unfortunately, it's not super well-supported under Linux. It's made available more as a concession to dinosaurs, such as myself, than as a real "we think this is a good shell" type of effort. While each of the other myriad shells in Linux seem to come with a default shell initialization script in /etc/skel, KSH is given no such file.

All I can guess is that the distribution/package maintainers figure, "if this person's using KSH, they have enough clue to know how to put together a proper shell init file - no sense bothering to provide one." Worse, so few of today's UNIX "administrators" seem to get that there's shells other than BASH, that they don't bother to alter the contents of /etc/skel (or, if they do, they only do it for BASH and maybe CSH). Then again, there's a reason I put quotation marks around "administrators".

Alternative Screening Methods

So, the fascists at TSA are trying to push the use of the backscatter scanners by making them the lesser of two evils. Basically, they've instructed their hoards of Barney Fifes to go so far down the path of invasiveness with their pat-downs as to qualify for sexual assault in any other context. They've done this to make the alternative to being scanned even more embarrassing and annoying than being run through the backscatter scanners.

I wonder, though: were I to wear a rubber gimp-suit to go through TSA screening, would they still need to grope or scan me? I mean, it's not like I'd be able to hide anything under such attire. With those things, can tell just how fit you are, just how hung you are ...hell, they can practically tell what your religion is. Certainly, there's no possibility of hiding a pack of sugar, let alone contraband or explosives.

But, it's not about that, really, is it? It's about showing the little people who's in power and that they're helpless to do anything about it.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Wasn't Me

I've said it before and I know I'll say it again, "I love StumbleUpon." On a semi-regular basis, they bring you real gems of "news of the weird". In this case, it was the story of a man busted for burglary who, upon vigorous search, was found to have had a mouse in his rectum.

No, I have no freaking clue why he'd have had a mouse in his rectum. Perhaps, the prior night, while stumbling through the dark from his bed to his bathroom, he fell on the mouse and it just ended up in there.

Still, were it me, I'd have to at least try to claim my innocence in the burglary. Perhaps I'd state, "clearly, the mouse was acting as driver and I was just his vehicle." Kinda like Disney's Ratatouille, but up the butt rather than yanking tufts of hair?

Logical EV Buyers

I read C|Net News on a fairly frequent basis. The articles are, generally, fairly concise and "accurate" by current web standards for publishing. They also seem to cover a wide variety of topics of technical interest - green-tech, online privacy, social media, etc.

Yesterday, a news article about GE's intentions to go heavily towards green-tech in their vehicle fleets was featured. The article's headline indicates that it's a move towards electric vehicles, but seems to focus more on hybrids like the Chevy Volt. That said, if EV and other "chicken-or-egg" green-tech propositions are to become reality, efforts like GE's will be necessary.

What's surprised me, at this point, is that a company like ZipCar isn't trying to work with power companies, EV vehicle manufacturers and municipalities to push EV into their own fleets. I mean, ZipCar's primary users are city-dwellers. ZipCars are, when awaiting subscriber-use, parked in specific, reserved spots throughout the service city. Seems almost a perfect context to deploy EVs and EV infrastructure.

Oh well: what do I know (I'm only a casual observer).

MILFs for Geeks

I remember seeing Kary Byron looking very pregnant in an episode of MythBusters, earlier this year. Today, while telecommuting, her new kid-oriented show came on. She's decidedly not pregnant, any more.
So, I guess, at this point, Kari Byron is officially a MILF?

(More) Seen On TV

So, the days that I telecommute, I generally have the TV on, in the background, as I tap away at my laptop. I usually flip on the Fox 5 Morning News when I come down for the day. Then at 10, when that show goes off the air and switches to the dreadful Wendy Williams show (who the fuck is she blowing to get a TV spot???), I change over to NBC for the last hour of their morning show. Unfortunately, that consists of the only slightly less odious "Hoda and Kathy-Lee" segment.

Today, they were doing the whole "iHoda" thing (basically, a "what's on Hoda's iPod" segment). This is the embarrassing segment where they play some song that she has on her iPod. Invariably, the song is dreadfully awful. Definitely not the kind of music I would admit to listening to, least of all would I play it as some kind of pick of the day. Whatever: no accounting for taste.

They also then had some performance group on. Appeared to be four black early-teens doing a song and dance routine. I think the whole thing was supposed to be them performing their music, but really wasn't paying that close of attention to it. The music was awful enough that it caused me to look up to see what the hell they were doing on the show. It was not impressive. They were outfitted in suitably "urban" attire and bouncing about to some horrid piece of music. They were clearly (read, "poorly") lip-syncing to some awful piece of Autotuned garbage. Not sure if I was supposed to be impressed by their "singing", the music, the dancing or their stage-costumes. If I was, then I guess I was missing whatever it was that was supposed to impress me.

Oh well...

Hallmarks of SPAM

There are any number of attributes of an email that can tell you, within about half a second, that the contents are SPAM. It can be the from address. It can be the to address. It can be the subject line. It can be the greeting.

Today, I got one of those emails that begins with the greeting, "Hello: my dear"". Amusingly, this greeting was accompanied by an opening sentence that was trying to entice me into a "business opportunity."

I mean, even were the email legit, how serious could you take such a "business" missive if they start by calling you "Dear"?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

*SO* Not Reassuring

Why is it that every time a manager tells me "all your jobs are safe" I think "time to start looking for a new gig"? Even if a manager is trying to allay anxieties that are stemming from something that is well and truly innocuous, it just tingles your spidey-senses all the more. I mean, historically, such "assurances" invariably act as precursors to negative employment actions. Personally, if there's nothing to fear, said managers should just keep quiet. Offering such reassurances just makes the more career-experienced individuals start looking for new work in earnest.

Don't They Learn

w00t! Can't wait till the new anti-smoking picture/labels are on cigarette packs. They look like collectible card images!!

I mean, other countries have tried this tactic and it's pretty much a failure. The images that, while admittedly horrible, are almost worth collecting just from the sheer comedy value.

Faux Pas?

When I walk into the restroom at work and someones in the middle of a (really loud) ass-splosion, I find it hard not to laugh. Usually, what prevents the laughter is that, by the time I can no longer hold the giggles in, the smell hits. Then, I'm too busy trying not to audibly retch.

I Has My Doubts

Why is it that this piece of spam makes me doubt that "Katy Perry Wants You". I'm pretty sure she has no idea of my existence.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


WTF Xbox Live? Banned due to too much quitting? You keep disconnecting from me. Assholes.

Where's Your Tent

Nothing to remind you of childhood summertimes quite like playing Halo: Reach online. Every so often, you get games filled with freaking campers (somedays, I swear it feels like I'm at a damned Boy Scouts jamboree). Awesome.

XBox Math

Today, on Reach, one of the daily achievement bonuses was based on getting 100 kills in online multiplayer matchmaking. No big deal. Even at my low kill-rate in that game mode (about 1.2 kills/minute), it's an easily achievable goal.

Well, I thought it was easy until I noticed that my achievement counts weren't incrementing at the same rate as my in-game kill rates. Basically, it was incrementing at a "kills-2" rate. So, if I scored 18 kills in a game, I only got credited 16 kills towards my daily achievement bonus.

WTF is up with that??

Not a Two Way Street

It's always kind of bothered me that various businesses and professionals felt it was ok to charge "missed appointment", "flight change" and other types of fees for things I did or failed to do yet, they could do the exact same thing and I was due nothing in return.

Today, I received a semi-intelligible automated phone call from the US Airways flight reservations/notification system. I'm going on a cruise in December and some of the flights I'd scheduled have had their numbers and times changed. Had I initiated such a change, it would have cost me $150. Yet, the airline can do whatever the hell it wants and I'm not due any flight-change refunds or the like.

Oh well. In the end, the changes weren't more than a few minutes on either end. It's just the principal.

In or Out

Ok, so, everyone knows that fast-food is bad for you. Everyone knows that fast-food has some questionable "food" properties (e.g., the various web pages dedicated to "how many years does it take for this McDonald's meal to decompose").

I think that, at this point, it's probably a safe bet that fast food is just as healthy for you coming in as it is going out. You can take that as either "your body's immediately better off as soon as it's pushed the fast food out" or as "what you're eating isn't much better than fecal matter."

Security Finetuning

Ok, I get the whole "least privileges" model. In fact, given the number of mouth-breathers I've had the "pleasure" to work with over the years, I'm a big fan of it. However, in order for it to work, you have to set it up right. If you're giving me ownership of one part of a larger system, then I should have full rights to that component. Disabling certain features I might need just doesn't make sense.

As a "ferinstance", why the fuck would the security settings on the iLO prevent "acquire" actions when a java crash will leave your session stuck open?? Nothing quite like trying to hop back on your server's "console" only to be told that it's still in use, elsewhere.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Merging of Ideas

If I could make one improvement to the Halo franchise, it would be to import the chainsaw-gun from Gears of War. I loves me some Halo, but, dayum: that chainsaw gun from Gears of War was wicked-violent.

Just Go Ahead and Groan, Now...

I wonder what they call it if you're not on time to a special education class?

Megamind (Short Review)

Ok, so, I've gotten used to setting a lower bar for Dreamworks animated features than I do for Pixar animated features. I mean, Pixar tends to be story/characters first and animation second (yet still manage to be top-notch on the animation) and Dreamworks tends to be story/characters as a reason for featuring animation. Dreamworks is also known for every movie featuring the Dreamworks animation smirk.

So, perhaps I went into Megamind with the bar set lower than I might for another CG-animation feature. That said, it was a surprisingly decent flick. Some really good animation (and some really subtle effects, too) and I don't really recall seeing "the smirk". The story was decent and you could reasonably empathize with the characters. Lots of decent slapstick and a decent amount of "for the grownups" jokes and sight-gags. And, in a break from recent movies, Will Farrel was acting as a character rather than as the caricature of himself he usually plays.

Oh... And it was yet another movie that does absolutely nothing to dispel the "creepy gingers" stigma.

Decent Sports Weekend

While they didn't win both of their weekend games, the Flyers managed to take three out of four possible points (one win and one overtime-loss)

The Eagles won their game.

The PSU Nittany Lions managed to bring home JoePa's 400th win.

Comm Errs at the 7Eleven

Most mornings, I need breakfast to get my day going. Overall, I try to get my breakfast at home, as what I can put together there tends to be better for me. However, some mornings, there's either not the time to put something together or there's not ingredients. On those mornings, if I'm actually working at my cubicle, I will either stop in at the 7Eleven near my office or one of the McD's on my commute-route.

Today, was a 7Eleven day. Most days, when I avail myself of 7Eleven for "food", I either go for the Jamaican spicy beef patties or one of the small hotdogs. That morning, there were no small hotdogs - only the large and jumbo dogs and corn dogs. So, I opted for one of the beef patties.

I paid for my stuff, got in my car and headed onward to my office. Upon getting my laptop set up, I commenced to opening my 7Eleven "bonanza". Much to my chagrin, my spicy beef pattie was, instead, one of the unwanted ginormous hotdogs. Oh well. At least I was only charged for the patty rather than the uber-dog. Still: : how does "spicy beef patty" get translated as "gargantuan hotdog", 7Eleven?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Does It Fly?

The best kind of poo is flingable-poo

Daylight Savings Time

It's too early to be this dark. Fuck you, time change.

Poor Advertising

The only message I can take from the new Mobile 7 commercials is that the phones suck too much to get engrossed in using them.

Act of Holiday Charity

I think for Christmas, I'll give all the street-people bluetooth headsets so that at least it will LOOK like they're talking to someone.


It strikes me that, since I've stopped traveling, I've pretty much stopped reading books.

Prolly Not A Coincidence

Just discovered that the color of blue that Penn State designates as the official "Penn State Blue" is the same as the official shade of blue used in US flags: Pantone 282

Weekend Go "Poof!"

Awesome is: trying to do some work over the weekend only to find that the server you need has failed.

Choices: I Has Them

I don't know which is worse: that the cats broke a $25 wine glass or that someone left it where it could be broken by curious cats.

Social Recursion Error

It seems like the less I go out, the less I want to go out. Given protracted breaks in socializing, when I do make the effort to be social, so many things elicit the "yeah, that's why I stopped going out" feeling.