Browse Month: May 2007

05/26/2007

From The Onion:

LOS ANGELES– The Recording Industry Association of America announced Tuesday that it will be taking legal action against anyone discovered telling friends, acquaintances, or associates about new songs, artists, or albums. “We are merely exercising our right to defend our intellectual properties from unauthorized peer-to-peer notification of the existence of copyrighted material,” a press release signed by RIAA anti-piracy director Brad Buckles read. “We will aggressively prosecute those individuals who attempt to pirate our property by generating ‘buzz’ about any proprietary music, movies, or software, or enjoy same in the company of anyone other than themselves.” RIAA attorneys said they were also looking into the legality of word-of-mouth “favorites-sharing” sites, such as coffee shops, universities, and living rooms.

05/26/2007

Laralee was weeding the yard, and she found this amazing little rock amongst the river rocks we use as landscaping around the house.

It’s about an inch across, and almost perfectly round! And it’s definitely a natural rock, not a weird lump of concrete or a marble or something. I guess conditions were just right on the river where it spent a million years getting beat up.

05/22/2007

Let me see if I understand the Iraq war funding situation correctly.

January
Bush: I need a nice big check for… umm… a hundred billion dollars.
Congress: Ha, good one, George!

February
Bush: If you don’t give me a nice big check, it means you don’t support the troops.
Congress: Okay, we’ll give you the $100 bil, but you have to pull the troops out in a year.
Congress: By the way, we’ll also toss in $20 billion more in pork projects. Whee!

March
Bush: (insert tired arguments about “staying the course” and “supporting the troops”)
Congress: (insert tired arguments about how Iraq blows and we need to leave)

April
Bush: This thing about pulling the troops out kind of sucks. I’m going to veto the bill.
Congress: Ha, just try it. That clause stays in or you don’t get the money.

May
Bush: Veto, baby.
Congress: We were just kidding. Here’s your money. Is there anything else we can do for you, Mr. President?

Sigh. In January the Democrats took charge of Congress and said they were going to make some real changes. They sure talk tough, but I think they left their spines at the door. Once again we sit and watch as Bush gets a bucketload of money, very few restrictions on how to spend it, and all the latitude he wants to conduct his futile little war.

05/22/2007

I wonder sometimes just how far the feeling of entitlement will go in our misguided society. It seems these days that everyone thinks they’re entitled to something. Today I read a news blurb about a high school senior whose mother, Lydia Pratt, is up in arms because her daughter isn’t going to be allowed to join the graduation ceremony. Never mind the fact that this girl can’t pass the Georgia High School Graduation Test which is– not surprisingly– a requirement in order to actually graduate.

Pratt, parents and students voiced to the school board during Monday’s meeting their disagreement with the system’s policy of not letting seniors participate in commencement exercises if they have not passed all portions of the graduation test…

It would be interesting, I’m sure, to hear that argument. What precisely is the problem here? How is this unfair?

Luckily sanity prevailed:

School officials defended their policy, saying making exceptions would diminish the system’s high academic standards.

The worst part of this whole thing is that by behaving in this crybaby way, Lydia is teaching her daughter that failure is okay because you can always whine about it and hope someone has pity. Thankfully in this case the school board did not.

05/19/2007

I have no idea what this is all about.

05/19/2007

Zack, like all kids his age, has a recurring problem obeying us when we ask him to do something. Tired of having to tell him over and over, Laralee came up with a novel solution: if she asks once and Zack doesn’t jump to it, he gets to do a chore.

In particular, he gets to scrub baseboards around the house.

It sure isn’t a fun job cleaning things with a toothbrush. After a few weeks of this, he’s much better about listening to us. And our baseboards are all nice and clean.

05/13/2007

A couple of weeks ago, as a joke, I suggested to a bunch of friends that we get together and play dodgeball. I hadn’t played since college (junior year, as I recall) and thought it would be a hoot to get a group together and relive those glory days.

So we got about a dozen people, eight or so Nerf soccer balls, and played. It turned out to be a heck of a lot of fun– more than any of us expected, I think. I imagine everyone was like me: it would be a funny evening and we’d goof off for an hour. But in the end everyone was saying how much fun it had been, and when were we going to do it again, yada yada.

I organized a second game… then a third. More people were showing up, including wives and even a couple of the guys’ kids. It’s turning into quite the event. We’re playing again this week, and expect to have a few more new players.

The moral of the story, I guess, is that sometimes it’s just plain fun to relive your childhood.

05/12/2007

An 18-year-old kid stole a big white SUV in Corpus Christi, Texas, and led police on a long chase. Apparently at times he was cruising above 80mph on the interstate, finally taking them into San Antonio. There, he met his fate.

Mwah ha HAAA! He hit the guardrail on an interstate on-ramp, apparently skidded along the top of it “skateboard-style”, and ended up crushed between the ramp and a neighboring interstate. (He’s the guy sitting pinned in the truck looking pretty unhappy while firefighters figure out how to get him out of there.)

Son, I think karma is speaking loud and clear.

05/11/2007

So digital rights management, or DRM, has been getting a bad rap lately… mainly because it’s a terrible way to enforce copyright laws. But the chief technology officer over at HBO, Bob Zitter, has a fabulous idea that will surely conquer the fear and distrust that DRM has gained. He wants to rename DRM, and instead call it

(drumroll)

Digital Consumer Enablement

(moment of stunned silence)

I guess to him, “DRE” sounds better than “DRM” for some reason. Never mind that it’s exactly the same thing– it’s just supposed to sound friendlier to consumers.

Actually, is “enablement” even a word?

Things like this not only make me laugh, but only prove yet again that the industry and the technology firms it employs are unspeakably clueless.

05/11/2007

I just got a new 22″ widescreen LCD monitor, and I see that on the box there’s a nice big fat “Certified for Windows Vista” sticker.

What the heck is this? The monitor will work with Windows Vista? Do we have to certify every bloody piece of standard computer hardware? Should I look for a keyboard that’s certified before I make a major purchasing decision? Sheesh.

Of course I don’t use Vista, so now I’m left wondering if it’ll work with my Linux system… uh oh.

05/05/2007

Holy cow, the spam is all but gone!

For years I’ve been dealing with e-mail spam. I’ve reconfigured my mail servers, installed software and filters, and come up with increasingly clever rulesets and parsing scripts to block the deluge. In general I’ve been pretty successful, but on an average day I probably receive well over a hundred legitimate e-mail messages, and since I do so much work and commerce online, my address is on untold numbers of spam lists, so if I didn’t do anything at all I suspect I’d have several thousand spam messages a day.

After several abortive attempts, I wrote a software program to perform something called “greylisting”, and tested it for a couple of days to make sure it works. (I did this because installing it on my mail server affects a couple hundred customers and several thousand e-mail accounts I’m running.) I finally took the plunge today and installed it, and I think I received a single spam message all day. Woo hoo!

Of course it’s Saturday, and e-mail traffic seems to be a bit lower on the weekend, but I’m hopeful that next week I’ll finally be able to hop online in the morning and not delete a hundred messages before work.

05/03/2007

09 f9 11 02 9d 74 e3 5b d8 41 56 c5 63 56 88 c0

That’s the now-famous number that can be used to break AACS encryption and decrypt HD-DVDs. The MPAA has been issuing DCMA threats to web sites publishing the number, and as of this week there’s a full-scale revolt across the internet as hundreds of thousands of people post the number on their sites.

Of course it’s ludicrous that the MPAA can claim any kind of ownership or restrictions on what is essentially a very large integer. But they’re doing their best, and looking like complete fools in the process.

As Cory Doctorow said:

The companies that made AACS spent millions and years at it. The hackers who broke it did so in days, for laughs, for free. More people now know how to crack HD-DVD than own an HD-DVD player.

The number is everywhere now, including t-shirts, coffee mugs, posters, and even song lyrics. Heck, it even seems to be appearing in fortune cookies!

05/03/2007

“America believes in education: the average professor earns more money in a year than a professional athlete earns in a whole week.”

— Evan Esar