Wednesday, July 27, 2005

 

Apologies

I'm spending a lot of time working on my current project and a side diversion, so unfortunately the blog is suffering a bit. However, I've scheduled a vacation that'll recharge my batteries, so I anticipate a bit more posting in the next few weeks.

Today's unbelievable item of the day for every executive who was downtown on 9/11 and still believes in outsourcing - Indian Police Arrest Insurance Execs For Motivating Employees With Osama Bin Laden Posters.

Un-fucking real....

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

 

RIP Jimmy Doohan


No "beam me up" jokes here. I had the privilege of meeting Jimmy on a couple of occasions and he was always gracious and the total gentleman. He did indeed live long and prosper.


RIP.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

 

Overrated Music

A post on great rock covers on Blogcritics led me to a blog with a few observations on the most overrated rock songs of all time. Needless to say, I couldn't resist the opportunity to exercise a meme (I know, cheap post not requiring thinking, but then again, I'm busy, so I really don't have a lot of time to craft one of my trenchant missives). Without further adieu - my list:

"Imagine" - treacly stuff from one of Lennon's more hypocritical periods. An instant dial-changer for me if it pops up on the car radio. It's used all too often as an anthem by the naive and for kinderspiel school shows and the like. No one dislikes the notion of whirled peas, but any semi-sentient individual knows that playing "Imagine" in some of the terror-sponsoring areas will likely get your head chopped off.

"Proud Mary" by Tina Turner - Everyone knows that Tina's one of the two best female R&B singers on the planet (Aretha being the other) and that "River Deep Mountain High" should be enshrined in the top three of R&B records (the other two being Aretha's "Respect" and Otis' "Try A Little Tenderness"). But frankly, this version has never done anything for me - it's a stage production number and if anything subtracts from the song with the annoying arrangement. It's been said that the reason John Fogerty started doing Creedence songs again was to counter the perception that everyone thought "Proud Mary" was a Tina original...

"American Pie" - Tripe, pure and simple. Cutesy lyrics with sophmoric allusions, and McLean's prejudices on the evolution of rock come through loud and clear. If you want to remember Buddy Holly, may I suggest playing a Buddy Holly song (my personal favorite Buddy Holly covers other than the obvious one if you've been reading this blog for any length of time are Marshall Crenshaw's version of "Crying, Waiting, Hoping" and a live cover John Fogerty did of "Rave On").

Pink Floyd - Practically everything by Dave, Roger, Nick, Rick and Syd. "Piper At The Gates Of Dawn" was unlistenable, "Dark Side Of The Moon", "Animals" and "The Wall" are giant soporifics (the only thing that keeps me awake during "Dark Side" is the damned alarm clock going off). The only Pink Floyd piece I really like is "Wish You Were Here".

More later....

Monday, July 18, 2005

 

In The Throwing Out The Baby With The Bathwater Department

Cross-posted to Blogcritics.

Sunday's New York Times (registration required) had a very interesting article about spyware-infected PCs being thrown out instead of being repaired. The introduction to the article provides much fodder for comment

On a recent Sunday morning when Lew Tucker's Dell desktop computer was overrun by spyware and adware - stealth software that delivers intrusive advertising messages and even gathers data from the user's machine - he did not simply get rid of the offending programs. He threw out the whole computer.


Mr. Tucker, an Internet industry executive who holds a Ph.D. in computer science, decided that rather than take the time to remove the offending software, he would spend $400 on a new machine. He is not alone in his surrender in the face of growing legions of digital pests, not only adware and spyware but computer viruses and other Internet-borne infections as well. Many PC owners are simply replacing embattled machines rather than fixing them.


"I was spending time every week trying to keep the machine free of viruses and worms," said Mr. Tucker, a vice president of Salesforce.com, a Web services firm based here. "I was losing the battle. It was cheaper and faster to go to the store and buy a low-end PC."


My initial reaction was sheer amazement that the holder of a Ph.D. in computer science would not invest any effort in trying to salvage or repair the machine. Admittedly the spyware wars are getting much nastier, where the active countermeasures against removal have been accepted and implemented by the more "mainstream" malware providers (e.g. Direct Revenue's Aurora, a nasty piece of work that is the constant topic of discussion on spyware removal forums), however, isn't it odd that someone who should be providing thought leadership toward academic and commercial computing wouldn't wish to even take the simple expedient of formatting his hard drive and reinstalling his operating system? Surely as an Internet executive he has access to some resource in his company capable of performing that relatively simple task, or his academic connections could certainly find him an intern or student willing to wipe and restore the machine. The idea of throwing a perfectly good computer out merely because of a spyware infestation is so astonishingly wasteful (perhaps some student or deserving organization could use it?) that it boggles the mind.

Although many organizations (especially in financial services) will swap out a PC at the first sign of this kind of trouble, the infected PC will quickly be wiped and reimaged and put back into service as soon as it's needed by another user. It's somewhat instructive that a computer science Ph.D. could not think of taking the simple precaution of having something like Norton Ghost at the ready to reinstall his operating system in the event of a massive meltdown, nor is there any mention of his data protection strategy. There are many, many good and dedicated volunteers on various anti-spyware forums that give many hours of their time to eradicating these pests from strangers' computers, and yet I find it interesting that someone such as the gentleman mentioned in the article would not even expend the effort to keep his own system free of malware much less even try to seek out a solution to his issues and share that experience such that hopefully another person will not be as impacted as he was.

Then again, consider the environmental impact. Lord knows I'm not a tree-hugger, but I really am appalled that someone would simply throw out a computer, fill up landfills, and not consider his actions - it's obvious that more people are taking this course of action, and it says something rather sad about our society's need for immediate gratification and not taking the long-term view.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

 

Sometimes a bit of bile is necessary....

Sometimes the insensitivity of the Left, who make a point of wearing their "sensitivity" on their sleeves is appalling. Witness two of today's Letters to the Editor in the Sulzberger Entity, on the subject of the "International Freedom Center" and the "Drawing Center" at Ground Zero. Amazingly enough the Times published the majority of letters saying simply and eloquently to the "healing and therapy" types to take their "centers" someplace else (it ran 78% to 22% in favor of STFU). However, two letters bear special "approbation".....

With deepest respect for those who lost family members and friends on 9/11 and for their grief: respect is always reciprocal. This means that in no case should one set of families, one group or one community defer to another under such grievous conditions of loss.


All of us need to arrive at reciprocity of understanding of our deepest feelings, which we share in remembering and memorializing this event.


The ground zero discussion must be taken out of the political realm. This does not mean that we defer or submerge our memories. It means that we must recognize that we are all bound together through our responses to the tragedy, however diverse those responses are. It is especially important for a memorial of this kind to find a center of harmony for all individuals and all groups.


Communally, therefore, other cultural representations must be allowed to be present on the memorial site.


Vivian Darroch-Lozowski

Toronto, July 13, 2005



Miz Darroch-Lozowski is very good indeed at spouting every cliche in the liberal playbook, so let's dissect her screed a tiny bit. First of all, just to (re)establish my credentials, I was there that day - I saw the first plane hit, and I ran for my life. While Miz Darroch-Lozowski was probably sipping her coffee and listening to the traffic report about the Don Valley (or is it Don Pardo) Parkway, I was praying harder than I ever did, praying that if it was my time, that I at least get to see my kids once more before G-d took me.

Reciprocity of feelings? Lady, you have no standing in the matter. I barely consider myself to have standing in the matter, and I was there. My only mission in this is to be a witness for those who cannot speak, and to stand with their families. Do you want reciprocity with those who would call you a Crusader or a Zionist infidel pig and who would slit your throat? Or is it your secret hope that if they do become overlords they'll put you at the back of the line for decapitation because of your imagined service to them in getting their obfuscating lies across?

Other cultural representations? Every farking culture in the world was in that staircase evacuating the World Financial Center with me. Every race, creed and color. And all of us had only one thing on our minds, whether or not it was the end. Let me tell you something Viv, we only cared about one thing - getting the hell out of there. The only prejudices expressed that day were the ones we instinctively knew - the Islamofascists had decided to throw la mierda at el ventilador, and we were in the middle of it.

My deepest sympathy goes out to all the families who lost a loved one on 9/11. These families have endured much. Their opinions about the redevelopment of the World Trade Center site should be recognized, but not at the cost of one of the most integral parts of the site.


The Drawing Center is supposed to be a place of artistic freedom, where artists are able to express themselves in their creations. Trying to censor this institution by calling for reassurances that its programs "will harmonize with the concerns" of a group of 9/11 family members is a blunder of great proportions.


Patrick Devery

Bronx, July 12, 2005



Artistic freedom? What the hell does that have to do with a mass murder? Patrick would probably like a Drawing Center at Treblinka and Majdanek, too - surely artists would like to "express themselves" at the site of millions of murders, after all, the Trade Center was penny-ante stuff if you look at the relative scale of things.

Back in April or May, I happened to be downtown, and I walked over to the pit. A few passers-by came and clucked over it, and I just stood there. I found myself silently saying Kaddish for those souls who were silent, who should've been rushing past me trying to get to meetings, or to grab a bite. I wished I had been able to do more than that for them, and I knew that had things gone differently that day, perhaps I would've been one of the silent ones. Drawing Centers and the like won't do a damned thing to assuage those of us who remember.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

 

CNN: Blair 'Shocked' That London Bomb Suspects Are British

Somehow this comes to mind:
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Tuesday, July 12, 2005

 

Tout insignifiant avec une touche de travail

Still much heaviness at work with the preliminary design for the SOA architecture we're going to bolt on to our existing service offering. Good part is that there's considerable impetus to do it right with realistic time and budget constraints, so no complaints other than I really have to get up to speed quickly with some things that have been a bit outside my bailiwick (for instance, setting up the document router do I use a SAX parser to extract enough info to route the document, or should I just use one of the lower level APIs to read just enough of the doc. Gut check is to use the SAX parser and throw some very fast hardware at it, anything else is going to be too convoluted - I want this thing to be ultimately maintainable.).

The Montrose album was a great listen - some very fine chops indeed by Ronnie Montrose (although I could've sworn he was a Les Paul type back then there are some decidedly Strat-ish sounds on this record). Sammy Hagar is just about right for this record, the bombast is kept in check. Production is typical Ted Templeman - pretty ghastly early 70s, so don't expect a lot from the sonices. "Space Station #5" is my current favorite.

The Redwalls album is also a good listen, a bit more consistent than the Blue Van (there are plenty of decidedly Beatlesque moments on both CDs, one song reminding me of "Lies" by the Knickerbockers). A bit gratuitous on the language, a Tipper Gore warning was found on the label. Having grown up in Brooklyn, language of the sort doesn't faze me. See episode one of the Sopranos - "What, no fuckin' ziti?" for an illustration...

A Borders coupon for 25% off DVDs led me to purchase a recent Lynyrd Skynyrd concert DVD over the weekend. There's method to the madness, as we're adding "Tuesday's Gone" and "Free Bird" to the band's setlist (I can hear the chortles now, but come on, this stuff is harder to play than you think!) Great show, although it's needless marred by having a string section on stage. It isn't chamber music, folks - you need string sounds, get another keyboard player. Biggest excitement of the show was Gary Rossington breaking off his Bigsby's arm from his Explorer while going nuts at the end of "Free Bird" - I hope that was only one of the new Gibson signature models.

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