Monday, February 28, 2005

 

Malefactor, n.: The chief factor in the progress of the human race

Somewhat short shrift today, as it's going to be a short week for me. There'll be some downtime on the blog from Wednesday probably until Saturday as I'm having a minor medical procedure done and I'll probably be feeling mighty low for a couple of days. Nothing spectacular, they're using a local.

Big non-work task today is researching Bluetooth compatibility and hubs as my current headset and mouse cords are too short and getting in the way here on the High Altar. The big concern is obviously for Skype, but since I also have dictation software on this box (not that I use it that often, I find it much easier to type in a stream of consciousness manner, as this blog so well illustrates, then edit myself down. If I really used it for a deliverable, I'm sure the captured text would come out reading like an unfunny Jonathan Winters routine)

I realized that I left off Nokie Edwards from my list of favorite guitarists yesterday. Herewith rectified. There's a PAL DVD out there of Nokie playing with his own band (not with the Ventures) that I might pick up and convert over to NTSC. The Ventures also have a show on DVD with Nokie (the other two DVDs are with Gerry McGee) which I will get around to picking up one of these days.

Several months back I happened to comment on Stanley Steingut, late Speaker of the NY State Assembly and all-around political hack, and to my delight there was an article in this AM's Sulzberger entity (albeit focused on the issue of capital punishment in NY) which gives an interesting synopsis of Steingut's downfall, to wit -

Other issues also helped to cost Mr. Steingut his seat, particularly the view among many voters that he had lost touch with his district. But rising violent crime, a number of sensational murders and Gov. Hugh L. Carey's veto of legislation that spring to restore capital punishment all resonated loudly in the primary and general election campaigns for state offices that year. Mr. Steingut allowed the death penalty bill to get to the floor of the Assembly, but voted against it.


Mr. Steingut, who was first elected to the Assembly in 1952, the year Ms. Weinstein was born, was singled out on two levels in 1978. Theodore Silverman, a local city councilman, wanted his wife to be Mr. Steingut's co-district leader but was rebuffed and vowed revenge. Andrew Stein, then the Manhattan borough president, was dismayed that Mr. Steingut had not been legally implicated by his association with figures in a nursing home scandal, so, he explained at the time, "subjectively and politically I made up my mind to destroy him."

Ms. Weinstein was the chosen vehicle to defeat the speaker, but her residency was challenged, a maneuver that inadvertently heightened resentment against Mr. Steingut, who, with his father, had represented the district for more than a half century. She was forced off the ballot, and her father, Murray, a 50-year-old lawyer, replaced her. Less than two weeks later, he upset Mr. Steingut in the Democratic primary. Mr. Weinstein reluctantly relinquished the seat to his daughter two years later.


"She was entitled to it," he recalled. "She really ran for it."


Sunday, February 27, 2005

 

Yet Another Meme

Here are my hundred favorite guitarists, in somewhat of an order. OK, OK, it's the way they came off the top of my head....

  1. Eric Clapton
  2. Jimi Hendrix
  3. Jimmy Page
  4. Carlos Santana
  5. George Harrison
  6. Keith Richards
  7. Pete Townshend
  8. Phil Keaggy
  9. Duane Allman
  10. Dickie Betts
  11. Slash
  12. Roy Buchanan
  13. Brian May
  14. Steve Cropper
  15. B.B. King
  16. Albert King
  17. Freddie King
  18. Peter Green
  19. Rick Derringer
  20. Mike Bloomfield
  21. Chuck Berry
  22. Jim Filgate
  23. Andy Powell
  24. Mark Hitt
  25. Lenny Molinari
  26. Randy Jackson
  27. Joe Perry
  28. Steve Howe
  29. Steve Cropper
  30. John Lennon
  31. Pete Ham
  32. James Burton
  33. Brian Setzer
  34. John Fogerty
  35. Ritchie Blackmore
  36. Randy Bachman
  37. Danny Kalb
  38. Mark Knopfler
  39. "Skunk" Baxter
  40. Gary Moore
  41. Jorma Kaukonen
  42. Glen Campbell
  43. Joe Walsh
  44. Martin Barre
  45. Neal Schon
  46. Leslie West
  47. Peter Frampton
  48. Roye Albrighton
  49. John Cipollina
  50. Don Wilson
  51. Gerry McGee
  52. Bob Bogle
  53. Stevie Ray Vaughn
  54. Elliot Randall
  55. Denny Dias
  56. Alvin Lee
  57. Roger McGuinn
  58. Carl Wilson
  59. Robbie Krieger
  60. Dave Davies
  61. The Edge
  62. Jeff Beck
  63. Pat Travers
  64. Chet Atkins
  65. Wes Montgomery
  66. Roy Clark
  67. Mick Taylor
  68. J. Geils
  69. Robert Randolph
  70. Jan Akkermann
  71. Warren Haynes
  72. Kerry Livgren
  73. Wayne Kramer
  74. Justin Hayward
  75. Neil Young
  76. Ron Wood
  77. Tommy Tedesco
  78. Charlie Byrd
  79. Roger Filgate
  80. Robert Fripp
  81. Paul Gilbert
  82. Dick Dale
  83. Frank Marino
  84. Tony Iommi
  85. Randy Rhoads
  86. Eddie Van Halen
  87. Michael Schenker
  88. Robert Cray
  89. Johnny Winter
  90. Mark Farner
  91. Tom Scholz
  92. Harvey Mandel
  93. Scotty Moore
  94. Danny Gatton
  95. Earl Klugh
  96. Steve Vai
  97. Robben Ford
  98. Angus Young
  99. David Gilmour
  100. John Petrucci

Saturday, February 26, 2005

 

Faith, Hope and Charity

An interesting post at Amendment XIX via Kim DuToit on the coercion of employees to contribute to the United Way. Yep, every year I get the same donation "request" in my inbox, with the dreaded "Action Required" prefix. I vacillate between immediately returning it or waiting until the slob entasked with ensuring 100% participation starts pinging me incessantly (it's usually some administrative type who has no clue about what it's like to be a consultant servicing clients). It never fails though, as when I get to the intranet site and select the "I do not wish to contribute" button, there's always the "are you sure?" reminder repeated several times (implication being you're the world's greatest cheapskate if you don't fork over at least some of your hard-earned salary) before it lets you finish the deed. Of course, the system automatically generates a "thank you for your generosity" e-mail with a zero contribution (I really should save one of those for laughs).

One year when there were Betriebsaktionen, we felt especially pressured to contribute. I decided to give a lump sum (a princely two figures) instead of payroll deductions (no freaking way, I've got kids to support!). You were still made to feel like a cheapskate for not signing up for the payroll deductions, but you got some form of commendation (which mattered not a whit in the annual evaluations that year). I well remember looking at the list of charities that you could direct your contribution toward, although it was strongly suggested that you allow United Way to use your money as it saw fit. There wasn't a single charity that I felt totally comfortable donating money to, as all of them had either LLL agendas or the anecdotal on them was that they were ineffective or worse. I finally selected the least obnoxious out of the lot, and was done with it. A dear friend and co-worker refused to contribute that year. He's a religious Catholic, and didn't want a dime to go to any charity that endorsed or facilitated abortions in any manner. I admired him for standing up for his principles. Despite being one of the highest performers we've ever had, not to mention having subject matter expertise in a particularly difficult and lucrative type of engagement, he was caught up in the resource action, a coincidence that wasn't lost on any of us.

There's only one charity I contribute to at work, and it has nothing to do with anything other than the person putting the bite on me is a long-time team member and friend, and that said charity is for a disease that has touched some people I know, so out of respect for my friend, I cough up a few bucks once a year (coincidentally, she happened to ping me this week for my annual contribution). The rest of my favorite charities I contribute quietly to here and there, usually around Rosh Hashannah.

A while back I commented on how my old elementary school had been at least partially schnookered by one of those "adopt a kid and get two letters a year" deals, so my cynicism goes into high gear whenever the word charity is mentioned. Especially when you're flooded with useless trinkets that try to guilt you into a contribution, and especially when you relent and give money to some charity that may seem worthy and you suddenly find yourself on a mailing list (or worse, phone list) of soft touches. The Do Not Call list has been stunningly ineffective in turning off charitable solicitations, and the dinner hour interruptions are on the rise again.

Friday, February 25, 2005

 

Sophistry, n. The controversial method of an opponent, distinguished from one's own by superior insincerity and fooling

Here's actually an interesting meme, listing authors whom I've read ten or more books by.

  1. Isaac Asimov
  2. Arthur C. Clarke
  3. Frank Herbert
  4. Harry Turtledove
  5. Jerry Pournelle
  6. Tom Clancy
  7. Robert Heinlein
  8. Dr. Seuss

Funny I can't think of more off the top of my head. I have a huge library and appetite for reading, but about the most I can come up with for any given author other than those listed is about six or seven books, usually averaging four to six per author. William Gibson, Stephen King, Larry Bond, Larry Niven, Alastair Reynolds, J.R.R. Tolkein and Brian Herbert all fall into this bucket; I was semi-tempted to include Brian Herbert's books under his father's entry above, but a quick check of the library showed that I had forgotten about non-Dune books like "Farnham's Freehold" and "Dosadi Experiment", which brought me up over ten books for Frank alone. I've got seven Frederick Forsyth books under my belt, about the same for Robert Silverberg. Sad to say I've only got one complete Neal Stephenson read, that being the phenomenal "Cryptonomicon", and I'm only about 100 pages into "Quicksilver". I rather like Stephenson's style, but I just have to find some quiet time late for a few evenings to knock the book off. Based on what I've read I can't wait for the next two books in the trilogy.

And now, for something completely different, I'll repost an observation I put up on Blogcritics yesterday:

A news item on CNET yesterday brings us the intriguing news that Claria Corporation has been named by the Department of Homeland Security to a federal privacy advisory board. The board's membership includes representatives from firms such as IBM, Intel and Oracle, however, Claria's inclusion is either puzzling or very telling. You see, Claria used to be known as Gator, and is known for its adware, which as I defined in a previous post is software that delivers random ads to your desktop system occasionally targeted on the basis of what you're looking for or at. Adware of course is rarely intentionally installed, usually it's bundled with some other software which provides some functionality the end user desires (e.g. P2P clients) and it's often installed by other adware or malware that makes its way onto unprotected computers. The average end-user would probably classify Claria's products as spyware, which of course gets into the semantic issues I talked about here, and I would suppose a case could be made that it indeed is intrusive on privacy to the point where if you search for "Ford" and an ad for GM pops up, then the classification may be somewhat applicable (although if it's not sending information to a remote system for collection it's not in the strictest sense spyware). Claria's products have been documented as being targeted and designed to appear at competing sites, which has resulted in litigation in the past.


The interesting question is what value does an outfit like Claria bring to the table in this context? Is it data mining expertise? If so, does that indeed take them from the adware to the spyware classification. Is it expertise in stealthily installing persistent code? Is it deep knowledge of system internals that our friends in Redmond don't care to share?

In other news, Michael Jackson was named a senior adviser to Child Protective Services, O.J. Simpson, Robert Blake and Phil Spector have been named as spokespersons against abused women, and <insert Ted Kennedy / Chappaquiddick joke here>.....

I must admit that it feels slightly weird to put my own words into blockquotes....

Finally, let's recognize the 62nd birthday of an absent friend, none other than Hari Georgeson.


Thursday, February 24, 2005

 

Moral, adj. Conforming to a local and mutable standard of right

I decided to post about the latest round of initimidation by adware vendors up on Blogcritics yesterday after reading some of the goodies on the various security forums. This extract from iDownload's EULA has me alternating between cold chills and uncontrollable laughter:

...redirect certain URLs including your browser default 404-error page to or through the Software; provide advertisements, links or information in response to search terms you use at third-party websites; provide search functionality or capabilities; automatically update the Software and install added features or functionality or additional software, including search clients and toolbars, conveniently without your input or interaction; install desktop icons and installation files; install software from iSearch affiliates; and install Third Party Software.

In addition, you further understand and agree, by installing the Software, that iSearch and/or the Software may, without any further prior notice to you, remove, disable or render inoperative other adware programs resident on your computer, which, in turn, may disable or render inoperative, other software resident on your computer, including software bundled with such adware, or have other adverse impacts on your computer.”

I love this piece of FUD from iDownload's link to its uninstaller:

Please be aware that many so called "ad ware removers" and "spy ware removers" can cause damage to your computer and may alter your computer in such a way that our automated removal application will not function. At the present time, there is no third party software which is capable of removing iSearch applications. If you have purchased an application which claims to remove iSearch, we encourage you to contact your credit card company and request an immediate reversal with the reason of "Product Not As Described" and/or contact the Better Business Bureau.


Apparently MSFT AntiSpyware couldn't get clean it (at least in the case of this test on the software). Not an encouraging sign, but I recall seeing somewhere yesterday that at least one of the well-known tools will indeed banish this thing.

And of course where's your recourse if something goes wrong? The domain registration is most interesting:

Contact Type Registrant
Organization Name: iDownload.com
First Name: Domain
Last Name: Manager
Address 1: 1180 Avenue of the Americas
Address 2: 14th Floor
City: New York
StateProvince: NY
PostalCode: 10036
Country: US
Phone: 8008445919
Fax: +1.-
EmailAddress: webmaster@idownload.com

Hmmph. The admin, billing and technical contacts are all the same info. Notice no fax number, and what do you want to bet the phone number isn't going to be the most helpful (no, I'm not going to call it).

In other news.....

I wonder if the school principal in Park Slope has torn that idiot social studies teacher a new one yet. The bloggers are all over it, the soldier's father has been on Hannity a couple of times, O'Reilly mentioned it, and the Post has latched onto it. Of course, consider that Park Slope is mostly yuppie overpriced territory with a touch of real toilet mixed in (my recollection of the Slope was that the bad side began roughly about 9th Street, and you really didn't want to go much further west than say 5th Avenue, but then again gentrification has really exploded around there, even going all the way down to areas like near the Smith-9th Street viaduct), so it's unsurprising that there's more than a touch of liberal guilt there, not to mention the proximity to the ROP enclave centered around Atlantic and Court. Apparently they can't even teach geography, since PFC Jacobs is stationed in South Korea near the DMZ, and Mr. Kunhardt's charges accused him of "destroying holy places like mosques", a type of institution presumably about as prevalent in South Korea as synagogues are.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

 

Court Fool, n. The Plaintiff

Spyware Warrior got the same cease and desist letter from iDownload.

I may just take this windmill tilting up to Blogcritics to get a wider audience for it......

 

The First Amendment, remember it? Also there's this little thing called the UCC....

Other than the draconian PC speech codes in higher education, one would have to look hard to find an intimidation tactic harsher than this certified letter from an adware "provider" to CastleCops (I'd use more colorful language to describe these individuals, but since apparently the right to express an opinion of something is forbidden according to iDownload and Savrick, Schumann, Johnson, McGarr, Kaminski & Shirley I'll merely refer to them as providers and purveyors).

For your edification:

Dear Sir or Madam:
This firm represents iDownload.com with respect to your inaccurate classification of iDownload's software product, iSearch toolbar, by referring to it as Spyware in its description. Specifically, a recent review of materials disseminated by your company, via the Internet,revealed that your company is falsely disparaging iDownload's product, iSearch, in that CastleCops f/k/a Computer Cops, L.L.C. classifies the product as Spyware and articulates that,


iSearch is certified spyware/foistware, or other malware.

Castle Cops f/k/a Computer Cops, L.L.C.'s characterization of iSearch as Spyware is damaging to the iDownload brand. As we all know, Spyware is a phrase within the public conscience that has a specific meaning. A classification of Spyware is usually reserved for thoseprograms that not only have the ability to scan an end- user's
computer, but also seek to remainunnoticed or hidden, and also seek to gather personal information such as passwords, account numbers, etc. of the end-user. iSearch does not fit this profile.

iSearch does not qualify as Spyware. iSearch is a toolbar that in no way attempts to remain hidden or evade detection. Continuing, unlike Spyware, iSearch does not gather any personally identifiable information about end users, does not collect data about the user's web usage, does not collect any information entered into web forms, does not share information with third parties, does not send or cause to be sent unsolicted e-mail, and does not install items such as dialers on the end user's computer.

We would request that you correct your disseminated materials immediately to remove any reference to iSearch as Spyware, Foistware, or Malware. To the extent you fail to remedy your improper disparagement of the iDownload brand on or before February 15, 2005, we will take all necessary action against your company to protect iDownload from your continuing tortuous conduct. Should you have any questions regarding the foregoing, please feel free to contact me.

Best Regards,
Mark D. Hopkins


Uhhhh, yeah.

If you want to get into semantics, said toolbar isn't spyware in the strictest sense of the definition, it is adware. However, the popular definition of spyware includes adware or any related "tool" or "value add", and there's no way that iDownload or its shysters can change that. I would speculate that there is little brand equity to protect in iDownload, as most people who have gotten it installed on their computers would like nothing more than to be rid of it, and I would doubt that iDownload could produce any sort of end-user satisfaction statistics along the lines of J.D. Power. The only brand equity iDownload has is with those advertisers willing to stoop to using such methods to hawk their wares, and I'm sure the average end-user would be bloody unwilling to purchase anything advertised in such manner that steals bandwidth and CPU cycles from them.

Symantec calls a spade a spade. I look forward to seeing the response from Symantec's lawyers to any such missive. It'll be amusing.....

Incidentally, iSearch is installed (scroll to the February 10th entry in the link) by the latest nasty virus making the rounds, Win32.bube.d (a/k/a Win32.Beavis). Nice company iDownload keeps......

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

 

Lavasoft Responds

While there's some grumbling on Broadband Reports, Lavasoft has issued a clarification on the WhenU removal fiasco. The response isn't a model of clarity, however, the idea of putting a standalone removal tool out for delisted spyware strikes me as an acceptable compromise for the short term. AdAware will remain in the arsenal.

I resisted putting Flash and Shockwave plugins into my PC for the longest time as I was well aware that advertisers were using those media to get around pop-up blockers, however, the delays and errors I was getting on a lot of the news pages was getting annoying (not to mention some of the funny stuff like the famous tech support satire that I almost missed). I finally yielded and sure enough the commercials infested my favorite news haunts. Even Firefox couldn't help, however, this Flash blocker plug-in for Firefox seems just the ticket. It blocks the Macromedia stuff when loading pages and replaces it with an icon, which you can click if you want the content.

Much bureaucracy and catchup with paperwork today and tomorrow. When I get through this patch I'll be a bit more loquacious and eloquent.....

Monday, February 21, 2005

 

Politician n. An eel in the fundamental mud upon which the superstructure of organized society is reared

While of course the Sulzberger Entity simply had to spin this as unfairly impacting Blue States, this article about the Alternative Minimum Tax is worth a read. One of my continual gripes, especially since I'm doing my taxes next weekend.

 

Short Shrift Monday

A pretty tight schedule today, so probably not much blogging.

I'm playing with the skewering of the local issue that's the subject of most of my current wrath (at least until the work week kicks in and the Zoids and Droids that comprise management at Respected Employer start to raise the aggravation quotient), but being the annoying self-editor that I am, before I launch a broadside of this sort I will probably rework it another three or four times. Since reality is impinging upon this, it'll probably have to wait until later in the week (with my luck).

In the schadenfreude/Reines Vergnügen department, we note a certain personality (whom I've previously indicated my contempt for in these pages) has had her cell phone/PDA hacked. If you want to see the true decadence of American popular culture, the list of contacts can be found here. I'm sure that if the numbers were indeed legitimate they've already been changed or deactivated, and the possibility of this being a publicity stunt isn't totally remote, however, it does speak ill for the carrier and/or phone's security if there's a grain of truth in the matter, and also reinforces my decision to keep my PDA separate from my phone.


Comic courtesy of "Day By Day"

Sunday, February 20, 2005

 

Manhattan Jokes

Original can be found here. Edited for brevity and maximum pretentiousness....

OLYMPICS GO HOME
88 things the International Olympic Committee should know about New York City before making a decision about 2012.
1. We already have an "Olympic Shooting Center" in the Bronx. It's called the Bronx.
2. When the Olympic Village isn't completed on time, we're going to overcharge you to sublet our shitty tenement one-bedroom.
3. They can hide the dirty homeless people from you while you're here visiting, but hiding them for two full weeks during the Games will be nigh on impossible.
4. We already gave the rest of America an excuse to become flag-waving idiots.
....
6. Better get a permit for all those velodrome events. The last time a bunch of bicyclists got together for a ride, the cops arrested them and took away their bikes.
7. Think Munich, writ large.
8. When "9/11" was brought up on every other page in the city's proposal, didn't that set off a few alarms?
....
10. It's going to cost a fortune to paint the black sprinters orange to keep the police from shooting them.
....
12. Astoria will smell like burning goats for two weeks if the Greeks win any medals.
13. Christo has plans to wrap the Olympic Village in four million square feet of Fruit Roll-Ups.
....
15. No matter what the mayor promises you, he can't get rid of the pee smell.
16. Three-quarters of the audience at the women's uneven parallel bar competition will be in violation of Megan's Law.
17. No, Queens is not "just minutes from Times Square!"
18. You obviously weren't around for the Puerto Rican Day parade.
19. The only fencing our mayor enjoys is the kind around his mansion.
20. You sure you have the right place? We're New York—two syllables. Newark is that way, just across the river.
21. All participants at events in the "Olympic Aquatic Center at Williamsburg Waterfront Park" will be required to compete while dressed up as characters from John Hughes movies.
22. We can't even keep New Jersey from sneaking in every Friday night. And terrorists are a lot smarter than people from New Jersey.
....
24. If you hold the opening or closing ceremonies at Ground Zero, we're going to kick your pan-ethnic asses.
....
26. Our much-vaunted peaceful diversity is just waiting for an excuse to be riven to bits by interethnic jingoistic hoopla.
27. Don't count on those softball, cycling and equestrian centers; we're kicking Staten Island out in the next referendum.
28. We can't let anyone run through our streets with a torch. We did that back in the 70s.
29. You think Athens had corrupt contractors? Ever hired a union plumber in this city?
30. Mayor Bloomberg is working on a deal to make the Clear Channel logo the sixth ring on the Olympic logo.
31. Tickets for Nathan Lane in Pole Vault: The Musical will be impossible to get.
32. The Chinese won't come. Too many Falun Gong members walking around freely.
33. The MTA's garbled loudspeakers will not be fixed by 2012.
34. Mayor Bloomberg is not actually authorized to convert Ellis Island into a "world-class ice creamery and sandwich stand" for the duration of the Olympics.
....
37. That $12 billion in projected revenue will be spent on postcards printed in China, t-shirts woven in Malaysia and venti mocha coconut frappuccinos made by the sovereign nation of Starbucks. That doesn't really help us.
......
41. They're going to complete the Freedom Tower in 2008, which means you'll be too early for the five-year memorial of its destruction.
42. Athletes need to pay another $5 to go back on that stupid Air Train. What kind of city builds a shitty monorail, then overcharges everyone to use it?
43. When the white doves are released, they're gonna get mauled by our pigeons.
....
45. Your 10-to-one Euro-to-dollar exchange rate will go further in, say, Boise.
46. "Bloomberg would sell his first-born to bring the Olympics to New York City" was just a figure of speech.
47. We already have enough Wall Street jackasses filling the sports bars. We don't need Wall Street-style jackasses from every other financial district in the world to converge here all at once.
48. There aren't enough weed-delivery services to go around. The Dutch teams alone…
49. Most visitors won't be allowed on the island—we have a law banning tourists wearing white socks with sandals.
50. Every time the Ecuadorian soccer team sits down for a meal, they'll be sent back to help in the kitchen.
....
52. Even in 2012, the Apple store still won't have any iPod Shuffles in stock.
.....
55. You'll be riding the 7 train back and forth. Ever ride the 7 train during rush hour?
56. Have you noticed that about eight million people are already crammed into an area the size of a backyard in Sweden?
57. Our cab drivers won't have time to learn "fuck you" in 200 languages. Their current 34 may not suffice.
....
60. Strip-club blowjobs will be priced triple during the Olympic fortnight.
....
62. Our piss-test labs are already backed up with the government-employee samples.
63. Mayor Bloomberg's post-Olympic plans call for a New York Public School Battle Royale 2013, to be held in the new stadium.
....
65. All those Japanese tourists taking photos on the subway will be arrested.
66. Don't believe the mayor's press secretary: "Sucker" is not a term of endearment that Mayor Bloomberg "uses with his good friends and future business partners."
67. A drunken-fireman brawl will inevitably result in four-alarm torch tragedy.
68. We're going to be even grouchier.
....
70. The Olympic Village will be converted into homes that 18,000 working-class New Yorkers can't afford.
71. We aren't anything like those smiling hippies on the billboards. Not deep down, we're not.
72. Holding the water ballet events in the surf off Coney Island is a very bad idea.
73. We really must insist on speaking to the good people of Athens before we sign anything.
....
75. The mayor is just doing this on account of some petty, personal grudge.
76. Before you make any decisions, try to get across town on any weekday afternoon.
....
78. Athletes will be contractually obligated to drink nothing but Snapple.
.....
80. After the mayor tells you about the subway extension that will make getting to the stadium quick and easy, we suggest you call the MTA and ask them how work on the 2nd Ave. subway is coming along.
81. The only thing we liked about the plan was the East River ferry system. And that's been killed.
....
85. We suggest you visit Queens before getting too excited about sticking an Olympic Village over there.
86. Never been here in the summer, have you?
.....

Saturday, February 19, 2005

 

Rickenbacker Pulls Guitar Center dealership!!!!

Original can be found here.

Rickenbacker Removes Guitar Center, Inc. From Authorized Dealer Roster

Rickenbacker notifies Guitar Center that they are no longer authorized dealers.

Santa Ana, February 18, 2005: Rickenbacker notified Guitar Center today that it would not accept further orders for Rickenbacker products, that all existing orders have been cancelled, and no further shipments would be made. All Guitar Center locations will soon be removed from Rickenbacker's list of authorized dealerships and dealer referral system.

Rickenbacker CEO John Hall commented, “It’s a sad day considering our long history, however, it has become increasingly apparent that our style of business is not compatible with that of Guitar Center’s. Their business model and support systems are designed to suit sales of commodity goods rather than craftsman-produced products like ours”. He went on to note that this policy will not apply to the Musician’s Friend unit of Guitar Center, which to date has remained under separate, autonomous management. He said, “We have a very positive relationship with Musician’s Friend and can only hope this success will not be affected: that’s up to management at Guitar Center to decide.”

Rickenbacker invented the modern electric guitar as it exists today in 1931 and remains the only major, original electric guitar maker to produce solely in the United States.


Apparently this has been brewing for a while, especially given GC's penchant for separating cases from guitars, as well as "losing" warranty cards. There's going to be some good reading on my favorite boards this weekend.....

 

Corrupt, adj. In politics, holding an office of trust or profit

It seems that Lavasoft has backed off on its delisting of WhenU as spyware. This gentleman's comments on the Broadband Reports thread on the subject seem most sensible:

Besides There's much larger spyware problems out there Lavasoft is happy to detect, before you call anyone a sellout, At least give them time to explain themselves, I didn't agree with their decision to delete WHENU but I did take the time to look at their TAC and See that WhenU only scores a 1 pointer, However, yes it's extreemly annoying to gets ads popping up out of nowhere, which is what it does, but it doesnt phone home, it doesnt compromise security, it's like cydoor, Both extremly irritating, but Not gonna kill your dog.

I say that we just let them explain themselves... and be happy they readded insteead of everyone burning Ad-aware on their computers, because, how many times has adaware detected something most can't? I cant count about a dozen times Ive caught about 200 more objects (These are on clients pcs) then any other



The big problem of course is that the general public is unaware of the nuance between adware and spyware, since the general case for both involves the same symptoms (loads of unwanted pop-ups or pop-unders) and system slow downs. If we wanted to talk about removing adware entirely we could also talk about targeting Macromedia, as any number of news sites (CNN, New York Post, off the top of my head) use some form of Flash or Shockwave content which just happens to deliver a few randomly inserted ads into your viewing experience (ugh, how I hate that phraseology; reminds me of the theater chain owners who protest that pre-show commercials are part of the "experience", especially in the context of fighting legislation that would force them to publish the actual starting time of their crummy wares). The nuance is unimportant to the end-user or for that matter the administrator, as both need machines to be up and running on demand. I'd of course suggest using tools such as hpguru's hosts file and eDexter to block some of the egregrious phone-home crapware, but the old saw about prevention vs. cure is more than applicable here. Semantics in this case shouldn't affect the thousands of end-users plagued by this crap.*

The New Toy I've promised to chat about is an Epiphone Elitist Riviera 12-string in sunburst finish. My first rock concert was the Beach Boys at Madison Square Garden, circa Christmastime 1972. It was a great show, and I well remember seeing Carl's Epi and drooling over it. A reasonably priced one happened to pop up (I was really tempted by a new one at Musician's Friend, but being brutally honest about it, I'd only use it for a couple of numbers. I chatted briefly with our singer about Beach Boys songs, mentioning "God Only Knows", and she countered with "Don't Worry Baby"; certainly one of my favorites but way out of any vocal range I'm comfortable with. I'd really like to do "Sail On Sailor" - that was the second song the Beach Boys played that night, and it really was quite awesome - also well within my very limited vocal range). The guitar definitely needs a setup, as the action is too high and the intonation and truss rod need to be adjusted, but even played unplugged, it's got a nice chime. Not like a Rickenbacker, obviously much closer to an ES-335/12. It's a bit heavier than I expected, a touch heavier than my regular ES-335, but the balance is excellent (certainly better than most ES-335/12s I've played). The neck is a bit fatter than I expected as well, especially higher up, but then again, this guitar wouldn't be played much above the 12th fret anyway, so no problem there.

I'll have to dig out the Beach Boys' Knebworth DVD to play along with it. That DVD is a fairly good show (although Mike Love is his usual charming self) and is a bit of a milestone, as that's the last time all three Wilson brothers were on stage together. Apparently there were some technical glitches during the show and some songs didn't make it to the DVD (notably "Wouldn't It Be Nice"). I still think that the 1973 "In Concert" album represents the Beach Boys at their most interesting (although songs like "Surf's Up" and "Til I Die" aren't there), if not the most polished ("Good Vibrations" has kind of a rinky-dink sound on "In Concert", as opposed to the big sound on "Live In London"). "Live In London" is also an interesting document, with a big sound with a brass section. The opener of "Darlin'" is the best I've ever heard that song performed, likewise with "Do It Again". There are a couple of interesting obscurities like "Aren't You Glad". "God Only Knows" is very well done on the album as well, but the finale, "Barbara Ann" falls apart. "In Concert" takes the prize though, as it has definitive versions of "Don't Worry Baby" and "Sail On Sailor".

Friday, February 18, 2005

 

One Hundred Completely Irrelevant And Disjointed Facts About Me

I originally had a rather stinging missive penned on a local politician-wannabe, but decided to rework it a bit. It was one of those dashed-off things written in a moment of pique that most bloggers know all too well, but to paraphrase one of Mr. Puzo's well-known lines, such a skewering is a dish best enjoyed cold. The inspiration for said missive was actually peripherally related to the New Toy arriving today (as I pen this introduction, the carrier's tracking has it somewhere in the general vicinity of the Outerbridge Crossing) but being absolutely stuck this early in the morning, I wussed out and went for the meme, hence, one hundred factoids about your host that will positively bore you.

  1. I like red meat
  2. I dislike Japanese food, especially sushi
  3. I'm OK with seafood in small doses
  4. Parmigiana and similar red sauce dishes bore me
  5. I prefer iced tea to soda
  6. I rarely drink non-diet drinks
  7. I usually go through at least six or seven 16oz bottles of water ever day
  8. I very rarely go for Mexican food
  9. I love Indian food
  10. I watch relatively little television in a normal week
  11. I will rearrange my schedule around any new episodes of The Sopranos
  12. I haven't had a speeding ticket in almost seven years
  13. I talked my way out of one in 2000
  14. I grew up a Mets fan, now they bore me to tears
  15. I'm not all that enamored with the Yankees
  16. I couldn't care less about basketball. Haven't seen a game worthy of the name since the Knicks' championships in the early 70s
  17. I grew up a Jets fan. See #14
  18. For family reasons I can't be a Giants fan.
  19. I couldn't care less about hockey.
  20. I dislike going to any sporting event as it's too expensive and unless you beat it out of there before the game ends you get caught in all manner of traffic and crowds
  21. I once ate ten hot dogs at Shea Stadium with no significant after effects
  22. I dislike going to amusement parks and arcades
  23. My preferred spirits are in order, Single Malt Scotch, Armagnac, Cognac and Bourbon
  24. I occasionally will take bourbon on the rocks in the summer. Occasionally.
  25. My preferred beers are Belgian Trappist and Abbey styles
  26. I like doppelbocks and all manner of dark beers even if they're nominally lagers
  27. My favorite American beer is Anchor Steam
  28. I once had the opportunity to buy a Jaguar E-Type at a reasonable price. I didn't.
  29. I've only owned one high performance car. I got rid of it a long time ago.
  30. I managed to beat a caffeine addiction years ago. I relapsed recently.
  31. I hate Starbucks
  32. I like Dunkin Donuts coffee, but their donuts don't do anything for me
  33. Krispy Kreme regular glazed are my donut of choice
  34. First time I was in a Dunkin Donuts was in the mid 60s with my grandmother. They had the cartoon versions of Abbott and Costello as their mascots.
  35. I recently found my old Escort radar detector. I wouldn't think of using it nowadays.
  36. The funniest standup comics I ever saw in person were George Carlin, Buddy Hackett and Mal Z. Lawrence. Rickles came close, but no cigar.
  37. The only current comedian who really cracks me up is Chris Rock
  38. I once had the opportunity to buy a Ferrari 308 at a reasonable price. I didn't.
  39. I'm a basically cheap person
  40. The corollary to that is that I will indulge the family
  41. Another corollary to that is that I do have Guitar (or Gear) Acquisition Syndrome, and thus the periodic New Toy posts
  42. I look at G.A.S. as being cheaper than a high performance car in the near and long term
  43. I think most guitars and gear are horrendously overpriced, but what's one to do about it short of voting with one's wallet?
  44. I really dislike New York City. I'm entitled to. I grew up there.
  45. I really dislike Long Island. Too much traffic, and the haughty attitudes are unbelievable considering the environment.
  46. The scary thing is that I still know the subways like the back of my hand
  47. I have only taken the Long Island Railroad once, when I went from Brooklyn to the Nassau Coliseum to see George Harrison in 1974.
  48. Saw McCartney at Nassau in 1976. Tenth row orchestra. Great show.
  49. Saw Springsteen at Nassau in 1980. New Year's Eve. About 30th row in the orchestra. Great show.
  50. I had two dates for the McCartney show, and only two tickets (first girl I asked said no at first, second girl eagerly said yes, first one reconsidered and called me back and wanted to go, very badly. Since second girl was the daughter of a family friend, I had to do the right thing and take her).
  51. I stopped seeing both young ladies later that year.
  52. I actually saw Frankie Valli's reconstituted Four Seasons acts about four or five times in that time frame. We always wondered why he did medleys and not play the full songs all the way through.
  53. I once saw Jay Black and his reconsitituted Jay and The Americans open for Frankie. He was unmerciful in his teasing and ribbing of Frankie. It was pretty nasty, actually.
  54. I actually managed to find a picture of my first girlfriend on the web. No, not that kind of picture! It's actually an old summer camp picture.
  55. I haven't had Jolt Cola in almost 10 years
  56. I'm no longer so enamored of Chinese food
  57. I really don't think it's worth schlepping all the way into Chinatown or other ethnic neighborhoods for an ethnic meal. If I happen to be in the neighborhood, I'll go.
  58. Despite my general loathing of the French, I still love French food
  59. My favorite Irish pub closed down recently. Haven't been there in ages, but they had the best Guinness in the tri-state area, bar none. No place in Manhattan came close.
  60. I dislike extended family gatherings intensely
  61. I could use a pastrami fix, with a side of kishke
  62. For a nice Jewish boy, I really dislike most Jewish music
  63. No, I don't find Adam Sandler funny
  64. I used to positively drool over Bailey on WKRP
  65. I think the only really sexy woman on TV nowadays is Rachael Ray
  66. Although I can actually cook a decent gourmet meal, I haven't done much more than throw something on the broiler or make breakfast in the last seven or eight years
  67. I crave quiet
  68. I'm still trying to work my way through Neal Stephenson's "Quicksilver". Love the book, just haven't had enough time
  69. I'm a morning person
  70. For someone who's got a rather large library of train books and videos, plus a decent model train collection, I really don't like riding trains that much lately
  71. I loathe flying
  72. My personal library is too big
  73. I really should learn to say "no" once in a while
  74. I'm a bit of a procrastinator
  75. I carefully manage my availability by cell phone and pager. Too many people abuse it.
  76. I had some truly excellent teachers growing up. I find that my kids don't have the same advantage.
  77. I loathe bureaucracies
  78. I've done a fair amount of travel through Europe. I have no desire to return in the foreseeable future.
  79. I really want a full Marshall stack, but there's no way I can justify it
  80. I tend to be somewhat impatient
  81. Video games leave me cold
  82. I'm a lousy golfer
  83. I have no interest in participating in any other sport, save for a softball game for nostalgia's sake with some old friends
  84. Tennis bores the living daylights out of me
  85. I would really like a dedicated listening room, plus a dedicated music studio to indulge my audiophile and musician's streaks. Realistically, I won't get either.
  86. I dislike social events with buffets when you're told when you can join the line for food. Invariably the host or the DJ announces that Table 1 can join the line, and you cheerfully find yourself and your hungry family ensconced at Table 17.
  87. I was once asked to run for local office for some town board. I declined the nomination.
  88. I have a rapier-like wit that sometimes expresses itself in very inappropriate circumstances. Such as funerals and corporate meetings.
  89. Even though I'm a management consultant and I often have to express difficult concepts on the 100K-foot level, I'm more comfortable talking about those concepts at the detailed low level. It's sometimes hard for me to dumb down the conversation.
  90. I love to use the English language well. Years of Buckley and Safire did that for me. I occasionally mangle it in these pages but that's deliberate and for the humorous effect.
  91. I loathe stupidity.
  92. There was one stretch of about six months where I would regularly (2-3 times a week) eat at Soup Kitchen International, the boite that inspired a certain Seinfeld episode. Expensive lunch, but worth it. No, he wasn't rude, just brusque.
  93. My favorite burgers are Fuddruckers, but since the chain has virtually disappeared I've had to do without. Saw one somewhere on Route 23 in Jersey last year, but it was too crowded to take the family into.
  94. Favorite fast food used to be Roy Rogers. Also virtually disappeared. First time I went in I asked for a Triggerburger. The manager wasn't amused.
  95. Given the choice between a dental cleaning and a colonoscopy I'll take the scoping any day. I invariably get dentists and hygienists who are closet sadists.
  96. I suspect most of my jokes go over people's heads
  97. My cynical streak has rubbed off on my oldest kid
  98. As Groucho would say, these are my opinions. If you don't like it I have others. This space is for rent, as being a management consultant is somewhat analogous to being a call girl specializing in being on the receiving end of sadomasochism.
  99. Despite my business being in part related to creating management trappings such as executive dashboards I strongly feel such trappings really add very little value to projects or operations
  100. I'm horrified that I can use the various permutations of the term "value-added" in context and intelligently

Thursday, February 17, 2005

 

Zeal, n. A certain nervous disorder afflicting the young and inexperienced

Administrivia beckons today, as a Minor Manager informs me that there's some scrutiny focused toward our business unit due to a slow start for the year and we've got to resolve some open project finance issues with regard to Esteemed Client. Perhaps some focus on our Crack Sales Team who spent umpteen dollars on their country club memberships and Super Bowl tickets might be more appropriate, but what the heck do I know? I'm only the guy who's got to make things work. Also trying to line up my next gig, otherwise Minor Manager will surely find something productive for me to do in Pyongyang or Tehran.

In fairness to Lavasoft, I'll post this quote from their press release page regarding AdAware and WhenU.

As a result of recent rumours and speculation by members of the privacy community and the public at large, Lavasoft wants to make clear that it has not and would not collaborate with any companies that have produced content detected by Ad-Aware. Ad-Aware products are designed purely for scanning and removing of suspicious content (at the user’s discretion) and Lavasoft would not ally with adversaries under any circumstances.

WhenU was indeed removed from the database by research in the last definition file. This however was due to WhenU not scoring more than 2 TAC points at the time, 3 points being the minimum score to be included in the database. More information on the Threat Assessment Chart can be found at http://www.lavasoftnews.com/ms/tac_main.htm

The TAC report will be reviewed in more detail by our R&D department and in case it turns out that the removal was incorrect, WhenU will naturally be reintroduced to the database.

In one view, it could be viewed as a guilt by association reaction against Lavasoft, because of WhenU's previous alliance with Yahoo (and based on a friend's machine that has the infamous Yahoo toolbar installed, no commercial anti-spyware solution will zap that). As I've noted here and in other forums my perception has been that AdAware has been more effective lately than Spybot, but the need for a cross-check is still there. I do think that Lavasoft did make a tactical error here, as purveyors such as WhenU won't change their spots, even if a particular evaluation makes them look benign (as I've well known throughout the years, evaluation criteria can be bent, shaped and twisted to make things happen the way the powers that be decree. One notable instance at Stalag 13, I had created a dandy set of evaluation criteria and matrices for an RFP. Based on the objective criteria I labored for months to produce, one particular vendor won. Said vendor was not politically in favor at Stalag 13, and we were under lots of pressure from the C-level to tweak the matrix and points such that Preferred Vendor got the job. It took a lot, and I mean a lot of bullshit to make that happen).

I won't succumb to the knee-jerk reaction of banishing AdAware, but I will monitor the situation.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

 

Dulcet Tones of Screaming

Gates' keynote address at the security conference actually showed some promise. The lesser of the two items was that IE 7 is in the works, hopefully with enough features and lockdown capability to eliminate some the junk caused by its predecessors (me personally, I'll stay with SpoofStick until proven otherwise). Since IE 7 is vaporware at this point there's absolutely no reason to get excited over the prospect until the beta stage, and I doubt that'll be anytime soon. The better part of the address was the announcement that MS AntiSpyware will be free (at least for registered users, so if you got your XP from ahem, non-traditional channels, you're SOL; then again, if you got your XP disc that way, be a mensch and pay for a license. The average PEBKAC isn't going to want to know about Postscript and lpr, so it's undoubtedly a good bang for the buck when trying to connect up their $200 HP all-in-one, and the OS does have its good points). So far, I've been fairly happy with MS AntiSpyware Beta 1, but I have a couple of lingering fears, mostly in terms of response to new threats (as my fears would be with any MSFT anti-virus solution), but the real concern is that some threats might be deliberately ignored in the light of business expediency. Even AdAware is now suspect, as Lavasoft has apparently inked some form of alliance with known crapware provider WhenU, a consequence of which is that AdAware no longer detects WhenU. (Yahoo of course has its quote unquote anti-spyware toolbar that also ignores WhenU and even worse, Claria f/k/a Gator).

Played around with a couple of Knoppix setups yesterday that are loaded with various security tools. The distros are Knoppix-STD and Auditor Toolbox. Knoppix-STD is pretty much bare bones, but works fine in VMWare Workstation. Mostly command line tools, which are fine with me, plus a recent version of nessus and a couple of other GUI-based tools. Auditor Toolbox unfortunately wouldn't completely boot under VMWare, plenty of segmentation faults and init was going wild. I suspect that it might be due to it being VMWare 4.0 and not 4.5, but as I haven't gotten around to upgrading yet, it'll have to wait until then for a final test. Knoppix-STD has pretty much the entire canon of tools one needs for a vulnerability assessment, and it's nice to have an ISO that I can boot under VMWare instead of dedicating a VM or for that matter a bootable partition.

I may actually give some of the tools on Knoppix-STD a try. It seems that a friend of mine had someone configure a broadband router (a Microsoft router, no less) in front of their cable modem, and the dunce who did the installation set an adminstrative password and a WEP key, but didn't tell my friend what they are. Said friend wants to use the wireless connection on a brand new laptop just purchased. Needless to say the "technician" also didn't record the MAC address on the WAN interface, so it's either put a hub between the cable modem and the router and sniff with Ethereal, or get into the router somehow. Since no one knows the WEP key, the only wireless frames coming out are the unencrypted beacon frames, no way to just have my laptop "war drive" and try to get in. I'm going to try Hydra or Brutus against the router's login page to see if we can get in, otherwise it's sniff the MAC address and get them a Linksys or an SMC.

From Voxtalks, an observation for the ages:
The Beatles 7 Grammys (3 in 1996) with 167 million albums sold
Led Zeppelin - ...one Grammy with 106 million albums sold
Rolling Stones - 2 Grammys in 1994 with 64 million albums sold
Pink Floyd - one Grammy in 1994 with 74 million albums sold
That's 11 Grammys with 411 million albums sold.


Then there is this example:
Beyonce - 8 Grammys with 6 million albums sold


'Nuff said.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

 

Miscellaneous Inanities and Drivel

I've been somewhat remiss in catching the Sunday AM talking heads for some months now, so this transcript of Sunday's Meet The Press featuring Natan Sharansky sparring with Obergruppenfuhrer Buchanan was a bit of a treat to read. I'll have to start watching again, but tell the truth, the only show in the genre I find totally palatable is The McLaughlin Group.

Henry's at it again. According to this article, Gibson is suing Tokai amongst others for marketing, horror of horrors, a Les Paul copy. This is of course completely idiotic, as there've been Les Paul copies since the 50s (the Gretsch DuoJet being the most obvious example) and they've been down this road before with Ibanez and Tokai back in the 70s and 80s. Nevermind that Gibson produces their own quote unquote budget line in Japan (Orville) which could easily fool the non-cognoscenti. One of the points in the article is most interesting, claiming that the PRS Singlecut which started this latest round of Gibson insanity off was indistinguishable at first glance from a Les Paul. Spare me. And what of Heritage Guitars, the boutique formed by ex-Gibson types, are they in the sights as well? Henry must've had a tiny overreaction when he lost the trademark battle for "Elite" (Epiphone) with Ovation. Such is aggressiveness. Henry, one of these days you're going to drive Gibson out of business....

On the Digital Media front, there were several nag screens from Music Match Jukebox over the last few days to upgrade to version 10. Finding it extremely annoying after the 42nd time (I really never wanted Music Match to have the primary association with audio media types, but since I got the damn thing gratis I figured what the hell) I decided to push the button for the upgrade, then lo and behold, the damn thing stopped working. Apparently I'm not the only unsatisfied customer, as per this thread on Broadband Reports. At this point, Music Match adds no value to the experience so I've decided to bag it. Since I can burn CDs just fine with Windows Media Player, I have absolutely no need for MMJ. Bye-bye. It's rather instructive to see that since their installer is obviously not bulletproof, they're willing to release it and nag their users anyway. Had it not been for the CD burning deficiency in previous versions of WMP I wouldn't have bothered in the first place, as the damn thing added very little value when it was working. Other than some unintended interactions caused by Roxio when I tested it, I would never have even tried MMJ.

Finally, in the Unintended Hilarity Department, Mr. Gates is scheduled to give the keynote address at a security conference today. Bill's speech is entitled, "Security: Raising the Bar". After dealing with some of the security issues engendered by the MSFT paradigm, I usually need to spend quality time at a bar.

Monday, February 14, 2005

 

Politeness, n. The most acceptable hypocrisy

I installed MSFT's AntiSpyware Beta on the High Altar to check it out, as I'd heard good things about its immediate predecessor, Giant AntiSpyware. First impression isn't bad, although it generates a false positive with RealVNC (a petty annoyance). Usability is fine for the PEBKAC crowd, and the auto-scan and updates are nice. I don't particularly appreciate the conniptions MSFT makes you go through to get the thing, as in order to validate that your OS installation you have to download an ActiveX control, which is part of the problem in the first place. And of course, you have to provide the product key, or tell them what kind of machine it is and where you bought the box if said key isn't available (as I did).

One annoying bug (but minor enough to dismiss since it's a beta) is that AntiSpyware insists on you closing your browser to close out your scan. I tried setting it to Always Ignore RealVNC (since I'm typing this missive during the scan) but since I'm taking no action other than to ignore a legitimately installed utility it's a bit annoying to drop what I'm doing just because everything MSFT seems to require a shutdown of various degrees.

Look, I'm all for intellectual property owners to be paid for legitimate fair use of their product. There is no discussion on the matter. However, in this case, said intellectual property has caused direct or indirect injury to thousands if not millions of end-users by facilitating the installation of malware and viruses, all in the name of protecting their intellectual property by security through obscurity. Ever wonder why most encryption algorithm details are public (but of course, obviously not the keys)? Peer review. The algorithms get dissected in detail and potential flaws are examined with the result of the algorithm being either adopted or deprecated. MSFT doesn't believe in the concept of peer review, it believes in security through obscurity. Of course, there's a huge community out there that does peer review (mostly unsanctioned of course) of various MSFT issues, and that is a good thing for the end user community.

And just for the icing on the cake, this eWeek article shows not only that MSFT is aware of the problem (pas de merde!) but may actually be soliciting advice from professional peers (heaven forfend!) on how to deal with the issue. Here's a clue - decouple the browser from the OS please.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

 

Ambidextrous, adj.: Able to pick with equal skill a right-hand pocket or a left.

In the "Yikes!" department, I finally got over to my other friend in need's home to take a look at her sick computer. Said friend is quite intelligent and can handle MS Office, surfing and e-mail sans problem, however, there are teenagers in her house, and downloads are the order of the day. My friend told me of massive slowdowns, ads popping up and needless to say, I came loaded for bear. Started out with AdAware SE in both normal and safe modes, and zapped about 600 nasties. Spybot found a few more bad guys but thankfully CWShredder came up clean. We then tried SpySubtract, and hoo boy, another 170 nasties, including a keystroke logger. My friend couldn't believe it until I showed her her Hotmail password. All of her kids' IM chats were in there as well. Needless to say, my friend was seriously freaked by this development, and she's swung into action to check privacy issues.

Needless to say, this is actually a sobering lesson, in that neither AdAware nor Spybot found the keystroke logger. As much as I admire those products and their creators, they aren't the only tools necessary to keep things clean on a PC. Layered defenses, folks.

New toy on its way. Review when I receive it. Hint - Carl Wilson....

A big spurt of eBay phishing mails over the last couple of days. The URLs point to servers in Ecuador this time around. What, the gangsters got tired of mamaliga? (for the non-cognoscenti, that's the other Romanian national dish aside from pastrami; Lou Gottlieb of the Limeliters described it succintly as cornmeal mush)

Finally, I got a panicked e-mail from my frummie friend. It seems the Linksys router didn't solve the problem after all (as I had suspected it wouldn't). Obviously whatever sites my friend was looking at had passed out of the DNS cache on the laptop, and the query to the local DNS server wouldn't work. I'm going to try TreeWalk on my friend's machine and see if that fixes the problem, if not, I'm getting to the point of tearing out what little hair I have left.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

 

Musical Meme

Ordinarily I'm not one to participate in me-too meme-ism, but this one isn't terribly obnoxious or revealing, so for your edification.....


1. Song that sounds like happy feels: "She Loves You"
2. Earliest memory: "Linda" by Jan and Dean
3. Last CD you bought: "Dark Matter" by IQ

4. Reminds you of school:

Elementary School - "Be True To Your School". Never got played in my elementary school, about the closest we got to pop music in school was an occasional play of the Hokey Pokey. However, it's juvenile enough that I associate it with my younger days.

High School - "Sweet Jane". The gavones in my high school were too stupid to get it, and the Arista-heads (for those of you who grew up in NYC, you know who I mean, this is commonly referred to in the heartland as a "class leader") also couldn't get it, but were more obsessed with dancing to whatever Gamble and Huff record was current at the time. There was a small group who actually liked The Who, The Stones and The Velvet Underground, who of course I fell in with despite my nominal affiliation with the Arista-heads (most of whom I loathed), perils of being known as a bright kid, you know....

College - "Thunder Road". Heard it for the first time on my way to class in my first semester. I literally was stuck in traffic, but I was spellbound by it and missed the light sequence.

5. Total music files on your PC: 1239, about 5.7GB
6. Song for listening to repeatedly when depressed: "Won't Get Fooled Again"
7. Song that sounds British, but isn't: That's easy. "Lies" by the Knickerbockers.
8. Song you love, band you hate: "Californication", Red Hot Chili Peppers
9. A favorite song from the past that took ages to track down: What else, "Come On And Ringo" by the Standells. I'm still looking for a clean complete copy....
10. Bought the album for one good song: Another easy one. "Agents Of Fortune" by Blue Oyster Cult for "Don't Fear The Reaper". A lot of folks got burned with that one.
11. Worst Song to Get Stuck in your Head: "Return Of The Son Of Monster Magnet"
12. Best song to dump a beer on someone's head to, then storm out of the bar? "Free Bird"
13. Who should do this next? Every other lazy blogger with better things to do on the weekend... :-)

In other news, the March issue of Playboy hit the stands, and I briefly held it in the nice sealed plastic before putting it back. No, not because I was afraid to bring it home, but because a certain attention whore (not Ms. Gibson, who I'll get to in a moment) was on the cover. I won't mention this individual's name, but the word "hotel" is somehow associated. I find said individual to be a completely skanky, irritating person and I flatly refuse to spend any money on any publication that has any connection with her, unless some hunting magazine displays her trussed up on the hood of a car after liberal application of Bad Medicine. Some sources suggest it's a Photoshop job, which wouldn't bode well for Mr. Hefner as said attention whore would more likely sue to protect her image and likeness from any infringement real or imagined. As to Ms. Gibson, someone has leaked some photos onto the net, and as expected, they were boring. Oh sure she's pretty, but the photos were about as sensual as ordering a toasted bagel at a diner. I'm glad I didn't spend the eight bucks or whatever it's going for.

Friday, February 11, 2005

 

Idiot n. A member of a large and powerful tribe whose influence in human affairs has always been dominant and controlling

CNet reports the first spyware targeted toward Mozilla has been found in the wild. While not specifically targeted toward Firefox, it's a matter of time before Firefox-specific exploits are deployed. The article identifies the malware as a typical "Would you like to install after not reading our completely incomprehensible nonsense?" click and install affair, meaning the PEBKACs in my life who've converted to Firefox may be infected out of a mistaken belief they're immune to this sort of thing. The drive-by downloads are coming, folks. Throw a couple of shekels toward the AdAware and Spybot developers, or invest in BOClean or SpySubtract.

Speaking of BOClean, a minor rant to their owners at NSClean - fix your shopping cart's credit card validation system. It's obviously a known problem to you guys as you have that message "try again or wait 24 hours". I really need two more licenses....

Some observations on l'affaire Fiorina - two words beginning with 'L' should've given her the clue about the direction on the low-margin business, those words being "Lexmark" and "Lenovo". The bloatware accompanying some of HP's current printer line is horrid, and tech support, well, unfortunately I can't do my spot-on Punjabi accent for you (the thought of audio blogging is interesting, but with the phone ringing every two minutes it's hard to get a moment's peace to collect my thoughts; besides, being a basically cheap person and not wanting to cough up for dedicated hosting space, I really don't want to upload files to some low-rent free provider that will exhaust the minimal bandwidth allocation with 3 downloads). HP's high-end line has astonishingly poor penetration in my capital markets bailiwick, truth be told I only recall one major firm (now subsumed into another) running a single business unit's operations on the HP 9K series - years ago. Long since converted to Sun. There's some HP penetration at Colditz, but a lot of it is legacy stuff that is desperately in need of upgrades, but the business unit where those systems are located is a real backwater (although there is one positively crazy unterfuhrer there who thinks that Colditz revolves around his fiefdom, and that enterprise standards can cordially go and fuck themselves). I won't comment on the professional services division as I've had very little experience with them, but that in itself is a comment, as I've seen every major consulting firm and most of the boutiques in my travels, working with or at cross-purposes to them. I've never seen HP consultants on the ground at any of my clients, other than service techs.

Finally, a final thought on academia and l'affaire Churchill. These idiot academics have pushed concepts like deconstruction and revisionism, the latter term of course having been co-opted by neo-Nazis to prove a quote unquote scholarly base to their idiocies. Critical thinking and observation is one thing, but the entire concept of destroying and re-envisioning history is rather scary, as anyone who's seen how Soviet leaders got airbrushed out of pictures knows (which leads to a side observation - if you've ever seen the fantastically funny "One Two Three" with Jimmy Cagney, there's a scene in the Grand Hotel Potemkin in East Berlin where during some wild dancing by the ubiquitous busty secretary, the picture of Khrushchev falls down from the wall to reveal a portrait of Stalin. I definitely remember seeing this film on TV years ago and seeing the picture of Stalin fall, revealing a picture of Adolf. For some reason, that bit was cut from the VHS and DVD editions). The academics have made it acceptable to use threatening and confrontational language to get their viewpoint across destroying the base of knowledge and experience that has given us this period of prosperity. By doing so, they've empowered every tinhorn bigot out there, be it the "revisionist" or Ward Churchill, to attack people who bear no malice. Back in college, the leftist academics were a cute joke, they were friendly enough, and it was good to have an intellectual tussle with them in the cafeteria every so often. It isn't so funny anymore.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

 

Steven Den Beste

USS Clueless is indeed one of my three favorite blogs, and I was saddened to see Steven put it on indefinite hiatus. His few posted comments once he stopped regularly essaying indicated he had no desire to continue, and I chalked it up to blogger fatigue; after all, maintaining that level of incisive excellence on a daily basis, by both qualitative and quantitative measures must've been an incredible effort. I had hoped that after a long vacation Steven would reconsider and return, and have kept looking in occasionally, reading the archives for some bon mots and inspiration. Sad to say, based on these messages, Mr. Den Beste won't be resurrecting USS Clueless, ever. Since it's a health issue, I can only wish him the absolute best, and keep him in my prayers for a recovery. Steven's writing in large part inspired me to take keyboard in hand and pen this humble journal, and I want to publicly acknowledge and thank him for USS Clueless. I'm thankful that he's got enough energy to keep his anime blog going, and I wish him well with it, but the political blog scene won't be the same without him. Thanks, Steven.

 

Exile n. One who serves his country by residing abroad, yet is not an ambassador

How could a dedicated Marxist (of the Groucho variety) like me omit Horsefeathers from the blogroll for so long? That egregious action is herewith rectified.

Stephen at Horsefeathers points us to some interesting (albeit unsurprising) information about the odious Ward Churchill. The money quote from Professor Edward Alexander about this latest ACLU poster boy -

...Churchill's scholarly reputation was based mainly on a squalid tract called A LITTLE MATTER OF GENOCIDE (1997), in which he argued that the murder of European Jews was not at all a "fixed policy objective of the Nazis," and accused Jews of seeking to monopolize for themselves all that beautiful Holocaust suffering that other groups would very much like, ex-post facto, to share. He argued that Jewish "exclusivism" had nearly erased from history the victims of other genocidal campaigns, and that Jewish scholars stressed the Holocaust in order to "construct a conceptual screen behind which to hide the realities of Israel's ongoing genocide against the Palestinian population." He not only likened Jewish scholars who have argued for the unique character of the Holocaust to neo-Nazi Holocaust deniers; he said that the Jews are worse than the latter-day Nazis because "those who deny the Holocaust, after all, focus their distortion upon one target. Those [Jewish scholars] who deny all holocausts other than that of the Jews have the same effect upon many."

I don't see any Jewish scholars denying other Holocausts. It's somewhat interesting that Mr. Churchill has nothing to say about Armenia, Cambodia or for that matter Darfur. Oh, that's right. His beloved freedom fighters who read the other kind of Marx (you know, the one who copped William M. Gaines' look) were the ones who pulled those little parties off.

It goes back to the culture of victimization. The Left loves victims. Heaven knows it's created plenty of them. Without victims, there's no excuse for the Left. It's the sort of thing that keeps arsonists like Jesse Jackson in business.

And then again, there was that little party in Wannsee that Churchill conveniently forgot about when denying that extermination of the Jews was Nazi policy. You know, the one that HBO did the movie about (and quite well, I might add. They actually filmed it where it happened). It's documented, pal. In their own words. Remember, the Boche were quite meticulous about keeping records. Nothing happened during that time frame in Festung Europa without approval from the top, so we can either "believe" Ward Churchill or Gudrun Burwitz that their idols had no such evil intentions. Some company you keep, Ward.

Interesting enough how most of Hitler's relatives who survived the war changed their name and kept a very low profile to distance themselves from their infamous kin. Perhaps they know something Ward Churchill doesn't.

Then again, I suspect that the average eight year old child has more common sense and understanding of history than Ward Churchill.

I suppose he will eventually disappear under a rock in the same manner as another odious academic, Leonard Jeffries. As long as he's being an attention whore, he's in the sights of all men of good will.

Stuff like this is what I'm paying into 529s for? I suppose that we will always be burdened with the likes of the curricula that spawn pseudo-intellectuals such as Churchill until such time as academe realizes that such courses of instruction do absolutely nothing to prepare a student for the real world, however, the mundane realities of the trading floor, back office, or other such wealth generating places are too "unempowering" for the likes of the professional victim.

Completely unrelated, I've added links in the template for some of the malware / hijack recovery tools and will keep those updated.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

 

It Was 41 Years Ago Today


Still unbelievably cool. What an unbelievable impact those first few moments had. How many revolutions were started that night when Ed Sullivan said, "Ladies and Gentlemen, The Beatles!"..

This was probably snapped during "Till There Was You" judging by the chords John and George are playing, and by taking a close look at Ringo (no hi-hat or cymbals; if you watch the clip of "I Want To Hold Your Hand" from later in the show, you hear some fantastic ride cymbal work from Ringo on the "And when I touch you...." bit during the crane shot).

And you do realize that Sir Paul was playing that exact same Hofner you see in the picture above on Sunday night at the Super Bowl. Just as live as he was this wonderful night, 41 years ago. If you don't have the DVD, buy it.

Finally, welcome The Smallest Minority to the blogroll. Great takes on the Second Amendment and the poor state of education in this country. Great stuff.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

 

Impiety n. Your irreverence toward my deity

Update: It turned out to be the router (an SMC Barricade) after all. Replaced it with a Linksys and all's working well. Funny, it's usually the other way around where I see Linksys routers replaced with SMCs; the failure mode was really puzzling here, as you'd expect the thing to either completely work or completely fail when it came to DNS resolution - the only thing that would be in a home router would be a stub resolver anyway. But speaking of which, the fine folks at NTCanuck.com came up with a solution called TreeWalk DNS, which is a Win32 service based on BIND that will actually do iterative queries instead of just crapping out like the normal brain-dead MSFT client. I'm curious to try it in a corporate LAN environment to see if it handles that normally, or if it needs to be disabled. I'm sure most of my clients would be extremely unhappy to see a laptop querying ROOT-A from inside their networks.....

It turns out my frummie friend's laptop is fine. I brought it here over to Schloss Scheisse, plugged it into my router and voila, every site that couldn't be accessed before came up quickly and cleanly. We decided to try a new router just in case, and I sent my friend home with a care package from Staples. I've never heard of a home router rewriting DNS flag fields, so I doubt this'll work, but it's the last resort before screaming bloody murder to the cable company. However, my friend put me on the hook for writing a technical report about l'affaire just in case it has to go to the Public Service Commission. Brings up an interesting question in that I really wonder why there isn't some flag in the registry that could be set to allow iterative client queries. I know, stub resolvers keep things a lot less complicated, but it would be nice to have just in case your friendly local caching DNS server is farked, as I strongly suspect the server supporting my friend's subnet is.


 

Err, v.i.: To believe or act in a way contrary to my beliefs and actions

A business meeting slash troubleshooting exercise takes up most of today, along with trying to cancel another meeting that's scheduled for tomorrow due to lack of interest (in other words, Esteemed Client and Crack Sales Team have finally gotten the idea that the current messy engagement is over and done with, however, an external vendor is still trying to resuscitate the dead horse).

In the quasi-Darwin department, we note this article on Slashdot about Kazaa logging downloads. What do you want to bet that there will be some white knight who steps into the situation and resolves it quickly and quietly with liberal applications of lucre, and then the RIAA will go on a total rampage with the information that it coincidentally obtained from said white knight?

Possibly more later, depending on meeting results.

Monday, February 07, 2005

 

Today's Day By Day Strip


I read this strip every day, right after Dilbert. Mosey on over to Day By Day and check out Chris' incisive commentary.

 

Cudgel, n. A medicine for external application to the head and shoulders of a fool

On the good news front, the 30-day test drive of SpySubtract (from Intermute, the current owners of CWShredder) seems to have cured the problem with the Mrs.' computer. It picked up a few folders and registry keys that were seemingly unrelated (I looked at them manually and there was nothing there that looked like any sort of redirector), but after a couple of scans in normal and safe mode, the beast looks slain.

A bit more research has shown that Megago's Delaware address is actually that of an outfit called "Delaware Registry", a company that facilitates incorporations in Delaware for tax purposes. One of Delaware Registry's services is mail forwarding for a small fee, payable in advance. However, process service will be forwarded to the client as part of their value add.

The State of Delaware provides the following information for free:

File Number: 3161680
Incorporation Date / Formation Date: 02/10/2000(mm/dd/yyyy)
Entity Name: MEGAGO.COM INC.
Entity Kind: CORPORATION
Entity Type: GENERAL
Residency: DOMESTIC
State: DE
REGISTERED AGENT INFORMATION
Name: HARVARD BUSINESS SERVICES, INC.
Address: 25 GREYSTONE MANOR
City: LEWES
County: SUSSEX
State: DE
Postal Code: 19958
Phone: (302)645-7400

The State of Delaware only will provide listings of recent filings and status online, no imaging of documents. If I want to actually find out the names and addresses of the directors of the corporation, I have to call the Delaware Division of Corporations to order a copy of an annual report, no doubt at some considerable expense.

Therein lies a minor rant. I have no doubt, since Delaware's Chancery Court has been known to be very defendant-friendly when the defendants have been Delaware corporations, that there is a bit of intentional obfuscation on the part of Delaware in making it difficult to quickly find out detailed information about corporations. There are many imaging solutions out there that could serve public inquiry needs, and this stuff can be sent to hierarchical storage to avoid the hassles of keeping it totally online. I wouldn't mind paying the ten or twenty bucks and waiting a minute or so for the info to be brought back up from a COLD system if I could get the detailed info quickly, without going through voice mail jail.

Of course, since any entity can form a corporation in Delaware, that means that another corporation could have formed Megago (and probably did), leading to the perception that any detailed detective work will stop dead at the receptionist's desk at any of these corporate agents and facilitators.

Megago's LA address is a Mail Boxes Etc. Why am I not surprised?

Digging into the matter a bit more, I find that the source of the original infection is a web site maintained by an outfit that registered the mistyped name that the Mrs. originally went to. The deliberate typo name was registered by someone in Gdansk, Poland, and registered, somewhat unsurprisingly by Tucows. The IP address comes up as being in Cogent's address space.

Finally, congratulations to the Patriots on their Super Bowl win. The first half, well, I've seen better games, but it spoke well for both teams' defense. The Eagles deserve kudos as well. Both Brady and McNabb are fine quarterbacks. And wasn't that the shortest version of "Hey Jude" ever performed during the halftime show (but Sir Paulie's band sounded great - I liked the way his guitarist pulled off the slide bit on "Drive My Car", with the slide on his ring finger no less)


Sunday, February 06, 2005

 

Schweinhund Of The Week Award

We're introducing a new semi-irregular feature today, the Schweinhund Of The Week, to be awarded to the person or entity who has aggravated me the most in the previous ill-defined time period. While Ward Churchill and our Crack Sales Team would've been the prime contenders for this award prior to last evening, the dubious honor, along with all the rights, privileges and immunities conferred by it actually is a tie this week. The winners are a slimeball search site called Megago, and none other than our friends in Redmond.

Our friends in Redmond win the award for their idiotic architecture decisions that so closely coupled the default browser to the operating system, and left said browser, in the name of "extensibility" vulnerable to any number of malware infections.

We now turn to Megago. First, let's look at their whois info.:
Whois info for, megago.com:
Registrant:
MegaGO.com Inc.
3511 Silverside Road
Suite 105
Wilmington, DE 19810
US
Domain name: MEGAGO.COM
Administrative Contact:
Hostmaster, Hostmaster www@37.net
3511 Silverside Road
Suite 105
Wilmington, DE 19810
US
310-203-6699
Technical Contact:
Hostmaster, Hostmaster www@37.net
P.O.Box 480167
Los Angeles, CA 90048
US
310-203-6699
Registrar of Record: TUCOWS, INC.
Record last updated on 29-Dec-2003.
Record expires on 20-Feb-2010.
Record created on 20-Feb-1999.
Domain servers in listed order:
NS.ZF.NET 205.216.134.37
DNS.ZF.NET 216.102.246.43
NS2.WEBJUMP.COM 205.216.134.242
Domain status: REGISTRAR-LOCK


I will bet money that the Delaware address is a post box rental establishment. Doing a reverse lookup on the phone number we can't find any listing for the company, so I'll bet it's a phony. The NPA-NXX for the phone number shows it in West Los Angeles and Beverly Hills. The zip code on the California address points to LA and West Hollywood. Googling the phone number shows that Pini.net and Coinc.com are also registered to what seems to be the same entity, an outfit called Zahav.net, with a different address in Delaware. Zahav has the exact same registration information at Tucows. Taking a look at 37.net (for the e-mail addys of the ahem, contacts), we find:

Whois info for, 37.net:
Registrant:
USGO.com Inc.
914 Westwood Blvd.
No. 177
Los Angeles, CA 90024
US
Domain name: 37.NET
Administrative Contact:
Hostmaster, Hostmaster www@37.net
914 Westwood Blvd.
No. 177
Los Angeles, CA 90024
US
310-209-8004
Technical Contact:
Hostmaster, Hostmaster www@37.net
914 Westwood Blvd.
No. 177
Los Angeles, CA 90024
US
310-209-8004
Registration Service Provider:
USGO Inc., www@37.net
310-203-6699
This company may be contacted for domain login/passwords,
DNS/Nameserver changes, and general domain support questions.
Registrar of Record: TUCOWS, INC.
Record last updated on 21-Oct-2004.
Record expires on 03-May-2005.
Record created on 03-May-1999.
Domain servers in listed order:
NS26B.SBC-WEBHOSTING.COM 216.173.237.47
NS26A.SBC-WEBHOSTING.COM 216.173.237.28
Domain status: REGISTRAR-LOCK

I'd bet money we're also looking at a post box rental place in LA based on this.

The phone number is unpublished, based on several reverse lookups. No legitimate business hides itself that way. I'm somewhat inclined to spring for the Intelius search for fifteen bucks to publish the slimeball's info (although with my luck it's behind several cut outs or there's no legitimate info).

Why am I hot under the collar about Megago and its associated entities? Because I spent most of last evening fixing the Mrs.' computer again (which had been immunized with every anti-spyware tool recommended on the various forums), trying to defeat a typo hijacker. Ad-Aware, Spybot and CWShredder all reported the system as completely clean. Nothing funky in the HijackThis log, all recognized stuff. Redid them all in Safe Mode, the box reported clean. There were no popups happening, but IE was painfully slow on her machine, and if she mistyped an URL, she was directed to Megago.com, instead of the MSN autosearch. I went into Tools/Options and tried turning off the autosearch, and I've got a very nice indication in IE and the registry that autosearch is indeed disabled. I deliberately entered a typo, and sure enough I was back at Megago. It was time to dig into the registry at that point, HKLM/Software/Microsoft/Internet Explorer being picked over with a fine tooth comb, then a deep dive into HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion until 4am. Comme ce dit en Francais, gornisht. Nothing out of the ordinary.

I gave up and hit the sack, and returned to the machine after a restless couple of hours. I'm the kind of person who hates to leave a problem unsolved. I rebooted the machine, and horrors, it was blue screening loading IOS (it's a WinME box). I was getting seriously pissed at this point, and fortunately I was able to get to Safe Mode and run System Restore (there were quite a few heart-stopping moments during that one). I brought the machine back to Tuesday's restore point, the last known good one before Megago appeared. Once I had connectivity back up (that PC is on a wireless connection, and it was being a bit recalcitrant at finding the access point, but another reboot fixed that), I downloaded Firefox and told my wife not to hit the little blue "e" anymore. Unsurprisingly, the machine has been absolutely flying with IE not having been started.

I suspect that the problem is a Peper trojan variant, but I will be darned if I can find it. PeperFix doesn't work. I may try about:buster, but I doubt that's the problem. I'll probably just point www dot megago dot com to 127.0.0.1 in the Hosts file as a temporary fix (Like I said, I really hate to leave a problem unsolved; I'm not Motti The Mechanic).

Unfortunately there isn't a lot that's easily findable about Megago. One Hosts file provider describes them aptly as a typo squatter, but since I've disabled autosearch (at least that's what IE and the registry say), I should just get a simple not found page.

Since there are no pop-ups, I'm ahead of the game, but this thing was immunized according to best practices (there's that consulting lingo again). I'm unsurprised, given that Former Esteemed Client, an Extremely Large Financial Services Company with a tightly locked down Win2K desktop and strong content filtering, had one desktop that was completely infested and unusable thanks to a naive foreign consultant whose main experience was with MVS clicking on Free Scratch And Win. Mr. Gates, instead of trying to track down these people who are poking holes in his wares like thinly sliced cheese and putting them into his QA department, has merely given marching orders to his minions to spread FUD about Linux to protect his market share.

To summarize this rant:

I'm going back to bed.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

 

Client, n: A person who has made the customary choice between the two methods of being legally robbed

Getting back to myself after the craziness of the last couple of days (not often you have both a business crisis and a medical procedure to deal with simultaneously, although amazingly enough this isn't the first time it's happened; I had a particularly intrusive medical test a few years back and was feeling a bit under the weather after the event. I ensconced myself in bed and tried to sleep it off upon my return home when the phone began to ring incessantly. It turned out to be a colleague desperately trying to get me to participate in a conference call where my subject matter expertise was required. I had no warning of this call, and the gentleman in question had spent the entire morning attempting to track me down. Still partially under the influence of opiates, I joined the call and added absolutely no value whatsoever to the proceedings. I drew some flak for this, with the Sales Types demanding to know why We Didn't Put Out Best Foot Forward. One Sales Type actually had the temerity to demand an explanation of why I wasn't available earlier to help them strategize. I described in very explicit terms what I had just undergone and he still didn't get it).

I reviewed "Jeff Barry & Friends - Chapel Of Love" on Blogcritics last night. Dreadful little DVD. Rather sad because it's got some of my favorite songs and performers on there, but as I noted on Blogcritics, it's more suited to a tour of Florida condos than a real rock and roll celebration. The backup band was utterly toothless. Funny when you think of some of the backup bands playing for 50s and 60s vocal acts - sometimes they're inappropriately heavy (think of Chubby Checker's backup band in "Let The Good Times Roll") or astonishingly wimpy as in this DVD or any number of PBS specials (the big exception being a PBS special from the early 80s featuring Darlene Love and Lesley Gore; Roy Buchanan was the leader of the backup band. You can easily recognize this show as Ms. Gore has a cast on her wrist).

A couple of interesting books have crossed my desk in the last few days. "By The Neck Until Dead: The Gallows Of Nuremberg" is the story of a US Army officer charged with organizing the executions of Nazi war criminals. While the writing isn't the greatest, the story is indeed interesting and it debunks some myths that have grown over the years, but I think the most important part was the author's telling of how American soldiers in post-war Germany were subject to snipers and other murder attempts by "Werewolves". Most instructive for the LLL idiots who don't understand that our soldiers are going to be attacked in Iraq by elements that cannot accept regime change and democracy. It's a good vindication of Sgt. John Woods, as well.

Some of you may have noticed that I've titled a lot of my recent posts with Ambrose Bierce quotes, and I've finally picked up a copy of "The Unabridged Devil's Dictionary". This is a book that belongs with the best of American literature, it's up there with the best of Twain for my money. Between Bierce and Mencken I have enough cynicism to keep me in chuckles for years (although Mencken's nastiness was not of the contrived sort in certain cases, it was real personal animosity in some circumstances, eliminating the independence of the curmudgeon, and lessening him to a mere bigot).

"Luftwaffe Over America" will scare the hell out of you. Like "Target America" and "Sanger: Germany's Orbital Rocket Bomber in World War II" this recounting of Vergeltungswaffen and the plans to use them against the US will sober anyone up into thinking that our shores weren't being probed and tested for attack before 9/11. A good addition to your military history library.

In other news, CNN this morning reports:

UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Friday he was "shocked" by an initial investigative report that found the man in charge of the U.N. oil-for-food program made illicit oil deals.


"We do not want this shadow to hang over the U.N. So we want to get to the bottom of it, get to the truth and take appropriate measures to deal with the gaps," he told reporters at U.N. headquarters in New York.





Friday, February 04, 2005

 

Still Alive And Kicking

I'm writing this while listening to a dreadful conference call where some of the key participants are totally inaudible, and our Crack Sales Team is doing their level best to control the situation and manipulate things to their advantage. I had a minor medical procedure done yesterday and am still feeling the aftereffects, but since I got an emergency phone call that I simply must be on this call lest there be some cataclysmic impact (read as, the project is closing down, everybody knows It Ain't Gonna Work, but our Crack Sales Team simply can't pass up an opportunity to try to persuade the client to do something that will reflect positively on their P&L).

One of our Crack Sales Team has just made the extremely annoying point that he has Super Bowl tickets. This is the same person who likes to crow about his membership (provided through Respected Employer no doubt) at a very well known golf club (it's on the PGA tour) and being rather snarky about how often he gets to play (as I think of my very underused clubs and my astronomical handicap). The discussion has veered off topic at this point, now talking about a CRM system totally irrelevant to what we were trying to do, and it's also getting down to business processes (which they should've done in the first place).

Ask me if I care.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

 

More Gibson Madness

The new Les Paul Deluxe reissue at Musician's Friend.

Notice the prices. Black and red are $1499. A goldtop is $1999. I don't know who's crazier, Gibson, MF, or us for paying these kind of prices. Darn tootin that the goldtop is the finish to have in a Deluxe, but not at half a kilobuck more than the same guitar in another paint job.

Insanity.......

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

 

Class Act Last Night On Letterman


Glad to see Doc and Tommy back together one more time.



 

Down for a few days

Some work and personal matters demand my full attention for the next two or three days, so it's likely there won't be any posts until Saturday (although it's possible I might have some bandwidth on Friday for a quick post), unless something extraordinary happens. No problems per se, just things that require my full attention.

Hamilton College got the message loud and clear about Ward Churchill's appearance, and undoubtedly the LLL will squawk loudly about the infringement of free speech. All together now, free speech does not equal license. Mr. Churchill has been exposed for the vicious bigot that he is, and it seems not entirely coincidental that there is a high correlation between service in an Ethnic Studies department and some form of prejudice against other ethnicities. His specious rants will undoubtedly be publicized for a brief period, then they will fade into leftist obscurity land.

Someone over at Fark is a pretty poor editor, as they greenlighted a link to a story about the woman in Germany allegedly being coerced into being a prostitute lest she lose her unemployment benefits. The link was to David Irving's site, a person who like Ward Churchill, is a nasty revisionist (and the admittedly forced pun is intentional). I suppose it's testimony to the poor excuse for an education that most people have, neither learning to read critically nor to analyze what is presented, thus nasty gobbledygook like which flows from sewers such as Ward Churchill and David Irving frequently reaches a wider audience. The wider audience will generally recognize the garbage for what it is, yet there's always the bell curve in action and some of those on the wrong side of the median will be exposed to yet another theory that validates their own crackpot existence, and possibly gains a convert for the spewers of hate.

Interesting blurb at CNET about Skype. Quite possible the ILECs will be very unhappy about this, once it becomes ubiquitously downloaded. I would imagine that you'll see traffic engineering designed to push Skype packets way down to the bottom of the priority queue on the routers.

Finally, decided to patz around with FreeBSD on VMWare to see if it's a worthy alternative to Linux. I've already run up against one limitation, FreeBSD 5.x doesn't work with VMWare Workstation 4.0.x, so I've decided to download 4.11 and see if that works out. The docs make X Server configuration look a tad unpleasant, sort of like in the early Linux distro days, but given that it's VMWare, I won't hurt the hardware. The next experiment will try Solaris X86 under VMWare, however, that one will surely prove problematic, as we'll need Linux emulation installed to run VMWare Tools, and I doubt that I'll get a totally satisfactory GUI out of it. I would imagine I'll have better luck with Solaris 8 than 9, but until I upgrade my VMWare to 4.5, I'm unsure of whether it'll even install.

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