Wednesday, July 27, 2005

 

Apologies

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

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

Un-fucking real....

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

 

RIP Jimmy Doohan


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


RIP.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

 

Overrated Music

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

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

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

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

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

More later....

Monday, July 18, 2005

 

In The Throwing Out The Baby With The Bathwater Department

Cross-posted to Blogcritics.

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

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


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


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


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

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

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

Thursday, July 14, 2005

 

Sometimes a bit of bile is necessary....

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

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


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


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


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


Vivian Darroch-Lozowski

Toronto, July 13, 2005



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

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

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

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


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


Patrick Devery

Bronx, July 12, 2005



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

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

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

 

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

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

 

Tout insignifiant avec une touche de travail

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

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

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

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

Friday, July 08, 2005

 

Keine gut, heute.....

Quietly raging over yesterday's events in London. Plenty of condemnations, no actions from our alleged leaders. If some people with stones were running the show, there'd be a few daisy cutters dropping into places like Medina and Qom (notice how every place the Islamofascists have is a "holy" or "sacred" place....) to get the point across to the mullahs who fan the fires of this thing that we have and will use the power to hurt them badly if they hurt our innocents. However, realpolitik strikes again and there'll be nothing done to address the situation - after all, we have to keep the banlieus quiet, non?

And consider this interesting factoid - Paris Hilton's great-aunt is Zsa Zsa Gabor.....

Thursday, July 07, 2005

 

You say it's your birthday...

And the happiest of birthdays to Richard Starkey, MBE. Many, many, more, good friend.



And if you want to feel old - today is Ringo's 65th.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

 

All the problems we face in the United States today can be traced to an unenlightened immigration policy on the part of the American Indian.

Lots of work stuff this week and next, with the dreaded semi-annual assessment process (in other words, the window dressing that the HR vermin go through in order to justify not giving you any increase because you're above the mean for your "peers") also interfering with my life and sleep patterns. The work stuff is actually very interesting, with some interesting comparisons and blueprinting for the enterprise services bus architecture for my current project. I must give Sun an attaboy for their excellent Java docs and downloads, as I really haven't been on the development side of an SOA before (I haven't done serious development work in years, although I can still code C with the best of them - it's just that I've never had the time, inclination or for that matter the opportunity to do anything with Java other than install Weblogic, Websphere, Oracle, Tomcat and all of the other various toys written in Java; I made a half-hearted attempt at trying to get an applet to work from the Visual Studio Java compiler - I know, I know - some years ago and I couldn't get it to run no matter how hard I tried). Needless to say I will be doing some boning up on various Java related things this week (JAX-RPC and DOM processing of XML docs) so the blog once again takes a back seat.

I've been playing with some of the PD content management systems to put together some internal portals to mess around with for things such as RSS feeds from our various system statuses (I have access to the good stuff, thanks to site licenses at work, but they're a pain to install and configure, so it boiled down to a few PD choices - the current one under test is Xoops, which isn't bad, but I'll reserve opinions after I finish playing with a few more. So far I like Xoops and Mambo, and PHP-Nuke is up shortly for test).

Upcoming short take reviews will be on the Redwalls and Blue Van CDs, plus the first Montrose album.

Monday, July 04, 2005

 

Short Takes

A couple of quick mini-reviews for today - first being the Eagles' "Farewell 1 Tour - Live From Melbourne" DVD. I'm not a big Eagles fan by any stretch of the imagination but as I was standing in line at Borders with the subject of the second review here the DVD caught my eye and I decided to take a chance on it. Don Felder's no longer with the band, however, the replacement guitarist is certainly competent. The thing that positively intrigued me was seeing a couple of James Gang classics in the set list, and being an old James Gang / Joe Walsh fan way before Hotel California I thought it would be very cool to see them played live (how many times on the old bar band circuit did we hear "Walk Away" - I finally learned to play it the right way just recently; Walsh does some very funky stuff on that original record). I popped the first DVD in and navigated straight to "Walk Away", and I hate to say it, that great classic was presented in a totally wimpified laid back Eagles arrangement. I should've suspected something was up when I saw Walsh playing a Strat on it. Funk #49 was no better, with horns playing the lead part (inexcusable - Walsh really does play well on this show when he's given a chance to cut loose). The Eagles' stuff is well performed and tight - "Already Gone" being a particular favorite of mine. It's just that it's the Eagles - if you prefer California Pizza Kitchen to the genuine article I guess that's fine.

DVD #2 is the exact antithesis of the laid-back Eagles show (which to its credit did have many gratuitous audience shots of well-endowed women with low-cut tops) - a smoking "Live at Montreux 1990" by Gary Moore. The former Thin Lizzy axeman works his way through a great blues set (including a few numbers with Albert Collins as a guest). Particular highlights for me were "The Stumble" and "All Your Love" - great takes on the John Mayall versions of those two classics ("All Your Love" on this DVD certainly cuts the version on Mayall's 70th birthday concert offering). The closer of the set is Moore's take on Roy Buchanan's "The Messiah Will Come Again", one of those set pieces that you would've thought was impossible to cover (quick, name a cover version of "She Loves You"), but unsurprisingly Moore absolutely blazes through the song and makes it his own (while making me not want to look at either my Les Paul or Telecaster for a few weeks). The bonus tracks include Moore's own "Parisienne Walkways", another tour de force for this underrated guitarist. Recommended (it was on sale this weekend at my local Borders for ten bucks - if you happen to be near Borders, see if they've got it at that price; you can't get hurt, as they say).

Finally, a Happy Fourth of July to all - have a safe, fun holiday....

Sunday, July 03, 2005

 

I was at this restaurant. The sign said "Breakfast Anytime." So I ordered French Toast in the Renaissance.

For someone who thought no new posts until Tuesday I'm sure loquacious (perhaps the simple act of relaxing away from the rather busy times at work is opening the creative spigot a bit), but needless to say I felt the urge to comment a bit on the Live 8 concerts. Point blank, other than happening upon the tail end of Brian Wilson's performance (which royally amused me as he stepped away from his keyboard and gave the audience a stiff-armed salute; I'm sure it was quite unintentional but I inwardly chuckled as it was right in the heart of Berlin - looked like the Tiergarten to me), I didn't watch any of it and I had no desire to.

Oh sure, there were plenty of dinosaur acts for me, but I was quite unprepared to listen to some pompous ass on either MTV or VH1 pontificate on just how much it means. It doesn't mean shit. It's a bunch of multimillionaires alleviating their guilt at their good fortune by being horrifically preachy and telling us that we're the biggest swine if we don't immediately cancel all of Africa's debt and pour a significant chunk of our GNPs into the continent because of all the bad we cause by being consumers (except for all of the petrodistillates that go into compact disk production of course).

I've known many folks from Africa who've come to the NY area. Invariably, they are good, industrious, religious folk who are assets to this country. Invariably, they've all told me what kind of a toilet Africa is and how every place there is ruled by some piss-ant despot who doesn't fail to steal every dime produced by the industrious people as well as the foreign aid blindly shipped in by well-meaning, naive Westerners. Does the name Robert Mugabe ring a bell? There are cultures where thievery is ingrained (a good friend of mine from college is originally from Nigeria, and he always regaled me with tales of how corrupt the place is). Until there's a sea change in the attitudes in Africa, aid money spent there will go to any cause designed to line the pockets of the despots and their apparatchiks, or be stolen by people whose only objective is to separate money from its owners or intended recipients.

I don't have a huge desire to see most of the acts on the bill (I really wish that Mr. Combs and Mrs. Ritchie would pull a Judge Crater; other acts such as Snoop Dogg are merely worthy of ignoring in my opinion) so I don't want to waste any of my time actively seeking new musical horizons here (I've heard good things about some new groups called The Redwalls and The Blue Van, neither of which are on the bill, so I'll put my energies into checking them out). As far as seeing Macca, well, I can pull out lots of DVDs with Macca on them where there's far less pontificating going on. These shows aren't the Bangladesh concert - George wisely kept the preachiness to a short dose before the show and a brief film during intermission. Twelve hours worth of four songs with lots of bombastic rhetoric about how horrible we are interspersed didn't seem like a fun way to spend my Saturday.

Now if they had the Gert Jonnys band on, I might've taken a look.....

Saturday, July 02, 2005

 

New Blogroll Addition

Although it's not a blog per se, Ben Edelman's site is one of the most valuable resources out there for the dissection and analysis of spyware and malware. Please welcome him to the blogroll, and visit often.

Friday, July 01, 2005

 

Gert Jonnys!

Someone brought up really bad band photos in a thread on one of my favorite forums, and hands-down, the winner was this bunch of wild and crazy guys from Sweden, the Gert Jonnys:

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You really have to admire these characters for having the stones to actually be photographed in those Santa's Workshop Meets Bad Polka Band outfits, not to mention the seriously goofy looks, everyone looking in a different direction, and hair styles that have been condemned by Amnesty International and the Red Cross.

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Here we see the band in one of its more conservative moments, however, we note again the photographer doesn't seem to know how to gain the attention of his subjects or there are some serious distractions in the room (if these guys have groupies......)

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A final sartorial nightmare from the Gert Jonnys band. I couldn't resist and did a bit of research about this band, and other than the few other posts out there recognizing them for supreme achievement in the field of bad taste in apparel not to mention courage under fire, as near as I can dope out from the one article in Swedish that seems to recount their tale, they were a local dance music outfit in (as far as I can tell!) the Goteborg region who played occasional residencies in places like the Canary Islands. The leader was Gert Jonny Hansson, the husky fellow with the extremely bad pompadour. Apparently Hansson left the band in the early 80s (these photos date to the 70s, surprise, surprise) and the band is still playing together with a new kappelmeister named Freddy - they can be found and booked here. They've got some real toe-tappers on their various albums, I'm particularly fond of "Jag vill ge dig en dag" and"Jag vill ge dig min sång", along with their lively rendition of "Good Golly Miss Molly".

Still, someone's got to track down Gert Jonny Hansson. We've got to get these guys back together and in front of an audience - I'd actually pay good money to see that!

Cöme see the scenic mööse....

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