Wednesday, October 26, 2005

How much SPAM do you get?

Main Yahoo! account
Created in 1998 and still my primary mail account. Used exclusively before anti-SPAM measures used.

  • 7 to 15 SPAM messages each day
  • 120 to 300 messages delivered to Bulk Mail each day
  • Most SPAMs contain previous mailing addresses, usually in reference to mortgage rates

Alternative Yahoo! account
Created in late 2000 and used heavily from 2000 through 2002, rarely used anymore.

  • 3 to 7 SPAM's each clean out
  • roughly 800 messages delivered to Bulk Mail when I clean it out each week.

Work account
Used rarely externally, anti-spam protection used.

  • Occasional SPAM.

Spam account
From Spam Gourmet. Used heavily for all external mail.

  • Your message stats: 664 forwarded, 306 eaten. You have 87 disposable address(es).
  • The most SPAM to this account comes from online newspapers, SBC, the SPAM address, and the "gaming" account I set up for my kid.

GMail account
Rarely used. Publicly available on one message board.

  • No SPAM yet.

Insight Road Runner
Never used.

  • Occasional SPAM.
  • One account somehow got onto a mailing list for a bunch of religous wackos (mistaken identity, they thought I was somebody else); still get occasional mail from them.

This blog

  • Five SPAM.
  • No SPAM since message validation was turned on.

I've had to clean up my girlfriend's computer once due to eMail viruses (keylogger and phisher). I've been saved at least three times from viruses that work in Explorer but do not work in or are neutralized by the Opera browser.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

"2 Fast 2 Furious" 2 annoying

I watched a DVD the other day with the missus, "2 Fast 2 Furious", a rental the kid selected. Wow, DVD's are starting to become annoying. The "2 Fast 2 Furious" DVD was by far the most annoying of the all. This DVD forces you to sit through three or four previews (I was too furious to remember) before you get to the copyright warning, which sits for the mandatory 15-30 seconds. Then you have to pick your car color from a menu before you get to the next menu. To play the actual movie you have to sit through another ten to fifteen seconds of unnecessary cut scenes and fancy menu transitions.

What is this? Why, why, why

I want to watch a movie, not be forced to sit through previews for movies I'll never watch. That's why I got the DVD, so I don't have to sit through six to eight previews at the damned theater. I'm just glad this wasn't a DVD that I have purchased

Regarding DVD content:

  1. if a DVD is going to have previews either a) if you are going to jam them in front of the movie then allow the viewer to fast forward or go directly to the menu; b) place the previews on the menu and allow the viewer to select them if he or she wishes to.
  2. keep the animation on the menus to a minimum; go from element to element instead of forcing the viewer to sit through six to ten seconds of animated transitions
  3. make the menus fairly easy to view, navigate and read – I hate having to go down, down, down, down, down, right to get to the next menu page; can't we simply have a linear up-and-down menu, or how about numbers?
  4. how about bypassing the menu altogether – assume that if the viewer puts a DVD in the player they want to watch the movie and if they want the menu to view extras take them there after the movie or let them press the menu button.

One thing I am curious about; what to people think about putting the full screen version on the flip side of the wide-screen version. I like this idea for two reasons:

  1. it eliminates the confusion and innocent ignorance for gift givers; some who might not know the difference between the two
  2. I have a wide screen projection television in my room and picture-in-picture on my LCD monitor (so I can watch stuff while programming or writing in my blog) which looks much better with full-screen movies

By the way, the movie was average – not worth a rental but not so painful that it required therapy afterwards.

Friday, October 21, 2005

My first PHP "framework"

I just wrote my first "framework" in PHP5. Granted it is very, very bare but it marks a radical change from the way I used to develop in PHP (just after the dinosaurs died off and everything still had a .PHP3 extension on it). Now before I get skewered for not doing this in .NET or not using an existing framework or not embracing Java (Java server pages and EJB's) or really following object oriented programming and the MVC methodology strictly to the letter let me just state that I am part systems programmer, part application developer, part database programmer, etc. There is just too much for my brain to process and I like to do things that to me make straight-forward sense.

I started with the controller; which is simply index.php with defines and requires. The required includes are:

  • Init
  • Common functions and classes
  • Templates
  • Actions
  • Done

The init code sets globals and not much else.

The common code will define common functions and classes used by all other nuggets of code.

The template code defines a parent class for common template properties (like title), methods for handling caching generated body output, methods for raw text input, and methods for common manipulation of buffered data.

The actions code handles the requests, dispatching them to separate included files. Some includes will be sub-structured depending upon common requirements. Some actions are ID based, like "show" and "wiki" and "test". Each included module will create one of the child template objects (defined above).

The "done" code will clean up any common messes, which isn't much.

One of the things I do not like about most frameworks written for PHP is they always define classes and variables even if they will never be used during the GET. For example, if no database access is performed then why include the database code to define the classes and variables, or worse yet – make a database connection. The only time this should happen is if every single page generated by the framework has some database element.

One reason why I'm attempting to keep things straight forward and simple is because eventually my host will force me to be limited and simple. Having Apache2 and PHP5 running on my workstation with full access to our Oracle system and SQL servers and mySQL locally (if I want) is wonderful. If I copy this to my own domain, however, I might not have the luxury of even mySQL being available.

The important thing is I learned something and it works for me (so far). All I need to do is "pretty" it up with some CSS and fill in the setHead and setAss methods of the XHTML child class and I'll be happy. Oh well, it's late on a Friday - I should be going home now. Have a nice weekend everybody!

Bumper stickers

from work

Bumper stickers we would like to see...

  • The proctologist called ... They found your head.
  • Everyone has a photographic memory ... Some just don't have any film.
  • Save your breath... You'll need it to blow up your date.
  • Your ridiculous little opinion has been noted.
  • Impotence... Nature's way of saying "No hard feelings!"
  • I Used to have a handle on life... But it broke off.
  • WANTED: Meaningful overnight relationship.
  • Guys ... just because you have one, Doesn't mean you have to be one.
  • Some people just don't know how to drive... I call these people "Everybody But Me,"
  • Heart Attacks...God's revenge for eating His animal friends
  • Don't like my driving? Then quit watching me.
  • Jesus loves you... But everyone else thinks you are an ass.
  • If you can read this... Then I can slam on my brakes and sue you!
  • Some people are only alive because it is illegal to shoot them.
  • Try not to let your mind wander... It is too small and fragile to be out by itself.
  • Hang up and drive!!!
  • Welcome to America... Now speak English!!!

Ubuntu "Breezy Badger"

I received a copy of Ubuntu Linux "Breezy Badger" (must suppress Holy Grail jokes) to play around with an install on a spare IBM ThinkCentre Model 8183-36U here at work. The live CD booted fine and the distribution appeared "human" enough to use so I decided to install it.

The GRUB boot loader does not seem to want to work off the hard drive, apparently others are having some problems as well (just with AMD64 machines). The loader stalls dead at the GRUB loadings stage1.5 text. To get around this you have to <Go Back> after it ejects the CD when the first stage of installation is complete, choose "Install the LILO boot loader on a hard disk" (the CD will remount), eject the CD then reboot. The install does work with LILO.

During the second stage of installation there were a couple ACPI error messages (hmmm) and some Bluetooth informational messages. This is being picky but personally I don't want to see those messages on the same screen location as the installation status windows; it looks poor and you lose information when the windows update.

Total installation time on a Pentium 2.8 GHz computer was about sixty minutes or so.

Other notes:

  • The root account is disabled by install, the user created during the installation has administrative rights on the system and can run programs as root with sudo using only their normal user password.
  • The software update manager is pretty nice.
  • I don't personally have a preference between Gnome and KDE desktops, In fact I've always thought the whole fight between the two is just as stupid as some Linux vs. Microsoft and Mac vs. the World arguments. The earth tones on the desktop are pleasing to the eye if not a tad small even for me on the 19" LCD
  • The Starter Guide is a good place to start (well, duh).

I'll post more as I play with it more. One of the bad things about all of these Linux distributions is that it takes a good amount of time to play with them all to see which one works best. I wish the FreeBSD support would have been better in some areas because I felt at home compiling kernels and installing software by making it.

Quick shout out

Just a quick shout-out to the leather repair guy at Bigdog Motorcycles of Columbus (611 E. Broad Street Columbus, Ohio 43215) for fixing my leather jacket in 14 minutes instead of the 14 days and at half the cost of everybody else.

It's good people and services that make this country great a better place to live in.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Why the WWE sucks nowadays

My pro-wrasslin' viewing has gone from religious (i.e. every week) to occasional and I don't seem to care anymore. So I decided to list the top five reasons why I think my viewing habits have changed (it definitely isn't because I have matured).

1. They split brands (and didn't use them)

The "brand" split was desperately needed to adequately promote and make money off of a saturated roster. Unfortunately, the rosters for the tag-team division, cruiser-weight and the women's divisions suffered because they were smaller than the singles roster. Raw got the women's division, which did well at first but eventually fell to diva-ism. The cruisers went to Smackdown and were too few in numbers to make an impact and rarely were given a chance. The tag teams stayed in both brands, which meant one or two real "teams" plus whatever leftover singles wrasslers needed time getting paired with one another. Only with a few pay-per-view events do the two ever meet and I personally think they are missing out on a great opportunity to promote competition (and in turn material that spawns off and keeps the viewer interested).

2. They decimated the women's division

Remember about a year or two ago when the women's division was the best as far as overall wrestling? You had Molly Holly, Trish Stratus, Victoria, Gail Kim, Jackie and a couple others I'm forgetting. At that point in time they could have realistically been the main-event on Raw (I think they did, once). The point is: back in those days there was enough trust placed in the women to actually wrassle instead of valet. Lita bled, Victoria and Trish went hardcore. Then, without warning most of them were gone, replaced by a glorified bimbo contest. What's worse is that the WWE lucked on to a genuine talent in Christy Hemme; simply put the woman is nuts. An (arguably) attractive red-head willing to do anything (as an appearance on Howard Stern proved), with the persona to got nuts on everybody providing hours of story material and they literally do nothing with her.

3. There is little or no aspiration

Every wrassler should be aspiring to win gold at the highest level; a championship. The only exceptions to this rule would be the psychotic monster role (happy when hurting people, thus no need for gold) and the nemesis role keeping others from achieving success. Wrasslers nowadays get stuck in temporary storylines to get them to the next pay-per-view at which point that storyline will be forgotten altogether to build another feud for the next pay-per-view with little or no continuity. Only a few wrasslers are allowed to be part of title aspirations, most of the time to get to the next pay-per-view. This whole building of temporary feuds with no background to get to the next pay-per-view is ridiculous.

4. They decimated the tag team division

Tag-team wrasslin' has been an integral part of wrasslin' for years. From the Minnesota Wrecking Crew to the Road Warriors to the Dudley boys there have always been marketable icons in the tag-team realm. There are no viable tags teams left in the WWE. The only thing close is the "new" Legion of Doom with Heidenreich replacing the late "Hawk" and Christy in Paul's place. It's hard to build legendary tag teams when the talent for each is scrambled across two brands. It was just as hard back in the days when the The Hardys, The Dudleys and Edge and Christian were the central figures for years, buy they made it work.

5. New talent hasn't cut it (or been given the chance)

Week after week the people cutting the best promos and wrasslin the best matches are the veterans that have been in the business forever. Last week the 100 year old Rick Flair came out, bled to death twice over a suit, then went hunting Hunter with a baseball bat. He came across a legitimate whacko. Austin delivered another classic Austin promo. Kurt Angle is on the rampage. What is everybody else doing? People, myself included, are tuning out because we don't want to stay up on a Monday or watch TV on a Friday to watch Flair or Hogan carry a load because the rest of the roster cannot.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

My new house, five years later

Back in the year 2000 I went with one of the big name builders to build new house. It is now five years later and I can be fair commenting on it.

I know for a fact (from a former foreman) that there is a distinct difference in the services you get depending upon what class of housing you build; class meaning $90,000 to $160,00 or over $200,000. The houses are mostly the same parts just but the lower class houses do not get as much attention and they also do not get the better contractors. You are "nickel-and-dimed" at this level as well.

During construction:

  • the framers did an adequate job
  • they lost the plans, causing a four week delay
  • the pipes in the cement in the lower bathroom that travel upstairs were sealed in cement two feet outside the location they were supposed to be at.
  • the folks putting up the wood sides smoked and discarded the butts in piles of sawdust
  • the plumbers screwed up two of the four faucets
  • the low-voltage wiring guy was a complete asshole
  • the drywall people covered up two electrical outlets and one handing lamp box
  • the painters did the entire house in roughly 80 minutes
  • the house was not completed at wallk-though
  • the main support beam for the ground floor was leveled with a plywood shim
  • people urinated in the sump pump
  • the painters were called back twice to paint tops of exposed closets and areas underneath vaults, both plainly visible to anybody upstairs
  • the painters were called back three times to fix their numerous mistakes and omissions
  • the downstairs toilet never worked and once the papers were signed the agent stated I would have to fix it myself or wait for the 90-day.
  • the water people left giant muddy footprints in my basement
At the 90-day walk through:
  • the gutter was never fixed
  • they refused to fix the carpet because it would cost too much
  • they "fixed" the wood shim with a piece of cinder block
Five years later (and within that time):
  • the highest roof was not centered over point of the lower one, providing three locations for bird to enter my attic
  • there are four unique spots on my floors that creak when you step on them
  • the nails used on the drywall are popping in most rooms
  • there is a crack in the basement cinder block wall next to the support beam that was "shimmed"
  • the linoleum in the bathroom (not complete at time of walk-though) is now curling
  • the cement under that linoleum (that has to be dug up when they misplaced the pipes) is chipping
  • the basement floor has separated from the cinder block walls in most places
  • the upstairs master shower had to be resealed, they cheaped out on the caulk which allowed water to get outside the unit.
  • the upstairs shower pipes "thump" occasionally
  • the wood mailbox became infested with hornets (as have others in the area)
  • there is a small leak that lets water trickle from the roof, down an exhaust pipe, to a bathroom fan
  • there is a board in the roof that thumps when the wind blows really hard

Would I recommend one of these builders? Almost a resounding "Hell no!" They do offer better interest rates than you could get on a pre-owner home, they pay all the points and take care of a lot of fees. You can watch them like hawks but even a season construction professionals like my cousin and a friend managed to get screwed some way.

This speaks volumes about the quality of workmanship in everything nowadays. We have technology to make our jobs better but we don’t seem to be doing a better job. If I were to guess I would say it was a combination of the company trying to cut costs and increase labor output at the expense of quality. If a guy is getting paid a certain amount to do four electrical "kits" per day, then they want five, then six per day – quality suffers. Also, some people just don’t care anymore – especially if you aren’t paying them adequately. Compare the one guy that painted my friend’s house to the two guys that did mine (first pass). It took the one guy about six hours to paint the entire house; his house looks good. My two painters waltzed in with their bucket, blasted "Village People" music on a boom-box with one working speaker, literally slopped the paint on, went to their truck for a smoke, finished up then drove away.

My grandparents have a solid house they have lived in for decades. It stays warm in the winter and cool in the summer. It doesn’t sound like it’s going to come apart when it storms. It was also built by contractors and engineers that had the time, knowledge, and pride to do things right. Sadly I see very little of that nowadays from houses to cars to computer systems.

As a computer programmer (software engineer?) I try to take pride in my work and do things right. A lot of the time I am forced not to by management. Every time that happens I get that little sickness in my belly that feels similar to eating too much Taco Bell. I feel the same way about my house sometimes. If you spend six figures on something you damned well better get some pride out of it and not get nickel-and-dimed. If I spend $150,000 or your product would it hurt to spend $5 more on screws instead of nails or $2 for a damned furnace filter?

F--- that company that built my home who shall remain nameless for legality sakes; although you can probably figure out the words of their name down to the letter with two hints.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

"Dead" the television series

This is an extension of the "Land of the Dead" post below, more specifically the idea of an ongoing television series. I would simply call it "Dead".

Premise

"Dead" the series would blend elements of the four George Romero zombie horror films into an ongoing series. "Night of the Living Dead" was set in a rural atmosphere. "Dawn of the Dead" started in the media then progressed to a shopping mall. "Day of the Dead" covered the military and scientific side in an isolated environment. Finally, "Land of the Dead" takes place in the future assuming all aspects of military and government have been destroyed, leaving two distinct social classes in a claustrophobic fortified setting. The series would start in urban settings but include characters from a rural setting. Running parallel would be a government and/or military environment that would eventually include a scientific aspect. The urban settings would fall quickly into chaos leaving small pockets of humanity in the story. Rural settings would hold their own against the outbreak due to even victim to attacker ratio and a less dense population (does not spread as fast). Various urban (the mall), military (secret base) and rural (various terrain) sub-plots would emerge and hold for a while. The rural settings would maintain humanity until they are undermined by humanity, i.e. their eventual downfall would be at the hands of man, not zombie. As the rural and urban settings fall, the isolated military settings would take stage until they collapsed upon themselves. The series from that point forward would stay in the fortified pockets of humanity building and evolving themselves until a logical end of the series could be reached.

Characters

The "zombies" would be the main characters but never the "stars" so to speak. To bring a more scientifically believable aspect to a scientifically impossible situation would require some alteration to the zombie profile. Zombies would start out as what is referred to as "rage" zombies like "28 Days Later" and the "Dawn of the Dead" remake; fast and horrifically violent. Days later the zombies would denigrate as they fight off the things that make zombies impossible: rigor mortis, muscle loss due to energy expended without metabolic replacement, etc. The final result would be the grotesque "shambler" present in Romero's movies.

Protagonists:

  • the rural character(s), surviving but ending up in the fortified urban setting
  • the news media personality, urban
  • the mall security guard
  • the scientist(s)
  • the crooked individual turned good by the outbreak, urban, leadership
  • the urban refugees: a nurse, a strip-club owner, a dancer, etc.

Villians:

  • military leaders poor in their leadership roles
  • a Hollywood mogul (eventual leader of a fortress city)
  • the cowardly bigot
  • the independent know-it all
  • the bigot

Timeline

The timeline would start in an urban setting, mostly to get the rapid escalation within a believable context. That was one thing that I didn't like about "Night of the Living Dead", for a mostly rural setting the disease (just calling it disease for simplicity, who knows what really causes this) spread quickly. The DVD extras for the "Dawn of the Dead" remake had some good ideas that involved media hysteria and racial tensions that let the outbreak evolve quickly before anyone understood what was going on. The rural and military settings would integrate themselves. Eventually the three settings would have to fall leading to the fortress cities.

Pilot (urban)

  • Starts in rural settings where first death returns to the living: drug deal gone bad?
  • Race riots covered by news
  • Individual situations introduce some urban characters
  • Descent into chaos

Season one:

  1. Escape from news, end up at mall – new characters, let other's in?
  2. Common cause, uniting somewhat amongst the chaos
  3. Survivors; bus spots news chopper – eventually let it adding to group
  4. Television dies/pullback to Beverly Hills defensive perimeter (rich mogul)
  5. Doubts about leadership, each other, motives
  6. More survivors want in, debated over, zombie gets inside
  7. A hero dies (amongst others)
  8. Choices, more people = more supplies, less space, greater risk
  9. Leadership overthrown, citizens in control
  10. Use copter, strip club rescue – two more survivors, more food and supplies
  11. Cancer man dies, reanimates, people die; realization of what's going on
  12. The world is gone now/escape from LA (rich mogul)

Season two:

  1. Isolation
  2. Maybe it's not so bad after all
  3. Too many chiefs?
  4. Separation in small places
  5. Boredom
  6. Contact over the radio
  7. Contact lost
  8. More survivors, don't let them in, moral dilemma
  9. Invaded part one
  10. Invaded part two
  11. Then there were four, isolated, escape plans made
  12. Fall of the mall

Pilot (rural setting)

  • Characters meet in farm house
  • News and tension
  • Attempted escape, failure
  • Rescued but what of the rest of the world?

Season one:

  1. Hunting and killing
  2. Wandering
  3. Small town, eventually ruined
  4. Survival
  5. Supplies? The group thins.
  6. Tension builds, the fight for leadership
  7. Go to the city? Head for the hills?
  8. The split, group thins
  9. Safe haven in a small town
  10. Return of the city's influence
  11. City pollution
  12. Fall of the small town

Season two:

  1. Scattered
  2. Hunger
  3. Return to the farm house
  4. Uncertain future
  5. Back to basics
  6. Finally normal
  7. Attack of the posse
  8. Prisoners
  9. Escape
  10. Prisoners again, this time alone in the farm house
  11. And then there was one
  12. To the city, no place else to go

Pilot (government/scientific/military)

  • Introduce some characters
  • Military delegates to local law enforcement (who wish to handle situation)
  • National Guard involved

Season one:

  1. What to do? We don't know
  2. Deny everything/scientists start asking questions
  3. Rest of world starts to suffer, third worlds fall
  4. Use of military force, martial law, curfew that nobody can enforce
  5. Local law enforcement falls, overseas presence disappears
  6. Desperate realization that threat cannot be stopped
  7. Realization of what is going on, go public/scientific community tapped
  8. Rounding up the brains, not many survive
  9. Escape from Fort Pastor?
  10. Regroup at the capitol, leadership is failing
  11. Team assembles, President makes radio speech
  12. Escape from the capitol as zombies overwhelm government in a blood bath

Season two:

  1. Into the bunker
  2. Watching as the world crumbles around them
  3. Searching for answers, major has ideas (STUN satellite radiation)
  4. Where are the answers? Is it God's work?
  5. More answers than questions
  6. Need more specimens; tension between military, scientists and "mad" scientist grows
  7. The major dies, leaving the colonel in charge
  8. The colonel asserts himself demanding results, scientists in fear
  9. Contact lost with other scientists, sense of gloom deepens
  10. The president is dead (government ceases to exist)
  11. The colonel oppresses more
  12. Scientist killed, soldier commits suicide, zombies attack, few escape

Just some ideas.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Wiki software

One of my side projects at work is to get a wiki running for our department, and if all goes well to suggest it for the entire organization so it can be shot down in favor of something more expensive that isn’t my idea. I tried to get Mediawiki to run on my FreeBSD box but gave up. I was also unable to get it to work on my local machine running MySQL and Apache. The next wiki software I chose I ended up keeping:  Dokuwiki

The Dokuwiki software is perfect for what I am doing. It runs like a champ on my local machine, and it does not require MySQL; it’s uses the local file system and stores content in plain text files. The wikitext format is perfect for people that simply want to get content into a location without having to worry about coding HTML or saving to PDF or worrying about reliance upon Word. Content first, formatting later. I also like the fact that I do not need a database to back-end everything; this means a small footprint both on disk and in memory. The Dokuwiki software does “cache” the generated XHTML for topics. For Windows folks, NTFS compression on the data\cache and data\pages folders will further decrease the disk footprint (note: turn compression off on data\cache\*.idx and data\cache\purgefile).

I also found a neat little macro for Open Office at the Iannz OpenOffice.org page. The macro will convert a writer document to Dokuwiki compatible text. The object also contains a subroutine to convert all .html files in a directory to Dokuwiki .txt files. Sweet! Note for Windows users: edit the Folder macro to change the hard-coded directory name to the directory containing your .html source (a simple copy from Explorer then paste).

Thursday, October 13, 2005

New 40 gallon aquarium pictures

You can see in most pictures that the red-finned shark has just torn away at the foliage around its lair, the delicate leaves of the wisteria plants come off easily. The tiger barbs are active fish and very hard to photograph, the danios even harder as they are constantly on the move.

The tiger barbs would probably be the main attraction of this tank. The algae eater stays hidden most of the time, the shark is always in it's dark lair under the driftwood, and the danios are too small and fast to be noticed.

I am considering the addition of three tinfoil barbs to make things interesting but I run the risk of reaching the stocking limits of this aquarium (i.e. 1" of fish per gallon of water).

Yes, that is the shark that killed the pleco.

Land of the Dead

I should preface this by saying I love horror movies. Unfortunately I did not make it to the theaters to see the latest from Romero, "Land of the Dead." I did, however, get a hold of a copy before it came out on DVD (yes, MPAA lawyers, I will be buying it).

The plot of this movie is fairly simple. Zombies control the majority of the planet save for the few cities that have fortified themselves from the outside world. Most residents are very poor and simply exist outside the lone, iconic tower of wealth. The city raids nearby small towns for supplies. The leader pisses off one of the workers, who steals the city's armored Winnebago to extort money from that leader. The main characters must retrieve the vehicle as a group of pissed off but evolving zombies advance on the city.

High Points
The gore effects were pretty good, very similar to "Day of the Dead" but mostly shrouded in shadow. Assuming all scientific fact has been thrown out the window, the vision of a post-human, zombie-controlled world was believable and acceptable including the return of some basic skills like communication and improvisation to the dead and the continuation of familiarity concepts from "Dawn of the Dead". Even the idea of cities fortifying themselves around the rich then doing their "dirty" work was believable, with most concepts of life covered (like defense systems, waste disposal, "raiding" nearby towns for supplies, etc.)

The Good
The acting was generally good. The zombie acting was exceptional as I think the Romero version of a zombie has been solidified down to behavior, uniform mobility and attack (i.e. more of a spill forth and overwhelm).

The Okay
The plot seemed just okay to me. Basically it was an event wrapped around concept. The idea of vehicle recovery seemed a little forced as all it really did was provide filler for the progress of zombies from a raided town to the "luxury" of the city. Some of the one-on-one sequences were unrealistic.

The Bad
Personally, I thought the ending sucked. It wasn't uplifting nor catastrophic, it just ended and the characters rode off in the night. I guess I was expecting some sort of finality but this could easily translate into another film with similar situations but different characters. Actually, with the original "Night of the Living Dead" being the exception, the other two films ended this way as well.

I read some of the reviews at Rotten Tomatoes. Some of them were pathetic. If you're not going to try to like the film why bother going to see it and review it? It's like going to a steak joint to write a review for a vegetarian magazine. A lot of reviewers were liking or disliking this movie based upon Romero's "social commentary" and I don't think this is fair. George gets his statements in regarding wealth classes and the "we don't deal with terrorists" line but to judge an entire movie by it seems wrong. I agreed with Roger Ebert in that it would be interesting to just have a movie based on life in the city. Actually wouldn't it be great if the whole "Dead" concept was turned into a television series?

If I were to rank the "Dead" movies and their remakes I would probably go with:

  • "Dawn of the Dead" remake
  • "Night of the Living Dead"
  • "Dawn of the Dead"
  • "Land of the Dead"
  • "Day of the Dead"
  • "Night of the Living Dead" remake

Little Beefs (Biffs)

These are little things I really shouldn't worry my pretty little self over but tick me off anyways.

Excessive use of Macromedia Flash on web pages

I really only notice this on my laptop, still a formidable 1Ghz Duron running XP on 256MB of memory, but whenever I hit a page with flash I always get a nice six to eight second delay while all that extra flash crap loads. Flash is good for interactive movies and games but do we really need flash to do menus or to rotate news images or to slow down my web surfing experience to display an advertisement? It's just unnecessary.

Hands Free Cell Phone Zombies

A "hands free cell phone zombie" is a person who walks around aimlessly while talking on their cell phones using the "hands-free" ear-bud and clip microphone.

This actually happened to me. I was exiting my office and I walked past some chick who blurted out "what the f* are you doin'?" I stopped, aghast, looked her in the eyes and said, "Excuse me?" She looked at me like I was naked or blowing my nose in my hand. I didn't notice the hands-free equipment because of her long frizzy hair (wouldn't that interfere with her cellular signal?). She replied, "I'm talking to my friend, not you" then realizing the other party on the line probably heard that said, "not you, some guy here – I'm on the phone".

If these folks were dressed in tattered clothes walking around seemingly talking to themselves I'd call them derelict homeless.

Ring Tones

There is nothing I enjoy more than concentrating on my work at work only to have the relative silence broken by a loud, annoying, seizure-inducing ring-tone. I hate them with a passion, but would love to be the guy that invented them. Who knew people would pay money for a watered down version of some songs or random beeps.

Government

I've already opened up enough cans of worms at home and work, so I'll just say "it seems like our priorities are out of whack and we appear to be heading towards a society that short of being an empire with the majority of people undervalued and overworked or mooching off everybody else."

Microsoft

Anybody remember the old days when you could get the operating system for less than $100 and BASIC came with it? Personally, I think XP and 2000 were the best products put forth by Redmond with 2003 having its merits.

It should be obvious even to the uneducated that Microsoft software locks you into a constant cycle of upgrade – both hardware and software. You know what, I can still publish documents in a WYSIWYG graphical user interface on a Pentium 166MMX with 16MB of memory just and I can on XP running on a 2Ghz Athlon system with 2GB of memory.

Lately however, with Genuine Advantage and Longhorn/Vista's new DRM systems I have to wonder if this is the moment in history when businesses and home users say enough is enough. Windows XP running on this system right now is powerful enough to do just about anything I can ask of it short of being a production server. Why on earth would I want to chuck the whole thing out the window in a year or two?

Is technology leasing the new wave on the horizon; lead by Microsoft and its hardware requirements? Would a home user be willing to spend $20 a month or so just to get new hardware every year or two?

A Big Beef - Fiscal Responsibility

I could really get in trouble for posting this because current, past and future employers could use this against me but I just have to get this off my chest. I am appalled at the fiscal irresponsibility in management.

I have worked in the Information Technology (computer programming, systems programming, etc.) for fifteen years and the last five to six years have been the worst. I have seen multi-million dollar projects driven slowly into the ground to provide little or no benefit to the people who should benefit from them. I have sat shaking my head in disbelief as large balance differences get written off as acceptable losses. I have watched years, even decades of knowledge and working technology literally get thrown out the window for something different.  I have seen programming languages come and go while offering no real benefit to the languages and technology they intended to replace. So much wasted money has passed before or around these eyes and the eyes of my friends that I almost literally broke down at the horror of it all last night.

What makes this even more sickening is that these managers who consistently do not do their jobs and manage are promoted and compensated on a grander scale. One CEO presiding over a company that has lost over 76% of it's value netted a six-figure bonus and salary increase (that's before all the other perks like vehicles, subsidies for side businesses, options, etc.).

Fiscal irresponsibility is not limited to management at big corporations. I'm disappointed that most youth nowadays simply have no concept of savings vs. spending. They will receive government assistance while strutting around with an iPod and flip-phone (with expensive plan) driving a "pimped" car and cable at home. How about the single mom who can't afford to fix a car but can afford televisions and personal-use cell phones for herself and both of her kids; oh and everybody smokes packs of cigarettes as well. I fully comprehend that these are bad examples of a system that is designed to (as does) help people that need help. Still, I see examples of poor financial skills almost every day as people rack up credit card and other debts without regard for living within their means. If you have a cell phone, DVD players, portables, cable TV with movie channels while getting assistance then you aren't poor.

Here in central Ohio there are numerous (if not all) school districts in dire financial predicaments. I grew up in a school district that took six figures worth of loyal taxpayer dollars for strictly cosmetic changes. My child goes to a school district that collects hundreds of dollars in fees in addition to one of the highest tax rates but seems to have a levy on the ballot every year. When I go to these schools, most of them are like palaces on the inside with lots of wasted space – what happened to a good traditional, functional school? This school system also made numerous cosmetic and technology upgrades alongside the necessary upgrades. Again, isn't this a recent thing? What are we paying for? Doesn't anybody in management understand the concept of good planning and forecasting; instead of building and building then begging for money to build more schools, then begging for money to operate these schools, then asking for money to continue operating these schools without having to cut sports and extra-curricular activities?

I have to admit that I'm guilty of some of this myself. I tend to keep mostly current computer technology in my house and I don't invest as diversely as I should (maybe I've been stung too many times by the markets in the past?). I also eat reasonably, drive an economical vehicle, save for special occasions, keep my credit cards paid off, keep cell phone usage to a minimum and keep myself protected.

For the rest of the world, maybe I just don't understand it. Maybe I just don't grasp the concept of upper management or running a school system or being a kid in a media-centric world that places value on possession instead of personality and purpose.

Maybe I'm just getting too old?

Friday, October 07, 2005

Testing BloggerForWord

I just downloaded BloggerforWord to give it a spin and see how things work. My blogging now starts with Front Page before going to UltraEdit for markup cleanup then into the post as HTML. I rarely use their editor.
Let’s try some styles and fonts: bold and underline and italics then colors like red and green then fonts like Verdana and Courier.
Numbered list
  1. one

  2. two

  3. three
Bullet list

  • look mom

  • I’m using blogger
How about a hyper link to Google just for fun?
Does it like justified text?
Or Centered?
Is this big enough?
Well that is enough for now, let’s see what things look like after I publish.


Well, that looks interesting doesn't it? It supports basic formatting but does not support colors or justification. The ordered and unordered lists look stupid because the Blogger adds a <br /> after each line item if there is a carriage return. They way I get around this when publishing is to not have carriage returns anywhere and simply stream in pure HTML code understanding my template adds the <p> and </p> paragraph tags (like most Blogger templates do).

BloggerForWord looks good for getting in text without the need for formatting. Formatting can be done later to clean things up.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Health questions and answers

1. Q: I've heard that cardiovascular exercise can prolong life; is this true?
A: Your heart is only good for so many beats, and that's it ... don't waste them on exercise. Everything wears out eventually. Speeding up your heart will not make you live longer; that's like saying you can extend the life of your car by driving it faster. Want to live longer? Take a nap.

2. Q: Should I cut down on meat and eat more fruits and vegetables?
A: You must grasp logistical efficiencies. What does a cow eat? Hay and corn. And what are these? Vegetables. So a steak is nothing more than an efficient mechanism of delivering vegetables to your system. Need grain? Eat chicken. Beef is also a good source of field grass (green leafy vegetable). And a pork chop can give you 100% of your recommended daily allowance of vegetable products.

3. Q: Should I reduce my alcohol intake?
A: No, not at all. Wine is made from fruit. Brandy is distilled wine, that means they take the water out of the fruity bit so you get even more of the goodness that way. Beer is also made out of grain. Bottoms up!

4. Q: How can I calculate my body/fat ratio?
A: Well, if you have a body and you have fat, your ratio is one to one. If you have two bodies, your ratio is two to one, etc.

5. Q: What are some of the advantages of participating in a regular exercise program?
A: Can't think of a single one, sorry. My philosophy is: No Pain .. ..Good!

6. Q: Aren't fried foods bad for you?
A: Foods are fried these days in vegetable oil. In fact, they're permeated in it. How could getting more vegetables be bad for you?

7. Q: Will sit-ups prevent me from getting a little soft around the middle?
A: Definitely not! When you exercise a muscle, it gets bigger. You should only be doing sit-ups if you want a bigger stomach.

8. Q: Is chocolate bad for me?
A: Are you crazy? HELLO ...... Cocoa beans! Another vegetable!!! It's the best feel-good food around!

9. Q: Is swimming good for your figure?
A: If swimming is good for your figure, explain whales to me ........

10. Q: Is getting in-shape important for my lifestyle?
A: Hey! 'Round' is a shape!

Well, I hope this has cleared up any misconceptions you may have had about food and diets.

(P.S. If you take this seriously, you really need to see doctor or a psychiatrist or both - lighten up!)

Monday, October 03, 2005

Rude?

This was written after returning from the bathroom to take a pee-pee:

I’ve about had it with rudeness today, especially after just being called rude myself. Here is the situation:

  • I need to pee, I also need to fart – so instead of polluting my new office and thrusting foul odors on my co-workers (whom I all like) I go to the bathroom; seems logical.
  • I walk into the bathroom, choose the far urinal, unzip and start tinkling
  • Another dude enters to take a leak
  • While emptying my bladder I empty the foul gasses from my digestive track saying "excuse me".
  • The dude next to me says "dude, that’s rude" – and he’s serious

It’s a men’s restroom in a public building. It’s in a basement where foul gasses are always present either from the pipes and sewers underneath and/or from other people in the building far more capable of delivering colonic death biscuits than I.

Where else am I supposed to fart? Do I go running out in the elements? Do the taxpayers foot the bill for an exhaust system?

This goes with three instances earlier in the day where people were rude to me.

One. Walking to the gym for lunch I’m bowled into a woman twice my size who elbow-knifed her way to get through a door before I. I excused myself. She either didn’t hear me, recognize her rudeness, or perhaps spoke a different language than I – maybe "sasquatch" or something like that. No big deal, though.

Two. I am crossing a street (using a cross walk). I look back to see if anybody is turning right. Nobody is turning right so I proceed forward jogging toward the green "WALK" sign on the other side. Suddenly brakes hit and a horn follows. Some woman is looking at me with angry eyes. I point to the light, her car then myself saying "green light, no turn signal, rightaway". She replies "whatevah" then zooms around me into the oncoming traffic lane.

Three. I come jogging up to an exit, there is a nice car (black Mercedes) sitting there. I look in the car, some yuppie is dialing a cell phone number. I look at traffic, the guy can go. He doesn’t. I wait a few moments, make a "go" gesture with my hand, wait another moment, then quickly start across. Again, brakes and a look of "what?" on this yuppie’s face (still attached to a cell phone).

I could have potentially been run over by another cell-phone disabled driver but I wasn’t going to test my luck.

Format wars

"The nice thing about standards is, there are so many to choose from" – anonymous

So Paramount is the latest entry into the future of DVD "war", backing the Blu-ray format backed by a Sony led group and featuring Disney among others. HD DVD, backed by Toshiba and supported by Universal Studios, Microsoft, Intel, Warner Bros and more.

What is causing this war: "what is expected to be a multi-billion-dollar market for next-generation DVD players, PC drives and optical discs." Who will lose the war: the consumer.

This "war" parallels another format "war" over satellite radio. There are two competitors in this "war", XM and Sirius. Each requires a receiver and subscription, both offering different and unique content that you cannot get on the other.

What is causing this war: control over the market of paid audio services. Who will lose the war: the consumer and one or more of the vendors.

This was supposed to happen in the dish versus cable realm and to some extent it has. Various cable and dish services were going to offer their own exclusive packages but neither had the leverage to push out the common programming. That left customized sports and movie packages and price as the only bargaining points when looking at one or the other.

There are past "wars" that some of you may remember.

Anybody who has anything to do with web development will certainly remember the browser "war" initially between Netscape and Microsoft now seeming starting again between Microsoft and Firefox. Who lost that war? Netscape did. One might say the web developers did having to support different formats and markup code, but that created a good job market for a while. Effects of that "war" linger even today; just mention CSS boxes to web designers.

There was the little known "war" between DAT, DAC and ADAT. Nobody really won that war as DAT and ADAT live only in digital recording studios where computers aren’t prevalent. I forget who made DAC, I saw one at Sun TV but that was about it.

Probably the oldest "war" relevant to the others here was VHS vs. beta. VHS won that "war", at the height of it’s popularity even the poorest of people who could barely afford food each had two or three of them per household.

Can "AM" vs. "FM" be considered a war? Since both are still widely available I would probably say no.

There are probably other current "wars" that I’m forgetting. Or perhaps I don’t care enough about them to list them here; like compact flash vs. memory sticks vs. SD vs. (insert format the 7-in-1 readers read).

I think the point I am trying to make is when is all this going to backlash? When are we as consumers going to stop, look at the potential cost of this new technology, add it to the current cost of media services and technology, look at the new total and with eyeballs bulging yell out "sweet merciful Jesus" then pound a fist on (through) the table? How much of your monthly income is going (should go) to media?

Do I really need a new DVD format? I really don’t want to be a loser again.