Thursday, December 28, 2006

Operation F-Windows part three

Operation F-Windows is starting to turn into Operation deal-with-Windows because I have to. No matter how I look at it or want to change it there will always be three to five Windows XP licenses in my household. I need one, the kid plays games that only run on Windows, and she is more comfortable with Windows and has Windows only programs for school. My parents even went out and purchased a copy of XP Home because they were told by SBC then "needed XP and their service would only work on Windows XP" (what a load of crap).

Even though the Ubuntu family server was doing just fine I decided to rebuild the server with Windows 2003 for a couple of reasons. First is there are some Windows only programs that are better off running in their native environment; like WSUS to support patch caching. As a family we are much better off letting WSUS synchronize updates and store them locally when it determines a machine needs it than having everyone go to Microsoft, download patches, etc. My favorite torrent client, "uTorrent" is Windows only. Also lets face facts; Windows has some slick management interfaces. VMWare Server is running two dedicated guests: an Ubuntu 6.06 and Ubuntu 6.10 server install. The two instances have their own dedicated IP address, 192 MB of RAM, 8 GB of disk and are dedicated to apt-cacher. Now when my Ubuntu machines need updates they can stay mostly local which is great for when Open Office and X update.

Speaking of apt; it is nice and all but there has to be something better than apt-cacher. Similar packages seem to be in a state of limbo or are just proxy caches without intelligence. Maybe I just don't know enough about apt-based distributions but I would think someone would have an intelligent repository manager that kept track of versions and package lists locally and downloaded packages for machines that have subscribe to its service. Example: a 40 MB update for Open Office comes down the pipe, you have 40 Ubuntu desktops that will need it – do you get it now knowing workstations will start asking for it or do you download it when apt-cacher detects the first request for it? The problem with the latter is timeout problems. Both apt and apt-cacher seem to have the most problems when caching the larger updates like mysql, x-common, and other sizable packages. It would probably be best to adapt an apt-based repository manager to use the bit torrent protocol. When updates hit the main repositories the locally cached repository services determine if any subscribed machines need it and if so, join the torrent and seed a certain percentage of the file (120 percent seems fair, configurable of course). When the updated package is ready locally, let local workstations see it then fetch it (optionally, after systems approves). WSUS lets you assign computers to groups and make updates available to certain groups (i.e. beta machines).

To go off on a tangent, one of the newest reasons why I hate Windows and Microsoft; they upped the cost of academic versions of MSDN Operating Systems. I got mine a couple of years ago for about $180 or so. Nice. Now it is in the $500-750 range. What the hell? I'm searching through our vendor here at work but their product descriptions look like this "MSDN OS SS U 3Y ACA OL OU812 7734" – and there are 348 just like that one without text, pictures, or descriptions. Good God how in the blue hell am I supposed to make sense of that. Microsoft is no help whatsoever. They have about eight different schemes for Academia with few online details on each. Try to look up a part number – can't do it. That is just plain stupid.

Yet another new reason to hate Windows: they are weaseling IE7 down to everybody. If I don't use it and don't want it then why consistently bother me about it?

Links:

  • Ubuntu is a complete Linux-based operating system, freely available with both community and professional support
  • Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) enables administrators to more easily manage and deploy updates across the organization

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Tiger barbs

A couple days ago the group of tiger barbs that I bred years ago was down to a lone pair of individuals. Last night I made a decision to stay with the common, feisty little fish and bought four more for the 40 gallon long tank they are in. I also dug up information I was going to do for my "web site" and posted it here:

Details

  • Scientific Name: Barbus schuberti
  • Family: Cyprinidae
  • Origin: Borneo, Indonesia, Sumatra
  • Adult Size: 3 inches (7 cm)
  • Social: Active schooling fish, nips fins
  • Lifespan: 6 years
  • Tank Level: Mid dweller
  • Minimum Tank Size: 20 gallon
  • Diet: Omnivore, eats most foods
  • Breeding: Egg layer
  • Care: Easy to Intermediate
  • pH: 6.5
  • Hardness: up to 10 dGH
  • Temperature: 68-79 F (20-26 C)

General Information

The tiger barb is a fairly common, often maligned, but colorful and entertaining fish. Identified by it's trademark vertical black stripes this fish can be obtained just about anywhere. They are schoolers and if given abundant space will always be on the move, chasing each other and generally acting impish. A hardy fish, the tiger barb is a good beginner fish able to survive most environments and water compositions.

Environment

To recreate the natural southeast Asia backwater stream environment you will need at least a twenty gallon (US) tank, with at least thirty gallons recommended. The folks at Aquarium Adventure have a good example of how to recreate the natural environment. If a southeast Asia recreation is not feasible, then the ideal aquarium for tiger barbs would be well planted in the back with plenty of space in the front. Adequate space is a necessity for these active fish.

Important note: the hygrophila polysperma plants indigenous to this environment and recommended by all resources also happen to be illegal in the state of Ohio and is on the federal list of noxious weeds. I substituted wisteria and red ludwigia for the hygrophila.

Stocking

As with all freshwater fish: never exceed the standard 1 inch of fish per 1 gallon of water.

Tiger barbs are schooling fish that establish a social order. Without numbers they can be overly aggressive and abusive. Almost every resource recommends at least eight tiger barbs per shoal as a minimum. Numbers less than six will usually introduce problems.

Tank mates

Tiger barbs have a reputation of being "fin nippers" so hardier fish should be considered as tank mates. Fish with long trailing fins (angel fish, gouramis, bettas and guppies), and from my experience; colorful but passive fish (neon, cardinal and glolite tetras), represent nothing but playful targets for tiger barbs. Other passive fish like corydoras, platys and even a plecostomus could be harassed by a rogue tiger barb (see below). The list below contains a list of suitable tank makes:

Southeast Asia Backwater Stream Environment (indigenous)
clown loach (needs a higher pH and purer water quality, schooling, needs space to hide, at least two or more)
iridescent shark (potentially large schooling fish, can be over a foot long, at least two or more)
red tail shark (aggressive, solitary, needs a cave or space)
Southeast Asia River Environment (indigenous)
giant danio, zebra danio, pearl danio, rosey barb, black ruby barb, bala shark, algae eater, kuhlii loach, rainbow shark
Variations
green barb, albino tiger barb
Others (noted from the Internet)
black widow tetra

Personal note: many resources consider this fish as a community fish. This barb can be a community fish but obtaining a happy, mostly passive shoal is more luck than theory. If you are looking to have tiger barbs, please consider dedicating a tank to them and suitable mates. If you must make this fish part of a community then make sure you can return fish to the place of purchase.

Psychology

Owning tiger barbs for over two years I have noticed the following distinct traits:

  1. They establish a specific social order. A dominant male (usually the largest) will "lead" the group. If more than one male is available they will occasionally joust for supremacy, never really damaging each other but looking violent while doing so.
  2. Mature tiger barbs stick to their group, rarely bothering with other fish in the vicinity. Young barbs, however are prone to straying and sometimes taking aggression, playful or otherwise, out on tank mates. The younger the barb, the more prone to aggression usually in the form of fin-nipping. Large shoals of individuals will not diffuse aggression. As tiger barbs mature, most grow out of their aggression but there is a chance some remain aggressive. Two examples: "Stab" and the kids. "Stab" was a mean little bastard that would literally nip and tug with anything, including a plecostomus three times his size. "Stab" was isolated in the hospital tank for a couple months, was eventually outgrown by the other males, and after a violent return to the tank learned his place in the middle of the pack. The "kids" are two tiger barbs out of the surviving spawn that continue to pester other tank mates. They nipped my albino corys, were the first to attack a pearl gouramis when I tried to integrate the fish in the barb tank, occasionally pulled at the tail of a plecostomus if it was nearby, and were the only ones to attack orange platys. All the other (22) tiger barbs kept to themselves, never bothering anything non-barb. All aggression is limited to definitely one, and I'm certain a second uniquely identifiable tiger barb. This leads me to believe a group of tiger barbs could potentially have a "rogue" barb prone to occasionally disturb the community.
  3. After living most of their lives in a 29 gallon (US) tank, cramped in between a piece of driftwood and a large sword plant, I can easily say tiger barbs are happier with a lot of wide open space. The 40 gallon (US) tank (48" wide x 15" deep x 13" high) with planting in the back and plenty of space in the front appears to be the ideal environment for these impish little goof balls.
  4. Tiger barbs are known to "head stand" is the water is too high in nitrates, a behavior unique to the species.

Sexing

male and female tiger barbsMale tiger barbs are spear-head shaped and when mature sport bright red noses and ventral fins with a bright red line on the dorsal fin. Female tiger barbs are rounder, shaped more like a spade than a spear. Females will usually not have the bright red colorings of their mature male counterparts.

Breeding

The common reproductive behavior for most tiger barbs: 1

  • promiscuous mating
  • no parental care
  • selective depositing of eggs by the female
  • external fertilization during mating clasp (1 male:l female)
  • females receptive during mating sessions lasting hours
  • repeated mating clasps with or without a change in partner or location
  • male plays the active role in courtship
  • male more active in antagonistic behavior and competition

I have read numerous paragraphs on the Internet and spawning tiger barbs has been described from easy to difficult. My own experience was more of a quickly thrown together attempt at mating two individuals that were "getting friendly" in my 29 gallon tank. In my opinion, here are the steps needed to breed tiger barbs:

  1. You should already have at least two healthy, mature fish.
  2. You will need at least a separate breeding tank: a five to twenty gallon (US) tank with an adequate sponge filter and spawning material. (I used plastic plants laid on their side in a three gallon Eclipse all-in-one unit, which was too small and had substrate in it). Depending upon the size and inhabitants of your main tank you might need a separate grow out tank: at least a twenty gallon (US) tank with adequate filtration, substrate and plant life. Spawning material can be a spawning mop, brush, a layer of marbles (not the best 2), spawning grass (available a Walmart), or plastic plants laid on their side.
  3. Most sources recommend conditioning the male and female pair. I didn't, because at the time the parents were already spawning in the main tank, so they conditioned themselves. Conditioning the fish consists of keeping the pair separate via divider, feeding them healthy amounts of high protein live foods for about a week, then joining the pair for courtship and spawning.
  4. Before spawning, either order or locate a local fish store that carries Liquifry #1. If you are ordering, you might want to pick up supplies needed to create a baby brine shrimp hatchery as well.
  5. Leave the happy couple to spawn overnight. Remove the parents after spawning has occurred (small white specs will appear, these are the eggs). Order live foods like micro worms and vinegar eels if you are going to use them.
  6. Consider removing the spawning material at this point.
  7. Start adding Liquifry #1 while waiting a couple days until the eggs hatch. Fry will look like two black specks and will be hard to spot.
  8. Keep feeding Liquifry #1 until the fry look like they are able to take live food, usually about four days of free swimming. Newly hatched brine shrimp should be used first and exclusively for a couple days, feeding until full (orange bellies full of shrimp) three to four times a day.
  9. Slowly change the diet to include other foods like powdered flake, micro worms, vinegar worms and other commercial foods. Start doing daily water changes, carefully replacing ten percent of the water. (I used a line of air-tubing attached to a chop-stick to vacuum the bottom debris and water into a glass jar, glass just in case a fry was caught in the suction).
  10. After 28 days, carefully move the fry to a grow out tank or the main tank if feasible.

Citations

  1. A Manual for Commercial Production of the Tiger Barb, Capoeta tetrazona, A Temporary Paired Tank Spawner
  2. Mike Edwardes Tropicals: Tiger barbs(No longer available)

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas

Just got back from the parents house. We have done gift exchanges on my mom's side of the family on Christmas Eve for a while now. It was a good year. As I took a post-meal dump I had some interesting thoughts. I realized that my digital camera had more storage than my first five computers. From my Vic-20 through my second Gateway P166 with a massive (at that time) 2GB disk drive (camera has 4GB CF, by the way). This will probably be the first year where I won't see my brother for Christmas or head south to see relatives on Christmas Day. Boy, there was a lot of booze exchanged this year and for once I didn't get any (last was a bottle of Eagle whiskey, and beers of the world).

Anyways, if you happen to read this blog or my story blog then have a very Merry Christmas. If you don't, well, go ahead and have one anyways.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Through the Bloggersphere, again

Anybody else nothing the overall quality of content put on Blogger seems to be dropping consistently here of late? I like to occasionally go through the Next Blog to pass time but more and more I'm finding nothing of worth. Most recently:

  • nine myspace wanna-be blogs
  • thirty-four blogs in a foreign language
  • one hello world blog
  • five picture blogs full of ugly kids and pets
  • one Beyonce picture blog (not worth linking)
  • one "culture junkie" blog with so many pictures, music clips, flash ads and youtube clips that by browser needed roughly 75 megabytes (yes, MB) of memory to render it

There were a few blogs that actually contained content...

  • Impressions and Images
  • District Belle - you can take the girl out of the south, but you can't take the south out of the girl
  • Althouse - "Formidable law blogger Ann Althouse." – Slate
  • Competitive Futures Blog - Trends and observations about what's next by Eric Garland, professional futurist and author of Future Inc.: How Businesses Can Anticipate and Profit from What's Next

Still, anything is better than the virtual seizures over at myspace...

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Halloween dog

Don't worry, he's been given a treat for being such a good dog and quietly enduring this to get it in one take...

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Animator vs. Animation

Go here then click Play

Top 10 unintentionally worst company URLs

Attn: Entrepeneurs. Everyone knows that if you are going to operate a business in todays world you need a domain name. It is advisable to look at the domain name selected as others see it and not just as you think it looks. Failure to do this may result in situations such as the following(legitimate) companies who deal in everyday humdrum products and services but clearly didnt give their domain names enough consideration:
  1. A site called "Who Represents" where you can find the name of the agent that represents a celebrity. Their domain name is www.whorepresents.com
  2. Experts Exchange, a knowledge base where programmers can exchange advice and views at www.expertsexchange.com
  3. Looking for a pen? Look no further than Pen Island at www.penisland.net
  4. Need a therapist? Try Therapist Finder at www.therapistfinder.com
  5. Then of course, there's the Italian Power Generator company: www.powergenitalia.com
  6. And now, we have the Mole Station Native Nursery, based in New South Wales: www.molestationnursery.com
  7. If you're looking for computer software, there's always www.ipanywhere.com
  8. Welcome to the First Cumming Methodist Church. Their website is www.cummingfirst.com
  9. Then, of course, there's these brainless art designers, and their whacky website: www.speedofart.com
  10. Want to holiday in Lake Tahoe? Try their brochure website at www.gotahoe.com

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Flash mind reader

Okay, now this one is just freaking me out...

The above link does not work anymore.

Okay, I figured out how it works. By picking a two digit number then subtracting the sum of the two digits you are going to end up with a limited set of numbers each time. For example: 20 through 29 will always be 18, 50-59 will always be 45, etc. The ones digit always negates itself leaving the tens digit to be subtracted; i.e. 10-1=9, 20-2=18, etc... Multiples of nine. Each time you click the crystal ball the symbols change but the ones for multiples of nine will always be the same. All the program has to do is pick the symbol used on multiples of nine.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Long time no blog

Seems like forever (or about a month) since I've blogged anything here. I have been very active in the other blog, the Blog of the Dead. I thought about doing an "Election 2006" wrap up but to be honest I am so burnt out from the whole process with the endless mail and weekend wake-up calls from party supporters. Why are you calling me about Scary Ho Kilroy? I can't even vote for her because she is not in my district. Argh! The Columbus Crew are for the most part irrelevant anymore. MLS Soccer is probably on its lowest point in my eyes. MLS Cup went to penalty kicks as New England stole defeat from the jaws of victory. The Blue Jacket are in danger of slipping into the path to irrelevance unless they do something to wake up. Not a single line is performing well and the defense is questionable at times especially with Wescott out. Life at the the job isn't the greatest, life at home isn't the greatest. Damn, what a rut.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Oh and another thing

Why are we still being subjected to hundreds of unsolicited electronic mail messages each day? How many years have Internet users been subjected to SPAM? I am seeing just as many mail messages in my bulk mail folder with the occasional message getting by the filters into my inbox. Why do these parasites still exist?

Political phone annoyances

As if the almost constant barrage of negative campaign ads on television weren't enough now both the Republicans and Democrats are taking to the phones to get in touch with me directly in an effort to direct my vote. Yes, there is nothing that makes we want to support a party platform more than getting awakened on a Sunday morning by some political fuck-wit. I had just had a big breakfast and was falling asleep on the couch with the dog and the phone rings. Everybody in the house was either still asleep or had gone out for some early shopping. I would have gladly told the person at the other end that not only wasn't I interested in supporting their party but because you woke me from a good nap I would actually vote across the board against your party. Unfortunately it was only a machine so I was denied vengeance.

The one thing I hate about politics (out of a couple dozen) is how negative attack ads do not provide a context for their attacks and use half-truths to make points. If, for example, you vote against one out of nine measures to allocate funds for military use then is it right to run a commercial stating you opponent voted against support for the military? Also you have to look at why a vote was cast. What one political group called a "vote against protecting unborn children from gang-violence" was really a vote against a law that would have set a precedent for change to the abortion law; i.e. nothing to do with stray bullets. Sometimes a member of congress will abstain from voting if they support the idea behind the bill but do not support the riders attached to it like the measure that allocated funds for the military but also set stiffer penalties for indecency. Of course, in that case your voting record will come up and will be spun as "didn't vote on the important issues." Some politicians are using records from as early as 1989 to malign their opponents. Doesn't it occur to people that the whole political and social landscape has changed since 1993?

The only way to even begin to comprehend this mess is to sit down and do a large amount of research. Sometimes you will luck out and find someone kind enough to cross reference things for you. When folks attacked Clinton after his tirade on Fox News someone was kind enough to cross-reference quotes from thirteen prominent members of congress (including links when content still existed) that proved otherwise. As they pointed out, with the Internet providing finger-tip reference to everything it gets harder for any party to re-write history. The bad thing about this is you need time to sit down and do a lot of research. Unfortunately, most people will either be too lazy or simply not have the time do it and will default to voting the party line or going with gut instinct: which is what the negative campaigners hope you will do.

Here in Ohio I know of folks that are sick and tired of living in this state and are going to vote out all incumbents in a last-ditch effort to bring about positive change for this state's future. I hope it works for them because just as change might be for the better it could also bring in someone much, much worse.

Until then, though, we are going to have to suffer through the endless campaign advertisements on radio and television and the calls while you are eating dinner or trying to catch a nap on the sofa with the family dog. You would figure, though, if politicians were for the "do not call" list to help protect and convenience consumers they might actually consider using it themselves.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Template change

So I got bored and decided to change my template today. Yeah, I know the CSS is NOT printer friendly but I really don't care at the moment because I have something that looks adequate on all three browsers and most resolutions. Hey at least it isn't a myspace clone page.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Money well spent

An actual question from a survey my boss has to take as part of a consultant/agency sponsored class:

How man years have you currently been employed at ...?
  • ...
  • more than 13 years but less than 15 years
  • more than 15 years but less than 17 years
  • ...


Now one can look at this a few different ways. If you deal strictly in years you can never be employed for 13, 15, or 17 years and either 14 or 16 years are your choices. If you look at it numerically then the ranges are 13 years, one day through 14 years, 365 days and 15 years, one day through 16 years, 365 days. Which pretty much screws you if you have worked exactly 15 years. If you whittle down to milliseconds, theoretically you could brain fart and avoid the exact 15 years, 0 days, 0 hours, 0 minutes, 0 seconds, 0 milliseconds mark and slip unconsciously into the next range. Then again, how hard would it have been to say "more than 13 years but not more than 15 years", or if all you care about is years, "14"?

It just makes you upset that money got spent on something that some CONsultant probably had their kid throw together for them.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Remembering 9/11

I was on contract at a client site in downtown Columbus. I was working on an AS/400 to Microsoft conversion project while listening to Howard Stern on my pocket AM/FM radio. They got the news that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. It pretty much all went downhill from there. The second plane hit, there were rumors of a bomb at the Mall of America, then rumors the Pentagon had been hit and then the horrifying collapse of the two towers. The freaks and perverts were now correspondents relaying information into the stunned group. I was one of two people in the entire area that had a radio and knew what was going on so I relayed bits and pieces to my colleagues. The World Trade Center was gone and the Pentagon was on fire.

I stayed at my cubicle glued to the radio until about noon or so when they broke off the radio and turned control over to the news. Someone managed to get Internet footage of the collapse which shocked us. I had to pee so bad by that time.

They began evacuating downtown Columbus around one or two. Folks with kids were free to leave. I stayed until about 4pm or so then drove home on mostly deserted roads. The footage on the news was shocking to say the least. I called my parents later in the evening. We discussed parallels with Pearl Harbor (something that I was knowledgeable with).

It is now the five year anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy. People will discuss the politics surrounding this day so I won't. It is a scary fact of life that even though the majority of the people on this planet are good people (stupid and annoying, but good) all it takes is the one in the millions with the right tools, components and drive to destroy a building, city or life as we know it.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Windows XP activation woes

I had my first encounter with a "non-genuine" Windows XP activation today. Grouchette has a new computer, a Shuttle xPC with a AMD Sempron processor inside of it. I would have loved to install something other than Windows XP on it but she needs Microsoft products for school and had a student version she received as part of her education.

I installed the operating system and device drivers then used Autopatcher XP to get everything current, tweaked for performance, secured, etc. That was about two weeks ago (she is taking her time). When I went to activate the product, though, it said the copy of Windows XP had already been installed and activated. Just great.

I called Microsoft and got transferred to India. You can always tell when you get transferred overseas because you get a couple of funky tones followed by the line sounding like crap for a couple of moments then clearing up somewhat just as you get the recognizable accent asking you for your Id something-something.

To make a long story short I had to repeat a couple of times the machine I was activating was the only machine the copy of XP was installed on before getting a 36 digit verification code (after repeating a 36 digit code). I clicked next and was sent on my way. I asked (acting stupid) why I had to do this with a valid copy of XP. I only understood half of the response but it sounded like either my key was pirated b someone else or they made a mistake somewhere.

I'm thankful the process was almost painless. It could have been worse. I could have been arguing with a courteous Hindu for a half-hour without getting activated like someone at work ended up doing thanks to Windows Genuine Advantage.

Links:

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Annual heresy

It is about time for my annual whining and complaining about organized religion in central Ohio. I won't be discussing the Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, Christians, Protestants or the Episcopalians. I won't even be discussing the Buddhists, Muslims, or Hindus. Heck, I don't even have a beef with the Adventists, Jewish, Hari Krishnas, snake handlers or even Moonies. So what organized religion am I upset about?

Ohio State Buckeye Football

Yes, it's that time of year again when coverage from the local news media switch from covering East side shootings, gas prices, animals at the zoo giving birth, the weather, and just about anything else to covering what flavor of Kool-aid our starting tailback prefers on Wednesdays. There was a major collapse of a diamond mine in New Guinea, hundreds were buried alive, no Buckeye football players were in the mine or the country at the time of the disaster. It is to the point where it is transparent and sickening.

I refuse to watch the sports departments on the local stations anymore. Their job is to cover local and regional sporting events. Last Saturday (the Buckeye football season and home opener), all coverage was on the football game and other Big Ten football games (i.e. Michigan, etc.) with 10tv also covering the Ohio University game. There was not a single mention, much less coverage of, other sports news from the central Ohio area. On that Saturday the Columbus Crew (soccer team in Major League Soccer) did something they haven't done all season under a new coach, score more than a couple of goals to defeat an opponent. The Crew beat the New England Revolution (a team we have been a personal bitch for recently) 3-0 in front of a respectable home crowd. Not a single mention on all three networks. The NHL hockey franchise, the Columbus Blue Jackets, lost their recent top pick Derick Brassard to injury during a junior club exhibition. He will miss rookie training camp with a dislocated shoulder. No information. Our minor league baseball team, the Columbus Clippers, defeated local rivals the Toledo Mudhens with a two-out, two-run homer to right field in the 12th inning (they ended the disappointing season by beating Toledo, forcing the Mudhens to possibly miss the playoffs). No coverage.

Would it have killed any of you sports dweebs to perhaps event mention any of these events in the final ten seconds of their broadcast instead of bantering with Elizabeth Scarborough while starting at her chest or stuffing your face with buffalo wings?

The sucking up to Buckeye football doesn't end with the local media, it extends into the service industry as well. Whether it is a server or fry cook, someone selling a book, or someone at a gas station punching lottery tickets for eight hours straight many of them appear to be asked to wear something "Buckeye" like a pin or shirt to show support. There is nothing wrong with honest, heartfelt support for a team but transparent ass-kissing to not alienate a segment just makes me ill. I feel lucky my workplace does not force me to support OSU football. Of course having a diverse group from Ohio University, Penn State, Michigan, Hocking Technical, Devry, Franklin University, Columbus State Community College, and Denver working around me helps a little bit.

It's not like I don't want to support the Buckeyes, I have since I was a kid watching Woody and Earl run the sidelines. The past number of years, though, coverage and promotion has simply become overpowering to me. It is like a plate of raw onions. Sure I like onions but I'd like something else as well. The Buckeyes are like too many air fresheners inside a hot car; they smell good but overwhelm you. They are a case of Schlitz when a 12 ounce Guinness would have been more palatable. They are too much cow bell.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Another CSS BMG

What started as a simple project, do a simple but attractive style sheet for a friend's new blog, is turning into a minor annoyance due to CSS, Blogger's CSS and IE. So y'all are going to read yet another CSS BMG (bitch, moan and gripe).

The first BMG is directed at Blogger. Blogger inserts two CSS files for the bar at the top of the blog, one for general layout and one of six for colors. Part of beauty of CSS is that styles cascade from defaults down to inline styles. In other words, if you set the font and color for all paragraph tags then all paragraph tags will have those settings; if you override the color on one via class or id attribute the font will still apply. Well, that screwed me in two ways. First, my settings for margin and padding for all DIV tags were not altered by Blogger's top bar causing layout disaster. If Blogger is going to go through the trouble of overriding every other tag they should ensure every tag they use has every single margin, padding, line-spacing, font, etc. attribute set to not rely upon browser defaults. Second, Blogger's CSS will alter the margins for DIV tags with the IDs of "wrap", "wrap1","wrap2","wrap3" and "wrapper". Here I am banging my head against the wall attempting to find out why I can't move a DIV down no matter what the padding setting on my DIV#wrap was.

The last BMG is directed at Microsoft and that blankety-blank unfixed piece of crap that is IE6. Most Blogger templates use a clear:both or clear:right on the footer DIV so the footer clears the rightmost DIV (usually "recent posts", links, etc.). If you have a DIV that clears inside of another DIV it ignores the margins of the containing DIV. The result in this case is that the content in the left margin gets set to the background color of the containing DIV. Nice. Firefox and Opera render the template without flaw. A Google search puked out about 659,000 hits on the topic of IE quirks with CSS, floats and clear. Using "clear:both" on any element other than a BR, after a "float:right", causes the left border of a higher-level container (in this case a DIV) to be lost in IE6Win. That did the trick.

What's really sad is the number of "hacks" out there to get a "standard" like CSS to display correctly in a browser. Microsoft is clearly the most flagrant violator but Mozilla, Firefox and Opera have and have had their quirks as well over the years. This is fine example of how the computer fails us. It's not like there aren't tests out there (for years now) to assist browser developers in implementing an adequate standard. I'm sure there is massive work to be done behind the scenes, work that probably isn't feasible if you have limited funds or another operating system to shove out the door. When I look back, though, at the man-hours and effort lost to software that does not work or requires "hacks" to get around, and multiply that times how many other nerds like me suffering with this as well, I can't help but feel a little bitter about computer programming. Users deserve better.

Real-life Dilbert-type managers

I've seen these before, but they are always worth a chuckle...

A magazine recently ran a "Dilbert Quotes" contest, looking for people to submit quotes from their real-life Dilbert-type managers. These were voted the top quotes in corporate America:

  1. "As of tomorrow, employees will only be able to access the building using individual security cards. Pictures will be taken next Wednesday, and employees will receive their cards in two weeks." (This was the winning quote from Fred Dales, Microsoft Corp. in Redmond, WA)
  2. "What I need is an exact list of specific unknown problems we might encounter." (Lykes Lines Shipping)
  3. "E-mail is not to be used to pass on information or data. It should be used only for company business." (Accounting manager, Electric Boat Company)
  4. "This project is so important we can't let things that are more important interfere with it." (Advertising/Marketing manager, United Parcel Service)
  5. "Doing it right is no excuse for not meeting the schedule." (Plant Manager, Delco Corporation)
  6. "No one will believe you solved this problem in one day! We've been working on it for months. Now go act busy for a few weeks and I'll let you know when it's time to tell them." (R&D supervisor, Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing/3M Corp.)
  7. Quote from the Boss: "Teamwork is a lot of people doing what I say." (Marketing executive, Citrix Corporation)
  8. My sister passed away and her funeral was scheduled for Monday. When I told my Boss, he said she died on purpose so that I would have to miss work on the busiest day of the year. He then asked if we could change her burial to Friday. He said, "That would be better for me." (Shipping executive, FTD Florists)
  9. "We know that communication is a problem, but the company is not going to discuss it with the employees." (Switching supervisor, AT&T Long Lines Division)

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

I'm seeing rotation

Possible tornado in Pickaway CountyLast night around 6pm or so we had some bad weather come trucking through town; bad weather that included tornado warnings. Of course, whenever anything above a gust appears around here the weather folks on the local news stations wet themselves and go into street-level doppler radar continuous coverage full-on geek erection mode.

I heard about the cell in Pickaway county just as I pulled into the garage. One of the kids called later to ask if we heard about the warning, I said yeah, but after turning on the news there was on just south and east of us heading northeast. Guh-reat. Now here was where the weather nerds got annoying. They would be jabbering amongst themselves and "zooming-in" with "street-level" radar and all you would see is a big yellow blob on the television. C'mon how the hell are we supposed to know where the storm is if we can't see where it is. Zoom back out you dipsticks! I got annoyed with NBC4 and went to ABC6; they were vacant and confused so I ended up at WBNS 10tv. Unlike the other stations they weren't hysterical. Their forecaster actually apologized for interrupting programming but a "tornado warning" took precidence.

The other frustrating point of the evening was the dozens of people calling in with "I saws me some rotation" and "there was rotation" and "Yup, rotation". Could anyone get actual authorities on the line; y'know someone that might actually know if that formation in the sky was actually a funnel cloud, a tornado, or just a storm cloud?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Operation F-Windows Part Two

UbuntuThe "family" file server that was running Windows 2003 Server on an IDEQ-210B mini computer is now Ubuntu Linux 6.06 LTS on the same computer plus an additional 3-Com Gigabit NIC and 400GB Seagate SATA drive to replace the 200GB Seagate PATA.

The conversion was fairly straight forward. I installed the server image using the LAMP option, used a post-install script to update /etc/apt/sources.list, install all additional software, upgrade existing software and apply fixes, then I manually set up Samba. I'm putting the finishing touches on the firewall before I open the machine up to incoming connections from the Internet. All LAN traffic is isolated on the GB NIC while traffic coming from the Internet (and going to it) is restricted to the on-board 10/100 NIC.

I installed the Fluxbox window manager so I can use the mySQL administrator and I am considering the installation of VMWare Virtual Server to isolate various pieces on virtual machines; perhaps even a Windows 2000 Server just for nostalgia or if I want to run Windows programs without having to deal with Wine.

I have to say that I'm happy with the outcome so far. The next big test, really big test, is to see if Ubuntu desktop is good enough for my parents who are looking to step out of the Windows 98SE/dialup world into Yahoo! DSL - which is claiming to require Windows XP. I asked if they wanted to try Linux before plopping down $80 on some version of XP, which makes sense. If it doesn't work, spend the money but if it does, spend that money on yourselves for raising such a fine, well adjusted young man (yes, it's my brother, but that's beside the point).

Spam flood

My main Yahoo! account just received 366 bulk mail messages in two hours. That's about three every minute. I can guarantee every single one of them came from a list over seven years old.

It seems like every spammer will use the line "it's not causing you any harm, just delete them from your inbox if you don't want to read them". That really isn't the problem here. The two problems are 1) it isn't feasible for a person like me to go through the three messages per minute looking for mail that got accidentally marked as spam so I have to result to the "Empty all" feature and hope nothing got flushed by accident, and 2) think of all the wasted traffic and space - if these bulk mailers are blowing their worthless and unwanted wad on a million accounts that's easily over a billion (trillion) bytes of waste.

They are all bottom feeding garbage.

Monday, August 21, 2006

New low point in correctness

from "Tom and Jerry" smoking scenes to be cut after complaint : Reuters

A channel airing the cartoons has agreed to cut scenes that glamorize smoking after British media regulator Ofcom received a complaint from a viewer who took offence at two episodes.

In the first, "Texas Tom," the hapless cat Tom tries to impress a feline female by rolling a cigarette, lighting it and smoking it with one hand. In the second, "Tennis Chumps," Tom's opponent in a match smokes a large cigar.

I grew up watching Bugs Bunny and Tom and Jerry cartoons (largely unedited) and as I am nearing the big four-oh I can't help but get sickened by such blatant sissification of the human race. I don't smoke. I'm pretty damned sure I can make my own decisions about smoking without some British wuss's input. What's really sad is the Tom and Jerry cartoons have already been butchered to make them ethically, racially, socially and just about everyally correct that I get offended every time I see them. I remember every missing scene. "Didn't Bugs shoot Yosemite Sam in the head, there?"

Ugly...

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Loving Husband...

A man and his ever-nagging wife went on vacation to Jerusalem. While they were there, the wife passed away. The undertaker told the husband, "You can have her shipped home for $5,000, or you can bury her here, in the Holy Land, for $150." The man thought about it and told him he would just have her shipped home.

The undertaker asked, "Why would you spend $5,000 to ship your wife home, when it would be wonderful to be buried here and you would spend only $150?"

The man replied, "Long ago a man died here, was buried here, and three days later he rose from the dead. I just can't take that chance."

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

I Object! (part two)

Back in April I had a rant on object oriented programming so I guess this rant is an extension; think of it as bitch plus plus.

I should start off by saying I'm not very friendly towards computer methodology purists; those folks that see the world one way and only one way and any deviation from that is a sin against their god and you therefore kill babies in blenders, eat puppies, etc. I usually take the viewpoint of "code has to be written somewhere, might as well write in the location where it is most efficient and where it will get the most use." Unfortunately, throughout history (long), that viewpoint seems to get me into arguments with the purists because some of the time doing so will break one of the rules of their methodology. I guess the best way to explain this would be to look at a strict, multi-tier object oriented structure.

data service object
provides standardized properties and methods to data objects to isolate them from the physical RDBMS.
data object
creates and uses data service object to
  • delete a stored object by unique ID
  • create or update a stored object by unique ID
  • read a collection of records by unique ID or other searchable field
(aka CRUD) and uses business entities
  • map columns to/from business entity properties
  • requires a business entity to create, read, update or delete
  • creates and returns a collection of business entities for read requests
business entity
contains only properties, overriden methods and constructors
business object
creates and uses data objects to
  • save and delete business entities
  • read business entities
  • search for business entities by searchable field(s)
uses business entities for
  • evaluation of business rules
business objects do not (appear to) have a state (i.e. are stateless);
presentation objects
create (or not?) and use a business object to
  • fetch data that needs to be presented
  • evaluate and store data in business entities

Of course, this structure is just one of a couple dozen "standard" ways of implementing this kind of methodology and there are hundreds of books that would support and/or refute line-by-line everything mentioned above but I'll just go with it but keep my points to a minimum so you don't get bored, teary-eyed, listless and then run off to surf porn.

Why must all business logic be in the business object?

Example #1: in a table containing 14.5 million rows you need to update 1 million rows that meet specific criteria. Do you:

  1. Run a process that creates a business object that creates a data object that retrieves 1 million rows creating a business entity object for each row then returns that collection of objects to the business object which loops through the collection one record at a time making updates to the business entity and using the data object to save the changed business entity (with the data object creating, using then destroying a data service object 1 million and 1 times)?
  2. Run a process that creates a business object that creates a data object that creates a data service object that tells the database to do the whole damn update?

Of course the answer is "depends, does somebody want a report?" because if that "Coke-bottle glasses wearing paper-hoarding genetic mutation that can find a report from March 4, 1982 in a nine foot stack of green bar" wants a report you really can't just pass the whole event to the database – might as well do the whole object tossing process. However, if you want it done in the most efficient manner possible you go to the database, which is already optimized to do such a thing.

Example #2: you need a collection of objects where the selection criteria are not only in the object but in associated objects with 1-1 and 1-many relationships between the two. Do you:

  1. Run a process that creates a business object that creates data objects for each type of object then uses the driving data object to retrieve the initial set of data creating a business entity object for each row then returns that collection of objects to the business object which loops through each of them using the associated data objects to create business entities for each associated record evaluating all criteria adding the business entity to another collection of selected records?
  2. Run a process that creates a business object that creates a data object to fetch a collection of records using pre-defined criteria in both objects to call a database procedure to fetch the result set creating business entities for each row then returning them in a collection to the business object?

If you are the object oriented guru you say the second option, of course.

Huh?

But I thought rules for valuation and evaluation had to be in the business layer because the database shouldn't know how to calculate a balance or determine how old someone is (it should only know how to handle CRUD). Apparently the duplication of logic and relocation of code is acceptable in this case because it provides a more practical and efficient view of "read only" data (I forget what the actual word for this was but it made me just want to say "why don't you simply it read-only instead of something obscure like neojurassient"). Well why not move update logic to the database as well? "No, no, no that violates the rules of separation of business from persistence" they would say as I cocked my head like a dog trying to equate his owner's noises to "am I going to get fed" or "can I go pee on something".

Example #3: you have your three tier framework as solid as a rock then along comes department X (with the blessing of the CEO behind them) with a completely different architecture written in a completely different language. They need minimal read and update integration with your RDBMS. Do you:

  1. Count your blessings because you moved such logic to your RDBMS so everybody who needs to use it can use it?
  2. Create an entirely new layer to interface the two languages?

Of course, you silly fool, the answer is the second one. You write a service and let the foreign system interface with yours using the service. I try to comprehend where the "service" component fits in and my best guess is that it is between the presentation and business logic. I seem to remember Enterprise Java Beans having a similar construct with the "stubs" on the presentation and application tiers talking to each other via RMI (?). Or would the service be a business object? To me the only standard thing between all of these languages and tiers is all of them can talk to a database right out of the box but need a service, web service, RMI, etc. to talk to each other. Seems stupid, doesn't it? I'm not advocating opening up a database to the Internet at all (no way). But it seems like, again, that the higher up the tier the code goes, the more beneficial it is to multiple tiers beneath it and more beneficial to the database in terms of efficiency.

Quote from "Java Enterprise Best Practices"; In spite of my recommendations to avoid stored procedures, there are valid reasons for using them. Specifically, stored procedures can significantly speed up some very complex database operations and encapsulate complex transaction logic. The rule of thumb in these situations is to write the application using prepared statements first and identify the bottlenecks and complexities. Once you have identified them, manage them by moving special cases to the database in the form of stored procedures. If the changes are designed to improve performance and are successful, keep the changes just in those bottlenecks. Also, stored procedures allow the DBA to handle the database logic and allow the programmer to use just the exposed hooks. But, no matter what, never resort to placing business logic into stored procedures!

Okay, just how the hell does this work, add separate code for these cases? Business entities (entity beans in this case) use a persistence manager to load and save themselves. Properties are mapped to/from columns via your code, a meta-data based framework, or by the container. But you still have a one-to-one relationship between "types" of business objects. The "more efficient in this case" stored procedure is going to be doing most if not all of the complex transaction. I assume this involves a number of tables and records at the simplest level (persist all of these records) or some business logic (if this situation exists, do this, etc. in addition to persisting data). Does the business object (session bean) bypass the business entity and perform a direct action through the data service (through a special business entity)?

Does anybody understand why I get frustrated sometimes? It just seems to me that through all of this decoupling, separation and redundancy this whole ideology is adding a lot more physical code, more hardware requirements and the need for more resources to manage the latter with the same amount of direct one-to-one coupling? A lot of the time I think it is the responsibility factor kicking in when I start asking questions about why this framework is better than the other one or why this RDBMS is better than this one or why should we throw money and time into something that is probably replacing something that works but isn't current?

Monday, August 07, 2006

Yeah it looks funny, so what

Okay, for the one or two of you that might actually read this blog and are wondering why it looks so funny - blame Awardspace.com. The stylesheet (for the non-geek, a stylesheet is a plain text file that contains information used to format elements of the web page; like setting a default font or moving the menu box to the right) is hosted there. I went with an external style sheet because every time I would change the template I would have to republish the entire blog; which a while ago was a gigantic pain in the ass with a moderately sized blog such as the Grouch Blog (or Blog of the Dead). With a separate stylesheet I could simply change it on the fly without having to republish. It's actually quite cool; Blogger should seriously consider providing space for external templates and associated files (like images). Back to the problem, though. Awardspace is doing maintance on their CP1 server: All accounts and web sites on CP1 server of AWARDSPACE.COM cluster will be down due to hardware upgrade.. They also did this on July 24, July 21 and June (depends on which news link you click, for some reason the downtimes don't appear on all pages... gasp). Oh well, I get what I pay for...

to mySpace or not mySpace

I'm debating on whether or not I need to get something on myspace.com; yes, that seizure inducing collection of broken HTML, annoying Flash and molested CSS. Grouchette has one. Both her kids have one. So I should get one, right? I don't want to be left out of the pool of over-sexualized, hip-hop teenagers and college students and the creeps that prey on them, do I? Where else can I become friends with complete strangers and people that probably wouldn't give me the time of day or even acknowledge my existence at a bar or other public setting?

At the risk of feeling left out I might have to pass on this trend. I had a personal home page (the Grouch Net) back when the web was in its infancy (to show you just how much of a fossil I am, this was back before Internet Explorer even existed and Netscape was displacing the Mosaic browser). Eventually I switched from the ISP hosted space to a geoCities web page. Then I got bored maintaining it; why bother maintaining something when there were millions of identical pages out there. I had a live journal for a while. I created the Grouch Blog as "blogging" was getting very popular. Again, though, there are millions of other blogs out there so why maintain this one? I ask myself that question every time I post to it. Then I see the other blogs out there on Blogger and can easily state about eighty percent of them are crap.

The disturbing trend in Blogger blogs is making them look like mySpace pages. Instead of using one of the adequate templates they provide, these bloggers are thrusting these black background, microscopic font, disable everything, squeezed into a narrow scrolled window "masterpieces" at us. Good lord, am I that out of touch? Is this what is cool? There is also a picture template people are starting to use that does not render well in all browsers.

Which brings me back to mySpace. I'm too old for mySpace. Even if I wanted to be cool and feel younger I'm still too old for mySpace. I'm not cool enough for mySpace. I would want to change mySpace to make it conform to my relatively bland but readable presentation style. So, I'll abstain from mySpace and concentrate on what I do best, complain about stuff to probably nobody.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Why! Why! Why!

Yesterday was not a banner day in regards to scenery here at work. There seems to be this disturbing trend going on: people who shouldn't be wearing skin-tight clothing with sexually suggestive text are wearing skin-tight clothing with sexually suggestive text. If your ass can fit two or three hot, sexy asses inside of it's gravitational pull - don't wear sweats with the letters "Just Do It" cheaply ironed on their backside. If you look like a pear with two straws jammed in the bottom for legs - don't wear a T-Shirt with the Tootsie-Pop dude and turtle with the line "Wanna Lick?". If you look like a meatball on top of two chicken wings - don't wear a t-shirt two sizes too small just because it shows your "tramp stamp". Good lord... And if you are a 8-17 year old you do not need to be wearing clothing with words like "HOTTIE", "SMOKIN'" or words that basically are the equivalent of "have intercourse with me" stamped across your chest.

The only saving grace of yesterday's nausea was the incredibly cute blond who thought I was talking to her (when I was really talking to a co-worker).

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Yet another Windows annoyance

My laptop is an older Presario 730US (aka the crotch cooker) with only 256MB of RAM and limited disk space. It came with XP Home pre-installed which I used one of my "Upgrade" licenses for XP Professional on. Compared to the workstations I have at work and home it is quite slow; 4200 RPM drive and realistically base memory for XP. Needless to say I run the laptop as bare as possible. One of the things I found recently was is you turn "Automatic Updates" off you save 8-13MB of memory. Yeah that seems like nothing compared but years of mainframe and other systems analyst work I have done over the years knows better; every little bit counts. For example; you can save large chunks of memory in CICS by making required programs resident so they don't load on 4K page boundaries but load compacted behind each other (you see the same thing in the Windows world where software products will state "Load Faster" but what they are doing is loading .dll files and crap into memory and leaving them there; so yeah their product will load faster but do you really need that there all the time taking up memory that can be used elsewhere). When it came to Automatic Updates, there are more powerful workstations with that setting "On" so when they download and install updates I would plan to do the same manually on the laptop. At least that was the idea.

I knew an update recently came down from the Land 'O Gates so I tried to use Windows Update.

The site cannot continue because one or more of these Windows services is not running:

  • Automatic Updates (allows the site to find, download and install high-priority updates for your computer)
  • Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS) (helps updates download more quickly and without problems if the download process is interrupted)
  • Event Log (keeps a record of updating activities to help with troubleshooting, if needed)
When I go to services, all three are started. Okay, WTF? So I go to Security Center and turn "Automatic Updates" back on. The laptop pretty much slows to a crawl as the computer goes out and does something (I assume since the CPU fan sounds like a jet plane and the hard drive light is almost constantly on that it's downloading updates and installing them. Yup. There's the bubble. Two security, one Windows XP, WGA and the Malicious Software Removal Tool (hey, remove WGA for me).

Of course the point of this long rant is I lose a bit of functionality and have to accept yet another thing on my computer that is not needed all the time and plays a very small part in the performance of the laptop.

Even better; restart is required - which means it will f'ing nag me every fifteen minutes. How f'ing annoying...

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Dear husband

Dear Husband:

I'm writing you this letter to tell you that I'm leaving you for good. I've been a good woman to you for seven years and I have nothing to show for it.

These last two weeks have been hell. Your boss called to tell me that you had quit your job today and that was the last straw. Last week, you came home and didn't notice that I had gotten my hair and nails done, cooked your favorite meal and even wore a brand new negligee. You came home and ate in two minutes, and went straight to sleep after watching the game. You don't tell me you love me anymore, you don't touch me or anything. Either you're cheating or you don't love me anymore, what ever the case is, I'm gone.

P.S. If you're trying to find me, don't. Your BROTHER and I are moving away to West Virginia together! Have a great life!

Your EX-Wife

Dear Ex-Wife

Nothing has made my day more than receiving your letter.

It's true that you and I have been married for seven years, although a good woman is a far cry from what you've been. I watch sports so much to try to drown out your constant nagging. Too bad that doesn't work. I did notice when you cut off all of your hair last week, the first thing that came to mind was "You look just like a man!" My mother raised me to not say anything if you can't say anything nice. When you cooked my favorite meal, you must have gotten me confused with MY BROTHER, because I stopped eating pork seven years ago. I went to sleep on you when you had on that new negligee because the price tag was still on it. I prayed that it was a coincidence that my brother had just borrowed fifty dollars from me that morning and your negligee was $49.99. After all of this, I still loved you and felt that we could work it out. So when I discovered that I had hit the lotto for ten million dollars, I quit my job and bought us two tickets to Jamaica. But when I got home you were gone. Everything happens for a reason I guess.

I hope you have the filling life you always wanted. My lawyer said with your letter that you wrote, you won't get a dime from me. So take care.

P.S. I don't know if I ever told you this but Carl, my brother was born Carla. I hope that's not a problem.

Signed Rich As Hell and Free!

Learn Chinese in 5 minutes

That's not right
Sum Ting Wong
Are you harbouring a fugitive
Hu Yu Hai Ding
See me ASAP
Kum Hia
Stupid Man
Dum Fuk
Small Horse
Tai Ni Po Ni
Did you go to the beach
Wai Yu So Tan
I bumped the coffee table
Ai Bang Mai Fa Kin Ni
I think you need a face lift
Chin Tu Fat
It's Very dark in here
Wai So Dim
I Thought you were on a diet
Wai Yu Mun Ching
This is a tow away zone
No Pah King
Our meeting is scheduled for next week
Wai Yu Kum Nao
Staying out of sight
Lei Ying Lo
He's cleaning his automobile
Wa Shing Ka
Your body odor is offensive
Yu Stin Ki Pu
Great
Fa Kin Su Pah

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The World Cup, is over

Well the FIFA 2006 World Cup (soccer) is over and Germany can get back to normal after Italy defeated France in the final 5-3 on penalty kicks after player the full ninety minutes and both overtime periods tied at one. Germany (the host country) beat Portugal in the consolation game to come in third. This World Cup will certainly have some lasting memories; unfortunately a number of them aren't positive.

The moment where retiring French midfield virtuoso Zinedine Yazid Zidane ran in front of Italian defender Marco Materazzi, turned, then gave him a running head-butt in the chest; will leave the ugliest mark. Did he call Zidane "the son of a terrorist whore"; we will never know. This won't stop FIFA, however, from stepping in and investigating Zidane and possibly taking away his golden ball (for being voted best player in the 2006 World Cup by journalists) and investigating Materazzi. It was a sad way to end a historic career but Zidane could have done far worse by ignoring him, creating a confrontation on the field (cautions would have been issued to each), winning the match for France, and then letting the rest of the hyperventilating, religious fanatical world know exactly what Materazzi said.

The 2006 World Cup will also be remembered for the sheer number of ejections and cautions issued by the tournament's referees; and in tangent the hysterics of some noted players. England's Wayne Rooney will be remembered for stomping on Portugese player Ricardo Carvalho's junk. Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo will be remembered for his "gamesmanship" (sissy flops) and for netting the winning penalty kick against England to put them out of the tournament. Did I mention Cristiano plays for Manchester United in the English Premiership? There was a lot of "gamesmanship" in this World Cup after an apparent drop from the last tournament. Opinions differ to the accepted level of "gamesmanship"; I fall dead on the side of "I hate it and it is ruining the sport". The Nike Jogo Bonito (the beautiful game) commercials leading up to the World Cup were prompting professionals to play beautifully and cut the crap – they seemed to have little effect. Call them "fouls" if you must but every time I see the acting and the attempts to embellish and the outright flops I just want to puke (especially if they lead to a goal). In almost every sport there is "gamesmanship" where you try to earn the foul to put your team in a prime position but too many take it too far.

For us Americans, it seems like the majority of us didn't give a crap about the 2006 World Cup. Many radio personalities and writers, sports and non-sports, couldn't wait to let loose about how boring soccer is and how nobody cares about the sport, etc. When the United States squad faltered out in miserable fashion many of the same writers were quick to judge things. But wait, I thought you didn't care about the sport – why do you continue to write about it? I don't get it.

When discussing the almost complete failure (they tied Italy, so it wasn't a complete failure) of the US Men's National Team there was plenty of blame to go around. Every player on the field shoulders the blame. The coaches should shoulder the blame. What happened? Instead of pointing fingers (I've already done that elsewhere, hee hee) I just want to thank former Columbus Crew and current USMNT and Fulham FC forward Brian McBride because he deserved better than this.

Yeah, the FIFA 2006 World Cup is over. In 2010 there will be another one with numerous friendly and qualifying matches leading up to it. Hopefully 2010 will bring a better feeling to the sport I grew up with and came back to.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Operation F-Windows Part One

I just fired the first salvo in my “Operation F-Windows” campaign. I have a spare workstation at work and installed Ubuntu Linux (desktop) on it. Although I still cannot recommend Linux for the casual or novice computer user this release of Ubuntu, 6.06 LTS aka “Dapper Drake”, was a completely pain free install for a computer literate person like myself.

The Dapper CD starts a live version of Ubuntu, placing an Install icon on the live desktop. You click the icon to install and go from there. The installation correctly identified all of the hardware on the IBM ThinkCentre model 8183-3U: video and sound are working. I was able to plug in a USB thumb-drive and have it instantly recognized (something you have to do manually in the server version, by the way). The base system has Open Office software and the Firefox Internet browser.

Most users will want all of the goodies for their desktop and browsing experience and the best way to accomplish that is to do Google search on Ubuntu post install script. Easy Ubuntu seems to be a popular one. I opted to do everything manually but will build a script to use for future installations of Ubuntu server and desktop. The post install scripts assist you with getting most common items installed; like video CODECS, CD/DVD recording, Java, Flash player, etc.

Since this workstation will be for development I installed Eclipse from the repository. I also installed Opera 9, my preferred browser.

I have had only one crash since installation. After installing the Firestarter package the machine hard-locked with it's GUI and Firefox loaded. I'm not sure if this is a fluke or a bug. Some of the problems I've had in the past with Ubuntu have been fixed (lock-up with screen saver, GRUB not working, Open Office locking up on large documents).

So far this has been a pleasant experience. The next step is to convert the “family server” at home from Windows 2003 to Ubuntu. The only thing the machine is used for is file sharing, backups, proxy cache for anti-virus files, and the occasional bit torrent; all easily replaced by Samba, squid, and Azureus.

This blog entry was made from that workstation.

Another holiday

Another holiday down the tubes. I pretty much slept through most of it and spent the rest with the dog or in front of the computer. Flush.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Adobe Reader pains

Why in the hell do I need to reboot Windows after upgrading Adobe Acrobat Reader? Going from .5 to .7 to .8 required three reboots. Plus they wanted to jam some photo album in there as well.

Your program reads .PDF files. I want to read a .PDF either the file association or mime type will start the appropriate reader. What is being loaded that cannot be uploaded to upgrade? If I'm not viewing a .PDF then there should be nothing on my system pertaining to a damned .PDF.

Windows is Genuinely Assine

from Ed Bott's Microsoft Report:

He told me that "in the fall, having the latest WGA will become mandatory and if its not installed, Windows will give a 30 day warning and when the 30 days is up and WGA isn't installed, Windows will stop working, so you might as well install WGA now."

The latest version of WGA or "Windows Genuine Advantage" went out Tuesday and my workstation wanted to install the thing yesterday when I put the .Net 2.0 framework on it. I declined the EULA and it didn't install; until 24 hours later. One day later almost to the minute there are updates for me to download and install - only one - WGA. I cancel the installation but WGA installs itself anyways asking for a reboot. I tell it I don't want to reboot now because I'm downloading an .iso image. It pops up again about ten minutes later wanting to reboot and my choices are now or later (what happened to manually, like when I want to reboot).

Personally, I am getting sick and damn tired of Microsoft. Why do I need WGA to remain resident? If I run WGA and it determines my copy of Windows XP is legit then why in the hell does it have to check the same install on the same machine again? Why does it have to stay installed? If I'm good, I'm good - right?

Earlier this month it was proven that WGA was phoning home to Microsoft and sending information. This same little piece of crap is now going to have the ability to make your purchased copy of Windows (separate or what came with your machine) stop working if you do not have WGA.

This is a flaming load of dogshit.

What if some keygen out there figured out my key and some noodle-head is using it illegally?

How in the blue hell does Microsoft build any type of trust in people when their software continues to contain critical flaws, has a component that phones home without your knowledge, forces you to accept a piece of software you don't need after initial verification and takes the cavalier attitude that you have to accept this whether you like it or not else they will make the piece of hardware you spent a good chunk of change on and the license of XP Professional that you bought and shut them down.

My friend Dave is already dual booting to Linux. Some folks at work use Linux on laptops and some folks own Macintosh computers. I can guarantee from this point forward that eventually only one workstation I own will have Windows XP Professional. The "family" server will be converted to Ubuntu Linux running Samba and Apache. My mega-sooper-gigundo box will be converted to Ubuntu Linux with VMWare Server. All development workstations will be Linux with Open Office and Eclipse. The versions of C# Express, SQL Server Express, and Web Developer Express I downloaded yesterday will not be installed.

I've been dealing with Windows since 3.0 (and one copy of 286) and Microsoft has made my blood boil so many times it is getting stupid. There have been too many times where their flaws and their problems and underhanded techniques have made me so violent I had to break something. They have frustrated me seven times more than IBM, Computer Associates and Oracle combined.

Enough is enough.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

USA vs. Ghana

Let's just say, for now, all I want to do is go drink a gallon of gasoline then go puke on a campfire.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Bitch, bitch, bitch ...

Sorry but I really feel like bitching this morning. The majority of items I would like to bitch about either shouldn't be bitched about publicly or cannot be bitched about public without some sort of life altering effect. So I'll just let my brain puke; let it all out then go to its nice quiet place.

First of all I'm disappointed the Edmonton Oilers fell short of winning the Stanley Cup from the Carolina Hurricanes. I have nothing against the Carolina players or the coaching staff, which if you have half a brain and do some simple math you could probably figure out the individual I have issue with. Nothing would have made me happier than to see them lose but they had a good team and a little luck (the Buffalo was wounded and the Oilers lost two of those four games when their goalie went down) on their side. Game 7 was set up for such a heartbreaking defeat, too. They got an early lead, added insurance, has a goal that was not counted (controversy) – all Edmonton had to do was even it then net one in overtime to create a vortex of disappointment so big it would have sucked the ocean inland three or four miles. But it didn't happen.

Our housing subdivision is a half-mile road that has a speed limit of 25 miles per hour and has no stop signs on it. It is really hard to stay at the speed limit and it is really easy for cops on motorcycles to hide and write tickets left and right. I've seen the same motorcycle cop hidden on a 25 mile per hour street in the neighboring town. It seems like the Columbus Police Department has an entire group of individuals for this type of enforcement. I don't like to dump on police officers, they have tough jobs and take a lot of crap from vermin and people that deserve a bullet in the brain, but it's this type of enforcement that really upsets me. There are speed traps all over the city of Columbus and its suburbs and eventually you could get caught in one of them; which will cost you around $120 out of your pocket and potentially hundreds of dollars per year in adjusted vehicle insurance due to the incident. Is this really serving and positively benefiting the public? If I were to get a ticket for 28 in a 25 is that really that big of a threat in our community, especially when compared to the number of garage thefts, vandalism, and illegal garbage dumps in our area?

I'm tired of the movie / recording / software industry doing things that remove value from something I purchased or rented. I've had my fill of un-skip-able previews on DVD discs; where you have to sit through three or four previews and advertisements before even getting to the menu on the disc to play it. I'm tired of the recording industry force feeding the same garbage while installing potentially damaging software on my computer. I am sick and fucking tired of Adobe Acrobat Reader and having to reboot my computer twice while having a bunch of junk offered to me for a download. There is no reason why Acrobat should need to reboot my computer unless they are hooking into crap they shouldn't be hooking into. I'm sick of copy protection on games that require Administrator rights to install and run; and well any copy protection that in the long run does not prevent piracy and inconveniences the user. I'm sick of Microsoft and their monopolistic world. Now we learn WGA (Windows Genuine Advantage) is an adaptive piece of code that talks to Microsoft servers. Way to build our trust, Bill. I have dealt with Microsoft's crap for over fifteen years now and I'm just sick of them.

Well it's nine o'clock and I'm just getting grouchier by the minute. I'm already going to have to stay an hour later to make up for this time here at work. Great.

Monday, June 19, 2006

USA World Cup Woes

It is almost a full two days since the FIFA World Cup 2006 match between the Italians and the United States of America. I still feel a great sense of disappointment at what has transpired so far. Here is where we stand:

The US must beat Ghana on Thursday or we go home hanging our heads in shame. If we beat Ghana a couple of other things must happen. The best case scenario would be a win against Ghana with Italy beating the Czech Republic; which would leave Italy on top of Group E with us in second. Now is where it gets both interesting and disappointing. If the Italians lose they would be equal in points with us so the goal differential must favor the United States (i.e. we must beat Ghana by 1-5 goals depending upon how badly Italy loses; they have +2 we have -3) and the Czech Republic advances. If the Czech Republic and Italians tie, then Italy will advance winning Group E and the Czech Republic would be equal in points with us; taking it to goal differential (i.e. we must beat Ghana by five or more goals; they have +1 we have -3).

As you can probably tell it would make things much, much easier if Italy wins; at least until the next round. The runner-up (that would be us) in Group E plays the winner of Group F (that would be Brazil unless they somehow manage to totally puke their match against bottom dwelling Japan and the Australians just pulverize Croatia; chances of that happening are worse than the USA advancing).

It would be interesting to see a match-up against Brazil. The Brazilian central defense is frequently questioned even though they are pretty solid compared to the rest of the team full of vibrant, highly skilled players. The United States would have to have a solid, densely packed defense and midfield to stifle the fluid Brazilian attack. They would have to patient as well, like France was in the 1998 World Cup.

First things first though; we need to beat the team speed of Ghana. Like the United States, Ghana will have so key players out due to caution accumulations/ejections. The USA will be without Pablo Mastroeni (red carded vs. Italy) and Eddie Pope (two yellow cards and subsequent ejection vs. Italy). Although Pablo has merit I don't feel as strongly about Pope. Eddie Pope has been a rock for the USA for numerous international matches but all rocks eventually erode. He was beaten on the first goal for Italy and may have seen his last action for the national team. I have a feeling Brian McBride will not start against Ghana as well. There are a number of younger, hungrier players sitting on the bench that might be better options.

It should be an interesting match on Thursday. I have a bad feeling we won't have a repeat of 2002 where we slipped into the next round by the skin of our teeth. Knowing the World Cap and the "soccer gods" I vision a 1-1 or 0-0 tie in the ITA vs. CZE match leaving us short on goal differential with whatever we do against Ghana.

Crazier things have happened, though.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Personal Internet use at work

Internet usage in the corporate world is a touchy subject to being with but with recent compromise of taxpayer records at the Oregon Department of Revenue (an employee downloaded a Trojan from a porn site) this topic will blitz its way through management and the hysterical committees. But just how much Internet usage at work is acceptable and what type of usage is acceptable? In my opinion it breaks down into to two categories: time and content

Time

Personally, I don't care how much personal time you spend on the Internet as long as you are putting in your allocated work time. If you are supposed to be working forty hours a week then work forty ore more hours a week. Personal usage can usually be allotted to lunch; simply eat lunch at your desk while catching up on news or whatever. I will take time in the morning to read news, catch up on hockey and soccer, do a sudoku puzzle and participate in some message forums. If I spend a little too much time I will always add time to the end of the day to keep a simple eight hour day. If I know there will be rain for the drive home one afternoon I will put in time there to avoid the idiots on the roads; which leaves time for personal Internet or extra time in the gym

Some people will complain that they have down-time or slow-periods where they are either bored doing nothing or can surf the web. I have a mixed reaction to that. If you are part-time or on a job that has busy and slow periods then maybe some personal Internet time is warranted unless the office works to help each other out during peaks. If you are slow while another area is getting slammed then maybe you should help them out (and they should reciprocate). If you are a programmer like me you should be bettering yourself through education during off-time

Content

Obviously there are some places you shouldn't go when using the office Internet. Pornography is almost universally unacceptable but there are gray areas. Some "humor" or "not safe for work" content sites might have pictures of women flashing their racks along with pictures of mother ducks walking her chicks into a storm drain and animations of dogs eating their own barf. Obviously the naked breasts are wrong but that mother duck was funny and cute. A little humor works wonders when you are dealing with idiots all day long

The extreme point of view is "no personal use under any circumstances" – which is a harsh policy but really the only one that almost guarantees so workstations get compromised. Such organizations will usually have content filtered through a proxy, will log EVERYTHING you do, and will actively monitor your workstation with about eight scanning programs. In such environments it is best just to not use the corporate workstations to go to the Internet for anything. Don't even request access. As a consultant I had to be extremely careful what I did because the slightest infraction could be used against me to negate a contract or worse. A friend of mine got sent off a contact for having Yahoo! Sports in his bookmarks. If a client had any Internet policy or made me sign anything that weighed more than a can of pop I would simply say "no thanks" and worked without the Internet. If I needed something I would make the client do it. Sometimes they got the point

The other extreme is totally free and unrestricted access. While awesome as this might be it leads to compromised computers and plenty of content problems. Sites that start this way usually end up implementing this next type of policy

The most common policy I see in place in business entities is what I call the "gray area" policy. It is a policy drafted by some legal team somewhere that basically says "do what you want but don't do anything is wrong or will offend anybody, else we retain the right to punish you (for doing something wrong that might be wrong or might not be wrong or we might have no idea if it is wrong or we simply don't give a rat's hiney just as long as we cannot be held liable for anything)." It is policies like this one that scare me because I simply don't know what to do right and an employer can always use something I did in the past to justify an action towards you in the future. If the policy is gray then the button leading to the Internet should probably be gray as well.

Or if you want to have a little fun, mail the list of web sites you are going to access then have your supervisor sign-off on them. If your management is as gray as the policy they will eventually get tired of you annoying them all the time and either yank everything or give you full access.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Parasites

What an awful, depressing day this has been so far. It all started this morning when I found a partially gorged tick attached to my upper leg, dangerously close to my junk. My whole day has been screwed now as I feel crummy and totally "skeeved" out by the parasite. Most diseases carried by ticks are transmitted in the 24-48 hour time frame of the feeding period, so hopefully I'm okay there. The dog was most likely the source of the tick; we found three on its paws this morning and it hopped up on my lap a couple of times last night.

Oh well. It's not like I can turn to the news for comfort. Microsoft warned of 8 "critical" security flaws; great.

Speaking of parasites, apparently FEMA money for hurricane Katrina victims has been used for Hawaiian and Caribbean vacations, sex changes, divorces, "Girls Gone Wild" videos, season tickets to see the New Orleans Saints, Dom Perignon champagne, and various sex toys. Now I know these are simply the worst examples out of a program that benefited a lot of people left homeless and in horrible conditions but between victims using money for cocaine and breast implants to the millions who defraud government programs and insurance there comes a time where the normal people on this planet just have to say enough is enough. Most of us are tired of carrying these parasites through taxes and high insurance rates only to watch them continue to feed. There are published documents circulating through our country the show exactly how to come to this country, gain citizenship as quick as possible by exploiting the marriage system and family services, the live off government hand outs and lawsuits. While it might appear the lower class vermin are responsible for this, the same type of parasites exists in the upper layers of society. Like the lower class frauds, these upper class vermin know exactly who to exploit for power and profit while they also have the funds to both protect themselves from both government and authority. For every seven-figure salaried CEO that drives their company into the ground (sorry; navigates their corporation successfully through the harsh economic landscape) there could be numerous if not millions of investors and employees that suffer for doing nothing but their jobs while the people at the top enjoy separation funds more than any of those beneath would see in a lifetime and, more than likely, become head of another organization (or President as the ultra-liberal here pointed out – shaking my head).

Sometimes I feel as though the control over my life is slowly slipping away from me into the hands of the vermin and the extremes. There will come a time (if it isn't here already) that I won't be able to do anything about this politically because the ignorant and the extreme will control the vote. It's just depressing.

Wow, I really (sarcasm) want to go back to work now.

Is it just me?

Or is posting here on Blogger.com been a pain in the ass the past couple of weeks?

Blogger postings have been a complete pain in the ass for well over a week now. I am beginning to get really pissed at this. Being in computers I know hardware and software upgrades can be a bitch, especially if they are unplanned (i.e. a component and it's redundant part both fail, or if capacity is breached unexpectedly) but when continuous problems occur over more than a couple of weeks then there is reason for concern. I know Blogger is a free service so theoretically I don't have room to complain because I am (theoretically) not paying the bills but even with free services there is a certain level of quality and service you should expect; Blogger is riding that line right now.

On thing that seemed to help with the last one-liner post I made was going into settings and turning the RSS feed off. To be honest, the crap I write is not worthy of and I certainly am not important enough to have an RSS feed and it's just one more thing the publishing script has to do when publishing a post. I already had the "Notify weblogs.com" turned off.

Monday, June 12, 2006

USA vs. Czech Republic

At noon EST the United States Men's National Soccer team takes on the Czech Republic in the first round of the 2006 Fifa World cup. I'm unfortunately going to have to view the first half via match tracker on the Internet but hope to get out for the second half.

The United States is in Group E, the "group of death", with Italy, Ghana and the Czech Republic. Many are predicting the United States won't get past Italy or the Czech Republic and will be sent home early. Of course, that makes the match taking place in about fifteen minutes pretty damn important. Well every match is important, but all eyes will be on this one.

Personally, I think we have a chance of surviving the "group of death" but only through mistake free play. At this level of competition a single mistake can break the game.

Links:

Go USA!

Update

Wow, that was depressing... Out-played, out-coached, out-scored and looking like out-of-the-whole-damn-thing.

Shoot the doctors?

  • The number of doctors in the U.S. is 700,000.
  • Accidental deaths caused by physicians per year are 120,000.
  • Accidental deaths per physician is 17.14%.
Statistics: courtesy of the U.S.Dept of Health & Human Services
  • The number of gun owners in the U.S. is 80,000,000.
  • The number of accidental gun deaths per year, all age groups, is 1,500.
  • The number of accidental deaths per gun owner is 0.001875%.
Statistics: courtesy of the FBI

So statistically, doctors are approximately 9,000 times more dangerous than gun owners.

Remember, guns don't kill people, doctors do.

FACT: NOT EVERYONE HAS A GUN, BUT ALMOST EVERYONE HAS AT LEAST ONE DOCTOR.

Please alert your friends to this alarming threat. We must ban doctors before this gets completely out of hand!!!

Out of concern for the public at large, I have withheld statistics on lawyers for fear the shock would cause people to panic and seek medical attention...

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

ABC...

Alphabetic lists that describe yourself seem to be floating through blogs recently; oh well, here's me:
  1. is for American, which is what I am
  2. is for big butts, which I like and can't deny
  3. is for computers that require my programming skills that my employer pays me for
  4. is for drawing that I do occasionally
  5. is for evil, quite scary
  6. is for something that I like doing but cannot mention in public
  7. is for Grouchy, for obvious reasons
  8. is for hockey, which I like to play on ice someday; go Bluejackets (and for this year's Stanley Cup, go Oilers)
  9. is for intelligence which I seem to have some of
  10. is the first letter of my first name
  11. is for something else I can't mention
  12. is for Libertarian, a direction I am slightly leaning
  13. is for metal, my favorite type of music
  14. is for nothing, something I do more frequently
  15. is for oriental food - their noodles are quite tasty
  16. is for pizza, also quite yummy
  17. is for quality, something I strive for
  18. is for running - something I should be doing more of to get into shape
  19. is for soccer, which I like to play; go Crew
  20. is for Trish Stratus, the hot WWE wrasslin' babe
  21. is for ugliness, something I see in life too frequently
  22. is for "Vulgar Display of Power", the CD I am currently listening to
  23. is for weight training I try to do at work once a day
  24. is for x-rays, which I have had done on my kidneys, right finger, left arm, feet and teeth
  25. is for youth; something I wish I could relive
  26. is for zombie fiction; found here

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Evil...... Eeeeeevillllll !

It's an evil day folks. Tuesday June 6th, 2006 might look normal to most people but when you look at it from a numerical standpoint it is 06/06/06. Holy sh*t, then number 666 is in there - ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Seriously, though. Is the world coming to an end? No. Is the great Satan going to devour our spleens in an orgy of lust? No. Are we going to get a semi-truck full of email bombs and messenger viruses? Yup. Crap. Here are some interesting links I felt like listing just for giggles.

There are plenty of other references out there but I'll leave it up to you to find them.

The important thing to remember here is if you honestly feel fear and/or respect of today then by all means repent; be good to your fellow man in the last waning moments of the universe. Or should you sin like no tomorrow because no salvation is at hand?

Friday, June 02, 2006

Sick...

Sometimes I just get so sick of this world.

This all started at about 3am yesterday morning. I woke up in a cold sweat with jabbing pains in my kidneys and gut. I would have sworn it was the kidney stone in my right kidney deciding to get off its lazy ass and make its searing pain inducing journey to my bladder. I barfed up the ibuprofen I downed to kill the pain. It roughed up my throat pretty bad, there was some blood. About two hours of suffering passed until I started feeling comfortable enough to go to sleep.

Of course, that was when everybody in the house got up for school and work. The majority of the day was spent on the couch or in bed, my girlfriend's dog loyally by my side most of the way.

It is about 1pm now. I'm at work now, hoping that the turkey sandwich and Gatorade I had for lunch will digest without feeling like a toilet brush going through my small and large intestines.

Needless to say I'm in a grumpier mood than usual. A lot of things are getting to me; I want to just go off on some people. It reminds me of how much I just don't like my life and some of the people in it. Of course I shouldn't go into details in a public forum like an online journal.

So here I sit, waiting for a couple of people to do their jobs so I can do mine. I should just go home. The whole experience has been physically draining. Then again, if I go home there will probably be just as many problems and crap as here at work. It makes a person just want to go curl into fetal position in a sewer somewhere.