Monthly Archives: July 2006

Credit Cards

A few credit card companies sent me updated cards in the past month, including one which didn’t expire for another two years.  Makes me wonder if the credit companies know something I don’t.

Anyway, all these credit cards require activation, including my ATM card. The activation procedure for one is simple: call the number, they hit the caller ID database and say, “Thank you for calling. Your card is now activated.” Other companies require you to type in the credit card number in full, others the last few digits of your Social Security Number (which is illegal to use as an identification number), etc.  Do only a very few companies know what Caller ID is?  And what’s with the plethora of calls trying to get me to buy the oh-so-useful credit insurance crap lately? Leave me alone!

This has been your random surreal moment of the day.  Please pull through.

Untrustworthy Army Computing

The Army is mandating Trusted Computing for their new machine purchases. Of course, Trusted Computing only works with Microsoft Vista, which is vapor at this time. And, doesn’t having to trust Microsoft instead of you users imply that you believe the soldiers you have trained are less responsible than a large faceless blameless corporation?

I watch the military system administrators and their contract counterparts struggle with Windows 2000 and XP on a daily basis. Our unclassified computers currently have at least two errors popping up every time we log into them. They also reset the internet homepage and proxy settings seemingly at random. The standard response to almost any error on Windows is, “we don’t know why it’s doing that.  Reboot it.” I can just imagine when the SysAds are no longer even capable of doing anything on the machines that Microsoft hasn’t previously approved…We’re doomed.

Five Years of Computer Time = ???

As I was clearing out old documents and files from my email attachment directory, I came across a receipt for a Micron computer, purchased in December of 2000. Understand, I never buy the top of the line, but usually something more reasonable.  This is what passed for reasonable in 2000:

AMD Athlon 1 Ghz CPU
128 MB of RAM
20 GB hard drive
8x CDRW drive
12-40x DVD-ROM drive
GeForce2 AGP card
Soundblaster Live Value edition
56k Modem
100 Mbps network card
MS Office Small Business edition
Oh, and I got a free Zip drive.  That was useful.

And all of that was a mere…1800 dollars and change. After shipping and tax, it was just over two grand.  And now that machine would make a dandy footrest. I was looking through the Sunday paper today and came across several laptops that have 2 Ghz procressors and a gig of memory and 100 gig hard drive and dual-layer DVD burners, for 800 bucks.  What a difference five years makes, eh?

Politics Are Weird

From the [info]altfriday5:

1. How well do you understand your country*’s electoral system? Give us a quick summary of how it works. Diebold makes machines to count all the votes they can. The votes get counted in secret, via processes no citizen is allowed to know. Whichever corporation bought the most votes chooses the next President.
2. What, if anything, do you not like about your country’s electoral system? If you were in charge of reforming it, what would you change? The opacity.

3. What, if anything, do you like about your country’s electoral system?? Even small states get some vote. There is no legal way to keep anyone (non-felon, etc) from running for office.

4. Some countries use fixed dates for elections , and some allow them to be called as needed, within certain limits. Which do you think is the better system? Why? Fixed dates are what I’m used to, so the other system seems more chaotic to me.

5. Some countries use proportional representation and some use majoritarian (or some combination thereof). Which do you think is the better system? Why? I’d prefer a proportional system, as it requires more compromise and coalition-building, instead of just saying the 51% rule and the 49% shut up and color.

*Where “your country” = the one that you can vote in, or will be able to vote in when you are of age

The Questioner says: Don’t forget your links!



Happy Birthday to me. I made a cake. I’m told that I’m not using an authentic Bavarian recipe for Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte, but I like it anyway.

LCD Twits

Dear people who change the resolution at work:

LCD monitors have one resolution.  That is all.  It is not debatable.  There is no judgement call, no opinion, no possibility of misunderstanding.  LCD panels have one fixed resolution.  Yes, they will sync up at lower resolutions (and sometimes higher, which must be seen to be believed).  But they will look like crap at anything but their native resolution or an even divisor thereof.  So, a panel of 1600×1200 resolution could look decent at 800×600.  But, a panel with resolution of 1280×1024 will not look good at 1152×864, no matter how much you may wish it to be so.

Thank you for not being a tool.

RIAA Business model – Sue Everybody

Here’s a fun game – run this Google search at random and see if you can spot the flaw in the music industry’s business plan. Today, they are suing Yahoo China. The BPI (UK version of RIAA) is suing AllofMP3, the only large online music service that is successful and can be used with any music player. A couple weeks ago, the RIAA sued YouTube users. They’ve sued dead people, little kids, people without computers…

Maybe suing your customers is not the best way to gain market share, eh? Do they honestly think they can strong-arm people into buying the latest shitty CD from Christina Milian or whichever interchangeable pop star they come up with next?

Read Little Heroes by Norman Spinrad – I’m pretty sure the recording industry of today is exactly like the recording industry he wrote about twenty years ago, just not as good at it as he portrayed.

Kyle Doe

So, anyone else see the slightest bit of similarity between the new ABC Family show Kyle XY and the dearly-missed Fox show John Doe? They both have no memory of themselves, fantastic abilities, woke up in the forest, set in Seattle but probably shot in Vancouver… Of course, in keeping with the usual way of doing things lately, ABC had to slap together a viral marketing campaign too. Like the Hanso Foundation from Lost, we have the Mada Corp, a shadowy group that claims to be all about doing good and yet has a secret blog hidden in the job search link where someone writes that “they” are coming to get him. With the implication of freaky experimentation, maybe there’s a dash of Dark Angel in there too.

My point? I don’t have one, just thought that Kyle XY was strangely reminiscent of other shows.