26 Sep 2011 @ 7:08 AM 

The Air Force loves acronyms. They love them so much, it doesn’t matter if they make things more confusing, or not even any shorter than an equivalent English word – they’ll use an acronym wherever possible.

I finally found out what “SMU” means in zoomie speak: Small Marching Unit. This was quite a surprise to me, as every email I get on-base that uses the acronym uses it as a verb. Here’s one from this week:

Please have all “A” shift ITP/ATP Airmen SMU to the parade field…

So, to expand the acronym (and no, I don’t know what ITP and ATP mean either):

Please have all “A” shift ITP/ATP Airmen Small Marching Unit to the parade field…

Notice that there is no verb after Airmen now, and yet they are to DO something to the parade field. This would normally require an “action word” as we were taught back in elementary school. This requirement oviously does not apply to Air Farce English.

The mystery of “SMU” has now been solved, and it is stupid. Not as stupid as when they use “ATT” instead of “now” but still pretty stupid.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 26 Sep 2011 @ 07:08 AM

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 20 Sep 2011 @ 12:44 PM 

To read the tech press the past couple weeks, you’d think Microsoft had created some sort of magical portal to a realm of unicorns and rainbows and cakes with zero calories, rather than a dual-mode operating system.

Even when reviewers and developers talk about traditional desktop/laptop computing in regards to Windows 8, they somehow miss some of the more glaring questions that power users may have. For instance, why in the world would I want a full-screen Facebook application on a 24″ monitor? How does the ludicrous number of icons installed in a typical Windows machine’s start menu align with the new “start page” model? They say there are groups of panels, which would be somewhat analogous to the folders of icons in the hierarchical menu, I presume. But, there are several dozen icons in about 15 folders on my work computer, which has not much installed on it.  On my home computer, I have literally hundreds of icons in the start menu. I have at least 20 games; if each one takes a bloody giant panel on the start page, it will take ages to scroll through.

This bizarre start page debacle is partially ameliorated, to be sure, by the ability to search easily within those icons. This is an ability carried over from Windows Vista and Windows 7, and is certainly something I use quite regularly, when I know the name of the program I want to launch. But, when I am looking for something, it’s a great deal more convenient to have 30-pixel high rows of icons to scroll through instead of 300-pixel blocks. I realize that the strangely non-flyout default start menu in Windows 7 only shows about 20 programs at a time, and the Windows 8 start page also can show approximately 20 programs at a time. But, the overall effect of the hierarchical model in the start menu means that I don’t scroll through EVERY icon to get to one at the bottom of the list. I scroll through twenty folders, and then open one folder and then maybe scroll through twenty icons to find the one I want – this is TWO scrolls. From what I can tell of the Windows 8 Metro model, I could be swiping left-to-right dozens more times to get to one particular program, if I didn’t remember its name. This is better?

And don’t even get me started on the Metro business model, where every single program available for the new interface must be sold only through Microsoft’s store. I know Microsoft envies Apple’s deathgrip on its market, but one reason why Apple only has 10% of the desktop and laptop business might be due to that deathgrip. Paying Microsoft 30% of the retail cost of a program might not be a business model that some developers can swallow. How do freeware programs and shareware programs fit into this model? Is there any room in Microsoft’s brave new world for anyone who can’t pay to play?

Another fun fact – Metro applications are not supposed to run in the background. If they get minimized, they go dormant. So much for powerful multitasking 8-core processors – we only need the one core, thanks.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 27 Sep 2011 @ 09:13 AM

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 12 Sep 2011 @ 9:14 AM 

President Obama, in his weekend radio address:

They wanted to terrorize us, but, as Americans, we refuse to live in fear.

And, President Obama at the WTC site on Sunday:

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 12 Sep 2011 @ 09:15 AM

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 07 Sep 2011 @ 8:15 AM 

Way back in 2002, Palm was the #1 PDA and smartphone OS in the USA. They decided to split their company into a hardware and a software company, and then licensed their own OS from themselves in 2003. It’s all very weird and confusing, and would seem to serve well as a warning to future generations of geeks how not to run a company.

Now that HP has fully digested their Palm acquisition, they are repeating this move. They intend to spin off their personal systems group into a separate company (or just sell it, depending on the rumor). Meanwhile, they are holding onto WebOS (what might be considered PalmOS V7), perhaps intending to license it to their spunoff hardware division at a later date. That worked so well ten years ago, why not?

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 07 Sep 2011 @ 08:15 AM

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 06 Sep 2011 @ 12:15 PM 

Amazon is going to release a color ereader in the next couple months. Everyone says so, and they may have the best chance to be a #2 Android tablet of any manufacturer due to their content store already in place. Some folks really dig the iPad’s application market system, and Amazon probably already has your credit card information on file, so they’re ready to go.

This week, they’re rolling out a new version of their Kindle PC and Mac software, which adds support for a book file format that is incompatible with their existing Kindle hardware ereaders. If that’s not a giant clue they’re planning new hardware, I don’t know what is.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 06 Sep 2011 @ 12:15 PM

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 02 Sep 2011 @ 9:10 AM 

I find those “my family” stickers on the windows of SUVs to be tacky and pretentious and assume that everyone who does that is a tool. So…

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 02 Sep 2011 @ 09:10 AM

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 02 Sep 2011 @ 9:06 AM 

Oh, this is so unnecessary, but so neato. Just need to add a robobutler to add butter and syrup…

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 02 Sep 2011 @ 09:06 AM

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 11 Aug 2011 @ 1:05 PM 

Austerity measures convert people with little left to lose into people with nothing left to lose, and then they lash out? Completely unpredictable.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 11 Aug 2011 @ 01:05 PM

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 11 Aug 2011 @ 9:11 AM 

I need some inspiration for GearDiary posts. I started writing for Judie back in May, but I can’t come up with a huge number of ideas. The first few posts were a mish-mash of reviewing my watch, talking about geocaching, a how-to on getting free blogs on your Kindle, and a series of reviews about open-source media catalog/player software. I recently wrote an op/ed piece about the coming “impulse buy” era of ereaders.

But, since I am a poor person who does not have every new gadget to review (anyone who wishes to send me free stuff, I will happily review it), I run into stumpers of what to write that hasn’t been done to death by every other gadget geek out there. It’s the rare day that I come up with something insightful or interesting that Gizmodo, Engadget, Techcrunch or someone else hasn’t already beaten to death. To be fair, those people are actually paid full-time gadget geeks and people send them information leaks and new toys.

So, any ideas on geeky topics that I might write about? I’d write about building my own DVR, but since the advent of HDTV (another technology I do not possess), my experience is no longer all that relevant. What to do, what to do…

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 11 Aug 2011 @ 09:11 AM

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 10 Aug 2011 @ 8:06 AM 

Just another way in which normal procedures are training us to be bad computer security risks. As illustrated by the always-excellent XKCD, the theory that really hard-to-remember passwords are good is easily refuted. Anyone want to tell the USAF?

Password Strength

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 10 Aug 2011 @ 08:22 AM

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 03 Aug 2011 @ 12:35 PM 

So, you think the seemingly interminable debate about debt ceilings and deficits might wane for a few months, now that the gummint has forestalled a default by doing what it has done seventy times in the past 50 years? Don’t be ridiculous.

The Grand Compromise (i.e., give the GOP nearly everything they demanded in order to not destroy the global economy) requires the debt limit be raised in three stages. The first stage went into effect immediately; it will cover until around the end of September. Yes, that’s right – it only covers 8 weeks. When that runs out, the President can raise the limit again, and Congress gets a chance to disapprove it. They might actually eke out enough votes to disapprove the raise, which will then be vetoed and the raise goes into effect. Then, the GOP can blame the President for raising the debt limit arbitrarily and autocratically and against the Will of The People. All of that is nonsense, of course. Every sane member of the GOP knows the debt limit has to be raised if we are to avoid a truly stupendous economic meltdown that would make the Great Depression look like a boom time.

Also coming up at the end of September is the expiration of the federal gasoline tax. You didn’t even know that tax had an expiration date, did you? That’s because nobody (before 2000 anyway) has ever contemplated not having it. The 18.4 cents per gallon that we pay to that tax pays for the majority of the budget of the Highway Trust Fund. That fund pays for things like ensuring the interstates don’t disintegrate into gravel roads. Amusingly, the Democratically-controlled Congress under President Clinton’s administration created an increase in the gas tax which was earmarked exclusively to deficit reduction, but then got shifted four years later by a Republican Congress toward the Trust Fund. Even then, nobody tried to reduce the tax; they just used it for something different.

Just to pile on, September 30th is also the expiration of the current continuing resolution that permits the federal government to spend any money whatsoever. The current budget was agreed to in April of this year (after 14 months of debate), and if you don’t remember the fun of that “debate,” you’re blessed by ignorance indeed. You’d think that maybe the Congress could actually pass a budget this year, but I wouldn’t hold out too much hope for that piece of sanity.

So, good job, Republicans – you’ve made the budget into the single issue which will define the year before the 2012 elections start. And that can only help your candidates, many of whom would really rather there not be a federal government for them to be a part of and are doing their best to ensure its failure as a sane and rational governing body. Good luck finding a Presidential candidate that isn’t crazy but can pass the GOP primaries, because the 2012 election is yours to lose.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 03 Aug 2011 @ 12:36 PM

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 02 Aug 2011 @ 6:16 PM 

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 02 Aug 2011 @ 06:16 PM

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 02 Aug 2011 @ 8:16 AM 

Much as Goldie Lookin Chain satirized in their great 2004 song (look it up), Norwegian game stores have taken to blaming tangentially related things for a violent act. The store, Coop, has removed such games as Call of Duty, Homefront, and World of Warcraft from their shelves after Anders Breivik expressed admiration for the latter and claiming Modern Warfare was a great training tool for his shooting rampage. Yeah, that will work.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 02 Aug 2011 @ 08:16 AM

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 31 Jul 2011 @ 9:55 PM 

So, once again, we see the great Change agent deal with a recalcitrant GOP by a complete and utter capitulation. What does the President point to as a vital program which he has protected during this Great Compromise? Even Medicare and Social Security, which were considered sacrosanct by both parties not that long ago, are going to be looked at by the new and improved bipartisan debt reduction commission later in the year. Apparently the first debt reduction commission didn’t provide the correct answers that anyone wanted last year.

Meanwhile, the GOP gets to claim success in all their areas. No tax increases, even on the wealthiest people (they aren’t Job Creators just because the GOP says so; they need to actually create jobs to be worthy of that title) or greediest tax-dodging corporations (which have already taken their profits off-shore, so what threat do they have left?). And, the debt debate will continue through the election, providing a nice millstone for Obama to drag around.

Yay for change.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 10 Aug 2011 @ 08:26 AM

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 22 Jul 2011 @ 10:11 AM 

Well, this sucks. Not that Borders is closing; anyone who watched their Amazon outsourcing and other missteps is unsurprised by that. What sucks is that they are having a massive liquidation sale, and the closest store is 3 hours away. Stupid middle-of-nowhere town…

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 22 Jul 2011 @ 10:11 AM

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 19 Jul 2011 @ 7:26 AM 

As our elected putative representatives have, over the past century or so, completely gerrymandered the congressional districts to be mostly safe zones for one party or the other’s incumbents, incumbency rates are generally steady above 90% for national elections. Because of this, each member of the House is probably only interested in pleasing his or her “base” party faithful, rather than some hypothetical constituency which may actually contain people with whom the base disagrees. For example, here in  West-By-God Texas, nobody gives even the slightest lip service to any Democratic Party followers or liberal/progressive issues. Everything is about the conservative agenda, and who among the political class is hewing most closely to the Platonic ideal of perfection. What Democrats do run are obviously only serving as a token sacrifice, as they have no chance whatsoever of beating the 80% GOP voting record. Heck, many of the local offices don’t even have a D on the ballot; we may have more Libertarians running than Democrats.

Might this be part of what led to the current theater taking place in DC regarding the debt ceiling? The GOP House members don’t have to make any noise about compromising what they claim are their principles, even though nearly 80% of the USA says they should. They don’t need to worry about that because we don’t have a national general election for those seats – each of those individuals only has to play to the base back in the gerrymandered district. This means that only primary elections matter, so proving you can work with The Other Side is completely irrelevant. There is no other side, as far as it matters when re-election time comes.

This strikes me as being one really messed up way to run a government.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 19 Jul 2011 @ 07:28 AM

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 14 Jul 2011 @ 7:02 AM 

After finding great success with the BLT & watermelon salad last week, I decided to go old skool, back to my days in the land of the not-quite-right. Like gang jung, some things may be better left in the memory.

Pulled out the kochujang and tri-tip last night, and produced a meal of bulgogi, be kimchi, and pa jun (I hate Romanized Korean – it’s always just a little off). Alex, the boy who claims to love spicy food, found the kimchi too spicy to consider seconds. Kat declared the tri-tip to be a wonderful cut of meat and it should in the future be served with some potatoes and maybe a side of green beans. She also found the pa jun to be not her style – something about steak and eggs not being cool with her or something.

I guess that’s the end of Korean side dishes; the bulgogi was a hit, of course.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 14 Jul 2011 @ 07:02 AM

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 12 Jul 2011 @ 9:40 AM 

The base computer network seemingly doesn’t trust any security certificates from any signing authority other than Verisign. This means that every web site that uses any other registrar (which is to say, a truly stupendous number of sites) gets an error message that the site’s security certificate cannot be verified to a trusted issuer. This happens with my company timecard system, as one rather important example. Since the network doesn’t trust Entrust or others, this means there is no way to be sure that the sites I connect to which are not Verisign-approved are real sites or phishing expeditions. This means that every site which is not Verisign-approved is a giant red beacon of “ignore this security warning because it’s really not a problem after all.” Every non-Verisign site adds one more item to the list of things to ignore which good security practices tell you NOT to ignore.

Although the Air Force has decided (for reasons which escape me) to allow Youtube and Facebook access on-base (but not Google Plus or even Google Calendar), this week Flash is broken. This is a security configuration issue, as the flashing error bar on the top of the page says the addon has been disabled, not that Flash is literally broken. So, one more flashing error bar to add to the list.

Again, this just encourages users to assume that every error message is, in fact, in error itself. If we get inundated with false positives, we are being trained to ignore actual positives. This also applies to the wave of “helpful” messages which greet us whenever we log in; I challenge any user here at Goodbuddy to honestly claim they read those every time they log into the network. Just more noise to ignore, and train people to ignore all messages because most of them are trivia or wrong.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 19 Jul 2011 @ 07:29 AM

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 10 Jul 2011 @ 2:34 PM 

I’ve uploaded a boatload of photos to randomly rotate through the header in my blog. All are my own photos, so no more stock photography in the header. Of course, those viewing these messages through FB or LJ will just have to imagine.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 10 Jul 2011 @ 02:38 PM

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 06 Jul 2011 @ 1:15 PM 

The TSA is warning the United States that there may be a plot to surgically implant a bomb inside a person, to avoid scanners currently in use. I shudder to think what this might imply for “enhanced screening” in the future.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 06 Jul 2011 @ 02:52 PM

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