Patrick's Rants



12/31/2005

It’s midnight somewhere

Filed under: General — site admin @ 10:00 pm

We’re out watching the pine cone drop (note that’s only going to be valid until next month/year/tomorrow). We’re watching the 10pm drop as we all have our kids with us. Then it’s on back home to watch some TV, eat some dip and chips and see if the kids (or us) can actually make it to midnight local time. 🙂
Happy New Year all! And stop reading my blog when you should be drinking champagne – or bubbling wine if you don’t care for those French snobs 😉

The Art of Deception

Filed under: Books,Geek News and Stuff,Reviews — site admin @ 1:55 pm

Kevin D. Mitnick and William L. Simon. (2002)
Kevin Mitnick notoriously spent time in prison for “computer crimes”. He has been called the most notorious hacker and gave rise to the “Free Kevin” movement which sported a web site and links around the web showing how much longer he had to spend behind bars. Although he has been called a hacker, Kevin calls himself a “social engineer” essentially a con-artist. In this collaborative work, he writes of adventures that he and others have had, talking their way past security and into the innermost workings of the computer networks that we all rely on. From suggestions as simple as firewalling “public” ethernet ports at businesses to requiring that visitors (and employees) always wear an identity badge, we are walked through an array of interesting scenarios that that underline the need for even simple security measures. He also shows us how even the most trivial information can be used to leverage more and more important and valuable data out an unsuspecting – and unprepared – victim.
If you are in security of any kind – whether you work for someone else or just have your own little company – this book will help you make sure your information is secure.

Additional history

OpenOffice.org 2.0.1

Filed under: Geek News and Stuff,Reviews — site admin @ 10:52 am

I recently installed OpenOffice.org (oo from now on) version 2.0.1 on my Windows 98(don’t laugh, it’s paid for) machine. I was completely disappointed with the handling of .doc files. I couldn’t open them at all. I tried clicking on the file and oo would try to open and then fail with “unable to load converter”. I then tried to open the files in the file open dialog, still failed. Then, doing a google search on the error, I found similar issues which were worked around by setting the file type in the drop down selector. Still no good – and this work around previously worked in oo 2.0.
I got so mad I uninstalled oo 2.0.1, rebooted the computer like it wanted and re-installed oo 2.0. This time I just selected “Install Everything” and lo and behold, I was able to click on a .doc file and it opened just fine. Then I remembered that I hadn’t selected the path that I wanted it installed in…. great it was in c:\program files\OpenOffice2.0\. I hate stuff in that directory…well in the C:\program files\ directory anyway. Uninstalled oo2.0. I then decided to try 2.0.1 again and install to a new directory on the d:\ drive. It previously was in an old directory where I had 1.5 installed. Supposedly installing 2.0 over the top of 1.5 should have worked. It even seemed like it had – except that nasty .doc bug. oo 2.0 runs some conversion scripts when installed over the top that is supposed to make things work right. What I found is for the best results uninstall the previous version and install oo 2.0 (or the current oo 2.0.1) in a new directory. I wanted to preserve all of my data settings, but oo 2.0 (windows) changes everything related to databases – all the saved queries, all the database connections, everything except the names of the databases in the data sources browser.
So the final fix: Uninstall all oo versions. Install 2.0 or greater in a completely new directory, rewrite all of your brilliant database queries. Try not to get too mad at all the new “wizards” that the oo team has created to make things “easier” for you (assuming you learned how to just git r done using the older oo versions)
Víola.

Palindromes

Filed under: On video,Reviews — site admin @ 10:29 am

(2004)
The summary for this movie doesn’t do it any justice. The main character is played by six different actors, giving the movie a surreal, disjointed feel. The first time this happened I had to back the movie up to make sure that I heard it right. While it isn’t touted as a major plot line, the concept of protesting abortions is prevalent throughout the film. I wasn’t sure if it was to show the producer’s own personal beliefs “right to life” or to expose the nutty fringe of those who care more about unborn masses of cells than their fellow man justifying the death of born children in the campaign to stop abortion doctors.
The movie is graphic in language, jolting in subject matter, and confusing and disjointed through the use of multiple actors as the main character.
Indpendent, NR.

Palindrome

pal·in·drome (păl’ĭn-drōm’) pronunciation
n.

1. A word, phrase, verse, or sentence that reads the same backward or forward. For example: A man, a plan, a canal, Panama!

Maybe the movie would have made more sense running backwards.
All I can say is, “huh?”

12/30/2005

Time to stop making the donuts

Filed under: General — site admin @ 9:21 am

Michael Vale, the actor best known for his portrayal of the sleepy-eyed Dunkin’ Donuts baker who said “Time to make the doughnuts,” died on Saturday at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan. He was 83.

According to the Today Show, Dunkin Donuts placed a full page ad (that I haven’t seen yet) that stated, “He didn’t just make the donuts, he also made us smile” When’s the last time you heard about a company doing that? mmm…. donuts.

Great

Filed under: General — site admin @ 8:21 am

I share the same birthday as Matt Lauer. Happy almost New Year’s Eve 🙂

Sony settlement

Filed under: Copyright,Geek News and Stuff,Politics — site admin @ 8:19 am

Sony is settling a recent case brought against them for installing “root kits” when trying to play a “copy protected” music CD. The software installed itself whether the user (owner of the CD) clicked on the “I Agree” button or not. This software hid itself on your computer and watched to see that you didn’t make copies of the “protected” CD. It also allowed others to load software on your computer and hide it using the same methods.
Geeks and regular people were up in arms. And Sony was looking at possible criminal charges. Now that a settlement has been reached, some are postulating that this is the beginning of real consumer protections against monstrosities perpetrated under the guise of “content protection”.

12/28/2005

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Filed under: Books,Reviews — site admin @ 5:39 pm

The book is unassuming in its yellow cover, a small photo in the top right corner of the book’s front. It is written by the protaganist “Charlie”, for whom we know no last name. Charlie recounts his freshman year in school through a series of letters to someone he merely calls “friend”. It has been compared to “Catcher in the Rye”, but truthfully I don’t remember the Catcher. I do however remember what school was like at 15. And this book replays those years in its sincerity and style. It has caused a minor ruckus in the public schools here due to the superintendent calling for its removal from school libraries due to sexual content and accounts of illicit drug use. Apparently, Tom Horne thinks kids never experiment on their own and must get the idea from expressions of the First Amendment. While I might not allow my oldest to read it right now (she’s 13), it’s not something that will be banned in this house. It’s not a drunken, drugged orgy from cover to cover – it’s an honest, sometimes heartbreaking story of one young man’s journey through the mentally scary halls of high school.
Since this is Stephen Chbosky’s first novel I can only hope that he turns out many more quality pieces that can fascinate and educate our kids in a way that reminds them they are not alone.

So that’s how the song goes

Filed under: General — site admin @ 8:09 am

We’ve all heard the butchered jingle bells song with Batman and Robin, but I bet you didn’t know the words were:

Jingle Bells, Batman Smells
Robin laid a leg…

Three year olds are so much fun.

12/27/2005

A-hole legislation on the horizon

Filed under: Copyright,Politics — site admin @ 10:42 pm

Well, they’ve done it again. Those tea bagging bastards have purchased new legislation that makes you and I criminals in a perversion of guilty until settled (by the way this is not criminal law, but civil law) This new legislation1 tries to close the “analog hole” that would allow you to copy something while it’s playing. I am so sick of the tea bagging bastards that can’t be bothered to bring us better quality movies starring nutso actors and instead blame their drain circling business model on people who would “steal” from them. Steal? The thing is, I pay for the movies I buy. I pay rental fees to Netflix for the movies that I only want to watch a time or two and return. And then these movies have a mini movie calling me a thief before I get to see my movie. That’s why I’m getting a new DVD player. If it doesn’t exist, someone should invent it.
I guess the reason that I get so upset with the criminal name calling is that I would never make a copy of a movie or CD to “distribute”, yet I am lumped in with anyone who ever sold/gave away a copy of a movie or song when these laws come out. My mom is penalized because she won’t be able to watch Babylon 5 later than 90 minutes after it airs. (And neither will any of you maties)

1 – Law making ears illegal. Well not really, but a decent write up on the A-hole law.
Comments on the stupidity of artificially propping up businesses dependent upon copyright law

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