Thursday, December 30, 2004

Even Microsoft Uses Firefox

Look closely at the screen shot showing off the new MSN Search. That's Firefox, not IE.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Another Way the Airlines Screw Passengers

A conversion my father had with a Continental Airlines gate agent yesterday lead to my realization of another way the airlines are screwing passengers. You see, the airlines have put Regional Jets on a lot of routes, not only those formerly operated by turboprop aircraft, but also those formerly operated with larger jets like 737s and DC-9s.

So why is this a problem? It's simple. There's not a lot of space for carry-on luggage in the cabin of RJs, so like on turboprops, most "carry-on" bags need to be checked. The airline will let you drop off your bag on a cart next to the aircraft, and you pick it up on another cart after the plane lands. Different airlines have different names for this. For example, Horizon Air calls it a la cart.

So how does this screw the passenger? As my father learned, the airline will not be responsible for damage to bags checked plane side. Most passengers know that fragile items should be carried on, to avoid the possibility of their items being damaged when passing through the baggage systems or as a result of rough handling by airline employees. Checking a bag plane side helps as it avoids some of the machinery, but it is still subject to rough handling when being loaded into the aircraft's cargo compartment. By using RJs instead of larger jets, the airlines force passengers who had hoped to avoid damage to fragile items by carrying them on to check them anyway, with the bonus that the airline will not pay for any damage that results.

Amusing signs in parking lots

1 hour parking for Denny's customers only.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

You Will Be Assimilated

Well, today I was assimilated.

I have an iPod now. 20GB $279+tax at Costco, which works out to $300 plus some coins. So for the same price as one of those no tax and free shipping web sites, I got mine without having to wait for it.

The amusing part of all this, of all my PC-using friends who got iPods with their PowerBooks, I'm the one who got the HP iPod. Me, the Mac user since 1984. Go figure.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Atom Feed

I just enabled the Atom feed for the blog, so those of you that like those can read the blog that way. Yes, it works with Firefox's Live Bookmarks feature and with My Yahoo. The feed URL is:

Monday, November 29, 2004

Missing Blogger Feature

Did you notice that Blogger doesn't put the date a comment was posted to an entry, just the time?

EDIT 12/3:
I figured out that you have to change your timestamp format settings under Settings - Formatting, then it will work. Yay. But it's slightly annoying, since the date info is redundant on the blog itself, since the date is listed above the post. I would like to have the time only on the blog, and date and time on comments.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Vote for Me Calls

On election day and the day before, I received a total of four phone calls that contained pre-recorded messages asking me to vote to re-elect President Bush.

The first was on November 1st, a pre-recoreded message from the President himself asking me to vote for him.

The remaining three were all on November 2nd. Two were the same pre-recorded message from Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The last one was an unidentified woman with a Hawaii-oriented message. Amusingly, this was about a half hour after Hawaii's polls closed.

I suppose I should mention that I sent in my absentee ballot a few weeks before the election.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics

At first, this survey sounds nice, makes it sound like Mac OS X and *BSD boxes are safer.

However, you can't actually draw any conclusions from it. Look at this:
Of the 235,907 successful break-ins researched as part of this study, 65.64 percent, or 154,846, were made against Linux-based systems. Microsoft Windows computers accounted for 25.19 percent of all break-ins recorded, while Mac OS X or BSD-based computers accounted for just 4.82 percent of all breaches recorded.
It breaks down percentage of successful break-ins by platform. This doesn't tell me much of anything. What you would want to know is what was the percentage of successful break-ins for each platform.

Neither the MacCentral article, nor the mi2g press release give an indication of how many of each platform were studied. I suppose I'd have to buy the report to get that info.
Matai calls adoption of Mac OS X and BSD Unix "an accelerating paradigm shift" thanks to professionals who "don't have the time to cope with umpteen flavours of Linux or to wait for Microsoft's Longhorn when Windows XP has proved to be a stumbling block in some well chronicled instances."
Professionals don't cope with umpteen flavors of Linix. Normally, they'll pick one (genernally a commercially supported distribution like Red Hat or SuSE) and stick with it. Home hobbists may play around, changing from Fredora to SuSE to Gentoo to Debian to Mandrake, and so on, but a professional running a commercial server isn't going to do that. And about the problem of waiting for Longhorn after the problems with Windows XP, well, they're forgetting Server 2003.

I'm not saying that people should stick with Linux or Windows servers rather than evaluating Mac OS X or another BSD. People should evaluate their needs, and decide which platform works best for them. The point I'm trying to make is that this study doesn't mean much at all.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Giving back to the community

It's small, but here's my first contribution to the larger open source community. Since Gentoo's XgridAgent ebuild, which was listed alredy as working on PowerPC, worked just fine on my x86 Linux box, I let them know. xgridagent-1.0 is now marked ~x86.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Drew Carey's Green Screen Show

Nifty new show on The WB. Take Whose Line is it Anyway?, do it in front of a green screen, and add animation. If you like Whose Line?, you'll like this. If you haven't seen Whose Line?, you'll probably like it anyway. And go watch Whose Line? on ABC Family, too.

Airlines of Hawaii

New book coming out next year, will have to keep my eyes open for this one.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

iBook Battery

Oooh, lookie! This battery for an Apple iBook laptop is shown as PC Compatible! Complete with the Windows XP logo!

Friday, October 08, 2004

Learn to spell

Folks, this is why your elementary school teacher made you memorize all those Presidents' names, states, etc.

Oh, the art looks like about 4th grade, too.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Paying too much

I don't get it.

I've used one of these cameras. The image quality isn't that great. 10x optical zoom is nice, but still, only 0.3 megapixels and 640x480 resolution. You can't really get all that many images on a floppy disk, and unlike flash memory card based cameras, you can't avoid carrying around lots of disks by getting a larger disk. For $270, you can definately do better.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Why I Prefer Earthquakes to Hurricanes

Hurricans you see coming at you, so you worry and panic and prepare for days on end, then it hits you or maybe not. Earthquakes just come with no warning (unless you have a pet that goes nuts before one) so while you keep in the back of your mind that one might come, you don't have to spend the days immediately before worrying about what's going to happen. You're just happily going about your life, then it happens. It lasts for a few seconds, maybe even a minute or two, then it's over. Hurricanes can take several hours to pass through.

Also, hurricanes move around, so the damage can cover a pretty large area. An earthquake is centered in one spot, and damage is inversely proportional to distance from that spot: Greater distance implies less damage. So the likelyhood of damage from a single event in a particular location is lower.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Crazy Train or Emotional Subway Attack

This is great. I'm pretty tolerant of most people's different beliefs, except those beliefs specifically preach intolerance of my beliefs. That includes most of those loud God-nuts.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Riker to Enterprise

Life continues to imitate Star Trek. It seems there's a device out now that does person to person communications over WiFi and Voice over IP. What makes it really interesting, is that it's a one button interface and uses voice recognition to determine who you're trying to reach.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004


I've got some GMail invites. Let me know if you want one.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Windows XP Service Pack 2 (yes, again)


Windows XP Service Pack 2 removes the copyright date from the screen that appears before the login screen. I guess Microsoft wants to hide the fact that Windows XP is from 2001.

They also removed the notation of which Edition is running, though that is still on the login screen itself.

Why the iMac G5 will succeed

In case you're living under a rock (or more likely, a Windows box) you might not yet know that at Apple Expo in Paris last month, Apple unveiled the new iMac G5. Like the iMacs before it, it is an all in one design, however this time the CPU is directly behind the LCD. If you imagine a 2-inch thick LCD display, that's the new iMac. Or go click the link for photos.

I have read some criticism of the new iMac, and I want to address the point that other computer companies (and, in fact, Apple itself - namely, the 20th Anniversary Macintosh) have done a similar designs before, but they haven't been terribly successful. There is one major reason I think the iMac G5 will be different.

Previous all-in-one-LCD designs have been compromised machines, generally with a far inferior price/performance ratio than a conventional tower/LCD combination, let alone a tower/CRT. But the iMac G5 is different.

The iMac G5 fits right in the Apple product line right where the iMac belongs, right between the Power Mac G5 and the eMac. Now, the iMac G5 is no Power Mac G5: The big tower features overall higher end specs, starting with the presence of two PowerPC G5 processors, rather than one. But it doesn't invert price/performance, that is, charge more for lesser performance. At $1899, top configuration, the 20-inch model with a 1.8 GHz Power PC G5, is $100 less than the lowest-priced Power Mac, the $1999 dual 1.8GHz model. Which doesn't include a display.

Compare this with Gateway. Their Profile 5 series places the CPU in the base, so it's really more like the iMac G4 rather than the iMac G5 in design. The low-end model, the Profile 5S-C, gives you a 2.6GHz Celeron processor for $1099.99. Compare this to Gateway's 310B, which gives you a a 2.8GHz Celeron in a mini-tower case for $499.99, including a 17" CRT. The specs are pretty similar, though the Profile does give you a DVD/CD-RW drive, but you can add that and also double your memory and hard drive size for $150 more.

Let's also look at Sony, which sells the Viao W700G, an all-in-one which places the CPU behind the LCD. $1999.99 gets you a 2.8GHz Pentium 4 processor and a 17.5" LCD. Sony's entry-level mini-tower, the Viao RS600C, when equipped with a 2.8GHz Pentium 4, runs $877.99. Add $399.99 for a 17" LCD.

I would have a hard time justifying either the Gateway or the Sony all-in-one models versus a comparable mini-tower. I suspect that most people have the same difficulty, and as a result these models don't end up selling well. The iMac G5, on the other hand, isn't undercut by a significantly cheaper model with similar specs but in a more ordinary case. Sure, you can grab the eMac for a mere $799, including 17" CRT, but that gets you a mere 1.25GHz PowerPC G4. But the iMac G5, starting at $1299, gets you so much more computer, most notably a G5 processor. There may not be as much as a difference now, but in a few years, there will be plenty of applications that will run only on a G5, just like now Mac OS X runs only on G3 and newer chips, ruling out the first generation (601) and second generation (603/604) PowerPC processors.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Fun things to type in Gentoo

#ACCEPT_KEYWORDS="~x86" emerge --update world

Edit: 8/22:
Don't do it. You'll regret it. Stick to x86, not ~x86 (or the equivalent if you're running on another architecture).

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Strange Invasion

The last paragraph amused me. It's not every day that the movie Evolution gets referenced in a major newspaper.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Windows XP Service Pack 2

So Windows XP Service Pack 2 is finally done and on its way.

Looks like Microsoft still doesn't quite get it. I found the following paragraph from an article on PC Magazine's web site to be rather interesting:
Microsoft has included a programmatic interface for Windows Firewall that allows an application to do things like set FirewallEnabled to FALSE, add itself to the list of AuthorizedApplications, or change the configuration of GloballyOpenPorts. Our concern here is that a malicious application could turn off Windows Firewall or, more likely, mark itself as an authorized application. Corporate administrators can disable some or all local configurations, which will prevent programs from making changes; but ultimately, Microsoft maintains, individuals still have to be smart about what apps they run. Even the best deadbolt won't protect your house once you've let the bad guys in.
The way I see it, they gave the keys to the dead bolt to the bad guys. Suppose one way or another, I manage to get some malware on my system. This malware then has the ability to disable the firewall and do whatever it wants. Thanks. Looks like I'll still be recommending a third party firewall such as ZoneAlarm.

A while back, Bill Gates was quoted as saying something along the lines of there isn't a need for perfectly secure software, since we have firewalls to protect us. At the time it seemed absurd to me: What happens if your firewall software isn't secure? Now, Microsoft shows they can't even get the firewall right.

I posted some of this on Slashdot, too.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Repetitively repetitive

An e-ticket confirmation e-mail I got tonight from American Airlines contained the following:

Nonrefundable tickets cannot be refunded.

Sunday, August 01, 2004


At least he has some idea about computer viruses, which I'd say is more than most people, based on the the number of Slammer hits I picked up during the two months I was running Snort.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Matt Damon Makes Benefit Appearance In Oklahoma City

Why am I noting this? I was also in Oklahoma City on Sunday, visiting the Oklahoma City National Memorial, located at the site of the Murrah Federal Building. Matt Damon was also there. I didn't see him, but others in the group I was with did.

Friday, July 16, 2004