Archive for the ‘General’ Category

I don't spam

Saturday, July 11th, 2009

I will explain this as simply as possible. I am not spamming you. No one on my domain is spamming you because I’m the only person that is on my domain. Any spam that you receive from my domain is from a fake address. Just like real mail, you can put any address you want for the source. I could put down cousins address in California and drop a letter in the mail and most people wouldn’t be know it wasn’t from him. Same goes for email.

So don’t reply to me about the spam because I didn’t send it. Calling me a variety of names is a useless endeavor. Threatening me just makes me want to call the police. Your best bet is to ignore any spam you receive because, in all likelihood, it’s probably not coming from the person you think it is.

Star Trek Time Travel (or getting my geek on)

Saturday, June 20th, 2009

I will admit I got a little misty eyed in the beginning when Kirk’s father dies saving his family (it happens in the first 10 minutes, so it’s not exactly a spoiler).  That little event though kicked off a paradox that the film (and canon) has resolved by creating an alternate timeline.  And I think that’s also fine.  Take the universe in a different direction where Kirk was raised by an abusive father (again, first 10 minutes). It will lead to an universe of possibilities.

But the problem with alternate timelines is that they are just that: alternate.  They branch out from their point of origin taking with them the element that created the alternate timeline (in this case Nero).  <spoilers ahead> The sticking point for me with this is that future-Spock travels to this timeline from the original at a later time.  Nero arrived in 2233, creating the alternate timeline; future-Spock arrives in the alternate timeline in 2258.  The question is how?  If you go to Star Trek Online, you can see a nice illustration showing the branching and when Spock arrives.  But the problem is that Future-Spock didn’t just travel in time, he traveled between timelines.  Think of it like driving down a road, following an evil genius bent on the destruction of the world.  The two of you come to an exit that will leads to Fargo, North Dakota.  The evil genius takes the exit, but you don’t.  Instead you speed down the highway until you reach an exit that lead to Reno, Nevada, which you take.  You’ve taken a different road.  And no matter how far you drive along that road, it’s not going to intersect the Fargo exit.  The same thing happens in time travel (assuming multiple timelines, time travel, etc.).  Nero created one timeline with his trip (taking the Fargo exit), while future-Spock traveled to a point later in the prime timeline (the Reno exit), creating his own timeline.  At no point would these new timelines intersect, at no point could one jump to another (except in a transporter accident but then Spock would have to grow a goatee).  So how did Future-Spock end up in Nero’s timeline?  The magic of bad plotting, I’d guess.  It’s a nit-picky detail, but one that hit me when I saw the timeline image.

In reality (movie-wise) Nero would have appeared in 2233 and realized he was in the past.  He would then go on a rampage with his powerful weapons (comparatively), destroying what he could until he calmed down or was defeated.  Or maybe he’d realize he was in an alternate timeline and give the Romulans a big boost in technology by flying to the homeworld and giving them his ship.

Future-Spock, meanwhile, would have appeared in his new reality with a whole bunch of Red Matter (seriously, what was up with that?  They couldn’t come up with a plot device?) and never encountered Nero.  Maybe he would have traveled to that Galaxy-threatening supernova and dropped the Red Matter there, eliminating it as a threat altogether and then lived out his years on Vulcan (since he had already created a new timeline).  Or maybe he would have looped around a star and traveled back to the future to minimize his effect on the timeline.

However it would have happened, I came away from the movie disappointed.  Not by the plot points or the acting, but by the story on a whole.  That and the lens flare really annoyed me.

Chewing Gum, Snickers Bar, and My Lawyer

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

The first and last of the title bear no mention in this post, but a Snickers bar does. When I was in college I was good at two things: kicking ass and taking names. No wait, I’m sorry, it was playing Galaga and eating Snickers bars. I just like to pretend it was the first. When I went all hardcore on the vegetarian thing, I gave up a lot of things, including my ability to consume a large size Snickers bar and a six-pack of Coke without sending myself into a sugar coma.

Well that was then, this is now. I only buy sodas one at a time and Snickers bar are less then veggie-friendly and there hasn’t been a good substitute for the latter till now. A company has produced what it calls the Jokerz (Get it? Jokerz…Snickers). It is suppose to be a good replica of the Snickers, at least according to One Frugal Foodie.  I might have to order up a couple for old times sake.  I just hope they don’t re-release Galaga, otherwise my wife might leave me.

Privacy

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

The notion of privacy died with, well, the invention of society.  We have this illusion that somehow we are protected by inalienable rights that prevent people from finding out information about our little worlds.  I recently had someone write a check using my name and address, both freely available on the Internet and in a phone book or two (not to mention the hundreds of forms I’ve filled out in my life).  I’m not out any money (so far), but it proves a point.  Privacy, unless you live in a cave, is a difficult thing to maintain.

That said, I don’t think people should be rooting around digging up information on people.  Nor do I think that the government should be routinely scanning my search records in the hope that they might glean some bit of information to protect “national security” (not that there’s anything to find).

But what really annoys me are the people who stand there and say privacy is unimportant and then get upset when their privacy is invaded.  Justice Scalia is a stanch anti-privacy judge who said “Every single datum about my life is private? That’s silly.”

Of course, he didn’t realize how much of his (and most pubic figures) life was available on the Internet.  A law professor assigned his class project to create a dossier on Scalia.  And they did so with a gusto, gathering up information like his movie habits, food favorites, his home address, and other bits of information.  Let’s just say that Scalia was unhappy.  Suddenly his privacy had been invaded.  He issued a rather pissy statement saying “Professor Reidenberg’s exercise is an example of perfectly legal, abominably poor judgment. Since he was not teaching a course in judgment, I presume he felt no responsibility to display any”.  So as long as his privacy is respected, everything is okay, but when you invade his it’s poor judgment.

Then there’s the case of the Portland Oregon Willamette Weekly article on police rifling through peoples garbage.  Mark McDonnell (Portland Prosecutor), Police Chief Mark Kroeker, and (then) Mayor Vera Katz all believed that , al least until their garbarge was ransacked.  Then Kroeker and Katz became upset and felt it was an invasion of their privacy.  So when the government does it, it’s legal, but when a private organization does it, it’s not.  I wonder if that applies to the individual as well.  Could I, as a constituent rummage through my representatives garbage?  Maybe not.

But the point of this is two fold.  One, there is no privacy for most of us.  Someone can look up my information in public records.  I’m sure my social security number is written on a public document somewhere or published on the Internet.  Two, politicians can’t expect special treatment because they are “in power”.  They are as vulnerable as any of us, they just need to accept that.

Now I’m going to go google my neighbors name before I rummage through the trash.  Where did I put my gloves?

Viewing vs. Downloading

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

This is not a post on the stupidity of kids posting naked pictures of themselves on the Internet. This is on the stupidity of this line from this article.

It is not a crime to view the photos, Maer said, but it is illegal to download them.

By definition, if you are viewing a image in your browser you have downloaded it. It’s sitting in the cache of your browser, downloaded on to your computer.  So if you view anything in your browser, you have downloaded it.

And what’s with kids these days?  In my time we played spin-the-bottle and seven-minutes-in-heaven.  Well, not me, but my friends did.  Okay, they weren’t my friends, but I knew some kids who did.

Credit Crisis – How it happened

Saturday, February 21st, 2009


The Crisis of Credit Visualized from Jonathan Jarvis on Vimeo.

Kindles Derivative Works

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

The Kindle is the first real ebook reader. Not because of the technology, but because it has the Amazon name and power behind it. The technology is nice, but when you add the Amazon store to it, suddenly it’s the iPod of ebooks. But with the Kindle 2 (which I really want) the introduction of a text-to-speech mechanism puts it in murky copyright rules.

This isn’t about our rights to own a book or read it aloud to our children, it’s about Amazon’s right to produce a derivative work from copyrighted material. Amazon has a right to sell the text of a book but they don’t have the right to produce a spoken word version of it and that’s what the Text-to-Speech mechanism does. Suddenly people are getting two copies of a product (one text, one spoken) for the price of one. The copyright holder loses out on a sale because Amazon decided to exceed the copyright afforded them.

And it’s not that the Kindle can read text aloud poorly, it’s that technology improves over time. Today’s horrible text-to-speech conversion will be replaced with tomorrows “virtual actor” that makes it indistinguishable from a human reader. The Authors Guild sets the precedent now to prevent loss tomorrow (or in 5 years with the Kindle IV with a Virtual Jim Dale reading an XML marked up version of “Harry Potter and the Contrived Plot Point” complete with different voices for different characters ). They are thinking long term and how it affects their rights.

I disagree with how copyright extensions have given creators (cough Disney cough) an unlimited copyright, but I do understand the line between granting copyright ad infinitum and the act of protecting a copyright.

Stop sending me calendars!

Friday, December 26th, 2008

For the love of all that is good and pure, stop sending me calendars. This includes full size, mini, single page, magnetic, and any other variation you can think of. I I wanted a calendar on my wall/refrigerator, I’d buy one with scantily clad women and not one with flowers, or your damn picture on every page.

In the last 30 days, I have received 8 calendars (and a family photo) from various companies I have done business with at some point in my almost four decades of life.  I can’t help but think of how big a waste of your money and time, the post offices efforts, and the trees used to give me a calendar I ultimately throw in the recycle bin or reluctantly add to my ever growing super-powered magnet.

Just stop sending them to me.

53/97

Friday, December 19th, 2008

Apparently, every 53 seconds a laptop is stolen and in 97% of the cases, they are never found.  That’s some scary stats.  I am a laptop owner and if my laptop was stolen, I’d lose a lot of compromising data, mostly in the return of tax documents and financial information.  I could hope that the thief wouldn’t be interesting in my personal data, but that’s not something I can rely on.  That’s why I invested in PGP’s Whole Disk Encryption.  Now if my laptop is stolen, even if the pull the hard drive and put it in another machine, they still have to get past the encryption.  I don’t expect to get my laptop back, but I do expect my data to stay secure.

Upgrades

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

When I mentioned I wanted to upgrade to one of the new Macbook Pros, my wife asked “since I just bought one less then a year ago, why would I want a new one”.  I didn’t understand the question.