July 31, 2004

Overload?

Server is incredibly slow all day today. Contacting the hosting company soon.

My guess is some asshat on my shared server is bringing it to its knees. Or it's victim to a Denial of Service attack.

All non-static content is quite unreliable at the moment. Posting comments is unrealiable, and getting into the admin interface is just about impossible.

Posted by Colin at 9:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 30, 2004

Bits and Sundry Pieces

Several things I need to mention:


  1. If you've sent me e-mail or posted comments through this site, expecting a response, I'm just now finding them in the midst of all the comment spamming that's been occurring for the past two or three months (in spite of MT-B). All 700 of my comment notification e-mails are in a mailbox waiting to be sorted through.

  2. I'm upgrading to MT3.01D. The site may be inaccessible or not fully working as I try to piece it together and rip out old plugins (like MT-B, which is incompatible).

  3. As a stopgap until the emergency release of MT-Blacklist 2.0, I'll be locking down comments. I don't want to force TypeKey on people opposed to it, so moderated comments are available. TypeKey, on the other hand, will garner you automatic approval and my undying love (since I won't have to screen comments).

Posted by Colin at 5:49 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 28, 2004

Hit Hard by Spambots

I got hit hard by the spambots this afternoon. One in particular: every message in my inbox from 12:08 to 12:25 is a new comment notification from Movable Type.

Every last comment used the same e-mail address and advertised the same site.

All told, there were 103 spammy comments posted by this bot. Each one from a unique IP, which just goes to show how futile IP banning is. It also probably shows just how well people are doing keeping on top of Windows security updates (i.e., they're not).

If you'd like to merge my blacklist into your own, it's in the default location (blacklist.txt at the top level).

Posted by Colin at 3:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 15, 2004

Quality of Life

As a Chandler resident with tongue planted firmly in cheek, I must say I appreciate the city council's efforts to "improve my quality of life."

Infamous councilwoman Donna Wallace has suggested the development of an ordinance that would regulate 24-hour businesses within 300 feet of residential zoning. Not nightclubs (does Chandler even have a single one?) or bars, mind you, but those real troublemakers like drug stores, gas stations, health clubs, and supermarkets. Those middle-of-the-night shoppers and workout addicts sure are rowdy and boisterous!

I've lived close to a 24-hour Walgreens for years now. Across the street from it is a 24-hour Mobil station. South of me is a 24-hour Fry's supermarket. A mile away is a 24-hour Walmart.

Far more impactful on my "quality of life" than those businesses being allowed to operate (I can't even tell they're operating) are the people using my street as a raceway, the noise of the traffic on the major street wafting through the neighborhood, and the fact that helicopters have a tendency to use this neighborhood as a flight path in the middle of the night.

If anything, those 24-hour operations are an improvement to my quality of life. If I need drugs or a thermometer or what-have-you at 2 in the morning, I can get in my car, go the two seconds to Walgreens or Fry's, and get it. When I drive up north or to Tucson, I tend to leave before sunrise to beat traffic. If there's no gas station here, I'll just go fill up in Tempe and their economy can have my sales tax and money.

Old people impact the quality of life more than 24-hour stores, too. There are a ton of old crotchety people in Sun Lakes who think that since they're old and don't have young children anymore, they should vote against every measure to fund the Chandler Unified School District. My undying love to those of you in Sun Lakes who do vote for CUSD dollars, but you've got some cold-hearted neighbors. Especially the ones who write in to the Chandler Independent every week complaining like first-graders. "Phase III used my Phase I facilities with asking! Take away their Dobson Gate privileges! I hope Hospice comes for them tomorrow!" And yet nobody's introducing legislation to cut Sun Lakes loose from Chandler.

If you want to milk more money out of businesses in Chandler, just increase the cost of the damn business license. Don't go around inventing bullshit like this: this plan seems nothing more than legislation in search of a problem. In fact, it may well drive some businesses (and their associated customers) to another city. Like I said earlier, if I have to drive to Tempe to do what I need to, so be it. It's only 5 or 10 minutes away.

For Wallace and Director of Planning Doug Ballard, the magic hours of quality of life ruinment are apparently midnight to 6am. Nevermind the fact that most people are asleep during those hours and won't even realize there's 24 hour retail going on around them. The people who are actually awake may well make use of those horrible businesses that are open at that "unseemly" hour.

If you really want to increase the quality of life, change building regulations so apartment and home builders stop building right off major roads. The apartment complex near Walmart gets more noise and light from the cars and semis passing by on Warner Road than the handful of people who stop into Walmart to buy worms or ice or a pack of smokes.

If you really want to increase the quality of life, slow down home builders who are paving over every inch of dirt we have left in this city. Require builders building near established farms to have all buyers sign a waiver regarding the farm. Numerous farming operations have closed down in past years after Shea and their ilk threw up $200,000 homes and the rich-bitch suburbanites complained about that awful smell so much the farmers finally packed up and left. (Honey, you ain't smelled nothing. I used to play in the pig sty at my grandparents' farm.) We're not only running out farmers, who contribute to the economy and put food on our tables, but if this keeps going there won't be any green left in Chandler (and frankly, this is a statewide problem -- but think locally, and all that rot).

If you really want to increase the quality of life, stop making Chandler's schools all about sports. Our children need a rounded education, not new sports jerseys every six months. They need newer computers, newer books, and properly-funded core classes. They need art classes where everything isn't coming out of the teacher's pocket. Figure out a way to stop your best teachers from leaving for greener pastures, and if you can't, stop replacing them with crappy ones who happen to be good sports coaches. Sports should only be one piece of the whole puzzle, not the largest piece.

If you really want to increase the quality of life, stop letting companies erect new buildings on open fields when there are vacant spaces the size they want or larger all over the city. There are entire strip malls that are empty, yet companies are paving over perfectly good dirt. All this talk of "land reclamation" is nice, but try putting it into practice.

Posted by Colin at 2:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 12, 2004

Election? What election?

I usually try to keep politics off this blog, but I couldn't resist this morning. To protect the precious impressionable children, though, I am keeping it off the front page.

Click through or don't, but have Eric Idle's charming "The FCC Song" at any rate. Unless you agree with the FCC's latest moves, in which case don't.

Also, Frontline has "The Jesus Factor," a piece on G. W. Bush and religion in the political arena. It's interesting no matter what you think about Bush or fundamentalist Christianity (and a little scary if you're into freedom of religion).

Ah, the handbasket that this country is becoming. Now the federal government wants the ability to suspend the presidential election in case those rascally terrorists just happen to attack in October or November.

Uh, say what?

We had a presidential election during the friggin' Civil War, people.

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, though. I wondered how stupid it was going to get when the response to 9/11 was "run screaming and fork over your lifestyle and rights" despite the fact hijackings and bombs and murders were not exactly new territory. Gee, every other time getting on with life worked out just fine.

Also fun: though we heard from multiple news sources just days ago that a terror attack was being planned for that time period, DHS has now released a statement that there is no specific or reliable information stating such.

I'll tell you what, guys, take a few minutes to get your story straight and then feed us the line.

Posted by Colin at 2:08 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 10, 2004

Bonus! Spider-Man 2

Saw Spider-Man 2 in the theater last weekend.

Good summer fare, though it felt a little plodding at times. Kirsten Dunst's nipples also get much less screen time in this episode, in case you're one of the people to whom it matters.

Anyway, the real point of this was the elevator scene.

I've been trying to place the elevator guy since I saw it. Nick LeShay (you know, the blond bimbo's husband -- no, not Britney, Jessica) was my initial guess, but I couldn't help thinking he didn't look quite right.

IMDB confirms it's not the less ditzy half of the most annoying current Hollywood couple (how in the hell did they get a prime-time variety show? How?!). It's actually Hal Sparks.

Also: Stan Lee's cameo in Spidey 2 is much shorter than the original. You'll literally miss him if you blink.

Posted by Colin at 6:44 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The Butterfly Effect

The lovely androids at Netflix shipped me The Butterfly Effect as soon as it was released, and I have to say it was a pretty good movie. After watching it, I'm not entirely sure why so many critics panned it so horribly.

Ashton Kutcher can actually act, it's paced well, and I actually ended up giving a damn about the characters.

Yes, he goes back in time repeatedly. Big deal. Most of the time it's fresh enough and worthwhile enough to warrant the repetition. The only scene I would have left on the cutting room floor was Ashton in the bathroom. It didn't really add anything to the story, and it was dull. Well, it didn't add anything but another 60 seconds of gratuitous mostly-disrobed Ashton. Which may be a selling point for the ever-important 14-year-old-girl demographic.

My major beef wasn't with the movie so much as the DVD: the sound was horrible. One of the best parts of watching a new DVD is turning off all the lights and turning on the stereo for that "theater experience." Why they bother advertising it as having 6.1 surround sound is beyond me. The entire movie is heavily weighted to the center channel. I couldn't even honestly tell some of the satellite speakers were on.

All that said, it was the single most depressing movie I've ever seen. Kev asked me what the hell I was expecting after seeing the trailers. As I told him, "I knew it would be depressing, just not that depressing."

Posted by Colin at 6:36 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 9, 2004

Screw You Too, Thanks! :-)

I received an e-mail message today tied to a bug report. In a previous life, I was a developer with a particular Linux distributor. What I was maintaining is dead now, and I've remained distant from that distributor for political and pragmatic reasons.

Users were part of the decision to fade away, as was the organization itself.

The "users were part of it" is my important point for the moment because this particular bug report is quite charming. Apparently asking nicely for someone volunteering their time to do something is a lost skill.

"Fix it, dammit!"

Yes. I'll respond really well to that. Nothing makes me want to spend my time doing something for you than "fix it, dammit".

The bastard in me would love to respond individually to that user with an e-mail simply stating "build it yourself, dammit," but I try not to be an asshole.

Please, people, if you need something, don't be an ass about it.

Posted by Colin at 2:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 7, 2004

Kim Jong Il: Eat My Hamburgers!

This just in: Kim Jong Il introduced the hamburger in 2000.

North Korea was scary enough before. But reading this article, I had to keep reminding myself I was reading an AP wire story, not The Onion.

Life imitates art, indeed...

Time to go throw a cesspool water of American capitalism in the fridge.

Via Fark.

Posted by Colin at 3:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

TiVo: No Comparison.

Saw an article today titled "TiVo vs. Windows Media Center Edition."

I don't even have to read it to give an accurate outcome: TiVo wins, bar none.

Media Center, bluntly, was one of the stupidest ideas Microsoft has had in years. People don't want their computer in their entertainment center. Or in their living room, for that matter. Most people don't fancy watching movies or long stretches of television sitting at the computer. College students, maybe -- it's a hell of a lot less room used in a small apartment or dorm room.

But the simple fact remains that a computer doesn't really have a place in your entertainment center, and most people would rather have a computer in their office than their living room. And of course while you're using Media Center, you can't use the rest of the computer.

Where the heck is the utility in this idea? Who thought it up? Who thought it was good enough to actually bring it to market?

Other companies -- Apple, Elgato, TiVo -- get it.

TiVo started out doing one simple thing: sitting in your entertainment center and recording TV. People requested the ability to see their computer's content on the TV, and TiVo added it. Add some software to your computer, add your TiVo to your network, and now you have a worthwhile "media center." Watch TV, listen to music, look at your pictures... on your TV. While someone's using the computer.

Elgato manufactures a number of "digital hub" devices for Mac users, including the eyehome, which brings the non-television features of TiVo to your TV. In a box which sits in your entertainment center. While leaving your computer usable.

Apple heard how cool people thought it would be to stream their iTunes music through the house. So they announced AirPort Express: Plug it into the wall, hook it up to your stereo, and use your wired or wireless network. Tell iTunes to stream music to that unit, pick your favorite playlist, and voila -- music, without a computer in your living room.

Microsoft does kinda sorta get it with the Xbox, but its media features are pretty minimal, and the software for your computer is pretty horrible.

Dell, apparently not wanting to pay Microsoft the additional money for Media Center Edition, rolled their own equally worthless "Dell Media Center" that pops up every damn time you put in a DVD. Even better is that as Dell ships their systems, the stand-alone DVD player their Media Center runs isn't in the start menu, and doesn't run quite right on its own even if you can find it. Also, in the Dell tradition of making their rip-off implementation worse than the original (see also: Dell Digital DJ vs. iPod, Dell Axim PDA vs. other PocketPCs), the interface is terribly convoluted in places, and it's slooooow.

TiVo: 1.
Windows Media Center Edition: 0.
Dell Media Center: -5.

Posted by Colin at 2:02 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

John Edwards: Murderer?

It's incredibly creepy: given the right angle and lighting, John Edwards (Dem. VP candidate) looks strangely similar to wife-killer Scott Peterson. Or I suppose I should say alleged wife-killer Scott Peterson, but does anyone actually believe he's innocent? Doesn't everyone ask people out making cryptic remarks about his wife not being a problem soon, discuss ways to kill her with his friends, and then bleach his hair, use his brother's ID, and run for the border with tens of thousands of dollars?

There isn't any proof John Edwards is Scott Peterson, mind you, but it's really frightening in those brief instances he does look like a crazed murderer.

ETA: Looking back at the title, this may bring in some weird Googlers. So no, vice presidential candidate John Edwards is not a murderer, nor does he have any known relationship with Scott Peterson. If you're looking for reasons not to vote Kerry/Edwards, this isn't one. Except maybe in Bizarro World, where John Edwards killed Scott Peterson's wife. But we don't live there.

Posted by Colin at 1:27 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Shameless Corporate Plugs

As I was sitting in the movie theater watching the trailers before Spider-Man 2, the Will Smith version of I, Robot happened to be one of the ads du jour.

Rolling onto the screen was a gigantic carrier bearing a vaguely futuristic USR logo, and plenty of mentions of "U.S. Robotics."

Asimov didn't call his robot corporation that. A back-from-the-grave manufacturer of modems, on the other hand, did (and still does) call themselves that. In the theater, I wondered if USR was still dead after 3com ate them. Turns out they're not dead -- in fact, another company somehow acquired them and USR is back to some form of autonomy. If you've been around for a while, you may remember USR as the modem to have -- until 3Com bought them in the 90s and products were rebranded before disappearing completely.

A little digging through the US Patent and Trademark Office is interesting. While "U.S. Robotics" and "US Robotics" are still registered trademarks of USR, they canceled their registration of "USR" -- the omnipresent mark in the movie -- in May of this year. I, Robot comes out for release the 16th of this month.

Intriguing. Or maybe it's just intriguing because it's 11:42 and I only got 3 hours of sleep last night due to obsessing over the surgery one of my animals had today.

The question I'm left with is "How much did Hollywood pay USR to can their trademark to avoid the watchdogs?"

Posted by Colin at 12:44 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 5, 2004

Top 100 Grossing Films

I haven't been able to trace this meme back to its origins, but "As Seen On the Web!" here's the Top 100 Grossing Films list, with the movies I've seen in bold.

69 out of 100, by my count. Some of those I haven't seen (like the beyond-played-out Jurassic Park III, or the horrible Jim Carrey remake of The Grinch I've seen bits and pieces of) I don't particularly want to see.

  1. Titanic (1997) - $600,779,824
  2. Star Wars (1977) - $460,935,665
  3. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) - $434,949,459
  4. Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999) - $431,065,444
  5. Spider-Man (2002) - $403,706,375
  6. Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The (2003) - $377,019,252
  7. Passion of the Christ, The (2004) - $370,025,697
  8. Jurassic Park (1993) - $356,784,000
  9. Shrek 2 (2004) - $356,211,000
  10. Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The (2002) - $340,478,898
  11. Finding Nemo (2003) - $339,714,367
  12. Forrest Gump (1994) - $329,691,196
  13. Lion King, The (1994) - $328,423,001
  14. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001) - $317,557,891
  15. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001) - $313,837,577
  16. Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002) - $310,675,583
  17. Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983) - $309,125,409
  18. Independence Day (1996) - $306,124,059
  19. Pirates of the Caribbean (2003) - $305,411,224
  20. Sixth Sense, The (1999) - $293,501,675
  21. Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980) - $290,158,751
  22. Home Alone (1990) - $285,761,243
  23. Matrix Reloaded, The (2003) - $281,492,479
  24. Shrek (2001) - $267,652,016
  25. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) - $261,970,615
  26. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) - $260,031,035
  27. Jaws (1975) - $260,000,000
  28. Monsters, Inc. (2001) - $255,870,172
  29. Batman (1989) - $251,188,924
  30. Men in Black (1997) - $250,147,615
  31. Toy Story 2 (1999) - $245,823,397
  32. Bruce Almighty (2003) - $242,589,580
  33. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) - $242,374,454
  34. Twister (1996) - $241,700,000
  35. My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002) - $241,437,427
  36. Ghost Busters (1984) - $238,600,000
  37. Beverly Hills Cop (1984) - $234,760,500
  38. Cast Away (2000) - $233,630,478
  39. Lost World: Jurassic Park, The (1997) - $229,074,524
  40. Signs (2002) - $227,965,690
  41. Rush Hour 2 (2001) - $226,138,454
  42. Mrs. Doubtfire (1993) - $219,200,000
  43. Ghost (1990) - $217,631,306
  44. Aladdin (1992) - $217,350,219
  45. Saving Private Ryan (1998) - $216,119,491
  46. Mission: Impossible II (2000) - $215,397,30
  47. X2 (2003) - $214,948,780
  48. Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002) - $213,079,163
  49. Back to the Future (1985) - $210,609,762
  50. Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999) - $205,399,422
  51. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) - $204,843,350
  52. Exorcist, The (1973) - $204,565,000
  53. Mummy Returns, The (2001) - $202,007,640
  54. Armageddon (1998) - $201,573,391
  55. Gone with the Wind (1939) - $198,655,278
  56. Pearl Harbor (2001) - $198,539,855
  57. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) - $197,171,806
  58. Toy Story (1995) - $191,800,000
  59. Men in Black II (2002) - $190,418,803
  60. Gladiator (2000) - $187,670,866
  61. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) - $184,925,485
  62. Dances with Wolves (1990) - $184,208,848
  63. Batman Forever (1995) - $184,031,112
  64. Fugitive, The (1993) - $183,875,760
  65. Ocean's Eleven (2001) - $183,405,771
  66. What Women Want (2000) - $182,805,123
  67. Perfect Storm, The (2000) - $182,618,434
  68. Liar Liar (1997) - $181,395,380
  69. Grease (1978) - $181,360,000
  70. Jurassic Park III (2001) - $181,166,115
  71. Mission: Impossible (1996) - $180,965,237
  72. Planet of the Apes (2001) - $180,011,740
  73. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) - $179,870,271
  74. Pretty Woman (1990) - $178,406,268
  75. Tootsie (1982) - $177,200,000
  76. Top Gun (1986) - $176,781,728
  77. There's Something About Mary (1998) - $176,483,808
  78. Ice Age (2002) - $176,387,405
  79. Crocodile Dundee (1986) - $174,635,000
  80. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992) - $173,585,516
  81. Elf (2003) - $173,381,405
  82. Air Force One (1997) - $172,888,056
  83. Rain Man (1988) - $172,825,435
  84. Apollo 13 (1995) - $172,071,312
  85. Matrix, The (1999) - $171,383,253
  86. Beauty and the Beast (1991) - $171,301,428
  87. Tarzan (1999) - $171,085,177
  88. Beautiful Mind, A (2001) - $170,708,996
  89. Chicago (2002) - $170,684,505
  90. Three Men and a Baby (1987) - $167,780,960
  91. Meet the Parents (2000) - $166,225,040
  92. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991) - $165,500,000
  93. Hannibal (2001) - $165,091,464
  94. Catch Me If You Can (2002) - $164,435,221
  95. Big Daddy (1999) - $163,479,795
  96. Sound of Music, The (1965) - $163,214,286
  97. Batman Returns (1992) - $162,831,698
  98. Bug's Life, A (1998) - $162,792,677
  99. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) - $161,963,000
  100. Waterboy, The (1998) - $161,487,252
Posted by Colin at 9:41 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 1, 2004

When Things Just Work

I love it when things just work.

Got my new APC UPSes today (since the batteries cost almost as much as a trade-up to a newer model, I opted for newer models).

Plugged it in, let it charge for 8 hours, connected it to my Mac. Voila, in-OS support for UPS functions. I briefly installed APC's software, only to find it offers no advantage over Apple's in-built features (and a few disadvantages, including a known issue of not working).

Technology is a beautiful thing when it works with you instead of conspiring against you.

Also, "mad props" to my "peeps" at APC for fixing one of my biggest complaints about my old Back-UPS Pros: they were way too easy to accidentally turn off, even with the recessed button. It's fixed in my new Back-UPS CSes, with the button not only recessed but also requiring you to hold it for 2 seconds to cut power.

Unfortunately, with the addition of a UPS USB cable to my menagerie, I'm now desperately in need of a USB hub. If only they made Hubzilla (I'm sorry, "FireWire Dino") in a USB version, my workspace could be tres cool with the 'zilla goodness.

For the Kitty-inclined, there is an incredibly creepy Hello Kitty USB Hub that moves and talks in response to your working. But I don't dig Hello Kitty, and the idea of desk toys moving about and making noise isn't my bag.

Posted by Colin at 1:35 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack