December 30, 2004

Am I a bad person?

I finally got around to finishing a piece of software I've been working on in my spare time. It's ready to be packaged up in a disk image and released to the internet. The last step in my process has been writing the documentation: the instructions and the license.

This particular version of the software is free, so the license is fairly simple and permissive. On the one hand, I want it to spread like wildfire among the communities that need it. On the other hand, a woman was recently the talk of the Mac blogosphere for getting pissed off at a developer when a piece of beta software she was given by a friend with no explanation had a bug that reset its own data.

I briefly considered naming this particular license clause after her. Does that make me a bad person, or just a person with a low tolerance for idiocy and grade-school theatrics like she pulled?

At any rate, it's in there now as the Preventing Self-Obsessed, Clueless Moaning Clause. I may take the name out before I submit the final release to the software sites tonight, but the clause itself is staying.

Posted by Colin at 12:40 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 21, 2004

Christmas is Coming!

Argh! It's December 21st! But I'm not done shopping yet!

Even the stuff I have isn't wrapped yet. I'm usually way more together than this, but this year Christmas has just snuck up like mad.

On an unrelated note, the REI membership I bought myself while buying gifts there will totally be worth it. Money back for spending money? On outdoor supplies? Kid in a candy store.

Posted by Colin at 12:04 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 16, 2004

Commence Tinfoil Hats!

Over on Slashdot, the tinfoil beanie crowd is going nuts over the "news" that the USPS self-serve kiosks are "secretly" taking pictures of the customer.

First of all: duh? The first thing I noticed on the kiosk was the camera. If you've ever used an ATM, it's kind of hard to miss the rather obvious camera area built into the QuickPost stations. People don't usually put dark, reflective pieces of glass into ATM-like devices for the hell of it.

Further, my local USPS branch (like nearly all of them these days) is crawling with surveillance cameras anyway. One pointed at the line, one pointed at the store, one pointed at the pickup window, two pointed at the service counter, one pointed at the QuickPost and its parcel drop...

A camera in the QuickPost station isn't an "invasion of privacy." You're the one that decided to use it, and also the moron who didn't notice the rather obvious camera (and bitches about it in spite of the fact you're surrounded by cameras recording your every move already).

Think about it, "privacy" advocates: QuickPost stations have cameras for the same reason ATMs do.

Let's say Al K. Duh steals your wallet. He has a hankering to mail a couple bombs and some anthrax without those pesky counter clerks noticing the greasy packaging, ticking sound, and white powder. So he goes to the QuickPost kiosk with your credit cards.

Upon inserting any one of your cards, the machine now has identification for you -- after all, it's your card number and your name that the card reader just gleaned off the stripe. Without the picture, Al just pops those puppies in the mail drop and off you go to Gitmo. With the picture, the inimitable Sherlock Holmes can say: "Goodness, Watson, the swarthy middle-eastern man using this QuickPost terminal looks exactly nothing like the man who owns these credit cards." Instead of being hauled off under the PATRIOT Act, you get to sit at home and get drunk off your ass on cheap booze.

Nevermind the fact you shed your reasonable expectation of privacy the moment you walk out your front door, which the tinfoil beanie crowd always seems to ignore. If you're out and about in the world, someone, anyone, anything can see you. Oh my heavens it's an invasion of my privacy to walk down the street! My neighbor just looked at me! Run away! Run away! </MontyPython>

And remember -- they say God can see you all the time. Even when you're masturbating!

Posted by Colin at 8:48 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 14, 2004

Alt+F5 got ya down?

An issue I had to solve tonight for someone: on many modern Windows computers, Alt+F5 can't be used in applications. Instead, the screen goes blank and comes back (or, in the case of LCDs, may do nothing).

The culprit? ATI's video drivers. They're apparently trapping the Alt+F5 key combination for something. This is not well-documented -- as far as I've been able to found in a brief search, ATI doesn't mention this functionality anywhere.

The solution is to open the Displays control panel, switch to the "ATI Options" tab, and uncheck the "Enable ATI taskbar application icon" option. Once you apply the new settings, Alt+F5 will no longer be trapped by ATI's software and will be available to all your applications.

Posted by Colin at 9:50 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 9, 2004

Damn Tomato Shortage

Today I did my civic duty: I went to Jack In The Box and ordered a large combo to get my reindeer Jack ball.

Being as the Sourdough Jack is my all-time favorite, that's what I ordered. I shrugged at the tomato shortage notice on the order board, not actually reading it. But then I ate the sandwich and realized I should have read it -- apparently at Jack In The Box, the solution to "fewer tomatoes" is "use ketchup."

While I generally love their menu, I don't know how high one has to be to make this arbitrary decision. Tomatoes taste nothing like ketchup. Ketchup tastes nothing like tomatoes. Ketchup standing in for a tomato on the Sourdough Jack? Gross. Not inedibly gross, but the flavor of the whole burger is out of whack when you have that unfamiliar sweet element.

Posted by Colin at 3:01 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 7, 2004

In Soviet Russia...

In Soviet Russia, H2 "F"s you!

This should make the H2 haters happy: it's currently under investigation due to the wheels simply flying off the '03 and '04 models as you're driving. Nothing says love like barreling down the highway at 80 miles per hour and then having your wheels shear off. Yeehaw!

FU H2? Nay, H2 FU, it would appear.

Posted by Colin at 10:36 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 4, 2004

I am...

I am a nut-licking disco queen who loves to poke birds. [Via Trinity]

Posted by Colin at 8:26 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


Kudos to the folks at Valve for coming up with Steam. While some people are convinced it's Evil™ because it's yet another form of product activation, at least it's activation done closer to right! I don't need a CD, I don't need to reauthorize if I upgrade, and moreover, I can install anything I own on any computer I'm at.

I tend to upgrade fairly regularly, due both to hardware failure and advances in technology. In both of those cases, Windows pisses itself and forces me to call Microsoft to use my [whole damn] computer again.

And so far as games, requiring the CD to be in the drive is absolutely asinine. Solution? Steam. It's also a heck of a lot faster (for me, anyway) to download the game via broadband instead of waiting for a slow CD-ROM drive to churn and whine and vibrate its way through the install.

It also doesn't hurt that Valve decided everyone with a Half-Life CD key would be privy to the Half-Life Platinum Pack if they registered with Steam.

Posted by Colin at 4:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 2, 2004

Additional Transunion Caveat

Here's an additional Transunion bugaboo someone just told me: the account number American Express uses on your credit report is not your card number. It's also not printed anywhere on your statement.

So if your only credit card is an AmEx, or you have two cards and one is AmEx (I'm making assumptions on Transunion's algorithm for the latter), how the hell do you pull your Transunion credit report? This fascinates me.

Posted by Colin at 8:44 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Credit Report? Good Luck.

The free annual credit report has now launched in the 13 western states... and has already become completely useless.

Transunion's working, I can't vouch for Experian, but Equifax's site blew up the day the service launched, and still is unable to process requests. When you actually try to run your report, you get a servlet error. It may be worth holding off for a week or so rather than wasting your time trying now.

Also, Transunion is taking the opportunity to upsell. They're requiring you to create an account with them in order to receive your credit report, defaulting to opting you in to spam, and trying to convince you to spend $6 to find out your credit score. They also haven't streamlined the process, which Equifax has. Equifax gives you one form to fill out. Transunion, after you've created a worthless account and unchecked the "please spam me every month and sell my personal information, I like it hard up the ass" box, requires you to click through two "fill in the blanks" exercises to verify you really are who you say you are. You'll also need to enter the account number for at least two of your revolving account cards, so I'm not sure how exactly you would access your credit report from Transunion if someone has been fraudulently using your identity and you only have one credit card.

Reading your credit report is creepy. I know I have excellent credit -- I get countless applications every month beaming about my spotless credit and wouldn't I please like to open an account with our bank too? And looking at the list of non-recorded promotional record requests, it's obvious why: the damn thing's a mile long. It's bizarre to look at all those companies who have just pulled your record to decide whether or not to send you an application for their service. And then you think about where they got your name and soc to begin with, and the answer is "why, Transunion!"

Thanks to this service, I now know that nobody's used my identity, and that T-Mobile mysteriously pulled my credit report last year, even though I haven't been under contract with them for a long while now.

Posted by Colin at 8:14 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack