I was over at Curt’s house watching him DM a game with a few friends this afternoon, when he mentioned a shirt he saw at the last GenCon:
In case you’re interested, you can order them here. And you should. 🙂
I was over at Curt’s house watching him DM a game with a few friends this afternoon, when he mentioned a shirt he saw at the last GenCon:
In case you’re interested, you can order them here. And you should. 🙂
My Dell laptop came with a copy of McAfee’s Internet security suite, and when my initial 1-year license was nearing expiration, I re-upped. I’m not normally a McAfee guy: their software works, and is far less of a resource hog than the hideously bloated products from, say, Symantec. But I really, really hate that McAfee’s stuff is built around ActiveX. As an ActiveX application, McAfee’s stuff coils itself around the brainstem of the Windows operating system. If it ever gets garched—a system crash, a botched update, one of the many viruses that now target and attack antivirus software—there is a decent chance you will never get McAfee re- or uninstalled, at least not without reinstalling your operating system from scratch. It’s all over your registry like ticks on a fawn, and you may never find all of those entries and pry them out.
Anyways, rather than start fresh with some other package, I was a lazy bum and signed up for another year of service and updates from McAfee. (Note to those of you in my viewing audience who may still be fooling yourself about this [yes, you, Shawn! And Meg: make Rad read this too]: antivirus software that has not been updated with the most recent virus definitions is essentially worthless. You are doing yourself and everyone with whom you have ever had any contact [that’s ANY, as in, you got a forward of a forward of a forward of a forward of a bad Internet joke from this guy once and he’s still in your cache] a grave disservice by failing to update your antivirus software, and if someone else loses data because of your negligence you should be given a severe beating with your own office chair.)
The moment I signed up, the offers began rolling in. McAfee must be run by the same people who manage the subscription departments at the major monthly magazines; it has that same “Hey, this guy was stupid enough to sign up for a year of this item, let’s see what else we can get him to buy!” feel to it. Including that most time-honored of tactics, trying to get you to re-re-re-up your subscription three months into your current one. This is precisely why I stopped subscribing to MacAddict.
I tend to ignore these pleas for more of my money, but I got one in my inbox today that really caught my eye. It was entitled, “Stop Wireless Piggybacking”:
DOES YOUR HIGH-SPEED WIRELESS NETWORK NOT SEEM SO HIGH SPEED ANYMORE? Chances are you have piggybackers: unauthorized freeloaders using your connection to web surf, send and receive e-mail, web chat and more. Without the proper protection, anyone who can see your signal can jump on the service you pay for each month, slowing your Internet connection to a crawl. Worse, your unprotected wireless signal is vulnerable to hackers who can plant viruses, steal your personal information and more.
Stop giving piggybackers a free ride. Introducing new Wireless Home Network Security from McAfee, the easy “one-click” way to lock your network with an encrypted, rotating key. Then you decide who can use your connection–all others will be blocked. Regain control of your network with Wireless Home Network Security for just $29.99, 40% off the regular McAfee price.
Now this, this is brilliant. Take a group of consumers too clueless to figure out how (or, for that matter, why) to do something to protect themselves that can be done for free, using their existing equipment, and charge them $29.95 (!!!40% off!!!) to do it for them. Absolutely fucking inspired.
So I’m used to—and all in favor of—finding ways to get people to pay for services they’d rather not do themselves. And to be sure, the phenomenon of wireless piggybacking is a real issue of concern. I should know; I’ve helped at least a half-dozen people get free high-speed Internet off their feckless neighbors over the years. 😉
To which I say, good for you, McAfee! Stick it to us, your slightly dopey, more-than-a-little-gullible customers. You’re filling a need we didn’t know we had, using tools we already have at our disposal, and giving us 40% off to boot. We deserve no less.
My blog server will be going down for an undisclosed period of time (hopefully less than 24 hours), while I move over to a new block of IP addresses and a new firewall. Thanks for your patience, your impatience, your indifference, your complete lack of comprehension, etc. It’s all good 😉
Here’s a scenario I’m sure you’ve come across yourself in your many meanderings ‘mongst the multitude of mindless mung-munching manatees manning our municipal mainlines. Mayhap.
I’m on my way back from my favorite PC recycling place in the Sodo district, driving down a four-lane road that passes by SeaTac and winds its way towards my home. Up ahead, just by the coffee shack (good coffee, but I’m always a little paranoid about buying by joe from a place that resides not twenty feet from a service station or auto-repair outfit; am I getting a complimentary shot of MTBE with every cup? Or are they simply replacing the fine coffee normally served in this establishment with recycled motor oil?), this side of the road widens out to three lanes, the third being a left-turn lane onto a cross street. There are a number of vehicles in line, waiting for the left-turn arrow to go green.
There is also a car standing stock still in the otherwise-clear next lane over, just shy of the intersection. I slow down and shift over to the right. Is it a disabled vehicle? A medical emergency? Did the driver clothesline one of the many, varied and largely traffic-blind junior high kids that plod across the street against the traffic signal?
Why no, of course not! What kind of simpleton are you, anyway? The driver had merely failed to get into line for the left turn lane while there were still openings, and was now blithely blocking the roadway, waiting until the line of cars driven by actual tool-using primates thinned out to the point where he could slip into place.
If I were capable of telepathy, I would have taken a moment to point out to this mollusk that, were he to actually use his currently occupied lane in the manner intended by its creators, he could pull forward some thirty yards, make a left into the parking lot of the Public Storage across the street, turn around, perform two subsequent right turns and probably make it back onto his desired vector of travel before the people waiting at the light even had a chance to move. Then I would have used my psychic powers to briefly fill his head with an HD-DVD-quality rendering of his body being ground between two steamroller-sized cheese graters. Then I would have smiled.
But instead, I passed by on the right, twin contrails of steam billowing from my ears and catching the midafternoon light, as he sat staring cowlike (so far he’s a manatee/primate/mollusk/cow hybrid of some sort; man I’d hate to clean that thing’s cage!) at the line of cars waiting their proper turn, in their proper lane. If a thought were actually able to find its way around in the labrynthine, lipid-occluded passages of his head, it was probably something like, “Come on dammit, move, what’s the problem?”
Why, you are, you schmuck!
You see this kind of thing all the time, in different road scenarios: the minivan that abruptly cuts across four lanes of crowded highway in order to take an exit at the very last second. Because God knows there’s not ever going to be an opportunity to get off the highway again, turn around and make it back to your exit from the other direction, oh golly, no!
Or the Chrysler K-Car sedan stopped dead at an intersection while cars thrombose behind it, the codger behind the wheel peering myopically at the street signs, trying to reconcile the names on the poles with the information on the scrap of paper in his lap. Pull into a parking space and then try to figure out where the fuck you’re going? No thanks, I’m perfectly comfortable jamming a 4-way intersection while I try to decide if this is my podiatrist’s street!
The 4-Runner that guns his way to the front of the crowded off-ramp before trying to cut in. The station wagon driving 40 miiles per hour on a residential street in a vain attempt to pick up the kid at daycare before they get docked an additional twenty bucks.
At these times I am beset by a truly burning question, one that no antibiotic will cure: are people really this gorge-risingly selfish, or are they just mind-bendingly stupid?
I’m terribly afraid that the answer is a definitive “yes”.
About a month ago it finally happened: the collection of graphics, desktop publishing and Web files I have created for my employer exceeded the 100 gigabyte mark. Didn’t even get a trophy or nothin’. 😛
Up to this point I had been keeping my files on an external USB2/FireWire hard drive built around a 2.5 inch notebook drive. there are a lot of advantages to such drives: small footprint is a major one, of course, as is the fact that it draws all of its power from the USB/FireWire bus, so no additional power supply is needed. The major disadvantage, of course, is capacity. The largest notebook drives available right now top out at 160 gigabytes and costs around 250 dollars. Compare that to the current maximum of 500 gigs for a regular desktop drive, ringing in at about 300 dollars. There’s also a performance hit with the notebook drives, given the difference in rotational speed between the two; the majority of notebook drives spin at 4200–5400rpm, compared to 7200rpm for the average desktop drive. This is not a huge problem for someone with my needs, however, as I mostly plan to use the drive for backups, which makes things like rotational speed and cache size less relevant.
I decided to make the jump to a desktop drive. There are a million of them out there but I had some criteria that had to be met. First and foremost was size. Since I was going to be carrying this thing around with me, I wanted the smallest footprint possible. In this same vein, an internal power supply was a must; as any Macintosh Cube owner (such as me) can tell you, nothing ruins the sleekness of a compact device like a giant, unsightly wall wart hooked to it. Overall durability was a serious consideration as well, seeing as how I planned to drag the thing all over creation. And of course, capacity; I wanted something at least twice the capacity of my now-outdated hundred-gigger.
After considerable research, I decided on the 300 gigabyte Rocstor Pro 800AV from Rocpro.
I. Love. This. Drive. Not as much as I love my wife or gourmet ice cream or living in a Western democracy, but this is as close to that kind of love as I’m likely to get with a piece of computer equipment. It is practically everything I might have wanted in this kind of device.
The unit is about half again as large as a paperback book, and weighs just under 3 pounds. The case is aluminum all ’round, and while not terribly thick aluminum it is pretty sturdy-looking. Perphaps not quite so cast-from-a-solid-ingot-of-metal-looking as, say, the LaCie Drive designed by Porsche, but it’s as least as solid and hardly bigger, particularly considering the built-in power supply. The case is vented along the sides, so an internal cooling fan is not necessary.
It features two FireWire 800 ports, one FireWire 400 and one USB2/1.1 port, controlled by an Oxford 922 controller chip (pretty much the best controller around for 1394 devices). Inside is a Maxtor DiamondMax 10 ATA133 hard drive with a 16 megabyte cache. Using FireWire800, this drive would be an effective complement to just about any desktop system, unless you’re one of those peformance-addict types that can’t make do without a striped SATAII RAID 0….you know who you are. 😉
The drive comes with a power cord, FireWire 800, 400 and USB cables and a handy-dandy Cordura carrying case. It also comes with a couple of CDs of drivers and some backup software called Intellistor LT, though I’m not in the market for any backup software right now so I have no plans to install it and check it out.
The drive came formatted for FAT32, so I had to reformat it HFS+ for use with my Mac, but after that it worked like a charm.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it here: I’m not a benchmark kind of guy. Installing, configuring and running a bunch of specially-contrived “real world” tests to evaluate the performance of a piece of gear seems like a waste of time to me. Particularly if said tests, however temporarily, prevent me from going about my real computer business, the business for which I bought the aforementioned gear in the first place. That being said, I think it’s safe to say that this is the fastest external drive I’ve ever owned, and this comes from someone who has owned any number of external drives from the days of SCSI 1 on up to the present. I imagine an external Serial ATA drive might be a hair quicker, but I also can’t imagine noticing the difference.
Of course, a drive of this kind of quality comes at a bit of a premium price. I paid 233 bucks for this unit at CompSource, which is about fifty to a hundred bucks more than one might expect to pay for a beige-box drive of the same capacity. It was worth it. I’d recommend this baby to anyone in the market for portable, high-capacity data storage.
In honor of this very special day, allow me to point you to the venerable and hallowed Peep Research Page, long since moved from its original spot on a college Web server. Enjoy, and Happy Easter! And make sure you give proper honor to the God whose day this is, Eostre of the Dawn. 😉
Based on a request from Joe (aka FacePlant), I have decided to put up a category specifically for members of the Domestic Violence Fraggers List. In conjunction with the creation of this category, I’ve added a comment subscription option to my blog. You can now elect to be emailed when a new comment is posted in a particular blog entry (the link to do so is right under the text entry field in the Coment form).
I invite anyone interested in competing against actual human beings (rather than bots) on the teeny tiny field of battle to post the days/times they are hoping to be online, and for others to subscribe to this post and respond accordingly, whether by mail, by comments, or by gunfire. 😉
Last night Margaret and I were watching a few episodes of South Park off the new Season 7 DVD set. There are a number of episodes from that season that we really enjoy. One of our favorites is “Christian Rock Hard”, in which Cartman bets Kyle ten bucks that he can get a platinum album by forming a Christian rock band before Kyle’s band can get one with, well, their crappy garage-band music. The climax of the show comes when, having sold over 1 million of their debut album, Cartman’s band Faith Plus 1 is awarded a Myrrh album (in the storyline, the Chrisitan music industry awards Gold, Frankinsence and Myrrh albums instead of Gold and Platinum). When Cartman finds out he can never get an actual Platinum album with his Christian rock band—that he has lost the bet—he goes berserk.
When the show was done I turned the stereo back to “FM” in preparation for listening to the radio outside in the hot tub the next morning. Only there was no sound. Hmm, strange; we were hearing the DVD just fine.
Ah, I see: we were only hearing the DVD through the center channel speaker. The left and right speakers were set to the other speaker switch. The one that goes….
In other words, we were playing our South Park DVD, including a little kid screaming, “Fuck Jesus!” (they bleeped it out on TV, naturally) for our neighbors.
I kind of expected to come out the next morning and find a crowd of villagers with torches and pitchforks on the lawn. Or at least the outdoor speakers ripped off the wall. Thank goodness we have a large back yard; nice big-anti-apostasy buffer. ❗
On the other hand, given the current administration’s noteworthy track record on science in general—and science at NASA in particular—I’m not 100% comfortable with what they might be forced to foist off on our impressionable Youf.
“Hey Kids! Be a part of the wonderful world of Science! Learn why global warming is nothing to be worried about! Plumb the sanitized-for-your-spiritual-protection origins of the Unverse! Thrill to the bizarre claim that no mutation has ever proved to be beneficial to a species!”
I can’t wait to see what they might come up with for a mascot: puppet, perhaps? Ooh, how about Pinocchio? Controlled by strings and a habitual liar. 😀
Shawn brought this one home from the store a few weeks ago, and I’ve been wrestling with how to present it ever since.
Most of you will recall the heyday of TaB, the diet beverage put out by the Coca Cola Company that rose to ascendancy in the early 1960s. Originally sweetened with cyclamate which was banned by the FDA in 1973, Coke switched to saccharin, which was subsequently found to cause cancer in laboratory animals. Today TaB is sweetened with a combination of saccharin and aspartame.
I would have thought that we were approaching the sunset years of the functional beverage craze. Now that every other person in a given public space is no longer pulling on a SoBe, it seemed as though we Americans were getting back to enjoying sugary beverages for the tooth-rotting junk food that they are; drawing energy from their mind-blowing levels of refined sucrose, instead of trace amounts of taurine, guarana or chromine picolinate.
But a new breed of specialty soda seems to have surfaced. This may be pure speculation on my part, but it seems to me that these new drinks are less about “health” (or perhaps more more accurately, “wellness”, that twilight region between science and shamanism that offers such fertile soil for marketers) and more about “energy” (perhaps more accurately defined by the term “hyperactivity”). Red Bull is kind of the aging patiarch of this market, first appearing on American shelves in 1997 (unless you want to count Jolt Cola, which with its slogan of “All the Sugar and Twice the Caffeine!” was to my mind a more honestly marketed product but not really an “energy drink” in the commercial sense of the term. Is confectioner’s sugar an “energy powder”?). Mountain Dew is now offering MDX, a beverage whose truly disturbing TV ad campaign—featuring a host of CG-altered nocturnal animals singing along to Lionel Richie’s All Night Long—offers the tagline: “Be Nocturnal”. The subtext: stay amped up all night on our sugary swill! (in fact, Mountain Dew’s other successful spin-off beverage is called “Amp“.) And of course there’s the venerable, awfully-named Bawls, a drink so leveraged towards the ADHD demographic that the parent company has been known to sponsor LAN parties.
Somewhere after the turn of the milennium the producers of energy drinks began to take notice of a hole in their product line: what of those who wanted the zippy rush of largely-undertested stimulants but were for one reason or another unwilling or unable to tolerate the overadundance of that most common of stimulants, sugar? (One of the things I find so amazingly, endearingly fucked-up about our society is that half of us are worried about our Multiple Chemical Sensitivity while the other half is so overloaded with chemical stimulants that an 8 ounce beverage containing 32 grams of sugar is not sufficient to move our down around without throwing some other uppers into the mix. For reference: 100 mililieters of water can hold up to 179.2 grams of sucrose [table sugar] before becoming saturated. At that ratio, that can of MDX is 67 percent staurated with sugar. I’m sure they would have preferred to hike it up to 100 percent, but hey, that artifical color’s gotta be squeezed in there somewhere).
I think the first sign of this coming hydropocalypse would have been the arrival of Propel Fitness Water, a product of the Gatorade company. Though not technically an “energy drink”, Propel is marketed as a performance-maintaining beverage for active people who don’t want the extra sugar that comes from chugging Gatorade. Sweetened with acesulfame K, it basically provides a lighter alternative to the chilled-sweat-and-urine goodness of Gatorade, without the sugar. In other words, it’s closer than ever to a bottle of water with a high-tech cap….for $1.39.
At this point, pretty much every big-box energy drink comes in a sugar-free formulation, and every major beverage manufacturer has one or four or twelve different products out on the market to fullfill perceived public need for specially-tainted water. The Coca Cola Company already offers a number of items in the genre, including Diet Rockstar, Full Throttle Sugar Free and Vault Zero. Where, one might ask, in this paralyzingly plentiful panoply of power-producing potential purgatives is the special evolutionary niche for a product like TaB Energy Drink? (You do remember that TaB Energy Drink was purportedly the topic of this missive, don’t you? More to the point, do I? Well, now I do….)
This dinky 10.5 fluid ounce (why 10.5? Is there something wrong with 10? It’s not as though 10.5 fluid ounces equals some more sensible number in milileters or something [311, in case you’re curious]. Better yet, why not make it eleven fluid ounces? That way, when people ask why TaB Energy Drink comes in a can .5 fluid ounces larger than a can of, oh, say, XCyto, the rep from Coke can reply, “Yes, but this one goes to eleven.”) can contains a mixture of all the usual culprits, plus taurine, ginseng and guarana, as well as regular old garden-variety caffeine. It is sweetened with a mixture of acesulfame K and sucralose, aka Splenda, which presumably helps to offset the tongue-out-ripping aftertaste one usually associates with beverages sweetened with saccharin.
I say “presumably”, because I have not tasted this product, I will not taste this product, and in fact the only way this product will ever get past my lips will be if it crawls into my mouth whilst I sleep. For I despise the so-called “flavor” of TaB, and refuse to subject myself to any derivative works thereof.
To fully describe my take on this most vile of coloid substances, allow me to relate a personal anecdote:
When I was fifteen or sixteen, deep in my punk phase (I still have a few random dots of black pigment on dorsal surface of the first joint of my left thumb that are all that’s left of the Dead Kennedys logo I tattooed there at the time) and almost criminally devoid of the faculty of forethought, I was getting ready to attend a showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show at the University of Hawaii when I realized that I did not have a squirt gun to use during the storm sequence (and for self-defense uring the rest of the show). The squirt gun was intened to do double-duty for me, as I also wanted to get drunk during the film but had not had time to buy any easily-portable/concealable alcohol to carry on my person. I figured I could just fill the squirt gun with the contents of one or another liquor bottles in my parents’ collection and kill two birds with one stone….or at least get the two birds severely pickled. If anyone at the show complained about getting hosed down with hooch, well, that would be compelling impetus for them to avoid squirting me, now, wouldn’t it?
Casting about, I found a geriatric spray bottle of Ortho insecticide in the tool shed. Reasoning that if I washed it out carefully there probably would be insufficient organophosphates left in the bottle to cause me to start SLUDing in the middle of the second reel, I rinsed it out real good. Now that I was working with such a large-capacity reservoir, I decided I could afford to go extra swanky and fill the thing with a mixed drink, rather than simple booze. I chose a rum and coke, filling the former bottle of nerve agent with a mixture of approximately one-third Myers’s Rum and two-thirds Cragmont cola.
By the time I got to the tiny, packed theater in the bowels of University’s Manoa Gardens Ballroom, the mixture of lukewarm effervescent store-brand cola and cheap rum had drawn what was left of the insecticide out of the polyethelyne walls of the spray bottle. The resulting witches’ brew of toxins had a piquant, chromosome-unwinding flavor suspiciously reminiscent of TaB. Well, once was enough for me, thank you.
Personal preferences aside, what I can’t seem for the life of me to figure out is what place in the grand scheme of diet energy drinks this product is supposed to fill. I mean, I can accept the idea that sufficient numbers of consumers like the (shudder) taste of TaB to keep Coca Cola from culling the brand from its product line. But just what engendered the genesis of a specialty functional beverage offshoot of same? For precisely whom is this stuff intended? “Oh, if only there were an arificially-sweetened soda-like compound with all the yummy roach-spray goodness of TaB, only blessed with an additional payload of faddish dietary supplements!” When I try to picture this particular consumer demographic in its natural environment, all I get is a hazy mental image of a three-hundred-pound person in a grungy sweatsuit, straining against gravity on an Ab Roller in a living room littered with empty Tab Energy Drink cans and tattered Hostess Ho Hos wrappers. Someone straining ineffectually along two distinct, tragically contraindicated paths. Much like the concept of the beverage itself.
Rather than confirm the obvious—that this shit tastes awful—I think I will instead place it in my display of novel beverages, between the Monty Python’s Holy Grail Ale and my can of Pocari Sweat. I think it’s likely that this particular beverage will serve me better on the shelf than in myself. 😛
Of course by now you have heard all about Chevy’s disastrous effort to involve their loyal customer base in the production of commercials for the Chevy Tahoe. But, just in case there was even the barest scintilla of a chance that you had not, check out the link above. Hi-fucking-larious.
That Chevrolet would put into the hands of the Netizenry those very resources needed to heap scorn on their products is just too precious. That they would then have the good sense to leave the results up rather than inviting further scorn and retribution by attempting to pretend it never happened is, well, charming in a way.
Would you believe I came across this whilst looking for a real-time W3SVC traffic log analyzer for IIS 5/Windows XP? Not, I hasten to add, as an actual return from a search engine in response to my query about log readers, but as an incidental post on a coding blog that was a return on that query.
The stream-of-consciousness nature of the ‘Net can at times make me fear for the future of Western technological society. It reminds me of a statement in the front of a number of recent books by noted literary weirdo Harlan Ellison:
IT SHOULD BE NOTED: THE AUTHOR DOES NOT HAVE A COMPUTER. THE AUTHOR DOES NOT HAVE A MODEM. THE AUTHOR IS NOT ONLINE. THE AUTHOR WORKS ON A REAL, ACTUAL FINGER-DRIVEN MANUAL TYPEWRITER, NOT EVEN AN ELECTRIC ONE. THE AUTHOR IS NOT A LUDDITE, HE JUST PERCEIVES OF ALL THIS ELECTRONIC CRAP AS
THE TWILIGHT OF THE WORD
Obviously I don’t fully agree with Mr. Ellison’s assertion (if the method by which you accessed this particular diatribe didn’t tip you off), but I have to say that the linear narrative seems to be under assault by the tyranny of the hyperlink.
I have yet to find the log reader for which I originally went online. Frankly, I’m a little afraid to return to my search. Anyone know of a nice utility for monitoring incoming http traffic in real time on an IIS box?
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