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I Hate Linux

Thursday, March 31, 2005

The Good Old Days

Not long ago I was talking with my friend Dan about the good old days of computing, the nostalgia with regards to different applications, the cost of new hardware, who was stuck on the worst pc for longer. Rather a sad topic for a couple of people in their mid 20's.

One area that occurred to me was that of meeting new people.

Often these days, most people spend most of their online communication time with their friends and family, the IM and/or e-mail have in large part replaced the telephone enabling people to have multiple conversations simultaneously.

Go back a number of years, there were few on the internet, and even fewer who were capable of ‘chatting' (ie having and using such an application). Back then, most who used such things did so on their own and didn't know many people from the ‘real world', so they ended up meeting lots of new people online.

Hopping onto IRC or some other chat service they'd spend time either with existing online friends from given social circles, or venture out and meet new people. Another common method was simply throwing ones ICQ # at the bottom of their webpage, e-mail, usenet posting or whatever was seen by others.

Heck, it was this way that I met my (now) ex. I was sitting in a Minneapolis chat room and someone entered saying they were from California, and me being the nosey person some accuse me of being, I IMed the person asking "You live in California and are in a Minnesota chat room... why?" And so began a nice conversation, like many over the years, but tapering off over the last few.

There was a time on AOL when many avoided going into chat rooms because of the level of spam they would get. One evening while in an AOL chat room I clocked my level of new spam at the rate of about 4 per second. It was not uncommon then that if someone were try to send you a picture, it would fail because the recipients inbox was full.

Traditionally when you visit a chartroom these days, unless there is a strictly enforced topic or admins to keep the no-good-nicks out, you tend to see two types of ‘people', ones who are looking to score, and bots. The bots are the easy ones to spot, seemingly talking to no one, and somehow all being hot college girls who are home alone and in the mood. The ones wanting to get laid aren't always so easy to spot, luckily (in a way) because of the fact that in many rooms there are so few (if any) people just looking to meet new people and chat, those trying to get laid tend to stick out more, of course, this does tend to drive away the actual chatters even more who become even more infrequent.

Should you run across someone who seems to be interesting in chatting, often there are two things you will hear quite quickly… something along the lines of "A/S/L?" or "Gotta pic?"

Rodney Dangerfield had the joke: "I'm so ugly; when I was born the doctor slapped my mother!" I don't think many would (including myself) say that about themselves or most others, but like most, I'm not some super hottie, and when I do end up chatting with someone, the pic question invariably comes up (always from the other side), and nine times out of ten, within 30 seconds of them getting mine, I get a reply such as "I have to go" or simply silence and often a block.

Of those are looking to chat (or score), they often have pretty high standards, and the only way to know of the other party meets them is with a pic, and should someone fail that test, they become unworthy to even chat with, after all, who wants to talk with an ugly person?

Of course, back in ‘the day', very few had pictures as digital cameras were practically non existent, and scanners were not very common. Not to mention the limited bandwidth, if you were going to spend 5-10 min sending an e-mail with your picture attached, you'd want to be sure that this was a person you wanted to see it, a sureness that often would only occur after many hours of chatting.

What's the point of all of this? Just my thoughts on how much some things were ‘back in the day' Back when ICQ was all of the rage, back when giving out your IP was not something to be feared, back when chat clients didn't by default restrict messages from persons not on your ‘buddy list'.

I guess I find it kind of sad really, how people restrict themselves online from meeting new people online and explore outside of their normal social circles. An interesting side affect of this I think is the whole social networking site craze, places like Friendster, Orkut and many others that rely on existing and established relationships to meet new people, rather than the old fashion random chance.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Product Anxiety

Like many, I take great pride in my work and do my best to make whatever I build as good as it can be. Now and then when I give a product to someone to go over and test, I tend to get a little anxious because I of course want it to do well. The same goes for when a demo or full version is shown to customers, I don't want anything to break, I want it to work perfectly and be as clear as can be without the anything thinking "gee, I wish it could do ___ as well" or "I wish it would do it this way instead." Traditionally, I do not feel the same way about the products of others, either from my company or elsewhere.

As an owner of an iPod who has an hour commute each day, I began with simply throwing my headphones and listening to tunes. This is legal in my state (SD), but every now and then when I visit my parents in Minnesota it becomes illegal at the border.

I like many was happy to hear about the Alpine KCA-420i iPod Interface that would make your iPod look like a CD Changer to many Alpine decks.

When it was finally released, I went down to my local Ultimate Electronics with a couple of friends who know far more about car audio than I to take a look. Suffice to say, I was not impressed. I first played with the adapter plugged into my iPod and a $1500 head unit... it was a joke, it was rarely able to display all of my songs, was a nightmare to use to scroll through to a specific one and was painful just to have play a random track.

I was, disappointed, not a state I am in very often and my friend Chad quickly noticed. A frequent phrase that he kept saying when I'd run into an oddity, flaw or general usability issue was: "God damn Alpine", not to be confused with similar and often heard phrases like "Stupid Alpine" and "F*#@ing Alpine".

Being ready to spend several hundred on a nice deck and the iPod adapter, I ended up buying a nice Pioneer deck as well as an aux input cable so that I could run my iPod to it that way.

Not long later, I heard of the CD-IB100, an upcoming product from Pioneer to do what the Alpine product did. Being curious, I went back to the local Ultimate to take a look and see if it "sucked less" (yes that was the term I used when talking with the sales person at Ultimate).

I would really like to be able to have a clean way of controlling my iPod from my deck, however if the CD-IB100 is anything like the Alpine one, I am going to be quiet angry, and in the mean time I feel a bit of anxiety regarding this as I am very much looking forward to the release of this product.

Within the next month it should be out, and I'll try to give it a try at Ultimate, or just drop $100 bucks, plug it into my own and hope it's better, or more likely, see if it "sucks less". I'm hopeful... but still skeptical.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

When "crazy Muslims" are too normal to deal with...

We have the Libertarian National Socialist Green Party

And here I thought Michael Moore and Ann Coulter were insane, boy was I wrong.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Hotbar - Funny Spyware

This week at work someone sent an e-mail to the entire company looking for the owner of a found set of keys. At the bottom of the e-mail was a little banner add offering free emoticons that can be put in ones e-mail.

A quick look at the link showed it leading to hotbar.com which looked like this to me:

(yes I know, I am a horrible IE user and I am what is wrong with the internet and world today)

Not a lot of useful or informative content existed so I clicked on the 'Click Here' button and was quickly prompted by your standard security warning screen asking me:

Notice how they quickly associate themselves as a Microsoft Certified Partner? We'll come back to that later.

Seeing the sparseness of the main page, as well as discovering that at the time, the click here link simply hid one frame of the page and displayed another without going back to the server (so you couldn't use the back button to go back to the main page), the Intern Brandon suggested I look at the site in Firefox which showed the following:

Quite different eh? In looking, we could not find a hotbar.com download for Firefox.

One thing that did catch our eye was the "Stop Spyware" link in the lower left hand area which gave us:

So all they admit doing is monitoring the sites you visit to hit you with ads... just adware perhaps? Of course... to truly make such targeted ads, some demographics must be related to them or even just inferred from what sites are being visited.

Being more and more suspicious of this site and their wares, I saw the Microsoft Certified Partner logo at the bottom of their stop spyware page.

Being a Microsoft Certified Professional, I am able to put similarly titled logos on my business cards, e-mails, web pages, etc. There are of course rules, 8 pages of them.

Two of the rules that caught my eye were:

  • The Logo or Microsoft name may not be included in your trade or business name, domain name, product or service name, logo, trade dress, design, slogan, or other trademarks.
  • You may not combine the Logo with any other object, including, but not limited to, other logos, icons, words, graphics, photos, slogans, numbers, design features, symbols, or Web site audio files.
On the first point, my guess is they break the rules with their 'do you want to install and run hotbar.com, a Microsoft Certified Partner' prompt.

On the 2nd, they added their name to the logo they show on the page, and not only that, but they broke the spacing policy, namely:

The Logo must stand alone. A minimum amount of space must be left between the Logo and any other object such as type, other logos, photography, borders, edges, and so on. The required border of space around the Logo must be x wide, where x equals the height of the word "Microsoft" in the Logo.

They sure put "hotbar.com is a" awful close to the Microsoft name, and much closer than x, not to mention the nearness of the border as you see below (as hosted on hotbar.com)

Granted, I am using the Microsoft Certified Professional logo guidelines for reference as I cannot find a Microsoft Certified Partner logo guideline.

On a related note, I was able to verify that hotbar is what they claim, they are indeed a Microsoft Certified Partner.

Hotbar is also proud to tell you (at least on their Firefox pages) that they have a patent, specifically US 6,784,900 whose abstract says:

A method and system for providing the on-demand addition of graphic and other information to the browser's toolbar of a web surfer. A plug-in is installed or caused to be installed in the browser of the web surfer, and the information is allowed to be added to and/or modified in the toolbar area of the browser by the action of the plug-in. The information comprises a skin or a plurality of categorized or rated links, added to the links line of the toolbar. The skin may comprise a message, such as a greeting or an advertisement. The plug-in and the information may be provided to the surfer by a service web site.

Sure sounds like it has the potential to be a Trojan of sorts, once it gets installed and run it can work pretty much on it’s own and install new components, but then, any such new components would only be hotbar.com specific ones right? After all, on their "Stop Spyware" page they did say:

Hotbar's installation does not install any third party applications without your explicit consent.

Add to all of this that a simple Google search on hotbar does seem to indicate that it is viewed as spyware, or at least adware, heck, even Symantic has a page for it and their virtual definitions will detect and remove it.

In the end, it turns out that two people at my company had installed it and were asked to remove it... but because everyone has admin access to their PC’s (by policy (I know, it’s not good)) it wouldn’t take much for them to reinstall it again.

I know that there is money to be made in the spyware/adware arena, but being on the receiving end of their attempts always bothers me, especially with the deceit they usual conduct their business with.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

St Patrick’s Day

This is of course the day when everyone is Irish and many partake in green beer.

This evening I joined some friends at the bar for the birthday party of our friend James. Later in the evening someone put on some so called Irish music, by Flogging Molly, the sort that was enough to cause a good Irishman to consider defecting to the six counties.

Next year I am going to have to burn a CD with some quality (and authentic) Irish drinking songs... you know

Seven Drunken Nights
Beer, Beer, Beer

Hell, I’d even be up for some Whiskey In The Jar (non Metallica)

Some Corrs would also be nice and appropriate, even if non-drinking related.

But then, St. Patrick’s Day isn’t about drinking, it’s about the St. Patrick, who drove the snakes from Ireland. Legend has it he said: "All snakes who wish to remain in Ireland will please raise their right hands."

Before closing, I would like to leave you with an old Irish blessing:

May those who love us, love us
And those who don't love us,
May God turn their hearts
And if he can't turn their hearts,
May he turn their ankles
So we will know them by their limping!

Upgrading IE2 -> IE6 Under NT4

Yesterday I broke out VMware to test a .NET based application I am developing under a few different versions of Windows.

As expected, 95 could not take the .NET Framework.

98 worked fine, requiring only an install of IE6 (5+ required) with a few minor drawing issues.

2000, XP and 2003 all worked like a charm.

NT4 on the other hand was... interesting.

With VMware, it’s simple enough to drag and drop files into the emulated OS. Attempting to install the .NET framework I was told that it needed IE 5 or better. Being curious I double checked the current version, 2.0.

Ordinarily when you want to update something like IE, where do you go? Personally, I head to Windows Update, unfortunately, I was greeted by the following screen:

Click for larger version

Not pretty... but not the end of the road, a Google search (which rendered very nicely) found where I could download IE6 from the Microsoft Download Center. While navigating through a few Microsoft pages I began to shudder at the ugliness of the pages as they displayed javascript and other behind the scenes code that IE2 didn’t know what to do with (I should note that I did check out some other sites and just about everything looked horrid in IE2 (no background colors, no frames, no CSS, etc).

And now... back to our story. Reaching the link I clicked on it and was moments later greeted with:

Click for larger version

Kind of funny when you think about it... the two main ways of updating software on a Windows box are out of reach because of the software you are trying to update.

I ended up DLing the needed installer (ie6setup.exe) on another PC and sharing it over the network to the NT box, after that everything went smoothly, still a funny set of problems.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Hooker Rights

Being a bachelor, I do from time to time browse through some dating sites. This evening I came across an ad that I could only laugh at. In short, it was a woman offering her services as... for lack of a better word, a whore.

Her ad went through the typical shpeel about who she was and what she was offering and ended with:

Money exchanged in legal adult personal services for modeling is simply for time and companionship. Anything else that may or may not occur is a matter of personal choice and personal preferences between two or more consenting adults of legal age and is not contracted for, nor is it requested to be contracted for in any manner. This is not an offer of prostitution. Fees charged are for time spent only. I do reserve the right to decline appointments as I deem necessary.

By contacting me (either through phone or email) you agree to these terms and hereby agree that you are not part of any law enforcement agency using this advertisement for entrapment or for arrest. This is a contract you agree to my contacting me.

I have legal representation and know my rights fully.

Interestingly enough, a google search indicates that some other... ladies use similar legalese.

For a very brief moment, I am forced to wonder how much weight statements like the above would have in court. My guess, none at all. This seems not unlike a defense that a cop bought from a drug dealer which could be argued is illegal entrapment and any evidence gathered because of it is inadmissible... but in the real world, judges tend to laugh at such a defense, Or the myth that an undercover police officer has to identify themselves if you ask.

Police often get to do things that civilians cannot when collecting evidence of a crime or pursuing a suspect. Some are clearly legal, others are done while acting on the authority of the state.

Maybe it's time for her to get a different lawyer, as her current one does not seem to be a very good choice and may not be able to defend her to her liking should she go to court for such solicitations (or acts).

One other tidbit I noticed about this ad was the persons number, beginning with a *82. It seems that prefixing a phone call with *82 unblocks a blocked number for the proceeding call. She must have *77 enabled (anonymous call rejection).

I don’t think I’ll be going back to the site where I found this.

One last thing, out of boredom I notified the NYPD (she lives in New York City) about this solicitation. I doubt anything will happen with it, nor will I hear back. But in either case it is important to keep the police informed about crimes going on in case they have available time to deal with the little ones like this.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Missing Scraper

Yesterday it snowed, and needing to run a couple of errands so I ended up doing some fun scraping of my windows. Midway through I discovered that one of my windshield wiper blades had broken. Not thinking, I finished cleaning my windshield and put the scraper on the vehicles roof while I tried to fix the broken blade.

I ended up going down to the local Lewis drug, along the way I heard a couple of odd sounds which ended with a small 'thunk' upon entering the Lewis driveway.

It wasn’t until I got to the store and got out of my vehicle that I realized that I had left the scraper on the roof, no biggie, that 'thunk' I heard must have been it falling off. I turned to look at the entry to the driveway to see a car who was about to exit stop, it’s driver open the door and grab something from the ground while saying "ha ha, it is, stupid ____"

That's right, it seems the vehicle in question saw it fall off as I was driving in and claimed it as their own. Rather sad that they would see it, know that it was lost and still take it.

Oh well, now I just need to find my 2nd one that is lost somewhere in my 2nd bedroom which I use only for storage.

"Same price, more fscking"

Great title eh? Something one would almost expect to hear from a hooker.

Last night I got a call from a friend, inquiring if I was interested in a bit of bar time. Having been several months since last I went to the bar, I decided to go and hang out with some friends.

A couple of beers in, I decided it wasn’t doing much for me so I asked Molly, the person serving our table for something more potent. She suggested some odd concoction and said "Same price, more fscking."

Granted this is not the most interesting post, I just thought it a great, multi-purpose line and had to share it.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Cobuyitaphobia Wars: Conclusion

I almost forgot to mention, I am proud to announce that the epoch Cobuyitaphobia Wars have ended. Recently my worthy (yet inferior) opponent conceded the victory to me. Luckily, this occurred on the same day the war was scheduled to end.

An interesting side effect of our battle is my increased pagerank over all on Google for the name of this blog, I Hate Linux (without quotes). Prior to this battle, my results on that search were quite low, now, I am #2 behind a very old CNN article.

Throw quotes into the search for "I Hate Linux" and I am #1 with CNN no where in sight... which makes sense given the tone of the article.

I wonder if I can take #1 for I Hate Linux (without quotes) as well.

Popup Blocker Failings

For a while the Google Toolbar was enough for me to keep the popups at bay. Later I got a new PC at work running Windows XP with SP2 and it's popup blocker ended up catching more than Google’s (SP2's obviously has first crack at it)... so now and then one would make it through SP2's protection and Google's would stop it.

More and more lately though I've been seeing more and more popups from numerous sites. From the looks of it, most of them target IE and not Firefox as in limited side by side testing Firefox seems to be blocking a few more than the Google Toolbar and XPSP2 combined... quite odd.

I’m forced to wonder how many of those programmers building popups and other related code to bypass popup blocking are targeting FireFox and how that # will change as/if it's user base increases.