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I Hate Linux

Friday, September 30, 2005

An open letter to the Sci Fi Channel

A number of years ago when I was in college, I would often have my TV on while working on homework or otherwise dinking around in my dorm room. While I didn't always watch it intently, it did provide a nice distraction from time to time as well as a bit of background noise to drown out the sounds of my typing up a report or puzzling over a math problem.

For a good portion of this time, it was your network that my TV was tuned to and on it I would get to see plenty of old and good reruns of various shows, as well as an ad here and there for an upcoming movie or TV series I might be interested in.

Thankfully... that is no more because of all of the new found free time I have thanks to you, let me explain...

Over the years I've noticed an odd increase in the number of B movies that you show on the weekends, and end up playing the same, repetitive promos for them during nearly every commercial break. If the first 17 aren't enough to sell me, I doubt the following 84 will be.

Add to that the repetitiveness of some of your sponsors commercials, most notably that for the Subaru B9 Tribeca with the song “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas, also often being seen at least once during each commercial break I have my TV tuned to your channel. It amazes me in fact that you have much in the way of sponsors with methods like that where your viewers quickly get to know, and get sick of the repetitiveness of the commercials and what they advertise.

What does any of this have to do with extra free time? Simple, with the recent end of the 'summer season' of Battlestar Galactica, Stargate SG1 and Stargate Atlantis... I no longer have a reason to watch your network until January when they return, clearing up the 4 hours on Friday nights where I would ordinary be watching these shows as well as Firefly.

Maybe I am just ignorant as to how the TV game works... however from where I sit, taking a long and seemingly arbitrary break in the middle of a popular series would seem to me to do nothing but hurt ratings as many viewers may simply forget to tune in when it at last returns.

Forgive me... but isn't this much of how you effectively killed Farscape years ago by having long breaks without any explanation or reason in the middle or end of the season, only to have the last 4 episodes of season 4-8 months later?

An episode list such as that found on epguids.com (http://epguides.com/Farscape/) indicates that you often times would quit airing Farscape in late August or early September, only to bring it back the following January, or in one case, April in the case of Season 3.

Granted you are not alone in this strategy and I do see some advantages to it, such as the time between the season finale and new season premier is far less than it would be if the entire season was aired back to back. I guess I tend to prefer the FOX method of shows like what was used in the recent season of the series 24 where every Monday night, at 8pm (Central time), for twenty-four weeks straight, one could expect the next episode to air without a two to thirty-two week delay.

A co-worker has come up with an interesting alternative to both of these methods... he doesn't watch much TV, instead he waits until the end of a season (or sometimes series) and either borrows or buys the DVD's of it so that he can watch it on his time, without the needless breaks.

From the sounds of it though... your network is being a bit smarter about Battlestar this time around compared to your airing of Season 1 which began months earlier in the UK on SkyOne and was available online almost immediately, long before you ever got around to airing it in the US. This time though, you are airing it first, no doubt causing SkyOne and Canada's Space Network to end up losing a bit of viewership (when they air it) because of the illicit downloading that has no doubt occurred of your broadcasts while they (viewers) wait for it to start to air in their own locals in January of 2006.

Again, I could be wrong, but it would seem that you, SkyOne and Canada's Space Network are really competing in a global market despite being local or regional networks. Just as we have seen in the music and movie industry, needless delays in bringing sought entertainment titles to market often results in early and wide spread piracy, potentially costing the legitimate distributors of the content financial losses.

On the odd chance that the reason you give for the delays is that the full season is still under development and not yet complete... why not wait to air until it's done?

In either case, rather than hoard, try to beat other networks to the punch or wait for production to complete... why not have relatively simultaneous releases (ie within a matter of days) so that the piracy market is marginalized, viewers don't have to put up with such extended and seemingly pointless delays?

Once again, thanks for all of the extra free time you are offering me because of your odd schedule decisions. I'll see you in January when my shows return, if I remember.

It's Official: The press is sick of Cindy Sheehan and so am I

Two back to back political posts? I know, this needs to stop!

Like many I suspect, I have become more and more sickened with all of the press coverage of Cindy Sheehan and her crusade to turn Iraq into the next Somalia (minus Somaliland) (or worse) by yanking out our troops before the situation and the country are stable and secure enough to handle such a loss.

Early on, many of the pictures we would see of this woman showed her as a typical middle aged American mom, not overly attractive, just motherly and more or less composed, images such as these:

These are all reasonable pictures of this lunatic, however recently I have been seeing a semi common and unflattering picture attached to articles about her, specifically, this one:

Is it just me, or is that a horrible picture, almost a mug shot? I do think it is a sign from the press at last regarding their feelings towards her...

Ryne McClaren, a Nebraskan (which I wont hold against you (today at least)) recently commented that:

You can either go to a protest with good looking girls who love America, or you can go hang out with lank-haired, hemp wearing moonbat freak-women. Your call.

The point of all of this? I think that the media finally has taken the opportunity to show what an ugly person Cindy Sheehan is. No, I'm not saying put a paper bag over her head or that I feel large amounts of bile in my stomach that needs to be expelled, I'm saying that it is a reflection of what sort of person she is and the press at last wants to remind us all of that (in case you haven't heard what she's been saying).

Like it or not, humans do prefer attractive things to unattractive things (not just visually)... and with any luck, if the media keeps showing pictures like this of Cindy Sheehan, that people will realize what a horrible and unattractive person she is and move away from her ultra-leftist, anti-American camp.


Thursday, September 29, 2005

Tom DeLay... a ham sandwich?

I try not to get overly political here on I Hate Linux (one day I may have to change that name as this blog has little to do with Linux anymore, I just hate to give up all of the PageRank) and instead leave much of that to my buddy Danny Abbott (more on that another time) of tdaxp and the Jim River Report fame.

Yesterday with all of the news regarding the indictment of Tom DeLay on conspiracy charges, I kept hearing a common theme, to steal a couple of quotes from one FOXNews article:

Rep Ileana Ros-Lehtinen:
This is a ham sandwich indictment and we just ask 'where's the beef?'

Senator Trent Lott:
He can indict a ham sandwhich before most grand juries

I do think Rep Lott misspoke, meaning to say "he can get an indictment of a ham sandwich from most grand juries", but it still makes an entertaining quote.

A quick Google News search for 'ham sandwich' and find the #2 group of stories being in fact about Tom DeLay which gives us another great quote from Rep Ros-Lehtinen:

We've all heard the cliche that a grand jury can indict a ham sandwich. This is a ham sandwich indictment

For those who do not know just yet, the ham sandwich defense is that just because someone is indicted, doesn't necessarily mean that they have done anything wrong as a skilled prosecutor can have anyone or anything indicted, including a ham sandwich.

Fine, so he isn't yet guilty (yet?)... is this a surprise to anyone? Doesn't our legal system work off of the principal of 'innocent until proven guilty'? There have been no serious calls for him to resign from his congressional seat, and the only reason he resigned as leader was because the House Rules require it.

Yes, we have reached a point in this country where far too many cases are tried in the public, with both sides sitting down with various pendants on the news channels and saying their side of the case, why they think that someone they've never met or talked to is not being truthful with things that the accuser can know nothing about, or that they are completely innocent of those crimes they have been accused of.

I for one am sick of it all and the fact that so many Republicans jumped out so quick labeling this a ham sandwich indictment, or when the accused makes such a sweeping defense argument such as calling it:

one of the weakest, most baseless indictments in American history

I tend to lose a fair amount of respect for the speaker as I have little doubt that there are more than a few other indictments in the 229 some years of this nation that are far weaker than this. Heck... I bet if we tried really hard we could find a ham sandwich or two actually being indicted.

Tom, if you are innocent as you claim, then let the courts do their job and find that. If you are guilty, suck it up and take your punishment... don't waste all of our time on your pointless dribble.

That goes for the rest of you too, Republicans, Democrats, Libritarians, Independants, Socialists, Communists, Constitutions, Greens, Federalists and Whigs. You'd think our elected officials would have better things to do than this... things like prescription drug benefits, hurricane relief, the war on terrorism, rising interest rates, supreme court nominees and gas gouging... just to name a few.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Humbling Experience

We’ve all heard stories about Windows machines being able to be compromised by just browsing to a web page or sitting online. Most of these stories I did not believe or thought due to poorly patched/managed systems... until today.

During a discussion over on Channel 9 on an interesting spyware installer, I chimed in with the following picture (do not go to the site shown):

I ran across this site a couple of months ago, it, like many tries to get you to install an component which you probably do not want. Unlike many though, it displayed a flash animation showing how to enable the download so you could install it, making it a creative attempt IMO to trick a user into installing god only knows what.

Deciding to go back to the site to see if the animation was still around, Symantec Antivirus screamed with the following warning:

Threat Found!Threat: Downloader.Trojan in File: C:\DOCUME~1\brendang\LOCALS~1\Temp\4T2MV5U7.dll by: Auto-Protect scan. Action: Clean failed : Quarantine failed : Delete succeeded : Access denied. Action Description: The file was deleted successfully.

Ooo, that’s nice. Good thing for... suddenly I saw a new icon in my Task Bar... one for ‘180 Solutions’.

Whipping out Microsoft Anti-Spyware (I know, it should have been running already), I quickly cleaned it, along with 180Solutions.SearchAssistant, WindUpdates, WindUpdates.MediaAccess, IEPlugin, 180Solutions.Zango.SearchAssistant, and ShopAtHome off of my system.

This is more than a little troubling... the PC that got owned is my work PC running Windows XP with SP2 and all updates including IE7 Beta 1. Having been online since the mid 90’s, I’ve always been aware of many of the bad things that can happen... I was not aware however just how real this threat was, even to people like me who are quite skilled with PC’s... boy was I wrong.

A little puzzled as to how any of this might be legal, I ran over to the 180Search Assistant webpage and read:

Where does 180search Assistant come from?
180search Assistant is downloaded and installed as a component of many free software applications, screensavers, games and Internet accelerators. All applications that include 180search Assistant explicitly state so in their terms and conditions. 180search Assistant can only be installed after a user indicates their assent. All of our distributors have different ways of displaying their license agreements, but every user must click "Yes" or "I agree" in order to complete the download. Please be sure to carefully read all agreements when downloading applications - especially music downloads, screensavers and games.

At no time when visiting the site in question (which again, I advice you do not visit in with anything but a disposable install (ie in a VM)) was I prompted with a EULA or given any chance to agree, certainly in violation of 180search Assistant rules/EULA. Given this, I am forced to wonder if they will take any action against the owners/operators of the site in question, or if they will show themselves to be just as bad as those who installed this software without my permission.

This also makes me wonder... in some cases, adware is quite useful if included in moderation with a free application so that it’s developer can derive some money from it... exactly what 180search Assistant claims to be for. This mechanism of course is easily exploited by far worse people who will seemingly go to any means to install such things on an unknowing persons system.

Shame such a potentially useful system has to be abused so.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Don Adams Dead at 82

Would you believe... That Don Adams the best actor ever? No? How about one of the best? Maybe pretty damn good?

Like many kids, growing up I watched a fair amount of TV and had many favorites. GI Joe and You Can't Do That On Television were two of my favorites, but #1 was by far Get Smart reruns on TV Land at 8pm CST.

I had come to know Maxwell Smart with his shoe phone and love of the Cone Of Silence extremely well, long before I heard of James Bond and truly loved the show or the other sources of his spoofdom.

The Shoe Phone:

Cone of Silence:

I was sad to learn today that Don Adams died yesterday at the age of 82, without you Don, the world will continue to be in chaos, or as I fondly remember it from the show:

*singing* K-A-O-S... KAOS!!!

As sad as I am to hear of his death, I can only hope that it will at last be the force that causes the release of the Get Smart tv series on VHS or DVD, something I would buy in a second.

As it turns out, there is a year old petition to get just that and I’d suggest anyone reading this with any interest in it head on over and sign it.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Evil Deeds (and not even mine)

Last night after a Sioux Falls Stampede game a few of us ended up at our local Old Chicago.

Unfortunately, our service was awful. Piss poor in fact and we were quite angry. In response, we each gave a 3 cent tip to the waitress. One person also rigged the cheese dispenser to dump its contents when touched (not nice I agree). On the way out as well, one friend and I filled our pockets with as many free mints as we could grab. Upon getting outside we found that one in our group had taken the rest of the mints... complete with the container they were in.

Quite evil, but good dare I say it.

Monday, September 19, 2005


On the topic of my now running XP, I have run into an odd situation that I have not been able to fully fix yet.

When I am at work I will from time to time VNC into my home PC to check e-mail and other such things. This morning when I attempted to log into VNC the window remained black and I had no control over it.

Puzzled, I RDSed (Remote Desktop Sharing) into one of my home PC's and from it RDSed my main box (I had not changed the RDS NAT port to point to my primary PC) and I found things fine... so I had VNC reconnect... and things worked fine... so I disconnected RDS, and VNC quit updating it's display.

Long story short, I quickly discovered that VNC was not going update the screen if I did not have an RDS client connected.

I hope to find a solution to this before too long.

End of an Era

This weekend I did something I never thought I would. Something I vowed never to do and did a pretty good job of avoiding until now.

What is this horrible deed? The installation of Windows XP on my main home PC.

I know it sounds a bit stupid, after all, why hold off on upgrading to the latest and greatest version of an operating system?

For me, it was two fold. First up, I couldn't and still can't stand the fisher price look of Windows XP (even when the eye candy is off it still looks too pastel for my tastes). The other reason was that IMO, XP offered nothing for me that I didn't have already under 2000.

I'll save the arguments over important points of 2000 vs XP, suffice to say, I held off, for years. Recently I began to hope that I could completely bypass XP and jump straight to Vista when it was released next year... unfortunately that was not to be.

This weekend I had a LAN Party, once I ended up coming home early from because my PC refused to boot normally. Upon getting home and having already given up on troubleshooting (after 90 some min already) I decided it was time to pave the system and reinstall.

This left me with a choice. Do I continue with my tried and true (and loved) Windows 2000 and remain cut off from improvements such as Avalon and IE7 (when both are released or just playing with the betas for now), or do I take the plunge and finally be able to play with both of those new technologies.

Lucky for me, I had a copy of XP Pro laying around that I received as part of filling out a Microsoft survey so I decided it was time.

A number of friends who heard about this were shocked, one so much so that he stopped by my house last night just to see, and still in disbelief took a picture of it so that when next he doubted if I really did cross the line (to 'the light side' as he called it), he would have further proof.

So far so good, I have run into a few quirks and oddities that I need to figure out in order to use XP as well (if not better) as I used 2000. I'll write about those a little later.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Fall 05 Booklist

Feel free to ignore this post, it's just a reminder as to what books I need to purchase for next semester.

At least this one will be slightly less expensive than the last one.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Reimbursement Loophole

Related to my previous post on my tuition reimbursement problems, this morning I had a realization of an oddity and potential loophole in the program here at my company, one I am not likely to take advantage of (mostly due to my liking my job here), but still thought it worth sharing (including the HR person who I mentioned it to this morning).

My company’s program is pretty simple, they pay the school bills and if you leave the company voluntarily within a year after a payment, you need to repay the company that amount.

Pretty simple right?

What about when the reimbursement is reported as income on ones pay stub and W-2 at the end of the year?

With the IRS tax free limit being $5,250, should an employee receive... $5,000 in reimbursement within the year and leave, it’s pretty easy for the company to ask for that money back and get it (short of the whole, coming up with $5,000 in cash) because of that money not being externally reported.

This gets a little hairy though when one moves beyond that IRS limit. Let’s say the employee received a total of $10,000, or even $15,000, well beyond the limit. Reclaiming the first $5,250 is pretty easy... the rest though could be tricky, if at all possible IMO given that the amount has been treated as part of the employee’s regular income and has paid federal income tax as well as FICA on it.

It’s pretty safe to say that if the employee received $10,000 above the limit and was asked/required to pay it back, it would cost them far more than $10,000 depending on their tax bracket.

In taking to the HR person about this earlier, she said that if such a thing were to happen, here, she thought that they would take into account the taxes paid by the employee already on it and adjust the end amount accordingly.

No matter how such an issue would be resolved, it is still is quite an interesting one and I do not see it occur.

Expensive Reimbursement

Since January I have been working on a masters program at a local university and have benefited from my companies tuition reimbursement program where I end up only paying for books and the time... or so I thought.

Recently I was informed of a little IRS rule that I was previously not aware of... that the first $5250 of tuition reimbursement in the year is considered tax free... anything beyond that must be reported as taxable income. Nice thing to find out about in September.

The problem of course with this is that with the remaining 9 paychecks of the year (including today’s), the amount of above that limit that has been paid and will be paid by the end of the year is... enormous and if put on a check whenever they are applicable would eat away my take home pay significantly due to FICA, federal income tax and my 401k.

In order to make this less painful, I decided to have them add an additional $830 to each of my paychecks for the rest of the year, as well as increase my number of exemptions from 0 to 7 so that the total amount of tax being taken out doesn’t kill me now, I’ll just need to come up with the extra cash before filing my taxes in the spring.

I guess the moral of this story is to be a little more aware of the potential tax liabilities of such free seeming money.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

The Dosch-man has entered the building!

At long last, my buddy Adam Dosch of Fd Linux fame as at last begun a blog for his ranting called WTF Is This Shit?

To give an example of Adam and his rants... a couple of months ago while driving home from work he pulled out his iPod and began to record something to the effect of:

Personal Log... July... 18th... 2005... five... thirty-five... pm... god I hate Brendan Grant... sitting there... in his stupid sun glasses…smiling like an idiot... god I hate him... end log.

Personal Log... July... 18th... 2005... five... thirty-six... pm... I still $%&ing hate Brendan Grant... words cannot describe how much I hate him... end log

This should be good.