East of the Sun, West of the Moon

2007/10/15

Identity Theft

Filed under: Humo(u)r — Erwin @ 3:59 pm

Actually, I’m dealing with the opposite here. Someone has mistakenly used the email address that I have with my ISP (that would be the one that I don’t use except to check it regularly to see if anything other than the usual batch of spam was there, like important messages or anything from the ISP itself) to sign up for websites aimed at future college students.

The most recent one was more than just an email-newsletter subscription, it was an account with all sorts of personal information like the person’s name and address, phone number, current high school, etc. I’d like to warn this person (or the parents) that making mistakes like this is going to cause them trouble one fine day, but how do I do that? Calling them up and saying “Hi, I’m a complete stranger that lives in a different state, but I know your child’s name and birth date and what school s/he attends” wouldn’t exactly inspire confidence, I imagine, and they don’t exactly live next door (the fun of cable companies that provide their service in many different states).

Suggestions would be appreciated. 🙂

2007/10/12

Linkage on 2007-10-11/12

Filed under: Humo(u)r,Linkage,News — Erwin @ 6:49 pm

A little bit of everything.

Amp’d Mobile’s Sordid Remains:

As Hamilton was cleaning out the desks and filing cabinets, he came across some of those excesses in the form of marketing schwag—like condoms stamped with the unfortunate tagline, “Try not to die.” Little did the Amp’d marketing genius who came up with that line know that the expiration dates on the condoms would outlast the company.

Windows Update Brings Down Newscast:

A Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania television station was forced to broadcast its noon newscast from its parking lot on Wednesday because this month’s Windows update wasn’t installed in time. The “major meltdown” occurred during a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate Channel 11’s new facility, attended by executives from Cox Broadcasting, the station’s parent company.

China joins UN censure of Burmese regime:

China turned against the Burmese government last night and supported a UN security council statement rebuking the military regime for its suppression of peaceful protests, and demanding the release of all political prisoners.

2007/10/11

5 seconds (if that) of fame

Filed under: Humo(u)r,Software — Erwin @ 9:50 pm

Yesterday morning I came across an article in The Register about Apple preparing some sort of webapp portal for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Since this seemed relevant, I passed that on to the iPhoneWebDev group, to which I’ve been subscribed almost as long as I’ve had an iPhone. Within minutes Erica Sadun, also on the list, followed up, and I thought that that was the end of it.

Then in the evening I got an email, out of the blue, from a former colleague (we worked at the same company about 8 years ago), saying he had come across my name in a TUAW article, where Erica mentioned the rumour and thanked me for passing it on. 🙂

Oh, and that portal is actually live now, by the way.

Math

Filed under: Family — Erwin @ 1:04 am

When you do a subtraction like 13 – 7, you probably don’t even think about it anymore, you just spit out the answer, right? And just to be sure, that should be 6.

A surprised me this evening with a trick that he apparently figured out by himself. Instead of trying to do 13 – 7 in his head, he first subtracts 7 from 10, getting 3, and then adds that to 3, with final result being 6 (one hopes). So more generally speaking he uses the transformation (10 + x) – y == (10 – y) + x to turn a trickier subtraction into an easy subtraction and an addition!

I think that’s pretty cool for a fourth grader (a nine year old), but maybe I’m biased? 🙂

2007/10/10

Linkage on 2007-10-10

Filed under: Humo(u)r,Linkage,Music,News — Erwin @ 6:33 pm

Happy birthday Pär! I promise to catch up with you in about 2 months, as usual. 😉

Case of vodka used to treat poisoned tourist:

Australian doctors used a case of vodka to treat an Italian tourist who poisoned himself with a highly toxic substance found in anti-freeze.

The man was unconscious on arrival at Mackay Base Hospital in Queensland and doctors immediately started treating him with pharmaceutical-grade alcohol, which works as an antidote to the poison.

But the hospital’s alcohol supplies were soon exhausted and staff were forced to buy a case of vodka, which they administered through a drip in his nose.

I Love Mars, and I Vote:

Carberry is the political director of the Mars Society, a nonprofit group that pushes relentlessly for human exploration and settlement of the red planet. He’s the point man for Operation President 2008, in which Mars Society members lie in wait for presidential candidates at campaign stops in the early primary states, then leap out to pop the question: As president, would you send a man to Mars?

Kwik-Fit sued over staff radios:

A car repair firm has been taken to court accused of infringing musical copyright because its employees listen to radios at work.

I suppose it was time

Filed under: OS X,Technology — Erwin @ 4:20 pm

I’ve had an unpleasant week of unpredictable behaviour from my MacBook Pro where it would simply power off while the battery still looks like it should have enough charge (typically over 10% and under 40%), several attempts to fully and utterly drain and then recharge the battery, resetting the SMC (System Management Controller) data to make sure there is no anomalous data there. This forced me to draw the conclusion that after 476+ cycles it may not be entirely unexpected that the battery is due for a replacement!

The MBP has been here since July last year, so nearly 15 months now. If you’ll do the math with me you’ll see that I’ve had the battery go through at least one cycle per day, on average. To have the next one last a bit longer I’ll have to try and keep it on the adapter, I guess. I was already trying to do the drain it fully, once a month thing, but will also try to do that more consistently.

Any other suggestions?

Linkage on 2007-10-09

Filed under: Humo(u)r,Linkage,News,Software — Erwin @ 12:49 am

His silence mistaken, deaf man attacked:

The cashier tried to speak to him but got angry when Goodnight didn’t respond, Goodnight told police. The cashier threw Goodnight’s change at him, scattering it on the floor.

As Goodnight picked it up, the cashier hit him in the side of the head with the crowbar, Goodnight said.

The Inflation Calculator may seem useful but mostly to fuel bogus arguments, I think. After all, your $200 CD player from 1990 didn’t cost $313 in 2006, did it?

Duty Cycle Calculator is a slightly different calculator, one that makes it easier to estimate how much it costs you to leave the television on, leave light bulbs on over night.

2007/10/9

Facebook Apps

Filed under: Software — Erwin @ 3:14 pm

The downside of the Facebook Applications and the desperate wish of almost all of their developers to have them go viral and make a fortune is this:

FB-madness.png

And I assure you that if I didn’t regularly clean out the list it would look a lot worse. What Facebook desperately needs is one or two checkboxes alongside each invitation with which you can indicate that you don’t want to be bothered with future invites from the same application, whether that’s for a month, or forever.

2007/10/8

Resellers are people too

Filed under: General — Erwin @ 8:56 pm

Last week I had the dubious pleasure of realizing that Amazon‘s shipping charges suck when you want to order more than a few items from the same reseller because they absolutely do not bother to take into account that the items can and most likely will go into a single box. Makes me wonder how many resellers earn a large chunk of their profit from that fact, when customers buy 2 or more items, Amazon pays them as if the items will be shipping in separate boxes, and in practice the cost is about as much as it would be for just one item.

Thankfully the resellers — or at least the two I dealt with — were responsive to my request to cut me a deal. In the first case I was ordering 20 small individual items, cost of the items being just over $50 and Amazon charging me nearly $100 for shipping those. After contacting the reseller and emailing back and forth a bit, he offered (and I agreed to) a refund of around $70, which made the deal a lot more acceptable. Thank you Hot_Wires! The second also responded positive, but then it turned out that the reseller didn’t have the needed number of items so I’m still waiting to try a substitute item and then decide on what to do.

The lesson is, I guess, twofold:

  • Pay attention to what your online store is about to charge you.
  • It never hurts to ask for a discount.

Happy Monday!

2007/10/5

Note to self

Filed under: Humo(u)r,Software — Erwin @ 7:59 pm

When your computer tells you that the CMOS checksum was incorrect and it’s reset to defaults, it may be a good idea to go in and at least set the time and date to something vaguely correct, to avoid having the filesystem checks kick in twice: First when it’s confused about going back in time a few years, and again after you’ve corrected the time and it goes forward in time a few years, both times saying “Well, it’s been too long since the last time, I better check”, even though of course the system was rebooted without crashes or anything.

Gah. And with that 1TB that I have here now, it takes a while! 🙂

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