Thursday, March 22, 2007

Funny Video

Very predicable, but definitely worth watching!

The Apple iRack

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Wikipedia Birthday Meme

Carried on from Sheep Days.

1. Go to Wikipedia, type in your birth month and date, but no year (ie - January 1).

2. List Events on that which interest you:

  • 1040 - King Duncan I is killed in battle against his first cousin and rival Macbeth

  • 1877 - Thomas Edison makes the first-ever recording

  • 1914 - The Panama Canal opens to traffic with the transit of the cargo ship Ancon

  • 1969 - The Woodstock Music and Art Festival opens

3. List a few birthdays:
  • 1769 - Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of the French (d. 1821)

  • 1771 - Sir Walter Scott, Scottish novelist and poet (d. 1832)

  • 1925 - Oscar Peterson, Canadian jazz pianist

  • 1945 - Gene Upshaw, NFL player

  • 1958 - Craig MacTavish, former Canadian ice hockey player/coach

4. List a death:
  • 1057 - King Macbeth of Scotland (nice little bit of irony for you there!)

5. List a holiday or observance (if any):
  • Egypt – Flooding of the Nile Day

6. Tag some other bloggers:
  • neh - join in if you want, I'm not going to force it on anyone

I Hate Having To Do This

Today I find myself having to cheer for a team I absolutely hate - the Detroit Red Wings. I am an Avalanche fanatic. Ever since the team came to Colorado in the 1995-96 season, I have been a loyal fan and supporter. A couple of years ago, during the NHL Lock-Out, I had serious problems adjusting to a lack of hockey. Naturally, part of being such an Avs fan means that I hate the Red Wings. It's a rivalry which goes back to that first season and has never really abated (although I think much of our hatred has shifted to the Vancouver Canucks, after Bertuzzi's hit on Moore). Anyway, I'm going to be forced to root for the Wings tonight. They're playing the Calgary Flames, who are currently 4 points ahead of the Avalanche for the 8th and final playoff spot in the West. I really want the Flames to lose . . . but that means rooting for the Wings.

sigh . . . the things we have to do for our teams.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Follow Up To "Take Back Our History"

Well, House Resolution 1255, which I posted about last Friday, went to the House floor today. And it passed! Final vote was 333 for to 93 against, with 7 no votes. Want to see how your rep voted? Here's the full roll call. I want to thank those of you who took the time to contact your representative and tell them how important this kind of action is.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Ya Think?

Justice Department Says F.B.I. Misused Patriot Act, from New York Times online.

Take Back Our History

"I firmly believe that ... presidential papers, except for the most highly sensitive documents involving our national security, should be made available to the public." ~ President Gerald Ford

The Presidential Records Act (1978) stated that Presidents and former Presidents had to make their presidential records available to the public 12 years after their final term in office. There were of course certain circumstances under which records could be withheld longer (such as on-going matters of national security), but there was a process by which this happened which ensured that the people would have access to the records of their president.

On November 1, 2001, President Bush issues Executive Order 13233, which, in the words of Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA), "carved enormous loopholes in the Presidential Records Act." What this executive order did was to give the President to the unchecked power to withhold any records and/or other materials indefinitely after their final term in office. Not only that, but their heirs could withhold them as well. And as a final coup de grace, the order gave this same power to the vice-president! Personally, I find this deeply disturbing - as should anyone who wants to prevent the tyranny of the state.

Well, there is presently an opportunity to tell Bush that we will not accept this kind of thing. Just yesterday, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee unanimously approved H.R. 1255, the "Presidential Records Act Amendments of 2007." This is a bill which would revoke 13233 and set a time limit on how long Presidents can withhold this information. But we have to act NOW! This bill will coming up for debate on the House floor early next week. This link will take you the joint website for the Federation of State Humanities Councils, the National Coalition for History and the National Humanities Alliance. They have a full description of what this bill would do. There is also a prepared form letter which you can submit, as is or edited as you choose, directly to your Representative. It's quick and easy - and it's important. So I ask that you let your Reps know that we want our history back!

If you want to know more about the bill and what was said in the Subcommittee's hearings on it, click here.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

You Gotta Be Kidding Me!

Fuck, some people aggravate me. (surprise, surprise, surprise)

As part one of the projects I work on, I monitor and maintain an online discussion forum. We recently decided that we were going to require people to register. We did this for several reasons. First, requiring registration to post is far and away the norm for these things. Second, we were getting spammed pretty bad. Not only does this look unprofessional, but there were some concerns that this might catch the attention of one of the higher-ups at the university - and this would be bad. Third, and most important from my point of view, constantly having to go check for spam and then delete it was taking time away from other things which I need to work on.

Realizing that some people were going need to have their hands held to get through the registration process, I wrote up directions. Here's how they originally read:

To Register:
1. Click on the "Register" button located under the forum logo.

2. Agree to the terms of service (requirement of the company hosting this forum service).

3. Fill out the required account information - you will have to create a username and password, enter your email address (you can select to hide this from people later), and compete the word verification form.

4. Set any other options. The "Profile" and "Preferences" sections of the form are completely optional (the time and date defaults are set to Arizona). The option to disable email display is under "Preferences." You can completely ignore the "Super Quick Reply mod" section.

5. Click submit.

Congratulations! You are now registered!
If you have any questions or problems, please email [the project's email address as a hotlink]

Now, I will admit that I'm a techie, so things like registering for a forum are no big deal to me. I could probably do it with my eyes shut. But apparently, this was too confusing for some people. They couldn't find the "register" link. They couldn't understand sections of the form (the ones I told them they could ignore). They didn't know how to log in. (Oh, for fuck's sake, you can't be this stupid, can you?)

And instead of emailing the project, like the instructions say, they emailed the director of the project! It's not so much that they emailed him as it is they did that instead of clicking on the email hotlink.

What really gets me about this whole thing is that the people who are registering for this are primarily supposed be graduate students, professors, and professionals. In other words, intelligent people! Apparently not. Am I being unreasonable in assuming that people should be able to fill out a fairly simple registration form? I would hope not, but I've been disappointed before.

Serious, these people are supposed to be trained academics. I'm sorry, if you can't understand this simple a registration process, you should have your previous diplomas revoked and you may just want to go ahead and shoot yourself.

Lest We Forget

Faces of the Dead in Iraq
From the New York Times online.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Things Which Are Annoying Me This Morning

While I am not really pissed off or anything, I have found myself at general low-level of annoyance this morning. These are the sort of things which, by themselves, probably wouldn't a big deal. But they have this nasty little tendency to build on each other. So, here are things which have already annoyed me this morning:

Car Alarms: Okay - so these tend to annoy me all the time, not just this morning. They just happen to be a focus this morning because one went off outside my window this morning about 15 minutes before my alarm. If it had been a little earlier, I might have slept through it. Or at the very least I would have had time to actually go back to sleep. At 15 minutes, however, there's not really enough time to actually go back to sleep in any sort of meaningful way. Now I realize that car alarms are part of every day life these days, but that doesn't stop them from annoying me.

The Fill-In News Caster: So this is one of the little ones. I like to watch the local news as I'm getting ready in the morning. Yeah, I know most of the stories they're covering that time of day are complete bull-shit, fluff stories, but I like to catch things like the local weather, traffic reports, and the local sports coverage. The particular channel I watch is usually pretty good (although I'm noticing a disturbing trend toward things like make-up tips as news stories - I'm sorry, how is this considered important news?), but this morning one of the regular news casters had the day off. I in no way blame her for taking a day off - hell, I wish I could. But the woman they had filling in for her this morning was just terrible. She was one of those people who tries to hard to be a "serious" news caster, but still seem open, friendly, and personable. Didn't work. Lady, you're just filling in - get over yourself.

Ann Coulter: This is another one which annoys me on a regular basis, but has been brought to my attention this morning in particular. If you don't already know, Ann Coulter is an ultra conservative right-wing ideologue. She has made it habit to say things which many (if not most) people consider to be offensive and outlandish. She was the one a few months back who referred to some of the 9/11 widows as "harpies." Well, she's done it again (big surprise, huh?). This past Friday, she referred to Democratic Presidential hopeful John Edwards as a "faggot." According to a story, at the Conservative Political Action Conference she said "I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate, John Edwards, but it turns out that you have to go into rehab if you use the word 'faggot,' so I'm - so, kind of at an impasse, can't really talk about Edwards, so I think I'll just conclude here and take your questions." Nice. I must admit, I would not be all that sorry to see this woman, whom I consider the really harpy, just go away.

The DHCP: DHCP stands for Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol. Without going into a bunch of techno-babble which most people wouldn't understand, I'll simply say that this program needs to be functioning properly for the computer network on campus is function properly. Without, computers cannot connect to the Internet. Well, it was down this morning. It looks like it's fixed now, but having something like this down early on a Monday morning is bad. Really bad. While there is absolutely nothing I can do about, people still come to me wanting to get it fixed. They hate the fact that only answer I can give them is "It's broken. They are working on fixing it. You'll just have to wait." Luckily, the network admins got it fixed in about half an hour and things seem to going well at this point. But all this happened before I had my coffee - not good.

Spring Training: I know people love baseball. I accept this fact. I don't care about it all that much, but if other people do, that's fine. The problem is that right now it's Spring Training, which means a number of teams are here in Arizona doing their thing. Again, fine, I don't really care. It's the people who are here to watch Spring Training who are annoying me. I have ranted about driving in Phoenix before. It's rather like playing dodge ball with cars. As crazy as it may be, however, there is some method to the madness. Most people in Phoenix understand at least some of the rules. When you toss in a bunch of outsiders, that's when you have real problems. Spring training started last week, and people's spring breaks are going to be coming up over the next couple weeks - thing are only going to get worse.

Post #100!