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( #4 ... from 06/09/36 )

01/13/37 ---------------- Hyper-downloading by 'bots
  I got this message today from Verio support concerning my site stats being hit up for 698 megs yesterday when I usually get around 60 megs. The excess was due to my forum being downloaded about 35,000 times by some computer glitch.

In regards to:
Web site statistics
It appears the traffic was generated by a web spider/robot called 'HTTrack 3.0x'. This appears to be a web site mirroring program. If you perform a search using a search engine on that name you will find more information on this particular web spider as well as information on how to block it.

  I just put a line in my robots.txt "disallow /cgi-local/". What my robots.txt had in it was "disallow /cgi-bin/". Now, you'd think a big company like Verio would know that they have "cgi-local" instead of cgi-bin, wouldn't you? After all it's their default robots.txt. So why did they write "cgi-bin"?? ... because they hired a programmer who wrote the code without investigating their business model, i.e. he didn't actually look at the robots.txt that customers were using ... he just ASSUMED that it would be the common name. I hope this puts an end to it.

1/06/37 ---------------- New TV for EB
  I have been very busy with Christmas. And on December 20th, my 12 year old 35" RCA Home Theater TV lost its life. So, I had to go hunting for a new window on the world. I settled on a 50" Sony Grand Wega LCD rear projection TV (KDF-50WE655) bought from Sears. We can't afford it but I'm tired of seeing "small".
  The picture is great. The bulb (at near $200 per) must be replaced every 2-4 thousand miles or 4 years (whichever comes first ;o). I'm watching the Super Bowl this year at MY HOUSE! I will review this product in full in a few months. So far, I am happy ... but it's only been three days and I don't even have everything hooked up. Bought $60 worth of better cables and have to go to Radio Shack manana to buy a cable splitter voltage supressor thingy that allows me to put the DVD recorder (+RW) on a direct line to the satellite feed. This will allow peace to reign in my domicile when my wife sets the record function for the same time that I want to watch something else. I'm not really into Spanish soap opera ... too much amnesia and lost babies.
  Speaking of lost babies ... When the Sears delivery guys were here, the door was open as they removed the packing, etc. We were talking about the TV when I looked toward the door ... and ... what to my wondering eyes should appear but a little malotto boy and his tiny underwear. Says I, "Is he with you guys?" Ans: "No, I don't know him." So, here's this 2 year old kid in a shirt and diaper (nothing else) in my living room with no pedigree or papers for that matter.
  We took him to the apartment office. One of the gals there put her coat around him and proceeded to run around the complex in her golf cart trying to find the correct mother. What became of him I don't know. We asked him where his mother was and all he could say was "Working". I imagine a mother coming home ... door open ... baby gone ... Iiieeeeeee!!! My baby is gone! Someone stole my baby!!!!!! Then comes Child Protective Services ... they'll help out the situation ... sure ;o)

  Is this a good or a bad omen with respect to my TV?

12/14/36 ----------------AOL still sucks
  I had the misfortune to try to help a co-worker fix his DVD player on his computer (the software one). Having failed to fix it with "restore" on my first attempt last week, I went back today and tried to download a fresh copy of WinDVD. Unfortunately, he had AOL 8.0 and I spent my limited lunch hour trying to get through that mess to get to Google ... then to a download site.
  I couldn't start the download because of time constraints. It took twenty minutes to get online and to the download site but I didn't make it to the download page itself. What got in the way was a continuous stream of ads, search options and general "AOL takeover garbage". As soon as I x'd out one interloper ... another took its place.
  It was exactly like that ad on tv where the guy is zapping pop-ups like it's a video game. I was getting really frustrated and started cursing ... "Get out of the way! You shit" ... "Die, mutha' fucka'". But they just kept coming. With only a dialup connection of about 8K per second, this garbage was yanking off 7K at least (probably more) to send me whatever I didn't ask for. The adware and spyware on his machine ate all the bandwidth ... and AOL was the biggest "gulprit".
  Finally, I had to give up the enterprise. Downloading something in the presence of AOL is just not feasible. I tried to minimize AOL and just run IE on its own, but AOL wouldn't let me. It insisted that I needed 75% of the screen taken up with AOL options. The internet, on AOL, looks like the picture in the corner on CNN's Headline News (which is owned by AOL). And when I tried to go off-line, AOL didn't even have the decency to die properly. I had to resort to control-alt-delete ... three freakin' times to kill it. It stuck around like freaking Rasputin. Fuck AOL.
  Let me repeat that ...

Fuck AOL
and Steve Case too.

12/01/36 ---------------- Minesweeper
  I've long had the suspicion that my favorite game ... Minesweeper ... was not a fixed set at the start of the game. Now I see that my suspicions were correct. The mines are moved during play insofar as is logically consistent with already revealed numbers.
  For those unfamiliar with the game ... minesweeper is a kind of solitaire game that comes with nearly all versions of Windows. Navigate to /Games to play. I use the maximum number of squares ... 24x30 with 150 mines which is the optimum number ~21%. If you have too many mines the game is just about unplayable and reduces to plain chance. If you have too few it becomes trivial. In this game, you click on a square to reveal a mine or a number. The mine blows you up and it's game over. The number determines how many mines are around that square, i.e. between 0 and 8. It doesn't actually show a zero but reveals all the contiguous empty squares to remove the boredom of having to click on a sure thing. For instance, if it shows a "4", there are four mines around that square and four empty "safe" squares to total 8. You can make a 50-50 guess or reason out which of the eight are safe by the logic of adjacent revealed numbers. I have personally seen an "8" only once. And I've seen a few dozen "7s".
  Anyway, I've always wondered if the bombs and numbers were fixed when you start a new game. That is, the "set" which is completely covered at the outset must be unchangeable throughout the game. I have long felt that there was some subtle alteration going on in the program to favor the better player when he's forced to "take a guess" and punish the bad player at a similar "guess" juncture. A bad player is one who takes a guess when a "no-brainer" move is still available, i.e. a no bomb result it guaranteed by the logic of the presently revealed board.
  Today, my suspicions were confirmed in this manner.
  Click first at the outset of play on the lower left hand corner square and you will never encounter a bomb (in the above mentioned maximum mode). Do this as many times as you want. Now, after you have convinced yourself that the absence of bomb is preprogrammed into the game, take another square at the outset of the game ... then, at any other time in the game ... take the lower left hand square. You will occasionally get blown up. This proves that the initial game set is dependent on player selection. To what degree, I cannot say for sure having no access to the program itself.
  Anyone have any further knowledge of this matter?

11/27/36 ----------------Gross National Happiness
  The new WIRED magazine has an article about how we should forget the Gross National Product as a measure of civilization's success and poll the people to see if physical prosperity makes people any happier.
  This can't work in principle. Happiness-Sadness is a yin/yang thing. You can't have one without the other. If there were no problems on earth, the people would still register no change in their happiness. All that would happen is that they would have, in general, smaller scale ups and downs. The only time you can get an overall change in the happiness-sadness coefficient is when some overall catastrophe or benefit comes along and that's only temporary. For instance, during WWII you can imagine that the nation was somewhat depressed and when it ended ... they would have been correspondingly elated ... for awhile.
  The general goal of the article seems to be nihilistic, i.e. we're no happier with all our technology (yada yada yada) and therefore we should all be pessimistic and just die. Kiss my ass, Mr. Pink (or is it Pinko?) ;o)

11/20/36 ---------------- Floor Tile
  Went to Lowe's today and got two pieces of floor tile (12" squares) to use on my desk as optical mouse pads. Unfortunately, I picked the shiny ones and even though they have a nice green marble pattern, my mouse skips. But it's still better than my desktop which is all black and the mouse can't detect changes in its appearance.
  I'll stick with the floor tile for a week or so and see if it scratches enough to be OK. I should have picked a more bland one. They were available but I didn't have sense enough to take them because I used this tile with one of their mice and it seemed to work really well. If it doesn't work out ... I'm out another 2 bucks ... 98 cents per tile. If I can get the right tile, they have adhesive on the back so I can just peel off the backing and stick 'em to the desk. This is just what I want.

11/11/36 ---------------- Halo II
  I picked up my copy Tuesday ... henceforth to be known as Halo Day ... (for my grandkids to play ... I suck though I like to "melee"). They get immersed in it. It's supposed to be a 20+ hour game but they will take at least 6 months to get to the end. I bought two books also ... one for each so they won't fight.
  Let's see that's $87.50 + 5 deposit = about 92 bucks for ... hmmmmmm 1000 hours of babysitting ... or ... about 9 cents per hour. I guess that's one of the best bargains in town, eh?
  I hope they will let my play this weekend. I saw the extra DVD that comes with the deluxe edition and it was very interesting. I'd have to agree with them that they have just about the best job on the planet ... provided that you truly enjoy video games.
  I spent about 15 minutes waiting in one of two lines at the local Game Stop. This had to be, financially speaking, the best day ever for video games.

10/12/36 ----------------Citibank Email Verification
  Got this in my Yahoo mailbox. Think I should do what it asks??

Date: Sat, 09 Oct 2004 21:38:17 +0000
From: "Citibank" Add to Address Book To:
Subject: Citibank email verification - ebtex@yahoo. com

Dear­ Citi­bank ­M­e­mb­er,
This email was sent by the Citibank server to verify your email address. You must complete this process by clicking on the link below and entering in the small window your Citibank ATM/Debit Card number and PIN that you use on ATM. This is done for your protection because some of our members no longer have access to their email addresses and we must verify it. To verify your email address and access your bank account, click on the link below:

09/18/36 ----------------Sky Captain
  Saw "Sky Captain - the World of Tomorrow" last night with the grandkids. They really enjoyed it. Kids who play shoot 'em up computer games will all like this movie. They said it was better than Spiderman and equal to I, Robot. Everything is computer graphics except the actors and a few close-up props. The stunts that the machines perform are completely impossible but are acceptable in such a fantasy setting ... the whole thing is impossible so just leave your intellect at home and pretend it's an adventure dream. They're just fun.
  For me it was reasonably entertaining like watching cartoons with them. If you are looking for a movie to take the kids to this is a good show for 6-13 year olds which adults won't be bored to death at. They said it was better than Shrek but I'd have to vote against that one. Of course, I don't play much computer games either.

09/13/36 ----------------The Passion
  Just got to see this movie, about the Jesus fable, on DVD last night. It was quite well made and revealed it's intended theme (how much physical suffering can one man take?) with clarity. Unfortunately, the depiction of pain is not the main reason people go to the movies. They really don't want to see this sort of thing.
  Perhaps you recall when the National Enquirer first started publishing some decades ago (and others like them). They had lots of front page grisly car accidents with bloody dead bodies hanging out of broken windows. They thought that this is what people want to see. They were wrong and soon changed their general motif to ... movie stars!! ... and other such tripe ... because ... people want to be "uplifted" in general ... not depressed. Depression kills sales. Ask any advertising exec.
  Depression didn't stop "The Passion" from doing well because the audience felt a moral obligation to go and "bear witness to the suffering of Jesus" to save their souls. After all, this is the way it "really was", eh? I found it depressing and felt a little sorry for the character but one could make a much more depressing picture (if this is what you really want to do). Put some little innocent kids in the movie and have them tortured to death in various ways after spending the first half of the movie establishing their happy innocence. It could be a true story as this sort of thing happens all too often in the world. But no one would want to see it.
  They just want to see Jesus suffer so they can see themselves as "good Christians". Acharya S is supposed to be publishing her new book soon. Christians should read what she has to say if they truly want to suffer ;o)
... like salt on a leach.

9/07/36 ---------------- Goodbye Roof
  Frances is done in Florida and Charlie ... next up Ivan? Whatever. There go the roofs again. When will these people take my advice and put a ocean type fish net over their house then throw three of four strong ropes over the top and lash down the whole shebang? Is this so hard to understand?
  Every mother's son bought plywood and carefully boarded up his windows. All the windows are "saved" ... unfortunately ... there is no roof left and all the furniture is in the next county ;o) How much does a fishing net cost? More than a house? Can't anyone get up on his roof and lash it down? Don't they understand the terminology ... "rig for foul weather"?
  In the long run, no homes should be built in hurricane zones that don't pass a wind tunnel test. How difficult would it be to build with a 140 mph worst case wind scenario in mind? Oh, right ... round corners cost too much. Better let your house go every 20 years or so. Hmmmmm ... wouldn't the property value of a house soar that withstood a bad hurricane which took out the rest of the neighborhood?
  In fact, I just sent a net manufacturer in BC this missive explaining what to do.

Date: Wed, 8 Sep 2004 01:50:17 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Cost to catch "shingles" ;o)

Do you think you could handle an order for about a million nets ... ones big enough to cover a house in Florida?

I'm just wondering what it would cost those idiots to batten down their roofs before the hurricane takes it off. You carry a net to the top of the roof ... lay it out ... roll it off both sides to the ground ... secure it to the foundation ... then ... throw 3 or 4 stout ropes over the top and secure the whole thing.

The net keeps the shingles on ... the ropes keep the roof on ... and it doesn't go sailing into your neighbor's house and your furniture is there when you get back.

This is the case every time there is a hurricane down there. 90% of the damage is from roofs peeled off then becoming airborn missiles. I've complained about it on my web site several times before ( and wonder ...

Do you think you could design something to save a house there ... at a reasonable cost? Something that an insurance company would say "If you have Hurricane Hugh's Roof Saver covering your house during a hurricane, your insurance premium will be x amount less". Presumably the savings would be an incentive to buy the thing and put it over the house when there is a clear danger. A hurricane is maybe the only natural disaster that you have ample time to prepare for.

You would need a demo job. Just clearly save one or two houses when all the neighborhood is gone ... and ... ka-ching ... 1,000,000 orders for the system.

You can do this anytime ... in fact any net manufacturer can. They have hurricanes literally lined up out in the Atlantic this time of year. You just have to take a small chance. It's just about sure to work ... if ... your nets can take it.

Look at it this way ... How much weight could you lift up with 3 or 4 ropes holding a net full of fish? If you laid all those fish on top of a roof during a hurricane, do you think it would hold down the roof? Damn straight it would. ;o)

9/02/36 ---------------- Lung Collapse
  I just read this on WalMart's home page (I use for an ISP ... because it's cheap). It seems that damaging your hearing is not all that loud music can do. There are reports of "lung collapse" in young people who get too many amps especially standing next to big speakers at concerts.
  The theory is that the lung starts to resonate at the frequency of the bass notes and it gets a tear inside which allows air to escape into the chest cavity. This causes extreme chest pains and a trip to hospital where they have to get the air out and do some fancy fixin'.
  I always thought that the word "What?" would replace the ubiquitous "Muthafucka" as the most often used word in the English language. Now, I see it's going to be "What? ... wheez, wheez ... ".

8/14/36 ---------------- Dr. Scholl's Reprieved
  I really needed something soft for my aching heel so, two days ago ... I took the Dr. Scholl's inserts (from the entry below) and just ... well ... screwed them into my shoe.
  That's right. I got a panhead screw ... 1/2 inch long with a very shallow head and screwed it through the gell insert and into the heel of my shoe from the inside. I put the screw in a little past my heel and to the side a bit so that I wouldn't feel it there. It worked excellently. I am pleased with myself. I got rid of about 60% of my problem. Most people wouldn't do that ... but ... you know ... I'm always willin' to screw around with things ;o)

07/28/36 ----------------Dr. Scholl's - Gellin' Sucks
  I bought a pair of Dr. Scholl's gel insoles the other day (just the heel section) because my foot hurts at work from walking too much and from poor circulation (comes with age). I've bought the Doctor's products before ... and ... I've never been satisfied with them once. But I keep getting sucked in because my foot hurts and there is no remedy available short of straightforward amputation (which is too expensive).
  The basic trouble with their inserts is that they won't stay put and ride up toward your toes in 10 minutes or less. But wait ... if it won't stay in the heel, use this handy piece of two sided tape and ... there ya' are!. So I put the tape on the insert as directed and then insert the thing in the shoe. It worked fine ... for about 20 minutes. The tape stuck to the shoe just fine. However, it wouldn't stick to the gel insert for which is was ostensibly designed ... as an hour of product research would have shown.
  Does the Doctor do product research? Hell yes. But that research is directed at finding out how many suckers they can get to buy an unworkable product, i.e. "market research".
  Dr. Scholl's is a semi-legitimate company like AmWay or Tupperware or Avon. No, they don't sell franchises. What they have in common with these others is an interest in pushing a useless or semi-useless product for cash money. A legitimate company serves a necessary need in civilization ... then ... gets money for it. Dr. Scholl's put the cart before the horse and just wants to inert their hand in your wallet using their product as a "wedge". They'll go out of business about the same time as "envelope stuffing".
  I bought some Dr. Scholl's work shoes once ... but ... their soles separated from the body of the shoe. I guess there's a business axiom in there somewhere ... hmmmmmmm.

07/24/36 ----------------Active Web Pages
  These things have a downside to them that bothers me (especially since I don't have broadband and never will as long as it costs 30 bucks a month). If you download such a page as Google's News, everytime you click on a link and then go back to the news page ... you have to re-download all those little gif or jpg images that accompany each story summary. A page with active content will not be fetched from your own machine even though those little pics are still on your hard drive. It goes back to the source to re-download the entire page in case there has been a change. This isn't bad for the text which comes back quick ... it's just the pics.
  Or, am I just imagining this and it's all in my machine. Maybe the history file is so clogged up it can't find the pics? Again, why can't I save on my hard drive every page I see when I surf so I can go look at them offline? Why must I buy a separate program to do what should be expected of any browser. IE sucks.

7/16/36 ----------------I, Robot
  Now, this is the best movie I've seen this summer. A little bit better than Spiderman ... and ... my grandkids didn't squirm at all because it had more of what they crave ... action. I didn't expect much due to the first reviews out on Yahoo but was pleasantly surprised. I was thoroughly entertained ... which is what I go to a movie for in the first place. I used to go to learn something, especially about human nature. My favorite film used to be "The Miracle Worker" with Ann Bancroft, Victor Jory and Patty Duke. But now, because I have nothing more to learn in this area, I seek only entertainment.
  "Robot" is visually stunning with lots of metallic blues and grey scale (cool). Isaac Asimov would have liked it immensely (he wasn't a very good fiction writer, but he tried. He wasn't able to project real heroes and villians and apparently had no knowledge of sex ;o). I can hardly recall anything about his Robot books. They left no lasting impression. His non-fiction works were, however, usually outstanding (from the perspective of a teenager).
  It's been a good summer for movies this year. I've seen five I think. I rate them in entertainment value like this:

  1. I, Robot
  2. Spiderman II and Shrek II (tied)
  3. Harry Potter III
  4. The Day After Tomorrow

All of them were worth going to the theater for. All were entertaining in different ways. I, Robot was the only one that elicited a little audience applause at the end. (Why do people do that anyway?) I don't think it will do as well as Spiderman or Shrek at the box office but it certainly deserves to. It has something that I believe people long to see depicted in film, i.e. a "normal" person. Sonny may be the most philosophically correct portrait of a normal human being yet screened ... albeit unintentional.

07/5/36 ----------------Spiderman
  Saw Spiderman with my grandkids a couple days ago. The movie was excellent though they started to fidget when there was too much talking for their taste, i.e. more than one minute. I think I'll go see it again.
  One thing still bothers me about Spidey ... how does he cling to a wall through his boots? I can accept that the little barbs that come out of his skin could go throught his gloves ... but ... not his G-damn boots! There is also an energy depletion thing here that could never quite be quantified ... and lastly ... just where does all that web gunk come from? Is there a reservoir? Is it manufactured on the fly (heh, heh)? It seems to me that if you dump out several gallons of any liquid from your body, you'd be in serious trouble. Hell, even joggers carry a bottle of water with them. Spidey should carry a picnic cooler on his back ... or ... a fire hose connector and take in a few gallons at every corner.

06/26/36 ----------------The Day After Tomorrow
  Just saw this flick last weekend. It was a standard TV type movie ... except for the special effects. I highly recommend this movie just for that. The sight of Los Angeles being destroyed by tornadoes was really a hoot. Loved it. I almost fell out of my chair laughing when the TV reporter gets wiped off the screen by the flying sign.
  Why the tidal wave into New York City didn't topple the Statue of Liberty is mystifying. As a responsible member of the "We're all gonna' die" crowd ... I would like to see the old lady go down for the count. Hell, other scifi pics have dumped on the Maiden ... why not this one? I'm disappointed. I suppose that the torch of freedom still being raised on high has a philosophical meaning we must respect? Come on ...

06/09/36 ---------------- Man as a Hunk of Meat
The death of Ronald Reagan reminds me of the way that our culture sees an individual human being as a simple chunk of meat. Mr. Reagan did not die the other day ... he died over a period of years. It was his body that died ... and maybe 2% of his mind or whatever was left. Why is the end of heartbeats considered the end of life, if, as we are told, man is more than "just a body"?

Why is it that no one ever got his body chopped off? Why does the distinction between life and death revolve about the body only? Is it because it is the most objective part of us? When my brother died, his death was listed as March 15th when, as everyone knew, his brain ceased to function on March 12. Hence, to me he died on the 12th. Since it doesn't matter all that much, I wouldn't put up much of a fuss. Still, the point is actually one of philosophical outlook and therefore should be contested or undesirable consequences can develop,

One of the consequences that comes to mind is abortion. Since man is just a hunk of meat, how big does the hunk have to be before it is human? Clearly, anti-abortionists will insist that even a single fertilized cell is a "human". And from their point of view ... it is. For they do not (at the deepest philosophical level) accept the mind as a seminal ingredient of humanity.

Some day, it will be possible to keep a person alive as just a head for extended time periods. We just need to hook up the necessary machines to provide food and oxygen and maybe some sort of computerized blower at the windpipe to facilitate talking ... and ... we have the world's first "coffee table human". Everyone will be appalled ... but someone who was willing ... would still be alive. Then you will see the ultimate assininity of of seeing an individual as "just a piece of meat".

They will demand that the "head" be put to death as an abomination. And the head will have to argue its his own case before the Supreme Court in order to stay alive.

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