Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Florida man allegedly attacked pregnant sister during fight over chicken nuggets

“I will punch you down,” Gordon barked at the woman before grabbing her neck and tossing her into a nightstand, the report said.
Kareem Gordon, 28, allegedly pounced his 25-year-old sister, who was four months pregnant, after he saw her eating the fast food treat inside their mother's Orlando home, according to a report. Gordon was booked on charges that include aggravated battery.
Apparently chicken Nuggets are tastier on Florida, if they're worth beating up your pregnant sister.

On the topic of men who should not be allowed anywhere near women, take the following steps to improve your Internet experience:

Use Notepad to open the following file on your computer:

Add the following lines to the bottom: www.returnofkings.com returnofkings.com

Save the changes

Florida man smuggles 13 bottles of liquor in sweat pants

On Thursday, November 14 around 8 a.m., security cameras captured the man (above, left; also, below left) wearing a gray t-shirt and sneakers as he walked out with possibly the chunkiest pair of black sweatpants in all of Fort Myers that hour
I don't think I've ever owned a pair of sweatpants that had the structural integrity for a heist, especially one of that magnitude. Whoever made those sweatpants might want to use this news item as part of their advertising to brag about how durable the clothing it.

Then again, such advertising might be seen as encouraging the use of the clothing as a aid to larceny, so it might not be such a great idea to use it in marketing materials.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Woman sues officer who repeatedly applied mace to her genitals

Woman sues officer who repeatedly applied mace to her genitals

I'm at a loss to understand the "logic" that lead a police office to repeatedly spray a caustic chemical onto a person's most sensitive parts. If his goal was to retrieve the plastic bag, then his course of action was downright idiotic. If you spray someone's genitals with mace, they're going to clamp their legs together and clench up, possibly drawing the alleged contraband further into their body.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Moroni Pasta

I recently stumbled across an old recipe for home made pasta that appealed to my sensibilities. It's called Moroni Pasta. You have to make it from scratch, because commercial sources are scarce to nonexistent. There are three variations on Moroni Pasta. The first is the simplest, boiling pasta in coffee. The next uses brewed coffee, and the third is made with instant coffee.

Bitter Moroni Pasta

This is the only version I've tried. I boiled three cheese tortellini in coffee, and served it with an Alfredo sauce. Unfortunately, boiling that much coffee results in a bitter and astringent meal. The Alfredo sauce could have been a bit sweeter to balance the bitterness of the coffee boiled tortellini.
  1. Purchase commercial pasta.
  2. Read the preparation directions and replace the recommended water with strong coffee, preferably made in a French Press.
  3. Cook the pasta according to the manufacture's directions.
The leftover coffee will be bitter and starchy. I'd be hard pressed to find a good use for it, but if you cooked the pasta without added oil, you could use it to make a coffee beer. The starch will settle out when the yeast flocculates and the bitterness can be balanced by reducing the bittering hops.

Brewed Moroni Pasta

A major advantage of adding the coffee to the pasta is the end result won't be as bitter as pasta cooked in coffee. The result is far more versatile and can pair with any number of sauces.

1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 egg
2 tablespoons brewed Espresso or Turkish coffee
  1. Sift the salt and flour into a medium sized bowl.
  2. In a second bowl, beat the egg and coffee
  3. Make a well in the flour/salt mixture and add the egg/coffee mixture.
  4. Mix together to form a stiff, smooth dough.
  5. Knead the dough for 5 minutes on a lightly floured surface. Add flour until the dough is no longer sticky.
  6. Use a pasta machine to roll the dough to the desired thickness.
  7. Cut to desired width.
The last two steps can be done by hand, but a pasta machine makes it easier.

Quick Moroni Pasta

It's critical that the instant espresso be completely dissolved in the egg before you combine it with the flour, or the resulting pasta will have bits of incompletely dissolved espresso powder. This will cause the pasta to break apart when cooked.

1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 egg
1 tablespoon instant espresso.
2 tablespoons of water.
  1. Sift the salt and flour into a medium sized bowl.
  2. In a second bowl, beat the egg and instant espresso.
  3. Make a well in the flour/salt mixture and add the egg/coffee mixture.
  4. Mix together to form a stiff, smooth dough. Add water as necessary.
  5. Knead the dough for 5 minutes on a lightly floured surface. Add flour until the dough is no longer sticky.
  6. Use a pasta machine to roll the dough to the desired thickness.
  7. Cut to desired width.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Server vs Server

Years ago I was the head tech at a small company. I was in charge of pretty much all of IT, except the things I talked the owner into hiring additional staff to take over. Legislation like CAN-SPAM and technology like ubiquitous server side spam filtering were off in the distant future, so dealing with SPAM had more of a wild west aspect than it does today.

One day I was looking into the performance issues we were having with the mail server. It was taking staff members ages to download and sort though their email over the assorted dial up connections used at the time. Naturally the bulk of the issues were spam and mailing list related. Server side mail filters that fell within the company owner's budget (free or stolen, not Open Source, that's Communist!) lacked the sophistication to address the problem effectively. I ended up configuring a complex web of routing rules to remove most the detritus. I sent unsubscribe requests to the non-work related mailing lists that seemed vaguely respectable. My goal was to stop as much of the incoming garbage as I could so I had less post-hock deletion and filtering to deal with.

One mailing list in particular was problematic. The content was overtly racist, but avoided the racial slurs that would have been caught by my manually configured rules. It also used a series of different domains to differentiate the content. Jew bashing jokes, for example, came from a different bank of URLs than the ones mocking Asians.  Since this set of related sites were responsible for most the garbage still bogging down the mail server I tracked down the originating site and found a phone number for "Joe." I quickly realized Joe was a one man operation. My request was simple and delivered politely, don't send any more mail to our domain. 

"I only send mail to a domain if someone subscribes and the form gives me permission to send a subscribe offer to anyone else on the domain."

I found this to be perplexing logic and replied, "Whoever is subscribing lacks the authority to give you that kind of permission."

"Not my problem," Joe said," Take it up with them."

"Who was the original subscriber?"

"Privacy laws. Get a warrant if you want to know."

"Then just remove my domain from-"

"Stop right there kid. It would take me WEEKS to scrub your domain from my mailing lists."

"Sounds like your mailing list management software was written by an idiot."

"I wrote it, and I don't need to scrub whole domains. Why does it bug you anyway? Are you one of THEM?"

I thought for a moment and said, "I'll just configure the mail server to send an "unsubscribe" request to anything from one of your domains."

"Good luck finding them all b****h."

I read off a list of domain names and ended with, "Did I miss any?"

There was silence for a few seconds. 

"Still there?" I asked. 

"You fu**ing hacked me."

"Nope. Just a little research. It took about an hour."

Joe hung up. 

I set up a rule to move any e-mail from the flagged domains to a dummy address I set up, then delete the message in the original mailbox. I then wrote a PERL script to check the mailbox, extract the "unsubscribe" address and send an "unsubscribe" request for the address the message was originally sent to.

Since it was now about 5:30 on a Friday I went home for the weekend and left my new system running.

When I got back on Monday the sales guys, some of who came in early to get started on correspondence, complimented me on how quickly they could get their e-mail. A few hours later the company owner, I'll call him "Dan," came in and said "I just got a call from a guy saying you hacked his server."

It took about two hours to sort out what was going on. The racist mailing list sent an email asking for confirmation in response to every unsubscribe request. My script responded to this with another unsubscribe request. This meant a single e-mail generated an endless series of back and fourth messages.
"You Sure?"

"You Sure?"

"You Sure?"

"You Sure?"

Since the racist mailing list sent us hundreds of individual e-mails a day this resulted in a LOT of e-mail. The large glut of traffic was not noticed at our end because the individual staff members were able to download their largely SPAM free e-mail quickly and easily, with the dial-up bottleneck masking any server side issues. The only connection that was bogged down was the one used by the spare computer I'd set up to send the unsubscribe requests. The mailing list server however was not faring as well. My script didn't rout e-mail through our server, but instead connected directly to the mail server processing the "unsubscribe" requests. I'd done this to reduce the load on our own mail server.

It took another hour to convey all of this to Dan in a way he could understand. He then asked what was so horrible about the mailing lists anyway.

"Well, the messages are huge. Between downloading and having to delete them they waste a lot of staff time. Then there's the content."

Dan was an Irish American. He proudly donated to the IRA to 'Defend Ireland.'" The racist mailing list included four different domains used to send jokes bashing the Irish. A lot of Polish and Scottish jokes were re-purposed for the mailing list. Then there were the images included in the mailing list, many of which depicted Irish men as flaming homosexuals with a keen interest in sheep. Dan was VERY homophobic.
"He's kinder to the Irish than he is to African Americans. This is nothing compared to how he treats the Jews though."
We got Joe on the speakerphone. Joe and Dan spent about ten minutes yelling at each other. Joe accused Dan of being a Jew shill, and Dan accused Joe of racism. Dan conveyed a muddled, but essentially accurate, explanation of what was happening at a technical level and ended with, "So go ahead and call the feds and say we're hacking you, but you and I both know you'd be lying, and the feds will figure that out."

"Stop sending me mail!" Joe screamed.
"You first," I said. "Stop ignoring our unsubscribe requests and this will stop on its own."

I heard furious typing and Joe said, "I'm blacklisting your entire f**ing domain now."

"But you said that would take weeks."

The typing was now punctuated with a string of repeated obscenities and mangled "you mamma" insults. After a few seconds he hung up.

I walked over to the PC running my PERL script. I stopped the script and emptied the dummy account's message backlog. Messages were still coming in, but after about an hour they started tapering off, finally stopping by 2:00 pm.

At 4:30, the Comptroller stormed in and demanded to know why her joke mailing lists weren't coming in anymore.

"You should discuss this with Dan," I told her, "He was part of the decision."

"Oh, I WILL," she said, her voice dripping with venom. She then stormed off in a huff. Normally when the comptroller threatened me, there was a subsequent meeting with Dan, or even an all hands meeting where I had to do things like justify the use of passwords on network logins against accusations of it being a "paranoid" practice. Strangely enough, I never heard of this particular issue again.

Thursday, September 5, 2013


Yesterday I took my five year old son school shopping. One errand had us at Whole Foods. He wanted to ride on my shoulders and I obliged him for a few minutes. He started humming a tune. I asked him what it was and he called out, "Guess!"

I listened for a few moments and said "Barrett's Privateers?"

He replied by singing, very loudly, "I'm a broken man on a hall-e-fax pier! The last of Barrett's privateers!"

A woman walking towards us in the ice cream aisle stopped and stared, her face frozen in horror. She said, "Oh my God." I felt her reaction was a bit over the top.

My son continued, "Fire no shots, shed no tears, last of Barrett's Privateers!" He drew out the last "e" for a few seconds.

We passed the woman who was frozen in horror. I smiled and nodded. She gasped and scurried away. I joined my son in singing the chorus a couple of times.
God damn them all!
I was told we'd cruise the seas for American gold
We'd fire no guns-shed no tears
Now I'm a broken man on a Halifax pier
The last of Barrett's Privateers.
My son puts a surprising amount of emotion into "God damn them all!" for someone who does not yet understand what the phrase means.

As we turned the corner I noticed a man behind us who was glaring at me. He mouthed something he clearly meant me to understand but I didn't parse it. Feeling a bit mischievous I cocked my ear towards him and said "Que?"

He snorted and walked past us, casting me one last disgusted look as he did so.

A few minutes later the impromptu concert ended as we began the negotiations for selecting a new lunch box.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Miley Cyrus

Having seen the Miley Cyrus video, I would like to explain why I found it offensive.

She was dancing like she was drunk. Her "thrusts" were ragged and all over the place. That's fine and dandy for a party at a friend's house, but if you're going to bump and grind on TV, rehearse the act a bit first for crying out loud. The lolling tongue made her look like the image of the badly stuffed lion that surfaces every now and then. It wasn't playful, goofy, sexy or seductive. It was just awkward.

The overall performance made her look like a delinquent 11 year old trying to parody a mentally challenged stripper. Given how Hollywood mucks up the physiological development of child stars, this may be closer to reality than any of us would prefer.

If I were in a position to advise Miley Cyrus, I'd say this, "Honey, PLEASE, do the vamp thing with a bit more commitment. Lil Kim , Madonna and Lady GaGa are good examples. Even though you borrowed Gwen Stefani's hair, I think she may have gone more "sultry" than is appropriate for your new act.

But please, when you go on stage to amp up the sex appeal, have some self respect while doing it. Put some art into the craft. Don't phone in a teenage booty bounce and call it a day.

To Thicke and his song "Blurred Lines," please, no more musical love letters to date rape, OK? Partnering with Cyrus was a wise move on your part, because her dancing distracted people from the rape endorsing nature of your song, but while her act just needs some rehearsal and polish, yours needs to be drug out into the street and shot.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Rotolight Utter Shite

I have no personal experience with Rotolight's products, but their recent behavior has convinced me, and this is just my opinion, that the company is run by feckless fools suffering from terminal cranial-rectal inversion. Popehat covers the details in the article Rotolight Tries To Unring The Censorious Bell. In short, Rotolight filed a fraudulent DMCA complaint, falsely asserting copyright over content that wasn't theirs, in order to silence an obscure negative review of one of their products. By filing a DMCA compliant that asserted copyright they did not have, they committed perjury to illegally silence a critic. They have gone on to compound their error with an evasive non-apoplogy that is little more than a steaming pile of marketing with a side of blame deflection.

The great tragedy of the exchange is that Rotolight turned what could have become a customer service success story into a PR disaster. The rank incompetence of how Rotolight handled this incident is breathtaking. A competitor engaging in industrial sabotage would have been hard pressed to do a better job of destroying their reputation than Rotolight has done themselves.

The key issue is that the flaw being discussed in the negative review was one that Rotolight CLAIMS to have corrected in future versions of the product. They cared enough about the negative review to commit perjury to silence it. Why didn't they care enough to, for example, exchange the older, flawed product for an upgraded one, so the reviewer could repeat the test with the new kit? They could have used the negative review, even engaged with the reviewer, to turn this into a marketing opportunity to highlight advances in their hardware.

Unless, of course, the claim that newer versions of the hardware lack this flaw is another lie. They showed they're willing to lie on a legal document, a DMCA complaint, to commit perjury. Why should their marketing claims be trusted about the flaws allegedly corrected in their products? We know they used legal thuggery to censor one bad review. How many other bad reviews were scuttled by the abuse of the legal system? For all we know half the people who've used the products could consider them utter shite, and we don't know about it because of an active, and abusive, legal strategy by censorship happy scumbags.

This also brings into doubt the positive reviews that can be found online. A company that lies to silence their critics is, in general, not going to be above lying to make their products look better than they really are.

Unless you already have personal experience with Rotolight and like their products, it would be wise to avoid them in the future. There's no way of knowing how good their products really are. Just don't talk about what you think of their hardware. Thanks to Rotolight, your sincerity and objectivity will be in question if you say anything nice about their products.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The 'Too Stupid for my Job' Defense

The Derp is strong with this one. 

East Baton Rouge Sheriff Sid J. Gautreaux has spend two years running an illegal sting operation based on a state law that had been declared unconstitutional in 2003. Now he's claiming he had no idea a law he was trying to enforce was invalid despite the DA refusing to press charges on any of the cases for the entire two years of the sting's run.

It would appear Sheriff Sid J. Gautreaux is too stupid to have his current job.

"Sheriff Sid J. Gautreaux told the newspaper that it didn't matter the Supreme Court ruled anti-sodomy laws unconstitutional a decade ago, it's still on the books in Louisiana, so they were still arresting men for it."

I'd suggest he be demoted to a janitorial role, but frankly, I don't think he's intelligent enough to be trusted with chemicals as dangerous as those used by the average custodial engineer. Has "Dirty Jobs" covered anything that can be done by someone as stupid as Sheriff Sid J. Gautreaux? I can't think of any, but I've only seen a couple seasons of the program. Hard work tends to require competence, a character trait clearly lacking in Sheriff Gautreaux.

I'm going to take Special Needs Sheriff Sid J. Gautreaux at his word on this, and assume he's telling the truth, that his comprehension of the legal system is too shoddy for him to work in law enforcement. The alternative to him being a mind numbingly ignorant embarrassment to the human race, would be that he was intentionally running an illegal sting to harass homosexual men in the area. He claims he's just stupid, and not deliberately abusing his power to harass people who make him "feel funny down there."

Monday, July 22, 2013

Caleb Learns About Homeopathy

The following makes more sense if you know what Homeopathy is. The excellent article Darryl Cunningham Investigates: Homeopathy covers the basics in a succinct, comic book format.

This past weekend I had a conversation with my son about quackery. He's 5 and we were buying him more allergy medication. He wanted the package with the colorful cartoon characters on it. They were homeopathic preparations. I started talking to him about what that meant, and at one point he said, "Oh! Fake medicine, like my cheetah is fake!" He was referring to one of his stuffed animals.

I replied with "Kinda, only no one is trying to trick people into thinking your cheetah is real."

I ended up explaining what the "8x" on one package and the "20c" meant on another, and just how dilute that made the original ingredient. It was easy for him to grasp as one of his science kits has a water dropper which he uses to move around small quantities of things. We ended up miming taking one drop of red food coloring and moving it through 8 levels of dilution. When we got to the end he said "But Daddy, there won't be any red LEFT!"

"I think you understand," I said.

In the end he picked the cherry flavored Benadryl. Unfortunately this has reminded him that he does not like the cherry flavor. We've agreed that when this bottle is empty we'll go back to bubble-gum flavor.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

My Son vs the Jerk

A couple weekends ago, my son Caleb and I were in the grocery store, waiting our turn at the deli counter. I had put my five year old son in one of the carts with a built-in infant seat. I'd done this because he was sound asleep, having exhausted himself at a park before our shopping trip. He continued to nap peacefully throughout the wait. I was checking things off the shopping list on my cell phone. While the counter was decently staffed, things were moving slowly because one woman in her 60's was giving one deli employee a VERY hard time, having him slice and re-slice everything multiple items.

Caleb in the Cart

Finally it was out turn. While my order was being sliced a woman in her 40's came up to the woman in her 60's.

"How is it you're STILL at the deli counter?" the woman in her 40's asked.

"They're incompetent," the older woman said, "Here's your meat." She tossed a few packages of meat and cheese into the younger woman's cart.

The younger woman picked up the packages, looked at them and said, "This isn't what I wanted. I need-"

"That's what you're getting. Your taste is crap. This is better."

The younger woman lowered her head and said nothing. It was pretty clear from her body language that she was used to deferring to the older woman. they looked alike enough that I suspected they were mother and daughter.

By this point, my salami and pastrami were done. I tried to leave the deli counter, but the two women and their carts were blocking me in. I politely said, "Excuse me," as I tried to maneuver between them.

The older woman shot me and angry look and nearly screamed, "WHAT is your rush? IT," she poked my son hard in the chest, "is still asleep."

Before I could respond Caleb looked sleepily up at the woman and said, "If you're mean, you won't have any friends." He then closed his eyes and went back to sleep.

The older woman was apoplectic. She raised her arm as if to hit Caleb. I thrust out my arm, shielding my son and growled at her, "If you touch my son again I'm having you arrested for assault." I showed her my cell phone, on which I had already dialed "9-1-1." I had not yet hit the "Call" button.

She glared at me for a moment, her arm jerking as if she were fighting the urge to hit me. She then lowered her arm and, still shooting me a look fit to kill, backed up her cart to make way for us to leave. As she did so I noticed the younger woman was beaming with delight, but she turned away the moment the older woman looked at her.

As we left I heard the older woman muttering, insulting my manhood for "threatening to arrest an old lady." I found myself wondering if she'd have thought better of my manhood if I'd responded to her the way she'd tried to respond to my son.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Rainbows are Gay Now

A recent online exchange reminded me of a former coworker from a job long ago. She was in her 60's. She was the single most anti-Semitic, racist, homophobic person I'd met since college. She ran an "investment" newsletter for some of her equally atrocious friends. One day she asked me for a clipart CD so she could "pretty up" the newsletter. She was, of course, doing this on company time. She ended up sending out a newsletter full of rainbows and unicorns. A few hours later she started getting angry calls from her friends about the "faggy" newsletter. She confronted me and accused me of sabotaging her by not warning her that "rainbows were gay now." (Did I mention she was paranoid too?)

"Rainbows have been a gay pride symbol for ages."

"Since WHEN?"

"Since you were in high school."

"How was I supposed to know?"

"Watching the news?"

She laughed and said, "I'd rather be drinking."

I considered that statement a nice summary of her life, personality and understanding of the world around her.

After that she declared me the "f*g sh** expert" for knowing that rainbows were used as a gay pride symbol. On the rare occasions when a news story involving homosexuals came to her attention, she would go around the office telling people to ask me about it as I "probably knew the degenerates involved."

I sometimes forget just how many truly horrible people I've worked with over the last 20 years.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

This is why punching parking officers is a bad idea

Last week I saw something that amused me.

An officer in Harvard Square was writing a parking ticket for a badly parked SUV. A man ran up and started screaming at the officer. The officer calmly looked up and went to put the ticket on the SUV. The man took a swing at the officer. The officer dodged it easily, and the man punched the side of his own SUV. The man crumpled to the ground, clutching his hand and yelling some more.

The officer calmly walked around the prone man, put the ticket on the car and walked away as if nothing noteworthy had happened. If I'd had a camera and taken  a picture I'd be torn on if the better caption was "Like a Boss" or "I Ain't Even Mad."

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Who is REALLY Behind One Million Moms?

I normally try to debunk conspiracy theories, but I'm starting to think "One Million Moms" is in fact an advertising organization created to promote TV and movies that rely upon "shocking" plot lines stolen from the circular file of the average soap opera.

Anyone else remember the "The Book of Daniel" TV show? No? There's a reason for that. It was poorly written and poorly acted. It was crap. OMM PROLONGED it's existence by creating artificial interest in a crappy TV show with their protest.

Since OMM is attacking "The Mistresses" then my bet is "The Mistresses" is crap and the artificial controversy created by OMM will be the main reason it manages to air for a full season.

Monday, May 20, 2013

That Can't be Good for the Paint job

This Monday morning was annoying. I was running late, my son was arguing with me, and I realized I needed to hit an ATM to pay for parking. I decided my best bet was to use an ATM in the city center before taking my son to school. I parked near a church and started crossing a couple of streets, my son riding on my shoulders. The intersections in the city center are a bit messy, but perfectly safe if you wait for the lights. People tend to pay more attention because of the heavy pedestrian traffic due to the nearby high school.

During my short walk I saw an African-American woman crossing a different branch off the central rotary a few yards away. She had the right of way, and was obeying the traffic signals. I was noticing her hair, a intricate web of braids piled high. Despite the altitude of the hairdo, it meshed perfectly with the smart business suit she was wearing. I'd turned away and resumed my walk to the ATM when I heard the screech of tires and a blaring horn. I looked back and saw a cream colored BMW stopped inches from the woman. The driver had apparently tried to run the light despite their being pedestrians in the crosswalk. He leaned out his open window, threw a lit cigarette in her direction and screamed "What the F**k are you doing ni**er?"

Her response was to stop in the street, blocking the driver's progress. She turned and looked him in the eyes. She then silently pointed to the very well marked crosswalk she was in, and then to the "walk" signal she was clearly obeying. She stood there for a moment and then finished crossing the street. The BMW driver proceeded to run the red light.

My son and I reached the ATM, got some cash for parking and went back to our car. While driving I saw the exact same woman on the far side of the four lane street, starting to cross. She had one of those massive fruity beverage Starbucks sells during the Summer. As I slowed and stopped to let her cross in front of me I reflected on the fact that the drink looked as big as her upper arm, and I wondered how she'd manage to drink it all.

I glanced in my rear view mirror and noticed there was no one behind me. The woman made eye contact with me as she reached the median and I waved her on. She smiled and started jogging across. She was almost over the line into my lane when I heard an engine roar and saw a blur of motion to my left. A black BMW was pulling around me at high speed. He peeled towards the woman and she had to run to avoid being hit. She threw her sugar bomb beverage into the air and it landed on the BMW's windshield. The BMW screeched to a halt and I could see the wipers starting to smear the beverage.

The woman didn't stop running until she was across the street. She looked back, threw up her hands in a "I'm done with this" gesture and moved on, shaking her head, laughing and looking back at the BMW that was still stopped and covered with the beverage. As I inched past I noticed the BMW's driver was on the cell phone, yelling, and flipping the bird at his nearly opaque windshield. I noticed that a lot of the drink was on his roof as well, and I reflected that it was quite a shame he wasn't driving a convertible with the top down.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

GTA: Vice City dies on Samsung Galaxy S2 (SGH-T989)

I recently bought Grand Theft Auto:Vice City for Android and installed it on my Samsung Galaxy S2 (SGH-T989) running Samsung's release of Android 4.1.2.

The game hangs as soon as I try to drive a vehicle. It will resume after a few seconds, but the end result is two to three seconds of drive time between 30 and 50 second freezes. Adjusting the video options fails to change this behavior. Rock Star has a thread about this bug on their support site that admits this is a known problem with several phones, including the T989. Frankly, I consider it false advertising to claim the Galaxy S2 is supported when it clearly is not.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

You GO Girl!

The other day I was walking through Harvard Square. It was lovely. The sun was out, it was warm, Spring was here. The woman ahead of me was a Rubenesque beauty with dark, curly, hair, a short skirt and, inexplicably, cheap flip-flop sandals. I was thoroughly enjoying the view, but was distracted by how obviously uncomfortable she was in the flip-flops and how they contrasted sharply with the rest of an otherwise elegant ensemble. I began to overhear snippets of her conversation.  I realized as she spoke that she was in the process of being dumped over the phone. She was on the verge of tears.

"I know I'm fat," she said, in a tone I suspect she meant to be confident, but came across as pleading and apologetic.

"Yes you are!" said a man who, like me, had happened to be nearby. "And you are fucking FABULOUS!" He spoke with a flamboyance that would have made Nathan Lane's character from "The Birdcage" suggest he tone it down. "And Honey," he said, leaning towards her conspiratorially, "You have the legs for heels, you should wear them." He then flounced off with an exaggerated swish that convinced me he was deliberately hamming it up.

The woman watched for a moment as the man left, still holding her phone. She then looked down and seemed momentarily surprised at what she was holding in her hand. She raised the phone to her mouth and said, in a firm, commanding tone devoid of all doubt, pretense or apology, "Fuck. You." She smiled, hung up the phone, straightened her shoulders and marched down the stairs to the "T". I stopped for a moment to watch her go. I wanted to tell her that the man had been right, but I couldn't think of a way to say so that didn't sound like I was hitting on her. The visible confidence in her stride however, informed me that she didn't need the oracle's words reaffirmed. She knew he was right.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Dear Box.com

Dear Box.com,

When your Mac Sync software ONLY supports 64 bit Macs, then kindly SAY SO on the download page. Claiming to support Mac OS 10.6 and above is disingenuous at best when you ONLY support 10.6 and above on 64 bit Intel Macs.

Furthermore, making me go though multiple replies with your support staff to reveal this information to me is profoundly stupid, when it is a known issue that has been discussed by your customers on your support forums. I'm glad I researched the issue myself so I could bypass some of the back and fourth your support staff was trying to make me go through.

You know this is a limitation, you made a decision to not support 32 bit Macs and yet you make it obtuse and annoying to get this information. Every OTHER vendor whose software I've used specifically states when it only runs on 64 bit architectures, BEFORE you download it and try to install it. I can't run the latest version of Handbrake on my Mac, but their site tells me as much so I know not to bother downloading it.


A future Dropbox.com customer.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Alwaysinfashion.com threatens to sue an unsatisfied customer

Alwaysinfashion.com is one of many retailers selling trinkets online. If a recent e-mail exchange is representative however, Alwaysinfashion.com may be using legal threats to keep bad reviews from being posted. Needing to use legal threats to keep people from saying bad things about your company suggests some serious issues with the quality of both the merchandize and the customer service.

I see a few takeaway lessons from the above article.

1. If you order from Alwaysinfashion.com's California operation, you have to pay to ship the merchandise to Italy to get a refund.

2. Telling Alwaysinfashion.com you intend to blog about this return policy has, at least for one customer, resulted in threats of legal action.

3. Alwaysinfashion.com appears willing to contact your employer about reviews of bead necklaces. Seriously, read the article.

Mrs. Rapunzel You can be sure that We will leave reviews and post on social networks about your blackmail and threatens and We surely inform about this matter all the companies You work for in Oklahoma
I don't know about you, but I'd think twice about doing business with a company that would call your boss if you said you didn't like their product or service.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Honey, it's not all about you

Last week I was walking on the sidewalk in Harvard Square. My wife called me on the my cell phone and I answered it, saying "Hello Love."

Just as I did this another woman cut me off on the sidewalk then turned and glared at me. She said, in a very disgusted tone "Did you just call me 'Love'?"

I raised an eyebrow at her, held out my phone and pointed at it. I then resumed talking to my wife.

The woman rolled her eyes, said "F**k you" and crossed the street without looking.

Friday, March 8, 2013

The Amazon MP3 Player is garbage

Dear Amazon,

When I tell an application I don't want it to automatically download my purchases, and I ONLY want it to download over Wi-Fi, I do NOT want to find my phone's internal memory has suddenly run out of space because your POS application has decided to download a Handle box set using my 3G data plan.

I'm uninstalling the Amazon MP3 player, posting a negative review that outlines my issues, and logging my complaints on your customer service site.

And the part you'll actually care about? I'm not buying anything from the Amazon MP3 store. Hell, I'm not even going to buy CDs from you unless they are flat out not available at all through other retailers.


A disgruntled and unsatisfied customer

Thursday, March 7, 2013

What does the Global Wildlife center have to say?

There's a new chapter in the saga of Ken Matherne's latest exchanges. He's sent a few letters to techdirt. Ken Matherne Tells Techdirt That Law is Law, Consequences Will Never Be The Same Eager to get more details on this exchange, I contacted the Global Wildlife Center through it's "Contact Us" form. Subject: Ken Matherne correspondence.
I'm writing an article about Ken Matherne's recent correspondence with the Popehat and Techdirt web sites. Since your organization is referenced extensively by all parties involved in the exchange, I wanted to find out if the Global Wildlife Center has an official stance on the exchange. Does Mr. Matherne have legal authority to speak on behalf of GWC on legal matters? Will GWC resources be used to pursue the legal actions alluded to by Mr. Matherne? What is Mr. Matherne's current position with the GWC? Sincerely, Matthew Miller
I'm looking forward to a reply, but I'm not holding my breath.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Should I Apply for the Job?



So far, so good.
Seeking a professional screenwriter willing to collaborate on a WWII period thriller feature film script with an up and coming foreign director.
A WWII thriller? That sounds kinda fun. I'm a big fan of Old Time Radio and something of a history buff. It's been AGES since I read "rise and Fall of the Third Reich" so it would be grand to have an excuse to re-read it or listen to the audio book.
Must be non-WGA or if you are in the WGA, be willing to work for less than the WGA minimum.
Well, that's a bit worrisome. Still, it might be attractive as a second job. I'm not a union member.
Qualifications for consideration are as follows:
* Grabs pen and paper to take notes *
Must have BA/BS from a top 3 University or Liberal Arts College- for example Harvard, Princeton, Yale, or Williams, Swarthmore, Pomona
Close enough. I have a BA in English from Valpariso University, the Yale of the Midwest. (Or the Harvard of the Midwest, depending on who is doing the VU marketing at the moment)
Must also have completed graduate work at one of the nations top screenwriting programs- USC, UCLA, AFI, NYU, COLUMBIA
Since this is a job for below union scale, I'm going to write this off as one of those "nice to have" requirements they can be flexible on.
Must have read McKee's "Story," All books in the "Save the Cat" series, Voeglers "Writers Journey" or Campbells "Hero with a Thousand Faces," and preferably at least a dozen other books on screenwriting,
I've read the last two and my college minor was in writing. Really though, a dozen books on screenwriting? One or two good ones will get you where you need to be.
also prefer someone who has attended as many screenwriting seminars as possible- for instance the "Story" seminar and the 5 genre scminars McKee offers (Comedy, Horror, Thriller, Masterpiece, Love Story).
Reading between the lines of this ad however has me suspecting the director is looking for someone with too much book learning and not much real world experience. It sounds like they're searching for a fresh faced student too inexperienced to know when they're being exploited.
Must have read and analyzed 300+ high quality produced/award winning/or "black listed" scripts
This is another "training level" indicator.  A serious student who dedicates years to their craft may have done this. Between the education level required and the low pay, I suspect the director is deliberately seeking someone with a major "sunk cost" issue, a sap who has dedicated a decade of their life to learning how to be a screenwriter but never gotten a break. Too deep into the dream to turn around, too desperate to hold out for something better.
Must have reverse-outlined at least 50 movies by watching them on screen and listing scenes chronologically
This is another education / training level indicator.

Must have proof of standardized test scores (SAT/LSAT/GMAT/GRE) in the 95th percentile or higher.
Must have proof of I.Q. in the 130+ range.
Ahhh, the director wants desperate, but not stupid. If this isn't a parody, then I suspect the director is expecting people to lie anyway, and wants the "Well, My IQ is only 120" folks to apply, instead of ones with an IQ of 80.

Must have at least one produced feature credit that has won at least a few superlative awards on the festival circuit (audience award/best film/best screenplay/etc).
For less than union wage?
Must also have at least one unproduced feature screenplay that has attracted significant buzz and led to A-list actors attaching themselves to the project.
For less than union wage?!?
If you don't have either of the above, this requirement can substituted with a minimum of 3 produced short film credits.
Ahhh, the old Hitchcock trick. Hitchcock would get what he wanted into his movies by sending over the top scenes to the censors. By the time the censors were done being horrified by what he claimed he wanted, they were more than happy to let in what he really wanted.

Must be very analytical, knowledgeable, and generally gifted with structure.
Must be able to write visually with fantastic economy and a distinct voice.
Must have an amazing ear for dialogue and inherent understanding of pacing.
Must have an excellent grasp of grammar/mechanics/usage/style.
That would be me.

(Blogger smiles a toothy grin. His teeth visibly sparkle and an audible "ting" is heard)
Must have at least a few years of previous dramatic acting experience to better understand subtext and emotional arcs- prefer someone with experience taking on a major role in a serious WWII/Nazi play, for instance Martin Sherman's "Bent" (about homosexual persecution during the holocaust)
I'm going to count my college and high school acting for this.
Must have previous theater directing experience in order to be prepared to discuss specific blocking ideas with proficiency as we write the script.
It was back in high school, and the play was censored by the school board.
The script will be written for a single location- so again having experience with a play like "Bent" would let me know you understand how to make blocking interesting in confined locations- since the whole second act takes place in one location with 2 characters moving rocks back and forth across the stage.
 The banned play also took place in a single location. It's a lot of fun playing with a confined space.
Also prefer improv/sketch/standup experience to demonstrate you have developed an intuitive understanding of how material will play in front of a live audience.
My experience in this realm is not professional, but amateur.

Although you should be a highly capable solo wrier- you must have experience writing successfully on other projects with directors or other writers who prefer to mostly talk out their vision and bounce ideas off of you, while you sit in front of the computer to sift, organize, and smooth out the verbal exchanges- while also adding and enhancing their ideas with your own insight, and ultimately be responsible for polishing and proofing the screenplay before we send it out.
Sounds like a lot of  the technical and specification writing I've done.
Must be willing be credited as the second writer- potentially out of alphabetical order.
Perfectly reasonable under the circumstances.
Must be able to remain calm in the face of temperamental outbursts and be ok with occasional substance abuse by writing partner.
Again, that sounds like some of the technical and specification writing I've done. Of course, the writing partner must be comfortable with me laughing in his or her face or bellowing out "foam baby foam!" when they work up a good head of steam. I also reserve the right to quote Mark Twain passages about steamboat disasters and, if they get annoying about being high, teetotaler propaganda.
Location: Hollywood
It's the 21st century and I have a Skype account. This is still doable.
Compensation: $30,000 for 4 month contract with possibility to be considered for more projects
I'd have to do this as an evening and weekend gig, so we'll say this is for 20 to 30 hours a week. Assuming a 16 week contract, that comes out to 320 to 480 hours / $93.75 to $62.50 an hour. I can make more than that per hour with a technical writing or ghost writing gig, but this project sounds interesting, and could play well to a number of my existing interests.
Telecommuting is ok.
Excellent. I think the time difference between Boston and LA will work nicely for the co-writer. The evening work for me will translate into late afternoon / early evening work for them. If the writing partner is using mind altering substances, then being able to sleep in will be a benefit to them as well.
  • This is a contract job.
  • OK to highlight this job opening for persons with disabilities
  • OK for recruiters to contact this job poster.
  • Phone calls about this job are ok.
  • Please do not contact job poster about other services, products or commercial interests.
The last few lines are just boilerplate ad material.

All told, the ad does have a lot of over the top "I really want" requirements, but I'm used to that from the IT world. Everyone wants to hire the next Gates, Torvalds or Wozniak for a fraction of their value.  I'm willing to give the director a chance to talk about his or her project before I reject the opening out of hand. Most importantly, I want to make sure the impression that the director is seeking an easily abused footstool is a false one.