Archive for April, 2011

If there was ever a cautionary tale for the need for taking network security seriously…

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… it’s Sony.

Picture yourself as the head of a company.  Now picture yourself facing a class-action lawsuit.  A suit with the potential for 77 million plaintiffs.

Kristopher Johns of Birmingham, Ala., Wednesday filed a lawsuit against Sony in federal court in San Francisco, alleging negligent data security practices, privacy violations and breach of warranty.

The lawsuit, which seeks to represent all subscribers to Sony’s PlayStation Network and Qriocity service, also accuses Sony of not informing consumers quickly enough about the exposure of their personal account information and credit card data due to the breach.

In his complaint, Johns accused Sony of violating the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard by failing to implement a proper firewall and to encrypt card holder data. Sony also violated the standard by retaining card holder data, the lawsuit charged.

Sony disclosed the breach more than six days after it had abruptly shut down PSN.

That book will probably sell a gazillion copies after all.

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From the Washington Post:

The dispassionate observer might think that Wednesday’s production of the birth certificate could not fail to bury forever the carefully manufactured controversy of the president’s origin. The facts are now as official as facts can possibly get: Barack Hussein Obama II was born at 7:24 p.m. on Aug. 4, 1961, on the island of Oahu in the state of Hawaii.

But it is the nature of a conspiracy theory that all information must pass through a very discerning, yet simple, filter. Information that is confirmational is accepted; that which is contradictory is rejected.

I learned an adage in my youth that has proven invaluable as I went into adulthood.  It’s the best kind of one of those colorful, folks-y kind of adages… simple enough to memorize easily, and so chock full of that great combination of poignancy, humor, and common sense that you never forget it.  The best part of the adage was that it dealt with critical thinking and the power of an individual mind to come to its own conclusion through the use of the uncorrupted power of logic.  Here it is:

If a million people do a stupid thing, it’s still a stupid thing.

Nowhere is this more apropos than the birther movement.  I think if they were provided with the home movie of Mrs. Obama lying in the stirrups with little Barack’s head crowning, they would determine that it was faked, just like the moon landing, and then demand that Neil Armstrong admit that it was all filmed at a sound stage at Area 51, right next to the hangar where the alien space ship is stored.  What really fascinates me about these people is that not that they are doing something stupid.  Lord knows I’ve made stupid mistakes in my life.  Plenty of them.  However, when presented with seemingly incontravertable proof, iron-clad opposing arguments, or even when you look back on your previous actions, you eventually come to the conclusion of “Wow.  I was a real idiot there wasn’t I?  I mean what the hell was I thinking?”  Birthers are so trapped in their own self-delusion that I doubt they will ever reach that point.

I think I just found out why President Obama released his long-form birth certificate.

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I’m thinking the chances of a best-seller are dwindling.  I’m also thinking that Harvard will soon be re-evaluating it’s Ph.D process.

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You know your tablet sucks when the review of it starts out like this…

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This week, RIM began shipping the 7-inch tablet. After spending a couple days with the final product, it’s clear that the PlayBook is a useless device whose development is unfinished.


How not to handle a serious problem with your already lackluster tablet.

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Users report BlackBerry PlayBooks failing to restart from

The initial reports began on the evening of April 20, one day after the PlayBook was released, though most users reported the problem after a few days of use.

As of 5p PT on April 25, RIM’s support staff has not yet responded to the users on the support forum, and several users who called RIM said the support staff had no solution. RIM also did not respond to InfoWorld’s inquiry.

Not good.  The worst low-level helpdesk drone knows you don’t wait five days to get back to your now pissed-off users.  A simple “We don’t have a solution yet, but it’s a high-priority issue and we’re working on it round the clock,” would have bought them some extra time to try to figure out why RIM’s supposedly hot-rod tablet PCs are turning into very expensive coasters.

Let’s see what’s going on as of April 26th

I had this issue and found a fix for it.


PlayBook will not charge if powered off.  Cant charge if PlayBook can not boot up.

My Fix

Connect to the supplied PlayBook power charger, press and hold the power button for 10 seconds to force a reboot.

During the rebbot it will charge up.


Connect to desktop manager (use latest version please) with your PC using the Micro USB cable and press and hold the power button down for 10 seconds.

Are you kidding me?  You can’t charge the thing if it’s powered off?  Who designed this piece of crap?  My first generation iPod could charge when off with a drained battery.

Is Judas in Heaven or Hell?

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Great article.

This is not the debate Christians need to be engaged in. We don’t know. Instead of wasting our time on these types of arguments inside our little Christian world, maybe we should look inside ourselves this Easter.

It is easier to debate these issues and make speculations about others than it is to actually look at ourselves in the mirror. It is always easier to think someone else is worse off then we are.

Public Relations 101

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Life experience tells us that far more is learned from failure than from success.  If that truly is the case, the way BP is handling itself during this the largest environmental crisis in this country’s history is as educationally worthwhile as sitting at the feet of a demented Aristotle.  The next time your company has a disaster where damage control is necessary, just watch what BP did and do the exact opposite, and you’ll be fine.  Let’s look at a few examples from BP’s handbook:

1.  Always underestimate the impact of the actual damage.

2. Always conceal the sources of the actual damage.

3.  Never admit the impact of the damage on its surroundings.

4.  Make your executives and their spokespeople invisible for as long as possible.

5.  When it’s not possible anymore, speak to those you’ve affected in the most condescending tone possible.

6.  When your company has the brains and capabilities to build this…

… make sure to put the reigns on that kind of innovation and engineering so that Bubba and Cletus from Bumfuck GodKnowsWhere can beat you to the punch on ideas for fixing your giant mess.

6.  Make sure you have a long trail of past incompetence, negligence and ineptitude to distract from the current incompetence, negligence, and ineptitude.

7.  Finally, and this is of utmost importance, don’t forget to give yourself a bonus.

Following these simple guidelines will guarantee a firestorm of seemingly never-ending press coverage for your company as well as billions in expenditures and years of bad P.R.

Gates on Google

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 “They’ve done nothing and gotten a lot of credit for it.

 That’s an interesting coincidence.  Microsoft makes unstable operating systems, bloated office software, and haven’t had an original thought in a decade or more.

And they’ve gotten a lot of money for it.

Uh oh.

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Mechanized weaponry + relentless pursuit + facial recognition = Sarah Connor is toast.

Failing Upward

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If you’re wondering why the state of education in this country… especially higher education… is in such a sad state of affairs, Rutgers University has just given you a major reason by simply putting its money where its mouth is.  The Rutgers University Programming Association has announced that they paid Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi $32,000 for a scheduled speaking engagement at the University.

Where do I even begin with what is wrong with this.  It took me a bit to even start formulating a list because of the time it took me to pick my jaw up off the floor after reading this.  But once I got started, there was material enough to actually break it into two categories:  The choice of and selection process surrounding Snooki herself, and of course, the money.

Why Snooki?

The first thought that popped into my mind when I read that they picked this vapid monster to speak to students was “Are you fucking serious?”  And it’s not even so much that they hired her, although that’s bad enough.  It’s what they hired her to do.

When I was in college, I got to hear many speakers from various backgrounds speak on a multitude of subjects.  Some were known (Ralph Nader), some were known not by their names, but certainly by their reputations (the Oxford University Debate Team), some were there not to educate, but to entertain (George Carlin), but the one thing they all had in common was that, regardless of how you felt about their politics or their personalities, as speakers they were all brilliant.  Everyone brought in was brought in because they all had 12-cylinder brains operating at high RPMs all of the time, and as a result, they all killed at their respective appearances.  Whatever amount they were paid, they delivered their money’s worth and then some.  Snooki  is, on her best day, little more than a professional dipshit with freakishly gargantuan breasts, or if you really needed a comparison, she’s The Situation with tits, or an orange, scary Paris Hilton.  She offers less than nothing as far as subject matter that could cause two synapses to exchange electricity, and if she is entertaining to her audience at all, then that speaks volumes about the talent pool that are being admitted to Rutgers these days.  I know some Rutgers alumi, and they’re damn smart people, but a decision like this is not representative of a group of students who are busy learning the finer points of business, the law, complex mathematics or the classics, but rather a drooling herd of self-absorbed youths sporting spray-on tans and hair with enough shellaced-on product to simonize the hull of a battleship, and whose English, grammar, and spelling skills do not extend beyond text message-speak and who see terminal idiocy as a lucrative career option rather than something that should be avoided at all costs, and who manage funds like a crack addict with a cashed welfare check on a Friday night.  The fact that this choice was made, over-paid for, and, worst of all, defended by Rutgers students pretty much proves that.  Specifically, this choice was defended by numerous Rutgers upperclassmen.  The one ray of hope for our future’s prospective job applicants came from a freshman… a freshman… who when interviewed expressed his opinion about the choice of Snooki…

“Such a waste of my money. If I want to listen to someone talk, they should have something intelligent to say,” said freshman Dan Oliveto, 18, rolling his eyes.

Given Snooki’s popularity and the fact that not enough people really give a shit about this, I’m thinking Dan is the exception and not the rule.  Mr. Oliveto does not so much display a wisdom beyond his 18 years as he does display a sad commentary on our society that an 18 year-old freshman has more common sense than the bulk of those graduating ahead of him.

The Money

This is a fairly simple equation.  Snooki got paid $32,000 for her babbling gig.  I refuse to call what she does “speaking.”  That would be like broadening the definition of “classically trained musician” to include those that can play Beethoven’s Fifth using underarm fart noises.

“My feet can’t touch the ground. Awkward!” Snooki said as she sat in the chair, her feet dangling.

When asked what her advice was for Rutgers students, she said:  “Study hard, but party harder.”

(Actual quotes from Snooki’s appearance at Rutgers)

Picture 2 hours of that.  That’s a $32,000 algonquin roundtable that you got going there.

Rutgers paid Toni Morrison, who won the both Nobel and Pulitzer Prizes for Literature, gave the Jefferson Lecture (sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the U.S. Government’s highest honor for achievement in the humanities), and the  National Book Foundation’s Medal of Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, $30,000.  Basically, if Ms. Morrisson were a socially retarded elf, that would have warranted a $2,000 bonus.  The real irony of all this is that, and it makes me shudder to even write this, Toni Morrison and Snooki actually have one thing in common in that they are both… brace yourselves… published authors.  However, that is where the similarities end.  Toni Morrison’s books, while I’m not personally a fan, have enough of a following to have topped the NY Times Bestseller List several times over, with Beloved (the one that won the Pulitzer) being voted as one of the Best Works of American Fiction.  Snooki’s book (I refuse to call it a novel) sold 9,000 copies and makes a great coaster, doorstop, and if used sparingly, its pages will provide a solid six months worth of birdcage liner or fireplace tinder.  Your preference.

The main argument you’ll hear over this discrepancy is that Snooki was paid out of student activity fees, and that Toni Morrison was compensated out of an honorarium.  Semantics.  Both reflect on the university, and if the decision surrounding Snooki’s appearance are the kinds of decisions being made by Rutgers students… especially seniors, and bad press for the university results from it, then I think the case could be made that there should be some adult supervision involved, be it faculty or otherwise.  Ultimately, the reality of the situation is that it’s the parents that are paying for the education of these students are more than likely also footing the bill for Snooki’s appearance.  I would love to know their opinions on this.

You’re probably thinking, “Dude, you’re way too upset over something far too small,” and taken by itself, you’re probably right.  But I look back over the past couple of decades and I see society at large turning into what Henry Rollins refers to as the “intellectual vacuum.”  We’ve gone far beyond tolerating stupidity to the point where the bulk of humans that are schlepping around this country are now celebrating it, and I find that disgusting.  We live in a society where a comedian delivers the only news show that can pass a fact-checker, where we elected an under-achieving, draft-dodging, surplus-squandering, economy-destroying, retarded cowboy to the Presidency… twice, where education is slammed in political ads as being “elitist” and any kid getting good grades in school is rewarded by having their head shoved in a toilet, having a vocabulary that doesn’t consist of “Y’all,” “Shucks,” “Science is evil,” “family values,” and “Can you get my kid into Yale?  There’s two wars on and I donated money to the Library,” is considered being out of touch with mainstream America, and where the people paying for the folly of the financial crisis are not those that caused it… they get bailout money because they are too big to fail… but the middle-class and working poor American public, the same people who are getting their public education funding cut, the very thing which is critically important to the long-term future of this country and far too important to let it fail.  But it seems letting it fail is exactly what is going to occur.

But hey, look how many Snooki’s our de-evolution will generate then.  Shit, we can start exporting stupidity at that point.