What really grinds my gears or signs that the world is coming to an end

Dry vs. Cure

I’m watching Dirty Jobs on the Discovery Channel and Mike Rowe, the host, as made just commited one of my pet peeves. Expoxy resins do not “dry”, they cure. It may not seem like a big deal, but to some (especially those a the School of Mines), it is. Curing is a chemical reaction, usually exothermic, occurs. This polymerisation reaction solidifies the adhesive within minutes of the initial reaction. Cement is another reaction often mislabeled as drying. Again, this is a chemical reaction, not a drying process. And that’s my rant for the day.


1.5 Billion

The World Health Organization (WHO) is saying that 1.5 billion! (yes, billion) people will be obese by 2015. For the record, obese means having a BMI higher than 30. Now it’s important to note that I’m not bashing on obese people just because I can. I’ve had to endure a 2.5 hour flight sitting next to obese woman and the Federal government has reported that obese persons flying have risen ticket prices. Health insurance is also going up to the many medial complications that obese people can face. And while you may think about chewing me out because being obese is “something your can’t control,” I kindly remind you that you were not born fat.

Link via Boing Boing via Carbwire


How The RIAA Really Treats It’s Artists

Wow. This article is simply amazing and incredibly indicative of how evil and powerful the RIAA really is. I can’t believe more people don’t know about this. Via Digg:

Time and time again we hear that the real reason for the RIAA’s scare tactics and lobbying is the welfare of the artists they employ and represent. Here’s a breakdown where a band not only isn’t paid much but actually ends up owing money.

read more | digg story


Microsoft XBOX Unsupport

  • Rants

My Xbox hasn’t been working for about a week now. I’m not exactly sure why it isn’t working, but it’s not. I’ve literally tried ALL my Xbox games (about 10) and ALL of Chris’s Xbox games (easily another 15). No luck. I tried a some audio CD’s thinking the issue may pertain to the DVD part. No joy. I tried playing some DVD movies. Again, no joy. I went out and bought a CD/DVD Lens cleaner and some compressed air, convinced at least ONE of them would work. Nope.
I went to the Xbox web site and tried all everything they said. I even deleted my entire hard disk (after backing up everything I wanted to a memory card). I really hated doing to next part, put I had to. I continued on with Live technical support via their website. The technician said that I would have to call 1-800-4MY-XBOX to get it serviced. Crap. I did some research about users with the same and similar problems before I called in. There is nothing worse then getting your ass kicked by some off-shore worker reading from computer prompt.
As I figured, they wanted to charge me $79.99 to get it repaired. After I sent it to them on my dime. I asked to talked with the supervisor and the service rep placed me on hold and then was able to get me transfered to her supervisor. Now there are two things I would like to note at this time. First, it took some time to get a supervisor (like 3 minutes). During this time, there was this annoying automated voice repeating “Please Hold” every four seconds or so. Definitely enough to drive a man crazy. However, Microsoft did manage to astonish me. When the super have been found, the original service rep came back on with the super to make sure I was transfered properly. Wow. That was awesome. I mean, how many times have you been mis-transfered and had to call back in again? Yea…wAAAAaay too many. I digress.
The supervisor was willing to give me 50% of plus a free game OR 75% off and no free game. I would still have to pay shipping and handling, thus amounting to somewhere in the $35 dollar range. Please keep in mind that I am a college student with loans in excess of what the average American made in 2004 [pdf warning!]…and I’m only in my second year. The point being that while I appreciate the offer, I think the repair should be free (including S&H both ways). Here is my case:
I purchased my XBOX from Costco less than a year ago on December 11th, 2004. Why do I know this? I blogged about it.
During my ownership of said XBOX, I have never dropped it or mishandled it in any way. Granted, this statement not really verifiable, you’ll just have to take my word for it.
This is NOT an isolated incident. Engadget reported that a class action lawsuit was in the works. Note: This post is almost a year old and I know that Microsoft did tweak some things in the XBOX.
Microsoft made over $10 billion in the the 4th Quarter of their 2005 FY (Fiscal Year). This is a 9% (or almost $1 billion) increase from the same quarter last year. Microsoft ended their 2005FY with almost $40 billion in revenue. My point is this: Yes, Microsoft is loosing money on every XBOX they sell. But that is just the barrier to entry in a market they were not previously in. They should know that better than anyone, seeing as they control the x86 OS market with ease. In order to make money on the XBOX gaming division, they are going to need customers. Making devices that are notorious for defects isn’t going to help their case. Rumors tends to spread like wildfires, especially in the gaming industry. Worse yet, many of the rumors, while somewhat true, will be significantly exaggerated.

Long story short is this. I am customer #xxxx. I do have a name (it’s Andrew Ferguson). I do have a brain that works wonderfully (139IQ). And most importantly I have the check book (or debt card in my case). In short, I don’t need to give Microsoft my business, they need to earn it. Whatever my feelings, I will make sure everyone who reads my web site knows it. They can be praises of joy or songs of sorrow, Microsoft can figure out which one they want.

While writting this blog, I took a look at Costco’s website and they should be able to handle my issue for free. I’ll pay about $5 in gas to get to and from Costco, plus another $1.50 for one of those awesome Hot Dogs. Hell, I’ll probably even get some groceries there…maybe even $79.99 worth.

In case someone (perhaps the Scobleizer, famed Microsoft front man) would like to take up my case with Microsoft, my ticket number is: 198426627. Tell them I sent you and that I decided to take my business else where….at least for now.


One Hell of a Clusterfuck

I haven’t been following the fallout from Katrina that closely. Most of what I know comes from BoingBoing and the highlights on the 5 o’clock news.
The picture that I see developing is very troubling. Here are the highlights of the clusterfucks that is The Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina (from various BoingBoing articles):

  • Thirty elderly who died in the nursing home were simply forgotten. They were supposed to be rescued but someone dropped the ball and they died.
  • Under Homeland Security, FEMA is supposed to be in charge, but they have been marginalized due to their obvious screw ups. The National Guard is now in charge in the region and they have no experience in these matters. This is aggravating a bad situation.
  • The plan going forward for New Orleans is to demolish all the houses and burn them. There is nowhere to bury the waste in the region so they will incinerate it all. Before that can go on, they will have to search every house for chemical hazards.
  • The EPA ordered 40 satellite phones to get their people in contact. Those phones have arrived, but no one ordered SIM cards and these phones are currently useless.
  • This contractor has been organizing reverse osmosis (RO) water purification units from all over the country since last Tuesday. He has over 100 units of various sizes available to move into the region, but no one will give the go ahead. No one will sign their name to a piece of paper for fear recriminations later. He says that over 80 million pint bottles of water have been purchased at $0.75 each. The RO units can produce a gallon of water from contaminated water for $0.01 and they can produce thousands of gallons a day. Two are staged near the zone and these alone can produce 250,000 gallons per day. The Army has RO units, but every functional one, and every operator trained to use them, is in Iraq or Afghanistan.
  • Houston Independent media organizers, who have been working in concert with local community organizations, relief groups, the Federal Communications Commission, a major electronics manufacturer, and the City of Houston, have been denied permission to build a 30-watt radio station inside the Astrodome by R.W. Royall Jr., Incident Commander of the JIC (Joint Information Committee) at the Astrodome. When they asked why they were being turned down, they were told that the Astrodome could not provide them with electricity. When the Austin Airwaves team offered to run on battery backup, they were still denied. Did I mention that A) also have a license in hand from the FCC, B) have not one, but two sources of 10,000 radios [including Sony, which I applaud – despite the fact that I don’t like their technology tactics].
  • There are reported rapes, beatings, and murders. And while unsubstantiated at this point, I have no reason to disbelieve it.
    NOLA evacuee Clara Barthelemy, “A six year old girl was raped in here [the Astrodome].. 9 year old boy killed. A man in the shower beaten.” another evacuee says, “Over 20 rapes per night happening inside this place. They bring in national guard for media purposes. Bush wants us to stay here to raise his ratings.”
  • “We have requested that no photographs of the deceased be made by the media,” a [FEMA] spokeswoman said in an e-mailed response to a Reuters inquiry. The Bush administration also has prevented the news media from photographing flag-draped caskets of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq, which has sparked criticism that the government is trying to block images that put the war in a bad light.
  • “The media censorship here runs high. It was not easy to actually enter the dome as media. I am working with the group ‘Austin Airwaves’ and our badge says ‘PRESS’ in huge white letters on a red background. This has caused unending red tape. I have been the subject of removal a few times, bordering on a dozen. My camera draws the most fire.”
  • An article in the Army Times is referring to American citizens in New Orleans as “the insurgency”.

Despite all this, I am still ready and willing to go to help setup a technology infrastructure. And in case you don’t know what a clusterfuck is, here’s the Oxford English Dictionary definition:

clusterfuck, n.
A bungled or botched undertaking; (also) a situation, state of affairs, or gathering (esp. a military operation) that is disorganized or chaotic.

Yup…we got ourselves a genuine American clusterfuck.


And I Quote: This Is Working Very Well For Them

It’s things like this that make me sick (and almost convinced the world is going to end):

Accompanying ex-prez husband George H.W. Bush on la tour de hurricane relief, Marie Antoinette Barbara Bush today commented on the poor who’d been displaced by Katrina:

This is working very well for them. (…)Almost everyone I’ve talked to says we’re going to move to Houston.

"What I’m hearing which is sort of scary is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is
so overwhelmed by the hospitality.

"And so many of the people in the arena
here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this–this (she
chuckles slightly) is working very well for them."

By these standards, 40 acres and a mule would have been too generous. Link to Editor and Publisher story; the remarks originally aired on American Public Media’s "Marketplace" program (Thanks, Pesco; Bernard Ouellette)

Reader comment: Cowicide says, Here is an audio file. Link.

Via BoingBoing


Case in Point: Even the Most Simplest Things

And it begins… Creative Technology, a maker of portable music players, has accused Apple Computer of violating a newly granted software patent covering the way users navigate music selections.” From the NYT article: “Creative Technology, which is based in Singapore and has United States operations in Milpitas, Calif., said it would consider every option available to defend the patent, including possible legal action. Apple declined to comment on the patent. The patent, which the company calls the Zen Patent, covers Creative’s interface for portable players, which allows users to select a song, album or track by navigating a succession of menus. The patent office awarded the patent on Aug. 9.”

I’m sitting here shaking my head and trying to figure out what poor soul at the USPTO sits in a seculed booth all by himself, with no interaction with world, and authorized these patents. I went to the USPTO website and looked up the requirements for granting a patent and Creative’s patent is crap. It should have never been granted.

In particular, I would like to draw your attention to 35 U.S.C. 102 Conditions for patentability; novelty and loss of right to patent. The first part of this states

A person shall be entitled to a patent unless –

(a) the invention was known or used by others in this country, or patented or described in a printed publication in this or a foreign country, before the invention thereof by the applicant for patent, or

(emphesis added)

US Patent #6,928,433

From Slashdot via Outz


The Slow Death of the Public Domain

Lawrence Lessig, in an article on the Foreign Policy site, predicts that the public domain will die a slow death at the hands of anti-piracy efforts. From the article: ‘The danger remains invisible to most, hidden by the zeal of a war on piracy. And that is how the public domain may die a quiet death, extinguished by self-righteous extremism, long before many even recognize it is gone.’

I couldn’t agree more and you’ll hear me say this time and time again. Our patent and copyright system is broken, perhaps even beyond repair. Without quick intervention, the US (and the rest of the world) will be doomed to a life dictacted by corporations greed for money and power.

From Slashdot via Lost Brain


Comcast at 8 am

Ugh. Comcast is here right now, taking a look at our cable modem connection. It’s been really slow lately. I didn’t get to bed until 4am this morning, so I’m running on really nothing right now. Oh, but this does remind me about my little billing fiasco with Comcast earlier this week.

I called into Comcast on Tuesday because of an error in our billing. They charged us $29.99 to install Cable TV, even though we didn’t order TV. They also over-billed us for the cable internet. So they get it all worked out and I hang up and not even 5 minutes passes and the Nancy from Comcast calls me back saying that she talked with her supervisor and she actually can’t credit us the $29.99 for the Cable TV install…saying it has something to do with the fact that we didn’t have cable before….yada yada yada.

You have got to be shitting me! I’m thinking. Did you seriously call me back to say that you made a mistake in my favor and want to take it back? Yea…I don’t think so. So I says, “But you already told me that you could.” And that pretty much took care of that. But still! If there were another way to get high speed internet, I would dump Comcast in a femtosecond (one quadrillionth of a second). Idiots!


Big Business Needs to Change

A rejected TV pilot is thriving on P2P networks and Warner Bros. is pissed. What’s wrong with this picture? To start, WB is complaining about the success of a show they never aired:

The studio declined to comment about the future possibility of airing the show. However, it wasn’t shy this week about slamming the BitTorrent leak.

“Whether the pilot was picked up or not, it is still the property of Warner Bros. Entertainment and we take the protection of all of our intellectual property seriously,” said Craig Hoffman, a company spokesman. “While Warner Bros. Entertainment values feedback from consumers, copyright infringement is not a productive way to try to influence a corporate decision.”

Hoffman added that the pilot’s unauthorized distribution is “unacceptable and illegal … no matter what the underlying motives” and said the company hasn’t ruled out taking legal action “when it comes to stopping the illegal distribution of our copyright material.”

The world is changing. A new company, called the Internet, has emerged and it’s poised to set new rules and standards. Companies and organizations, such as WB, the MPAA, the RIAA, etc., need to realize that after decades of control, it is finally time to pass the reigns to the Internet and let the consumers dictate what they want, not have it shoved down their throats.