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User Journal

Journal: Link Spamming for Good, not Evil?

Journal by donutz

What to do when a Google search for your name when you're the target of a blogger's campaign to tear you down?

So my friend's wife Lisa is a reporter who recently took a job with the Press Enterprise of Southern California.

So there's a blogger who aims to topple the government leadership of San Bernardino county. And apparently, any journalists who don't share her zeal for trashing said leadership.

Nobody wants the first result for a search for your name to be a page where someone's calling you a liar. I know I don't.

So Lisa's got a new web site in an attempt to counter this crazy blogger. Visit Lisa's website here at LisaMcPheron.com.

Now where else can we put a link to the website of Lisa McPheron...

User Journal

Journal: Slashdot's competitor in overloading websites....

Journal by donutz
I saw what looked to be an interesting article on Google News this morning:

Alien Textures 'Weird Stuff'
Astrobiology Magazine - 2 hours ago
Nearby where the Spirit rover is now surveying, one of the most unusual formations has geologists scratching their heads for a good terrestrial analogy.

First time I tried to access it, I got no response. Now an hour later, I'm getting this:

mysql://astronaut:@localhost/astrobio failed to connectCan't connect to local MySQL server through socket '/tmp/mysql.sock' (2)

We all knew about the "Slashdot Effect", I guess now that effect has competition -- the Google News Effect.

User Journal

Journal: Personal Tech Support laugh...

Journal by donutz

So my wife's printer, a cheapo-but-good-o Canon i320 bubble jet printer, stopped printing today. It wouldn't pull in the paper, and it just was shooting ink at nothing. I yanked the USB cable and turned it off, and cancelled the print job.

I plugged it back in, turned it on...and I got some dreaded flashing error code from the power LED: long green, orange, orange, orange, repeat. Great, just great.

So I check the Help from the printer driver. Ha! As if they'd put helpful help about the printer problems there. Well, it was worth a shot. So I figured if we turn off the printer, computer, and everything, maybe that would solve it.

It didn't.

I opened up Mozilla Firebird 0.6, and went to Canon's website. Dug my way to the support area, and found -- huzzah! -- a list of error codes. Long Green, 3 short orange flashes -- Paper Jam! I now had a clue to help me resolve this issue.

Except that I was already quite certain there was no paper jammed in it. 'Well I'll show that printer,' I thought to myself. 'If it wants a paper jam, then by golly I'll give it one!' So I grabbed a sheet, and tried my best to stuff it inside. It's not like there's a lot of twists or turns for the paper to get jammed in, so it should have been easy to get some paper stuck in there.

"Should have" being key here. No matter how I tried, I couldn't get any paper stuck in the darn thing, not shoving it forwards through the paper feeder, or backwards.

Then I noticed something. With the front panel open...I saw something purple and glittery inside. I immediately knew what it was.

"Madison, did you put your worm in the printer?!" I shouted at our cat.

Let me explain. One day, nearly a year ago, I was cleaning out a box of old toys and junk that my parents offloaded onto me, and I found a rubber worm fishing lure. I tossed it at our cat, and at first it freaked her out (because it stuck to her fur, and she ran like crazy through the house till it came off). But then it became her favorite toy, and she'd carry it everywhere and play with it until it got chewed to pieces. So we bought her some new purple glittery ones.

Sure enough, she'd put one of them in the printer's paper feeder.

Well that explained why she kept walking on the printer all night, hitting the power button and turning it off and on over and over again.

So I guess Long Green, 3 Short Orange error code can also be a Worm Jam...make note of that, Canon!

It was a good laugh.

User Journal

Journal: Teaching

Journal by donutz

Today I taught a class for my first time ever.

It's a week long, 3 hour a day class at the local community college, for their "Kids College" program. The class is called "Create Your Own Web Page Using HTML" and is for kids 12-17.

I was pretty nervous last night, but once I got started with the class, the nervousness went away. By that point, I was just dealing with some of the rough edges. Like trying to judge how much the kids cared for the mini-lecture on the history of the WWW. Or dealing with the kids who hadn't set up a Yahoo account for a free Geocities page (and for those that had, realizing Yahoo wants you to be 13 and up if you want a Geocities page...d'oh!).

But at the end of the class when one kid said the class was just what he expected it to be (in a good way, it sounded), and when some of them thanked me...it was good.

We'll have to see how day 2 shapes up.

User Journal

Journal: Why Drugs are Bad (or, Why Drugs are Good) 4

Journal by donutz

Depending on the circumstance, drugs can good or bad. Sometimes, it's hard to tell which it is. I'm referring to a friend of my dad. He left some crazy messages on my answering machine, so I decided to save them and put them up on my web page. The Ed Messages, as I call them, are the result of someone who probably needs to be taking more drugs. Go ahead and give them a listen and you'll see what I mean.

User Journal

Journal: YahooPOPs! rocks! 1

Journal by donutz

I downloaded and compiled (then recompiled to address an issue noted in the forum) YahooPOPs! an awesome program that combines a web scraper and a POP server into a program that you run on your computer. The upshot of this is that it lets you check your Yahoo email account from any standard POP3 compliant mail client.

This is great, because I'm trying to move away from Yahoo since I've gotten new email addresses with the web hosting package my friends and I bought. With YahooPOPs!, I'm able to clean out all those saved messages I have on Yahoo, and I don't have to pay extra to get the Yahoo POP service to do it.

It works pretty well. Once I figured out what I was doing, it only crashed on me once with some kind of parsing error or something. For all I know, Yahoo gave it one of those "Temporary Problem" pages and that threw it off. Whatever it was, I'm happy with how it works, and it hasn't given me a problem since.

I'm going to also give a try to a similar program that works for Hotmail accounts, I'll let you know how that one works!

Microsoft

Journal: The Great Hotmail Conspiracy Part Deux

Journal by donutz

I previously reported on the troubles I've been having with Hotmail and spam mailbombs. Well, now I'm having more trouble with Hotmail, and it seems like good fuel for the conspiracy theorists out there, so here it is.

I'm unable to log into my Hotmail account using Mozilla 1.0RC1. When I type in my username and password, it just brings me to a page that asks me to re-enter my password. No matter how many times I re-enter it, or log out completely and log back in, it will not accept it and let me view my inbox. But wouldn't ya know it, it works just fine with IE. Pops up some advertisement to boot. Maybe that's why, they won't let me view my mail unless I view their ads? Well not if they're going to try to sell me a date (I'm married) or a stupid X10 camera with it's seizure-inducing ad banner... Bastards...

User Journal

Journal: Why Wells Fargo pisses me off...

Journal by donutz
Wells Fargo pisses me off.

A good month or so ago, I noticed a certain number kept appearing on our voicemail. That's where the saga begins...

I dont feel like rewriting it all, so here's a letter I emailed to them which pretty much sums things up:

---

Dear Wells Fargo Representative,

I'm writing to express my dissatisfaction with Wells Fargo. In summary, I find your company to be the embodiment of the impersonal, unfriendly image that the commercials of your competitor Washington Mutual commercials portray other banks to be. Yours fits the description to a T.

My recent dealings with your bank began as such: Every day for a week, I'd see the same 800 number showing up on my caller ID, but no message on the answering machine. Finally, sick of deleting this entry from the caller ID unit day after day, I called to find out who it was. Wells Fargo, the voice on the other end told me. I pressed to find out why they were calling me constantly but leaving no message. Indeed, without Caller ID, I'd have no knowledge whatsoever that any attempt was made to reach me. I tried to explain this to the lackey at the other end of the phone, but she told me that they only call to speak with a person.

Ah, but soon I would learn the truth. I suspect that you have caller ID on your end too, for before I concluded my questioning of the folly of calling and leaving no message, I got a call waiting beep. I considered the thought that the lackey wasn't as dumb as I suspected -- she'd said they only call once a day, and yet, here was another call. Had she prompted the system to dial my number again, now knowing that someone was indeed home. Who was it calling me this time? I got my answer: "Please hold for an important message from Wells Fargo." Aha! And I was forced to wait on hold for upwards of 5 minutes before one of your representatives got on the line to speak with me.

I find this practice to be despicable and ugly, no better than automated faxed advertisements or undesired calls from companies pitching their latest credit protection services. I find no "human interest" in your company at all, indeed, the automated phone dialing system shows it all.

Let me be explicit in my complaint here: If I have an account with a financial institution, and they have an urgent need to speak with me, I would expect them to call me, and if I don't answer, leave me a message that there is an urgent need for me to call them back. I now know that I can't expect that from your company, and so once my wife's student loan is paid in full, I will be glad never to do business with your institution ever again.

Sincerely, Adam Howard

---

Well, that wasn't the end of things. My wife's parents are taking care of paying that loan back, and had arranged for the payments to be automatically deducted from a bank account of theirs. Except that somehow, Wells Fargo screwed it up. Twice. For the past week we'd been getting calls from some 605 area code phone number. I wondered who it was....I should have known...it fits the Wells Fargo modus operandi perfectly: strange phone number on the Caller ID, several times a day, several days in a row, no messages on the answering machine. If I didn't know better, I'd think they were trying to harrass us. Knowing better, I still feel like they're trying to harrass us. Now apparently they have nice, friendly helpful people who work at wells fargo, from what my wife tells me of her phone conversations with them. They've been able to fix whatever it was they screwed up. At least until they screwed it up again. But somehow the conglomeration of everyone and everything there makes the entire organization stupid. At least that's what I get from my dealings with them. I hate the company more and more every time I have to deal with it.

Ok, enough ranting.

Slashdot.org

Journal: How to Moderate your own Comments?

Journal by donutz

Slashdot.org has safeguards against letting a user moderate their own posts, thus unjustly gaining karma. Well, here's one way to get around that...

Take a moderately [insightful, interesting, funny, etc] post that's currently +2 and moderate it up. Now it's at +3, so it's got more eyes looking at it. Then go back and reply to that post with an appropriately [informative, interesting, insightful, etc] response. Change the subject line to to get more attention. And let the moderators do their work. Bam! You've got some more karma.

Is it fair to do this? Not really....not really very unfair though. It does require you to make a good reply that people will want to moderate up. But it's a sneaky way of getting more attention for your post, to be sure...

It's funny.  Laugh.

Journal: Go Jesus!

Journal by donutz

So on Sunday we went over to my wife's grandparent's place for Easter. That morning I stood before my closet trying to choose clothes for the day. I pondered to myself "WWJW?" to which Kim said "huh?"

"What would Jesus wear?" I answered.

- - - - - - - - - -

Yesterday on the way home from Target, we saw a license plate holderthat said this:

I am a crazy lover of Jesus

I can't even begin to describe how weird that sounds....

Microsoft

Journal: The Great Hotmail Conspiracy? 2

Journal by donutz

I am an occasional Hotmail user. I use my Hotmail email address to register at websites requiring an email address, and it's listed on my website so people can send me feedback. The likelihood of getting spam (or any other unwanted commercial pitches) is pretty high. Even when you do your best to hit all the opt-out checkboxes on a registration page, you might miss something and get mail you don't want. Perfect use for a Hotmail account then: if I get junk mail, at least it's not in my primary inbox.

So you can imagine my dismay when one day I log into Hotmail and see a message that my account has been deactivated because it exceeds Hotmail's 2 meg limit. I see only about 30 messages (75% of them spam that Hotmail's spam filters failed to catch) in my Inbox, none of which with large attachments.

I look to the sidebar, and see that there's 900+ messages in the Junk Mail folder, where Hotmail's spam filters place messages that it determines are spam. In the past, I've had issues with the filters putting valid mailing list messages from Tech Republic in the Junk Mail folder, but lately it's been pretty reliable: Every single message in that folder is spam. (Not that it catches all the spam...we can only guess what their spam detection algorithm may be...)

So I click on that folder, and what do I find? I've been mailbombed. Spam mailbombed. To be fair, it's not the first time I've gotten a spam mailbomb at Hotmail, and this certainly wasn't to be the last.

And herein our suspicions of a conspiracy start to form. A C|Net news story hinted at user suspicions that this sudden influx of junkmail (I wasn't the only one affected) may be tied to Microsoft's latest pitch to sell increased storage space to people. A little shady indeed, when you receive an email message from Hotmail trying to sell you additional storage space when spam fills up your junk mail folder. And is it really fair for them to charge us storage space for mail that their spam filters identify as spam? I dont think so.

I've received several of those notices and emails in the past weeks. Fortunately there is something of a cure: Setting your Hotmail account to automatically delete spam as it arrives, instead of every 7 days. This means putting full trust into the trustworthiness of the Hotmail spam filter. But the choice is either that, or to bring out your wallet and pay Microsoft.

On a related note, Slashdot reported a few days ago that Yahoo will begin charging for POP3 and Forwarding services. As a Yahoo Mail user, I received the email informing me of this. While I can't say I like it, It sounds fair enough, and getting your mail through their Web interface remains free.

User Journal

Journal: First Large format Slashdot ad

Journal by donutz

So I saw my first large format Slashdot ad today in the MS admits they broke the law story. Don't tell the advertisers, but I didn't even catch what it was for. I think it had a lot of blue and white in it though....but it didn't strike me as IBM, or AT&T or anything else I'd recognize...All I really noticed was that the ad was kinda just sitting there not really worked into the whole layout of the site at all....it just looked uncomfortable. So much for the "impression" that ad was supposed to give...

User Journal

Journal: Lady luck please let the dice stay hot

Journal by donutz

Another day, another entry. Working on the new database-based version of our software for work lately; well, really right now working on the logic to migrate the current data from many text files....exciting stuff. I was thinking about biking to work tomorrow but now I'm thinking I'll put it off till Friday since I haven't packed a lunch or anything and don't feel like doing it right now. Ok, time to go put down another chapter of Fellowship of the rings...

User Journal

Journal: Do you wanna get rocked?

Journal by donutz

So it's been a few weeks since my last non AC post to /....hmm...cant really write /. with a trailing ellipsis....well I suppose I can but people might not realize my intentions. Screw them. so anyways I figured I'd get one of these journal's going. Yes, me, the infamous Adam, Adam Howard, the Aboriginal Mastermind (not to be confused with Howard Adams, who also goes by the same title). This is my story. It's not a remarkably interesting story, unlike my boss, who has had virtually everything in the world happen to him, including having his sandwich stolen by a Galapagos turtle. But that belongs in another journal entry. Comments are enabled, so if I see anyone commenting, I'm gonna be pretty concerned....about you wasting your time. But have fun.

The idle man does not know what it is to enjoy rest.

Working...