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Comment Government doesn't get data security, generally (Score 5, Informative) 142 142

My family is visiting D.C. this summer, and in order to take a tour of a government facility (Capitol Hill, Congress, Dept. of Engraving, etc.) you need to apply through your congressional representative's office.

The "official and only" way to apply for a tour is to fill in and return, by email, unencrypted, a non-protected Excel spreadsheet with full names, SSNs, and other personally-identifiable information for your entire tour group (family) in one page of the spreadsheet.

Basically, if you want a tour, you must be willing first to roll over and put your goods out for anyone to sniff. No exceptions.

I was sick to my stomach over the idiocy of it all.

Comment AT&T DSL mystery tied to faulty CFL ballast (Score 4, Interesting) 227 227

I had a friend who was bemoaning how his "crappy" AT&T DSL service would flake out every evening at about the same time, and he'd had techs out to replace his DSL modem twice, re-do the wiring to his house, everything! He asked me whether I was happy with TWC (I wasn't), because he was fed up and was going to switch.

We got talking in general. I asked him whether he'd also done any renovating around his house, no matter what type. He admitted that he'd recently replaced all of his exterior house lights with CFL equivalents, and I asked him whether any were on timers, sensors, etc. He admitted that there was an exterior flood light on a light sensor.

I asked him if that sensor turned on that lamp about the same time of day his DSL service flaked out. His expression dropped. He replaced that one light with an incandescent, and the problem went away.

Comment Pretty clever use of available I/O options (Score 4, Interesting) 25 25

I have to hand it to this individual for definitely thinking outside-the-box and hooking up three types of systems using interfaces you'd not expect to be used in this manner, and coming up with something which is (at least in his case) useful.

This was very gratifying to watch.

Comment SCSI drive in a musical instrument (Score 1) 272 272

The oldest hard drive I'm still actively using holds patches and sample data in a keyboard--a little 200MB SCSI drive. I think it may eventually outlive the keyboard itself. At one point in time, the keyboard itself also had the largest RAM of any computer I owned, at a whopping 64MB. When I was driving it back and forth from college, the keyboard was insured for more than the car it was in.

Comment Jeff Atwood had a good take on this (Score 1) 149 149

Any thread on SSD failures should include a link to Jeff Atwood's blog entry on the topic:

I feel ethically and morally obligated to let you in on a dirty little secret I've discovered in the last two years of full time SSD ownership. Solid state hard drives fail. A lot. And not just any fail. I'm talking about catastrophic, oh-my-God-what-just-happened-to-all-my-data instant gigafail. It's not pretty.

Full post here:

Comment When did we become afraid of everything? (Score 2) 225 225

I'm waiting for the day when some nutjob fashions a piece of doggie-poo looking substance out of brown-painted C4 with an embedded motion-sensitive detonator.

There, I've said it. Let everyone be scared of any stray pile of poop laying on a city sidewalk. Perhaps then, when we try to ban dogs completely, people may wake up and see that it's just not worth going through life terrified of everything.


Comment Re:Whole movie shot in single shot (Score 1) 295 295

While I found Russian Ark technically fascinating, it was otherwise very difficult to sit through because the viewer becomes aware early on that they are watching a visual gimmick unfold. Instead of paying attention to the plot, I was distracted by the single-shot nature of it, and how they were going to pull it off.

I'd liken this to experiments like Timecode which use similar gimmicks and long shots, but are otherwise slightly awkward to view.

1000 pains = 1 Megahertz