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User Journal

Journal Journal: WizeTime Released

We are pleased to announce the release of WizeTime, an advanced application for managing your time. Designed as a portable internet based solution WizeTime is available when and where you are to assist you in getting the most out of your precious time. By tracking Goals and Priorities, as well as estimated task completion time and due date, WizeTime is able to provide an up-to-the-minute prioritized list of your outstanding tasks and projects. By empowering the user to make the most of their time, WizeTime allows busy Professionals, Doctors and Students to maximize their potential and stay 'on-track' by always working on the most 'important' task at any given time. WizeTime is open to the public and free for everyone as well as simple to use making it quite literally the best way to stay on top of your time.


Journal Journal: Grassroots gone wrong: Spamming for Ron Paul

Some spammer has been sending out spam supporting Ron Paul. I've reproduced enough of the headers to show the source of the spam, and enough of the content to make it clear that the pro-Ron Paul message isn't just a hash buster, but the actual content of the spam. I'll assume that this is not part of the Ron Paul strategy, but simply a case of grassroots gone wrong, but I would think the Ron Paul committee would want to stomp this now.

Received: from (localhost [])
        by barracuda.[redacted].com (Spam Firewall) with ESMTP id [redacted]
        for ; Mon, 29 Oct 2007 07:27:38 -0400 (EDT)
Received: from ([]) by barracuda.[redacted].com with ESMTP id [redacted] for ; Mon, 29 Oct 2007 07:27:38 -0400 (EDT)
Received: from [] by; Mon, 29 Oct 2007 11:27:33 +0000
From: "garfinkel chung-pi"
X-ASG-Orig-Subj: 3500 Americans Died In Iraq Stop The War! [Random String redacted]
Date: Mon, 29 Oct 2007 09:40:11 +0000
X-Mailer: Microsoft Outlook Express 6.00.3790.2663

        0.80 RCVD_IN_PBL RBL: Received via a relay in Spamhaus PBL
                                                              [ listed in]

Hello Scott,

Ron Paul is for the people, unless you want your children to
have human implant RFID chips, a National ID card and create
a North American Union and see an economic collapse far worse
than the great depression. Vote for Ron Paul he speaks the
truth and the media and government is afraid of him.


Journal Journal: Anyone here on LinkedIn? (or Xing) 8

We went through this a few years back when it first started, and I'm already linked to about 20 or 30 of you, but I thought I'd check if there's anyone I missed. You should be able to figure out my "real" email address from my slashdot profile.

User Journal

Journal Journal: random loss of input focus in WinXP - Help? 1

I am tearing my hair out. I got a new thinkpad a few days ago. It has something running in the background that is causing the window that I'm typing into to lose focus at random, sometimes as often as every couple of minutes. I tried installing tweakUI and its feature to prevent apps from stealing focus, but it's had no effect. So, I type away, and I lose characters if I'm not watching like a hawk. Surely there is an app I can install that would sit around and, when something tries to grab the focus, would say "gotcha!"

Journal Journal: turg's rule of computing #42 (and more dumb questions) 8

turg's rule of computing #42: Don't partition your hard drive at one o'clock in the morning.


So I thought I'd make an Ubuntu partition on the new hard laptop -- just to play around with it a bit.

So I pop in the CD and boot it up, choose install and start answering the questionnaire. The question about what size to make the partition is confusing (e.g. is it asking what size to resize the existing partition or what size for the new partition) and after I answer it I realize I've answered it wrong and hit the back button (got an "Are you sure?" and said yes) and gave the right answer. I didn't realize that it had started partitioning immediately -- I thought it wasn't doing anything until I finished the whole questionnaire.

So what I wanted was 45 GB for the WinXP partition and 15 for Ubuntu.

What I got is:
-Windows thinks it has a 15 GB hard disk
-Ubuntu thinks it has a 60 GB hard disk with a 15 GB Ubuntu partition and a 45 GB WinXP partition -- except it shows the WinXP partition as 5 GB used and 10 GB available.

Presumably there's some tool I can use in Ubuntu to fix this? I haven't done anything more with it so I haven't tried connecting Ubuntu to the intarwebs yet.

Also, How do I tell Grub to make WinXP the default?

Though, now that I'm thinking about it, I have since decided to make the laptop the primary home of the music collection so maybe I just want to blow away the Ubuntu partition and give the whole 60 GB back to WinXP. I can find someplace else to play with Linux on the desktop.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Dumb WinXP questions 17

So I've got my new (that is, new to me -- refurbished lease return) laptop.

Last time I was in this position, the first thing I did was go online to download all the Windows updates. Even with the Windows Firewall turned on, I had several worms, etc., by the time the updates were complete. This time I want to avoid this. Though that was with the original WinXP (home) and this is SP2 (pro).


1) What's the simplest procedure for getting the updates safely?

2) It's possible that this machine already has the updates. How do I find out if it does?

Classic Games (Games)

Journal Journal: Best cafe ever: Gluten-Free + Free WiFi 2

I just discovered a relatively new cafe in my neighbourhood. I haven't eaten there yet but it might be my favourite place already: they have free wifi and offer a gluten-free menu.

User Journal

Journal Journal: How Bell Labs blew the microchip

The December 2006 issue of IEEE Spectrum carries an article about the life and tragic death of Jack A. Morton, of Bell Labs: How Bell Labs Missed the Microchip. It includes "On integrated circuits in particular, Morton exhibited serious blind spots that cost the parent phone company, AT&T, dearly--and may have contributed to its eventual dismemberment."

Those of us with past ties to Bell Labs can get rather wistful on reading this....


Journal Journal: It was a year of new beginnings 6

As in: new transmission, new appliances, new furnace. About eleven grand on those (unplanned) expenses alone.

Oh, and we had another kid this year too.

Anyway, I'm really just fishing for a topical way to get into the furnace story.

Let me take you back in time a week or two. It's Wednesday the 20th. We're planning to leave for the in-laws on the morning of the 21st. Last night we called for someone to check out the furnace -- it's been cutting out recently, but will work fine again if we shut off the electricity to the furnace and turn it back on again* (it's a gas furnace with electronic ignition). So the guy shows up at 4 pm, about 15 minutes after I get home from doing the last of the Christmas shopping. He takes stuff apart. He calls me down to take a look.

There are cracks in the wall of one of the chambers where the flames are. This is a bad thing. I never really paid attention to this before but some previous owner (16 years ago) installed an 80,000 BTU furnace in our tiny house. The furnace guy figures, based on the assumption that we're heating about 1000 square feet (it's more like 800), that we only need about 35,000 BTU of output. So anyway, the ducts weren't taking enough heat away from the furnace and things cracked from overheating.

Then he says "I have to shut you down." As in he is legally required to shut off the gas to our house and seal it with a big red tag that says we can't have the gas back on until the equipment is certified to be safe. And a big red tag for the furnace too, indicating that it's unsafe and not to be used.

They can come and do the work the next day (Thursday) if we say so right now, but otherwise it'll have to be after Christmas. He calls around suppliers to see what furnaces are available. We could have kept it under three grand (all in) but figured we might as well go for a high-efficiency model and a two-stage fan.

So there's going to be 24 hours without heat and hot water. My wife quickly packs and she and the kids leaves immediately, a day early. I'll take the train when the furnace is done.

After that, it went smoothly. The biggest part of the job turned out to be the vent. The high-efficiency furnace is vented through a 3-inch pipe going through the wall, rather than through the chimney like the old mid-efficiency one. So they start drilling a big hole through our 100-year-old stone foundation wall. After an hour or two, one of the guys comes to me and asks if I know how thick the wall is because they've drilled 12 inches and there's still no sign of breaking through.

And the rest of the day (starting at 8 am and they were done around 4) they're in our tiny basement (just a crawlspace really) with three guys. There's about enough space for one guy to crouch (not stand up) on each of the three sides of the furnace that aren't against the wall -- and that's all the space there is down there.

Remind me to tell you the story of the appliances (a.k.a "Why Home Depot sucks") some day.

*Because doing this and changing the filter are the only things I'm qualified to do with regards to the furnace.


Journal Journal: (1) Weird news story OTD, (2) Help! I'm surrounded! 4

First off: Dolphins saved in the arms of a very tall man

The world's tallest man helped save two dolphins in China by reaching into their stomachs and pulling out harmful plastic they had swallowed, state media said Thursday.

In other news: my wife, both kids, and the cat are all sick. I'm the last one standing. Help. Is there anyone out there? Can anyone hear me?

Hm. I think my throat is a little sore.

I've got alot of eBay stuff to ship out this week. Can people get strep throat through the mail?


Journal Journal: I missed a chance to visit Ethelred (I mean "pay homage to") 11

I got a call from my main client at 10 am this morning (Friday). They need someone to be in Berlin for six days starting Monday. They're really stuck and if I can't do it then they haven't got anyone.

Darn. My passport just expired. Phone passport office to see how fast they work when you pay for emergency service. They can do it on time.

Meanwhile I've been checking flights on the web. If I extend the trip to include a Saturday night stay, I can fly for as little as $550. Otherwise, it's going to be $5700 at this late date. By the time I'm done talking to the passport office, I've got an e-mail back from the client that yes they'd rather put me up in the hotel for a couple extra nights than have me charge them ten times as much for the flight.

Now all I have to do is get together the necessary stuff for my passport application. First thing on the list is: Birth Certificate.

Hm. I think the last time I saw the birth certificate was 5 years ago when I last filled out a passport application. We've moved since then. I have no idea where it is.

Long story short: My wife and I spent four hours going through every place a piece of paper could be. Pulled all the boxes out of the basement, went through all the files, etc., etc., etc. Went through the house top to bottom. It's not here.

Check the Registrar General's web site. The fastest I can get a birth certificate is two days.

Call the passport office back. There's no way to get the passport without an original proof of citizenship, which for me would be a birth certificate.

By now it was mid-afternoon (on Friday, of course) and if I've got to bail, I'd better do it soon.

sigh. And they would have paid me the same amount in EUR that they otherwise would pay me in CAD. That would have been a okay Christmas bonus.

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