Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?
DEAL: For $25 - Add A Second Phone Number To Your Smartphone for life! Use promo code SLASHDOT25. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! ×
User Journal

Journal Journal: Stupid Mozilla Update 1

I upgraded to Firefox 1.0 from PR. Without knowing that there were some serious issues with Also, some of the extensions that I loved the most don't work in 1.0.

Tempted to switch back to PR until they fix stuff. Not having close tab on double click is like losing a limb when it comes to web browsing. Grrr. I'll give them a day or two... if all is not well by then... BACK TO Preview Release!

Days like this I wish I were a better coder really. I'd love to roll up my sleeves and help out, really. But like Fry in Futurama, I have stupid fingers. Some of us are just NOT talented programmers. Sigh. Now I'm frustrated with my browser and my inherent talents and abilities.
User Journal

Journal Journal: Thinking about Americans

Lol. Just posted something to one of the new "politics" discussions and I realized that I was too tired to really proof read it. So I have a feeling I'll wake up in the morning with a couple of freaks and maybe some flames. Oh well, express an opinion about Americans and you'll get trashed. Doesn't actually matter what the opinion is.

But the other day a Spanish friend asked me what I thought of the Americans. I'm Canadian and living in Spain, and whenever something American comes up I'm instantly assumed to be the local expert if there are no Americans around. Just because I could infiltrate and live among them without ever being discovered - white, neutral accent and a life time of getting tv signals bleeding across the boarder. I didn't feel like getting into a discussion at the time so I sort of made an off hand joke, "Half of them are crazy, and none of them know which half."

But I guess I do have an opinion about Americans and it's one that surprises Europeans and most Canadians when I actually talk about it. The normal response to opinion questions about Americans, especially since Bush really realized that 9/11 gave him carte blanche to do what he wanted, has been a sort of reflexive anti-Americanism. I sort of don't blame people for it, and have occasionally, unthinkingly been party to it myself, but my real attitudes are much much more complex.

First off, I need to repeatedly remind myself that GWB is NOT America. When he does something that pisses off the rest of the world, it reflects on America, it makes America look bad, but it doesn't actually make America bad. Second, even if he gets re-elected, and hell, even if he wins in an undisputed landslide this time, I still don't believe that that will undo all the good things America has done.

I keep thinking about America in terms of it's own history. People cannot deny that America, historically, until recently was mostly good for the world. For years America was the world leader in R&D and technology. Although France was a modern democratic republic first, the Americans really showed the world how to do it properly. They did the right thing in WWI, and again in WWII and for most of their history have been a force of good on this planet. Even with all the indictments against them in the second half of this century, the Americans are still a veritable generator of new, interesting and just plain good ideas. That doesn't absolve them of the bad stuff... but the bad stuff doesn't cancel out the good either.

What I find fascinating about America is that if you ask an American what the greatest things their country did in its own history (wars excepted), you'll get an interesting list.

The Revolution against King George and the establishment of the Modern Democratic Republic

Freeing the slaves

Giving suffrage to women

End of Segregation

I'm not American, but I'm sure they could name more. The point is, with each one of these things, there were always a huge number of people, initially the majority, that were against it. Doomsayers always said that this would be the end of society. Often much blood was spilled over these changes. Really. Try to think of a single thing of real historical significance that happened in America without there having been a huge internal conflict over it. Maybe it's something fundamental about the character of Americans. Maybe they can't do really great things without huge internal conflict, first. Maybe they can't really move forward without half the population trying to hold them back. But they do chug on forward, and they will for a long time to come.

Anyway, that's my two cents. I love the whole crazy schizophrenic country, and they're so divided right now they've got to be cooking a whopper of a leap forward. Good luck with that and don't blow up too much while you progress.

Note, it's not to say that I forgive them for all the ugliness and evil they've been a party to or responsible for, especially in the last 50 or so years. That's just not the only side of America there is. I think that their own historians will look back on this age with a mixture of condemnation and shame, just as modern ones look at the ugly blotches on our past. My point is that the progress still is generally forward, at least, I think it is.

But I'm really too tired and I'm going to bed now. Tomorrow I'll probably read this post and grimace.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Story Submission - Buying a computer overseas

Posting this here as well as submitting it to Ask Slashdot.

Back home I'm the guy that my friends call when they want to buy a new PC - no need to elaborate, most /.ers are that guy. But I'm in Spain for the better part of a year at least, and the PC I'm using just will not do. So what do I need to know about buying a PC overseas? How hard a time will I have sending it home? Any generic overseas or Spain specific surprises I should look out for? How about finding a good store? Back home I could spot a good shop in 10 seconds, here I don't know what to look for, or what to look out for. Advice? I'd talk to the local nerds, but here they'll ALWAYS take you to their close friend first and that's not always good.
User Journal

Journal Journal: Stupid SIP Phone

Got a SIP Phone a while back and for a while I was loving it. Dirt cheap calls to Canada, Chile and Columbia (although it was sometimes spotty getting through to Columbia) and free calls to my brother with his SIP Phone. So we went on vacation to three weeks, came back and the damn thing doesn't work. Piss off. Here in Spain, Telefonica charges extortion rates for long distance so we're back to going and buying phone cards. Which is still more expensive than the SIP Phone.

I've tried everything to get it working so either the device is broken, or Telefonica has suddenly decided that they're going to block UDP. It's possible, but I somehow doubt it. I doubt there are more than 5 people at Telefonica that know what UDP is. Sigh. Oh well, we're going to take it into a friend's office and try to get it working there. See if a different ISP works.
User Journal

Journal Journal: Lurking in Tom's Journal 2

Have to say Tom (Hudson) you invested more energy than I could have in that thread arguing with OnLawn(the Troll). I lurked for a while and considered trying to post something but you had a knack for making most of my arguements for me. I would have posted this in reply to your latest journal entry, but you didn't have comments enabled. (I think I know why.)

I'm a fellow Canuck, and a liberal (philosophically speaking, not political party) of the same stripe as you. Kudos on the win in the argument.
User Journal

Journal Journal: Stumble, 6 Year Olds, Adult Students

Whoa, busy month and for for like the first time in weeks I have an afternoon to myself. Going to go see Spider-man 2 which just came out here in Spain and basically just chill out for the rest of the afternoon. Now that I've had Firefox for a while I'm pretty much in love. I can't imagine going back for any reason, although, ironically - /. is the only site that doesn't always display properly. Strange.

Of course, since switching to Firefox I've been using other OS products more too. Thunderbird of course, which is really slick, Azureus which is pretty cool, and Video Lan for my movies. All good. Probably going to switch back to Mandrake, or maybe try out another distro in a couple of months.

One of the extensions I've been playing with lately is something called Stumble Upon. Probably set up by some advertising company and they acknowledge that they're selling aggregate data to advertisers, but they're providing a good product, being honest about what they give to thrid parties, and they let you use the service without asking for any personal information what-so-ever. So I'm willing to live with the trade offs. Anyway, Stumble Upon has made the web fun again. I've found dozens of sites that I would never have seen before if it wasn't for the recommends, and it's amazing how fast it figures out what you want to see. They say it's like channel surfing on the web, and it really is. Highly recommend. (My user ID is Inexile, feel free to add me to your friends list if you like.)

6 year olds. 15 of them for 4 1/2 hours a day. For some reason you'd think I'd be completely worn out by the end of the day, but I'm just not. It's really amazing. They listen to me, they do what I tell them and they remember what I teach them. This teaching thing was really the right move for me. Anyway, work is good, Spain is good and my adult students are all cool. Interesting that one of them seems to want to be an adult student, but we'll see. It's hard to be a geek sometimes, because even when you're sure that a beautiful woman is sending you signals, you can't help but think that it's just wishful thinking on your part. I'll let her come right out and ask me though, it wouldn't do to be right about the wishful thinking and make an ass of myself in front of one of my students. Until then, I can really look forward to Wednesdays and Thursdays. Sigh.
User Journal

Journal Journal: Is there a cure for cancer 3

Whoa nelly.

So I move to Europe a while back, and finally am getting my life in order. Job, girl (and man, these Madrid girls...), place to stay. It's cool. So, I finally got a cel phone since you really can't have a social life in Spain (or probably the whole world) without one. So it's all good.

For the phone, I decided to spluge a little and get myself a Sony Ericsson T-610. Last year's top of the line, this year's really cool phone that I could actually afford. So I have it, it works well, good sound and generally I'm happy with it. Except...

I didn't really figure it out until just now but when it rings or I get a text and it's sitting near the computer the speakers go crazy. I just spent a couple of minutes testing it, and if it's ringing and within a foot of the speakers they go balistic. Loud hissing, crackling, popping and buzzing. The effect is noticable if the phone is as close as four feet and really pronounced if it's closer than two feet.

I've had these speakers for a while and they're work horses. Nothing wrong with them, nothing like this ever happened before and they only wonk out when the phone is ringing. I'm going to borrow another phone and test it out, but how worried should I be here?
User Journal

Journal Journal: Need some good sites 1

Hi all.

Not sure who reads this, but I realize that I've fallen into a massive web rut. I log on, check /., check, check and then maybe some Fark, The Onion or Homestarrunner.

I can't even remember any good pr0n sites any more. I'm in a total web rut. Anyone got any good links? Things that are actually worth checking out, things that will make me laugh, make me think, make me say "cooooool!" out loud. I could probably turn up something but part of a rut is not being able to think of anything worth checking out.

Anyway, back to work for me.

User Journal

Journal Journal: ESL Help - /.ers Feel Free to Ignore

Here are some ESL links for my students. These will be here temporarily, until I get my own website back up.

English Help - Links

Excellent ESL Site with lots of good review topics and quizzes.

A really good site just on verb tenses with exercises and a final test. Offers some good Reviews of Tense if you wish to do some extra work. Feel free to check out any of these:

Present Perfect

Present Simple

Present Continuous

Past Simple

Past Continuous (Warning this is slightly more advanced than the others)

Future Forms

Also, here are some tests if you want to evaluate your progress. They are all on the website and can mark themselves.

Beginner's Tense Tests

Test 1
Test 2
Test 3
Test 4
Test 5
User Journal

Journal Journal: SIP Phone and Successful Cracking

Ok, first off, I cracked the login on the Windows laptop... sorta. But it worked.

Picked up a SIP Phone Call-in-One and I've got to say, I'm really impressed. It does exactly what they say it'll do, it does it well and it does it cheap. Living in Madrid, until now, meant I was sort of cut off from my brother. Now, I call him whenever I want, talk as long as I want and it doesn't call me anything other than the bandwidtch charges for the DSL connection that I was already paying. Definitely impressed.
User Journal

Journal Journal: Cracking help (desperately!) needed 1

Hello anyone reading this - however many people that is. I just screwed something up big time and I need to fix it, but I have no idea how. I know it's possible, but I don't know where to start.

I'm visiting my dad and he's got one of his old work laptops here sitting next to their desktop computer. I thought it would be handy to set up file sharing so I started fiddling with them. I set the first computer to "Workgroup" and noted the computer name and restarted. Then I went to the work laptop and did the same. I noticed that it was still defaulting to the old work domain but let me switch it to a workgroup too, no problems.

So it prompted me to restart and when it did I realized I'd screwed up. The laptop login for Windows 2000 is a login into the domain, and by setting it to workgroup I've effectively locked myself out of the laptop. I have the correct user name, and the correct password but there is (obviously) no listing for domains, but the password won't let me in with Uid and password alone.

I can't just wipe the HD because there is some email in Lotus that my dad needs. So I need to either figure out a way to read the HD and back up that mail file, or hack the login and get in somehow.

If there is ANYONE out there who knows how to fix this, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE help me. If you think that I need to give more details, please post questions here too. One thing on my is ok if after all of this I wipe the HD. As long as I get the Lotus mail files first.
User Journal

Journal Journal: Suddenly quiting and moving to another country 2

This was originally a mass email for my friends back home in Canada. I decided to post it here too.

Hi all,

Sorry for the mass email, but I decided that I'd rather write one big one than a 100 little ones. Ok, first off. If you didn't know that I'd gone and quit my job and left the country - well - surprise! Because I did. I'm in Spain right now, Madrid staying with my parents for a little while and I don't really know where I'm going next. This all happened reasonably fast.

Figure I might as well send you all a hello and give those who are interested an update. First off, I am well and Spain is nice. So what's happened so far:

There was a loooooong flight to Spain, not so much because the flight took a long time, but because I have a 5 hour lay over in New York. Not quite enough time to get out of the airport and sightsee, but long enough to make the trip a real pain. But that, gratefully is the only bad thing that's happened so far.

So I arrived in Madrid, and to my surprise there was NO security, customs or anything at the airport. As a former security professional (so happy that that's "former") I was interested in seeing what kind of security I'd be going through, checking my passport, interrogations... something! A bored looking guy stamped my passport without so much as looking at me (and without asking me any questions at all) and I basically grabbed my bags and walked out of the airport.

I know it's strange to talk about airport security but this was just slightly more than two weeks after the train bombings... anyway. If you ever want to enter a country illegally, Spain is your bet.

So I arrived in Madrid and spent the first day relaxing and getting over jet lag. Not too bad really. My parent's place is nice and I'll probably be here for at least another couple of weeks.

The second day I was here my brother and I went to the national museum of anthropology. Great exhibits and my brother, being an Egyptian and Roman history buff, had a great time. Got a chance to see some of downtown Madrid and I was a little surprised. There are older buildings and there are rotundas instead of intersections, but really Madrid is a surprisingly modern city.

I haven't seen much of it and will probably soon see more, but it really didn't live up to those classical cliché expectations of a European city.

Peter, my little brother was on vacation last week for Holy Week so my dad took a couple of days off, and the family drove down to Merida. Merida is in the Extremadura region of Spain basically between Madrid and Portugal. They call it the frying pan of Spain because in the summer it regularly gets up to the mid to high 40's. Shudder. However, this is the spring and it was beautiful. Even nicer when we were in our hotel and saw the weather - it was raining everywhere else in Spain.

Merida is everything that Madrid isn't. The classic little European town with tiny winding streets and a huge public square that is the centre of the town's social life. We were there for Thursday, Friday and Saturday and got to see a bunch of the local's Easter traditions.

They had this huge Easter procession, which is sort of like a cross between a parade and church. The whole town was either in the thing or lined up on the side of the roads to see it. It was actually pretty cool although the rest of the family quickly got bored. (I guess all those years of Anthropology videos on cultural festivals gave me a resistance or something. Good to know the degree is good for something.)

Anyway, Merida had some cool historical stuff too. It was the Roman capitol of Spain and has a beautifully restored Amphitheatre and a partially restored Coliseum. They're still excavating and restoring the Coliseum but they light it up at night and allow tourists to go through certain parts. The old Roman walls are still intact and there's a Roman bridge spanning the local that's still in use. The town itself is dotted with old aqueducts, Visigoth ruins leftovers from the Moors and various medieval buildings.

Cooler still is the Amphitheatre which has been restored enough to be functional and was really quite breath taking. Those Romans really knew how to build a public theatre. We took a tonne of pictures but Michelle (did I mention that my sister was along for this trip) didn't load the film in the camera correctly and screwed up the whole roll.

From Merida we took a winding route went onto Lisbon, or rather Cascais, a small town right outside of Lisbon. Really nice, but a little ritzy. Somewhere you'd never go unless you were with your parents, sort of like a Whistler village on the Atlantic.

Anyway, we got to see lots of Spanish countryside, a good bit of Portugal including some Catholic sanctuary where some kids saw Mary or something. Got VERY lost getting out of Lisbon but got to drive around allot - it was all very pretty and I definitely enjoyed the trip. Oh, and the Spanish / Portuguese border was manned by an automated tollbooth. Really glad to see the Spanish aren't taking the paranoid road to counter-terrorism and posting machine gun armed military everywhere.

So. Now I'm back in Madrid and basically figuring out what to do next. I've actually got a couple of solid leads on teaching jobs - both by dumb luck, but I'm not sure if I want either. One is teaching English to grade 10 at a Catholic boy's school (my mom put a good word in with god and the Catholic mafia sprang into action) and the other is at the more typical English Language places.

Thing is... other than the free rent, I don't really want to stay in Madrid. My parents are great really, but living here I think would wear thin sooner rather than later.

So I'm going to see about these two jobs and maybe take one if it's offered (if the money is good) or head on to Barcelona. If I take the Catholic one, it would only be to the end of the school year, so around two months - basically I'd be helping kids with some major English exam that matters for University entrance. So that's tempting - get a little experience and then maybe move on.

With the other one... if they want me to sign a contract I think I'll pass. Staying in Madrid for a couple of months, even until the end of the summer would be ok... beyond that... we'll see. If they offer me a short term contract or just a position... maybe. It's more the type of teaching that I want to do, and again, a little experience before I try my luck in Barcelona or Prague might be useful.

Anyway, that's pretty much everything that's happened so far. I'm well, relaxed, happy and generally just enjoying life. Feel free to drop me the occasional email and if by some random chance you're going to end up on this continent, drop me a line and we'll meet up somewhere.
User Journal

Journal Journal: Super Powers and Achilles Heels (Or Stupid Decisions)

Hrrrm. Damn damn damn. Everyone has a super power, and everyone has an Achilles heel. I firmly believe this. People have been absolutely astounded by my ability to bend bureaucracies to my whim. Secretaries in other cities who have never met me before have made lunchtime trips to post offices for me. Clerks and bureaucrats let me bend or even break rules, jump lines and will actively coach me on beating the system - and then later ask me my name. Admin assistants will re-jigger boss's schedules to accommodate me and all too often requisite fines, fees, penalties or other tariffs are waved. I've spoken to more Corporate CEOs than some of the CEOs that I've spoken to. So there you have it - my super power. Not as dramatic as leaping tall buildings in a single bound, but excellent for accessing the offices in that building for often trivial reasons.

So that's my super power. What is my Achilles heel? Being a romantic. Maybe they're related - maybe it's my innate romanticism that endears me to secretaries and office workers alike. But I'm a helpless romantic and I'm prone to doing stupid things when under the influence of an intoxicating idea.

So I met this girl on Friday night. I've never been to Prince Edward Island - but after a couple of days here on business I'm in love with the place. The people are friendly and approachable, and don't just say hello on the street but actually stop and talk to you. Beautiful women in the bar actually talk to you and seem delighted to do it and convenience store clerks ask you your name. Now me, I'm like that all the time. I love getting to know strangers and drawing people into conversations are bus stops but I'm used to being the exception, not the rule.

So, I'm at the bar, a nice little place called "St. James Gate" and meeting women, talking to other guys there, dancing a little and generally having a good time. Then this girl walks up and she basically became the rest of the night. She quoted Shakespeare, she kick-boxes, she got me to tell her embarrassing stories about myself... she's a vegetarian, an animal lover, a secular humanist, politically a lefty, smart as a whip, pretty and totally my type physically. And she really liked me too.

I asked her for her number, she gave it to me. I called the next day, left a message, she called back and we had lunch yesterday. Even sober we get along. We love all the same authors and damn if she wasn't prettier in the light of day. It was totally out of character for me, but I brought her a present - a book I knew she'd love but wouldn't have got for herself.

So, I'm seeing her tonight... and that's it.

Tomorrow, I fly back to Toronto and she stays here in Charlottetown. She finishes her veterinary science degree over the next few months and moves to Australia for a teaching job there. I am planning on quitting my job and moving to Korea. (Leaving a lucrative computer security job to go teach English... romantic yet probably stupid decisions...)

And yet...

Damn me. I want to find a way to get this woman into my life. What do I do... try to transfer within my company to Australia... possible but highly unlikely. Come here for a couple of months before I move to Korea... and do what exactly to eat? But damn, I feel a stupid decision coming on and I don't know what it is.

But I know my heart, and I know that if I don't somehow try to at least see if something was there, I'll fantasize about this girl for years. I'll day dream about her, wonder where she is... and I'll constantly kick myself for not having tried to figure out some way to not let her... slip away. Sigh.

Super powers and Achilles heels. Oh well.
User Journal

Journal Journal: Stupid ISP

Ok. Lately I've been getting this intermittent Banned IP message from home whenever I try to log into /. I know that it's the proxy that my ISP forces us to connect through but I've been having no luck what so ever getting my ISP to look into it. I'm almost positive someone on my ISP is running some idiotic bot, or perhaps someone's box has been cracked and is running one remotely.

But it's making it almost impossible to surf /. from home and it's getting annoying. /. has become part of my web routine: logon, check /., check Salon, check ALDaily, check whatever it is that I logged on for, email and then log off. Not the end of the world that I can't stoke my nerdly fires, but it's annoying.
User Journal

Journal Journal: /. Messages 1

I've been thinking of toying with my message preferences lately. I have a couple of people on my friends lists who are prolific journal writers who have the amazing ability to write ABSOLUTELY NOTHING worth reading.

I like their posts, I like their views when I see their messages in story threads but I feel like I've just encountered one more bit of spam in my life when they post to their journals with something totally innane.

But I like reading other friend's journals and always take the time out to read them when I can. So what I need is some sort of Slashdot message moderator system. Or something. Or maybe I should just get back to work.

Slashdot Top Deals

Your fault -- core dumped