March 31, 2007

Requesting A Miracle

There is a Marine in need of a miracle. Prayers, thoughts, vibes... anything you can put forth on his behalf. Here is the beginning of the story.

Blackfive tells us, his situation is critical.

DJ's Status: Both his legs have been amputated and are infected. DJ's stomach wound is infected and can't be closed until the infection is gone. And his kidneys are not working still...

DJ's Sergeant Major, Joseph Ellis, died trying to protect DJ...because DJ was worth it.

Matt is also asking us...

Email this message to your friends and families. Ask them to have their churches, synagogues, or mosques to offer prayers for DJ.

A miracle would be a wonderful thing. There are too few in the world - so let's pray for one now.

Posted by: Teresa in Military at 02:20 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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March 30, 2007

The Bad Example Family Call

Well, even though she couldn't make the call... Michele made it possible for a bunch of us to get together and chat.

I guess we ran out of time because the call suddenly ended... but it was fun while it lasted. Tammi, Richmond, Oddybobo, wRitErsbLock, Lemon Stand, Mrs. Who and _Jon (yes, I linked to your blog... so get it back up again!)... in the phone-in blog meet.

And Michele was worried we'd run out of things to talk about... the only problem was trying not to have too many talking at once.

Posted by: Teresa in FUN at 05:12 PM | Comments (7) | Add Comment
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March 29, 2007

A Geek... To Be or Not To Be

Over at Venomous Kate's she has a short and to the point post about being your own geek.

Apparently, some sort of manual has been found, the claim being that it's a Geek Squad repair manual. Which is available at the link as a download.

Naturally sarcastic comments abound, criticizing the simplicity and idiocy of the manual. I didn't bother to even look at it... what's the point? It's noted to be at least 2 years out of date (via a commenter or two) plus, I have no way of knowing whether it's the "real deal" or if it's someone poking a bit of fun at Geek Squad.

The thing I noted, as per usual with the geekier set, the eternally annoying insistence that "you can Do It Yourself"... it's sooo easy.

Excuse me while I heave a deep disgusted sigh right about now.

After having helped people along the way and over the years with their computer woes, I can tell all the geeks out there right now... People Don't Want To Do It Themselves. They DON'T WANT TO... Period. No amount of "but it's easy" no amount of "just follow the directions" is going to change their minds. They want it to be like a car. You get in, start it, it goes.

Computers are following along in the path that automobiles took in their evolution.

First you had those who built cars from scratch - the inventors and hobbyists. They knew every piece and how it fit. They could jury-rig anything and make it work. They loved getting down and dirty working on the machines to make them go. Any amount of trouble was worth it.

Then cars started to move into everyday life. Those driving them had to know a bit about them so they could keep them going. Maybe getting into the engine and messing about with the carburetor so the engine would run better, changing the oil, that sort of thing.

Now things have evolved to the point that most people don't ever even look under their own hood to check anything. They take it to someone and have all the work done. Even though there are still people who like nothing better than tearing apart a car and rebuilding it, they are no longer the bulk of car owners.

Unfortunately, computers have not evolved to the point where they can just "go" with only the occassional tweak from the computer fixit person. We're still in the "tween" stage where a computer owner has to do actual upkeep on the system. The problem is, 99% of them don't want anything to do with it and of those 99% - most are scared to death they'll break something if they even look at it wrong, much less try to fix it. There are also a percentage who simply do not understand how computers work - and they don't want to. They have specific activities they perform and they leave the rest alone. (trying to talk one of these people through even the simplest task is a daunting experience - a tip for dealing with them... speak Greek, they'll understand you better)

There is also the time factor. Every time a geek starts talking about making a little "fix" on your computer - just assume you're in for hours - if not days - of fun. (if they say the words "piece of cake" - run away... far and fast). You see, most people just don't have the time to work on their computer. Even people who know what they are doing - cringe at the thought of lost weekends trying to make something work right.

This is why groups like The Geek Squad and Fire Dog along with many individually owned businesses are gaining traction. We've left behind the days where everyone who owned a computer was a geek... now we have regular people with busy lives. They'd rather have their weekends available for relaxing after a hard work week. They don't want to be crouched over a computer keyboard trying to figure out why the damned thing won't boot and then suddenly will, but looks odd...

So for all you sneering geeks out there - remember, just because you don't mind sitting in front of a computer 24/7, does not mean the rest of the world is stupid because they'd prefer to be doing something else instead. And for heaven sake please give up the - DIY. Look for those who express an interest - work with them. Leave the others alone or you will be required to go to your car, pull the engine block, and machine the cylinders before you can check your email... I'm just sayin'...

Posted by: Teresa in WebTech at 05:45 PM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
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March 28, 2007

One of Those Days...

Yep... it was.

I'm going to go finish watching a Boston Blackie movie - they're fun and I need to let my brain veg along with letting my shoulders uncramp.

Posted by: Teresa in Ho-Hum at 05:00 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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March 27, 2007

24 - Jumps the Shark and Lands on a Whale

None of this is fit for above the fold... sad but true. more...

Posted by: Teresa in Television at 04:35 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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I Think I Must Agree

From Tech Daily Dose we have the winner of the first You Tube Video Awards:

The big winners of the first YouTube Video Awards were the four members of OK Go, a Chicago-based rock band that rode eight treadmills to Internet stardom last year -- literally. The music video for the band's hit song "Here It Goes Again" took home the trophy in the "Most Creative" category. The video, which featured OK Go performing a dance routine on a fleet of running treadmills, has been viewed more than 13 million times.

So, for the first time, I'm going to put up a You Tube vid.

I'm sure most of you have seen it - if not (or even if you have...) - Turn up the volume and Enjoy!

Hat Tip Instapundit

Posted by: Teresa in FUN at 12:27 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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March 26, 2007

Data Privacy? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Data Privacy!

Apparently no one does in the state of Massachusetts.

Not too long ago I blogged about our esteemed Governor and his continuous missteps. While these earlier problems show a certain "tone deaf" attitude toward the voters of the state, most of them weren't much more than very bad publicity.

Today, the Governor has managed to make a huge leap over bad publicity and even questionable phone call judgment, right on into giving out private information on voters.

What grace! What finesse! It's an art I tell you!

Governor's Web Site Reveals Voters' Home Addresses

Team 5 Investigates Janet Wu discovered that when people register to participate, it discloses their home address as listed in the Massachusetts voter database. Wu found that anyone could enter a name and a town and find the street address for any registered voter. For some searches, unpublished phone numbers were revealed.

Apparently the Secretary of State William Galvin is worried and has asked the Governor to take the site down... This was the response:

"It's information that's publicly available from your city, your city hall, your local voter registration, " said Liz Morningstar of the Deval Patrick Committee.

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Morningstar said if anyone has a complaint to lodge, she welcomes them to go online and register their concerns, but she said the campaign has no intention of taking down the new page.

Poor Ms. Morningstar, I see she can't understand why anyone would be upset about their little web site - it's supposed to bring people closer together! I believe she thinks we should be thanking her. Sadly I get the impression she would have said "screw you" if she thought she could get away with it. The above answers were just a little more politically correct. After all, we're just making her job difficult over nothing!

I notice they've got the Massachusetts Voter Database. This in itself raises all kinds of questions. But the first issue is - privacy. I went to the Deval Patrick site and after a bit of looking, I found the log in site which is here. This is the "disclaimer" on the page:

www.devalpatrick.com believes strongly in protecting people's privacy. Data on this site is limited to ONLY data that is now publicly available at any number of locations, including city and town halls, and websites. The site further limited data today by eliminating specific street address numbers [emph mine--ed].

It should be noted that in just a few days since this site went live, citizens from all across the state have connected with each other about issues in a way that was never available to them easily before. There are citizens discussing education funding, renewable energy, tax policy and other issues. In some cases, local, elected officials have posted their opinions and feedback as well. We think this is an exciting new chapter in civic engagement.

Yeah, that's some civic engagement. Very noble of them to remove street numbers - it must make them feel all warm and civic minded that they've really "done something". And yes, you might say there could be some people getting together in new and exciting ways...

Team 5 Investigates entered the name of a woman with a restraining order against a stalker. Her full address popped up on the Patrick campaign Web site.

Gives new meaning to the term excitement doesn't it.

If you click the button to Create an account you get the following:

Two boxes - the first to enter your name and phone number, the second to enter your town. Then there are instructions for what to do if your name doesn't come up:

Search tips:

* If you've moved in the last year, try your old town or home phone.
* Try your full FIRST and LAST names, as it would appear on your Passport for example. (Don't enter your middle name or initial, even if that's the name you usually go by.)
* Try just your LAST name.

Therefore, anyone can go searching through the database to find names, addresses, phone numbers (even unlisted phone numbers)... how nice.

But hey! It's public data, so suck it up Massachusetts residents - everyone knows everything about you anyway and Deval is only trying to make your life better, just ask him.

But Galvin said he believes this is the only Web site where every Massachusetts voter's name is publicly available on one database. The database was purchased by the Patrick committee from a private vendor.

Well, well, well, they got the list from a private vendor, which means that the vendor got it from the State. I'm pretty sure even Illinois doesn't do this anymore. They stopped a few years ago when it became a big news story. I wonder how many voters here know that the State is making money selling their information. Interesting.

My other concern, how safe is the database that Deval has built? I'm not a web guru (much as I've been jick-jacking around with web stuff for the last few days). How much other data do they have on the back end? How do they keep it secure? I have to wonder, Is the site prone to SQL injection attack? Who on his staff has access and how is the access controlled? There are a multitude of questions.

Now the $100,000 question is: Why couldn't they simply let people create their own accounts - enter their own information and create passwords, etc? Why do they have to link a person logging in with a registered voter? Allowing people to leave their own information would be much safer for all concerned and poses far less of an issue as far as data privacy goes.

But never mind, it's public information. Deval isn't worried, so we shouldn't be either. Thanks Gov - we appreciate the concern you've shown.

Posted by: Teresa in Politics at 06:24 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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Give It A Pass

It seems that the up and coming craze is for some businesses to "market" themselves via spam emails... with the consent of the person holding the email box!

But the site has also grown due to its aggressive viral marketing practices that have raised the hackles of some potential users.

Such practices might include the automated selection of your email account's entire address book in order to send a Flixster invitation to all of your contacts.

But such practices are becoming increasingly more common as new and even established web sites look to attract visitors without expensive marketing campaigns and a hefty advertising budget.

How are they doing this?

Flixster is getting their AOL (and Hotmail, and Yahoo, and Gmail) passwords!

Read on.

Using AOL as an example, when you first sign up for Flixster using an AOL email address, after you select a username and password, the very next screen prompts you for your AOL password!

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Once you give them your password, they grab everyone’s email addresses from your AOL, Hotmail, Yahoo or Gmail address book, and spam them with the invitation. In your name using your email address.

And they access your AOL account before you ever get to the next step. Even though they make you feel as if you have complete control over the process by telling you “On the next page you will be able to select whom to invite”, they already have your contacts by that point.

Read the whole thing. Yet to me, the even more appalling thing is someone giving out their password to anything just to get on a particular website. Geeze!

Please people! No matter how much you want to "join" a site, no matter how good someone makes it sound, if ANY website asks you for a password to your email, if any site asks you for a password to ANYTHING other than creating one to access that site - LEAVE IMMEDIATELY!

Once you've given your password out - it takes only seconds for a bot to gain access and send out spam to everyone in your email list. Viola! You are now a spammer. Gee thanks a bunch!

Boycott any business that attempts these tactics. Email them and tell them why you'll never be at their site again. At least in this one minor way we all have a choice to stop some of the spam flowing through our inboxes every day.

Hat Tip: Slashdot

Posted by: Teresa in WebTech at 09:59 AM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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Get Your Bumper Sticker!

Oddybobo is running for judge and she's got bumper stickers for those who would like to contribute to her campaign! I'm getting one... how about you?

She is, after all, The Blogger's Choice! Oh yeah!

Posted by: Teresa in FUN at 08:04 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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March 25, 2007

Make Your Own Jeans

Not too long ago I was annoyed at my inability to find a pair of jeans that fit the way I wanted them to. I'm not going to go back and look for the post because I'm lazy... but blog sis Michele recommended an online site called makeyourownjeans.com.

I looked them up and then promptly got stuck... because I didn't have a tape measure - they were all lost in the big move across country. While I suppose measuring can be done with a string and a yardstick, I prefer to use a tape measure because of stretching issues with string. Plus, you don't want to measure wrong and end up with something that doesn't fit.

So, on March 9th, after finally finding a sewing store and procuring said tape measure, I ordered my first pair of jeans from them.

I measured very carefully - twice for every measurement. Went through placing the order which was slightly funky. The payment page is different from the order site so it was somewhat confusing. After making my payment, I ended up back at my order page with nothing to show me that I had ordered. But all was well, I received a "receipt" via email with all my order information (although it took a little time to get here - it's not instantaneous like Amazon but it does arrive).

On Friday (exactly 2 weeks after placing my order) my jeans arrived. They fit very well. I'm going to order a second pair. I'm not cloning these (which is an option they give you) as I want the next pair to be slightly longer than these.

Therefore, I can say I do highly recommend them if you have trouble finding jeans that fit. Just remember to NOT pull the tape measure too tight if you want them to have any roominess. If you like them tight then disregard that last statement. Measure carefully and you will have a pair of jeans you will love.

Posted by: Teresa in Life Stuff at 05:21 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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