Archive for Rants and Raves

So you thought Ionic Air Purifiers were good for you? Think Again!

So you thought Ionic Air Purifiers were good for you? Think Again! We were going to buy a Brookstone Pure-Ion Advanced Air purifier, but after this, I am having second thoughts. Though the Consumer Reports article does not address the “new” Ozone reducing qualities of the new Brookstone, I would still need to find some more reading material on this. I am thinking of getting the Friedrich C-90A or the Friedrich C-90B instead. Much better air movement, much cleaner air, cheap filters and a great product overall.

There are two others in the market that I would also like to know more about. The first is the Biofresh Air Purifier from Mitsubishi and the second is from a company called Air Oasis, the Air Oasis 1000. I wish I could just buy all of them and return the ones that I don’t like. But since that is not possible, I will have to settle for one. From everything I have read so far, I am still leaning towards the Friedrich because of its solid construction, but the Biofresh does have its benefits.

Google GLAT – Are you the next Google Idol??

I tried, with some apathy, and then decided I did not stand a chance. Try your hand at Google’s new Game Show. I understand trying to recruit over achievers. I understand trying to grab the cream of the crop. I understand wanting to employ geniuses. I understand someone wanting to be the best and grabbing the brains to do so from a crop of computers nerds willing to jump through fire to get there. I understand the theory that clever people will make a clever company more successful. I had WANTED to work for Google myself, dazzled and confuzzled by the glitz, glory and the Roasted Eggplant Medallions on the lunch menu. But I have to say that Google is a little misguided. If everyone is a genius, if every employee has an IQ of 125 or above, if every employee has to be Ivy League educated or has to have invented Cold Fusion (not the scripting language either) or written the “primary resource textbook you used in graduate school” to be qualified, Google must be a “fun” place to work. Sour grapes (from Aesop’s Fables), I know.

But, to be really honest, I would rather work for a company TO make it successful than work for a company that IS successful (this idea comes from a thread at /.). Then again, this kind of crap gives them publicity (like I am giving them right now) and maybe thats what they were after. Who knows what those genius people think?

I f…ing hate Micro$oft!

My desktop was running just fine with Windows XP and the normal crud of software. Nothing changed on it, nothing was replaced, nothing was taken out or added. All I did was reboot the computer after Windows XP did its ritualistic upgrade day before yesterday. Ever since then I have had the computer freeze after a few hours of inactivity. My mistake was to try and fix the damn error. I looked through the event viewer to find some SCSI timeout errors from my Ultra100tx Promise controlled for my 160GB drive. It had started occurring right after the latest set of updates.
Well, I figured that if the updates are the cause of the problem, I will back them out and life will be good again. I was wrong. No backing out of these updates, heck the accounting of these upgrades are shoddy within the OS. “Thank God for the System Restore”, I thought to myself. I had of course, counted my chickens before they hatched! System Restore did exactly nothing to solve the problem.
Hmmm. So, the code problem is not reversible. I will have to do something drastic. I looked through the driver database on my computer and noticed that the driver for the card was over three years old. I decided to look through Promises’ website for updates and Googled the problem. Apparently, a bunch of other people have had the same issue with a Win2ksp3 upgrade. Maybe this is a driver incompatibility with a Windows Upgrade? But Promises’ website is down, for two days!! I find an older (older than the latest, newer than mine) driver and install it on my computer with my fingers crossed. Reboot.
Long story short, I my desktop will not boot now, not even in safe mode, not even in safe mode command prompt. Now I am faced with the dillemma that either the card, or the physical drive, or the card and the drive, or the driver, or the windows update or ALL of these things are bad. Do i spend two hours reinstalling Windows XP and copying hundreds of gigs of data around only to find that the problem was not solvable with the present hardware anyways? Do I go and buy a new motherboard/processor (with an onboard IDE that can handle > 130GB) and get around the driver issue? There goes my freakin weekend!!

My laptop will save the day (again!) for the time being. Is the extra dough for the 1MB cache on the Pentium 4 worth it? Any mobo suggestions?

H-1B visa limit for 2005 already reached | CNET News.com

H-1B visa limit for 2005 already reached | CNET News.com: Wow!

Those little bathroom paper towels

I feel like I have to vent about this stupidity that takes place everyday.

You know those small folded over bathroom paper towels that you use everyday? Those are folded over for a reason. If you patiently unfold them and THEN use them to wipe your hands (face and anything else) you will not need to take a hundred of them and lather your hands (and finally the waste basket) with them. If your hands and your face get wet enough and are big enough to require any more than 10 such peices of paper, you might want to consider carrying your own beach towel to work!

While I am on the subject, if you feel the need to bring a toilette kit to work and bathe yourself in the office sink after work everyday, you too must consider seeking some professional help. A tinkle does not require a bubble bath (especially for men) and cleanliness does not mean ten pumps from the soap dispenser and a complete rinse down of all your exposed parts. This is especially true for those that sneak off without a wash when no-one is looking; either extreme is uncouth. Plus, as an addendum, shaving in the office sink is just not done. Period. I know I keep rambling, but if you also happen to spray everywhere (by any excretion means), clean up your crap. The next poor sap that wants to use the bathroom might not like the sh*t stains on his ass nor does he want to be smelled suspiciously by his dog when he gets home.

Oh, and courtesy flushes are nice.

This has to be a record!

In the last 3 days I have received over 300 emails, NONE of which are legitimate and yet I have kept upto date on my work, friends and family.

Methinks the email medium is silently becoming inconsequential.

Loser

I received an email a couple of days ago from someone called “Ajay Rao”. His name told me that he was Indian and his English comprehension completely gave it away. Unlike the Nigerian scams, this I thought was a little more legitimate. He said that if I would send him an Orkut invitation, he would send me a Gmail invitation in exchange. Even if I am turned off from Gmail and really dont care for one anymore, I agreed to send him an Orkut invite. He accepted my invitation.

That was the last I heard of and from him. I have sent him two emails since our first exchange. The first email was to let him know that the orkut invite has been sent and the second email was sent three days later. You can imagine what the second email was about.

Instead of making deals that he could not complete, he should have just asked me for an Orkut invite and I would have gladly sent one his way. No biggie. But instead, he decided to use deception.

So if you hear from someone called Ajay Rao from ajayrao@gmail.com , ignore his sorry a**. *To all of you would be adulterers*, quit trying to fool people into giving you crap. If you dont have it and really want it, ask for it instead of trying to steal it. This is not candy in your mom’s hamper anymore. This kind of tomfoolery *will* come back and bite you where the sun dont shine!

Movie theatres too loud?

Is it just me or are movie theatres turning on the volume recently? Jennifer and I, along with my parents and a bunch of other people went to see Shrek 2 last night. The theatre was relatively empty (which might have added to the loudness) but we sat down in about the center of the theatre. The first few ads were *incredibly* loud. I do not like loud noises and tend to get panic attacks. It almost felt like I was getting one (at Shrek, nonetheless!!) Once the movie started, either they reduced the volume or the movie itself was more condusive to softer noises, but I settled down for a little. It did, however, take away from my movie experience. I wonder if this is a problem that a lot of other people face? Am I just one in the crowd?

PS: Shrek 2 is a relatively fun movie. I think the addition of contemporary imagery reduced the appeal of the movie a little, but I give it an 8

Reasons for Oldsmobile’s Demise

Jennifer, my girlfriend, owns a 2003 Oldsmobile Alero which was a steal. The car looked nice and compact, it was nice and responsive and came with a lot of bells and whistles. When she had purchased the car, Oldsmobile was touting low prices and low interest rates to compnesate for their eventual demise. However, they had mentioned something in their commercials over and over again which did not strike me as strange at that time. They kept (and still do) talking about how they would provide service and parts for their vehicles well after Oldsmobile is officially no more. I now understand why parts and service are so important.

That is because the latest Oldsmobiles are very poorly made. Period. As a simple example, here is what is happening with Jennifer’s car right now. I had (stupidly) pulled out the bench rear seats to put on a seat cover and had expected the seats to fit back in their slots once I was done with the covers (just like any other car that I have ever removed the seats on). Alas, that was not to be. I got one side to fit in snugly and the other side clip was just way too comlicated for a rocket scientist like moi. I tried many many different combinations for the clip and the rung that fits inside it. After failing miserably, I tried to pull up the side of the seat that had seemed to fit and in doing that, I broke off the other clip. I was left with one broken plastic clip, a loose seat and a sweat on my brow.

After resigning from the effort, I decided to invest in some literature on the car. However, I found out that Haynes has stopped making service manuals for Oldsmobiles that are built after 2000. That was not surprising in some ways. Next I decided that I should probably purchase the clip that I broke. No surprise that I cannot get that clip anywhere else but at the dealers’ or at a junkyard. I am dreading to think how much a couple of plastic clips are going to cost me, but that is news for another day.

Moral of the story is that before you buy an Oldsmobile, without taking my word for it, do yourself a favor and ask around. Ask Oldsmobile owners what they think of their cars and how well they have lasted. Even better yet, check out some reviews for Oldsmobiles on the web. You just might change your decision to purchase that particular brand of cars.

Blogroll the world

How many people do you have in your BlogRoll? How many of those people also show up in 20,000 other blogs from around the world?

I am sick and tired of everone using BlogRolls to list the same group of 20 people. I am sick of my own Blogroll. What is the point of seeing the same Simon Wilson, the Mark Pilgrim and the Dave Winer on every blog that everyone visits? Does a link on a blogroll (that everyone already seen, 20,000 times over) make you well read? Quit with the famous people. Start putting stuff (and removing old, crappy, extremely cliche’d ones) in there that no-one else has visited before or at least has not heard about yet. I want to add special interest blogs in my blogroll. I wish more people would do the same so a blogroll becomes an actual source of browsing direction rather than being a loooooonnnngg and booooring list of links that no-one ever looks at.

I am about to modify this design as soon as the new version of WordPress is out and I promise that I will only put the most unpopular blogs in my roll! I will make it so that
- the blogroll is NOT the longest part of my blog
- the blogroll is a browsing tool and not a useless bunch of junk
- expresses my eclectic tastes in blog browsing
- increases readership for the people on my blogroll (and they actually care)

Microsoft Word sucks dirty donkey balls!!!

Microsoft Word fucking sucks ass!! I am so sick and tired of trying to coax this fucking program to do simple word processing tasks. I cannot believe that microsoft word makes it so difficult to have different page number formats for different pages, and does not fucking allow the modification of footnote formats beyond a certain point!! There is simply now way to have different footnote formats. Period. You COULD break down your 200 page document into itty bitty (and buggy) sections to TRY to change the page numbering schema, but good luck when you do that (and save everything) because your document might suddenly become 400 pages long without any warning!!

I cannot believe that a billion dollar company like Microsoft, putting out “top of the line word processing software” makes such a shitty product and everyone continues to use the damn thing!!

I dont like Latex that much either and now that I have come this far in writing my thesis, I really cannot turn back. A word of advice to all that are trying to write some serious documentation (anything greater than 20 pages) using Microsoft Word, Fucking Forget It!!! Start using some other word processor right from the beginning and you will be saved a LOT of frustration later on!!

Things I hate about Microsoft Word (not listing everything, that would take up all day!):

    Page number formatting
    Lack of referencing schemas
    Lack of control over “automatic features”
    Twenty thousand temporary copies of your document
    Page break mechanism
    The built-in drawing package
    The lack of a good equation editor
    Lack of contemporary formatting ideologies
    The twenty thousand “viewing modes”
    Exceptionally bad inter-Microsoft Office collaboration
    HUGE file sizes (my 200 page thesis is 3 MB!!)
    I HATE the auto-correct feature!!
    Auto-page formatting is sucky!
    Heck, Auto-EVERYTHING is sucky!!!

Among other things…

I am SO getting rid of Word when I am done with my thesis!!!

Forum BB Email-List Etiquette

I have long had a pet peeve with forums and discussion boards. People simply do not pay attention!!

There are a few simple rules that should be adhered to with every forum/BB posting (if you want your questions looked at/answered)

Numero Uno: Please search the forum first to see if your question has already been answered. Many people that want to answer your question will simply ignore it if your question has been answered succintly and the problem solved in the recent past. Almost every (caveat) forum has a stupid search button for just that purpose! The same questions appear over and over again, albeit with ridculous disclaimers like “Sorry if this is a repeat post, I was too lazy to look it up so I am posting again and again and again. Sorry again, please forgive me. I am new to all of this.” Who cares? It is common sense to look for a search and see if you can find what you need. About 7 calories…TOPS!

Numero Dos: Provide ALL, I repeat, ALL information about your problem. This has been said over and over again but does not seem to sink in. If you are getting a “Run Time Error”, simply mentioning that there is a run time error gives people no clue. (of course, if you are using Windows as a Desktop OS, try changing that first!) Give supporting information, people. If this is a web app, say you are using Internet Explorer, this is the URL of your app, the version number, what created the problem, what you think the problem might be. A single line post like “freaky error, very interesting, HELP HELP HELP” reminds me of my physics advisor in college. If you expect someone to spend time reading your post and find some more time to help you out, your one liner will get ignored. You dont care enough to type some words, people dont care enough to answer your questions! Please post code, links to stuff, information, browser, OS, server and anything else you deem pertinent. There can never be too much information in a BB question.

Numero Tres: If you are seeking help, or “participating in the community” in any way (such as submitting bugs, providing feedback, announcing your engagement to Elmo) QUIT BEING A FREAKING TROLL! Any community that you feel that strongly against, you should not be visiting anyways! In real life, that kind of action would land you in jail and worse, land you a job as someone’s princess! Come on. If you dislike something or someone that much, move on, go somewhere else. If you kick someone in the nuts, how do you expect them to turn around and help you get off your lazy ass? Trolls are unappreciated. Period.
PS: And if you think posting as anonymous is protecting you, think again. If you are connected to the Internet and are not posting “telepathically”, you are traceable and quite vulnerable (unless of course, you use an Amiga, then I give up!)

Numero Quatro: If you dont like an answer, instead of being a jackass, be respectful. Ignore it if the answer was a troll. That is hard to do, I concede. But that behaviour is necessary. Trolling is an occupation for many people (spammers). Your retort, however, can poison the discussion and the end result is that you dont get the answer you obviously wanted.

Numero Canc: Unless you are going to add ANYTHING to the dicussion, dont add to it! Sounds obvious doesn’t it? One liners that say “me too! I wish this would work!” are useless. Leave them out! They add traffic and confusion and people that want to help, are turned off by them. So if you want an answer to your question (and no-one has answered yet), leave it alone and check back in a few. Give it a few days. Rest your hiney. If there is no answer in a few days, then try your 2 bits. In extreme cases when you just cannot wait (not because you are itching to get your porn dialer working before you roommate, but more pressing reasons such as your pet rock dieing!!) find an IRC channel or email one of the people from the forum asking for quick help.

Numero Six: “Thank you” or “worked great, thanks for the response” are, on the other hand, welcome and greatly appreciated. Even people that help out on forums, BBs and email lists need feedback and a good pat on the back is always welcomed! Give some thanks for heaven’s sake. If you got your little doodad to work, go back to the forum that helped you and tell them that it worked well. Threads and emails that are left hanging add to the traffic of the forum but never authenticate the solution, leading to redundant posts (see Numero Uno). Spend another 7 calories, hit your back arrow a couple of time, and tell people that the solution suggested worked (or failed as the case may be, failed ones come back though) Dont be selfish. People are spending their time helping you, give some back.

Oh Yes. And PLEASE READ THROUGH THE POSTS THOROUGHLY. The answer is, many times, ignored and the question posted again and again.

Forums are like P2P (Kazaa, Bearshare etc. Free for all file sharing). If you dont give, dont expect a lot in return!

Of colon cancer, Delhi Belly and Netsky.C@mm

First things first.

Did you know that colon cancer in human beings can be averted by taking regular trips to a “third world country” such as India and or anywhere in the Midlle or Far East? I find it very interesting for very personal reasons, but the diarrhea bug might prevent colon cancer! The toxins produced by this bug (Jennifer will know the inside scoop, I’m sure!) prevent the DNA of cells in the stomach and colon lining from being damaged. Not surprisingly, this study was funded by a major “stomach drug manufacturer”. Interesting stuff! Now to take more trips back home to India so I can grab a healthy handful of E-Coli on my way back!

On second note, there is another BIG virus (really a worm) out. It was discovered the day before. The various virus scanner manufacturers came out with fixes and scanner updates for this virus yesterday. This one is not as nasty in terms of destructiveness, but it sure spreads like wildfire. Why do people still click on attachments when they are not expecting one? (The university, Im sure, is flooded today) Please, please, please do not click on an attachment when you are not expecting to get one. As a matter of fact, if you get one, send an email reply to the person asking them if they really sent you something to look at. Otherwise, if remotely suspicious of the attachment, please hold down the shift key, and delete it.
This virus is dangerously close to the “Super Virus” that I have been talking about. There has been a lot of chatter on IRC of a “script” that does everything that every “successful” virus has done so far. The delay in the release in due to the size of the darn file. So this virus war is only going to get worse. Click here for more information on W32.Netsky.C@mm worm and removal tools (free) for the same.

Top 20 ways to screw with Spammers

I had a hardcore spammer visit my site today. He/She registered on my site, wrote a LONG entry and even included a link to a valid email (along with the link to his site) He even posted the entry twice! Now thats dedication! Consequently, registered users are not allowed to blog anymore. :( If you register, and would like to write something on my blog, send me an email and I will elevate your priviledges. No-one has done that yet, so it safe to say I am not offending anyone.

That leads me to the topic of this post. I have been needled by spammers enough (through my blogs and through email) that I am pissed. Though my anger is directed at spammers, I am not vicious. I just want them to *reduce* their propensity. Thus, this post comes with a disclaimer. This is a parody, not to be taken seriously or considered to be an attack of any sort on anyone. Please take it with a grain of salt.

So here are the top 20 ways to screw with a Spammer

1) Dont have an online identity. Delete all your email accounts, remove your blog/personal website and request that all your communication be sent to you sans-Internet. I know, not possible, but an Utopian thought.

2) This is where the screwing starts. To play with the spam in your email, install a program called MailWasher. This program sends back an “email address not valid” email (fashioned after a sendmail reject message) back to the spammer’s email address. It also looks through published blacklists for the spam domain and if not present, adds the domains to those blacklists. Good program.

3) Respond to the really interesting ones (not really suggested, but fun nonetheless). Tell the Nigerian dude how interested you are in their scheme and give them all kinds of information about you. I told one guy that I was a Maharaja’s son and needed to get rid of my camel herd (pronto, before my father realized I was not living in the palace anymore) so that I could purchase the Trump Tower here in the US. I asked him for his business advice.

4) Signing up for stuff with your email address is a norm. However, you can fashion your email address to figure out which sites sell their lists. Here is how to do it. If my email address was email@domain.com, I would add email+egghead@domain.com when I signup with my email at egghead.com. That way, if you get spam with email+egghead@domain.com, you know which site “lost” your address. Dont worry, most email servers parse this information correctly, as long as the first part of your address is maintained aong with the domain name. Once you know who is selling their lists (in spite of their disclaimers), they are fair game.

5) Ask spammers if they have an opt-in list and if you could signup in all their lists for $1000 a year. Give them ALL your one hundred email addresses. Then you can retire to Maui like you always wanted to.

6) Disable HTML parsing of your emails on your email client. Spammers sometimes keep track of succesful reads (of an email) through embedded code.

7) Be creative. Create HoneyPot email addresses. Spammers need to eat too. Create lots of free email addresses and click on all links that appear in Spam sent to those addresses. Then set all email in those accounts to be deleted automatically. (If you signup for free email addresses, Spam reception is automatic)

8) This one always amuses me. Been used before, but still funny. Let your 3 year old write a letter to Santa and send it to all your spammers. They will appreciate the knowledge of what is popular with kids these days.

9) Moving onto blog spam. Use a blog tool that allows some form of comment moderation or at least has a hack or plugin for comment moderation (WordPress comes to mind :))

10) Write a small script (or ask someone to write it for you, should be relatively simple) to read through comment spam, parse the links and backtrack those links to find email addresses. Then the script should be configured to email the spammers and ask for remuneration (to be paid before display of the comments) for each link displayed on your blog. This script could also be used for email spam.

11) Openly display your desire to sell “link space” on your blog. If you got it, flaunt it.

12) Once in a while, discuss extremely “spammy” subjects. I love talking about Xenical and Viagra. Of course, cheap Xanax is a must. Trackback and pingback back and forth between your blogger friends about these posts. Gotta love Cheap Prescription Drugs from Canada!

13) Write a little script that takes each spam comment and mangles the links in those comments. Then make them show up as HTML comments in your blog instead of real ones. Even better, make them show up as real comments with the links off by a few characters. Once the links are rewritten, draw attention of spammers to those comments. “This site is a real gem, look at what they have to sell. Good job!!”

14) Write a little cookie on every computer that posts a spam comment. Put the spam comment in the cookie. Check for the cookie everytime you load comments and add the spam comment to your comments list. Spammers now see their own comment even though it really does not display.

15) Heck, write a script which adds a couple of spam comments for every post. It will become second nature to see all blogs with comments like “abracadabra google fuss –X-Eni*cal V*iGr_a treats girl undo quang foo document”. The links in those comments are, of course, fashioned from your list of blogger friends. Spammers see an overflow of existing spam, move on to the next blog (or not).

16) Get a plugin for your blog that, upon finding a spam comment, asks for a paypal donation. MicroPayment baby!!

17) Setup lots and lots of free blogs and DONT install any spam protection on any but your main blog. Use a cross posting tool to post to all your blogs. Give spammers something to sink their teeth into!

18) Spammers can make for good content too. If your blog is new, encourage spammers. They use keywords which are VERY attractive to search engines. Imagine setting up a blog and within a couple of weeks, receiving hundreds of hits from people looking for intravenous Viagra.

19) Their is always “recreational spam browsing”. Gotta love that sport. I spied my father doing that. Spam comments make for excellent web browsing (when insanely bored)

20) And finally (drum roll please….) add spammers to your address book, routinely. That way, if and when (tomorrow) the next email virus hits, your spammers will be thankful to know that your email address is valid.

Elitist geek crap from disrespectful, whiny, annoying and arrogant “coders” and tech “professionals”

My extreme disdain for elitism in any form can be traced back to my roots in a country that was enslaved by the British for over 200 years. The British considered themselves to be so much better than the natives that they posted “Dogs and Indian not allowed” signs all over the public places within India during their rule. We still have those signs around to remind us of the pitfalls of elitism and respect our painful past.

I have recently come across quite a few articles and forum discussions that are just supremely elitist. “Because we can ….(insert technical/code/engineering jargon here) we are better than the next person just does not know about our crap.” Let me clear the air here. You are full of horse sh*t. If you think you are so much better than the person you are looking down upon, you my friend, are really mistaken. Just because you know a little more about something, does not make you the best there ever was. In addition, there are LOTS of people that know more than you do and do not rub your nose into the ground for being a dumbass. You were as clever as the next baby when you were born and probably still are very childish. You have never learnt to get along with people and this sudden shriking stream of knowledge that has managed to squeeze in between the beer and the pictures of women/men has grabbed your wild and perverted imagination. If you think your little square inch of knowledge makes you an “elite”, you are nothing but a fool.

This quote embodies the quest for knowledge and the humility that should surround the process.

I do not know what I may appear to the world; but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me. — Isaac Newton (1642-1727)

We are all human beings, some a little better off than others. Communities, friendship and brotherhood are the only anecdotes to our daily drudgery and fight for survival. There are only a few qualities in another human that I consider commendable and laudable. Humility, attempt at service unto others and respect for others, are on the top of that list. If respect for others is beneath your radar, your pomposity should only be rewarded with the same medicine that you dish out to others. People, get over it, you are not that much better than anyone else!

If you STILL consider yourself to be an elite AND a big bag of chips (which you probably still do, arrogant people are like that) please DO NOT put down others that are trying to be helpful to others. Your opines are not solicited and your animosity towards us “normal, lowly people” is unwelcome and unappreciated. So go be an elitist geek somewhere else, please.