I should post here once in awhile.

origami
Lessee, since I last posted, the survivalist gym went out of business, B&N hasn't (quite), though my mother has since gotten adept at stripping DRM from e- and audiobooks just so she could use them, and... um... that's about it.

Interesting niche.

origami
Local gym markets itself as a survivalist thing: "for those determined to outlive the worst."

I guess it's healthier than stockpiling guns, and unlike said guns you can reap benefits without needing society to collapse.

But in case of the actual "worst," my money's still on the dude with a cache of AK-47s.

Totally called it.

origami
Me, Friday: Apparently Barnes & Noble is going out of business
Guardian, today*: Barnes and Noble bookstore chain put up for sale

* Well, tomorrow because the Guardian is five hours in the future from here.

origami
At least, that's the only logical explanation I can come up with.

See, Mom has an ebook reader. She's had an audiobook reader before, so she's kinda familiar with how screwed-up DRM can be, and so she tries to be careful to buy things that are compatible.

She bought an ebook from Barnes & Noble. If you go to the web page for that ebook, it says "Works with any computer or mobile device." Well, that's pretty nifty. It comes with a sample chapter that does, in fact, read fine. Yay!

Except the bought-and-paid-for full version doesn't actually work with the Sony. There's a pale blue "Learn more" link next to the "Works with any" claim that, when you click on it, lists a few readers it works with. Oh, wait, apparently those are the *only* readers it works with. B&N points out that she can always sit and read it at the PC, and no, refunds are quite out of the question.

So why would a company so plainly say "Works with any" when it so plainly doesn't? That seems like a quick way to alienate e-customers for the future... unless, of course, one wasn't planning to have a future, and one wanted simply to "sell" as many things as possible whether they worked or not.

Hmm.

Surely not.

How to spam every SourceForge user

origami
Awhile back, I started getting emails from SourceForge. A lot of them, all of a sudden. All manner of Trac tickets and commits and suchlike. Huh, I sez to myself, I must be monitoring a project that just woke up. I was half right. I wasn't monitoring anything, but a project had woken up (or rather, newly moved to SourceForge).

Many, but not all, commits were attributed to... me. Really? I'm not even sure I'd know how to commit to an SVN repo; I use git exclusively.

I poked around a little more. Googling the project and my username turns up that someone in Germany uses that username on the project's own site. Still, weird that they'd be able to arbitrarily attribute stuff to me on SourceForge. So I submitted a ticket. After a bit of back-and-forth, SourceForge's assertion was that this was perfectly normal behavior; the project had simply imported an SVN repo that happened to overlap my username, and I'd just have to... ask them to stop. In this particular case, that part wasn't so much of a problem; the project folks (having seen me comment on it on Twitter) had already contacted me to apologize.

But because I write mailing-list stuff, I work in the mode of "How can a bad guy use this to spam?" on a regular basis. This case was pretty obvious, since I'd just gotten unsolicited email by accident. Not a big leap from there to "collect every SourceForge ID, then compose an SVN repo with a commit to 'overlap' each one, with spam text as the commit notes, import repo to SourceForge, let SF deliver spam at its leisure." Ouch.

I pointed this out to SF. SF's response was that they "hoped" I wasn't a spammer. My response was that I had to trust every other "developer" wasn't. Given the number of spams that go out to CPAN contributors, I assume that a community of developers is a highly desirable spam market. Developing a tool to spam SF would require a little bit of tech savvy, but I think it's a bit naive to "hope" it wouldn't be worth the effort. (Sadly, I suspect it would require much less effort on the spammers' part than solving the problem will on SF's part, and with considerably less return on investment. Such is the lot of the white hat.)

So I solved my part of the problem: I went into account settings, wiped all my own stuff out, and transferred my ten-year-old SourceForge account lock, stock, and barrel to the project that overlapped it. It's been a month now, so surely it's been fixed, right? Of course I don't have account access to check that ticket anymore, so I suppose I'll merely have to "hope."

Brain wiring

origami
So the Ballad of Serenity being played on the shuttle has been getting some mention on Twitter, and every time I see it, the wrong song pops into my head.

Specifically, The Unknown Stuntman, theme song to Fall Guy back in the 80's. At first, I thought the connection must be that they were both "Ballad of," but Wikipedia said the Fall Guy song actually isn't. I shrugged and attributed it to crazy brain wiring. Finally, after the line "When I wind up in the hay it's only hay, a-hey hey" went through my head for the zillionth time, I went to YouTube to listen to the whole darn thing in hopes of exorcising the earworm.

And then I discovered the connection.

End of the Firefly intro: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gaLPpKCC9pg#t=0m46s

End of the Fall Guy intro: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aw-GP1D6cdo#t=1m37s

A ha. Crazy. Brain. Wiring.

Deep fried grape-flavored butter.

origami
But not on a stick.

http://www.slashfood.com/2009/09/03/deep-fried-butter-to-hit-texas-state-fair/

New at the Kansas State Fair, on the other hand, are merely frozen pickle pops (not clear yet whether it's frozen pickle juice, a la PickleSickle, or actual pickles) and "giant turkey gizzards" (this is new?)

Pretty sure you'd have to drink a whole lot of beer-on-a-stick to appreciate grape- or cherry-flavored butter, though.

Tags:

Good news, bad news

origami
Good news: I collected the tax info early in the year, and entered most of it into a copy of my '07 return spreadsheet (Excel 1040) to estimate what we needed to pay this year.

Bad news: Between state and fed, about $2200. Ouch. I arranged to set aside that much by April, which we did.

Good news: I downloaded the latest-and-greatest '08 spreadsheet, entered all the tax info... and discovered I had forgotten to clear the Schedule SE (self-employment ) from the '07 return when I did my estimate. Since I didn't do any contract work this year, we actually get money back. About $1500. Plus the $2200 we had set aside, that's $3700. Woo hoo!

Bad news: If I'd given a moment's thought about why we pay every year, I coulda had that money months ago, ahead of the rush. Stupid, stupid, stupid...



Tags:

Let's go racing!

origami
I caught some NASCAR this weekend. On Fox Sports. Yee haw.

I didn't watch it in great detail, and in fact I'm not sure the actual race was on while I was there... there was footage of some really spectacular crashes, and discussion of same (at least, there were talking heads on the screen, but the sound was down), but no apparent racing. But there was a CGI groundhog(?) that I guess is the mascot for Fox and/or NASCAR, and who has his own little cartoon shorts in between crash footage.

Instead of Bill Murray, this groundhog's nemesis is a badger security guard, and that's where I started paying attention.

There are two "badgers": one is the American Badger and one is the European Badger. (There's a number of related species, but those are the two that just get called unqualified "badger" in common usage.) European Badgers, Meles Meles, have the distinctive black-and-white striped face and pointy nose. American Badgers, Taxidea taxus,  are similar, but the stripes aren't as distinct, they have black cheek patches as well, and the "black" is often turns to the grizzled silvery body color farther up on the head, and the head's not so pointy. If you ask someone what a badger looks like, chances are they'll describe the Eurasian variety, so it amuses me to find them depicted in clearly American settings as often happens. Yes, wildlife-art pedant humor.

And yes, the Fox badger (which Googling tells me is named "Lumpy Wheels"... mmkay) is distinctly European.

Blizzard.

origami
It remains to be seen whether this weekend's storm will set snowfall records.

I am pretty sure, however, that records have already been set for "most dire forecasts ever."

I mean, really... once you get past six inches (National Weather Services' estimate, though they allow it could go to a foot) of heavy, wet snow with blizzard-level winds, does it matter how MUCH past? Until the roof caves in, anyhow, but that's not how the TV weather is spinning it. They're just throwing out ever-higher numbers like it's an auction.

Western Kansas could get "up to two feet or more!" which if you think about it is true in the height of August as well.

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