Archive for October, 2007

‘Saw IV’ Slays in $32.M Debut Weekend

A high-profile documentary, Sony Pictures Classics’ “Jimmy Carter: Man From Plains,” had a poor debut, taking in just $10,573 at seven theaters. The film from director Jonathan Demme (“The Silence of the Lambs”) follows the former president during a tour to promote his book “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.”

Well duh.

If they really wanted to make some money on this thing, they should have focused on the single greatest moment of Carter’s Presidency. And what would that be you ask? Why… making it Federally legal to homebrew beer of course.

Oh yeah…. they also should have mentioned Carter’s superhuman abilities that he used to fight off an attacking killer swamp rabbit.

“It was hissing menacingly, its teeth flashing and nostrils flared and making straight for the president.” — press account of the incident.

Can’t you just hear the theme music?

They say this cat Carter is a bad mother
I’m talkin’ ’bout Carter.

Crossposted to The Political Stuff.

Looks like Baltimore/Maryland is having some problems adjusting to the delayed DST. I just added a link to my list (it will automatically post here sometime after 5pm) about many people receiving bogus parking tickets because the automated ‘smart’ parking kiosks switched to DST a week early taking an hour off the parking time of many legally parked motorists.

I’m mentioning this because a coworker just mentioned to me (and I verified) that the times on Maryland’s CHART on the Web Speed Sensor Page are exactly one hour behind.

Looks like some government IT people need to get their act together.

Last year I detailed a fight I had with the kids school (see the entries:Here we go again and I win for details). A teacher had sent the oldest daughter home with some computer homework that was Microsoft centric. You couldn’t do the assignment properly without using Microsoft Office software. Well is looks like I’m in a bit of a OS fight yet again.

Last night oldest daughter informed me that she had to do some violin homework on the computer. Turns out the lessons she is now expected to do at home are all on a DVD. A DVD that is, you guessed it, Mac and Windows only. I guess it never occurred to the people who made the lesson DVD to make is an actual DVD. That way it would work not on in any DVD player, but any computer or even game console that can play DVDs. Presently the only windows based system I have at home is my gaming box… and at the moment that system is spread all over my basement workbench. I had to write a note to her music teacher stating that she couldn’t do the practice sessions since she doesn’t not have access to a windows/mac computer at home. We’ll see where this latest problems goes.

I don’t quite grasp how a public elementary school can just assume that every student has access to a computer at home. Over the past year my kids have brought home various assignments that have required Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Office, a DVD drive, Color inkjet printer, and internet access. They’re making a lot of assumptions about what their kids have access to at home.

Did I happen to mention the new school cafeteria software? The ones where the parent can log in and see how much money is left in their kids account, what they’ve been buying, and select what they are and are not allowed to buy? Did I mention that it only works in Internet Explorer? I called the schools admin on that and he suggested using the firefox plugin ‘ie tab’. Well thats great… except that IE tab only works on MS Windows system that already have Internet Explorer. Whats the point? Our tax dollars at work.

Ok… I was going to skip this whole SChip debate, but since Congress has brought SChip back to the floor and is trying to force a vote as I type this, I’m going to start yapping about it.

Background and liveblogging on todays vote attempt:

Playing fire with S-CHIP

Republican whip Roy Blunt sends an e-mail calling foul on the timing of the vote, to be held while many California House members are home, responding to wildfires. Also take note that the Republicans have not been able to see the new bill

Meanwhile, I came across this entry while browsing Consumerist yesterday:

The Mom With $135,000 In Credit Card Debt Who Spends $400 A Month On Starbucks

This lady who appeared on Oprah lives the life of a big house in the burbs, new cars, six beautiful kids, and spending way beyond her husband’s $5,000/month salary. Felice drops $400 a month on Starbucks, $240 on tans and manicures, and her children have no health insurance.

emphasis mine

Obvious we all need to start taxing lower income smokers so we can provide this family with free health care for their kids. I mean its not their fault they don’t have health insurance. Well ok… yes it is, but nevermind that! Its for the children! Think of the Chiiiilllllldddddrrrreeeeennnnn!!!!

Nevermind the McMansion, the new cars, the new clothes, the tans, the manicures, the $400 a month starbucks habit…. If you don’t support paying for this families health care with your tax dollars, you obviously hate children. There can be no other explanation.

crossposted to The Political Stuff.

I’ve been hearing quite a bit of hype about the newest release of Ubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy Gibon). The hype includes comments such as “Ubuntu version 7.10, proves that Linux can compete with and, in some cases, trump Windows as an everyday desktop system when it comes to pure usability. ”

I can honestly say its been years since I’ve been so completely and utterly disappointed with a Linux release. Not since the early days of Slackware have I run across something this bad. I downloaded 7.10 via bittorrent and attempted to install it on three separate systems, two of which were already running 7.04 without a problem. Here are my results:

System 1:
A generic work system (AMD Sempron based with 1 gb. Actually one of 4 systems on my desktop at work). Was running Ubuntu 7.04 without a problem. I inserted the CD as was greeted with…. nothing. I’m told I was supposed to get some kind of dialog box giving me various install options. All I got was a window showing the contents of the disk. Since that option apparently wasn’t going to work, I went into Software Sources and set the CD as the only source and attempted a system update. The box locked solid. Thinking I had a bad CD, I burned another one and tried again with the same result. Thinking I had a bad download, I downloaded and burned yet another CD… with the same result. I said to hell with it, set software sources back to normal and went through the standard distribution update through the built in update manager. The entire update was downloaded from the Internet (it refused to recognize the CD), updates were installed, system rebooted, showed the ubuntu splash screen and…. locked solid. A check of the console shows the error message:

udevd-event[2393]: run_program: ‘/sbin/modprobe’ abnormal exit

Back to 7.04 for this box. Next up…

System 2:
A Dell GX260 (Pentium 4 based w/513 mb) home system. Also running 7.04 without a problem. Primarily used by the kids for web browsing and schoolwork (Open Office). Decided to just do a fresh install. Booted the 7.10 CD and went into the live cd system to test it out. Everything ran great… for about 30 minutes. Then it locked up. Thinking (hoping?) it was a fluke, I rebooted… back into live cd and it seemed to work. After about an hour of the kids banging on the live CD version, I decided to go ahead with the install from the CD. The install completed, the system rebooted and I set up users accounts for the kids and let them have at it. Everything seemed to work fine except for the fact that I had to download a .tar file from adobe to install Flash in Firefox…. and I had to run this install seperately for each and every user on the system. Oh yeah… playing MP3’s? Thats a separate install as well (still). So much for “trump[ing] Windows as an everyday desktop system when it comes to pure usability“.

Anways, once that was done, everyone seemed happy. Until the next day. The system was powered on and we were greeted with this:


Great. After trying to reboot several times with the same result, I said to hell with it and reinstalled the entire computer again…. with the same result. It seems 7.10 is good for one reboot on this system. After that, the video goes all to hell. I went into the BIOS for the system and played with various video/memory settings including the AGP aperture size (increasing it). This seemed to give the system a little more stability. Now we were greeted with a scrambled screen as above once out of every 4-5 reboots. (and these aren’t standard reboots. the system locks solid on this crash and you can’t just CTRL-ALT-DEL it, you have to hold the power button down until it shuts off). Bzzzt. Thanks for playing.

Back to 7.04 for this box. Next up…

System 3:
A Lenovo ThinkCentre (AMD Athlon 64 with 1gb) work system. New system with no OS installed. Just to be absolutely sure, I downloaded yet another CD (third one) from a different source. Booted the system and attempted a clean install. The install appeared to work fine… until reboot. I get the Ubuntu splash screen w/ the cylon like status bar scanning back and forth. After about 5 minutes of this, the screen goes blank and the system is dead. If I try to switch to a console screen to check the status before the 5 minutes is up… the screen goes blank and the system is dead.

I’m done with Ubuntu 7.10

I take back my last post on Stone IPA. This brew is just entirely too sensitive to temperature. As I mentioned before, its good once it warms up a bit, but if you’re looking to actually enjoy your beer instead of just chugging it down, this isn’t the beer for you. It has a certain temperature point where it tastes great, but if its too cold or you don’t drink it fast enough and it gets warmer, the taste is off. So off it got to the point where I just poured out the remainder of the bottle I was drinking. I’ll keep the last three in the back of the fridge to use as cooking beers. So… my revised review: skip it.

Tonights beer is Stone IPA from Stone Brewery (der) in CA. I picked it up at Shawan Liquors in Hunt Valley while stocking up on a few bottles of various Pumpkin Ales (mainly Dogfish Head and Wyerbachers).

It gets a high rating (91) on Beer Advocate so I had some high expectations (side note: you think wine snobs are bad? just go read some of the tasting reports for this beer at Beer Advocate. Many of those people need help). At first I wasn’t very impressed. The color was light for an IPA, the first taste seemed very bitter and very over-hopped. While it had a good head, the lacing was near non-existant. I ignored it for a bit and didn’t take my next drink for a while.

When I did, it was a completely different beer…. and it was damn good. Probably one of the best IPA’s I’ve had. I’ve never run across an IPA that was this sensitive to serving temp but with the Stone IPA, don’t serve it ice cold… actually, you should never serve ANY real beer ice cold… lets say don’t serve it at refrigerator temps. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes. Its worth it.

side note #2: I’m not a fan of the label painted on the bottle… simple because I prefer to reuse capable bottles for my own brews. Given that I have about 10+ cases of those already saved up, I don’t think I’ll need to be holding on to these.

DeGeneres in the Dog House for Giving Away Adopted Dog

Ellen DeGeneres is in the doghouse with a pet rescue agency after giving a pooch away to her hairdresser because it didn’t get along with her cats.

The talk show hostess and her partner Portia de Rossi adopted Iggy, a Brussels Griffon mix, on Sept. 20. But when things did not work out, DeGeneres gave the dog to her hairdresser.

In doing so, DeGeneres violated an agreement with the Mutts and Moms agency by not informing them of the handoff.

When the agency called DeGeneres to ask about Iggy, she said she found another home for the dog. The agency sent a representative to the hairdresser’s home Sunday and took the dog away.

DeGeneres said her hairdresser’s daughters, ages 11 and 12, had bonded with Iggy and were heartbroken when the dog was taken away.

“Because I did it wrong, those people went and took that dog out of their home, and took it away from those kids,” a sobbing DeGeneres said on her show.

Degeneres should have read the paperwork before she signed it. The being said, these so called ‘pet rescue’ people are a bunch of nutcases. Do they really expect to find a better home for a rescued animal than with a couple of 11 and 12 year old girls?

I can personally attest to the fact that a large majority of these so called ‘animal rescue’ people are nothing more than a bunch of psychotic freaks with massive superiority complexes who get off on judging whether other people are ‘worthy’ of adopting their animals. My own experiences with adopting an animal proved this to me. I’m convinced that most of these people don’t actually want to adopt out the animals, they just want to find ways to tell people how and why they are judged ‘unworthy’ to be a pet owner (and then sit back and bitch about how they can’t find people to adopt these rescued animals).

Edit: Just noticed this followup article:

Death Threats Won’t Sway Rescue Group to Return Dog Ellen DeGeneres Gave Away

The owners of the doggy rescue agency that snatched back the pup that Ellen DeGeneres gave away say they are not going to bow to death threats from fans and pressure from the talk show host and they will not return the dog to DeGeneres’ hairdresser.

“It’s never gonna happen,” attorney Keith A. Fink, who is representing the owners of the Mutts and Moms agency, told “There is more of a chance that the Yankees are going to win the World Series this year.”

Obviously death threats are idiotic. But the above quote shows exactly the kind of attitude these pet rescue people have.

Fink told that Mutts and Moms has a rule that families with children under 14 are not allowed to adopt small dogs — but they might have made an exception had DeGeneres gone through the proper channels.

Another nice quote. We won’t allow children under 14 to have small dogs…. because anyone with a brain knows that children under 14 are all masochistic freaks who will torture, main and kill any small animal they come in contact with (Think I’m exaggerating? Check my story linked about where one of the agencies demanded psychological evaluations of my kids before even considering we be allowed to adopt). Another gem: ‘they might have made an exception had DeGeneres gone through the proper channels’. But no… Ellen pissed off the almighty pet people… and now they’re exercising their doggie power.


(but you probably already knew that)

Vista “Out of Memory” errors

You just can’t seem to throw enough memory at Vista.

The “Out of Memory” error … is one of the biggest and most baffling of Vista’s file handling problems

These don’t have to be large files and the problem can also occur when copying smaller groups of files that in total exceed 16,400 files between reboots. Following the “Out of Memory” message a range of other errors can occur such as menus and tabs disappearing within the Windows environment and even reboots and BSODs are reported.

But I’m not really gripping about this particular issue. This problem will probably (maybe?) be fixed with yet another service pack/patch/hotfix/update from Microsoft. I have another pet peeve with Vista. Take a look at the file copy dialog in the video from the post linked above. It’s 2007 (almost 2008), Microsoft has been working on Vista for FIVE years and who knows how many years and man hours have been spent on previous Windows versions. Microsoft STILL cannot throw up a dialog box that contains an accurate time remaining on a file copy. Not to mention that absolutely useless ‘progress’ bar. The only purpose that moving bar serves is to show the users that the computer is still (probably) functioning and hasn’t crashed (yet).

I was putting my last six pack of Phat Tyre in the beer fridge last week and I noticed the date I had printed on the labels. I was amazed that it had been six months since my last brewing. I’ve obviously been relying way too much on Yuengling this past year and have been neglecting my brewing equipment.

I changed that this weekend with a new brew. Since the holidays are coming up, I actually planned ahead a bit and boiled up a Spiced Winter Ale mix from Northern Brewer (Since Northern was having a shipping special at the time, 5.99 per order, I also ordered another Phat Tyre kit. No more beer slacking). If all goes well, it should be ready in 4-6 weeks. Maybe a bit late for Thanksgiving, but perfect for Christmas. Its been four days since the boil and the garage still has a kickass pumpkin pie smell from the mulling spices (Ceylon cloves, cracked cinnamon, allspice, cardamom and mace).

Earlier today I decided it was time to update the brewing setup a bit. I ordered the equipment to start doing a proper two-stage ferment on my beers. I could get away with a single stage for the ale, but since the recipe recommends adding additional spices to the secondary ferment, I figured now was a good a time as any to get the needed supplies and do things right. The 5 gallon carboy and all related accessories are due in Friday which should be just in time to rack the winter ale into it… which also means my primary fermenter will be empty and waiting for the Phat Tyre kit this weekend.

Hooray Beer.

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