I'm sure everyone remembers the Apple 1984 ad.

Now, given the current idiocies with app store approval, and now this, does anyone doubt that they've decided to just dispense with the middleman, and actually become Big Brother themselves?

This guy wins, and he isn't even allowed to compete.

A guy with no legs, using prosthetics, has been disqualified from the Olympics because hes too fast. That's The Olympics, not the Special Olympics.

Where can I get a set?

Mr. Wizard is dead.

Man, that is probably the only TV show I remember with real fondness from my childhood. I didn't even know the original ones aired in the 50's, but the Nickelodeon "Mr. Wizard's World" when I was a kid was about the only thing I'd actually stop doing something else to go watch.


I'd pay fifty bucks to do that.

I was reading an article on Wired.com about a (clearly insane) guy who does things like run 350 miles without sleeping, run 199-mile relay race against 8 other 12-man teams by himself, run 50 marathons in 50 consecutive days (and then run from New York home to San Francisco as an encore), and that sort of thing. He also ran in the first (and only) marathon to the South Pole.

Anyway, he mentioned a quote by one of his running partners that I found particularly inspiring:

"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention to arrive safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming: Wow!! What a ride!"

Unfortunately no attribution is possible as he didn't mention the guy's name, but I really like that.

Sort of a long-winded rant here (I can see some of you fleeing for cover now).

First, let me start off by saying that until about a year and a half ago, I had never bought a prebuilt computer, even a laptop. I bought separate components and assembled them myself.

Last summer I saw the Dell XPS Generation 2 laptop with a Geforce 6800 Ultra and 17" panel and I was in love. For an obscene amount of cash, a week or two later I had my shiny new laptop and the relationship since has been very good. No problems with anything, really. It's got power to run about anything I want to run, about as much battery life as I'd expect from something with a desktop-class video card and a 17" screen, and pretty good sound.

Then, on Saturday evening, a vertical yellow stripe appeared on my screen and won't go away. This laptop has never so much as been nudged the wrong way, let alone dropped or subjected to any form of abuse. It literally gets polished once a week or so and rubbed down with microfiber cloths.

And, wonder of wonders, the warranty expired six months ago. How convenient.

At first I pretty much assumed I was screwed and would have to buy a new screen since it was out of warranty. I searched around for a few minutes on Google to see if it was a common problem and what the repair costs were, and found quite a surprising number of people with the same problem. Oddly enough, virtually all of them bought their systems around the same time I bought mine (within two or three months either way). The problem typically does not appear until 15-18 months after purchase, so virtually all affected owners are out of warranty (does anyone really spend $200 to extend their warranty for a year?). The problem affects mostly 17" laptop panels manufactured by LG/Philips sold by Dell between February and July 2005, though some cases occur outside of these boundaries.

See Dell Vertical Line.com. This is a relatively new site and "only" has 121 people registered with this problem at this writing, but searching Dell's own support forums with the terms "LCD vertical line" produces nearly 900 hits, and after spending entirely too long looking over them, I can state that the vast majority are posts about this specific problem.

Despite all that, as well as the presence of numerous threads describing the problem on other sites such as Devshed.com, Dell states it's "not a known issue" and therefore they don't want to do anything about it.

Now, to even get the chance to explain the problem you have to wade through three tiers of progressively less unhelpful techs, usually get disconnected at least three times (tip: first thing you do when you talk to a tech, ask for the direct number to that department so that WHEN (not if) you get disconnected you can at least pick up from where you left off - think of it like playing Doom 2. Save frequently!), and finally end up talking to someone who says they don't have the authority to do anything about it. Ask who does, and they say they might know someone, and you get transferred to the "Escalation Department". There, they will also tell you they don't have the authority to do anything about it. So you ask them who does and they essentially say, "Dunno." One guy I spoke with said "Well, Mr. Dell could probably do that." So I asked for his number.

That didn't really work out.

After a forty-minute argument with a tech which essentially consisted of me saying "this is a hardware defect that affects a large number of systems" and him saying "I know but I'm still not going to fix it because the computer says I can't", he gave me a phone number which he said was Dell Corporate, and another which he said was the direct line to the Customer Care management area. "Great", I thought. I'm getting somewhere. Until I dialed the numbers and found that BOTH of them were simply alternate numbers for the normal Dell "order a new Dell" phone number, which is either an example of monumental incompetence or a deliberate slap in the face, or both.

I'm making this post not so much to ask for pity or whatever as simply to MAKE THIS KNOWN as a real problem affecting close to a thousand people SO FAR. It is my opinion that because of the way the Dell techs talk to you about this problem, many people probably got brushed off or discouraged and ended up just living with it, or worse, paying Dell for a new screen. I think that if this becomes somewhat more widely known, Dell will be forced to acknowledge the issue and do something about it.

It would have been nice if, based on the evidence I presented, they could've done the right thing and backed up their product, instead of maintaining that a) it was an "unknown issue (a lie - of the 900 or so posts in the Dell support forums, about 15% have responses from Dell techs) and b) essentially, "shit happens.", inferring this was a random failure not associated with a particular production run or particularly line of product, which is in direct opposition to every piece of information I provided them with. Which, I suppose, means I could also add c) that I personally am a liar, fabricating a widespread issue to avoid paying for a new part.

This has been my third consecutive bad experience with Dell support and, sorry to say, they're out. I will never send them another penny of my money even if they DO eventually make this right. Now I get to sit here for the next couple of years wondering if the 30" Dell LCD I bought for my desktop (since I was so happy with the XPS laptop), the 20" widescreen LCD I ordered for my father in law, or the 20" widescreen LCD I ordered for my mother-in-law are going to develop odd vertical lines in a few months when their warranties expire, and if I am then going to have to go through this entire process two or three more times, not to mention feeling like an ass for recommending this company's products.

When I mentioned the above to the last tech I spoke with and pointed out that I, personally, had been responsible for over $10,000 in revenue for the company between my own purchases and things I'd ordered from them for other people's systems I was building (mostly screens), he essentially performed a verbal shrug and said "Is there anything else I can help you with today?"

Incidentally, Lidge, consider my recommendation of the Dell 2007WFP officially withdrawn.

Does it strike anyone else as endlessly hilarious that somewhere there is a t-shirt company making huge profits on Che Guevara t-shirts?

"Karl Marx rides Adam Smith's rocket.

Adam Smith wins.



Joe and I played World of Warcraft together for a couple of months last year and early this year, and I continued with the game, and he didn't. I've been sort of nagging him off and on to get back into it since I liked playing with him, but WoW just never really "hooked" him. The following was an email I sent to him a month or two ago that I just found a copy of and thought was worth posting.

login as: wirehead
Using keyboard-interactive authentication.
Password: *
Linux JOSEPH Sun Jan 1 00:00:00.00 Year 0 iHuman GNU/Linux

The programs included with the iHuman system are free software;
the exact distribution terms for the system are described in each
system iteration's root folder at /divine/spark/doc/DNA.

iHuman comes with a complete warranty. In the case of
dissatisfaction with the system, simply return it to the
Maker for a complete replacement, or spawn a new iteration
using /root/reproduce.
No mail.

Last login: Never.

wirehead@JOSEPH:~ $ man compel


compel - cause system to perform specified action


compel [OPTS] [-] [ARGS]


Passes the stated argument to system kernel and causes
execution of argument in preference to all other
processes, including other system-level processes (i.e.,
EAT, ELIMINATE, etc.). Options consist of setting an
execution priority from 1-100. When added to the execution
stack the function will echo "done" to the shell.

If this function counteracts existing system-level
policies, it requires root access.
Manual Page compel line 1 q

wirehead@JOSEPH:~ $ su
su: Authentication failure
wirehead@JOSEPH:~ $ su
su: Authentication failure
wirehead@JOSEPH:~ $ su
root@JOSEPH: /#

root@JOSEPH: /# compel [100] -reactivate WoW account

root@JOSEPH: /# top

top - 23:46:30 up 9492 days, 4:27 2 users, load average 0.45, 0.42, 0.51
Tasks: 13 total, 3 running, 9 sleeping, 0 stopped, 1 zombie
Cpu(s): 100.0% us, 99.9% sy, 0.0% ni, 0.0% id, 0.o% wa, 0.0% hi, 0.1% si
Mem 6.2*10^14 total, 1.3*10^14 used, 4.9*10^14 free, 231gb buffers
Swap: 9.3*10^14 total, 2.2*10^14 used, 7.1*10^14 free, 3.5*10^14 cached

4 root 1 0 2349 2048 1016 S 99.8 15.1 0:01 compel
2 joe 4 0 1492 512 1340 R 0.1 0.3 0:03 urinate
153 joe 13 0 1596 498 1428 R 0.1 0.2 7:04 ponder_sex

root@JOSEPH: /# exit
wirehead@JOSEPH:/ $ PROMPT_COMMAND="hax3d +%H%M"

[hax3d 23:29:01] wirehead@JOSEPH: ~ $ mail -s pwnt -u joe@JOSEPH

I pwnz0r3d j00!

The power of me compels you!
The power of me compels you!



[hax3d 23:33:35] wirehead@JOSEPH: ~ $ logout

I had to post this here rather than on the Wall because I wanted to see comments if people had any.


I'm a flying/aviation geek, and when I first watched this I actually got a little choked up. It's SO COOL. Motion-sensing headgear + motion-tracking camera on the plane.

Anyone who's read Beowulf's Children knows exactly what this means.

VW-beetle sized nests of carnivorous insects that inexplicably start turning up all over the place in unusually hot weather?

Avalon bees, that's what they are. Run for cover.

That if I live in Peru I can just email a Nikon tech support rep, but if I live in the USA I have to wait on hold and there's no electronic support option at all?

I use Gmail almost exclusively now. The little text ads on the right side of the screen completely escape my notice practically all of the time, but I have noticed a couple of things over the last few months of using it. First, that the context-based ads are pretty good, but sometimes it can't "figure out" what I'm talking about. In these cases the ads are more of just a random smattering of stuff that have nothing to do with the content of the email I'm reading.

Today at 6:30 AM I had just returned from dropping off my wife at the airport, and I was expecting my little brother to come over to get some directions. I checked my mail and the conversation basically just consisted of "what time are you coming over" and "we'll be there soon" and that sort of thing - nothing for the ad engine to really work with. I glanced over at the ad section and it was all ads about coffee, liquid caffeine supplements, and stuff like that.

I think that's fairly impressive - the engine couldn't find anything in the context of the mail to work with, so it noticed it was insane o'clock in the morning and decided I might be interested in a cup of coffee.

(Full disclosure: at first I thought They Found Me. Those of you who know me personally will understand why that's funny.)

Build your own CNC mill out of common everyday items like plastic cutting boards and old dot-matrix printers.

I'm so going to do this. I suspect that if treated gently I could use it to make custom waterblocks for various computer components.

Man kills a woman and her child while transporting his (former) wife's severed head.

Quote from the article:

Time, 51, who was not injured, told officers he was involved his wife's death, investigators said.


An autopsy was scheduled next week to determine Theresa Time's cause of death, Canyon County Coroner Vicki DeGeus-Morris said.

Keep in mind we are referring here to the woman with the whole "severed head" problem.

Autopsy to determine the cause of death?

I was expecting a package to be delivered today via UPS. I managed to arrive home just in time to watch the UPS truck drive away. I called the service number where, to my horror, I found myself speaking to one of those robo-secretaries we have all come to loathe.

However, this one allowed keypad entry of the tracking numbers etc. in addition to voice recognition, and offered me just about every conceivable option that I might want. She/it also spoke RAPIDLY and not in a weird monotone - it basically sounded like a normal human, or nearly so.

The conversation went something like this:

Robo-secretary: "Hi, and thanks for calling UPS. Please enter your code number, located just above the bar code on the door tag."

Me: (enters the number on keypad)

Robo-secretary: "We tried to deliver your package on Wednesday the 24th of May at 3:43 PM. We will try to deliver it again tomorrow after 3:00 PM. Is this ok?"

Me: "No!"

Robo-secretary: "Ok, would you like to arrange for pickup, change the delivery address, return to sender, or do something else?"

Me: "Arrange for pickup."

Robo-secretary: "All right. Please hang on a moment, and don't hang up until I let you know everything's done. " (five second pause) "It is still early enough for you to get this package today. Would you like to do that?"

Me: "Yes!"

Robo-secretary: "All right, I need your phone number and an alternate number. A UPS representative will contact you in one hour or less to give you the information you will need to pick up your package today. Please enter your primary contact number now."

Me: (enter cell phone #)

Robo-secretary: "And an alternate number?"

Me: (Enter wife's cell phone #)

Robo-secretary: "Thanks. You'll get a call in an hour or less. Now, would you like to: track another package, order supplies, arrange for pickup of a package at your residence, ..."

And gave me several more options. I interrupted her/it with "No" and she said, immediately, "Ok, thanks for calling", and hung up.

I was impressed. The system worked perfectly, didn't once ask me to repeat anything, didn't miss any of my key presses, never went through laboriously checking any of the numbers I entered, spoke rapidly and clearly, and presented me with exactly the options I wanted. The entire thing took about three minutes or less, from the point where I arrived home until the point where I had arranged to pick up the package at the local UPS depot, which, according to the phone call I recieved eleven minutes after I spoke with Ms. Robo, will be available between 7:30 and 8:30 tonight.


More posts can be found in the archives.