“Since I have only received 4 replies as of today I must assume I did not post to a wide enough variety of groups. Here it is reposted for all.”

— Michael R. Johnston

Who thought this was a good idea?


I like Dean Martin. I picked up one of his albums on the iTunes Music Store recently, and I’m glad to see that Capitol Records is actively promoting him once again. But what eagle-eyed halfwit thought that “light gray on white” was an appropriate color scheme for body text, especially at a size as small as 9px?

I apologize in advance to anyone who follows that link. Especially anyone old enough to remember Dino.

Why I Love Users, a parable of hacking


(based on a true story from my OSU-CIS days…)

User A notices that the department has installed a new sprinkler system. He immediately proceeds to find out everything about how it works, what it can do, and how reliable it is. People are astonished at how much he knows about it, and he basks in the warm glow of praise. One day, he uncovers a serious implementation flaw that no one knows about, and makes veiled references to it for several months, never to the people who are in a position to fix it. Finally, he decides to show people how bad the system is, and sets fire to the building. He’s careful to make sure that no one gets hurt, and that the damage is minor. When the fire-fighters approach him with blood in their eyes and axes in their hands, he smiles quietly and says, “I told you so; you should have listened.”

This being just a story, I feel compelled to permit the fire-fighters to hack the little toad to pieces, shouting “LIKE HELL YOU DID!”

The moral of this story is a variation on the Golden Rule:

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, because they can do unto you a lot harder."

Tales From The Help Desk


E-mail exchange between user and sysadmin at OSU-CIS, long ago and far away…

User: I was wondering how to send mail to someone on the VAX systems.

Sysadmin: Which ones?

U: It’s the VAX 386 systems. I know the three unique letters to identify this person. Thanks.

S: That doesn’t help. Perhaps I should instead have asked whose VAX systems.

U: It is the VAX at BF Goodrich in Avon Lake, OH. Hope this helps.

S: (crycrycry)

Multiple-choice gun safety


I finally got around to acquiring California’s new Handgun Safety Certificate, one of the pointless bureaucratic hoops the state makes you jump through before you can buy a handgun. There’s still the ten day waiting period and background check, the mandatory trigger lock, the safe-storage requirements, the one-a-month purchase limit, and, of course, the limited selection created by ineptly second-guessing the manufacturer’s ability to create a safe, functional product.

No one has been able to demonstrate even a tiny benefit to society from any of these laws, but then again, who would have rationally expected one? There is very little overlap between “people who obey gun laws” and “people who commit crimes with guns,” after all, and legislators who vote for gun-control laws know this.

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Munitions go boom


Well, actually it’s just the DNS server, which I have no control over. It looks like the caches started timing out around midnight. IP address for munitions.com is 209.81.13.66.

Landscaping


As a happy suburbanite, I like having an attractive yard. As a mostly-nocturnal, white-collar kind of guy, though, I don’t like actually going out there and doing the work myself.

I just met with my favorite landscaping contractor (Richard’s and Adan’s Landscape - Maintenance, serving Monterey County, CA) yesterday to have him trim, weed, and replant my front and back yards. Fairly basic stuff, but the jasmine is taking over the sidewalk, one of the trees is growing so well that it’s tearing itself apart in the wind, the weeds grew four feet high while my back was turned, and about a third of the plants front and back have died from my benign neglect.

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“How could you not know?”


As airport-restaurant dinners go, it should have been one of the best. I was sharing a table with three friends, two of whom were former Playboy centerfold models. Good people. Reasonable food. Interesting conversation.

Then the topic turned to astrology.

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HTML forms suck


It didn’t shock me to discover this, but it was one of those things about the web that I hadn’t really played with seriously. Then I started trying to expose all of the parameters for my random web colors page, so people could tinker with the color-generation rules.

Not only did the form add 24K to the page size, it increased the rendering time by about an order of magnitude.

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 got a clue, leave a clue”