Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Marketing ploy creates bomb scare

[Image: Bomb scare]Above is a picture of what Bostonians believed to be a bomb, causing all sorts of havoc around the city, and making headlines across the country. To top it all, none of the devices are bombs, but marketing for Aqua Teen Hunger Force, from Cartoon Network. The Boston bomb squad actually blew one device up. It is reported that these devices can be found in at least ten other cities, but only people in Boston noticed them.

Reported at:

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9:12 PM | Posted by mike | Comments (0)

Flickr-Yahoo merge meets conflict

[Image: flickr logo]Flickr has now set a deadline requiring that all users merge their flickr accounts with a Yahoo account, somewhat in the same fashion as Google and Blogger accounts merged. But, the merging of the two sites is meeting real criticism. I side with many of the flickr users saying that I would prefer not using anything associated with Yahoo.

Yahoo stayed in the background for quite some time, as it should considering that they own the company, not necessarily run it. Contrary to what many large companies like Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft think, I would prefer to have separate accounts for many things. For example, I would like to be able to associate my Blogger account with one email address, but be logged into a different Gmail account. By merging the services under one login, it makes that impossible. Besides, the requirement of a Yahoo account limits the usernames available, and with a service in place since '95, there isn't much left. At least Google lets you use any email address.

Yahoo and flickr may be able to turn things around, but it will never be able to restore all that they have lost. Many people have already vowed to let their paid account expire or drop the service entirely.

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4:58 PM | Posted by mike | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Google reader supports YouTube

[Image: Google Reader now supports youtube videos]
It has taken quite some time, but Google Reader has finally added support for YouTube videos. I have intermittently seen Google Reader support it in the past, but that was very limited, and often only worked on one site for a limited time. Now, I have noticed that YouTube videos work for multiple sites, meaning that it should be the real deal.

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5:01 PM | Posted by mike | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Google blurring map data

[Image: Google blurs some maps]
As if I haven't mentioned enough Google blunders recently, Google has done it again. For what reason in particular is unknown, but Google has formed a nasty habit of blurring map data in some places. This could quite easily be compared to Google's censorship in China. [via slashdot]

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10:51 PM | Posted by mike | Comments (0)

Saturday, January 27, 2007

[Video] The reason kids cannot learn

There is a moderately long clip on YouTube by a weather forecaster who was appalled by the way that she found kids were being taught. I recommend watching this clip if you have: been through such classes, or have kids in such classes. It is honestly ridiculous how they teach math now:

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11:10 PM | Posted by mike | Comments (1)

Friday, January 26, 2007

Godaddy pulls site; enrages customers

CNET has a story about how Godaddy took down a security website at the request of myspace. This story has enraged many people saying that people are trying to restrict free speech on the internet. I do have some objections to this, but since it is the first time that it has happened, I would be willing to ignore it, but what I can't ignore is the ideas of people commenting on the article. Take this first example:
Through a lack of Congressional involvement on the internet Child Porn flourish's and identity theft increases from 1 in 8 adults affected last year to 1 in 6 this year.

I don't know about any of you but I do know that human nature tells us that Federal Laws are serious and BIG FINES hit us in the pockets were it counts the most. So until Congress decides to get off there A*S*S's and decide to take the plunge and tackle the serious issues of the net that they have been avoiding for years now.
Here, this person is suggesting that the US congress should have the right to govern the law, and everyone's use of it. The internet is a worldwide network, meaning that there are more people using it than those in the US. I'm sure that people in Australia don't want to deal with the United States laws.

In one of my textbooks, there is an essay by Esther Dyson, who wrote "Cyberspace: If You Don’t Love It, Leave It." After reading that essay, I wholly agreed with her. She basically said that the internet is full of just about everything, and there is never going to be a way to police it, but the only solution is to simply ignore what you don't like. If you don't like the way the internet is, leave; it'll be better for everyone.

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4:07 PM | Posted by mike | Comments (0)

Google gets something right

[Image: Google logo]After a whole list of mistakes and blunders, Google has finally taken a step forward by eliminating the Google bombs (such as Bush when searching for "failure"). This stems from an update in Google's search algorithm. Previously:This might just be the turning point for Google; things are getting better.

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1:21 PM | Posted by mike | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Google+YouTube together, unfortunately

[Image: Google video now with youtube]
Google has just announced that they have finally merged Google Video with YouTube. I see this as a big annoyance, and something that really needs a lot of work.

For one, I have used YouTube for video viewing, but occasionally wander over Google Video to see if there is anything different. It doesn't help me to see the same videos listed at another site. What's worse is that I can find no way to limit the search to only Google Video. I tried and -youtube, but nothing will refine the search.

Google says that it wants a place "where you can search for the world's online video content, irrespective of where it may be hosted." That idea doesn't work well if the basic search operators like site: don't work. At the very least, Google should support the site: operator, or set up another site like (like blogsearch) just for global video searches.

But, this week is the week of Google bashing:For Google's sake, let's hope the list ends here, but I don't mind adding on if they continue.

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7:14 PM | Posted by mike | Comments (1)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Google says no ingenuity for Africa

[Image: Google result for 'African Ingenuity']
Update 1/25/07: Google has removed the notice from their search page now.

Search for "African Ingenuity." Perhaps just one more blunder of Google's for the week. Previously:How long will this list get? [via boingboing]

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6:53 PM | Posted by mike | Comments (0)

Blogger unexpectedly down

[Image: Blogger goes down]
While previously being somewhat inaccessible, Google took down all of their blogger services. For a while, they had a message up saying that blogger was down for "unscheduled maintenance," but has since been replaced with a 502 (bad gateway) error. The "unscheduled maintenance" makes me think that the service practically crashed itself, and Google only stepped in to rectify the problem.

Google has now formed quite a list of problems recently:All of these are from within the past week. If I had money at my disposal, I would move away from google and do things myself, but that isn't much of an option at the moment.

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4:55 PM | Posted by mike | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Google error in place of my blog

[Image: Google error on my blog]
Google errors are annoying, but even more so in the places that you control. Just moments ago, I tried accessing my own blog to make sure that my last post worked, and got served a nice big error instead.

Update 1/24/07: Google is still periodically throwing this error at me. Actually, three time today:
[Image: Google error still yet]

This seems to be a week of Google bashing:Google set a precedence for exceptional service, but now they are starting to leg behind.

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10:57 PM | Posted by mike | Comments (0)

Experimental Google image layout

[Image: Google Images layout]Google has done some experimenting with their image search. I have seen this before, but it is often gone within the hour. I took some screen shots to show what they are doing. Click the thumbnail to get a full size.

Update: Word on the street says that this is permanent. I hope not.

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8:41 PM | Posted by mike | Comments (0)

Monday, January 22, 2007

Google maps gets confused

[Image: Google map with u-turns]
For some strange reason or another, Google maps has given directions as a series of u-turns. There is a total of 246 items on the list of directions, most all of which are making u-turns. It will be interesting to see if/how long it will take Google to fix this.

[via digg]

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5:49 PM | Posted by mike | Comments (0)

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Program independent ad blocker

Spyware and adware are a problem, but you can easily block them. There are a slew of ad blockers around the internet that you can you, but very few people realize that there is one practically built into their computer (PC's). The trick lies in editing a file within windows. I will walk you through the quick process of doing it yourself:

[Image: Create shortcut]Step 1: Create a shortcut to the hosts file
The hosts file is used by your computer as the primary source of IP's for domain names. If a site is not on the list, it is then asked for on your ISP's DNS server. If the address is there, your computer will use the IP assigned to the domain.

While you surf the internet, it is very likely that you will come across ad serving sites that you would care to block. In order to make things easier, you should create a shortcut to this file. To do so, right click and choose shortcut (as illustrated at right). You will want this shortcut to point to the file: C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\DRIVERS\ETC\hosts

[Image: Hosts file]Step 2: Add websites to the list
This part is somewhat different depending on the person. If many people use the same computer, you should also check with them before going too crazy because this will affect them, too. The syntax is simple. In the example below, I block the domain and the zero signifies a "null" address, if you are doing this as a business thing, you can point this to an IP to display a message instead of an "error connecting" page. Each entry should be on a new line. Example:

If you want, there are sites that have ready-made host files for blocking known ad sites. This site has a downloadable file with everything you need.

Optional: (with FireFox)
After you are done with the hosts file, you can use stylish or greasemonkey with FireFox to clean up sites. Some sites have styling just to frame the ads, but with these extensions, you can remove some of that to make it look better.

Note: There is an occasional time (very rare) where sites will cease to work correctly when certain ad sites are blocked. This can be easily solved by commenting the site out if needed, and removing the comment later.

This was my first article written as a step-by-step like this. Some feedback would be nice.


8:22 PM | Posted by mike | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Blogger is a pain in the butt

[Image: Blogger Maintenance]
Blogger likes being a pain in the butt, so I doubt that it bothered them that they kicked everyone out for a while to do something that very likely could have been done in the background.

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11:19 PM | Posted by mike | Comments (0)

The Onion on gay marriage

The Onion has a piece that was published a few days ago on gay marriage entitled "Nation's Gays Demand Right To Library Cards". Of course, it is not outright in saying so, but if you read any of it, it is easy to understand their point. From the article:
But opponents say the prospect of same-sex book-borrowing endangers the moral fiber of the country's most sacred reading traditions.
Sen. Jim Bunning (R–KY), [is] one of several conservative legislators who has vowed to draft a constitutional amendment that would define library book-lending as a contract between a library and a heterosexual reader. "But to issue them the same library cards as a regular American citizen would demean what our nation's library cards stand for."
This is really interesting, especially how my class is covering satire in language arts. This is a true example of great satire at work.

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11:04 PM | Posted by mike | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 14, 2007

One way microsoft runied IE

[Image: Anti-alias in IE]
One of the most annoying aspects of the new internet explorer is the "improvements" that microsoft made. I might consider using it once and a while, but the anti-aliasing is too annoying. In the image above, you can see the blurring effect of IE. With a whole page blurred like that, I personally find it hard to read. I prefer the distinct edges that just about every other program offers. If microsoft considered other people when they made the upgrade, they could have handled this better.

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10:53 AM | Posted by mike | Comments (2)

Friday, January 12, 2007

Dell service sucks [insert word]

[Image: Dell]Yesterday, I finally got my laptop back after we sent it in. The service paper says that they fixed the "system board", keyboard, and heat-sink. Although they fixed it, I still say they suck because they did not return everything that we sent them.

When the return box arrived, it said to include the power cable, which I did as it was part of the problem. Now that we got the computer back, there is no power cable. The laptop does me no good if I can't charge it. Also, the tech support that we talked to said that repair time is about 72 hours (3 days), but they took a week to send the computer back. Whenever I get my next computer, it is not going to be a Dell.


5:54 PM | Posted by mike | Comments (0)

Amazingly huge LEGO church

I love LEGOs, but I don't have the time or money to invest into a project like this. Someone has built a very realistic-looking LEGO church (more pictures). Here's a little sample:
[Image: LEGO church]

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4:39 PM | Posted by mike | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Negative publicity for paypal

[Image: Paypal sucks]The first story came last night on digg. Website deadspin created a paypal account for donations to a soldier's memorial fund because they thought it would be the easiest for people to use, but paypal has locked up their funds. It appears that because paypal set their account up as a charitable organization, but they are not, and have no paper work. Paypal has since locked up all funds because they cannot prove that they are a charitable organization. The post is appropriately title to influence anyone who sees the title: "Paypal Doesn't Want Slain Soldiers' Families To Receive Aid."

The second story that I found today involves ebay requiring paypal verification to sell an item. In the comments, some people have noted that it could be because the seller is a high volume seller, but even then it doesn't make any sense of why you would need to verify a paypal account.

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7:47 PM | Posted by mike | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Cisco sues over iPhone name

[Image: Apple]Cisco says that they have all the rights to the name "iPhone" and that Apple Inc. is now infringing on that. This all seems like a bunch of tactics for Cisco to sue their way into profit. As I thought, Apple was in negotiations, but Cisco resisted. From the article:
"Cisco entered into negotiations with Apple in good faith after Apple repeatedly asked permission to use Cisco's iPhone name," said Mark Chandler, Cisco senior vice president and general counsel, in a statement. "There is no doubt that Apple's new phone is very exciting, but they should not be using our trademark without our permission."
You can tell that Cisco is trying to make money on this because they resisted giving Apple rights to the name. The Cisco iPhone has been out for only three weeks, meaning that they probably launched their product so that they had a case against Apple. No one will ever associate the word iPhone with Cisco, so they should just give it to Apple already.

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7:53 PM | Posted by mike | Comments (0)

PS3 fails sales objective; stock falls

Sony is not so pleasant with the news recently. Today, it has made its way around the internet that Sony has only reached 50% of its one million domestic (Japan) sales prediction. From the article:
Eating into Sony's sales at home was the unexpected success of Nintendo's Wii gaming system, according to Enterbrain. Nintendo sold 989,118 Wiis domestically from its Dec. 2 launch date to month's end, nearly double Sony's total.
I have to note a big thing here. Nintendo beat Sony in sales by selling twice as many consoles, but they also did it in half the time as well. That means that the Wii is four times as popular as the PS3.

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4:11 PM | Posted by mike | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Apple with a load of news

In order to better reflect the products of Apple, they have changed their name to Apple Inc. This comes hand in hand with news of many new Apple products.

The iPhone:
[Image: Apple iPhone]
Apple does not have the rights to the name iPhone as of yet, but they are supposed to be in negotiations with Cisco to get the name. The apple page has video to support all of the features. The internet capabilities look like top of the line.

The Apple TV:
[Image: Apple TV]
The Apple TV does not look like something that will take off right away, but it does come with nifty features that I'm sure someone can use. The device itself is wireless (with computer). From what I can pick up, the Apple TV will allow you to showcase all of the stuff on your computer, on your TV.

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8:36 PM | Posted by mike | Comments (0)

Monday, January 8, 2007

Tax cuts only help the rich

[Image: Political cartoon for Bush's taxes]
The New York Times reports that Bush's tax cuts are targeted at helping the "very rich". A nonpartisan study found that while taxes for the middle-income bracket have slightly increased, the rates for the "very rich" have declined. From the article:
"Based on an exhaustive analysis of tax records and census data, the study reinforced the sense that while Mr. Bush's tax cuts reduced rates for people at every income level, they offered the biggest benefits by far to people at the very top - especially the top 1 percent of income earners."
I will be honest that I have never cared much for anything that Bush has done in the past years. Too many of his decisions are based on oil, money, and religion.

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11:02 PM | Posted by mike | Comments (0)

Friday, January 5, 2007

Charter hates Google Maps

[Image: Charter sucks]I am fairly certain of this, as it has happened to me at least a dozen times, all under the same conditions. When using Google Maps, my ISP, Charter Communications often drops my internet connection. Almost always, when browsing quickly (dragging to different areas in rapid succession), it drops.

After my connection drops, it becomes a pain to get back on the internet. I have to manually unplug my router (to reset it), plug it back in (repeat if necessary). All this work just to regain access to a connection that I should be able to hold on to in the first place.

It is not possible that it is from high traffic because it will do this even in the middle of the night, when you would expect the lowest traffic. Their service sucks. Their cable even goes out in storms- they're on a fucking landline, what could cause that other than their own incompetence?

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9:01 PM | Posted by mike | Comments (0)

Blogger supports custom domains

[Image: Blogger allows domains]
Blogger has finally listened to people. Back when I used to like blogger, it would have been the cure all for me. Now, Blogger sucks, but it got a little better for those that want to continue using it. It still doesn't match being able to use your own host though.

Now, that is one more thing that I can cross off my list of things that Blogger needs to add in order to be half-way decent for a large-scale blog.

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4:43 PM | Posted by mike | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 4, 2007

RIAA says 70 cents is about right

[Image: RIAA toilet paper]Ars technica says the RIAA has admitted that 70 cents is in the range of how much they make per song. Meanwhile, they are going after allofmp3 with full vengeance. Allofmp3 is being sued for $150,000 per song, totaling $1.65 trillion.

If the RIAA were to get that (ignoring legal fees), that would be a profit of $149999.30 per song. By millions of songs that is feeding that company too much. I want to see the RIAA strictly limited to what they lose (under a dollar).

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11:32 PM | Posted by mike | Comments (0)

Ciber loses credentials over bad job

[Image: Voting machine]Ciber is a company that certified voting machines. That is in past ense as they have lost their credentials after eyebrows were raised over the quality of the tests done. They were not able to document that they were performing the required tests.

Electronic voting machines are the failure of vote counting today. They have been plagued since the very beginning. The whole problem lies in trusting a computer. If you trust the computer, you are trusting the programmer, and things have shown bias in voting machine errors.

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5:46 PM | Posted by mike | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Google Reader sucks, a lot

[Image: Google Reader Error]
Google is causing themselves a lot of trouble. They insist on the high expectations, but they are starting to fail at a little of everything. Luckily, I was able to skim through most all of my feeds today, but right now, Google keeps logging me out. Reader is freezing and refusing to work, and refreshing will log me out. It's been like this for the past twenty or so minutes.

Past, offsite, reports of Google's recent suckage:
- Calculator
- Gmail Contact Bug
- Users lose all email
- Google 'steals' number one space

Things are not looking very good for Google at the moment.

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10:21 PM | Posted by mike | Comments (0)

A twelve year old blogger

[Image: Twelve year old blogger]ProBlogger reported today that there is a twelve year old blogger who is getting a little fame. I think that that is pretty cool, but I personally am iffy as to the truth of this. I am starting to believe the story because of what BBC has reported (with pictures).

If you were to think of trying to read a twelve year old's writing, you would expect something that is incredibly hard to read simply because twelve year olds are bad at writing, but that is not the case here. His writing is mature enough that he is either brilliant, or he has someone proofing what he writes.

I do, however, get the feeling that some of this is a con to get money. People tend to be more generous to kids, and when a kid is asking for help, as David is, it's hard for many people to resist. The post I just linked to is the one that concerns me. It can't possibly cost $5000 to run a website. Hosting, buying, whatever, the number does not add up. I'll keep an eye on this, and see where this goes, maybe add a follow-up post some other day.

[Image: Twelve year old blogger]

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9:43 PM | Posted by mike | Comments (0)

Monday, January 1, 2007

Internet explorer: The last straw

Yesterday marked the last straw with Internet explorer. To start, it installed itself through Microsoft's automatic updates. Other than completely confusing my parents, there are other problems, too. Because of this trouble, I was able to convince my parents to use FireFox instead. Here's what's wrong with IE7:

[Image: Internet Explorer]
The first thing to notice here is that, by default, there is no File menu.

[Image: Internet Explorer]
Enabling the file menu, I found that the only position that I can put it is under the address bar, which is not a preferable position.

[Image: Internet Explorer]
On the far right side of the browser, IE7 has a duplicate menu: Tools. You can note that this shows on the File menu bar as well. While the page drop down is handy, it only selects tasks from existing menus. IE7 also moves the refresh and stop buttons to the far end of the address bar- nowhere near where it was in IE6. The same goes for the home button.

[Image: Internet Explorer]
One of the somewhat annoying things that IE7 also changes is how it handles the text being resized. In IE6, if the CSS used a pixel height, it would not change anything. Now, everything is resized, and I mean everything, even images. It basically rescales the page to create the desired text size. I would prefer it if it only did the text.

Too many things are too different from the way it previously was. If Microsoft wanted to do something right, they should have improved the existing features, not move everything around.

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6:11 PM | Posted by mike | Comments (0)
Barack Obama for President