Tuesday, December 09, 2008

A few things I don't understand...

Unlike my 6-year old nephew, who once exclaimed "I know everything!", I don't know everything. Here's a few things that dumbfound me:
  • How do transgendered people know they really are supposed to be the other sex? Say you are biologicially male, how do you know you'll feel more comfortable in a female body?
  • Why do people hire life coaches that are in the same tax bracket as themselves?
  • Who buys a $50 "Jr. Size Paper Planner"?
  • How can you embrace the concept of civil union and reject same sex marriage?
  • How could the Navy have paid several millions for a network that makes traffic slow to a crawl? Network is so bad sometimes it can't even load its own error messages before timing out!
  • Why does the govt keep rewarding private contractors of failed projects with more projects for more money? SAIC I am looking at you for what you did with the FBI's VCF.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Authentication Wars

First came username/password combination. That quickly got old and unwieldily. Then came Microsoft Passport to makes authentication easier. Of course like all proprietory schemes, it failed woefully. Then came openID. While it hasn't gain much traction with regular folks, tech-savvy users have been embracing it. But oh no, here's comes Google and Facebook with their closed authentication schemes. Closed in the sense that, unlike OpenID, only Facebook can be a provider of facebook connect. Likewise Google is the only supplier of Google Friend Connect. I am sure Microsoft and Yahoo won't be far behind in coming up with their authentication schemes (not counting Microsoft Live since I have yet to see it on a non-Microsoft site).

The question isn't so much who'll win but whether coming up with all these different authentication schemes isn't creating more problems than it's solving. The original problem was this: each website requires authentication. This leads to a management issue for people that visit multiple sites. The solution: create a scheme where users can login to multiple sites with a single set of credentials. Everything else (social features, profiles etc) are just gravy on top.

So now the next time I visit a website, I won't have to remember a username/password combination. But I better remember which authentication scheme I used to create my account. Was it Faceboob Connect? Google Friend Connect? OpenID? Windows Live? yikes! I almost wish for the old days where I could simply use the same freaking username/password combo across the entire internet

Monday, November 03, 2008

1 day to go and still undecided

The election is 24 hours and way and some people still pushing the "undecided" card. How can you be an informed member of the electorate and still be undecided with less than 24 hours to go? I suppose being "decided" is not sexy enough. God knows no 24-news network will put you on if you are one of the "decided".


CNN even put one of these morons on it's cover page as an "iReporter". What a load of bull. BTW, this dude is one of the morons who claim to be democrat and yet voted in Bush for a second term in 2004. Idiots like this shouldn't be allowed to vote.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

1 day for 300 million people to vote

According to Wikipedia, this is reason why we vote on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November of every year divisible by 4:

By federal law since 1792, the U.S. Congress permitted the states to conduct their presidential elections (or otherwise to choose their Electors) any time in a 34-day period[1] before the first Wednesday of December, which was the day set for the meeting of the Electors of the U.S. president and vice-president (the Electoral College), in their respective states.[2] An election date in November was seen as useful because the harvest would have been completed (important in an agrarian society) and the winter storms would not yet have begun in earnest (a plus in the days before paved roads and snowplows). However, the problems borne of this arrangement were obvious and were intensified by improved communications via train and telegraph: the states that voted later could swell, diminish, or be influenced by a candidate's victories in the states that voted earlier. In close elections, the states that voted last might well determine the outcome.[3]

A uniform date for choosing presidential Electors was instituted by the Congress in 1845.[4][5] The actual reasons, as shown in records of Congressional debate on the bill in December 1844, were fairly prosaic. The bill initially set the national day for choosing presidential Electors on "the first Tuesday in November," in years divisible by four (1848, 1852, etc.). But it was pointed out that in some years the period between the first Tuesday in November and the first Wednesday in December (when the Electoral College met) would be more than 34 days, in violation of the existing Electoral College law. So, the bill was amended to move the national date for choosing presidential Electors forward to the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November, a date scheme already used in the state of New York.[6] Many theories have been advanced as to why the Congress settled on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

As for the day of the week chosen, in 1845, the United States was an agrarian society. Most people traveled by horse and buggy. Farmers needed a day to get to the county seat, a day to vote, and a day to get back, without interfering with the Sabbath. So that left Tuesday and Wednesday, but Wednesday was market day. So, Tuesday it was.

I think as some point, we'll have to concede that 1 day is simply not enough for 300 million people to vote. I hope that day isn't November 5th 2008.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Odd case of statistics backing up anecdotal evidence

You know that nagging suspicion you had that Bush was the worst president ever? You were right! At least since 1929, the American economy has performed the worst under Bush (if you remove Hoover who had to deal with the Great Depression).


Keep this in mind as you go to the polls on November 4th.

Full article at New York Times

Zack and Miri Make a Porno. Really?

Why would you call your movie this title? I mean seriously, dude! That's just looking for trouble where that doesn't have to be any. That's like naming your son Adolf when your last name is Hitler. Sure your son isn't the second coming of the F├╝hrer but why saddle him with having to explain that the rest of his life?

http://www.cnn.com/2008/SHOWBIZ/Movies/10/15/porno.film.ads.blocked.ap/index.html

Riddle: What happens when capitalism gets in trouble?

It calls on the family black sheep (socialism) for help! Turns out that we've all been paying lip service to the "capitalism is good and socialism is bad" world view. Capitalism is all good when we are reaping the financial windfall. But when excessive greed, lax govt oversight and an ingrained credit-based-live-above-your-means culture all combine to provide the inevitable economic bust...well then capitalism has to make way for a little socialism. God forbid we left the chips fall where they will. Instead let's reward those who have been playing Russian-roulette, those who have been buying more than they can afford (how stupid are you to think you can afford a house on minimum wage?). By default, let's punish those who have been buying only what they can afford and living within their paychecks. I guess if you are going to live irresponsibly it's good to time it right so it coincides with when the rest of the population are doing the same.

Can you imagine an American govt forcibly buying stock in publicly traded companies i.e. effectively nationalizing them? Let's just hope we do better than Mugabe did with Zimbabwean farms.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Proving yet again that it's about who you know

Otherwise how else does a 35-year old (Neel T. Kashkari) with just 6 years experience be tapped to oversee the disbursement of the $700 billion plan that'll save our country? Maybe he's a genius and will excel beyond all expectations and doubts. Or maybe he'll pull a Michael Brown (he of the FEMA fame).

If he succeeds, he'll be the true American story: son of poor Indian immigrants goes on to save our great nation.

If he fails, he'll be the next poster boy for nepotism.

Of course the irony of it all is that a self-described "free-market Republican" is oversee the govt bailout and possible takeover of companies, a decidedly anti-free-market endeavor. If we weren't on the brink of depression, I would be laughing.


Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Who's against company-provided health care?

Even if McCain gave each of us $5000, here's why you won't want to take it: employer-provided health care is better. Why? Because your premiums are based on the entire group. It's not based on each individual. What's the first question an insurance company asks when you request a quote for a new car or home insurance? They ask how many claims have you made in the last few years, right? Now imagine if your employer can provide you with group-based car insurance, don't you think you'll be paying less?

If you take McCain's health care, you better be ready to limit your trips to the doctor.

Is it really true?

That American workers are the best? the most innovative? the most importer and exporters? How can that be true when every little item comes from China? When most innovative scientific research are being done overseas when our kids can't even measure up in science and math? How can our workers be the best?

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tomorrow is last day to register for free benefits...

Tomorrow is the last day to register as a member of the class action lawsuit against TransUnion. Like all class action suits, you don't get cash benefits. But, for once, you actually get something worthwhile. You can choose to get 9-month free credit monitoring (including credit score). Sign up here: https://www.listclassaction.com/

If you had a credit card between January 1, 1987 to May 28, 2008, you qualify. What are you waiting for?

Republicans are the better politicians

Hands down they win. At least in the past 8 years they've been the top dogs while the democrats have constantly had their asses handed to them. Why are republicans better politicians? Just a look at the past 8 years of Bush and all the countless scandals (both financial and moral), the mismanagement, the monumental failures in leadership, the direction the country is heading, our educational system that creates students that can't compete internationally, our moribund infrastructure, our failure to respond to natural disasters etc. Add all that up and a stranger from Mars would think this election shouldn't even be close. But it's a dead heat.

Also, each time there's a national debate the GOP somehow manages to box the DNC into a bad corner. It's like watching a bad movie where the clueless good guy keeps getting beat by the brilliant but morally bankrupt bad guy. The latest is Bush trying to stick us with a $700 billion bill for wall street excess under the guise of these institutions are "too big to fail". So now the dems are being pressured to quickly sign this bill without any restrictions or oversight. Just give them a blank check for $700 billion. The last time we signed a bill in a rush, we got the Patriot Act. If these institutions were indeed too big to fail, where was the govt oversight when they were leveraging themselves to the hilt on bad mortgages? Where was the govt when executives of failed companies are making ginormous sums of money in golden parachutes?

But alas, the democrats are a bunch of morons who will once again wilt in the face of GOP pressure.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Surely you are kidding...

A day after the biggest bankruptcy filing in US history, Bush says it's an "adjustment"! For real? I know the president is supposed to have a calming influence but still calling the biggest bankruptcy in the nation's history an "adjustment" is taking understatement to a new level.

In the same day, McCain said these two statements 3 hours apart:

"The fundamentals of our economy are strong..."

"The fundamentals of our economy are struggling..." (or something to that effect),

I guess his advisers don't read the early morning papers. Then he came on The Today Show to claim that by "fundamentals of our economy" he was referring to "American workers". What a load of bull. Even if that were true, how much more must American workers suffer before we get some substantial relief? Before we get health care that's better than going across to Mexico for surgery? Bear Stearns must not be allowed to go under but it's ok for millions of Americans to lose their homes due to the same reckless greed on Wall Street. Fannie and Freddie get govt cheese but it's too good for American workers. Pure bull!

Unfortunately, Matt didn't press McCain on why he changed his tone 3 hours after. I am sure those who claim Palin has foreign policy experience because "she lives close to Russia" will find that lame explanation plausible.

If Americans elect McCain for a 3rd Bush term...well the statement "you get the govt you deserve" will never be truer. Final words: if you are a republican and you are not rich, you are a fool. It's really that simple! Because you are trading
  • economic relief,
  • tax breaks for the working people,
  • govt handout and
  • freedom of choice (pro-choice)
  • sex-education for teenagers
  • science education that's based on scientific theories (such a simple concept)
for
  • stupid economic policy that hasn't worked in the past 8 years
  • tax cuts for the rich (yeah if you make $250,000 AGI, you are rich)
  • more spending on false wars like Iraq
  • lack of freedom of choice (pro-life)
  • ineffective abstinence training for teenagers (come on, didn't even work for the VP-nominee's daughter)
  • science education that's based on hocus pocus (aka intelligent design. what a croc). How can we lead the world in technology when our scientific curriculum says the world was created in 7 days?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Want 9 month free credit monitoring with no strings attached?

Apparently there's a class action suit against TransUnion (one of the 3 credit agencies). Part of the settlement allows members of the class to get up to 9 months free credit monitoring.
  • Who qualifies to be a member of the class? Anyone who has had a credit since 1987.
  • How do you register to share in the settlement? Visit https://www.listclassaction.com/
  • What's the catch? None. You don't even need to enter your full SSN.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Browser Wars:

By now, you've probably downloaded, installed and been underwhelmed by Google's Chrome. And, unless you are a minimalist, you are wondering to yourself "what's all the hoopla about?" I agree with you. The current Chrome browser is nothing to get excited about. At least not for the regular user. It's less configurable than Firefox, doesn't support plug-ins and looks plainer than Jane.

Personally, I think Google is going to struggle mightily with Chrome. Why? Because they don't have any track record of successful non-webbased software. Google search, gmail, calendar all live on the web. And if you are a software developer, you know developing for the web is several orders of magnitude easier than developing for the desktop. For one, you only have to worry about very limited varianbles on the web: everybody has a browser which sorts of acts as an abstraction over the very complicated and different hardware of each computer. In fact, the only question is does my user have javascript and/or cookies turned on? However, when you come to the desktop, it's a whole different ball game. People have vastly different hardware + software combinations.

And all that's before you come to security! So yeah I think Google is going to struggle with Chrome. Will they get it right? I think so but who knows? Do you use Google Talk?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

If the race is a dead heat, is McCain winning?

Here are some known facts:
  • Bush has royally screwed up the economy.
  • McCain is generally hated by rightwing hardcore republicans
  • Obama is bringing hope back
  • Obama is cool and McCain isn't
  • McCain votes 95% of the time with Bush
  • We are all worse off than we were 8 years ago
If all these are true, why is the race so close less than 3 months to the election? Remember when we all thought McCain's presidential campaign was dead in the water? I think Obama should be really really worried. I think unless things change, McCain will win the election and democrat will, yet again, be the chronic underachievers.

How can Obama turn it around? I don't know! If I knew, I would be in DC peddling my services :D

Monday, August 25, 2008

Why would you think it's ok...?

Why would anyone think it's okay to take pictures from a designer's website, post it on a facebook group without getting permission first or giving credit to the owner? And when the owner says "You shouldn't have stolen my pictures of my designs and posted it on your group", the person responds "I was offering you free advertising. You (the designer) should have come to tag your pictures".

Seriously, why would anyone think this is appropriate? Free advising on a free website? Just stupid really. Luckily for her, they weren't my pictures. Otherwise, she'll be explaining her case to facebook instead.

The scary thing is she's not alone in thinking like this. And it really scares me that people of my age-group and younger still have retarded thought process like this: I am going to steal your stuff, post it on my group where people copy designs and when you complain, I am going to act like you are not recognizing the HUGE favor I did for you.

Monday, August 04, 2008

America as software

I think America is like a piece of very well designed software. In the beginning the framers of the constitution put every everything they could conceivably think of: freedoms of speach, religion etc; separation of church and state; checks and balances with the 3 arms of government. Truly, the constitution was a very well designed framework upon which to build a country. And that's what we did.

But like every piece of software, I am thinking the time is near for a redesign of America. If you are a software developer you know what I am talking about. You can only tweak a design so much before you have to start from scratch. It's like trying to make additions to a house. Sure you can do amazing things using your existing foundation but at some point you are gonna need to redo the foundation before you can make further changes.

Maybe I am wrong. Maybe I am just disillusioned with America. It's like dating the prom queen only to find out she's worse than the local "day time prostitute" (My Name is Earl). Growing up in Nigeria, America was like the epitome of everything right in government.
  • If you hear about someone getting beaten up in police custody you knew it couldn't happen in America (wrong: America now approves of torture).
  • If the current despotic dictator creates a decree and backdates it, you knew it couldn't happen in God's own country (wrong: they just passed a bill that retroactively protects telecom companies that helped the govt illegally spy).
  • If you heard about govt officials embezzling money, you knew that couldn't happen in the US of A (wrong: bridge to nowhere, cash in freezer, free home renovation for Sen. Ted Stevens).
  • When you heard of ignoramuses in power, you thought surely not in America (wrong: Brown in charge of FEMA, Sen. Ted Stevens in charge of regulating the Internet).

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Student Loan Repayment

Got the usual annual letter from Direct Loan Servicer for my student loans. Last year, the letter really pissed me off because of the substantial increase in the interest rate. Yeah I got one of those variable rate loans (at least I was lucky enough to get one with deferred interest). Anyway, I was so pissed I nearly refinanced my loan. Well am glad I didn't because 2 things happened:
  • the interest rate on my loans dropped about 3% for the next year. I guess the failing economy/high gas prices is good for more than reducing road accident fatalities
  • I realized that I had just $8000 and change left of my student loans (started with about $22,000)
So today, I sent in a 1-time payment for $5000. Next paycheck, I am paying the rest off! Would be nice to live without that monthly direct debit from my account!

How did I get 2 degrees on $22,000?
  • take only what you need. It's so easy and tempting to use your student loans for other purposes (like a new car). After all, the interest is usually lower than you'll get. It's even more tempting if you managed to get one of the deferred-interest loans
  • work for a company that offers tuition reimbursement and take FULL advantage of it.

Friday, June 20, 2008

America is a freaking joke

Why? Remember how the govt has been exposed for spying on innocent (at least until proven) Amercians? Remember how they co-opted some telcos to spy for them? Well there's a new bill in Congress that'll effectively decriminalize what the telcos did i.e. retroactively make it legal for them to have helped the govt spy on innocent Americans. Yep this is 2008 American. Need I remember anyone that Nixon was forced to resign for spying on fellow policitians. But Bush gets a pass because he's so put the fear of terrorists into us we are willing to take anything.

F**king joke this country is. I am so pissed right now. BTW, this bill will update the current FISA law. This is the law that says the govt cannot wiretap without getting approval from a secret "rubber stamp" court. And if they can't, they are allowed to wiretap for 3 days before getting the warrant. Bush already trampled all over that. And now this new bill will give them 7 days. If I didn't live in this country, I'll laugh. It's like giving a bankcrupt person more money to spend.

I suppose one can't expect anything different from a country where torture is legal!

To immigrant Nigerians who went through Babangida and Abacha's rule, I bet you thought the days of backdating laws was over when you came here :)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

What to do: Practical Tips for a job interview

Like I said in a previous post Practical Resume Don'ts, I sometimes have to interview potential candidates for open positions are my job. Here are some tips for that elusive job interview:

  • Don't be afraid to say you don't know. It's better than cooking up wrong answers. Or saying "I can easily google that"
  • Talking about Google, don't use "I can easily google that" as your answer to every question or even to most questions. 
  • Please please don't disparage your current/previous job. It just doesn't look good. 
  • Don't make me an accomplice to you cheating on your timesheet at your current job. One candidate told me he "just left work" and will "go back whenever. Or maybe not even go back at all". 
  • Don't ask me how you did, whether you'll be hired or what your pay will be. For one, I don't control all that. And if I did, I wouldn't even tell you. So why even ask?
  • No begging!
  • Do ask questions about the company, what I work on. Doesn't matter if you don't care about the answer or if you've already done your research, it still helps to ask questions.
  • Do speak English. No offense. English is not my first language either but if I can't understand you I simply can't recommend that you be hired. Just can't do it. 
  • Know your stuff. Nothing, absolutely nothing, counts more than this.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Welcome to McDonald's. May I take your order?

So you pull up to the drive through, place your order, drive to the second window, pay & pick up your junk food. Unbeknownst to you, you've just participated in a inter-state commerce! Yep! McDonald's is testing a system that allows them to take drive through orders at remote locations. They claim it increases accuracy. Unless the local people are morons, how can taking my order remotely from thousand of miles away, putting it in a system that'll be then be accessed locally be faster and more accurate than just letting the high schooler behind the window take the order? Unless they are outsourcing the service to places with very very low minimum wage (can someone say India).

I think this is just another example of wrong use of technology. Seriously!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

InfoPath & SharePoint (Part 1)

A departure from sports and politics. This one is about technology.

InfoPath sucks and SharePoint is the most expensive piece of crap ever. InfoPath, as a development environment, has absolutely no redeeming value. It's worthless and if your boss ever thinks of using it, you have three options:

  • convince him not to (not easy once he's been brainwashed by the Microsoft marketing presentations)
  • use one of Al Gore's lockboxes to store away your sanity 'cos you'll lose it. Also, pad your estimates very generously. You'll need every bit of time you can get.
  • quit immediately while you still have your sanity
First, InfoPath:

To me InfoPath is like programming in assembly language. Sure it makes it easy (too easy in fact) to bind data to controls. But it doesn't provide you with easy access to your controls. Why is this important? Say you want to disable a button:

in most technology: buttonA.enabled = false (or something similar).

In InfoPath, you simply can't do this. You have to use something called "conditional formatting" to bind the button's enabled state to the a data field. While this is not so bad in theory it quickly breaks down in practice where you have multiple buttons. And where you sometimes have to set a button's enabled state to another button's state. In InfoPath, you'll have to "point & click" to set up conditional formatting for each and every button.

InfoPath doesn't have a label control. If you are developer, you'll know why this is glaring oversight. In fact, InfoPath has a very limited set of controls. Thinking about adding custom controls, good luck! You'll need to write ActiveX and convince your users to download your controls to their browser. Say goodbye to non-IE users.

InfoPath forms are saved in a proprietary binary format (really it's just a cab file). Why is this an important deal breaker for any sane developer? Because having ALL your source code in a binary format makes source control virtually impossible.

Now, InfoPath is not totally useless. You just have to use for what it is designed for (i.e. simple forms). And even then, trying to push the envelope will cause you untold amount of headache.

I'll write about SharePoint in my next post. Of course, it goes without saying that this is my personal opinion.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

So the NBA is indeed rigged. Ha like we didn't know...

If you watch NBA games and ever wondered why the officiating is what it is, you've gotta read this: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/basketball/nba/06/10/betting.probe.ap/index.html. It explains why some a game can attempt 27 free throws in a 12 minute quarter. That's a little over 2 free throws per minute. Factoring in a 24-second shot clock, that's a lot of free throws to occur "naturally".

Of course David Stern (NBA commissioner) is already out there discrediting the ex-ref that made the allegations. Sure he's under indictment for fixing NBA games but still where there's smoke, there's fire. Otherwise, how can LeBron consistently take 3-4 steps without a dribble? How do you explain the NBA suspending a key player 5-6 hours before a crucial playoff game? The NBA is rigged. Watch it like you would a reality show. Sure the minor plots are unscripted but the main outcome is carefully orchestrated.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Why are *you* on the Obama bandwagon?

As a realist, I know even though I don't like it Obama is going to win the nomination. But I still haven't found an Obamite that can tell me exactly why he/she is on the Obama bandwagon. Without using the words "cool", "young", "hip", "change washington" or any such nonsense. It just seems people are on the bandwagon (and yes it is a bandwagon) because
  • they think Obama is cool and all the cool people are with him (Jimmy Carter, college students that don't know electoral college from community college)
  • they realize Obama is gonna win and it's better to hitch your trailer to a winner (e.g. John Edwards)
So, tell me, why do you love Obama? Why do you think he's the best democratic candidate when he can't even win states that democrats, traditionally, must win in general elections?

To me this is how I see it: Obama is a risky choice since he can't win the "blue" states. You can preach all you want about a single America but to win elections in this country: you've gotta carry the states of your party, steal some from the other guy's party and hope the independents and old people don't confuse you for Nader. So fair or not, hopeful or not, there's a clear path that each party's candidate must take to get the required number of electoral college votes (of course it helps if your father has pals in the supreme court that can swing things your way. that's the ultimate joker.)

Clinton has demonstrated that she can win using the tried and true democratic path (after all she won the big "blue" states).

Obama is saying to hell with all that tried and true formula. I am writing my own rules. I am going to contest in every state and run a true national campaign. None of that blue state, red state for me.

So the question for you, as a voter, is are you willing to take a chance with Obama? Or will you go for the tried and true formula?

Of course, with Obama racking up so many super delegate endorsements you may not really have a choice!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Surcharge: a capitalist's favorite word

How do you raise prices without raising them? Sounds like a trick question but it's not. If you are frequent air traveler, you are no doubt familiar by now with all the "surcharges" airlines levy on their passengers. Fuel surcharge, baggage handling surcharge, airport security surcharge etc So what's a surcharge? According to Merriam-Webster, a surcharge is an "overcharge", is to "charge an extra fee". To these airline companies, surcharges are a way to keep ticket prices low but still bilk the consumer to death. Sure you can search for cheap tickets on expedia and other such sites, but when airlines can charge whatever they want under the guise of various surcharges, are you really getting a good deal on your tickets? Imagine if every industry started adding on surcharges...we'll end up with something like this:

  • from fast food companies: sure we have a dollar menu but there's a $0.99 surcharge
  • "extra topping surcharge" for pizza
  • security surcharge at shopping malls

Thursday, May 08, 2008

NSL makes America a SHAM!!!

Imagine you live in a country where the govt's internal security service can issue a secret letter that authorizes them to get ALL sorts of DATA on INNOCENT citizens. Not only that, the letter is not subject to ANY judicial approval and the recipient(s) ARE BARRED from EVER revealing its existence! So let's review:

* secret govt agency can get records on innocent citizens
* citizens can't disclose the existence of the letter

If you lived in such a country, perhaps you'll cry out about the injustice, the trampling of rights. Perhaps you'll even cry for America to come to your aid. Well, you'll be sorely dissappointed. That country is America. And yes the FBI can issue a National Security Letter to get ALL your records (internet, phone etc). You may think "well it's time of crisis and am sure the FBI uses this power judiciously"...again you'll be wrong. The FBI issued 50,000 NSL each year. That's a lot of secret subpoenas that don't require judicial approval.

And to think America walks around posing like the picture of democracy...what a lie!

So how do you fight an FBI's NSL: you hope the recipient of the letter has enough balls to sue them! The Internet Archive did and won: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/05/07/AR2008050703808.html?hpid=topnews

Friday, May 02, 2008

The NBA is a rigged league

Why? I am not some conspiracy theorist but here are the facts:

* LeBron throws an elbow at Andray Blatche's head in Game 1. No call. However, he's retroactively fined just before Game 3. That's 4-6 days later. Wizards get no advantage of free throws or suspension of a key player.

* Haywood gets a flagrant foul in game 3. No suspension (but then the tide was definitely in Cleveland's favor).

* Darius Songaila, a guy who's not known for getting techs, accidentally hits LeBron in Game 5. He's tee'd up.

* The kicker: 5 hours before a critical Game 6, Songaila is suspended. How do you announce a suspension of a key reserve just 5 hours before a fricking game? At that point, you know the coaches have finished their game plans.The teams have had their LAST practice. And now you suspend a key reserve? That's like the NFL suspending a player on Sunday, before the game.

If that's not fixing the results, well the NBA is really going to extreme lengths to make it appear so. I suppose a Celtics vs Cleveland matchup is sexier to the NBA. Bucking fastards.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Google: Evil or not?

We all know Microsoft is evil. At least we've been told that so many times, we almost believe it. Similarly, Google was the good guy. The anti-Microsoft, the little guy that got big but still cared about the users and their privacy.

Well, disabuse your mind of that notion. Google is evil. At least on their way to being evil. Why? Read these 2 blog items:

consumerist.com
smoking gun

The gist of it: Google has been taking pictures of people's homes (without notice) and using it in its "Streets View". It's one thing to take pictures of public spaces but to drive into a private driveway, take high-rez pictures of private property, use it to make money and potentially expose the owners of the properties to burglary...if that's not evil, what is?

Case #2: Google keeps a history of your search activity. For a looong time.

Case #3: Google released "Google Search" and didn't even disclose that the software is really a webserver in disguise. What's the harm? Now your computer is exposed to potentially dangerous incoming traffic. Plus, running Google search renders your computer to any and all vulnerabilities in the webserver.

Case #4: Very similar practice to what Microsoft does. First it was simply search, then gmail, then google videos, then google checkout, then google talk, then orkut. Now they are out with something called "AppEngine" that's gonna compete with Amazon's S3 cloud computing.

While am not saying Google is wrong is expanding their empire, it's just ironic to me that this is exactly the kind of practice for which Microsoft is wildly criticize.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Beware of phishermen

I got this email last week and it was too good not to share. It's a phishing scam. But unlike previous ones, it's not that obvious. It's looks eerily like official Bank Of America communication. And clicking the link in the email takes you to a bank that (aside from the URL) looks very very similar to BoA's site.




The good news is that a few hours after I got the email (and report it to Google via FireFox), the site was blacklisted. After that, FireFox absolutely refuses to load the fake site while IE displayed a strong warning.

Still, makes you wonder what a senior citizen would have done?

Friday, February 08, 2008

George Bush's Legacy

Eugene Robinson's editorial in today's washingtonpost It's quite interesting and on point. We have come to a state in this country where we are quibbling over whether simulated drowning is torture. Where the Attorney General cannot simply state whether a particular act is torture (hence illegal) or not (hence legal). Where the Director of National Intelligence says, of waterboarding:

"If I had water draining into my nose, oh God, I just can't imagine how painful! Whether it's torture by anybody else's definition, for me it would be torture."

Now some people might say "so what? we torture a few bad guys and America is safer for it". To that I say, aren't we supposed to be better? If your religious leader's claim to moral superiority is the fact that he/she isn't as bad as the Devil, that'll suck.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Practical Resume Don'ts

I work for a small company. One of the "perks" of doing so is having to interview potential candidates. My resume is probably not the best but still I am amazed at some of the stuff I see regularly in people's resumes. Here's a small list:
  • Do not make more than 1 typo (really!)
  • Do not list any technology that's so old even the developer doesn't support it (so don't tell me you are an expert in Windows 3.0)
  • Please do not make your resume 7 pages (no you are not that smart and I am not interested in what you did 13 years ago)
  • Don't consistently misspell the name of a technology/product in which you are an expert!
  • If you are experienced, I have no interest in your college courses. Really, what does it matter that you took assembly language in college?
  • I don't expect you to tailor your resume perfectly to my company but at least tailor it to the position you are interviewing for. If you are interviewing to be a software developer, why would you think listing that you worked as a data entry clerk will impress anyone?
  • Similarly, if you want to be hired as a software developer, don't tell me you are an expert in "pearl". Just not cool.