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Showing posts from 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 .

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

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.

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 tha

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?

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

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.

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?

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: 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

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

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 What's the catch? None. You don't even need to enter your full SSN.

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 questio

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

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.

Come on, China. How can she be 16?

Perks of being POTUS?

Really, that's him!

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 "

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

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

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 co

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!

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&

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: . 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.

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 sin

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

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 requi

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 i

Nice price for a monitor...if only you can buy it

Quickpost this image to Myspace, Digg, Facebook, and others!

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: 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

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?

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.

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 thi