Yay, the PATRIOT Act has been renewed for four more years. Thanks, President Obama, for keeping your campaign promises to start rolling back that monstrous legacy of the Bush administration…


I run an email server for hundreds of people. I can’t even count the number of times I get requests like this:

No, I can’t “dial back” the firewall. Stop asking.


I just met up with my friend Rick, who works at Google, and he gave me a tour of the new office in Boulder. Apparently Google is going gangbusters on hiring staff and ramping up for some big initiatives, so they’re expanding their Boulder presence.

In addition to the cool tour, he gave me a geniune Chrome frisbee he bought at headquarters in Mountain View. He said he saw it and knew he needed to buy it for me.

It’s even a regulation 175g UltraStar. Awesome. Thanks, Rick!


Today was opening day for Pirates 4: On Stranger Tides so Laralee and I trucked down to the theater to see it. I misread the showtimes so when we arrived the only show at that time was the IMAX 3D version. We sucked it up and paid an extra three bucks per ticket for the IMAX Experience.

As it turns out, the IMAX Experience can best be summed up with the one word sucked. There was some problem with the projector at the theater, and the first five minutes of the movie were eye-wrenching. They stopped playing it and apologized, telling all of us that they had to recalibrate the projector. We enjoyed about ten minutes of colored dots and boxes (none of which were in 3D, interestingly) and then they cranked it up again.

No joy. It still made you want to cross your eyes like you were staring at one of those 3D posters. They stopped and rewound it (question: how do you “rewind” a digital movie?) and said everything was ready to go. We got to watch all of the trailers again– oddly, the trailers worked very nicely in 3D. But when the movie started for the third time, I asked Laralee if it was really fixed, or if nothing had changed. She concurred nothing had changed, and by this point we were almost an hour after the movie was supposed to start.

We went out to the lobby and asked if we could watch a non-3D version which happened to be starting then, and they agreed. They gave us some coupons for free soda (small) and popcorn (also small), and we headed over to watch the same set of trailers a third time. Note to self: Zookeeper looks idiotic.

The movie worked fine in old-fashioned 2D, and turned out to be pretty good. Afterward we received two passes for a free show and they were going to refund our thirty bucks but apparently “the computer won’t let you” if the show itself has ended, so they handed us two more passes.

In the end, I guess we ended up with three movies for the price of one, and about four hours in the theater. At least the movie didn’t suck. You can’t complain about Penelope Cruz as a pirate…


Sarah’s husband Grant is turning 40 next week so she’s asking everyone she knows to send him a birthday card. I went to the store last night hoping to score a sweet Hannah Montana one, but when I saw this I knew it was the right one.

Wow, that Edward is such a dreamboat. I hope Grant likes the card.


Seen on a Linux newsgroup:

You know you are a geek when you use big-O to describe why you use virtual desktops with a direct keystroke for each desktop O(1) rather than one desktop and alt-tab to change windows O(n).

Personally, I’m an O(1) guy. It’s so much more efficient to have a quick key combination to hop between my ten desktops and do stuff than to poke around menus and windows…


Seth Godin strikes again, this time with a list of things he thinks we should teach all high school students:

Perhaps we could endeavor to teach our future the following:

* How to focus intently on a problem until it’s solved.
* The benefit of postponing short-term satisfaction in exchange for long-term success.
* How to read critically.
* The power of being able to lead groups of peers without receiving clear delegated authority.
* An understanding of the extraordinary power of the scientific method, in just about any situation or endeavor.
* How to persuasively present ideas in multiple forms, especially in writing and before a group.
* Project management. Self-management and the management of ideas, projects and people.
* Personal finance. Understanding the truth about money and debt and leverage.
* An insatiable desire (and the ability) to learn more. Forever.
* Most of all, the self-reliance that comes from understanding that relentless hard work can be applied to solve problems worth solving.

Amen, brother. There are a lot of adults that would benefit from this sort of education, methinks.


It’s like internet armageddon these days. Amazon’s cloud services went down hard last week, taking several major web sites with them. They were very close-lipped about what happened, and it turns out that maybe the Amazon cloud isn’t quite as cool as they’ve hyped it up to be. Then Sony’s Playstation network took a nose-dive, remaining offline for over a week while Sony engineers dug through the databases and learned that the account information for 70 million users had been stolen. Today Sony revealed that a few weeks ago their Online Entertainment network was also hacked, and the bad guys got away with 25 million more accounts. In all, nearly a hundred million people had their name, e-mail, mailing address, phone number, gender, and birthdate stolen. There’s credit card data in the mix as well– Sony’s already admitted up to ten million credit-card numbers have been stolen, and I imagine they’re going to fess up to some more pretty soon.

All in all, it’s a pretty dark day for the consumers who trusted these services. But hey, we’re all realists here: we recognize that despite a lot of hard work on the part of programmers, bad things sometimes happen. I think a lot of people learned a very hard lesson through all of this. However, I’m shocked by the basic response offered by both Amazon and Sony.

“Oops, our bad. Sorry!”

That’s pretty much it. Oh, Amazon agreed to offer a few days of free service to the customers whose sites were down for days. And Sony is giving customers a 30-day free subscription to their premium service. Wow. Really, guys? You compromise entire companies and the identities of nearly a hundred million people, and that’s the end of it?

I’m not a big fan of lawsuits or legislation, but this seems like a good time to take these guys to task. They screwed up big time here.

What does it mean for me, personally? Not a whole lot– I’m not in Sony’s database, and I didn’t really miss the web sites that crashed and burned at Amazon. But it’s made me rethink some of the security practices at Zing, and I think it’s time to make some updates. I haven’t compromised any of my clients’ data yet, but it’s never too soon to review and rethink what I do to protect it.