Archive for the 'geek' Category

1337 politix

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

If you’re a politically-inclined geek you will probably find this to be full of WIN, even if you aren’t a Democrat. And if you are a geeky Democrat, well… it might contain too much WIN for your WIN containment fields, so power up before you click that link.

[tho’ I’ve seen this link lots of places today, I finally clicked on it from PZ’s place]

We are the Borg. Resistance is futile.

Saturday, July 12th, 2008



Friday, July 4th, 2008

At first, I thought it was typical penis-pill spam. You know the type: “Iron rod now!!!!!! 87% OFF FOR MAY! FREE SHIPPING!!!!”

As patterns go, it’s a pretty predictable one: some stupid erection analog with exclamation points (‘Erections!’ he ejaculated. Sorry. Free associating.) followed by some discount that’s never a number you ever see when actually, you know, shopping (94% off! 86% discount! 97%!!! Who discounts stuff at 97%? At that point, why not the age-old favorite “Hey kid, first one’s free.”?) followed by promises of discretion or free shipping or whatever else it takes to get you to click on their links.

Still, this one didn’t quite fit the pattern: “Shofars 60% OFF + FREE Delivery”

Lots of caps, a discount, free shipping, and a reference to a long, hard, pointy thing. But shofars? That’s pretty esoteric for spammers. So I had to open it… How could I not?

And lo! It really was for shofars. So, add to your list of dirty rotten spambags the Israeli company Evidently, lots of businesses share their mailing address, so I’m guessing that’s an Israeli version of Mailboxes, Etc.

Hey, since they had to have sent this late Friday night their time, isn’t it forbidden to spam on Shabbat? Or is a bot net for spamming more like the Sabbath elevators, and therefore not really work? Or maybe they’ve contracted with a Shabbat goy to send the spam…

Ah, questions for the ages!

for (int i = 0; i < someUpperbound; i++){ /*do stuff*/ }

Thursday, July 3rd, 2008

I don’t often comment on the search strings that bring people here – they certainly aren’t as interesting as the lesbian vampire sex permutations that bring random (and disappointed) browsers to The Mystery of the Haunted Vampire. (See what you have to look forward to, Doug?)

This morning, however, I got a doozy, one that really and truly prompted a “Dude. Wait. What?” moment, complete with mental needle-on-record sound effects. If you aren’t a programmer or otherwise IT-minded, skip this one – I really won’t mind. If you are, however, please join me after the jump…


No, you never can be…

Friday, June 27th, 2008

…sure, that is.

30-second science blogging: The Earth and Moon…

Wednesday, June 11th, 2008

…as seen from Mars! How freakin’ cool is that?

The Earth and Moon, as seen by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA\'s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
(click on the picture for full-size image)

[h/t to Oliver Willis]

Kids these days…

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

This morning, I read an interesting article (just before it succumbed to slashdotting) called ’13 reasons why Ruby, Python and the gang will push Java to die… of old age.’ Nothing earth-shattering in it, but one of the author’s points was that successful languages tend to be backed by large companies – to which someone commented:

C++ wasn’t sponsored by any big company.

Really? AT&T doesn’t count as a big company? ‘Ma Bell’? Bell Labs? Maybe not so much now, but man – back in the day…

Alas, my attempt at delivering snark to target was stymied by this:

Maximum concurrency limit of 10 exceeded.Currently serving the following requests:


If you are the owner of this website, you may need to upgrade to a more advanced plan.

(A max of 10 concurrent requests? yeesh… I’m surprised I was even able to read the posting.) Anyway, I’m sure that by now someone has managed to get through and point this out. And if no one has, well… there’s always tomorrow – or six hours from now when the slashdotting hordes have moved on to their next… wait… sorry… what’s that?

Ooooh, shiny.

*ahem* Where were we? Oh yeah: You call that music? Turn that noise off! Now get off my lawn, before I call the police!

It’s Comtastic!

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

Are they even using that slogan any more? At any rate, I went to check my primary webmail about 15 minutes ago, and was greeted by this:

(click for full size)

As of now, it’s fixed, sorta… The ‘under construction’ image is still bleeding through a background image in various regions of my webmail’s UI.


[edited to add: as of 10:47PM PDT, it’s back! Boy, I wouldn’t want to be a Comcast support grunt tonight…]

[edited to add: as of 29 May 2008 4:50PM PDT, it’s looking like they were the victims of a DNS hijacking. From TFA:

“We are doing all kinds of forensic analysis of the records to see what exactly happened,” said Charlie Douglas, a Comcast spokesman. “Somebody logged into the account at Network Solutions and made alterations to our settings and account information and redirected to another site. Whoever did it was not authorized to do that.”

I’ll bet they weren’t.]

Watch out for – only the ‘.com’ part is true

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

Just a ‘heads up’ about a commenter named ‘Jamie Holts’ who has been leaving a lot of innocuous comments on political blogs over the last 24 hours – ‘Jamie’ is a spammer. His ‘blog’ is, which appears to consist solely of content stolen from; his ‘blogroll’ consists of links to bulk emailing software, keylogger software, splog generation software, gambling sites and get-rich-quick sites.

‘Jamie’ is building up his site’s Google juice by leaving innocuous, link-free comments that will easily get past most comment spam traps; if you use a spam-fighting service like Askimet and get a comment from someone linking back to, please flag the comment as spam before you delete it.

Jamie Holts is a spammer; is a splog. Pass it on… :-)

Truer words and all that…

Sunday, April 27th, 2008

In the old spam filter this morning, an email with the following subject:

We are a dodgy drugstore

Hmmm… I bet you are:

Web definitions for dodgy
chancy: of uncertain outcome; especially fraught with risk

The Joy of Anal Text

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008

Here’s a hot tip, boys and girls: never try to normalize your data using text fields as your primary identifier. The computer won’t know that “Some Company, Inc” is supposed to be the same as “Some Company, Inc.” or “Some Company Inc”; likewise, “Department” is not the same as “Dept.” is not the same as “Dept” even if they represent the same entity – and the programmer will hate you when they also have to investigate manually find out that “SomeOtherCompany 2000, Inc” is different from “SomeOtherCompany2000, Inc”.

No, really. They will. Upper-case-H-A-T-E, hate you. Curiously ineffective splog

Saturday, April 19th, 2008, also know as Math Resources, is a crappy little splog. You see, they scraped my content about The Boy’s math homework because, clearly, I’m providing some deep insight into math or homework or math homework. Isn’t it obvious that my account of eye-rolling is a highly-sought math resource? But wait! you say. What if they’re a (math) legitimate aggregator? You know, it’s (math) automated so maybe it’s (mathematics) overly inclusive?

Alas, this would be (math) wrong. See, they attributed my piece to ‘unknown’ – but the (math) spider/scraper/whatever-they’re-using stored my pseudonym to tack on to someone else’s stolen content.

So no, they just like to scrape the internet for keywords like math. Math. Math. Would I piss in their Google Juice by retyping keywords or phrases like math or mathematics or math test or math homework? Would I want them to steal this (math homework) content? I certainly (math) might.

As for the ‘curiously ineffective’ label? Their ad fraud has already been caught by Google. Pathetic little splog fraudsters… but I repeat myself.

Sweet Jesus Tap-dancing Christ, do I hate MySQL

Saturday, April 12th, 2008

Lest you think I’ve drunk deeply of the Open Source Kool-Aid, let me please politely but forcefully disabuse you of that notion… Let’s talk about MySQL.

So… MySql? This darling of the Open Source scene, recently purchased by Sun because they were losing out on that whole Web 2.0 thang and needed to acquire some piece of that hot, sweet, sweaty LAMP stack action by hook or crook? Yeah, that MySQL.

It sucks. And I don’t mean a little, I mean lots. And by lots I mean more suck than James Dyson will need in hundreds of lifetimes. I mean suck on the order of Harley-starting, golf-balls-through-garden-hoses, black-hole-consuming-galaxies suck.

Did I mention MySQL sucks?

As part of the project referenced in my last post, I need to match data in a MySQL database to data in an Excel spreadsheet to data in a Microsoft SQL Server database, then ported back to a MySQL database. The client wants the code that will do all this to be SQL, not a compiled language, which means that most of this will have to be written in MS SQL Server since that’s the only platform that can really read all three data formats. So what’s the problem with MySQL?

Where to begin…

Never mind MySQL’s atypical SQL dialect – that’s pretty much par for the course when it comes to SQL databases, and there are regular expression libraries and code bases out there that will convert 90% of your Microsoft-specific SQL code to MySQL-specific code. Forget MySQL’s use of the back-tick as a way of identifying table and field names – sure, quotes or square brackets would be far more standard, but maybe (maybe) the back-tick is in a reasonable position on a Swedish keyboard instead of being in the carpal-tunnel-inducing location it is on standard English keyboards. Because, you know, you wouldn’t want something to identify something as esoteric as table and field names to be in an inconvenient location, right? And we definitely won’t talk about how MySQL barely deserves to be classified as an RDBMS (Relational DataBase Management System) since it, well, doesn’t entirely support the R part of that acronym. Hey, referential integrity is overrated, right?

No, these idiosyncrasies pale beside the horror of actually trying to use MySQL’s tools. Oh, the command line tools work well enough, as does MySQL QueryBrowser and MySQL Administrator (as long as you don’t expect to work with anything other than MySQL data sources). No, let’s talk about their offerings intended to make MySQL a viable alternative for commercial solutions.

So, my struggles with Visio and MS SQL Server? Laughably minor when compared to how crappily MySQL’s Workbench works. Want to reverse-engineer a MySQL database with their visual designer? You can’t – at least, not with the ‘community’ version, only the commercial version. One problem with this – they haven’t released the commercial version yet, and the community version’s been available for a while now.

Want to migrate a MS SQL Server database to MySQL using MySQL’s Migration Toolkit? Good luck connecting to your MS SQL database. From what I can tell on MySQL’s forums, I am far from alone in facing this problem, and… there’s no clear fix for it. There are no checklists detailing what the configuration needs to be for either the source or destination server – you’re on your own, there. Oh, and don’t bother with the video ‘tutorial’ for migrating MS SQL to MySQL – besides being utterly simplistic, it shows the user doing something you can’t apparently do: save a connection to a MS SQL database for MySQL to reuse. Sure, you can edit the XML file that stores saved user connections – good luck finding documentation on what the values need to be for the connection elements to actually work properly.

So maybe you can port MS SQL structures and data by running MS SQL queries against a linked MySQL database. After all, as far as I can tell, every other database driver that lets you link MS SQL to other databases will let you do this – and you can do it in reverse, copying MySQL to MS SQL. Ha. Nope. Apparently, I don’t have privileges to do anything other than view data from the linked server – even though I’m connecting to it using the MySQL root login. “CREATE TABLE foo (bar INT NOT NULL, baz varchar(255) NULL);”? Forget it. Not gonna happen. Not using any of the tools provided by MySQL anyway.

Computers. Programmers. Software. Hmph.

Sweet Jesus Tap-dancing Christ, do I hate Microsoft

Friday, April 11th, 2008

Obviously, it’s been ages since I’ve had to do any formal database design work. My benchmark? I was totally unaware that you could no longer reverse-engineer or modify databases using Visio. Hasn’t been possible since, oh, something like Visio 2003.

(Aside: you can still use older versions of Visio to modify SQL Server 2005 databases, just expect a ton of (apparently harmless) error messages if you use the built-in SQL Server drivers. I’m led to believe that the ODBC driver will do it just fine, too. Thank whomever for legacy support for 16-bit technology, eh? Good luck finding a legal obsolete version of Visio, though.)

So I installed a 90-day trial of Visual Studio 2008 Team System. ‘Coz, you know, it includes the latest MS SQL development tools.

This entails…

…a 4GB download.

So I can export a database diagram I’ve already created to a format that, oh, I CAN SHARE WITH A CLIENT!

And, as it turns out, you still can’t actually export the database diagram in any form than a SQL script. Fortunately, we had an ancient version of Visio lying around the office. But damn…

(And don’t get me started on Apple, Sun, or the vast preponderance of Open Source stuff, either. Right now, I hate ’em all. Computers. Software. Programmers. Hmph.)

Über-geeky navigational maps

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

I’ve had this sitting in my drafts folder for a while, so while I wait for a stoopidly-huge download to finish copying, I thought I’d share this… Via Panbo comes this link to a website that’s a mashup of Google Maps and NOAA’s marine navigational charts.

You can adjust the opacity of the chart layer with the slider control labeled “NOAA” – as you move the slider from right to left, the Google Map layer becomes more visible.

Chart view:

NOAA chart of the Ship Canal in Ballard, Seattle, WA

Overlay view:

Google Maps overlay of NOAA chart showing Ballard Ship Canal, Seattle, WA
Click on images for full-sized screenshots

Now if someone would only make a reasonably-priced IPX7 or IPX8-rated internet-enabled device that could display these puppies… Combine that with a GPS module, and you’d have a really cool toy useful gadget.