Thursday, March 30, 2006

I'm speechless

Not as in gobsmacked and unable to find words, but actually unable to speak.

No, this is not the sign you've been looking for that there is a spiritual power answering your prayers. I just have a very nasty head cold.

So I'm sitting on my sofa looking helpless and cute with my laptop and fuzzy pink slippers wishing I had bought a Slanket before they sold out this season. I also find myself occasionally wishing I were 12 again and my mom was going to bring me some chicken noodle soup and maybe an oatmeal raisin cookie. But then I remember that when I was 12 there was no such thing as a laptop. Heck, the Colecovision was still considered bitchen then, and the first Nintendo Entertainment System wasn't even out. There was no direcTV or tivo, so I'd be stuck watching Bewitched reruns and The Joker's Wild, and whatever other crap we got on our 83 channels of ecstasy.

So I guess having to get my own soup isn't such a big deal when I've got a laptop, direcTV, tivo, pay per view, a DVD player, PC games, and an xbox to keep myself entertained.


Labels: ,

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

CanSecWest is coming up...

If you haven't checked out CanSecWest yet, I highly recommend it. It is next weekend in Vancouver BC so time is short to make your plans, but the speaker list is solid and the crowd is always high on the clueful meter if you can make it.

And if you attend cons just to party your ass off, well, you can do that at CSW too. My fave DJ, Keith, will be tearing things up Wednesday April 5 at 686. If you are skipping CSW but attending NotACon (after all, Cleveland rocks I'm told) he'll be there too on April 7-8.


Labels: , ,

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Microsoft's New Public Bug Database

Yes, you read that correctly.
Microsoft creates public bug database for IE
"Many customers have asked us about having a better way to enter IE bugs. It is asked, 'Why don't you have Bugzilla like Firefox or other groups do?' We haven't always had a good answer, except it is something that the IE team has never done before," Al Billings, a member of the IE project team, wrote in a Microsoft blog Friday.

"After much discussion in the team, we've decided that people are right and that we should have a public way for people to give us feedback or make product suggestions," he wrote.
If you have a violent allergic reaction to all things Microsoft, you'll be able to find something snarky to say about this. IMHO, it is nice to see the old dog learn a new trick. Bash their intentions, make fun of them for following instead of innovating, but at least give them credit for opening their minds to learn from the outside world and finding a way to do something that a year ago was so totally counter to their philosophy it appeared impossible.


Labels: , ,

Monday, March 27, 2006

AIDS prevention option on the horizon?

AIDS drugs promise prevention in a bottle
Pricey pill combo could keep at-risk populations from catching the virus

ATLANTA - Twenty-five years after the first AIDS cases jolted the world, scientists think they soon may have a pill that people could take to keep from getting the virus that causes the global killer.

My initial gut reaction: how cool! another scientific breakthrough making the world a healthier place!

My second thought: condoms are cheaper. and will people really remember to take the pills every day?

Ah yes, the cynic shines through the temporary haze of euphoria.

Sure, if you are an African woman condoms might be hard to get or insist your partner use. But since most African villages can't get adequate supplies of basic antibiotics, I'm not counting on them being able to afford anti-AIDS drugs for all the women to take daily on a prophyalactic basis.

Drug combo costs $650 a month

Expense also could limit use of the drugs.
Gilead donated them for the studies and sells them in poor countries at cost — 57 cents a pill for tenofovir and 87 cents for Truvada, the combination drug. That's more than the cost of condoms, available for pennies and donated by the truckload in Africa, but often unused.

well look at that, I'm not the only one who figured out the economic problem. but wait...
And in the Atlanta labs where Heneine, Folks and others are still minding the monkeys, "the level of enthusiasm is pretty high," Heneine said. "This is very promising. For us to be involved in a potential solution to the big HIV crisis and pandemic is very exciting."

Sure, finding a way to prevent HIV/AIDS is very exciting. But the public health holy grail is a one-time vaccine (with no side effects naturally), not an expensive daily drug cocktail that is harder and more expensive to acquire than condoms. The researchers - while totally reasonable to be excited by the scientific accomplishment - are missing the point. They see themselves finding a potential solution to the big HIV pandemic, but what they are forgetting is that a potential solution already exists. Solutions are only good if people actually use them.


Labels: , , ,

Friday, March 24, 2006

Free Movie Weekend

Recently we had free HBO and Cinemax, so we tivo’ed a bunch of movies to watch later. My advice from this experience: don’t watch Flight of the Phoenix. Unless of course you have time to kill with no other diversions and it is free. It wasn’t a BAD movie like WaterWorld or The Postman, or a painfully terrible movie like The Cube or Hypercube, but it was 2 hours of time I’ll never reclaim. Basic premise: plane goes down in a sandstorm somewhere in the Chinese or Mongolian desert. Rescue is unlikely and food/water is limited. A few people you don’t care about die, more people you don’t care about live. The creepy random guy convinces them that they can use the crashed plane pieces to rebuild an airworthy craft and save themselves. Fortunately the passengers were all oil rig workers and skilled in hard labor, welding, etc. None of the characters are memorable enough for me to know their names, even while watching the movie. The only decent acting is by Giovanni Ribisi who is doing a great job with a weak script/plot, but just when you think the movie will get interesting and go Dead Calm on you and someone will have to kill Giovanni before he gets all Billy Zane psycho, the writers throw in a cheesy happy ending where even the nutjob is a hero and all the passengers are harnessed onto the wings flying out of the desert. Riiiiight.

Second movie watched: I Robot. I’ll admit, even being the sci-fi geek I am, I haven’t read much Asimov and went into the movie knowing nothing about the book though I expect I’ll pick it up and give it a read once I catch up on all the other reading I’ve got lined up. It actually wasn’t bad – at least, it was better than I’d expected. To be fair, I didn’t have high expectations of a Will Smith blockbuster sci-fi remake – figured it would be more mass-market entertainment like Men In Black than hard sci-fi like A.I. or Blade Runner (and if you haven’t read Phillip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, SHAME ON YOU). Anyway, Will Smith movies are generally entertaining and this was no exception. I think it is unlikely to become a classic but at least I wouldn’t have been pissed if I’d spent money to see it in the theater.

Since we’re talking about movies, here is my list of movies I think everyone with more than half a brain should see. Not all are sci-fi/fantasy, some are twisted psychological dramas…:

Blade Runner
A Clockwork Orange
Naked Lunch
Serenity (and the 13 episode prequel tv series Firefly)
Alien quadrilogy
LOTR Trilogy (Extended Directors Editions!)

Yeah, I’m a reformed ST:TNG fan but let’s be honest, Trek movies aren’t all that great. And while I will always be a huge X-Phile, it is hard to watch the movie without the tv show momentum to feed the conspiracy drama and yummy sexual tension between Mulder and Scully (will they ever kiss? Yes! Oh no, she is passing out! Denied again!). And don’t pretend you were immune to it and it’s just a chick thing – we all know that Scully was a babe and you wanted to kiss her until she forgot that whole rational, ‘there has to be a scientific explanation’ act too.

If you are horrified I left 2001: A Space Odyssey or Star Wars off the list, you are far more of a dork than I am. Congratulations. Your Official Dork King Certificate is in the mail. Really, it is. You should go stand by the mailbox now and wait for it to arrive so you can frame and hang it before your friends come over for your weekly Dungeons and Dragons game. They will all be soooo jealous. In fact, if you want to put on your Storm Trooper costume first, I’m sure your mail delivery person will be extra impressed and take more care in the future to not mangle your envelopes or carelessly put your mail in the annoying cat-lady neighbor’s mailbox.

Maybe sometime I’ll list chick flicks you can rent to score points with your girl. Though if you are a certified Dork King you probably don’t have a girl…


Labels: , ,

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Innovations that have made my week...

First, I am stoked that someone has gotten WinXP to run on the new Intel Macs. Lets face it: Mac hardware is sexy. I'll be getting a new box when Windows Vista comes out, and this is the first step towards the possibility of that box being a Mac instead of a PC. (I know, I could get a Mac now and run OSX or Virtual PC, but I'm addicted to a number of Windows based applications and the idea of Windows running natively on a Mac is just too cool).

Forgetting for a moment my own future hardware purchases, I'm even more excited by what this means for the computer hardware industry as a whole. PC manufacturers are going to be forced to innovate and come up with better design to compete with Apple. And that is a good thing for everyone if you ask me. (for a chuckle, here is an example of Apple's m4d d3sign 5killz. You'll have to install Google Video Player - if someone has a link to this in Windows Media Player or any other media players, please send it to me and I'll add the links)

Second bit of news I feel the need to rave about is a significant advance in cancer prevention, reproductive health, and public health in general. In 2005 a vaccine for Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) was developed which should be available in the US in the second half of 2006.

HPV is extremely common. Half of all sexually active women between 18 and 22 in the US are infected (another way to think about this: more women have HPV than graduate college). HPV is harmless in 90% of cases. Unfortunately, some strains of HPV significantly increase a woman's risk for cervical cancer - HPV-16 for example is found in 50% of cervical cancers, and about a dozen other HPV types are involved in most other cases of the disease. An estimated 250,000 women die worldwide from cervical cancer each year.

It is in the news again because human trials of the vaccine have started in Australia and drug companies are starting to submit vaccines for US FDA approval - the first drug is expected to be approved in June 2006. Unfortunately there is resistance to a widespread vaccination program when the vaccines become available. This vaccine, if given to boys and girls (boys may not get cervical cancer, but they are rather instrumental in spreading HPV so it makes sense to me that they should also get the vaccine) could eradicate HPV from the planet as we have done with other infectious diseases in the past. The controversy is that the vaccine needs to be given before an individual becomes sexually active - and very few parents are comfortable acknowledging that their little angels are fooling around at age 13. But IMHO the bigger barrier to widespread vaccination is the fact that this isn't being viewed as a cancer vaccine but an STD vaccine - and we all know that there are cultural, religious, and political groups the world over which feel that "abstinence only" is the only approach to take when it comes to STDs.

The technology used to create the HPV vaccine is pretty neat - and this is one of the first medical advances to PREVENT cancer that I recall seeing. Sure, chemo and radiation might help once you've got it, and we all know that behavioral changes will prevent skin or lung cancer, but this is the first 'magic shot' for cancer prevention. Hooray for science.


Labels: , , , , , , ,

Sunday, March 12, 2006

if enough people subscribe, can I win a new boom box?

at least with RSS I don't have to go door to door to get subscribers.

I'm not sure anything I have to say is all that important... but who am I to criticize your choice in reading materials?



Saturday, March 11, 2006

Seven things I've learned this week

1. I shouldn't drive while listening to the Black Eyed Peas Monkey Business CD. I seem to be incapable of doing so without dancing in my seat and taking my hands off the wheel.

2. Very smart people don't read email instructions when sober. So giving the instructions again (even in writing) when they are intoxicated has limited effectiveness.

3. If you have a lot to get done, insomnia can be your friend.

4. Sometimes my instincts are right, and fighting for them pays off.

5. Sometimes my impulses are wrong and I should just walk away.

6. The people I work with are awesome, and I can count on them. (I knew this already, but this week was a great reminder)

7. Get the cell phone number of your limo driver, particularly if you are going to get out of the car and expect them to be there when you want to get back in.

Of course I learned quite a few other cool things this week, including several nifty tricks that will make my job easier and more interesting. I didn't think it was even possible for the Best Job In The World to get any better... heh.


Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Everything old is new again

hmm, big news week I guess. Too bad this isn't NEW news.
Microsoft Fingerprint Reader Hacked

InfoWorld - 3/7/2006
A security researcher says the Microsoft Fingerprint Reader fails to encrypt fingerprint images, making the device vulnerable to hackers.
Even the researcher points out that the Microsoft Fingerprint Reader says right on the box that it is not a security tool but a convenience for users who don't want to or have a hard time remembering passwords. This translates to me as a power toy for geeks and the forgetful.

The unfortunate thing is how the journalist glommed onto this presentation as groundshaking when Joe Grand demonstrated several ways to hack fingerprint readers as well as several other hardware devices at Black Hat Vegas in July 2005. Joey, I guess you are just ahead of your time...


Labels: , , , ,

Some people dream of success...

I think this is pretty humorous.

"Google has always had a good search, but it was the security side that it's not good at," Ellison told reporters at the annual Oracle OpenWorld Tokyo 2006 conference in Japan.

"We have the security problem solved. That's what we're good at, and that's the hard part of the problem."

- Larry Ellison

That's right, Larry "Unbreakable" Ellison is saying that Oracle has the security problem solved. I guess one theory of success is to "assume you have already won" and act that way. I don't think it is working with this guy though - he doesn't sound convinced to me...


Labels: , ,