Thursday, November 29, 2007

Florida Demands a Recount

I think there are more old Jews roaming the aisles of the Rockville, MD Whole Foods than reside in the entire state of Florida.

By the way, the Onion's new book, Our Dumb World, is an atlas which describes Florida as Our Nation's Silent Holocaust: Where old people are sent to die.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Wii Arbitrage

I suppose Black Friday madness is good for something: I found myself in possession of 1 more Nintendo Wii than I needed, so I decided to get rid of it on eBay.
Posted: 11/24 9:59pm
Sold: 11/24 11:27pm
Method: Buy It Now
Price: $400.00

I wanted to price it for a quick sell, so I used eBay's shipping calculator to charge the actual shipping, and not gouge the buyer like most sellers do. I looked at what Wiis were selling for: $360.00-$450.00.

This is how it broke down:
$419.58 Seller Paid ($400.00 + $19.58 Shipping and Insurance)
- $ 12.47 Paypal Fees
$407.11 Received from eBay
- $262.49 Cost of Wii + tax
- $ 17.35 eBay fees
- $ 29.00 USPS shipping (I was late getting it off so I sent it Priority Mail at my expense)
$ 98.27 Profit

So stand in line this holiday season, and make yourself almost $100 free and clear.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I'm Ready for College to be Over

I sick to-fucking-death of group projects.

I hate them.
I hate them.
Hate hate hate.

I ran out of time yesterday write comments on the course evaluation for my database class. I started with "the book is 10 years out of date" and got about half my bullet list of issues done before the turn-in volunteer wanted to leave.

I don't think I blogged that I registered for Spring semester: I found out earlier this month that I can't graduate until Summer because of the four classes I have left is a prerequisite for another. It's alright because it lets me stretch the last of my classes out over a little longer period, and affords me a tiny bit more personal life.

I'm very, very tired though. I know I'm close to the end, and I know I'll get it done, but I'm so very, very over it.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Safeway Supercomputer

When an odd thought strikes me, I usually send a text message about it to several friends and see what sticks:

theAlphaJohn: When I buy a bottle of Pinotage and break-and-bake cookies, do you think the Safeway Supercomputer assumes I'm a lesbian who just miscarried?
Mike: Or your boyfriend of 7 years finally told you that he's not the marrying type.
theAlphaJohn: Either way, a Lane Bryant coupon should have spit out.

Just because they make it in your size, girl, doesn't mean you should wear it. :/

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Congratulations! You Have Found the Secret Message

Did you know Apple has a page to submit feedback on any product they fucking make??

I decided I have an issue with Time Machine:

If I had a Time Machine, I'd Fast Forward a Year

According to The Boston Globe, "Giuliani says he'll do in DC what he did in NYC":

In a flurry of images, including a magazine cover about the "rotting of the Big Apple," an announcer gives a litany of the problems facing New York when Giuliani took office: "The world's 17th largest economy. Swimming in red ink. Record crime. Runaway taxes. A million on welfare. That was New York."

Then the announcer adds: "Until Rudy. He cut taxes 9 billion. Welfare 60 percent. Crime in half. The most successful conservative turnaround in 50 years."

I know the guy gets off on Broken Window Theory, but I really don't think the rest of America wants a bossy, Italian father to make then clean their room and go to bed on time.

I was telling a coworker yesterday that if Hillary runs against Rudy, it will be like a Subway Series: imagine the sound of every television in 49 states changing the channel.

But I think there is something to work with about a reality show where Rudy brings his ideas to DC, and Hizzoner brings his ideas to NYC? We'll call it: Trading Mayors.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Help Wanted: Chief Terrorism Advisor

According to WaPO:

President Bush's chief terrorism adviser announced yesterday that she is stepping down early next year, the latest in a series of high-level exits from the White House as the Bush presidency heads toward its final year.

Frances Fragos Townsend, the president's homeland security and counterterrorism adviser, has managed the White House response to all manner of natural disasters and extremist threats over the past 4 1/2 years. "We are safer today because of her leadership," Bush said.

Those are some big shoes to fill. Where could we hope to find someone with both the leadership experience and the knowledge of terrorist safe-harbors like Pakistan to replace Frances Townsend?

Oh that's right: Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto!

Not only is she qualified, but the EEOC will be thrilled that we're replacing one woman with another. Too bad she's under house arrest...

Monday, November 19, 2007

Apples Moves to the Top of my Shit List

Before I started the new job, I made this ridiculous spreadsheet to decide what new laptop I would be buying:

In reality, I wanted a new MacBook Pro, and I wanted to try and justify the at least 100% price premium between a Dell and a Mac.

I finally settled on the 2.2ghz welfare MBP for $1866 (with the education pricing, thanks so much) and ordered it. On November 1st, iWhore John sent me a couple Mac rumors sights that indicated that the MBP had moved to Santa Rosa architecture. I called Apple, and because it was ordered on October 30th and not October 31st -- even though it had not shipped -- my order wasn't transitioned automatically.

So I canceled it.

It turned out that the Santa Rosa chipset/bus speed change was for the MacBook, not the MBP. The mention of the MBP had to do with the addition of the 2.6ghz clock speed.

Well fuck: I need a laptop, and I just canceled the one I ordered...for no good reason.

I added Apple Care to my online order, and I think every Mac owner should have it (I loved my G4 Powerbook: $2500, 13 months old, busted keyboard, flickering screen, flaky motherboard), but you can buy it in month 11 for the same price and extend the warranty 2 more years: why give Apple your money a year early?

I knew I wanted 4GB of RAM, and my understanding was that the 2.2ghz MBP came with 2 x 1GB of RAM while the 2.4ghz and 2.6ghz came with 1 X 2GB of RAM. That said, if I wanted to upgrade the 2.2ghz to 4GB, I'd have to throw out the 2GB it came with and buy a 4GB kit, but if I bought the 2.4ghz or 2.6ghz I only needed to buy an additional 2GB stick.

When you consider the $239 Apple Care deferment, and the $100 ram savings for not throwing any out, it's probably worth $433 more to get the 2.4ghz model. On 11/3 I walked into the Apple Store, and not 20 minutes later I walked out with my 2.4ghz MacBook Pro.

I've been working with VMWare Fusion a lot, so I decided just 17 days later (Apple's return policy plus 3 days) that it's time for me to order more RAM. I jumped into System Profiler:

And immediately had an aneurism.


2 DIMMs? Could I have possibly misread the website?

Yup, I did. But gets better, for I could not make this up:

The MacBook Pro (15-inch Core 2 Duo) and MacBook Pro (17-inch Core 2 Duo) notebooks have two SDRAM slots in the bottom of the computer, and they come with at least 1 GB DDR2 SDRAM installed into the bottom slot.

Although these notebooks will accept up to a 2 GB SO-DIMM in each of the two memory slots, the MacBook Pro will only support 3 GB total memory. If you want to maximize the amount of SDRAM in your computer, install a 2 GB SO-DIMM in one slot and a 1GB SO-DIMM in the other.

I suspect this is a joke, since I saw today that Dell is selling the Vostro (the other laptop I considered) for $399.

As much as I like my new MBP, I don't love it SIX Dell Vostro laptops worth.

Friday, November 16, 2007

GE Brings Good Things to Light...With My Rebate $$$

Back in September, I blogged about replacing my flaming dishwasher. What made replacing it such a bargain was the $150.00 rebate that GE was offering in lieu of having it fixed.

Let's take a quick look at the rebate offer:

"Your rebate check will be mailed to you in four to six weeks."

So if I mailed the rebate to them in August, and I've received both Home Depot rebates, where is my check?

According to the andriod I spoke with at GE (1-877-607-6395 no need to have model or serial number as GE says, choose option 5 and let them look you up by zip code, address, and name), it's "6-8 weeks to process once they receive your rebate form, and then another 4-6 weeks to receive the check once it's been cut". My check was cut on 11/01/2007, and I shouldn't not expect it until the second week of December.

I understand that nobody wants to pay out, especially when the profit from the original dishwasher is long since spent on Jack Welch's rockstar retirement, but 3 1/2 months to receive a rebate when your rebate form says 4-6 weeks is totally unacceptable.

Perhaps GE CFO Keith Sherin needs to put his imagination to rest, and get his fucking checkbook out.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Money Is $tupid

I am an independent contractor (1099) for the new job that I started on Monday. That essentially means I'll be 4-6 weeks without a paycheck.

I knew this long before I took this job, so I made several arrangements:
  • Only take 1 day off between old job and new
  • Let Citibank "loan" me enough money to cover my expenses (laptop, insurance, etc) and cover my pay for about 3 months while I wait for my invoices to come in. I did this with a 0% for 6 months "balance transfer" which cost me $75
  • Stay on part-time at old job
  • Two weeks after my last regular paycheck, my vacation (133 hours) is paid out

That, and how much the new job pays, should ensure that I don't have a cash crunch and can pay off that "loan" from my Citibank credit card in three months.


Well it's been over 2 weeks, and the balance transfer check has not arrived. I called Citibank today, and the rep told me the check was mailed on 10/30 and I should have received it, so she put a stop-payment on it and reissued the check. That's another 10 days before it arrives.

My last regular paycheck hits tomorrow, and I discovered it will be short for the one day of work that I took off. Why take 8 hours of vacation so my last check is paid at 100% when you can short one check and then let me get raped in taxes on the next?

I also have a Citibank savings account, but I can't get a straight answer about pulling the amount of money that I want out in short order. I'm waiting to hear back from them.

I have other money that I can shuffle around for a week or so, but I love it when I plan for every possible contingency to make sure I don't run short of cash, and then I get shit on.

That, and the U$ dollar is worthless; I should just dry-hump a Canadian.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Your Traffic Chopper Just Crashed

I happen to have a home Internet(s) connection with a static IP address, and I prefer to keep nosy sysadmins from seeing what websites I visit. I have squid setup to proxy all of my HTTP and HTTPS traffic in my web browsers through home.

First, we tell our local machine to listen on a particular port, and forward any requests it gets to our machine at home:

ssh -L 9000: -p 22

If you're on Windows, this can also be done with PuTTY.

Squid has to be setup on the box at home and setup to forward requests out to the Internet(s).

Then we setup our browser to use the proxy:

And voila! I mean unless, like me, you've been doing this for 5 years.

I started a new job today, and when I sent out an IM, I got this reply inside their IM window:

IM Administrator: You are required to register your IM screen names at [URL]. For questions call the Help Desk at 800-555-1212

Crappy Crapperton! I guess this means we should change our squid.conf to allow popular IM clients.

Add port 1863 to SSL list:
acl SSL_ports port 443 563 1863

Then add the following:
# Permit AOL Instant Messenger to connect to
acl AIM_ports port 5190 9898
acl AIM_domains dstdomain
acl AIM_domains dstdomain
acl AIM_hosts dstdomain
acl AIM_nets dst
acl AIM_methods method CONNECT
http_access allow AIM_methods AIM_ports AIM_nets
http_access allow AIM_methods AIM_ports AIM_hosts
http_access allow AIM_methods AIM_ports AIM_domains

# Permit Yahoo Messenger
acl YIM_ports port 5050
acl YIM_domains dstdomain
acl YIM_hosts dstdomain
acl YIM_methods method CONNECT
http_access allow YIM_methods YIM_ports YIM_hosts
http_access allow YIM_methods YIM_ports YIM_domains

# Permit Google Talk
acl GTALK_ports port 5222
acl GTALK_domains dstdomain
acl GTALK_hosts dstdomain
acl GTALK_methods method CONNECT
http_access allow GTALK_methods GTALK_ports GTALK_hosts
http_access allow GTALK_methods GTALK_ports GTALK_domains

# Permit MSN
acl MSN_ports port 1863 443 1503
acl MSN_domains dstdomain
acl MSN_hosts dstdomain
acl MSN_nets dst
acl MSN_methods method CONNECT
http_access allow MSN_methods MSN_ports MSN_hosts
http_access allow MSN_methods MSN_ports MSN_domains
http_access allow MSN_methods MSN_ports MSN_nets

# Only allow cachemgr access from localhost
http_access allow manager localhost
http_access deny manager
# Deny requests to unknown ports
http_access deny !Safe_ports !AIM_ports !YIM_ports !GTALK_ports !MSN_ports
# Deny CONNECT to other than SSL ports
http_access deny CONNECT !SSL_ports

and then change our IM client settings to proxy through our machine at home:


Monday, November 05, 2007

The Great Email Migration of 2007

My first domain purchase was back in 1999: my last name .ORG. Over the past several years, I purchased .NET and .COM as they became available.

Since 1999, (with the exception of a couple outages George helped me out with), I've hosted my own email. Any time I've changed jobs, I've taken a copy of my email archives with me.

I decided it was time to consolidate all my email under one roof: Google Apps for domains. I moved .COM and .NET over and then began the arduous task of migrating all of my email.

  • Dozens Unix mbox files (some native, some from Thunderbird, some that were migrated once-upon a time from CCMail to Groupwise and then pulled into mbox using IMAP)
  • 1 GMail account (which had BCC's of the Unix mbox files AND forwarded copies of half the email from my current job)
  • 4 Outlook .PST files totaling over 3GB

My Outlook archives were in nice folder hierarchies, so I had to: flatten the folder structure out, use IMAP to drag and drop everything to my mail server at home, and then use the migration tool to suck it in.

The tool labels your messages with the IMAP folder (or folder hierarchy) it came from, and I decided that I wanted the labels to be clean (not: Kaitain\AAAS\Technology Services\Personal Email).

The folders also couldn't have spaces in them, so I used several shell scripts to format:

# replace spaces with underscores
for file in *\ *
short=`echo $file|sed 's/ /_/g'`
mv "$file" "$short"

and to merge all the files into one:

for file in *_*;do cat $file >> Kaitain;rm "$file";done

I don't know how much time I spent flatting my email, but it can't compare to all the time I ever spent organizing all my email.

In the end, can you really quantify the interactions of one person with others?

Apparently you can. GMail extracted 142,119 emails, which threaded into 59,913 conversations since 1999. The total extraction and loading took about three days.

All this takes up over 4000MB of storage. The oldest emails go back to here:

Only about 25 emails were not migrated (either viruses or the attachments were too large), and maybe 5-8 emails that came over "ok" were fucked up and I deleted them. Losing only 32/142,119 is amazing!

Fan Mail?

From: Joey
Date: Mon, 5 Nov 2007 11:13:52 -0500
Subject: A Simple Request
Dear John,

As your cousin I want to commend you on not only being an outstanding family member, but also a shoulder to lean on in, as the Beatles always said, times of trouble. Your wit and enthusiasm is unparalleled and considering the enormous amount of insanity we are forced to dodge on a daily basis, its simply quite remarkable.

That said, as your cousin, I am immensely disappointed that there are no new blogs on your personal blog. Part of your responsibility as my cousin is to entertain me and sadly, you have fallen down on that job of late. I *need* those blogs to laugh and be sane. I don't care HOW much work you think you have to do, you better get to writing. Or, and I mean this with complete love in my heart, Schmoo gets it.

Thank you in advance for your time and attention to this matter. I look forward to your continued fine performance in the role of "My Cousin".


Yes, I've been slacking. Sorry about that. :/

Maybe He's Not a Luddite After All?

Following the news that Andrew got a job at an Acura dealer in Vegas, George sent us a new piece. The cross-talk after the fact has an iPhone. Via Email:

George: [I'm] surprised to see andrew pushing the brand so far so soon.

theAlphaJohn: he works fast, what can you do?
George: it is good he uses his power for good, not evil.
Andrew: LOL what are you guys talking about?
Sent from my iPhone

theAlphaJohn: have an iPhone?
Andrew: I'm trying to branch out and not be so terrified of electronic
devices. Plus I had to get a second phone anyway

George: this, is strange many iphones have you been through yet?
Andrew: I'm on my second one in less than a week!
George: i knew it!!! :) :)

Maybe Andrew should tell Apple his iPhone Story...?

Friday, November 02, 2007


I talked to Christina tonight: I let her know that next Thursday is my last day at Mason. She said she wanted to be mentioned on my blog, so here it is.

If she doesn't come out Tuesday to my going-away happy hour, I shall be pissed.