“Don’t Touch That Dial… Or Else!”

Remember back in the golden days of tv as a program was going to commercial or about to start, an announcer would say “Don’t touch that dial”? Well, Even if you don’t hear the words, the sentiment is there.  The difference is that now they MEAN it!

This one is guaranteed to get you p.o.’d at The folks at Royal Phillips Electronics. These wonderchildren have come up with a means to allow broadcasters to prevent you from changing the channel during commercials.

New Technology May Force TV Ad Viewing
Apr 19, 9:51 PM (ET)

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) – In this era of easy ad skipping with TiVo-like video recorders, could television viewers one day be forced to watch commercials with a system that prevents channel switching?

Yes, according to Royal Philips Electronics. A patent application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office says researchers of the Netherland-based consumer electronics company have created a technology that could let broadcasters freeze a channel during a commercial, so viewers wouldn’t be able to avoid it.

Full Article:

I’m baaaack!

It’s been a little over a month since I was last able to update this blog and a frustrating time at that.

It started with the arrival of my new motherboard.  I got it all installed and double checked all connections, dropped in the cpu and a 128Mb stick of memory and powered it up.

And then…. nothing.

After several more tries I noticed that the num lock, caps lock and scroll lock lights on the keyboard were all flashing in unison every time I tried to power it up.  A little time spent asking questions resulted in the conclusion that those lights flashing like that indicated that the cpu is dead, which I confirmed by trying one time with no cpu plugged in.

It’s not a dead memory stick, since a lack of RAM nets an insistent beeping from the system speaker.

After resigning myself to having to wait and buy a cpu, I replaced the original board and reverted to the way things were before trying to upgrade.

That’s when things started to *REALLY* get aggravating.

In the re-assembly process, an IC actually came off of the 3Com network card!

I wasted no time in ordering a replacement network card and ended up getting a set of three Mercury c39 10/100 PCI Ethernet cards for a really good price on ebay.

When they arrived I installed one and used my wife’s computer to locate and download drivers for it.  I booted up, ready to resume life as usual and restart my mail server which had been down for over a week because of this.

Windows found the card, installed it fine and in ‘network neighborhood’ I could see my machine, but I could not see the Windows ICS host machine.  No amount of trying to get this to work has helped.  I re-worked network settings at least 50 times, trying every arrangment of settings I could think about or find reference to.

I tried connecting directly to the ADSL modem and seeing if it could get online that way so that at least a semi-shared access would work. no soap.  The thing would not connect to either the other machine via crossover cable, or to the modem via straight cable.

Then, not being able to do anything online I booted the linux side of a dual boot I had recenetly created to learn my way around linux…

…and IT connected to the modem!  I saw the DHCPDISCOVER output in rather verbose boot output where the machine was assigned an I.P.  address from the server at

Anyone with a Centurytel flavored Netopia 3341 ADSL modem will know that the modem assigns itself, and the addresses it assigns to machines conected to it get addresses starteing at and incrementing from there.  My wife’s computer (connected to it by USB cable) is assigned and the modem is set to keep that assignment.  My machine is connected by the straight through LAN cable.  Centurytel says it’s not supposed to work with two computers on one modem, but it does.

I tested this by starting mozilla and trying to load a web page.. blam!  There it was.  Ok, it loaded slowly because the modem is not *supposed* to do the router thing, but apparently Debian Linux can convince it to where windows cannot.

So since then I’ve spent the last two weeks learning the world of linux and finding that I like it a lot more than windows.  A lot of things seem to be easier to do, and in the case of the internet connection, it actually works in linux where it doesn’t in windows

This makes the choice a lot easier.  I’m migrating all of my online activities to linux, keeping my windows partition for games and a few non-internet things that I haven’t got a linux equivalent for.

Google to hand over partial data

I haven’t got a url for it handy right now, but I just saw a New York Times article quoted on alt.privacy that states Google is going to hand over 50,000 urls instead of the original 1,000,000 demanded, and 5,000 search terms instead of the full weeks worth originally demanded.

I don’t care how you slice it, this is bad news.

Avian Flu, Serious threat or blown WAY out of proportion?

Since it’s discovery in mainland China was revealed, The avian flu has been the subject of an ever increasing ammount of talk. It’s been compared to the flu outbreak of 1918. Tens of thousands of birds have been destroyed in an effort to contain it.

This strain of flu is apparently resistant to most, if not all, current antibiotics used to treat it. It seems to also have a high mortality rate, although I have not seen anything like an official estimate of what that is, the way people have been talking about it one would be very easily inclined to believe that it’s an inordinately high number.

We’ve seen reports of it appearing in country after country, spreading all over Asia, the Middle East and Europe . More recently there has been more news to make people nervous, it’s started showing up in cats which means that it’s no longer restricted to just birds. People are worried about and talking about a possible pandemic. Not just an Epidemic, where lots of people get sick, but a Pandemic where MOST people get sick and lots of those die.

The level of fearfull anticipation of disaster was brought home this morning when on Good Morning America we are shown examples of survival supplies and told that official recommendations are that everybody should have bottled water, food that does not need refrigeration and can be prepared without electricity and other supplies to last at least ten days.

I can’t help but ask WHY? Is this avian flu actually this bad? and if it is, why has there been so little reporting about it in mainstream media? The preparations that we’re now being told to make remind me of the days when we all expected to have to run for the bomb shelters because the Russians had finally pressed the button.

We’re not just being told “A lot of people might get sick.”. We’re being told “Almost everybody is going to get sick and a lot of the sick will die causing society, basic utilities and even government itself to come to a standstill for nearly two weeks.”

If the situation is that serious, then avian flu and the efforts to combat it should be the number one story on every newscast. Yet it isn’t. Is this because it’s really NOT that serious? Is it because it IS that serious and nobody wants to start a panic? Or is it because very few people have any real clue as to what the real danger is?

For now, the jury is still out on the question that is avian flu. I just hope that if there is a threat, that information starts flowing to the public fast. And if it’s not a threat, that a panic is prevented by getting THAT information fowing fast.

Woman Gets Beer From Her Kitchen Faucet

Woman Gets Beer From Her Kitchen Faucet
Woman in Norway Gets Beer From Her Kitchen Faucet While Nearby Bar Gets Only Water on Tap

When I first read this headline, the first thing that came to mind was the thought that she’s liable to get a visit from several hundred examples of the likes of “Larry the Cable Guy”.  Never mind that the beer in question was reported to be flat and not worth the time it’d take to flush it, it’s beer and it’s “Free” . . . Well, you and I know it couldn’t really be free because somebody’s got to pay for it, but to these guys, if it came out of the fawcets, then “fer cryin out loud it’s free beer!”.

They’d fill the bathtub and every container they could find.  washing machines, buckets, pails, empty anti-freeze containers, Backyard pools..  The list is nearly endless.

As a matter of fact, While I’ve only seen a few episodes of “The Simpsons” way back in their first season, I can’t help think how much this sounds like the basis for one of their episodes.

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