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Thursday, June 30, 2005

Well, that's completely different!

Riddle me this: when is a pay raise not a pay raise?
    "It's not a pay raise," said House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas. "It's an adjustment so that they're not losing their purchasing power."


via Josh Marshall

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Innumeracy has a little story about Apple's new iPods. They write:
    "The 20-gigabyte model can hold about 5,000 songs and costs $299, while the 60-gigabyte version holds 25,000 songs and sells for $399. "

That 5,000 is a bit high - I haven't managed to squeeze more than 4,300 onto my iPod, though a combination of shorter songs with higher compression and lower sound quality could get me closer. But, that's not the issue.

5,000 / 20 = 250 songs per GB.
25,000 / 60 = 416.6 songs per GB.

That extra 40 GB must be some special kind of disk space that can hold more than it claims. Or maybe they meant 15,000 songs.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Let's get this party started

The iPod starts the work week with:

  1. The Shins - Wierd Divide. Don't hear a lot of Shins on the iPod, so this was a nice surprise.
  2. 3Ds - Summer Stone
  3. Robyn Hitckcock - Bass. Lovely little song about... I don't know... a town and fish?
    The juicy flounder and the tender chub
    Will swim around you when you leave the pub
    Their mouths are open and they will not shut
    Unless you kiss them all behind the hut

  4. Buena Vista Social Club - Dos Gardenias.
  5. Mission Of Burma - That's When I Reach For My Revolver.
  6. fieldfresh - The Legend Of John Holiday. One of my college bands trying to be all tough and stuff. Recorded nearly live to 4-track, in a basement.
  7. Muleskinner - Dark Hollow.
  8. The Doors - Soul Kitchen. Love the way Robbie Krieger plays guitar.
  9. The Clean - E Motel. Not sure if I've ever heard this song, or of this band. It's from a 3-CD Merge CD sampler that I only like a handful of songs on.
  10. The Ladybug Transistor - Jersey Streets. This is from the same CD as the one above. I meant to take it off the iPod this weekend, but never got around to it. I wish I had.

See ya next week.

Monday Cat Blogging

Nikon D100, 50mm

Tricksey waits for my wife to come out.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Brewer or Drinker

The Panda's Thumb talks about the evolution of alcohol synthesis, or Do Yeast Drink What They Brew ?

A: Yes. But they didn't always.

Or, as they put it:

    The authors compared the sequences of Adh1 [alcohol dehydrogenase - a yeast enzyme that produces ethanol] and Adh2 [a similar enzyme that can convert ethanol back into a form the yeast can consume] from S. cerevesiae [brewer's yeast] and from 15 other Adh homologs in other yeast species. They then calculated the maximum likelihood gene sequence for the last common ancestor of these enzymes, the primordial alcohol enzyme, which they called AdhA. They then took modern yeast, removed their Adh1 and Adh2 genes, and replaced them with AdhA.. VoilĂ , they have yeast from the Age of the Dinosaurs.

    They then analyzed the chemical kinetics of this enzyme. The question was whether it was more like Adh1, the enzyme that primarily makes ethanol, or whether it was more like Adh2, the enzyme that primarily consumes alcohol. Did yeast evolve this enzyme to make a byproduct to inhibit its competitors, or did it evolve it to eat this byproduct?

    The answer is that it was more like Adh1, and that early yeast were brewers, not drinkers.

Cool. And the conclusion:

    We can assemble a history of yeast fermentation from this information now. The first step was the gradual evolution of efficient alcohol-producing enzymes that allowed the yeast to colonize and exploit rotting fruit exclusively. This occurred a very long time ago, in the Cretaceous. Next, there was a gene duplication event that produced two copies of Adh; initially, both would have done exactly the same thing, just allowing the lucky duplicators to pump out alcohol even faster. With two copies, though, one would have more freedom to drift and change its enzymatic properties without serious consequence to the owner. One fortuitous change would be a shift in enzyme kinetics in one copy to better promote conversion of alcohol back to acetaldehyde and enter back into the citric acid cycle. So, first they learned how to make an environmental poison to give them exclusive access to a food source, and then that same machinery was adapted to better allow them to eat that poison, permitting them recover some of the energy lost in secreting it.


Oh, and by the way, Fuck Karl Rove.


Nikon D100, 50mm

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Was Rain A Postmaster Gypsy

An excellent question. Why that would be the subject of a Viagra spam I just received, I do not know.

Emminent Disgrace

via SCOTUSblog:
    Splitting 5-4, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that a local government may seize private property for purposes of profit-making private re-development, declaring that this constitutes a 'public use' under the Constitution.

Taking private land for any reason is deeply offensive; taking it to give to private developers so they can build shops and offices is a fucking disgrace.

The majority writes:
    "Those who govern the city [of New London] were not confronted with the need to remove blight..., but their determination that the area was sufficiently distressed to justify a program of economic rejuvenation is entitled to our deference....Clearly, there is no basis for exempting economic development from our traditionally broad understanding of public purpose."

As this blogger puts it:

    What does this mean for you? It means that at any point in time, a private developer can go to the city and say that they can make better use of your land than you can. What is next? Tearing down small ranch style homes in order to build multi-million dollar mansions? The Supreme Court has now decreed that the burden of proof is on the individual to somehow prove that they deserve their land, instead of it being on the taker to prove that they absolutely need it. This is an incredibly dangerous shift. This is the most fucked up combination of socialism and capitalism that I've ever seen, and it makes me sick.

Makes me sick too.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Savage Chickens And Super Dickery

Savage Chickens is a hillarious blog featuring little one-panel cartoons of chickens, all drawn on post-it notes.

You should go read it right now, because it would be sad if you were whisked off to Gitmo without having seen this. (via ObWi)

Also, you should waste some time with stupid comic book covers, at SuperDickery:


TBogg lets loose with a beautiful blast of red-hot righteous fury:

    They're stupid. Stone cold, paste-eating, ditto-headed walking advertisements for eugenics who want so hard to fit in that they'll parrot any talking point that is explained to them in easy to understand terms as long as you keep it within the two syllable limit. To respond to them with anything more than a patronizing pat on the head and an offer of pudding or a shiny dime is a waste of time. So fuck them too.


Tuesday, June 21, 2005


Nikon D100, 105mm macro

Odd Couple

Here's a fun little comic strip about two NYC roommates, Alien and Predator.

Coochy Shave!

Behold, Coochy Shave! It's the "extra gentle shaving lotion for private areas!"

Happy Summer Solstice dirty pagans.

It's all downhill from here.

Monday, June 20, 2005

And so it begins

The iPod decides this is the optimal way to start the work week:

  1. Belly - Slow Dog . Classic early 90's college rock. Ahh.
  2. Colorblind James Experience - Colorblind's Reel.
  3. Sonic Youth - Purr. More classic early 90's college rock. More ahh.
  4. Uncle Tupelo - Screen Door. "Where we're at / Everybody is equally poor"
  5. Derek & The Dominos - Tell The Truth
  6. Horace Silver - Safari.
  7. Neil Young - Birds.
  8. Spoon - No You're Not.
  9. Yo La Tengo - Barnaby, Hardly Working. Great great song.
  10. Stereolab - Des Etoiles Electronique.

The peepers

...shall become the peepees.

    [Cleveland City] Council unanimously passed a law this week ordering the city's adult bookstores to install video cameras in each peep-show booth to monitor what goes on.

    Ron O'Leary, a Cleveland chief assistant director of code enforcement, said Thursday that council members were shocked last year to learn that some men masturbate while watching X-rated movies in the private booths.

    "Any kind of sexual activity in a booth constitutes lewd behavior," said O'Leary. "Sexual activity includes masturbation or sex between two people. There is a law that forbids this activity in public and allows the city to close the business down where it occurs."

    The cameras will only show images of peep-show customers between the neck and knees.

via Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Self-appointed savior

I always knew there was something funky about Domino's pizza...

Friday, June 17, 2005


Oh, what new things have I acquired....

  • Grandaddy - Sumday. The iPod loves this one, plays songs from it all the time. It's not as interesting as their preceding The Sophtware Slump, not as adventerous. The songs use a lot of the same sounds from the earlier record - the same yummy synth sounds and swirly production, but the songs themselves don't grab.

  • Rogue Wave - Out of the Shadow. The iPod hates this one, never plays it, which is sad because I like it. In my own vast interconnected universe of bands and influences, Rogue Wave sits somewhere between Iron and Wine and The Shins, closer to the latter. They're not as sleepy as Iron and Wine, and not as jumpy as The Shins can be, but there's that same kind of laid-back, slightly dreamy guitar rock. I really like it, and play it at home quite often since I can't hear it at work (throws a scolding look at the iPod).

  • The Cure - Pornography. Only ever had this one on cassette. So I figured I oughta get a digital copy. Not my favorite Cure album, but I like it well enough.

  • White Stripes - Get Behind Me Satan. It's a White Stripes record. If you've heard one, you've heard them all. Luckily, I like them, so I don't mind hearing more of the same. Sure, there are a few new angles here, but they aren't shocking - they're just new approaches to the same basic stuff, and there are little things on every White Strips record that stand out from the basic crunchy minimalist blues-rock thang. They just never explore those things for more than a song or two.

  • Fiona Apple - Extraordinary Machine. Mentioned this a couple of weeks ago. It keeps growing on me, and the iPod loves it.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Age V Time

The other day, Jesse, at Pandagon, was slicing up a John Tierney column about raising the retirement age to save Social Security because older people are more physically fit and energetic than they want us to believe: the wicked AARP has succeeded in promoting a lower retirement age and now all those seniors are just loafing around avoiding work - or something.

Anyway... over this past weekend, I ran in a big race, the Race For The Cure. Over 18,000 people registered to run or walk in the three races (women-only 5K, open 5K and 1-mile fun run). There were approx 1000 timed runners in the race I ran, the open 5K, and an uncounted number of walkers - it was a mob. So, while thinking about Tierney's point, I wondered, do seniors perform at the same level as other age groups? I assumed the answer would be a resounding No, but wanted to know what the race results said. Luckily, the official results pages list the age of each competitor along with their time. So, I did a little text-fu on the results page and slipped the data into Excel, created a scatter plot and... here it is:

Just looking at the graph, the best conclusion I can draw (not being a statistician) about age vs 5K time is this: as age increases fewer runners of that age show up for big 5Ks; but, the times for those who do show up aren't remarkably slower than any other age group. The fastest 60+ runner wasn't as fast as the fastest 20-30 year old, but the slowest senior beat the slowest runners from the 18-55 group. And most of them fit nicely into the meaty section of the results from all ages.

That is all.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Eastbound, hammer down

South Knox Bubba gets a great shot.

Start Your iPods

This week's first ten...

  1. Slint - Nosferatu Man. Hmmm. That guitar sound is a bit too much like an alarm clock, for me to have in my earphones at 9AM on a Monday.
  2. Pavement - Fight This Generation. I always thought this was two songs: the first I like to call "Sweet Yeardly", which is a kinder gentler song than the one that follows.
  3. The Postal Service - Nothing Better. Bleepity bleep bloop.
  4. Idyll Swords - Bani Park. For whatever reason, the iPod doesn't play a lot of these guys (and this song is only 67 seconds long).
  5. The Cure - High. An upbeat goofy little song that I don't hate - unlike its album-mates "Friday, I'm In Love" and "Doing The Unstuck". It didn't get the saturation airplay that those other two did.
  6. John Coltrane - Good Groove. From the first jazz record I ever bought - Rhino's The Last Giant Coltrane box set. This is an old live recording from when Coltrane was playing with the Dizzy Gillespie Sextet.
  7. Cowboy Junkies - Working On A Building. From the fantastic Trinity Session.
  8. The Breeders - Mad Lucas. Kim Deal singing through heavy tremolo. Ahh.
  9. Sonic Youth - Justice Is Might. This is SY at the pinnacle of their noise phase - 1:30 feedback intro. A bit much so early in the AM.
  10. Cowboy Junkies - Towne's Blues. Much nicer.

Monday Cat Blogging

Nikon D100, 50mm

Tricksey sleeping at the busiest place in the house.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Brain twister

I need a way to build a Linux executable to run on our web hosts' servers. I can't build it in Windows, and we don't have a Linux PC to use. It builds correctly in Cygwin, but Cygwin cant' build Linux executables. I didn't want to wipe any of our existing PCs, so that means we need to get a new PC. Wicked fun. I searched around the web and the classifieds and Dell's site... nothing good there. But, on a lark, I found a floor demo / refurbish of a nice little Sony VAIO laptop at Circuit City. It was the same price as a full low-end desktop system, so I bought it.

Apparently, laptops these days don't come with system recovery CDs; you have to make your own when you get home by running a wizard that burns CDs for you. I guess it saves on shipping CDs ? Since I'm gonna put Linux on this thing, I need a way to re-Windows it, if this turns out to be a dead end (so I can return it). So, I start the recovery disk wizard; it tells me to be sure to use "good quality CD-Rs" ! And then it fails to burn six Sony CD-Rs. Oh boy. Should I return it now or push onward? Onward. It finally works when I switch to these funky black Memorex CD-Rs that I have lying around. Yay.

System recovery disk setup complete, I pop in my Linux CD and install Linux. 30 minutes later, it's a Linux laptop. Sweet. Dismal screen resolution, but still sweet.

Now to get the source files for the license maker from the Windows box to the laptop. Neither computer has a floppy drive. Let's try sharing the Windows folders... nope, Linux can't see it. Fuss with permissions and logins and passwords... nope, no luck. FTP ? Nope, can't figure out how to enable it on either machine. Samba? Can't find it. Burn a CD! Nope, the laptop can't read the Sony CDs and I'm out of black ones. Try a DVD? Nope, laptop can't read that DVD format. FTP up to our website and then download onto the laptop ? Upload goes fine, but the laptop can't see what I've uploaded (password problems) - and now I can't delete or move the stuff I uploaded - our web host is having problems, too.

OK.. I'm stumped. Nothing is working.

Wait... what's this little slot on the side of the laptop? Label says "Memory Stick".. hmm... you mean like the one in our Sony P7 digital camera? Yup. So, drop the files onto the memory stick and pop it in, not expecting that Linux will be clever enough to find the Memory Stick or know how to use it. It finds it! Success! The files have been copied!!

Now let's build them. They built fine under Cygwin, which is just like Linux, right? right?

Of course not. Hundreds of errors whiz by.

Time to slit my wrists.


OK, I held off on the suicide thing, and fixed the build issue by downloading a new version of the Crypto++ library - not a sure bet, given that Crypto++ often totally rewrites the interfaces between versions, but this one worked. It built! Put it on the server... PHP can't find it! Dig around for a half hour, trying to figure out how to make PHP find the file that's sitting in the same directory as the PHP file itself.... Aha! It found it! Run it... oh no! Wrong version of the C++ runtime libraries... what? Umm..poke, snoop, google, test.. Aha! I installed the wrong version of Linux! Of course! Time to download a different version (it only takes an hour on a cable modem connection) and rebuild the laptop - again!

All this, because some asshole at our credit card site didn't want to run our license generator any more. I'll think no happy thoughts for him, this Christmas.


Wait, did I say a "different" version of Linux? I meant older. And this older version doesn't know how to read the memory card slot on the laptop. WooHoo! Still can't find a way to enable the local FTP services on either box, so I retried using the FTP site on our web host. That worked. Good. Now the source is on the new/old Linux laptop. Try to build it. Fail. Fix a bunch of things that are angering the compiler. It builds! It runs correctly! Upload it to the web server. Try it. Ta-da! It works!

Now to wrap it in a program that can send email.

Every time I get near Linux, I know I'm in for an epic adventure.

Saturday, June 11, 2005


Nikon D100, 50mm

Someday, I'll get tired of cat pictures. Someday.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Pattern Matching

Story on - Racy 'Gilligan' ad draws protest - Jun 10, 2005:

    LOS ANGELES, California (Hollywood Reporter) -- With the aftertaste still lingering from Paris Hilton's hamburger commercial, there's new beef over a racy ad from TBS.

    A titillating TV spot promoting the cable network's second season of reality series "The Real Gilligan's Island" has become a lightning rod online, where clips of the commercial on are being linked on countless blogs, some of which blast the ad. (TBS is a division of Time Warner, as is CNN.)


    "That ad is a visual signal, shorthand for a whole world of issues that women have to struggle against every day," read one post on a leading liberal-minded blog called, by a writer who identified herself as Nixie Knox.


But, here's the part I liked, the four ads on the right side: "ERICO - ERITECH Lightning Rods", "Lightning Rods at", "Professional Lightning Rod Installation", "Hamilton Lightning Rod Systems".

Good job, sport

Crooked Timber's Friday Fun Thread is "share your funniest athletic embarassments as a young person". Here are mine:

  • I played little league baseball one year. In the last game of the season, last inning, two outs, I hit a low fly ball directly to the right fielder - to lose the championship game. That was the last of my little league career.

  • In 9th grade gym class, the coach had us run a lap around the bus loop, roughly 1/4 mile, for time. I took off like a bullet and blew the rest of the class away - not hard to do, because I think I was the only one who put any effort into it; for whatever reason, I just really like the feeling of running fast. The coach, who was also the track team coach, pulled me aside and told me I needed to join the track team. So I did.

    For the next few weeks, we did lots of long slow distance, many laps on the track, learned how to use starting blocks, ran a lot of 100m sprints and 800m runs to see where we'd fit in, etc.. It was my first school athletic team.

    Then, the day of the first meet came. I was gonna run the 400m! (and the 200m and the 1600m relay - whew) The 400m came up. So I got in my lane, waited for the gun, and took off running like a maniac - I got out ahead of everyone, cut to the inside, held my lead and won by many yards, grinning like a fool. Somehow, in the weeks of traning, nobody ever told me that you need to stay in your lane for the 400m. So, I was disqualified, and everybody had a good laugh at the new guy.

Reality TV

PowerPop sayeth:
    Honestly, people, if you're interested in tracking complicated political interconnections for big stakes, spend your time figuring out why the fuck the Royal House of Saud gets to set American foreign policy and then fund suicide bombers all while walking hand-in-hand with the prez.

Tee hee.

By simple couch inertia, I've ended up watching two entire episodes of Fox's latest atrocity, Beauty And The Geek: a show in which a group of young, super-hot, but not super-bright women, and a group of brainy but socially inept men pair up and work to eliminate all the other pairs, one elimination per week, by winning little competitions that highlight the women's lack of book learnin and mechanical aptitude, and the men's complete lack of social skills, lack of relationship experience and all-around geekiness. The twist: before each competition, the men have a chance to teach their partners about cars, politics, etc. and the women have a chance to teach their partners about dancing, massage and pop culture. Then the women compete against each other, and then the men compete. The winner of each gets to choose a couple to send to the "Elimination Room", where the two couples have to answer trivia questions. There's not enough personality to generate any politics. Mostly, the women prance around in bikinis and Daisy Dukes and look pitifully at the guys, who are completely overwhelmed by the purrrty gurrrls. It's as shallow and stupid as any reality show I've ever seen - well, that's not true, Joe Millionaire was worse (and I watched all of it); and The Swan was an abomination - so I only watched four episodes of that.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Shared Nozzle

Bored at work, I decided to take a walk. There's a bunch of fast food places a few hundred yards up the road, so I thought I'd make a meal out of it. When I stepped out into the sunlight and humidity from the cool shade of the office building, I had only two things on my mind: a hamburger and a milk shake*. A couple of minutes later, I was sweating like a madman, standing between a McDonald's and an Arby's. I chose Arby's.

Ordered my Regular and a small strawberry shake and headed back. After the first two drags at the straw, I concluded two things: barring employee error, Arby's shake machines must use a single nozzle for all flavors because the strawberry shake tasted like mocha (aka "Jamocha") as much as it tasted like strawberry; and secondly, a jamocha/strawberry blend is fucking 'orrible. To top it off, when I got back to my cool shady office building, glistening with sweat like a skinny parody of a bodybuilder, my Regular was dry, rubbery and flavorless. That $4.69 was not well-spent.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Wiki Zork

Here's a Wiki-based version of the old text game, Zork. Pretty funny ab-use of Wiki tech.

Monday, June 06, 2005


After last week's amusing List Of Bad Books by the wingnuts at HumanEventsOnline came out, I imagined that wanting to make such a list and then wanting to wave it around was a conservative failing and that reasonable people (aka "lefties") would never do such a thing. I should've know better. Popular lefty blogger, Kevin Drum, teaches me a lesson...

Start Your iPods

The iPod starts the week with:

  1. Doc Watson - Country Blues
  2. Scud Mountain Boys - A Ride
  3. Yo La Tengo - A Shy Dog
  4. Spoon - Change My Life
  5. The Sea And Cake - The Fawn
  6. Kings of Convenience - Know Now
  7. Fleetwood Mac - Rhiannon
  8. Listening to the Higsons - Robyn Hitchcock
  9. Cowboy Junkies - Seven Years
  10. The Kinks - Lazy Old Sun

A good mix for a Monday, AM, IMO.

Monday Cat Blogging

Nikon D100, 50mm

Saturday, June 04, 2005


Currently reading David Neiwert's Strawberry Days. It's about the WWII internment camps the US set up to hold Japanese-Americans. Well, it will be, I just haven't gotten that far. I'm only a few dozen pages in, and am learning all about the protectionist and xenophobic hysteria the country, especially the west coast, was going through in the late 1800's. [For some reason, they didn't teach kids this stuff in upstate NY "social studies" (ie History Plus!) classes in the 80's. Actually, maybe they did - I don't remember anything from those classes.]

So, I'm reading about how lawmakers of the time played up the immigration protectionism issue: make trade agreements with Japan, but only if they promise to stop people from coming here to work; try to make it illegal for Japanese and Chinese to ever become American citizens, etc.; and how some polticians took the low road and encouraged vigliantes to take matters into their own hands (burning houses, shooting people, etc.). All of it was caried out with the same rhetoric we hear today about immigrants from other parts of the world: they're too different from real Americans and will never assimilate; they'll work for nothing and are taking jobs from real Americans; they send home for their friends and relatives and bring them all here to take even more jobs; they're going to mix with white people and dilute the race; they're [insert negative personality trait], etc.. Why, it's almost as if there's a set of stock arguments that get reused whenever some new immigrant group arrives on the scene and the old timers feel uneasy. But, I'm sure that'll all go away once I get into the part about the internment camps...

On another note, I just finished Jonathan Lethem's Men And Cartoons, which is a slim collection of short stories. They're all about superheroes or comics or detectives, in some way, and they all seem to be cut from the same cloth as his most recent novels - especially Fortress of Solitude. Some of the stories are set in the same neighborhoods as FoS, or feature the same characters or situations, with slightly different, usually fantastic, twists. But these fantasy/sci-fi twists recall his eariler gritty sci-fi stuff (my favorite of all his styles), and that saves a lot of them them from being simply short remixes of scenes from of Fortress of Solitude and Motherless Brooklyn.

Now, I need to get through Strawberry Days in time for the next Harry Potter (so I don't have to plug my ears when everyone around me starts talking about the plot). And then I wait for the next from Jeff VanderMeer. Busy book summer.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Even Better Than The Real Thing

The making of a fake U2 rooftop concert.


To commemorate Deep Throat's unveiling, I'd like to share the lyrics to a song about Richard Nixon:

    Richard Nixon

    God, in his infinite wisdom
    Put Richard Nixon on this earth
    To bring to us his heritage
    One of priceless worth

    A courageous leader
    And a blessed man
    Surely in God's plan

    His heritage is from Heaven
    And the magic from above
    The rapture of music and melody
    Of culture and of love

    Yes, God, in his infinite wisdom
    Put Richard Nixon on this earth
    To bring to us his heritage
    One of priceless worth

    A leader with endless courage
    A miracle you might say
    And all who have met Nixon love him so
    The genius of his way

    God, in his infinite wisdom
    Put Richard Nixon on this earth
    To bring to us his heritage
    One of priceless worth

This is from the "Makers of Smooth Music" compilation, a CD of songs recorded in the 60's and 70's by companies who, for a fee, put your lyrics (no matter how awful) to music, with a live band !

[A partial repost from Last April 14th]

Thursday, June 02, 2005

The burden of bearing a massive penis

Pharyngula gets good and bad with a stone-cold discussion of red-hot spider sex.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Serve the server

The registration scheme for one of the products my company* sells uses a license file - made uniquely for each customer. The license creator, a little Windows program, takes the user's name, email address, etc., puts that through a rather complicated cryptographic process and spits out a license file.

The credit card processing company we use has a copy of our license creator. When they get an order on-line, they send the user info to our license creator which creates the license file; then they attach the license to an email message and send it to the customer. It's seamless.

Well, it was until today. Today, after years of relatively trouble-free operation, the credit card processor told us they can't handle the license creation any longer (no explanation), and that we'll have to find another way. Umm... ?

So how to fix this?

The place we use to host our web site run on some flavor of Linux / Unix, so we can't put our license generator on those servers (because it's a Windows app). They also don't let you compile executables on their machines, so we can't build a Linux/Unix version of our license creator. They let you write your own apps in scripting languages (PHP, Perl, etc), but there's no way to handle the cryptographic tasks in any of those languages (at least not with the packages our hosting service provides), so we can't write a PHP version of our license creator.

We could change hosts, and move our site to a place that does .Net hosting so we could write a .Net version of our license creator (assuming we can find a way to do the crypto stuff in .Net), but changing hosts is always a gigantic nightmare. That's really not an option.

We could change the application license scheme into something we could handle in a scripting language like PHP or Perl. But generating 10,000 new licenses for existing users is less appealing than changing hosts, and we just changed license schemes a few months ago.

So, we're stuck.

It looks like we're going to have to generate these licenses manually. This will cause much anger among customers, who, for some reason, seem to expect that everything on the internet is instantaneous. We've had to handle licenses manually in the past, when servers are down, or for special cases, and some people absolutely freak the fuck out when they don't get an immediate response. Having to wait until one of us gets around to checking our email means someone might have to wait 12 hours or more (depending on how late I sleep).

But, I see no choice, so let the bitching begin.

* - of which I am an employee, and do not speak on behalf of.


Now here's a list...

Wingnuts Online proudly presents The Ten Most Harmful Books of the 19th and 20th Centuries!

They've got books about commies, by commies and for commies. Books for Nazis and books for Feminazis. Books for environmentalists, economists, psychologists, and of course, books for biologists. Need to know who ruined everything? Here's your list. (Don't) buy them all, today!

The best part of it, for me, is the little ad down the right side advertising books by "kill liberals with baseball bats and truck bombs" Coulter, "liberals are yucky" Hannity, and a whole slew of Clinton conspiracy books. Three for a dollar!

All images Copyright 2004-2005, cleek.