Friday, March 31, 2006

Stupid website tricks, part II

When you footnote something with an asterisk, the footnote should be somewhere below the reference to it, not floating up and off to the right. Also, when you footnote something dead obvious, it would look better if you didn't screw it up. The Total column is not "per ticket". Wouldn't be much of a total if it was.

It was a stupid idea to add the asterisks in the first place.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Stupid web site tricks, part I

In general, websites have gotten less annoying as time goes by, as more companies, and more website designers become aware of generally accepted design principles. Or are at least supervised by someone with a little common sense. Back in the mid-90s one would hit all kinds of garish color schemes, screaming, blinking, scrolling, and flashing headlines and graphics. Much less of that around now, thank-you. Of course, about 2/3 of the total Internet bandwidth is taken up with ads, but on average, even those are less of an annoyance than they used to be.

But some bad habits seem harder to break. Particularly on input forms. Big retail sites are getting their act together, as they have financial incentive to do so. But otherwise, there seems to be people just looking for dumb ways to annoy me. Like these:
  1. Confirmation fields for e-mail address. It makes no sense to have a "confirmation" field when I can see the original field right there! Of course, I just copy and paste, but it's stupid. Especially for an e-mail address. Verify it correctly, or leave me alone.
  2. Confirmation fields for socialist security number on the Ohio I-File website. Repeat now sentences 2 and 3 above. I'd still like to know how the state of Ohio got the authority to demand my federal slave number, even for a driver's license.
  3. Being forced to enter long numbers (in particular cedit card numbers, but in this case, socialist security number) with no spaces, no hyphens. That's a sure sign of an incompetent form designer. It is trivial for a computer program to remove spaces and hyphens, if you really want it that way. Did it never occur to these imbeciles that the spaces and hyphens are there for a reason? Maybe I could "confirm" it myself if I could see it the way it normally is written.
Of course, Ohio has no [voluntary] paying customers, so I suppose they don't have much incentive to get it right or make it easy for me. But retail sites had better start getting some common sense involved in their design process.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Happy Birthday Captain Kirk!

William Shatner is 3/4 of a century old today. That's 75 earth years.

Happy Birthday Reese!

Reese Witherspoon has hit the big 30

Congratulations on winning the Best Actress Oscar, too.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

What's a nice girl like you...

... doing hanging around with war criminals, neocons, and republicans?

Mary Carey, the buxom, XXX movie star who caused an uproar last year for dining with President Bush and her pornographer, apparently still has a hunger for the nation's capital, and will have dinner with the president once again this week.

The former candidate for California governor is to attend the United to Victory dinner with Bush on Thursday, and have lunch at a related event Wednesday where Bush adviser Karl Rove is the guest speaker. She says she's taking part at the invitation of the National Republican Congressional Committee, which is organizing the events.

Well, maybe brains aren't her best asset.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Censure games

Your whores in Babylon on the Potomac continue to represent you in their customary fashion. Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis. has proposed to “censure” Pres. Bush over his violation of the law requiring a warrant before wiretaps. This rather tepid reaction to Bush & Co.'s war crimes seems to have gotten most of the rest of the whores' panties in quite a twist. This is because they're caught between a rock and a hard place, where the customary rules of political lying do not permit them to just say Bush is fine for doing whatever he wants (given he's already admitted he just ignored the law), but they are loathe to publicly support anything that could possibly be construed to be opposed by more than 38% of the sheep herd called the American public.

One senator after another claims he needs more time to “study” the issue, an “investigation” needs to “run its course”, or spouts some other lame excuse for not being able to comment on the measure.

Feingold, to his credit at least had the cojones to propose the censure; but you can be sure that he did it for one reason only: to get the necessary attention to start a credible presidential campaign.

I can't imagine the congress ever doing anything not directly related to their immediate self-interest, but if they were to actually start performing their constitutional responsibility, they would have impeached Bush by now. What could be a higher crime (much less a misdemeanor) than invading a foreign country and killing thousands of people, when it was obviously unnecessary, much less the last resort?

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Walk The Line

I finally got to see Walk The Line, as the DVD showed up from Netflix. Damn, I should have gone to the theater... and I knew it. Joaquin Phoenix is the man! He absolutely nailed Johnny Cash. I knew he was a great actor, but his singing was drop-dead perfect. You can easily tell the difference between him and the real man in black, but he manages to capture somehow the soul and essence of J. R. Cash in way that is electrifying. It's an incredible show, especially as I was expecting to cringe at his singing. Not to worry. If Mr. Cash were alive to see it, I'd bet Joaquin's performance would scare him to death. An interesting parallel between Johnny and Joaquin is they both lost an older brother they admired.

Reese Witherspoon may be the smartest actress of her generation. I think she's been sandbagging with the lightweight movies she's mostly been in up to now. Then, with her tour de force as June Carter in Walk The Line, how could anyone not award her the Best Actress Oscar. All of a sudden, she's the new Meryl Streep and Barbra Streisand rolled into one. She can really sing, and really act. Both she and Joaquin lived their roles to that rarefied level where you see no actors, but only the characters.

Ginnifer Goodwin as Vivian Cash, Johnny's first wife, was pretty good too, although it's hard to get much recognition for playing behind the two stars, in a somewhat unsympathetic role. One great thing about watching the DVD is that you can see a deleted scene (one that should never have been) where she overhears Johnny while he's working on “Cry, Cry, Cry”. It seems to break her heart to hear it, and she walks downstairs to where he's playing. Johnny doesn't see her for a bit, and is startled when he does. She asks him, “Do you hate me?” Oddly, she looks very beautiful then. Maybe that's why it was cut, the audience might start sympathizing with her.

There's plenty to like in this movie, but the scenes of Johnny and June on tour with Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis, Roy Orbison, and others were funny as hell. Waylon Payne as Jerry Lee was a riot. By the way, he was named after his godfather, Waylon Jennings, who also played with Johnny Cash. He was played in the movie by Scooter Jennings, who is Waylon's real son. He has a great line, when Johnny asked him why the phone is out: “Yeah, it's been turned off due to insufficient fundellations.”

Johnny Cash: Tell me you don't love me.
June Carter: I don't love you.
Johnny Cash: [grinning] You're a liar.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Eight last /. sigs

  1. If "disco" means "I learn" in Latin, does "discothèque" mean "I learn technology"?
  2. There are 2 kinds of people in this world. Those that can keep their train of thought,
  3. No trees were killed in the creation of this post. However, many electrons were inconvenienced.
  4. Saying Java is nice because it works on all OSes is like saying that anal sex is nice because it works on all sexes.
  5. "Outlook not so good." That magic 8-ball knows everything! I'll ask about Exchange Server next.
  6. It's multiple choice time... What is FORTRAN?
    1. Between thre and fiv tran.
    2. What two computers engage in before they interface.
    3. Ridiculous.
  7. Guy walks into a bar. Bartender says, "What is this, some kind of a joke?"
  8. I don't want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve immortality through not dying. –Woody Allen

Monday, March 13, 2006

Fan mail

Subject: looking for someone?
From: Ramon <>

Hi, Hope I am not wraiting to wrong address. I am nice, pretty looking agirl. I am planning onb visiting your town this monthb. Can we meet each other in person? Messbage me back at

I can't hardly weight. I always onb the lookout for pretty agirls. Especially named Ramon...

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Seven more /. sigs

  1. The government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases:
    • If it moves, tax it.
    • If it keeps moving, regulate it.
    • If it stops moving, subsidize it.
    –Ronald Reagan

  2. Build a man a fire, he's warm for one night. Set him on fire, and he's warm for the rest of his life.

  3. There are three ways to get something done:
    1. Do it yourself.
    2. Hire someone to do it for you.
    3. Forbid your kids to do it.

  4. "Which episode was that?"
    It was that episode where the Enterprise entered a strange area of space. Mr. Data generated a theory that correctly explained what it was they were experiencing. Riker used a metaphor to describe the phenomenon so bumpkins like me could understand it. Mr. La Forge set up some strange energy thingy to fire at it, but that didn't work. Worf suggested battle stations, but Picard didn't want to appear aggressive. Wesley knew all along what to do but nobody listened to him. Troi said people were scared. I forget how they got out of it but the effect was pretty neat. The most notable aspect of this episode was that the Holodeck was in perfect working order.

  5. I have seen the future, and it is inconvenient.

  6. Roses are #FF0000, violets are #0000FF, all my base are belong to you.

  7. "The amount of intelligence on this planet is a constant. The population is growing." –Cole's Axiom

Thursday, March 09, 2006

How observant are you?

Check your powers of observation and deduction: The guy in this picture is:
  1. Resting his eyes
  2. Shamelessly checking out a mighty fine rack
  3. Trying to use his yelow-ray-beam super-vision to burn through the rest of the top
  4. Getting his eyes burned out by yellow boob-lasers
  5. What guy?

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

My 13 favorite /. sig lines

  1. There are II kinds of people: those who know Roman numerals, and those who don't.
  2. Physics is like sex. Sure, it may give some practical results, but that's not why we do it. –Richard Feynman
  3. <^>_<(ô ô)>_<^>
  4. Research shows that 73% of all people who use the term "research shows" are just making shit up.
  5. It's overkill, of course. But you can never have too much overkill.
  6. On se Internetz nobody noes your German.
  7. Oct(31) == Dec(25) => Halloween == Christmas?*
  8. The box is there for a reason. I like thinking inside of it. I feel safe there.
  9. This message is encoded ROT0. Decoding is punishable by death under the DMCA.*
  10. Where are we going, and why am I in this handbasket?
  11. Impeachment: It's not just for blowjobs anymore.
  12. "i put the sexy in dyslexia" –T-shirt slogan
  13. What is is the was of what shall be. –Lao Tzu

*You might be a geek if you get this :-)

Monday, March 06, 2006

World of Warcrap

I installed and setup World of Warcraft yesterday, and I'm just stunned by the level of incompetence and arrogance of Blizzard (the owners of the game). Somehow, millions of people find it so compelling that they not only shell out $50 for the games, but about $15 per month to be able to play it.

I haven't actually played the game, and I'm not interested in trying it. But the crap they put a paying customer through just to get to where I could play the game is astounding.

First, the installation from the four CDs takes about an hour. Why so long? Who knows. There's no explanation, but you are expected to sit there and swap the CDs when it wants you to. It would take about 12 minutes to copy four CDs to my hard drive, and then the installation could proceed without my help. Does it require a brain surgeon to think of that?

Second, the first time you fire up the game, you have to gaze at HUGE license agreement, followed by a HUGE Terms of Use, both in about 6-pt type that I couldn't see if I wanted to, and would surely take an hour or so to read, again, if I wanted to. Then it stops and starts downloading a “patch” to bring the version up to 1.9.0. After about fifteen minutes, it finishes, and informs me that it must restart to install the patch. OK. Now we wait about 30 minutes watching WoW patch itself.

Third, the patch completes, and WoW does indeed restart. And I have to signon again. And read the stupid “agreements” again. And then it finds it must download another patch (1.9.1), and again informs me that it will restart itself to apply the patch. This is a much smaller patch, and the total time to download, and apply it is only about two minutes.

Fourth, fifth, and sixth, repeat the last paragraph for patches 1.9.2, 1.9.3, and 1.9.4. The level of incompetence to create and release this kind of idiocy is breathtaking. In free software, this kind of crap would be an insult to the user. Just to be clear to any clueless n00bs out there, a programmer or designer that was half-assed competent would have a shell program that managed the login and patching process, and never repeated the stupid-as-shit “agreements”, or the login prompt.

Seventh, the most-wonderfullest-game-in-the-world finally decides that it's patched as well as it would like, and allows the mark, uh, player, to proceed to pick a “Realm” to play in. I gather these correspond to servers (although that doesn't make much sense, that's no drawback to Blizzard). Anyway, there were a few hundred, with names like “Raxxor”, and “Sen'jin” and “Proudmoore”. About half had a status of “Max (queued)”, some were “High”, “Medium”, and “Low”. My volunteer tester selected a “Low”, so as to avoid lag and latency. Surprise! The list was a crick of bullshit. Every realm was “Max (queued)”, and she had to wait about 10 minutes to be allowed to play. It seems they are always able to collect your money, but there's not always enough time or money to get the stupid servers running.

Eighth, it appears the player must spend some time customizing a character to play as. You can probably just zap one up quickly, but my volunteer tester spent half an hour trying to find just the right hair, and skin tone, and booty size.

Ninth, after completing the character build, we find that “Character creation is disabled at this time.” WTF? After all they put you through, they just up and declare they're not going to let you play today!

My mind is boggled. This level of plain old head-up-ass moronic bullshit does not come around very often. And they must be drowning in cash. They may have the world's best game programmers and designers, but evidently they have just dragged tome winos in off the street to program the surrounding infrastructure. And, I guess if you're making millions of dollars by the hour treating your customers like mangy dogs, why change?

So, you mangy dog, is it really worth it?

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Nothing new under the sun

“Allow the President to invade a neighboring nation whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such purpose, and you allow him to make war at pleasure. Study to see if you can fix any limit to his power in this respect, after having given him so much as you propose. If to-day he should choose to say he thinks it necessary to invade Canada to prevent the British from invading us, how could you stop him? You may say to him,—‘I see no probability of the British invading us’; but he will say to you, ‘Be silent: I see it, if you don't.’”

Abraham Lincoln to William Herndon, February 15, 1848