Archive for January, 2007

[UPDATE] Suspicious Packages Found in Boston Today

January 31, 2007

Three suspicious packages were found attached to bridges in various parts of Boston this morning, causing road closures and traffic jams as police and bomb squads dealt with the situation. Two of the objects included electronic circuitry. The third object may have been left behind by maintenance crews and may be unrelated to the other two. No explosives were found.

See this article for more information.

UPDATE: It turns out these objects were apparently part of a multi-city marketing campaign sponsored by Turner Broadcasting. Go here for more info. Thanks for the pointer, AM.

Groundhog Day from Redmond

January 30, 2007

Microsoft has released their latest attempt at an operating system. The world scrambles to figure out whether their current hardware will run it. PC vendors begin to ship systems with the new operating system pre-installed, forcing the world to deal with a new user experience and old applications that no longer work. It’s a great scam for the computer industry, but yet another sad day for consumers.

Microsoft has released their latest attempt at an operating system. The world scrambles to figure out whether their current hardware will run it. PC vendors begin to ship systems with the new operating system pre-installed, forcing the world to deal with a new user experience and old applications that no longer work. It’s a great scam for the computer industry, but yet another sad day for consumers.

Microsoft has released their latest attempt at an operating system. The world scrambles to figure out whether their current hardware will run it. PC vendors begin to ship systems with the new operating system pre-installed, forcing the world to deal with a new user experience and old applications that no longer work. It’s a great scam for the computer industry, but yet another sad day for consumers.

VISTA: BEST VIEWED FROM A DISTANCE

Which Science Fiction Writer Are You?

January 28, 2007

Courtesy of Geoff, here’s a new survey: Which science fiction writer are you?

I am:

William Gibson

The chief instigator of the “cyberpunk” wave of the 1980s, his razzle-dazzle futuristic intrigues were, for a while, the most imitated work in science fiction.

Which science fiction writer are you?

Getting Human

January 27, 2007

[gethuman logo]

I’ve been there, we’ve all been there. Trapped in the twistly little passages of automated phone help systems, unable to reach a real person. Well, the gethuman project feels our pain. Their gethuman 500 database, which covers hundreds of companies, government agencies, and other organizations, can tell you how to break free of the automated maze and speak to an actual human being. Entries include a website link, a phone number, and instructions on how to speak to a human at that number.

They also rate each customer service phone system and support experience using the gethuman standard. It’s no surprise to me that most of the organizations in the database have an ‘F’ rating. But there are some notable exceptions. Some ‘A’ rated companies: Hertz, LL Bean, Lands End, Hyatt, and Walt Disney World. In the US Government, the FBI and White House each score a ‘B’ amid a field of ‘F’ ratings. All of these organizations have something in common: phone numbers that go ‘direct to human.’ But, according to the database, ‘direct to human’ is certainly no guarantee of a good support experience. The masochist in me is tempted to call Buy.com, IBM, or Black & Decker (to name a few) to experience the agony of a ‘direct to human’ F-rated experience.

Open MPI 1.1.3 Released

January 26, 2007

The Open MPI Community has announced the availability of Open MPI 1.1.3, a bug fix release. Users of earlier versions are encouraged to upgrade, if possible.

This release should not be confused with Sun’s upcoming, supported Solaris release of Open MPI, which will be based on the Open MPI 1.2 source base. An Early Access version of Sun’s release is currently available for free download here.

OpenSolaris Comes to New England!

January 26, 2007

The first meeting of the New England OpenSolaris User Group will be held from 5:30pm to 8pm on Wednesday, January 31st on Sun’s campus in Burlington, Massachusetts. Sign up here for this free event.

The first half-hour is for registration and refreshments. The main agenda will include an introduction to the OpenSolaris project, a technical overview, and an “Ask the Experts” Q&A session. It should be an interesting event, even for those already familiar with Solaris. There are something like 60 projects running within the OpenSolaris community and I’m sure I don’t know what most of them are. As an aside, I was excited to see a Fuse on Solaris project–I think that would be an interesting and useful addition.

I’m attending–hope to see you there!

Travelers Beware: Honeytraps for Geeks

January 26, 2007

Fake “free wifi” has been seen recently at several airports, including O’Hare, LAX, and Laguardia. While these wireless networks, which have names like “Free Wifi,” do give you access to the Internet, they are actually peer-to-peer networks that route your network traffic through their machines, allowing them to snoop any data you transmit, incuding usernames and passwords. Worse, if you have file sharing turned on, you may be exposing yourself to far bigger problems.

Read the details in this Computerworld article.

Five Things

January 22, 2007

The “five things” meme continues to propagate through the blogosphere, and I’ve now been tagged by Eric. So, five things about me that many people don’t know:

  1. I was dismissed from Harvard in the Fall of my senior year for misusing University computer facilities. After a vote of the full Faculty, I returned two years later and finished my undergraduate degree. I believe I have the dubious distinction of being at least partially responsible for the subsequent appearance of rules related to proper use of IT resources in Harvard’s Handbook for Students.
  2. I was a high school mathlete and co-captain of our math team in my senior year. It was all very geeky and tons of fun. Our team was consistently one of the strongest in Massachusetts.
  3. I’ve been to Burning Man twice.
  4. I’ve been an ovo-lacto vegetarian since 1988. It started as a convenience while dating the woman who is now my wife. But over the years, I realized there’s no need to eat animals. And even if I were inclined to eat animals, I’m so disgusted with how they’re treated that I just couldn’t do it.
  5. I asked my wife what things people might not know about me and she came up with three immediately. No hesitation. Since they are all physical quirks, I’ve bundled them under one item: I can pick things up with my toes. I have a ridge along the top of my head like Ultraman. And I raise my eyebrows every time I eat or drink– it’s like my arm is wired to my eyebrow muscles.

Julia, Bob, Bill, Steve, and Joan — consider yourselves tagged.

Marvelous Celestial Display

January 22, 2007

Comet McNaught is no longer visible from the Northern Hemisphere, but it is treating those south of the equator to a marvelous show. The photo below is a long exposure, take from Siding Spring Observatory, Australia. The photographer was Robert McNaught, the comet’s discoverer. Additional photos are here.

[comet mcnaught]

Postal Irony

January 20, 2007

We’re pretty sure our house sits at the end of a postal route in our town. Partly because our mail gets delivered so late in the day. And partly because almost every day we get at least one piece of misdelivered mail left in our box. Sometimes three or more pieces. We think they dump their mistakes in our box rather than taking them back to the post office at the end of the day. It drives my wife crazy.

One of today’s incorrectly delivered pieces is from the United States Postal Service, informing the (intended) recipient that they’ve been selected to participate in a survey assessing how well the Postal Service has served them over the last 30 days.

Maybe they’ll leave the survey next week…