Thursday, March 31, 2005

 

They don't make them like they used to

"The question's not indiscreet. But the answer is!"

Noticed on IMDB that Ewan McGregor is 34 today. I first saw him in the dreadful Scottish drug movie, Trainspotting. That was written by champagne socialist Irvine Welsh, who has made millions writing lousy books and movies about the underclass from the comfort of one of a number of luxury homes he owns around the world.



So anyway Ewan McGregor started out in Trainspotting by shaving his head and playing a heroin addict.

Fast forward a couple of years and he's doing a really lousy Alec Guinness impersonation in the catastrophically appalling The Fanny Menace. He reprised his role in the moronic Attack of the Clothes. And we are shortly to be treated to - please God - the final insult, Star Wars Episode III: The Revenge of the Shit. Recently the smug bastard did a round the world motorbike trip with a friend of his. No doubt they had a fifty strong entourage following a few miles behind in a convoy of SUVs, just in case they needed a manicure or a chat with their agents on the Satphone.

So enough of this pathetic, jumped up little twat.

How about a real actor.

Lee Van Cleef for example.



Now there is a guy you don't mess about with. Van Cleef could kick McGregor's ass, with one hand tied behind his back.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

 

Safety at Sea

I haven't blogged in a week as I've been extremely busy. I don't want this blog to turn into one like Matt Pietrek's though where he only updates once a month; but there's no way I can hope to match the Raymond Chen blogging machine, either.

I'm so tired at the moment that I can't even muster the energy to rant about anything. Instead I'll share with you a hilarious video I saw on TV a few weeks back.

About ten years ago the Greek cruise ship OCEANOS was sailing off the coast of Southern Africa. Now everybody's familiar with the story of the Titanic, and how when it was clear that the ship was doomed, the last anybody saw of Captain Smith was as he walked back toward the wheelhouse in order to go down with his ship like a gentleman.

These days, however, things are rather different. An explosion below decks blew a hole in the bottom of the ship. As water flooded in and the ship started to develop an alarming list, crewmembers made a rapid assessment of the situation. "The sea! That should be on the outside!"

The captain acted instantly. "Abandon Ship!" "Abandon Ship!" went out over the PA system.

The bemused passengers were then treated to the sight of the crew scrambling over the side as fast as their legs could carry them and all piling into the boats.

So an hour or two later, the ship is starting to lean over really badly now. As confused tourists wandered about wondering what they should be doing, one man decided to take charge and headed to the (by now deserted) bridge to call for help.

"Mayday!" "Mayday!" he cried into the radio. Fortunately, he was answered immediately by another ship. The radio operator of that ship asked, "What rank are you?"
Our hero admitted, "I'm not really any rank.... I'm actually the guitarist in the ship's band!"

So he proceeded to give out their location, as far as he could, and other ships started steaming to help.

The next task he faced, along with the drummer, was to get the passengers in the lifeboats. By this time the ship was listing so badly a lot of them could not be launched.

Fortunately, rescue choppers turned up and the guitarist and the drummer made sure all the remaining tourists got airlifted off... they were the last to leave the ship, with the chopper lingering to capture some footage as it went stern up and sank beneath the waves.

So if you fancy a cruise, and you get woken up in the middle of the night by some commotion, head for the bar, buy a round for the band, and stick with them - you won't go far wrong.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

 

It's Going to be Crap

I refer to the upcoming NBC remake of the classic Britcom 'The Office'.

What made this show such a hit in the UK was the subtle, understated humour. You have to watch it closely to understand the humour. And frankly, the co-writer and star, Ricky Gervais, is a very, very good actor.

American TV shows are different though. For a start, instead of a commercial break at midpoint through a 25 minute show, there seem to be interruptions about every five minutes. Because the blaring repetitive ads are so obnoxious, people channel surf.

Successful American comedy shows are, therefore, built round the gag-payoff structure. They have to guarantee a big laugh every other sentence, and maybe 4-5 laughs before we go to commercials again. Seinfeld is a great example - you can be channel surfing, land on Seinfield, and enjoy a couple of good laughs before it's interrupted, at which point you surf away again.

Also, American TV does not have 'ordinary' looking people on it. If there are any, they are in minor supporting roles.

So what makes 'The Office' great - ordinary looking people you can relate to, and great writing and acting delivering subtle humour you need to watch the whole episode to truly appreciate - just can't be done on US TV.

Who wants to bet 'The Office' USA doesn't make it past 4 episodes?

The omens are not good.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

 

Kitten Kong

Pity the poor Londoner. He already has to worry about being murdered at random while out in the park or even eaten by the various loonies whom the authorities permit to walk the streets and appear powerless to do anything about.

To this understandable concern now add the risk of being savaged by a giant cat lurking at the bottom of one's garden. The poor householder in question was "looking for his kitten at the bottom of his garden, which backs onto woodland, when the powerful creature attacked him. He described how a 'big black figure pounced' and he was 'in its claws for about 30 seconds'."

Maybe it was a schizophrenic dressed up as the cowardly lion from Wizard of Oz?

It's enough to make you want to stay at home. But if you do, make sure the doors are securely locked and you have a rolled up newspaper or whatever other weapons the government still permit you to keep to hand, in case a couple of maniacs break in and beat you to death!

Sunday, March 20, 2005

 

Wrapup of SDEXPO2005

All in all, a most interesting conference. Joel Spolsky was very entertaining and relevant, and got some big laughs when he rubbished Rational's UML products. Joel's a true engineer - he doesn't need a load of stick men drawings to build great software! They are only useful in situations where you have ten layers of fuckwits covering their backs above the people who actually do the work.

One person in the audience, a CityDesk customer of Joel's, ribbed him gently for promising in August 2003 a version 3 of that product, which has yet to appear. Joel handled that one very well, pointing out that Microsoft has 58,000 people and Joel makes do with just five. Joel's "fireside chat" (with virtual fire!) was marred only by the presence on the stage of a functionary whose name I didn't catch, who asked him long, rambling pointless questions she didn't understand, when we just wanted her to shut up and let Joel talk.

Also that night I found myself in the elevator with Kent Beck. Kent had been in the audience for the "fireside chat" and there had been some banter between him and Joel, stemming from a few jokes Joel made at the expense of Extreme Programming (XP).

David Chappell of David Chappell and Associates did a talk on Service Oriented Architectures (SOA). This is the next "big thing", just like OO and all the other fads. I was astonished by how few people in the audience knew what SOA stood for. Wake up, people!

Undoubtedly for me one of the highlights of the show was the car I hired. As a welcome change from the piece of crap I normally drive I requested a Mustang from Hertz. As it turned out, I only got the base 3.8 V6 one, the last of the old shape (2004 model), but that was better than nothing!

The 2004 Mustang is a throwback to twenty years ago. The last car I drove which had a three-speed auto box, radio antenna next to the passenger side of the windshield and gauges for oil pressure and battery level was built in 1983. I loved it! Why did oil pressure gauges disappear from cars? And when you have as much torque as the old pushrod V6 in this car does, why do you need a four- or even five-speed auto box? Floor it going uphill, and it takes off like a rocket without even changing down from top!

It was excellent to join Hwy101, come up the slip road locked in 2nd, and then see how quick the Stang could blast up to 100MPH, and how stable it was once it got there. So not all cars in the US drift all over the road above 70MPH! I also really liked the brakes on this car. When cold they needed a hefty shove to bite, but they are without doubt the best brakes I've felt on a road car in a long time.

To see what the car could do, I found a nice challenging road, Hwy 17 to Santa Cruz. It's very reminiscent of some of the back roads in the UK. Unfortunately the traffic was too heavy to really push it, but I thought how great it would be if they would close the road for a few hours a week to let people race on it. Not much likelihood of that happening in California, I suppose...

Thursday, March 17, 2005

 

More from SDEXPO2005

Yesterday there were a couple of interesting sessions with renowned commentator Dan Applesauce. There was a whole thing on what are the advantages/disadvantages of C# vs VB.NET

I was surprised to hear the topic of the presentation, as I always thought that as the two are based on exactly the same common runtime, and use the same .NET Framework, that there is really no technical advantage to choosing one over the other. Turns out, I was right!

The only reason to use C# is if you have a bunch of C++ programmers who would resign rather than use a case-insensitive language.

It turns out there actually are one or two minor things you can do in C# but not in VB.NET, but they are so obscure, they are hardly worth mentioning.

Dan also talked about the large VB6 code base out there. His take on migration (as in, do we migrate our suite of VB6 applications to VB.NET): don't bother. Instead move to VB.NET gradually.

One concern is that Microsoft VB6 mainstream support ends on March 31 (two weeks away!). That may bother corporate types, but I'm surprised programmers are overly concerned. In 14 years of VB programming, I have never had occasion to call Microsoft. More especially now, with the vast amount of knowledge and help available on USENET and various web sites, why would anybody need help on VB6 from Microsoft?

I also doubt Microsoft will ever change the operating system to prevent VB6 apps running (although they will of course start to look very dated with the new vector graphic GUI in Longhorn). Microsoft have always been very good on backward compatibility. I have got DOS utilities I collected in my first job, executables dated June 1986, which still run, and which I still use. For instance a DOS version of the VI editor.

The only threat is that VB6 apps will be unable to access some new feature of the operating system. I'm sure, however, if that happens, some enterprising types will come up with 'bridge' technology to fill the gap.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

 

SDEXPO 2005

I'm spending a week at Software Development Expo in sunny Santa Clara. California is certainly beautiful; it's so green, and so bright and sunny. Beats freezing my butt off back in Sweet Home Chicago, where there was snow on the ground the day I left and everywhere you go there is a freezing wind which cuts you in two.

Chicago does have Santa Clara beat when it comes to affordable housing and traffic congestion though. The roads round Santa Clara are a permanent construction site, and a tiny two bedroom bungalow is about $500,000.

Yesterday there was an all-day session on Advanced .NET presented by Juval Lowy of iDesign. He is one of those Microsoft "Regional Director" fellows and gets to wear a shirt with his company logo on the tit. He is French and every time he took questions I was amazed how many different ways those guys can shrug. Sometimes with shoulders down, sometimes up; sometimes with hands up, sometimes down, and don't get me started about the potential combinations when you factor in whether his lips are sucked in or thrust out!

Today there was an interesting session on Windows Forms presented by Billy Hollis, whose site is the modestly-titled dotnetexperts.com. He sounds exactly like George Bush. It's really amazing. If you don't watch him it's just like you've got the President himself talking about extender providers and multithreading.

Monday, March 14, 2005

 

Justice At Last

I posted a month ago about getting screwed by CompUSA's rebate provider. I discovered that companies contract with rebate providers based on how many rebates the provider guarantees to not pay out; in other words, the more crooked the scumbag rebate operator, the more likely it is to win a contract to manage rebates on behalf of a big box retailer.

Anyway I was pleased to read today how the FTC settled charges with CompUSA stemming from this type of sharp practice - the judgment refers to activities, taking place four years ago, though.

The fact I was screwed as little as a month ago shows that CompUSA has not changed its ways.

In future, whenever I apply for a rebate, I plan to send along with all the receipts, bar codes, etc., they ask for, a photocopy of same, with a note making reference to the FTC judgment and the fact that I have made a copy of all the things I sent them just in case anything gets "lost". Hopefully they will then move on and cheat somebody less well prepared.

I can but hope.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

 

Back in the mists of time...

Before PC's were ubiquitous, and before most people not using PCs, DOS and Windows were using Unix, the computer industry consisted of numerous so-called 'proprietary' companies who manufactured their own hardware and wrote their own operating system software (and in many cases, application software, too) to run on it.

Before Intel, AMD, and Cyrix were 'inside', computers were built which did not even have a microprocessor in the sense of a chip which did 'everything'; instead the CPU consisted of a set of separate printed circuit boards communicating via a proprietary backplane (sort of like the PCI bus in your desktop PC). In some computers, the CPU would consist of more than ten boards the size of takeout pizza boxes.

So anyway the 'props' have now faded into history. The last one to succumb was Digital Equipment Corp (DEC) which, with IBM, arguably defined the era of proprietary computing, IBM delivering top-end mainframe systems (starting with the 360 line in 1964) and mini systems (AS/400); and DEC with its legendary PDP line (starting in the 1950s) and VAX line (starting with the VAX 11/780 in 1977 and ending with the last VAX processor based machine in 1992, when the company changed to building computers based on its ALPHA CPU instead of the VAX board sets). DEC was taken over by COMPAQ in 1998.

There were many other players: Burroughs, Univac, NCR, Sperry, ICL, Honeywell, Data General, Control Data, Prime, Gould, Texas Instruments, Wang, Varian, Harris, even HP had a line of proprietary minicomputers running their own operating system (MPE).

Imagine a world where there were so many different operating systems, networking protocols and standards (all proprietary), flavours of programming languages (convert IBM Fortran to Prime Fortran?), data formats, and so on.

Now, you simply use your USB pen drive to move a bunch of files from one computer to another, or ZIP and email them. Imagine what it was like for us back in the 1980s when it was common for a firm to have two computer systems from different manufacturers but be unable to interchange files between them easily, if at all. For a start, they might use different character sets; everybody using ANSI or UNICODE is a comparatively new thing. Ever heard of EBCDIC? It wasn't unusual to have two computers from the same manufacturer which didn't talk to each other (or which you couldn't afford to have talk to each other!)

So what was it like for us back in the day?

One thing it was, was very expensive. Forget downloading superb quality software for free off the Internet. Even a C compiler for a Prime computer ran something like $15,000. If you needed to ask what a license for their Primos operating system cost, you couldn't afford it!

As for the computers themselves? In the late 1980s, how about around $150,000 for a machine with 16MB of memory, 600MB disk, serving 16 users on character mode terminals (no graphics, unless you count block graphics!)

So you can see why PCs became so popular.

Imagine you are a college in the late 1980s needing to upgrade your (proprietary token ring) network of Prime minicomputers. Prime's negotiating strategy was based on the notion that as you already had five Primes, you weren't going to throw them out and start over with something else (this is called "lock-in").

Further, imagine that as a college, you are so strapped for cash that a high-level concrete walkway between two buildings recently fell into the parking lot below during a strong wind.

Finally, imagine that a Norwegian firm has just come along and offered you the very latest in Norwegian minicomputer technology, for practically nothing, just to get a reference site in the country.

Fast forward to the next semester. The Primes have been carted out and replaced by a number of NORSK DATA systems linked via their (proprietary of course) network, COSMOS.

At first, the student body thinks nothing has changed - the computer center is still full of the knackered old GT100 and Volker-Craig character mode ASCII terminals it had before the summer vacation. But what they are connected to, has changed ... as students log in, they find that the Primes, with Primos, the friendly Prime operating system, have been replaced by NORSKS, with an operating system showing a distinctly Scandinavian influence (think Ingmar Bergman) - SINTRAN.

So what was life like for the user community. Let's take a trip back in time about 20 years and look at some of the features of the SINTRAN operating system.

File names could be about 20 characters long with a four character extension and version number. You used the hyphen character in filenames a lot.

my-first-prog:symb;1
bill-withers:symb;1
bill:symb;1

There were no subdirectories. You logged in and all your files were in one place.

There were no wildcards. Instead you could get away with typing as much of a filename as you had to, to make it unambiguous.

QED MY

Would start up QED, an editor which makes NOTEPAD look like Photoshop, on my-first-prog:symb;1.

QED BILL

Would result in the message

AMBIGUOUS FILE NAME

Say I am in the editor and want to save the file. It keeps telling me, that the file doesn't exist. I know that!

It turns out, if you want to create a file, you have to enclose the name in double quotes.

OK, I want to copy bill:symb to bill-withers:symb. What's the Copy command?

COPY-FILE bill:symb,bill-withers:symb

Wait! What's happened. Oh... the copy-file command takes the TO file name FIRST and the FROM file name second? Great!

Hey, hold on, what's up now!

Oh, the computer's crashed. Don't worry, there's a Norsk engineer on site. They only crash a couple of times a day. Let's hope he doesn't have to order any parts from Oslo!


o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o

I'm having some fun at the expense of a long-forgotten and truly dire minicomputer maker, which died a death in the late 80s. The reality was the proprietary machines were generally fun to learn and use, and on the whole reliable. After all, if you design the hardware and write the software, the machine had better be stable, hadn't it?

Monday, March 07, 2005

 

Bizarro Movie News

Just read over on IMDB.COM that Sandra "Straight to Video" Bullock turned down the part in Million Dollar Baby that Hilary Swank won an Oscar for, because she wouldn't have been allowed to pick the director.

I don't blame her.... after all, why would she want to work with a nobody like Eastwood?

Instead, she chose to reprise her signature role of Gracie in Miss Congeniality 2, working with legendary director John Pasquin ("Joe Somebody [2001]")

Saturday, March 05, 2005

 

Much Ado About Nothing

In the UK, the Government spends about 50% of the country's Gross Domestic Product. Since that weaselly little turd Tony Bliar was elected, about another 500,000 people have been hired to work for the Government or for any of the hundreds of Government agencies which regulate everything from who is allowed to do electrical work on your home to how many fish a fisherman may catch to the straightness of bananas in your local supermarket.

One of the biggest and most powerful agencies is the Food Standards Agency.

Like most Government agencies, it's stuffed full of people who would be otherwise unemployable (technically referred to in the literature as 'useless fuckers'). Their day-to-day activities include brown-nosing ministers, going on long term sick leave, sitting on committees, complaining about 'stress', writing reports nobody reads, suing each other for various forms of discrimination, and basically filling in time until they can get their gold plated pensions.

Occasionally they will start a food scare, just to stay "on the radar". This time they've decided that a dye commonly used in food (and bizarrely called "Sudan 1") can cause cancer. It probably does - if you eat 200 tons of it.

Everybody usually wins from these food scares - the news organizations can fill some air time, and the FSA pretends it does something useful.

But this time, they've gone too far. Apparently they've pissed off the Government of Sudan.

What is the point of the FSA? If I was unfortunate enough to live in Britain today, I'd be more worried about being murdered by a paranoid schizophrenic than the fact that there is a .000001% chance I might get cancer due to a food dye, in 40 years time.

Just out of interest I pulled up the loony attack statistics for the past three months. Check them out.

A restaurant worker had delusions his boss was secretly filming him and almost killed him in a frenzied knife attack, Luton Crown Court has heard.


A health authority chief has expressed "regret" after a report highlighted shortcomings in the care of a psychotic teenager who stabbed a neighbour.


A schizophrenic who tried to kill two women by pushing them off a Tube platform has returned to hospital after going missing for two days.


A convicted murderer kicked and punched a fellow prison inmate, breaking his jaw and four front teeth, in a row over bunk beds, Lewes Crown Court heard.
Paranoid schizophrenic Hakan Yagiz, 34, admitted causing Wayne Kingdom grievous bodily harm when he was on remand in Lewes Prison last October.



The widow of a pensioner stabbed to death by a schizophrenic man is angry that an official report has not blamed anyone for failings before the attack.


A 26-year-old Sunderland man is to be detained indefinitely after pleading guilty on the grounds of diminished responsibility to killing two friends.


A male nurse was beaten to death by a schizophrenic in a south London psychiatric hospital after being left alone with him, a court hears.


A police officer who risked his life to save people from a crazed knifeman at a bus stop in north London has received the Queen's Gallantry Medal.


Mental health campaigners have blamed flaws in the system for the fact that a schizophrenic man was able to walk out of a psychiatric hospital and kill.


Visiting the UK? Keep your wits about you!

Friday, March 04, 2005

 

Spyware Now Written by Idiots?

Most people think virus and spyware writers are technically very adept. A lot of in-depth systems knowledge is required to discover holes in systems and write exploits for them, and to write code which can hide itself effectively and be difficult to remove.

I was surprised, therefore to read this report. It seems that some genius has written a spyware program which requires the .NET runtime -- all 65MB of it. This is silently downloaded in the background, with severe results if you're on a narrowband or capped DSL connection!

This reminds me of a joke I read years ago about a virus which required VBRUN300.DLL
 

United vs Southwest

United Airlines is in a death spiral. Since it forced us to waste an entire afternoon, from 2 PM to midnight, last year, repeatedly postponing our flight to Vegas, until finally cancelling it, when it could have easily spared us the trouble hours earlier, just by being honest, I have had a loathing for United.

Their flight attendants are incredibly rude, considering they are supposed to be in a 'service' industry. For example, wedged into my seat on a transatlantic trip once, I was yelled at by one attendant who was so fat she hardly fit down the aisle, because she'd got herself hooked up on my headset cable as she passed. Not wanting to get on a terrorist watch-list, and being above lowering myself to that level anyway, I just let her vent.

The worst part of United is their godawful website - proof that if you put a bunch of chimps in a room with enough computers, they will write software. My wife has a lot of United air miles, but they have made their site so appallingly difficult to use - particularly if you're trying to redeem air miles - that it's hardly worth bothering. The whole thing is tortuously slow, taking an age to navigate from one screen to another. It also has a problem of losing state, so you continually have to check you're booking the right flight. No doubt they long since outsourced the running of the site to the lowest cost provider, and it really shows. After all, what developer with half a brain would want to work for United in any case?

Contrast that with Southwest Airlines. Their website is clearly and attractively laid out, simple to use, and very fast. They fly out of Midway instead of O'Hare which despite being only 30 miles distant suffers from far fewer delays. (Midway is 14th out of 31 airports for delays, O'Hare is 30th). Obviously has some sort of favourable micro-climate, or maybe it's just because United doesn't fly out of there.

Business Travellers turn their nose up at Midway as though it's kind of hick - I say to them, fly out of O'Hare if you want, with its endless check in and security lines, and cretinous United employees about the place.

Southwest people seem happy and pleasant, the planes are usually half-empty, and you can sit where you like.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

 

NYPD Blue

Bye Bye Blue

I watched the NYPD Blue series finale this morning. I taped it last night as I find US TV programmes impossible to follow because of all the commercials. (May as well enjoy being able to fast forward through commercials while we still can!)

All in all it was a good finale. No big explosions or drama, just going out on a low key with a reasonable story.

I was a pretty avid follower of Blue during the first couple of seasons. To my mind it ran out of ideas and started going downhill not long after Jimmy Smits came on board. I stopped watching it when the Smits character died. We're supposed to accept a 6'4" guy who looks like he spends his off hours lifting weights dying of heart failure? Ridiculous.

The Dennis Franz character is what kept the series going all these years. Even when the plots are lousy, good characters are what keep viewers coming back and there's no denying that Franz's portrayal of Andy Sipowicz was a classic.

Other than Sipowicz, the characters are just too good looking. How many six foot tall blondes with enormous melons does the NYPD employ in reality? And I doubt pretty boys like Mark-Paul Gossellar and Ricky Schroeder would survive the academy. As for Henry Simmons, he's a good actor, but he looks more like a fashion model than a cop.

[Digression: Third Watch characters look more like cops, especially Molly Price. But if the cops in reality are as dumb as they are made out to be by this show, NYC is in big trouble!]

Blue was supposed to push the envelope in terms of bad language and nudity, but to my European eyes it looked fairly tame stuff. When Blue started, I was at the time working with a major police department in the UK. In fact I was working with one Detective Sergeant who looked a lot like Sipowicz. It was interesting to compare the reality of the UK Police with the world of Blue. For example, the UK Police don't use terms like 'perp' and 'skell'. I also didn't see any black superior officers giving their staff '48 hours to come up with something' or they'd 'have their badge'. Similarly in the UK, senior officers are not troubled by District Attorneys or Mayors 'crawling up my ass'. The UK police spend most of their time attending courses on diversity and equal rights, filling out forms, and manning surveillance cameras.

So anyway I am eagerly awaiting March 8th, when Season 4 of The Shield begins. That is the best cop drama I've ever seen; it beats the crap out of Blue, and the Parents TV Council hate it. Check out www.parentstv.org for handy summaries of all the best bits of The Shield. If you can justify the cost of FX for a 15-episode season, get it!
 

Encouraging News

Senate panel blocks Daley gun package

The Chicago Tribune reports that the Illinois Senate Judiciary committee voted down Mayor Daley's latest gun control proposals.

As I have mentioned, I think Daley is a great mayor. I don't belong to the 'bash Daley' tendency.

But I don't understand how somebody whose family and person are protected by heavily armed state police 24x7, the mayor of a city whose aldermen are all permitted to carry concealed firearms, can try to bring in laws to restrict gun ownership among the law abiding majority - the people who voted him into office.

How are gun laws supposed to reduce gun violence? The only people who obey them are, by definition, law-abiding, and therefore, not among those who are out committing gun crimes.

Look at the situation in Britain where nobody is allowed to own guns, but violent crime is out of control. Check out the BBC website any day to see what I mean.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

 

Dirtbags 'r' US

Remember Choicepoint, the company which likes to say 'yes' to identity thieves?

Great article about the company's dirtbag in chief on Yahoo. I think Yahoo stories expire unlike BBC, so some choice excerpts follow:

ATLANTA - ChoicePoint Inc. chief executive Derek Smith said Thursday he supports congressional hearings and tighter regulation of the data collection industry, if necessary, after revelations his company was duped into giving criminals access to its massive database of consumers' personal information.

His face drawn and eyes weary from two days of meetings in New York with large investors, Smith said in his most extensive interview to date that he is working around the clock to keep shareholders and customers from running away.

He said his company is investigating whether anyone internally was involved in the breach, but he stressed there has been no evidence of that.

"If we knew somebody had done something internally, we would tell you that," Smith said in the hour-long interview with The Associated Press.

Yeah - I bet you would! You only notified 5,000 people in California because the law required it. 38 state Attorneys General had to kick your sleazy butt before you notified the other 140,000 people

Smith said he believes his company is as much a victim as the roughly 145,000 Americans whose personal information may have been viewed by criminals.

Ahh.. the poor guys. You can't help but feel sorry for them! I bet Smith's details weren't compromised, and aren't up for sale.

"I wish we would have caught it sooner," Smith said.

Doh!

He added, "The painful part for me is that our mission is being called into question."

Mission? Oh, you mean equipping anyone prepared to pay you money with the information they need to ruin citizens' lives and trash their credit.

ChoicePoint says its mission is to arm customers with information to verify that the people they are doing business with are who they say they are.

Too bad they don't seem to be able to verify who their own customers are.

The debacle also has spurred at least one lawsuit and could ultimately take a financial toll on the company. The company's share price has dropped about 10 percent since the episode was revealed.

Let's hope Smith and the rest of those cocksuckers are sued out of existence.

Finally, a classic:

But, Smith said he believes there is an important role that data aggregators like ChoicePoint provide in society.

"If you shut the information off, the people that will win is organized crime," he said.

Seems to me organized crime's doing fine now, with Smith's help
 

The Oscars

As Chris Rock was hosting, I decided to watch the Oscars this year. Chris Rock was responsible for what in my opinion is one of the three funniest comedy sketches I have ever seen: "How not to get your ass kicked by the Police". There are loads of copies of it floating round the Internet, and it doesn't contain any swearing. Even my Dad laughed!

This year they kept the Oscars to about three and a half hours which was good.

It was worth watching the Oscars for Chris's remarks introducing Tim Robbins: "When he's not dazzling us with his acting, he's boring us to death with his politics!".

So they had some band playing that I personally had never heard of, Counting Crows. Apparently the lead singer Adam Duritz has had sex with both Courtney Cox and Jennifer Aniston (although not, I believe, at the same time). It really made me wonder at the state of modern music. Five seconds after the song had finished, I'd already forgotten it. Cox and Aniston! And the guy looks like a complete knob!

Browsing the BBC Music site today they had a review of one of the first albums I ever bought, Deep Purple's In Rock.



Deep Purple playing the Oscars - that I would pay to see. Ian Paice's drum solo alone would take the ceremony back above four hours!

What a truly great band Deep Purple are. Still rockin' after 35 years.

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