[x]Blackmoor Vituperative

Saturday, 2006-12-30

Papa Johns has the worst customer service I have ever seen

Filed under: Food — bblackmoor @ 19:55

Tonight I used a coupon for a “large 3 topping pan pizza” from Papa John’s Pizza. I paid for a large pizza. What I received was a medium (10 inch) pizza. When I called to complain, I was told that I did receive a large.

Are they crazy? A 10″ pizza is not large!

I was told that if I did not like that, to call the customer service line on the box. I hung up, and looked, and there is no customer service line on the box. I called the store back, and they gave me a number to call, 888-907-0531. I called that number, and it is not in service. I called the store back AGAIN, and this time they said to send email to the email address on the box. I hung up, and looked, and there is no email address on the box. I called them again, and this time they just hung plain up on me.

Papa John’s has the worst customer service I have ever seen. EVER.

Wednesday, 2006-12-27

Marilyn Martin – Night Moves

Filed under: Music — bblackmoor @ 01:21

I stumbled across this video on YouTube earlier today. I loved this song, and I loved this video, and I was really happy to find it again. It is from back in the 20th century, when MTV used to play music videos.

It’s too bad that some of the really great music videos from that era are, as far as I know, lost to history. For example, I’d pay a tidy sum to have a DVD-quality copy of this music video, not to mention the Kate Bush oeuvre. Ah, well. At least someone recorded this on VHS and uploaded it to YouTube. I just think it’s sad that we have lost some of our cultural history from before the advent of universal digitization and file-sharing.

Do not let the propaganda from the Digital Rights Mafia and the media robber barons fool you: digitization and file-sharing will preserve our cultural heritage for future generations. Our great-grand-children will lament the fact that much of the 20th century multimedia will be lost to them — if they are even aware of the loss. If the media robber barons have their way, the works of the 21st century will be lost, as well.

Anyway, enjoy the video. According to Ms. Martin’s husband, the video was inspired by The Hunger. I believe it.

Tuesday, 2006-12-19

Replace SMTP, damn it!

Filed under: Security — bblackmoor @ 00:38

Spam has exploded in the last several weeks. 9 out of 10 emails in 2006 were spam. It’s been so bad it has caused delays and even shutdowns on some networks. It’s ridiculous. The SMTP protocol is way, way past overdue for replacement with something that has authentication built in, and it really pisses me off that it hasn’t been replaced by now. I am sick to death of people saying that it isn’t practical — the choice will soon be either to replace SMTP or to stop using email at all. Stop making excuses and replace the damned protocol. Here’s one suggestion. Here’s another. Get it done.

At this point I don’t even think it’s worth the effort of reporting spam to services like SpamCop. That’s like calling the police every time you see someone driving over the speed limit. It’s just a waste of time, because it makes no difference.

Monday, 2006-12-18

High Assurance SSL

Filed under: Security,The Internet — bblackmoor @ 17:49

Apart from the actual security provided by digital certificates in a Web environment, in terms of encryption of data and authentication of participants, they are meant to be a confidence-boosting measure.

That little lock icon in the browser and the “https” in the address tell the user that the communications are secure. Users can also click through some dialog boxes linked from the icon to see specifics of the certificates for the site they are viewing and make a decision about the authenticity of that site. Of course, 99% of users never do any such thing, and probably very few even notice the relatively obscure lock icon.

Even the value of the lock icon has been diminished lately. There have been recent examples of scammers obtaining a certain kind of SSL certificate, called a domain-authenticated SSL certificate, that can be obtained with very little in the way of verification of the bona fides of the applicant. Even if the user takes care to look for the lock symbol, he or she can be fooled by such a certificate.

A new standard hopes to address this situation with a new class of certificate. Some reports indicate that the final official name for these certificates will be “Extended Validation,” but they are more widely known as “High Assurance” SSL certificates.

(from IIS Zone, High Assurance SSL)

e-Passport cracked in five minutes

Filed under: Security,Society — bblackmoor @ 11:34

Last month a panel of EU experts warned that the e-Passport’s security is “poorly conceived”, and a week later a British newspaper demonstrated a crack. Now another researcher has shown how to clone a European e-Passport in under 5 minutes. A UK Home Office spokesman dismissed it all, saying “It is hard to see why anyone would want to access the information on the chip.”

Friday, 2006-12-15

When you hire an expert, listen to them

Filed under: Software — bblackmoor @ 22:24

M.A. is one of the world’s foremost experts on neural networks. His undergraduate specialty was artificial intelligence, his master’s thesis was about genetic algorithms, and his doctoral dissertation covered evolutionary programming. Such an extensive computer science education opened up a wide range of career options, ranging from a professor at a university to … a professor at another university. When someone outside of academia sought out his expertise for a project, he jumped at the opportunity.

The company that wanted to hire M.A. was a small programming firm that developed and maintained software used by the Bureau of Water Management. They were recently awarded a large contract to redo a rather inefficient part of the system and were convinced that implementing a neural network was the way to go. After the initial interview, M.A. told them that a neural network was the wrong tool for the job and that they should use a traditional approach. Management disagreed with his assessment and insisted that he come aboard to help rebuild the system. Had they not offered such a generous salary, he might have recognized this as a first warning sign. […]

(from The Daily WTF, No, We Need a Neural Network)

Go read the whole thing. Don’t worry, it has a happy ending. I am tempted to hand this article to every client I have from now on.

Hats off to M.A., though. He told them the right way to do it, and then did what the client wanted instead. And then three years later, he told them the right way to do it, and then did it. That’s a professional. I want to be like this guy.

Third MS Word code execution exploit posted

Filed under: Security — bblackmoor @ 22:14

Exploit code for a third, unpatched vulnerability in Microsoft Word has been posted on the Internet, adding to the software maker’s struggles to keep up with gaping holes in its popular word processing program.

The attack code, available at Milw0rm.com, contains sample Word documents that have been rigged to launch code execution exploits when the file is opened.

Microsoft has not yet publicly acknowledged the vulnerability, but the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team issued an alert to warn that Word documents can be manipulated to trigger code execution of denial-of-service attacks.

(from eWeek, Third MS Word Code Execution Exploit Posted)

At this point I just have to ask… why the hell is anyone still using MS Office? Fool me once, shame on you, fool me over and over and OVER AND OVER again, for years on end, and maybe I’m just too damned stupid to be permitted to operate a computer. I think anyone still using MS Office falls squarely into that category.

But what are software patents good for?

Filed under: Intellectual Property — bblackmoor @ 22:09

Tim Lee, over at the Technology Liberation Front is breaking down a recent report defending software patents from the Progress & Freedom Foundation — a think tank which claims to be libertarian, but is consistently a huge supporter of granting government-granted monopolies on intellectual property. They were huge supporters of the DMCA, and keep trying to make it even worse. Tim raises an important question about software patents that should actually apply to just about any intellectual property issue, but which is rarely asked: what are software patents good for? He notes that all of the defenses for software patents actually are attempts at debunking the arguments against software patents, rather than explaining why software patents are necessary.

(from Techdirt, But What Are Software Patents Good For?)

I don’t see how anyone who supports abominations like DMCA and software patents can see themselves as remotely libertarian. That’s like being a pro-choice, free-speech-loving Republican, or a fiscally responsible, gun-owning Democrat. The things just do not go together.

Thursday, 2006-12-14

A change of heart about GPLv3

Filed under: Intellectual Property,Linux — bblackmoor @ 12:57

I have changed my mind on GPL v3. After doing more research and reading more about it at Opinions for the second discussion draft of GPLv3, I think the new terms are a good idea, and address real concerns.

‘Logic bomb’ backfires on idiot hacker

Filed under: Security — bblackmoor @ 11:21

A former UBS PaineWebber employee was sentenced to eight years in prison on Wednesday for planting a computer “logic bomb” on company networks and betting its stock would go down.

The investment scheme backfired when UBS stock remained stable after the computer attack and Roger Duronio lost more than $23,000.

(from ZDNet, ‘Logic bomb’ backfires on insider hacker)

Dumbass hackers.

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