Fix My Car Day

Today, I was a master mechanic. I used my auto repair skillz to replace the radiator on my 98 Camry. Even though it has about 230K miles on it, the car is still running well.

It developed a small crack in the upper radiator, which is made of plastic, so it wasn’t repairable. A trip down to Kragen Auto Parts, and $198 later (plus tax) got a replacement ordered. I ended up spending about $40 more on odds and ends.

It was sunny and clear today, although in the low 60’s. But it was pleasant enough to work on the car in the driveway. Removal was fairly easy, as was the replacement. A few hours later (after a 15 minute search for the radiator cap), the job was complete. No leaks found, no parts left over, so I can judge the job a success.

I rewarded myself with the rest of the day off, after hanging up a few holiday decorations inside the house.

Linden Dollar Hack and Other Grues

I’m a geek, but I don’t play games on my computer. Well, I haven’t for at least 15 years.

My first PC was an IBM PC “5150” model (I think) with an 8088 processor, 16K of memory (yep, KB, not MB), no disk drives (hard or floppy) and a CGA monitor (think of the resolution of a really cheap cell phone). The operating system was loaded from a cassette player. It took a couple of minutes to boot to a command prompt. And all it would do was the Basic language.

I soon upgraded it with an additional 384K of memory, a 5 1/2″ floppy drive, and later a 10MB hard drive. Along with some simple Basic programs, I got a copy of the game called “Zork”.

It was a text-based adventure game, and fun to play (although I never did get very far). Infocom was the publisher of Zork — I don’t think the company is still around. Although you can find an HTML-based Zork game here http://thcnet.net/zork/index.php , along with various Wikipedia entries for the game (for a sample, try this one about a “Grue” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grue_(monster). (You young kids might find Zork interesting, and I can see you old-timers nodding your heads as you remember your late nights with Zork.)

All of this is to bring up the threat to Second Life users. Malware in a Apple Quicktime video file in a Second Life game object could result in the evil hacker draining your Linden Dollar bank account.

How? Well, in a thinly-disguised attempt to drive my three regular readers to my “Security Dawg” site, wander over here: http://www.securitydawg.com/2007/12/second-life-attack-on-linden-dollars.html .

As for me, perhaps a bit of nostalgic time over on the Zork site.

And be careful out there. The evil hackers are lurking. Or …

It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a grue..

Google Maps Mobile Knows Where You Are – Almost

Google Maps Mobile (for your cellphone) can now approximate your location on a non-GPS type cellphone. It does this by using your current cellphone tower location. I tried this on my Blackberry, and it seems to work (at least while I am at the office; haven’t tried it elsewhere).

You get a blue dot on your Google Mobile Map that shows your approximate location. More information on the Google Maps Mobile blog here: http://googlemobile.blogspot.com/2007/11/new-magical-blue-circle-on-your-map.html . Note that this is version 2 and beta, and you may want to read the comments on that blog, as some people are reporting problems (as others report success). But the concept and implementation are quite interesting.

A short video is on the site explaining how it works.

My Exciting Life

My three (maybe two now) faithful readers will rejoice. Or not.

I have great intentions of posting daily, and think about it often, but neglect to actually place my fingertips on keyboard at the appropriate web page.

There’s not much excitement in my life, at least nothing that seems worthy of a mass of readers (those two guys) visiting to read my thoughts (such as they area).

Most days are the same. Get up (well, smack the alarm) at 5:35am, do the morning shower/shave/dress ritual (along with a morning visit to the small one-chair library room — the one with an abused fan). Tromp downstairs, wander outside to grab the newspaper, and head for the kitchen. Breakfast could be a bowl of cereal, or some instant breakfast (if I spent too much time with the snooze bar or the small library). Gather up the computer bag, cell phone, wallet, keys, newspaper, and lunch (prepared by my lovely wife), and head out the door.

Into the car for the 35-55 minute commute (traffic gets slower if I leave much past 6:50 am). Into the parking garage, down the elevator, walk to the office, through the door, down the hall, and plop into my desk chair.

Turn on the radio and the computer, log in, fire up the email and look for anything urgent. Start the web browser, open up the usual morning web site (about 30 of them), and look for anything interesting.

Check the email filter servers, the web filter servers, and all the other stuff at work.

At the end of the work day, grab the computer bag, cell phone, and head home. Relax a bit before dinner, maybe watch the local and national news, and dinner. Become a ‘geek potato’ after dinner (TV on, notebook on, DVR playing captured shows). Perhaps some dessert, and off to bed about 11:00am.

My exciting life.

Ask a Stupid Question Day

Tomorrow (Friday Sept 28) is “Ask a Stupid Question Day”. Yes, there is an entry in Wikipedia, so it must be so (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ask_a_Stupid_Question_Day )

And for those of you keeping track:

September 29 is… Poisoned Blackberries Day
September 30 is… National Mud Pack Day

Got any stupid questions? (or was that one?)

On my wall at the office, there is a picture from the movie “Sixth Sense”. It shows Bruce Willis and the “Sixth Sense” kid. The caption is “I see stupid people…they are everywhere. They walk around like everyone else. They don’t even know they are dumb.”

A relic from my days on the Help Desk.

Happy Birthday to :-) !

The ‘smiley’ emoticon is 25 years old today, invented by Carnegie Mellon University professor Scott E. Fahlman.

Wikipedia says “The two original text smileys, 🙂 to indicate a joke and 🙁 to mark things that are not a joke were invented on September 19, 1982 (at 11:44am) by Scott E. Fahlman, a research professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s Department of Computer Science. His original post at the CMU CS general board, where he suggested the use of the smileys, was retrieved on September 10, 2002 by Jeff Baird from an October 1982 backup tape of the spice vax (cmu-750x) as proof to support the claim.”

Here’s the original message:

19-Sep-82 11:44 Scott E Fahlman 🙂
From: Scott E Fahlman

I propose that the following character sequence for joke markers:

🙂

Read it sideways. Actually, it is probably more economical to mark
things that are NOT jokes, given current trends. For this, use

🙁

(from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emoticon )