Let's Watch A Girl Get Beaten To Death

So my usual bill of fare is somewhat lighthearted and frivolous, with the occasional rant thrown in. Today though I came across a link via Gamers With Jobs to a recent post by the excellent Joss Wheadon (already my hero for such excellent productions as Buffy, Firefly and Serenity).
Last month seventeen year old Dua Khalil was pulled into a crowd of young men, some of them (the instigators) family, who then kicked and stoned her to death. This is an example of the breath-taking oxymoron “honor killing”, in which a family member (almost always female) is murdered for some religious or ethical transgression. Dua Khalil, who was of the Yazidi faith, had been seen in the company of a Sunni Muslim, and possibly suspected of having married him or converted. That she was [tortuously] murdered for this is not, in fact, a particularly uncommon story. But now you can watch the action up close on CNN. Because as the girl was on the ground trying to get up, her face nothing but red, the few in the group of more than twenty men who were not busy kicking her and hurling stones at her were filming the event with their camera-phones.
I'm not going to bother to rant much on this topic. Anyone who knows me could anticipate my utter disgust over such an event in any case. But do read his page, I like the call to action he makes at the end. Go on, give it a read. And then go home and hug your wife and/or daughters if you have them.

Pic of the Week 20070525

Yeah, might as well get this out of the way while I'm thinking about it. Click & enjoy!

New DX10 Benchmarks Do More Bad than Good

Well, it's Friday before Memorial Day Weekend. While everybody else here at my work get to take off at 2pm, I have to wait for my normal train at 4pm. And with the heat restrictions today, I'll be an extra half hour getting home. Ah, well. More time to nap on the train, and more time to peruse the net at work. Speaking of which, here's a tidbit from Slashdot on Wednesday:
An interesting editorial over at PC Perspective looks at the changing status between modern game developers and companies like AMD and NVIDIA that depend on their work to show off their products. Recently, both AMD and NVIDIA separately helped in releasing DX10 benchmarks based on upcoming games that show the other hardware vendor in a negative light. But what went on behind the scenes? Can any collaboration these companies use actually be trusted by reviewers and the public to base a purchasing decision on? The author thinks the one source of resolution to this is have honest game developers take a stance for the gamer.


The Man Song

This video's very funny - I've never listened to the Bob & Tom (radio) show before thus hadn't heard this song before. If you're not into WoW that's fine, just listen to the song and have a chuckle.

Pic of the Week 20070518

Look at the pic closely. Click on it if you have to in order to see the full resolution. See anything amiss? And I do mean other than the nuclear plant in the background...

Last hint: Look in the foreground...

A Southern Grandma

[Yes this is one of those email chain jokes that passed around from time to time. I hadn't heard this one yet, and found it amusing.]

Lawyers should never ask a Southern grandma a question if they aren't prepared for the answer.

In a trial, a southern small-town prosecuting attorney called his first witness, a grand motherly, elderly woman to the stand. He approached her and asked, "Mrs. Jones, do you know me?"

She responded, "Why, yes, I do know you, Mr. Williams. I've known you since you were a young boy, and frankly, you've been a big disappointment to me. You lie, you cheat on your wife, and you manipulate people and talk about them behind their backs. You think you're a big shot when you haven't the brains to realize you never will amount to anything more than a two-bit paper pusher. Yes, I know you." The lawyer was stunned! Not knowing what else to do, he pointed across the room and asked, "Mrs. Jones, do you know the defense attorney?"

She again replied, "Why, yes, I do. I've known Mr. Bradley since he was youngster, too. He's lazy, bigoted, and he has a drinking problem. He can't build a normal relationship with anyone and his law practice is one of the worst in the entire state. Not to mention he cheated on his wife with three different women. One of them was your wife. Yes, I know him." The defense attorney almost died.

The judge asked both counselors to approach the bench and, in a very quiet voice, said, "If either of you idiots asks her if she knows me, I'll send you to the electric chair."


colour changing card trick

Not a card trick per se so much as a psychology trick. Pretty cool, watch it all the way through to get the big picture.

The Clueless Newbie Rides Again

Sweet Ubuntu props from Slashdot again, posted Wednesday:
Anyone remember The Clueless Newbie's Linux Odyssey? As it happens, she's come back to have a go at Ubuntu Feisty. 'Four years ago I tried about a dozen Linux distributions, to see if they were ready for an ordinary user to install as an escape from the Windows world. None of the distros performed well enough for me to recommend them to a non-geek unless they were going to hire someone to install it. After hearing Dell's recent announcement that it will sell computers with pre-installed Ubuntu Linux, I decided to see if Ubuntu was user-friendly.'
Spoiler: Yeah she likes it. No surprise there, Ubuntu is the first Linux distro I've come across that simply works correctly right after installation - and what doesn't work exactly as needed (as the writer discerned) can be easily fixed with little in-depth knowledge, simply by browsing the Ubuntu help forums.

Team Fortress 2

It's coming out sometime Q3 this year, part of HL2:Episode2 and Portal. I am awash with anticipation, sort of a giddy kinda glee...

I am seriously loving the cartoonish quality, and it looks like it really adheres to the gameplay for the Team Fortress classic...

This one's my fav... :-)


Ravencrest Stats

Found some interesting stats on my WoW server, Ravencrest. I had no idea us Hordies were so outnumbered, but then again I don't do battlegrounds or any other PVP.
Total Characters: 5,983
Showing Guild: All
Total Alliance: 3,880 - 65%
Total Horde: 2,103 - 35%
A to H Ratio: 1.8 : 1
Activity Ratio: 2.1 : 1
Huh, 45% of the server are Humans or Night Elves. How boring. Us Blood Elves are the most populous Horde (10%) followed closely by Forsaken (9%). Classes are a little more along the lines I'd expect: 18% Hunter, 14% Warrior with the rest spread out right about 10-11%. Except for only 5% Shaman. They never get any love.

Interestingly, if I change the minimum level down to 1 instead of 40 (meaning to catch all the alts people create just to play around, or to bank) then the percentage of BE jumps from 10% to 20% of the server. C'mon people, level up or delete. (I'm one to talk, I have three BE alts levels 14-21...)

Side note: My old server, Eitrigg, has an even worse ratio still:
Total Characters: 9,956
Showing Guild: All
Total Alliance: 8,162 - 82%
Total Horde: 1,794 - 18%
A to H Ratio: 4.5 : 1
Activity Ratio: 1.2 : 1
Funny, there's more Horde on Ravencrest yet Eitrigg has nearly twice the total players. Buncha Alliance n00bs. Heh.

WoWLinuxTools shows progress on open source WoW

This popped up on WoW Insider today:
Anybody out there brave enough to be running WoW on Linux? I'm not, but WorldofWar.net has announced that players are one step closer to getting Azeroth running on your favorite open source flavor. A user named Yaccin has posted a small app called WoWLinuxTools over on KDE-Apps.org. It's as early as early gets-- the version number is 0.0.0-prev5a-- but it's a start.

Now, from what I know (and admittedly, what I know about Linux isn't a lot), the best way to get WoW running on Linux is to run it from within Wine, a Windows emulator (Yes, I know Wine Is Not an Emulator, but work with me here). But even running it from within Wine doesn't let you change certain settings like sound and video, and apparently that's what this WoWLinuxTools program is supposed to do. As I said, it's very early on in the process, so unless you know your way around Linux, you should probably stay away (or just dual boot Windows to play WoW), but what's there looks promising, and if a few more code monkeys get their hands on it, we could see something great.
Granted, even better would be a native WoW client running within Linux without the need for Wine, but whatever... The comments under the blog entry contain several brave souls who are running WoW on Linux currently with no issues - more power to them!

Hybrid Cars to Get New Mileage Ratings

Posted on Slashdot yesterday:
Wired is running a piece showing the drastically reduced mileage ratings for hybrids after the upcoming changes in gas mileage calculations by the EPA. While the cars themselves aren't changing, plugging these new numbers in to the equation makes a hybrid much less cost effective: "The two top-selling hybrid vehicles, the Prius and Honda's Civic Hybrid, will lose 12 and 11 miles per gallon respectively from their city driving estimates." The new values come from more realistic testing; the old, over-inflated ratings were higher in part because the cars idled a lot, allowing the hybrids to completely turn off their engines. The new ratings should be more in line with what hybrid drivers are actually seeing.
I've been hearing about this for awhile, and I'm not too upset over it. Truthfully, I've never gotten the advertised MPG on my Prius. It varies by season, but I usually get 42-48mpg driving mostly highway, when I should be theoretically getting 55mpg. Since I don't drive in the city (City? What city?) I can't comment on that rating.

Teachers Fake Gunman Attack

Slashdot reports on an unbelievable story out of Tennessee yesterday.
Staff members of an elementary school staged a fictitious gun attack on students during a class trip, telling them it was not a drill as the children cried and hid under tables. It'll be interesting to see what happens to these teachers after the charges brought against students in recent months.
From the article itself:
During the last night of the trip, staff members convinced the 69 students that there was a gunman on the loose. They were told to lie on the floor or hide underneath tables and stay quiet. A teacher, disguised in a hooded sweat shirt, even pulled on a locked door... Principal Catherine Stephens declined to say whether the staff members involved would face disciplinary action, but said the situation "involved poor judgment."
Oh. My. God.

I am so freaking sick and tired of the FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt) coming out of the school system. My 10-yr-old can't sleep at night because of the bloody Code Red drills at school, and is convinced that the least noise outside her window is a gunman coming to kill us all.

What the bloody hell is wrong with people? Who do they think they are really helping here??? Do the teachers or the principals get their warm fuzzies from scaring the hell out of their students, or do they not even enter the equation? Is it really necessary to drill for a school shooting?

How many children are killed at school by gunfire on a yearly basis, compared to those killed in automotive accidents?

And exactly where do they think kids get the idea to go on a rampage at school from? Doesn't it occur to them, that by "glorifying" past actions (media coverage, hysteria by authorities) they are handing kids the perfect avenue to get attention in a deadly way?

Can the government not see how they trivialize a tragedy like Columbine or Virginia Tech by pressing the FUD into the public mind to further their own agendas?

I'm just so overly disgusted by this whole deal. I think criminal charges should be pressed on those teachers and the principal individually, and sued for therapy fees for each and every student. I know I'd be screaming at the top of my lungs if they pulled a stunt like this at my daughters' schools.


Here, just so you don't think I'm completely off the handle, I'll reprint some choice comments from the Slashdot article:
Rather, the issue here is that too many teachers and principals are little tinpot dictators who view their schools as their fiefdom and students as little serfs answerable to them. It's part of why they become teachers and principals in the first place, a great chunk of them HATE kids but see it as a way to get a piece of their own little world, isolated from the adult world and with a more vulnerable, ignorant populace more fearsome of authority and thus more easily controlled. Oh, plus the summer off.

If there wasn't a way to force respect based on authoritarianism they wouldn't be interested, they're sado-masochists in disguise, mix them in with children and that makes them predators

Year after year there's always something or other frivolous thing they're trying to control. This year, in my neighbourhood, it was them trying to ban Axe body deodorant. I remember when I was a kid they tried to ban Doc Martens. Somewhere in between it was friggin' multi-colored shoe laces. Now it's MySpace. It never ends.
Now, another comment claims that the press release shows a different side of things - granted this is from the school system itself, and purported that "...Apparently, there was no "attack" staged; rather, the teacher told the children that there were people somewhere nearby shooting guns, though not at people. Most of the children did not seem upset by the incident. A few did, but supervisors talked to them and reported that they seemed fine afterward..." Now, the page linked to was supposed to have a press release regarding the above, but the only thing I found on the page was a pdf entitled "Disciplinary Action Announced by Director of Schools":
Director of Schools Marilyn Mathis has suspended lead teacher, Mr. Quentin Mastin, and assistant principal, Don Bartch, for unprofessional conduct and neglect of duty due to actions taken with Scales Elementary School students on May 10, 2007 at Fall Creek Falls State Park. The suspension is without pay and will commence on May 14, 2007 and continue through the end of this school year ending June 1, 2007.
Obviously the school system deemed the action inappropriate.

Further on in the comments I did find a link to the original press release. So now, as the commenter relates, "...the only decision you have to make is do you believe the 11 year olds description of 'about 20 kids started to cry' or the schools 'the children remained there quietly for a short period of time'?"

But I'll leave you with the best quote yet.
Unlike the student who was arrested a while ago for completing his essay assignment as [asked], these teachers will not be arrested. At best they may be fired after a couple months of looking in to it. They will probably only get a slap on the wrist. Don't forget that America in not interested in protecting children. This is a perfect example. By pulling this stunt, the teachers were able to scare the kids and [permanently] brand the image of terrorists into the Children's minds. It doesn't matter that the thing turned up to be a hoax, the less educated/experienced of the kids will live with fear for quite a while, perhaps their whole lives. The teachers are acting much as the rest of America acts. It [is] more important to mold children into the "American Cog" than to treat them fairly, or to give them an education. I mean, after all, what about the terrorists?
Read the rest of the comments if you're interested, there are far too many for me to wade through while I'm at work. And I'm done venting for now anyways.


An Angry Horde of Girls, Spidey 3, and a Sandwich Ring

So Friday night was Katie's sleepover birthday party. Imagine if you will a dozen prepubescent girls, with several alphas present, all attempting to coexist in a single basement room. I think Katie had a good time (except for one girl who I think pressured her into being invited just so she could be the center of attention) but I was up till 4am Saturday morning making sure they all got to sleep. And the cleanup took quite awhile... scrubbing the floors and coffee tables of spilled ice cream and sodas, picking up the cases and cases of mostly full soda cans (take two sips, put it down, forget which one was yours and then open a new one... sigh...) - but it got done eventually. Then my in-laws came over, and I got to go see Spiderman 3 with my father-in-law. I swear, someone needs to take the Harlequin romance novels away from Sam Raini so he can learn to direct decent romances. The ending was a bit corny, though there were some excellent action scenes, and they did a good job showing Spidey's moral degeneration while wearing the new suit... The over-emotional scenes got a bit much tho, IMHO.

Sunday came, Mother's Day, and the gents and I collaborated on some platters from Sam's Club so the womenfolk could enjoy the day. After I made breakfast for all, and cleaned up the dishes, I headed out to Sam's and picked up a massive Sandwich Ring, a Croissant Sandwich Platter and a Shrimp Platter, as well as some veggies + dip, tea and soda, in time for the party at 2pm. Was nice getting all the family together at our place, even though many had to travel a bit to get there (well, my in-laws had been close by anyway due to Nick's family reunion in upper MD, and they usually have the furthest to travel).

So by the end of the day, the only time Donna had to spend in the kitchen was to take the pizza out of the oven that I'd stuck in for dinner and cut it. Not bad.

Plus, she really liked the diamond earrings I got her. :-)

And now... we return you to your regularly scheduled work week.

AMD Promises Open Source Graphics Drivers

As viewed on Slashdot yesterday:
Henri Richard, AMD's VP of sales, has promised to deliver open-source drivers for ATI graphics cards (recently acquired by AMD) at the recent Red Hat Summit. A series of good news for proponents of open-source device drivers. In the last year, Intel, the leading provider of integrated graphics cards, has opened their drivers as well. But ATI and NVidia, the only two players in the market for high-performance discrete graphics cards, have so far released only closed-source drivers for their cards. This has created numerous compatibility, stability, and ethical problems for users of Linux and other open source OSes, and prompted projects like Nouveau to try and reverse-engineer NVidia drivers. Hopefully AMD's decision will put pressure on NVidia to release open-source drivers as well!

7 Things the Boss Should Know About Telecommuting

Interesting article mentioned on Slashdot on Sunday. Excellent read, well worth the time to link through and peruse.
An article on CIO.com presents input from several telecommuting IT professionals about the benefits that working from home brings to the enterprise. They suggest some processes that help remote workers interact with other team members, and discuss the irritations that twist telecommuters' shorts in a knot. In short, it's what employees truly want the boss to know about telecommuting. Two sidebars also discuss tips for telecommuters who don't want their careers to stall because they're 'out of sight, out of mind,' and the out of pocket expenses that the company and telecommuter need to divvy up.

PC World Editor Returns, CEO Demoted

Posted on Slashdot 2007.05.11, a follow up to a previously reported story...
In a nice twist to the recent discussion on Slashdot, PC World editor Harry McCracken has returned to the magazine. In turn, Colin Crawford has been removed as PC World's CEO, where 'he will be responsible for driving IDG's online strategy and initiatives in support of our web-centric business focus' ... safely out of the way of the magazine editors. McCracken was pleased to return to his position: 'I'm thrilled to be back with the PC World team. IDG is a company I've loved working for over the past 16 years, and one with a remarkable history of enabling editors to serve our customers--the millions of people who depend on our content online and in print.'

One-Day Gas Boycotts: Not Affecting Oil Companies Whatsoever Since 1999

Once again, word is circulating through the tubes that we can bring oil companies to their knees by refusing to buy gas on May 15th.

Once again, oil companies are not scared, and are in fact laughing at you right now, high up in their towers constructed from the bones of polar bears.

Why? Because one-day gas boycotts don't actually involve buying less gas. They just shift the purchase from one day to another, without actually costing the gas station any sales over the course of a week. It's not like the gas is going to go bad on that one day you don't buy it.



Pic of the Week 20070511

Ha! Actually got it in this time. Betcha thought I'd miss it for sure, what with Katie's birthday yesterday and the mobs of prepubescent tweens descending upon the house this weekend... Actually it's not a pic so much as an article made into a pic. yeah. Anyways, read this very closely. Brought to you by the fine folks in Arkansas.

Sad thing is, from what I hear she writes stuff like this in the paper all the time...

Microsoft oPhone

Microsoft's crazy design for a new mobile phone, one that is sure to knock Apple's iPhone out of the water.


What Be Your Nerd Type?

Yeah. This one's kinda obvious to anyone who knows me.

What Be Your Nerd Type?
Your Result: Gamer/Computer Nerd

You enjoy the visual stimulants of a video game, chatting on AIM, or reading online comics. Most of these types of nerds are considered dirty who lack hygeine, of course they always end up being the ones who make a crapload of money. And don't worry, that's just a stereotype; I'm not calling you dirty. ^_~

Anime Nerd
Literature Nerd
Science/Math Nerd
Social Nerd
Artistic Nerd
Drama Nerd
What Be Your Nerd Type?
Quizzes for MySpace

I gotta stop browsing this stuff when I'm supposed to be listening on a conference call...

What American accent do you have?

OK, this one's just spooky. I got the link off of Steve Bass' newsletter, and he said it picked right up on his Brooklyn accent. I'm thinking "Yeah sure, that's an obvious one - but I don't have an accent! I'm Californian, but not a surfer dude! And that was so long ago anyways..." So I take the quiz. Just asks for how words sound to me, alike or different. And the result?

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The West

Your accent is the lowest common denominator of American speech. Unless you're a SoCal surfer, no one thinks you have an accent. And really, you may not even be from the West at all, you could easily be from Florida or one of those big Southern cities like Dallas or Atlanta.

The Midland
North Central
The South
The Northeast
The Inland North
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Best. Quiz. Evar.


Updating my Wish List...

One day I may amass enough money to upgrade my aging gamer platform. Crazy Harry is getting a little long in the tooth. Granted, he's no slouch with BF2 or WoW, but BF2142 still seems a little slow, and newer games like SupCom that practically require dual processors are positively painful to play... Currently running an AGP 6800GT and an AMD 3500+ on him, so we're talking video card, motherboard and processor upgrades:

EVGA 320-P2-N811-AR GeForce 8800GTS 320MB 320-bit GDDR3 PCI Express x16 HDCP Video Card - Retail $279.99

ASUS P5N-E SLI LGA 775 NVIDIA nForce 650i SLI ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail $139.99

Intel Core 2 Duo E6320 Conroe 1.86GHz 4M shared L2 Cache LGA 775 Processor - Retail $168.00

Sigh... $588 spare change seems just as impossible as it did a year ago...

Pidgin 2.0 Released

Posted on Slashdot 2007.05.04:
After nearly two years of development, Pidgin 2.0 has finally been released! Originally called Gaim, Pidgin is a powerful and robust open source instant messaging client that supports many protocols. Pidgin 2.0 features a completely redesigned interface with attractive new icons and and a new status management system that was designed for optimal usability. Pidgin 2.0 also adds support for universal buddy icon management and smooth-scroll functionality for conversation windows. A comprehensive review at Ars Technica explores the new features in Pidgin 2.0 and demonstrates how to use the new D-Bus bindings with Python to make Pidgin's status system send updates to Twitter.
W00t, time to upgrade my Gaim...

Cartoons of the 80's

If you grew up in the 80's watching cartoons, take a half hour out to relive them. Here's 30 mins of 80's cartoon Openings:


Pic of the Week 20070507

All the blogging I did Friday and I forgot to do a Pic of the Week. Ah well, better late than never.


Sigh. OK, I finally did it, I updated my MySpace page to be something more than a placeholder. I had it there just so I could log in to comment or check on other peoples pages. But then I came across the WoW MySpace page linked off of WoW Insider, and it had skins (themes). So I figured, what the hey. I could have an orc on my page.

And there you go.


PC World Editor Resigns When Ordered Not to Criticize Advertisers

Wow, this came out of the blue. I'm a long-time subscriber of PCWorld; Slashdot on Thursday May 03 noted a story of our modern journalism world gone very wrong:
Editor-in-Chief Harry McCracken quit abruptly today because the company's new CEO, Colin Crawford, tried to kill a story about Apple and Steve Jobs.

The link discusses that the CEO was the former head of MacWorld and would get calls from Jobs. Apparently he also told the staff that product reviews had to be nicer to vendors who advertise in the magazine. The sad thing is that given the economics of publishing in this day and age, I doubt anything even comes of this even tho it essentially confirms that PC World reviews should be thought of as no more than press releases. I know that's how I will consider links from them in the future. But congratulations to anyone willing to stick to their guns on such matters.

12 Laws Every Blogger Needs to Know

Really excellent link from Slashdot on Thursday May 03:
An anonymous reader noted a nice piece discussing 12 laws bloggers need to know which includes explanations of matters including domain name trademarks, deep linking, fair use of thumbnails and so on. It's worth a read for most anyone who puts words on this here interweb.
It's definitely a good read for anyone who blogs, whether or not you make money off of it.

Snacky's Journal - Episode 2

Stone Falcon Productions are at it again! Snacky returns in another hilarious episode, as seen on WoW Insider:

Feel the buuuurrrnnnn... (Here's Episode 1 if you missed it.)


[Blog reposted from CommuterPageBlog, posted May 03, "Is a More Formalized Slugging in Our Future?"]

Our good friend Kristina over at the Make It Better blog forwarded a tip so interesting that we had to share. A company in New Zealand called Trip Convergence is marketing a service called HOVER (High Occupancy Vehicles in Express Routes) that provides a flexible way for people to carpool and thus increase the capacity of the road network and fight congestion. And according to their web site does this for a quarter the cost of new roads and half as much as new bus service, while being faster to implement. From their website:
"One of the biggest wasted resources in our cities is the thousands of empty seats that travel our transportation system every day. HOVER provides the transportation system a way of accessing those seats. A significant increase in ride sharing would bring about many benefits for most cities, including reducing congestion and its costs, relieving pressure on infrastructure, reducing consumption of fossil fuels, reducing emissions from those fuels, saving commuters money, time, resources, and building better communities."
Isn't this just what everyone wants? Sounds great, so how's it work?

If I'm understanding the concept correctly, it simply sounds like slugging (instant or casual ridesharing - perhaps they haven't heard of that term in New Zealand) from a series of "HOVERPorts" (think park and ride lots or garages) around the periphery of an urban area. They call it "Instant Facilitated Carpooling." The difference from traditional ridesharing or from the slugging we have now is that the instant rideshare is facilitated by a membership system that allows the sharing of ride credits between riders and drivers. Everything is tracked providing members with RFID tags. The HOVERPort sounds very high tech and very cool. As cars enter the facility they are directed to areas of the facility where people going to similar destinations gather. Drivers enter the center lane and wait while riders move to the side and park and then get in the cars in the center lane and take off.

Our area, largely because of the HOV system, has a great tradition of ridehsharing. In addition to Commuter Connection's traditional ridesharing service we have a long tradition of slugging too. More recently NuRide and GoLoco have entered the market to support more casual forms of ridesharing. Perhaps this HOVER system could help too. It's at least worth discussing. There's a great YouTube video on the HOVERPort web site that describes through an animation how this all works. Take a look and enjoy. I hope we'll be hearing more about this idea. We can use all the help we can get around here.

Chris Hamilton is the Commuter Services Chief for Arlington County, manager of CommuterPageBlog and a biking/Metro commuter from Rosemont in Alexandria.

Here's the video, in case you're too lazy to check the website itself:

Just as an aside, though I do find this concept fascinating, it's the implementation of such ideas where things go awry... I suppose with a hub in Frederick MD, Chantilly VA and maybe south of Baltimore that may cover the main avenues of commute... But I still see this as putting a lot of faith in people volunteering to drive every so often. However, there are (as mentioned above) several commuter car/van pools in the area that work well. Maybe such a formalized and centralized approach would work.


Nina Conti and Monkey (commedienne, ventriloquist)

This is one of the funniest routines I've seen in a long while. Enjoy.

Armory data: Popular and unpopular specs

A very interesting article over at WoW Insider, by Elizabeth Wachowski. Finally, someone has done something worthwhile with the Armory other than make fun of people's gear and complain about invasions of privacy. Zyph of Maelstrom wrote a program that pulled random names of level 70 characters off of Allakhazam and inputted them into the Armory, and then compared their specs. He ended up with the spec information of over six thousand players.
Zyph wanted to find out three things from his study. First off, he wanted to know what percentage of a class was specialized (31 points or more) in one tree. Then he wanted to see how many people who were specialized in a tree skipped the 31- and 41-point talents of that tree, and how many took them...
I'm not going to steal bandwidth from WoW insider by linking to the image-format table they posted, follow the link if you're interested. Here's the breakdown though of the data, to compare some of the most and least popular builds and talents in WoW:

Most Popular Builds:

1. Marksmanship Hunter
2. Holy Paladin
3. Feral Druid

Least Popular Builds:

1. Survival Hunter
2. Ret Pally
3. Discipline Priest

Most Evenly Balanced Trees:

1. Mages
2. Shamans
3. Warlocks

Most Popular 31-Point Talents:

1. Shadowform (Shadow Priest)
2. Trueshot Aura (Survival Hunter)
3. Mortal Strike (Arms Warrior)
4. Ice Barrier (Frost Mage)

Least Popular 31-Point Talents:

1. Lightwell (Holy Priest)
2. Wyvern Sting (Survival Hunter)
3. Power Infusion (Discipline Priest)
4. Dark Pact (Affliction Warlock)

Most Popular 41-Point Talents:

1. Earth Shield (Resto Shaman)
2. Mangle (Feral Druid)
3. Vampiric Touch (Shadow Priest)
4. Devastate (Prot Warrior)

Least Popular 41-Point Talents:

1. Circle of Healing (Holy Priest)
2. Pain Suppression (Discipline Priest)
3. Slow (Arcane Mage)
4. Readiness (Survival Hunter)
So what conclusions can we draw from this? I'm somewhat shocked that only one offspec/PVP spec is the most popular spec for its class -- feral druids. For most other classes, the most popular spec is the classic raid spec (except for mages, and their optimal raid spec really changes from dungeon to dungeon.) Particularly surprising is that there's more prot pallies than ret pallies at 70 -- from browsing the pally forums, you'd expect quite the opposite.
Actually from what I've read, most Pally who make it into the endgame only stick with Ret until they get up to the top level (70) - Ret allows for much faster grinding, if that's all you're doing. I started out Ret on my BE Pally, but since have seen the light and respecced to Ret/Prot for better tanking ability. Which I assume is more beneficial for those interested in end-game activities, either tanking or healing.
Talentwise, it looks like healing priests aren't just complaining on the forums about the worthlessness of their 31- and 41-point talents. Very few priests have even taken the 31- and 41- point Holy and Discipline talents. Part of that might be because 40-21 builds are more popular, and because the shadow tree in particular is very strong right now. Survival hunters are also lacking, both in overall popularity and in their high-level talents. And despite the problems shamans have been having lately, their 41-point talent is still the most popular of all who specialized in a build, and they're very evenly balanced between their three trees.
Pop over to WoW Insider to comment on the article.

Dell to Sell Machines with Ubuntu Pre-Loaded

W00t! Posted to Slashdot on Tuesday May 01:
Cnet is reporting that Dell will shortly announce a partnership with Canonical to offer Ubuntu pre-loaded on certain consumer-oriented desktops and notebooks. The announcement comes after a groundswell of support for pre-installed Linux on Dell's IdeaStorm site. 'The company is starting its business by trying to appeal to users of desktop computers. From there, Canonical Chief Executive Mark Shuttleworth has said, the company plans to head to the server market, where the real Linux bread and butter can be found. [Dell spokesman Kent] Cook wouldn't comment on whether Dell plans to offer Ubuntu on its servers as well.'.
I've mentioned before how Ubuntu is my new favorite distro - I run it at work on my only machine, and at home I have a primary workstation which dual-boots Ubuntu and XP, and a secondary workstation solely running Ubuntu, as well as our main file server running the same without a GUI. And as a server it performs just as admirably as it does on a desktop.

Microsoft Says Other OSes Should Imitate UAC

I find this incredibly amusing. From Slashdot on Tuesday May 01:
Many Vista adopters find User Account Control irritating, but Microsoft thinks it's an approach other OSes should emulate. Microsoft Australia's Chief Security Adviser Peter Watson calls UAC a great idea and 'strategically a direction that all operating systems and all technologies should be heading down.' He also believes Microsoft is charting new territory with UAC. 'The most controversial aspect of Watson's comments all center around the idea that Microsoft is a leader with UAC, and that other OSes should follow suit. UAC is a cousin of myriad "superuser" process elevation strategies, of which Mac OS X and all flavors of Linux already enjoy. The fact is that Microsoft is late to the party with their Microsoftized version of sudo. That's really what UAC is, after all: sudo with a fancy display mechanism (to make it hard to spoof) and extra monitoring to pick up on "suspicious" behavior.'
The latter part of the above quote is from the ArsTechnica article author, Ken Fisher, and completely nails it on the head. Good read if you have a minute, and understand a little about how privileged user access works in the *nix world. Ubuntu, as comparison, comes with sudo access already enabled, and no root password - actually defaults to no root login. You do everything from your own account, and when you try to access something that may actually AFFECT THE SYSTEM (i.e. not just changing the freaking font) then it prompts for a password. Oh, and if you've entered a password for sudo access recently it won't prompt again. The root user can be enabled by providing it with a password if you so desire.

And funny how this capability has existed within Linux and even Unix for far longer than Windows Vista has, or even Windows NT... yet this is "charting new territory..."


Pic of the Week 20070501

Ugh. I hate spring. I hate allergies. I despise feeling like my head's about to pop like an overfilled water balloon... And I truly, truly loathe beyond any imagining, yard work.

And so as to not leave you on such a down note, here's a little intellectual humor for ya.

And stay indoors. It's dangerous out there.