Why is my ‘net Speed in the Crapper?

So I recently called my ISP to complain about some service issues and billing disagreements. Since then, my internet speed has been noticeably worse. I used to get 70-80 Mbps throughput on my line, which I believe is supposed to be rated at 100 Mbps. My latency is typically in the 20-80 ms range. I can’t complain about those numbers. However, since my speed and latency has been so clearly worse than normal, I did another speed test tonight – the first I’ve done in months. Here’s what I get:

With later testing, the speed improved to single-digit Mbps, but latency still turns up in the mid-hundreds of milliseconds across repeated tests. And no, there are no downloads going on right now to slow things. I checked.

Kelly Tilghman and that lynching thing

So recently, The Golf Channel’s golf kelly_tilghman-clip.jpgcommentator and hottie (2nd designation mine, not TGC’s) Kelly Tilghman made a comment with a most unfortunate choice of words regarding Tiger Woods, his golf skills, and advice to lesser golfers attempting to match him.

Tilghman made a shocking comment during Friday’s telecast of the PGA Tour’s opening event. She said — on the air — that today’s young players should “lynch Tiger Woods in a back alley.”

And, of course, the whole damn world is in an uproar over this now. tiger-woods-_clip.jpg Except, ummm, it took 2 days before anyone started to make a big deal about it. And Ms. Tilghman has already apologized to Tiger Woods. And the apology has been accepted and Mr. Woods appears fine with moving on to the more important issue of actually golfing.

Woods, who through his agent issued a statement saying he was friends with Tilghman and respected her, said, “We know unequivocally that there was no ill intent in her comments.”

Ms. Tilghman was even suspended for two weeks for the comment. But that’s not good enough for some. No, no – we can’t have that comment go by media-whore and self-proclaimed protector of all that is black and/or racist, Rev. Al Sharpton, can we?

race-card-08_clip.jpgBefore her suspension was announced, Sharpton spoke earlier on CNN’s “Prime News” and continued to push for her firing, saying he wanted to meet with Golf Channel because the comments were “an insult to all blacks.”

“Lynching is not murder in general, it’s not assault in general,” Sharpton said. “It’s a specific racial term that this woman should be held accountable for. What she said is racist. Whether she’s a racist … is immaterial. She’s a broadcaster. The channel has to be accountable to the public.”

Never one to let overblown reactions go by when I have time to comment, I thought I’d look in to this. So looking around, I found that, sure enough (and of no surprise), lynching has a history as a racial term.

Lynching is the illegal execution of an accused person by a mob. The term lynching probably derived from the name Charles Lynch (1736-96), a justice of the peace who administered rough justice in Virginia. Lynching was originally a system of punishment used by whites against African American slaves.

But there was a little lee-way to the practice, it turns out. Continuing the above:

However, whites who protested against this were also in danger of being lynched. On 7th November, 1837, Elijah Parish Lovejoy, the editor of the Alton Observer, was killed by a white mob after he had published articles criticizing lynching and advocating the abolition of slavery.

So, um, don’t be supporting the abolitionists, I guess. But the reason Rev. Sharpton’s involvement bothers me (beyond the fact that he causes controversy even though there usually isn’t any need to because that’s the only way he can convince himself he’s still relevant, as far as I can tell) is that there is another very valid, very well known, and very well understood meaning of the term “lynch” out there. Turns out lynching was used in the wild west as a means of enforcing “justice” on robbers.

The Seymour Vigilance Committee visited the New Albany Jail this morning about three o’clock and hung the Reno brothers and Charles Anderson, inside the Jail, and left town before any alarm was given.

. . .

Between three and four o’clock this morning from sixty to seventy Seymour regulators masked and heavily armed, arrived here via the Jeffersonville Railroad. Immediately upon their arrival, they proceeded by a direct route to the county Jail, placing guards at every street and alley to guard against surprise. On arriving at the jail one of the guards stationed outside took fright and attempted to raise an alarm, but was quickly taken in charge and placed under guard.

. . . They then took Frank Reno, Simon Reno, Bill Reno and Charles Anderson, the express robbers, out and hanged them to the iron railing or post supporting the walls around the cells. The victims were placed on chairs, the rope adjusted and the chairs kicked from under them; Frank and Simon hanging to one post, Simon in front and Frank behind him, the other brother hanging at a corner post, and Anderson backward in the rear of the jail.

See, that’s what I thought of when I heard the comment – lynching and the wild west. I totally get why someone might think something other than what I did, but don’t get why those same people can’t see that some of us don’t make the same association as they do.

Ms. Tilghman apologized. She has no history of racial commentary. Mr. Woods accepted the apology. Life goes on. I don’t see anywhere that the likes of Rev. Sharpton have any reason to inject themselves into this situation, except to make sure the media doesn’t forget him and his otherwise irrelevant existence.

[tags]Kelly Tilghman, Tiger Woods, Golf, Lynching, Irrelevance[/tags]

Hannah Montana fans whine over, well, nothing

Boo-hoo. Cry me a river. Some Hannah Montana fans are apparently upset that for approximately 120 seconds during the Hannah Montana tour appearance, Miley Cyrus is off-stage and a body double plays the part so Ms. Cyrus can change from character Hannah Montana into real-sefl Miley Cyrus.

“Then they covered her with a black sheet and she went through a secret door. Within a second, a new ‘Hannah’ came out of a different door wearing oversized white glasses. The whole time this was happening Miley’s vocals were still playing. The new imposter had her back turned while she danced, trying to hide that fact that she was not Miley Cyrus. At this instant I became very suspicious.” (See video of the switcheroo.)

“Needless to say I was furious!” the irate fan added. “I paid good money to see the concert. I was disappointed and I felt like I was played for a fool.”

No comment shows in the story about what fools such fans are for paying as much as $2565 per ticket for the concert. Perhaps those fans should see their scalpers about a refund for the 1% of the concert that was “disappointing” due to a human-being needing to change clothes/costume.

Clearly the people complaining have no idea what real concert rip-offs are.  Anyone remember the pure lip-sync concerts of the 70s and 80s?  Milli-Vanilli?  Probably still going on, but I haven’t been to a concert in almost 20 years (yes, I’m that old, folks), so I don’t know what they are like now.  I was initially going to say I can’t believe anyone could get upset over something like this, but then I remembered that fans and needs of reality don’t have anything in common in general.

[tags]Fools, Idiots, Imbeciles, Miley Cyrus, Hannah Montanna, Lip sync, Concert,  Stupid[/tags]

Will Smith and Hitler

If you web surf as much as I do, you’ve probably already seen this – various web sites are saying that Will Smith said Hitler was a good man. And naturally, many people are upset that anyone would claim Hitler was a good man. I guess people are really s000per upset that (*gasp*) a shhhh black man would say this about Hitler.

Here, I’ll help clue you in now that you’ve had a moment to feign indignation: Will Smith didn’t say Hitler was a good man. Let’s look inside and see

Remarkably, Will believes everyone is basically good.

“Even Hitler didn’t wake up going, ‘let me do the most evil thing I can do today’,” said Will. “I think he woke up in the morning and using a twisted, backwards logic, he set out to do what he thought was ‘good’. Stuff like that just needs reprogramming.

Oh shit!  Will Smith just said Hitler used fucked-up logic to convince himself what he was doing was “good” in some way!  Expect the world to get in an uproar about something Smith didn’t actually say!!!

So next time, please try to get people to actually read what was said.  Sensationalism doesn’t do anything except cause stupidity (yes, even the times I use sensationalistic headlines, it’s really just a seed for stupidity).  Thus endeth our lesson in reading comprehension.

Congress-critters sucking on the wangs of the recording industry execs again

In a move that is claimed to be for performers’ benefits, our Congress-critters have brought to the floors of each of the houses of Congress bills aimed at requiring radio stations to pay music performers who appear live on the stations. Rather than looking at live time on the air as a benefit for the performers, these new bills present such time as a performance for which the artists should be paid. While I agree that this is a performance of sorts, what has happened in the past was artists could get free advertising and promotion by appearing on the air of radio broadcasts. If this bill goes through, radio stations will be penalized for giving artists a chance to get free air time.

Yesterday, Rep. Berman and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D. – Vt.) offered to the floors of their respective houses legislation that would effectively codify the rectification of what Berman has literally characterized as evil: a very slight addition to US law that would enable the Copyright Royalties Board to determine royalties to be paid to a performers’ rights organization, by stations earning more than $1.25 million in annual gross revenue per year.

Stations earning less than that amount would pay a $5,000 annual fee. Public radio stations would pay $1,000 per year, apparently even if they don’t have a contemporary music format. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R – Utah) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R – Calif.) are co-sponsors.

Ahhhh, Orrin Hatch. Here is a critter who apparently never saw a right that couldn’t be wronged with proper legislation. And the clear indication that this bill isn’t truly for the benefit of artists and performers but rather an attempt to shore up the ever-more flaccid recording industry is the note that even stations not playing contemporary music formats will have to pay this. If you are on the air and earn above the cut-off floor of $1.25 million annually, you pay a set fee. Never have a live artist in the station to perform on the air? Pay $5,000 please. Have someone new every morning? Pay $5,000 please.

So, as has happened so many times in the past, some music industry lobbyists walked in House and Senate offices, pulled out their shrinking schlongs, and offered some critters money to suck them off. Happy for funds, the critters did so, and fully satiated they now are working on laws to make sure money keeps flowing to industry execs who will keep paying critters to suck them.

I’m not the only one to see this as a full-on negative move for radio, by the way. A spokesperson for the Free Radio Alliance noted:

“This bill, which was so long in the making, is drafted around exemptions and discounts, and the result is bad public policy,” Rought wrote. “Any fee — regardless of whether it’s discounted, tiered or reduced — will only serve as a foot in the door for the record labels to establish precedent for higher fees down the road. With copyright fees, history is pretty clear: Rates will only continue to go up. If passed, this could threaten the survival of local radio stations, would reduce the quality of their programming and would almost certainly reduce diversity in radio. This flies directly in the face of the goals that Congress and the FCC have set for our airwaves.”

Much like states implementing sales tax, low initial rates are in to make this look palatable and not so dangerous. Once the rates are in and people get used to them, expect them to get jacked up. These bills are set to punish radio stations for providing artists an on-air venue, and are put out at a low enough introduction level to not cause to many complaints. We will have fewer on-air opportunities for artists if these become law, and the prices will go up significantly once the recording industry execs and Congress-critters get the ball rolling.

On the floor of the House yesterday, Rep. Berman responded to that criticism by remarking the legislation would only apply to terrestrial radio. “The bill repeals the current broadcaster exemption,” he said, “but it does not apply to bars, restaurants and other venues, or expand copyright protection in any other way.”

What a load of crap. It’s got to start somewhere, and making big companies like Clear Channel pay first is just a way to get things going. Expect more and more music outlets to get bent over and dry-raped if this goes through.

The Golden Compass viewer reviews

I’ve recently spent some time reading user reviews of the movie The Golden Compass on Yahoo.  I just want to point out to all the people there complaining about the movie that a) you are an idiot if you rate a movie you haven’t even seen just because it has a different message than you feel comfortable hearing/sharing, b) America was most emphatically NOT founded as a Christian nation, and therefore this movie is not anti-America, and c) you should rate the fucking movie, not spew your own god damn beliefs and how they differ from the hidden/obvious/subtle/subliminal/obnoxious message in the movie.

I haven’t seen the movie nor read the book, so I can’t review it.  I do plan on seeing the movie, and if I do I will share thoughts if anyone is interested.  I happen to believe in a God with a sense of humor, open mind, and interest in people making decisions on their own.  Therefore, I’m pretty sure he/she would approve of me watching the movie and deciding on my own whether or not it is a good movie.

[tags]The Golden Compass, Fucking idiots, Learn history[/tags]

Airport security still sucks and the rules continue to be idiotic

Recently, my wife went on a trip and chose the old standard air-travel for getting where she was going. On the way to her destination, she had to throw away her yogurt she had brought to eat while waiting for the plane. On her way home, she had to throw away her 8-ounce toothpaste that she didn’t realize she’d left in her carry-on bag. Now I understand that she screwed up in both cases because it’s well known by now to any traveler that these things cannot be taken through security.

However, the rules are still idiotic and worthless, and we can do so much better with security by spending money on things that actually help – things like, oh, I don’t know, training screeners better so they don’t miss nearly 100% of all explosives taken through security by people trying to get prohibited items through security.

Government investigators smuggled liquid explosives and detonators past airport security, exposing a dangerous hole in the nation’s ability to keep these forbidden items off of airplanes, according to a report made public Wednesday.

. . .

On March 23, a TSA screener would not let one investigator through a checkpoint with a small, unlabeled bottle of shampoo, even though it was a legitimate carry-on item. But the same investigator was able to bring through a liquid component of bomb that would start a fire.

Thank goodness that investigator wouldn’t be able to terrorize the plane with clean hair and bubbles. That’s a much greater concern than liquid fire. The TSA hand-waves away the problem by emphasizing the multi-layer approach to security in airports and air travel.

“While people think about us in terms of the checkpoints and they see us as the checkpoints, there’s a lot more layers of security,” she [spokeswoman Ellen Howe] said. In addition to the checkpoints, the TSA uses different technologies and has officials who check the validity of documents and observe people’s behaviors throughout the airport. “Just because somebody gets through one layer doesn’t mean they’re going to get through all of the layers.”

And that’s actually damn good to know and comforting. But our money needs pumped into the less visible security measures. Currently, to get through with contraband a determined attacker needs training on not sticking out more than anything else. That alone will make passing through screening nearly guaranteed, yet so much money is going into screening efforts that have repeatedly been proven ineffective (I’ve covered some, but by no means all, such issues in the past, and won’t link them again here).

Here, I’ll throw in a freebie for would-be attackers. If you want to carry in prohibited liquids, buy yourself a beer belly flask to transport your explosives or drinks. As it is right now, screeners are miserable at catching illicit items which someone is trying to take on, but nearly perfect in catching harmless things like the drinks people are consuming as they walk through the screening checkpoints (hint: if they are actively drinking it, it is either harmless to the flight or they already have ingested what they need to use to bring the flight down).

From the screeners link just above, here is what Bruce Schneier has to say.

When I travel in Europe, I never have to take my laptop out of its case or my shoes off my feet. Those governments have had far more experience with terrorism than the U.S. government, and they know when passenger screening has reached the point of diminishing returns. (They also implemented checked-baggage security measures decades before the United States did — again recognizing the real threat.)

And if I were investing in security, I would invest in intelligence and investigation. The best time to combat terrorism is before the terrorist tries to get on an airplane. The best countermeasures have value regardless of the nature of the terrorist plot or the particular terrorist target.

In some ways, if we’re relying on airport screeners to prevent terrorism, it’s already too late. After all, we can’t keep weapons out of prisons. How can we ever hope to keep them out of airports?

Far more insightful and accurate than all the words I’ve thrown out arguing against the money-drain our government has in place now.

EDIT: Accidentally left out part of the Schneier quote.

[tags]Airport stupidity, Air travel, Getting explosives on planes[/tags]

Please *DO NOT* buy BioShock

I started downloading the BioShock demo Monday night and went to bed while the download completed. I loaded the demo Tuesday morning, played for about 5 minutes, and bought the game – the demo is awesome enough to convince me the whole game will be great, and I love Irrational’s work that I’ve played in the past. I did not have a chance to install it before leaving for work Tuesday afternoon, nor Wednesday during the day. However, I did find this interesting Digg about the shitty copy protection on the game and regretted immediately that I have already opened the game and cannot, therefore, return it. Quite the dry-hump, really, because the game is great. But I disapprove highly of companies trying to fuck me or my computer.

Last year, I bought Galactic Civilizations specifically because the developer made a point to not put copy protection on the game. It is the kind of game I would play if I had more gaming time in my life, but I’ve yet to open the game or install it. I purchased it just to show support for developers and distributors who trust customers. BioShock, on the other hand, comes from either a developer or a publisher (I suspect the latter, but cannot rule out the former) who apparently assumes customers are only interested in giving away as many copies as possible. The sad thing is, gamers who buy the game are now screwed by potentially harmful copy protection, while the pirates still get it for free and without copy protection messing up their computers. Basically – screw legitimate customers and fans without slowing down folks that weren’t going to pay anyway.

From someone claiming some relationship to 2K Games:

really, the only people who will be concerned about any of these security measures are those who are rapidly putting bioshock on many pcs… if you use the game as you normally do, you won’t notice this at all.

Well, them and those of us who don’t like companies installing things on our systems without our knowledge. But then, we’re just weird like that. I get pissed when a program puts itself off my Programs section of the start menu instead of letting me set the submenu I want to use. I sure as hell am not OK with a program that installs drivers without giving me the option to instead choose to not install. This is the same crap Sony pulled recently which pissed off so many. And to write it off as not a big deal and not a concern except for those attempting to illegally use the disc is stupid, naïve, and ignorant of geek and gamer culture.  I have looked all over the outside of the box, and there is no mention of this violation of my computer, so I can’t decide to *NOT* buy the game based on this knowledge after looking at the box. I’ve read the manual and found no mention of this, so I can’t choose to *NOT* install the game and avoid this. Ultimately, we choose to install one program, and another gets installed without our knowledge and without warning to us that it will happen.

I will be downloading the hacked version off a torrent site to install the game and play. Once I’m finished and ready to remove the program, I’ll be selling my copy on Ebay. You can be sure I’ll mention the apparent effort to restrict personal use of the program when I list it.

Make no mistake – this is a great developer with a great game. The copy protection pisses me off, though, and it’s bad enough for me to recommend that others not buy the game.

[tags]Do not buy BioShock, 2K Games hates legal customers, 2K Games encouraging piracy, BioShock, Securom, Securom sucks, Torrent sites[/tags]

BellSouth hates Firefox

I’m not sure why, exactly, after years of amazing growth, the Firefox community still faces crap like this:


I’m trying something simple – I want to see if I can get a DSL connection for my mother’s house. She doesn’t need a cable-connection and it’s associated $40/month, so I was looking for a simple $20 connection I could get hooked up for her. Shoot – I was even going to tie the account to my credit card, if the company would let me. Instead, I find that BellSouth hates Firefox.

[tags]BellSouth hates Firefox, Internet Explorer still sucks, BellSouth, DSL[/tags]

Google reader gripe

I’ve been using Bloglines as my RSS reader for a long time now.  While searching for something totally unrelated on the big, wild, intarw3b, I found this LifeHacker article singing the praises of Google Reader.  Intrigued, I decided to take a look.  First, let me point out that the LifeHacker article, so full of praise for Google Reader, doesn’t even include a friggin’ link to Google’s reader offering.  So after studying the proselytizing for Google Reader, I can’t even go straight to the tool and check it out.  I have to spend extra effort to find and hit Google Reader myself.  Yes, it’s a triviality in the grand scheme, but if you are trying to sell folks on a new idea, you have to make it as easy as possible.

Kinda like Woot.com‘s Stupidly Big Button (sign up at Woot and buy something sometime to see – it’s a stupidly big button to complete the purchase process), you want to make getting your final point across as clearly as possible.  This Keep it Simple, Stupid philosophy is why I *TRY* to make the first link in every article I post or the last link before a blockquote the link of relevance/intent for my stories.  When I want you to check something out, I try to make it easy by putting it the first link you see in the article or the link immediately before the quote I’m pulling from the article.  I’m not successful every time (this article being a prime example of failing to simplify what link is the most relevant for the story – the LifeHacker link and the Google Reader link are to main two I will focus on here).

That said, let me now lay in to my interface gripe about Google Reader, which ultimately is what I wanted to write about.  After finding and visiting Google Reader, I see a nice, Googlishly simple front page (resized here).


Hey, it’s simple.  That’s the Google style.  Since I want to try this out right away, I hit that stupidly big button labeled “Get started by adding subscriptions.”  Now, we get this screen for adding a subscription.


What’s missing here?  The stupidly big box labeled “Feed URL”  Here’s what Bloglines gives you when you say “Add Feeds”


But Google, in a bafflingly non-Google manner, has chosen to not give you a simple screen like this for entering the address.  In an apparent attempt to dumb down the interface, Google has made it harder for a knowledgeable user to user the tool.  No, to get my feed in there when I already know what feed I want, I’m forced to click another button labeled, bizarrely, “Add Subscription.” But, um, isn’t that already what I’m trying to do?  Didn’t I already hit a button to add subscriptions?  Why should I have to tell the reader again that I really want to add a subscription?  This is, for lack of a better term, Microsoftian interface design.  So, if I click the not-stupidly-obvious Add subscriptions link, do I get the current page refreshed? Do I go to another screen where I can put my feed address?  No, I get a little AJAX pop-open box.


Now I can finally add my feed and get the news I want.  But why do I have to click add subscriptions from the add subscriptions page? Shouldn’t there be a stupidly big box the first time I say add subscriptions?  Has Google decided to forget smart interface design after years of leading the industry with easy access interfaces?

I’ve been on a big interface annoyance fling after reading a lot of Joel’s commentary on software lately.  I highly recommend the two books of his I have read, if you want to learn a little about good software and interface design.

I may end up trying out Google’s RSS reader offerings some time, but for now, I’ll stick with the stupidly easy interface that I find at Bloglines.  I’ll let all you really smart folks use Google Reader.  Maybe in the future, I’ll be smart enough to catch up.  Also in the future, look for a brief annoyance based post about Windows Live Writer, since that is the tool I now use for writing to the Blahg.  And maybe the Amazon affiliates program link builder, since it’s annoying to try to get Amazon links, in my not so humble opinion.  In fact, I enjoy criticizing the works of others enough, I may just do it for other programs and web sites I deal with.

[tags]RSS, Google Reader, Bloglines, Google, Interface criticism, Interface annoyances[/tags]

Anyone care to remind me how much a single bullet costs?

Man, people like this really peeve me. Enough for me to feel we need harsher punishments for people who intentionally cause harm to children – thus the price of one bullet question above.

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – A Florida woman accused of using aliases to adopt 11 New York children received as much as $2 million in child welfare payments even as she starved, bound and abused them, police said Tuesday.

. . .

Authorities believe Leekin held the adopted children like prisoners in her Port St. Lucie home, often handcuffing them together and forcing them to soil themselves because they weren’t allowed to use the bathroom.

. . .

Leekin’s lawyer said his client denies the allegations.

Every time I read crap like this, I think how much we need another update to the comic character Vigilante (and his updated version known as Vigilante). Read the full article to get a better idea of just how bad this was. I’ve left out some of the more disturbing details. Sounds like the kind of thing that would make one of the children who have since moved out turn all Samuel L Jackson on the worthless ass of this woman some day.

[tags]Woman abuses children and welfare payment system, People who need to not waste oxygen, Where is a vigilante when you need one[/tags]