August 26, 2007

Stardust (4/5)

I wasn't really sure what to expect, and so I was very pleasantly surprised with this [ IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes ]. Village boy born of unusual circumstances pines after local hottie/bitch. Goes on quest for a fallen star to charm said hottie and ends up finding Claire Danes--sassier than your average fallen star or your average Claire Danes role for that matter. Nefarious forces are also converging on her, and so Our Hero must grow into his role as protector. There was a perfect mix of fantasy, action, humor, and romance. Afterwards, I wanted to compare it to the fun fantasy of Terry Gilliam, but now realize it is really a direct descendent of The Princess Bride [ IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes ] twenty years later, even though I was not as enchanted by The Princess Bride as the rest of the world was. Nice ensemble appearances by Ricky Gervais (much better than the comercial clips suggest) and Robert De Niro. The 2+ hour running time flew by.

posted by sstrader at 7:44 PM in Cinema | permalink | comments (0)

Today's reading list

posted by sstrader at 7:15 PM in Today's reading list | permalink | comments (0)

August 24, 2007

My brother's rootkit woes

My brother's wife's laptop had started redirecting IE to http://hp-desktop.aol.com/. Changing the Home Page to anything else failed in all attempts and failed insidiously when he manually changed through the registry: within a second, the old value was returned. I was at first puzzled as to why a rootkit would redirect to an apparently innocuous site but realized that redirecting to a spammy site would be too obvious.

Jeff Atwood over at Coding Horror had recently detailed his unfunny exploits with cleaning up a spyware infestation and his assessment of the state of Windows security re rootkits. Both, along with their discussion threads, are valuable reading. His three dictums on security:

  1. Stop Running As Administrator
  2. Traditional Anti-Virus Doesn't Work Any More
  3. The Mainstreaming of Virtual Machine Sandboxes

WRT rootkits, the standard recommendation is always RootkitRevealer from Sysinternals. It's a raw interface that merely points to possible problems and offers no recommendations, but it comes from a reputable source. Google should be enough to find follow-up info anyway. An Information Week article recommended the freeware tool RootKit-Unhooker. Despite its oddly inconsistent CamelCase, it looks like a good tool.

On the infected laptop, RootkitRevealer revealed one item of suspicion: HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Window\CurrentVersion\MSSYCLM\Start. A search on "MSSYCLM" brought up the thread "Topic: ACEWSUWMB.EXE" at Sysinternals. It could be a false positive, but it could also be owned by the Winhound adware/malware.

He's still deciding whether to try to remove, re-image, or (god forbid) ignore.

posted by sstrader at 12:16 PM in Science & Technology | permalink | comments (0)

August 23, 2007

Most sardonic headline of the day

Who Is John Galt? Nobody Very Qualified - Company Working On Building Where Firefighters Died Was Nearly As Fictional As Its Namesake

posted by sstrader at 11:10 AM in Culture & Society | permalink | comments (0)

Bacos (definition)

The cool kids have decided we need a new word (bacn) that's so web 2.0 you're sure to hate it in a week. I, however, will begin hating it now by mocking the impulse that it takes to fabricate such a useless word and, non-ironically, invent my own word: bacos (n.) an idea that sounds good at first but once examined is revealed as contrived and unnecessary.

posted by sstrader at 9:20 AM in Culture & Society , Language & Literature | permalink | comments (0)

August 22, 2007

Where was I?

Long week.

Last Wednesday, I got the itch to go to my newfavoritesushiplace Fune. We fell in love with their salted squid appetizer the first time we went, but every time since it has gone downhill. Still, there is much good to enjoy. Drinks at The Vortex after where we saw our long-lost bartender Artie.

Thursday was the downtown dinner week evening with friends at Pacific Kitchen. Outstanding food; we'll definitely be going again for the full menu. And to top it off, we walked to a new(ish?) bar just down the street called The Albert. Tin ceiling, gothic arch liquor shelves behind the bar, and a friendly bartender.

Friday was a vacation day for me. Call it an atheist holiday: Friday is our sabbath. I got caught up on things I needed to get caught up on, and then we went to Enoteca with Codermonkey and his wife before they went to see Kathy Griffin (a surprise that I pretty much spoiled with my big mouth). We got the lowdown on their honeymoon in Europe: Paris was spent on jet lag and bad weather, London was much better with musicals and late-night chicanery. Lisa & I are now talking about doing a London weekend and catch Wicked or maybe even Lord of the Rings (I didn't even know they made it into a musical!). Lisa & I continued on to Avra for drinks and gabbin' with the bartender and ourfavoritewaitress, then more drinks at The Vortex while we played the pornographic video games. Rearrange puzzle-pieces to reveal naked ladies from the 70s! Awesome!!

Saturday we went to see Paris, je t'aime (3/5) [ IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes ]. A quirky, varied, and satisfying collection of 18 short stories about love in Paree. For all of the variety contained, it held together. A hot walk up Highland for pre-dinner wine at Murphy's then tapas afterwards at Noche. I ended up snagging two bottles of Syrah at Murphy's wine shop: a Rosenblum and an Australian Molly Dooker. The walk back to the car off of Ponce was much cooler after dinner. Ended at McCray's.

Sunday was low-key with drinks at The Grape before watching the 7:50 show of Superbad (4/5) [ IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes ] at Atlantic Station. We had intended to see the 6:30 show, but everybody in Atlanta was in line to see a movie that night. I don't need to add to the praise, but Seth's "drawing affliction" was ridiculously funny. Home after and The Asphalt Jungle (4/5) [ IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes ] from my film noir collection.

I need a break...

posted by sstrader at 1:54 PM in Cinema , Where was I? | permalink | comments (0)

August 18, 2007

Crazy is

Ron Paul on "Wait, Wait ... Don't Tell Me!" gets the first two answers about quirky (to say the least) politicians because--and I am not making this up--he believes the conspiracy theory of the first and personally knows the second. Uncomfortable jokes follow. More RP craziness as Daily Kos...

posted by sstrader at 12:40 PM in Politics | permalink | comments (0)

August 15, 2007

The other side

Reading "The age of endarkenment" from Guardian Unlimited, my main preoccupation was with how I felt that other countries also have to deal with irresponsible and flagrant ignorance from their citizens and politicians. I know I know: people are the same everywhere, but my focus still makes me feel that the degree to which America can cultivate ignorance is out of proportion compared to the wealth of knowledge that is freely available in this country. I would like to say "ah, we suffer the same as others," but instead I lose heart for the fact that there is no model to measure against to say "see, a society can act with informed wisdom instead of irrational conviction."

posted by sstrader at 6:10 PM in Culture & Society | permalink | comments (0)

August 14, 2007

Anonymous

As Wikiscanner gets outed to the citizens-at-large and Wikipedia spin jobs (like Fox editing Al Franken's article to their benefit) start embarrassing those in power, expect to hear demands for anonymous surfing move from the pages of Slashdot to the pundits at CNN.

posted by sstrader at 11:58 AM in Culture & Society | permalink | comments (0)

August 13, 2007

Test

(please ignore, this is to correct a screwed-up account ... Technorati Profile)

posted by sstrader at 9:27 PM in Personal | permalink | comments (0)

Sunday movies

Lisa bought Carnival of Souls (3/5) at a truck stop on her way to Asheville a week or so ago. Woman survives a car crash in a river and subsequently feels detached from society. Interspersed are visions she has of creepy zombie-type characters spying on her. For all of the bad dialog and bad acting, this had a nice moody feel to it. I particularly liked the scene in the department store where the camera goes blurry for a second and then Mary looks around to try to understand what happened. There was more unease than horror.

Candace Hilligoss

Finally watched Eraserhead (3/5). "Finally" meaning for as long as I've liked David Lynch I should have seen it years ago, and for as long as the DVD from Netflix was gathering dust I should have seen it weeks ago. If I had never heard of the movie, I could've thought that it was a recent work of his. Same characters, same static shots, same non-humorous humor. The ending was perfect. Both it and Carnival were oddly similar in their images and mood (although the Lynch was, obviously, done with greater technical skill).

Jack Nance
posted by sstrader at 4:35 PM in Cinema | permalink | comments (0)

August 12, 2007

Where was I?

Drinks and pizza over at Alicia and Dan's on Friday. Low-key in preparation for Cathy's b-day dinner at Shaun's on Saturday. Items of note: We accidentally yelled "surprise!" to a Cathy look-alike who, after the initial shock wore off, handled it well. Cathy arrived later in all black while her look-alike was in all white. Odd. Our end of the long-table-of-16-people lamented the horribleness of the movie Battlefield Earth. Lisa & I caught the last half earlier in the day and so the scars were still fresh. Alicia's had long healed over. Fun fact: one of BE's record-setting eight Razzies is Worst Screen Couple for Travolta and "anyone sharing the screen with him." For dinner I was the winner with the beef tartar appetizer and grilled trout with corn risotto entre. Both excellent. Post-dinner was drinks and dancing by everyonebutme at The Warren. Possibly going to see Stardust tonight and get 1/2-priced bottles of wine after at Avra.

posted by sstrader at 6:32 PM in Where was I? | permalink | comments (0)

August 11, 2007

Explanation?

Uh, what's going on? Yesyesyes, everyone is talking about those idiot Democrats in Congress, but no one's given an explanation beyond ... that they're idiots. I mean, this legalized wiretapping shit could've been made up by Jon Stewart. It's just unbelievable that the people we put in to check the evils of the Republican party end up being worse.

posted by sstrader at 1:22 PM in Politics | permalink | comments (0)

August 10, 2007

It never pays to avoid conflict, a short play

Coworker (in front of me and 2nd coworker): My daughter saw several Muslims the other day and got concerned. I told her she was probably safe. I don't know, what do you guys think?

Me (with comedically incredulous look): That's enough for me. I'm going to get some coffee. (leaves)

... I return, only me and 2nd coworker ...

2nd coworker: You're so politically correct.

(End scene. Strike the set. Call for a rewrite...)

posted by sstrader at 8:09 PM in Personal | permalink | comments (0)

Genius idea

Encrypted sound. Add a module to your cell phone that encrypts the audio as it leaves the earpiece. Pair this with a hearing aid that decrypts the audio so that anyone able to listen in would only hear gibberish. This would also work across the wire but would require some asymmetric stuff.

Phones really need to be open source.

posted by sstrader at 8:00 PM in Science & Technology | permalink | comments (0)

August 8, 2007

Relative standard

An odd idea that gets resurgence every election is the Great Return to the Gold Standard. Earlier today, I was reading about the bank shenanigans that were recently occurring in Second Life. The bank Ginko Financial was attempting to--IIUC--purchase the AVIX stock exchange using IPO funds from AVIX. I always think that financial systems are like the Ouroboros anyway, so this just seemed horrible and appropriate to me even though the deal was quickly squelched. /. picked up a related story about a bank run on the same bank after it had been robbed by a former employee. To this, gold standard proponents naturally came out of the woodwork. There were many interesting financial threads, but one poster provided two good links on (1) an argument against gold by Paul Krugman and (2) Creating Money by someone I'm unfamiliar with. Both good reads.

posted by sstrader at 5:29 PM in Culture & Society | permalink | comments (0)

August 5, 2007

Vasks - "Plainscapes"

Just listened to Latvian composer Pēteris Vasks' chamber work "Plainscapes" on St. Paul Sunday performed by the Seattle Chamber Players and the Seattle Pro Musica choral ensemble. Phenomenal and drifting piece with the choir vocalising over ametrical accompaniment in the strings. Beautiful climax and resolution. Alas, nowhere is there a recording.

posted by sstrader at 12:12 PM in Music | permalink | comments (0)

August 4, 2007

Today's reading list

  • Wikipedia trust coloring demo [ via Boing Boing ]
  • Wizkids at the UCSC Wiki lab created an algorithm that determines a Wikipedia author's reputation by examining how long their contributions last. With these reputation values, they then created a tool to highlight article text with shades of orange. White is trusted, orange is untrusted, and everything in between are varying levels of trust. This is quite an achievement, and I hope that it makes it into the Wikimedia code soon.

  • Amazon Fresh revivifies WebVan in Seattle [ via TechCrunch > WebbAlert > Boing Boing ]
  • We still have our WebVan refrigerator magnet and pine for those Halcyon days of sitting in front of the computer to shop and having our groceries wating for us in the lobby refrigerators. Yay!

  • That Whole Puppy-Burning Thing
  • A one-page story from 1997 by Jim Knipfel. One of many stories hosted on his site Slackjaw including a prominently notable blurb from Thomas Pynchon. I haven't read anything else yet, but TWP-BT had a nice sardonic and parable feeling to it.

  • 30 Day Challenge
  • Make your first $10 in 30 days. Entry fee is simply your email address. A co-worker snagged this from Digg and is signed up. All of the web references I can find are from (1) home business news sites that dutifully praise the event, (2) home businesses/blogs that are signed up for it, and (3) Digg. Not sure if I'm going to take the time...

posted by sstrader at 10:07 AM in Today's reading list | permalink | comments (0)

August 3, 2007

Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (0/5)

We saw this in the theater and recently re-watched it on TV (noting the painful swear/pussy dubs). I would have maybe given it a 1/5 when I first saw it. Now, with time to reflect and watch it anew, I can say with confidence that it holds no value whatsoever. Even for fanboys of Kevin Smith. It is--unfortunately--painfully valueless. I don't say it often, but please avoid.

posted by sstrader at 10:44 PM in Cinema | permalink | comments (0)

Music diversion

Just listened to Ernst Krenek's first Piano Sonata on Classic FM out of Australia. The piece had that wonderful late Romantic harmony that reallyreallywants to be atonal (think Verklaerte Nacht). The performer, virtuoso pianist Geoffrey Douglas Madge (an Australian of course), worked directly with the composer when recording his sonatas. During rehersals, Krenek would even sit in front of Madge and conduct his performance in order to better communicate his intentions.

Further searching (what are Fridays for?) revealed that Madge is one of the handful of people who performed and recorded the entire Opus Clavicembalisticum (alas, most of Sorabji's works are still under copyright). Few words are appropriate for such an accomplishment beyond holy fucking shit. A recording of the four-hour performance is available, but there is great dispute over the quality. The first two reviews were good reading for the pro and con. This thread contains a discussion of the most damning evidence: Mr. Madge fakes his way through most of the [work] ... it is obvious he is improvising. Ouch. The Madge-hater provided audio samples--now purged--of the flaws next to Michael Habermann's recording and MIDIs of the piece. What a shame they're no long available.

Interestingly, the Amazon review praising Madge faults Sorabji as a composer saying that, among others, Messiaen is more skillful with large scale ideas. I've only heard some of Sorabji's transcriptions but may need to purchase the OC recording and hear for myself. The two works that are available on IMSLP look terrifying.

posted by sstrader at 11:54 AM in Music | permalink | comments (0)