Archive for the ‘Humor’ Category

The Expert

Sunday, February 19th, 2017

This never gets old.

Link Clearance: Some interesting (?) stuff I found on the net

Monday, December 19th, 2011

Beware credit card euphoria (subscriber link)

Similar information here:

A new study in the Journal of Consumer Research shows that using a credit card induces euphoria.

Like a starry-eyed new lover who ignores the downsides of an obviously incompatible but very attractive partner, consumers who swipe plastic when they buy are often blinded to the true costs of their purchases. They even tend to exaggerate the perceived benefits of whatever they’re buying, according to research by Promothesh Chatterjee of the University of Kansas and Randall L. Rose or University of South Carolina.

This research actually goes well beyond what we’ve known previously about the impact of credit card use on consumer behavior. The old information — that consumers tend to spend 15%-30% more when paying with plastic — was bad enough. It turns out that our actual perceptions of products is different when we’re paying with a credit card. Sounds crazy, but here’s the research.

Researchers primed subjects using traditional behavioral study methods, such as making them play words games which focused their attention either on credit cards or on cash. Then they gave the consumers information on items they could theoretically buy, such as a notebook computer or an iPhone. Repeatedly, consumers “primed” to think about credit cards had a harder time recalling products’ price or other downsides.

“Our findings suggest that marketers may be affecting not just the amount of money consumers are willing to spend but also the nature of the goods and services that find their way into consumers’ market baskets,” the report says.


How to rob a bank without going to jail:

Stop when the story is over.  The MC has a foul mouth and small vocabulary.

What’s Virgin Mean?

Marriage Lessons at Herman Cain’s Expense

Very wise.


The Elevator


Schrodinger’s cat (via facebook)



Symphonic music played on wine glasses.


Sam Harris: The Truth about Violence:3 Principles of Self Defense

(I don’t kjnow who this is, but I liked the advice)

Principle #1: Avoid dangerous people and dangerous places.

Principle #2: Do not defend your property.

Principle #3: Respond immediately and escape.


Good financial advice:

Spend on the things you do every day.

Buy for what you do, not for what you wish you did.


Forget Salt

A new JAMA study finds a strong correlation: the third of folks who eat the least salt die over three times as often as the third of folks who eat the most salt.

xkcd: Amber Waves of Grain

Friday, October 28th, 2011

Colorado is working to develop coherent amber waves, which would allow them to finally destroy Kansas and Nebraska with a devastating but majestic grain laser.

Colorado is working to develop coherent amber waves, which would allow them to finally destroy Kansas and Nebraska with a devastating but majestic grain laser.

thanks to xkcd.

xkcd: Working

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

And if you drive a typical car more than a mile out of your way for each penny you save on the per-gallon price, it doesn't matter how worthless your time is to you--the gas to get you there and back costs more than you save.


New Webcam

Friday, September 16th, 2011

Grandma and Grandpa try to take a picture with their new webcam.

You can read some background here:

Grandparents with webcam become new online stars – Yahoo! News


The Alternative Secret History of the World – The Progressive Revisionist version

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

Read on if you care to:  The Alternative Secret History of the World

Password Strength – you’re doing it wrong

Friday, August 26th, 2011

A confluence has occurred – time to write a post!

password strength explained

Wow.  That’s very observant, and kind of funny (to me anyway).

So, my corporate password was expiring shortly after I read this, so I decided to change my pattern, chose three motivating words, and set the new password.  Then I went to a meeting.  Then I went to another meeting.  That meeting slid right into our Friday afternoon bash, with pizza and beer (though I’m sure that is an irrelevant detail).

After that, I went back to work and for the life of me could not remember the first word.  A co-worker brilliantly pointed out that I can VPN in to the network using my RSA key, and can thereby access the password-reset application without providing a password.  It’s late on a Friday, so I put my laptop in standby and go home.

At home, I do the VPN trick from another computer and reset my password.  Then, I see the flaw in my plan.  The laptop is locked with the old password with a missing first word.  To unlock it with the new password, it must be connected to the office network.  I can connect using VPN, but must unlock it first…

So, I ended up working a couple of days from a krufty old back up laptop using the Outlook Web Interface to mail and without any support tools.

The workaround (for next time) is to install a  local administrator account while I have access, then use that account to establish VPN.  Our Very Smart IT Guy says that when I then switch users, it will use the active network session to check for access and change the cached password.  Note: I don’t actually anticipate there will be a next time.

This came up today:

You're doing it wrong

I like it.

How Cowboys & Aliens got Smurfed – just OUCH

Monday, August 1st, 2011

Ouch.  That hurts.

Cowboys & Aliens, Smurfs Tie at Box Office with $36M Each – TIME
For many, the surprise this weekend was not that The Smurfs did so well but that Cowboys & Aliens had such a wan debut. With a budget of $163 million, plus another bundle for marketing costs, the film mostly attracted the geezer demographic (63% of the weekend audience was over 30), and even with that, it managed only a mediocre B CinemaScore, which bodes ill for the movie’s shelf life. Universal publicist Paul Pflug wrote in an e-mail on Sunday that “the pedigree of the filmmakers and bold concept made the film a bet worth taking.” Yet plenty of indicators could have warned the sponsors of Cowboys & Aliens that this was a sucker’s bet. Here are four:

My concept of geezerhood requires a few more decades.

Debt Ceiling, Dr. Who, Tigger … and more

Saturday, July 30th, 2011

Tim Harford, The Undercover Economist , has snide comments about our debt ceiling debate.

A handbag away from our debt ceiling

 “It’s not that easy. The percentage of household income spent on handbags has been considerably exaggerated by your weaselly father. Far more important is the mortgage. If we stop the payments, we lose the house.”

Doctor Who at Fawlty Towers

The Doctor and Rose decide to go undercover at Fawlty Tower’s after Mickey reports strange goings on there. But the real threat is yet to come, and only the unlikeliest of heroes can save the day.

Is Your Luggage Safe from airport security?

Think your luggage and personal items are safe? Think again! Here’s how anyone can get in your luggage without you even knowing.

Click through for the video. He also has lots of other interesting looking videos, like

 Ball of fire! Make fireballs you can hold with household items! They are fun to play with! Amaze your friends! Learn how magicians do it!

As my son put it, “What!!! handheld fireballs!?!  Let me see!”

Savage Chickens

Savage Chickens is one of several “cartoons on post-it notes” sites I’ve encountered recently.

Here’s a great visualization of the United States debt

You have to go see it.

Schneier on Security (my italics):

Hacking Apple Laptop Batteries


Security researcher Charlie Miller, widely known for his work on Mac OS X and Apple’s iOS, has discovered an interesting method that enables him to completely disable the batteries on Apple laptops, making them permanently unusable, and perform a number of other unintended actions. The method, which involves accessing and sending instructions to the chip housed on smart batteries could also be used for more malicious purposes down the road.[…]

What he found is that the batteries are shipped from the factory in a state called “sealed mode” and that there’s a four-byte password that’s required to change that. By analyzing a couple of updates that Apple had sent to fix problems in the batteries in the past, Miller found that password and was able to put the battery into “unsealed mode.”

From there, he could make a few small changes to the firmware, but not what he really wanted. So he poked around a bit more and found that a second password was required to move the battery into full access mode, which gave him the ability to make any changes he wished. That password is a default set at the factory and it’s not changed on laptops before they’re shipped. Once he had that, Miller found he could do a lot of interesting things with the battery.

“That lets you access it at the same level as the factory can,” he said. “You can read all the firmware, make changes to the code, do whatever you want. And those code changes will survive a reinstall of the OS, so you could imagine writing malware that could hide on the chip on the battery. You’d need a vulnerability in the OS or something that the battery could then attack, though.”

As components get smarter, they also get more vulnerable.

Schneier on Security (my italics):

Liabilities and Computer Security

Good article:

Halderman argued that secure software tends to come from companies that have a culture of taking security seriously. But it’s hard to mandate, or even to measure, “security consciousness” from outside a company. A regulatory agency can force a company to go through the motions of beefing up its security, but it’s not likely to be effective unless management’s heart is in it.This is a key advantage of using liability as the centerpiece of security policy. By making companies financially responsible for the actual harms caused by security failures, lawsuits give management a strong motivation to take security seriously without requiring the government to directly measure and penalize security problems. Sony allegedly laid off security personnel ahead of this year’s attacks. Presumably it thought this would be a cost-saving move; a big class action lawsuit could ensure that other companies don’t repeat that mistake in future.

I’ve been talking about liabilities for about a decade now. Here are essays I’ve written in 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2006.

Finally, this hits home.

Blame Someone Else

Friday, May 13th, 2011

I’m a little late on this one.  It’s not my fault though.

Yep, it’s official. Today is Blame Someone Else Day – the first Friday the 13th of each year. And since there is only one Friday the 13th this entire year, today’s your only chance to blame others all day long. So have at it. You don’t have to take responsibility for anything that goes wrong. And you can blame someone else for all the problems, mistakes and unfairness in your life. According to the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, North Carolina, an estimated 17 to 21 million people in the United States are affected by a fear of this day. Some people are so paralyzed by fear that they avoid their normal routines in doing business, taking flights or even getting out of bed. According to Wikipedia “It’s been estimated that $800-$900 million is lost in business on this day.”

(thanks to Dan Miller’s 48 Days)