a poem composed by my phone’s autosuggest function, and, by proxy, myself.

Posted in Life in General, Quixotic, Stupidity by Cameron Kopas | No Comments »

“, I the a im that’s they never your think it strategy talking that gets its cool you if couches smoothing once don’t open recording droid HeIXE them possibly putting. ”

this piece demanded absolutely no effort on my part, and was only peripherally written by myself.  It is licensed under the newest creative commons license out there which allows you to do whatever the heck you want with it. thank you.

nanorant: Tech Support

Posted in Life in General, Stupidity by aliencam | No Comments »

Because this wouldn’t all fit on twitter…

awesome… I spent all weekend setting up all the computers to the network printer, including at least 6 hours hacking the stupid HP scanning program to get normal filesize (it was 1MB+ per page when scanning 30 page documents with the lowest available settings… that wasn’t working out for my dad emailing real estate documents…) Then on Monday, the qwest guy came and disassembled our network in order to upgrade us to 7MBPS FIOS, and they unhooked our router/network and want us to use their set top box as the WAP… (which broke the connection to the printers/xbox/direct tv/ everything) (they also have strange ideas like “only one wired device may be connected” which doesn’t work for our Direct TV, old desktops, Xbox360, and videophone, so who knows how or what is even hooked up to the network now)
So Monday night, my dad freaked out that the printer didn’t work, and called HP tech support (instead of me) and spent 4 hours reinstalling the printer (wtf it shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes) and the nice HP tech support people disabled my hacks. Next time he has to scan and email a document I am going to get a frantic phone call and I will have to walk my dad through the fairly difficult process of the hack…

ugh my life.

"Google Wizard"- Twitter Hacked; aliencam banninated.

Posted in Life in General, Stupidity by aliencam | 6 Comments »

(copypaste from an intense-debate forum topic I created until I get a chance to write something special)

This morning my twitter account posted a google wizard spam message. I have not given out my password to any websites except foursquare (playfoursquare.com) and tweetsum a few times, and my password is fairly complicated (12 characters, capitals, numbers, and symbols).

the spam mesage that came from my account was: “Today was so exciting! Made $124 in 20 minutes! if ur interested, go read: ***************** ”

Anyway, I did not post this spam message, I’ve been using this as my personal account since may 2007 (3,377 posts) and I am fairly confident (barring any unpublished hacks into tweetsum or foursquare) that my password is secure.

I did not notice this spam message until one of my friends told me about it. I promptly deleted the offending tweet, and changed my password.

As soon as I got a chance, I went to the twitter support site and reported this, thinking that there could be a vulnerability in Twitter, and I wanted to know if there was anything else I could to to ensure my account was secure. A few minutes after I submitted this help ticket, my account was suspended. I thought I was helping twitter out by reporting a possible security flaw, but nope, I got suspended 😛 (I put through another help ticket to reinstate my account).

A quick google search of the URL that was in the spam message shows that it was tweeted by arround 100 people today, and of the accounts I looked at, it seems like at least a dozen of them were legitimate accounts (one account being exclusively in spanish, with this english spam tweet). Also, not all of the accounts with this same message were banned, which reinforces my theory that I got myself banned :P.

I just did some more research, and according to “tweetlists .com” the two most popular URLs posted on twitter today direct to the same page that my twitter account linked to.

It seems to me that there are more than a few legitimate people being suspended for this particular spam message, and I can’t find any similarity between the accounts that haven’t been suspended yet.

There is a post about this on a Symantec blog by their “Internet Safety Advocate”. And if you search twitter for “google wizard” you will see hundreds of accounts of this.
http://community.norton.com/t5/Ask-Marian/Go0gle-Wizard-spreading-on-Twitter-but-what-the-heck-is-it/ba-p/125112

My account is currently suspended, I am trying to get this fixed, I’ll update this as things happen.

UPDATE 1: July 31, 2009. At least one other user who was “hacked” was using foursquare (playfoursquare.com) (via the norton community post linked to above). Was foursquare hacked/compromised?

UPDATE: August 06, 2009.
Today my account was reactivated. The first suspension email did say “minimum suspension: 1 week.” they seem to keep to that very strictly, as exactly 7 days after my initial suspension, my account was reactivated. What I did in order to reactivate my account was submit one support ticket on their website, and send an email to suspended -at- twitter.com. Make sure you are very polite in each, and don’t bug them with lots of multiple submissions (what I read shows that they don’t like that.)

All of the support tickets I submitted (3 in total, one describing the first spam, one asking to be un-suspended, and the email which showed up on the website after a day or two) were marked “solved” very quickly, with absolutely no communication. While this is very rude and probably not good support practice (which is another issue entirely), the issue was actually solved, even though I couldn’t find out until the minimum 1 week suspension was finished. I would suggest waiting until the end of your minimum suspension before freaking out again with support :P. don’t forget to be polite and grateful! they don’t have to unsuspend your account, and I’m sure being the banhammer is not a job where you get very many compliments.

Valley Metro and Google Public Transit

Posted in Life in General, Stupidity by aliencam | 9 Comments »

I have been very frustrated lately with the lack of public transit information in Phoenix available on Google Maps. If you haven’t used that feature yet, go to nearly any major city (except phoenix) on google maps, pick two destinations, and set the option to show you public transit directions. These directions are amazing, they will show you how far you need to walk/drive to get to the bus, where to get off, how long you wait between buses, and plan your entire route for you.

I know there is a similar service on the Valley Metro website, but it only uses valley metro buses, not any local bus systems (like the orbit or the flash). If all of these transit systems submitted their routes to google maps, it would be completely seamless to plan a ride even across bus systems.

The advantages to using Google Maps to plan my route instead of the Valley Metro Website are these (and a lot more):

  • an actual map instead of just directions
  • ability to adjust the route (by dragging the google maps line around)
  • can search for places instead of just addresses
    • eg. I could say “from Arizona State University to Walmart” and see which bus routes take me to which Walmarts, instead of having to know two addresses.
  • A way for out-of towners to use the PTS (who not from here knows its called “valley metro”?)
  • Faster searches (you probably just used google maps to find out where you were going anyway)
  • Easier URL
    • “maps.google.com” is easier than “http://tripplan.phoenix.gov/cgi-bin/itin_page.pl?resptype=U”
  • More light rail usage (I read somewhere that AZ is planning on loosing some exorbitant amount of money on the light rail, more people riding it will definitely help that out)

So what I did was send an email to the Customer Service part of Valley Metro, in hopes of getting some action out of them.  Depending on their response (or lack thereof)  I encourage people to email/ the Valley Metro customer service and tell them that you want their data on google maps also.   The customer service email address is cs@valleymetro.org or you can reguster and use their submission form at: http://www.valleymetro.org/customer_support/contact_us/  or you can call them at (602) 253-5000.

We also need some action from the local authorities to make sure this goes smothly and we have all public transportation (like the Tempe Orbit buses)  included in this.  The local authorities liely have some influence in the overall actiona of Valey Metro too.   There is a list of local authority phone numbers at:  http://www.valleymetro.org/customer_support/contact_transit_rep/

The Tempe In Motion authority phone number is (480) 350-2775

Below is the email I sent to the customer service.

I have lived in Phoenix most of my life, and have always heard people from other places complain about our public transportation system. Now that I am living in Tempe and using the buses and the light rail very often, I see some of the issues.

The main issue I see right now is that there is no easy way to get directions using the valley metro system (yes, I have seen the trip planner at http://tripplan.phoenix.gov/cgi-bin/itin_page.pl?resptype=U). I believe this could easily be fixed with submission of the routes and times to google map’s transit program. This process is quite simple, and should not take more than a dozen man-hours in it’s entirety.

The URLs to learn how to submit the data are below:
http://maps.google.com/help/maps/transit/partners/
http://maps.google.com/help/maps/transit/partners/participate.html

This simple step would result in myself, and many other people, using the valley metro systems many more times than we do now, and would show people who are visiting an easy and cheap way to get around the valley.

Nearly every major city in the United States has submitted their data to Google Maps, and as a result of that it has been extremely easy to get around when I have recently visited those cities.

Even Flagstaff currently has a working google maps transit feed. With the number of people living in the valley, and the huge investments into the transit system recently (most notably the light rail) the transit system would have to be self-sacrificing in order to pass up this opportunity.

Thank you,

Cameron Kopas

Hopefully we can get this done soon, then we canall  start taking the bus more often isntead of driving (I seriously hate driving everywhere, I would rather walk or take a bus or the light rail [I love taking the light rail!])

I think I will also start a facebook group for this…

–aliencam

UPDATE:

On Monday, March 02, 2009, I received the following email from Valley Metro:

“I received your message below regarding Google Transit. We are working on securing the required information from the City of Phoenix to implement it on Google Transit in the near future. ”

yay!  Now lets see how long it takes them…

A Blog Chain Letter?

Posted in Blogroll, Life in General, Stupidity by aliencam | No Comments »

“Kaolinite clay has the formula Al2(Si2O5)(OH)4 in which the silica tetrahedral layer, represented by (Si2O5)2-, is made electrically neutral by an adjacent Al2(OH)2+4 layer.” –Fundamentals of Materials Science and Engineering; William D. Callister, Jr. & David G. Rethwisch

  1. Grab the nearest book.
  2. Open it to page 56.
  3. Find the fifth sentence.
  4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.
  5. Don’t dig for your favorite book, the cool book, or the intellectual one: pick the CLOSEST

I got “tagged” by Ubuntu Tutorials in my RSS reader. Everyone who does this should post a link to their post in the comments!

–aliencam

Physics Homework

Posted in Life in General, School, Stupidity by aliencam | No Comments »

a physics homework problem I just encountered:

A 2.7-kg ball is thrown upward with an initial speed of 20.0 m/s from the edge of a 45.0 m high cliff. At the instant the ball is thrown, a woman starts running away from the base of the cliff with a constant speed of 6.00 m/s. The woman runs in a straight line on level ground
At what angle above the horizontal should the ball be thrown so that the runner will catch it just before it hits the ground?

… why are we throwing a 6 lb ball off of a 135ft high cliff at someone who is supposed to catch it??? I imagine this would be painful…

-aliencam

Last Day at Leslie’s and Chemical Misnomers

Posted in Life in General, Stupidity by aliencam | No Comments »

Today was my last day working at Leslie’s Pools.  I have worked at this store for three years, and have worked under multiple managers, many of them terribly incompetent, and a few great managers.  (This is a very small store, only 3-4 employees at a time, so there is only one manager.) Yesterday was supposed to be my last day, but the manager hurt his back and could not work today.  (actual emergency room hurt his back, not just regular old “oww my back hurts”) I will miss most of working there, both the manager and the assistant manager are great.  However, I had to suffer through this little problem today.

Seriously, I have never been so insulted by a customer in my life.  A gentleman came into the store today and while I was testing his water (while other customers were waiting in line behind him) he proceeded to tell me that the recommendations I have given him were dangerous to his pool and he has been instructed by another employee of the store and the manager to ignore my suggestions.  Because of this, the customer said he was not going to follow the instructions I gave him today.

The customer’s 18,000 gallon Pebble-Tec pool is 5 feet deep in the deepest part, and my instructions were to add 32 oz of acid (which, I admit is slightly more than recommended), spread around the deep area near the return jets with the pump running.  These instructions were given on approx 07.29.08.  The next week (I do not know when because there was no name or date on the water test sheet)  the test results were a pH above 8.0 (no acid demand test was performed)  and the Alkalinity was 220.  The instructions were to dilute 16 oz of acid in a bucket of water and spread it around the whole pool (which could get acid sucked into the skimmer) while the pump was running.  At this time the customer was told that adding any acid at all to a pool if it is not diluted will result in the acid immediately sinking to the bottom of the pool and eating through the bottom.  Again, the pool is salt water, 5 ft deep, 18,000 gallons and the surface is Pebble Tec, which is made of cement and small ornamental stones (be reminded that part of the Pebble Tec curing process involves an acid wash, which includes acid.)

The customer followed the instructions given by the employee for a number of days (eight if the amounts of acid recommended by Taylor’s water testing reference booklet were followed), and there was a rainstorm on Thursday 08.14.08 that significantly lowered alkalinity in almost all pools in the area.  When the water test was brought in to me on Saturday 08.16.08 the test results included a pH of above 8.0, with an acid demand of 11 drops, and an alkalinity of 240.  This means that after adding one gallon of acid in the employee’s preferred method, and enduring a very in-alkaline rainstorm, the pool’s alkalinity increased by 20.

At this point the customer has wasted two trips to Leslie’s Pools, an entire gallon of acid, and currently has only seen a degradation of his pool’s chemistry.

Diluting acid before you add it to the pool DECREASES it’s effectiveness, and also only lowers pH, and not Alkalinity.

The MOST EFFECTIVE WAY to lower total Alkalinity in pools is to use a method called “slugging” which has been scientifically documented by Dr. Neil Lowry, founder of the Lowry School for Pool and Spa Chemistry.  This method would involve pouring 32 oz of acid (per 10,000 gallons of water) in one spot in the deep area of the pool one hour before the pump runs.  This higher concentration of acid allows more carbonates to be burned off in a shorter period of time, which decreases alkalinity significantly, without decreasing pH too much.  I understand Leslie’s being unable to recommend this method due to legal liability (if the acid is left for too long it could sink to the bottom and damage a vynl or fiberglass pool, and discolour pebble-tec) so I agreed not to suggest the highly superior method to customers.

Every single Leslie’s Pools training manual (Water 101 training, Water 101 test, the “Pool Solutions” book that is available for customer purchase, and others) instructs to add 16 oz of acid per 10,000 gallons of pool water at a time to the deep area away from skimmers and main drains.  However, for Fiberglass pools, above-ground or vinyl pools, and painted surface pools it does suggest diluting the acid before adding it for the reasons I stated above.  I documented eight separate places in the Leslie’s sanctioned literature that never once recommends diluting acid in the situation my water chemistry instructions were given, and then left all of these books open and marked with post-it notes on the shop counter.

I normally would not make a big deal out of things like this, but I will not stand to be called a liar and having my intelligence questioned just because of the imaginary safety precautions given by a kid.  Now that I have this all written out I will try very hard to forget about it and stop being so angry.  I also can’t stand being angry, so I hope I can control this soon.

“The generation of random numbers is too important to be left to chance.”
Robert R. Coveyou

-aliencam

Revisions to US Patent Law

Posted in Life in General, political, Stupidity by aliencam | No Comments »

The US Patent and Trademark Office is finally looking to change what patents are valid and invalid.

In a series of cases including In re Nuijten, In re Comiskey and In re Bilski, the Patent and Trademark Office has argued in favor of imposing new restrictions on the scope of patentable subject matter set forth by Congress in § 101 of the Patent Act. In the most recent of these three—the currently pending en banc Bilski appeal—the Office takes the position that process inventions generally are unpatentable unless they “result in a physical transformation of an article” or are “tied to a particular machine.”

This makes it look like that guy who is suing everyone for his patent of “storing users wishlists in a database” will be refused. Hopefully, this will completely change the tech industry. Currently intelectual property patents are ridiculous, such as apple patenting hand guestures and so many software patents covering the most basic things that nobody can write a powerful program without violating something. Hopefully this extends to other softwares, business practices, and non-mechanical processes. (I can understand a copyright on some things, but not patents.)

Too bad though, now I won’t be able to patent my idea: “process for incurring profit by selling products to consumers.”

Here is the URL: http://www.patentlyo.com/patent/2008/07/the-death-of-go.html

-aliencam

fun with CSS

Posted in Life in General, Stupidity by aliencam | No Comments »

well I’m having trouble getting the CSS on this site to work… I have a valid CSS file, but somehow it makes the sidebar show below the rest of the content instead of next to it. I tried putting the original CSS file that cam with one of the themes I used, and it “works” in putting the sidebar back where it belongs, but so much else has changed that I do not want to redo the whole CSS file. This is very obnoxious. I even went through and compared all lines I see as relevant, and cannot find a difference. After the jump I will post my current CSS and the original one…

but I won’t be fixing this tonight, I will have to leave it for tomorow night. Too tired, and I have to work early mañana. So, goodnight.

“What this country needs is more free speech worth listening to.”
– Hansell B. Duckett

aliencam
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Television is not cool…

Posted in Stupidity by aliencam | No Comments »

Television… I really don’t understand what’s so special about it. It is always linear, only it’s broken up into 5 minute segments to promote further degradation of attention spans of impressionable children (and adults), and in these 30 minute to an hour (20-40 minutes of content) you can get about as much character depth in as you can in a single page of a book. About as much mental stimulation as you can get from watching paint dry (less probably).

I turned on the television today, for the first time over spring break, and searched. (cue cliche) Over 500 channels, and nothing is interesting . It is all things I could have thought of myself, usually I could have thought of something better, and even my old Discovery and History channel(s) (yes there are many of each now) have nothing more than explosions and mythbusters on all day. I passed my father watching a documentary on Pearl Harbor the other day, and there were more flashing lights and sound effects and animations than in a movie! Not that that in particular is bad, it does make history appeal to the general population much more, but it also degrades the quality of the information significantly (at least it seems so to me, i would like to see a real comparison between that and an older version of the same). It also gave me a headache because I couldn’t read the words on the screen. But that also could have been that I wasn’t wearing my glasses, but not the point. And about Mythbusters, their methods really make me upset a lot of the time. The hosts of the show are former special effects specialists, not scientists, and a close watch on their actions certainly lets that show. What they do is not without entertainment value, but these men are portrayed as authorities on any subject they analyze, and I don’t think they realize that that they are then responsible for the ideas of their viewers. A classic “with great power comes great responsibility” situation, where the responsibility for factual, right information and the advancement of science is shirked for entertainment, ratings, and advertising dollars. Sure, between the two of them they have 30 years of special effects experience, but they also have complete disregard for the scientific method…ugh.

Reading this article today made me upset also:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/04/health/04well.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

“Should Children have Television in their Bedroom?” I can tell you that right now, NO. A child should not have a television or computer in their own room. Not, at least, if you want them to ever listen to their parents again. Once you put a television in your child’s room, they will stay up late watching TV, and watching the programs you don’t want them to watch. They will fall asleep to the TV every night, with or without the “sleep function”, in the latter case destroying the quality of sleep and wasting energy. Even with the sleep function, people who think they fall asleep better to the TV are stupid. They don’t fall asleep better to the television, it is just that they have done it for so long because they can’t control their own pathetic lives and think they can’t sleep without it. Any sort of “screen time” (computer/TV) before bed DOES degrade your sleep, I shouldn’t even need to cite the dozens of studies supporting that (good thing too, because I need to get to bed, no time to do extra research on those now). It may not affect how quickly you fall asleep, but anyone who knows anything knows that in night sleep nothing but the other sleep states is important at all. When your kid does not sleep well they will be less responsive to learning, and less courteous to you and anyone else. Essentially, by putting a TV in your kid’s room you are causing society to get progressively worse

From the aforementioned article,

In a 2005 study in The Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, researchers looked at the television, computer and video game habits of almost 400 children in six Northern California schools for a year. About 70 percent of the children in the study had their own TV in the bedroom; they scored significantly and consistently lower on math, reading and language-arts tests. Students who said they had computers in their homes scored higher.

This should be obvious. Watching TV makes you stupid. Everyone should know this by now, yet they refuse to do anything about it. The reason computers may have a positive effect (or maybe they just don’t have a negative effect, the article does not specify) is because computers are tools. Televisions have NEVER been tools, and never will be. When you are on a computer, you are often on the internet, reading things, so at least your brain is active (i guess even myspace involves reading to some extent) and even the video games played today, they all require more involvement than TV. For that matter, just about everything is better than watching TV.

Here is another article I read a few days ago, from Wired Magazine, regarding Make magazine.

http://www.wired.com/techbiz/people/magazine/16-03/st_thompson

The article talks about how the spirit of creativity is gone in America today. What is left of it is groups of people who do these things fanatically, and are viewed as “weird” by the rest of this limp society. This should no be, these people are actually going out and where they can do things themselves, with their own hands, they do so. Instead of promoting the disposable society of waste, they build what would have been trash to so many others. These people are a part of those who are the last hope for us.

I saw in a school cafeteria the other day a sign denoting the “cafeteria rules.” These children are not allowed to get up from their seats without raising their hands, they must ask permission to go to the bathroom or to throw away their trash. No running, and “inside voices” must be used at all times. The latter are common sense. Don’t these parents teach their kids not to run indoors, or not to yell in the same place? Of course, these are young kids, and they are always hyper and loud nowadays, so we accept it as long as they are not hyper and loud around us. The former rules though were explained to me as being necessary because kids leave all of their trash and food at their seat, and actually had been running around the room previously. For these, I don’t know who to blame. The parents can’t possibly be expected to teach their children to clean up after themselves, or to be courteous to others, no no they are much too busy with their television. On the other hand, what the parents don’t teach them is partially the responsibility of the education system. The teachers, instead of getting everything done that needs to be done in a day, lumber along at a sloth’s pace so that every child in the room, no matter how uncaring, lazy, or stupid, can get the checkmark on their report card sent home. Otherwise, the teacher will get a call from said lazy child’s parents. “my child has been a ‘straight A student’ for years and if you don’t give my child an ‘A’ I will go to the school board and see you fired!” These parents, feeling a sense of accomplishment after this, proceed to set a good example to their children by drinking away their “troubles” from the workday, cursing at the television, either beating or divorcing their spouse, and sending the kid away to it’s own TV.

Here’s an idea: instead of putting a T.V. in your kid’s room, how about putting a library in there? Maybe someday the child will get curious, crack open one of those underappreciated worlds and actually think for themselves for a change. They just might be able to revive the last remnants of an imagination that once glowed with life, and transport themselves into another world where they can play their own God. Granting free will to the characters through the words on the page, yet designing all of the sights and sounds from their own selves.

Is this the same America that I remember? Or is this just the rotting carcass of what was once great. If this is what America wishes to be, then I want no part of it. Maybe I am too young to remember what America once was, but I know what it stands for. And this is not that place. America may be a “Sleeping Giant,” but what good will a sleeping giant do against a waking dragon? The last twenty years of hibernation have left this giant lazy. It has become fat, it’s muscles weak and atrophied, it’s bones brittle glass, and through it’s myopic haze it can’t even see what is wrong with itself. Maybe we can change this. I may have only noticed this because of the backward trend in some places online, and more and more people complaining about how stupid and pointless all this is… I have upwards of eighty years left in my life, and to the best of my abilities, I will see America through this. I will do everything I can to make this country once again great, however little that may be. I just hope it will be willing to transcend to greatness once again.

On a lighter note, today is my 19th birthday (yay). I had fun today, spring break, but I’m just at home. I got to spend some time with Barb, who I love very much, and my family, who I also love very much. That in itself was all I wanted, but in addition, Barb got me season one of Lost on DVD (I won’t watch it live anymore, can’t stand TV, but I enjoy this program, along with Kyle XY and Heroes… but not live.) and Antonio Banderas “Mediterraneo” cologne, which I love. My parents got me David Allen’s “Getting Things Done,” which I have been following a self-modified version of from what I found online, but I always wanted to read the actual book. I had a great day, and don’t know what made me write such a cynical piece, except that I had been thinking about this for so long and had a chance tonight. Anyway, I’m off to bed now. Goodnight all.

“The price of freedom of religion, or of speech, or of the press, is that we must put up with a good deal of rubbish.”
– Robert Jackson

-aliencam

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