Random Access Memories

March 31, 2009

Passwords

by @ 11:52 am. Filed under Personal, Technology

Sometimes I wonder why software systems constantly require users to change their passwords.

I suppose they assume we all have an infinite capacity to remember a string of numbers, digits and symbols are repeat that information anytime in the future without ever writing it down anywhere.

But you see, we often do. Most people have written down their passwords until they have memorized them.

I feel this is horribly insecure compared to allowing users to keep their existing passwords until they desire to change them.

March 29, 2009

Banking “security”

by @ 6:02 am. Filed under Personal

So today my bank tells me i’m going to get a new debit card and new debit card number.

Because one of the VISA transaction companies (Heartlland) was broken into and an *unknown* number of card numbers were stolen.

This is not the first time this has happened to me, or the second, or the third, no it’s the fourth time.

The fourth time that i’ve had to go online and change the card number that gets automatically debited for my bills, the fourth time i’ve had to deal with a new PIN number, and the fourth time that i’ve been reminded that even tho banks are piling on more and more complications to your personal login they seem to know nothing about how to protect corporate data.

March 26, 2009

The Great Office War

by @ 4:56 am. Filed under Business, Personal

The Great Office War

I love this film, it’s totally cheesy but it makes me laugh.

(Direct Download link: Here)

Why men need to change how they act.

by @ 4:50 am. Filed under Personal

Men need to change their tune, it’s as simple as that.

In a recent story I read online about women leaving men for women it was remarked:

“Many of the women interviewed said, they are attracted to the person, and not the gender — moved by traits like kindness, intelligence, and humor, which could apply to a man or a woman. Most of all, they long for an emotional connection.”

The “tough guy” image that men present is more a front put on to combat other men. There was a time when it was a good survival trait, when fighting off other humans was a base matter of survival and putting food in your mouth. However we don’t live in caves anymore, we don’t fight off hulking carnivores with clubs. Instead now the overabundance of testosterone causes conflict where there doesn’t need to be any. Along with that fewer women seem attracted to it as time goes by, favoring instead men with emotions and brains.

The issue with this entire situation is simple, “Men don’t listen”, and furthermore society accepts their refusal to consider any changes. It is almost inconceivable to most of them that they should drop the macho attitude so why would they consider it? They wouldn’t, and they don’t. Often as well their entire sense of identity is built around it and when that image is shattered they lash out violently in defense.

I guess unfortunately only time fixes things like this.

March 25, 2009

New Bios Virus Unveiled.

by @ 6:37 am. Filed under Personal

We should all be very, very cautious in the near future until something comes along to remove this threat.

“A pair of Argentinean researchers have found a way to perform a BIOS level malware attack capable of surviving even a hard-disk wipe. Alfredo Ortega and Anibal Sacco from Core Security Technologies — used the stage at last week’s CanSecWest conference to demonstrate methods (PDF) for infecting the BIOS with persistent code that will survive reboots and re-flashing attempts. The technique includes patching the BIOS with a small bit of code that gave them complete control of the machine. The demo ran smoothly on a Windows machine, a PC running OpenBSD and another running VMware Player.”

http://i.zdnet.com/blogs/core_bios.pdf
http://threatpost.com/blogs/researchers-unveil-persistent-bios-attack-methods

March 24, 2009

Quote

by @ 7:12 pm. Filed under Personal

“I believe that one defines oneself by reinvention. To not be like your parents. To not be like your friends. To be yourself. To cut yourself out of stone.” – Henry Rollins

One of my favorite commercials

by @ 5:17 pm. Filed under Business, Crime & Justice, Personal, Quotes, Secondlife, Technology

This text will be replaced

I just love the way they did this commercial. Took me forever to find a copy of it, it’s around 10 years old.

(Direct Download link: Here)

March 20, 2009

The 5 biggest lies on Wall Street

by @ 8:23 am. Filed under Personal

I noticed this on MSN Money and thought it was worth remembering for later.

The 5 biggest lies on Wall Street

These are the tenets you counted on for years, like ‘buy and hold’ and heed the advice of ‘experts.’ Keep these whoppers in mind as you plan your financial future.

By Michael Brush
MSN Money

If you had any money in stocks in the past few years, you might be feeling pretty dumb right now — since you’re down more than 40% on those “investments.”

But stop being so hard on yourself. Yes, you probably should have pulled more money out in time.

But on the other hand, you were probably suckered by any number of big lies foisted on you by Wall Street and market players who stood to profit.

Here are the five biggest lies that probably hurt you the most and will be worth remembering in the future.

Big Lie No. 1: The market will take care of everything

Remember Ronald Reagan’s line, “Government isn’t the solution to our problems; government is the problem”? The Gipper may have had some great political insights, but the train wreck in the market shows this one wasn’t one of them.

During most of this decade, Wall Street lobbyists persuaded would-be regulators in the Bush administration to lay off. “The markets” would find the best solutions to any problems on their own.

In the free-for-all that ensued, the Wall Street Masters of the Universe made untold millions — and left us with huge problems. The damage caused by all the tricks, scams and skullduggery has cost more than $7 trillion in market losses so far, not to mention millions of jobs and a deep recession.

“We convinced ourselves that the inmates could regulate themselves, and obviously that was wrong,” says Christopher Whalen of Institutional Risk Analytics, a financial consulting firm. “If we are going to let people buy public policy, then we are going to get stupid things.”

Perhaps the biggest gaffe was allowing a multitrillion-dollar market in credit default swaps — a kind of loan insurance — to develop with no oversight or regulation. This was just plain dumb, and we’ll continue to pay the price. Too much CDS exposure helped take down Lehman Bros. (LEHMQ, news, msgs) and American International Group (AIG, news, msgs). They lost big by insuring complex securities backed by bad home mortgage loans.

Of course, none of this could have happened if regulators hadn’t looked the other way as mortgage originators handed home loans to anyone who could fog a mirror. They didn’t care because the loans could be sold to Wall Street banks, repackaged as securities and sold again to investors.

“A shadow banking system developed to originate and sell mortgages outside the regulated banking system, and we ignored it,” says William Isaac, a former chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and now head of the Secura Group, a division of national consulting firm LECG.

Even regulators who were supposed to be policing the market often did a lousy job during this “free market” era.

One example: Early this decade, a statistical wonk named Harry Markopolos had figured out that the investment vehicle that Bernard Madoff was promoting to well-heeled investors was a classic Ponzi scheme. Markopolos alerted the Securities and Exchange Commission, which failed to act until investors had lost billions.

Big Lie No. 2: The ‘experts’ will help you

Many of us rely on the “experts” for guidance in the market, and they failed us miserably.

Most mutual funds are down as much as the market — or worse. The geniuses running hedge funds did little better. A few commentators managed to forecast the market disaster; most missed it.

There’s a simple reason why they missed the coming carnage, says David Loeper, the CEO of Wealthcare Capital Management in Richmond, Va., and author of “Stop the Investing Rip-off: How to Avoid Being a Victim and Make More Money,” due out in June.

The “experts” have conflicts of interest. Mutual funds, hedge funds and brokerages want to keep you at the table so that they can continue to earn fees from your nest egg. “They don’t care if you win or lose, they just want you to keep playing the game,” Loeper says.

They often pitch whatever is hot — commodities and emerging markets come to mind — at exactly the wrong time. “They’ll market it until it falls apart, and then they will find something else,” Loeper says.

At worst, the conflicts of interest seem downright blatant, says investor Jim Rogers. Among the biggest lies, he says, were the high-grade “AAA” stamps of approval put on faulty mortgage-backed securities by the debt ratings agencies — which were paid big fees to rate those securities by the very banks who created them.

The media don’t get a free pass either. Loeper says media outlets such as CNBC, and presumably this Web site, regularly fall short in guiding investors because their real priority is to provide entertainment — and that they have to dumb things down too much to keep content interesting.

Big Lie No. 3: Buy and hold

Anyone who has followed this advice since the late 1990s now feels deceived. “Buy and hold” once seemed so obvious. Over the long haul, stocks advance 10% to 12% a year, goes the mantra. So you can’t ever go wrong adding money to stock funds — as long as you don’t act like a wild day trader.

The problem was that investors and financial advisers use an assessment of risk tolerance to determine exposure to various asset classes like stocks, bonds and cash.

Then the level of risk in the stock market changed violently. But investors — or their financial advisers — didn’t adjust their portfolios away from stocks toward safer assets like cash, says Axel Merk of Merk Mutual Funds in Palo Alto, Calif. “If the risks in the markets change, your investment allocations must also change,” he says.

But how were we supposed to know that the risks of owning stocks had increased?

One early signal began to emerge in 2007, when market volatility started to increase rapidly, Merk says. Another sign was that excessive debt throughout the system had driven corporate profits to abnormally high levels, setting up investors for a big fall, says money manager John Hussman, the president of the Hussman Investment Trust.

Hussman warned investors of this risk early on. But, he says, because of Big Lie No. 2, many experts and Wall Street professionals “were unwilling to entertain any concern that threatened to stop the gravy train.”

Big Lie No. 4: Overpaid CEOs are worth the money

Whenever I write about greedy CEOs who get paid too much, company PR machines trot out the old saw that pay has to be so high “to attract the best talent.”

Oh, really?

Then why are we suffering such a deep recession and huge market losses? After all, the CEOs at the banks that got us into this mess were paid like kings. Let’s take a look at some of the consequences — and predictions — brought to us by the supposed “top” talent purchased with all that money:

An extreme underappreciation of his problems. At Lehman Bros.’ very last annual meeting in April 2008, then-CEO Richard Fuld opined that “the worst of the impact of the financial markets is behind us.”

In June, he told investors the investment bank was “well-positioned” because of efforts to strengthen its balance sheet.

Fuld was supposed to be a “top talent”; Lehman had paid him more than $186.5 million in salary, bonuses and profits from stock options in the prior three years, according to Equilar, an executive compensation research firm.

Yet by autumn, Lehman vanished, setting off the October 2008 market crash. It had been killed by mortgage-backed securities and other investments made on Fuld’s watch.

The cost of moving too fast. On Sept. 15, Bank of America (BAC, news, msgs) CEO Ken Lewis announced that the banking giant was buying Merrill Lynch, saying the deal — cobbled together over a weekend — was “a great opportunity” for shareholders because together the companies would be “more valuable” due to synergies.

Lewis had taken home $98.6 million from 2005 to 2007, so you’d think he would know what he was talking about. So far, he’s been terribly wrong.

Bank of America reported a $21.5 billion fourth-quarter loss. The government responded by injecting $20 billion in new capital Jan. 16 and guaranteeing $118 billion in potential losses from the Merrill Lynch deal.

The stock has been crushed. Bank of America closed at $33.74 the Friday before the deal was struck. It fell to $26.55 on Sept. 15. It dropped to as low as $3.77 on Feb. 5 before recovering to $5.57 on Friday.

What seems clear is that these executives were blissfully ignorant of the growing risks to their businesses or simply chose to ignore them.

And despite all the bad press about CEOs raking in millions for lousy performance, the tricks continue. D.R. Horton (DHI, news, msgs), the nation’s largest homebuilder, lost a whopping $8.34 per share in fiscal 2008, which ended Sept. 30. The stock has fallen 79% since July 2005.

Yet Chairman Donald Horton and CEO Donald Tomnitz collected $5.4 million and $4.4 million, respectively, for the year, including $1.8 million each in performance pay. They were rewarded for hitting benchmarks on cost cutting, pretax income and operating cash flow.

None of this is new. CEOs have been collecting big bucks for lousy performances for years.

Big Lie No. 5: Buy a flat-screen TV, save the economy

Maybe the biggest lie about to be foisted on people is that they should go out and shop to save the economy. Wall Street wants you to spend to pump up the economy. Much of the federal stimulus package enacted this week entails tax breaks and handouts to get people spending.

But it’s really just another big lie to tell people they’ll make a difference if they go out and shop.

The problem is that the economy is going nowhere — no matter how much anyone spends — until someone comes up with a plan to give the banks enough of a capital cushion so they start lending again. So far, we haven’t seen that happen.

So play it safe. Hold on to your money. Most of you need to save more for retirement, anyway.

According to McKinsey Global Institute, two-thirds of baby boomers are unprepared for their golden years. Most of the boomers who are unprepared have a net worth of less than $100,000 even though they are just years away from retirement.

If you are younger, don’t smirk. You need to save, too; otherwise you’ll end up like them.

At the time of publication, Michael Brush owned shares of the Hussman Strategic Growth Fund (HSGFX).

March 19, 2009

Vindication!

by @ 7:53 am. Filed under Personal

So for years now when women asked me “how do you get your hair so long?” one of my answers has been “Wash it once a week or once every other week”. Of course most women are aghast at this possibility, thinking that i’m an uncouth barbarian for doing such a thing.

Well, today on the radio I heard the following story which made me feel much more secure in my advice.

Morning Edition, March 19, 2009

Americans love to shampoo. We lather up an average of 4.59 times a week, twice as much as Italians and Spaniards, according to shampoo-maker Procter & Gamble.

But that’s way too often, say hair stylists and dermatologists. Daily washing, they say, strips the hair of beneficial oil (called sebum) and can damage our locks.

Shampoo Is Big Business

The current trend of frequent shampoos may have started on May 10, 1908, when the New York Times published a column advising women that it was OK to wash their hair every two weeks. At that time, once a month was the norm.

Decades later, TV marketing campaigns began to convince us that daily washing was the thing to do. A 1970s Faberge ad for Farrah Fawcett shampoo is one example.

“All you have to do is watch her running in slow motion on a beach with her hair flopping gracefully in the wind,” says Steve Meltzer, a former ad executive. The idea was, “Wash your hair with this stuff, and you, too, can be like Farrah Fawcett,” Meltzer says.

Madison Avenue sold people on the idea that they could shampoo their way back to beauty.

Ads also convinced us that daily hair washing is healthy. Remember the Breck girls? Or how about Christie Brinkley’s body-building for hair ad with Prell?

Skipping Shampoos Is, Well, Un-American

Americans took easily to the idea that we should shampoo frequently. And lots of us find it disgusting to shampoo any less than once a day. Take some fitness-conscious college students from Georgetown University, for example. When I told them about the old-time advice to wash once a month, they almost gagged.

“That is way too little hair shampooing,” laughs Jane Caudell-Feagan.

“If I don’t shower every day, my hair gets greasy, so I think it’s completely heinous,” says her friend Ashley Carlini. After a workout, they say, it would be disgusting not to wash your hair.

Eco-Conscious ‘No-‘Poo’ Movement

Given our cultural propensity to lather up frequently, it may be shocking that in some eco-conscious circles of society, some people are giving up shampoo.

“There’s a lot of people doing this no-shampoo movement,” says 20-something blogger Jeanne Haegele. She writes a blog called LifeLessPlastic.

In an attempt to buy fewer items with plastic packaging, Haegele recently went three months without using any shampoo. Instead, she washed her hair with baking soda twice a week and conditioned it with a vinegar rinse.

She says her hair didn’t smell, and her friends were very supportive. “Maybe they were secretly wondering why I smelled like a jar of pickles,” she says jokingly.

She ended the no-‘poo experiment after developing a bad case of dandruff, but Haegele says she might try it again.

She recalls the biggest surprise was that her hair didn’t get very greasy. For now, she’s using shampoo bars a few times a week.

Dermatologist Recommends Shampooing Less

Experts say Haegele’s observations are not flaky. As she washed less, her sebaceous glands began producing less sebum oil.

“If you wash your hair every day, you’re removing the sebum,” explains Michelle Hanjani, a dermatologist at Columbia University. “Then the oil glands compensate by producing more oil,” she says.

She recommends that patients wash their hair no more than two or three times a week.

There’s also a lot of variation among hair types. African-Americans and people with curly hair can go even longer between washes compared to folks with straight hair.

So, it seems, less is more. And maybe our grandmothers were on to something after all.

March 15, 2009

Lena Lake

by @ 5:01 am. Filed under Fishing, Outdoors, Personal

Well, Friday I went hiking to Lena Lake to see if it was thawed enough to go fishing.


There was some snow on the trail and quite a bit at the trailhead. The lake itself was 2/3 frozen and the fishing was terrible.




(Click for a handful of photos)

March 8, 2009

So long Circuit City

by @ 6:34 am. Filed under Business, Personal, Technology

An epic failure indeed.


Circuit City


Frankly I don’t think I ever bought anything there.


If I recall right they had terribly high prices and poor sales staff, they had a habit of firing old higher-paid folks and bringing in cheap staff with zero experience. Let’s all put them in the category of how NOT to run a business.

March 7, 2009

My Picnic Set

by @ 6:24 pm. Filed under Outdoors, Personal

So i’m sure you have seen a “Picnic Backpack”, a nice backpack with special pockets for plates/napkins/silverware for 4, a corkscrew, salt & pepper shakers, etc. All very overly pretty but not overly functional, not to mention heavy. This set alone is 85$ and 8lbs without a blanket.

Picnic Set (standard)

While the idea is a good one, notice how the backpack is filled. Every little thing in it’s own little place nice and pretty and tons of wasted space. But i’m a practical kind of guy, the idea of excess space and weight in something i’m going to carry for miles and miles does not really appeal to me.

So, I set about making my own “functionality-inspired” picnic backpack. (NOTE! This is not a cheap set, it’s a design built for compactness and weight reduction not frugality)




1 backpack (just about anything will do) I went with a black Everest bag with 2 side pockets for water bottles – $19.99

4 lightweight Polypropylene REI plates – $2.75 ea.
plates

4 sets of REI plastic utensils (I took out the big spoons, you can substitute titanium but the cost will go up exponentially) – $2.25ea. set
utensils

4 plastic collapsible wine glasses (The bottom unscrews from these and fits upside-down in the top) – $6.95ea.
glasses

1 “cork extractor” (I don’t like corkscrews, they mangle a perfectly re-usable cork too much) – $5 on Ebay
cork extractor

1 plastic orange peeler – $1.99
orange peeler

1 combination salt & pepper shaker – $3.95
salt & pepper

1 cutting board – $3.00
cutting board

1 decent quality knife (something that will hold an edge) – $9.99

5 cotton hand towels (4 napkins and one prep towel) – $9.99

1 Platypus bag for leftover wine – $7.95

1 Ikea Cotton Blanket – $29.99
ikea blanket

1 sheet heavy dropcloth plastic (For wet or muddy ground) – $2.50




My grand total? $140

Total weight? 7lbs, 1oz (3lbs 12oz without the blanket)

Not too bad I figure, the blanket weighs a considerable amount on it’s own but the cotton doubles as a certain amount of padding. I could have gone with a poly “microfiber” blanket and saved alot of weight (and I still might).

Any ideas on what else I might want to add? I think I might go with a slightly larger backpack for rain gear, hiking goods, etc. The blanket takes up a considerable amount of space in this one (I bought the backpack before the blanket). I think i’ll add a Frisbee, or the Aerobie I have laying around.

The next project is a second backpack cooler that is both light and functional.

WTF is this?

by @ 10:43 am. Filed under Personal

I saw this in the restroom on the basement level of Pacific Place in Seattle.

motoimg141.jpg
Does anyone know who it is for?

Lasivian's small corner of the web.
(Please wipe your browser before entering so you don't track in mud)

Internal Pages:

Categories:

The text MUD I frequent:

|o=o=o=o=o=o==o=o=o=o=o=o|
|........................|
|.%%DRAGON%%SWORDS%%MUD%%|
|..@8[////]8(|{%%%%%%>>..|
|........................|
|.Come battle in a world.|
|.with hundreds of areas.|
|.and 2400 player levels.|
|..You can quest, brew,..|
|..gain skills & spells..|
|..mine, backstab, chat,.|
|..level, study, scribe,.|
|..create poisons, pvp,..|
|..remort and tons more!.|
|........................|
|.Join us now by telnet:.|
|..dragonswordsmud.com ..|
|.......Port:1234........|
|........................|
|www.dragonswordsmud.com.|
|....Newbies Welcome!....|
|........................|

|o=o=o=o=o=o==o=o=o=o=o=o|


Misc:

Si hoc legere scis mimium eruditionis habes

Does your brain hurt yet?

retesostft vntphoim enuni toegtieittyft nece n tiog siheun sec eevd go doyvweelprnnstt ievtg h i tieosddfrntea ytiedtt uryrieyhmhsug rer hieoywle unie tnxeref nfls ettdsiedte fnsiei fdhfZ

(I can't remember how I encrypted this cipher , the first person to crack it gets 10$ via Paypal.)

My Email:

01001010011101010111001101110 10000100000011010000110100101 10010001101001011011100110011 10010000001101101011110010010 00000110010101101101011000010 11010010110110000100000011010 01011011100010000001110000011 01100011000010110100101101110 00100000011100110110100101100 11101101000011101000000110100 00101000001101000010100100110 00110000101110011011010010111 01100110100101100001011011100 10000000110011101101101011000 01011010010110110000101110011 000110110111101101101
WTF?

Time until the fool the majority of voters did not vote for is out of the White House:

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