This article talks about how a major medical journal is saying that drug companies are inventing diseases to boost sales of drugs...
The more I watch TV and listen to the radio, the more disgusted I get. I am convinced that the corporations in America want to turn us all into a bunch of fat, drug addicted people.
Watch the average hour of primetime TV. Count how many commercials during that hour are for either prescription drugs, or for fast food. Those two categories probably cover 90% of the commercials you see in an average hour. We are getting deluged by commercials telling us to eat a fattening 'King Kong sized pizza' one second, and then to take this cholesterol lowering drug the next! So you eat your King Kong sized pizza, causing your cholesterol to go up, which conveniently you can cure with this drug. And this drug is something that you 'have' to take for the rest of your life or you might die of a heart attack! Hmm, so now the pizza company gets rich from selling you bigger and bigger pizzas. These bigger pizzas cause an increase in cholesterol. Then you spend thousands of dollars over the course of the rest of your life taking cholesterol lowering medication (which is making the drug company rich) so you can continue to eat that pizza that is causing the cholesterol in the first place!
Wouldn't it be simpler and cheaper to just not eat the pizza? That way your cholesterol doesn't go up, you don't need to spend a fortune on drugs and you don't end up having a heart attack! Yes, eating healthy requires some discipline, but I personally think, in the long run it works out to be much easier and cheaper than the alternative (a lifetime of drugs, heart attacks, cancer etc.)
Television advertisers are trying to kill us.
- Check the file out of Source Safe. Make the minor change and check it in. Make sure to ALWAYS add a comment to the file in Source Safe or any release of this file will get rejected.
- Write a Bill of Materials in Excel listing all the files that changed, what the change is, where the change is going, what the client impact is, who wrote the change, who tested it.
- Fill out a QA database change form, listing in detail every change made to the database. This means list every stored procedure, every table, every field of every table, every key, every index, every database that the change has to be applied to.
- Fill out a Production database change form listing all the same data as the QA database change form.
- Submit the Bill of Materials, and both DB change forms to the Security Audit team for approval. Wait for a response here...
- Once the Security team approves it, they forward the info to the QA/CM department who implements in the QA database. QA/CM also creates a PMF (Production Migration Form) at this point.
- Pass on the changes to your assigned QA resource who goes through and tests the changes in QA. The QA testing approval is then added to the PMF.
- Once it passes QA testing, the changes are then requested to move to the UAT (User Acceptance Testing)
- The QA resource then retests the change in the UAT environment and adds their approval for this step to the PMF.
- Obtain business approval from the project manager and client.
- Submit a requested implementation date/time. Implementations ONLY go out on Tuesday mornings.
- All the changes up to this point have to have been completed by Friday at noon. *any* mistakes along the way and the whole process gets rejected and has to be corrected and started again.
- Assuming all approvals are in by Friday at noon, wait until Monday at noon at which time the PMF either gets approved for implementation or postponed / rejected.
- If all goes well, you show up Tuesday morning at 6am at the data center and wait while they implement your change. Then you and your QA resource test the changes in production. If there are ANY problems, your change is removed and you have to go back and fix it. Which takes another week...
- If you fix a bug in Wednesday, you realisticly have 1-2 days to get it fixed, shoved through this convoluted process, and done by Friday at noon in order to get it implemented the following Tuesday!
Ok, in the last two days, I've had to call the IT department at work TWICE in order to get my network fixed. Turns out BOTH VMWare and Virtual PC BOTH have an annoying habit of killing my network connection so bad that the router port gets locked and my computer keeps thinking the network cable is unplugged. Why in the hell is this happening? I never had this problem with my home network when I installed these programs!
And what are VMWare and Virtual PC exactly? They are programs that allow you to essentially create a 'virtual PC' inside your computer. This allows you to run an entirely different operating system in a window of your current operating system without having to reformat your hard drive. This is very useful for development because it allows you to test your program on multiple operating systems without having to have separate PCs for each OS or having to erase your HD every time. I had originally tried to install these programs because I had a problem with my program at work... The program was actually being run in three entirely different operating systems at the same time - Windows XP on my development machine, Windows 2000 Server on the test machines, and Windows 2003 Server on the production machines. Apparently I was getting an error in Windows 2003, but not on Windows 2000 or XP. So I tried to use these programs to install copies of Windows 2000 Server and Windows 2003 Server on my machine. That way I could test in all 3 environments and make sure my program works everywhere it should.
So much for that idea. Good thing that error I got turned out to be nothing (a bug in Windows!)
I find it really ironic that a lot of the referer spam I get is linked to my blog articles against referer spam! heh.
I seem to be getting quite a bit referer spam lately. Not as much as the flood I used to get when I had the referers posted on the front page, though. I'm curious why they are interested in me again all of a sudden when I'm not showing their links.
Well, this has certainly been a quiet month for me. I haven't written much at all this month. Why? I've been busy at work and really nothing else interesting has been happening. About the only interesting thing that I've been up to lately is attending my weekly Beginning/Intermediate Guitar class.
This class meets weekly on Thursdays from 6-8pm. Today was my second class. I have 6 more classes left this 'semester'. When I signed up for this class, I thought it would be a beginners only class. While that is mostly true, it seems to be a combination of both a beginning and intermediate class into one. Some of the students know some guitar, some don't. The teacher says you are free to take the class as often as you like. There are some students that clearly have taken the class before, since they knew the teacher and had some guitar knowledge. The teacher is this 56 year old guitarist who works in a guitar shop, teachs guitar in the evenings and plays in a band several days a week. This is clearly a guy who lives and breathes guitars. He's a nice guy, but make sure you pay attention and don't cause trouble or he will yell at you. :) The class tends to be a beginner class for the first hour or so and then an intermediate class for the last half hour to hour. This is fine. I can learn the beginner stuff and see a little of the more advanced stuff later. I'm proud to say that I even kinda understand some of the more advanced stuff. At least the last 6-8 months that I've been wandering about on my own weren't a complete waste of time.
The teacher says that by the end of the class (only 6 more classes!) we will be able to play all 7 major chords, all 7 minor chords and all seven of the '7ths' chords. That's 21 chords in a vary short period of time. At the end of the class you will have a 'final exam' where you have to demonstrate all these chords. The first class was centered around tuning the guitar. He want through the entire class and hand-tuned everyone's guitar. He also taught us a techique for using harmonics to hand tune the guitar, without any instruments. I didn't quite get this harmonics tuning thing in the first class. We went over this again for part of this class. I think I'm starting to understand it a bit better. It's a tricky techique. It's going to take some practice to get this down. He gave us a simple practice exercise to do on the guitar, as well as a handout which contained diagrams of all 21 of the chords.
Once we finished going over the harmonics tuning technique again today, we moved on to our first 3 chords - A, D & E Major. He had given us the chord diagrams last week as well as the notes for a very simple song - "Happy Birthday to you". The song only has these three chords. He then went around the class and had everyone of us 'sing' him Happy Birthday and play those three chords on the guitar! Maybe I missed something last time, but I didn't even know I was supposed to study those chords! All I did was the little exercise he gave us. To my amazement, I had to play the little Happy Birthday song, using 3 chords I'd never played before and I actually managed to do it. Yeah, I probably sounded horrible, but the amazing thing, is in 1 hour I actually learned those 3 chords! I can picture the chord diagrams in my head for these 3 now and a couple of hours ago, I had no clue! Naturally, I have ALOT of practice to do to be able to actually play those pretty cleanly, but the fact that I was able to learn 3 chords that fast amazed me. That's more than I can see for the last 8 months.
He also talked a bit about how to properly position your arms to play the guitar. A woman was complaining that her hands were too small to play the guitar. She said she couldn't reach all the strings. Turns out that the solution was a simple matter of adjusting the position of your hands and suddenly you can reach the strings! I'd been having this same problem myself over the last months. I could reach all the strings except the vary top one. I kept having a really hard time with that one. Once I adjusted my hand position a little bit, it got A LOT easier. Now *this* is what I needed. I need a knowledgable person to look at me and point out where I'm going wrong. These little tips go a LONG way in taking the frustration out of this that I've been experiencing.
I am one of the few students in the class who shows up every class carrying an electric guitar. Of the 15 or so students, only 1 other has an electric. The rest are acoustic. I'm seriously considering getting myself a decent, cheap acoustic for the class. (Hey Dave, wanna make a trip to MAE??? :) ) Why? I can't hear my darn guitar when I play it! Electric guitars play the notes when you play them without the amp, but it's usually a very weak sound. I tend to get drowned out by the acoustics around me. It's kinda frustrating. I'm not entirely sure if this something I'm doing wrong though. The teacher was talking about how you are supposed to hold the pick when playing. He said you generally want to hold the pick so that you only have the small tip of the pick visible. As he put it, you wouldn't hold a pen by the very far end to write would you? If you did, you would have a hard time controlling the pen. The same argument applies with the pick. When I started holding the pick tigher with only the tip showing, I tended to get a much louder note out of the guitar, even without an amp. Maybe this will get me by. I have always been very 'loose' with the pick. I have to break myself of this habit.
I'm really starting to see the benefit of going to this class. All the little tips he gives you really help in getting you over the frustrating problems. I will definately be signing up for his next class.
Now for that acoustic guitar...
I'm a very technical person. I spent 8 hours (or more) a day using computers so I quickly learn what you should and should not do when it comes to the Internet. Unfortunately, 99% of the world is not so lucky. I've been dealing more and more in the 'ma & pa' side of the Internet. What I mean by 'ma & pa' is the average Internet user who is not aware of the hazards out there. I've been working on a friends old laptop trying to clean it up. It's amazing the number of virii & spyware I'm finding on this one little laptop, that's (so they tell me) hardly ever on the Internet and when it is, it's through dial-up. I thought I'd write a short blog with some recommendations on how to minimize these problems.
- Run a Spyware checker regularly. The two best ones are Ad-Aware and Spybot Search & Destroy (run them BOTH regularly). Both are free to download and use.
- Install a good virus scanner and update it regularly. One example of a good, free virus scanner is Grisoft's AVG Anti Virus Free Edition. This is a 'set it and forget it' virus scanner. It will automatically update itself everyday to catch the latest virii and it's free. You are now essentially safe from virii for life for free!
- If you receive a scary sounding email from your bank, credit union, eBay, Paypal, etc stating that your account information needs to be updated due to an attack, or to prevent your account from being shut down, do NOT click on the link in the email. This is a scam called phishing that is designed to steal your bank account information. Someone sets up a web site that looks identical to the real web site and makes an email designed to look identical to an 'officiel' email from the site. Then when you login to update your information, you end up at the scammer's web site. By 'updating' your information on this web site, you are actually giving the criminal all the information he needs to empty your bank account, steal your identity, ruin your credit and basically make your life hell.
- If you are using Windows 2000 or XP, go to Control Panel, Automatic Updates and turn on Automatic Updates. This will set Windows to automatically download and install security updates to itself whenever a new security hole is found. This alone will save you from many attacks that take advantage of security holes in Windows that are constantly being discovered.
- Do NOT use Internet Explorer to browse the web. This browser is highly insecure and is frequently the source of the spyware, adware, and virii installed secretly on your machine. Use Firefox instead. It works just as well as Internet Explorer (better in fact) and does not have the security risks that Internet Explorer does.
- Do NOT use Outlook Express as an email program. Use Thunderbird instead. Thunderbird has MUCH better spam handling, is more secure, and will often catch phishing emails when they are sent and warn you before you click on the links.
- If you have young kids, install filtering software such as Net Nanny. There is WAY too much porn and other questionable material out there that young children should be subjected to.
- If you have young kids, WATCH EVERY MOVE THEY MAKE ONLINE. Yes this an 'invasion of their privacy'. Tough. If you see them doing something you don't like, stop them. Do not put the computer in their room where they can do things in private. Put it in a public place in the house where things can be monitored.
- Create separate user accounts on your computer for each kid. Set these accounts to NOT have administrative priveleges. Restrict these accounts to the minimum features possible. Let them surf the web, read email, and do IM. That's IT. Do NOT let them install software. Do not let them have administrator access (or know your administrator password). If they need to install software they have to ask you first. This will minimize the installation of adware and spyware and prevent them from trying to get around your filtering software too!
- Be very WARY of any site that has links to WMF (Windows Meta File) images. If you see a site with these and your browser asks what to do with the WMF file, DO NOT view it or do anything with it. WMF files are the source of an exploit that has been running rampant on the internet lately. If these WMF files are viewed, you stand the chance of having spyware or adware installed secretly on your computer.
Ok, so I've been commenting lately about how the referer spammers are attempting to use blogs around the world to spread virii in order to possibly take over your computer remotely. Turns out, I was right and have confirmation of it. My virus scanner found this today in my temporary files. I never ran the file and my machine has been updated to not be suseptible to this virus, so I am safe, but there are many who arent. See the link for this blog for info on the virus.
cyber-search.biz is spreading this virus intentially all over the Internet! Either that or they've been compromised themself by someone else to spread this virus unknowingly.
These spammers are becoming downright criminal in their actions. Here's a few new ones I've noticed in my logs:
- Our friend cyber-search.biz, who's been feeding this 33.WMF file for the last few weeks is now feeding a different WMF file, named 'cyber.WMF'. Whether or not this is the same file with a different name, I don't know. I am still suspicious that this WMF file is an exploit of the Windows WMF processing bug. I see this cyber-search.biz site feeding these WMF files all over the place.
- It looks like some spammers are taking advantage of some badly written web sites to disguise the URL of their sites. I'm seeing entries in the log file where it's what looks like a legitimate site that is using HTML frames. Their frame page is written to take a parameter that passes in the URL of the web site to display in the frame. The spammers are then using this parameter to essentially wrap their URL inside a frameset from the legitimate site. This leads your browser to display the URL of the legit site, but show the content of the spammer site. Plus, if you attempt to block the site, you end up blocking the legit site and not the spammer site.
- The spammers are heavily targeting teens as a way of compromising the teen's computers. I see many links from site with the word 'teen' in the domain name. The names have harmless sounding domains like 'teensspace.com' (which sounds suspiciously similar to the very popular teen site 'myspace.com'), 'teen-search.info', etc. Many of these sites link to that infamous 33.WMF file that cyber-search.biz has been feeding. A teen clicks on these sites, loads that 33.WMF file, and ends up unknowningly compromising their computer for the spammer/criminal's use.
- The spammers are now using false 'search engine' sites to redirect people toward this 33.WMF file. I see MANY 'refering searches' in my logs as coming from these bogus sites. This is just a different way of the bloggers trying to force their way into your site so you can display their links for the unsuspecting to click on.