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Monday, January 28, 2008

Ohs noes! Teh pillz maed me do its!

Ok...... so I'm walking from my office to my garage to take a break and have a cigarette about 5 minutes ago.

As I walk through the living room, my wife has the TV on, and a commercial for some miracle drug is playing, and they're going through the typical side effects list, and warning you to call your doctor if any of the symptoms appear.

So I'm really not paying it any mind, just leisurely strolling through to get my nicotine fix. But wait.... I heard something.... they didn't just say...... did they? So I stop..... I wait for them to show the medicine name, and I jot it down.... after my smoke, I'll go to their website and look at the list of side effects, and see if I just heard what I thought I heard.....

Ok, so the medicine name is MIRAPEX. So I Google it. OK, www.mirapex.com cool! So I'm looking for some link that says SIDE EFFECTS all real big or some shit - cause they say them in every commercial, I would asume they have to be easy to find on their website. But nothing..... then I see a link to FAQs. OK, let's start there.....

Great! A FAQ that asks: What are possible side effects.

Just what I'm looking for...... so I'm scanning the document... and sure enough, there it sits:

"There have been reports of patients taking... MIRAPEX, that have reported problems with gambling"

Ok, in the commercial it was worded: If you find you have problems with Gambling while taking Mirapex, consult your physician."

OK, hold on a second..... dizziness, headaches, diarrhea, I'm used to these being typical side effects of medicines.... thats one of the main reasons I stay away from them.... why do I want to take a pill to stop my heartburn, if it's just going to give me the shits all day long.... I think I'll stick with heartburn thanks!

Gambling! WTF?!? So this would be like a roofie for non-gamblers. We play poker every two weeks, and I have a buddy that doesn't like to gamble, so he doesn't play with us, but I could slip him one of these baby's, and we got some action!!!

Or does this instead open a whole new legal avenue for people to reclaim gambling loses?!?! The pills!!! It was the pills!! They made me gamble my house and kids' college savings away! Then they sue the casino for their money back - because after all, the pills made them do it.....

So then I notice, it also causes hallucinations! Holy shit - ummmm... so does LSD...... WTF?

And the pills are for "Restless Leg Syndrome" another bullshit manufactured "problem" that plagues our nation.... just like "Attention Deficit Disorder" and "Alocoholism"..... in the first case, it's people that really just don't give a shit about the task at hand and have no intention to pay attention to what the fuck is going on..... The second group is just a group of folks who like to drink.... PAY ATTENTION DUMBASS!!!! PUT DOWN THE DRINK RUMMY!!!

Restless leg syndrome....... So now instead of a bunch of people who have a lot of energy, and can't seem to sit still, we have a bunch of people with a lot of energy on some pill that makes them gamble and see shit.... great....

Friday, January 25, 2008

Netflix Fails


OK, just so I'm not totally bagging on Netflix, I sent them my email on January 17th. And on the 19th I had a voice mail from a Kristy Gray calling in response to my email to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings. (Apparently reed.hastings@netflix.com actually gets read by someone)

Anyways, we have been playing phone tag for a few days, and she leaves me a message on Tuesday the 24th saying she wont be working Wednesday, and will call me Thursday. So I call her back, get her voice mail and tell her that Thursday is great, as I don't work Thursdays and I'm home all day, and that I'll catch her call this time.


Well, here it is Friday night at 10:30PM and I've not heard anything from Netflix since Tuesday.

That's not how they FAIL though... that was just a little tidbit to show that for a couple days, they actually cared....


If you recall, when I originally called Netflix support, the fine upstanding (hot sounding) Tamar tech support chic I talked to said she would upgrade me to 4-at-a-time for the next 3 mon
ths... Remember - this was on the 16th........

Well, my account terms page on the Netflix site shows that I have been upgraded to 4-at-a-time for the next three billing periods. See below:



Ok, so this adjustment was made on the 16th - MAYBE it didn't go through until the 17th or maybe even the 20th if they run eMachine's.... I'll give them the benefit of the doubt......

Anyway, notice on this next screen, on Jan. 23, they received the 3 movies I had when all of this went down.......

Yet, they've sent me my new shipment of movies, and what to my wondering eyes appear? Three flicks! Not four, three!

Let me double check..... one...... two..... three...... yep, just three....

Ok, so lets wrap this up..... the Netflix chic doesn't call me anymore after the 22nd, and after they receive my movies on the 23rd, they still only ship me 3.

Sounds like it's time for another email to me -- and now that I know someone reads the reed.hastings@netflix.com account.... I know exactly where this emails going.....

Oh, and by the way..... here's my super secret, multi-million dollar, movie pirating lair, that their DRM won't let me play streaming movies to:


Thursday, January 24, 2008

Hovercraft Jousting

My son and I were at Bush Gardens on a field trip with his science class, and watched some science presentation. The guy had a board on which he sat, then took a leaf blower and turned it into a hovercraft. People pushed him all around the stage. I thought it was sweet.

Yesterday at work, my buddy showed me a site called Instructables.com. While browsing through it, I found instructions on how to make this hovercraft thingy. I don't take any credit for anything about this, except actually making it. The idea wasn't mine, nor the design....

So I told the guys at work I was totally going to make one, so we're all talking and kicking around ideas, and I figured what I'd do, is make two. Power them with car batteries and inverters to avoid the cords, and figure out some way to give it thrust... (via a second blower or fan attached to the back possibly). After that, take to the streets, for some Hovercraft Jousting!!!

Anyways, heres how I did it:


First fire up the PC that's in your garage....




Login and go to XM and play Top Tracks....



Take your 4' x 4' x 1/2" plywood, and find the center.


Mark it, then drive a small nail into it.




Take the metal ruler you cut a notch in when you made your Poker Table, as it just so happens that it also has a hole drilled at the 2 foot mark as well! Butt it up against the nail, and draw you a circle!



Safety first! Put on your goggles, so you can cut!


Now cut off all the corners, so you're just left with a circle.



You need to measure in 1 foot and mark. This is where the blower will go.



Trace the blower, then cut out the hole.



Now lay the circle on your tarp. Take the electric stapler you bought after blistering your hands up when you made the poker table, and stapled the tarp on. Don't pull it and make it super tight. Just fold it up and staple. Trim the excess.



Now flip it over and find the center again. Screw on a center piece. I used the lid of an old paint can.



Now take something (I used Great Stuff - that stuff really is great!) and mark you some circles around the center piece. Cut them out with a utility knife.


You're done!

Flip it over, put in the blower and fire it up!!!


Notes:

- I cut 7 holes on the bottom. I think that was too much. I ended up duct taping a couple of them closed. The instructions said 6, I think 5 may even be good.

- My intent was to use a car battery to power the blower. I thought I had bought an inverter - apparently, I bought a smoke machine.... as when I turned on the blower, all that happened was a shitload of smoke rolled out of the inverter. At least I can use it when my hair band plays our next show.

- I also intended to use a second blower to provide thrust, but it just doesn't work. I need to figure out a way to get thrust.


Anyway, heres a video of it in action.... I'm off to make the second one now, and once I find a way to make them cordless, the jousting shall begin! I also need thrust, but I suppose for now we can just have a few bystanders give a running shove to the jousters.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Netflix DRM - Revisited

Ok, so I sat marinating in anger over this whole Netflix DRM issue for a few days. So, what do I do? Google it. After a bit of searching, I have found that it is a very simple process to download the streaming movie to a WMV file, rip out that DRM bullshit, and watch the movie.

Theres only three programs needed, all of which are FREE!

cUrl, drmdbg and FreeMe2

cUrl downloads the movie to a WMV

drmdbg gives you the SID of the movie

FreeMe2 rips out the DRM crap.

So thanks to DRM not allowing me to watch Tater Salad on my TV, I now have a copy of Tater Salad that I could burn to DVD, share with my friends, or upload to the Internet somewhere (If I so choose to) Had it just allowed me to watch the stupid movie on my television, I would have never searched Google for: Netflix DRM and never would have found out how simple it is to download these instant view movies and rip out the DRM.

Thanks DRM!! Fine job! You have served your purpose.....

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Cooking Tips #1

If a recipe calls for 1 1/2 lbs. of beef.... It's OK to put in 2 1/2 lbs. - instead of "lentil soup with beef", you just end up with "beef with lentil soup".


However, if a recipe calls for 11 ounces of lentils, and you have already put a pound more beef in it than the recipe calls for, and then you throw in 16 ounces of lentils....... you do not end up with "lentil soup with beef" again.....

You end up with choke stew..... ADD WATER!!!! Lentils suck up water like a drunkard with a weekend bender hangover.....

Still tastes good as a bitch though!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Netflix, nVidia, DRM, and 'Ron White - They Call me Tater Salad'

I always knew the opposition to DRM, and knew why people thought it was bad, but it never affected me, so I didn't care.

Last night, DRM totally kicked my ass. Today I wrote an email to a bunch of people involved, to explain my extreme displeasure. I'll just post the email, and let it explain everything.


Subject: Netflix, nVidia, DRM, and 'Ron White - They Call me Tater Salad'



Hello,

This email is to document and describe an extremely unpleasant experience I had last evening with Netflix and the movie 'Ron White - They Call me Tater Salad'.

I used to be a TiVo user, until I found the freedom, fun, and expandability of creating my own PVR with a spare PC. I currently run a Core 2 Duo PC with an nVidia 7200 series graphics card as my PVR.

I have been a NetFlix member for some time and have been enjoying the 17 hours of online viewing I get each month with my subscription. Yesterday I received an email from Netflix explaining that I now receive UNLIMITED online viewing time. So my wife and I settled into our sofa and clicked PLAY on Ron White's 'Tater Salad' movie.

A message popped up and told me I would need to upgrade Windows Media Player in order to watch movies on Netflix. I had been watching movies through their website for some time, so this seemed a little odd to me, but I did as it said and upgraded. After the upgrade, I was then told I needed to install this special package in order to view Netflix content. Again, I did as instructed and installed the package.

I was then greeted with the familiar Netflix loading screen. To my dismay, once it reached 100%, I was given a DRM error. I had received this error in the past, and generally a format of the PC and a re-installation of Windows resolved it. However, I have just recently performed a complete re-install of this PC and did not have the time to do it again. So I picked up the phone and called Netflix support.

After a 40 minute wait, Lou finally answered the phone. I gave him the error code and immediately he told me I was unable to watch Netflix streaming movies because I had a TV hooked up to my PC and not a monitor. I thought for sure there was no way this could be true, as I have been enjoying Netflix streaming movies for some time. I asked to speak to a supervisor. After a few minutes, Lou connected me to Tamar. She was very pleasant, polite and professional as I explained her my problem.

She too explained to me that because I only have a TV hooked up to my computer via the S-Video cable, and no monitor plugged into the DVI port, that DRM thinks I am trying to copy the movie, and therefore will not let me play it. I could not believe what I was hearing. Her solution was to connect a monitor to the DVI port on the PC, run it in dual mode, and put the movie window onto the TV after it loads up - quite a burden, and another unacceptable answer.

I assured her I had been viewing Netflix streaming movies without (much) trouble for some time, and that I did not believe DRM was the problem, as it never had been before. She then informed me that Microsoft had released a new DRM package over the weekend, and that is why I am now having the problem. She explained that the nVidia driver in conjunction with Microsoft's new DRM were to blame. When asked if purchasing an ATI card would solve the issue, she suggested that it may - again, this is quite an unacceptable solution.

I was a Netflix subscriber for quite some time, then switched to Blockbuster for the in-store returns. When Blockbuster limited that to 5 movies per month, and Netflix was offering 17 hours of online viewing, I switched back to Netflix, and have been happy with service until now. Now, while Netflix tells me I have UNLIMITED online viewing, I actual have ZERO online viewing. This is making Blockbuster's 5 in-store exchanges look pretty inviting.

Tamar did upgrade my account to '4-at-a-time' for 3 months. While this is a welcome addition, it hardly makes up for the total lack of ability I have to watch streaming movies, which as I stated previously, is the reason I switched to Netflix from Blockbuster.

I have heard all of the fuss about DRM, but until now, I paid it no mind as it has never affected me, or my ability to used digital media which I HAVE PAID FOR. Now, however, I do realize that DRM is a horrible thing, and does nothing but keep the honest people from accessing that which they have rightfully paid for, and have the right to access.

A quick Google search for Ron White's 'Tater Salad' DVD provides you with a plethora of links to places where you can illegally download the DVD for free, sans DRM. (http://thepiratebay.org/tor/3736426/Ron_White_-_They_Call_Me_Tater_Salad-DIVX) This to me proves the old adage that "locks only keep honest people out." DRM is a horrible idea, and has now prevented me from using that which I have paid for.

I will give this problem until the end of the month, at which time if it is still unresolved, I will be canceling my Netflix account, and renewing my Blockbuster Online subscription.

You can be sure that Ron White's movie will be the first one in my queue.


Sincerely,

Charles Teets

cc:
Netflix Customer Service
Reed Hastings - Netflix CEO
Blockbuster Online Customer Service
nVidia - Chipset Manufacturer
AMD - Maker of ATI Video Cards
Microsoft - DRM Developer
Ron White - 'Tater Salad'
Michael Drumm - Producer of 'Tater Salad'
Image Entertainment - 'Tater Salad' distributor
DefectiveByDesign.com
DRM.info
GNU.org
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Free Software Foundation