Friday, March 31, 2006

Sun Should Be Sued By Sun




With Beatles' Apple Corps Records lawsuit against Apple Computer ongoing ... in my websearches I found the picture below within a MacRumors forum discussing the topic.

Sun's Solaris OS has an MP3 player and I'm sure audio files are created on Sun Microsystems computers:

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Quick Blurb: If Only Everyone Read Fix Your Thinking ...

Here's an interesting excerpt from an email my best friend sent me:

"...I got caught up on FYT today. USA Today had at least four or five articles that were Apple related today, and I thought that was kind of interesting. I think that all of them were about things that you had already reported on."

I looked through USA Today and yes ... I reported most of the stories at least 3 days ago ... some two weeks ago!

New Feature: How Much Did That Cost?




Today, I'm starting a new section called: How Much Did That Cost?

On slow news days, I have several features that I pick to post about (see the right sidebar)

This new feature will pose questions, give answers, and make proposals for how much things cost Apple and Third Party Apple Developers.

Have you ever been curious about a product's cost? Have you ever wondered ... I'm paying $30.00 ... but what is the retailer making off of my purchase ... and in turn ... how much is the manufacturer or distributor making? I've always been curious about these things. The 3rd party iPod accessory industry has boomed ... mostly due to the very high profit margin involved in making accessories such as cases and transmitters.

Have you ever wondered what a packaging mistake or packaging upgrade costs a manufacturer?

While this section won't be able to provide concrete details all of the time ... I believe I'm tied enough into retail and to marketing that I can make a very educated guess.

What prompted me to create this new feature was Griffin Technology's iTrip FM transmitter.





As you can see from the pictures ... Griffin has changed the iTrip from working on the top of the iPod to the bottom.

My first question is why didn't Griffin design the product to work with the bottom port to begin with?

The "how much did that cost?" question is ... how much of a problem did their packaging cost them in returns this Christmas (and even now as previous versions of iTrips are still on the market) when people bought the wrong iTrip for their iPod w/ Video because it and the Nano do not have the top port (the little nub you see in the picture)?


I'm not sure I saw any correction stickers at any retailer saying that iTrips with the top connector will not work with current iPods. So, I don't imagine a correction cost Griffin anything.



The red arrow points to a message on the front of the top connector iTrip box ... "Supports EVERY iPod with Dock Connector"

I am quite surprised that no one (in particular retailers) sued over this issue or at the very least raised a bigger issue about it on the internet.

I could say with almost 100% certainty that this confusion amongst iPod accessories caused a major headache for retailers and the over 46,000 locations that iPod accessories are sold.

April Fool's Day: Apple Computer: The Greatest April Fool's Joke In History!

I dislike April Fool's Day ... don't get me wrong ... I love to joke around, but the whole Candid Camera / Punk'd type of joke angers me ... I'd rather someone make fun of my looks, my race, or my religion than I would being Punk'd.

On occasion, I don't mind fibbing for a few minutes and then just saying, "I'm just kidding" ... but Candid Camera jokes often involve multiple people in a lie.

What about the people who were on such shows or the subject of such elaborate jokes ... how well do they respond to their next real emergency? Has there ever been anyone who thought they were being Punk'd a second time ... when it was actually a real emergency? Like crying wolf?

Many websites will run stupid stories on Saturday ... some people will fall for them ... or even go into conspiracy theories how they may be a joke but be plausible.

The greatest April Fool's Day ever was April 1, 1976 - the day Apple Computer was officially launched as a company ... it has to go down as the greatest Punk ever to the computing world and quite possibly in the history of electronics.

Related: One of the funniest parodies I think I have ever seen was an Apple Switch Ad parody created by a Mac hater. This message appeared with the sosumi system sound at the end of the parody:



For another funny switch parody, see this:
* WARNING: BAD LANGUAGE *

http://spherule.com/media/video/switch_parody/switched.mov

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

A lot of times people don't know what they want . . .

"It's really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don't know what they want until you show it to them."
-- Steve Jobs ... BusinessWeek Magazine, May 25 1998

Can You Hear That Hungry Lawyers?

As reported by MacMinute:

Apple provides volume limit setting for iPod

Apple today announced a software update for the iPod nano and fifth generation iPod, allowing customers to easily set their own personal maximum volume limit. The software update also gives parents the ability to set a maximum volume limit on their child's iPod and lock it with a combination code. "As the leading provider of digital music players, Apple continuously brings iPod customers innovative and easy to use solutions," said Greg Joswiak, Apple's vice president of Worldwide iPod Product Marketing. "With the increased attention in this area, we want to offer customers an easy to use option to set their own personal volume limit."


I wonder if the the people suing Apple for potential hearing loss will settle now? It will certainly prove if they are money hungry or not.

Interesting to say the least.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The Wording Of The Ruling

Found here:

“The companies [Apple Computer & Apple Corps Records] clashed again in 1989 after Apple Computer introduced a music-making program. The computer company settled in 1991, for $26 million. Apple Corps was awarded rights to the name on ‘Creative works whose principal content is music’ while Apple Computer was allowed ‘goods and services . . . used to reproduce, run, play or otherwise deliver such content’.”

Are Bloggers Journalists? The Courts Seem To Think So. OR Oops Did I Just Lose Apple's Lawsuit Against Think Secret?



Yesterday, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) determined that:

Bloggers would be entitled to the same exemption from the campaign finance law that newspapers and other traditional forms of media receive. A blogger can report news and state political opinion as well as any news reporter.


"There will be no second class citizens among members of the media," The FEC Chairman said

In a recent court hearing concerning my BLOG and a story I did about an eBay dropoff company back in January of this year, the Judge made an interesting reference:

Gregg Leslie, legal defense director for The Reporters Committee For Freedom Of The Press, says that asking whether bloggers are journalists is the wrong question. "Bloggers is a vague amorphous term like telephone users", he says. "Just like some telephone users are journalists and some are not; the same thing with Bloggers. The medium doesn't answer the question. It has to do more with the function that the person is performing. That's how we approached the shield law question. If the Bloggers' involvement is to report information to the public and to gather information for that purpose openly then they should be treated like a journalist.

"There should be a functional analysis in addition to or instead of the current analysis of what medium you are writing in, " Leslie said.


As the courts have confirmed what makes journalism journalism is not the format but the content," says Kurt Opsahl (attorney for the EFF). Where news is gathered for dissemination to the public, it is journalism - regardless of whether it is printed on paper or distributed through the internet"


My judgement ended with the following:

Based upon the foregoing, this court finds that the defendant's function was to provide "news reporting or news commentary" in his articles about Bidzirk. Wherefore ... the plaintiffs may not obtain injunctive relief [against Jackwhispers]. Accordingly, this court recommends that the plaintiff's motion be denied.


My conundrum is ... did I help Think Secret win against Apple? Probably not ... as what I report here on this BLOG is legally obtained unprotected information (not so with trade secrets as Think Secret reports).

I report through exposition and analysis of the news. I have broken several stories on this site and I have also maintained an alternative stance to many of the issues in a "news behind the news" sort of way.

And that's the news ... readers ... back to you!

eBay: The auction gavel is a court gavel this week.




The Supreme Court will hear opening arguments tomorrow (Wednesday, March 29th 2006).

Attorneys for eBay and the small e-commerce company MercExchange will meet and debate whether eBay should cease usage of the 'Buy it Now' feature. MercExchange claims it holds two patents on this "technology".

The case is being closely watched to see what the court system can do for patent holders to get an injunction against infringing parties from using their technologies.

Software companies contend that they may be held for ransom by owners of questionable patents. Drug companies oppose the weakening of patent rights ... claiming investment in new medicines and drug research would dry up.

This ruling will also be of importance to Jeff Bezos (AMAZON.COM founder & CEO) as he owns hundreds of patents concerning methodology for ecommerce ... including ONE CLICK BUYING.

Patents are at a unique point in history where ideas, thoughts, commonalities of everyday living, and obvious structure of common activities are being allowed by the US Patent System (and other patent repositories worldwide).

The concept of 'Buy It Now' is simple and in my mind is common thought ... I want it now, click, end the auction, click, pay for the auction.

I own 3 patents and I am very much in favor of a patent system ... but I play by the rules of rational thought. My patents are not for ideas, but for physical products ... and in turn a methodology describing the uniqueness of the idea and it's use.

Whole companies are being formed (or in some cases dissolved into) intellectual property holders ... companies that don't physically produce or associate with product or trademark & copyright, but exist solely to litigate with patent. Many opponents on the website slashdot claim SCO is such a company.

SCO claims to own portions of the Linux operating system (and it's underlying UNIX codebase) and is battling IBM and others in a lengthy court battle. The "OS components" that SCO claims they own are natural core extensions of the OS that ANY programmer would have to include. The components are more of an idea. Almost like being able to patent 2+2=4. SCO doesn't own an interface, they don't own a GUI, they don't own a unique functionality. They were granted a patent for a common thought or extension of mathematical thought.

MercExchange seems to be the same way ... granted a patent for nothing more than a common thought.

A Riddle: What 3 Applications Should Never Be Put Side By Side In The Dock?

So, I have several female clients in my Apple Technical Service & Repair biz ... some of which are very sexy single (or wishing to be) middle aged women.

A week ago ... I got in an Apple laptop to upgrade the hard drive.

This female client wanted three main applications in the dock on her PowerBook . . .

Quicken
Entourage
Excel


Can you figure out why these applications placed in the order above in the dock is an insinuating message?

AGAIN ... the order in the dock from left to right was Quicken Entourage Excel.

And see if you can get it without scrolling through the comments ... just post your answer to the comments.

UPDATE: THE ANSWER IS BELOW ... Quicken has a $ for a dock icon, Entourage an E, Excel = X

I did the same with skype, explorer, excel:

Monday, March 27, 2006

Coming Soon ... To A Blog Near You



Within the next week I will be starting a new four part series on Movies.

I love movies ... I like going to big theaters and seeing the advance midnight screening of blockbuster movies.

That said ... over the last two years my moviegoing experience has been somewhat disappointing. I don't attribute this to poor quality, lackluster creativity of scripts, or even higher prices. Mostly ... the moviegoing experience can be narrowed down to one basic problem ... the theater chains.

Cost cutting, political correctness, and consolidation of theater chains have contributed to sour experiences.

Here's an interesting article from last summer that I will draw a few reference points from:

Why Is Movie Theater Attendance Declining


This article mentions several contributing factors:

1) Social factors eroding theater environment (talking, cell phones, babies crying, etc.);

2) Sacrificing long term relationships w/ theater-goers for an increase in short term profitability (commercials, no ushers, etc.);

3) Higher quality experience elsewhere (home theater);

4) Declining quality of mainstream movies;

5) Easily available alternatives (Netflix, Amazon);

6) Price;

7) Demographics: Aging babyboomers simply go out to movies less.

This article mentions the apparent "out of touch" reason the Movie Picture Association Of America (MPAA) thinks attendance is declining ... piracy.

The above linked article is well written, but it mostly discusses disenfranchised viewers through commercials. (Theater chains showing too many commercials before the film starts) I use the term term disenfranchised ... because the article makes it appear as if the moviegoer doesn't have an option and must live with the mediocre experience Hollywood and theater chains throw our way. I hope to offer some solutions for this problem in my article ... I also plan to mail a copy of the article to the major movie theater chains.

Truthfully, I believe these are the main contributing factors to declining movie attendance:

1) Social factors eroding theater experience (talking, cell phones, babies crying, etc.)

2) No ushers and/or chaperones (which could stop #1)

3) No enforcement or clarification of rules (which would negate #1 & #2) over time

4) Theater chains being too politically correct to realize the need for #2, & #3

5) Declined discipline in schools and at home

6) Obtuse political message & agenda movies

7) Overhyped & Underhyped movies

Piracy, alternative viewing methods, and alternative content providers have so little to do with declining movie theater attendance that it's laughable that the MPAA thinks these are contributing factors.

In this series of articles, I will discuss several personal experiences, show some extensive research I've done on this topic, and then relate it all back to Apple Computer.

Bug Spray For The Beatles? Beatles vs Apple in court this week.

As reported by Macminute:

Apple vs Apple

The Beatles' Apple Corp and Apple Computer are due in court this Wednesday over the use of the "Apple" name, reports Macworld UK. "The case was filed July 4, 2003 in the UK High Court. Apple is accused of breaching a 1991 agreement over the use of the Apple trademark and the computer companies move into music services," notes the story. "After years of legal cut and thrust the case goes to trial this week. Apple Corps wants Apple Computer to stop using the Apple brand in association with its music products and to pay damages."


I really don't see how the Beatles have a case here. No one associates Apple Corps records with Apple Computer. I would venture to say that it helps to strengthen the name if anything.

I also have seen that Paul McCartney has been all buddy buddy with Steve Jobs and iTunes ... why can't Apple ever leverage their support for these people as a means to a settlement?



After all the Beatles ARE on the iTunes Music store ... so ... are the Beatles self fulfilling their own case against Apple?

Friday, March 24, 2006

Finally ... the US Government Sees It Apple's Way

Briefly:

US Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez, was questioned on CNBC about the French law allowing citizens to strip DRM and requiring companies sellling Digital Rights Managed music to open up their security so French citizens could use songs on any device:

[The US government has now declared its support for Apple in the company's dispute with France over DRM interoperability.] Gutierrez stated that he would "compliment [Apple] because we need for companies to stand up for their intellectual property rights". At issue is a draft law that would require Apple and other companies to open up their DRM to competitors or allow consumers to do so on their own, so that music purchased in an online music store could be played in any manufacturer's digital audio player. If you remember, Apple referred to the French bill as part of a "state-sponsored culture of piracy." While Guiterrez didn't say whether the US government would do anything specific on Apple's behalf, he did say that it's a good policy to "have the government work with other governments."


I still think the United nations should also step in ... one nation should not be allowed to undermine another in such a manner.

See also:

Fix Your Thinking

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Real Question: What's the Oldest MP3 On Your iPod or Hard Drive?


Yesterday Businessweek columnist Arik Hesseldahl posted a story asking what the oldest song you had on your iPod was ... suggesting Apple should use an original date of release tag ... complaining that a song that was released in the 1800's was noted as released in 2005 in a compilation.

I think this is kinda picky (the author even says so himself) ... if he knows the information ... he should just put it in himself.

His complaint was that it's hard to search for date of release under the current format.

I think a more interesting question is ... what is the oldest MP3 file on your hard drive or iPod. I was an early adopter of MP3's. I have been using the files since 1996 on my hard drive and by 1998 I had several hundred songs on my Wallstreet laptop in the format.

My first MP3 was Sweet Dreams by The Eurythmics ... placed into my MacAmp folder in 1996. The file still has the MacAMP OS9 icon.


A picture of MacAMP in alpha (ran in OS 8.6 in 1996)


What's the oldest MP3 file on your iPod or hard drive?

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

I guess the French didn't like having the most popular legal music downloading service ...

As reported by MacMinute:

France OKs bill opening iTunes, iPod

[The House Representative equivalent] of French lawmakers approved an online copyright bill today that would require Apple to open the proprietary format behind its iTunes music store and iPod players. "The draft law ... would force Apple Computer Inc., Sony Corp. and others to share proprietary copy-protection technologies so that rivals can offer compatible services and players,". French lawmakers approved the bill 296-193. The Senate must now debate and vote on the new legislation, which is expected to begin in May.

Apple has declined comment on ... rumors that the company may pull out of the French online music market altogether. "Under the bill, companies would be required to reveal the secrets of hitherto-exclusive copy-protection technologies such as Apple's FairPlay format and the ATRAC3 code used by Sony's Connect store and Walkman players,"


Here's what would happen... Creative, Napster, and Real would make new headquarters in France. Legally (under French law) disseminate the iTunes DRM and distribute songs worldwide.

Apple should just pull out of the French market.

As I have stated before ... this is honestly an issue of international law that should be looked at with serious United Nations scrutiny. It wreaks of "Payola" or conspiracy in my opinion.

With A Mac ... You Can't Be Fired!



The Apprentice Game


One of my favorite Mac game makers Skunk Studios ... makers of Spelvin... released a new game based on The Apprentice. I was really excited to play ... only to find out ... it only works with Windows.

My biggest hopes for the Intel processor transition is that some enterprising company will come up with a way to just boot from the Game CD itself after installing base files on the Mac or PC ... so that games can be universal ... possibly even applications.

I realize that it wouldn't make sense for small games like this ... but let's examine this proposal closer:

In the near future:

Games could be playable on Macs or PCs through it's own Linux based OS

(Why the Linux community hasn't latched on to this as the future of the platform I can't comprehend.)

Games would be available on multiple platforms immediately ... even PS3 and Xbox ... because these machines are capable of running Linux.

Is this over everyone's head ... can someone clarify this in a laymen way?

On the topic of The Apprentice ... I love this show. It is one of the most educational shows on television ... teaching you about business and how to make money through reality television.

This season has been really good so far... I'd recommend catching it on Mondays at 9PM EST on NBC.

And congratulations to Donald Trump for his new baby ... he and his wife decided on the name Barron Trump ... very fitting.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Can An iPhone Be Apple's Next iPod? Only If They Do It Exactly The Same

Rumors and confirmations of rumors are circulating the various Mac Websites at the moment, contemplating that Apple will release a cell phone by the end of the year.

I think this is very plausible ... in fact I don't see why it hasn't already been done. Or has it?

Many have speculated that Apple was merely testing the waters with the release of the Motorola ROKR; testing to see if a mediocre phone would create buzz and help create a new market segment for phones.



Apple needs to approach this like the MP3 market, when they released the iPod.

Apple should make this for ONLY Mac users at first ... possibly bringing new Mac users just for the purpose of the phone.

The ONLY way this could be a cool phone ... if it has bluetooth AND a front row remote built in + a 4 or 5 megapixel camera.

It's not just time for Apple to have a phone ... but a good camera again.



It needs to have VOIP and Apple needs to work with Skype to have it preloaded onto the phone with an even easier interface than it currently sports.

Of course this new phone will have the standard dock connector as iPods have had for 2 1/2 years now. (Can you say iTrip as a handsfree?) And obviuosly iPhoto will become just as important as iTunes.

This is why Apple needs to make it for Mac Users at first (almost every Mac user will buy one) ... then just as it did with the iPod, on a second revision release iPhoto for Windows as well ... thereby releasing the phone to the masses as well.

The Quicktake camera was cross platform by nature of the removable storage. This new phone/camera/Mp3 player should be great on Windows ... amazing on the Mac.

It's time for Apple to show the cellphone companies, just like it showed the Mp3 makers, how cellphones are done right.

Microsoft & eBay: Teaming Up To Form End It Now!

END IT NOW


Microsoft & eBay announced a new partnership over the weekend ...

Apparently this partnership is to help stop the spread of piracy of Microsoft products on the auction website; eBay.

I have to tell you ... I have offered several legitimate copies of MS Office for both Macs & PCs over the years on eBay ... greater than 75% of these auctions have been ended by Microsoft. It's very annoying to have your auction ended without warning or clarification. Often ... when eBay ends your auction, they don't give you a chance to clarify or change the auction. eBay removes it completely ... where you can't even change it and relist it. This is why I keep a folder of Textedit documents with templates for all my auctions ... since I often relist the same or similar things.

I believe this partnership takes an existing relationship further. Because ... as far as I am aware, Microsoft has had the ability to end anyone's auctions as they see fit. I believe this partnership actually places Microsoft employees at eBay headquarters and possibly paid/subsidized by both.

I don't like companies having access to eBay that are NOT eBay. I feel as if this is eBay's job. I feel as if there areseveral things eBay could do to make buying and selling safer ...

Had you read this?

Dear eBay, I've Found The Most Incredible Way To Stop Scammers

Friday, March 17, 2006

Apple's Getting All Innovative On Us Again



This new iPod ad is nothing short of the coolest yet advertising iPods:

http://www.apple.com/ipod/ads/

Quick Drama: Things Of Interest That Don't Necessarily Need Comment

Here are a coupla headlines that have made their way through the news that don't necessarily merit a lot of editorial commentary, but none the less are interesting:

1) France may allow its countrymen to break iTunes DRM ... why? It's quite ridiculous if you ask me. There are DRM free options out there already ... I honestly think this is something the United Nations should look in to. This is allowing one nation to undermine the rules and regulations of another ... and also have a law that thumbs its nose in the face of other nations where iTunes (and it's business model w/DRM) is doing quite well. iTunes would not be possible without the DRM. Like it or not ... the RIAA wouldn't allow songs that common people could just swap freely.

The most ironic thing about all of this ... what idiot can't burn a CD from iTunes ... then rip the song back using iTunes ... just converting the song to an MP3? Really, is there anyone who doesn't know how to do this or at least can't follow these instructions:

Download iTunes song

Put in Playlist

Change preferences to burn Audio CD

Change preferences to encode at 192 bitrate

Burn Audio CD

Import Songs from ^ Burned CD

Voila!

That sounds like it might be involved ... this is less than a 1 minute process on most modern Macs and PCs

2) Other World Computing Buys Powerlogix ... I just think this is interesting ... I have a new perspective on Larry O Conner (Owner of OWC) after meeting him at Macworld Expo this past January. I still maintain that he is the king of acquisition and deals. This headline is more interesting than just the press release it received ... it really shows that Apple is truly making dents into the upgraders and since there can't be a path for G5 upgrades ... the Upgrade Processor Manufacturers business models were running out of time. With the Intel transition ... everyone can sell processor upgrades. Many websites have already published reports that switching to higher powered Intel processors is not only possible, but easy to do.

3) From a reader eMail:

Hello,

Longtime FYT reader here. I'm just passing this along in case you or a client ever have this problem...

"This is in response to concerns on the whining noise from a Macbook Pro. I got my new Macbook Pro last week and I love it!! The first day I used it for 7 straight hrs.

I noticed a whining noise after 4 hrs of operation. But, it wasn't until I paid good attention to it, as I had read reviews at various websites. Some websites posted solutions. One solution is to turn on photobooth and minimize it. You do not have to keep photobooth running. Open it up, take a snap, click on the pic that shows at the bottom of the window and close the program. The noise stops immediately and does not come back.


Taken from: http://www.glorifiedtypist.com/2006/03/macbook_pro_first_impressions.html [via Daring Fireball]

-Chris-

p.s.: That date story was one of the most freaked-out things I've ever heard in my life.


I suppose this is like a camera activation problem with MacBook ??? Maybe the camera is emitting a charged electrical signal that interferes with the speakers. Just speculation. Good tip though.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!



Happy St. Patrick's Day

Monday, March 13, 2006

The Worst Date Ever For An Apple Tech!

Sorry I couldn't get this posted in time for Valentine's Day ... it was my intention.

My friends have begged me to write this story down for a long time. My best friend claims it's even worth publishing.

I can't really think of a great title for this story, because honestly, the title would be as long as the story itself. It is the most dramatic bad date you'll ever hear of.

_______________________________________

Shortly after I returned to my hometown in 1997, I moved to the local "big city" to try to make a living for myself.

I had always been into Apple Computers. Occasionally, I repaired computers for a little extra money. When I first moved to the "big city" ... I started out selling Apple Computer parts on eBay ... full time. (I still do so today) Through a few matters of circumstance, I became involved with Apple Retail Representation. Through this job, I was able to beta test the PowerBook G3 Wallstreet. This was one of the first laptops with a DVD drive. The main focus of my beta testing was for DVD video.

I loved it.

I had a CD player with a front stereo input installed into my Geo Tracker so I could listen to MP3's through my car stereo. I was pretty far ahead of the curve ... or at least I felt like I was.



I was going to Atlanta (which was about 120 miles away) 3-4 times a week. I was 23 and single. HotORNot.com rated me at 8.5 ... so I suppose you could say I looked pretty suave.

Each trip to Atlanta, I was seeing a rather high profile client to do some Apple service work for them. I charged a very fair rate and sometimes took a colleague along with me. I included a dining and entertainment budget in my compensation proposals each time I made the 240 mile roundtrip. Sometimes, I included overnight stays. Gas, at the time, in Atlanta, was 79 cents a gallon.

For a while, I had been browsing through the personals at a site called MATCH.COM. Since I was travelling a lot to both Atlanta and Charlotte, I thought I would extend my range of searches to 150 miles. This meant that MATCH.COM would return results in the Charlotte NC, Knoxville TN, Greenville SC, and Atlanta GA areas (and everywhere in between). Four states of girls to chose from.

I placed my own personal ad online. There were literally 1000's of results returned to me for my search criteria which were:
Non smoker
5 feet or taller
Athletic build
No children
Spiritual
Not a party animal
Not more than an occasional drinker
My personal ad was something along the lines of:
Let's cut to the chase ... I have a lot of energy ... if something such as ADHD actually exists ... I have it. I like to be active. I like to run and I love to play basketball. I like to hike and I don't mind running upstairs instead of taking the elevator. Can you do any of that? If you can't at least run across a mall parking lot to miss a rain storm ... stop reading.

As for an ideal date ... my idea of an ideal date would involve the two of us making a nice picnic, carrying it to the mountains or to a local park, taking the convertible top off my Tracker, and putting the tarp over the entire car. We would take my laptop, put in a great DVD (yes it has a DVD), connect the audio to my stereo, and have our own private drive-in theater.

You don't have to attend church, but you gotta believe in God. A couple that prays together; stays together.

I like older women too ... I have found in my brief dating experiences that women my age are unsure of themselves and a little too spunky. It's okay to have energy and be different ... it's not okay to be completely different and obnoxious.

My longest relationship lasted 5 years ... so I don't mind commitment, but I won't stay in a sour relationship either. When it's over, it's over.
I had a few responses and what I call "one date wonders". I'm not someone that sleeps around, so none of these dates involved sex.

One night ... I get an instant message from a female in Atlanta. We hit it off pretty quickly. We instant message for right around a month. She tells me she is 28, 138lbs, long blonde hair, and even sends pictures to back up the claims. (If you think you know where this is going ... you're right ... but bear with the story, because it gets interesting.)

After about a month of emails and instant messages, we decide to meet. I had been by a place called Dave and Buster's several times while driving through Atlanta. So, I suggested meeting there ... she said she loved D&B. It was close to another place I was visiting each trip called MediaPlay, so I knew where it was. MediaPlay was one of the first places to carry DVD videos. I bought my first DVD there.

One key element to this story was just revealed to you. I am completely directionless. I have no idea where I am at any point of the day unless I have been there or driven there myself at least 20 times. The fact that I knew where MediaPlay in correlation to Dave & Buster's is key to understanding the nature of this story.

So, after my full day of work ... I head to Dave and Buster's. I'm dressed in a nice pair of khakis, a white dress shirt, and my favorite tie.


Yes, it's a King Kong Tie!

We were to meet at 8PM near the bar area of the main restaurant. I circled the bar noticing women who looked similar for about 45 minutes. No one stopping me, not noting anyone visibly 100% my girl.

At 8:45PM I started to get the "I've been stood up queezy" feeling. I headed for the door. Right as I reached halfway through the parking lot ... my cellphone rings.
"Rus ... this is Paula ... I am sooooooo sorry. I'm across town in the MediaPlay parking lot ... my car is stalled ... will you come get me?"
It didn't hit me at the moment, but remember how I told you I go to MediaPlay with every trip to Atlanta? That plays a key role in this story later.

Kind of feeling wishy washy ... I agree and drive over to MediaPlay ... which is about 5 miles away.

Let me back up for a moment ... I was new to this whole internet dating thing. I was kind of excited, and I really thought that I ... Mr. Tech Savvy could make it work. I had this idea that of all the ways to meet women ... this would be the way I would meet my wife.

I thought my car was cool but modest. I thought my attire was business like, but casual enough. And ... I was armed with my prototype Apple laptop with DVD player.

I also have to back up and say this next part is very atypical of me and my personality. People close to me know that.

So ... I arrive at the MediaPlay parking lot ... it was late October, but because of unseasonably nice weather, I had my convertible top down. I'm kind of weaving through the parking lot when a woman walks right out in front of my car. I almost hit her and have to slam on the brakes. I lean out of the window and say,

"Get out of the way bitch!"

You have to reference my frame of mind to actually know why I was so road raged. I had a long day of work, I wasn't in the most comfortable clothing, and I was slightly ticked off about being stood up.

The woman ... who I almost hit says, "Rus? Hey!"

I say, "Paula? Heyyyyy!"

Not even missing a beat and I suppose not hearing or caring that I called her a bitch, she hops in the car and says, "Well . . . give me a hug"

Now, why did I say that ... remember the description I gave you earlier?

28, 138lbs, long blonde hair, and even sends pictures to back up the claims

Well, this person is visibly 48 (or older), visibly 175 pounds or more, BLEACHED blonde hair (like with lemon juice and Clorox), those large Jewish woman sunglasses, and the worst of all ... a man's plaid shirt ... cinched at the waist with a cloth belt ... and I suppose like a leotard type material over her legs and very high heels. She had bright red lipstick and honestly ... looked nothing like her picture. Frankly, it was embarassing to even be seen with her.



Mike Myers as Linda Richman w/ Jewish Sunglasses


I almost had decided to just call it quits right then and there ... but I was hungry and had not eaten in several hours. For me, who is a diet controlled ADHD ... this wasn't good. Besides ... I really wanted to check out Dave & Buster's ... and I just figured ... I'm game enough ... it can't get any worse ... I just won't see her again.

So ... we drive to Dave & Buster's ... we go to the main restaurant ... sit down and eat dinner. While browsing the menu ... she elects to come nudge in on the same side as me. I told her that made me feel uncomfortable. She moves back to the opposite side.

While waiting for our food she reveals the following details:

1) She is actually 46 ... not 28
2) She wanted me to call her by her online roleplay gaming name; Athena
3) She has 5 children ages: 2,3,4,5,7
4) This is something she loves to do ... meet people from online.
5) The pictures she sent were actually of her former roommate

The details would not have bothered me so much had she not lied and just told me upfront. I probably wouldn't have gone out with her again, but I would have at least gone out with her once ... just for the simple fact that we got along so well on the phone, in email, and instant message.

Plus, body type doesn't bother me, age doesn't bother me, children don't bother me (as long as you can adequately support them) and little quirks like ... calling someone Athena ... well ... I can't look past that ... that's just kooky!

We finish dinner after confronting her about several of these details ... expressing that I was little upset that she wasn't truthful about everything (or anything). She gives little mini whiney apologies.

I stretch my arms over my head and say ..."YAWNNNNNNN ... it's late, I probably should head back home."

She quickly interjects with, "But Rus, I thought you were going to show me how you win at Daytona USA?"

Not one to ever decline to show someone cool technology ... I agree to play a few video games.

Most modern video game arcades have moved away from tokens and quarters to a type of credit card that you swipe at each game to play. Dave & Busters had a center kiosk to purchase these cards.

I walk up to the game card kiosk and Paula (Athena) grabs me by the arm (lovingly) and says, "Oh, I come here all the time ... I already have a card"

There were different levels of cards ranging from $5 to $20 and three premium level cards $100, $250, and $500. Guess which one she had!



I know a little trick for the arcade version of Daytona USA ... the kind where you sit in an actual cockpit with a steering wheel and the seat moves and rumbles on turns ... and you compete against others in the same setup. Anyway, the trick allows you to turn into a race horse. The race is instantly over for all drivers and the race horse car is shown on all the other players screens as the winner.

So ... I get in ... throw my tie over my shoulder and Paula (Athena) swipes her game token credit card in the slot. I select my car and start the race. I see Paula sort of walk away from my car and start to watch all the racers racing against me. I pull off my little trick, win the race, unfasten my seatbelt and get out of the car. Right as I am clear of the car, Paula races towards me ... dives with her legs towards my waist and shouts,


"You won! You won ... MY baby won!"


Now ... for my build ... I'm a pretty strong guy ... but when a 175 pound hippo comes charging towards you and you are in the path of the rampage there's little you can do ... other than fall backward. And ... that's just what happened. In the middle of the floor ... I fell flat on my back ... losing my breath.

I'm on the floor with my face turning red and gasping for breath. With a raspy, choking voice I say, "Paula get off, I can't breathe"

She's on top of me like a mechanical bull ... wildly cheering, "I love you so much I just wanna eat you up" and:


"You won! You won ... MY baby won!"


I'm looking up (flat on my back) ... lack of air has made my vision blurry ... all I can see is this wild cowgirl bucking on top of me and a crowd forming around the spectacle. Momentarily, I catch my breath as someone in the arcade pulls her off of me indicating I was choking.

I get up ... after being asked by a few people, if I was ok ... I walk away like nothing happened. The whole time I could see out of the corner of my eye ... faces of disgust and stares of carnival sideshow freakishness ... I could lip read people as I walked by them saying a very emotional, "Oh my God!".

Again, why I didn't just abruptly end the date there and just ditch her ... well ... I like to not think about that any more.

So ... we head over to the pinball games. I suggest we play the pinball game "Teed Off" ... just coincidence not sarcasm. At the time, I had this same pinball machine in my apartment ... I was quite good at it. When it came time for a match, I was almost sure I would win a free game ... I held my hand up as it matched ... fearing another episode.



After that ... I stretch my my arms over my head and say ..."YAWNNNNNNN ... it's late, I probably should head back home."

As we're leaving and heading back out to my car ... she mentions that I need to take her back to her car at MediaPlay.

I must not have had my head on straight that night ... Why didn't I realize something ... why if she had her purse would she need to go back to a stalled car? Why would I just not take her home? She had mentioned that she lived only a few miles from our present location.

Well, obviously I didn't think of that detail. So, I carry her back to the MediaPlay parking lot. We're there in a few short minutes ... on the way she's just going on and on about how well it's gone and how happy she was to have finally met me.

When I stop my car ... she gets out and says ... I'll be right back. I may be adding a little dramatic detail to her next action, but I could almost swear she went to the car just to think about things, possibly even make a quick phone call ... she looked like she was sighing and breathing hard to build up courage for something.

This whole bit where I was waiting in the car and she was fidgeting in her minivan lasted a good 10 minutes. At this point ... it was about 11 PM.

I beep my horn.

She comes to the driver side and with a pouty voice and says, "Rus, will you do me favor? See over there in the corner, will you take me there?"

Her arm with straight pointed finger was pointing out the corner of the strip mall that contained MediaPlay. I had never noticed the little nook ... with the little door that said, RENT-A-SITTER.

I said, "What is that?"

She said in a "you're a dumbass tone", "What does it look like, Silly? My Kids are there and we need to go pick them up."

I say with a sigh, "Okay"

We drive to the corner of the parking lot, she gets out and goes inside. About 15 minutes later ... she storms out of the front door cursing. In an insistent voice, she says:

"They won't let me have my kids!"

In a sort of doubletake way, I said, "What! Whatta you mean they won't let you have them?"

"They won't let me have my kids!", she repeats.

So, leaving the car running, I march inside. The kids are being prepared for departure with their coats and other accessories being draped on them from cubby holes.

I go up to a large "I used to be man" type woman and say, "What's the deal? Why can't we have the kids?"


RENT-A-SITTER Drill Sergeant says, "Paula can't pay AGAIN!"

I turn to Paula and huff and give her the evil squinty eye look.

Wanting to just end this nightmare ... I ask how much it is.

RENT-A-SITTER Drill Sergeant says, "Six hundred forty dollars!"

Me, "What!"

I was outraged, I was actually prepared to shell out $80 - $100.

After several attempts trying to run her credit card for almost any amount ... I try to negotiate the price down. With not much budging I start to turn to the offensive ... and inform the RENT-A SITTER lady that they can't keep the children. She shows me a Georgia law about child neglect blah blah blah.

To make a long story even longer ... basically I swiped my credit card for $580. That total was 5 children at $20 per hour for ... get this ... 5 hours and a $15 fee per child for picking them up after 11PM and I believe I was charged something like $5 for something extra one of them ate. Somehow, this was discounted.

I slammed the signed receipt back on the counter and informed Paula I would be in the car.

Again, I suppose I should have just sped off. But ... I waited.

Coming out of RENT-A-SITTER ... the kids seemed like ants climbing an ant hill as they piled one by one into my car. The littlest girl, I suppose the 4 year old comes up to me and says in a cute voice, "Thank you Uncle Rusty!"

In a disgusted but sarcastic kind of voice I say, "I'm not your Uncle Rusty" and help her climb with her siblings into the back of the car.

Paula follows.

At this point ... details of reality start to flood my head. I say to Paula,

"We can't transport these kids without safety seats"

Her reply, "Oh, I don't have enough for all of them"

Now midnight and beyond ... I suppose I'm just delirious at this point.

I say, "Well, I'm not carrying them out in the open ... it's close to Halloween, we'll put my tarp over them and they can look like ghosts!

The last thing I wanted to do was get a ticket for "lack of child restraint".

Oddly, she agrees that this is somehow a good plan. So, tarp over children ... good ... and we're off. Vent holes and tears in the tarp made eye holes for some of the taller children. I tucked the tarp in tight around their bodies ... it was a good costume effect.

We only had a few miles to go ... but it was kind of nippy in the air at this point. The kids were whimpering:

"Mommy I'm cold!"

"Mommy it's dark!"

"Mommy I'm scared!"

Perspective: these kids are in the back seat of the car pictured above in 55 degree weather with a 45 mile an hour wind; with a nasty tarp over their heads. If I was a child ... I'd be scarred for life. I think I am.

We arrive at her apartment complex ... I help unload the kids quickly.

I stretch my arms over my head and say with wide eyes and a sarcastic tone..."YAWNNNNNNN ... it's late, I probably should head back home."

She interjects ... like she was using Kryptonite on me and said,

"But Rus, I thought you were going to show me the DVD on your laptop? Show me just like you said you would in your personal ad ... puhlease!!!"

Reference ... at the time I had very few if any people interested in DVDs and the multitude of portable players didn't exist as they do today. It was truly amazing ... especially for a movie buff like me.

Still ... I insisted no ... "the date" was over.

With her whining in the parking lot and realizing that I might literally pass out from exhaustion (and possibly near death strangulation) if I were to drive home ... I figured I'd play along and possibly get a small rest.

I tell her to be no more than 15 minutes putting the children to bed. I set up the car.

I plugged my Wallstreet G3 laptop into my car stereo ... check. I set the Powerbook on the dashmount I made for it ... check. I pulled the tarp from around the children and draped it over my Tracker ... check.

Sort of dark in the car ... the movie started. I only had a few movies ... I decided on The Game w/ Micheal Douglas & Sean Penn.


Titlewise ... I wasn't thinking ... I just liked the movie. Well ... about 20 minutes pass. I'm in and out of conciousness (drift sleeping).

I want to stress a few things again. I don't sleep around. So if you think I was trying to salvage some sex out of this ... think again. I also don't drink. So no alchohol influence was involved here either. I had just never thought anything like this was possible or could get worse. If there's one thing I have finally learned this year ... it is this ... it can always get worse, but usually the bad things in life are lessons in maturity.

Back to the story ... after about 20 minutes ... she comes back to the car, lifts up the tarp, closes the door, and quickly adjusts her seat reclined.

Right about that time, (onscreen) Micheal Douglas takes a blonde into his arms and starts to make wild love to her in a remote cabin.

Inspiration to Paula, she leaps over the center console and wedges herself between me and the steering wheel.

"What are you doing?", I say angrily.

"I love you so much I just wanna eat you up" she keeps repeating as she's wet kissing me with open mouthed dog tongued kisses.

I don't know what to do ... I force my forearm to her throat. Which was hard to maneuver anyway. I keep saying, "Paula get off of me" I start to say it louder and with a little more pressure.

Which reminds me of another Micheal Douglas film.


Right then ...

"KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK ... open up please!"
*On the window from outside through the tarp

I suppose it sounded like wild love making ... the short wheel base and weight of what was going on was rocking the car.

I figured it was the police. I started to whisper for Paula to get off of me.

I say, "Who is it?"

"KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK ... open up please!"
*On the window from outside through the tarp

Again, "Who is it?"

"Just open up!"
*I hear from outside through the tarp and driver window

"Hold on a sec!"

With the Titanic on top of me ... I reach with my left hand for the window crank and roll down the window. I reach outside and pull up the tarp.

A guy says, "Honey, when are you gonna bring him up?"

I had had enough!!!!

With more strength and adrenaline than I think I have ever had in my whole life ... I opened the door ... unwedged her and literally threw her down into the parking lot. There was cursing in that somewhere I'm sure.

I threw my Tracker into reverse and sped out of the parking lot ... running over the curb as I peeled out. My laptop flew off the dash, the tarp flew out into the parking lot like a parachute off my car.

I immediately called my best friend from high school to tell him the news. He couldn't believe it. I told him I was coming to see him ... he agreed that I needed the therapy.

I drove all the way from Atlanta Georgia to Charlotte NC at 1:30AM that night.

I arrived at my best friends house having been on the phone with him for the 4 hour trip. I quickly fall asleep at his place and then head back home around 10AM or so to my hometown about 100 miles away.

When I arrive back at my apartment which was very close to an interstate ... all over my door are post it notes:

"RUSTY I LOVE YOU"

"RUSTY I MISS YOU"

Spelled out on individual post its: "R-U-S ... I L-U-V U"

"RUSTY MY LEG IS OKAY"

"RUS MY PHONE NUMBER IS .............."

"RUSTY I'M ACROSS THE STREET AT THE MICROTEL HOTEL"

I decide to walk out of my place carefully (snooping and afraid) ... I walk the long way to see the Microtel Hotel. Sure enough ... same Minivan from the night prior that was "stalled" ... sitting right there in the parking lot.

I call the cops. I watch from across the street with a police officer as they question her in the parking lot. They radio over and ask me to positive ID her. I say, "Yes that's her!"

The police officer suggests I take out a restraining order. I do so (for $35).

Over the next 2 1/2 months I receive daily emails from different free email domains ... same messages as on the door. Some of them clarifying details about "recruiting" people from the internet for threesomes with her and her husband, the bump that I thought was "the curb" when I peeled out of the parking lot ... was actually her leg, etc etc.

I blocked as many of the email addresses in my yahoo account as I could. I eventually just switched to a slightly different spelling of my email alias.

The End!

That was some good therapy.... hope you enjoyed the story ... all true, with no exaggerations.

Please feel free to gimme some of your worst date stories or how being geeky has helped you find Mr. or Ms. Right!

[UPDATE March 2007] I'm very happy to report that this story won "Best Of Technology Writing 2007" and was published in a collection … buy it here:

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Take 3 Minutes To Read About A Bogus 30 Minutes in Apple History

As some of you may have read ... last week a Swedish website claims to have put a Mac Mini online and challenged it's readers to "hack" into it ... the website claimed the contest only lasted 30 minutes ...

Well, it appears that a few mac websites (including this one) have asked for proof ...

The owner replies to the most obvious questions:

1) Can I look at a copy of the system logs and the root shell history?

2) Did any part of the system you placed online have a generic directory?

I will consolidate responses received by this and other websites such as Macs-Only.

"No, [you can't view the logs] ... there's nothing in them anyway."

His refusal to post the logs or share them leads me to believe that he's hiding something.

"There is a directory on the Mac Mini called "everything.log" which is accessible only by a root account."

This is just stupid ... this "everything.log" was used as an obvious back door ... almost as a "start here" sign.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Apple Changing It's Name To Khaye Computer?

The Hindi word for apple is khaye.

In a somewhat related to story to yesterday about Apple possibly outsourcing AppleCare ... apparently now they are outsourcing customer support as well.

According to Macworld:

Apple to set up tech support center in India

Apple is setting up a technical support center in Bangalore, India, according to a report Thursday in a local Indian newspaper.

Apple will hire 1,500 staff at the technical center by the end of this year, according to The Times of India newspaper. The center will have 3,000 staff at the end of next year


The article mentions that many large technology companies have support centers in India. Yeah Apple ... apparently you aren't listening to everyone complain about Dell and BellSouth phone support.

Do they really not pay attention to all of the jokes about Indian phone support?

One of the things I have always liked about Apple is that you got someone that spoke English well ... even when I have been transferred to a call center in Ireland. The Irish support associates will joke with you and make you feel at ease calling. The Indian associates are hard to understand and are very scripted ... making them sound uncaring and unresponsive.

This is a bad khaye!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Do you have a Mac? No! Then Never Mind! What's up with this (916) 399-7992 number claiming to be Apple?



My best friend got a weird call from a California today ...

Weird in the sense that the number (916) 399 7992 ... if called back ... purports to be Apple Computer.

He immediately called me and asked me what I thought about the call.

He typed the conversation out for me verbatim:

My best friend answers the ring:" Hello, this is (name)"

(916) 399-7992 says: "Are you the owner of a Mac Mini? "

My best friend says: " No I'm not"

(916) 399-7992 says: " Oh, okay"

My best friend says: "I did used to own a Mac mini but I don't anymore. It was several months ago. "

(916) 399-7992 says: " Yes, it was about a year. You had entered "Mac User" as your user name."

My best friend says: " Why do you ask? Did you need something?"

(916) 399-7992 says: " It doesn't matter, you don't own it anymore. It doesn't matter"


My best friend adds this:

"This phone call, from someone that I didn't know from a number that I did not recognize, unnerved me to a degree. What did they want if I DID own it still? I had set it up for a customer of mine and didn't know what name they wanted in it, hence the "Mac User" name instead of my name. I entered my phone number in probably out of habit and assumed that the new user would change it."

After the phone call terminated, I was troubled by all the questions I had, particularly why this person did not identify themselves. I remember that the friend I had given it to [your friendly fixyourthinking Editor] ... to sell had sold it to someone and never gotten fully paid for it, so I thought that might be an issue.

When I called the phone number back I could not get a person, only a recording that ultimately referenced the Apple Store."

___________________________________


Here is the exact wording from the voicemail message that you get:

"Thank you for calling Apple Computer, from time to time we contact customers to introduce them to new products or services. Our call to you is to let you know about Mac OS Ten Tiger, the iMac G5, and AppleCare Protection Plan. To learn more about these and other exciting Apple products, please hang up and call 1-800-MY-APPLE or visit www.apple.com."


Apple hasn't promoted the iMac G5 since mid-January ... it is now almost mid-March. It seems suspicious that they would not have changed the message to say ... the new iMac Core Duo.

I googled the number and surprisingly came up with a couple of forums and blogs that are discussing the phone call and the weird circumstances regarding the caller and the number.

Macrumors forums discussing this number

I couldn't believe what I was reading ... it sounds like to me [conspiracy theory] that the AppleCare/Registration database had been compromised.

Various people apparently have been getting these calls since April of 2004. Yes ... 2004!

I'm writing this article today to hopefully get some real answers to this weird situation and get an answer from Apple for the reason behind the calls and the unprofessional callers making them OR maybe to put a stop to some fraudulent activity.



Apple, must by law [in many states including my own] be upfront with who they are by name and by company if they are a telemarketer, business, or charity.

If you go to switchboard.com and do a phone number reverse lookup you get nothing for:

916 399-7992

But for an actual Apple number that I was referenced in a case number for Apple Customer relations:

512 674-2000

I get the following information from switchboard.com:

Apple Computer Inc
12545 Reata Vista Circle
Austin TX 78727

ALL Apple numbers that I know of come up as being owned by Apple Computer Inc.

The other interesting find is that the number appears to be from Elk Grove, Califormia [in the 916 telephone area code] ... an Apple warehousing location.

So, I put a call into Apple Customer relations at 1-800-SOS-APPL. I was connected with a customer service associate named Les. He agreed that the story of this number sounded at the least, inappropriate ... he promised to call me back after a few minutes of investigation ... he called me back and escalated the case to a higher tier.

I will update this when I receive my next word back from Apple Customer Relations.

My best guess [non conspiracy theory] is that Apple may be outsourcing AppleCare renewals out to a third party. This third party isn't corporate ... so therefore may be unprofessional and unscripted in their tactics and telemarketing skills. If this is the case I am very disappointed in Apple for doing this ... giving out customer information to "shady unprofessional" businesses.

I'm kinda with my friend on this one ... I want Apple to give him more than just a "we took care of it" call ... he really is owed an explanation and an apology. If the Apple registration database has been hacked into ... this issue might deserve more press.

Have any of you had one of these strange calls?

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Briefly: None At All

Briefly, I wanted to cover the Mac sysadmin at University of Wisconsin Madison, Dave Schroeder, who set up a Mac mini as a "hacking" challenge to see if anyone could compromise a Mac OS X 10.4.5 system.

The test is now over and the results have been published ... with some very interesting results I might add. (All positive with no successful break in)

UWM Hack Contest/Results

I did want to stress something interesting about this test ...

One ... it did not offer a prize ... a very important distinction

Two ... most Mac OSX users DO NOT have Tiger with all updates applied as this system had

Three ... the test was only 38 hours long. It would have seemed more credible to leave it up for 2 weeks.

Four ... I do believe no matter what system ... even Mac OS 9.2.2 that no one would have broken in or been able to take the system over.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

iPod Video Prototype For Sale On eBay?

A Video iPod prototype has surfaced on eBay.

I say surfaced, because it isn't really for auction. The "seller" is trying to auction a high resolution image that he claims to have created of the iPod Video.

First, I think this falls under the "intangible items" clause for things you can't sell on eBay.

Second, I doubt this author actually created this image.

Third, this image can be found on just about every Tech News & Apple rumor site out there ... so you'd have to be an idiot to bid.

Here is "the seller's"full description:

iPOD VIDEO with TOUCHSCREEN PROTOTYPE DIGITAL IMAGE
2048px x 1536px

This will be the next iPod.

Winner Will receive JPG, GIF, PNG, and PSD File formats for this iPod Video with Touchscreen image!



Get yours now before we run out!!!

Will be shipped for FREE to winner's email address

WINNER GETS A FULL SIZE IMAGE WITH FULL IPOD WITH A CLOSER VIEW!!!

BID QUICK! THIS IS A HOT ITEM!

The seller's eBay ID is listed as bioscar

Hard to know whether that means: BI-OSCAR ... BIO-SCAR...BIOS-CAR...or ...B-I-OSCAR

The watermark on the image is bioscar.com.

Looking up the WHOIS information for BIOSCAR.COM yields false/dummy information. (which is against ICANN rules)

From The ICANN website:

Information and Its Use.You hereby acknowledge and agree that, in connection with your use of Domain Registry Services you are required to provide certain information and to promptly correct and update this information as needed to keep it current, complete and accurate.


Rumor sites should find the IP address of the seller and never accept "news/rumors" from this guy again if he is the author of the image. But for some reason ... I think this "artist" is a thief.

But Didya Do It? Apple needs to give these "Virus Drag Racers" a ticket!

Many websites are reporting about a "hacker contest" that was recently held in Sweden under very suspicious terms and conditions.

CNet reports on the competition set up by a Sweden-based Mac site called "rm-my-mac". [You know ... that famous site! ...cough cough]

The competition involved setting up a Mac mini as a server and invited hackers to break in and gain root control.

In actuality, users were allowed to have access to create their own accounts on the machine through a web interface that the "rm-my-mac" site created.

Supposedly, the winner identified as "Gwerdna", claims that he exploited a "vulnerability that has not yet been made public or patched by Apple Computer." (And claims he won in under 30 minutes!)

Arstechnica exposed the contest and the claimed "unpatched/unkown" exploit further. Their investigation revealed that the contest was suspiciously rigged in that it didn't represent an entirely remote exploit:

From Arstechnica:

The web site author had enabled SSH [which a VERY HIGH % of Mac users users do NOT have enabled] ... and added a web-based interface [which a VERY HIGH % of Mac users users do NOT have] so that visitors to the site could add their own shell accounts to the system. These shell accounts were given limited user access, so in theory they should not have been able to access or modify any files that were owned by the system or by other accounts. The hacker used a vulnerability in OS X to promote the privileges of this account, thus "gaining root" and becoming able to modify any file on the computer at will.




The University of Wisconsin has posted a rebuttal challenge due to [in their words] "woefully misleading" reporting of this contest and the terms and conditions of its setup:

"...this machine was not hacked from the outside just by being on the Internet. It was hacked from within, by someone who was allowed to have a local account on the box."

I honestly think its time Apple stepped in and warned people about the consequences of hacking. I think it's time they warned websites that these "hacker contests" are actually illegal. These are essentially "hit men for hire" contests promoting its participants to hack ... hacking without SPECIFIC AUTHORIZATION and EMPLOYMENT to do such is illegal.

Think of it this way.

This is much like a contest asking participants to speed as fast as they can under traffic camera speed traps ... telling anyone who gets through without a ticket wins a prize!

There are legal ways and legal means that you could technically speed and could technically not get a ticket ... IE ... doing a documentary (that was cleared by the city where the the traffic camera was located). I also suppose you could be an emergency vehicle and break the law.

Point is ... these sites that are suspiciously posting virus threats, virus contests, and bogus news about Apple viruses are doing nothing more than ruining the fun at the expense of their own 15 minutes of "hit fame" for their websites.

What are the consequences?

- The Mac could become more difficult to use.

- Possibly less people using Macs will connect to the internet regularly ... thus skewing stats and hurting Apple

- Drastically affect sales of Apple computers to switchers who think Mac OS is safer (and bogusly think that Apple Computers are not safe)

I work in a PC shop as the Apple guy ... just yesterday I was promoting a Mac for sale ... saying that one feature of the Mac is that you don't have the adware, spyware, and viruses that PCs have. One of the owners piped up (in front of my customer) and said, "...but what about all the news those viruses have been getting for Macs lately?" See? See how the uninformed or the ignorant are portraying this?

He was of course referring to these stories:

This worm has teeth

Rumor has it; the 1st Mac Virus is in town

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Every time Windows XP Is Sold; God Kills A Kitten!

I just saw a local TV news segment that had alarming statistics about our local animal shelter. Most statistics involved cats. A high number of cats are put to sleep each year. However, the local animal shelter would have you believe that this is abnormal and that adoptions are down. The reality is that dead cats don't sell for as much as live cats. What do I mean? Am I being insensitive?

Euthanized cats are actually big business. What the animal shelters don't tell you is that research and makeup companies buy euthanized cats to experiment with and produce high quality makeup. It's just that a dead cat is sold for pennies per pound and a live cat is sold for more money at adoption.

While I don't like to see any cat or dog put to sleep; it certainly is a part of society and isn't out of control (yet). The blame falls on humans, not for euthanizing or adopting enough, but irresponsibility to spay or neuter their animals.

My personal opinion is that one should have to qualify to have a pet, much as a weapon. Animals are high maintenance and should be treated much like children ... with careful supervision and proper medical care. The average person can't afford that.

Sort of related ... I was once in Washington DC viewing a WW1 exhibit about American propoganda during the World War I and ration times. One of the posters, promoting carpooling, had a ghosted version of Hitler in the passenger seat. The caption read:

If you ride alone, you ride with Hitler!

Whenever I see a carpooling lane I think of that.

So, I photoshopped an image for you!