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Weeds 1 and House 3

I love movies and some series television. Tuesday is the day that the new releases to DVD come out. I get my movies in Wide Screen Format for that day where I actually get one of those 40-42” LCD TV’s. (Here is a tip when snuffling the bargain bin: check the format Full Screen vs Wide Screen)
I didn’t get out until friday, as I was looking for House 3.
weeds1.jpg What I found was Weeds – Season One Weeds is a very funny series. The premise is an upscale suburban widow who gets into reefer dealing to make the payments, and support her family since her husband died. If you never inhaled, this show will make no sense to you. For the rest of you, this is a very funny show that you can appreciate straight. Mary Louise Parker is outstanding as a PTA karate mom, and her supporting cast and customers, her CPA, Lawyer, and her connection, make for some plots and writing that is really outstanding. Around 283 minutes of fun.
Yes, I am coming late to the party, since I have basic cable, Weeds is a Showtime production, but because of DVD, I can get with the program…. The only downside is this is presented in full screen format. What ever were they thinking?
You can get it here: Weeds – Season One

I picked up House 3 which is why I went out in the first place. House is one of the very few shows currently in production from the big 4 broadcast networks that is actually worth the time.

iPhone Unlocked – the continuing failure to understand ones and zeros

The latest darling of the technoid digerati, the iPhone, has been unlocked!! (Endgadget Report)! Took 2 months, which is very good considering needing 5-600 bucks to play,(the cost of an iPhone), and the possibility of turning it into a paperweight.

Normally unlocking these gadgets requires you to take them apart, muck about inside, and hope for the best when you turn them on. Which limits these types of hacks. However, in this case, the folks at iPhonesimfree.com have developed a software solution making this a much more useful unlock.

Apple and AT&T are having a cow right now, and are cranking up the lawyers to whack a mole over this 17 year old kid. Probably a DMCA suit. Like DVD John did with DeCSS. This is a typical response to having an adolescent take your multi million dollar revenue pipeline, and blowing a big hole in it.

Every electronic device that does anything, is controlled by software consisting of ones and zeros. Figure out how it barks like a dog, move the ones and zeros around, make it quack like a duck.

The iPhone is a device. A communication device. Apple is harvesting the fruits of it’s well deserved reputation of amazing design, and is commanding a premium for it’s iPhone currently, but like every other communication device and electronic gizmo, the race to commodity status is on, with every electronic manufacturer on the planet, moving to market. Apple was smart enough to port it’s OS to run on Intel machines, which will bear fruit much longer than the iPhone.

AT&T in particular, and the other phone companies in aggregate on the other hand, has learned nothing about communication, ignoring it’s own history, (remember Capt. Crunch and phone phreaking?), still insisting that they can build walled garden networks, and charge by the bit, which they have spent an enormous amount time and effort, figuring out how to collect and list that information. 300 page phone bills indeed!

At the end of the day, today and tomorrow, it is ones and zeros. Connect the dots…..

Extra Edition

Student cracks Government’s $84m porn filter

Read all about it

Porn for Remodelers

Remodeling is just like sex. You want to do it all the time, you want to do it well, and you fantasize about it when you can’t. You don’t have to admit it here, I can see your face reddening and your head gently nodding. Yeah it’s that good!

Since I can’t afford to do it all the time I read remodeling porn

Catastrophic Liquidity Event and the Mortgage Market

Today’s Oxymoron comes from the world of Wall Street.

Catastrophic Liquidity Event!

In the world of Wall Street this is where you lose all your money, and/or you make promises you can’t keep.

In this case, Bank of America is riding to the rescue of CountryWide Mortgage. This gem was found at Marketwatch :

“We believe that Countrywide Financial still faces many near-term challenges. But the influx of cash and capital reduces the potential for a catastrophic liquidity event, in our view,” Wachovia told clients early Thursday. “Recent actions also suggest that the Federal Reserve is willing to provide liquidity despite lingering inflation concerns.”
Source: Marketwatch ‘Bank of America invests $2 bln in Countrywide’

As i mentioned above, a ‘cle’ is where big companies can’t pay their bills. This is part of the current mortgage market meltdown. What is happening is a lot of folks got home loans under less than prime lending conditions, Interest Only for a limited term, Variable Rate and a variety of payment schemes to get folks on the books.

NINJA loans (No Income, No Job and No Assets) are my personal favorites. Here is the deal. The guys that packaged these deals were using other peoples money, and got a fee for running paper around. They would create a loan based of a value number of the property, that had almost no basis in reality outside, of cubicles. The mortgage guy would fund the loan and put this on the books as an asset at that value, which would allow them to bundle these up and sell more paper against that value. Those guys would bundle a bunch of those papers and sell them to somebody else. Everybody’s books looked good.

A lot of these were based on the income stream from the folks who are in the homes. You know, the folks who got mortgages.  This is a reasonably straight forward, money for stuff investment deal.

The problems are coming home to roost as these mortgages are resetting to a fixed mortgage, which provides sticker shock like having your privates plugged into wall sockets. During the Interest Only period, your payment is low, but when it converts, not only do you have the interest payment, but also the principal which you have done nothing toward reducing, which now makes you a prime candidate for your own personal Catastrophic Liquidity Event.

Since you have no money, for your new payment, the market value has tanked, foreclosure is moments away. Your mortgage banker isn’t interested in refinancing, as his books have taken a hit, nobody else wants to buy this paper, and the Government isn’t interested in your plight at this point.

The lenders are not concerned with your plight, or this problem, despite being the majority player in this meltdown, they want their money. When you stop making your house payment, it becomes a non performing loan, which is bad. No money for the lender, and cash tied up in reserves.

They are publicly traded companies, who issue forecasts on their income, to keep their shareholders happy and the stock price up. Their problem is to keep the share price up, by getting the non performing loans off the books. Having already written a check with their mouths that their assets can’t cash, Like Earnings Forecast, market guidance, and a bunch of other terms that mean the same thing, it seems to be unacceptable to renegotiate these loans, and get a little less money and keep folks in their houses.

Nope! Despite that housing and home ownership has economic and social benefits, (home owners are more likely to be stable, and contribute to their communities, less crime, and you get to know your neighbors) the next 90 days is more important to these folks than the communities they are creating.

Foreclosure Time and your Personal Catastrophic Liquidity Event!

You are already in the tank because of your new payment which you can’t make, the bank forecloses on your house and sells it. Nevermind what happens to your credit rating, your self esteem, family, or the property values of your neighborhood, the worst is yet to come.

Income Tax Time! From Paul Caron who blogs here, is this nugget:

“If any portion of the mortgage you owe is canceled or forgiven, in most circumstances the IRS will treat that canceled debt as income. The agency will then tax it and maybe even tack on interest and penalties. Say you have a $250,000 mortgage. The bank forecloses and then sells your house for $200,000, the most it can get in this shaky real estate market, and writes off the other $50,000. Uncle Sam will consider that $50,000 – money you owed and will never repay – as income for tax purposes.”
SOURCE TaxProf Blog

So you lost your house, your credit is in the tank, and the IRS is coming. A Catastrophic Liquidity Event.

There is really something wrong with this picture for folks with only one house.

Is There Anything Good About Men

Is There Anything Good About Men

yes, no, maybe

NO More Money Saving Coupons! Delete a registry key, Go to Jail!

The latest WEB 2.0 lunacy is the case of Coupons.com suing a guy in California for violating the DMCA by deleting registry entries on his personal computer to save a few cents on coupons. The Inquirer has a good overview

From the UCLA Online Institute for Cyberspace Law and Policy is this:

Highlights Generally:
Makes it a crime to circumvent anti-piracy measures built into most commercial software.
Outlaws the manufacture, sale, or distribution of code-cracking devices used to illegally copy software.

The quick and dirty overview of this lunacy is you download a piece of software from coupons.com and you are offered money saving coupons from companies who want to sell you stuff. Limit 2. However to Print the coupons, you have to download a piece of software that begins to track your activity. Because it is an installation, it writes writes stuff to your windows computer registry, going far beyond the cookies that just about every marketeer loads you up with, to track you across the internet.

This software creates coupons with a unique ID for tracking and I am assuming payment, (my assumption is based on the idea that no matter how desperate a company is, they would have the common sense to only pay on coupons that were actually used. Of course as I write this, I realize how stupid it sounds and will look when I post this, as companies do not have that sort of intelligence, if the stack of mailers, valpacks and crap from my meatspace mailbox is any indication..)

At issue is the theory that by deleting the registry keys, which is a windows thing, he was able to download the coupons.com software again and print more money saving coupons. A lot of work for a few cents off, but I am not telling this guy how to spend his time. Based on that theory Coupons, Inc is saying that this guy is circumventing the DCMA.

Here is our problem in a nutshell. If this theory is upheld, every lunatic marketeer and software maker will be suing every windows computer owner for doing what they please with their own computers. Folks download, install and uninstall software all the time.

Delete a registry key? Go to Jail!
This guys alleged crime, was not reverse engineering the software, or stripping out copy protection, he just completely uninstalled it, by deleting the registry keys. If stuff worked and uninstalled completely, we wouldn’t having this discussion. you can google for registry cleaners (Results 110 of about 2,520,000)to see just what a mess some software creates. That he posted this information, is a free speech issue, and not in my view a DMCA issue.
Laugh now, buckwheat, but this is a fundamental case to determine whether or not you have any rights to the ownership and operation of your personal computer in your house on an internet connection you are paying for.

you have been warned….

Your Social Network – My Social Network

Folks say that the (insert latest name here) is the greatest thing since sliced bread, growing faster than flesh eating disease, and not joining right now, will consign us to the ghetto and cheap seat sections of the web.

Folks say that (insert latest name here) you can share thoughts, photos, tunes, professional and personal information, opinions, and that you can meet new people.

Your Place in Your Favorite Network...Like a feedlot, you are being fed to advertisersThe (insert latest name here) Social Network says, in return for joining our Social Network, you will let us borrow a little of your space for a few messages from our sponsors. They will be tasteful and relevant, semi-unobtrusive. Or as much as any computer generated algorithm can perform. They say they will insure your privacy by not allowing anyone in who has not agreed to a laundry list of terms and conditions, any access to their network. The exception to this are the advertisers. They will also at their sole discretion determine what you may or not say, display, discuss or the language you use.

Consider that Your Social Network requires an astonishing amount of personal information from the get go, before you become a member. Once you become a member, you quickly discover that the only sharing going on is in the network. Your information, contacts, likes, and your subgroups such as the Ostrich Society Navel Gazers Who Also Happen To Be Left Handed From Two Parent Middle Class Families are not portable. They are set in the electronic concrete of a Madison Avenue Potemkin Village.

See all your friends? So in return for becoming a member of (insert latest name here), you believe that you are in a comfortable little nest of like minded individuals, whose dreams, aspirations, and goals are being brought to a higher plane of commonality by people you think are friends.

Commonality is the operative word here as these networks without exception over time spiral down to the lowest common denominator that supports advertising, which is the true meaning of Web 2.0.

Social Network creators are not donating their time or talent, for your benefit. Remember the part; borrow a little of your space for a few messages from our sponsors? Yeah, at the end of the day in your network, it’s all about the money. There is nothing inherently evil about this arraignment, as we all trade money for stuff in one way or another.

At most, you may belong to a Social Network that boasts having 2 million members. These numbers are suspect for a couple of reasons. Over time, every one of these networks stabilize as folks move on, the direction changes, or the herd moves on to the Next (insert latest name here) Social Network. You never see these folks say their numbers are going down. They count registrations and keep adding. They never do any subtraction when folks leave. It’s all about the revenue. Web 2.0.

My Social Network is the Internet. We have 3-400 million members. For a few bucks, a computer and a connection to the internet I can do everything that your network does, without a nanny, without having my work overseen by folks who have overt and occult agendas and are being overseen by folks with checkbooks whose sole purpose in life is getting you to buy stuff.

My site is about me. I can share thoughts, photos, professional and personal information, opinions, and I can meet new people. I can even attempt to sell you stuff. Attempt as I still have a day job. I can also have discussions here. Unlike your little network, there are almost no requirements to say hello. I am not put off by bad language as such as jackass and the dreaded f-bomb are among some of my favorite descriptors. If you don’t like me, there is no requirement for you to return. If I don’t like you, I will return the favor.

It is dangerous out here. Bad and evil shit can happen to you. Folks drive by, litter, call you names, disagree with you, spam you, and will spend amazing amounts of time explaining what an idiot you are. Trust me. I have a closet full of t-shirts. Be advised that I am a cranky fellow, who doesn’t suffer fools at all. But you probably knew that.
Yet at the end of the day, this is the most exciting place on earth. Where else can you discover things, people, places, meet and talk with folks from places you will never go to? Really, how cool is that?

privacy packet notes

The internet is a dumb network in terms as it connects you with something else, like a webpage. The network doesn’t care what it is, only that it gets from point a to point b. That is the secret of the success of the internet. Now you know. Nobody seriously debates the current system of internet access, except of wanting it faster, cheaper and everywhere.

We want unfettered access all the time, they want to meter it, and dole it out according to some esoteric schedule. An interesting note is that the simplest devices work the best, moving the packets from point a to point b, without caring what they are, only concerned with addressing and delivery information. It is only when you attempt to inspect packets beyond address and delivery, and deny access or monitor type and quantity, that the costs of the Internet go up. Access Providers(ISP’s) and Network Owners(Telcos) are trying limit access across their networks. And Charge for it. A 300-page iPhone Bill?
This friction is what comprises the Network Neutrality Debate.

One of the other debates about the Internet is the line between public and private activity. One the one hand, almost anything you can see in a browser on the internet is public, and since it is stateless, being able to be accessed from any location with a connection to the internet, governments around the world have a problem with it in varying degrees. Even Democratic Governments are having problems with this, despite avowed statements and laws regarding Freedom of Speech. On the other hand, connecting to the internet from your home is in large measure, is covered under various laws regarding your Right to Privacy.

In the US, what used to be a shining light of Liberty is being covered over with new laws and regulations designed to destroy any right to privacy.

Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) is such a law.

From Susan Crawford comes this:
“CALEA is a 1994 statute that requires telephone companies to design their services so that they are easily tappable by law enforcement in need of “call-identifying information.”

Susan Crawford blog :: CALEA roundup: 2005-2007
Money Shot:

Now, law enforcement wants wireless transmission service providers (say, Verizon) to be able to report to law enforcement about what packets are being carried by them, using which port numbers. (There’s no real functional difference between wireless internet access and wired, so this same obligation would be applied to all highspeed internet access providers.) Driving things to the packet level is a big deal. It’s way beyond what anyone understood “call identifying information” to mean in the days of the telephone. And port numbers would reveal information about what application was being used, which is “content.”
SOURCE [Susan Crawford blog :: CALEA roundup: 2005-2007]

Since Telcos are moving into the ISP space, you connect the dots.

Here is today’s bit of opinion from the head lemur….
Laws are created to punish failure in a culture or society whose principles are not taught or valued by their members.
think about it…
meanwhile if you want to preserve your privacy in some small measure, try TOR

WordPress Weirdness

Having currently committed to hosting and running WordPress for my raving lunacy,(yes I have very real control issues over my writing, authorship, and the security of it), I have been embarking on determining the limits of what I can get it to do. The community surrounding WordPress is probably one of the most proactive groups devoted to any bit of software that I have seen in my 12 years of being online.

If you are looking for a poster child or a cogent explanation of the Open Source vs Closed Source debate, WordPress is it. Something you want it to do? If it isn’t the plugins list, you can make a request on the forum, and somebody will probably whip it up, and post it by the time you wake up tomorrow.

An example of this is this very blog. This blog is loosely based on a theme from the folks at Refueled Dot Net. One of the things that I do, is give you the full monty. None of this [more]… crap, where you have to click like a ferret on meth to read or see what I have posted.

Having said that, I discovered using this theme, when I clicked on the category pages, especially photos, all I saw was the headline, without the photo. I posted a note at Refueled Dot Net. and I was shown the bit of code that needed changing. How freaking cool is that? Try that at Typepad and you will see what I mean. I still have a remodeling blog at typepad, because of the photo galleries, but as soon as I can figure out how to do it here, Typepad can suck my rotting pixels.

But enough written blowjobs and icepick bitching, (how weird, bitching is in the wordpress dictionary and wordpress needs to be added) back to the subject at hand.

WordPress Weirdness

My current aggravation is that I have to log on, log off, and log on again to enable autosave, and adding categories.

I am still trying to resolve the upload error issue here.

Disaster Movies Ice Cold

My taste in reading and visual entertainment runs to scifi and fantasy, so I am not chained to total reality based entertainment. If you can get me to buy into the plotline, like Firefly with spaceships and 6 guns, I will usually follow along.

I’m like the guy who says the worst day fishing is better than the best day working, in terms of watching movies. It is not often that I will take a beating when buying movies, but occasionally a real turd shows up.
Absolute Zero The name says it all. Acting, Plot, Photography, Absolute Zero. This is a disaster movie dealing with Mother Nature turning off the heat. Evil corporation screws with the planet, the planet screws back.

The only reason that you would buy this movie, is to educate yourself on what a bad movie is.

You have been warned. Absolute Zero around 7 bucks.