A week of tweets: 2010-01-31

Sunday, January 31, 2010 
  • Off to LA again after way too short night. #
  • Yay hertz, thanks for the c300 again. Much better than the navigator. #
  • This is full of win http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wUDmI9RT8Z8 4chan touches America’s Top Model. Excellent Analysis by Know Your Meme #
  • Yay East Oakland! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FO0QVnUPEew #
  • WTF? My flight UAL ORD-YYZ is sched to leave at 9:32, boarding starts 9:12. Got to gate at 9:15. Plane full, had to gate check from 1st #
  • Wow, hertz YYZ is really lame compared to LAX. “Sorry, I have your reservation but no cars. I have 1 yaris and a minivan at the garage.” #
  • Grand Caravan! FTW! Now, off to the minimall to pick up MILFs. It has a 30GB HD built in. WOOt #
  • At democamp guelph. Go Guelph! #
  • Berryblab.com author demoing says: yah, the iPhone is pretty cool… If you’re a girl. #
  • http://www.democampguelph.com/ go figure… Like dorkbot, but no fire. #
  • Oh Canada! It is always snowing in canada. And bonus commute from guelph to waterloo. #
  • Meta: http://suicidemachine.org/ #
  • 14 degrees is the high today in guelph. Good time to go home. #
  • http://twitpic.com/10cd8h – Very cold and very snowy in guelph – it was fun being in a real blizzard. #
  • http://twitpic.com/10cddq – Just for lolz, ran out into snow naked. Not much contrast with “winter tan” #
  • http://twitpic.com/10cdie – Amazing! Saw a snow leopard prowling around in blizzard. #
  • http://twitpic.com/10cdoh – You can totally tell the leopard is looking at me and thinking “I can haz cheezeburger?” #
  • YYZ to ORD via the OTHER maple leaf lounge! #
  • Security takes about an hour at YYZ now. Stick hands down pants, submit for mass spectrography. OK, nothing but crotch funk, you pass. #
  • Two women in lounge spent entire visit complaining about how gross process was, thought crotch funk would be transferred to their stuff. #
  • http://twitpic.com/10dl6i – Oops, sorry about the NSF snow pic – censored version. still very snowy in Canada. #
  • http://twitpic.com/10dl7g – Oops, sorry about the NSF snow pic – censored version. still very snowy in Canada. #
  • Finally home with @phragments and maybe my luggage. It’s Tops waiting… #
  • Whee. Had to check luggage at YYZ. @UnitedAirlines left it at ORD, of course. 3rd time this year and still Jan. in reply to UnitedAirlines #
  • Nice day for a walk in the cemetary with @phragments. #

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Posted at 01:11:00 GMT-0700

Category: Twitter

Ceiling Cat Is Watching You

Tuesday, January 26, 2010 

For reasons some people don’t understand, I think ceiling cat is pretty funny. Since my stray cats aren’t very good at behaving I made a paper one using a pattern from tubby paws. Now Ceiling Cat is watching. The best part is I’m the only one who notices.

I think I need to install camera’s in ceiling cat’s eyes… new project.


Posted at 01:29:06 GMT-0700

Category: Oddphoto

Unbreaking FireFox SSL Behavior

Sunday, January 24, 2010 

I used to love firefox, but then somebody decided that users were way too stupid to make it through web browsing without an endless parade of  warnings about SSL certs.  The premise seems to be that:

  • Valid certs are meaningful.
  • Self-Signed or expired certs are indicative of a problem.

Neither is true.

(To a statistical certainty.  Some user somewhere will be validly warned away from a phishing site someday.)

Valid certs mean next to nothing since the users that these warnings are targeted to (and me too) will never ever notice if they’re going to bankofamerica.com (or whatever BofA’s legitimate URL is) or bankomerica.com (assuming bankomerica isn’t a valid bank of america domain).  Thus bankomerica can dupe bankofamerica’s website and get a perfectly valid cert and if users were dumb enough to believe that a lack of warnings indicated validity as the huge scary warnings effectively convey, then they’d be easy prey.

The only valid purpose of SSL is to secure communication between a server and a client so you can check your web mail at a cafe without worrying about being snooped and a self-signed cert does that just as well as one issued by the cert mafia.  Sure, sure the giant cert authorities would love to take your $1,000 a year to give a your user’s some sort of guarantee that you’re really who you say you are, but that doesn’t make any difference at all in practice.

As for DNS hijacking so amazon.com goes to a spoof site where the transaction security is compromised (and in theory the self-signed cert would be a give-away) just mod-rewrite to http then redirect to amazoncheck0utservices.com and get a valid cert for it.

Besides, after users have been forced to dismiss a zillion intra-net “invalid” certs, they’ve learned to completely ignore the warnings and so automatically click through the scary and almost always pointless warnings FireFox generates. Or, like many people, users stop abandon the scary, irritating browser and go back to IE.  Win.  Oh wait… FAIL.

Secure DNSSEC is smart, but forget warning people into oblivion over self-signed certs, the net effect is to make the web less secure because site admins have to choose between absurd fees for certs or turning certs off.  Until FireFox fixes this counterproductive behavior, there are two things that help.  First, browse to about:config and set browser.ssl_override_behavior to “2”.

FIX SSL config in FireFox

I’ve also found the Persepectives Plugin useful to reduce the number of pointless and irritating error warnings Firefox generates when it sees a cert that hasn’t fully paid up the protection racket extortion fees by using a polling mechanism, effectively saying (to a collection of referee sites) “ya’ll think this cert is ok?” and if they say “yeah…” then you get no error.


There fixes are helpful for those of us sufficiently skilled to use them, but unfortunately they won’t prevent users abandoning the endlessly “WOLF!” crying FireFox for IE.

Posted at 19:18:52 GMT-0700

Category: Technology

A week of tweets: 2010-01-24

Sunday, January 24, 2010 
  • Whee. Weather makes flying fun. Heavy rain in sf. Thanks @phragments for the upgrade cert. #
  • Oh noe, not ANOTHER black navigator. Oh Hertz… At least it isn’t a towncar. #
  • Gangstagrass thumpin in the black rental Navigator. Just seems right. #
  • Giant thunderbolt in santa monica… Very odd… #
  • Lightning freaks these SoCal people right out. #
  • Code Bravo! Excitement at TSA checkpoint. B must be pretty minor. #
  • It’s Tops! #
  • Best part of travel. #
  • RT @Emergency_In_SF: State of Emergency: 5 CA counties (including SF) have been declared in “states of emergency” due to winter storms. #
  • Ok for home defense, but… #
  • Sometimes only a minigun will do #
  • Mmmm… It’s Tops again. This time in from LV with @phragments. #

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Posted at 02:11:00 GMT-0700

Category: Twitter

Measures of Society

Saturday, January 23, 2010 

type “is ” into the Google search bar in FireFox and you get:


“why” is even funnier


I’ve always wondered why I can’t own a Canadian… thanks Google!

Read more…

Posted at 19:42:38 GMT-0700

Category: Funny

Rental Lincoln Navigator

Wednesday, January 20, 2010 

Hertz gave me ANOTHER black Lincoln Navigator (this is different than last week’s) to try to drive through LA’s traumatic rainstorms in (thunder! OMG!). Nothing like the efficiency of driving a car that seats 7 for a commute. Fortunately I don’t have to drive far so the total environmental impact is at least minimized and largely offset by the hilarity value.Navigator.jpg

The car has power every crazy thing. Even the back seats fold down with a button push, necessary since it has become standard to have a power opening and closing trunk so you don’t strain your dainty little self as you drive around in your ginormous faux-tough SUV.

A funny touch is the in-mirror back up camera. Nice that it is full color, but the screen is small enough that you’d never see a puppy. On the other hand, the back window is so far away and so shrouded in black leather that the little color view is the best you’ve got. Puppies are free.


It is always fun to try to figure out the electronic entertainment systems in one of these things. The test is “can you get it working between LAX and Santa Monica without reading the manual.” Mercedes, yes. Lincoln no.


In the end I did get it reading off a USB stick (and the ipod, though the Microsoft SYNC UI for that is unusable. Odd that M$ is advertising SYNC in magazines as brandable feature for a new car when it sucks so bad: I’d avoid a car with M$ inside myself).

Once it was working, the only appropriate choice was Gangstagrass. Thanks @satiredun!


Posted at 17:09:17 GMT-0700

Category: NegativephotoRental carsReviews

Best QA Evar!

Monday, January 18, 2010 

Looks like the latest update of Motorola Phone Tools wasn’t quite ready to ship…

Posted at 18:17:05 GMT-0700

Category: FunnyTechnology

A Week of SUV Rentals

Sunday, January 17, 2010 

First, in Canada, I got a GMC Acadia, a moderately stupid SUV with seating for 7. It was snowing and so I suppose AWD was useful, but the only really good part about it was the heated seats. The gas expense was not so great…

Media CardBlackBerrypicturesIMG00263-20100112-1050.jpg

The Acadia was fine as far as it went, but then my next rental, in Las Vegas, was a Lincoln Navigator. I’ve not run across one of these before (though not much different than the Escalade). It wasn’t horrible as a driving experience, though I was happy enough not to have to take it through any urban areas as I would have needed to upgrade the wheels. I mean stock rims… Seriously.

Media CardBlackBerrypicturesIMG00265-20100113-0845.jpg

The heated seats worked fine in that one too, but the backup camera that emerged from behind a half-silvered rear-view mirror was pretty cool. Especially as looking back is pretty useless through a forest of headrests.

In both cases I was the only passenger. This added to the value of the experience.

At least in LA at the end of the week, Hertz gave me a lovely C300. I think the exact same one I had rented earlier. A lovely car that seems far less silly.

Posted at 18:46:34 GMT-0700

Category: photoRental carsTravel

A week of tweets: 2010-01-17

Sunday, January 17, 2010 
  • ((Starship Troopers + Dances With Wolves + The Lion King + Bryce^3 + (Lord of the Rings)^-1) * Jar Jar Binks) + Sigourney Weaver = Avatar #
  • Trying new EB flight path suggested by @phragments: last flight to ORD, AM connect to ET destinations. Like redeye but w/ 5 hrs in real bed. #
  • Damnit. Oven isn’t working so my nuts are cold. Hate that. #
  • Morons at crowne plaza ORD have totally useless VM and if you dial enough rndom nums to get front desk, cant give dirs to own shuttle. FAIL. #
  • ORD B6 RCC redesign is an improvement. Lots of outlets. #
  • OMG!! I haz found the user’s guide to the WHOLE internet in my hotel room! Only 2 pages! Skip to chapter on 4C #
  • Transport Canada has effectively killed CA-US travel. Nice work! no lines, fast wifi at the
    Lounge. Response does what terrorism can’t. #
  • Wow most polite, most efficient screening yet: RCMP WIN. Plus who doesn’t love a quick reacharound? Concourse empty Travel dead Canada Fail. #
  • Plus the female half of my RCMP pair looked very, very good in body armor. Now to kill the hour allocated to screening, which took 5 min. #
  • 2 new mm-wave “naked scanners” at term 2 YYZ but no lines: not us customs, nor security, nor 2nd search/fondle. No carry-on still annoying. #
  • Yay @unitedairlines lost my priority tagged bag from YYZ to jfk. Meeting tomorrow naked. BS YYZ rules mean I have nothing. #
  • Terorrists exploit allergic response. Trivial bite triggers anaphlactic shock, kills US economy. #
  • Warning!! UAL RCC at LAX warning. After the refurb (to hospital style pale green) men’s and women’s rooms have been swapped. Look b4 peeing #
  • And, not just new toilets, but btand new hz busses in la. Mmm new bus smell (really). #
  • Attending Joe Davis’ lecture at the California NANOSystems Institute auditorium. #rubisco #aliens #
  • I like a rental car with inflation advice for 100+ speeds. #
  • “Every drop counts”. Nowhere more true than on a urinal. Thanks for the reminder, Toto. #
  • #

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Posted at 01:11:00 GMT-0700

Category: Twitter

BMW 325 e36 Comfort Relay Fix

Saturday, January 16, 2010 

Our BMW’s windows started to get flaky. They wouldn’t move for a few minutes after the car started, but eventually worked normally, an annoying intermittent problem that wasn’t worth a trip to the repair shop in the hope they wouldn’t work for the mechanic.

I checked the fuse under the hood (#33, 10A) and poked the baby-head-crush safety breaker a few times to no avail.

Then, last night, the windows stopped moving all together. Testing as advised, neither did the sunroof. I found this link and decided it was probably my comfort relay too. This page had a nice list of resources, but the best is gone and only partially available on the internet archive so here’s what I did (and, not to spoil the suspense, this worked).

The panels you need to remove are under the steering wheel. You’re looking at them if you’re lying on your back in the driver’s side foot well, looking up at the bottom of the dashboard. You will need to get through two layers of material to remove the relay, the plastic cover and an aluminum crush panel that protects your knees in a crash. You will need the following tools:

  • #2 Philips screwdriver
  • Small (1/4″ or so) flat screw driver
  • 10mm socket
  • Socket extension
  • Socket wrench
  • Soldering iron
  • Solder

First remove the plastic panel

Step 1 – remove the plastic cover that hides an unsightly screw head with the flat screw driver. You just pry it off.


Step 2 – Remove the now-exposed screw, one of three holding the plastic panel in place.


Step 3 – Remove screw two of three.


Step 4 – Remove Screw three of three. The panel should now sort of flop a bit, but it is still retained by a tight fit and two clips between the dash and the driver’s door.


Step 5 – Pull the plastic panel straight aft, releasing the clips shown and remove it. There is a speaker attached to the plastic panel attached by some wires. If the speaker doesn’t pop out of it’s own accord, you can either pull it out or release the wires.


Step 6 – Remove the knee panel with the 10mm socket. The heads are recessed so you will either need a long socket or an extension to reach them. There are three bolts holding the panel in. As it is removed, lower it gently, there is a metal bracket clamped between the panel and the dash structure that will be loose now.


Step 7 – A previous mechanic had solved the assembly problem of the loose mechanical bracket with some electrical tape. This seemed to work well and made reassembly easy.


Step 8 – Remove the blue comfort relay. This is a bit tedious as I did not remove the bracket first – rather wiggled it out of it’s mount. There are two retaining clips that I depressed that may have aided removal (or not). The relay is pulled “up” – away from the ground and up into the tangle of the dash. This is probably the most tedious step, it is all easy from here.


Step 9 – The comfort relay removed. You can replace it or fix it. If you fix it, pry open the case with your flat screw driver by popping the clips on either side and sliding the blue cover off.


Step 10 – Identify the bad joint. Like other people have found, mine was cracked all the way around.


Step 11 – Solder the joint back together. I was generous with the solder so it might last another 200,000 miles.


Step 12 – After putting the relay back, reinstalling the knee panel, and mostly replacing the plastic panel, snap the speaker back into the back-side (inside) of the plastic panel then replace the screws and cover the unsightly head of the visible one with the plastic bit.


Windows go up. Windows go down.

Posted at 17:52:13 GMT-0700

Category: Fabricationphoto