Archive for July, 2006

Ebay Sandisk Ultra IIs – Caveat Emptor

I read on the DSLR Blog about fake Sandisk Ultra II compact flash cards, which are, apparently, rampant on Ebay.

I bought three Ultra IIs off their a few months ago, for a decent price, undercutting other online stores by over £30. Bargain!

Guided by information on this page, I checked them out.

They’re fake.

They’re probably cheap nasty generic compact flash cards with pretty Sandisk logos stuck to them, put in fake packaging. I thought they didn’t feel particularly fast when I was using them, but the type of shooting I do doesn’t normally require fast writes, so I was prepared to put the blame on my 20D and the fact I always use RAW + JPEG, which produces two files per picture taken. They haven't failed in any way, yet, but I will no longer entrust my most important shoots to them.

From now on, I’m spending the extra cash.

Caveat emptor indeed.

July 27th, 2006

More End Times Wackiness

Over the years I’ve known a few fundamentalist Christians, those who take the vast majority of the bible as being literally true. I’ve debated them a few times and they always have one trump card – they know they’re right, always. There is no point of logic that you can make them concede that will change their view. Of course, this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, since they have ‘faith’, that logic-sapping state of mind that lets them believe 10 impossible things before breakfast. You can argue around the edges all you like, show them discrepancies in the bible, even outright contradictions, but they ‘know’ it’s the divine words of their god so logic plays no part of the equation. The bible is right, therefore anyone who shows them that it’s not is obviously wrong. Simple. Cut and dried.

It’s that kind of thinking that makes people blow themselves up in crowded bars.

However, I digress. Via Harpers, ultimately from the Rapture Ready Bulletin Board, quotes from various fundies who believe that the current conflict in the Middle East are the final, definitive, not-to-be-mistaken signs of the end times.

A few choice quotes:

A question just popped in my head. Do you think children of around say 7 or 8 (but before the age of accountability) that have been indoctrinated up until that time by their parents religious beliefs will be raptured? . . . For example, would a 7 year old muslim be raptured? I know G-d will do right but I was just wondering everyone's thoughts. I hate to think of kids being left here.

I too am soooo excited!! I get goose bumps, literally, when I watch what's going on in the M.E.!! And Watcherboy, you were so right when saying it was quite a day yesterday, in the world news, and I add in local news here in the Boston area!! Tunnel ceiling collapsed on a car and killed a woman of faith, and we had the most terrifying storms I have ever seen here!! But, yes, oh happy day, like in your screen name , it is most indeed a time to be happy and excited, right there with ya!!

I am excited beyond words that the struggle of this life may be over soon and I can finally be FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!

Revelling in death and suffering, presumably in a means to an end, the end being the physical transportation of a select few thousand into heaven, aka the Rapture, followed by decades of suffering on earth for the rest of us sinners before the final battle between god and satan.

Yes, it does sound like a bad Steven King novel, it doesn’t stop millions of fundies believing it.

Naturally, there is little in the way of verifiable facts involved here – after all, everything from the Catholic church, the European Union, Stalin and Arthur Scargill have been candidates for the anti-christ, so they’re following a long tradition of making shit up to fit their desire to get up into heaven with all the other pixies.

Ok, Arthur Scargill isn’t really on their list of anti-christs, I made that one up in the 1980’s when I heard one fundy explain how the beast would come from a city on seven hills. He assumed it was Rome, but I knew that Sheffield is also built on seven hills, and at the time that was where the NUM were based, so my logic was just as inescapable as his.

The one major difference between then and now is that we currently have an American president who actually believes all this rot (Ronald Reagan also did, but his antichrist was the USSR, and that, somewhat inconveniently for the rapture groupies, disappeared). The USA’s (and, naturally, lap dog Blair’s) failure to demand that Israel stop blowing up unrelated bits of the Lebanon to stop Hezbollah launching rockets only gives the fundies more joy. It’s akin to Spain blowing up bits of the Basque region to stop ETA, or the UK blowing up bits of Ireland to stop the IRA, or indeed the UK blowing up bits of Palestine to stop the pro-Israeli terrorists trying to form the state of Israel in the 1940’s (oh how people forget that Israel was formed by, what can only be described as, terrorists).

Of course, no rapture will occur, it’s a silly fiction beloved by simple-minded biblical literalists who want to smirk at the rest of us when they go up to heaven and we’re left in a living hell. It’s a kind of holier-than-thou attitude based upon enjoying the suffering of others. It’s inevitable really, when their religion revolves around holding sacred the image of a gallows, going so far as to decorate their houses with it, or wearing it as an item of jewellery.

Thank god I’m an atheist…

[edited for some typos]

July 27th, 2006

Long boring meme thingy

Via my ol' mucker Kay (whom I must get in touch with again), a long (too long) meme thing where I do nothing but talk about myself.

I did, however, get one one of them wrong, and couldn't be bothered to fix it, and the formatting will look bad with this blog's theme. In fact, pass the whole thing over, it'll probably be for the best.

(Click here to post your own answers for this meme.)

✓ I miss somebody right now. × I don't watch much TV these days. ✓ I own lots of books.
× I wear glasses or contact lenses. (Got them lasered last year) ✓ I love to play video games. ✓ I've tried marijuana.
✓ I've watched porn movies. × I have been the psycho-ex in a past relationship. ✓ I believe honesty is usually the best policy.
× I curse sometimes. (I swear like a blinking sailor!) ✓ I have changed a lot mentally over the last year. × I carry my knife/razor everywhere with me.
✓ I have broken someone's bones. ✓ I have a secret that I am ashamed to reveal. × I hate the rain.
× I'm paranoid at times. × I would get plastic surgery if it were 100% safe, free of cost, and scar-free. ✓ I need/want money right now. (Looking to move house, it's a money pit)
× I love sushi. ✓ I talk really, really fast. × I have fresh breath in the morning.
× I have long hair. × I have lost money in Las Vegas. ✓ I have at least one sibling.
× I was born in a country outside of the U.S. × I have worn fake hair/fingernails/eyelashes in the past. × I couldn't survive without Caller I.D.
× I like the way that I look. ✓ I have lied to a good friend in the last 6 months. (For their own good, however) ✓ I am usually pessimistic.
× I have a lot of mood swings. ✓ I think prostitution should be legalized. × I slept with a roommate.
✓ I have a hidden talent. × I'm always hyper no matter how much sugar I have. × I have a lot of friends.
✓ I have pecked someone of the same sex. × I enjoy talking on the phone. × I practically live in sweatpants or PJ pants.
× I love to shop and/or window shop. × I'm obsessed with my Xanga or Livejournal. × I'm completely embarrassed to be seen with my mother. (She's been dead two years)
✓ I have a mobile phone. × I have passed out drunk in the past 6 months. ✓ I've rejected someone before.
× I currently like/love someone. × I have no idea what I want to do for the rest of my life. × I want to have children in the future.
✓ I have changed a diaper before. × I've called the cops on a friend before. × I'm not allergic to anything. (I'm allergic to most things)
✓ I have a lot to learn. (Always trying to learn more, keeps the brain in tip-top condition) × I am shy around the opposite sex. × I'm online 24/7, even as an away message.
× I have at least 5 away messages saved. ✓ I have tried alcohol or drugs before. ✓ I have made a move on a friend's significant other or crush in the past.
✓ I own the "South Park" movie. × I have avoided assignments at work/school to be on Xanga or Livejournal. × I enjoy some country music.
✓ I would die for my best friends. (This is a close one) × I'm obsessive, and often a perfectionist. × I have used my sexuality to advance my career. (It would hinder it quite massively)
× I think Halloween is awesome because you get free candy. × I have dated a close friend's ex. × I am happy at this moment. (Been to the osteopath this morning, my neck is currently killing me)
× I'm obsessed with guys. × Democrat. × Republican.
× I don't even know what I am. × I am punk rockish. × I go for older guys/girls, not younger.
× I study for tests most of the time. × I tie my shoelaces differently from anyone I've ever met. × I can work on a car. (I'm woefully ignorant of the workings of the internal combustion engine.)
× I love my job(s). × I am comfortable with who I am right now. × I have more than just my ears pierced.
× I walk barefoot wherever I can. × I have jumped off a bridge. × I love sea turtles.
× I spend ridiculous amounts of money on makeup. × I plan on achieving a major goal/dream. × I am proficient on a musical instrument.
× I hate office jobs. × I went to college out of state. × I am adopted.
× I am a pyro. × I have thrown up from crying too much. ✓ I have been intentionally hurt by people that I loved.
× I fall for the worst people. × I adore bright colours. × I usually like covers better than originals.
× I hate chain theme restaurants like Applebees and TGIFridays. ✓ I can pick up things with my toes. × I can't whistle.
× I have ridden/owned a horse. (Horses scare me) × I still have every journal I've ever written in. (I've never written a journal in my life) × I talk in my sleep.
× I've often thought that I was born in the wrong century. × I try to forget things by drowning them out with loads of distractions. × I wear a toe ring.
× I have a tattoo. ✓ I can't stand at LEAST one person that I work with. (In the past) × I am a caffeine junkie.
× I am completely tree-huggy spiritual, and I'm not ashamed at all. (As one of my tee shirts reads: "I kick hippies") × If I knew I would get away with it, I would commit at least one murder. × I will collect anything, and the more nonsensical, the better.
× I enjoy a nice glass of wine with dinner. ✓ I'm an artist. (With qualifications, I can take a good portrait photo, but I can't draw to save my life) × I am ambidextrous.
× I sleep with so many stuffed animals, I can hardly fit on my bed. × If it weren't for having to see other people naked, I'd live in a nudist colony. ✓ I have terrible teeth. (I really don't like my teeth, even after spending a lot on them)
× I hate my toes. ✓ I did this meme even though I wasn't tagged by the person who took it before me. × I have more friends on the internet than in real life.
× I have lived in either three different states or countries. × I am extremely flexible. × I love hugs more than kisses.
✓ I want to own my own business. (But I know I'd be bankrupt within a year) × I smoke. ✓ I spend way too much time on the computer than on anything else. (Hence seeing the osteopath)
✓ Nobody has ever said I'm normal. (At least to my face) ✓ Sad movies, games, and the like can cause a trickle of tears every now and then. (Very occasionaly though) ✓ I am proficient in the use of many types of firearms and combat weapons. (I'm a surptisingly good shot. It's been a long time since I've pulled the trigger, however.)
✓ I like the way women look in stylized men's suits. × I don't like it when people are unpleased or seem unpleased with me. × I have been described as a dreamer or likely to have my head up in the clouds.
✓ I have played strip poker with someone else before. ✓ I have had emotional problems for which I have sought professional help. × I believe in ghosts and the paranormal.
× I can't stand being alone. × I have at least one obsession at any given time. ✓ I weigh myself, pee/poo, and then weigh myself again. (More about this later…)
× I consistently spend way too much money on obsessions-of-the-moment. × I'm a judgmental asshole. × I'm a HUGE drama-queen.
✓ I have travelled on more than one continent. × I sometimes wish my father would just disappear. ✓ I need people to tell me I'm good at something in order to feel that I am. (Insecure fool that I am)
× I am a Libertarian. × I can speak more than one language. × I can fall asleep even if the whole room is as noisy as it can be.
× I would rather read than watch TV. ✓ I like reading fact more than fiction. (It varies, but right now I'm on more of a non-fiction kick) ✓ I have pulled an all-nighter on an assignment I was given a month to do. (And hated it)
✓ I have no piercings. (No extra holes in me) × I have spent the night in a train station or other public place. × I have been so upset over my physical gender that I cried.
× I once spent Christmas completely alone because there was a miscommunication on which parent was supposed to have me that night. × There have been times when I have wondered "Why was I born?" and may/may not have cried over it. × I like most animals better than most people.
× I own a collection of retro games consoles. × The thought of physical exercise makes me shiver. × I have hit someone with a dead fish.
× I am compulsively honest. × I was born with a congenital birth defect that has never been repaired. × I have danced topless in front of dozens of complete strangers.
× I have gone from wishing I was a girl to revelling in being a boy to feeling like a girl again in the span of five minutes, and not cared a whit for my actual sex. × I am unashamedly bisexual, and have different motivations for my desires for different genders. × I sometimes won't sleep a whole night or eat a whole day because I forget to.
× I find it impossible to get to sleep without some kind of music on. × I dislike milk. × I obsessively wash my hands.
× I always carry something significant around with me. × Sometimes I'd rather wear a wig in day-to-day life than use my own hair. × I've pushed myself to become more self-aware and thereby more aware of others.
× Even though I live on my own I still cry sometimes because I miss my mother. (I do miss her, though) × I hand wrote all the HTML tags in this document. ✓ I've liked something which a majority of people claimed was either bad or weird.
× I have been clinically dead for a brief period of time. × Instead of feeling sympathy/empathy with people and their problems, I simply become annoyed. ✓ I participate/have participated in auto drag races and won. (Does burning off chavs in their tricked-out Novas at the lights count?)
× I do not 'get' most comedy acts. ✓ I don't think strippers are money-greedy or slutty for dancing. × I don't like to chew gum. (it makes my jaw ache)
✓ I am obsessed with history/historical things and can't wait for someone to build a time machine so I can be the first to use it. × I can never remember for the life of me where I parked the car. × I had the TEEN ANGST thing going for at least 2-3 years.
× I wish people would be more empathic and honest with each other. × I play Dungeons and Dragons weekly. ✓ I love to sing. (I really do, shame it sounds so bad)
× I want to live in my mother's basement when I grow up. ✓ I have a custom-built computer. × I want to create a certain someone's babies, even though there's a 0% possiblity of ever achieving it.
× I would be in a relationship with one of my pets if they were human. ✓ I've gone skinny-dipping. × I've performed in three plays.
× I enjoy burritos. × I'm Irish and loving it. ✓ I have a thing for redheads.
× I am a twin! × Most of the times, I'd rather do something intellectual instead of doing something generically 'fun'. × Once I set out to finish something, I always stay at it until it is completed before I move on to something else. (I'm terrible at this, I get 70% through a project, but once I've figured out how to do it, I don't bother finishing.)
✓ I wish there were a way to erase past mistakes. × I sleep more than 12 hours a day. ✓ I wish I could be prouder of what I've accomplished, but it's never enough.
× I need more time to myself. × I wish I was more open-minded. × I hope that I go really prematurely grey.
✓ I download songs from the internet. × I've just reenacted chapter 58 of Death Note with my best friend. × I say random things to freak people out.
× I'm still a little mad about the ending of Death Note. × I love playing Truth or Dare. × I love listening to slow music, but I hate singing to it.
× Music helps me remember that I am not alone. × Playing my favorite sport makes me temporarily forget my problems. ✓ I think this survey is particularly long.
× I prefer my LJ friends to my real-life ones. × I can only hate someone that I love. × I've ordered an extra two shots of espresso to an Americano at Starbucks.

1 comment July 10th, 2006

Religious fundamentalist campaigned for Bush in 2004

Though, I bet you weren’t thinking that it was Osama bin-Laden. According to Robert Parry, the CIA thought that ol’ beardy was trying hard to get Bush re-elected in 2004, as it would serve to add to al-Qaeda’s numbers:

That way bin-Laden helped ensure that George W. Bush would stay in power, would continue his clumsy “war on terror” – and would drive thousands of new recruits into al-Qaeda’s welcoming arms.’

Upon reflection, I think he was right – after all, Iraq is a shining beacon of democracy and stability now, isn't it?

July 6th, 2006

The solution to malware isn’t getting a Mac

Sophos are advising people to switch to Macs to avoid getting malware on their pcs. Their logic being that since the top ten bits of malware of last year were for Windows, switching to the Mac platform will save you.

I have no major problems with the Mac, it’s quite pretty, beloved by many in the media and photographic realms (mainly for historic reasons, Macs don’t do anything that PCs don’t any more, in fact quite the opposite in most instances) and ‘cool’.

But saying that ‘Macs will save you from Malware because they’re not PCs’ is correct only because malware authors don’t give a crap about the Mac, it simply isn’t on their radar. Why? Because Macs make up at most 3% of the desktop PC marketplace. As a software author myself, unless I had a very specific reason to do so, I wouldn’t bother writing something that the remaining 97% of the market couldn’t use. Now, if I could release simultaneous versions for both Mac and Windows, then it’s another issue, and Adobe, for instance, do this mainly because of the aforementioned media and photographic demographic.

If, for example, Macs had 50% market share, I can guarantee that OSX would be crawling with malware just as much as Windows, the phishers, porn, pills and pandemonium brotherhood of morons wouldn’t ignore that amount of wetware.

Which comes to the crux of the problem – it’s not the platform, it’s the people. Since Microsoft woke up and smelled the firefox coffee, they have made great strides to make IE less of an insecure mess designed to maximally propagate crapware just because the user was looking for free screensavers. But, even with the enhanced security feedback, making it hard to install ActiveX controls without positive confirmation, people will still do it. Why? Because people want their free screensavers, dancing kittens and what not, and no attempt to dissuade them is going to work.

Mac users are no more or less stupid than PC users, they’re just using a minority platform that the scumware people don’t care about, if (and in my opinion, not when) Macs become ubiquitous then they, too, can enjoy flying penis popups and having their bank details sent to Romania for ‘processing’. Until then, just practising some common sense will prevent the overwhelming majority of infections:

  • Don’t use IE, get Firefox and enjoy using a safer, better browser.
  • Have anti-virus software, and keep it up to date. In my experience, using the big boys like Norton or McAfee leave you open to new junkware for longer than the smaller players, like BitDefender (which I currently use), Kaspersky, Panda, NOD32 et al.
  • Think! If some website is saying ‘you need to say yes at the following prompt to view this site’ then ask yourself why. The warnings are there for a reason.

I’ve never had a spyware, virus or trojan infestation even though I don’t exactly match the profile of a safe web-surfer, I often to go less savoury sites out there, and it’s not because I use a Mac, it’s because I don’t use IE, keep the defences up to date and use common sense.

July 5th, 2006


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