Movies Weird

That’s no moon!

With the release of the Star Wars DVDs last week everyone has the classic films on the brain.  And what goes better with classic films than classic rock?

Mad props to the_man361… whoever you are.

Hotmail Microsoft Tech

Bizarre tech support techniques

Hotmail is a really big service – servers measured in the thousands, active users measured in the hundreds of millions, incoming mail measured in the billions.  It’s not cheap to run (yeah, we’re Microsoft, cry you a river).  To keep our costs down we don’t make it easy to e-mail a human directly to get technical support and as a result users get (understandably) frustrated.

Enter Reeves, fearless, rogue cowboy PM, roaming the uncharted wastelands of the net searching for Hotmail users in need.  I spend tireless hours combing the dark corners of the net looking for…

OK, I don’t even believe myself.  What I do is set up Google alerts to drop me an e-mail once daily when news reports mention Hotmail.  My primary interest is to find out what reporters are saying about Hotmail but I occasionally find gripes mixed in with the news.  Last week, for example, I came across a pro-wrestling reporter who had to re-write his weekly article because he was unable to get into his Hotmail account.

Since I’m not in support the only ways for me to be able to help people with Hotmail is to post info on my blog, free-lance by tracking down gripes on the web or (crazy thought here) to proactively design new features for Hotmail which make it easier to use <gasp>.

So, as always, if you have a gripe about Hotmail, e-mail me.  I love to hear compliments about our product but hearing complaints is the next best thing.  Coming up with brand new stuff is hard… fixing stuff we broke is easy, if we know it’s broke(n).

P.S. it appears Hotmail is becoming a regular topic in the industry news… I wonder if I’ll get a chance to meet The Rock.

Idle Life

Comfort made easy

If I am sick or tired… or sick and tired… tired or just plain sick… I need comforting. Being a mama’s boy my first instinct is to run home, but seeing as my mommy is in Colorado and I’m in California I need to have a substitute.

Enter psychology… specifically: behaviorism.

Just like Pavlov’s dog, we have been trained to react. We can’t help it. From conception to death our conditioning never stops. We’ll flinch, cry and yawn on cue (don’t bother stifling the yawn, it’s not like I can see you). Yanking someone’s strings can be easy if you know their triggers. One very useful trick is to learn to yank your own strings (trust me, you won’t go blind).

If you’re feeling down and want a quick pick me up, try this out: think back to when you were a little kid… say 4 or 5 years old. Getting the vision? Good, not stop touching me or I’m telling Mom. Perfect, you got it. Now, on Saturday, what did you eat? If you have a bad memory try calling your mom, she may be able to help out. The key is to nail down exactly what you used to eat, getting the ingredients as close as possible to the authentic stuff. Go shopping, come home, put on some comfy clothes and eat. If you can find some reruns to go with your snack you’ll be golden. Trust me, it works great. If you put me in front of an episode of the Waltons, feed me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (made with Wonder bread, Welch’s Concord grape jelly and creamy Jiff) cut in to quarters… diagonally, Fritos, a bowl of Campbell’s chicken noodle soup and a glass of milk I’ll be right as rain.

Now if I could just find myself a good pair of footy pajamas…

Security Web

Next on reality TV – Spammer Bounty Hunters

Okay, so perhaps they don’t have a show in the works, but I’d certainly TiVo it if they did.  Ah… the wonderful vision of underwear-clad spammers being dragged across their front lawns by big Texas bounty hunters… a happy thought.

Spammer bounties win some backing
WASHINGTON – The Federal Trade Commission yesterday gave limited endorsement to offering cash rewards to people who help track down e-mail spammers, suggesting that such bounties might work but in fewer circumstances than had been pushed by some anti-spam activists.

Visit MSNBC for the full article:

Net Software Tech

Some geeky fun

I was chatting with Omar over lunch the other day and he was telling me about his latest wireless network setup and his frustration with trying to troubleshoot connection drops.  I feel his pain… my wireless network is a combination of one Microsoft base station (naturally) and two Linksys bases (two totally different models, of course).  I was unable to connect to the network when in my bedroom for about 6 months.  Everything worked everywhere else… but in the bedroom?  No.  Gah!  I think I solved the problem, but I’m not sure.  I’ll have to document that later after I’m sure I understand it (no use posting embarrassingly wrong advice… I know I’m an idiot, but why tell others? I’ll keep the illusion up as long as I can. 🙂 ).

So… where am I going with this rambling post with zero useful content thus far?  NetStumblerOmar commented that he wished he has a tool to tell him all the networks in his area and on what channel they communicated (yes, you can change the channel on your wireless base station for better connectivity).  There are probably a bunch of tools, the one I’ve found useful is NetStumbler

Netstumbler is a fun little app that can provide hours of entertainment for geeks.  This software will look for WiFi networks in range, document their SSID (essentially the network name), if they are encrypted, their channel, the signal to noise ratio and, if you have a GPS on your laptop, the coordinates.  It’s a very useful tool for working out network issues… or for finding open networks (war driving is apparently a popular hobby).  Check it out if you have some time to kill or feel like living out your hacker fantasies.

Oh, war driving… Do you remember War Games with Matthew Broderick?  If you don’t, rent it, it’s a fun movie.  In War Games Matthew’s character was trying to find a game company’s mainframe by having his computer methodically dial every single phone number in a given area code and logging the phone numbers connected to computers – he was war dialing.  War driving is the modern equivalent where people put a WiFi-equipped laptop in their car and drive around logging open wireless networks.  Using software like NetStumbler you are able to drive around then dump the results to a program like Microsoft MapPoint to graph out all the open networks in your area.  Why?  Geeky fun, mischief or whatever reason doesn’t really matter, it just reminds you that you shouldn’t assume that because your computer is in your house that your data is safe.  My advice: turn on some form of encryption (WEP for most), hide the SSID and enable MAC filtering.  If you don’t know how to do that, check your manual, it’s worth learning how.

Reference Web

Some more travel tips

Ah, the joy of business class!  On the way back from Korea (more on that later) Paula and I were able to upgrade to business class.  When you’re dealing with a flight from Japan to San Francisco this is a life saver.  My flight left Tokyo around 10am on Wednesday and arrived in California at around 10am on Wednesday.  I watched Shrek 2 while eating dinner then took a Tylenol PM & a melatonin and slept for about 5 hours.  After a 2hr nap Wednesday afternoon my jetlag is gone (but don’t tell my boss, I may still get some slacker mileage out of this ).  Tylenol PM + 3mg of melatonin, my cure for jetlag, look into it.

Here are some other links to help you with your travel: