That Insipid “Ancient Aliens” Show

O, how I hate that stupid “Ancient Aliens” show on the “History” channel. Tonight, as I was scrolling through the channel guide, I happened to see the info for an episode that was about to go off. The title of this episode was, “The Satan Conspiracy”, and the description was

Ancient texts indicate that Satan may have been an extraterrestrial…

Um… yeah, if you believe what the bible says about Satan, that he exists at all, and where he came from, then of course he’s an extraterrestrial. Because what is an extraterrestrial? According to, it’s, “outside, or originating outside, the limits of the earth”. That sounds like what the bible says about Satan, God, angels, pretty much everyone who wasn’t created on the Earth. Of course, I think Satan, “the devil”, “Beelzebub”, etc., are just allegories for evil, and not an actual being, but this still really annoys me.

I’m really ready for idiotic shows like this (and those celebrating semi-literate rednecks) to run their course and go away.


Let *Me* Decide What A Good Password Is!

I have had it with web sites that won’t let me put really secure passwords on my accounts. What do I mean by that? I mean sites that won’t allow anything other than letters and numbers in a password. WTF? I have a whole keyboard full of lovely glyphs to choose from; why limit me to 52 letters (upper and lower, assuming the developers are smart enough to know the difference) and ten digits?

By placing non-alphanumeric characters in a password, I am making it much harder to guess or crack. Yet there is a corps of web developers out there who force me to choose less secure passwords, because they won’t let me put punctuation in them. Why they do this, I can’t say. There is not a single compelling reason to exclude punctuation from passwords. Not one. I challenge any of you to give me a good reason for this restriction. In fact, it’s more work for the developers to check for these “offending” characters and scold the user for daring to use them! I’ve been stewing about this for a while, but this morning when I tried to setup an account at and was told my password was not good enough for them, it sent me over the edge.

So, tech managers, here are your marching orders: Look at your site(s). If you have a restriction on what characters can go in a password, figure out which of your developers wrote that code, and fire them. Then, have someone else rewrite that bit of code the right way.

If It’s Part Of a Series, Tell Me!

I went to my local Barnes & Noble yesterday to pick up book 18 of the Aubrey–Maturin series, The Yellow Admiral. While there, I looked around just to see what else was available. I’m a sucker for great cover artwork and have bought many books based on my initial reaction of seeing the cover. And I’ve also gotten burned doing that. It happened with Every Which Way But Dead, which turned out to be the third book of a series. I went back and bought the first book, but didn’t like it, never tried the second one, and thus ended up with a pristine copy of book 3, that I’ll never use.

It happened again yesterday. I saw an excellent cover on Endgame by Kristine Smith, so I picked it up. I read the back cover and it sounded interesting. So I bought it. Later in the day, I looked it up on Amazon, just to see what people were saying about it. That’s when I found out that it’s actually the fifth book in a series. I picked the book up and read every single word on both covers and the spine and there is absolutely no indication that this book is part of a series. I’ve still got the receipt, so I’m going to take the book back and see if I can swap it for something else. There’s a chance I might swap it for the first book in the series, but more than likely I’ll go for the 19th Aubrey-Maturin book.

Note to publishers: I don’t like feeling tricked. I don’t know if this was an oversight or an attempt at deception, but it’s certainly cost you this sale, and it may have soured me against the entire series. Be honest with book buyers about when a book is part of a series. You know if it’s part of a series or not, so how about let us know before we buy. You’ll get more sales in the end.

Yahoo Groups And the Hard Bounce

I’ve been a member of several groups at Yahoo! Groups since before Yahoo bought eGroups. That’s quite a long time. At 06:30 this morning, I realized that I hadn’t seen any email from any of those groups for a while. So I got up and checked and discovered what I knew I was going to see: email delivery to my address had been turned off since 12/15 because of a “hard bounce.” This happens every month or so, and it’s always the same thing:

Remote host said: 554 The message was rejected because it contains prohibited virus or spam content [BODY]

What that means is that someone (not me) sent an email containing a virus to one of the lists. The list then tried to deliver it to me, but my mail server rejected it. And Yahoo’s list manager then interpreted that bounce as indicating that my email address won’t accept email, and turned off all delivery to me. Does this make sense to you? Someone else sends a virus and my email gets turned off.

I actually think that both Yahoo Groups and my mail server share blame in this case. My mail server shouldn’t bounce a virus-laden email, it should just quietly throw it away. It’s not like anyone who intentionally sends a virus really needs to see the bounce message; they know what they’re doing. And Yahoo Groups’ server is too stupid to interpret the bounce message and quietly ignore it. Instead, it penalizes me. But what, exactly, is my mail server?

That question is interesting because I can’t be sure whose mail server is the culprit. The reason is that there are three mail servers involved in sending me email. GoDaddy is my domain registrar, and therefore they maintain my MX records, and all my mail is first sent to them. I also have a SpamCop account. I have a forwarding address setup with GoDaddy that sends all email for me to SpamCop. SpamCop, once the email has been checked for spam, then forwards the email to my Gmail account. Since the bounce message that I’m allowed to see doesn’t include any details, I don’t know which server sent actually did the bouncing. Two days ago I stopped using my SpamCop account, so now I’m down to just GoDaddy’s and Gmail’s servers, and I’m hoping that the troublesome server belonged to SpamCop. If I get turned off again, I guess I’ll know it wasn’t.

It’s very frustrating to get turned off like this, over and over, because of someone else’s nefarious acts.

Once Again, This Time With Feeling

OK, folks, the Grammar Nazi™, here. It’s time for a little lesson on spelling and grammar. Today we are discussing the similar, yet very different words “your” and “you’re” since so many people can’t seem to use them properly. “Your” is a word indicating ownership or possession. “You’re” is a contraction of “you” and “are” indicating that “you are” doing something. According to Webster,

  • your = of or relating to you or yourself or yourselves especially as possessor or possessors…
  • you’re = you are

Now, repeat after me: your and you’re are not interchangeable! It’s very annoying to read sloppy emails and blog postings from folks who can’t get this straight! Sentences like “If your an Eclipse user…” and “Be sure to set you’re clock back tonight” really get under my skin. It does seem like more people use “your” when they should have used “you’re” than screw up in the other direction, which I do find marginally interesting. I think this whole problem stems from our increased reliance on spell checkers; they won’t catch errors like this because both are valid words, just not in that particular context. I have yet to see a spell checker that would flag “your” when you should have used “you’re,” but maybe they do exist somewhere.

The fact remains: This is not rocket science, and how you write publicly is a representation of who you are and how attentive to detail you are. Some people say “it’s just an email,” or “it’s just my personal blog,” but I don’t see it that way. An email (or blog) is you presenting yourself to another person (or lots of people). If all someone knows of you is your email or your blog, that’s all they have to form an opinion of you. If your grammar and spelling are sloppy, then it seems reasonable to assume that you are too.

Please don’t get me started on “its” vs. “it’s” or “affect” vs. “effect.”

Instant Message From the RIAA

This is a really funny and sad story all at the same time. Funny because the RIAA surprised 200k thieves on the Grokster and Kazaa file stealing – er, sorry – sharing networks with an instant message telling them that they were stealing music and could face legal action. I think that’s extremely funny. The sad part is the reaction that so many people are having to it. One quote from the story is

“Way to go, RIAA. Sue and threaten the public, your customers. I think I’ll go and download[…]”

Yeah. Customers. Generally, customers pay for products and don’t steal them. But that’s a point that gets lost on a lot of folks. The responses on /. are predictably asinine…