Monthly Archives: April 2006

Five Ways To Spend Your Gas Rebate

For a nation “addicted to oil,” as President Bush put it, Senate Republicans have a proposal that can only be described as enabling: Put $100 back into the pocket of every taxpayer.

The proposal, unveiled Thursday, has been roundly criticized not only by Democrats but also by fiscal conservatives who warn it will widen the deficit while doing little to encourage energy conservation.

“It could be one of the dumbest ideas of the year,” said Jerry Taylor, a senior fellow at the conservative Cato Institute. “I haven’t looked at all of the ideas yet, but it’s got to be right up there.”

Taylor pointed out that as proposed, the rebate would go only to people who paid federal income tax last year, meaning it would be no help at all to the millions of low-income Americans who pay no income taxes but arguably suffer the most in times of rising fuel prices. About 100 million taxpayers would qualify for the rebate, which would be limited to filers with incomes under $150,000 for couples or about $100,000 for singles. It would cost more than $10 billion.

We love how a conservative numbers guy has to point out the obvious flaw in the GOP’s otherwise damn fine plan.

What shall we do with this munificent benefit, this tremendous windfall? Why, it will buy us about 2 tanks of gas eachl – an amount that’s pretty meaningless to both Ginny and I given our lightfoot driving habits. So what shall we do with our $100 gas rebate, assuming that this bill passes (and you can bet that the push will be on to pass it just in time for ‘lectioneering, kids, because after all it’s a “please-vote-for-me-in-November” ploy by the GOP).

Here are a few ideas we have about what we’ll do with the (theoretical) rebate. They all involve endorsing or re-directing the rebate to a more deserving target – this may not be possible depending on how it’s structured, so it may be necessary to deposit it and write a check, but I’m hoping endorsing to third parties will be possible. You’ll see why:

  1. Re-direct your rebate check to our local Meals on Wheels program, or to a a charity that picks up homeless people and transports them to shelters
  2. Donate it to a hybrid or alternative-fuels pilot project, or to the National Park Service to be used to fuel the shuttle buses they run in order to cut down on traffic
  3. Sign it over to your friendly neighborhood police, fire, and emergency rescue organizations
  4. Forward it to an organization that helps the working poor and Katrina refugees with gas money and bus/transit fare cards
  5. Endorse it over to the campaign fund of a Democrat running against an incumbent Republican, and fax a copy to Sen. Bill Frist’s office as a big “THANK YOU.”

Please feel free to steal this idea, or enlarge on it. Think of the good that could be done – $100 isn’t that much money to Ginny or I, but it’s a lot of money to a poor person, or to a non-profit trying to eke every last penny out of a small budget.

Note: This post also appears, almost word for word, on Ginny’s blog … we worked on it together.
[tags]car, gas, rebate, frist, hybrid[/tags]

Good Deed

This morning the SSH scan detector software that I run (DenyHosts) sent me an email indicating that it had detected a SSH scan and blocked the host.

The host name it reported did not appear to be a dynamic host (like those usually assigned by DSL provider), so did a little digging to identify who owned the system.

I notified Terry about the problem … and they replied …

I just checked the .100 address and found that I had (in an unbelievable amount of stupidity) left a test account on the system, and someone from Italy was actively engaged in running an SSH scan from that account. I contacted their ISP, hopefully they will do something about it. I removed the account, and will be taking the machine down momentarily to be rebuilt after I back some data off of it. How embarrassing. Thanks for letting me know. I suppose it is time for me to install that bridging firewall running snort I’ve been meaning to build… gah!

Glad I could help, Terry. Chalk one up for the good guys.

[tags]ssh, security, linux[/tags]

Now I’m a ‘Pod’ people

Yes, it’s true. I’m officially an IPODder.

For reasons I won’t go into, my good friend Steve gave Ginny and I a $500 gift card to ABT Electronics (he’s a VERY good friend).

Today we decided to go over to ABT to see what we could get.

Talk about a madhouse … I thought Frys was crazy, but ABT was insane.

Steve showed us some of his the kitchen appliances he’s getting for the house he’s building … and then left us to make our purchases.

After looking at various items, we decided to get the following …

  • IPOD Nano 4gb for me, including
    • Apple care 2 year warranty
    • Arm band & protective skin
  • Bluetooth headset for Ginny’s cell phone
  • Clock Radio IPOD dock for Ginny

I chose the IPOD because my current MP3 player only has 256mb of memory … and I find it quite frustrating that it runs out of space when I try to put more than a few songs on it.

I wasn’t too thrilled with the size of the nano … but with the skin it’s got enough bulk (and protection) to satisfy me.

Oh yeah … even if you’re not shopping for electronics, I do recommend at least one visit to ABT to see some of their art installations. They have a huge fish tank, a granite globe that floats on water, and this really cool piece that has marbles rolling around tracks. Ginny and I stared at it for about 10 minutes.

Let this thing DIE!

Paramount is breathing life into its “Star Trek” franchise by setting “Mission: Impossible III” helmer J.J. Abrams to produce and direct the 11th “Trek” feature, aiming for a 2008 release. — Trekkies have a new leader

Oh please … will they quit already. They’ve beaten this franchise to death … let it go.

It’s clear the people who are in charge of the Trek movies just don’t know how to do a good story.

Let’s see how it stacks up …

  • The Motion Picture — Boooorrrrriiinnngggg
  • Star Trek: The Wrath of Kahn — Probably the best of the lot … action, adventure, angst, and a great villain.
  • The Search for Spock — Not bad … but not great
  • The Voyage Home — Pretty good. Added a humorous twist
  • The Final Frontier — Lame.
  • The Undiscovered Country — Stupid.
  • Generations — So so … reasonable crossover. At least Kirk died. I kind of consider this the start of a new series of movies.
  • First Contact — Not bad. Good action, good villain, good resolution.
  • Insurrection — Fair to middling. Would have been better suited as a mini-series or 3-4 part regular series episode.
  • Nemesis — Dumb.

The Dog Rang

I was talking to my friend Steve today, asking him if he had gotten an email I sent him, when he responded …

Ah cr@p, I started to answer that yesterday, and the dog rang.

Most people, of course, would think that he mistyped and was saying that the Phone rang … but this would be wrong. The dog did indeed ring.

Steve & Ruth got a really cute dog a few weeks ago (photo forthcoming) … named Polly (short for Polygon, I think) … and they’ve trained her to ring a bell by the kitchen door when she needs to go out.

So while most people would more often get interupted by a phone ringing, Steve & Ruth will get interupted by the dog ringing.

Update: Added a picture of Polly.

The Gift of Compute

My mom needs a new computer … right now she has one of my old systems … a Pentium III 700mhz and a really junky 15″ monitor.

Since I no longer need theshire anymore (all the applications that were running on it have been moved to gondor), I figure I’ll give the system to mom.

Since her monitor is so junky also … I picked up a 19″ LCD display for myself, gave my old 19″ LCD display to Ginny, and took her 15″ LCD display for the servers (which frees up a lot of space on my computer workbench). Now I can also give mom a much nicer 17″ CRT display.

Dad just has to adjust her computer desk so the new monitor will fit. He groused about that when I told him what I was going to do.

Programmer Humor

You can always tell what language a programmer works with by the way they names their kids.

  • COBOL programmers give their kids long hyphenated names … like ANNA-MARIA, MARIE-CLAIRE, or HORATIO-ALOYSIUS.
  • RPG programmers give their kids short names … like BOB, SUE, JOE, or AL.
  • C programmers don’t name their kids … they just point to them.

If you’re not a programmer, you probably won’t get it.

Backup Everything

Yes, this posting is in both the Life and Computer categories.

It’s just a reminder that you should backup EVERYTHING!

Your computer files, your insurance policies (which I have to do), AND the contact information on your internet domain registrations.

Specifically, make sure the contact information on your domain registrations has a valid email address that will work even if your normal email address isn’t working.

Case in point: I have a friend who’s internet domain has expired … and I’ve been trying to contact him about it because he has a lot of mail queuing up on my server. Unforunately, I don’t know if he’s actually receiving the mail because I can’t send to the email address he normally uses, and the email address on his domain registration seems kind of old.

[tags]email, domains, backup[/tags]

Another Article!

Heh … I’m going to be famous yet again!

A few weeks ago I was interviewed by a Neil Tardy of IBM Systems magazine about

The interview went well, and I was really pleased with the first draft Neil sent me.

Turns out the magazine wanted a photo of me for the article.

So, yesterday, they sent out a photographer to take the picture.

Since the article is about me and, the best place to take the pictures was in the basement, Ginny and I had to actually CLEAN the basement up. Talk about a transformation. There’s actually ROOM down here.

Anyways the photographer, Chip, came by and took the picture. He tried a number of different setups … and found a few he liked. I liked working with Chip … he showed me a bit about using the histogram on the camera (although I’m not 100% certian I understood everything he told me, I am going to play around with it).

Obviously I’ll post a link (or at least a PDF) here when the article is published.