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i've been reading about the aol snafu about releasing search data.  if you haven't caught that yet, aol released some search data from 650K subscribers (wow, i didn't even realize people used aol search -- i'm assuming that is all from aol subscribers only) for research purposes.  while they removed account-identifying information, it was clear that any intuitive person would be able to sift through the search results and identify trenst based on same user -- thus increasing probability of identifying that person.

aol has retracted and removed the data and offered an apology without trying to evade their logic -- they admitted what they did was wrong.  kudos.

i couldn't help it and read more, and saw some links to the mirrors of the data.  hey, i'm curious as well.  on one of the sites i couldn't stop laughing when i read this:

Please mirror this file, and send me an Internet down the tubes by dialing <removed> so that I can include your link here.

lol, referring to senator stevens' comments about the internet tubes and when one of his staffers 'sent him an internet' -- holy crap i was laughing out loud reading someone starting to use that.

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universal studios is filming a movie near my house the past few months.  well, okay, they've been building the set (which i originally thought was some serious low-rent housing) since april, and started filming in june.

what's been interesting about this whole process is a few things.  first, queen creek isn't exactly the mecca that attracts stardom.  we've been trying to figure out *where* they stars (which namely are jennifer garner and jamie foxx) are staying when they are here -- surely they aren't at the la quinta (which is the closest hotel to the set).  i've noticed a very interesting helicopter parked at a new helipad on a new hospital just nearby -- i suspect they are staying in scottsdale and flying over each day.  i offered to host jennifer garner (as long as affleck didn't come along) at my house...we have an extra room and baby toys...but her agent didn't call me back.

anyhow, the experience has been a bit surreal...watching the set being built and now watching some serious action scenes being filmed.  the movie is called the kingdom and is supposed to be about counter terrorism or something -- i haven't figured it out yet.  they are also using the gilbert, az jail as a set for their prison scenes (the gilbert jail got paid $12K for the use).

here's some shots from the set (from my phone sorry):



they really built a little city/apartment complex complete with school, soccer fields, etc. - as well as what looks like a foreign version of it with satellite dishes all over it, etc. -- rumor has it the whole set will be blown up, which should be cool.

the only thing that sucks is now that they are filming more, traffic sucks arse.  they close roads often (and there aren't that many main ones out here).  apparently i missed the garner/foxx duet at the local italian restaurant the other night -- argh.

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where i live, i actually have a few choices for high-speed internet services.  it's actually been great having that feeling of choice in a utility (yes, i consider high speed internet a utility -- municipalites should as well and start offering it), especially when you generally (or at least i don't) have one for electricity, water, etc. 

i'd been a customer of services for a while.  they were a small provider servicing more rural areas [at the time] of phoenix-metro(and somewhere in missouri, which i found odd).  their customer service is awesome, their services great.  i was one of their first high-speed internet customers.  it was sweet -- generally cable internet is shared with some of your neighbors or whomever is on the same pipe.  being a first customer, there wasn't a ton of sharing ;-) -- i was getting amazing speeds.  and had a static ip.  and no blocked ports.  and could host web services.  i also was a normal cable customer of theirs.  overall, their price, service and product was far superior in my eyes to cox (one of my alternatives and most comparable).

well, argh...capitalism strikes.  a few months back it hit the news that bought cableamerica.  shart!  i knew what this meant for me.  but alas, there still were no better options in my area (left one option of qwest dsl).  well, the transition finally hit about 2 weeks ago while i was gone.  they sent out a letter prior to that saying 'we'll be testing the network this weekend and if stuff doesn't work, just reboot' -- which as a geek i knew was lay-people speak for 'we're transitioning the network finally, and all your crap is about to break...we're really not sure the impact, but hope it works...if it doesn't, reboot.'

well i was gone for the transition but when i returned my internet was kinda funky (working, but funky).  i rebooted my router (a snapgear, awesome little device and i recommend to everyone) and noticed the ip address changed.  smirk on face i knew bump one had occurred...you see cox doesn't offer static ip addresses to residential customers.  you *can* get one if you are a business customer (which by the way uses the same shared network, so essentially you are paying 3x for a static ip and no change in service). [note: my billing hadn't changed...i'm still being billed for a static ip -- this will be remedied this evening, but i had to call.]

today i hit bump 2 and 3.  try to use my pop account (which i rarely do since i've converted to web mail interfaces) and couldn't send outgoing mail (i have my own mail server).  argh.  yep, cox doesn't support any outgoing mail server but their own.  why?  acorrding to them it will 'drastically reduce the number of spam and virus emails originating from our customers.' -- wtf?!  just because of a different server name.  hey cox: outbound mail is outbound mail! unless you are filtering at the relay level (which i confirmed they aren't).

bump 3: turn on tv.  look what recorded programs are on the dvr.  wtf is this ui?  it's not the dvr ui i'm used to.  hmm...and my hd stations aren't working (kinda).  call cox.  'yes, there have been issues, we'll send a download to your box' -- that fixed it (except now i'm not getting some hd channels -- but i have a feeling that the cableamerica packages don't transition well and it will be an opportunity for me to be upsold on some channels).

throughout the process three services i depend on were not made aware to me (although having friends with cox service i kinda knew they were coming).  that is poo poo customer service -- you'll send me a letter about 'testing' the network, but not about how other things may change in areas of my service.

needless to say i've began the process with qwest dsl now that they have better speeds to my area...we'll see where that leads me.

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i just got a note from jamesb who is an AZGroups.com frequenter.  he reports that he got vista running on a vpc.  while some may have already done this, others have struggled still.  james pointed to a resource that helped him get it running using microsoft virtual pc (now free).

he used: vista on virtual pc

he noted to me that it is running on 812MB RAM and took >8GB of the drive -- oh yeah, and took about 14 hours to install...yikes.

just a reminder that vista on vpc isn't a good experience at all and you aren't getting the full avalon...er, um...WPF experience.  it may be good for minor testing, but don't judge your opinion of features/perf on that environment.

on a side note, the virtual cd-rom control panel that microsoft had been distributing (the tool that loads a driver letting you mount ISO images as drives) does *not* work on vista in my experiences.  argh.  the good news is that there is another free tool from slysoft called that is free and works on vista...it works a little differently in that you have to determine how many virtual drives you want upfront (versus just adding/deleteing easily in vcdrom), but it is just a few extra clicks -- nothing you'd likely be doing a lot.

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it's sad to say, but yes, i am knowingly (i think) about to be scammed on ebay.  i started looking around for some new geek stuff.  naturally i look to ebay for some ideas on pricing, etc.  i see this auction about to close in 20 hours with no bids and no reserve and an unbelievable deal (complete with pictures and everything).

being the skeptic, i look at the sellers rating (or more appropriately their 'feedback rating').  generally, as a rule of thumb, this can be a good measure of how active/new/etc the ebayer is.  this seller has a rating of 388 -- telling me they've been involved in *at least* 388 transactions on ebay (usually more, but ebay doesn't count them all).  so i bid.

i go to dinner and keep thinking about it.  i go back to the listing to see if i'm still the high bidder (which i know i am because i would have gotten an email).  still no bids...seriously...fish is starting to stink.  so then i decide to look deeper into the seller.  i actually *look* at the feedback list and the items involved in the transactions (new rule of thumb...do that).  the items are all langerberger bows/baskets.  hmmm...and i'm buying a laptop from this person...doesn't add up.

so i email the seller (through the ebay system -- never trust the links in the description) about my concern and click send.  we'll see.

WOW! -- no kidding as i am about to post this, i get this in my inbox:

The following is a notice from eBay Trust & Safety regarding:
Item Number - 110016850213
Item Title - 2.16ghz Dual Core IBM Lenovo Thinkpad T60 T34 Duo NIB
Our records show that you placed a bid on this item. We removed this item from the Site and cancelled your bid because it appears that the seller's account has been compromised and used by an unauthorized third party.

nice -- good to see ebay is on the ball -- whew...my bid (or more importantly, my money) is safe.  damn...that was a good price on a laptop :-)