Sunday, October 26, 2008

Election 2008 Video Roundup

This year I've come across more video online than I remember seeing in years past for both candidates and issues in the upcoming election.

CET has a page set up with several videos: CET Election 2008. They have a District 2 Candidate Forum as well as special reports on Issues 5, 6, and 8 - Payday Lending, Casino, and Proportional Representation.

Waycross Community Media has a collection of government related videos, including forums on the County races, Issue 23 for Greenhills, Issue 40 in Springfield Township, candidate forums for the State Legislature, and a District 1 candidate forum.

Last, The Cincinnati Beacon has a video of some of the judicial candidates saying a few words.

Be an informed voter!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Free Wifi at PLCH

The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County is now providing free wifi for use by the public. Right now, the Main branch downtown is covered and rollout to other branches will begin October 27th. This page will track the progress of the rollout.

The wifi is free to use. Patrons must provide an email address and agree to the library's standard Internet Use Policy. (The email address can be fake, the library doesn't actually email you.) The wifi connection does pass through the library's content filter and cannot be unfiltered. Patrons wishing to use unfiltered internet will need to make a reservation on one of the library's workstations.

As they are converted, library branches will no longer be Cincinnati Bell Wifi hotspots.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Books I'm Currently "Reading"

I've gotten into something of a reading spree lately. This due in part to a book club I recently founded with some friends. We all live in different cities, so we are running the whole thing online. We're using LiveJournal, since it seems to fit our needs better than anything else.

For the book club, we read When We Were Orphans last month and we're reading Falling Man this month. It's my turn to pick a book next month so I'm mentally working on a short list.

In parallel to the book club, and maybe in part because of it, I've picked up my reading of other books too. My "for fun" reading has two tracks: comics and eastern thought.

At the same time I got When We Were Orphans from the library, I also picked up Soon I Will Be Invincible. I am really liking this one. The chapters alternate between a super-hero and a super-villain's perspectives. The villain Doctor Impossible's chapters are hilarious. They're like the best parts of Venture Brothers. The thing about Soon I Will Be Invincible is that in a lot of ways it's just like a comic book story, but told in paragraphs rather than with images. The fact that literary themes are starting to show through in the novel, shouldn't be surprising because I think that comic books can be a literary medium as much as any other. I haven't finished reading this one yet, because I'm purposely reading it one chapter per night.

Last week I read Kingdom Come by Mark Waid and Alex Ross. I noticed on the shelf at the library and picked it up because somewhere in my mind I had the impression that it was an important work in the genre. I read it fairly quickly, and it's good, but I wouldn't say great. I guess I'm not a long time comic book reader, so I didn't get all the cameos and such. The art is absolutely outstanding though.

Then two items came into the library that I had put holds on. Within a week of each other I picked up Watchmen and Apocalypse Suite, which is the first collected volume of Gerard Way's Umbrella Academy. I haven't started either one yet, but I'm really looking forward to them both.

The other track that I'm spending time on is eastern thought. I have been listening to and really enjoying a podcast of lectures by Alan Watts and so I was inspired to go through my bookshelf and see what I had on the topics he discusses. The podcast comes out once a week on Sundays and I listen to it before going to bed. On other nights of the week I read a few pages each out of The Narrow Road to the Deep North, The Hagakure, and The Tao of Pooh. I like getting a little different perspective from each one each night.

I haven't had a pile of books this big on my night stand for a long time.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Software should not be able to break itself this badly.

I don't know how to feel about this. I'm simultaneously pissed off and embarrassed. I just got finished making a jackass out of myself thanks to some evil software.


I am an IT professional. I figure out people's computer problems and fix them. I think I'm fairly good at it. A friend of a friend has a business and I sometimes come over to help them out with computer problems that they aren't able to figure out themselves. They can get a lot done on their own, but sometimes it's more efficient to just ask me to do something. They pay me to do this. Tonight they asked me to come over and figure out how to get rid of a virus on their computer and install Norton Internet Security. Sounds easy.

The Work

The first problem was that they had some unknown amount of malware on their computer, including at least one trojan and/or something claiming to be a trojan that was in fact something else. Anyway, they could have gotten this taken care of themselves if they would have been able to get Norton Internet Security to install, but it was quitting at the end of the installation with an uninformative error saying it failed to install. So that's what I came to fix. I figured out eventually that it wasn't installing properly because there were parts of a previous version of NIS still installed and NIS doesn't like that. I should mention that this is such a well known problem, that Norton actually has a tool you can download specifically designed to completely uninstall NIS from your PC before starting a new install. So that's what I did, I used this tool to uninstall, then I went ahead with the new install and it worked fine. Everything is groovy, I am good at my job. Sweet.

The Fuck Up

After NIS gets up and running ( after a modest number of reboots, etc. ) everything seems to be working fine. I run a scan on the PC to start looking for viruses, etc, and it runs as one would expect. I notice that the LiveUpdate service is running in the background, which means that NIS is getting new virus definitions and patches and such, so I decide to 'pause' the PC scan until this is finished. After hitting pause, NIS informs me that 2 problems were found and fixed and that it would require a reboot to finish the fix. I click 'restart'. When Windows comes back up, it is a joke of an operating system. For starters, it takes 2 to 3 times as long for Windows to start and when it finally comes up, I realize that a lot of things are missing. There is no Start Menu or Task Bar. Most of the programs do not run. This is surreal. I start hunting around and trying different things including rebooting more times and I eventually determine that no essential system services are running. Further investigation shows that svchost.exe is missing. Services refuse to start. WTF? My theory is that NIS somehow quarantined or mangled svchost.exe to the point where Windows didn't know where to find it. And once that was accomplished there was no getting it back. It was now impossible to get NIS or anything else useful to run. I could get explorer.exe windows and other admin stuff like the Control Panel and msconfig and all that stuff, but there was no way I could find to get those services to come back up. When I clicked 'start' to start the service I'd get a 'file cannot be found' error message. Anyway, I banged my head for an hour, including biting my nails while they looked for their Windows installation disc, which of course had gone missing.

Lack of Conclusion

Essentially I got to the point where I couldn't get any further without somehow repairing the operating system and with the Windows installation CD gone, I was stuck. I was 100% positive that the user's important files were still all present and intact. I could browse the file system freely, but there was no way to use the files since apps wouldn't run and there was no way to transfer them somewhere else since there was no network access and I didn't have my external hard-drive enclosure. Not that backing up the files would have done any good, since I couldn't actually re-install the OS anyways. It was getting late so I just admitted that I was stuck and apologized and left. They said they'd just take it into Microcenter in the morning. Needless to say, I didn't accept any money from them for ruining their computer and thereby their ability to work, pay bills, etc.

What Now?

I just don't know what I'm supposed to feel about this. I mean on the one hand I feel heavy, heavy shame. I messed the PC and it just happens to be vital to their business. Before I got there, they had viruses, yes, but they could also use the PC normally - you know Internet, QuickBooks. After I left the PC was essentially useless. It would boot up into a joke of an operating system and taunt them with their precious files, but not let them actually do anything.

On the other hand, I feel really mad. I mean, I didn't really do anything that even had a whiff of a chance that something this catastrophic could happen. I was practically standing up and brushing my hands together in triumph before I rebooted the computer that last time. How can it be that software can fuck itself up so badly without even a hint that this was about to happen. I don't feel like I did anything wrong or could have foreseen this. And I see myself as a pretty savvy IT person. I've tangled with and mastered Norton products before. I feel like it's the software's fault, but at the same time I feel like I have to take the blame and I'm really losing face here. That is outrageous, honestly.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Silverglades is Amazing!

Silverglades on 8th is my new favorite place downtown. They are one of the best places to eat lunch, but what really makes them #1 for me is the fact that they're open "late". By late I mean they are open until 7:00pm Monday-Friday, which is actually surprisingly rare. This is especially handy for me since I work until 6:00pm.

Their food is absolutely top notch. It's all Boar's Head meats and cheeses, some really outstanding sandwiches, paninis, and wraps, and some of the best "deli selections" you can find downtown like pasta salads, casseroles and such. Also, soups, several types of salads, yogurt, a nice selection of snacks, and smoothies. Everything seems to have been selected or prepared with quality in mind. Honestly.

Also, you can get milk, butter, and eggs there. Oh, and beer. They have a good beer selection which includes Great Lakes and my favorite beer: Christian Moerlein OTR. I challenge anyone to find another place in the CBD where you can get all that after 6:00pm.

The fact that all this is in one place and it's open late enough for me to get things on my way home from work boggles my mind and I love them for it. If you've never been, definitely pay them a visit. It's located on the first floor of the Power Building at the corner of 8th and Sycamore.

Monday, October 13, 2008

What is Proportional Representation?

I was going to write a post up on this topic, but our Hamilton County Commissioner David Pepper beat me to it on his blog: What is Proportional Representation?

Library Digitization Project video on CETconnect

There is a nice video on CETconnect about the library's Virtual Library project.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Red Bull Soapbox Race

10042008612.jpg, originally uploaded by Pez King.

Just got back from the Red Bull Soapbox Race, which is still going on. Mt. Adams is packed. I've never seen this many people up here in the streets. I imagine the partying will continue into tonight. Good times...