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well, i've been a huge fan of the budweiser "real men of genius" (renamed from 'real american heroes' after the world trade center attacks) commercials.  my personal favorite is the "mr giant taco salad inventor" ('a 12,000 calorie salad...brilliant').  it gets me cracking up every time.  sadly i have them all on my zune playlist as well.

anywhoo... the guys at stupidcubicle.com put up a site for "real technology heroes" and i'm cracking up a bit as well (of course, major geek humor here...your wife will be gazing at you like you are an idiot -- much like mine is right now).

my favorites are the top ones right now "Mr. you can build your own version of asp.net better than Microsoft" guy and "Mr. select * from tablename example" guy.

nice. visit them at

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what i love best about new technologies is when developers start figuring things out for themselves and providing knowledge sharing to their peers.  in the case of "" that is exactly what dave campbell has been doing lately...and he's updated his site with some latest samples of rectangle animation, etc.  if you haven't seen some of his stuff it is a great place to learn about some of the fundamentals of some things and dave provides some walkthrough as well as tutorial type content.

some fun stuff going on there -- keep it up dave!

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i'm having an excellent customer service day.  why?  well, my tivo series 2 busted last week (actually probably earlier, just haven't been in town) and i was pretty pissed as i still have "lifetime" service on it.  so i hunted around on tivocommunity.com and found that my problem looked like a bad hard drive.  everyone recommended getting a new hard drive and using to bring it life.  well, after conferring with the family cfo, i was able to procure the $20 to try it out.  why only $20 and not more for a new hard drive?  well, a while back i had upgraded my tivo adding a second drive bringing it to 200GB total.  i had a sneaking suspicion that the original 40GB drive was the problematic one and was going to attempt to salvage my secondary 160GB drive.  so i went to dvrupgrade.com and got the ISO download.  it was a 75MB ISO download.  i extracted and burned to a cd-rom.  then off i went to my trusty dell that is 8 years old. 

after a bit of RTFM'ing (your cd-rom drive needs to be primary slave and the drive you want to "bake" needs to be primary master), i booted the cd-rom and followed the very simple instructions.  basically i clicked enter about 4 times and got a message that it was "baking my cake" and wouldn't take long.  The only real status i saw was an extraction of about 694MB of "restore" as it was labeled.  man that's a nice and lean device.  after about 5 minutes, i was back at a shell with a message that said "power off and connect your drive to your tivo."

so i did...and powered up...and saw the "welcome, powering up" screen and waited with anticipation.  about 2 minutes later, tivo had life.  and life was good.  restarted setup, done.  download guide, done.  very, very cool.

lived up to every claim it had.  $20 repair and 20 minutes...man i'm happy.  i did lose all the season passes, but a small price to pay for disaster recovery.  oh, and by the way, i think it was my original drive, as the 160GB drive is doing fine right now.

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i've always seen stories of identity theft and virtual identity theft.  and i've not been a victim thankfully.  but in those stories (the ones that make the "big" news) there always seems to be a technical hacking going on to get more information, etc.  nothing really exposes as it should the social side of hacking.

the hp scandal really started to do this and added "" became the latest favorite word of journalists.  kevin mitnick has said that this type of social hacking is the best weapon that everyone seems to forget about.

well, the other day i was looking at one of my bills that i don't pay on their web site.  they had a teaser on their bill that said "you can now pay online go to our site blahblah.blah" so i did.  it asked me for my account number and a pin.  there was no "sign up" link or anything and i had no idea what my pin was since i hadn't done it before.  so i called them.

it went something like this:

them: hello thank you for calling company blah, how can i help you
me: hi, how are you, i'm trying to use the new online billing feature but don't have a pin setup yet, and didn't see a sign up, can you send me one (thinking that is how the banks do it to ensure the pin at least gets sent to the registered address)
them: let me look that up for you, what is your account number
me: flippity-flip-flip
them: okay, your pin is skippidy-doo
me: thank you
them: your welcome, you are tim heuer right?

hmm, me thinks some verification should have happened BEFORE the essential pin was provided.  now what information was available, well nothing at this point because i hadn't used the service.  but what if i had and decided to store my cc information (which i never do by the way and wouldn't recommend anyone doing)?  when i hung up the phone i just sat there for a second and had the realization of how easy it is to be a victim.

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when tivo first came out, i thought it was the bomb (and it was really).  sure windows media center was out there but they didn't really have good component boxes like they do now.

so, when i got my series 2 tivo, i figured...lifetime service...sign me up.  well, my literal box died last week and i've been staring a "Welcome, powering up" screen thinking that if i stare long enough, it will finally go back to the home screen.  well, been staring too long and nothing is happening.  sigh.  quick search on the tivo community yields a likely bad drive.  solution?  new drive.  i wish that with the lifetime service they would have tacked on a warranty to that...or at least a replacement warranty option...sigh again.

good thing is that i learned about instantcake, which enables me to hook up any drive to a secondary ide locaiton on a pc and prep that bad boy for tivo life.  for $20, it is going to be worth a try.  i'm going to try to revive the drive that is in there now (heck it boots up to a point, so maybe it is just some diag that needs to be run).

but, this also does give me some additional leverage for my master plan in my house.  i'm really buying into the whole home media world concept.  right now we use a mac for our photos/videos/music.  the profile system (my wife and i both have a login) sucks on a mac.  i load up the library in itunes for example (yes the location is in a shared directory) and import the 3700 songs.  my wife logs in and even though itunes is configured to look at the same folder, it sees no songs.  i'm learning that itunes/iphoto aren't really configured to "monitor" those directories...but just rather it is a config of where to place things on import.  double sigh.  i know media center doesn't have this problem because it *monitors* file types and adds them, giving you a constantly dynamic library.  that coupled with an xbox 360 gives me a great system.  and i think a high wife-acceptance-factor (waf).  now if i can just convince the cfo...