July 31, 2003
Technical Support

Yesterday I was confronted with a weird technical problem. I'm going to talk about it here so that any other poor bastard faced with the same thing might find it in google.

Martin was having trouble connecting his laptop via wireless to our hub. He has an HP Ze4430 with the W450 54g 802.11g wireless chip built in to the computer. The computer could see the access point and attach, but no traffic would flow.

I tried all kinds of things to get it to work to no avail. I remembered that the day before I had flashed the firmware of the access point and changed the SSID and the channel. Other laptops had no problem connecting afterwards, and with an external card, Martin's laptop connected fine.

I switched the channel back from 11 to 7 and amzingly, the connection worked fine. The 802.11g chip doesn't like channel 11 for some reason. It doesn't make sense, but it's the solution. 802.11g just ain't ready for primetime.


I watched Daredevil tonight on DVD. The movie was good, but lacked that connection that made you feel for the characters. The relationships weren't that believable. As many can attest, I don't demand alot from a movie and are generally forgiving, but Daredevil didn't give me a lot of great things to help overlook the bad things.

Posted by michael at 10:42 PM
July 28, 2003
More on the "AMD wrist watch model" email

Thanks to Technorati's search capability, I found a few more places where the strange email I mentioned below popped up.

sam o'rama
And Lindqvist has been following this for some time.

I wish I was near Woburn, MA, so I could go check out what that location is. Anyone nearby able to help?

I'm sure it's probably just a address check for bounces by some spammer, but you never know what kind of story lies behind this spam.

Posted by michael at 10:47 AM
It's my birthday, It's my birthday

Today I turn 36. Woot!

I would like to take this time to say thanks to all the loyal cruft readers for your comments and email throughout the year. If there was no one reading this page, it wouldn't be much fun. Thanks for visiting!

Time to head off to work now. I'm a bit worn out from yesterday's party, but that's nothing a cup of coffee won't fix. :)

Posted by michael at 08:19 AM
July 27, 2003
Weird spam

Yesterday I got this email:


I'm a time traveler stuck here in 2003. Upon arriving here my dimensional warp generator stopped working. I trusted a company here by the name of LLC Lasers to repair my Generation 3 52 4350A watch unit, and they fled on me. I am going to need a new DWG unit, prefereably the rechargeable AMD wrist watch model with the GRC79 induction motor, four I80200 warp stabilizers, 512GB of SRAM and the menu driven GUI with front panel XID display.

I will take whatever model you have in stock, as long as its received certification for being safe on carbon based life forms.

In terms of payment:
I dont have any Galactic Credits left. Payment can be made in platinum gold or 2003 currency upon safe delivery of unit. Please transport unit in either a brown paper bag or box to below coordinates on Sunday July 27th at (exactly 3:00pm) Eastern Stand Time. If you miss this timeframe please email me.

42.4845467 & Longitude -71.1576157 and the ground is 101.3' above sea level.

Although those coordinates are a secure guarded area, these channels through email are never secure. Unfortunately it is the only form of communication I have right now. There is a good chance that sombody will try to redirect the signal. The unit must be teleported directly in a way that nobody will be able to interfere with the transference.

After unit has been sent please email me at: info@federalfundingprogram.com
with payment instructions. Do not reply directly back to this email.

Thank You

g bab iert ayottsn bfnh

Huh? The lat/long mentioned is Woburn, Massachusetts

Is this just another form of email harvester? Anyone else got this particular spam?

Posted by michael at 11:14 PM
Weekend ends

It's late on Sunday night and I have a few minutes.

On Saturday, the grils and I took the new Gold Line train to Pasadena. It was opening weekend and the train was super crowded. After the train ride, we drove to Toluca Lake and saw Rapunzel at the Falcon Theater. The 5 actors did a great job and the girls loved it. We'll be back.

Today, Michele had a party for my birthday and friends and family came over. As usual, it was a good time. The highlight had to be 300+ lb. Martin doing a cartwell on the front lawn. Pictures below.

Grins The girls waiting for the train ride.

The main crossing
The train approaches from Pasadena.

Cartwheel baby
Martin doing a cartwheel on the front lawn.

Zoe and Casey after eating blue candy.

I'm tired. Time for sleep.

Posted by michael at 10:59 PM
July 26, 2003
More on John Wright

After John C. Wright, author of The Golden Age & The Phoenix Exultant, commented on my brief review, he and I exchanged a few emails. I thought other fans of his work would like to read the information and news. With permission, I quote from our emails.

I wrote:

Thanks for posting on my web site. I usually write brief reviews of the books I read, but this is the first time an author has commented. Last night I posted my brief review of The Phoenix Exultant.

I finished the book this weekend sitting outside keeping an eye on my daughters playing in the pool. As I turned to the last page and realized that you once again left me in a cliff hanger, I loudly said, 'Damn!' My daughters looked up concerned and I had to reassure them it was a good damn and not a bad damn.

I hope your books get the recognition they deserve and the sales roll in, prompting you to write many, many more books.

Mr. Wright replied:

My dear Mr. Pusateri, naturally, I am dismayed that any exclaimation caused by my cliffhangers startled your daughters!

Allow me to shift the blame to my publishers: I wrote and submitted GOLDEN AGE as one manuscript, but my editors (wisely, I think), decided no reader would pay forty dollars for one monstrously thick novel from an unknown author, but might buy the same tale in two or three slimmer volumes.

The original plan had been to break the story into two volumes, not three, and so the author's note at the end of GOLDEN AGE, promsing that the story would be "concluded" in PHOENIX EXULTANT, went to print before the decision was made further to separate PHOENIX EXULTANT into two volumes, and the promise was made false.

However, the end the story is written, and I sent off the final galley proofs yesterday, so even if I am run over by a street-car, you will still find out how the tale concludes.

Last I heard, the planned release date for GOLDEN TRANSCENDENCE is November of this year, not March of 2004.

I also wrote and sold a fantastic novel set in the modern day, LAST GUARDIAN OF EVERNESS; I am told my publisher has also decided to buy ORPHANS OF CHAOS, a tale about five orphans raised in a strict British boarding school who begin to discover that they may not be human beings. If all goes well, over the next two years, these books may grace the bookstores to tempt any future readers who may be amused by my humble works. These are both fantastic books (and may not sell as well as science-fiction), but I am writing another SF space opera even now, a tale of war and intrigue set among several very alien species, set in the same background as two of my short stories.

Rest assured that I intend to write many books, whether the sales are generous or niggerdly; but my creditors, and my beloved wife, would prefer the sales be generous. Thank you again for your encouraging words.

Yours, John C. Wright

From what I can tell you can pre-order The Golden Transcendance. I don't think that The Last Guardian of Everness or Orphans of Chaos are available anywhere to pre-order yet. The publisher, Tor Books, doesn't have any info. Perhaps a phone call is in order.

Posted by michael at 09:20 AM
July 25, 2003
Linked & Tracked

The page I wrote a bit ago about Trackback got linked to again. This time by Dave Winer on his Weblogs At Harvard Law page. So I'm seeing an increase in hits to the page.

I'm glad to be of service. I wonder what other explanations people need that go unanswered on the net. What question has always vexed you?

Posted by michael at 09:45 AM
July 24, 2003
More SoCalWUG

7:21PM I'm at the IHOP in Pasadena for the SoCalWUG Meeting.

7:41PM Just finished my chicken caesar salad. Mmmmm. Time for bacon...

7:43PM They are saying that 802.11g is the suck.

[time lapse]

At this point the meeting broke up into discussion and many people came over to look a the cantenna I brought along. I didn't have much time to blog so I'm actually sitting at home now.

James went and chatted with the guy who wrote Macstumbler. Martin and I hung at the table talking to people about the cantenna and other stuff.

Talking to people about things was fun, but we were kinda boxed in by all the people and didn't get much chance to wander around and see things.

At the end of the night, I head outside and bumped into Sean Bonner, who had been talking to James earlier. Sean mentioned he was going to blog the meeting so when I got home I googled him up. It seems he's also connected to Wil Wheaton in some way. Small world.

Yeah, a sucky meeting report, but you already know how geeky I am.

On Tuesday I went with Brad and Yoshi to see Cake and Devo. Cake was great but only played for 45 minutes. They played good stuff and tried to get he crowd involved. Unfortunately the crowd was mainly a Devo crowd and they weren't so into singing along with Cake. I knew every song and enjoyed singing along with the band. For my first live Cake show, I was happy.

Devo came on and blew through a great set of hits in a rapid fire succession. I like Devo, but have never been a huge fan. I was suprised that I knew every song that Devo sung as well. The crowd reacted well and was on it's feet the entire set. Devo encored with Freedom of Choice and it was excellent.

The people at the show were my people, the Generation X. We are now in our 30s and while we still want to be young, hip, and good looking, we aren't. I had time to look around and my generation is aging. Our hair is thinning, we are getting wrinkles, and the middle age spread is upon us. As Mick said, "What a drag it is getting old."

Posted by michael at 07:58 PM
July 21, 2003
Gotta wait

The Phoenix Exultant - John C. Wright

The Phoenix Exultant is the second book in the Golden Age trilogy. The beginning of the book finds our hero, Phaethon, about as low in his utopian society as he can get. There is appears to be little hope but for a single phrase whispered to him before his fall into exile.

The book spends less time examining society and more time on action with Phaethon trying to figure out exactly who his enemy is and what it wants. The author, John C. Wright, takes page from Heinlein and we see Phaethon pull himself by him bootstraps by his skill and cunning.

The characters of Atkins and Daphne are more fully rounded out and you begin to see that the Utopia is not so idyllic as it seemed at first glance. Without giving much away, the time spent on Atkins and the role of warfare in the future will be crucial to the final book in the trilogy.

My only disappointment in the book was realizing that I have to wait until the third book is released next year. The book is fantastic and right within the classic space opera genre.

I was surprised to see a comment in my previous review of The Golden Age by the author himself.  John C. Wright somehow stumbled across my brief comment and took the time to taunt me with word of the galley proofs of the third novel. I was quite suprised to read John's comments.

I would pay good money for a copy of the third book, even in galley proof form. The final novel is due out in March 2004, eight long months away.

I look forward to more novels by John in the future and hope these efforts are recognized by the various Sci-Fi awards groups.

Posted by michael at 11:29 PM
Hack the Planet

I've playing around with a few things on the geek side of things lately.

DVD Player

Michele asked me to swap a different DVD player into the bedroom. Our first DVD player, the Apex-600A has trouble with several of the more recent DVDs. I brought in the Apex-1500 fromt he garage.

I sat down to fold some laundry and put on a DVD. The picture looked horrible. The brightness was off and it wasn't adjustable. The picture kept getting brighter, then darker. I knew what it was, it was Macrovision. Macrovision is a technique used on VHS tapes and DVDs to prevent people from copying movies. Basically, Macrovision makes the sync signal of the picture vary enough that it's almost unwatchable. A good TV can pull the signal out of the mess, but VCRs typically can't.

The TV in bedroom is Michele's 13" from her college days in the 80s. It can't handle Macrovision. I turned to the net to solve the problem. I hoped there was a keycode sequence or something I could do to turn off the Macrovision.

What I found was a way to flash the firmware in the DVD player and make the Macrovision go away forever. It took about 10 minutes to burn a CD with the needed file and flash the player. I put the movie back in the DVD player and amazingly, the picture looks great.


I stumbled on to yet another MovableType client application called w.bloggar. w.bloggar let's me edit my posts an dpost them to the weblog without having to be connected to the net.

I found the tool is quite good and simple to use. I could see using it on the laptop and even at my desktop since saves some of the time I usually spend writing HTML code.

More reports on w.bloggar as I use it more.

Posted by michael at 10:02 PM
July 20, 2003
Picture round up

As promised, here are the pictures of the weekend.

Poprocks and 7-Up I picked up some Pop Rocks and mentioned to Zoe about the danger of mixing Pop Rocks & 7-Up

The daredevil
Zoe wanted to see what really happened. I did it first, and then she tried.

Tempting fate
She mastered the blast of Pop Rocks and soda and continued to tempt fate with the rest of the package

I envy the hardware
James with his new laptop

What's with Mira?
The girls at the Circus

Nice Mess
The clowns had a pie fight. My brother is jealous.

You don't see elephants doing tricks every day. Amazing stuff.

Posted by michael at 11:00 PM
[Listening to: Weapon of Choice - Fatboy Slim - Halfway Between the Gutter and (5:47)]

I'm writing this with w.bloggar, another tool that let's me write posts offline with a few more features. As you can see above, it will grab the song I'm listening to and even let me post color text. Hopefully this will work well. It'd be nice to have an offline blog tool.

This weekend has been busy and fun. I took a number of pictures and will post them later.

Friday night, James showed up with a brand new Apple 12" Powerbook. He had just bought it at the Apple Store in Pasadena. The laptop is supersweet. He booted it up and it connected to my WiFi automatically. I am jealous of the sleek new machine. The MAc OS still seems a little weird to me, but I see while people buy them in droves.

Saturday we took the kids to the Circus. They had a great time. I remembered to bring earplugs to cut down on the noise. At the circus, they keep the volume at 11. Later that evening I picked up Martin at the airport for his brief trip back to LA. James, Martin, and I stayed up surfing the web on laptops and watchign Sportscenter till the wee hours.

Sunday was Michele's day off. I took the kids out to IHOP with James and Martin. Unfortunately, there was no wifi at the IHOP this time. The kids ate good and we went to wander around the local shoppig center. The kids love Zainy Brainy. Michele had driven down to see Jenny to take a break. The stress has been high recently and she needed a break. They went to see Pirates of the Caribbean. Meanwhile, the girls and I went for a swim in the backyard.

OK. So much for the test, let's see how it works. More later.

Posted by michael at 07:50 PM
July 17, 2003
Fixed and Broken

The replacement part for the clothes washer arrived yesterday and I installed it. Soon the washer was humming along, continuing the endless loads of laundry.

Recently I've fixed several things around the house. It seems that summer tends to be the season for repairs. I always feel good about fixing things.

Unfortunately there are some things I can't fix. Engineering training does not do much when it comes to helping people through the real problems of life.

Michele and her mother have been fighting lately. I can't even put my finger on the exact reason why. Issues both old and new, added to the stress of Lisa's (sister/daughter) wedding are wreaking havoc. The details aren't important, it's the effects the worry me. The pain, tears, and anger on both sides are going to leave a mark. And there's not much I can do to fix it.

The worst thing about it is that the bond between Michele and her mother is so strong, that it makes this kinda thing even worse. When times are good, they are like to two peas in a pod, happy and giddy to be together. That closeness is making this dispute even more damaging and hurtful.

All I can hope is that the love wins out over the anger soon rather than later. I know it will be resolved eventually, but for my own sanity, I hope it's soon.

Posted by michael at 09:49 AM
July 15, 2003

Back when I was spending time in Asia, it was explained to me that there were heaty foods and cool foods. If you eat too much heaty food, you will have trouble.

Well, I decided to try the Atkins thing. Eating meat is no problem, or so I thought. I appears that all the Atkins acceptable food is basically heaty food. Most of the day, I feel like I'm gunna break out into a sweat. I'm gunna keep at this diet, but I may some Chinese herbs to get me through.

I'm playing with the Zempt tool for MT entries. IT seems pretty cool. I can do things like this:

[Listening to: White Riot - The Clash - The Clash (1:58)]

It took a look at what Winamp was playing and inserted it here. It also make it easy to spellcheck posts and do other simple formatting without having to get the HTML right.

In other news, Michele posted her take on the broken washer. Martin must be really bored because he posted a long ass entry.

I began reading The Phoenix Exultant, the sequel to The Golden Age, that I finished a few days ago. It is quite delectable. Some times I wish I had one of those jobs where you can bring a book and read during the day.

OK, time to head to bed. I was at work today around 6AM and I need to catch up on some rest.

Until then, go get the new Google Toolbar. It's all that and a bag of chips!

Posted by michael at 11:10 PM

The washing machine is broken.

Last night Michele casually says, "I know you just wanted to read your new book up front, but I think the washing machine isn't washing."

I go check and sure enough, the agitator is not agitating.

I assume that it's due to the normal condition of Michele shoving 3 loads of clothes into the washer at the same time. She explains the reasoning for overloading the washer as "We have a lot of laundry!"

The wet laundry is pulled out of the washer and into the sink to reveal a washer that still won't agitate. I try the usual cycling of the washer, all to no avail. Something is actually broken.

After a bit of disassembly, I find that a plastic adapter for the agitator that connects to the drive motor is stripped. Now, I don't mean stripped as in it still works and slips occasionally. I mean stripped as in completely smooth with no traction at all. The part will have to be replaced.

It took many, MANY oversized loads to do this kinda damage.

I go explain this to Michele and her only question is, "Can I have a new front-loading washer now?". I roll my eyes and go check the internet for the part.

The part is $4.90 and $20+ for overnight shipping. For grins, I check to see the price of a new front-loading washer. The cheapest one is around $700 at Sears.

$25 vs. $700? Hmmm... What to do, what to do?

Of course, I ordered the spare part and explained to Michele that it will take a much more expensive break to get me to buy a new washer. She just smiled.

Later, I had a vision of Michele taking a hammer to the insides of the washer, hoping to bring about the early arrival of the new front-loading washer. I need to keep a eye on her. She's sneaky.

Posted by michael at 07:39 AM
July 14, 2003

The heat is going to be arriving soon here in Sunny Southern California, and I am getting a quick post in before the day really begins.

Mira blowing out candles with Zoe in support.

The birthday fun is over and Sunday I spent part of the day hanging out with James. Michele got the cleaning bug and scoured the living room until it looks like a scene from Martha Stewart Living.

I did my part and at Michele's request put in a DVD/VCR combo up front. The girls are all excited about this because now they don't need to use the Playstation to watch DVDs.

Over at Metafilter, I saw a post on Science Toys to make with your kids. Very cool. We'll be making crystal radios soon.

Mrs. Diggs is feeling the LA lifestyle, even in Kansas (no permalink, go to July 10).

I'm feeling the need to build a computer. I have no reason, but the need remains. James's discussions of mini-itx and Squidly's good work have inspired me.

Time for work...

Posted by michael at 07:22 AM
Upgrade Blues

Yesterday, the hosting provider for this site did a software upgrade.

As a result, the interface between perl and mysql was broken for part of the day. Basically it meant that MovableType didn't work and you couldn't read comments.

It appears that everything is fixed. Please resume your normal commenting.

Posted by michael at 06:57 AM
July 11, 2003

A few pictures before I wrap up the day.

Mira on her new bicycle and in her new dress. Happy 5th!

Here I am lurking in the shadows on my new bike.
Posted by michael at 09:57 PM
Damn 7-Eleven

At lunch we headed out to grab our free Slurpees at 7-Eleven.

We walked into the store and said, "Where's the free slurpees?"

The man behind the counter said, "Seven to Eleven!"
I said, "Yeah, where''s the free Slurpees?"
He said, "It's over! Seven to Eleven!"

Evidently the knuckleheads at Corporate 7-Eleven decided to only have free stuff from 7AM to 11AM.


Posted by michael at 02:59 PM
July 10, 2003
5 Years Old

Tomorrow my youngest daughter, Mira, turns five years old. It will be a good day.

I spent the evening wrapping presents and attaching a basket & bell to her new bicycle. The Magic Talking Grill is sure to be a hit as well.

I also did the final touches on my MeFI CD Swap. I had resisted opening the CDs I got before I finished my mixes. I started listening to them tonight. The CD from greengrl is absolutely kick-ass. I hope she likes my selections as much I like hers.

My good friend Len has launched his blog. Please give him a read and a comment for encouragement.

Posted by michael at 11:41 PM

I went from 500+ emails in my inbox to under 100. The flow of emails in unending. Eventually it will wreck all productivity in modern business.

There's got to be a better way.

Posted by michael at 05:27 PM
July 09, 2003
No ice

We are out of ice, so I am drinking my scotch neat. Usually I have two rocks to chill the scotch just a bit. Life is rough.

I just finished a book I picked up at the local discount bookstore. It's called Rebel Moon and based on the story form a 1996 video game. It's not worthy of a full review. The book hums along for a bit and at the end the rebels basically lose and the story abruptly ends with the appearance of aliens. We don't even know what happens next. There's no sequel. What a ripoff, even at $2.99.

I was talking to some people at work about what apps to run to protect yourself from things like spyware and other malware. Here's a list of what I run defensively.

ZoneAlarm - A software firewall that also controls outbound traffic
Norton AntiVirus - If you don't run antivirus, you are asking to get your computer wiped out.
AdSubtract - Pop-up blocker and privacy software.
AdAware - Spyware scanner.
Spybot - Alternate spyware scanner
SpamBayes Outlook Addin - Spam filter for Outlook.

Oh, Michele just got back from her Quilt Meeting. Gotta go.

Posted by michael at 09:36 PM
July 06, 2003
Outside in the shade

On the 4th I finished my latest book, The Golden Age. I was quite pleased, but the author did leave me in a classic cliffhanger.

The Golden Age - John Wright

The Golden Age is a classic space opera with a twist of occuring outside the typical swashbuckling firefights of many Sci-fi novels. In Wright's far future, humans are immortal and surrounded by ultra-smart artificial intelligences that help them manipulate thier perception of the world. No longer do most people physically travel anywhere, they mind is fed the senses and experiences where android bodies and remote sensors.

The protaganist, Phaethon, is a hero in a world without desire for adventure. Society is content to stop progress and bask in their utopia. Without revealing much plot, finds that the world is not as it seems and soon learns that part of his past has been hidden.

The story follows his attempts to find out what's really going on in a world of fantasy and illusion. The story is a bit slow in the beginning until you pick up the lingo and concepts. Soon enough you are hanging on for the wild ride.

The book ends in a cliffhanger with our hero ready to face the final outcome in the next book. Amazon can't deliver it fast enough. To bad my library doesn't have it.

Posted by michael at 11:33 AM
July 05, 2003
Heat, Tivo, and me

First, here is a page with picture on my recent upgrades to my Tivo. Enjoy.

Today was a good home day.

I went bike riding with the kids to the park.
We washed Michele's car in the driveway.
I watched the kids play in the hot tub while I surfed on the laptop.
I burned a DVD from video I extracted from the Tivo.
Mira took a nap on top of me (I was forced to take one too.)

Posted by michael at 11:26 PM
July 04, 2003
Independance Day

Today we celebrate the Independance of our country and the great things our nation has done.

The American Flag by Zoe Pusateri

I'll be leaving in a bit to go pick up the Girls at the airport. Hopefully the airport trip will be smooth and uneventful, unlike last year.

Yesterday I bought a bicycle. A Giant Cypress for those that know bikes. I rode it up to the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. The uphill ride showed me how out of shape I am. I drank my tea and finished my book. I wish Michele had been there to soak up the early morning quiet too.

Last night I played some Neverwinter nights with Travis, Brad, and Yoshi. I was having a good time until I had to take out my contacts. I wore them too long and the dust from mowing the lawn wasn't helping. I bailed out of the game before Midnight and had to go put magic blinding goop in my eyes so I could see today. Hopefully we'll carry on later this weekend.

I got a call from Martin last night. He made it to Kansas safe and sound. I learn more details of the trip later. Right now they are busy unpacking. Muah-ha-ha-ha...

That's all for now, I need to head to the airport. Have a fun holiday and be safe.

Posted by michael at 12:20 PM
July 02, 2003
On the downward slope

I went to see the movie Winged Migration tonight. The movie is absolutely wonderful. I can't wait to take the girls. Jacques Perrin, the director, also made the movie Microcosmos about insects.

The film is the story of the bi-annual migrations that birds make to avoid winter. The cinematography is spectacular. Through various methods there are constant shots of birds in flight as if you are with them flying alongside. It's hard to describe, watch the trailer.

They show many dangers the birds face along the way and you will be surprisd with what you see. The small audience I was with actually clapped for the bird at several points. The next time you see birds overhead you will think about it differently. Go see it.

Spam Filter for Outlook

I've tried several anti-spam solutions and found this one recently:

SpamBayes Outlook Addin

The software only works for Outlook, but it works well.

The 'bayesian' software learns what you consider spam and sorts it better and better the more you train it. I am quite impressed with it's performance.


I pulled the trigger and bought the DVD burner this morning. Woot me.


Mr. P fought a chair and lost.

My brother new Flash banner rocks.

Griff continues to be funny.

Posted by michael at 09:39 PM
July 01, 2003
Bad Idea

If you start packing an two story house into a moving van at 6PM, you will probably spend the next eight hours packing it. Packing a moving van at night is not a good idea.

The next day you will feel tired, sore, and your eye's will hurt.

Posted by michael at 10:36 AM