Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Just say no to stupidity

Today, again, I had to fill out a bunch of multi-factor authentication forms.  In case you haven't had the pleasure, it's where your bank decides to rip all the speedy benefits of online banking out of your grasp because so many people are too stupid to avoid e-mail scams.

The enrollment consists of selecting a picture you will see when you begin your journey to log into your banking website.  Then you have to choose which of your high school friends was the biggest saint, and also you will be asked how many toes on your right foot have hair on the third knuckle.

You know, it shouldn't take me ten minutes to log into any site.  Not to online bill payment service gets broken every time some jackass devises a new security system.  Guess what?  You can't do anything about stupid.  Stupid people will always find a way to screw themselves, no matter how much you try helping them.  It's a sad fact of life.

The most annoying thing is that there are obviously a lot of flunky network administrators out there.  Hey, guys, maybe you should get off your asses, and check out CardSpace or OpenID.  At least give your site visitors the choice to use sensible authentication-don't just go for the worst idea you've got because it's the easiest!

What will be the next fad in online banking security?  Driving to the bank to retrieve a four page one use password that only works for ten minutes after it gets printed?  I'll bet that a bank somewhere is working on just such a secure system.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Stormy Seas

Last evening I arrived at home exhausted, but otherwise in good shape.  Like any other good parent I proceeded to place my struggling child in her crib so I could get some rest she could get some much needed rest.  As I lay on the couch with my eyes closed, strange things started happening...

The skies grew dark and menacing, and I soon found myself on a small boat in the midst of a vast and angry ocean.  The wind picked and began to rock my small boat.  Soon the waves grew until they were lapping onto the deck.  What the...

I opened my eyes and found that I was in fact, still lying on my couch at home.  Strange.  Then, I felt the unmistakable lurch of the sea tugging at my stomach.  I squeezed my eyes shut and gritted my teeth.  Soon my mother would arrive so we could all walk downtown and listen to the "Thursday Night Music" in the park.  Fearing the worst, I tried settling my stomach with a Coke and a slice of toast.

While the ocean storm continued to brew at the edge of my consciousness, we began our walk.  When we arrived at the park I laid down in the grass and closed my eyes, taking long, purposeful breaths.  My boat lurched violently and gyrated in ways that no vessel should ever have to move.  My eyes snapped open, and I hastily excused myself to go back home.  My wife suggested that everyone else in our party had had their fill of music already, and that we could walk back as a group.  I agreed, but it soon became clear that my sense of urgency had been lost on my family.  Gathering the dogs, I fled from the park and began walking home-choosing a route that hid me behind local businesses.

Upon arriving at home I did what any well adjusted person would do.  I leaned over the toilette and extended a tentative finger into my mouth, toward my epiglottis.  It shrank back in fear, but I persisted.  My throat constricted and then let go as my stomach gave a small lurch.  The results, however, were unspectacular.  While the urgency of my situation had been somewhat abated, the severity was unchanged.  I crawled into bed.

While in bed, with my eyes shut, the sea returned to torment me.  Water washed unabashedly onto the deck of the boat and tried swamping the cabin.  Between the wind and the waves, the boat reeled from one extreme side to another...returning upright by some magic.  After several hours of thrashing about on the sea, relief finally came to me.  It came with no remorse, nor reserve.  Unlike my half-hearted attempt earlier, this one started in my toes and gained momentum as traveled up my body.  Oh sweet relief!

Now, I live in a neighborhood where it is common for residents to spend much of their time on the front porch of their homes.  This evening was no different, and a veritable cacophony came from the house across the street.  When I stepped out the front door to empty my trash can, a hush came over the neighborhood.  Apparently they too had witnessed my battle against the sea, and their quiet reverence served as a sign of respect for my victory.  Or something like that. 

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Need I say more?

I found an article today about a toddler and his mother, who were unceremoniously removed from an airplane because of the child's talking.  In a previous post I mentioned the complete disregard that airlines have for their passengers.  If this doesn't confirm my opinion, nothing will.  The child wasn't even screaming, he was simply being repetitive.  The best part?  They were on a Continental Express plane.  Anyone who has ever flown on one of these will attest to the fact that had the flight attendant waited until they were in the air, nobody would have been able to hear the child anyway! 

By the way, if you want to write and tell this company what jerks they are, you can do it here (sample letter included):

July 12, 2007

Express Jet

700 N. Sam Houston Parkway West, Suite 200

Houston, TX 77067

Dear Express Jet,

As it is clear that your company requires additional guidance regarding treating your customers respectfully, it is my solemn duty to inform you of your failure regarding Kate and Garren Penland. Due to the fact that least some of your staff obviously have serious anger management issues, I have taken it upon myself to aid in the rehabilitation of your company by finding an anger management company for you.

Anger Management Counseling
513 Thornton Rd
Houston, TX 77018
(713) 695-5242

On a positive note, both Detroit and I would like to thank you for reminding potential passengers why taking the extra time to drive is almost always better than subjecting oneself to the humiliation of flying.


Gary Holbrook

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Beauty when you least expect it.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Cursed Enums

When you're writing code using an object model, everyone likes to point out the obvious benefit of developing using enumerations.  The problem is that the database probably has certain values that represent the values of your enums.  How to convert between the values and the names?

public QuoteStatusType QuoteStatus
        return (QuoteStatusType)Enum.ToObject(typeof(QuoteStatusType),int.Parse(CurrentRow["QuoteStatus"].ToString()));
        CurrentRow["QuoteStatus"] = (int)Enum.Parse(typeof(QuoteStatusType),value.ToString());

Thanks C# Station