Sci-Fi’s Flash Gordon

I’m old enough to remember watching the old 1980 film Flash Gordon. I liked it. I still do. As a matter of fact I watched it a couple of weeks ago and found the hammy acting and horrid “special effects” nostalgic and amusing. Ming was as cliché a villain to ever touch the silver screen. Zarkov was suitably eccentric for a run-of-the-mill mad scientist. Vultan was the perfect boisterous warrior just waiting for his moment to strike. HOWEVER…

Sci-Fi’s new Flash Gordon series is just bad. I managed to eke through three or four episodes trying to give it a chance. I know that starting a new story requires a little time to set up the world and the characters. But the blasphemy they’ve done to a cult classic is just wrong. Yes, I know that Flash started as a comic and has enjoyed a long run of radio shows, movie serials, and various live action and animated television series before now. But the Flash Gordon that most people today will remember is the movie from 1980.

They’ve turned Zarkov from a brilliant yet eccentric lunatic into a fidgety, bumbling, cowardly parody of a man. A man that creates devices that don’t work. Great work, guys. Flash is a track star…a far cry from the football all-star he was in the movie. Dale has been turned into Lois Lane a-la Smallville and Ming looks like some James Bond-esque euro-trash villain. Absolutely brilliant.

Now production is decent. The special effects are right up with what you’d expect from a Sci-Fi TV series and the camera work isn’t bad. The title theme is a cover of the 1980 movie theme by Queen. But after that it’s all down hill. The dialogue is stiff and uninspiring as are the characters. While the movie didn’t make any history for a quality script, there were engaging characters. I haven’t had such an effect with this series. What I see here is a bunch of cardboard cutouts from all the worst written paperbacks to ever grace the trash can.

At the very least I would have hoped for something bad enough to be enjoyable much like the Rocky Horror Picture Show. But sadly all we are rewarded with for spending our Friday’s watching this is a lost hour that could be used getting the lint out of our navels. At least that would have had something positive about it.

Military Green

No, I don’t mean money. I mean that even the US Military is getting in on the “Go Green” movement. As mentioned here, the military is beginning to adopt technologies for greener living. This has two results. One, many things are difficult to get in the field (like electricity)…solar and fuel cell technologies can alleviate much of this. Two, in using said tech, we reduce our dependence on foreign controlled energy resources.

I like the sound of finding efficient bio-fuels for aircraft. While I know it will put a strain on the fledgling industry (unless they can easily produce said fuels from kudzu…sheesh that stuff grows fast), it will lift a heavy part of our dependence on foreign oil. And who wants our nation’s defense forces at the mercy of foreign powers to use their equipment? Besides, necessity is the mother of invention. A heavy demand will force producers to find faster and better ways of generating the fuels.

Biofuels, fuel cells, solar power, and hybrid vehicles. The military gets it. Albeit for more reasons than the average consumer. Now we just need to get some of this tech down to the private sector at some reasonable prices. Sooner or later we will all need to consider Green Living if we want to further our existence on this planet.

An eBay Scammer: Goatse’d (mirror)

For the Digg crowd, I managed to get the Goatse’d scammer page. Here’s the text:

Written by Mauso
Tuesday, 28 August 2007

An eBay scammer’s response to being goatse’d… thirteen times.



After two years of dabbling as both buyer and seller, I have come to the conclusion that eBay is a cesspool of filth. Within thirty minutes of placing my first bid, for example, I was hit with no less than three spam messages from other sellers trying to entice me with a better deal. The spam is really just a minor annoyance. Far more malicious are the scammers that take your money and run (though my personal experience has been safe).

What I don’t understand are the scammers who place a substantial bid on an item, with no intention of making the payment. They might request your bank account details under the guise of making a deposit, but that’s standard procedure. At least with Australian accounts, that account number is useless. I mean, unless you want to make… you know, a deposit.

I once had a buyer, named ‘smithking10’, who requested “my details” three times (and on each occasion, I gave him the information necessary to send me money) before giving up. Sometimes I wonder what else he expected me to include; would he have preferred my passport number? Maybe the login for my online bank accounts.

“You know what, your highness? Why don’t you just send me your account number, and I’ll deposit five hundred dollars into it. Because you’ve charmed me with your enchanting persistence. A plus plus plus++.”


The Dilemma

Last week, my cell phone died. Having once worked in a phone shop, I know that for a consumer hoping for a refund, “died” can mean any number of things…

“Oh, well it did drop in the toilet first.”

“So what if I slept on it?”

“But my old phone could survive being used as a hockey puck!”

When I say that my phone “died”, however, I mean that it was working perfectly when I went into the cinema and that since coming out, its most effective function has been serving as a paper weight on my desk. I can only assume that it was overcome, during Superbad, by Michael Cera’s lovable performance. Such were the circumstances under which I logged onto eBay, hoping to snare a bargain. I made a few small bids on a Sony Ericsson model that I’m particularly fond of, but learned shortly after being outbid that if I was to afford textbooks this semester, a lowering-of-standards was in order.

So I came to bid on a T226, a model whose aesthetics have been likened (by its designers) to the “decomposing remains of a monkey’s excrement”. After submitting a sufficiently generous bid, I waited online for an hour to see if I won the auction. During that time, I received three email messages from random eBay members, all in a similar format.

Hi, I’m the owner of this item (similar the one you’ve recently bided on): “Sony Ericsson T226 AT&T Wireless Cell Phone GOOD”. I am in a bussines trip for 3 weeks and i want to close the auction earlier because i don’t have time for it so please let me know your best price. I`ll provide you 5 days money back guarantee, no questions asked. That means within 5 working days you decide if you don’t want to keep the item. The deal will go strictly according to ebay’s rules and policy regarding to this buy it now offer- to start the official transaction, i need to know: Your best price: First name: Last name: Shipping address: City/State: Country: Zip: As soon as i have them i’ll start the official procedure, and ebay will notify you about this. You’ll also receive important guidelines + instructions from them (please go through them exactly). I’ll handle and pay for the shipping, so this will be free of charge for you. Waiting for your answer ASAP! Thank you

Free shipping, money-back guarantee, and all according to “official procedure”? Wow! At whom do I throw my money?

I reported the first two of these emails because it is strictly against eBay rules to sell items in this manner (even when it’s not a scam). But by the time a third such email had arrived… I’d had enough.


John Cheese to the Rescue

I was reminded of an article by one of my favourite internet comedy writers, John Cheese. In his article, The 419 Scammer, he documents a series of increasingly hilarious emails exchanged between himself and a scammer, culminating in a climactic email in which he included an image called Goatse. For those who have not heard of Goatse, you can still be saved. The picture depicts a naked man’s backside, stretched beyond the point of abstraction. By this I mean: you literally could not comprehend what I’m talking about until you see it. Indeed, many people’s first reaction is to stare, horrified, for a full thirty seconds before they can believe what they are seeing. This guy could traffic enough crack over the border to kill the population a small town. I was inspired by John Cheese. Replying to the scammer immediately, I attached thirteen images of Goatse. As the scammer used a gmail account, I knew these images would display automatically on his screen (without having to download each one at a time). All thirteen, in one hit.

Two Days Later

This afternoon I received an instant message from the guy, and our conversation is pasted below (with some punctuation and capitalisation fixed for readability, but not spelling). Much to my amusement, I was condemned as evil by a man whose screen name was “good”. But there is nothing amusing about a thief so thoroughly convinced of his own righteousness.

Good: Mother.
Good: Fucker.Good: You are satan.
Good: What the fuck have you send me you piece of shit?
Good: That horible picture.
Good: Fuck your music rock.
Good: Go in hell.
Mauso: Oh man.
Mauso: You suck, dude.
Good: Fuck your rock.
Mauso: Dude, what ‘rock’ are you talking about?
Good: And your mother and your father and your sister and all of you.
Mauso: I’m a classical man.
Good: You are a shit.
Good: That’s what you are.
Mauso: I like that I’m being condemned by a spammer and scammer.
Mauso: Quite the touch of irony.
Good: Yeah you are a loser.
Mauso: See, I’m not fazed one bit. Because you are a cunt.
Good: I’m a smarter opponent.
Mauso: You are a scammer.
Good: Because I know how to scame people.Good: You now to merlin menson’s ass.
Mauso: No. Wrong. You know how to scam the dumbest 0.0001% of internet users.
Mauso: Everyone else – that is to say, 99.9999% – is smarter than you are.
Good: Good. That what you think.
Mauso: Yeah, cuntface. It pretty much is.
Good: And if you will continue I will let you know what I can do for real.
Good: In two days I will get your bank account and I will clear all your money from your account.
Good: I promise that.
Mauso: No.
Good: You will see what a real hacker can do.
Mauso: You won’t.
Good: Yes I do and I promise that.
Mauso: Not, for one hundredth of a second, do you scare me.
Good: You will see what a real hacker is.
Good: Because I’m not a scammer I’m a hacker.
Good: and a real hacker will broke the NASA password.
Good: So I promise that in 2 days you will lose all your penny
Good: from your account a bank.
Mauso: Awww, you broke the NASA password, that’s cute.
Mauso: You’re a cutie.
Good: Hahaha.
Good: No.
Good: But I can.
Mauso: No, sure, I believe you!
Mauso: *Wink*
Good: I will not broke NASA password because I will be catch.
Good: By the police.
Mauso: Hey, have you seen this website? [To readers: this is a shock site. Do not click.]
Mauso: If you are truly a hacker, you could break into that website.
Mauso: Go on, try. Pause.

Good: I will stole your money from your bank account, you shit.
Good: You will see that HAHAHA.
Mauso: You are, without the thinnest sliver of a doubt, the dumbest person on the internet I have ever met.
Good: OK then.
Good: We wil see who is the smarter and who is the dumbest.
Good: Do your trust in good
Good: God
Mauso: I don’t even know what the fuck you are saying now. Is that a question?
Good: No is your mothert
Good: Mother
Mauso: What the hell, are you 14 years old?
Good: cooksucker
Mauso: Sweet merciful christ, I’ve met smarter dog turds than you.
Good: No I’m your mother in cook.
Mauso: If I were to build the perfect idiot robot, who spouted nothing but incomprehensible feces, its name would be “good”.
Mauso: Your penis is tiny.
Mauso: Did i mention that?Minutes Later.

Mauso: Hacked into my bank account yet?
Mauso: You’re pretty slow.
Mauso: To be totally honest.
Mauso: I thought you would have drained my account by now.
Mauso: *Gets popcorn*Later.

Mauso: I had sex with your mother

Conclusion – for those who require closure…

Mauso did win the eBay auction. His dead phone went on to live a fulfilling life as a hockey puck, and his bank accounts lived happily ever after. To this day, Mauso continues to study engineering and hopes one day “to create a lifelike robot, so astoundingly stupid that I can take out my numerous frustrations by murdering it”. His psychologist refused to comment.

MacGyver Phone?

The iPhone has been much lauded as both a savior and a plague. It both fulfilled and crushed hopes. It spoke of style and yet lacked substance in several places. But regardless of your feelings about this device, you have to admit that Steve Jobs definitely got everyone’s attention trained on Apple’s little morsel of electronic goodness. On the other end of the spectrum, in more ways than one, is a little company called HTC. They make Windows Mobile smartphones. One of their most popular, the TyTN has been a boon to the Microsoft collective. HTC does to Windows Mobile what Apple does to style…they kick it up a notch. And now it looks like HTC is about to do it again with their TyTN II (also known as the P4550 and the Kaiser).

Several people running tech sites have gotten models to review and the news is good. With twice the RAM and ROM of the predecessor, built-in GPS, and a tilt up screen when in landscape mode…it seems HTC has decided to bring some game. Rumors currently (as we haven’t seen official releases from companies) say we should see the AT&T Tilt (possibly the AT&T 8925) in about a week. There is also a possibility that there will be two models, one with a front camera for video conferencing and one without. This will, of course, change the cost of the phone. Pricing should be in line with what the current AT&T 8525 debuted at.

Now this phone isn’t the alternative to the iPhone if you like form over function. Love it or hate it, the iPhone is heavy on the sleek and stylish looks. The TyTN II is a little bulkier and less refined. But can you open your Office 2007 documents on an iPhone? Yes, the TyTN II comes with Office 2007 support. This is great because as businesses move to the new version and inevitably send files out in the new format…mobile workers will still be able to see and edit what is sent to them.

Which brings us to one of the real differences between the two products. People that need to get work done are the ones most likely to pick up the TyTN II. Less business oriented users will probably gravitate to the iPhone. Now I’ve had my hands on the original TyTN and on an iPhone. While the majority of my cellular use is personal, I’d much rather have the TyTN II in my possession. I have more use for a phone with Office capabilities than a phone with a novel interface. Especially since most of the actual iPhone functionality is available on the TyTN II. Instead of iPod mode, you can use Windows Media Player. Instead of using IMAP or POP to get Exchange email, just use Pocket Outlook. Best of all…the TyTN II has MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, and AIM from the factory.

I was one of the many buying into the iPhone hype, albeit a little skeptically (after all, who actually believes all of the marketing hype these days?). As time has begun revealing its inadequacies, I find myself more and more drawn to this new option that offers all I wanted from the iPhone and most of what I wanted beyond the iPhone.

UPDATE: It looks like HTC has changed their homepage to include a large banner for the TyTN II. I think we can safely assume that it’s official. The TyTN II is here and the carriers should have them in our grubby little hands within weeks. Now…if you’ll excuse me, I need to see if I can find a way to get the upgrade price before my upgrade eligibility in October.

New Vista Patches

According to this article at, Microsoft has finally released a couple of patches to address performance and compatibility issues. The biggest issues addressed by the performance patch in my opinion would be:

When you copy or move a large file, the “estimated time remaining” takes a long time to be calculated and displayed.
After you resume the computer from hibernation, it takes a long time to display the logon screen.

As for the compatibility patch? Only one item jumps out at me (probably because I experience this all the time):

The Printer Spooler service stops unexpectedly.

These are listed as KB938979 and KB938194 on Microsoft’s website. With any luck, they will be included in Patch Tuesday’s release. I like Vista. I like it a lot. But it still has a way to go before it becomes the true successor to XP. There is simply no excuse for some things, like the amount of time it takes to unzip a file. I’ve tried several experiments to attempt to solve my performance problems with zips. They all had the same result. My Packard-Bell 486SX/25 unzipped files faster. So kudos to Microsoft for working on the issues and here’s hoping they get the rest of these performance lags fixed soon.