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Conversation | Page 4

Car Town!

Ian Grist
heard you did some serious expansion
3:20 PM Casey James Cress
you need to set your eyes on my new flooring
3:20 PM come by the shop for a cold one real quick
3:20 PM Ian Grist
i hear its pretty patriotic
3:20 PMim at work
3:20 PMwill stop by after
3:20 PMaround 6
3:21 PM Casey James Cress
yeah… i had a guy come in over lunch and knock out the new flooring
3:21 PM Ian Grist
not bad
3:21 PMwhat kind of coin you drop on that
3:22 PM Casey James Cress
couple Gs. totally worth it
3:22 PM Ian Grist
3:22 PMyou earned all that cheddar
3:22 PM?
3:22 PM Casey James Cress
yep. been racin’ a lot
3:22 PM Ian Grist
ah nice
3:22 PMi better have some challenges waiting whwne i log on
3:22 PM Casey James Cress
my pinto has about 511 ponies under the hood right now
3:22 PM Ian Grist
3:23 PMyou pull the trigger on that silverado?
3:23 PM Casey James Cress
not yet. she’s still sitting in the lot. i figure im not going to drop much coin on that thing if ive gotta take it back to the dealer soon
3:24 PM Ian Grist
yeah no point trickin’ er out
3:24 PM Casey James Cress
might hold out for something bigger
3:24 PM Ian Grist
i dropped some serious scrill-la-la on my v-dub
3:25 PMyou might want to roll by the Grist Garage and check it out
3:25 PM24″ Mickey Thompson blacked out off road rims w/ 4″ wide white walls
3:25 PM Casey James Cress
im headed over now
3:26 PM Ian Grist
3:26 PMi expanded ops as well
3:26 PM Casey James Cress
you need to get some new tool cabs my man
3:27 PM Ian Grist
yeah i’ve been negotiating prices, plan on droppin a few craftsman 6-drawers in tonight
3:27 PMyou finish that slam job I put you on last night?
3:27 PMcustomer keeps calling me to see if his hydros are installed
3:27 PMi know we quoted 12 hours but come on
3:29 PM Casey James Cress
you’ve got evan on that slam job
3:29 PM i dont think i even work for you
3:29 PM you’re actually work on a slam kit for me right now
3:29 PM Ian Grist
not with that attitude, ill fire your ass
3:29 PMyou been workin for me since yesterday
3:29 PM Casey James Cress
hmmm… we’re on a road trip right now
3:29 PM Ian Grist
I got you slated for a wheel install tonight. Puttin 26″s on a caprice – a real Donk
3:29 PM Casey James Cress
hey..i gotta run
3:30 PM gotta pick up some parts
3:30 PM Ian Grist
aight, see you around the garage
Conversation | Page 4

100 Essential Geek Skills – How I Stack Up

Wired’s column GEEKDAD has an awesome article today about the 100 Skills that every geek should possess.  I found this a good opportunity to see how I stack up as a Geek:  (66/100)

1. Properly secure a wireless router.  Done, also installed the hacked firmware on a WRT54G.
2. Crack the WEP key on a wireless router. Have tried many times, never gotten through.
3. Leech Wifi from your neighbor.  Many times.
4. Screw with Wifi leeches.  Booted em off my network many times in college.
5. Setup and use a VPN. Use one at work and at home every day.
6. Work from home or a coffee shop as effectively as you do at the office.  I love working from home! Am more productive there than at the office.
7. Wire your own home with Ethernet cable. Every house I’ve ever lived in – I’ve done this before arranging furniture.  Priorities.
8. Turn a web camera into security camera. Cool project, I need to do this and find out who is letting their dog crap in my yard.
9. Use your 3G phone as a Wi-Fi access point.  Yep. Thanks PDAnet!
10. Understand what “There’s no Place Like” means.  No place like home 🙂
11. Identify key-loggers. Have even installed a few of em 😉
12. Properly connect a TV, Tivo, XBox, Wii, and Apple TV so they all work together with the one remote.  Logitech Harmony. Love it.
13. Program a universal remote.  See Above.
14. Swap out the battery on your iPod/iPhone.  I’m a Windows Mobile kind of guy.  With our efficient battery life, there’s no need.
15. Benchmark Your Computer – 3dMark FTW.
16. Identify all computer components on sight.  Even with my eyes closed.
17. Know which parts to order from, and how to assemble them into a working PC. I prefer Frys, but eh.
18. Troubleshoot any computer/gadget problem, over the phone. I’m 24 hour tech support for friends and family.
19. Use any piece of technology intuitively, without instruction or prior knowledge.  Call it nerd intuition, but I know how to use anything, its in my DNA.
20. How to irrecoverably protect data. You’ll never get it!
21. Recover data from a dead hard drive. Although its never been the data I’m looking for…
22. Share a printer between a Mac and a PC on a network.  Finally got this working, then sold the damn Mac.  Never again.
23. Install a Linux distribution. (Hint: Ubuntu 9.04 is easier than installing Windows) Ubuntu 9, eeeBuntu…
24. Remove a virus from a computer. Do you know who I work for?
25. Dual (or more) boot a computer. Ubuntu 9, Vista, Win 7…. Yay Grub.
26. Boot a computer off a thumb drive.  eeeBuntu install.
27. Boot a computer off a network drive. Ubuntu
28. Replace or repair a laptop keyboard. Thanks HP!
29. Run more than two monitors on a single computer. At least 2!
30. Successfully disassemble and reassemble a laptop.  Mac (those superdrives suck) and PC
31. Know at least 10 software easter eggs off the top of your head. People still do this?
32. Bypass a computer password on all major operating systems. Windows, Mac, Linux  Thank  for sudo
33. Carrying a computer cleaning arsenal on your USB drive. Thank god for Knoppix
34. Bypass content filters on public computers. Proxy away.
35. Protect your privacy when using a public computer. I’m really enjoying FF Private Browsing.
36. Surf the web anonymously from home. Likewise, though not too concerned about online security @ home.
37. Buy a domain, configure bind, apache, MySQL, php, and WordPress without Googling a how-to. – uh yeah, a few times.
38. Basic *nix command shell knowledge with the ability to edit and save a file with vi. It may take me a few minutes, but I could do it.
39. Create a web site using vi. I’d rather use wordpress, but I could scrape together an html/php abomination.
40. Transcode a DVD to play on a portable device.  I prefer to download them already done, but yes my iPod has seen a few creations.

41. Hide a file in an image using steganography. Read an article about this, never done it.  Need something I would need to hide first.
42. Knowing the answer to life, the universe and everything. I’m a Grist male, we know EVERYTHING.
43. Share a single keyboard and mouse between multiple computers without a KVM switch.  Mac/PC (Don’t get me started on Mac mouse accuracy)
44. Google obscure facts in under 3 searches. Bonus point if you can use I Feel Lucky. I hate the Lucky thing, but I’m a proficient googler/wolfram alpha’er
45. Build amazing structures with LEGO and invent a compelling back story for the creation. Every time little Alex is visiting my parents!
46. Understand that it is LEGO, not Lego, Legos, or Lego’s. To say otherwise is blasphemy.
47. Build a two story house out of LEGO, in monochrome, with a balcony. Never got that serious. No LEGO stop motion either.
48. Construct a costume for you or your kid out of scraps, duct tape, paper mâché, and imagination. Every year growing up. Thanks Dad!
49. Be able to pick a lock.  Never tried.
50. Determine the combination of a Master combination padlock in under 10 minutes.  Never tried.
51. Assemble IKEA furniture without looking at the instructions. Bonus point if you don’t have to backtrack.  What kind of pussy reads IKEA instructions?  I would better understand a DragonBall Z comic.
52. Use a digital SLR in full manual mode. Never been much into photography, but have more an interest recently.  Can’t justify needing an SLR though.
53. Do cool things to Altoids tins.  No, but Dave Barber showed me instructions to make a radio once.  Looked cool.
54. Be able to construct paper craft versions of space ships.  Wow, no I have much better things to do with my time.
55. Origami! Bonus point for duct tape origami. (Ductigami)  Have done origami as a child.  Not interested in doing again.
56. Fix anything with duct tape, chewing gum and wire.  My garage is always stocked with duct tape.  As every man’s should be.
57. Knowing how to avoid being eaten by a grue.  Never got in to Zork.
58. Know what a grue is. Zork
59. Understand where XYZZY came from, and have used it.  Never played Colossal Cave Adventure.
60. Play any SNES game on your computer through an emulator.  Loaded em all on my eeePC (eeeBuntu) for the flight to Idaho!
61. Burn the rope.  Never played it.
62. Know the Konami code, and where to use it.  Are you kidding me. Its my next tattoo.
63. Whistle, hum, or play on an iPhone, the Cantina song. Long live star wars.
64. Learning to play the theme songs to the kids favorite TV shows.  Learning to play them on what?
65. Solve a Rubik’s Cube. Gave Up.
66. Calculate THAC0.  I’m a new school RPGer.
67. Know the difference between skills and traits.  Not that new.
68. Explain special relativity in terms an eight-year-old can grasp. Special What?
69. Recite pi to 10 places or more.  Not a math guy.  3.14159
70. Be able to calculate tip and split the check, all in your head. No, need calculator.  See beginning of Reservoir Dogs for my opinion on tipping.
71. Explain that the colours in a rainbow are roygbiv.  Red Orange Yellow Green Blue Indigo Violet
72. Understand the electromagnetic spectrum – xray, uv, visible, infrared, microwave, radio.  Evan is the engineer
73. Know the difference between radiation and radioactive contamination.  I hope to never have to know either.
74. Understand basic electronics components like resistors, capacitors, inductors and transistors.  This is Evans territory.
75. Solder a circuit while bottle feeding an infant. (lead free solder please.)  Uh, half points? I’ve solder quite a bit.  No infants though.
76. The meaning of technical acronyms.  Too many to list.
77. The coffee dash, blindfolded (or blurry eyed). Coffee <brew> [cream] [sugar]. In under a minute. Every morning.
78. Build a fighting robot. Wow, no but cool!
79. Program a fighting robot. Wow, no but cool!
80. Build a failsafe into a fighting robot so it doesn’t kill you. Wow, no but cool!
81. Be able to trace the Fellowship’s journey on a map of Middle Earth. Fuck LOTR
82. Know all the names of the Dwarves in The Hobbit.  Fuck LOTR
83. Understand the difference between a comic book and a graphic novel.  You can get into a fight about this.
84. Know where your towel is and why it is important.  This is hinting at some obscure reference, but it escapes me.
85. Re-enact the parrot sketch. Dunno
86. Know the words to The Lumberjack Song.  Dunno
87. Reciting key scenes from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  O Lord, bless this Thy holy hand grenade that with it Thou mayest blow Thine enemies to tiny bits
88. Be able to recite at least one Geek Movie word for word. Spaceballs!
89. Know what the 8th Chevron does on a Stargate and how much power is required to get a lock.  Never watched Stargate
90. Be able to explain why it’s important that Han shot first.  Just wiki’ed this.  I’m not that hard core of a SW fan.
91. Know why it is just wrong for Luke and Leia to kiss. Related! Although if my sister was that hot…
92. Stop talking Star Wars long enough to get laid.  I’ll take chicks over the force any day
93. The ability to name actors, characters and plotlines from the majority of sci-fi movies produced since 1968.  I can’t go that far back, maybe 80+
94. Cite Mythbusters when debunking a myth or urban legend.  Always.  Its regarded as fact just like wiki
95. Sleep with a Cricket bat next to your bed. Again, not sure what this is referring to.
96. Have a documented plan on what to do during a zombie or robot uprising.  There is a post on T&T regarding this.
97. Identify evil alternate universe versions of friends, family, co-workers or self.  Are you kidding me, I live with an evil alternate universe version of myself!
98. Be able to convince TSA that the electronic parts you are carrying are really not a threat to passengers.  After much convincing, they believed that my netbook was not a threat.
99. Talk about things that aren’t tech related.  I do have a social life.
100. Get something on the front page of Digg. I’ve submitted tons, never made front page 🙁

Conversation | Page 4

Cable TV and the home field advantage

I received an email today from Scott Rosner, who recently had his op-ed article published in the Union Tribune.  With permission, I am re-posting his article here, titled “Cable TV and the Home Field Advantage”.  A pretty interesting article considering I have AT&T and don’t get access to those sports channels.  (Not that I watch all that many sports…but still!)  Check it out:

Cable TV and the home field advantage

By Scott Rosner

2:00 a.m. June 21, 2009

If consumers in San Diego and Philadelphia wanted to watch their hometown baseball teams play against each other recently, they could not go to just any television carrier. Each city is facing a squeeze play by their local cable companies: Cox owns Channel 4 in San Diego and Comcast owns Sportsnet in Philadelphia.

Since the dominant cable companies own these regional sports networks, guess who decides whether to allow others, such as satellite providers, to offer local games to consumers? That’s right, Cox and Comcast. If you’re a sports fan in either city who wants – and maybe needs – to root for the home team (including the Comcast-owned Sixers and Flyers in Philadelphia), you’re largely beholden to the cable company.

There are four main ways to receive home video service in the United States: traditional over-the-air broadcast, cable, satellite and now over lines from new competitors such as AT&T and Verizon, who have invested billions in infrastructure and marketing. This kind of competition is good because it means lower prices, more innovation and better customer service. It translates into lower bills for consumers as well as an increasing number of HD and non-HD channels, better DVR technology and bundled service. Consumers win as a result of this highly competitive marketplace.

That is, unless you are a sports fan living in San Diego or Philadelphia. The 1992 Cable Act has program access requirements that promote competition and diversity in video programming. The law prevents cable companies from acting in an unfair or anti-competitive manner when selling the huge amount of cable channels and programming that they own. So why isn’t what is happening in San Diego and Philadelphia illegal? In fact, it would be except for a technicality. At the moment the Federal Communications Commission is reviewing the rule that allows this to occur – the “terrestrial loophole” in the federal Cable Act. By their own admission, cable companies are taking advantage of this outdated exception to program-access laws. The loophole makes the law applicable only to satellite-delivered programming and not to programs delivered via a terrestrial signal. It’s a technicality that serves no rational purpose. Using it, cable companies are able to prevent their chief competitors – currently AT&T and DirecTV/DISH in San Diego and DirecTV/DISH in Philadelphia – from accessing the coveted sports networks.

The FCC has provided evidence that cable operators are using this loophole to keep out competition: In a 2007 order, the FCC noted that “withholding of terrestrially delivered cable-affiliated programming is a significant concern that can adversely impact competition in the video distribution market.” It specifically addressed the situation in San Diego and Philadelphia, stating “there is empirical evidence that such withholding has had a material adverse impact on competition in the video distribution market.”

According to a national research firm, in Philadelphia people are 43 percent less likely to live in a home with satellite service than they are in the rest of the United States because of cable’s lock on the home teams. In other words, of the nearly 6 million residents of the Philadelphia Direct Market Area, an additional 772,000 would have satellite service rather than cable if the area matched the national patter. In San Diego, there are 41 percent fewer households subscribing to satellite service than one would expect based on the national average. This translates to nearly 281,000 households. That’s more than 1 million homes in the two cities combined. No wonder the cable companies are withhold their prime programming from satellite companies.

Cable companies argue that because satellite providers such as DirecTV have exclusive programming of their own, such as the NFL Sunday Ticket package, this home-team monopoly is justified. However, the NFL Sunday Ticket, and sports packages like it, provide access to games played outside the home team’s territory. Unless a carrier has access to the home team, potential competitors simply can’t compete and local fans are forced into a “take it or leave it” deal with their cable company.

The loophole leaves fans perpetually stuck in the 1980s when they had little choice beyond over-the-air broadcasts or cable. The FCC should close this loophole in the law and make a serious statement about competition and consumer protection. Cable companies should not have the home field advantage over sports fans.

Rosner is associate director of the Wharton Sports Business Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania. He may be reached at .


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