Saturday, March 28, 2009

How can anyone imagine unquiet slumbers...

The A2 desktop speakers from Audioengine might be just what I'm looking for. You knew I'd mention him here sooner or later: B. Kliban, cartoon genius (gallery 1, gallery 2). Need a marketing expert in the UK? Try Steve Barton. Or for business consulting, try Jim Collins. For those of you with a sweet tooth, try the fruit slice candies from Sanborn's in New Hampshire. Here's the official web site of the SIAM geometric design group. A detailed photo record of the iceman mummy is now available online. If you like huge helicopters, this photoset's for you. I would eat sausage all day and all night, all 6,643 feet of it. These Super Mario sound effects could come in handy. Man pickup (not what you think). Here's a step by step guide to developing CAD software: OpenCAD by Deelip Menezes.

Improve the link targets on your web site through padding and iconography. Smashing Magazine lists 9 common usability mistakes in web design. And jump to the head of the class on Web 2.0 style with Scratch Media's how-to guide. 16 CSS techniques to simplify your life. 100 cheat sheets to help with web design.

March 25th was National Medal of Honor day - don't forget it. Academic Earth is like YouTube for learning. Now that I've got the Ergopod, I'm working from home. Wang grew by 2,225 percent (not what you think). Translate English to Japanese and v.v. using Nihongodict. What are the 4 stages of programming competence? Four ways that companies use Twitter (not at all, poorly, inappropriately, and over the top). Vintage household ads (I want my video phone). The 1936 H.G. Wells film Things to Come forecasts a decades long WWII and the breakdown of modern society. Store your Legos in Box4Blox. Where will you be when the lights go out? Star Wars papercraft models.

And now, drumroll please... A dog milking a goat.

...for the sleepers in that quiet earth. -- Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights

Saturday, March 21, 2009

What do you get when you cross an insomniac, an agnostic, and a dyslexic?

Ever forget where and when you are? Keep track with Time Zone Check. If you're interested in draft tube flow, the Turbine-99 Workshop is for you. Don't be content with mediocrity; read all about best practices for marine CFD and single phase flows. Here's the course web site for Prof. H.C. Chen's Advanced Computation Methods at Texas A&M. You're favorite products as seen on TV, now seen on the interweb. (My favorite: potato peeling gloves.) GraphJam should be funnier. Folks who use the OpenFOAM CFD solver commonly use a suite of tools for meshing: ENGRID, Netgen, and Gmsh. If a volcano erupts underwater near Tonga, does anyone see it? (Answer: Hell yes!) The Show was a 1-year experiment in video blogging by internet personality zefrank. Watch it and laugh.

A shotgun blast of time recording software: TimeWatch, Analyzer Plus, PA Timesheet, Timesheets MTS. TwitPic lets you share photos on Twitter. Here's someone's list of the best browser-based financial tools. A/V Geeks hosts all those vintage films you watched back in your school days. (Gotta love You Can Beat the A-Bomb.) Official web site of guitarist Allan Holdsworth. Read all about meshing guidelines for thermal analysis. Don't you hate it when stuff gets in the way when you're trying to take a picture? These 4 moons flew right in front of Saturn. Need to find out about someone? Use WhoIsHim. (Note to ladies: I didn't name that site so don't complain to me about it not being WhoIsHer.) Share 3D models using 3DVIA. dezineforce offers subscription based on-demand design optimization. Another fantasy computer chair, this time the Vision One. Guano in space. (At least I assume the thing was crapping its pants.) A recycled article from CIO magazine about how to tweet.

That's all for this week. Time to get back to work - the interweb doesn't surf itself.

Someone who stays up all night wondering if there is a Dog.

-- Groucho Marx

Them! and Then!

The 1954 Oscar nominated film Them! delves into atomic weapons testing in the American southwest and its mutating effects on ants. When giant, aggressive ants threaten people and property, law enforcement, the FBI, and the military fight back. Them! is one of the best works of the nuclear fiction genre and is made even more wonderful by the contrast between the primness of 50's lifestyle and the deadly seriousness of nuclear weapons. Fictional portrayals of nuclear war, whether literary or cinematic, are a great glimpse into the collective social psyche of those who lived during the Cold War. If you're interested, give these a try: On The Beach, Dr. Strangelove, The Day After, Arc Light, Threads, Seven Days to Noon, and Strategic Air Command. There are more, many more.

The release in 2004 of guitarist Allan Holdsworth's Then! represents 14 years of waiting for this live recording from 1990 in Tokyo to see the light of day. Holdsworth's classic lineup is here: Jimmy Johnson (bass), Gary Husband (drums), and Steve Hunt (keyboards). Most importantly, the recording and mastering is fantastic, far exceeding the poorly mixed 2002 effort, All Night Wrong. If you want to experience jazz rock fusion by the guitarist that Musician Magazine rates near the top of their 100 greatest guitarists, now is the time for Then!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

We only use 10% of our brains.

Right Brain: This ain't no fish tank; scuba dive on your desktop. From whom would you buy magnets if not Super Magnet Man. This privnote will self destruct in 5 seconds. Learn how to keep a house plant alive. Feel like you're the pilot of an F-104G Starfighter. The motherlode of sounds: turn up the volume for rimshot, sad trombone, crickets, yodel, bom bom bom bom woooo, whistle, tumbleweed, hiyoooo, and more. Put these on your toolbar and you'll be ready to punctuate anything that happens in a boring meeting. The periodic table of typefaces. Mashable has some suggestions about how companies should tweet. This is the only known portrait of Shakespeare made while he was alive. Not the NFL or the AFL, this is the UFL. I've got to get one of these for my office.

No Brain: Take a short break with this delightful puzzle.

Left Brain: XANSYS is an on-line community for users of ANSYS' engineering software products. Join Red Hat's partner program to ensure your software runs efficiently on their Linux systems. If you'd like to download digitized scans of biomedical parts, sign up for the BEL repository. More exercises for your CFD pleasures - here's a list of CFX-Mesh tutorials. Our friends at Baumgarten provide this suite of 3D Studio models for free. Be a student, write open-source software, get a stipend from Google's Summer of Code. Gazelles is Verne Harnish's company for leadership development. Metacomp Technologies' next user meeting will be 15-17 Sep in Ventura, CA. Ten papers to be read twice for software architects and ten more for software developers. NVIDIA's GPU Venture Program is their way of funding use of their CUDA framework for GPU computing. Three news items from the world of computational visualization. ACUSIM began shipping a custom version of FieldView with their Acusolve CFD software. CEI began shipping EnSight Lite 9. And Tecplot 360 2009 was announced. If you had a valid password, you could browse the QNET CFD knowledge base. You can read a brief presentation about ERCOFTAC's CFD best practices. Aras provides open-source PLM software. SolidWorks' 3 Dudes Gone 3D. The third ANSA international conference will be held 09-11 September in Greece.

Imagine how much better off we'd be if we used the other 60%.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The ability to do only a little...

If you're looking for a CSS framework for your next project, try Blueprint. I think they're related to Google somehow. Got an hour and a half to spare? Try watching this video from ANSYS about boundary layer generation. Pictures only an engineer would love: winners of CEI's calendar contest. Do not be fooled by counterfeits; get your pen refills at the official Montblanc shop. You can make your own avatar, but why? Or should I ask whii? The Denge sound mirrors are strangely fascinating. Hold on to your pants for this blast of on-line charting tools: LovelyCharts,, aMap, life->flow->charts, gliffy, iPlotz, and

Creating balloon animals is a lost art. More impressive than 4D rotations is the video about Moebius transformations. Even without reading Russian, this page of test screens is cool. What do you get when two guys from a swanky French restaurant start a Mexican place called Paco & John? Got software to protect? Take a look at Reprise, V.i. Labs, and WIBU. Hungry? Try a McGangBang. And wash it down with the latest from Zio Carlo, a new "Italian brewpub". Free CFD for the unemployed. The 17th annual conference of the CFD Society of Canada will be held on 03-05 May in Ottawa. The official web site of author John le Carre. You can watch the cinematic classic Kung Pow on hulu. Get free icons from iconPot. Not just anti-spyware, it's SUPERAntiSpyware. not an excuse to do nothing.
--John le Carre from A Most Wanted Man

The creation of the ridiculous is almost impossible...

It started innocently enough. I sent an email and it was returned. However, instead of the usual "user unknown" or "email delay, do not resend" messages, this message turned out not to have been returned but rather "rejected". Reading further, apparently our mail server had developed a bad reputation and folks accordingly decided to stop accepting its email. Then another rejection. And a third. It seems these sites all use a rating from SenderBase to reject email. And SenderBase thought we were "poor".

Our SysAdmin did something (specifics omitted) to see if and how email was leaving our premises. He reported good and bad news. The good: he was able to identify unauthorized email was outbound. The bad: it was coming from my computer. Damnation.

A trojan. How did that happen? Regardless, let's stamp this thing out.

First attempt was Kephyr's Bazooka, a tool I had used before to find problems on other computers. It doesn't repair problems, just finds them and shows you how to manually fix them. Unfortunately, Bazooka came up empty. I should've known when the most recent version of their threat database was over 400 days old that maybe it hadn't been kept up to date. I also didn't bother to try their FreeFixer tool which I hadn't used before. No time to experiment - on to the next tool.

Another oldie but goodie is Trend Micro's Hijack This. This tool is not for the faint of heart. It produces a list of stuff that you can peruse to identify bad things or you can post the list to a forum where experts will identify the problems for you. Nothing stood out in the list and the explanations for some items would essentially say "this could be malicious or it could be perfectly normal." I'm not that bright. I move on.

A trusty tool is Lavasoft's AdAware which I've used on our home PC. Unfortunately, while AdAware did find and repair several issues, it didn't find the trojan and the flow of emails kept on going.

Fourth in the arsenal was Safer Networking's Spybot, another tool with which I have experience. But just like AdAware, Spybot found and fixed yet more problems but not the trojan.

I don't recall whether it was AdAware or Spybot, but I scanned using one of them after booting my computer in safe mode. Needless to say, this was a failure with respect to the trojan - no problems found. Also, you should be advised that "safe" mode is somewhat of a misnomer because after rebooting my computer, something had decided to change my Display settings and I had to reset them all manually. Some of the artifacts of that change persist to this day; I can't get rid of them.

Next up was AVG. Unfortunately, it wouldn't even install. This is probably the result of also having AdAware and Spybot installed, but disappointing nonetheless. So, AVG never got tried.

Having exhausted my prior experiences, I turned to Microsoft. It seems they have a Malicious Software Removal Tool. Download. Scan for 3 hours. Nothing. I stare. At. The. Screen.

PC World magazine's web site has always been a reliable place to turn for software recommendations of all kinds, so I go to their Security Center. Sure enough, I find recommendations for several tools and the first I try is Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware. Runs for hours. Finds and removes bad stuff. But the trojan persists.

Another PC World recommendation is SUPERAntiSpyware. This looks promising. It's not just your regular spyware removal tool it's "super". And it's not just "super" it's SUPER in all uppercase. Download. Install. Run. A-ha! It finds a trojan that it identifies by name. It removes it and says I have to reboot because it'll delete more files on startup. Reboot. Oops. Windows fails to start. Is this good or bad? I try again and up she comes. And there's no more bad email. Der trojan ist kerput.

This is good, because I have only one thing left in my bag of tricks. STOPzilla has worked for a friend in a similar situation.

Lessons learned:
  1. Have your sys admin regularly monitor your email score at SenderBase.
  2. Use a malware tool on a regular basis. I will not say which one I've chosen.
  3. If you find yourself with malware, try SUPERAntiSpyware first.

...because of the competition it receives from reality. --
Robert A. Baker