Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Tech Tip: Recover Your Software Keys

Ever lost a CD key when you need to install your Microsoft products on a new system?

Nir Sofer of NirSoft has the answer. This neat little program recovers the Product ID of your Microsoft products, and works backward to give you the product key for Windows, Office, and other Microsoft sofware, including Internet Explorer.

The NirSoft site is full of other useful freeware, too, including a bevy of programs to recover lost passwords for a number of applications.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


Theo Epstein returns as Red Sox General Manager

I guess this is a case of better late than never...but after losing Johnny Damon and a couple of dicey offseason trades, is it too late to get the Red Sox into the 2006 postseason? This Yankees fan certainly hopes so. HA HA HA!

Nice Guy Eddie

In memoriam:

Memorable character actor Chris Penn, who appeared in one of my favorite movies as well as one of my favorite video games, passed away yesterday. Rest in peace.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

New Year's Photos

In response to the...ahem...overwhelming barrage of comments, I've uploaded the pictures I took of my friends and I at The Boathouse in Exton, PA for New Year's Eve a few weeks ago to my Flickr site. You can view the photos here.

Resident Aliens: (Space)hogs

Here's a sentence I never thought I'd type on this blog: let's raise a glass and toast one for the great state of Taxachusetts.

You see, about a week and a half ago, the state legislature gave me a great birthday present: they voted against a bill granting in-state tuition to illegal aliens....oh wait, I'm sorry, I believe the politically correct nom du jour is "undocumented immigrants".

This trend is just disturbing: coddling people who are violating federal laws at taxpayer expense. College tuition at state schools is supposed to be cheaper for state residents because the school is funded, at least in part, by the taxpayers. But how many illegal aliens actually report their income and pay state taxes? Very few, I'm sure. I've lived in Delaware as a full time resident for six years now, and as a homeowner for almost three, yet if I wanted to change my college tuition rate from out of state to in-state (a moot point, since I can attend classes free due to the fact that I'm a full-time professional at the university), I would have to jump through a number of bureaucratic hoops to prove that I no longer live with my parents in another state. Apparently, in 14 states (Delaware is not one of them), I wouldn't even have to prove that I legally live in this country. Ridiculous.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Monday Quick Hits

I don't have any really coherent thoughts for a Monday, so here's a few unconnected ramblings (most of which came as I read the local section of the paper earlier):

-I watched the Billy Bob Thornton remake of Bad News Bears over the weekend, and it was pretty good (at least at 2 AM, under a heavy haze of alcohol, but really, that's how all Billy Bob Thornton movies should be watched.) It was a great retelling, with Billy Bob retaining much of his edge from the equally terrific Bad Santa, turning Morris Buttermaker into a borderline sociopath. The end gets a little "soft" for my taste (reformation seems inevitable in any film like this), but I still highly recommend it.

-Faxman dodged jury duty last week. This Wilmington woman tries to make it more interesting--by insulting and yelling at the jurors? That's the kind of excitement I can live without. Thus far, in the 6 years I've been a permanent resident of Delaware, I've avoided the call for jury duty. When it inevitably comes, I hope I'm not in this broad's orientation group.

-Local business owners want to install cameras in a neighborhood that's near some pretty dicey areas. What a surprise, the ACLU is against a crime prevention measure.

American Civil Liberties Union of Delaware Executive Director Drew Fennell said she is concerned whenever she hears of a new camera surveillance program. "Depending on the technology, they could invade private spaces such as the interiors of buildings or cars -- or violate people's expectations of privacy on the street," she said.

If a cop sees something illegal going on in a house or car from the street, that's called "probable cause", Drew. Why should it be any different if it's seen through a camera aimed at a public place?

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Chocolate City

Like George Clinton and Parliament, I always thought Washington, DC was Chocolate City and the Vanilla Suburbs".

Apparently, I was wrong.

Does Ray Nagin know how to alienate people, or what? He starts off his Martin Luther King Day speech with a page straight out of Pat Robertson's book:

"Surely God is mad at America. He sent us hurricane after hurricane after hurricane, and it's destroyed and put stress on this country," Nagin, who is black, said as he and other city leaders marked Martin Luther King Day.

"Surely he doesn't approve of us being in Iraq under false pretenses."

See how neatly he combines a religious-right-sounding "God's will" with standard issue left-wing "Bush lied" rhetoric? Sure, he's probably still a bit steamed at the president about the poor initial response after Katrina (even though there's plenty of blame to go around from top to bottom), but the last time I checked, the soldiers helping to free Iraq were from many different countries, not just the U.S., and even the American soldiers over there aren't all from the hurricane-devastated areas.

And from there, he just moves on into what amounts to segregation talk:
"It's time for us to come together. It's time for us to rebuild New Orleans - the one that should be a chocolate New Orleans," the mayor said. "This city will be a majority African American city."

Imagine the uproar--and rightly so--if the mayor of another city had come out after such a disaster (Giulani after 9/11 springs to mind, although the damage there was much more localized) and said "Let's rebuild this city in plain vanilla!" Anyone brain-dead enough to say something like that would be absolutely finished politically--the news media would see to that. They wouldn't cover it for a day, cover the apology, then that would be the end of it.

And what a backpedaling apology--see if you believe his rationalization. It's a fitting close to this post.
“How do you make chocolate? You take dark chocolate, you mix it with white milk, and it becomes a delicious drink. That is the chocolate I am talking about," he said.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Odd Couple

As the old saying goes...

"Keep your friends close...

...and your enemies closer."

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

There's a New Sheriff in Town

If you look over at my Links section over on the right sidebar, you'll see that there's a new one right at the top. Ordinarily, I add each new link at the bottom of the list (mostly because it's easy and I'm lazy), but as I welcome my old friend the Faxman into the blogosphere, he gets the nepotistic treatment and a bump to the top of the list. He's only been going for a few days, but already has posts on Lenny Briscoe, Master P, Troeg's Oatmeal Stout, and Star Wars Legos. If you enjoy this blog (and my stats show that very few of you do), you'll probably like his even better.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Book Controversy


I changed up my "Recent Experiences" section (over in the left sidebar, if you've never scrolled all the way down) over the holidays to highlight a book I recently read and greatly enjoyed (and, by the way, the only time in my life thus far that I've ever read, let alone recommended, a book that was part of Oprah's Book Club). That book, which is still linked, is James Frey's memoir of rehab and recovery from alcohol and drug abuse, A Million Little Pieces.

But is it really a memoir? Earlier this week, Frey's credibility regarding a number of the events in his books was called into question by The Smoking Gun, specifically the severity of his criminal past. (Warning, spoilers in preceding links.)

Two problems, though:
1. TSG is trying to prove a negative--"because we can't find proof of Frey's accounts, therefore they're most likely faulty". (And my inference from the tone of their article is that the only reason they couched their accusations in tones with a hint of doubt is to avoid legal action from Frey and his publishers.) It's a simple fact...you can't absolutely prove a negative. (That said, I do find it highly unlikely that all of Frey's records would be supressed if he was as much of a badass criminal as he claimed in his book.)

2. More importantly, why does anyone care whether this story is complete truth, complete fiction, or some amalgamation of his actual experiences blended with exaggeration or outright invention. This is a great book, and if anything, the controversy only makes it more interesting to read and decide for yourself whether it's truth, fiction, or somewhere in between. The book stays, with my own recommendation, at least until I read something else that moves me to change my sidebar.

Sunday, January 08, 2006


It's Sunday morning as I type this, and I'm sitting on my parents' couch waiting for the start of the Giants' first playoff game since their wildcard loss to the 49ers in the 2002 season. Since I've got football on my mind, here's some thoughts on the recently decided NFL MVP race.

There's no doubt that Alexander had the best season out of just about anybody in that race, and for that I congratulate him. He led the league in rushing yards and set a single-season touchdown record. But if you take the MVP award at its literal meaning of the player who was most valuable to his team overall for the year, there are at least two candidates who are far more deserving: Tom Brady and Tiki Barber. Playing in the NFC west, there really was very little doubt that Seattle was going to run away with the division and make the playoffs. True, they did better than almost anyone expected, running away with a first round bye and home field, but would they have done without Alexander? Chances are they'd still have won the division regardless--after all, 7-9 would have been enough to take it.

How would the Giants have done without Barber? How would they have done without over 40% of their offensive yardage? It's all speculation, but chances are they'd have lived up to preseason expectations and gone 8-8 or 7-9, and missed the playoffs--after all, in the NFC East, Dallas would have missed the playoffs even if they'd won their meaningless Sunday night game on New Year's Day to go 10-6. Tiki's phenomenal performance on the ground (a Giants franchise record for single season rushing yardage, by the way, and only 20 yards behind Alexander) and as a receiving option opened up the offense for a young, developing quarterback, who, oh yeah, still hadn't played a full season halfway through 2005.

And then there's Tom Brady. Sure, he started the season as a defending champ, predicted to continue to do great things in 2005. But then the wheels came off the bus, one by one, as defenders, receivers, and running backs fell to injury. It got so bad that Tedy Bruschi had to come back from a stroke to fill out the Pats' D (and he still makes me nervous every time he collides with someone). But Tom Brady stepped up, got the job done, and the Patriots are now in the divisional round of the playoffs.

Here's my rankings for the Beast's World 2005 NFL MVP, using the AP candidates:

1. Tiki Barber
2. Tom Brady
3. Shaun Alexander
4. Carson Palmer
5. Peyton Manning

Happy 2006, everyone!