Friday, February 26, 2010

Week In Review 22 Feb to 28 Feb

I think that the words for the week are, "What the hell."

I tried to renew my family members' passports today, and that was a cluster f^&k. There is a form that I didn't fill out properly, and the reference even states that my command is supposed to fill that sucker out. What a shock. How about if the folks that are in charge of such things publish the instructions somewhere?

I had a nice day off with my wife yesterday, and we went to a neat park. The park even has a pond, and the fish in there think that anything with a heartbeat will provide them with food. Sweet.

My son needs special track shoes for his high school track team stuff. Super. More money to spend.

It could all be worse. I have a roof over my head, my kids are healthy, and we have food in the fridge.

Update: We were shaken out of bed by a 7.0 earthquake this morning at 0530. I guess it was time to get up anyway. The loudspeakers in the area were broadcasting some sort of announcement, but it must not have been important enough to wake up the bilingual person, since it was only in Japanese. If I were a betting man, I would have put money on it having something to do with "tsunami," but that's just a guess.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Movie Review: Gamer

The previews for this movie looked interesting, and the idea is pretty neat, albeit unoriginal. The movie is set in the near future, and stars Gerard Butler as a convict being "played" in a video game. Gamers have the ability to control real people in combat, with our hero being a wrongly convicted soldier, fighting for his life.

The only real star of the movie is Michael C. Hall, known for his role in the hit series, "Dexter," on Showtime. He plays an excellent psychopath, but the whole thing just stinks. I almost fell asleep a couple of times, and there's just too many points in the movie where I asked, "Why in the hell are they doing that?" There's even a creepy song and dance number near the end that just seemed way too silly for the mood of the film.

Overall, this was 95 minutes of my life that was completely wasted. Don't spend money on this movie. Poor plot, poor acting (with the exception of Hall), and a predictable ending. This one should be renamed, "Lamer."

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Phishing and Other Scams

I get email updates from a site called, Lifehacker. They currently have an interesting piece that points out the above pictured flow chart, with a link to a previous article about phishing attacks.

It never fails to amaze me how some folks, who seem to be fairly intelligent people, can get taken by scam artists. The guy emailing you from Nigeria with a subject line of "Dear blessed friend," probably doesn't
really have 50 million bucks to share with you!

Here's a few tips that I hope are not new for anyone, but the recent article on Lifehacker tells me that some people just don't see the runaway dump truck heading for them:

-If a strange email has an attachment, avoid it! Only open attachments from trusted sources, and when in doubt, send a separate email to that source and ask them if they meant to send you a file, what it is, etc. I doubt if your freind or relative will cry too terribly hard if you don't watch the video they sent you of some kid crashing his bike into a porta-pottie.

-If you get an email from a company that you do business with, and the email asks you for personal information, report the email to the real company, because they won't do that! Popular methods for this scam include asking you to "update" your info, due to some sort of security "alert." A real email from a reputable company will ask you to simply go to their website, or call them. No reputable company will ask you for your personal information in an email.

-If an email sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Emails telling you that you have won something, and then asking you to send them a fee of some sort, are scams. Don't do it! If an email asks you for your bank account number and routing information, avoid it.

-Thanks! If an email thanks you for a recent contribution to a charity (these are popular after natural disasters, like the Haiti earthquake), and asks you to confirm your credit card number, and you don't hear alarm bells, you should get your hearing checked. Don't send your credit card information, or any other financial info, via email.

-Never give your email password to third party applications, or anybody else for that matter. I know that some sites ask for your email username and password, so that they can more efficiently provide you with some sort of functionality. Don't do it! There used to be some reputable sites that use this feature, and I think that a certain social networking site does the same thing ("help us invite all of your contacts!").

This list is not all-inclusive, but it hits some of the wavetops. If you're unsure, avoid the urge to click with that mouse button. There's more info out there, so do your homework, and don't get taken to the cleaners by an email/online scam.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Week In Review 1-7 February

It seems like I blinked, and my weekend is over. It's Sunday evening here, and I just finished up some school work, enjoyed a plate of pork curry, and now I'm browsing some of my favorite websites. What a wild life I lead, right?

I did a "run-swim-run" workout on Friday, and it was a good time. I was able to beat most of my students to the finish point, and that was a good feeling. I expected to be sore Saturday morning, but it just never materialized. Next time I guess I need to push myself harder, right?

My wife and her friend went to a local Okinawan salon to get pedicures. I don't personally get the fascination with it, but it seems like "nail art" is all the rage here. With the low prices and large number of businesses that provide that service, it's rare to see a woman walking around here
without something creative painted on her toes. My wife got cherry blossoms, given the time of year that it is.

It has been raining all week, all weekend, and is supposed to clear up in time to go back to work tomorrow. Isn't that how it usually works? We had planned a trip to the city of Nago to go check out all of the blossoming cherry trees, but the weather has been far too poor for that. Maybe we'll luck out next weekend.

At work, I have a bunch of staff sergeants as students, and one of the current batch is a prior recruit of mine. In other words, I was his drill instructor. It's very interesting to discuss his experiences with him, and learn about my time as a DI from the "customer's" perspective. I think he is exaggerating some of his memories, since I don't recall being quite as mean as he describes.