Thursday, December 29, 2005

Holy trojans, Batman!

Seems like there's a fun little Windows exploit out there that allows anyone on any website to embed a very easy-to-create file with a specific extension which has the capability to run arbitrary code on your machine.

Unlike some of the previous IE exploits, this one's particularly nasty -- any program that opens or views the file (including Firefox, though you'll usually get a download/view confirmation box first) can cause the code to execute. I read a blog article by a researcher who tried to wget the file from a DOS window -- only to have Google Desktop, which was running in the background, try to cache the file, executing its payload.

So until Microsoft patches this gaping, goatse-like hole, I'd suggest being very careful about which websites you go to, and you might even reconsider reading internet forums for a little bit. Fortunately, NOD32 catches code executed by this exploit, so it'd be a good idea to install it for the time being.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Happy Holidays? Sure, why not.

I hope everyone had a great Christmas! We're a bit behind on getting stuff sent out, so if you're expecting a package from us, it'll be a few more days.

We had a very good weekend. Hillary got me a new guitar (a very nice acoustic/electric), which was a huge surprise. My fingers aren't used to playing anymore, so it'll take a bit of practice to get familiar with it. We did a traditional turkey/potatoes/stuffing Christmas dinner, and everything was wonderful. The only thing missing was my mom's pumpkin pie (which is godly), but our replacement from the local pie restaurant was nearly as good.

I mentioned it a while back, but I'm firmly re-entrenched in World of Warcraft. I'm raiding Molten Core and Onyxia's Lair weekly with my Mage, and my Shaman is rapidly approaching level 60 (though I doubt I'll use him for raiding). I picked up a copy of WoW for Hillary, and she seems to be enjoying her new Tauren Hunter. I started a Druid just to play with her, and both characters are already level 17. We've played MMORPG's together in the past, but I tend to get burned out and we stop playing before our characters get to the higher levels. I don't think this will happen with WoW, since I already have two endgame-level characters and am still having a lot of fun.

I don't want to go into details just yet, but I may be in a transitory state with my job. As in, I'm really finding myself wanting to transit someplace else. We'll see how it pans out -- they like me here, but some stuff that has happened over the past couple of weeks really gives a new meaning to "hostile work environment". Fortunately, I've saved a lot of money since we moved, so we'll have plenty of breathing room if I decide to look for a new job that I'll be happier at.

A couple of friends have already offered to hook me up with employment in various locations around the country, and I really appreciate that. If I do leave the company, I think we're going to stay in Sandpoint for the time being -- we have another six months on our lease, and Hillary really loves her job. I don't want her to have to move again unless we're in really dire straits, which isn't the case this time around.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Alabama learnin'

There was a thread over at SomethingAwful about how well people can bullshit through their school assignments. This brought back memories of my high school World History class...

I went to a public high school in the deep south, the kind where they get the athletic coaches to teach the "easy" classes like history.

For my 10th-grade World History class, I had the misfortune of getting the baseball coach as my teacher. This was quite possibly the dumbest non-retarded adult I've ever met -- not only did he know nothing about the subject he was supposed to be teaching, but he hadn't the slightest clue how to convey information to others, especially not to rowdy high school students.

This wouldn't have been so bad by itself, but I somehow managed to get in the same class as most of the school's baseball team. This meant that about 75% of classroom time was spent bullshitting about baseball, and the remainder was "instruction" consisting of "uh, just read from your books until the bell rings".

Tests were a joke, since they were usually very obvious true/false and multiple-choice. By the middle of the semester, the baseball team was somehow managing to fail the class, so the teacher started putting these retardedly simple "extra credit" questions on the tests -- ie. "The leader of Germany during World War II was Adolf _________".

With two months left in the semester, I had somewhere around a 135% in the class (being the only person to actually write the assigned papers meant they all became "extra credit", with nobody else being penalized). Not to mention that all of the tests were bumped up on some ridiculous scale to ensure that none of the baseball players were put on academic probation.

I decided to just start fucking around on assignments and tests, since even if I scored a zero on all of them, I'd still finish above an A+. The fill-in-the-blank questions on tests soon became filled with the names of rock stars and video game characters. Trent Reznor sparked the Reformation, and Samus Aran was a great Egyptian pharaoh. Every single one of them came back with a perfect score (or, really, better-than perfect, since I wrote the same bullshit on the extra credit questions).

Our final paper was a vague assignment to write two pages about "something interesting you learned in this class". I made up something about the Hawaiian Illuminati and their scheme to destroy the world's rubber band supply. A+, baby.

It became obvious that the teacher wasn't even reading the tests or assignments anymore and was just giving students whatever grade he'd come to expect from them.

So I guess I wasn't really bullshitting my way through the class out of necessity, but out of boredom and wanting to see how far I could go without getting noticed. I wish I could go back in time and show all of those tests and assignments to the principal -- well, if he hadn't been a stupid, inbred, racist fuck who spent more time hitting on the cheerleaders than administering the school.

Ah, southern public schools, how I miss you.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Vacations and mucus

We're back from DisneyWorld! Overall, we had a great time. The parks weren't too crowded toward the beginning of the week, and once people started coming in for the holidays, we managed to avoid the mobs for the most part.

Unfortunately, I managed to pick up a cold from one of the little outbreak monkeys running around the Magic Kingdom, so I'm sitting here at home when I really should be catching up at work.

Anyway, here's my NyQuil-induced quick recap of our trip...

The good:
- Tower of Terror is still as great as ever, and we managed to fit in five or six rides without ever having to wait in line very long. Also, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (which was closed during our last trip) was fully operational and as fun as I remember from riding it as a 10-year-old.

- 'Ohana (the Hawaiian restaurant in the Polynesian resort) is amazing. Anyplace that brings you tasty, grilled meat until you tell them to stop is alright in my book. I had my birthday dinner there, and between the food, the atmosphere, and my very own super-fancy birthday cupcake, it was one of the best dining experiences I've ever had.

- Le Cellier (the Canadian steakhouse) and the Sci-Fi Dine-In Cafe (an MGM restaurant with a huge movie screen and tables shaped like 50's cars) are great, but I think we got them backwards as far as the ideal menus go. The Sci-Fi didn't even have burgers on the dinner menu, while Le Cellier's lunch menu was sadly lacking a lot of the dishes we had been expecting. Still, both were great meals. In fact, I really can't complain about anything food-related at Disney. If the mouse does one thing right, it's helping you gorge yourself to excess.

- The two miniature golf courses are the best I've ever played on. 18 holes of well-themed, interestingly-designed putting. The Fantasia course had better theming, but the Wintersummerland course had some really bizarre, fun holes (including a rotating "North Pole" that actually moved your ball uphill before dropping it in/near the hole).

The bad:
- The parks started getting crowded on Friday, and by Saturday you could barely walk around the Magic Kingdom. Not wanting to deal with the crowds, we grabbed a FastPass for Thunder Mountain, rode the cute little Transit Authority ride (which never has a line) around Tomorrowland, went back and did our ride, and got the heck out of there. On the way out of the park, we cut right through the middle of the SpectroMagic parade. What were they going to do, throw us out?

- The guys at Le Cellier telling us that we were screwed because we didn't have a reservation, and that all of the other restaurants at Epcot were booked through the end of the year. Uh, yeah, that's why I managed to get a Le Cellier reservation for the next day, and why we could walk right in to virtually any of the other restaurants and get seated immediately. Yeah? Well guess what, you Canadian prongers, we're really enjoying that Stanley Cup, and I think we'll hang on to it for a while. Take that!

- The aforementioned plague I managed to pick up. Fortunately, I didn't start feeling bad until the last day of our vacation, and even then it was just a runny nose. Now I've got sneezes, sore throat, aches, and all that fun stuff. Darn it, I was just sick a month ago!

Things I learned:
- I must be getting old. I enjoyed the food a lot more than the rides this time around. Not that I wouldn't ride Tower of Terror, Test Track, or any of the "mountain" coasters a million times, but the highlights really were the meals.

- Not all Mediterranean food sucks, as evidenced by our unexpected stop at Restaurant Marrakesh (in Epcot's Morocco). Kebabs, chicken in lemon sauce, and honey-apple crepes -- mmmm!

- The Disney Dining Plan is definitely worth the price if you plan on eating to excess every meal. Appetizer, drink, entree, and dessert each day, not to mention a counter-service meal and a snack, for $35 a person. Considering that a few of our restaurant tabs would have been well over $100 for the both of us, that's pretty darned good.

So there you go. We had a blast. We didn't get very many pictures this time around, since it mostly would have been the same as our honeymoon pictures from two years ago. My mom got several from Animal Kingdom and Epcot, so I'll try to post those soon.