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Gabe Wollenburg's blog

Rejected Query Letters

Here's a query letter that I just opted not to send. I'm posting it here for you to enjoy.

Please consider publishing my "appreciation" of Terry Brook's Sword of Shannara. I pitch Brooks' work as a suitable alternative to those looking to fill the hole left behind when they finished Lord of the Rings. Chris Tolkien can re-write his dad's works all he wants, Terry Brooks does a lot better job of doing what Tolkien does -- only without all the fucking elves.

Frankly, there are too elves in Shannara. At least, one unfortunate elf. But she's really only in the Scions series, and she's not so much an elf as a pointy-eared lady-man.

Best. Post. Ever.

I just posted what may be my Magnum Opus of posts. Please enjoy Oconomowoc's Most Famous Former Drag Queen.

Is Josh Kilmer-Purcell Oconomowoc’s most famous former Drag Queen? Maybe. According to his “possibly not generally notable” Wikipedia entry, Kilmer-Purcell allegedly spent some of his formative years a resident of our fair city.
Kilmer-Purcell’s drag persona, known as “Aquadisiac,” was allegedly renowned for sporting a pair of goldfish as part of her attire; a single fish swimming in each of her ample breasts.
The thing is, Aquadisiac does not appear in the go-to drag queen reference book: “Drag Dolls” by Roundtable Press. Henceforth we’re not sure we believe in the genuine existence of Aquadisiac.

Hop over there, click a few ads, and enjoy!

The Half-hour Video

Created this in about 30 minutes in iMovie HD. Viva la Flip. Music Source

Gaia, Daddy both like less 'poopy' computers.

Gaia likes my work computer because it doesn't have any "poop" in it. This is because I explained to her that my desktop at home -- my Ubuntu machine -- took a poop last week and won't work anymore. She's very disappointed at the lack of Tux Paint in her life.
So, we sat down at the "Pooputer" as we're calling it now, and managed to chisel 25 minutes of tux-paint out of it before the poop kicked in and pooped the pooputer to poopington. She was pleased and the results were, as always, tuxpaintriffic.
I like my work computer because it was paid for by someone other than me. I think, in the future, I'm going to try to negotiate a private laptop into all my employment arrangements.
Sure, the world is moving away from platform/hardware based document processing/storage, but that is exactly the justification for including a laptop in my work requirements. I don't need to be tied to just the office intranet anymore. I work everywhere. Even when I'm not at work.
The fact is, when I'm away from the office, I shouldn't use the computer that has poop in it. Everybody, but especially my office IS people, should appreciate that.

Firefox's big security hole

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web414 meeting
What I love about this photo taken by our friend John December is that it shows me using one of the most egregious security flaws in a modern software product to get Bucketworks' Ustream password out of Firefox.
If you let Firefox manage your passwords on a public computer you are exposing your passwords to anyone who comes along and knows to look.
Worse, there have been bugs that expose those passwords to the entire internet.

Use Firefox's master password feature to slap a small bandaid on this problem.

Follow up to Netflix PR

A follow up to the previous post: Netflix sent me a form letter telling me that I'm probably not going to get a response. Nice. I'm not going to bother to post it, because it's just a crappy canned form letter telling me to call their assy support service.

It suddenly occurred to me that I could try running IE as "Administrator" might give the netflix Drm component installer the ability to stick it's dcik in my PC and come up juicy. Bing Bang, boom. Vista's all sexed up and can play videos again. ANd might be pregnant. You never know.

DRM does nothing to prevent piracy and hassles the rest of us. I do believe that content creators deserve to be paid for their work, however, I don't think the front line consumer should have to pay for the brunt of it. This is a debate for another day. I'll just say this.

It was me, and not any sort of caring on the part of netflix, that has restored my ability to stream netflix movies on demand on my windows pc.

Thanks for nothin, Netflix.

An Open Letter to Netflix

Dear Friendly Folks at Netflix.

I'm having nothing but trouble with your view on demand services. I have a Windows Vista laptop with all the latest patches and service packs but it will not play your on demand videos. The system continually tells me there are problems with the DRM. I follow the instructions to reset the DRM, but I they never seem to clear up the problem.

Still defective.

Please consider abandoning the hostile DRM wrappers that make your service non-functional. Not only do they make it hard for legitimate, long-time customers such as myself to enjoy your service, they actively lock your product and service into a single delivery mechanism, which, I'm sure you understand, limits your firms abilities to respond to changing marketing conditions.
Defective by Design

I understand that there are market pressures that prevent your firm from operating without DRM systems in place, but that doesn't mean your firm should only provide service to a single class of PC users. In that regard, I support expanding your streaming service to other set-top-boxes like the Playstation 3. I would consider even spending a small increase in my subscription fee for the ability to stream netflix movies to the PS3.

One thing, however, I do not support, is the addition of a premium charge for blue-ray disks. I will not pay an additional fee to include blue-ray disks in my netflix cue. Please do not enact one, as it will merely curtail my enjoyment of the blue-ray platform.

Thank you very much for your time, consideration, and timely response,

Gabe Wollenburg
Netflix consumer since March, 2004.

PS. Please note that a copy of this message has been posted on my blog at

Ping times from Manitowish Waters.

Pathetic.Warning: Here's a first-world gripe.
Come Monday Morning, the CenturyTel DSL we enjoy at our Lakehouse slowed down to become extra craptastic.

Here are the pings to Google:
PING ( 56 data bytes
64 bytes from icmp_seq=0 ttl=242 time=2268.945 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=1 ttl=242 time=2238.784 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=2 ttl=242 time=2208.223 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=3 ttl=242 time=2177.891 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=4 ttl=242 time=2150.244 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=5 ttl=242 time=2120.107 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=6 ttl=242 time=2089.441 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=7 ttl=242 time=2059.193 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=8 ttl=242 time=2028.967 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=9 ttl=242 time=1998.596 ms
10 packets transmitted, 10 packets received, 0% packet loss
round-trip min/avg/max/stddev = 1998.596/2134.039/2268.945/86.041 ms

And, just to be sure it wasn't trouble between the lappy and the gateway, here's a ping to the gateway:

PING ( 56 data bytes
64 bytes from icmp_seq=0 ttl=64 time=2.338 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=1 ttl=64 time=2.426 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=2 ttl=64 time=2.486 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=3 ttl=64 time=22.380 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=4 ttl=64 time=1.488 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=5 ttl=64 time=38.085 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=6 ttl=64 time=1.358 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=7 ttl=64 time=2.404 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=8 ttl=64 time=5.696 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=9 ttl=64 time=2.264 ms
10 packets transmitted, 10 packets received, 0% packet loss
round-trip min/avg/max/stddev = 1.358/8.092/38.085/11.668 ms

I don't honestly expect any of you to find this interesting or even informational. I'm mostly posting this to keep track of for testing next time I'm up here. Sure, I could just put a text file on a thumbdrive, but I've got the internet to do my thinking for me, Darn it!

Too Much Text in a single box

Here's a classic example of a misguided dialog box. It's too much information in a square box presented in a series of convoluted noun-phrases.

Granted, it's a "More details" dialog, so you have to cut it some slack for giving more details. However, instead of giving useful details, this dialog just spits out a bunch of stuff in a huge block of text that pretty much stupidly covers four probable scenarios without giving any meaningful insight.

I suggest, instead, the "details" option offer just that: more details. What this dialog offers isn't more details, it's more words.

I came across it using a Hardy Heron live cd checking on a what I believe is a hard-disk failure that took an otherwise serviceable WinXP laptop down. I wrote this post using the same liveCD. Nice work, Ubuntu guys. The Heron is a great little linux. Even on a borked Lappy.

made it up north

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