WiFi Hotels

The news that every Best Western hotels in the US will have free wireless is great to hear. I don’t know if they’re doing this based on market research, but personally I will be staying at their hotels as much as possible when I travel now. I searched and searched for Southern California hotels that had free wireless and after giving up on a few places that claimed to but didn’t, I accidentally found a Holiday Inn in Orange County with multiple default Linksys base stations in the hotel. I’ve ended up staying there the last four times I went down to see my family, even though it’s a pretty shabby hotel and probably overpriced (it’s around $70-80 a night).

It’s good to see Best Western recognize this, it’s not like I want to just camp out online when I travel, but it’s nice to catch up with work and personal email when you get to the hotel at night without having to hassle with dialups and outbound call charges. Knowing that every single Best Western will be equipped will make searching for a simple cheap place to sleep much easier in the future.

I get more hits in a week than you get all year

I’ve joked with friends about someday doing hip-hop style boasting songs related to blogging, for shits and giggles but this joke dis song is hilarious. “Calling out” another blogger with all the pomp and shit-talking of classic hip-hop battles. “Watch your trackback” is the best line ever.

Highs and Lows

The past week has been pretty hectic. It all started when my My grandmother passed away at the age of 88. It wasn’t totally unexpected, but sad nonetheless. Going down to Southern California and dealing with funeral and family matters helped me cope and catching up with family reminded me of all the good times we’ve had together with grandma. I also got to see cousins and aunts and uncles (and ex-aunts and ex-uncles) I hadn’t seen in ages, which was great.

Another bright spot in the week came during a lull between family functions. There was nothing to do one day so I went to Disneyland for the first time since about 1995. I grew up a few miles from Disneyland, but I never tire of observing the design of experiences there. They’ve continued to innovate with just about the most sophisticated parking garage ever built and the fastpass system that lets you cut to the front of the line after a couple hours, instead of waiting in lines. I surprised myself by actually staying in the park from noon until almost closing 11 hours later, and I think it was the fastpass that let that happen. Normally I’d be standing for hours in lines, getting a sore back and feet, but I felt fine up until the end and I got to ride just about everything in the park with very little waiting.

I’ll be metering out the photos on my other site for the next week, but I set aside two of my favorite images as desktops: Storybook land whale and the tomorrowland rockets.

Mozilla virus?

I’ve talked before about my dad’s problems using the internet and how he’s inundated with IE and Outlook Express exploits, but he surprised me today by showing me his copy of Firebird has been hijacked by something (I insisted he move to Firebird to avoid IE exploits last summer).

Here’s a screenshot showing what you get if you try to go to google or yahoo in his copy of Firebird 0.61 (I’m currently downloading 0.7 for him). I’ve never seen anything like this before, hopefully it’s not a sign of things to come.

update: I’ve done a bit more investigation and it’s really weird but google works fine in IE (IE may be running through an ISP proxy — I forgot to check the settings). I ran ad-aware and removed a couple processes a couple dozen registry keys and a few apps that were clearly spyware, and yet the problem persists in even the newly downloaded firebird after Ad-Aware gives a clean bill of health.

I suspect it’s got something to do with the PeoplePC dialup package he has to use to connect to the web. They do offer cheap dialup, I wouldn’t be surprised if they made money in other ways such as these (he’s had problems in the past with PeoplePC).

another update: looks like it’s this coolweb search trojan (thanks brad), which rewrote the hosts file. They exploited a java bug in IE (I told him not to use IE, but does he listen?) that allows them to install their spyware. I wonder why the search page is still up, if it’s easy to trace it back to who did it and where they host. I would expect most hosting contracts to boot trojan horse spyware spammers.

Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah

I recently went under the iron which is a comprehensive interview with me about all the projects I’m working on, mostly about blogging. Feel free to pop in and ask additional questions, and I’ll do my best to answer them in a timely fashion.

Celebrites on the web

This is an interesting use of the web by Margaret Cho. She’s been getting a slew of awful email since her statements at a fundraiser were taken out of context (her opinion of the selected transcript), so her webmaster posted them all, with their original email addresses. The ones that notice they’ve been publicly shamed have recanted, many invoking their Christian teachings (but why did they send such hateful messages in the first place?).

Of course the difference between this page on Cho’s site and the NRA’s blacklist of people to avoid and harass aren’t that different, but this is the first time I’ve seen a celebrity use their notoriety to bolster aid online.

Until you’re dizzy

As much as I’ve wanted Paul O’Neill’s recent revelations to be true and finally make Bush supporters think twice about their leader, I’m kind of skeptical about the whole thing. Let me explain why.

I tend to look at motive when something shocking comes out and there’s the matter of him being a bad enough official to get fired and the way he used a new book to reveal his story. Those things point to him perhaps trying to seek revenge on a former employer and an obvious financial interest in generating publicity. Let me state again that I want it to be true, and this is just my way of doing due dilligence before making a decision about an issue or news item. I could excuse most of the criticism I heard of O’Neill and I was ready to buy his whole story until I heard him and Ron Suskind, the author of the new book, on NPR yesterday.

Listen for yourself and know that while I listened with a bit of a skeptic’s ear, I couldn’t help but notice what a slimeball Ron Suskind comes off as. It’s not just me, right?

The show basically follows a pattern: Terry asks O’Neill a question to which he’ll slowly give a semi-answer to, then Ron butts in to explain in exhaustive detail what “Paul meant by what he just said.” O’Neill wasn’t nearly as harsh about the Bush presidency on the air, which surprised me from everything I read. I hate to use this term, but it feels like the story is just spin, and I got furious listening to Suskind tweak everything O’Neill said into the worst possible indictment of the Bush admin.

Whenever a story comes out, always go to the first sources if you can. Hearing the statements right from the horse’s mouth in this case, I can’t help but feel O’Neill had some genuine beefs with his former boss and had a few good points about how poorly they run some processes (like stacking economics and energy meetings with like-minded industry instead of getting input from a range of interested parties), but on the whole those points are lost as Suskind brewed mountains out of molehills.