Hammer and Axe

The difference between smart and sharp is comparable to the difference between a hammer and an axe. You can cut a tree with a hammer, but it will take more time and create far more mess than with an axe.

PassMark acquires Vocent

PassMark Security acquired Vocent Solutions. I think voiceprint authentication is cool so I am looking forward to meeting ex-Vocent engineers next time I get to PassMark's new offices in Menlo Park. Verified-by-Visa with voiceprint authentication is interesting too.

Meanwhile, the second BayPay meeting will be held at one of the Foster City Visa buildings tommorrow. I hope I can get up at decent hours so I can make it to the meeting.

Movies

Too busy trying to catch up with promises so I'll so post short comments about movies I saw recently at home during breaks.

House of Flying Daggers

A great looking film with stunning action shots throughout the film except the end which was unbelievably bad in all aspects: terrible CG snow storm, dead heroine coming back to life, sloppy flailing fight scene, etc. Acting was mediocre overall with the exception of Zhang Ziyi but then I am a fan of hers so I might be biased. I think the director, Zhang Yimou, ruined most of the conversation scenes by focusing too much on the scenery and pacing the conversations too slowly. The Road Home, also starring Zhang Ziyi, is still his best film IMHO.

Alexander

Everything about this movie sucked so much that I started skipping across scenes within 10 minutes. I did watch the battle scenes but got only dust and confusion in my mouth afterward. Alexander opened a new chapter in the history of warfare but this movie made him looked like a dustrat. Oliver Stone must have been stoned while directing this movie.

Sin City

Except for the opening and the ending scenes which detracted from the movie IMHO, everything was great although I think more attention could have been paid to background music. Oh, yeah. More of Jessica Alba on the stage would have been nice too. 🙂

That's all.

Bloody Home Remedy

After coming back from our camping trip at Tahoe, I had a stomach ache which got worse over time. My hands and feet got colder and my face was turning white (whiter that is), bad signs. When all the usual over-the-counter medicine didn't work, I asked my wife to bleed my thumbs.

Bleeding the thumb is a traditional korean home remedy for upset stomach with symtoms I described above. The practice is common enough in Korea that you can buy a specially designed needle at korean drug stores. Outwardly, it looks like a pen but when you press the button at the back, a needle darts out quickly to punch a tiny hole. In absense of such a device, you can just use a needle or anything sharp and pointy.

Before bleeding the thumb, you have to push bad blood toward the thumb you are tapping. This is difficult to explain but it is done by sweeping one's hand across the body toward the thumb. While one hand is doing that, the other hand holds the thumb at the bottom to keep the bad blood from flow away. A few sweep is enough. Once this is done, the thumb should look really red. Now bend the thumb toward the palm and punch a hole just above the thumbnail. If it was effective, you should see really dark blood coming out. If it is done well, your stomatch should feel as if someone pushed the flush button.

I ended up bleeding both of my thumbs. My wife is not that good at it so there was no flushing. Still, my hands and feet got warmer and my face returned to normal color. Pain subsided as well so I was able to watch Kung Fu Hustle with my wife.

Anyhow, I don't know how it works but I do know that it does help if it is not abused. You should not be bleeding your thumbs repeatedly. If it didn't work the first time, it won't work the second time.

Another effective yet less bloody korean home remedy is putting a grain of rice or a small piece of rock under a bandaid to ease throbbing pain. My guess is that it creates noise in the nerve system that interferes with the throbbing pain.

Camping Again

I'll be leaving for the last camping trip of the summer today. Its somewhere on the coast of Lake Tahoe, not sure exactly where because I am just the pack mule. My wife does all the camping trip planning you see. In fact, I forgot about this trip until she reminded me yesterday. Like I said, I am an ass but, thankfully, I was smart enough to find a wife who forgives easily. Hee haw.

Ubuntu on Dell Inspiron 8000

I am downloading Ubuntu 5.04 now to install on my old Dell Inspiron 8000 which is I no longer use because XP performance suddenly plummetted to an unusuable state a few months ago. I'll update this post as the Unbuntu experience unfolds. It'll be a while because I am writing code today and can spare only compilation breaks.

After downloading and burning the install CD ISO image, I had moment of doubt so I tried the 'live' version which runs Ubuntu without installing. After listening to the CD drive grind away for ten minutes, I landed on the Ubuntu gnomish desktop. Hmm. Not bad at all.

So now I am in midst of actually installing Ubuntu. The hard drive was wiped a few minutes ago so all I can do is cross my fingers and half-smile nervously.

3 hours after installation

Install took a long time, very long time, long enough for me to watch House of Flying Daggers. This surprised me and made me suspect that XP might not have been the culprit behind the sudden slow problem. My suspicion was confirmed when I ran some programs after the movie/installation. Dog slow. I mean dead dog slow.

When I first ran into the sudden slow down problem, I ran every damn diagnostic program I could find and every one of them said the laptop hardware was just fine. And that made sense because the laptop worked perfectly, as perfectly as paint drying on LCD screen. So I figured it was the butler that did it but I may have resurfaced over an innocent butler.

By googlish luck, I ran across this item in Bay Wolf's Inspiron BIOS FAQ when I went hunting for some clues.

Q: When performing any task that uses a lot of processor power, the fan kicks on. Then the entire system slows to a crawl. Restarting doesn't help. When I turn off the computer, wait a minute and then turn it back on, the system is back to normal. What is causing this?

A: Press Fn+Z together. If the cpu speed returns and the fans turn off or cycle, then it is a BIOS cpu temp reading routine failure. First try resetting the BIOS to factory defaults – Press F9 or Alt+F in the BIOS. If that doesn't stop it, then you will need to upgrade your BIOS. This is especially true for the I8000 and I8100 notebooks. If there is not an updated version of the BIOS, then you will need to downgrade your BIOS to a previous one until a version of the BIOS is released that corrects this problem.

If the problem really is a BIOS cpu temp reading routine failure, you can trigger the problem in the offending BIOS by either suspend or hibernate the notebook, then return. The fans will come on and cpu usage goes to 100% – things run VERY slow.

So I pressed Fn+Z. Just like that, the laptop was back to it's old self. I wasn't sure if I should be jumping with joy or rushing outside in search of some Dell engineers to strangle. Oh, well. It's a long mad dash to Texas anyway and, without this CPU temperature reading bug in the BIOS, I wouldn't have had the chance to blow away a hard drive full of expensive software nailed to the machine and wouldn't have tried Ubuntu. Small blessings.

To make the long story shorter and save you the story about the unreadable mountain of diskettes, I installed the latest BIOS and now Ubuntu is ready to inspire more whining and pining in the near future.