random and otherwise

Category: "General"

Borders Forced to Liquidate, Close All Stores

  07/19/11 14:08, by , Categories: General

Link: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303661904576454353768550280.html

Close to 400 Borders stores will start closing up shop this Friday and the rest are to follow, resulting in all Borders stored closed by the end of September.

I always preferred Waldenbooks/Borders over Barnes & Noble. When I tried to think of the reason for that, I couldn’t come up with much. The only bookstore in the town where I grew up was a Waldenbooks. Over the years, their prices always seemed more reasonable than B&N (of course, they were still more expensive than Amazon). Finally, Borders stores somehow seemed a little cozier than B&N stores. It’s possible that the last point may be connected to the first.

I haven’t shopped at Borders in over a year and I know it’s because I bought Molly a Nook. Having that piece of hardware made a connection between us and the B&N brand. Molly wanted to buy books from B&N so that they wouldn’t go out of business and the Nook store would continue to be available.

Though I’m only speaking from my experience, e-readers may be a large part of why Borders failed and B&N didn’t.

Still, fewer physical bookstores in the world saddens me a bit.

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Mastercard DDOS'd

  12/08/10 09:38, by , Categories: General

From The Guardian:

The website of MasterCard has been hacked and partially paralysed in apparent revenge for the international credit card’s decision to cease taking donations to WikiLeaks.

A group of online activists calling themselves Anonymous appear to have orchestrated a DDOS ("distributed denial of service") attack on the site, bringing its service at www.mastercard.com to a halt for many users.

“Operation: Payback” is the latest salvo in the increasingly febrile technological war over WikiLeaks. MasterCard announced on Monday that it would no longer process donations to the whistleblowing site, claiming it was engaged in illegal activity.

The group, which has been linked to the influential internet messageboard 4Chan, has been targeting commercial sites which have cut their ties with WikiLeaks. The Swiss bank PostFinance has already been targeted by Anonymous after it froze payments to WikiLeaks, and the group has vowed to target Paypal, which has also ceased processing payments to the site. Other possible targets are EveryDNS.net, which suspended dealings on 3 December, Amazon, which removed WikiLeaks content from its EC2 cloud on 1 December, and Visa, which suspended its own dealings yesterday.

I’m a firm supporter of Wikileaks and the work they do, but this is stupid. I understand that people don’t like how Wikileaks is being treated. I understand that they want to do something about it.

What I don’t understand is what they think taking down the offender’s websites will accomplish. I’m sure Mastercard IT is running around trying to get the site back up, but I’m also sure that Mastercard management isn’t saying “Oh man, we should really allow processing of donations to Wikileaks so these internet hackers will leave us alone.” That’s absurd.

Mastercard is a private business and they are well within their rights to disallow the processing of payments for whosoever they choose. Just as you, as a consumer, are within your rights to not use their services. What you don’t have a right to do is to take down their website. That’s illegal.

So if you want to make a difference, write a letter expressing your concern, explaining why Wikileaks is not breaking any laws, and threatening to discontinue use of Mastercard’s services. Don’t be a jerk (or a criminal).

Lemonade stand-in

  09/03/10 11:51, by , Categories: General

Once, when I was a kid, I set up a lemonade stand in front of my dad’s store. It just so happened that the soda machine next to my stand was broken that day. I made a lot of sales because of that.

It just hit me how awesomely serendipitous that was.

Big Brother

  06/14/10 16:31, by , Categories: General

Ideal Rebound

Last week, I was looking for some replacement pucks for my Rebound game. It’s missing two of each color.

Today, I was looking up lyrics to “Like A Hurricane” by Niel Young. The website I landed on had this advertisement on it:

Ideal Rebound puck ad

Ok, kind of freaky. But I figure that a cookie was set on my computer that stored what product I was searching for and this advertisement accessed that cookie to determine what to display. Understandable, but still a little unsettling.

It just so happened that my mp3 player was on shuffle and it was playing “New American Century” by KMFDM. By pure coincidence the next line I heard was “Your every move is logged and tracked.

Cowon A2 Battery

  04/21/10 09:55, by , Categories: General

I thought my mp3 player was dying. After fully charging it, the battery indicator would only fill in 2 of the 4 bars.

It took some searching, but I found one remedy to try before buying a new battery or player. I let the battery drain completely. Even at half capacity, it took around 5 hours to discharge. After it turned itself off from lack of power, I charged it via the USB cable instead of the wall charger. This charges the battery slower and apparently batteries like that.

I’m not sure if this process works with all lithium polymer batteries, but it worked for the one in my Cowon A2. When I started the player up this morning, it had full bars!

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