Obama is Bill Clinton with his Pants On

I think that what Democrats of my cohort (30s and 40s) really want from Obama is a do-over of Clinton’s first term. Only this time with no bimbos, travel office “scandal”, trooper tales, or land deals. No health insurance road shows starring Ira Magaziner. No government shut downs. No Vince Foster conspiracy theories. No Gennifer. No Paula. No cigar. No blue dress. No Monica.

Definitely no Monica.

People used to quip that Clinton was the first black President. Well, maybe it works both ways. Maybe we want the first black President to be Clinton.

Switching from Quicken to Microsoft Money because I like PayTrust

I know that’s not a particularly pithy title, but I want to do my best to make this one show up in search results. This post should really be called something like, “How to Make Loyal Customers Hate Your Guts” or “What the Hell are they Thinking?

So anyway, I am a fan of the bill pay service PayTrust. I’ve been a customer for about seven years, and recommended the service without hesitation. Reasonable price, works as advertised. I also use Quicken, so I was actually pleased when Intuit bought PayTrust. Great, I naively thought, they’ll integrate the products and it’ll get even better!

That was in early 2005.

Did they integrate?

They did not.

Not only did they fail to integrate, but Quicken actually went so far as to drop the QIF format which PayTrust exports. The result is that in order to use Quicken I have to enter all of my PayTrust transactions manually, which pretty much defeats the purpose of using it in the first place.

So, to sum up: Intuit went out of their way to make sure that two products they own don’t work with one another.

Why doesn’t PayTrust support Quicken’s preferred OFX format? I have no idea. I even found the product manager and tried to make the case. No dice.

They forced me to choose. Do I stick with Quicken, or do I stick with PayTrust?

Anyway, after realizing that I don’t do anything with Quicken other than track my spending, I decided to look at the others. Microsoft Money looks ok, and it imports QIF. GnuCash might be a contender as well.

Quicken, you are Dead To Me.

Anyway, I will think long and hard before ever purchasing another product from Intuit. Great work, guys.

Does this make any sense to anyone?

I agree with the diversity policy of my company

I do, seriously. I’m right there with you. No argument. People should face no discrimination in the workplace because of their race, religion, skin color, or sexual orientation. Hiring and promotions should go to the most qualified people. Shibboleth. It’s good business. As a Jew, I personally benefit from policies of inclusiveness. I already agreed when you hired me (five years ago), and I still do today.

Can you please stop selling it to me now? Can we please talk about something else… just for a little while? I wish that I could get a little button or a lapel pin that says “I’m IN!”. Maybe a little check box on my driver’s license so that I don’t need to hear about it anymore. Is there a test I can take?

If I don’t attend the Diversity Empowerment Team’s weekly speaker series of black women talking about how they overcame the problems in their lives, it’s not because I don’t think that those struggles are real. It’s not because I don’t think that those people’s stories are worth telling. It’s because, well, I have work to do. I’m happy for them that things worked out. Really. I wish them well.

Ok, this is a dangerous topic so I’m going to make myself perfectly clear here: I support diversity in my workplace as it has been defined by my employer. Really. I just wish they spent a bit less time shoving it down my throat.

Great Moments In Corporate Decision Making

Serenity was one of the first movies that actively chased internet buzz. The studio courted fans of the TV show, and provided them with all sorts of promotional images and materials.

The fans ate it up, and created a huge amount of free advertising. They made clothing, posters, and did everything they could to support the film.

It wasn’t enough. The rabid and vocal fan base didn’t translate into big box offince numbers. Sure, you could point to the fact that the movie was just so-so, but that smacks of defeatism. No, what’s needed here is a strategy that makes absolutely clear who was responsible for the failure.

Clearly, there’s only one thing for the studio to do.

Sue the fans.


The Revolution was televised, but it was cancelled for low ratings

I work for a big company. Which one doesn’t matter because, at my level, they’re all pretty much the same. The important point is that we’re really big, really boring, and really white.

So you might imagine that I was suprised when, while walking through the lobby of our corporate headquarters, I heard Public Enemy’s Can’t Truss It playing over the PA.

For those of you too young to remember, Public Enemy was the voice of the angry underclass. Their music was supposed to be a warning of the social revolution that was coming to sweep all of this away. The cities were going to rise, and the downtrodden were finally going to get theirs. It will probably be hard for anybody under 30 to believe this but there was a time when Flavor Flav, giant clock, gold teeth, and all, evoked fear rather than pity. Yes, children, we were afraid of Flavor Flav.

Public Enemy on the PA. The closest analogy I can think of is if Reagan had used The Internationale as the White House hold music.

I wonder if it was supposed to be a subliminal message to the people waiting in the lobby, the sonic equivalent of a rhino head on the wall. Think you’re tough? These guys thought they were pretty badass for a while, too.

Don’t get me wrong: despite the fact that I am not only Yacub’s grafted devil but (even worse) a Jew, I like to listen to Public Enemy. I’m not a fan of their message, but there’s no denying that it’s some of the best music made in the 80s. I bought Nation of Millions on LP. Yes, I am that old.

I can still remember the night I first heard Don’t Believe the Hype on the radio. It was angry, passionate music and I won’t deny that I was genuinely worried when I realized that the person they were so angry with was, uhh…me. Uh-oh.

I can’t escape the conclusion that Gil Scot-Heron was just wrong. The revolution was televised after all, but it was up against celebrity ice skating so nobody watched.

The Wrong Answer, Quickly

We held a primary election in Maryland yesterday. Avi Rubin, a computer science professor and election worker, has a horrifying description of
his day working with electronic voting machines.

These things are a time bomb. You think that 2000 was a mess? Imagine what it’s going to be like when there is no way to recount or verify.

UPDATE: A group of Princeton University researchers have made an extensive study of the Diebold machines we used. The results are not comforting.

Abstract This paper presents a fully independent security study of a Diebold AccuVote-TS voting machine, including its hardware and software. We obtained the machine from a private party. Analysis of the machine, in light of real election procedures, shows that it is vulnerable to extremely serious attacks. For example, an attacker who gets physical access to a machine or its removable memory card for as little as one minute could install malicious code; malicious code on a machine could steal votes undetectably, modifying all records, logs, and counters to be consistent with the fraudulent vote count it creates. An attacker could also create malicious code that spreads automatically and silently from machine to machine during normal election activities — a voting-machine virus. We have constructed working demonstrations of these attacks in our lab. Mitigating these threats will require changes to the voting machine’s hardware and software and the adoption of more rigorous election procedures.

Paid for by the Charm City Chamber of Commerce

You can’t buy great PR like this, hon!

Couple Arrested For Asking For Directions

BALTIMORE — Baltimore City police arrested a Virginia couple over the weekend after they asked an officer for directions.

They must have done something pretty awful to get into so much trouble, right? I mean, beyond just being admitted Virginians.

You’ll just have to click the link below and read the rest of the story to find out…

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