They Are Out of Business I Guess

My phone number at work is very similar to a phone number of some medical office. I used to get phone calls from patients all the time. But this morning I’ve got a message on my answering machine from a doctor, who inquired about a New York Times ad for medical office space (I don’t think he listened to my very professional answering machine message). My guess is that the med office with that phone number is either out of business or moving.

has a phone number at work that is similar to some bank’s. I egged him on to ask people calling him for their bank card passwords, but he is smarter than that. I do not indulge in phone pranks with people who misdialed numbers either. Although I could have offered that doctor to sublet a part of my cubicle. I have a big cubicle.

Mind Like Water

Amazon suggested the following book to me : “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity“.

Who wouldn’t want to get organized? But let’s see some reviews first:

Freedom of a “mind like water”, January 2, 2003
Reviewer: Maxim Masiutin (see more about me) from Chisinau, Republic of Moldova
Five Stars
“Getting Things Done” is a road map to achieve the positive, relaxed focus that characterizes your most productive state. It will help you to get everything done with the freedom of a “mind like water”.

Side note: in Soviet jokes Moldovans played a role similar to that of Polacks in American jokes.

Who writes these 5 star reviews??, December 8, 2002
One Star
Reviewer: A reader from Wheeling, WV United States
The author is likeable and the book is an easy read. It confirmed what I already knew – get all of your to do’s consolidated into one list so you can prioritize. Beyond that it didn’t really add much value to my life or work.

This EU would like to take a TT and DSLAM somebody

My trials and tribulations with Speakeasy DSL reminded my of an old phone prank which goes like this:

Part 1.

Prankster#1: Hi, I am a phone technician, Do you have a minute to help me test your phone line?
Victim: Ok
Prankster#1: Fold your phone cord in half. Can you hear me?
Victim: Yes
Prankster#1: Fold it in half again. Can you hear me?
Victim: Yes
Prankster#1: Fold it in half again.
[long pause]
Victim: What do I do with this now?
Prankster#1: Stick it up your ass. [hangs up laughing]

Part 2.

Prankster#2: Hi, I am investigating some complaints about phone pranks. Did somebody call you recently?
Victim : Yeah, yeah. Somebody called me pretending to be a phone technician.
Prankster#2: And what did they tell you?
Victim : They told me to stick phone cord up my ass!
Prankster#1: Well, now you can take it out!

So, back to my DSL trouble. I got on the phone with a very cheerful technician who asked me to turn the DSL modem on, tested something, then asked me to turn it off and again tested something. After a few rounds of this she told me that my modem is finally busted after 3 years of service.

She said that I have 3 options: to have a Covad tech install one for me ($$$), purchase a new one from Speakeasy ($$) or get one on eBay ($).

I won a bid for a modem on eBay (which set me back ~40) and proceeded to take apart my own modem (to see if there is an apparent short from dirt backup). Turned out that inside it was wrapped in some sort of metallic wrapper (I guess for shielding). The circuit board said that it was made in Mexico. Interestingly it said “made” and not “hecho”. I wonder why.

In any case, next day I tried to connect with my supposedly busted DSL modem, and surprise-surprise: it worked. I went straight to Speakeasy support center web page and it said “Waiting on covad to replace the DSLAM card. It was not responding to testing requests. I will update this in the morning” – exactly the opposite of what the cheerful tech told me.

Well, I guess Covad’s “DSLAM” – “Digital Subscriber Line Access Multiplexer” was causing the outage.

I Speakeasy support again and told them that I’ve already purchased a new modem. I’ve been told to sell it back on eBay.

While going through this shit I learned a few interesting acronyms:

EU – End User (that’s me) and not European Union. I guess it’s pronounced “E-uuu”.
BERT – Bit Error Rate Test, and not the evil muppet of the same name
TT – Trouble Ticket , and not the TT (Tokarev Tula) handgun
CPE – Customer Premise Equipment (a fancy name for a DSL modem), and not Continuing Professional Education

Now I have a fun task of grading my tech support experience. Hmm, I think I’ll send them a link to this post. Ha.

Oh, by the way. Speakeasy still rocks. I do like their service. I think it’s the Covad people who are at fault here. If you want to get DSL, get Speakeasy.

Sex, Lies and Higher Education

On Sunday I finished reading an awesome book about college pranks, “If at all Possible, Involve a Cow”. Even though it was published in 1992, it’s currently out of print and somewhat hard to find. At prices range from $26.50 to $42.50 and there are only 5 books listed. Luckily, I was able to find a copy for $7 thanks to abebooks wishlist service.

I think that the rarity of the books is due to some influence of embarrassed college brass. The book tells stories about students making fun of narrow mindedness and idiocy of administrators and professors in some very prestigious colleges and universities.

Here is an example. If you’ve been to Harvard, you probably have seen the statue of John Harvard. You were also probably told a touching story about students, who rub his boot for luck on the exams (they really don’t, the boot is shined by hordes of visitors). Well, what the guide probably didn’t tell you, is that the statue is commonly known as “Statue of Three Lies”. Why? Because there is an inscription on the pedestal that says:

John Harvard



Lie #1 : John Harvard was a financial contributor, not the founder.
Lie #2 : Foundation date was 1636, not 1638
Lie #3 : Depicted is not John Harvard, of whom no pictures exist, but a friend of the sculptor. To add insult to injury, both the sculptor and his friend graduated from .. You guessed it – MIT!

This makes one of the pranks in the book especially ironic: MIT students created a huge bronze copy of MIT class ring and epoxied it to John Harvard statue’s finger!

Other notable pranks: Harvard Lampoon’s editors hoisting Soviet flag on a flagpole in front of the Supreme Court during McCarthy era, Caltech Rose Bowl hack.

When morons write about technology

There was an article in free newspaper called “Brooklyn!” (very creative, putting an exclamation mark into the name) about some school kids who participated in a robot building competition.

I bet those kids did not explain to the reporter what red boxing really is :) Uh, and the box that really brought some prominence to some kids was blue (One Steve made them, the other Steve sold them).

Boxes also come in all colors of the rainbow.

By the way, I really hate those robot competitions, like Robot Wars. They are nothing but glorified RC cars. If there was a competition of autonomos robots, that would be a bit more interesting, but probably also not watchable.

Junkyard Wars, on the other hand, is a great show. The original British version was even better.

Another lunch break well spent

Our own Brooklyn bred half-assed Houdini, David Blaine, is doing a 36 hour stand in on a column in Bryant Park.

I’ve got the exposure wrong, but Canon’s stitch assist mode is working nicely.

He’s got a cathether for peeing, some water and a cell phone. He is going to jump onto some cardboard boxes in about an hour. Notice the camera array on the boottom — that’s for Matrix-style effect. All you need for that is just a bunch of 35mm cameras firing at the same moment, which gives you a 180 degree view of a frozen in time object.