Monday, August 30, 2004

Identity Theft

Identity Theft

Identity theft has always been a meddling problem, but in this technological age of computer and Internet, it has become much more devious and as a result, prevalent.

Just in the past couple of weeks, I have received emails from my supposed credit card companies and bank that they are updating their customer records or they lost my customer info and need me to reenter it or I've won a prize being a favored customer and I need to log in to claim it. More times than not, this is someone trying to steal your identity and/or financial information and if you fall for it, you're in trouble.

These emails look like the real deal. They look authentic, professional, company logo at the top, very business like and the requests may sound reasonable. Check the email over and look for a couple of signs that will tell you if you're looking at the real deal or if you've just received it from someone who is about to become the next Mr./Mrs. You.

Look for typos. If you see any, it's fake.

Most of the emails ask you to click on a link included in the email to log in. The link in the email may look authentic and may have your bank's actual domain in it, but it could be taking you somewhere else. You can find out where the link actually takes you by hovering your mouse pointer over the link, without clicking on it, check at the bottom of your browser to see what the actual destination is. If it's an IP (bunch of numbers), it's fake. Don't click it.

Credit card and bank companies will never ask for your password or pins. They don't know this information but it's because they're not supposed to have this information. It's useless to them. That's part of the security of passwords. If the email is asking for your login info, it's fake.

Banks like Citibank keep a list of all the fake emails on their website, copies of the bogus emails people use to try and steal info. Go to their site and look for a section on security to find a list of the more commonly used methods. If you receive a Citibank email you know is fake, forward it to You will get an automatic reply that can tell you if it is a common fake email or if it is a new one. Every one I've forwarded, they already knew about. You will get a reply within minutes telling you if the email was fake or not.

Other banks should have security setup like Citibank's. Just go to their site and look for it. It's your identity that's at stake. It's worth a few minutes of your time to do some research. If you receive a fake email and have no security division to forward it to, at least report it as spam so your email provider knows and can keep it from going to other suckers who might fall for it.

If you remember nothing else, remember this: Just don't trust anything you get in email. If the email requests private information, there is a good chance it's fake. If it is legit, ask for alternate means to provide the info, like telephone.

Good luck. There are some very talented scammers out there.

Friday, August 27, 2004

The Singularity

The Singularity

"If the world were full of da Vincis, we'd all be quarrelsome, gay, left-handed Italians who couldn't finish a painting."
-- Bruce Stelring

Read the rest of the article about why we are kidding ourselves. It's dead on with what I've been trying to preach to friends and family for years.

Fable A Reality

Fable A Reality

In just over two weeks, a game I've long been anticipating and one of the reasons I added an Xbox to my household console collections, will finally be released after many, MANY years in production.

Fable is close and I couldn't be happier to check out video game mastermind Peter Molyneux's next installment. I still whip out Black & White, Populous 3 and even the DOS game Magic Carpet 2 every once in awhile to have some fun with the ingeniously designed games! Although Magic Carpet is difficult to run in XP now. When I can get it started, it runs 10x the speed that is was meant to and I have trouble flying my magic carpet at warp 3.

On another topic, I believe I'm the only Xbox owner in the world not head over heels for the November release of Halo 2. You'd think it was the second coming of Christ. I already have Halo 2 - it's called Halo.
"I read newspapers periodically."
-- Mrs. Lock

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Fun With The English Speaker

Fun With The English Speaker

A couple of days ago, I went into La Bamba's to get some dinner. I like to order in Spanish and shoot the breeze with the staff with my very limited vocabulario de español. But I've been in there so many times, they already know what I want and they go to work on my sandwich as soon as I hit the door. But if I did have to order, it would go something like this.

"Una torta pollo. No tomates, no cebollas," I would theoretically say (and have said in the past).

This is a reply I actually got last time.

"¿Deseas una cerveza?"

I thought for a second as I tried to translate. He repeated it.

"¿Deseas una cerveza?"

"Are you asking me if I want a beer?" I asked.

"Yes," the patron said.

"Do you even have beer?"


Then he and the guy frying up my torta had a laugh.

¡Qué Bromistas!

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

A Necromancer Eulogy

A Necromancer Eulogy

Patriarch Korba
Master Necromancer
A Real People Person.
Expired August 2004.
R.I.P. Among Your Beloved Minions.

I forgot to check in on my 94th level Necromancer in Diablo 2 and they wasted my beloved character. I got busy. I forgot to log in within the 90 day allotted time period to keep him active and now he's gone forever - or until someone else remakes him.

Korba was awesome. I've tried the other classes but never really got into them as much as I did necros. Necros rock! Sweetened by the fact that they were probably the least favorite of all the classes among players, I had the class virtually to myself.

And Korba knew how to tear things up. He could summon over a dozen revived creatures he or his party had just taken out, a few good skeletal mages and countless skeletal warriors who all revolved around his centerpiece, the Fire Golem.

For the longest time, Korba used a Blood Golem as his companion, but got tired of that relationship (when Blizzard nerfed it). He divorced the BG and found new love in the Fire Golem. And boy, was he (it) bright! Smart as a whip, aggressive as a bull. It's sad to think that all of those Golems resting on that netherplane will never be summoned by Korba's black magic ever again.

Goodbye Korba. This existence couldn't hold you. You are where you belong; among (dead) friends. Hopefully those beings on the other side won't take too much offense from you manipulating them all of these years through countless battles.

New Look

New Look

Yes that's my pet rabbit adorning my page's new banner. His name is Bunner and we've had him in the family for years.

He's been featured on this blog before and he's real fun when we have get togethers, especially around Easter.

sensing samsara has undergone a few designs since its inception. Unfortunately I can't find its original look; Blogger doesn't keep the template around anymore, but I did keep the last couple of versions.

Peas & Carrots w/ Eyes
Peas & Carrots w/ Bugs
Toad Kingdom w/ Bunner (current)

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Sound of Silence Seldom Soothing

Sound of Silence Seldom Soothing

How's that for alliteration?

As I write this, I am listening to a chorus of frogs and it sounds quite soothing.

It reminds me that I rely heavily on white noise at night to fall asleep. For this, I have always run a standard box fan when I go to bed. The fan runs all night and gets shut off when I get up. I can't remember if Mrs. Lock ever used white noise before she met me but now I think she expects to have something running when she's trying to sleep. I'm not sure how I got started on this. I didn't use this method to fall asleep as a kid. I think it started when I used to work midnight shifts and I wanted to insure a good day's sleep by drowning out the wide awake world that did their business while the sun was shining.

Recently, our box fan of seven years has started to sputter, ching, screech and sometimes not power up at all. We're losing our bed buddy and need to see about replacing it with something new. I've thought about digitally recording the sound of the fan, burning it to CD and playing it in our mp3 stereo the whole night, but that can't be good for the stereo to be running all night, every night for multiple years.

So I've thought about a sound machine; you know the kind you push a button which digitally plays a jukebox of natural or artificial sounds. Only problem is that those sound machines suck. They're single speaker, mono, no bass. It's like listening to - well, a piss poor recording of the actual sound like you called it on the telephone and asked for a playback.

Listening to these frogs chirping (or whatever the heck it is they do to produce sound) makes me think I can fall asleep to this. We're not used to hearing frogs where we live. We're not used to hearing crashing waves on a beach either but I bet that would work too.

I'll probably just break down and buy a new box fan. I have to get my sleep.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Quinn Speaks, ATHF Say Goodbye

Quinn Speaks, ATHF Say Goodbye

"C'mon ppl, you know Sealab is prone to massive explosions!"
-- Dr. Quinn, Science Officer

Say it isn't so. Adult Swim as been advertising that Aqua Teen Hunger Force is being cancelled! I just can't believe it. Why cancel something that is obviously so creative and so hilarious? It's not easy being hip.

I keep thinking it might be just one giant joke since those characters at Williams Street Studios obviously have a bent sense of humor.

Oh well, if it does go off the air, I still have Sealab, Birdman and my new favorite show: Venture Brothers! It's the Tick without the Tick, sort of. Actually the Tick is in it, but not as the Tick. What cartoon voice can't Putty do?

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Great Googly Moogly

Great Googly Moogly

Today, a huge private company went public. Google became a public company. That's right, the search engine giant has been private all these years and still raked in the cash. But now, they're tired of making millions. Now, they want to make BILLIONS and going public should get them just that.

It's been reported that the Google founders may have violated SEC rules by talking about their company's IPO in a Playboy article weeks before the offering. Article in Playboy? Guess what? No one read it.

More power to you Google.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Running On Empty

Running On Empty

Well my internal clock is pretty messed up. This is worse than someone having to spring forward for daylight savings time (which I actually don't have to do in this state). I went in to work at 8 am yesterday. I did manage to get out by 2p, went home, took a nap. Went back in to work at 10p and stayed until I got home at 7a the next (this) morning.

We had buku network problems that still aren't resolved even as I type this. I'll try to finish up things tomorrow, hopefully.

The poet Jackson Browne once said - actually he says it many times over whenever he tours:
Looking out at the road rushing under my wheels
I don't know how to tell you all just how crazy this life feels
I look around for the friends that I used to turn to to pull me through
Looking into their eyes I see them running too.
Then, Browne's colleagues in the Manfred Mann organization say:
Mama always told me not to look into the eye's of the sun
But mama, that's where the fun is.
Of course, in the same breath, MM say "Wrapped up like a douche, another runner in the night." So maybe I shouldn't be heralding them as poets.

Trust me, what he's actually saying doesn't make much sense either.


Running On Empty

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Milestone: 60k Words

Milestone: 60k Words

I passed a milestone yesterday. If you're the type of person that likes to watch the odometer in your car flip over really big numbers, then you'll appreciate it this, I think.

With yesterday's post, sensing samsara passed the 60,000 word count mark. I've laboriously typed out 60,000 words for your entertainment (or frustration as the case may be) and boy, let me tell ya, does it feel good - as good as carpal tunnel can feel anyway.

Why am I celebrating 60,000 and where's the post on 50,000? Well, I didn't notice when I passed the 50k mark and there would be something missing if I tried to celebrate that achievement now instead of the more current 60k. But lookout 100,000! Here we come! If i'm paying attention, I'll mention something then.


the lock
sensing samsara

Monday, August 16, 2004



Got a lot going on at work with a few new systems coming under my control. Lots of network changes and software upgrades too. I worked late last night, until 2 a.m. this morning. Went back in today to continue working, and quite possibly, I might have to work a full 24 hour shift tomorrow to get everything done that's been handed to me. That'll be a record for me, working 24 hours straight. I hope they don't expect me to work Wednesday. It's possible though. What a nice change of pace.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Devil Went Down To Georgia... And Won!

Devil Went Down To Georgia... And Won!

And this is just my own opinion but I happen to personally think that the Devil won in the fiddle playing contest between Johnny "Rosin up your bow" and the Lord of Darkness. That tough steel guitar, dual strings going at the same time, funky rhythm, nice screeching sound at the end. Who was the judge here?

The Devil gave up too easily. What's wrong with you Satan?

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Type-a, Type-a, Type-a

Type-a, Type-a, Type-a

One of the biggest things that bugs me in modern day movies is when I see computer users typing. Typing for God's sake! In this day of graphical user interface (GUI) software, they're typing away like they're playing whack a mole on their keyboards. Why? Why are they always typing? What are they typing? Is it because they all use Linux? Even Linux is primarily GUI by now.

As soon as the character sits down to the computer to run a diagnostic on something, check a patient's records, hack into the Pentagon or create Kelly LeBrock (Vanessa Angel I should say), they're pushing buttons instead of sliding mice. They should be using innovative and intuitive software that saves them the trouble of having to extend the joints of their ten digits over and over. What are you, living in the stone age?

From now on, if you have computer users in your movie or television show, have them playing with the mouse or light pen or Duck Hunt gun. I know it's not cool looking and not much of a sound effect, but do you want realism or not?

I'm reminded of a scene in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home where Scotty sits down at an Apple Classic computer, picks up the mouse and politely speaks orders into the peripheral like it's a com piece. When someone points out that he should be using the keyboard instead, Scotty says, "Hmph. How quaint."

Indeed Scotty. Indeed. Now give it ALL YOU GOT!

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Foo Fighters Fan

Foo Fighters Fan

Mrs. Lock told me one time that she was glad Kurt Cobain killed himself which freed Nirvana's drummer David Grohl to go off and form Foo Fighters. She's a big Foo Fighters fan - huge.

See, it pays to always look on the bright side of things.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Time Travel - Bah!

Time Travel - Bah!

Let's talk about time travel and the possibilities of it ever existing. Einstein thought you could warp the passage of time and maybe even slow it down, but not actually reverse it and I happen to agree with that assessment. However, I am not agreeing because I have poured over his theorems, checked his facts and graded his homework. I have my own test that tells me time travel, as I understand it, will never happen.

I can sit here at my terminal and intend to plant a message in an environment that can withstand
the elements of time; a message that tells some future discoverer to visit me at a specified time and location, say, right next to my computer in the next ten seconds.

Guess what? Nobody came (I did wait the full ten seconds). So one of the three things happened:

1) The time traveler never got my message
2) The time traveler got my message but didn't/couldn't obey the request
3) Time travel will never exist

Given the rest of my life, I can develop a means that a potential future time traveler can receive my message. I don't know what that means is now, but surely I can come up with one in the next 50 years. I'll probably plant it in a satellite or deep space spacecraft to insure the message will survive even planetary destruction. With this accomplished, someone living in an advanced technological age will get my message and either use it or pass it to a generation that surely is close to developing the means for time travel if it's going to be at all possible.

If the second option happened, it seems to me the future traveler would send me a hint or a small sign to indicate it was received. For a message to survive all those years, all that time and for that person not to reply to it, would drive the person into a frenzy and no one, not even the people of the future want that.
I received no such sign.

If the recipient is not Homo Sapien, I can not vouch for the psychological affect ignoring my long distance message would have on that species. It's possible another species with time travel capabilities is emotionally equipped to ignore my request, in which case, I would concede that time travel will actually exist, but since I will never find out this contradiction due to the paradoxical nature of the action, I am perfectly safe to continue with my assumption.

If the time traveler was forbidden to contact me in the past, well that's just silly. At some point, they will develop a means to communicate with the past and not affect their precious timeline or whatever rule that exists to keep travelers from communicating to the past. Surely, my message will be saved and passed down to the generation that can accomplish such a thing.

So we get to the third option, which just seems more likely to me, doesn't it? Time travel will never be possible. Occam's Razor says so.

My test would not be complete if I didn't say the following: A response to my request from a future time traveler can be answered, if personal appearance is impossible, difficult or the traveler is just lazy, by posting a comment to this post. Existence of this post will serve a record for me to pick the time and place of contact when I do finally develop a means of delivering the message.

This post must survive until I am ready to deliver my message to the future or I'll just have to choose a new time and location. I only have about a billion more chances.

Image 1: The time travelling duo from Voyagers! pictured with their time travel device The Omni
Image 2: Socrates (so - crates), Ted, Billy the Kid and Bill in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure

Monday, August 09, 2004

False Recognition

False Recognition

I learned a new word today.

pareidolia: misperceiving a vague but suggestive shape as something definitive.

It's a condition, a human condition supposedly left over from our primitive days when we needed to spot camouflaged predators hiding in the thrush waiting to make us lunch, and I
don't mean tuna on rye.

Pareidolia happens when you're lying in bed late at night, but you left the closet door open. In the dark room filled with moonlit shadows, that XL sweatshirt you bundled up and threw on the top shelf last week is actually a gray skinned, old man bent forward, gnarled over his own legs waiting for you to drift to sleep to make his move.

Reason says there isn't a contortionist killer hiding in your closet on a shelf in plain sight, but at that hour and with a healthy dose pareidolia, the thought crosses your mind if only for a second.

Friday, August 06, 2004

No Shelf Life

No Shelf Life

I rarely post links here because links are made to be broken. I don't like posting information that can become quickly outdated like some blogs that are just click thrus (Dave Barry, I'm looking at you). But I thought I'd try it one day, so here we go. All of these links will be broken in a month.

The Wall Becoming a Musical

Wasn't it already? This one's going to be on Broadway though. Rumors are Roger Waters is tapping Liza Minelli to be a Young Lust girl.

Berry Wants Catwoman 2

They made a sequel to Dirty Dancing, so why not?

Searching For Bobby Fischer? Stop. He's In Japan.

The great chess master wants to (has to) renounce his U.S. citizenship. Checkmate?

TiVo Given The Go Ahead To Share Media

Very cool. I finally will be able to download some of my recorded programs at work and get caught up on my "stories."

New Bushism

Our President's own words yesterday after signing yet another defense spending bill.

"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we," Bush said. "They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."

I ran spell checker before publishing this post and it stopped at Bushism, understandably, but the suggested spelling it wanted to replace Bushism with, made me laugh - fascism. I almost didn't notice the difference.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Having (And Keeping) A House

Having (And Keeping) A House

We're coming up on four years that Mrs. Lock and I have been living in our house, our first house. Upkeep of a house isn't easy or cheap. I'm really wondering if it is cheaper to invest in a house or if you're not just better off paying rent for the rest of your life. If you think about the amount of interest you pay in a mortgage plus maintenance, which costs more?

Within two months of moving in, we had to replace the refrigerator. It went out on Thanksgiving Day. Since then, we've replaced the stove, the dishwasher, the garbage disposal, had to disable the water filter system (I don't have $1000 so haven't bothered replacing it). We've replaced the blower in the furnace (not cheap), the water heater, a billion light bulbs. We tore down all of the wallpaper in the house and painted it to increase it's value (very necessary). That was all the stuff that had to be done.

Things that still need to be done: Some areas need to be touched up with paint but there's no such thing as painting one little spot. We have to make a nursery for our impending arrival. Most of the sinks' water flow have degraded severly. I'm not even sure how you clean that out. We need a new screen door, new track, everything. We need to repair one of the windows that is leaking whenever it rains. A new screen for another window. The trim on the house is in dire straits and needs to be painted badly. Carpet is ruined in a couple of rooms (we run a farm). The lawn is mostly green but that's because of all the green weeds. Some of the posts holding up the backyard fence are leaning and pretty much broken off at the base. We've replaced sections of the fence already on several occasions, but it's turned into a game of dominos.

After all of this, the house is still seemingly in good condition. We're trying to keep it up but good grief. There is a ton of little stuff and it's only the two of us living there! There are no kids tearing stuff up (yet)!

Thankfully none of the really big stuff has broken (roof, siding, ceiling). I am now knock, knock, knocking on wood - with a vengeance.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

More movie reviews

More movie reviews

Couple more Lock movie reviews for ya. I'm just cranking away at these DVD rentals.

Gothika - 5/10. Just saw this minutes ago so this review will be quite fresh, hot off the press. Disappointing. It gets as high as a 5 because the feel was right, creepy, dark, twisted, but the story just kind of falls apart. Lots of loose threads that never get addressed, things that didn't make sense, most likely due to poor editing. Like what caused Downey Jr. to change his mind about Berry's story. Also, I'm not sure sexy Berry was right for the role as communicator of the dead, which leads to another problem with the movie, Berry's character was lifted from a more famous movie a few years ago made famous by a whiz kid actor named Haley "I see dead people" Joel Osment. It just doesn't work for her. And when you see her lined up with the other inmates, boy did she stick out. Who looks that good in prison? This movie is good for the suspense and scary, jumpy moments, but not much else.

Run Away Jury- 8/10. Good flick. They took a somewhat complex mystery with enough twists and turns and really made it work. The movie's only real issue is the believability of a group capable of controlling a jury the way it's done in this movie. I'm sure it's done to some extent, I just don't see it with $10,000 plasma monitors and a team of thugs living in an abandoned warehouse next to the courthouse. The highlight, of course, is seeing acting legends Dustin Hoffman and Gene Hackman in a great scene together. Excellent dialog. Good story. Technical aspects believable and hip (like using an iPod as a computer).

Matchstick Men - 9/10. What a great, great movie. Story is a little weak for me but that becomes very minor and the only flaw for this fine film. Everything else was perfect. Here is another reason of why we should take Nick Cage seriously as an actor. We hold back because we see him in movies like Snake Eyes, City of Angels and Con Air but he has my respect (again) after seeing him in this one. It's very light hearted, almost a comedic movie because we see a con man (he would say con artist!) with obsessive compulsive disorder which makes for some very funny (yet not really sad because of how he makes his living) moments. Good flick. Hard to believe this is a Ridley Scott piece given the story - not very epic but perfect in its own right.

Sum Of All Fears - 5/10. Had its moments, the traditional Tom Clancy moments (the President is yet again a jerk), but too many flaws, too many holes that beats this film up. Affleck does a decent job portraying the young Jack Ryan, no real complaints there (Alec Baldwin is still the best). I don't have much else to say about this one. It was just there. Entertaining at least.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Necessities Of Life

Necessities Of Life

Over a year ago, on our honeymoon, Mrs. Lock insisted that I pack the Nintendo Gamecube before we took off.

You see, at the time, she was playing a kiddy version role playing game called Animal Crossing. It was a very popular title for the Nintendo gaming system and in it you had a virtual town that you had to maintain as a resident. In the game, these fuzzy little characters run around in this town, steal your possessions, chat up a storm for anyone who might be listening, litter, fish and yell a lot in a language that doesn't exist anywhere in the real universe.

If you don't check in on your town on a regular basis, funny things happen. Things like weeds popping up everywhere and roaches moving into your house; not to mention your animal neighbors becoming disgruntled by your absence and thinking up something nasty to say next time they see you. I suppose Mrs. Lock couldn't bear the thought of abandoning her town for over a week while we enjoyed our honeymoon, so reluctantly I packed the Gamecube in with our honeymoon supplies and off we went.

We checked into the resort, got into our room and I noticed that we had the standard issue 27 inch color television, an essential tool in the activity of console gaming. But in the back woods of West Virginia where we were living out our newlywed vacation, this television had no component hookups on the TV (the yellow, white and red RCA jacks). What TV in this day and age doesn't have game console hookups? I suppose we were lucky it had color, but even that isn't necessary to play the blasted game I took the trouble to pack.

Fortunately, a trip to the Charleston mall where one business known as the "Shack of Radios" had what we needed. I bought an RF modulator, which converts the antenna coax hookup (Thank God it had that!) on the TV to component to interface with my Gamecube - retail $30. Thirty dollars for a box I'm going to use once so my new bride can perform upkeep on her village of criminal teddy bears.

I still have the box in my computer room closet collecting dust. I look upon it with fond memories.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Army of Wal-Mart

Army of Wal-Mart

Here's an (maybe-not-so) interesting fact. Behind the U.S. Government, the largest employer in the United States is Wal-Mart with a stunning 1.1 million employees working at 1,409 Wal-Mart stores, 1,562 Supercenters, 539 Sam's Clubs, and 70 Neighborhood Markets all making $256 billion in sales last year.

That's a lot of people. If Sam Walton's family ever decided to put an army together to overthrow the government, it may have the resources to do so; that is if their employees were soldier material. Actually, many of them do have military experience having fought in World War 2.

Good place for a headline

Good place for a headline

"Warm one today. Warmer than yesterday. Gonna be even warmer tomorrow. [Plucks his banjo]" - Stewie Griffin in Family Guy, To Live And Die In Dixie

It's hot today.

Had a good weekend. All I did was get caught up on TiVo, play video games, watched TV and played more video games. The neighbor and his kids brought their Xbox over for some system link Halo. They are gluttons for my punishment but they're learning.

Mrs. Lock and I did go out for some lunch at some point and to the drugstore to pick up a stethescope to try and listen to the baby's heart on our own. It doesn't work (trying to hear the baby's heart, not the baby's heart itself). I think the part of the stethescope used to pick up the sound is too wide when we probably need to concentrate on a square inch to focus in on the heart beat. Right now, all we're hearing is Mrs. Lock's lunch pass through her digestive system and who cares about that? Not me.