Gray Flannel Dwarf


Northern Virginia Housing

Old news to me, but it’s in today’s WaPo… “The Housing Crisis Goes Suburban“.

From the article:

In the past five years, housing prices in Fairfax County have grown 12 times as fast as household incomes. Today, the county’s median family would have to spend 54 percent of its income to afford the county’s median home; in 2000, the figure was 26 percent. The situation is so dire that Fairfax recently began offering housing subsidies to families earning $90,000 a year; soon, that figure may go as high as $110,000 a year.

I had a condo in 2000, not far out of college, felt I was doing alright. When I moved to my townhouse in 2003, I was still somewhat incredulous that I had to spend this much — as in, “man, half of my monthly salary goes to my mortgage and utilities” — and knew right then that something wasn’t right , that, at this pace, there was no way I’d ever be able to afford a single family home in the DC area. Things were increasing way too fast.

In any case — much happier in NC now. Sucks to see that there are families in DC with close to six figure incomes who can’t afford housing, though.

Tags: , , , — cswiii @ 9:39 am


Talkin’ Ma Bell Merger Monopoly Blues

We all know that years ago, when Ma Bell was all big and powerful, she was chopped up by the authorities in the name of offering better service and choice to the American consumer. Over the last 5 years, however, we’ve seen mergers roll across the industry, especially in the new mobile phone market. Although initially and occasionally there have been small echoes of cynicism and flares ups of “renewed monopoly” talks, these have generally been hushed or ignored. “This will bring more choice to Americans!”, supporters and corporate noise boxes say.

Well, let’s take a look at some things I’ve noticed…

* In 2000, I had a Nextel phone. I have family in Canada, go there on occasion, and back then, I could take my Nextel phone on my trips to Canada, whereupon I could use my phone locally there. In other words, I could call any number in Canada locally, receive calls from Canadian numbers, and generally use my phone w/o roaming there. I still got charged if I wanted to call the US, but hey — this was nice.
* Later on, in about 2002, I switched over to AT&T Wireless. They had a plan which allowed me to pay an extra $20/mo to have unlimited calling to, and roaming in, Canada. Progress! Later on, when I switched from their TDMA network to their GSM network, it cost me even less — $9/mo! Terrific!!

But then…

* 2004: Cingular completes its acquisition of AT&T Wireless.

* 2005: Not to be outdone, Sprint swallows up Nextel.

Now, I switched over to AT&T Wireless’ GSM plan in late 2004, in part because I wanted to guarantee locked-in availability of their North American Package, because I didn’t quite trust the plentiful assurances by sales reps in Northern Virginia that something similar would exist from the new company.

Sure enough… as the months passed, the North America package remained — but only for former AT&T Wireless customers… and now it’s gone for good, at least for anyone who wants to get it now.

Well, I’m grandfathered in, I still have the package, but herein exists the quandary — and the large realisation of what the reduction of competition has done. After moving to NC, and having a mere three months left on our existing plan, we have been looking at trying to get new NC telephone numbers. To do this requires a change to our plan, and my initial suspicions were confirmed: My plan has been “frozen”, i.e., if I want to make any changes, I need to be moved over to a fully-Cingular plan. Good-bye, N.A. package

Sure enough, no other companies offer something similar. My only option from Cingular? Pay an extra $3/mo or whatever to have “reduced price international calling” from Canada and gee.. It’ll only cost me 59 cents/minute to call there. Of course, roaming is a completely different story…
So looking around, I remember what Nextel was able to do for me back in 2000. Even if I couldn’t get toll-free calling to Canada, I could still use my phone while there, so this would at least be a marginally more useful option, all things equal — and they were, for the most part, minutes and costs between all the plans were basically the same.

There’s only one thing… Sprint’s Nextel no longer offers this service, either. Nextel roaming in Canada is now 20 cents/minute.

The old mantra about Microsoft was “Embrace, extend, extinguish”. Glad to see that the mergers of today’s telecommunications companies are allowing them to be that much more efficient and bypass that middle step. Hell, Sprint and Nextel systems still can’t interface with each other on one network — although once again today, I got assurances from their sales reps that it was on the way… sometime next year.

We’ve got an ever more globalised world, “globalisation” seems to be on the lips of everyone, and the most ardent capitalists seem to think that it’ll be better for everyone the world over. So why are we going backwards in North American telephony? For that matter, what’s going to happen when AT&T completes its digestion of Bellsouth? One can only guess… and while others might have had problems with BellSouth, I’ve never had issue one with my POTS or DSL. I can only expect that things will once again get worse.


Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out (Lieberman Redux)

(with apologies to the many who have sung this terrific song).

I’ve taken an old classic, and put together a few new verses for it. Maybe someone more talented than I could record it.

Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out: 2006

Once I lived the life of a Sena-taire,
Spit on my voters, I just did not care.
Rebuked Bill Clinton, an unkind attack,
Voted for cloture and war in Iraq…

Then I began to fall so low,
Lost the primary, I did not have nowhere to go.
I get my hands on some respect again,
I’m gonna hang on to it with a goofy grin.


‘Cause no, no, nobody knows you
When you’re down and out.
In your corner, not one Demmy,
And as for friends, you don’t have any.

When you finally get back up all your senses again,
Everybody wants to be your old long-lost friend.
Said it’s mighty strange, without a doubt,
Nobody knows you when you’re down and out.

When you finally get back up all your senses again,
Everybody wants to be your good old long-lost friend.
Said it’s mighty strange,
Nobody knows you,
Nobody knows you,
Nobody knows you when you’re down and out.

Once I had the support of the DLC,
Now they’re all leaving, even Hillary.
John Edwards backs Ned, John Kerry does too,
And Evan Bayh, oh now what should I do?

Supporting Bush’s splendid melee
Def’nitely was the “kiss of death” for me.
I guess now that the only place to go
Is down to Fox News for my own network show…

Tags: , , , — cswiii @ 10:47 am


Release a statement, MyHostCamp

MyHostCamp, it is time for you to cover your ass.At the time of this posting, if you go to Google news and search for lieberman hacked, you’ll see close to one hundred news stories perpetuating the Lieberman campaign’s story that their website was hacked. There are even two references on the front page:

* Democrat’s Senate campaign alleges (The Age)
* Lieberman campaign says Web site hacked (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

The Lieberman campaign is making thinly-veiled statements that the Lamont crowd is behind it — but in the end, but for a system to be hacked, there would have to be either:

* A failure of the Lieberman campaign to adequately implement security in their PHP web-scripting, or
* A failure on the part of MyHostCamp to implement adequate system security measures.

In both situations, the onus falls, either directly or indirectly, on the host… and it’s for this reason MyHostCamp needs to release a statement.

You see, in the webhosting business, you’ve got to assume the inherent insecurity of your web customers’ scripts. Very few websites go through design review processes and/or security analyses… and even when these things are done, problems still go wrong.

Its for these reasons that hosting companies implement security measures on what clients can and cannot do. They might use chroot jails to assure break-ins are limited to one website, for example. They may limit the execution of certain types of scripts known to allow for malicious mischief. These are just a few rough examples.

Likewise, from a system security perspective, they generally have fallover, redundancy in case something gets compromised or DoS’ed — and they have abilities to block or redirect heavy DoS attacks when they are detected.

Long story short, when the Lieberman campaign implies that their website got “hacked” — it is, more than anything, a direct affront on the security model of their host web provider. Such accusations are black eyes to service providers and can have very real ramifications if it is implied that their facilities cannot hold up or recover from such an attack.

It is for this reason that MyHostCamp needs to make a public statement as to the veracity and accuracy of Lieberman camp’s claims. They need to release a statement as to the reason the Lieberman page (and indeed their own system…?) is down. Is it excessive traffic? Is it a DoS? Is it a failure of the Lieberman camp to pay their fees?

Whatever the case, MyHostCamp needs full disclosure. To do otherwise puts them in the the position of appearing as an ineffective provider. Failing any refutations of the Lieberman campaign’s statements only opens the door to larger questions about MyHostCamp’s capacity.

From your own website:

myHOSTCAMP’s center of operations in the heart of San Diego, California. We pride ourselves as a quality web host provider offering a simple choice of 3 hosting packages. myHOSTCAMP is an organization premised on the fundamental aspects of simplicity, security, reliability, and stability — driving forces in our current and future success.

MyHostCamp: That Lieberman’s crew is making most likely unfounded accusations at Lamont supporters is one thing. That they are claiming their system got “hacked” at all is a whole different issue, and it reflect squarely on your ability to provide adequate services to hosted customers. It would behoove you to come out and state the reasons for the downtime.

Tags: , , , , , — cswiii @ 5:15 pm


I think I’ll go for a walk!

It may be too early to count one’s chickens before they are hatched, but after the recent news featuring some pretty bad polling numbers for Lieberman, and rumours that his attempts to get a GOTV ground campaign going are faltering — he’s unable to get enough people willing to go hit the streets — things are not looking good for the Senator from Connecticut.

There are still those out there who say Joe’s campaign is not dead yet. To them, I wish the best of luck. Nonetheless, such a statement inevitably made me think of Monty Python…

Joe Lieberman Monty Python Parody

(click for larger version)

Tags: , , , , , — cswiii @ 8:28 am


Oh, joy.

Brad Pitt and Angelina in talks to do Atlas Shrugged?

What’s next, Jude Law in an epic Horatio Alger tale of struggle and triumph?

Tags: , , , — cswiii @ 12:35 pm