A little music in the morning.

by Mark Zaugg 1. April 2009 00:59

I didn't write down what the song was last Thursday, and I charged my iPod last night, wiping out the list of songs.  I figured I'd have to write it off as an "oops."  Then riding the bus home tonight, I heard another Sloan song and it clicked. 

Back when I was bopping along to the saccharine cuddle pop of Cub, the other band worth it's hype was Sloan.  They were hugely popular on RealTime, and have obviously had wonderful staying power.  Come to think of it, they remain on of my favourite bands I've never seen live.  Pity. 

Here is 500 Up. 

Monday goes back to the great Fred Eaglesmith featuring Willie P. Bennett playing, "49 Tons."  Come to think of it, isn't that a Willie P. Bennett original right there? 

This morning goes back to the New Pornographers.  Since the Ennis Sisters were the first band to repeat, I ought to mention Challengers is the first album to repeat.  Do I stop when I have a song repeat?  No worries yet, this morning was "The Spirit of Giving."

An email regarding Conficker

by Mark Zaugg 31. March 2009 21:14

Hey Claude, I've got good news, good news, and more good news for you. 

1.  The way that conficker works is by attacking a bug that was known in Windows but was not patched by the computer's owner.  Fortunately, I've spoken with the bozo that patched your computer and he assures me that he did, in fact, patch your system with all patches that were available on the day that he worked on it.  Sometimes when you install programs on your computer it uses new components that weren't used before.  Those components might have patches too.  When I updated your computer, I made sure that I rebooted and checked Microsoft Update as one of the very last things that I did.  The end result of this is that I know your computer was fully patched when you got it.  The bug that conficker uses was fixed with the patching I performed on your system.  Yay!  You're probably covered.  (I *never* speak in absolutes.) 

2.  A whole pile of smart people figured out a way to find it.  I won't bore you with the details, but most of the antivirus programs out there are busy jamming it into their products to protect you.  I've been told AVG 8.5 does include conficker protection, so once more, you should be safe. 

One small warning:  One of the things this sucker does is turn off some of the things that keep you safe such as:  Windows Update, Windows Security Center, Windows Defender and Windows Reporting.  It also may block some antivirus software websites!  Hence it could be blocking your antivirus.  In the unlikely event that you have been infected, and you notice odd behaviour from your computer, use one of the removal tools listed here

3.  Last of the good news is that it's April Fools Day in Australia right now and so far it's looking okay.  That's not to say that 12 hours from now the servers are going to wake up and cause havok.  But as of this moment right now, we're going fine.

  - Mark


Most important is to not panic.  Second most important is to use some common sense. 

Patch your system by using Windows Update or Microsoft Update.  That would have stopped this in it's tracks.

Unfortunately, many people object to Windows Update because of the check they employ to test for pirated copies of Windows.  Please go patch your systems!  Microsoft gives access to critical updates to avoid this exact scenario.  If your copy of Windows is pirated, then get a proper licence, install a distribution of Linux (I prefer Ubuntu) or get off the internet.  If you're one of my clients, call me immediately because something requires immediate attention.

In my opinion, Microsoft has done a truly horrible thing by linking WGA to Microsoft Update.  It gives the impression that you're under the magnifying glass for piracy instead of focusing on it's job to keep you safe.  I would like to see it offer critical updates first and then push out the WGA.  But I'm not majority shareholder in Microsoft yet.

Second on the list of common sense is to have an antivirus program installed.  There is a lot of hype about Conficker right now, use an anti-virus program I trust.  I personally recommend the free versions of AVG, Avast and Avira for home users and there is always the Open Source ClamWin - based on the technically excellent ClamAV.  There are several other reputable anti-virus companies available, although I do not believe there is any reason for home users to pay for anti-virus solutions any more.

Third, go get a home router and don't connect to the internet unless you're behind a firewall.  Bonus, you can easily hook several computers to your broadband connection.

Safe computing out there.

Hi, my name is Mark and I'm an insufferable Fredhead.

by Mark Zaugg 25. March 2009 23:47

Let's start with Monday: 

What can I say about Fred?  Let me just start with, "I love ya, man.  Pass a beer." 

With the bonus of Willie P. Bennett on camera, genius, star, personal hero and a genuine gem of a man.  My son got to shake Willie's hand a few years back.  I told Willie that Kelley was a fan literally every day of his life.  Willie, gentlemanly as he was, enthusiastically shook Kelley's hand and said, "It's nice to meet you, Kelley.  I've never met someone who's been a fan all his life before." 

Tuesday goes back to the Rheostatics and "Mumbletypeg" from Night of the Shooting Stars.  I was a late comer to that album, and it's sure grown on me. 

No youtube video, but in a completely unrelated by anything but the name of the song, let me introduce Frank Fotusky.  I found it through a search for mumbletypeg and he's awesome in  an entirely non-Rheostatic way.  Or perhaps the Rheostatics are awesome in an entirely non-Fotusky way.  I'm listening to his "Trouble in Mind" as I type this -- I love this accidental finds.

And today goes to Ruthie Foster with "Woke Up this Morning."  I'm not sure if I actually woke up this morning or not, but it's hard to not get moving with this driving you on.  Love you too, Ms. Foster.

After those three, I'm looking forward to what tomorrow will bring.

Criminally responsible.

by Mark Zaugg 25. March 2009 02:13

Book 'em, Dano

This would have never come to light had there not been video taken of Dziekanski's deathThe very facts are that the police officers have lied, although I'm not prepared to make declaration on the severity of the lies.  I will not dignify the lies by calling it "mis-remembering."  Flat out, Dziekanski was killed and the attending officers lied that he was swinging a stapler wildly, that he had some kind of superhumanly resisted the first shock from the taser, and that they attended Dziekanski by monitoring his health after he had been taken down. 

My first aid certification has lapsed, but I know a damn sight more than how those four officers acted regarding monitoring vital signs and administering first aid.  What they did is, at best, negligent and at worst criminal in my eyes.  Think for a minute - these are the people who are sworn to serve and protect YOU and are expected to treat each and every person they encounter in a fair and reasonable manner.  Saying that you may be next is not an exaggeration in the slightest. 

There are good cops and bad cops out there.  There is no room for anything less than good cops and great cops.  Anything less than the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth is unacceptible.  Not charging these officers is not acceptible. 

I both understand and acknowledge that this may have taken an emotional toll on the officers.  Emotional tolls do not negate charges of impropriety.  Feeling bad does not restore a life.  You and I do not get a get out of jail card for an alleged crime because we feel bad.  It may mitigate sentencing, but it does not eliminate the consequence. 

Charge them.  Charge them now.  They have acted unacceptibly and deserve to stand charges in court.  If charges do not stick in a fair and open trial, I'll happily rescind my opinion and defend them.  Until then, make them - all four of them - stand on charges.  They have some serious answers to provide and have yet to demonstrate full and unvarnished honesty. 

I know I'm just one more schmuck with a blog and a meaningless opinion, but until we all can press with our opinions, none of this shit is going to change.  I'll return to my usual drivel tomorrow. 

Tricky? Wooooooo!

by Mark Zaugg 20. March 2009 00:27

Gotta start with yet another song I'm not going to find on youtube.  Wednesday was "Stone Horses" by Junkhouse.  I'm a little saddened that I didn't find it, because "Stone Horses" counts as the one song that I most wish I could have written.  So far, at least.  It's in my vocal range, it sounds dark and cheery and whimsical all at the same time and it's just a gem of a song.  I bow to Tom, there's no one like him anywhere. 


This morning's a song for when you need a little pick me up first thing in the morning after a long night of poking and prodding at ancient hardware not worth fixing. 

All right! 

How can I possibly explain this?  Nope, I can't.  This is what I'm doing on the inside every single time I listen to the Woo!  There is no way you can listen to this stuff without feeling energized and king of the world.

But really, what is it with that guy in the background?

Two thoughts moving in entirely different directions.

by Mark Zaugg 18. March 2009 01:15

I've been wondering for a while which band would be the first to repeat in the morning. 

With all the Fred Eaglesmith I carry around, I'm awfully shocked that 1) it wasn't him and 2) I got a repeat before Fred even came up in rotation. 

Once more, this morning's band was the Ennis Sisters, this time the song is "If Only", and once more, I haven't had any luck finding it on youtube.  Hopefully it's an entirely inapplicable song in my life - I try to live without "If only" sentiments around, and I certainly try to stay out of the "advice-giving" business.  Hell, I don't take it very well either.  The best way of ensuring that what you're about to say to me never gets heard is by starting with the words, "If I were you..." 

Still, it's a pretty song and the harmonies are, as always with the Ennis Sisters, utterly sublime. 


The other entirely unrelated topic was that George Bush came to Calgary to give a speech today.  The protesters were out in force in front of the Telus Convention Centre. 

The spiritual icon of protests against Bush has become throwing a shoe.  Awesome.  Other presidents should be so lucky.  Frankly, I'm flabbergasted there have been so many attempts.  Apparently us Canajuns just prevent them against French Presidents

So me, being the dumbass that I am, head down to go to my Tai Chi class at the downtown United Church.  I see the crowd right in front of the convention centre and realize I have no choice but to plow past it or circle back a block to avoid it.  Plugging on through I get half way through the crowd and suddenly realize I'm carrying the shoes I wear for Tai Chi tied together over my shoulder. 

I remain your humble genius.  For the record, Bush didn't show up to do a set of Tai Chi.

Just slightly ahead of the curve once again..

by Mark Zaugg 17. March 2009 01:10

I miss the Canadian Alternative Rock channel on Iceberg Radio.  I miss it a lot.  One of these days, I'll probably have to figure out what to hit on Radio 3.

There weren't too many places where I could get my fix of a consistent, guitar screeching, drum pounding rock and / or roll.  It's out there, I just have to work a bit harder to find it, but shouldn't it be the job of the labels to spoon feed me what I'm looking for?  Well, if so, the labels are doing a piss poor job of it. 

One of the bands I glued onto early was the Sam Roberts Band.  I had no idea who they were.  I had no idea which part of Canada they were from.  But I knew "Where Have All the Good People Gone?" was a damned fine song and I kept my ear out for more from them.

They came to the Calgary Folk Festival last year - I was fortunate enough to get a pair of comps from BVMC for Thursday night, the only night I could go.  As it turned out, the same night Sam Roberts AND the Weakerthans played.  That made for a fantastic night out with Mad Axe Max!

It turns out that the Sam Roberts Band apparently have done well for themselves.  When Rebekk listened to the CD she said, "That's the song they play at the baseball game all the time."  Heh.  Good taste, kid. 

Unfortunately, the song this morning was "Rarefied" off "We Were Born In A Flame".  The early stuff is always the best, but the hardest to find.  NO LINK FOR YOU.  How about you go pick something else to watch on your own?

One step too close to the ghod-awful truth.

by Mark Zaugg 16. March 2009 00:01

First point tonight is to clear off last week's entry in the "Music to go to work by." 

I like a long of music, spanning a lot of classifications.  Funny, folky, freaky, groovetastic.  Yeah, baby.  The nice thing about being eclectic is that it's hard to come across something I don't like - so long as I keep off the superhighways of music's drudgery.  The down side is that I'm really hard pressed to say what my absolutely favourite song is. 

Well, my absolute favourite song is usually, "The one that's playing." 

However, one of the songs that perpetually bubbles near the top of my list is the Rheostatics "Rain, Rain, Rain" from "Whale Music."  Fantastic song, amazing everything, two references to it on youtube, neither of which give a good feel for what the song actually is.  Meh.  No link for you.  If you don't know the song - you'll have to dig it up yourself. 

The first part of mention is that the song itself starts with handclapping emulating the sound of a rainstorm.  It's amazing.  Then Martin sings (in his soaring, scratching voice)

I'm feeling really down
I'm feeling really
    Under the weather
And it is no problem, or lack of pleasure.

It's just the weather.

Rain keeps coming down
And I can feel the
    Low (low, low) pressure
Whenever that it stops, it turns to ice

I'm feeling really down.

'Cuz rain, rain, rain's coming down, down, down
Rain, rain, rain, rain, rain's coming down on the ground.
Rain, rain, rain keeps coming down
Rain, rain, rain.

Whenever it's like this
Always want to
    Pass the buck
But I don't even give...

I'm feeling really...


I'm feeling really
I'm feeling like I'm
    Owing money
But I don't even know anybody

I'm feeling really down (down)

Feeling good, feeling bad, feeling indifferent, I always feel better after hearing this song.  A gem amongst gems, and quite possibly, the song with the best claim to my favourite song ever.

A few days of catchin' up to do

by Mark Zaugg 10. March 2009 22:27

Well, three days to catch up on, anyways.  And since I'm still at work (8:30 at night and I haven't left yet...  Eesh.) 

First, let me start off with Mineral by Buffalo Tom.  Buffalo Tom is one of those bands I knew absolutely nothing whatsoever about until my buddy Todd slid them across my desk.  Worse, it's one of those bands that just stayed in the back of my consciousness until it played by random and I had one of those, "Who ARE these guys?" moments.  Fantastically cool band.  Give 'em a listen. 

Next is an old standby.  "Well," I think to myself as I walk through the doors, "At least I won't have a hard time finding this on youtube.  (The better copy won't let me embed.  Jerks!)  Mmmmm, eightieslicio..  Err..  Nope, sorry.  Never did it for me. 

This mornings I'm shaking my head over thinking, "I'm never going to find this one on youtube." 

Bill Carter, we still love ya big time!

Who am I not?

by Mark Zaugg 8. March 2009 04:17
One of the weird things that's been happening the last few weeks has been the seeming implosion of people's computers around me. 

My philosophy is that people should feel free to use their computers without fear that they'll bust something or screw something up or do their banking on-line and instantly lose their life's savings.  I think you have to be in the stock market to do that still. 

The problem with this is that people get a very disjointed view of what I actually do at work.  I've been having a whole series of piecemeal conversations where I'm trying to explain what I do.

Yes, much of my time is doing updates.  Well, yes, it's sort of like running Windows Update, only more frequently and a whole lot easier.  Yes, I do backups.  Well, no, taking backups is not particularly arduous, but I have to think about what is being backed up, how frequently it's being backed up, and trying to make sure that the important stuff that gets created gets included in the backups.  And testing backups is critical - it's no good having a backup if you can't get the data back after you've had some kind of disaster.  Much of what I do is to try to learn new ways of being more proactive and averting problems in the first place. 

And sure, that's a lot like what I do when I work on someone's home computer.  But the scale is a whole lot different.  I'm never fixing viruses at work - in fact I'm quite annoyed when I have an infected computer.  Okay, I'm royally pissed off, but that's probably because someone did something stupid.  I'm never troubleshooting, say, a video card.  Suspect hardware usually isn't worth trying to salvage in a business environment.  You try to head off issues long before they occur, because inevitably you're going to have the question of "Why doesn't my email come in blue anymore?  All of it comes in as read now!"  You'll have to go try to figure out what changed, what crazy circumstance is different, and what it actually means.

On the other hand, although I can run circles around just about any Windows issue I get, I've been feeling really stressed out about some Linux issues lately.  Mostly I need to spend some time thinking things through and playing on my own hardware and trying to break things and then subsequently fix them.  Time invested means value returned.  Also true for your computer at home. 

I'm pretty good on the server side, but I'm not great and I want to reach that level of greatness.  It's harder with all the cruft getting in the way right now, but time + effort brings accomplishment and I'm really trying not to stress over not knowing everything.

So I'm talking about skill levels with a buddy of mine and we get comparing myself to my guru.  "Hey," I said, "It's not like I'm Trever or anything.  I'm sorta like Trever-in-training."

I get that deadpan look that indicates I've just said something stupid.

"What?  Did you just say you're T.I.T?"


Change is the only constant.

Welcome to the semi-exciting new look, same crappy blogger.

All comments are still moderated, I'll approve everything that isn't spam or offensive.  Agreement with His Dorkasaurus is not necessary.

What has changed is that I don't have 1000 junk accounts clogging up the system that I have to go through one by one.  Yes, you too can set up an account and no longer need to wait for me to notice you posted.  Completely optional.

As always:  Have fun, be respectful.


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