Blog Archive

Yahoo Passwords from Late 90's Stolen from Elderly

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Today we have had a security breach so far reaching that discussions on cyber warfare will surely reignite. Deadline reports:

Yahoo says it’s investigating reports of a security breach that may have affected nearly half a million users. The company says it’s looking into “claims of a compromise of Yahoo! user IDS” but did not disclose the size of the reported breach or how it may have happened, The Associated Press reports. Tech news websites, including CNET, Ars Technica, and Mashable are reporting a little-known group, the D33D Company, has claimed responsibility for the attack. 

Now you may be asking "You use Yahoo still?" to which I can answer, "No". Actually, I looked at my gMail contacts to find that out of 300 addresses, only 20 are Yahoo. Still, this is serious I tell you!

So to help you in avoiding damage from Yahoo I have made a comprehensive list of steps you can take to avoid future compromises to your password data:

- Don't use Yahoo

That's it! Simple right? Now you can go on using the internet feeling safe and secure.

Oh, and you won't have to use Yahoo anymore which is garbage.

Viacom Needs to Learn Math

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I am a customer of Direct TV and yesterday while flipping the channels I saw this video showing the CEO of Direct TV stating they were losing Viacom stations at midnight due to a "contract dispute". I would be annoyed if Viacom had any good stations(they don't) but still I was curious about the issue. I decided to do some research and found this on Deadline:

Derek Chang, the satellite company’s EVP Content, Strategy and Development, says that Viacom ”sent us a letter last night that outlined our obligations to remove the channels by midnight or face legal action just as they were falsely telling viewers DirecTV was responsible. Let’s be clear, Viacom took these channels away from DirecTV viewers.” But Viacom says “DirecTV dropped the channels without giving Viacom advanced warning.” They last spoke at 11 AM on Tuesday, the company says. The big issue is price: DirecTV says that Viacom is demanding 30% more for its channels — equal to about $1B.

But the real interesting part is this:

It isn’t justified, Chang says, due to “the fact that the ratings for many of their main networks have plummeted and much of Viacom’s programming can be seen for free online.”

Viacom I'm sorry but Direct TV is completely right. There are substantially less subscribers with cable TV which means less viewers for the medium as a whole. Also, Viacom with the smaller pie is quickly losing their slice of it:

The blackout also comes as Viacom has seen its ratings decline recently for top shows like Nickelodeon’s “SpongeBob SquarePants” and MTV’s “Jersey Shore.”

They are losing eyeballs to their competitors (Specifically Disney)  in a market with less customers and yet they want a substantial 30% increase in what Direct TV pays for it. This would be similar to KMart raising its prices on Jordache Jeans when they are sitting on a huge surplus of them.  Simple supply and demand folks.

TV is dying a slow death, but if Viacom tries to gouge its partners for short term gains the consequence will be an increased cost for cable TV.  Cost will drive people away from the medium and cause a continued loss of eyeballs which in turn will negatively effect advertising revenue and their bottom line.

Viacom, if you don't get your act straight in 10 years you may be filing for chapter 11, and no amount of Jersey Shore spinoffs will be able to save you.   

Bold Predictions on the Obama Tax Proposal

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Talking about taxes goes over like a lead zeppelin, but in today's short post I wanted to share my opinions on the proposed Obama Tax Plan. The plan would extend the current Bush Tax Cuts for the middle class but not the highest tax bracket (more than $250,000 a year). This probably will sound familiar because this was the same thing he proposed in 2010, a proposal that at the time and currently is supported by a majority of Americans.

Republicans,  whose diet mainly consists of Grover Norquist's semen, understandably wanted the tax cuts extended to everyone. They stated the common mantra that raising the tax on the rich would discourage the job creators from actually creating jobs. Yes, I know the unemployment rate and median income barely changed even before the recession but shut your damn mouths tax cuts work folks!

President Obama faced his opposition and went "Okay, I'll extend your fiscally irresponsible tax cut for everyone. But I'm here to play hardball, I'm a tough cookie. So if you want me to extend your wasteful tax cut, you are going to have to give me a 2% reduction on the FICA employee tax."

...

The Republicans shockingly took this stern counter offer of an additional tax cut resulting in hundreds of billions of additional deficit being added to the Federal bottom line.

So here we are with the same dog and pony show and of course Republicans are bitching and moaning the same talking points even though these tax cuts really have done nothing to help our economy. As someone who works in tax research I have a bold series of predictions to make:

- Obama will extend all of the Bush Tax Cuts in "a stern compromise".

- The FICA Tax Holiday will not be extended.

- Republicans will attack Obama for allowing the FICA Tax Holiday to become expired even though it was the President's agenda in the first place.

- Standard and Poor will drop the US to a credit rating of "A" by 2020 because of our uncontrolled spending.

- Because of this, all social programs will be cut from the budget while defense will be raised via a projected cut. The deficit will be reduced by 5% and republicans will proclaim they are "Fiscal Hawks".

- Also, The Cubs still will have not won a World Series cause they suck.

I think at the voting booth this year I will elect to wipe my ass with my ballot. 

Film Recommendation: Your Sister's Sister

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Hey everyone, its going to be short posts this week as I am behind on my feature film scripts. Anyways, over the weekend I saw the film "Your Sister's Sister" which stars Emily Blunt and is written/directed by Lynn Shelton. I won't get into the premise but in short I thought this was a great film.

To begin with the dialog is fantastic. Lynn Shelton manages to write compelling conversations yet have them sound natural. Sitting in the theater I was almost mad at the quality of the script, making me realize that this woman is a hell of a writer and that I have a lot of work to do to catch up. These characters feel like real people and feel grounded despite the somewhat rediculous premise.

Good writing usually elicits good acting, but the cast goes above and beyond portaying their characters as real but flawed individuals. Emily Blunt shows a nuanced performance where she exhibits multiple traits and emotions simultaneously. Rosemarie Dewitt's role is a little less demanding, but in her important moments she shines as well and expresses a vulnerable yet caring character.

However, the real standout for me was Mark Duplass. I've heard great things about The League but I never have gotten into it and as a director I enjoyed his debut feature Cyrus. Nevertheless, I thought he'd likely be the weak link in the cast. Gladly, I can say I couldn't have been more wrong. His performance of a drinking, bull shitting, sarcastic young adult named Jack, you'd think his character would be rather unlikeable. What's interesting though is despite all his flaws Duplass plays him to be someone thats enjoyable to be around. At times he does dumb or mean things, but there is something good natured about him. That's a really tough role to pull off but he does it almost flawlessly.

This could be a hard one to find as its only in limited release and also if you don't like slow indie films this is probably not for you. For me, its a easy recommendation that's unlike anything I've seen this year.

An Intervention for Dr. Drew

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Dr. Drew we aren't friends or even acquaintences. Hell, over the years I've become someone who would label your work and existence as "douchey". From Celebrity Rehab to your "news" show on CNN Headline News, you have become what I call the Jerry Springer of medical news pundits. Whether its thisor thisor this, or this. Jesus you get my point.

 

But this distraction news is nothing compared to the recent finding that you were paid off:

 

The government alleges that Pinsky was paid a total of $275,000 over just two months – March and April 1999 – to deliver messages about Wellbutrin SR, a Glaxo antidepressant, “in settings where it did not appear that Dr. Pinsky was speaking for GSK(Glaxo Smith Kline).”

 

Drew, Drew, Drew. You used your spotlight as a means to promote an anti depressant for money. Dr. Drew, as a practicing doctor you promoted Wellbutrin as having fewer sexual side effects as other anti depressants despite the FDA not giving approval to make those claims. May I ask, was your chief resident that taught you the guy who sells Oxy Clean?

 

Please don't leave, I'm sorry for getting off track here Dr. Drew. Put your GSK branded laptop case down and listen a moment. Its for your own good.

 

You have an addiction Dr. Drew. An addiction to being a douche shill. You treat addiction all the time on your show, or at least try to appear like you are. I'm sorry getting off track again.

 

What I'm trying to say is you know the signs. At first it seems to benefit you. In your case the addiction made you extremely famous and gobs of cash. People even grew to become comfortable with you and trust your Medical insights, earning you even more money and recognition.

 

It all seems great, but eventually you begin to want more. You start obsessing about further exposure and recognition and the effect is you try to chase it. Instead of talking about valid health issues the focus becomes about how you can expand your brand as a medical pundit. It starts off innocent with some panels about addiction. Then it moves to panels about Lindsey Lohan and how she exhibits all the tell tale signs of an addict, even though you have never met her before. Then you hit bottom by creating a Celebrity Rehab show where you pay celebrities to be a part of your rehab program.

 

Its time that you make a change in your life. To admit you have a problem and to get your moral compass back on track. The only way you are going to come out of this is by doing the following:

 

- Admit you are a sniveling fame whore: An important part of the rehab process is to first admit you have a problem. So Dr. Drew confess that you have an uncontrollable need for attention and that this need is making you into an insufferable hack.

- Quit the Medical Profession: Dr. Drew, when is the last time you helped anyone? I know you gave those celebrities on your rehab show money to further fuel their drug habits, but I think that likely hurt more than helped them. Also, after this Wellbutrin debacle you have lost any credibility as a medical professional anyways. So, just quit because you are doing more harm to the public than good. 

- Move out of LA: In rehab they usually say that you need to leave your social circle to successfully handle whichever addiction you have created for yourself. Los Angeles is the epicenter of vapid, soulless, fame culture. You know, all the things you can't get enough of. Move somewhere that the media completely ignores. How about Detroit?

- Grow a mustache: No one with a mustache has been successful in the media since Burt Reynolds in the 90's. This will kill any chance of the media paying attention to you as you will be too stupid looking to be on published or televised.

 

If you do these things, I know you can become someone that I don't have the urge to throw a brick at. If you don't take this wonderful advice though, I will need to cut you off from my life and continue to consider you a soulless douche bag. Your existence will cease to be in my opinion. 

 

So, will you take this chance to maintain a shred of dignity? Wait, Dr. Drew don't leave the intervention. Please! 

 

Oh whatever...you were probably a lost cause anyways. 

Call of Duty goes Free to Play

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After going to Vegas I've been trying to catch up on news and found this interesting piece of news:

 

Activision, partnering with Chinese game company Tencent, is launching a free-to-play Call of Duty shooter in the Chinese market, the companies revealed this morning. "Call of Duty Online" is the name, but beyond that little is known

 

Personally this feels like a good move by Activision. First, it will allow them to enter a market they have really no footprint in with a model that is more palettable for the Chinese gamer. If Activision did they type of model in America, it would likely have a negative impact on their retail Call of Duty Games. In China though, this could lead to millions of potential new customers for Activision.

 

Another great thing for Activision about this move is theis will get them familiar with applying the free to play model with their Call of Duty franchise. This may not be a good thing for consumer's wallets, but if they can find a model of success in China you can be sure that Activision will attempt free-to-play in America. 

 

The one wrinkle I see with this idea is the fact that a Chinese company is making the game. There is some merit in this choice as Tencent has a lot of success and experience in this market, something Activision lacks. However, this company has never made a Call of Duty game and if they aren't able to meet the standards that Infinity Ward and Treyarch have created than they could kill the Call of Duy brand in China before it begins.

 

So what do you all think? Is it a good idea? Do you even like free-to-play? Are you one of those people that feel the last good shooter was Quake 3? Share your thoughts in the comments section below. 

Post-Vegas

It's Monday morning. Ellie, despite her best attempts at waking herself up, is once again sleeping. Check out is in a little over an hour and nothing is packed, none of us are ready. Slightly hungover and very tired, I wanted to share a few thoughts on this fever dream of a weekend:

- Gambling: Didn't do too bad on this front. In three days I lost somewhere around ten dollars, mostly in nickel video poker. For the loss though, I got about a dozen free drinks so really I feel I didn't lose much at all except for maybe my judgement.

- EURO Final: I didn't even watch the second half and honestly it was pretty disappointing. There was a lot of energy in the room at first but one Spain scored the second goal the energy left the room. Even the whales that betted on Italy to win kind of got to go through this slow acceptance that they were going to lose a lot of money. No one was tense and also the game wasn't close so unless you are a fan of Spain it wasn't very interesting.

- Food: The food in Vegas is awesome. That's it. Whether it was Nob Hill Tavern where I had the Monkfish or Holstein's where we got burgers and shakes, the food was consistently top notch. To me, the food is really one of the high points in going to Vegas, yet it seems a lot of people aren't aware of this. Holstein's was about 25 bucks a person and thats with alcohol. It was only half full on a Sunday. We walked back from there and in the Paris there was a two hour wait for the buffet which is 30 dollars a person.

Why are you going to that buffet? I've actually been to it once, it was mediocre. You got Yelp now, there is no excuse to not try the number of great restaurants in that price range instead of loading up on the salad bar. Seriously folks, take a chance for once in your life and don't do the buffet.

- Imperial Palace Elevators: Imperial Palace, fix your damn elevators. I know you are not the nicest place but when I stay at a Holiday Inn their elevators at least work. Why do you need to stop on every floor even though the elevator is at full capacity? I've been on some very old elevators that don't do this, yet at Imperial Palace they all do it. Its incredible that the conversation I heard the most while I was in this hotel was "What's wrong with the elevators?"

- Asian Tourists: Asians, why do you need to take pictures of everything? I understand that you want to catalog your trip so you can look back at it in the future, but do you really need to block the escalator to take a picture of the Bellagio. There are hundreds of people walking though and yet you stop right at the top of the escalator and prevent people from getting to their respective destinations. Are you that oblivious and self-centered? What goes through your mind when someone does it to you?

This happened multiple times.

There was a lot of other things I could share but I'm too tired to write them. I guess the motto "What happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas" holds some truth to it. Except maybe with the slight variation of "What happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas and is then applied to your debit account"

Pre-Vegas

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Some of the benefits of living in Phoenix are:

 

- Cheap Housing
- Cheap Mexican Food 
- Cheap Landscaping 
- Cars last forever here

 

And possibly one of the best reasons, Phoenix is less than five hours away from one of the most absurdly stupid, gaudy, and decedent places in the world. The only place where you can go from an Egyptian Pyramid, to a medieval castle via a free tram. You thought it wasn't possible to see a 65 year old overweight woman with a fannie pack looking at $1200 heels at Jimmy Choo, but it not only happens in here, its expected. Of course, I'm talking about the illuminated armpit that is Las Vegas.

 

I can't really say why I love Las Vegas. I don't gamble much, I don't go to clubs and I sure don't care about the shows. There is great food (if you're willing to pay for it) and there are actually very nice places to have a drink and just relax. But if these were all Vegas had for me, it wouldn't be worth the price of admission.

 

The real great thing about Vegas is that time ceases to exist. You go from themed hotel to themed hotel, getting free drinks and watching all the other strangers doing the same thing. If they aren't doing the same thing, then usually they are hating the place with a passion and in a way it almost makes you enjoy Vegas more. You look at them like they're not doing it right, or that its there fault for coming to Las Vegas in the first place. If you're not into a schizophrenic haze of bright lights, gambling and drinks then frankly you shouldn't go to Vegas.

 

I will write a post-Vegas article on Monday as well, but I wanted to share what plans we got so far:

 

Video Poker - Some of the guys will go play Blackjack but those guys are insane and will lose a couple hundred bucks. For me, its the simplicity of video poker. The odds are stupid easy to play and while the house always wins, the amounts lost are so small its easily off-set by all the free drinks you get. What is that you say, free drinks? Yes, they give you free drinks to gamble in Vegas. We have gambling in Phoenix but they don't do this so guess what, I never gamble here. Also, if you give a tip for each drink you get (I usually give a dollar or two on each drink) they will serve you just as much at the idiots losing hundreds at the poker tables.

Euro Cup Final - This was a happy accident. 2 years ago, we happened to go to Vegas the same weekend as the World Cup Final between Spain and the Netherlands.It was great because while it wasn't completely packed in the Caesar's Palace viewing area there was a good sized but loyal crowd. The real highlight was watching the people who got a booth with a phone to watch the game. These high rollers usually were sitting in for someone with far more money. You could tell because they were constantly on the phone nervously speaking things in Arabic to someone on the other side. The game went into extra time and these guys looked like Casper, they just wanted Spain to win so they didn't get their legs broken. 
When Spain scored in extra time and won, these men rejoiced in a way where they had this glow. Almost as if someone saves you from falling off a cliff. They were regaining their breath as if they hadn't gotten Oxygen in a good half.

Nice Dinner - Vegas is a great place to get an amazing meal. In the past, I have eaten at Bouchon, Sage, and Olives. They were all great and this year we plan to waste an exorbitant amount of money at some new restaurant I haven't tried. Yep, this is my Blackjack table.

 

I look forward to seeing how this trip goes as I'm sure there will be a number of surprises. Be back on Monday will my update from Las Vegas but if you have any suggestions of things to do in Vegas leave them in the comments section.

 

Wish me luck.

Sorry for no post today.

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Hey everyone, I was trying to get to a post early this morning but never got the time to do it. I have a more fun post tomorrow but in the meantime I'd recommend reading any comments section underneath an article about how the Health Care Individual Mandate was upheld.  Or hell, read powerful radio host Michael Savage who said:

Therefore neurologists will tell you that medication used for seizure disorders, such as epilepsy, can introduce mental slowing, forgetfulness and other cognitive problems. And if you look at Roberts' writings you can the cognitive disassociation in what he is saying,"

Millions of people listen to this guy everyday, thats not scary at all. Oh also, if you listened to my former podcast, I argued a few months ago that while I didn't like the individual mandate, it should be upheld because a tax penalty has the same effect as a tax credit. If they want to throw this out then they need to throw out all the tax credits. This was a finding very similar to the one from Chief Justice Roberts stating that the mandate works as a tax.

Also, on another quick side note, I wanted to plug my old chum Corey's new iOS game DancePad. You dance with your fingers and its pretty well made and FREE.

SEE YOU TOMORROW!