R U Ready for Some Schedule Whining?

Yes, it’s that time again. As we head in to the first college football games of the season, it’s time for those mighty prognosticators to get out there and spin and whine about who has the easiest and hardest schedules. ESPN, always a favorite of mine, posted theirs the other day.

What I love about these annual articles so much is how the writers spin tales that make it sound as though the college football schedule slate is wiped clean every year, with the schools able to decide entirely on their own who they want to play. It ignores the reality that these games are often scheduled years in advance, through long-term contracts and football conferences. It ignores how the fortunes of teams rise and fall, so that a young and growing program when a contract is signed can be considered weak then but become stronger with time.


More Rutgers & Zoffinger

In checking out a few links and doing a quick Google search, I stumbled on a fascinating read. Though brief, it shows how controversy dogs Zoffinger at every step around Rutgers.

Resolution in Opposition to the Nomination of George Zoffinger to the Rutgers University Board of Governors

First Introduced by Senator Adam Cooper on the Senate Floor, October 22, 2004

Whereas, Governor James E. McGreevey has recently nominated George Zoffinger to the Rutgers University Board of Governors; and

Whereas, George Zoffinger is currently the chair of the New Brunswick Development Corporation (Devco); and

Whereas, Rutgers and Devco are currently involved in a number of construction projects together, and the two will be working together more often on construction and development projects in the years to come; and

Whereas, the Rutgers University Board of Governors has significant influence over new construction projects at Rutgers; and

Whereas, Mr. Zoffinger’s position as chair of Devco would constitute a major conflict of interest should Mr. Zoffinger become a member of the Board of Governors; therefore

Be it resolved, that the Rutgers University Senate opposes the nomination of George Zoffinger to the Rutgers Board of Governors as a result of this inherent conflict of interest; and

Be it further resolved, that the Rutgers University Senate encourages the New Jersey State Senate to reject the confirmation of George Zoffinger to the Rutgers University Board of Governors.


Something’s Just Not Right

I spent three days trying to install Windows XP Professional through Service Pack 3 on an old Dell Dimension 4400 that I’ve had lying around the house that I want to pass on to a friend. It’s taken 5 attempts, and I’m still not sure it’s really there.

Attempt 1: Install Windows XP, then Windows XP Service Pack 2. Notice funky screen behavior and warning messages about recovering from a registry backup after reboot. System crashes; rebuild.

Attempt 2: Install Windows XP, the Windows XP Service Pack 2. Notice funky screen behavior and warning messages about recovering from a registry backup after reboot. Press ahead and install Windows XP SP 3. System crashes spectacularly with lsass.exe error messages and black screens. Rebooting does nothing.

Attempt 3: Install Windows XP, then try to go directly to Windows XP SP 3. System denies attempt. Pick up with installing XP SP 2 as seen in attempt 2.

Attempt 4: See attempts 2 & 3.

Attempt 5: Install Windows XP, then install Windows XP Service Pack 1. Aha! System stable. Install Windows XP SP 3. Get lsass.exe error messages and black screen of death. Reboot. System starts up, then crashes. Reboot. System starts up, gives 4 bit color and is missing device drivers. Try to re-install missing device drivers; fails. Reboot. System comes up cleanly. Reboot to see if this is fluke. System comes up cleanly. Still skeptical; reboot again. System comes up cleanly. Check My Computer’s System Properties to see OS version. Windows XP Service Pack 3. Still skeptical, reboot again. Aha! “WIndows – Registry Recovery”. “ONe of the files containing the system’s Registry data had to be recovered by use of a log or alternate copy. The recovery was successful.” Reboot again. System comes up cleanly.

I know it’s Windows XP, but honestly, does this make any sense at all? I didn’t realize we actually had “self-repairing” computer operating systems back in 2002.



A few years back, I invested for a time in a blood testing company called Immucor (Ticker: BLUD). They followed the razor / razorblade model so popular today – sell your razor around or at cost while charging nice margins on the razorblades. The custom testing reagents had lofty profit margins.

One of the only drawbacks was the potential for “artificial blood” to come to market, something that sounds a bit further off based on this Wired article. Too bad I sold the stock, missing out on a fantastic run.


Security & Freedom of Speech

I had a passing interest over the past few weeks about the MIT students who were planning to present their research in to the flaws associated with the Boston “T”‘s transit card that make it possible for someone to “hack” the system. It was disappointing to see the response of the transit authority, filing a lawsuit to try to block release of the information, as opposed to actively working to eliminate the flaws in the system. This is especially disappointing in light of the fact that the transit authority had advanced notice of the vulnerabilities in the system and of the presentation and waited until the last minute to sue to block the release.

Bruce Schneier, commenting in Wired, argues that “Full Disclosure” is the only real motivation for companies and groups to fix their vulnerabilities as opposed to trying to force secrecy on all those who discover them. As an avid techie, I fully believe that it is only full disclosure that makes software and security systems stronger. The only incentive companies have is the fear of losing customers and the liability that might exist should it be clear that the company knew that the vulnerability existed but instead decided to ignore it. Full disclosure makes it clear to everyone that the vulnerability exists, preventing the responsible party from hiding or shirking their duty to plug the hole. His historical write-up makes it clear that only fully disclosing the vulnerability spurs action; otherwise denials and complaints about potential losses abound.

And as Bruce notes, “[t]he Dutch court got it exactly right when it wrote: ‘Damage to NXP is not the result of the publication of the article but of the production and sale of a chip that appears to have shortcomings.'”


Being “Watched”

Good news if you’re on the T(housands) S(tanding) A(round) watch list – an appeals court ruled recently that you, in fact, can sue to have your name removed from the list.

The issue was decided entirely on procedural grounds, though, from the reading of this passage in the article:

Kozinski, joined by James Otero, found instead that the TSA’s no-fly and selectee lists were compiled and maintained by another agency — the Terrorist Screening Center — that wasn’t protected, so the challenge can proceed. Judge Randy Smith dissented, saying Congress clearly wanted to protect the TSA from such suits.

I imagine there will either be some quick administrative consolidation or another law passed to rectify this loophole, since, as the TSA points out, “court reviews would destroy the watch lists and lead to another hijacking like 9/11“.



The NY Times has a balanced, in-depth article on the benefits and drawbacks of Merck’s and GlaxoSmithKline’s efforts on the cervical cancer front. They recount the marketing efforts behind the vaccine as well as the questions surrounding the cost / benefit analysis that exists.


You Never Know

Wired writes about how to hotwire your car. Because, hey, you never know.


Good Advice for GMail Users

My fellow GMail users should take a few minutes to read the article below.

Why You Should GMail’s SSL Feature On Now


Zoffinger & Rutgers

The Asbury Park Press had an article on George Zoffinger, a controversial figure on the Rutgers Board of Governors.