Thursday, May 24, 2012

Twitter Phishing

Got an email about a direct message "from" Twitter that turned out to be a phishing scam. A friend's Twitter account was hacked (whatever that means) and was used to send out emails directing you to a fake Twitter page. I almost put my login and password but since I was already logged in to Twitter, I thought it was strange and double checked the URL. Turned out it was TVVIITER.COM:
Whois Server Version 2.0

Domain names in the .com and .net domains can now be registered
with many different competing registrars. Go to
for detailed information.

Whois Server:
Referral URL:
Name Server: NS11.XINCACHE.COM
Name Server: NS12.XINCACHE.COM
Status: ok
Updated Date: 10-may-2012
Creation Date: 10-may-2012
Expiration Date: 10-may-2013

Last update of whois database: Fri, 25 May 2012 03:24:21 UTC

Looks like the domain was registered in China just recently. What were they going to do when they steal my account? Tweet my 18 followers with more spam? Why are they doing this when Twitter is banned/blocked/censored in China... should be spamming Sina Weibo instead.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Daily Mail
He has been picked as an expert judge to help find the nation's next biggest superstar on hit TV show The Voice.

But when arrived at a climate change debate recently, he showed a shocking lack of judgement.

The 37-year-old Black Eyed Peas star arrived for the talk at Oxford University in his private helicopter.

Seemingly oblivious to the furore that it might cause, the pop star even tweeted pictures of the 'hip.hop.copter' when he landed.

According to the Daily Star, he then spent about an hour with Myles Allen - a leading climate expert - before heading off to carry the Olympic torch in Taunton.

His trip from London was a total of 286 miles and used 71.5 gallons of fuel, ploughing three-quarters of a tonne of CO2 into the atmosphere, which is the same as the average UK person produces in an entire month.

Of course, this is nothing new. Check out how many private jets and huge limos are present at every UN/IPCC climate conference. If these alarmists are so worried about global warming, then they should change their own behavior first. Otherwise, it's just another excuse to control other people's lives and spend other people's money.

Reactions from fellow hypocrites?
But his transportation to the event did not escape the attention of those at the university - or physics professor Mr Allen.

He said: 'The irony didn’t escape everybody. But he’s committed to the issues and he’s written songs about it.'

He added that a better understanding of the problems is probably more important than whether he travelled in the helicopter.

Oh, he's written songs about it. That makes it okay then. If I tweet "CO2 is bad!" then I can keep driving my SUV?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Monday, May 21, 2012

Annular Eclipse 2012

For some reason, I didn't find out about the eclipse until Friday. We ended up at my friend's back yard in Palos Verdes which had a pretty unobstructed view west. There were seven of us in total and we had to share on pair of paper solar glasses with mylar lenses. I looked online for photography tips and got a bit freaked out. I know you're not supposed to look at the sun directly with the naked eye but I guess it can also burn out digital camera image sensors. People were recommending on using a very dark N400 neutral density filter which is about 9 F-stops but I only had a 3 F-stop 0.9D (N8) filter.

First attempt using program mode... didn't work that well.

After tinkering with the settings, I took off the UV filter, set the camera to manual focus, and set the aperture (F-40) and shutter speed (1/4000 sec) to let in as little light as possible. This was at 6:19pm.

Full-coverage (for Los Angeles anyway) at 6:39pm. There is still way too much light so the image is not sharp. I really needed a darker filter and a longer lens. This was taken with my Sony a55V using a zoom lens at 250mm. I had another zoom lens that can go to 300mm but I didn't have a filter for it. Unfortunately all three lenses I own has different filter diameters.

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I also tried to take photos using my Panasonic DMC-TZ3 point-and-shoot with the mylar glasses placed in front of the lens. It was hard to hold and the camera had problems focusing.

One of my friends is an avid iPhone photographer so he also tried the mylar glasses. However, without optical zoom the image was way too small. My other friend was trying to take a picture of the iPhone screen at the same time so I took a photo of everyone.

I just ordered a cheapo variable neutral density filter that goes from N2 to N400. It appears to be two polarizing filters that rotate to let in variable amounts of light. It's not the same as a real N400 filter but it should work. I'm ready for the next eclipse visible in LA in 2071!

MBC K-pop Concert in San Francisco

I'm watching it live on YouTube though the video keeps stopping. It says there are 95k+ people watching right now... crazy. Sister is performing Alone... finally got to see them semi-live. Ugh, now I'm down to 240p...

The lineup is sooo much better than KMF last month since it's focused on K-pop:
- Super Junior
- Girls' Generation
- Wonder Girls
- Sistar
- f(x)

Even at 240p the video is not streaming properly. Probably didn't expect 100k viewers online.


Hmm, viewer count seems to have stabilized at ~100k and the stream, now at 360p has been about 90% stable. Sistar performed 3 songs and now it's f(x). Krystal and Amber are speaking lots of English to the audience.


Oh, I just remember that SMTown was this weekend in LA. That's why Super Junior, SNSD, and f(x) are in the US at once.


KARA is up right now. They performed Lupin, talked for a bit (with Nicole translating), and now it's Mister and the butt dance!

BTW, Tiffany and Taeyeon of SNSD are MC's. Tiffany is speaking a lot of English, unlike at KMF where it was all Korean. The sound engineering also sounds a lot better; it sucked at KMF/Hollywood Bowl. Dang it, I wish I could have gone tonight. :(

Wonders Girls and SNSD are up next after BEAST.

I Have Nothing - Ailee

I Have Nothing (Whitney Houston) - Ailee

Sunday, May 20, 2012

CCTV9 Jackass Doubles Down

Get Whitey, part 2

China Daily
A Chinese broadcaster tonight said he is considering legal action against a blogger who accused him of being a xenophobe for comments he made on Sina Weibo.

Yang Rui, who hosts Dialogue, an English-language show on CCTV News, said Charlie Custer, editor of China Geeks, had "damaged his reputation."


In response, Custer, a blogger from the United States who is fluent in Mandarin, launched an online campaign calling for the Dialogue host to be fired.

"These vicious lies do not represent the vast majority of foreign citizens in China," Custer wrote on Sina Weibo. As of Sunday night, the post had been forwarded 3,600 times.

Custer declined to comment when contacted by China Daily.

"His remarks are nothing but libel against a sincere and conscientious host who has been devoted to international cultural exchanges for 13 years," Yang said in a telephone interview.

Hmm, when I saw Yang Rui on CCTV9, I thought he was totally rude to his guests. Now he just shows that he is a thug and a coward. His lawsuit talk is just BS; if he has a case, then file the lawsuit. Those that whine about suing in public are attention whores. If Yang is so "devoted to international cultural exchange" then let him explain his "Melissa Chan is a bitch" and "foreigners = trash" comments instead of threatening his critics... but that's just how the CCP operates so I don't expect anything different from a party mouthpiece.

BTW, many sources claim that Yang Rui's daughter either lives or studies in the US. Does that make her "foreign trash" too? What would he say if a US TV news anchor called his daughter a "bitch" and advocate kicking her out of the country?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Get Whitey!

Wall Street Journal
With a surge of anti-foreigner bile rising in Beijing, one might expect a prominent Chinese TV personality whose job it is to interview foreigners to weigh in with a few calming words.

One would be dead wrong.

In a rather perplexing move this week, Chinese Central Television host Yang Rui added a dose of poison to an already vitriolic debate about the behavior of foreigners in the Chinese capital by posting a message online in which he accused foreign spies in the city of pursuing Chinese women to cover up their activities, blamed Western residents for encouraging Chinese people to move abroad and appeared to take a certain vulgar delight in the recent expulsion of al-Jazeera correspondent Melissa Chan.

A full translation of the message, posted Wednesday to his verified account on popular Twitter-like microblogging service Sina Weibo:

The Public Security Bureau wants to clean out the foreign trash: To arrest foreign thugs and protect innocent girls, they need to concentrate on the disaster zones in [student district] Wudaokou and [drinking district] Sanlitun. Cut off the foreign snake heads. People who can’t find jobs in the U.S. and Europe come to China to grab our money, engage in human trafficking and spread deceitful lies to encourage emigration. Foreign spies seek out Chinese girls to mask their espionage and pretend to be tourists while compiling maps and GPS data for Japan, Korea and the West. We kicked out that foreign bitch and closed Al-Jazeera’s Beijing bureau. We should shut up those who demonize China and send them packing.

This is the original posting in Chinese:

This is just so weird. His job is to interview foreigners yet this is how he views his guests?! This is the problem with a totalitarian dictatorship... people parroting the party line for political reasons often go overboard in their "support" of the government. Does he really feel this way or is he sucking up to his political bosses. Either way, I wouldn't want to appear on his show (I know, he wasn't going to ask me anyway).

Let see, I've dated two Chinese girls in China, pulled out my Blackberry so I can use Google Maps w/GPS, converted some US money to RMB, and tried to ask about Liu Xiaobo after he won the Nobel Peace Prize. Hmm, that must make me "foreign trash" even though I get treated as local trash when I'm in China.


Looking at the English translation of his Weibo post, I see the words "foreign bitch" in reference to Al-Jazeera's Beijing bureau; he must be talking about Melissa Chan. I looked up 泼妇 in Google Translate (bitch) and Nciku (shrew; vixen) and it seems to be properly translated. How unprofessional. She was obviously kicked out because the CCP didn't like her reporting embarrassing stories, and unlike Yang Rui, doesn't take orders from they party's propaganda department.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Korean Bond

Mascara - Violet

Kinda reminds me of Bond. Hot chicks in short skirts playing classical instruments. No trumpet though...

Explosive - Bond

I saw Bond live at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood many moons ago. We got there late so we had to sit at the very back but it was still pretty cool.

도착 - Lena Park

도착 - Lena Park

Friday, May 11, 2012

Sistar on Google+

Even I don't do much online (other than post random stuff on my blog), I have an account on almost all social media sites. When I saw Sistar members have accounts on Google+, I added them to my circle: all 4 members plus the Sistar official Google+ account. Since I can't read Hangul/Korean, it's mostly to see photos or video links.

A few days ago, I got an email from Google+ that I was added to other people's circles. It turned out to be Kang Ji Hyeon (Soyou) and Yoon Bora. I didn't even know Soyou's real name until the email. I was exited until I saw Soyou had 1600+ people in her circle... it's probably an intern at Starship Entertainment adding people and ghost-posting stuff for them.

Kang Ji Hyeon

I hope they will show up to KMF 11 next year.

Alone [MV] - Sistar

Lead Me + Alone - Sistar

I like Lead Me better than Alone. Too bad they're promoting Alone so they're not performing Lead Me anymore.

Ass U Me

Media in China is a farce. When you read any newspaper editorial, you need to remember that it's the communist party speaking. Don't be fooled into thinking that there's any analysis or independent thinking behind the words.

Global Times
China refused to extend the press credentials and visa of Melissa Chan, English correspondent of the Arabic-language news network Al-Jazeera in Beijing, and hasn't allowed the channel to find someone to replace her. The news network said that its Beijing bureau was "forced out of China." Foreign media claimed that Melissa Chan was the first accredited foreign journalist to be expelled from China since 1998.


China didn't give a specific reason for expelling the reporter. This ambiguity cannot be criticized. According to foreign journalist sources here in Beijing, Melissa Chan holds an aggressive political stance. According to foreign reports, she has a tense relationship with the management authorities of foreign correspondents. She has produced some programs which are intolerable for China.


According to some Chinese people who work or used to work in foreign media bureaus, it is common practice for some foreign journalists to just piece together materials based on their presuppositions when reporting on China. If a foreign reporter cannot stay in China, we can only assume that he or she has done something cross the line.

Sigh... so much misinformation is such a short editorial. Why the scary quotes around "forced out of China"? In order to work in China, you need a visa. If the government does rejects your visa renewal, and refuse to issue any visas to your organization, then they've effectively forced you out of the country. What if the US refuses to give visas to any Xinhua reporters? GT would be the first to whine about the US forcing Chinese reporters out of the country.

Again, if you remember that the same people who forced Melissa Chan out of the country are the same ones that "wrote" the editorial, you see how stupid it sound. Here's my summary of the editorial:
We refused to extend the press credentials and visa of Melissa Chan because she does not follow our instructions on what to report. Some of her reporting exposes things that we don't want anyone to know about. We don't want to give you s reason for forcing her out of China so you just have to trust us since we're never wrong. Remember that all of you will have to renew your visas in the future.

Looking back, I think it's just as well that things didn't work out with Sindy. Both her parents and her uncle are CCP members. Even though her uncle told me he joined for work promotion, her dad is a pretty hardcore commie.


If you think I'm too harsh, read this article from Caixin Online:
A bad hair day for a provincial official has attracted great buzz on the internet. Wen Yongdong is a representative of Bijie County in Guiyang, capital of the southwestern province of Guizhou. The tranquility of his life suddenly ended on March 24 when a heavy object smashed the roof of a car in an office parking lot. No one was hurt, but it prompted the local TV station to cover this "impact" story. When a reporter asked Wen for an interview, he blurted out: "You are a journalist and you are a mouthpiece of the party. Are you serving the people or serving the party?"

When the audio tape and the transcript were posted on the internet, the outrage was instant. Outlets controlled by the Communist Party of China media went into overdrive to condemn this "either or" choice. The politically correct line has always been that the party is for the people; serving the party and serving the people are one and the same. By driving a wedge between the two, Wen committed the grossest error. The jeers in the blogosphere focus on the assumptions behind Wen's outburst and what was revealed in this moment of truth.

Wen thought he was the party and the journalist must act in his interest. For this petty bureaucrat , asserting the people's right to know is nonsense.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


My sister and I have been talking about booking an Alaska cruise instead of a family trip to Asia this fall. After I got home today, I called her up on FaceTime to coordinate searching/booking. We originally were going with Disney Cruises for my nieces but they were really expensive. After asking around a bit, we decided to try Royal Caribbean.

Using my mom's computer, I searched for "royal caribbean" and it returned a bunch of links. Since RCL is a huge company, the first few links were at When I clicked on the link, it redirected me to I've been getting their email newsletters (voluntarily) for many years so I recognize the website immediately. I tried this several times and each time I was redirected and could not even go back to previous pages. Somehow I was able to get to the RCL site and Costco using a different browser and we booked our cruise for August.

Afterwards, I ran Malwarebytes and it found a Trojan.happili infection. After cleaning and rebooting, the RCL search links worked fine. Of course, this pissed me off. I was actually going to use Vacations To Go to book my cruise but I ended up going through Costco. The CEO of VTG signed his email newsletters personally so I sent him a terse email telling him how unappreciative I am about him hijacking my computer. After reading about the Trojan some more, I'm not 100% sure that VTG willing used this despicable advertising practice... they can't be that stupid, right? Let's see how he responds.
I’ve been receiving your newsletter for many years and today I finally booked my first cruise. However, it was not with your company because you used a Trojan to hijack my browser. I can tolerate spam emails but infecting your potential customer’s computers for profit is disgusting and bad for business.

To research an Alaskan cruise, I Googled “royal caribbean” and many links were returned. The first one said “Royal Caribbean Cruises – Official Site” with an URL of When I clicked on the link however, it brought me to your website I tried this several times and got the same result. After scanning my computer for virus/spyware and finding/removing Trojan.happili, the Royal Caribbean link took me to the official RCL site. Until yesterday, I would have considered using your company to book my first cruise but I ended up booking two balcony staterooms through Costco. Your prices may or may not be less, but that becomes irrelevant once you or your proxy infected and hijacked my computer.

I hope you reconsider your advertising strategy. Until then, I’m recommending all my friends and family to stay away from your website.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Squeezing Blood Out of a Turnip

Hong Lei = turnip

Voice of America
Chinese Official Questioned About Al Jazeera Reporter's Expulsion

Q: I just want to know whether the expulsion of Melissa Chan should be seen as a warning to other journalists operating in China?

Hong Lei: “I have just answered relevant questions. On the issue of foreign journalists our policies and moves are easy to see. We will continue to provide convenience for foreign journalists reporting in China and we welcome foreign journalists to report in China. At the same time we need to stress that foreign journalists should abide by Chinese laws and regulations, as well as professional ethics of journalists while reporting in China.”

Q: Under what circumstances will Al Jazeera be given press credentials and visas for a new reporter?

Hong Lei: “The Beijing branch of Al Jazeera is still functioning normally.”

Q: So if there is a new correspondent for Al Jazeera will you give them a visa?

Hong Lei: “We will process relevant procedure in accordance with laws and regulations.”

Q: Can you tell us who made the decision to deny Ms. Chan, was it the Foreign Ministry or another department?

Hong Lei: “We deal with relevant matter in accordance with law.”

Q: Can you give us any specifics on why Melissa Chan was expelled from the country because there is a lot of confusion here and unless you’re more specific about it it’s very difficult for us to get a picture of exactly what’s going on.

Hong Lei: “I have already answered this question.”

Q: I think the main concern of the journalists is that the Chinese government, you use the issue of visa as a way to censor journalists’ work in China. Is this a precedent of how the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will behave in the future?

Hong Lei: “I have stressed that China welcomes foreign journalists to report in China and we have also provided convenience to foreign journalists in reporting objectively in China. I think you have been in China for several years and are very clear about this. At the same time I want to stress that foreign journalists should abide by Chinese laws and regulations while reporting in China.”

Q: What could the Chinese government say if a Chinese journalist was expelled from a foreign country?

Hong Lei: “I want to point out that the Chinese government will follow strictly relevant regulations in dealing with foreign journalists.”

Q: Chinese laws and regulations are written down, so even if we don’t know which ones Melissa is accused of violating we know what they say. No where as I know is the Chinese government’s conception of journalistic ethics written down. How can we judge whether our behavior is consistent with Chinese conception of journalist ethics, and can you offer us guidance as to what that conception looks like?

Hong Lei: “I think our policies and laws regarding foreign journalists is very clear. In your work and exchanges with us we have briefed you on relevant Chinese laws and regulations which is also the basis for your work in China. With regard to relevant issue I think relevant media and journalists are clear about that.”

Q: What would the Chinese government say to accusations that it is censoring foreign media with the expulsion of Melissa Chan?

Hong Lei: “I have pointed out China follows relevant laws and regulations in dealing with relevant journalists. I think relevant media and journalists are very clear about what kind of roles and regulations they have broken.”

Q: Where can we see those regulations because we are having some problem in finding which law and regulation was broken. So where can I check the regulation if I want to see some number or article was broken according to Chinese law?

Hong Lei: “I think have answered the relevant question.”


Why do they even bother with going through the motions of holding a press conference?

Monday, May 7, 2012


I found this cool website where people upload huge photos that have been stitched together from lots of small photos. Each resulting montage can have gigapixel sized images. The website is hosting these photos so they can advertise/sell these auto-stepping camera mounts that simplifies the task of taking hundreds or thousands of photos required to make a stitched photo.

I want to try this at Imperial Hill using my camera. The only issue is that planes are always taking off and landing at LAX and any movement through the FOV will cause problems when stitching the images together. I guess I'll have to shoot fast. I'm thinking I can get 15 across and 3 down for 45 photos. If there's 33% overlap, then I'll have 15 x 3 x 2/3 x 16.7MP or a ~500MP photo when I'm done.

Sistar Short Skirt

Sigh... not sure why they keep putting them in such short skirts. Hyorin is really talented so it kinda cheapens their abilities by putting the focus on their bodies instead of vocals/dancing. In addition, I thought they always wore safety pants on stage; not sure what happened at 1:15 in the video.

This is why I like BEG's (Brown Eyed Girls) old stuff. They aren't jumping around half-nekked and don't have crazy zombie make-up.

Brown Eyed Girls on YHY's Love Letter, Part 1

Brown Eyed Girls on YHY's Love Letter, Part 2

Saturday, May 5, 2012

TBIT Construction Progress

As I complained many times in the past, the international terminal (Tom Bradley) at LAX is an embarrassment. The airports I've been to in Asia (Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo, and even Beijing) are so much better. I guess a lot of people have complained so they've been renovating and adding on to the terminal. It's nicer inside than before but the terminal is still too small (too few gates) so construction goes on.

Since I bought my Sony a55 camera, I've been going to Imperial Hill near LAX to take photos. Here are two of the TBIT construction:



In six month's time, it looks like they added some roofing material, though there are less cranes. Maybe there's more progress on the inside. This is what the terminal is supposed to look like when it's done:

It's a bit confusing since I've seen other drawings with an additional "terminal" west of this one connected by a train(?). This would give TBIT a lot more gates; the drawing above doesn't seem to add much, if at all. I don't see any construction evidence of the 2nd additional building though.

Neighborhood Permit Parking Program

I received a letter in the mail from our city's Public Works Department. They've been asked to implement a Neighborhood Parking Permit Program for a few streets near my house. Typically they do this on residential streets near busy commercial areas, or near paid parking lots to reduce the supply of free parking. I live in a very residential area so I wasn't sure why this was necessary at first.

Looking at a map of the area, I think the reason is because of the nearby Peters Canyon Reservoir. There are hiking trails and horse trails in the reservoir area and the small (paid) parking lot fills up fast on weekends. There's no parking on the streets bordering the reservoir so I'm guessing people are parking wherever on small residential streets.

I don't live in the circled area but last weekend the street in front of my house was full of parked cars. I didn't see any neighbors holding an event so it was probably related to overflow parking at the reservoir, or people too cheap to pay the parking fee.

The only other significant item in the letter was that "the City Traffic Commission's decisions are final unless appealed." However, it will cost you money to appeal the decision and applications for appeal requires a $500 deposit. $500?! Don't we pay their salaries out of our property taxes and my !@#$% business license fee? What a scam... I wish I could get extra salary for working on projects at work.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Aggressive Driving

This is the 2nd day in a row that I noticed a white Infiniti G35 Coupe driving aggressively on Crenshaw Blvd. He (I checked) drives north on Crenshaw then turns right on 190th Street. In the short distance from Sepulveda Blvd to 190th St, he changes lanes 10+ times, weaving in and out of traffic. Since it's rush hour, there's not much difference between the lanes so I'm not sure what is the point.

At the Sepulveda Blvd intersection, Crenshaw expands to 4 lanes but the right lane ends right after the intersection, and you have to merge left to stay on Crenshaw. Both days, Mr. G35 has jumped into the right lane before the intersection then squeeze back into the 3rd lane on the next block, slowing down everyone behind him. I hate selfish jerks that drive like that.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Atlas V - AEHF-2 (Updated)

Since we're not launching until May 7th at the earliest, ULA moved up their Atlas V launch to today. One of our internal webcams is pointed in that direction:

Atlas V on LC41 (Launch Complex)

Here is an old map of Cape Canaveral. We launch from LC40.

More photos can be found here. They have a pretty launch tower.


Launched today (Friday 5/4/12) at 11:42am PDT. Here is a view from our livecam on a lightning tower at LC40 (~1.5 miles away):

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

State Department FAIL

I hope I'm wrong but it looks like Obama, Clinton, and the US State Department just handed back Chen Guangchen back to CCP thugs for more torture and illegal detention. I guess the US Embassy is not safe... perhaps I should be traveling on my Canadian passport next time I go to China.

A blind activist said Wednesday that U.S. officials told him that Chinese authorities would have beaten his wife to death had he not left the American Embassy, where he sought sanctuary after fleeing persecution by local officials in his rural town.

A senior U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, denied that the administration had passed on to Chen Guangcheng any threat of violence to his family, but did say that Chen was told that if he stayed in the embassy indefinitely, his family would be returned to their home province.

A shaken Chen, speaking from the hospital room where he was taken after leaving the embassy Wednesday, also said that U.S. officials told him Chinese authorities would send his family back home if he stayed inside. But he added that, at one point, the U.S. officials told him his wife would be beaten to death.

"They said if I don't leave they would take my children and family back to Shandong," Chen told The Associated Press. He said he heard the death threat from an American official whom he could not identify.

Lame. Everyone was complaining about China sending North Korean refugees back across the border to certain torture or death. Now the Obama is doing the same thing. They rejected Wang Lujin's asylum request because Biden didn't want to complicate his meeting with Xi Jinping; did Clinton just do the same with Chen Guangchen?
Clinton had said in a statement earlier in the day that Chen's exit from the embassy "reflected his choices and our values" and said the U.S. would monitor the assurances Beijing gave.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry demanded that the U.S. apologize for harboring Chen, investigate how he got into the embassy and hold those responsible accountable.

"What the U.S. side has done has interfered in the domestic affairs of China, and the Chinese side will never accept it," Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said in a statement.

Both sides were eager to resolve Chen's case to clear the way for talks on a U.S.-China agenda crowded with disagreements over trade imbalances, North Korea and Syria. With Chen out of the way, Clinton, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and their Chinese counterparts would be able to focus on the original purpose of their two-day talks starting Thursday: building trust between the world's superpower and its up-and-coming rival.

I think the Foreign Ministry meant to say, "How did he escape after we spent millions of RMB guarding him?"

Vistaprint Spam

As an ex-engineering nerd, I have lots of email accounts (does anyone remember the free dialup email accounts from Juno?). I signed up for a Yahoo accounts early but moved on to Hotmail (before MSFT) and Gmail. Unfortunately, I used my Yahoo email as my Apple ID way back and since iTunes Store is such a PITA, I'm stuck with the old account. All this means is that I don't use the Yahoo account for anything else other than my Apple ID, and all the emails I receive are from iTunes Store.

So, a few weeks ago I started getting emails from a company called Vistaprint. As I mentioned before, I haven't used my Yahoo email to send anything for many years. Either they found my email from early Internet archives or Apple is selling out its customers. Anyway, at the bottom of the email, there's the obligatory "Unsubscribe" link.

If you click the link, it brings you to this page:

Huh? Typically when I click on the unsubscribe link/button on most other spam-type email, it simply unsubscribes (hopefully) me. Here it asks for my email (they have it already!) and an account password. Obviously I don't have one, and if you click on the "No, I am a new customer" button, it asks you to sign up. WTF? I have to create an account to unsubscribe to spam email?!

Of course, this seems a bit fishy so I Googled "Vistaprint" + "spam" and got lots of hits. Nice. I guess there's no way to unsubscribe from their spam since I'm not going to create an account and give them more info. I'll add them to the spam filter on my Yahoo account but that probably will not block their irritating emails when I check email from my iOS devices.

If any of my 3 readers receive email from Vistaprint, just delete it or add them to your spam filter. If you need printing services, check out Wet Ink Printing. I know the owner and he's a good guy.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Amazon Shipping Charges (Updated)

I buy a lot of stuff from Amazon since it's convenient and sometimes you save a few dollars. When I had problems with the SSD drive install, I ordered a data transfer kit that cost ~$20. Since you get free shipping for orders over $25, I added a cheapo Bluetooth keyboard for my iPad that cost only ~$16. Anyway, when I successfully cloned my boot SSD, I didn't need the cable/software so I tried to cancel my Amazon order.

Well, Amazon came back and said they were able to cancel the data transfer kit but was unable to do anything about the Bluetooth keyboard. Since the order is now only $16, they added back a $8.50 shipping charge. The BT keyboard only weighs ~1/2 pound so the charge seemed ridiculously high, and I would never have ordered it if it would cost me ~$25. I think if Amazon was unable to cancel the entire order, they should have let me choose between continuing with the original order, or approved the revised order with the crazy high shipping charge. In this case, I probably would have kept the original order since I may need the USB-SATA cable in the future. Also, I don't know their order fulfillment process but not sure why they couldn't cancel an order that didn't ship until three days later. Lame.

Anyway, I wrote a short email message to Amazon to see what they would do for me. I probably ordered a couple thousand dollars of stuff from them in the past six months (my Sony a55 kit was >$1000) but not sure if that makes me a customer they want to keep.


Wow, Amazon replied within 25 minutes and credited the shipping charges. I sent the email at 4:30am so they must have CSRs in India or something.