the official website of Kryptech a.k.a. Chris M. Sissons
Rant Board

Everybody has pet peeves. And it is good to vent, right? If you always bottle those little vexations up inside, well, someone could get hurt when you blow up someday. Anyway, I thought I'd make a space to share my dumb rants with the rest of the world.


y2008m08d07 - The Fire Doesn't Care If You Sort First Comment on this (0 so far)

Maybe I just don't love the environment enough.

This morning I had the duty / responsibility / joy(?) of compiling the recyclables into the recycle bin. Normally my sister does this task while I just carry the load to the roadside for pickup. Boy, I never knew it was so much work to sort everything! Too much work. As I picked through the debris scattered on the basement floor and made little (big?) piles of newspapers, regular papers, corrugated cardboard, and non-corrugated cardboard I found myself thinking of the two burn barrels out on the driveway. Was it really worth it to frummel about with it all? Does it really help much in the long run? I was sorely tempted to dump the combustibles into one of the barrels (without sorting them first) and strike a match. But in the end I dutifully hauled it all to the road (it took several trips). I suppose I felt a flicker of environmental-goodness as I walked back to the house, though I'm still not convinced I shouldn't have tossed it to the flames.


y2007m09d27 - Encrypting File System Toasts My Oats Comment on this (0 so far)

A bunch of years back I'd discovered that with Windows XP I could set 'Encrypt' and 'Compress' attributes for files. I thought this was cool since by compressing old video footage I could shrink down the space it needed. And I used the  'Encrypt' attribute on my writings folder. It really wasn't necessary 'cause who was really going to poke around in my writings, but I guess I thought it was cool.

Well, last Sunday I got some weird problem that caused most programs to freeze up when trying to access the Internet  (Firefox, Outlook Express, MSN, Filezilla, etc). I puzzled away for some time and then finally repartitioned the partition with Windows XP Pro and reinstalled it. All my data is on a second hard drive so I wasn't worried about that. Soon I had  a squeaky clean system again, running nice and fast. I installed my programs and I was off and running on Monday evening. I thought I'd work on one of my stories while I was waiting for something to download. By Wordpad said that it couldn’t open the file. I was like, "Say what...?" I tried some other files in the folder (all with green filenames, showing they were encrypted) and I couldn't open any of them. My joy at having a new system was rapidly replaced with horror.

I did a bunch of research online and discovered that Windows XP's Encrypting File System was working precisely the way it was supposed it. I never backed up any of my user profile stuff 'cause I didn't need any of it (or so I thought). My private key was well and truly gone. I considered looking into the possibility of recovering the partition and perhaps getting a hold of the files from the previous system but it didn't seem likely at all. I'm not sure quite how I'd even start...

Thankfully I managed to find copies of most of my writing online or on other computers. Still I lost my entire most recent story (not that long, but still it hurts). And I lost a big chunk of an old, unfinished piece, which I think I would have a hard time reconstructing from memory.

What really toasted my oats about this whole thing was that Windows XP gives no warning whatsoever when one encrypts files. I read the notes on EFS that I found in the XP Help and Support Center and they likewise give no warning that if the user profile is deleted the encrypted files are virtually useless. OK, so I guess I could have backed up my user stuff or read up on EFS but there was never any indication that there was anything to worry about. Maybe I'm just slow.  Anyway, I won't be using EFS again! And I ordered a Comstar 320GB external hard drive today. Time for a regular backup routine.


y2007m09d07 - Prevvies Waste Precious Pages Comment on this (0 so far)

I was nearing the end of the book, Exile, from the Star Wars: Legacy of the Force series. The plot was tense and I was eager to see how the last couple chapters, still waiting under my right thumb, would turn out. As I was finishing a chapter I thought to myself, "Self, this seems to be tying things up a bit prematurely." Then I reached the last paragraph of the chapter and realized why I'd had that impression. The book was done. Or rather, the 'Exile' part of the book was done. The last bunch of pages was devoted to a preview of the next book in the series! I was like, "Dude, that is so not cool! I don't want a preview - I'll read that stuff when I get the next book. No point in spoiling things now." Either put in a preview of some other series, or save a tree and end the book there. It's like those TV shows where you think there will still be a few more minutes of action after a commercial break at the 8:50 mark only to find out that a 'next episode' preview and credits fritter away the minutes left till the hour. OK, I guess some people like the prevvies. I'm not among them. I like the mystery of not knowing what's coming down the pipe (at least in books and shows). But that's just me...


y2007m05d30 - RCS Problems Comment on this (0 so far)

Our rodent control solution was free originally, but does demand ongoing maintenance costs. At one point we had to get it fixed. At a little over 5 kg it is easy enough to pickup (though you must mind the sharp edges!) And the packaging is quite stylish. While I'll quickly attest to its impressive performance in eliminating those scurrying, beady-eyed pests from our yard, I do have a beef with its disposal system. First off the rodent control solution always leaves at least part of the deactivated target behind (often some green component). This is needless since the control solution has a built-in rodent intake system leading to a storage sack where the rodent is recycled (yes, our solution is very enviro-friendly). Another annoyance is the fact that it tends to leave the remnants in high-traffic areas, such as on our back steps. I would much prefer that it would process the pest out in the yard where it was apprehended.

Ah, well, there isn't much I can do. The solution does have some basic learning capabilities but human instruction is largely ignored. Besides, I do admire it at work, creeping through the grass, rear stabilizer motionless, until it pounces upon some hapless creature. Overall a very well designed device, from its sleek black body, swiveling audio sensors, and whisker detection array. So I guess I'll just let our rodent control solution do its thing and put up with the occasional mess.


y2007m02d14 - Why Couldn't They Be 60 MILE/hr Zones? Comment on this (0 so far)

My CRX si likes to go fast. She enjoys being in 3rd gear at 4100 RPM. And, I must admit, I am often more than happy to oblige her. However, most of my trips are just short runs into Newcastle and back home. And the most direct route is utterly devoid of 80 km/h zones, aside from a couple hundred meters of asphalt just before my driveway. How annoying! I take off from a stop sign and just as the turbo is beginning to whir and the engine starts straining at the reigns, the speedo has already leapt to 65 and I've gotta ease my right foot off the skinny pedal. If only the 35/115 swung east towards Newcastle instead of west... Oh, that and a posted limit of 100 km/h rather than this 90 silliness. And maybe a shorter merge lane at the end of my road...? Good excuse to get on it then. ß-)


y2006m09d08 - Dial-up Comment on this (1 so far)

'Nuff said.


y2006m04d26 - Camping Coffee Comment on this (0 so far)

This follows the same vein as "The Smoke, It Doth Get in Mine Eyes". It is also inspired by real life camping experience. I'm thinking particularily of my Algonquin canoe trip with Jason and Pete (both non coffee drinkers). I'd taken lots of instant coffee along and lots of sugar but somehow the stuff ended up tasting powerful gross... The last couple years of the 30-Mile Hike Dad's brought store-bought coffee along when he visited in the morning. Man, does that go down well!

Camping Coffee
By Chris M. Sissons

This camping coffee that I drink
is darker than the blackest ink.
I find it helps my mind to think,
or maybe just wake up...

I wish that I could say it's good
but it tastes like rotting wood.
I haven't quite yet understood
just why it's in my cup…


y2005m03d30 - The Smoke, It Doth Get in Mine Eyes Comment on this (0 so far)

OK, so this little rhyme came to mind while I was walking in the concrete jungle of downtown Newcastle, but it expresses the frustration I've experienced while struggling to kindle a fire in the real wilderness on several occasions. I thought I might as well post it here.

The Smoke, It Doth Get in Mine Eyes
By Chris M. Sissons

Despite my mightiest tries,
Not a single flame doth arise,
From the kindling stacked tall,
With birch bark and all,
Though the smoke it doth get in mine eyes.


y2005m03d16 - For All You Ladybugs Comment on this (0 so far)

It isn't that I hate ladybugs - they are actually among my favouite bugs. The red shells with white dots have always impressed me as stylish yet rugged. They are fairly helpful in consuming evil little bugs too. When it comes to their very real impact on my daily life, however, my fondness dwindles quickly.

During spring time we tend to get quite an influx of the critters into our home. This means flattened ladybugs on the floors throughout the house is a common sight. And of course a rather disagreeable aroma is released whenever one of them is squashed.

I discovered that they also have a taste to beat their smell. It all happened one evening while I was sitting in bed reading my book. There was still a few segments of a Toblerone chocolate bar left so I was going to enjoy that while I read (my favourite bad habit - chocolate in bed!) That kind of chocolate is kinda crumbly and so when I broke off a segment I spotted a few dark crumbs. Telum (our cat) was sitting at my feet hoping to share in the spoils and I contemplated giving one of the larger crumbs to him. Well, there wasn't much left so I grabbed it for myself and tossed it into my mouth.

*crunch* Uuuuggghh! It did *not* taste like chocolate! In fact, it tasted very much like I'd imagined a ladybug to taste. I quickly extracated its crushed body from my mouth and rushed to find some water. It was only after a rinsing and another segment of Toblerone that the vicious ladybug-taste left my mouth.

So ya, nothing against you personally there little critters. Just don't get underfoot, in my clothes, on my keyboard, or in my mouth.


y2005m02d02 - The New CD Blues Comment on this (0 so far)

OK, so you're on your way home from the local Christian bookstore with your new CD. As you turn onto your road you steal a glance at that package of joy sitting in the passenger seat. "I'm gonna luv takin' you for a spin," you whisper under your breath. The moment you get indoors you rush, (CD in hand), to your CD player. As you close your eyes and hold the beloved plastic case up to your nose, you inhale that patented New CD Smell. Ahh - the wonder! And it'll sound even better!

That is, if you can ever get the CD out of the case. The whole works is strangled in this transparent plastic wrap. You try tearing a slash through the front of it with your fingernail. Of course that is hopeless. Next you tackle the folded corners at the edge of the case. Ah ha! An edge is loose! ...only to tear off and flutter to the floor. After another four such shreds follow suit you finally have enough stuff in your grip to rid the case of the evil wrapping. A good yank and off it comes. Well, that and a new crack appears in the oh-so-fragile front of the case. At least you are in!

"Ha, ha - who's the boss now, huh! Huh?" The triumphant grin on your face quickly degenerates into a frown as you notice that your yet unspun disc lays trapped behind a freshness seal. The little strip of adhesive plastic running along the top edge of the case seems like it won't even slow you down though. It even has instructions on where to pull to best remove the seal. So you follow the instructions, unwitting victim that you are. Just as a tinny shred of plastic tears off to firmly affix itself to your thumb you think you hear an evil cackle waft over your head. "Blasted seal," you gripe and work at it with heightened zeal. The seal comes off at last, in approximately 32 individual slivers of sticky plastic.

By the time that infernal length of plastic is removed and cast aside your fingers are slick with sweat and about 98% of that new CD joy has evaporated. Granted, the CD sounds all the sweeter because of the struggle but really, who's cruel joke was it to make getting at some good music so confounded difficult?
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