Sick grass

I am trying to diagnose a possible SAD infection of my new Palmetto St. Augustine grass. Even though Palmetto is advertised as a superior St. Augustine, it in fact appears to be very inferior and easily catches all sorts of diseases.

These are images of “sick” parts of my grass. I am not sure if I have SAD or downy mildew or something else. While some pieces of grass show SAD-like symptoms, most show strong symptoms of downy mildew or fungus.


You can barely make it out, but this blade has parallel stripes running down its length.


Another blade with stripes and burn marks.


Stripes and burn marks readily apparent.


The lighter-colored areas are where the grass is discolored. The grass on the left half is the “new” grass from Sept. 2006. The grass on the right is old grass. The grass in the foreground is some native (?) bermuda that grew over a spot where I filled in some dirt.


More representative grass sections.


Here’s a piece showing SAD-like symptoms and burn marks.


Another view with other striped grass blades shown more prominently.

Kodak camera “hard drive” disappeared, but now is found!

I had another small computer victory today.

I have a Kodak DX7590 camera. It is a great camera. It has gotten me through 7933 pictures over 21 months, and last April, it survived a 4 foot drop onto asphalt with no damage.

When I connect it to the computer, it shows up as another hard drive:

From there, I cut and paste the pictures to my hard drive. Really convenient, and I don’t have to use the terrible EasyShare software. Kodak makes this software look good, but it’s really garbage that locks up your images in its awful interface.

A couple of weeks ago, the “hard drive” stopped appearing after I connected the camera. I was unable to get any pictures off the camera. I futzed around for quite a while, eventually thinking my system was messed up.

I finally called Kodak’s technical support line in desperation. After 10 minutes convincing the tech support representative I am not an idiot, she finally admitted that Kodak removed the “hard drive” feature in EasyShare 6.0, the latest version. At first, she spun some yarn about how Kodak doesn’t retain the old software and I would have to get by with this new version. After explaining that I don’t want the full EasyShare product, she relented and gave me a link to get the old software: http://www.kodak.com/go/ess5/.

After upgrading to the old version, EasyShare 5, my computer and camera are once again happy campers.

Buggy PHP

UPDATE (10-31-06): It took a couple of repsonses to get the PHP folks to pull their heads out of their butts. The case has been open for a month, and it’s just a silly documentation error, but the PHP folks don’t take their product seriously enough to fix it.

UPDATE (9-27-06): The idiots who make PHP marked my bug report as “bogus.” (link) So much for PHP. What a joke of a script platform.

In attempting to install phpBB, I discovered a major PHP flaw.

PHP provides extensions to its core functionality called PECL (PHP Extensions Community Library). Even though they are called extensions, these packages provide important functionality like XML DOM, encryption, etc.

phpBB supports several databases. Since I work at a mostly Microsoft shop, I use SQL Server. phpBB uses PHP’s mssql extension for database communications.

The PHP script engine installed fine on my Windows 2003 SP1 server, and I got a Hello, world! app running very quickly. I then installed phpBB. The initial install page came up OK, but after entering my database configuration information, I kept getting an obtuse error:

phpBB : Critical Error
Could not connect to the database

What poor programming! The phpBB folks apparently can’t be bothered to give meaningful error messages. Even experienced folks at phpBB couldn’t figure out that error.

After a lot of futzing, I determined that phpBB was unable to talk to SQL Server, no matter what I did or checked. So I sniffed my network connection with Wireshark (formerly Ethereal) and found that php.exe was trying to talk to my SQL Server box using ports 445 and 139. That wasn’t what I expected; SQL Server connections normally use port 1433.

Further digging uncovered a major bug with how PHP talks to external SQL Servers. Apparently, PHP was trying to created a named pipe to SQL Server. Named pipes are an outdated, complicated way of talking to SQL Servers that have been superseded with standard TCP 1433 connections.

More Google searches turned up that this has been an problem since at least 2002. It can be fixed with a registry hack: find the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\MSSQLServer\Client\ConnectTo registry key (create it if it doesn’t exist), and add a new string DSQUERY=DBNETLIB. In doing that, you tell the SQL Server Client, which mssql uses for the actual SQL Server communications, to use standard TCP instead of named pipes. This hack was buried on a PHP comment page about the mssql_connect function.

Is this a safe hack? Will it affect other applications? I don’t know for sure, but I’ll bet it won’t hurt anything. Apparently it just tells the SQL Server Client to use a DLL named dbnetlib.dll, a TCP/IP client connection library that comes with MDAC.

Why has the PHP team allowed this bug to live for at least 4 years? If they fail to cover major bugs like this, what else have they missed? Are PHP users exposed to the next major PHP security flaws?

By the way, this problem only affects SQL Servers that are on a different machine than the web server. It appears that SQL Servers on the same machine apparently work fine.

Nerd Political Humor

Left wing coworker: [gives link to a book alleging moral lapses of individual Republicans]

Me: Yeah, ‘cuz Democrats are totally bland and uninteresting, right?

Left wing coworker: Um, no. Dude, stop comparing the pantheon of *current*, corrupt republicans with the relatively small (if they even exist) corrupt dems. I’m calling bullshit on you on this. Sorry, but that’s the way it is. Stop trying to play this b.s. with me.

Me: HAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAH. “relatively small” amount of corrupt dems? HAHAHAHAH. Maybe only because there are relatively less of them in DC!

Left wing coworker: Very well, start naming them. I’m waiting.

Me: Here you go:

  1. Bud Cramer
  2. Artur Davis
  3. Eni F. H. Faleomavaega
  4. Raul M. Grijalva
  5. Ed Pastor
  6. Marion Berry
  7. Blanche Lincoln
  8. Mark Pryor
  9. Mike Ross
  10. Vic Snyder
  11. Joe Baca
  12. Xavier Becerra
  13. Howard L. Berman
  14. Barbara Boxer
  15. Lois Capps
  16. Dennis Cardoza
  17. Susan A. Davis
  18. Cal Dooley
  19. Anna Eshoo
  20. Sam Farr
  21. Dianne Feinstein
  22. Bob Filner
  23. Jane Harman
  24. Mike Honda
  25. Tom Lantos
  26. Barbara Lee
  27. Zoe Lofgren
  28. Juanita Millender-McDonald
  29. George Miller
  30. Grace Napolitano
  31. Nancy Pelosi
  32. Lucille Roybal-Allard
  33. Linda Sanchez
  34. Loretta Sanchez
  35. Adam Schiff
  36. Brad Sherman
  37. Hilda L. Solis
  38. Pete Stark
  39. Ellen O. Tauscher
  40. Mike Thompson
  41. Maxine Waters
  42. Diane E. Watson
  43. Henry A. Waxman
  44. Lynn Woolsey
  45. Diana DeGette
  46. Mark Udall
  47. Rosa L. DeLauro
  48. Chris Dodd
  49. John B. Larson
  50. Joe Lieberman
  51. Joseph R. Biden Jr.
  52. Tom Carper
  53. Eleanor Holmes Norton
  54. Allen Boyd
  55. Corrine Brown
  56. Jim Davis
  57. Peter Deutsch
  58. Bob Graham
  59. Alcee L. Hastings
  60. Kendrick B. Meek
  61. Bill Nelson
  62. Robert Wexler
  63. Sanford D. Bishop Jr.
  64. John Lewis
  65. Denise L. Majette
  66. Jim Marshall
  67. Zell Miller
  68. David Scott
  69. Madeleine Z. Bordallo
  70. Neil Abercrombie
  71. Daniel K. Akaka
  72. Ed Case
  73. Daniel K. Inouye
  74. Jerry F. Costello
  75. Danny K. Davis
  76. Dick Durbin
  77. Rahm Emanuel
  78. Lane Evans
  79. Luis V. Gutierrez
  80. Jesse Jackson Jr.
  81. Bill Lipinski
  82. Bobby L. Rush
  83. Jan Schakowsky
  84. Evan Bayh
  85. Julia Carson
  86. Baron Hill
  87. Pete Visclosky
  88. Leonard L. Boswell
  89. Tom Harkin
  90. Dennis Moore
  91. Ben Chandler
  92. Ken Lucas
  93. John Breaux
  94. William J. Jefferson
  95. Chris John
  96. Mary L. Landrieu
  97. Tom Allen
  98. Mike Michaud
  99. Ben Cardin
  100. Elijah E. Cummings
  101. Steny H. Hoyer
  102. Barbara A. Mikulski
  103. Dutch Ruppersberger
  104. Paul S. Sarbanes
  105. Chris Van Hollen
  106. Albert R. Wynn
  107. Michael E. Capuano
  108. Bill Delahunt
  109. Barney Frank
  110. Edward M. Kennedy
  111. John Kerry
  112. Stephen F. Lynch
  113. Edward J. Markey
  114. James P. McGovern
  115. Marty Meehan
  116. Richard E. Neal
  117. John W. Olver
  118. John F. Tierney
  119. John Conyers Jr.
  120. John D. Dingell
  121. Dale E. Kildee
  122. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick
  123. Carl Levin
  124. Sander Levin
  125. Deborah Ann Stabenow
  126. Bart Stupak
  127. Mark Dayton
  128. Betty McCollum
  129. James L. Oberstar
  130. Collin C. Peterson
  131. Martin Olav Sabo
  132. Gene Taylor
  133. Bennie G. Thompson
  134. William L. Clay Jr.
  135. Richard A. Gephardt
  136. Karen McCarthy
  137. Ike Skelton
  138. Max Baucus
  139. Ben Nelson
  140. Shelley Berkley
  141. Harry Reid
  142. Robert E. Andrews
  143. Jon S. Corzine
  144. Rush Holt
  145. Frank R. Lautenberg
  146. Robert Menendez
  147. Frank Pallone, Jr
  148. Bill Pascrell Jr.
  149. Donald M. Payne
  150. Steven R. Rothman
  151. Jeff Bingaman
  152. Tom Udall
  153. Gary Ackerman
  154. Timothy H. Bishop
  155. Hillary Rodham Clinton
  156. Joseph Crowley
  157. Eliot L. Engel
  158. Maurice Hinchey
  159. Steve Israel
  160. Nita M. Lowey
  161. Carolyn B. Maloney
  162. Carolyn McCarthy
  163. Michael R. McNulty
  164. Gregory W. Meeks
  165. Jerrold Nadler
  166. Major R. Owens
  167. Charles B. Rangel
  168. Charles E. Schumer
  169. Jose E. Serrano
  170. Louise M. Slaughter
  171. Edolphus Towns
  172. Nydia M. Velazquez
  173. Anthony D. Weiner
  174. G. K. Butterfield
  175. John Edwards
  176. Bob Etheridge
  177. Mike McIntyre
  178. Brad Miller
  179. David Price
  180. Melvin L. Watt
  181. Kent Conrad
  182. Byron L. Dorgan
  183. Earl Pomeroy
  184. Sherrod Brown
  185. Stephanie Tubbs Jones
  186. Marcy Kaptur
  187. Dennis J. Kucinich
  188. Tim Ryan
  189. Ted Strickland
  190. Brad R. Carson
  191. Earl Blumenauer
  192. Peter DeFazio
  193. Darlene Hooley
  194. David Wu
  195. Ron Wyden
  196. Robert A. Brady
  197. Mike Doyle
  198. Chaka Fattah
  199. Joseph M. Hoeffel
  200. Tim Holden
  201. Paul E. Kanjorski
  202. John P. Murtha
  203. Anibal Acevedo-Vila
  204. Patrick J. Kennedy
  205. Jim Langevin
  206. Jack Reed
  207. James E. Clyburn
  208. Fritz Hollings
  209. John M. Spratt Jr.
  210. Tom Daschle
  211. Stephanie Herseth
  212. Tim Johnson
  213. Jim Cooper
  214. Lincoln Davis
  215. Harold E. Ford Jr
  216. Bart Gordon
  217. John Tanner
  218. Chris Bell
  219. Lloyd Doggett
  220. Chet Edwards
  221. Martin Frost
  222. Charlie A. Gonzalez
  223. Gene Green
  224. Ruben Hinojosa
  225. Sheila Jackson Lee
  226. Eddie Bernice Johnson
  227. Nick Lampson
  228. Solomon P. Ortiz
  229. Silvestre Reyes
  230. Ciro D. Rodriguez
  231. Max Sandlin
  232. Charles W. Stenholm
  233. Jim Turner
  234. Jim Matheson
  235. Patrick Leahy
  236. Donna Christian-Green
  237. Rick Boucher
  238. Jim Moran
  239. Robert C. Scott
  240. Brian Baird
  241. Maria Cantwell
  242. Norm Dicks
  243. Jay Inslee
  244. Rick Larsen
  245. Jim McDermott
  246. Patty Murray
  247. Adam Smith
  248. Robert C. Byrd
  249. Alan B. Mollohan
  250. Nick Rahall
  251. Jay Rockefeller
  252. Tammy Baldwin
  253. Russell D. Feingold
  254. Ron Kind
  255. Jerry Kleczka
  256. Herb Kohl
  257. David R. Obey
  258. Blanche Lincoln
  259. Mark Pryor
  260. Dianne Feinstein
  261. Barbara Boxer
  262. Ken Salazar
  263. Christopher Dodd
  264. Joseph Lieberman
  265. Joe Biden
  266. Thomas Carper
  267. Bill Nelson
  268. Daniel Inouye
  269. Daniel Akaka
  270. Richard Durbin
  271. Barack Obama
  272. Evan Bayh
  273. Tom Harkin
  274. Mary Landrieu
  275. Paul Sarbanes
  276. Barbara Mikulski
  277. Edward Kennedy
  278. John Kerry
  279. Carl Levin
  280. Debbie Stabenow
  281. Mark Dayton
  282. Max Baucus
  283. Ben Nelson
  284. Harry Reid
  285. Frank Lautenberg
  286. Robert Menendez
  287. Jeff Bingaman
  288. Charles Schumer
  289. Hillary Clinton
  290. Kent Conrad
  291. Byron Dorgan
  292. Ron Wyden
  293. Jack Reed
  294. Tim Johnson
  295. Patrick Leahy
  296. Patty Murray
  297. Maria Cantwell
  298. Robert Byrd
  299. Jay Rockefeller
  300. Herbert Kohl
  301. Russ Feingold

And this is just on the national level.

Left wing coworker: Oh give me a break.