Walking Chicken

You’ve probably seen it before. You’re walking along in a store or down a sidewalk when, for whatever reason, someone decides to play “chicken” with you.

Note: This article assumes that it’s generally proper to walk on the same side of an aisle or walkway as you might drive your car on the street. In other words, this approach is to be used where polite convention has somehow failed.


It’s not that they don’t see you, maybe they think because they’re with two friends walking three-abreast down the sidewalk that you should yield to them. Maybe it’s some kind of guilty passive-aggressive pleasure. Maybe they’re trying to assert dominance over you.

In any case, my Dad taught me a little trick that has served me well over the years in dealing with this rather common rude behavior in a polite way – and you ALWAYS win the game of “chicken” to boot!

The key is that no person (or animal) will walk into a stationary object. So if you’re approaching a group of people on a crowded sidewalk and their body language is saying “get out of my way”, gradually slowing down and stopping requires *them* to decide how to get past you.

The vast majority of the time, simply slowing down and giving the situation more time to work out results in the person ducking in behind their friends or otherwise changing course to avoid you.  Stopping takes the fun out of a game of “chicken”.

Interestingly, this also works in cars if you’re on a narrow street with parking on each side. Stopping, leaving room for the other driver to maneuver, and letting them sort it out works wonders.

The Return of 40° North

In college I started blogging and did so for quite a few years using Windows Live Spaces as my host. Unfortunately, Windows Live Spaces was shut down and they suggested that people move to WordPress as an alternate host.

I got part of the way through this process, but didn’t like the amount of customization available, so I made resurrection of my blog a low priority.

A few things have changed since then though, mainly my thinking on the use of social networking and who owns the content provided.  I’ve generated content for quite some time on Facebook and more recently Google+.  It’s my impression, from reading their terms of service, that they believe that they own original content created by you within their services.

So this blog will be my attempt at retaining a little control in that regard – and I can use my own Google AdSense instead of letting Facebook sell ads to view my content.

I’ll still be posting links to my posts along with snippets – so my friends on the various social networks will see the same traffic as usual where shorter posts are concerned, but for the more in-depth discussions, I’ll be posting them here.

Also, from time to time I encounter a technical issue that I feel is poorly documented on the Internet. I’ll be making note of those here as well in hopes that when I (or others) encounter the same issue in the future it will at least be a starting point for getting to the solution.

That said, it’s nice to have a home for my public thoughts again and I hope people don’t mind clicking away from their favorite social networks to read my stuff.

Royalties vs. Patents?

I wonder if musicians would be so adamant about royalties for replaying a creative performances if they were charged royalties every time they used software, essentially replaying the creative performances of orchestras of programmers and engineers – ceaselessly, inescapably.

You can turn off a radio – but you can’t turn off the droning background hum of technological innovation.

In fact, in such a world, musicians would need to pay royalties to record, distribute, or even listen to their own music.
The funny thing is, that in a free market – this is EXACTLY what happens – except the royalties are paid up-front and bundled as part of the price of software and devices. The only cases where engineers get “royalties” of their creative performances is in the world of patents.

Both are protectionist – and both set their fields back immeasurably to bolster the absurd notion that one should be rewarded perpetually for a single good performance.

Renewing S/MIME Certs in Windows Vista & Windows 7

Back to S/MIME Tutorial

While attempting to update an expired secure email cert, Vista users may receive the following error from the Thawte website:

Thawte 424 object required

This issue can be resolved using the Mozilla Internet browser to request the certificate.

Export from Mozilla

In Mozilla, went to Tools > Options > Advanced section > Encryption tab > View Certificates > Your Certificates > Backup


Before the exported certificate can be imported, the MIME type must be converted to “application/x-x509-user-cert”. This can be accomplished using the ad-hoc Firefox PKCS7 mimetype converter.

Import with Internet Explorer 7 & Internet Explorer 8

Tools > Internet Options > Content > Certificates > Personal
Click Import
Click Next
When you browse for your cert file, be sure to filter for the P12 filetype.

Update Email Client Settings

When replacing an expired certificate in Windows Live Mail, users will need to select the new certificate to be used for signed and encrypted emails. Otherwise the following message will appear:

Security Warning

Your digital ID for this account has expired
Windows Live Mail has found several valid digital IDs on your computer. Would you like to choose which digital ID to use when sending digitally signed mail from this account?
[Send Without Signing] [ Cancel ]

Oddly, neither of the options take you to where the digital ID can be selected.

Tools > Accounts > [Select the account associated with the cert] > Properties > Security Tab

From here you can choose which certs you want to use.

Back to S/MIME Tutorial

Replace an SUV with a Segway

I’m finishing my Engineering degree (9 months remaining) and without time for a job, I need to save as much money as possible. One way to do this is to park my SUV in the garage and ride a Segway to school.

The commute would be about 4.6 miles one-way and would take 47 minutes. The maximum range of a Segway i2 is about 24 miles I should be able to recharge it at home each night. I’d have COTA bus service as a backup (1 hour ride 1 route transfer to go 4.6 miles) during inclement weather.

I expect to save about $1,500/yr. with this plan – which is quite a bit less than the cost of a new Segway (around $4000) plus operating costs. I don’t have the money lying around to attempt this, and I’d rather not go into debt for this project, so my hope is to raise enough money from folks that feel strong enough about the environment to get an SUV off the road. Clearly, the savings alone are insufficient to fund it.

I’ll be updating this page with photos and fundraising milestones. My initial goal was to raise enough funding to ride a Segway to school on the first day of class (September 22, 2004). I’ve heard a lot of folks concerned about “Global Warming” since Al Gore’s movie was released, but I’m not convinced that people are worried enough to do anything about it (like donate to small projects like this).

If you’ve ever wanted to have one less “gas guzzling” SUV on the road or have one more available parking space, now is your chance. Even if you can only afford to give one dollar.

All proceeds go directly toward the purchase of a Segway i2 Commuter.

Even if you can’t afford to donate a signle dollar, hopefully you will at least tell a few people about this page – maybe blog about it, digg it, or put a link in your email or newsgroup signature – it would be greatly appreciated.


We appreciate and applaud you for your efforts
Union of Concerned Scientists

A noble endeavor, and excellent way to economize

That’s a very cool idea. I hope you gather lots of donations.
SUV Backlash


Q: Why not ride a bike?
A: Quite a few students ride bikes to campus. Often their commute is only a few city blocks. City code requires that all bikes be ridden in the street, though I know this to be an unsafe practice. Bikes on campus are not permitted indoors and are frequently stolen and vandalized. I’ve been told I could store and recharge a Segway in the office of a friend.

Q: Why not ride the bus?
A: The bus is indeed a backup, but it does not run at all hours or to my residence. Taking the bus would require a time consuming trip downtown, then back up to campus. The bus also does not run on my street during the better part of the day. Finally, the most efficient route requires a transfer in one of my city’s most dangerous neighborhoods. I’ve already been the victim of a violent attempted robbery once, that’s why I’d like to take a different approach.

NOTE: The donation process should allow comments. I may post a few of them here. If you wish to make a comment, why not donate a few bucks? I will obtain permission from donors before posting comments.

People/organizations donating $100 or more are eligible to receive mention on this page along with a link.

Donations of $500 or more are eligible to receive mention on this page along with a link and logo.