Perl script to check Sprint PCS minute usage

After a few incidents of going over my Sprint PCS minute usage without any warning, I hacked together a Perl script that will log in to the website and check my minute usage for me. It e-mails me a warning if I go over a certain usage percentage. I thought I'd post it in case anyone else might find it useful: (link removed March 4, 2017, no longer works). I believe Sprint charges something like $3/month for a similar service. Note that you need a few extra modules installed, and you need the components for WWW::Mechanize that allow SSL connections. Consult your local Perl expert for help with this if you need it; I can't provide support here. It may well require tweaking depending on how standard your calling plan is, or other variations that I don't know about. And of course it's subject to breakage when Sprint updates the HTML code on their site.

Any comments or refinements are welcome. Enjoy!

Comair flight cancellations caused by a 16-bit counter

Over the holiday weekend, Comair had to cancel over 1,000 flights because of software problems. It turns out that, as I read in the F-Secure Weblog, the flight planning software they were using was using a 16-bit counter to keep track of flight staff after 32768 changes it would simply stop working. Details are available from an article in Cincinnati Post. This is the kind of madness I was expecting for Y2K, not four years later when we're supposed to have learned that lesson by now.

Rumsfeld on 9/11 flight 93 crash

The Drudge Report had a subtle series of links Monday about the apparently "misspoken" remark that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld made in Iraq this weekend, where he mentioned that the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania on 9/11 was shot down. Of course, the Pentagon has now quickly corrected that, and I'm sure if the administration has anything to do with it, that'll be the last we hear of it in mainstream media.

I have no interest in perpetuating conspiracy theories (which is obviously why I read the Drudge, but it sure does seem like Mr. Rumsfeld is finding quite creative ways to draw negative attention to himself these days.

Peak Oil

Hey, did you know that the worldwide demand for oil will outpace production in the next 20-40 years? Price goes way up, oil-dependent economies crumble, wars over energy resources explode. The fix? All we need is "a few dozen technological breakthroughs; unprecedented political will and bipartisan cooperation; tremendous international collaboration; massive amounts of investment capital; fundamental reforms to the structure of the international banking system; no interference from the oil-and-gas industries; and about 25-50 years of general peace and prosperity to retrofit the world's $45 trillion dollar per year economy, including its transportation and telecommunications networks, manufacturing base, and agricultural systems to run on these new sources of energy."

Or maybe we'd be fixing the wrong problem.

What will you be doing in 20 years?