Friday, December 19, 2008

Moral legislation?

The LA times reports on a last minute rule by the Bush administration allowing physicians to refuse to provide care they find morally objectionable. This assumes a mainstream Christian physician. What if a physician's moral position is against heroic measures to continue life, or against increasing population, what then? These 'moral' positions run counter to the 'morals' this rule has in mind.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Javascript and MVC

Interesting article called Blurring MVC lines. It's about MVC pattern in web development. His basic concern is having to program in Javascript, which he finds obtuse. Otherwise, he praises the idea of a rich client web interface, i.e., AJAX. I can paraphrase the article as "javascript sucks, here's how you can write AJAX apps without writing javascript". Mr. Leighton also fails the full disclosure test, being a "lead developer" on Pyjamas, one of the frameworks he touts. It smacks of a bit of condenscension, that Javascript is too hard for the average developer.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Attacks on Palin

There is a piece in the CS Monitor blogs where there is some concern expressed about the attacks on Sarah Palin as being sexist. I don't see it. I don't see the attacks on Palin as being any different than the attacks on another vice-presidential candidate that became Vice President, and appeared similarly qualified. Other than that VP happened to be a white anglo male.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Borrowing to gamble

Freakonomics blog has an interesting piece on how we got into this financial crisis. The oversimplified version is that too many people gambled on credit. As in, they borrowed money to place a bet, and lost the bet. The bet? That housing prices would continue to rise. Highly leveraged? To borrow an analogy, I put up my $1000 gold watch for collateral (i.e., creditor can take it if I default on my loan), the same single gold watch, for, say, 30 loans. After the first creditor takes the watch, what then? I suppose 'hung for $1000, hung for $30,000'.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Google Apps Annoyances

I made the mistake of installing Google Calendar Sync. Now, any time I try to create a new event, it complains that I have exceeded the number of edits I'm allowed. Funny how these productivity enhancing tools eat up more time than if I never bothered with them.

The other annoyance is Google Notebook. I guess they intended it for little snippets, because I often find that the note I'm editing loses focus in the middle of my typing.

Double-edge shaving update

In my move up to Washington, my Gillette Super Speed seems to have lost it's way. I didn't want to get another used rig, so I picked up a Merkur Classic. That has been working out splendidly, and I have been shaving with it exclusively now for about a month, now. Unlike the Gillette, it has no moving parts. A little bit more cumbersome to replace blades, but I have the assurance of no possible mechanical breakdown.

What defines organic food?

I was reading an article today about a new "green" pesticide that could be used on certified organic crops, and it set me to wondering. I used to use tobacco tea as a pesticide, but the recent onset of problems for honey bees made me reconsider the use of any wide spectrum pesticide. When I hear about "green" pesticides and "green" herbicides, I wonder about long term sustainability. I think we need another term, now. I think it would be more responsible to eat GM produce than that produced with wide spectrum pesticides, no matter how "green".

Monday, August 04, 2008

Corporate Shill

Andrew Keen seems to be a mouthpiece for the cable industry. In this post, he goes on about how broadband providers, who are already charging us exorbitant fees compared to other developed countries, apparently have the right to double dip as well, charging the consumer for access to the internet, and in addition charging content providers for tiered service. If I'm paying for 1.5Mbs, I expect to be able to access anything on the internet the same way, I shouldn't have to rely on Google also ponying up in order to do a search.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Note taking software, head to head

I've been trying to find satisfactory software for note taking, and more importantly, note finding. The contenders so far have been various wikis (TWiki, MoinMoin, Wikidpad, JamWiki, TiddlyWiki) and several apps specifically for notes, Google Notebook, Microsoft OneNote, and Evernote.

My requirements:

  • The data needs to be internet accessible from all of my computers, which include Windows, Linux, and a smartphone.
  • Notes must be taggable.
  • Ability to format text.
  • Ability to archive
  • Free (to me)

Nice to have:

  • Tag cloud
  • Ability to paste in arbitrary content, like images
  • Scriptable
  • Ability to email a note for inclusion in the system

Starting with the various wikis, they have pretty much everything I want in the way of features. But I found two issues. One is hosting. There are several free wiki hosting services, but none of them made me feel comfortable enough to host my notes there. I could host it myself, but I'm not prepared to pay for either a hosted wiki, or a business level internet connection to my house, just for my personal notes.

OneNote is nice. I was able to organize and format my content any way I liked. I was literally able to paste in any content I wanted. Any application running locally and keeping data locally is easily archivable. However, my very first requirement rules out OneNote. (OneNote is effectively free to me, as we have a site license at work.) And I have a particular bone to pick with OneNote. A number of my coworkers have adopted it. When they want to share some of their notes in an email, if they don't carefully select just text, and instead select a whole text box, the resulting email is unreadable to recipients, even in Outlook. It's easy enough to work around this, but a point of friction any time there is a new adopter I am working with.

I have been also using Wikidpad on and off. I like the hierarchical tree view of notes. It is eminently scriptable. But it is a local solution. I can make it more ubiquitous for myself by carrying my wiki on a stick (a USB thumb drive), but that depends on either using all windows computers, or configuring all my linux hosts for this. Doable, but more trouble than it is worth to me. Also, it is minor annoyance, but I find I either want to do WYSIWYG editing, or hit an edit button, rather than switching views between edit and view mode.

That leaves me with Google Notebook and Evernote. Evernote is nice in having a offline and synchronization capability. But no formatting. Google Notebook has the formatting, but is not yet integrated with Google Gears. Both have tagging capability. In the end, I think I don't need the extra capabilities Evernote provides, and I am left with Google Notebook. I'm also already using a number of Google apps heavily, and the degree of integration between them is increasing, which also works in my favor.

(This has been edited since Jake's comment. No content removed, just added some point that I didn't think warranted an additional post.)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Where's the mouse

Clay Shirkey's got a great essay on us growing into our cognitive surplus. Of all the things I see so far that really makes me think that can happen is Google AppEngine.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Two Body Problem

That phrase sums up the physicist's description of situating both husband and wife in desirable positions when they are both academics. For example, two physicists both looking for faculty positions. If one gets a good offer, what does the other one do?

The same problem now applies to senior professionals. I had a recruiter ask me if I knew anyone that would be a match for a pretty senior IT technical position in New York. The people I know that would do well are all married, and their spouses have pretty senior positions as well.

There was a time that the main challenge of relocating for a job was the loss of social connections. Now, there is no problem with the social connections (we are perhaps a little too connected, now), the problem is maintaining two careers.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Perl Modules

After not touching it for a while, I was looking to explore PERL again for webapps. Here's my problem. If I want to use a single interesting looking PERL module, it seems like I need to install the entire contents of CPAN. If all this stuff is so necessary, why isn't it bundled with the core distribution?

Monday, March 10, 2008

Double-edged shaving update

It's now been a few weeks since acquiring my Gillette Super-speed, and after a rough start, I seem to have developed enough of a feel for it that I can shave both face and head (I do most of my head by feel) without unpleasant incident. I also did some objective testing on quality of the shave (wife and daughters). The majority ruled that the difference between the double-edged and a Gillette Fusion (five blades) was not enough to matter, especially considering how fast my beard grows. However, the most sensitive of the group insisted the Fusion shave left my face smoother.

Facebook apps

I wouldn't have acknowledged these folks as my friends if I didn't like them. But really, people. If you want to talk, talk to me, stop with the superpoking and the vampires and the rest.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Shaving the old fashioned way

Inspired by a post on ZenHabits on wet-shaving, I decided to take the plunge myself. I figured that the cost of a double-edge handle on ebay, and a pack of blades, I would have made my money back if I managed to spare myself only three Gillette Fusion blades. You know, the five-blade wonders.
My previous approach was using a gel from a tube, in the shower, and the five-blade cartridges, in the shower. This included shaving not only my face, but my head, as well.

Now, I'm using a Gillette Super-Speed. It was rough at first. I don't know whether it was a matter of habituating my skin, or developing the technique, but there were a few cuts, and it felt a bit rough. This was working with a boar-hair shaving brush and some old-fashioned shaving soap. After a few times, I find I can get a very smooth shave, without hacking myself up, and without feeling roughed up, in a reasonable amount of time. This includes shaving in and out of the shower. I even ventured to shave my head over the sink. That was a bit touchy. I shave my head by feel, and I was worried about hacking my scalp up. Came out OK, though.

I have yet to do a side by side comparison. At some point, I have to shave either side of my face with the five-blade and the double-edge, and get an independent opinion (my wife) of the quality of the shave.

The likely scenario now is that I will use up my supply of Fusion cartridges, but keep a supply of twin blades on hand for travel (I don't want to try to get double-edged blades past the TSA), and use the double-edge for every day shaving (maybe even my head, if I get more proficient). 15 cents a blade versus $3.50 is a very compelling argument.

Getting things done with...

On a recommendation from some blogger or other (this was some time ago, and forgetting them protects their reputation), I downloaded ThinkingRock. This is software tool for implementing David Allen's Getting Things Done As far as interface goes, and usability, I think it's very nice. One big problem for me: it is very slow on my system, so I'm abandoning it, now trying to use wikidpad, and so far, so good.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The Power (or lack thereof) of Networking

Just got through reading a Discover Magazine Article
on an examination of the "six degrees of separation" meme. I've had the power of networking brought home to me in recent months, in terms of what a motivated connection can do for you. I also has a cousin that refuses to use such connections, at the cost of good opportunities.
It's easier to get opportunities if you have take advantage of connections. It doesn't mean you are getting something you don't deserve, because often these opportunities will only become available if trust is established. And trust is often transitive (even if it shouldn't be).

Friday, January 11, 2008

Cryogenic suspension a little closer?

New Scientist has a blog post about a protein made from gelatin that is similar to snow flea antifreeze. They go on about using it to make the perfect ice cream, but it seems this is a step to effective cryogenic suspension for larger animals, like humans.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Getting rid of my audio cassettes

I'd accumulated a lot of audio cassettes over the years. Granted, I haven't generated a new one in a while. But I'm looking to clear up that clutter now and digitize some, and I'm too cheap to buy a dedicated device. The project has begun. I had already managed to digitize a few, basically converting a couple of old children's tapes because neither of our cars has a cassette player, now, so we need CD's, at minimum, to keep our little one entertained in the car. Using Creative's MediaSource Organizer worked for those, but now, about a year later, when I come back to it, I'm finding myself challenged and frustrated, as the various programs I have tried seem to lose full volume after some indefinite period of time which is always shorter than the tape.

The main stuff I need to capture is tapes from when I was teaching and when I would record narration of my meditations. The music, for the most part, if I want to hear it again, I'll just buy the CD's.

Lame keeps dying on my laptop, and every mp3 encoder that doesn't cost me money uses it. I've even tried using the command line in cygwin. So it looks like I'm keeping wav and ogg files, and will convert to mp3 on linux.