Strong opinions, weakly held

Month: August 2007 (page 2 of 3)

Upgrade fever

In the course of tinkering around with the blog, I’ve decided to give FeedBurner another try. Soon http://rc3.org/atom.xml will be redirected to http://feeds.rc3.org/rc3dotorg. I’m just waiting for the DNS CNAME to propagate.

Update: Looks like my three day TTL on domain names means that the new URL won’t be live until Wednesday.

Links for August 26

Getting back into the swing of things.

How do you define “wealthy?” Here’s a definition that works for me.

Google News is moving beyond being a news aggregator and allowing subjects of news stories to post feedback. Rogers Cadenhead finds Utah coal mine owner Robert Murray taking advantage of the service.

Scott Rosenberg on how music recordings have gotten louder and less interesting.

It’s official, telcos assisted the NSA in mass wiretapping of Americans.

Talking Points Memo posted a list of lobbyists employed by various political factions in Iraq.

The advance manual for President Bush’s political events is the ultimate concert rider.

Karl Martino notes a study indicating that Americans are no more aware of current events than they were in 1989, in spite of the Web, multiple 24 hour news channels, and the Daily Show. On a personal note, I’m more aware of current events than I was in 1989, although perhaps not 1999.

Google has joined the Open Invention Network. This is very good news for free software.

Freeman Dyson published a contrarian opinion on climate change. Alun Anderson rebutted his argument. On the “do something about it” front, 3qd posted this overview of biofuels.

Patrick Mueller reviews JSR 311, a specification for REST support in Java.

Two visions for America’s future foreign policy, one from John Edwards, and one from Rudy Giuliani. In my opinion, the only Presidential candidate scarier than Rudy Giuliani is Tom Tancredo.

I love to read about smart people in other professions. Here’s an article about two of the smartest football coaches to ever stand on a sideline, Bill Walsh and Bill Belichick, and Walsh’s decision to share pretty much everything he’d learned about running a football team in the book Finding the Winning Edge.

Obligatory iPhone link: the iPhone Hacking Kit.

Movable Type 4

I just upgraded to Movable Type 4. The process was dirt simple and it appears to have worked. Now it’s time to dig in and see what some of the new features are.

Update: Turns out I created a few issues by mucking around. Looks like I have some work ahead of me …

The Wire

Now that I’m all caught up on the DVDs, I thought I’d just mention that if you haven’t watched The Wire, HBO’s drama about the effects of the drug trade on the city of Baltimore, you must go out and rent it or buy it immediately. I skipped it when it premiered on HBO way back in 2002, and I’m kind of glad I did, because it afforded me the opportunity to watch the first three seasons over a couple of months.

Is The Wire better than The Sopranos or Deadwood? Maybe. Is it better than everything else I’ve ever seen on television? Definitely.

You can expect that when season five of The Wire begins, there will be extensive blogging on that topic in this space. In the meantime, I’m just hoping that HBO airs season four again or releases it on DVD.

One interesting thing about The Wire is that renewal was always iffy. Season one works as a self-contained story, season two is a story that’s mostly independent of season one, and season three wraps up most of the threads from season one and the final episode of season three could have easily worked as a series finale.

If you do watch the DVDs, be sure to check out the extras as well. Any episode with commentary from series creator David Simon is not to be missed.

The last point I’d make about the show is that it is truly a love letter to the city of Baltimore as it really exists in the eyes of the writers. You can’t watch the show and not fall in love with Baltimore, ugly as it is. It makes me wish someone would write a really good show about Houston, my favorite deeply flawed city.

Links for August 16

I’m still too busy on my JavaScript project to really write all that much, but I wanted to at least let you know that I’m still alive (albeit buried under an avalanche of unread items in my feed reader).

Stephen O’Grady is attempting to simplify his life. I think programmers refer to this as YAGNI.

I’m looking into the Mercurial version control system, wondering if it’s a decent lightweight alternative to Subversion for smaller projects.

If “kinda funny/kinda creepy” is up your alley, don’t miss this Craigslist personal from LA.

I have a lot of thoughts on Karl Rove, but for now you’ll have to do with a link to this article on The Rove Presidency by Joshua Green.

I’m not using jQuery on my JavaScript project, but that doesn’t mean it’s not interesting.

A list of the world’s most overhyped vacation spots.

Here’s a useful explanation of the difference between Cajun and Creole cuisine.

Here’s a video of Rodney Mullen, an old school skateboarder who made a cameo in the final episode of John from Cincinnati. Anyone have any idea what that show was about?

Finally, a guide to creating your own plausible conspiracy theories.

Karl Rove’s resignation

The one thing to read on the subject of Karl Rove’s resignation is Dan Froomkin’s White House Watch column today.

Anil Dash the work/home divide

Anil muses on the idea that the iPhone is unsuitable for the enterprise, and more generally on the idea that somehow “work” products and “home” products are mutually incompatible. Anil has been on fire lately. Here’s a snippet:

Here’s the truth: You can meet all the (reasonable) requirements of an Enterprise while still creating a product that delights and inspires the people who make up that organization.

In fact, you have to do so.

The only tools that succeed in an enterprise situation are those which are so compelling that people choose to use them in their free time. Look at email, instant messaging, hell — look at the telephone. These staples of business communication are so popular because they meet the “I want this as part of my life” threshold. They can even be so good as to inspire addiction, complete with withdrawal in their absence.

SCO loses

From the “About damn time” file comes the news that SCO has had its claims on owning the copyright for various pieces of Unix shot down in federal court.

In the 102-page ruling, the judge, Dale A. Kimball, also said Novell could force SCO to abandon its claims against I.B.M., which SCO had sued. Judge Kimball’s decision in favor of Novell could almost entirely undermine SCO’s 2003 lawsuit against I.B.M.

The ruling could remove the cloud over open-source software like Linux, an operating system loosely modeled on the proprietary Unix. The unresolved ownership has been seen as a limiting factor in the willingness of computing managers for businesses large and small to adopt open-source software, which can be adapted freely by software developers and can be legally shared or modified by end users.

Now hopefully SCO can file for bankruptcy and disappear forever.

Hands-on review of the OLPC laptop

Freedom To Tinker publishes a review of the OLPC laptop from a 12 year old. Sounds like most of its problems relate to software rather than hardware. (It’s slow, the software has memory leaks, and power management is apparently non-existent.) Here’s what the reviewer says:

My expectations for this computer were, I must admit, not very high. But it completely took me by surprise. It was cleverly designed, imaginative, straightforward, easy to understand (I was given no instructions on how to use it. It was just, “Here. Figure it out yourself.”), useful and simple, entertaining, dependable, really a “stick to the basics” kind of computer.

Street Charity

Stephen Dubner asked a few luminaries to answer this question:

You are walking down the street in New York City with $10 of disposable income in your pocket. You come to a corner with a hot dog vendor on one side and a beggar on the other. The beggar looks like he’s been drinking; the hot dog vendor looks like an upstanding citizen. How, if at all, do you distribute the $10 in your pocket, and why?

Here are their answers. I’m not a luminary but I’ll exercise my right to answer.

The first question is whether I’m hungry. If I am, I probably buy myself a hot dog, and then reluctantly allow the beggar to relieve me of the remainder. If I’m not hungry, I probably wind up giving ten bucks to the beggar, on the grounds that he needs the money more than I do. Refusing to give money to a beggar when asked directly makes me feel guilty.

If my wife is with me, forking over the full $10 is guaranteed. If I feel like the beggar is trying to run a scam on me, he probably still gets the $10 (or the change from the hot dog) but I feel irritated about it afterward.

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