Well, that was interesting! Last time I wrote here I was just becoming a Mac programmer. Now I'm moving back towards GNOME and GNU. The sad thing is we've probably already gone past peak interesting desktop, and depending on your approach to life it was either Alto or NeXTSTEP. Not much new will be happening there now, even though it could and could be useful and exciting.
Slashdot videos: Now with more Slashdot!
Yes I admit it I am tired of the idiot ACs that post on Slashdot. Really just make people log in and even allow them to hide there Nick when posting but at least give them the karma hit when they post something foul and and or racist. It is not like Slashdot karma is important in the real world so the chilling effect should be very low.
Can I post this and then delete it? Maybe. Does it exist 10 minutes from now? When is now? Why is Hitler, Who is Spain?
Earlier this month, I was at CES, looking at cool gadgets and shooting some video for Slashdot, and last week I did the same in Detroit at the North American International Auto Show. Since shooting video is something I'm (let's be kind) inexperienced at, esp. with camera-attached doodads (mixer, shotgun mic, lav mic, tripod), this got a bit awkward at times.
I tried a few different bag configurations on the CES show floor. What I finally settled on was this: In my conventional-looking (but Li-Ion battery-equipped!) PowerBag backpack, I carried very little -- basically, my laptop, some food, and whatever paper goods I picked up in the course of the show, like brochures, etc. For almost everything else, I had my Checkpoint Flyer, sans removable laptop case.*
- Mic packs (one receiver, one transmitter), mics (lavalier, handheld, shotgun) and mixer (and a few associated cords) went into the larger outer pocket
- flexible tripod (a Gorillapod knockoff from Vivitar) stuck, with one leg out, in the flexible side pocket
- camera, well padded, in the central portion; I kept its hotshoe mic-mount attached.
- headphone case fit in the smaller of the outer pockets (one of my favorite uses for that pocket!)
- spare batteries, SD card in the flat inner pockets
- notepaper and such in the large (magazine) pocket; gum and pens in the smaller (boarding pass) one.
(This list is not exhaustive; I was carrying wallet and other small things not here accounted for.)
I realized toward the end that the extra attachment points (sorry, custom work -- thanks, Tom! You really should put them on every Flyer
In Detroit, I did not carry around the backpack, and I switched from the Checkpoint Flyer to my Super Ego. The Super Ego is bigger, but I'm not sure it was actually any better as a video bag, because it lacks the nice top-zipping outer pockets on the Checkpoint Flyer, and it's not quite as easy to swing easily through a crowd. It still worked well for my purpose, though; I could put the camera away quickly in the central storage space when I wanted to have both hands free, and I stashed most cables and mics in the two outer pockets. (No room for the shotgun mic this way, though, so that went in with the camera itself.)
Upshot: Though neither is a specialized video bag (and I felt it at moments), both the Flyer and the Super Ego did a great job as impromptu production assistants
* Why not carry the laptop there? Because I was carrying a laptop too big for the inner case I have. That's why. Why carry the laptop at all? Because I needed it as a middleman to transfer files from my camera to the guy who put them into a watchable form, from the show's press room.
All the usual hype is flowing about Vista 8. This mostly means that Vista 7 was a failure, but I decided to log it for laughs. Vista 7 did not sell as well as Vista did and Vista 8 won't sell any better than Vista 7. Vista failure has really killed Microsoft. The upgrade inevitability myth is six feet underground, traditional desktops are becoming a thing of the past and everyone looks to Google, Apple even IBM for cool and reliable computing. Despite that, Microsoft brings out the same old lines and strategies.
- 05/29 - Steve Ballmer tries to freeze the market by announcing an early release date, only to have Micrsoft quietly rebuff him. In reality, OEM outrage at Microsoft's limitations and power grab pushes Vista 8 release out of 2012.
- 06/02 - A fawning article from business insider. We get all the usual BS, "riskiest OS ever," "biggest step forward in more than 20 years, when it pushed Windows as the replacement for DOS", "underneath that layer is the old Windows that users are accustomed to. It will run old Windows apps", Linux and Apple are too jarring, expensive and suck, and so on and so forth.
As the Linux Foundation wins new friends and influences people, sharp reporters at PCWorld notice that Windows sales as a fraction of PCs shipped are in a steep and accelerating decline. Woody Leonhard of Infoworld does the math on Microsoft's numbers,
Between launch and June 30, 2010 -- a period of 251 days -- Microsoft sold 0.78 Windows 7 licenses for each PC sold. Between July 1, 2010, and April 22, 2011 -- a period of 275 days -- Microsoft sold 0.67 Windows 7 licenses for each PC sold: 175 million Windows 7 licenses, and 260 million new PCs. To turn the numbers the other way around, in the past nine months, more than one-third of all new PCs sold didn't have Windows 7.
... it's entirely possible that 40 percent of all new PCs in the past nine months shipped without Windows 7. Maybe more.
So, the Windows 7 PC sales "refresh" is over. Business adoption rates are still under 10%. Kanthryn Noyles of Computer World interprets that as a Win for gnu/linux
I think it's fair to assume that a good number of them are running Linux instead. Preloaded options, after all, are increasingly common, and the reasons to switch are more compelling with each passing Patch Tuesday.
Android/Linux, is another reason for the decline. Why sit around mom's basement with a big, noisy PC when you can drop the net in your pocket? PCs are less important and Windows is downright archaic.
Microsoft's bottom line sags with its cash cow. There was good evidence in 2010 and January of this year that Windows 7 was not driving sales. Roughly Drafted now looks at Microsoft's quarterly report and shows that Windows profits are down since 2008 back when they were trying to sell Vista which many people dumped in less than six months.
Governor Martin O'Malley
100 State Circle
Now that both Arizona and Utah have named official state firearms (Colt Single Action, and John Browning's immortal 1911, respectively), I think it's time that the great state of Maryland upstage these upstart also-ran states -- more like territories, really -- by officializing an official firearm as well. After all, Maryland has what is truly the most martial of all state songs. Citizens of what other state are enjoined to "remember Howards warlike thrust," or "avenge the patriotic gore that flecked the streets of Baltimore"?
Further, as a born Marylander, I have a gun in mind that reflects well the government of Maryland's view of citizens' right to carry arms for their own self defense and in the defense of liberty. Please consider any of the options from this entire line of products.
Of course, in light of modern circumstances in the Old Line State, the actual gun chosen should be locked up and behind glass, rather than out endangering the children.
Florian Mueller has thrust himself into the news a lot over the last couple of years, mostly to the detriment of Microsoft competitors, and has been particularly successful at getting Slashdot to copy his message. Roy Schestowitz, of Techrights, noticed him early because Boycott Novell was on Florian's journalist mass mailing list. So was Groklaw. Both rejected Florian's message and both are now smeared by him. Techrights has this index and PJ has this about bad behavior in 2005, this, this and more. Florian waged a Twitter/Social Media FUD campaign against both "Groklie" and Techrights in retaliation. Even Slashdot submitters have called Florian a "gadfly" and noticed he's behind anti-Google FUD. All of Florian's media manipulation has earned him special mention by actual lawyers who advise those threatened by lawsuits to ignore him and people like him.
The best way to understand what Florian has been doing is to make a list of it. Here then, is a list of what he's been telling Slashdot readers over the last year or so, with context and links to refutations as time allows.
- Google violated Java patents on purpose (See source article for source of silly opinion. ITWorld should be ashamed.)
- Speculation about why Apple replaced their chief patent lawyer. While Apple is quiet about the change, Florian pretends to be an Apple spokesman and tells us it's all about plans to block Android features.
- Sensationalized Oracle's obnoxious demands for money as something that would "far exceed any money Google has ever earned with Android", Google's no cost, free OS. Groklaw puts things in perspective and lawyers advise people to ignore Florian and people like him.
- Google Loses Bedrock Suit, All Linux May Infringe Florian put his anti-linux spin into CNet, the article source. See refutations, [2 SJVN], [3 PJ].
- A refutation that points to Florian as the source of Android copyright FUD.
- Huffington Post and Florian level copyright charges against Android, call it a "serious problem". Techrights and Groklaw answer these charges and take a careful look at Florian. 
- Google and Microsoft are working to make sofware patents livable
- Backs Google's request to invalidate Oracle VM patents.
- Florian charges Google of copyright violation against Oracle, blames ASF.
- Florian claims Android is doomed by Google's small patent portfolio, so Google had better pay fees to Apple, Microsoft and Oracle.
- Android and iPhone charged with violating media patents
- Counts patents involved in Apple's attack on Android.
- Pumps up Paul Allen's sue everyone lawsuit as trouble for Android.
Red Hat FUD
Novell's Patent Hoard.
- Notices Microsoft, Apple, Oracle and EMC are to receive Novelle's patents and predicts dire results for free software.
Reframes Microsoft's attempt to tax Motorola's use of GNU/Linux and Android.
This issue should not be separated from general anti-Google FUD but Florian does this.
- Compares LG Sony fight to Motorola Microsoft
- Talks about new patent charges by both companies as if they were equals.
- ITC investigates Xbox after Motorola complaint.
That's 16 articles in less than a year and each represents dozens of Microsoft press echos. All of it says something bad about Google, Red Hat, IBM and other free software users. When he's not busy smearing Microsoft competitors, he's telling us that they Love Microsoft and are working with them towards some noble goal.
People speculate that Muelller is fed inside information as part of Microsoft's coordinated campaigns against free software and Microsoft competitors. PJ of Groklaw thinks that Microsoft hoped that a community of deluded coders would form around Florian, but only Novell employees and Mono boosters pal around, while the larger free software community ignores him. His recent praise of the SCO Gang and smears of PJ places him among the most disgusting of Microsoft company.
- Some municipalities set arbitrary trick-or-treating times that differ from dusk-and-later-evening of the 31st of October. That's stupid.
- Some kids don't even say "trick or treat!"
Plans (as candy giver, short of a full-fledged haunted attraction):
- Sound effects
- Kids should be (mildly) scared in exchange for the dispensing of candy
- The stench of sulfur (or at least smokebombs)
- Candy should be a surprise -- in a black fabric bag or something, maybe something that feels gross (but quite hygenic, etc)
- Strobe lights
- rocking chair with no one in it
- hissing air
- bubbling cauldron
- maniacal laughter in the background
One day I'd like to find my detailed notes from many years ago on this topic
Dreamed I was in law school again, but it was more like business school (and not necessarily Temple, or Philadelphia), in that for one of my classes, there was a giant project made in cooperation with 3 or 4 others. One of them was Ryan L., a high-school classmate. In my dream, which took place near the end of a semester, but before the start of finals, I got an anxious call from Ryan, who had just put some finishing touches on our group's project. He was unsure whether it was truly ready, but the time to submit was upon us. I assured him that it was fine -- he and I had done most of the work on it, and his work in particular was very good.
Then, I went to class; I arrived later than I usually do, and so took a seat at the back. I hadn't brought my computer, but did have blank paper on which to take notes. The professor (who I think was just made up for the dream) announced that he wanted to use the class that day as a debate exercise, on the topic of so-called "smart guns." I remember thinking something like: "This is like having a detailed discussion about the number of angels on the head of a pin -- skipping over the more important question of whether there's any such thing to start with."
I immediately started writing down a few thoughts on my note paper, a list that read like:
- Doesn't exist
- Doesn't work
- Laws bind the law abiding
- hundreds of millions of plain old guns already
- 2d amdt
I noticed that in the back of the classroom (basically, right next to me), there was a giant plastic beachball, some sort of advertising tchotscke; I noticed that it was printed with the name of a local Volvo dealership, in particular. It was blue and white patterned, and 4 or 5 feet in diameter. I wanted to have a sharpie, in order to write down some arguments, and then just start tossing the ball forward.
1) Dreamed that I posted an innocuous message of good cheer / hello to the facebook profile of A. Promptly received cease and desist / stay-away order from her lawyers, which arrived in the form of two email messages. Boggled me.
2) Seemingly separate dream, with that one above as backstory:
a) Broke out, "V for Vendetta" style, from an alleged mental hospital that was actually a prison for political prisoners, in which the prisoners (me among them) were kept sedate through drugs and intimidation. An elaborate plan of distraction, revenge, and escape gained me my freedom.
b) I was lying low in or near NYC, and by chance met up w/ A, and actually had a pleasant and nice conversation over coffee, did some up-catching for a while, was pleased to hear of her life's successes. I hoped to be on her good list, or at least off the bad list, definitely a higher priority (at least for that time) than my ongoing evasion of the human authority figures.
15-minute nap (no pillow, low carpet, hot)
1) Real-life anime style terrorist attacks in my dream; the sides were neatly uniformed in their colorful future clothing, and everyone knew who were the bad guys, who were the good guys. My view of the action was cinematic, changing in perspective and composition every few seconds. Commandos in (red? or purple) overwhelmed the terrorists (in red? or purple) who were just seconds from launching their attack. A short shooting battle; after seconds, a few bodies on the ground on both sides, the others involved either disappeared on in pursuit.
2) Followed by: on a fairly fast train, daytime, going somewhere between Portland and Vancouver, BC, (or, I thought, This might be London) with a view out the large windows onto what I somehow knew to be the area west of the train, from which I could see only the buildings nearest to the train's path. Beyond that, and creeping between the buildings, was a thick grey-white fog. I was in a small compartment of my own, cognizant of how dream-like it was, but within the dream thinking how it would make a good setting for a science-fiction story, and yet mentally wishing into existence various buildings and other features, which resolved themselves as I imagined them into being. Complex buildings with swooping extensions of polished metal, others with elaborate lights. The buildings I saw I knew were mostly commercial or industrial, but they were well-kept and appeared to have been designed with aesthetics in mind.
(A multi-day omnibus)
3d July: Blake Family Reunion in New Market, TN. Guesstimate, 65 people in attendance, all descended from John Blake of South Carolina in some way, 6 or 7 generations back from me. Food, and the fun coincidence of discovering that a cousin of mine (Paul Blake) is a game designer who works for a company that licenses plush Monty Python toys. "Oh, ThinkGeek sells those," I said. Some fun boggling
Plentiful food and delicious babies, or the other way around. A very different kind of atmosphere than the reunion I'll be at in August. At the Blake reunion, not that everyone actually knows their identifier offhand, everyone at the Blake reunion who is a blood-line descendant (rather than married in) has a numeric code associated which indicates their place in the tree. There's also a formal "business meeting" aspect to the gathering (for the announcement of births and deaths), a signing book, nametags, etc. Some very interesting folks there, but in truth I don't know many of them except by sight. Talking w/ Paul, his wife Diane, and Sharon Blake (widow of Cleland Blake) was excellent -- best choice in seating I could have made, with 10-month-old Emily Blake presiding from the head of the table, too.
However, no fireworks, after there were apparently some complaints from milquetoast complaining types from the church on whose grounds the reunion annually takes place. I suspect this means my dad did not clean up the mess after he brought them in my stead last time. (And today might have been bad for it, anyhow; at least as the reunion was getting started, there was a funeral underway elsewhere on the church grounds.)This is too bad, because kids should have a chance to learn that fireworks are a fun, reasonable, appropriate thing to use, but they need to be respected -- careful of fingers, eyes, other people, flammable surroundings, and with plenty of water on hand. Thorough cleanup afterward, too, esp. at a place like the old Caledonian Presbyterian church in New Market. I don't want every kid to grow up to be complacent about idiot laws restricting their use, just like I don't want them to grow up thinking that guns contain their own malice aforethought.
Did some yard work, which felt good.
Fireworks in Knoxville -- quite a good show, esp. considering that some of the best views of the show (right by the bridge on which sits a city fire truck) are from completely uncrowded spots. Took some pictures -- I'm happy with how good some of them came out, even with my 4-year-old, AA-powered pocket cam. Show was only 19 minutes long; I wonder if it's because I just read (thanks to Ruthy Scotty pointing out the article) that fireworks shows are tending to be shorter, or because it's the case, that it seemed shorter than the two other times I've seen the city's display.
Afterward, we touched off just two fireworks: 1 was a plastic finned rocket (nice height, but the "burst" was pretty anemic), and the other was a "Color Me America" 20-shot square cake, perhaps 6 inches on a side, which was *excellent.*
5th July: Oak Ridge, TN. We visited the Museum of Energy at Oak Ridge -- well worth seeing. Replica of Little Boy, as well as (and this is the highlight) historical displays about the creation of Oak Ridge as a secret city ("Secret City" is a tag on all sorts of things around town). Many of the exhibits, as I remembered from the last time I was there more than 20 years ago, are oriented toward kids, but that's fine. I wish there was some higher-level content as well, and that some of the displays were better labeled, but I found no shortage of things to look at. Life inside the city during the war must have been very strange -- residents were pretty much there for the duration, and only after the war was its presence allowed on maps, etc. Interesting to see that even in this Federal microcosm, state segregation laws were in effect for housing and employment.
One of my favorite things: part of the museum (reached by descending an outside staircase from the 2d floor) is a reconstructed "Flat Top" (type B-1) house, one of the pre-fab housing types that filled up the city as it boomed to 75,000 residents. It's small, but seems to be a livable little unit. Says the sign outside, it's actually based on a plan from the TVA (gub'mint run amok), which had built similar ones for workers during dam construction in N. Carolina.
Later that day, we stopped for Korean food at a place I'll give a happy 2.5 stars, called Kaya.
On the way back, we stopped at the Fireworks Supermarket on exit 407 for a few sundries, incl. another "Color Me America," because that (it turns out -- oh happy day) is the "free gift" that a promotional sticker gets.
Brief stop at Bush Beans's new visitor center; the "country store" pretensions aside (plastic, sterile, overpriced), the small walk-through museum attached is free and well-done; historical exhibits about the company, but also about the modern history of canning, showing how certain labor-intensive jobs have been made easier, etc.
But the real destination was the Tennessee Museum of Aviation in Sevierville. If I had more of an aviation background, I'd like this place even better, but even in my state of ignorance I find the planes and other artifacts worth several hours of fascination. Migs (17 and 21), a few helicopters (incl. a Bell 222, which I would like to have for myself, thanks), jet cockpits which you can sit in, a Mustang (no Spitfires at the moment), a replica Wright Brothers glider
Today is a work in progress. Working on Slashdot; later, will do some yard work. Talked w/ B&N rep. about the Nook I've got to play with, finally figured out where something I downloaded to the device disappeared to. I'm slow to the whole e-Book world, but am fairly impressed with the thing.
Dandridge, TN - this entry to be supplemented w/ some mile-marker notes not presently to hand.
Arrived TN Wednesday, shortly before noon, after a stop at Pappy's Smokehouse in St. Louis and another at the a Fireworks Supermarket in Missouri (and several rest stops). While the sales tax was only a hair lower than in TN, I decided to stock up for the 4th there -- sucker's game, but worth the playing.
Now in a small town east of Knoxville, from which I will later in the month depart for the Mid-Atlantic. Playing a bit today w/ the review-unit Nook I've got on hand; a neat device. Displays are tough: the e-ink of the Nook (and Kindle, and similar) really is impressive, in most circumstances, for reading text (as they're meant for). But I wish they were (optionally?) transmissive as well, so they could be used for reading without much environmental light. Yes, you could use a headlamp or a clip-on lamp, but that's awkward, and I'm dreaming the impossible dream. Excited about the now-available Pixel Qi screens; they're not as power efficient as the current e-ink, but I'm sure they're working on that aggressively, and a tablet-sized, general purpose computer with a daylight screen mode that's at least *pretty* efficient would be great. I'd be very happy to find something the size and weight of the iPad, but with something more like a Pixel Qi screen and a free / open source operating system.
- Oak Ridge's Energy Museum, and a museum about Appalachian life in Clinton, TN.
- Family reunion (my descent designator is 0534312)
- Fireworks on the 4th
- A visit to Knoxville's best bookstore, McKay's
- The Warbirds Museum in Sevierville, TN
- Some BBQ
- Perhaps an Orange Julius-style drink from Nan Denton's.
What else should I do in E. Tennessee?
Big Trip 2010: No. 6
Been a fantastic couple of days in Bellevue, NE. Relaxing, inspiring to see how well and happy are my relatives here -- a model family. Saturday, ate delicious enchiladas at local restaurant La Mesa, saw the "Bodies" exhibit in Omaha (Bellevue is essentially a suburb of Omaha, despite its separate identify), and had afterward with custard with blueberry and peaches. Yesterday, country-road exploring, and a too-short visit to a small local museum with artifacts and well-made displays about this area's history and culture.
Spent a few hours last night around the chiminea getting eaten by bugs, enjoying the fire, listening to fireworks all around the neighborhood (and it's not even July yet!). Tomorrow morning, heading out for TN by way of St. Louis, where I intend to stop at Pappy's Smokehouse for some takeaway BBQ. If I pass some other place first that looks as good or better than my (rather arbitrary) choice of Pappy's, that's fine -- I can stop there, instead. Or also. But St. Louis is famous for BBQ, and I intend to avail myself of it.
Today walked w/ Barry and Kay at the Riverfront Park, near the Con-Agra campus in downtown Omaha (where there was a great mini-display about the history of local restaurants), and then the three of us walked into Iowa over a pedestrian bridge. After this, a long time (never long enough) wandering through Bass Pro, looking at boats, tents, guns, bows, clothing, etc. Later, custard with (in my bowl) blackberries and peaches. Back home, for kimchi and rice, and just a handful of fireworks w/ Tanya and Sheena. Lesson: the big red stick labeled "BOOM STICK" is actually not silent. I thought it was labeled "Giant Smoke Stick" or "The Smoke Stack" or something similar, because my brain talked myself into that belief. However, after it turned out to be an alternative packaging for some quite-loud firecrackers, I (re)-read the tattered remains. "'Boom Stick.' Huh." The girls thought this was amusing, esp. after I had assured them of its silence, in keeping with the late hour.
Intent is to reach Eastern TN late Thursday or early Friday, depending on traffic, weather, energy, and whim. Driving at night this time of year is great, just for the fireworks that are going off near the highway. Plan: from Omaha area, south via 29 to I-70, and then east to St. Louis. From St. Louis, 64 east to Lexington, KY, where I will veer south onto 75; this will take me toward Knoxville, and I'll get onto 40 East.