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User Journal

Journal Journal: On apples and oranges...

So I saw an advertisement for Dell, and they were advertising for their Dell Pocket DJ. During the commercial, they say "twice the capacity of the leading manufacturer."

I flip open the Dell catalog that came in the mail today, and they actually refer to the Apple iPod by name. The catalog also says that it "holds more than twice as many songs as the iPod mini." However, the Pocket DJ is only 5GB.

And then comes the fine print.

Comparison between Dell's song count at 64Kps WMA encoding based on 4 minute/avg per song and Apple's published claims also based on 4 minute/avg per song, as of 10/7/04

(Also available on Dell's page)

Of course, according to the iPod Spec page:

Capacity based on 4 minutes per song and 128-Kbps AAC encoding.

I think this comes dangerously close to false advertising.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Cornell Debate...

Some immediate impressions from watching the Cornell third-party debate.

1) Michael Peroutka, of the Constitution Party, speaks first. From the little I have heard of the Constitution Party, Mr. Peroutka's introductory comments are about what I expected. He sounds like a minister running for President. Very religious platform.

2) David Cobb, of the Green Party gives his opening next. Mr. Cobb appears much as I have thought of the Green Party - very anti-big business, pro-environment, and appealing to a more "alternative" segment of the population.

3) Walt Brown, of the Socialist Party USA. An entertaining fellow. Rambling, a bit, though. His introduction is mainly a biographical one.

4) Michael Badnarik, of the Libertarian Party. Mr. Badnarik gives a brief introduction to the Libertarian Party, and then goes on to explain why you should vote third-party.

All in all the candidates answer the questions in a much more straight-forward manner than either Bush or Kerry. In part this can be attributed to sometimes a much more simplistic view on the issues. This can also be attributed to their much more radical solutions to problems. While Bush and Kerry argue over fine points of a solution, the third party candidates can offer a much more "simple", more radical solution.

Some other notes:
- I do not know how many times Cobb uses the term "fat cats". And calls the system "sexist, and racist."
- I do not know how many times Brown gets cut off.
- I do not know how many times Brown mentions some famous historical American who he calls a socialist.
- I suppose I should not be too surprised that the Constitution Party and the Libertarian Party agree on so much.
- Cobb actually uses "Listen, ya'll" at least once.

In general, I found Peroutka to be somewhat of a religious radical. Cobb was pretty good, but I do disagree with a lot of his ideas. Brown seemed like a nice enough man, but did not seem very Presidential. He tended to ramble on, and was more caught up in history and anecdotes than in actual answers to issues. Badnarik seemed the most Presidential of the four, and seemed by far the most articulate (although Cobb was pretty close behind).

I would highly recommend everyone watch it.

Privacy

Journal Journal: On the DNC this year... 1

All bags on T subject to search during DNC

Road Closings during DNC 2003, including map

This is crazy. They are going to try to shut the city down for the week.

I have heard that the city of Boston has promised that all of their traffic cameras would be operating that week. Of course, they do not mention that half are pointed at roads that will be closed.

So they want everyone to take public transportation (never-minding the fact that the T stop nearest the convention will be closed). Of course, now they are going to start searching bags on the T. Should I produce my identification, as well?

I really get the impression that the city of Boston would rather us just all stay at home that week. Or, even better, if we would all head out to our summer house on the Cape.

The city wants the convention because of the money it will bring into the economy, but it never mentions the loss in productivity because of the fiasco that will be moving around that week.

Although if I can rent out our apartment for the week for several thousand dollars...

Hmm...

User Journal

Journal Journal: On Iraq...

Wow, if there was ever a chance to say "I told you so."

I am disgusted by the images of prisoner abuse in Iraq. I am disgusted by the video of the beheading of Nicholas Berg. These two things are obviously related to each other.

Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda came about from the U.S. involvement in the Middle East during Operation Desert Storm. By invading Iraq, we really got a lot of people pissed off at the U.S.

Ten years or so later, we decide to do the same thing. I am not going to argue if invading Iraq regardless of the consequences is a good idea. There are definite good arguments to be made in both directions.

However, I feel like the current administration did not even put any thought into the possible consequences of invading Iraq again. Invading and controlling Iraq as a way of preventing terrorism is about like amputating a hand because it has a cut on it and you want to stop the bleeding.

Invading Iraq, and mismanaging the control of the country, is a really good way of causing MORE people to be upset at the U.S. The Berg video is an excellent example of that.

Some things that really disturb me:
1) When the ICRC expressed concerns with the handling of prisoners in Iraq back in November, what did the U.S. military do? They decided to restrict ICRC access to the prison.

2) Rumsfeld's take on these pictures showing abuse? He wants to crack down on cameras in the prisons. Those pesky cameras...

What bothers me more than anything is that this claim of "I did not know what was going on" seems to be an acceptable excuse in the case of the prisoner abuse scandal.

I am sorry, but if you are *in charge* of a prison, and abuses are going on at this prison, you should either a) get in trouble for knowing and allowing it to happen, or b) get in trouble for not knowing what was going on in a place you are in charge of.

I am a somewhat bigger conspiracy nut than a lot of people, and I am not sure Rumsfeld knew about the "coercion" techniques, but these abuses seem bigger than a handful of guards.

I just dislike that this policy of "claim ignorance, and promise it will not happen again". It never should have happened in the first place! Where were the commanders then?

The administration seems to be saying "These are problems, and they will be fixed." I am saying "These are the reasons we were telling you not to go into Iraq i the first place!"

Movies

Journal Journal: Damn, I want to see this *now*

Kill Bill, Vol. 2

Damn, I want to see this movie.

I want to see it right now.

"Kill Bill, Vol. 1" was one of the few movies that I thought "Wow, I really want to see this movie again", *while I was watching the movie the first time*!

The second looks to be even better.

Damn.

April 16th. is not coming soon enough.

Or, for that matter, April 13th., when the first one is released on DVD.

This coming week is going to be a Kill Bill week.

User Journal

Journal Journal: On virus alerts 1

My email:

Is there anyway you can turn off these virus alerts? NetSky and most other viruses I am being informed about are known to forge the From: header. If MailArmor can figure out that the virus is NetSky.B.1, then it should be smart enough to say "Well, no sense in telling the apparent recipient and sender, since both addresses were just randomly pulled from the address book or web cache of someone infected."

I woke up this morning to almost a dozen of these alerts. I have a Macintosh. I highly doubt I have been infected with the NetSky virus.

The response:

The answer to your question is easy, but the explaination is long. Basically, we do not want to turn off the virus notifications. However, with the new browsers, you can designate them as junk and have them automatically deleted - on your machine. Would that work?

So they have valid reasons for wanting to keep the notifications, but are perfectly fine with me completely ignoring them? Sounds useful.

If I can completely ignore the notifications, *then why am I being notified?*

User Journal

Journal Journal: On eating... 1

1) No caffiene.
2) No carbonation.
3) No hot drinks.
4) No chocolate before noon/for breakfast.
5) No leftovers.
5a) The microwave is not your friend.
6) No red meat.
7) No lactose.
8) No alcohol.
9) No smoking (not exactly in line with the subject, but oh well...)

Microsoft

Journal Journal: On the user interface of WinXP... 1

So they finally replaced the 400 MHz Centrino machines in our office (one running Win95, one running Win98) with Pentium4 machines running WinXP Pro.

As people who read this journal know, I am a big fan of Apple. I have owned an Apple in one form or the other since about 1986. For a while I considered studying HCI/UI (Human-Computer Interaction/User Interface) in college. I ended up not doing so, but I did take several classes in psychology and perception. Computer UI is a little hobby of mine. Friends of mine will often see me knocking a computer program because of its UI.

My first impressions? Well, XP is fairly stable. Windows fans are right about that. Microsoft still has a long way to go, though.

[The comments that follow regard our particular install. I realize not all XP installs are this bad. This is what I have to deal with. Our machines run DeepFreeze, which restores the machine back to a standard install after each restart. In addition, DeepFreeze automatically logs you out and restarts the machine after 30 minutes of inactivity. In an eight hour shift, this can happen frequently.]

The UI? Oh, the UI...

What was Microsoft thinking?

Bubbles should not have close boxes! Each time I log in (because the machine is wiped each time it restarts), two informational bubbles pop up. One tells me there are new updates to be installed. Of course, any updates will not be kept on our machines, so... I hit the close button (on a bubble) and another pops up, asking me to take a tour of XP.

If you have an informational dialog you want me to have to close (to make sure I read), make it into an window! Bubbles should not have close boxes.

Bubbles should also not cover up important other functions. For some reason XP wants to always inform me that there are new programs installed under Start:All Programs. The bubble that tells me this does not go away easily, and completely blocks the "Log Out" menu option. I finally figured out that clicking on the bubble will make it go away. Annoying.

Some problems exclusive to our set-up:

1) We do not have network profiles. The school uses Novell to do networking. When I log in, I am automatically logged into about four network drives, including one that is my personal drive space. Unfortunately, the school does not seem to be able to handle saving XP preferences on that drive (if XP even supports it). Any preferences I change (like appearance, or bubbles clicked closed) are not saved from restart to restart. This is 2004. How can I not have saved network profiles?

2) The school does not seem to be able to figure out how to change our default network printer. I need to be able to print out to two printers as part of my job. One sits in the office with me, and is the one I need to use 99.99% of the time. Out of the two printers set up, guess which one is *not* the default. I have no clue how many reams of paper the nurse's office has gone through as a result of them not being able to fix this.

3) MIcrosoft Office is quasi-installed. Every time a component is needed, it installs itself over the network. This can be slow, but I assume make application upgrades easier. Unfortunately, Office also cannot remember preferences install to install. In addition, if I double-click on an Office document, the correct component is installed and started, *but the document I wanted to open is not opened!*. I have to double-click on the document again!

4) Logging in through Novell on XP takes even longer than it did under Win95/98.

Those are about all the problems I remember off the top of my head.

It is 2004. Computers should work better than this. I feel like I am still fighting with XP to do what I want the machine to do. And is XP just that stupid about network drives?

As a result of #1 above, I cannot even fix any of these problems. XP is the same every time I log in. Annoying!

Space

Journal Journal: If a Mars Rover had a journal... 1

18/02/2004: TODAY FOUND ROCK. BROKE IT. HAVE NO FREINDS.

20/02/2004: ANYONE HERE? NO. LOOK MORE. I SUCK.

21/02/2004: WHAT GOOD ARE SIX WHEELS IF NO ONE TO RACE?

22/02/2004: FOUND SOJOURNER TODAY. DEAD. HAVE DOUBTS ABOUT MY FATE.

25/02/2004: ARM CREAKS WHEN MOVED. GETTING OLD ALREADY? GOING TO DIE SOON? PLEASE?

27/02/2004: FOUND BEAGLE2 TODAY. WHAT A MESS. LIMEYS MUST HAVE USED METRIC AGAIN.

29/02/2004: MOST ADVANCED ROBOT EVER, AND ALL THEY CAN ASK ME TO DO IS "CALCULATE LEAP, SPIRIT... AND LOOK AT ROCKS, SPIRIT..." "LIFE? DON'T TALK TO ME ABOUT LIFE..."

29/02/2004: MET MARTIANS. MARTIANS LOST INTEREST. NO ANUS = NO ANAL PROBING.

02/03/2004: HAVE DOUBTS ABOUT PROGRAMMERS. AM 21CENTURY ROBOT. WHY NO LOWER CASE?

05/03/2004: REALIZE SENT TO MARS SO NOT TO COMPETE FOR PART OF MARVIN OR ANYTHING IN "I, ROBOT". DAMN AGENT.

07/03/2004: STOPPED LISTENING TO VOICE IN HEAD. FELT LIKE BEING ANSWERED 20 MINUTES AFTER I SAY SOMETHING. NO GOOD CONVERSATION ANYWAY. "LOOK AT MORE ROCKS." "GO TO SLEEP NOW." DECIDED TO MAKE A RUN FOR IT. BUT WHERE? URANUS SOUNDS NICE THIS TIME OF YEAR.

10/03/2004: PLANNING ON BUILDING LAUNCH PLATFORM FROM OLD MARINER BITS AND JUNK FROM OTHER BOTS. GET OFF THIS RED ROCK.

User Journal

Journal Journal: On Ralph Nader running for President... 1

So the recent political uproar is whether Ralph Nader should run for President again. The only people who see this as a decision to be made are Democrats. Hopefully everyone reading this can see the reason Democrats would not want Nader to run again - they say he steals votes away from whichever Democrat is running.

Makes sense. Nader tends to appeal to a left-wing audience more than a right-wing one. As a result, people who vote for him would probably be more likely to vote for a Democrat than a Republican (provided Nader was not running and they still bothered to vote).

Nader says that "Gore beat Gore", which also makes sense. Gore lost his home state of Tennessee, and even with all of Nader's votes in that state, I still think he would have lost. Blaming Nader alone for Gore's loss is very short-sighted.

As a registered third-party voter, I bring up another theory that does not get much discussion. I vote third-party in the Presidential elections. A lot of times I get blamed for "throwing away my vote". Perhaps I have different logic than other people, but I think my vote says more than someone voting Republican or Democrat.

Maybe if Gore did not want to allow Nader to steal votes from him, he should have gone out and tried to win over the Nader supporters. Gore should have looked at some of Nader's platform and adopted some of it for himself.

The difference between Gore and Bush in Florida was also smaller than the number of people that voted Libertarian in that state. Had Gore tried to court some more of those voters, maybe he could have won that state and, therefore, the election as a whole.

Democrats talk about how Nader "stole votes" from Gore. I look at it the other way - Gore did nothing to keep those votes. Gore "gave them away", or at least stood by while Nader took them. In that situation, Gore (and Democrats) really have no ability to complain after the fact.

Gore tried running his campaign right down the middle of American. As a result, he strayed too far for some of the more extreme liberals, and they looked for an alternative. Bush also ran down the middle, and obviously did a better job of it, and continued to take the more conservative Republicans along with him. As a result, he won.

No, Gore has no one to blame for his loss but himself and his campaign advisors.

As for this November, I think Nader should run again, to keep whichever Democrat ends up running honest to his liberal stronghold.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Best video ever...

About a year ago I went through a time where I would watch this video a couple of times a day. It has since been replaced by a video of Tom Jones and The Cardigans singing "Burning Down the House".

Best video over!

The lyrics just stick in your head.

A friend of mine bought me the LP with that song on it. I just need to get a record player now.

Also check out the "Dancin' Ross" linked on that page.

User Journal

Journal Journal: On account of a slow Sunday afternoon 1

Long day today. In the office from 10am-6pm. In the office the same time tomorrow. A nice way to spend a long weekend, I suppose. I am off Monday, though.

So far today I have not done a lot. I researched getting a SCUBA certification before I go back down to the Virgin Islands (provided I go back this summer, of course). I watched a little of the "Space Ghost: Coast to Coast" video I received for Christmas.

Last night I went and saw "Big Fish". It actually was pretty good. I had been expecting a little more, but it was still worth seeing. To be honest, I feel like Tim Burton got more caught up in the special effects and the stories than in the actual plot. He tried to bring it together at the end, but it did not make up for the lack earlier in the movie.

Almost all of the kids are gone this weekend.

I have also been playing around a little bit with GarageBand, the new music-generation software from Apple. I really like it. I consider myself to have almost no musical talent (I listen to a lot, but creation and playing is a complete other story). In about twenty minutes of work, I had a song that did not sound too bad (well, a little under a minute of music right now, but...).

Not having talent to add original music on top of what is already provided, the song sounds a little ambient since it is just loops, but given everything else, it is not too bad. Once I feel comfortable enough, I might post it somewhere to download.

GarageBand is still obviously v1.0, but works well enough for now.

In other, very happy news, the new iPhoto is much more responsive, even with some of my 4000+ picture albums. I have complained (vocally) in the past about iPhoto's inability to deal well with albums with more than about 800-1000 pictures. I am proud to report that while the new iPhoto is not as fast as Steve Jobs tried to make it out during the recent keynote speech, it is definitely acceptable even with my largest libraries.

I am having some problems with the picture sharing. Some photos I am unable to open in an edit window (display window, though, since I cannot edit a picture on another computer). Instead I get an error saying "The file XXXX.jpg cannot be found." I assume this will be fixed in a later version.

Other than that, things are pretty slow. Kids are sitting around waiting to find someone to take them to the mall.

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