Sunday, September 30, 2007

iPhone Central: Bricking my iPhone (updated)

I don't own an iPhone, but it sure is fun watching those who do learn their lesson about the nature of proprietary software (and the hardware that goes with it)!

The Secrets of Intangible Wealth -

"What the World Bank economists have brilliantly done is quantify the intangible value of education and social institutions. According to their regression analyses, for example, the rule of law explains 57% of countries' intangible capital. Education accounts for 36%."

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Is Florida Over? -

Florida is now scrambling to reduce property taxes and the cost of homeowner's insurance. Over the summer, Gov. Charlie Crist signed a bill to roll back property taxes to last year's level. Next year, Floridians could vote on a constitutional amendment that would lower property taxes by increasing the tax exemption given to permanent residents. New legislation also requires the state-run Citizens Property Insurance Corp. to freeze rates in 2007. The idea is to keep other insurers from raising their prices.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Justice Clarence Thomas Lashes Out in New Memoir -

Thomas said Hill was the tool of liberal activist groups "obsessed" with abortion and outraged because he didn't fit their idea of what an African-American should believe.

"The mob I now faced carried no ropes or guns," Thomas wrote of his confirmation hearings. "Its weapons were smooth-tongued lies spoken into microphones and printed on the front pages of America's newspapers . . . But it was a mob all the same, and its purpose -- to keep the black man in his place -- was unchanged."

Google on defensive over Microsoft claims

Microsoft's Brad Smith is worried about users privacy.

Uh-huh, yeah, sure he is.

Google Launches 'The Google' For Older Adults | The Onion

Finally my phone will stop ringing.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Amazon MP3 Music Downloads

Amazon MP3 Frequently Asked Questions
Which computer operating systems are compatible with Amazon MP3?

You can buy songs from any computer with a web browser capable of downloading files from the Internet. The MP3 files you purchase will download directly to your computer and are compatible with any system that can read the MP3 music format. The Amazon MP3 Downloader is a tiny application that is required for purchasing and downloading an entire album and is currently available for Mac and Windows operating systems. If you use Linux, you can currently buy individual songs. A Linux version of the Amazon MP3 Downloader is under development, and when released will allow entire album purchases. For more information, please visit the Amazon MP3 Downloader Help page.

Good news everyone.

** UPDATE **

I downloaded two songs using Linux. Works great!

You need a special utility to download an entire album, but that utility is not available for Linux (yet). Promised RSN.

Someone somewhere asked hadn't Amazon figured out how to create zip files yet. Possibly they don't want to count on users being able to deal with them and are rolling whatever file packaging they are going to do into a "foolproof" interface they supply. If that's all that's going on, it shouldn't take long. One less proprietary OS dependency for me (I've bought music through iTunes, but use Linux software to serve and play them).

Get with the program Apple! Don't become just another Microsoft mini-me! (Lock-in)

Stealth Windows update prevents XP repair -

I am so sick of this POS company!

In my articles in the last two weeks on the silent installation of the Windows Update support files, I stated that the stealthy upgrade seemed harmless. Now that we know that version .381 prevents a repaired instance of XP from getting critical patches, "harmless" no longer describes the situation. The crippling of Windows Update illustrates why many computer professionals demand to review updates for software conflicts before widely installing upgrades.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Couric weighs in on Iraq, Rather

Headline should read: "Couric sings party (and company) line"

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Pajamas Media: World War IV with the Wrong Rosie

And the Bush Administration is at least in part responsible for this. I’m not saying they should have solicited the participation of Sontag or Mailer, although who knows what would have happened even with them? But the Administration had natural allies they never thought to enlist, because all of us – Democrat, Republican or Independent – are threatened by the rise of Islamofascism. They should have fought at every moment not to make this a partisan issue, because it is not. The very things the left wing of our Democratic party says they abhor – misogyny, homophobia, lack of religious freedom – are the very things Islamism represents and promotes. That should have been exploited and co-opted. We’re all in this together in the defense of the Enlightenment.

Comments on this are great EG:

The left knows how to deal with Podhoretz and his kind. Call them neocons. End of argument. They have closed their minds to reason and even discussion in their whorish pursuit of political advantage. The Rosies and smirking comics like Maher and other useful idiots will always be with us, given the corruption of the age. Even the next terrorism atrocity on our shores will only silence them for a time.

Please, tell me I'm wrong as I return to my original question, "How?". Can somebody still on this thread explain to me "How?". How can someone, anyone, even the President of the United States of America, get his thoughts communicated on a widespread basis if the G-D mainstream media refuses to print/broadcast (or twists and distorts) the message that is trying to be conveyed?

Queen Hillary, Empress of Mesopotamia

"The conservative Washington Establishment is swooning for Hillary for a reason. The reason is an accommodation with what they see as the next source of power (surprise!); and the desire to see George W. Bush's invasion and occupation of Iraq legitimated and extended by a Democratic president (genuine surprise)." News - Lawmakers to DHS: Investigate response to cyberattacks

Unisys provided inaccurate and misleading information to DHS about the source of the attacks and attempted to hide security gaps, the lawmakers said in their letter. Furthermore, DHS officials did not act on the information once they were informed.

“When presented with the reality that hackers were within their systems, department officials preferred to complete the fiscal year’s financial transactions rather than immediately take steps to mitigate the problem,” the lawmakers wrote. That decision could have further compromised critical DHS' financial information.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Ahmadinejad: ‘In Iran, We Don’t Have Homosexuals Like In Your Country’


Shared Stuff from macbeach

I saw this new feature pointed out on one of the blogs that follow Google. Tried it of course.

Hard to figure out what it is about. Is it the beginning of a Facebook competitor? Long way to go if so. I created a brand new Orkut ID to keep track of whatever they plan to do there. It's ten times faster than Facebook, and may have as many or more users (worldwide), but will it draw many Facebook users away?

What has puzzled me for some time though is the huge overlaps between existing Google products. Yes indeed it is reminiscent of overlapping Microsoft products that preceded the big bloat: "Hey, lets build the web browser into the desktop interface so it loads faster!". "Hey lets put more desktop features in the web browser so that, err, we can run random malware directly off the Internet!"

Surely Google won't let themselves fall prey to the same mid-age spare tire that now cripples Microsoft and Yahoo. Or will they?

Anyway, I can now "share stuff" as I browse, in yet another way. Previous ways include Google Notebook, shared bookmarks, "blogthis", and a couple of things built into Google reader. Oh, and Google Docs. I can even point most of these things at one another, making feeds of Google Reader entries that can show up on a blog, or blog entries that show up on Google reader. The combinations seem endless, and you have to wonder if you couldn't construct some sort of circular set of references that would end the world as we know it, or at least the Google part of it.

Google's strength remains (I think) its ability to hook up massive numbers of servers, handle more traffic than almost anyone else, and keep it all responsive (Yahoo, Flickr, Live, and Facebook are often incredibly slow considering what has long been known about the need to stay within end-user attention spans... now shorter than ever). But why have dozens of overlapping capabilities "just because we can"? Won't people burn out on this stuff eventually?

Maybe they've done usability studies that say no. I just know I that I'm not always sure I'm making optimal se of all this functionality, and from reading Google Groups (another redundant sharing mechanism) I'm not sure anyone else has figured it all out either.

Charles Lane - Rather Ridiculous -

"I have obtained new documentary evidence regarding Dan Rather's relationship with his former bosses at CBS News. Obviously, I cannot identify my source. But he told me during a collect call from Sofia, Bulgaria, that he has access to Rather's 'personal files' and that his typewriter was built after 1966. To authenticate the document, I showed it to some of my kids' friends, and they said it was awesome."

Emphasis mine.

The Clinton doctrine - April 5, 1999

Proving simply that highfalutin moral principles are impossible guides to foreign policy. At worst, they reflect hypocrisy; at best, extreme naivete. After all, if America stands against "ethnic cleansing and the slaughter of innocent people"--the essence of the Clinton Doctrine and the reason American, allied and Serb lives are now being risked over Kosovo--why the utter indifference and silence to the teacup civil wars, far more deadly, brutal and enduring, raging in Sierra Leone, Congo, Sudan, Sri Lanka?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Q&A with John Batchelor

The show that was too good for ABC Radio.

Pajamas Media: All The Propaganda That's Fit To Print

"In many ways this is worse than the Jayson Blair affair that so embarrassed the Times and caused a change in editorial administration. That was the result of inept fact checking. It could partially be excused as accidental, although the “accident” was repeated many times. The Moveon Affair goes much further, showing a functional and deliberate bias pervading the newspaper’s operations."

HillaryCare Flops in California -

"That's no coincidence. Both ArnoldCare and HillaryCare 2.0 are the product of the same advisers. But despite all of its clever political compromises, ArnoldCare is bogged down in trench warfare in California's liberal Democratic legislature. If anything passes, it will likely be only a shell of a bill without any financing component. Legislators will hope voters approve a general tax increase to pay for it in November 2008."

Pajamas Media: OJ Changed My Life

"When people ask me about my relative soft shoe to the political center after decades as a dedicated left-liberal, they usually say something like: “You’re one of those 9/11 Democrats, aren’t you? Like your buddy Ron Silver.” I mostly nod. It’s hard to deny 9/11 altered my view of things considerably. But what I almost always don’t tell them is those views were already changing - because of the OJ Trial. In a sense, weird as this may sound, the Juice prepped me for 9/11."

RealClearPolitics - Articles - Middle East Volcano

Future Boy: Google moves into virtual worlds - May. 12, 2006

Missed this.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Debating American Serfdom - New York Times

According to Katherine Mangu-Ward, an editor at Reason, Mr. Shilling, an economist and columnist for Forbes, totaled up government workers, “private-sector workers who owe their jobs to government” and recipients of government entitlements like Social Security and food stamps. For good measure, he threw in dependents of these beneficiaries. “Shilling found that for each person earning his pay in the private sector and paying taxes,” Ms. Mangu-Ward wrote, “there is at least one more person relying on a check from the government.”

Some of MIT's Arithmetic Hasn't Been Adding Up -

When MIT dropped this year to seventh place from a three-way tie for fourth, its student newspaper, the Tech, asked why. In response, MIT revealed that its latest numbers factored in the SAT scores of non-native English speakers -- and that the school had excluded them for years.

The change contributed to a 16-point drop in MIT's average SAT scores between 2005 and 2006. The reported SAT average was inflated by six points in 2005 and four in 2004. The school says it isn't sure the scores ever were correct before this year.

But my favorite part:

Says Mr. Shmill: "It was a pretty harmless error, or we wouldn't be talking about it."

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Works and Days - Something is going on in the Middle East

"When one looks at recent events in Lebanon with the crushing of the terrorist camp, the new generation in Libya, and the isolation of Hamas, the entire region is now in flux. And that is not necessarily bad, given its history the last quarter-century." - Snowed By SCO

"SCO is road kill. Its lawsuit long ago ceased to represent any threat to Linux. That operating system has become far too successful to be dislodged. Someday soon the SCO lawsuits will go away, and I will never have to write another article about SCO ever again. I can't wait."

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Yahoo! Image Search Results for "google reader"

If you want to search flickr, use Yahoo search. If you want to search anything else, use Google.

Amsterdam: Decision on open source in December

17 September 2007 - All government agencies must change to open source software, the national government says in an action plan presented today. Amsterdam is already testing such software and will decide on whether to renew its Microsoft contract in December.

By changing to open source software, the municipality wants to reduce its dependence on companies such as Microsoft, while strengthening Amsterdam’s image as an ‘ICT city’. Open source software is currently being tested by the Zeeburg district and by the Housing Department. The outcome of the pilot will be discussed by the city council on 19 December.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

TechBytes_handouts - Google Docs

Google Docs finally does presentations. Limited functionality so far, but it's about time a lot of you youngsters out there started slapping your foreheads and asking yourselves why we are doing such dumb things with computers.

Us mainframers have been wondering that for years. This video should make it clearer for anyone who just doesn't "get it"....

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Once you go Mac - Blog Maverick

"I honestly thought there would never come a time where I would buy a Mac. Ever.
Then I upgraded my PC to Vista. What a disaster. I had grown accustomed to my PC freezing every now and then. Enter Vista and my PC was frozen more often than it was working. The biggest culprit was MicroSoft Outlook. "

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Years in the Making, Powerful Yahoo Mail Is Worth the Wait | Personal Technology | Walt Mossberg | AllThingsD

Even though almost every comment submitted for this article disagrees with the favorable treatment given to Yahoo mail, my post must have gone over the line somehow. It got deleted. I hate when that happens, and when it happens I tend to become a bit bitter about it. I don't remember what I wrote now, but basically pointed out that the review was wrong, WRONG, WRONG! and that it read like a sales piece for Yahoo (which I still think it does).

Saying that doesn't make it so (in other words I wasn't accusing them of being on the take, just implying that it read that way) but having my saying that deleted makes me wonder just what the fixation is between ATD and Yahoo. It merits watching. They're independent, yada, yada, yada, but they got to get advertising from somebody. And they've even boasted lately about how frequently they write articles about Yahoo. Let's keep an eye on who wins the big banner ad sweepstakes shall we?


(1) Only Gmail and AOL/AIM mail (which was not even included in the comparison) allow you to read your e-mail into any generic local POP/IMAP compatible reader without paying a fee (Yahoo and MSN charge for the privilege).

(2) All the e-mail systems under consideration now have more storage than the average person is ever likely to need. Only Gmail offered it first and the rest followed. Sans competition, Yahoo mails storage limits actually went DOWN.

(3) Yahoo's spam filtering is horrible. Again, they make you pay to get better service in this area.

(4) Yahoo is slow. That's in web mode. Comments in the referenced article indicate the POP capability is even slower. I have no reason to doubt that.

(5) Finally, Yahoo ads are obtrusive, annoying, and so bloated they even crash your browser from time to time, not to mention adding even more delays between screens. Gmail ads are text only, take up little real-estate, and because they are targeted, are occasionally handy to have around (for example taking you to pages that allow you to track a package when you get a confirmation from a vendor on something you have ordered).

As I've had to do with other "objective" journals, I'll be mirroring my posts to the WSJ and affiliates right here from now on. Heck, I may even cancel my (paid) subscription. I'm PISSED!

Monday, September 03, 2007

Vote for (against) INCITS 2341 by Farance, Incorporated

"A 6000 page document was submitted for JTC1 fast-track ballot with just 6 months for technical review and approval. Even documents one tenth the size have taken years to review and revise according to the normal quality for ISO/IEC standards. "

Vote for (against) INCITS 2341 by IBM Corp

If, by chance, this flawed specification is approved despite the process outlined in the JTC 1 Directives, what will be the incentive for the submitting organization and company to resolve all of the known submitted technical comments if the ballot has already been passed?

Ooops, forgot to quote that.