Friday, August 28, 2009

MS stops fighting the current

Microsoft has decided that if they can't beat them, they might as well join them. In a complete surprise MS has produced a competetive user level video editing tool and given you the option of uploading the video to YouTube...by default.

Paul Thurrott's SuperSite for Windows: Windows Live Movie Maker Review, Part 2: "YouTube
You may be surprised that YouTube is the default sharing choice in Windows Live Movie Maker, though I should mention that Microsoft's own video sharing site, MSN Soapbox, was very recently cancelled due to lack of interest. YouTube, of course, is one of the most popular web sites in the world and, by far, the most popular video sharing site. So there it is."

Why Glenn Beck Is Feared By The Left

Honestly, I'd taken almost no notice of Glenn Beck until a left wing group decided to organize a boycott. What, I asked my self, could inspire such hatred or fear?

Via Instapundit, I have my answer:



I've walked away from arguments feeling frustrated in the past, with the vague feeling that I didn't present myself or my arguments well. That's because I'm always willing to admit the possibility that I'm wrong.

But Glenn has faith, an unshakeable belief that his core values are right. That sounds unreasonable to me, but it's also something that has been the sole domain of the Left until recently. Glenn's faith empowers him as it does those who "speak truth to power," and it scares the bejesus out of them.

Once, long ago, I read Robert Heinleins Job: A Comedy of Justice. It made me re-examine a lot of things I had taken for granted about the world around me. And I promised to never give that book to someone with a strongly expressed faith, because it made me doubt and ask questions. I don't regret it, but life was so much more complicated after that.

Perhaps I was wrong. Perhaps more people should question their ideals. Regardless, it's that faith and conviction that wins the day, and Beck has it, and more people on the right are following his example. This is a real concern for those who thought they had a lock on moral outrage.

A Matter of Definition


YouTube - ASTROTURF JERKS!! (Crowder Goes Liberal)

$33,0000 per year? That's more than I make as a trained technical support specialist!

Could Depression Be Useful After All

I have some highly depressive tendencies. I've also noticed that I do some of my best, most lucid and clearly thought out writing when I'm depressed. There may be a reason:
Depressed people often think intensely about their problems. These thoughts are called ruminations; they are persistent and depressed people have difficulty thinking about anything else. Numerous studies have also shown that this thinking style is often highly analytical. They dwell on a complex problem, breaking it down into smaller components, which are considered one at a time.
While this doesn't make depression any more pleasant, and I am by no means suggesting that severe depression is a good thing, it does suggest that there are times when it is useful, and that there are reasons for depression outside of a chemical imbalance.

And maybe I'm not paranoid after all.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Crazy Ahnold's!

The Governator is trying to rais some cash! come on down to Crazy Ahnold's Used Office Supply, Government Property, and Police Seizure Sale!
Everything Must Go: California Holds Giant Garage Sale - News Story - KTVU San Francisco: "The governor has even autographed 15 car visors in an effort to fetch higher bids on vehicles."

Chilling

I'm trying very hard not to be paranoid, but with the recent appeal to authority, this latest item is beginning to look the the assembly of a propaganda arm:

And if you think that my fear regarding the arts becoming a tool of the state is still unfounded, I leave you with a few statements made by the NEA to the art community participants on the conference call. “This is just the beginning. This is the first telephone call of a brand new conversation. We are just now learning how to really bring this community together to speak with the government. What that looks like legally?…bare with us as we learn the language so that we can speak to each other safely… “

And so the betrayal is complete

The next version of Mac OSX is about to be released, and in a fit of the typical customer disloyalty, those of you with older macs, from the time when Intel architecture was considered inferior, are out of luck.
6 Things You Need to Know About Mac OS X Snow Leopard | Gadget Lab | Wired.com: "Hardware Requirements: No Support for PowerPC Macs

If you own an older Mac powered by a PowerPC chip (rather than Intel), then you’re out of luck: Snow Leopard won’t run on your machine. The requirements are as follows: You must own an Intel Mac equipped with at least 1GB of memory, and the install requires at least 5GB of free hard drive space for the install. And of course, you’ll need a DVD drive to be able to read the disc and run the installation. (MacBook Air owners: We hope you have an external optical drive.)"
Personally, I think it should be distributed on a read-only USB drive for those poor Air owners. Then again, I suppose if you can pay $2000+ for your computer, you can afford an extra $99.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Say What?

The Associated Press: Chrysler cuts powertrain warranty to 5 years: "AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Chrysler Group LLC said Wednesday that it is dropping its lifetime powertrain warranty in favor of a 5-year, 100,000-mile guarantee.
Chrysler spokesman Rick Deneau said the decision was driven by market research that showed consumers prefer warranties with a fixed time period. Powertrain warranties typically cover repair or replacement of transmission and engine parts.
'Basically, the assumption of a lifetime warranty just wasn't that big a deal to consumers,' Deneau said."
Somebody needs a new market research group. This is so mind-bogglingly stupid I'm at a loss for words.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Bait and Switch

Whatever you may think of Cash for Clunkers, I don't think it's fair or reasonable to make that committment and then not be prepared to follow through.

Auto Dealers Paid for Just 2 Percent of 'Clunkers' Claims, Congressman Says - Political News - FOXNews.com: "In the letter, Sestak said only 2 percent of claims have been paid and that four of every five applications have been 'rejected for minor oversight.'�

In recent days, auto dealers across the country have been complaining that the reimbursement payments are slow to process. And they said some of their applications were being rejected because of apparent procedural issues. The statistics Sestak cited suggest those complaints are not based on isolated incidents.�"
h/t: Instapundit

Health Care, with actual numbers

I like numbers. They can be used in a very specific way to come to a conclusion. Of course, as the writer here notes it's important to keep in mind that the way the numbers are compiled can make a big difference. Read on, and take that grain of salt.

STEPHEN GLOVER: I deeply resent the Americans sneering at our health service - but perhaps that's because the truth hurts
| Mail Online
: "But whatever the failings and excesses of the American system, the statistics suggest that it delivers better outcomes than the NHS when dealing with serious illnesses. I say 'suggest' because we should always be wary of comparing figures compiled in different ways in different countries.

In treating almost every cancer, America apparently does better than Britain, sometimes appreciably so. According to a study in Lancet Oncology last year, 91.9 per cent of American men with prostate cancer were still alive after five years, compared with only 51.1per cent in Britain.

The same publication suggests that 90.1 per cent of women in the U.S. diagnosed with breast cancer between 2000 and 2002 survived for at least five years, as against 77.8 per cent in Britain."
Lately I've been hearing a lot about the French health care system, but nobody honest is going to try to tell you that there aren't problems there too. I think the focus should be on avoiding other system's mistakes and moving forward, and it should be done in a thoughtful, honest fashion. Rushing in because you have the political muscle to push it through is a bad idea, especially when the congresscritters admit that they haven't even read it.

There's an App for that!

SILENCING DISSENT? There’s An App For That!…:

Friday, August 14, 2009

Neither bitter nor surprised

This is a pretty good analysis of the situation G1 owners face, and I'm not surprised:
T-Mobile G1 owners: Don’t expect any future Android updates: "

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but someone has to say it. If you currently own a T-Mobile G1, your days of Android updates are numbered. In fact, cupcake might have been your last treat. Users should not expect to receive the Donut update in its full form.


“I don’t think that anybody… can precisely answer your question at the moment. Size remains a constant concern, not just for the G1 but also for other devices.” Jean-Baptiste Queru, Android Software Engineer


“I don’t believe that has been decided yet, and ultimately it will be a decision made in conjunction with the carrier. It is even possible that some carriers may want the update and others won’t. There will come a time in the near future when we won’t be able to fit the latest release on the G1 internal flash.” Dave Sparks, Android Software Engineer


Based on all the information I have, I’m just going to assume no more updates for the G1 till I hear something different. You would be wise to start thinking the same thing to avoid being disappointed.


Why is the G1 going to stop getting updates?


The limited storage space of the G1 is the single reason its days are numbered. It is a bit of a no-win situation. No one will admit it, but the small storage space could have been the reason Cupcake was slow in coming.


“Where the situation is really tricky is that the system partition on the US G1 was already filled to the brim with cupcake, and we were routinely flirting with build sizes that were a few dozen kB under the limit (or several MB over…), which means that even small changes to the core platform could very easily push the system size over the limit and staying under the limit took some effort”. Jean-Baptiste Queru, Android Software Engineer


This is one of the chances you take as a first adopter, but all of us who made Android a hit deserve big props. If the G1 hadn't flown there wouldn't have been the massive rush to market that we'll see at the end of this year.

Cupcake was the really important one to me. It added critical bluetooth and bug fixes, as well as setting up the framework for developers. My only real fear is that newer updates and applications will not run on my Android 1.5 phone after 2.0 rolls out in December or January. I hope to see Donut on my phone, but if it doesn't happen I won't be crushed.

YouTube - "FLAG YOURSELF!" Campaign

YouTube - "FLAG YOURSELF!" Campaign: ""

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Echo Chamber

Ed Brayton lambasts Investors Business Daily for this quote:

People such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn't have a chance in the U.K., where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless.

He says:

There's just one tiny little problem with this: Stephen Hawking was born and raised in the UK and has lived there all his life. He teaches at Cambridge. That's in the UK. This ranks up there with the French not having a word for entrepreneur.

The IBD has already corrected the article, and noted the correction (which is crucial to honesty) but I think their editors missed a crucial word:  “Now”.

According to Wikipedia Hawking was diagnosed at the age of 21.  He was born in 1942, and so his diagnosis came in 1963.  Ed and his commenters seem to be assuming that the British NHS has remained unchanged since it’s inception in 1948.  It should be elementary to assume that there have been some significant changes in even the 46 years since Hawking’s diagnosis.

And there are more changes on the way.  Ask yourself:  Are you healthy enough to be denied health care by a government source with no other recourse?

One commenter hits the nail on the head:

Actually, on reflection, I'm going to be scrupulously fair to the Investor's Business Daily. Stephen Hawking, IIRC from a documentary I saw a while back, does not rely solely on the NHS for his treatment. As a wealthy individual (thanks to being a best-selling author), he is in a position where he can employ a live-in nurse to cater to his needs and thus the care he receives is not necessarily typical for a Motor Neurone Disease sufferer in the UK.

He does go on to mention that his own father has no complaints about his care under the NHS.  That’s fantastic, but again the question is “would he get that care if newly diagnosed?”

Honestly, I don’t think Hawking is the best example anyway.  His father was a doctor, and in many ways he was born as part of the upper class.  He went to Oxford, for crying out loud. 

So here’s a question for you intrepid class-warriors out there:  Would a Down Syndrome baby born to an immigrant, low income mother get the same treatment?  If you think the answer is yes, you haven’t been paying attention.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What Fresh Hell?

Seriously, how can anyone say this with a straight face?
Michigan madness | Washington Examiner: "Case in point: Democratic State Chairman Mark Brewer. Ordinarily a pretty savvy political operator, Brewer is now suggesting five ballot propositions for the 2010 ballot. Their aim apparently is to improve the lot of Michigan citizens. But the result, as anyone with an iota of sense can see, would be to inflict horrifying damage on an already staggering state economy."
Read the whole thing for a list of the horrors he wants to unleash on the private sector.

This points to a complete ignorance of how economies work. What makes Brewer think there would be any businesses left after the dust from his proposal settled?

My biggest fear is that the Michigan Republican Party is so concerned with not seeming hostile to "The People" that they're likely to pass anything.

Not to detract from the point of my rant, but the MI Repubs seem to be binary in that they're either "Democrat Lite" or "Screw 'em Harder Businessmen".

Monday, August 10, 2009

The White House Wants YOU!

The White House has decided that it's now a good idea to inform on your fellow citizens. Not everyone agrees:
Dissent is patriotic - not: "'I can only imagine the level of justifiable outrage had your predecessor asked Americans to forward e-mails critical of his politics to the White House,' Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, wrote in a letter to President Obama. 'I suspect that you would have been leading the charge in condemning such a program.'"
I honestly can not understand how the same people who panicked over Terrorism Threat Levels and government wire tapping are willing to instigate a program for informing on those with a different opinion.

For the record, I expect to be reported to Flag@whitehouse.gov very soon, but I'm also wondering what they use for a spamfilter, because it could easily be the most repeated email address in the country right now.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Book Burning

Remember those old Mickey Mouse cartoons that are so strange to us now, relics of an earlier age and a different mindset? You won't find many books from that era:
under a law Congress passed last year aimed at regulating hazards in children’s products, the federal government has now advised that children’s books published before 1985 should not be considered safe and may in many cases be unlawful to sell or distribute. Merchants, thrift stores, and booksellers may be at risk if they sell older volumes, or even give them away, without first subjecting them to testing—at prohibitive expense. Many used-book sellers, consignment stores, Goodwill outlets, and the like have accordingly begun to refuse new donations of pre-1985 volumes, yank existing ones off their shelves, and in some cases discard them en masse
Is the objective really to protect people? Is there that much paint, or that many cases of sickness caused by the few artifacts of our past that we have left?

The Shoe is on the other foot

Just found this link. The irony is that this little handbook is almost precisely what the TEA partiers are already doing.

Oh, and they learned it from the left over the last 8 years.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Government sticks it’s nose in

Apparently there’s been enough noise about Apple’s rejection of the Google Voice app that it’s gotten the attention of the FCC.  Here’s what Amazon’s Aric Annear had to say:

There's two sides to this inquiry business.  Personally, I come down on the side of this being a very good thing, though admittedly perhaps for the wrong reasons.  Specifically, the inquiry will hopefully lead to at least a little more transparency in how apps get approved or rejected.  Back when the iPhone App Store first opened, developers joked about the seemingly random approval process for getting applications into the store.  Now, as the iPhone radically gains market share and inspires developers to expend real time and sweat and financial resources in a heavily competitive environment, no one's laughing anymore. Frustrated developers (and consumers) are beginning to abandon the platform as their inquiries about rejection and request for useful feedback go completely ignored--since there's no way whatsoever to know in advance if your app is going to be accepted, expending serious development resources on the iPhone begins to look more and more like a bad bet.

I tend to disagree that this is a good thing.  The bolded section above references developers and users abandoning the platform and that’s a great example of the market at work.  Apple should be allowed to make any business decision it wants, and if that limits their growth then so be it.

Shame at my bias

Lately I've been filling my subscription list at Youtube with channels that I think are amusing. Politics rarely gets into the mix because I prefer to read that sort of thing at my own pace.

Today I ran across this video:



YouTube - Carnahan on Cash for Clunkers

I put The Dana Show on my list of subscriptions. Is it because I thought it was effective reporting? Is it because I thought her commentary was on point? Or, as I'm afraid, was it because she's a pretty girl?

I'm inclined to think I was interested because of the first two reasons, and the fact that she's attractive made it easier to click the button.

I blame evolutionary biology.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Popular

Look at this screen clip. Not telling you where I found it, but I bet you can guess:

Wow, people seem to be interested. Not I, however. I would be SOOO busted.

Dig Deep

The campaign promise to not raise taxes on anyone making less than $250,000 per year is fading into obscurity. The only surprises are that some people are surprised, and that others still don't believe it.
Asked about raising taxes on the middle class on Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” White House economist Larry Summers wouldn’t repeat Mr. Obama’s pre-election promise. “It is never a good idea to absolutely rule things out no matter what,” Mr. Summers said—except, apparently, when his boss is running for office. Meanwhile, on ABC’s “This Week,” Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner also slid around Mr. Obama’s vow and said, “We have to bring these deficits down very dramatically. And that’s going to require some very hard choices.”
How much will it take to open peoples eyes? Wouldn't it have been better to not run up such a deficit in the first place?

Monday, August 3, 2009

Sauce for the goose

Selective outrage indeed.

Get your whole family up to speed

Easy Entry:
End User: Windows 7 Family Pack prices, Anytime Upgrade details: "The upcoming Windows 7 Family Pack will be priced at $149.99, and it will be available for purchase in stores upon the operating system's Oct. 22 launch, Microsoft said this morning.

The Family Pack, which will let PC users upgrade to Windows 7 Home Premium on up to three existing Windows Vista or XP computers, represents a discount of more than $200 from buying the Windows 7 Home Premium upgrades individually."

Whither the office?

Working in a nonprofit volunteer organization has challenges, and this aticle at Ars Technica hits the nail on the head:

Go into any office today and you'll find people using Word to write documents. Some people still print them out and file them in big metal cabinets to be lost forever, but again this is simply an old habit, like a phantom itch on a severed limb. Instead of printing them, most people will email them to their boss or another coworker, who is then expected to download the email attachment and edit the document, then return it to them in the same manner. At some point the document is considered "finished", at which point it gets dropped off on a network share somewhere and is then summarily forgotten.

People keep doing this, but it is an astoundingly awful way to work. Here are just a few of the problems:

  • People sometimes forget to attach the document to their email.
  • The document can be too large—especially long documents with lots of images—and can clog up the email server.
  • Nobody knows what edits were made and by whom. Sure, you can turn "Track Changes" on, but as it transforms your document into a horrible illegible mess, most people very quickly turn it off again.
  • Nobody has any idea which is the most recent version of the document. This leads to amusing email flame wars where people insist that you adopt version control for your file names, which nobody ever does because they are too busy arguing about what the syntax should be. Even if you do manage to get version control, you are still never sure if you have the most recent version.
  • People save the document in some directory on their hard drive and then forget where it is. The usual solution to this is to email the author again and ask them to resend it.
  • People miss the email (usually because there are far too many emails in a day) and claim to have never received the document in the first place.

Even if you somehow manage to survive all these pitfalls and your document reaches the Holy Land of $some_random_network_share, your troubles are just beginning. Now nobody knows where your document is, so they have to pester you to tell them.

Changing habits is the worst part. Everyone wants everything in a specific folder, but being able to search is typically much more efficient. The difficulty is that you have to have the keywords. There's one very funny story where we were trying to find the electronic file for a program book, and literally searched everywhere we could think of. Naturally, the file was called "PB."