Content from 2009-07

Stupid Skateboarding
posted on 2009-07-30 01:11:51
The last week has positively flown by. I'm being much less productive than I hoped to be with my month off but I can tell that I need it. My batteries were pretty drained after the last 7 months. On some level it's disappointing but for now I'm enjoying the vacation.

I injured my wrist skateboarding Tuesday evening and am recuperating fairly well. Seems like a serious bruise or a mild sprain to me. Hopefully I'll be over it soon. That's contributed somewhat to my coding slowdown.

Other than that, I've done well on my battle of the berrics predictions for the last week. I did try Funtoo in a VM but may replace my OSx86 install with it for fun sometime in the near future. We'll see.

Oh, and Palm and Apple are still at war. It's just darling.

More news on all this in just a few days...
Midweek Miscellany
posted on 2009-07-24 00:35:53
So, a quick post of things that have been happening.

It's official. Apple and Palm are at war. And I couldn't be happier about it. Apple has pulled stupid, anticompetitive maneuvers many a time that simply serve to frustrate users of its software. One is making sure that iTunes only works with iPods. Palm made a phone that was designed to sync with iTunes and sync it did. Apple intentionally released a patch to iTunes shortly after the release of Palm's Pre phone that broke that functionality. Palm has just released a fix that restores the sync functionality. So guys, are you just gonna keep doing this or will there be a court date I should know about?

The HTC Hero has finally started to see reviews drop and while the software is good, the phone's CPU is old and underpowered...so now I'm waiting...again...for either a wild Maemo phone announcement from Nokia or some solid reviews (or just confirmation at this stage) about the Sony Ericsson Xperia X3 (aka "Rachael"). I certainly wouldn't mind getting the Hero but it looks like my next phone purchase won't come until at least Xmas.

In the meantime, there are plenty of other things holding my interest. One is the Coders at Work book Peter Seibel is working on. It's schedule keeps getting pushed back but it should be out "Real Soon Now". Nick Levine is also working on a book called "Lisp Outside the Box" for O'Reilly that has some cool contents. No word on a release date yet though. I'll be watching.

One piece of big and great news is that Teresa has switched to Ubuntu. Jaunty i386, to be specific. Her XP install kept having problems and I didn't feel like spending time fixing them. Since switching her last weekend, things have gone quite smoothly.

I also had a little interest in trying Karmic out because of their Android support but didn't feel like messing with my partition table. I figure I'll upgrade her system when it releases and won't have an Android phone anyway. I still have a little bit of a distro fixation lately it seems because I finally want to play with a source-based distribution and have been particularly intrigued by Daniel Robbins' Funtoo project. It's a gentoo derivative and given how much free time I have I'll likely try it in Virtualbox soon. It'd have to be insanely great to pull me away from Arch however. As OSWatershed.org attests, Arch's "stable\current" packages just can't be beat. :) Of course, there are disclaimers on OSWatershed.org's site about the numbers. I'm not trying to start a flame war and I'll be trying Funtoo unstable/future anyway.

My buddy Max posted a link to coder girl. This doesn't fit in anywhere, it just makes me speechless. Cheers.
Legal Links
posted on 2009-07-22 14:11:23
Today's linkpost will focus on two topics. One is the NSA's immoral spying activities which Obama promised to fix on his campaign trail and the other is the ever expanding mire of modern Intellectual Property Law.

Let's start with the NSA. There have been three separate arstechnica articles lately about the failures of the NSA spying program. One of the articles discussed the extent to which the program's secrecy made it useless to traditional intelligence workers, another talked about how the warrantless wiretapping that was exposed was just the tip of the iceberg and a third condemned the continuing money being thrown into data centers for the NSA whose output we cannot quantify or evaluate.

That said, it all made me realize just how much arstechnica is an echo chamber for my own views. In Cass Sunstein's book Republic.com and other places he is a bit more alarmist about this than I would be but he's still a smart guy and onto something. With that in mind, I should at least comment that there does seem to be some positive pressure for Obama to live up to his promise, however meager, between angry senators and increased news coverage. In addition, some hold a much more balanced view that promotes waiting and seeing. The NSA position was a major factor in my support of Obama though or at least the belief that he would bolster what are, in my view, weakened civil liberties and constitutional law...and I'm a bit impatient and touchy about it.

As for stupid IP law, the madness just goes on and on. It's hard to know where to begin. I think I blogged about this already but a quick and obvious example is a music industry group that thinks they should be able to charge you each time your phone rings if you have a "musical ringtone". As a matter of fact, they're cleverly suing AT&T over it. At least my enemies are fighting each other. But let's just break their view down for a second. So, you can buy little 10-15 second clips of songs to serve as ringtones when people call you now. And these guys think that whenever someone calls you...and that song, or clip of a song, plays in public, it counts as a public performance of the work and copyright law entitles them to money. What? The same group struggled to get girl scouts to pay royalties for singing copyrighted songs around a campfire, such as "Happy Birthday" and "Row, Row, Row". I don't normally swear on this blog but might I say, Get The Fuck Out. You have no idea what music, or culture for that matter, is good for. Just leave. I get pretty irate about this stuff. Strange conclusions are being reached about what good copyright law is doing.

On the bright side though, Obama has made a USPTO choice which supports patent reform. Patent law, like copyright law, has gotten wildly out of hand in the last two to three decades and I fervently hope Mr. Kappos takes steps to bring some sanity to the system. Above and beyond that, there are still reports coming from academia alleging that piracy is not stopping artists and the pirate party has made it to parliament in Europe. There are also continuing efforts to try new approaches that adapt to modern conditions. Let's just consider IP Law to have two sides and call it a day for now. And I don't mean BSD vs GPL. Sheesh.
Telecom Thoughts
posted on 2009-07-21 14:26:43
Since I've been getting a new phone I've spent a good deal of time lately thinking about the telephone industry. I have several problems with it but I suppose the largest is that I don't want voice service. I really just want to be paying for data. I'm happy to pay for Data at home and Data on the go. But I think it should all just be data. This sentiment is shared by a number of my friends. While you can get data-only plans for smartphones it is not clear to me that they are truly unlimited as some are advertised. I was looking into what would be required to maintain a "phone number" if you did have an unlimited data plan with good coverage.

It seems you would need to use Local Number Portability to transfer your phone number to a virtual number provider which would then route all calls to that number to an SIP address. Then as long as you had an SIP provider that had some way to handle outbound calls to phone numbers you could get by with 3G just fine. I can't tell if Google Voice might wind up resembling such a service but here's hoping, even if that would give Google an undue amount of power in my life. Better them than ATT. There's an SIP app for Android besides the Google Voice app called SIPdroid that looks pretty good and a list of SIP service providers here. The GV Android app presently still routes calls through the PSTN. At least SIPdroid lets you route calls through 3G or Wi-Fi but routing VoIP through 3G likely violates the TOS for most mobile carriers. Oh, well.

Of course, there's an Android app for Google Voice already and it's rumored that number portability is coming to GV soon. We'll see. In addition to that, there are some other good things happening. Verizon is pushing FiOS and a group at nochokepoints.org is fighting for more competitive access to so-called "special access" lines. Finally, someone is trying to communicate how we think to the telecoms which can only do good.
Officially Summer
posted on 2009-07-21 01:17:25
My summer has arrived. I've really just been recooperating since I turned in my last paper last Thursday. I've started work on a bunch of linkposts that will go up over the next week as I try to dump browser tabs like a madman. I'm definitely in excess of 100 tabs. It's bad. Other than that, I've been doing precious little. Mostly working on my social calendar. It's been nice. I have been exploring some Jazz though. I don't care if they're obvious picks, I've been really enjoying Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Bill Evans and Dave Brubeck.

At this point I'm practically decided that I should get a HTC Hero somewhere between now and next January to replace my current phone. It depends on when AT&T starts carrying them and at what cost. Other than that, my Battle at the Berrics 2 predictions were on point this weekend which was nice. That said, a part of me thinks it's going to come down to Torey Pudwill vs Paul Rodriguez based on footage of both of them actually playing skate. Whatever happens, it's sure to be ridiculous. Maybe I'll post a "revised" bracket at the end of Round 1, or each round, but no promises.

Baked some Chocolate Chip Cookies tonight from the Pioneer Woman's recipe but I think I'm looking for something a bit more chewy. Maybe I just need to bake them differently but I'll worry about that later. For now, I'm enjoying cookies. I'm going to go learn org-mode for a bit and try and organize some task lists to work on between now and August 24th when school starts back up. Linkposts and lisp code will be here very shortly, I'm sure.
The Last Mile
posted on 2009-07-12 16:20:06
So, I'm really in the home stretch now. I'm spending all day today trying to get something like 7 pages written on Weapons of Mass Destruction which I painfully don't care about. I've finished and submitted all my other finals and assignment. It's the only thing left. I have to give a presentation with my group on some questions about China's specific stances with regards to WMDs on Tuesday and then we have a group ~25 page research paper to turn in Thursday. My group and I really want the 25 page paper wrapped up by Tuesday so we can just sit around between Tues. and Thurs. and then hand it in and walk away. Then I'm off for a bit. I'll probably whine about how one month isn't enough of a break in the near future.

I haven't managed to get to the skatepark this week or write much lisp. I have watched some Cowboy Bebop during evenings with Teresa and I've enjoyed it. It's also got me looking into the music of Yoko Kanno. Which in turn is pushing me to try and start exploring Jazz. I've always put that off because it's a huge and rich genre...hell, I put off exploring a lot of older genres (Jazz, Classical, 60s and 70s pop and rock) for that reason. The depths seem too great to plumb. It's still good fun to try. Aside from skateboarding at brookrun, I hope to play videogames a bit, catch up with friends and finish a screencast of a lisp solution to project 2 in CS once my classes wrap up this week.

I've been positively eating it on my berrics predictions lately. At least Mark Appleyard won today. I think that makes me 3 for 6. Round 1 and I'm already eating it. Awesome. I'll try to do a revision in the interlude between Round 1 and Round 2. I also hope I'll finally catch up on a blog or three that I've had a hard time keeping up with. Hopefully, Don will start posting again too. It's like he's a ghost! What might he be up to these days? Later, folks.
Almost Done
posted on 2009-07-07 00:14:40
I've been increasingly disconnected from everyone lately. School has been a fairly large part of that. After 7 months of non-stop activity including moving, the death of my father and the death of my girlfriend's father, I'm ready for a little break and a little quiet. Thankfully, from July 20th the August 24th I won't have to think about due dates and my time will be my own. I hope to be a bit more social and communicative then...but I get the feeling I'll still need to turn a few folks down to build energy back up.

The 4th of July weekend was pretty good. I wasn't as productive as I could have been but I made good headway on my CS schoolwork which would've been a real pain this week otherwise. The last class for CS is Thursday and it's the final exam. I'm hoping to do the final project in Lisp (I've already done it in C++ as required) and post a screencast of my solution to the class Google Group by then. The teacher has expressed interest in seeing it. Unfortunately, that will have to be behind my other classwork in priority. The class I'm really most wanting to be over is also the last one to end, Weapons of Mass Destruction. It satisfies a requirement for a Science, Technology and Society course and was the only such Summer '09 offered course that really fit my schedule. It's hard to explain why that class has become the one I really want to avoid schoolwork-wise but at least it will be over soon.

Battle at the Berrics 2 kicked off last weekend and while my first two predictions were spot on I also think they were obvious. My whole bracket was shot this weekend when Torey Pudwill beat Jimmy Carlin. I didn't have Carlin going to the finals or anything but I was hoping that Carlin would just edge out Pudwill first round so I wouldn't have to consider Pudwill going all the way. I also was wrong about Janoski v. Ramondetta. Some major reworkings are in order and I hope to post them soon.

Also this weekend, I checked out a Kaki King album from last year titled Dreaming of Revenge. She just seems to get better and better. I also stumbled on what I found to be some deeply amusing chiptune by a fellow named Tugboat. It's essentially an NES-style 8-bit megamix of hip-hop songs from the last few years. Cute. It seems there's plenty more chiptune where that came from and I really don't know how I feel about that.

Finally, I've got a list of tricks I'd like to land over at Brookrun before Fall semester starts and various unprioritized goals regarding lisp programming on the same timeline. I probably should also wrap up the funnyWords programs in lisp and haskell with the suggested optimizations and some sort of review post. What are you guys up to?

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