Efforts to understand, improve, or do less harm to the world around me.


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Why I didn't see the latest Tarantino film

Quentin Tarantino over the years answering the question: "I wonder how I can make a revenge-themed movie?"

1994 - Oh I know, I'll make 'Pulp Fiction' where the most memorable scene will be a gangster planning to get "medieval" on a freaky rapist.

2003 - I'll make 'Kill Bill,' a movie where a former female assassin becomes pregnant and then her former associates kill her husband, friends, and child.

2007 - I'll make 'Death Proof' where a former stunt man murders one group of women, then terrorizes another before they beat him to death.

This year - I'll make 'Inglourious Basterds' where American Soldiers terrorize the Nazis in France.

Thanks but I'll pass.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Poem: It plugs into the goddamn wall

Others are trapped inside their own skin.
They have no ability, no capability.
Their arms are like stubby knobs unable to form control and systems.
Things are left undone, inefficient, unworkable.
Dealt with and untouched on a daily basis.
I have a drill.
I fuck shit up.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Mitch Hedberg joke

I'm against picketing, but I don't know how to show it.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Zimbra e-mail client review

Having access to Exchange server e-mail can sometimes be critical to doing your job, but if you're stuck with the sometimes painfully stupid Outlook 2003, you might go looking elsewhere.

Although the Linux-only Evolution is a great tool for this, Zimbra Desktop was an option available for Windows, Mac, and others. For a basic e-mail client that does everything you need it to do simply and easily, this is a real winner, but the program takes up enormous system resources.

The Good

  • Excellent support for a wide variety of email systems both web (like gmail and hotmail) and POP/IMAP services. (Outlook can do this but not well.)
  • Better interface, great calendar, overall much prettier.
  • Good drag-and-drop support
  • A strong "Find" tool. This is more of a knock on Outlook '03, which buries an extremely important component inside menus and "CTRL+F" is useless until you reply to the email.
In composing an email:
  • Both HTML and plain text options
  • Simple, easy attachment tools, draft, and otherwise
  • Automatic email address detection
The Bad
  • Doesn't seem to work with the Google Calendaring system (I had to click refresh). You can connect Outlook to Google Calendaring with a separate tool (note that this tool is probably not secured).
  • Doesn't cut back on features for things that don't exist for Google's calendar (such as attachments and other Exchange-only features)
  • After I added in all my addresses, takes up an enormous amount of disk space: 1.81 gigs.
  • File saving tool "Breifcase"? Thought this service had been turned off.
  • "Notepad" tool doesn't work with google docs. Its a mystery where it stores "notepad" files when you use non-yahoo accounts (probably locally).
  • Not as customizable and no power features like Outlook 2003.
  • Google Calendar works great but many of the options available don't move over into google docs.
  • Didn't work correctly with Exchange calendar

So unfortunately, Zimbra is helpful and good, but is not a replacement for Outlook 2003. If you do get stuck with Outlook, make sure you install the fantastic Xobni, which improves search, keeps track of contacts, and many other useful features.

Download Zimbra Desktop.

Done with Facebook

In a case that's been building for quite a while now, Facebook basically seems to think its users are neither important nor valuable. Their continued privacy problems have peaked yet again in the news with a new interface that just makes things worse.

Conclusion? Its time to start backing away slowly from Facebook. Many of its elements are enjoyable but the benefits don't outweigh the pain. As far as a method to simply get back in touch with old friends, Facebook has certainly become the standard. As a social medium where people should share any personal information, its time to go elsewhere.

Image source.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Drug policy based on actual research

Policy based on politics and history shouldn't have as much weight as science, but it seems that's one place we're stuck.  I was most surprised by their analysis of alcohol in comparison to other "drugs."

It always seems that people arguing for a balanced drug policy are those that want to use currently outlawed drugs.  However, coming down harder on the worst drugs and lessening the penalties for those less harmful seems obvious.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Chicken Little is cleaning up!

I've talked before about people profiting from being alarmists, but there may be a more direct way to profit from doom-saying.  Glenn Beck might defend himself by saying that he's just a part of a good idea but he can't possibly escape the idea that this is a total conflict of interest and that he may be worsening the very problem he bemoans.

Colbert also takes a swipe on this issue and not just at Beck.

Image source.

Top 10 reasons why the McDonalds "McRib" only available for a limited time

Taken from an actual question posted online.

  1. They are made of endangered blue whale.  They can only kill 10 blue whales a year and get away with it and that's just enough McRib meat to feed 100,000 people.
  2. Elephants get old but not as quickly as we'd like
  3. We don't know but Tom Hanks is actively trying to learn the secret from the Catholic church.
  4. Made from the tears of orphans.  Although their sorrow is great, they only *really* cry during the holidays.
  5. Because those few cats who can actually talk like they do in Disney movies are a threat to our way of life.
  6. Those baby seals can hold their breath for a pretty long time.
  7. Extracting skunk meat takes real skill.
  8. We've been feeding Jared those Subway sandwiches for years.  Now everyone gets a taste.
  9. What do you call it when its Hanna Montana?  Hannibalism?
  10. It comes from a rare gigantic centipede with over 300 "ribs"
Find a McRib near you!  (Someone in Saskatchewan is making a religious trek to Alberta as we speak.)

Pandora radio review

From listening to Pandora

The Good:
  • I've discovered a number of new albums and songs that may become passionate favorites.
  • Compared to other internet radio which will alternately play great and terrible music, at least I know what I'm listening to and can skip ahead.  That makes it worth the commercials.
  • Music genres can also be very restrictive and false, listing artists instead of genres has provided a much better level of quality songs.  Additionally, you find more stuff from artists you already know that you may not have heard yet.  For artists with a wide catalog, this can be a real eye opener.
The Bad:

One major problem is that it almost excludes a whole genre of music: electronic, which has a lot of outros and intros.  These are long, repetitive strings of music that are there just to allow the DJ to beat-match two records before seamlessly switching over, often giving the impression of a never-ending song.  Frequently these intros and outros from singles and studio albums are included in radio stations who don't know any better.  A very great song might await you after a very dull intro, but you've already voted the song down or skipped it.  This can also be heard on non-singles albums, where overlapping intro-outro sequences abruptly cut off.

Additionally, I rarely listen to individual songs in Electronic music, and instead aim for whole sets or whole albums.  Favorite music selections among fans like me usually aren't focused on individual songs.  For this reason, Pandora is a great way to discover new music, but in terms of overall listening isn't my first choice.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Handling extremism

An excellent article on cult religious deprogramming applied to Muslim extremists.  This represents a peaceful and positive option for young people who would normally join the most hated group in America and much of the world.  It also thins the line between religious madness of dangerous cults like Jonestown with those of the 9/11 attacks.  Best of all, it takes away from what Martin Buber might have termed the otherness of what are basically angry young people.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Psychology of climate change

How do people handle something that is:
  • supported by mountains of evidence by scientists all over the world
  • very far away
  • very dire
  • probably inescapable?
With the help of some well-funded PR groups, we disbelieve that there's any problem at all.  Denial on a near-global scale.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Plugging a friend

[Edit: sadly both these sites are now offline]

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Great Mac finds

  • Unplug headphones, pause VLC or iTunes with Breakaway. Plug them back in and continue. I absolutely love this.
  • A much more indpenedant twist on iTunes, DoubleTwist allows you to connect to many different music devices, import music from Youtube, and buy music from Amazon. Didn't function with my Palm TX device, but worked beautifully with my Blackberry and an old SanDisk player. (Available for Mac and Windows)
  • Clear out all the extra install and language information with Mac applications using Monolingual. I've talked about this before but it turns out this is something you want to run every few months as software updates frequently bring with them thousands of unnecessary files. Also for space saving, don't forget Disk Inventory X.
  • Note: this program is out of date except for Limewire/Frostwire and other iTunes share clones. OurTunes lets you download music from any iTunes share. Just go to an internet Cafe where someone's sharing and grab some tunes! (Available for Mac and Windows)