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


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Buddhism in popular media

An episode of an excellent Batman animated movie from a few years ago tackles many topics in Buddhism and Philosophy including women's role in religion, justice and non-violence, suffering and attachment.  Written by Brian Azzarello.

Various funny pics

Found these fine links on a website called PearlTrees from a user named wheezingdemon.  Still new to the service, I have no idea how to link to this person.

Stupid patent lawsuit

So a company (I can't tell if its related to Cygnus, who merged with Redhat) is suing big companies for the most obvious of computer operations: an image preview of files inside a directory.  Its a stupid on par with Amazon's one click purchase patent (addressed by the link author).

Monday, November 29, 2010

The future is actually going to be Linux?

Although its become a joke, many optimists still say "this is the year of the Linux desktop" and this year may have seen their dreams come true in maybe a way they didn't expect.  I've been watching the Google OS for quite some time, but maybe more impressive is the predicted dominance of Android in the coming market.  Not only is it a commercially viable Linux product, but one that is expected to take over phones as well as tablets.

Watching Microsoft throw away around a billion dollars when the Kin project failed followed by producing their new web browser that doesn't run on the most popular operating system in the world makes me wonder where their priorities are.  It seems they're focused on a strategy more similar to Apple's than on the ubiquity of Windows operating system.  As mobile devices increasingly take the place of PCs and laptops, mobile devices will increasingly become the tools we rely on.

In terms of stability, Android's open internals based on a solid operating system pull it far in front of Palm and Blackberry (I have both, and both are very crashy).  Apple carries similar stability but its higher price, small hardware selection, and one-carrier-only selection puts them at a disadvantage.  The iPhone has had other problems including short battery life, poor phone reception, and other hardware issues.  Fundamentally the thing is a phone and not addressing this first and foremost is absurd.

So Android is a phone that doesn't shy away from hackers and tweakers?  An app store that doesn't have an until recently totally mysterious and indecipherable (and still not great) system for accepting submissions?

Negatively, the Android system has not made life easy for developers, the real heart of any "smart" device.  Using an open system with a wide variety of hardware without clear standards has created a fragmented OS base that has some of the same problems as the many distributions of Linux (SuSE, Redhat, Ubuntu, etc.)  Still, if Android can address this confusion, its going to be difficult to buy anything else.

Maybe the hardest fucking game ever

Some of those early Nintendo games were genuinely, really, way over-difficult.  In thanks to them...

"A sardonic loveletter to the halcyon days of early American videogaming, packaged as a nail-rippingly difficult platform adventure" (homepage)

Although someone has beaten this game, this guy didn't.

(Thanks W)

I hate Zimbra (for Mac)

Although the program proved very useful for a long time, after several weeks of not actively using it, I decided to uninstall it. 

This page has a nice uninstall script that didn't work.  Using my tech-jitsu I was able to delete the extra crap, but this was a non-simple process.  (For those that are curious, run script, then move /zimbra folder to /opt where it will mysteriously disappear.)  Someone who was not as technically inclined would still have this huge program still taking up space on their machine.

As a reminder to myself and a warning to the 4 people who might come across this blog entry: make sure you install to the default folder.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Petting instructions

Some helpful tips for petting cats. (thanks silver)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Upgrade fever!

The tendency in games to push you through endless upgrade procedures even to get the game up to adequate levels is parodied in the excellent Upgrade Complete game where you buy -- not just components for your ship -- but menu buttons, music, a mute button for the music, and even the hilarious ending.

The game itself is actually quite dull compared to the upgrade procedure, but that doesn't take away from the fun of the experience.

How do you pay for something that's free?

The issue came up recently for me when I asked a Russian game developer how I could thank him financially for one of the best games I've ever played.  He said don't worry about it, but the issue still bothers me.

Obama and Truman

An article on Huffington comparing the two, along with a favorable review of Obama.

I'm divided on this argument, simply because its the "history will judge this situation" that's meaningless right now.  On the other hand, to make real changes, a perspective into the future and a gradual development towards a goal seems like a wise course, especially when we're talking about government.  Still, Obama's "change we can believe in" slogan didn't mean change years from now.

Picture credit.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Piece of metal to cool down a laptop

I literally found this while walking home one day: its a small piece of flat metal with holes in the lower part.  I set it underneath my laptop to help draw heat away from the device.

Over time, a cooler computer will last longer and work more reliably, so its the cheapest laptop accessory I carry.

The state of LED bulbs

An interesting and mostly positive overview of a growing trend. (thanks Silver)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Movie Review: Salt

Someone said it for me, although I'd give it fewer stars.

Note that in Salt II, Jolie's character will fly up into the atmosphere and spin the planet backwards, mysteriously making everything go back in time as if the rotation of the earth had fuck all to do with time moving forward.

Stewart and Carlin

An excellent George Carlin interview with a very young Jon Stewart. (thanks Kim)

Its the only interview Carlin mentions in his book "Last Words."

Ted Koppel on news bias

A great article from Ted Koppel commenting against opinion news for profit.

"What we really need in our search for truth is a commodity that used to be at the heart of good journalism: facts - along with a willingness to present those facts without fear or favor."

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Cultural clash(ing)

A little outdated but very much in the spirit of George Carlin, Bill Maher talks about the death threats of South Park for depiction of Muhammad.  In doing so, he also points out that -- as much as we all want to get along -- some cultural elements may be genuinely incompatible.

Monday, November 15, 2010

What's an "Ogg Vorbis"?

You may never have tried to play a file ending in "OGG", but you'll likely be using the software behind it soon.  Google's new high-end VP8 video format endorsed by Mozilla and others is an open format video format that uses the long standing open audio format.  The #2 audio player maker SanDisk already supports OGG in most of its playersNow OGG music will run without any additional downloads or plugins inside Firefox, Chrome, and many other programs, including Android cell phones.

This brings up the question, will Ogg take over where MP3 left off?  Although it works on almost every audio player in existence, many other formats are lined up to take its place with dramatic space savings, support for surround sound, and other features, there's some strong resistance from Apple.  Their devices use a drastically different format and likely will never support Ogg.  Apple CEO is actively against the format, both for patent, technology, and of course his own interest in owning MP3's successor.

Hopefully Google's backing and the (so far) very strong success of open formats in determining technology standards will stand up to a legal assault by Apple.

Mixxx DJ software

Remarkably easy and intuitive DJ software that's also open source and runs on Mac, Windows, and Linux.  If you've ever been curious about how its done or wanted to try your hand, this is a perfect way.

Big thanks to the authors and contributors of this great freeware.

Rachel Maddow interviews Jon Stewart

An excellent look at how Jon Stewart views himself, his views of right-versus-left in the media, and his recent "restore sanity" rally.

I will not be flying anytime soon

If you want to take a plane you get to pick:
  1. Humiliating pat down you would probably get if you were a convicted arsonist
  2. X-rays that are very likely bad for your health that the pilot's union is actively telling its members not to use
I've heard about this from too many sources and too many awful stories to think this is anything but total shit.  Its unfortunate there's no 3rd option coming out of the TSA.  Meanwhile I think I'll stay home for the holidays.