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


Monday, November 21, 2011

You might not live in a democracy if...

A UC Davis Police officer Lt. John Pike pepper sprays a bunch of peaceful protesters.  I love how he looks like he's on a Sunday stroll as he puts a group of people in astonishing pain.  What a bewildering sadist.

Interview with one of the people sprayed.  Evidently the pepper spray is required to be at a minimum of 15 feet, but this looks like he was trying to paint his house.

As I'm nowhere near the situation, I can only sign the petition.  If people like this are given any kind of authority, there is no authority.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Revelations from the Penn State coverup

As sick as I am of hearing about it already, the situation has provided a variety of good things including the notion of a "nice guy" sexual predator who is nobody's friend.  Additionally, in a uniquely unfunny move, Jon Stewart attacks the riots that happened in the wake of the firing.  An outstanding response to a hideous public response indicative of a frequent and terrible institutional response to sexual abuse.  In light of how difficult sexual assault is to prosecute, a little community support would have gone a long way.  Now these kids have to deal with a riot supporting someone who looked the other way.  If their names enter the public record, are they going to get harassed?

Fortunately, RAINN has put together something for people who want to be proud of their college while still supporting the victims.  Good news.

Bullying teachers

Its nice to see a teacher getting at least suspended for bad behavior, but I recall with a surprising amount of bile the teachers who bullied me and my classmates when I was growing up.  Its not as if people walking past couldn't hear Mr. Auwen flipping out and yelling at the kids.  Its not like someone didn't already know the guy was a nutcase.

Having known school teachers, I know there's kids who will report problems just to be anti-authority or because they're angry about something else, but there was an institutional blindness to the whole thing that still very much disturbs me.  I bet someone knew this guy was unstable and didn't say anything.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Bleachbit system cleaner

An excellent community-developed free software program, Bleachbit cleans up all the space-hogging temporary files on your computer and can even wipe these files to protect your privacy.  The program isn't the most beautiful of the computer cleanup group (an award that would go to CCleaner), but its power, ability to work on Linux, and open source code make it a very reliable system tool.

Congress and Insider Trading

A look at how the rule makers don't let the rules apply to them and make a pretty hefty profit from it.  Among the other problems mentioned by the article, I can see a few more issues why this is scary.
  • Careers in public service shouldn't come with a free pass to easy money, as you're more likely to get people serving themselves.
  • Members of congress are already paid by taxpayers and paid well.
  • Regulators who make money from changes in the law are more likely to change the law even when it doesn't need it, making this a huge conflict of interest and potentially damaging.
  • Good regulation that doesn't interfere with business, but prevents environmental and economic disasters is the best ideal of government.  Issues like this make that goal even harder to achieve.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Wuala backup service review

When I purchased a LaCie drive, I got a free subscription to the Wuala service.  Although initially the program was just what I needed, I wanted to add that various problems have cropped up on my Windows XP drive.

Good things:
  1. Cheap, good upload speeds, and secure
  2. Cross-platform
  3. Reasonably easy to share files and folders from your library.  Not as simple as Dropbox.
  4. Located in Germany, which has better privacy laws than most countries

  1. High processor usage - anytime I'm uploading something, its frequently using 100% of my system.  On a modern computer, file uploads (even encrypted ones) should not require this kind of power.
  2. High disk usage - even if you set the temporary directory to only a few megs, it will still save a ton of temporary data to C:\Documents and Settings\USERNAME\Local Settings\Application Data\Wuala\Data.  I have to manually zap this whole directory every week or two.
  3. High RAM usage - about 45 megs.  This isn't too bad for machines with lots of RAM but backup programs that run in the background should be -- you know -- efficient.
  4. Frequently requires you install updates (and restart the computer) to enable the listing of a "W:" drive on your computer.  Why does this constantly need to get reinstalled?
  5. Does not support encrypted volumes (e.g. TrueCrypt).  If you use the Sync program, it will constantly get confused by your encrypted volume and try to update your files with older versions.  I don't even use the included Sync program now and have instead switched out with DSynchronize.
I'm now looking into Netdrive + Tunnelier to plug into a remote SFTP account.  Before that was a lot more work, but with Wuala's poor performance, it would probably end up a lot easier.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Making fun of Dubstep

Although I really like many entries to the genre, I definitely acknowledge its faux-hardcore edge: