The New Deadly Sins

I think there should be a new set of ‘deadly sins‘ in the modern world. No religion or government or social structure would ever own up to these, since all are equally guilty of violating them.
My short proposed list (coupled with their appropriate Virtues)

Ignorance Knowledge
Anger Acceptance or Thoughtfulness
Hypocrisy Sincerity
Arrogance Humility

If more of the world (from politicians through the guy next door) would take their lead from the right column more often than the left, wouldn’t things be better all around?

Unclear on the concept

I’m exploring some of the weather station solutions for Linux. Folks have been doing various weather stats gathering applications for Windows based machines forever, I’m curious about doing a multiple-input monitoring system that will keep track of indoor, outdoor, and water temperature, and display them on a handy screen.
It looks like one of the more popular systems is Weather Display, which conveniently has a Linux version.
Excellent, thinks I. I’ll check it out. Oh, and on their Linux page, they have a handy Getting Started guide.
Which is a link to a Microsoft Word document.
The mind boggles.

Pointcast for Linux?

Anyone remember Pointcast? Back in the late 90’s, this tool was a ‘push’ concept that downloaded headlines, quotes, stocks, and other article details to your PC and showed them in a sort of animated presentation via a screensaver. I found it fascinating. If an article or headline showed up I was interested in, I could pause the display and ask for information on that article.
With RSS feeds being available from just about every source, it just seems natural that we should be able to re-implement Pointcast using RSS feeds for data sources. I’ve seen some tools for MacOS that do thi (but only the headlines, and not really showing ‘content’, just sort of waving pretty headlines), but nothing for Linux that would actually summarize the feeds.
So who wants to write an XScreensaver plugin for this?

Psychedelic Republicans!

The latest in the Collectible Cardgame craze!

That’s right – your world is finally complete! It’s amazing wacky fun time with all-new Psychedelic RepublicansTM trading cards! Collect them all, and gaze on in helpless, pupil-dilating wonder as your favorite C-SPAN stars morph into groovy explosions of technicolor conservatism!

Moderation disabled

We’re going to give a try to running without comment moderation for a while. So folks posting / commenting on things should be able to see their posts immediately. Let me know if anything odd crops up.

Pictures from Maine

I’d like to do some more picture-sharing, so here’s a few I took last night during one of the first ‘clear’ sunsets we’ve had in weeks. Of course, as I type this, it’s thundering and raining outside (a set of storms moving through the area), but yesterday and today were great.

The lake is Horn Pond, near Acton

Pic 1
Pic 2
Pic 3
Pic 4

All images © 2005 Dave Belfer-Shevett

Orson Scott Card – Whaddadork.

Talk about fascism from your heros. I love OSC’s Sf writings – well, most of them. But his political and social views are just so far out of my league it’s boggling.
Here, Card pretty much states that fascism is the only way to reign in the horror of free speech.

Even if the allegations about Quran desecration were completely and absolutely verified, why in the world would you publish the information during wartime? It’s not that the Media themselves regard the Quran as sacred. It’s just paper to them. And surely they would have to agree that if such actions might somehow gain the cooperation of a potential source of useful information (though that seems extremely unlikely to me), it would be infinitely preferable to physical torture.

Read the entire rant at The Ornery American.
Update – I’d also recommend reading other interesting commentary regarding Card in the Kuro5hin article. Interesting stuff.

Where in the world is Dave?

Sorry for the total lack of updates lately. I can tell you about at least one of the things that’s burbling around.
This morning we accepted an offer on our house, with a closing set for July 31st.
We’re pretty excited, but also quite worn. Yay!

The J2EE vs .NET argument

I’ve had a couple conversations with people regarding .NET vs J2EE as a choice for application development and deployment. From a purely technical standpoint, the two technologies are very similar. The tools are powerful and detailed in both environments, and the end result is a distributed, object-based application platform.
But to me, taking the ‘C# is just like Java’ argument doesn’t actually address the underlying problem of a Microsoft vs Not-Microsoft solution. It took me a bit, but I think the best way to summarize it is thus:

The purpose of C# and .NET is to make money for Microsoft in tools, platform, and training sales. The purpose of J2EE is to get the job done. No one automatically gets rich when you decide to use J2EE as a platform. Which would you rather invest your time and money in, something where everything from the operating system on up to the deployment tools cost money, primarily to Microsoft, or a platform where the entire system can be designed, developed, distributed, and deployed on free software with the same level of stability and functionality? If support and training is important to you, then pay the people who know best to train you and support you, but you should not be charged just for your choice in platform.

So there.

This is so unfair.

There ought to be a law against this:

I get that there’s the whole “though April showers may come your way, they bring the flowers that bloom in May” thing, but, hey, we’re almost done with May, can we have a little sunshine? Please?
(This is actually the forecast for about 100 miles north of here where we have our Maine house. I was looking forward to going up there Friday for the Memorial Day weekend, but gosh, this isn’t looking all that wonderful.)

Radio Paradise on XM radio? Probably not

I asked on one of the Radio Paradise forums whether XM Radio would ever carry RP. I’m getting closer to picking up an XM subscription, partially for the long drives to Maine and back that’ll happen all summer, but also for my trips down to NJ and back for my client.
In the the posting, Bill Goldsmith (the man behind RP, is quoted:

Neither XP or Sirius are interested in any outside music programming. They’re both committed to doing that themselves.
No huge loss for us, really. The day of widespread wireless broadband is near at hand. Verizon already has a very nice wireless broadband service in 30 US metro areas (400+ kbps, $80/mo – click here for more info). I know of at least a couple of RP listeners who use that service to listen to RP in their cars – & one who listens regularly on Amtrak between NYC & DC, rarely losing the signal.
Over the next few years, more wireless carriers will be adding or upgrading their 3g (broadband cellular) offerings, with speeds going up & prices coming down. Many ISPs & telcos will also be jumping on the WiMax bandwagon, offering true broadband wireless services which – though primarily designed for fixed-position use – have mobile possibilities as well.
So before too much longer, there will be very few places that you won’t be able to get an Internet connection on your PDA, phone, laptop, media player, or whatever. Then – who needs some multi-billion-dollar satellite corporation? So, like I said, no huge loss really.

The problem is that I don’t think I agree with Bill’s comments.
First, there’s the problem of cost. $75 a month is too high for most people to pay.
Second is the performance. I’ve used the 1xRTT service from Verizon, and it’s not all that hot. I don’t think it would keep up with the 128k feed I normally listen to (I’m seeing functional 1xRTT speeds of between 70kbps and 90kbps), therefore I’m looking at a serious reduction in my music quality.
Third is coverage. Yes, wireless broadband may be available in most metropolitan areas, but it is hardly ubiquitous. If I wanted to listen in metro areas, there are a lot of good progressive stations around Boston. The problem is they disappear in the middle of Connecticut or the New Hampshire mountains. That’s where I want to listen.
Fourth is more of a socio-political-economic issue. I had a problem for a bit where I thought XM Radio was owned by ClearChannel, a company who, IMHO, embodies all that is evil in large corporate holdings. In fact, ClearChannel is a minority investor in XM, and does not in fact own them. While I’m still giving ClearChannel some money, I will happily give XM radio money to support stations such as RadioParadise.
However, the money I give Verizon Wireless (quite a lot MORE money in fact) will never ever see its way into Radio Paradise’ pocket. I will get poorer service, poorer signal quality, and higher overhead trying to get a WiFi hookup running in my car just to listen to a dumbed-down music feed than I would get with a $10/month $90 receiver for XM radio.
Bill, I think you need to reconsider your reasoning for not at least talking to XM Radio again.

Shure E2c Success!

Last week I braved the discount racks at Microcenter down in Cambridge for an hour or two just sort of looking to see what’s available. I would highly recommend this exercise to anyone who likes finding affordable items in the “Gosh, I could use that!” mindset.
This weeks find included a set of opened-but-new Shure E2c noise cancelling headphones for the tasty price of $69.99. These are the in-ear ‘bud’ style, which have traditionally had problems with long-term wear, not to mention no noise-cancellation ability.
The Shure headphones come with a handful of replaceable clear soft plastic and foam inserts. It took quite a while to find a mix-and-match arrangement that fit my (apparently) different sized ears. I ended up with the ‘middle-size’ plastic insert for my left ear, and one of the foam inserts for my right. This arrangement gives me a noise-cancelled environment that’s mobile, small, and plugs into my stereo jack on the laptop (Mmm, Radio Paradise), with the added bonus of being small and mobile. Oh yeah, and they sound GREAT.
The final factor will be long term wear. So far I’m going on 2 hours and they’re still quite comfortable.
Of course, there’s the drawback. They’re noise-cancelling headphones (passive, not active), which means that when the music’s off, it sounds like someone has wrapped my head in pillows. Because of the complex process of putting the headphones in, I tend to unjack it if I need to run to the bathroom or to the kitchen for more coffee or wahtever. Makes chatting in the kitchen a bit of a challenge (though normally I’m working alone, so no biggie).
So the next step is to wire up amplifying mics I can jack into personally, so I’ll have my music at the desk, and have a hearing-aid system when walking around.
My steps toward becoming Cyber-Geek continue.

Further to my anti-religion commentary…

Just to follow on to my recent posting, while reviewing James Randi’s excellent weekly column, I read a great quote from the master himself, Mark Twain

The so-called Christian nations are the most enlightened and progressive … but in spite of their religion, not because of it. The Church has opposed every innovation and discovery from the day of Galileo down to our own time, when the use of anesthetic in childbirth was regarded as a sin because it avoided the biblical curse pronounced against Eve. And every step in astronomy and geology ever taken has been opposed by bigotry and superstition. The Greeks surpassed us in artistic culture and in architecture five hundred years before Christian religion was born.