Thursday, April 07, 2011

Dear Mac Developers...

Dear Mac Developers,

I like the Mac App Store and would prefer not to have to buy software elsewhere because of the convenience, the permanence, and the ability to install already-purchased software on either of my Macs connected to the Internet. In fact, I've already held off buying software a couple of times because it wasn't available in the Mac App Store. I strongly suspect I'm not the only one who feels this way.

Thanks for your time,

Monday, February 21, 2011

Libya and Online News Streaming Video

Ever since Drudge Report started reporting that Qaddafi had fled Tripoli, I've been trying to find news. Nobody seems to be confirming this, which Drudge apparently based on a single Reuters news report about statements by a single British diplomat. CNN, MSNBC, and Fox all seem to be concentrating on Madison, Wisconsin but it turns out that Al Jazeera English Service has an online streaming web site. And it seems to be the only source of continuing coverage. I'd be grateful to find any others, but Google searches are turning up nothing for me.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

New Kindle for Mac App

I am excited to see that there's an updated Kindle client for the Mac OS. The new version allows you to access, modify, and add to your book highlights and notes. If you're reading a book that leads you to take extensive notes, it really should be easier with an actual keyboard than the virtual keyboard on the iPad or the chiclet keyboard on the Amazon Kindle dedicated reader. Neato mosquito!

Monday, September 06, 2010

"Please sir, may I have some more?"

Washington Post:  "Obama calls for $50 billion more in infrastructure spending".

Hello, my name is Barack and I am a spendaholic. I just can't quit spending money the country doesn't have. I am congenitally unable to stop throwing insane amounts of borrowed money down the rat hole. I am the most disgusting excuse for a chief executive since Jimmy Carter. I want my party to lose majorities in both houses in the 2010 mid term elections and I do not want to be reelected in 2012. Why else would I persist in being such a effing socialist?


Saturday, August 28, 2010

Digital Minimalism

This article from London Evening Standard is the second such article I've run across in the past weeks.  The idea is to completely jettison all of your stuff -- except for MacBook, iPad, and iPhone. You keep your books, music, photos on your local portable computer and "in the cloud" and you don't have anything else to weigh you down. The other article described someone more extreme: the guy had only enough clothes to fill a backpack and he kept his electronic gear, including a couple of external hard drives, in a second bag. He claimed he slept on friends' couches and didn't have his own apartment. Don't remember where I saw this article. I'm trying to decide if it reminds me of a monastic environment -- many clerical and religious orders take vows of poverty and own nothing of their own, eating and living in communion with their order. Or is it more like a kind of updated William Gibson Neuromancer (published in 1984) scenario, in which the protagonists live a hand-to-mouth existence, unwillingly forced upon them by an amphetamine addiction in which they really "exist" only in the "consensual hallucination" that is the world wide computer and communications network. These two scenarios represent light and darkness, respectively, to me but both are intriguing in some fashion.

This, along with my digital longevity post from back in May 2010, inform (or exacerbate?) my weird enthusiasm for the cloud in general and Google in particular. I could be a digital nomad if I didn't have a family and a mortgage and a job and worries about saving enough money for retirement. At least I like to imagine being one. And my MacBook, iPad, and iPhone definitely make me feel cool!  :-)  Maybe a college student has an existence like this, living in dormitories and eating in cafeterias and lugging his laptop computer to and from the library to study. I loved being a college student although the thought of actually being one again is not-so-hot. Maybe I'll take classes at the local university when I retire, if that is even possible once I get to be that age, many years from now.

P.S. If you have read Neuromancer and like it, try White Light by Rudy Rucker to induce even more dreamlife bizarreness when you sleep at night.

Friday, August 20, 2010

74 Days 'til Election Day

My, how the roles have been reversed.  Buffalo Springfield said it best:

"There's something happening here
What it is ain't exactly clear
There's a man with a gun over there
Telling me I got to beware
I think it's time we stop, children, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
There's battle lines being drawn
Nobody's right if everybody's wrong
Young people speaking their minds
Getting so much resistance from behind
I think it's time we stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
What a field-day for the heat
A thousand people in the street
Singing songs and carrying signs
Mostly say, hooray for our side
It's time we stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
Paranoia strikes deep
Into your life it will creep
It starts when you're always afraid
You step out of line, the man come and take you away
We better stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
Stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
Stop, now, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
Stop, children, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down"

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Obama is Right About the Mosque Near Ground Zero

President Obama has gotten himself into some hot water with comments he made last night about the right of Muslims to build a mosque near ground zero. Far be it from me to defend this S.O.B. in anything -- but he is right in this case. Let's get the fact said and out of the way that it is puzzling and dismaying that there are some Muslims who actually want to build a mosque near a place of shame that has been psychologically attached to their religion among the population as a whole by a relative handful of so-called "jihadists". And there is no need to explain yet again that, no thanks to Obama and his far-left administration and supporters, we still have freedom of religion in this country, at least for the time being.  (I will reluctantly pass over for now the immoral compromise of so-called "Catholic" educators and health care professionals by the glib sloganeering of the administration and its supporters and the willing incomprehension of these "Catholic" Obama supporters.) That freedom of religion makes it practically impossible and, perhaps, wrong to oppose the building of such a mosque.

The most moderate and most convincing argument I've read yet for opposing this group of Muslims in their project has been, naturally enough, the latest Friday Charles Krauthammer column in the Washington Post. The historical citation with which he lost me was the attempted link with the expulsion of the Carmelite nuns years from Auschwitz years ago. Krauthammer's attempted assertion of equivalence is unfortunate and wrong. A few years ago, Pope John Paul the Great had to roll his eyes and request the evacuation of the nuns from the Auschwitz site because some Jewish people were enraged by their presence. Krauthammer says that while it was possible for the Catholic nuns to be there, praying for the souls of the people murdered there, it wasn't right for them to be there. Two points: Krauthammer is asserting an equivalence between the Muslims, rightly or wrongly suspected of triumphalism by wanting to build a mosque near Ground Zero, and Catholic Carmelite nuns. This is difficult to take seriously. Second, he is blind to the fact that many people died at Auschwitz for who and what they were and it is (also) outrageous to arrogate a totality, as opposed to a preponderance, of victimhood by any one group. (It is worth pointing out that today, August 14, the Catholic Church observes the feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe. And that August 9 is the feast day of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. Both of whom were individuals in a vast sea of people who perished at Auschwitz for who or what they were.)

Before reading Krauthammer's column, normally a fresh breeze of sanity in DC, I did not know what to think about the controversy. Now I do:  Obama is right ... as much as it hurts me to say that.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Neologism of the Day: "Fatuosity"

From the "I kid you not" department:  NASA's primary mission, now that we don't have a manned space program anymore and no prospect of ever having one again, is to try to persuade Muslims that they're not losers.  (They're not, but that's not because they led the world in culture and learning a thousand years ago.) It's not enough to maim our nation's economy for at least a generation, The One We've Been Waiting For has now put his political appointees on the road to destroying our science and technology too. What's next, directing massive federal subsidies to Silicon Valley for enhancing the self esteem of... what's next?  What's left?  But don't worry, earnest intellectual elites, a cause will be identified.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Stupidity, Arrogance and Mulishness -- Are They All the Same Thing?

Is Obama really this stupid? Does he really not see the speeding freight train heading straight at him on election day? Does he really not comprehend that people are mad as hell?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Truman Fired MacArthur

Truman fired MacArthur. And -- more to the point -- Carter fired Singlaub. They had to. You know it. I know it.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Liberal Intelligentsia

In a Byron York piece from early this morning:  "Sestak was ineligible for job Clinton offered".  To wit:
"In a little-noticed passage Friday, the New York Times reported that Rep. Joe Sestak was not eligible for a place on the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board, the job he was reportedly offered by former President Bill Clinton.  And indeed a look at the Board’s website reveals this restriction: The Board consists of not more than 16 members appointed by the President from among individuals who are not employed by the Federal Government. Members are distinguished citizens selected from the national security, political, academic, and private sectors..."
Then about an hour ago, one of Washington DC's biggest intellectual guns tweeted:

So David Gregory is apparently actually buying the story put out on Friday afternoon that Bill Clinton offered a sitting Member of Congress an unpaid spot on a board that he would have had to give up his (safe) Democrat seat in Congress to accept.  In exchange for not challenging Arlen Spector in the primary election. Which makes David Gregory a smurf, not a pundit. Even in Washington DC.

Several minutes later, one of Washington DC's most inconsequential intellectual guns tweeted:

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Digital Longevity

I've been working on a project over the past few months to upload my family/genealogy videos to "the cloud" so as to be able to access them anywhere and to add another layer of protection against bit rot, house fire, future indifference, etc. I already have them on my home computer and also backed up to a co-located external Firewire/USB hard drive using Apple's "Time Machine" software. For offsite storage, I've subscribed to Mozy online backup for a couple of years. I highly recommend Mozy, by the way: it works automatically when you're away from your computer and keeps your data safe for $4.95 per month for unlimited storage space. Since I compulsively "print to PDF" and troll Facebook for family pictures, this is starting to add up.

But these are just disaster recovery plans. I also want to be able to access my personal stuff from anywhere while keeping it both secure and private. Privacy is paramount. Google recently added a service using "Google Docs" that allows you to upload up to 1 GB of files free-of-charge. They also offer ridiculous amounts of additional space for cheap (very cheap!), which appeals to me, on account of I'm very, er, frugal. This Google Docs space allows you to access and edit files of any type -- word processing, spreadsheets, photos, PDFs, etc. -- from anywhere. It's associated with your Gmail account so it's still yours and still secure from others.

At some point, once I have literally everything uploaded and organized, I'm thinking it might obsolete my Mozy account. But Mozy is automatic, hoovering up everything without my having to think about it. Google Docs isn't.

I've come a long way since using 100-MB "Zip" disks in the mid-1990s to back stuff up. (Which led me to lose a lot because of that infamous "click-of-death" phenomenon. I still hurt about the loss of that data, although fortunately it wasn't family/genealogy material.)

My Google space also includes Picasa for pictures and videos. The videos are converted to Flash animations but look very good. Since Flash won't display on my iPad or iPhone, I've been splitting videos into 10-minute chunks and uploading them to YouTube, which is also owned by Google. It turns out that you can designate all, some, or none of your uploaded YouTube videos as "private" instead of "public", which is what I've done. What's the advantage of YouTube over Google Docs/Picasa? Two things: (1) it's free and apparently provides practically unlimited upload space, and (2) if you upload your videos in QuickTime format, the conversion carried out automatically by YouTube results in a video that *can* be viewed on your iPad and/or iPhone!

So how do I convert my non-QuickTime videos (*.m4v, etc.) to QuickTime (*.mov) format? There is terrific and free-of-charge video "swiss army knife" (my terminology) called "MPEG Streamclip" that can be downloaded for both Windows and Mac. I've been using it to systematically change all the digital videos I had previously snarfed from DVDs using "Handbrake" (also highly recommended) to QuickTime format. (The DVDs were made using a VHS-to-DVD video player/recorder.) MPEG Streamclip can also break up long videos into 10-minute or smaller chunks, which is a requirement of YouTube.

The only glitch in all this is the small loss of video quality in each step. Someday I would like to snarf an analog-to-digital hardware filter from, say, Ebay, and use it to connect a VHS player directly to my computer.

This is definitely an addiction but surely there are worse vices to have? :-)

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Kindle App Now Available for iPad

Okay, this is significant:  Kindle App Officially Available in iTunes.

Any previous investment in time, money, personal notes and highlights in Kindle books is not lost!  This is important and I believe it may have the effect of solidifying Amazon's early lead in the ebook business.  There are two things to consider.  Pro:  Amazon is a bookstore while iTunes has a bookstore bolted onto it.  Con:  Amazon has absolutely NO quality control in its eBooks so you can easily buy books with stupid formatting mistakes, missing maps, diagrams, and photos.  As I've said before, reading fiction on the Kindle is good but reading nonfiction can be problematic.  Fortunately it is easy to get an immediate refund for defective eBooks.  Apple, on the other hand, has the reputation for insisting on high quality products and maybe, hopefully that will extend to the iTunes book store.  The production values for the online music store are quite high and this is an encouraging precedent.  The production values for the iPhone/iPod apps have been uneven but the user reviews have been useful for steering away from badly-produced apps.  Most apps are free so the bad ones can be easily discarded and even the paid apps are not all that expensive, usually running one or two dollars.  There are exceptions and the iPad apps appear to be more expensive, although still less expensive than the OS X versions.  So, without the user reviews, one would be taking a bit more of a chance with iPad paid apps.

We shall see.

If you'll permit me to go off on a tangent on the subject, I am waiting for the 3G version of the iPad to be released soon but have been playing with a Wi-Fi version today.  The device looks truly useful with a sole caveat:  it runs the iPhone OS instead of true Mac OS X.  This means that it is not a general purpose computer, although there are a lot of very interesting applications already available for it:  word processing, spreadsheet, presentations, database, Evernote, etc.  But it is not a "true computer" in at least the following sense:  it is not possible to program the computer or at least it is not immediately apparent how to do so.  This means that AppleScript, Automator, Python, Perl, shell scripting, etc. are out at least for the time being.  Which is disappointing, because I am just getting interested in AppleScript on my iMac.  There are a lot of cool services and scripts and Automator actions available for download and it would be nice to be able to putter in the same way with an iPad.

Wouldn't it be interesting if iPad sales act to shrink the notebook market?  After all, working on a notebook is cumbersome compared to working on a desktop computer with a nice big monitor.  You put up with the inconvenience for the mobility in a notebook.  If the smaller iPad is much easier to move around and it isn't any more cumbersome to use than a notebook, then who needs a notebook for most uses?

The iPad supports Bluetooth and one of the questions I have to run down is whether I can transfer photos, etc. wirelessly between my iPhone and an iPad using Bluetooth.  The first generation, at least, of the iPad does not sport a camera, although one could download personal photos from Google Picasa web albums.  There are also apparently apps that will allow you to sync your word processing documents and spreadsheets with Google Docs.

There's a lot to be interested in here and it'll take me a few weeks -- about the same amount of time that it will take for the 3G iPad to arrive -- to sort things out enough to know if the less-than-an-actual-computer iPad is a good substitute for a laptop PC.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Disjointed But Recurring Thoughts, Version 20100220

  1. I purchased 200 GB of space from Google a few weeks ago (currently $50/year) and am in the process of moving all my genealogy-related photos and videos to Picasa.  I already use Google Docs for my genealogy research.  Google keeps multiple copies at multiple locations all over the world and, it seems to me, that this is the closest I can currently come to having my genealogy work always available -- now and in the future.  Google also appears to be locating their data centers worldwide near hydroelectric power sources, so if global warming is of concern to you, I've got that covered too.  I can look this up to verify if anyone is sufficiently skeptical but I'm pretty sure I remember reading this some place.  Also, the word "immortality" keeps running through my head because the profit motive seems to be the best way of making sure my genealogy work survives indefinitely.
  2. Thoughts about the eBook reader on the upcoming Apple iPad versus my Amazon Kindle:  The Apple bookstore, presumably integrated with iTunes, will start out with a selection of about 10,000 books.  Amazon's eBook selection is currently a little less than 450,000 books.  It's going to take a lot to get me to switch but the next few years will be interesting.
  3. I hope that eBooks will eventually have DRM removed, just as DRM was removed from iTunes audio files.  If that happens, I'll keep my expanding library backed up using my worldwide, infinite future (?) Google account.
  4. I love Google.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Ben Nelson is an oinking pig.

The latest from the hoodlums running the most ethical congress in history. Ben Nelson, Mary Landrieu, Kent Conrad, Max Baucus, Chris Dodd, admitted "democratic socialist" Bernie Sanders and their sweetheart deals with Harry Reid. The leaders of our country, ladies and gentlemen.

I could find Ben Nelson's perfidy more bearable if he wasn't using the pro-life platform as the starting position from which to sell his swindle. Geez, is there ANYONE in our government who isn't amoral?

Mark your calendars: Only 315 days until the midterm elections.