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Showing posts from July, 2010

The more I know people

Orlando Diary

There's an interesting article on Ars Technica that discuses about what separates us from other animals and makes us uniquely human. Attributes cited in the past include our use of tools, our use of language, and our domestication of animals and farming. Now, it looks like there's another, more fundamental attribute, that just so happens to underpin and tie all of this together: our "animal connection".

According to this new theory our connection with animals started nearly three million years ago, when we first invented stone tools and used them to hunt other animals. We had to learn about animals to effectively hunt them, and we also had to learn about the other animals that were our competition, the other carnivores. It was that understanding that helped the next stage, the domestication of animals (tied with farming). Our understanding of animals also  provided inspiration for our first use of symbology (such as the Palaeolithic cave paintings). Anc…

Burying the world around us

Orlando Diary

Call me a tree-hugging, left-leaning enviro-kook, whatever will make you feel superior. Starting with this post I'm going to add a new tag and subject; the environment. It'll start with what I shocking about Orlando, and then add links to articles about the Bigger Picture around the world.

Living in Florida since 1984, I've seen too much change; whole swathes of the land mowed down and covered with massive development (parking lots, shopping centers, highways, subdivisions...), all in the name of economic growth and progress.

The photo on the right was taken while out walking to a sub shop close to where I work. It was lunch time. What caught my eye was the contrast of the billboard standing about the trees, trees which had been trimmed to give full exposure to the billboard, with it's admonition to eat less and exercise more, standing over a street full of supersized vehicles with just one driver/vehicle, who probably never gave the billboard and its mes…

So long, OpenSolaris

I'm on record (see "OpenSolaris is here to stay" from May 2008) as saying that OpenSolaris was here to stay, and even thrive, as an open alternative to Linux. Unfortunately, some two years later, it now looks like history is ready to prove me wrong.

I really wanted OpenSolaris to succeed. Up until 2007 I was a pretty happy proponent of Linux, preaching its benefits and the joy of using various distributions such as openSUSE, Ubuntu, and Mandriva. But some time around the middle to latter part of 2007, Linux's overall quality began to decline; updates to distributions released in the early part of 2007 (openSUSE 10.2, Ubuntu 7.04) were suffering breakages in various packages and the loss of certain capabilities. I became less enchanted with my distributions of choice. Then I stumbled onto OpenSolaris, specifically the Project Indiana Developer Preview, which I wrote about.

Later in 2007 I ran a mini-comparison between openSUSE 10.3, Ubuntu 7.10, Fedora 8, and the same…

Apple: Too successful to really care anymore

Apple's been in the news lately, starting earlier this year with it's loss of an iPhone 4 prototype in a bar, through the release of the iPhone 4, the iPad, Antennagate and finally the latest story; the librarian of Congress rules that it's OK to jailbreak your iPhone (and just about any other device you purchase).

Before we go wallowing about in our Schadenfreude over Apple's apparent missteps, let's all take a moment to reflect upon the following important fact concerning Apple: in July 2010 Apple reported fiscal third quarter net income of $3.25 billion, or $3.51 a share, on revenue of $15.7 billion. Woah!

No matter how much Apple is disliked in certain quarters, or how disenfranchised you may feel over not being able to do with your iToy as you see fit (and I raise my hand to signify my displeasure), Apple is so popular right now they can't make product fast enough to satisfy demand, especially in the portable device market, especially with their iPhone 4 a…

Ten Reasons to Ignore Ten Reasons to Dump Windows and Use Linux

There is a tradition amongst the hard-core Linux aficionados to extol Linux's various virtues as a list of 10 or more reasons to substitute (as in "dump") an existing Windows installation with Linux. There's no reason to point them all out; a simple Google search ("10 reasons to use Linux") will provide you with such lists stretching back through the years, as well as hours of entertainment.

One very recent list caught my eye over the weekend, published by PCWorld. Their article, "Ten Reasons to Dump Windows and Use Linux", seems to have hit a nerve with me. Normally I just ignore such journalistic pap, since the majority of it comes courtesy of one ill-informed blog or another (such as this one). But in this instance a "real" publication put some time and journalistic "credibility" into this list, which places it in front of a wider audience than the typical blog poist (again, such as this one).

So let's consider all ten p…

The state of my world

Orlando Diary

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

KJV, Genesis 1, verses 26-28

Since April 22nd I have been watching with a a growing sense of horror as Transocean's Deepwater Horizon exploded, sank, and left a well spewing millions of barrels of raw crude into the Gulf. The disaster has been a constant part of CNN, with a live link to the spewing well place on CNN's front page since late April. It's just been …

Dealing with Life

Orlando Diary

Sometimes, when you're engaged in some fora flamewar frenzy over which brand or model of camera/lens/whatever is superior to all others, you tend to forget why you bought your gear in the first place: to photograph life around you.

When you photograph life around you, you take what life gives you. All too often we obsess over what we believe to be important to creating the "perfect" photograph; perfect exposure, focus, sharpness, and perfection in the subject chosen. So why not just point and shoot, and let serendipity play an important part. Sometimes you wind up with a photograph that fails in all these areas yet is satisfying in whole, and captures an illuminating moment of your life.

Sometimes life shows you real people, in awkward circumstances neither you nor they wish you were a part of. But then there you are, working your way through an awkward situation to find a resolution. Sometimes it ends happily, sometimes it doesn't. More often it ends i…

Whither FourThirds?

Over the last few days (and more generally since early December 2009), rumors have been running rife across that infinite echo chamber known as the Internet that Olympus was just a hairs-breadth away from completely abandoning regular FourThirds and moving whole-sale over to MicroFourThirds. And it has gotten louder over time to the point that nearly everybody, from rumor sites to fora, keep repeating this claim incessantly. Why is everybody making such wildly adamant claims?

First, there's the current state of the market for 4/3rds cameras vs µ4/3rds cameras. Panasonic, Olympus' initial 4/3rds partner, has introduced a slew of µ4/3rds models since the standard's initial announcement in 2008. Olympus itself has introduced its third µ4/3rds model, the E-PL1. By all accounts both Olympus and Panasonic can't make them fast enough. Micro 4/3rds is so popular in the Japanese market that according to the latest statistics out of that market mirrorless interchangeable lens ca…

iOS4 on an iPod Touch 2nd generation isn't such a great match

I upgraded my iPod Touch 2G to the latest software out of Cupertino about two days after it was announced. I'd tried to install after the official release date, reasoning it was better to wait to avoid the rush. I shouldn't have bothered. It took nearly six (yes, six) hours to backup, update, and restore my Touch. This is with the latest iTunes on a Dell Latitude D630 with Windows XP SP3 and 4GB of DRAM (of which Windows only sees 3.5GB). And we're talking a dual-core T7700 running at 2.4GHz. With nVidia graphics. It's no barn-burner, but it's no netbook slouch either.

After spending the good part of the day waiting for my Touch to upgrade, I was finally treated to the wonderfully crippled iOS4 user experience. I got old and busted hardware, so no multitasking and no fancy wallpapers (even though I could select one in preferences) for me.

The only new feature I seemed to get was the transparent doc at the bottom (bit deal) and the equivalent of folders, which I cal…

How much is camera gear supposed to cost?

Orlando Diary

This isn't a review of camera gear, so much as a personal editorial. I intend to review the M.Zuiko 17mm on Matthew's Reviews in the very near future. For now, I just wanted to write some editorial content about the cost of camera gear, something that might not be appropriate on Matthew's blog.

For personal as well as financial reasons, I've always been something of a cheapskate. I can dress that up by saying I believe in the power of value buying, but it all comes down being "a person who is reluctant to spend money."

And why shouldn't I be reluctant to spend money, especially on today's digital gear? The pace of development is so rapid in digital photography that your new shiny is obsolete even before you purchase it for use. That's because by the time your future piece of gear hits the market, the manufacturers have at least one, and possible two, new generations right behind it, driven by what was learned to manufacture the camer…

Steve Jobs - Revenge of the Fallen

When I read about the crazy antics involved in getting applications into the App Store, or how the end-user license was literally re-written for iOS 4 to keep Adobe CS5 off the platform, or lately, how Apple is removing any mention of Consumer Reports "can't recommend" recommendation of the iPhone 4, because of the fundamental flaw in the iPhone 4's antenna... I have to wonder how much longer we'll have to put up with the little Jobs monster. Whatever respect and admiration I had for Steve Jobs and Apple is now completely gone, burned away by his vengeful antics against the system that forced him out of Apple in the later 1980's.

Hailed as the savior of Apple when he returned to, and took over Apple again in 1998, Jobs was going to return Apple back to greatness and give us all cool new digital toys to play with. This was back when the anti-Microsoft sentiment (the trial started on May 18, 1998) was peaking. Jobs wasn't just seen as the savior of Apple, b…

And it just keeps getting grimer

14 Trillion Dollars — or about $47,000 for every man, woman, and child living in the US. That's how much we'll owe next year at the current rate of spending coupled with the current rate of revenue decline due our crippled and nearly-bankrupt economy.

We can no longer find a given politician or political party to hang this on. This profligate spending has been going on for so long that we're all responsible for the current economic collapse. We don't have the ability to spend out way out of this mess, because we've been borrowing so heavily against the future for so long we've run out of time - the future is now. We've spent it all, and then some.

It's not just the national debt we have to worry about, but the large overhanging personal debt we've wracked up since the 1980's, when we first elected Ronald Reagan and we learned that greed was good.

You continue to see the results of the ongoing Great Recession in spite of the tepid "recovery&…

A change of design

Yes, it looks - strange. I got really tired of the years-old hacked-up design.When I went looking for ways to tweak what I had, Blogger didn't even have it listed anymore. So I went tramping through most of what they had, and tried to find something that would give me most of what I had with the old and busted.

Oh. That's 'bokeh' on the side. I'm sure that someone will come along and tell me how bad it is; but since I didn't take it, I don't really care.

I'm not sure if this will stay or if I'll try something new. But you never know until you try. If you feel this can be improved, please leave a (polite) comment.


Well, I think I'm going to like this style. It's open and less complicated than the former mess I called a style. What's more, Blogger added a feature I had to add by hand; the category cloud is now a built-in to Blogger.

To My Personal Asian Blog Comment Spammer

Bugger off. I don't know when I picked up your sorry self, but I wish you'd just fall back off. You've been persistently attempting to add comment spam to my blog for over a month now, and every time you add a comment, it gets deleted before it ever shows up in the comments. Don't you get it? Or are you that stupid?

Yes, I think you're that stupid.

In the mean time I've got simple filters set up to kick your sorry trash to the digital curb of the information super highway (now there's a cringe-worthy phrase I bet you haven't heard in quite a while).

Edit 8 July

Hit a nerve, did I?

Ruby Comes Home

We traveled up to Gainesville this past Saturday (3 July) to pick Ruby up from the Small Animal Hospital. She'd been there since Judy dropped her off Monday.

Although it was a Saturday, the day started off early and tense; we had to check Ruby out by 9:30am at the hospital, so I had to be on the road no later than 7:30am in Orlando. Which meant getting up around 6:45am, like a regular work day. What made it more complicated than a regular work day is that my wife and oldest daughter wanted to ride along as well. I could certainly understand that, as it was the two of them that delivered Ruby to Gainesville the prior Monday.

I drove the whole way non-stop. This was also a bit unusual, as Judy likes to stop at various rest areas on a road trip to get out and stretch. But nothing was said about stopping, although we certainly talked a bit on the way up just to keep me alert.

The trip up I-75 was quick and uneventful; no traffic accidents in Ocala as there are wont to be, especially o…