Saturday, August 30, 2008

Thirteen Days

Thirteen Days is an excellent movie. That is all.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Advice for people joining new startups

This is *great* advice. I wish I had known this back in my startup days:
"So you're gonna code the whole thing..."

Monday, August 25, 2008

HD radio sucks

I just heard an ad for HD Radio, and consequently looked up the Wikipedia article. Bottom line: it looks very much like iBiquity rigged a sweet deal with the FCC to force everybody who uses HD Radio to license their patents.

Better yet, they're all lined up to sell radio stations gear for transmitting encrypted, subscription-based digital channels.

The biggest problem with all of this is that wireless "spectrum" is like the air we breathe: it's a Public Good and we can't make any more of it. Everybody can benefit from sending and receiving radio waves, and it's obscene how little space the government has made available to you and me. We get tiny little slices of less-valuable parts of the spectrum, and the rest gets divvied up to powerful companies who sell us access to it (cell phone companies, satellite TV), use it to advertise at us (radio and television) or use it internally to their own ends (fleet management, etc.).

Fortunately, Google is trying to educate people about the matter generally, and specifically trying to get public access to the spectrum coming up for grabs when analog TV stations shut off early next year: Free the Airwaves!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Pegging packages in debian and ubuntu

I have a .deb package I built from sources, but I found that after installing, when I ran "apt-get upgrade" or "apt-get dist-upgrade" it wanted to reinstall the stock package. It took some searching, but I found the answer here:

To prevent a package from being upgraded,

$ sudo echo packagename hold | dpkg --set-selections

Friday, August 15, 2008

Foxconn sucks

Foxconn sabotages Linux in their BIOS. Wow, Foxconn sucks. Definitely a brand to avoid in the future.

Netflix FAIL

Wow. So, I logged in to my Netflix account specifically to thank Netflix for publicly owning up to their recent shipping problems.

But they don't provide any actual way to contact the company except over the phone (hold time: 7 minutes). So now I'm pissed and highly inclined to cancel my account. Way to piss off a happy customer.

Also, if you're going to only accept inquiries via telephone, at least state that up front (but that sucks; why should I wait on hold?). Don't make me manually crawl your site looking for a contact form.

If you want to actually make your customers happy, put up an email address. Not a web form, an email address. (Would you want your account reps to have to visit a different website for every response they ever send? Neither do I want to stumble around on your website for 20 minutes to find some crappy form to type in a message.)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Praise for find

I think this might be the most helpful warning message I've ever encountered:

$ find -name 'foo/bar'
find: warning: Unix filenames usually don't contain slashes (though pathnames do). That means that '-name foo/bar' will probably evaluate to false all the time on this system. You might find the '-wholename' test more useful, or perhaps '-samefile'. Alternatively, if you are using GNU grep, you could use 'find ... -print0 | grep -FzZ foo/bar'.

How to buy a new car and not get screwed

Great 5 minute video on how to buy a new car without getting screwed.

The language of discourse

I think we need to be wary of the new vocabulary that has been appearing of late. Words like "detainee", "harsh interrogation" and "lockdown".

When did we ever get to vote on whether to have privately owned prisons?

Ill and in Pain, Detainee Dies in U.S. Hands

A plea for compromise

Political discourse today seems to be dominated by polarized arguments and emotional appeals.

I got a message the other day promoting offshore drilling titled "Liberals block effort to help solve the energy crisis." The message closes with: "It is time that our 'leaders' put our families first!"

Wait a second. Preventing offshore drilling is an attack on the family? The sitting 8-year Republican president just now issued an executive order authorizing drilling, but the liberals are to blame for why we didn't do it years ago?

I have no idea what the right solution to the offshore drilling problem is, or even what the most important tradeoffs are. But I'm pretty sure it's not a vast left-wing conspiracy to attack the family.

Before I support an issue, I want to know both sides of the issue. I want to see the 2 pundits on the news show say things like:

pundit 1: "well, I support offshore drilling, but I know it comes at a significant ecological cost and so I can see why you'd oppose it"

pundit 2: "but you're totally right about the horrible human costs of importation from the middle east! So I'd like to see the 30% of the sites that have the lowest environmental impact be opened up, since they also happen to be the biggest ones."

pundit 1: "yeah, I think that's a great compromise. I'd set it higher, but now we're just splitting hairs."

Monday, August 04, 2008

Pineapple Express review

Just saw a sneak preview, and I wasn't very impressed. Too gory, and they were trying too hard. They had some great gags (one of the better of which they gave away in the trailer, unfortunately), but a lot of unnecessary gore as well, and a lot of overdoing the stoned scenes.