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:: Thursday, February 26 2009 ::

I've gone pretty much pure geek this evening, installing the beta of Windows 7 (that's the OS that Microsoft hopes you will buy, since you didn't buy Vista, because nobody bought Vista, and so Microsoft is sad) on my gaming computer, and then installing a computer game (Team Fortress 2) on said computer, and seeing what catches fire. The guys I work with are both first person shooter (games like Doom, or Halo) players, and since they seem to enjoy it, I figured I'd give it another try and see what happens. Given that I lost much of my sophomore year in college to Doom 2, I believe I could find myself once again enjoying mindless violence.

On a side note, when I went looking for links after I wrote this post, I visited the Windows Vista homepage, which is now covered with links to information about Windows 7. It seems Microsoft would prefer you forgot Vista altogether....
:: David (19:23 in Arkansas, 2:23 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[4]

:: Wednesday, February 25 2009 ::

I've been playing with the new version of Safari, the web browser from Apple. They've released version 4 into beta, and other than being a little slow (which I'm sure will be fixed when it is released), it's a fun browser. It has this cute home page that shows you thumbnails of your favourite web pages, allowing you to quickly hop to them. Worth trying out if you're into that sort of thing.
:: David (21:36 in Arkansas, 4:36 in Paris) - Comment

:: Tuesday, February 24 2009 ::

The NY Times has the text of both Obama's speech and the Republican response, given by Gov. Bobby Jindal, an up-and-comer for the elephants. The Obama speech I will leave to you, because I expect you will read it. However, you might have skipped the response, expecting it to be the same tired cliches. In part, it was, but it also had an excellent mea culpa, which could serve the GOP well if they stick to it:

We believe the way to strengthen our country is to restrain spending in Washington, to empower individuals and small businesses to grow our economy and create jobs.

In recent years, these distinctions in philosophy became less clear. Our party got away from its principles. You elected Republicans to champion limited government, fiscal discipline, and personal responsibility.

Instead, Republicans went along with earmarks and big government spending in Washington. Republicans lost your trust, and rightly so.

Tonight, on behalf of our leaders in Congress and my fellow Republican governors, I say this: Our party is determined to regain your trust. We will do so by standing up for the principles that we share, the principles you elected us to fight for, the principles that built this in the greatest, most prosperous country on Earth.

Now, the governor is one of those folks saying he might turn down some of the stimulus money (we'll see what he actually does - maybe he'll re-read his Keynes before the money ship arrives, and change his mind). We'll see how voters react if he does so (we'll see how the stimulus does, too).
:: David (23:02 in Arkansas, 6:02 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[4]

:: Monday, February 23 2009 ::

One of the other random things we did this weekend was replace our dining room table with something that fit the space a bit better. We had always imagined that the sun room would contain a breakfast nook where we could eat in the light of the rising sun, but we had also decided the most appropriate table for the task was the one we were using as our dining room table. We wanted to get a table that could expand to fit the space of the room, and this table will, once we get some work done to it, do just that. It doesn't have leaves yet, and it needs to have some additional bolts to be able to open up, but it works as a table now, and it was about one tenth the price we had been expecting to pay, so we couldn't pass it up. If we ever decide to move to a smaller house, we are doomed.
:: David (21:59 in Arkansas, 4:59 in Paris) - Comment

:: Sunday, February 22 2009 ::

We've been following the Oscars online in text form, as they don't seem to believe the internet is real, and as such aren't streaming the show anywhere. That hasn't stopped the youtubers from posting some of the choice bits (watch 'em now - they'll be gone soon, I bet). Nothing particularly exciting, as far as I can tell, but since everyone will probably be talking about it tomorrow I figure I should at least be aware.

I've also changed the way the blog lays out a little bit, so if anything looks weird, I'll try to fix it.
:: David (22:14 in Arkansas, 5:14 in Paris) - Comment

While wandering the internet randomly this eve, I ran across a site which allows people to vote, up or down, funny conversations people have posted from chat rooms. The site is in French, and many of the conversations are in txt msg speak, so I occasionally had no idea what was going on. Then I saw this entry:

ben: ken jv ver lisieux prand mon zinc jv direcssion caen jpa vr lmon t ?
Hevaya: Oui
* ben has quit.
Evius: Il a dit quoi ?
Hevaya: Je sais pas.
and I felt better.
:: David (2:03 in Arkansas, 9:03 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[2]

:: Saturday, February 21 2009 ::

We had a giant party to celebrate the birthday of one of Sasha's colleagues. There was music, dancing, and hundreds of pieces of sushi. Overall, a good time which wrapped up around 3 in the morning. So I expect today will be a little slow, overall. That said, we have another birthday brunch to head to here in a bit, and there's the possibility of taking in a movie (at an actual theater) before all is said and done. We'll see how adventuresome we're feeling - this could all end up in a nap, instead - though I do have to say I don't feel old yet, throwing thumping parties.
:: David (11:56 in Arkansas, 18:56 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[2]

Slashdot has been following the trial of the folks who run the Pirate Bay, a website which allows people to find torrent files to download things like movies and tv shows. The trial has been fairly straightforward, but has had its moments:

In one humorous moment, prosecutor Hkan Roswall tried to show how 'hip' he was with technology when he questioned defendant Peter Sunde. 'When did you meet [Gottfrid] for the first time IRL?' asked the Prosecutor. 'We do not use the expression IRL,' said Peter, 'We use AFK.'
The founders of the site at one point had to put out an appeal to their supporters to not hack the websites of the people who had brought charges. Overall, it's not clear who will win - there are quite a few legal hairs to split. And in the end, the results will only matter in Sweden. So we can play this game over 200 more times before it's done.
:: David (11:47 in Arkansas, 18:47 in Paris) - Comment

:: Wednesday, February 18 2009 ::

Kudos to attorney general Eric Holder, for putting it bluntly: "Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and I believe continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards". His assertion, made in a speech commemorating black history month, is hard to deny. It's shocking, and bizarre, to think about how much de facto segregation still exists. And it's oddly difficult to rectify - it would seem weird, for example, to actively seek friends of other races. All I can think of is Stephen Colbert's black friend. So that's where we are. Where do we go?
:: David (20:29 in Arkansas, 3:29 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[1]

There are some definite advantages to living in the South, not least of which is the growing season, which seems to run from February through November (at which point it gets slightly chilly). The first of the flowers came up some time last week, with more on the way. We're also getting the first round of planting out of the way - we have so far planted two peach trees, and have a plum tree waiting to go in. It's not totally clear when we'll see fruit from them, but if our lime tree is any indication they'll get on it as soon as they are able.

Spring will also hopefully lead to a decline in the number of beasties seeking shelter in our house. We came home last night to find Mina in a room she doesn't usually hang out in, staring at the wall. When she started to wriggle her way under a very low slung shelf I was confused until I heard the scrabbling. And then the chaos broke, as another flying squirrel was chased all over the upstairs. I speculated the holes made in the wall to run the network cable might have been at fault, but it's hard to say, given how porous our house seems to be. Mina had gotten a good swipe in on this guy, so hopefully he'll tell his friends to stay away, but I think I'll try to seal the house a bit more, rather than rely on rodent word of mouth.
:: David (19:41 in Arkansas, 2:41 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[1]

:: Tuesday, February 17 2009 ::

The Japanese Finance Minister has resigned, about a week after apparently appearing drunk at the G7 meeting. His claim: cold medicine. But when former prime ministers are saying you have a drinking problem, it's probably time to go (though given Japan's former prime ministers, I'm not sure who they are to talk).
:: David (7:37 in Arkansas, 14:37 in Paris) - Comment

:: Monday, February 16 2009 ::

If there is anything more nerve wracking than having people work on your house, I don't know what it is. There are two electricians upstairs right now running CAT5 (network cable) through the house, and it makes me nervous as all get-out. Which is why I'm blogging, so I'll stay out of their way. Hopefully at the end of the day our Mac will have super-awesome-high-speed internets (rather than iffy sometimes on wifi internets). But seeing people with giant saws going through the house just makes me... uncomfortable.
:: David (9:35 in Arkansas, 16:35 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[3]

:: Friday, February 13 2009 ::

I have no idea how I got there (maybe via here and here?), but I ran across this neat map which was apparently published originally in National Geographic, which shows where the single people live in America. Weirdly, it looks like you choose a coast based on your sex.
:: David (7:25 in Arkansas, 14:25 in Paris) - Comment

:: Thursday, February 12 2009 ::

Cheap tip number 28 million or something: instead of buying a new computer, build it yourself! Gizmodo links to the article on Lifehacker titled The First Timer's Guide to Building a Computer From Scratch. The article also offers a better reason than saving money for building your own computer: "building your own PC makes you feel like a badass."
:: David (7:13 in Arkansas, 14:13 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[1]

Two satellites collided yesterday, which, while interesting, isn't nearly as much fun as the NASA (my tax dollars at work!) animation of the event included in the story.
:: David (7:07 in Arkansas, 14:07 in Paris) - Comment

The New York Times suggests Dubai may become another victim in the global economic collapse. In the article, they list several pieces of evidence which indicate structural problems, like the halting of new buildings, and the flight of indebted foreigners who would face debtor's prison if they didn't leave.
:: David (7:03 in Arkansas, 14:03 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[1]

:: Wednesday, February 11 2009 ::

There's a terrific article up on Slashdot about how wikipedia makes reality. After a German politician's name was incorrectly noted on wikipedia, news organizations picked up the incorrect name. So when people on wikipedia asked for proof of the incorrect name, someone cited one of the major news organizations (which had used wikipedia's incorrect name) as proof that the name was correct. Ow my head.
:: David (12:18 in Arkansas, 19:18 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[1]

:: Tuesday, February 10 2009 ::

I spent a little bit of time taking a picture of dinner tonight, and then two hours writing a program to automatically resize the image and upload it to the server. It was something I'd been meaning to do for a while, but had never got around to. Heaven only knows if I'll even remember to use it the next time I have a picture I want to post! This is life as a computer nerd - you know the computer can do it for you, so you spend three times as long as you needed to make it so.
:: David (23:52 in Arkansas, 6:52 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[2]

Israel votes today, choosing between hard liners and... other hard liners. The dark horse is apparently an extra hard liner, so I'm sure the peace process will be moving forward any day now.
:: David (7:40 in Arkansas, 14:40 in Paris) - Comment

Le Monde had a fascinating article on the carbon footprint of orange juice yesterday, along with a cool infographic. The numbers were interesting - I don't know if surprising is the right word, because I don't really have a reference. Is 1.7 kg of CO2 a lot? Which also makes the folks who commissioned the research interesting: Pepsi. Apparently there's a debate going on among manufacturers and producers about whether this info goes on the package. I love the idea, and I'm sure we'll see it here in the US about the time our houses go under from the ice caps.
:: David (7:21 in Arkansas, 14:21 in Paris) - Comment

I can't remember if I mentioned this: it seems after the big ice storm down here, FEMA shipped food packages to help those in need. Too bad about the tainted peanut butter contained in those packages! Now they've shipped down new, salmonella-free meals.
:: David (7:15 in Arkansas, 14:15 in Paris) - Comment

:: Saturday, February 7 2009 ::

There's a great article up on, of all places, time.com, about the use of Auto-Tune in music. They also have a podcast with some audio examples of the tool, which is used either to correct a singer's pitch, or to do crazy sound effects by people like Cher, or more recently, everyone.
:: David (11:28 in Arkansas, 18:28 in Paris) - Comment

:: Friday, February 6 2009 ::

He may be crazy, but it must have been an amazing trip: an Italian tourist wandered, all by himself, into Falluja, Iraq, to see the sights. The story of his visit to Iraq, and the reaction of people meeting an unguarded western tourist visiting the country, is well worth reading. He's headed home now, having been encouraged by, well, pretty much everyone, that he would be safer at home.
:: David (22:51 in Arkansas, 5:51 in Paris) - Comment

The entirety of the UK has been brought to its knees for nearly a week now by what some would call 'massive snowfall'. If the economic crisis don't get you, global warming will.
:: David (6:30 in Arkansas, 13:30 in Paris) - Comment

:: Wednesday, February 4 2009 ::

I have to admit, this whole 'Iran has rockets that go into space' thing is interesting. You need to pick a direction and go with it pretty quickly if you hope to deal with it - either head in or get diplomats in ASAP. Israel has apparently called for more sanctions, but that seems a not-very-useful step, given what sanctions have done thus far (i.e. enabled Iran to build a space rocket).
:: David (7:34 in Arkansas, 14:34 in Paris) - Comment

:: Monday, February 2 2009 ::

The NY Times has done research which indicates that welfare may not be working as it should. I am not exactly surprised. I was however interested in the mechanics of what is and is not working - specifically, things which the state governments are not forced to pay as much for (e.g. food stamps) are behaving as expected, growing with the economic downturn. But several states (including Michigan, land of the unemployed) have cut their welfare rolls even as the economy headed over a cliff.

One of the aspects of welfare that has always been absurd to me was the 5 year lifetime limit. It's simply not possible that everyone who needs help will need it for less than 5 years. If you look at economic downturns just since, for example, 1980, it's easy to see how people could have run up against that limit. Add in the fact that aid is limited almost exclusively to single mothers, who are always going to be less attached to the labour force, and you have a real mess (and a second mess in the form of children who aren't supported when you throw their mothers off welfare).

It was vaguely interesting to see people who would not ordinarily support welfare recognizing that it doesn't work. Said one of the architects of the welfare overhaul in the '90's "The overall structure is not working the way it was designed to work. We would expect, just on the face it, that when a deep recession happens, people could go back on welfare."
:: David (19:01 in Arkansas, 2:01 in Paris) - Comment

:: Sunday, February 1 2009 ::

Simply shocking - seems a certain Olympic swimmer was caught on film hitting a bong. I'm sure you're all as shocked as I am.
:: David (18:23 in Arkansas, 1:23 in Paris) - Comment

The Icelanders have also taken a historic step in choosing their leader: Jhanna Sigurardttir will become the first openly gay Prime Minister. While Icelandic news notes "This also marks the first time in Icelandic history that there has been an equal portion of men and women as ministers, as well as a female Prime Minister", the American and British media seem to be a little stuck on her sexuality. Regardless, if she can get Iceland going again, that will be enough.
:: David (11:57 in Arkansas, 18:57 in Paris) - Comment

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