Category Archives: Musings

Stupid News Articles

In today’s rendition of “stupid news articles” I have three wonderful entries found via my Google News feed. I should note that the PHP code I wrote that aggregates these articles does so outside of my Google account; in other words, the rating algorithm is not unique to me… it’s optimized for general-interest.

1458625_881634774711_1441341013_nThe first headline comes to us from USA Today (on October 17th, just after the government shutdown “ended”). Thank goodness the panda-cam is back!!! Where else would I get my daily dose of cute?

1379865_881636720811_21857182_nUp next, a riveting piece by Forbes arguing that, if you disagree with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), you must be a racist. There’s been some spectacular misinformation flying around about Obamacare, but this is just about as founded as the claim that girls have cooties.

1467315_881636740771_725116411_nFinally (and most egregious), I learned from the Washington Post that Lee Harvey Oswald was the founder of the Tea Party movement. Seriously, this one made me throw up a little in my mouth. I don’t care what you think of the Tea Party, tying any group of people to the hatred required for assassination is reprehensible.

I expect this kind of dibble from YouTube comments and Blog posts (yes, I know)… but these are all reputable, mainstream “news” organizations. I’ll end with one of my new favorite quotes:

“The irony of the Information Age is that it has given new respectability to uninformed opinion.” -John Lawton

Dear Raccoons

To the banded mammals that live off the flight line; when I’m walking home after a long day of work, please refrain from scurrying out of the bushes across my path. You may think you’re being playfully cute, but I’m running out of clean pants. Thank you for your assistance with this matter.

Office Font Comparison

As you might imagine, I’ve been spending a lot of time working with Microsoft Office 2007 lately. I really love the new interface and I’m a huge fan of the new font “Calibri“. I noticed, however, that the default document now uses “Calibri Body 11pt” rather than “Times New Roman 12pt”. I was curious why the font size shrank, so I wrote up a sample document to compare the two. Here it is.

As you can see, Calibri 11pt is a bit smaller than Times 12pt, but it feels just as readable. I think it’s the difference between a serif and sans serif font. Anyhoo… I just found this comparison interesting and thought I’d share my findings with the world.

Browserless Windows

Seriously, these out-of-control “anti-monopoly” lawsuits HAVE to stop. Not long ago the EU ruled that Microsoft’s inclusion of IE8 in their upcoming Windows 7 product is “anti-competitive behavior”. As a result, copies of Windows 7 sold in the EU will be shipped without a web browser. Let me explain why this is a MAJOR problem.

If you choose to not use Internet Explorer as your primary web browser, you must install an alternative (like Firefox or Chrome). However, what’s the most  basic way of installing them? By downloading them from the internet! If you don’t have an internet browser to begin with, you have to jump through all sorts of hoops to get one… hoops that the VAST majority of computer users have no idea how to jump through. Additionally, they can’t just Google how to do this because they don’t have a web browser to get to Google in the first place! It’s a HUGE disaster!

Why do you think Mac OS X has become such an enticing alternative to Windows? I’ll give you a hint. It has nothing to do with it being “the most advanced OS ever” (which I strongly contest). It’s not that it’s any faster or more powerful than Windows. The biggest thing OS X has going for it is that it’s an entire ecosystem that just works out-of-box. It includes a web browser, an email client, a photo manager, etc… and all of these applications play very nicely together.

Now, when Microsoft is finally getting their act together and releasing a not-horrible web browser, the technologically illiterate anti-trust lawyers come out and completely screw over the consumer by claiming that bundled software is anti-competitive. It’s disgusting, and a perfect example of our out-of-control sue-happy legal systems.

Source: CNet

I Support Free Speech…

…unless you disagree with me! Okay, so I usually do my darnedest to avoid news from Hollywood… frankly, I don’t care how “proud to be out of touch”“…I think it’s probably a good thing. We’re the ones who talk about AIDS when it was just being whispered, and we talked about civil rights when it wasn’t really popular. And we, you know, we bring up subjects… I’m proud to be a part of this community… and proud to be out of touch.”
-George Clooney
they may be. That said… this story showed up at the very top of my Google news feed and it’s got me all angsty-frustrated. Basically, a Miss America contest is being lambasted for stating (when prompted, mind you) that she believes marriage should be between one man and one woman. She made this statement very tactfully, and even said that “it’s great Americans are able to choose one or the other”. Evidently her giving an honest opinion lost her the crown.

When did it become okay to discriminate against those who share a different opinion than you? I don’t care what side of the gay marriage issue you’re on… we all need to work harder to have a spirited exchange of free speech. The power of this country is that we can disagree with each other all we want, yet still coexist in an environment of respect and toleranceMore on tolerance later… ;o).

</soapbox>

Purchasing Music

It’s controversial, many are up in arms about it, and it’s becoming ubiquitous. I’m talking, of course, about the recent cost hikes in online music. iTunes now sells music at 69¢, 99¢, and $1.29 price points (although you’ll be extremely hard pressed to find 69¢ music… most everything is now $1.29 (up from 99¢). Right on cue, the Amazon MP3 store has followed suit and now charges the same $1.29 per download. Well, here’s my solution to dealing with over-priced music downloads:

Several months ago I discovered that, if I like 1 song from an album, I generally like 2-3 more… and if I listen to the whole CD several times, another 2-3 songs start to grow on me. Considering this, I’ve started purchasing full albums from Amazon. The trick, however, is to purchase USED CDs… which are usually extremely cheap ($2.50 shipping typically dominates the cost). It doesn’t matter if the discs are a little scuffed up… good CD ripping solutions can make use of the data redundancy built into the CD specs and recover from pretty significant errors.

This way, I can get full CD quality music for ~40¢ per track. I immediately rip the CD to 256 kbps M4AMusic compressed with the M4A format is MUCH higher quality than MP3… I consider it a vastly superior file format. files and then archive the physical disc… no need to worry about backing up my downloads. Additionally, if a new file format becomes popular in the future, I still have my source media and can re-rip my collection to stay up-to-date with technology. All and all, a win-win-win solution!

Shepard Fairey

If you’ve paid attention to the news lately, you’ve inevitably heard that Shepard Fairey… the creator of the iconic Obama “Hope” image is in the midst of a lawsuit with the Associated Press over his source image. Fairey is claiming fair use while the AP is claiming damages for using an uncited photo. Personally, I side with the fair use argument but believe that derivative work, including all future reproductions of “Hope”, should include a citation to the original artist’s work unless other explicit permission has been granted.

In this case, however, I’ve stumbled across some very interesting information about Shepard Fairey. Much of the media I’ve followed (including an exposé by NPR) has painted Fairey as a champion of fair-use and open-license. He’s explicitly stated that work in the open domain should be available for derivation. Sadly, he has a strong history of hypocrisy with respect to copyright protection & artist rights.

Shepard Fairey created the following derivative work (right) based on a photograph (left) by Manny Garcia. Garcia and the AP are now seeking damages from Fairey for not citing his source or paying licensing fees.

photo-hope

However, in 2008, Baxter Orr created the following derivative work (right) based on Shepard Fairey’s original image (left). Fairy ordered a cease and desist, threatened to sue, and called Orr a “parasite”.

obey-protect

Mr. Fairey… you are not a heric icon of the fair use movement, you are nothing more than a commercialist hypocrite who is narcisistic enough to believe that you are above copyright law and basic artistic manners.

Source: Boston Globe, Wikipedia, & Consumerist

Credit Crisis

I like to think of myself as reasonably informed, but I’ve still been pretty much in the dark about how this whole “credit crisis” thing happened. Well, I just came across this excellent video that explains the situation in very down-to-earth terms. Honestly, it’s one of the more fascinating web videos I’ve seen in a long time. It certainly cleared a lot of things up for me, here’s hoping some of you might find it helpful.

The Crisis of Credit Visualized from Jonathan Jarvis on Vimeo.