2006.05.30

Tribe Wanted

03.57.39 - Mark

TribeWanted looks like an insanely neat project. I've talked before about how for the technology geek in me, I love cutting my connection to the net and heading out into the wilderness to recharge. I can't think of anything that twist those two passions better than an hybrid community that use the internet to tie itself together as it builds a sustainable physical presence on an island in Fiji. I would love to be among the first tribe members to hit the beach and build the beach huts.

Hummm...

Via Boing Boing
LA Times Article

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2006.05.25

Small changes

19.57.59 - Mark

Google is a little annoyed with me for the way I was supposedly supporting click fraud and leading to inflation of advertising costs - I guess they haven't looked to see how much money this site is actually drawing from adsense so to appease the google advertising robot gods I had to change some stuff in the templates. Since I was in there mucking about I finally took the time to add a creative common's flag to the main text blog.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License.

I've been pretty open about how I treat content on this site, not that there's probably that much that would be suitable for remixing. About the only limit I've placed on the content is the non-commercial use. It's happened (amazingly) and the only thing about commercial use is that I want to know where my content is. I suppose it also ties in to some of my current problems with high school university, and who gets to use and control student works.

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Misguided Lessons

07.41.25 - Mark

Of all the MySpace / Xanga / Blogger / Other social network site here youth protection disaster stories that the mainstream press is digging up I would be surprised by the stupidity of the involved school systems if I weren't so jaded by the crap schools I've been in.

One of these days, hopefully sooner rather than later, the schools with figure out that easily bypassed and highly localized filters aren't going to protect the children. The ultimate solution, the one that will really protect those not so innocent youth, is going to be competent instructors, or better yet parents, giving kids a crash course in identifiable information.

Addresses, phone numbers, social security number, the number and names of people you've slept with and your plans for world domination probably shouldn't go online. Most people already know this shit, but lets make this just like that talk about smoking - except without the hypocrisy.

That said can we stop running these damned stories about schools vs students?

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2006.05.19

Network Neutrality

12.06.52 - Mark

Since I've brought my iBook back online I've been catching up on some of the news circulating the tech world, and aside from the MacBooks (which I certainly want) Network Neutrality seems to be one of the dominating topics. I've seen a lot of people spouting off the "Information want's to be free" line without remembering that it's only part of the dynamic Stewart Brand was talking about when he stung the words together.

On the one hand information wants to be expensive, because it's so valuable. The right information in the right place just changes your life. On the other hand, information wants to be free, because the cost of getting it out is getting lower and lower all the time. So you have these two fighting against each other


Network providers are of course going to want to charge more for bandwidth as the amount of information traveling over the networks. They know that your information - no matter which end of the transmission you're on - is valuable to you in some way. They want the quickest, easiest way to turn the largest profit on those little bits of information and because most executives seem to be shortsighted penny pinching technically illiterate baboons the answer is to simply charge more for premium service, conveniently dropping those that they offer as other products if you the customer don't want to pony up the extra cash.

Now look at the other side. Information wants to be free. We have the technology to put a laptop into the hands of every kid in the world if we were so inclined, and we have networks where the overwhelming majority of traffic is free in nature, and the simple fact is that the internet has spent it's entire lifetime as a free and unregulated entity. We're dealing with something that was designed to withstand nuclear war. Meager attempts at building a pay wall between a handful of nodes will not be enough to stop the traffic. Unless I'm wrong it's essentially the same type of mentality that goes into web-blockers. Erect them all you want, but the internet and it's ever adapting nature will quickly cut off the parts that don't work and find alternative routes that do.

What this gets to is network neutrality, and the fights going on over it won't be solving anything. In the end, it's all about the bandwidth. Data doesn't need to be sorted and prioritized when you have a big enough pipe, and based on the the miserably low standard America accepts as "broadband" this country is in serious need of some good bandwidth (admittedly, not as much as Africa)

Links (because I'm too lazy to fit them into the body)
Net Neutrality and High Def Video -- Considering Alternative Views
Information wants to be free
Cost of internet access in Africa

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2006.05.15

The Morning Commute

22.27.31 - Mark

Since my iBook has been out of service for a few weeks, I've built up a small supply of raw video, and this little movie is the result of it. Last fall, when the leaves were finally changing colors I pointed my camera out the window of my car on my evening commute home then set the footage to music in Leaves as a first attempt at video blogging. Since then I've gotten a little better at manipulating iMovie and with my iBook kind of fixed (and a massive external hard drive attached) I figured it was a good a time as any to make a new video.

The footage was shot on a beautiful cold wet rainy morning most people despise (or at least constantly complain about) on my way to school a couple weeks ago, and I tired to edit it so its not entirely obvious that I reused several segments (unlike Leaves). For the record, using a Mac to edit video is so much easier than on Linux (which I tried doing this video with)

Anyways, the music is Clouds or Smoke? by Derek K. Miller (PenMachine Podcast) which was released under a Creative Commons Attribution, ShareAlike 2.5 license - same as the video itself.

Morning Commute (55MB 320 x 240 H.264 Quicktime)

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5 License.


And sorry about the large file size. The compression really kills off a lot of the details I like in the video but H.264 makes it bearable at 320x240. I was really tempted to post a high resolution quality, but I figured 120+ Megs for a 4 minute video is too selfish.

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Local "News"

14.40.42 - Mark

There's a reason Local news paper's are suffering in the technology age, and its not just blogs and citizen media:

Local News

It's the fact that stuff like this is showing up on the front page of smaller newspapers. This example is the bottom half of the Mount Airy News' front page for Saturday May 13th. We have 1) a standard end of the year/spring brawl at a local high school 2) Information about a teddy bear "festival" where some shop will be selling $100 + teddy bears and 3) a primer on the history and origins of the Teddy Bear - as ripped off a corporate site and rewritten by some PR person in charge of the festival.

Earlier in the week the same local paper reported on how our city schools are in the "Top ten". They're not quite sure what the top ten list is for, but we're on it (and we're going to dismiss the fact that we're one of the worst school districts in the state - you know, go with the flow.)

Like I said, its not just citizen media that's bringing about the death of local newspapers.

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2006.05.14

Talentless Hacks

17.55.40 - Mark

I just saw my grades from my latest semester at High School University and I'm outraged. I recieved C's in three of my classes and only one of them was justified. One was the infamous projects class, where I worked my ass off compensating for the other student who in no way was prepared for that class.

I developed three perfectly functional web applications and documented them as best I possibly could in the time and conditions I was allowed. Everything I did in that class was in no way "average" - I worked above and beyond the requirements of the class and what has been covered in the cirriculum. The last weekend alone I pulled in something close to 20 hours of work so the class wouldn't be a misserable failure and my reward is a fucking C.

I spent hours writting debugging, and testing code outside of class while the other guy barely broke a sweat entering a dozen pages of pre-existing copy into a commercial template he had purchased shortly after entering the class. One the last project alone he was incapable of developing a single PHP script where I wrote dozens of them while trying to teach him the basics of a language he should have already known.

The other class (the same teacher coincidently) the testing policy was a joke - grading us on an unannounced and unrelated criteria when all he did was sit in the back learnin the material like any other student. His only significant contribution to the class was the selection of a $60 dictionary of e-commerce terms that was horribly out of date for a book that was published with a copyright in the future (printed in early 2005, copyright 2006).

This isn't a joke its a fucking insult - and I'm outraged that there's nothing that I can do about these grades now - except remove my code from their server - which I'm in the process of doing.

I despise the fact that I'll likely need to spend another semested within the school's horrid halls.

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2006.05.11

Introducing the iClamp

03.06.46 - Mark

My iBook, which has been out of service since the beginning of March has been kind of, maybe been fixed with a standard $2 woodworking C-clamp.

Not some Apple tech support guy, the issue was not resolved in store, or by calling Apple's technical support line. It wasn't fixed by using some specilized soldering station, not the replacement of a $300 motherboard. No a fucking C-clamp and a little padding. Un. Fucking. Believable.

iBook G4 fixed with a C-Clamp

The idea came from checking a blog post at the-set.com, where a bunch of iBook owners in the same situation have congragated, and where one commenter "fixed" his iBook with a clamp.

I want to know what the hell happened to Apple's quality control department. I've been fed all sorts of bullshit lines from how I spilled a liquid onto my laptop to completly unable to help. I was upset before. Now I'm fucking pissed.

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2006.05.09

Making iPod Accessories

15.23.47 - Mark

iPod Stand I saw this iPod stand on the web somewhere last week (the link with it was to a German forum), and since then I've been playing with the idea of doing sometime similar. I might try and do a charge/sync dock since it's possible to buy iPod conectors in small quantities. The brain storming begins...

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2006.05.08

Junkers

15.31.41 - Mark

I'm done, very happily done. I'm beaten to hell and I kind of feel like a slimy used car salesman. The site I delivered this morning in my internet projects class was finished about 5 minutes after the "client" walked in. It works, but there are plenty of bugs and broken features that are just under the surface - bugs I made a point of not going near to. It should be a little more stable that bailing wire and bubble gum, but I don't know by how much. I suppose I'll see if I ever get an email asking how in the hell to fix it - there's about as much documentation on that code as there is on academic circles within migrating schools of fish.

I non-junk news I decided to go for the CX300 headphones that I mentioned the other day. I picked up some cash on one of the websites I manage so I could afford them, I would have picked them up anyways - I went back to the white ear buds for a day and after I get my package on Wednesday, the apple earbuds are getting tossed. I'd rather not listen to music than use them again. (and for the record, I'm not an audiophile by any strech of the imagination)

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Five down, One to go

09.45.07 - Mark

Almost done with this place for the summer. About 3 hours to go...

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2006.05.07

Muddy Signals

02.14.36 - Mark

I can be very very picky about the products I buy. I love quality in design, durability, and functionality, so sometimes even simple purchases can be a royal pain in the ass by my own doing.

Right now I'm in a bitch of a decision. The Sony MDR-EX71SL's I bought barely 6 months ago have been falling apart for over a month - the insulation is melting off - and on Friday the right bud just died. While this is completely and totally unacceptable of a $50 (now ~$30) pair of headphones, its another when there are scores of people who have the same problem (as if the Sony Rootkit wasn't enough of a reason to stop buying from Sony)

I loved the improved audio they offered and they sold me on the idea of canel phones, but I'm not forking over for a new pair each 6 months

So now I'm in search of a new pair of in canal earphones that won't break the bank. A simple task was never so hard. There are hundreds if not thousands of headphones out there ranging from the ultralowcost OEM headphones to the OK sounding mug-me white earbuds Apple ships with the iPod to custom molded things that cost 2 - 3 times the cost of a video iPod - and its not like many places encourage a test drive.

So after lots and lots of reading and searching, I think I'm getting a pair of Sennheiser CX300's I'm still the typical poor college student so $60 is still a hit, but between working this summer and a slight infux of cash for some of my web work, I'll manage.

I hope.

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2006.05.04

12 Million People

15.57.43 - Mark

I'm not a fan of my Congress Critter. Foxx has a tendency to pull stupid stunts like voting against perfectly agreeable and well constructed bills to buy Military equiptment in congress. This would be wonderful if she was doing it because she dislikes the idea of war and wants us out of the middle east - and not on the idea that she can claim to support "Financial responcibility" in the federal government come reelection time. Likewise when she voted in favor of a bill on protecting religious freedoms in the United States -- specifically protecting the public's right to pray in school and publically display the 10 Commandments at government facilities.

There are other peeves I have about her (lets just say we disagree on the idea of terrorism) but the most recent is the immigration issue.

She seems to be one of the supporters of the idea that this country can and should deport the 12 Million + illegal aliens from this country. Which begs the question of what exactly 12 million people looks like, and what it would take to move them. Well turns out, 12 Million people is about the population of Illinois.

Now, exactly how practical is it for our government to export the entire population of the state of Illinois to another country? How expencive?

Even if we get 2/3rds of "them", its like deporting everyone in North Carolina. More "resonable" proposals like deporting the "dangerous" ones - which I've heard estimated as being around 3 Million is on par with cutting off Iowa from the rest of the Union.

When you deal with that many people, it costs money - lots of it - just to provide basic services, like law enforcement, medical care and the Buerocracy necissary to process everyone. Not to mention the things like food and housing costs that would be associated with moving that many people. That's on top of the money needed to find and verify individuals in this country "illegally" and the intangable cost of dumping 12 million people on an unsuspecting nation(s)

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2006.05.03

Once again iPod

17.08.32 - Mark

Hopefully this won't be my track record for getting a new laptop, but after 4 and a half months of living without my regular iPod I've finally fixed it. All it took was about 5 minutes, a junk mail credit card, and an $80 hard drive off of eBay. Its not an obvious task, but there are plenty of places that have write ups, videos, and photos on how to open XYZ iPods. Considering how cheap it was I'm almost kicking myself for not doing it sooner.

Reloading it with my DRMed music from my non-function Mac will be another matter but I'll figure that out over the next few days (then I'll be reclaiming my rights to use my music where ever the hell I want to).

First I need to pull a miricle out of my ass for a PHB like teacher who is oblivious to the Pick Two Trilemma of Working, Documented, On Time

Considering how funky IIS is with PHP code, he might just be getting one on Monday.

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2006.05.02

Final Push

20.57.04 - Mark

Slowly but surely I'm coming up on the end of the semester. Tomorrow is the last day of classes and I'll have exams until Monday. The only problem is I can't make heads or tails of my work load. Most of my "exams" have been replaced by final presentations or have been declaired glorified end of the chapter tests but there's a small pile of code fragments I need to wrap up before my final final on Monday.

Then I can see about what I'll be doing this summer.

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