2005.11.30

AmigoFish

01.06.00 - Mark

Dave Slusher has released his user-centric podcast/vlog directory AmigoFish, something I was lucky enough to be an alpha tester on. Rate a handful of podcasts, it goes out and compares your tastes to all the other users, then comes back with recommendations based on the ratings of similar people. Basically the same thing podcast networks and community do, except automated and genre independent.

Its been working great for me, all the way back to when it was drop down menus and tables, and I've found a few new podcasts and video blogs because of it. A lot of that was when it was drawing from a limited user pool. I can't wait to see how my recommended list morphs now that its public.

While its good for people like me already consuming podcasts, I suspect it will be most useful for those getting started, and, possibly, for the critics who've been saying that there's no easy way to find podcasts you like.

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2005.11.26

Hmmm...

12.58.00 - Mark

Assuming this hasn't been too skewered though the wiki process, the Netherlands seem to have a sane Drug Policy, as opposed to the money leach the US drug and alcohol policy seems to be.

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2005.11.24

We can rebuild it...

12.02.00 - Mark

Slowly making progress on my little blogger exodus. I've pretty much completed my style sheet and basic page, I've set up a database structure, and I've even got a couple ideas on how to manage the blogspot redirects. That leaves moving all the content to the database then writing the blog engine and redirect script.

I wish I was better at programming.

And a happy thanksgiving or something like that...

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2005.11.22

A little too much to do

12.42.00 - Mark

too many feeds to read

Yeah, I need to trim down on the RSS feeds... even if I that is 4 or 5 days worth of content...

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2005.11.21

Irony

15.44.00 - Mark

Driving from NC to Chicago then coming back all in three days is almost suicidal. It can be done, but its by no stretch of the imagination fun or easy. However, it was important to make this trip this weekend since it was for my Great Grandmother's Memorial service (She lived to be 104 - so don't feel the need to express false sympathies).

While we didn't have a lot of free time in Chicago, one thing I was really itching for was a real deep dish pizza (I take pizza seriously) but for a variety of reasons we didn't get one while we were in Chicago. However I did get a Chicago Style Pizza out of the trip, just not from an expected place....

Irony (2.8MB 320x240 Quicktime Movie)

Creative Commons License

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

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2005.11.19

Not quite, but almost entirely unbearable

09.17.00 - Mark

The family is on a very fast trip for a memorial service in Chicago this weekend. Drove all day yesterday, and looking to drive all day tomorrow. Stupid rushed me forgot to grab a half decent cassette adapter for my iPod so if I want to listen to my ipod when I'm behind the wheel I need to listen to intermittent sound and static in addition to appeasing everyone else in the car. On my own I could probably bear it, with others I was outnumbered. So commercial radio it was.

Bleh. Half the time I had to listen to it I was thinking about banging my head against the nearest available object and the rest of the time I was thinking that Van Goah might not have been so crazy. I mean I can tolerate NPR (when they aren't begging for money) but commercial radio is just that - commercials, and usually uncreative over produced clips of crap. Even some of the worst podcasts would have been preferable to driving with commercial radio.

On the other hand the local TV stations here are not crap. For corse, the stations in Greater Chicago Land have a decent budget and a pool of highly competent people. Now if only the internet connection at the hotel didn't suck so bad (port blocking == evil)...

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2005.11.17

Had to happen

20.00.00 - Mark

As much as I love how advanced North Carolina is with respects to blogging, podcasting, and video casting (among other technologies). Unfortunately, those advances seem to be lost with my community college. I'll admit its not entirely surprising, we are in the mountains and Winston Salem (30 miles south east of here) seems to the western edge of NC enlightenment.

After three weeks, a movement started in part by an anonymous blog has helped catch the eyes and ears of the college administration and get them to address student concerns. Unfortunately both the local news and school are quick to dismiss the blog. While the local media is slightly more enlightened (they've excerpted this blog and keep tabs on several local bloggers, and have written about blogs, podcasts, and wikis among other things) the school administration isn't as kind. Rather than just dismissing the one student blog, they dismissed all blogs as a "national problem". Had I actually been approved to be there, I would have started ripping into him. His national problem of bloggers taking down corporations, media organizations, politicians is not a "problem" its a good thing.

Bloggers were the first ones to get the real stories out of Hurricane Katrina, and even as traditional media was in there reporting the news, citizen journalists were the ones writing the really moving stories. We're getting better, faster, and more informed looks at people like Harriet Miers. We can hear the real stories out of Iraq and the middle east, or find out the most recent Political squabbles from our own politicians, not just the wildly popular ones like Barack Obama, but even the small western NC representatives are taking time out to publish pieces in area blogs - at least if our politicians are so inclined.

Yes, you can get a disgruntled employee who wants to ruin your corporation, but I can't think of a really clear case where that has happened with blogs. (Someone feel free to prove me wrong) Yes, some companies have sued online publishers for soliciting trade secrets, and yes some have fired employee bloggers, but thats corporate America adapting to a new medium, but with IBM and others trying to get employees to blog I think that selecting a few cases in the minority is a low blow to a legimiant movement.

I'm willing to grant them that there are a lot of anonymous comments on the blog, and that there are probably a lot of people posting multiple times. However, if they bothered to count up the complaints signed with either a real name or contact (9 as of my last count) or handles (another 11 or so). I've heard that in Washington DC, representatives start a file when they receive 5 to 10 complaints. That may be out of 50,000 constituents. 20+ out of everyone who has passed though a rural community college should be lighting bon fires.

Its sad when you consider that they've launched an Internet Technology curriculum, but can't get themselves to pay even a minimal amount of attention to a website. More so when you think about how interconnected our societies are becoming, new and old, urban and rural, especially among the age groups that make up a large portion of their enrollment numbers...

(audio clips hopefully coming soon)

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2005.11.16

Bush's Next Move?

12.46.00 - Mark

bush '08
Bush in 08?

You heard right. 4 MORE years. Sure the law says you can only serve 2 terms. Repeal it! The country needs W in '08. Show your continued support for George W. Bush by wearing the shirt or placing the sticker over (or next to) your W '04 sticker. God Bless America.


I know this is supposed to be a parody, but isn't the 22nd Amendment just about the only part of the Constitution someone hasn't tried to mess with under the Bush administration? Nevermind, someone tried to repeal term limits in 2003.

Bush '08 via Warren Ellis

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2005.11.15

The Low Cost of SoSo films

22.44.00 - Mark

Well, actually went to see Walmart: the high cost of low prices and while it wasn't a complete and horrible waste of an evening, it didn't exactly break even. The movie looks and feels amateurish. For example, I'd swear they were using a stock copy of iMoive and didn't bother making really clean cuts. They also borrowed clips from The Daily Show, which really didn't lend the movie any credibility. Sure it provided a well needed laugh, but nothing new or useful to the argument.

Even without borrowing from Jon Stewart, most of the information was nothing new and the little amount of content they really went out and collected seemed pretty heavily scripted.

Do I agree with the message? Absolutely. I've had friends who have had walmart jobs and were asked to do all sorts of stupid stuff (Hey, employee there's a tornado watch and there are a few landing in the area, can you come in and help us manage customers?) But I didn't get the feeling that this is going to be a serious problem for walmart. It doesn't attract the fencesitters, it doesn't suggest solutions beyond Unionize / keep walmart out, and it doesn't present any new facts. About the only thing it does is attract urban liberals like crazy - and they don't have walmarts to deal with.

Over all if you can get in free and want to kill an evening and a few brain cells, go see it. Otherwise find some more complete summaries or do some research. Once you get outside major population centers it isn't hard to figure out how Walmart is hurting America.

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2005.11.14

Fuck.

13.47.00 - Mark

Fuck.

Thats the same fucking idea I've been working on slowly (stupid, stupid stuipid stupid) over the last few months. Except they've got capital for who knows how many people and regions. I mean like all products there's a downfall, and I think NewsVine's might be in commercial/sponcered/paid content (how unbiased can you be if you're getting VC and brain trust from ABC's and Fox's?) Plus commercial ventures with community tend to be miserable failures. Has anyone successfully launched a community (as opposed to build)

Maybe there's some hope for an independent, but they've got full time developers, a pool of content producers and $5million that I don't.

Fuck.

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Holy Fuck They Make This Hard!!!

12.22.00 - Mark

Well I've moved house, sort of.

This is yet another blow for blogger as a service, since moving from blogger/blogspot to your own servers is a hard, neigh, impossible thing to do elegantly, and for any non-techies looking to try, I'm sorry. They are simply not geared up for letting people like me, or someone really serious about blogging get off of their (impossibly locked down) servers while keeping links and other goodies when moving to own on little corners of the interwebs.

First setting up the FTP account to move to another server while still using blogger (like I was initially planning) is tricky. It took me about a dozen times to set it up, with blogger spitting indecipherable error messages. Nothing wrong on my server's end, nope, all blogger.

Second, after you move off blogspot, they put your name back in the pool. This is fine, except in any sitituation where some people actually link to you and it is, in fact, recurring traffic. OK so a few residual clicks from Macslash, Edcone, or other blogs might not make the biggest difference, but if I can save that traffic, I want to save that traffic. The whole reason I started publishing online was to share information, I can't do that as well if you're scrapping my former domain.

Third, Blogger's proposed solution is this: reregister your blogspot domain. OK, but it still wipes the content that was there, which leads to 404s and other problems when your blog consists of 1350 posts and counting. If I can avoid it I don't want to make that lagging macslasher dig though 2.5 years of my postings to get to the one gem that was linked to in the past. I hate working to find content, and as a geek, I'm a lot more tolerant than most. If I don't need to make a user work, I don't plan to

These are things blogger can easily accommodate for. Just allow us to keep a copy of the structure of our blog on blogspot with a redirect that goes to the post on the new server. You don't need to store everything, just a structure pointing to the same location with a different domain.

Of corse that's just when using different servers.

Its a whole lot harrier when you want to move to another engine. Since I think my elegant solution is going to involve writing my own blog engine I think I'll leave this blog up with a HTTP redirect in the header. Then, I'm hoping, I'll be able to watch the referal addresses and set up another redirect to send it off to the posts new location. at least I hope. I already know its a problem thats going to take some research and experimentation, but I've already decided against the major blog engines. I think part of the spam problem is that all the spam spiders go looking for the same blog footprints. the "I Power Blogger here" or the telltale signs of wordpress. Up until a few weeks ago this blog was spam free, something I largely thank the jury-rigged design for (while it used to be based on an old, old, old blogger template, I've wired on a lot of shit onto it - 99.9% of blogger blogs seem to be based on default templates)

I had already decided to write my own engine, now it just becomes more important in my move, and at least now I have a copy of my blog to start working with. Which leads to my next grievance, why on earth does Blogger's owner Google not get them to move ass on making personal data more accessible. I mean the whole thing with gmail is "it's your data" hell the company's policy is "Don't be Evil", so maybe some one can explain to me why on earth we've got vendor lock-in, barely accessible raw data, and deletion of credibility all in one company that happily claims "Don't be evil"?

It makes my head spin. I used to say I'd be happy to recommend blogger to anyone interested in starting a blog, and maybe that's still true in some small way, but if you're even remotely serious about blogging, run away from blogger and blogspot as fast as you possibly can.

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Hell is a Phone Network

17.03.00 - Mark

I'm traveling this weekend and I would really, really like to have tripping the rift on DVD while I'm on it. Sure I've got some nerdtv and DrunkenBlog's EAA video to watch, but those only go so far.

Unfortunately best buy is a wretched corporation whose idea of a good joke/business model is to get disgruntled customers to to do the work of disgruntled employees. Who needs to outsource to india when you've got plenty of customers pissed off enough to work just to get their products?!?!

I know my item is on "backorder" (a fancy term for "we'll ship it when you'll pay full price for it" or "We're screwing you over by not honoring the price we advertised and accepted billing information for") but oddly every store in the area has a copy. A nice new, shiny, glistening shrinkwrapped copy at its physical location. How do I know this? Well first it says so on the website - right there under local pickup, secondly the minimum wage college drop out I called at the store (who BTW isn't in on this scheme) told me they had a freaking copy in the store. So why then, do you idiots at the phone bank spew bullshit about "sir, there are no copies at the stores in your area." and offer the useless advice of "call the store's inventory department and have them update theier database"?

Bull-fucking-shit!

I am the customer. Notice me giving you money, not taking it. Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should I have to call a fucking inventory department at one of YOUR stores! None. Hell I should have to place 4 separate phone calls to you half assed organization.

I might be a devil, but you made the bad deal, at least live up to it.

I think I need to get irate with a phone farm managerial goon at Worst Buy.

Grrrrrrrrrrrr

(after thought, its slightly ironic that I want to pick this up before going to a screening of Walmart, the High Cost of Low Prices)

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2005.11.13

Moving.

19.08.00 - Mark

So long blogspot! Thanks for all the free hosting.

Thats right, after months of threatening, I am finally moving off of blogspot and onto my own paid servers at the domain I have been trying, rather unsuccessfully, to promote, Markw.us. Blogger does not make moving off of blogspot let alone Blogger simple, so for now I will continue using Blogger for updates after the move, but hopefully that will change by the end of the year as well. At the very least I'll make a change over next year when I should be able to write it off as a class assignment. (crosses fingers) Anyways I'm setting up some redirect scripts to get you form blogspot to markw.us, and if I can figure out how, try and get you to the right post (assuming all goes well in the move)

Its a shame that its nearly impossible to move, but its something I've known I'd need to do for a while. So, update your bookmarks/memory/feed (if you aren't using the feedburner feed, which I'll try and move over shortly) and I'll try to make this thing work.

If not expect a miserable and explosive failure peaking as a violent and expletive filled rant in an hour or two.

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2005.11.12

Obsure Economic Metrics

18.15.00 - Mark

FARK has noted that copper is an obscure economic metric. The article they link to notes that it is more accurate economic measure than gold. Which reminded me of a post I wrote in May where I did the math on how much the pennies in your pocket are really worth. Newer coins are pretty much worthless as anything other than currency (materials are worth .4 cents), but older pennies were getting close to being worth as much as their raw materials.

After reading the article and looking back on the post, I looked up the current copper prices. Right now, all those pre '82 pennies are worth about 1.1 cents on the metals market. Too bad that after processing the metal it wouldn't be worth enough to make it profitable, at least, not yet...

Fun wikipedia articles for this post:
Gold Standard
Debasement

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Traffic

01.06.00 - Mark

I was just looking over my basic sitemeter traffic reports, and noticed I just passed 50,000 page views. I searched though my archives to pull some numbers, and it took me 26 months (10/6/2002 to 12/6/2004) to get to 25,000 page views and another month to get to 10,000 visitors.

The second 25,000 visits took about 23 weeks and I'll pass 20,000 visitors sometime early next week.

Not bad.

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2005.11.10

Stupid is...

20.36.00 - Mark

Stupid is standardized email address naming schemes.
Stupid is a public address book with 3176 listings of standardized email addresses.
Stupid is attaching 3176 real names to those email addresses.
Stupid is making those 3176 listings quickly and easily downloadable and converted into a bulk mailing friendly format.
Stupid is giving those 3176 email addresses a shared default password every four months.
Stupid is assuming that you're going to get 3176 people to change the password on an account many of those 3176 people don't realize they have.
Stupid is not realizing what makes the above facts stupid.



Stupid is... is a follow up to a post I made a few weeks ago called Stupid Security Practices

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Surrynotes.blogspot.com

20.00.00 - Mark

A few day ago I linked in passing to a blogspot blog that's quickly become the core of a student protest in planning at the community college I'm attending. Its only been around for about 2 weeks but its already collected 100+ comments and based on the few links floating back to me and my experiences with the hyper-paranoid administration, a good deal of traffic. Now its really starting to get some attention. The local (and mostly inept) newspaper has taken notice of the situation (due in part because of the blogs existence) and is starting to probe around with a reporter (who didn't care to send traffic to the blog).

Wednesday the Student Government Association voted to launch a committee to look into some of the claims and will come back in a few weeks to see about moving this up the chain. The SGA also decided to investigate relaunching a school newspaper/newsletter, again due in part to the buzz generated by the anonymous blog.

I'm a much different demographic than those involved most with this. I'm tech savvy and have been blogging for a couple years, and maintained a web presence for longer than that.

However its pretty neat that students at a community college serving an area that for decades was (and still wishes it was) based in textiles and tobacco managed to start change though a fairly disorganized, distrustful, and mostly anonymous blog (some comments criticize that point).

Now that there's some more formal structure and coverage, I expect more to be done, but its neat that in an area you would least expect it, blogs are being used to turn things around.

I'm hoping, and will probably be emailing some of the people working on the committee and with the people starting the newspaper, to try and convince them to stay online with blogs and online tools. I doubt this area is enlightened enough, and tech savvy enough to follow the path Greensboro, Raleigh-Durham, Chapel Hill, and Charlotte are blazing, but maybe there's some hope.

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Least Expected Weapons Research Group

16.30.00 - Mark

"Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission's Weapons Improvement Program" from an article on its advancements in humane whaling methods. Note to self - don't piss off the eskimos.

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Keep the magic smoke in

15.04.00 - Mark

User Friendly Comic for Nov 10th
Userfriendly.org

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2005.11.09

EarJams

18.36.00 - Mark

About a week ago I ordered a pair of Griffin Technology EarJams for something like $10 shipped, I got them the other day so I've been giving them a work out. I'm not a $500 for 1 AV cable audio nut, but a pair of earjams on top of my iPod earbuds made a noticeable difference. They are slightly more comfortable than the naked earbuds, and the volume is louder, and I can hear things I normally don't, but anymore than $10 and I would probably feel ripped off. However, I think I might understand why people pay $100+ for real canal-phones. In a month or two, I might be getting real canal-phones (not the custom molded $200 things tho', maybe a decent pair around $70)

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2005.11.08

I'm afraid, I am very, very afraid

19.56.00 - Mark

I don't trust the dweebs at radio shack to know how to use the windows wares and cell phones they currently hoc, but they're now an Apple Authorized Retailer? Reminds me of back when Sears and Best Buys were trying (miserably) to sell Macs in the 90's.

I know there are more than a few differences between now and then, like the fact Apple has clean product lines that stand on their own, and iPods don't even need salesmen, but Radio Shack? Every Radio Shack employee I've known has had the customer relation abilities of a rattlesnake and technical knowledge on par with a chimp's.

Maybe they'll just stick to stocking iPods.

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Blogs to Read

17.52.00 - Mark

Graduate from the Electoral College. I was talking about how borked the electoral college is in our modern society, before and after the '04 election. However, he does it much, much better than I can. Lot more research too with links to comments by politicians and PACs, analysis of various solutions, and a good look into how the votes are split up among states. Combine this with some of the stuff I discussed with CommonCensus and we may yet again have a working political system in the USA.

Forever Geek a blogger recycling a lot of content from other sites like engadget and MAKE, but I like multi-layer filtering. It helps keep me from missing things I really like.

Writer's Block Live This guy is treating his blog like a wiki, which plays some havoc with my news reader, but it also makes it pretty cool. The content, which is pretty focused on his experiences as an Apple employee a few years ago, is supposed to evolve into a book (hence the name) so while it is non-linear nearly to the point of confusing, its a good read on several levels.

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Err, Whatever

13.03.00 - Mark

I'm getting pretty bad about checking my feeds on a timely basis (I've got another 2100 sitting in NNW now) but Grokster made some deal with someone about something involving those obscure copyright-wingish things.

I used to give a damn about how many people the RIAA/MPAA was suing that day but you know. I could care less at this point. The little music I really enjoy I've either already digitized, get from artists who release under Creative Commons licenses, or by from not a big name label groups usually found though podcasts. There are a a few exceptions, an occasional classic rock song I don't have already or a full CD like Verve Remixes (unlike most of the RIAA approved content, they aren't dreak) but over all I stopped caring about what type of anti-american activities they're up to.

Blessed internet.

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2005.11.07

Quack

11.28.00 - Mark

Its never a good thing then it seems like a class is (or might as well be) taught by a duck. Supposedly my teacher is qualified to teach Flash, but what should be a simple question took 15 minutes to solve and even then, the "qualified" individual didn't solve it, they gave up. So I ended up solving it. I hate flash, more so when obnoxious sounds are involved (currently, they are). (That would be signifiantly unqualified)

So something's wrong with that equation.

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2005.11.05

Mmmm mmm code

12.52.00 - Mark

This has been a code week for me. Sometimes I just hit my stride and know what I want to produce then code it up. Today I've been messing around with a blogger template idea, and while its not really for me, its reminded me that coding for blogger isn't that complicated. So maybe if I don't have some other project pop up I'll get back to my own redesign, especially since my latest creation got me thinking about a few tricks that should work a lot better than where I was headed in my last attempt at recoding the blog a few weeks ago.

What I should do though is try and theme for wordpress or possibly ignore the existing systems and go back to my own blogging system, because as I've pointed out before, blogger isn't meeting my needs, and well programming, like the designing is fun.

Anyways, I've been at it since this afternoon and my body is telling me I'm done.

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Pounding Ground

20.16.00 - Mark

It seems like every time I go camping, I come back wanting to write about it. To me there's nothing like getting out into the world, hopefully away from the connectivity hot zones and power outlets that I usually inundate myself with. When I started camping though Boy Scouts years ago, I was the guy that took out a tent or two, a sleeping bag, sleeping pads, a hammock, a lounge chair, a folding reclining chair, a couple folding stools, the coolers, the tarps, rope, two backpacks, flashlights out the wazoo, more pots and pans than the average small kitchen, etc. I'm sure my geeky nature shows in that, but more recently I've picked up a zen like camping style. On the camping trip I took up to Raven Knob a week ago I had a tent (I didn't end up using but always pack just in case), a sleeping pad (again not used, but always pack), a sleeping bag, a backpack with cloths for the weekend, a couple Nalgene water bottles, a mess kit, some trail mix, my cameras and a phone. Not a whole lot.

I didn't have to worry about food myself since it was a group trip, but aside from food I still wouldn't have taken much more.

To me there's a zen to camping, the idea is to get away from the information overload and stresses of everyday life. I know I have 48 some hours of podcasts, hours of video to chew though and a pile of books to read, and yes if I wanted I could take them with me, but I'm not going to take them. In daily life I would feel guilty if I idle around, but last week I did just slightly more than nothing and didn't feel the least bit bad about it.

What's odd is, that although I count my self among the digerati, I turned off all of technology I had with me, at least other than my cameras. I left my ipod in the car, the cell phone was turned off, the GPS was in my pack unused. I even had my laptop in the trunk of the car (because I forgot to leave it at home) and I wasn't the least bit tempted to turn it on. Yet I saw half a dozen pod people, not to mention people concerned with cellphones, a GPS device, radios or some other form of an electronic tether. I've even known people to bring personal video devices and TVs to camp with which combined with the gear some of those people bring, almost entirely defeats the purpose of camping. I can't think of something more ironic, or disheartening, than a camper yelling "Hey what's on Survivor over there" (Yes, I have heard this said while camping)

So I'm back to less is more. As long as I'm warm at night and can eat during the day, I'm fine. In the end that's all you really need, and when you strip away all the technology and communications to get back to mankind's pre-tech roots, it reminds you of how little you really need.

Camping really does wonders for the soul. (and hopefully next time, it won't take me a week to write up my experiances.)

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2005.11.03

CommonCensus

21.00.00 - Mark

CommonCensus is a really neat project, and is yet another example of where I need to do more than just talk about my ideas.

The concept is that states and other political territories are very, very bad at truly representing what people in a region actually want. I personally identify with more northern and urban areas like Chicago but end up living in the middle of no where in particular where they want to kill all overseas production and will instigate riots if you even think of suggesting to place a ban on tobacco products in public spaces. I'm a little extreme since I'm a certified geek, but in a physical sense the same thing occurs. Someone in a South east Iowa might agree more with northern Missouri politics while someone an hour north might better associate with Chicago. Another hour north and off to the west they might be sympathetic to Minnesota policy and thats no minor difference.

If you look at state government there is very little they really regulate. Natural and public resources. fish and wildlife, agriculture, transportation, in some cases a limited influence on schools and other public service agencies (highway police, national guard), but more or less local issues slide down to counties and cities/towns while larger issues and matters of money go up.

Right now with the pretty lines someone started drawing back in the late 1700s aren't working as a political system. Take the few real functions of the state and break those up into geographically similar areas. The concerns of the DOT in the Mountainous portions of North Carolina have a lot more in common with the mountainous regions of Virginia than the costal regions of the state. Its literally the difference between preparing for an ice storm and a hurricane. The other state managed offices, like fish and wild life have similar differences. One might be worried with bears, the other with crabs, so why force an odd couple under the same roof? Its a waste of resources.

With natural resources taken care of that leaves a political mess, how to divide congress? Thats where commoncensus comes back into play. By plotting the community ties in an area you can come up with better districting, and while you'll never get over the Red Vs Blue Syndrome until people start remembering that this is not just a 2 party political system, you can help make sure that representatives in an area are more in tune with the beliefs of their constituents because you end up forcing the federal government to act more like a responsive, local government.

However, it won't take. There's far too much invested to simply drop the old system, and even if there wasn't, such a movement would need to put forth a heroic effort to educate most people about such a system, because unlike the states, its hard to talk about dynamic geopolitical influences

Right now the project is on its forth map, however the next one should be coming out soon (900 more people need to fill out the survey) so head on over to look at the current map and take the poll. While nothing will likely come out of it, in terms of food for thought, this is a nice big juicy steak.

For the politically uninterested there is a sports based sister project.

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Leaves, or Wandering Minds

01.51.00 - Mark

Its November, and since we're having unusually temperate weather it means the leaves are really starting to show their colors (ironically about two weeks after the areas "Autumn Leaves Festival") so since I've had a hacked up CVS one time use disposable camcorder, a marvelous little goodie that only cost me $30 I decided to start shooting some of the trees. Some of the 15 minutes I took was really good, most of it was rancid to a level far beyond just shaky cam. The 1 and a half minutes that were useable have been edited into a 2 and a three forth minute movie clip with some music.

The music is Thoughts, by Phil Cooper which is released under a Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 2.5 license. Since I'm a good copyfighter the movie is also released under that license

Leaves (17.1MB 320x240 Quicktime Movie)

Creative Commons License

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


Forgive the cruddy editing in the second half, after the first 90 seconds got edited I wanted to finish the sucker and publish it. I think it still floats around like my mind when I'm thinking, so I doubt I'll go in to recut it if/when I get some more footage.

However, right now its 2 AM and I have every intention of falling asleep once this is up. If feedburner doesn't catch it and make it an enclosure, that can come later much later, like not 2 in the morning later..

Edit (at not 2 am in the morning): Feed burner made enclosures, of the CC logo. I've shuffled them around and when feedburner updates it should (i hope) make the movie, and not the logo the enclosure.

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I need to go on a media diet

13.34.00 - Mark

I now have 2009 unread news items in Net News Wire

At least 50 of them are unedited posts that blogger spits out in its own spontaneous manner.

I really need to get around to reorganizing my RSS feeds, and removing some of the junky ones, as well as resetting the feed persistence on a few (500 some items are 2 days worth of deal sites, another 500 worth of tech blogs) maybe after I chew though this crop of feeds and whatever interesting stuff I can harvest.

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2005.11.02

Whoohoo

10.18.00 - Mark

Its being very clearly outlined to me I am being seriously screwed by High School University. I'm internet technology and I'm pretty much the only person in the degree track who is anywhere close to being able to take the capstone corse this spring. (I'm also just about the only person in the track who knows anything about internet technology other than "Ooooh Interweb"). There's one other person who says they're looking at taking it (good person, but I don't know how he is to take a capstone), and maybe one other who is ready for it. I can guartee however, that noone who might be taking the ITN project couse has all of the required classes. I'm looking at a killer load of at least 7 classes. I'm sorry but this degree isn't sleep deprivation / sucide. So 3 people, none of whom will be able to graduate after completing the class. Furthermore they cancel courses with twice as many students. I'm not holding high hopes for being able to move beyond Surry in June 2006.

There are a lot of problems with this school. A lot of problems that no one currently recieving a paycheck from the school is willing to admit or address.

I'm not the only one who recognizes this either.

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Remember Kids, Don't use your Cell Phone During Bomb Threats

20.03.00 - Mark

Note: Dear Police/FBI/Other Agency, I'm not your suspect. Ask the Fed who questioned me a few weeks ago.

Apparently some one claimed they were going to detonate a bomb they had placed within Mount Airy High School at 12:30 today. My brother goes there, and I heard about it by 2:30, partially because he also gets a kick out of the FBI file a few weeks ago but I also just heard about it though one of those annoying automated calling systems which handed me a few more details (and a lot more spin). Now I can't do as much of a threat assessment on the high school since I wasn't there, but I have an idea from when I was there.

Some one though it would be fun to get out of class for the day and left a bomb threat in one of the girls bathrooms. Someone, possibly the same person who wrote it, lets a good school official know about the note. The note quickly gets the attention of the school administration who call 911 and promptly evacuate all the students to a "secure location" by secure location they mean the football field bleachers. For the sake of avoiding another federal interviewer I'll skip the part where I mention how easy it would be to hide a few bombs in plain sight at a football field. Anyways they then sweep the building looking for a bomb and all that other good stuff and come up empty handed. So eventually they let the students come in. I'm not going to judge the management of the situation even tho' I'm a little vague on why they some teachers and staff were included in the sweep. I know some of the people in emergency services and I'm more than willing to trust them, some of the school employees on the other hand...

I doubt there was a real threat to students, as someone a little more concerned with practical security than most. Someone who leaves a note is usually an idiot (hopefully in a week or so, an arrested and publicly embarrassed idiot) who wants to cause a stir then exploit if for personal gain (get out of class for a day or two) or wants commit a mass killing (like 50% + of the student body). The other type isn't announced (Your New York, Madrid, and London Bombings) and can't be stopped.

After I wrote my last piece on Bomb evacuations some people felt I was suggesting that you not evacuate the building. Maybe I was (most buildings are strong and capable of ) but the real point I wanted to get out was if you evacuate do not cluster everyone into a single "secure" area where an attacker can cause the most amount of death with the least amount of effort. Using the cellular structure inherent in schools to distribute students over campus barely looses you anything in ability to communicate and gives you a significant increase in security/safety.

Maybe I need to diagram that concept. Anyways the last inane point of discussion in all this is. When they unleased their phone system the closing statement was to have parents remind students not to make cell phone calls during bomb threats. Huh? I've talked about how throw away cell phones are an easy way to make a remote detonation system so in the capacity not having students make phone calls makes some sense (assuming the bomber is stupid enough to be there when they detonate the bomb) I've heard, and can understand how, a family radio can be used to detonate an IED, which like the cell phones is becoming, if not is now, common practice in war zones. How ever I haven't heard of cell phone radiation (from connection) as being able to detonate anything. I'd love if someone dug up a story (factual only please) of a outgoing call causing some sort of detonation/ignition (like those gas fire stores everyone has heard - the ones that are completely myths) I think the school is actually more concerned with saving face and keeping people, ie media and parents, out of the area.

No I'm not threatening to or suggesting anyone actually blow stuff up, I'm just trying to be a little more security minded when it comes to idiots who get their kicks out of disrupting school for a few hours. I'm looking forwards to what, if anything, my brother writes about the bomb threat (he's already made a few jokes about wheat happens when our family discusses bombs and security)

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2005.11.01

Fox News Strikes Again

23.02.00 - Mark

I love my local TV stations, especially their seriously confused and out of date news coverage examples from tonight:

anchor 1) No flu shots at Lowes Foods until saturday
anchor 2) No flu shots at Lowes Foods after saturday

Not enough Flu shots - thanks for the obvious, but what year is this not the case?

WhooHoo! a potential pandemic of Bird Flu spead the misinformation!
But at least we're sinking more money into a vaccine that always makes good, despite the fact that the FDA needs years to approve new drugs. Woops.

Neat, its a job alert
144 jobs are being offshored removed to make the company more competitive with asian imports.
I thought job alerts were supposed to alert you to potential employment, not the destruction of positions.

Apparently they think there was a meteorite the other night, despite the fact that they don't know it hit the ground (at least I didn't hear them if they said that it did), so we'll just ignore that complimicated scientificalist gobble gook and not bother looking up the right term (meteoroids)

I'm trying to figure out why they're flashing the anchor's email addresses up on screen.

"its unclear what happened during that [closed] session", uhh, yeah, its what you call a "closed session" its a sessions that "closed" to the public, (and those pesky journalist types - can't trust them to keep secrets)

DeLay wants a new judge, something about the one he had not being a republican.

It didn't rain. Again. Somehow that qualifies as a news item.

I wonder why the commercials are quickly outnumbering the news segments.

Water restirction? Its November 1st, not June 1st. Why the hell do they need to water their lawns? Well other than they fact that its been hovering around 70 the last few days and they're expecting it to come near 80 this weekend

The not job alert: There's a career fair tomorrow!

Coming up: Wireless trucks. Err, thats a nice vague brief

Mmmmm, commercials. Again. Grrr.
Commercial - Good, quitting smoking and tobbacco use.
opinion - Bad raising taxes on cigerattes and other tabaccoo to help coerce people into quitting

on no, oyster prices are too high to have festivals. What a shame. We're blaming Katrina and Rita too

Not in my back yard: they heard about the nuclear power plant too. I don't think the anchor liked that news.

we're to 1 story, 1 2 3 4 5 6 commercials

Finally we're back

Wireless internet in your truck. Hurray, because we all know how safe those Big F*ing truck drivers are safe now.

Commercial or news, sprint is selling phones

Hey they just found out about "second life"
"at first glance it looks like a video game but its really an alternate universe"
damn science and facts
anchor "those people need to get out and experience the real world, they shouldn't be living so vicariously"
another anchor "yeah did you see that creator? he really looks like it needs to get out"
yeah, lets just escape into the real world where we have naive condescending idiots like you stereotype geeks who, oh by the way, are making a hell of a lot more than you.

speaking of stupid entertainment that consumes your time and lets freaks live vicariously
NASCAR!!! (and other televised sporting events)

I love hypocrites, especially the local news anchor variety.

I was actually waiting for the second life piece (not even local), and ended up watching 55 drivel filled minutes of local FOX "news" coverage that Rocketboom can cover just as well in under 5 minutes. At with Rocketboom, I don't need to poke fun at incorrect, biased, naive "coverage" they do it for me.

That's an hour of my life I want back. They've got some fat guy singing (badly), I think that's my clue to finish this up

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I declare, If I can do that, I shouldn't have to loop

16.07.00 - Mark

Every programming language is based on three concepts. Declaring variables so they can be populated with information, Decision structures to figure out what you need to do with that information, and finally a looping mechanism so the computer, and not the user follows the same steps over and over and over again.

Its a pretty little concept they teach in basic programming courses, and its an easy concept to pull out when you listen to half a dozen recorded conferences at places like ITConversations. I'm one of those annoying students that picked up on that concept really fast, so now I'm paying the punishment by being really bored while my "Internet Programming" course finally (after 10 weeks, with 6 to go) gears up to actually program. I have a miserable feeling that in those remaining 6 weeks, we're going to relearn the basic three components to programming. I think the teacher (who to be fair has been pretty good about not dismissing the class and their experience) is quickly reverting to a retarded "the book is always right" mentality because we're treading away from web side and back to programming.

Good for the teachers, they can go back to dwelling on about variables, decision structures and loops for hours and hours and hours! Never mind that I can go home (not looking at the book) and code a quick, effective decision structure with a variable declaration by looking at a single result off of a three word google search and use 15 minutes rather than 150 minutes.

I don't know if I wholeheartedly agree with Wil Shipley's advice of Quit School and Set Things on Fire, (I've given it a lot of thought since it's been published tho') but I know some of the commenters have it right. If we really want those 6 figure educations to actually be worth 6 figures, we need to learn things, not be taught. Lecturing me about the bare bones of a programming language isn't the same thing as helping me build a custom content management system for a website, just like instructing me to follow a kindergarden level flash tutorial from a [sarcasm]really nice[/[sarcasm]] graphics book (printed with the highest quality black and white inks no less) while you twiddle your thumbs isn't going to come close to helping me compete with flash wizards like PixelGasoline, or even something that looks good (like the Mantalope cartoon in the first episode of ChannelFrederator)

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Wow

13.58.00 - Mark

Its still 7 weeks away, but I already know I'm having a good birthday. I'll be done with classes and I'll be able to lounge around watching Serenity on DVD.

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YIMBY

13.23.00 - Mark

The Triad is a potential future nuclear power site. I'm strongly in favor of nuclear power as long as its safe and secure (and I'm fairly convinced that it is). So if Duke Power wants to plant a nuclear site around here I'm for it (they won't, Surry isn't exactly well populated). via Ed Cone who thinks he might yell NIMBY.

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