Thursday, December 10, 2009

Missed the plane...

But rerouted and now running less than an hour late.

Travel tip: tip the skycap like a mofo and watch him smooth talk the ticketing manager. Also it helps if he has the hots for your girfriend.

Sent from my HTC

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Who is this man? It's Frank Robaina, international man of mystery. Frank, for coming over for dinner tonight, and dropping off the awesome comic books, thants.

We'll be sure to text you all the gruesome details of our journey.
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, December 03, 2009

We need real surveillance oversite

I just read a fantastic blog post written by Christopher Soghoian.

In it, Christopher reviews the current conditions of electronic surveillance, particularly cell phone surveillance, in our country.

If you've watched a spy thriller in the past ten years, you've been exposed to fantastic and far fetched scenarios depicting people being traced, wire or wirelessly tapped, and spatially located with great fidelity, and these actions are always performed without the authorization or notification of a judge.

It's important that we all realize this is not fiction.

A rational person will probably agree that a certain amount of this sort of capability is in the best interest of our nation and it's citizenry. The problem is, what limits should be put on this tremendous power? If the law enforcement agencies are routinely ignoring reporting and disclosure laws as Christopher convincingly argues, what's to stop those agencies from inappropriate use?

Nothing. The answer is NOTHING.

This is why we, as citizens, need to get involved. We need to ask uncomfortable questions of the people who represent us in government and the people who protect us in law enforcement, and we need to let our fellow citizens understand this situation.

It wasn't that long ago that a guy took control of a democratic nation and then decided to systematically exterminate five million Jews. Granted, Hitler used strong-arm tactics and back-room deals to win his election. Forgive me if the Nazi reference seems overly dramatic, but shouldn't we legally limit the ability of members of our society to engage in strong-arm and back-room activities, particularly when technology makes these activities so powerful?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sara Palin supporters speak out

Warning: the video you are about to watch is shocking.

Just kidding, I mean, do you expect Palin supporters to be articulate?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Sony, Samsung, Mitsubishi and Panasonic agree on 3D technology?

Ready or not, the latest 3D technology is coming home -- Engadget

I guess all those people who bought HDTVs early on have a good excuse to send those boxes to the landfill. I can't wait to get a 3D movie camera, what fun. Does this mean I'll also have to buy an Xbox 720?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Everyman Offers New Directions in Online Maps - NYTimes.com

Everyman Offers New Directions in Online Maps - NYTimes.com

The dream of the free internet, powered by, and uplifting to "the people" remains alive and well. Thank goodness for Google, and companies that are willing to do what others find insane: turn the whole ownership model on it's head and put data in the hands of the people. Things like this give a person hope.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Google Offers a Peek at the Chrome Operating System - NYTimes.com

Google Offers a Peek at the Chrome Operating System - NYTimes.com

Google started picking up operating system programmers a few years ago, fueling speculation that they'd come out with their own. Looks like it's happened! 7 seconds is a great boot time, but this thing sounds a little light. It'll be interesting to watch this play out.

I'm wondering when a new Linux based contender is going to come out. I'd been under the impression that Mac OS X was based on a Linux core, but prior to posting this I wanted to double-check that assumption and I discovered it's not the case. In fact, Linus Torvalds, the creator of the Linux kernal says the OS X core is a piece of crap, so I was very wrong in that impression.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

64 bit Windows 7

Windows 7. I've felt guilty about how much I like the product. I've sold my soul to Microsoft over the years, but I'd always held out something like disdain for the suite of products, feeling like my becoming a prostitute for Microsoft was a merely pragmatic decision.

Sure, I've loved C# and much of the Dotnet universe, but the operating systems were just a means to an end. I looked at the Mac operating systems since the olden days, and something there felt soft and fluffy, not like a real tool built for real work, other than artsy stuff.

Then Windows 7 comes along, and I feel guilty for my giddiness. You're not supposed to love an operating system! Get back to work dammit! But the love is there, and it has grown since I started using it when the Beta came out this spring.

I'm running Win7 Ultimate 64 bit on a dual core 2.8 GHz CPU with 4 GB of RAM. Who cares right? Those numbers aren't anything special. But last night, working late, I was tearing my hair out because converting video from AVCHD format to standard SD DVD using Sony Picture Utility was taking absolutely forever on my fairly beefy home machine running XP. Desperate, I installed the software on my laptop to see how it and Win7 would fare.

What did I find? Well it still takes about 45 minutes to convert an hour of video, but the great thing about the Win7 experience was that both cores were fully lit up. It felt like magic. On my XP box, only one core took the conversion thread and only one core was maxed out. But good old 64 bit Win7 used the whole chip, and I was delighted.

Today though, I thought to myself, isn't this what Mac users have had for years?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Facebook vs "the ocean of Google applications"

I'm not a big Facebook fan, although I do have a Facebook presence. As a long-term web user, I chafed at FB when it came out because it just seemed too fluffy and dorky to be of any real value.

After using it a bit, I've been very impressed with the FB ability to connect me to people I used to know. I think that might really be the beginning and the end of the utility there though. There are some decent picture posting capabilities, but other than that the features have low value. How many times do you want to send someone a "virtual beer" anyway? It's nonsense.

In an effort to stop throwing money out the window, I started exploring alternatives to keeping a server running all the time. As a Dotnet consultant, the server was invaluable for demonstrating, developing and testing software. Now that I'm not doing consulting work, the server is just a waste, so I decided to host my site completely at Google, as I mentioned earlier.

It's been great. Moving to Google servers has increased the features I can access in my blog, and it's opened a panoply of interconnected services like Picasa image hosting, custom Gmail through Google Apps, the promise of Google Voice, and the integration of my presence across all these services- all very nice.

As I look back to Facebook though, I can see that most people aren't going to go through the work, simple though it is, to connect all these things. It seems like what Google needs is something a little more similar to a Facebook page. A little tighter integration across the offerings. I think they're getting there, and wanting to get there, but it's not "fall off a log" simple like Facebook is.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Onward, into the cloudy future

After hosting my own server for, well, years I guess it is, I've finally decided to make the switch to the cloud.  Google now hosts my website at blogger.com, and I'm running my email through Google Apps, which brings all those nifty little Google App widgets like calendaring and contact management and whatnot.

I've also taken down my name servers and pushed that to Network Solutions, which was the only part of the proces sthat was ever so mildly painful.  I also work with GoDaddy and life seems a little easier and less buggy there.

We'll see how it goes, but Outlook is working flawlessly with IMAP to my new Googley email server(s).

Whee.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Output Active Directory LDAP user properties to MS Word

Sometimes you want to generate Outlook signatures automatically using a users's Active Directory data. There are plenty of articles on how to do this during a user login event, but I thought I'd pass along some code in C#, because almost everything out there is in VBscript, which is fine but I'm sick of using scripts and there are certain tricks you cannot pull, like making an image, like a logo or a twitter button, into a link within the signature.  For that, you'll need the full Word Interop.

Here is a little function that will get you through the part I found trickiest.  Note that you'll need to add the following references:
  • Microsoft.Office.Interop.Word
  • System.DirectoryServices
  • System.DirectoryServices.AccountManagement...
*************************************

using Word = Microsoft.Office.Interop.Word;

using System.DirectoryServices;
using System.DirectoryServices.AccountManagement;

protected void PrintLdapProperties()
{

Word.Application oApplication = new Microsoft.Office.Interop.Word.Application();
oApplication.Visible = true;

if (oApplication == null)
{
return;
}

string strDistinguishedName = UserPrincipal.Current.DistinguishedName;
DirectoryEntry oEntry = new DirectoryEntry("LDAP://" + strDistinguishedName);
System.DirectoryServices.PropertyCollection oColl = oEntry.Properties;
Object oMissing = System.Type.Missing;
Word.Document oDocument = oApplication.Documents.Add(ref oMissing, ref oMissing, ref oMissing, ref oMissing);
Word.Selection oSelection = oApplication.Selection;

int NumRows = 2;
int NumColumns = 2;

Microsoft.Office.Interop.Word.Table oTable = oSelection.Tables.Add(oSelection.Range, NumRows, NumColumns, ref oMissing, ref oMissing);

Microsoft.Office.Interop.Word.Cell oCell = oTable.Cell(1, 1);

int i = 1;

foreach (string strPropertyName in oColl.PropertyNames)

{

oCell.Select();
oSelection.TypeText(strPropertyName);
oCell.Next.Select();
oSelection.TypeText(oColl[strPropertyName].Value.ToString());
oTable.Rows.Add(ref oMissing);
oCell = oTable.Cell(i + 1, 1);
i++;

}

}

Sunday, September 13, 2009

World premier dance event at Ravinia this week...

Ravinia has commissioned a Lincoln themed dance event which premiers this week. The production process is being filmed by Kartemquin films for a documentary.




Performance details...
http://www.ravinia.org/ViewDate.aspx?date=9/17/2009

Early Risers Crash Faster Than People Who Stay Up Late: Scientific American

VINDICATED AT LAST!

I'm so tired of those early risers lording over me with that nasty worm they caught. Well I hope you enjoyed that sunrise you watched because I've got a Redbull in my fridge and I'm gonna do things to you while you're sleeping.

Early Risers Crash Faster Than People Who Stay Up Late: Scientific American

Monday, August 17, 2009

District 9 was great

Blomkamp, the director of District 9 references Aliens and Bladerunner as two of his favorite sci-fi movies, and they are mine also. He did a superb job of living up to the high bar set by those films, an amazing feat for any director. Blomkamp created a complete, believable environment populated with realistic characters, this movie does a great job of getting you to question our own sub-conscious “racism” against the unfamiliar.

I don't usually think of Roger Ebert as daft, but in his review, I was surprised that he totally missed the point of the ugliness of the aliens when he says “I’ll be interested to see if general audiences go for these aliens. I said they’re loathsome and disgusting, and I don’t think that’s just me.” Well duh, the movie is working to get the viewer to test empathy boundaries, and you can't do that with freakin Ewoks you knob.

I love sci-fi movies, yet most stink on almost every level. At last, another director, like Cameron, who knows how to tell a great story, keep things realistic, and avoid cliche. Please Blomkamp, make more sci-fi for us, your planet needs you!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

IE8 breaks Microsoft Update

I've been running IE8 on about 12 different machines, and you want to know the really absurd bug I've found on all those installations? IE8 breaks the Microsoft Update website! Ha, you have to run the site in compatibility mode.

Isn't that sad?

Microsoft Update

Monday, August 03, 2009

Swine flew spending a waste?

"About 11,500 people are killed everyday from AIDS, malaria and TB. Swine flu has taken about 816 lives since April, according to a WHO tally."

More

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Gambling, free will, and operant conditioning

B.F. Skinner is the type of psychologist a modern, science minded person can relate to. No guilt-based Freudian mumbo jumbo from this guy. Unfortunately, some of his beliefs are a bit depressing, like the one describes late in this video, where he questions the existence of free will in humans.

His observations on gambling are fantastic- variable and infrequent reward schedules create dramatic responses in animals, including humans.


Monday, April 27, 2009

Thursday, February 26, 2009

"Bobby" Jindal is the new face of the Republican party? Someone over there needs to hire a media consultant or something.



Rachel Maddow provided a good response: