humor, technology

Arguements for or Against YouTube (a new hamster dance)

I was recently involved in a discussion about how useful YouTube is. I was on the pro YouTube side. I don’t think it is the end-all for the internet, but I do think it is possible for it to provide a useful service. However, I can not agree with the idea that YouTube creates a new place for people to have a voice and create democracy. That might happen a little bit, but that is just by virtue of YouTube being part of the internet.

That said, I’m not sure if this video is an argument for or against YouTube. I guess part of freedom is the freedom to decide whether or not you like something, or in my case to be unsure if you find something to be stupidly funny or just stupid.

environment, technology

The Answers to the Annoying Arguements— Prius vs. the SUV

Why are people so easily fooled?

Right off the bat it needs to be pointed out that the Prius isn’t 100% green, it probably isn’t even 50% green. That said, SUV’s are worse, even if a report by a marketing team uses bad science and silly assumptions to say it ain’t so.

There’s also those folks who talk about how commuting five miles in an SUV is better than commuting twenty miles in a Prius. No kidding! But that isn’t a proper comparison, it is just a terrible argument that completely fails to make any sense. Commutes in the US have steadily increased over the years, so the five mile commute is rare to say the least. But the important thing is that by creating two different distance there is no longer any point of comparison— driving those five miles using a Prius would be better than using an SUV.

Some folks talk about nickel and Sudbury, Ontario (which isn’t as polluted as it used to be, but is very far from being clean), tell them that the new Prius uses lithium batteries not nickel. Also, mention that nickel is used in the manufacturing of most cars, since nickel is needed to make stainless steel.

It might be interesting to point out that the H3 Hummer, and most SUV’s, get about as many miles per gallon as the Ford Model-T.

That said, the Prius isn’t perfect, everyone should make an effort to drive less when possible— no matter what you drive. It is important to remember that there isn’t one car out there that is a friend of the environment, only cars that are less hostile.

code, technology, wordpress

XAlign, A TinyMCE Fix for WordPress

It’s bothered me that TinyMCE, WordPress’ default rich text editor, uses the align attribute. For example if you want to center some text and use TinyMCE you’ll get code that looks like this:

<p align=”center”>My centered text</p>

Why is that a problem? Here’s the list

  1. It is not valid strict xhtml
  2. It is deprecated transitional xhtml
  3. It does not function as expected across browsers in all cases

Anyone writing new code should aim to have valid strict xhtml. Why? Because strict code will offer a better experience for everyone across browsers, it will be easier to update, and it is more future-proof (though nothing is 100% future proof). Hopefully WordPress will come up with a built-in solution soon and render this plugin pointless, but until then this works.


mac, technology

DVD Jon Does it Again, This Time with the iPhone

Apple is expected to sell about a million iPhones by the end of the week, but it didn’t even take DVD Jon (named so because he is the one that broke CSS encryption on DVD’s way back in the 02’s) that long to work his magic again. A little while back he messed with Steve Job’s head by cracking the DRM in iTunes, now he has come up with a way to activate the iPhone without using AT&T.

dvd jon

That means that you can use the iPhone as an iPod+WiFi device. That doesn’t mean you can make a phone call from it. This is bad news for AT&T but good news for everyone else. And the news isn’t even that bad for AT&T, the small percentage of people that activate the iPhone without AT&T would probably never get one otherwise. However it is great news for folks who want to test the iPhone and develop for the iPhone. It is also good for Apple because it could mean more sales and increased 3rd party application development.

Nice work Jon Lech Johansen!

mac, technology

Aqua OpenOffice is Shaping up

The Mac OpenOffice team released the second snapshot of the Aqua (X11 free) version of OpenOffice today. While there is more to be done before it is ready for people to use in a reliable and easy fashion, it is really making headway. The big thing is that you can print from OpenOffice now. That’s important. The print dialog isn’t Mac’s so that still needs work, but gosh it’ll be there soon enough.

At this point it is still too early to review the new OpenOffice, but it looks like it is on its way to becoming the same great free office suite on Mac that it is on every other platform. Mac users, get ready to throw your copy MS Office in the trash. You can open and save Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents, or use safer open formats.

business, politics, technology

Where is Capitalism Anyway

There’s a hard case for saying capitalism still exists in America. Calling our market a free one is like saying a cage-free chicken is honestly free. The irony is that it is the market leaders (often ones who clamor for deregulation) are the ones that are steering America’s market towards a feudal system.

The linchpin in this drive is patents & copyrights and to a lesser degree trademarks. Patents & Copyright aren’t necessarily bad, but they are being heavily abused in the US. It only takes one look at Marshal, Texas to understand where we are heading.

While small businesses and start-ups are hurt, the folks sitting at the end of the punch are the America people. The state of intellectual property laws are such that we’ve stifled innovation in America and reduced competition. The concept of the free market is that those who can’t survive in business are pushed out of the market, however through intellectual property management any company that has established itself can remain on artificial life-support by abusing the system through lawsuits that either give failing businesses a cut of their competition’s income or by blocking that competition altogether.

The result is that old weak companies wheeze along while newer innovative companies are left emaciated or quietly strangled out of existence through a feudal market. A feudal market is one in which companies survive only through virtue of their heritage (intellectual property). If a new innovative company enters the market it must pay the old company to work on the land (license fees) or it can not work at all.

Companies have learned this and have begun hoarding patents. These patents abused to the detriment of America. The long-term result of a feudal business model is that innovative products will cost more and come from other countries. While the old companies flail in their slow death they are taking the economy with them. And while their death is slow it will not be nearly as painful for them as it will be for middle and low class Americans.

The life-span of companies has been artificially prolonged leaving us with undead monsters who scour the market for the brains of the living. There is always a balance, the dead trees fall down and decompose, feeding the young trees as the stretch upward, the question is where those trees will be. Will innovation be able to survive in America or will it find more fertile soil elsewhere? And consider this, sometimes the old dead trees don’t fall down and decompose, sometimes they pile up— the only thing for that is a fire, but fire destroys everything and it takes years for a new forest to grow in its place. Do we really want to wait for the fire?

mac, technology

How Tiger 10.4.10 Killed My Wireless and How I Fixed it

As a seasoned Mac user I know to be careful when updating my Mac. In the five or so years that I’ve been using OS X I’ve only really hit problems once before 10.4.10 came out, so I’m usually not too worried. There are lots of people that claim an update killed their computer— a slightly dubious claim in my opinion— but updates can make some things unpleasant.

After safely updating my iMac I decided to update my production machine, a MacBook Pro. Everything seemed fine until I tried to go onto the internet. What happened was that I could connect to the router, I could even get to the router’s control panel, but I couldn’t do anything else. No internet, no network.

During my troubleshooting I noticed that when I removed the security settings I could get online. But there is no way that is an acceptable solution.

So I downloaded Apple’s airport update from a while back and saw which files it was updating. Then I downloaded the 10.4.9 combo update and replaced the file on my computer with the one in there. In case this happens again, or if anyone else has this problem I’ve saved the file and put in online (to avoid the massive 10.4.9 combo download). Here are the steps to getting wireless back:

  1. Download and unzip the file to your desktop
  2. Open terminal and paste this in:
    sudo cp -R //System/Library/Extensions/IO80211Family.kext/ /System/Library/Extensions/IO80211Family.kext.backup/;
    sudo mv ~/Desktop/IO80211Family.kext/ //System/Library/Extensions/IO80211Family.kext/;
    sudo chown -R root //System/Library/Extensions/IO80211Family.kext/;
    sudo chgrp -R wheel //System/Library/Extensions/IO80211Family.kext/;
    diskutil repairPermissions / -v;
  3. Restart the computer and hold down the shift key until you see the spinning circle, this boots the computer in “safe mode” which will ensure the permissions are all set correctly
  4. Once the computer finishes booting you can restart it normally

That did it for me anyway, I’m cruising the information super highway again! Of course this is done at your own risk and you should backup important files first. I don’t take any responsibility for anything not working or messing things up.

update: Apple’s latest wireless release (2007-004) broken my wireless again.


Two Signs Your Router Sucks

1) After updating the operating system the WPA WiFi connection is slower than dirt, but only on this router (Netgear WPN824).

2)  While hunting for a way to fix the above finding this message written in bold red font

WPN824v2 firmware cannot used on Version 1!

It took several minutes to figure out what the above means, besides me being screwed. Clearly the first sign is a better indicator of a sucky router, but trying to convey an obviously important message through bad English means your router is sitting near (if not on) the top of the suck pile. And just to make it clear, I’m not the only one who thinks Netgear sucks.

humor, politics, technology

Ten Things I Hate About Comandments

Fair use makes great derivative works like this legal. Of course Viacom still had it taken down, even though they legally don’t own it. But now it is back, take a look.

This is just one of the many reasons fair use needs to be protected. The DVD-CCA (the folks is charge of DVD licensing) are trying to make it illegal to copy a DVD in anyway, in fact they don’t even want people to playing a DVD movie without the DVD in the drive. So for example, if you wanted to save battery life on your laptop during travel by watching a movie from its hard drive you’d be doing something illegal. The worse thing is that the DMCA will probably make it work— hope you’re all ready to say goodbye to your rights.

People should write to their representatives and let them know that we all think the DMCA needs to change. The content creator’s rights are important, but the rights of the people purchasing that content is important too. The problems with the DMCA go way beyond DVD protection— fair use and innovation freedom in general are being strangled.


High ground, a Corporate Illusion

We don’t view that kind of activity as an appropriate activity for one partner to do to another…

eBay spokesman Hani Durzy

eBay was a bit upset because Google planned an event to promote Google Checkout on the same night eBay is holding a Paypal event. As payback eBay pulled all their ads with Google and issued a statement about being “disappointed.” Of course Google has a pretty good case for being disappointed with eBay since eBay has banned Google Checkout from their site. eBay is clearly trying to keep the competition out. Considering how much of a cut they get of each transaction that happens on their site once you add the eBay & Paypal charges it’s easy to see why they’d want Google to steer clear of them. They suck for banning Google Checkout, but fine, it’s their website they can do what they want— even if it sucks for customers.

Still, it is worth wondering that if eBay realizes what a hypocritical bullshit thing it is to pretend you are taking the high ground.