From The NY Times:

Mr. McCain, a Republican from Arizona, said on the CBS news program “Face the Nation” that President Obama should sit down with Republican leaders and begin adopting some of their ideas for improving the nation’s health care system such as overhauling medical malpractice lawsuits, allowing residents of one state to buy health insurance from a company in another state, and granting tax credits for people who purchase health insurance on their own.

My opinion of John McCain has gone completely south. What an obnoxious thing to say. As senator Richard Durbin pointed out Obama tried to get Republicans to join him in reforming a system that abused the American public and they wouldn’t have any of it. What’s more he pointed out that “170 Republican amendments had been accepted.” Durbin called McCain’s statement improper. That’s being to kind, it is an outright lie.

More importantly, these ideas do not help the American public at all. Changing medical malpractice laws won’t make insurance companies stop dropping sick people and denying healthcare. All of these “ideas” only help lower the cost of insuring people, but only a very silly person would think that’ll translate to lower costs for Americans. It’ll translate to more profits, unless they get some federal pressure.

The most insulting of all the ideas is tax credit for people buying their own insurance. If you don’t make a lot of money you aren’t paying taxes anyway. Subtracting $200 from zero means you still pay zero. It doesn’t mean you get any more money back. This may help, in a very small way, the small portion of the middle class who do not have employer sponsored healthcare, but that’s it.

(chart source)


Warner Brothers want more people to pirate their new movies

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Warner Brothers will be delaying release on Netflix by four weeks. It is a silly move to try and squeeze more money out of consumers at a time when most consumers don’t have lots of extra cash to spare.

From the article:

“Within the home entertainment category, we’re creating different times at which a product is available at different prices,” said Kevin Tsujihara, Warner Bros.’ home entertainment president.

I place my bet on this being a total wash financially. Whatever money they gain from the few customers who are willing to pay the premium they’ll loose to illegal downloads. This is also a great move to anger and alienate their customers.

It is amazing that a company can create a strategy that is hostile to customers and simultaneously complain about things like piracy (which are in part an issue of customer loyalty). It seems that Warner Brothers doesn’t understand some of the fundamental changes in technology and culture that effect their business. This is yet another issue of boneheaded money grabs which make life more difficult for legitimate customers and much much easier for people who don’t pay a penny.


Count Characters, but Not HTML or Links

I took a lazy Google look and didn’t see how to do this. If you want to use PHP to count characters in a string but only the visible text (in other words you don’t want to count the html— like links and whatnot), then just use this function. It returns the string length.

function visible_count($str){
echo strlen(strip_tags($str));

Of if you want to reject a string that is too long, try the below. It returns true if the string is within a limit, false if it exceeds the limit. Modify at as needed.

function the_limit($str,$max){
if($counter>$max) return true:return false;

apple, business, iphone, ipod touch, mac, music, technology

Thoughts on "Stopping Piracy"

There is no way to stop people from stealing. Humans have been stealing since well before computers came around, and they’ll never stop (at least not in our lifetimes). It’s better to let go of the idea of stopping it and figure out ways to work around it.

Theft is an unstoppable force. If you see a car speeding towards you and you want to live, you don’t think of how to stop the car, you just get the hell out of the way.

politics, random

How Human readable Contracts will Destroy Innovative Credit Card Companies

I found this in a CNN article “A push to simplify credit card ‘gobbledygook’” referring to the push for the government to force credit card companies to simplify contracts so that are human readable.

But the industry is fighting the reforms. The American Bankers Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce argue that they’ll stifle innovation and limit consumer choice.

I wasn’t aware that there was an innovation among the credit card companies. Unless “innovation” means new sneaky ways to bilk people out of money.


Seeing With Your Tongue, and Other Miracles

Medicine is reaching sci-fi levels, doing the things that I never thought I’d see in my lifetime. Though when I thought that I hadn’t been told my lifetime may be as long as 1,000 years.

A company called BrainPort Technologies has developed some doodads that lets blind people see. Of course, right now they can’t see perfectly, but the company believes they can continue to improve their technology.

The amazing thing is that the technology uses the human tongue to do it. Apparently the tongue has tons and tons of nerves and is, for some reason, connected to the same areas of the brain as vision.

From the article

Seiple works with four patients who train with the BrainPort once a week and notes that his patients have learned how to quickly find doorways and elevator buttons, read letters and numbers, and pick out cups and forks at the dinner table without having to fumble around. “At first, I was amazed at what the device could do,” he said. “One guy started to cry when he saw his first letter.”

Also, as I alluded to earlier in the post, a man by the name of Aubrey de Grey is evangelizing his idea that aging can be cured. He makes some pretty convincing arguments, though people probably shouldn’t go pinning their hopes on one man’s theories. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if he is right. Even more interesting than the idea of aging being defeated is the baggage that comes with those ideas— specifically how it will change society and what that says about society now.

apple, mac

Fix for Disk Utility: “File system formatter failed.”

You buy an external hard drive for you Mac. You want to format it for the Mac (Mac OS Extended (journaled)).

So you fire up Disk Utility to reformat. Choose erase, click go, and get “File system formatter failed.” shot back at you.

The problem:
The drive, like most, is set to FAT-32. This means you can’t just erase it because, like a bad ex-roommate, FAT-32 leaves all sorts of gross stuff everywhere.

The Solution:
You need to re-partition the drive. Sound tough? It isn’t.
1) You need to click on the actual drive in the menu on the left
2) Then choose partition from the menu on the top
3) Choose “1 Partition” (assuming that’s what you want)
4) click “apply”

screen shot of disk utility

That’s it. You can rename the drive in Disk Utility, or by clicking on the new drive on the desktop and then hitting return.