30 August 2006

Words you must read. Words you must understand

We don't have enough orators in this world anymore, at least not orators that make any damned sense. We get people like Bush, or Gore, or Rumsfeld who fancy themselves orators but, really, at their heart are passionless readers.

Except, that today, we may have found one. A writer, to be sure, of some prowess. A writer who, tonight, spoke the words that every American needs to hear and understand. Below is a transcript; this is a link to the video.

Dismissal of these words based on the source is foolish beyond even this generation. Not understanding these words importance is proof that you're part of the problem.

The man who sees absolutes, where all other men see nuances and shades of meaning, is either a prophet, or a quack.
Donald H. Rumsfeld is not a prophet.
Mr. Rumsfeld’s remarkable speech to the American Legion yesterday demands the deep analysis—and the sober contemplation—of every American.
For it did not merely serve to impugn the morality or intelligence -- indeed, the loyalty -- of the majority of Americans who oppose the transient occupants of the highest offices in the land. Worse, still, it credits those same transient occupants -- our employees -- with a total omniscience; a total omniscience which neither common sense, nor this administration’s track record at home or abroad, suggests they deserve.
Dissent and disagreement with government is the life’s blood of human freedom; and not merely because it is the first roadblock against the kind of tyranny the men Mr. Rumsfeld likes to think of as “his” troops still fight, this very evening, in Iraq.
It is also essential. Because just every once in awhile it is right and the power to which it speaks, is wrong.
In a small irony, however, Mr. Rumsfeld’s speechwriter was adroit in invoking the memory of the appeasement of the Nazis. For in their time, there was another government faced with true peril—with a growing evil—powerful and remorseless.
That government, like Mr. Rumsfeld’s, had a monopoly on all the facts. It, too, had the “secret information.” It alone had the true picture of the threat. It too dismissed and insulted its critics in terms like Mr. Rumsfeld’s -- questioning their intellect and their morality.
That government was England’s, in the 1930’s.
It knew Hitler posed no true threat to Europe, let alone England.
It knew Germany was not re-arming, in violation of all treaties and accords.
It knew that the hard evidence it received, which contradicted its own policies, its own conclusions — its own omniscience -- needed to be dismissed.
The English government of Neville Chamberlain already knew the truth.
Most relevant of all — it “knew” that its staunchest critics needed to be marginalized and isolated. In fact, it portrayed the foremost of them as a blood-thirsty war-monger who was, if not truly senile, at best morally or intellectually confused.
That critic’s name was Winston Churchill.
Sadly, we have no Winston Churchills evident among us this evening. We have only Donald Rumsfelds, demonizing disagreement, the way Neville Chamberlain demonized Winston Churchill.
History — and 163 million pounds of Luftwaffe bombs over England — have taught us that all Mr. Chamberlain had was his certainty — and his own confusion. A confusion that suggested that the office can not only make the man, but that the office can also make the facts.
Thus, did Mr. Rumsfeld make an apt historical analogy.
Excepting the fact, that he has the battery plugged in backwards.
His government, absolute -- and exclusive -- in its knowledge, is not the modern version of the one which stood up to the Nazis.
It is the modern version of the government of Neville Chamberlain.
But back to today’s Omniscient ones.
That, about which Mr. Rumsfeld is confused is simply this: This is a Democracy. Still. Sometimes just barely.
And, as such, all voices count -- not just his.
Had he or his president perhaps proven any of their prior claims of omniscience — about Osama Bin Laden’s plans five years ago, about Saddam Hussein’s weapons four years ago, about Hurricane Katrina’s impact one year ago — we all might be able to swallow hard, and accept their “omniscience” as a bearable, even useful recipe, of fact, plus ego.
But, to date, this government has proved little besides its own arrogance, and its own hubris.
Mr. Rumsfeld is also personally confused, morally or intellectually, about his own standing in this matter. From Iraq to Katrina, to the entire “Fog of Fear” which continues to envelop this nation, he, Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney, and their cronies have — inadvertently or intentionally — profited and benefited, both personally, and politically.
And yet he can stand up, in public, and question the morality and the intellect of those of us who dare ask just for the receipt for the Emporer’s New Clothes?
In what country was Mr. Rumsfeld raised? As a child, of whose heroism did he read? On what side of the battle for freedom did he dream one day to fight? With what country has he confused the United States of America?
The confusion we -- as its citizens— must now address, is stark and forbidding.
But variations of it have faced our forefathers, when men like Nixon and McCarthy and Curtis LeMay have darkened our skies and obscured our flag. Note -- with hope in your heart — that those earlier Americans always found their way to the light, and we can, too.
The confusion is about whether this Secretary of Defense, and this administration, are in fact now accomplishing what they claim the terrorists seek: The destruction of our freedoms, the very ones for which the same veterans Mr. Rumsfeld addressed yesterday in Salt Lake City, so valiantly fought.
And about Mr. Rumsfeld’s other main assertion, that this country faces a “new type of fascism.”
As he was correct to remind us how a government that knew everything could get everything wrong, so too was he right when he said that -- though probably not in the way he thought he meant it.
This country faces a new type of fascism - indeed.
Although I presumptuously use his sign-off each night, in feeble tribute, I have utterly no claim to the words of the exemplary journalist Edward R. Murrow.
But never in the trial of a thousand years of writing could I come close to matching how he phrased a warning to an earlier generation of us, at a time when other politicians thought they (and they alone) knew everything, and branded those who disagreed: “confused” or “immoral.”
Thus, forgive me, for reading Murrow, in full:
“We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty,” he said, in 1954. “We must remember always that accusation is not proof, and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law.
“We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men, not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate, and to defend causes that were for the moment unpopular.”
And so good night, and good luck.

29 August 2006

They are Not OK

The message from New Orleans is clear.

This country should be ashamed.

Say a few words for some of your countrymen today. It's more than the grandstanding in the Gulf Coast will do for them. (Seems to be a pattern.)

24 August 2006

Feedback

Scoble says that Steve Ball, group program manager for the Windows Audio Video Excellence team (hell of title) is reading all the blog, newsgroup, and beta feedback about the Vista sound.

For those of you not familiar, the Windows Audio Video Excellence team has decided that the default, startup sound for Windows Vista will not be configurable. They're considering allowing "advanced users" to disable the sound. How considerate.
Hey Steve, here's some feedback. Don't you ever, ever, tell me I can't turn a sound off. I know Microsoft probably paid a shit-ton of money to get just that sound, and good for you. But you know what, after hearing it for maybe a week, I'm going to want it off. Every corporate IT person in the world will want it off. You know why?

Imagine a Tuesday morning in late 2008. It's 7:56am. 500 people on a floor all start arriving for work. For the next 20 minutes the entire floor will echo with, what will be by that time, the insipid sound of Windows Vista booting up. Again. And all we have to look forward to is Wednesday when the whole damn thing happens again. And again. And again.

While many people are able to turn off their speakers, I can rattle off about 25 people from the top of my head who couldn't. They will play the Vista sound at full volume. Over. And over. And over.

Run Like Hell was a good song, too. Until they played it to death.

Let us turn off the sound. For the love of God, let us turn off that sound.

Hey Ray!

Brilliant political strategy or stupidest thing you've heard in a year?

Ray Nagin to CBS Reporter (on camera)
"That’s alright. You guys in New York can’t get a hole in the ground fixed and it’s five years later. So let’s be fair."

*head to desk*

[via Ashley Morris]

Blogger nation - The Detroit News Online

Check it out.. Ed Vielmetti is the lead interest in a Detroit News article about local bloggers. Blogs really are mainstream if The News picked it up.
I would have killed to have The News out Ann Arbor is Overrated, though.

23 August 2006

ARG! There's Goes Another Fact!

At some point, I believe I heard or read that the human mind has a certain capacity for retaining information, sort of like a hard drive. At some point, you have kick out data in order to accommodate new data.

Which makes reading articles like this so damn infuriating. BBC NEWS | UK | Cows also 'have regional accents'

First, let me get this out of the way: Who effin' cares? How, in any way, shape, or form, does this improve the life of anyone? A university in the UK paid someone to research this. The stunning conclusion was expressed by a local farmer:
I spend a lot of time with my ones and they definitely moo with a Somerset drawl
Lloyd Green
Farmer

Wow. Assuming it's true (and, let's just say it is), this idea wasn't valid until some professor pronounced it so. Only then does it get a BBC story.

Second, I read this due to the car-accident effect; the article simply couldn't be about actual cows with actual accents. But, oh yes, it was. And now some fact which will be important to me in the future has been kicked out of my head to make room for the fact that cows have accents.

And now you have experienced the same joy as I have.

News Flash: This Story *might* be a subliminal advertisement

As J-- said, must be a slow news day.

ABC News has just learned that Republicans have sex. In fact, they have so much of it, they're out-producing Democrats and creating a "Baby Gap". Like that? Baby Gap.. get it? It's like the store. Oh, and want a little trivia with your slow news day? Paul Pressler, President and CEO for Gap, Inc. since Sep 2002, joined the Gap, Inc. board after leaving.. anyone.. anyone? That's right, The Walt Disney Company, which owns.. anyone? If you said ABC News, you'd be smarter than the average American.

But, back to the real news.. baby gaps *snicker* in political groups. If you can get through the blatant stereotyping (Democrats have cats not kids, Republicans are Puritan abstainers) and rhetoric ("'They're for abortion policy, they're for same-sex marriage, they're for many of the agenda items that eventually mean you probably don't have children in the household,' [conservative pollster Kellyanne] Conway said").. hmm.. there's actually only one meaningful fact in the entire story.
Studying numbers from the General Social Survey — a government survey of social trends — [Syracuse University professor Arthur] Brooks found that 100 unrelated liberal adults have 147 children, while 100 unrelated conservatives have 208 kids.

This, apparently, constitutes news.

Oh, by the way ABC News, there's a couple countries threatening to toss nukes around, a major US city is still in ruin a year after a natural disaster, and the federal government is taking its first steps to a Gattaca-esque world.

Maybe you could send one of your "reporters" out to cover some of that.

21 August 2006

This list means something

Hmm..

  • Unbelievably expensive dinner (and damn good steak)
  • Wrapping paper
  • Chocolate Bill Knapp's cake
  • Candles
  • Dog begging for food at my feet

Well, four of those things are special. Must be my birthday. No more blogging today.

How to Set Up WordPress - Step by Step Video Tutorial

Kick-ass tutorial for getting your WordPress blog up and running. You'll have to resize the display window to get rid of the distortion in the Flash video, but it's fairly comprehensive, if a bit quick.
Wordpress Quickstart Screencast Tutorial (1)

Offered Without Comment

How to Deal with a Crazy Spouse

Idiots

As the anniversary of Katrina rolls over us, everyone is scrambling to do something "meaningful" to commemorate the event.

Like TalkLeft. Their brilliant idea?
Help water the bushes for the anniversary of Katrina.

Please send a bottle of water to:

President George Bush
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Put your return address as:

Ernest N. Morial Convention Center
900 Convention Center Boulevard
New Orleans, LA 70130

Har Har! Get it? Water the bushes? Yes, send your bottle of water to Washington, that'll really help the hundreds of thousands of people still waiting for work to begin on their homes in New Orleans. Send your bottle of water and wallow in your sense of self satisfaction and wittiness. Send your bottle of water and then go back to concentrating on mid-term election analysis.

Someone else will pick up your slack. Do-nothing, feel-good, blogging; yeah!

Keyboard Down

I'm thoroughly disappointed. My Microsoft Ergonomic 4000 keyboard, for which, I might add, I paid over $50 for, just crapped out on me in under 8 months of use. I've had nothing but love for Microsoft keyboards in the past, pounding Ergonomic Pros into the ground for over 6 years.

But I've never had a keyboard flat out die on me after less than a year. At first I thought had some driver corruption or a, god forbid, a virus. Hitting "x" resulted in nothing, pressing "s" 3 times opened the help for the application I was working in, hitting "\" printed out some machine code. After installing the Intellitype software and the keyboard on J--'s computer, however, and seeing the same thing, we knew the keyboard was toast.

I have a spare POS keyboard that came with J--'s computer, but it's straight and small, so I'll be running to get a new keyboard when I get some time. But the frustration of having only a few hours of our own over the weekend was compounded by the frustration of not being able to even type. Thank god the weather was bookmarked.

Maybe it's time to get a Logitech keyboard.

Bullshitr!

Classic.

Sort of NSFW URL.

integrate long-tail mashups
tag rss-capable networking
create rss-capable wikis

17 August 2006

Ah Jeez.. another "Virgin" sighting

Workers in some California chocolate factory spotted a clump of waste chocolate that, kid you not, looked like the Virgin Mary. You know, the same Virgin that seems to pop up beneath overpasses, in burned houses, and slices of 10-year-old toast.

You'd think the Virgin Mother would have better things to do.

Or, maybe, it's delusional people.

...but [Cruz] Jacinto said she froze when she noticed the unusual shape of this cast-off: It looked just like the Virgin Mary on the prayer card she always carries in her right pocket.

Uh, yeah... it's called pareidolia people. Look it up. Nevermind.

Hot Damn!

I am a Tabasco head. I have bottles everywhere; kitchen, den, work. If they made bottles for the Jeep I'd keep one there.

Which makes my discovery of Tabasco Food Service all the more surprising. How did I miss this site for years? How have I lived with my simple dashes of Tabasco on virtually every food I eat without making stuff like this?

[via this guy's LJ

Psychic Knew What JonBenet's Killer Looked Like?

A sketch created on a 1998 television show, when compared to a photo of the current suspect in the JonBenet case, has a "remarkable resemblance", according to the Denver Channel.

Take a look.. it's not just some "here's an vaguely familiar man" sketch; the "psychic" put a great deal of shading and features into the sketch, which correspond to the face of John Karr very well. I'm not postulating that she actually was psychic, but anyone know what the connection is here? Did she know the Ramsey's well? Would she have been privy to information not released publicly?

Because if she wasn't, that's one hell of a coincidence.

It's All Out There

Ladies and Gentlemen, Cats that Look Like Hitler.

Dot Com

Blogging Better

Check out this plugin for Firefox for blogging: Performancing.

[via Gen Kanai weblog: Performancing]

Update: After only a couple posts, I'm not impressed. The Blog This function is buggy, there's no spell check (essential for some of us), and there's just to many tabs, buttons, and sections. It's a nice tool, but I'm still liking Windows Live Writer or the stock WordPress editor.

16 August 2006

Wow, I Didn't Know You Could Do That

I'm all Web 2.0'd up with No Place to Go

YWKP web 2.0 logo

Oh yeah.. we're Web 2.0, baby. We're lean, mean, and we like to validate. Or something... Does any get this Web 2.0 thing, aside from the people trying to sell you something Web 2.0 related?
You can make your own logo here.

[via Micro Persuasion]

14 August 2006

Open Source Developers Add "No Military Use" Clause to License, Snicker as Friend Makes Farting Sound with Armpit

GPU, an open-source project that allows the formation of P2P grids, added a "no military use" clause to their GPL-based software license. The license says that

"the program and its derivative work will neither be modified or executed to harm any human being nor through inaction permit any human being to be harmed."

Which is cute and all in that Disney-esque picture of the world that the developers apparently have. But, it's the sort of hypocritical stance that sullies the name of open-source development. Open-source is just that, open. It's also, frankly, highly unlikely to be enforceable as there just in no precedent for excluding a specific user community based on intent.

The developer who inserted the clause cites ham radio operators as an inspiration, stating that a rule that says the technology can't be used commercially is "respected by almost every ham operator". Which, I suppose, is good enough, if we ignore those few who don't respect it. I fail to see a supporting argument in citing a closely-tied community respecting a rule to not use out-moded technology for commercial gain. Oh, and the military routinely used ham radios. Was that poof of smoke an argument?

Even Richard Stallman has his reservations, saying that even he doesn't support restricting the use of the software. Nevermind that grid computing might be used to say, oh, I don't know, simulate a scenario that leads to not attacking someone.

This is a self-serving addition by developers who obviously think a great deal about themselves. I hope the pats they've given themselves is sufficient comfort as many of us laugh at their gesture and watch a little bit of the open-source community's credibility drift away.

So, What's For Dinner?

The Picture that Defines Ann Arbor



Via Patrick Austin's photo stream, who takes some of the coolest photos of A2.

11 August 2006

Terror Starts at Home

Want to know why yesterday's foiled terrorist plot actually worked? Watch the show with zefrank - 08-10-06 and you'll understand. To wit:
Today the President said, "This nation is at war with Islamic fascists who will use any means to destroy those of us who love freedom to hurt our nation." Generalized statements like this which instill nebulous fear without specific information are exactly in line with the goals of terrorism.

Indeed.

10 August 2006

Land Use in NOLA

Why are developers always, always at loggerheads with residents? What is it about open land, rows of modest houses, and quiet neighborhoods that just screams "Build condos on me!!!"?
In many ways the Lower Ninth Ward incorporated all of the components of a lively, sustainable, engaging Smart Growth neighborhood. Residents understand the authentic connectivity that made their neighborhood work, the kind of physical, social and economic co-mingling that so many Americans desire, but which actually existed in the Lower Ninth.

It’s easy, even in the wreckage left by the hurricanes, to understand how the Lower Ninth Ward represents the idea of “neighborhood” and “community” — not as developers build them, or planners map them, or architects design them or politicians campaign in them. [source]

Hmm, that sounds downright lovely. With my developer hat firmly in place, I must recommend bulldozing the entire Ward and find my company's Johnny Mallseed to skip through town to sprinkle the area with Quik-E-Marts, 7-11s, and a Taco Bell. Then, when I have my "business district" in place, I can start plunking down boxy, 3-story, walk-ups, modestly landscaped and selling for three times the local market value. That'll price out all those undesirables.

To Do Today - New Orleans Wiki

So, in my continuing immersion (descent?) into all thing New Orleans, I have one nagging question at the fringes of my mind: How, exactly, does a Michigan resident (native and current) actually go about involving himself in, well, all things New Orleans? I can't go there with any regularity or, for that matter, at all, at the moment. I can't attend meetings or talk to citizens or any of that.

Or can I?

Excuse me while I wax poetic, but I can do much of this from the relative comfort of my home and/or office via the mystical experience of the Internet. From Blogometer to NorthWest Carollton, Think New Orleans to Gentilly Girl, Ray in New Orleans to Your Right Hand Thief, I can virtually participate. I can hear podcasts of meetings, collaborate on Wikis, comment on blogs. I can, for intents and purposes all my own, become part of a larger community, one that only exists because of technology. Granted, many of these blogs and the people behind them can interact in ways I cannot, but that's part of the community as well.

Which leads us full circle to the burning question: How, exactly, does this Michigan resident (native and current) involve himself in all things New Orleans? As I look, I see a list already exists for me at the New Orleans Wiki in the form of the To Do Today list.

Since Karen has clued me in to the BNOB documents as a starting point, it seems logical that I would start by populating the Architects and Non-profit Organizations databases at the Wiki. Alan mentioned that a whole lot of you are doing research; where would you like me to start?

09 August 2006

Return to Your Hovels, This Is Not An Election

So, I've been drawn into New Orleans politics, mostly because a) they matter and b) people around Ann Arbor think their politics are as important, which they are not. What got my hackles up was a "vote" conducted by Concordia Architecture and Planning (which I talked about over here). I'm still coming up to speed on a large backstory, but the current issue is basically this: planners are being chosen to rebuild the city after Katrina. Yeah, by the way, you should read some blogs from New Orleans; it's not all puppies and song-birds down there yet.
Think New Orleans exposed a process for receiving input from New Orleans citizens as a sham; many citizens groups considered the process a vote and their one opportunity to influence or outright choose the planners. Concordia, after the fact, is saying that it wasn't, and that the process was, in fact, a "consultation".

It should be noted that this "consultation" took the form of an easily-manipulated and impossible-to-verify online form, akin to, as Alan Gutierrez called it, a guestbook. Now Concordia is attempting to manage the damage, insisting that it wasn't a vote. I bit, jumping into the conversation.

As one of those who bit hard on calling that process a vote, I'm as guilty as anyone for propagating what, apparently, was a myth. But, that said, you can't call it a vote (and, let's be clear, it was called that on UNOP's site -- and still is (Google cache) -- and then change the marketing of that voting event in mid-stream because you don't like people latching onto that word.

But, really, the only questions left fall into the "what now" category. Concordia, the ball is in your court. Since you have carried out an unbelievably flawed "consultation", not utilized the only means to identify voters (their codes), and failed to even consider how to include over 75% of the population of the city, how do you prove (not state, but convince) those watching this democratic process that the flavor of this process isn't as rotten as it smells?

Your own model states: "Concordia has been developing tools to promote the comprehensive planning and design of facilities in the context of the total community." The total community. I think, measured against your own model, you have missed the voice of the total community and, out of principal, should want to do it again, correctly.

Concordia seems to be managing this democratic process. They are also the ones fighting for buy-in, the whole while promising this was the important moment. Well Concordia, the challenge is, for you, this: your words have created importance around an event your now wish to downplay. The proverbial genie is out of the bottle. The responsibility now lies in your hands to legitimize the event, because right now, it's looking pretty discredited. And, as action goes, so follows reputation.

This was, for anyone without a vested interest in it not being so, an election. Hell, you have the Mayor calling it "democracy in action". It's time to drop the smoke, mirrors, and pretense and 'fess up. How, precisely, will this democratic process work? How, precisely, will you collect legitimate "consultations" from the citizens of New Orleans? And how, precisely, are the citizens of New Orleans being made, not made to feel, vested in the activities that will will rebuild their city?

Think New Orleans » For the Record, This Is Not An Election

AOL - "There is not a whole lot we can do."

AOL recently released the search records of thousands of "anonymized" users. Except, user 4417749 was pretty easy to track down. She's a 62-year old from Georgia and the New York Times tracked her down and interviewed her.

AOL's response? "There is not a whole lot we can do." Stunning. Thanks, AOL, for proving once again that you don't get it. Of course there's nothing you can do because you should have done anything in the first place. Why, in the name of all that's holy, did you post that information in the first place?

As some in the article point out, now we can talk about the long-term aspects of the breaching someone privacy like this and the boundaries of where our data can and can't go.  It's a long overdue converstation. Too bad we had to drag the search habits of a grandmother into the street in order for us to talk about it.
New York Times article

Care to Back That Up?

Expert: 40 Percent of World of Warcraft Players Addicted | TwitchGuru

Ah, yes, another "Games are The Ruin of Society" expert. In this week's episode, the good Dr. Maressa Orzack. Dr. Orzack is the founder of Computer Addiction Services, which in no way compromises her objectiveness. She is "swamped" with addicted gamers coming into her addicted gamer treatment center, which is a hell of a coincidence.

World of Warcraft takes center-stage in this interview with TwitchGuru, a shocking turn for the press as it finally shifts its focus from the glamorous world of Hello Kitty console games and handheld, stand-alone Yahtzee units. Shining a dim light on the underbelly of the gaming world, Dr. Orzack absolves the gamer and places the blame squarely where it belongs; on the game company.
They design these MMOs to keep people in the game. I do think the problem is tied in with other things like family issues, but the games themselves are inherently addictive. That's ultimately the cause of the problem. [emphasis mine]

Those poor victims of Blizzard's dastardly plan to rule the world via subscription. Ah, then we get to my favorite part of the show; the numbers.

Well, let's take World of Warcraft as an example. Let's say there are around 6 million subscribers for the game. I'd say that 40 percent of the players are addicted.

Wow, 40%?  2.4 million people are addicted to World of Warcraft? Can any other drug, game, or activity claim a 40% addiction rate (besides the crack they are apparently handing out to researchers)? And how did she arrive at this  statistic? We have no idea. There are no citations, no studies mentioned, just some number plucked from the air by a doctor with much to gain by propagating the idea of widespread, highly-contagious addiction to an entertainment media.

Now, do I think people can be addicted to video games? Sure, why not. People are addicted to the oddest things: food, gambling, spray paint. But, do I think that 40% of WoW players are addicts. Hell no. Of course the game is designed to pull you in, that's its purpose. No one would pay $15 a month to play something that wasn't compelling. But, at it's heart, it's a game and if you can't let go of the game, the problem is you, not the game.

Chelsea Fire Authority Proposal Doesn't Pass...

... but, it was close. 17 votes.
I voted against this proposal. Why? I didn't understand the benefit. I read the article in the paper and my reaction was "there is no added value to me for voting this through". Most of Chelsea lives less than 5 minutes from a fully-staffed firehouse and the services have been outstanding. We have a full-time chief. This Proposal felt like an accounting move, not something that would make us all now live less than 3 minutes from the fire house.

More than anything, I didn't understand the need. As a business-type person, no one took the time to explain to me what issue was being solved with this proposal, with more of my money.

And then, the kicker; that last line: "A small portion of the revenue collected may be required to be distributed to the City of Chelsea Downtown Development Authority." Please, someone, tell me what that's supposed to mean? How did the DDA get a cut of a Fire Authority proposal? What's that money for? How much of the $1.4 million dollars do they get?

If there's a compelling reason to give the City more money, that's one thing. But slapping a ill-defined proposal with "Fire Authority" and trotting out missives like the last line of the Proposal just doesn't cut it.

Update: I didn't link to the results page. It's here.

07 August 2006

Outsourcing Democracy - How an Election is Being Stolen as You Read

New Orleans parishes are in the process of choosing the planners that will guide the rebuilding of the city. These are people who will be tasked with urban planning, clean-up, and spending millions of dollars in federal aide money.And they're choosing these people via an online poll. You read that right, an online poll. It gets better. Want to qualify to vote in this election? Guess what, since you're online, you already do! Oh yeah, the only qualification to vote is a valid email address.  And, the kicker, the poll is being run by a local architectural firm. Hm, wonder if they stand to gain by, say, having one of their own become the planner for the old French Quarter?

This is a travesty of a election, hardly worth the use of the word. Between this website, my ISP, work, and Google, I could easily vote over 50 times in an election for New Orleans. No one would ever be able to verify that I was, in fact, a resident of Michigan. No one would ever be able to verify that onlinepollssuck@youknowwhatpart.com isn't being used by a legitimate New Orleans resident (hey, I just host email accounts for displaced residents). And worst of all, the poorest and hardest hit of residents aren't likely to have email addresses, internet access, or even computers. Where is their voice in this process?

This is your money, your tax dollars, that are going to be spent to rebuild New Orleans, not just the residents of Louisiana or New Orleans.

The word needs to get out. Tell a friend, call a paper, submit this to every political site you can. Digg the story, it's been submitted to Slashdot, hell, go read the original article yourself.

04 August 2006

I've been scraped

So, I found an interesting thing today; my site has been scraped, my content stolen. The last post here has been posted, in it's entirety, on two spammer website. Both WHOIS lookups go through proxies, one Tor and one at Carnegie Mellon University. You can see both stolen posts here and here (yes, I'm linking to the spammers). So, aside from the image I've replacee (since they deep-linked to my image), what else can you do about this? There's no contact links, obviously, and the poster is hiding behind proxies.

Ideas?

Stupid Windows Tricks - Trusted Web Sites

This post is in a new category, "Spot the Sarcasm"; guess why.
Windows has a wonderful feature for Internet Explorer users called Trusted sites. Trusted sites are described as "Web sites that you trust not to damage your computer or data." Pretty straightforward, right?

But, as they say, the devil is in the details. Let's say you have a web application that lives at www.webapp.edu. www.webapp.edu uses a central single-signon service for authentication; let's call that www.signon.edu. Both www.webapp.edu and www.signon.edu are listed in the Trusted sites zone for Internet Explorer.

If you now attempt to log into www.webapp.edu via www.signon.edu, you get a security warning.

stupid_error.jpg

Considering it's Microsoft, I let a little slide. But this rates as one of the stupidest security errors I can think of. Let's break it down.

Both sites listed are on my Trusted sites list, a list I had to manually edit to add the sites. That means I spent time and effort to verify that the sites were trusted, find the zone, and then enter the sites. The warning states "If you don't trust the current Web page, choose No." Why would I ever choose No? Both sites have already been trusted. Both sites are obviously known to me. Why am I even given this dialog box?

Then, let's look at the dialog box. For "security", the focus is defaulted to No, the option I don't want 999,999 out of 1,000,000 times. It's also lacking, for security, a basic of standard dialog boxes: hotkeys. This one? No way. I have to either click Yes or arrow over to Yes. Dismissing the dialog results in.. ? Anyone, anyone? That's right, a 404 error; very intuitive to the average Internet Explorer user.
But let's think about what sites go on a Trusted site list, since Microsoft did not. It's highly likely that sites manually added to that list are put there because I a) trust them and b) go to them a lot. I want them on that list because that security zone is more open, allows more browsing freedom, maybe requires it for functionality (yes, Web apps use pop-ups). Why do I have to confirm every single visit to a "trusted" site, but not to any other random site not listed as a trusted site? Logically, if I don't trust a site, shouldn't I need to verify that I do, in fact, want to go there? (Note to IE team, please, for the love of God, don't implement this hypothetical.)

And, the best part of all? It is not optional for me or my team to use either IE or have our sites listed as Trusted sites. Our division administrators have placed both www.webapp.edu and www.signon.edu in the Trusted sites list and Webapp requires IE for certain administrative functions.

To all our users, Firefox is supported (thank goodness); I would recommend it for you. To Microsoft, please hire more user experience engineers. When you see posts like "Deleting a Shortcut In Windows Vista Takes How Many Steps?" on Gizmodo, you have issues.

03 August 2006

Is there an undeclared Stupid Headline Contest going on?

Seriously, headlines don't have to be Pulitzer-worthy, but at least try.

Heavy people may collapse more in heat - Yahoo! News

Up next:

Anorexics weigh less, drift in wind
Cancer is bad, cure to be discussed
Computers are getting faster, used by "nurds"

For any Farkers out there, please forward Ric Romero's number.