Quotes in 2008

Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Bush is going to go down as one of the worst presidents in history. A lot of conservatives kept their mouths shut at the time because they didn’t want to be crucified like me. I thought Bush would have to go a long way to beat Richard Nixon and Herbert Hoover but, at the last minute, he pushed the ball across the line and brought on the new Great Depression.

--Bruce Bartlett
Read the rest in George W Bush’s $300m library in danger of becoming white elephant

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Everyone seems to be hailing Nassim Nicholas Taleb as the man who saw the crisis coming. I have a problem with this. It’s not that what Taleb says about risk is wrong. Quite the opposite. It just strikes me as trivially true.
We’ve known for ages that returns are non-Gaussian, that extreme events are more common than a normal distribution predicts, and that risk can’t be quantified simply, if at all. The Black Swan, then, was just an entertaining if a little egocentric way of telling us what we already knew.

So, when I read in it (p43) that bankers “are not conservative at all; just phenomenally skilled at self-deception by burying the possibility of a large, devastating, loss under the rug” I thought: “But surely they’ve learnt from statistics and experience by now. Their risk management can’t be as terrible as Taleb claims. I know bosses are stupid, but they can‘t be this gibberingly, imbecilically, carpet-chewingly, moronically cretinous, can they?” I suspect most economists thought my way.

It looks like we were wrong and Taleb right.

But this isn’t because Taleb had any great insights into the nature of risk. It‘s because he thought banks‘ risk managers were idiots, whilst economists didn’t think so - not even me.

In doing this, however, we were just following economists’ standard procedure - of assuming that agents were if not rational then at least not wholly stupid.

For me, all this is very troubling.  It suggests that what we economists have to learn from Taleb has nothing to do with the nature of risk - we‘ve all known that - but about others’ rationality. We should ditch the assumption - which in a sense is mere courtesy - not only that others are rational but even the weaker assumption that they are nearly so. Perhaps we should indeed regard them merely as “empty suits.”

--Chris Dillow
Read the rest in Stumbling and Mumbling: Taleb vs economists

Friday, December 26, 2008

Right now the shareholders of a public company are at the mercy of management. Without an expensive proxy fight, the shareholders cannot nominate or vote for their own representatives on the Board of Directors. The CEO nominates a slate of golfing buddies to serve on the Board, while he or she will in turn serve on their boards. Lately it seems that the typical CEO’s golfing buddies have decided on very generous compensation for the CEO, often amount to a substantial share of the company’s profits. The golfing buddies have also decided that the public shareholders should be diluted by stock options granted to top executives and that the price on those options should be reset every time the company’s stock takes a dive (probably there is a lot of option price resetting going on right now! Wouldn’t want your CEO to lose incentive).

If current trends continue, the CEO and the rest of the executive team will eventually have salaries that consume 100 percent of a public company’s profits and they will collect half ownership of the company via stock options every few years. Who would want to invest in that? Not sophisticated investors, it turns out. Big universities such as Harvard and Yale have reduced their exposure to U.S. public companies down to about 15 percent. Instead of buying a forestry company and watching the managers steal the trees, they’ve chosen to own forests directly. Given the laziness of university administrators, it should have been a wake-up call to the SEC that something needed to change when Harvard preferred to run its own forests.

Corporations are supposed to operate for the benefit of shareholders. The only way that this can happen is if a majority of Directors are nominated by and selected by shareholders. It may have been the case that social mores in the 1950s constrained CEO-nominated Boards from paying their friend $50 million per year, but those mores are apparently gone and the present structure in which management regulates itself serves only to facilitate large-scale looting by management.

--Philip Greenspun
Read the rest in Philip Greenspun’s Weblog » Time for corporate governance reform?

Monday, December 22, 2008
there's a law of diminishing returns at work. As languages evolve, each new addition becomes more complicated, because it has to interact with more conflicting constructs. More complicated extensions cause proportionally more difficulties for future extensions, so it might even be a quadratic increase in complexity. At some point, the additions are no longer worth their price. That's the point when sometimes a new language has a chance of replacing an established one.

--Martin Odersky
Read the rest in Seeking the Joy in Java

Sunday, December 21, 2008

What's most striking is not that we have zero intention of prosecuting the serious crimes committed by our leading establishment figures.  It's that we don't even recognize them as crimes -- or even serious transgressions -- at all.  To the contrary, we still demand that those who are culpable be treated as dignified, respectable, serious and inherently good leaders.  Real outrage is never generated by the crimes and outrages they have undertaken, but only when they are not given their proper respectful due as leading American elites.  Hence:

An Iraqi citizen throws his shoes at an American President who -- all based on false pretenses -- invaded, occupied and obliterated his country; set up prisons where his fellow citizens were encaged without trials and subjected to brutal treatment; slaughtered hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians and displaced millions more.  And the outrage is predominantly directed at the disrespect, irreverence and the "ingratitude" displayed by the shoe-thrower, not the murderous and inhumane acts of the dignified American leader. 

Tom Friedman goes on national television and sociopathically justifies the attack on another country by the need to make its citizens "Suck. On. This," and while Friedman is universally treated as one of America's most cherished and important public intellectuals, it's the college student who throws a harmless pie in Friedman's face to protest his deranged and highly damaging war-cheerleading that prompts angry condemnation ("absolutely horrifying," protested vocal Iraq war supporter Jonathan Chait).  Dick Cheney -- on his way to a lavishly rich and respectful retirement full of five-and-six-figure-speech-fees -- giddily admits to war crimes and other brutal and illegal acts, and TNR is angry that Eliot Spitzer is allowed to opine in public before being humiliated and humbled some more.

The reason the American political establishment tenaciously refuses to acknowledge the devastation and crimes that have been unleashed during the Bush era is obvious:  aside from the generalized belief that Americans are inherently good and thus incapable of meriting terms such as "aggressive wars" and "war criminals" no matter what they actually do (those phrases are applicable only to lesser foreigners), most of the establishment supported these crimes and the criminals who unleashed them.  We can therefore tolerate thinking about Bush officials and their bipartisan enablers as political and opinion leaders who (with the best of intentions) embraced what turned out to be some misguided policies, but not as people whose criminal acts led to death and suffering on an enormous scale and an almost complete degradation of whatever was still commendable about American political values.  

--Glenn Greenwald
Read the rest in Prostitution vs. war crimes: The real moral offense

Friday, December 19, 2008

Unfortunately, no one has been able to figure out Sun's business plan. When McNealy was at the helm, the business plan seemed to be "Microsoft is bad." This went by the wayside when Microsoft paid them a billion dollars (seems like it would have been cheaper for Microsoft to just buy a billion dollars worth of stock and save the legal fees) in the Java legal settlement. Hmm ... I guess this makes Java the most profitable thing Sun has done for the last ten years.

But Java was created in a company run by a hyper-competitive CEO and the whole culture around it has been competitive. Many decisions were made without the consumer (programmers) in mind, but with Sun's apparent best interests in mind. For example, generics and closures and a number of other features could have been added -- cleanly -- in the original language, but there was a certainty that it had to be rushed to market or an important opportunity would have been lost.

--Bruce Eckel
Read the rest in Will Open-Sourcing Java Remove Competetive Corporate

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Warren, a creationist, believes that homosexuality disproves evolution; he told CNN's Larry King in 2005, "If Darwin was right, which is survival of the fittest then homosexuality would be a recessive gene because it doesn't reproduce and you would think that over thousands of years that homosexuality would work itself out of the gene pool."

Warren protests that he's not a homophobe; it's just that two dudes marrying, in his mind, is indistinguishable from an adult marrying a child, a brother marrying his sister, or polygamy. He thinks his AIDS relief efforts represent an elevated form of Christianity over those non-evangelical do-gooders whom he compares to "Marxists" because they're more interested in good works than salvation. The rejection of the "social justice" gospel in favor of the salvation-focused evangelicalism that has come to dominate the definition of "Christian" lies at the heart of the religious right agenda to marginalize liberalism and harness its political power.

Warren represents the absolute worst of the Democrats' religious outreach, a right-winger masquerading as a do-gooder anointed as the arbiter of what it means to be faithful. Obama's religious outreach was intended, supposedly, to make religious voters more comfortable with him and feel included in the Democratic Party. But that outreach now has come at the expense of other people's comfort and inclusion, at an event meant to mark a turning point away from divisive politics.

--Sarah Posner
Read the rest in What's the Matter With Rick Warren?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008
I’ve been at rallies and seen him speak, and I feel that feeling that one feels. It is thrilling. And it’s churlish not to allow yourself to be thrilled. We crave inspiration, and it’s a bleak life to always be dissecting things. But the main feeling that Obama creates in me is fear, because I see people fooling themselves. If you actually look at his policies, what they reflect is the triumph of the right-wing political paradigm since Reagan, and I think he could set things back dramatically, because for young people who are getting engaged in politics for the first time, for them to be disillusioned is very, very damaging.

--Avi Lewis
Read the rest in Profiles: Outside Agitator: Reporting & Essays: The New Yorker

Tuesday, December 16, 2008
I don’t want to appear too cynical, but when I first saw the "Yes We Can" rock video that Will.I.Am made, my first response was ‘Wow, finally a politician is making ads that are as good as Nike’s. The "Yes We Can" slogan means whatever you want it to mean. It’s very "Just Do It." When you hear it, you catch yourself thinking, Yeah! We’re gonna end torture and shut down Guantánamo and get out of Iraq! And then you think, Wait a minute, is he really saying that? He’s not really saying that, is he? He’s saying we’re going to send more troops to Afghanistan. He’s telling regular people what they want to hear, and then in the back rooms he’s making deals and signing on to the status quo.

--Naomi Klein
Read the rest in Profiles: Outside Agitator: Reporting & Essays: The New Yorker

Friday, December 12, 2008
in the database industry, there is not a strong culture of standards conformance. People have come to regard it as acceptable that each vendor's dialect of SQL contains "added value" extensions, and this mindset is carrying through to the XQuery world. It's not just a vendor attitude, it's also a user attitude - they don't expect or demand conformance, so they don't get it. That's partly of course because they would be locked in to the vendor anyway, because even if the query language is interoperable, so many other aspects of the product aren't: the database loading and tuning utilities, backup procedures, etc etc.

--Michael Kay on the xml-dev Wednesday, 26 Nov 2008 08:57:29

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A friend of mine looked at the final projects of a class of third-year CS students from a famous university. Essentially all had their code littered with “magic constants.” They had never been taught that was bad style – in fact they had never been taught about programming style because the department “taught computer science; not programming.” That is, programming was seen as a lowly skill that students either did not need or could easily pick up on their own.

I have seen the result of that attitude in new graduate students: It is rare that anyone thinks about the structure of their code or the implications for scaling and maintenance – those are not academic subjects. Students are taught good practical and essential topics, such as algorithms, data structures, machine architecture, programming languages, and “systems,” but only rarely do they “connect the dots” to see how it all fits together in a maintainable program.

--Bjarne Stroustrup
Read the rest in Bjarne Stroustrup on Educating Software Developers

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

There are three kinds of optimization.

  1. Optimization by using a more sensible overall approach.
  2. Optimization by making the code less weird.
  3. Optimization by making the code more weird.

You've probably heard, and maybe even spouted yourself, the phrase "premature optimization is the root of all evil." It's exclusively "Type 3 optimization" that this aphorism applies to. Types 1 and 2 are quite fine to engage in pre-emptively.

--Kevin Bourrillion
Read the rest in smallwig: The smallwig theory of optimization

Monday, December 8, 2008

when it comes to distributions, ease of installation has actually been one of my main issues - I'm a technical person, but I have a very specific area of interest, and I don't want to fight the rest. So the only distributions I have actively avoided are the ones that are known to be "overly technical" - like the ones that encourage you to compile your own programs etc.

Yeah, I can do it, but it kind of defeats the whole point of a distribution for me. So I like the ones that have a name of being easy to use. I've never used plain Debian, for example, but I like Ubuntu. And before Debian people attack me - yeah, I know, I know, it's supposedly much simpler and easier to install these days. But it certainly didn't use to be, so I never had any reason to go for it. '

--Linus Torvalds
Read the rest in Linus Torvalds, Geek of the Week

Friday, December 5, 2008

Time and again, whether at the state level, in Congress or at the Securities and Exchange Commission under Bill Donaldson, those who tried to enforce the basic principles that would allow the market to survive were told that the "invisible hand" of the market and self-regulation could handle the task alone.

The reality is that unregulated competition drives corporate behavior and risk-taking to unacceptable levels. This is simply one of the ways in which some market participants try to gain a competitive advantage. As one lawyer for a company charged with malfeasance stated in a meeting in my office (amazingly, this was intended as a winning defense): "You're right about our behavior, but we're not as bad as our competitors."

No major market problem has been resolved through self-regulation, because individual competitive behavior doesn't concern itself with the larger market. Individual actors care only about performing better than the next guy, doing whatever is permitted -- or will go undetected. Look at the major bubbles and market crises. Long-Term Capital Management, Enron, the subprime lending scandals: All are classic demonstrations of the bitter reality that greed, not self-discipline, rules where unfettered behavior is allowed.

Those who truly understand economics, as did Adam Smith, do not preach an absence of government participation. A market doesn't exist in a vacuum. Rather, a market is a product of laws, rules and enforcement. It needs transparency, capital requirements and fidelity to fiduciary duty. The alternative, as we are seeing, is anarchy.

One of the great advantages U.S. capital markets have enjoyed over the decades has been the view -- held worldwide -- that there was an underlying integrity to the representations market participants made, because the regulatory framework in which they were made was believed to provide genuine oversight. But as we all know, the laws requiring such integrity are meaningless without a government dedicated to enforcing them.

--Eliot Spitzer
Read the rest in How to Ground The Street

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Palin nightmare also happened because a tiny faction of political professionals has far too much sway in the GOP and conservative circles. This was Bill Kristol's achievement.

It was a final product of the now-exhausted strategy of fomenting fundamentalist resentment to elect politicians dedicated to the defense of Israel and the extension of American military hegemony in every corner of the globe. Palin was the reductio ad absurdum of this mindset: a mannequin candidate, easily controlled ideologically, deployed to fool and corral the resentful and the frightened, removed from serious scrutiny and sold on propaganda networks like a food product.

This deluded and delusional woman still doesn't understand what happened to her; still has no self-awareness; and has never been forced to accept her obvious limitations. She cannot keep even the most trivial story straight; she repeats untruths with a ferocity and calm that is reserved only to the clinically unhinged; she has the educational level of a high school drop-out; and regards ignorance as some kind of achievement. It is excruciating to watch her - but more excruciating to watch those who feel obliged to defend her.

-- Andrew Sullivan
Read the rest in The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan (November 12, 2008)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

At the moment the Supreme Court consists of one very smart centrist-liberal Democrat, Ruth Bader Ginsburg; one very smart centrist-centrist Democrat, Stephen Breyer; one very old good-hearted Republican, John Paul Stevens; one very tired center-right Republican, David Souter; one right-establishment Republican, Anthony Kennedy; and four raving Republican wingnuts with varying degrees of cleverness. Seven Republicans, only three of them attached to reality, and two Democrats.

This degree of Republican partisan entrenchment in the court is--in a word--bizarre. It is not a good thing.

--Brad Delong
Read the rest in Grasping Reality with Both Hands

Monday, December 1, 2008
In the absence of dedicated designers, many contributors to a project try to contribute to human interface design, regardless of how much they know about the subject. And multiple designers leads to inconsistency, both in vision and in detail. The quality of an interface design is inversely proportional to the number of designers.

--Matthew Paul Thomas
Read the rest in Matthew Paul Thomas » Blog Archive » Why Free Software has poor usability, and how to improve it

Thursday, November 27, 2008
Xcode isn't bad, but it won't knock your socks off. Compared to IDEs like Eclipse or Visual Studio, it's not exactly fully-featured. The core features (text editing, syntax highlighting, autocompletion, integrated debugging) are there, but they generally lack the polish and maturity that Visual Studio and Eclipse provide. As the primary development environment for the Mac, it's serviceable, but still behind equivalents on other platforms. It is certainly improving, though; the mass migration to Xcode from previous Mac development environments has put Xcode in the spotlight a bit more, and it will continue to benefit from the attention.

--Peter Bright
Read the rest in From Win32 to Cocoa: a Windows user's conversion to Mac OS X—Part III: Page 2

Wednesday, November 26, 2008
The U.S. invasion of Afghanistan achieved wonders--but only in the short term. Today, Taliban and Al Qaeda leaders are running free. Pakistan seems unable or unwilling to clamp down on leading militants on its territory, and jihadist attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan have increased enormously in the past year. More Pakistani citizens died in militant violence in 2007 than in the previous five years combined. Similarly, in Afghanistan's eastern provinces, violence is up by 40 percent in the last several months; more American soldiers are now dying in Afghanistan than in Iraq. And, as is by now well-known, U.S. intelligence assesses that Al Qaeda has regrouped along the Afghan-Pakistan border.

--Peter Bergen
Read the rest in A Man, A Plan, Afghanistan

Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Programmers experience soaring joy when they can rip through code deleting functions and declarations, screens-full into the bit bucket, with the steady drumbeat of tests-fail-then-pass.

--Tim Bray
Read the rest in ongoing · Build One to Throw Away

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Higher-higher-order functions and inferred types, or lists of lists of pairs whose cdr happens to represent some concept (except when it represents another concept) will all give you that occasional “ouch, there’s a error message, but I don’t think there should be!” The code looks fine, so why does the type checker not like it? (it probably took something you wrote, took it all wrong, drew impressive conclusions and is now reporting a problem at a completely different place). The program state and the code both look fine, but they differ in the level of nesting of some unnamed construct (e.g. a closure or a list where a value was expected).

I strongly associate higher-order functional programming with long stretches of uninterrupted concentrated programming work, and single-person projects. In contrast, OO gives you a pragmatic, shallow paradigm for making software intelligible and available for cooperation.

Closures can be a nice tool for creating your own DSL, to make your code get closer to the design model. But closures can also take you further away from the design model, by creating constructs that only make sense in the abstract.

Object-oriented programming was introduced to fill a need not satisfied by functional and imperative languages. Remember: Going from functional to OO is an advance.

--Axel Wienberg
Read the rest in Wunschdenken» Blogarchiv » From Functional to Object

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

we must confront head-on the pervasive misunderstanding of what constitutes a "free market." For long stretches of the past 30 years, too many Americans fell prey to the ideology that a free market requires nearly complete deregulation of banks and other financial institutions and a government with a hands-off approach to enforcement. "We can regulate ourselves," the mantra went.

Those of us who raised red flags about this were scoffed at for failing to understand or even believe in "the market." During my tenure as New York state attorney general, my colleagues and I sought to require investment banking analysts to provide their clients with unbiased recommendations, devoid of undisclosed and structural conflicts. But powerful voices with heavily vested interests accused us of meddling in the market.

When my office, along with the Department of Justice, warned that some of American International Group's reinsurance transactions were little more than efforts to create the false impression of extra capital on the company's balance sheet, we were jeered at for attacking one of the nation's great insurance companies, which surely knew how to balance risk and reward.

And when the attorneys general of all 50 states sought to investigate subprime lending, believing that some lending practices might be toxic, we were blocked by a coalition of the major banks and the Bush administration, which invoked a rarely used statute to preempt the states' ability to probe. The administration claimed that it had the situation under control and that our inquiry was unnecessary.

--Eliot Spitzer
Read the rest in How to Ground The Street

Monday, November 17, 2008
The eternal fear of Java core libraries is to never break existing applications (by the way, the Swing forums are rife with examples of applications that break when migrated to a newer JDK versions; it doesn’t have to be EDT violations, something as simple as event firing condition due to a bug fix is enough). This fear has us stuck with Ocean as the default look-and-feel. This fear has us stuck with tons of deprecated APIs that unnecessarily complicate the learning curve for the novice users (how many ways to catch an Enter key on text field?) This fear has us stuck with obsolete layout managers (gridbag, spring). And by the way, this fear also prevents the core developers from adding new functionality out of the fear itself that they might get it wrong the first time and get stuck with it forever.

--Kirill Grouchnikov
Read the rest in Kirill Grouchnikov's Blog: Sun setting down on the core Swing

Friday, November 14, 2008
The notion that non-programmers should be able to write programs, while inherently self-contradictory, has been a goal for computer science ever since computers were invented. The technology that came closest to success in this was probably the spreadsheet (Visicalc). There are millions of non-programmers, or at any rate self-taught programmers, writing code (often rather bad code) in a wide variety of languages including Javascript, XSLT, SQL, XPath and lots more.

--Michael Kay on the xml-dev mailing list, Monday, 11 Feb 2008 09:26:38

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The whole point (and the original idea) behind patents in the US legal sense was to encourage innovation. If you actually look at the state of patents in the US today, they do no such thing. Certainly not in software, and very arguably not in many other areas either.

Quite the reverse - patents are very much used to stop competition, which is undeniably the most powerful way to encourage innovation. Anybody who argues for patents is basically arguing against open markets and competition, but they never put it in those terms.

So the very original basis for the patents is certainly not being fulfilled today, which should already tell you something. And that's probably true in pretty much any area.

But the reason patents are especially bad for software is that software isn't some single invention where you can point to a single new idea. Not at all. All relevant software is a hugely complex set of very detailed rules, and there are millions of small and mostly trivial ideas rather than some single clever idea that can be patented. The worth of the software is not in any of those single small decisions, but in the whole. It's also distressing to see that people patent ‘ideas’. It's not even a working "thing"; it's just a small way of doing things that you try to patent, just to have a weapon in an economic fight. Sad. Patents have lost all redeeming value, if they ever had any. '

--Linus Torvalds
Read the rest in Linus Torvalds, Geek of the Week

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

the idea of massive polling-place fraud (through the use of inflated voter rolls) is inherently incredible. Suppose I want to swing the Missouri election for my preferred presidential candidate. I would have to figure out who the fake, dead or missing people on the registration rolls are, then pay a lot of other individuals to go to the polling place and claim to be that person, without any return guarantee – thanks to the secret ballot – that any of them will cast a vote for my preferred candidate.

Those who do show up at the polls run the risk of being detected and charged with a felony. And for what – $10? Polling-place fraud, in short, makes no sense.

The Justice Department devoted unprecedented resources to ferreting out fraud over five years and appears to have found not a single prosecutable case across the country. Of the many experts consulted, the only dissenter from that position was a representative of the now-evaporated American Center for Voting Rights.

The arguments against vote fraud were built on a house of cards, a house that is collapsing as quickly as the U.S. attorney investigation moves forward.

But despite the demise of the voting rights center, the idea that there is massive polling-place voter fraud has, perhaps irrevocably, entered the public consciousness. It has infected even the Supreme Court's thinking about voter-ID laws. And it has provided intellectual cover for the continued partisan pursuit of voter-ID laws that may suppress minority votes.

--Richard L. Hasen, William H. Hannon distinguished professor at Loyola Law School
Read the rest in Richard Hasen: The fraudulent fraud squad | News for Dallas, Texas | Dallas Morning News | Opinion: Points

Monday, November 10, 2008
I think for strong-willed and potentially strong-stomached investors there will be some exceptional buying opportunities out there. I don’t know which way our price is going right now, but I know there is a reason they call it a business cycle and not a business vector.

--Jonathan Schwartz
Read the rest in Sun Microsystems: A Lesson in Failed Cosmetic Surgery - Bits Blog

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Science (and to a great degree, the science-oriented birding community) is quite comfortable dealing with trends, correlations, nuances, shades of gray. Science deals in objective assessement of the natural world based on facts, and rarely does nature lay the facts out neatly a la a one hour episode of "Law & Order".

On the other hand, public policy setters & makers & even private grant-funders usually like things --- if not outright REQUIRE things--- to be sharp, crisp, either-or, yes or no, black or white. They want the evidence pinned down & neatly laid out in a bullet-pointized & PowerPointed 10 minute song & dance presentation, never mind something as long & complex as Law & Order. No, I take it back, make that a 30 minute media spot complete with catchy slogan and skimpily clad female. Doesn't matter if it's accurate or not, they just want it to look good so they can blame somebody else when/if their constituency questions the policy decision.

So science is often put in a difficult position, and sometimes science's famous/infamous purposeful vagueness in the interest of accuracy gets lost in translation when it enters the public sector.

--Miriam Davey on the LABIRD-L mailing list, Sunday, Fri, 28 Mar 2008 08:33:29

Friday, November 7, 2008
Microsoft flacks are desperately dialing reporters to spin them about "phase two" of the ad campaign — a phase, due to be announced tomorrow, which will drop the aging comic altogether. Microsoft's version of the story: Redmond had always planned to drop Seinfeld. The awkward reality: The ads only reminded us how out of touch with consumers Microsoft is — and that Bill Gates's company has millions of dollars to waste on hiring a has-been funnyman to keep him company.

--Owen Thomas
Read the rest in Microsoft announcement tomorrow: No more Seinfeld ads!

Thursday, November 6, 2008
To just say "Noah's phone number is 555-1234" in Java really isn't straightforward, though there certainly are Java idioms (getPhoneNumber(), setPhoneNumber)) that approximate it.

--Noah Mendelson on the xml-dev mailing list, Sunday, 10 Apr 2008 11:09:20

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Either because of age or recent immersion in politics, a lot of readers have asked, is it really usually this bad? Do they all get this sleazy? As sleazy as McCain?

The simple answer, I think, is, No. They don't. I don't think there's any question that McCain's is the dirtiest and most dishonest campaign, certainly in the last 35 years and possibly going much further back into the early 20th century.

You may say, wait, Willie Horton? The Swift-boat smears? What about those?

But here's the key point, one that is getting too little attention. President Bush's father didn't run the Willie Horton ad. And this President Bush, however much they may have been funded by his supporters and run with Karl Rove's tacit approval, didn't run the Swift Boat ads. These were run by independent groups. Just how 'independent' we think they really are is a decent question. But even the sleaziest campaigns usually draw the line at the kind of sleaze they are wiling to run themselves under their own name.

In this case, though, the kind of toxic sludge usually run by one-off independent groups in very limited ad buys makes up virtually all of McCain's presence on TV.

--Josh Marshall
Read the rest in Talking Points Memo | Are They All As Sleazy As McCain?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The other problem I see with Sun is they could never quite figure out what to do with Java -- and still haven't. It's as if McNealy didn't have the courage to truly open it up and build a business around it (as MySQL so successfully has, or Red Hat); at the same time, they knew they couldn't charge for it if they had any hope of it being adopted widely -- so they seemed to try a middle course that did both, but neither well. And so Java's done pretty well, but not nearly as good as it might have -- and it's helped Sun somewhat financially, but it really isn't an answer to the loss of the hardware business.

Can Sun be fixed? Perhaps. I'd like to see Java spun off into its own company, and treated like MySQL. Build the business around the language, not on it. Open it to the community fully, and rally the community on it. Hardware? They've lost a lot of momentum to Linux in the lower end of the market; probably tough to pull that back. But have strengths in the Enterprise software -- but they need to continue investing in it, and move it forward. I don't think they have as much as they can.

And this is a tough one, but I think it has to be done: instead of opening up Solaris (too little, too late), move it into an End of Life position, work to the core strengths of the company today (enterprise class hardware and enterprise software solutions) and support their existing customer base while they move their hardawre and applications to Linux. I simply don't like the financial realities of supporting two OS's here, and Sun's actually better off (I think) contributing back to Linux than trying to continue to push Solaris forward. They can turn this into a win-win. Maybe.

--Chuq von Rospach
Read the rest in Chuqui 3.0: Ongoing: Scott

Monday, November 3, 2008
Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer is no. That’s not America. Is there something wrong with a seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing he or she could be president? Yet I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion that he is a Muslim and might have an association with terrorists. This is not the way we should be doing it in America.

--Colin Powell
Read the rest in The Excrescence Of Right-Wing GOP Hate

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The liberals were right. Not the Democrats. The liberals. They were right that deregulation had gone too far. They were right when they spent the last few years offering unpopular predictions that the Housing Bubble would pop. They were right that a liquidity problem had become a solvency problem. They were right that government intervention on a massive scale was needed to stabilize the capitalist system. They were so right, in fact, that Hank Paulson and George W. Bush couldn't hold the line, and will now sign into law the most profoundly socialist measure this country has seen since the 1930s.

I make this point not to wrap myself in a warm blanket of Schadenfreude -- there's little joy in seeing your allies proven perspicacious by a catastrophe -- but because it's actually important. The liberal understanding of the economy and its problems has been, in recent months and years, superior to the conservative understanding of the country and its problems. And this has only sharpened in recent weeks, as the Republican Party has spun off into the Gamma Quadrant with laughable theories about ACORN and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977. Their argument isn't wrong in the sense that it's a serious engagement with the situation that happens to be less empirically sound than competing theories. It's just nonsense. And this isn't a time when we can afford governance powered by nonsense. We need governance by people who understood the magnitude and nature of the problem, and have some idea how to go forward fixing it.

--Ezra Klein
Read the rest in EzraKlein Archive | The American Prospect

Thursday, October 30, 2008
MySQL has kind of been moving up the food chain over the last few years. The line at which you see I need to go and use Oracle or I need to go and use Sybase for the people who still say that seems to be moving up from year to year.

--James Turner
Read the rest in Brian Aker's Vision for a Livable Design, Looking at MySQL as OSCON Approaches

Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Americans are unwilling to look at how really bad our educational system is because we've all been propagandized with the idea that we're number one. That may have been true after World War II, but not anymore. The idea that we're number one and special and better than everybody else is a very powerful factor in American life, and it prevents us from examining certain respects in which we're not number one.

--Terence McNally
Read the rest in How Anti

Monday, October 27, 2008
Those in the Java community no doubt believe that Java is too big to fail, that Sun can't abandon it because it's too important, even if it can't tangibly be tied to anything profitable. But if Sun's investors eventually dismember the company to try to extract what value is left in it, I'm not sure where Java will fit into that plan. No doubt somebody would take over at least nominal stewardship, but we all may come to be very thankful that it's been released as open source.

--Josh Fruhlinger
Read the rest in Sun melting down, and where's Java? | JavaWorld's Daily Brew

Sunday, October 26, 2008
The Bush administration, having entered office as social conservatives, leaves office as conservative socialists, proprietors of the most sudden large expansion of the state's role in the US economy since mobilisation for the second world war. Why did they decide to partially and quasi-nationalise America's banks - to invest $250bn in preferred stock plus warrants and tell the banks that it wanted them to use the capital to expand their loan base rather than contract it via deleveraging?

--Brad DeLong
Read the rest in J Bradford DeLong: Will partially nationalising US banks stave off a depression? | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Today, conservative intellectuals might want to consider writing a tome on the failure of their own beloved deity, unregulated capitalism. The fall of the financial system has been so fast and far-reaching that there's been no time to fully consider its implications for the reigning economic theology of the past 30 years. But with the most right-wing administration in modern American history scurrying to nationalize the banks, the question cannot be elided indefinitely.

What exactly do economic conservatives believe now that their god is dead? What's become of the glories of privatized Social Security? Of the merits of 401(k)s vs. defined-benefit pensions?

No wonder we've seen a disoriented John McCain wandering the moors howling about Bill Ayers. What's he supposed to do? Admit that the Reagan-Thatcher faith in unregulated capitalism, to which every GOP presidential candidate was pledging allegiance just last winter, has collapsed? The doctrine of laissez faire has been so dominant, so pervasive over the past three decades that hundreds of Democratic politicians can deliver a paean to the market at the drop of a hat, but not a single Republican pol can plausibly defend government as a check on capitalism run amok, even at the drop of thousands of points in the Dow.

--Harold Meyerson
Read the rest in Harold Meyerson - Gods That Failed

Friday, October 24, 2008

‘innovation’ is a four-letter word in the industry. It should never be used in polite company. It's become a PR thing to sell new versions with.

It was Edison who said ‘1% inspiration, 99% perspiration’. That may have been true a hundred years ago. These days it's ‘0.01% inspiration, 99.99% perspiration’, and the inspiration is the easy part. As a project manager, I have never had trouble finding people with crazy ideas. I have trouble finding people who can execute. IOW, ‘innovation" is way oversold. And it sure as hell shouldn't be applied to products like MS Word or Open Office.

So no, I don't think people need more innovation. I'd rather see more people sell their product on some plain old-fashioned ‘being good’.

--Linus Torvalds
Read the rest in Linus Torvalds, Geek of the Week

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A few thousand people put up with the NDA on the SDK, with the cost of the Standard Program, and with the lengthy and bureaucratic process it takes to access the only viable distribution channel, the iPhone App Store. Some of them spent months trying to create excellent, innovative applications for the iPhone, only to see their work rejected for no good reason other than that it competed with Apple’s own products (e.g. Podcaster) or was inconvenient for their business partner AT&T (e.g. NetShare). How shortsighted is that? It’s almost as stupid as the RIAA, which has a habit of suing its own customers.

Following the uproar of complaints about this, Apple decided that the best way to deal with developers’ malcontent was to legally bind them to shut up. So now the rejection letters many developers are receiving are covered by an NDA as well.

How low will Apple go? I understand that a few developers are making a good deal of money from some popular applications, and that the iPhone is a hot product which may change the mobile world. I can even grasp that programming in Objective-C is fun. But how many developers is Apple alienating, how many great applications will never be written because programmers object in principle to developing for Apple’s platform?

I fail to see Apple’s usual business insight and only see blind greed, the kind that acts as a highly effective cautionary tale against developing for Apple’s platforms. This all comes at a time when Google is promoting a truly open platform, Android, which poses a few challenges due to the heterogeneous nature of the devices it will be deployed on, but is equally interesting from a technical standpoint. Google even went so far as to award ten million dollars in prize money through a contest that they held, to attract new developers and applications. Android is definitely welcoming new developers and it’s doing so free from glaring restrictions and limitations.

--Antonio Canganio
Read the rest in Don’t alienate developers | Zen and the Art of Programming

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

ACORN registers lots of lower income and/or minority voters. They operate all across the country and do a lot of things beside voter registration. What's key to understand is their method. By and large they do not rely on volunteers to register voters. They hire people -- often people with low incomes or even the unemployed. This has the dual effect of not only registering people but also providing some work and income for people who are out of work. But because a lot of these people are doing it for the money, inevitably, a few of them cut corners or even cheat. So someone will end up filling out cards for nonexistent names and some of those slip through ACORN's own efforts to catch errors. (It's important to note that in many of the recent ACORN cases that have gotten the most attention it's ACORN itself that has turned the people in who did the fake registrations.) These reports start buzzing through the right-wing media every two years and every time the anecdotal reports of 'thousands' of fraudulent registrations turns out, on closer inspection, to be either totally bogus themselves or wildly exaggerated. So thousands of phony registrations ends up being, like, twelve.

I've always had questions about whether this is a good way to do voter registration. And Democratic campaigns usually keep their distance. But here's the key. This is fraud against ACORN. They end up paying people for registering more people then they actually signed up. If you register me three times to vote, the registrar will see two new registrations of an already registered person and the ones won't count. If I successfully register Mickey Mouse to vote, on election day, Mickey Mouse will still be a cartoon character who cannot go to the local voting station and vote. Logically speaking there's very little way a few phony names on the voting rolls could be used to commit actual vote fraud. And much more importantly, numerous studies and investigations have shown no evidence of anything more than a handful of isolated cases of actual instances of vote fraud.

--Josh Marshall
Read the rest in Talking Points Memo | The Gist of the ACORN Story

Tuesday, October 21, 2008
The reverse split was cosmetic, and any sophisticated investor knew exactly that. It was designed to get our share price off the agenda. Thankfully now, even though it has declined, our customers’ share prices have declined even farther. Now, it’s a balanced conversation.

--Jonathan Schwartz
Read the rest in Sun Microsystems: A Lesson in Failed Cosmetic Surgery - Bits Blog

Sunday, October 19, 2008
The key thing Apple has brought to the table is building a user experience that its customers love to use instead of one that they merely tolerate. Getting this right is way more important than the "openness" of the ecosystem. Customers and developers can put up with a closed ecosystem that limits choice as long as it improves the quality of the user experience. Where Google Android has to shine is in building a better user experience for the same price or a comparable experience at a lower price. Everything else is just noise.

--Dare Obasanjo
Read the rest in Dare Obasanjo aka Carnage4Life

Friday, October 17, 2008
The point should not be whether the Ivory-billed Woodpecker is extinct or not. The point should be that the remaining bottomland hardwood forest in the Mississippi River Alluvial Valley, and the southeast, should be managed AS IF the bird exists. If one manages the landscape for species with the largest home-ranges, then you fulfull area requirements for populations of most species that require the same habitat type.

--David M. Fox on the LABIRD-L mailing list, Sunday, Thu, 27 Mar 2008 10:32:21

Thursday, October 16, 2008

For best performance one shouldn't create more than a handful of software threads for any given hardware thread. For an XServe with 8 cores, I'd say that creating up to 16 threads is great, up to 64 threads might be fine, more than 128 threads is a defect. With thousands of threads poor performance is guaranteed. Worse, this is getting too close to exhausting kernel resource limits. As with all rules of thumb those numbers might vary a bit depending on the details of the situation, but being off by more than an order of magnitude should be cause for alarm.

Only the largest, most expensive server hardware on the market will deal well with 2500 concurrent threads (assuming 256 hardware threads available). And even then, they may cope with that load but they won't provide ideal performance.

--Eric Gouriou on the java-dev mailing list, Sunday, 10 Apr 2008 12:40:01

Tuesday, October 14, 2008
we've seen only a fraction of what the G1 can and will be able to do with the open-source Android OS. And when Google's mobile machine is finally humming at full power—with an army of coders cranking out add-ons for the Market, today's skeptics—including some of us—are going to have to eat crow. It's not about pretty icons, Apple fanboys, and its not about business use, Windows Mobile Nerds: its about giving people the true tools to build whatever they want without lame App Store limitations and OS handcuffs. It's about giving phone makers shackled to Symbian and Microsoft's phone OS the chance to build with something different and better and free.

--John Mahoney
Read the rest in Android: Why Android Will Soon Kick Ass

Friday, October 10, 2008

What struck me as I watched the convention speeches, however, is how much of the anger on the right is based not on the claim that Democrats have done bad things, but on the perception — generally based on no evidence whatsoever — that Democrats look down their noses at regular people.

Thus Mr. Giuliani asserted that Wasilla, Alaska, isn’t “flashy enough” for Mr. Obama, who never said any such thing. And Ms. Palin asserted that Democrats “look down” on small-town mayors — again, without any evidence.

What the G.O.P. is selling, in other words, is the pure politics of resentment; you’re supposed to vote Republican to stick it to an elite that thinks it’s better than you. Or to put it another way, the G.O.P. is still the party of Nixon.

--Paul Krugman
Read the rest in Op-Ed Columnist - The Resentment Strategy - Op-Ed

Thursday, October 9, 2008
The political left always aims to expand the permeation of economic life by politics. Today, the efficient means to that end is government control of capital. So, is not McCain's party now conducting the most leftist administration in American history? The New Deal never acted so precipitously on such a scale. Treasury Secretary Paulson, asked about conservative complaints that his rescue program amounts to socialism, said, essentially: This is not socialism, this is necessary. That non sequitur might be politically necessary, but remember that government control of capital is government control of capitalism. Does McCain have qualms about this, or only quarrels?

--George Will
Read the rest in George F. Will - McCain Loses His Head

Tuesday, October 7, 2008
John McCain has spent decades in Washington supporting financial institutions instead of their customers, so let's be clear: What we've seen the last few days is nothing less than the final verdict on an economic philosophy that has completely failed.

--Barack Obama
Read the rest in McCain Embraces Regulation After Many Years of Opposition

Monday, October 6, 2008
Palin is a master of the nonanswer. She can turn a 60-second response to a query about her specific solutions to healthcare challenges into a folksy story about how she's met people on the campaign trail who face healthcare challenges. All without uttering a word about her public-policy solutions to healthcare challenges.

--Andrew Halcro
Read the rest in What it's like to debate Sarah Palin

Friday, October 3, 2008
Arrogance Maxim: The ease of defeating a security device or system is proportional to how confident/arrogant the designer, manufacturer, or user is about it, and to how often they use words like “impossible” or “tamper-proof”.

--Roger G. Johnston
Read the rest in Schneier on Security: Security Maxims

Thursday, October 2, 2008

A huge speculative housing bubble has collapsed. We’re going to have a recession. Unemployment will go up. Credit is going to be tighter. The challenge is to contain the damage to a “normal” recession — and to prevent a devastating series of bank runs, a collapse of the credit markets and a full-bore depression.

Everyone seems to agree on the need for a big and comprehensive plan, and that the markets have to have some confidence that help is on the way. Funds need to be supplied, trading markets need to be stabilized, solvent institutions needs to be protected, and insolvent institutions need to be put on the path to a deliberate liquidation or reorganization.

But is the administration’s proposal the right way to do this? It would enable the Treasury, without Congressionally approved guidelines as to pricing or procedure, to purchase hundreds of billions of dollars of financial assets, and hire private firms to manage and sell them, presumably at their discretion There are no provisions for — or even promises of — disclosure, accountability or transparency. Surely Congress can at least ask some hard questions about such an open-ended commitment.

--William Kristol
Read the rest in Op-Ed Columnist - A Fine Mess - Op-Ed

Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Under the pressure of the financial crisis, one presidential candidate is behaving like a flustered rookie playing in a league too high. It is not Barack Obama.

--George Will
Read the rest in George F. Will - McCain Loses His Head

Friday, September 26, 2008

The first new Vista audio API didn't provide a way for drivers to tell applications "the buffer is nearly empty". Instead, applications had to check "Is the buffer empty now?". And because the buffer status changes as the sound is played, they had to check over and over again. "Is the buffer empty now? Is the buffer empty now? Is the buffer empty now? Is...". This is called polling, and as a general rule of thumb, polling-based systems are to be avoided. Each time the application checks the buffer, it's having to do extra work, and if the buffer still has plenty of data in it, it's pointless work. The thing is, this flaw is kind of obvious to anyone writing audio software. No-one likes polling. Other low-latency audio APIs (Steinberg's popular ASIO and Apple's Core Audio included) tell the application when the buffer needs more data.

This design issue would be obvious to anyone writing an audio application. But it apparently didn't occur to Microsoft. It didn't occur to them with DirectSound either, which has no reliable, low-latency mechanism for receiving buffer notifications either. It wasn't until Microsoft sat down with third-party audio developers quite late in Vista's development cycle that it changed the driver API to introduce a notification mechanism. With this, the hardware can actually tell the application that it needs more data. By the time the change was made, vendors had already put work into the first new Vista driver model, so they probably weren't entirely happy that Microsoft went ahead and changed it (though the audio software vendors certainly were).

Apple, on the other hand, does use its APIs. So Apple has a much better idea of what works well, and a much better idea of what the system ought to do and how it ought to work. Microsoft provides APIs to third parties and hopes that they'll be OK; Apple provides APIs to itself, and when it's certain that they work well, it lets third parties loose on them. If something's good enough for Apple, it's probably good enough for everyone else. There is some irony in this; in software development this concept of using your own software is known as "eating your own dogfood," and it's an idea that was, at one time, pushed strongly by Microsoft.

--Peter Bright
Read the rest in From Win32 to Cocoa: a Windows user's conversion to Mac OS X—Part III: Page 3

Thursday, September 25, 2008

the financial system needs more capital. And if the government is going to provide capital to financial firms, it should get what people who provide capital are entitled to — a share in ownership, so that all the gains if the rescue plan works don’t go to the people who made the mess in the first place.

That’s what happened in the savings and loan crisis: the feds took over ownership of the bad banks, not just their bad assets. It’s also what happened with Fannie and Freddie. (And by the way, that rescue has done what it was supposed to. Mortgage interest rates have come down sharply since the federal takeover.)

But Mr. Paulson insists that he wants a “clean” plan. “Clean,” in this context, means a taxpayer-financed bailout with no strings attached — no quid pro quo on the part of those being bailed out. Why is that a good thing? Add to this the fact that Mr. Paulson is also demanding dictatorial authority, plus immunity from review “by any court of law or any administrative agency,” and this adds up to an unacceptable proposal.

I’m aware that Congress is under enormous pressure to agree to the Paulson plan in the next few days, with at most a few modifications that make it slightly less bad. Basically, after having spent a year and a half telling everyone that things were under control, the Bush administration says that the sky is falling, and that to save the world we have to do exactly what it says now now now.

--Paul Krugman
Read the rest in Op-Ed Columnist - Cash for Trash - Op-Ed

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

There are currently about 3.2 billion mobile subscribers in the world, and that number is expected to grow by at least a billion in the next few years. Today, mobile phones are more prevalent than cars (about 800 million registered vehicles in the world) and credit cards (only 1.4 billion of those). While it took 100 years for landline phones to spread to more than 80% of the countries in the world, their wireless descendants did it in 16. And fewer teens are wearing watches now because they use their phones to tell time instead (somewhere Chester Gould is wondering how he got it backwards). So it's safe to say that the mobile phone may be the most prolific consumer product ever invented.

However, have you ever considered just exactly how powerful these ubiquitous devices are? The phone that you have in your pocket, pack, or handbag is probably ten times more powerful than the PC you had on your desk only 8 or 9 years ago (assuming you even had a PC; most mobile users never have). It has a range of sensors that would do a martian lander proud: a clock, power sensor (how low is that battery?), thermometer (because batteries charge poorly at low temperatures), and light meter (to determine screen backlighting) on the more basic phones; a location sensor, accelerometer (detects vector and velocity of motion), and maybe even a compass on more advanced ones. And most importantly, it is by its very nature always connected.

Project out these trends another ten years. You will be carrying with you, 24x7 (a recent study of Chinese mobile customers showed that the majority of them sleep within a meter of their phones), a very powerful, always connected, sensor-rich device. And the cool thing is, so will everyone else. So what are you going to do with it that you aren't doing now?

--Andy Rubin, Google
Read the rest in Official Google Blog: The future of mobile

Monday, September 22, 2008

A decade ago, Sen. John McCain embraced legislation to broadly deregulate the banking and insurance industries, helping to sweep aside a thicket of rules established over decades in favor of a less restricted financial marketplace that proponents said would result in greater economic growth.

Now, as the Bush administration scrambles to prevent the collapse of the American International Group (AIG), the nation's largest insurance company, and stabilize a tumultuous Wall Street, the Republican presidential nominee is scrambling to recast himself as a champion of regulation to end "reckless conduct, corruption and unbridled greed" on Wall Street.

--Michael D. Shear
Read the rest in McCain Embraces Regulation After Many Years of Opposition

Saturday, September 20, 2008

For those who still can’t grasp the concept of white privilege, or who are constantly looking for some easy-to-understand examples of it, perhaps this list will help.

White privilege is when you can get pregnant at seventeen like Bristol Palin and everyone is quick to insist that your life and that of your family is a personal matter, and that no one has a right to judge you or your parents, because "every family has challenges," even as black and Latino families with similar "challenges" are regularly typified as irresponsible, pathological and arbiters of social decay.

White privilege is when you can call yourself a "fuckin’ redneck," like Bristol Palin’s boyfriend does, and talk about how if anyone messes with you, you'll "kick their fuckin' ass," and talk about how you like to "shoot shit" for fun, and still be viewed as a responsible, all-American boy (and a great son-in-law to be) rather than a thug.

White privilege is when you can attend four different colleges in six years like Sarah Palin did (one of which you basically failed out of, then returned to after making up some coursework at a community college), and no one questions your intelligence or commitment to achievement, whereas a person of color who did this would be viewed as unfit for college, and probably someone who only got in in the first place because of affirmative action.

White privilege is when you can claim that being mayor of a town smaller than most medium-sized colleges, and then Governor of a state with about the same number of people as the lower fifth of the island of Manhattan, makes you ready to potentially be president, and people don’t all piss on themselves with laughter, while being a black U.S. Senator, two-term state Senator, and constitutional law scholar, means you’re "untested."

--Tim Wise
Read the rest in White Privilege, White Entitlement and the 2008 Election | BuzzFlash.org

Friday, September 19, 2008

John McCain wants to tax your employer-provided health care benefits. He wants to replace those benefits with an insufficient tax credit--$2500 for individuals and $5000 for families (the average cost per family for health insurance is $12000).

There is a positive, progressive tax aspect to this: wealthier people should have to pay for health insurance themselves, without tax breaks from the federal government.

But make no mistake: this plan will do little or nothing for those who do not have insurance now--unless they are young and healthy--and it may well hurt a fair number of workers, especially unionized workers, who get gold-plated benefits from their employers.

It will certainly do nothing for families with members who have pre-existing conditions or children with special needs--because it makes no provision to regulate the insurers, forcing them to cover all comers at "community" rates that don't discriminate against the people who need health insurance most.

--Joe Klein
Read the rest in McCain's Health Care Tax Increase - Swampland

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

But Bernanke and Paulson are really going all in on this, they're letting banks play with depositor money:

The Fed added that it was suspending a rule that normally prohibits deposit-taking banks from using deposits to help finance their investment banking subsidiaries to allow them to fund activities normally funded in the repo market on a temporary basis until January 30 2009.

This is a dangerous game, because instead of firewalling that money away from investment subsidiaries, it allows banks to gamble that with depositor money they may be able to turn it around. This was exactly the sort of thing that Glass-Steagall was designed to make impossible - banks to not be in the brokerage business, insurance companies not in banking, and so on. Glass-Steagall was partially repealed in 1980 (part of what made possible the Savings and Loan fiasco), further parts in 99 under Clinton, and now the Fed has violated the fundamental principle that banks shouldn't be gambling with depositor money. Because, be real clear, if you don't really know how much in the hole you are, or how much further you could get, lending money to the unit that's in the hole is gambling.

--Ian Welsh
Read the rest in Firedoglake » As the Markets Plunge, Bernanke and Paulson Gamble Depositors Money

Monday, September 15, 2008

AT&T has oversold their network. You can tell because the worst service of all is from one iPhone to the other. If the call doesn't spontaneously disconnect half the time you often still can't understand what the other person is saying. Service is somewhat better going to landlines or other mobile providers.

I'm sure AT&T will fix this eventually but I don't like being treated this way. No wonder they are so hot to keep that iPhone exclusive, since half the iPhone users I know would jump to T-Mobile if they easily could.

--Mark Stephens
Read the rest in I, Cringely . The Pulpit . What Did You Say? | PBS

Friday, September 12, 2008

Women have become so politically powerful that even the anti-feminist right wing -- the folks with a headlock on the Republican Party -- are trying to appease the gender gap with a first-ever female vice president. We owe this to women -- and to many men too -- who have picketed, gone on hunger strikes or confronted violence at the polls so women can vote. We owe it to Shirley Chisholm, who first took the "white-male-only" sign off the White House, and to Hillary Rodham Clinton, who hung in there through ridicule and misogyny to win 18 million votes.

But here is even better news: It won't work. This isn't the first time a boss has picked an unqualified woman just because she agrees with him and opposes everything most other women want and need. Feminism has never been about getting a job for one woman. It's about making life more fair for women everywhere. It's not about a piece of the existing pie; there are too many of us for that. It's about baking a new pie.

Selecting Sarah Palin, who was touted all summer by Rush Limbaugh, is no way to attract most women, including die-hard Clinton supporters. Palin shares nothing but a chromosome with Clinton. Her down-home, divisive and deceptive speech did nothing to cosmeticize a Republican convention that has more than twice as many male delegates as female, a presidential candidate who is owned and operated by the right wing and a platform that opposes pretty much everything Clinton's candidacy stood for -- and that Barack Obama's still does. To vote in protest for McCain/Palin would be like saying, "Somebody stole my shoes, so I'll amputate my legs."

--Gloria Steinem
Read the rest in Palin: wrong woman, wrong message

Friday, September 12, 2008
I was fired because of, primarily the reason of her former brother-in-law. I think that my unwillingness to take special action against her former brother-in-law was not well received. I think there are some questions now that, coming to light about how transparent and how honest she wants to be.

--Walt Monegan, former Alaskan Public Safety Commissioner
Read the rest in ABC News: Fired Alaskan Official Says Palin Hasn't Been Truthful

Thursday, September 11, 2008

One key way of coming up with solutions is to ask the question "why".

Write down what you think the problem is, and then ask WHY is that a problem? WHY do we need a "machine-readable and standardized way to apply semantic properties (metadata) to DOM elements"? Then, replace the problem with the answer to the question "why", and then try again. Do this until the answer is "I don't know why, people just want to do this" or "because it makes people happier", and then include the last few iterations as the problem statement.

--Ian Hickson on the whatwg mailing list, Tuesday, 9 Sep 2008 20:42:47 +0000

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

On behalf of the media, I would like to say we are sorry.

On behalf of the elite media, I would like to say we are very sorry.

We have asked questions this week that we should never have asked.

We have asked pathetic questions like: Who is Sarah Palin? What is her record? Where does she stand on the issues? And is she is qualified to be a heartbeat away from the presidency?

We have asked mean questions like: How well did John McCain know her before he selected her? How well did his campaign vet her? And was she his first choice?

Bad questions. Bad media. Bad.

--Roger Simon
Read the rest in Why the media should apologize - Roger Simon

Monday, September 8, 2008

there’s this terrible glaring conflict between what sensible managers want and what sensible programmers know. Managers, good managers, want a plan; they want to lock in design constraints so that work can be dealt out and progress tracked and promises kept. Programmers, good programmers, know that they’re not smart enough to get the core design choices right until they’ve built something that works.

The various techniques and disciplines gathered around the banner of “agile” are on balance more honest at facing up to this unavoidable tension. But there’s still lots more work to be done.

And the most important thing is, we all have to remind ourselves, all the time, that we’re not smart enough to get anything important right the first time.

--Tim Bray
Read the rest in ongoing · Build One to Throw Away

Thursday, September 4, 2008

I believe that when we Americans look deep into ourselves and ask us what we want our government--because it is our government: it is our agent to do what we want with our money just as the guy in Florida we hire to keep grandma's one bedroom condo in repair is our agent--to do, we conclude the following:

  1. We want to let the Bush tax cuts expire.
  2. We want to close the 75-year Social Security gap, half by raising the limit on earnings taxed by Social Security so that the upper middle class and the rich pay more for Social Security and half by reducing the rate of growth of benefits at retirement.
  3. We want to stop sending our soldiers--the best-trained and best-equipped high tech armed forces in the world--abroad to be military police in countries riven by sectarian conflict where they do not speak the language--and so return defense spending to its late-1990s share of GDP.
  4. We want to reduce but not eliminate the "excess" cost growth in Medicare and Medicaid: we believe our doctors, nurses, and druggists will learn how to do wonderful things over the next two generations, and we do not want those wonderful things in the way of medicine applied only to the rich but to the poor and old as well.
  5. Whether or not we decide to do (1) through (4) above, we want to raise taxes to cover whatever of the long-run fiscal gap remains, and so bring the federal budget back into balance over the long run.

Note that (5) is not optional. As the late Milton Friedman liked to put it: to spend is to tax. If the government buys things, it must get the money to buy them from somewhere. It can get the money from three places. It can tax. It can borrow--but then the borrowing has to be repaid with interest, and the more is borrowed the higher the interest and the worse the value the taxpayers ultimately get for their money when they are taxed to repay the borrowing. Or it can print the money and so inflate the currency--but that too is a tax, and an especially unfair, painful, and destructive one, as lots and lots of people victimized by inflation find their wealth doesn't buy what it used to and what they expected.

We can argue over whether (1) through (4) is what we want to do--that is what politics is about. But whatever we decide to do with (1) through (4), (5) is not optional--not, that is, if we want to continue to have a rich country in the long run. And the politicians who have told you that (5) is optional from Ronald Reagan to George H.W. Bush to Robert Dole to George W. Bush and now John McCain are not your friends, or America's friends.

--Brad Delong
Read the rest in Grasping Reality with Both Hands: The Semi

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

It's regularly pointed out that young adults can volunteer to serve in Iraq but are prohibited from buying a beer. But young adults are also free to produce children (many children). A young adult can plan the entire course of his or her life by the age of 21. A young adult can serve on a jury and determine the fate a fellow citizen. If a young adult chooses, he or she can act in pornographic films, gamble nightly, smoke several packs of cigarettes or, in some places, even engage in the truly depraved act of becoming a politician.

Yet this same young adult is breaking the law when ordering an appletini?

It makes little sense. And when a large number of college presidents ask, "How many times must we re-learn the lessons of Prohibition?" the answer is: We never learned the lesson the first time.

--David Harsanyi
Read the rest in Let's chuck the drinking age

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

JavaScript is built on some very good ideas and a few very bad ones.

The very good ideas include functions, loose typing, dynamic objects, and an expressive object literal notation. The bad ideas include a programming model based on global variables.

--Douglas Crockford
Read the rest in JavaScript: The Good Parts

Monday, September 1, 2008
A comment "Do not touch --- generated code" means to me the formal language used is at fault and that I should rather find another language to use.

--Kristof_Zelechovski on the whatwg mailing list, Friday, 29 Aug 2008 00:12:15

Sunday, August 31, 2008
A&T's Consumer Services Agreement is substantively unconscionable and therefore unenforceable to the extent that it purports to waive the right to class actions, require confidentiality, shorten the Washington Consumer Protection Act statute of limitations, and limit availability of attorney fees. We emphasize that these provisions have nothing to do with arbitration. Arbitrators supervise class actions, conduct open hearings, apply appropriate statutes of limitations, and award compensatory and punitive damages, as well as attorney fees, where appropriate. Courts will not be easily deceived by attempts to unilaterally strip away consumer protections and remedies by efforts to cloak the waiver of important rights under an arbitration clause.

--Washington Supreme Court Justice Tom Chambers
Read the rest in Court says AT&T can't force arbitration

Friday, August 29, 2008
What an embarrassment that the IOC president Jacques Rogge bashed Jamaican superstar sprinter Usain Bolt for over-celebrating. Bolt has been one of the most appealing and engaging athletes of the Games and nobody I talked to thought his style reflected any disrespect for his rivals. Why doesn’t the IOC pick on somebody its own size? Like China maybe. It couldn’t work up the same righteous indignation when the Chinese reneged on key agreements like dispersal of information. And now they have reluctantly taken up the matter of China’s transparently underage gymnasts, flagrant cheating that is the moral and practical equivalent of doping.

--Mark Starr
Read the rest in Beijing Beat: A Blog of the 2008 Olympic Games : IOC Should Butt Out on Bolt and Other Olympic Thoughts

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The idea that the U.S. can, should and must be, more or less, in a state of permanent war, and can start wars in a whole host of circumstances having nothing to do with defending the country from an attack or imminent attack, is as close to an unchallengeable, bipartisan article of faith as it gets. We're a country that fights wars and uses military force in far more places and for far broader reasons than any other country in the world, by far. Again, regardless of one's views about whether our wars are really Good and Just -- even if one believes that what we drop on other countries are Good and Loving Freedom Bombs -- it's still just a fact that no country views military action as a more appropriate response in more situations than the U.S. does.

That's why it's so amazing to watch Condoleezza Rice, more or less without contradiction, say things like this:

Russia is a state that is unfortunately using the one tool that it has always used whenever it wishes to deliver a message and that's its military power. That's not the way to deal in the 21st century.

Other than our media elite, is there anyone who doesn't recognize how absurd it is for Rice to be issuing a sermon like that? Who is the target audience for that? And what does it say about our political discourse that Rice knows she can say things like that with a straight face -- and, before her, that John McCain can do much the same -- without its being pointed out how darkly laughable it is?

--Glenn Greenwald
Read the rest in Rice: Military power is "not the way to deal in the 21st century" - Glenn Greenwald

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

McCain’s approach and tone on foreign policy has always been more emblematic of a tv pundit rather than a sober president. While McCain has attacked Obama as the "celebrity" candidate, the fact is that a bad place to be over the last 25 years has been between John McCain and a TV camera. The New York Times on Sunday noted that one of the first things McCain did after 9-11 was go on just about every TV program - where he incidentally called for attacking about four countries. In its biographical series profiling the candidates the Times also noted that McCain was attracted to the celebrity of the Senate with one close associate noting that McCain “saw the glamour of it. I think he really got smitten with the celebrity of power.” McCain clearly enjoys being on television and he has been a constant commentator on the Sunday news shows and the evening talk news programs.

But TV appearances encourage sound bites, over-the-top rhetoric, and good one-liners, not reasoned and nuanced diplomatic language. This is especially true from guests who are not in the current administration, since you are less likely to get invited back on Face the Nation if you down play a crisis or take a boring nuanced position. Thus on almost every crisis or incident over the last decade, McCain has sounded the alarm, ratcheted up the rhetoric and often called for military action - with almost no regards to the practical implications of such an approach.

The big concern with a McCain presidency – a concern which I am surprised has not been vocalized more fully – is that the U.S. will lurch from crisis to crisis, confrontation to confrontation, whether it be with Iran, North Korea, Russia, Syria, Saudi Arabia, etc. The danger is that McCain’s pundit-like rhetoric will entrap the U.S. in descending spiral of foreign policy brinksmanship. Just think about the very likely scenario of McCain giving Iran/Russia a rhetorical ultimatum and Iran/Russia ignoring it. Now we are stuck - either we lose face by not following through on our threats or we follow through and go to war. We can’t afford such a reckless approach after the last eight years. For the next eight we need a president not a pundit.

--Max Bergmann
Read the rest in democracyarsenal.org: A Pundit Not a President

Tuesday, August 26, 2008
This is yet another embarrassment to the once-grand tradition of American aviation. United has become a pathetic, washed-up mess of an airline. Patriotism be damned, I’m a consumer: If United is the primary carrier on an international route I need to fly, I would bend over backwards to fly another airline, preferably a carrier without an American flag on the tail.

--Mark Ashley
Read the rest in Downgrade made official: United eliminates free meals on most transatlantic flights » Upgrade: Travel Better

Monday, August 25, 2008

In this case, it was a two-word question: “Define rich.” Obama answered it. McCain rambled a bit about richness in our lives, which transitioned to misleading rhetoric about small businesses, which transitioned to bizarre complaints about a government take-over of the healthcare system. Before long, we were into bear DNA, congressional recesses, and energy prices. McCain didn’t really like Warren’s question, so he told us all about the various other issues on his mind. The audience didn’t seem to mind.

But somewhere along the line, we got to the answer: $5 million. As far as McCain is concerned, if you make $4.9 million a year, more than 99.9% of the population, you’re not quite rich.

Just how out of touch is John McCain? On the one hand, he’s running ads talking about how “tough” times are “for the rest of us,” but on the other, McCain, one of Congress’ wealthiest members, thinks people who make millions of dollars a year aren’t quite rich, and he doesn’t want to bother them with taxes anyway.

--Steve Benen
Read the rest in The candidates define ‘rich’

Sunday, August 24, 2008
A fundamentalist is one who believes in a literal interpretation of sacred books, and a third of Americans believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible. That's about 10 times more than any other developed country in the world. It's entirely possible to be a religious believer and to accept science, but not if you're a literal religious believer. You can't believe that the world was literally created in six days, and be open to modern knowledge.

--Terence Mcnally
Read the rest in How Anti

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Long story short, the Protocol Buffer approach looks like a good one, but let's not let the details get lost in the shouting: Protocol Buffers, as with any binary protocol format and/or RPC mechanism (and I'm not going to go there; the weaknesses of RPC are another debate for another day), are great for those situations where performance is critical and both ends of the system are well-known and controlled. If Google wants to open up their services such that third-parties can call into those systems using the Protocol Buffers approach, then more power to them... but let's not lose sight of the fact that it's yet another proprietary API, and that if Microsoft were to do this, the world would be screaming about "vendor lock-in" and "lack of standards compliance". (In fact, I heard exactly these complaints from Java developers during WCF Q&A when they were told that WCF-to-WCF endpoints could "negotiate up" to a faster, binary, protocol between them.)

In the end, if you want an endpoint that is loosely coupled and offers the maximum flexibility, stick with XML, either wrapped in a SOAP envelope or in a RESTful envelope as dictated by the underlying transport (which means HTTP, since REST over anything else has never really been defined clearly by the Restafarians).

--Ted Neward
Read the rest in Interoperability Happens

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Michelle Obama has been one of the most refreshing things about this election year. But within weeks of the end of the primary season, the handlers stepped in to deal with the "Michelle problem."

What problem? She speaks her mind? She wears what she wants? Her biggest sin, according to the punditocracy, was to say that, as a black woman, this may be the first time in her adult life she's been really proud of her country. Shock! Surprise! Outrage! But not from any of the black women I know.

You have to be white and stupid to not know what she was really saying. If you don't understand, let me ask you this: Have you been proud of what this country has been doing in the past few years? Are you proud your neighbors had their house taken from them? Are you proud to be sending a good chunk of your paycheck to the oil companies so they can post record profits? Are you proud to know your vice president outed one of our spies and put her life and the lives of others at risk?

That's all she was saying — what we are all feeling.

--Michael Moore
Read the rest in How The Democrats Can Blow It ...In Six Easy Steps : Rolling Stone

Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Making simplistic categorizations accomplishes nothing except to stick an image into people's heads and in all likelihood sell some kind of a product to them. There are no black and white issues here except to those who have no interest in learning more than what they already know. We need to dig deeper and understand what goes on in the mind of a hacker and how we can learn from that, rather than simply condemning him, whether by laws or by words, as a criminal. And of course giving a free pass to all of the corporate giants is another mistake. A lot of what goes on "legally" is quite simply wrong and needs to be challenged. The way our personal data is left unguarded is about as criminal as you can get. And the whole hacker/cracker thing is really silly. There are some people who believe they're "good" hackers so they decided to make a new word to categorize all of the "bad" hackers. So some hackers began calling other people crackers, thinking that would solve the problem. It didn't. All it did was make every non-hacker confused. And by attaching this negative connotation to something mysterious, they were basically doing the same thing the mass media had already done to the word "hacker." And you could prove this quite easily. Some of these people didn't believe Kevin Mitnick was a true hacker and so they labeled him a cracker. And the response of those who subscribed to these definitions was predictable. As soon as they heard someone was a cracker, they lost all sympathy in them. Except there was one thing left out. They never found out WHY they were labeled in this way. If you call somebody a criminal, people will ask what he did. But calling someone a cracker, you just make assumptions as to what he did and never actually ask the question. There are already plenty of words to define criminals and they're all fairly descriptive: thief, fraud artist, etc. Cracker brings the condemnation but not the description which is why it's a bad thing.

--Emmanuel Goldstein
Read the rest in GeekDad Interview: Emmanuel Goldstein | Geekdad from Wired.com

Monday, August 18, 2008

I was initially very excited about Scala until I realized that two features were close to being deal breakers for me: implicits and pattern matching.

Have you taken a look at implicits? Seriously? Just when I thought we were not just done realizing that global variables are bad, but we have actually come up with better ways to leverage the concept with DI frameworks such as Guice, Scala knocks the wind out of us with implicits and all our hardly earned knowledge about side effects is going down the drain again.

As for pattern matching, it makes me feel as if all the careful data abstraction that I have built inside my objects in order to isolate them from the unforgiving world are, again, thrown out of the window because I am now forced to write deconstructors to expose all this state just so my classes can be put in a statement that doesn't even have the courtesy to dress up as something that doesn't smell like a switch/case...

--Cedric Beust
Read the rest in Otaku, Cedric's weblog: Return of the Statically Typed Languages

Friday, August 15, 2008
In the 21st century, nations don’t invade other nations.

--Iraq War Supporter John McCain
Read the rest in Think Progress » McCain: ‘In the 21st century, nations don’t invade other nations.’

Thursday, August 14, 2008
The great thing about software is how you can literally take nothing (i.e. a blank computer screen) and build something that changes the world. Bill and Paul did it with Microsoft. Larry and Sergey have done it with Google. Jerry and David did it with Yahoo!, and some might say Mark Zuckerberg is doing it with Facebook. Are any of those companies YCombinator-style, built-to-flip companies? Nope.

--Dare Obasanjo
Read the rest in Dare Obasanjo aka Carnage4Life

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Software tends to be much more usable if it is, at least roughly, designed before the code is written. The desired human interface for a program or feature may affect the data model, the choice of algorithms, the order in which operations are performed, the need for threading, the format for storing data on disk, and even the feature set of the program as a whole. But doing all that wireframing and prototyping seems boring, so a programmer often just starts coding — they’ll worry about the interface later.

But the more code has been written, the harder it is to fix a design problem — so programmers are more likely not to bother, or to convince themselves it isn’t really a problem. And if they finally fix the interface after version 1.0, existing users will have to relearn it, frustrating them and encouraging them to consider competing programs.

--Matthew Paul Thomas
Read the rest in Matthew Paul Thomas » Blog Archive » Why Free Software has poor usability, and how to improve it

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

It's probably too much to ask politicians to reflect a little before they lunge for a political hot-button issue. But any conservatives so inclined should think about what they're defending. What's so conservative about the Pledge?

Very little, as it turns out. From its inception, in 1892, the Pledge has been a slavish ritual of devotion to the state, wholly inappropriate for a free people. It was written by Francis Bellamy, a Christian Socialist pushed out of his post as a Baptist minister for delivering pulpit-pounding sermons on such topics as "Jesus the Socialist." Bellamy was devoted to the ideas of his more-famous cousin Edward Bellamy, author of the 1888 utopian novel Looking Backward. Looking Backward describes the future United States as a regimented worker's paradise where everyone has equal incomes, and men are drafted into the country's "industrial army" at the age of 21, serving in the jobs assigned them by the state.

--Gene Healy, Cato Institute
Read the rest in What's Conservative about the Pledge of Allegiance?

Monday, August 11, 2008

More generally, the notion that secrecy supports security is inherently flawed. Whenever you see an organization claiming that design secrecy is necessary for security — in ID cards, in voting machines, in airport security — it invariably means that its security is lousy and it has no choice but to hide it. Any competent cryptographer would have designed Mifare's security with an open and public design.

Secrecy is fragile. Mifare's security was based on the belief that no one would discover how it worked; that's why NXP had to muzzle the Dutch researchers. But that's just wrong. Reverse-engineering isn't hard. Other researchers had already exposed Mifare's lousy security. A Chinese company even sells a compatible chip. Is there any doubt that the bad guys already know about this, or will soon enough?

Publication of this attack might be expensive for NXP and its customers, but it's good for security overall. Companies will only design security as good as their customers know to ask for. NXP's security was so bad because customers didn't know how to evaluate security: either they don't know what questions to ask, or didn't know enough to distrust the marketing answers they were given. This court ruling encourages companies to build security properly rather than relying on shoddy design and secrecy, and discourages them from promising security based on their ability to threaten researchers.

--Bruce Schneier
Read the rest in Schneier on Security: Hacking Mifare Transport Cards

Saturday, August 9, 2008
The genius of this is that it's completely reusable.They have attacks that let them load chosen content to a chosen location with chosen permissions. That's completely game over. What this means is that almost any vulnerability in the browser is trivially exploitable. A lot of exploit defenses are rendered useless by browsers. ASLR and hardware DEP are completely useless against these attacks.

--Dino Dai Zovi
Read the rest in Windows Vista security 'rendered useless' by researchers

Thursday, August 7, 2008
as far as database query is concerned, ad-hoc end users do not write code: they use simple form-filling interfaces, notably the single-search-term Google query. The characteristics of such interfaces are (a) there's no such thing as a syntax error, and (b) you don't need to know the schema.

--Michael Kay on the xml-dev mailing list, Monday, 11 Feb 2008 09:26:38

Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Funny how people won't pay if you just give them your products for free. Their problem is in being a hardware company with hardware that there's little point in buying - you can find cheaper stuff elsewhere, and then run Sun's software on it without having to pay for it. You can say a lot of things about that, but "viable business model" isn't one of them.

--James Robertson
Read the rest in They'll Make it up in Volume

Tuesday, August 5, 2008
For many of the journalists who regard John McCain as an unusually honorable politician, listening to his increasingly dishonorable campaign rhetoric is a painful and puzzling experience. They are openly wondering what has driven him to denigrate and even smear Barack Obama in a style more reminiscent of McCain's old enemies in his own party than the straight-talking maverick. They want to believe that he has not really changed, and that somehow these lapses can be blamed on someone else. Like a spouse in a bad marriage, they have yet to face up to the fact that he actually changed years ago -- or to ask if he was ever the man they once thought he was.

--Joe Conason
Read the rest in Salon.com | Wanting the White House in the worst way

Monday, August 4, 2008
If modality is the number one enemy of usability, then pop up dialogs must be enemy number two. How many times have you filled in a dialog, and clicked 'OK', only to be informed you entered invalid data and must try again? If you're like me, hundreds of times. Most applications punish users for entering data that they allow the users to enter. They bash users over the head, effectively telling them, 'You stupid user, why did you enter such stupid information? Go try again!' In our view, it's not the user who is stupid, it's the application: applications should never punish users for entering data they allowed the users to enter.

--John De Goes
Read the rest in Interview: John De Goes Introduces a Newly Free Source Code Editor | Javalobby

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Here’s how you update a file containing valuable data safely: ¶

  1. First, you write out the new version without touching the old version, and carefully check that it worked.

  2. Then, you move the old version aside, giving it name like Tim.ics.backup, and carefully check that the move worked.

  3. Then, you move the new version in to the location of the old version and carefully check that this worked.

  4. Then, you delete the backup. Even better, don’t; keep a few generations around.

I don’t want to be rude. But a personal-productivity application that updates crucial high-value information files in place is Broken As Designed, and evidence of an extreme lack of professionalism.

--Tim Bray
Read the rest in ongoing · iCal Sucks Hugely

Thursday, July 31, 2008
The vast amount of human activity ought to be none of the government's business. I don't think it is the government's business to tell you how to spend your leisure time.

--Barney Frank, Democrat-Massachusetts
Read the rest in Legislators aim to snuff out penalties for pot use

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

It's no exaggeration to say that Ed was one of the preeminent consumer rights activists of the digital age. During his more than 20 years as a "reader advocate" at InfoWorld, he was far ahead of his time, recognizing that in a world increasingly dominated by software and online services, the digital consumer needed a champion when squaring off against the likes of Microsoft, Adobe or AutoDesk. Following in the traditions of the best consumer reporters before him, Ed exposed software vendors and online service providers that treated their customers shabbily.

But it was in his tireless work against "sneakwraps" -- those "end user license agreements" (EULAs) and "terms of service" (TOS) that require our "agreement" -- that Ed was without peer. You may not be reading all those "agreements" before you click thru, but Ed was. He recognized earlier than most that sneakwraps were going to be the digital consumer's worst nemesis, the mechanism that stripped consumers of the legal protections they enjoy when buying a book, a chair, or an automobile. Long before most consumer groups were thinking about sneakwraps, Ed was covering and participating in efforts to block UCITA, a package of state laws pushed by large software vendors that would have stripped consumers of valuable protections under contract law (UCITA was ultimately adopted by only two states, VA and MD, and has since been abandoned). Ed also contributed his insights on DRM, product activation, and reverse engineering to groups like AFFECT (Americans For Fair Electronic Tranactions) and EFF, making sure we knew what consumers were dealing with in the trenches.

Ed will be sorely missed, both professionally and personally, by all who benefited from his wisdom.

--Fred von Lohmann
Read the rest in In Memoriam: Ed Foster, 1949

Monday, July 28, 2008
Flash is taking over web video with H.263 knock-offs… and JMF offered all-Java H.263 playback in 1999! So, dot-com crash notwithstanding, why wasn’t YouTube delivered as an applet seven years ago?! I’d submit to you that, once again, distribution problems are the deal-killer for client-side Java.

--Chris Adamson
Read the rest in Rebooting Java Media, Act II: Development

Friday, July 25, 2008
I have avoided commenting on the EU's proposed 45 year extension for sound recordings because the effort is so clearly wrong, so clearly another example of politicians ignoring the public interest in favor of hobnobbing with (in this case aged) stars that there is nothing constructive to say. Term extension will benefit a very few a great deal, and most not at all. The public will suffer as it always has done, but because the suffering is suffered in small amounts and diffusely, politicians are spared confronting directly the ugly consequences of their failure to act in the public interest.

--William Patry
Read the rest in The Patry Copyright Blog: The EU Railroads Term Extension

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

What happens at the end of the day, all those votes are thrown into a magic box with one troll inside, the troll jumps out and says "Here are your results! Ta-Da!!'" That's it. There's no validation of the code, there's no authentication.

With the Connelly Anomaly, if that was in a banking environment, instantaneously --- instantaneously! --- the entire system inside that box would be frozen. Any programmer who reviewed any of that code would be alerted, all the executives assisting in that process would be alerted, the hard drives would be frozen in place, extracted and immediately placed in forensic analysis. 'Cause somebody did something major.

--Stephen Spoonamore
Read the rest in The BRAD BLOG : Ohio Attorney Files to Lift Stay on '04 Election Case, Cites Allegations, Evidence of Massive Fraud by a Number of GOP Operatives

Thursday, July 17, 2008
the two-part Prentice plan is rapidly coming together - a Canadian DMCA could be introduced next week, while by the end of the year Canada may have agreed to an international treaty that mandates new levels of surveillance for ISPs and border guards. The effect of these reforms will dramatically reshape Canadian law with Prentice and Prime Minister Stephen Harper rolling out the red carpet for President George Bush's demands and leaving Canadians wondering how their consumer, property, and privacy rights suddenly disappeared.

--Michael Geist
Read the rest in Michael Geist

Friday, July 11, 2008
As a developer, the best code is code you don't have to write; anything you don't have to write, you don't have to debug and you don't have to maintain. If the framework can do something for me, then it means that I don't have to do it myself, and that's what frameworks are for.

--Peter Bright
Read the rest in From Win32 to Cocoa: a Windows user's conversion to Mac OS X—Part III: Page 2

Thursday, July 10, 2008
We need a new federal law that says class action lawyers have to be compensated in the same manner as their clients. Give those hard working guys and gals some $30-off coupons, please!

--Chris Walters
Read the rest in Stein Mart: Stein Mart Settles Personal Data Breach By Offering... Coupons

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

designed by geeks, for geeks. That's why Linux, Apache, Perl, and many similar products have been so successful — at least as long as the audience remains a group of technology-obsessed users. Of course, these same products don't stand a chance of growing their user base to include ordinary humans.

--Jakob Nielsen
Read the rest in Bridging the Designer

Monday, July 7, 2008

Every quest had to be available to every character, no matter what they said or what race/class combo they were. That meant no 'nasty' dialogue options could actually turn the NPC against the player unless the quest was already done. No class quests were allowed outside of Tortage. No race-based quests were allowed at all.

I hated that.

I think it was a wasted opportunity on an incredible scale to make the game like that. So many reviews and previews alike were heavy on how great the conversation/quest system was for an MMO. I think there was a real chance to do something great, rather than take the first steps towards something great. Don't get me wrong, I'm pleased as punch with what I did and what the quest design team got into the game, but while seeing all the great reviews, I always think 'Yeah... but we could've done so much more.'

--Aaron Dembski-Bowden, Age of Conan Senior Dialog Writer
Read the rest in Exclusive interview with AoC Senior Dialog Writer Aaron Dembski-Bowden

Friday, July 4, 2008
The fashion in most programming languages today demands strong typing. The theory is that strong typing allows a compiler to detect a large class of errors at compile time. The sooner we can detect and repair errors, the less they cost us. JavaScript is a loosely typed language, so JavaScript compilers are unable to detect type errors. This can be alarming to people who are coming to JavaScript from strongly typed languages. But it turns out that strong typing does not eliminate the need for careful testing. And I have found in my work that the sorts of errors that strong type checking finds are not the errors I worry about. On the other hand, I find loose typing to be liberating. I don't need to form complex class hierarchies. And I never have to cast or wrestle with the type system to get the behavior that I want.

--Douglas Crockford
Read the rest in JavaScript: The Good Parts

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The natural resources that the strongmen and civil warriors sell off are made into products sold in America. The money we spend on these products goes back to pay for their Kalashnikovs, helicopter gunships, and fleets of private jets. Paul Collier estimates that 290 million of the world’s “bottom billion” people are caught in what he calls “the resource trap.” Millions of these poor people must watch helplessly as their countries’ resources are sent overseas while our money flows in to the men with guns.

This is literally theft. The authoritarians and insurgents have no right to sell these countries’ resources. As the ancient Roman legal maxim says, Nemo dat quod non habet: no one can give what they do not have. The authoritarians and insurgents do not own these countries’ resources. The natural resources of a country belong, after all, to its people.

--Leif Wenar Read the rest in Cato Unbound » Blog Archive » We All Own Stolen Goods — and How Defending Property Rights Can Help the World’s Most Oppressed People

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Now if you fancy MMOs as playgrounds where half the fun is to freely gank people and find new ways to exploit the game, Age of Conan is perfect for that - in its short lifespan there has already been duping exploits, powerleveling loopholes and PvP exploits, and I'm sure there are plenty more for the evil gamers to find. For us less evil gamers, if you decided to jump in, you need inhuman amounts of patience and hope to go with the game box, as what you are getting is effectively a half-finished beta with a subscription fee. There is some potential for sure, but based on historical evidence with Anarchy Online, personally I'm not holding my breath. Simple bugs and missing things will most likely get fixed as the time goes by, but there are several flaws that run so deep that they are almost impossible to correct at this point.

The impressive sales figures of Age of Conan demonstrate the massive demand for a new top tier MMO. Current ones just can't push out new content rapidly enough to keep the players happy, so there is room for new contenders. It's a shame that those players who took the early positive comments based on early parts of the game will most likely end up disappointed - and Funcom will see the greatest monthly percentage drop in MMO subscriber numbers since... well, the launch of Anarchy Online, most likely.

--Jarno Kokko
Read the rest in YouGamers - Reviews

Monday, June 30, 2008

In our us-versus-them culture, every political campaign is a battle to define who exactly the "us" and "them" are. Republicans typically say it is natives versus immigrants, Christians versus non-Christians and heartland folks versus Hollywood elites. At their most effective, Democrats parry by defining the "us" as the majority of working people, and the "them" as the tiny group of plutocrats who control the country.

In recent years, Democrats have stopped making this case for fear of offending their big donors. But this is exactly the argument they must make if they hope to defeat John McCain.

--David Sirota
Read the rest in Countering race with class

Saturday, June 28, 2008
On top of that I've had no luck getting a real review copy. Many months after Java One when they said they'd get me a copy right away, they gave me a license that would timeout. Yes, I could afford to buy it, and I do buy products when it makes sense. But I'm sorry, there's a line; I'm not going to invest a lot of effort into something that, if I like it I would end up promoting, just to have the license timeout.

--Bruce Eckel
Read the rest in On the Thought: NetBeans 4.0 & IDEs

Friday, June 27, 2008
For 60 years, Americans have pushed steadily into the suburbs, transforming the landscape and (until recently) leaving cities behind. But today the pendulum is swinging back toward urban living, and there are many reasons to believe this swing will continue. As it does, many low-density suburbs and McMansion subdivisions, including some that are lovely and affluent today, may become what inner cities became in the 1960s and ’70s—slums characterized by poverty, crime, and decay.

--Christopher B. Leinberger
Read the rest in The Next Slum?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

So after more than an hour of craziness and making my programs list garbage and being scared and seeing that Microsoft.com is a terrible website I haven't run Moviemaker and I haven't got the plus package.

The lack of attention to usability represented by these experiences blows my mind. I thought we had reached a low with Windows Network places or the messages I get when I try to use 802.11. (don't you just love that root certificate message?)

--Bill Gates
Read the rest in Full text: An epic Bill Gates e-mail

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Mr. Obama may be on slippery ground because of his previous commitment to stick with the public system. But given that his campaign essentially embodies the ideals of reform — to a degree no one seriously thought possible just a few years ago — it’s going to be difficult for the McCain campaign or the chorus of scolds to generate much traction on the issue. After all, Mr. Obama’s all but certain financial advantage in the campaign will be derived from donors of modest means — not wealthy vested interests.

Ever since Watergate, the ideal of campaign finance reform has been to replace a system fueled by special interests and big money with either full public financing or a system of civic-minded small donors. The former is abhorred by much of the public while the latter looks remarkably like barackobama.com. In effect, the Obama campaign has come closer to achieving the ideals of campaign finance reform than 30-plus years of regulation. To condemn the campaign’s departure from the system is to elevate rules over the principle that gave birth to the rules in the first place.

--Francis Wilkinson
Read the rest in Bring It On - Campaign Stops - 2008 Elections - Opinion

Friday, June 20, 2008

So all the Attorney General has to do is recite those magic words -- the President requested this eavesdropping and did it in order to save us from the Terrorists -- and the minute he utters those words, the courts are required to dismiss the lawsuits against the telecoms, no matter how illegal their behavior was.

That's the "compromise" Steny Hoyer negotiated and which he is now -- according to very credible reports -- pressuring every member of the Democratic caucus to support. It's full-scale, unconditional amnesty with no inquiry into whether anyone broke the law. In the U.S. now, thanks to the Democratic Congress, we'll have a new law based on the premise that the President has the power to order private actors to break the law, and when he issues such an order, the private actors will be protected from liability of any kind on the ground that the Leader told them to do it -- the very theory that the Nuremberg Trial rejected.

--Glenn Greenwald
Read the rest in George Bush's latest powers, courtesy of the Democratic Congress - Glenn Greenwald

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

In the standard Ruby deployment, using the standard core XML processing library, there is no way to write out XML. It is impossible because of bugs in the library.

The worst part?

THAT STUPID BUG IN THEIR CORE LIBRARY WOULD HAVE BEEN FIXED WITH STATIC TYPING. Even more if you have a type system which can check nulls for you. Null pointers/”nil when you didn’t expect it!” errors are totally solvable problems. The fact that our industry hasn’t moved past this painful left-over from C is driving me crazy. The next person who tries to tell me that dynamic typing is the best thing since sliced bread is going to get an earful. It is a flat-out wrong position, and I’m done hearing otherwise from anyone.

--Robert Fischer
Read the rest in Enfranchised Mind » My Frustrations with REXML: Ruby’s Standard Library for Reading/Writing XML; or, Ruby’s Problem Is Its Type System, and Don’t Try to Tell Me Otherwise

Monday, June 16, 2008

I think there's two things right now that are pushing the changes; they're really pushing the database world. The first thing that's going to push the basic old OLCP transactional database world, which you're right--that world really hasn't change in some time now--is really a change in the number of cores and the move to solid state disks because a lot of the code that has been written today or a lot of the concept around database is the idea that you don't have access to enough memory. Your disk is slow, can't do random reads very well, and you maybe have one, maybe eight processors but you think about yourself like-- you look at some of the upper end hardware and the mini-core stuff, like some of what Sun has got to a lesser degree Intel has got and you're almost looking at kind of an array of processing that you're doing; you've got access to so many processors. And well the whole story of trying to optimize for getting away with --trying to optimize around the problem of Random IO being expensive well that's not that big of a deal when you actually have solid state disks. So that's one whole area I think that will not actually push but it will cause a rethinking in what we call--what we think of today as the standard Jim Gray relational database design.

On the second side of this which may actually be more exciting is the issue of--instead of the structured data world of the relational database but the semi--the semi-structured world. You look at what is being done today with CouchDB, you look at Amazon ScaleDB, to a lesser extent but to a similar extent you--not ScaleDB, SimpleDB--to a lesser extent or a similar extent Tokyo Cabinet, those databases are really kind of fascinating because those databases are redefining really how we access data and how we are going to be searching and using data. So there's a whole world out there that's just starting to open up in that direction.

--Brian Aker, MySQL
Read the rest in Brian Aker's Vision for a Livable Design, Looking at MySQL as OSCON Approaches

Sunday, June 15, 2008

MMO gamers are a strange bunch - some people seem to accept just about anything from a MMO launch these days, as long as the developer promises that there will be fixes and patches later on. Fanboys may keep defending a flawed game long after it's obvious that the pre-launch PR materials they devoured and worshipped were just that - advertising to promote the game in the best possible light.

Personally I subscribe to the school of thought that judges the game purely on it's merits and expects games to be released when they are complete, with patches reserved for introducing new content, fixing unforeseen problems and correcting non-obvious balance issues. Funcom, on the other hand, has effectively released a half-completed beta version, and hopes to "fix it all after launch". The grumpy old MMO gamer in me is not pleased, and I'm disclosing this straight up; I passionately dislike games that are published incomplete, and Age of Conan is one of the worst examples in the recent memory.

--Jarno Kokko
Read the rest in YouGamers - Reviews

Friday, June 13, 2008

My wife and I got married right out of college, in 1978. We were young and naïve and unashamedly idealistic, and we decided to make our first home in a utopian environmentalist community in New York State. For seven years, we lived, quite contentedly, in circumstances that would strike most Americans as austere in the extreme: our living space measured just seven hundred square feet, and we didn’t have a dishwasher, a garbage disposal, a lawn, or a car. We did our grocery shopping on foot, and when we needed to travel longer distances we used public transportation. Because space at home was scarce, we seldom acquired new possessions of significant size. Our electric bills worked out to about a dollar a day.

The utopian community was Manhattan. (Our apartment was on Sixty-ninth Street, between Second and Third.) Most Americans, including most New Yorkers, think of New York City as an ecological nightmare, a wasteland of concrete and garbage and diesel fumes and traffic jams, but in comparison with the rest of America it’s a model of environmental responsibility. By the most significant measures, New York is the greenest community in the United States, and one of the greenest cities in the world. The most devastating damage humans have done to the environment has arisen from the heedless burning of fossil fuels, a category in which New Yorkers are practically prehistoric. The average Manhattanite consumes gasoline at a rate that the country as a whole hasn’t matched since the mid-nineteen-twenties, when the most widely owned car in the United States was the Ford Model T. Eighty-two per cent of Manhattan residents travel to work by public transit, by bicycle, or on foot. That’s ten times the rate for Americans in general, and eight times the rate for residents of Los Angeles County. New York City is more populous than all but eleven states; if it were granted statehood, it would rank fifty- first in per-capita energy use.

--David Owen
Read the rest in Green Manhattan

Tuesday, June 10, 2008
The tools market is dead. Open source killed it.

--John De Goes
Read the rest in Interview: John De Goes Introduces a Newly Free Source Code Editor | Javalobby

Monday, June 9, 2008

This willingness to leave old technology behind is a great strength of the Apple platform. Rather than enshrining past decisions in perpetuity, Apple has a willingness to say "enough's enough; this new way is better, so you should use it". There's no denying that this is a double edged sword. The upside is that this approach lets Apple concentrate its (relatively limited) resources, and if all software (eventually) uses only one toolkit, the UI experience will be much more consistent and familiar to users. The downside is that it does requires more work for software developers. Those with large Carbon applications now have a tough choice; rewrite their UIs, or remain 32-bit forever. One high profile practical consequence of this dilemma is that the next version of Photoshop (CS4) will be 64-bit on Windows but not on Mac OS X; a Cocoa UI won't be available until Photoshop CS5.

Although this does cause some short term inconvenience, in the long run it makes for a more nimble platform that offers a better experience to users. Apple can make sweeping changes (switching from PowerPC to x86, say) without having to think about how to migrate every last bit of legacy technology. Users benefit from applications that are actively maintained, which leverage new OS features as and when they're developed, and which work in a consistent way without surprises. The regular pruning of dead wood that Apple's software ecosystem undergoes makes the whole thing much healthier.

--Peter Bright
Read the rest in From Win32 to Cocoa: a Windows user's conversion to Mac OS X—Part III: Page 3

Friday, June 6, 2008

When I was a young journeyman programmer, I would learn about every feature of the languages I was using, and I would attempt to use all of those features when I wrote. I suppose it was a way of showing off, and I suppose it worked because I was the guy you went to if you wanted to know how to use a particular feature.

Eventually I figured out that some of those features were more trouble than they were worth. Some of them were poorly specified, and so were more likely to cause portability problems. Some resulted in code that was difficult to read or modify. Some induced me to write in a manner that was too tricky and error-prone. And some of those features were design errors. Sometimes language designers make mistakes.

Most programming languages contain good parts and bad parts. I discovered that I could be a better programmer by using only the good parts and avoiding the bad parts. After all, how can you build something good out of bad parts?

It is rarely possible for standards committees to remove imperfections from a language because doing so would cause the breakage of all of the bad programs that depend on those bad parts. They are usually powerless to do anything except heap more features on top of the existing pile of imperfections. And the new features do not always interact harmoniously, thus producing more bad parts.

But you have the power to define your own subset. You can write better programs by relying exclusively on the good parts.

JavaScript is a language with more than its share of bad parts. It went from non-existence to global adoption in an alarmingly short period of time. It never had an interval in the lab when it could be tried out and polished. It went straight into Netscape Navigator 2 just as it was, and it was very rough. When Java™ applets failed, JavaScript became the "Language of the Web" by default. JavaScript's popularity is almost completely independent of its qualities as a programming language.

Fortunately, JavaScript has some extraordinarily good parts. In JavaScript, there is a beautiful, elegant, highly expressive language that is buried under a steaming pile of good intentions and blunders. The best nature of JavaScript is so effectively hidden that for many years the prevailing opinion of JavaScript was that it was an unsightly, incompetent toy. My intention here is to expose the goodness in JavaScript, an outstanding, dynamic programming language. JavaScript is a block of marble, and I chip away the features that are not beautiful until the language's true nature reveals itself. I believe that the elegant subset I carved out is vastly superior to the language as a whole, being more reliable, readable, and maintainable.

--Douglas Crockford
Read the rest in JavaScript: The Good Parts

Thursday, June 5, 2008
Most of the rules in this book derive from a few fundamental principles. Clarity and simplicity are of paramount importance. The user of a module should never be surprised by its behavior. Modules should be as small as possible but no smaller. (As used in this book, the term module refers to any reusable software component, from an individual method to a complex system consisting of multiple packages.) Code should be reused rather than copied. The dependencies between modules should be kept to a minimum. Errors should be detected as soon as possible after they are made, ideally at compile time.

--Joshua Bloch
Read the rest in Effective Java, 2nd edition, p. 2

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

It turns out the mobile devices have grown up so much that even a cell phone, even a fairly, like, middle-of-the-road smart phone today probably has more computing power than the first desktops that were used to run the Linux at. And that doesn’t seem to be stopping.

So, I think especially as far as the kernel is concerned, people worried about that more than I think it turns out you need to worry. The biggest issues on the mobile side tend to be not so much – well, there is still the kernel side; you want to make it smaller, you want to make it more efficient, but I think the thing that more people worry about is actually interfaces.

It makes more a difference that the way you connect to a mobile phone is different from the way you connect to a desktop. You have a very limited keyboard, you have touch screen issues, you have a very small screen and I think the bigger issues tend to be in things like the UI interfaces.

--Linus Torvalds
Read the rest in Linus Torvalds

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The principle of national ownership is deeply embedded in international law, but it is also violated daily under cover of a rule from the days of European colonial empires. By this archaic rule the internationally recognized power to sell off the territory’s resources is vested in anyone violent enough to cow a country’s people into submission. By this rule any tyrant or civil warrior can gain the right to sell off a country’s resources simply through force of arms. According to this archaic rule for selling resources, might makes right.

It is this archaic “might makes right” rule that generates systematic incentives toward the curses of tyranny, violence, and poverty. Authoritarians who gain the resource right use the money from resource sales to buy weapons and spies to keep the population living in fear. Coup plotters look for ways to grab the resource right from the current regime and then become authoritarians in their turn. Rebels who can seize control of resource-rich territory gain the funds they need to start or escalate a civil war. And the people, whose resources are being sold off, become not the beneficiaries of this wealth but the victim of those who use their own wealth to repress them. “Might makes right” is the rule that sets off a violent contest to extract poor countries’ resources while crushing popular resistance, and it is the rule sends the products of crime into our gas stations and shopping malls.

--Leif Wenar Read the rest in Cato Unbound » Blog Archive » We All Own Stolen Goods — and How Defending Property Rights Can Help the World’s Most Oppressed People

Monday, June 2, 2008

the most important principle in all of software design is this: Systems should never reboot.

If you design a system so that it never needs to reboot, then you will eventually, even if it's by a very roundabout path, arrive at a system that will live forever.

All the systems I've listed need to reboot occasionally, which means their practical lifespan is anywhere from a dozen to a hundred more years. Some of them are getting up there — lots of them are in their twenties and thirties now, and there are even a few in their early forties. But they're all still a far cry from immortal.

I think the second most important design principle, really a corollary to the first, is that systems must be able to grow without rebooting. A system that can't grow over time is static, so it really isn't a system at all; it's a function. It might be a very complex function with lots of possible inputs and outputs. It might be a very useful function, and it might live for a long time. But functions are always either replaced or subsumed by systems that can grow. And I've come to believe, over nearly two decades of thinking about this, that systems that can grow and change without rebooting can live forever.

--Steve Yegge
Read the rest in Stevey's Blog Rants: The Pinocchio Problem

Friday, May 30, 2008

Filtered through the lens of a couple of awkward turns of phrase and an oratorical style that could seem tendentious, Gore was seen, in 2000, as a condescending, exaggeration-prone prig. But in the ensuing years, he stepped out of campaign journalism. He began sending his speeches out directly over MoveOn.org's e-mail list, made a movie that asked people to sit down and listen to him for the better part of two hours, and did his rounds on interview shows on which he could have fairly lengthy conversations with hosts.

The result? A massive rehabilitation of his reputation, including in the eyes of the very political pundits who once spurned him. According to a CBS News poll, Gore's favorable rating late last year was at 46%, up from 18% in late 1999. At 46%, incidentally, Gore's rating is higher than the most recent ratings of Bush (30%), Obama (44%), Clinton (42%) or McCain (32%).

Ask those pundits about the new Gore, of course, and they will sigh and search the heavens and moan that, oh, if he had only been this way when he was in politics, how different it all could have been. But he was this way when he was in politics. He was a substantive global-warming obsessive with a penchant for long disquisitions on meaty topics. When his pipeline to the public was a gaffe-hungry media looking for ways to humiliate him, that didn't turn out so well. When he was able to speak directly to the public, those traits were considerably more attractive.

--Ezra Klein
Read the rest in A campaign without the 'gotchas'

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Dell has engaged in repeated misleading, deceptive and unlawful business conduct, including false and deceptive advertising of financing promotions and the terms of warranties, fraudulent, misleading and deceptive practices in credit financing, and failure to provide warranty service and rebates."

--Judge Joseph Teresi, New York State Supreme Court,
Read the rest in Five Steps Dell Should Take To Address A N.Y. Judge's Fraud Ruling

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

commercial companies are realizing that the term "open source" can be co-opted to some degree, and are starting to confuse us with software that is mostly, but not completely open source. Or they do so with licenses that are similar to, but not completely identical to, the open-source licenses that they publicly tout. Or they do so with software that is described as fully open source, when in fact there are proprietary add-ons required to make it useful.

The bottom line is that in open source, as with everything else, let the buyer (or downloader) beware: Richard Stallman might have been the first one to realize that seemingly clear terms can easily be confused by the general public. In the case of open source, the problem is less one of semantics and multiple meanings, and more one of companies blurring the line between their profitable proprietary software, and their attempts to move into the open source market.

--Reuven Lerner
Read the rest in Read the Fine Print on "Open Source" Software | OStatic

Sunday, May 25, 2008

You very likely own stolen goods. The gas in your car, the circuits in your cell phone, the diamond in your ring, the chemicals in your lipstick or shaving cream — even the plastic in your computer may be the product of theft. Americans buy huge quantities of goods every day that are literally stolen from some of the world’s poorest people. These thefts are permitted — indeed encouraged — by an archaic rule of international trade that violates the most fundamental rule of capitalism: to protect property rights.

Tracing these stolen goods back to where the thefts occur lands us in some of the most wretched places on earth. What these countries have in common is an abundance of natural resources and plentiful political violence and corruption. All suffer from what Joseph Stiglitz and Jeffrey Sachs call “the resource curse.” Here dictators and insurgents sell off the country’s resources to foreigners, terrifying the people into submission while keeping the wealth for themselves.

--Leif Wenar
Read the rest in Cato Unbound » Blog Archive » We All Own Stolen Goods — and How Defending Property Rights Can Help the World’s Most Oppressed People

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Love is bigger than government. Who the hell are we as a government to tell people who you can fall in love with? I think it‘s absurd that fact it‘s even being debated.

We can solve the problem simply. Government only acknowledges civil unions then you don‘t have to put your sex down. Let the churches acknowledge marriage. They are the private sectors. If they don‘t want to acknowledge it, they have every right to do so. How on earth can we even entertain the fact that government should have the ability to tell you as an individual who you can fall in love with? Ridiculous.

--Jesse Ventura
Read the rest in Crooks and Liars » Jesse Ventura Schools Pat Buchanan on Gay Marriage

Friday, May 23, 2008

I think most software is crap. Well, that's not quite right. It's fairer to say that I think all software is crap. Yeah. There you have it, Stevey in a Nutshell: software is crap.

Even so, I think some software systems are better than others: the producer of the crap in question swallowed some pennies, maybe, so their crap is shiny in places. Once in a while someone will even swallow a ruby, and their crap is both beautiful and valuable, viewed from a certain, ah, distance. But a turd is still a turd, no matter how many precious stones someone ate to make it.

--Steve Yegge
Read the rest in Stevey's Blog Rants: The Pinocchio Problem

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Most of the people around you would love to be able to use the language that they really like, but the cost for the company just doesn't make sense. I would therefore revise your break down as follows: the reason for not using a non-mainstream language in a big company is 10% politics 10% technology and 80% common sense.

Let me turn the table on you and imagine that one of your coworkers comes to you and tells you that he really wants to implement his part of the project in this awesome language called Draco. How would you react?

Well, you're a pragmatic kind of guy and even though the idea seems wacky, I'm sure you would start by doing some homework (which would show you that Draco was an awesome language used back in the days on the Amiga). Reading up on Draco, you realize that it's indeed a very cool language that has some features that are a good match for the problem at hand. But even as you realize this, you already know what you need to tell that guy, right? Probably something like "You're out of your mind, go back to Eclipse and get cranking". And suddenly, you've become *that* guy. Just because you showed some common sense.

--Cedric Beust
Read the rest in Otaku, Cedric's weblog: Return of the Statically Typed Languages

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Now, as China prepares to showcase its economic advances during the upcoming Olympics in Beijing, Shenzhen is once again serving as a laboratory, a testing ground for the next phase of this vast social experiment. Over the past two years, some 200,000 surveillance cameras have been installed throughout the city. Many are in public spaces, disguised as lampposts. The closed-circuit TV cameras will soon be connected to a single, nationwide network, an all-seeing system that will be capable of tracking and identifying anyone who comes within its range — a project driven in part by U.S. technology and investment. Over the next three years, Chinese security executives predict they will install as many as 2 million CCTVs in Shenzhen, which would make it the most watched city in the world. (Security-crazy London boasts only half a million surveillance cameras.)

The security cameras are just one part of a much broader high-tech surveillance and censorship program known in China as "Golden Shield." The end goal is to use the latest people-tracking technology — thoughtfully supplied by American giants like IBM, Honeywell and General Electric — to create an airtight consumer cocoon: a place where Visa cards, Adidas sneakers, China Mobile cellphones, McDonald's Happy Meals, Tsingtao beer and UPS delivery (to name just a few of the official sponsors of the Beijing Olympics) can be enjoyed under the unblinking eye of the state, without the threat of democracy breaking out. With political unrest on the rise across China, the government hopes to use the surveillance shield to identify and counteract dissent before it explodes into a mass movement like the one that grabbed the world's attention at Tiananmen Square.

Remember how we've always been told that free markets and free people go hand in hand? That was a lie. It turns out that the most efficient delivery system for capitalism is actually a communist-style police state, fortressed with American "homeland security" technologies, pumped up with "war on terror" rhetoric. And the global corporations currently earning superprofits from this social experiment are unlikely to be content if the lucrative new market remains confined to cities such as Shenzhen. Like everything else assembled in China with American parts, Police State 2.0 is ready for export to a neighborhood near you.

--Naomi Klein
Read the rest in China's All

Monday, May 19, 2008

One of the favorite arguments of the free software and open source community for the obvious superiority of such software over proprietary alternatives is the user's supposed ability to take control and modify inadequate software to suit their wishes. Expectedly, the argument has been often repeated in relation to OLPC.

I can't possibly be the only one seeing that the emperor has no clothes.

I started using Linux in '95, before most of today's Internet-using general public knew there existed an OS outside of Windows. It took a week to configure X to work with my graphics card, and I learned serious programming because I later needed to add support for a SCSI hard drive that wasn't recognized properly. (Not knowing that C and kernel hacking are supposed to be "hard", I kept at it for three months until I learned enough to write a patch that works.) I've been primarily a UNIX user since then, alternating between Debian, FreeBSD and later Ubuntu, and recently co-writing a best-selling Linux book.

About eight months ago, when I caught myself fighting yet another battle with suspend/resume on my Linux-running laptop, I got so furious that I went to the nearest Apple store and bought a MacBook. After 12 years of almost exclusive use of free software, I switched to Mac OS X. And you know, shitty power management and many other hassles aren't Linux's fault. The fault lies with needlessly secretive vendors not releasing documentation that would make it possible for Linux to play well with their hardware. But until the day comes when hardware vendors and free software developers find themselves holding hands and spontaneously bursting into one giant orgiastic Kumbaya, that's the world we live in. So in the meantime, I switched to OS X and find it to be an overwhelmingly more enjoyable computing experience. I still have my free software UNIX shell, my free software programming language, my free software ports system, my free software editor, and I run a bunch of free software Linux virtual machines. The vast, near-total majority of computer users aren't programmers. Of the programmers, a vast, near-total majority don't dare in the Land o' Kernel tread. As one of the people who actually can hack my kernel to suit, I find that I don't miss the ability in the least. There, I said it. Hang me for treason.

--Ivan Krstiç
Read the rest in ivan krstiç ? code culture » Sic Transit Gloria Laptopi

Thursday, May 15, 2008
No one in Silicon Valley sits here and thinks, "You need massive inside-the-Beltway experience." Sergey and Larry were in their early 20s when they started Google. The YouTube guys were also in their 20s. So were the guys who started Facebook. And I’ll tell you, we recognize what great companies have been built on, and that’s ideas, talent, and inspirational leadership.

-- John Roos
Read the rest in The Amazing Money Machine

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

What a joke. JavaFX was announced with great fanfare at last year's JavaOne and yet what has actually been released in a year? Nothing of value. Just more hoopla and blah blah blah. Way too little, way too late. Especially now that Adobe has started opening up Flash and friends.

Indeed, with all of the improvements to the world of JavaScript/Ajax libraries, frameworks, and tools and most especially with the growing capabilities around the support of canvas in browsers, there's very little real reason to use those wretched "Rich Internet Application" packages like Flash and JavaFX.

--John D. Mitchell
Read the rest in John D. Mitchell's Blog: JavaOne 2008: Day 1, The Good, The Bad, and The Lame

Monday, May 12, 2008

Martin Odersky and I chatted about the wildcard syntax and the history of generics. He said that the Sun folks approached the introduction of generics very cautiously because they did not want to repeat the disaster of inner classes! At the time, inner classes were perceived to be a short-sighted reaction to C# delegates, with ugly syntax and initially underspecified semantics. Indeed, it took many years for the generics proposal to mature. Wildcards were literally tossed in at the last minute. (The ? super T syntax was suggested at Java One, shortly before the Java 5 release, by someone in the audience of Gilad Bracha's presentation, to replace the proposed T extends ?.)

Now, of course, we have people urging caution with closures so that we don't repeat the disaster of generics.

--Cay Horstmann
Read the rest in Cay Horstmann's Blog: Java One Day 3

Friday, May 9, 2008

In case you didn't get what was behind that exchange, Mrs. Clinton spent this week making it clear. In a jaw-dropping interview in USA Today on Thursday, she said, "I have a much broader base to build a winning coalition on." As evidence she cited an Associated Press report that, she said, "found how Sen. Obama's support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me."

White Americans? Hard-working white Americans? "Even Richard Nixon didn't say white," an Obama supporter said, "even with the Southern strategy."

If John McCain said, "I got the white vote, baby!" his candidacy would be over. And rising in highest indignation against him would be the old Democratic Party.

To play the race card as Mrs. Clinton has, to highlight and encourage a sense that we are crudely divided as a nation, to make your argument a brute and cynical "the black guy can't win but the white girl can" is -- well, so vulgar, so cynical, so cold, that once again a Clinton is making us turn off the television in case the children walk by.

--Peggy Noonan
Read the rest in Declarations

Thursday, May 8, 2008
Saying you should use systems that don't scale well when your project is tiny is like saying you should use Roman numerals for calculations involving small numbers.

--Ben Lynn
Read the rest in Git Magic

Saturday, May 3, 2008

The depiction of McCain as a truth-telling, apolitical maverick is just about as accurate as previous similar depictions of Bush were. On virtually every policy issue of significance, McCain's positions -- not his rhetoric but his actual positions -- ultimately transform into those held by the dominant right-wing faction of the Republican Party and, even more so, are identical to the positions that shaped and defined the failed Bush presidency.

In every way that matters, this exotic, independent-minded maverick is nothing more than a carbon copy extension of the Bush worldview, nothing more than a George W. Bush third term. One sees this most clearly in McCain's view of America's role in the world, whereby he channels the central, and indescribably disastrous, Bush mentality almost verbatim.

The central animating principle of the two Bush/Cheney terms has been that Islamic radicalism is not merely a threat to be managed and rationally contained, like all the other threats and risks the United States faces. Rather, it is some sort of transcendent ideological struggle -- a glorious War of Civilizations -- comparable to the great ideological wars of the past. As such, it will engage all of America's military might and the bulk of its resources, as the United States navigates an endless stream of enemies and wars that subordinates all other national priorities and that assumes a paramount role in our political life. That was the central theme of George Bush's presidency, and it is the central theme of John McCain's worldview now.

--Glenn Greenwald
Read the rest in Glenn Greenwald: Great American Hypocrites: McCain's Old Packaging

Friday, May 2, 2008
Efforts to sustain the housing bubble ensure that houses will be unaffordable for young people or to families moving into bubble inflated markets. For this reason, perhaps the house price support program should be dubbed the "The Housing Unaffordability Act." Every member of Congress would be proud to have their name attached to that one.

--Dean Baker
Read the rest in TPMCafe | Talking Points Memo | <strong>What Happened to “Free-Market” Conservatives (or Neo

Thursday, May 1, 2008
let's try to take immigration completely out of the picture for a moment and imagine that, instead of a wall, the federal government was proposing to build a 4-lane expressway along the river from Brownsville to Laredo. Wouldn't there be a unified grassroots uprising against it? What if they revealed that it would cut right through parts of the LRGV Wildlife Corridor, which has been so carefully patched together and cultivated over the last 20+ years? And what if there would be no exit or overpass anywhere near the Sabal Palm sanctuary and other sites, effectively cutting those places off from the existing road system? And, on top of all that, what if they announced that, in order to speed construction, all environmental review would be waived? Wouldn't we all be outraged?

--David Sibley
Read the rest in Sibley Guides Notebook: More on Texas Border Wall

Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Android is a completely open system, while Apple is definitely more of a closed system. They say, "Here’s a very small box that you can work in." It’s a very nice box that has a lot of nice features, but as a developer, you’re a little bit constrained

--Jason Cline, SitePen
Read the rest in Macworld | SDK showdown: iPhone vs. Android

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The persons who have heard the entire sermon understand the communication perfectly. What is not the failure to communicate is when something is taken like a sound bite for a political purpose and put constantly over and over again, looped in the face of the public. That's not a failure to communicate. Those who are doing that are communicating exactly what they wanna do, which is to paint me as some sort of fanatic or as the learned journalist from the New York Times called me, a "wack-a-doodle." It's to paint me as something. Something's wrong with me. There's nothing wrong with this country. There's -its policies. We're perfect. We-our hands are free. Our hands have no blood on them. That's not a failure to communicate. The message that is being communicated by the sound bites is exactly what those pushing those sound bites want to communicate.

I think they wanted to communicate that I am- unpatriotic, that I am un-American, that I am filled with hate speech, that I have a cult at Trinity United Church of Christ. And, by the way, guess who goes to his church, hint, hint, hint? That's what they wanted to communicate.

--Reverend Jeremiah Wright
Read the rest in Firedoglake » If the Secret Service Can Apologize to Wright, So Can the Media

Monday, April 28, 2008
In today’s America neoconservatives generate brutish policies for which liberals provide the ethical fig leaf

--Tony Judt
Read the rest in Reappraisals - Tony Judt - Book Review

Friday, April 25, 2008
C and C++ are definitely losing ground. There is a simple explanation for this. Languages without automated garbage collection are getting out of fashion. The chance of running into all kinds of memory problems is gradually outweighing the performance penalty you have to pay for garbage collection.

--Paul Jansen
Read the rest in Dr. Dobb's | Programming Languages: Everyone Has a Favorite One | April 23, 2008

Thursday, April 24, 2008
It's interesting for me to see the way the Chinese authorities are treating the flame with such reverence, almost as though it symbolized their claims to regional, if not global, hegemony. Symbols, after all, can mean what you want them to mean, and in a society which has totalitarian control of whatever 1.4 billion people (and their relatives abroad, if they ever want to see them alive again) think, the importance of a mere symbol can be very strategic. The first move to politicize the Olympic torch was a Beijing Government move. As Olympian Alice Mills, quoted in the article above, says, the Olympics, "is not an event that is supposed to be about controversy, it's about the world uniting," But what if the world, or at least the Australia, Burmese, Tibetan, and some other bits, doesn't want to unite behind a fascist Chinese despotism? Then maybe it is supposed to be about controversy. The concept of "Li" or harmony as it is most often translated is used by the Beijing government to mean cooperation with authority. Human rights have no place in this kind of harmony.

--Roger Williams
Read the rest in Readers' Comments: Thorpe 'not worried' about torch protests

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

the MacBook Pro arrived last summer - I was sold enough that my wife got a MacBook - which she loves. Now I've upgraded my old iPod to a Nano, and my wife is getting one of the classic models.

This is a sea change for us - not too many years ago, I was arguing that Macs simply weren't worth the cost premium. Now? The sheer amount of time I haven't had to pound my head on the desk makes up for that differential.

--James Robertson
Read the rest in Apple

Sunday, April 13, 2008
The real question isn’t “What can Microsoft do to fix their Windows product?” but rather “Even If Windows and Office were perfect, would it be enough to keep Microsoft relevant in the medium term?” I think the answer to that latter question might be “nope.” And that, of course, is why they want Yahoo so badly.

--Michael Arrington
Read the rest in Gartner Says Vista Will Collapse. And That’s Why The Yahoo Deal Must Happen

Friday, April 11, 2008

It’s generally hard to build a community around a commercial entity that also wants to be in control because everybody else around that commercial entity will always feel like they’re at the mercy of Sun.

And I’m not even going to go into Open Solaris because, quite frankly, I don’t even care. But I think you see some of that with a project that is considered to be completely open source and has been for a number of years, namely Open Office where the fact that Sun wants to have copyright assignments and exclusive control over the license ends up being something that actually drives away some developers.

--Linus Torvalds
Read the rest in Linus Torvalds

Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Instead of paying attention to what your competitors are doing, start reading your customer feedback e-mail personally. Get online and listen to what people are saying about your products. Keep a running tally of what customers ask for through your company's website. If you actually do this, you'll probably stand apart from the crowd in your industry. The flat-earther corporations pat themselves on the back for having read Thomas Friedman's book and consequently dispatching their customer feedback e-mail to a team of dirt-cheap service reps 10 time zones away from their headquarters. They never have to be troubled again with what their customers need, want, say, or care about.

--Joel Spolsky
Read the rest in Fire and Motion -- Leadership Strategies -

Tuesday, April 8, 2008
The Clintons, man, they would lie on a stack of Bibles. Snipers? That’s not misspeaking; that’s some pure bullshit. I voted for Clinton twice, but that’s over with. These old black politicians say, “Ooh, Massuh Clinton was good to us, massuh hired a lot of us, massuh was good!” Hoo! Charlie Rangel, David Dinkins—they have to understand this is a new day. People ain’t feelin’ that stuff. It’s like a tide, and the people who get in the way are just gonna get swept out into the ocean.

--Spike Lee
Read the rest in 40th Anniversary: Q&A With Spike Lee on Making 'Do the Right Thing' -

Monday, April 7, 2008

What does 64-bit computing mean, practically speaking? In a nutshell, it lets an application address very large amounts of memory--specifically, more than 4 gigabytes. This is great for pro photographers with large collections of high-res images: Lightroom being able to address more RAM means less time swapping images into and out of memory during image processing-intensive operations.

It's also important to say what 64-bit doesn't mean. It doesn't make applications somehow run twice as fast. As Photoshop architect Scott Byer writes, "64-bit applications don't magically get faster access to memory, or any of the other key things that would help most applications perform better." In our testing, when an app isn't using a large data set (one that would otherwise require memory swapping), the speedup due to running in 64-bit mode is around 8-12%.

--John Nack
Read the rest in John Nack on Adobe: Photoshop, Lightroom, and Adobe's 64

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Now Congress is jumping into the act. Remember way back in the fall when they couldn’t find $7 billion to expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Program? Well, now Congress can finds hundreds of billions of dollars to support a housing bubble. It’s a worthy goal. After all, the Wall Street crew might lose their shirts if the housing bubble continues to deflate.

Congress will not be able to support the housing bubble indefinitely, but they might be able to do it long enough to allow the big boys to cash out and pass more of their bad loans onto the taxpayers and other suckers.

The political support for this bailout package may make it unstoppable, but if it does go through, we should be clear that there are new rules. In the post bailout world, anyone who makes claims about forcing workers or the poor to take pay cuts or do without benefits in the name of economic efficiency is simply a fool or liar.

Anyone who cared about economic efficiency would be yelling at the top of their lungs against this bailout. Anyone who can throw untold hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars at the rich to save their hides, has no concerns about economic efficiency, they just want to help the rich. In such a world, the rest of us have the right to demand the same sort of handouts from the government. And those who stand in the way are simply lackeys of the rich and powerful, who pretend to care about principles of economics.

--Dean Baker
Read the rest in TPMCafe | Talking Points Memo | <strong>What Happened to “Free-Market” Conservatives (or Neo

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Being a 64-bit program means, most simply, that pointers in an application are 64 bits wide, not 32 bits.  A 32 bit pointer means that an application can address 2 ^ 32 bytes of memory, or 4GB, at the most.  The operating system an application runs on slices that application address space up, so that the application can actually only allocate a part of that address space for itself.  Thus, on Windows XP, an application can use 2GB of address space, on Macintosh OS X 10.4, an application gets 3GB, on Windows XP 64-bit edition, a 32-bit application gets nearly 4GB of address space.  Applications don't allocate RAM on most modern operating systems - that's a common misconception and a gross oversimplification your computer geek friends tell you because they don't want to explain virtual memory, TLBs and the like.

A 64-bit application doesn't have same that limit on its address space, since pointers are 64 bits - they can address a much larger amount of memory.  That's pretty much it.  64-bit applications don't magically get faster access to memory, or any of the other key things that would help most applications perform better.  Yes, the x64 instruction set has some more registers available, and that helps in limited circumstances, but the processing throughput of a memory bandwidth bound application is pretty much not going to benefit from being a 64-bit application.  In fact, it gets worse in many cases because the internal data structures the application is dealing with get bigger (since many data structures contain pointers, and pointers in a 64-bit application are twice as big as in a 32-bit application).  Memory bandwidth has not kept up with processor speeds, and has become a precious resource.

--Scott Byer
Read the rest in Living Photoshop: 64 bits...when?

Friday, April 4, 2008

Because some of you *did* think Microsoft was changing and getting more open and was wanting to build bridges to FOSS, etc. I know you did. I hoped for a while myself. Well, take a look at the evidence splayed out before us on the ISO table. It speaks. And what it says is, "There is no new Microsoft."

And so we need to get smarter. Make the division more clear. People will choose well, given a clear choice. Firefox and Ubuntu and Red Hat and others have demonstrated that. There is no need to compromise. And if you are tempted by the money, think about the rest of us, will you? Look at ISO. Do you want to be like that?

Anyone, then, from this day forward who is naive enough to believe a single word from Microsoft needs to see a doctor right away. That is the single most important positive result from this OOXML process, as far as I'm concerned. Now we know.

They shouldn't be invited to Open Source conferences to give keynotes, I don't think, or get to be on boards of directors of organizations, or let inside in any way that gives them the chance to pretend to be members of the community or even fair-dealers with FOSS. They will harm you any time they feel like it, and clearly from the OOXML story, we see they do indeed feel like destroying FOSS. They don't mind if a redefined, brand X version of "open" source limps along in its wake, paying tolls along the way to Microsoft, but they intend to kill off the real thing. That's why the OSP doesn't cover the GPL and the February "interoperability" statement opening up certain documentation is only for FOSS if it is noncommercial. Otherwise, all signs point to patent litigation, with all those presidents of countries that just got phone calls from Bill Gates lending a hand, one presumes. That is the plan, Stan, as best I can make it out, and anyone who enables that strategy by signing patent pledges, inviting them to speak as if they are now members of the community, etc. is helping to kill off FOSS. There is no middle ground now.

--Pamela Jones
Read the rest in Groklaw

Wednesday, April 2, 2008
The RIAA? If it had gunpowder for brains, it still wouldn’t be able to blow its nose.

--Tim Bray
Read the rest in ongoing · Music and DRM

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The problem here is that the Net is seen by too many hotels and airports as a way to make money rather than to keep customers happy. That’s because it’s seen as a private business rather than a public utility. It would be better for everybody if we admitted that it’s the latter, even when private businesses provide access to it.

Yes, it has costs. So do electricity, water, waste collection and road maintenance, and neither airports nor hotels charge for those — at least not Thing is, the Net is not a steady scarcity, such as parking. Nor is it simple. But making it gratis removes the billing complexities that are one of its main costs and a frequent cause of failure.

So here’s a message to the aviation and hospitality industries: You’re not in the pay toilet business. Quit trying to turn the Internet into one.

--Doc Searls
Read the rest in Doc Searls Weblog · Getting airports and hotels out of the pay toilet business

Monday, March 31, 2008

most million line programs are a mistake. The fact that Java has lots of them says nothing good about the language; the fact that it takes that much code to achieve something useful says something else entirely. Second, most of the large applications they are talking about are database bound - meaning that the raw execution speed of the code is mostly irrelevant.

Take a live example of a big app written in one of the languages these guys are throwing rocks at - Twitter. Everyone knows they had initial scaling problems, but those have gone away - and the app is still written in Ruby. Gee, why do you suppose that is? Could it be that they went and tuned the database layer, and got their load balancing situation under control? I Rather suspect that a Twitter on J2EE wouldn't exist yet, because some of the million lines of code required would still be being written.

--James Robertson
Read the rest in Earth to Sun

Sunday, March 30, 2008
I saw so many students who simply didn't have the notion that code itself is a topic of interest and that well-structured code is a major time saver. The notion of organizing code to be sure that it is correct and maybe even for someone else to use and modify is alien: They see code as simply something needed to hand in the answers to an exercise.

--Bjarne Stroustrup
Read the rest in Dr. Dobb's | An Interview with Bjarne Stroustrup | March 27, 2008

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Uncle Milton Industries has been selling ant farms to children since 1956. Some years ago, I remember opening one up with a friend. There were no actual ants included in the box. Instead, there was a card that you filled in with your address, and the company would mail you some ants. My friend expressed surprise that you could get ants sent to you in the mail.

I replied: "What's really interesting is that these people will send a tube of live ants to anyone you tell them to."

--Bruce Schneier
Read the rest in Commentary: Inside the Twisted Mind of the Security Professional

Friday, March 21, 2008
Over the past 100 years, management theory has followed a smooth trajectory, from enslavement to empowerment. The 20th century began with Taylorism — engineer Frederick Winslow Taylor's notion that workers are interchangeable cogs — but with every decade came a new philosophy, each advocating that more power be passed down the chain of command to division managers, group leaders, and workers themselves.

--Leander Kahney
Read the rest in How Apple Got Everything Right By Doing Everything Wrong

Wednesday, March 19, 2008
There are certain apps you just can’t build on an iPhone. Apple doesn’t let you do multiprocessing. They don’t let your app run in the background after you switch to another. And they don't let you have interpretive language in your iPhone apps.

--Rich Miner, Google
Read the rest in Google claims 'non

Tuesday, March 18, 2008
The phrases "anti-American" and "America-haters" are among the most barren and manipulative in our entire political lexicon, but whatever they happen to mean on any given day, they easily encompass people who believe that the U.S. deserved the 9/11 attacks, devastating hurricanes and the like. Yet when are people like Falwell, Robertson, Hagee, Inhofe and other white Christian radicals ever described as anti-American or America-hating extremists? Never -- because white Christian evangelicals who tie themselves to the political Right are intrinsically patriotic.

--Glenn Greenwald
Read the rest in The difference between Jeremiah Wright and radical, white evangelical ministers - Glenn Greenwald

Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Apple's success is largely due to ObjC. That language and the APIs built around it and with it are what makes Apple so productive, allows for the rapid development cycle, allows for 5 major OS releases in the time MS manages one, allows for things like iPhone and iPod touch, etc.

--Ronald C.F. Antony on the java-dev mailing list, Sunday, 2 Mar 2008 12:27:27

Monday, March 10, 2008
Google has turned beta code into a weapon, creating "beta" programs that in the case of Gmail had more than three million testers signed-up before it went from beta to production. A beta test is a wonderful thing because it can be ended with a whimper but not with a lawsuit. Betas for Google are sometimes real statements of product direction and sometimes not, but Google competitors have no way of knowing which is which until they, too, have devoted resources to competing with something that may have no long-term existence. The greatest impact of Gmail, for example, was on HotMail and Yahoo Mail, forcing them to dramatically increase their cost structures to keep users from fleeing for Gmail's greater storage allowance.

--Mark Stephens
Read the rest in PBS | I, Cringely . January 5, 2006

Thursday, March 6, 2008
Java has already used up its complexity budget.

--Joshua Bloch at Software Development 2008 West, Thursday, 6 Mar 2008

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Actually, according to a Sun speaker at Mobile & Embedded Developer Days, only a tiny fraction of the existing Blu-Ray titles use BD-J. Most use the simpler, DVD-like HDMV scripting.

Worse, every Blu-Ray session I've gone to has actually acknowledged severe cross-player compatibility problems with BD-J. And the demos of the technology so far have only shown off fancier menus and extremely trifling games. At MEDDs, they showed the Surf's Up disc's pinball game, a 2D trifle that isn't even up to contemporary standards for Flash games.

I'm starting to equate BD-J with Gertrude Stein's famous comment about L.A.: there's no there there.

--Chris Adamson on the java-dev mailing list, Wednesday, 13 Feb 2008 12:49:03

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Databases store data to disk. Thats all what 90% of us use them for. They are essentially elaborate hash tables backed by a disk drive. Why are they more lines of code than some operating systems?

Despite that, unless you have a really well thought out setup, a disk failure is still a major disaster. Even if you have backups, even if you have replication, there will be downtime and manual labor while a new master server is established. Databases never put your 10-20 commodity server boxes with all their spare disk space to use. They always sit on these really expensive ivory tower IBM boxes outside of your cheap cluster.

--Tobias Lütke
Read the rest in Futuretalk: CouchDB - Too

Saturday, March 1, 2008

When it comes to human rights, and not just political rights (although the two are obviously linked), things can become more complicated. It is not always easy to define what should be regarded as a human right. Child labour, for example, can be a necessity in very poor countries. Trying to stop it, in the name of human rights, can make things worse for people instead of better. Nor is there a universal agreement on the precise age at which a person stops being a child.

But again, culture is often a poor excuse for inhumanity. Slavery, female circumcision or stoning of adulterous women are undoubtedly part of certain cultures, in that they are traditional practices. So is widow burning in India. This is not a good argument, however, for continuing such practices.

-- Ian Buruma
Read the rest in Guardian Unlimited | Comment is free | Culture is no excuse for China denying its people democracy

Thursday, February 28, 2008
The fact that Sun doesn’t developer client software and isn’t investing half as much in Swing as the other platforms are make me conclude that without a huge turn around, Swing is drowning.

--Dion Almaer
Read the rest in Swing is still drowning, and how it will be hard to get some air on Dion Almaer's Blog

Tuesday, February 26, 2008
planting settlers on the West Bank is no more Israel's national interest than the installation of a German-speaking mayor in Strasbourg is Germany's, or than the conquest of Toronto or Vancouver is America's. In fact, less so: every day that the number of settlers on the West Bank increases--indeed, every day Israeli settlers remain on the West Bank--Israel becomes weaker, and the chance that Tel Aviv will become an abbatoir, a sea of radioactive glass--along with Damascus and Tehran--goes up.

--Brad Delong
Read the rest in Grasping Reality with Both Hands: Economist Brad DeLong's Fair, Balanced, and Reality-Based Semi

Monday, February 25, 2008
the prospect of widespread adoption of DRM restrictions on Flash threatens to squash a growing tradition of expressive fair use of online video -- a practice effectively in its infancy that, left unfettered, would be a dynamic solution to our failing effort to teach media literacy. Before we understand how to read media messages, we must first learn how to speak their language -- and we learn that language by playing with and remixing the efforts of others. DRM, by restricting the remixing of Flash videos, stands to bankrupt a rich store of educational value by foreclosing the ability of students and teachers to "echo others" by remixing videos posted online.

--Seth Schoen
Read the rest in Adobe Pushes DRM for Flash | Electronic Frontier Foundation

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The reason I’m ambivalent about Sun is that they do a lot of things right and they traditionally have done a lot of things right. I mean, and they do point to that fact that they’re open source mentality actually goes back quite far and one of the things they and others point to is NFS itself where it may not have been open source, but it was an open standard and being open was actually what made NFS succeed in the first place.

And that was definitely a Sun thing, being open. So, in many ways, Sun has done a lot of things right. At the same time, they seem to often have trouble going the full last step. So, Java is an example of that where they have now – I think they’ve released another GPL Version 2 basically a year ago; I forget the exact details.

And they finally did that and it is now really open source, but at the same time it took them something like six years to get to that point and before that they tried to push a failed license where they did try to maintain control and they always claimed the best of intentions. They claimed that they needed to be in control because they didn’t want to fragment the market and there was always this kind of rationalization for why they had to be in control.

--Linus Torvalds
Read the rest in Linus Torvalds

Saturday, February 16, 2008
How many Britons are actually born abroad? How many generations back do you need to trace before having a baby gets the OK? With 44,000 fewer 'British' babies born a year in this country, don't we need imports? We were too busy decrying the invading hordes to ask the relevant questions. When did we become so mean-spirited and small-minded? The British once cherished their reputation for fairness. It's an image that needs Alastair Campbell-style spinning skills if we're to retain it.

--Mariella Frostrup
Read the rest in Guardian Unlimited | Comment is free | I remember the hope Britain once inspired

Friday, February 15, 2008
Instead of having faith in the U.S. court system to fairly handle these cases; the U.S. Senate is poised to give the telecom providers a get-out-of-jail-free card. The ACLU urges Senators to stand strong on immunity and not let the telecoms off the hook. Everyone deserves their day in court against companies that may have wronged them.

--Caroline Fredrickson
Read the rest in Senate caves, votes to give telecoms retroactive immunity

Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Frankly, I'm not very interested in data that's predictable. It doesn't happen in real life, only in student textbooks. We use relational databases when we can pretend that the data is predictable. We force the data to fit into rows and columns by ignoring the parts of the information that can't readily be modelled that way, and we pretend that it isn't changing by ignoring the changes, or the requirements for change.

--Michael Kay on the xml-dev mailing list, Tuesday, 12 Feb 2008 11:47:36

Tuesday, February 12, 2008
users don't care about Java, which never really works right. They care about what they can do and you can do more, faster, with a browser alone, without the Java chunks cluttering things up, or, as some call it making a "richer" experience.

--Martin Focazio on the wwwac mailing list, Wednesday, 10 Oct 2007 15:41:32

Monday, February 11, 2008
my single biggest peeve with NetBeans: No workspaces. I have a dozen different Eclipse workspaces (for books, open source, college courses, etc.). Each has a separate set of coding conventions and libraries. Some of them contain a single project, others contain hundreds. (The Core Java and Core JSF workspaces have a project for every sample program.) Of course, a corporate developer doesn't care so much, but consultants, book writers, professors, etc. surely do, and they are in a position to convince lots of folks to give NetBeans a try.

--Cay Horstmann
Read the rest in Cay Horstmann's Blog

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Since 9/11, two -- or maybe three -- things have potentially improved airline security: reinforcing the cockpit doors, passengers realizing they have to fight back and -- possibly -- sky marshals. Everything else -- all the security measures that affect privacy -- is just security theater and a waste of effort.

By the same token, many of the anti-privacy "security" measures we're seeing -- national ID cards, warrantless eavesdropping, massive data mining and so on -- do little to improve, and in some cases harm, security. And government claims of their success are either wrong, or against fake threats.

The debate isn't security versus privacy. It's liberty versus control.

--Bruce Schneier
Read the rest in What Our Top Spy Doesn't Get: Security and Privacy Aren't Opposites

Thursday, February 7, 2008

It is not only difficult to estimate a project accurately in the early stages, it is theoretically impossible. At the end of the requirements development phase, the scope of the project will be determined by myriad decisions yet to be made during architecture, detailed design, and construction. The person who claims to be able to estimate the impact of those myriad decisions before they are actually made is either a prophet or not very well informed about the intrinsic nature of software development.

On the other hand, the person who seeks to control the way those decisions are made in order to meet the project's schedule or budget targets is operating sensibly. You can set firm schedule and budget targets early in the project as long as you're willing to be ruthless about cutting planned functionality to meet those targets. Keys to success in meeting targets in this way include setting crystal clear and non-conflicting goals at the beginning of the project, keeping the product concept very flexible, and then actively tracking and controlling development work throughout the rest of the project.

--Steve McConnell
Read the rest in Software Project Survival Guide, p. 32

Sunday, February 3, 2008
the West has very rarely, if ever, 'imposed' democracy on anyone. Perhaps the world would be a better place if it had. On the contrary, during the Cold War, the main US policy was to support 'our bastards' whoever they were, as long as they were anti-communist. A certain amount of lip service, faute de mieux, was paid to democracy, after the invasion of Iraq, but few members of the Bush administration had a serious interest in imposing free institutions.

-- Ian Buruma
Read the rest in Guardian Unlimited | Comment is free | Culture is no excuse for China denying its people democracy

Saturday, February 2, 2008
If you mean the reaction of outrage over the horrifying criminal assault, and sympathy for the victims, then the reactions are virtually unanimous everywhere, including the Muslim countries. Of course every sane person shares them completely, not "partly." If you are referring to the calls for a murderous assault that will surely kill many innocent people -- and, incidentally, answer bin Laden's most fervent prayers -- than there is no such "unanimous reaction," despite superficial impressions that one might derive from watching TV. As for me, I join a great many others in opposing such actions. A great many. The New York Times surveyed opinion in the streets of New York, and at a memorial for the victims, discovering that the sentiments expressed in words and in signs were overwhelmingly opposed to a resort to violence. What majority sentiment is, no one can really say: it is too diffuse and complex. But "unanimous"? Surely not, except with regard to the nature of the crime.

--Noam Chomsky
Read the rest in The Theatre of Good and Evil

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

leaving Chicago, Homeland Security seized my toothpaste. The tube that was carefully purchased in a size that’s legal to take on planes. Except for, it wasn’t in a plastic bag. You see, 90ml of naked toothpaste is dangerous and can be used in terrorist attacks, but putting it in a plastic bag prevents this.

Can we get some intelligent behavior out of our politicians please? This moronic security theater is damaging our quality-of-life and arguably playing into the actual terrorists’ hands.

--Tim Bray
Read the rest in ongoing · Naked Terrorist Toothpaste

Monday, January 28, 2008
Some people are making very good money because they are the only ones in their company who know how to code in Cobol and Fortran. Think of them as 'coroner coders'. It comes to all living things to carry their dead around boxed or shrinkwrapped or left out on the back porch to let the chickens nibble on.

--Len Bullard on the xml-dev mailing list, Wednesday, 14 Feb 2007 09:03:51

Friday, January 25, 2008

The biggest endorsement of IntelliJ came from ThoughtWorks developers. If anyone suggested a standard IDE for ThoughtWorks projects we needed tear-gas to control the riots. There were JBuilder zealots, textpad zealots, slickedit zealots - don't even get me started on the emacs zealots.

Within six months nearly everyone was using IntelliJ. Voluntarily and eagerly. Even Simon Harris caved in.

I was known for my annoying habit of stating how Smalltalk's IDE was better than anything I'd seen. No longer. For me IntelliJ was first leap forwards in IDEs since Smalltalk. Power and usability that suddenly made everything else second rate. We had entered the post-IntellJ era

--Martin Fowler
Read the rest in MF Bliki: PostIntelliJ

Thursday, January 24, 2008
Perspective: Most of the people in the Palestinian areas live with no water save for that which they must purchase from the Israelis at exhorbitant costs. Many have lost fathers, brothers, sons, sometimes daughters and sisters. They have watched their homes razed by Israeli settlers, using weaponry, tanks, and planes sold by the US. For every one Israeli that dies, ten Palestinians do, yet most Americans see only those pictures and news stories that show the Palestinian effects of terrorism, not the effects upon the Palestinians that the Israelis visit on them daily.

--Kurt Cagle on the "Computer Book Publishing" mailing list

Wednesday, January 23, 2008
My impression, after extensive research on the subject of app servers e.g., WebSphere) for past projects, is that they are useful when requirements dictate integrating diverse legacy environments. Otherwise they are a slow bloat to nowhere. Because everything goes through the app server, scaling depends on the highest traffic area of the site which can be hugely expensive and overkill for editorial and admin functions.

--Clay Gordon on the wwwac mailing list, Wednesday, 10 Oct 2007 12:45:31

Monday, January 21, 2008
Whenever you hear someone mention “engaging user experience”, run. All too often “creating an engaging user experience” on the Web means filling the site with enough pointless Flash bling-bling and/or library-based JavaScript effects to completely ruin any chances of the user actually getting anything done. People who talk a lot about creating a good user experience are more often than not completely clueless about usability and interaction design. Ironic, isn’t it?

--Roger Johannson
Read the rest in Lame excuses for not being a Web professional | 456 Berea Street

Sunday, January 20, 2008
If there's anyone who deserves to be sued into oblivion, it's the RIAA. The music labels could have adapted to the new digital system and remained profitable. Less so than with physical media, sure - but instead, they started to act like the mob. Let 'em die.

--James Robertson
Read the rest in Kick the RIAA While They're Down

Friday, January 18, 2008

Yesterday's big news (aside from Oracle / BEA for I think $8.5B) was Sun announcing that it would buy MySQL for $1B.

Frankly, this deal caught me by surprise. I've been critical of Sun at times, but I think this is a smart move for them. It continues their trend of trying to offer open source and/or cheap software tools (e.g., Star Office) that undermine incumbents in large markets. And it will help them transition to from a wounded workstation and server company to something else. What "something else" is I'm not sure. I am sure, however, that they can't stay still, so in a sense any motion represents potential progress.

--Dave Kellogg
Read the rest in Mark Logic CEO Blog: Sun Buys MySQL for $1B

Thursday, January 17, 2008

I've never found the language to be the defining factor in whether or not a programming task was interesting. The language could make it easier or more difficult, but not more or less interesting.

Languages themselves can be more or less interesting, though. Perl's mix of procedural, functional, and object oriented is something I find "interesting". But that just means that there is a wider range of conceptual approaches to a given problem that can be implemented in Perl; not that doing so is more or less interesting.

--Andrew Gideon on the wwwac mailing list, Sunday, 4 Oct 2007 18:06:25 +0000

Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Despite million man years of research databases are actually pretty dumb. You have to tell them about every nuance of your schema, you have to tell them about indexes and so on. If you forget an index they are perfectly happy to run sequentially run through all the data you ever inserted into them many times a second.

--Tobias Lütke
Read the rest in Futuretalk: CouchDB - Too

Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Intellectual property is as vague and irrelevant a concept as the economic policies of the Whig Party.

--Martin Focazio on the WWWAC List, Tuesday, 6 Nov 2007 10:11:12

Monday, January 14, 2008
Helium is non-renewable and irreplaceable. Its properties are unique and unlike hydrocarbon fuels, there are no biosynthetic ways to make an alternative to helium. All should make better efforts to recycle it.

--Dr. Lee Sobotka
Read the rest in Helium Supplies Endangered, Threatening Science And Technology

Saturday, January 12, 2008

I’m not sure which is more troubling, the inanity of the existing regulations, or the average American’s acceptance of them and willingness to be humiliated. These wasteful and tedious protocols have solidified into what appears to be indefinite policy, with little or no opposition. There ought to be a tide of protest rising up against this mania. Where is it? At its loudest, the voice of the traveling public is one of grumbled resignation. The op-ed pages are silent, the pundits have nothing meaningful to say.

The airlines, for their part, are in something of a bind. The willingness of our carriers to allow flying to become an increasingly unpleasant experience suggests a business sense of masochistic capitulation. On the other hand, imagine the outrage among security zealots should airlines be caught lobbying for what is perceived to be a dangerous abrogation of security and responsibility — even if it’s not. Carriers caught plenty of flack, almost all of it unfair, in the aftermath of September 11th. Understandably, they no longer want that liability.

As for Americans themselves, I suppose that it’s less than realistic to expect street protests or airport sit-ins from citizen fliers, and maybe we shouldn’t expect too much from a press and media that have had no trouble letting countless other injustices slip to the wayside. And rather than rethink our policies, the best we’ve come up with is a way to skirt them — for a fee, naturally — via schemes like Registered Traveler. Americans can now pay to have their personal information put on file just to avoid the hassle of airport security. As cynical as George Orwell ever was, I doubt he imagined the idea of citizens offering up money for their own subjugation.

How we got to this point is an interesting study in reactionary politics, fear-mongering and a disconcerting willingness of the American public to accept almost anything in the name of “security.” Conned and frightened, our nation demands not actual security, but security spectacle. And although a reasonable percentage of passengers, along with most security experts, would concur such theater serves no useful purpose, there has been surprisingly little outrage. In that regard, maybe we’ve gotten exactly the system we deserve.

--Patrick Smith
Read the rest in The Airport Security Follies - Jet Lagged - Air Travel - Opinion

Thursday, January 10, 2008
you know why crappy programmers don't detect they emit garbage? Because of all those other crappy programmers who, believing Postel's law, happily accept garbage and try to make sense of it. So no one detects serious errors until they're in the field and deployed and others have to work with it.

--Berend de Boer on the rest-discuss mailing list, Saturday, 29 Dec 2007 19:10:18

Sunday, January 6, 2008
I was little more impressed by JAX-WS 2.0, which is not as messy of a train wreck as JAX-RPC, but is still a train wreck. Yes, JAX-WS 2.0 does support annotations and they do cut down on the amount of XML configuration files you have to write, but even if you cut the XML required by JAX-RPC by 60% its still too much in my opinion. For the simplest web services (you know the ones that you'll never implement) JAX-RPC works fine, but once you get into more realistic scenarios the whole thing becomes an XML nightmare. JAX-WS 2.0 successfully reduces the configuration needed by introducing annotations with reasonable defaults, but it’s still a horribly complex technology. Again, really simple web services will probably be pretty easy to implement, but when it comes to supporting real-world scenarios it's going to get messy. Not only is the runtime behavior, including handler chains, still complicated but the number of annotations required could make source code (end-point interfaces or implementation classes) look like 20 kids tagged it with spray cans. It will be hard to see the code through all the annotations.

--Richard Monson-Haefel
Read the rest in I, Analyst: JAX

Saturday, January 5, 2008
the DRM that Hollywood is so much in love with, is really only harming their paying customers. When you do a DRM reset, it’s not your pirated files that get revoked, it’s the ones that you already paid for that are at risk. I’m not allowed to watch low res Netflix files, even though I have the capability to download high def torrents? How does this even make sense? It’s as if the studios want their digital strategies to fail.

--Davis Freeberg
Read the rest in Davis Freeberg’s Digital Connection » Bad COPP No Netflix

Friday, January 4, 2008
Like the state of California, Colorado will continue to marginalize disabled voters by providing them with defective and insecure electronic voting systems.

--Ryan Paul
Read the rest in Colorado official: state should go back to paper ballots

Thursday, January 3, 2008
it happens less often nowadays, but just yesterday I made an online purchase from a US supplier who required me to enter a two-letter code in the "State" box and a numeric value in the "postal code" box, despite the fact that I had entered UK as the country; so of course I lied, and they now have my state recorded as "ZZ" and the postal code as 12345. They also required a ten-digit phone number. Which reinforces another of my arguments: the more validation you do, the more you force people to supply incorrect information.

--Michael Kay on the xml-dev mailing list, Monday, 23 Aug 2004

Tuesday, January 1, 2008
Let hope 2008 isn't the year when ripping your own CD will land you in Jail.

--Scott Wickham on the WWWAC mailing list, Tuesday, 1 Jan 2008 01:30:51

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