Monday, December 29, 2008

Eye-glasses for a billion poor people

Here's an article from the Guardian about a fellow named Josh Silver who wants to take a simple adjustable lens technology and apply it to low-cost eye-glasses so that poor people can have personally tuned prescription vision correction without the need for an expensive optometrist. Silver says,
"Things are never simple. But I will solve this problem if I can. And I won't really let people stand in my way."
This guy is my hero. This is an awesome story about the birth of an idea, the recognition of a problem, the connection made between the two, and the will to implement the solution, despite the tremendous obstacles of organization, distribution and shear cost.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Presets

Looking around, it was difficult to find a better online video introduction to The Presets than this one. Enjoy.
The Presets - Ormand Hall Live from Sey Something on Vimeo.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christopher Schabel's disc golf wiki

Because he's such a cool guy, I am linking to the website of Christopher Schabel where he hosts a wiki on disc golf.

That's awesome not just because disc golf is pretty awesome too, but also because of the awesome score cards he's got on there.

Friday, December 19, 2008

If time travel is possible, then why haven't we been visited?

I know this topic has been addressed numerous times on the web and in an endless stream of science fiction books, movies and television shows, but I'd like to see if anybody out there has their own ideas. The idea is that time travel cannot be possible, because if it were possible then a working time machine would inevitably be engineered sometime in the future.

Once a time machine was in the hands of human beings, there would be all kinds of weirdness happening. What could stop us from traveling back in time to "fix" things to our advantage? Surely if time travel is possible then a time machine will exist in the future and someone will abuse it.

Given the amount of time in the future (theoretically infinite) someone traveling back in time to visit us is simply unavoidable if time travel is possible.

So why didn't we catch any people from the future taking their vacations in the Ming Dynasty?

Possible explanations for why this doesn't seem to have happened:
  1. It has already happened, but the government has covered it up.
  2. It has already happened, but a secret future agency of time cops has been traveling back in time and short circuiting the offending time travelers before they can commit their abuse of the past.
  3. We don't have as much time as we think we do. The sun will go nova (or another global catastrophe) way before we think it will and there is nobody left on future Earth to travel back in time.
  4. Time travel simply will never be possible no matter how far our scientific and technological advances take us.
  5. Update: Greg Lange of greglange.com has suggested that it may only be possible to travel into the future, and not the past. Forward-only time travel certainly seems possible given the phenomenon of time dilation based on velocity close to light speed in the theory of special relativity (see the Wikipedia article on the twin paradox).
  6. Update: Another possibility involves imagining that traveling back in time instantly shifts the traveler into an alternate universe exactly like our own, except with the traveler temporally located in a time in the past instead of his native time. This would explain why no one has ever seen a backwards time traveler -- we're all still in this universe. The time traveler doesn't travel back in time to our time, but backwards in the time line of a completely different universe.


What do you think?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Are you a film addict?

IMDB has a Top 250 Films Of All Time list.

Which have you seen?
Take the quiz

[ via Kottke ]

Shoes thrown at Bush

Wow. Just wow. Bush was giving a press conference about how everything's going better in Iraq and some Iraqi journalist chunks his shoes at our President while yelling, "It is the farewell kiss, you dog." Apparently that is the worst insult the guy could think of.



This is probably the best angle on the takedown of the assailant:


But honestly...


[ Link ]

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Fat Freddy's Drop - Cay's Crays



No, he's not singing, "The Skank be the rock in my life".

He's singing, "The skank beat rockin' my life".

You may have just learned a new piece of valuable musical trivia.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Thought-provoking video on the banking system

Sometime last year I came across this series of videos on YouTube about how banks making loans, not government-printed currency, creates most of the money in the United States economy. At the time, I thought, "This is hard to believe, but it makes sense. This is just some communist outfit propaganda, though, right? How can it be that the government is seemingly so far removed from actual control of the money supply?" The YouTube version was bookmarked and forgotten in my Firefox browser. (My delicious account is desperately long overdue for syncing.)

These past few months though, when US banks started begging "us tax-payers" for bailout money, reminded me of the ideas in the video. Thanks to Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing and someone named Chris (?) for the link.

Stuff in this video gets a bit complicated but it is well-worth the effort to endure all 47 minutes.



[ Link ]

Update! Here is a web page that lists the references for the quotes that Paul Grignon has used in his Money as Debt video.

Clerkenwell and The Real Tuesday Weld

Beat-boxing, duck-stepping, cuckoo birds. Good stuff. The Real Tuesday Weld is pretty fun music.

Bathtime in Clerkenwell


Last Time In Clerkenwell


(@davewiner reminded me about this via twitter.)

[ Link ]

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Film personality test

From kottke.org:

Choose your favorite movie per director.
1) Joel Coen, 2) Wes Anderson, 3) Hal Ashby, 4) Kevin Smith, 5) Quentin Tarantino, 6) Stanley Kubrick, 7) P.T. Anderson, 8) Errol Morris

1) The Big Lebowski (runner-up: O Brother, Where Art Thou)
2) Rushmore (runner-up: The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou)
3) Being There
4) Clerks (runner-up: Chasing Amy)
5) Reservoir Dogs (runner-up: Kill Bill)
6) 2001: A Space Odyssey (runner-up: Full Metal Jacket)
7) There Will Be Blood
8) A Brief History of Time

But, none of these are my favorite movies.

I like WALL•E the most, at least for this year 2008.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Moving, you're doing it wrong

This defines my moving ideology.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/apelad/2661387323/

Unfortunately, my implementation == epic fail[1]. Pip and Kitteh do it better for realz.

I heart Laugh-Out-Loud Cats, btw!

[1] Speaking of fail: failblog.org/employment

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Alien-like Squid With "Elbows" Filmed at Drilling Site

Kelly Hearn for National Geographic News reported on this on Monday. Why is it that sci-fi aliens often look so similar to this squid thingie? Did a science fiction writer at one time see one of these things, from then on influencing how sci-fi aliens appear in movies and comic books?



[ Link ]

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Processing, The Flashbulb, iTunes, and Benn Jordan

This dope album by The Flashbulb is pretty good. It is mostly instrumental songs. After watching this amazing video that some guys did using processing for Java I did a search on completetorrent.com.

In the album directory with the mp3s was this little file, Please_read.html. So I opened it in Firefox. You should too.

I have no words to express how happy it made me to read those words.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Watched a movie

Just got done watching Six Degrees of Separation. I enjoy movies that make me feel something unexpected, by allowing me to put myself in a character's place and imagining I feel what they feel. Putting myself in Louisa's and John's place makes me feel squeamish, embarrassed and in a sort of self-reflecting mood. Not as much as watching Six Degrees, but I get a similar feeling of embarrassment when I read this. I saw RZA as Bobby Digital a couple months ago up in Austin. Not to mention Talib Kweli, and Nas. They were both good shows, and everyone there was having a great time. What is the purpose of reflection on the racism of affluent European Americans? Is it to keep from repeating the past by knowing a history of violence? Maybe to explain it away to an American liberal media-developed guilty conscience? What do I mean by guilty conscience? Listen to NPR. What do I mean by American liberal media? Listen to some vintage Rush Limbaugh and he'll spell it out for you with desk-thumping punctuation. It is amazing to me how the media in this country always seems to get blamed for the woes of the politically disenfranchised. In 1992, it was conservative republicans who saw their incumbent president, George Herbert Walker Bush, beaten by an elated liberal media darling, William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton. Oh who can forget old Bill? With his saxophone, and his shades. You have to give the man some credit. After him, it seems that you simply cannot become president without having used some illegal substance. Now that's trend setting. In 2000, Albert Arnold Gore Jr. was beaten out of the presidency by a friendlier, more like-able George Walker Bush. The long-wavelength side of the political spectrum has since been in a perpetual state of media blaming. I mean, holy hand grenades of Antioch, Batman, that's some extremism. And now that the pendulum has once again swung back (click the "voting shifts" tab),
we're stuck hearing people 65 and older and their favorite children complain about how once again their only source of truth can be found in the drudgereport.com because the rest of the media has a liberal agenda. They're right, but they're right in the same way that someone who tells you that littering is illegal, as if their lifestyle as an American isn't one of the most wasteful in the world. It's rightness, but it's futile, useless, palm-tree-standing-up-to-a-tidal-wave rightness. Just like the world of academic science is liberal. Just like artists are liberals. So what? So, if you hold conservative values dear, do you scoff at academic publication? Do you roll your eyes at orbiting fruit? Do you rage against the media machine? Perhaps, but maybe you also find it in your heart to reach out and try to understand your neighbor and try to share your ideas and values. The media, of course, is just a feedback loop on our collective consciousness. The media is our imagination. It not only lets us reflect on our own lives, but it also cultivates desire, ambition, and motivation. It directs, at the same time it reflects. The next time I feel a need to reflect, I'll just remind myself that when Paul Poitier-Kittredge said that it is cowardly to put blindfolds on rather than deal with yourself, he was just trying to get attention. We all need to be acknowledged, and not like a curiosity, or as a charity case, but as equals. So, use your imagination -- none of us are equal, but we're all the same deep down, and we all get drug down into the gutter by our deficits at some point in our lives.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thanks Mike! (Apache Tomcat SSL Certificate Keystore Configuration)

Today at work Mike helped me out with my Tomcat SSL crap.

The Tomcat SSL Connector in the conf/server.xml file seems to want to use a java keystore file.

That keystore file is usually created with the $JAVA_HOME/jre/bin/keytool program. Unfortunately, I was given a key file by my sys admin, and keytool requires that the pem file containing the key is X.509 encoded.

The openssl program will happily take care of encoding the pem file containing the actual certificate file:
-----BEGIN CERTIFICATE-----
...asdfghjkl=...
-----END CERTIFICATE-----
Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to work for the actual key file:
-----BEGIN RSA PRIVATE KEY-----
...asdfghjkl...
-----END RSA PRIVATE KEY-----
So, I asked Mike if he happened to know anything about SSL and Java keystores. He gave me this script (slightly modified from the original):
http://pastebin.com/f73d69466

His script basically automates the process of getting a personal certificate, or rather, converting between a SSL chain certificate pem file and a Java keystore file.

It does this by first using openssl to create a PKCS12 encoded version of the pem file given piped thru stdin, and then using PKCS12Import to store the PKCS12 entry into the Java keystore. Very nice.

Further reading:
Extracting private key from Java
Some Java source code for the com.sun.xml.wss package at dev.java.net

In summary, Mike is cool. Thanks, Mike.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Bye @MarsPhoenix

Nels Nelson
nelsnelson
@MarsPhoenix: Thanks for all the fish. One small triumph for a robot, some thousands of envious geeks.
less than 5 seconds ago from web
in reply to MarsPhoenix

AntonOlsen
AntonOlsen
shedding a tear for @MarsPhoenix: http://tinyurl.com/5lv8g2
20 minutes ago from TwitterFox

MarsPhoenix
MarsPhoenix
[Ops: Retweet @alexismadrigal:@MarsPhoenix is finally frozen on the Martian arctic plain. Veni, vidi, fodi. RIP: http://snurl.com/5amfx]
24 minutes ago from web

MarsPhoenix
MarsPhoenix
[Phoenix Ops: We promised Phoenix to continue to update here its
discoveries and future news. Another goodbye from Mars: http://is.gd/6Xfp ]
about 1 hour ago from web

MarsPhoenix
MarsPhoenix
[Phoenix mission ops:We bid our good friend a fond farewell. Phoenix did us proud:http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/vid... ]
about 1 hour ago from web

MarsPhoenix
MarsPhoenix
[From Phoenix mission ops: Phoenix is no longer communicating with
Earth. We'll continue to listen, but it's likely its mission has
ended.]
about 1 hour ago from web

MarsPhoenix
MarsPhoenix
01010100 01110010 01101001 01110101 01101101 01110000 01101000 <3

about 1 hour ago
from web

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Gives me chills

When I look at this image.

http://nevver.tumblr.com/post/58212477/the-free-market-has-spoken


And yet, the Devil's hint at a joke makes me ill.

Peace and God speed, Congressman Paul.

Trying to understand science

No, not really. But I am thinking about going to church tomorrow.

I am also trying to close all the tabs in my web browser. This leads to finding stuff like this:


"I do not have any money so am sending you this drawing I did of a spider instead."


...

Friday, October 24, 2008

Man is sued by eBay Seller for leaving negative feedback

I hate most of the sellers on eBay.

They're mostly a bunch of impersonal, greedy, socially incapable, jerkfaces.

This guy is getting sued by some dumb f#%@ on eBay, just because he used the feedback feature on ebay.com, and left a negative review of his transaction.

[ Link ]

F*** YOU E-BAY!

I use craigslist.org, exclusively now. Everyone I meet on that site is really kind and nice.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Trivia Night

Wess, Courtney, Medina and I won trivia night Monday at the Thirsty Turtle.

Going into the final round, our team, the Protein Shakes, were in third place with 59 points. Team Rusty Trombones were in first place with 75 points.

The final question, for as many points as our team wished to risk up to 20 points, was, "What are the most common languages on the Internet, in order from most to lease common?"

(On our answer card, I immediately started writing, "HTML", "Javascript", "PHP", and "ASP".)

Just then the MC called out, "Spanish? English? Japanese? Chinese?". That was lucky, because I was just guessing about the web programming languages. I was probably way off.

We risked all 20 points and won first place. What do you think the answer was?

Thursday, October 09, 2008

I was wrong about Kant

I was talking to Greg about Kant yesterday, and found I was wrong about two things.

First, I had said that Kant was from France, and was a Roman Catholic. This was wrong -- Kant was German, and raised in a Lutheran family. I think I had him mixed up with Descartes.

Second, at some point, I mispronounced Kant as "can't" for some reason, even though I had already been pronouncing it correctly during the conversation. Thanks Scott, for correcting me.


Greg sent me an instant message with a quote he attributed to Kant in which Kant seemed to deny knowledge and demo a need for faith instead.

Greg also said that Kant believed that morality is a function of duty to an obligation, and that the function of morality to duty was broken if fulfillment of the duty was beneficial to self.

Greg said that these two things were enough to condemn Immanuel Kant. He repeated that: condemn him.

I dunno about all that. I'll have to do some more reading.


I kinda like Kant. Here's something that he said that makes me like him:

"The [practical law] tells us what we have to do, if we wish to become possessed of happiness; the [moral law] dictates how we ought to act, in order to deserve happiness." (Critique of Pure Reason, p 452)


And also:

"All our knowledge begins with sense, proceeds thence to understanding, and ends with reason, beyond which nothing higher can be discovered in the human mind for elaborating the matter of intuition and subjecting it to the highest unity of thought." (Critique of Pure Reason, p 189)

Friday, September 19, 2008

"That's what she said."

Some people that I know use this joke. A lot. Every chance they get, in fact.

There's a book called That's What She Said. [Link] (It's actually a book about poetry or something.)

Steve Carell pretty much beat the joke to death on purpose and ironically because his character on the show is awkward and lame. (Here's a collection of Michael Scott's "That's what she said" joke from The Office.)

Here's an amusing wiki about how to be annoying: http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Lame/Dry-Jokes

Here's a video. [Link]


My opinion: the joke sucks. It requires very little thought, if any. I know people who have used this joke so many times that even when it is used cleverly, its humor is just lost in the din of the million other "that's what she said" jokes that were already told that day, and sucked.

Monday, April 21, 2008

E-bay Seller Refuses to Ship Purchased Item

So, I purchased this item. But the seller is now refusing to ship it.

Why? Because I left a negative feedback on his account. The feedback:
Apr-21-08 07:56
I purchased item on Friday morning, but seller waited until Monday to ship it.

* Reply by thriftycellular (Apr-21-08 08:02):
AS STATED, ALL ITEMS SHIP NEXT BUSINESS DAY BEFORE NOON CST!

[Link]

Immediately, thriftycellular retaliated by leaving negative buyer feedback on my account:
The most unreasonable person I've met on eBay in my 6+ years! AVOID!
Seller: thriftycellular ( 11757 [Feedback score is 10,000 to 24,499] )
Apr-21-08 08:00


I also got this message from thriftycellular:
Subject: Message from eBay Member Regarding Item #300217264989
Received: Apr-21-08
From: thriftycellular

Dear Nels,

For the record, the auction clearly stated 'All items ship next business day, MONDAY-FRIDAY'. Please understand that I am human and all orders have to be processed, cleaned, tested and shipped at the same time each day. If time was of the essence, why did you bid on and pay for an item that clearly wasn't going to ship until the next business day which in this case was Monday!? That doesn't make sense! And what's worse is that you took it upon yourself to harm my reputation and hurt my feelings. A simple eBay message expressing your concern or frustration would've been much more productive then leaving nasty feedback. Again, I am human and have been known to bend rules, make exceptions and even bend over backwards for people. Now that my sales are suffering as a result of your public negativity, I have half a mind just to refund your money and refuse to do business with someone like you. I anxiously await your response and sincerely hope we can work something out. Thanks, Dusty

- thriftycellular


My reply:
Dear thriftycellular,

I understand that you are only human. I think we both understand that nobody is perfect. Since this is so, you cannot reasonably expect to retain an unblemished reputation. I have a right to make a record of your failure.

Someone who is so sensitive and defensive should not be in a business that deals with people. Your tone is unapologetic and defensive and this is unacceptable. Your indignation is inappropriate.

Clearly you had plenty of time to ship the item on Friday. If this is not the case, then you obviously need to hire more people to support your operations, or refine your business process. This is your failure.

My time is always essential to me. A simple e-mail explaining the status of the purchase right from the beginning would have prevented this whole situation. Your impersonal assembly-line style of e-baying is repugnant and tacky.

At usps.com, there is no record of the item for the shipping label. You shall complete this transaction, and ship my item forthwith.

- Nels


Dusty seemed dissatisfied with this:
Dear Nels,

This is not my failure, sir. You failed to read the auction, and for some reason you feel as though my terms and way of doing business should not apply to you. I run things the way I know how. Who are you to criticize that? My reputation speaks for itself and oddly enough, my strongest asset according to thousands of others is my quick shipping. Furthermore, how do you know whether or not I had time to ship the item on the day you paid? That's a tad presumptuous don't you think? And even if I could find time, that would've meant changing the 'assembly-line style of ebaying' which has worked very well thus far. Tell me, would you suddenly decide to make an exception out of the blue on a Friday afternoon because someone who calls themselves [Nels] purchased a $40 cell phone and NEVER contacted you? I get payments at all hours. At some point I have to stop shipping. I can't make 101 trips to the post office just because 1 more item sold AFTER I was done shipping for the day. I've dealt with tens of thousands of people personally. I have customers mailing me chocolates and almonds at Christmas. I provide an invaluable service. You don't have to sign a 2 year contract, and 1 more phone is kept off of a landfill. That is why I do what I do. If my tone is unapologetic, it is because in the 6 years I've been doing business on eBay, I have never heard of a more absurd complaint. We are both in Texas. The item would've only taken 1 day to arrive once shipped. It is not the end of the world. Not to mention it's unreasonable to think that all sellers ship the same day you pay. If I had advertised same day shipping, then your complaint would be justified, but I made no guarantees as to when the item would ship. Just as you have the right to voice your unreasonable opinion at my expense, I have the right to refuse doing business with you. Therefore, I am refunding your money and considering this transaction canceled. Please burden someone else with your irrationality.

- thriftycellular


I thought it was only fair to remind Dusty of his obligations:
Dear thriftycellular,

You only have the right to refuse to do business with me before the business is actually transacted. You have already obligated yourself to ship my item by receiving payment for it. You shall ship the item immediately.

- Nels


Undeterred, he decided to proceed:
Dear Nels,

The moment your money was returned to you, I was absolved of any responsibilities regarding this transaction. Please do not tell me what I shall or shall not do forthwith or immediately especially when you are refusing to listen to logic or reasoning. Good luck to you. Any further messages from you will be reported as harassment. Thanks and Goodbye.

- thriftycellular


My final message to Dusty:
Dear thriftycellular,

From e-bay's Seller Non-Performance Policy:
"When a seller lists an item and a buyer purchases it, the seller and buyer have entered into a contract that both members are expected to honor."

I demand that you ship my item now.

- Nels


PayPal sent me these notifications, first:
Your package will be shipped by PayPal MultiOrder Shipping with U.S. Postal Service

Thrifty Cellular used PayPal MultiOrder Shipping with U.S. Postal Service to create a shipping label for your package.

Please note: Tracking information is updated throughout the day, but most data is transmitted in the afternoon or evening. For example, if your Express Mail® package is mailed today at 10:00 a.m., you might not be able to view tracking information until the next day.


And second,
Dear Nels Nelson,

Thrifty Cellular (savadust@hotmail.com) has issued you a full or partial refund for your payment.

Message from merchant:
Good luck with your life. You're going to need it.
----------------------------------------------------------------
Original Payment Details
----------------------------------------------------------------
Date Payment Sent: Apr. 18, 2008
Amount: $45.98 USD


Furthermore, from e-bay.com's Rules for Sellers policy section:
Seller Non-performance – Sellers must honor the transaction contract. Sellers cannot fail to deliver an item for which payment was accepted, significantly misrepresent an item by not meeting the terms and item description outlined in the listing, or refuse to accept payment for an item at the end of a successful sale.

(Emphasis added.)

I'm going to contact my lawyer and file a civil suit tomorrow. Well, I guess not. Maybe I'd have a case, though, if I felt like wasting my time further.

Update: So Mr. Dusty Hagan has filed a mediation case with SquareTrade.com. In Mr. Hagan's case, he demanded that I withdraw my E-Bay negative feedback for the transaction from his seller user account. I responded by filing my own case with SquareTrade.com requesting mediation. I still cannot file a report with E-Bay about his violation of the Seller Non-performance Policy yet due to their requisite 10-day waiting period.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Mac OS X Sucks

(And So Does The MacBook Pro)

Stuff I would change about the Mac OS X and the MacBook Pro

    Quickly, let me give some relevant background. My first computer was a Macintosh that my dad bought back in 1984. Was MacPaint's lasso-command-option-drag maneuver the coolest ever? The first program I ever wrote was on that beige box -- a submarine shooting game in Basic in the back of an issue of 3-2-1 Contact. Dad spent a hell of a lot of money over the years for accessories, external drives, repairs, etc. He didn't buy a new computer until 1989.
Original 1984 Macintosh desktop

    Flash-forward to today. My boss gave me a hand-me-down MacBook Pro after a co-worker moved on to greener pastures. This thing has to be my favorite computer.
    And yet, it still has many flaws. Why is it that this Mac's defects infuriate me so? Perhaps it is because except for these problems, the computer is otherwise a perfect machine -- suited precisely for my use and full incorporation into my day-to-day life -- that these flaws become glaring and obvious.
    These faults are as red and raw boils on the otherwise healthy body of bliss gotten from owning a perfect machine.
    Fortunately, Apple's apparent interest in multi-touch and maybe even gesture-based interfaces suggests that some of these concerns could be made irrelevant. But this is now, and I don't hear a red ball. Genuine gesture-interfaces (where a computer can accurately discern between a gesture to zoom into an image and miming the playing of the world's smallest violin) are still a few years away.

Keyboard layout
The keyboard layout of the MacBook Pro is foolish. In fact, it simply is the worst keyboard I've ever used. Even Sun's Type 5(c) and Type 6 workstation keyboards were more intuitive.
    Why do I loathe this light-bright keyboard so much? Well, for starters, there are no Home, End, Page Up, or Page Down keys. Fanboys will surely protest: "Just hold down the Command (⌘) or Apple () key, and use the arrow keys!"
    NO! This is not the same and you know it. I am a programmer, so text navigation is _crucial_ for me. Writing custom regular expressions to find/replace stuff when I need to perform repetitive edits is not the easiest thing to do. Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to assembly-line-style edit dozens of lines of text when I have to keep briefly hold down the Command key and the right or left arrow key in order to get back to the beginning or end of the next line after a quick edit in a sequence of similar edits.
    On that note, where is the freaking key for forward delete? Well, there's a Delete key, that is used for backspacing, but it isn't called Backspace. No Backspace?? What the hell? So, Apple decides that the Backspace key was incorrectly named, and just decides that Delete is better? Sniff, sniff, what's that disgusting smell? It smells like... crack!? Someone's smoking crack.
    Next up, why are there two Enter keys on this keyboard? Two keys, that do exactly the same thing, no more than 1 inch apart from each other. This makes no sense, when there could be at least another Alt/option key here. I mean, since like, 30% of all key-combination shortcuts use the option key, it would make sense to make the Apple/Command-Alt/option-some-alphabetic-key combination as accessible as possible. (This especially makes sense for lefties.) But no. There has to be two Enter keys on this keyboard. There just has to be. One is not enough. Even though millions of other keyboards have only one, this one must have two. Don't put two keys to make deletions easier. No. One key for deleting forwards and another key for deleting backwards is just too useful. Two enter keys makes so much more sense.
    What will I complain about next? The Fn key. Why has it been swapped with the Ctrl key? To provoke and infuriate Windows users who have opened their minds and given Macs a trial, I can only suppose. The Ctrl key is always the bottom-left-most key. What whack study claimed this was more ergonomic?
    Almost done, but I just have to ask: Why the hell is the Eject button a key?? A key?? Really? Give me a freaking button on the front of the computer next to the disc slot that will simply eject a disc even when the power is off, and that'll be fine with me, thanks. An Eject *key*. I scoff at the idea. How stupid.
    Finally, I'll just say this. Examine this image, Apple.
http://www.notebooks.com/wp-content/uploads/vaioszkeyboard.jpg

    Sony gets it right. That is the perfect keyboard. Wonderful. Brilliant. Exquisite, even. Not a key out of place.
    Admittedly, I don't know where Apple would put their confounded Apple/Command key. Maybe they could swap out the Windows Start Menu key for their Apple/Command key, and switch its position with the Alt key, tacking the word "option" onto the "Alt" key, of course, just to be perfectly clear that sometimes replacing the name of something is okay (Delete instead of Backspace) but sometimes just pulling new synonyms out of nowhere is okay too.

Key function mappings
Even if Apple gave us a standardized keyboard, their system-wide key mappings would still have to be fixed. Apple, please explain to me, why the Fn-Left Arrow key combination (for Home) and the Fn-Right Arrow key combination (for End) are mapped to a view-port function that scrolls to the top and bottom of a document, respectively? This makes no sense, whatsoever. You suck, Apple.

The trackpad button
Give. Me. Another. Button. Seriously, why is there only one button? One is simply not enough. There is no analog for a middle-click. Stupid, stupid, stupid. It makes me angry just thinking about it. This super-idiotic single-mouse button idea very nearly cripples power-users.

The menu bar
The Mac operating system's menu bar is simply bad design. Every other modern operating system I know of keeps the menu bar containing application menus attached to the main window of the application. Why? What is the benefit of this? Well, the answer to this is not instantly obvious, until you want to use two monitors. If I chain my monitors in Mac OS X, the menu bar gets positioned at the top of one of the monitors -- the one you specify as the main monitor. This means that if I want to use an application on the secondary monitor, and I want to say, I dunno, mouse execute any menu item command without a key-combo shortcut, I have to actually mouse over to an _entirely other monitor_ to get to the menu. What?! This is just plain *stupidity*. Horrible design. This is simply the worst, dumbest, and most arrogant mistake I've ever seen in a modern operating system, period.

Window frame grabbing and resizing
I should be able to grab the corners (all four), the sides, the top, or the bottom of any window and resize it. All modern operating systems support this. The absence of this feature seems to be part of the legacy of MacOS 1-9, the window resizing capabilities of which also sucked.


Rationalize window hiding/showing min/maximization
There should be some way to single-click minimize any window, and also single-click maximize that same window without moving the cursor at all.

iChat buddy lists arrangement
The user should be able to arrange their buddy lists however they see fit. I personally would love to have my buddies from all chat protocols on one big list. I should be able to organize them however I choose: alphabetically by first name; by last name; by network; by e-mail address; hell, by birthday; or any combination thereof.

Text drag-and-drop in TextEdit
Type, type, type... select, drag... scroll?? Why can't I drag this dang text out of this freaking document? No reason. I just can't.

Program interfaces are not uniform
Despite Apple's hard push of their interface best practices onto developers through the Apple Human Interface Guidelines, applications on the Mac often elude expectation and intuition. The differences in the behavior of common interface components between programs (both third-party and Apple) are too many to enumerate.


More to come, I'm sure...

Sunday, February 03, 2008

This bad press is definitely good

This 5-star spoiling amateur review of Jonny Greenwood's soundtrack for There Will Be Blood on Amazon.com by user Shamus Holt is succinct, and accurate. At least, in the same way "awful" is accurate. (The Merriam-Webster definition of awful, anyway.)

[Link]

Were it not for the tic tacs comment, the 1-star rating would have been ironic. I was already thinking about purchasing the CD, but after reading "...death searching for a friend", I was sold.

Thursday, January 24, 2008