Archive for April, 2006

Why are people afraid of saying "I don’t know.."

April 29, 2006

Omegamom weighs in on being an ‘Angry Agnostic’ in response to an article by Rabbi Gellman who’s trying to understand ‘Angry Atheists’. A great passionate post.

Since the birth of my daughter I’ve found myself in the midst of these issues with my family (both close and extended) more and more often. At the risk of being simplistic, I find it difficult to understand how people can know exactly what they believe in without even a hint of skepticism or curiosity.

Just look at what we now understand about the sciences compared to even 10 years ago nevermind 100. If you told people 100 years ago that we would be able to modify the genetic makeup of organisms, or prevent or cure diseases, or wipeout an entire city with a single weapon, they’d never have believed it. The quest to discover things is vital to the progress of our civilization. Why do people think that this path of discovery is somehow detrimental to spirituality or morality or our future? It could be that in another 100 years we will discover the creator of everything, or we might discover that there isn’t one. The thing that drives me is the quest to discover these things not some specific final result that I’m betting my life on.

As far as morality is concerned, I think that’s a function of society. It’s largely a self-righting ship. Sure it drifts this way and that, but it still slowly but surely moves onward. Did organized religion play a part in my morality? No, my parents did. It might have played a part in theirs of course. But I’ve met enough morally inept people both religious and non, to see no discernible pattern.

Why are people so afraid to say “I don’t know.” or perhaps “We don’t know.” when it comes to explaining their universe and all that comes with it? Can we not function perfectly well in the meantime? heh heh.. I don’t know….

A Sentence

April 29, 2006

A recent meme (see also Omegamom, Kent and Brad):

The instructions are:

  1. Grab the nearest book.
  2. Open it to page 161.
  3. Find the fifth sentence.
  4. Post the text of the sentence along with these instructions.
  5. Don’t search around and look for the coolest book you can find. Do what’s actually next to you.

Here’s the line:

” In other words, try to handle the nipple by the outside edges.”

Boy oh boy….let me explain this one… πŸ˜‰

It’s the venerable Dr. Spock’s Baby and Child Care by Benjamin Spock, M.D., and Michael B. Rothenberg, M.D. (6th edition), given to me by my mom. And it’s describing how to prepare a formula bottle.

This is one book that I’ve kept around for the last 4 years (since my daughter was born) in order to expand my understanding of child rearing. It’s actually come in quite handy at times and I’ve learned a lot of (very very important) things from it. As a reference I love the way it’s written – very sparing of superfluous words and descriptions and so plain and simple. Also funny is the fact that it was featured in one of my all time favourite films “Raising Arizona“.

Zefrank has found it…

April 29, 2006

Dave Winer points to ‘the show with zefrank‘. Absolutely entertaining. There are some people in this world who are just born to do something special. zefrank has found it. Smart, snarky, hyper-energetic, and wonderful. In this dawning age of do-it-yourself multimedia we will see so many more of these talented people popping out of the woodwork in the coming years. I can’t wait.

Spammity Spammmm..spam spam spam spam…

April 28, 2006

I noticed a few spam emails getting through and arriving in my Gmail inbox this afternoon. They seem to be so few and far between for me that even a couple getting through is quite noticeable. After checking my spam folder it turns out that I’ve received about 2 dozen in the last two days compared with 2 that arrived at the beginning of April. I’m not sure what I’ve done to suddenly become a target. And these are all the same type, one line subject, an attached file (which doesn’t appear in the email – just the paperclip icon) and nothing much in the body of the email. It’s been a while since I provided my gmail address for anything.. I’ll have to check and see.
Maybe buying those penis enlargement pills wasn’t such a good idea.. πŸ˜‰

My New Favourite Expression…

April 20, 2006

My new favourite expression, courtesy of OmegaMom:

“Like putting a sweater on an Octopus”

Such a simple phrase that immediately builds a mental picture. So useful in so many situations. Thanks OmegaMom.

My Dirty Little Secret

April 20, 2006

Don’t tell anyone, but I’ve traded in my Palm Zire72-as-mp3-player for a couple of blank CD-RW’s. A few months ago I had some temporary charging troubles with my Palm. So in order to satisfy my serious jones for podcasts during my commute, I turned to some blank CD-RW’s lying on a shelf in my basement. I’ve never used these things because they are generally unreliable in the long term for data storage, and they tend not to play well with most cd-players.

Now one smart thing I did do a year and a half ago was upgrade the stereo in my car. I chose to buy an inexpensive Pioneer deck with mp3 capability. So while it can play AM/FM and Audio CD’s, it can also play data CD’s containing mp3 files…hmmm.. interesting…. (It doesn’t have a minijack, so connecting up with a portable mp3 player isn’t practical.)

So while initially approaching it as a clunky solution to a temporary problem, I soon found it to be much more rewarding for a few reasons:

  1. No more earbuds in the car: safer and a lot less annoying – amazing how many times those things fall between the seats!
  2. 700+MB capacity – no more worries about overfilling that wimpy 256MB SD card in the Palm
  3. Much less fiddling with the controls to switch from track to track – this car deck comes with a remote control too – as retarded as that may sound, it is useful.
  4. Much Much Much better sound quality. Did you know that the outro music on Tips From the Top Floor really rocks? It does. Leo Laporte’s voicebox must have been bio-engineered, it’s so damn smooth and rich… Compared to stereo earbuds, playing most of these podcasts at proper volume is a world apart.
  5. The display on my car deck is also infinitely more readable than that on the Palm when driving.

Are there drawbacks? Sure. The CD-RW’s can wear out or get damaged. I keep 2 discs in daily rotation, and I’ve had to replace one of them. Big whup. Also, the f-fwd and rewind controls are not as convenient as on the Palm. The rate at which it skips ahead or rewinds is dependent on the size of the mp3 file or it’s bitrate or something…In any case it makes skipping past Steve Gillmor’s Earthlink and GoDaddy ads slightly more annoying but worthwhile nonetheless πŸ˜‰

So there you have it. I’m an anachronism of sorts I guess. But don’t count out CD-RW’s if you find most of your listening happening in the car – like almost all of mine is. Of course you’ll have to make sure you have a car deck capable of mp3 playback (many new cars have this) or you can buy a cheap mp3 capable deck like the one I bought to replace your own.

A mere mortal sneaks onto the Gillmor Gang…

April 20, 2006

Changeups are sometimes nice. If you’ve been eating toast and jam for 3 weeks straight, a bowl of Special K can interject quite nicely on the palate. Such is the feeling I got listening to the most recent Gillmor Gang with Hugh Macleod (cartoonist/tailor) from gapingvoid.com. While it’s nice to listen in on the musings of I.T.’s elite thinkers, you begin to lose perspective after a while. Having Hugh on was a breath of fresh air. Of course it didn’t take long before he was bombarded with enough monetizing schemes to choke a maggot. But it was refreshing to hear someone who wants to share his views but NOT pontificate, someone who DOESN’T have it all figured out and isn’t afraid to admit it. Let’s hope it’s not so long until the gang allows another mere mortal to take a seat at the table.

Notable quote:

“I always agree with everything Doc ever has to say, and I always will and that’s just me, and if you don’t like it, I don’t care.” – Hugh Macleod

Design Notes of a Python Newbie

April 7, 2006

I’ve decided to embark on a programming project once again. I’m going to try and develop a small suite of simple structural engineering tools using Python. This time I’ve created a new blog called ‘Design-Notes‘ which will hopefully document the process and keep me focused on the task over the longer haul. Should be interesting… for me anyway πŸ˜‰

Well it’s about time…

April 4, 2006

Take this one to heart all you monetizing podcasters….

“…podcasting is not about professionals behind microphones, it’s about people with ideas and something to say…”

Matt Dattilo talking about Podcast for Good.

The Paid For Pill? April Fools?

April 1, 2006

I’m a big fan of ‘The Bitterest Pill’ podcast by Dan Klass. I relate to it, I enjoy it, it makes me smile. So today I read this post by Dan that he’s changing to a paid subscription model. On his previous podcast he complained that a disgruntled listener thought he might be too busy out monetizing his podcast, a fact which Dan flatly denied – he was too busy being ‘up to his ass in laundry’.

So is he going to a paid model? I hope not.
Is it April Fools? I hope so.
Will I remain a listener if he goes paid subscription? Probably not.

I also notice Steve Gillmor pimping GoDaddy along with Earthlink these days on his podcasts. To each his own, but please Steve, trying to relate a personal anecdote about switching to GoDaddy for 5 or 6 minutes at the beginning of the show is a real pain. I hope they’re paying you well for it, because it only took me 2 times to get completely annoyed. With all this talk of attention, you’re forcing me to place mine immediately 5 minutes ahead with the ffwd button each time.