Monday, January 28, 2008

2 Tough Questions (Something to think about)

I just received this as a forward in my email.... I dont always read forwards and I RARELY pass them on but I'm glad I read this one. It kind of puts things in perspective.

"2 Tough Questions"

Question 1:

If you knew a woman who was pregnant, who had 8 kids already, three who
Were deaf, two who were blind, one mentally retarded, and she had
Syphilis, would you recommend that she have an abortion?

Question 2:

It is time to elect a new world leader, and only your vote counts.
Here are the facts about the three candidates. Who would you vote for?

Candidate A
Associates with crooked politicians, and consults with astrologist
He's had two mistresses. He also chain smokes and drinks 8 to 10 martinis a day.

Candidate B
He was kicked out of office twice, sleeps until noon, used opium in
College and drinks a quart of whiskey every evening.

Candidate C
He is a decorated war hero. He's a vegetarian, doesn't smoke, drinks an
Occasional beer and never cheated on his wife. Which of these candidates would be our choice?

Candidate A is Franklin D. Roosevelt
Candidate B is Winston Churchill
Candidate C is Adolph Hitler

And, by the way, on your answer to the abortion question:
If you said YES, you just killed Beethoven.

Pretty interesting isn't it? Makes a person think before judging someone.
Never be afraid to try something new.

Amateurs...built the ark.
Professionals...built the Titanic

Monday, January 21, 2008

Be glad you wrent me today

Its been a while since I blogged about a day in the life of Bob for the most part but I really think I need to recap the events of today.
  1. Sleep in and miss church
  2. Get up to get shower and have no water
  3. Spend time in crawlspace and ourside with outdoor temperatures of 12F
  4. Realize that water line from well is frozen
  5. Go to Target and buy rather large space heater
  6. Spend more time in crawlspace. Thankfully the outdoor temperature has now risen to 16F
  7. After hours I can finally get my shower and head into NoVA to hang out
  8. Come home to find that the pilot light has gone out on my gas log (primary source of heat for my house). House is now at 50F.
  9. Pilot light will not stay lit after the burners turn on so I do some cleaning with the vaccum. As I'm cleaning a mouse runs out from beside the fireplace and scares the shit out of me.
  10. Go out to the kitchen for a drink and find that the mice apparently planned today in advance and decided they would begin my demise by feasting on a bad of garbage I had removed last night but didnt get a chance to take to the dump.
  11. Sit down at the computer for a second and happen to notice the fish in my one 55 gallon tank are quite inactive.
  12. Look closer at that situation and realize the heater has ceased to be -- most likely because it was working overtime dealing with the 50F house.
  13. War officially is declared on the mice and I venture to the gas station to purchase biological weapons of mass destruction
  14. Return home and place bait. Continue to argue with the gas log and finally it concedes and begins heating my house. Fish continue to be in trance-like state since there is nowhere to purchase a heater at this time.

So really.... could anything else possibly happen? I'm quite sure the answer to that question is yet and I am also quite sure that I do not want to ask the question of what it is.

Friday, January 18, 2008

No red cars on my driveway (Net Neutrality)

I just read an article arguing that Akamai is violating net neutrality with their content delivery. The article really is nothing more thatn another example of how those with a stake in the outcome of the debates are trying to skew the description of the problem.

While I can understand the point made it is not accurate to the case with Akamai. When Akamai has a customer they are renting server space just like someone who sets up a hosting account with another company. Essentially, a company doesnt have the facilities to run their own server so they rent part of a server at a location that does have those facilities. When you become a customer of Akamai, you're essentially doing just that but the difference is you're renting multiple locations. Such as a nationwide company purchases office space in multiple states so that people on the east coast don't have to travel to California to see someone in person. Same is true with shipping facilities and company warehouses. And if one of their customers needs to go to an office, they'll go to the closest one. They'll still travel in the same ways and take the same material to the office that they needed to but they'll go to that paticular office based on LOCATION.

This is exactly what Akamai is doing. They are essentially setting up multiple locations of data provided by their customer. Traffic is directed to the closest server based on the location of the source network and not on the content. It is not a manipulation of content which is what those critical of Akamai are infering. It is simply a matter of redirection based on the source and does not differentiate by it being a stream or an HTTP request with the possible exception of the data being stored in a different location.

Think of it this way. Net Neutrality violations would be the local department of transportation saying that no red cars are permitted on a certain road because that would be a discriminatory regulation while saying that tractor trailers aren't permitted on a smaller road would simply be an issue of capacity. Now, as a customer of my ISP, I pay for a certain amount of bandwidth. If I pay for a 3MB connection to the internet, then that is what I deserve the same way if I pay someone to build a driveway to my house I expect to be able to allow anything that I want on that driveway. If the contractor I hired to build my driveway said that they would only allow me to drive blue and yellow cars on that driveway then I'd tell them they were absurd and go somewhere else. Now, at the same time I may be paying for a single lane dirt driveway which would not be suitable for a sports car that I might own. In this scenario, I know what my needs are and I need to contract someone to build me a paved driveway that is compatible with my needs. Also, if I own property between two decent access roads and I decide that I want a driveway bult to both roads I am certainly entitled to do this. In this example I am allowing two entrances to my residence and I will use the one that makes the most sense based on where I am returning from (I'm not going to drive past driveway 1 to get to driveway 2 if I've already payed for both driveways. The same issue holds true with respect to color of the car. I purchased the drive way and if someone building that drive way told me that green cars were not allowed on driveway 1 they would be laughed at.

This is the biggest problem with the net neutrality debate. People quite simply can not determine what is capacity and what is color. When you hire a contractor to build you a driveway you purchase that driveway based on the class of vehicle that you have and not based on the color of vehicle. This is the same when we purchase a connection to the internet. We go to our ISP and tell them that we want to pay them a certain amount of money for a certain amount of bandwidth and our ISP makes that connection. Once that connection is there I should be entitled to the 3MB that I paid for. Having an ISP tell me that I am not able to use P2P applications is exactly like telling me I can't use a red car on my driveway. Additionaly, if you are a contractor that builds driveways and later the person who purchased that driveway carries an illegal substance in his car on that driveway, it is not the responsibility of the company that built the driveway or the manufacturer of the car but the responsibility of the person who was transmitting that illegal substance. If statistics show us that red cars are more likely to be transporting drugs is it fair to then say that all of the roads in a certain jurisdiction are no longer permitted to carry red cars? Again, this is absurd. Not only is it harming those who use red cars legally but it's also not going to solve the issue. In fact, instead of solving the issue we have pushed the problem underground more because now those carrying illegal substances are now making an effort to disguise their transportation vehicle. Interestingly, this is the same thing that is occuring with the internet. Add to the legality debate the issue of the ISP saying they don't have enough capacity. If this is true, how is it the fault of the customer? If all of my neighbors and I use a single road into our neighborhood and that road becomes congested, its not the responsibility of each resident but the responsibility of the developer of the neighborhood and/or the department of transportation. Currently the ISPs are punishing their customers because of a mistake that was made by the ISP (overselling their network). If it comes down to it, the ISP is going to have to raise their rates to support their capacity but currently they are not only raising their rates but they are also making absurd rules to cover their mistakes and to maximize profits because of the unfair advantage they have.

Akamai is not responsible for violating the concept of net neutrality because of their content delivery systems. This is mostly a "gatekeeper" debate and will not be solved until people grasp the concept of what the ISPs are doing rather than listen to the skewed concepts put forth by those ISPs. Resolutions can not be made by people or companies that have a stake in the results and, as such, the ISPs can not be the ones making the final decissions.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

MacWorld Keynote - Disappointing and Scary

Steve Jobs just announced the MacBook Air at Macworld. This is something that I had been looking forward to seeing but now that it's announced, its really nothing that I'm interested in -- in the slightest bit.

In the past year Apple has become obsessed with making thinner and thinner machines. It started with the iMac (seriously, a desktop needs to be super thin?) and now it seems to be the only thing they were really interested in with the MacBook Air. Now, I give it the lightness factor. The weight of a portable device is a concern but the thickness of a machine does not directly affect weight - especially if you're using aluminum. The worst part of the whole announcement is that it's got a 13" screen - same size as the regular MacBook.

The machine is going to have a 1.8" hard drive which simply can not perform like a 2.5 or a 3.5 drive can. They are great drives for iPods but not for computers. My favorite lightweight solution is by far the Fujitsu Lifebook machines which also carry 1.8" hard drives and this is a notable performance decrease. The thing is, the benefits outweigh the disadvantages. With the MacBook Air you still have a machine with the same footprint. Not only is that the case but the machine is thinner and this creates an issue with durability. This is a physics thing, really. The thinner something gets, the less durable it can be. Last I checked, if you're looking for a machine that is lightweight its because you're going to be carrying it with you. This means it will be in various types of bags, will have the chance to fall off numerous tables and chairs, and come in contact with many different people including children. If you can fit all that stuff in something that will fit in an envelope, why not keep it the same thickness and move it down to a 10" form factor and still have the same weight while adding a 2.5" hard drive back in. That's portability and a little more durable.

Among other announcements was the Time Capsule. This is basically an Airport with a built in hard drive. Ok, its a decent idea but the question that comes to my mind is why did the ability to talk to remote disks disappear from Time Machine. According to Apple it was because of instability. Sadly, we believed them. Now they announce that it will work with their new Time Capsule but not for other disks. How does this not work over wired ethernet with other computers but it works fine with apple's disk over wireless? If your talking about data integrity (which Apple was) then you're definately more solid on a wired connection. It really has the taste of "hey thats great that time machine can do that but let's cripple it so we can sell a device later".

I have to admit I do like the announcements regarding iTunes and AppleTV. I think there is potential there. I'm not at the point of buying an AppleTV but with my ever-growing hatred for Comcast, I am keeping my eyes open to alternatives.

Overall, this day has been very sad for me. What I have somewhat feared is starting to show it's face and I hope that it gets put back under the consumer's control. Apple has shown examples of Microsoft-like practices. These tactics aren't what rebuilt Apple into what it is today and, while it's not going to immediately hurt them, it will start building animosity towards a company that will later be in control of everything and have the average consumer trapped.

I like Apple... I'm sticking with OSX... I just think I'm going to keep an active eye on what's going on from here on out.

Singles Awareness Day 08

Well, it seems the thought of that evil holiday that rolls around in February is starting to creep up so its about time for me to roll out the decorations.

Happy Singles Awareness Day

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Conservativism = Excuse to not think?

I was raised in a family who always had conservative views and, naturally, many of those views I still embrace. Being someone who truly believes in conservative values always embraced the Reupublican party because of their support of things like pro-life and other conservative views. In the past year or two, my views have drastically changed and I now have to say I support the democrat party more than the republican - by a long shot.

This doesn't mean that I think we need to stop protecting the unborn but I do certainly believe that we need to be A LOT less militant about it. I'm also sick of the conservative values that the Republican party pushes to be nothing more than a cover-up to some other extremely disgusting things that are happening. The Republican party is becoming the party that produces the "preacher's kid" syndrome in it's followers. While the Democratic party has similar effects (as does ANY organization), there seems to be a huge emphasis on it in the republican party -- almost as if there is a secret agenda (do some research on AT&T conspiring with the NSA and President Bush signing an executive order to stop any investigation - Start Here).

There has always been this epidemic in polotics that people just do as their told. People sign on to a party and they just go in and pull the lever for their party rather than actually thinking about what is going on. The problem we have now is that we are all becoming more and more "mentally lazy". We don't want to have to think about something because it's so much easier for someone else to tell us what to do and we let people tell us what to do until it's too late to fight back. We're relinquished many rights just by standing still because we were too lazy to fight (and we're about to see is happen again if people don't start standing up for Net Neutrality). All of us just listen to what our parents, our churches, and our political parties say. We obey. And ultimately, a few key people just changed the course of history by using each one of us as drones. We've become slaves to the afforemention beings. There is a huge need to respect our parents, our churches, our leaders, and even our own political parties but this is NOT an excuse to go brain dead and let all of them brainwash us.

We have become so mentally numb in things that we pass around emails that completely damage someone or something with points that are nothing more than fiction. We allow people to be damaged because we pass around a single email that was probably written by a single person. We become just as responsible as the person who wrote that email - responsible for destroying someone's life and career. The most recent example of this is an email circulating that claims Obama is an anti-American muslim. This email even references that has confirmed this to be fact and plays on the fact that no one checks the facts before telling others about it. Because we are so brain dead (by choice), we dont even bother to notice contradictions in the email we read (such as a father who left when a child was only 2 can't really be that instrumental in raising a child according to a specific religion) and we become a drone to someone who wrote a fantasy email about the way he or she wants things to play out. Judging by the way the republican party has responded to numerous things, do you really think it's that far fetched that a die-hard conservative sat down and dreamed up these lies to attack someone who might really be a threat to them... yes, to THEM... not neccesarily to our nation. Political parties are not about what is best for our nation but whats best for the wallets of those running the parties.

It is true that we live in a country that we have the ability to choose our leaders but because we have all become lazy, we are forfeiting that right. We are allowing people who have self-interest tell us what is best for us. When a company lists us a reason why we should use their product rather than their competitor isn't it a good idea to evaluate both products instead of just listening to the one company? Of course they are going to tell us their product is great and their competitors is bad because they want us to by their product because that is the only way they make money. Maybe we've matured enough to realize the absurdity of political television ads but now we're allowing ourselves to be the medium that lies are spread -- simply because we don't want to spend a tiny bit of time looking into the reality of the situation we're about to take a stance on. I don't know anyone that would take the stage and explain to everyone what the string theory is all about because few of us even know -- but yet we're willing to take the stand for someone who wrote an email whom we've not only met but we don't even know his or her name.

People continually tell others that you have no right to complain about the state of our country if you don't vote but if you're also the one spreading lies and doing only what you are told to do, well, you have no right to complain either. When we're stuck in a dictatorship and we're all complaining about it, it's really just going to be on our heads because we sent out false facts in emails damaging someone for being racial muslim when the reality of the situation is that he has many roots in Christianity. Maybe because instead of actually changing the way you handle emails that you forward on you just stop forwarding them to the people that are actually going to check the facts and make you feel bad and forward only to those that will continue the "chain of drones".

P.S. - I really am not intending on making anyone feel bad but this is something that I am very serious about and I think others need to be serious about. We're not talking about passing on an email that says the weather is going to be 90F rather than 60F but, instead, we're talking about passing on lies that very well could damage the chances of hope for our country. I'm not saying which canidate is the solution but I am saying that we need to look into things a little bit more before we spread lies that could damage someone that may well be the best thing for our country.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Still need more "proof" about Twitter's impact?

Washington Post: How Frozen Peas Started a Movement

Not more than an hour ago, The Washinton Post put this story online that is running in tomorrow's Loudoun Extra. The situation with @susanreynolds and her struggle with breast cancer and The Frozen Pea Fund is now gaining huge media attention.

I am extremely proud to be part of such an amazing community of people. The Frozen Pea Fund has now raised more than $7,000 to aid in The American Cancer Society's efforts to fight breast cancer. In addition to that money, there is now well over $1,000 raised for the husband of @ashPEAmama who now has to raise 2 children on his own after her tragic death yesterday. Can you imagine in less than a month a community of people, who share one thing in common (twitter users) and are misunderstood by many as to why they want to share so much of their lives to the public, have raised more than $8,000. These are just regular people -- people who care about their fellow "tweeters".

Blogstipation and other associated words

Blogstipation = Having things to write that you can not get started on or continue. Can be either a physical limitation (having no time) or a psychological condition similar to writer's block.

This is the opposite of Blogorreah; the inability to stop writing whether it be based on interesting facts or unsubstantiated babbel.

There is also inblogestion; the occurance of sickness after writing something that you realize was not all that pleasant.

Thanks @ninjapoodles and @mousewords

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The world loses a tweeter (@ashPEAmama)

I am a strong believer that anything bad can bring at least some good. While it doesnt make the bad any easier, at least we can be happy for something good.

This morning the Twitter community lost @ashPEAmama to a vehicle accident. I never got the chance to follow Ashley but I saw many of the people that I followed mention her name in a lot of thoughtful tweets. There obviously was more to her than "just another person". I wish that I would have had a chance to get to know her more but I'm sure she made her impact in the world where she was meant to.

I still constantly hear people question the purpose of Twitter. People don't understand it and they really dont seem to want to understand it but, to me, Twitter is a strong community that pulls together in many different scenarios. Just last month we saw the birth of The Frozen Pea Fund which is a cause to raise money for breast cancer. The reference of this came from one of the most beloved tweeters in the D.C. area, @susanreynolds.

Aside from these drastic stories that (rightfully) take the spotlight, the Twitter community is a source of encouragement for everyone's day to day life. There is constant joking around with friends (some that we know personally and some that we only know on Twitter) and mixed in with that joking is the serious conversations about politics, the world, technology, the weather..... and how everyone is feeling. Just a couple weeks ago my good friend @linuxchic's song had broken his nose. She received many tweets asking if he was ok. And appreciation rarely goes unnoticed. She has another good example of the twitter community on her blog about video games.

If you think all of this isn't enough, there is the ever popular storey of @LAFD Los Angeles Fire Department who used Twitter to communicate information about the Wildfires and has continued using the technology for crisis management.

My heart truly does go out to the family of @ashPEAmama and to those who became close with her on Twitter. There is always a reason that things happen and there are ways that we can honor Ashley and there are things that her life and death will be used as a testimony to others. I am, again, amazed at how the Twitter community genuinely cares about their followers.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

When will innovation stop meaning "copy"

I just got done watching the last part of Microsoft's keynote from CES and I have to say that I was not impressed. While to many people it may seem that they are doing things that are "new" I did not see a single thing that was new. Well, I will give them the Ford Sync thing except the only thing new there is putting a few technologies together in a single package -- everything that it does could have been accomplished for at least the last couple years.

They went over a lot of stuff about Media Center and it irritated me just like any other DVR company. Even Echostar (a company that I really like) annoys me with their advertising of their "new" features they keep adding to their DVR systems. Open source technology has been doing all of the stuff these companies are doing and more for many years. And it's not really that I want to be critical about them adopting new ideas into their product but what I think is unfair is the statements that are made that they are the only one doing this and that the entire idea was from their company. MythTV can do just about everything Media Center or TiVo can do and it can do a hell of a lot more as well. MythBuntu has made the set up of MythTV just as easy as Media Center (and from some of the horror stories I've heard about Media Center, probably easier).

Then there's the Zune social. This especially irritates me. The entire concept and design is completely a rip off of Last.FM. Last.FM currently runs on many different platforms and is open source so that you can integrate it into virtually anything. I get exceptionally upset when companies try to make something proprietary that is something you want to be centralized. If you want to keep a log of all of the music you listen to and have a system make recommendations for you then you want that system to know what you listen to on every device. If you have a Zune, sure it will work for you..... but what about other devices? What about other software? Other computers? Unless Microsoft sees a profit in making a client for device x, we'll never be able to see it. If you really want to welcome me to the social, then please welcome me with the devices that I have

This post really isn't meant to be a "bash Microsoft" post but I'm really tired of any company that says they are innovators but all they do is copy the ideas of someone else and publish them as their own. It's really more of an example of where our society has gone. We no longer respect people for what they do out of the goodness of their heart or because they really enjoy it. For you to be honored you usually have to accept honor in making money. If you're not in it for the money then you are an outcast of society -- well, at least corporate america right now. People in the open source community create because they want to fill a void or because they enjoy doing it and that passion shows through in the finalized product. Same is true with those that volunteer. It seems that if you're doing it because you want to and not because you're in it for some selfish gain then your motives are questioned and people start looking for what you're trying to gain -- they can't just trust you that you really want to help.

I really do wish people would start looking at everything in life as being part of a team. The long term solution is to help one another and not be in it just for yourself. We all need to give credit where credit is due. Our society can go so much further if we just follow this simple policies.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year

Well 2008 is here and the apple dropped at midnight without issue here in Winchester!

Again, I pray God blesses all of you in 2008. As for me, the only thing I care about is getting to my car for some heat! :)