This is not a blog. So sue me!

Crikey, things are looking up!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Steel Junk rig schooner Pilger

This file is hereby released into the public domain by its author, Don Taylor. This applies worldwide. Don Taylor grants anyone the right to use this work for any purpose, without any conditions, unless such conditions are required by law.

Avast behind!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Does a free market inevitably bring slavery?

I came across some interesting writings recently. Julian Edney, a psychology professor in California has written a number of very interesting articles, collectively called Greed. They are very well-researched, calm, rational arguments against our present North American societal conditions.

A quotation from Greed III:

The free market system, which generates great wealth, is running on a clutter of bizarre contradictions. Our nation is touted as a nation of abundance, yet it is a nation in which scarcities are common, and man-made, because scarcity creates value. It is a nation united, and the country is cleft. Everybody benefits from America’s business, but the poor are paying the price of the success at the top. It is a nation founded on the notion of happiness, and anxiety abounds. A nation in which teamwork is urged and individual competition is urged. A nation which ships out surplus food, and has hungry people. It is a nation which touts itself as cultured and humane, in which ruthlessness and winning is openly prized. In a nation which claims to be given over to democracy, half the working population spends its days in business workplaces which are dreaded little dictatorships.

Compared with our bright founding papers, this is a foul outcome.

The greatest casualty is justice. The nation now runs less on justice than on wealth.

There are a couple of other parts to the essay. Greed Part I and Part II.

In my opinion these are important and worth reading.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Why people are interesting

This list of quotes contained some thought-provoking ideas, including this:
"Someone walking down the street with absolutely no scars or calluses would look pretty odd. I suspect having a conversation with someone who'd never taken any emotional or mental damage would be even odder. The line between "experience" and "damage" is pretty thin."
-- Aliza, from the Open-Source Wish Project
Does anyone truly want to be completely healed?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

XO laptop: first test

This entry is being typed from the OLPC XO laptop that we just received - it's very nice. First impressions are very positive. Since it comes with no instructions, I decided to just fool around with it and see how far I got.

The interface and operation is quite natural, I like the keyboard a lot. It has positive feedback when you click a key, which is nicer than the Internet tablet-type machines I have where the keys are just screen images. The mouse pointer/buttons thing is slightly different from my other mousepads (which allow you to click by tapping on the mousepad, you are not forced to use the buttons) but that's OK. It will take a bit of time to get fast with it, but it is a real computer.

Booting up takes a little time, but a lot less than Windows. No surprise there.

The absolutely great things are the media handling programs.

"Record" camera/video/audio recording stuff just worked...really nice.

"Paint" does what you imagine it might. Maybe more...moving on...

"TamTamJam" The music creation program just made me giggle with delight at the point where I worked out how to put a loop on cricket noises. The animal noises are fantastic! All the instruments you can think of, plus many other sounds can be used with the keyboard to make music. I guess it can record sound also, but I was too busy making the fart sounds with the foghorn to get to that point. All the programming is visual; drag an element onto the screen then click to activate it. Play notes based on that sound on the keyboard (not being a musician I am a bit vague on the mapping of the qwerty keyboard to a clavier). Drag a loop onto the sound. The add in shortcut keys to cue the loop. Only complaint is that the speakers do not go up to 11. It's a tiny bit louder with headphones, but I guess we are not trying to destroy the hearing of the next generation.

"TamTamEdit" - I opened up the this, and it is clearly some kind of sound editing program, but I couldn't do much except play the recording that was there when I started. More study required.

"TamTamMini" is really, really fun. Simpler to user than the TamTamJam, it's for creating music, you set up a beat, then click on a matrix of images (or use keys) to make the appropriate sounds. Scrolling through the sounds on the grid gives some really great effects. More giggles.

There are some interesting programming applications:

The "TurtleArt" application is interesting it teaches programming, with a visual (or largely visual) language. The various operations are represented by coloured tiles, with name labels and value tags. For example: Forward, 100. You drag the tiles and they click together to make a visual representation of the program. You can modify the values. The program drives a little turtle around on the screen and it draws a trace. I've only played with it for 30 mins, but already I can make the turtle do tricks...hee,hee!

"Pippy" seems to be a Python programming development interface (I can hardly call it an IDE) that, well, runs Python. However there are a lot of examples given to illustrate most of the concepts, and they are simple and they work. This bears more study later on.

"Terminal" is exactly that, the Linux command line. Yay! I remember this stuff...long ago and far has to be at least 6 years since I worked on Unix. Wonder if I have root permissions?

"Acoustic Tape Measure" - it looks like if you have 2 of these things they can tell how far apart they are. Well I don't have the nearest guy seems to be 80kms away.

Perhaps it's been too long since I played on a computer. All serious stuff with documents and programs, building and testing. All on Windows :-( I guess this is what Fake Steve means by "a sense of childlike wonder." Chortle! I'm having fun!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

How to find a mate

Apropos of not much, I found this post about the 237 reasons people have sex on the Daily Irrelevant. 237? Is that all?

One comment mentioned that dating self-help guru David DeAngelo advises men to be annoying in order to attract women. Apparently nice guys and wussies don't rate. He's right about one thing though: a sense of humour is important. Unfortunately I don't think it can be taught by buying this guy's product. Although the YouTube samples are unexpectedly hilarious with some bizarre and suitably nerdish research-type psychologist showing graphs of menstrual cycles and lots of earnest lonely lads 'fessing that they're changed by the experience of shelling out $2500 for a 3-day course learning how to charm the birds from the trees.

A quote:
Recently, Men's Health interviewed hundreds of men, who while lying on their deathbeds, were surveyed about their biggest regrets in life. Some said "I wish I made more money." Some said "I wish I traveled more."

To my astonishment, but hardly a surprise, the number one regret that men face right before their final departure in life, is "I wish I had slept with more women."
Well, perhaps no surprise there, but the question of what kind of person would systematically poll dying men for their biggest regrets is not asked.

There was this creepy promise though:
Discover how to interpret anything a woman says as an indication of interest.
Er...hello? Did I misunderstand?

"Please give me 500 grams of sliced kielbasa."
"Oh, you just want it don't you, you horny little slut!"


Of course hope is what is being sold here and there's an almost infinite demand for that. Look at the cosmetics or hair care industries. Huge sales of shampoo to make one more attractive. It's a gold mine! Billions of dollars for the taking.

When I was a lot younger, during the late Paleolithic, there were huge sales in chemical attractants, from musk to pheromones. Guaranteed results, or your money back. (The question of who would declare himself a dating failure by sending the product back never seemed to arise.)

And there's more, of course. You can pay a mere $1200 to have yer DNA matched to find your perfect partner. A miracle of technology!

For $0*, I can tell you the secret to attracting a mate:
  • Be nice
  • Be cheeky
  • Be clever
  • Be playful
  • Be humourous
  • Be interesting
  • Be mildly disinterested
Or, disregarding all of this:
  • Be rich
I can't tell you how to be these things. All in the eyes of the beholder. And keeping that person interested in you is yet another complete set of books and DVDs.

Perhaps you should pay for a pick-up coach to tell you how to find a mate. Alternatively, buy some shampoo; the real stuff stinks**.

* and as usual you get what you pay for.
** Stolen joke alert!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Passing values between Flash AS2 and JSP/HTML

We often use a Flash movie embedded in a JSP page to do something like make a nice dynamic report with media server features, for example.

To pass information to the Flash movie, there are several options:
1. Pass it in the movie load invocation: thing.swf?param1=value1 etc
2. Pick up the values you want from Javascript functions on the host page.
3. Collect the values you want from the server directly - send a request for xml data (for example) from the Flash movie, without reloading the page.

To pass information back out of the Flash movie:
Call a page Javascript function to set a value in the form
Send a post of data back to the server directly out of Flash.

(In preparation)


St Lawrence Rowing

Test content from SLRC