11 October 2016

US presidential election 2016

The past several years I have made an effort to stay out of politics. I don’t agree with the stance that we have a responsibility to participate in politics. One of the benefits of freedom is that we have the freedom to ignore politics, which can greatly improve your quality of life. Now, it is true that, when I’m not participating, I can’t complain about the outcomes. (Well, I have the freedom to complain. I just don’t have the moral right to.)

And even when I was involved, I generally held the policy of not saying who I voted for. You could often guess based on what I said, but I didn’t think I needed to proclaim it.

This presidential election, however, is different. Not only do I feel I must vote, I also feel like I should take a public stand. Not in an effort to convince anyone to vote the way I am but merely because it feels like taking a stand is warranted.

Trump has made it very clear that he doesn’t know or care about the principles upon which civilization operates. What’s more, I’m not convinced that he would listen to advisors, whether good or bad.

During the 2008 primaries, at the local caucus, I saw first hand the dirty tricks that the Clinton camp will use. I have little respect for her. But I do believe she has a firm understanding of the underpinnings of civilization and a vested interest in preserving it.

I am past the time when I was idealistic enough to support a third party candidate. The biggest problem in Federal politics (prior to Trump’s nomination) is that the two major parties look more like each other than like the electorate. The system doesn’t incentivize the parties to be more representative of the electorate. Since only the people in power could reform the system, and since it is rigged to keep them in power, it is hard to see a time when the system will be reformed to make third parties viable so that our parties might better represent us. The best we can hope for is for a third party to replace one of the major two, but then we’ll just be right back in the same boat.

The system means that—for all my life—my vote for president hasn’t counted. My state, being winner-takes-all, always ends up going 100% Republican no matter how many people vote Democratic or third party. The fact that the Republican nominee is so unfit, however, means that this may be the first time in my lifetime that my vote for president might actually count. So, I’m voting for president this year, and I’m voting for Clinton.

15 June 2016

Windows NT 4: A high point

Microsoft Windows NT 4 was a good system. It wasn’t a great system. It had plenty of flaws. But—at the time—it may have been the best in its class.

Apple was working on a system code-named Copland to replace the aging Mac OS as a transition to Gershwin, which would supposedly be a real modern, personal-computer OS. But it was a quagmire that would eventually be scrapped.

Linux wasn’t quite old enough...yet. Some people will say “Desktop Linux” is perpetually two years away, but it was good enough to serve as my primary system for the years between Windows NT and when I switched to Mac OS X.

(Apologies to the OS/2 fans, in particular. I never had much experience with it. And no doubt there are other contenders that I’m forgetting. But it was programming for Mac and Windows that was paying my bills. Linux was the only venture away from them I had time for.)

Windows NT 4 had the basic OS services—virtual memory, memory protection, and preëmptive multitasking—that personal computers were finally ready for and needed. It had a UI that borrowed some of the goodness of NeXTSTEP by way of Windows 95. It was sufficiently compatible with older DOS and 16-bit Windows software. (At least for my needs.) And, most importantly, I found myself more productive using it than I was on my Mac.

By the time Windows 2000 came out, I’d moved on to Linux. So, I can’t speak much to when things really started getting worse for Windows.

Sidebar: It seemed ironic how so many Mac people ended up on Linux during Apple’s dark years. On the face of it, at least, the two couldn’t seem to be farther apart. Completely open and customizable versus completely closed and curated. One that promises to let you do anything with it as long as you spend the time and effort; one that strives towards “it just works” provided that you want to do exactly what it wants you to do.

Microsoft today is so different. They’re no longer on top, and that means they’re doing some really great things. (And Apple is pulling Microsoft-style moves.) Yet they’re still doing a lot of silly things. And I wonder if Windows can ever again be even as good as it was with NT 4. Should I leave the Mac again, I can’t imagine it would be for a future version of Windows. Most likely it will be Linux again, if not some upstart that doesn’t exist yet.

14 April 2016

Dear Apple: Stop nagging me! (for the 2nd time)

This is the feedback I’ve sent Apple. If you feel the same way, please let them know it.

Stop nagging me about iOS updates. Now.

This is something Apple should never have done. I should not have had to say this once. Yet here I am saying it a second time.

Add a “Don’t remind me” option, or get rid of the notification altogether.

Just stop it. Now.

22 February 2016

Logo unification

New Logo(s) for Jetbrains

How can you take a good logo (if you had one) and make it boring? Create a dozen different logos that look nearly the same.

Having a common theme among product logos isn’t a bad idea, but making them this similar is a bad idea. It was a bad idea when Adobe did it. It was a bad idea when Microsoft did it.

Software companies should stop doing that.

21 February 2016

What’s the more important message?

I find it academically interesting to read things like “Mark and Divine Christology?

But the question of whether Jesus was wholly God or wholly man or wholly both or wholly neither... That’s all academic to me. I can’t understand why it is anything more than that to anyone.

My own personal credo says nothing about the divinity of the Jesus.

If you honestly study the scriptures, you will find that they do not necessarily agree on this matter. (Perhaps they don’t necessarily disagree either, but...again: Academic.)

What is the more important message? The one that is more mixed or the one that is more consistent?

What is the more important message? That Jesus was divine or that we should love our enemies?

What is the more important message? That we should stone certain offenders or that we should not judge others lest we be judged ourselves?

What would Jesus say?

20 February 2016

On movie audio commentary

Movie audio commentary tracks have so much promise, but I don’t think any of the ones I’ve listened to have delivered. Sure, we get some interesting anecdotes and behind-the-scenes discussion, but nothing that wouldn’t have been better and more effectively delivered in a simple interview or other format.

19 February 2016

Thoughts upon watching Star Wars: Episode I

After seeing Episode VII, we rewatched the previous films. Some thoughts...

There may be spoilers for Episodes I through VI below! ...but none for Episode VII.

Episode I: Arguably, Episode I should either never have been made or should have been a very different movie from the others. Contrary to the movie serial conceit, the backstory for an action-adventure may not, itself, be an action-adventure. And this isn’t just an action-adventure but a mythic action-adventure. But here it is anyway...

(If it were a movie serial, Episodes I to III would be about the same characters as Episodes IV to VI. Was there ever a generational movie serial? Flash Gordon certainly wasn’t. You could imagine prior adventures for Leia and Han. Maybe Biggs too. Even Luke could have some minor “Young Indy” adventures on Tatooine. But a serial that followed the adventures of several separate heroes who meet up in Episode IV would be just as unusual.)

We now have Tatooine garb unequivocally becoming the Jedi uniform. This is emblematic. The first film was intended to be “Flash Gordon done right”. With a believable “used future” aesthetic. Here, this film completely contradicts that aesthetic.

Including C-3P0 and R2-D2 is, likewise, is trying to please the audience in the laziest of ways.

This film has been defended as being intended for kids. Which is pointless. A good kids movie has to be a good movie. Being for kids is defense for nothing.

Watching it again, this film does feels strongly like it was made for kids, and that is always a bad thing. Good kids movies don’t feel like they’ve been made for kids.

Furthermore, reflecting on seeing Episode IV when I was eight, it seems completely pointless to make a movie in the same series for kids.

I think a lot of criticism of this film unfairly expects it to be more like Episodes IV, V, and VI. It is a different time with different characters and different events. We already had Episodes IV, V, and VI; no need to repeat them.

The problem is that so little of what is new here is compelling. And the stuff that isn’t new isn’t used in the way that made it work the first time.

The first time I saw this movie, it was my job to make sure that the web site my company was building had no single point of failure. The idea that a droid army should have a single point of failure was—and still is—completely unbelievable. No amount of willingness will suspend it. Not to mention that a kid—no matter how strongly the Force may be with him—would stumble upon that single point of failure that professional fighter pilots wouldn’t find.

And I haven’t even mentioned the J-word.

At the moment I have nothing good to say about this movie.

We later checked out the “no cheese” edit on YouTube. It is amazing how much better it is. Still not good, but so much better.