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February 26, 2004

I thought Republicans were for small government?

cloudy, chance of sun breaks... | Redefining Marriage

Paul is on about the rabid defenders of marriage, and their sudden discovery that marriage is only intended for procreation. Paul suggests the only logical conclusion is the establishment of a learner’s permit for those desiring the marriage penalty, until they prove they can have kids.

The whole question seems so incredibly simple to me: Get government out of the marriage business altogether. The Republicans should be pleased with that; they want government out of emissions controls, the Internet, meat inspections, and business regulation, so why should marriage be any different? Only churches should be able to perform a marriage ceremony. The legal benefits of that ceremony? They should be utterly and completely zero (of course, your friends and family can still give you gifts).

If you want the legal benefits of spousehood, we’ve got a legally binding contract for a civil union or commitment ceremony, fully endorsed and recognized by the federal and state governments. It’s open to two adults of any combination, and really smart chimpanzees (if they have a voting record).

The right-wingers suggest that homosexuals are trying to get special treatment, but that’s 100 percent backwards. The special treatment has been the entwining of government and religious marriage for hundreds of years. With my small modifications, churches can marry or not marry anyone they please. Perhaps it would become a status symbol to have a “private wedding,” as it is to send kids to private school, or maybe the wealthy would have “private weddings” to avoid expensive divorces.

No reason my tax dollars should go to support a religious institution, particularly one that’s apparently so hidebound and exclusive. I mistakenly thought the government’s role in marriage was all about promoting lifelong commitment, building stable families, and encouraging tax revenues (spouses being better able to afford a mortgage).

And yes, Christy and I were married by a magistrate, so my money is where my mouth is on this one.

February 26, 2004 in Seen browsing | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 25, 2004

Whoever wins, I keel. I musta have the Gaya.

LILEKS (James) The Institute of Official Cheer :: Stagworld

James Lileks has posted a preview of the newest member of his Institute of Official Cheer series, and it’s Stagworld, casting a critical eye on the stag mags of the ’50s and ’60s.

Stagworld joins a growing roster of Official Cheer exhibits, including the one that started it all, the Gallery of Regrettable Food.

If you can read any of these without laughing out loud, you can risk reading them at work. But I doubt it...

February 25, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 24, 2004

What's your favorite Mac game?

IMG Feature | The 20 Mac Games that Mattered Most

I like games, but I really don't play that much. There were times when I was in college, or working in the lab, that I played more, and many of those wasted hours are recalled by this list compiled by InsideMacGames.com.

Notable omissions? Crystal Quest, Apache Strike, ...

February 24, 2004 in Apple - Software | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

February 23, 2004

Inside the iPod mini

iPoding.com | iPod mini Dissection

iPoding.com offers a look at the new iPod mini in pieces, including the tiny, tiny 4-gig MicroDrive from Hitachi (formerly IBM).

One of the developers here bought one Friday night, and is pleased so far. It’s certainly a nice little package, and has the same sort of heft as the original iPod, suggesting that This is a Quality Product.

The buttons aren’t backlit (the display still is). One factor I haven’t seen anyone talk about is the display size: It forces the text to be pretty small, which might be a factor for some buyers.

February 23, 2004 in Apple - iPod, Seen browsing | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 12, 2004

TypePad six months in

I first posted a public weblog entry into TypePad July 6, 2003, in an attempt to parlay my top Google ranking for “Tour de France update” into an experiment: What would it be like to set up a single-issue weblog that was updated very frequently? The appearance of the TypePad beta program meant I could experiment with a new site and a new hosting service all at once, so I signed up.

I wrote a review of my TypePad experiences in August 2003. To sum up, I compared it to OS X: powerful, reliable, and easy-to-use. Now, after six months with the product, I might update that to: “It’s like OS X, if there were no Terminal access available.” Most of the frustrations that I’ve had result from TypePad’s streamlined interface, which doesn’t offer a method to get “under the hood” to customize the service.

The service has been very reliable. I’ve never been unable to load my weblog, although there have been two or three times when I couldn't get to the control interface, and TypePad reported that they were maintaining the service. I don’t generate a lot of traffic, but I’ve had a spike recently, and they’ve had no trouble handling it, and my billing plan looks like it will more than handle the additional traffic without racking up additional charges.

Statistics are still fairly lacking. You get an instantaneous dashboard, displaying your hits in the last hour, the last day, this week, and for all time. But it‘s hard to tell what a “day” is; right now (Sunday night, Feb. 8th) my stats have 3286 hits today. About 24 hours ago, they were showing more than 4000 for that “Today” and about 24 hours before that, they were showing about 3300. Yet my hits for “This week” show 7025 hits, less than the sum of the days.

Also, that “Today” number would require about 130 hits per hour, but I've checked stats three or four times today, and the “In the last hour:” number has never been above 100. Maybe I had some heavy peak traffic that didn't correspond to when I was checking, but I would feel a lot more confident if I could audit my own logs. And I had a 58-minute gap in my logs recently, when TypePad reported no visittors or referers, but my home server was still serving quite a few graphics requested by “blogs.com” pages.

There’s no way to use MT-plugins, which are available to do hundreds of different things.

There’s (as far as I can tell) no way to delete, or manage, individual files once you’ve uploaded them. Presumably, deleting an entire weblog or photo album deletes all its files, but otherwise, what goes in, stays in. It’s easy to justify this with “If you publish it, it should stay published,” but it’s another measure of control lost.

Once you switch to advanced templates, you're on your own for syndication. I had working Atom templates for as long as I used the basic templates, but when I upgraded, I lost them. On the other hand, I can, with some effort, customize my feeds to provide different content via RSS, Atom, or whatever format I like.

Even with all the little irritations, I’m very happy with the service. The pricing is fair, the look is highly customizable but with attractive defaults, there's support for moblogging, and a number of new features aimed at fighting comment spam. I get a fair number of referrals from the "Reccently Updated Weblogs" sidebar many TypePad sites support. With the addition of Google AdSense and Amazon Affiliate links, I can easily justify what TypePad hosting costs.

February 12, 2004 in Reviews, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

An insider's view of Bush National Guard controversy

It’s no secret that I would vote for Reagan, Alzheimer's and all, before I would vote for a second term under G.W. Bush. (Historical note: 12-year-old Frank thought G.H.W. Bush was the best candidate in the 1980 race. I was disgusted when Bush refused to run as his own candidate in '88, instead running as Reagan II).

I'm torn as to whether the controversy over G.W. Bush's military service is a legitimate story or just a sideshow, but I'm following the story with some interest. CalPundit, in particular, is covering the story from almost every angle, and Joshua Micah Marshall is keeping up, as well.

But in reading CalPundit, there were a few comments from someone who spent time in the service as a personnel officer for the Air Force Reserve. Jerry at Milblog has posted why he doesn't believe Bush was AWOL and his analysis of Bush's service points for his May '72-May '73 service year.

I think Jerry is going a little easy on Bush, but his perspective based on his background is valuable. If you're following the story, you'll understand it better after you've read his take.

February 12, 2004 in Current Affairs, Seen browsing | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 10, 2004

Datapoint for new Mac release?

I ordered a new iMac 17" Build-to-order on Thursday, February 5th, from the Apple Store online. It was scheduled to ship in 1-3 days. Today, I was notified that there's been a delay, and the machine is expected to ship “on or before February 17th.”

I can't imagine a reason that the iMac would be backlogged, so you have to wonder if this is one of those holds Apple puts on before new products are announced. I could go to the Apple Store and pick one up immediately, without the customization, but now, I'm intrigued. Will we get a new model instead of what I ordered? Only time will tell.

Update 2/11/04: Literally 8 minutes after I posted this, I got notified that the computer has shipped. If it arrives with a G5 onboard, you’ll be the first to know, but I don’t hold out hope.

February 10, 2004 in Apple - Desktops, Apple - General | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 08, 2004

Funky OS X screensaver problem

I’ve periodically seen a strange error on awakening the PowerBook from sleep. The screensaver’s login box appears, I enter my information, submit it, and the screen goes black. It’s not entirely black, however — the cursor is still visible.

If I put the machine back to sleep with the power button and ‘s’, I can repeat it ad infinitum. If there’s a second user on the machine, I can log in as them when the login window appears, and they get a full, graphical session, but switching back to the original user lands me in the black hole again.

I’ve finally discovered a workaround: login to the machine from a second box, and kill "/System/Library/CoreServices/loginwindow.app/Contents/MacOS/loginwindow console....". Doing so logs out the current user and generates a new login window, so it’s only slightly better than my previous solution, shutdown -r now.

Next goal: find a way to get just the window manager to restart, so I don't lose the user session.

February 8, 2004 in Apple - General, Apple - PowerBooks | Permalink | Comments (15)

February 06, 2004

Update and some detail on “Running a Business...”

I'm overwhelmed by the response to my posting on how we're running my new company. It's been linked on a lot of sites that I read all the time, and a few that I'm just discovering, and I appreciate those links.

First, a few clarifications: Nobody would consider us an ‘enterprise’ — we've got seven employees or in-house contractors at the moment. On the other hand, that means we work with a lot more outside partners, on construction, manufacturing, and transit operations, so we rely on the Mac’s ability to read documents from the Windows world and work on them.

Second, some more specifics on what we‘re using:

  • AEC's FastTrack Schedule. Early in MTNI's life cycle, I bought MS Project for the Mac, then (and still) frozen in Version 4.0, which shipped on (8?) floppy disks. It stopped working with OS 9, if I remember correctly, but by then, I had discovered FastTrack, which handles resource management, dependencies, and a whole lot of project management stuff I don't begin to understand.
  • OmniGraffle is a terrific diagramming tool we’ve used for network diagrams, station sketches, and other drawing tasks.
  • As I mentioned previously, we still use Office for the Mac for office apps.
  • I use Entourage X for e-mail, mostly so I can use Softhing's Entourage E-mail Archive X, which I use to archive my e-mail out to FileMaker Pro. Everyone else is using Apple’s Mail.
  • Microsoft's Remote Desktop Connection, to (rarely) drive the single XP box from one of our Macs

I’m not going to go into much depth on our server software, but we use Python, PostGreSQL, and Apache, and build from there.

We’ve experimented with MovableType for a group weblog, but it hasn't taken off yet. I’m also intrigued by the capabilities of VoodooPad, and am considering building one or more project wikis with it.

February 6, 2004 in Apple, Apple - General, General computing, Work | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 04, 2004

Why I may be in the market for an iPod mini

I own a Rio 500 (and there's a perfect link for 5 Years Ago in Wired: “It took about 27 minutes to encode 24 songs at the default rate of 128 kbps. But for some reason it missed most of one track.”). Christy has started using it for workouts, but she's gotten to the point where she doesn’t like updating it, since it’s a slow process, and the player doesn’t hold much music.

That got me to thinking. Every song she’s interested in would easily fit in the new iPod mini, with space left over. Once her machine is running OS X, she could share my purchased music from the iTunes Music Store. And she would probably prefer it to the bigger, blander, white iPod.

Of course, I could just as sensibly swap her my 1st-generation 5-gig iPod, and get a bigger iPod for myself, but that would be like buying her a new bicycle that’s — hey! just my size. Unfortunately, the minis aren’t shipping in time for Valentine’s Day.

One of the guys at work is eyeing the iPod mini, as well; again, it’s more than big enough for his whole collection, and he thinks it would be less of a bother when he runs with it.

February 4, 2004 in Apple - General, Apple - iPod | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack