Thursday, June 30, 2005

The Water Balloon Launcer

Incidentally, if you are looking for the best launcher you can buy, I would suggest checking out the Balloon Bazooka Magnum Model which I am ordering today. I'll let you know if it rules or not when I get it..

Search Engine

Why is there no better search engine than Google out there yet? Before Google my favorite SE was Alta-Vista which actually searched pages by words on the page. It had a huge database of pages, the most at the time and it was incredibly fast at doing queries.

Obviously AV had problems with people putting invisible meta data into their pages so Google came along and said, well, our search will rate pages on the users percieved utility by seeing how many links others give to the page. So for example, if there were 2 web sites that sold water balloon launchers, the one with the most links from others would be considered the more popular and therefore a better result.

This was cool for a while, but I'm not sure people link to other pages on their web sites as much as they used to. There are barely any "home page"s on the net any more and personal link collections, its all blogs and commercial pages. As such, I can't find a damn thing with Google any more.

As I see it, Google has 2 problems, one is that its base algorhythm is flawed (unless it has changed) and second, it doesn't seem to search text anymore. As an example, this post is about search engines and Google in particular. If you were to type into a google search box something like "As I see it, Google has 2 problems, one is that its base algorhythm is flawed" which is a very specific reference to this very post, it will not come up. Why is this?

I would argue that there are 2 main types of searches people do. The first is the commercial search which I would argue is further speciefied with the following question "Where can I find the best x" or "what is the best x". If I want to buy a wall calendar I don't want a seach to give me 10,000 pages with the words "wall calendar" in them or even 10,000 vendors of wall calendars. I want to buy the best wall calendar. So of all the people in the past year who searched for and purchaced a wall calendar, tell me where they all went to do it. Something like that.

The second seach is one where someone wants to learn about something. This search should be non-commercial, it should look in blogs and in public info archives. So when I search for "search engine commentary" I find a listing of current blog posts and articles on search engines.

Now, I'm being over simplistic here I know, but what I'm getting at is this: The net is huge and contains almost certainly the answer to any given question a person could have about anything. The problem is that x% of those people don't find anything close to a usable answer because there is no tool that has been developed for them to find that answer. The tools that exist are archaic and useless. Some may disagree with me, but I would guess that x = 80 and it should be something on the lines of 10-20.

IF someone builds this tool, they will be in instant billionaire. So fucking get to work dammit! I need to find this damn water balloon launcher.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

ads ads and more ads

Damn.. I've added a bunch of crap to my sidebar. I am doing it in an attempt to gain readers. But, I won'd want to loose the ones I have so if you find that loading this blog takes a long time, let me know and I'll start pairing down stuff. If it's no bother, then cool...

Movies

I was reading in "The Week" today about the fact that Hollywood is concerned that people aren't going to the movies as much as they used to. Apparently (says the New York Times) sales have declined for 17 weeks strait.

There are lots of opinions on the matter. In an AOL poll apparently 73% of americans prefer to watch movies at home. Well, I agree. A while back I posted about how going to the theatre sucks and I can't imagine that others don't feel the same way. But the reasl reason that people are slowing down is that movies on average suck and we've figured out that the studios marketing machines promote them with no truth at all.

We figured out that the studios time releases to happen every week so they can claim that their new movie was the "top grossing film!" that week. Well, if it's the only new one, of course it will be. We've figured out that a review can be totally scoured and edited to say anything they want it to : "It's amazing that this crap made it to the screen!" = "Amazing!".

Just make good movies and make the experience better and may we will come back. No matter how nice a home theatre is, there is nothing better than a 60' wide screen and 5000 watts of sound and an audience that feels the way you do experiencing something new along with you.

Oakenfold

Well, I wanted to let you all know that Paul Oakenfold is playing a show in Philadelphia on July 16. It's at Emerald City on 2nd and Spring Garden. There are only 1000 tix and I bought 4 of them. You can get tix at 611 Records or at www.groovetickets.com.

If you don't know who Paul Oakenfold is, he's considered the greatest Trance DJ alive and islike Bob Dylan in Europe. I suggest you buy his "Perfecto Presents Another World" CD as an intro.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Flickr

I didn't realize what flickr was until I spent some time surfing along looking at peoples photos.. it's quite addictive..

Live 8 - part 2

See this article? Yea, one more reason to fear this concert.

Though I can't believe anywhere near 1M people are going to show up. I'd guess more like 200,000. We'll see..

Survey

Found time to do a survey about blogging for MIT. Seems they are trying to correlate blogging with making online friends.. something that I have just barely done. Which isn't really true since when I had my last few blogs (here and here and even here) I had generated a number of online aquaintances.. for some reason I've got like 10 readers on this one.. I'm guessing since this one is far less interesting and doesn't reveal much about my personal life.

See my first post on this blog to explain a bit as to why I've not put personal info here, but i guess by revealing my other blogs, I've jsut let it all out of the bag.. Now you have photos and names and all that jazz. The problem is that I really feel I should be able to post what I want and all should be well. We'll see if I have to move again to hide from someone.

Anyway, the survey is here for all you bloggers that haven't taken it:

Take the MIT Weblog Survey

Friday, June 24, 2005

Wilco

Went to the Wilco show at Festival Pier yesterday. I'm a big fan of the band and the show was quite good in the sound and performance department but I wasn't really blown away like when I saw Radiohead or Aerosmith or any of the other "incredible live" bands. Wilco was billed to me as being really great live and to be honest I wasn't too impressed. Jeff Treedy was pretty good though and personable, but I wasn't as impressed as I thought I'd be.

Nonetheless a great show and I had a really good time so I'm glad I went

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Update

Hey.. been quiet lately and I'll tell you why. I've been spending most of my time (other than work) building my new pc and moving my software and files over to it from the mac.

A couple of things to know on the software side: 1) Quicken for mac does not move over to the PC very easily and even then it requires a ton of work. Not cool. 2) email from apple mail to outlook or outlook express, forgetaboutit. 3) iCal and address book over to outlook. not sure yet, still trying to get that one to work.

So essentially, moving my important data back to the pc is not going well. Fortunately I have all my old files from when I moved to the mac in the first place so I've moved back to them and given up on the 3 months of data from my mac days. Quicken is easy to update since I have all the statements, email is another story though I only will loose a tiny bit since I've been keeping stuff on my pop servers for the past 2 months in preperation.

Hardware: so far, I love my new pc. I bought a new case for my old mb and a new power supply and vid card as well. The case is the new Antec P180 which was engineered with 3 qualities in mind: silence (evidenced by its huge 120mm 3 speed fans and rubber hd mounts and) and cooling (again see the fans, wind tunnels and vid card cooling baffles) and ease of installation (very nice sliding HD mounts and other cool features). The case rocks.

I tried to buy the new Antec Phantom 500 Power supply, but its too new and I can't find it in stock anywhere. I settled (and glad I did) on the ePower Lion EP-450P5-L1 which so far has prooved amazingly silent. It has passive cooling and also a fan that will kick in variably whenver the load gets up over 300W. So far I've never heard it.

Video card was a Gigabyte GeForce 6600 GT card. The 6600 is just about as good as the 6800 but 1/2 the price. A great deal and it runs my games quite well. I sold my $500 top of the line ATI card when I bought the mac and in general I tend to like nVidia stuff better so I'm happy there.

Oh I forgot to mention my favorite new part. I was going for a quiet pc (and I so far succeeded since I can't hear a thing from this box) so I wanted to replace the intel fan on the CPU since it is massivly loud. I ended up buying the biggest most insane fan/heat sink unit from zalman. It's a CNPS7700-ALCU and you can see a photo here. It is amazing. The fan barly spins and the CPU has so far kept quite cool. It's the best $40 I've ever spent on a pc build.

Ok, back to organizing my email.. Talk to you soon.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Live 8

Let me just go on record as stating that I think the concert on July 2 is a bad idea. First off, the original stated goal of the concert was to forgive African Debt (which I don't agree with) and that has already been realized. Secondly, Philadelphia gains nothing from hosting the concert yet has all kinds of headaches. Driving around the city will be hell, the cost to the taxpayers is huge (when the money could be better spent on libraries, fire houses, schools, etc.), and who knows what kind of problems we will encounter with 1M + crazy 50 cent fans running around all day. Not to mention that the lineup is really crappy.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Typical and sad

I've complained a bunch about this over the years, and it's sad to see that it still is a problem. Why can't we properly teach sex to children? Why is sex education such a huge issue? Here is an article from the Washington Post that tells us what we already know: Children are having sex and the ones who aren't are talking about it all the time and we still refulse to teach them about it. How sad is it that we have so many teen age pregnancies? We should have 0.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Sex offences

I'm as against sex offenders as the next guy, but how is this (http://www.nbc10.com/news/4622956/detail.html?rss=phi&psp=news) not entrapment? I see this all the time as peoples lives are ruined by investigators who pose as young kids on the internet and then have conversations with "offenders". I don't know about you all, but I will gladly admit that I've had cybersex and corresponded via email with people who I didn't exactly know. In those cases, it could have been an FBI agent pretending to be someone and then I'd go to jail or at least be publicly labled a sex offender.

I bet the guy in the story had all good intentions and maybe threw in some innuendo but then I can guarantee that the emails from the girl (read : the investigaotr posing as the girl) ended up steering him in the direction of interest. And even though, who is to say that this guy would have gone through with anything in reality? Perhaps it was just fantasy, and what is wrong with that? Would I hook up with someone underage? Uh.. no fucking way. Would I think about it? Perhaps build a fantasy or two around it? Maybe. Does that make me a criminal? In todays America it just may.

Friday, June 17, 2005

profile

For those of you dying to contact me, I've added my email address to my profile..

Thursday, June 16, 2005

The new Ad

For those of you who keep track, I've changed the site a tiny bit. At the bottom of the sidebar I've added an advertisement. I did it in hopes to generate some traffic (and readers) to the blog. Its a link exchange kind of deal, supposivly by putting this up, I get free exposure on other blogs and will generate traffic. Of course I will be monitoring this to see. I'm not a big fan of advertising at all, especially blind (non-targetted) ads, but this one isn't too obtrusive and so far it seems like an ok trade.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

TMBG

For those of you who may like them, They Might Be Giants are playing a free concert at Penns Landing on July 23.. I think I'm going, I haven't seen them live yet..

Monday, June 13, 2005

Where do I sign up?

http://www.freekatie.net/

Michael is found Not Guilty!

need I say more?

anyway, here is something that you may find quite enjoyable...

The TSA

You just have to read this short artice from slate the other day. It talks about what we already know.. that the TSA and the current airline screening process is a bunch of useless time-wasting processes that do nothing to protect us, while doing everything to inconvenience us. All so GWB can say that things are safer now.

Just take as an example how we have to show ID when we get to the checkpoint. Have you ever wondered about this? Who is this protecting? How hard is it for even a low-rent terrorist to obtain a fake ID? Or how about the fact that nail files are confiscated while some types of plastique still don't show up at all during scans? (examples courtisy of "The Week" June 17 issue).

Duh

Global Warming

Well, its finally good to hear that almost everyone agrees that Global Warming is not science fiction and is actually science fact. Now if only the US would sign the beautiful, elegant, really cool, really helpful, really reponsible Kyoto Treaty (can you tell I'm a big fan of it?).

Global Warming is REAL! We need to address this issue in America. Though I really don't care since I'm not having any kids...

American Ignorance

So, you've all seen those yellow ribbons on the cars. I've thought about these a whole lot and I've come to the conclusion that in most cases, the people who have them on their cars don't realize what they actually mean. The text on the ribbons say "Support our Troops" so I think that most people believe that the stickers mean "Support the Iraq War" since obviously, that's where the troops are. This theory is bolstered by the fact that most of these cars have “W” stickers or big American Flag stickers along with the ribbons.

The best one I saw was a ribbon that looked like all the others except in the center where there is usually an oval cutout, it was cut out in the shape of a cross. How sweet.

It’s incredible. Does anyone realize that the yellow ribbon is a reference to the song "Tie a yellow ribbon" which essentially means "I'm coming home"? This obviously is saying “unlike Vietnam, we support your work and know its your job to follow orders and fight over there, but we want you home now since this war is really unjustified and useless. We don’t want you to die in vain”.. but I guess I’m the only one that sees that.

I’ve wanted for a long time to put an anti Iraq war sticker or an anti-Bush Administration sticker of some kind on my car. But, I haven’t for 3 reasons. First, and most importantly, I value my privacy and don’t need confrontations (or at worst, I don’t need to be beaten up). I would be labeled “un-American” or “un-Democratic” or something like that. I’ve already been called all kinds of things by people for stuff I’ve said or written about how upset I am with the current Stalinist government we have. The second reason is that I don’t want my sticker to be misunderstood. I didn’t want the Iraq war and I want the troops back home preparing to fight real threats like N. Korea. I want to put a yellow ribbon on my car, but everyone will misinterpret it. The last reason is simple, I haven’t found a sticker that sums up how I feel.

I want to say something like “You dumb fucks, you’re supporting bringing home the troops with that yellow ribbon.. don’t you get it?”. Or I want to say something like “Being an American and living in a democratic society means that I’m supposed to speak up when I don’t agree with stuff”. Or I want an anti Administration sticker of some kind because George Bush isn’t the problem, it’s the people who put him there and are running the government.. He’s just a moronic figurehead with an earpiece connected to Karl Rove.

I better be careful talking about the president. I don’t want the Secret Service visiting me. I saw this thing the other day about this guy who said something like “I’d love to go to DC an show him what a real man is” in a personal email to a friend and a month later the SS was at his door interrogating him.. How sad.. Privacy? Ha. But I digress…

So, the other day I finally saw it.. Right on the back of a big SUV interestingly enough.. but anyway, there it was, a black ribbon saying “Support our troops, Bring them home!”. Ahh. Finally. So I found the sticker and a few other cool ones at a website that claims to be a source for “liberal bumper stickers”. It’s sad that the black ribbon is considered a liberal sticker.. why isn’t it just an American sticker. I bet a ton of the parents of soldiers who are most likely Republicans would like a sticker like this one.. Sad that it all comes down to this liberal/conservative democratic/republican thing.. I mean, I’m probably the most conservative anti-bush democrat you will ever meet. Welfare? Unions? Social Aid? Yea right..

Anyway, again I digress.. The website is at carryabigsticker.com, and I’m buying the black ribbon and a sticker with the famous Howard Zinn quote “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism” and I’m putting them on my car. I will let you know if a) I get beat up or b) get rammed in some way. If the SS visits me I may not be able to report anything to you since they probably won’t let me. So, if I disappear, you know where I am…

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

damn

I miss my old blog.. at it's peak I had like 100+ daily readers. I admit, the content was a bit better since it was more personal, and I publicicized it quite a bit. But still I'd hoped that I could gain readers and comments by just posting and waiting. No such luck so far. My daily average is about 8.

Making the blog a lot less personal was a concious decision since I had that crazy stalking incident and I could have gotten a bunch more readers had I linked my old blogs here, but I just had to sever the ties..

So anyway, I know this blog is a bit boring, but still I want to be read so I'm asking you, my 8 readers to kindly send a friend my way. I promise I'll be nice..

Oooh.. better yet, how about tell two friends and then they can tell two friends, and so on, and so on.. and if you know that reference then I'm quite impressed.. Although it's so old I can only remember that line and the image from the commercial and I've forgotten the actual product.. maybeline?

Ah.. whatever..

Maybe I should spice things up a bit and talk about my sex life.. sex sells.. nah.. can't do it.. sorry..

The nice Internet

I was just reading a story in the Inquirer about spyware and adware. I've barely been hit with this stuff since I'm really careful and aware when I'm browsing the web or using freeware. But I've got lots of friends who have been inundated with crap on their computers. I would argue that most net users are not like me and are more like my mom in their understanding of their computers (and by extension the Internet). And that's totally cool. You don't need to understand a thing about your cars mechanics to be able to drive it and you shouldn't need to know a thing about programming or computers to get info from the web.

On the other hand, the problem lies in the fact that there is no clear distinction made between getting and processing information and customizing ones computer. Unlike a car, a computer is easily customized. You may want a new screen saver or a cool mouse pointer graphic or some cool sounds, etc. So a computer user is given all kinds of ways to customize. Using the car metaphor, this is like having my mom go into Pep Boys and buying a new exhaust system and installing it into her car.

On a computer, installation of software has become quite easy and in some ways it has become automatic. This is what makes spyware, adware and viruses so prevalent. Is this a good thing? Well, yes actually it is. Your computer is not a television or a car, it’s a totally different appliance. By it’s very nature, it requires a different way of dealing with it. It is complex and it needs to be made easy to use for the masses.

So what is the solution? Well, I’ve said before that Microsoft and Apple have really missed the boat when it comes to OS design. My theory is that there should be two versions of every operating system. Because there are two classes of computer users. There are power users, people who don’t need system files to be “hidden” for their protection for example. And there are regular users, people who don’t care or even understand the need for system files. But, that’s another post. Let’s just assume we’re in the craptacular middle ground OS mode.. which we are.

My solution to the adware, spyware, virus and spam problem is quite simple and for the life of me I can’t figure out why nobody is implementing it. What we need is a new Internet. Let me explain.

The Internet as it is is quite an amazing beast. It is far more complex than most users imagine. Most users only know the web and email. There are far more applications that can work over the Internet, but everything has been shoehorned into the web interface so we the masses would have a simple to understand interface to the net. As a developer, this makes my job really hard since the rules that the web browsers use are severely kludge like and are a total headache. The rules had to be adapted over time to be backwards compatible so when graphics got added to the web (yea, the web was only text at one point) and input forms and encryption and secure transactions were created, things started to get messy. The same goes for email. It was originally designed to work in a small trusted society where everyone knew each other. There were no attachments, no html, just plain text email messages.

But the net has grown and changed and now it has become much more than originally intended. It was the great design in the beginning that enabled it to change so much so easily. But it is showing signs of decay. In my opinion the largest problem with the Internet the way it is is the concept of Identity – it is pretty much impossible to know that someone is who he says he is on the Internet. This problem is what allows spam to occur, it’s what allows people to install spyware and adware on your computers and not get penalized for it, and it’s what allows viruses to exist. Nobody is accountable. Think of it in real life terms. If you were in a store and nobody could identify you and you had questionable morals, what would stop you from robbing the place?

Of course there are other problems with the Internet the way it is, the web can use a total overhaul and the domain name system can be improved, and encryption could be added, etc.

Anyway, adding Identity to the Internet is pretty much impossible at this point and any other changes would just be new hacks added on top of old hacks. So I propose we go down to the bottom level of the Internet protocols (TCP/IP) and build two new layers on top of it. First would be a security layer which would positively identify all packets via a new non-spoofable identifier packet using encrypted signature keys. The second layer would be a new application layer with a new web-like application, a new email application and a new API other net apps to use.

I bet the original designers of the Web and Email and the Net have tons of amazing ideas that they would love to implement but can’t since they are wed to the net as it is. If they could start again, I bet they would build us something amazing.

Anyway, this new net, combined with my proposed simple OS for the masses would eliminate (yes I believe total elimination is possible) all the nefarious threats we deal with daily. So start clambering for change. Stop accepting the status-quo.. You really don’t have to.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Audition

I've said it before, but Takashi Miike is one of my favorite directors. I've seen a number of his films. My first was Dead or Alive which totally started my bug for his work. I've gone on and seen a few more of his films when I had chances, but one that slipped by me for a long while was Audition. I wasn't dissapointed when I saw it this afternoon. For those of you who can't handle graphic films, I advise you to skip Miikes work, but for those of you who can handle a little blood, guts and strange shit, I say go see some of his films. Make sure you see Audition though...It was great. But don't take my word for it.. take a look at some of the reviews on imdb...

ps. Audition is a horror film of sorts.. and Dead or Alive is a Yakuza (japanese gangster) flick.

I Wish I was an artist

Ok. I totally found the coolest site of the day. This web tool (also downloadable) is called The Rasterbator. What it does is take any image file and convert it into a large scale rasterized version that you can print out and paste on your wall.

I wish I was an artist so I could use this tool in a cool way. Some of the examples on the web site are really cool..

This is cool

Check out this site with 30 re-enactments of cool movies.. I particularly like the Pulp Fiction one..

http://www.angryalien.com/

I miss NYC

I mean, how cool a hotel is this place?

Actually, the photography is quite cool...

Monday, June 06, 2005

What a retard...

And you know.. politics is just going into the toilet...

http://frymax.typepad.com/longcut/2005/06/photoshopping_i.html

Thursday, June 02, 2005

I hate this fucking mac

So a few days ago, my new (this is my second one..last one died after a couple of weeks...see other posts) mac decided to run one of its fans at high speed.. to achieve silent operation, the mac has control over its fans and it only runs them when needed.. which is basicly never. But this one decided it wanted to run one of its fans all the time. Been back and forth with service and tried all kinds of things to no avail.. except now the fan just runs at full blast every minute or so and then turns off.. so over and over again, all day long the fan fires up for no reason.. ahh..

But the real reason I hate this thing is that I'm getting pains in my mouse hand that I never had in 12 years of pc use. Why? (and I'm serious here) I have to use the mouse way more than with Windows.. Mac forces you to move up to the menu bar all the time and down to the (unuseful) dock to do all kind of simple stuff.. As an example? Say you have 10 windows open at the same time, a few browsers, a word doc, your email program, calendar.. whatever.. on windows, every open window is there on the bar at the bottom of the screen. On the mac, nope.. the dock at the bottom has the open applications listed, but not the windows so to open a window you have to first go to the bottom of the screen to click the app in the dock, and then back up to the top of the screen to the tool bar, click a menu item and then scroll to the window you want. Doesn't seem like much, but think if you were moving stuff from a browser window to a word dock or email and you have to do this process a dozen times, it's 6 clicks and 2 long drags to 2 clicks and one drag for the windows box each time.. so that's 72 clicks and 24 drags versus 24 clicks and 12 drags.. over a typical day, thats a huge amount and I literally have already been to the doctor to look at my hand since it hurts like crazy by the end of the day.

This computer is a total piece of crap and now I'm going to build a new PC and go through the process of moving back to it.. all the hours I wasted moving my address book, calendar, email, quicken, files over to the mac.. wasted energy.. What a fucking scam this piece of crap is.. Oh yea.. then I have to find someone to buy this piece of junk so my $3000 wasn't wasted..

If you are tempted to buy a mac I have some simple advice.. try it for a week before you buy it.. it's shit man

Enron : The Smartest Guys in the Room

Saw the enron movie yesterday. It wasn't bad. Told the story pretty well. Seemed a bit biased, but no documentary is objective anymore is it? I am in agreement that the 3 guys at the top should be jailed, but I took offence to them villifying the energy traders for the things they did in the Califonia energy market. I guess it's my Wharton upbringing but traders are supposed to find arbitrage opportunites and milk them until they run dry. If the California government deregulated with a law that was full of loopholes, it was the markets job to teach them where they went wrong.. Free markets build better envoirnments in the long run if governement stops calling mommy for help all the time and admits mistakes and fixes them.

Dark Tower

So, for once I'm not talking about the Stephen King book series of the same name (Which by the way is one of the best things I've ever read), but a game that preceded the Tower series by a bunch. It was a game that I remember playing in 7th and 8th grade (think 1982-3) with my friends.. It had this cool tower that spun around and mosters to kill. At the time we were (imagine this) way into D&D so this "Electronic" game was the shit to us.. (we also played a fair amount of Electronic Detective).. Anyway, the reason I mention this is that a few weeks ago I thought about the game and wondered weather I could get a copy of it and sure enouh today I found (without looking for) a link to a flash version of the game.. I haven't tried it yet, I was too excited about it and I wanted to let you all know about it right away.. so here it is.. have fun!

http://www.wakefieldfamily.net/darktower/

Podcasts

Those of you who pay close attention to my bloglines links at right may have noticed that I've reciently removed a ton of the podcasts I had listed there. The reason is simple. Podcasts are a lame fad. I may be wrong about this, but it seems to me that all they are are radio shows (often really poorly done radio shows) made into long mp3's. I say BFD. And so they are all gone except for the Daily News one which I keep there for sentimental reasons.. so don't bother with podcasts..