Sunday, November 20, 2011

Leaving the Collective

In my previous posting I complained that Lisa is part of the Apple collective.  She has (had) an iPhone 3GS.  The day after my previous posting, her phone slid off a stack of papers and the screen shattered (I honestly had nothing to do with it).  Quality workmanship.  If you don't believe me do a video search on repairing iPhone screens.  There are a ton of them.  I've never broken a phone screen and my phone even fell out of my pocket while running through a paved parking lot once.  My daughter has an iPhone 3G (her mom got it for her).  She's broken the screen 3 times.  It's currently broken again, but I have gotten tired of paying to get it repaired.

The difficulty in leaving "The Apple Collective" is directly related to the amount of money you've spent on electronics that are part of the collective.  It seems to me that there should be a whole host of companies producing electronics to help you leave the collective.  There aren't.  Apple must have a whole team of lawyers writing up patents to prevent people from leaving the collective.

Like that little funky cable that doesn't follow any open standards.  I'd like to reverse engineer it and then create adapters allowing people to keep their investments while leaving the collective.

I recently read Benjamin Franklin's autobiography.  It's a quick read and free to download.  One of the things he said, in a round about way, is that he did things to make it easier on his fellow man.  He didn't patent anything.  It's relatively well known that he invented the Franklin Stove, but afterwards he went overseas on a political mission only to come back home and see that businesses had sprung up manufacturing and selling his stove.  But that was okay because he wanted people to use the idea to make their lives more comfortable.

We've become such a capitalistic money loving society that we don't try to help anyone for free any more.

Linux is open source.  It's helped tons of people.  If you don't want to send Microsoft $100+ for a new OS for your new PC, you can download and install multiple flavors of Linux for free and still be able to surf the Internet, play games, write documents, etc.  All the things you expect to do on a PC are available with a free OS.

Android is a mobile OS built around Linux.  It's also open to some extent.  I've heard that starting with Honeycomb there may be some limitations.  But, because of its openness, a variety of manufacturers can take it and modify it to create a unique experience on their devices.

Lisa left the collective in favor of the new Samsung Galaxy S II SkyRocket.  They really need to work on creating easier names.  Why not just call it the Skyrocket?  Anyway, it's a nice phone.  Blows away the iPhone in almost (if not) all categories.

However, it doesn't (can't) support that stupid proprietary interface that Apple created and patented.  So even though it's a better phone, Lisa still has misgivings because in her joining of the collective she purchased an $800 car stereo which is iCrap friendly.  It supports the iCable.  I've been kind of looking for adapters for making the transition less painful, but there aren't a whole lot to choose from.  The optimum one would be a Bluetooth adapter so that an Android phone could access the iCable wirelessly via Bluetooth.

What I've about decided is that she's going to have to buy an iPod with WiFi to leave hooked up in her car and then use wireless tethering on her new phone so that the iPod can access the Internet and run apps like Pandora.  It's like quitting smoking with a nicotine patch.

I just wanted to express my heartfelt thanks to Apple for creating products that don't work with anything else.

Friday, November 11, 2011

I Can't Talk to Her Anymore

I think it's no secret that I've never owned anything made by Apple.  When I first started programming computers back in the late 70's, I first started programming on an Apple II, but it wasn't mine.  I've never owned an Apple.

Apple products, to me, are equivalent to going to a 5 star restaurant where you can get an absolutely flawless four course meal.  But, without any substitutions.

When you are spending $100's of dollars on some bit of technology this ends up being the same 4 course meal every day until you upgrade to something else.  It's like joining the collective.  Suddenly all of your choices are made for you by some guy at Apple Computers.  Wait!  Maybe that's why Americans vote Republican.  That was like a mid-blog epiphany.  Sorry about that.

I'm a fan of options.  Variety is the spice of life.  I build my own computers and I run Microsoft Windows or Unix on all of them.  Ironically, the Macintosh Operating System is just a pretty wrapper on top of Unix that prevents options.  I wonder what the current break down is of Operating Systems on PC's.  What percentage are running some flavor of Unix versus some flavor of MS Windows?

Lisa has an iPhone.  It's her only character flaw.  When we went on our last cruise, her iPhone gave the dreaded "Connect to iTunes" error which basically meant her phone wasn't going to work until she made it back home to connect it to her laptop.  So much for mobility.

Now she's upgraded to iOS 5.  Her phone battery lasts maybe 4 hours so if I'm going to do any communicating it must be between 9 & 1.  After that, it's dead phone.  Unless, of course, she manages to keep it plugged in.  So much for mobility.

Apple, if you're going to continue to serve up 5 star steak dinners, you better make sure they really satisfy.  I hear Android gives you options.  They've about perfected the art of running Android on the iPhone.

I have yet to try a Microsoft Phone.  I was going to with my last upgrade but there were no 4g options.  If you're curious I'm running the Atrix 2.  No PC required and I'd like a little shake with my fries.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Interviewing Techniques

I don't read a lot of instructional books.  I prefer to do things my way.  First time I had to "review" a boss's performance at work, my chief complaint was, "Don't tell me how to do my job.  Tell me what needs to be done."  It's a quirk that I'm particularly fond of.  If someone tells me something that needs to be done and I don't know how to do it, I'll read and look things up and experiment until I find the best solution.  It's what I do.But seriously, don't tell me how to do something.  It'll force me not to ever do it that way just out of spite.

With that prologue in mind, you must consider that I'm a leading interviewer where I work.  I've developed this system of testing people before they get hired.  It's not perfect and we don't hire enough people for me to work on its perfection, but it is approaching fun (at least for me).  I wish, before an election, I could interview prospective candidates.  I assume debates attempt to do this to some extent, but debates mostly bore me.  It's like a test to see how well someone can beat around the bush.

When I interview people at work, I'm mostly hiring programmers.  The first thing I want to find out is if they can listen. My first statement might be, "Do you know about the Fibonacci Sequence?"  This can get a whole host of answers.  Yes or no will usually suffice.  I don't like excuses or beating around the bush.  I'm all about efficiency.

I remember when I first graduated from college, the placement counselors teaching me how to go on interviews would always advise, "Keep talking until they ask another question."  I don't like that advice.

If they answer no, I'll explain it to them the best I can.  If they say yes or after my explanation I'll ask them to write it in a programming language of their choice.  This gets me into another topic for another blog, but I'll hint at it here.  Good programmers don't need to be experts at any particular language.  Good programmers can be experts at a language in less than a month whereas someone programming in the same language for 10 years can still be mediocre at best.

At this point in my interview game, I want to hear questions.  If they just start writing code, I'll usually kick them out the door.  I want someone who'll take the time to ask questions and get it exactly right the first time.  If I'm feeling mean spirited I'll let them write the code for 15 minutes and then tell them that's not what I wanted and start making things up.  I wanted it done this way, I wanted you to do it that way, it needs to be more efficient, I don't want recursion, etc.  It forces them to start over and it makes me giggle on the inside.

Once they've asked all the questions and have it designed and written to meet my requirements, I'll throw out enhancements.  Do they hack the enhancements in or do they take the time to re-design?  Do they remove the things that don't work for the enhancement?  I have a do it right the first time philosophy.  There are a group of people that just, "make it work".  I don't want to hire them.  I need the perfectionists or at least a smattering of due diligence.  It makes future maintenance and enhancements easier.

These types of techniques can be applied to any position.  When we elect government officials (like the President), they should have to go through a similar interview process.  The election cycle should be every 6 years, but with a 1 year introductory "contract to hire" basis.  If, after 1 year, they are inadequate for the job, replace them.  Oh, and I guess we're going to have to implement Internet voting to defer the costs of having to reelect so many dead beat civil servants.

The Debilitating Discomfort

In the true nature of randomness.

I had a minor surgical procedure performed about 10 years ago (give or take).  It's what I lovingly call my vasectomy.

Since then, every few years I get some minor swelling and discomfort in my right jewel.  It's always the right one.  I guess that's better than it being the wrong one.

Last time, it got bad enough that I made an appointment with my urologist.  By the time he was able to see me, the discomfort and swelling had subsided, but I went anyway.  He got paid to fondle me and announce, "Everything seems okay."  He went on to explain what it "might have been", but I was already pulling up my pants and looking for the nearest exit.  I did mention to him that if he got tired of being a urologist he might be able to get on with the Department of Homeland Security at the local airport.  He didn't think it was funny.  Neither did I.

Anyway, it's back and I figured I should share.  Don't worry, I won't post pictures.  It doesn't hurt.  It's just uncomfortable.  It's uncomfortable to sit, stand, sleep, etc.  My crank is starting to make me cranky.  Thus, the sad excuse for my ongoing series of mean spirited posts.  I'll blame it on duress caused by the obvious discomfort of my increasingly appropriately named "tenders".

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Libertarian Candidates

This just made my day so I had to share.  It's a little bit horrifying.

First, I found a list (on the Libertarian website) of the 2012 LP candidates for President.  I'm not entirely sure they should even mention all of them as candidates except, as I stated before, Libertarians believe in small government (less rules).  I know the Libertarian primaries are going to be in May of 2012.

Here's a link to the list...Libertarian Candidates.

My personal favorites were Robert Milnes and Joy Waymire.

I kid you not, you should go read through the first page at least.  I'll go ahead and give you my favorite quotes.

Robert says, "Also I need help with cats around the area. One evident large kitten has evident eye damage. I have no spare $ for veterinarian fees. Can anyone come here and take this young cat to a vet? And help me by adopting? One or two or all of them! About 7 near my shed. Another about 7 seem to come and go. "

He also says, "I'm getting numerous letters, emails and phone messages about court notices, eviction, unpaid bills, service cutoff etc. I'm way over my head. & that is making me more depressed. I need some help. Urgently.
& this is timed with getting very little campaign support & running out of time for the 2012 election opportunity. That is the 100 years ago election where Teddy Roosevelt almost fundamentally altered history had he won."

Where do these people come from?  And why do they join the Libertarian Party?

Joy says, "I’ve known since 2008 that I would be upon this path, for I serve the Lord, thy God and His People.  I have no self-desires, for my will is my Lord’s Will.  In doing so, I receive great pleasure not always of my choosing; Fulfilling me with love, joy, compassion towards all humanity."

And I was worried about the out of control religious zealots from the Republican party.  I may have no choice but to vote Democrat.  Or move to Mexico.

I'm going to keep posting this crap until someone besides Durango yells at me.  But, he claims to be my last remaining reader.  Which, may be true.

Choices or the Lack Thereof

The problem with living in a Democratic country is that the majority of people are stupid.

I'm thinking that what is required is a voting test you have to pass before being allowed to vote.  The problem with that is, who writes the test?  The test could theoretically be doctored to only allow people who believed a certain way to vote.

In the good old USA, we are given (by the media) two candidates to choose from.  It gets kind of twisted with the Republican primaries and the Democratic primaries seemingly offering you a bushel of choices, but it's just a scam.

At the end of the day, when you go to the voting booth, the media has brainwashed you with two choices.  A or B.  I guess they've grown accustomed to the fact that the people who watch their dramatic view of the world are incapable of choosing between more than two possibilities (and perhaps they are right).

Looking at the current Republican front runners, I could possibly vote for Herman Cain without too much heart burn.  I'd prefer Ron Paul, but he lacks the charisma to get the media's attention.  Both of them are way too religious for my blood though.

I don't typically vote for Republicans because they want to tell me how to live.  They are all a bunch of holier than though religious politicians who think everyone should live by their morals.  They'll tell you when you can drink.  They'll tell you what you can drink.  They'll tell you what you can eat.  They'll tell you what to believe.  They even want to tell you who  you can marry.  No thanks.  Of course, I live in a country where we get to vote and apparently the majority of people need this kind of parenting to be happy.

In the other corner, we've got Obama.  Obama didn't do anything he said he would do.  In my book, that makes him a spineless liar incapable of my trust or my respect.  My only hope is that the government is actually run by someone else who holds the President captive with fear of torture and forces them to read from the teleprompter and do as they are told.

I don't vote for Democrats because they tell me how to spend my money.

Unfortunately, as I see it, those are my two choices.

I'm actually Libertarian, but they'll never get elected.  They are too radical and they don't own any media outlets to brainwash people.  The Libertarian creed is small government.   This also implies an easy common sense approach to government.  That kind of attitude will never get elected. You must impose all kinds of strange mysterious bylaws and then purchase a news outlet that broadcasts to a nationwide audience on a daily basis.  The majority of people need their hand held and their facts spoon fed to them.  Small parties and small governments can't do that.

I'm thinking that when the next election cycle rolls around, I may be forced to relocate to Mexico.  At least the drug gangs are an evil I can understand.

And we all love the beatches.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Blogging Career

I started blogging in April of 2008. That year I wrote 128 posts.
In 2009 I wrote 207 little ditties.
In 2010 I wrote 143.
Thus far in 2011, I've written 75.

I'm either running out of things to say or running out of motivation to say them.

Yesterday, I was trying to clean up duplicate images in my Picasa library. I'm here to tell you that those duplicates were there for a reason. Now, there are a large number of my past postings that are missing "inline" images. If you click on the ?, you get to see the image, but the inline image is gone. Silly me. Without manually editing each and every post to fix it, there is no way to get it back. I'm not that motivated.

Then today, I started playing with the new blog templates. I've been looking at them for quite sometime, but just never had the desire to monkey with it. Today, the desire overtook me with an inexplicable force, so I messed with it.

Changing the background to black was not a good idea. I like black backgrounds (easier to read for me), but it messed up the colors on some of my previous posts. If you run across a post that is half blank or partially blank, it's because its font color is not jiving with the new background. Feel free to let me know. I might fix it. You can also highlight it to make the background white and you'll be able to read it. Assuming you are curious when you stumble upon such anomalies.

No, I'm not going to switch back to a white background. I needed a change.

If I try to write 1 thing a day for the rest of the year I may surpass 100 posts in 2011. Maybe I should open up a gambling service via my Paypal account. I'll give myself 5 to 1 odds. Feel free to play along. Send your bets to my Paypal account.

I've been feeling argumentative. Maybe tomorrow, I'll start my media versus Herman Cain rant.

Mean Spirited Soap Boxes

Sometimes I see something that twists me the wrong way.  Actually, I should rewrite that.  Every day I see things that twist me the wrong way.

Normally, I'm too polite to say anything.  I just let it slide and try to forget about it.  Actually, I should rewrite that.  Normally, I'm too scared of getting my ass beat to say anything.  I just walk away and pretend I didn't notice.

Handicap parking spaces are an indication that people have no empathy, no common sense and generally are a detriment to the species of sentient beings that we call intelligent.

When I go to the store, I pick the first parking space I come to when I enter the parking lot.  It can be 200 yards from the entrance.  It can be 300 yards from the entrance.  I don't care.  I'm healthy and I can walk.

People that tootle around for 30 minutes looking for the best parking spot so they can haul their 400 pounds of ass the shortest distance to the Walmart entrance have got my vote for useless.  It's because of people like this that the government has to put up handicap parking signs.  Actually, the government doesn't put them up directly.  They use some strange obfuscated law to force companies to put them up.

The whales who park like this should be parking behind me.  After all, I don't have 400 pounds of fat that I need to shed by walking an extra few hundred yards to the local Walmart.

If we want the government to quit inventing stupid laws, the first step may be to quit being stupid.  Show a little consideration for your fellow humans.  If you can walk, walk.  You don't need to park that close to the store.  And for the sake of all that's good and healthy, lose some weight.