Archive for April, 2004

Get the CF out of the FCC
30 April, 2004

Disturbed at the recent attempts by the FCC to skirt the First Amendment, I sent them an email telling them to get back to policing the technical portions (e.g., frequencies) of the broadcast spectrum. Being the clowns that they are, their response was to reply with a copy of their "Reasons Why We Can Do Whatever the Hell We Want". (They called it their FAQ but let's just use their internal title.)

As I've mentioned before, I'm not at all concerned by Nipplegate. I doubt that either of my kids would have been scarred for life by the micro-second exposure of a boob if they had even seen it. I think American culture and American kids can handle a lot more than their erstwhile protectors admit. Regardless of that, I am positive that an agency whose members are not elected should not be responsible for censoring our speech. Even if censorship was necessary (which I am not conceding) it should remain in the regular branches of government. Ridiculously steep fines are de facto laws and should not be passed by anyone other than elected representatives.

I'm not even sure the FCC could police the frequencies. Buried in their FAQ is a little tidbit about the volume of television commercials relative to other programming. Those clowns claim that there is no measurable difference in volume. What the…?!? All they would have to do is sit through one commercial break at my house and they would have plenty of evidence of a difference. They claim that it is just our perception that the volume is louder and they're not responsible for our perceptions.

It's kind of odd then that they've taken to levying fines for obscene content on the airwaves. After all, they rest their censorship on a Supreme Court ruling and the Supreme Court has held that obscenity is in the eye of the beholder. Have they forgotten "I'll know it when I see it?"

So apparently they do use their granted powers to control our perceptions. Just the ones they think need controlling.


Is That Really Easy-to-Use?
29 April, 2004

There is a commercial for HP or CompUSA (I couldn't really tell which) that touts how easy it is to use HP products. Their proof? Someone will come out to your house and show you how to use it.

While this is certainly a convenient service for those who need it, can they really make a claim of easy-to-use if you need one-on-one instruction to use the product?

A better claim would seem to be "Easier to use than if we just ignored you" which would be fully accurate. But probably not as effective an advertisement.

It's Not Getting Any Better, Is It?
28 April, 2004

Two local mayors are boycotting an annual mayors' prayer breakfast. "Why?" you might ask. One of the mayors invited a rabbi and an imam to pray. When the Protestant group that organizes the breakfast heard, they called up the rabbi and the imam and uninvited them.

In a time when we're struggling to defend ourselves from religious extremists, such a gesture seems more part of the problem than the solution. Perhaps the olive branch would be better than the back-handed slap. Apparently those fellows aren't familiar with John 13:35.

More Reasons Why I Love Her
26 April, 2004

As I've mentioned before, I am a keyboarder from way back. Anything that lets me leave my fingers at the keyboard is a great help. To that end, I tend to learn the keyboard shortcuts for common editing operations. In Winders, Ctrl+Shift+Right Arrow selects the next word to the right of the cursor. In OS X, Option+Shift+Right Arrow selects the next word to the right of the cursor.

What's the big deal, right?

The deal is the morons at Microsoft select the space after the word, too.

That one little space has a big impact. If I change the font of a word, in Winders by default I also change the font of the following space. So what? Well, since it's a space I can't see the change. If I edit that sentence by adding a word, I don't get the font of the word to which the cursor is closest; I am surprised by a font from farther away.

In OS X, it works the way you expect. The selection stops at the end of the last word selected.

It may not seem like much but it results in extra keystrokes every time I change the font or style of a word. These keystrokes add up, contributing to the overall difficulty of using Winders. Plus it makes sense and I don't have to spend time thinking about what the stupid operating system is going to do wrong.

It's almost like those Mac guys are trying to make it useful…

Book Meme
25 April, 2004

I caught this from Lovely Angel who caught it from Nerdygirl. (Why does this remind me of college?)

1. Get the book you're currently reading.
2. Open it to page 23.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with the above instructions.


"Eighty 81-mm shells came in a flurry, turning the French machine guns off as if someone had pulled a switch."
Darby's Rangers: We Led the Way by William O. Darby with William H. Baumer, ISBN 0-345-46553-9

It's Not Just Me
25 April, 2004

As I have mentioned in previous posts, the president of my eldest's school's PTA was a complete and total clown. (I'm sure it's completely coincidental that he works in marketing for a large chip-maker in the PNW.) A month into the school year, he pulled his kids from the school, citing disagreements with the way the school was being run. But he didn't resign as president of the PTA!

We recently held elections for next year's officers. He wisely chose to not run for office. (And those notes made out of letters cut from magazines had nothing at all to do with it.) Thankfully, even though his term lasts through September, he immediately gave everything to the incoming president and has been neither seen nor heard from since. Whew.

All through last year, we kept saying to each other, “There's got to be a better way to do this.” Even with no previous experience with PTAs, we could see several simple procedures that would make things go more smoothly. But, we figured, maybe we're just too new to understand why such things don't work.

Nope. It was President Putz. The new president has experience with the PTA at another school and tonigh validated that our ideas are standard operating procedure at other PTAs.

It's good to see that it's not just me.

Powell's Goodness
21 April, 2004

My eldest won a gift certificate to Powell's today at school. He qualified by being a damn good reader. (And, yes, I am proud.)

But how cool is it to live in Oregon? Your kid wins a gift certificate to some place like Powell's. Not to Lord Fauntleroy's Knee-High Hosiery Emporium like those poor kids in London. Or Manhattan School of Snobbery like those unfortunates in New York City. Or Crazy Al's Acres of Air Conditioners like those damned souls in Los Angeles.


It's Better than a Poke in the Eye
19 April, 2004

I got very little sleep last night. "Why?", you might ask.

Foot cramp.

The muscles of the instep on my left foot were cramping. I'd be sleeping along, peacefully dreaming of redheads in plaid skirts playing field hockey, when WHAM! I'd be awakened by a foot cramp. Now, they're not as painful as night hamstring cramps, but they get your attention. It's kind of hard to sleep when your foot is trying to tie itself into a pretzel.

But it's better than a poke in the eye, with or without the sharp stick.

Drag. Drop. Drool.
17 April, 2004

I come from a keyboard background. I have been using variants of UNIX for years. I write shell scripts. I use the classic editors, vi and emacs, on a daily basis. So I've never been much of a mouser. Especially since using a conventional mouse with modern, lopsided-on-the-right keyboards brutalized my wrist.

But I just discovered the coolest thing on my Mac. If I select a region of text, I needn't cut it and then paste it in the new location. I can just drag the selection to the new location. How freakin' cool is that?

RE: What email?
16 April, 2004

What a bunch of clowns at

I finally got my email working again. The problem? They'd changed the host names for the mail servers and didn't tell me! I got an email today announcing that they'd completed the move of the servers. Of course, I never got an email announcing that they were going to move the servers in the first place.

Once I changed the server names, mail began trickling back in. One of the queued up messages was a response from support to my report that I couldn't retrieve email. But they sent it to the account from which I couldn't receive email!

Needless to say, my time at is over. I've changed my forwarding alias to point at a better service. I've already paid in advance for this year, so the old email address will probably be around for a while. But at last the long, frustrating slide into uselessness is over.