dannyman.toldme.com


About Me, News and Reaction, Politics, Sundry, Testimonials

Skipping Ender’s Game

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2013/08/07/skipping-enders-game/

As new parents, it is not as if we are getting out to the movies at all these days. All the same, when the Ender’s Game Movie page popped up in my Facebook I had to pay a visit, and share my opinion:

FWIW, Card has continued to advocate and advance his beliefs that homosexual people should have lesser rights than heterosexual people. If you see this movie then some of your ticket price goes to Card and will help in your own small way to advocate for discrimination. This reason alone turns me so far of the prospect of seeing this movie.

When I was younger, I loved the entire trilogy, and I would still encourage folks to borrow the books from the library, but the thought of giving another dime to Card fills me with revulsion.

Discrimination is not cool, and every dollar of revenue this movie fails to book is a dollar that has been better spent elsewhere.

Unsurprisingly, people who are planning not see go watch Ender’s Game aren’t spending much time on the movie’s Facebook page. So, comments like mine get a lot of pushback. Some guy in Netherlands reads what I said above and responds, “So you liked the books and then you learned about OSC’s beliefs and you didn’t like the books anymore?”

Which, no, that’s not quite what I said. So, I’ll try again:

Peter, I love the books. What I dislike is the idea of giving any money to a guy who uses it as a soapbox to preach that gay people should be discriminated against. I dislike the idea of giving my money to someone who preaches against the rights of homosexuals just as much as I dislike the idea of giving my money to someone preaching Racism or Sexism or Ultranationalism or Religious Extremism or any of the rest.

Fortunately, there are plenty of great books to be read, plenty of great movies to be watched, that aren’t asking me to support the cause of hateful people. There are plenty of great books I have not yet read, plenty of great movies I have yet to watch. Plenty of enjoyment to be had without giving money to those preaching a tired old hatred.

Ask yourself this: would the idealistic young kids portrayed in “Enders Game” be lining up to see a movie produced by someone preaching hate? There are surely any number of more valuable things that you could be spending your time and money on, neh?

At any rate, as I said, there’s only so much time I have to spend that I’m not going to blow too much of it debating kids on Facebook. I have done my little part, and Orson Scott Card is pretty small-fry compared to the kind of awful stuff that is happening in Russia.

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Technology, Testimonials

Fitbit Feedback: My Own Data Are Not a “Premium” Feature

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2013/07/15/fitbit-our-data-ourselves/

Feedback to Fitbit:

Hello,

I have for a long time wanted to be able to download my data. It seems simple: I buy a device to track my data, I should have access to the data collected.

It looks like now for the low low price of $50/year I can download my own data.

Honestly, that just feels slimy. They are my data. My data are not a premium feature. This restriction puts a bad taste in my mouth and that is a strong deterrent to purchasing further products from you folks. Which is too bad, since I otherwise like the hardware and I am ready to be upsold to an NFC device. But since my data are not my data … well, I’d rather just spend my money elsewhere.

Thanks,
-danny

If anyone has an activity tracker they particularly like, I am keen to hear about it.

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Sundry, Testimonials

Scalia Resigns as Scoutmaster

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2013/05/26/scalia-resigns-as-scoutmaster/

My Red State Relative Posted this to his Facebook Wall:

Justice Scalia quit his post in a terse resignation letter that read, in part: "Some of the happiest memories of my adult life have been as a scoutmaster. Huddling under blankets around the campfire, and so forth. But now, all of that has been ruined. Ruined."

“Scalia Resigns Post as Scoutmaster”

Justice Scalia quit his post in a terse resignation letter that read, in part:
“Some of the happiest memories of my adult life have been as a scoutmaster. Huddling under blankets around the campfire, and so forth. But now, all of that has been ruined. Ruined.”

I quipped that “if enough bigots quit they’ll have to start recruiting gay adult leaders.” To which my relative responded asking how I might feel about my son on a campout with the gays, or an alcoholic, and that safety, righteousness and common sense should prevail.

Turns out, this story is satire from the New Yorker, which makes it all the more delicious. I wrote back:

I thought it sounded like The Onion.

[Relative], I hope Tommy takes an interest in scouting, and I feel better to know that if he joins, he will not be denied the friendship of a fellow scout simply because one of them is gay. I hope they go camping together, and I know from first-hand experience that when Scouts exhibit a gross failure of ethical or moral conduct, their behavior is reported and disciplinary action is taken. (Like the boys who got expelled from the Scouts for shoplifting during a camping trip.)

And, for what it is worth, our Scoutmaster was a combat Veteran and a Recovering Alcoholic. He told some good stories that I think probably helped a few of us young men make smarter decisions in our adult lives. It was always hard to get a sufficient number of adults to join our outings, which is why I will be glad to see the eventual end of the exclusion of gay adult leaders.

I never made it to Eagle, but a friend of mine who did resigned his badge and sent the pin back to HQ because of the exclusion policy. I was really really proud that he would make a sacrifice for what he knew to be correct. A lot of Eagles have resigned their rank for the same reason. There’s even a blog at http://eaglebadges.tumblr.com/. It is nice to see those sacrifices have not been in vain.

2 Comments


Sundry, Technology, Testimonials

And So It Goes . . .

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2013/05/24/and-so-it-goes/

You would think that turning a computer off would be a simple ask. But on my corporate laptop, Windows 7 is ever concerned that I am an idiot.

Me: Okay, we’re done. Shut down.
Windows 7: Okay. Hey, wait, some programs are still running.
Me: Kill them. Force shut down.
Windows 7: Bu-bu-bu-bu-buuuut you could lose your work!! Are you sure you want to shut down?
Me: Yes . . . I’m always sure . . . but thank you for your heartfelt concern.

So it goes.

(I do 98% of my work from Linux, which thinks shutting down is a grand idea.)

3 Comments


About Me, Biography, Technology, Testimonials

Testing out Ipernity

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2013/05/23/testing-out-ipernity/

Earlier this week, Yahoo! unveiled a new and improved Flickr! !! A radical new redesign, which, while kind of slick to look at, totally steamrolls all the narrative features that many Flickr users like me love. Time will tell if Yahoo will backpedal enough to let us old-timers see our photos in the ways we like. Given that the new business model appears to be ditching the user subscription model for ads ads ads I am not optimistic.

Tommy vs Picmonkey
Tommy smiles at his father photographer.

Enter Iperntity, a 7-person outfit in Cannes, FR which appears to have cloned the Flickr interface back in 2007 and have since moved in the direction of building it into a site where you not only manage and share your photos, but you can also write stories, and keep track of the friends you have on the site. Basically, a little outfit building something like Flickr into what Flickr might have become had Yahoo! not spent the past decade neglecting it. In a way, it is even giving us the core sharing features that people like about Facebook, without all the skeeviness. (Or … critical mass.)

So far, I like it. Like Flickr, it features an API, and since Yahoo this week induced a lot more demand for the site, the migration scripts and Collections feature are coming along.

My reactions so far:

I of course opted for their 3-month paid service. Once the Collections feature comes online then I reckon there is a very good chance I’ll migrate my data from Flickr and sign up for their two year plan.

It is just nice to discover that there is new technology waiting in the wings when the big megacorp decides to shoot its product in the foot.

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Letters to The Man, Technology, Testimonials

Flickr Makes Me Want to Cry

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2013/05/21/flickr-makes-me-want-to-cry/

I really really loved the Flickr interface and the new thing they rolled out today makes me feel like I have been punched in the gut. I added my voice to the torrent of objections in the forums at http://www.flickr.com/help/forum/en-us/72157633547442506/

A test view of a plugin I once wrote to view Flickr photos on a WordPress site.

A test view of a plugin I wrote to view Flickr photos on a WordPress site.

Wow. It is hard even to add a post here.

I loved the old interface. I also loved that when you added new layout options to the old interface, they were OPTIONS that users could turn on or off.

I like that you could browse photos with annotations, click on a photo for a larger view, look over the metadata, &c . . . then click through the photostream or set.

Back when I joined in 2005 I was wary that Yahoo! might eventually do something stupid to what was really a very nice, well-designed interface for managing photos. My main assurance is that there would still be an API . . . I guess I will have to brush off the old API . . .

Really, you should give users the option to use the interface they like. This feels like instead of sitting down with users, seeing how they use the site, figuring out how to make it work better, you brought in some jackass designer who sighed that the site looks oh-so-2005, and decided to replace it with a mashup of Google Image Search (which is a terrible UI, by the way) and the Facebook header image (which wastes space at the top of screens which are getting shorter and wider but at least looks kind of neat.)

Please respect your existing users, many of us who have been paying you real, cash money for years now, and give us at least the option to enjoy the user interface we loved about your site.

Thanks,
-danny

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About Me, Politics, Religion, Testimonials

Remember Gwen Araujo

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2013/04/03/remember-gwen-araujo/

Remember Gwen Araujo

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gwen_Araujo

Back when I lived in Mountain View I was deeply saddened to read of the death of Gwen Araujo in 2002. She was a transgendered teen in the South Bay who was brutally murdered by classmates. Why? She had given a few blowjobs to the boys. The boys realized in horror that they had committed a “homosexual” act. They felt betrayed by Gwen, beat her to death, and buried her in the woods.

The tragedy bothered me because Gwen was apparently accepted by these friends enough to become somewhat intimate, but the homophobia that had been instilled in these kids was so strong that they went from lust to the worst sort of violence.

For me, “Gwen Araujo” is as a reminder that homophobia is a deadly poison that can turn even a lover into a brutal murderer. Gays aren’t murdering people: it is homophobia that is the dangerous sickness. The younger generations have proven increasingly tolerant, but Gwen’s friends were still held under its deadly influence . . .

I dream of a world in which people can be who they are as they are without fear of violence.

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Politics, Presidential Decrees, Technology, Testimonials

Presidential Decree #6: Intellectual Commons Restoration

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2013/02/19/presidential-decree-6-intellectual-commons-restoration/

In an age where innovation and creative thinking move ever faster, it is sick and demented that we have extended copyright periods to over a century. It is shame for the current generation and those of the twentieth century that the intellectual commons ended in 1923.

The gradual seizure of the intellectual commons.  CC: Wikipedia

The gradual seizure of the intellectual commons. CC: Wikipedia

The United States hereby withdraws from International Copyright Treaties, especially the Berne Convention. The substance and spirit of the Copyright Law of 1790 shall be restored. All intellectual property rights must be recorded by the government. Software copyright protection requires a copy of source code for software to be stored in escrow with the government. Exclusive rights are conferred to the author for 14 years, plus an option to extend rights for 14 years if the author is alive at that time.

A Copyright Will Protect You From Pirates!  CC: WikiPedia

A Copyright Will Protect You From Pirates! CC: Wikipedia

All other works are Public Domain. Upon expiration of software copyright protections, the government will publish the source code.

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Technical, Technology, Testimonials

SAQ: Is a DSL Modem Actually a Modem?

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2013/02/19/saq-is-a-dsl-modem-actually-a-modem/

This question came to mind the other day. “DSL modem” sounds dumb, because as any geek over the age of 30 knows, a “modem” is a device with MODulates and DEmodulates a digital signal over an analog network. Thus a “Digital Subscriber Line” has no need for modulating and demodulating.

modem and phone

THIS is a modem!
CC: BryanAlexander

Except, DSL is actually an overlay on the analog telephone network. So, wait . . . what?

Wikipedia wastes its time on a pointless distinction:

“The term DSL modem is technically used to describe a modem which connects to a single computer, through a USB port or is installed in a computer PCI slot. The more common DSL router which combines the function of a DSL modem and a home router, is a standalone device which can be connected to multiple computers …”

Yeah, really helpful. But as geeks know, you need to check the Wikipedia talk page:

The usage “DSL Modem” is not erroneous. A DSL modem does indeed perform modulation and demodulation. It uses either Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM) or Phase Shift Keying (PSK) modulation. Multiple modulated subcarriers are then combined into an OFDM stream. The distinction between this type of modem and a traditional one is that the traditional one modulates audio frequency signals whereas the DSL modem is upconverted to an RF band. But they both perform modulation and demodulation. The digital signals are not sent as baseband digital signals.

I do not know what all those words mean, but I read that as “a DSL modem is still a modem. It modulates and demodulates a digital signal into the RF band of a telephone line.”

I made my own contribution to Wikipedia’s Talk page:

The distinction between whether your “DSL modem” connects via USB, ethernet, wireless, or provides NAT, sounds like a spurious distinction to me. I interpret and interchange “DSL modem” and “DSL router” as “the network device that bridges your local computing resources to your network service provider.”

But if I have learned anything about nomenclature disputes on Wikipedia, it is that they are not worth the effort.

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Politics, Testimonials

Speak Softly, and Carry a Crowbar

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2013/01/14/speak-softly-and-carry-a-crowbar/

Biiiiig guns!!!

We are not the young, strong, boisterous nation that we once were. We are older and slower, hopefully a bit wiser. We are beginning to suspect that if we sold the old gunboat we have parked in the driveway that we could afford to repave the driveway, upgrade to energy-saving appliances, help the grandkids through school, and still have a few bucks left over to take the wife out for tango lessons.

But how can you be safe without a gunboat in the driveway? Well, I have been thinking about that. It turns out that almost any burglar can be scared off by a guy wielding a 2×4, or a baseball bat, or a crowbar. In fact, Grandpa used to sleep with a crowbar by his bed, just in case. He was tough and never scared. And these days if you don’t find an old man with a crowbar scary you can bet his wife is standing behind him, on the phone with the cops.

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Politics, Religion, Sundry, Testimonials

Shen Yun

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2013/01/06/shen-yun/

Some weeks back I saw a poster for “Shen Yun: Reviving 5,000 Years of Civilization” at work and thought “Excellent! The wife digs artistic performance and bonus points for digging some traditional Chinese culture.” I grabbed some tickets and mentioned to a coworker. “Shen Yun? That’s Falun Gong.” I know very little about Falun Gong, except that the Chinese government views them as a threatening cult. Of course, the mainland government is easily wigged out over any perceived threat to stability, so I figured that doesn’t tell us much. We’re seeing a performance sponsored by an oppressed religious minority. That could mean anything, really.

The performance was pretty cool. Lots of dancers in colorful costumes evoking stories from Chinese history. I’d say it is like watching a Chinese version of the Nutcracker Suite. Lots of color, lots of movement, and good music. Although they’re telling mostly ancient stories they make effective use of a modern prop of a projected backstage. This saves not only on set design, but the characters at various points jump off the back stage and fly up into the screen as digital avatars. The first time I saw this I thought it was a bit gimmicky, but by the second instance I thought “hey, that is pretty neat, and I bet really magical for the kids.”

And then there’s the Falun Dafa bits. They have some solo singers come out and sing in Chinese, which is cool. They even put the lyrics on the back screen in Chinese and English. I am sure some of the poetic nuance is lost in translation, but the songs lament that we are … most of us, anyway … Gods from the Heavens who have come down to Earth for some reason, something about breaking the cycle of reincarnation and restoring the cycle of creation and destruction. To the disinterested observer it comes across as Buddhist Scientology, and the cycle of creation and destruction sounds like the sort of thing that would raise the ear of a mainland censor.

Two of the dance performances are set in modern China. In one, a tourist gets sent to jail when he unintentionally takes a picture of an innocuous Falun Dafa protest. The guy is tossed in a cell with the Falun Dafa kids, whom he wants nothing to do with, but after the guards treat him contemptibly, everyone in the cell identifies their common predicament. I thought “alright, the Chinese government overdoes it, and many social reform movements have found strength in the jails. Right on, brothers! Fight the power!” In the final dance, the Falun Dafa are having a great time protesting in Tienanmen Square. Right on, sisters! Let us see your “tank man” performance! As soon as the Chinese police come out to bust some heads, a massive earthquake starts to destroy Beijing. Huh? That kind of sucks! But, no worry, the Gods come down and restore Beijing … everything except the Great Hall of the People … ah!

Yeah, I can see how even a reasonable government might not be super enthusiastic about that sort of performance.

The show was overall entertaining. I would still hope that people can practice their religion freely. But whatever innate sympathy I might have had for the Falun folks is diminished, especially by their last performance. When it comes to resistance movements, I am most sympathetic to the non-violent, and to those who aren’t fantasizing that apocalypse is an element to their eventual success.

1 Comment


Letters to The Man, Technology, Testimonials

Advice to Hotels

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2012/10/30/free-internet-duh/

From a survey I just filled out regarding a business trip to London:

Internet access … kept dropping packets, and I had to keep logging in to it via iPass. Don’t gouge customers, just let them on. This is seriously trivial, low-hanging fruit, which can make all the difference in the world esp for an international business traveler avoiding mobile roaming charges.

I would without hesitation stay at a more mediocre hotel that could deliver hassle-free, reliable Internet service, and the hassle-free starts with avoiding the damn tariff screen and just letting your guests on … guests who will appreciate this no-nonsense convenience far more than whether the staff have been properly trained to smile, &c.

I gotta say … we seem to “get this” in America … I’ve stayed at plenty of budget motels which offered complimentary, hassle-free, reliable Internet access. Though, I don’t recall having the same pleasure at a hotel in New York, where you could get free Internet in the lobby, but had to pay for it upstairs in your room.

For many of us, network access is kind of like tap water: we take it for granted that it should just flow, and not require one to jump through hoops to pay an additional $20/day. If there’s a business hotel chain that has figured this out, let me know, because my loyalty would be easily won.

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Religion, Testimonials

Hajj

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2012/10/25/hajj/

“According to Islamic tradition the Kaaba was re-constructed by Abraham. It is stated in the Qur’an that this was the first house that was built for humanity to worship Allah.”

Malcolm X, an American human rights activist, describes the sociological atmosphere he experienced at Hajj as follows:

There were tens of thousands of pilgrims, from all over the world. They were of all colors, from blue-eyed blondes to black-skinned Africans. But we were all participating in the same ritual, displaying a spirit of unity and brotherhood that my experiences in America had led me to believe never could exist between the white and the non-white. America needs to understand Islam, because this is the one religion that erases from its society the race problem.

A 2008 study on the longer-term effect of participating in the Islamic pilgrimage found that Muslims’ communities become more open after the Hajj experience. Entitled “Estimating the Impact of the Hajj: Religion and Tolerance in Islam’s Global Gathering”, a study conducted in conjunction with Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government found that the Hajj experience promotes peaceful coexistence, equality, and harmony. Specifically, the report states that the Hajj “increases belief in equality and harmony among ethnic groups and Islamic community and that “Hajjis (those who have performed the Hajj) show increased belief in peace, and in equality and harmony among adherents of different religions”

Sourced from Wikipedia: Kaaba, Hajj

I kinda like just listening to the guy praying along in Arabic. Very relaxing. Even when I was a kid, I thought it was a cool idea that when Muslims pray, wherever they are, they face the same spot. Reading observations that having what amounts to a yearly conference that brings people from across the world together in fellowship . . . that is also a good thing.

Organized religion, and especially Islam, are not without some serious problems, so it is reassuring to see some of the spiritual unity and good spirit that result from a practice that so many people today and throughout history have dedicated their lives to.

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Linux, Sundry, Technical, Technology, Testimonials

Smoothing Out Fonts on kubuntu-desktop

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2012/09/13/make-kubuntu-kde-fonts-pretty/

So, I really like Ubuntu. Its Linux and it just mostly works. Except when they try to force everyone into some experimental new desktop environment. That is pretty awful, but I’m happy again now that I switched to kubuntu-desktop. (apt-get install kubuntu-desktop)

Kubuntu is Ubuntu with a nicely set-up KDE environment. They try to get you to use their own home-grown web browser, and the file manager takes some getting used to, but you can pretty quickly get under the hood, set up all your little window manager preferences, and get back to jamming. (Focus Follows Mouse in my house!)

The only thing that was missing is the fonts were rendering . . . not as pretty as regular Ubuntu. Kubuntu is set up to use the Ubuntu font, but in KDE things render kind of pixelly looking, like I was still in the 90s. A bit of searching and they seem to look nicer:

System Settings > Application Appearance > Fonts
Use anti-aliasing: Enabled
Configure…
Use sub-pixel rendering: RGB
Hinting style: Slight

Now things feel a little more 21st century.

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About Me, Letters to The Man, Testimonials

Former Eagle Scout

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2012/09/12/former-eagle-scout/

Via Facebook: “Guys, I finally wrote a letter to the Boy Scouts to resign my Eagle Scout rank, and sent it along with my badge. It was hard to do but I can’t continue to the associated with an organization that has become so discriminatory and bigoted toward gay youth & leadership.”

As a former Boy Scout who never made Eagle, I am impressed by those that had the dedication to put in the hard work to attain that rank. I am not surprised to hear that my college friend, Dan Wright, made Eagle, and I am proud that he did.

Two decades on, it takes some integrity to renounce the hard work and proud accomplishment of youth, in the name of those youthful values. Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Courteous, Kind, and Obedient to a code of Universal morality which affords equal respect to all people.

Dan did well in his younger days, and he’s doing right now. Sometimes the label which you have earned just doesn’t fit on the heart within.

See Also: Eagle Scouts Returning Our Badges

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