Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Heuristics

January 20, 2004

When I was a kid, I loved books about heuristics—rules of thumb, aphoristic laws, and the sort. I’ve still got probably a dozen of those books and I think I probably checked out every other one at my local library.

Edge.org asked famous people for their laws and they’ve got quite a comprehensive collection. I’ve read through a few, but my love of heuristics has slackened over time. Maybe this will be the catalyst that rekindles my affection for them.

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Resolution #9

January 20, 2004

The second edition of Learning Python is out and this review of it over at Slashdot makes it sound really great. I’ve read Dive into Python, which I didn’t care for at all, and several other free, online books. None of them really cut the mustard for me, so I’m thinking it might time to add the book to my shopping cart at Amazon.

Unfortunately, I don’t think that my work will get Safari soon enough.

[UPDATE: If you’re not convinced of Python’s utility, then here’s ESR to ‘splain it.]

The New Cold War

January 19, 2004

Reading this speech by Dick Cheney and some color commentary, I can’t help but be a little glum about the future. The Cold War was great in hindsight because it asphyxiated Communism in all but a few small holdouts (okay China is big, but its new style of Communism is more like Sweden than Stalin), but it was a really, really scary thing while it was happening.

I’m lucky to have lived at the end of the Brezhnev era, when the Soviet Union devolved into musical chairs at the premier level. The threat posed by the Soviet Union was very real, to be sure, but there wasn’t any shoe-banging or U2-downing or nuclear war drills in school. The Soviets were embroiled in Afghanistan and only pestered us in Grenada and Angola. By the time I was old enough to realize the difference between Communism and capitalism, the best red-baiting we could muster was Red Dawn and Russkies.

So Cheney’s prognostications don’t fill me with the dread and fear that they might engender in someone one or two generations behind me, but I know enough about the history of the time to manufacture some of my own. The Cold War was costly in a very serious way and it mostly never came down to actual incidents or many lives lost (with the significant exceptions of the Korean and Vietnam Wars, though those weren’t against the Soviet Union). The war on terrorism promises to be both costly in money and lives since the foe is amorphous and willing to attack.

A war of this kind that goes on for several decades will surely have repercussions in the American and global economies. Cheney is already talking up massive military spending and I’m sure that Bush would like to do even more than what he’s let on. The dislocations of such military spending will likely dwarf the significant space-related spending taking place at the same time. And we’re supposed to believe that Bush is a Reagan-esque fiscal conservative?

I am not a peacenik. I don’t believe that we should take the terrorism threat lying down. I just think that we should have a tighter mission with a firmer strategy that seeks to eradicate terrorism in the most efficient manner possible. Perhaps it’s time to outsource the war on terrorism to an entity that knows how to do it (I’m not talking about Halliburton, Dick): Israel.

Seriously. Maybe it’s time to throw a few hundred billion at the Mossad and give them a real simple mission: eliminate al-Qaeda and all of its minions. It’s not like Israel isn’t chomping at that bit and it’s not like they’re worried about bad PR—the Muslim world already hates Israel. I think it’s pretty clear that we’re out of our league with the war on terrorism (or, at least, we’re not willing to do what’s necessary), so let’s contract out that war.

Interview with a Plone Developer

January 18, 2004

O’Reilly conducted a brief interview with the Plone developers after their Comdex win as one of the five best open-source software programs. Plone, for those of you who are new to the Bill Brown Information Center (and its blog), is the future CMS of the BBIC—whenever I get some time to work on it.

Fixing IE/Win

January 15, 2004

Sigh, where to start.

[UPDATE: Hmm, maybe they should do what they did with Internet Explorer for the Macintosh.]

Brochure Design

January 7, 2004

Interesting analysis of National Park Service brochure design over at PeterMe with elaboration at the Corporate Design Foundation.

Resolution Reference

January 6, 2004

Towards the end of numbers 5 and 6, “How To Select Perfectly Matching Color Combinations” and CSS Vault.

[UPDATE (1/15/04): The Daily Standards is another repository of valid and interesting CSS-based sites.]

[UPDATE (3/18/04): QuickColor is a Flash tool to find complementary color schemes. Me likee!]

At the Apple Store Biltmore

January 6, 2004

I’m watching the MWSF keynote at the Apple Store Biltmore and it’s mostly just recap of 2003 so far (except the Xserve G5 and Final Cut Express 2.0—got to remember to order that upgrade). I’m sure there’s some big stuff coming since it’s only the first hour of the generally two-hour speech.

While I’m waiting for the good stuff, I’m reading tributes from computing luminaries on the twentieth anniversary of the Macintosh over at Wired News. It’s other good stuff.

[UPDATE: Didn’t have to wait long, as Steve just announced the new version of iPhoto and said that it’s “blazing fast” for up to 25,000 photos. As someone who’s got 4,000 photos, I dreaded using iPhoto because it took forever to load up and it sucked up massive amounts of memory. Can’t wait to download. Come to papa!]

Library 2.0

January 6, 2004

Chronopath has released Library 2.0 and it’s a doozy of an update. There’s still a lot of niggling issues, but the fact that it now supports movies, music, and games means that I can have a one-stop solution for cataloging my multimedia collecting. Now if only it could get me time to input the thousands of items…

If you’re not into paying for software, may I recommend Books as an alternate? It’s not as comprehensive or easy to use, but it’s definitely acceptable and getting better every day.

Two Earthquakes

January 5, 2004

I’m not normally a big fan of Thomas Sowell (but he’s a value of yours, you might ask…that he’s my favorite editorial columnist and I can say that I’m not a big fan should tell you the barrenness of the field), but his recent column entitled “Two earthquakes” is spot on. When I was listening to an NPR report this morning on rescue operations in Bam, I was thinking exactly what he said in that editorial—”there but for the grace of God” never crossed my mind.