Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Songbird is becoming one kick ass media player (some installation tips)

I've been keeping a close watch on the development of Songbird, a fantastically innovative cross-platform audio player in the spirit of itunes (though it looks like it might exceed itunes in the near future). Recently version 1.0 was released, and so I thought I'd briefly review it here, as well as provide some nifty little tips that make the experience all the more enjoyable (especially for Ubuntu users).

First thing, songbird is not yet in the Ubuntu repositories (hopefully this will change for the Jaunty release) - so there are two main ways to install it:
  1. Download the tarball package, extract it where you want, and symlink to it in your .bashrc (this is they way I did it).
  2. Download the Songbird deb package from getdeb: here.
Once installed, there are a couple of addons that I add immediately:
  • LyricMaster - Fetch lyrics and save them back to the file
  • MediaFlow - Like itunes album art preview. Normally, though, I have this disabled because mashtape is much more functional.
  • Music Recommendations - Pulls up Last.fm recommendations
  • YABS - One KICK ASS skin!! I sort of wish it was the default look of songbird (it makes it look a lot less like an itunes clone).
Here is a screenshot when YABS is enabled:


Pretty freakin sweet if you ask me!

Next I enable Flash and Java for Songbird. Here is how on Ubuntu Intrepid (assuming you already have both installed on your system):
  • For Java: ln -s /usr/lib/jvm/java-6-sun-1.6.0.10/jre/plugin/i386/ns7/libjavaplugin_oji.so ~/Songbird/plugins/libjavaplugin_oji.so
  • For Flash: ln -s /usr/lib/flashplugin-nonfree/libflashplayer.so ~/Songbird/plugins/libflashplayer.so
There, that should do it. Enjoy!!

There are still a number of features coming down the in the next release (due out Feburary!) that I'm really looking forward to (check out the roadmap):
  • Watch folder - so it can automatically keep track of changes in your library (this is my most desired feature)
  • Automatically fetch album art
I'm also looking forward to future inclusions of:
  • The ability to rip and burn cds
  • Support for video playback
  • Support for native look and feel
  • Improved dynamic/smart playlists

Friday, November 21, 2008

Beer Review #8: Total Domination IPA (Ninkasi Brewing Company)



Appearance - Pours a medium orange/amber (its lighter than I expected). A off-white (eggshell?) head that holds well and leaves a decent lacing.

Smell - Very citrisy, with grapefruit notes dominating. Also the smell of hops is very prominant.

Taste - Nice and hoppy upfront (the hops definitely dominate), some acidity and sweetness in the middle (definitely more pronounced malt than I was expecting), and ends on a bitter piney note, coaxing me to take the next drink.

Mouthfeel - Good, strong carbonation that stimulates my taste buds when I roll it around my mouth.

Drinkability - An enjoyable IPA. A little sharper than I want, and not as complex as I may desire, but a solid IPA that I would not be hesitant to recommend (though it doesn't quit live up to its name).

7/B+

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Using wine to run Microsoft Reader

If you run linux and have .lit files then its a problem reading them. Fortunately you can use wine to get Microsoft Reader up and running. There is one extra step to get it working, though. First, download msvcirt.dll from here. Unzip it and place it in ~/.wine/drive_c/windows. Now download Microsoft Reader and install it using wine.

Windows Live Mail (Hotmail) stopped working on Ubuntu Linux

If you can't reply to email on hotmail in Ubuntu, the following tip should help. Its Microsoft, again, trying to be incompatible with non-microsoft products (this is type of reason hardcore computer geeks hate microsoft, bastards) - but there is a way to get it working:

Type "about:config" (without the quotes) in Firefox address bar.
In the "filter" box type: general.useragent.override

If nothing shows up under "Preference Name", then right click the main window (i.e., under preference name) and choose "New" and then "String".

Enter the following preference name: general.useragent.override

For the string value, if your computer is a 32-bit architecture, then use:

Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux x86; en; rv:1.9.0.3) Gecko/2008092510 Firefox/3.0.3

(all one line). If it is a 64-bit architecture, use:

Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux x86_64; en; rv:1.9.0.3) Gecko/2008092510 Firefox/3.0.3

There, that should make it work.

Enabling lame for ffmpeg when converting mpg to flv

Athough more extensive directions can be found here, I had a hard time using it without getting a bunch of errors in the process, so I've set up this up as a guide that worked for me. I'm assuming you are using Intrepid Ubuntu on a 32-bit machine. Make sure you have enabled multiverse, universe, and the various source code repos.

On the command line:

sudo apt-get remove ffmpeg

wget http://ffmpeg.mplayerhq.hu/ffmpeg-export-snapshot.tar.bz2

tar jxvf ffmpeg-export-snapshot.tar.bz2

cd ffmpeg-*/

sudo apt-get install liba52-dev libdts-dev libgsm1-dev libvorbis-dev  libxvidcore4 libxvidcore-dev libdc1394-22-dev libfaac-dev  libmp3lame-dev libx264-dev  libfaad-dev libtheora-dev libsdl1.2-dev

./configure --prefix=/usr/local --disable-debug --enable-shared --enable-gpl --enable-postproc --enable-swscale --enable-pthreads --enable-x11grab --enable-libdc1394 --enable-libfaac --enable-libfaad --enable-libgsm --enable-libmp3lame --enable-libtheora --enable-libvorbis  --enable-libxvid

Assuming everything goes through:

make

sudo make install

Then finally,

export LD_LIBRARY_PATH=/usr/local/lib/

To test your installation:

ffmpeg -version

Monday, November 10, 2008

Blogging the US Constitution Index

Preamble.

Article I. [The Legislative Branch]
  • Section 1. [Legislature]
  • Section 2. [The House of Representatives]
  • Section 3. [The Senate]
  • Sections 4 & 5. [Elections and Procedural Matter]
  • Section 6. [Compensation]
  • Section 7. [Legislative Process]
  • Section 8. [Powers of Congress]
  • Section 9. [Limitations on Congress]
  • Section 10. [State Powers Given Up to Congress]
Article II. The Executive Branch
  • Section 1. [The President and the Electoral Proces]
  • Sections 2 & 3. [Powers Granted to the President]
  • Section 4. [Impeachment]
Article III. The Judicial Branch
  • Section 1. [Judicial Powers]
  • Section 2. [Trial by Jury]
  • Section 3. [Treason]
Article IV. The Federal Relationship
  • Section 1. [States to Respect Each Others' Acts]
  • Section 2. [State Citizens]
  • Section 3. [U.S Territories and New States]
  • Section 4. [Duties of the U.S. Government Toward the States]
Article V. [Amending the Constitution]

Article VI. [The United States]
  • Section 1. Responsibility for Debts
  • Section 2. Supremacy of Federal Law and Treaties
  • Section 3. Oaths of Office to Support the Constitution
Article VII. Ratification of the Constitution

Amendments
  • Amendment 1 - Freedom of Religion, Press, Expression
  • Amendment 2 - Right to bear Arms
  • Amendment 3 - Quartering of soldiers
  • Amendment 4 - Search and Seizure
  • Amendment 5 - Trial and Punishment, Compensation for Takings
  • Amendment 6 - Right to speedy trial, confrontation of witnesses
  • Amendment 7 - Trial by jury in civil cases
  • Amendment 8 - Cruel and Unusual punishment
  • Amendment 9 - Construction of Constitution
  • Amendment 10 - Powers of the States and People
  • Amendment 11 - Judicial Limits
  • Amendment 12 - Choosing the President, Vice President
  • Amendment 13 - Slavery Abolished
  • Amendment 14 - Citizenship Rights
  • Amendment 15 - Race no bar to vote
  • Amendment 16 - Income Tax authorized
  • Amendment 17 - Senators elected by popular vote
  • Amendment 18 - Liquor abolished
  • Amendment 19 - Women's suffrage
  • Amendment 20 - Presidential, Congressional terms
  • Amendment 21 - Amendment 18 repealed
  • Amendment 22 - Presidential Term Limits
  • Amendment 23 - Presidential vote for District of Columbia
  • Amendment 24 - Poll taxes barred
  • Amendment 25 - Presidential disability and succession
  • Amendment 26 - Voting age set to 18 years
  • Amendment 27 - Congressional pay increases

Friday, November 07, 2008

Virtualizing Mac OS X on Ubuntu Linux



Alright, it doesn't work great and crashes quite a bit, but at least its up and working.

If you want to get it running I'm assuming you have a licensed version of Mac OS X "Tiger" that you have copied to an .iso file.

Here's how to do it:

1. Through Synaptic or apt-get, install: pearpc
2. Next you need to create a virtual partition to install it onto. To create a 3 gig virtual drive, use the following command:

dd if=/dev/zero of=3gigharddisk.img bs=516096 seek=6241 count=0

To creating a 6 gig virtual drive:

dd if=/dev/zero of=6gigharddisk.img bs=516096 seek=12482 count=0

3. Now navigate to /etc/ppc and open ppc.conf in an editor (in root). Here is a stripped down version of my config file:


## PearPC Configuration File

## Start Resolution

ppc_start_resolution = "800x600x15"

## Redraw interval (in ms)

redraw_interval_msec = 20

## Key codes

key_toggle_mouse_grab = "F12"
key_toggle_full_screen = "Alt+Return"

## Loader

prom_bootmethod = "auto"

#prom_bootmethod = "force"
#prom_loadfile = "test/yaboot"
#prom_env_bootpath = "disk"
#prom_env_bootargs = ""
prom_env_machargs = "-v"
#prom_driver_graphic = "video.x"
#page_table_pa = 104857600

## CPU Config

#cpu_pvr = 0x00088302

## Main memory (default 128 MiB)

#memory_size=0x8000000

## IO Devices

## PCI IDE Config

pci_ide0_master_installed = 1
pci_ide0_master_image = "/media/storage2/tmp/3gigharddisk.img"
#pci_ide0_master_type = "hd"
pci_ide0_slave_installed = 1
pci_ide0_slave_image = "/media/storage2/Computer Software and Hardware/OSes/Mac OS X Install DVD/MacOSXInstallDVD.iso"
pci_ide0_slave_type = "cdrom"

## Network

pci_3c90x_installed = 0
pci_3c90x_mac = "de:ad:ca:fe:12:34"
pci_rtl8139_installed = 0
pci_rtl8139_mac = "de:ad:ca:fe:12:35"

## USB

pci_usb_installed = 1

## NVRAM

nvram_file = "nvram"

Type: sudo ppc to begin the installation process. When you get to the select a destination drive part of the installation, you need to create a partition and format it using the drive utility in the menu.

Once it finishes installing, reboot and make the following changes to the config file:

ppc_start_resolution = "1024x768x32" # or whatever you prefer

memory_size=0x20000000 #512 MiB, before I changed this it kept freezing and I would have to reboot

pci_ide0_master_installed = 1
pci_ide0_master_image = "/media/storage2/tmp/3gigharddisk.img"
#pci_ide0_master_type = "hd"
#pci_ide0_slave_installed = 1 # there is probably a better way to do this, but this is so it doesn't try to install each time
#pci_ide0_slave_image = "/media/storage2/Computer Software and Hardware/OSes/Mac OS X Install DVD/MacOSXInstallDVD.iso"
#pci_ide0_slave_type = "cdrom"

I still haven't yet gotten it connected to the internet, but as soon as I do I'll post the directions below....

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Thinking about buying a Dell laptop

Looking to buy a Dell laptop? Here are some recommendations:
  • Nowadays you want to get at least 2 gigabytes of RAM (I know it sound excessive, but if you are going to be using Vista, you will need it).
  • Avoid celeron processors (the company is not doing that great lately)
So I would probably avoid the low end Inspiron 1525 (the celeron one), the "Intel Pentium Dual Core" version definitely looks better. The XPS series is definitely the best, but only if you need all of the power it offers (but it comes at a price).

Regarding the operating system: I guess you might as well get it with Windows Vista (Dell does offer Linux Ubuntu machines, but they aren't really cheaper). That said, I've totally abandoned Windows for Linux, and don't have any desire or need to go back. Its finally at a place where it is very user friendly and just requires a slight alteration of thinking in certain respects. If you buy one with Vista, you can always try Linux and then go back if you want (but seriously, its at a place where there is no need to).

Here are the positives and negatives of using Linux, starting with the positives:
  • Much more secure: no need for antivirus, adware, or malware - there just aren't viruses out there targeting Linux machines.
  • Uses a lot less system resources: whereas you should probably have 3 gigs of RAM for Vista, 1 gig is sufficient for Linux (though I still recommend getting 2)
  • The software for it is totally and absolutely free, and has to always stay free because of the licensing agreements behind it. This means you literally NEVER have to buy software for it.
  • Its is backed by really big corporations like IBM, Sun Microsystems, and Novell, all of which pour tons of money into it.
Negatives:
  • You pretty much need a reliable internet connection to fully use its functionality
  • Some online services do not support the Linux platform yet, like Netflix (though I think it is in the works).
  • Not fully compatible with Microsoft (but its Microsoft's fault for not giving out the specifications for their software).
  • Not as compatible with mobile devices (but it depend on which mobile devices you have).
  • Some software on Linux just isn't as good as it is on Windows. In particular: audio/video editing, graphic editing, and lack of games.
  • Presently only about 1% of computer users use it, so you are more on your own (though there are lots of online resources)
My bet is that in a year or two, Linux machines will really have a strong foothold in the computer market. Dell started selling Linux machines a year ago, and Linux is now getting really big on smartphones. But all of this isn't really relevant to buying a computer, because I still recommend buying one with Vista.

Holy Shit... She thought what about Africa?

Of course it is Fox News, the the reliability is somewhat in question:

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Note

My hat's off to you McCain, its been turbulent, but I still admire you.

To the Hannitys, Limbaughs, Savages, and Levins of the world -- fuck you.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Let the Issues be the Issues

A Couple of Useful Repos for a Recently Updated Ubuntu Intrepid System

The Virtualbox 2.0.4 Intrepid Repo is not listed on the download site, but it DOES exist:

deb http://download.virtualbox.org/virtualbox/debian intrepid non-free

If you want to try OpenOffice 3.0 (which I haven't, though I'm tempted), here is the repo:

deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/openoffice-pkgs/ubuntu intrepid main

If you want to try Amarok 2.0 beta 3 (I love the direction it is going!), then you can add the following repo:

deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/project-neon/ubuntu intrepid main

To use the latest version of Wine, add the following:

deb http://wine.budgetdedicated.com/apt intrepid main #WineHQ - Ubuntu 8.10 "Intrepid Ibex"

Finally, if you want to try the beta of Songbird (0.7), you can find a link to it here.




Polling trends the past 3 presidential election cycles

Strong reason to be hopeful that the polling trends tell us something useful about who's going to win:

Beer Review Index

Blogging US Political Party Platforms

I've been obsessed with politics lately. But I've never been interested just in the two major parties. I also love to look into 3rd, 4th, and sundry minor parties (like the Boston Tea party!). In this series, I will blog the following party platforms (if I can get around to it):

Major parties
  • Democratic
  • Republican
Major Third parties
  • Constitution
  • Green
  • Libertarian
Smaller parties
  • America First
  • American Independent
  • Boston Tea
  • Centrist
  • Communist
  • Independence
  • Labor
  • Modern Whig
  • Marijuana
  • Objectivist
  • Populist
  • Prohibition
  • Reform
  • Socialism and Liberation
  • Socialist
  • Socialist Equality
  • Socialist Workers
  • Veterans
  • Workers World
Come back to this page for links to each of them!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Take an inside look inside the religious right

Bad politics. Worse theology. This is scary stuff. John Hagee is the guy who John McCain warmed up to for a while until some media scrutiny came to this relationship.

NOTE: I'm someone who loves to read the Bible and debate theology, but watching this drives me fucking crazy.

Here is the link: Vote the Bible, pt1

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Window Politicing Turf War

You know how when one person makes a political statement, someone else in the neighborhood feels like they have to make the opposing one? Well, over the past couple of weeks I've been amused at the exchange occurring in two adjacent neighborhood windows. Last night one of the neighbors (the one on the right) took it to a whole new level.



How much stupidity does it require to think this is helping your cause?

Republican Mayor Sanders Statement on Marriage Equality

Wow. You can tell he really wrestled with the issue and listened the force of his convictions. He's right: embedded in the American way is a tendency towards equality and social justice. Slavery could not withstand this tendency, and neither will other institutionalized forms of discrimination. Certain freedoms were at stake and he could not bring himself to stand up against them. Bravo, mayor.

Monday, October 27, 2008

What say you?

"And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need" - Acts 2:44-45


"From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs" - Karl Marx

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The type of conservatism I can appreciate and learn from

Conservatism has become more and more divisive, ideological, and narrow over the last decade. At least it has in its popular expositions exhibited in present political discourse. Conservatives, if they want to save their movement, need to take it back out of the hold of the self-proclaimed conservative exponents and pundits like Limbaugh, Hannity, and - in fact - the entire right-wing radio talk-show circus that only appeal to non-intellectual gut reactions of listeners who are either easly swayed by incendiary remarks or want to affirm some loose and vague notions like small government and/or social values.

Both todays conservatives and liberals are part of grand western democratic liberal tradition that they have forgotten about and that they need to re-appropriate in their thinking. Conservatives in particular need to be careful not to claim that only they have the monopoly the views of America's founding fathers (which are a significant part of this tradition) and they need to recognize the legitimacy of a spectrum of views that grow directly both out of the western tradition generally, and out of the founding fathers in particular. Not only are the vast majority of conservatives (and liberals as well) too ill informed to know what this tradition is (for example, which of you have actually read Hobbes's Leviathan or Locke's political philosophy) or the specifics of the views of Jefferson, Adams, Madison, etc, but they can't even accurately express the views of their contemporary opponents (as happens, for example, when conservatives claim that Obama is a socialist).

Here are two clips where Andrew Sullivan helps us to re-appropriate this rich tradition:

Friday, October 17, 2008

The McCain that I Love

I'm sad McCain's campaign soured me on him a little bit. This is the charming, good natured man that I really admire.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Reasons Christopher Buckley, the son of late Willliam F Buckley, no longer endorses McCain

He writes:
A year ago, when everyone, including the man I’m about to endorse, was caterwauling to get out of Iraq on the next available flight, John McCain, practically alone, said no, no—bad move. Surge. It seemed a suicidal position to take, an act of political bravery of the kind you don’t see a whole lot of anymore.

But that was—sigh—then. John McCain has changed. He said, famously, apropos the Republican debacle post-1994, “We came to Washington to change it, and Washington changed us.” This campaign has changed John McCain. It has made him inauthentic. A once-first class temperament has become irascible and snarly; his positions change, and lack coherence; he makes unrealistic promises, such as balancing the federal budget “by the end of my first term.” Who, really, believes that? Then there was the self-dramatizing and feckless suspension of his campaign over the financial crisis. His ninth-inning attack ads are mean-spirited and pointless. And finally, not to belabor it, there was the Palin nomination. What on earth can he have been thinking?
I have a hard time disagreeing with this sentiment.

How to discover the artist and name of music embedded in a video (in Linux)

It has gotten a lot easier to discover the artist of a song you hear on the radio or in a movie nowadays. Most of the times its sufficient to take down some of the lyrics and do a google search on them. But sometimes it is not so simple - think about electronica or other music without lyrics. I have a couple of clips on my computer which include samples of music that I would love to know the artist of. How, then can I find out? Here is one way that I've found (if there are better ways, please let me know by leaving a comment).

First, you need to extract the audio from the video file. For avi, mpg, or flv files you can do either:

ffmpeg -i my_video_file.avi extracted_audio.mp3

or

mplayer -dumpaudio my_video_file.avi -dumpfile extracted_audio.mp3

You may need to extract the part that you want using Audacity. Now the question is: How do we go about identifying the extracted audio?

The method I used was to install MusicBrainz Picard. which can use audio fingerprinting to identify the track. Install it and open it up. Click "Add Files" and upload your file. Double click on it and remove any potentially confusing metadata (it will assume that the filename is the name of the track). Click scan. If it has a match, it will bring up the album in which the track is found. If you have an unmatched file, right click it and do scan again. Hopefully it will identify the track in the album that you were looking for.


Monday, October 13, 2008

Streaming WLS 890 (out of Chicago) in VLC

This link seems to work in VLC, but I'm having problems getting it to work in mplayer and Amarok.

http://citadelcc-wls-am.wm.llnwd.net/citadelcc_WLS_AM

EDIT: The following works in Amarok:

mms://68.142.72.86:80/citadelcc_WLS_AM?MSWMExt=.asf

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Demonstrating the Inanity of Guilt by Association

Hannity gets his ass handed to him. That is what happens when you base your entire shtick on a tactic which is a classical instance of poor reasoning. Bravo Gibbs! And Colmes, whose admirable instinct was to defend his co-host from the charge of antisemitism should have also driven home the point that it shows the inanity of this entire line of reasoning.

Another Perspective on the debate

Neil Boortz does offer an interesting perspective on last night's debate. Check out the "Just So Frustrating" and "The Rich Should Pay Their Fair Share!" parts of today's post.

McCain said Obama "will increase taxes on 50% of small-business revenue."

Factchecking, otherwise known as due-diligence, is very important in evaluating the credibility of the candidates. Are one or both of the candidates willing to state straight-out falsehoods in order to win some cheap votes?

For example, McCain has consistently misrepresented Obama as someone who wants to raise taxes across the board, esp. on the middle class. The fantasitic site FactCheck.org has this to say about such a claim:
It's a pretty standard Republican theme: "Democrat X favors higher taxes and wasteful spending." But the McCain-Palin campaign has repeatedly pushed this line far beyond what the facts will support. Among the whoppers: that Sen. Barack Obama has voted to raise taxes on families earning as little as $32,000 per year, that Obama wants to tax your electricity and your heating oil, that he has voted for "higher" taxes 94 times, and that he will raise taxes for 23 million small-business owners. Each of these claims is false. ... As for Obama's actual plan: The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center says that 81.3 percent of all American workers and families would see a tax cut.
Last night he said that Obama's plan, "will increase taxes on 50% of small-business revenue." This is flat out blatently false (and not even close to the actual truth):
...according to the nonpartisan Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, a joint effort by two Washington think tanks, less than 3% of small businesses pay taxes in the top two brackets and could therefore see higher taxes. And for most of those small businesses, business revenue represents less than half of their income.
Other whoppers of 2008 can be found here.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Beer Review #7 (Shit Beer Edition): Busch Light


Appearance - Light yellow. Looks like ginger-ale with extra carbonation and fizz.

Smell - Corn, more corn, and sweet metal.

Taste - Corn and water, with the added flavor of the can (mmm... can). Nothing too offensive, but very boring and bland. Quintessential shit beer (they should win a prize for this).

Mouthfeel - Beer flavored seltzer water.

Drinkability - Why? I mean seriously. At least upgrade to Natural Light. Could be good for cooking (I think that's what I'm going to do with the rest).

F/1

Beer Review #6 - Rare Vos (Brewery Ommegang)



Appearance - Pours a light hazy amber with a large frothy white head that holds fairly well and leaves only a slight lacing. Lots of carbonation.

Smell - A somewhat sweet aroma, with apple notes and a little cirtrus hops.
.
Taste - A little sweet/malty, a little spicy, and ends on a sour note, though not as flavorful as the smell might portend. The most prominent flavor is that of sour apple.

Mouthfeel - Medium-bodied. Smooth, crisp, and even somewhat creamy. A little excessive on the carbonation.

Drinkability - Although somewhat muted on flavor, it's an easy and drinkable beer. I probably wouldn't drink more than two in a row, though, because the sourness gets to me

B+/7

Presidential Elections and the Electorial College going all the way back to George Washington



A fascinating trek through history (also don't forget to look at the election facts at the bottom).

American Beers and Breweries (and a little bit of autobiography)

It is only been in the past year and a half that I have come to realize that America does have some great breweries and produces some fantastic beers. Before this, I bought into the meme that almost all American beer is shit. And the fact is that like 50% of American beer sales (by vol) is from the Anheuser-Busch company alone (though is it still an American company?) - which absolutely does produce LOTS of shit: Budweiser and its derivatives (drinkable, but not really anything good about it), Michelob, Rolling Rock, Natural Light (bad beer flavored water), and Busch varieties (we're getting into the real shit).

Unfortunately, this is what a lot of Americans like. Maybe they've bought into the advertising campaign, maybe they just haven't experienced great beer, maybe they only drink beer to get drunk, or maybe they've dulled their taste-buds to the waterry sorta-beer-flavored macro varieties. You know that someone hasn't really learned to appreciate good beer when they think that Guiness (which I actually do love), Heineken, Newcastle, or Amber Bock are high-end beers (yes, I've actually had someone tell me that Amber Bock is high-end).

Nonetheless, the above is mainly what I drank until about the beginning of 2007. Then I fell in with the right crowd of people and started drinking some really good beer. I fell hard and fast for a good IPA (which is still my favorite type of beer), then I worked my way out to various types of stouts and decent APAs. I also started paying more attention to the breweries of some of my favorite beers. Below, which is by no means complete, I've listed my favorite American breweries along with some of my favorite beers from those breweries. A more complet list of great American breweries can be found here on Beeradvocate.

Stone Brewing Co. (Escondido, CA) - My favorite! For my money, consistently the best of the type of brews I like the most. Pick anything up from them!
  • Ruination IPA (DIPA) - One of my favorites. Takes Stone IPA to the next level.
  • Stone IPA (IPA) - A solid IPA. If you want a good introduction to IPAs, start here.
  • Arrogant Bastard Ale (American Strong Ale) - Check out my review here.
Rogue Ales (Ashland, Oregon) - Excellent brewer. I've yet to try a beer I didn't like from them (though I still have a lot to go).
  • Shakespeare Stout (Stout) - Smooth, dark, and balanced. I've reviewed it here.
  • Dead Guy Ale (Maibock) - Sweet and flavorful, emphasizing malt and citrus flavor.
Three Floyds Brewing LLC (Hammond, Indiana) - They have some great brews, but they also have some real doozies (at least for my tastes). Choose carefully.
  • Alpha King (APA) - Light amber, with a delicious citrus and hops flavor.
  • Gumballhead (Wheat Ale) - Citrusy (mainly orange) complemented with hops. One of my favorite wheat ales.
Brewery Ommegang (Cooperstown, NY)
  • Ommegang Abbey Ale (Dubbel)
  • Hennepin Farmhouse Saison (Saison)
  • Rare Vos Amber Ale (Belgian Dark Ale)
Bells Brewery, Inc. (Kalamazoo, Michigan)
  • Hopslam (DIPA) - VERY hoppy, and high alcohol concentration. One of my favorites for sure!
  • Two Hearted Ale (IPA)
  • Oberon (Wheat Ale) - Not the best brew in the world, but considerably better than most american beer. In the same class as Samuel Adams Boston Lager.
And lets not forget...
  • Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (APA) - I can afford to drink this often, so I do. A great session beer. I've reviewed it here.

Sneak Peak of Ryan Adam's new Abum "Cardinology"


Cardinology is due out Oct 29. If you want a sneak peak of what it will sound like, then there is a compilation of live versions of the songs here. Check it out!

First impressions: I agree with one of the commentators that it might be too jam bandy (as it was in a concert I saw him in about a year ago) and a bit more mellow than I might prefer. But even so I'm definitely looking forward to it.

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Thursday, October 02, 2008

Why I Like Neil Boortz

Even though he does parody other radio talk show hosts in certain respects (e.g., silly criticisms of Obama), he does have an independent streak in the way he looks at things. (Also, he is not boring, repetitive, or a propagantist hack for the right a la Hannity). I may not agree with what he says in today's Nealz Nuze, but at least it is a voice of fresh air in the conservative dominated radio talk shows:

JUST KEEP THE HATE MAIL COMING! (BY THE WAY, I'M NOT A REPUBLICAN)
Subject: Immaturity of American Voter
Name: Corbett

It's always some excuse with you Republicans. You present us with John McCain as your candidate & then call the American voters immature because they want nothing to do with the author of McCain-Feingold, the man who voted against tax cuts & the man who sabotaged the nomination of conservative judges.

When will you people grow up? Grown up people take responsibility for their mistakes. They don't blame others and they don't call people names for disagreeing with them.

You people nominated a sure loser. You knew he was a loser when you nominated him. Accept the responsibility for your actions & accept the inevitable defeat gracefully.

And be prepared to leave the country because Obama is going to destroy what little bit GWB has left of our liberty.

Thanks for not toeing the line (the more independent you are the better)!

How to Create a Modified, Updated Windows XP Installation Disk - A Quick Guide to Some Resources

Producing a shinny new updated Windows XP disk is easy if you have (or at least know about) the right tools. Assuming you have a XP service pack 2 installation cd (or iso), you can do any of the following if you like:
  • slipstream sp3 into it
  • incorporate hotfikes
  • incorporate, say, SATA drivers - if you want to be able to install in on many (if not most) new computers.
  • incorporate programs like: Firefox, VLC, WP11, IE7, etc.
If you want to integrate Windows Media Player 11, do this before following the instructions below. If you want to integrate drivers from DriverPacks, again, do this before using nLite.

First, make sure you have Net Framework 2.0 installed, and then get a copy of nLite and install it. Then copy the entire content of your WinXP CD in some local folder (e.g., C:\XP). Note: nLite will do copy it for you if you point it to the CD.

If you want to slipstream sp3 into the disk, download it from here.

Get all the programs you want to include in your new XP disc. You can find a ton of them at winAddons. If the program you are interested in is not here, then you can make your own using these instructions (the newest version of this program can be found here).

Although I haven't tested this, you can use this program to download hotfixes.

Download any drivers you want to slipstream (a more generic approach will be discussed below using the drivers at DriverPacks).

Alright, now you should have everything. (Again, if you want to slipstream WMP11, do this before using nLite).
Start nLite, and follow the directions. Some good tutorials on using nLite can be found here and here. I would recommend looking at all the options and getting a good sense of the program. Some more advanced resources about what you can, should, and should not do can be found here, here, and here. Also, don't forget about the MSFN forums (invaluable).

Below I'll discuss two not so obvious things you may be interested in doing when modifying the XP disk: including a large number of SATA drivers (so XP can support newer hardware) and include new files or portable applications on your new XP disk.

SATA DRIVERS

A common reason for slipstreaming XP is to include drivers that support SATA drives. If you try to install XP on your machine, but get the following error message, then this is your problem:



If you want to use nLite to slipstream the necessary drivers, you need to first download them (what they are depends on your hardware), extract them, browse to them in nLite, and select one or more .inf files to integrate.

Suppose you want to install XP on multiple computers with different harddrives? You could obviously download all the requisite drivers and follow the above instructions, but a more general approach would be to to download the SATA drivers from DriverPacks. In particular, you need DriverPacks BASE and DriverPack MassStorage. The BASE package includes a nice intuitive gui to guide you through the process.

INCLUDING ADDITIONAL FILES OR PORTABLE APPS

Portable applications are great. You can carry them around with you on a USB stick, or in the present case, you can include them on a XP installation disk if you know how. The most professionally wrapped portable apps are found here. I wanted to have the most functionality on my installation disk, so I wanted to include the Suite Standard. To do this, or to include any other files you want on your installation disk, you need to understand the $OEM$ options. An important guide for understanding this is here.

The short tutorial is that you create the $OEM$ folder parallel to the i386 folder. I wanted the Suite to be put in the "Programing Files" folder, so inside the $OEM$ folder, I created the $Progs folder and copied the extracted version of the Suite to this directory. You can use this method to copy any files or folders to the installation disk.

A more advanced tutorial can be found here.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

First Impressions of Intrepid Ibex



When Hardy first came out, I was somewhat disappointed. I was experiencing a large number of bugs and unusual system instability. I even listed some of my main complaints here and here.

I've continued to use Hardy, but I've had my eye on the next version of Ubuntu, code-named "Intrepid Ibex", which comes out at the end of the month (October). Rather than wait until it is entirely ready, two nights ago I decided to go ahead and update my entire system to Intrepid and file bug reports when needed.

(Although it is not recommended on production machines, the process of updating to the next version is really easy. It can be done running the following command: sudo update-manager -d)

So far, I've been pleased with my experience. There is nothing revolutionary about Intrepid, but it does feel a lot more stable than Hardy (ironically, even in its present alpha stage). In all honesty, it is the experience I was hoping for with Hardy. Better late than never, I guess.

For one, the whole distro seems to function better as a integrated whole. In particular I had lots of problems with PulseAudio in Hardy: crashing, applications not being properly configured to work with it, or worse yet, applications not even supporting it. Many of these problems seemed to have been fixed, although I'm still pissed with Audacity lack of PulseAudio support (come on Audacity developers - get with it already!).

One of my major complaints with Hardy was the continued instability of Flash on Firefox. I could hardly watch one or two videos on YouTube or CNN without my entire browser crashing. And its been 5 months, and it still hasn't been fixed in Hardy! But so far my experience with Intrepid has been a lot better - I've been browsing heavily for the past day and a half - watching lots of Flash-based video - and Firefox has yet to crash once. Bravo for fixing this! (Shouldn't you backport this fix to Hardy? Seriously.)

Regarding new features - there don't seem to be a great deal. They largely consist of the normal version updates on the applications included in Intrepid. For example the new version of Gnome is out, which offers tabbing in Nautilus among other things. Here are some other application updates I really like: VLC, Network Manager, and of course a newer Linux kernel. Nothing new really jumps out at me.

As of the version that I'm now testing, the Ubuntu developers have yet to finalize the artwork and theming to be included with Intrepid. They have updated the background to a darker grayish brown (which is ok, but nothing special) and they do include a new dark theme that I haven't really been able to get used to. Again, very incrimental.

There are some things that I was hoping would make it into this release but I'm doubtful will. OpenOffice 3 for one (though release candidate 3 just came out, so it might be). It has a bunch of new features that would make a nice addition to my Ubuntu experience, but even so I hope they don't decide to go with it anyway if it's not stable, like they did with Firefox last time.

I was expecting for more of a facelift of Ubuntu, with the addition of lots of good art and theming (or at least the ability to get themes easier). That said, I remain hopeful that more will make it in this release than is presently included.

I would also like major improvements to come to the Evolution client one of these days (though this is mainly work to be done for Gnome developers). In particular, I would like to see:
  • Two way syncronization with Google Calander and Contacts
  • Tab support
  • Better integration with other programs (e.g., Alarm Clocks support of birthdays should be able to access the ones in my contacts)
  • A list of other issues I've already mentioned here.
Overall, though, Intepid is a nice improvement over Hardy. In fact, my hopes for the Hardy release are now being satisfied by Intrepid. Kudos to all the Ubuntu developers!

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Beer Reviews #5 - Arrogant Bastard Ale


Appearance - A deep dark cloudy amber with soft cascading bubbles that form a large frothy white head that dissipates slowly, leaving a beautiful lacing around the glass.

Smell - A sweet piney scent (with the sweet predominating) and a touch of citrus.

Taste - Coats with mouth with a great balance of malt and hops wrapped up with an underlying caramel base.

Mouthfeel - Thick, smooth, and creamy, with a gentle carbonation. Fantastic.

Drinkability - I want to drink more, but I'm hesitant to do so when I need to wake up early. My mouth wants more for sure. Maybe one more wouldn't hurt...

A/9

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Where is dogmatism most prominent?

Politics, Religion, Science

These also happen to be the three most prominent items in the present culture wars. Historically, I wonder which of these three has lead to more deaths generally.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Hulu.com does it right

I've been watching a lot of hulu.com video's lately. Ok, so they are embedded by with ads. Not a problem. They do everything else right: high quality streaming video feed, they allow embedding, there is lots of good content, it works on multiple platforms (unlike siverlight), and the ads are not that intrusive. And they are pretty damn secure too - I've been trying to figure out if there is any way to download them, and I've yet to figure it out. Good job so far!

The Office - Season 4 Episode 14 "Goodbye Toby"

If you haven't seen The Office (the american version), then it is definitely worth checking out. Season 5 started today - I'll embed the video once I find it. For now, here is the last episode of season 4.

Beer Review #4 - Sierra Nevada Pale Ale



Appearance - Pours a light, clear amber with a medium white head that retains well and leave a nice lacing around my glass

Smell - A citrus smell, with underlying floral and pine notes.

Taste - Citrus (mainly grapefruit) and hops upfront. The bitterness from the hops is prominent. The taste lingers in the mouth.

Mouthfeel - A nicely carbonated, balanced feel. Crisp, clean,  bitter, giving way to soft creaminess.

Drinkability - Very tasty. One of my favorite pale ales (a staple of mine). Strongly recommended!

A-/8

McCain is Burning Bridges He Should Not Burn

This makes me somewhat sad. Its obvious that Letterman has great respect for John McCain, so its a shame that McCain ditched Letterman for a different interview. In response Letterman gives him a proper lashing. And Letterman's makes a great point as well: McCain should not suspend his campaign - he should have let Palin take the reigns of the campaign in his stead. (I mean, if she can't do that, how can we expect her to be ready to lead the country. The answer is obvious - she can't.) Sad. I still respect McCain, but I'm having a hard time trusting his judgment as of late.


David Letterman Reacts to John McCain Suspending Campaign

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

My favorite albums of the first decade of the 21st century

First, by year (my top 5 for each year):

2000
  1. Kid A - Radiohead
  2. Transcendental Blues - Steve Earle
  3. Heartbreaker - Ryan Adams
  4. American III: Solitary Man - Johnny Cash
  5. Since I Left You - Avalanches
2001
  1. Gold - Ryan Adams
  2. Time (The Revelator) - Gillian Welch
  3. The Swimming Hour - Andrew Bird's Bowl of Fire
  4. At Dawn - My Morning Jacket
  5. Burnside on Burnside - R.L. Burnside
2002
  1. Demolition - Ryan Adams
  2. The Creek Drank the Cradle - Iron and Wine
  3. Jerusalem - Steve Earle
  4. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot - Wilco
  5. Control - Pedro the Lion
2003
  1. Hail to the Thief - Radiohead
  2. Master and Everyone - Bonnie Prince Billy
  3. Blackberry Belle - The Twilight Singers
  4. Terroir Blues - Jay Farrar
  5. Give Up - The Postal Service
2004
  1. Real Gone - Tom Waits
  2. Set Yourself on Fire - Stars
  3. Good News for People Who Love Bad News - Modest Mouse
  4. More Adventurous - Rilo Kiley
  5. Seven Swans - Sufjan Stevens
2005
  1. Illinois - Sufjan Stevens
  2. Jacksonville City Nights - Ryan Adams and the Cardinals
  3. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
  4. I'm Wide Awaye, It's Morning - Bright Eyes
  5. Alligator - The National
2006
  1. The Dust of Retreat - Margot and the Nuclear So and So's
  2. Straight to Hell - Hank Williams III
  3. Fox Confessor Brings the Flood - Neko Case
  4. Electric President - Electric President
  5. The Crane Wife - Decemberists
2007
  1. The Shepard's Dog - Iron and Wine
  2. In Rainbows - Radiohead
  3. The Stage Names - Okkervil River
  4. We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank - Modest Mouse
  5. Person Pitch - Panda Bear
2008
  1. The Evening Descends - Evangelicals
  2. Conor Oberst - Conor Oberst
  3. The Stand Ins - Okkervil River

Alright, now my top 10 of the decade:
  1. Kid A - Radiohead
  2. Illinois - Sufjan Stevens
  3. Demolition - Ryan Adams
  4. The Shepard's Dog - Iron and Wine
  5. Transcendental Blues - Steve Earle
  6. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
  7. The Creek Drank the Cradle - Iron and Wine
  8. I'm Wide Awake Its Morning - Bright Eyes
  9. Give Up - The Postal Service
  10. Jacksonville City Nights - Ryan Adams

Monday, September 22, 2008

Bremner, Bird, and Fortune - On the economy

I just found this show. I'd never heard of it before, but it is both funny and insightful (and somewhat prophetic). Here are some clips:




Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Original Mac vs. Windows Ad



Classic, original Mac vs Windows TV Ad

Steve Ballmer selling Windows 1.0 back in the day

A word of warning, this ad is very annoying (he's trying to hype something that really sucked). It reminds me of the movie UHF. Ripe for parody and laughs.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Beer Review #3 (Shit Beer Edition): Coors Light



Some beers don't really deserve a review. Coors Light is one of them. But because I'm really poor until I get my next paycheck and I'm procrastinating right now, here's a review nonetheless. Yes, I'm even going to go through the standard rundown:

Appearance - Pours a crisp, golden color, with big bubbles that form a quick white head that disappears immediately. Looks more like a 7-up than a beer.

Smell - A little sweet, a little malt, a little chemical. The smell of cheep beer - reminds me of college.

Taste - Carbonation, water, and a touch of flavor. Mainly water. Maybe a hint of corn or grain. Drink it while it is cold, because when it warms it does aquire more of a taste, but not in a good way.

Mouthfeel - Not even sure how to address this one. Light. Watery. Gets flat fast.

Drinkability - As long as it is cold and you swallow it down quickly, its drinkable. Best after mowing the lawn (even recommended!), but other than that not much going for it. In light doses it can take the edge off. In heavy doses, its best used for shotgunning a beer or beer pong. Also surprisingly helpful when you need "hair of the dog".

D/3

Dropbox Installation on Ubuntu

A great tutorial can be found here. From the article:

In case you are wondering, Dropbox is an online storage site that allows you to back up and sync your files right from your desktop. It comes with a desktop application that you can install in your OS and backing up files is just a simple drag and drop to the Dropbox folder in your hard drive. Any files added/removed from the folder will be automatically sync with the online server as long as you are connected to the Internet.

The Science Equivalent of Religious Nutters

Apparently Michael Reiss, the first ever director of education at the prestigious Royal Society, has caused an uproar with his comments about creationism and science classes. And what did he say?

The complaints of his critics make it sound like he wants creationism taught in science class. Just listen:

Richard Roberts: "I think it is outrageous that this man is suggesting that creationism should be discussed in a science classroom. It is an incredible idea and I am drafting a letter to other Nobel laureates - which would be sent to the Royal Society - to ask that Reiss be made to stand down."

Rowan Hooper: "to the dismay of many scientists in the UK, the director of education for the Royal Society, Michael Reiss, has called for creationism to be taught in biology classes in the UK."

The only problem - these claims are false. False and easily disproven. These critics seem to have binary lenses on: viewing anyone who talks about this issue as either for creationism being taught in science class or against it. And then they take sides and try - using whatever positions they have - to bash or ban anyone that isn't totally on board with them. It reminds me of someone who gets elected head of the PTA so they can ban books they disagree with from the local library.

So what did Reiss actually claim. From this audio interview he says:
“Creationism is not science, and it should not be given equal time in science lessons, and it shouldn't be presented by science teachers as a scientifically valid alternative. But as a teacher, I'm comfortable when dealing in science lessons with what students bring to the lesson even if it isn't good science. So I would want to acknowledge without in any way ridiculing the student.... I want to acknowledge that for the student that is how they understand the world, and I can respect them for that, but I want to make it very clear that's not the way the overwhelming majority of scientists understand the world, and we have very good evidence-based reasons as to why scientists understand the world they do, and then nothing would delight me more than to get into the scientific evidence for evolution or the history of the universe.”
As can easily be seen by anyone without blinders on, Reiss is making a pedagogical point: To really teach students in science class, you have to address their concerns without alientating them. Woh. Radical. He should be fired.

His point isn't to teach creationism in science classes, its to teach creationists in science classes. Its to teach the widening percentage of creationists that are already in the classrom the rules of evidence-based reasoning that is the halmark of science, and why this reasoning supports the theory of evolution.

You can read one of the more sane blog posts on the issue here. And if you really can't get enough, checkout the Slashdot post here.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Tina Fey As Sarah Palin On SNL (VIDEO)

Spot on. Brilliant!


Hillary Clinton Sarah Palin Press Conference

A more stable link is found here, but it starts with an ad:

Friday, September 12, 2008

How to get Live Video from Fox News on Ubuntu

Lately a bunch of sites have been moving from Flash to either Silverlight or Adobe AIR for their video feeds. Unfortunately, neither are officially supported yet on the Linux platform in general, or on Ubuntu in particular (that said, there is a lot of hard work being done to change this: check out mono and Adobe AIR for Linux).

Its easy to feel left behind. For example, I wanted to watch the live feed from foxnews.com on the huricane Ike. Unfortunately, it requires Adobe AIR. What could I do? I'm not one to feel sorry for myself, so I figured I'd do some hacking and tinkering around and see if I could get it to work anyway. And I did! Here is what you need to do:
  1. First, download the alpha of Adobe AIR for Linux here.
  2. Using the command line navigate to the download, and type: chmod 755 adobeair_linux_*.bin
  3. Type: ./adobeair_linux_*.bin [this will execute gksu automatically]
  4. Follow the directions. Once it is installed: close and restart Firefox [I'm not sure this step is necessary, but its not going to hurt]
  5. To install the Fox News Live Adobe AIR application, go to http://www.foxnews.com/video2/FoxNewsLive.air
  6. It should ask you if it can open it with Adobe AIR. Say yes. Follow the directions and it should work!
By default, it installs it in /opt/FOX News Live/. If you want to re-start the application, navigate to this directory and run the following command: ./FOX\ News\ Live

You can delete the applications in Synamptic Package Manager

To uninstall Adobe AIR: dpkg -r adobeair-enu

Although it seems somewhat choppy, it works. Hope this helps somebody!

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Comments on Sarah Palin Interview

She didn't do a horrible job, but definitely didn't hit the ball out of the park. The partisan right is on the defensive on this one, blaming Charlie Gibson and the "leftist" media for the weak performance. The partisan left, on the other hand, is going to view this interview as clear indication that she doesn't know what she's talking about (as if a good performance would have changed their minds).

One of the main problems, though, was the fact that the McCain campaign shielded her from the media for two weeks, which indicates that she's not ready for the office on day one. So its no surprise that Gibson made this the focus of his interview. Her fairly canned responses didn't indicate to me that she has thought in an independent fashion about many of these questions.

Where all the questions fair? Not really. The one about the "Bush Doctrine" seemed to me to be problematic, for example. There are two ways to look at it:

  1. It could be seen as a "gotcha" question - where Gibson poses it to embarrass Palin, implicature being: "What, you don't know what the Bush Doctrine is?" As if we all do or should. I keep up a fair bit with politics, and I have admittedly heard the phrase before, but when he posed the question I wasn't sure what he was referring to. I would also be caught off-guard if someone asked me about the "Powell Doctrine" or the "Clinton Doctrine" as well.
  2. It could also be seen as a "insider-baseball" question. This is how I read it. But obviously on this interpretation it is not exactly fair - because, as everyone already knows, SHE IS NOT A WASHINGTON INSIDER. It takes a while to get accustomed to any insider language game.
Either way, there is a lot of catching up for her to do.

The only other question that really interested me was the one about whether or not she had any doubts or self-doubts about her ability to handle the responsibilities of the vice-presidency. Her response was, basically, that she had "no doubts". Now maybe from a campaign and leadership perspective, this was the answer she should have given. I don't know, but that doesn't really interest me (though it is certainly relevant). What I care about more a matter of honesty, and self-honesty in particular. Anyone who doesn't have doubts doesn't know what they are in for. Someone without doubts has either got to have huge blinders or a very simple view of the world. It is, as Gibson rightly noted, a matter of "hubris". She ought to have had doubts about this tiny little inteview, let alone... THE VICE-PRESIDENCY.




Sarah Palin ABC Interview Charles Gibson

Beer Review #2: Rogue Shakespeare Stout

This one is one of my favorite stouts.


Appearance - Dark and smooth. The medium head is infused with brown, and laces the glass nicely.

Smell - Hints of chocolate and a little bit of coffee. A touch of roasted malts.

Taste - Starts with a malty taste, espresso middle, and then ends on a sweet chocolaty note. Once its down, it leaves a hoppy bitterness, making my mouth want the next sip. Complex, delicious.

Mouthfeel - VERY well balanced, somewhat creamy. My mouth sooo approves.

Drinkability - I want to drink this slowly, enjoying each mouthful. Not too heavy.

A+/10

Thursday, September 11, 2008

McCain Campaign ad on Obama on Sex Education to Kindergartners

This ad is a new low for the McCain campaign - it is pure slime. Unforgivably so. This is Rovean politics at its worst. Remember your out-of-wedlock black baby, McCain? Yeah, this shit is in the same league. It's been thoroughly debunked here. I hope Carville is right (the second video) and that McCain didn't really know about it. I still believe that McCain is an honorable, decent person. I hope he repudiates it and fires those who put his name on this despicable ad.




Education




Carville: McCain Too Honorable to Have Approved Sleazy Ad

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Obama: ENOUGH!

"I love this country too much to let them take over another election with lies and phony outrage and swift boat politics. Enough is enough!" - Obama

Couldn't agree more, the phony outrage pisses me off.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Sarah Palin and the Hypocrisy of Political Hacks

One of my favorite recent Daily Show clips:

Barack Obama on O'Reilly - Part 2

Part 1 can be found here.



Barack Obama v. Bill O'Reilly - Part 2 of 5 - Sept 8 2008

Introducing Ubuntu 9.04: Jaunty Jackalope

Mark Shuttleworth just sent out an message giving the broad sketches of his vision for the iteration of Ubuntu after Intrepid Ibex, code named "Jaunty Jackalope". One thing I love about the way that Ubuntu code names work is that they are meant to reveal something about the focus of that development cycle, and ultimately the distribution itself. In the message Shuttleworth reveals three primary goals for Jaunty, which he decribes as follows:
  1. "The Jackalope is known for being so fast that it's extremely hard to catch, and breeds only when lightning flashes. Let's see if we can make booting or resuming Ubuntu blindingly quick."
  2. "Another goal is the the blurring of web services and desktop applications. "Is it a deer? Is it a bunny? Or is it a weblication - a desktop application that seamlessly integrates the web!""
  3. "Those bizarre-but-fearsome antlers might well remind one of the intricate pattern of collaboration between developers in a distributed version control system. So it's fitting that Jaunty will see us move all of Ubuntu into Bazaar. For the first time, any developer will be able to branch any Ubuntu package with a single bzr command, publish their changes, and perhaps even publish builds of that package in their own Package Archive."



This weeks noteworthy software releases

Tons of user agent information you can import into User Agent Switcher Firefox addon

If you use Firefox, but occasionally need to pretend your browser is IE, Safari, or even the Iphone browser, you can using User Agent Switcher and the user-agents provided here by Brent Strange (thanks!). The import file includes the following spoofs:

Internet Explorer
MSIE 8 (Win Vista)
MSIE 8 (Win XP)
MSIE 7 (Win Vista)
MSIE 7 (Win XP)
MSIE 7 (Win Storage Server)
MSIE 6 (Win XP)
MSIE 5.5 (Win 2000)
MSIE 5.5 (Win ME)
MSIE 5.0 (Win 95)
MSIE 4.01 (Win 95)
MSIE 4.0 (Win NT)

FireFox

FireFox 2.0.12 (Win Vista)
FireFox 2.0 (Win XP)
FireFox 1.5.0.6 (Fedora Core 5/Linux)
FireFox 1.5.0.4 (Debian Linux)
FireFox 1.5.0.3 (Mac OSX)
FireFox 1.5.0.1 (Win Vista)
FireFox 1.5 (Win XP)
FireFox 1.4 (Win XP)
FireFox 1.0.7 (Win XP)
FireFox 1.0.6 (Win XP)
FireFox 1.0.5 (SlackWare/Linux)
FireFox 1.0.4 (FreeBSD)
FireFox 1.0 (Win XP)
FireFox 0.9.3 (Win XP)

Opera

Opera 9.1 (Win XP)
Opera 8.0 (Win 2000)
Opera 7.6 (Server 2003)
Opera 7.51 (Win XP)
Opera 7.5 (Win XP)
Opera 7.5 (Win ME)
Opera 4
Opera 3
Opera 2
Opera 1

Netscape

Netscape 8.1(Win XP)
Netscape 8.0.1 (Win XP)
Netscape 7.2 (Win 2000)
Netscape 7.1 (Win 98)
Netscape 4.8 (Win XP)
Netscape 4.76 (Win 98)
Netscape 4.5 (Win 98)
Netscape 4.05 (Win 95)
Netscape 3.01 gold (Win 95)
Netscape 2.02 (Win 95)

Safari

Safari 3.0 (v521)
Safari 2.0 (v418.9.1)
Safari 2.0 (v412)
Safari 2.0 (v401)
Safari 1.3 (v162)
Safari 1.3 (v158)
Safari 1.3 (v146)
Safari 1.2(v125.8; OSX 10.3.4)
Safari 1.1 (v100.1; OSX 10.3.2)
Safari 1.0 (v85)
Safari 1.0 (v74 beta 2)
Safari 1.0 (v73 beta 2)
Safari 1.0 (v64 beta)
Safari 1.0 (v51 update 1.0 beta)
Safari 1.0(v48 public beta)

AOL

AOL 9.0/MSIE 6.0 (Win XP)
AOL 8.0/MSIE 6.0 (Win XP)
AOL 7.0/MSIE 5.5 (Win 98)
AOL 6.0/MSIE 5.5 (Win 98)
AOL 5.0/MSIE 5.0 (Win 98)
AOL 5.0 (OS X)
AOL 5.0 (Mac PPC)
AOL 4.0/MSIE 3.02 (Win 95)
AOL 4.0/MSIE 4.01 (Win 95)
AOL 4.0 (Mac PPC)
AOL 4.0 (Mac 68k)
AOL 4.0/MSIE 3.0(Win 3.1)
AOL 3.0/MSIE 3.02 (Win 95)
AOL 3.0/MSIE 4.01 (Win 95)

Mozilla

Mozilla 1.7.8 (Linux)

Spiders/Bots

Googlebot 2.1 (New version)
Msnbot 1.0
Msnbot 1.0 Beta (v0.11)
Yahoo Slurp
Ask Jeeves/Teoma

RSS Readers

NewsGator 2.5 (Win XP)
Feed Demon 1.6 (Win XP)
Bloglines 2.1
SharpReader 0.9.6.0 (Win XP)

WAP Devices

Nokia 6630
Nokia 6100
BlackBerry 8703
iPhone (3.0 Mobile)

Toolbars

Google Toolbar 4.0
Hotbar 4.4.2
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Thursday, September 04, 2008

Live-Blogging McCain

Overall, I was extremely annoyed by the crowd, but the speech was not that bad. The fact that Obama and McCain are the two presidential candidates attests to the fact that the conservative movement is languishing.

10:57 - His war story. Its worth hearing.

10:55 - He is trying to be post-partisian. It is falling flat on the crowd, but his record here is solid. This is a slap on the face of partisan hacks. This is why I've always liked McCain.

10:53 - A lot of what he says is an implicit criticism of the Bush administration. Good.

10:50 - Foreign policy segment. Nothing concrete, but his emphasis on working with other countries is a breath of fresh air. And his blunt claim that war is evil is very much needed. Reminds me of Obama's claim in Saddleback that sometimes much evil is done in the name of good.

10:47 - Constantly misrepresenting Obama's views, esp. on energy. Besides the Republican base's short-sighted emphasis on "drill here, drill now" I don't think McCain and Obama's positions are that different in terms of taking a multi-pronged approach to the issue.

10:45 - His ideas on education are worth pursuing. This is a big issue for me, and I side more with McCain here.

10:42 - His claims about Obama's tax plans are easily debunked. Look here.

10:38 - Republican talking points, not much of substance here.

10:36 - Not a visionary speech so far. Mainly focused on past record and anecdotes. It would be better to focus more on the future.

10:33 - McCain does have the record he speaks of. This in fact is what makes conservatives nervous.

10:30 - Right now a bit heavy on the cliches.

10:26 - starting a couple of min. late. Did see his respectful stance towards Obama. It is easy to grow bitter, but McCain does not seem to be a bitter man.


Beer Review #1 - Pomme Lambic (Lindermans)



Appearance - This beer is a translucent mix of orange, yellow, and brown. Reminds me of frothy unfiltered apple juice. Lots of sediment.

Smell - Heavy sour apple smell. Pungent, and very sweet.

Taste - Sweet (too much for my taste), ending on a sour, tart note. Takes a couple of sips for my mouth to adjust to it.

Mouthfeel - The carbonation stimulates my tongue, making it a pleasure to roll it around my mouth. If it weren't so sweet, I'd let it linger longer. Smooth going down, but sticky on the lips.

Drinkability - Overall I like it, but I'm sure I can find one better suited to me. The sweet overwhelms the subtlety this beer might otherwise have.

B-/6 (out of 10)

Btw, here's how my point scale relates to my letter scale:

10: A+
9: A
8: A-
7: B+
6: B-/B
5: C/C+
4: C-
3: D/D+
2: D-/F
1: F

Monday, September 01, 2008

Customize Google firefox extension stopped working

Recently, one of my favorite firefox addons stopped working: CustomizeGoogle. This extension provided search suggestions when typing a query into google. Unfortunately, for some reason it stopped. After following the directions on the addon website and some additional fiddling, I was able to get it working again. Here's how:

Set http://www.google.com as your homepage, not the one with the Firefox logo on it

Disable Google Suggest in CustomizeGoogle.

Click on preferences on www.google.com and make sure "Provide query suggestions in the search box" is selected.

Click Save Preferences.

Clear your cache (without doing this it still didn't work for me).

EDIT: Doesn't seem to work with Google UK. More info can be found here.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Friday, August 29, 2008

McCain and Palin

I'm not voting for him, I really do like McCain. Although I don't know much about Palin (besides a cursory overview), I like the spirit behind the choice. She's fiscally conservative, but apparently doesn't always toe the line of the GOP base. She can give us a better perspective about our energy resources in Alaska, and she is a new face that challenges the Democratic Party's characterization of McCain as the same-old,same-old. Regardless of who wins, this is going to be a historic election.

One other thing: if you haven't seen this ad by McCain, its worth seeing:

Virtualizing Ubuntu Intrepid In VirtualBox

If you've trying this on any of the alpha releases of Intrepid, you've probably gotten a kernel panic while its trying to boot up. If you've had this trouble, then apparently there is good news on the horizon. According to the main bug reporting page, a fix has been recently committed. I'll test it out in the next couple of days and post any instructions or tips on getting it to work. Check back!

The Democratic Strategy of Linking McCain to Bush

I understand why they are trying to tightly link McCain to Bush - Bush is unpopular now and the closer you can tie the two the more likely voters will feel uncomfortable with McCain. The only problem is - of all Republican senators - McCain has been one of the most visible and staunch critics of Bush during his presidency. While most other Republicans either fell in line or else criticized Bush for not being conservative enough, McCain was constantly in the news for opposing Bush policies. Boortz (who's very amusing, though I very rarely agree with his opinions) has a good list of issues where Bush and McCain did not agree:
  • McCain fought for campaign finance reform — McCain-Feingold — that Bush resisted and ultimately signed because he had no choice.
  • McCain led the battle to restrict interrogation techniques of terror suspects and to ban torture.
  • McCain went with Joe Lieberman on a tough measure to curb climate change, something Bush denies is going on.
  • McCain opposed the Bush tax cuts when they passed.
  • McCain urged the Iraq surge, a posture Bush rejected for years before conceding its wisdom.
  • McCain favors FDA regulation of tobacco and sponsored legislation to that effect, a position all but a handful of Republican senators oppose.
  • McCain's energy bill, also with Lieberman, is a virtual blueprint for energy independence and development of alternate sources.
  • After the Enron scandal, McCain introduced sweeping reforms in corporate governance and legislation to guarantee pensions and prohibit golden parachutes for executives. Bush opposed McCain's changes and the watered-down Sarbanes-Oxley bill eventuated.
  • McCain has been harshly critical of congressional overspending, particularly of budgetary earmarks, a position Bush only lately adopted (after the Democrats took over Congress).
In other words, this democratic bundling strategy caries little weight with me, as I think it should with anyone who has been politically informed over the years. Of course, they should use the political climate to their advantage, but I don't think it should be their only strategy. They should also use an entirely different strategy, one that is not entirely dependent upon people's present discontent. The strategy I have in mind would be to ask how they would sell their case if President Bush were not nearly as unpopular. They should be trying to showcase the intrinsic value of their view over that of their opponents (without negating the valid concerns of their opponents). This way they wouldn't have to rely on the populace's ignorance of the differences between Bush and McCain or merely on their present contingent discontent.