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Happy Day Against DRM

Books are 50% off at O'Reilly today, using code DRMFREE. (This includes my book, Clojure Programming, by the way...) I'm a bit late with this, given the offer expires in 9 hours, but there's still time.

Whether you want to buy books today or not, it's worth pointing out that today is International Day Against DRM!

Day Against DRM

May 04, 2012 @ 6:23 AM PDT
Cateogory: Rants

I don't have cancer

2011 was an interesting year. A year of firsts!

  • I worked on my first book, Clojure Programming (soon to be released, in fine bookstores near you).
  • I bought my first house.
  • The first of my maternal grandparents died.

Hmm, kind of took a turn for the worst there. Then, one fine sunny day in 2011, sitting at my favorite pub, enjoying my favorite beer, I started coughing up blood. Another first!

April 04, 2012 @ 7:29 AM PDT
Cateogory: Rants
Tags: Rant

2010 in review

Another year down the drain. A good year, in the end.

2010 Geek Achievements

  1. Wrote some code...
    • cow-blog - The engine running this blog.
    • oyako - Clojure ORM library.
    • gaka - CSS compiler for Clojure
  2. Finished a huge project for work, my first AJAX-y web app (in Rails). That was fun, albeit stressful.
  3. Learned a lot of git.
  4. Learned a lot of Clojure.
  5. Learned a lot of Emacs.
  6. Learned a lot of Javascript.
  7. Learned a lot of PostgreSQL. It's good to be free of MySQL.
  8. Switched to ZSH. This was a good switch.
  9. Tried to learn a lot of Japanese, but kind of fizzled out at the end of the year.
  10. Alllllllmost got a Clojure gold badge on Stack Overflow. I'll get it soon though. Not losing any sleep over it either way.
  11. Read a lot of books. The best: probably Feynman's books of anecdotes.
  12. Blogged a bit. Got an article in Hacker Monthly. Was flamed repeatedly. Learned a lot in the process.

2010 Non-Geek Achievements

  1. Immigrated to Canada. A good move, without a doubt.
  2. Lost 25ish lbs. :)
  3. Learned how to cook better.
  4. My most important achievement from 2010 is actually non-geek: I finally obtained a bit of an offline social life. This is not an easy task for one such as myself.
  5. Continued to learn to appreciate good beer. Longwood Dunkelweizen, mmm.

2010 Failures

  1. Did not blog enough.1
  2. Did not write enough code.1
  3. Missed the first Clojure Conj. Maybe next year.
  4. Re-gained 10ish lbs. :( 2

Plans for 2011

  1. Re-lose 25ish pounds. I'd like to reach the weight I had in college.
  2. Finish my rewrite of oyako. I have ambitious plans for it, if I can just find the time.
  3. Finish my rewrite of cow-blog to match oyako.
  4. Keep working on the RPG my wife and I are creating (in Clojure).
  5. Attend the next Clojure Conj, I hope.
  6. Learn more Clojure.
  7. Learn Haskell? Trying and failing to learn Haskell has become somewhat of a tradition, no sense stopping now.
  8. Learn all 2000+ jouyou kanji by the end of the year.
  9. Supar sekrit projekt. But I haven't signed the contract for it yet so I won't talk about it until I do.
  10. Maintain social life at acceptable levels.
  11. Buy a house.

I feel like I have solid plans for completing each of these things. Blogging more often and finishing oyako are high on my list of priorities. I expect 2011 to be my most productive year to date.

  1. See also, non-geek achievement #4, "Obtained social life".

  2. See also non-geek achievement #3, "Learned how to cook better".

January 05, 2011 @ 2:10 AM PST
Cateogory: Rants
Tags: 2010, Clojure

iPad? More like iAd. Vertisements.

Via Slashdot, it seems soon you may be able to subscribe to newspapers on the iPad in the near future.

Sure. Why pay $10 for a paper copy of something when you can pay the same $10 for a likely-DRM'ed copy that can only be read on a $500 portable computer?

In all honesty though, instant delivery, lack of clutter, "take it anywhere", being able to archive issues indefinitely, text search... those features might be worth the money, if it was a really good newspaper/magazine.

But wait, there's more.

The Cupertino company has agreed to provide an opt-in function for subscribers to allow Apple to share with publishers their information, which includes vital data that news organizations use to attract advertisers, industry sources say.

...

While the leap into the digital tablet market comes with short-term problems for newspapers, the iPad and future tablets will provide a new digital palette for publications to create sophisticated and lucrative ads, said Needham & Co. analyst Charles Wolf.

"I would say it's a risk, but I would argue it's a short-term risk," Wolf said. "If you can put animation and multimedia into ads, that will greatly enhance reader views. I am certain of that."

So as I understand it, first I buy a $500 gadget. Then I pay for a newspaper subscription. Then a bunch of companies want me to give them personal information about myself, so they can share it amongst themselves. And then I have to view ads.

Animated ads.

The only thing better would be if the iPad also woke you up at 4AM and tried to sell you life insurance. Maybe Apple would let me install a free ad-blocker script for my news reader though. It is my hardware, after all... pfffft, yeah, I could't keep going with a straight face.

And thus my desire to get an iPad, kind-of sort-of building over the past couple of months, once again flatlines.

September 16, 2010 @ 11:43 AM PDT
Cateogory: Rants

Dell: the aftermath

In a previous post I outlined the ways in which Dell's customer service sucks. I finally got my computer yesterday, a Studio XPS 9000. Here are my first impressions.

July 08, 2010 @ 4:11 AM PDT
Cateogory: Rants
Tags: Hardware, Dell

Dell sucks

Why did I order a computer from Dell? I guess I had a good opinion from 6 years ago when I last bought something from them.

Let's count the ways in which their customer service has failed me. (And my computer isn't even here yet.)

  1. As documented, their website couldn't process my credit card without a phone call.

  2. After a week of my computer being "in production", I started getting more phone calls from an unidentified phone number that Google told me was Dell. Fearing another billing problem, I called back. And I was told "Thanks for calling, but our order tracking system is down. And we're all going home. Call back tomorrow morning.".

    If only Dell had some means to acquire reliable computer systems on which to build their order tracking database.

  3. I called the next day and was told my order was fine. I was also told (per script, I'm certain) that I could check my order status on Dell's website. Which of course I knew. I know it costs the company money every time someone calls, and they try to strongly discourage calls for that reason, but their script made it sound like I was an imbecile.

    I found it quite condescending. I dislike these canned scripts pander to the lowest common denominator of customer. They should be happy to take my call. I just spend upwards of a thousand dollars on their crap.

  4. Turns out the phone calls I was getting were from someone trying to give me "free internet from Shaw or Telus for 3 months", and I was eligible because I bought a Dell computer. So I was being telemarketed before my computer even got here.

    I said I already had internet service, and they said "Oh, too bad, it's for new customers only." I do not appreciate this.

  5. I got an email saying my order shipped. Joy! 20 minutes later I got an email saying my order was delayed, and if it didn't ship in 5 days I should call. What?

    It really did ship though, I have a tracking number. Why the contradictory emails?

All of my phone dealings with Dell were via some offshored far-eastern country, judging by the accents of the phone reps. I have nothing against this in principle; I'm not a xenophobe. But the phone connection is always so static-filled and laggy that it really puts a damper on communication.

My computer isn't here yet, and I just hope to God it works and doesn't break in a month. I kind of wish this article had come out a week earlier.

That'll teach me for trying to save time, I guess. Next time I'll build my own system from scratch. Dell goes onto my List of Companies Not to Buy From in the Future (LCNBFF), along with Westinghouse and oh so many others.

July 02, 2010 @ 3:57 AM PDT
Cateogory: Rants
Tags: Hardware, Dell

I am an edge case

I am an alien. An American who emigrated to Canada. This has resulted in a lot of fun and a bit of pain as I've managed to break the systems of many of the businesses I deal with.

As a programmer I can appreciate the importance (and sometimes difficulty) of handling edge cases. It's been an interesting experience living as an edge case myself.

June 30, 2010 @ 3:03 AM PDT
Cateogory: Rants

Ads on license plates?

What if when your car stops at a red light, your license plate displays ad banners? What could possibly go wrong?

Quoth the person(?) who wrote this bill:

"We're just trying to find creative ways of generating additional revenues," he said. "It's an exciting marriage of technology with need, and an opportunity to keep California in the forefront."

The forefront of annoying the hell out of people. Certainly what I need is more distractions on the road. I mean, what if there's a new brand of toothpaste and I didn't find out yet? Someone somewhere needs to earn a dime for telling me about it by any means necessary.

I'm just waiting for the first company to propose paying new parents a few hundred dollars to tattoo ads on their babies.

June 20, 2010 @ 3:09 PM PDT
Cateogory: Rants

Printer spam: what could possibly go wrong?

As further evidence that there are no depths to which companies won't stoop when it comes to advertising, HP has come up with a great idea: Get people to hook their printers up to the internet and then spew advertisements out of their printers.

Well, it's a win-win situation for the companies doing the advertising: Not only will people see your ads, they'll pay for the ink and paper to print them. Maybe not such a great situation for the end-user though.

And then there are the privacy implications of targeting ads based on geolocating the IP address of the printer. Which I find a bit disturbing, but I guess advertisers already do that with online ads. But wait, there's more:

Ads can also be targeted based on a user's behavior as well as the content, said Vyomesh Joshi, head of the HP's Imaging and Printing Group.

Looking at what I'm printing so you can try to sell me things? Just a bit creepy.

Most troubling to me is the intrusiveness of the whole thing. They're taking control of a physical object in my house and using it against me. May as well kidnap my cat and train him to spell out "BUY PEPSI" in his cat litter.

Quote some slimeball at HP:

"What we discovered is that people were not bothered by it [an advertisement]," Nigro said. "Part of it I think our belief is you're used to it. You're used to seeing things with ads."

Translation: "We know this is a really horrible idea, but if people are complacent enough to sit there and take it without complaint, what's stopping us?"

He's right though, people are used to it.

I guess TV, radio, internet, phones, product placement in movies and games, print media, billboards and the postal service just aren't enough. Clearly what the world really needs is another ad-delivery mechanism.

June 17, 2010 @ 3:59 AM PDT
Cateogory: Rants

Windows7 Crash of the Day

Crash

I should start a running series of these.

April 28, 2010 @ 2:29 AM PDT
Cateogory: Rants