Category Archives: Technology

What? A Sane Defense Policy?

The Obama administration has taken a whole series of steps towards a sane defense policy. This is diametrically opposed to a foolish and expensive policy that believes any defense action or spending is good, especially if it looks aggressive.

So now we’ve eliminated a few hundred billion of spending on missile defense shields that don’t work. There’s a reason we called ballistic missile defense “Star Wars” back in the 1980s: it’s never been more than science fiction. At least Newsweek is getting it right – it may look good on a TV news graphic, but that’s not the same as working in the Real World.

Continue reading What? A Sane Defense Policy?

Cantankerous Software

I’ve reverted to my preferred WordPress theme and things seem to work again. I have no idea why things got messed up and then un-messed up.

Perhaps things will Go South again in a day or two. Meanwhile let’s see if things just cleared up on their own.

I hate it when things like this happen. Computers are supposed to be predictable fergoshsakes.

Making Absentee Ballots Work

During the recount of Minnesota’s US Senate race, both campaign committees contacted our daughter about her absentee ballot. It turns out that her ballot had been rejected because “the signatures didn’t match.”

This is one of those arbitrary ballot challenges that can probably apply to anyone. It makes me wonder if absentee ballots are a wasted effort for activist college students. A knowledgeable campaign worker may know of her political leanings and disputed the signatures on that basis.

How do we prevent such things from happening? Is this an authentication problem? How arbitrary are the challenges made against absentee ballots?

Continue reading Making Absentee Ballots Work

Bad Internet!

According to the CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment, the Internet has been really bad for film making. CEO Michael Lynton was, of course, talking about copyright. This was at a breakfast panel discussion on the future of film making sponsored by Syracuse U. and the New Yorker.

Co-panelist Nora Ephron zeroed in on what really worries folks like Lynton: the potential death of copyright and what this does to their corporate empires. She equated the Hollywood film business to a giant Ponzi scheme that enriches a few at the top.

If anything, the Internet is pushing the content-production business back to its roots: creating “shows” that draw a quick crowd and pay for themselves immediately. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. A lot of great productions were made on a shoestring.

Continue reading Bad Internet!

Reading ebooks on your Palm PDA

I have exactly two types of custom applications on my Palm PDA – things I added to the standard bundle – encrypted password storage and ebook reading. At present I have two separate ebook applications: eReader from Palm and “Plucker,” an open source application that appears abandoned.

I acquired Plucker because Project Gutenberg (the source of almost all of my ebooks) now includes a “Plucker format” option. It’s incredibly annoying that, by 2008, ebook software developers haven’t managed to support a reasonable range of book formats. Plucker is supposed to be free software, so there’s no reason not to support it everywhere. Or, for that matter, why can’t an ebook reader incorporate some moderately simple heuristics to reformat plain old ASCII text for reading on a PDA? Continue reading Reading ebooks on your Palm PDA

Thoughts on a District Website

I’m the chairman of the local scouting district, and our new district executive has taken the lead on moving our web site to a content management system. The council is using Dot Net Nuke for this, so we just had a morning of training on it.

So I’m taking some time here to write down my thoughts on how to organize a district web site. These observations take a particular eye towards using Dot Net Nuke as the host platform. Continue reading Thoughts on a District Website