Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Last Google Toolbar PageRank Update of 2008

Matt Cutts has confirmed that Google has again updated the PageRank displayed on the Google Toolbar. Looking at my blogs it seems to be effective approximately Dec 16th. I have some blog posts from the 15th and before with pagerank. On the 16th I have one post with a pagerank and several without. On the 17th none of my posts have pagerank. This means while the pagerank was displayed today, the data used is from about December 16th, I believe.

The displayed pagerank is more fun than a measure that can be relied on. But I still find it fun to look at the pagerank values - except when they go down for my sites :-(

Check the current pagerank on your sites using our related site: Multiple Site PageRank checker. Updates from our Google PageRank Update, July 2008:

Curious Cat Investing and Economics Blog - 4 (July 2008), 4 (December 2008)
Curious Cat Engineering and Science Blog - 5, 5
curiouscat.com - 3, 3
externs.com - internship directory - 4, 4
Statistics for Experimenters - 3, 4
CSS 4 Free - 4, 5
Wordpress Themes for Free (new site from November) already a 3 Google pagerank.
Curious Cat Management Improvement Connections (one of my most popular pages since 1997) - 3, 3
Multi Site PageRank Checker - 1, 3
John Hunter 4, 4
Life and Legacy of William Hunter (my father) ?, 4
Justin Hunter (my brother) ?, 2
Curious Cat Articles and Links (this blog) - 3, 3
Curious Cat Management Improvement (v.1) I started the blog on blogger and then moved it to my own domain using WordPress in 2006, still it retains a pagerank of 3
My Kiva page ?, 3
Reddit management (new in September) 0
Curious Cat Web Directory 3, 4
Rocky Mountain National Park photos ?, 2
Boston Museum of the Fine Arts, Glacier National Park Photos, Parfrey's Glen, Wisconsin Photos, The Cloisters Museum and the Museum of Modern Art, Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, Kentucky ? , 0 ( much of the Curious Cat Travels seems to be without pageranks - which seems odd to me but...)

The Curious Cat Engineering and Science Blog has actually been a pagerank 6 before, but I think it is a high 5 (of course I may be biased and that is just wishful thinking). Many brand new posts for example have ranks of 4, likely because they were on the home page when the snapshot was taken - Bird Brain, Passion for Mechanical Engineering, High School Inventor Teams @ MIT...). Another thing this means is those pages are really not pagerank 4 even today. The toolbar snapshot from Dec 16th shows them that way but only because that was the value on Dec 16th.



Now, I would guess they are probably really pagerank 2 or so. If I just look back at say random posts in August 2008 (or really any month) they will be between 0 and 3. I really don't understand the differences between say 0 and 2. While there is some difference, most of those pages have 0 links from external sites. And then I will have a small number of posts that get significant external links that maybe be 3,4 and even 5 pageranks: The Engineer That Made Your Cat a Photographer, Sep 2007, pr 3, Best Research University Rankings, Sep 2008, pr 4; Economic Strength Through Technology Leadership, Jul 2007, pr 4

In my experience it is often more telling how the pagerank of internal pages. I find it that there are many sites with say a pagerank of 3 or 4, or even 5, on the home page but almost no pagerank on internal pages. While other sites with a pagerank of 3 or 4 have many internal pages with pagranks of 1, 2, 3 and 4,

Related: Google's Displayed PageRank - Web Page Authority

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Festivus



Festivus airing of the grievances.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Don't Forget Your About Page

The about page of a blog is often neglected. There are different options for what to emphasize, but I think it is wise to include an overview of the blog and links to some posts you would suggest for first time visitors. Think of it as a way of helping someone decide if they want to subscribe to the blog feed. Here are some of my blog about examples:

Curious Cat Engineering Blog - Curious Cat Investing and Economics Blog - Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog - Free CSS Web Site Templates Blog

Related: Build Your Online Presence - Gallery of Free WordPress Themes - Seth Godin on Marketing and the Internet

Sunday, December 14, 2008

16 Useful .htaccess Tricks and Hacks For Web Developers

16 Useful .htaccess Tricks and Hacks For Web Developers

6. Hotlinking protection with .htaccess is very important because anyone can hot link to your images and eat up all your bandwith of your server. The following code will help you to prevent that.

Options +FollowSymlinks
# Protect Hotlinking
RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^$
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http://(www\.)?domainname\.com/ [nc]
RewriteRule .*\.(gif|jpg|png)$ http://domainname.com/img/hotlink_f_o.png [nc]
...
11. Block access to your .htaccess file - By adding he following code to your htaccess file will prevent attempts to access your htaccess file. This extra layer of security protects your htaccess file by displaying a 403 error message on the browser.

# secure htaccess file

order allow,deny
deny from all

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Watching the Watchmen

Unfortunately I have grown to question the trustworthiness of the system of justice. This doesn't mean I think it is totally corrupt but I think the amount of lawlessness by those given the responsibility to serve society has grown too large. It seems to me more oversight is needed. And unfortunately those with such responsibilities are doing the opposite. For example, the despicable political actions by the Justice Department undermine the public's confidence in honest government just when we need to have a government we can trust to protect us from terrorism and increasingly well armed criminals.

Cop Busters is a program that is headed by a man that is most likely in it significantly for the publicity. I would wager the vast majority of those in the law enforcement community are honest and law abiding, in general. However, the community seems to be far too tolerate of abuses by those in their ranks. Given that shows like cob busters may help. Why doesn't the law enforcement community itself find the corruption and illegal practices and eliminate those involved themselves?

Gotcha!

There was no probable cause. So a couple of questions come up. First, how did the cops get turned on to the house in the first place? Cooper suspects they were using thermal imaging equipment to detect the grow lamps, a practice the Supreme Court has said is illegal. The second question is, what probable cause did the police put on the affidavit to get a judge to sign off on a search warrant? If there was nothing illegal going on in the house, it's difficult to conceive of a scenario where either the police or one of their informants didn't lie to get a warrant.

Cooper chose the Odessa police department for baiting because he believes police there instructed an informant to plant marijuana on a woman named Yolanda Madden. She's currently serving an eight-year sentence for possession with intent to distribute. According to Cooper, the informant actually admitted in federal court that he planted the marijuana. Madden was convicted anyway.


What we need are watchmen inside the government that are trustworthy and vigilante. What we need are people at the Justice Department that put the safety and security of the public first. What we need are people that put the rule of law above the rule of their personal desires.

10 years ago (whether I was right or wrong) I would not have said the abuse of law enforcement authority was a huge concern. Yes, any time you have many thousand of people involved in something, some are going to abuse their authority. But I thought on the balance that abuse was minimal and the danger from such abuse was much less than the danger from actual criminals. Now I am sadly much more inclined to side with the founding fathers worries about the unchecked power of the government.

As those in law enforcement fail to address these problems they make the situation much worse. People are losing the ability to rationally believe the law enforcement community is most interested in enforcing the law. Seeing so many examples of abuses of power by the watchmen is a dangerous thing for society. And when the law enforcement community is more interested in protecting those inside their ranks engaged in unlawful behavior than in upholding the law it is very dangerous for society.

It is not acceptable for those with the awesome responsibility to protect society from criminals to behave as too many are now.

Related: Freedom Increasingly at Risk - Tired of Incompetent Government Harassment - Photographers are not a Threat - More SWAT Failures

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Build Your Online Presence

My comment on: Promoting Your Services (Link broken so I removed it, original post from PoeWar, very good site on writing and resource for writers)

I think another great way to promote your business is to write and post to your own site. I encourage management consultants (the people I most deal with - example: Peter Scholtes) to create an online presence that illustrates what value they offer. And for writers it should be an even better fit (you can show exactly what you offer - your writing). Setting up a blog is a very easy way to do this. You can use Wordpress to set up a free blog without any technical knowledge.

Then you can market by doing what you want to do: writing. You will have to take some other steps to market yourself also but a home on the web highlighting your writing is an excellent tool.

This next tip is probably most suited to someone getting started as a professional writer, or one just getting started online, but really can work for anyone. Basically unless you are so busy with paying work that you can't fit it in, I think it is a good idea (and at that point continue your blog by linking to the paying work).

I also think writing guest posts for other blogs could be a useful promotion strategy. You will increase those that know about you and gain links back to your site which will help your site grow. And, another benefit, for writers is you get to practice. You can experiment, and try new things. While I don't think of myself as a writer, I have written a great deal building my web sites. The sheer act of writing for different audiences as a guest blogger I think would be good experience for a writers.

I tend to favor thinking about marketing differently - especially for small businesses. Amazon spends very little advertising. Instead they see free shipping as marketing. They see paying referral fees to websites that provide them paying customers as marketing. Very smart, in my opinion. So for writers think of writing posts for your site and for some others as a form of advertising. Plenty of very successful people market using their free writing online: (example: Neil Gaiman, Joel Spolsky...). And some turn that free writing into a platform to sell ads and then make a living just doing that: Dooce.

Another good example of innovative marketing: Giving Away Your Service for Free on Weekends (from Joel Spolsky mentioned above).

Related: My web home - John Hunter - Seth Godin on Marketing and the Internet - Your Online Identity - Innovative Marketing Podcast - Don't Lock Your Content Inside a Proprietary System

Monday, December 01, 2008

2,700-year-old marijuana found in Chinese tomb

2,700-year-old marijuana found in Chinese tomb

The cache of cannabis is about 2,700 years old and was clearly ``cultivated for psychoactive purposes," rather than as fibre for clothing or as food, says a research paper in the Journal of Experimental Botany. The 789 grams of dried cannabis was buried alongside a light-haired, blue-eyed Caucasian man, likely a shaman of the Gushi culture, near Turpan in northwestern China.
...
Remnants of cannabis have been found in ancient Egypt and other sites, and the substance has been referred to by authors such as the Greek historian Herodotus. But the tomb stash is the oldest so far that could be thoroughly tested for its properties.

The 18 researchers, most of them based in China, subjected the cannabis to a battery of tests, including carbon dating and genetic analysis. Scientists also tried to germinate 100 of the seeds found in the cache, without success.


Related: 2,000-year-old Seed to Bear Fruit in Three Years - Huge Tomb Uncovered in Rome

Thursday, November 27, 2008

ISTJ

This blog seen as an ISTJ (introverted, sensing, thinking, judging) blog by Typealyzer. The site analyzes the blog and provides a Myers Briggs type personality categorization. Some other blogs categorizations:



I don't give the categorization much weight but you might find it fun. I am not convinced it isn't almost totally random. A similar site guesses whether the author is a man or woman: "We have strong indicators that http://dooce.com/ is written by a man (99%)." "We guess http://blag.xkcd.com/ is written by a woman (50%), however it's quite gender neutral"

The categorization software seems to only use the home page (the exact url you use) to categorize the site. If it is effective at all (which I could see it being - for some categorizations anyway) increasing the pool of data used would likely help a great deal. My guess the current method also means the categorizations for sites could vary a great deal over time.

Notice how the Myers Briggs type "names" (for each group) are given a positive spin. Nothing like ESFJ - "The Lazy Couch Potatoes."

Friday, November 21, 2008

Google SearchWiki



Google now lets you customize your search results. You can move results around (change the order in which they appear) add your notes and remove sites you don't want to see. Others don't see your notes by default but they can choose to look at all the notes for a search.

Suggestions for Improving Google (Jan 2006)

1) Let me chose the type of files searched (exclude pdfs, word, power point..). Then if I can’t find what I want I can expand to include them. At the very least give me some way of making the type much more visible (I realize it is there now but I often click before my mind notices...).

2) Let me remove web sites from my default searches. I would imagine this could even be used to help Google’s normal search results by getting a sense of sites huge numbers of people “block” The same spam sites show up for searches and I would rather block them if Google can’t figure out how to do so.

3) Let me create site search lists, where I create lists of sties I want searched


The third one Google did a year or two ago. I have created several search sites based on that capability: investing search - science search - Management Search.

Related: Google Knows it is a 2.0 World - What Factors Should be Used to Determine Search Results - Google PageRank Update - Yahoo's Open Approach to Search

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Manners

Re: Bad manners

One of the things I have grown to appreciate the importance of is some shared sense of manners. As a kid I thought worrying about which fork was used for salad was silly. Actually I still think that is silly but I didn't appreciate the annoyances caused by people that just don't care about how there selfishness impacts others when I was a kid.

Now I understand how a shared sense of common courtesy is important - to hold back people from being overly selfish (how about the idiots that insist on yelling into their cell phones in libraries, or when they are being waited on in a store, or wherever else they happen to be doing, for example).

And if I must comply with a few rules I find silly so I can exist in a society where others have a shared sense of unacceptable behavior that is ok with me. I now appreciate the idea of acceptable codes of conduct that people are encouraged to follow. I really didn't understand how selfish so many people would be without rules telling them not to interrupt others, or eating with their mouth open, or treating others with respect, or realizing you must share with others (toys, when you are a kid or time with other speakers...).

I tend to be a bit cantankerous, refusing to accept things just because that is the way things are. But I have grown to appreciate the wisdom of good manners. Within that acceptance there is still room for me (and those like me) to quibble with some of the rules of good manners, but the concept I now appreciate.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

NORC

I heard a new acronym recently that I thought was amusing: NORC: Naturally Occurring Retirement Community. Essentially these are similar to "strange attractors" in chaos theory where retired people are naturally drawn to live. Perhaps areas with good medical facilities, near recreation and shopping areas, community centers, libraries... that can be walked to.

Related: retirement planning posts on the Curious Cat Investing blog - How Walkable is Your Prospective Neighborhood

Thursday, October 23, 2008

What Does This Error Mean

What Does This Error Mean - paste in an error message and read comments on what it means and how you can fix it.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Gladwell on Late Bloomers

Why do we equate genius with precocity? by Malcolm Gladwell

A few years ago, an economist at the University of Chicago named David Galenson decided to find out whether this assumption about creativity was true. He looked through forty-seven major poetry anthologies published since 1980 and counted the poems that appear most frequently. Some people, of course, would quarrel with the notion that literary merit can be quantified. But Galenson simply wanted to poll a broad cross-section of literary scholars about which poems they felt were the most important in the American canon. The top eleven are, in order, T. S. Eliot’s “Prufrock,” Robert Lowell’s “Skunk Hour,” Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” William Carlos Williams’s “Red Wheelbarrow,” Elizabeth Bishop’s “The Fish,” Ezra Pound’s “The River Merchant’s Wife,” Sylvia Plath’s “Daddy,” Pound’s “In a Station of the Metro,” Frost’s “Mending Wall,” Wallace Stevens’s “The Snow Man,” and Williams’s “The Dance.”

Those eleven were composed at the ages of twenty-three, forty-one, forty-eight, forty, twenty-nine, thirty, thirty, twenty-eight, thirty-eight, forty-two, and fifty-nine, respectively. There is no evidence, Galenson concluded, for the notion that lyric poetry is a young person’s game. Some poets do their best work at the beginning of their careers. Others do their best work decades later. Forty-two per cent of Frost’s anthologized poems were written after the age of fifty. For Williams, it’s forty-four per cent. For Stevens, it’s forty-nine per cent.


Related: Gladwell (and Drucker) on Pensions - Malcolm Gladwell and Synchronicity - Hiring the Right Person

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Seattle high-schoolers get F's for the First time in 7 Years

Seattle high-schoolers can now get failing grades

For the first time in seven years, Seattle public high-school students who do poorly can receive a failing grade on their report cards. Since 2000, not a single student has received an E, a mark more commonly known as an F. High schools instead handed out N's for "no credit," which didn't affect a student's grade-point average and took much of the sting out of failure.
...
When students receive an E or an N, they don't get any credit toward graduation. The E, however, counts as a zero when calculating a student's grade-point average. An N does not. So a student with three A's and three E's would have a grade-point average of 2.0. A student with three A's and three N's would have a perfect grade-point of 4.0.
...
Still, the fact that Seattle students could fail four classes, get two As and still have a perfect GPA "seemed a bit ridiculous," said Tim Ames, a social-studies teacher at Nathan Hale High School.


Un-acknowledged failure was not just present in the boardrooms of fat-cats looting their companies with obscene pay for themselves. I suppose if the society doesn't want accountability practicing it with high school students is not the worst place for non-accountability.

In my opinion, we need more accountability everywhere, including for high school students. I came very close to failing calculus in high school. If I had failed it fine, give me an F. While requiring accountability in other areas in more important than for high school student's grades, still I think restoring the acknowledgment of failure is a good idea.

The logic of those defending the practice of "Es" makes little sense. They talk of "they'll miss the flexibility that the N allowed, especially the ability to send students a message without putting a big dent into their GPAs." The difference of one D versus one F is not huge (on a 4 year GPA). For a semester it can have an effect but jeez if you don't like that effect don't use the semester GPA for significant decisions (I don't see much justification for using it - though I acknowledge there is a challenge in how to deal with students, parents, coaches... that care more about athletics than learning and how you deal with trying to enforce some level of learning...).

Related: Creating a Nation of Wimps - Alumni of Seattle high schools

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Truck, Bus Fleets Beefed Up to Beat Jams, Fueling Congestion

Truck, Bus Fleets Beefed Up to Beat Jams, Fueling Congestion

It's the price of doing business in one of the most traffic-choked regions in the country, but it makes matters worse. The additional vehicles on the road add to congestion and fuel a cycle that further stresses the region's overtaxed roadways, resulting in even more delays and pollution.
...
The answer is decent public transit," said Zimmerman, who also is a member of the Arlington County Board.


Related: Traffic Congestion and a Non-Solution - Designing Cities for People, Rather than Cars - Urban Planning in N. Virginia

Monday, September 08, 2008

Ideas that will Change the World

Response to: Ideas that will Change the World? and Plenty 20 awards

There is nothing wrong with pointing out your strengths. And in my opinion Toyota's focus on the environment comes from a better place than many companies. To me, Toyota's long term vision and principles of benefiting society led to the view that an environmental focus was important.

That is a much better starting place than "oh, there are a bunch of people that like the environment lets market to them by saying we are eco-friendly." And if we have to do a couple green things so we can market lets do that.

The actions that the different initial conditions lead to will be different.

Related: Toyota Engineers a New Plant: the Living Kind - Toyota Robots

Friday, September 05, 2008

Dell Inspiron Mini with Ubuntu

Dell has announced the Inspiron Mini 9 which includes Ubuntu as an operating system choice by default.

On the amazingly bad web design front if you are using security software to block javascript or just don't have javascript active, the links on the page fail. How lame are web people that can't even make links work without resorting to javascript.

According to the Dell mini specs it has windows and Ubuntu I guess:

Operating System
Genuine Windows® XP Home Edition SP3
Ubuntu Linux 8.04 with custom Dell interface

Saturday, August 30, 2008

AT&T's Attempt to Take Away Consumer's Rights Denied

Court says AT&T can't force arbitration

Michael McKee, of East Wenatchee, filed a class-action suit against AT&T, alleging it wrongly charged him and others for city utility surcharges and usurious late fees. McKee didn't think it was fair that he got charged a city-utility fee even though he lived outside city limits. Though the charges were small -- no more than $2 in any given month -- he noted that it added up after many years and many customers.

So McKee took his case to court. Meanwhile, AT&T argued that the dispute should be settled through arbitration, noting that McKee agreed to mandatory arbitration when he signed up for service in 2002. Such arbitration clauses are ubiquitous, and often consumers must agree to them as a condition of accepting a credit card, a cell phone or other services.

A Chelan County Superior Court found the dispute-resolution provision of AT&T's Consumer Services Agreement "unconscionable" and denied AT&T's motion to compel arbitration. AT&T appealed. On Thursday, in an unanimous decision, the Supreme Court upheld the lower court's ruling. Justice Tom Chambers concludes:

A&T's Consumer Services Agreement is substantively unconscionable and therefore unenforceable to the extent that it purports to waive the right to class actions, require confidentiality, shorten the Washington Consumer Protection Act statute of limitations, and limit availability of attorney fees.

We emphasize that these provisions have nothing to do with arbitration. Arbitrators supervise class actions, conduct open hearings, apply appropriate statutes of limitations, and award compensatory and punitive damages, as well as attorney fees, where appropriate. Courts will not be easily deceived by attempts to unilaterally strip away consumer protections and remedies by efforts to cloak the waiver of important rights under an arbitration clause.


via: AT&T Busted For Fine Print Trickery

Many companies have gotten more aggressive about trying to claim rights that don't exist in documents they force on customers. Just because a company says something does not make it so. Often states (like in this case) do not allow companies to operate and make wild claims. You can't sell unsafe products and just say, by walking into our store you acknowledge that anything you sell we take no responsibility for, you should test everything for suitability and safety, they may or may not comply with local laws on safe electrical equipment, the food was not cared for as required by law...

Related: iPhone + AT&T = Yikes - Bad Customer Service Examples :-( - Incredibly Bad Customer Service from Discover Card - Why is Customer Service So Bad?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Who found Online Spreadsheet Evidence of Chinese Gymnast's Age?

I have read several online sources that state a computer security consultant found evidence of spreadsheets on Chinese gymnasts age in Google cache and Baidu cache: Hack the Olympics! - How hacker found proof of He Kexin's age - International Olympic Committee launches probe into He Kexin's age. But this AP report claims that AP found them (AP link with the quote).

Earlier this month, the AP found registration lists previously posted on the Web site of the General Administration of Sport of China that showed both He and Yang were too young to compete. He was born Jan. 1, 1994, according to the 2005, 2006 and 2007 registration lists. Yang was born Aug. 26, 1993, according to the 2004, 2005 and 2006 registration lists. In the 2007 registration list, however, her birthday has changed to Aug. 26, 1992.


Yes, you can have someone tell you where to look and then say you found... However, this is a pretty misleading way to report the news. It seems obvious AP is reporting that they are the source of the discovery not just that they confirmed what someone else found themselves. Is AP actually the source for the discovery? If so, that is fine. If not, that is very poor reporting, it seems to me.

In trying to look into this it seems the New York Times may have reported on this before but does not state the source of their evidence, but it seems likely they had this evidence and wrote about it earlier. ABC news seems to report the same thing earlier. It is interesting none of the "mainstream press" seem to source online documents while bloggers most often provide links directly to what they quote and reference.

Other news sites are printing the AP story with that wording (including the New York Times, International Herald Tribune, ESPN, NBC Olympic site and the Arkansas Democrat Gazette - Google News finds several AP stories with that quote). Using that wording would put the credibility of their organization behind stating it in this way. If they did just confirm what was discovered by others they seem to be reducing their credibility even more - after their recent attempts to restrict legal quoting of their articles by bloggers. A news site trying to make themselves seem like the discoverers of news that in fact was discovered by someone else is really calling into question their integrity.

I do support bloggers not quoting AP stories, in general. But in this case it is specifically the AP's story that is the issue. Here is another AP story claiming AP found the documents from August 14th.

I did not find any stories, by anyone other than AP, that claims (or implies) that AP discovered this evidence.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Media Company Fails at Web Again

Video has been supported on the web for years. Simple, know solutions exist. What does NBC do for the Olympics? Setup some complex solution that fails :(

Video is currently supported on the following browsers:

* Internet Explorer 6, 7 for Windows
(Vista, XP SP2 or greater and 2003)
* Firefox 1.5, 2, 3 for Windows
(Vista, XP SP2 or greater and 2003)
* Firefox 1.5, 2, 3 for Mac
(OS 10.4.8 or greater, Intel only)
* Safari 2 & 3 for Mac
(OS 10.4.8 or greater, Intel only)

How about just use solutions that are not operating system and browser dependent. It is like these people don't know that the web technology provides methods to just distribute your content and let the user access it however they want.

Related: What Kind of Management Does This? - VIP?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Juror Questions Court

What right do you have to prosecute this defendant?

Thomas R. Eddlem sent a note to US District Court Judge William G. Young asking: "Where – if two-thirds of both houses of congress voted in 1919 that it was necessary to amend the constitution to give congress the power to ban mere possession of a substance (prohibition of alcohol in that case) – is the constitutional grant of authority to ban mere possession of cocaine today?"
...
No less an authority than Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas raised a similar concern in his dissent in Gonzales v. Raich:

Respondents Diane Monson and Angel Raich use marijuana that has never been bought or sold, that has never crossed state lines, and that has had no demonstrable effect on the national market for marijuana. If Congress can regulate this under the Commerce Clause, then it can regulate virtually anything–and the Federal Government is no longer one of limited and enumerated powers.
...
Really, there's every reason to recognize the jury's right to exercise at least as much mercy as the other participants in the criminal justice system -- especially given their role as the last check on the power of the state. That right was not just recognized, but celebrated by the founders. John Adams, the nation's second president, said it is the juror's "duty ... to find the verdict according to his own best understanding, judgment, and conscience, though in direct opposition to the direction of the court."


Related: The Jury Decides What is Illegal - Freedom Increasingly at Risk - Photographers are not a Threat -

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

More SWAT Failures

How many abuses of power does it take before someone stops this ridicules behavior? Innocent people should not have their home invaded by police over and over and over and over and over again. It is not acceptable to make this error. It is not acceptable to shoot innocent people as you invade their house. Why do we continue to allow such invasions of innocent American's homes?

Buffalo Police batter their way into wrong house

Pennyamon alleges that after wrongly breaking into her apartment, police proceeded to strike her epileptic husband in the head with the butt end of a shotgun and point shotguns at her young children before admitting their mistake and then raiding the right apartment.

She says she’s left with a broken door, an injured husband, jittery children and — what bothers her most — still no apology from police.

"They know they did something wrong and they were still ignorant," said the 29-year-old Pennyamon. "At first, I just wanted an apology. Now, because they want[ed] to be ignorant and rude, I have to take it to the next level."

She filed a report with the department’s Professional Standards Division and also contacted Mayor Byron W. Brown about the incident. Pennyamon said Friday evening she also has retained a lawyer and intends to pursue legal action.

Police brass acknowledge that officers with the Mobile Response and Narcotics units entered the wrong apartment. "As the officers were in the lower apartment, one of the detectives reviewed the search warrant application and realized it was for the upper [apartment]," said Dennis J. Richards, chief of detectives.

"It appears to be an honest mistake and we certainly apologize to all involved," added Michael J. DeGeorge, Buffalo police spokesman.


This is completely unacceptable. What has happened to the land of the free? When your home is not safe from violent government assault that is not acceptable.

Related: Systemic Failure of SWAT Raids - Failure to Address Systemic SWAT Raid Failures - Shot in the dark - FBI to Review Raid That Killed Mayor's Dogs - Why give awards in botched police raid - Tired of Incompetent Government Harassment

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Selling Computer Games and Applications

Great article on piracy, computer games, payment and pricing, customer focus... Talking To 'Pirates':

A few days ago I posted a simple question on my blog. "Why do people pirate my games?". It was an honest attempt to get real answers to an important question... The response was massive. This is what I found:
...
So it was all very worthwhile, for me. I don't think the whole exercise will have much effect on the wider industry. Doubtless there will be more FPS games requiring mainframes to run them, more games with securom, games with no demos, or games with all glitz and no gameplay. I wish this wasn't the case, and that the devs could listen more to their potential customers, and that the pirates could listen more to the devs rather than abusing them. I don't think that's going to happen.
But I gave it a go, and I know my games will be better as a result. I'll never make millions from them, but I think now I know more about why pirates do what they do, I'll be in a better position to keep doing what I wanted, which is making games for the PC.
Thanks for reading.


Related: So You Want to be a Computer Game Programmer - A Career in Computer Programming - Computer Game and Real World Education

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Bad Customer Service

Response to: Comcast Called Me Back In Regards To My Post About My Outrageous Bill

I wouldn't agree everyone tries to rip you off. There are a few companies that get a huge portion of the complaints: Comcast, Verizon, several banks... You don't hear huge numbers people complaining about being ripped off by Southwest Airlines, Geico, Crutchfield, Toyota... Some companies chose to provide value to customers and take some profit in doing so. Others continually seek to rip off customers at every turn. Thankfully the internet is providing a medium to publicize those companies that do so.

Consumerist, is a great site, doing what it can to counter some of the horrible service

Related: Customer Service is Important - Incredibly Bad Customer Service from Discover Card - Is Poor Service the Industry Standard?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Google PageRank Update

Google is again updating the published page ranks. PageRank changes daily (inside of Google). About four times a year Google updates the pagerank that is published in the toolbar. So for example, a new site for us that offers free CSS web site templates, shows a pagerank of 4. The fact that it showed no page rank last week and now shows a pagerank of 4 doesn't mean it increased in the last week. It has been obvious for some the site has been getting increasing traffic and likely had a reasonable pagerank. Now Google has just published it.

You can use another new site to the curiouscat.com family to check the pagerank for your sites: Multi PageRank Checker (pagerank 1 by the way). If past performance repeats with this update of pageranks the ranks can often move around for several days before settling down to the new rank that will be displayed for several months. Some of our sites:

Curious Cat Investing and Economics Blog - 4
Curious Cat Engineering and Science Blog - 5
curiouscat.com - 3
externs.com - internship directory - 4
Statistics for Experimenters - 3

Pagerank uses a logarithmic scale - so a pagerank of 5 is 10 times greater than one of 4 and 100 times greater than one of 3. Also say you have a 5.1 that would be 10 time greater than 5.0 - but Google only publishes 1 digit. So the real difference between pages shown as 4 and 5 theoretically could be anywhere from say some tiny percentage to nearly 100 times (if it were the lowest possible 4 and the highest possible 5). It seems very likely Google uses a logarithmic scale or something very similar but I don't think they have confirmed this publicly. Some people think perhaps there is a difference of say 6 times for each integer so a pagerank 5 is 36 (6*6) more than and pagerank 3. That is certainly possible.

Related: Google's Search Results (should factors other than user value be used?) - Google's Displayed PageRank - Web Page Authority - Are Paid Links 100% Untrustworthy? -

Friday, July 25, 2008

DRM is Junk

Yahoo Music going dark, taking keys with it

The bad dream of DRM continues. Yahoo e-mailed its Yahoo! Music Store customers yesterday, telling them it will be closing for good—and the company will take its DRM license key servers offline on September 30, 2008. Sure, it's bad news and yet another example of the sheer lobotomized brain-deadness that has characterized music DRM, but the reaction of most music fans will be: "Yahoo had an online music store?"

If you think this sounds familiar, it's because this happened earlier this year with MSN Music, although Microsoft has since relented and will keep the DRM authorization servers up and running through 2011.

Once the Yahoo store goes down and the key servers go offline, existing tracks cannot be authorized to play on new computers. Instead, Yahoo recommends the old, lame, and lossy workaround of burning the files to CD, then reripping them onto the computer. Sure, you'll lose a bunch of blank CDs, sound quality, and all the metadata, but that's a small price to pay for the privilege of being able to listen to that music you lawfully acquired. Good thing you didn't download it illegally or just buy it on CD!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Super Spoiled Brats

It is hard to imagine how people could be more self indulgent than shown on Super Sweet Sixteen. Yet I am sure some people can manage to sink below even these people, sadly. Here is an English Perspective on the failed people shown on this show.



As I stated in, Economic Fault - Income Inequality:

"how do people even think of spending $500,000 on some kids birthday party (search for super sweet 16th if you have not heard of the crazy idea)? I really can't fathom people being so ludicrously superficial and cruel. If you have such money to throw away how can you possibly choose to spend it on a spoiled brat’s party instead of helping out hundreds less fortunate 16 year olds literally starving to death around the globe? I really don't understand. I am embarrassed to be of the same species as such people."

Related: Estate Tax Repeal - CMU Professor Gives His Last Lesson on Life - More on Obscene CEO Pay - Giving People the Opportunity to Succeed

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Dancing Around the World


Where the Hell is Matt? (2008) from Matthew Harding on Vimeo.

About Matt:

The response to the first video brought Matt to the attention of the nice people at Stride gum. They asked Matt if he'd be interested in taking another trip around the world to make a new video. Matt asked if they'd be paying for it. They said yes. Matt thought this sounded like another very good idea.

In 2006, Matt took a 6 month trip through 39 countries on all 7 continents. In that time, he danced a great deal.
...
Matt lives in Seattle, Washington with his girlfriend, Melissa, and dog, Sydney. He hasn't had a real job since Stride called him up. Matt doesn't mind working, but he doesn't much care for having to show up at the same place every day.


The internet is fun for all sorts of reasons including videos such as this.

Related: Company Culture (music video) - Water Buffaloes, Lions and Crocodiles Oh My - Toyota Robots

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Garden Model of Paris



The Eiffel Flowers

Gerard Brion (in photo) shows off his model of Paris. He has spent 15 years (he is now 29) crafting a model of the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, etc. out of old concrete blocks, baby food jars and soup tins. His garden in Vaissac in the South of France is now a tourist attraction.

Related: Curious Cat Paris photos - Curious Cat Science and Engineering blog France related posts

Saturday, June 14, 2008

200 Years of Times (London) Newspaper Available Online

200 years of newspapers, the Times (London) are now available online. Good move. "Every issue of The Times published between 1785-1985, digitally scanned and fully searchable"

Related: Open Access Journal Wars - UC-Berkeley Course Videos - Programmable New York Times On the Way

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Firefox 3

Firefox 3 is close to being released (it is in beta now). Here is a nice screencast on new features. When I recently upgrade my Ubuntu it automatically installed the Firefox 3 beta (which I must say I don't really think was the greatest - asking would have been better). But for that reason, I have been using it and I like it. The menu bar improvements can actually be annoying in some ways but the advantages outweigh the problems with that feature, I think.

One very annoying thing with Firefox 3 is the Google toolbar is blocked. It doesn't comply with some new upgrade rule I think. Still I don't understand why they won't let me use the toolbar if I want (the message seems to indicate it is not a problem of incompatibility with Firefox 3 but not following some rule for how upgrades should be done. A number of plug-in have this problem but that is the only one that I really care about. I surprised Google hasn't made this work - even though it is still in beta since it is very close (weeks?) until the release.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Photographers are not a Threat

Are photographers really a threat?

Since 9/11, there has been an increasing war on photography. Photographers have been harrassed, questioned, detained, arrested or worse, and declared to be unwelcome. We've been repeatedly told to watch out for photographers, especially suspicious ones. Clearly any terrorist is going to first photograph his target, so vigilance is required.

Except that it's nonsense. The 9/11 terrorists didn't photograph anything. Nor did the London transport bombers, the Madrid subway bombers, or the liquid bombers arrested in 2006. Timothy McVeigh didn't photograph the Oklahoma City Federal Building. The Unabomber didn't photograph anything; neither did shoe-bomber Richard Reid. Photographs aren't being found amongst the papers of Palestinian suicide bombers. The IRA wasn't known for its photography. Even those manufactured terrorist plots that the US government likes to talk about -- the Ft. Dix terrorists, the JFK airport bombers, the Miami 7, the Lackawanna 6 -- no photography.
...
This is worth fighting. Search "photographer rights" on Google and download one of the several wallet documents that can help you if you get harassed; I found one for the UK, US, and Australia. Don't cede your right to photograph in public. Don't propagate the terrorist photographer story. Remind them that prohibiting photography was something we used to ridicule about the USSR. Eventually sanity will be restored, but it may take a while.


Related: Tired of Incompetent Government Harassment - Freedom Increasingly at Risk

Monday, June 02, 2008

Highway Poses Threat to Uncontacted Tribe in Brazil



Highway poses threat to uncontacted tribe in Brazil

The uncontacted tribes in the forest borderlands of Peru and Brazil, such as those pictured last week pointing a bow and arrow at a plane, are facing a threat from something beyond their wildest imagining.

It comes from a thing of which they've never heard, being built to serve a people who they have no idea even exist. It is a road, and in time it could lead to their destruction.

The 711-mile Trans-Oceanic Highway, which will eventually link the Amazon river ports of Brazil with the Pacific ones of Peru, is the biggest threat to the indigenous peoples – uncontacted or otherwise – in that part of South America, says John Hemming, celebrated expert on Brazilian peoples
...
There are, said Mr Hemming, thought to be 34 uncontacted groups in Brazil, and around 20 in Peru. Most live in forest that already enjoys some protection. But the damage can begin even before direct encounters occur, with incomers making tribes flee traditional territory and move into conflict with other groups.

Yet it is when there is face-to-face contact that bad things can swiftly happen. Disease is by far the biggest hazard. "These people are formidably fit," Mr Hemming said, "but they are fatally vulnerable to our everyday illnesses. Among them, such diseases as the common cold and measles are unknown and, if caught, deadly. After contact was made with the Surui people, for instance, half of their 400 members died from 'Western' illnesses within a few years.


Related: Uncontacted Amazonian tribe photographed - Hidden tribes of the world - Oil Exploration in Amazon Threatens "Unseen" Tribes

Monday, May 26, 2008

Programmable New York Times On the Way

New York Times API Coming

Now, the Grey Lady is working on an API that aims to make the entire newspaper "programmable."

In addition to the API, New York Times CTO Marc Frons told mediabistro.com that internal developers at the paper will use the platform to organize structured data on the site. Following that, the paper plans to offer developer keys to the API allowing programmers to more easily mash up the paper's structured content -- reviews, event listings, recipes, etc. "The plan is definitely to open [the code] up," Frons said. "How far we don't know."


Smart move. For far too long the Times fought interacting with the internet, instead trying to create an isolated New York Times registration required site. In general those are bad ideas for web content (they are useful for some things) but it was an especially bad idea for the New York Times (they had more great content than all but a few sites and should have allowed much more linking to there content by millions of people like me. Because that way they would gain huge readership. This API plan sounds good.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Laid Off? Take a Vacation Around the World

Expat software has adopted a operating plan along the lines of one of my dreams. Travel around the world and do work that pays the bills while you enjoy different locations.

Expat Software is a small consulting and development house, staffed by a number of expatriate Americans.

We offer high quality software consulting services at rates that are much less than you might find from other US based software firms. The reason for this is simple: we are not presently in the United States, and therefore do not suffer the high overhead costs that come with a base in a large city.

Where exactly are we located? That is difficult to answer, as it changes on a regular basis. A good place to look would be a nice beach with cheap bungalows to rent and a fast internet connection.


They posted an excellent blog post today, Laid off? The one thing you absolutely need to do on the first day:

You're in IT, right? So chances are you've been laid off at least once from some crappy company and it's going to happen again. Here is my one piece of advice to you. The single most important thing to do as soon as you make it back to your house with that box full of stuff:

Book a flight

Seriously. Do it now, before the initial shock wears off and that logical side of your brain starts coming up with lame excuses. You will never have a better chance to get out and see the world than right now. You have a pile of saving and a severance package. You've got 6 months to a year before your skills start getting rusty. There is absolutely no reason to start looking for work immediately, and every reason to take that round-the-world trip you've always dreamed about. Right. Now.
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You're going to want to stay gone for 6-9 months. Less than that and it you'll be kicking yourself for not leaving enough time, and you'll be rushing through entire countries just to keep up with your itinerary. I know that this seems silly now, but somewhere along the way somebody will ask how long you've been in Vietnam for and you'll answer "Only one month." Timescales work differently on the road.

In my experience (did I mention that I take about 9 months vacation a year and spend most of that traveling in the developing world?), I tend to start missing work after about 6 months away.
...
But I don't have any money saved...
You can't possibly be serious. Are you saying that you've been working in IT for all these years and haven't put away a lousy ten grand??? Shame on you. Get a book on life skills and open a bank account fer cryin' out loud.


Very nice advice that I admit I would not likely follow (I have never been without a job so I don't really know...). But I wish I would. I might get to the point where I make the decision to just stop working full time and either travel and work on projects for pay or work on projects and then take 6 months off before taking on another project with another company.

Related: Save a Cash Reserve - Buy Less Stuff - Saving for Retirement - Curious Cat Travels

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Most Walkable Cities in the USA

America's Most Pedestrianized Cities

It had to be on the list, didn’t it. Manhattan is the only place in the country where more than 50% of the population doesn’t own a car. Over ten percent of New Yorkers walk to work, which is remarkable, but the truly impressive number takes into account the 50% that take public transit. Over 60% of the city doesn’t use their car to get to work; a mark normally only approached in college and military communities.


The other cities: Washington DC, San Francisco, Boston and Newark, NJ.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Rebirth of Cities

The Next Slum?

Pent-up demand for urban living is evident in housing prices. Twenty years ago, urban housing was a bargain in most central cities. Today, it carries an enormous price premium. Per square foot, urban residential neighborhood space goes for 40 percent to 200 percent more than traditional suburban space in areas as diverse as New York City; Portland, Oregon; Seattle; and Washington, D.C.

It's crucial to note that these premiums have arisen not only in central cities, but also in suburban towns that have walkable urban centers offering a mix of residential and commercial development.
...
Perhaps most important, the shift to walkable urban environments will give more people what they seem to want. I doubt the swing toward urban living will ever proceed as far as the swing toward the suburbs did in the 20th century; many people will still prefer the bigger houses and car-based lifestyles of conventional suburbs. But there will almost certainly be more of a balance between walkable and drivable communities—allowing people in most areas a wider variety of choices.


Related: Urban Planning - Traffic Congestion and a Non-Solution - The Economic Benefits of Walkable Communities - Designing Cities for People, Rather than Cars - How Walkable is Your Prospective Neighborhood - housing articles - Car-free zones - The Case for Physically Separated Bike Lanes

Monday, April 14, 2008

Music Magic

I recently bought some new speakers for my computer based on recommendations: Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 THX. I find them excellent but I must admit I am not a very discriminating audiophile. I also found a nice new site to take advantage of the new speakers: Jango. Essentially this site lets you select a list of artist you like. They then play music by those artist and other artists like by those that like your list (I imagine). There are no ads. My guess is they make money when you buy music through the site (and probably have, or will get) special payment to promote some artists.

Related: gadgets and gifts - Hug Shirt

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Freedom Increasingly at Risk

It is sad that our government being the risk to our own freedom is rising. I remember 10 years ago understanding that the risks to our freedom due to government action were minor. The real risk to freedom were from criminals forcing people to restrict their activity for fear of becoming a victim. The protections from government, so dear to those escaping the rule of Kings, seemed outdated.

Sadly I have to say we have entered a new era where the freedoms granted by the constitution, for freedom from government abusing our rights, is a serious danger. I am amazed this has come to be, honestly. I did not anticipate serious threat of government restrictions on freedoms.

Freedom granted by The First Amendment is not guaranteed in practice. If people allow government to become less and less accountable for unacceptable behavior those freedoms disappear.

"Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty" - Wendell Phillips
which is often quoted as "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance" and attributed to Thomas Jefferson

Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. - Richard Jackson (maybe)

We have been lucky enough that the threats to government restrictions on freedom have been low. Our lack of vigilance did not do much harm. But those that treasure what our constitution has created for over 200 years should heed the guidance now. The cost of our complacency will not be apparent until the forces against freedom have great momentum. It seems to me that evidence is piling up quite quickly. And the price for continued complacency will be steep.

So About That Tree of Liberty...

Of course, the real irony here is that all of this happened at the Jefferson Memorial, in observance of Jefferson’s birthday. Go out to celebrate the birth of the most hardcore, anti-authoritarian of the Founding Fathers, get hauled off in handcuffs. The photo’s almost poetry, isn’t it? One of history’s most articulate critics of abuse of state authority looks on as a park police cop uses his elbow to push a female arrestee into one of said critic’s memorial pillars.


Related: Tired of Incompetent Government Harassment - Quarantining dissent - Arrested Bush dissenters look to the courts - Orwellian "Free Speech Zones" violate the constitution - SWAT Raids, government failures - Dancing fools - The Photographer’s Right - HOWTO resist warrantless searches at Best Buy

"First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out — because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak out for me."
Martin Niemoeller

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Maximize Firefox Using about:config

Maximize Firefox Without Extensions Using about:config

If you type about:config in your address bar, Firefox opens the master directory of user-defined preferences and built-in settings. The ultimate arena for performance tampering, the about:config settings are the foundation for programming Firefox extensions.
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To modify about:config, pull it up using your address bar. The settings appear in a searchable list view.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Importance of Search Rankings

Attention Website Owners: If You Aren’t on Google’s First Page, You’re Dead to Us

You can have the most attractive website of all your competitors. You can hire usability experts, professional photographers, and the greatest PHP developers money can buy. If you aren’t on the first page of Google, you might as well be from Mars. Sorry.


While it is true many people do not look past the first page some could be mislead by wasting time on usability... You don't say wasting time but imply it is the wrong focus.

Some reasons why you might want to consider usability important:

1) let even say you are on the first page of Google - just getting them to click on the results and visit your site is probably not the goal. You want them to do something. Not flee your site immediately.

2) Search results are not your only source of visitors. Taking care of those that visit is important (so don't think of search results as the only measure of your success).

3) Inbound links can certainly be impacted positively by having a usable site with valuable content (which will increase those visitors mentioned in item 2) and increase your search ranking.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Incompetence and Ignorance are Bliss

Among the Inept, Researchers Discover, Ignorance Is Bliss:

On the contrary. People who do things badly, Dr. Dunning has found in studies conducted with a graduate student, Justin Kruger, are usually supremely confident of their abilities -- more confident, in fact, than people who do things well.
...
One reason that the ignorant also tend to be the blissfully self-assured, the researchers believe, is that the skills required for competence often are the same skills necessary to recognize competence. The incompetent, therefore, suffer doubly, they suggested in a paper appearing in the December issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

"Not only do they reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the ability to realize it," wrote Dr. Kruger, now an assistant professor at the University of Illinois, and Dr. Dunning.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Davidson Students Get Free Sweet Sixteen Trip

UW men's basketball: Free ride for Davidson students

The school's board of trustees set up a fund Wednesday to pay for any student wishing to travel to Detroit to see Davidson play the University of Wisconsin in the Midwest Regional semifinals. Students will get free bus transportation, two nights lodging and a ticket to Friday's game.


Pretty cool. FYI, I graduated from Davidson; and grew up in Madison. Oh, Davidson also did this a while back:

In the spring of 2007, Davidson became the first national liberal arts college to eliminate student loans from financial aid packages. Beginning with the 2007-2008 academic year, Davidson students now have 100 percent of their demonstrated need met entirely through a combination of grants and student employment.


Related: 2008 Intel Science Talent Search - 2005 intercollegiate Genetically Engineered Machine competition - Educational Institutions Economic Impact

Monday, March 24, 2008

2-Slice Toaster and Egg Poacher



Pretty darn silly. Do you think maybe we have a bit too much money we don't know what do with if we actually buy this? Related: Nice Looking Toaster

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Paper Clips

I recommend the paper clips movie. Paper Clips web site:

Whitwell, Tennessee is a small, rural community of less than two thousand people nestled in the mountains of Tennessee. Its citizens are almost exclusively white and Christian. In 1998, the children of Whitwell Middle School took on an inspiring project, launched out of their principal's desire to help her students open their eyes to the diversity of the world beyond their insulated valley. What happened would change the students, their teachers, their families and the entire town forever… and eventually open hearts and minds around the world.
...
moving and inspiring documentary film that captures how these students responded to lessons about the Holocaust-with a promise to honor every lost soul by collecting one paper clip for each individual exterminated by the Nazis.


Related: Proof, the Movie - Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak out for me."

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Internet TV Listings by PHBs

Long ago TV listings had to be sent to the printer so they could be printed out and hand delivered to people's houses on paper (with their newspaper). Then, like 10 years ago, some realized this internet thing could display what would be shown on TV. Yet in 2008 the TV listings shown on the internet are rarely better than if they had to be printed and hand delivered to any person's house. Talk about pointy haired boss behavior.

For example, even though over 24 hours ago it was know that the SEC championship game was moved to 3:30 PM today what do internet TV listing show? They show the game taking place at 1PM. The listing shows it is on CBS, is, at least, that right? Nope it is on ESPN 2 (and, for local affiliates in Georgia and Arkansas, on CBS, at 3:30). What teams are in the game? Internet TV listings act as though this is some mystery (not just for this game but for most any game that wasn't decided months ago).

Look, mr. phb, internet TV listing people, the internet lets you update that dynamically within minutes of when it is determined who will play in that game (or any other change is made to a schedule). It is bad enough sites like TVguide etc. can't get it right. Not even ESPN shows the right thing on their own website. Jeez this just gets worse and worse. On CBS's site, they don't list either the SEC game at all, or the Big Ten Game at all (which is on CBS at 3:30 PM). By the way the Big Ten game features the wonderful Wisconsin Badgers against Illinois.

Please hire someone that knows how the internet works and let them actually use the internet properly. First they won't treat the internet as if it were the place you send your next weeks TV listing to once a week. But all that is doing is avoiding being an incredibly lame phb. The goal would not be to just avoid being completely lame but to actually take advantage of the internet tubes to provide a better service.

Related: What Kind of Management Does This? - Webcasts by Chemistry and Physics Nobel Laureates ("This site requires javascript. Please enable javascript then click here to go back" - yet more phb idiocy) - The Top Ten Stupid Ways to Hinder Market Adoption - usability resources

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Jury Decides What is Illegal

Keep juries dumb

Now this is the secret that no one wants you to know: If you serve on a jury, and you just flat don't like the law you're asked to enforce, you do NOT have to enforce it. You can vote in direct contradiction of the law and in direct contradiction of the judge's instructions -- without fear of reprisal.

Up until 1895, the jury was routinely informed of this right. Then the big mining companies started losing a lot of cases against unions, and they put pressure on the courts, resulting in a Supreme Court decision stating that judges were not required to inform the jury of its rights. Could anything be more draconian? The defendant is informed of his rights. The plaintiff is informed of his rights. The state prosecutor, being an attorney himself, is well aware of his rights. The jury -- the only people in the room without right to counsel -- must figure out its authority on its own. The judge, who is supposed to act as counsel for the jury, to advise it, is conspiring to deprive it of essential information.

And yet the jury's supreme authority was well known to the very first chief justice of the Supreme Court, John Jay, who explicitly informed a jury that it was free to ignore him and his court. It was well known to John Adams, who said, "It is not only (the juror's) right, but his duty . . . to find the verdict according to his own best understanding, judgment, and conscience, though in direct opposition to the direction of the court." He even went further and called it "absurdity" for a court to expect a juror to be required to accept the judge's view of the law. The principle was well known to those two political opposites, Jefferson and Hamilton, and yet they both agreed on this point.

Need more legal celebrities? Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote in 1920: "The judge cannot direct a verdict, it is true, and the jury has the power to bring in a verdict in the teeth of both law and facts." In more recent years, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals wrote: "If the jury feels the law is unjust, we recognize the undisputed power of the jury to acquit, even if its verdict is contrary to the law as given by a judge, and contrary to the evidence."


Related: The First Amendment - Tired of Incompetent Government Harassment - Taking Public Good for Private Special Interests

Sunday, March 02, 2008

John Dower



Hellfire: a Journey from Hiroshima received was nominated for an academy award as a documentary in 1986. I recently discovered it is now available on the Hiroshima No Pika DVD. John Dower is a family friend and author of the National Book Award (1999): Embracing Defeat.

Related: A Warning from History: Don't expect democracy in Iraq by John Dower, Feb 2003. - Visualizing Cultures (free MIT online course) - "It's not history - it's propaganda." - books, articles... by John Dower

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Yahoo's Open Approach to Search

An Open Approach to Search

Because the platform is open it gives all Web site owners -- big or small -- an opportunity to present more useful information on the Yahoo! Search page as compared to what is presented on other search engines. Site owners will be able to provide all types of additional information about their site directly to Yahoo! Search. So instead of a simple title, abstract and URL, for the first time users will see rich results that incorporate the massive amount of data buried in websites -- ratings and reviews, images, deep links, and all kinds of other useful data -- directly on the Yahoo! Search results page.


via: Yahoo Wants to Redefine SERPs, Adapts “Open” Approach

Related: Viewing Unpersonalized Google Search Results - Yahoo Tops Customer Satisfaction Results? - Improved Web Search (Jan 2006) - Improve Google

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Proof People are Crazy




This is proof people are crazy. This is an enjoyable read but I think anyone that actual does this is asking to die. There are plenty of places to get great views without risking your lives. See Curious Cat travels for some examples: North Cascades National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, Costa Rica...

You are about to view pictures of what has to be the most dangerous Tourist Hiking Trail in the world. After you see the pictures, I have little doubt you will agree.
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The only reason we were here was because we didn't know any better. I was incredulous that something this deadly was open to the public. Sure there were warning signs down below, but nothing had been said that could possibly let us know how much trouble we were getting into.
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The only reason we continued was those Chinese college kids. Laura and I watched them cross. It looked like they were dancing... step apart, step together, step apart, step together... they walked sideways across the cliff! And they were laughing!

I swear to God if it wasn't for those kids, Laura and I would have turned around a long time ago. Left to ourselves, we would have given into our panic, but to see those crazy kids fearlessly move across the cliff made us think we could do it too.
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I shook my head in disgust. One mistake would kill you instantly. This area was so dangerous it required proper mountain gear: climbing boots, carabineers, belay devices, bolts, and ropes. But all we had was our bare hands

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Charity Abuse

Getting repeated calls over and over again every day from 201-535-3618 (follow the link for people bothered by this telemarketer). You can thank the people that the Secretary of State in the state of Washington says employee, and have employed, these people, Outreach Associates, Inc:

Children's Defense Fund
Common Cause
Environmental Defense, Inc.
Habitat For Humanity International, Inc.
Jane Goodall Institute For Wildlife Research, Education & Conservation
League Of Women Voters Of The United States
Phillips Collection, The
Public Citizen, Inc.
Sierra Club
Southern Poverty Law Center, Inc.
and many more

They will claim they are a charity exemption from the do not call list. So perhaps they are to breaking the law, who knows. But tarnishing their clients with the extremely bad practice of calling people over and over and not leaving a message tells you what they value - and it certainly isn't you. I suggest telling any charity you support that you will not support them supporting a company that intentionally bothers you. If they do not make a public statement condemning such practices and publicly state they will not work with any contractor that behaves this way don't give them your money.

Any of the charities listed are welcome to add a comment linking to your response that you will not do business with such companies and specifically what you have done about this company.

Related: Make $500 for Every Illegal Telemarketer Call to You - Charity Telemarketers are Bad - Make the World Better - Microfinancing Entrepreneurs (Kiva doesn't support bothering you like those above do)