Saturday, May 30, 2009

Why is the PEAK website so slow?

Check it out here.

Now, you would think that the most basic program you’d want to install with Python (easy_install) would be hosted on a fast website.  Furthermore, it’s not a really good reflection on Python’s ability to create websites to have such a critical piece of code hosted on such a slow website.

Someone may want to look into that.  I’m just sayin’.

I’m getting a murderer’s junk mail

I just moved yesterday, check out whose mail I’m getting at the new location:

IMG_3969 - Copy

Swell. Should I send it back with “Forward to: San Quentin State Penitentiary?”

(FWIW, as far as I know Hans Reiser never lived at this address – at least not in the last 10-12 years).

Thursday, May 28, 2009

This might be one of the best Java utils I’ve tried

Pretty cool!  I’ve looked into some of these continuous integration servers before but have been daunted by the amount of setup these things generally require.  I got Hudson set up via Java Web Start and building my local repositories with MSBuild in about 15 minutes.  The key feature is the ease with which I can download the plugins I need (Perforce, Git, MSBuild). 

Very nice work, guys.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

"Carbon tax" is just doublespeak for "more taxes"

A few months ago, I took my daughter to the petting zoo here in San Francisco. Near an old tractor, they have an image like this:


The point of the image is that since the beginning of the industrial age, the number of people that a single farmer can feed has grown nearly exponentially. (Note: the diagram here has a shorter timeline than the one at the zoo)

When you look around at efficiency charts like this for many topics in the last 100, 150 years, there is almost always a common element: the efficiency is directly connected to use of carbon based fuels like coal and (especially) oil.

This is why it amuses me when we talk about a “carbon tax.” If we want our airlines to produce a product and fly people around, they have no alternative but to emit carbon. If we want a farmer to farm his land, he has no alternative but to emit carbon. Basically, no one has any choice but to emit carbon if they want to accomplish anything with any kind of efficiency. If you do not agree with me, please, point me to the electric airplane or electric combine that can do the job. Even for cars, it’s a loss. If you bought an electric car today, what percentage of your power would be supplied by nukes, wind or solar? 10-20%? Tops.

In short: “carbon" taxes just another way of saying “raising taxes”. Why do you think so many people who believe in large socialist governments are for this idea? Now there’s a correlation I’d be interested to research more.

I love Python, but it's a mess

I'm just getting into Python 2.6 for the first time. Coming from 2.4, one of the things I've been really looking forward to is the relative module import added in Python 2.5

I banged out my first submodule. Great. Then I wrote a unit test module in that submodule and tried to do some relative imports with it. Got an error: "attempted relative import in non-package".

Huh, that's funny. I could have sworn I had files all the way up that chain. Yup, they're all there.

Well it turns out that if you use relative imports, you cannot run that module as main. You must import the module with relative imports within the context of the larger package. So much for writing your unit tests right there in the file.

Oh, but it turns out they have a fix for this! You can set the __package__ variable. If you're running your code as __main__, just catch it before your import and set your __package__ var. I have yet to see an example of this that works, but that's the concept in PEP 366. But wait, now I have to import my top level module to make this work as well! And it has to be in my sys.path. So, what, I end up with only 10 lines of custom code before the import just so I can run a unit test. Sounds good. (/Sarcasm off)

Importing in Python has been nothing short of a disaster for about 10 years, since the days of "ni" (new import). The very first thing I ever wanted to do with "ni" was import a directory of modules so I didn't have to do double-duty on maintenance. It still doesn't do that. and if you read the documentation on package importing, it actually says -- still -- that the reason they can't offer "from import *" is because of Windows 95. I'm not joking.

Python has a number of disaster areas like this. Len() is a good one. Another is requiring "self" for methods of a class. Python is a very, very useful language, but I'd argue that for Python 3.0 they focused on fixing a lot of inane nitpicks (print with no parens, anyone, or dict.has_key(), or removing my precious reduce() function) instead of fixing the real problems and inconsitencies.

If you're going to break the language, make it count and make it way better and more consistent, not just better in ways that suit personal pet peeves.

It's all bad until your guy does it.

Check out "The Silence of MoveOn" over at The Nation.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The world’s most idiotic bumper sticker

I just saw another one of these on the way back to the house:


Hey you Palestinians and Israelis!  Co-exist!  Chechen rebels, co-exist!  Hey, Mohammed Atta, co-exist!

“Na├»ve” is too tame a word to describe people who would put this on their car.  I’m glad San Francisco is surrounded by water on 3 sides and the idiocy can only spread so far.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Yay! Tax dodger wins Indy 500!

Of course, those of us without a team of lawyers and shell corporations will just keep paying our taxes like suckers.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

God is an Astronaut

I found this band via a random Reddit link earlier, bought their first album and have been completely blown away by it.  I’ve had it on loop now for hours.

Highly recommended.  The album is “The End of the Beginning” and is available on Last FM or their website for $8.  I chose to buy it, since I like to buy directly from the artist when possible.

Here are a couple videos from the album:

Coda from God is an Astronaut on Vimeo.

The End of the Beginning from God is an Astronaut on Vimeo.

“Don’t Stop Believin’” jumped the shark for me


This was the greatest rock song of all time. Now… I’m sorry, I can’t type anymore.

Nothing’s Made Here

I’m looking to buy a new drill.  You would think that a $300 drill from a company called “Milwaukee Tools” would be made in America.  Nope.

Milwaukee, Craftsman, DeWalt, Makita… all made in China now.

It’s no wonder this country is completely screwed.  If we can’t employ people making the basic tooling we need, how do we expect to employ them in a “service based economy” of using that tooling?

Thursday, May 21, 2009


What the hell is Cursive doing on Letterman?


They’re a ridiculously talented band – therefore WHAT ARE THEY DOING ON TV? 

The new album seems really good.  I had not heard it before I found this video a little while ago.  But if you want to have your mind blown, check Such Blinding Stars for Starving Eyes. I first discovered Cursive about 6 years ago when I bought that album and put it on repeat while working 100 hour weeks during a death march project.

Oh, and these guys are from Omaha – home of Warren Buffett.  Somehow that makes sense in bizarro world.

BTW, will music reviewers please stop labeling them as “emo”?  What an abused genre label that’s turned out to be.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Lifecycle of custom tooling for aircraft manufacturing

I remember reading in a Skunk Works book that they had a custom toolset for working on the SR-71. I imagine needing custom tools ends up being pretty common for cutting-edge military aircraft.

Here's my question: at what point do aircraft designers realize that they're going to have to mold and cast custom toolsets to fabricate an airplane? Does it happen at the design stage, while the aircraft is still on paper? Or do they start with off-the-shelf parts and ultimately the tools go through several iterations?

I'm asking because I am curious if a similar approach to the requirements/design lifecycle of can be taken for development of custom tools in support of a larger software project.

Friday, May 15, 2009

No more auto-detune!

I decided to listen to the "Top 100 songs on iTunes" list on Zune (they mirror the top 100, so subscribers can listen -- yes I resubscribed, I'm weak).

In any case, I've listened to 5 of the top 100 so far and 3 of them had that stupid auto-tune effect used by T-Pain, originally made popular by Cher. Of the Black Eyed Peas, Flo Rida, Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus and Jamie Foxx (with T-Pain), I think the only ones that didn't use the effect were Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus.

For those who don't know what I'm talking about, check out this spoof of auto-tuning.

I'm going to start calling this effect "auto detune", because it sounds so awful (except is very funny in the above).

Saturday, May 09, 2009

I is more stronger than Darth Vapor!

For those who haven’t seen it before.

BTW, this week’s internet meme is Play him off, Keyboard Cat,

Test Driven Development

A lot of people are ripping this video on the internets but I found it to be really, really good.



One of the criticisms of the speech I read here is that talking about TDD is outdated, because everyone should be doing it now.   I’m not sure what world that guy works in, because millions of lines of code shipped with no unit tests.  None.  I’m not even saying TDD here.. I’m saying unit tests in any form. 

TDD should be a mandate on any project running things with “agile”.   The ideas of agile cannot be reflected without code written in the TDD way.  For example, how is it supposed to be that any engineer can pick up any task on the board?   The only way to make something like that work is to use TDD.  They cannot verify that their addition has not broken the rest of the system without it.

Furthermore, what’s the point of having an acceptance test at a management level—a sticky on a board given to a product owner to verify—if we don’t do the same thing for our code?   How do you know something works, just because a it was verified at a user level?  It’s brittle, and foolish.  If one is to work on code in the agile framework, they should be writing acceptance tests—unit tests—ahead of their code. 

Anyway, fabulous presentation, no matter what you think of the Ruby/Rails community (they do seem to have quite a bit of entertaining infighting).

Friday, May 08, 2009

I wouldn’t hire these morons either

Wow, they have a college degree. So what. Most people who go to college shouldn’t be in college. They should know what they need to know by the 12th grade in order to function in society. That, or our K-12 schools have completely failed us. Because you know a communications degree from Siena college doesn’t mean shit, right? What the hell do you learn in that major, how to party in Loudonville?

Doctors, engineers, mathematicians, lawyers, physicists, chemists, biologists, vets, even agriculture or forestry majors… these are the people who can learn something more useful to society in college than in K-12. The exception is being a college professor – but that’s kind of recursive. You go to college and major in English to become a college professor in English. Because what the hell else would you do with that degree?

College, however, is a business. As such, they’ve conned millions of people into thinking that you need a college degree to do anything in life – and they’ve convinced employers that worthwhile candidates must have a college degree. Furthermore, colleges have convinced everyone that you have to specialize in very expensive ways. If you don’t believe me, check out Academy of Art in San Francisco. This “college” has to be one of the biggest scams around. I’ll get into that someday in a future post.

Also, I just want to point out that this girl is trying to find a job on Craigslist on her overpriced MacBook. If she was that desperate, go to the frickin library and use a computer there. I bet daddy bought this for her.

I additionally want to point out that she was serving drinks at Jake’s Dilemma, a bar I used to frequent on the Upper West Side. The great thing about this bar is they have dozens of beers on tap. It’s actually a great place to have a quality beer on draft, if it weren’t overrun by idiotic fratboys like the ones this girl caters to.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

How many DVD+Rs and CD-Rs to buy?

I'm running low on DVD+Rs and CD-Rs. I think the last time I bought any was at least 2-3 years ago.

How many should I buy, do you think? I'm wondering if 25 for each will be all I'll ever use in the rest of my life. Mostly for Windows installs on the DVD+R side, but even for that I've started using USB keys.

Not sure why I would need CD-Rs but they're so cheap I might as well buy a few more.

Please send your feedback to this dilemma in the comments.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Cisco VPN under Windows XP mode on Windows 7

For those of you who are looking for a solution to Cisco VPN on 64-bit versions of Windows 7:  it works in XP mode, at least in a non-tunneling way (so far).

  1. Install XP Mode for Windows 7 editions that support it (Pro, Ultimate)
  2. Launch into XP mode and install Cisco VPN
  3. Close down XP mode shell and you’ll see Cisco VPN added to your Windows 7 Start menu:

  4. Now you’ll be able to launch Cisco VPN from your Windows 7 session.

The next trick is to make a tunneling program between Windows 7 and the Cisco VPN that’s running on XP mode.  Depending on how ambitious I feel later, I may take this on.  If someone else does, let me know.  Anything to screw Cisco on this stupid x64 VPN ruse of theirs.  I got a quote that it would cost our company nearly $100K to support x64 clients (i.e. AnyConnect) because of Cisco’s refusal to make an x64 client.  That’s unacceptable--especially considering most companies have VPN concentrators that are still under support!

Friday, May 01, 2009

Jenny McCarthy should be in jail

You know how people think the government is oppressive for even talk that people be mandated to immunize their children? Well, this is on area where I'm willing to give up my libertarian views and say yes, the government should require vaccination or go to jail. And I am traditionally very skeptical of anything that is for "the greater good." But by not vaccinating, a person is needlessly putting children at risk before they can be vaccinated, and those people should be punished for that.

Furthermore, certifiable nutjobs like Jenny McCarthy who spread fear about vaccination, or those who allow them time on public airwaves should be fined by the FCC. I do not care about the first amendment on this. Children are needlessly dying because assholes like McCarthy use the Today show to spread fear. The media should be held liable for putting people like this on TV. If a producer at NBC would take the time to read McCarthy's website, it becomes obvious it reads like nutjob pseudoscience:

  • "Consider giving high doses of Vitamin C (3,000-5,000 mg per day) on the day before, of, and after vaccination."
  • "Consider no more than one vaccine per doctor’s visit."
Yet they still allow them on TV. Unbelievable.

Finally if this video about morons in Australia who refused to vaccinate doesn't rip your heart out and sway your opinion on this, you have no soul

Have I made myself clear?