kiranlightpaw: kiran_likeshine (Default)

Done All domains are off GoDaddy now.


If Bob Parsons whats to kill elephants, shamelessly and misogynistically exploit women, and support laws that will destroy the Internet as we know it, they're going to do so without my money.

kiranlightpaw: kiran_likeshine (Default)
You know, I've been on the Internet a fucking long time. I've been into the belly of the beast and emerged out it's asshole (also known as 4chan). I've seen so much sick and crazy shit over the years that I literally thought that there was nothing left that could shock me. 

I was wrong. This made me fucking RAGE and nearly cry.

I would advise you not to watch the accompanying video unless you have an exceptionally strong composure. I only lasted about 30 seconds before I couldn't take it. I don't have kids (yet :P) but I couldn't even begin to imagine treating them this way. No child deserves to be treated the way this monster has behaved.

To my friends in Texas, please do what you can to spread this around. Be sure that Judge William Adams meets justice for his actions.
kiranlightpaw: kiran_likeshine (Default)
Unlike Steve Jobs, unless you're in the tech industry, there's a pretty fair chance you've never heard of Dennis Ritchie.

However, to those of us who make a living writing software, Dennis Ritchie was well known as the creator of the C language (considered by many to be the "mother tongue" of computer programming languages - the language from which many, many others were derived). He was also one of the key developers of UNIX, which underpins the majority of computers on the planet (directly including OS X, indirectly Linux and many others - here's a "family tree" of everything descended from UNIX).

Considering that PHP, the language I primarily work in, and Objective-C, my current favorite language both derive from C, I'd say I owe Dennis a pretty significant debt. I raise my glass to you, Mr. Ritche. RIP.

Steve Jobs

Aug. 25th, 2011 11:47 am
kiranlightpaw: (apple)
So, unless you've been living under a rock, you now know that Steve Jobs is no longer CEO of Apple. Yesterday, he resigned from his position as CEO, but announced that he will remain on as Chairman of the Board. In essence, he's doing what Bill Gates did at Microsoft: leaving behind all the boring parts of being CEO.

There are some parts in this that I think are important to keep in perspective:
  1.  Steve Jobs is not leaving Apple. He's stepping down as CEO, but staying on as Chairman of Board. He remains Apple's largest shareholder as well.
  2. Tim Cook has been effectively running Apple since January as acting CEO. Essentially, this is just formalizing that arrangement.
  3. We all knew this day was coming. Steve won't last forever, but he's still gonna be involved in Apple for now. Just at a higher level.
A lot of the media seems to have taken his announcement as his "grand finale." As if he's riding off into the sunset never to be heard from again. This just doesn't seem the case to me.

Still, reading the platitudes from the press is yet another indication of how one driven individual can do amazing things by inspiring others to do amazing things. This list of quotes in the Wall Street Journal was a great read. But of all the quotes, this one struck me as particularly prophetic:

“The most compelling reason for most people to buy a computer for the home will be to link it to a nationwide communications network. We’re just in the beginning stages of what will be a truly remarkable breakthrough for most people––as remarkable as the telephone.” 

He said that in an interview with Playboy in 1985.
 
Also, on a side note, Tim Cook is now the CEO of Apple. He's also an Auburn grad (he even spoke at Commencement a few years back), so a big bit of pride for my alma mater there. :P
kiranlightpaw: kiran_likeshine (Default)
"No dictator, no invader can hold an imprisoned population by force of arms forever. There is no greater power in the universe than the need for freedom. Against that power, governments and tyrants and armies cannot stand." - G'kar, Babylon 5

"People with a passion can change the world for the better." - Steve Jobs
I sit here watching Egyptians partying in Tahrir Square on the Internet. Mostly because Al Jazeera is the only group that hasn't just totally halfassed the coverage of what has unfolded a half a world away. However, I did flip on CNN to watch some coverage on there.

The interviewed several of the protesters and organizers. All of them young - even relative to me, and I ain't exactly a greymuzzle - and all of them taking the time to actually thank for making the revolution possible. What were they thanking? Facebook and Twitter. One guy even said he hoped he could meet Mark Zuckerberg and thank him personally.

It occurs to me that these are the Digital Natives coming of age and taking power. To these people, the Internet is an integral part of their life, and have no memory a time before using the Internet to communicate. They think nothing of talking to people around the world. They've been exposed to worldwide ideas. Social and political borders mean nothing to them. They're all old ideas. The ideas of their parents.

We are just now beginning to grasp the social ramifications of a worldwide network that connects all people. The Internet is, for lack of a better analogy, like a virus that infects the world's population. People can access the world's repository of knowledge, and talk with people around the world with minimal effort. They can organize with minimal effort. This communication infects them with ideas of freedom and a desire to communicate.

Now, to be sure, the Internet didn't get out there and protest. The Internet didn't physically stand in Tahrir Square and chant protests against Mubarak. The Internet didn't take gunshots for freedom. But the Internet and social media did provide the tools and the framework in which the revolution could be organized. People will always be the ones taking action. But the ability to communicate - quickly, efficiently, and massively, in such a way that was unthinkable twenty years ago - is going to completely reshape the way the world works going forward.

Iran was the warmup. Egypt and Tunisia are the warning shots to nations around the world: neglect your people at your own peril.

Now, as for Egypt. The optimist in me hopes for a democratic republic. The pessimist in me fears a military dictatorship or, worse, an Islamic dictatorship. I guess we'll know soon enough.
 

FlightPrep

Dec. 19th, 2010 10:39 pm
kiranlightpaw: (pissedoff)
Those of you who follow me on Twitter might have noticed me railing against a company called FlightPrep. You may be wondering, what exactly is the big deal?

The short of the story is, there were a bunch of websites out there dedicated to flight planning. Some of the best ones (SkyVector, Flyagogo, NACOmatc and, best of all RunwayFinder) allowed you to plot a course overlaying a VFR Chart the same way you would in Google Maps. You could modify your route simply by dragging it about, and click airports along the route to get current weather reports. It was kinda like Google Maps for preflight intelligence.

Well, along comes this company called FlightPrep, who decided they weren't getting rich enough (just ignore the owner's $500k boat). So they convinced the USPTO to give them a patent on, bluntly, drawing digital lines on a digitized chart. The filed for the patent in 2005 (after a number of the sites above were already online), but used legal sleight-of-hand to get it backdated to 2001. Eventually, after a number of rejections, they were able to find a friendly clerk and were awarded the patent.

They then immediately lawyered up and started going after all of these free flight planning websites, many of which were simply hobbies of some pilots who also happened to know how to program. They requested that these sites "license the technology" (what a ludicrous thing to say, being that the sites pre-dated FlightPrep's patent) or face lawsuits with damage claims of $149 per unique IP per month.

So what happened? SkyVector settled and "licensed." NACOmatic, Flyagogo and RunwayFinder all shut down under threat of lawsuit. They've also gone after FlightAware, Jeppesen and the AOPA with no success, so far.

It's pretty clear that, instead of innovating, they're litigating. Rather than develop some radical new technology, they're abusing the patent system in an attempt to corner the market.

Bluntly, I'm pissed because they robbed me of a tool (RunwayFinder) that I loved and that was highly useful for a student pilot.

But, general aviation is a small community, and the backlash against FlightPrep has been a beautiful if small-scale example of what happens when you abuse your target market. Within the course of a week, they've become a pariah and the most hated company in general aviation. They had to close off their Facebook page because it was being overrun with people voicing their opinion, and their products are receiving highly negative reviews in all markets. The story even made it to TechDirt (thanks in a very small part to yours truly).

But, while this is all great, it doesn't bring back RunwayFinder. Even though Dave from RunwayFinder has decided to fight back, he faces a long uphill climb to have this asinine patent thrown out.

In the end, it's just sad. As I said, GA is a small community where nobody is getting rich. We're all supposed to be on the same team.
kiranlightpaw: kiran_likeshine (Default)
Finished wiring in the closet this morning. It turned out to be a bigger project than I was anticipating. Started last night identifying the outlets (when I initially wired the house back in 2007 when I bought it, I didn't do a good job of identifying the drops), putting them through the wall and punching down the keystones. This morning I made cables and connected everything up to the switch before work.


Before


After
kiranlightpaw: kiran_likeshine (Default)
Seriously thinking about tossing a copy of Fuzzball MUCK on my server and going all old school. Anybody'd be in for it?

New Server

May. 31st, 2010 09:17 pm
kiranlightpaw: kiran_likeshine (Default)
Ordered a new (used) server: a Dell Poweredge SC1425. This one will replace the one that's been in various racks over the last four years ... the same one I infamously drove overnight to Atlanta to install back in 2006. I figure it's time to finally retire it.

Old and busted: 1 2.26ghz Celeron, 1gb memory, 150gb hard drive. New hotness: 2 2.8ghz Xeons, 2gb memory, 1tb hard drive.

The parts should be arriving this week. Hopefully, I'll be able to rack it before the end of the week.
kiranlightpaw: (apple)
So, yes, I bought an iPad. I'll buy pretty much anything with an Apple logo on it. If Steve Jobs put the Apple logo on a Yugo, I'd want one of those, too. Having said that, here are my thoughts on the iPad after 24 hours.
  • The battery life is as amazing as they claimed. I plugged it into my Macbook Pro yesterday (through a hub) to sync it up. It wouldn't charge from the hub, so it was just running on battery. In the 4 hours I spent loading it up and messing with it, the battery only dropped about 20%. I charged it at home while we went to dinner (back to 100%), and used it all evening, for about 4 hours and it only went down to about 85%.

  • The display is gorgeous. There's no way around it. Between the battery and the display, it was totally worth the price. The colors are vibrant and deep. Watching a movie on it was far better than my previous attempts at watching movies on mobile devices (first on my iPod 5G, and then on my iPhone) and even better than my laptop (because I can hold it more comfortably).

  • It is fucking fast. Amazingly fast. Nothing like my iPhone. Scrolling is smooth, the animations are smooth, apps start and stop quickly. I'll be interested to see how this continues, but for now the speed is amazing. I hope they put the A4 in the next iPhones.

  • The bigger keyboard is a massive improvement over the tiny one on the iPhone. And while I'm nowhere near the speed I would be on my laptop or a fullsize keyboard, it's remarkably easy to use considering you're typing on glass. I'm probably about as fast on it as I am on any tiny netbook keyboard.

  • I feel like I'm Captain Picard in fucking Star Trek walking around with this thing. I keep telling people to "Make it so!" Not really anything to do with the iPad per se, but I think it's pretty sweet.
There are a few things that irritate me:
  • Charging seems to be slow - closer to the length of time it takes to charge my Macbook Pro rather than my iPhone. Which makes sense, really, as the battery size is probably closer as well. Still, if you're running low on juice, don't expect to get much out of a 15 minute charge on the airport floor.

    It will also only charge when plugged directly into my laptop or plugged into the wall. It won't charge through even a powered hub. Again, this makes sense, as the hub probably only supplies enough power to actually run devices, and not charge them. Still, it would have been a nice feature, considering my iPhone can do that so when I travel I usually just bring the sync cable.

  • The screen gets smudgy after use. Nothing you can really do about that - it's the same complaint I have with my iPhone. Just have to wipe it off occasionally.

  • It's heavier than I would have expected. Not uncomfortably heavy at all - I can still use it with one hand - but it could use to lose a few ounces.

  • No multitasking support (well, insofar as it's the same as the iPhone). But it looks like that's about to be fixed.

  • I wish iTunes on the iPad could natively stream content from network iTunes shares, but that's kind of an edge use case scenario, and I think there are other apps already in the app store that can accomplish the same thing.

  • No flash support. This has been done to death, but frankly, I really don't miss it. Flash is a resource hog and a dying technology soon to be supplanted by HTML5's canvas in most use cases. Besides, most of the sites I've browsed to - yes, that includes Youtube and CNN - already support HTML5 and work just fine on iPad.
Overall, I'm very happy with it and consider it a worthwhile purchase.

And, much like the iPhone (and iPod, and any Apple device), I think a lot of the people criticizing it are doing so without reason, or are doing so out of the hipster mentality that they must criticize anything that's cool in order to be cool themselves. The device (as I've indicated above) is not without its faults and it could rightly be criticized on those faults, but I think a lot of the things people are criticizing the device about are not things that it is actually designed to accomplish. So, if you'll indulge me, allow me to explain how I see this device.

It's pretty much exactly what Steve Jobs said it would be. It's emphatically not a computer replacement and it's not an iPhone replacement. It's a separate device from those, and is not intended to duplicate the functionality of those other devices. I wouldn't want to make calls on my iPad - I have a phone for that. I don't want to connect my camera or other devices to my iPad - I have a laptop for that.
  • It's fantastic for traveling. I can take this on an airplane with me and it would be good for heavy use for a flight from Atlanta to Rome (Italy, not Georgia!). Considering I'll be flying to San Jose next week, I should stay entertained for the entire flight at half battery. I can watch movies and listen to music. I can connect it to inflight wireless to surf the web or check my email.

    The form factor makes it perfect for this. I can just barely open my laptop in a coach class airline seat, and I have to do funky things with my arms to be able to type. But the form factor on the iPad means I'll have plenty of room. I can sit it on my lap or on the tray table.

  • It's great for mindless couch surfing. A lot of times when I'm sitting on the couch with my laptop on my lap, I'm not actually doing anything that requires that kind of processing power. I'm usually just surfing - checking the news, reading Wikipedia, whatever. For that, this is great, and more comfortable to boot.

  • It's great for meetings. Occasionally, we'll have long meetings at work. A lot of times, I have my laptop in these meetings but I'm not really doing anything with it other than referencing tickets and taking notes. With iPad, I don't need to hunt for a power cord. The battery will get me through the longest of meetings.
Seeing a trend here?

The iPad is not meant to be the everything-to-everyone device that a full computer can be. It's meant to be a specialized companion device used in situations where using either a mobile phone or laptop really doesn't make a lot of sense, but you do it anyway because you don't have the option.
kiranlightpaw: kiran_likeshine (Default)
I’ve never been one to be unwilling to try something new, especially when it comes to computer software. Still, it’s easy to become set in my ways when it comes to programs I use every day, almost to the point where I am unwilling to look into alternatives. This usually means I overlook creeping problems until they finally piss me off.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve transitioned away from two pieces of software I’ve used for years.

The first to “go,” (and I use that term loosely, because both of these programs I still use in limited situations) is Mozilla Firefox. I simply cannot abide Firefox’s Mac performance problems anymore. Startup and shutdown times are measured in minutes - and this is on a 16-month-old Macbook Pro. At times it consumes close to 1 gigabyte of memory, crashes randomly and often, at the end of the day, simply has to be force-quitted so I can just go home.

In its place: Google Chrome. I experimented with using Safari, but its limited plugin selection was a turnoff. I’ve had my eye on Chrome since it was first released for Windows, but was held back, first by the lack of a Mac release at all, then by a lack of a Mac release with extensions. With the most recent release of Chrome for Mac, it finally gained extension support. So after feeling particularly anti-Firefox a few weeks ago, I gave Chrome a whirl and ... I really, really like it.

It’s fucking fast. Incredibly fast. Amazingly fast. Starts up in under a second and, even after a day of heavy browsing, still shuts down in under three seconds. It renders pages incredibly fast. And, having the tabs as independent processes means that, if something goes wrong in a tab, all I have to do is close it. All in all, it’s a very nice browser.

It’s not all perfect, to be sure. There’s no working Greasemonkey in Chrome yet, and the developer tools aren’t anywhere near as good as the ones on Firefox (the inspector built into Chrome is no replacement for Firebug). Pendule is good, but it’s not Web Developer Toolbar. And the version of Adblock for Chrome is usable and gets 90% of ads, but doesn’t block as much Adblock+ on Firefox. But, for day-to-day browsing, it’s Google Chrome now. I only fire up Firefox when I need to do heavy development work or to test.

The other piece just happened today: Xjournal. Ever since I switched to Mac three years ago, I’ve used Xjournal to post to LiveJournal. But it’s always been a begrudging acceptance. While Xjournal seemed to be the best LJ client for Mac, it was nowhere near as good as Semagic was on the PC. It had no WYSIWYG support, limited preview support and was generally a pain to use. But the final straw was the recent upgrade to Snow Leopard. Something inside Xjournal isn’t Snow Leopard compatible, causing it to freeze and randomly crash.

In its place: MacJournal. This is a pay software (and can currently be had as part of the MacHeist Nanobundle, which is how I got it), but it’s pretty amazing quality. And, in addition to LJ, it supports MetaWeblog, Movable Type, Atom and Wordpress. It allows you to use multiple journals simultaneously (something Xjournal couldn’t really do), has WYSIWYG support and a lot more. It can even upload images for you to hosting services or to your own FTP server. Totally worth my $19.

So my little ecosystem has been shaken up, but with change comes a chance to explore something new.
kiranlightpaw: kiran_likeshine (Default)
Newsweek, in 1995, published an article by Clifford Stoll titled "Hype alert: Why cyberspace isn’t, and will never be, nirvana."

http://threewordchant.com/2010/02/24/why-the-internet-will-fail-from-1995/

Well, now it's 15 years later. A relative blink of an eye. Hell, I can remember what I was doing back in 1995 - a kid playing with this newfangled thing called "the Internet," that very few people understood but some visionaries had the foresight to realize was going to completely change the world.

Let's see some of the areas where Stoll got it absolutely wrong:
  • "The truth in no online database will replace your daily newspaper, no CD-ROM can take the place of a competent teacher and no computer network will change the way government works."

    Pretty much every newspaper has some online presence, from the largest New York Times publisher to the smallest hometown O-A News. Every instrument of government is now connected to the Internet, and contacting my representatives is online, making it easier than ever for them to ignore me.

    He is correct that no CD-ROM will ever replace a teacher. Although we don't use CD-ROMs anymore. But while all this technology is great, instruction will continue to be the domain of humans for the foreseeable future. However, technology certainly makes instruction easier and more fun.

  • Yet Nicholas Negroponte, director of the MIT Media Lab, predicts that we’ll soon buy books and newspapers straight over the Intenet. Uh, sure.

    Amazon.com. Barnes and Noble.com. Kindle. Nook. iPad. Buy wirelessly over the air anywhere I am.

  • Then there’s cyberbusiness. We’re promised instant catalog shopping–just point and click for great deals. We’ll order airline tickets over the network, make restaurant reservations and negotiate sales contracts. Stores will become obsolete. So how come my local mall does more business in an afternoon than the entire Internet handles in a month? Even if there were a trustworthy way to send money over the Internet–which there isn’t–the network is missing a most essential ingredient of capitalism: salespeople.

    Yup. All that has happened. Moreover, I've done almost all that in just the last month! I buy all the time online. I haven't bought an airline ticket any other way than online in years. Last weekend, when we went out to Melting Pot, I made our reservation online.

    And while stores are not yet obsolete, there are certain times of the year - Christmas - I won't go anywhere near a brick and mortar establishment. The crowds are terrible. But why should I, when I can do it all online and have it delivered to my door?

    And the best part? I don't have to deal with pushy salespeople! I'm not a moron - I know what I want and I can use the gasp Internet to research!

  • Computers and networks isolate us from one another. A network chat line is a limp substitute for meeting friends over coffee.

    I hear this one all the time, for years. I have one word: Facebook. Right now, thanks to the Internet, I am more connected to the lives of those around me than at any point in my life. And while he is correct that it isn't a substitute for human contact, my social circle is now larger than at any other time ever. It makes it easier to arrange that human contact.
Granted, we have luxury of 20/20 hindsight, but when someone talks about something "won't" happen in the future, you should always think of this. Just because it wasn't there in February of 1995 doesn't mean that engineers wouldn't solve the problems and get there. The surprising thing is that it happened so fast!

Moreover, if the innovators of the 90s had listened to luddites like Stoll (and lest you think this piece is ironic, he wrote a book that, no shit irony, is available at Amazon.com) we might not have had the complete information revolution that we're still living through.

So never let anyone tell you you can't do something. Stick with it, and look forward to seeing egg on their face in 15 years.
kiranlightpaw: kiran_likeshine (Default)
When you work across multiple devices and multiple computers on a daily basis, keeping the information you expect to be there the same across all of them used to be a monstrous pain. This is where synchronization comes in.

I have 3 "computers" I use every day: my iMac, my Macbook Pro, and my iPhone. On each of those computers, I have several programs that may need to access the same type of data.

Bookmarks are synchronized using Xmarks. This allows me to sync them across Safari, Google Chrome and Firefox. And because the bookmarks are sync'd to Safari via a background process, I can use Mobileme to sync them to my iPhone. All this happens in the background, without me having to think about it. I just add a bookmark somewhere, and minutes later it's reflected everywhere else.

Email rules, accounts and signatures are synchronized via Mobileme and appear on all my computers and my iPhone. Contacts are sync'd via Mobileme and appear everywhere. Same with calendars, except calendars is the real win. I can make an calendar entry on my iPhone, and it's instantly sync'd to my calendars on my laptop and desktop.

I have some files and programs that I need access to, I sync those with Mobileme across all my devices via iDisk. I can access those everywhere, even on my iPhone. I even created a directory in there called "Scripts;" with a change to my bash path on my Macs, any scripts I write are sync'd too.

And all this stuff happens more or less instantly and completely transparently to me. Via the Internet and over the air for the iPhone. I don't even have to plug anything in. It just happens. I can't believe computers ever worked any other way, and there is no way I can do without it now.

Xmarks is free. Mobileme is $99 a year, but totally worth it simply in the headache I save in not having to deal with disparate data spread over 3 devices.
kiranlightpaw: kiran_likeshine (Default)
"Twitter me gently, twitter me sweet.
I’ll follow you anywhere you tweet.
The system is fragile, the birds are weak.
So twitter me gently and I’ll be complete."

-Matthew Ebel, Twitter Me Gently
It's that time of year again. Time for me to start ordering all the things that will break be used at Furry Weekend Atlanta this year.

One of the things we're doing this year is retiring our thin-client based registration and sales system in favor of more modern, small form factor computers. The thin clients have worked well for 5 years now, but they're getting increasingly hard to find and expensive to use. So the new system will be based on used Dell GX-270 SFF machines running Ubuntu Linux to avoid any licensing issues.

So I soured the web for a merchant that would cut us a deal on 20 of these machines, and finally found one. 20 machines for $1300 including shipping, or $65 a machine, is about what we were paying for the thin clients, and these will have a lot better lifespan and be eminently more usable. They also support wireless, so less running cable!

So I placed the order Friday two weeks ago. And within hours I had shipping information. And then I found out about Sarah's grandfather and that we'd be going out of town precisely when FedEx was supposed to deliver the computers. Crap. So I call FedEx and arrange to have them delivered the following Monday when I will be home.

So fast forward to Thursday. Just after the funeral. We're eating lunch at the post-funeral meal, and my phone buzzes. I check. Emails from FedEx saying they've delivered all 20 boxes to my house in Alabama. Where its raining. Great. Wonderful. 20 boxes are probably sitting in the rain in front of my house. So I call FedEx. The agent on the phone was singularly unhelpful, too. He just said, yeah, they've been delivered, nothing he could do about it or knew why it happened.

I called [livejournal.com profile] koakako and asked him to run by my house and rescue them when he got a change. Then, in frustration, I sent out a tweet: "So Fedex just really fucked me. And not in the good way either."

About 20 minutes later, my phone buzzed again. Someone had replied to my tweet ... from FedEx, asking me what the problem was. I replied back with a few tweets about how $1300 in computer equipment was sitting in front of my house when I was 1,000 miles away, and sent her a tracking number.

Didn't hear anything for about an hour and a half.

Then, I got a tweet back. "The terminal sent a driver to pick up your packages. They are now on hold."

Yay Twitter. And sure enough, Monday afternoon, my packages were delivered. So while I still don't know why my message to hold the packages was never received here, I nonetheless applaud FedEx for using a very Web 2.0 way to solve the problem.

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Kiran Lightpaw

December 2013

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