Friday, January 30, 2009

20090130 Things Are Tough All Over

Companies are laying people off in droves
. Those whom have not lost their jobs are seeing their benefits evaporate and their salaries reduced while they are told that they now have to do the work of all of those missing people on top of their existing responsibilities.

It is happening at Microsoft also. You would think that it would happen there faster being that Vista has been a complete flop.

I found it a novel experience to read a story that finally begins to entertain the notion that the computing industry will survive one of it's greatest success stories.

Friday, January 23, 2009

20090123.1155 Lisp for the JVM : Clojure

I'm only about a year late to the party - but today I discovered Clojure - a flavor if the Lisp programming language that is specifically targeted at the Java Virtual Machine - which is to say that it compiles to bytecode.

That means that like Groovy, Scala, Jython and JavaFX - you can access Java class libraries (and frameworks) from your code.

This makes me ask the question out loud - with this many ways to use closures on the JVM - do we even NEED it in Java at this point? I have heard it said (on JavaPosse, IIRC) that closures will NOT be included in Java 1.7 - so perhaps James Gosling is asking the same question...

20090123 Code and Images

I love it when people do fun new things with code. This is a really fun hack that was done some time ago that I stumbled across today and thought I would share it.

All you need is knowledge of Perl (take some anti-depressants and watch the videos below) a little creativity and an image manipulation library.

I am certain that similar things can be done with Gimp and Scheme or Python. I'm sure I'll come across something worthy of posting eventually.

If you go in for this kind of thing and you're into Java - I should point out that Processing recently released the 1.0 version. I have been toying with pre-release versions of Processing for about a year now. It's deeeeep man.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

20090122 Online Education

Followers of my older blog (you know, both of you..) may remember that I'm a fan of online college courses - not the kind where you buy yourself a PhD for $50 - nonono... Rather the other side of the spectrum - the kind where you get no college credits but get access to the course materials for free. (see Good Will Hunting)

Why on Erf would I do such a thing? Um, to learn something - duh! "Getting credit" for it is only valuable to a certain point. Actually knowing something I have found to be more useful in the long run.

All that being said - I found an interesting course on Harvard's site that focuses on XML and uses Java. What is very nice about this is that you can actually listen to or watch the lectures as a podcast. They even include PDF's of the slides shown and the examples given.

Monday, January 12, 2009

20090112 Insanely Great Game!

Crayon Physics Deluxe from Petri Purho on Vimeo.

20090112 "They're going to come at you Sideways..."

The headline today from the New York Times is:
Obama is Urged to Open High-Tech Exports.
My first question is: Urged by Whom?
Answer: Brent Snowcrowft (see picture, seated in middle. Recognize the guy to his right?)

So, if I am reading this right - this is an off-handed attempt to change business regulations with regards to high-tech exports.

I think we should be very careful about that.

I have always said that the export restrictions on encryption technology for example are ridiculous. They we relaxed somewhat under Clinton - but the reality is that it places an unfair trade disadvantage upon American technology companies whom cannot compete in a flourishing global digital encryption industry because we are not allowed to export anything that works too well.

But on the other hand I am a paranoid with regards to the practice of outsourcing design and innovation. I see those as the core competencies of this country and we should covet them, as opposed to utterly exploiting them for short term gains.

America's weakness with regards to technology is Hubris. We advertise all of our secrets for attention to service our inflated sense of self-worth and just give them away to other countries who exploit their people savagely and sell our own favorite goods back to us at greatly discounted prices - no questions asked. It is a shameful cycle of contrived ignorance and egocentrism.

So what national secrets are we going to sell to some maniac with a blood vendetta to settle that no one noticed along the way so that some company can make their 30% annual growth target for another fiscal quarter? That is why we need to be careful. It is an all too real scenario as recent current events should teach us.

Monday, January 5, 2009

20090105 The Decider and the Environment

I wanted to link to some recent events with our President for the last 8 years and the EPA, so I did a Google search. I'm glad that I did. It allows me to paint with a wider brush now:
  • January 4, 2009 - Brown Takes on "Audacious" Bush EPA Plan
  • December 24, 2008 - Court orders EPA to stick with Bush clean air rules--for now
    ...allowing CAIR to remain in effect until it is replaced by a rule consistent with our opinion would at least temporarily preserve the environmental values...

  • December 18, 2008- E.P.A. Ruling Could Speed Up Approval of Coal Plants
    ...a memorandum issued by Mr. Johnson late Thursday puts the agency on record saying that carbon dioxide is not a pollutant to be regulated when approving power plants...
  • March 14, 2008 - Ozone Rules Weakened at Bush's Behest
  • September 30, 2007 - Bush's EPA is Pursuing Fewer Polluters
  • Pesticides and the Clean Water Act - November 2006

    In one of the Bush administration's typical "clarifications" that result in weakened standards, pesticides are no longer pollutants under certain conditions. Now, as long as companies apply pesticides deliberately over water to control mosquitoes, other insects, and aquatic weeds, they need no permits.

  • Particle Pollution - September 2006

    Despite the recommendations of its own science advisors, the EPA strengthens the daily standards for particle pollution , or soot, but not the annual one. Breathing soot can trigger and worsen asthma attacks and cause other lung and even heart problems, and the very next month National Public Radio reports even more alarming evidence. NPR is holding the EPA's own documents showing estimates of lives saved for both standards, indicating the tougher, rejected one would have saved thousands of lives more than the one the EPA chose to implement.

  • Mercury from Power Plants - March 2005

    The EPA institutes a cap-and-trade policy to reduce mercury emissions from coal power plants but not until 2010. This move not only delays any reductions in mercury, but it also marks the first time cap-and-trade has ever been instituted for a toxin. Mercury exposure can cause nerve, brain, and kidney damage.

  • Car Emissions - August 2003

    In what will become a familiar refrain throughout both terms of the Bush presidency, the EPA claims no authority over emissions from car and oil companies, meaning it refuses to regulate these very problematic greenhouse gases.

  • Ocean Vessel Emissions - January 2003

    January was not an easy month for air quality five years ago. The EPA instituted a long-awaited ruling on ships and other sea vessels, which are responsible for a large portion of air emissions. The new regulation? The EPA will "promote" new, cleaner engines but not require them - so more of a suggestion, really, and not so much a regulation.

  • Atrazine in Drinking Water - January 2003

    Atrazine is an herbicide linked to cancer in humans and animals, and it's banned in parts of Europe. During 2003, the EPA acknowledges that atrazine levels in the drinking water of over 1 million U.S. citizens have exceeded its own safety standards but chooses not to regulate it.

  • Arsenic in Drinking Water - May 2001

    The Bush administration withdrew a new EPA limit on arsenic in drinking water, down from 50 parts per billion (ppb), set in 1942 before researchers discovered arsenic's link to cancer, to 10 ppb. Plus, it suspended the right-to-know provisions that compelled water utilities and suppliers to inform customers about arsenic levels in water. Suspending the new, stricter standard would have set back over two decades of Congress's work to strengthen it in the first place, but a National Academy of Sciences review forced the EPA to retreat.

I need to go back & link all of these stories properly - but by trying too hard to make everything perfect I don't end up posting very often. So I'm just going to put this up as-is in the name of progress & sharing & stuff... MMMkay?