Monday, February 28, 2005

Clint Eastwood

Over the last thirteen years Clint Eastwood has directed three Oscar winning films with Unforgiven, Mystic River (best actor and supporting actor) and most recently Million Dollar Baby. But with all these recent accolades it's easy to forget Clint's been directing films since 1971. During that period he's directed a total of 28 films; many, while not Oscar contenders, have been very good and enjoyable works. There's been the great westerns: High Plains Drifter, Outlaw Josey Wales and Pale Rider. There's been the action films: Eiger Sanction, Firefox and Heartbreak Ridge. And then there's been his early more serious films like Bird and White Hunter Black Heart. I wouldn't mind having any of these films in my collection. Who would have thought that the guy most of use grew up thinking of as the cigar chewing gunfighter from High Plains Drifter or the magnum pack'n Dirty Harry was capable of such a feat. Clint's the man.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Ruby on Rails Odyssey

I spent a painful few hours over the past couple of weekends setting up Rails on an Windows Apache2 server. It wasn't rocket science, but the effort was complicated by a problem connecting with the server hosting the Rails documentation. Without any official documentation it took a lot of Googling for alternate sources of information and pouring over Apache docs before I got it running. The odd thing is, after all that work I don't have anything interesting to say about Rails. Sure it's cool how little code you need to write and it's fun to program in Ruby but I've yet to get really WOWed. Perhaps the real testament is that a guy with very rusty Ruby skill was able to get it up an running and make some modifications at all.

Freedom to Drink

As someone who enjoys beer, wine and spirits, the following report from the Center for Consumer Freedom documenting the activities of the neo-prohibitionary group The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is quite disturbing.


America's anti-alcohol movement is composed of dozens of
overlapping community groups, research institutions, and advocacy
organizations, but they are brought together and given
direction by one entity: the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
(RWJF). Based in Princeton, New Jersey, the RWJF has spent
more than $265 million between 1997 and 2002 to tax, vilify,
and restrict access to alcoholic beverages. Nearly every study
disparaging alcohol in the mass media, every legislative push to
limit marketing or increase taxes, and every supposedly 'grassroots'
anti-alcohol movement was conceived and coordinated at
the RWJF's headquarters. Thanks to this one foundation, the
U.S. anti-alcohol movement speaks with one voice.



I don't know much about either group, but the assertions made against the neo-prohibitionists do match my own observations of a slow but steady reduction of freedoms regarding alcohol consumption. I wont argue against the merit of some of these restrictions, but I do worry about a continuing effort to push the boundary past what I see a reasonable compromise between safety and freedom.




Full Report


Via The Center For Consumer Freedom

Monday, February 21, 2005

ACM Queue - A conversation with Alan Kay

This has been around for a while but I hadn't seen it: an interview with Alan Kay, the creator of Smalltalk, talking about programming language evolution, Java and how he wishes things were different. It contains many interesting insights into a very smart man's brain.



We looked at Java very closely in 1995 when we were starting on a major set of implementations, just because it's a lot of work to do a viable language kernel. The thing we liked least about Java was the way it was implemented. It had this old idea, which has never worked, of having a set of paper specs, having to implement the VM (virtual machine) to the paper specs, and then having benchmarks that try to validate what you've just implemented, and that has never resulted in a completely compatible system.


via acm Queue

The Perks of Blogging


As I write this post, I'm wearing a nice new Belichick for President T-shirt I received as a thank you from the folks over at Tailgate Outdoorwear. Back in August I mentioned the shirt and linked to them after hearing about their product on the radio. I never expected to hear from them and certainly I didn't expect a free shirt, but I'm certainly happy that that's how things worked out. I'm glad I can help drive a little traffic to local small company like theirs.


I wore the shirt to my friend's son's hockey game yesterday and it was quite the attention getter. A couple of people actually came up to me to ask about it and I caught a lot more people reading it and smiling.


I like wearing the shirt but I may buy a second one just to keep as a souvenir. In ten years or so when Belichick has surpassed Lombardi in everyone's minds as the greatest football coach ever, they could be a real collectors item.


That got me thinking, the folks at Tailgate Outdoorwear should do a green shirt with faded graphics saying "Lombardi for President in 68.". It might not sell in New England but the folks in Wisconsin would eat it up.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Developingstorm Parody

I received an email from Mike Kudla, an old Iris co-worker, today featuring, among other things, a parody of my posting style. I'm both flattered that Mike reads my blog and impressed with his keen ability to capture the essence of developingstorm. Thanks Mike.



As I was surfing the web, looking for references about how late in the year we get snow of at least 5" here in the Boston area, I came across this reference to 5 rattlesnake attacks in the greater Littleton area, since the year 1900. Of course, 5 Being Nomar's number, as well as the number of world championships the Red Sox captured before Babe was sold to the Yankees, is also the optimal number of beers one can consume before
worrying about the effects of a potential hangover (From www.amianalcoholic.com)


This actually reminded me of something I had wanted to blog about, Rhododendron nectar. Did you know honey made from Rhododendron nectar can be toxic? I read about this originally while planning a hiking trip in Nepal. The trip fell through, but the esoteric knowledge about Himalayan bees remains. You can read more about this on the web at: Himalayan Honeybees. Is that arcane enough for you Mike?

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Boxing Web

While looking for some information on Intel's virtualization technology code named Vanderpool I stumbled across a web site for a Canadian super middleweight boxer named Syd the Jewel Vanderpool (that does have a nice ring). I didn't know up and coming boxers had web sites.


For fun, I looked around more and found sites for champions and pitch men like George Foreman, Evander Holyfield and perhaps Mike Tyson. There are probably a lot more, I just don't follow boxing much so my knowledge of fighters is limited. It's a shame really that boxing has fallen off the radar screen of an average sports fan like myself. It's such a pure and elegant sport.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

High Art?


I just read that a private art collector from New York has paid $590,000 for two painting by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge - the guy who painted all the dogs playing poker pictures. Given how common the phrase 'pictures of dogs playing poker' is used as a metaphor for saying bad taste in art, I'm a bit surprised by this. But then again, if I had money to burn I probably would have bought them myself. I like dogs and I like poker so why not? Besides, kitsch is cool.


If you want to see the entire portolio of Coolidge's dog art follow this link:


C.M. Coolidge (1844-1934) Greatest Artist of the 19th and 20th Centuries

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Separated at Birth?



OK, maybe not, but Richard Branson's eyes just look weird in this photo.

7E7 Dreamliner now the 787

Ever since I heard about Boeing's plans for a new plane called the 7E7 Dreamliner I've been feeling disappointed; Boeing planes have numbers not fancy names and I wasn't ready for a change. Last night while watching the tube I was happy to see an old Boeing commercial for the Dreamliner that had been updated to add the 787 moniker to the plane.


An interesting side note to this change is that it may well have been done to make the plane appeal to Chinese flyers who consider the number 8 lucky. China placed the first big order for 60 of these new planes.



Boeing 7E7 to die, but 787 to be born

Friday, February 11, 2005

Isomorphism and SOAs

Unless you're a software geek this link wont make a lot of sense but if you are and you ever struggle with communicating complex ideas, I think you will appreciate Steve Maine's fine post about service-oriented architectures. I'm not embroiled enough in SOAs to have a strong opinion about the validity of the conclusions but the clarity of the arguments make it worth reading regardless.




For a while now, I've had this gut feeling that the move toward service-orientation represented the postmodern evolution of software development, but could never really put my finger on why this was the case until a few minutes ago. It has to do with the idea that the canonical form is just another equivalent representation of an isomorphic system. The fact that the canonical form is canonical doesn't mean it's somehow "better" or "more accurate" than any of its isomorphic brethren - it's not special just because it's canonical. For example, the fact that Big Ben is not the canonical form of a 'timepiece' does not mean that Big Ben is any less of a timepiece than, say, a wristwatch. Specifically (and this is where philosophy comes in), the canonical form is not some neo-Platonic idealized representation of a 'thing' that all the other 'things' are aspiring to be. Its canonical nature arises by convention, not from some inner philosophical superiority. The recognition that the canonical form is on equal footing ontologically with all of its isomorphisms is a rejection of the modern neo-Platonic ideal; hence, the postmodern substitution of 'truth' for the much fuzzier idea of 'constructed convention'. I may be stretching this but it seems to make sense to me

Blister Proof Shoes and Other Ramblings


Why are these shoes blister proof? Because they're made of mole skin!


Sorry, that was a bad joke.


The real point of this post is just to point out a couple of blogs I recently found. One is called Luxist and it reports on extreme luxury items. I found Luxist while looking for information on the new smaller siblings to the monster International CXT truck, the RXT and MXT. I didn't learn much about the new truck models but I did get to see pictures of Aston Kutcher's CXT, complete with dumping kit.


The second blog is one called near near future (at we-make-money-not-art.com) and it's focus appears to be art and design. This is where I found the cool mole shoes. Also of interest here was a post about i-Mature, a security company developing age identifying biometric technology.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Becky's Photos


If you're one of my IBM related readers you probably already know Becky Gibson. Becky worked at Iris on Notes/Domino and has spoken at a lot conferences on various JSP and Java related topics. What you may not have known is that Becky is also quite the amateur photographer. Becky recently took a trip to Antarctica where she took some really amazing photos. With her permission, here's a link to some of her pictures.

Modern Drunkard Revisited

The folks at Modern Drunkard have written a very funny article on 'The Subtle Art of Beer Snobbery'. Like everything from Modern Drunkard it's very irreverent, but then what else would you expect from a magazine with such a name.




Thirty years ago the only terms you needed to express a beer's character were 'tastes great' and 'less filling.' The microbrew explosion, however, made it necessary to invent literally hundreds of new adjectives to explain how great or non-filling a beer truly is. Fortunately, you won't have to memorize most of them because most are fake words that drunk beer experts made up on the spot and probably winced at when they saw them in print later. What else can explain why grown men are using terms like Chlorophenolic, Balling Degrees, Sparge and Kräusening to describe something that can be purchased in the form of a Party Ball?



Another thing I learned on my visit to Modern Drunkard was a dirty little secret about Jack Daniels. Did you know that they just dropped the alcohol content from 86 proof down to 80? Is anything sacred anymore?

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Beverage Tool


Damien's recent post about pliers reminded me of one of my favorite tools - the Klein Beverage Tool. You may think I'm joking but I'm not. Sure, it's just a glorified bottle opener but if you could feel its heft, comfortable grip and sturdy construction as it effortlessly peels away the top to one of you're favorite beverages, you would totally understand.


I learned about the Klein Beverage Tool a friend who works as lineman for a local town. He had received his as a gift for placing a large tool order. After opening just one beer with it I had to have my own.


Most great tools are pretty pricey but the Klein Beverage Tool is a steal at just $6.50. If you like to drink beer while you camp or fish or just hang around your garage this is a great tool. I highly recommend it.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Star Wars Episode III

I have high hopes for Revenge of the Sith. Given the darker story line of the turning of Vader it just has to be better than the previous two franchise spoiling episodes. While the trailer looks pretty good, it was in fact this spoof that's gotten me more psyched about seeing the film. I hope the real film is as good as this parody is.



Spoof link via Ben Poole

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Super Bowl XXXIX Prediction

Last year I correctly prognosticated the winner of the Super Bowl. My methodology included a complex system that evaluated a combination of factors including player strengths, grass density and what team wore my favorite colors. Using this sophisticated system, I've plugged in all the variables and I am once again predicting the New England Patriots will win.



Patriots: 28

Eagles: 17



Another prediction for this years game:

Troy Brown will scores four times: an end zone reception, a returned interception, a punt return for a score and a touchdown pass. Just remember you heard it here first.












Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Heterogeneous-shmeaneous

I hate the pronunciation of the words heterogeneous and homogeneous, those last couple syllables are such tongue twisters. Back about a year ago I was pondering why we say homogenous milk instead of homogeneous milk or heterogeneous systems instead of heterogenous systems and I looked up their definitions. To my surprise the dictionary said that heterogenous and heterogeneous are synonyms as are homogeneous and homogenous.


With this knowledge in hand, I've decided to change the world and I'm asking for your help. Every time you want to say heterogeneous say heterogenous instead. Say it now: het-e-rog-e-nous. See how it just flows off the tongue. Now say het-e-row-geeeeee-kneeee-ouus. Am I right or am I right?


Please know, you will be corrected when you say this. I can assure you from experience, you will be corrected, but stick to your guns and say it anyway. The world will be a better place.


Note: On the milk issue homogenous in this usage is just a bastardization of homogonized so homogeneous doesn't make much sense.

 
The Out Campaign: Scarlet Letter of Atheism