Most punditry is pure entertainment

I’ve been claiming that pundits like Ann Coulter were a type of entertainer for a long time, but it was impressive the way Monday’s Daily Show nailed it home.

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Turnabout?

Regarding the message “There’s probably no God".” on 800 London Buses (in response to a religious one telling people to look up a biblical verse telling them they are going to hell), there was a woman tourist from LA is quoted: “I think it’s dreadful,”  … ”Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I don’t like it in my face.”

I really enjoy the irony, and the bonus irony that the “probably” was added to meet advertising guidelines.

Silverlight, Netflix and Tech Support

In response to some news from Netflix regarding the need for less specialized tech support after going to silverlight, the correct answer is “Duh”. Doing your own custom ActiveX control means a lot of exposure to install and platform issues goes away or becomes someone else’s tech support problem.

Sunday with the Girl

On Sunday, I spent a good part of the day with my baby daughter Caitlyn. She is well into the cold/flu that I’m just getting over. Most of the day we were just riding around in the back seat of my brother’s car. It was a blast. She would smile and coo in-between me cleaning up her face. Then I would offer her a bottle which she would attack and attempt to hold with extreme focus. At Lunch she was the bottomless pit as she would munch at every bit of rice and beans. Later while helping my brother unpack she would climb all over the empty small boxes, leading to the label, “All Terrain Baby”.

Open a specific set of Perf Counters in Perfmon

This is from my stupid demo trick series (okay, this is the first in such a series, and may be the last….). With a recent Windows 7 demo I was doing there is a set of perf counters I wished to show quickly in a report view. Setting it up is a many click process:

  1. Run Perfmon
  2. Click on Perfmonance Monitor
  3. Go to Add counters
  4. Delete the Processor Counters
  5. Scroll through the list of counters to the one I want
  6. Add it
  7. FAIL, you really added other counters
  8. Delete thoose, find the real ones, add them
  9. Click twice on the report button to change the Graph Type to report

Considering that I want to be talking to people about some great new feature not practicing my mouse skills, I really wanted this to be a single step open a shortcut sort of thing. Well rejoice for me, because I figured out how to do this.

  1. Run mmc
  2. Add the performance snapin
  3. Do all the steps from before
  4. turn off Actions and the console tree
  5. File –> Save As “DemoCounter.msc”

Now, All I have to do is open the msc file I created. It goes directly to the counters and the view I want.

tada.!

DRM Thoughts

Saw yet another comment on a blog about Vista and DRM, and thought I could contribute a few distinctions:

DRM Supporting Features
This refers to a set of technologies that help enable practical DRM, but aren’t DRM themselves. This includes stuff like APIs that tell applications that if the output path for audio or video enables perfect digital quality capture without protection. It also includes technologies like “Protected Processes”. Most DRM Enforcing features have hacky ways to do this stuff which can lower system reliability or performance, so adding it as a OS feature improves system reliability and performance in the presence of such applications. These features also tend to overlap with other aspects of security, such a trusted OS private data store or generic encryption decryption libraries. This is the “DRM” support that Vista included in Windows.

DRM Enforcing Features
This refers to applications and shared libraries that allow DRM’d media to play. Typically this handles media decryption and uses various DRM Related Features to help enforce the DRM policy. ITunes, Quicktime, Windows Media Player, Zune and IRM are examples of this type of category. In this category DRM is a capability not a requirement.

DRM Limited Features
This refers to a product or feature that requires DRM and only DRM. The IPhone Apps, most of the iTMS, and the Zune Pass are all examples of this. The hallmark of this notion is that some key device usage is conditional on DRM enforcement.

I’m okay with DRM Supporting and DRM Enforcing, and have a personal policy with regards to DRM Limited Features. Basically it’s a personal acknowledgement that you can’t own DRM’d stuff.; you can only rent it. If you understand this, then you can enjoy features like netflix streaming, the Zune Pass or other time fee based services. The furthest I’ve crossed this line is “buying” Xbox360’s arcade games. Anyhow, when people bitch about Vista and DRM, I’d love to hear reasons why DRM Supporting Features are a bad thing, and specifically how Vista’s actual implementation of them have been problematic.

Creating a DL in Outlook from Excel with Names and Email

I helped out a friend the other day with a problem that he had getting a list of names and email addresses from Excel into a new Outlook DL. The key tricks are to create a formula in Excel that formats the name and email into something like “Bob & Alice Smith (bobalice@smith.org)”, select all the data in that new column and then paste that data into the “Select Members” in the DL details window in outlook.

More on the IE8/Standards fun

I really enjoy Joel’s writing. He does a nice job explaining the state of affairs: Martian Headsets – Joel on Software

random and incoherent

Responding to Misha’s post… I got too long, random and incoherent to actually leave this as a comment. So I’m just posting it on my own blog:

Actually most people I know who call themselves liberals are more interested in solving problems instead of the specific means of the solution; individualism, collectivism are each tools in the arsenal. I do agree with you to watch out for people who implement solutions and abandon metrics to see if it actually solves problems more effectively (or at all), or even worse, are proud of the numbers going south because it raises the consequences of "bad" personal behavior.

Since conservatives seem more dogmatic about how one solves problems (to use your definition) they tend to assume their opposition must be defined by solving problems the other way, collectivism. Every time they see other side use any form of collectivism, it just confirms their assumption. Of course they also seem to suffer from a giant blind spot when it comes to moral collectivism, in which case individual choice of behavior is no longer sufficient, and they back government coercion. To which I see the heart of the essay responding to. Those people aren’t real conservatives then.

This brings up one of my open ended questions that I’ve been pondering the world with since high school. Can you can judge a political ideology by it’s ideas alone, or if you have to evaluate it in the frame of how people have actually implemented them and the results. Of course this is a false dichotomy, you can’t evaluate pure ideas regarding human behavior and social patterns, and no idea is ever purely implemented. (Asmoiv wrote an entire science fiction series on the existence of  a general purpose scientific method of human behavior, it remains science fiction). This is a reminder to me that while you can try to define a movement all you like in terms of nice pat definitions, it is really the pragmatic behaviors of it’s self proclaimed followers that we must judge it by. Misha falls into this trap by defining the intellectually pure movement he wishes instead of the movement it is. He fights against labels that are not really there to be descriptive, but rather mealy serve as a commonly agreed upon label, which at best is aspirational and more typically ironic.

There is also some non-sequiturs that seem to claim that because he, personally, wasn’t convinced of a given governmental policy, it is therefore a delusional radical collectivist thing, instead of a policy adopted by the system of government we all implicitly and sometimes explicitly consent to live under. I also have to remind myself of that fact every now and then during this current administration.

In the end I see almost zero practical value in Misha’s exercise. The reality is that either side will say whatever it takes to sound appealing to some measured off groups of constituents backed by some semblance of an intellectual fig leaf (mostly formed in demonizing the other group and pseudo-science). This continues until the internal contradictions of the coalition can no longer be overlooked by it members, causing the group to implode until a new form emerges.

I believe you need to simply hop on a bus that you think it heading in the right direction without wrapping your identity up with in the vehicle you are riding on that day.

Choosing a Name

A quick story to add to Pamela’s announcement. After we got back the news that they didn’t find amniotic fluid, I went to check with the doctor what the plan was. She told me that we were waiting for a call from our doctor, and if he doesn’t get back in 15 minutes, she would do a check and probably send us home. I told her that I was glad for the more time because we still had some more work to do on choosing a name. At this point she looked up at me and said. "It won’t help". The nurse next to her also looked right at me and said, "No, it won’t."

After the delivery, Pamela was fixated for hours on finalizing our choice. At that point it was her highest priority (before the birth, there were a couple things on her mind too). I was focused on staying awake and getting some pictures in and I also knew that sans sleep I wouldn’t be much use. Caitlyn was pretty much a done deal by that point (but I still sorta liked Chloe). However, the middle name was in flux. I did some more name searching and we slowly converge on the name from a list of about 5. I started over analyzing the combinations trying to figure out how some common sounds at ends of names "work" and some don’t (need different count of syllables to add some balancing asymmetry to symmetry of the sounds?). At this point we took a step back and just went with what we had. Later, when I told the name to my mother, she went "Arwen? like in Lord of the Rings?". Sure enough the top web search hits where for exactly that (if we have another, I’ll make sure to do a search before telling anyone the name). Further down the list was a link to the 28 most geeky  baby names with an entry that read "Arwen – Again, it could have been Eowyn. Plus, it’s quite a pretty name." and a comment from an Arwen, "Nice thing about “Arwen” is that it is geeky to those who are geeks, and flies under the radar for others." Other sites had similar comments. That comment plus how I really liked the name decided the issue, so we kept it.