31 Dec 2010 @ 12:01 AM 

Last year, I made a set of predictions for 2010. Let’s see how badly I did this year.

  1. I assumed tablet PCs would remain a niche nobody had heard of. Assuming you count the iPad as a tablet PC (I don’t), this is obviously false. Less obviously, everyone has at this point at least considered a tablet PC. I’m counting this as a miss, but with the caveat that tablet PCs are probably never going to catch on – what we’ll have are tablet devices (which are not PCs).
  2. President Obama has, if anything, grown even larger horns in the eyes of the right-wing media and punditocracy. Considering that he’s also become something of a punching bag on the left for not actually having a spine or delivering on many of his promises (States Secrets, Gitmo, whatever), it’s almost painful to watch. Definitely got this one, although it was kind of a no-brainer.
  3. I heard the GOP did ok in the midterms, so I suppose this one is a hit as well. Again, not really a tough call – the non-Presidential party almost always gains midterm seats.
  4. The economy is improving, by some measures, but most people will still look at their bank accounts and pay stubs and have a hard time believing it. I missed this one, and it makes me very sad.
  5. Yeah, still no crypto that anyone uses, and boy are the leaks popping up everywhere!
  6. The ebook readers continue the trend of walled gardens – stupid move, in my opinion, but a hit for my prediction ability!
  7. Sarah Palin is the worst game of whakamole ever. Please someone make her go away.
  8. TSA flight restrictions pissed people off and made headlines, but somehow the airlines look to actually be profitable this year. Miss, but barely (In May, the IATA predicted losing billions).
  9. The weather was indeed remarkable, and the denialists continued to pretend that there was nothing wrong anywhere ever. Another sad hit.
  10. Another year without any substantive disagreements between my lovely bride and myself. Yay!

My hit rate this year was less than impressive. I got 7 of 10, slightly worse than last year (and it’s 8/10 if you don’t consider an ipad a PC – neener).  Somehow, we’ve made it over one decade into the 21st century, and we haven’t seen flying cars, jetpacks, or even aquatic aliens on Jovian moons.  *sigh*

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 20 Dec 2010 @ 12:27 PM

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 27 Dec 2010 @ 9:49 AM 


Back in January 2009, right after the inauguration, I posted a quick summary of views from economists about the expected effect of the stimulus.  The stimulus was expected to be about 20% bigger than it ended up, but the basic gist was that doing nothing would mean high unemployment rates (9%) through 2010, and beginning to drop in 2011, finally returning to historical norms by 2014.  Enacting the stimulus as it was planned was expected to lead to unemployment rates peaking at 8% in mid-2009, and dropping steadily through 2013.  The recovery plan was supposed to lessen the worst and shorten the duration of the employment loss.

In January of 2010, I posted the followup, which was cautiously optimistic, while pointing out that unemployment was actually at 10%, but did appear to be declining slightly.  Sadly, this trend was not borne out by the end of 2010.  Here we are, over two years after the Bush administration began the economic recovery plan, nearly two years since the Obama administration compromised its way to a smaller stimulus devoted largely to shoring up banks with no guarantees of lending to actual citizens, and it seems the results are actually worse than what was expected from doing nothing at all.  That’s just sad.

Here’s the latest unemployment figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  I sincerely hope you’re not one of the 10%.  Happy New Year.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 27 Dec 2010 @ 09:50 AM

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 25 Dec 2010 @ 8:57 PM 

The latest Doctor Who Christmas special, with Michael Gambon and Katherine Jenkins, is the best yet.  Of course, doing a Google search for Katherine Jenkins shows that she likes to show off her cleavage at public events, so bonus!

But, why was Rory dressed as a Roman soldier?  The final episode of last season, they remade the universe so the Rorybot never existed.  They’ve got a lot of explaining to do this spring.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 25 Dec 2010 @ 08:58 PM

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 25 Dec 2010 @ 10:40 AM 

This has been a great Christmas morning.  I got five new books, Alex seems to like his new skates, Kat and I have been having a blast with her Buckyballs, and breakfast was awesome.  Kat found a great recipe for salmon hash and asparagus.  Served with a fried egg atop the pile, with mimosas (and faux-mosa for the boy) on the side…such decadence!

We wish you and yours a great Christmas and a great new year!

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 25 Dec 2010 @ 10:40 AM

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 20 Dec 2010 @ 9:56 AM 

John McCain mentioned this weekend that most of the people on talk shows have never served in the military.  He said this in the context of condemning them for being out of touch with the needs of the military vis a vis Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.  It made me curious.  What talk show hosts, if any, have served in the military?  I wandered through a truly stupendous number of reference articles and was completely unsurprised to find that the only current talk show host veteran is Regis Philbin, who was in the Navy.  Montel Williams, although not currently on television, had the most interesting military career – he was an enlisted Marine and went to Annapolis to become a Navy officer, eventually learning Russian at DLI and serving on submarines.  The only other surprise (because I was not at all surprised that Rush Limbaugh got a draft deferrment from Vietnam) was that Anderson Cooper spent a couple summers as an intern at the CIA.  Not military service, but did you know that Anderson Cooper worked for the intelligence community, even part-time?  Weird.

Senator McCain is correct that the talk shows are populated by people who have never served in the military.  But, they don’t make decisions about the military – Congress does.  I find it much more illustrative that 75% of the members of both houses are non-veterans.  Chickenhawks and bleeding hearts alike – odds are that they didn’t serve a day before spouting about what is best for the military.  As someone who generally finds the current GOP reprehensible, it annoys me further that only one of the freshman class of Democratic Senators is a vet, and none of the freshman Representatives.  Have liberal veterans simply given up on elected office?  One more data point added to my tally of “Reasons the Democratic Party is Spineless.”

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 20 Dec 2010 @ 08:49 PM

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 17 Dec 2010 @ 6:15 PM 

screenshot-20101218-171303.pngI’ve had the Stealthbook for 2 days now, and I’m ready to give my first report.  It’s heavier than I’d think from a device with no hard drive; I assume that giant battery is the reason for that.  I unplugged it after giving it a full charge, and after one and a half nights of use, it claims to have 40% and just about 3 hours of battery life remaining.  The claimed 8 hours of use seems likely to be true.  The Flash plugin is flakier than a pie crust, and this illustrates some differences between ChromeOS and Chrome on Windows. If a plugin crashes in Windows Chrome, Chrome offers to restart it; ChromeOS doesn’t.  If all else fails, you can close Chrome in Windows and restart it; since the browser is the OS on the Cr-48, restarting the browser requires logging out and logging back in.  Since the login process takes only a couple seconds, the difference is minimal, although it does mean you have to type your password more.

Most web sites work just fine, including Youtube and LOLcats – although the Flash instability means that I may avoid them until a patch shows up.  Just as with any other Atom-powered netbook, don’t expect to run any fun Flash games on the Cr-48; Bejeweled Blitz on Facebook is a slideshow.  Netflix doesn’t work, as it needs Silverlight.  That is one thing which needs to be addressed in order to make the Stealthbook a replacement for Kat’s netbook – she uses that thing for Netflix streaming, LOLcats, email and Facebook.  I think a big question is the cost.  Nobody has indicated how expensive these machines will be once they are actually for sale.  You can buy a single-core netbook with integrated graphics for under 300 bucks.  Bumping up to a dual core or adding decent graphics power moves the Windows netbook into the 500 dollar range, which is awfully close to real laptop territory.  Even assuming the Microsoft tax is $100, it becomes hard to imagine the Chrome netbooks entering the market for under 200 and having anything like good performance.  We’ll have to see what happens.  I also didn’t understand the iPad, so marketers aren’t looking at me for guidance.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 20 Dec 2010 @ 09:05 PM

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 17 Dec 2010 @ 8:25 AM 

If you’ve never taken a programming or discrete math class, you should just move along. For the two of you that remain, here is the funniest binary tree Christmas joke I’ve ever seen.*  And a bonus max-heap joke!

* – This is also the only binary Christmas tree joke I’ve ever seen, so your mileage may vary.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 17 Dec 2010 @ 08:30 AM

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 16 Dec 2010 @ 11:11 AM 

OK, this post has the offending term in its URL, yet the post itself has nothing to do with anything remotely controversial.  Wanna bet the USAF blocks it?

Update: Yep. I can get to the previous post from on-base, but not this one.  There is no way anyone is able to view all the logs from all the sites which have mirrored the material, but this is kind of bizarre anyway.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 16 Dec 2010 @ 11:12 AM

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 16 Dec 2010 @ 11:09 AM 

I understand the USAF’s web filters must be working overtime right now, as they attempt to keep the “disclosed but still classified” documents from Wikileaks away from anyone in the military, while they remain available to everyone else on the planet.  Just nod and smile.  What I find particularly amusing is that there seems to be one way to ensure any arbitrary URL is blocked: add the word “wikileaks” to the path. I open up a news site and some of the images are red Xs – they are all named some variant of xxahbr-wikileaks.jpg or something similar.  There are articles in mainstream websites which are not available, even though other articles on the same site are – the articles which are blocked all have “wikileaks” in the URL somewhere.  I can’t even get to the Wikipedia article about Wikileaks, while I can otherwise wander Wikipedia with impunity.  It’s bizarre, and entertaining, and yet… A Fox News article my boss emailed me the other day, pointing out the USAF blocking which the USAF has not seen fit to tell us about – that article I could access, even though it had the offending term in its URL.  I guess Fox News is on the USAF’s “always trust” list, while CBS isn’t.  Just a coincidence, I’m sure.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 16 Dec 2010 @ 11:09 AM

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 15 Dec 2010 @ 7:22 PM 

Imagine my surprise when UPS delivered an unexpected package this evening, which contained the new hotness, a Cr-48.  That’s right, skippy, I was chosen to get one of the prototype ChromeOS laptops.  12 inch screen, matte black soft-touch chassis, auto-updating magic box!  More in the days to come, no doubt, and I’m not going to post any silly unboxing photos – go to any gadget blog to see those.  Yay, new toy!

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 15 Dec 2010 @ 07:22 PM

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 14 Dec 2010 @ 8:05 AM 

I built a computer in August, which was intended to be a reliable and semi-powerful machine, to play current games and work in Premiere and Photoshop.  Instead, I’ve been plagued with random shutdowns, crashing programs, and a growing hatred of technology.  The most recent issue is that downloaded games no longer work.  I buy most of my games via Direct2Drive or Steam or Impulse – I tend to buy older games on sale and boy are some of the deals awesome.  I grabbed Bioshock for five bucks last month, downloaded it, installed it, played it nonstop, and then I was done – all in one week.  I know, there is replay value by playing as a jerk instead of a nice guy, whatever.

Anyway, last week two games popped up as good deals online – Crysis and Bioshock 2.  I bought both (one from GamersGate and the other from Direct2Drive), and began the download cycle.  Both games are approximately 7 gigabyte downloads.  I’ve now downloaded Bioshock 2 seven times, and Crysis four.  I’ve downloaded them to my C drive, my D drive, to Kat’s computer.  Bioshock 2 has multiple methods of downloading the ZIP file – Comrade, Download Manager, and browser direct.  I’ve used each method at least twice.  Every time, I get a corrupt download. I’m using a computer with a direct ethernet connection, not wifi.  The download manager says the download is done and correct. But, once it unzips and begins installing, it craps out with a CRC error.

Same with Crysis, but there’s only one method of downloading that game from GamersGate.  I can only assume that two different games, from two different sources, must indicate there’s something wrong on my end.  Darned if I know what, though.  Anyone have six hundred bucks so I can get a rig from Cyberpower?  No?  Darnit.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 14 Dec 2010 @ 08:05 AM

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Taxes

 
 07 Dec 2010 @ 8:31 AM 

Repeat after me: “Taxes are lower than ever before in this generation. We are NOT being overtaxed.”

It’s interesting that we’re shifting the tax burden to employment taxes rather than income taxes, and we’ve completely gutted the wealth taxes. But, we must ensure that the uberwealthy get an extra 100,000 dollars in tax relief, rather than the mere $4000 they would have without this capitulation. Remember, even without an extension of the tax cuts for income above $250,000 – everyone was set to have lower income taxes than before the “temporary” cuts of 2002. Marginal tax rates are not effective tax rates. Oh, and when Eric Cantor says half of all small business owners would have faced higher taxes (and therefore fired people obviously), that’s just a lie. The average small businees income is $40,000/year. That’s far below $250,000 for those who are bad at math (GOP – I’m looking at you). Now, here’s where it gets fun. Only 2.5% of business owners would have faced higher taxes, but those businesses account for 44% of the business income. So, if you want to claim that half the income from businesses would be taxed higher, you’re not far off. But, to claim that half of all small businesses would have been hit – that’s just bull. Also, there’s no solid definition of “small business” so maybe Cantor is thinking that Walmart and Best Buy are small. After all, Eric Cantor’s wife makes millions per year – wonder where his loyalties lie.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 07 Dec 2010 @ 08:55 AM

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 07 Dec 2010 @ 7:43 AM 

Hey, look, the President compromised again.*

* – Where “compromise” is read to mean “capitulate” of course.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 07 Dec 2010 @ 07:43 AM

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