Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Joss Whedon's Political Views

I ran across this little gem yesterday and thought I'd share it with you all. Enjoy!


Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Bubble We Live In

Several years ago I was talking to my dad about technology and we got into a debate about some random, minor issue. In the end he made point that even though my experience would show X, X isn't necessarily true because my life experience isn't really that broad yet. I took this with a grain of salt, not really believing him. This because I'm a college student at a university with 40K students from all across the world; I have friends I've met online from different regions of the country. I'm pretty broad, right?

Well the problem is that over time as we amass friendships and connections, we tend without realizing it to connect with people similar to us. So yes, I've met people from across the US via the internet. But they are all the type of people who are okay with meeting friends via the internet. They tend to have a more technical perspective, be younger, and probably more liberal in views about social and technological issues. Yes I go to a school with 40K students from across the world. But I don't know hardly any of them. A few hundred tops, and more like 20-40 more closely. And nearly all of them I have met doing things I was interested in. Playing HvZ, taking civil engineering classes. Whenever you meet people while doing something you're interested in, those people are going to be similar to you in at least that way and probably more.

The fact is that we tend to live in a bubble of our own world view. Our perception is warped by the fact that most people around us tend to have similar beliefs; to find similar things interesting or funny. It's only when we step out of that and starting hanging out with people who are very different that you realize how unrealistic our worldview might be.

I was made more aware of this over the past few months by the romantic relationship I'm involved in. Over the summer I decided to try my luck with online dating. I met someone and it's worked and we've been together for almost three months now. It's great, but there have definitely been some unexpected differences between us. She is far outside my normal realm of people. She's not a geek or nerd, not a technie, not a political activist. But that's great, because it's shined a light on some of my own preconceptions and forced me to re-evaluate things I took for granted as universal.

Example, I find lolcats cute and funny. Every single person I know does as well. I eventually introduced my parents to them and even they found the concept amusing. So to me it seemed pretty universal. I didn't consider that despite the generational difference, my parents probably have similar worldviews in many ways given that I got a lot of my beliefs from them as I was raise. Fast forward to this fall;I introduced my girlfriend to lolcats and got ... a blank look. We showed them to several of her friends and got a similar reaction. She doesn't really find the concept of cats talking with bad grammar to be amusing, and when you actually describe lolcats that way, it kind of makes sense.

Love of lolcats isn't the only thing I took as universal that I've had to rethink. Take Star Wars. I figured that everyone has at least heard of it, and probably seen it. I'd never met a person who didn't recognize the phrase "these aren't the droids you're looking for", and I really couldn't imagine someone not recognizing it. Maybe in Africa, sure, but in America? Yet I was wrong about that as well. And Lord of the Rings. And quite a few others.

All of which are inconsequential for the most part, yet demonstrate my point. Just because you and everyone you know "know" something, doesn't really mean that it's true. Because even though it feels odd, the fact is that you and everyone you know is a rather smaller circle than one might think. Your challenge then, for the week, is to find some way to peek outside of your bubble. You might be surprised what you find.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Musical Connections

I love Hurts. Even though they don't have all that many songs out, the percentage of their music that I enjoy is extremely high (Something like 80%). So anytime I find music that is similar I'm interested.

I heard of Lana Del Rey over the summer, from her song Video Games. It was incredibly popular for about a month after which suddenly no one liked it. I personally wasn't really all that impressed even at the time. However, today I was surfing Youtube and ran across this.

Not only does it remind me of Hurts quite strongly, it also makes me thing of the James Bond movies, and it's rather enjoyable all around. Take a listen.


Monday, October 15, 2012

Dynamic CSS

So for a long while I've wanted to be able to dynamically update CSS. This is especially useful in creating a dynamic Wordpress theme framework. I've finally figured out a way to do so, and it's really simple. There are three steps.

Step 1:

First, rename your CSS file from '.css' to '.css.php'.



Step 2:

Next, (and this might be obvious), update the link in your HTML file from ...

... to ...

Step 3:

At the top of your CSS document, insert this:
    header("Content-type: text/css; charset: UTF-8");

And now you can put in whatever CSS you want statically, plus insert PHP variables the same as you'd do with HTML.

body {

body {
    background-color:<?php echo 'rgb(200,230,255)'; ?>;

body {
    background-color:<?php echo bg_color_light; ?>;

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Windows TP

I was reading an old thread about the first commercial internet browser and saw a very amusing post which had nothing at all to do with the topic. This is back from May of '94.


REDMOND, WA (JAN. 13) BUSINESS WIRE - Microsoft Corp. announced Thursday that a beta release of Windows TP, the telepathic operating system, was released to 1,500 test sites worldwide.

Developed using the soon-to-be released Microsoft C for Neurons, Windows TP bypasses awkward user interfaces by interacting directly with the user's brain. Using the Microsoft MindMouse, users can visualize images in their mind, and the application associated with that image (or "thought icon") is executed. Users can visualize pictures to create Windows Bitmap images, or think text directly into Windows applications. Windows TP is fully compatible with all previous versions of Windows.

Data stored under Windows TP can be copied into the user's short-term memory (the Windows TP Clipboard), or transferred directly into the user's long-term memory using Windows' new 32-bit Direct Neuron Access technology. Users can then plug into other Windows TP systems to transfer the data.

Microsoft also announced the first application developed exclusively for Windows TP. CyberMail is a mental mail system designed to transfer messages by thought. Users visualize the person or company logo they want to send a message to, followed by the message to send. Microsoft has had a beta version of the application in use for several months.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. he company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.


NEW YORK, Apr 1, Reuter - Microsoft's new Windows TP has a long way to go before final release, say beta testers of the product. Testers report numerous problems with the thought icons included with the product.

"I can see a fish tail representing some useful things, but the Program Manager? It's just not intuitive," says Clyde Revlon, an MIS specialist with McBalmy, Crain, and Larch. "Whoever came up with these thought icons needs therapy. I'm sure the guy's Yorkshire terrier is wonderful, but as the File Manager? A golden retriever I could understand. And that sweater the terrier is wearing, it's just too loud. Let me control the sweater."

Testers also report dangerous corruption problems with the Direct Neuron Access technology. "Colors, I smell colors. Dog, good dog, go to the light mom," said Maggie Ferreaux, a consultant with Sharp, Trenchant, and Blunt Computer Services.

Other testers were less understanding. "I'm working on a presentation, and suddenly all I can think about is pages A through C of the Miami telephone directory. It took me three hours to get it out of my mind. That blows my productivity right out of the water," says Max Pirenich, a salesman for Carp Technology. "Just thinking about Excel scares the crap out of me."

Microsoft officials acknowledged the issues, citing that no beta release of a product is perfect, and vowed to provide testers with the services of the same Neurologist that helped Microsoft Quality Assurance recover from testing the product in its early stages. Many Microsoft QA engineers are expected to lead long, productive lives.

-- John Lamp, originating in Hobart, Tasmania

Even back in the early 90s we were making fun of Microsoft.

Saturday, October 6, 2012


I've learned quite a bit about confrontation from watching my dad as I grew up. Learned a little about what to do, and a lot about what not to do. I've come to two conclusions in the area of how to go about arguing.

1.) Do It In Private.

If you have to have a confrontation with someone, do it without being in front of other people, especially other people that you both know. Any time someone is proven wrong it's embarrassing, even if you take measures (see point 2) to mitigate that embarrassment. Doing this in front of people that know you both will just multiply this effect and cause the person to argue harder, not wishing to be proven wrong publicly.

2.) Give The Person an Out.

Whenever you argue, try to make it seem like the person's incorrect view is understandable, even common. As much as possible you want to remove the embarrassment and stigma of having an incorrect view. No one wants to look stupid or silly, and so if you make it seem like the person is such for having said view, then they'll defend it even harder. Don't make them feel bad, and things will go better.

Example: John tells me that glass is actually a super thick liquid. I think that no, it's a solid. Which of these two responses from me is the better one?

*eyebrow raise* Really, John? Seriously? Glass is a liquid? *sigh* Look, do you see how it stands there and doesn't move? It's a solid. And no matter what you say, the rest of us will continue understand the actual TRUTH, that it is a solid.

Hmm, I've heard that before actually, several times, so I understand why you might think it. Problem is, it's actually just a myth from the internet. Definitely one of the most wide-spread ones, since so many people believe it, but I checked once with one of my chemistry professors [or insert any authority figure] and confirmed that it's actually not true.

The second one is the answer you want to give if you want to have the best chance of winning the argument, as well as maintaining your cordial relation with John. Lets look at why for a moment.

By saying, I understand why you think that, and that other people also have been fooled, you make it seem like it's no big deal that he was. You aren't looking down on him for being wrong, which removes the stigma attached to it. He'll be much more likely to admit it. This is a sharp contrast to the first in which you make the person feel bad for being wrong, in this case by being different from everyone else who believes correctly.

Note: This falls under point 2, but wasn't covered in the example. NEVER be condescending. It's just another way of making the person feel bad. Negativity in any form will never help you, so try to avoid it. Additionally, pay attention to the other person's argument. They might actually know something you don't, and end up being right.