30 June 2005

It's about Respect

The hypocrisy of big business never ceases to give me a chuckle. How does a company like Google just decide that it can record, index, and expose the collected creative works of the world? On one hand it says "Do no evil". Then it goes out and violates copyrights any way it feels like in the name of free access. At $300/share I hardly call that free. More importantly, at what point did we cross over into the dimension where anything you create can be recorded, indexed, and exposed to the world without your prior consent? They bash spam laws that require an opt-out approach and yet they are taking the exact same stance when it comes to copy protected works!

In the end, I'm all for access to creative works. Widely, publicly, easily, and most of all free. But I want to be clear that I believe in an opt-in strategy, which would require that content producers ask for their works to be made available. Anyone creating content for the wide distribution will certainly do so. In the world of advertising, of which content is crucial, this technique has proven time and again to be the best approach to delivering access.

At the heart of the issue, is that evil continues to be defined by a small cluster, namely Sergey Brin, which puts far to much power in the hands of far too few. When you review their actions and realize that their version of evil doesn't give one fig about infringing on the rights of others, it makes you step back.

It's a simple and obvious step to allow a chosen few to define what's in the interest of the greater good; take our Senate and Congress, or even our judicial system for that matter. I have no problem with the centralization of power. It is when there are no checks and balances in place to protect the not so greater that problems can arise. As long as the powerful truly are making choices in the interest of the majority, it is easy to look the other way while their power is amassed. When those choices become less about goodness and more about concentration and solidification of their power base, then it becomes easier to see how crucial it is to have a balanced system.

Make no mistake, I'm still a Google fan. But I think their choice to ignore the copyrights of others is just disrespectful. In my eyes that's downright evil.

28 June 2005

Big Roller Coasters

Just got back from a whirlwind day at Cedar Point in Ohio.

My favorite ride was the Magnum XL-200 which was the tallest, fastest roller coaster in the world...in 1989. I think I rode it like 9 or 10 times it was so fun. My friend Dave and I made some awesome poses whenever they took our picture. The initial climb is over 200 feet and it runs for like a mile which takes only a couple of minutes. They have these cool tunnels you go through which make for some neat drops especially after dark!

All in all, I highly recommend you spend some time at this park if you like rides. It was voted best Amusement Park in the World for the 7th consecutive time. As a growing park connoisseur, I must agree.

27 June 2005

A Matter of Style

A long time ago I used to hear this lady on the radio who talked about education, raising children, and the like. Her tag line was basically that "It's all a matter of style". Coming from a home where education was very individualized, attending a small private school, and being one of those "gifted" children I certainly appreciated this perspective from the moment I heard it. Of course being on the receiving end and know watching parenting styles in action are two totaly different things. Even people who seem to have common sense, who appear to be capable parents, can really miss the boat with their own children. Something about the forest and trees, or being too close to the situation, or something like that. I'm not really sure what causes these lapses in common sense, patience, and normalcy. I guess we are always harder on the ones we love, right? The behaviors in a stranger we find cute or at least tolerable are completely offensive and unacceptable from our own children. The littlest thing they do can just grate on your nerves and make you totally lose all measure of a balanced response. To be clear, I am not talking about myself here, simply pointing out an interesting effect I have noticed in others. While I am sure that given sufficient opportunity I would develop quirks and idiosyncrasies to rival the best of them, at the current juncture it's my complete composure that drives others around me crazy. I simply do not see the point in getting riled up or being controlling. When I was younger, and by this I mean last week, I used to love listening to the same silly song over and over and over again screeching the inane lyrics at the top of lungs for all to share my joy. Why should I stop the younger generation from these same past times? Basically, if two kids want to while away an hour playing "got-ya-last" inside a 4 foot square, why shouldn't they? No harm, no foul. You want to wave at passing cars, go right ahead! Feel the need to run around in circles until you can't stand up? Be my guest. Does your sock puppet want to read the words on every signpost in the city? Have at it. Excepting for activities that are unsafe, why put restrictions and bindings? I know someone who actually has a Limited-Repeating Rule! You can't repeat something more than twice. Are you kidding me? Why strike down such a favorite past time? Are you that self-absorbed that must have silence all the time? Maybe it's just that my own semi-hallucinogenic inner monologue has made this behavior in others seem almost normal. Or at least nothing that should concern me. My littlest sister once said that I was the most unjudgemental guy she knew. Which I took to be a huge compliment. It certainly is something I strive for in my every day life. Perhaps I'm getting better at it? Maybe I'm picking up some of Hyde's Zen-like attitude. Whatever. That's cool.

22 June 2005

Age of Empires III

After quite a long sabbatical Ensemble Studios has announced that they will be releasing the next installment in the Age of Empire series. Age of Empires is one of the best games ever created. I have wasted many a day playing this completely addicting game. Check out some teaser previews at AgeOfEmpires3.com. Once you see how detailed and articulate the interface is going to be I'm sure you'll be hooked just like I am.

20 June 2005

Patient Patience

Twice over the weekend, I was confronted with my ineptitude for waiting on the Lord. The first was while praying for patience. The second was the sermon this week which happened to be on the attributes of God specifically infinitude. When I'm floundering about in a vain attempt to be patient with the flow of the world it can be hard to pull myself back into quiet subservience. My own puffed-up sense of self-importance obscures the reality of my insignificance. Like everyone I tend to revert to thinking about The Plan. You know, like in Jeremiah 29:11 -- For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Exactly how screwed up is my perspective that I can make the assumption that because the Lord has a Plan for me, I must be entitled to know what it is? So egotistical can I be that I just take for granted that I can somehow figure out or understand this Plan. Just because there is a Plan doesn't mean I'll ever be able to comprehend it. After all, my purpose is to bring Glory alone. 1 Peter 4:2 -- As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. I'm not called to understand or judge the ways His Glory is manifest. Only that I strive to make His Will my own. One of my favorite verses Ephesians 6:6 makes this clear. The interesting part of that is how quickly I can erroneously go from Will to Plan. Will is a finite moment, a measured activity, and purposed response. A Plan is the execution of a series of pre-meditated activities; the prolonged exercise of Will. Keeping in focus that my purview in its greatest extent might only glimpse His Will, makes service possible. God thunders wondrously with his voice; he does great things which we cannot comprehend. -- Job 37:5 As I bring this full circle, it becomes more clear why I struggle so with patience. Hebrews 10:36 -- You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. It's hard to have patience when you don't know the game plan. If you can't see more than the Now; if your focus shifts from His Will today to guessing His Plan for tomorrow, you undoubtedly lose your footing. When we take our eyes off the present, off the tasks at hand; that is when we most vividly feel awash in anxiety and worry. Suddenly our false sense of the control conjures up concerns of every kind. We find ourselves doubting, wondering, wandering. With a smug sense of satisfaction I put away my pettiness. Patience will have to be patient. I have His Will today, and that's enough. 1 John 2:17 -- The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.

16 June 2005

The Click Five

I just listened to an advance copy of the upcoming album from newcomers The Click Five. Actually a good friend of mine is in tight with the band and gave me the skinny on these talented Bostonians. To be fair, I've been promoting Just the Girl for a while having bought the single quite some time ago. But since getting a chance to listen to the rest of the soon-to-be-released album, I must say...these guys are going to make a mint! It's obvious teen-pop but it's really solid. They deliver several of the kinds of memorable anthem choruses you can't forget even if you try. Along the way, they show a talent for the use of the singable lyrics and other musical gimicks, smoothly polished bridges, and some truly outstanding production quality. After hearing a first-hand account on the caliber of musicians these guys are, it would be easy to assume they would have been turned into musical elitists. Evidently they prefer instead to simply sell a gazillion albums using proven formulas and unbelievably catchy melodies. Of course the fact that they've been working with some of the best in the business might have helped them stand-up through production. When the album hits stores you should definitely give them a listen. Except you Neal and Scot. They wouldn't make your cut, and I don't need another lecture... ;-)

15 June 2005

New Shaimus Tracks

Did you know that Shaimus is working on an album? The tracks they've posted haven't been polished, but it's a good prelude to some excellent work to come. Check 'em out!

Content Wins Again

There were quite a few nay-sayers when the satellite radio companies first got lifted off the ground. While questioning who would pay for the services, can it be profitable, and just plain why?, they forgot one of the cardinal rules in our ownership society.
Content is King
It's easy to forget, sometimes not so easy to see coming, but in the end, the guy with the content will always prevail. Unless of course he flubs it royally and loses his exclusivity or ownership. Sirius Satellite Radio and Sprint are in talks to offer the content and programming currently available via satellite radio through Sprint's wireless entertainment package. This is a good thing, people. And one heck of a smart move for the chaps at Sirius. About time, those creative juices got flowing. Sprints entertainment offerings are definitely leading the pack. They've been the first of the typically bumbling U.S. companies to realize the value of content delivered via a headset. This latest move will significantly increase the value of the infrastructure they have in place which will further educate the market. The simple cross-promotional value alone makes fantastic sense. While I'm not sure what the resulting composite will really look like, I am positive this will be another weight to shift the balance of consumer expectations. As we all know, I'm a huge fan of proper consumer expectations. So kudos galore to both companies for this glorious news and here's hoping the brass tacks are polished soon.

13 June 2005

Three Types of Lies

This made me laugh... There are three types of lies. 1. Lies 2. Damn Lies 3. Statistics --Samuel L. Clemens One in four people get this quote wrong.

A Lost Phone

Sad, sensitive, almost sullen. A misplaced phone, a sound reason for no phone call. When they are just too busy, is that a hint? I knew that going in. The walk and the talk are disconnected and dichotomous. Maybe I'm too fragile still? It's well know that I am the biggest fan of independence, and I give privacy and freedom highest marks. How to know if my expectations are normal, or exaggerated from neglect. Some simple sign, surely? Again I'm patient. After all, a servants time is not his own.

A Redirected Prayer

My father is amazing. I know everyone thinks that, but mine really is extraordinary. Okay, everyone says that too. You'll just have to take my word for it. We were discussing prayer requests today on the front porch. It was a lovely evening, by the way. I mentioned that I was looking for some direction, some clarity of purpose. Realizing that my life is in a very transitional phase and not sure what's next, my natural tendencies to second-guess, plan and otherwise prepare have been running rampant. Instead of launching into a quick prayer as is our usual custom, he said he wanted to remind me of a story. He started with the story of Abraham and Lot after they had been wandering in the Negev. They'd been growing in fortune for several years and now their herds and workmen were starting to compete for resources because they kept in such close proximity to one another. Now Abraham presented a solution. In Genesis 13:8-9 you see that Abraham offered Lot his choice of which direction to take his family. Whichever way Lot chose, Abraham would take his family the opposite direction. What was interesting in that Abraham as the elder and more powerful should have had first pick. But instead he offered it to his younger and weaker nephew. There is a lot to learn from the story, but the key thing my dad was pointing out is the reason that Abraham could be so unselfish. He knew it didn't really matter. The direction you take, the road you travel, the choices you make aren't really important if it isn't for God. If you are doing the Lord's will, any road will do, any choice is perfect. Which way he went didn't matter, because he was following God either way. God would be with him either to the right or the left. What an insightful application and wonderful redirection. Instead of spending energy on what door will open, what do I need to prepare for, which way should I be going; I need to focus solely on my Savior. If I'm doing the Lord's will, the doors will be there when they are needed. The road will unfold as He deems fit. If I'm on God's road, I'll get where I want to go with no worries. Worrying is pretty a-typical for me, so it was an interesting flag to my father that he astutely picked up on. Gently, purposely, he set me right again. I told you he was amazing.

11 June 2005

Brave Saint Saturn

The latest album from little known Brave Saint Saturn entitled The Light of Things Hoped For is very, very good.
Every now and then I just come across a few melodies, rhythms, or lyrics which I find really moving and exceptional. Its rare to find them all together. Gloria, for example, is a fabulous concoction of tasty elements that fill many of the reasons why I listen to music. Their changing style will appeal to a whole variety of musical palates. As always, I encourage you to buy the album. Or at least check it out online, then buy it once you've succumbed to the haunting charms.

10 June 2005

8 Gigabytes?

Hard-drive manufacturer Seagate made an announcement a couple of months ago that they were delivering the first 6 GB 1 inch drives. That's an insane amount of data in a 1 inch form factor. Now, they've come back and said they are delivering 8 GB drives to their OEM partners. This is just fabulous! I have long contended that the key to the next revolutionary phase in technology is not processing speed but faster access to more and more data. As the quantity of data that can be accessed increases without detracting from the time to access it, a whole world of possibilities can now be reality. Cameras that can store thousands of hours of high-quality video at usable speeds. Three-dimensional maps can be instantly constructed and retrieved; for example 3-d directions in a high-rise building or massive cruise ship, highly detailed reconstructions of xray images for medical purposes. Think about taking several first-run movies with you on the plane, then using bluetooth to broadcast them to the seat-back screen. Now that's video on demand! Imagine taking full photo-descriptive catalogs of every major store with you to peruse while you wait in the dentists office? Browse the entire Amazon or Barnes & Noble product list, complete with graphics, reviews, etc. any time you want, wherever you want, no wireless needed. Or if you are magazine buff, why not just take the entire newstand with you into the loo? Once I start thinking about it, the ideas just keep on coming. I don't know about you, but I can't stop rubbing my hands with glee and making little Bwwaaa! noises.

09 June 2005

Failure in Common

Struggle, struggle, struggle. How easy it is to believe that's the story of my life. And I couldn't be more wrong. Failure really sucks most of the time. To have it rubbed in your nose makes things worse. Or so it would appear. In reality, we all have failure in common. It is the universally equal experience. Oh sure, people like Scot, Neal, Corey, or Josh have never failed at anything in their lives; but I'm sure their chance will come. At least that's what I tell myself whenever I'm feeling snippy for how perfect their lives are. ;-) Then out of nowhere I get a little snog and "poof" perspective is restored. With fresh eyes it is much easier to see that no matter how I struggle, I'm just a commoner. No matter how I succeed, I'm just a commoner. Win, lose, draw, I'm just ordinary, plain, vanilla...normal. Mostly. As I struggled (there's that dang word again!) to embrace my status as commoner I found some encouragement from some other commoners. In Acts 4, when the disciples began to preach that Jesus had arisen, one of the reasons that the leaders of the day had it in for them was because they were commoners.
When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.
-- Acts 4:13
These were not the type of men who led revolutions and inspired the masses! If they were just commoners, why were they being so successful in changing the world around them? Why did they represent such a threat to distorted normality? One clue to the difference can be found by reading the Gospel depictions of these men. In my studies I have read many biographies about influential people, cult leaders, corporate giants, political visionaries, and various movement figureheads. In almost every case they read like fairy tales. The key individuals never lie, they always do their duty, they show courage in the face of danger or adversity. Sure there are always the initial let-downs and challenges. The character building failings that they have to overcome as they evolve into the heros they are known to be. Excluding their detractors who try and bloat any small short-comings, the general picture of their lives is rosy and perfection-filled. Compare this to the disciples. These guys are portrayed with so many shortcomings and failings that you sort of wonder why they didn't fire their press agents sooner. There are numerous examples telling of the disciples bickering about which one will be the greatest; about how they doubted that Jesus could feed four thousand people even after he already fed 5,000. They wanted Him to call down fire on a village simply because the villagers didn’t like their preaching! The disciples fail again and again to understand the simplest parables. In fact they were so dense that one day Jesus even said “Don't you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable?” -- Mark 4:13. If the disciples were commoners, being a commoner must be okay. I'll certainly screw up at least as bad as any of them ever did, and it's a pretty sure bet it happens more often judging by the sheer volume of my bumbling. Conversely, the likelihood that I will ever do anything miraculous (or even noteworthy) starts at impossible and vanishes from there. Being a commoner who has Faith means you will be a commoner who Fails. The good news is that the Faith more than makes up for the Failure. At least from where I'm standing...on the fresh side of yet another Failure, one more step up another mountain of Faith.

08 June 2005

Mujirushi Ryohin

I'm a believer. Sort of. "No label, quality goods" is the english translation of this extraordinary Japanese company. Since that would be hard to say three times fast, they are mostly referred to as Muji. The key concept is to have great designers provide simple, practical, every day items that are suitable for the average person. Elegant and functional they aren't branded at all. No stickers, labels, logos, nothing. This ultra-minimalist approach to branding makes for some really top-notch products without the fuss and clutter of aligning to a brands uniqueness. With Muji, the lack of brand IS the unique element. Frankly I find it refreshing to see a company that is eco-friendly, but not in your face about it. They are responsible with their designs and their product lines. They offer functional and economic value not hype and bloat. Some of the designers who reportedly contribute to Muji include top names like Enzo Mari and Jasper Morrison. They also employ 15 in-house designers in their Tokyo headquarters. With Simplify playing such a critical part of my world-view, I have a lot of respect for the supporting theme of Muji. How long can they stay pure?

05 June 2005

Polar Bear Hair

The spacious heavens declare the glory of our God; the firmament displays his handiwork abroad. -- Psalm 19:1 The last few weeks of incredible weather have been just absolutely mind-blowing. No matter where I found myself, from Whidbey Island to Denver, Portland, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Puyallup and Santa Fe. Every place has offered me a new insight into the magnificent array of splendor that I sometimes take for granted. Okay, that's not entirely true. Hang out for even a little while with me and you'll quickly tire of my exhuberance over the environment. Beauty is so easy to spot and like my dad taught me, you should rejoice every time you see it. So there I'll be clapping my hands like a child because the reflection of the sunset off the mountains knocked me on my behind...again. Lately though I have been particularly cognizent of my surroundings. Like in movie when the hero wakes up to fresh air and draws a deep breath as he surveys the blue and green around him. I do that in my hotel room or living room couch or wherever I happen to be. I just can't seem to not do it. Is God to truly be found in the night sky? Some would say only His handiwork but not truly Him. I would disagree. One of the early Soviet cosmonauts supposedly came back from orbiting the earth and said that God must not exist because he didn’t see him out there. For me, it isn’t just the extravagence of the universe (even our little part of it) that declares God’s glory. He is also to be found in the delicate balance of lifes minutia. Take for example the outrageously precise movement that makes something like a solar system and a life-sustaining planet like ours possible. Better yet, ponder for a moment how even the progression of humanity is phenomenally diverse, abundant, and surreal. Dennis Leary, Tiger Woods, Magic Johnson, Bruce Willis, Scarlett Johannsen, Molly Parker. You'd be hard pressed to not see the hand of the Almighty in the intricate construction of intelligence, talent and personality. It is a little cliche to say "Look at nature", but let's do that. When making a point, I am never above taking the cheap shot. Consider polar bear hair. Polar bear hair is not actually white, it's clear. Each strand is a waterproof hollow tube, which makes it lightweight and buoyant when swimming. The unique form funnels heat to the body similar in behavior to a fiber optic tube. They provide excellent insulation because each hair has its own air space. In fact, polar bears are so well insulated that it’s hard to get them to show up on an infrared photograph; because so little heat escapes their bodies! Researches have spent decades of time and millions of dollars and never come close to designing something better equipped for cold weather than the hair of the polar bear.

Sun. Beach. Pong. Busy.

I've been remiss in my post mostly because I've not been near a computer. Had way to much going on lately but I've some neat stories. Why is it that California drivers like their horns so much. Everyone pretty much ignores them and they're all on the phone anyway, so why keep leaning on the horn? It's like they learn to honk first and drive correctly later. So it looks like I'll be spending more time this summer in San Francisco. Which is cool, cuz I happen to like the town. Not a bad airport, either. If you could choose Hawaii, Mexico, or Bahamas, which would you choose? Keeping in mind it's probably just a 3 -day trip.

02 June 2005


My cohorts at MSDN finally got around to updating some preliminary documentation on the .NET Framework 2.0. The specific update the caught my eye is An Introduction to System.Transactions. This article gives some good insight into the what and wherefor of using the new transaction semantics being introduced in the upcoming version of the framework. If you haven't been getting up to speed on the newest enhancements, now's the time to buckle down and get a jump on your competition.

Annoying Credit Card Offers?

If you get a ton of those credit card offers in the mail you should check out this site: https://www.optoutprescreen.com/. It's the government mandated equivalent of the “Do Not Call” registry for you credit score. Now most of you know, I research stuff before I advocate it. Mostly because I'm a cynical, pessimistic jerk, but also because I detest, nay loathe, bad advice. And I like my friends and want them to stay that way. So here's just a sample of the links which vouch for its legitimacy:One more step at protecting our privacy...

01 June 2005

Stellar Kart

Just got done listening to a great new album that I really enjoyed. The group is Stellar Kart and the album is All Gas. No Brake. With obvious influences by New Found Glory, Relient K, and Blink-182 they are sure to please anyone longing for the good old days when songs like Sadie Hawkins and Hit or Miss made us lose our cool dancing like crazy. If you try it you'll like it. Obvious exceptions being the TC's (read: people who are just Too Cool) like Eric in L.A. and Scot and Neal in Seattle. They're too elite to fall for such smoothly produced, obvious ear-candy that is the staple of the unwashed masses eager to simply sing and dance with glee. Aside from the notable TC's, these guys are garnering fans and rising on the charts quickly. Check 'em out!