Religious Orders


Posted: Monday February 16 2009 @ 8:30am

Religious Order: Technology

I've been religiously walking 3 miles every day in an attempt to get my weight back down. (It had finally crept up enough to affect my blood sugar.) That leaves a nice 50 minute block of time open for listening to something. So I've been scouring iTunes for good podcasts. Here are some I've found:

MSNBC Countdown: Countdown is available in both audio and video forms. Keith Olbermann is obviously a bit of a dick. But his show is segmented into easily identifiable chunks which make it easy to scroll to what you like best. (In the video version, at least. I can't figure out how to move forward through an audio podcast.)

MSNBC Rachel Maddow: I like Rachel a butt-load more than I like Olbermann. But her show isn't as organized. It's really a case of either watch the whole show or just skip it. Often, I just skip it, particularly with the audio version. Which is too bad, because she's smart and funny.

Old Jews Telling Jokes: This one is a video-only podcast. And the video is high quality. That means that each minute of video takes up a decent chunk of disk space. Luckily, each episode is short. Each consists of an old jewish person telling a single joke. That's it. It's both incredibly funny and incredibly charming. I cherish each new episode.

The Onion Radio News: The Onion releases a daily short news item. Each one is less than two minutes. And each one is inevitably funny.

Pat Condell's Godless Comedy: If you're feeling like an angry atheist, then you'll love Pat Condell. He has a wonderful way with words. It's a combination of eloquence and bluntness. The man is extraordinarily quotable. If you're a person of faith, this probably isn't the podcast for you. Condell does occasionally qualify his remarkable rants as being directed towards those that push their religion on others, but his invective is painted with a large brush. Perhaps rightly so.

Point of Inquiry: This podcast is a series of interviews by skeptic magazine Free Inquiry. I've been an on and off subscriber to the magazine over the years.

The podcast is one of the better interview-oriented ones to which I've listened. The audio quality is always great. And they talk with a broad array of people. Sometimes that results in wonderful interviews. The ones with PZ Myers and with Neil deGrasse Tyson come to mind. Great talkers, both.

Sometimes, the interviews revolve around books. The interview with Guy Harrison was good enough to make me go out and buy his book. Similarly, the SciFi interview with Tom Flynn prompted me to buy some books. (Even if the guy's approach to Xmas is misguided.)

The host of the podcast is a guy named D.J. Grothe and he's quite good. He's really good at summarizing what his guests say. He's also good at playing devil's advocate. And he has a good knowledge of many areas, both in science and in atheism, so he can ask intelligent questions. (Unlike the science guy at NPR.)

One weakness I see is a hesitation to really point out when his guests are full of crap. Which is understandable, but still. In some cases, his guests have been so damaged by religion that they're unable to talk about it in an objective way. Two guests, Tawfik Hamid and Tory Christman, come to mind. Damaged by Islam and Scientology, respectively, they really can't step outside and talk objectively about either. Of course, part of their value as guests is their inside view of these religions. So that may be a necessary trade-off.

The only really bad interview I've heard so far was the one with a guy named Chris Hedges. He had written a book about how current atheists were just as bad as fundamentalists. Sure, that's a valid topic to pursue. But as the interview wore on, it was clear that this guy had based an entire book on the fact that Hitchens and Harris are hawks about the Middle East. He had absolutely no clue about the views of other atheists. He had absolutely no clue about other atheist issues. Nope. It was all about how Hitchens and Harris are hawks and how stupid that was and how they were fundamentalists about it and thus so were all atheists. Host Grothe mentioned how he himself was of an opposing viewpoint regarding the Middle East. But he wasn't able to get Hedges to see that the range of responses to the situations in the atheist community points to anything but fundamentalism. Then Grothe tried to bring in the views of atheists actually from the Middle East. But Hedges had worked as a war correspondent in those areas and actually said that his experience means that he doesn't have to listen to the views of anyone else. Honestly, that's what he said. Talk about fundamentalism!

Anyway, it's a good podcast. Except for the Hedges interview. That one blew goats.

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Abusing Twitter

Posted: Wednesday December 17 2008 @ 3:13pm

Religious Order: Technology

I've been abusing Twitter today. I set up a little shell script to post whatever iTunes is playing to a Twitter feed.

Yeah, it's silly. But I did end up learning a bunch about cURL and shell scripting, which I'm sure will come in handy at some point in the future.

One of the things I love about OS X is that it has all these great Unix command line tools built-in. It's a real operating system. Honestly, how does anyone get anything done on Windows?

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If programming languages were religions...

Posted: Wednesday December 17 2008 @ 8:57am

Religious Order: Technology

I try to avoid posts that are just links to other things. But this one is really good: If programming languages were religions...

Be sure to read through the comments. Many good additions to the list to be found there.

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New Kind of RSS Feed Reader

Posted: Friday November 21 2008 @ 12:39pm

Religious Order: Technology

You know what I need? A new kind of RSS feed reader.

This feed reader would scan the posts for links and use common links as a way to consolidate or eliminate posts about the same thing.

Right now, for example, someone posts something cool at, say, Instructables. Then BoingBoing Gadgets points to it. Then the normal BoingBoing site points to the Gadget one, because they're hit whores. Then Gizmodo points to BoingBoing. Then the other Gawker blogs point to the Gizmodo post, because they're also hit whores.

I might end up with 6 posts in my feeds, all pointing to the same damn thing. Couldn't a feed reader figure that out and eliminate everything but the original post?

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Posted: Tuesday November 18 2008 @ 7:08am

Religious Order: Technology

Hey Apple! Thanks for a new version of Safari! One that crashes all the damn time!


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In the news...

Posted: Friday August 22 2008 @ 7:31pm

Religious Order: Technology

My former employer is in the news, but not in a good way. Last year, they published an awful comic book that tries to educate kids about how the court system works. Unfortunately, they're experts on court administration, not the laws themselves. (Except for Anne, who was utilized too late in the process to save it.) So it really, really, really, really, really, really, really sucks.

It basically reads like a RIAA propaganda piece, although Anne assures me it wasn't meant that way. Still, that how it reads. Anyway, now, a year later, the tech blogs are just learning about it. (Despite someone trying to clue some of them in on it a year ago.)

So, it's causing an uproar, one that's just gonna be ignored by the source of the comic and forgotten by everyone else in a week.

But, for now, here's a list of the blog posts talking about it. Have fun:

I've left for last, as they've had the most complete coverage. Unfortunately, they don't link the posts together. So here they are, in chronological order:

The sad thing is that the NCSC does good work, generally. They just simply screwed up royally on this comic. They look like they're a front for the RIAA. Anne's been feverishly trying to correct misperceptions on the various blogs. But, frankly, if I didn't personally know her, I wouldn't believe her. (And even Anne doesn't know everything. Was Ramsey taking payments under the table? Or was it just another case of him being monumentally stupid.)

If you want to keep track of the blog postings, a Google search on NCSC propaganda will get you most of them.

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Where All The Cheap Digicams At?

Posted: Friday August 15 2008 @ 7:47am

Religious Order: Technology

While we were in Norway, I tried to take a lot of 3D shots. I'd take a photo, then move to the side a little and take another. Once home, I melded them together into a 3D image that you could view with red/blue glasses. Here are two of my favorite examples:

The problem? It's hard to keep everything level and at the same height. Much of the time, one shot would be crooked. Or one would be higher than the other. Convert those to 3D and you get an instant headache.

Sure, you could rotate one or the other, but then you still have to crop them to exactly the same size. It's just a pain. Plus, there's a time lag between the shots, meaning you can't take them from moving objects and you can't have things moving in the scene.

The solution would be to have two identical cameras, mounted next to each other. Then you could just fire their shutters at the same time. So, all I need to do is find a couple of cheap, but decent, digital cameras.

Wow! That's actually hard to do. I know there should be 2-3 year old cameras around for less than $100, but I can't find any. Anything below $100 is inevitably a focus-free piece of junk. Real cameras are inevitably more then $100.

I could scour eBay, but how many sellers are going to be selling the same model at any given time?

I really thought this would be easy. It's not. Grrrr!

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PDA Pondering

Posted: Friday August 15 2008 @ 7:47am

Religious Order: Technology

I've been pondering the issue of whether I need a new PDA. Until fairly recently, I dealt with mobile computing/communication via a Tapwave Zodiac and a cheap-ass Virgin Mobile pay as you go phone.

But the battery on the Zodiac no longer holds a charge for more than a day. And the phone is pure crap.

So, what do I do? Here are some possibilities:

Get a new internal battery for the Zodiac. That would cost me about $25. And the new battery would have a third more capacity than the original (2000 mAh vs 1540 mAh). That would fulfill basic PDA needs and I could concentrate on a phone that just met my phone needs. Maybe one of the LG models with the slide-out keyboard. (I send way more text messages via my phone than I make phone calls.)

Get an iPhone. This would be pricy as hell, but everyone I know that has one loves it. On the other hand, I'm not at all happy with how Apple has gone all control-freak on it. If it's mine, I should be able to install any damn thing I want on it. The problem is that Apple is selling a complete mobile computer platform, but they want to control it as if it were just a phone. I'm willing to put up with that proprietary bull-shit on an appliance like a phone. I'n not inclined to for a mobile computer.

Get a Nokia N810 Internet Tablet. I've had a 770 for a few years now. It's cool, in its own way. But the software is flaky as hell, especially the browser. The damn thing hard crashes every time I try to use a custom sound as an alarm. (And this is a problem, as the built-in alarm sounds all scare the crap out of me when they go off.) But the cost for the hardware is on par with the iPhone. And I'd still need an actual phone.

Get some high-end, non-iPhone phone, that can replace a PDA. Maybe one of the BlackBerries? (How would I do email?) Maybe a Treo? (Then I have to choose between an aging OS and a bloated one.) I just don't know.

Maybe I'm just being too anal about Apple. I dunno.

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We Sure Can Pick 'Em

Posted: Friday August 15 2008 @ 7:47am

Religious Order: Technology

I don't know which is sadder, that we've owned three of the Ten Worst-Selling Handhelds of All-Time or that we've owned four of the Ten Worst-Selling Consoles of All-Time.

Actually, the saddest thing is that we sold some of the consoles. That was a mistake. They were too much fun and I wish we had them back.

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Cat Army!

Posted: Friday August 15 2008 @ 7:47am

Religious Order: Technology

Create your own Cat Army to do your bidding through the isolation of nepetalactone from catnip!

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