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Once in a blue moon...

I do not post nearly as much as I wish I did, but I feel this warranted me to post something: http://shebshi.wordpress.com/2011/09/12/some-real-shock-and-awe-racially-profiled-and-cuffed-in-detroit/

Automated RSS Downloading

I wrote previously about an automated system for downloading files from an RSS feed. RSSDler started giving me issues with some characters inside the linked .torrent file's name. Since it has been over a year since RSSDler was last updated, I decided to look around for a replacement.

Enter FlexGet. FlexGet is another command-line program that downloads files automatically from a variety of sources, be they RSS feeds, HTML file, and others. Better yet, FelxGet offers a lot of control over what is downloaded, including RegExp filtering. FlexGet is also capable of parsing some data from linked files (such as HD resolutions, seasons and episodes).

I am fine-tuning my install, but right now it looks like FlexGet will be able to do everything I want it to do. One concern with RSSDler was that I have an RSS feed for automotive videos, but I primarily just want F1 races. Being able to RegExp for Formula1 - FullRace .* BBC x264 means I can now let FlexGet go at the feed without fear of it downloading dozens of .torrents a day.

FlexGet is available from Fink in addition to building manually. FlexGet does not natively support running as a daemon, but using Launchd to run it on an interval is not a problem.

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iPad without Flash

The people complaining about the iPad not having Flash sound a lot like the people complaining when the original iMac was released without a floppy drive. The product is going to fail, how can people get along without such a requisite technology, etc.

Well, people did, and finding a computer with a floppy drive has become rather difficult these days. Flash is a resource-hogging, bloated security risk on computers these days, and while technologies like HTML5 might not be a complete solution just yet, Apple leaving Flash off of such devices as the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad are a nudge in the correct direction.

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Why are we still "over there"?

Another compilation of a couple of Glenn Greenwald articles that have caught my eye.

In 2004, Donald Rumsfeld directed the Defense Science Board Task Force to study something I have been talking about all along - the theory that our actions in Afghanistan and Iraq - as well as our actions at Guantanamo Bay - are actually creating more terrorists than we are "eliminating". I am pleased, if a bit surprised, that Rumsfeld ordered such a study, but I would be even more pleased, and even more surprised, if anyone actually took action based on its findings. (.PDF)

What, exactly, did the report find?Collapse )
I recommend you read the entire lj-cut, but if you do not, here it is summed up:
American direct intervention in the Muslim World has paradoxically elevated the stature of and support for radical Islamists
Another PDF worth reading is a resignation letter from a former Marine Captain who was the the senior U.S. civilian in the Taliban-dominated Southern Afghanistan province of Zabul. One of his points is that most insurgents do not fight for the Taliban, but rather just against foreign soldiers.

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On Facebook's New "Privacy Controls"

So Facebook announced a change in their Privacy Controls. I am a big privacy advocate, and I was excited to see a change in what I have considered a confusing and difficult to use system for controlling who sees what on your profile.

One of my biggest issues has been with the "transition tool" that Facebook is requiring all users to go through this week.

An image under the cut...Collapse )

The problem? I had my facebook profile locked down pretty tightly.

In the middle we have a list of objects on a facebook profile, with options regarding who can see what. Facebook seems to be suggesting that opening up my profile so more people can see things would somehow be more secure. In addition, I have no way of seeing on this page what my "old settings" are. How am I supposed to make an informed decision with this complete lack of information?

On the right side I am told that facebook now shares, with everyone, *more* information than previously, and I have no way of controlling or limiting that access.

So how, again, is this helping me controlling my privacy?

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Measuring Success

I admit I am a bit of a Facebook junky. I like to blame that on my lifestyle - I have met a lot of people in my travels/life/jobs, and I definitely enjoy keeping up with everyone and their adventures. The last month or so I have tried to get back in touch with friends from back in elementary and middle school.

One thing that keeps kicking around in the back of my head, though, is the fact that most of my friends from that time period are now mid-career and are fairly successful. I wonder where I would be if my life had taken a more conventional route. I definitely enjoy moving around, seeing new things, meeting new people, but there is something to be said for slowly working up the food chain at the same employer.

perl -p -e 's/\r/\n/g'

Just spent the entire day trying to track down a bug that was haunting a work script only to find that the file I was working on in Perl had Mac linebreaks.

Fixing that solved the problems immediately.

Do not ask me why an OS X program is spitting out data files with Mac linebreaks, but...

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Is this what we have become?

This evening, I let my emotions get the best of me when listening to the president's remarks regarding the coverage of illegal immigrants in the health care bill. While I disagree with the president's statement, my comments were inappropriate and regrettable. I extend sincere apologies to the president for this lack of civility.

-From South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson's apology for yelling "You lie!" during the President's speech to Congress

Have we gotten to the point where one of the two major parties seems to campaign and run using falsehoods? I would say that it started with the Swift Boat campaign against John Kerry, but I realize that one could look at the justification for the invasion of Iraq as maybe the first salvo. Either way, we are now faced with people at these town hall meetings yelling complete falsehoods. Where, for example, did this idea of Death Panels come from? More importantly, though, how are members Congress bringing up the idea of Death Panels as if there is any basis in fact for them?

What bothers me so much about the above quote from Rep. Wilson is this one line. I want to repeat it and give it emphasis again:
I disagree with the president's statement
So Rep. Wilson is still calling the President a liar? I can really not get any other meaning out of this quote from his statement. Is there any other possible meaning?

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Things That Bug Me...

A random list of things that really bug me on a very regular basis, in no real order at all:

1) Web pages that insist on opening links in new windows. Really, I use tabs. I am a power user. I can do window management on my own. I really do not need some random web developer somewhere trying to determine when I need a new window open. The worst was a web page I went to to today for a retirement fund of mine. About the only link on the home page? "Member Log-In". That link opens a log-in page in another page. What is the use of that? Why do I need to keep the original home page open in a background window?

On a related note, I use Safari for web-browsing. Why is there no option for "ignore open in new window"?

2) Sinks that have a huge basin but a short faucet. I am using "short" to mean the distance from the rear wall of the basin to where the faucet actually has water come out of it. I have seen countless sinks that have huge basins, but I still bang my hands on the back of the basin when I am rinsing my hands. Why do faucet manufacturers not take advantage of the ever-expanding basins they are being installed in?

3) Baby pictures as profile pictures. I have been trying to track down childhood friends of mine on Facebook. I have a a difficult enough time trying to remember people's names, not to mention trying to recognize faces that have aged many, many years. Add to that when people put their new baby's face (and only the baby's face) up as a profile picture and my job has just gotten much more difficult. Why not just put up a picture of you HOLDING your baby instead?

4) Web pages asking for credit card information that refuse to realize that most every credit card has its expiration date listed as numbers, not a month written out. If my credit card has an expiration date of 5/11, I should not have to count through the months to remember that May is the fifth month because I have to choose it in a list consisting of January, February, and so on. Why not instead write them as numbers? Or, even better, write them as "1 - January, 2 - February" and so on? Make it easier on everyone!

On a related note, why does every credit card entry page require me to tell them what kind of card it is? Do they not realize that the first couple of digits of the actual credit card number indicates what kind of card it is?

5) Bike riders on sidewalk/one-way streets. As someone who has been without a car for over five years now, I use a lot of alternative forms of transportation. In the last year or so I have been riding my bike more and more. As a result I have started paying more attention to how other bike riders choose to ride. The ones that stand out as bothering me the most are the ones that choose to ride on sidewalks when there are a lot of pedestrians. In several cities it is illegal to operate a bike on the sidewalks, and yet here they are. Get on the road.

And while you are on the road, do not go the wrong way on a one-way street. it is dangerous, and gives bike riders everywhere a bad name.

The worst, however, are the bike riders who choose to ride on the sidewalk when there is a bike lane! I realize that a bike lane is not the ultimate in safety, but use it!

Anyway, those are my rants for today.

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How I hate Home Depot...

So I decided to replace the lightbulbs in my ceiling fan with some CFLs. Easy enough, I figured, just make a quick trip to Ikea or Target. Having been to both of these places, I returned home without any CFLs. Turns out that the fan uses a rare sized light bulb and neither place carried a bulb that would fit.

I did some research and found that I was not alone. Looks like this was due to a loophole in the Energy Policy Act of 1005 that required, among other things, that ceiling fans that have lights ship with CFLs to fit inside all medium sized bases (E26). The loophole is that if the fan does not have any medium-sized bases, the fan can ship with whatever lights it wants provided they do not use more than 190W.

What does the fan industry do, as best seen by Home Depot and their Hampton Bay house brand? They switch their fans from Medium bases (E26) to intermediate bases (E17). That allows them to ship with the cheaper (energy-wasting) incandescent bulbs.

Home Depot will make it up to you - they are just about the only place you can buy an E17 CFL bulb. So first they save money on the fan (and avoiding the spirit of the Energy Bill), and then make more money on you when you want to get CFLs for the fan they sold you.

(As a point of reference - the fan in question shipped with four 40W bulbs - a total of 160W. I am looking to replace them with bulbs between about 7W-10W, for a total of 40W)

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The Old Man

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