Biking Olympics Rant

I didn’t really want to watch the men’s road race anyway

My non-Intel iBook is apparently not cool enough to watch the streaming video coverage of the Olympic cycling events.

No Streaming Video for me

Now this just ticks me off. Chances are good it would still work on my system, but I’m being specifically screened. That’s annoying. And that’s bad form NBC.

Update: A little research tells me that they require Silverlight 2 for the streaming video.  Unfortunately Silverlight 2 doesn’t support PPC Macs, and, thus, no video for me.  Jerks.


Things I’m Sure Of

I’m quite certain an old Nissan parked on a street in Fort Collins does not need a car alarm, especially a car alarm sensitive enough to be tripped multiple times (3:30am, 6:00am, 7:40am, 9:00am, 9:30am) by a passing bike or cat.

Some quick research tells me that the model in question, a Nissan 240SX, was last produced in 1998 which makes the car at least 10 years old with a value of at most $9500.


Politics Rant

Colorado Driver’s License == National ID Card

My Montana vehicle tags expire at the end of this month. In the interest of neatly compartmentalizing official Colorado residency duties, I decided I should also get a Colorado driver’s license around the same time I get Colorado plates. Thus, I headed to the Colorado DMV website to learn what I should bring with me. From its driver’s license FAQ:

To apply for a license, instructional permit or duplicate, you must:

  1. Submit 2 primary forms of identification. One form must establish lawful presence. Please see FAQ #1 for a complete list of acceptable identification documents.
  2. Provide your Social Security Number.
  3. Supply a Colorado residence address.
  4. Pass all required examinations (written, vision and road performance).
  5. Pay the required fee.
  6. Be fingerprinted and photographed.

The emphasis above was mine. So, um, I have to be fingerprinted to get my CO driver’s license?!

Refusing to believe that the website information was correct, I called my local DL office. They confirmed that one digital fingerprint was taken for “security purposes.” In other words, if someone came in to get a license claiming to be me, they couldn’t if their fingerprint didn’t match. Hmmm, for my security then? I was skeptical. As my local DL Office rep could give me no information as to where the information goes and what government agencies have access to it, I placed a call to the Colorado State Driver’s License Administration office. On my second customer rep, I struck upon useful though dubious information: Colorado is a “central issue” state. This means that once I apply for a driver’s license, my information is sent to the federal government in DC, it goes into their database, then my license is sent back to me. So for a recap:

Even though I am not a criminal, my fingerprints are now forevermore in a governmental database for no reason other than that I moved and wanted to get a new driver’s license.

This is a result of the Real ID Act which was passed because of its connection to a military spending bill (another topic of contention). The Act, besides violating my privacy, hands even more power to the inauspicious Department of Homeland Security.

So, what do I do in the meantime? Wait (my Montana license is good until 2012) until the ACLU has a chance to mount legal opposition to the bill? If I get my DL now and the Act is overturned, my information is still sitting out in a database. Realistically, I doubt that I really have any other option than getting a DL and being fingerprinted.

As part of the bigger picture, this legislation scares me. How much are we willing to give up for some perceived measure of security? Is living in a police state a price we’re willing to pay to “be secure.” Also, history shows us not to trust our government unconditionally, so why now are people so willing to give up civil liberties? Government officials didn’t suddenly get more trustworthy.

As they say, absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Does anyone know the official status of the Real ID Act? Has the ACLU taken any steps to overturn it or test its legality? Can I refuse to give a fingerprint?

Geek Rant

Bad Defensive Design for the Web

37Signals would be aghast at TIAA-CREF‘s take on defensive design.

TIAA-CREF account creation page screenshot

Firstly, an error message is displayed when a I initially go to the client log-in creation page. Hmmm, I thought to myself. Some functionality isn’t working apparently, but the form is still there, so I must be able to continue. Wrong. I fill in the information, click submit, and nothing happens. So now I guess I’ll just sit and wait for whatever is wrong to be fixed in whatever ambiguous timeframe. That’ll be something to do while I wait for to finally send my forgotten password (which was supposed to be sent 20 minutes ago). But, forgotten password reminders not arriving instantaneously is another rant for another day.

Random Rant

A Letter to the Random Dude Walking Down the Street

Dear Random Dude (I had a better name for you, but I thought I best not post it here),

Yes, I was getting parking lot passes well after they are necessary. Why? Because I didn’t want to run out to the lot early tomorrow morning in my pajamas and sloppy hair just to put passes on my car so I don’t get ticketed.

I’m just thinking that instead of sardonically yelling “What are you doing that for?” from a distance across the street, you could have come to one of two other conclusions.

A) This girl obviously lives downtown and knows what she is doing. Perhaps I’ll just continue on to my building and not say anything.
B) Maybe this girl doesn’t know that the lot isn’t ticketed after five. Perhaps I’ll kindly let her know by saying something like, “You don’t need to worry about lot passes. The lot isn’t ticketed after five.”

Unfortunately, you went for the non-helpful, nasty remark — and it was none too appreciated. Jack$#^.

Best Regards,


Politics Rant

Seeing Shades

The following piece was spotted today in a Gawker note on the death of Peter Jennings:

Jennings was an anchor for the blue states. This is not to say that his politics leaned one way or another, or that he somehow provided a friendlier newscast for liberal causes than for conservative ones; we have no idea of his personal views. What we mean is that Jennings showed, as John Kerry couldn’t in the last election, that there’s a value in being smart and sophisticated. While Brokaw was always the all-American, just-folks, nice guy, Jennings was worldy and urbane and unafraid to be a bit of an intellectual. That seems to be the incorrect mien for success in this country today, but, for those of us actually do appreciate the smart and sophisticated — for New Yorkers, in other words — it was nice to see one of us spend so long on top. [sic]

The only adjective I can find to properly describe this paragraph is: pompous. The idea that political leanings are tied to certain levels of intellect, sophistication, and worldiness is one that has been a theme (implicitly or explicitly) across the blogosphere even prior to the recent Presidential election — but more so since. I must say that I didn’t know that the blue states, and, specifically, New Yorkers, had the market for intelligence and sophistication cornered. Obviously, even with his or her superior intelligence, the writer of the above excerpt can’t see the country in shades of purple. The writer chooses to ignore the deep purple shade which is the real political spectrum in the United States in favor of continuing the misguided and pretentious idea that one can be better than another based solely on voting tendencies or physical location.

The central theme of the Gawker piece is a dangerous one. I only ask that people try to look past generalities to how things really are — even if that doesn’t leave the neatly wrapped package that makes pieces like the above easy to write.

Economics Rant

The ONE Campaign

You’ve probably seen the commercial. Various celebrities including Cameron Diaz, Bono, and Brad Pitt flash on screen in a subdued black and white tint trying to mobilize us to some action. At the end Brad assures us that they “don’t want your money, we want your voice.”

Already skeptical of the campaign, I visited the given address. The cause is definitely noble — to fight the global AIDS epidemic and extreme poverty. The group wishes to get the U.S. government to allocate an additional one percent of the budget (thus the name) toward providing aid to the poorest of countries by mobilizing voters across the nation.

Again, this is a noble cause. However, the tagline “we don’t want your money, we want your voice” is misleading because any money allocated through the federal government budget IS our money. People seem to neglect this fact all the time. Do you pay additional taxes to support such initiatives, or do you keep your money and donate to charitable causes privately? Shouldn’t we have this choice? I would rather keep the money and donate to the causes I felt were most important. Yes, most likely fewer people would voluntarily donate as opposed to involuntary donation (i.e. taxes), but shouldn’t we decide where our money goes? Because, ultimately only we, and not the government, can use our money most efficiently.

Also, don’t underestimate the power of the private citizen as evidenced by the amazing donations to tsunami relief.

Election 2004 Rant

Enough already

Just a few minutes ago, I came across something that made me so mad that I had hot tears pricking at the back of my eyes. Anyone that knows me well knows that I DO NOT cry.

Go check this link out and come on back. I’ll wait here.

Why people? WTF!? It’s called coincidence. How about I go find data that is not at all correlated and make graphs? Do people even care about the enormity of the statement they’re making when they write comments like “these pictures speak for themselves,” “Amazing,” or the sardonic “Oh, how far we’ve come…” Is everyone so blinded by blue and red that they can’t even look at the data scientifically to come to the conclusion that it’s bullshit?

Can I note that territories were probably technically “open to slavery” because they had no official organized government? In 1865, most territories were the home of the Wild West and vigilante justice.

Perhaps we should also consider the populations of the territories in 1865 — Montana had approximately 30,000 and Nebraska Territory as a whole couldn’t have had a population of more than 100,000. Why does this matter? Because the current population of these lands is now made up of people that travelled from the east (yes, that means the northeast) and from foreign countries to settle in the plains. Territory borders didn’t close in 1865 and we’re all now descendents of the 1865 population.

Although those that find some sort of message in the linked graphs might like to think so. I mean anything’s possible when you throw logic and statistical data to the wind.


It’s my weblog and I’ll rant if I want to

Things bothering me right now:

  • The color black
  • The color pink
  • The words liberal, conservative, Democrat, and Republican
  • A "Missing Argument 2" error
  • Stuff
Geek Rant

rant mode on.

I hate PDFs. A lot. It seems as though everyone uses the PDF file type to allow themselves to create obnoxiously large documents. Would they make a normal web page or Word document that large? No. But apparently PDFs give free reign to make large files — which ARE NOT COOL. I have broadband, and I hate their files. Please think about the poor chap trying to access the information through dial-up.

Next, I hate the software. Can’t Adobe release just a viewer that doesn’t need to sit there and load APIs for thirty seconds or check for updates when all I want to do is look at the freakin’ document? And four out of five times it will crash my browser before I ever actually get to look at the document. (How about a light footprint?) The document download time is negligible at this point.

Tonight I happened upon a PDF that required Adobe Reader 6.0 to view it. I, of course, had 5.0 on my system. I’ll go grab a quick update. Yeah right. The program is 15 megs! Fifteen megs to view a stupid file. After I watched grass grow and paint peel for awhile, it had finally downloaded itself. Then it took about five minutes to “recompose” itself. (What the hell is “recomposing”?). Then, it took another five minutes to install itself. I had seen on the Adobe website that it was critical to upgrade to 6.0.2. So, another 5 minutes later I finally had Adobe Reader updated.

Did I tell you about the part where it closed (without asking) all of my open applications except Wordpad after it installed itself? That was nice. Another nice touch was automatically adding its icon to my desktop and itself to the quick list of programs in my Start menu. DELETED and DELETED. In the process, it managed to mess up my Firefox profile. Let me put my life on hold for another three minutes while I reboot.

I really hope this catches on.