Taxmania!

So I was reading around various news sites this morning, and discovered something that just made my jaw drop. Apparently the city of Pittsburgh PA decided that it might be a good idea to tax college students 1% for the “luxury” of going to school in the city, claiming that they’re a burden on city services!! What an insane argument to make.

Consider the following:

  • College tuition has gone up more during my lifetime than it has throughout the rest of its history.
  • These same students that are a burden on the city often have NO or VERY LITTLE income as they work full time at getting grades, and are therefore living off of loans.
  • These loans are getting larger and larger, placing a much greater burden on the students after graduation.
  • These same students LIVE IN THE CITY and pay their landlords, eat food, and purchase goods in THE CITY!!
  • After graduating, these students are being given another reason to flee the city and live in the suburbs, which means no real-estate tax or taxable income for the city of Pittsburgh.
  • The city is trading a small amount of taxes today, for a greater loss tomorrow.

A similar situation is occurring in Baltimore, but it has to do with real estate taxes. It just blows my mind that someone would do something so stupid. Congratulations Mayor Dumbass!

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Windows party!

For those of you not in the know (e.g., you can’t avoid this if your eyes are open at least half the time during the day) today is Windows 7 day! All hail the benelovent Microsoftians that have worked hard since 2001 to deliver a new and compelling operating system! Which Windows 7 party are you attending?

 

Seriously though, after arguably one of the worst operating system launches ever….Vista, Microsoft does an honorable thing and DOESN’T REFUND ANYONE’S MONEY FOR VISTA!!! and charges you again to “sidegrade” to Windows 7????? I am so glad that I’ve been out of the Windows release cycle for long enough to have forgotten the pain of it all. Microsoft is an evil company on so many different goddamn levels it makes my head want to explode.

 

Thank them for singlehandedly setting the home PC software world back at least 10 to 15 years. Thank them for squashing out all competition it faced, and even competition it didn’t face. Remember Netscape? How exactly were they cutting into Bill’s bottom line? Microsoft wasn’t in the browser market at all, and at one point had over 1000 employee’s trying to sink Netscape, which they were eventually successful at doing. Remember BeOS? Thank Microsoft’s vendor lock-in policy for their untimely demise.

 

If it weren’t for Microsoft, we may have seen much faster standardization on the web, in document formats, audio and video formats, portable music players, as well as graphics drivers and API’s, vector graphics formats, programming languages, compilers, and a list of countless other technologies. But because their answer to competition is to use their tremendous pile of cash to either buy up, or out lock-in competition and the public, we can all cough up 100 to 400 dollars to buy one of the 9 SKU’s for Windows 7 to feed the monkey if they dare cut off support for Windows XP.

 

I just cant stomach any of their continued crap, snarky commercials, or any of their philosophical rhetoric about patents or any other shit. It just makes me sick every time I have to buy a computer with goddamn Windows pre-installed and have to beg for a refund for something I never wanted.

 And I don’t want to hear any of you dick’s running OSX saying that you’re not part of the problem. Apple has proven themselves every bit as bad as Microsoft! iTunes? iPod? iPhone? TPM chip? QuickTime? Possibly worse than Microsoft if you think about it.

In other news, I upgraded my laptop to Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic Koala) in about 45 minutes last night. It didn’t cost me anything, and god bless the open ended development of Linux as a whole. Special thanks to Mark Shuttleworth and Canonical for doing a public service and pushing the development of sofware for EVERYONE!!! Not just those that can afford the vendor lock in of Microsoft.

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Net Neutrality

Unless you’re a shill for some company, or are on the take for the government, then you should support the idea of Net Neutrality. Cory Doctorow, agree with him or not, is a smart man, and has a lot of good analogies to make in this article over at the Guardian.
Please keep the sanity.

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How to set up my DVR…so I can remember how to do it.

So, obviously, step 1 is to download Mythbuntu and install it. (NOTE: Do not use ext4, it seems to implode after a week or two.)

Step 2, run through the usual configuration riggamarole. Nothing out of the ordinary for anyone that has installed Mythbuntu, and to be honest, its only gotten easier over the last releases.

Step 3 is to set up the repository to install Boxee. Boxee is a great program, learn to love it.

Step 4, set up the Wiimote by installed cwiid, wminput, etc. And then put the config for it in its proper place. Add uinput to rc.local, and make sure wminput runs at startup by adding it to the same script.

Step 5, modify the MythTV menu to include Boxee.

Step 6, enjoy.

In other news, my friend from work, Tim, and I are planning on getting a sponsored expedition to the giant garbage island. Basically, think of it like Jacques Cousteau’s amazing eye-opening films, except that we will be filming the worst parts of the world. We’ll get some Red One camera’s, a bunch of rum and orange juice, and then haul ass out to the middle of the pacific. Maybe we’ll hit a few of the other truly trashy waterways of the world such as those in India or China.

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A few tidbits…

So, I rarely read New York Times articles, but I ran across a couple that really got my craw up. The first hits close to home for me, in that it has confirmed what I have always suspected; our oceans are FILLED with garbage. The reason why you don’t hear more about it is because the way the corialis effect spins the ocean. It keeps most of the floating junk in the center of the ocean in an area roughly TWICE the size of FRANCE!! You need to read this article and just think about it the next time you consider littering. I like to consider myself a good samaritan. When I walk Brewster or whenever I’m in the park, I try to pick up at least one piece of trash. Whether its a plastic bottle, or one of those damn Capri Sun containers, I always try to do something. For instance, last week, one of the trash cans was tipped over, so I picked up all the trash that had spilled out and put it back in. I’m not saying everyone should do this, but if you just pick up one item that you see, and try to get all your own garbage in the can, we could really help a bit. I mean there are garbage cans EVERYWHERE!! You almost have to go out of your way to litter. Urgh….sorry…it just really gets me down to see trash in nature.

On to uplifting article #2…so as you may know…I hate torture. I hate that people have been tortured in the past, I hate that countries still torture people today, and I REALLY hate that America is one of them. I mean, when our nation is looked upon as leaders of the free world, and we revert to tactics that were developed in the era of Romans, have far can you say our society has come? Anyways, looky here.

And finally, I want an iPhone. Verizon, its time to open your pocketbooks and give Apple whatever they want.

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New iPod, or fix the old one?

So…I’ve been having some ongoing issues with my current iPod video (30gb model to be specific.) First, I was having difficulties transferring files to it, although this turned out to just be a bad cable. The second problem, however, turned out to be much more serious. You see, iPods are designed to be replaced every 2 or so years. This bothers me for a number of reasons, not the least of which is just pure waste. My iPod battery life had been getting shorter and shorter, but since I usually only use it at the gym for 45 minutes or so, this didn’t bother me until recently when the battery life became so short, that I can’t even get through a gym session without it dying. (Coincidentally, the gym I belong to plays  TERRIBLE music.)

Zzzzt!

Zzzzt!

So, I quested to either find a new mp3 player that was cheap enough for me, or to replace the battery in my current iPod (whichever was cheaper.) Well, I am proud to say that I went with the latter option thanks to iPodjuice.com. They had a replacement kit that offered longer battery life than the stock battery and an easy to use kit that helps open the iPod (damn you Apple!) The whole thing only ran me $30 and was installed in less than 5 minutes. I plan on taking the old battery to a recycling facility so it can be properly disposed of, and for now, I am enjoying days of music at a time without having to find a charger. If you have a failing iPod, please, try to repair it yourself rather than spend the $200 to $300 that apple wants you to spend.

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Goodbye facebook.

So, I decided yesterday to finally close my facebook page. It was started by my brother back when it was closed to everyone except university students and employees of some companies. Jon was a student, and I was an employee of some company. It was fun for awhile, then it got to be a burden. My email inbox was always clogged up with friend requests from people that I really wouldn’t call friends, and so on. I’m sure you’re either familiar with it and love it, or couldn’t care less. The whole thing nauseates me. Its so self-serving and narcissistic that I can’t take it.

Here is my advice to the facebook team:

Goodbye, Facebook.

Goodbye, Facebook.

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I’m in a world of goo…

So, I was reading Slashdot the other day and came across this article about a game called World of Goo. I had heard of this game before, as it was one of the earlier ones that showed up in the WiiWare channel on my Wii. It was apparently sold as a puzzler, and I generally don’t like puzzlers, so I ignored the game until I read the aforementioned article. To my surprise, not only had the game been ported to Linux, but they had a demo available in .rpm, .deb, and .tar.gz flavors! Finally! A developer that gets it!

Building a Bridge

Building a Bridge

It turns out that World of Goo is actually an amazing game. Its not just a puzzler. Its a physics based puzzler that is amazingly well done. Its not a stupid tetris clone or bejeweled or any of that crap. Its an honest to goodness original take on the genre. Apparently it was made by two ex-EA devs who put their life savings together ($10k) and set out to make a great game. (Wikipedia corroborates my story.)

Having said all that, I bought the game on WiiWare and have played it for a few hours. I love it! As I said, its not a traditional puzzler. I find that Sara is often interested in watching me play and solve the various puzzles in the game. (I’m trying not to give away any plot or details to the game so you’ll check it out.) I plan on also buying the Linux version to support the devs in their quest to develop new and quality games, and I suggest that if you like the demo, you purchase it on your platform of choice as well. The game is easily playable in small chunks as each level should only take you a few minutes.

I should also point out that this game is DRM FREE!! Which means that they assume you’re not a pirate and trust you, instead of saying you’re guilty until you pay them, at which point, you’re still guilty. Highly recommended!

In other news, the worldstillsucks

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I had a bad week.

After some careful thinking during a weeklong training course I had at work, I was able to come up with the following explanation for why I seem so angry all the time. I applied some business logic to the problem and put it in a form that I think everyone can understand, a Venn diagram:

Venn diagram of my life

Venn diagram of my life

You see, I’m fine when I’m alone, or in the company of a small number of people. The problems start once the rest of the world gets in my way. Why, I can’t say…but this is just the way I feel.

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So this is the new year?

Well, I’ve been meaning to make a post for awhile, but I’ve been extremely busy around the holidays. Also, whilst at my parents house, I didn’t really muck around on the internet at all, so no updates.

Anyways, the holidays were great. I really liked taking it easy for a few days. Sara and Brewster and I hung out and got to see friends and family. It went smashingly. Christmas was good, New Years in Baltimore was a success. Everyone had a good time I’d like think.

As you may have also noticed, I upgraded my wordpress theme a little. The old one was quite stale. The new one isn’t finished by any means, but its a little more compliant at least. I’ll adjust to it, and may change it again at some point in the near future.

I’ve got plenty of things to keep me busy. I’m still working on the GTK stuff, and I have a few new fun programming things on my plate as well. When I get more free time, I’ll be sure to update…but Sara is sick, and I need to make sure she gets better soon.

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