Archive for Category ‘Mix‘

Greenpeace Chases Whalers

From the BBC:

Greenpeace conservation activists say they have disrupted the Japanese whale hunt near Antarctica’s coast by chasing a factory ship out of the whaling zone.

Japan’s whaling fleet plans to kill about 900 minke whales and 50 fin whales by mid-April.

The hunt is part of what it calls a scientific research programme, permitted under a clause in International Whaling Commission rules.

BBC News link

Al Jazeera:

Greenpeace planned only to disrupt whaling by placing inflatable boats between harpoon boats and the whales

Al Jazeera link

Vienna: A RSS Reader for Mac OS X

58ECEEF7-7D6C-4005-B6C5-72141A16EBDC.jpgAfter finding Vienna on a list of recommended Mac utilities, I downloaded and installed the free RSS reader. I have never used a standalone RSS reader but the format was much like an email client so it was familiar and easy to use. Vienna downloads recent articles from your subscriptions and tracks which postings you have read. The interface is clean and the software is very stable.

I really like the ability to have all my favorite blog subscriptions downloaded automatically and in one centralized interface. It saves a surprising amount of time. I can also search through all the posting with Vienna’s robust search tool, or link an item of interest to my own blog. In order to do this, you must have a blog publishing client, such as MarsEdit, installed on your Mac.

Vienna also has a built-in browser based on Safari, so links from RSS articles can be opened directly in Vienna. Although the browser supports tabs, the “Open in New Tab” command automatically focuses the browser on the new tab. This behavior is unlike Firefox which opens the new tab but does not change your view from the current page. I prefer Firefox’s implementation because I usually will finish the article I am reading before I reference the support material.

UPDATE: To change the above link behavior select “Open Links in Background” under Preferences.

Vienna appears to be well support by its publisher which is something that is uncommon in free-ware. Vienna has become one of the applications that I never close.

Vienna Site

Giant hydrogen cloud on collision course with Milky Way!

0D3F276E-9D05-40C5-A867-E87A35D1DE36.jpgI do not care for doomsday scenarios and those who spread panic by exaggerating dangers (ahem, George Bush) but I must say with sober confidence that impending doom awaits our fragile galaxy. Smith’s Cloud contains enough hydrogen to create a million Suns and is on course to collide with our galaxy “at an angle of 45 degrees”.

From the expert:

“It will be just like letting a bomb go off,” said Dr Felix Lockman from the US National Radio Astronomy Observatory.

The shockwaves will set off a tremendous burst of star formation. These stars will be massive, rushing through their lives quickly and exploding as supernova.

The monster cosmic “fog bank” is careering towards our galaxy at more than 240km/s (150 miles/s) and is set to strike the Milky Way at an angle of 45 degrees.

Given the death cloud’s current cosmic velocity it is set to impact the outer edges of the Milky Way in 20 to 40 millions years.

I have started preparing today by stockpiling bottled water and duct tape. I suggest you do the same.

link | BBC News

Portfolio: J Blair Metcalf

The new portfolio website by flash guru, J Blair Metcalf, is one of the best I have seen. The method he has devised for filtering and sorting his past projects is simply ingenious.

blair_metcalf_portfolio.jpg

portfolio link

Endorsements

Often while browsing a website for some product or service, I will find some quote from one of their notable clients. The quote usually talks about how great the product is and how it saved them all sorts of time and money. In large part these quotes are fake: meaning they asked their client for a quote or the client does not exist altogether and the marketing director made the whole things up.

Here is a quote that I made up right now that speaks to how great I am:

Jeremy Taylor’s expertise in web development and his responsiveness enabled our company to quickly capitalize on a time-sensitive market opportunity. Mr. Taylor provided our firm with some of the most innovative solutions I have seen in my twenty years in the industry. We all owe Jeremy Taylor a debt of gratitude.

- Big Wig #2, Vanilla Frosting Industries

I always wanted a client to sit down and write me an endorsement like the one above, which I fabricated. It seems ridiculous to ask: "Hey Jim, Can you write me a stunning review so I can use it to attract new clients and subsequently spend less time on your project?" One time, many years ago, I asked a client to do just that.

"Yeah, sure thing, Jeremy. You’re great at what you do. Just write something and I’ll sign it."

After years considering the quoted endorsement issue, a milestone moment occurred when I least expected it. Last week I demonstrated some new analytics reports for a client over NetMeeting. I managed to get a stunning endorsement over instant messenger by this client, which was both unscripted and in type so I have the exact transcript. I felt great about his reaction, but I am a little disappointed that I will not be using this is my publicity campaign.

Here it is, no joke:

jeremy: click the tab and then select the group
jeremy: is that what you are looking for?
Client: SHIT
Client: that is fast!!!!
Client: wowowowowowow
Client: this is incredible
jeremy: click the ‘i’ icon in blue on the left
Client: yo baby
Client: yahooooooo
Client: this is really really cool
Client: you done good boy!
jeremy: great
jeremy: should we get together again on Monday?

related: jeremy taylor’s portfolio site

Chicago Enacts Bottled Water Tax

Link: New Year brings bottled water tax — chicagotribune.com.

Chicago is set to impose a 5-cent tax on bottled water on Jan. 1, becoming the first major U.S. city to demand such a surcharge. The move — which officials predict will secure an extra $10.5 million annually — will help the city plug a budget hole by building on the growing disdain for environmentally suspect bottles.

While the problem with bottled water waste in the United States is bad, I
have found that it is much worse here in the Czech Republic. Households generally
depend on 1.5 litre bottles of water as their primary drinking source (or possible secondary source if you include pilsner beer) which
can be bought for the equivalent of fifty US cents in any store. Add that to the much lower recycling rates in the Czech Republic and that equates to a mounting environmental toll.

China Annouces Plastic Bag Ban

The Chinese government has taken a rare environmental step to curb pollution by banning plastic shopping bags. Here in Central Europe, many stores make customers pay a nominal fee for plastic bags, which encourages patrons to reuse their shopping bags. 

Link: BBC NEWS

The Chinese government says it is banning shops from handing out free plastic bags from June this year, in a bid to curb pollution.

Production of ultra-thin plastic bags will also be banned, the State Council said in a statement.

Instead, people will be encouraged to use baskets or reusable cloth bags for their shopping, the council said.

Hiring Programmers

Finding talented software developers can be a real challenge for those of us in the IT field. Companies generally wait until they are behind schedule to hire programmers, which of course leads to many problems including further delays in the production schedule. This article, by Nick Corcodilos, is one of the most clearheaded in explaining the perceived dearth of skilled programmers in the marketplace and how poor management practices  are culpable.

"5. Companies try to hire talent rather than develop it. They wait for someone else to train and develop IT workers, while they want only "perfect fits" today. Thus the talent pool is not developed or replenished. Employers who complain about a talent shortage should first look at their own practices: do they develop their IT staff? Do they invest in training? Do they cultivate leaders from among the staff?

6. Perhaps worst of all is that companies hire only when they are desperate to fill a position. By then, it’s too late. Corporate HR’s complaint that there’s a "talent shortage" in the community is easy and cheap. Smart companies plan staff development — they hire in advance and train new hires for a scope of responsibilities, to be there when they need them. This approach fosters a reputation that always attracts good people."

link

Why I Believe Bush Must Go

George McGovern is a much better political writer than he was a Presidential candidate. I believe against Nixon in ’72 the only state he carried was Massachusetts. The Washington Post has published McGovern’s concise case for the impeachment of President George Bush and it is worth a read.

"Of course, there seems to be little bipartisan support for impeachment. The political scene is marked by narrow and sometimes superficial partisanship, especially among Republicans, and a lack of courage and statesmanship on the part of too many Democratic politicians. So the chances of a bipartisan impeachment and conviction are not promising.But what are the facts?Bush and Cheney are clearly guilty of numerous impeachable offenses. They have repeatedly violated the Constitution. They have transgressed national and international law. They have lied to the American people time after time. Their conduct and their barbaric policies have reduced our beloved country to a historic low in the eyes of people around the world. These are truly "high crimes and misdemeanors," to use the constitutional standard."

link

Dreams: Night School

Finnish psychologist Antti Revonsuo has done some fascinating research into the function of dreams. This article changed the way I think about the nature of dreams.

"Dreams, (Revnonso) contends, are a training ground in which animals and people
alike go over the behaviors that are key to their survival.

...Revonsuo believes that dreams are a sort of nighttime theater in which
our brains screen realistic scenarios. This virtual reality simulates
emergency situations and provides an arena for safe training. As
Revonsuo puts it, ‘The primary function of negative dreams is rehearsal
for similar real events, so that threat recognition and avoidance
happens faster and more automatically in comparable real situations.’"

link