Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Supply and Demand

It often annoys me to read about people complain about needing unsustainable ecologically unfriendly jobs because they need to put food on their table, or to hear how unfair it is that unskilled labor is being moved overseas; because I can't help but remember that those were probably the exact same people who, through lazy short-term their life choices, put themselves in that position. They took the "easy road", when the "hard road" -- choosing to train themselves in a profession that is in demand and thus pays well, wasn't very much extra work in the larger view of things.

They partied away high school, skipped university to go take a job as a waiter or in retail, and suddenly woke up one day married with children and painted in a corner by the fact that they are entirely replaceable. They do nothing unique that can't be found in someone who will work for less. Since there are so many unskilled workers, they need more and more of such jobs in order to stem the tide of losses due to technology or outsourcing to third-world countries, that they will destroy their native environment -- their children's future, in order to make up for the fact that they themselves short-sightedly aborted their own economic future.

What makes is a more bitter pill, is that in high school these were the same people who gave me a hard time, making my life difficult; teasing, bullying, but mostly just ostracisation. Now that I have given myself something economic value through a couple years of "hard" study, and have the freedom to work where and how I want, I am supposed to be sorry for those exact same people, and ask my government to pander to the proven short-term, self-destructive, who can't be bothered have invested 4 years into a "hard" degree?

These are the top 15 highest paid university degrees. To be explicit, let me host the chart directly:


Notice something in common in that list?

If you don't have a degree, or your degree isn't one of the above, and you want the government to destroy our shared environment, or you want whinge about how you got replaced by someone who will do your unskilled labor for less money, STFU. It's supply and demand, and idiots are in oversupply.

kthxbye.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Vacation






Friday, July 24, 2009

Moblin 2.0 Beta Impressions

  • Boot is insanely quick. BIOS appears to take longer to come up.
  • Alpha software, not Beta. Crashes a lot. Functionality doesn't consistently work.
  • Reworked UI hints at amazing amount of promise. So many interesting new possibilities. So many of which are yet unrealized.
  • Pop-up activity menu: central means of task management. Saves a lot of screen real estate compared to windows/GNOME task bars. Can pop up unexpectedly when interacting with menus of your individual tasks. Not a lot of room for growth.
  • MyZone: aggregates what you've been doing with the netbook recently. Kind of like a local facebook feed page. Privacy concerns: don't surf porn unless you want a thumbnail of the site in question on the first page you see after boot.
  • Status: sets your presence info on IM and any web services. Interesting, but is this really a top-level task?
  • People: add IM accounts and display their presence status. Can't IM directly from this screen. Doesn't feel finished design-wise.
  • Internet: shows thumbnails of recently visited websites, and allows searching for or directly opening new sites. Nice and simple UI for the built-in WebKit-based browser.
  • Media: searches and plays local video, sound, and image files. Nice and simple UI for known libraries, but missing features for importing new media or complex library management. No MP3 or other "non-free" codecs (see previous bog).
  • Pasteboard: a simple copy-n-paste UI? I think it's a shame that no previous OS had a clipboard management UI, but at this point we really need this as a top-level task? If it was integrated with pastebin.com however, it might be a different story.
  • Applications: simple application finder. Non-Moblin apps, like Firefox and Terminal; and GNOME settings here. I changed my CAPS LOCK to a Ctrl key. :)
  • Zones: Moblin concept for window management. Seems like each application gets it's own virtual desktop. Interesting idea given such limited screen real estate, but the execution doesn't feel very comfortable.
  • Applets: one for screen/power, sound, and wireless. Wireless applet doesn't show signal strength.
  • Calender: Seems to be local, underpowered thingy. It's 2009 FFS, if you can't integrate with a web-based calender, don't bother! Very very unimpressed, as calender is integrated with MyZone, which could have made it a very smart feature.
  • Web Services: only integrates with twitter and last.fm, and as I don't use those, hard to say what this does. No Facebook integration is very disappointing.
  • Web browser: flash built in. Simple and fast. UI similar to Safari. Opening links in tabs doesn't seem to work yet, and entering URLs manually works spottily, making it basically unusable for serious work. Did this blog in it, so it's just a matter of time before bugs are cleaned out.
  • Media player: as expected clutter UI really shines here. Lots of thumbnails and animated progressions. Lacks complex importing such as from digital camera.
  • Email: appeared to understand my gmail account well enough to set up IMAP for it, but wasn't actually able to show me any of my emails.

Conclusions
  • This is Alpha software. Lots of basic functionality is missing or spotty. Lots of foundational work yet needed. UI specifically needs much testing, as the technology under the surface is mostly proven.
  • Clearly shows the results of such an ambitious effort to redesign and rewrite so much of the basic desktop software stack. I just hope the team has the balls to continue forward, and not let it die because of the tough road it has chosen, because there is *so* much potential to do something truly new and make a substatial improvement over what is available today.
  • As a *netbook* OS, one hopes for much better integration with existing web APIs. Specifically neither Google nor Facebook have any integration what so ever. Specifically I'd like to have the calendar and email applications handle web calendars and email as the primary use case.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

How to get GStreamer codecs working on Moblin 2.0 beta

Since the latest Moblin is based on Fedora 10, we can install gstreamer-plugins-bad over yum to get most codecs working correctly. However, we'll have to hack things somewhat.

Moblin uses the OpenSSL from F11, but libstdc++ 4.3 from F10. Since some media libraries seem to rely on both we will have to try to mix repositories carefully.

  1. download the latest rpmfusion and fedora release rpms, as they contain all the yum repository configurations
  2. force install rpmfusion release:
    • $ rpm -Uvh --nodeps rpmfusion*release*.rpm
  3. unpack fedora release:
    • $ rpm2cpio fedora-release.rpm | cpio -idv
    • $ cp ./etc/yum.repos.d/* /etc/yum.repos.d
  4. manually set configurations
    • $ sed -i 's/$releasever/11/' /etc/yum.repo.d/rpmfusion*
    • $ sed -i 's/$releasever/10/' /etc/yum.repo.d/fedora*
    • $ sed -i 's/enabled=1/enabled=0/' /etc/yum.repo.d/fedora*
    • $ sed -i 's/gpgcheck=1/gpgcheck=0/' /etc/yum.repo.d/fedora*
  5. install dirac-libs from F10
    • $ yum install --enablerepo=fedora,updates dirac-libs
  6. change to F11
    • $ sed -i 's/10/11/' /etc/yum.repo.d/fedora*
    • $ rm -rf /var/cache/yum
  7. install the rest
    • $ yum install --enablerepo=fedora,updates --exclude=dirac-libs gstreamer-plugins-bad gstreamer-plugins-flumpegdemux gstreamer-ffmpeg

Friday, July 10, 2009

In Reply to Nancy of Red Deer

I stumbled across this letter to the editor attacking atheists in in Red Deer, just north of Calgary. However, since it was near my home town, I thought i had a little bit of responsibility to say something. I submitted the following, but perhaps there are others who might be interested in debating.

The original post has moved, so I'll archive it here:

In response to the letter “Atheists have a problem claiming evidence to disprove God”, published in the July 1, 2009 paper, I think Johnnie Bachusky is using the media for free advertising for atheism especially now that he is the editor.

Unfortunately, the opinion of Kim Beach was another “same story” diatribe regarding this topic that Bachusky is using to sell papers.

Beach states there is no evidence for God. This is not true. There are some key factors involved in this thinking by atheists that are not usually published.

Being the hot topic of the day, any discussion of atheism, should include these ‘difficult to admit’ points:

Firstly, atheists claim that they themselves are god. They claim they have superior knowledge then the rest of us by trying to say that they have better knowledge because of their own thinking. They will not acknowledge anyone else to be above them.

Secondly, atheists have been hurt somewhere in their lives, can’t understand suffering, and are mad at God — so it is easier to deny there is one.

Thirdly, atheists are looking for God for the same reason a thief would be looking for a police officer. They don’t want to be accountable to a higher being because of the wrong things they do.

Fourthly, atheists forget that when a person goes to a museum and admires a painting, that there was a painter/designer of that art piece. The art piece is absolute evidence of a painter and not caused by random nothingness.

All of the world, stars, animals, plants, oceans, and mountains are absolute proof of a divine intelligent being (beyond our human ability and thinking) who made these things.

Can the atheist make a tree? It is scientifically impossible for bees to fly (laws of physics) and yet they do. It is impossible for our eyes to see and yet they do. What more proof does an atheist need than their own heart pumping in their chest without them commanding their heart to pump each beat in perfect timing each and every second necessary?

Fifthly, denial is a strong coping mechanism in crisis, but does not serve anyone in the long run. Like an ostrich with its head in the sand, an atheist denies God not because God does not exist—but because the atheist doesn’t want God to exist and does not want to see the truth and evidence in front of their eyes.

I would rather believe in God and make sure my life is doing what is acceptable to this Superior Being than to not believe in God and find out I will be accountable to this God for everything I’ve done after I die. With 84% of the world’s population believing in the existence of God, I think the majority rules in this case.

In closing, I would like to quote from the late Dr. J. Dominquez, MD, who said, “To be in error in Religion, is to have a ‘cancer in the soul’....it can ruin the only life on Earth, and the eternal one after Death. I am a Doctor in Medicine and Surgery. When I have a patient with cancer, I love the patient, but I hate his cancer, and I try my best to eradicate it from him... The ‘Greatest Love’ is to eradicate an ‘error’ from a person, even if it hurts!...and in fact, the ‘Greatest Love’ is to lay down your life to clean the sins, the bad karma, of your friends and foes, and to eradicate their errors once and for all...”

I wonder how it is Nancy is so certain of her points, given she has clearly not in fact ever talked to an atheist, only created a strawman in her mind to argue against. Let me try to let Nancy know what atheists do in fact think, so that her next letter will have something worth discussion.

Firstly, atheists cannot think themselves god, because to them no concept of god exists. It makes as much sense as telling an atheist they must think they are unicorns. Atheists do not believe that their own personal "thinking" is "right", as if thinking existed separated from reality and is entirely subjective. That is the theist's point of view, where "thinking" comes not from a rational analysis of all existing facts, but from what is accepted on faith from a book or preacher, regardless of evidence to the contrary.

What atheists do believe, is that the world we inhabit obeys predictable rules; and those rules can be discerned through a process called science. Science is a process that involves curiosity, objectivity, doubt, and progressive advancement in our collective state of understanding -- all things anathematic to faith. This has been thoroughly demonstrated throughout history as science continues to explain more and more of the universe -- including how eyes evolved[1] and bees fly[2] -- relegating religion to smaller and smaller dark corners where science hasn't yet gotten around to illuminating.

All much to the continued benefit of the human race. It wasn't priests that invented the Internet that we are now using to discuss religion. Religion, in past times, provided us comfort, explanation of the mysterious, and social support when we could get it from no where else; however we now have much more powerful ways of protecting and nurturing the human race, and we have out grown the need for religion.

Secondly, we deny there is a Christian god the same way you deny there is a Zeus, a Shiva, or a tooth fairy -- we believe it's superstition. You can't argue god exists by starting out with the assumption that god exists.

And if we are to judge by who has been hurt and in need of a comforting by a supernatural father in the sky that makes everything right in the end, I am pretty sure atheists would not look so bad in the comparison.

Thirdly, accountability is an interesting topic. Atheists believe in holding yourself accountable for what is right, as defined by biological altruistic[3] imperatives, and learned social norms as codified as the laws of our ancestors. Meaning a invisible man in the sky is not required to make violence or subjugation immoral. It's immoral because any society based on such practices would very quickly destroy itself, and be replaced with ones who didn't.

If theists really believe that should the holy books be destroyed and memory of the passages be erased, that they themselves would instantly revert to evil without regard to their personal sense of right and wrong; that a single book is all that holds them back from praying on their fellow human beings mercilessly; then that is a scary group of humans I want my kids as far away from as possible!

Fourthly, atheists know that evolution is not a process of "random nothingness", but a stochastic process that converges to a stable solution given time. It is rather involved to see how it's obviously true, and requires an actually opened mind. So short of requesting a return trip to school, I am afraid you will continue to believe it's impossible, and science will continue learn new things beyond your ability to accept[4] regardless.

Fifthly, you're mistaken. Atheists do not believe god exists because there is no way for there to be a god, except by unsupported leap of faith.

Moreover people willing to make such irrational leaps[5] based on what is read in a book or spoken by a preacher, tend to do poorly at making this world a nice place to live in[6] -- kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy whereby belief in a better afterworld makes you likely sacrifice each other in the one we currently inhabit.

You also use Pascal's Wager, a much debunked argument[7]. Bottom line is while X% percent of the world may call themselves religious, the reality is those are all different religions, and in most of them, you go to hell with me. Perhaps you should worship all of them just to be safe?

Lastly, I'll offer a quote from R. Dawkins PhD. to help start your reinvestigation into what atheists really believe: “After sleeping through a hundred million centuries we have finally opened our eyes on a sumptuous planet, sparkling with color, bountiful with life. Within decades we must close our eyes again. Isn’t it a noble, an enlightened way of spending our brief time in the sun, to work at understanding the universe and how we have come to wake up in it? This is how I answer when I am asked—as I am surprisingly often—why I bother to get up in the mornings.”

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution_of_the_eye
[2] http://www.livescience.com/animals/060110_bee_fight.html
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altruism
[4] http://www.newscientist.com/topic/evolution
[5] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/2111174/Intelligent-people-less-likely-to-believe-in-God.html
[6] http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/04/30/religion.torture/
[7] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pascal%27s_Wager