25 November 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

I decided to observe the holiday's dawn at the wildlife refuge, and saw this view as the sun came over the horizon.  Glad to be here.

24 November 2010

Electronic media eat others for lunch

The subject of today's featured Wikipedia article is a TV show episode, the pilot of House.  This seems strange, somehow, but I'm not exactly sure why.  Maybe something about the physical intangibility of both the source and object involved in the reference?

20 November 2010

TSA blogospheric bombogenesis

Unsurprisingly, Bruce Schneier has been involved and insightfully observant in the ongoing debate and, to adapt a meteorological term, bombogenesis regarding TSA security screening procedures.  Do check his commentary and links there.  I particularly liked the checkpoint action figures - who knew?

[Edited 22 Nov to add] Don't miss The Onion's feature on the fictional, aptly named, Franz Kafka International Airport.

19 November 2010

I like backups!

OK, I realize that this may be eccentric.  I find backup operations satisfying, at least as they're completed, checking off an item from an unwritten to-do list.  Maybe it's residue from an earlier era, when disks crashed more often, but I don't feel that I'm really done with a computer-based activity until I'm confident that there's another copy of the result somewhere. Whatever that activity might have been, it was or seemed important at least at the time, not something to be lost or repeated.  The vast majority of data copies I've made have fortunately lived out their days in write-only obscurity, often overwritten by their successors, but the occasional exceptions validate their existence.  If I experience some digital apocalypse, at least I can expect to be able to reassemble most of my accumulated bits afterwards.

13 November 2010

Overseen by raptor

You may walk below, human. I will observe from above.

11 November 2010

Two different cats

I consider myself fortunate to share my home with two cats, companions both for each other and for resident humans.  Particularly given that they're related to one another and from the same origin, and have spent almost all of their lives in the same territory, I'm intrigued to note how they've developed dramatically different personalities (felinalities?).  Partly, this seems to reflect human gender stereotypes.  Our male is larger, more assertive, and much more vocal.  Our female is quiet, reserved, and meows delicately and selectively on occasion.  She'll consent to his attempts to groom her, but sometimes with apparent reluctance.  Still, it's clear that they've established a close feline relationship, partly based on communication not fully apparent to the humans.  It may be imponderable just what to attribute to nature vs. nurture vs. developmental history, but I'll ponder it anyway.  Perhaps evolution has selected in favor of a randomness trait, so different individuals within a species won't generally become identical, thus allowing them to complement rather than duplicate one another?

10 November 2010

Have you contributed any knowledge today?

Open Mind Common Sense would like some.  (Registration required. OpenID accepted.)

07 November 2010

Explaining GUIs on the phone

As de facto IT support person for my household, I sometimes find myself on the phone trying to answer a question about how to accomplish a task within the GUI of a program or OS.  This often tends to be a frustrating experience, as successful GUI navigation often takes place by feel, unlike command lines that need to be known beforehand but can be directly quoted. I often find it necessary to bring up the same GUI myself, to locate and cite the right menu items, while asking "what are you seeing now" and hoping that our reference points are comparable.  Naturally, it's hard to describe "what you're seeing now" comprehensively and concisely by voice, particularly when focus can shift among multiple windows.  GUIs provide a rich (and, when successful, satisfying) context for interaction, but it's difficult to explain how to behave effectively with them when that context isn't available.

03 November 2010

Internationally known

This blog has now been live for just under a month, and I'm intrigued to observe its traffic sources.  The US generates the highest number, followed by Russia, Japan, South Korea, and Lithuania, after which point there's a sizable drop-off to lower-numbered entries from several other countries. I'm interested and glad to see dispersed interest, but wonder what aspects are attracting visitors from where.