June 30, 2005

Conditionals and polymorphism

I've always had a nagging issue with the refactoring item replace conditional with polymorphism. The concept is that you have a bunch of objects that are acted upon in the same situation but with different underlying actions. With the canonical Shape class and its Circle, Square, and Triangle subclasses, a poor design would have the draw method in Shape and a conditional within that method to draw each possible type. That's a little contrived because of the simplicity of the example, but real-world examples are common resulting from tree-forest syndrome in bulky classes, or from code bloat as more and more classes are added--requiring copy-pastes with small alterations to the conditional.

This refactoring method converts the multiple-line conditional blocks into single lines of code that distribute their work across an already-existing class hierarchy (see below). The problem I have is that, while the superfluous conditionals are removed, there's always one or two that must remain: those that create the separate objects in the first place.

if x then
else if y then
else if z then
end if


base->process() - - - - > calls x or y or z

That "redistribution" is key, and eliminates so much noisy, conditional code that I'm sometimes unjustly suspicious of every conditional I see. This is similar to how the standard's algorithms have made loops suspicious--breaking them up into templates (find<>, for_each<>, set_intersection<>, etc.) and predicates. Absolutes are never so absolute, so there are times to use loops and conditionals (and times when the standard binders justdon'twork). The Boost library and features in updates to the C++ standard and especially some of the functional magic going on in Alexandrescu's techniques are all helpful in this regard.

Continue reading "Conditionals and polymorphism"
posted by sstrader at 6:29 PM in Programming | permalink

Happy birthday Richard William Fenway Bernhardt!

Just got the news. Man, my friends are popin' 'em out leftandright. The specs:

  • Wednesday 29 July 2005, 11:58 AM
  • 7.9 lbs
  • 19-1/2 inches

Congratulations Debbie and Kevin.

posted by sstrader at 5:53 PM in Birthdays | permalink


Today's edition of Soundcheck on WNYC is titled "Recorded Music and its Discontents" and discusses how the process and technology of recording has altered music itself, based on the central theme of Evan Eisenberg's book The Recording Angel [Amazon] (duly wishlisted). This has been been a frequent topic on music blogs since pre-NYC trip--in fact one of the original articles was in-flight reading. Probably an Alex Ross piece from The New Yorker ...

... searching ...

Bingo. With a follow up piece. Very good articles. David Byrne wrote a piece about it, as did A.C. Douglas (if you think I'm a snob, you haven't seen anything until you've read his blog). I'm recording the WNYC show in case I miss it.

posted by sstrader at 1:18 AM in Music | permalink


A caller on today's Brian Lehrer Show (with guest host whose name I forget I'm sorry) argued that anger at the war, anger defended by the population's majority dissatisfaction with the war, is indefensible because such a position suggests that public policy should waver with shifting public opinion. I've said many times before (though not here, so I have no proof) that there's a dichotomy in this country between the desire for representatives representing the public and for those with steadfast ideals. If you do vote the poll numbers, you're either swaying to popular opinions or you're listening to your constituency. If you don't, you're ignoring the public's will or fiercely independent. Damned if you etc.

But yet the point I want to make is: the majority of our arguments aren't that Bush is defying public opinion. That's icing on the cake right now as he dips deeper and deeper. "Dip" being operative. Our main arguments have been that you're invading the wrong people for the wrong reasons AND THEN LYING TO US ABOUT IT ALL. Jackass.

Let's not get all caught up in ignorance and self-indulgence that masquerades as independence.

Continue reading "Popularity"
posted by sstrader at 12:31 AM in Politics | permalink

June 29, 2005

America's contribution to the world's religions

[don't read this if you're touchy about religion - ed.]

Salon has started a four-part series on Scientology.

What is it about modern American religions that binds them to such questionable social acts? Mormons [Wikipedia] have/had thier penchant for polygamy, Christian Scientists have their ambivalence towards medicine. And Scientologists have badgered, legally and socially, those who have left their religion or those who criticize it (and hopefully, they only attack those whose opinions matter--winkwink). Is this just a parallel of the persecution of older incipient religions? A very basic summary (although please correct if I'm horrendously wrong): Jews were enslaved as foreigners, Christians were persecuted for their challenge to the Jewish authorities, and Muslims were condemned for their conflict with the prevailing animism. All pretty normal in societies where theological is political. But in such a wonderfully permissive society as America's, how in the hell do religions crop up and still bump against the social norms?

All of America's religions are based on documented lies. In the world of early Judaism or Christianity or Islam, society's less-than-incisive collecting of facts was understandable. How can that happen today in our (apparently not so) modern world of open information? Well, there's a desire for the spiritual no matter the facts, so I guess if something's gonna crop up as a spiritual desire (rocks or crystals or incantations from a book or Nikes hopping a comet) no amount of real-world knowledge is going to stop it. The harmless part is the spiritual part.

But these affronts to social mores, that have little-to-nothing to do with the spiritual intent of the American religions, are inexplicable. All of the American religions have basically the same bundle of stuff once you ignore their embarassing beginnings and questionable activities: positive thinking and a (ultimately non-denominational) soul. Why don't they just stick with that?

Continue reading "America's contribution to the world's religions"
posted by sstrader at 12:55 PM in Culture & Society | permalink

June 28, 2005

Google Earth, part 2

Initial comments on the (beta) software:

  • Clunky interface, like a first-generation cross-platform UI
  • Tools to the left of the screen are crowded and never seem to be the right size. I'm constantly resizing one or the other.
  • Intermittent failed refresh of layers. Sometimes street names or other features will disappear if you fly to a new location.
  • The features included in the layers tool--restaurants, ATMs, MARTA stations--will become a first-stop for many people. Lasoo had this around four years ago [SearchEngineWatch], and its demise hit me almost as much as that of WebVan's ... almost. Some of this is available in much more laborious interfaces at Yellow Pages Web sites, but the effort to use those is just too great.
  • Oh why does it have to be a binary client? They bend space and time and make the most elegant map client out there, and then they shove it in this ugly UI. I understand they're in their own embrace and extend [Wikipedia] period now (Blogger, Picasa, etc.), but I'm getting spoiled by all that the Web can (and should) do. I'm on three different computers a day. It'd be nice not to have to install stuff on all of them. I'm not sure where I first heard the phrase "universal client" for Web browser, but it's a good model to use.
Continue reading "Google Earth, part 2"
posted by sstrader at 11:07 PM in Science & Technology | permalink

Immersion, part 2

Remember when you re-watched one of those cyberspace movies that had a 2nd-tier kind of popularity 10 years back or so? And remember how painfully gay they looked with people flying around in space and manipulating colored boxes that represented THE CENTRAL MAINFRAME, or something equally stupid? Well, check out Google Earth [via cyanbane]. Just last week, I was in a debate with someone about the value of these new, immersive search options such as this and MS's Virtual Earth. We're certainly in the heydays of search technology.

It's like flying around in cyberspace. Only not so gay.


(Props to the long-defunct Lasoo search engine for having several of Google Earth's features five years ago.)

Continue reading "Immersion, part 2"
posted by sstrader at 4:33 PM in Science & Technology | permalink

Sarah Vowell, NPR, and Coldplay

Some items from Sarah Vowell's book Radio On: A Listener's Diary [Amazon] concerning "good" music and whether public broadcasting should exist, and from the more recent critical discussions on Coldplay (smoothly continued from a recent entry/argument).

Continue reading "Sarah Vowell, NPR, and Coldplay"
posted by sstrader at 12:42 PM in Music | permalink

June 27, 2005

Where was I?

Hit my 40 hours early on Friday and struggled through traffic to get home. Jogged and then sweated my way up MARTA (it takes me, I swear, hours to cool down after a jog, especially when it's in the 90s) to meet everyone at Copeland's before going to see Land of the Dead at Buckhead Backlot. It was a fun, stupid movie in an appropriate venue: people were noisy and having a good time.

land of the dead

We continued the evening at The Bucket Shop for (more) drinks and (more) greasy food. Latelate night.

Hijinks on Saturday with more jogging and some piano time. Out for dinner at Wahoo in Decatur. Average food, nice atmosphere. We had a very nice chenin blanc though--can't remember the winery. Finished up at Thinking Man's Tavern just down the street (which we were originally introduced to by the Kirkwood Duo). Another late night.

Recovery Sunday consisted of cleaning: bathroom, floors, laundry, desk. Also celebrated our sixth year of not watching the gay pride parade that runs right outside our front door. Judging from the two hours of cheering and honking, I don't think that we were missed.

Busy week up ahead as a laundry list of new features has appeared that need to be coded and tested in the 11th hour. Naturally. End of the first week of my new messenger bag and I'm the Hero of the Playground! To top it off, my new laptop fits in it perfectly.

Continue reading "Where was I?"
posted by sstrader at 1:11 AM in Cinema , Where was I? | permalink

June 25, 2005


Randomly spelunking through comments at The Washington Monthly on an article discussing the Republican war on science, I noticed that people still try to counter global warming by bringing up global cooling [Wikipedia]. They suggest that scientists were screaming dire warnings in the 1970s, and have now reversed themselves. Foolish science, when will it learn? Wikipedia's entry, specifically the section discussing the history of the scientific position, points out that this was an idea discussed in scientific journals and blown out of propotion by misquotes in the popular press. Cooling did occur up to around 1966, and the scientists were examining its possible causes.

(This Newsweek article is often cited by anti-climate change proponents. This section in the Wikipedia entry addresses that.)

To the credit of the comments in The Washington Monthly story, many people countered with the facts, along with several good citations from Wikipedia and RealClimate (which I had originally heard about from an NPR show, kinda supporting the Republicans v. science paranoia).

Next they're going to say that climate change is "just a theory."

Continue reading "Cool"
posted by sstrader at 12:49 PM in Science & Technology | permalink

June 24, 2005


Does everyone else know that Tom Cruise is a jackass?

posted by sstrader at 6:51 PM in Misc | permalink

A seat in hell

From Ms. It's-Friday-And-I'm-Bored-At-Work (some know her as Shelby): the tale of the disgruntled flyer.

The current status at Snopes is "undetermined." And they have a full transcript.
Continue reading "A seat in hell"
posted by sstrader at 2:19 PM in Misc | permalink

Stupid, mindless

I often go off on pop music for its obvious crappiness and on people for refusing to attach criticism to it. That absolute is, of course, not so absolute, and the Guardian provides us with an excellent example of how desparately in need pop music is for a good lashing [via Tim Rutherford-Johnson's equally entertaining rant].

posted by sstrader at 12:27 PM in Music | permalink

June 23, 2005

On Iraq

Several (un-sourced) comments (sorry, I can't find where I heard these):

  • Bush speaking on Iraq pointed out that the nations of the world need to pitch in and do their part, then told the Iraqi people that they need to start being responsible for their own security.
  • Condeleeza Rice reiterated the responsibility of other nations.
  • Promised reconstruction money from other nations is coming very slowly because of the continued lack of stability in Iraq.

It's like Bush and Rice are trying to shift responsibility for success on Iraq and the rest of the world (i.e. anybody but them), and also trying to get their comments in the public record so that they will be remembered as having put out a warning (it's not their fault if it's not heeded).

posted by sstrader at 1:40 PM in Politics | permalink

TOTN on CPB funding

Reviewing yesterday's discussion on Talk of the Nation covering issues surrounding government funding and public broadcasting. The guests were the editor of Reason magazine, Nick Gillespie, and Michael McCauley, associate professor of communication and journalism at the University of Maine. A few points:

Continue reading "TOTN on CPB funding"
posted by sstrader at 11:27 AM in Culture & Society | permalink

June 22, 2005


Am I insane?

I recently sat through a rant against OOD because of its (1) over-abstraction and (2) inefficiency. The ranter in question was seething over some guy that was in love with his own code because he designed detailed object relationships. It's tough to argue about code you haven't seen, a coder you don't know, and all of this in relation to a common ailment with coders. I'll only relate this as a simile, but it's like impugning an artist for being in love with their own work. That's a given. However, that being said, I've heard too often that OOD is anathema.

Continue reading "Anti-objectivists"
posted by sstrader at 1:43 PM in Programming | permalink

June 21, 2005

Happy birthday Jack Cameron Hellenga!

You're only 3 hours and 10 minutes old and already on the Internet!

(And congratulations Hugh and Molly.)

posted by sstrader at 4:24 PM in Birthdays | permalink

Last weekend

Went white-waterin' on Saturday in Nantahala with friends and, although I regretably did not purchase a photograph that would have been even better than the previous, we had a great time. Our guide, Dee Dee (who was baffled when I asked her about her mad scientist brother), was a young turk who caught endless grief from the more seasoned guides. At one point, another female guide jumped onto our raft and wrestled with Dee Dee, trying to knock her in the water. I know. It was hot.

dee dee

Battling the rapids, I was the first to fall in, with Dan a close second--we were at the front of the raft. He did much better because he got caught in a whirlpool at the base of some rapids and couldn't swim out. Eventually, a raft filled with elderly ladies wearing those t-shirts that made them look like they were wearing bikinis came to his rescue. After they pulled him out of the water, another raft of their friends commented "oh, they'll do anything to get a man." I hope I'll be white water rafting when I'm 60.

The falls at the end of the trip was where we really shined (and where the abandoned photograph would have shown us as the Kings of the River that we were). We came in sideways to the right of the falls and could not paddle fast enough to miss the huge rock that made the falls, well, fall. Our raft was suspended on the rock, with a five foot drop to our left and the falls (that is: the correct route down) behind us. This was exactly how Dan and I took a dive earlier--Dee Dee took us too close to rocks. Anyway, she pulled some sort of river magic out of her ass and got us to paddle off the rock, down the falls, and into an amazed audience.

We gave the Rocky cheer with our paddles, but alas we were jackasses once we hit the shore and completely forgot to tip Dee Dee.

Sunday was all about recoverin'. After some major house-cleaning, I hit the piano and Lisa went to see Sith with Shelby & Robert. She got back late and we went to Vinocity on a whim to hang out at the bar. Several friends had had truly awful experiences there recently, yet I could not forget the great dinner we had the first time we were there. And getting wine at a wine bar seemed safe. I was rewarded for my loyalty with 1/2 price bottles on Sunday. Yay!

We spoke at length with a professional photographer (Michael?) at the bar who lives in LA and was in town for the weekend to photograph some actors' headshots. He hops between LA, Atlanta, and NYC taking photographs and (apparently) going to wine bars. We bonded on our mutual art upbringing and the will to "do what you love" (favorite saying of my painting teacher). Hopefully, his card is floating around Lisa's car somewhere. Not in my wallet. Not in her purse. And my desk is clean so I know it's not there.

Continue reading "Last weekend"
posted by sstrader at 12:58 PM in Misc | permalink

Currently Listening To

More music from RadioWave. I'm listening through all of the Schumann works that I've aquired. Some of the major piano suites (Papillons Op. 2; Carnaval Op. 9; Fantasiestücke Op. 12; Scenes from Childhood Op. 15; Kreisleriana, Op. 16; Arabeske, Op. 18); his Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 54; two String Quartets Op. 41 #s 1 and 3; his Symphonies #s 2 and 4; and Marchenbilder, Op. 113 for viola and piano. I know Papillons and Carnaval and Scenes (mostly from my fractured readings in college), but several of those other works are new. These RadioWave recordings, far from hi-fi, are great for getting familiar with the standard repertoire--and to share them with others.

Someone had recently recommended the new recording of the Ligeti [Wikipedia] piano etudes, but I swear I can't remember who. This disk includes book 1 (1985), book 2 (1988-1994), and the first etude from book 3 (1995-2001). The dates are according to Wikipedia, although I believe Ligeti says in the liner notes that he hasn't finished the third book.

The CD was released in 1996, so the third book of the Ligeti is probably floating around somewhere.
Continue reading "Currently Listening To"
posted by sstrader at 1:15 AM in Current Interests , Music | permalink

Alex Ross on Koyaanisqatsi

Alex Ross is on target with his review of the recent performance of Koyaanisqatsi at the Rose Theater in NYC. Lisa & I saw Naqoyqatsi in the same series--hey, I wonder if Alex Ross was that hirsute guy sitting in front of us! Either way...we generally agree with critics when they (1) enlighten us in some way, or (2) agree with us.

I'll take 2.

Lost in the corporate email archives of either Sterling Commerce or Xcellenet is my review of Koyaanisqatsi at The Fox Theater sent to a co-worker in the day-after excitement--still shocked by the astoundingly perfect ending. I'm lucky I didn't encounter the movie in college or else, like Ross, I might have dismissed it as a trippy, slick, MTV-ish thing, to which some well-meaning soul had attached hippie messages about the mechanization of existence and the spoliation of the planet. I was not the sharpest student in the pencil box, and, hanging around liberals much more rabid than me, would have been pelted with Groovy Theories. And those are the terms that I heard used when the movie was discussed in musical circles. When I finally saw it, my excitement came from a response to it's much more nuanced statement: that we're part of a complex system. Love it or whatever. The crushing mechanization, displayed alternately in frenzied time-lapse and langorous slow motion, is paired directly with scenes from nature using the same techniques. You can view 10-hours-as-10-minutes of factory workers in the same manner as of clouds passing. Our social systems are not necessarily a problem; they're what we are.

One point Alex Ross missed that hit me during The Fox performance was the sublime parallel of the images in the movie (e.g. workers as part of the machine of society) and the actions of the musicians--struggling to keep time with the flow of the movie and to match the sometimes very precise entries and exits. For me, it was a perfect introduction to Koyaanisqatsi.

Continue reading "Alex Ross on Koyaanisqatsi"
posted by sstrader at 12:57 AM in Music | permalink

June 20, 2005


Drinking with someone the other night, we got into an argument about the relevancy of the new directions that search engines are taking. Amazon's A9 displays storefronts [SearchEngineWatch] as photographed from a fleet of vans. Google's map displays satellite images [SearchEngineWatch] of the area that you're viewing, and they are planning 3D enhancements [SearchEngineWatch] as reported in eWeek. MSN is developing a Virtual Earth [SearchEngineWatch] using a fleet of low-flying planes. On top of that, Google has just added the world [via /.]. Most places are lo-res satellite or country placeholders, yet their future intentions are clear.

Are these features just "cool," or do they add enough value to be around for a while?

Continue reading "Immersion"
posted by sstrader at 7:20 PM in Culture & Society | permalink

Public service

Brian Lehrer on WNYC discussing the CPB funding issue.

David Boaz, executive vice president of the Cato Institute, argued for a separation of news and state. VOA [Wikipedia] was not brought up, I'm assuming, because it's restricted from being broadcast within the US (which is just silly considering their short-wave broadcast, their streaming audio feed, and their Web page). He also argued that FOX and CNN provide sufficient diversity for the public. The discussion was interesting until Boaz declared Lehrer biased simply because he was presenting counter-arguments. During the introduction, Lehrer admitted his bias--acknowledging the absurdity of even needing to point that out--yet ad hominem is no way to defend your side of the issue. Following were call-ins that were, I swear, 90% in support of cutting all funding for CPB. So much for public radio limiting public debate. WNYC consistently presents a diversity of opinion; greater and with greater depth than the narrow editorializing of FOX+CNN. I'll reiterate Bill Moyers' point that giv[ing] each side an opportunity to spin the news is not reporting. We're still a long way off from people being reasonable.

Continue reading "Public service"
posted by sstrader at 10:45 AM in Culture & Society | permalink

June 19, 2005

Transcription: "Our Love Was" by The Who

Another arrangement relatively loyal to the original in structure. I struggle about my possible over-adherence to the source material--this is related to the various discussions on cover songs from a couple of months ago. Ontheonehand, I don't like the bar band human jukeboxes who copy a song exactly as written (and I'm generally not alone). If people are just lookin' for some good timin' noise, sure, those types are OK for background whatever. And it takes a certain amount of skill to reproduce a song. However, skill is one thing and artistic expression is another, and audiences respond differently to each.

Ontheotherhand, although a switch from guitar-bass-drums to piano is a notable change in itself, which takes a certain similar-but-different skill, it is still skill v. artistry. I think that I've put enough of "me" into the songs, but I realize that I may be overlooking an area for personal expression by sticking so strictly to the original structures. It's not necessarily wrong, but it could be, and I need to consider it when I work on other covers.

Continue reading "Transcription: "Our Love Was" by The Who"
posted by sstrader at 8:46 PM in Music | tagged the who | permalink


Scott Spiegelberg has had two weeks of attempting to manifest the mysteries by using random iPod tracks and merging them with a Tarot reading: thus, the iChing [via Preposterous Universe]. Very entertaining.

I'm surprised I haven't heard of more divine leveraging of such computational randomness. It reminds me of a recent report I had read about [source?] where delusions were studied along with their relationship to modern technology. The example I remember is of a lady who felt that the top search results of a specific phrase were being sent to her specifically by unseen forces (the important point being that a different set of high-ranked hits would have instilled a different delusion). What was once only borrowed from the complexity of nature is now being subsumed by complex technology.

posted by sstrader at 2:54 PM in Culture & Society | permalink

Google mobile, mobile Google

Google has begun providing a PDA-focused front-end for searching [via [H]ard|OCP]. I had noticed a week or so ago that their site was slightly different on my phone. I had assumed it was a simple reformatting of an already sparse page, and had hoped that they would eventually update it to index PDA-only content. Voila, they have.

On the ride up to Nantahala yesterday, Lisa wanted to check scores for some college game of some sort. Sports pages are notoriously bulky and inefficient (Flash, tables, no CSS, etc.), so just loading a page of scores was iffy. I went on a bitching jag about the general idiocy of commercial Web sites that provide neither lean nor PDA-friendly sites. I haven't tested the Google results, but their intent should bring more traffic to the existing PDA content and therefore more attention to the greater demand in this era of A Blackberry in Every Household.

Continue reading "Google mobile, mobile Google"
posted by sstrader at 2:16 PM in Science & Technology | permalink

June 17, 2005

Laptop, part 2

After a few minor mishaps with my order, my new laptop finally came in today! Nice machine, but I first must uninstall all of the 90-day trial software. Grr. The New Machine always brings on a scarey, blank slate feeling. It is, beyond the trial crap, pristine and will never be as clean as it is or run as well as it does today. I'm tempted to get Norton GoBack but am a little wary of all of the horrible reviews [Amazon] it gets from owners using XP. Still, for $22 it's tempting. I've also been impressed by Microsoft Virtual PC [Amazon] or even VMware Workstation [Amazon]. Nice way to keep a clean machine and delegate messy test installs to an image.

So I need to buy a bunch of software before I can use my new laptop? Yeah, I guess that's how it looks.

posted by sstrader at 1:16 PM in Home Network & Gadgets | permalink

June 16, 2005

Hitchens: this is a non-issue

Christopher Hitchens just suggested to Brian Lehrer on WNYC that the word "fixed" in the Downing Street Memo sentence the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy is, in fact, the proper English usage of "fixed" as stationary or established. He went on to say that the English don't speak out of the sides of their mouths by using slang such as "the fix is on." OK.

But wait: isn't the use in the DSM sentence, something like, past progressive in passive form? If you don't trust me, trust some other English people [BBC]. The DSM usage is not as an adjective as Hitchens suggests.

posted by sstrader at 11:29 AM in Politics | permalink

Sunny Days, chasing the clouds away

Muting the Conversation of Democracy: The Corporation for Public Broadcasting Under Attack - a transcript of Bill Moyers' speech at the National Conference on Media Reform in St. Louis on 15 May 15 2005. I previously had heard an excerpt:

One reason I'm in hot water is because my colleagues and I at "NOW" didn't play by the conventional rules of Beltway journalism. Those rules divide the world into Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, and allow journalists to pretend they have done their job if, instead of reporting the truth behind the news, they merely give each side an opportunity to spin the news.

He gets his blood all good and angried up about the issue. Basically, a majority of the public supports public broadcasting and feels that it's reporting is unbiased. Unfortunately, the chairman of the CPB did not release these findings to the media.

MoveOn sent out another email on the CPB issue on Wednesday (Shelby did her civic duty and passed MoveOn's email around, but I had already signed the petition) that included a link to a Washington Post article from last Friday.

But the loss of $23.4 million in federal funds for children's educational shows -- which PBS calls its "Ready to Learn" programs -- could mean the elimination of ... "Sesame Street," "Dragontales," "Clifford" and "Arthur," among others.

I'd like to think that the Internet, or public libraries could fill learning gaps, but I realize that those aren't options for lower-income households. And there'll always be a bunch of jackasses who will get angrier at the $400 million CPB budget, because 15-minutes show two families in Vermont headed by lesbians, than the gross misappropriation of funds for the war in Iraq.

posted by sstrader at 1:04 AM in Politics | permalink

June 15, 2005

Scandinavian composers

Ah, Sibelius! Who else comes from your wacky lands (at least, the ones I'm most familiar with)?

Continue reading "Scandinavian composers"
posted by sstrader at 12:57 PM in Music | permalink

June 13, 2005


Alex Ross has pointed out that John Adams [Wikipedia] is working on his third opera (libretto by bad boy Peter Sellars [Wikipedia]) to premiere in San Fran this October. It's titled Dr. Atomic and covers the hours leading up to the first atomic test [Wikipedia].

I may be clinging to a dead form, but I wish that there were a more active culture of modern historic opera. Adams' first two also covered relatively recent events: The Death of Klinghoffer [Wikipedia], about the Palestinian terrorist hijacking of the Achille Lauro in 1985, and Nixon in China, about Nixon's 1972 visit to China. Why do historical operas seem more compelling than a fictional re-telling in, say, novel or movie form? I'm not sure.

posted by sstrader at 1:17 PM in Music | permalink


Just got email confirmation of my new laptop I ordered on the cheap from the Dell outlet for < $1000. I need something portable to do the work-from-home thing. Of course, I wait till late in the contract to get a laptop, but I've just never been that ... "smart" I think is the word I'm looking for.

The specs:

  • Inspiron 6000 Notebook: Intel Pentium M Processor 715 (1.50 GHz/2MB Cache/400MHz FSB)
  • Microsoft Windows XP Professional
  • 512 MB DDR2 SDRAM 400MHz (1 DIMM)
  • 80 GB EIDE Hard Drive (5400 RPM)
  • 15.4 inch WXGA Notebook Screen
  • Intel PRO/Wireless 2915 Internal Wireless 802.11a/b/g,54Mbps
  • 8X DVD ROM Drive

I don't often purchase new hardware, so I'm excited. Not as excited as for the new messenger bag, but still excited. And I think it's got more processing power than all of my desktop machines--including the Web server--combined. I really don't purchase new hardware that often.

inspiron 6000

Although I'm most excited about the "AOL 9.0 ISP Software" that comes bundled. Sweet. "You've got crap!"

posted by sstrader at 10:21 AM in Misc | permalink

June 10, 2005

Rude boy

An hi-larious outburst of expletives by The Rude Pundit on Howard Dean (even funnier than his original outburst about Dean back in campaigning days). Am I becoming everything I hate (that is: becoming like all of those jackasses who listen to shrill talk radio) by enjoying this?

Maybe. Maybe not.

posted by sstrader at 4:03 PM in Politics | permalink

Music subscription comparison sites

My bro might be interested in joining a music subscription service. I've really only had experience with Rhapsody but have heard with interest that new, more competitive pricing structures have appeared, along with greater competition. My observations of Rhapsody:

  • Pros
    • streams content (some services are only for download)
    • allows you to view items missing from their library (good for reference)
    • lists artists' influences and contemporaries
  • Cons

Here are a few comparison sites I've found:

2 September 2005

BoingBoing posted this link to the EFF article "The Customer Is Always Wrong: A User's Guide to DRM in Online Music". iTunes v. Microsoft v. RealNetworks v. Napster.

Continue reading "Music subscription comparison sites"
posted by sstrader at 10:36 AM in Music | permalink

June 9, 2005

Things I learned, part 2

  1. With both RealPlayer and Winamp, you can stream an MP3 from a Web site, without downloading, and scroll to any point within the MP3. I really should have known that already. The Wife pointed it out to me.
  2. I know very little about the law, specifically copyright law. As an online type of person, I really really should know more.
posted by sstrader at 9:39 PM in Misc | permalink

It's my bag, baby

Thanks to Lady Crumpet's kind, personal shoppery assistance, I have a new messenger bag on its way to replace my reliable Gap book bag (purchased on an NYC trip several years back, no less).

my bag

I went to Timbuk2 and Made My Own Bag. Their wonderfully easy site changes colors and styles within the photo as you select options. Too many choices, but I think I got it down. This is a big move for me--am I ready to give up the book bag? For the cost of this messenger bag, I'd better be ready.

posted by sstrader at 4:05 PM in Misc | permalink

Things I learned

  1. Although I was mocked for my spelling of That Princess From Star Wars 4-6, Google gives 688,000 for Leia (my spelling) and only 351,000 for Leah (from those jackasses last night). I'll trust the source [IMDB].
  2. I need to look at ML [Wikipedia] or CAML [Wikipedia] for its functional language goodness [Wikipedia].
  3. After having spoken with two people obsessed in varying degrees with Web anonymity, I'm still lost as to why it would be beneficial. The boss can find me if he so chooses, but it's unlikely that an entry here would trump my good work there. And anything an old girlfriend would have to say, she's free to say it. My only concern is identity theft, but thieves will get more crucial information elsewhere--probably from any of the major corporations that seem to be handing it out like Halloween candy these days. The fact that I'm currently reading Sherlock Holmes stories won't get them far with my bank. Am I missing something?
  4. I need to get a flickr account. Possibly from this guy.
posted by sstrader at 1:25 PM in Misc | permalink

June 8, 2005

A truly decoupled visitor

From the Design Patterns [Amazon] book to Modern C++ Design [Amazon], I've been frustrated that the technique I use to implement the visitor pattern is not offered or even refuted. I'm either on to something or, quite the opposite, off of something. Or maybe simply on something.

Continue reading "A truly decoupled visitor"
posted by sstrader at 4:09 PM in Programming | permalink

Generalized functors

Required reading for C++ programmers: Alexandrescu's Modern C++ Design. I've been re-reading his chapter on generalized functors in the hope of seeing how I could have improved my recent code with abstracted database access. I wrapped specific MFC database actions in functions or function objects that are passed to a main function for execution. The main function catches the different MFC errors and checks return codes, then converts them into a custom exception hierarchy. This simplified the main code by eliminating multiple exception handlers around the code and multiple error checks inside the code. However, my function objects had limited versatility because their signatures had to stay the same.

Alexandrescu's generalized functors would have been ideal. He has created a small library that can wrap every type of callable entity (C functions, C function pointers, references to functions, functors, and member functions), along with parameter binding, in a single template. Very nice.

Continue reading "Generalized functors"
posted by sstrader at 12:28 PM in Programming | permalink

June 7, 2005

MyMedia, part 2

Related to my recent post on the dystopic personalization of media, Terry Teachout has an essay on the history of blogging [ via Alex Ross ].

With all of the great detail offered, I'm a little doubtful about his overall explanations that the red/blue state dichotomy sparked the drive for personalized culture (because the red states were disenfranchised by Liberal Media). He also asserts that the disconnect between mainstream media and groups not represented by mainstream media is somehow new to our modern culture (and that the common culture of widely shared values and knowledge that once helped to unite Americans of all creeds, colors, and classes no longer exists). There are many ideas in the essay so I'll need to re-read, but his conclusions seem considerably counter to historic example.

Continue reading "MyMedia, part 2"
posted by sstrader at 5:08 PM in Culture & Society | permalink

User-scripted windows

A co-worker is working on a VB form that reads custom XML files that define layout and validation. It will communicate with a back-end database and the layout will presumably be tweaked by the customer. This is an extremely common task. In my previous job, I wrote a system on CE that used HTML for layout, XML for data, and JavaScript for validation (sadly, I just heard that upon my leaving, it was declared "unuseable" by the other programmer on the project and completely rewritten). Before that, I worked at a company whose main product was an IDE that allowed users to design and script windows for simulations. The goal in both of those was to allow the client to create applications within a limited domain and with varying levels of complexity. It's unfortunate that these tools probably cannot be made generic enough for portability between projects. That "limited domain" is always so different that very little intersection exists.

posted by sstrader at 1:22 PM in Programming | permalink


Back in November of last year, I posted about an animation pondering the possibly weird world of media in the future. It's an animation called "Epic" and had some interesting ideas in it: in 2014 people will be surrounded by dynamically generated and dynamically compiled, personal media. This concept has been floating around for a while, but the Epic animation ties it in to current companies to give it a realistic edge. Google will provide the network grid, Blogger and iPod will provide personal broadcast "towers," and Amazon will provide the personalized recommendations. The New York Times and Microsoft die, and all media consumption reverts to trivial gossip. They have an update that tacks on events in 2015, but adds little to the concept.

I keep considering how the opposite (of degenerate personalized media) might happen. These cocoons of self-interest may be our generation's Frankenstein or primary dystopia: a warning of the possible excesses of media addiction if current trends are taken to the extreme. Dystopian predictions are good for the feedback and cathartic outlet they allow. They may be too extreme to ever happen, but they allow us as a society to examine the possibility and examine the fears that may be building in our subconscious.

posted by sstrader at 12:49 PM in Culture & Society | permalink

June 6, 2005

NYC trip

A thrilling tale that includes grand coincidences, delicious meals, odd music with dancing that was abruptly cut short, and a great deal of luck which slipped away near the end but ultimately carried through to our return home.

metro card

Continue reading "NYC trip"
posted by sstrader at 12:30 PM in Personal | tagged nyc, restaurant | permalink

June 1, 2005

Pynchon misc

Language hat has begun Mason & Dixon, so has had a few entries of interest (and will probably continue to) for Pynchon fans. First, an odd examination into some of the more obscure words in the book. An interesting discussion followed in the comments, along with a tangential link to Zak Smith's illustrations for every page of Gravity's Rainbow. Today, he points to a Bookforum article regarding the release of GR in 1974.

Even reading about Pynchon can be a daunting task. Phew.

posted by sstrader at 12:46 PM in Language & Literature | permalink


Heading off to Nantahala with friends on June 18th, so I dug up a photo of Lisa and I taken from a previous trip [when?].


I don't remember it being so dark and turbulent. It looks like we're travelling to Mordor. But at least we're having fun.

posted by sstrader at 11:58 AM in Misc | permalink