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    Blog entries for December, 2005

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    Already there is controversy. Does a quad-verb count? What if you have a verb-bar, like View Publish Connect Communicate? What is a tripleverb anyway?

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    Up to all sorts of things this month, but apparently not writing blog entries until today.

    Intelligent Design

    I haven't been following any of the media coverage of Intelligent Design, since I generally have better things to do (not good things mind you). Tonight though I found myself (for example) trying to burn up moldy cheese with a half-evaporated bottle of bad brandy, and rather than document it Federico-style, I read the Dover court opinion on ID which turns out to be pretty fun. Whether you take the science or religion side of things (or as the judge often suggests, don't see the two in conflict), you have to admit it's sort of amazing that grownups are playing this game.

    The Dover school district declared that prior to teaching evolution, teachers had to read a few paragraphs to the class stating that evolution was just a theory and that to learn about Intelligent Design kids could read the panda book. In practice, all the teachers refused to read the paragraphs, so an administrator had to come into the room and read them. Just think about how silly everyone should feel during the following:

    • Parents had to submit permission slips indicating whether their child could be in the room during the reading of The Paragraphs.
    • The administrator comes in the room and sends out the kids whose parents didn't give permission.
    • Administrator intones the Paragraphs, trying to keep a straight face while telling 9th-graders to read a book called Of People and Pandas.
    • Administrator then informs students that their teacher can't answer any questions about the Paragraphs, and they are not to discuss the topic further in class.
    • Everything goes back to normal.

    To enable those 5 minutes of bizarreness, there were hundreds of letters and editorials, public hearings, a mass mailing to the whole town, the permission slips, a 21-day trial, ...

    The ever-popular Rick Santorum was "troubled by testimony indicating that religion motivated some school board members to adopt the policy" - not the sharpest tool in the shed, this guy.

    In the 80s, apparently pretty much the same thing happened only they called it "creation science." The authors of the panda book it turns out literally went through their manuscript and replaced all occurrences of "creation science" with "intelligent design" after a 1987 court decision banned teaching "creation science" in public schools. You laugh, but it fooled Rick Santorum.


    Hoping to enrich my life by providing me with digital content, Amy gave me this Sufjan Stevens album, described by Amazon as:

    Illinois sounds like The Sea and Cake collaborating with the high-school band from a Wes Anderson film on banjo-driven, pulsing meditations on Vince Guaraldi's music for Peanuts.

    That description is pretty accurate. The album is cool. Check it out.

    Christian didn't like Shadow of the Wind too much, but I thought it was very enjoyable. The ending is a bit tacked-on IIRC but you can decide to ignore the last chapter and still have a satisfying book, if you so choose.

    I signed up for Rhapsody which is pretty nice for listening to multimedia content (aka "music") at work, and now works on Fedora Core 4 with Firefox 1.0. I found a couple bugs but nothing major and Linux seems on par with Mac/Windows. Worth checking out.


    I bought the domain early in the month. What is a tripleverb you ask? has a good one right now:

    Please email me your awesome tripleverb finds. I want to be #1 in the tripleverb space. Or sell the domain to whoever is, at least.

    Non-Designer's Design Book

    If you haven't noticed, my blog looks like ass. I got a copy of the Non-Designer's Design Book hoping to teach myself to fish, and it's a pretty good book. That said I think I'm hopeless and will end up begging or paying someone talented.

    Technology Industry vs. Reality

    Increasingly starting to believe that "conventional wisdom" in the tech community has almost nothing to do with the mainstream. (While before I would have admitted it was "possibly loosely related," if pressed, now I'm going more radical and claiming that most of what we talk about around the water cooler is just pure navel-gazing.)

    The fastest-growing web sites in November were PhotoBucket, MySpace, Facebook,, Slate, M&M's, LimeWire,, Wikipedia, and Only Wikipedia is dorksville; the rest of these have nothing to do with Ajax or Web 2.0 or anything like that. is highly-un-PC, just Flash, no HTML in sight. Popular sites like MySpace and Xanga in my experience regularly crash Firefox, or don't work properly, because Firefox users never go to them and the bugs don't get filed, and the sites are full of bad HTML and Flash and who knows what.

    Ask a typical GNOME or Firefox developer (or venture capitalist) to name a photo site, they will say Flickr. But PhotoBucket, Kodak, Shutterfly, Picasa, iPhoto, etc. are probably all better-known in the world at large - and better-suited for what a lot of people want to do with their photos than Flickr is. Not picking on Flickr, it's a good site and well-suited to many, just an example. ("All photo sites are the same category" is itself tech industry lazythink, as PhotoBucket, Flickr, and Shutterfly for example have pretty different design centers. At least I didn't lump all "digital content" sites together!)

    Many will find this obvious: there's a sharp line between the mainstream and some of the things we engineers might think are important. But if I had a nickel for everyone who argues otherwise on an open source mailing list...

    Head First Series

    If you need to teach someone programming via Java, I thought Head First Java was really good. The author's blog rocks too. If you're considering this book, be warned you may be culturally incompatible with it; in fact the more you disagree with my above punditry on the tech industry, the more you'll probably hate this book. ;-) Also, Joel says real men only program in C while walking to school uphill both ways in the snow.

    XM Radio

    I got Amy an XM radio for Christmas, and I'm pretty impressed with it. Good stations and the device itself is inexpensive and well-designed. The main practical problem is the same one as the iPod, cars just aren't designed for these things and you end up with wires everywhere and having to pipe the sound to your speakers via a bad FM transmitter.

    Woot, pretty awesome if you haven't seen it. I don't think they ever have anything I'd buy, but it's fun to read the FAQ.


    Starting to think about a new laptop, as my X31 is over 3 years old. Oddly, the latest X series isn't really very different; I guess the battery and size limitations squish Moore's law like a bug. I'm traveling less than I used to, and doing more coding instead of just mail/web, so I think I want to get something faster and with a larger screen. Probably I'll just go with the large-screen version of the T series. The Z series is cute, but the Z60t has too small a screen and the Z60m is too big and heavy. In general I can't handle the full-on "desktop replacement" sized laptops, they are just too luggable. I haven't seen any non-Thinkpad models that look all that appealing but if you have suggestions I'd appreciate them. Anyone tried the Dell D610?


    We have a new niece:

    Happy New Year

    Should be interesting...