Friday, June 22, 2007

O' Reilly cuts off Swanson... my thoughts

Watch this (if you want) to see the "incident"...

(1) O’ Rilley : Why do you think the far left is disenchanted with Mrs. Clinton?
(1) Swanson : I think that actually Hilary Clinton is articulating a position that most Democrats agree with to get out of Iraq.
(2) O’ Rilley : OK, Mrs. Swanson, it’s very simple, why do you think the far left is disenchanted with her, why?
(2) Swanson : Well, I think that she’s put herself in a position to explain a little too much in terms of her past votes. I think John Edwards, by apologizing, has been able to move on a little easier than Hilary has. It’s easier to move on …
(2) O’ Rilley : …I don’t know what your saying
(2) Swanson : … It’s easier to move on after apologizing, and election are about the future.
(Medea Benjamin clarifies to Bill that the people were booing at Hiliary because that believe that we can’t put the blame on the Iraqi government… we need to have a withdraw plan and timeframe, get the intl community involved, etc. Therefore they were mad at Hilary’s statement that the Iraqi government has failed)
(3) O’ Rilley : Do you agree, Mrs. Swanson, that that is why the far left was disenchanted with Hilary Clinton?
(3) Swanson : I think you’re creating a division that doesn’t exist. I think that the real division exists in the Republican party, when you’ve got no Republican candidates (except for John Meccain) who don’t agree with the President’s policy in Iraq.


(1) The main issue stemmed from the fact that she answered the question about why the Democrats in the crowd were disenchanted, by telling O ‘Riley that the Democrats actually agreed with Hilary’s position to get out of Iraq. No, she said, the Democrats weren’t disenchanted, they were very agreeable with Hilary’s war withdraw plan!!! Unfortunately for Swanson, the fact that the Democrats in the crowd agree with her plan to get out of Iraq has little or nothing to do with their rationale for being audibly disenchanted with her statement that particular day about the Iraqi government being at blame for the entire mess of the war. Swanson (apparently) didn’t realize that Bill was talking about the crowd’s disenchantment with Hilary’s statement at the particular conference, not their level of enchantment with a withdraw plan. This is where she went terribly wrong – wake up Swanson; O’ Riley was talking about something unrelated, that is, the reason why the Democrats were booing at Hilary that day? There had to be some reason, and saying that they agreed with the war plan isn’t going to justify anything at all. The more I think about her statement the more unrelated it appears.

How can you blame O’ Rilley when Swanson wasn’t answering the questing at all? Swanson obviously thought that Bill was talking about the general disapproval with Hilary’s war plan, which she (Swanson) believed didn’t exist. Yet, it was more than clear to viewers that Bill was referring to the disenchantment evident in the audible disapproval of Hilary’s statement in which she blamed the Iraqi government. Swanson must have been sleeping during the playing of that clip, because everybody else knew that Bill was referring to the disenchantment with the video.

(2) No excuse for Swanson on this one. Bill is simply trying to get her another chance to answer a simple question about why the crowd was disenchanted with Hilary that day after she said that damming statement about the Iraqi government, yet, she goes off into a completely unrelated tangent about how Hilary is generally evoking sentiment of disenchantment in people because of her questionable past voting record, and that John Edwards saved himself from this by coming out clean. She is once again blowing Bill’s question out of proportion and thinking big picture. She still hasn’t caught on that Bill is STILL referring to the particular disenchantment sentiments that were evident at the conference in which Hilary was booed! Bill clarifies what he was talking about in (3), only because Swanson is incredibly slow to realize that were talking about once instance here, not the general disapproval with Hilary.

(3) She still doesn’t answer the question here at all. Bill was referring to the DIVISION IN THE DEMOCRATS PRESENT AT THIS ONE CONCFERENCE in which Hilary made the audacious statement about the role of the Iraqi government in the war. There was a division, but only on that one statement (there was clearly a separation in the crowd that day, because some were cheering at Hilary’s statement and some were doing the polar opposite – they were booing her.) Because she still hasn’t caught on, Swanson decided that O’ Rilley is talking about a division in the Democratic party in general, when O’ Rilley is still referring to the disenchantment in the crowd that once day and only on that once statement.

Summary – Swanson was thinking way too big picture the entire time. She was probably stressed or embarrassed about being on National TV, causing her to misinterpret was Bill was referring to.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Defining a human

Every person within humanity can be distinguished and classified by several *relatively* indicative (but nonetheless non-unique) signs, but the truley 100% unique indicator that I find the most appealing is the ability to think abstractly. Instead of defining this term itself, I'll give you a few examples of abstract thinking. One is introspection. Humans alone are capable of introspection, which is essentially the physiological process of self reflection and examining one thoughts and feelings. Regardless of whether we can visibly notice this quality in a person, or it is extremely inconspicuous, all humans are introspective at most points in their life, and this is, as I said before, an entirely unique quality in our species. No other species examines their thoughts. Anyway, even the select individuals within our species that are considered different for one reason or another can be identified by this, if prompted correctly. Some other abstract process we demonstrate very uniquely to our species are self awareness/consciousness. However, these tie in closely with introspection. To clarify on their definitions, though, self awareness is simply our cognizance that we exist, and consciousness is more or less the same thing (I just threw in the word because it might clarify to you more what I'm talking about exactly). This is also unique to all humans and identifies them easily.

It is my duty to note, however, that as I was writing this, I realized that babies might not demonstrate some of these qualities, and after looking that up, I was right. To explicitly label a baby (under the age of 2, specifically) as human would be somewhat harder, then, in my opinion.

There are a few other thing relatively unique to our species, but not everybody shares these qualities. For example, not every human possesses the capabilities to construct complex grammatical sentences using our upper level and highly developed form of communication, or to speak with the aforementioned language, for that matter. Additionally, not everyone is part of the complex human social networks that are so evident to us. Because these qualities are exhibited in either a large number of other species or a minority of species that are decidedly non-human, they cannot be used as crystal clear, lucid signs of the humanness of an animal - although some signs can give us 99% assurance that an individual is human.

So there you go - my opinion is that humans, ALL humans (except babies under the age of two) can be identified, whether it is a difficult process or not, by determining if they have a sense of introspection, self awareness, and consciousness (all under the umbrella of abstract thought). How once can check for the existence of such abstract thought processes is another issue entirely.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Understanding p2p

Recently, I had a small little discussion with a friend over what exactly defines the p2p technology. He thought that it uses the client's LAN when possible to speed up connections. (Specifically in this case, we were talking about a p2p extension for Firefox, AllPeers)
ME: However....AllPeers doesn't use the host computer 's local LAN to transfer files - it uses the Internet to connect to a remote AllPeers session (as far as I know). Therefore I could simply set up an AllPeers share on my computer with the Tournament demo in it. I'll do that, keep Firefox running, go to school, and then we can use your Firefox w/ AllPeers to connect to my home computer and download it that way.

Of course you could do the exact same thing with your personal home computer. It's just a matter of convenience and preference.

HIM: What is the point of p2p if it has to go through something else?

ME: You're right in saying that p2p doesn't "go through something else" - however, you're wrong in saying it would use the school's LAN to achieve this. You need to understand some basic p2p theory first to understand what it's actually going to end up doing. (By the way I recommend reading all of this - I worked hard on it.. lol)

The only two reasons to use p2p are that (1) it allows you to initiate a direct connection between client to client, thusly eliminating the need for a mediating central server and (2) it distributes the clients resources (bandwidth, etc) to each other equally.

This is in juxtaposition to the client-server model in which everyone downloads from one main server (similar concept to the Boyd drop boxes and shared drives in general). This main server gets considerably drained as more people access it, decreasing download speeds for the individual.

P2P solves this problem under optimal conditions and is in those cases faster that the client-server model. However, we need to define optimal conditions. They are, simply put, a relatively speedy Internet connection, high bandwidth, and (most importantly) a relatively sizable number of clients that are connected at the same time to the p2p network. The number of clients is so important because each one serves as a node to both distribute already existent resources (like bandwidth, storage space, and computing power) and to add their OWN bandwidth, storage space, and computing power resources.

Let’s create a scenario - Let’s say that there are only two people sharing resources on a p2p network. The speeds will undoubtedly be slower than a traditional client-server setup in this instance because the two computers are probably average home computers using their relatively small, restrictive, and slow RoadRunner internet bandwidth. They are sharing very little bandwidth and computing powers between themselves. (I know that from experience), in comparison to simpy connecting to a server that in all likelihood will probably have a T3 (or whatever the major Interent connection is) connection that is routing incredible amounts of bandwidth to it for the public to access and utilize.

Of course if the number of people in the theoretical p2p network I made up increases, then its overall power in comparison begins to completely own.

So the problem(s) at school are that when we use AllPeers, we are distributing the school's bandwidth to *each other*, essentially negating any speed benefits of a p2p network. We are still using the Internet to do this because AllPeers was designed for non-Intranet file sharing and it doesn't know how to interface with a nearby Local Area Network/Intranet. (put more simply, AllPeers has no idea that we are in a LAN config at school - for all it knows, the computer next to you in the CompSci lab is located in China.) Logically, why would AllPeers use the LAN to do sharing? That would defeat the purpose. If you already have a LAN, you essentially have one major part of a p2p network set up already between all the computers in the network. Think about shared network folders in Windows. Machine to machine file transfer. LAN. Partly p2p.

If AllPeers used the LAN, it'd be exactly the same as about a thousand other programs out there, including Microsoft's built in networking tools and capabilities themselves.

We can still do it your way but I guarantee you it will not be any faster that your traditional downloads and it definitely won't use the school's LAN. It's just a convenient way to set up a private temporary network that uses the Internet to gather people in a p2p pool of clients. But in our case, two people isn't going to make any download speeds very fast.

Monday, April 23, 2007

acroread expr syntax error (Adobe Reader for Linux)

Solution is here.

But basically, you comment out the appropriate lines using the # operator in the acroread startup script (usually located in /usr/bin/). Here are the modifications.

418# echo $mfile| sed 's/libgtk-x11-\([0-9]*\)\([0-9]\)00.\([0-9]*\)\|\(.*\)/\1\2\3/g'
419 echo $mfile| sed 's/libgtk-x11-\([0-9]*\)\([0-9]*\)00.\([0-9]*\)\|\(.*\)/\1\2\3/g'

644# MIN_GTK_VERSION="240"
645 MIN_GTK_VERSION="2040"

Back to Linux

Not going into detail why...

Thursday, February 15, 2007

XP versus Linux... why I chose Windows XP

I hate to say this, but I'm going to be using Windows XP for a while. There are several reasons for this. I've switched between both XP and Fedora for weeks, using both for about a week at a time. However, Windows XP has sort of come on top after these daily test runs. Essentially, I can be equally productive in both environments. For the most part, I can get the same results/products out of open source software alternatives on Linux as I would using a mix of proprietary and open source applications in a Windows environment. However, there are a few minor annoyances in Linux that make it, overall, *slightly* less appealing than Windows XP. It's the small things that kill - getting some Windows apps to run correctly, window focus stealing problems, printer annoyances, etc (the list literally goes on and on). A prime example of some of the factors that are the causation of this lesser appeal would have to be the eight plus hours I spent on a Saturday to find a way to print to my printer from Fedora Core. Sadly enough, it was just a cheesy workaround I was using - Canon doesn't support Linux (basically I was sending the file to a shared network folder to be printed by Adobe). In terms of window focus stealing, I spent nearly an hour just trying to determine why a particular application kept losing focus when I switched back to it. Even after changing some settings, the focus was flakey. In Windows XP, window focusing isn't even a second thought - it just works automatically without the pain of configuring KDE to run a list of windows specific settings based on the windows title/name or the process name. These are just two fine examples of the growing pains that you experience daily when using Linux.

Windows application support is not exactly up to par either – although this one is hard to blame on Linux at all. In fact, it’s not Linux’s fault period. CrossOver office simply couldn’t effectively run some of my mission critical Windows applications when I needed them most. (It was an audio editor, GoldWave, by the way – Audacity simply couldn’t meet my needs). Little annoyances in Microsoft Word 2003 also ticked me off – why couldn’t I import an AVI movie to display in a PowerPoint, or why wouldn’t I simply access the clip gallery? On top of this, certain things I use frequently under Windows (aka the .NET framework and the free version of Visual Studio, Visual C# Express) simply don't run on Linux and had to be run on a processor emulator running a copy of XP. This is entirely feasible (I was running a brand new copy of XP in VMWare while I was using Linux), but it is still somewhat annoying to open this virtual machine every time I wanted to use such an app. It was also sluggish of course. All it did was add around 50 seconds to my wait time to use a critical application, whereas in Windows, instantaneousness would have been feasible. Mono does a half decent job for .NET support, but nowhere have I found the 100% compatibility and feature rich IDE’s associated with the wonderful Visual C# Express in Windows XP.

Once again, don’t get me wrong – Linux is amazing in the sense that it can emulate the Windows kernel like this with Wine or CXOffice, but the applications support is just not completely there yet. Unfortunately that some really good software is written in Windows native languages. Linux is literally crippled in his sense.

The security advantages of Linux are also technically negated when you think about it. If, while in Windows, you don't install random applications from random websites, and you use a stable, bug/hole/breach free web browser (aka Firefox), the chances of you getting a virus or any form of malware are slim. Take it from me - I've use Windows for many years without problems - after I got Firefox and become more restrictive on downloads. You simply have to be careful and take precautionary measures with your data. Basically, downloading only trusted applications, using multiple malware scanners, and having an inbound/outbound firewall basically should do the trick. Sure, Linux is secure all by itself with little to no effort – but so is Windows with minimal effort and prodding.

Ultimately, I think Linux is destined to be abolished to the file/web servers realm of computing unless a drastic change in commercial support for the free operating system comes rapidly. Honestly, if all the hardware and software vendors supported Linux generally, it would become an extremely viable option to me and to the general populace. Linux is simply a generally superior operating system in general crippled by software/hardware incompatibilities and minor bugs and annoyances that add up to a mess of trouble. Another option, of course, is if someone could develop an extremely fast process emulator that runs a legal copy of Windows XP as its primary virtual machine, and the Windows apps in this install are run “natively” in Linux as actual applications that can use the native Linux file system, etc.

So my final determination on Linux is that a few small, trivial, non essential things keep it from being my desktop of choice. Don't get me wrong - I'm not deleting it off my hard drive just yet. When Windows XP becomes way too slow or unsupported for me soon enough, this computer could be made fairly decent with my Fedora install. Also, if Windows decided to poop out on me anytime soon (somewhat unlikely, actually)

Despite this, imagine if I was too poor to afford Windows XP or it simply wasn't feasible to do so. Linux would be absolutely amazing. Obviously, you can save some money by not having Windows XP installed by default on your barebones/custom built machine. If Windows XP is simply not an option for whatever reason, Linux absolutely becomes a viable, free alternative.

Overall, though, I’m glad I’ve has the experience with Linux that might give me the edge someday. I love the open source movement and think it is absolutely amazing in many aspects (that explains why I've been through countless Live CD's and HD installs ... including SuSE, Fedora, and Ubuntu). It's amazing that people have made a very much viable Windows alternative for free – it still completely blows my mind. Linux has made leaps and bounds from the console based days.

Thanks for listening. Any comments are appreciated.