Thursday, September 27, 2007

*snicker*

From the land of ill thought out domain names (intentional?). While looking into one of the many Internet attacks against my organization, I came across this server hosting company in Denmark:
http://www.balsax-it.com/

'U.S. education system is lacking'

So says the U.S. Chamber's Institute for a Competitive Workforce.
Those who deal with what is often the end result of the U.S. education system—the business community—feel that it is lacking. In a 2006 study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Statistics and Research Center, 53 percent of business organizations felt that the current school curriculum did not adequately prepare students for college and the work force.

The business community made several suggestions, the first of which is that new programs and school planning concepts be in order. Half felt that the school year should be longer, and more than one-third (38 percent) felt that it should be year round. Almost all argued that more frequent assessments should take place on students to find trouble areas.
I'm always one to pile on to the faults of U.S. public education, but I'm tempted to think that some of it's faults might have more to do with the product they have to work with, rather than educational processes themselves. American Educrats certainly make a bad situation worse, but I don't know how much better U.S. public education would be under the guide of those with the best of skills and intentions.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Puppy Love

And yes, that is the bottom step on my deck...

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Racial Groan

I'm not familiar with this 'Jena 6' case, but I'd imagine that if black people held the same tolerance level for the poor behavior within their own community that they do for every real or imagined slight, that there'd be fewer of them in jail.

The fact that, apparently, several black youths skipped out on their education so that they could partake in this idiocy is, well, unsurprising.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Off My Desktop

Here's a couple of old, Japan related pics that have been rotting on my desktop that I figured I should get around to posting. The first is an image taken from one of those online retailers that's based in Japan, but sells stuff in the states (solly, lost the link):

I figure if you're going to pay someone to make a piece of art you'd at least do a Google search to make sure you have the right thing; but of course then it would be without any charm, like the next picture that has that certain 'train wreck' appeal:

And lastly, I originally grabbed this picture because of the Mac store in the background (believe it or not), but the shot is a nice microcosm of urban Japanese culture.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Two Strikes for M$

Microsoft was recently fined over 600 million dollars by the EU for monopolistic behaviors. The first part of this ruling is a joke of lawsuit where Real (of Realplayer/Realmedia fame) sued MS because Real found a way to make a media application that's worse than Microsoft Mediaplayer. For whatever reason, the EU saw fit to use the power of its bureaucracy to beat up one American company (Microsoft) for the benefit of another (Real). The second part of the ruling is more murky. On this portion the EU ruled that Microsoft is using their monopoly in the desktop market to corner the market on the workgroup type servers, an area once dominated by Novell.

While I have no love of the EU, this is almost certainly the case. In their defense, Microsoft has said that if it is forced to share its communication protocols with all forms of untrustworthy organizations that it will be a hey-day for virus writers. There's a kernel of truth to this, but it's really more marketing cover than anything else (Linux has their own version of these protocols and they're a constant source of patching due to security issues).

Still, it's not hard to think that the Europeans are going after Microsoft because they hate American business success in IT. Check out this quote and see if you notice a pattern:
[The ruling] also gives EU Competition Commission Neelie Kroes a green light to pursue other antitrust cases and complaints involving Microsoft [American], Intel [American], Qualcomm [American] and Rambus [and well lookie here, American], and to issue draft new antitrust guidelines that were put on ice pending the ruling.
Long and short? The EU is probably right, but I still hate them and wish them ill.

Microsoft was also recently dealt a blow when it tried to establish it's Office document format as an international standard. I initially thought this was more of the same anti-US hokum, but the voting broke out weird with, for example, consortiums in Germany voting in favor of making it a standard and those in Japan voting against. Microsoft was seeking this approval so that it's Office products would be certified as holding to open, international standards, thus making it a viable option for those organizations that don’t want to get stuck on the Microsoft upgrade treadmill. Needless to say, this blog post set me straight (it’s really techie and written by a non-native English speaker):
We have a case of poor engineering [in Microsoft’s creation of the ‘standard’], creating unnecessary problems for others to worry about.
...
Microsoft strategy itself is to provide as little information as possible about the huge impedance mismatch between ECMA 376 [Microsoft’s open draft of the ‘standard’ that they wanted approved] and the actual implementation. Expect ECMA 376 to evolve only marginally, while Office 2007 next version will come with plenty more of Microsoft proprietary layers, especially those integrating the Microsoft Office suite with Windows (on the client), more undocumented integration points between Microsoft Office, Windows and Sharepoint (on the server), more undocumented client-server protocols (between the Microsoft Office client, and servers running Microsoft server software).
Sounds like Microsoft's relationship to Java where they wrote to the standards (which in that case were real standards), but then wrote their own 'extensions' which only happened to work on Microsoft's platforms.

I don't know. I'm not whipping out the world's smallest violin for Microsoft, but I'm not playing anything large either.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

KimChi Thought

While eating some kimchi at work a coworker stopped by with a question: "Are you eating cabbage or something? I just want to make sure a toilet isn't backing up somewhere."

yes, and thanks :)

Saturday, September 08, 2007

H-1Blues

Proving yet again that Microsoft thinks that arrogance is a viable marketing strategy, they're crowing about taking U.S. jobs to a foriegn country because they don't like the laws in this one. From here:
Fed up with U.S. immigration hurdles, Microsoft announced July 5 plans to open a software development center in Vancouver, British Columbia, that it hopes will "be home to software developers from around the world."
...
In a press release, Microsoft did not mince words about how the new facility will allow "the company to recruit and retain highly skills people affected by immigration issue in the U.S.," a move that seems to send a clear message to the senators who let the H-1B increase slip through employers' fingers.
Maybe if the senators didn't try importing the whole third world on the same bill, the H-1B provisions would have fared better. On the whole I have torn feelings on H-1B. I don't care for the fact that it depresses the wages for skilled U.S. workers (especially for IT workers like yours truly); however, I like the idea of looting the smart people from countries that the U.S. would otherwise have to compete with. As well, an influx of East Indian immigrants (who may, or may not have come over on an H1-B visa) have kept the Cleveland suburb in which I live from going the way of other old immigrant neighborhoods in the area and turning into a slum full of refugees from the Cleveland city proper.

I'll note though, that big corporatations complaining about their inability to import cheap(er) labor puts the stink of corporate welfare onto H-1B, as well as other immigration programs, such as the following. From here:
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will raise application fees an average of 66 percent. The cost to become a legal permanent resident, known as a green-card holder, will jump from $180 to $1,450.

A Painesville group that advocates for Hispanic migrant workers predicted the staggering jump will be a devastating blow to workers and the area's farm economy.

"It is only going to drive farm workers deeper into poverty," said Veronica Dahlberg, director of the Hispanic Organizations of Lake and Ashtabula Counties. "Farm workers are notoriously underpaid."

Many of the region's small produce farms and nurseries depend on foreigners who get paid by how much they pick. A worker earns about $10,000 annually, said Dahlberg. "They get paid by the bucket," she said, estimating that at 45 cents a bucket of tomatoes, a worker would have to pick 2,067 buckets -- or 66,000 pounds of tomatoes -- to pay the new green-card fee.
Here's an idea, if the nursery loves so much to depress the wages of low skilled, low wage Americans, why don't they pay for the green card fee?

More Linux Fun

I attempted to install Xubuntu on a PC of mine and received an odd error. Needless to say unless Linux stops requiring posts like this just to install the operating system, it shall always be a bit player. Sample:
seems /dev/hd drives have become /dev/sd drives cause of new lbata as /dev/clast says above. you should really switch to UUID's for your drives though
Gee, thanks!
Some other suggestions put forward are to use one of the several different Linux distros out there instead; but my experience has been that all you accomplish after several hours (at least) of downloading is swapping one problem for another.

For instance, my Fedora install at work has the clock stop on the PC (thus locking it up) if you use the canned install routines. The only work around is that I have to (*ugh*) build my Linux kernel, which is as much as it sounds like.

I guess that's why every year for the past ten years someone writes an article to the effect of 'Linux, finally ready for prime time!'. Unfortunately it looks like Linux will always be the OS of tomorrow.

Oye, why is Microsoft the only ones who can write an general use OS?