Saturday, August 27, 2011

Myers-Briggs says that I'm a "Trustee"

I'm taking some on-line FEMA courses as part of my Amateur Radio Emergency Service training. The course I'm doing presently recommended taking an on-line test, the Myers-Briggs personality Type indicator test. It categorizes people into 16 different personality types, and it's often used by corporations and other groups to determine the best job positions to put various personality types into.

The link the FEMA course gave for the free test is no longer valid. The test is available on several sites as a service you pay for, with follow-up from a qualified professional to help you interpret the results. Prices range from $59.00 to over $200.00. More than I'm willing to pay.

I did however find a free site that offers a test they claim is based on the Meyers-Briggs concepts. Since it's free, I tried it out. Below is the result. It say's that I'm the "Trustee" type:

ISTJ - "Trustee". Decisiveness in practical affairs. Guardian of time- honored institutions. Dependable. 11.6% of total population.
Take Free Jung Personality Test
Personality Test by

The test results offers other details too. And there are many sites that discuss the different personality types. In fact, each personality type even has it's own Wikipedia page. For example, ISTJ (the Trustee). ISTJ is also sometimes described as the Inspector, which is one of the sub-groups of David Keirsey's Guardian Temperament category.

If you take the Free Jung Personality Test, you will be asked to state your gender, then you will be given 48 questions with sliding scale answers.

One thing I found especially interesting was, the advice it gave me regarding jobs/careers for my personality type:

favored careers:

data analyst, scientist, researcher, engineer, financial planner, statistician, office worker, government employee, lab technician, nuclear engineer, office manager, biomedical engineer, account manager, ceo, investment banker, analyst, academic, systems analyst, pharmacy technician, network admin, genetics researcher, research assistant, strategist

disfavored careers:

entertainer, artist, filmmaker, musician, actor, fashion desinger, singer, music journalist, comedian, massage therapist, photographer, dj, model, author, bartender, painter, school counselor

Nearly all the career testing I've done in the past has said I should focus on jobs and careers in the Creative Arts, more than Sciences/Business. This seems to be saying almost the complete opposite.

It's funny, but I've always been attracted to both the Arts AND the Sciences, but never felt comfortable enough to try to make a career out of anything artistic, despite what other tests have said. Much of this test explains why.

I've read that the "real" Meyers-Briggs test is longer, and the results more complete, taking into account more subtleties, which is why they recommend a trained counselor to help you interpret and use the results.

I wish I had taken the test when I was a highschool freshman. I could possibly have used it to plan my educational choices better. Oh well. It's interesting anyway.

Here is a good introduction about it:

Free On-line Myers Briggs Personality Tests
[...] Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a personality test designed to assist a person in identifying some significant personal preferences.

The Indicator is frequently used in the areas of pedagogy, group dynamics, employee training, leadership training, marriage counseling, and personal development.

The Indicator measures four bipolar factors, Intraversion/Extraversion, Thinking/Feeling, Intuition/Sensing, and Judging/Perceiving, but these names don’t exactly mean what we commonly understand when saying somebody is “extroverted” or “introverted”. Have a look at their meaning below.

As a test result you will get a 4 letter personality type and you can then read up on the description of this specific type as well as typical careers, how it relates to family/relationships and get suggestions for personal growth. And there are even tests for assessing children’s type. [...]

Follow the link for more details.

For even more details, try


Super 8 filmmakers of the '70's. I was one!

I recently saw the Sci-Fi flick, "Super 8". Set in 1979, it's about a group of kids who are making a Super-8mm movie, when a train wreck in their town results in the escape of a captured alien being transported by the Air Force.

The Sci-Fi aspects of the story were rather "Spielbergesque"; it was ok, made for an entertaining movie. But the Super-8 part of it was more interesting to me; it evoked a lot of nostalgia.

I was in high school in 1979. I used to make 8mm films. And like one of the boy characters in the movie, Charles, I used to read Super-8-Filmaker magazine, and wanted to make a film to enter into a film contest. Charles had his friends helping him with makeup, costumes, special effects, models, etc. I used to do all of those things, too. It really brought back a lot of memories.

In high school I attempted to make a Super-8 sound film, by borrowing a sound movie camera from the school library. I eagerly developed the film, but when I projected my first sound film... there was no sound. Something was wrong with the camera, and it had to be sent away to be serviced. I never saw it again. Thus, I never made my sound film to enter into a contest.

If that camera had worked, would it have launched my budding career as a filmmaker? Would I now be a Steven Spielberg or a J.J. Abrams, having started my career in Super 8 films like so many have done? ;-)

Backyard Auteurs
In 2003, James Cameron called a man named Lenny Lipton to thank him for writing the book that inspired him to become a filmmaker. Back in 1975, Lipton had published The Super 8 Book, a how-to guide for using super 8, the inexpensive film stock that allowed a generation of novice filmmakers to make their first motion pictures. Lipton was grateful for the call, if not surprised by it. "I hear that all the time," he told me. Joel Silver, the producer of The Matrix and Die Hard also got in touch recently to express his gratitude. A ring from J.J. Abrams, whose film Super 8 premieres Friday, can't be far off.

Introduced by Kodak in 1965, super 8 was the cheapest film around—each roll was about $5, and worked on cameras that started for under $30. Many families purchased super 8 cameras to document birthday parties and barbecues, but the handheld cameras were light enough for a child to use, and soon kids were out in the backyard, playing auteur.

According to Rhonda Vigeant, the director of marketing for Pro8mm, a processing, scanning, repair, and sales business in Burbank, Calif., a slew of today's most successful filmmakers got their start shooting on super 8 film. "We know that because we've transferred all their original movies," Vigeant says conspiratorially, referring to the process of digitizing old film. She's says she's seen super 8 work by Ron Howard, Steven Soderbergh, Sam Raimi, Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, and, of course, J.J. Abrams.


For filmmakers growing up in the '70s and '80s, super 8 was a gateway drug into a lifetime of addiction. Steven Soderbergh's super 8 fixation began as a distraction from a dull animation course his father enrolled him in at age 13. "I quickly gravitated toward grabbing the Nizo [a German-made super 8 camera] and shooting live action," he recalled in Outsider Features: American Independent Films of the 1980s. Growing up in Houston, Wes Anderson used his two brothers as stars and paper boxes as sets in his super 8 films. Chris Nolan got the directing itch as soon as he picked up his father's super 8 camera at age 7. Tim Burton "made models, fooled around with them and burned them and filmed them," on super 8.

Did the medium leave its mark on the work of these directors? The low cost of super 8 encouraged experimentation. "You didn't have to worry about experimenting with it. There was this sense of being able to be playful and experimental and try things out," recalls Claude Kerven, co-chair of the filmmaking program at the New York Film Academy. At the same time, the short length of each roll forced amateurs to frame scenes with calculation and immediacy: They could only shoot for about two and a half minutes per roll. Kerven also noted that the lightweight nature of super 8 equipment allowed its users to incorporate motion into their work. "It kind of freed you a little bit from the idea that everything had to be so solid and locked down [on a tripod]," he says. "It really encouraged you to learn how to move the camera in creative ways."

In filmmaker John Russo's book Making Movies: The Inside Guide to Independent Movie Production, Sam Raimi recommends all young filmmakers start making movies in super-8. "You have all the same basic elements that are used in professional filmmaking, so it's a chance to refine your skills and techniques," Raimi says, noting that he made his first super 8 movies in high school. "You've got to write a script, deal with camera placement, movement, angles and lenses. The actors have to be directed and orchestrated in the same manner as in 35-milimeter filmmaking."

One of super 8's most important lessons came after the film was shot: The budding filmmaker would then have to mail it to Kodak for processing, which could take anywhere from four days to several weeks. Waiting to see the finished product required patience, a trait that isn't exactly encouraged by today's users of instantaneous-view digital technology. "The generation now is so different," explains Anderson. "Fewer people are shooting film because everyone wants it [developed] yesterday."

The sharp, digital images of today have rendered super 8 the picture of the past. Watching film shot in super 8—even if it was shot just last week—evokes nostalgia for the era when the film first appeared. The film is grainy and just a little bit out of focus. The colors look warm and faded—there's a spectrum of mellow tones. But Vigeant is quick to dispel the idea that super 8 is a medium of the past. She describes a robust contemporary market for the film: Pro8mm still works on more than 1,000 super 8 film projects a year for TV, music videos, and commercials. Celebrities like Christina Aguilera and Aaron Eckhart wanted their weddings filmed in super 8 because, Vigeant says, it gives the footage a retro look. Sen. John Kerry and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton used super 8 during their campaigns to establish warm, down-to-earth personas. Filmmakers attempting to fake a scene from the past often shoot in super 8. And young cinematographers, seeking to emulate the greats, may trade the sterility of digital for the messier, more hands-on format that their idols learned on.

"Super 8, in some ways, is having a comeback now," says Amos Poe, who teaches at New York University's film school. "I know my students at NYU love it. [...]

The article started off mentioning Lenny Lipton. He was a regular contributor to Super 8 Filmaker magazine, and I read his book, too. Very inspiring.

Interestingly enough, Lipton is now a leading authority on 3D movie technology. That's interesting, because I remember, back in the seventies, when he did an article about 3D film making for Super 8 Filmmaker Magazine:

There is a Super-8 blog that has a nice post about Lenny Lipton, past and present:

Catching up with Lenny Lipton - a Super 8 living legend.

But, back to us "Backyard Auteurs". I expect there were many of us film director "wannabes" in the '70's. But we certainly weren't all destined for Hollywood. I actually moved to California with the aim of going to film school, but didn't stick with it, for various reasons. But even I could see that:

A.) Hollywood is and INDUSTRY. It's not all about Art, or even talent; you have to be a good businessman too. Films there cost millions of dollars to make, and you have to have the confidence to sell yourself in that milieu, to convince others to INVEST in you and your ideas.

B.) Hollywood films are huge productions, and you are just one cog in the machine. Part of a team. You have to be good at schmoozing with people, and compromise a lot.

There is nothing wrong with any of that. But it's very competitive, and not a milieu that everyone can succeed in. I soon realized that I liked SMALL, INDEPENDENT filmmaking. On that scale, you can keep creative control, experiment, and do what you want. That's more where my interest and passion was. And sometimes I wish I had persevered with it, with super 8 or 16mm or video. But life pulled me in a lot of different directions, and filmmaking was not one of them.

Fast forward 30 years or so. Technology wise, a lot has changed. Super 8 as I knew it has gone, but it's still around, being used in different ways. And new technology has allowed a bridge between Super 8 and video, film and video. Independent filmmaking is now cheaper and easier than ever!

I would like to get into that again, on some level. Even if it's just making films I enjoy, and putting them on YouTube. I'd like to start by transferring my old 8mm films, and the ones my parents made, onto my computer's hard drive and editing them there. It would be fun and a good learning experience, and after that, who knows?

The first step for doing that would be finding a place to have my films transferred to miniDV tape, so I can copy it to my HD and edit it with my computer. As I explore affordable options for that, in a effort to find the best one, I may post about it on this blog.


Friday, August 19, 2011

Why 2010 was the "Year of the Linux Desktop"

This is probably the best argument I've read for it:

The Linux Desktop Came on Little Cat Feet
Somehow, some way, the year 2010 may have finally been the year of the Linux desktop -- but no one noticed. Maybe no one needed to. In 2010, smartphones got hot, and Android OS smartphones collectively overtook the iPhone in units sold. At the same time, Android tablets gained traction as popular alternatives to the iPad.

A subtle shift in the notion of what defines "desktop," and suddenly Linux emerges in anonymous glory -- leaving Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) playing the silly (but familiar and perhaps a bit dangerous) role of catch-up. Looking back, could 2010 really be the year when Linux, in the form of Android, became the desktop?

What is a desktop anyway?

A distinction may be necessary. While I may make a case that 2010 was the year of the Linux desktop, I realize the form factor is different, and it's a little new. But computers evolve, and the point -- that the Linux-based Android is a major player in the user-interface world -- is not lost or any less relevant. More important is that in smartphones, Linux trumps Windows. (More data to follow when next of kin have been notified.)

Naysayers may argue that Android as a desktop is a stretch but, really, what does define a desktop? In the first place, "desktop" has always been a muddy metaphor. Seriously, who puts "wallpaper" on a desktop? Distilled to its essence, the computer desktop is an infrastructure providing end-user computing. In that context, smartphones (iOS and Android based) capably provide just that, and in some ways more than traditional desktops do.

Android and Desktop computing

Traditional desktop computing let users do their banking online, make travel arrangements, play games, listen to music, and communicate with friends and family. Android does too, but with some obvious and some nuanced benefits. [...]

The article goes on to take a detailed look at those benefits. Read the whole thing and have a look at what Linux success looks like.

Also see:

Has "Wintel" been replaced by "Quadroid"?


Has "Wintel" been replaced by "Quadroid"?

A case can be made for it. First, the Wintel monopoly is dying off, ironically from it's own practices:

HP is Wintel's latest victim
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- For nearly three decades, personal computer makers thrived by building their PCs around two key ingredients: Intel chips and Microsoft Windows.

It's an unprecedented success streak in the fast-changing tech market, where new technologies displace old ones in an eyeblink. But now, it looks like the "Wintel" party is finally winding down.


"The tablet effect is real," HP CEO Leo Apotheker said Thursday on a conference call with analysts. "Consumers are changing how they use PCs."

In the new "post-PC" era, razor-thin profits are no longer attractive.

"The PC business only returns a few points of margin. HP is really good, and they only return 5%," said Martin Reynolds, analyst at Gartner. "Staying in the PC business is relatively risky. Who knows where these things will go over the next few years?"


"I think what we're seeing -- what HP's move is really about -- is the aftermath of the Wintel strategy, in which you give all the profits to Intel and Microsoft," said Carl Howe, analyst at Yankee Group.

While companies like HP and Dell are getting by with single-digit margins in their PC businesses, Microsoft (MSFT, Fortune 500) is the fourth-most profitable company in the Fortune 500. Intel (INTC, Fortune 500) is 14th.

"Guess what? That model is driving them all out of business," Howe continued. "It has made companies like Apple look really smart. Wintel is falling apart."

HP would follow IBM's exit of the PC market -- albeit seven years later.

IBM's move is looking more and more prescient: When it sold its iconic PC business to Lenovo in 2004, IBM (IBM, Fortune 500) said it believed the PC market was commoditizing. It didn't want to play in a market with so little upside.

Even Microsoft appreciates the changing tide. It's planning for the post-PC era by developing a new version of Windows for tablet PCs, running on mobile chips designed by British company ARM (ARMH). That's also why it's fighting so hard to make Windows Phone work: Microsoft realizes it can't afford to be left out of the computing platform of the future.

So if we're really witnessing the "final collapse of the Silicon Valley PC era," as Howe suggested, who's next to go? [...]

Read the whole thing to find out. But don't just look at who's next to go; consider also, perhaps more importantly, who's next to come, and why:

Android and Qualcomm are the new Wintel
NEW YORK ( -- Google's Android mobile operating system has been credited with saving struggling handset manufacturers, but it may ultimately be the thing that kills a number of them off.

Before Android came around, mobile devices typically had hardware integrated with custom operating software, which differentiated LG phones from Samsung phones from Motorola phones, and so on. No two devices from rival manufacturers were at all alike.

But now, for the first time ever in the wireless ecosystem, a standard platform is emerging: At least a dozen handset makers have brought to market more than 90 different smartphones that run Android, and more than three quarters of those handsets have Qualcomm chips embedded in them, according to a new study by consultancy PRTM.

The Qualcomm-Android standard, or "Quadroid" as PRTM calls it, is becoming a parallel to the Windows-Intel, or "Wintel," standard that developed in the 1990s.

Like with Wintel PCs, Quadroid devices' software and hardware is essentially a commodity -- they're very similar on every phone, making differentiation a difficult task. Form factor is still a battleground -- some people want keyboards, some don't -- but drop past the top-tier of the very newest devices and the distinctions are tiny. Kickstands, dual screens, very high resolution cameras and OLED touchscreens are among the features Quadroid smartphone makers are using to set themselves apart.

It was a problem that Wintel PC companies tried to solve -- mostly unsuccessfully -- with customizability (Dell), unique design (Alienware), and cow-print boxes (Gateway).

But Quadroid has an added wrinkle: Android is open source, meaning it's free for device manufacturers to use and manipulate. That makes the barrier to entry almost nil, opening the door to a number of no-name manufacturers to produce smartphones that compete with the big guys. Two years ago, no one had heard of HTC or Kyocera, LG had virtually no smartphone presence, and Motorola (MOT, Fortune 500) had been left for dead. Now they're at the industry's vanguard. [...]

So a whole bunch of new players have jumped in and are at the head of the new trends, where Microsoft and Intel have not been able to go... yet. They are rushing to catch up and cash in. Will they make it? Will the competition they face produce better products? And will it all end up again being just a few major companies dominating everything in the end? We shall see.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

HP is getting out of the computer business?


HP's strategic shift away from TouchPad; PCs, too?
If there's a notch on the technology timeline demarcating the PC and post-PC eras, we might have just crossed it.

Hewlett-Packard on Thursday effectively announced it was done with the personal computer, extending a crazy week in tech news that saw Google double down on mobile devices with its enormous bid for a Motorola division.

HP, a storied brand that was instrumental in expanding the PC industry, announced that its board had authorized exploring "strategic alternatives" for its computer division. That's corporate speak for a sale or spin-off.

The Palo Alto tech giant and the industry as a whole have seen a drop-off in laptop and desktop sales and margins, as consumers shift to tablets and smart phones.

And yet ... HP also announced plans to discontinue the phones and tablets based on the operating system it acquired through its now clearly ill-fated $1.2 billion purchase of Palm last year. That means it's pulling the plug on its highly promoted TouchPad tablet, less than two months after it hit the market.

The news underscores two critical points about the state of the technology industry:

First, we're rapidly moving into a world where consumer demand for mobile devices is outstripping that for PCs, dampening business prospects for the sector.

Think about it this way: HP, the largest PC manufacturer, a company whose Silicon Valley history predates the personal computer itself, is effectively saying there isn't enough upside to bother staying in the game.

"The increasing momentum of the media tablet market, led by the iPad, is creating a difficult environment for the PC industry," said Matthew Wilkins, principal analyst at research firm IHS iSuppli, in a recent report.

Second, even companies trying to embrace the post-PC world are struggling to get their arms around it as Apple crowds them out. A year and a half after the Cupertino company introduced its breakthrough iPad, not a single serious rival has emerged. The industry blog All Things D reported this week that Best Buy has sold only 25,000 HP TouchPads, less than 10 percent of the supply sitting in warehouses. That compares with more than 9 million iPads sold in the last quarter.

It seems even heavyweight contenders like HP can drop big dollars without making so much as a dent.

Consumer impact

For consumers, these trends are a mixed bag. They'll likely see falling prices for PCs, but it means yet another business has failed to gain strength in mobile computing. Less competition invariably means fewer options in the market and more pricing power for leaders like Apple. [...]

IBM has also gotten out of the hardware business, and is now focusing on software and services. Now HP. Who next... Dell?

I'd hate to see everything go "Apple", because Apple is IMO overpriced and overrated. And without healthy competition, it's likely to become even more so. I'd never want to be locked into their proprietary stuff. Thank goodness they are getting competition from Qualcomm/Android.

Also see: HP shakeup - buying Autonomy, dropping webOS
I think webOS was supposed to be HP's version of Linux. What a short life it had.

Just what IS an "X-Class" Solar Flare?

This is a pretty good explanation:

Solar Flares: What Does It Take to Be X-Class?
Solar flares are giant explosions on the sun that send energy, light and high speed particles into space. These flares are often associated with solar magnetic storms known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs). The number of solar flares increases approximately every 11 years, and the sun is currently moving towards another solar maximum, likely in 2013. That means more flares will be coming, some small and some big enough to send their radiation all the way to Earth.

The biggest flares are known as "X-class flares" based on a classification system that divides solar flares according to their strength. The smallest ones are A-class (near background levels), followed by B, C, M and X. Similar to the Richter scale for earthquakes, each letter represents a 10-fold increase in energy output. So an X is ten times an M and 100 times a C. Within each letter class there is a finer scale from 1 to 9.


Although X is the last letter, there are flares more than 10 times the power of an X1, so X-class flares can go higher than 9. The most powerful flare measured with modern methods was in 2003, during the last solar maximum, and it was so powerful that it overloaded the sensors measuring it. The sensors cut out at X28.

The biggest X-class flares are by far the largest explosions in the solar system and are awesome to watch. Loops tens of times the size of Earth leap up off the sun's surface when the sun's magnetic fields cross over each other and reconnect. In the biggest events, this reconnection process can produce as much energy as a billion hydrogen bombs.

If they're directed at Earth, such flares and associated CMEs can create long lasting radiation storms that can harm satellites, communications systems, and even ground-based technologies and power grids. X-class flares on December 5 and December 6, 2006, for example, triggered a CME that interfered with GPS signals being sent to ground-based receivers. [...]

Follow the link for more info about all the different classes of flares, and a video too.

Also see: TheTchijevsky Index of Mass Human Excitability

A sneak preview of our own future?

The London Riots? Lets hope not, although there are many uncomfortable parallels. Is it just a mater of degree at this point? See what you think:

Thomas Sowell, Social Degeneration
Someone at long last has had the courage to tell the plain, honest truth about race.

After mobs of young blacks rampaged through Philadelphia committing violence -- as similar mobs have rampaged through Chicago, Denver, Milwaukee and other places -- Philadelphia's black mayor, Michael A. Nutter, ordered a police crackdown and lashed out at the whole lifestyle of those who did such things.

"Pull up your pants and buy a belt 'cause no one wants to see your underwear or the crack of your butt," he said. "If you walk into somebody's office with your hair uncombed and a pick in the back, and your shoes untied, and your pants half down, tattoos up and down your arms and on your neck, and you wonder why somebody won't hire you? They don't hire you 'cause you look like you're crazy," the mayor said. He added: "You have damaged your own race."

While this might seem like it is just plain common sense, what Mayor Nutter said undermines a whole vision of the world that has brought fame, fortune and power to race hustlers in politics, the media and academia.


In the United States, despite the higher poverty level among blacks than among whites, the poverty rate among black married couples has been in single digits since 1994. The disparities within the black community are huge, both in behavior and in outcomes.

Nevertheless, the dogma persists that differences between groups can only be due to the way others treat them or to differences in the way others perceive them in "stereotypes."

All around the country, people in politics and the media have been tip-toeing around the fact that violent attacks by blacks on whites in public places are racially motivated, even when the attackers themselves use anti-white invective and mock the victims they leave lying on the streets bleeding.

This is not something to ignore or excuse. It is something to be stopped. Mayor Michael Nutter of Philadelphia seems to be the first to openly recognize this.

This needs to be done for the sake of both black and white Americans -- and even for the sake of the hoodlums. They have set out on a path that leads only downward for themselves.

Thomas Sowell, Social Degeneration Part 2
Although much of the media have their antennae out to pick up anything that might be construed as racism against blacks, they resolutely ignore even the most blatant racism by blacks against others.

That includes a pattern of violent attacks on whites in public places in Chicago, Denver, New York, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Kansas City, as well as blacks in schools beating up Asian classmates -- for years -- in New York and Philadelphia.

These attacks have been accompanied by explicitly racist statements by the attackers, so it is not a question of having to figure out what the motivation is. There has also been rioting and looting by these young hoodlums.

Yet blacks have no monopoly on these ugly and malicious episodes. Remarkably similar things are being done by lower-class whites in England. Anybody reading "Life at the Bottom" by Theodore Dalrymple will recognize the same barbaric and self-destructive patterns among people with the same attitudes, even though their skin color is different.

Anyone reading today's headline stories about young hoodlums turning the streets of London into scenes of shattered and burning chaos, complete with violence, will discover the down side of the brotherhood of man.

While the history and the races are different, what is the same in both countries are the social policies and social attitudes long promoted by the intelligentsia and welfare state politicians.

A recent study in England found 352,000 households in which nobody had ever worked. Moreover, two-thirds of the adults in those households said that they didn't want to work. As in America, such people feel both "entitled" and aggrieved.

In both countries, those who have achieved less have been taught by the educational system, by the media and by politicians on the left that they have a grievance against those who have achieved more. As in the United States, they feel a fierce sense of resentment against strangers who have done nothing to them, and lash out violently against those strangers.

During the riots, looting and violence in England, a young woman was quoted as saying that this showed "the rich" and the police that "we can do whatever we want." Among the things done during these riots was forcing apparently prosperous looking people to strip naked in the streets. [...]

Thomas Sowell, Social Degeneration: Part 3
[...] With all the damage that was done by these rioters, both to cities and to the whole fabric of British society, it is very unlikely that most of the people who were arrested will be sentenced to jail. Only 7 percent of people convicted of crime in England are actually put behind bars.

"Alternatives to incarceration" are in vogue among the politically correct elites in England, just as in the United States. But in Britain those elites have had much more clout for a much longer time. And they have done much more damage.

Nevertheless, our own politically correct elites are pointing us in the same direction. A headline in the New York Times shows the same politically correct mindset in the United States: "London Riots Put Spotlight on Troubled, Unemployed Youths in Britain." There is not a speck of evidence that the rioters and looters are troubled -- unless you engage in circular reasoning and say that they must have been troubled to do the things they did.

In reality, like other rioters on both sides of the Atlantic they are often exultant in their violence and happy to be returning home with stolen designer clothes and upscale electronic devices.

In both England and in the United States, whole generations have been fed a steady diet of grievances and resentment against society, and especially against others who are more prosperous than they are. They get this in their schools, on television, on campuses and in the movies. Nothing is their own fault. It is all "society's" fault. [...]

Read'em all. We are often told by the elites, that we need to learn from other countries how to do things better. Sowell ends up saying that in this case, perhaps we need to learn what NOT to do, to learn from their mistakes.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Super 8 Film and High Definition Video

The two would seem to have nothing in common. But recently, when I was looking into options for having some of my Super 8 movies transferred to video, I came across this page that makes a strong case for having Super 8 films transferred into High Definition video format. Among other things, you can actually see more of the original film frame when your transfer to High Definition:

Standard Definition or High Definition
[...] But whether you transfer to either High Definition or Standard Definition, there are some other things to consider. The aspect ratio, that is the "shape", of HD and SD is totally different. SD is 4:3, while HD is 16:9 in proportion. But home movies have a totally different "shape" and it fits neither SD nor HD ideally. And here's the bigger surprise: Even if you project the original film in your living room using Grandpa's old Brownie projector, you STILL don't have a perfect "match" for the original film frame!

As seen in example "A", there is considerable cut-off due to the undersized gate on the movie projector. This made production of the projector easier but at the sacrifice of much detail that exists on the outer edges but never seen. Example "B" shows how much more is revealed in an enlarged gate 4:3 transfer to Standard Definition video. [...]

And that's just one of several things to consider. Check out their "B" and "D" options, and other things they have to say about SD vs HD. Follow the link, I would say this is a MUST READ if you are considering having your films transferred to video or archived to a digital format.

And be sure and visit the MovieStuff homepage, and explore their website. It's easy to navigate, and very informative.

Is crime easy and risk-free in Great Britain?

So it might seem. This explains a lot:

Crime Is Easy
Maybe there is a simple explanation for the riots. In Great-Britain crime is easy and almost risk-free.

In his startling book ‘A Land fit for Criminals’ insider David Fraser demonstrates it with figures and facts.

Detection rate of crimes is 5 per cent. Of these cases only 2 per cent are processed in court. Only a mere 0.3 per cent of all crimes result in prison sentence. Offenders deem themselves untouchable. Fines are seldom paid. In 2002 it was reported that tens of millions of pounds in unpaid fines were written off.

Even persistent offenders with a long record of previous convictions and a complete lack of motivation to reform are granted probation and put back in the community.

The evidence shows that for them this means business as usual. The reconviction rate for all male offenders in 61 per cent; for offenders given community service 67 per cent.

‘Offenders are not corrupted by prison but by the unchallenged success of their criminality’, concludes Fraser, who served in the National Probation Service for twenty-six years, and was an analyst with the National Criminal Intelligence Service.

He blames the criminal justice system for putting consideration for the criminal first and the safety of the public second: ‘The bizarre fact is that all governments since the sixties have gone out of their way to introduce policies that have encouraged criminals to become more criminal. Numerous obstacles have been placed in the way of finding, arresting and convincing them.’ [...]

If you have read this far, then you've already read more than half the article. But read the rest, it's just as shocking.

Also see:  Can political correctness destroy a nation?

Related Links:

Political Correctness — The Revenge of Marxism

Did Tony Blair advance a "Culture of Lies"?

What is the Nature of Multiculturalism?

Our Culture, What’s Left Of It

About British gun laws:

England and Gun Control --- Moral Decline of an Empire


Britain’s Gun-Control Folly

Is Google's Android OS the "Linux Desktop" that will challenge Microsoft?

There is a case to be made for it:

Android the real Linux desktop threat to Windows
[...] Aside from being an open source Linux distribution, which is already starting to gain traction in the mobile phones space, Android has the backing of Google. And as Microsoft well knows Google is no Canonical, Novell or Red Hat. Google is a heavyweight - it's a powerful company with considerable resources.


From most accounts and my own experience Android is intuitive and user friendly on mobile hardware such as the HTC Dream. However, there is no doubt that Android compared to full blown operating systems like Windows, Mac OSX or Ubuntu Linux is still very much a lightweight.

It is also true, however, that the trend of desktop computing is toward mobility - notebooks and netbooks. In the era of hotspots and ubiquitous Internet, consumers and business users alike want something they can take on the road with them.

The trend to netbooks and low-power consumption mobile devices favours lightweight operating systems. Users - particularly sub-notebook users - want to do much if not most of their work in the cloud. They may not be able to do everything, such as watch DVDs or play games, but they can still accomplish most of what's required to run their part of the business they work in.

Likening Android to Windows is like comparing Google Apps to Microsoft Office - it's not quite there yet. Steve Ballmer is wrong when he says Google Docs can't even do a footnote, but his point that Microsoft Word is much more powerful is well taken - for now. However, for many, myself included, Google Docs, Calendar and Gmail are more than good enough.

The critical success factors behind operating systems are device drivers and applications. More than anything else, this has been the downfall of Ubuntu and the other Linux distribution hopefuls.

Starting from the mobile phones environment and working upward, Android, backed by Google, is likely to succeed where other Linux distributions have failed. It is likely to garner support from both device manufacturers and applications vendors.

It's early days and there's a long way to go but if a Linux desktop is ever to make an impact in the mainstream, then it is likely to be Android. Ironically, by the time it takes the mantle of market leader from Microsoft, the cloud may well have made the desktop a thing of the past.

It makes some good points. But the "cloud" may not be embraced by everyone, for everything; it's a concept that's still evolving.

One of the comments left at the end of the article made a few good points on that:

[...] As for netbooks, they are such incapable pieces of hardware that the only way to get any real work done on any of them is to use them as dumb terminals, or slow-witted terminals, for the cloud. But, as Richard Stallman, one of the founding fathers of the open-source movement, has railed about, the cloud surrenders control to a corporate third party and promises a vassal-ship to corporate authority that will be, if anything, more subjugating than the rein of Microsoft has wrought. The cloud not only presents problems of reliability; it also will, I think, prove in many cases to be more expensive than shrink-wrapped software, and it gives a corporation, almost certainly a powerful one like Google or Amazon, possession and control of your data and your applications and, through the use of proprietary APIs, will lock your data and applications to that corporation.

Servers and networks get more expensive and more prone to failure as they scale and the intensity of use increases, and, thus, comes a dramatic increase the price of the service. And because the could will consists at best of an oligopoly of few corporations and because users' data and apps will be locked to that corporation's particular cloud, i.e., network, servers, and OS, users, who foolishly surrender their independence to the some corporation's cloud, will be able to do nothing but pay the price that their could vendor demands. And for that king's ransom, users will get a cloud that becomes less reliable as it becomes more popular.

But the main tenor of Stallman's criticism, which is related to oligopolistic control, is that once your rely on a cloud for your data and applications, you're owned. As tough as it is or is perceived to be to switch from Windows to OS X, Unix, or Linux, that is nothing compared to trying switch when all your data and your business critical apps are in a cloud. When you are completely in the cloud, you don't have anything left to switch. And for consumers, they may be spared paying the full costs of cloud computing, but they will pay instead with their personal information and by ceding the right to access them with advertisements 24/7, I am with Dr. Stallman: This rush towards cloud-computing is foolishness and the greatest hidden form of slavery to be foisted on users of computers since, well, Windows.

If the cloud is what netbooks shall bring, I suggest that we all take a pass.

The cloud could have some uses, but I doubt it will be all things to all people. There will always be people who, quite sensibly IMO, want direct access to and control of their own data, without relying on a 3rd party's infrastructure to provide that access and control.

Also see:

Google: Android is “the Linux Desktop Dream Come True”

The Linux Desktop Came on Little Cat Feet

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Is the PC about to become Obsolete?

One of the designers of the first PC seems to think so:

IBM PC daddy: 'The PC era is over'
Chucks own invention into vinyl record bin

One of the dozen engineers who designed the original IBM PC, which celebrates its 30th anniversary on Friday, says that the reign of the personal computer is coming to an end.

"They're going the way of the vacuum tube, typewriter, vinyl records, CRT and incandescent light bulbs," writes IBM's Middle East and Africa CTO Mark Dean in a company blog post.

"When I helped design the PC," Dean writes, "I didn't think I'd live long enough to witness its decline. But, while PCs will continue to be much-used devices, they're no longer at the leading edge of computing."

Dean, who now uses a tablet as his "primary computer", believes that computing is no longer centered around devices, but instead on people's interaction with them.

"These days," he writes, "it's becoming clear that innovation flourishes best not on devices but in the social spaces between them, where people and ideas meet and interact."

It is, of course, to be noted that Dean is toeing the company line. IBM is extricating itself from making devices, and through its Smarter Planet initiative is focusing more on outcomes and usage models than mere hardware. [...]

I got a close look at an Acer A500 tablet the other day, when I was helping one of our customers connect it to our wi-fi. He was a 31 year old, and quite enthusiastic about it and it's features.

It only has 1 gig of memory. It can do most things like internet browsing, email, social media, etc. He says he can even pay bills on-line with it.

Still, I doubt it can run QuickBooks yet, and even if it could, I want a real keyboard and a large screen, not a touch pad. I think you can plug a larger screen into it, and perhaps a real keyboard too.

Anyhow, it seems to be mostly about portability and the touchpad, two things I don't need. It seems almost like a cross between a smart phone and a netbook. I don't see how a serious computer user could use it as their "primary" computing device.

But of course, this is only the beginning. I've already read about more powerful versions in the works; I don't doubt that their popularity will continue to grow, along with their capabilities. But in the end, won't they just be PC's that are lighter, more portable, and easier to use? More like the next step in the evolution of the PC, rather than the end of it.

British Police Officer Blogs about the Riots

On the front line of the riots with the police
I have worked every night and every day this week. Since last Saturday, when I was on the streets of Tottenham in north London in the early hours as rioting and looting broke out, through to the early hours of yesterday morning. I have clocked up around 125 hours, too many of them being pelted by stones, petrol bombs and, in one case, in the chaos of it all, by a 4ft ornamental palm tree.

All that has sustained me has been a few hours of snatched sleep between shifts, plenty of tea, the occasional packet of Haribo sweets to provide a much-needed energy burst – and an unshakeable belief, shared with my fellow officers, that I have a responsibility for the safety of my colleagues, and for the decent, law-abiding majority of the community here in London where I live.

I am in my mid-30s and have been a police officer for 15 years, most recently in plain clothes, doing surveillance. I am also in the Territorial Army and have seen service in Iraq. So I thought I’d witnessed most things in the course of my career. I was on duty at the G20 demonstrations in London in 2009, for example. But nothing prepared me for what I experienced on the front line this week.

I last saw looting in Iraq, in the aftermath of the toppling of Saddam Hussein – but now, unimaginably, it was happening on the streets of London and other cities in the UK. On Monday night I was sent to Ealing, in the west of the capital, where I used to live. When I saw the wanton destruction of restaurants where I had eaten, or the barber’s shop where I would have my hair cut, the full horrific scale of what was happening hit home.

There have been so many things this week I thought I’d never see in London. Perhaps the most shocking sight was of children as young as 10 and 11 – small boys about 5ft tall – attacking police officers. I grew up in the countryside and was taught to respect the police. When, as a teenager, I was involved in a minor misdemeanour, the local bobby told me to apologise to the person I’d wronged, took me home and told my parents what I’d done. I never stepped out of line again. Sadly, there was no possibility of copying his tactics with the lawless children throwing stones at us this week.

It was a small child who shouted perhaps the strangest bit of abuse at me. [...]

Read the whole thing.

In countries like Egypt, Libya, Syria, Iran and others, the people are rebelling against REAL oppression; and they aren't burning down and looting their own neighborhoods, or attacking and killing their fellow citizens.

I've read far too much excuse making for the Brit rioters. Why are they doing it? Because they can. Crime is easy, and almost risk free. And why is that so? I suspect it has a lot to do with The mental illness masquerading as Marxism

More Info about Gout and Herbal Treatments

A recent flare up of gout caused me to look up some more information. I found these two links interesting:

Ease Gout Pain
[...] During acute gout attacks, herbal anti-inflammatories including boswellia (Boswellia serrata), curcumin (Curcuma longa), devil's claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) and yucca (Yucca spp.) can be tried instead of aspirin or arthritis drugs. [ 11 ]The British Pharmacopoeia recommends guaiacum resin extract (Guaiacum officinale; G. sanctum), an anti-inflammatory, for gout. Commercial preparations are available in the United Kingdom. [ 12 ] Boswellia is similar to guaiacum in terms of the types of phytochemicals present and is more readily available in North America. [ 13 ] Whichever herb is selected, the dosage should be at least two 500-mg caspsules of the dried herb three times daily for two to seven days. While the herbs mentioned here do not work as quickly as colchicine, they should help within 24 to 48 hours. [...]

I haven't tried Boswellia before, I'm going to look into it.

Treatment for Gout
[...] Goutezol is the only natural medicine for gout on the market that includes the Chinese method of Mulberry tree extracts. The pills are easily taken and are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream. Goutezol is a blend of herbs and enzymes, attacking the gout withing 24 hours. It is said to be one of the easiest and most effective cures for gout available. This medicine for gout is quickly growing more popular, since it is less tedious than many other medicines available. [...]

Goutezol also sounds like something worth looking into.

My gout attack wasn't severe, but it was painful enough to wake me up at night. Mostly I don't have problems with it, but occasionally I eat to too many things that have high purines, combined with lack of sleep, not enough water, or extra stress on my feet (like standing too much all day). Mostly I can control it by keeping all the various factors in balance.     

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Perseids are Peaking Now

The annual August meteor shower, that is:

Earth is entering a stream of debris from Comet Swift-Tuttle, source of the annual Perseid meteor shower. International observers are now reporting more than 20 Perseids per hour, a number that will increase as the shower reaches its peak on August 12-13.

Last night in Arizona, photographer Marsha Adams caught a Perseid meteor shooting over Ship Rock near Sedona:

"The meteor was bright enough to be seen through the glaring moonlight that was illuminating the landscape," notes Adams. [...]

What an excellent photo! A full moon is not generally considered a good thing for watching a meteor shower, but Marsha made it work for her with this picture.

Also see:

Meteor Shower 2011: How to See the Perseids

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Tottenham, and Riots and Geomagnetic Storms.

I've posted before about Geomagnetic storms/solar flares and riots. Coincidentally, the recent riots in Tottenham seem to coincide with this weekends solar weather:

BIG SUNSPOT GETS BIGGER: Behemoth sunspot 1263 has almost doubled in size this weekend. A 28-hour movie from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory shows the spot developing a tail that has added some 50,000 km of length to the active region. This development may increase the likelihood of a strong flare. Images: #1, #2, #3

WEEKEND AURORAS: A widespread display of auroras erupted late Friday, Aug. 5th, when a double-CME hit Earth's magnetic field and sparked a G4-category geomagnetic storm. "It was the most impressive display I've seen in years," reports Lance Taylor of Edmonton, Alberta. "From 10:00 PM on Friday to 3:00 AM on Saturday, the sky was pulsing from horizon to horizon in every direction." He took this picture during the most intense phase of the storm:

The show was not restricted to Canada. Northern Lights spilled across the border into the United States as far south as Utah, Colorado, and Nebraska. (Note: The faint red lights photographed in Nebraska are typical of low-latitude auroras during major geomagnetic storms.) Observers in Europe as far south as England, Germany and Poland also witnessed a fine display. Browse the gallery for more examples. [...]

Follow the link to the original article, which has many embedded links, and for information about the night-time solar radio burst, which has not happened since 1958.

Who sucks, S&P or our Government?

I'd say, our overspending government:

Ouch! U.S. booted from Triple-A debt club
[...] On Friday, S&P downgraded the United States to AA+, an investment grade level just one notch below triple-A. It marked the first time the world's largest economy has been downgraded, since Moody's first gave the country a credit rating in 1917.

S&P cited estimates that U.S. government debt would balloon to 79% of the size of the entire U.S. economy by 2015, and 85% by 2021 -- a level S&P says is consistent with AA+ rated countries.

In comparison, estimates from the International Monetary Fund show triple-A rated Canada's debt is likely to only rise to 34% of its economy by 2015, and Germany's is forecast to rise to 52%. (The IMF does not publish forecasts out to 2021).
Your money in a AA-rated U.S.

The debt of Belgium, another AA+ rated country on S&P's list, is expected to grow to 85% of GDP by 2015, according to the IMF. [...]

If the growth of debt as a portion of GDP is the criteria they use for assigning ratings, and we are on a par with Belgium, which is also rated AA+, then isn't the changing of the rating for the United States justified? People and nations who over-extend themselves by borrowing too much, lower their credit ratings. Sad but true.

Yet, I know there are other nations on that 15 member AAA list that are having financial troubles too. The article didn't mention all their Debt as a portion of GDP growth projections, I'd like to see those.

Meanwhile, we are going to have to deal with the repercussions of this:

Dollar Weakens to Record Versus Franc as S&P Lowers U.S. Rating
[...] “The downgrade reflects our opinion that the fiscal consolidation plan that Congress and the Administration recently agreed to falls short of what, in our view, would be necessary to stabilize the government’s medium-term debt dynamics,” S&P said.

Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings affirmed their AAA credit ratings for the U.S. on Aug. 2, the day President Barack Obama signed a bill that ended the debt-ceiling impasse which had pushed the Treasury to the edge of default. Moody’s and Fitch also said downgrades were possible if lawmakers fail to enact debt reduction measures and the economy weakens.

S&P’s move “highlights the much-less advanced pace of fiscal consolidation in the U.S., relative to Europe and the U.K.,” John Normand, the London-based global head of foreign- exchange strategy at JPMorgan Chase & Co., wrote in a report to clients.

Haven Rally

Foreign exchange strategists at Barclays Capital said in a note to clients that S&P’s move may initially lead to a rally in assets and currencies perceived to be a haven, such as the franc and yen, while causing currencies of economies that are depend on commodities to weaken. The dollar may also benefit from the “risk impact of the shock,” though longer-term U.S. “fiscal problems are likely to mean a weaker dollar.”

“S&P had been very clear about what it wanted to see in order for the U.S. to maintain its AAA rating, and the agreement reached last week had not met those criteria,” Paul Robinson, a strategist at Barclays in London, wrote in a note to clients. “Commodity currencies look most vulnerable in the short run, again because of the risk element.” [...]

This is what happens when you keep spending money you don't have. It's not politics, it's MATH.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Our August Surprise. Actually, seven of them.

Every year, the Bantam chickens try creating secret stealth nests to hatch out chicks. We don't want any more Bantams, so each year I find most of the nests before they hatch out. But they ARE clever, and each year, at least one hen succeeds in hatching out a batch before I can find her nest. Here is this years batch:

Just a few days ago, I heard some peeping sounds from a cardboard box on our back porch. The box had been filled with scrap pieces of wood. Not enough room for a nesting hen, I would have thought, but I was wrong. A Bantam squeezed her way in among the wood pieces. When I removed the largest wood piece, I saw her, with her seven little chicks running around her.

I suppose a real farmer who didn't want them would drown them in a bucket of water or something. I guess they are lucky I'm not a real farmer.

Each chicklet is smaller than my thumb! They can run through chicken wire, just barely slowing down enough to squeeze through the holes.

I used to fuss over the Bantams when we first got them, making sure everything was just right, by the book, when the chicks were hatched. But that seems funny now. Why? Because they are like cockroaches; almost impossible to eradicate!

And for such small birds, they eat like horses. But on the plus side, they eat a lot of bad insects, so they aren't completely useless. We use their eggs (and the excess roosters) as dog food.

In this last photo, the mother and babies are next to a full-sized chicken, so you can see how small they all are.

This group of chicks we have nicknamed "The Pleiades", because there are seven of them. And because we hope they will all be females, instead of dog food.


Tuesday, August 02, 2011

"... don't give up on America"

The deal disappoints, but don't give up on America
Derbyshire, England (CNN) -- Tucked away here at a family reunion among rolling hills, one can easily drift into another, more pleasant world, but the old realities keep intruding. Time and again, English relatives have gingerly but worriedly asked, "What is to become of America after this debt struggle?"

How to answer? The truth is that none of us knows, and deep insights are especially elusive at this distance.

I try to tell them that the United States is going through a rough patch: the rise of lots of problems that we have allowed to fester over the years now coming to a head just when our politics are polarized, poisoned and paralyzed. Moreover, there is almost no one in high places who commands the full trust of the country -- from the White House to Wall Street, from Congress to the media.

But, I hasten to add, don't write off America -- we are usually at our best when we are down. These are the toughest tests we have faced since the 1930s and '40s, but remember how well we pulled together then.


Still, this is a deal that deserves only one hand clapping, not two. It fell far short of a "grand bargain," a dream scuttled by the tea party as well as the White House. In particular:

• With at least $10 trillion in new deficits expected over the next decade, it cuts only a little more than $2 trillion. The grand bargain called for $4 trillion.

• It solves neither of our biggest fiscal problems: reform of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security and reforms of taxes that are not only fairer but bring in more revenues, especially from the affluent.

• It does not provide for an equal sharing of burdens: The middle class and working people are likely to bear the most.

• It fails to provide an extension of payroll tax relief and jobless benefits into next year, which are so needed in this economy.

• It could well weaken the economy in the near term and, given the debates that will now arise in this congressional committee, will set off a flurry of lobbying and uncertainty in a business community that desperately craves a clearer sense of policy and regulation.

• And it threatens to savage the Defense Department with cuts that will force the United States to pull back from its leadership role in the world and reduce the pay and benefits of those in uniform.

With the fight over, it is like waking up to a bad dream and realizing that much of the nightmare is still here.

The markets recognized that hard realities still persist on Monday after the deal was done -- stocks sank at the end of the day -- and the rest of us will likely get our dose Friday with new unemployment numbers. The politicians will immediately turn their attention to jobs, but they seem to be mostly out of ammunition and so is the Fed. (QE 3 anyone?) [...]

QE3? I sincerely hope not. QE1 & 2 have only created more problems, and devalued our currency. Why would QE3 be any different? Why keep doing what doesn't work? Unless you WANT to collapse our currency and destroy our economy?

I've resisted the temptation to blog on all this; it's been such a dog and pony show. And if doing things like balancing the nations budget and living within our means are now considered to be radical, dangerous "fringe" ideas, I can only say, "Where are all the grown-ups?". If this is what America has become, then I can only wonder if it can, or even should, survive? I only say that because, Nature does not tend to favor the foolish for survival.

No, I've not given up yet. But it's hard not to feel pessimistic as we continue following policies that are failing us. Also, it's taken a while for us to get in this mess; I suspect getting out of it will not happen in a hurry either.

The author of the article ends his piece by saying: "Can Gabby Giffords just show up a few more times this summer? She surely reminds us that no one should ever give up on America." That's a nice sentiment, but we are going to need a lot more than that. We are about to see if we have what it takes.