Confessions of an Absentee Voter

I got my absentee ballot in the mail a couple of days ago… I believe it is our civic duty to participate in our elections.  Plus as the last presidential election showed, every vote counts.  Now comes the hard part… who to vote for? I confess I am one of the “undecided” voters out there.  Do I vote for “change” or for a maverick?  I don’t know yet… but it is my duty to cast that vote.  This is not the only issue I have to make my mind up on… what about the Judges or the Iowa constitutional amendment on what to call people who are ineligible to vote.  Aggh! What to do?  I guess the first step will be wait for the voter guides to be published in the newspaper.  Then I will have to sit down and make a chart with the pros and the cons of each candidate and figure out who sucks less.

So how to get that absentee ballot? First you have to be registered to vote… Then all you have to do is print out the form from here,  figure out where your County auditor is, and mail or deliver the form to them.  Then you will get back the ballot, fill it out and drop it back in the mail… see it is just that easy. Yet you still are doing your part to keep America great.  As my Grandmother told me once, if you don’t vote you don’t have a right to complain about how bad the leadership is.

If you have any questions (for Iowa) contact your county auditor, or visit the secretary of state’s page and Mr. Mauro will set you straight.

(This post is about the great state of Iowa, for information on other states, Google is your friend!)

Karma in DCMA land!

In the last week there have been two seperate blips on my anti-DMCA radar, the first one comes from our friends at XKCD in a webcomic titled “steal this comic” (see below)

This audio feasco was again apparent with the Walmart DRM case.  (Where Walmart said they were going to shutdown their DRM servers as they were not selling DRMed music files any more.  Shortly after that they reversed their decision after much public outcry and threats of lawsuits.)

I have run into the same sort of problem that Randall Munroe (the author of xkcd) has with the on demand service from Netflicks.  Thank goodness that I don’t have any DRMed files on my windows box 🙂 .

The other big news that just broke on Ars Technica where the McCain campaign is angry that their youtube videos keep getting allegedly invalid DMCA take down notices.  In a letter sent to youtube  McCain’s campaign talks about how useful youtube has been to get out videos and info, but it also complains about the “chilling effect” of takedown notices that are aginst fair use of material.  Of course, the campaign has the recourse of sending a counter notice and the video will be reposted, however, in the internet age and the frenzy leading up to the elections every vote and view counts… and like all legal things, these counter notices take time.  Of course, youtube doesn’t want to loose their safehaven shelter so they will keep taking down the videos.

Hmm… lets see if McCain comes out with a pledge to fix the DMCA… that would go a long way in pushing me one way or the other in the election :-).

This really reminds me of the problems that people like Operation Clam Bake has had vs the Church of Scientology.  The COS can spew all the take down notices they want and the rest of the net really can’t do much about it.

But in the end McCain is in good company, after all just swing by Chilling Effects and see all the other folks who have goten C&D letters.

Happy Columbus Day

Ah yes yet another federal holiday, that means no mail delivery, and for me no work (ah the perks of being a federal employee).  Unfortunately, in Iowa it is not a state holiday ergo we still have class 🙁

We all know the memory aid… In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue, but what about this Columbus day?  Well, checking wikipeda (the great knowledge repository) Coulumbus day is celibrated across the America (though it is called different things… Día de la Raza (day of the race), Discovery day or even Día de la Resistencia Indígena (day of indigenous resistance) in Venezuela.

But why did it get it’s start in the US?  In 1792 on the 300th anniversary of Columbus’ Landing in the new world the city of New York celebrated the first Columbus day.  Then on the 400th anniversary President Harrison called for a celebration across the USA.

For those of Italian backgrounds it is seen as an cultural day, however on the other side of the coin the state of South Dakota calls it Native American day and there has been a longstanding movement to eliminate the day as a holiday.  This is due to the poor treatment of the Native Americans by the Europeans.

Personally I feel that we should remember the day as an important part of our history.  However, with that being said we should remember both sides of the story.  The explorers inflicted great cruelty on the people who they encountered.  To quote something my mom told me once, there were good cowboys and bad cowboys and good Indians and bad Indians.

Besides, can’t we all agree on the sales?

Little Sioux Scout Camp News

Little Sioux Scout Ranch will reopen May 2, 2009 as reported on KCCI

There was a glimmer of good news today about the Mid-America Scout Ranch that was struck by a tornado this summer, Little Sioux (map).  KCCI reports that LSSR will reopen May 2, 2009.

Other sites are keeping the public up to date with the status of the repairs… MAC tribute page, and Ranger house webcam.

Good luck to everyone who are working to get the camp back up and online, and my heart goes out to all those who lost friends and family in the tornado.  Donations to help in the rebuilding effort can be sent to:

Mid-America Council, Boy Scouts of America (MAC-BSA)
Attn: LSSR Relief
12401 W. Maple Road
Omaha, NE 68164
** please note on the check that your gift is intended for LSSR efforts

What do you do when you are too popular?

Soon at work we are going to be releasing a new version of a highly anticipated data set… there is only one problem, one of the viewing tools, gbrowse can be very processor hungry, especially when you have many tracks open at once.  On our current hardware, this means that users could potentially have a poor user experiance if there are more then say 5 users abusing the system (i.e. trying to look at a large set of data).  What to do?  If the user base gets a bad experience we loose face, and they won’t be back.  Thus we have a once in a life time chance to put our best foot forward.

Thus the problem is how to handle a large influx of users doing heavy work?  Load balancing comes to mind right away, however there is a problem… gbrowse keeps a session across web pages (This is accomplished by passing a cookie with a session id to the user, and then storing the session data in a temp file).  Thus if you go to diferent machines, the state data is not there anymore.

Right now we are looking at using apache as a load ballancer and then having multiple machines using a shared NFS mount as their temp storage to share session id.

However I am not sure if this will work yet… time will tell I guess, check back later for more info!

As always, these posts are my musings only and my employer, the commissioner of the NBA, NFL, and CIA, and or the secretary disavow all knowledge of anything…

Open Office 3.0

Woot! OO3.0 is now live to the mirrors.  As shown on lifehacker.  This version of OO brings an ability to better handle new MS office documents, better pdf handeling, and just all around awesomeness.  My only complaint after playing with it for a while is that DOCX saving seems to be non-existant, however I could open docx files.  As always .doc is a saveable format…

The bird is the word


Have you heard about the bird? This latest family guy craze has even made it as far as class… Though it confused the hell out of the professor when someone wrote “The bird is the word” on the black board…

The other great thing to come out this week was the Mary Poppins skit on SNL with Ann Hathaway where Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious is a STD… This skit is one that will go down with the other greats.

Oops she did it again… and other web musings

Wait… what? Britney Spears is back from her crazy spell?  Well that may still need to be proven, but she has just released a new single “Womanizer.”  In this video she appears nude (well sorta, she is covering the naughty parts),  a secretary, waitress, and chauffeur.  The one common theme seems to be beating up the man of the video… In my opinion it is more of the same, repetitive blah (but then again I never have really liked many of her songs)… though it is nice to see she is back and working again.

In other musicy news I picked up the CD that I won from 105.1 KCCQ.  The cd is The Glass Passenger by Jack’s Mannequin.  All in all, it is ok music (wikipedia calls it piano rock).  I don’t know if I would run out and buy the cd, but heck for free I will take it.  I have to say my favorite song of the batch has to be “The Resolution” (see below)

More Politics

Wow! Olbermann had one heck of a Palin Rant.  I am not sure I agree with his methods or every thing he says, but it is food for thought

The other interesting video I saw today was MSNBC’s Meet the Press and the discussion of the economy and how this is shapeing up to be main street vs wall street and where the election is going. It is going to be one tough choice!

Everybody lies… politics and video on the web

Across the net It seems like everyone has their thoughts on politics. (Politics of course is derived from the word ‘poly’, meaning ‘many’, and the word ‘ticks’, meaning ‘blood sucking parasites’. (with appoligies to Larry Hardiman))  I figured I would throw my 2 cents in the ring and also give a roundup of some of the different news/commentary sources out there.

Hulu is the first stop with a full election “channel”  Including full recordings of the debates, other speaches and political commentary.  An important draw however is the comidy videos, including SNL, the Daily Show, and Stephen Cobert.

I found that the “fact checker” from MSNBC for last night’s VP debate was especially interesting… basically to sum it up, bolth sides told the truth, but not the whole story (as usual)

So… to sum it up, did they tell the truth? Yes… but….

 

Really in the end bolth debates haven’t helped sway my vote one way or the other…

I can’t wait to see what the SNL skit to come from the debates will be though, until then I guess I will just have to enjoy the Couric / Palin spoof

Finally other web media sites that are making an impact is Twitter’s election center which shows minute by minute what fellower twitters are tweeting about regarding the election.

Where would we be with out the old web standard of youtube also, I mean with out them the nuts would not have anyware to reach the public.

Update:  Thanks to slashdot, two more links of interest.  First apparently the New York Times has a interactive viewer for the debates including transcripts and a fact checker.  Secondly Science News has an interesting set of recordings from the Taft Bryan debates of the turn of the century. This was before radio so the only way to hear them was to buy the recording on wax cyllander.