Sunday, April 29, 2007

Danger and Opportunity

Last night, the old saw that the Chinese word for “Crisis” was made up of the characters for “Danger” and “Opportunity” came into my mind.

Curious to see if this was actually the case, I did a little searching.

According to Victor H. Mair, professor of Chinese language and literature at the University of Pennsylvania, this is not the case.

He states that the word for danger is indeed in there, but opportunity is not. However, I disagree with his opinion, because his reason for discounting the “Opportunity” portion of the equation stems from his very limited understanding of what seems to be his own native tounge.

I find this strange. Especially for someone who teaches a language as full of nuance as Chinese.

He views “Opportunity” to be only positive, and uses the definition from Webster’s Dictionary to back him up and states that “The jī of wēijī, in fact, means something like "incipient moment; crucial point (when something begins or changes)” And that the best one can hope for in a crisis is to save ones own skin.

What he does not seem to understand is that a crucial moment or moment of change is indeed a moment of opportunity. The opportunity exists for things to go very well or horribly wrong depending on how the person in the event acts.

Maybe it’s just the Taoist and swordsman in me, but I view every crisis as a shaping event in the life of the person who experiences it. It is the anvil upon which the mettle of the person in question is hammered – sometimes they break under the strain and sometimes they come out stronger and with more of their path shown to them.

I will grant that most people fear a moment of crisis and freeze up if it happens to them, but there are those of us who are able to navigate our way through it calmly. For that second sort of person, a crisis is indeed a moment of opportunity – not always welcome, but understood and dealt with to the best of our ability.

Current mood: contemplative
Current music: Alanis Morissette - Crazy

Thursday, April 26, 2007

They Just Never get it Right

It seems that my alma mater is “cracking down” on file sharing.

Citing bandwidth issues and the amount of John Doe lawsuits that they are getting from the RIAA, they have decided to outlaw all p2p applications.

I find this ironic considering that, in my software dev class (2003, I believe), one of the projects available to the teams of students was to create a p2p application with a gui.

I’ve never been a big fan of their network services people, because, on the whole, none of them knew what the hell they were doing. There were, of course, exceptions, but they were few and far between.

With that said, it makes me wonder just how far they’re going to take this. Are we just talking things like uTorrent (which a lot of people in the engineering dept use to get things like linux distros) and eMule or are they going to try to kill any distributed applications that they run across for fear that they're p2p apps they've never heard of before?

If it’s the latter, they’re going to have a whole lot of trouble from the engineering college, because we did a great deal of distributed apps. Hell, even my fish tank was running on 20+ machines both on and off campus as a test at one point.

First they have the security fiasco where multiple machines with personal information, including social security numbers, were compromised for over a year without anyone noticing (and, in one case, the machine was supposed to have been decommissioned over a year before). Now they’re trying to be draconian with the network?

Sorry, folks, but you get no donations from me. I know the same goes for a lot of the other people I went to school with.

Current mood: annoyed
Current music: Ayumi Hamasaki – Evolution

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Women and IT

Computer World is running an article on why women seem to be leaving IT.

The gist of the article is basically that women don’t want to put up with the BS, insane hours, and perpetually being on-call.

Slashdot got wind of this story, and most of the responses there were along the lines of “if they don’t want to put in the same hours that we do, forget them.”

Personally, I think that what they should be asking is why *they* are working the insane hours to begin with.

You shouldn’t live to work. You should work in order to get money to do other things like pay the rent and pursue whatever you enjoy doing.

Your job is just a job. It doesn’t love you, it won’t care if you work yourself to death doing it, and it can be done by someone else should you leave. Don’t fall for the fake macho BS of “you are your job” and don’t be guilted, intimidated or manipulated into working insane hours.

The trend to make every person do the work of several people and constantly being on call is not a positive thing. It leads to stress, very costly mistakes, burnout, and a wasted life.

Do your job and then leave the building. Go to the lake. Enjoy the scenery. While you’re there, toss that damned Blackberry as far out into the water as you can.

You’re better off without it.

Work belongs at work; just like you do – for about 8 hours a day, 5 days a week barring the very occasional overtime.

Current mood: annoyed
Current music: AFI – The Missing Frame

Sunday, April 15, 2007

You know, this is one of the times that I remember why I like programming.

It’s a problem solving thing.

I just spent a total of five minutes writing, testing, and running a program that did work it would have taken me a couple of hours to do by hand.

Even after all this time, that sort of thing just never seems to get old.

Current mood: =]
Current music: Bon Jovi – Let it Rock

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Farewell, Kurt Vonnegut. You will be missed.

Rest in Peace.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Dear Tim O’reilly,

Having seen your proposed Blogger’s Code of Conduct, I have the following to say to you:

Get stuffed.

You’re not as important as you seem to think you are despite the fact that your publishing company generally makes decent technical books. Your propositions in this area will largely fall on deaf ears because we speak in the manner that we wish to and, should you try to force the issue (though, on the web, I fail to see how you could unless you tried to get legislation passed), I foresee a wonderful backlash.

I (and, I suspect, most of the other people out there in the great ever-changing place called the Internet) will continue to speak in the same manner that I always have ever since I first signed onto a BBS all of those years ago.

As for comments on my blog or any other forum that I moderate, the only things that will be deleted are link spam.

If someone threatens me, they are perfectly welcome to try it on me in person. If they threaten a friend of mine, they go through me first. The same rules apply to “real life”.

Yes, I really am the same here that I am in person. In fact, I tend to be a bit more reserved on here with regard to certain subjects because of the larger audience.

Unlike you and your friends, half-baked threats of physical violence and death don’t phase me. I’ve been out into the world, boys and girls, and have seen both the very good and the very very bad. Someone at the other end of a piece of cable just doesn’t frighten me.

The world is a very big place full of a lot of different kinds of people. Either grow a spine and learn how to deal with the rest of the world or take your bat and ball and go home, Tim. Either way, stop trying to tell the rest of us how we should all be.



Current mood: annoyed
Current music: Elton John – Crocodile Rock

Friday, April 06, 2007

Of Music and Men

The New York Times has an op-ed piece by a couple of people who owned a record shop in Manhattan on what the record labels and RIAA are doing wrong.

Slashdot got wind of it, and most of the posts there have been of the “people don’t care about CDs anymore. They just want a song or two.”

Call me weird, but I actually *like* having the physical media. Maybe it’s the collector and DJ in me (and yes, I have, on occasion, been a DJ). Part of it, I think, is that I get a CD for a couple of songs and then end up finding other songs on the album that I like.

That’s not really something that you can do with iTunes.

At the same time, I want to smack the owners of music shops who say that illegal downloading has killed their sales. There are a few reasons for this.

First, not everyone who downloaded a song would have bought the album in the first place. Second, some people download a song or two in order to decide if they want to get the album. Third, have you seen the price of a new album lately?

I’m not blaming the record stores for reason three because they don’t make a whole lot per CD sold. Most of the money goes to the label and middle men. However, it’s a real part of the problem that needs to be solved.

I’m speaking as a music lover and someone whose collection is rapidly approaching 400 CDS – all of which I listen to on occasion if you can believe it. However, most of those were bought used because of the price of new albums (since I can usually get the used albums for $3-$7 each as opposed to $18 for a new one).

The major exception to the above are CDs from the local bands that I go to see. If I like the band, I will usually pick up one (or all) of their CDs at the show. I have a small stack of CDs that basically can’t be replaced because the bands in question just don’t exist anymore.

Another great thing about getting those albums is that going to the shows is a great way to meet people, including the band members. I am now friends with far too many bands because I was at their shows and we started chatting (Part of that is due to my outgoing nature. Your mileage may vary).

You could ask Karyl about the time she went to the blues show with me and the band came to my table to hang out *smirk*

As for the rest of my collection, some of it was acquired through Amazon. However, a whole lot of it was gotten while hanging out in record shops that had large used collections. The major one of those was Haffa’s just off campus of my alma mater, Ohio University.

It’s no wonder that Haffa’s has been in business for so long. Their prices are good, their staff is cool, and the town has an actual indie music scene that consistently seems to produce some good bands. In fact, prior to the university president before this one, the place used to be a rite of passage for a lot of bands. The town even sports one of the top ten dive bars in the country – The Union (which is covered inside with the stickers of bands who have played there. It is a very cool place despite being a bit crowded.)

I’d love to see albums which are full of more quality and less filler, artists which are compensated for their efforts instead of being gouged by the labels, and prices that are sane.

Maybe that makes me spoiled. Personally, I think that makes me sane. Then again, I also think that sustainability should be a top priority for any business.

Current mood: recovering from the flu
Current music: AC/DC – Money Talks (it seemed appropriate)