Salient Digital Techno Blog

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  • Jodi Arias sentencing trial hung jury: The system isn’t broken

    Posted on May 23rd, 2013 phpguru No comments

    What happened in the Jodi Arias case is a travesty. I think any self-aware person would agree, based on what we’ve seen in the media, but I agree with Clint, a caller to the Mike Broomhead show on 550 KFYI in Phoenix, AZ: Very likely, one juror, maybe two, couldn’t live with themselves, knowing they decided to put someone to death. If just one juror feels it would be wrong to play eye-for-an-eye, and dug in their heels against the other jurors who thought Jodi Arias should be put to death, well, that’s the system we have.

    That doesn’t mean the system is broken. I think the death penalty is warranted in this case, but I don’t know what one or more jurors are thinking, either. It’s a shame for the family that they didn’t just all agree to go with life to end it so we can all get on with our lives.

    Judeo-Christian heritage baked into our justice system ensures that if you’re innocent, (I do not believe Jodi Arias is) that one guy or gal in the jury could be saving your life by preventing your death. I want to continue to believe in the system, even if it appears broken in this instance.

    But I have a question…

    Are Prosecutors allowed to explain to the jury, the cost to the taxpayers of Live vs Death? Does that figure in, or do the jurors have to disregard the cost? I’m guessing they can’t discuss it. The costs shouldn’t affect the jury’s decision, should they?

    Just throwing out some random numbers—let’s say death is a $100k one time fee vs $100k a year for 60 years—the cost to the taxpayer if they give Jodi Arias life.

    That doesn’t seem fair to me.

    We talk about fairness in the media a lot, particularly the so-called MSM, the IRS against Conservatives who have to pay their fair share, for example.

    Why is it the little guy is always on the losing end of that fairness equation?

     

  • I have to call BULL5H!T on Bing Politics

    Posted on February 24th, 2013 phpguru No comments

    As someone who builds systems to analyze data for a living, I was excited to see Bing encouraging television viewers to take advantage of its real-time political survey at bing.com/politics, one of the largest of its kind, during the recent State of the Union address by President Obama.

    I was diligent to take a screenshot of the data being displayed on that night. Now I’m very glad I did. I suspected they may try to fudge the numbers after the fact, and boy, have they ever!

    I’ve seen this kind of data misrepresentation plenty of times in business, but never for political motives, never so obvious, and never using data that was captured and displayed in real time. It’s both embarassing and troubling, but not surprising. It should come as no surprise that even with all the terabytes of data streaming around the internet in every moment, Bing (owned by Microsoft, the same Liberals behind MSNBC) would make such an obvious effort to pad the numbers. But did they really think no one would take a screenshot?

    Take a look below at my adjusted overlay (top) and draw your own conclusions. It looks to me like Bing wants you to believe that sentiment toward the President and his various messages during the #SOTU address were overwhelmingly positive. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you look back at the actual streaming data coming in real time during the address (middle), and compare it to what they’re reporting today, I think you’ll agree: their current portrayal of the data is completely inflated (bottom).

    Why would Bing do this? Could it be that an overwhelming negative response to the president’s bloviating doesn’t fit in with their narrative of how great a job this guy is doing? It just goes to show you, folks, you can’t trust the media to tell you the truth, even when they use real-time data & graphics!

  • What a female near the front lines thinks of women in combat

    Posted on January 27th, 2013 phpguru No comments

    I regret to admit that back in high school I wasn’t that close with my friend, LCC, but over the past few years, I’ve gotten to know her better on Facebook. Today, she’s a lieutenant commander in the United States Navy reserve, and I feel honored to know her. I recently posted on Facebook asking for LCC’s opinions on women in combat in the U.S. military

    Spurred by the recent push by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to put our mothers, sisters and daughters on the front lines, I’ve been torn on this topic. Many on the right wonder if we’ve been wrong for 200 years, or if sending women into battle will improve America’s military.

    What follows is a slightly modified transcript of our thread on Facebook.

    Me: I want to know what you think about women on the front lines. It seems “fair” now, but what if they re-institute the draft? What then?

    LCC: First, it’s about freaking time. Jobs should be open based on skills and abilities, not reproductive organs.

    Second, I think women should have to register for the draft. And I also like the idea of compulsory service, although I would suggest making it “service” not “military service.” I don’t want people compelled to be in the military—that results in a less capable force, and I don’t want someone who is non-committed to be the only thing standing [sic] between me and the bad guy.

    Me: I would like to think I’d be brave enough to stand between you and the bad guy, but I know I’m not. Do you think women can handle combat?

    LCC: Most women won’t be able to do it. That’s a fair statement. As long as the ones who can are allowed to, all is well. And it’s not just about our “rights” — it’s also about ensuring you have the best people where you need them.

    Me: How do you think women should be measured up to their male counterparts, physically? How would you handle that?

    LCC: My answer to the inevitable questions on physical standards is this: It’s perfectly appropriate to have different measures of overall fitness for men and women. If you take a man in great shape, and a woman in great shape, on average, the man will be able to do more push ups and run faster due to physiology. Abdominal strength doesn’t have the same kind of difference between the sexes. In effect, requiring everyone to hit the same numbers would require a woman to be in better shape than her male peer.

    That said, that’s only on tests designed to measure general fitness. If a job has certain physical requirements, then anyone doing that job should have to be able to meet them, and whether you’re male, female, or whatever is irrelevant.

    Those requirements should be reasonable and demonstrably tied to the job—in other words, fair game to say that you have to be able to drag a 200lb dummy at least 100 yards (or whatever you would typically be expected to do in battle). Not fair game to say “this job is physical…you have to be able to do 300 push ups.” Some fire departments tried to do that to keep women out when they were told they had to let them in if they could meet the standards. It would be equally unfair to design tests that deliberately take advantage of typically female attributes (I can see where there could be jobs where being smaller would be an advantage, but not necessary to do the job. It would be unfair to create a test that focuses on that—you’d be making it tough for most men who would otherwise be considered fit for the job to pass).

    We have plenty of jobs with size restrictions because you have to be able to use equipment. Others say you have to meet certain hearing and vision standards. Those are all specifically tied to the requirements of the job. As long as they stick to that, we’ll be fine.

    Me: So, in every platoon, the smallest guys aren’t as physically strong as the largest guys, but they still made it there. Many women who aren’t currently allowed in might be bigger and stronger than some of the smaller guys already there, right?

    LCC: Exactly. In every unit, you have a mix of strengths and weaknesses. Not every man is at the top of the charts on every measure of physical strength. It’s a combination of skills, with some level of physical ability that truly is required, that makes each person a solid contributor. So even if a woman ends up being the person who can do fewest push ups, that doesn’t mean her overall role in the unit isn’t solid. And she might well be the best shot in the bunch. Or the best something else.

    And it’s also important to note that being “weakest” on any given attribute is not the same as being “weak.” Would anyone call the person who finishes last in an Olympic race “slow?”

    Me: Wow, I just learned a lot of things I didn’t know about women in the military. Everything you said makes perfect sense so far. But, what about the charge that women who get captured in combat will be raped? And what about women on long tours of duty with men from their own company? Do you think more shenanigans will go down in our barracks?

    LCC: As far as sexual assault goes (the other reason often cited for women in combat being a bad idea), everything I’ve ever read on the subject says that when respect for women goes up, sexual assault goes down. Seems to me that while we might have issues initially, when women are not classified as inherently inferior and have the opportunity to prove themselves in the same arenas, we’ll have a better shot at women being seen as true equals.

    Me: What about male soldiers making dumb decisions in combat situations to protect their female counterparts?

    LCC: I’ve heard [sic] the arguments about how men won’t be able to handle seeing women getting killed around them, or they’ll risk themselves to “save” women who are down. To the second point, yes, they probably will. Just like they do to save their male comrades in arms. In my experience, when you’re competent and pulling your own weight, you quickly become “one of the guys.” I’d expect in a battle situation, you’d see warfighters pulling each other off the battlefield when necessary — and you’d see both men and women on BOTH sides of that equation.

    Me: Haven’t women been in support roles very close to the front lines for awhile now anyway?

    LCC: I’d say that we’ve been in combat for quite awhile. The “front lines” are amorphous—I rarely left my base, and my barracks still got blown up with a whole bunch of us in it. We also have women “attached” to combat units — going out on patrols, into villages, etc. The ban simply allowed a final bastion of discrimination that has been illegal almost everywhere else for decades, and prevented women from getting proper “credit” for work they were already doing.

    Not that I have strong feelings about this stuff.

    ME: LOL. I asked you about your personal opinion about women in the military specifically because I knew you’d have strong opinions, and they’d be much more informed than my own. Can I quote you on my blog?

    LCC: I don’t have a blog, so you are welcome to it. But everything here is my opinion/thoughts alone, not necessarily the position of DoD or the Navy. That’s important, because when I’m in uniform, my job is often to be a spokesperson for one or the other. I am most definitely NOT spouting off in that capacity here!

    Well, folks, there you have an honest personal opinion who’s been close to our front lines for quite some time now. Like every issue in the public, political sphere, there’s much more to it than meets the eye, and I always try to ask someone who has her finger on the pulse of an issue before I make up my mind.

    Thank you for your opinions, your voice, and your service, LCC, you’re much braver than I, and a patriot, and I salute you.

    May God protect you, and future U.S. women, out there protecting our freedom on the front lines.

  • The never-ending saga of the dual DVI KVM switch

    Posted on December 1st, 2012 phpguru No comments

    It seemed like a good idea at the time.

    My Digital Audio Workstation, or DAW, was acting up. An aging Dell Dimension 4600, it was taking nearly 30 minutes to start up and giving a startup message about lacking a page file on a custom-tweaked dual-boot XP setup. I had set it up several years ago and installed so much crap over the years. I thought it was time to replace it.

    The trouble was, had had been using this setup with 2 other computers, another PC and a Mac, using a pair of VGA-PS/2 KVM switches. The Dimension is a PS/2 based design, and my other computers could share my VGA/DBI displays. I had gotten so used to using two screens, that I almost can’t think straight without it now.

    Well I finally gave in and sent the PC to my brother who happens to be a computer hardware whiz. I figured he could fix it, and I decided to upgrade it to a Dell Precision T1600 workstation. I got a great deal on one at the Dell Outlet. Since I had been using a collection of DVI to VGA adapters on the previous 3-computer 2-monitor configuration, I decided to also upgrade to a dual DVI KVM switch, thereby freeing up some desk space, cleaning up my studio, and giving me more room for my Native Instruments Maschine.

    So, off I go on the internet to search out dual DVI KVM switches.

    The first one I consider is a Belkin Soho on Amazon. I had pretty good luck with my old Belkin VGA-PS/2 KVM switch, and who doesn’t love Amazon, so I decided for $250 it was a pretty decent price and worth a shot. My workstations on are the ends of an L-Shaped desk, and I had to get 3 pairs of dual DVI KVM cables with it. Grand total: around $500.

    Five days later, I get the Belkin Soho dual DVI KVM switch delivered. I open everything extremely carefully, because I wasn’t sure it was going to work, and I wanted to be able to send it back if it didn’t. I open the box, tear down my entire rig across 3 computers and hook everything up, including some new miscellaneous adapters.

    Strike One.

    Wouldn’t you know it? Right out of box the Belkin Soho felt so cheap ho hum. Fragile and weak plastic. I tried it every which way, and was able to get only 1 screen working on a single computer! None of the other ports were sensed properly. I have no idea if I got a defective unit or what, but that thing was a piece of junk and didn’t work at all. Undo everything, redo everything back the way it was, with VGA PS/2 KVM. Everything works fine again, except I’m out 4 hours.

    Over the next few days, I worked with the Amazon seller to get an RMA number to send it back, I lose about $50 in shipping charges in the deal, and now two weeks later, I’m back where I was before.

    So, off I go again on the internet to search out professional quality dual DVI KVM switches. I arrive at a site called (SEO fans should be proud) KVM-Switches-Online.com. They have a whole section of their site dedicated to dual-display and multi-display KVM switches. I look at a couple of Avocent models and a few Adder products.

    I decide to send an email to sales to ask for some advice. A day later, I get a response with a recommendation. I decide to try a 4×2 dual DVI kvm switch (2SVDVI20BND1-001) from Avocent corporation. I later discovered that Avocent is now owned by Emerson, and the model I purchased seems to be either undergoing a transition, or in the process of being discontinued. Anyway, feeling pretty confident from their response and the knowledge of the salesman, John F, I thought I would give it a go, bought it and waited another few days. With 3 sets of 15-foot dual DVI USB KVM cables, this new order set me back close to $800. I figured for nearly twice the price of the Belkin Soho, it ought to be sweet.

    And it was. I got it home and the following weekend, set up this new one. The Avocent is much higher quality and durable feeling than the Belkin. I was immediately thinking this was going to be it, and I could get back to writing music. Another 4 hours later, I have everything all torn down and tested again, and insanely enough, I think I got a defective Avocent! Both screens were detected from all 3 computers, but I only was able to get a few horizontal pixel lines on the second screen, while the rest of screen 2 was completely black!

    “UGH! What a crock,” I complained. “Again?!”

    Strike two.

    Just because I got a defective Avocent KVM switch doesn’t mean you will, give them a try. They make nice stuff and their single-DVI KVMs look just as nice. But for me, having already spent a month an a half trying to solve this problem, I decided to return it a try a different one again. It was now becoming a little bit like deja vu. I tear everything back down, put everything back the way it was, check it all, re-package all the cables and KVM switch, and request another RMA number.

    Finally I decided to contact KVM-Switches-Online. I get forwarded over to John F, who says he’ll either send me a replacement Avocent or help me choose an upgraded product.

    John walks me through selecting an Adderview Pro Multiscreen, a unique product line that comes in Dual-DVI, Tri-DVI, and Quad-DV-USB-KVM switch versions. I have only two displays, so I ordered the dual (Quad pictured above). Adder switches are some of the best on the market, he said. Again I made sure to order 3 sets of dual 15-foot DVI-USB cables and used my RMA credit from the Avocent (now down around $600 after subtracting shipping the return back).

    I wait another few days. Five to be exact.

    When it finally arrives, I’m stoked. The Adderview Pro Multiscreen is really a nice KVM switch. It has a digital readout, not unlike the first digital alarm clock you might’ve had, multiple settings, and keyboard control. I get ready to install it and realize that although the packaging says “5-metre” the cables inside are clearly 3-foot (1m). Not long enough to reach my 3 PC.

    Good lord. Still no luck with 1 of my 3 computers, at this point I’m getting kind of frustrated, but try to keep my cool and contact John again. See, now we start to get on a first name basis, because I had to convince them that I wasn’t insane and that, in fact, the Cables that shipped with the Adder KVM Switch were mis-labeled in the wrong packaging.

    Another day or two goes by (I have a day job – this is for my hobby room’s PCs). I call John again and talk to Krissy, who manages customer orders and returns. She hands me off to John, who says he spoke with Adder, talked to the shipping manager, who called him back on his cell from the warehouse and indeed verified that I am not insane, that there was a packaging mistake, and to hang tight for 6 new 15-foot DVI USB KVM cables. Yes, dual DVI KVM for 3 PCs, six cables. They would offer me a discount of not having to pay shipping for the second shipment. I guess that’s something.

    Alright, great. I wait another five days. It’s been two months now since I started this journey to find the perfect dual DVI KVM switch.

    The new cables arrive, and they’re sweet! A few hours later, the third time now tearing down a 3-PC dual VGA PS/2 KVM and setting up a 3rd KVM switch, I can use my Mac and my Dell XPS perfectly now. But for some reason, the Precision T1600 is only working on one monitor.

    I try port 4 on the KVM instead of port 3. Same thing. Minus another half hour.

    I try to swap out the cables and verify it’s not that. Nope. I flip flop the cables, and see I get the other screen working, but not both. Minus another hour.

    It’s still Saturday afternoon, so I figure I will dig into the issue on the Dell support chat and forums. Turns out, guess what! Duh! My VGA to DVI adapter won’t work…

    “You can drive a VGA display from a DVI connector, but not the other way around,” The Dell support tech says. I was getting only the screen from the DisplayPort to DVI connector. So, off I go to Amazon to order a new Graphics Card that supports Dual DVI – the EVGA nVidia GeForce 620. It’s got exactly the ports I needed, and has 1GB of RAM. I figured that would be perfect.

    Minus another $50 and two hours of research & shopping, followed by another two days of Amazon Prime shipping.

    I get the card upstairs, installed it into the T1600 and still get one monitor to work. I can’t believe it, now. Using this card, only 1 display is recognized! I cannot for the life of me figure it out. I download the tech specs from the Dell Precision T1600 and the EVGA nvidia GeForce 620. There it is, in black and white, clear as crystal:

    GeForce 620: This card requires 350w of power and 18amps on the 12-volt rail.

    Hmmm. I start to become concerned that I don’t know a lot about PC power supplies.

    Precision T1600: Power supply 265w.

    Rats, that has to be it, I thought. Just to be sure, I fire up a chat support with Dell to confirm that upgrading the power supply won’t void the warranty or damage the PC. I’m told not to worry, just that Dell won’t cover the new Power Supply under their warranty and to keep the original one just in case. Surf for a few to find out how complicated buying a PC power supply can be. Doesn’t look too bad, thanks to this article on how to buy the right replacement PC power supply over at computershopper.com.

    Now I’m tearing down my DAW again, to yank the power supply out and head back to the computer store in search of a new replacement higher-wattage power supply. Minus another hour.

    I get back later with a 400w Antec 80+ Bronze power supply and install it. I reconnect the KVM and fire it up. Hmm, not looking good. I get VGA on one screen still.

    I can’t get Windows 7 to even notice that there is a 2nd monitor attached. That seems odd to me, so I Google it. I find a post where a commenter replies that you have to go into the bios and enable multi-monitor support. Hmm. Really? Gosh, I’ve been spoiled by using a Mac for way too long. So I reboot and press F2 and the Dell screen. Strange thing is, I can’t seem to find anything related to multi-monitor support in the BIOS I am running.

    I launch a Dell support chat in the other PC (I have some of the KVM ports working) to ask about that. I decide it would be easier to call and talk to someone.

    Dell: Are you using any adapters?

    Me: No, just DVI cables.

    Dell: The Precision T1600 with your Service Tag says it has integrated graphics, 1 Display port, 1 VGA port, so you must have some adapters if you’re using it with DVI monitors.

    Me: No, I am trying to install and use an nvidia GeForce 620 in PCI slot 4. The specs say it needed a larger power supply so I am also I bought one and I’m using that to rule out lack of power.

    Dell: I see. Well, if you use the DisplayPort with a DVI adapter, and a VGA monitor it should work.

    Me: I don’t have a VGA monitor.

    Dell: Please hold while I look up a few things.

    (Ten minutes go by)

    Dell: Sir, I regret to inform you that the bios on your machine only supports dual screens via the Display Port and VGA adapters. Because that machine came with integrated graphics and not a Dell-approved PCI card for multi-screen technology from the factory, there’s no way for you to enable multi-monitor support in the Bios, I don’t think there’s any way I can solve your issue, and since you’re using a 3rd-party graphics card, we can’t support that, either.

    Me: Wow. Unbelievable. Can I return this computer?

    Dell: I don’t know. Dell Customer Care is open weekdays during normal business hours. Would you like their toll free number?

    Me: Sure. (I write it down.)

    Dell: Is there anything else I can help you with?

     

    ARGH! I wanted to slap that guy! I know it wasn’t his fault and he was just following a script, but my God! I’m now 6 weeks down the road, several thousand dollars out of pocket and still don’t have a working solution to the Dual DVI USB KVM saga.

    Now I’m faced with a dilemma. Do I try to return everything and start over? Pillage all the parts I have in this dell in the fabrication of a new home-built PC? Buy a new one and sell this one on eBay?

    At the end of the day, building a DAW is a tricky pain in the neck, and making a production studio setup with 3 computers sharing one keyboard, mouse and two DVI monitors is even more complicated.

    I know once I get the kinks ironed out, the AdderView Pro Multiscreen is going to do the trick, and I received very good customer service from KVM-Switches-Online.com — they were all helpful and polite and were clearly interested in getting my order and my setup done right!

  • How to buy the right power supply for your PC

    Posted on December 1st, 2012 phpguru No comments

    Whether your power supply is blown, or you want to add a new PCI card upgrade, you really ought to check out this fantastic write up on PC computer power supplies. Very informative.

    http://computershopper.com/feature/2010-ultimate-guide-how-to-buy-a-pc-power-supply/(page)/1

  • Why Michelle Obama Gets Twice as Many Tweets as Mitt Romney

    Posted on September 4th, 2012 phpguru No comments

    Politico just reported that according to Twitter, the maximum TPS (Tweets Per Second) during Michelle Obama’s DNC2012 speech peaked over 28,000 while during Mitt Romney’s speech last week, that same metric was half, peaking around 14,000 TPS.

    Here’s why: Republicans following Mitt Romney are more likely to be a little older, a little wiser, hard-working business folks in middle America with way too many things to do, and far less spare time. More importantly, the average Elephant is paying very close attention, intently listening to the content of what is being said, sorting fact from fiction. More Republicans simply don’t have as much time to futz around with the latest tech gadget or time-sucks like Twitter or Facebook. Also, to be GOP is to show respect for free speech, even if we vehemently disagree. We know millions of our forefathers died to protect the Dem’s right to bloviate, and we’ll show you we’re respectful by listening, and not fiddling with our smart phones, while you dig your own grave this November.

    By contrast, the average Democrat is more likely to be be younger, more frivolous and more concerned with and interested in celebrities and the Hollywood culture than Politics. Donkeys are more likely to take advantage of ample leisure time, often at work when the boss isn’t paying attention, to learn the ins and outs of a successful tweet, and how to find the next trending video on YouTube. Us eager voters only hear every third or fourth word of the speech, because we’d rather be updating our Facebook status about the glitz and glamor than actually pay attention to what is being said. We know what’s being said already. We learned everything we need to know about Obama in 2008. We believe Obama just needs more time to fix everything. In the end, it’s about being a good person and doing what’s right, even if it means we have to rewrite parts of The Constitution.

    Disagree? John Stossel found American poor are the most wealthy poor the world has ever seen. More than 80% of poor people aren’t actually poor: they have HDTVs, Video Game consoles, smart phones, you name it. Fact check that.

    There you go, perfectly explained. Any questions?

  • What? Google Search Isn’t Awesome? Top 10 Reasons Why

    Posted on August 28th, 2012 phpguru No comments

    You know you love Google’s #1 product… their impressive Google web search. If you’re like me, you use it hundreds, if not thousands of times a day.

    In addition to the Google’s basic web search, Google offers Google Advanced Search, as well as a Google Image Search,

    It’s now almost impossible to find the link to Google Advanced Image Search, but it’s still there, and it’s the best way to perform an advanced search for images online.

    You can use Google Search Operators, also called Google Search Modifiers, and they even offer users a whole page of Google Search Tips., including tricks like searching for recipes, using the calculator functions, and lots more.

    But as good as Google’s search box is, there’s always room for improvement. Here’s a list of new and improved Google Web Search features I’d like to see. If you agree with these great feature additions I’ve suggested below, or if I forgot any, leave me a comment! I know I’d use them for sure!

    Top 10 Ways Google Can Improve Search

    10. Starting with something boring and annoying, how about a Tax Forms search? The one at irs.gov is alright, but let’s face it, the government could use Google’s help. The Google search 1040 site:irs.gov year:2011 type:pdf should bring up the obvious result I am after. It doesn’t. Google could help me spend even less time on the IRS website than I do already, which would be a very good thing.

    9. Music Search. There’s no way to search music available in iTunes, without launching iTunes. I love music, but the search capability of iTunes and other music programs is terrible. Let me flag a song or album for later, like a wish list, and remind that I liked it. Integrate with all the streaming services like Pandora, Slacker and such. Give me Search Operators like artist:justin+bieber or label:interscope or genre:thrash+metal. (That’s three different search examples.)

    8. Melodic Search. Create a musical instrument interface with which to perform song searches. As a play-by-ear pianist, I can never remember the lyrics or the names of songs, but I can play the notes! Let me play notes on an on-screen keyboard, or with my attached Midi keyboard, and find music matching the musical notes I am playing. For example, if I play C . . G C . . G C G C E G –> Google should pull up Mozart Eine Kleine Nachtmusik. This is easily implemented with widely available MIDI data.

    7.  Advanced Video Search. To perform an Advanced Video Search on Youtube now is an exercise in aggravation. An advanced YouTube search that worked would be really cool. Give me all the fields as operators, too, like views:1M or maru type:video views:2M..5M by:views ord:desc. This should show me maru clips between 2M and 5M views ordered by views descending. This search actually returns an incredibly random assortment of useless junk.

    6. Expert Search right from the Google.com home page. Upgrade the advanced search operators, giving power users like me the utmost flexibility. For any input field on the advanced search or advanced image search, create an Advanced Search Operator for it. For example, why can’t I find cat exact:lolz type:gif w:128 h:128? I clearly am after an exact search of funny cat gif icons. I should be able to easily guess the “colon operator” for any advanced search field, and why not show me what it is when I hover over it on the advanced image search form so I don’t have to go find an obscure help doc on a different website on performing an advanced Google search.

    5. Create Search Templates — Let me save and share advanced search filters and advanced images search filters and use them for later. For example, it can take a few minutes to set up a good advanced images search. Why not let me store the following for easy retrieval… for example (site:a.com OR site:b.com OR site:c.com)  (type:jpeg OR type:png) (size:2mp..4mp). Clearly I am looking for jpg or png images betwen 2mp and 4mp on 3 specific websites. As a designer, if I could save those search parameters and re-use them, I could easily load it up, add a keyword, and save hours every year.

    4. How about a Movie Search? Just buy IMDB.com , Blockbuster.com and RottenTomatoes.com and combine them. You know you want to.  Your current Movie Showtimes Search is very embryonic. Is it too much to expect that type:movie (actor:judd+nelson AND actor:molly+ringwold) could find The Breakfast Club and 16 Candles? Results: ho-hum.

    3. You can’t have a movie search without a Celebrity Search. It amazes me that I cannot set up an RSS feed for daily updates of Zoë Saldana jpegs that are at least 1280 x 1024. I clearly want wallpaper. Why not let me do celeb:zoë+saldana type:jpg size:2mp..

    2. You’re obviously working on a Travel Search, otherwise you wouldn’t have bought ITA Software and Frommer’s. Are you ever going to improve Google Flight Search? I bet some readers don’t even know that exists. I hate every minute of making travel plans online, and since the internet killed the travel agent, I’m forced to do this on my own now, forevermore. Hurry up and fix it already!

    1. Social Search. This is a no-brainer. I can’t search anything on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or even Google+. The state of social search is so incredibly dismal, it’s going to require an entire blog post all on it’s own. In short, if I’m logged into all of my social networks, I should be able to search them all with ease. They all provide APIs, don’t they? Don’t you have, like, fifty zillion programmers? Surely with all the work that went into Google+ you had to think about how to make all of that content searchable. It seems like the moment I link to something or share it, the sooner I can never find it again!

    Now I hinted at this in #7 above, but how cool would it be to search the web with SQL? Or at least, using some SQL-like operands? By now millions of people use SQL on a daily basis, and certainly your search algorithms could be easily adapted to understand things like by:relevance ord:desc. (ORDER BY relevance DESC) or BETWEEN 2011-12-31 AND 2012-06-30? This reminds me that you could make it a lot easier to combine mulitple boolean operators. Only one or two work at a time. Why not let me use AND, OR and Parentheses? ( this OR that ) AND (brick OR brack). So I guess you could call this a bonus eleventh way Google could improve it’s search features. Call it Nerd Search.

    Okay, there now, Googlebot, fans of Google, and other casual readers. What do you think?

  • Tempe, AZ: The New Home of Rock & Roll

    Posted on August 26th, 2012 phpguru No comments

    Yes, Tempe Rock & Roll

    Tempe, Arizona, probably doesn’t spring into your mind when thinking of the top cities in the USA to see live, local bands perform incredible, original rock and roll music on a regular basis. But perhaps it should.

    The fact is, a tightly-knit, growing group of bands, devotes, and fans, and their friends, girlfriends and wives, along with a few folks in the general public who’ve caught on early, are creating a new local music underground scene in Tempe, Arizona.

    That may come as a surprise to many, given that most of the best musicians and concert tours in the world rarely stop in Phoenix, AZ, let alone the suburb near Arizona State University known as Tempe. This isn’t about good bands from elsewhere stopping in Tempe. This is about bands from Tempe. Strange as it may sound, Tempe, AZ, may soon become just as synonymous with independent music as Seattle is for grunge.

    Long Wong’s At The Firehouse

    It’s not clear when the proprietor of Long Wong’s At The Firehouse in Tempe, AZ, first decided to build a stage, install a P.A., and have their first open mic night, but we do know that for the last couple years, the Thursday night open mic sessions have turned into Friday night live rock and roll sessions, and now they’re regularly stocked with fantastic, talented local bands. These aren’t carbon copy acts playing covers, mind you. Oh no, these dozen or so acts weekly take turns setting up and delivering set after set of mind-blowingly refreshing original music. Some of their tracks sound vaguely familiar, but with some hard edged and dissonant, others pop-ish and more melodic, a recent night out at Long Wong’s in Tempe turned out to be uniquely stimulating.

    Quick Henry

    Take Quick Henry, for example. Around 9 pm last Friday, Aug 24, this 4-piece band of drums, bass, guitar, and, get this—trombone—took the stage. Having a trombone in a rock band gives their sound a sweetly intelligent edge not unlike Cake. Their recipe calls for Jameson, Ginger Ale and Ice, but I managed to enjoy them just fine on Long Wong’s ample supply of Blue Moon on tap.

    Future Loves Past

    Following Quick Henry, Future Loves Past took the stage. This eclectic indie/pop/rock outfit lived up to their “harmonious” claim. The highlight for me watching this 6-piece ensemble jam together while easily handling multiple riffs in various tempos, and several moments during which the band’s four  terrific singers hit relatively complex 4-part harmonies, right on the money, without missing a beat.

    “I have been [doing] shows in the Valley for over six years, and I see about 15 acts a week, easily,” said Jack Maverik, Long Wong’s General Manager, “and never have I gotten quite the reaction I do when they play.”

    Having seen and heard Future Loves Past perform myself in person, I can agree, and suggest that you should experience this band, too, to find out what your reaction might be. You can grab four of their tracks here, and they’re working on more in the studio as you read this. It’s no surprise to me that Future Loves Past was nominated as one of the best local bands in 2012 by Phoenix New Times.

    Sasquanaut

    It’s about midnight on Friday, I’ve got a great buzz going, and next up on the docket is Sasquanaught. Yes, Sasquanaut, like Sasquatch is an Astronaut who asks, “Progressive Rock, anyone?” Not to question the irony, but is this band’s name as hard to spell as their sound is to hear? Maybe. They were the most edgy and metallic grungers of the night, scraping and screeching a little more often than the first two acts I was privileged to experience, and a little less pop-ish than Japhy’s Descent, an act I would hear a little later. I found myself being reminded of Rush by this super tight 3-piece ensemble, but not to pigeon-hole their sound, just because the talent and unity these 3 guys demonstrated while pumping out what was, I thought, deceptively complex hard rock, across a wide variety of tempos and time signatures, reminded me of one of the greatest 3-piece rock bands in history. Twice during their set, these super-tight, mostly-instrumental jammers, were augmented by vocalist, Travis, of Japhy’s Descent, a fact I wouldn’t realize until a little later that evening.

    Steppchild

    Steppchild, a rock trio consisting of Adam Jacobson, Adam Carter, Adam Roach took the stage next. These guys say their influences include Black Sabbath and they’re pure rock and f***king roll headbangers. Rather than tell you more about what I saw last Friday, you can see for yourself with a video originally shared by Japhy’s Descent.

     

     

    Japhy’s Descent

    The final band of the night was Japhy’s Descent, a Tempe, AZ-based alternative blues rock quartet that was the best band of the night for me. Mostly  because my friend Brian plays bass. But I have to admit, this band’s catchy track, Answer 42, inspired me and stuck with me unlike any other from the whole night. It’s just a fun 3-minute ride that I want to go on again. Achieving fresh and original, while also sounding familiar enough to be considered borderline main stream is no easy feat for an alternative band, but I think Japhy’s Descent has done it with this song. Their sound is tightened up by drummer, James, and Bassist, Brian.

    Here’s a YouTube clip of Japhy’s Descent playing Answer 42, one of the most commercial tracks I heard all night.

    Although the sound was typical of small venues—more loud than clean, and the mixing was non-existent by Long Wong’s absentee audio engineer, that didn’t spoil the night from being one of the most enjoyable in recent memory, and, like a good drug, left me wanting more… a lot more. From what I can tell, these guys aren’t going anywhere, except maybe up and up.

    This growing collection AZ rock and roll bands, their friends and families that gather at the local Long Wong’s At The Firehouse know they’ve got a good thing going. The relationships are clear and the camaraderie was evident. I felt a bit too clean cut, like I need to grow my hair and beard a bit longer before I’ll fit in, but I had a lot of fun just being around these incredible musicians and feeding off their energy as they took turns jamming out. These guys have been playing together in the Tempe, AZ, local music scene for a couple of years now, and all that practice and dedication is really starting to show.

    Special Thanks To…

    I have to thank Long Wong’s for being the de-facto venue-of-choice for this subculture to be born and start to flourish. It may well be that the mere existence of this venue has spawned these acts. A good time was had by all, but it’s more than that. I felt like an insider, enjoyed multiple kick ass rock bands from the front row in a small venue just before they’re famous, all night long. It’s not every day you get to discover a thriving underground, and it’s not that common to see so much variety of talent on a single stage in a single night, ever, let alone, weekly. Go to Long Wong’s on any Friday night and you’ll see.

    But wait, there’s more…

    Carpe Deon

    I have to thank one more person. The impetus behind my visit to Long Wong’s in the first place, the one who I should credit the most for writing this  post is, my friend, Deon Doughty. He wanted me to experience and enjoy these great bands last week, like he’s been doing for years. And now, I’m hooked in, too. Like him, I get to follow these bands’ careers in music. Deon’s been inviting me to participate and bear witness on these recurring festivities for a long time now. I’m just disappointed that I didn’t take him up on his offer sooner!

    A native of Paducah, Kentucky, I first met Deon over 10 years ago where we both found ourselves employed by the East Valley Tribune newspaper in Gilbert. Deon was already an incredible painter. I taught him what I knew of print production, computer aided design, desktop publishing, and eventually, PHP programming, but in the evenings and weekends, Deon was always involved in poetry readings, open mic nights, creating animations and working on his own comedy music videos. But 10 years ago, YouTube didn’t exist, and the Tempe, AZ, local music scene wasn’t quite ready for Doughty’s artistic vision.

    Well, Tempe is ready now, and Deon’s been in the thick of it from day one. In fact, in his mind, it’s all by design, all part of his artistic vision. You see, in addition to the auditory amazement and excitement of having these bands tickle and massage my ear drums on just this one night, Deon’s been following these bands for over a year to document them visually, but not with photography, like the days of the masters: with paint on canvas.

    So Deon’s been doing more than just following these bands. To be fair, he’s been getting to know them. Intimately. Experiencing their talent. Becoming friends with them and learning who they are. As a local artist, musician and beatnik poet himself, Deon has seen these bands form, having watched their first open mic performances, and he’s watched them grow and become better and tighter. As they’ve formed their sound, he’s developed and honed his own artistic style, in tribute to them just as much as his own love of music and art.

    It’s been nearly two years now, and as these bands have formed a new local music subculture, Deon is right there with them, documenting them on canvas. He was there last Friday, as he is nearly every Friday, working on his next portrait, of Sasquanut bassist, Matt Busch. Like all the others, using a duotone color palette of navy blue and gold.

    Carpe Deon presents The Tempe Rock Star Gold Music Festival

    Local artist, Deon Doughty, stands in front of his collection of portaits, each of a different musician from a local Tempe, AZ rock & roll band.

    Doughty has painted over 25 original works now, all portraits of various individual band members who play or sing in these awesome local music groups. His style is tight realism bordering on surrealism, with details so intricate they’re not unlike the halftone dots we had created for the Tribune’s presses nearly a decade ago. Working from photographs, he’s gone beyond what most digital artists do today, both in vision and dedication. Seeing his work in person, all at once, is going to be incredible. I can’t wait.

    That chance will come in less than a month. The collection of these portraits is going to be on display, along with the bands performing, at The Tempe Rock Star Gold Festival, September 28 & 29, 2012, at the Sail Inn in Tempe. It’s no coincidence that Deon is primarily responsible for putting this event together, and if you like independent, live music, you should save the date and plan to go.

    Legends of AZ Rock & Roll

    What other rock bands can say they have a personal painter following them around, documenting them in acrylic on canvas? Not even the likes of U2 or The Rolling Stones can say that. But Deon can see immense talent in these bands, and unlike many artists, he has followed through on his vision to document their talent using his own.

    “In some small way, I want to try to help these bands succeed,” says Doughty. “I love live music and I love to paint, and I figured out a way to bring the two together.” This sounds crazy until you actually see him at work, in the back of Long Wong’s, next to instrument cases, road crates and the chairs and tables stacked up to make room in front of the stage for dancing fans. There he is, and his canvas is set up on the bar, in front of a stool, using a guitar stand for an easel, while a few of his own fans protect his small art space as partly inebriated onlookers try to figure out why there’s a guy painting a portrait at the back of the bar.

    Most patrons either know, “cool, there’s Deon,” or aren’t in the know and aren’t quite sure what to make of him. I can see why, but I know the back story, that there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye, that this is but one unfinished work, in a long series of amazing portraits of the legends of AZ Rock and Roll, and this is just one weekend in a two year’s worth of weekends. I watch Matt Busch pause before starting his set to check out the progress of his own portrait. He smiles and nods. Then gives Deon a fist bump. Two artists acknowledging each other is a beautiful sight.

    To close this commentary, I will invite you to see for yourself. Visit AZ Rock & Roll—AZRockAndRoll.com—a website also painted by “Carpe Deon.” There you will find links to all the bands he’s documenting through his artwork, the same bands performing at The Tempe Rock Star Gold Festival at the Sail Inn, 26 S. Farmer Ave., Tempe, AZ, 85281 on September 28 & 29, 2012, and some of whom I got to see perform last Friday.

    Nothing like the The Tempe Rock Star Gold Festival 2-day local music celebration has ever happened before. In Tempe, certainly, but anywhere in the world, either. The uniqueness of this event is assured — Deon’s made certain of that. His art collection will be on display for the very first time for the public, all together, with the bands playing sets right along side. This body of work will guarantee, just as the sound of these original bands will, that it will be an event not to be missed and not soon forgotten. Hopefully when you share this post, neither will Arizona, or the world forget that Tempe, AZ, has staked it’s claim as the new home of independent music.

  • How Things Work and Why They Don’t

    Posted on July 17th, 2012 phpguru No comments

    In case you’re confused about the 2012 election coming up, let me put things into perspective for you with a simple example.

    Business owner Bill, together with employees Phil & Jill together earn $100.

    Obama takes $40 of it, then borrows $40 from China, giving him $80 to work with. So he hires Fran for $50 to do a $25 job, and Stan for $25 to do a $15 job. With the $5 he has left, he buys a burger, fries and a coke.

    With the $20 he collects in taxes from Fran & Stan’s paychecks, he buys a pack of smokes for $5 and puts $5 gas in the black SUV so he and his wife and kids can take in a $5 round of golf. He makes Biden caddy for free, and Michelle and the girls order the groundskeepers to plant tomatoes in all the sand traps.

    Afterwards, Obama spends the last $5 on some ice cream for the girls and takes a media opportunity to tell the folks they shouldn’t driving gas guzzlers, but instead, looking for alternative energy solutions. Biden comes out of restroom with toilet paper stuck to his shoe and says, “Yeah, and global warming, too.”

    Michelle tells the press her mission is to prevent bad parents from feeding their kids things like burgers, fries, coke and ice cream.

    After sending $40 to the IRS, Bill, Phil, and Jill have $60 left. Bill takes $30, donates $10 to charity, leaving him with $20 of which he spends $10 on prescription drugs. He puts $5 in his kids college education fund, leaving him with $5.

    Phil keeps $5 after giving $5 to his church and putting $10 gas in his car to drive 35 miles to his 2nd job.

    Jill, a single mom who’s husband is deployed to Afghanistan, has $1 left after spending $5 on groceries for their 5 kids and paying $4 against her student loan for a degree in a field that isn’t currently hiring.

    Obama’s campaign is based on explaining how he has created jobs for Fran & Stan, and how it’s Bill and Phil, those upper income earners, who should be paying their fare share. After all, Bill didn’t build that business, and Phil should spread the wealth around a little.

  • What happened to the j.mp sidebar?

    Posted on June 2nd, 2012 phpguru No comments

    A few years back, I found the iPhone app Runmeter. It keeps getting better, too, and is still one of the best $5 I ever spent. Very cool app. When you finish a run, skate or walk, it sends you a j.mp short link to a Google map of your exercise with all the stats it captured via GPS.

    As a web developer interested in link shortening services, I instantly signed up to use j.mp to shorten my links.

    One of the best things about the j.mp link shortening service was the j.mp sidebar, a Javascript bookmarklet that creates a side panel over whatever site you’re on that allows you to use the j.mp shortening service without leaving the page you’re on. It was elegant, easy and just perfect for my needs.

    Even though around September of 2009 bit.ly encouraged their users to switch to j.mp to make their URLs even shorter, they have now appeared to have tabled the j.mp brand along with the excellent j.mp sidebar. This wouldn’t be a big deal if the new bit.ly services were the same or better, but they’re far from it. The new bit marker is annoying and takes five times longer to shorten a link, tries to integrate with sharing sites for you and lots of other annoyances.

    So they deprecated the j.mp sidebar, which as of the time of this writing is still working, but you cannot find it anywhere on the web! So frustrating.

    To combat this problem, here are some instructions below — just sign up for bit.ly if you don’t already have an account, and follow the steps below.

    bit.ly j.mp sidebar bookmarklet

    Drag this link to your browser’s bookmark toolbar
    j.mp sidebar

    bit.ly j.mp sidebar manual creation method

    1. Create a new blank bookmark in your bookmark toolbar folder and name it j.mp sidebar (or bit.ly sidebar if you prefer)

    2. Paste in the following for the URL

    Enjoy!