groundmeat.com

Site Rework.

June 27th, 2008

Ok, so it’s been 2 years since I updated this site. Not a great job updating, but I do intend to be better. I’ve found enough weird stuff to post that I think I’ve got a solution to the problem and can update with some small degree of regularity.

The site is now on Word Press so the various static links probably won’t work anymore. I’m ok with that.

The old rantings are all imported here so I don’t lose any enemies that I have already made, but the focus in the future will be on happier or at least more bizarre things. A little news of the weird, but also personally or nearly personally collected weirdness. Enjoy

Because iChat still sucks…

February 14th, 2006

This has to be the least helpful error message ever.

 

Strongbad-o-lantern

October 31st, 2005

This year continues the Internet meme pumpkin tradition. The Strongbad-O-Lantern got lots of “Cool Pumpkin!” and “Wow!” but no real recognition. We did get one, “Is that a vampire or an owl?” Of course, it’s Strongbad from homestarrunner.com.

A Boy and His Lawnmower

September 7th, 2005

Admit it, given this:

You want it and you can get it here. No premium. Donate to charities that aren’t whacking poor people.

Mowing Down the People

August 25th, 2005

Who says 8 months is too long?

Ok, I’ve had this t-shirt since the 80s. It was sold by Alternative Tentacles Records as part of their selection of Dead Kennedy‘s related stuff by artist Winston Smith. I think that it’s just as valid today assuming that you replace the Replican face. Note on the full size image (click to see it) that the upper left corner has the text, “Do you believe America is a democracy?” A valid question, a valid message, just the wrong face.

Cuddly Gargoyles

January 25th, 2005

It’s certainly the silliest thing that I’ve bought in a while, but let be explain: The Sanrio Store at our local mall is going out of business for reasons that I don’t quite understand. Yes, Hello Kitty herself is closing an outlet even as the much less cuddly Steve Jobs pushes harder into retail. As is often customary, even the fixtures are for sale. Being an avid haggler, I was able to come by this 5 foot tall Pochacco for a song. The picture follows, wife is included for scale.

Domompkin

October 31st, 2004

This year’s Jack-O-Lantern was none other than NHK TV’s mascot, Domokun if for no other reason than because I could. For the record, a hole saw works great for making perfectly round holes in pumpkins and a keyhole saw really works better than any kitchen implement for cutting just about anything else.

Hauling in the Element

August 27th, 2004

The wisdom of the removable sunroof is revealed by the ability to haul trees home from the nursery.

For starters, chat apps in general suck. iChat is probably the best of breed at least when you consider IM type apps like AIM, MSN Messenger and Yahoo Messenger. iChat, as Apple’s iLife entry into the category, does a good job of avoiding the worst of AIM’s own failings like bundled advertising. Unfortunately, it suffers other failings that are almost worse.

First, I put up with iChat as I need connectivity to the AOL messenger network. I also need decent chat room support which is something that you don’t get with the various shareware apps. Most of those gag on mac.com user IDs that are common with the Macintosh using crowd. I do like that iChat supports custom icons but doesn’t readily allow for animated icons. Animation makes the AIM UI far too busy. So just what is that’s really wrong with iChat.

First, iChat has no worthwhile way to notify the user of new messages. It chirps and bounces the dock icon but that’s only faintly indicative of a new message, not which window has a new message. It’s easy to lose a one-on-one chat window in the background when iChat starts chirping about activity in a busy chat room. This is bad and has stung me many times when I have lost conversations with friends or business contacts because of chirp from some other window caused me to switch away. Once gone to the background the window is readily lost and without pulling the entire application to the front (such as clicking on the dock icon) you won’t readily find it again.

Other major suckiness for those of us on limited laptop screens is iChat’s total disregard for real estate. There’s no way to consolidate windows easily so beefy chat windows rapidly cover each other. Chat rooms and group chats make it much worse since the window sprouts a drawer that uses even more screen (and yes, you need the drawer to tell who is in the group chat).

Finally, there are various things that would help immensely. If iChat could be set to not notify on new messages in a chat room without turning off individual message notications one could work without leaving the chat being free to scroll through the buffer later without annoying chirps and dock icon hoping while trying to do other things. iChat should scrub the clip board so that huge text from outside iChat isn’t accidentally pasted into chats. iChat should also give the user some idea of how long the message they are typing is allowed to be without just reporting that the message was too long at time of sending. This error should be totally avoidable.

iChat is an app that I shake my fist at daily. I find it handy and hate it fiercely. I have tried numerous other AIM chat clients and none get to the general level of utility of iChat. Perhaps at some point Apple will decide that whizzy features are neat but that fixing the app is more important.

For the record, I don’t use iChat’s audio or video chat functions with any regularity at all but it sure would be nice to be able to disable A/V functionality without quiting iChat entirely. It’s one thing to get a spurious message from someone, another entirely to get invited to A/V chat at inopportune times.

A Brush with Public Health

January 26th, 2004

Today I had need of an MMR (Measles-Mumps-Rubella) vaccinations booster to satisfy my next employer’s requirements. Unfortunately vaccinations are getting to be increasingly hard to find at private offices since insurance companies often don’t pay for vaccinations. That combined with the fact that vaccines are perishable has lead many private doctors to no longer stock vaccines in their offices. The result: more and more people are relying on public health departments to provide this essential preventative service.

For my vaccination I decided to use the very same public health department that I have referred patients to in the past. The result was really somewhat eye opening. I’m not sure what I expected but this is what I found.

The Clark County Public Health District has a late 60s institution architecture with spoke like hallways leading to each wing. I followed the signs to the vaccination office in “Wing 7.” I found a line that stretched halfway down the hall. I arrived at midmorning and heard people grumbling about being in line for over 2 hours. Apparently things were better when I arrived. I was soon faced by the line patrolling clerk who insisted that I had to fill in the box for Medicaid number with “none” even though I had already checked the box that indicated that I did not have Medicaid.

I was shuffled from window to window, from clerk to clerk. I paid and was shuffled to another clerk before being told to sit down. During my shuffling I watched the marginally literate wrestle with paperwork and being repeatedly sent back to do it again, delaying their care further. After 30 minutes of sitting I was called, injected and released. In that time, I watched families that had been passed over many times continue to wait. Then it became clear to me, those families spoke only Spanish. There appeared to be a single nurse handling vaccination for that crowd despite their presence in overwhelming numbers and multiple nurses handling injections for English speakers. The other thing that struck me was the patience they showed. The kids sat quietly. Some colored, some played. The parents and sometimes clearly grandparents sat waiting despite however long it had been.

I took a couple of impressions away from the experience. Healthcare for the poor sucks, just getting vaccinations was much more grueling than it should have been. I was in and out relatively quickly because I had a simple single vaccination issue to solve. I’m also currently unemployed and have the time to kill, but what about parents with jobs? Do they lose a day of valuable work to get the vaccinations? What kind of decision is that to have to make? Make the rent or get the kids their shots. There has to be a better way to deliver this.

The other thing I noticed was that despite bilingual signage, Telemundo and taquerias on every corner here in Las Vegas, hispanic immigrants remain second class citizens. I don’t advocate pandering to this population but it gives one pause when the President is pushing all new rules making it easier for the poor to come from their home countries to be poor here. Sorry, no conclusion just food for thought.

Another technology rant to follow soon.

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