August 2005 Archives

Family

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Since I've been home, I've had the pleasure of eating dinner with pops and also spending time with some of my uncles in Q-Boro. It's actually pretty comical to be around these guys. My oldest uncle is a World War II veteran who lost most of his hearing many years ago. He now is forced to wear woefully inadequate hearing aids. I have found that it can be quite challenging to have a normal conversation with him. Recently he asked me to increase the volume on his cell phone headset. I noticed that his Nokia headset was quite outdated. As I looked at the headset, it became painfully obvious that there was no intuitive means to increase the volume. So, I told him that the volume was already at its highest setting. Truth be told, my dear uncle really needs a better set of hearing aids.

A few years ago, I suggested the Miracle Ear, but it fell upon on deaf ears (pun intended). I also made the suggestion to his adult children, but they either didn't believe it necessary or did not wish to finance it. I don't know which case is more true. I currently live in another state, so I'm probably not the best person to force the issue. So I simply left it alone.

So anytime we speak with the eldest uncle, much effort is used to get your point across. Both of my uncles are ordained ministers and have many years of experience.

During our rare dinner together, I made sure that I told them that I greatly enjoy spending time together. As I get older, I realize that nothing is guaranteed, so it is wise to appreciate quality time with family.

American Pastime - Few Blacks

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There has been a notable shortage of African-American baseball players in recent years. I can think back to 1980's and there were several excellent black players at all positions.

For whatever reason, fewer young black athletes are choosing baseball as a primary sport. As a result fewer players are competing for spots into the major leagues. The problem is that as some of the established veterans (ie Sheffield, Jeter, Carl Everett, etc), enjoy some success in MLB, eventually they will opt for retirement. Who will replace them?

As far as I can tell, there are only a handful. In fact, most of them play for the Florida Marlins.

Philadelphia Daily News | 08/24/2005 | A DREAM GROWS IN COMPTON

NSBENet Guru

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Well, I participated in my first podcast, and I must say it was alot of fun. However, as with anything else, you cannot have pleasure without experiencing some pain. Our angst was realized with shyt scrape, err I mean Skype. It took roughly 1.5 hours for the moderator et al to 'google' a solution to recording all of the participants voices from the podcast. Additionally, the moderator was using XP, and discovered that the M$ sound encoding tools were inadequate for any encoding, so she grabbed audacity and we never looked back. What would we do without Open Source?

We will probably have to abandon skype, and use something like asterisk, as it appears to be a more robust platform for recording VOIP.

For those of you who wish to listen to the discussion, you can find it here. Please be advised that this was our first attempt, so the editing and such isn't really production quality, but it will get better. Eventually, we'll publish weekly talks and will setup RSS feeds on feedburner or something similar. For now, get the feed here.

If you have any helpful suggestions or comments, please do share.

BTW: NSBE is a professional/social, non-profit, student run, engineering organization that was quite helpful in preparing me for future engineering endeavors.

Extreme Calesthetics- Revisited

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As I prepare for the 2nd Dan exam in October, I'm taking every opportunity to train. Now that I'm home again, I decided to pay another visit to Pure Energy dojang. I was pleased that head instructor(Sa Bahm Nim), Tessa Gordon, and one of the other Dan members remembered my earlier visit. Very grateful for the opportunity to learn with them again.

I was told that we would have a light class, as many of her regular students take vacation in August.
Actually, I thought that I'd arrived late, as I recalled a 6.30p start. Unlike the first session, I decided not eat before class. I've learned that is always a wise choice. The session really was not any different from the previous one. The only exercise that we did not perform was jump rope. I probably did about 90 pushups, 100 kicks, and assortment of other body building exercises. I'm clear that if I were a regular student, that I would absolutely be in the best shape of my life. My abs would be ripped, triceps well-defined etc. Although, I also believe that Sa Bahm Nim has flashbacks from the 1988 Olympics.
I do look forward to training with them again very soon.

Airport musings

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I spent the part of my afternoon waiting for my flight to LGA, I have always been fascinated with the odd people you see. For instance, some random sista with locks sat down across from me. I glanced her direction wondering what she was about, I didn't find her especially pleasing to the eye, so I again buried my head in my book.

In a matter of a few minutes, she began to talk to herself. No she didn't have a bluetooth device or anything that resembled headset. She was just mumbling. I'm thinking, "Here we go... ". I again bury my head in the book. Later she makes a call to her mother, telling her how afraid she was of the weird people in the airport. She uttered some unsavoury stuff about Arabs and Jews. She kept repeating the fact that she was so scared, and had never been so frightened about a plane flight in her life. I believe she was a bit unstable, as she thought some people looked like terrorists. The b-o-m-b word was used in this conversation to moms. I thought, damn I home Mom has got it together so that she can calm her daughter.

Batman Begins

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While I was in Chi, I peeped the IMAX Batman Begins. Allow me to share my thoughts. Although, I'm not really a DC comics buff, I did appreciate the production effort. The cast was also top notch (Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, etc). Very capable storyline. Without giving away the film, the darkness or the sinister plot was done very well. You could really see the struggles or the humanistic qualities of the superhero. However, if you try to compare the cinematography or plot to say, Spiderman, I think you would agree that the Marvel Comics and Stan Lee are superior. Perhaps I'm a bit biased since, I have always been a huge Marvel Comicsfan.

Curiously, I didn't see any lead-in for the Boy Wonder nor Batgirl. So, if there is a sequel, it would probably focus on the arch enemies of Batman.

Go see the flick, you will enjoy it.

BTW: I'll be heading home to NYC in the next couple days, so if you want to meetup, drop me an email.

Maddening cleansing

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Spent the weekend in Chi-town hanging out with an old friend and also checked a Yankee game. Although the Yanks came out on the losing end 6-2, we did take 2 of 3 from the team with the best record in the AL.
I was also asked to assist my friend with innoculating some school laptops, which were running winXP. Certainly not my idea of fun. Considering the fact that the machines were full of adware, spyware, and trojans, it was clear that this would be a huge undertaking.

I believe that there were a total of 25 machines. It took roughly 1.5hrs to disinfect each machine. We followed a very convoluted process, in an attempt to avoid restaging(formatting the hard drive) each laptop.

Unix think tank disbanded

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I'm truly saddened to learn that the Unix research team at Bell Labs has formerly dissolved. Anyone that uses the internet owes a great debt to the founders of UNIX. As you powered the internet and was largely responsible for fostering the embryonic growth of the wide world web.

Before the era of the wide world web(circa 1977), the net was primarily a collection of machines owned by government researchers and later academic institutions. A collaborative effort existed between Bell Labs and the universities (ie MIT and Berkeley). Unix was written in C programming language, which was widely available at universities across the country. Bell Labs scientists, Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie were the chief architects of C and Unix.

Unfortunately, Unix would later splinter into various factions due to licensing and commercialization. The failure of the corporate players to resolve the licensing problems allowed M$ to discover the internet and perhaps more importantly planted the seeds for Linux.

Unix Review > UnixReview.com > going, Going, GONE!

Multiculturalism - The Panacea

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In the wake of the terrorist activities in London, critics have blamed the British government for permitting segregation. Some argue that by allowing 'ghettos' to form it tends to foster the sort of behavior that would lead to terrorism. While I know very little about England (aside from the fact that they were leaders of colonialism and imperialism), I can say that the US is filled with ghettos of all ethnicites. However, excluding the Oklahoma City tradegy, it is rare to see US citizens embrace terrorism and attack fellow Americans.

To be even more specific, I've seen the hoods (various cities across the US) where hopelessness has taken its toll. I have never witnessed black folks taking up explosives and demolishing buildings, etc. (aside:Make no mistake, the South Central episode were riots touched off by a grossly unjust legal system, but it was not terrorism. They are not the same. ) In the US., it is not uncommon for ethnic minoriites to live in close knit communities. This is due in large part to socio-economic conditions. So, I'm not sure that I would agree with the author, as he believes that gov'ts should force all its citizens to conform to the national norm (ie everyone should learn to speak the native language/customs, etc.). Who will enforce such a law? Would law enforcement randomly go out and find illegal aliens, and force them to learn the language? Sounds like a military state to me. If the US adopted these policies, it would create too many problems.

In my mind, multiculturalism, is not about assimilation, but more about people respecting the differences of others.
Methinks the author takes a myopic view of cultural differences. Additionally, it would set a very dangerous precedent if we began to harbor contempt for people simply because they are not indigenous to the local area.

Blogcritics.org: Multiculturalism: Nurturing the Enemy

FedEx furniture

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I stumbled across this site while perusing slashdot. It seems that FedEx was not too happy with the ingenious use of spare boxes. Very clever and pretty humourous too.

FedexFurniture.Com

House Cmte - DRM

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I will never understand why non-technical people are placed in postitions where they must evaluate technical phenomenon. Last week C-Span aired a session where members of P2P United answered various Senators who were tasked with policing the P2P companies in the aftermath of the Supreme Court ruling on Grokster. It was pretty amusing to listen to politicians who were obviously not very imformed on P2P or the decision.

Essentially, they were acting as mouthpieces for the RIAA and MPAA. On average, each senator was roughly 55-60 years old. Most of the representatives have never used high speed internet, let alone P2P software. So what were they doing asking questions of a technical nature? It's beyond my comprehension.

Paraphrasing the conversation - Representative from California, "What are you guys doing to stop and monitor porn?" Response from P2P united chair, "Same thing we've always done. It's very difficult for us to monitor every node of our network and sniff each indiviidual packet, as we have millions of customers. Not a very cost effective solution."

Representative retort, "Surely you guys can filter your network, I find it hard to believe that it's not feasible. Our children are at risk. What are you doing about piracy?" Mr. Adam Eisgrau Executive Director, P2P United response, "I assure you that filtering isn't feasible. Regarding DRM, I propose that we adopt a model of creative commons licensing by which the artist willingly shares the material..."

Naturally this is concept fell upon deaf ears. The representative bared their teeth and threatened group to change their ways or there would be severe repercussions. It seems that the politicians believe that the parents shouldn't raise their own children. Why should technologists be saddled with this responsibility too. If you do not want your child to view porn keep monitor there online activities. Actually, there are dozens of ways to accomplish this(ie web proxies, and other third-party software tools.)

Senate to Examine MGM vs. Grokster Ramifications

Another article of note is shown below.

House Eyes DRM Interoperability


Black Zombies (revisited)

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By now everyone should recognize that the youth are our future. Regardless of what the future happens to unfold, that generation will inherit it. I'm reminded that too many of our youth are confused and troubled. Last weekend, I spent a few moments talking to one of the young girls on the block near my tenants. The young girl was probably fifteen and was on Summer recess.

When I asked her about goals and aspirations, after high school, she talked about hanging out at the mall with her girlfriends. I asked her if she ever thought about going away to college. Her response was that I she never considered it. While I know that exposure and lack of role models are partly responsible for her dismal outlook, I'm very dissapointed because she happens to be one of the 'good' kids on the block. It seems that she is being raised by her aunt. There doesn't seem to be much parental support or guidance. Very distressing indeed.

I cannot stress enough that educating our young girls is paramount to saving our nation.

Weeded

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The city that never sleeps even keeps tabs on 'knoddy' headz. Imagine a listing of the best spots to visit in NYC when one is lifted. I wonder if Dave Chappelle had any input into the selections on the list.

Blogcritics.org: Pot City

Tang Soo Do chronicles

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Well I've been pre-occupied playing super nerd of late, I converted an old IBM Aptiva (AMD K6.2 300Mhz CPU) desktop, running win98, into a more fileserver running stable Debian Sarge. I also was asked to upgrade an older HP Pavilion running WinME to XP. Ran into a ridiculous Outlook Express messages restore problem. You gotta love M$ proprietary .dbx format. What a PITA. What can I say? Computing is my passion, and it keeps extra loot in my pockets.

Anyway, I digress. Actually, computers are not my only passion. Most of you already know that I'm an avid martial artist, specifically World Moo Duk Kwan Tang Soo Do(pronounced 'Tung not Tang'). Unfortunately, I've not been able to train with the same vigor as I would like because of my arduous grad school schedule. Nonetheless, I have been working out once per week. Now that Summer classes have ended I'm back on my three times per week work out schedule. Additonally, I do enjoy visiting other schools to supplement my learning. My instructors have begun to scrutinize my basics for proper execution and focus.

Where is the value?

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M$ seems to be looking for ways to invigorate its business model. I struggle to find anything that could be considered growth in their schema. In fact, one could argue that M$ hasn't delivered any compelling value proposition to the marketplace in quite sometime. They have been saddled with lawsuits, and have been preoccupied with DRM diversion. Oh yeah, they are also busy spreading FUD about open source software.

The long awaited vaporware product previously Longhorn(aka Vista) has been under development for close to three years. The launch date seems to slip with regularity. So, what is common place are constant patches(aka Service Packs) for XP. I seem to remember that NT received six service packs before XP was made available to the public. I estimate that we'll see at least four service packs for XP before Vista arrives sometime in 2008.

As I've stated many times previously, the closed-source, proprietary software development model simply doesn't permit frequent software releases. The finite number of engineers available to review the code, makes it next to impossible to modify the code and release a product without bugs.

Hip-Hop mayor

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Love him or hate him, Kwame Kilpatrick cannot be ignored. As the youngest person ever to become mayor, Kilpatrick has caused much controversy with what could be classified as youthful inexperience. Dismissing the fact that he is a fellow alum, I do believe his youthful vision is much needed in a city that is at least 10-15 yrs behind more successful cities( ie NYC, DC, and Atlanta).

He is allledged to roll with a large posse, (aka mayor security force), and well equipped tax payer financed Lincoln Navigator. Unfortunately, these negative items make for good TV and sells plenty of newspapers. However, not very much is said about Kwame's vision of a new Detroit. The problems are well chronicled, and tough choices must be made to stem the tides.

The mayor seems to have a clear vision on what it would take to reinvent Detroit. He also understands that the idea that old rust belt cities must establish new value propositions due to the ever changing global marketplace. As stated previously, the auto industry left Detroit long ago. Most of the industry is now overseas, are in remote suburban areas.
Kwame understands this dilemna all too well and has engaged some of the most brilliant minds to discuss and rectify the matter. However, that is rather boring and doesn't sell papers or really amount to great theatre.

For what it's worth, he placed second in the recent primaries, so he does have a shot for re-election in November. It seems that it will be two man race, Kwame vs. deputy mayor of David Archer's administration.
Although, I'm not a native of this area, I believe I have figured out the mindstate of the locals. Most of the residents here are unwilling to make tough choices. It's apparent that they enjoy living in yesteryear. The hope is that wishing away the problems of Detroit will be enough restore its luster. I'm clear that I won't be around to see the metamorphisis, that is if it does actually occur. One certainty, is that continuity is necessary, let Kwame finish what he started.


Are Things Happening in Detroit?

She Hate Me

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Now that school is out for the Summer, I'm taking advantage of the idle time by catching up on flicks that peek my curiosity. Finally got a chance to see Spike Lee's latest joint, She Hate Me.

Perhaps I'm not the proper dude to give a objective crtique of this film, as I'm a fan of all 40acre/Mule films. Well, I'll give it my best effort anyway. The storyline was a bit contrived as it deals with lesbians who wanted children, so they paied handsomely for the priviledge of getting impregnated by a willing male stud. Interestingly, most of the women chose the traditional method. Obviously they loved the 'd'.
From experience, I don't know any lesbians that go both ways. I suppose they wouldn't be called lesbians if they did ;)

I appreciated the role of the main character, the brotha basically lived out the fantasy of many men. Sex without the baggage of strings attached. All of his 'clients' presented him with a form that essentially waived any parental responsibility for the offspring. Without going into much detail the sperm race to finish line was absolutely hilarious.

In true Spike form, there is always a message involved. (Isn't this why we see his films anyway). There are many subliminal messages throught the film. Government corruption, social and sexual taboos, and racial stereotypes.
Suffice to say, that you should see the flick for yourself to formulate your good opinion about the film.

Aside: The main character, Anthony Mackie, is the younger brother of a young Xavier engineering prof I met some years back. Check out his site, Channel Zero.

Medicine with Open Source twist

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What if Open Source methods were applied to medicine discovery? It seems that major breakthrough medicines are stifled due to the hundreds of obscure patents that essentially force smaller pharmaceutical companies to scuttle essential research for possible cures to diseases like cancer.

I have already discussed in great detail the evils of improper patents and the litigous nature of software development, but let us take a moment to reflect on the harm that has already occured due to the inability for small companies to compete with huge Tier I pharmaceutical companies (ie Merck, Pfizer, and Lilley), as they do not have the huge litigation warchest required to protect against the inevitable patent violations.

Additionally, there is are many tropical diseases that are not likely to be cured because much of the research would need to be funded by mainstream companies. The irony is that the people of these more 'civilized' nations make up the majority population, and if allowed to be innovative their discoveries could significantly benefit their mainstream neighbors.

Proponents of this method of research, assert that open source would help level the playing field for developing nations, and help erradicate the stonewalling and corruption that often prevents necessary cures from becoming reality.

For those who are interested, the upcoming feature film, The Constant Gardener, addresses some of these concepts. While it doesn't specifically call into question, open source strategies, it does focus on corruption that leads to manipulations of 'so-called' developing nations.


OnTheCommons.org | Open Source Biomedicine

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This page is an archive of entries from August 2005 listed from newest to oldest.

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