October 2007 Archives

Why hasn't Active X withered on the vine ?


It seems that occasionally I am faced with the prospect of working with sites which defiantly use Active X objects to interact with a web browser. In this case the guilty party would be the niche audience of Vector Vest market timing algorithm. I would venture to guess they may only get < 10,000 page views per day. Of course these sites beg and implore end-users to use M$ IE. I like millions of other people do not use IE. Why would developers deliberately build a platform which only works with one web browser?

Well, the flippant remark would be ignorance. Perhaps they get kickbacks directly from the Redmond Woolly mammoth? Who knows. The more likely scenario is laziness. I would venture to guess, that writing objects using the Gecko rendering engine is no more difficult than writing ActiveX objects.

I am not a web developer, so I welcome feedback from those of you who are adept in writing these applications. If I am not mistaken Active X was the answer to JavaScript. The goal for Java and JavaScript was "write once" platform agnostic. Does anyone know the goal of ActiveX ? One can only guess.

Well, I suppose I could run Xen or some other emulator and run an instance of Windows. Clearly overkill for one application that I'm only likely to use for another few weeks. I could run a makeshift box and install XP. Nope don't want to do that either.

It seems that Active X has been an Achilles Heel in the Linux Community for quite awhile. Judging from the aforementioned link, KDE and GNOME (specifically Mono) developers have been sniping at each other over the broken and general disrepair of ActiveX.

More updates to follow.

This conversation was done entirely on the Treo650. Both David and I were outfitted with headsets and microphone booms. Unfortunately, the conference room was air conditioned so there was a fair amount of airborne noise in the raw recording.

It seems that I have also managed to avoid the awful chipmunk affect of the Odeo Flash Player. Ahh, life is grand.
I used Audacity to remove the background noise, so the audio sounds more clear. The noise removal module provided with Audacity is quite good, I did use it gingerly. There is some distortion, but I am reasonably pleased with the end-product.

Download Mp3(70.56min || 17MB)
Download Ogg (70.56min || 21MB)


Countdown to 3rd Dan - Revisited

The exam went very well. I had prepared for a very intense seminar and an equally exhausting black belt exam. The seminar was excellent, we started a bit later than usual, but it was well worth the wait. There were some new faces, which always makes for a more interesting experience. Kwan Jang Nim Saul Kim emphasized the meaning of application behind the basics and particularly hip rotation.

We were asked to execute the Bassai form in reverse, certainly not something that I have ever done previously. Bassai has roughly 42 movements, and many students have difficulty executing the cobra form in the traditional manner. This is what makes seminars special and important. You never know what will be asked of you :) Unfortunately, we did not get an opportunity to practice Ho Sin Sul (personal protection), but I am certain we will make up for it during our next seminar.

The black belt exam was less intense than the previous exam (which I witnessed but did not participate). I was one of five Dan members which were scheduled to test. I was the only person testing for 3rd Dan (Sam Dan). Kwan Jang Nim asked me to execute Gicho - Hyung Sam Bo, Pyung Ahn Sa-Dan, Pyung Ahn Oh - Dan, and Naihanchi Ee Dan. I executed the forms well. The breaking also went fairly well.
I executed a Kap-Kwan (back fist) and Ee Dan Ahp Chakee (jump front snap kick).

Of course I have photos and short video clips to share. You can find them in the usual places. More later.

Countdown to 3rd Dan


I have been logging 10 mile bike rides for the last 3 months. In that time I have amassed roughly 130miles. My hope is that the road work will help my stamina for my upcoming exam. Judging from the last seminar, I will likely be in for a very long day on Saturday. I fully expect to be exhausted but invigorated at the same time.

If you're local and wish to check out a black belt exam, drop me a scribe and I'll share the details. I will likely have pics of the event in the usual places.

Intelligent Design - Redux


Durable holding cases are a precious commodity. Anyone who uses smartphones (ie Treo, Blackberry, etc) can attest to the fact that a scratched display lense spells doom. It is quite costly to replace the crystal. The glass surface is especially important on a Treo, as it deploys a touch surface for command execution. Yet another reason to love a Treo ;) Perhaps the one detractor for most smartphones is the mass of the device or its footprint.

Well, Swedish company Krusell provides a very popular case to protect your trusty Treo and other smartphone models. In fact, I have purchased at least three of their cases in the last couple of years. Unitl recently, I had been pleased with their lifetime warranty. What has caught my ire is their MultiAdapt feature. It essentially is a piece of injection molding riveted/stamped to the vinyl case. It appears that Multiadapt is a separate company which leases this feature to various OEMs. The problem with the Multiadapt are numerous. The plastic molding has very sharp corners as shown in the inset pic above. You do not really need an engineering degree to understand the two sharp corners will likely propagate cracks under high stress.

The high stress is exacerbated by the weight of the smartphone and the constant insertion/removal of the smartphone device. These Krusell cases become useless once the multiadapt feature fails. The failure mode is quite repeatable. I have gone through two cases.
While I appreciate Krusell standing behind its products and offering the lifetime warranty.. Who really wants to ship their case to Sweden, each time it fails? Time is money, so nothing is free.

Why not force your supplier (ie Multiadapt) to make a more robust design? Surely, the investment in a new injection molding would be simply the cost of fabricating new tooling. At the volume these guys are fortunate to be experiencing the investment hurdle (ROR) probably would be minimal. Just a guess.

Hopefully, I can help improve their product. I will contact their CEO and Sales & Marketing VP.

Phife's Life with Diabetes


I had no idea that one of the founding members of ATCQ. The Phifer was always one of the more interesting personalities of the crew. Though he is best known for his lyrics on "Check The Rhyme" aka routines on Linden Blvd. I am sure that most did not know that he had been suffering with Type I Diabetes since the early 90's.

I have a fairly intimate understanding of Diabetes as my Pops was also stricken with the disease, which occurred shortly after severe scar tissue formed within his kidneys. Luckily Papi was able to undergo a successful kidney transplant which changed our lives. It appears that Phife is also on the list for a transplant, I do hope he finds a donor soon.

Convenience of Ignorance

Now that I have fixed my firewall and asterisk box, I have a bit more time to share a few thoughts. Yes, baseball season is over and I must suffer through yet another miserable off-season. More on this in future entries.

As some of you know, I recently did some recruiting at my alma-mater, Florida A&M University. Though, I do not visit Tallahassee often, it is refreshing to walk down memory-lane and talk with the engineering students and some of my old professors.
Having your company send you on such trips is priceless. Actually, my previous trip to the Florida panhandle was in 2005 for my cousin's graduation. Prior to that I had not stepped foot on campus in nearly seven years.

During this trip, I spent the majority of my time at the College of Engineering. Our college is unique, in that we have a joint program with Florida State University. Both schools supply professors, equipment and research dollars. I do not believe that there are other programs with a similar setup. The students seemed to very interested in the automotive industry, which seemed a bit peculiar considering the current state of the North American auto industry. Perhaps it was the fairly strong brand of my current employer, who knows.. I'll share more thoughts on this too.

During my brief stay at the College of Engineering, I quickly began to see that much had changed in the way that engineering students view computers. Granted I was only in the lab for a short while, but it has become obvious that UNIX is marginalized.

Gone are the days of the beloved pizza boxen (ie SUN Sparcs). There was always a sense of discovery which was part of the learning. Many of us spent countless hours in the lab building a web presence using GNU editing tools (vi, pico, emacs). In the midst of learning about building painfully simple web sites, we taught ourselves how to navigate the Solaris OS. Learning by doing was the word of the day. A fellow student once, showed me how to write a C program which could grep the apache access logs and report useful information about who was viewing my resume. None of us were Comp Sci students. We were just curious engineers with a keen fetish for problem solving. There was simply no interest in the convenience of ignorance.

The trend certainly has changed. The students which I observed did not seem to be enthusiastic about learning anything outside their chosen field of interest. Moreover, the curiosity is stifled by an administration that is beholden to proprietary computing solutions. How can the students discover anything when it's provided on a silver platter ;) Additionally, proprietary solutions simply discourages the type of exploration that was so prevalent during my undergrad experience. Yes, I know that Sun-OS was not free nor open, but it provided a nice framework for exploration.

Where else could you export your workstation graphics display upon some unsuspecting student? What about concatenating audio files to a different computer across the room? Sophomoric indeed, but quite fun and it was learning. You cannot do that easily on a Windows box. You find any of this in some GUI. I really have to tip my cap to the former director of computing Dave Kuncicky. He really encouraged students and faculty to experiment and tinker. During his tenure('95-98'), he helped build out the UNIX infrastructure and set a very high precedent. In fact, I'm sure that some of the older Solaris NIS/YP authenticating boxes are still running at the College.

I suppose the engineering students' behavior reflects the vast majority of computer users. The average user simply wants to use the computer as a tool to accomplish a task, not as a learning mechanism. Heh, who has time to learn. Heck, you really don't have to learn anything as Google has already indexed it for you.

So, what is a technical mind to do? You look for opportunities to capitalize on the ignorance. Create value and teach when it is appropriate. There will always be money to be made, while this blissful ignorance exists.

Ohio Linux Fest 2007

Couple weeks ago, I attended the Ohio Linux Fest in Columbus, OH. Unfortunately, I spent just one day at the conference. I drove up with one of my buddies, and we got hoodwinked by some incorrect Mapquest driving instructions. I really need to invest in a real GPS system. I completely forgot to bring my Delorme Earthmate GPS, I have not road tested with gpsd on my Debian Etch notebook. I suppose that in a pinch, I could have used the mobile Google Maps, but I am not particularly happy with the inevitable timeouts that seem to plague the EDGE network. So I toughed it out with Mapquest, and I was told to make a right, when I was supposed to turn right. The detour cost me about 30min. The ride was about 3hrs.

Upon my arrival I eagerly immersed myself in the goodness that is Linux ;)
The first person I ran into was Jon Maddog Hall, who briefly chatted with me as he was running to his next session.

I attended the following sessions:

  • Puppet admin tool
  • GNOME conduit
  • Birds of a Feather - Asterisk
  • Computing off the Grid - Jon Maddog Hall
  • MythTV - Jeff Price (Novell)
  • Software Freedom - Bradley Kuhn

I was also fortunate to run into a Django developer who was gracious enough to help me hack up a script to solve a nagging problem. I have attended five Linux conferences and I generally prefer shows which encourage discussion among the participants. OLF reminds me of the now defunct Atlanta Linux Enthusiast (ALE) show, which actually was my first Linux conference. Although, there were vendors, the main focus was the participants, there was no cost for attendance. The conference promoters allowed people to pay an optional fee in exchange for some special conference goodies (ie official conference shirt, lunch, nametag).

I especially liked Maddog's talk, MythTV, and Kuhn's keynote. In fact, I was given the mic to ask a question during Kuhn's keynote. Hopefully, I can get the audio and share it with you..

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This page is an archive of entries from October 2007 listed from newest to oldest.

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