Monday, May 24, 2010

JMO - Lest we forget

For all the talk from British Petroleum (BP) about their cleanup effort, which is more a public relations effort about an environmental disaster, both the spill and cleanup, than anything, just follow the news stories to see the truth and reality behind their statements, we shouldn't forget that the investigation of the blowout which created this mess has discovered it was initiated by a BP manager on the drilling rig at the time Transocean was finishing the drilling.

Remember this well wasn't a production well, but was in the last stage of drilling the well before the well was sealed and the drilling rig was replaced with a production rig and oil was extracted from the well. The last stage was to out a temporary seal in the well to keep gas and oil from accidently blowing out the wellhead. Transocean was following protocols to insert cement and drillng mud into the well when a BP manager asserted control of the work and discontinued the work to insert the last plug.

The last plug was the last line of defense against a blowout. We know now Haliburton installed a bad cement case and liner will allowed gas to leak into the well. We know that the blow out preventer (BOP) was not the standard one and had been extensive modified, none of which were in the plans with the engineers on the rig at the time of the blowup to know the BOP wasn't standard and as we learned not fully funcitioning. A critical part just didn't work due to dead battery in the BOP. These were decisions and actions by BP people.

All of the last minute mistakes were by BP people which caused the blowout. Even with the bad cement case and liner, the required plugs and BOP would have worked to stop the gas leak from rising to the surface and igniting the rig, cause the well to snap and the rig to sink. It was BP. No one else and nothing else.

And for all their talk of helping solve the problem and fix the damage, it's not enough they squandered safety proceedures for profit. That's the truth and reality here. And when faced with the consequences, they're denying it and arguing they're doing good. Except it's too little too late. We should't stop reminding them of that. Our water and now our land destroyed by their arrogance and greed.

And all the money they spend on the cleanup and restoration won't undo that, the truth behind what happened. Personally I think Congress should ban them from working in the US and ban them from selling any petroleum products in the US. We need to send the message and give the energy companies the reality we won't stand this kind of conduct against our country and people.

But with all the money BP has given to Congressional officials, that won't happen, because our Congressional representatives are gutless people with no backbone. Even our President is backstepping with talk against BP, which makes me wonder how much his campaign money received from BP and how many ties he and his administration has to BP. What's he afraid of? BP or the American people?

Obviously the former more than the latter. And while BP spreads its money more and farther than its oil, elected officials shouldn't forget it's the American people who vote. We may not win but we have a personal say and a collective voice.

Monday, May 17, 2010

JMO - Apple User Forums

Apparently the folks moderating Apple's forums don't have a sense of humor or a sense of decency, at least not when moderating posts to the forum. And granted sometimes I can get rather explicit and cryptic with words about something, and likely should, as I try to practice but don't always do, exercise more diplomacy, and remember everyone's grandmother's advice, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all."

Except when you encounter buggy software, and yes Apple's applications aren't immune from glitches bugs and quirks, and you should have a right to express your frustation and even anger at the company. But the moderators seem to exercise editorial rights which seems to exceed common sense, not editing sentences or phrases but simple, inoffensive words. And what caused the the words.

I've been working with Number in iWork09 on the snowpack data for Paradise in Mt. Rainier NP (see map of Mt. Rainier weather sites - the site called Paradise is actually a few miles southeast of the visitors area of Paradise). I've been working with the 1984-2010 NRCS data for the site to compare 2010 to the longterm data.

Well, after getting the data into Numbers I started graphing some of it and encountered several small problems and one big irritating problem. I discovered the manual is good at explaining, or sort of anyway, how to do things, but not how to fix things when they don't go as described or you have problems, like labels disappearing and not available no matter how you set the options.

And then I discovered Number is very slow when working with graphs for some datasets, like 366 days of 3-5 years of data. Sometimes you have to wait a few seconds to 10-15 seconds to see any change, and whatever you do, don't click too often or move the mouse too much, it remembers what you did and in a burst will do that, much to your expression of WTF.

Well, on one post I made the parting comment that with respect to some things, Numbers sucks. The moderator replaced the work sucks with astericks (those shift-8 things "*"). He left the sentence but blanked the word. Sucks isn't offensive and when asked I received the terms of service notice about offensive language. So it made me wonder if I had asked, "What does Numbers and a vacuum cleaner have in common?", what would he have done.

But the moderator, in no uncertain terms reminded me of Apple's policy on the forums and if I persist, which I won't, I could be prohibited from posting to the forum. I pay Apple good money for their products, their applications and other stuff, like a mobile me account, and as a customer, I have some rights to speak my mind when, where and how appropriate. But apparently die-hard Apple people only want good things said about their stuff on their forums.

But have you seen and read the forums? They're full of problems. And we're supposed to be happy people we have problems with their products and then smile and nod it's ok, and please can you find an answer to my problem, often created by your own hardware or software? Get real Apple moderators.

I read Steve Job's recent diatribe about Flash, not putting it on the iPad, and in my view, while he had some good points, most of what he said was bullshit. He can speak for Apple as if we want him to speak for us using his products? Well, that too is cow pasture material too. This is off the point in a way, but still relevant to the idea of free speech.

I'm not against being decent, I have rules for my own blogs, but I won't necessarily edit anyone's post for words I feel are offensive but aren't by any measure of decency. Anyway, everything is done and I've moved on. The moderator, right or wrong, made his point, and I learned, not just what not to say but that tolerance on the Apple forum is relative.

And above all things, don't criticize the hardware or software, even if it is deserved or earned on their part.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Dear Seattle Mariners

I'm a Seattle Mariner Fan. Have been for about 20 years now. And after several years of very losing seasons and one really good one last year, this year was expected to be better than the 88 wins of last year. But so far, as of today May 15th, their season sucks. And they're becoming a team other teams love to play because they'll give you the game, either by not being very good or by giving you opportunities.

So to that end, after listening to them blow another game in the 8th or 9th inning, this time to Tampa Bay, I have to say:


The team brought in some excellent players to add to the excellent players they kept from last year, and to date, few of them come close to their career average, let alone play well. They've been swept 3 series this season, so far. They've blown so many leads by inept pitching, it's pitful. They have one of the lowest team batting average in baseball. They lost to teams with losing records, not once but a series, and even a sweep.

They are a good team, on paper. But on the field, right now, they suck. Early in the season they were 9-7 and now (today), they're 14-22, that's 5-15 for the last 20 games. Many of those winnable when they were leading going into the 8th inning and often the 9th inning, only to lose with bad pitching or fielding.

I'm tired of hearing, like today, another game lost on ineptness of either the pitching, batting or fielding. They're better and should do better, and if they want fans the rest of the season they had better start playing the game they're paid handsomely to play. You're paid for performance, yours, and the team's.

So how about it? Can you do that, win more than one of every 3 or 4 games? We built you a ballpark. We pay for the tickets. And we cheer for you. It's time you returned the work we expected and you promised.

Update.-- Sunday the 16th and true to form, they blew a 1-0 lead in the 7th inning and the lead in the 8th inning. In the last two games, Chone Figgins has hit into double plays with runners in scoring position which would have helped the Mariners tie or win the game. He Kotchman and other players are consistently hitting 50-100 points below the career average.

This includes hometown favorite Ken Griffey Jr., who somehow needs to take himself out of the game. He may be good for the moral of the team and fans, but he's not producing anything beyond a triple-A player and the team would do better if they had one who could actually play the field too, which Griffey can't very much anymore. I like Jr. but he's not worth part of the team's chance to get and do better.

They start tomorrow with a 14-23 record, after a 2-4 road trip. The record so far in bunches of 8 games is, 2-6, 7-1, 2-6, 2-6 and 1-4 in this period. Not the promises from last year's record and this year's hope to compete in the American League West division. They can overcome that, but at 9 games below .500, they had better find some offense very soon or they'll be, as they have been 4 of the last 5 years, out of the race by the All-Star break.

We'll know the management's view of the team then when they start shopping some of their best players to contenders, like Cliff Lee, Chone Figgins, and so on. And then promise 2011 will be better, like we've heard the last 5 years. It will be interesting, but I'm not holding my breath. Hoping and watching, yes. Expecting? No.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

NPR - Music Project

Last month a friend of mine asked me to catalog the 700 albums I have. They've been in the rental storage for years now, properly boxed and stored. I transferred some of them to Digital Audio Tapes (DAT's) years ago after buying two Digital Audio Tape (DAT) decks. I later bought a studio CD-RW (Read/Write) to copy the DAT's to CD. A DAT hold 120 minutes compared to a CD's 74-80 minutes.

The project moving the records to DAT then stopped at 75 (2-3 records per DAT), and none were copied to CD's, but I used the CD-RW to make one-off CD's or copy CD's for friends. I have about 850+ CD's, the latter a very easy task to sync the two CD's (player and CD-RW) to make 1:1 copies. This year I finally decided to put the CD's and some of the records into iTunes, to use the Mac for music when working in the office.

I have a pair of bookshelf speakers from the stereo in the office, but using the Mac when working is easier. Except you have to get the CDs into iTunes, which, while simple, is time consuming. So far I have 370 of them in iTunes. I'm not sure I'll put all of them in, but it's a good goal. And if you want to know, they're going in as mp3 files. I can always reimport them as .wav flles, and a computer audio sound system, while good, is only good.

Well, I finally got the catalog done, available here (PDF) if you're interested. Not much really there except 40 or so years of collecting. It was interesting looking back at it to see what I bought out of interest, a song or two, or the artist. Some are really "What was I thinking?" moments.

But now I have a list of about 24 albums to get into iTunes for my friend's project of getting as many of the 1970's and 80's music into iTunes. Daunting for sure, but to date she has nearly 35,000 songs in iTunes, about 10 times more than I have and even will have after getting what records each of us wants and the CD's into iTunes.

And now the real work is ahead, just transferring and copying, or so I thought. I discovered my stereo has aged a bit. It's a great stereo, but the pre-amp has issues with the phono input with the AC hum (pre-amp power supply), interference and cross-channel noise which is inherent in it's design (a Hafler DH-110) not isolating the phono input from other channels and shielding the power supply.

So, researching pre-amplifiers, I found one to replace it. It's ordered so I can completely reconfigure my stereo system, described here", where all the analog imput/outputs including the TV cable box and DVD-RW will go through the new pre-amp and all the digital and optical input/outputs will go between the studio DAT and CD-RW and the consumer DAT and CD player.

And I'm getting a specific phono-amp which isolates the turntable from pre-amp through a standard analog input, or into the computer using the USB output. This will allow recording the records to DAT, CD or into the Mac and then iTunes. But that turned into just the start of things.

I found my Acoustic Research (AR) 12 speakers (new in 1980) had nearly blown the woofers. The outer ring suspension has simply deteriorated where the speaker sounded like they were eating oatmeal. They're fixed with new woofers and sounding great as ever. I probably will have to look at replacing the mid-range and twitter speakers but they're still sounding good.

Someone suggested simply buying new speakers since the AR-12's are 30 years old. Well in 1980 they were $500 a pair (AR-11's were $750 and AR-10 pi's were $1,000 a pair), and in today money and quality the AR-12's would cost $1,500-2,000 to replace, and still only get the same audio quality. Replacing in the individual (6) speakers costs about $500.

Besides I really love the sound of the AR-12's. And so the music project is getting back on track, and I'll be recording the albums in 2-3 weeks. And Murphy's Law is still alive and well, living in my home and life.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

JMO - Absence

You know the old sayings, "Absences makes the heart grow fonder.", and "How can I miss you if you never go away?" Well, it seems to me there simply is too much interpersonal communication and not enough simple privacy anymore. It's about being yourself away from everyone else and not always wanting, let alone needing, human contact every moment of the day.

But it seems the technology and social networking companies are pushing the opposite. You can't sneeze without telling someone through instant messaging (and believe me they'll invent the iPhone app to detect sneezes) and someone saying, "Geshundheit!" in return. Like you don't have enough people around you saying it? You need people miles away saying it?

It's not like the companies already know more about you that you know about yourself.

Google tracks everything you do with them and more.

The NSA listens to telephone traffic and watches the Internet traffic of everyone through the telecommunications companies.

Your ISP records all your e-mail, browser history and the like.

The on-line companies you buy from keep records of your purchases and share your purchasing interests with other companies (for a fee of course, profitting off of you).

Your computer is storing everything you do, and hackers are potentially stealing it along with your identity and files.

The FBI can exercise a sneak and peek warrant and implant real-time monitoring and transmitting equipment in your computer to watch your computer work.

All that and now you can share it with the world, friends, family, co-workers, and so on and even people you never met, will ever meet or know, and probably wouldn't even share a beer with if you ever met them. Why?

I'm not against sharing. Your work, your life, your love, and even your passions, interests and values. But where does it end and you need to simply unplug away from it all, and then to find you're still plugged into the world by your absence. Even not communicating anymore is communicating, but then you'll be asked why you're not communicating.

I wont' suppose in the future, if it hasn't already happened, we'll communicate memorial services by PDA or cellphone, talking of the deceased like they're on-line with us, but only missed because they're not replying anymore. Have we forgotten, death is our final message, and we do that alone?

And all the technology and communications won't change that or our feelings about them. It doesn't need technology, only simple human communications. Ourselves just being ourselves, our heart, mind, soul and spirit. Nothing else, nothing added, and nothing subtracted.

You don't need technology for that, and it's all about what's private in yourself, something no body can take or steal.

JMO - Makes me wonder

I swear, listening to the pundits and even members of Congress, it makes me wonder if they ever think before talking, let alone think. Yeah, it's the old adage they like to hear themselves talk, and really don't care if anyone really listens, let alone care, about what they're saying.

But there are quotes that clearly show the light is on but no one is (mentally) home. Like?

This one from a prominent public person in support of the new Arizona Immigration law, "Did you know that all Islamic terrorists are Muslims?" Really, he said that. And worse he was talking about racial profiling, forgetting Islam isn't a race or ethnic identity but a religion, like Christianity, Buddhism, Juddaism, Taoism, etc. And there are people at home going, "Yeah, right!!" with a raised glass of beer.

This one is really an Aflac Duck "Huh?" moment. The best thing you can do is shake your head and walk away, fast. Except this guy is a member of Congress no less. Some voters elected him on his statements. Fuck the truth anymore, just espouse what you want the truth and reality to be and they'll believe you, enough to vote for you.

It wouldn't have been any different if he had said, "All Catholic and Protestant terrorists in Ireland are Christians." It's an obvious, meaningless, redundant statement. How outraged would Christians be if he had said that? Or would they see the stupidity of the statement and the idiocy of the person who said it?

Or would they be expected to be understanding and forgiving because it was just political rhetoric and he really didn't mean it? But in this case, you could tell from this expression and the tune and tone of his words that he not only believed it but wants to use it to disriminate against the vast majority of Islamic people of all races and ethnicity.

While we advocate and protect the freedom of speech in this country, the responsibility is on the individual to ensure their speech aren't word of hate or incite violence. We are responsible for our own words, for their truth and reality. We are responsible for the consequences of our words.

That's the cost and price of free speech. The words of this public person are irresponsible, and should be challenged not just on the face of them, but the intent and spirit of them. It may be free to him, but not to those who have to live with them when people take them to heart against them.

That's not what America is about, and not what we value as Americans.