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a blog by ken pardue

Archive for August, 2005

“New Orleans Faces Certain Death!!!! … click here for free video”

Tuesday, August 30th, 2005

I really dislike the media, sometimes worse than others. CNN has really disappointed me over the past 24 hours in their coverage of the hurricane striking Louisiana and Mississippi. It seems like the only thing that is important is sensationalizing the entire affair. I understand that they get greater ratings (and paydays) by maintaining viewership during crisis situations, but then you have headlines like this:

  • “Man wanders New Orleans, lost, after his his wife was killed when she was torn from his grasp as their home split in half…. click here to view video”
  • “And the unfortunate thing is, we don’t know how many fatalities there are.”
  • “The latest storm video… The aftermath… Plus, your stories and photos. Now at CNN.com”
  • “Meanwhile, in Baghdad, members of one Louisiana National Guard unit in its last week of deployment are just now learning that they don’t have homes to come back to.”
  • “A wife’s desperate journey with her husband’s corpse”
  • “An old man in a chaise lounge lay dead in a grassy median as hungry babies wailed around him.”
  • “In some areas, gun-toting citizens took to the streets to try to restore order.”
  • “New Orleans resembled a war zone more than a modern American metropolis on Tuesday”
  • “The Superdome is taking on water

The Superdome is taking on water? That makes it sound like the thing was a ship going down at sea! The truth is: a small, two-meter hole formed in the roof and drenching rain came in. The quote before that? Tastelessly used in a rapidly produced commercial with the tagline “When the weather is the news, trust CNN.”*

I mean, come on… that’s neither helpful nor informative. That said, sadly I’m sitting here watching, guess what? CNN.

For a bit of attention to the actual event, it looked like things were actually improving for the city: the hurricane turned slightly to the east right before it hit the coast, sparing New Orleans from the worst. The storm passed, and they were still in the progress of determining the damage when several of the pumps failed and the levees broke in two locations. Right now, they’re predicting it to get worse before it gets better, and one option that I just heard them discuss was using cruise ships to help evacuate the refugees.

An unfortunate thing is that my half-sister, Tami, lives in Westwego, just outside of New Orleans, and we haven’t heard from her since before the weekend. They showed some scenes from Westwego, and there wasn’t much left: just the tops of roofs sticking above the flood waters. I realize the odds are decidedly in her favor of making it through unscathed, but it would be nice if we could get in touch with her.

*Closed captioning sponsored in part by FREEDhEM™, the only one application hemoroidal cream.

Katrina is Coming

Sunday, August 28th, 2005

I had no idea until I checked the news this morning that Katrina has been rather rapidly forming into a massive hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico, and is playing a mother-nature sized game of chicken with New Orleans. I personally live in Central Louisiana, but that’s still close enough to cause alarm, especially since Katrina is the 4th worst hurricane on record.

So, I finally had a good motivator to clean up the junk left on the porch and out by our storage shed left over from building the bathroom, as well as do some other tidying up tasks. I also took the opportunity to rebuild a part of the storage shed, which was getting so rotten that the awning over it was in danger of falling. Luckily we had some 2×4’s left over from the bathroom, and I sturdied it up for the coming winds.

Hopefully my next post will reveal not too much damage has come to our area, and even more so, that New Orleans will miraculously not have filled up like a soup bowl.

More than Meets the Vocal Talent

Friday, August 26th, 2005

I just found an exciting news article on the web regarding the upcoming live-action Transformers movie. I’m not sure how credible of a resource a site called “AskMen.com” would be, but it’s the first site I’ve seen to confirm, in this case by the co-writer, that the return of some of the original voices from the series may be in the movie:

Co-writer Kurtzman has acknowledged rumors about a return of the show’s original voice cast, and has also suggested that the film isn’t necessarily a project that requires the casting of A-listers. This leaves open the possibility that Frank Welker (the voice of Megatron, Mirage, Rumble, and Soundwave) and Peter Cullen (who gave breath to Ironhide, Optimus Prime and Nightstick) could return to resume their old roles.

A disturbing trend?

Thursday, August 25th, 2005

I wonder if anyone has noticed the recent increase in air travel accidents? Over the past month, there have been five major accidents:

On August 2, an Air France Airbus A340-400 overshot a runway in Toronto, everyone miraculously survived.
On August 6, a Tunisia Tuninter crashed off the coast of Sicily, killing 16.
On August 14, a Helios Airways Boeing 737 crashed north of Athens, Greece, killing 121.
On August 16, a West Caribbean charter aircraft crashed in Venezuela after the pilot reported both engines died.
On August 23, a TANS Peru aircraft, another Boeing 737, crashed in the Peruvian jungle and split in two.

I know it’s coincidence, but that really makes August a bad month for air travel!

Geez it’s Hot!

Thursday, August 25th, 2005

I’m so glad to see the first tell-tale signs of autumn approaching: my yard is slowly becoming littered with pinestraw. I know that means autumn raking and making sure everything is prepared for winter, but certainly that’s less painful than this wretched, humid Louisiana heat! We’ve had temperatures flirting with (and exceeding) 100°F, and the last two days have had Severe Weather alerts for the heat index, which is reaching 110°F!

Come on, winter.

Considering a Mac

Tuesday, August 16th, 2005

Okay, I know it’s kind of a bugger considering how anti-Apple I’ve always been, but I’m actually considering getting a Mac in the coming years. What tipped the scale? Well, for me two things: the Apple migration to Intel chips, and Apple’s official introduction of a two-button mouse.

First, the migration to Intel chips will no longer mean that Apple is using a chip that, either perceptibly or actually, lags behind geek-household names such as Intel and AMD. Although clock speed really can’t be used as a determinant of a chip’s performance these days, it also means that Macs won’t be grossly under clocked. It opens up a whole new world for software cross-platform capability that Mac up until now has not had.

Secondly, I’ve always hated the fact that Mac only shipped with a single-button mouse. Those things were horribly unusable, and it has always brought down storms of shame on Apple in my eyes for a company that deems to value usability as one of its driving goals to provide a single button mouse. Those in the Mac camp will say that a single button mouse promotes greater usability because it forces developers to not be lazy and create a context menu for every function, forces them to think through their interface in greater detail. But that really never held much water with me. I know the Mighty Mouse isn’t sold standard (yet), but just the fact that Apple officially supports a two-button mouse means a lot to me.

For a bit of background, I haven’t used a Mac since I graduated from Louisiana College in 2002. The college had the lowest common denominator in PowerMacs for teachers, editors, and such, and a whole slew of multicolored iMacs for general student use, all running OS 9. They were about as useful as paperweights, and we would pass around paper clips (which were used to reboot the things) as so much starved junkies because our systems would lock up so much. A video parody of the “Switch” advertising campaign sums it up perfectly.

But now, five years after OS X hit the market, I find myself seriously considering it. As I look closer at Mac, I’m realizing that it really is exactly what I have been trying to see (or trying to create) in Linux. Let me name the reasons:

  • Apple is extremely open source friendly, having many of their components, including the core engine and HTML rendering engine, open sourced.
  • Apple provides high quality software to keep organized and simply get things done, including organizational tools, photo manager, video editor, audio editor, dvd viewer, dvd/cd burner, word processor, and so many others. Plus it produces PDF’s and syncs with your Palm, all out of the box! That seems refreshing from the savage land of Microsoft and certainly Linux OSes.
  • It’s extremely stable, being based on UNIX and all.
  • It provides features that have become so much vaporware from the Microsoft camp. Longhorn/Vista has been pushed back so much, and so many of its initial promises have been dropped or reduced. Whereas, Mac OS X has always had the fancy vector-based accelerated user interface, and has consistently released a point version of OS X nearly every year since OS X first came out, which has either met or exceeded Microsoft’s promises.
  • Further to the previous point, Apple has had features in its OS X software that Microsoft is only now beginning to clone. What’s more, Apple has gotten faster and faster, performance-wise, with every release, while Microsoft is only promising that you’ll have to have a computer manufactured new today in order to run Windows well when it comes out in a year.
  • Since Apple controls the hardware, it’s guaranteed to run well.
  • Apple seems to care about its customers more. I don’t see any other company so concerned with making sure that its monitor will work with the OS to produce accurate colors on screen as well as print, etc.
  • Apple is socially responsible. Do a search on Google for Microsoft and Global Environment, and all you get is some prattle about competitiveness.
  • Software a-plenty! Fedora ships with access to about 5,000 apps. Ubuntu just over 3,000 without digging into Universe. Mandriva and Suse, both about 4,000. Debian itself claims over 17,000. Mac OS sports the availability of more than 23,000 applications.

In short, Apple is a perfect blend of quality, philosophy, open standards, and function. No longer do I hold the opinion that the only thing that an Apple computer will do is look pretty. So, next Christmas or so after Leopard comes out and the Mactels are more firmly established, I’m looking to get myself an iBook or iMac.

My plan now is to slowly migrate myself to programs that are cross platform. That shouldn’t be so difficult since I’m an open source aficionado anyway. Specifically though, I noticed that there is a Mac version of Quicken, so next year when my MS Money 2004 gets too old to use, I’ll go with Quicken instead of Money. Heh, try finding a financial manager for Linux! The typical response is, and I kid you not, “Whoah, you have a financial life?” For my Flight Sim fix, I’m going to give X-Plane a whirl. It has always lagged far behind Microsoft in terms of visual quality, but the latest version has some very promising screenshots. X-Plane has never positioned itself as being a visual creature, instead focusing on realism of flight model, as noted on a recent news article posted on Apple. It’s catching up though.

Whew, sorry for the lengthy post (assuming anyone has read it).