Friday, May 24, 2013

on metric

i'm going to guess that the irony of patrick gallagher's response was not on purpose.

some background:

a petition, signed by almost 50k citizens was submitted to the site asking that the administration support national adoption of metric.

the reason standards are important is simply to make it easier for us to all work together.  i'm finding it a bit funny that an institute whose mission is to find good standards and promote them, and its director (who also serves as an undersecretary of commerce) makes an argument that resistance to unifying measurement standards is an issue of individual choice and basic freedoms.

shit... really?

well, this certainly isn't the first time a govermment agency has sold their bad idea by attaching a faux attack on freedom to it.  (ie, look dude, if you want to force feed metric on us, that means you hate fraydom. besides, i read somewhere that the french use metric. the french!) :-/

and because i find it difficult to believe this response was given with a straight face, i'll take a guess that this story is a plausible rationalization painted to mask the real reason.  it could have a lot more to do with the $10s ($100s?) of billions it will cost our economy in the short run to convert. i think to many of us, this *is* a good reason to delay.  if not that, then certainly anyone can give dozens of other more pressing national needs, no doubt, i get it.  a project like this makes more sense when the country is in a period of economic prosperity and our governments are a bit more fiscally ship shape.  if so, then just say so.  no need to fire up the bullshit machine.

also funny that mr gallagher's own response seems to be at odds a bit with the stated mission of the NIST.  its national policy is to establish [metric] as the "preferred system of weights and measures" in the US, and to provide "leadership and assistance on [metric] use and conversion".  no... his response basically says that the system you use is your individual choice, none are preferred over another, which then means that the NIST's hands-off approach (other than helping if you want help) in turn provides no "leadership" in comprehensive national adoption of a unifying standard.

i don't expect a metric US in my lifetime.  but as long as my beers are measured in pints and the nfl sticks with yards, i'll deal.

- peace... jimbarry

Saturday, November 24, 2012

on hashtags: who needs 'em

ever use twitter?  no?  then please move along... nothing to see here.

but if yes...  do you know what a hashtag is?  hmm... are you sure?

c’mon, everyone knows this right?  you tweet about something, just find the keywords in there and drop a # in front of those, like this:

right?  not really.  the fact is, sometimes hashing helps, sometimes it doesn't, sometimes it makes no difference, and sometimes it actually works against you.

it’s simple...

step 1:  use a hashtag when it helps someone find your tweet.
step 2:  don’t use a hashtag when it doesn’t help, or even makes it harder to find your tweet.

sounds kinda "duh", but it’s not. the key is in figuring out the difference.  in the end, it's more important to know when to not use a hashtag as it is to use one.

why?:  because the only reason why you spend time tweeting is so that most people who might have an interest in what you’re saying, get to hear you say it, and so that you can all then participate in the conversation.

first, what are other twitter advice blogs saying?:

they say "keep it short":  well, sure.  also true about your twitter name, and everything else about your tweet.  some might say 140 char isn’t a lot, but you’ve seen those tweets that are 100-140 char long.  who reads them?  our time is short, move along.

they say "keep them unique":  well, sure.  also true for anything else you search for using any social media tool or even any google search.  but in the end, it isn't like hashtags are registered or regulated.  anyone can use them.

some simple tips for quitting hashtags

tip #1:  omg...  first... do a twitter search on your tag to see if anyone else is using it.  and... for the same purpose you want to use it.  if no one is, then don’t hash it because no need using it to make your tweet findable if no one's looking.  for example, i was going to tweet about the new york giants, so i started with #giants just to find that there are conversations about football and baseball in there.  so then i searched #nyg and #bigblue to find not so much traffic.  finally i found most of the conversation is tagged with #nygiants, so i used that one because that's where the chatter is.

tip #2:  if you want to be a part of a conversation, and the words you think will get you in are unique enough, don’t hash it.  words like shakespeare, nascar, nfl, facebook, knicks, thanksgiving, and astronaut

tip #3:  stay away from underscores, hyphens or other special characters that cause smartphone users to have to toggle their keyboards or shift to upper-case.  just squish it together, we won’t get confused, we promise.  everyone is using #stanleycup not #Stanley_Cup (or they would, if the nhl wasn't on lockout).

tip #4:  tweets made available for searches don’t last more than a few days, so really no need to be more specific than that.  example:  for our developer summit conference in california in march, we used #devsummit.  for the summits in november in europe we used... yep... #devsummit.  not #devsummiteurope or #devsummit2012.  tweets are too fleeting for that.

some examples of when hashtags are not needed:

if a word is unique enough, putting a # in front of it is simply not necessary.  The name obama is fairly unique as the topic in a tweet.  we get it, you’re talking about the president.  why use #obama?  those who are searching for tweets about the prez will be better off searching for obama, because it’ll find tweets containing obama and #obama.  Search #obama and you miss obama.

the company i work for sells a software product called “arcgis”.  reasonably unique.  too often i see people dropping a hash in front of it.  why?  it burns a character.  but even more important... if i search on #arcgis, i only get #arcgis.  but if i search on arcgis, i get both arcgis and #arcgis.  better.

in the example at the top of this article, the terms Socialist, Marxist, and POTUS are also unique. why hash them?

but there are still times when a hashtag helps:

conversations about last month's hurricane that struck the east coast did benefit from being an actual hashtag:  #sandy, since otherwise your search for info would also catch tweets about other people (sandy koufax, sandy alomar) or places named sandy (sandy hook, new jersey [also hit by hurricane sandy]) or things that are sandy.

during washington capitals hockey games the hashtag people tend to use is #caps.  good thing, because that word could mean a lot of things and when it does appear in a tweet, it's usually not the keyword unless it's about the hockey team.

in short:  just tweet about what you want to say.  if the keywords are ambiguous, hash them.  if the keywords are unique then don't, else you could make it harder for other tweeters to find what you're saying.


Saturday, October 6, 2012

hey hey, ho ho, infield fly rule's gotta go

yet another disclaimer: i'm kind of a mets fan, atlanta losing is normally a good thing, but...

sports get better when judgement calls go away.  until yesterday the MLB's own twitter site  contained this snarky quote in the bio section:

"yeah, we don't understand the infield fly rule either"

oops, probably best to get rid of that.  so they did.

why does the infield fly rule exist?  well, i found this on the internet so i know it's true:

"is a fair fly ball which can be caught by an infielder with ordinary effort, blah, blah, other stuff about existing runners and outs"

oh geez, i love this part of MLB's own rules:

"[this is a judgement call] not by some arbitrary limitation such as the grass, or the base lines"

well sure, because lines are arbitrary [eye roll]. we wouldn't want baseball muddled with other lines like foul lines, the batter's box, the pitcher's mound, the outfield fence.  let's just make it all judgement.

baseball is so adorable in the way it's steeped in clumsy traditions, nutso superstitions, and unwritten codes.

i can hear it now... but jimbarry, it's so that the fielder isn't able to choose whether he wants to catch it (and double up runners who stray too far) or drop it (and double up runners who didn't stray far enough).

i know.  i get that.  my answer is, "so?"  why can't that be part of a fielder's strategy?  the ball is in play, let it be in play and let the players on the field all decide what they want to do.  just like any other ball in play.

in fact, while we're at it...

let's make balls and strikes a judgement call

i mean, we all know that the edges of the plate are lines, also knees, armpits.  even 30 year old technology can locate a 100mph fastball well within one millimeter well within one millisecond.

let's toss that out and ask the home plate ump to just call it...

so that he can toss in personal bias, his own body position, game situation, and how cool he's going to look to the home crowd and espn rambo-punching out that third strike a foot outside to end that playoff game.

oh wait, we already do that.


Thursday, September 27, 2012

the case for golden tate

woot!  the old refs go back to the field, the new refs go back to foot locker, and next week we can complain about the higher paid refs making higher paid mistakes.

you can say it's been fun watching goodell and the owners stew, you can say it's not been right that we've been talking about the contract drama more than the game, but you can't say it's been boring.

common sense test?  sure...

md jennings:
two hands on the ball in the air, two hands on the ground, ball to his chest the whole way

golden tate:
one hand on the ball in the air, then two, then one then two, never on his chest til the pile ended.

if your wallet contains one of these things here, you probably think tate caught a touchdown pass.

...the rest of us with eyes know different.

but y'know what?

i actually think the running shoe salesmen were right: tate scored a touchdown

let's do this...

one rule says
"if a pass is caught simultaneously by two opponents and both retain it...[tie goes to the passing team]"

which brings us to what "caught" means, which is when the
"...ball is secured by one or both hands and both feet or any other part body other than hands touch the ground".

the video shows that by the time tate's feet were on the ground, he had two hands on and control of the ball.  better put, because it was called a touchdown on the field, there's nothing in the video that shows that he didn't.  in fact, when this happens in the end zone, that's an immediate touchdown and the play ends.

and it's more important to add that at this moment, both of jenning's feet were still in the air.

another rule says that "it's not a simultaneous catch if a player gains control first and an opponent then gains joint control".  and you can gain control before your feet come down.

but here's the problem with that.  first, the video shows that at the same time jennings gained control with two hands, tate gained control with his left hand.  how can we be reasonably sure both had control?  because the ref could've reasoned that if one didn't have control he would've lost the ball to the other.

the fact that jennings controlled the ball more does pass the smell test, but two-versus-one is not part of the rules.  it is possible, according to the rules, to catch a ball one-handed.  plaxico did that one-handed shit all the time.  c'mon... he even shot himself one-handed.
(and if he'd done that in new jersey instead of new york city, he probably would've never went to jail either)

the fact that tate took a while to get his second hand on the ball doesn't mean he gained control after jennings did.  at least according to the rules.

when it comes to judging what control is, that's a call on the field and reviewable under the hood.  and remember that the hood isn't for making calls, it's for seeing if there is any opposite evidence than what was called on the field.  there's nothing in the video that suggests that tate didn't have control of the ball also (no evidence that he lost it, or that the ball slid or wobbled around)

you can say that tate pushed off (foul) before the ball got there, and he did, but that wasn't the call on the field.  and besides, have you ever seen interference called on a hail mary?  never.

but... i'm glad that happened on monday night football, because it seems that's what it took to get the deal done.


Friday, August 10, 2012

on same sex marriage

(i expect this to be the first, only, and last "political" post on my blog, but we're 3 months from the 2012 election and this is a topic that defies logic and i have to vent and say something.)

disclaimer: i'm a conservative. 

sounds like i'm supposed to ignore some key things i've learned and lived about core conservatism and join the fight to defend society against same-sex marriage.

i'm also straight.  no dog in this hunt.  but why aren't more conservatives on the "pro" side of this?  or at least "hey man, that's your business not mine".  we're all about individual rights, especially when those rights don't inflict on anyone else's?  aren't we all about freedom to follow our chosen life path and not imposing our views on others?  

anywho...  here are 10 things the "new right" say about it.  i went and knocked some logic against all 10 and ended up with a perfect losing record of 0-10.  can you do any better? (or worse?)

1.  because The Bible says so

well...  all this tells me is that some parts of Leviticus are important and some not so much.  but no one ever says how they know which is which.  or what this means to americans who don't follow The Bible.  

2.  marriage is for breeding, so... opposite-sex couples only

true.  the biology isn't there.  then what about these?:

a.  ...a post-menopausal woman can't get married
b.  ...a man without testicles can't get married
c.  ...if a couple chooses not to breed, we take away their marriage license

these 3 points above follow the same logic and aren't opposed.

3.  gay marriage destroys the sanctity of marriage

divorce does.  infidelity does.  even if same-sex marriage did, why isn't divorce illegal?  yet again the logic is very selective.

4. if gays can marry, then the gov't will force my church to marry gays

no it won't, can't, shouldn't, never has.  nothing shows it ever would.

besides... your church already has the right to choose who it marries, doesn't marry.  no level of gov't is stopping you.  that's religious freedom.  to bring it up as resistance to same-sex marriage is a red herring.

5. if gays can marry, then our schools will have to teach homosexuality

public schools teach human sexuality as part of their health curriculum.  they're not teaching sexual preference as right or wrong.  if they were, then fight that.  until then, schools teach biology and hygiene. you as parents teach them the rest.

6.  legitimizing homosexuality will only encourage it to grow

us "straights" are born this way, and you can't convert me to be gay. same goes for gays. all i can tell you for sure is that if i were a woman, i'd be a lesbian.  it's the way i'm wired.

in fairness, if some are confused, not sure, figuring themselves out, seeking out counseling.  ok sure.  then in those cases let each individual deal with their own issues as they see fit.  but you don't solve that problem by enjoying a right and denying it to someone else. 

i mean, it almost sounds like you're trying to fix one problem by breaking something else.  careful... that's what liberals do.

7. marriage is a religious term.  same-sex couples should have a civil union with the same rights, obligations, protections, just don't call it "marriage".

you mean "separate but equal"?  we know how that turns out, right?

but ok, if you believe our secular legal system should lose the word "marriage", and replace it with "civil union" for all, then say that.  that's logical and provides equal freedom.

let's play this out.  let's separate the sacrament of marriage in the eyes of our church away from the legal contract of civil union in the eyes of our society.  if you're an opposite-sex couple of faith, get a civil union at the courthouse, and a marriage from your clergy.  atheists, you only get the civil union because you don't want the second one.

problem is, i don't hear those opposed to same-sex marriage fighting for that. instead i see folks using a personal bias to deny a legitimate right to others.  

8.  if it's legal for gays to marry, it'll teach my kids that being gay is ok

it won't teach your kids anything.  that's your job.  if you believe that homosexuality is wrong for you and your family, then let it be wrong for you and your family.  teach your kids what you think is right and wrong.  maybe at the same time teach them to not impose their beliefs on others.  especially when others exercise rights that don't impose on your rights.  

i mean... telling others what to do with their lives is un-american and un-conservative.

but ok, let's go in the other direction.  there are a lot of things that are legal that aren't ok for kids, or even ok for anyone, so even then there's no connection.  still falls flat.

9.  if gays marry, what's next?  marrying a child?  an animal?  a sandwich?

nope.  opposite-sex marriage is two consenting adults.  same-sex marriage is two consenting adults.  no slippery slope either way.  

10.  it's just not right and damages our society and our way of life

right.  how?  [crickets chirping]

so there you go.  10 of the most common objections and once you follow them two or three steps in, there's no traction.  all you're left with is inconsistency or selective logic.

how about this?  if you're against gay marriage, then don't get gay married.

and... notice that nothing in any of the 10 points above says that those of faith shouldn't believe what they want.  because they should.  and they should support their families and raise their children in the spirit of their faith.  

and if they raise their kids to believe that same-sex marriage is wrong, or homosexuality in general for that matter, that's their right too.  parental responsibility is really important to us conservatives.  personal responsibility too.  but at the same time we need to remember that deciding right-and-wrong for ourselves and pushing it onto others are two different things.

what am i missing?  i'm a conservative and because logic is stronger than creed i'm "pro" same-sex marriage!  where did i go wrong?

- jimbarry

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

hello prezi

bad powerpoint presentations make me bored.  but bad prezi's make me dizzy.  here is my first lame attempt of creating a prezi.  mostly because i'm testing the sharing, embedding, and export options.

in this case here on my blog, the embedding part.

so i humbly thank you, my legions of guinea pigs.

Friday, June 22, 2012

if this then that

so i found this site a few months ago:  it stands for "if this then that".  it's a web-based utility you can use, and it's pretty darn cool.  and really useful.  

it works for you like this.  think of your alarm clock as having a trigger and an action. when the clock reaches your wakeup time (trigger) it makes some kind of annoying noise (action).  i mean, the whole purpose of an alarm clock is that you're not paying attention to the time, so it will. 

now think of a web service that provides hundreds of triggers to choose from and hundreds more possible actions that can happen from it.  all you have to do is choose one trigger and attach to it one action.  IFTTT does the rest.

here's one i setup...

about three years ago i bought some stock in cisco systems at $19.72 and at the moment it's at $17.13.  if it ever gets up to about $20, i'll probably want to sell it.  so i made a recipe that's going to let me know.

here's what the trigger looks like:

and here's what the action looks like:

like a good alarm clock, i don't have to keep track of cisco's price myself.  when the trigger happens, it does the action.  (you might be thinking, just place a "limit" order.  the order won't sell until the price hits $20.  yeah... but i might not really want to sell.  i just want to know, then i can research what's going on, then decide.  just like, if i set my alarm clock for 6am, i can still snooze in til 9:30 if i want.)

here's another one:

dilbert's cool but i don't often think to go to the website and read it, or *gulp* buy a newspaper.  but, the dilbert site has an rss feed.  i tap into that.  when my recipe senses today's dilbert is ready (trigger), then grab it and send it to my gmail account (action).

or here's another one.  any picture i take and upload to my instagram account (trigger), the recipe senses and also then posts it (action) as a tweet using my twitter account:

of if anyone in the world posts to twitter with "#devmeetup" in the sentence (trigger), it grabs the tweet and adds it to a text file (action) i have in my dropbox folder:

i can go on and on but i won't.  but there are a few dozen channels (check em out), any of which you can use as a trigger or as an action.  there are also a thousand or so creative recipes that other users have created that you can borrow, use as-is, or modify then save and use as your own.

oh, right... last recipe i want to show you. check it out, it's an alarm clock. :-)

- jimbarry