Great video posted on Boing Boing today about a series of encounters between the KKK and Reverend Wade Watts. I’m not religious, but if religion resulted in more people acting like Wade Watts I might take a another look at it. Seriously worth 4 minutes of your time.
Nod to Alex M from the Boing Boing comments for the post title.
I purchased a Griffin Elan Form Case from Best Buy to protect my iPhone. As i was putting the case on and sliding the stiff polycarbonate screen protector in place and i realized that there was a large scratch running down the center of my iPhone. So i pulled the case and screen protector off and examined the iPhone. It was officially ruined. The screen protector had managed to put a deep scratch along the majority of my screen making it painfully annoying to try to use.
I went back to Best Buy and showed the sales associate the scratch. All he could do was look in amazement that this could possibly happen to an iPhone screen. I explained to him what happened and he basically told me to go talk to the folks at Apple.
I went to the local Apple store at Partridge Creek after making an appointment online. The tech at the Apple store took one look at my iPhone and asked what i did. I explained what happened and I asked what he could do if anything. He explained that there isn’t any way to fix a scratch like i had but they could swap out the iPhone. At first i thought i heard him incorrectly, and i actually asked him to repeat what he said. I have had my iPhone since July 11th, 2008 and even though i had the Apple Care warranty i was pretty sure that screen scratches aren’t covered. The tech asked if i had all my data backed up and i told him i had. He disappeared for a minute and sure enough he came out with a new iPhone and he promptly switched my information over to the new device.
I am eternally grateful to the team at the Partridge Creek store for taking care of my issue even though it was caused by a third party product and not covered under Apple’s warranty. I will not soon forget the service they provided and the next time i need to get anything computer related, the Apple Store at Partridge Creek will be my first stop.
This clip is great in that it shows the difference between a blowhard and a pundit. You don’t have to agree with Chris Matthews to see that Kevin James has no idea what he is talking about. He’s spouting off about appeasement and Neville Chamberlain with no idea what Chamberlain did, right or wrong, before World War II. James makes Mark Green look like a genius by virtue of his ignorance and refusal to shut up when called out on his ignorance.
As a society I think we can do better in our political discourse than this kind of shouting over each other to cover up ignorance. If you don’t know about something, just stop and ask or look it up before pressing your side. Hell, you might even change your views based on actually possessing a knowledge of history. I often enjoy talks with my Dad about these sorts of topics precisely because of his knowledge of history and ability to point out subtleties I might have missed. We had a great talk over the weekend about the differences between Communists in China, Cuba, Russia, and other nations and why those differences can lead to being trading partners with one country while having an embargo against another (though I still say this Cuba embargo has failed for far too long). We don’t always agree, I place more weight on civil liberties as a protective measure against tyranny, while he favors security through a strong military and intelligence presence and will sacrifice some civil liberties to fight terrorism (perhaps our ages and his experience in the Air Force help explain those differences). We share a healthy skepticism of governments in general.
Going into any argument armed only with buzzwords is a great way to look the fool. James is a great example of this, sometimes you can learn something and come out looking better if you just shut up and listen for minute, even to your opponent… wait, I think that’s what James was arguing against, perhaps he defeated himself in this one. Oops.
Digsby has opened its doors to the public and while there is clearly work to be done I’m pretty impressed with the software. Digby is a desktop application that puts all your instant messaging, email, and social network updates in one spot. The interface is nice, with some basic themes you can choose form. I like the simple system notifications as well. The IM one is really cools since you can respond from the notification bubble.
They also offer a nice embeddable chat widget you can add to websites. I’ve the one below to our Contact page. It took me about 5 minutes to customize and add to the site. I love that it lets a visitor instantly interact with me if I’m available. I’m looking at adding these to more of our sites to help with customer service. Google Talk has a similar feature that works much the same way. Both are free and easy as pie to add to a site.
One small thing I’d like to see in the chat widget is a change in the Edit Nickname at the bottom. It’s not obvious that you should select it and change it. I’d like to see that as a more apparent form field and for the text to highlight when selected… I don’t see many people putting in a useful name when they start chatting using the widget on a site.
My best friend Tom has enlisted us to help promote his new musical endeavor. MrSeley.com is now online promoting his music that kids really like. There are free ringtones via Myxer and you can hear 3 songs off the upcoming album Eat Your Books (And Read Your Vegetables). Tom is a really talented musician and writes songs for kids without veering into the moronic songs and huge bowties realm. Design wise we stuck with a more sophisticated and understated color palette that suits his style. You can sign up for the email list and he’ll let you know when the album is released and when he plays concerts you can attend.
I got an email today from a teacher friend of mine telling me that the Mandy & Pandy website was blocked by the internet filter at his school. They apparently thought that the nice site selling children’s books to teach kids Chinese contained sexual content – the official categorization from the Websense Enterprise filter was “Sex”. Now, having built the site I’m pretty confident that is a pretty wildly inaccurate categorization of the site. In fact, I don’t see how anyone who looked at the site or even spidered the content of the site could find anything even slightly sexual on it. It’s about a little girl and talking Panda who do such things as walk in the park and learn to count. I did contact them, though I had to go through a long registration process where I was forced to put in a lot of really inaccurate, made up information about myself before I could point out that this was stupid and should be fixed.
So, it seems that a site that could help a kid learn about China and how to speak Chinese is not available at a school and who knows where else because someone set up this very dumb filter and the makers of this dumb filter went out of their way to make it hard to report the blacklisting of the site as foolish. It makes me ask how many other educational opportunities kids are missing out on because of these dumb filters. Perhaps it would be better if young kids were properly supervised when online at school and once they are given internet access, they are taught about what is and is not appropriate content to view. Instead of just using a stupid filter that blocks good things and can miss bad ones, lulling people into a false sense of security, we should focus on educating kids and teaching them about exercising good judgment when online. That is a basic life skill now and should be taught from a young age so it is ingrained as a habit. Kids need to know about not giving out private information, about using good judgment when deciding what sites to visit, how to sift out good things from bad in search engine results, and how to read a web site critically as a source of authoritative information.
But, if you are going to have a filter, at the very least make it one that uses a blacklist produced by smart people with good judgment. Reviewers who are smart enough not to put Mandy & Pandy in the “Sex” category.
Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer did an interview on NPR in which he talks about the Real ID program. This is an unfunded mandate from the federal government from the same bright minds that set up the TSA. I love how this guy talks. Stright to the point and no dancing around just how stupid the federal government has been in the last few years with regard to security. I love when the interviewer throws out the ol’ 9/11 pitch and he knocks it out of the park by pointing out that most of the hijackers would have been able to get a Real ID and that high school kids at Kinkos could make birth certificates that look real enough to get an ID under the program. It’s all built on crap documents that anyone can fake and then lulls people into a false sense of security, leaving them believing that the new IDs don’t require as much scrutiny.
Brian Schweitzer is my Hero of the Week for calling it like it is. More government officials need to speak out like this. No waffling or equivocation, just bluntly pointing out how stupid the current approach to dealing with terrorism is. It’s sad that we have so much time, money, and energy wasted due to fear mongering and security theater. It’s sad that the federal government has given up on the idea of getting warrants and due process for wiretaps, reading the mail, or detaining people. It’s sad that more people don’t seem to realize it or care that it is happening.
P.S. I know I’ve been writing a lot about politics and very little about web design of late, but that’s what’s been stirring my passion. I’ve been coding like crazy for months (we’ve been churning things out lately) and the writing about politics is kind of refreshing. I may stray back to code more as the election cycle wears on and I grow weary of that.
Preaching to the choir is easy, they are already on your side and ready to sing your praises. Preaching to people who disagree with you is much harder. Sometimes you need to take a different approach than the one that convinced you. You need to look at how the person you are talking to approaches decisions and the framework they have for passing judgment on the world around them (that judge not stuff is overblown and frequently misinterpreted, a person sans judgment is a helpless, mindless waste, unable to choose what to eat for breakfast). Each of us uses a framework of heuristics and a moral and ethical code to pass judgment on the ideas we encounter all day long. By understanding the framework another person is using we can frame our arguments in such a way that they may exploit that framework to help that person reach the desired conclusion. This is not about manipulation, but about finding a common ground to aid communication and the exchange of ideas. Continue reading →
Scott Karp wrote an interesting piece about online journalism. In it he makes a good point about what is often referred to as “stickiness” or how much you do to keep people on your site. Stickiness is important to site owners for a number of reasons, the biggest is often so that visitors will see lots of ads or buy lots of widgets. Mr. Karp makes the point that it is okay to direct people to another site. His example of site that is brilliant at making people go away is Google and yet you never hear Google criticized for not being sticky. People leave Google over and over and come right back. Being good at sending people away has earned them billions. Continue reading →