28 February 2006

Google Pages

So I set up Google Pages the other day, and created a small website. It is here.

It's ok, but there are a number of faults with it, when I have more time I will talk about them.

24 February 2006

NBC and Journalistic Integrity

So, there has been some controversy regarding doping at the Olympics, in particular, the Austrian biathlon/cross-country ski teams. I have not seen NBC mention this at all on their Olympic broadcasts. NBC has a history of not reporting negative news. During the Thanksgiving Day Parade last November, they did not report that a balloon had hit a lampost and caused an injury. Although I cannot be absolutely sure that NBC has failed to report this, if they did not, they are violating, once again, the public trust. While reporting on the Olympics, NBC has an obligation to report on the bad things that happen at the Olympics, not all the good things. NBC should not have its head in a bubble.
As a side note, I do not have much sympathy for athletes who complain that they are getting jail sentences for doping. I imagine Italy has a fair judicial system, so they will get a fair trial. Doping is cheating. Period. If the enhanced penalties deter an athlete from cheating, then that's a good thing, as far as I'm concerned. Although I am not an expert on Italian doping law, I imagine that accidentally cheating would not get you prosecuted. (Under Olympic rules, if you have an illegal substance in you, you can get in trouble regardless of how it got there, even if you did not know that a drug you were taking contained it)
Besides, as they say, when in Rome (or I suppose in this case Torino)....

19 February 2006

Published in The New York Times

So, last Sunday, I was reading this article, about a man who decided to jump down to the subway tracks to retrieve his iPod. I thought that this was really foolish, and decided it merited a letter to the editor. Sunday night, I wrote an email and sent it off to The New York Times Letters Department, never expecting to hear back again from them. Instead, I got an email from them on Wednesay at 5:30 p.m. telling me that they planned to publish my letter Sunday. True to their word, my letter was published today.

18 February 2006

Snowboard Trick Costs Jacobellis A Gold Medal

I will preface this by saying that I cannot even snowboard. Last night I watched the Olympics, and saw Lindsey Jacobellis snowboarding in the snowboard cross. She was very good. However, at the end of her run, when she had apparently clinched the gold medal, she decided to a do a trick -- (called a "Method") on her snowboard. As she was doing this trick, she lost her balance and fell, and a Swiss snowboarder flew by her to claim the gold medal. I think doing a trick -- that costs you time -- while you are in an Olympic competition is in poor taste. (Doing high jumps, necessary to do tricks cost you time in snowboard cross, you need to stay on the snow as much as possible) It's as if your opponents are so bad that even if you slow yourself up by doing a trick, they cannot catch you. It's one thing to raise your hands in victory after the race is over, but quite another to do something during the race. And, the Swiss snowboarder proved to Ms. Jacobellis that, actually, she could catch her, and not only that, but pass her to with the gold! Besides, until she fell and people started analyzing the jump, no one even noticed the trick. The announcers on NBC watched her fall, but it wasn't until they watched the replay in slow motion -- twice -- that they realized that she had done a trick.

16 February 2006

Reviews of New Things Google

So, last week, Google came out with two new items: Desktop Version 3, and Google Talk embedded within Gmail. Google Desktop is nice, I installed the Calendar plugin, which is useful, not so much for scheduling -- it doesn't do that too well -- but if i need to look at a calendar quickly, it's handy. (I know you can double-click on the clock in Windows, but I'm always afraid I'm going to accidentally set my clock to the wrong day when I'm skipping around looking at the calendar.) So far, at least, Google Desktop Version 3 does not have the charming habit of crashing when I expand it to the sidebar and losing all my panel settings.
Google Talk is also nice. Unfortunately for Google, though, I think they are going to have a hard time converting people to it. Almost everyone I know uses AOL Instant Messenger (although a group of people here at the law school have started switching to Gtalk, at least as a secondary client). While with email, Google was able to get a following by having such a huge amount of storage, with Google Talk, that's not going to be so easy, because the only thing most people want to use chat for is, well, to chat. Maybe they want to transfer a file or two. AIM does all those things quite well, and, right now at least, GTalk is not anywhere as sophisticated as AIM (it doesn't transfer files for one thing). On the other hand, Gtalk is much smaller than AIM -- 900k vs. some huge amount for AOL Instant Messsenger. Plus, it's a slicker interface than AIM. Last, it embeds itself into your email when you sign onto Gmail on the web, so that, in a pinch, you can chat with someone even if you can't install programs/don't want to bother downloading AIM Express. Plus, Google Talk shows you precisely how much time you wasted chatting with someone online.

13 February 2006

New Figureskating Scoring System is Problematic

A statistics professor at Yale University has done a statistical analysis and determined that the new figureskating scoring system is problematic. Under the new scoring system, there are twelve judges. Nine of those judges are randomly selected as scores that will count. The high and low scores are discarded, leaving seven judges, whose scores are added. If the computer randomly picks scores that add to a different aggregate, the skater could lose or win simply because the computer picked a different group of judges. See this link, which has more information on it, and a graph showing how the results of the European Figure Skating championship could have differed. To view the graph, it looks like you need to use Internet Explorer. What I don't understand is how the figure skating assocation missed this, because even I could see that when different scores were used because of random selection, the results could differ.

Update on Sonnet USB Adapter

Sonnet Fed Exed me a new USB adapter, it does the exact same thing. They also Fed Exed it to Douglas (without my last name) at the law school. Luckily, the mail room people figured out who it belonged to.
It still seems to charge the shuffle, so I'm going to keep it, even though it has this problem. By the time I ship it back to Buy.com and get a refund, it's not worth it. Plus, it comes with an iPod USB cable which costs $19.99 from Apple.

12 February 2006

Be careful how you shush someone in a movie theatre

After reading A Glance Askance's post, I saw the following article in the Daily Telegraph. Apparently, an Australian, after shushing a woman who was talking on a mobile phone during a movie, decided to touch her with three or four fingers on her arm. Mobile Woman didn't end her call, and the Australian tapped her again. Then, Mobile Woman screamed profanities at her and then left the theatre in a huff. Mobile Woman then apparently called the police and accused the Australian of assault. The police tried to dissuade Mobile Woman from pressing charges, because they would charge her with disorderly conduct and using a profanity. Mobile Woman could not be dissuaded, the Australian is now facing an (apparently) minor charge, and Mobile Woman is facing charges as well. According to the article, the Australian will not be deported, nor will this affect the Australians ability to enter the United States in the future. I certainly hope not, as, frankly, I think this woman should get a free ticket to see the movie again and a medal. I think that tapping a cell phone user on the arm in a movie theatre does not constitute a crime that should be grounds for denial of re-entry into the United States. Maybe the Australian government sould put Mobile Woman on their list of people banned from entry to Australia. That would teach her to talk on the phone in movie theatres! (Yes, I realize that is perhaps a bit harsh)

08 February 2006

One gets what one pays for

So, after looking online, I found an alternative charger for an iPod Shuffle (and regular iPod) by Sonnet Technologies that cost about $15 less than Apple's charger, and also included a USB cable with it. I ordered it, but it did not work properly, because it lit a red light while charging and continued to light the red light charge even when the charge was complete (it is supposed to change from orange to green). So I had to ship it back to them, which cost $4.00 or so. By the time I got done with shipping , as well as the time spent on the phone with them and at the post office, I think it may have been worth just getting the regular iPod charger direct from Apple. I also think Apple's is higher quality generally.
To Sonnet's credit, the phone call (while long distance to Irvine, California) put me through to a system that did not require me to navigate through voice menus at all. I was immediately placed in a call queue, and was put through to someone pretty quickly on both occasions when I called them. If they send me back a charger that works properly, I suppose I'll be satisfied.

02 February 2006

More Mine Stories

So, in Canada last week, a group of miners survived a fire in their mine, by going into an airtight emergency room. I think the US ought to have something like that safety regulation, as it makes sense, and could save miner's lives.
According to today's Times, the Governor Joe Manchin III of West Virginia has asked coal companies to cease operations, because two more miners were killed in separate accidents yesterday.
There was a story on PBS's News Hour yesterday evening. In it, they said that the Bush administration discarded seventeen safety initiatives, including one that would have provided for nonflammable conveyor belts, which might have stopped the disaster in the Alma mine (where two miners were killed).

Consumer Council of Norway Complains about iTunes

So the Consumer Council of Norway complained about iTunes to the Norwegian Consumer Ombudsman, alleging that they violated (what I gather is the Norwegian) Marketing Control Act. They say that first, the contract can be changed by Apple after you have downloaded the music, which they say violates a basic principle of contract law. This is true for the United States terms as well. See paragraph 9(c) which says that "Apple reserves the right to modify the Usage Rules at any time." The Usage Rules include things like how many computers can be authorized to play a song, how many times you can burn a cd, etc.
Next, they make a Conflicts of Law argument saying that they cannot use English law because the iTunes song uses the Norwegian currency and you have to be from Norway to use it. Therefore, one cannot apply English law.
I had actually noticed the ability of Apple to change the terms whenever they want to, but I didn't care about it, because I decided to risk it and assume that Apple would not change the terms. So far, it looks like I have been right.
Disclaimer: My interpretation of Apple's contract is not intended to be legal advice. You should consult a lawyer for legal advice. You do not form an attorney-client relationship with me by reading this information on my blog or if I respond to your comment on my blog.