Showing posts from December, 2006

Unsophistication of the iTunes UI

Larry O'Brien comments about the crashing problems and other strangeness he has experienced with iTunes.

I haven't had such problems with iTunes on the 3 or more computers I've used it on in past years. However, I think the iTunes interface is a lot less polished than what a Windows user is used to. The music library interface in particular is idiotic - things just don't work the way they're supposed to.

When you pick a different column for sorting, iTunes puts you at the top of the list instead of at the song that was previously selected, which means that if you have the library sorted by song and now you want to sort it by artist to get other songs by the same artist, you have to find the artist again after changing the sorting column. In better designed programs, such as Outlook, your selection is remembered and you don't have to do this.

This is just one example where the iTunes user interface is lame. If all Mac software is like this, I don't know how a…

The iron shirt of tax code

Referring to Joe Stiglitz's proposal of a reward system for new medicine discoveries, which I mentioned in my previous post, one spontaneous idea is that someone like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation would be ideal to manage such rewards. I agree - if the tax system made it possible!

It is my understanding that the U.S. tax code requires non-profit foundations to give away at least 5% of their endowment every year to maintain their tax exemptions. The Gates Foundation already has trouble meeting this criterion, because they cannot find enough good projects fast enough. They probably could do rewards on the side, and I agree it would be a great idea, but the U.S. tax code makes it impossible for a foundation to exist that does this primarily. Given the government requirements, what happens if in one year there is no breakthrough and you don't spend the necessary 5%? You lose your tax exemption and pay a lot of money to the government in tax, that's what.

You probably alr…

Scrap the patent system entirely?

We know that patents are bad for the software business. The whole reason patents exist is because it is thought that giving a time-limited monopoly to people who invent things promotes progress by encouraging, well, people to invent things. This doesn't work in software because:patented software ideas are generally obvious to practitioners of the area the patent is about;the length of a patent monopoly (17 years) is way out of proportion with the speed things move in software;barriers to innovation in software are intrinsically low to begin with - anyone can innovate and no incentive in the form of a time-limited monopoly is necessary to encourage people to do so;arguably most potential innovators in software are individuals and small companies, who can hardly use the patent system because they can afford neither the time to file the patents, nor the money to fight infringements;progress in software is intrinsically cultural and incremental, not epochal - people gradually improve …

War on Terror: the board game

I don't usually play games or board games, but if I did, this is a game I would play. (Via Schneier)

Secunia's Software Inspector

Do this now.

Secunia's Software Inspector is a browser-based Java application that scans your machine for vulnerable software based on their vulnerability info. Before I ran this, I thought all my bases were covered, but now, heh, guess again.

Edited to add: older versions of the Macromedia Flash Player can be very difficult to remove. They are not removed automatically when a new version of the Flash Player is installed, leaving your system potentially open to the vulnerabilities in the older versions. You might find this link of use - you actually have to download this uninstaller from the Macromedia site and run it to uninstall Flash. Talk about easy removal...

For one of the old Flash versions I had, not even this worked, so I eventually removed it by manually deleting the file.

United States led by incompetent prudes

John McCain is now officially a technologically clueless populist idiot.

Losing weight

I'm not sure if it's really a common myth or if it's just my imagination, but it seems that there's a meme going around about how difficult it supposedly is to lose weight.

Well, it isn't difficult at all. It is easy. In a nutshell: you'll lose weight if you eat less. Or, like a doctor once said bluntly to a patient who kept complaining how she cannot lose her weight: Nobody was fat in Dachau.

The key to losing weight is really very simple. If you want to lose some weight in a given day, you have to eat less calories than your body burns during that day. If on a given day your body burns 2200 calories, and you eat 2000 calories, you will lose a bit of weight. If you eat 2400 calories, you will gain some. And 3500 calories (kcal) are about 0.5kg.

It is nearly impossible to eat in one day exactly the amount of calories that your body burns during that day. You are either going to eat more, or you are going to eat less. If you want to keep your weight level, you have…