Dear Conservatives… (updated)

Update: I am embarassed to admit that I screwed up in this post. I’m leav­ing it here to serve as a les­son, most­ly to me, but be sure to read the first two com­ments below. Many of my inflam­ma­to­ry com­ments (all of them?) were not just poor­ly researched, but untrue. For exam­ple, Ali­to held that the spousal noti­fi­ca­tion (it is not a con­sent require­ment) aspect of the law pro­vid­ed sev­er­al excep­tions (includ­ing par­ent­hood, spousal sex­u­al assault, and fear of bod­i­ly harm) and there­fore did not con­sti­tute an undue bur­den. While I may not agree that these excep­tions pro­vide enough to counter an undue bur­den argu­ment, I rec­og­nize that all my inflam­ma­to­ry exam­ples below are unfair to Ali­to and the views he expressed. Mea cul­pa.

Dear Con­ser­v­a­tives. Please jus­ti­fy sup­port­ing a man for the Supreme Court who actu­al­ly believes a woman should be required to ask her wife-beat­ing hus­band if she can have an abor­tion. You tell me, flat out, that you agree with send­ing a ter­ri­fied, abused, bat­tered woman to beg at the feet of her abuser before she can make a deci­sion regard­ing her own health.

Don’t like the rhetoric about “a wom­an’s health”? Okay. How’s this? Tell me you will make a ter­ri­fied, abused, bat­tered woman go ask the man who hits her, who breaks her bones, who caused a mis­car­riage last year, tell me you will make her go to this man and get beat­en again, maybe killed, to ask him if she can abort the lat­est baby they made togeth­er, or the baby his friends gave her when they were all drunk one night. Because the man up for the decid­ing vote on the Supreme Court, Judge Samuel Ali­to, believes this. He believes that a woman must be required to noti­fy her spouse before she can have an abor­tion. It does not mat­ter if he is the father. It does not mat­ter if he beats her. It does not mat­ter if he beats his oth­er chil­dren. It does not mat­ter, and pay close atten­tion to this, it does not mat­ter if he will kill her when she asks him.

The blood of those women, and of their unborn chil­dren, will be on your hands.

You think this is an extreme case? Well, the law does not dis­crim­i­nate between extreme cas­es and friv­o­lous cas­es. Unless, of course, there are pro­vi­sions writ­ten into the law, like a pro­vi­sion that takes into account the safe­ty or health of the moth­er. But you don’t want those either.

You want me to make an extreme state­ment, so you can hate me, and write me off as a lib­er­al nutjob? Fine, here: You tell me that you would agree with killing the moth­er if there is a chance it could save the unborn child. Tell me that. Then we can hate each oth­er.

Love, Dan­ny.

Dear Democrats…

Dear­est Democ­rats in Con­gress and around the coun­try. Now is the time to take it to the mat. I have sat by while you did squat to oppose this Admin­is­tra­tion’s blun­der­ings. I whined a lit­tle when you rolled over regard­ing the fil­i­buster. But I’m not tak­ing it any more. I will give you mon­ey for this fight, but I want you to actu­al­ly fight. Lose if you have to, but for God’s sake, make it a con­test, would you?

Love, Dan­ny.

The Home Computing Master Plan

[This post has been regur­gi­tat­ed from a sta­t­ic page I wrote in 2005. Thought it should live in the time­line, instead of out of it.]

I love com­put­ers, specif­i­cal­ly Apple’s com­put­ers, and I plan to live with them involved in my life as much as pos­si­ble. I have a plan, an ide­al set­up, that I intend to reach at some point, and these are its com­po­nents:

  1. Pre­cious Data Stor­age
    We have pre­cious data, our pic­tures, our movies, our music… maybe even our doc­u­ments and email. Los­ing this data would make me cry. In the plan, there would be lots of room for this data, it would be stored out of the way (so it does­n’t get tripped over), and it would be backed up on a reg­u­lar, auto­mat­ic basis.

  2. Pow­er­house Pro­cess­ing
    I expect to have a need for a fast com­put­er with lots of RAM, with a large, good qual­i­ty screen, so that I can run inten­sive appli­ca­tions (Pho­to­shop, Final Cut Express, Aper­ture, Unre­al Tour­na­ment, etc.) quick­ly and effi­cient­ly. This would live in a study, or an office, and it would be a multi­user com­put­er, it would be there for the fam­i­ly as a resource. It would need access to the Pre­cious Data.

  3. Portable Per­son­al Units
    I’m sold on the con­ve­nience of portable com­put­ing. These units would have to gain access to the Pre­cious Data, but would also need to work on their own, away from home. They would sync up when at home, but when away, they would have a sub­set of the Pre­cious Data, what­ev­er was need­ed for the trip. Each fam­i­ly mem­ber (of a cer­tain age) would have at least one.

  4. Dis­trib­uted Access
    Access to the Pre­cious Data should be avail­able from anywhere/everywhere. The key here is the abil­i­ty to view, show, and lis­ten to the Pre­cious Data. This com­po­nent of the Mas­ter Plan is pret­ty broad, but cov­ers access from oth­er com­put­ers (not owned by us), from our tele­vi­sion, from our hand­held devices, etc. Inter­ac­tion with the Pre­cious Data would be a bonus.

So, what would it take to reach this plan? Well, some of the tech­nol­o­gy already exists, but some does not. And keep in mind, I am self-lim­it­ing (for the most part) to Apple’s com­put­ing offer­ings. I don’t care if you can already do this on Red Hat, or if it’s a cinch on Win­dows. That does not inter­est me.

Net­worked stor­age

For a while there, I was think­ing that an Xserve in a clos­et would ful­fill both 1. and 2., but I am no longer think­ing that way. Instead, I want some big hard dri­ves with redun­dant RAID arrays, with some sort of pow­er man­age­ment and net­work­ing out to all the home units. Wired net­works are tra­di­tion­al­ly much faster than wire­less, but wire­less is real­ly catch­ing up (802.11n should be avail­able by 2007!) so maybe just a phys­i­cal con­nec­tion to the pow­er­house pro­cess­ing unit would be required. They could even live in the same location/room. I don’t want the stor­age direct­ly con­nect­ed to the com­put­er, and thus depen­dent on that com­put­er being on for net­work­ing to be work­ing. They should, instead, be inde­pen­dent­ly net­worked.

Cur­rent sta­tus: I have a 240 GB dri­ve and a 160GB dri­ve con­nect­ed via Firewire to my desk­top com­put­er, which has an inter­nal 80GB dri­ve. The 80 and the 160 are backed up dai­ly to the 240. These are net­worked to the lap­tops in the house via the desk­top machine (so it has to be on) via wire­less (so the desk­top machine has to be awake).

Ide­al set­up: Well, Ars Tec­ni­ca recent­ly reviewed two NAS (Net­work Attached Stor­age) devices recent­ly, that do what I would want. The Rea­dy­NAS looks like an inter­est­ing prod­uct, although I might need to know more Unix than I do now. It has addi­tion­al cool fea­tures like USB ports to net­work print­ers, etc. They have a use­ful-look­ing forum, too. I can see a clos­et with one of these, the print­er, and an Air­port Extreme base sta­tion in it. (As soon as Apple releas­es an 802.11n base sta­tion (Air­port Ulti­mate?) I’ll be upgrad­ing.) Cost? $1,200 gets you start­ed with 800GB of stor­age, and room for anoth­er 800GB lat­er, from Ama­zon. Apple offers their own servers, but noth­ing specif­i­cal­ly out­lined as a NAS. Though, admit­ted­ly, the Rea­dy­NAS does seem to be blur­ring the lines a bit (it does more than just store and serve files).

Big, pow­er­ful com­put­er

Again, for a while I was think­ing I’d just use an Xserve to fill both stor­age and pow­er issues, but I am return­ing to Earth now. Instead, I see a big, pow­er­ful com­put­er with not a huge amount of stor­age, and that stor­age used most­ly for appli­ca­tions, not data (the excep­tion being data that would ben­e­fit from being housed local­ly, like game data files, etc.), The NAS solu­tions I would con­sid­er (above) can all serve web pages, files via FTP or oth­er net­work pro­to­cols, etc., so this com­put­er would not need to do any of that. This just needs to be a num­ber crunch­er, though I reit­er­ate that it would prob­a­bly need to have appli­ca­tions stored local­ly. Big screen, too, to get the most out of it. Maybe two screens, but one 23″ LCD would prob­a­bly do.

Cur­rent sta­tus: Woe­ful. I have an old swing-arm iMac, slow­er even than my lap­top, that is even now just bare­ly get­ting along with sev­er­al apps open at once. It also acts as the stor­age device gate­way, but it is con­nect­ed to the net­work (and the Inter­net) wire­less­ly, because of cable jack issues in our house. The only thing that makes it bet­ter than using my lap­top is the big­ger screen, the track­ball, and the full size key­board.

Ide­al set­up: Well, the best there is right? A full on Quad 2.5GHz G5 Pow­er Mac would be great. Cou­ple that with a big LCD, maybe a 20″ mon­i­tor from Dell (they use the same phys­i­cal Philips-sourced part as the Apple mon­i­tors), or a larg­er one from Apple. I actu­al­ly think the 30″ mon­i­tor from Apple is real­ly nice, but too much for this appli­ca­tion. I’d want to add sev­er­al expen­sive appli­ca­tions and games to this set­up, too.

Lap­tops

As portable com­put­ing goes, lap­tops have the mar­ket cor­nered. Palm­tops, or hand­helds, are nice, but you can’t do any real com­put­ing tasks (try edit­ing a video on your Dell Axim, folks). I envi­sion these would be each per­son­’s indi­vid­ual access point to our Pre­cious Data, as well as a loca­tion for more per­son­al data (option­al­ly, and strong­ly encour­aged, backed up to the NAS). I’m inter­est­ed in the whole tablet thing, but more­so in the whole “portable screen” idea, which I’ll go into in more detail in the next sec­tion. The lap­tops allow us to take a com­put­er with us, not just our Pre­cious Data. This real­ly is the least com­pli­cat­ed part of the whole set­up.

Cur­rent Sta­tus: I have a 12″ iBook, and Tiffany has her Thinkpad. Both are con­nect­ed to the home net­work wire­less­ly. Mine can check all my e‑mail accounts (through IMAP and .Mac sync­ing, not via net­work­ing wiz­ardry). Mine can access the music and pho­tos stored in our Pre­cious Data, so long as the desk­top com­put­er in the base­ment is on and awake. Tiffany’s is not con­nect­ed to our net­work, most­ly because she would­n’t be able to see our pho­tos any­way. She could use iTunes, I sup­pose. And she can print to the shared print­er.

Ide­al Set­up: I’m real­ly in love with the small­ness of my cur­rent lap­top, so I think I’d only ever get a small one again, despite the small screen/keyboard. Tiffany loves her IBM, even man­u­fac­tured by Leno­vo, so we’re like­ly to stick with the Win­dows fla­vor where she is con­cerned. But I’d love to have a 12″ Power­book, though some of the fea­tures of the new 15″ one are appeal­ing. I’d need an mouse, maybe a wire­less one, though a track­ball would be bet­ter. Any­one know of a good, portable track­ball? Aidan does not need a com­put­er yet.

Input and Out­put

This is sort of a catch all cat­e­go­ry, but most­ly includes devices and meth­ods for get­ting at our Pre­cious Data with­out a com­put­er. Hand­held devices for read­ing blogs offline, or for watch­ing recorder video, or for lis­ten­ing to music. Tele­vi­sions that are hooked into the Pre­cious Data so we can watch it in 42″ of plas­ma glo­ry. Print­ers able to print in full-col­or from wher­ev­er you are in the world. The abil­i­ty to fax your­self a hard copy of what you’re see­ing online. email­ing pho­tos from your dig­i­tal cam­era back home, where they get filed in the Pre­cious Data and put online. Web sites that update when new pic­tures are down­loaded. Input from the world, out­put to the world.

Cur­rent sta­tus: We have a net­worked print­er, a black and white laser, that is avail­able any time. With a lit­tle fid­dling, I think I could set it up to accept print­ing instruc­tions from any­where. I have a cou­ple of web sites, but they aren’t tied direct­ly to any of our Pre­cious Data. We have a sec­ond gen­er­a­tion iPod that we don’t use (except occa­sion­al­ly as 10GB Firewire disk). We have an iPod shuf­fle. Tiffany has a USB key. We have a TiVo Series 2, which osten­si­bly would let us see our pho­tos and lis­ten to our music, and might some­day let us get TV shows and watch our videos, but does not do any of that today. And that is about it. No con­nect­ed cell phone. We can’t even lis­ten to the iPod in the car.

Ide­al Set­up: I’d like a new iPod with video capa­bil­i­ties. And a car con­nec­tor for it. I’d like TiVo to get off its ass and give me a work­ing ver­sion of the TiVo desk­top, with TiVo To Go to boot. I’d like a TiVo Series 3 box (when they come out) with two tuners, built-in Eth­er­net, and HD abil­i­ty. I’d like a com­put­er that could han­dle Aper­ture, and a cam­era that could do it jus­tice (and a copy of Aper­ture, for that mat­ter). I could start a nice lit­tle cot­tage indus­try there. A good pho­to gallery plug in for Word­Press. A col­or laser for fun. A col­or inkjet that could print to CDs and DVDs. I’d like a cell phone that synced with my address book and my cal­en­dar (for that mat­ter, I’d like a ver­son of iCal that did­n’t suck much… Apple, you lis­ten­ing?).

And then we dream…

What else do I want? If I could wave the mag­ic Moore’s-Law-extend­ing, stan­dards-com­mit­tee-hur­ry­ing, lot­tery-win­ning, Apple-do-my-bid­ding wand?

  • A decent PVR with real home com­put­ing pow­er (Apple again, bring Front Row to the Mac mini). A nice big screen to watch it on (can you imag­ine brow­ing and buy­ing stuff from an iTunes Media Store on your 42″ plas­ma TV?).

  • I’d like an 802.11n wire­less net­work (540 Mbit/s baby! For com­par­i­son, HDTV trans­fers data at 55 Mbit/s). The spec has been final­ized (see here) and devices are expect­ed by 2007.

  • I’d like to be able to bring our lap­tops home and slot them into a cra­dle where they would pow­er up.

  • As soon as they were in range of our wire­less net­work, I’d like our lap­tops to sync their data with our Pre­cious Data.

  • I’d like a cheap, 8x10 dig­i­tal pic­ture frame, or heck, why not a poster-sized one, that con­nects wire­less­ly to our Pre­cious Data for it’s con­tents. I’d like it pow­ered by induc­tion, so I don’t have to plug it in.

  • I’d like a 20″ tablet com­put­er, more of a wire­less screen than a wire­less com­put­er, for work­ing on the work­horse com­put­er while I’m on the deck. Bet­ter, I’d like all our lap­tops, and the portable screen, too, to become screen slaves to the work­horse com­put­er once they are in net­work range, and the work­horse would let mul­ti­ple users be logged in at once (I’ve heard this called a “ter­mi­nal serv­er” or some­such), all using the work­horse’s many CPUs and, much mem­o­ry. Once out of range, they’d revert to their own selves, with data and maybe even apps and OS synced while they were in touch. I’d pay for a Fam­i­ly Pack OS X license if it could do that.

Updating the Home Computing Master Plan

Well, anoth­er Apple Event, anoth­er update of the Home Com­put­ing Mas­ter Plan. As some of you may know, I have a plan as far as what I’d like our home to be, com­put­ing-wise. In a nut­shell, I want a safe, cen­tral place to store all our pre­cious data (doc­u­ments, movies, pho­tos, music), acces­si­ble from around the house and out­side of the house.

I’ve done a lit­tle adding as far as video iPods and what­not. Check it out.

Advanced online banking features

Here’s an awe­some idea, if I do say so myself. I was look­ing at our bank account online, at our check­ing and our sav­ings accounts, when I thought to myself, it should­n’t be this hard to save for stuff.

If I can see my sav­ings account online, why can’t I des­ig­nate some of it as “Saved for new com­put­er” or “Saved for car down pay­ment” or “Saved for col­lege”? I’m not ask­ing for actu­al accounts, just vir­tu­al walls with­in my sav­ings account. If the bank were to offer pre-deter­mined cat­e­gories, they could do a lit­tle research and maybe offer tar­get­ed prod­ucts. For exam­ple, if I’m using the “Saved for home down pay­ment” cat­e­go­ry, they could be sure a mort­gage rate ad shows up on the page while I am view­ing my accon­ts.

I’m not sure what you would do when a large sum was with­drawn from the account… would the vir­tu­al accounts be drained in any par­tic­u­lar order? All to the same degree? All by the same per­cent­age of total? I don’t know, let the banks fig­ure that out.

In the mean­time, I’ll bank with you if you can offer me this fea­ture.