BecomeAnXcoder, And Give, Please!!

This was posted on cocoalab back in October and I’m just now seeing it, but this online book BecomeAnXCoder looks fantastic! I will start pointing people who are interested in Mac OSX programming who have no programming experience there from now on. I hope these guys can continue to produce high-quality content. Which appears debatable–not because they don’t have the ability to create quality content–clearly they do, but because they seem to be having trouble supporting it.

I noticed when I visited the site this note in bold at the top:

Please Donate! Our bandwidth is at record levels: 29 GB in March, and donations do not even come close to covering our costs. If you appreciate our work, please take a minute to send a donation.

I do appreciate their work myself, but it’s mainly because I would send more people, new programmers that is, to them–which in turn is what is giving them the problem of using too much bandwidth in the first place.

To the folks over at Cocoa Lab, this statement really makes you sound desperate. I hope you can get the support you need, but when you give away content for free, a statement like this suggests that maybe your ultimate intention wasn’t to give it away, but rather to give it first so that people may donate. If this is a business model for you, it looks like it’s not working out the way you expected, so, with the deepest sincerity, I thought I might offer a few possible solutions to your predicament.

  • Talk to a publisher. This is really good content that you could probably sell. Show it to a publisher and see what they think. I’ve heard of publishers that *may* be accepting proposals from Mac Programming authors
  • Get cheaper webhosting. There is this company called 1and1 that provides shared hosting (which would work fine for the content you are providing) and give you 2.5TB, yes that was TERABYTES!!, of transfer bandwidth per month for the affordable price of $9.99 per month. You can sign up at 1and1 now. And yes that link is my affiliate link. I will get a kickback if you sign up!! That’s not a sales pitch–just a disclaimer.
  • Convert the site to a blog site. If you make your site into a blog rather than a book and continue to add new content, the benefit to the Cocoa development community continues to grow. It’s great with the content that’s there now, and to those who haven’t checked it out yet there is a *ton* of content, but keep it coming.

I write this not to chastise, but to be helpful. I hate to see good content producers go un-rewarded for their efforts. The solution, however, is either to change your approach, or change your expectations. Best regards to the BecomeAnXCoder writers. Keep up the great work.

Bring On the Comments?

For those who, like me, hear lyrics incorrectly on a regular basis and if you blog, you may be able to appreciate my most recent mistake. I heard the song Bring On the Comets by VHS Or BETA and started to ask my wife when the song got to the chorus, “what are they saying?” “Bring on the comments?”. “Are these guys bloggers?”

Well, my wife laughed (ok, laughed is a little strong. I think she smiled… maybe), but now every time I do a blog post I get this song in my head. So, without further ado, this post is live, bring on the comments… Listen to it on iTunes.
VHS Or BETA - Bring On the Comets - Bring On the Comets

For other misheard songs, check out KissThisGuy – The Archive of Misheard Lyrics

Guitar Hero On The Commodore 64?

Shredz64Wow, some people have some serious hacking skills. That, and a lot of time. This guy built his own interface that allows him to connect the Guitar Hero controller for the Playstation up to his Commodore 64 on which he plays a Guitar Hero clone he calls Shredz64.

That’s very geeky… and cool!

Get more information at Toni Westbrook’s website and here is more about his Shredz64.

4GB Memory Upgrade for $92.50

I’ve been waiting to upgrade the memory in my MacBook Pro, but hadn’t–until this week. Other World Computing has this deal going on right now where you can get the 4GB upgrade for $92.50. If you send in your old memory chips after the upgrade, you can take up to an additional $20 off. After it’s all said and done, this will cost me $72.50 for a 4GB upgrade. That’s a pretty good deal.

Self Tuning Guitar

So this is pretty cool. My friend Kip says that it would make me look like a dork if I showed up with one of these at an open mike night, however, I don’t think I’ve ever been to an open mike night where *everyone* didn’t look like a dork. It’s a cool piece of gear. And by the way, I’ve never done and don’t plan on doing an open-mike night, no matter what Kip says.

The Death Of High Fidelity

There is a great article on the Rolling Stone website about why modern music is so terrible. I’ve been saying this for a while myself, but music is all about the dynamics. Audio compression makes music that could sound edgy and interesting sound like the candy coated drivel the industry has gotten so good at producing.

Watch the video below to understand what this all means and then read the article from Rolling Stone. Awareness is probably the only way this will get fixed.

Climate Change Scientists, Critical Thinkers?

It seems logical to me and probably most people that scientists are going to be some of the most critical thinkers. And this is also their claim, but I am a little confused when it comes to discussions about climate change why so much critical thinking *seems* to be missing. I’ll explain what I mean.

I first have to admit that my knowledge of the science behind climate change is limited. I’m no expert. There are some interesting climate related things happening in the world so I can go along with the idea that maybe something is up, however, when it comes to proving that the changes are *all* due to the affect humans have on the planet, I become a big skeptic. I’m just not much into believing every alarmist and his impassioned story just because it plays to fears of global devastation (who doesn’t love a good Armageddon story).

Ok, so here’s what I mean when I say that the critical thinking seems to be missing. I’ve read parts of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report on Climate Change. What is so striking to me is what terminology is used to express the certainty from this group that climate change is caused by humans (anthropogenic). Here’s what the report says in the footnote on page 4 of the Working Group Summary for Policy Makers (PDF), just so we’re clear on terminology:

In this Summary for Policymakers, the following terms have been used to indicate the assessed likelihood, using expert judgement, of an outcome or a result: Virtually certain > 99% probability of occurrence, Extremely likely > 95%, Very likely > 90%, Likely > 66%, More likely than not > 50%, Unlikely < 33%, Very unlikely < 10%, Extremely unlikely < 5%. (See Box TS.1.1 for more details).

Now maybe I’m just the dummy here and everybody else gets it, but I don’t understand how one can have such a high level of certainty when their assessment is based simply on using expert judgment.

In a court case someone who has knowledge in a particular field will be called an “expert witness” and their testimony will often be accepted as fact because of their knowledge and experience in that field. Ok, so I suppose we should apply the same thing here. We should simply accept that the people who have decided these things are experts and their judgment should be considered fact. There’s only one problem with that. The field we’re talking about is so new and unknown we would be foolish not to question the validity of anyone’s *expert* testimony on either side of the debate.

For those of you who are upset at this point because you feel I just don’t get it, please enlighten me. I don’t want a pointless debate. I want to learn and understand. On what basis do we blindly accept the testimony of these experts? Not only that, how is it that they can simply arrive at such a specific percentage of certainty? From what I’m told there are computer models out there that can demonstrate this certainty, but if that is true, then why don’t we see statements in the report that say “90% certainty based upon computer modeling and calculations”. Why do we just get, in essence, “90% certainty based upon some smart dude’s expert judgment”?

Does that sound like critical thinking to anyone? If you tell me to just blindly accept what these people say as truth, I’m going to have a hard time considering your position valid. It sounds like blind faith to me and as everyone knows, scientists cannot accept blind faith. They need critical evidence. Don’t they? Otherwise, isn’t this just a religious debate? If I said to an atheist, “I’m 90% sure that God exists because I’ve known him all my life”, he wouldn’t accept my testimony even though I’ve *demonstrated* that I’m an expert on God (e.g. I’ve known him all my life).

And while we’re talking about evidence, can someone explain to me how computer models are able to determine which molecules or particles in the atmosphere come from fossil fuels and which ones come from natural sources created by the earth itself? I understand that trends since 1750 suggest that it’s warmer now than it was then, but we don’t have much in the way of climate data prior to that date. Isn’t it possible that warming occurred at another time earlier in the earth’s history that was clearly not due to the industrial revolution?

Wouldn’t a stronger case be made if we could go up into the atmosphere and take measurements and be able to conclusively say “well, these particles over here are from Acme Manufacturing while these were caused by those gases coming from that volcano over there and there’s clearly more coming from Acme”? Do we have this kind of technology? If we do, then great. Let’s see the data from those tests.

Call me crazy, but I think the jury is still out on the actual certainty of whether climate change is anthropogenic. If you show me some evidence to the contrary aside from, “the expert is pretty sure–90% sure even”, then I’ll be glad to hear it. Meanwhile, lets stop with the fear mongering over something for which nobody seems to have absolute unquestionable evidence. Shouldn’t we require at least a scientifically *provable* (as opposed to arguable) level of certainty before we go requiring countries to reduce emissions to some arbitrary standard that may or may not make a difference even if the problem is caused by us?

Digg Encourages Dishonest Reporting

If you are what appears to be Digg’s main demographic, then you are a geek, male (largely redundant considering the first descriptor), politically liberal, atheist (or at least agnostic or non-religious) and apparently you have no qualms about lying.

I saw this headline today on one of the stories:

Fox News: Could Cho have been possessed by the Devil?

We all know that if you fit the demographic above then to you think the real devil is Faux News (that play on words was pretty funny several Y E A R S ago, by the way) but writing a title that implies Fox News espouses that *they* think Cho may have been possessed by the devil is just simply dishonest.

I understand that the editorial board at Digg is the community itself, blah blah blah, but what gets me is that there are all these people who claim to be of some higher plane of thinking and reason and yet still stoop to posting these stories with dishonest titles to somehow demonize every establishment they disagree with. If you were to follow the link and actually read the story, you would realize that Fox News is making no such claim. They are reporting on someone who has made such a claim. If it were editorial, they would probably demonstrate that they think it’s just as ridiculous as you do.

So why stoop to lying? You are misleading your lemming disciples. Just read the comments for the story and you’ll realize that a great many of the people who commented have no clue what the story actually says. Simply because of the way the title was phrased they just assumed that Fox News thinks that Cho may have been possessed by the devil (cause somebody once told them that Faux News is the real Debil). Don’t you have any conscience about misleading the little followers to believe some farce simply because of the way you posted your story, ‘jimripper’? If you are so enlightened and above the fray in ‘thinking progress’, why stoop to such a level? You may hate Fox News (and who doesn’t? it’s *the* most popular American past time second only to hating the President) but how can you act like you are somehow on a higher plane. You are as bad if not a worse liar than the people you’re pointing your finger at.

To the supposed enlightened ones of Digg, here’s a suggestion, you might be able to convince a few people of your ideas, if only you were honest. I know in your world, the one where morality is relative, telling a *little white lie* is allowable and the end justifies the means on a regular basis, but really. Stop claiming you have some sort of moral superiority *because* you are an atheist or un-religious. You are not honest and you make no apologies for it. Where I come from, we call lying and misleading people WRONG–morally and otherwise. Your dishonesty begets contempt.

I’m not blaming Digg for anything here. Self regulating editorial is a very cool idea and I’m all for it. You just have to take the bad with the good I suppose and until people take it upon themselves to report stories honestly, there will remain plenty of bad along with what makes Digg so good.