Another war lost

It is sad that I have to resort to foreign outlets to be able to read a writeup of Iraq’s elections that is free of pundit sound-bites. That sadness is a different and deeper sort when I read the Independent’s analysis of the Iraqi election.

The neo-con justification for the Iraq War has always been to create a Reganesque “City on the Hill” for the Middle East and cause a reverse domino effect. Many of the brightest minds on the right were willing to sacrifice any means to create that end, even if it meant lying to us.

Though I worried this might be a March of Folly, I hoped I would be wrong. We put America on the path of an empire and all trajectory of all empires contains the fall of it. Maybe those who actually didn’t just use poly sci to fill a humanities elective would prove me to be naïve, for how could one college quarter of game theory compare to a lifetime of agenda setting?Continue reading Another war lost

Setting opacity in CSS

Last week, I wanted to create a translucent layer to grey out functionality on the site. To do this, create a div that covers the window and set the background color to black.

But how to make it translucent? This webpage on CSS opacity covers how to do this and many other useful things:

.grey_background {
	background: black;

The “filter” rule is for IE (taking advantage of a very old feature that dates back at least 5 years) and the “-moz-opacity” rule is no longer needed for newer versions of Firefox and Mozilla which support the CSS3 spec. Safari also supports the spec.

HP under new management

The business section of the Merc today has two articles on the front page about HP’s nascent recovery under interim CEO Mark Hurd.

So many people base their measure of a person on what they heard about them than the evidence staring them in the face of incompetence of their actions—people’s high opinion of ex-CEO Carly Fiorina is an example of that.

What I found so interest was not the articles themselves but in the inset graphics. One part of one inset was fascinating:

Where HP intends to grow

  • Distributed Computing: Companies increasingly are moving data off mainframes and onto distributed servers in multiple locations. HP sells servers and storage technology and services to help companies manage big computing tasks. It is also developing ways to automate data centers.
  • Mobile Computing: HP already develops mobile technology such as notebook and handheld computers. Security features and its management software will becoming increasingly important
  • Digital Printing: HP sells a wide range of printers for consumers and businesses, including pritners for digital cameras. It entered the commercial and industrial digital printing arena with acquisitions like Indico and Scitex and is also developing multifunction copiers/printers.

Continue reading HP under new management

Adam Tow: Mac, mobile and photography


I met Adam Tow only once, briefly at the Apple Store Palo Alto opening in 2001. He was on the roof next door taking photos of it.

From what little I know about him, he has three obsessions: Macs, mobile devices and photography. That gives him a special star in my book. So it should come as no surprise that he announced Annoture which allows round-tripping between Aperture and iView Media Pro.Continue reading Adam Tow: Mac, mobile and photography

sub rosa

In a NYT editorial concerning America’s use of not-so-clever redefining the word “torture” to deny that America uses “extraordinary rendition” and similar tactics to cause de-facto torture:

But that doesn’t make it any less disturbing that the United States government seems to have lost its ability to distinguish between acts that may occur sub rosa in some exceptional, critical situations and the basic rules of proper international behavior.

Sub rosa means “pledged to secrecy” and is a Latin phrase (literally “under the rose”) which is a Middle Age practice that referenced a Greek myth I had not heard of.1

I first looked up the word when I wondered why SubRosaSoft, a Mac software company, got their name.

In any case, it’s a cool word. Also notice that the title of the editorial: “Secretary Rice’s Rendition” is a play on the double-meaning of the word rendition. I wasn’t aware of the legal meaning until this year—I can only guess as to how that word managed the tortuous path from its dramatic origin to the strange meaning today.

1 If Harpocrates is Horus, son of Isis (Egyptian Aphrodite) wouldn’t that imply that he is Eros or at least Eros’s brother. Why would Aphrodite give Eros a rose to give him directly? Me am confused!

Pringles white balance

Carl Weese has an article today about using the ExpoDisc for digital white balance with some interesting history: it was used in 35mm film photography, before it found new life in digital.

ExpoDiscs are basically neutral translucent white filters or caps that allow you to take a white balance or exposure meter reading of the incident light, a couple are slightly cool colored which will shift your your photo to a more pleasing warmer color for skin tones. Sounds fancy, huh? They cost $60-$180.

Continue reading Pringles white balance

Saturn sets…

What an amazing article in the Times today about the closing of part of a signature Saturn plant.

Anyone in the U.S. in the 90’s remembers the quirky Saturn commercials featuring this Spring Hill plant; how Covey’s book had a ringing endorsement from Skip LeFauve, President of Saturn; how Saturn was representative of the new team-based thinking coupled with a revolution in worker-management relations.

What happened?

Continue reading Saturn sets…



I couldn’t resist the call of the Jobs and went and purchased Aperture!

I did a computation at work today and decided that Aperture must have hit the shelves today and a quick call to Apple Store proved me correct. Apple Store Palo Alto had already run out, but there were a number of copies available at the Mini Apple Store in Stanford Mall. (Yes, living in the Bay Area does have its advantages…)

I never purchased at a Mini Apple Store before. They don’t even have a cash register there, just a hole in the wall with a bunch of drawers. They actually took my credit card using a Symbol PDA and e-mailed me my receipt (because they had my name and dotMac account on record in the central computer).

Since we were in Palo Alto, I had to make the required stop for Caitlin for dinner at Patxi’s. We opened the box there while waiting 40 minutes for our pizza to cook. Someone from the 14-person long table came up to Caitlin, who was reading the box, and said, “Excuse me, I want to thank you—half the Apple Aperture team is sitting over there.” We turned around and got an ovation as their first real-live customer.

I should carry my camera around more often.

Continue reading Aperture

Interesting new scam

Caitlin points out a new scam job. The idea is to scrape various classified sites for services (like Craigslist) and then offer them money in return for a check (a la Nigerian 419 scam). The new ideas here are the fact that it is specifically targeting an interest (in this case, wedding photographers and videographers) and that I think the scam may operate along a variant of check fraud where one uses the routing number off of your check in order to drain the account.

These scams are getting increasingly more sophisticated. No wonder one person claims that internet crime may be more lucrative than drugs.

I was surprised that the two people I mentioned this to at work were unaware of how the check system works in regards to the magnetic ink at the bottom of their checks.

I’m curious how this stuff can be reported. I don’t think individual action, besides being a complete waste of time, would be of any use here—any initial funds provided by them for the con are probably funneled through previously compromised bank accounts. Any suggestions for her?