Had a bug, been wanting a renamer that works just like this for awhile. My car stereo will play MP3’s off a CD, but it plays them alphabetically. Which means that the only way I can get them to play in the order I want is to prefix them with a value I want. This program does that. Here it is. Download it. Will be providing the very basic source code as well, soon. On GPL license and all that.

It does use a third party library (The extremely useful TagLib Sharp dll) to extract music file tag properties for use in prefixing the file with, say, the composer or the album or what have you. I also have a simple function in there that will randomize the files and number them accordingly. These are two features that I wasn’t able to find, along with the ability to store the freaking input and output directories in a config so I didn’t have to browse for them each time. This thing does all that. If you have an app that does that and you charge money for it, please, fuck off. If you do the same thing with your OSS app…again…you know what to do.

Download it right from here! Virus scan it, though. Wouldn’t want to be spreading some crap around.

04
Jul

Let’s face it: nerd toy ownership pride is a big deal. Everyone feels like they’ve got to plop down 500 bucks every 6 months, instead of waiting the normal 2 years or so, to get the latest and greatest version of their smartphone…even if the latest and greatest isn’t really THAT much better than the last one.

Not only that, the manufacturers build in programmed obsolescence at increasingly aggressive intervals of use (the phone may look great, but they always leave a glitch in there to annoy people into upgrading…or they break surprisingly easily…moreso than gadgets just 5-10 years ago).

This is an ultimately unsustainable model. Even if every single person were to properly recycle their gadgets properly, it’s still horribly inefficient in regards to resources and energy used to produce these gadgets en masse. The manufacturers feel they have to play this type of ball to compete…but it only means that the other manufacturers start doing the same and ultimately it only hurts the average consumer.

This doesn’t take into account all the lead and mercury this crap leaks into the environment. We’re already watching the Gulf of Mexico fill up with useless crude oil and cancer causing dispersant chemicals…and we’ve seen this going on in Africa for years as well as the North Sea and Russia. But really, when you think about it, a whole lot of really toxic geek toys that no longer bring the owner pride are filling up those landfills too…and not enough are being redistributed to people who need them because the services to power them and make them function optimally are expensive anyway.

I’m sorry, but if you find a sense of pride in owning the latest and greatest phone or computer, you’re kind of a jackass and you have deeper problems you need to deal with. You’re contributing to fucking up the best planet we’ve found so far in this galaxy.

A solution would be to add value from the software side. Hardware IS the problem. The only carbon footprint software produces is the need for electricity to power the device that runs it. When you throw it away, it gets eradicated and produces no mess. So, how do you make that work? You make hardware that is TOP of the FUCKING LINE. The best stuff you can manufacture. Best quality cases, as much memory as you can pack in there, best phone call quality, and the best power consumption rate you can tweak out of it. You put an operating system on there that can be updated very easily over the air. And instead of spending all your resources making slightly less shitty hardware every 6 months, you spend your resources making kick ass hardware that is released every 5-6 years and you pour the bulk of your resources into producing great software goodies that you pump out to your users.

Now, how do you get that whole brand competition thing? If you have 5 companies producing kick ass phones/laptops/whatever, each of them needs to figure out what niche they want to compete for and fill that niche as best as they can. Create awesome peripherals that make your devices keep up with the times and work effectively for certain markets. Here’s how you make your dough: You set up partnerships with developers. You take a cut from the sale of applications…just like how the app stores do today. If you’re producing better phones, you ask for better kickbacks from the carriers. If you’re producing better laptops, you ask for better margins on the sale of your systems.

And god forbid, stop it with the whole brand lock out and platform lock down crap. It’s stupid. If you want to compete for real estate in the market, make your apps as cross platform as possible and lure people away from other platforms, knowing they can take their apps with them to YOUR platform, which you have spent more time being better at what those customers want. Open up your platforms and let the developers in…and spend the money to make your platforms robust so developers can develop apps that integrate extremely well with your platform. Don’t make it hard for them or you won’t get consistent quality developers sticking by your platform and evangelizing it.

These are the things you have to do to make a lot of money not on hardware device turnover, but on software services and sales. Stop contributing to the damn problem…we’ve got enough toxic shit going into our Earth’s crust as it is that doesn’t belong there. We’ve been screaming for this kind of business approach for years, and unfortunately, the big players won’t listen. They’re taking cues from 1940’s GM. Look at General Motors now. They’re shit because the foreign auto companies basically did exactly what I just said (well, except for software…but they produced better quality product and rode their reputation up to the top). GM is just finally figuring this out after hitting rock bottom, and I figure the Googles and Apples are going to go through this too…and probably at a higher rate given the freneticness of the gadget market.

To add to all that…these phones are basically made in Taiwan or China essentially by slave labor. The way their contracts work is that they’re paid some cash up front, and they have to work ridiculous hours for a certain length of time to get the rest. They literally work people to death, with safety standards that would make the safety standards of most 19th century assembly lines look fresh and modern.

Look, if you thought that hard working Americans were assembling Apple products in Steve Jobs’s garage, you’re a lunatic. These things are made in the same types of plants as Dells and HPs, with a lot of the same components. Wonder how I can run MacOS on my MSi Wind? Because it’s got the same components as a Mac Air that costs almost twice as much.

These companies are oozing massive amounts of mercury and other toxins in the air and water and soil at such a rate that it’s going to make China look like the Gulf of Mexico eventually. Plants don’t LIKE mercury. Animals need plants to support the food chain. It’s going to take longer, but it’s almost as bad. We’ve got to cut back on how many gadgets we buy and most importantly, how frequently we update them. Now.

For about the last 4 years, I’ve been hearing more and more people say they’re trying to “wean” themselves off Google. It makes you wonder how a company whose logo had been “Do no evil” would make so many people want to wean themselves off it.

I think I know why. Google stopped being a company about offering a great service to its users years ago and turned into a company whose focus was on its customers. If you do Google…but do NOT buy Google ads, you are NOT a customer. The thing is, Google has it made. Those guys got a taste of big cash, and they wanted more. They justified it by being able to lure talented people away from big companies with that money. They installed sushi bars, hired top bands to play music for them, paid top dollar to consultants to design luxurious workspaces…and that kind of treatment generally makes you put the customer ahead of the user.

The customer wants their ads to be SEEN. By everyone. Or they feel they’ve wasted their money. Some users…well, most users…don’t want to see those ads clutter up their screen. They’re distracting. The targeted ads make people think “gee, how did they know that’s what I’ve been emailing my mom about lately?” If you check their legal agreements, and you have any sense of modesty about your personal information, you’ll blush like a 17 year old virgin on prom night.

They want those ads to be seen on EVERYTHING. On computers, phones, kiosks. You name it. They are owned, wholly, by the customer and the user…well, that’s the price they pay for using that service. But it’s sneaky. See, it’s straightforward when you pay for something up front and get access to a product. That makes sense to people. But when you have your buddies sending you “invites” to use a product, sometimes you trust your buddies and accept. You hand that email address or messager ID or whatever out…and then when you realize that this service is taking your personal information, even if you delete it, and squarreling it away somewhere so they can hit you with ads…you feel like you can’t get out because those are the emails you gave out to your buddies.

It’s annoying and creepy and sneaky. People don’t read legal agreements. Their only purpose is for lawyers to defend their companies from lawsuits. The company knows all that, but they create a business model that works along those lines anyway. That’s a sneaky kind of evil. Charging someone for a service and being honest and forward is fair. Hiding things in legalese is sneaky and deceitful. They know it. I know it. I’ve worked for companies who did that. (Keyword there is “worked”)

Craigslist doesn’t do that. They’re a model of “good computing”, in my opinion. They don’t charge their users because they know their users are what drive their business. They charge various companies who are making transactions a cut so they can pay their people. They make reasonably average wages, they don’t have sushi bars, they don’t spend extravagantly. They just provide a quality, free service uncluttered by greedy attempts to get you to buy crap for people who need it. And they’re successful. Nothing can knock them off the pile, and a whole lot of people have tried. Because they do things right. They don’t need to be beholden to shareholders or bloat their operation so far that they end up wasting huge amounts of money because they think the money is endless. They operate the way a company should on the web.

This is why Google is perceived as evil. They DO charge you for their service and they do it because their customer means more to them than the user. But they do it in a sneaky, back door kind of way: by inundating you with advertising and hoarding your personal information. You may not think that’s money out of your pocket, but it can cost you time and be a nuisance in that way.

And yes, I know that “well, if you don’t like it, then use something else” line. The problem is that Google is doing it’s damnedest to put “something else” out of business. It’s doing that by half-baking software apps that “get the job done”, putting them out there for free, then compiling data on all the users who think that their privacy isn’t such a big deal and are perfectly willing to let Google archive their private emails to their girlfriends wherever they feel like putting it (and generally using it to the extent of the law). The companies trying to compete by building “complete” and secure tools and charging a reasonable price for them are going out of business.

But the one company that is Luke Skywalker to Google’s Darth Vader is Craigslist. That business model…if it can be applied to other businesses, is the key to the real future of the net: keep it simple, keep it free and open, and make it so that companies will want to pay you just enough to make the business keep going because they absolutely have to compete with their competitors on your forum. Force the customers to buy in by drawing their users by giving them the simplest and most straightforward experience.

You don’t need a tech company with its own coffee bar and sushi bar. You don’t need to compete in every single market. You don’t need to go public and be a dog for the shareholders. You don’t need to make revenue through shady means with “targeted ads” and spam. Craigslist proved there’s a way out of that trap. Harvesting personal information and targeting ads…isn’t that really just a combination of spyware and adware? Don’t most people hate that? Then why wouldn’t they hate Google, too? After all, their business model is really no different than most of those spyware companies that everyone loves to hate…maybe with a slightly less aggressive angle, but it’s all the same concept.

THAT is why Google is evil. It’s essentially become a spyware company dressed up in nice, trustworthy looking clothing. Even a murderer, when cleaned up and put in a nice suit, can blend in at a party.

As I’m a developer who has worked on a wide range of platforms, I’m often asked which is my favorite. There’s only two ways I can answer that,if it’s a developer doing the asking, the answer that person wants is which platform I prefer to develop for the most.

It’s not hard, really. Most companies that make developers their focus do a pretty good job of making a point that they care about developers. Microsoft, in particular, provides an unbelievably rich tool set for developers to work with. When I’m working with Windows .NET, I generally feel like I can pretty much develop anything within a reasonable amount of time all by myself. It’s that extensive, that powerful. You don’t really feel like you’re reinventing the wheel because there’s generally an API or web service that will do what you want out there. And yes, Microsoft thumps their chests over providing such an experience; but that’s okay. They earned that right.

Microsoft has other issues, such as the insane costs to get yourself certified (mostly just in cost of study materials), but that’s beside the point. You can do so, so much because they took big risks to make their system so much more robust (and of course, the risk there is security and stability…but those are things that can be improved upon over time…taking a regressive policy to limit robustness only stunts potential and growth of a platform while making developers hate you.)

Palm is a company that I’ve always loved working with. They might not be a big player, but they’ve always taken good care of me as a developer and provided me with a lot of choices for development and incredibly good developer support. I’m not just a fanboy of Palm because I cheer for the underdog…they’ve taken really good care of me in the past and I cannot forget that. When I was getting my feet wet with Palm development, I had their OS engineers…not just tech support…replying to my emails responsively and giving me help and pointers. I’ve NEVER been taken care of that well, not on ANY platform. I felt like they really appreciated me writing applications for their platform, and that’s a sure fire way to make a devoted fanboy out of anyone.

Here’s my rankings:

1. Microsoft and .NET: It’s just the most powerful and robust tool set out there, with maybe the exception of Linux…but .NET is far more cohesive and still way more powerful. Now, if only Windows Phone/Mobile/CE/Pocket PC/Palm-sized PC would figure out what it really wants to do with itself and do it correctly and stop doing things in a ridiculously stupid way. But I still like developing those mobile apps in .NET CF…a lot. I just wish it didn’t suck so much to use, or I could have a lot more paid jobs writing .NET CF apps for companies. The fact that Microsoft ran the same application on a phone, desktop, and web is still wicked impressive. That tells me loud and clear that they don’t want to waste a developer’s time. They might still have their foibles, but they’re moving in a direction that I like and that means a lot.

2. Palm: They might not be the biggest player, but they go out of their way and spend a lot of their limited cash to provide developers with great tools that work on any development system. They also pamper you in a huge way. Plus, I’ve never used a Palm device that I flat out didn’t like. The UI and hardware has always been good to me, even if not to others. Palm takes risks to make things work the right way, and they work their tails off to fix their mistakes when things don’t work. Now if people would just use them instead of mobile devices that are generally unpleasant to develop for.

3. Linux: You can’t beat the freedom. However, the ideas that go into the guidance and direction of the platform sometimes just don’t make any sense and give the platform the appearance of running in place (or possibly backward).

4. Minix: Man, I loved this platform that no one uses. Microkernels make driver developers look so much better because their driver doesn’t GPF the whole operating system if it glitches. Too bad the development support is highly lacking a modern toolset. People may accuse me of whining…but the value of a modern, robust toolset is that a developer can do so much more with less. When you’re coding for a paycheck, you’re working on deadlines that you probably don’t have that much real influence on (aside from working PAST those deadlines).

5. Android/Java: Not really the same thing, since Android really is its own OS with its own Java-like language. I never liked the development tools, I winced painfully when Google bought it out. As a developer, I do NOT like having third party developers use my work as an advertising revenue stream unless I can shut it down. It may just be paranoia, but I do not trust any company to make my operating system that makes all of its money on spamming its users with ads. I’d rather them license a completely ad-free OS. That said, I’ve loved Java since it came out…well, I’ve never quite loved its syntax. Just really ugly.

6. iPhone/MacOS: Again, not the same things by a long shot. Both platforms commit the sin that I cannot, not now, not ever, forgive…they are guided by a CEO and his chief geek to protect security and stability at the cost of providing robustness and openness to developers. If you want me to NOT develop for your platform, please. Make it a pain in the ass for me. I found Objective C highly reminiscent of the worst language I’ve ever developed with…MFC. Microsoft washed its hands of it, and lo and behold, Steve Jobs was right under the drainpipe straining it into a glass to serve up to his Apple developers. Sure, it’s stable…a platform is always stable when you control the hardware profile underneath and can QA the same hardware/software profile. It saves you a lot of money, too. Money that Apple HAS, in spades. But would rather spend on running small companies out of business than ramping up the team and providing a far better and more powerful development experience, taking some risks to make a better product instead of hiding in a bunker.

7. SymbianOS: Why. Why? Why did you guys design this platform in such a peculiar way? With a fairly fragmented UI, where the overwhelming majority of the work goes when you’re developing a Symbian app, to it’s highly out of date goofball notationed C++ backend, SymbianOS is the biggest pain in the ass I have ever put myself through…twice…to develop for. Sure, conceptually it’s pretty cool. It’s also the worst implementation of the Model-View-Controller pattern I’ve ever seen. A whole lot of concepts seemingly were lifted from Symbian when other mobile cellphone operating systems were created…but none of them were really all that great. Symbian never really looked all that great, nor was it all that great to use. In fact, it always looked so ho-hum that people often mistook it for a dumb phone. It pretty much worked like one, except that it normally was on phones with bigger screens and higher resolutions. As for memory management…created in the dark ages of mobile development. Still lingering on, still being a pain in the ass for developers.

Again…look. This isn’t a whine. This isn’t me complaining that my job is too hard if I have to do something on one platform instead of another. The problem is that in my field, budgets are the reality, and if I can’t honestly feel good about making an estimate that falls into that budget, the project falls through and I’m out a job. If, by experience, I know it’ll take me twice as long to do an iPhone app as it would a Windows Phone app, I’ll only be hired long enough to do that Windows Phone app then I’ll be out the door. There are developers that will lie to a customer and short their estimates…those are developers that will either be prepared to be abused by their bosses when they invariably go over that estimate, or they’ll job search and try to bail out before the project hits the wall. I don’t play it that way because it’s way too much trouble for all parties involved, and it’s bad for my reputation. If I know that I’ll have to reinvent the wheel or buy an expensive third party component to get something done in time, that platform becomes less and less inviting to develop for.

I don’t like supporting companies that make it hard for me to do professional work. By supporting those companies, it encourages other companies to follow suit and make less of an investment into making developers happy and providing the tools needed to do the best work we can do. I’d rather just go back to college and become an archaeologist or a linguist than work in the sort of industry where there was a race AWAY from the cutting edge.

Is it because it was his plan all along? Do you have proof of that? Didn’t think so.

Maybe, and this isn’t probably a popular suggestion, but just maybe, it was because of things like this. Or vague, fear-mongering attacks like this. Or any of the pro-Clinton/anti-Obama comments that bordered on pure hysteria that came afterward that made most Obama supporters laugh…but some took it very seriously. Namely, I suspect, the people around Barack Obama himself. And that concern probably, on some level, went right to the top and became something that Obama himself was deeply concerned about.

The thing was, I was a bored ‘lil unloved political animal out of a job for 6 months in 2008. I used to check the scary right wing sites like NewsMax and the like. The sorts of anti-Obama slurs coming out of Clinton supporters on Huffington Post looked like the right wing Republican comments on right wing sites after they had been run through a spell checker. If I were doing that for a job and were working for Obama, you bet I’d write up an extensive report and hand it off to my boss. That’s something to be worried about if people can spew that much vitriol about you.

Look. When, in the historical timeline of things, did his policies suddenly veer towards the middle? Was it in 2007? Nope. It was just after the primaries ended in 2008. A time where you had a bunch of disillusioned, pissed off Clinton supporters who had thrown their emotions behind electing the first woman President…and fell short. They were pissed, they were breaking the furniture, and generally speaking, they were making threats that were scaring then Candidate Obama as he was shifting his sights towards the general election.

A big part of the Democrats success, in every election, is finding a way to motivate their base and get them to turn out to vote. Republicans vote out of fear. There’s always an element of fear around, and you’ll always get that going for you. Democrats vote out of optimism and a desire for progress, for change. That’s a whole lot harder to create than fear. The Obama campaign, at that juncture, began their stroll to the right, right after those primaries. Why? Because they already knew they had to bring large elements of the Clinton camp into their fold to satisfy a lot of still disillusioned Clinton supporters.

What, you think Barack Obama chose Rahm Emanuel just out of coincidence? Rahm is a Clinton guy. As is Larry Summers. As is…of course, his eventual choice for Secretary of State. The Obama campaign knew this was going to have to happen way back then, and they knew that they wouldn’t be able to make it happen if they didn’t adopt a lot of those 1990’s Clinton policies all of a sudden.

The point here is…to make the Clinton supporters get in line, Barack Obama surrounded himself with more of the same. Clinton people. Instead of having the support to clean house, start fresh, and bring in a new group of advisers, he had to lean on some of the people who caused this economic mess. The same people that are in President Obama’s ear are the same people who were in President Bill Clinton’s ear. Therein lies the problem.

This was the ultimate legacy that the divisiveness of the 2008 primary really left for all of us. It has essentially forced Obama into a center right corner out of fear of splitting the party. Now, when you look back…was all that nonsense late in the primaries with the attack ads and the viciousness really worth it?

14
May
stored in: All, Politics and tagged:

Okay, time’s almost up for Oregonians to pick their next governor (and no…the Republicans aren’t winning this one…their candidates frankly suck. Alley? Dudley? No star power there. A center that Blazer fans used to make fun of and a guy no one cares about with a name that kinda rhymes. Ron Lim has the most star power, but he makes almost no sense in a debate.)

I get it. Everyone is desperate, afraid of losing their jobs, overworked, desperate to get a job, desperate to feel the good times of the 90’s again. They think that voting for John Kitzhaber is going to bring that all back. After all, he had the pleasure of riding a national boom in the mid to late 90’s and got out when things were still clicking. His hand chosen predecessor had the misfortune of being stuck riding a national bust, popping back up for a few years by being propped up by fake money, only to drop back down again.

We get it. And I have nothing but the most utmost respect for John Kitzhaber as a person. He’s a great guy. But here’s an example of what John Kitzhaber is…he’s getting walloped in a debate on the issues by Bill Bradbury…then suddenly, somewhere in the audience, a man has trouble breathing. Kitzhaber leaps off the stage, performs CPR, and saves the man’s life. He gets back up on stage, and what can a guy with MS like Bradbury do about that? You think he was going to hop on his Segway and roll down there and do the chest pumps? At that point the poor guy can’t do anything but play nice in a debate where he shouldn’t HAVE to play nice.

That’s the thing: Kitzhaber is all show. He’s a guy in great physical shape who has the charisma, says the “feel good” things, and looks the part. But when you put the guy on the spot, he knows far, far less about policy and getting things done than Bill Bradbury. Kitzhaber isn’t going to bring back the 90’s, if the economy swings back, it’s because it happens on a national level. But why do you think Al Gore, Howard Dean, and Barbara Roberts have ALL endorsed Bradbury? Bradbury is a guy who is madly in love with Oregon and has been for almost 40 years. Over almost his entire career, he’s fought to protect Oregon’s environment from turning into a major dumping ground for California and Washington. If you’re a rancher, do you really think turning the land into a waste pit is a great way to improve your wheat yield or have healthy livestock? If you’re an outdoorsman, do you really want to have to go to Alaska to do some hunting or fishing? If you’re a hiker or runner…well, it’s obvious you don’t want to counterbalance your workout by inhaling toxic crap. And while he’s only been able to do so much, anyone who’s been to California or Washington often can tell that Oregon is just a whole lot cleaner.

Bradbury has done a tremendous job of balancing economic development with environmental protection. If you want proof, go to any other state and take a close look at how well they’ve fared. We may have a tough time with unemployment right now, but our jobs here in Oregon pay a whole lot more than a lot of other states in this country…and unfortunately, a lot of the unemployment right now is the side effect of dropping taxes on corporations in an attempt to keep higher paying jobs here. The side effect was that with lower corporate tax revenues, the state could not employ as many people and provide as much funding for as many projects that other states have done to keep their unemployment numbers down. That, along with property values that have been appraised way too high that aren’t deflating to a more realistic value have stifled an Oregon job recovery.

Anyway, I’m sure John Kitzhaber will win the primary, and like a good luck charm, will do a fine job of riding the national recovery and come away looking like a hero again. I just think that Bill Bradbury has the policy know-how to help leave this state in even better condition than Kitz will. But hey, maybe Kitz really is a good luck charm. After all, he did a great job of cozying up with Bill Clinton and Rahm Emanuel back in the 90’s. All he had to do was tell people he was a “new Democrat” over and over…then like Clinton, get out of office before the whole thing came tumbling down. The lesson we were supposed to learn from the 90’s was that the lesson about image being everything we learned in the 80’s was totally stupid. Saying the “right words” to “keep the stock market stable” was crazy. Playing with interest rates was crazy. Making bets against bets was crazy. Has Kitz learned that lesson since his first go-around? We can hope. Because the 90’s, just like the 80’s, were obviously bullshit. This last decade was our wake up call. The economic system that our nation has been obsessed with for the past 30 years doesn’t work here. We either have to come up with something entirely new, or fall back on a system that worked reasonably well…the system we had in place before we tried this goofy experiment with economic libertarianism.

Why are we suddenly so concerned about immigration, when in reality, the numbers of immigrants have actually DECLINED?

Because the economy is scaring the bejeezus out of us. That’s all it is. When the economy dips, people bring up immigration as a huge issue again. They’re looking for a reason, any reason, to be angry instead of afraid because being afraid feels a lot worse than feeling angry.

Look…I’m no fan of our economy having a private slave class of starving Mexicans coming over here and working in conditions that are frankly inhuman. I also hate that they’re being used in the same manner corporations used to use scabs in order to kill the unions. And I also hate the notion that companies think they can benefit from the tax dollars of Americans while they send higher paying technical and human resources jobs overseas.

But it’s easier for people to point their fingers at poor Mexicans and scream for blood rather than point their fingers at the wealthy people who supplant them with those poor Mexicans because those people want jobs from those corporations.

I’ve long considered immigration a fine issue that should be handled by international law presided over by the UN. It makes more sense to me for me to go through a simple, unified process to get a job in Germany or Russia or Brazil, and for people from those countries to be able to go the the US. Rather than our current situation where some countries will let you in, some won’t, some will make you do a song and dance. They rarely follow the same system and most of the time it’s totally screwed up. The people in those countries generally agree with that feeling.

But as long as you blame the individuals and not the corporations, you won’t accomplish anything. You can stop and search every last foreigner who comes in. The bottom line is that if you are starving, you go where the jobs are and you take a chance, even if you are going to be kicked out…at least you might get a meal in prison while you’re being held for extradition. As long as the US has the signs “keep out” and “help wanted” both at the border, we’re going to continue supporting an illegal slave class that drives down wages and makes poor people here even more poor. We’ll keep spinning down the toilet until we tighten up our guts and kick the employers in the shins.

You want to solve the real financial problem? The solution is unionization. Everyone, every single person, who isn’t a permanent employee and has gone through the standard background checks, who works for a company has to be a member of a union that establishes fair working wages, health care, and workplace safety standards. Even if you’re in this country illegally, you wouldn’t be driving down wages and standards, you’d simply be judged on your hard work and merits fairly. The boss can’t just look at one guy who wants 15 bucks an hour, and another guy who’s willing to work for 8 bucks an hour, unless there’s an experience difference.

Notice when illegal immigration became a problem? Wasn’t it…oh…sometime in the late 70’s/early 80’s? You know, right around the time when the government, in collusion with corporate CEOs, began union busting? At one time, a good 25-30 percent of all workers in this country were in unions. Now it’s about 10 percent. Guess what happened to the other 15-20 percent? Their wages went down and those are the jobs that are being occupied heavily by people in this country who are here illegally. The general replacement for unions, consulting companies, mostly won’t take on jobs that provide less than a set amount of pay per hour because they can’t operate as cheaply as a union can because they don’t handle as many contractors at once. Bring back the unions and put everyone who isn’t an employee of a company into them, and yeah…you’ll lose some consulting jobs…but the union will hire those folks back. But you’ll solve a lot of your immigration problems by requiring employers to only employ salaried or union workers.

This is a rebuttal to my friend Peat’s recent blog, here:Peat dot org

There is a very fine line in making the Internet, and more importantly, social networking, into a feasible and usable product, and turning it into a minefield where it’s only a hollow image of what a social networking site really is usually intended to be.

As Peat states about fucking up on the Internet and about boss’s surfing up “images” of you and laying you off…well, that’s only the tip of the iceberg. That’s one case, but when a person can be financially destroyed simply because they used a service in a manner that it was essentially intended to be used, that’s a problem. Arguing against that is like saying that a person who bought and drove a Pinto, only to have it explode in an unexpected way and leave them burned to a crisp is all their fault because they bought a Pinto and should have known something that the car manufacturer elected not to tell them.

While it may be common sense to a geek that you should be careful what you put on the Internet, the fact is, people use the Internet in ways that don’t always jive with what their employers want. And I’d rather people use the Internet to its fullest and use it as a vehicle for honesty, rather than people becoming sickened with putting up an unenjoyable front all the time and generally losing interest in its value over time. People want to have fun with this, not kiss their boss’s butt. I make my living with computers, and when people burn out on using them because they don’t let those people really achieve what they want, I get hurt. That’s a very simple way to put it, but it’s more than that. It’s a matter of Rule of Law.

See, employers can cut you for any reason they choose, and most people know it. Especially in a down economy. Especially when they know there are people out there lined up for a job and many are desperate. Desperate to even take a smaller paycheck and work longer hours, and employers are always looking for ways to put more money back in their own pockets. This is just how the market works.

You can get dinged for even what would be considered a minor faux pas. Even if it isn’t a faux pas at all. You can get dinged just for using social networking in the manner it was intended. You’re out for drinks one night, and you tweet or update your Facebook that you’re out at a bar. This is a very normal thing you’d do with social networking, and you’d think “no big deal”…right?

Well, not so fast. There’s very little that protects an employee from the wrath of a supervisor (or colleagues) who decide they want the job or salary that you’ve got (or want someone else doing it) and are willing to play a little politics to get around labor/employment laws. Building up a case to get someone kicked out can be easier than you think…it just really involves establishing a reputation in an office and just enough evidence to insinuate that it’s true. I’ve known very good engineers over the years who’ve been outed simply because their co-workers or supervisors had a disagreement about something that ended up in certain parties creating a bad reputation for the one they wanted out. You’d be surprised how often this really happens…I’ve stayed a contractor for years because when I see this happen on a team, I generally look for work elsewhere because I know I’m being put in a position where I wouldn’t be able to reason with others and do my job right without putting my job in jeopardy.

The point of social networks isn’t to constantly update about how much you love your job, or what technology you think is wicked cool ALL THE TIME simply because you know your coworkers and bosses read your page and form opinions on you. That they want you to be and think a certain way and have a certain image or they don’t think you’re a “good fit” for the team.

Social networking is about facilitating actual, real, social situations. Like meetups, or hanging out, or movies, or yes, social drinking. Even if it’s just letting your friends know what you’re up to or maintaining your social image. Sure, there are probably a few people out there willing to maintain multiple accounts…to use an alias to hide behind for one while maintaining a facade for others, or to just live in that facade and cope…but that really defeats what a social networking service should be. But then again, that’s an example of a user creating their own privacy control on their own by maintaining multiple accounts, so one could just say that they’re working around a shortcoming in the service itself.

Anyway, the point here is that as an individual, you should have the right to at least, on a superficial “browsing” level, control access to any elements you regard as private and prevent them from being used on the Internet in a way that could jeopardize your situation. If an employer requests data or attempts to hack around to get at information, either they’re committing a crime that can be grounds for a civil suit, or they get away with it (say, they use someone else’s profile who is in your network to get at your information) and there’s little you can do about THAT. But you should be able to protect yourself from showing up to work and being handed a pink slip by some HR person you’ve never met because your boss felt like you weren’t giving your all because you had been out drinking on a work night. You give them 8+ hours a day of your life, and if they make an assumption that you aren’t giving it your best effort simply because of something you do on your own time, that’s outside the scope of what they can use to fire you and you should be able to defend yourself.

This is why social networking sites that are SUCCESSFUL have a means of allowing a user or site owner a means to ensure privacy for themselves and their group. If you choose to open yourself up to whatever, that’s your problem if you get dinged. That’s the same as showing up to work and calling your boss a shithead in front of everyone and telling them that you aren’t going to do anything but read web cartoons all day. But if you do that privately while you’re at lunch with a friend who doesn’t work there, unless your friend rats you out, if your boss is sitting at another table and you’re unaware of that fact that he’s overhearing your conversation, they don’t have any grounds to just fire you right there. That’s thought police territory, and if you stick up for that, you’re kind of a scumbag. I’ve been a supervisor multiple times, and I’d never even consider firing someone for even insulting me to my face.

Anyway, that’s my take on it. If a person has access to control access to their information, and has the right to completely wipe out their information from a service if they feel their information has been used in a way they don’t agree with, I say that’s what a user should expect. If you don’t have either option, I’m not saying your service should be sued, I’m saying that your service sucks and I’ll tell anyone who asks about it just that.

It’s unfortunate that people paint a picture of others simply by a collection of random thoughts on the Internet, even if they work with that person every day and talk to them and know how they really are. But people do this. It shows how immature most people still are in regards to the Internet and communication through this medium that they can judge a person based on a collection of loose thoughts rather than on the whole. But as a person trying to pay your bills, feed your dog, and make a life and career for yourself, this whole thing can really hurt you badly and you should be provided the means to defend yourself from that. It falls back to the very meaning of Rule of Law, protection of the weak from the strong (or one from many). You should be able to protect your own financial future from someone who unfairly twists words against you and twists your own ideas into libel against you. We have laws that protect people from this, and this whole privacy issue falls under those laws.

I guess I would rather see the Internet be used in an open, fun, and honest manner…and all those things kind of rely on each other for them all to exist. People are happy when they feel they can put an idea out there that makes them laugh, or makes their friends laugh, or is how they really feel at that point in time. People aren’t really happy when they feel like they have to do something out of fear. When people aren’t happy, they don’t use something. When they don’t use something, I have a harder time finding work. There you go.

You hit Engadget or Gizmodo, and I swear, whenever someone brings up “Palm”, it’s almost as if they really want Palm to go out of business. It’s a visceral hate for a small company that has innovated so much in the market and has really been a great player in the mobile market for much longer than most. They were the ones with the vision 14 years ago, when Apple and Microsoft had given up on the mobile space. When phones were getting smarter, they gave you the first Treo. They have a long history of really taking great care of their developers and delivering a real personal touch, instead of hiding behind a mass of “MVPs” or “Apple Geniuses” or “constant beta programs” that Microsoft, Apple, and Google have always utilized to keep an arms length from developers.

When I was coding my first app, I actually had an email discussion with the top engineer on the PalmOS. He encouraged me to really integrate my app in a way I wouldn’t have tried on Apple or Microsoft, or even Google. They were way cool to me for such a long time and I owe a big chunk of my career to them because I can honestly say they helped me get my start in this field over 10 years go.

Now today, I look at the different hot operating systems out there…and I shake my head. The sorts of things that Apple uses to explain why the iPhone single tasks reminds me of the same things Palm said were the reason why the old PalmOS single tasked…except Palm’s excuse actually made sense. Their event driven operating system ran on 8-16 MHz processors early on. Microsoft recently decided that their new Windows Phone 7 would be “single tasking” but would “preserve the state” each time. PalmOS apps had a built in database that stored each applications state within the executable (well, prc file) itself. So if you backed it up, it had its settings baked in. If you beamed it to someone, it was already configured. It was ultra simple and worked really well…provided developers actually saved state. All of them had lists of application icons you had to search through. How many different names must you have for a launcher? And look at how many mobile devices out there that had those little buttons at the bottom of the phone. Because that design just worked. Just from basic concepts, Palm had PalmOS flogged to death for doing basically what all these modern OS’s do.

But that wasn’t the end of the flogging from the geek community…oh no. There was this thing that Palm’s spinoff, Palmsource, made called Cobalt. PalmOS 6. Never got onto any devices. Utilized a microkernel based operating system running multithreaded C++ apps in different threads, all managed by their own kernel in each thread. The geeks mocked it and called it a joke without even working with it. I actually DID write some apps for the emulator. Now, a couple years ago, Google bought this little company called Android that made an OS that has gotten some headlines recently. Apparently, their OS runs multiple apps in java virtual machines. Which basically is a way clunkier and overheady architecture than Cobalt was. But it’s basically the same concept. Who got flogged, and who got the headlines and fanboys?

There’s a reason why I have a Palm Pre, and not an iPhone or a Droid. I’ve been there, done that, for both the iPhone and Droid. And I was there 8 years ago for the iPhone with oldschool Palm OS and the Treo, and I was there 5 years ago for Android with Cobalt (which I never was able to have a phone for, sadly). I’m past all that. iPhone and Android are old architectures that have had lipstick applied to them and a big corporation’s name stamped on ’em (in some capacity).

The Pre and webOS do something different and new. They make extensive use of server side processing power and storage to make the device work “better” for less. Of course, too many people can’t see that far ahead and can’t get their heads wrapped around how cool this will be. They’re still living in 2005 and their expectations for an operating system on a smartphone are out of date. Palm always finds a way to stay a step ahead of the game, but they always get spanked for it by the PR and marketing forces that surround their competitors.

However, since we can see how your favorite non-Palm smartphone basically copies Palm…if Palm were to “go away”, I guess you’ll have to settle for less innovation, huh?

The irony, though, is that Palm can’t “go away” anymore. They played a card that no one noticed…webOS is an open technology. It’s infinitely modable and improvable outside of Palm. If Palm were to go under, because the core of webOS is essentially linux, it can continue to grow as a result of the already thriving webOS internals community that has grown up around it. Think those people are making money on it? Nope. They do it because they like it. It’s a fun hobby and they think it’s really cool. It’ll live on no matter how people who analyze stocks for a living feel about it’s technical aspects. And guess what? If Palm as a company folded, you can bet those guys would find a way to load webOS on all sorts of hardware.

I heard that a school here in town banned hugs. Apparently, middle school kids were hugging TOO much. Now, my first response was “what kind of neo-puritan fascist crap is this?” Then I heard the other side…apparently, kids hug each other so much before classes that they’re late for class, and they “peer pressure” other kids into hugging.

That’s when I realized…kids today are fucking dorks. My generation really didn’t do them any favors when we raised them up to be complete goobers. I can almost imagine them seeing grown ups hug each other once in awhile at bars and parties on TV and taking it way too far. “Oh wait, I have to hug like 15 people, including that guy over there that I don’t know too well” before I go to class or I won’t be popular. When I was a kid, that kid who went around hugging people got his ass beat down at some point. That’s because we didn’t put up with that kind of nonsense back then. I don’t know. Maybe it was because these kids were raised with social networks or something and they’re starved for physical contact. In any case, kids are fucking dorks today. We screwed them up bad if they’re that needy for physical attention.

Republicans and Libertarians are the sorts of people who’d willingly lose everything they have to a shell game, and can’t figure out that the people who make all the money couldn’t care less about their “ideals”. Those people are money junkies. They only want to make more and more of it. If they can get it through a government program or by swindling stupid Libertarians into thinking they’ll get more return on their investment by handing their cash over to a private entity for important services rather than government…only to have that private entity make off with the cash…there’s no difference.

Libertarians and Republicans just don’t have street smarts. When you get a bunch of people to pool their money together, then elect one of them to manage the pot, there’s considerably more transparency there than if “some guy” came along with a marketing pitch and you handed your cash off to the guy, only to have the guy decide that providing that service to you isn’t “financially viable”. You can’t help but know what’s going on when you know the guy who is managing your money and he’s not getting the job done, but the private company that takes your cash? Go ahead, try and sue them. They already covered their bases by quietly changing their contract on you when you weren’t paying attention because you were just trying to deal with everything else in your life. Now, they have your money and you’ll get NOTHING for it.

Need me to explain how a shell game scam works? Apparently, Libertarians and Republicans sure do.

And for all Democrats who think they can stay home just because of one bill this November…think about the Citizens United decision. Our Supreme Court, a group of APPOINTED officials, who have the last say about the law of the land, decided in an activist right wing decision to give corporations “personhood”, thus effectively killing anything remotely similar to campaign finance reform. And before you think it, unions do not contribute anywhere as much as corporations on account of Republicans effectively breaking the unions down into pretty much nothing over the past 40 years.

Their argument was that because corporations were made up of a bunch of individuals, that the whole collective was actually an individual itself…which might work if corporations were actually collectives and not dictatorships ruled by a small number of people. If the voice of the company janitor is the equivalent of the CEO, then that argument holds true, but that’s obviously not how things are. And that sort of stupid, crazy decision is only going to be the first of a lot of bad decisions made by Supreme Court justices with an obvious right wing corporate bias. Unless you hold on for dear life and keep Democrats in office to keep the balance of the court, it’s just going to get worse. Think the Health Care bill isn’t progressive enough now? You wait until the President is trying to make bills even more “Republican friendly” to get them passed. You’ll be feeling pretty stupid about your little silly protest vote then.