Why should I care what color the bikeshed is?

In tracing back about how to get the word ManagementBonus to pluarlize in Rails I ended up finding this:
Why should I care what color the bikeshed is?

Some people have commented that the amount of noise generated by a change is inversely proportional to the complexity of the change.

That combined with the overal summary of the article that basically the less complicated something is the more people who have an opinion. (I would probably add a corallary that the complexity has to do with perception and not fact – since people often think complex things are easy so the actual complexity doesn’t serve as a good deterrent to keep people who don’t know any better out of the discussion.)

And just in case you were wondering about the original Ruby problem.

They are now nice enough to expose the Inflector in the config/environment.rb. One special trick. It considers the model name as a single word. So this didn’t work:

inflect.plural /^(bonus)$/i, '\1es'
inflect.singular /^(bonus)es/i, '\1'

But this did:

inflect.plural /^(managementbonus)$/i, '\1es'
inflect.singular /^(managementbonus)es/i, '\1'

Don’t Worry About Launching – You Can Be Bought Anyway

MeasureMap goes to Google

Wow – proof positive that things are headed to crazy town again :) Google managed to buy up a start project that hasn’t even launched. I don’t know the terms of the deal but I hope this isn’t the harbringer of the bad days of the bubble all over again – where companies can use over inflated stock values to buy anything and everything that moves.

On the plus side – it’s a Rails app. I love Rails! So maybe this will “legitimize” the platform in the eyes of the haters out there. Who knows? I’m hoping this doesn’t trigger the erruption of Web 2.0 web analytic projects built in Rails just because that’s what MeasureMap did…..


Procrastination: Ten Things To Know

Ok so I saw this and the thing that really stood out was this:

Procrastinators are made not born. Procrastination is learned in the family milieu, but not directly. It is one response to an authoritarian parenting style. Having a harsh, controlling father keeps children from developing the ability to regulate themselves, from internalizing their own intentions and then learning to act on them. Procrastination can even be a form of rebellion, one of the few forms available under such circumstances. What’s more, under those household conditions, procrastinators turn more to friends than to parents for support, and their friends may reinforce procrastination because they tend to be tolerant of their excuses.

At some point or another , my brother actually introduced this idea to me. He called it “Malicious Compliance”. Basically you go along because you don’t have any choice – but you take every opportunity to sabotage or undermine. Procrastination is one of the tools you can use to thwart someone who has authority over you. Especially because it is covert – it is not often recognized for what it is. Which means like most things – once you know – it is easier to detect and address.

I never thought about there being a link back to childhood. And not that any economic group necessarily has the corner on the dominaring father, but it reminds me a lot of the discussion I heard on NPR a couple of years ago. Blue Collar Roots.

Where it talks about the differences between the behaviors that are part of “blue collar” vs. “white collar” thinking. I end up finding this sort of discussion about the differences that economics plays in society a lot more interesting – if for no other reason than the fact that I don’t have any ties back in my own ethnicity.

Live From The Field

Great tapas and live flamenco at Carmen’s. Looks like we found a hidden treasure in San Antonio


Live From The Field

Poster for my beer class


Battaglia di Algeri, La (1965)

Battaglia di Algeri, La (1965)

I wasn’t sure what I was getting into with this film. It was supposed to be about insurgency. It focuses on the the movement to liberate Algeria from the French. I saw a trailer for it a year or so ago and it finally showed up in the Netflix queue.

This is an old film, but you would almost not know that from the tight way it is edited. And the black and white film helps make it even more tense. When you consider that most of the people in the film were not professional actors and that none of the footage in the film is “real” – it is incredibly amazing how well they manged to make a film that feels more like a documentary than a piece of fiction.

Just to give you an idea of how serious this film is – the Pentegon apparently screened it in 2003 to get some insight into how the insugency works. And if you were looking for parralles to Iraq – they abound!

There are two things that I have to talk about in relation to the film. The first is that at one point in the film the French government escalates the confrontation by bringing in the French military to supress the rebels. The press asks the Col. in charge about the methods he is using to get information out of the rebels. Those methods include serious forms of torture.

The word “torture” doesn’t appear in our orders. We’ve always spoken of interrogation as the only valid method in a police operation directed against unknown enemies. As for the NLF, they request that their members, in the event of capture, should maintain silence for twenty-four hours, and then they may talk. So, the organization has already had the time it needs to render any information useless. What type of interrogation should we choose, the one the courts use for a murder case, that drags on for months?

In the end he says that the question is not about his methods but whether they should be in Algeria. If the answer is yes – then “all” consequences of that choice must be accepted. This is amazing straight forward thinking and unfortunately echos many of the news reports that come out of Iraq. That is the most basic question every democracy must ask itself when it engages in war and suppression – there will be consequences – by seeking the goal you must accept them as you go.

The thing that really gives the film such amazing authenticity is that no one is without sin in the film. The rebel/terrorist and the military soldiers both do good and bad things. It is complicated to say who is ultimately right or wrong. The film is obviously sympathetic to the rebels. And I was supprised at how well that sympathy got me to feel for them. The problem is that when you fight a a-symetric war – where one side has rocks and IED and the other side has tanks and military forces – they out come is sure to be most terrible for those people who are simply present but not actually involved.

Bottom Line: 41 years later – this film has a resonance that makes it amazing to watch. It is gripping and tense, and leaves you with a feeling that you have looked into the darkness of men’s souls. It should be seen by everyone who lives in a “Post 9/11 world”.

Economic Improvement & Freedom

I was reading about EasyUbunut and I found a link to Minarchism. This is a term I had never heard before, but I find the idea worth reading up on if for no other reason than it’s realtionship to old school (aka Adam Smith) micro-economic ideas about what role the government should play in a society.

I heard a quote on NPR a while ago that said ~ “Democratic societies become more democratic over time.” Meaning that although the pendulam swings back and forth – in the end more freedoms are granted over time. This was in relation to the idea that gay marriage may be universally part of the law. If you look at the history of our country, it is certainly more free and democratic now than it was when the country was started. How far it will go and how long that will take is probably something that future historians will get to answer.

Which lead me to this:

Which shows how free countries are based on a scale of Economic Freedom

I was really impressed that according to the study Hong Kong remains number one even after being re-absorbed by China. Though I have seen a few articles about Chian asserting political pressure on the area – I’m assuming they have left most of the economic structure intact in order to reap the economic benefits.
Some countries take step forward and some go backward

Overall, 99 countries worldwide are freer than they were last year and 51 are less free. Five countries remained in the same degree of freedom.

Here is the map of GDP versuses the Economic Freedom

The first thought that struck me is – I wonder if it is as simple as the richer people the are the more likely they have lawyers to fight for them…

Oh course this whole thing follows ideals of laissez-faire economic theory (See our man Adam Smith & that other dude – John Maynard Keynes) which based on the number of books/articles and what not published against globalism and multi-national corporations – it’s no suprise that the above charts are criticized for congradulating countries that fit a certain mold of economic behavior. So take it with whatever grain of salt suits you.

I was interested in seeing if there was an equivilant Index of Politicol Freedom. I wasn’t able to find one. It would actually be interesting to see the comparison/connection between Economic freedoma and civil/politicol freedom. I can only assume that in most cases one helps the other – since it has been my experience that rich people like being able to do what they want. I suppose the test would be to see how much that desire translates into rights and freedoms for the less than rich.

Preventing SSH Dictionary Attacks With DenyHosts

Fine I admit it – I’m one of the application developers that true Sys-Admins hate. Yes – I admit it – I don’t care about security. Ok that’s probably too strong a statement – I do care but I will admit that it’s not often the first thing on my mind.

I’ve been working on making sure that Cross side scripting and SQL injection don’t effect my rails apps. But my server is another matter.

I mean I try to keep it up to date. Thanks to sarge I’ve been able to stay on the straight and narrow of released (All the other servers I have end up running Debian unstable).

That being said I ran across this today:

Preventing SSH Dictionary Attacks With DenyHosts

I’m a big fan of HowTo Forge already – since they have a number of articles that helped me get things sorted out that I’m sure I could have figured out eventually but it’s so much nicer to just be able to sit down and get something to work and then start tweaking as oppsoed to my normal method – which is to spend a lot of time just getting it to work.

The basic idea of the tool is that it tracks bad login attempts and just shuts out the ip address. Seems straight forward enough. Just the kind of security I like – make sense on it’s face and isn’t terribly difficult to install or remove. Maybe I’ll get the hang of this Sys-Admin thing some day…

Elektra (2005)

Elektra (2005)

I was a comic book collector growing up – so I end up seeing all the nuvo super hero movies I can get my hands on. The great weakness of all big budget super hero films tends be that they spend half the movie explaining how the person got to be the super hero they are.

If you come into the film knowing those details, it’s a waste of time, and if you don’t it always ends up feeling like they are trying to merge to completely different stories (Spider-Man/Batman 1 being the exceptions).

In this movie, they dispense with the background, for almost everyone. Which as they say – is throwing the baby out with the bath water.

Elektra – she’s an assassin who can tell the future (by a few minutes). She kills people for money. Her father was domineering. Her mother was killed by a ninja. Go!

The Elektra never really gets you involved. At some point you are supposed to root for the hero. Or the very least, you are supposed to worry about the helpless charges she has sworn to protect. It’s a story as old as Shakespeare – girl meets boy. Girl is paid to kill boy and daughter. Daughter is the chosen one. Special villans show up every 5 minutes. Girl becomes good and every one lives happily ever after.

I have a pretty open mind on these things (and I like Jennifer Garner) it’s just such a shame it was all handled so poorly. Worse still – they managed to come up with a cast of villians who are simultaneously cool and fresh off their appearence in this Heineken Commercial. To be fair the villians were the best part. I walked away from the film wishing that they had spend more time explaining them and less time having them show up – do their thing for all of 5 minutes and then get killed by Elektra.

The saddest thing about this film is that it and films like Cat Woman – tarnish the reputation of Xena. Meaning that when the studios release a big budget movie about a woman who can kick ass and it loses lots and lots of money – it’s rarely blamed on the crappy writing or terrible pacing , instead the blame is placed on the female lead. That’s just lame!

Bottom Line: X-men 3 is coming and Spider-Man is available on DVD. Xena is probably on right now. All of these are much much better options than this movie.

Interfaces Can Kill

Ok so I was having a discussion with my finacee over dinner about an AirScooter
The inventor is interviewed in the latest issue of Make. I mentioned how cool it would be to have one.

She pointed out that John Denver died flying some sort of experimental hover craft and that it might not be a good idea to follow in his foot steps.

I didn’t believe her so I did some research and it turns out she was half right. He was flying something experimental but it was a plane not a hover craft. In the course of the research I found this article -

When Interfaces Kill: What Really Happened to John Denver

Let that be a lesson to you – interfaces that could get people killed require a lot more thought than building an interface to the latest Web2.0 tagging podcast site. I’m glad I’m much more likely to work on the later than the former.

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