The Misadventures of Quinxy truths, lies, and everything in between!

3Sep/150

The Ongoing Curiosity of China

China mystifies me.  Their recent military parade celebrating the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII is one confounding example.  They stage a huge parade to show off all their offensive and defensive weapons, shut down the city days in advance to make sure people are out of the way and the air is unpolluted, invite some foreign dignitaries, and ban their citizens from watching the parade in person (no standing on balconies, no opening windows, no looking out windows, no standing on the street watching, no watching from cars, no photos, etc.); presumably there is approved news coverage they can watch/read.  But, what a bizarre idea?  I thought events like this were meant to impress the people, involve the people, akin to the pre-war Nazi parades.  When you have to keep the people away out of fear of activism or terrorism then the parade seems more an admission of abject defeat than triumph.

^ Q

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25Aug/151

A Chew Too Far : When Gum’s Polymers Unravel

I learned a very interesting lesson in 1995 or so, sitting in a materials engineering class in college.  We'd recently learned about polymers and how the long chains of entwined molecules worked, from a mechanical and chemical standpoint.  I happened to be chewing on a piece of gum.  I had been chewing on that piece of gum for probably half the day; I began in one long lecture and just continued into the next long lecture, either forgetting to spit it out or finding no appropriate place to do so in the limited time between or during classes.  And then, seated in class, thousands of chews and hundreds of minutes in, the gum I was gnawing on disintegrated, going from a resilient rubbery mass to a foul liquiform mess.  Any solidity was gone, it was just suddenly simply everywhere in my mouth, clinging to everything and nothing, desperately needing to be spit out.  I quickly excused myself to the bathroom and did so.  I had no idea what had happened at first, it being such an unexpected and seemingly unlikely event.  But as I sat through the remainder of class it became clear to me, the gum had undergone some sort of spontaneous depolymerization, presumably as a result of prolonged contact with saliva and not chewing.  The long and entwined molecules had suddenly come apart.  That this happened during a materials class in which we'd recently studied polymers was a delicious coincidence.

^ Q

10Aug/1516

Penn & Teller Bullet Catch Revealed

bullet_catch_1One of magician act Penn & Teller's favorite tricks is their Bullet Catch trick, you can see them perform their Bullet Catch on their Fool Us show (for as long as it lasts on YouTube).

After seeing some people inaccurately explain the trick I figured I'd post my belief of how the trick is done.

The trick is simple in design, two audience members come on stage, one for each magician to work with.  Each audience member uniquely signs the jacket and projectile of a bullet and those bullets are supposedly fired by each magician across the stage to the other magician, with the bullet miraculously being caught in their teeth.  The bullets and jackets are inspected by the audience members and the projectiles appear to have indeed crossed the stage.  The trick is performed with the magicians' careful to explain that none of the participants nor any props ever cross the stage, making the firing of the guns appear the only method by which the bullets could be transferred.

But, it's a magic trick, so of course not everything is as it seems...

Now, revealing secrets of a magic trick might be a douche-y thing to do.  I'm of mixed opinions.  When a magician has put a tremendous amount of time and effort constructing a trick it seems rather cruel to have an audience, particularly in the age of infinite instant replays, deconstruct it.  But, a) the bullet catch is a very old trick (beginning as early as the 1600s) and b) Penn & Teller's career has often involved divulging tricks and discussing publicly how tricks are performed.  So it seems like discussing a trick of theirs is fair game.

Signed Projectile Never in the Gun

After inserting the bullets Penn & Teller let the members of the audience confirm that it is their bullet in the gun.  But the magicians control the view.  Look at the placement of the bullet, it is inserted far enough into the chamber that the view of the projectile is obscured.  It is obscured because the signed projectile is no longer in the jacket, having been palmed and then secreted away.  The jacket, the powder, and a wax projectile remains (a bit of wax is what breaks the glass).

bullet_catch_2

Projectile Passed to Stage Hand

Getting the projectile to the other side is the central feat of the trick.  And the first thing to note is that after Penn & Teller have loaded the guns they go and manipulate the bullet backstops.   The backstops are positioned against the wall and at such an angle, this obscures the magicians' hands for a moment and would allow stage hands to take something from the magicians' hands without being observed.

bullet_catch_3

bullet_catch_4

The stage hands would then have ~16 seconds to run around from one side to the other and place the bullet such that the other magician could access it.

Along the way the stage hand would need to force the bullet through a manual contraption which adds the rifling grooves to the bullet (which Penn & Teller show the audience) and perhaps gets dusted with freshly burnt gun powder for added effect.

How the Bullet Gets into their Mouths

The bullet proof vests that Penn & Teller wear are initially hanging from the edge of the stage wall, again a very suggestive location, since a stage hand could easily access (part of) the vests without being observed by the audience.  I believe that once the stand hand makes it to the other side he/she secures the bullet to inside top of the vest via a magnet (the bullet having been modified to have a steel core).

bullet_catch_6

When Penn & Teller put the vests on over their head their mouths are obscured, and I believe they collect the bullets with their mouths and tuck them into their cheeks.  Penn is talking while this is happening so clearly he does it very deftly, pausing in his speech in a purely normal manner as though between words.

bullet_catch_7

And voila, the bullet has been transferred and the rest of the trick is relatively simple.  A bullet with a wax projectile is fired with less than the normal amount of powder it breaks the glass pane the magicians have placed between them and the magicians relocate the projectile from the cheeks to their teeth.

 

Alternative theories I've read suggest that stage hands watching TV monitors reproduce the markings of the audience members, but I think Penn & Teller are a more sophisticated than that, and the method described above would allow the projectile to actually travel from one side to the other unseen.

Personally I think this is one of their weaker tricks, so I've been surprised to hear them describe it in such laudatory terms.  Perhaps I have a bias against the trick because they really play up the greatly exaggerated danger aspect and that feels a bit cheap to me.

^ Quinxy

3Aug/150

Quit Your Bitchin’ About Airplane Flights – You’re Getting What You Paid For

I get a little tired of seeing people complain about air travel and lamenting how different it is now compared to the 1950s and 1960s.  People act as though the problem is that the airlines have reduced quality in order to make lavish profits.  But it's the passengers who have led the change, not the airlines.  Ever compare the inflation adjusted cost of an airline ticket from the 1950s/1960s to one of today?  The 1950s/1960s ticket costs about the same as a first class ticket does today (adjusted for inflation and buying power about four to five times what a modern coach seat costs).  In other words, everyone on that bygone plane was paying for and receiving first class accommodations and treatment.  If the public had wanted to continue doing that arrangement the airlines would have continued providing it, but we all collectively decided to spend our money elsewhere and the first class cabin shrunk from the entire plane down to just a few rows.  If you're not willing to spend money on a first class ticket today, then be quiet, sit down, and enjoy your glorified cross-country bus ride.

^ Q

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30Jul/154

Making the Best of Amazon Cloud Drive – Mapped Drive – Encryption – Speed

Amazon Cloud Drive recently relaunched with an enticing offer: unlimited storage in the cloud for $59/year.  Imagine a world in which you never run out of disk space to store photos, video, backups, etc.!  And where you never have to worry about drive failures, or backups, because they back everything up for you!

Sounds great, right?  Certainly a much better deal than you'd get with Amazon's S3 or DropBox or most of the other major players.  But, the devil is in the details...  and Amazon has made sure to this offering of theirs isn't going to break them financially.

The Amazon Cloud Drive software they provide is effectively useless.  They removed the previously available sync feature, presumably in an effort to discourage users from actually using their service.  And it is woefully weak in terms of basic capabilities.  You can drag and drop to upload (but no ability to choose a remote folder) and if you want to view or navigate your files you click a link in the app and it opens up a browser window and you have to use a very crude web interface.  There's just something so sad about software engineered purposely to discourage user's receiving maximum benefit of a service.

Fortunately there is a way around this pain point.  Amazon has made available an API that software vendors have used to allow you to map a network/local drive to an Amazon Cloud Drive.  The best products for these that I have tested are NetDrive2 (PC) and ExpanDrive (PC/Mac).  Using these products makes your Amazon Cloud Drive just like a locally attached hard drive, only much, much slower.  Amazon throttles your upload and download speed to the service, so uploads work at about 1 MB/s and downloads are at about 10 MB/s.  This limitation pretty much guarantees that they don't have to worry about you over-using their service.  To upload 1 TB it'll take you at least 12 days, assuming no errors, hiccups, problems; I've had enough trouble (timeouts, errors, etc.) transferring mere gigabytes that my primary hope of the service, freeing up local external drives by transferring the long term backups they contain to my Amazon Cloud Drive is probably not going to happen.  I can't really blame them for crippling the service in an effort to be profitable, but it does annoy me a little bit.

Beyond their crippled software and their transfer throttling, a much more serious issue exists...  Data security.  Now there are two main concerns here: integrity and privacy.  Personally, within this context, I am not worried about integrity as I would never transfer to a cloud drive like this anything which I do not also have on at least one local drive (with the exception of older system backups or files which I would not really mind losing).  Amazon Cloud Drive claims (vaguely) that they backup your data, but they provide no real details, so I cannot trust it.  But what does worry me quite a bit is privacy.  We are never more than a few weeks away from major news stories disclosing that yet another big company has had its users' data stolen.  Given that only a username and password is needed to access your Amazon Cloud Drive files, and that you do not keep encryption keys locally on your computer, I would never consider Amazon Cloud Drive a secure solution.  That said, it can still be useful as long as you never upload any files containing personal data without first separately encrypting them (using some other encryption solution).  Intriguingly I found a genius solution to this general problem.  Cryptomator sits atop your cloud drive (as its own mapped drive) and adds encryption to both the files and the file names/directory structure you create within it.  Sadly, for Amazon Cloud Drive users, it was designed with syncing cloud solutions in mind, such as Google Drive, and not Amazon Cloud Drive.  Because it expects to operate on local files which are later synced to the cloud it performs file operations directly on the files where they sit (for encryption/decryption) which seem to involve i/o commands not supported by the mapped cloud drives (I tested this in both NetDrive2 and ExpanDrive).  I have talked to the developer and may try to patch their code to see if merely making the file operations take place on a true local drive might not fix the issue.  You could use Cryptomator as you would a syncing drive service, but that means that you would need at least one extra local copy of all the content you wish to ultimately send to your Amazon Cloud Drive, and then you'd also need to sync that content in an automated way (using something like Good Sync, which I use for other things) , and that's not a viable or acceptable solution for me.  For now at least the only option is to use other products to encrypt your personal files before uploading.

So, my ultimate conclusion is that for $59/year Amazon Cloud Drive when used with NetDrive and acknowledging its serious limitations, is worth it, but only a little more than just.  I would be much happier paying $199/year for a non-crippled, effectively unlimited, and truly secure solution.

^Q

1Jul/150

Moments of Clever – The Joy of Overcoming Minor Crises

There are too few moments when I feel like I get to apply anything like cleverness. With programming you certainly can, but it is always 1% extreme cleverness and 99% tedious plodding. This past Monday I got to be a little clever in the real world... It wasn't the extreme type, just a bit of very minor but satisfying cleverness. I was driving back from New England. About six hours from home the battery light comes on, indicating under-voltage. It was instantly clear the alternator was almost certainly the problem (or the rectifier/regulator within the alternator). The battery was losing charge. A car runs fine without an alternator, since the battery alone can power the spark plugs, fuel pump, lights, A/C, etc. while it still has charge. The car would run until the battery fell below 8-10v (at which point the spark plugs or fuel pump would stop working). So it was a race to see if I could make it home before the battery voltage dropped too low. Sadly by the time I saw the voltage problem it was already well below normal.

Now my car has a rather unusual device that I installed when I thought I was going to get into off roading more than I ultimately did. It has two full sized batteries rather than one, and they are controlled by a switch next to the steering wheel. I can run off one battery, the other battery, or both batteries. It was in the both position when the problem occurred, which meant that both batteries had been depleted before I knew there was a problem. But it still meant I had twice the watt-hours compared to a single battery. First thing I did was switch to the main battery only. That way I could keep going towards home and when that battery died I would know it and be able to switch to the other which would have enough to get me off the road and to a hotel or service station. A few miles later I realized I needed to conserve electricity to extend my range, so I pulled over and pulled all the most draining and unnecessary relays/fuses under the hood.  I killed my daytime running lights (which would be the biggest avoidable draw of current), killed my interior (door triggered) lights, killed the heating/ac, etc. Sadly I did a stupid thing and shut off the engine not knowing how long I was going to stop and forgetting that cranking the engine would use more energy than just idling for a few minutes. So when I go to restart I find the main battery doesn't have enough juice to start it up. I switch to the second battery, start the car, then back to the main battery to run until it dies (since the main could still power things once it was running).

About an hour later the battery needle has dropped well below 50% and the dash warning lights all illuminate, the battery is effectively dead. I quickly switch to the second and keep going. I realize I'm probably not going to make it but now I've only got about 3.5 hours left. I then come up with another solution to extend my range, I keep myself under-shifted, so that the engine is always revving ~30% higher than normal. I keep it in 4th gear doing 80 to keep the RPM up (but still far below redline), and keep in 3rd or 2nd when the speed drops for construction/traffic. Usually a failing alternator is still putting out something, albeit way too little, but keeping higher RPMs will help it put out more and slow though not reverse the battery drain. And on I went. The battery drain was non-linear, so I was doing fantastically well until I got within about an hour from home and then the voltage started to plummet. But, somehow I managed to make it home. I don't think I would have made it even five or ten more miles. The voltage was right where the voltage had been when the other battery stopped being able to keep the car going. The windows would barely roll up after I shut off the engine.

I love non-life threatening crises, they sharpen the mind wonderfully.  Whether it's car trouble, being locked out of your home, or what have you.

^ Q

30Jan/150

Jetico’s BestCrypt Volume Encryption Can Lead to Destroyed/Damaged/Lost Data

With the demise of TrueCrypt I moved to Jetico's BestCrypt Volume Encryption solution, having used them years ago for container encryption.  Yesterday I made the horrible discovery that there was a serious issue with their volume encryption software that caused me to lose (thus far) almost all my data on a drive.  I then discovered the problem existed on every Best Crypt volume I had created, across two computers.

Something about the recent BestCrypt's Volume Encryption version  (I was using 3.70.09) was causing problems with Windows built-in chkdsk.  I did a chkdsk on an almost new external drive I attached last month and got dozens of peculiar error messages, many like "File record segment X is unreadable."  I thought perhaps it might have been related to having to hard reset the computer after it froze the week before.

Knowing it was a BC volume I did a quick Google to see if the error came up in relation to Jetico/BestCrypt keywords and didn't see anything, so I thought it was just a disk issue.

Now, I'm clearly partly at fault for what happens next.  I knew that chkdsk /f would modify the disk, so to be entirely safe I should have backed it up.  But as it was primarily a backup drive, as it was 3 TB, as I had no other larger drives available, and as I had never seen chkdsk make an otherwise working drive worse in ~20 years of using it, I decided instead to use Beyond Compare to create a snapshot of the disk (file names/dates/folder structure only) so I could diff the post-chkdsk results with the pre-chkdsk state and see what if any files were modified/removed/etc.  I ran chkdsk /f and to my horror saw not only the huge list of "File record segment X is unreadable." but also adding 1200+ sectors to the bad clusters file and message that chkdsk died with an "unspecified error".  My drive contents were almost entirely gone.  I tried to run chkdsk /f again, same result.

In the moments after I realized I bent the rules a bit and had some things on the drive which weren't backups so I'm very sad and frustrated about that. (I'm waiting on a replacement drive so I can image the corrupted drive and see if anything is salvageable with recovery tools.)

I then checked my other BestCrypt volume (my main system drive) and sure enough it reported the exact same type of error with chkdsk (I had the wisdom not to try and fix the problem this time).

I also booted up a desktop computer on which I had initially installed Jetico's volume encryption a month or so ago as a test prior to installing it on my laptop and found that it, too, reported the same problem. That desktop is not in active use and had been idle since shortly after testing. And that computer is almost a vanilla install of Windows 8.1, completely different hardware (years older than my laptop), very little software installed (TrueCrypt was).

I contacted Jetico and they responded that they had seen this:

Thank you for using our software! We apologize for the inconveniences being in place.

With BestCrypt Volume Encryption v.3.70.09 installed, the chkdsk utility may indeed act abnormally and report
multiple errors on the encrypted drives. The effect is very rare (we have received a similar report only
twice) and could not be initially reproduced on our test systems. We've already implemented a fix and
released the updated version of the program. Please follow the link https://www.jetico.com/bcve_setup.exe to
download the setup executable for BestCrypt Volume Encryption v.3.70.10 Run the downloaded file and proceed
through the installation wizard to refresh your installation, no advance decryption is needed. Reboot is
required for the update process to complete.

After installing the new version I can confirm chkdsk no longer reports the problems on the laptop's main system partition.  But my trashed mostly backup drive is still trashed.  My files remain gone.

I think the problem BestCrypt had must be much less rare than they realize or admit.  It happened on both of the computers I installed it on, and there were relatively few commonalities (beyond both running Windows 8.1 and having had TrueCrypt installed).

Since I could find no results when I searched for the chkdsk error I saw and Jetico's BestCrypt Volume Encryption I wanted to leave some record of it in case it saves someone else data loss.

^ Q

21Nov/141

Another School Shooting, Another Round of Pointless Gun Debates

Every news story these days has a comment section which erupts into a slug fest between the politically left and politically right. The same arguments are made this time as last time, the same "proof" is offered this time as last time, and no one is convinced, and nothing changes.

What annoys me most is that neither side seems willing to debate their real point of view, they rely instead on dishonestly framing the debate.

On the right I wish they would admit, "Hey, look, if someone could could snap their fingers and get rid of all guns there would be a lot fewer homicides and suicides, but guns are a lot of fun, and people die left and right from driving cars and eating fattening food, so we've decided we're comfortable with the number of deaths from guns. And besides, it might theoretically make our government a little afraid of violating our rights, though admittedly they seem to be violating a lot of rights and we're not doing anything about it."

And on the left I wish they would admit, "Hey, guns are really scary. We're not hunter gatherers any more, and people who collect and shoot guns, especially at cute little woodland creatures, seem a little mentally disturbed to us. And if you want to carry them all the time, everywhere, and buy your kids Hello Kitty themed shotguns we really think you have a problem. We know there are so many guns in the country that banning them won't really do a lot, but it'll do something, and more important it'll feel like we're doing something. And maybe if we can damage the gun market now in a hundred years there will be less of them around, and maybe then society will be safer. And the sort of guns people have now haven't kept up with the hardware the government has, so give up on the argument that it'll keep us free from tyranny."

If both sides lead with that it would feel more honest to me, and at least make the debate potentially more productive.

^ Q

15Nov/140

Balsamiq Suqs for Mockups

balsamiqThere are many pieces of software which achieve levels of success I cannot understand given their crappiness.  I've already made known my disdain (yet usage of) Evernote. Today I'll talk about Balsamiq, a tool for creating software mockups.

Most of my complaints and frustrations center around the their fervent belief that they know better than their users what features we want and how things should work.  They impose a rigidity which is painful, limiting, and often mind-bogglingly stupid.

Here are my chief complaints:

  1. Their UI library (see top bar in screen shot) insists on using stupidly huge image buttons.  Hope you have a high resolution monitor, because if you don't you're in for some screen robbing ugly.  Many programs in similar situations at least give you a small button option.  Not Balsamiq!  Workaround: Use ctrl+l to hide/show the UI library.  But why should I have to do that?  Make a small icon version!
  2. Stupidest Arrows Ever!  Their arrow element is the most unbelievably stupid implementation of a connecting arrow in any software since the mid-1970s.  Want to draw an arrow between things? In normal programs (Visio, any vector drawing program, etc.) you just drag the end points and optionally drag some middle item to change the curvature. Not so in Balsamiq! Balsamiq is just weird about arrows. The arrow you drag from the UI library can only move through 90 degrees without using one property panel item to flip it to cover 180 degrees and then you have to use another property panel item to let you flip the curvature to give you the remaining 180 degrees.  It's just confusing, screwy, and painful to use.  How on earth can people supposedly focused on great design, ready to preach to everyone about great design, create this monstrosity?
  3. Want to duplicate an item by ctrl+dragging like in most programs?  Nope!  Your only option is ctrl+d (or ctrl+c, ctrl+v)
  4. Want to duplicate an item and shift the copy horizontally or vertically only? Nope, when you duplicate or copy/paste it offsets the copy both horizontally and vertically (down and to the right) so you need to go back and re-align the item horizontally or vertically.  This wouldn't be the case if you allowed ctrl+drag!
  5. The Property Inspector (the properties panel for any object you have selected, and which you need to use) is supremely annoying, it feels like it is constantly in my way.  And their docking solution is weak and no help (it still takes up a lot of canvas real estate), and their collapse solution is of little help (since you can't see or use the contents).  Why couldn't they do what everyone else more intelligently does and make the content more compact and horizontal or vertical so it could fit in the space used in part by the UI library?
  6. The send backward feature of most intelligent programs understands that if you are performing that operation you must want the object(s) you have selected to move behind things that it is on top of. You therefore don't need to click send backward many times because you are only sending it back one time for each object below it. Not so with Balsamiq! It seems to move you backward by your z-order, meaning, if there are a billion things below you in the z-order, even if only 2 of them are under you, you're going to have to click back potentially billions of times until you happen to pass the z-order of the two items in question. Thanks, Balsamiq!  Workaround: It's not super useful, but grouping can help you through some of this.
  7. There is a companion site to the software, Mockups to Go, which has user submitted libraries of common UI elements (such as Android Lollipop UI elements).  This is potentially great!  But, don't expect to be able to copy things from the Mockups to Go files you download and use them in your existing file, because for some reason things don't look the same when you copy them into your existing documents.  Why?  I don't know.  Some missing meta information, some lost reference to something?  Whatever the case may be, it seems to mean you can only use the Mockups to Go items by using their document to build your mockup, which is limiting, frustrating and weird (in part because of the next item).
  8. Need more room on your canvas? Not so fast!  They limit the size of your canvas, you can only make it so wide or high.  Beyond that you need to create a new file.  Why not a new page instead of a new file?  See next item.
  9. Each Balsamiq file is one page, no multi-paging here, despite their restricting the size of your pages and forcing you to use multiple pages, which is therefore forcing you to use multiple files.  Hope you're good and consistent about naming schemes for pages spread across many files.
  10. Pasting in or importing an image? Hope you like messy file systems!  Balsamiq doesn't include pasted or imported images in their file format, nope they create an image file of your clipboard paste and put that in the file system, and reference imported images.  Hope you don't expect to move files around!  Maybe their main file format is XML or something, but come on, lots of XML-based programs at least zip up their meta file with their file assets, so the user just as one file to deal with.  Why couldn't you do this?
  11. Exporting a PNG? Want to pick your own name for the file? Nope! It exports the first time as the same name as the document, on subsequent exports it asks you if you want to over-write the original or pick another name. Why don't you just do it like everyone else? Let me pick a name, default to that name in the save dialog on every other save, letting me choose each time with minimal fuss.
  12. Want to scroll over to an area off the current canvas size? Nope, you can't. You need to add some object you don't want to then drag it outside to give you more room so you can perhaps think or get a more comfortable look at something.  Other programs let you scroll into empty areas, but not Balsamiq!
  13. Want to change the thickness of a vertical or horizontal line? Not allowed.  I get that this isn't a drawing program, it's a mockup program, but line thickness can convey importance and meaning and help you build widgets you might want to mockup.  But, nope, we can't be trusted to use line thickness wisely, apparently.
  14. Mouse pointer to show context related behavior? Nope, no built in mouse pointers to help you show how mouse hovers might work in a UI.
  15. Balsamiq uses simple markup to let you use text to create items which are bolded, italicized, linked, etc.  They also let you create checkbox groups this way using [ ] and [x] and the link.  But what they don't do is make these things consistently available.  One text element might support these sorts of markup many others don't.  What the hell?  Be consistent!  Why do I have to remember that this thing is a checkbox group text field and this other thing is a label text.  It's frustrating to want to add something and discover I'm using the wrong kind of text element.
  16. Want to set color of text inside an input widget? Like a light gray instead of black?  I don't know if you can.  You can't do it by using the properties inspector, where you'd expect to. Perhaps you can with markup, but I get tired of trying things in an unintuitive program.
  17. Changing the line spacing on a block of text? Not possible!  I don't want this to do fancy stuff, but a few times I've been trying to align lines of text with content from another widget (like rows of checkboxes from a checkbox group with lines of text) and it can't be done.
  18. When I try to switch between open (already loaded) documents (of moderate complexity) it takes more than 10 seconds, and that's on a nearly new top of the line i7, with 16 GB RAM, and SSD.
  19. And last but not least...  Balsamiq is a Java program, and suffers from everything that Java desktop programs do, such as clumsy, non-native interface, poor startup performance, poor UI refresh performance, etc.  I love Java, have worked in Java for years, but desktop Java programs never feel as nice as using native ones.

I am tired of fighting with this software to get things done, tired of limitations they defend as "intentional" to promote proper use of the tool.  Trust your users, empower your users, don't talk down to them, don't limit them.  Less is not always more. Sometimes a little more is more.

I am happy to have returned to the freedom and power of Visio, where arrows work and I am trusted to decide whether something should be rotated or not.

Q

19Sep/140

Travels in the U.S.A. – 46 states down, 4 to go

usmapToday I realized that I've been to 46 states out of the 50 in the US.  Admittedly many of these were driven through on cross-country drives rather than enjoyed or experienced in depth.

The only states left to go are:

  • Alaska
  • Hawaii
  • North Dakota
  • Michigan

I've lived (for at least 3 months) in 7 states:

  • Washington, D.C.
  • California
  • Massachusetts
  • Pennsylvania
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Virginia

And I've spent at least a week in:

  • New Hampshire
  • Nevada
  • Maryland
  • Idaho
  • Florida
  • Texas
  • Maine
  • Tennessee
  • South Carolina
  • Louisiana

Q

Image via MapLoco.

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