2007.08.02

Minneapolis Bridge Collapsed Last Night

Last night the I-35W bridge that crosses the Mississippi River just north of Downtown Minneapolis collapsed around 6:05 PM CST. This was a pretty big disaster for Minnesota.

Road work was being done on the bridge. There was only one lane of traffic open in each direction and it wasn't moving much at the time. The bridge was 1907 feet in length. So far the death count is only 4, however, there were around 80 people injured and 20 to 30 who are still missing. A school bus carrying 60 children went down with the bridge, but all of the kids on board survived.

Here are some pictures a friend of mine took.

[Update: As of 8/21 there are 13 dead and no more known to be missing.]

Let every man praise the bridge that carries him over.


2007.07.29

He/Him vs She/Her in Modern English

There was this huge feminist movement about 20-30 years ago that wanted to put an end to the common usage of he/him in English to refer to someone. While I have no issue with this, it seems that no good solution was ever found and the most common solutions suck. I agree that there needs to be a change because even though the words him and he always referred to either a man or a woman it is less precise since the reader does not necessarily know if the writer means men and woman, or just men. Where as the words she/her are specific to woman.

The common solutions are to either randomly switch between using he/him and she/her or to use some made up combination of the two, like s/he or him/her. The first solution is confusing to me because she/her means specifically females only, and the second solution is just lame (s/he is not a word). The strange part is that the English language already has an existing solution to this dilemma, and that is the they/them combination. You can replace he with they, and him with them (when you are not talking about a specific person of course).

For example, "A student should have help with step 1, then he may do step 2 by himself." becomes "A student should have help with step 1, then they may do step 2 by themselves."

According to Wiktionary:

they
The third person, nominative case, usually plural, but sometimes used in the singular when the gender is unknown or irrelevant.

them
Third person singular pronoun of indeterminate or irrelevant gender.

Eschew obfuscation.


2007.07.25

Operating System Personality Quiz

I got suckered into taking this quiz today. About half way through I was already loosing patience, but I finished it. Funny thing was, for me it was right on the money. It said I was an AmigaOS personality type.

You are Amiga OS. Ahead of your time. You keep a lot of balls in the air. If only your parents had given you more opportunities to succeed.

I was given a Commodore 64 in 1982 for Christmas, which I used until I could afford to buy my own computer, which was an Amiga 1000 in 1985. I later followed it up with an Amiga 3000 that I still have in my closet. My A3000 was the fastest computer I've ever owned (in terms of the user interface). It had a good GUI, it booted in about 10 seconds, and it was very responsive — running at only 25MHz on it's Motorola 68030 microprocessor. The SCSI drives really helped make it fast as well.

After Commodore filed for bankruptcy and continuing to use my Amiga after everyone else had switched to Windows or Macintosh operating systems, I eventually had to move on as well. The hardware/software became too dated and I couldn't connect to the internet and run the development software I needed to.

I used both Windows and Macintosh for a while, then had a brief fling with BeOS (until they too filed for bankruptcy... sigh). What a fun OS BeOS was! Now I use Linux with the exception of one Windows machine for playing games and running iTunes. My OS's of choice are Ubuntu and Debian. I was into Gentoo for a while, but got very tired of compiling all the time — especially on my slower machines that would take a full week to compile when a major software package (like Xorg) was updated.

Part of me holds out for the next Amiga/BeOS. There are quite a few upstarts trying to fill that niche, however it would take a lot for me to switch OS's at this point. I have a lot of custom code that is Linux based. And I really like screen. A more reasonable change would be to a new faster GUI on top of Linux with X emulation.

[The AmigaOS] remains one of the great operating systems of the past 20 years, incorporating a small kernel and tremendous multitasking capabilities the likes of which have only recently been developed in OS/2 and Windows NT. The biggest difference is that the AmigaOS could operate fully and multitask in as little as 250 K of address space. Even today, the OS is only about 1MB in size. And to this day, there is very little a memory-hogging CD-ROM-loading OS can do the Amiga can't. Tight code — there's nothing like it.

I've had an Amiga for maybe a decade. It's the single most reliable piece of equipment I've ever owned. It's amazing! You can easily understand why so many fanatics are out there wondering why they are alone in their love of the thing. The Amiga continues to inspire a vibrant — albeit cult-like — community, not unlike that which you have with Linux, the Unix clone.

— John C. Dvorak (1996)


2007.07.16

Why I Think David Hewlett is a Cool Guy

First some history and then I'll get to my point...

In early May (2007) I started to use Twitter after a bunch of people at my work told me they were all using it and it was a lot of fun. So I created an account and start twittering about what I was doing during my day just like everyone else. I too started to think it was fun, and I still do.

A short time after, I received an email from Twitter about some recommended twitter'ers [Noun: Someone that uses twitter.com on a regular basis]. David Hewlett was one of the highlighted twitter'ers so I added him to my friends list. To my surprise he added me back. Not that I'm all that special mind you, he currently has over one thousand friends! I figure he must get a twitter every minute or so with that many friends.

Now I didn't really know who David Hewlett was, so I looked him up on Wikipedia and IMDB. He's probably mostly known for his current role in Stargate: Atlantis which I've never seen. However, I liked him in the Cube which I recently rented. He wrote, directed, and stared in A Dog's Breakfast this year. It sounds interesting, but I haven't seen it yet.

So in conclusion, for being a science fiction actor and letting the world know what goes on in his daily life I here by declare that David Hewlett is a Cool Guy (TM).

This message was encrypted with ROT-26 cryptography. Attempting to circumvent this encoding is illegal under the DMCA.


2007.06.25

Pet Peeves List

Because I've always wanted one, I'm going to start a pet peeves list. This list will contain all of the situations and types of people in life that annoy me. The purpose of this list is mainly to fulfill my curiosity of wondering just how many things in life drive me crazy. Maybe others will find it entertaining to see how many pet peeves they have in common with me.

And here is the list: Pet Peeves

Humanity Explained:
  1) People are Lazy.
  2) Thinking is Work.