Make your own free website on

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

NCSE Resource: "This spring, a subcommittee of the Ohio Board of Education charged with supervising the preparation of the state's science education standards was petitioned by a citizens' group to include 'intelligent design' (ID) along with evolution. As ID becomes better known, other state and local school boards might face similar requests."

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

I've started setting up a new blog at my new site. Maybe one day I'll write something interesting, instead of just reading other people's interesting thoughts. Anyways, the new blog is at

I've noticed that the main thing I had been using my blog for was posting links to things I found that were interesting. I'm a link collector. I've also found recently that is better for that sort of thing, so you can see my collection if you're so inclined.

The new blog, powered by Pebble, has the ability to do posts via XML-RPC, and uses the 'standard' blogging API's. Next thing to do is see what Firefox extensions are out there for blogging that way.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Dana Epp's ramblings at the Sanctuary: Revisiting "Behind the Scenes: How I Build Software": "Finally I want to talk about our automated testing. Since I last discussed this I have done a 180 on our testing approach. Although I find unit testing to be great developer's asset, I think an even better approach is to use a testing framework that offers unit, regression and integration testing in a single suite. That's where our decision to use AutomatedQA's TestComplete has been a god-send. I now have a dedicated Quality Assurance Test Specialist whose only job is to build automated tests for every single piece of shippable code using TestComplete. As our test library continues to grow, we continue to refine the testing mechanisms in an effort to maintain stable, shippable code at all times. We also added some new systematic processes in both our dev and QA workflow:"

Nice post. Might have to look into TestComplete - maybe something that DataCert can use.

Monday, June 27, 2005

CruiseControl.NET and MSBuild: "If you start looking around the web for an automated build solution for .NET that can also function apart from Visual Studio, you'll probably end up with a combination of NAnt on the one side and CruiseControl.NET, Hippo.NET or Draco.NET on the other side. NAnt is the answer to scripting the real work behind your build process, and the other tools provide you with (a.o.) a way to schedule those builds (or execute on-demand builds) and a nice overview of past and current build results and reports.

What you don't get is a way to combine one of these tools with MSBuild. Of course, you can do this with NAnt by using the task to start msbuild.exe, but I wanted to cut out the middle man. Note: I do NOT want to start a religious war here and i don't consider MSBuild to be better than NAnt (or vice versa). Let's just say I wanted to make it more challenging by veering away from the path most travelled :-)."

Monday, May 16, 2005

Top 1000 High Schools
Newsweek posted this list. A very simple metric - the number of AP and/or IB tests given divided by the number of graduating seniors. It's a bit of a pain to search the whole list. So I copied it all to an Excel spreadsheet. There are quite a few Austin high schools on the list. Good to remember that top 1000 is top 4% in the country. The asterisks on the school name indicate that they use IB tests. The Subsizdized Lunches Number is the percent of the student body eligible for free and reduced lunches.

So here are Austin's finest:

RankSchoolCityStateScoreSubsidized Lunches
72 Westlake Austin TX 3.0351.8
76 Westwood* Austin TX 2.9786.5
165 Lyndon B. Johnson Austin TX 2.44241
204 Lanier Austin TX 2.26376.6
298 Anderson* Austin TX 1.95514
441 Stephen F. Austin Austin TX 1.67525.1
521 McNeil? Austin TX 1.5428.3
582 James Bowie Austin TX 1.466.9
678 McCallum? Austin TX 1.35727.5
892 Crockett Austin TX 1.14748
999 Akins Austin TX 1.04451.5
577 Lake Travis Austin TX 1.4637.8

Sunday, May 15, 2005 - platypus: "Platypus is a Firefox extension which lets you modify a Web page from your browser -- 'What You See Is What You Get' -- and then save those changes as a Greasemonkey script so that they'll be repeated the next time you visit the page. Editing pages to suit your needs is dandy -- but making those changes 'permanent' is the real payoff."

This is some amazing stuff that changes the way you do things. I already have greasemonkey and it rocks. I read the NY Times on the web, and there is a greasemonkey script that makes all articles use the single-page format. A small change, but it makes my life a small bit simpler. And then using firefox with adblock also changes things - much more relaxing.

I'm gonna go get this now.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Agile Modeling Tool

I saw this written up somewhere - these are sheets of white plastic that hang on the wall with static cling - a portable, put it up anywhere instant whiteboard. Just got them in today - I'll have to see how they work out. I put one up on the wall next to my desk for notes and stuff. We already have one large whiteboard we use - and not much more wallspace - but this will be helpful, I think.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Outsourcing off Los Angeles?- "What if you could outsource to a company that offered the cost savings of an India-based outsourcing firm, but whose facilities were just a few hours away?

Thatís the premise of three entrepreneurs in San Diego, who are in the final throes of launching a company that will offer software development off the coast of Californiaóthree miles outside Los Angeles, to be specific."

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Fractals of Change: Managing CEOs for Programmers

A funny article that most programmers will enjoy.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

TDD and Multiculturalism

While reading Jeremy's blog, i happened across this link. A very good post on TDD, but what I found interesting was this section on multiculturalism.

I think I could have accelerated the TDD assimilation process if I had a mentor who could have clearly bridged the gap between what the Java folks were saying and my own experience. In truth, I just didnít have the code skills and experience to be able to identify with the issues that these folks were talking about and readily solving. I knew they were accomplishing something; I just couldnít map that something to my own experience. Itís like learning a foreign language and finding words that represent concepts that the English language doesnít even recognize.

Itís not a linguistic division, itís a cultural division. I can "speak" Java, but I donít claim to understand the poetry or humor. For this, you've gotta be much more than multilingual. Multilingualism is just the road sign that might tell you how far away you are from the on-ramp. Multiculturalism is when you merge with the traffic as an inconspicuous, well-integrated part of the whole.

I got lots of experience in multiculturalism from growing up in Montreal. In case you might have missed it, Montreal is in that massive chunk of the Canadian Shield called Quebec where the official language of the land is French. I learned to "speak" French as a kid. It didnít occur to me that I had never laughed at a French joke until I was about twenty-five. I was rolling in tears in belly laughter from a quip that a band mate had just fired off before I realized that something quite significant had happened.

I had crossed a subtle, invisible line from multilingualism to multiculturalism. I had spent enough time immersed in French Canadian culture by spending so much time with a group of east-side, unilingually French guys that I had gained an innate sense of what makes certain concepts more significant than others, and how those things become irony and humor in the right context.

At that moment I also realized that Quebec's linguistic battles could ramble on forever. Much of Montreal's population is bilingual, but few bother to immerse themselves in each other's culture and in each other's concerns. Only a relatively small portion of the population would ever gain an innate understanding for the concerns of the other. Bi-lateral understanding would hinge upon this kind of depth of awareness.

It felt like we were doomed. Not just because so few people had given themselves the opportunity to become bicultural, but because so few people had actually become aware of the differences that were so subtle to perception, yet so profound in effect on behavior. Without the understanding that multilingualism is just the tip of the iceberg, the potential for progress would always be stuck in the muddlings of separatism.

A great analysis - really 'getting' someone else's culture leads to a whole new level of understanding of them. And when you further realize that each of us is a member of many cultures, it starts to boggle the mind. I'm a member of the white culture, man culture, american culture, english speaking, geek, liberal, etc. etc. Sometimes when we don't understand each other, it is because of cultural impedance mismatches. The whole "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus" idea is derived from this. Men and Women are from different cultures, even if they share other cultures.

I wonder if "understanding a joke in that culture" is a good yardstick to measure mutliculturalism?

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Olympian dives into cityís bid to win 2012 Games

My brother Scott got interviewed by The Villager, a local newspaper in New York. They talked to him about New York's bid to be the host of the 2012 Summer Olympics. A well done article.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Textbook disclaimer stickers

Sad and funny at the same time. I am glad my kids are in a Montessorri school where they actually talk about this in a mature way.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Turn your back on Bush.: "On January 20th, 2005, we're calling for a new kind of action. The Bush administration has been successful at keeping protesters away from major events in the last few years by closing off areas around events and using questionable legal strategies to outlaw public dissent. We can use these obstacles to develop new tactics. On Inauguration day, we don't need banners, we don't need signs, we just need people.

We're calling on people to attend inauguration without protest signs, shirts or stickers. Once through security and at the procession, at a given signal, we'll all turn our backs on Bush's motorcade and continue through his speech and swearing in. A simple, clear and coherent message. "

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Election result maps

This page shows the standard electoral result maps that we all saw on the networks, but then goes on to show them in several different and more enlightening ways - showing them as 'catrgograms' for example, with the states sized by raw population, or sized by the number of electoral votes. The one most interesting to me, though, was the picture with the results by county, showing whether a county went for Kerry or Bush. Look near the center of Texas. See that one blue county in the sea of red? That is Austin, and that is why I would probably never live anywhere else in Texas. Well, there are those counties down in South Texas, but I don't think I'm moving down there. One thing to note - this map seems like a sea of red - but make sure to look at the same map as a cartogram, which sizes each county by population. Then you get a more accurate picture that shows (as the numbers do) that 48% of the country went for Kerry, and 51% for Bush.

Another good map, which shows results by county, shaded in degress of purple.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Comparison of average IQ in each state to how that state's electoral votes went in 2004: "I think matching census data to the results of the election reveals some very interesting things."

Yup, pretty interesting. He also has links to some other sites and data. This does appear to me to be a hoax. This site in particular has some other data that makes things look very different, and this guy looks like he has also done some research into it.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

The New York Times > Opinion > Editorial: John Kerry for President:
Senator John Kerry goes toward the election with a base that is built more on opposition to George W. Bush than loyalty to his own candidacy. But over the last year we have come to know Mr. Kerry as more than just an alternative to the status quo. We like what we've seen. He has qualities that could be the basis for a great chief executive, not just a modest improvement on the incumbent.

We have been impressed with Mr. Kerry's wide knowledge and clear thinking - something that became more apparent once he was reined in by that two-minute debate light. He is blessedly willing to re-evaluate decisions when conditions change. And while Mr. Kerry's service in Vietnam was first over-promoted and then over-pilloried, his entire life has been devoted to public service, from the war to a series of elected offices. He strikes us, above all, as a man with a strong moral core.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

The New York Times > Washington > Campaign 2004 > Big G.O.P. Bid to Challenge Voters at Polls in Key State

The GOP is signing up lots of people to challenge voters at the polls (the Dems read that as 'intimidate voters' and/or 'inconvenience voters'). Make sure you get out and vote!

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

About Us - "We are a nonpartisan, nonprofit, 'consumer advocate' for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics. We monitor the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews, and news releases. Our goal is to apply the best practices of both journalism and scholarship, and to increase public knowledge and understanding."

This seems to be an excellent site. They do seem balanced, and after reading it you get back to that old joke "How do you tell when a politician is lying? A: Their lips are moving." I signed up for their email updates.

Monday, October 18, 2004

The Union Leader and New Hampshire Sunday News - 18-Oct-04 - John Eisenhower:
Why I will vote for John Kerry for President

I seem to see LOTS of Republicans thinking about voting Democratic this time around...

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Nova Spivack's idea on How to Save the Upcoming Elections from Terrorism Alert Manipulation

"There has been much recent discussion lately about alleged evidence that the Bush administration is issuing terrorist alerts for political gain. While I am not taking a position on this issue, I do have a suggestion that could eliminate any doubts, and in the process protect our upcoming elections.
In order to prevent the possibility that national terrorism alerts might be issued for political gain by an incumbent Presidential administration, the right to issue or imply terrorism alerts and the right to postpone elections, should be given to a bi-partisan committee. This policy change should be instituted immediately. "
I think this sounds like a perfectly reasonable idea. Which means that if it is suggested, it is likely to be dismissed by the current administration."

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Despite accusations, Kerry's position on Iraq has been consistent: "Kerry voted in October 2002 for the congressional resolution that authorized President Bush to go to war in Iraq. He now says that the invasion was not justified and has made the United States less secure.

These positions are not contradictory, but his attempts to explain the distinction between them are often complicated, and they have given President Bush an opening to caricature Kerry as a flip-flopper. However, beneath the torrent of campaign verbiage, Kerry's position on Iraq for the past two years has been consistent and defensible - just difficult to sell in a sound-bite world."

It sure would be nice to spread this around. During the first debate, it seemed to me that Bush didn't really say much except that Kerry was inconsistent. Never really defended his positions. Kerry kept saying he was being consistent, but I don't know that people are hearing him.

Friday, October 01, 2004

NSIS: Home: "An installer is the first experience of a user with your application. Slow or unsuccesful software installations are the most irritating computer problems. A quick and user friendly installer is therefore an essential part of your software product.

NSIS (Nullsoft Scriptable Install System) is a tool that allows programmers to create such installers for Windows. It is released under an open source license and is completely free for any use.

More about NSIS features..."

Open Debates | The Issue: "The Presidential debates -- the single most important electoral event in the process of selecting a President -- should provide voters with an opportunity to see the popular candidates discussing important issues in an unscripted manner. But the Presidential debates fail to do so, because the major party candidates secretly control them."

Catastrophic Success - The worse Iraq gets, the more we must be winning. By William Saletan: If you are one of those people who believe the republican's oft-repeated (do they say anything else) mantra that John Kerry is inconsistent, you won't like this article. I, however, found it very pointed and insightful.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

OK, maybe this is what happened to that plane that hit the pentagon...
A video showing what happens when an F4 Phantom slams into a reinforced concrete wall at 500 MPH
Not much left to look at.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

AlterNet: MediaCulture: Flip-flopper in Chief: "George Bush's image as a strong and decisive leader is a creation of journalists too lazy to notice that the president has a long history of changing his positions to suit his political needs."

Applications development in one-tenth the time- "TenFold has a PC-based version of EnterpriseTenFold called Tsunami on its Web site ( that Walker says will prove to doubters that a user can build an enterprise app in just a few hours. By following a script, 'anyone can build a complete, enterprise-scale CRM application that is like, only better,' Walker claims"

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Java Certification Simulators for Java Certification Success: "Java has evolved from being a language to develop platform independent client application to providing the architecture for developing N-tier enterprise application. It is important that you keep yourself updated with all the changes so that you are not left behind with obsolete systems. Taking certifications and update exams is a structured way of updating yourself with the technology. Therefore you should think of Java Certification from the day you decide to work on it."

Monday, September 20, 2004

The Trac Project - Trac: "Trac is an enhanced wiki and issue tracking system for software development projects. Trac uses a minimalistic approach to web-based software project management. Our mission; to help developers write great software while staying out of the way. Trac should impose as little as possible on a team's established development process and policies."

Friday, September 17, 2004

DamageControl - Continuous Integration Server Feature Matrix: Continuous Integration Server Feature Matrix

There are many Continuous Integration systems available. This page is an attempt to keep an unbiased comparison of as many as possible of them. The goals are:

Saturday, September 11, 2004

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: Cheney Spits Toads: "Without Zell Miller around to out-crazy him, and unplugged after a convention that tried to 'humanize'' him with grandchildren, horses and wifely anecdotes about his inability to dance the twist, Mr. Cheney is back as Terrifier in Chief."


Friday, September 10, 2004

Cooking For Engineers: "Cooking For Engineers

Have an analytical mind? Like to cook? This is the site to read!"

OK - this is actually interesting. A different way of looking at cooking. I know how to cook, and I know how to read recipes. But I like this.

Source Control HOWTO: "Source Control HOWTO
I have started writing a series of articles explaining how to do source control and the best practices thereof. See below for links to the individual chapters in this series. The Introduction explains my motivations and goals for writing this series."

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Dude, I Love Math: Commons Math 1.0 RC1 Released: "Dude, I Love Math: Commons Math 1.0 RC1 Released

The Commons Math team hopes to release the first stable version of Commons Math 1.0 in the next two weeks, based on community response for the First RC.

Commons Math, released under an Apache 2.0 license, provides functions for statistics, linear algebra, random data generation, root finding, interpolation, gamma and beta functions, arrays, factorials, complex numbers, distributions, matrices, and solving linear systems and much more.

Here is a listing of the packages included in the commons-math library, and brief notes on what they implement:

* Analysis: implements of common numerical analysis procedures, including root finding and function interpolation
* Complex: implements complex number type and implementations of complex transcendental functions
* Distribution: implements common discrete and continuous distributions
* Linear: implements linear algebra support
* Random: implements random number and random data generators
* Special: implementations of special functions such as Beta and Gamma
* Stat: implements data storage, manipulation and summary routines
* Util: implements Convenience routines and common data structure used throughout the commons-math library"