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May 4th, 2010

A Noteworthy Day

There are a lot of things happening at once today, in this corner. First and most obvious, it’s May the Fourth, and ever since “Talk Like a Pirate Day” geeks have been inventing their own holidays willy-nilly, making this one Star Wars Day (“May the Fourth be with you,” you see).

Second, and somewhat less obvious unless you happen to live in Herndon, it’s Herndon Town Council election day. As the current town council’s entire fiscal, social, and economic policy has been built on the concept of “Get rid of the [expletive deleted] immigrants!” to the exclusion of all else, including anything that’s actually within the purview of the town council, there has been a strong “Throw the bums out!” sentiment building for some time. The previous election was decided by a matter of 10 votes, so the new round of challengers, sensing that there might actually be a chance to make a difference this time, have really been hitting the bricks. At least two would-be council members actually knocked on the door and spoke to us mano-a-mano, and another called on the phone (instead of using a prerecorded autodialer). And that’s just when they caught us at home … who knows what we missed while we were out? Now, whether this will translate into positive change or simply be an instance of “Throw a bunch of new bums in!” is yet to be seen, but we can always live in hope.

Finally, and probably the most important if the least obvious, today is the 40th anniversary of the Kent State Shootings, in which National Guard troops fired 67 rounds into protesting students (and some who were just trying to get from one class to another) over the course of 13 seconds at Kent State University in Ohio. While technically this happened in my lifetime, I was seven months old at the time and blissfully unaware of what a contentious era I was actually living in. Having read up a bit since then, I still just shake my head. In defense of the soldiers, there were students throwing rocks and tear gas canisters. But as the students were shot from some 70+ feet away, it’s hard to swallow that this was anything but a deliberate attempt to teach the damn hippies a lesson. Whenever somebody in the U.S. is sanctimonious about Tiananmen Square, it’s tempting to mention Kent State and watch them squirm. The scale is certainly different, but the core psychology is exactly the same as far as I can tell.

So … a day packed with moment. Make it a good one, all!

-The Gneech

Originally published at gneech.com. You can comment here or there.

Awesome Levels ... Dwindling...

I must be seriously running low on awesome if even Shirley Bassey isn't enough to get me going again. This calls for some drastic awesome-recharging measures!

-The Gneech

iPad Snag

One hiccup I’ve encountered with the iPad that hits home for a writer: as of this writing it’s not very import/export friendly for word processing documents. Google Docs, while viewable, are purely read-only, which is a big, big hole. This is apparently due to a problem with Safari, which doesn’t support the “makeEditable” HTML 5 property, something that Google Docs depends on. (So much for open standards, Steve. Want to look into that for us?)

There are some apps that work around this; but it’s pretty clear that Apple intends that for your word processing on the iPad needs, you’ll use Pages. And at $10, Pages is certainly affordable, but it also has its problems — the biggest being getting existing files into it. Like all of the iP* (I pee stars!) apps, or at least, all of the ones I’ve seen so far, it keeps documents in its own little vault. So if you want to open a document, it has to already be in the vault to begin with. To get an existing document into said vault, you have to mail it to yourself as an attachment (in a format that Pages can read, which sadly does not include .WPD, but what does any more), and in the Mail app, tell it to send the document to Pages.

It’s a lot of go-around-your-thumbey kind of nonsense that is really unworthy of what is otherwise such an intuitive and easy-to-use interface. And like I say, I wouldn’t even be doing that much if I could just open up Google Docs and work there.

I’m sure this will be ironed out over time — too many people are going to want to actually be productive on an iPad for it to stay hobbled this way — and if nothing else I expect Google will make a stand-alone Google Docs app. But it is kind of a nuisance out of the gate.

All that said, as an experiment I’m going to do tonight’s writing session in Pages while listening to my tunes via the iPod app, and then export it all back to my main PC when it’s done. This is a dry run for how I expect to work on the road, so I’ll have the kinks ironed out before it becomes time to actually do something.

-The Gneech

Originally published at gneech.com. You can comment here or there.

Victory of the Daleks

Didn't suck nearly as much as I expected, given the way people were bashing it. No "Empty Child" by any stretch, and certainly the "Wish hard enough, Pinocchio, and you'll become a REAL boy!" ending was dorky even by Doctor Who standards. My impression is they felt like they had to go ahead and "do the Daleks" just to get it out of the way.

On the other hand, there's a certain joy in hearing a Dalek ask "Would you care for a cup of tea?"

-The Gneech


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