Hunter turned Animal Activist

A recent episode of the excellent tv show, 30 days, put a life-long hunter living with a family of vegan animal rights activists. The episode itself was pretty emotional as it shows some of the truly horrific things that are done to animals as part of the food-making process in our country. To get prices down as low as possible a system of factory farming has developed that completely removes the humanity from the treatment of the animals. They are treated just like machines designed entirely to produce food for humans, with no respect for their rights as living creatures. It’s really terrible and it’s now starting to have dramatic effects on the health of humans consuming the food as well.

I’m not an extremist when it comes to the issues of animal rights. I understand that people have the right to choose what they eat and don’t eat, and I support personal choice in that regard. I do wish that more people actually knew what sort of acts are being committed on a daily basis in the production of their food though, and tv shows like this episode of 30 days will hopefully make a bit of a difference there. I also think it should be illegal to treat farm animals the way they are treated by factory farms.

I also have some personal experience with hunting, and I support the rights of people to do that. I went to highschool in North Dakota and while there I went hunting with my dad and friends. I was (and am) a very bad hunter and I never actually killed anything (it’s hard!) but overall I think the experience was a good one for me. I would not go hunting now, but I don’t feel guilty for having done it. All of the hunters I interacted with back then were very respectful of both the animals and the land. A lot of emphasis was placed on avoiding needless suffering, and we always picked up our spent shells and any other trash. In North Dakota at the time, one hunter could only legally kill one deer per year with a gun, and one additional using a bow. The gun season is also very short (only a couple of weeks) and many hunters are not skilled enough to actually kill a deer in that amount of time. It’s a lot harder than you might think, even with a rifle. They’re quick! The bow season was a few months long and most of our time hunting was spent using a bow. I’m sure other places have different rules.

Overall, I think the key is respect. Animals are, of course, not all human, but humans are animals. We are part of a natural ecosystem and we should remember our place in it. That sounds obvious to me, but somehow it’s not obvious to everyone. If we are respectful of the rights of animals to live a healthy and natural life (I won’t go so far as to say ‘happy’!), we’ll also be producing more healthy and natural food from them and that can only be a good thing for us as humans.

A Flower in the Garden

Since we last spoke I’ve spent about 4 weeks on a jury, among other things.  The jury was a great experience, even if it was tedious at times (man, the wheels of justice do turn slowly, don’t they?), and I wish people wouldn’t try so hard to get out of jury duty.  You just don’t get experiences like that every day.

I also got a new camera to play with… a Canon G9.  The official reason for the new camera is to take lots of obligatory pictures of the new baby when he arrives, but in the meantime it’s just a new toy.  The picture above is my favorite one so far.  It’s the “look I got a new camera and I went into my garden” type of picture you see all over but I like it anyway.

Whenever DreamHost has a massive screw-up of some sort, the thing I most notice about the customer response is the high level of animosity and aggression in the comments. People obviously have a right to respond to any situation in their own way, but still I can’t help but feel that some of them would benefit from taking a moment to step back, take a look at their actions, and consider if those actions are really the most effective path towards a positive solution for themselves.

Websites can be very personal in nature and it can be emotional to have something like that not functioning properly. Technical people in particular can become very frustrated when a technical issue is out of their control. They can feel powerless and in a situation like that anger is certainly an understandable emotion to feel. Still, it seems like an odd logic leap to me to go from feeling some anger inside to taking that anger and using it to fuel more anger and animosity. Ultimately, the goal in any problem scenario is to get to the solution as quickly and painlessly as possible. Obviously emotions can interfere with that but still most people can stay focused on the resolution anyway. The form that particular resolution or solution takes is obviously an individual choice.

What I see an unusual amount of online is people deciding that the best resolution for an unpleasant situation is to get revenge, no matter how much effort it takes. People decide that it’s worth hours and hours of their own time to start up ‘anti’ websites or to post message after message of spite and bile to message boards or blog comments. I get angry myself at times, but I just can’t comprehend expending so much emotional energy over something so ultimately minor. There’s just not enough time in the day.

What’s most unusual about this is that I feel like I don’t see this sort of animosity in my day to day life. When the burrito place up the street gives you a steak burrito instead of the veggie burrito you ordered, do you scream at and wish death upon the guy behind the counter? When the auto repair shop takes 3 days longer than they said it would take to fix your car, do you make picket signs and walk around outside of their business yelling at people walking past? I’m hoping not! What is it about the Internet that makes people exhibit such odd behaviors? Where does all the animosity come from?

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Something got me thinking about Compute! magazine the other day and the role it played in my early computing life.

In the late 1980s my family had an Atari 800 XL home computer which had a slot for game cartridges but also had a full keyboard and was similar in ability to the famed Commodore 64. We mostly just played games on it, but it was a personal computer and not a game console. It was later replaced with the awesome (for the time) Amiga 500 but we were an Atari family for a long time before then.

Issues of Compute! had source code (usually Basic, I think) for games and other small programs that would work on all of the most popular home computers of the era, including our Atari, and my family would spend time entering them in line by line into the Atari. The source code was mostly just gibberish to us at the time so it was usually a two person job… one person reading the code out loud and the other person typing it in. It would usually take my parents and I several days to a week or more to do one of them. The programs usually ran and worked at the end but sometimes had small glitches due to typos on our part. When they didn’t run at all it was pretty heart breaking. The games were never awesome, but it was still very gratifying to see the result of our efforts and it was painful to end up staring at useless text. Towards the end of that era of my computing life I started trying to change random bits of our working code to see what would happen, too. I didn’t know then what role computer software would play in my future life, of course.

The cover of the issue here mentions a hands-on look at the Amiga 500 so it seemed like an especially fitting one to go along with this little trot down memory lane.

I was lucky enough to be part of a historic event a few weeks back. It was a test of strength, power, stamina, and courage unlike any the world has seen before. I present to you… Team Bruce Lee vs The Superheroes…

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Ultimately my team, The Superheroes, was victorious. Here’s our team photos:
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(Can you guess which one is me?)

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On October 20 I went to an Interpol show in San Francisco, and then on the 26th I went to see The Jesus and Mary Chain. The picture here is of the Interpol show and I stole it from Flickr.

I kinda don’t really like Interpol’s latest album much at all and despite having some strong songs I don’t think I’ve managed to actually listen to the whole album without switching to something else.. there’s just something about it that bugs me… I think maybe the vocals are too loud or the songs are just missing some magic dust the earlier albums had. Eeeeeenyway, the show was still pretty great. I suspected they’d play a lot of songs from Antics and that they did.. in fact I think they may have played nearly the entire album, in addition to selections from earlier albums. I think they also played some from Our Love to Admire, but honestly I don’t really recognize those songs and I only think that because there were songs in their set that I didn’t recognize and were also not raw enough to be earlier material.

The Jesus and Mary Chain had not been part of my musical listening experience up until the show, though I had of course heard of them. They’re apparently ‘new wave’ which is a musical genre I’m still trying to get a grasp on since it just simply didn’t really exist when I was in high school in North Dakota. To me The Jesus and Mary Chain sounded mostly like just good old guitar rock heavy on nice fuzzy chords… pretty much just like a cleaner version of punk rock. I guess that might explain why some friends I have known who were into new wave later got into punk rock!

So, yeah… it was a good week for live music for me!

I’m trying to jump into this crazy web phenomenon of wanting to be ultra-connected to lots of people all the time (even though I kinda wore out that idea back in 1999)… so to that end I’m giving Twitter a try, but to really get much value out of twitter I need to have some people to follow. I’m on Twitter at http://twitter.com/dallas. Follow me and I’ll follow you.

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I got my copy of the Logic Studio upgrade yesterday and had about an hour of borrowed time to play with it last night before bed. When it was first announced I was one of the people who was thinking something along the lines of “including Soundtrack is cool, but is this really IT?” The upgrade from 7.0 to 7.1 added several very useful virtual instruments so it felt like a jump to 8.0 should have also included some. I still would have liked to see some of those (maybe 8.1?) but after only an hour I have to say I am happy with the UI changes Apple has made. Logic actually feels like an Apple application for the first time in its history, and that’s a goooood thing!

The new unified window interface is pretty slick. It effectively makes window management almost completely a non-issue. In previous versions of Logic I would always use at least 2 or 3 screensets to give myself different setups… a main ‘overview’ screenset, a midi edit screenset with one arrange window and one linked edit window, and sometimes a mixing screenset with the mixer on the bottom and the arrange on the top. Now you can still do all of that but you can also quickly bring up an edit window (or mixer or whatever) without disrupting your flow and having to resize windows. It sounded like a small upgrade when I read about it, but it’s nicely thought out. Another neat bonus is the screensets menu now shows you a list of what windows each screenset has showing so you know what you’re going to get when you jump to it. I’m sure I’ll find other niceties as I play with it more, but that’s the things I noticed right away.

One small oddity I noticed when trying to open a quite old Logic file (probably made with Logic 6) was that Logic 8 refused to open it and told me I’d have to open it in Logic 7 first. I guess they decided to not bloat Logic 8 with support for converting project files from two versions back, but I’ll have to see later if I agree with that decision or not. The upgrader does leave the previous version of Logic sitting in your Applications folder with the name ‘Logic 7’ so I’m not stuck or anything. I do have to make sure to keep that old Logic 7 sitting there, though.

Overall I think it’s a nice upgrade but it is still mostly look and feel and workflow oriented. It is undoubtedly a more pleasant interface and I think I’ll be more efficient with it, but I don’t know if that will help me make better or more interesting music or not. Only time will tell, I guess!

After I spend some time with Soundtrack Pro, I’ll post some thoughts on that, too.

Last night before bed I wasted some time by looking through what was available in the iPhone installer application and I was surprised to see quite a lot of new and useful stuff in there. I previously wrote about installing ssh and a terminal application on my iPhone, and the Installer makes things even easier and it also lets you manage applications right on the iPhone. Sweet!

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Eeeeeenyway, I took that picture of my iPhone interface to show some of the neat customization you can do now. An application called Summerboard is the next step beyond the iPhone launcher (called Springboard, get it?) and it enables stuff like being able to scroll your set of application icons if they don’t all fit and lots more.

Here’s some stuff I’ve done…

  • Changed my ‘Theme’ to look sorta like the upcoming OS X, Leopard. It mostly just affected the background for the icons at the bottom of the screen.
  • Changed it to hold 5 icons instead of 4 at the bottom, and put Google Maps on there, which I use more than the iPod (but less than the others there).
  • I used a utility called XLaunch to remove the Stocks application from showing up at all. It’s easier for me to just load Google Finance in Safari.

You can also see some of the other applications I have installed at the moment. Navizon is an intriguing application that can provide GPS-like information for devices that don’t have a GPS chip based on WiFi and Cellular network information. I’ve heard very bad reviews and one good review so I have to give it a try myself. There’s also a native AIM client called MobileChat and a voice note recorder called VNotes.

A lot of this stuff is superfluous and doesn’t add that much more to the basic iPhone but the amount of developer activity happening without ANY support from Apple is pretty amazing to me. Apple is not going to be able to stop this and reeeeaaaallly needs to develop an official developer platform. I still assume it’s only a matter of time but a recent blog post by Wil Shipley has me a bit worried that the Apple I think I know has left me for another lover, or something. Honestly, Apple doesn’t even need to officially support iPhone development… they just need to stop wiping it every time they release a new firmware update.

Right now whenever a new firmware update for the iPhone is released installing it into an iPhone with 3rd party software causes iTunes to think your iPhone is somehow damaged and it forces a factory wipe and reset. It’s not as big of a deal as it sounds as most of the important stuff syncs over from the computer again BUT it is a pain in the butt and it’ll likely make me put off upgrading this next time around… and this is only the beginning. If this goes on for very many more times I might just decide I don’t need Apple’s update anymore. All the 3rd-party HACKERS (they can’t really be called developers until Apple embraces them) might end up providing me more value than Apple itself. Imagine that!