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President Barack Obama

Yes. Oh hell yes.
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Google Maps Mashup: fire station distance finder

If you live in San Francisco and you are applying for renter's insurance, the insurance form will ask you how far your house is from a fire hydrant. It turns out there's no really easy way of working this out. If you search for fire station, you get one or two of the actual stations and a bunch of fire-related businesses. No good. If you dig around the SF fire department's home page long enough, you might find this list of fire stations in San Francisco, which at least gives their addresses. But short of reading every single address and mapping it to a location in your head (omg! so much thinking!) you wouldn't know which one was closest, and if two were pretty similarly close you'd have trouble working out which one. Pshaw! We live in the future, there's got to be a better way! My first thought was to try and build a Google MyMap of the stations. This involved a lot of tedious cutting and pasting, which I started to do, but then I realized it still wouldn't tell me which was closest -- I'd have to do all...
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The trouble with Republicans

A couple of recent incidents in the wake of Obama's election have left me wondering just what the hell is wrong with Republicans. Consider this one, talking about Obama's recent "gaffes": Obama thinks he is a good talker, but he is often undisciplined when he speaks. He needs to understand that as President, his words will be scrutinized and will have impact whether he intends it or not. In this regard, President Bush is an excellent model; Obama should take a lesson from his example. Bush never gets sloppy when he is speaking publicly. He chooses his words with care and precision, which is why his style sometimes seems halting. In the eight years he has been President, it is remarkable how few gaffes or verbal blunders he has committed. In fairness, if you subscribe to the definition of a gaffe as being "when a politician accidentally tells the truth", then perhaps it's true that George W. Bush was remarkably gaffe-free, because he never told the truth about anything, although I suspect he only gets...
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What the Obama administration's national CTO should do

The Obama administration has announced a national CTO position and geeks across the line are lining up to suggest what the CTO's priorities should be. The idea of a national CTO position is one of my favourite parts of Obama's platform, so here's my own wish list. Define the role of government IT Specifically, the role of IT systems should be to increase efficiency or provide new services. If the new system costs more to run than the old system, your bid is rejected. If your new system does less than the old system -- thus requiring, as too often happens, the parallel maintenance of the older system in order to cover these cases -- then your design is rejected. IT is powerful and gets cheaper every year. IT should make government cheaper and more efficient to run. That's why businesses use IT: because it makes them more money to do so than not. So no excuses. Of course, the definition of "efficiency" can be a little tricky to come by, so here's two suggestions: speed of transactions (performance), volume...
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I will not be protesting the Prop 8 decision

I was and am passionately against California's proposition 8, an unprecedented rearguard action on the part of religious conservatives to strip the rights of marriage granted by California's constitution. It is heartbreaking, and unfair, and a travesty. But it wasn't illegal, and it certainly wasn't undemocratic. So I will not be protesting against it, and I do not support the ongoing legal action against it. I twittered to this effect and immediately received several responses questioning this decision on a variety of fronts. I've been meaning to blog about this for a while now, so here goes. We lost, in a reasonably fair election Proposition 8 polls immediately before the election and six months before showed extremely similar results: a clear majority of the population, between 55% and 65%, think that marriage should be between a man and a woman. Despite a ton of campaigning on both sides, those numbers didn't change very much. It was always going to be an uphill battle. No On Prop 8 were a little slow...
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I really hate cosmetics advertising

Currently on Hulu, I am forced to watch -- 3 times per every half hour -- an ad for a product called Regenerist Eye Derma-Pod Anti-Aging Triple Response System. In addition to the reality-warping product name, it comes with this mind-blowing copy: Regenerist Eye Derma-Pod puts the benefits of three treatments at your fingertips...for radiant, younger-looking eyes. Resurfaces — regenerates surface cells, revealing younger-looking skin Decongests puffiness — massage helps remove excess undereye fluids Fills lines and wrinkles — microspheres help fill creases for a smoother look Here's my specific objections: What does regenerist mean? Maybe it's just a brand name, so I might let it pass What is a derma-pod? It translates to "stuff you put on your skin", i.e. it's a cream. The "Triple response" is actually all one function. It's like putty you plaster over the cracks in your face. What is a "radiant" eye? Eyes do not glow, so this one is pretty much pure bullshit. How exactly does it regenerate...
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Were the world mine

Were The World Mine (more info on Wikipedia) is a new movie from Speak Productions and it's pretty much my idea of a perfect movie: a musical based on Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream about a hot gay boy who discovers a potion that can turn anybody gay. There's singing! Dancing! Hot boys in glitter and silver pants! The only problem: I can't find anywhere that's playing this movie. Keep in mind that I live in San Francisco, the town where, out of the whole world, you would most expect to find this movie in theatres. I can't find it anywhere in the world. This needs to be rectified. In the meantime, enjoy the pictures, the trailer and hell, the the full soundtrack (including surprisingly large chunks of dialogue) is already available on the Amazon MP3 store (yes, that's an affiliate link -- my first ever. I hear they're all the rage). Here's a track from the album. I dunno if you think iambic pentameter sounds sexy when it's sung, but I sure do:
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I shall use my power of rainbow!

isaac_schlueter: Apparently Obama met Leonard Nimoy once and gave him the Vulcan greeting. I did not know this. Seldo: Obama is a huge nerd. S: He collects Spider-Man comics. I: yeah. spider man is totally a geek's super hero S: He really is. I: i mean, all comics are for geeks, but... spidey, i mean, he's a NERD. S: And X-Men are the gay's super heroes. I: hahahaha I: totally I: they're a big fabulous party. I: with crazy costumes and afrikan queens. S: Well, it was more that their powers only manifest at puberty I: ah, that too S: And some can remain hidden, while others are totally flaming, sometimes literally I: yep S: And people hate and fear them for no reason I: they're a minority group S: Plus they're obviously way better than normal people S: It's pretty much a direct analogy.
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HTTP Conversation Codes

.update { border: 3px solid #55f; padding: 0.7em; margin-bottom: 1em; } Update: Welcome, hackers! You can now buy this table as a super-cute poster! Thanks to Nimbus for turning this around so fast :-) So at lunch today myself, Isaac and a bunch of other co-workers who would probably prefer to remain nameless were having one of those free-flowing, ultra-nerdy conversations that you only get when you concentrate a bunch of incredibly technical people in one place and then prevent them, through social convention, from talking about work. These are pretty much a daily occurrence at Yahoo! at lunch time. The conversation somehow turned -- I think it was Isaac's idea, so perhaps he can illuminate us as to his inspiration -- to the idea of simplifying conversation by referring to common workplace situations by their equivalent HTTP status codes. This turned out to be incredibly easy, and possibly even useful. For the non-nerdy, a brief explanation: HTTP is the language your web browser uses to speak to web...
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