Space Shuttle Tragedy
If you haven't already heard, the Space Shuttle Columbia exploded or otherwise broke apart at about 9:00 a.m. EST this morning while attempting to return to Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
- NASA and CNN.com both have information on the tragedy.
- The mission included the first ever space flight by an Israeli. In a sad bit of irony, the majority of the shuttle pieces that have been found have been located near Palestine, Texas.
- Some have suggested the damage that lead to this may have occurred at launching when a piece of shielding from the rocket hit the shuttle.
- The White House believes, due to the space shuttle's height at the time of the event, that it was not caused by terrorism.
Is the State of the Union (Address) Good?
On Tuesday, Americans around the country gathered for that highly anticipated event on television and radio that happens just once a year. No, it wasn't the Super Bowl delayed by two days, it was the annual State of the Union address by the President of the United States, and this time around, everyone nervously anticipated whether President Bush would use the opportunity to declare war.
Surprisingly, he didn't. Rather than a unilateral declaration of war, over half of the address was spent talking about various domestic issues. It was certainly reassuring to see that the President was keeping up on other issues beyond what to do with Iraq, and many of his proposals sounded both bold and laudable.
Unfortunately, while he ran on a conservative platform of more responsible spending, and even during the speech, emphasized the need for the country not to grow its budget faster than the incomes of those it serves, it seemed that the President was suffering a bad case of “fuzzy math.” Although he managed to emphasize the tax cuts that his core supporters and party want, it was unfortunate that he also unveiled billions of dollars in new spending. Considering that the federal budget is already running up a large deficit, I found it puzzling that President Bush was proposing more spending and more tax cuts at the same time.
Still, on other issues that he covered, his positions seemed to be sizably less contradictory, thankfully. For example, it was good to see the President speak boldly against the threats of human cloning and urge the legislators to pass a ban on the same this year. It was at this point that he seemed on a roll as he also spoke out for preserving “human dignity” by pushing for a ban on partial birth abortion. These were the kind of things that had made President Bush's campaign the dynamic, successful one that it was, and it was nice to see that he hadn?t given up all of his values in his attempt to be a “unifier and not a divider.”
Then came Iraq. After attempting, rather unsuccessfully, to use the North Korean crisis as a launching board for why we should attack Iraq — odd logic indeed — the President dove into the issue everyone was really waiting to hear him speak on. Considering that the State of the Union address is hardly the proper place for declassifying information, the President did do a good job of providing a convincing “I really do know something I'm not saying yet” element to his discussion of Iraq.
I was pleased to see that the President's plan includes sending Secretary Powell to the United Nations on the fifth of February. While I have long been an opponent of the United Nations and its attempts at encroachment on national sovereignty, in this case it would seem that working with the UN security council, and hopefully convincing them to support us, will lend more credibility and strength to the United States' effort to depose the Iraqi regime.
All of this built up to the “big idea” of the evening as the President concluded that, based on the evidence, if Iraq is not an evil regime, then “evil has no meaning.” Indeed, the details, if they can be proven true, would show that Iraq has violated virtually every core point in the 1991 ceasefire agreements, as well as basic human rights laws that would most certainly put Saddam Hussein in line for a crimes against humanity trial.
The real question though, was left up the air. I think virtually no one doubted that the current administration is determined to get the regime change that it desires, however, the question of when was not addressed. Considering Powell's scheduled meeting with the UN Security Council next week, we know there is at least a week, but after that, things become significantly harder to figure out.
In summary, as usual, the State of the Union address was interesting; although not necessarily informative on the issues we all really wanted to know about. At least it did give the pundits something to talk about.
Tim Butler is the guy that writes this journal. He also writes on the computer industry at Open for Business.
…and I have some thoughts I'd like to post here. But I'm too tired tonight. Oh, KDE 3.1 came out today — go download it using the time you would have spent here.
Friday Five: Work
1. Where do you currently work?
2. How many other jobs have you had and where?
None or several, depending on how you look at it. I've always been self employed, but I've been focusing less on consulting lately and more on journalism at OfB, so I guess you could almost say I've switched jobs. Unfortunately, I have to keep doing consulting for the moment though, at least until the ad market picks up.
3. What do you like best about your job?
That's a difficult question. I enjoy the interaction and response to commentary I post and I also enjoy seeing a completed consulting project. However, I think I definately enjoy the interaction, along with the flexibility I have, the most.
4. What do you like least about your job?
Not being able to completely devote my time to journalistic pursuits.
5. What is your dream job?
I think my dream job would be a position involved in apologetics. I love the apologetics and comparative religion field and it would be great to get to devote my time to that. I'd also enjoy working in renewal movements in the mainline Christian denominations… I bet that shocked some of you, huh? I guess I'm drawn to the areas where scriptural analysis, discussion, and defense are at the core of the job.
In particular, one of my dreams would be to spend time creating a reference that contained concise reports on the top few hundred religions, denominations, cults, and sects. There are lots of guides to all of these things, but there really isn't an exhaustive listing of all of these groups in one easy to find place. Most resources pick “favorites” or just the top few, and I'd love to see a resource so that when the average Christian (or anyone for that matter) wanted to know who a 'Whatchamacallit' was, they could just flip open a book. Maybe I'll talk more about this in another journal entry sometime…
MandrakeSoft declares Bankruptcy
Well, they did what everyone expected them to do. My favorite GNU/Linux vendor has declared bankruptcy today. Besides the article I linked to in that sentence I also wrote a bit of commentary on it here. In the time since I started Open for Business, I've gotten to know some of the Mandrake people — such as co-founder Gaël Duval — so I almost feel like I've gotten news that an old friend is dying. I certainly hope they can emerge from this. What a shame.
In happier news: some of you might have noticed that there is a new blog in my blogroll. I'm rather picky about blogs, but I went to read GoodDogBadDog after Owen told me he had started linking to my journal, and it is really good. Go give him a read!
The Creative Penguin
Art is a critical part of any operating system's GUI these days. With that in mind, I spent some time doing an interview with the creative minds behind the Crystal icon theme. Primarily, Crystal is the default icon set of KDE, however Crystal icons have also wound their way into a Mac OS X icon set, a Windows XP icon set, a WindowBlinds theme, and more. The amazing popularity of this theme catapulted Everaldo Coelho from an unknown GNU/Linux user to one of the premier computer icon/graphic artists in the industry. Coelho, with assistance from veteran KDE artist Torsten Rahn, has continued to improve Crystal; a project they discuss in the interview that you can find here.
I posted some new screenshots for those interested in seeing what my desktop with KDE 3.1 looks like (geekish to english translation: KDE is the most popular “desktop” for Linux… in other words, it provides a bunch of integrated apps, an OLE/ActiveX-like thing, window management, and so forth; a further simplification would be to say KDE is basically the entire GUI as far as a new Linux user would be concerned). I tried to show off some of KDE 3.1's best new visual features, such as Keramik, menu transparency, and Crystal SVG (which, oddly enough is png's of SVG's, the real SVG's will show up in KDE 3.2, IIRC). Take a look on my screenshot page.
Oh, as a side note, checkout this post I sent to ChristianSource. It shows a really exciting KDE-related move made by Apple Computer yesterday.
Brainbench Personality Assessment
For the most part, the results seem — at least, I think — alright… nothing that seems outright unreasonable, except for one little detail. What detail is that? Well, it suggested that I'm liberal minded, a puzzling thing for someone who is constantly looking forward to the latest edition of The St. Charles County Republican or the GOP's High Tide publications. Well, then again it might have figured me against other people with similar answers on non-political topics… after all very few of the questions could be considered strongly political.
Hmm… after doing this, I wonder if this isn't a “light” version of a Personality Inventory such as the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI)? As far as I know, I'm neither psychologically unstable nor a pychiatrist, so I've never taken the MMPI. However, I remember reading a few sample questions from it, so I think it might be similar. Of course, I doubt Brainbench is worried nearly as much with accuracy or diagonsis of psychological illness. Did I mention that I doubt they are worried with diagnosis? Oh, I forgot to mention that I wonder if they are worried about diagnosis…
Dear Timothy Butler:
Here are your Brainbench Personality Assessment Results.
Please review these results carefully and refer to the
interpretation notes at the bottom.
PART 1 — PERSONALITY EVALUATION:
----------------------------------------------------------------------------- Trait |<--|---|---|---- Range ----|---|---|--->| Trait ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- Introverted |..................X.....................| Extraverted Candid |......................................X.| Considerate Impulsive |..............X.........................| Cautious Excitable |..........X.............................| Relaxed Practical |..........................X.............| Imaginative Concrete |......................X.................| Abstract ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- |<--|---|---|---- Range ----|---|---|--->| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Your Social Boldness: Introverted VS Extraverted
You are slightly introverted. Do you ever say to people,
“I'm really an introvert” and then they look at you funny?
That's because you can be both Extraverted and introverted,
but in social situations people see you as an Extravert.
Your enthusiastic and self-confident personality, plus your
ease at talking to strangers gives the appearance that you
are outgoing, even though you may attribute it to just
being a friendly person. You find yourself at the center of
attention, even though you may not actively seek that
position. You are such a warm person that people like to
follow you. Which is good, since you have no problem
accepting your role as a leader when it is given to you.
With your ability to flow easily from shy to outgoing, you
may tend to easily flow from exciting adventures to
relaxing times at home. This makes you a fun person to be
around, because you do not always have to be on the go, yet
you know there is more to life than reading and watching TV.
Your Agreeableness: Candid VS Considerate
You are very considerate. You are a popular person, aren't
you? Of course you are. You truly value harmony in dealing
with others. People recognize your friendly, generous, and
helpful personality. Your easy-going, agreeable nature
makes you such a joy to be around. This is especially true
in meetings or general conversations. The topic may become
heated, but you are considerate of other's feelings and you
will find a happy medium in order to placate those around
you. This is because you have an optimistic view of human
nature and you realize that if you trust people with their
decisions that they are not trying to hurt you or take
advantage of you. This special and rare quality is also
seen in your altruism. You enjoy helping others. To you it
is not a sacrifice; to you it is fulfilling to help others
Your Self-Control: Impulsive VS Cautious
You are moderately impulsive. At times you can be
impulsive, but not to the point where you are jeopardizing
work or relationships. You know when to follow rules, but
you also know when to bend rules that are not set in stone.
If your home or work space gets a little messy, you do not
get upset or feel compelled to tidy up. You do not have to
have perfect order in your life to feel good about yourself
or your environment. You tend to be more on the fun side of
spontaneity, and enjoy being flexible with your plans and
your life. In general, you prefer to make short-term goals
rather than long-term goals.
Your Anxiety Level: Excitable VS Relaxed
You are moderately excitable. In trying situations, you
feel somewhat stressed and frustrated. At times you are
able to overcome these feelings, but other times you feel
overwhelmed. This could run the gamut of just being in a
bad mood to experiencing anxiety, anger, or depression. In
general, you prefer a stress-free existence, so that the
possibility of negative emotions would not be a factor. You
tend to be somewhat self-conscious in social situations,
and are worried that people may judge or criticize you. You
may react emotionally to people or circumstances that you
find threatening, because you want to protect yourself.
Every so often you cave into urges or cravings. Sometimes
you feel a little guilty about it, other times you are just
fine with your fun streak.
Your Openness to Change: Practical VS Imaginative
You are moderately imaginative. You are willing to try new
things - and you are good at it! Your creativity, openness
to new experiences, and broadmindedness allow you to
proceed into the unknown with confidence. You enjoy your
individuality. You do not want to be one of the masses.
Your tendency to be nonconforming - in a good way - ensures
that you will never be considered average. Utilizing your
brain is important to you. This is evident in the
activities you seek. You are able to tune into your
feelings and are able to accurately express how you are
thinking and feeling. You appreciate beauty, whether it is
in art or nature, and you like to be aesthetically engaged.
You tend to be more liberal-minded and able to think on a
The way you Think/Reason: Concrete VS Abstract
You are slightly abstract in your thinking. Your thinking
is neither simple nor complex, to others you appear to be a
well-educated person but not an intellectual. You tend to
be intellectually curious and have the uncanny abilities to
distinguish imaginative, creative people from
down-to-earth, conventional people.
PART 2: OCCUPATIONAL PREFERENCE EVALUATION:
Social people seem to satisfy their needs in teaching or
helping situations. They are drawn more to seek close
interpersonal relationships and are less apt to engage in
intellectual of extensive physical activity. The S type
generally likes to help, teach, and counsel people more
than engage in mechanical or technical activity. The S
type usually likes to be around other people, working in
groups and sharing responsibilities. They are good
communicators and are interested in how people get along,
and like to help other people with their problems. They
like nursing, or giving first aid and providing
information. They generally avoid using machines, tools,
or animals to achieve a goal. They see themselves as
helpful, friendly, and trustworthy.
The adjectives most typically associated with the Social
occupational category are:
PART 3: BRAINBENCH TEST RECOMMENDATIONS
The categories of Brainbench Certification tests we
recommend based on your personality and occupational
Computer Software -> Internet Software:
Computer Software -> Office Software:
Financial -> Financial Software:
Languages and Communication -> Communications:
Languages and Communication -> Essential Skills:
Management -> Sales and Marketing:
Office Skills -> Administrative Skills:
Office Skills -> Customer Service and Help Desk:
PART 4: INTERPRETATION NOTES
(1) The report sent to your computer screen upon the
completion of this assessment is only a temporary web page.
When you exit your web browser you will not be able to
return to this URL to re-access your report. A copy of the
report is emailed directly to you when you complete the
(2) Personality traits describe, relative to other people,
the frequency or intensity of a person's feelings,
thoughts, or behaviors. Possession of a trait is therefore
a matter of degree. We might describe two individuals as
extraverts, but still see one as more extraverted than the
other. This report uses expressions such as “extravert” or
“high in extraversion” to describe someone who is likely to
be seen by others as relatively extraverted.
assessment are neither good nor bad. As with any
personality inventory, scores and descriptions can only
approximate an individual's actual personality. Questions
about the accuracy of your results are best resolved by
reviewing and discussing your report with people who know
Linux and Internet Stuff
Certainly, Mac users aren't the only ones to do attacking — although, based on my experiences, and those Fred Langa has written about, I'll say they are the worst. Anyway, the more recent problem has come from GNU/Linux users. In my current on-going series of review of GNU/Linux distributions, I've heard flames from both the Xandros and Mandrake camps. While I prefer Mandrake, I decided my associate editor Eduardo Sanchez's take on release 9.0's flaws was definately fair, and so we published a very critical review. Of course, even though the review mentions that we thought 8.2 might have been the best version ever, we are still “biased against Mandrake.” Huh… interesting.
At PCLinuxOnline, there are a lot of attacks about our take on Mandrake. However, there is also a former, disgruntled PCLinuxOnline editor who keeps ranting at anyone who doesn't agree with him that LindowsOS is the best Linux distribution out there. When one of the other editors tried to calm him down (and, by the way, it was a mutual agreement that this guy left — most likely since he was so pro-Lindows anti-everything else), the guy just started attacking the other editor even more so.
This is sad. While I think what OS people use is critically important to the future freedom (or lack thereof) of data, it shouldn't mean we get nasty about it. On that note, I'll transition into my other note for today… that is, why we should be concerned with our choice of operating system. With legislation like the DMCA and how it has been used (including the prosecution of Mr. Skylov last year due to the fact that his tool might promote illegal activity and those involved with DeCSS since it might be used for piracy - ever wonder if they prosecuted politicians since they might abuse power or take bribes?), there are good reasons to worry what companies like Apple or Microsoft (or Lindows.com) might do. The fact is, any time you depend on a strictly licensed, proprietary product to control your data and information, you are giving that company partial ownership of you and your work.I think this was summed up quite well by my friend Jens Benecke's signiture today:
When they encrypted TV (Macrovision) I said nothing - I don't have a TV.It's something to think about as Microsoft's Palladium initiative is pushed forward and bills like Sen. Fritz “Eisner's Best Friend” Hollings's CBDTPA continue to be discussed.
When they encrypted DVD (CSS) I said nothing - I don't watch DVDs.
When they encrypted the OS (XP,XBOX) I said nothing - I don't use XP.
When they encrypted the internet I said nothing
- there was no one left to talk to.
- Ciaran Hamilton - Hope you have a great Christmas over on your side of the “pond.” Thanks for all the interesting stuff you post on your blog.
- Kevin Hartwig - Merry Christmas Kevin… my day is certainly not complete without my dose of Sakamuyo.
- Christopher - Last, but not least, Happy Christmas to you “Mr. Wright.” Thanks for the idea of wishing my blog friends a merry Christmas, and for your ever interesting blog. And, also for wading through my sometime techno-jabber filled blog.