Blog Posts from November 2004 (page 1 of 4)

Turkey Day 2004

We’ve had a good family Thanksgiving this year. We flew to northern Virginia where my parents live on Monday, avoiding the craziness of traveling the day before Thanksgiving. Patrick is such a good traveler! Tuesday, we went to the brand new National Museum of the American Indian with two of my mother’s first cousins and her aunt (I think – hard to keep these family relations straight sometimes). It was great having that part of the family around – I hadn’t seen them since my grandfather passed away back in high school. They were also over for Thanksgiving today, which was fascinating listening to stories of my grandfather’s family as well as their world travels. For example, they recently visited the River Kwai and learned of its history – let’s just say it’s nothing like the movie.

I’ve also seen a bunch of old friends who still live here or flew in to be with family who live here. Last night, Jules made enchiladas en mas for the family and for our good friends John and Barbara and their daughter Elizabeth. John works for a defense contractor these days and Barbara is a stay at home mom. (I hate that term, but I don’t know how else to put it. Moms work hard – they don’t just “stay home”) Rich and Jess, who are in from San Francisco, also stopped by. Rich is a marketing expert and also covers the SF Giants for the newspaper. Today, we had breakfast with Rich and Jess plus Dave and Heather and their son Ethan. I didn’t really know Dave growing up – more of a friend of a friend who I got to know after high school. Dave has worked at the White House since sometime in Clinton’s first term. Rich wore his “Free Martha” t-shirt for the occasion. He also pointed out that Mary Cheney – yes, that Mary Cheney – graduated from my high school a year behind me. It’s a small world.

We’re here thru the middle of next week – I almost always get to the end of the year with vacation to use or lose. I can’t stand traveling the day before Thanksgiving or shopping the day after, so I’m probably going to hang out with my brother while Jules and my mother and my great aunt go shopping. Dad has to work – which seems ludicrous since how much is really going to get done the day after Thanksgiving? Maybe he’ll find time to blog. Next week is more hanging out, though I am taking the time to visit a customer before I head back to the grind.

New Smartphone(s)

As I mentioned in my last post, I have a new toy – a Motorola MPx220 smartphone. I’m actually lucky enough to have recently laid my hands on two smartphones. The other was a dopod 515 which was a gift from the organizers of TechEd Beijing. The dopod is nice, but I really dig the MPx220. I’m partial to flip phones, plus the MPx220 has a camera and Bluetooth.

Of course, one of the benefits of having a smartphone is the ability to write some custom stuff for it. There are a variety of tweaks available that are predicated on registry modifications. There’s a registry editor for Smartphone 2002, but I couldn’t get it to install on since my phone is running Windows Mobile 2003. Luckily, there’s with a wide variety of useful libraries for compact framework development. They even have registry editing libraries that work from the device or the desktop. Not sure what else I want to write yet other than an app to download movie times a la the new SPOT watch movies channel, but I’m sure I can think of something!

One PhotoStory Gripe

I’m pretty impressed with the new Photo Story. I’ve been tracking this program since it was a research project so it’s been cool to watch it evolve. However, I did run into something I didn’t like in the new version. Once you’ve built a Photo Story, you can render it to a variety of target profiles. One of the target profiles is for SmartPhone. I’ve recently got an MPx220 so I figured I’d try it out. Didn’t work as Photo Story’s target profile is for SmartPhone with Windows Media Player 10 Mobile which the MPx220 doesn’t have installed. Woops. And you can’t upgrade the device to WMP10 Mobile. Double woops.

While I’m annoyed that I can’t install WMP10 Mobile on my MPx220, I’m more annoyed at Photo Story. There’s no way to build a custom target profile that would work with my phone. I was able to build an encoder profile to convert a Photo Story rendered for the desktop to be converted down to work well on the SmartPhone. Why can’t I just do that inside Photo Story?

The Plain Folks Elected a Downright Moron?

I’ve gotten very familiar with the Urban Legend Reference Pages. I often get emails from close friends or family of supposed news stories and quotes that a quick search on the site demonstrate are false. Today, I hit one of the rarer “true” pages on the site. I received a quote in email by H. L. Mencken that has apparently been making the rounds on the political blogs that I am not currently reading due to my personal media blackout. The quote making the rounds is:

As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron

Mencken actually did say this, though the above quote is cut down and taken slightly out of context. Here’s a larger version of the quote:

The larger the mob, the harder the test. In small areas, before small electorates, a first-rate man occasionally fights his way through, carrying even the mob with him by force of his personality. But when the field is nationwide, and the fight must be waged chiefly at second and third hand, and the force of personality cannot so readily make itself felt, then all the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre — the man who can most easily adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum.

The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.

[Henry Louis Mencken, “Bayard vs. Lionheart”, Baltimore Evening Sun, 26 July 1920. Quoted from]

I like the longer version much better. The cutdown quote reads like an indictment of “the plain folks of the land”. The longer quote is more a cynical commentary on the process itself. He still predicts (accurately IMO) the election of a moron to the White House, but Mencken seems to lay the blame more on having to campaign “second and third hand” than on the people who elect said moron. Either way, you still have a moron, but the longer quote gives much more insight on how to deal with the issue going forward.

I wonder what Mencklen would have thought of the modern media?

Two Thumbs Up on New Comcast Service

Jeff Sandquist and Scoble have gotten their new ComCast boxes and apparently the service rocks. Mine gets installed Sunday.

(side note – Does anyone still use Scoble’s first name or has Scoble transcended the whole first-name/last-name thing and moved directly to single name status?)