Category: General

Politics

I find the whole presidential primary situation interesting.  Before all of this started, if you had looked at the candidates, I would have thought that McCain would have his hands full with the various republican contenders and that Clinton would have had less competition given her political pedigree and connections.

I just find it so interesting that the ongoing situation is completely different.  McCain has basically won the Republican nomination and Clinton is battling for her life with Obama.  Obama has a certain easy going and confidence inducing quality that has led to a ground swell of support.  Of course, the race is not nearly over on the Democratic side.  Clinton has many allies and lots of experience in campaigns.  (Between herself and Bill).  It will be interesting to see what they try to pull to overcome Obama’s lead.

The latest news had suggested that the races in Ohio and Texas are key and if Obama wins either one, then it is done.  My understanding is that Clinton is way ahead on Ohio which leads to Texas.

Regardless of your political leaning, you have to agree that this spectacle unravelling is very interesting.

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Legal MP3 Downloads

I was jsut perusing the Internet and noticed that Amazon.com offers legal MP3 downloads. You have to pay per song, but the result files are true DRM-free MP3’s.  These are files that will play on any music player.  iTunes does offer DRM free music, but they mix in both types and so you have to be very careful when choosing what to buy.

My frustration with iTunes DRM is that it limits you from playing the tunes on any device other than those that work with iTunes.  (e.g. iPods)  My attitude is: "I bought the music and should be able to play it on any device."  The only way you can be 100% certain to do so is by downloading music in MP3 format which is a universally accepted standard.  This very fact has prevented me from purchasing anything from iTunes because I do not want to support their proprietary DRM.

The beauty of the Amazon approach is that the music is indeed DRM free and can play on any device.  The purchase process is actually quite simple for individual songs although one review indicated that you need to download and install Amazon software to download an entire album.  My interest is more in individual songs and so I do not believe that this is a true limiatation.  I suggest that you check it out.

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Internet Cable Cut

There were numerous headlines over the last couple of weeks about the problems with Internet access in India due to a cable cut. Basically, one of the Fibre Optic lines serving India and the Middle East was severed resulting in reduced Internet service across the entire geography. This brings up an interesting issue. It is amazing that today’s telecom infrasctructure is still so fragile that a single cable cut can have such an impact. Ironically, the original design of the TCP/IP protocol was to allow networks to recover from these kinds of problems. One would hope that we would have enough bandwidth and redundancy to prevent these kinds of problems.

I ran into an Internet that discusses the above cut. Interestingly, it indicates that the problems were all caused by a ship dropping anchor during a storm and severing/damaging the cable. It is amazing that such a simple thing could have such an impact.

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Foreclosure Story on the News

On the news, they had a story of a woman who bought a house that was far beyond her means.  Now she is in a situation where interest rates have increased dramatically and she can no longer afford the house.  People are trying to foreclose on the house and she is vowing to fight including barring herself into the house.  Interestingly, in the interview on the news, she says "It is not my fault.  I was pursuing the american dream and was mislead by my mortgage broker and realtor."   Now, is she is making a valid argument?

In my opinion, we all have to take responsibilities for our own actions.  It is certainly possible that the woman did not understand the mortgage, but don’t you think that you would want to understand what kind of mortgage you are committing to before you sign the paperwork?  It is certainly possible that she was mislead by one of the parties mentioned; however, it still sounds like she is blaming people around her without taking respnsibility for her own actions. 

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I an into this article on the Internet. It discusses Microsoft’s release process for Windows and suggests that MS might be accelerating the release of Vista’s successor. THis is an interesting statement since MS seems to take forever to release new versions of Windows.

My personal experience with Vista is less than stellar. Everyone I know who has it, complains about it. Worst of all, I tend to help friends and family with PC support and find that I am unable to help with Vista. It is just so different from XP and so confusing. Application compatibility can still be an issue as well. In general, my recommendation to anyone who asks is to bypass Vista and stick with XP. XP certainly has its foibles, but it is a well understood OS. Vista just opens up a new can of worms and confusion, and is less well understood.

Interestingly, I thnk that the new version of MS-Office suffers some of the same issues. One of my colleagues has it and finds it impossible to find the function that is needed. It is totally different and IMO, more difficult to use than the older versions. MS-Office had the same interface for years and power users are familiar with it. Now, trying to simplify Office, they have made it more difficult to use for power users. Again, if given the choice and you are experienced with Office, I suggest that you stay away from it.

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