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Archive for June, 2009

Find My iPhone

June 25, 2009 Leave a comment

starship

This one made the internet rounds a couple of days ago, but in case you missed the story, I’ll pass it on. (Hat tip: Sullivan.) Background first. Apple released the new iPhone operating system, version 3.0, last Wednesday. It had been announced months ago, with many long-overdue features, such as cut-and-paste editing, getting the screen to rotate 90 degrees in the email and text programs so the wider keyboard would show up on the screen, and a voice memo program.

I woke up last Wednesday and immediately tried to update the iPhone, but the new operating system wasn’t available yet. I kept checking for the update, until I wrote to Joel and he told me it wasn’t due up until 10AM PDT. At 10, it still wasn’t available, so I gave up for a while, but at 11 it was, and I eagerly downloaded it. I also read about some of the features and discovered one that is available for subscribers to Apple’s MobileMe, the cloud-computing system through which one can sync calendar and contact programs on multiple computers plus the iPhone as well as use those programs on any computer via a browser. It’s the Find My iPhone feature. You have to go to your MobileMe account to turn it on. But once it’s on, you can do some cool things.

First, from any computer anywhere, you can sign into your account and ask it to find your iPhone. It will use the built-in GPS and cell tower triangulating features to show you the location of the phone on a map, in the way it does when you’re using the phone itself. Of course, it doesn’t pinpoint the location. It just shows the location within a circle of varying radius. But if you arrive home without your phone, you could use this feature, see that it’s in the neighborhood where you just had dinner, and figure out that you must have left it in the restaurant as opposed to your office. Next, you can have the phone ring or send text messages to it. The ringing will work even if you have turned the sound off. The text message could say please return the phone to me, or contact me, or there’s a reward, or whatever. Finally, if you realize the phone will never be recovered, you can send a signal to have its data wiped, so no one will be able to see the data. Features one never wants to use, but it’s good to know they’re there, and it makes our MobileMe subscription all the more valuable.

Okay, so that’s that. Now the story. This guy Kevin was in Chicago attending a Lego convention last weekend. One night, after seeing Second City, he and some friends ate at a bar. Upon leaving, he realized his iPhone was missing. He tells the story of how he managed to track it down that night and the next day in his blog post. The story is short, and I don’t want to spoil it, so just go read it.

Our hero has a follow-up post in which he muses about his new-found fame. You’ll also find a link to some of his Lego work, including the USS Enterprise pictured above.

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Categories: Computing, Travel

Father’s Day Weekend

June 23, 2009 Leave a comment

ubcmuseum

I’ve fallen behind on blogging in recent days partly because of a busy 72 hours from Thursday night to Sunday night. Here’s what happened. Read more…

Categories: Family, Golf, House, Travel

NYT/NPR on Torture

June 23, 2009 Leave a comment

waterboarding_sm

I was intending to write a post in late April about the NYT’s avoidance of “torture” as a description of the “enhanced” or “harsh” or “brutal” interrogation techniques practiced by the CIA. This intent was in response to the weekly Public Editor column that appears each Sunday in the NYT’s Week in Review section. Clark Hoyt now writes the column, and on April 26 he examined the NYT’s practice. An excerpt:

And why not, then, go all the way to torture? Jehl said that when the paper is discussing what is generally regarded as the most extreme interrogation method the C.I.A. used, waterboarding, “we’ve become more explicit in saying in a first reference that it’s a near-drowning technique” that Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder and many other experts “have called torture.” But he said: “I have resisted using torture without qualification or to describe all the techniques. Exactly what constitutes torture continues to be a matter of debate and hasn’t been resolved by a court. This president and this attorney general say waterboarding is torture, but the previous president and attorney general said it is not. On what basis should a newspaper render its own verdict, short of charges being filed or a legal judgment rendered?” Jehl argued for precision and caution. I agree.

Well, I sure don’t agree. Because one president says something is black and the other says it’s white, the correct journalistic practice is not to decide the truth to the extent that it’s in the paper’s power to discern, so they will be neutral?

I never did write that post. But that was eight weeks ago. Now it’s National Public Radio’s turn. On Sunday, NPR’s ombudsman Alicia Shepard weighed in. Below is one of the worst passages from her execrable piece:

It’s a no-win case for journalists. If journalists use the words “harsh interrogation techniques,” they can be seen as siding with the White House and the language that some U.S. officials, particularly in the Bush administration, prefer. If journalists use the word “torture,” then they can be accused of siding with those who are particularly and visibly still angry at the previous administration.

Huh? And if journalists say the earth is 4.5 billion years old — give or take a few million — are they siding with scientists over creationists? What about the truth. Or, as Glenn Greenwald put it in his post yesterday, “Here’s the nub of the matter – the crux of journalistic decay in America. Who cares if NPR is ‘seen’ as siding with the White House or its critics? How it is perceived — and who it angers — should have nothing to do with how it reports. Its reporting should be guided by the truth, by verifiable facts, and by the objective meaning of words.”

See Greenwald’s full post for a broader discussion.

Categories: Media, Torture

Anniversary

June 23, 2009 Leave a comment

georgian

We were married 24 years ago today at the Olympic Hotel in downtown Seattle. Our ceremony was in the Kensington Room, a small function room on the balcony level just above the hotel reception desk. We then had dinner in another small room around the bend and up some stairs. Sometimes we return to the Olympic to celebrate our anniversary, having dinner in the Georgian Room, their main restaurant. There’s not a more elegant restaurant in the city. But the Georgian Room isn’t open on Sundays and Mondays, so some years it isn’t an option. This year it is, and in three hours we’ll be eating there for the first time in five years.

I can’t wait, all the more because it will provide a wonderful break from our diet, which is in week four now. Five years ago we were on the same diet, having started it on May 3rd that year, and we didn’t depart from the diet until our anniversary. Dessert never tasted so good.

More perhaps in a later post. Congratulations to us!

Categories: Family

Hockey/Symphony

June 18, 2009 Leave a comment

penguins

I’m a little late getting to this, but how about that Stanley Cup series? Any series that goes to a 7th game is special, and one where the outcome is in doubt in the last second is especially so. We were looking forward to watching the 7th game last Friday, and to rooting the Red Wings to victory over the Penguins. As you’ll recall from an earlier post, the Red Wings are one of the NHL’s original six, and I always root for an original six team over a newcomer. Plus, given our love for all things Detroit, we have to support them.

The thing is, we were invited two days before the game to go to the symphony. We have old friends who subscribe. They invite us every year or two to join them. (They have four seats.) The symphony started at 8:00 PM Friday. We left the house at 7:00, just as the third period started. The Penguins were up 2-0 at that point, to our disappointment. There was the possibility that the third period wouldn’t be too exciting. We set the DVR to record the rest of the game and listened to the first few minutes on the radio as we drove downtown. Then we put it out of our minds and enjoyed our evening in Benaroya Hall.
Read more…

Categories: Music, Sports

McCain on Iran

June 18, 2009 Leave a comment

In April 2007, John McCain famously sang “Bomb Bomb Iran” to the melody of the Beach Boys song Barbara Ann. (Watch the video above.) Here’s the thing — and I’m hardly the first to point this out — if we had bombed them, among the victims would be the people now fighting for a just election result, democracy, and the rule of law in Iran. Here’s how Glenn Greenwald put it two days ago:

Much of the same faction now claiming such concern for the welfare of The Iranian People are the same people who have long been advocating a military attack on Iran and the dropping of large numbers of bombs on their country — actions which would result in the slaughter of many of those very same Iranian People. During the presidential campaign, John McCain infamously sang about Bomb, Bomb, Bombing Iran. … Rudy Giuliani actually said he would be open to a first-strike nuclear attack on Iran in order to stop their nuclear program.

Imagine how many of the people protesting this week would be dead if any of these bombing advocates had their way — just as those who paraded around (and still parade around) under the banner of Liberating the Iraqi People caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of them, at least. Hopefully, one of the principal benefits of the turmoil in Iran is that it humanizes whoever the latest Enemy is. Advocating a so-called “attack on Iran” or “bombing Iran” in fact means slaughtering huge numbers of the very same people who are on the streets of Tehran inspiring so many — obliterating their homes and workplaces, destroying their communities, shattering the infrastructure of their society and their lives. The same is true every time we start mulling the prospect of attacking and bombing another country as though it’s some abstract decision in a video game.

For more on McCain and Iran, see the comments of hilzoy and Larison. hilzoy concludes her post as follows:

Seriously: this guy might have been President. National security was supposed to be his strong suit. On the most charitable interpretation, he is completely ignorant of the history of our relations with Iran, but this fact does not prevent him from pontificating about what we ought to do. Think about that, and thank the deity of your choice that he lost.

Categories: Foreign Policy, Politics

Misbehaving Audiences

June 18, 2009 Leave a comment
Tovah Feldshuh in Irena’s Vow

Tovah Feldshuh in Irena’s Vow

I was going through a pile of Wall Street Journals last night before recycling them when I came across the front page feature article from two Saturdays ago. I’m glad I caught it. It has the clever title Are Misbehavin’: No Tonys for These Performances, and in it, Ellen Gamerman writes about some astonishing examples of audience misbehavior these days. For example:

The litany of misdemeanors is long. During a Saturday matinee of the Holocaust drama “Irena’s Vow,” a man walked in late and called up to actress Tovah Feldshuh to halt her monologue until he got settled. “He shouted, ‘Can you please wait a second?’ and then continued on toward his seat,” recalls Nick Ahlers, a science teacher from Newark, N.J., who was in the audience. He says the actress complied.

Ms. Feldshuh says she typically pauses when she’s interrupted. She doesn’t recall the incident, which she says may be evidence of the Zen attitude she’s cultivated onstage. “I have no negative energy about it to even remember,” she says.

Gamerman makes the useful observation that unruly behavior isn’t new: “Rowdy audiences have been around as long as stages. William Shakespeare’s plays were performed outdoors while prostitutes and drunk spectators milled about eating fruit and nuts, talking back to the actors and throwing things at them.”

Maybe this is as it should be. The article ends on a cheery note:

Some shows are beginning to experiment with new etiquette rules. “Hair” director Diane Paulus is exploring ways to make the theater atmosphere more relaxed, less traditional. In order to keep up with the times, she plans to allow cell phones this summer at a theater space at the American Repertory Theater, in Cambridge, Mass., where she is the artistic director.

“I’ll tell you, it’s radical,” she says. “I don’t think there’s a theater in America that tells you to turn your phone on.”

Categories: Theater