Monthly Archives: February 2011

Our alien benefactors

Ten years ago a powerful alien race appeared in the skies above humanity’s major cities.

These aliens are so far in advance of our technical abilities that they have what seems to be magical powers.  Remember Clarke’s third law:  “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”  These aliens, who call themselves the Oodat, claim to have experience all over the universe helping species like humans reach their full potential and in fact to reach a state of “perfection”.  They’ve helped millions of species.  If you accept them at their word, you have no reason to doubt that they know whats better for you than you yourself does.

To receive their aid, all you have to do is do what they say.  Because of their unique history, they have many customs for you to follow.  For example, they have a large digital archive full of advice and stories from their past that they require you to read from every day.  They require you to gather together with other like-minded individuals and read from this archive together and listen to others expound upon what they think this archive means to you.  The Oodat require you to hold them in…something even more than esteem and appreciation.  Maybe the right word is reverence.

The most important part of the Oodat’s requirements is this:  you must reject the any ideas that could possibly be construed as not agreeing with what they’ve taught you no matter what the outside evidence.  Not only that, you must also reject any people who aren’t living up to the requirements the Oodat have set out for you.

After awhile, it becomes apparent that many people who follow the Oodat actually are happier.  Of course, it isn’t possible to know whether they are actually on the way to perfection, but the evidence for some people is that their lives are better.

On the flip side, some people actually seem to be worse off.  There are conflicts on the edges between people who follow the Oodat and those who don’t.  Even people who are happier under the Oodat’s tutelage lie, murder, and steal just like other humans.

Would you follow the Oodat?

Say you knew that the Oodat were legit, and actually had raised people of many species to “perfection”.  Would you follow them?

What if you realized that your idea of perfection wasn’t the same as the next person contemplating following the Oodat?

What if you realized that the Oodat’s idea of perfection was different from your own?

Traildown is the new atd (aka, I’m slowly working on a new trailer downloader)

a very small trailer

Image via Wikipedia

The old atd was more limited than I wished and when Apple made changes on their end that caused it to break, I just didn’t have the heart to fix it.  I’ve recently picked up work on a new trailer downloader that I’m calling traildown (lowercase t because I’m crazy like that).

Traildown will fetch trailers from Apple and Yahoo.  Even if it doesn’t implement an exact replication of each feature of atd, I hope you’ll be able to do everything you could with atd and more!

I’m writing this project in Java instead of Python.  This isn’t because I think Java is better than Python, but because I’m currently learning Java and needed a project to work on.

You can find the source on github.

Reality isn’t what we think it is

…our brains are not objective perceivers of reality. Not even close. What we perceive as reality is constructed in an active process that is rife with assumptions and flaws. Everything you take for granted about what you experience as yourself and the outside world is actively constructed by specific brain processes.

Steven Novella

I love this quote.  It so succinctly describes the reason most people are so wrong about so much.

Cartoon Home Simpson > Real Home Simpson

Android Application Development for Dummies

I’ve been working through the book Android Application Development for Dummies and noticed a little problem on page 182, paragraph 3 where it states:

At this point, you can install the Silent Mode Toggle application, long-press the home screen, and choose the Widgets category; now you should see the Silent Mode Toggle present.

The problem is that this isn’t true.  It’s not till the next page where you edit the AndroidManifest.xml file will you be able to see the widget.

Hopefully, this helps anyone getting frustrated trying to get the widget to show up!

On a related note, the author, Donn Felker, has been very responsive to emails about this issue.  He even offered to take the time to go through the code I’d already written.  I’ll definitely be looking for other books by him because of this.  Thanks Donn!

Soundswitch source on Github

If anyone is interested in hacking on the Soundswitch source, you can find it on GitHub.  Be sure to submit a pull request back to me if you make any changes!

New home

This isn’t directly connected what I normally post about, but I’ve got a home I’m trying to sell!