Random thoughts from random places

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Antonin Scalia Does Not Believe in Molecular Biology

In an opinion that boggles the mind written by Antonin Scalia on a recent the case regarding the legality of patenting genes he apparently does not believe in anything that he does not have first hand knowledge on or can experience with his own senses.

Although he agrees with the court decision that naturally occurring genes should not be patentable he disagrees in why this is the case. In his views it shouldn't be patentable because he doesn't believe in genes at all. Makes me all fuzzy inside to think that this is the guy that is one of nine final voices in legal matters in the worlds currently only super power.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

I just achieved true Inbox Zero for the first time in over 5 years

For the first time in over 5 years I have achieved true Inbox Zero meaning that I do not have a single message sitting in either my personal or work email inbox. I decided to make a concerted effort to achieve this earlier in the week and after archive over 1500 messages I am done and it feels great!

Removing old inbox messages start getting really easy once you get a couple of months back in your list since very little of that is current any more. It's just that if you never take the time to go through the whole list you never get around to removing this from your inbox and if you have something that is actually important you will have a real hard finding it. In the emails that were over 1 year old I found less than 10 emails in my case that contained information that was still relevant and important. That said I would have a real problem finding that information since it was just sitting around the 1000+ un-filed messages in my inbox.

Now it is just interesting to see how long I can hang on to this.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Dealing with credit report errors

I just realized that my credit report has several errors on it. None of them should reflect my credit, but I just thought I would take some time to fix it. The problems I have is that for some reason there is an extra address that they all think that I live on and also I am apparently according to some of them owning a US company (That also doesn't exist), which is problematic since I am not allowed to operate a company in the US based on my visa.

Trying to deal with this is kafkaesque. First of all Experian just flat out refuse to give me my free annual credit report so there is nothing I can do there for now. They give me a weird error message that refers me to a phone number that when called refers me back to the web page. There is also no place on their web page to either call or email someone about issues. I wish I cared enough to sue, because I am pretty sure what they are doing is illegal... But who has the time.

The other ones actually does work and I have successfully at least lodged a request to remove the address I've never lived at. However the company that they think that I own is nowhere on my credit report for me to even dispute and I have no idea how to get that off there so I guess I am screwed there too.

Will be interesting to see if they will actually modify my report... So far I am not super optimistic.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Why I don't like Windows Phone 8

I attended Microsoft BUILD this weekend and all the attendees got, among other things, a Nokia Lumia 920. I've read a lot and been intrigued by Windows Phone in the past but has never really used it except for a few minutes at a time so I figured I would just throw caution to the wind and move my SIM card over and start using it as my primary phone for as long as I could take it. So here is why I am now after a little bit less than a week switch back to my Galaxy Nexus phone.

The hardware of the phone is excellent, even though the phone is a bit big for my taste (Read thick). But it has good battery life, a truly phenomenal camera and solid build quality. My problem is instead with the software.

First of all I hate that Microsoft has decided that the rules for how to use capital letters in the English language no longer applies to them (And unfortunately this is something that is carried over to Windows 8 and their other new releases too (See the all caps menu bar in Visual Studio 2012 for instance). The page that most epitomizes this on Windows Phone is the setting menu which has the top caption in all caps and then everything else on the entire screen is in lower caps letters except a few random lines that still have capital letters. My head hurts just looking at it.

Another problem with the settings menu is that there is no way (Except through some third party apps) to get a shortcut to certain often used settings, such as WiFi, Bluetooth, brightness etc... They also have completely screwed up the order of the settings. As an example airplane mode is something that to me is pretty used pretty often and on Windows Phone it is not even on the first page when you go into the settings application, but instead you have to scroll down to find it.

There are also a not inconsiderable amount of just plain bugs in it. Yesterday for instance it simply refused to let me answer an incoming call (The answer button was grayed out for some reason).

Next let's look at the search button. The phone has a big nice search button. However this button is not contextual, it is simply a shortcut to Bing, which leads to some really weird UI:s as in for instance the marketplace app where you have two identical search buttons one just above the other. The top one to search the marketplace and the second one for that all important immediate Bing fix.

I also dislike how the back button works, and just think that Android has got this use case pinned down better now (They used to behave similar to Windows Phone). To me you should never be able to go "back" further than the last time you were at the start screen and I just get confused where I will go when I can.

It is also a real shame that you are stuck with the stock keyboard. Granted it is an OK keyboard (Probably about on par with what you get on an iPhone). But if you compare that to Swipe or my personal favorite SwiftKey on Android there is a long way to go unfortunately.

The map application is pretty good and it seems to use a lot less memory to have maps offline than Google Maps does. The turn by turn navigation is definitely not as good though. It doesn't speak street names and as far as I can tell there is only driving directions (No public transportation or walking).

And finally it can't be ignored that the Marketplace (The app store for Windows Phone) is a desolate wasteland compared to Android or iOS. The number of apps does not truly show how bad it is, because even the applications that do exist are usually a lot less functional on Windows Phone than they are on other platforms (The Windows Phone version of Audible is horrible compared to the Android one). Right now the apps that I really need that are not available at all on Windows Phone are Run Keeper, Google+, Picasa (That actually integrates with the phone's photos, not a stand alone app), Google Voice (That integrates with the normal dialer) plus most games that I like to play.

That said there are several things I really like. For instance, the live tile concept is great! Now if only more of the apps used it properly. For instance the client for Picasa that I found didn't use live tiles at all, which seems very odd for a picture app. All, in all the platform itself does show a lot of promise and given a year or two they might be at a point where it is actually useful. Unfortunately it is not yet there.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Atheism more common than Christianity in younger demographic

According to an encouraging article in CNN there are more atheist and agnostics between the age of and 29 years old and in general atheism is on the rise. From the article.

"According to the poll, 34% of “younger millennials” - those born between 1990 and 1994 - are religiously unaffiliated. Among “older millennials,” born between 1981 and 1989, 30% are religiously unaffiliated: 4 percentage points higher than in 2007.

Poll respondents 18-29 were also more likely to identify as atheist or agnostic. Nearly 42% religious unaffiliated people from that age group identified as atheist or agnostic, a number far greater than the number who identified as Christian (18%) of Catholic (18%)."

This is hopeful news and makes you hope that given enough time the large intrusions into all parts of American life by religion might be coming to an end.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Americas most epic undertaking started 50 years ago to this day

It is today 50 years ago that John F Kennedy gave his inspiring we choose to go to the moon speech. With this speech started the most epic of scientific achievements probably in the history of mankind to this date.

It is important to remember how the USA was the nation that accomplished this amazing feat as we are slipping in international rankings for math and science educations. It saddens me that we are not still prioritizing this frontier more. For instance we seem poised to spend more than a quarter of the entire NASA budget this year just on the presidential election campaigns. Wouldn't it be better if we had some campaign finance reform to reduce the ridiculous money spent in US politics and use that money more wisely. And in the process we might also end up with politicians that are more interested in the common good than special interest.

I recommend everybody to watch the entire speech below. It is very inspiring and still hugely relevant.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Multiplying 6 to 10 on your fingers

It is not rocket science to handle the multiplication tables of 6 to 10 in your head but I just thought this trick for doing it on your fingers was so neat that I had to share it.