Panic Attack

While flying back home from Boston, I was reading a book that described a panic attack and I came to the realization that the last scene of the Sopranos was all about making the audience experience a panic attack. There was a scene that would have been normal for any family in the United States, but many seemingly small details of the scene caused anxiety for the viewer. It all started with Tony coming into the room and checking everyone out. The camera flits back and forth like you had darting eyes. He sits facing the door, looking up quickly as people come in. Another person walks in and Tony darts his hand into his pants, only to pull out change for the jukebox.

After Carmela comes in the camera still wanders around the room, seemingly assessing people for their potential threat. It lingers on suspicious people. A man walks in in front of AJ, and the camera lingers on him, too, until AJ starts to sit down. We see the guy sitting at the counter who seems suspicious, and AJ seems to be nervous. We observe in excruciating detail Meadow's seemingly careless and clumsy parking and crossing the street. The camera linger son the car like we're expecting an accident.

The man at the counter walks past and goes to the bathroom. Tony looks at him and assesses. AJ acts nervous. Two more guys wander in and seem to loiter. We hear a car long before it passes safely behind Meadow as she runs into the restaurant.

And then there's sudden silence after Tony looks up, with a look more like surprise than recognition of his daughter.

What I'm trying to say is that the scene fills with growing tension before the sudden blackout, just like an unexplained anxiety before a panic attack and blackout. I think David Chase wanted the audience to have an panic attack like Tony experienced several times during the series. I'm not sure if he was trying to give people a glimpse of how Tony felt every day at the beginning of the series, or just pointing out that's what his life is like all the time. After all, we had quite the vicarious thrill following him up to that point.

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “General” Sunday, Dec 5 2010 08:04 PM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks


I used to have the iframe for the Maverick Meerkat launch here, but somehow it was breaking MT.

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Linux” Friday, Oct 8 2010 09:51 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

McDonald v. Chicago

…the Fourteenth Amendment incorporates the Second Amendment right, recognized in Heller, to keep and bear arms for the purpose of self-defense.

I didn't doubt it would end up this way, but the Supreme Court has just ruled that the right to keep and bear arms isn't just a right in Federal jurisdictions but also a right that must not be infringed by the states.

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Guns” Monday, Jun 28 2010 10:07 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

Mobile Broadband Prices Update

A little while ago I posted this table:

Cost/moAllowance (GB)Cost/GB15102050

Today we have a new table from AT&T, admittedly the prices got better:

Cost/moAllowance (GB)Cost/GB15102050

While this still seems steep to me, especially since the $30 unlimited data plan has been eliminated for iPhones and iPads, it's a massive improvement, despite the people freaking out about it.

I should point out this only is for smartphones, the data plans for laptops appear to not be part of this.

Update: For DataConnect the $20 plan seems to be gone now.

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Technology” Wednesday, Jun 2 2010 06:17 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

The “I Bought A Song” Registry

Oh how I wish someone made a registry that for a small fee, would accept real CDs, DVDs, or Blu-Rays, Amazon and iTunes accounts, or whatever, and would register that a particular person had purchased a particular piece of content. In exchange, the service would guarantee that when new formats came out they could download that song or movie or even, ick, cut new physical media.

Imagine that all the content providers loved this idea and would immediately allow people to buy their music or movies through the registry and not have to deal with physical distribution and format wars themselves. Imagine further that these providers could provide the best possible masters to the registry and make a little money no matter how the user decided to use their media.

Imagine they could come up with a way for families to share their music amongst themselves for less than the cost of buying all the music and movies again.

I sit here thinking about what it would mean to send every CD and DVD in the house off, and turn over the keys to my online download accounts in exchange for a shiny new download service that works with everything I have. I even imagine that DirecTV gets in on the deal and updates their software so I can download my own content to my receivers through the satellite and distribute it to my local computers, iPods, and media centers instead of killing my puny Internet connection. I imagine that Netflix figures out how to make rentals appear on this service in some way that's temporary.

It will never happen of course. Everyone seems to think they'll lose something in this kind of arrangement. But sometimes it's fun to dream about what would be best for the consumer. In fact, I think it's the way out of the rental mess for Netflix, but I doubt they like the idea either.

Instead we are forced to play in walled gardens and buy our music and movies again every time something new comes out. Heck, I have DVD and Blu-Ray versions of a lot of different movies at this point. What a waste!

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Technology” Monday, May 31 2010 12:07 PM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

Gentium Working

As I mentioned in November, WebKit-based browser like Chrome, Safari, and especially the iPhone and iPad didn't support open font technologies like @font-face the same as Mozilla and Internet Explorer do, but apparently they do support SVG fonts. The folks at FontSquirrel have updated their kits to include SVG, so poof, the blog is much more readable on those browsers now!

They probably fixed it a long time ago, but I never bothered to look into it until now.

Now to figure out why Chrome doesn't show the blog title correctly…

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Blogging, Technology” Monday, May 17 2010 07:01 PM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

Mobile Broadband Prices Yikes!

My new laptop has mobile broadband capability, so I looked at the prices. I pay $400/mo for 1 megabit up/down at home (spread over a large number of devices, at least), so I was just seeing how bad it was out there.

Well, AT&T has a page here that indicates it would cost far more for me to go to mobile broadband for my laptop. That table indicates that there is no unlimited plan, and there are only three other choices. I homogenized the units to gigabytes (there are little KBs hiding in there!), and calculated the price of using 1GB through 50GB a month to see how bad it could be:

Cost/moAllowance (GB)Cost/GB15102050

I can only conclude that it makes no sense to buy any of these plans if you intend to do any significant work, play, or surfing on the Internet. Never buy the $20 plan for any reason, no matter what, since just surfing to a single web page could use up all of your monthly allowance, and $1,900/GB is pretty darned expensive. Compare that to the hourly activity of a 13-year-old girl and Farmville and you're bankrupt in no time.

A reasonable solution is a $100/mo unlimited plan. Frankly, the most reasonable approach is automatic upgrades to the next higher tier if you go over your limit. Until this is fixed, I cannot consider mobile broadband for a laptop.

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Technology” Thursday, Apr 22 2010 12:30 PM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

Rule of Law

Lately the news shows have been passing on the talking point that Tea Party activists are complaining about high taxes when for most of them taxes have gone down. Obviously one cannot have huge deficits without paying for them some day. In fact, does anyone remember this particular complaint from the Declaration of Independence?

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

The Tea Party activists are clearly concerned that the government will grow to uncontrollable size and look for planets to feed upon like Galactus from the old X-Men comic books. They know taxes will rise, and they know that stopping profligate spending is the only way to prevent it. They are being proactive.

Still, I feel there is another undercurrent in the Tea Party movement, and it is the understanding that the Rule of Law needs to return. The Rule of Law enshrouds the idea that no matter who you are you will be treated the same as anyone else under the law. This governing principle has not been evident of late. Here are some examples.

Organizations have been deemed “too big to fail” and were bailed out, but smaller businesses were allowed to flounder. It was claimed this was necessary to prevent a bigger disaster, but it bends the rule of law. Large corporations really don't mind government regulations. They increase the barriers to entry in markets. Every government regulation pretty much serves to protect incumbents and discourage newcomers. Sounds like every other part of politics doesn't it?

And the War on Small Business is not the only Rule of Law problem apparent lately. When 50% of the people don't pay income taxes, and a large number of those get a refund that's also an apparent injustice. Taxes and payouts should be separate systems, not a complicated mishmash of exceptions that make some people get money back when they don't pay anything in the first place. Tea Party activists can see the writing on the wall: this disparity means that most of them will end up paying for something that other people will use! Once again, they are being proactive.

And then there's health care. The bill recently passed “taxes” people if they don't buy health care insurance! That's a fine in tax clothing. How can it be fair? Sure, you have to have liability insurance if you drive your car on the public street, but the comparable insurance is comprehensive insurance, not liability. Even then, if you have a million dollars in the bank, that's an allowable exception to buying liability insurance anyway.

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Politics” Tuesday, Apr 20 2010 06:19 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks


Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Business, Technology” Tuesday, Mar 16 2010 07:54 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

iPad Launch Only the Beginning

There is a point people have missed in the Apple iPad rollout, and I wonder if Apple missed it too.

A lot of people familiar with the apps and interface of this new device have iPhones. The “killer app” therefore should leverage this. Pair them with bluetooth. Allow the big pad to use the iPhone's camera and phone for video conferencing or other conversations. Show caller id on the big pad when your phone is in your pocket. Make the iPhone into a communications hub and the pad the presentation hub.

I didn't see anything about Nike+ in this, but there's another sensor network that could feed data into the iPad. Microsoft and others are worried about Media PCs, but this thing, done right, is a really slick Media Nub. Far better than any other netbook or tablet I've seen to date.

Another thing that is missing is iPhone v4. Will it be nano-sized and all the display work goes to another device? Will it complement the iPad in some other gotta-have-it way? Are a series of bluetooth sensors going to come out? People are so quick to dismiss a single product, but what Apple excels at is integration and user experience.

There are many other Apple products. How will this iPad interact with Apple TVs it finds on your WiFi network when it sends out its BonJour requests? How will it interact with the rumored Apple product that will be integrated into TVs, cars, and the like? What will happen with data visualization masters make apps for it? With a 1024x768 screen it's pretty limited, but that IPS screen has wonderful viewing angles and there's a possibility of bigger pads, and higher resolutions. Old acceptable printed pages had 300 dots per inch... I'd like to see 200 in an iPad. 1080p displays at 200ppi would be 9.6 in x 5.4 in. Sure, that would eat a lot of power, but a lot of strides have been made already.

Finally, I was disappointed with the book experience. Since Apple has a product they are unlikely to let other book products be made. They didn't even say what format their own book app will use. Will I be able to generate good looking content for the iPad with LaTeX? With Word?

The killer book experience I want something like the iPad to solve is my own ability to flag/highlight passages and write notes in the margin. I want to see what other people's notes are. I want links to related content. Some books live on their own but other books live in a context of other publications.

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Technology” Thursday, Jan 28 2010 05:26 PM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

Tax Man

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Politics” Sunday, Jan 24 2010 07:04 PM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

Sea Change?

With Brown winning the election for the Senate in Massachusetts perhaps Obama will divert from his current path of hyperpartisanship—is that the change you had hoped for?—and return to his promised bipartisanship… In fact, this particular loss of the 60th vote may save Congress and the presidency for the Democrats if they can change the tone of the debate before November.

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Politics” Tuesday, Jan 19 2010 08:37 PM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

The Spending Is Far Worse For the Economy Than the Deficit

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Politics” Tuesday, Dec 15 2009 06:53 PM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

Are You Unemployed?

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Politics” Friday, Dec 4 2009 07:42 PM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

Requiring Sun Java for No Reason

As we near the completion of Oracle's acquisition of Sun, I've been noticing applications that require Sun's particular implementation of Java despite the fact that I'm using a compliant Java from a different vendor (IBM). I found a bug in jruby which required NetBeans and I even hit a firmware update tool for a printer that would only use Sun's Java!

Kinda defeats the purpose of Java's openness by having apps rely on particular flavors of it, doesn't it?

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Technology” Sunday, Nov 29 2009 10:35 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks


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