Archive for February 2006

Technology, Community and the Amish

14 February 2006 | 0

If we decided that community came first, how would we use our tools differently?

I was surfing around, when I remembered something I once heard… The Amish use cellphones. Is that true? Did I dream that up? Naturally, I decided to consult Wikipedia on the matter. At the bottom of the article was a link to a Wired article from January 1999 about the adoption of technology in Amish society. I won’t go into all the details, since you can easily read it yourself, but I must say, even as the tech-friendly, internet-loving guy I am, I think they actually have some really good ideas. There is a deliberation that goes into the Amish exploration of technology that often doesn’t happen here. In Amish society, there is so much weight given to long-term effects — as the article mentions, they’re not necessarily trying to stop the halt of technology, just “slow it down”.

Read the full article on Wired.


13 February 2006 | 0

Interesting… perhaps…

Johari Window


10 February 2006 | 0

There may be some freakiness for a few days… hang in there.

Oh, and if you haven’t already, redirect your feedreader to

Dear Blogger

10 February 2006 | 0

I’m sorry to have to leave you this note, but, as I’m sure you’re already aware, things are done between us. You’ve been a good friend, a confidante even, but I’ve found someone else. Someone closer to my heart, someone more in line with my own beliefs and ideals. You’re beautiful, and maybe, one day, we’ll see each other again. But for now, this is something I have to do. Good luck, Blogger. I’m sure you’ll find another.

Shi down, lots to go

9 February 2006 | 1

I’ve finished my first ten (shi) lessons in Mandarin. I’ve been using Pimsleur Mandarin Chinese I, and I have to say, this is perhaps the best method of language learning I’ve used: rip ‘em to MP3, load them up on my iPod, and away I go. Since I always have my iPod with me, it’s super convenient. Plus, I can have the whole series, rather than having to carry around like 30 CDs. And, the series itself is really well done, and I find I’m retaining most of the information. Very well structured.

So far, I can say really basic things (which, interestingly enough, sound like pick-up lines):

  • Would you like to go to the hotel with me?
  • I would like to have something to drink with you later.
  • Is 9 o’clock okay?
  • You speak English very well.
  • Etc…

The other two things that are very, very helpful are a couple of podcasts: SBS Radio Mandarin and ChinesePod. I have no idea what they’re saying most of the time on SBS, but every so often I pick up a word or two. Still, it’s good to hear the sounds, and it’s a good listening exerciese.

See more progress on: learn Mandarin

Internet Zen: Humans beat AI every time

9 February 2006 | 0

So Dylan writes in to tell me that this post which mentions this site was not a moment of zen from Google, but rather a link on his own home page. So, rather than thanking Google, allow me to give credit where credit is due…

Thanks, Dylan!

The Power of the Internet: Kiva

9 February 2006 | 0

I mentioned Kiva in a previous post, but about the time I found out about it, they had already fulfilled all their loan needs for their available businesses. Well, they’ve partnered with similar agencies in other parts of the world, and they have new businesses on their site that need your help. If you have the means to send a microloan ($25) to one of these businesses, do it. This is what the internet is all about — bringing people together to help one another.

A Hug, for Valentines

3 February 2006 | 0

So, Cafe Press is having an Anti-Valentine’s Day competition: whoever gets the most sales from Anti-Valentine’s merchandise, gets an iPod. And, since a few of my friends really dug this design and wanted to see it as a shirt, here it is:

Scoop them up for $20 a shirt, tell your friends to do the same, get some of my original illustration, and help me get a new iPod! Everyone is a winner (even if you’re bitter and alone this 14th).

Ruby Tuesdays

2 February 2006 | 0

Yes, I’m a fricken geek. We already know this. For fun and pleasure I enjoy talking to computers and trying to convince them to do things. Lately I’ve been looking into Ruby, a very clean programming language that’s getting a lot of hype in the web dev community for it’s “killer app”, Ruby on Rails. Since Tanya has been doing a lot of yelling at me lately, trying to prompt me to get out of the house and interact with people more, I decided to go to the local Ruby Users Group meeting last Tuesday.

I have to say, I was quite surprised at the number of people there. There were probably close to twenty people, but I guess part of that is due to the good PR Ruby has been getting. About half of the people were really new to Ruby, some of them hadn’t even installed it yet. The other half seemed to consist of Java developers, and system and database admins.

There were two lectures/presentations. The first one was on JRuby, an implementation of Ruby in Java (similar to Jython, a project I was following for a while and even did a logo for). The second was about Watir, the Web Application Testing In Ruby framework. Very, very cool, I must say. Unfortunately, since it only currently works with IE on Windows, it doesn’t help me much. But, if you’re a Windows monkey and you work on web sites, this is definitely something to look into.

So, needless to say, I think I’ll try to hit the next one, the last Tuesday of February. They’re going to be building a site for a non-profit in the Twin Cities, which is really awesome… maybe I’ll try to contribute. I’m also thinking about making a presentation of my own about building Jabber bots with Ruby. What better way to learn something than force yourself to give a presentation on it. :)

UPDATE: The new Ruby Users of Minnesota site is at Ruby.MN