Monday, March 23, 2009

Cut Them Some Slack

Friedman: If you want to guarantee that America becomes a mediocre nation, then just keep vilifying every public figure struggling to find a way out of this crisis who stumbles once — like Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner or A.I.G.’s $1-a-year fill-in C.E.O., Ed Liddy — and you’ll ensure that no capable person enlists in government. I totally agree with this sentiment.

Bailout v. 3

Krugman: Even more important, however, is the way Mr. Obama is squandering his credibility. If this plan fails — as it almost surely will — it’s unlikely that he’ll be able to persuade Congress to come up with more funds to do what he should have done in the first place.

I heard Krugman on NPR today, and he made 3 points I totally agree with:
  • This is a re-hash of the Paulsen plan that was discarded months ago
  • It probably won't work at all, and if it does anything, it will be because the government is so heavily subsidizing the investment
  • The mindset behind this type of plan continues to be "the toxic assets have more value than the market is assigning to them"
  • We should quit calling them "toxic assets"

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

This Will Become A Major Problem

Last week, a juror in a big federal drug trial in Florida admitted to the judge that he had been doing research on the case on the Internet, directly violating the judge's instructions and centuries of legal rules. But when the judge questioned the rest of the jury, he got an even bigger shock.

Eight other jurors had been doing the same thing. The federal judge, William J. Zloch, had no choice but to declare a mistrial, wasting eight weeks of work by federal prosecutors and defense lawyers.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Idea for A Cleaner Way to Manage TSRs

It's ridiculous how Windows PCs suffer from the computer equivalent of COPD. Our home computer has reached the advanced stage, where it is still useable, but decidedly unpleasant. I will soon need to re-install the O/S.

One contributor to the degenerative "cruft" is all the stuff that wants to automatically load any time you boot up. This stuff can be divided into categories such as:
1. Enhanced drivers, like for printers.
2. Updaters--like Adobe, and various software. Those really seem like a waste.
3. Event handlers, like software for burning CDs.

It seems like Windows could have a unified model for registering these handlers. So for categories 1 and 3, the driver registers the events it wants to respond to. When those events occur, Windows either starts the utility, or gives the user a choice of selecting which utility to start and use. Similar to the way Windows responds when you insert a memory card with JPGs on it. For category 2, just set a frequency to run any given updater--there is absolutely no reason to have that updater sitting in memory at all times.

Advanced features
  • Let the user specify which things really should load all the time, for truly important utilities. Needless to say, the user can opt out of that setting with a simple un-check.

Car Alarms Are USELESS

I wonder if, in the entire history of car alarms, they have even once led to the prevention of a theft? They are such a gigantic nuisance, they should be banned. I don't understand why Lojack has not taken off.

Fwd: Verizon Friends and Family

Finally someone is challenging T-Mobile's Faves. I've been wondering what has taken so long. Although I think I heard that the minimum minutes for Verizon is 1400, whereas T-Mobile offers Faves at lower minutes levels.

The other mobile carriers have left T-Mobile to have this differentiator for a good 3 years or more. It let me knock $20 off my monthly bill, by going from 2000 minutes per month down to 1000--and we still only use a fraction of those most months. Since I work from home often, and spend most of my day on conference calls, this feature was decisive in my selection of T-Mobile. (Hint: Faves won't accept 800 numbers, so you will need to find out the local version of your conference number.)

Why Are There So Many Wheel Types for Cars?

I had to buy steel rims for my 2005 Ford Focus, and nobody local had them. It seems like it should be possible for there to be half a dozen standardized rim configurations that could accomodate 90% of passenger vehicles.

The variations in price were shocking. Tires Plus was $92, the Ford dealer an outrageous $175, and Discount Tire was the low bidder at $55. All for the same hunk of steel.