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September 30, 2005

Do you Improvise? This is what you Should be reading.

Posted by Chuck Charbeneau at 08:53 AM | Comments (0)

September 29, 2005

Need to read

I'm a huge Neal Gaiman fan, and his newest book:

Anansi Boys: A Novel
Amazon Price: $26.95/ $17.79
ISBN/ASIN: 006051518X

is up to bat as soon as I finish

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell: A Novel
Amazon Price: $27.95/ $18.45
ISBN/ASIN: 1582344167

which is REALLY REALLY long. I agree with others that have suggested that it reflects the literary style of the time period in which it was set. This is the first Fantasy novel that I have ever read that uses footnotes (adnauseum) for God's sake. It's an interesting story written as a biography that gives an old stodgey slant to a Potter-esque reality.

Finally, on the technical side, there are two books that are on my radar. The first,

The Best Software Writing I: Selected and Introduced by Joel Spolsky
Amazon Price: $24.99/ $16.49
ISBN/ASIN: 1590595009

is edited by a guy that I've been reading for quite some time (Joel Spolsky fom Joel on Software). And the second,

The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology
Amazon Price: $29.95/ $19.77
ISBN/ASIN: 0670033847

talks about my favorite topic, The Singularity

Posted by Chuck Charbeneau at 02:08 PM | Comments (0)

Feinstein and Entertainment Industry, PLEASE, get a clue

It looks like Senator Feinstein is running off at the mouth again, trying to legislate file sharing yet again.  I'm just trying to figure out when the light will go on and she will tell her contributing corporations that maybe they should get a clue and evolve their distribution model instead of spending all their time and energy trying to prosecute something out of existence that has the presence of mind to change faster than lawyers can file.

Of course that would mean that she wouldn't get any more soft money, so I'm just going to assume that the bulb will stay dim infinitely by choice.

Here are some ideas for free:

Problem: You claim that you are losing money on TV shows that are being distributed sans commercials.

Solution: Why don't you just create a model wherein you distribute the shows via torrent your selves, but do so with commercials in it?  Heck, because there are specific demographics of active torrent sharing users for each show, with a little bit of market research, you could even put DIFFERENT and TARGETED commercials in the content that would have least impact on the experience, but still allow for advertisement revenue.

Problem:  But what about those cable shows that people are sharing that are for subscribers only?

Solution:  I'm not sure of a clear distribution model, other than to say, personally, I don't want to watch HBO.  I want to watch Deadwood, Carnival and Six Feet Under.  That's the only content I'm interested in, and it looks to me that others share this view.  I'm not interested in paying a significant sum just to see three shows, so filesharing becomes an instant solution. Movies are so readily available via Ondemand Services and rental environments like netflix that knowing that Blade is on HBO at three in the afternoon is so irrelevant to me, I don't know why it is still an issue.  How about an OnDemand service for just your created content (original programming, I think you call it)?  That way, I can still pay you for the content that I'm interested in (which I would gladly do), but I don't have to

  1. Pay stupid money for content I have no interest in..
  2. Be at home at a specific time to watch it.

I seriously want to be able to create a content stream of just the shows that I want to watch.  I have such a narrow bandwidth of time that I can dedicate to entertainment, that I don't want to have to sift through pile of crap just to be entertained.  I know what I like, let me see it.  Too much of the content that I'm interested in is on at the same time on the same day.  I think that this is awesome in that the producers are finally getting their heads out of their collective asses long enough to realize that some of us actually like dramatic, character driven shows that aren't just about the joke or blowing shit up.  That you can have characters that have wants and history and desires, that can be funny, inciteful and violent, etc.

Every tool that you are rallying against is a clue that entertainment and it's distribution is changing.  All of the new tools out there are designed to allow me to watch MY personalized feed.  TiVo, for instance...duh!

Why don't you start looking for your next chance for metamorphosis instead of crying because we (yeah, us, you know? Your CUSTOMERS!!!) are evolving?  Just ask Northwest and the other HUGE airlines what happens when you don't evolve your distribution and business model.  If you can't be as fluid as the market you are trying to be comeptitive in, it's time to retire.  Go fishing, buy a small island, see Europe, do something, but either lead the charge of innovation or follow us to innovation, but for God's sake, get the hell out of our way.

So, Dianne, now I have to go watch all the shows I missed last night while I worked 15 hours to keep our economy going.  If you would stop taking money you didn't deserve, spending money WE didn't have and interfering in subjects you obviously don't understand long to actually try to understand how Moore's Law works and relates to business on all levels, I might take you seriously.

While I agree that there is a lot of illegal activity going on, maybe we can work together to implement a solution that works, rather than wasting time, money and effort on legislating laws that have no other effect than to make special interest groups happy.  What do you think?  Go talk to the people who are "consulting" to you on this subject and ask them if they would rather make money around this issue than spend money trying to stop it.  Let us know what they think, we'd (the technology people they are so angry at) would love to help them figure it out.  Some of us even get it well enough to explain it in little words if necessary.


Posted by Chuck Charbeneau at 10:39 AM | Comments (0)

September 26, 2005

Flying on Thursday, and then again on Sunday

I flew home on Thursday (obviously) and I have to say, the industry continuously works to find new and exciting ways to screw with us travelers. 
On this occasion, NWA decided to not only cancel my flight (some twenty minutes after I had already checked in), but they were also kind enough to rebook me on a 'partner' airline.  The flight was two hours later and, because I "Hadn't traveled yet that day" I was also subject to search by TSA's finest; which is United's policy for some odd reason.  Seriously...I was transfered to you from a partner and I'm standing in front of you in the terminal.  I had to go through all the same screening, checking, picking and poking already once today.  It wasn't like I climbed the fence, ran across the tarmac, infiltrated through a employees entrance using my disguise kit and secret decode ring, just so I could stand around and wait for a flight from O'Hare to freaking Detroit.  If this is how my money is being spent, I want a refund.
Just because you have stupid, redundant and sometimes conflicting rules, does not mean you have security.
Posted by Chuck Charbeneau at 03:11 PM | Comments (0)

September 18, 2005


That of which we shall not speak

Services held daily.

Posted by Chuck Charbeneau at 02:34 PM | Comments (0)

September 14, 2005

Recall the President

"New rule: American must recall the president. That's what this country needs – a good old-fashioned, California-style recall election, complete with Gary Coleman, porno actresses, and action film stars. And just like Schwarzenegger's predecessor here in California, George Bush is now so unpopular, he must now defend his job against…Russell Crowe, because at this point I want a leader who will throw a phone at somebody. In fact, let's have only phone throwers. Naomi Campbell can be the vice president.

"Now I kid, but seriously, Mr. President, this job can't be fun for you anymore. There's no more money to spend; you used up all of that. You can't start another war because you also used up the army. And now, darn the luck, the rest of your term has become the Bush family nightmare: helping poor people. Yeah, listen to your mom, the cupboard's bare, the credit card's maxed out, and no one's speaking to you. Mission accomplished.

"Now it's time to do what you've always done best: lose interest and walk away. Like you did with your military service. And the oil company. And the baseball team. It's time to move on and try the next fantasy job. How about cowboy or spaceman? Now, I know what you're saying, you're saying that there are so many other things that you as president could involve yourself in. Please don't. I know, there a lot left to do. There's a war with Venezuela, and eliminating the sales tax of yachts, turning the space program over to the church and Social Security to Fannie Mae, giving embryos the vote.

"But sir, none of that is going to happen now. Why? Because you govern like Billy Joel drives. You've performed so poor, I'm surprised you haven't given yourself a medal. You're a catastrophe that walks like a man. Herbert Hoover was a shitty president, but even he never conceded an entire metropolis to rising water and snakes. On your watch, we've lost almost all of our allies, the surplus, four airliners, two trade centers, a piece of the Pentagon, and the city of New Orleans. Maybe you're just not lucky. I'm not saying you don't love this country, I'm just wondering how much worse it could be if you were on the other side. So yes, God does speak to you, and what he's saying is, 'Take a hint.'"

-Bill Maher, HBO's "Real Time With Bill Maher," Sept. 9, 2005

Posted by Chuck Charbeneau at 04:54 PM | Comments (0)

Michael Brown

Michael Brown, the head of FEMA, has been relieved of his command. He has been asked to return to Washington immediately. He is expected to arrive in about a week."

– Bill Maher

Posted by Chuck Charbeneau at 04:43 PM | Comments (0)

Let no man write my epitaph

Let no man write my epitaph; for as no man who knows my motives dare now vindicate them, let not prejudice or ignorance asperse them. Let them rest in obscurity and peace! Let my memory be left in oblivion, my tomb remain uninscribed, until other times and other men can do justice to my character.

--Robert Emmet,* *September 29, 1803

Posted by Chuck Charbeneau at 04:19 PM | Comments (0)

September 08, 2005

Bruce Schneier

Posted by Chuck Charbeneau at 11:11 AM | Comments (0)

September 07, 2005


The FCC, in an emergency response to Katrina snatched 1-800-RED-CROSS from the company, who were demanding six digits to give it over.

Yes, an ingenius business model, making sure to play on the suffering of others and demanding large amounts of money from a non-profit. Smashingly grand.

I wrote this in a bit of a hurry, and didn't really follow-up with it after I had done a bit of further reading, and it came back around to bite me.

Apparently SOMEONE in the blogverse is reading this as David Sprouse made his way here to state his case.

I'm sorry if I enraged him. Honestly, if you knew me, you would know that I don't like governmental meddling in any business (personal or private) if it isn't hurting others. Telling restaurants that they HAVE to be nonsmoking, helmet laws, seat belt laws, etc. Of course, each one of those has issues involved with them (most involving insurance companies, but that's another rant).

On the other hand, I also have issue with campers, and that is my impression of what you are doing. Yes, you said that you were diverting calls, and I even read that in one of the articles. And if you weren't offering to sell it to them, fine. I'm interested to know what the Red Cross offered you for the number in the past that you declined, or did they just go to the courts (which is their right). If they went to the court, frankly, the precedent would have been in their favor.

This was a special case, and they did end run the court, but the fact that they had to end run....If you were really Johnny on the spot to help, why didn't you just offer it to them and take it as a donation cost and write it off?

I guess I don't know all the facts, we seldom do. But I wasn't slandering you. If anyone did, it was the news source that wrote the story, I only linked it. I also commented on the "facts" as they were presented.

And this is what America has always been (Re: Your Question), one run by an overpowerful governemnt, businesses that shirk social responsiblity in pursuit of political gain, both putting the private sector in a position of no control.

Money isn't the root of Evil, David, it's the tool of the powerful and the people. Just remember, every tool is a weapon if you hold it right. I'll continue to read about 800Ideas and continue to shape my opinion and spend MY money accordingly.

For further reading try


Posted by Chuck Charbeneau at 09:38 AM | Comments (0)

September 06, 2005

No more rhetoric, only help

Instead of globetrotting as is my norm during the week, I was home from work today waiting for more information (the information, it turns out, is that it's 9:20pm on tuesday and I'm writing this from the airport, but that's another blog entry). While I was home today I left the TV on Katrina coverage while I was answering email, reading tech documents on this new project, etc. Out of all the MSNBC, CNN, etc, the most striking coverage that I saw was on the NBC morning show (name?) and on Oprah (she did say something about refugees which I semi-disagreed with, but other than that...). I was right there with her in her anger and disillusionment over the whole response to the situation. I think the reason being is that they were showing the human interest side of the story.

There was a woman in the morning show that was passionate about being able to stay in her home and about being okay with the amount of supplies that they have, etc, but (without knowing what parish she was in) I would say that she needs a quick education on what's in the water as more fecal contaminants and the effluent from dead, rupturing bodies seep into the water table, not to mention the report of the burning oil refinery and the effects of Benzene on her and her kids both short and long term. Be that as it may...

Perception is reality, and if the people say that they saw things, then they did. And for one person or another to discount it is futile, because in situations like this, there is nothing you could do to change people's minds about what they saw. But I digress...

I'm a member of a few communities on the web. I follow the mailing list of an author that I'm enjoying recently, as well as an international list about my favorite martial art. On these two lists specifically there has been some very good content regarding Katrina, her aftermath and what people in the effected zone are seeing.Instead of going through another long take on it, I'll excerpt some of their content. It speaks volumes.

From the Jim Butcher mailing list:

I am from Northeast Louisiana and just wanted to let you all know that
if you are looking for somewhere to send relief, this is it. We have a
lot of the refugees from Hurricane Katrina moving into our area.
Please, if this is not the correct place to bring this up, forgive
me. But it has nothing to do with politics, race, religion, or any
other taboo subject, at least, I hope not.

Everywhere is the place to bring it up.

From the Aikido-L Mailing list:

I've been working at the Red Cross for three days now trying to help people get situated in the aftermath of Katrina. If you are going to help, here are some facts you might like to know:

We expect to have possibly 200,000 refugees in the Houston area for 4 to six months, and maybe longer. It is estimated that it will take 9 weeks or more to pump out the City of New Orleans after the levee is fixed.

We are on the verge of a public health problem imported into Houston. Your donations are welcome, but don't come here unless you are medical personnel.

Food is being coordinated through The Houston Food Bank, 3811 Eastex Freeway, Houston, TX 77026.

Clothing, linens, and toiletries are being coordinated through the Salvation Army. Donate to your local SA specifically for hurricane relief.

Check with your local YMCA to donate prepaid gas cards, grocery cards and whatever other services they help with.

To help people locate relatives and so forth, there are a number of sites, such as the one at wikipedia, but these are ad hoc efforts (greatly
welcomed!) and an overall effort is being coordinated by FEMA. The first place to go is probably the Louisiana State Police. They are maintaining a list.

Donate to the specific relief effort by calling 1-800-HELP NOW, or through our site at As of last night the HRC was still focused on providing food, clothing, shelter and medical services, and at this time I don't believe we've started providing client services like vouchers, repatriation and transportation yet.

The specific needs change on a minute-to-minute basis, so I've only included what I believe is going to be fairly constant over the next couple of days.
Medical personnel who can travel to Houston should contact their local Red Cross or the Public Health Service.

This is going to be a long-term problem although the urgency should diminish within a couple of weeks. I hope there is still adequate support after the immediate romance wears off and the news media move on to something else.

Praying might help..

I also enjoyed Declan McCullagh's insite and article into the web response to Katrina. A motivated few can overcome a well intentioned many. Too, I enjoyed the coverage of John travolta flying up in his own plane (and he flies the biggun's, you know) dropping off a few tons of supplies and flying out, without so much as a how's yer day to the press. One more man doing what he can and not asking for recognition or praise.

(To do what you can, you can donate here, here or even here - which goes to the Red Cross)

I sat on my couch and cried today. Cried for the pain that our fellow Americans have endured (and will aave to continue to endure), cried at the lack of any kind of true responsbility being taken other than to say the response was not enough and cried at my frustration of again not being able to do anything other than click a link and give money. I'm a man of action - that is, I like to DO things, not watch while others do it for me. But I'm untrained and not really needed, so I do what I can.

Special thanks to all of the volunteers, servicemen and women, state and local police forces et al. for standing the lines and putting themselves into significant harms way to try and do what they can to save lives and ease the sufering of others.

Posted by Chuck Charbeneau at 09:32 PM | Comments (0)

September 04, 2005

Bald Eagle

I was outside in my dad's back yard (in Clinton Twp, MI) and overhead flies a Blad Eagle. Now, as the national bird and icon, one might think..."So what?" But seriously, the last time I saw a bald eagle in Michigan it was in the UP.

Pretty Amazing. Of course, by the time my dad got back with his camera it had soared high and away.

Posted by Chuck Charbeneau at 04:41 PM | Comments (0)

September 03, 2005

Chief Justice Rhenquist

has died

Posted by Chuck Charbeneau at 10:38 PM | Comments (0)

September 01, 2005


9/11 was a terrible event. It rocked our nation. The outpouring of support and the unification of our country was amazing.

What the hell happened to us?

How can FEMA think that by missing New Orleans by a few miles to the East that there still wouldn't be problems? There's a big ass lake to the north, and where the winds would have been off the ocean if Katrina had hit on one side, those same exact winds would be off of said big ass lake (tm) if it had hit on the east side.

Whether or not they had expected it, I'm amazed that someone didn't put it out there as a 'what if'. Seriously, someone put me on staff and I'll look at your scenarios and point out all the stupid obvious shit that you apparently continue to miss. I saw the picture, and the map and saw that it would be a problem, I also mentioned to a couple of people "Hey, the people down there don't bury their dead, they entomb (enterr?) them. That's going to be a problem." And it wasn't until day two of the 'crisis' that anyone mentioned that either. I also made a small comment to some friends over lunch Monday that most of the folk in New Orleans weren't in a situation where they could afford to get out of the city. A couple of others have mentioned that as well in their blogs or articles, and I'll link them later.

Heard on CNN

"You can hear behind me the helicopters coming in bringing high level officials..." how about the ones bringing in food and water, medical and rescue supplies, national guard and peace officials? Oh, yes, well, no one can answer that.

What do you mean you don't know where these supplies are? "It was a fast storm with very little warning..." Huh?!? People had a week to mobilize and get the hell out of dodge - the governor was making calls for people to plan on leaving as soon as it started crossing Florida. If people had that much time to leave, wasn't there that much time to put plans in place, mobilze the inactive guard units, withdraw them to a relatively safe place and begin moving stockpiles? The general in charge openly admitted that they had failed to plan for the worst case scenario. What?!? Um, shouldn't you be planning on the worst case and hoping for the best instead of planning for the best and hoping to avoid the worst? What kind of military training are we giving these guys nowadays. Here are some quotes I'd like to pass on to these guys:

  • "The best laid plans never survive the first encounter with the enemy, so plan for the worst."
  • "There is always one more thing to do, so start doing them early."

The director of FEMA said on TV last night that they had proposed this situation two years ago, practiced it last year and were putting it into action this year...well, if this is an example of a 'successful' disaster exercise, people, we're screwed. It really is a fend for yourself situation and there isn't any need for FEMA or any of the other organizations that are in place that are supposed to help. Damn it, their lack of preparation and execution is pitiful and it's depressing to think that this is the best that we can do. If your hope in the our country isn't let Jack Schaffer. Race and Class. We, the media are ignoring the fac thta alomst all of the vicitims in LA are Black and Poor. Amen My brother. Many didn't or COULDN'T follow the evac orders. Where do they go, how do they go? What

--What role do race and class play in the Gulf Crisis?

The good news is that the Congress and Senate are coming off of their vacation early to deal with the issue. *Whew* I need to find the quotes of the speaker of the house, I didn't think I could agree with this guy, but I just might in this case. He said something to the effect that it doesn't really make much sense to rebuild the city.

My take: A city that is on average seven feet below sea level, cities that are constantly destroyed by Hurricanes, cities that are on major fault lines and that shake to the ground on any frequent, don't freaking build shit there anymore. There are plenty of places in the US still untouched by natural disaster that are safe and available. That might be a good idea for the relocation planning people. let's spend some cash on settling people there instead of putting them back in houses that are going to flood again in within the next decade (the storms ARE getting worse, you know) and do something useful.

Anyone know the middle east stations for the LA, AL or MP nationl guard? It would sure be nice if they were back home guarding the nation, eh? Especially now that we need some help and some of our locations need some guarding.

things that I need to follow up on:
- How are the Tsunami struck areas faring X months later?
- How long did it take for help to get to the people to the point that living conditions were somewhat back to normal?
- How much of the relief money that we sent was used directly, and what organizations were best suited to use that money?

We need to see the people in LA being treated with compassion and respect. Most of the people in the area that are 'in control' don't necessarily have all (any?) of the answers, but compassion and respect will definitely go a long way to maintaining the peace. Also, figuring out a way to effectively communicate what is known to a large group of refugees might help. Restablishing enough electricity to use the monitors in the super dome (inside and out) might be a good start. Too, leaflet drops with schedules, maps and information would be useful. It's not like a little more litter would be a big deal at this point.

Posted by Chuck Charbeneau at 10:03 AM | Comments (0)