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UI Phone Home

Aza recently posted about the problem with the home button on many modern touch devices. I empathize with the problem he mentions as I oftentimes find myself nervously hitting the home button when trying to get to the root of my current mental context (which is the application).

However, I can’t say I agree with his proposed solution (and it seems many of the commenters on his post have the same issue with it that I do). The camera model, for me at least, doesn’t really work because I actually find the autofocus button on modern camera’s to be mentally taxing. I seem to find myself hovering on the press of the button, hoping I don’t accidentally press too hard and spend more thought in the actual action of dealing with the machine rather than focused on the shot I’m using the machine to capture.

The other aspect I dislike about this model is that it requires a hardware change for something I think can be a software change.

There seem to be 2 issues that are mentioned in his post:

1. users accidentally pressing home to jump to the application home
2. an easier way navigate backwards and forward in our navigation timeline

Rather than overloading the Home button (which is already used for multiple purposes, such as going to the home screen of the phone, jumping to spotlight, …

Why’s the site so stale?

Hey all, this is one of those protypical posts where a blog author who hasn’t blogged in a long time apologizes profusely, talks about how busy he is, and then promises more activity.
:)
I do have a new site design being worked on, with a bit better layout. Let’s just say that since my last blog post, I’ve been to about 5 different countries, and my work with Liferay has been going better than ever. I currently blog over on the company blog, but I will be doing more stuff here.
What about artwork? Well, it seems I don’t get to create as much as I used to. My passions have kind of evolved into UI design and User Experience, Javascript, and more front end stuff.
Does that mean that there won’t be more artwork coming? Nope, I still draw, and I plan to scan it in and post it. I also plan on actually making time to create more artwork.

So yeah, I’ll keep it short, but come say hi over at the Liferay blog: http://liferay.com/web/ncavanaugh/blog

Why Atheism is Stupid, Redux

Okay, so I’ve noticed quite a few responses as of late regarding my original “Why atheism is stupid” post from almost 2 years ago, and since I originally posted it, I’ve come to some realizations, did more studying, and in general revisited my original thesis.

First, let me just say: I originally posted that entry in direct response to a lot of antagonism coming towards religious people from the atheist crowd. Places like Digg, or really any online community populated by techy folks, are rather hostile to anyone who professes any sort of belief in anything supernatural.
The post wasn’t meant to indicate that anyone who is an atheist is stupid. More or less that I found the belief stupid.
I think I was a bit angrier back then, and I reacted negatively towards the general hostility towards my faith.

But looking back, my argument was pretty flawed, and a few of the commenters caught wind of it before I did. While the principle is *technically* true, it’s pretty tautological.
To say that there is no definitive proof against the supernatural doesn’t prove it either. Also, the side making the positive assertion always bears the burden of proof.
It doesn’t fall on atheists to prove that God doesn’t exist. However, I think the part I struggle with, and the part I reacted to in the other post is that so …

Microsoft’s Salvation

Well, the title is a tad bit hyperbolic, but here are two ways that I think Microsoft could easily garner some really good will, and perhaps generate some true love for it again.

If done, either of these would make Internet Explorer the darling of web developers and designers out there.
The first way is probably unlikely, but I would give another toe to see it happen:

1. Swap the rendering engine with Gecko
Long term, this makes the most sense for Microsoft. They could very seriously profit from the open source communities hard work if they would drop the Trident rendering engine currently in IE. Yes it would cause unholy hell for numerous websites, BUT it needs to be done.
Why would MS do this if IE just becomes synonymous with Firefox? Because Microsoft understands the platform better than anyone. They could create extensions and hooks from the app itself that would be incredibly powerful. They could build the browser on the same foundation, but the unique features and user experience it offers, not to mention the fact that it would come bundled with every computer an edge.

Trust me, Trident is not what’s keeping people hooked on IE.
But by doing this, they would save countless, unpaid man hours that web devs waste now trying to get things to work across all browsers. No offense to the webkit …

Wealth is not theft

After reading Ryan’s response, I think the disagreement goes deeper than just between socialism and capitalism, but on economic principles, and even applied rational thought.

As such, I am going to be an anal jerkwad, and pick through his response, both for his edification, as well as my own (and anyone who is reading this). I would love some feedback though, especially if any of my thoughts are illogical.

Point 1: "Economic wealth is theft"
I have to strongly disagree, and I can prove why this is wrong, both from a point of view from Biblical morality, as well as general common morality.
He did not say "some economic wealth is theft", which is surely is. He implied that all economic wealth is theft.
However, let’s look at the definition of theft:
Theft (noun) – The crime of taking someone else’s property without consent.

Does all wealth involve taking someone else’s property without consent? No it does not.
I’ll use Expanse as an example here. I created a piece of software that others have found value in. Every single customer willingly and eagerly offered to me their hard earned money in exchange for the product.
They willingly gave their property.
If 5 million people were to each willingly offer me their property in exchange for the software I created, I have not stolen anything, and I now have …

A thought

Even though Ryan hasn’t written back yet, I was thinking over my own post, and it occurs to me that I made a few statements that seem kind of contradictory, and I’d like to clarify those.

The apparently contradictory statements is like this:
It appears that I am against socialism because of the Golden rule, and yet morally okay with imprisonment and even torture in rare circumstances, even though those both violate that rule.

The argument I can anticipate goes something like:
"Since people being able to eat trumps the moral rule of do not steal, it should be okay for socialism to take the money from individuals, and use it to fulfill a higher moral good."

Here is the difference, and this is where the clarification comes:

I believe that moral exceptions are unique, and usually isolated instances.
For instance, stealing food when your family is starving to death, I think in that instance, the stealing would be justified.

But, I don’t think you can make a system of governmental (or patriarchal, etc) rule around a moral exception, nor do I think you can make a system of rule based around a violation of the rule.

It would be akin to legalizing perjury to save someone from imprisonment.

Sorry, I am used to battling myself this way :)

A response

Okay, so Ryan posted his reasons for not agreeing with Bush, and since I think we’re both arguing from the same foundation (that of a Judeo-Christian morality), I figured I could address his issues, and maybe get a good discussion out of this, as well as some clarity.

For those who still contend that morality has no place in politics, the questions still stand.

But let’s get to it:

1. "Bush gives tax breaks to the wealthy and the corporate while increasing taxes and cutting programs for the poor and the weak."

This one SOUNDS like a good argument, but when you critically examine it, I feel that it comes up short.

Right now, ~95% of the current tax revenue comes from the top 2% of earners in the country. That means that any even handed and fair tax break will give millions more to them than to others.

Let’s just do the simple math:

Bob RichieFancyPants is making 2 million dollars a year, is married, and has no children. Let’s say, for the sake of the discussion, that his current tax liability is around 50%. That means he owes one million dollars in taxes every year.

Joseph HoboHasNoPants earns $30,000 dollars a year, and for the sake of discussion, say that his tax liability is 25%, which means that he owes $7,500 dollars.

So let’s say that …

5 questions

I am asking this not to start some sort of stupid argument, but to truly understand:

Why exactly do most liberal or left-leaning Democrats have a problem with what Bush does on a day to day basis?

What I mean is, why is there so much invective and hate towards the guy?

According to them it’s because of the war in Iraq, the civil liberties at home, etc. But even if all the bad stuff they say about him is true, which I only concede for the sake of this discussion, why do they care?

They’re the same group of people who do not want any morality legislated, and the law is not based upon anything other than the decrees of elected individuals.

So, here is my list of questions, and I truly ask this to try and understand:

  1. If morality can’t be legislated, and morality shouldn’t have a place in politics, why do Democrats harbor animosity towards Bush? (Ostensibly it’s for the war, but if morality has no place in politics, the war’s morality [including any war-crimes/deaths/etc] has no place in the discussion. Then if that all has no place, why get angry with someone over a simple policy decision?)
  2. If you’re angry because American soldiers are dying, why are you angry? In the eyes of the federal government, all human beings are nothing but movable meat, and since

The ternary

If you’ve been doing PHP or Javascript programming, and you’ve never used the ternary operator then you’re in for a treat.

But if you have used it before, I think I have a tip that will help when using it.

Here it is:

var x = (expression) ? result1 : result2;

Now, what does that say?

Basically, it’s for when you’re assigning variables, you can evaluate an expression, and depending on the result, it will give you multiple results.

It’s basically equivalent to this:

var x;
if (expression) {
    x = result1;
} else {
    x = result2;
}

So obviously, you can see the benefit of doing it all on one line.

Now, however, many people’s complaint is that it leads to highly unreadable code. However, it’s still really cool. So what I’ve done is try to come up with a way that combines legibility with code convenience.

Basically, here it is:

var x = (expression)
            ? result1
            : result2;
       
So, you see by putting the ? and the : on the same alignment with the expression, you have a much more legible expression, without the extra code.

As a side note, you can also do multiple expressions, though, in general, if you start getting that crazy, an if/else/if or a switch are both easier to maintain …

Karma

The problem with the idea of Karma, in my humble opinion, is this:

Supposedly, you’re on this cyclical journey, spiraling ever closer to the nebulous and dilutive rejoining of spirit to "Eternal force", and you’re successive lives depend upon the actions that you’ve done in your current life.

However, here’s the problem:
Joe is a jerk in his current life. He takes advantage of people, cares only for himself, and is an all around a-hole.
So in his next life, he comes back as a dog.
So, his new owners, if they’re good people, treat him well, teach him tricks, feed him, and provide a home of love.
But for the karmic scales to truly balance out, Joe needs to get reimbursed for his sins, and getting belly rubs and potty training doesn’t do it.
So, if the new owners beat JoeDog, he get’s a taste of cosmic justice. But now his new owners will come back as dogs too, because beating dogs is bad.

So, by being good to him, they enable him to be further from true enlightenment, but by giving him his comeuppence, they propel themselves further away from enlightenment.

Yes, a tad bit strawman, but the point is the same, and that is, there is a bit of a flaw in the karmic system.…