August 2006


After creating the page for the MP$ calculator, I decided to give a go at updating the Austin Storm Center to use some of the layout technology that I had used in the MP$ calc.

The main thing that gives both of the sites their unique look and feel is the <fieldset> and <legend> tags. I believe these were first introduced in HTML 4.0 so older browsers probably won't support them. I really need to get a look at them on an old browser. I wonder if I have a really old copy of Knoppix or something with an old firefox. Someone needs to make a site where you can view how your page works on different browsers and vesions.

I decided to go with some pretty progressive color schemes. That is to say I used a complementary color scheme. Things from opposite sides of the color wheel. Putting blues and orange/yellow next to each other. Very web 2.0 8)

While talking with a friend one day he said to me, "my car gets 6 miles per dollar." Wow! I though. That sucks. Then I realized what he had said. "My car gets 6 miles per dollar."

Now I understood. It was a new way of thinking about how much it costs to drive a car. Not really a big revelation. Most people would say what's the big deal. But the thought struck me so hard that I felt compelled to make a page where you can calculate miles per dollar.

I am not normally the kind of person who digs performance art. Perhaps it is because performance artists are always trying to make me think. I do enough of that on my own.

For some reason this one makde me laugh. Its a real life PacMan being chased through a college library by a ghost.  

Now that is art. I'm sure its some promo prank but it made me smile while I watched it. I think it was the way the pacman was screaming.

I have long believed that there is no such thing as innate talent. 

I instead believe that talent is something that is developed over time by practice. I just read an article on Scientific American called the "The Expert Mind." It covers many theories of how the mind works including "chunking" and "templates" which are ways to explain how an expert can store larger amounts of data temporarily by recognizing patterns.

The article also points out that practice alone will not increase ones ability. It points out that the practice must have constant challenges for the growth to occur. 

The big quote from the article is: "Teachers in sports, music, and other fields tend to believe that talent matters and that they know it when they see it. In fact, they appear to be confusing ability with precocity."

That is something I can agree with. I have always thought that I can acquire any skill even an artistic one by practice. I can also become talented by enough practice.

When I look at a new skill that I would like to acquire I evaluate it like this. I determine what amount of effort is required to reach different levels, then determine how much of my time I would like to spend to get to what level.

An example is painting. I have often thought that I would like to gain skill in painting but in my mind it would take too long. There are so many tiny skills that go into making someone a good painter that I would have to work for many years to achieve the results I desire. One of the greatest skills of painting is being able to determine what in reality is important. That is when you paint a wall do you paint every brick or just enough bricks to represent the wall.

I know many people really believe in talent even though there is not really any scientific evidence to support it. It may be correct. I think a comment I in the Slashdot discussion about this by Colin Smith sums it all up for the way I think: "Of course The idea that they just worked harder, or rather, better than you is uncomfortable. It means that you're just lazy, don't have the necessary drive or don't know how to train. it's much easier to believe that they are just innately better and it's not really your fault that you can't reach their level. "

Many people tell me that I have computer talent. I agree that I do; but it is only because I have been using computers on average 6 hours a day for over 20 years. I knew nothing at first. I read many books and worked on new and challenging things every day. 

There is an interesting piece from the NYT about men without jobs. I have to say after reading it, I admit many of my friends and I resemble those people profiled in the article. 

Its kinda spooky. I just figured since we are in Austin that's just the way it is. I had no idea we were just a statistic in a trend.

People ask me all the time about using linux to recover lost files on a crashed machine. My usual response is to tell them to learn linux now so that when your machine crashes you will no what to do. For some of the less disasterous crashes lifehacker.com has an article about recovering lost files using knoppix. It's a pretty decent article with lots of screen shots.

The other important thing is that the latest version of Knoppix V 5.0 is out as of  June 2 2006.

Not only is Knoppix the best bootable CD/DVD version of linux it is also great for running under vmware and qemu

I just read a usatoday.com opinion article about how the USDA is blocking a company from testing its cows for BSE. Now why would they do this? Remember if you have done nothing wrong you have nothing to hide.

I would be interested in knowing what their reasoning for blocking this company from doing the testing is. Do they think that the test is not credible and they are trying to block it so that consumers will not be misled and think that this 'tested' beef is safe? Or are they afraid that the tests may show results that they are not happy with?

Unlike most americans I am really afraid of Mad Cow disease. Its just a phobia of mine…. losing my mind. There are very few diseases that scare me as much.