FireFox Sucks

I switched to FireFox as my primary web browser several months back, and during that time I’ve come to love some of the features, such as the Sage RSS reader plugin and tabbed browsing. But in spite of those great features, the browser itself quite literally sucks. It sucks up memory at an unbelievable rate, easily crossing the 100 – 200 mb range after several days of browsing. It sucks up CPU cycles, too, sometimes spinning endlessly between at around 50% usage for no good reason. And then it sucks when it’s time to print anything, causing the browser to hang for periods of time, when it doesn’t just outright crash the browser.

I’ve been waiting for a new version that might improve these features, but if the authors have been believing their own hype, I shouldn’t hold my breath.


Ride the Rails

I’ve left the Aizu Wakamatsu web cam online in the background for about the past half hour. While web cams have been around for years and generally quite boring, as I sit here in NJ, I’m amazed at the quality of video and sound coming to me from 7,000 miles away.

For those who are curious, Aiku Wakamatsu is on the JR Banetsu-sai Line. To get there from Tokyo, check out the Japan Railways timetable.

Courtesy of Joi Ito’s blog


60 Years

Today marks the 60th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, as Metroblogging Tokyo” reminded me.

In April, 2002, I made a day trip to Hiroshima while I was traveling around Japan. The experience still lingers with me.

From my entry dated April 9, 2002,

The Peace Memorial Park, if taken in the right frame of mind, is a very solemn experience. From just about every angle you can see the remains of the building above which the bomb exploded. There is a large mound there, too, where the ashes of all the cremated bodies that were cleaned up after the explosion were placed, as well as a memorial containing the lists of all those who died in the explosion.

It is interesting to note, too, that the local population use the park for recreational purpose such as bike riding, walking their pets. It was strange to see little children running around, riding bikes and having fun right next to such a serious place, but it was reassuring at the same time.

Links to the photos will be posted once the new photo album system comes online.


Transforming Rutgers

Some of my friends know that in my spare time, I’m active with my alumni association at Rutgers. In fact, I was just at a meeting this evening. In keeping with my previous postings on changes at Rutgers, I feel I should post a link to the report on transforming undergraduate education that was recently released to the public, to organize the undergraduate colleges in to a single entity.

For those unfamiliar with the University, the undergraduate teaching faculty, with the exception of the specialized technical schools, are all associated with the “Faculty of Arts and Sciences”. However, several individual colleges within the University set the degree requirements and actually host the students. Hence, you will affiliate with one school, with its own degree requirements, but attend classes with students from all the undergraduate schools, each with different degree requirements. Each college also offers its own academic advising and have their own residential facilities. Long story short, it causes a fair amount of confusion.

Granted, since there are multiple residential colleges within the University, each has its own alumni association marketing to Rutgers alums. Which, naturally, leads to its own mess of confusion.

One of the committees I sit on discusses the dues process (recruiting, retaining, remitting) and how to improve it. One of the elephants in the room relates to the university, and by extension, the alumni structure and how it impacts those three items. What will be interesting to watch over the next several years is how the reorganization of the undergraduate system in to a single New Brunswick undergraduate college will impact the alumni associations.


Behind the Scenes

Behind the scenes I’ve been making some changes to the way the blog works. For instance, accounts aren’t required to post comments any longer. Instead a randomly generated image, similar to what you might see at Ticketmaster, is displayed with a prompt to enter the characters in a text box. I’ve also been tweaking some settings that are not readily visible.

For my next trick, I’m finally going to work on the photo album section. I was sketching the layout and navigation earlier today, so I should start coding that in the next day or two.


On the Road Again

For the second time in four weeks, I’ll be spending a weekend down in our new data center in Charlotte. Not that I objerct; I volunteered to head down and coordinate our migration from Charlotte that weekend. Still, it is my hope that this weekend does not turn out like the previous weekend I spent in Charlotte.

Last time, we boarded the flight to Charlotte about a half hour late. After we left the gate, we spent another hour on the runway in Newark before taking off. All this guaranteed us arriving in Charlotte two hours late, ensuring that all the restaurants in the area had closed, so that we missed dinner completely. Friday was a 12 hour workday, with a midnight dinner and some fun after. Saturday was even longer, with us working twenty-one straight hours, from 9 a.m. until 6 a.m. Sunday. And Sunday itself lasted almost another 12 hours. After dinner, I finally collapsed at about 2 a.m. in time to catch a few hours rest before heading to the airport…where our flight was delayed another 3 hours.

I was told the weekends would be relatively boring. I’m hoping the August 19th weekend lives up to that billing, because the last time around it was anything but.


A Rovian Dilema

A July 1 podcast of NPR’s On the Media program contained the most clearcut description of a reporter’s privilege regarding sources and why it should not apply in the Rove case.

GEOFFREY STONE: Exactly. The critical mistake, in my view, that the Times has made, and Time Magazine up till this point has made, is to mistake what is really a source privilege with what they would like to have as a reporter’s privilege. When we talk about the attorney-client privilege or the doctor-patient privilege, or the reporter-source privilege, the reason for the privilege is not to protect the lawyer or the doctor or the reporter. It’s to protect the person who’s disclosing the information from the fear that if he makes that disclosure, it will later get him in trouble. And that’s the entire reason for the privilege. The distinctive feature about this situation is that the individuals who made the disclosure were committing a criminal offense in doing so, and there’s no public policy in protecting their identities. In the doctor-patient privilege, when a patient seeks advice from the doctor not to treat a medical ailment but in order to commit a fraud on an insurance company, the privilege does not apply. All I’m saying is the exact same thing should apply in the journalist-source situation. I believe there should be a very broad journalist-source privilege that should cover 99 percent of the situations. I believe in a much more aggressive privilege than even most people who want a privilege. But I don’t believe it covers this particular situation.