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Nathan's interests include open source, open web protocols, and programming languages.

Nathan co-founded Intrigo, a software development house in Portland that develops web applications that power startup companies.

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27 January 2008 - 0:33Three small things I’m doing to make a difference in this year’s election.

Arizona’s primary is on February 5th, just 10 days away. I felt compelled to share (with those willing to read this) three very small things that I will be doing to make a difference this election year.

Act One: voting for Barak Obama.

Here’s why:

Sometime around last year, like many people, I began getting very depressed about the state and trajectory of our country. I’ll abstain from enumerating the reasons, suffice it to say that I felt that there was a strong disconnect between the body of values I was brought up to believe America represents, and the abhorrent, very real, consequences of it’s policies.

I was truly feeling that all of the progress we had made in the last two hundred years was giving way to a new dark age of stagnation, violence and secrecy from which we may not emerge in our lifetime.

Until I heard Obama.

I had lost my religion and here out of nowhere comes a political savior. A man who, more than any politician I have ever witnessed in my lifetime, embodies the hope that our nation can recapture it’s purpose.

I’m not going to pass up this opportunity to help elect someone that sees this nation as I do, who also believes in the values that our country so desperately needs to reembrace.

And as an added bonus, as if I needed nudging, he wins elections.

It’s not about the policies.

For me this year it’s not about the details of the issues. It’s not about the policy proposals. I’m aware of Obama’s policies, I agree with most of them, there are some I disagree with. Same is true of any of the candidates, I’ve read about them all. Judging only on policy promises, I wouldn’t vote for a single one of them, they’re all terrible!

But impeccable policy proposals are a pipe dream. When was the last time we heard proposed legislation and everyone rose up and said “Wow, that’s perfect!” Nope, never going to happen. Policy is hard, arguably intractable, and I don’t expect any of the candidates to “wow” me with their proposals (unless, of course, you count “Wow, that’s the worst idea I’ve ever heard. Heck, I’m not even mad, that’s amazing.“).

It’s about something much bigger.

How does voting on my ideals and my conscience make me any different than the ‘values’ voters of 2004 that turned out in great numbers for President Bush? In a lot of ways, it doesn’t. But I will stack up the values of hope and unity of purpose of the Obama campaign against the tyranny of fear and intolerance that pervaded the last Bush campaign any day. I’m voting for corrective action; I’m voting for the future of my nation’s temperament; I’m voting my heart; I’m voting for hope.

I’m voting for Obama, and I hope you do, too.

Acts two and three of “Three Things I’m Doing To Make A Difference in This Year’s Election” will be posted on Monday and Tuesday.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AmUUYo9o9eg&rel=1]

1 Comment | Tags: politics, voting

18 January 2008 - 3:13Discovering new fears.

Thanks to Cloverfield, I have discovered anxieties that I was previously unaware I had.

Nathan’s new found anxieties:

  1. A fear of helicopters, specifically being in one, especially during a giant monster attack.

  2. A fear of New York City, or of buildings, in general, especially during a giant monster attack.
  3. A fear of things which, upon biting you, make you explode.

No Comments | Tags: movies

15 January 2008 - 2:35Robots rebel, take over world and my music collection. News at eleven.

I have a digital music library that is far larger than any reasonable person could hope to manage by themselves. It is ridiculously large, I never expect to listen to it all, and contained in this collection is a not-so-insignificant portion made up of albums that I should be ashamed I acquired at all.

Picking good songs to play from this library quickly devolves into one of two exercises, both with depressingly predictable results: Option 1, The Safe Bet: cherrypick an album from the mental list that I keep that I know I own and like because I’ve already listened to them hundreds of times; and Option 2, Musical Russian Roulette: let the cruel gods of playlist shuffle decide my aural fate, finger located firmly near the skip button in anticipation of the much too prevalent duds.

At what point in my life did I let listening to music become a chore?

iTunes Library of Absurdity!

Determined not to be a slave to my own music collection I set out for something better, and when I say “something better”, I usually mean something automated. I’m a programmer, and by definition lazy, so I when I do things once I expect never to have to do them again, and picking good music to listen to is no exception.

I found my solution in iTunes Smart Playlists. Within iTunes, I could command my Smart Playlists, or, as I prefer to call them, my small army of music-selecting robots, to craft a special sub-collection of my library that has all of the strengths and none of the weaknesses of my two previous music selection methods. From then on, each morning when I plugged my iPod in for it’s daily sync I didn’t get the usual overplayed tracks or mish-mosh of unwanted crap. Instead, thanks to my carefully crafted and meticulously planned assault on music mundanity, my mornings became pleasant, serendipitous trips through the less played corners of my previously unwieldy album collection. And I was happy! For weeks!

And oh was I proud! Obviously my significant skills in automation were paying dividends into new areas of my life. Or so I thought

Robot invasion!
Robot invasion!

It turns out that the iPod Touch (and iPhone) have a “Smart Playlist bug” that had evaded my perception until just tonight. It’s one of those absurd kinds of bugs: the ones that don’t overtly break anything but instead twists the supposedly “smart” functionality into an at-first-imperceptible perversion of it’s former self.

You see, in my smart playlists I have several clauses that say things like “first select the 5000 songs that I’ve played the most” and “next select 3 gigabytes of my most recently added songs”. I then have other clauses that manipulate these lists in various ways to separate the wheat from the chafe. But! As I discovered just tonight, upon syncing, this sinister bug reprograms my smart playlists so that everywhere I told it most it changes it to least and everywhere I told it least it changes it to most!

The playlists that I had so carefully built; the army of automatons that I had enlisted (commanded!) to pick my songs for me according to the very precise measurements that I had layed out for them, were doing the exact opposite of what I had asked them to do! Unbeknownst to me! For weeks!

toothpaste for dinner

Most embarrassingly, though, is that I thought the great music that was being delivered to my iPod every morning was a result of my own clever machinations, when in fact, had the playlists been working as I had designed them, I would have had been subjected to the same crap and cruft that I was trying to avoid in the first place!

Hubris, exposed by my own machines. Touché.

No Comments | Tags: music

4 January 2008 - 19:49Fountain Hills Update: John Summers

When I was in Fountain Hills this last week I ran into John Summers at the Taphouse. John (Sumatyme), along with his musical partner James Calbert (CTX), started a hip hop group that has apparently gained quite the following. The group is called Identity Crisis and they have one album out (that I’m aware of).

I’m not able to say that I knew John very well in high school, though I wish I had since he always seemed like (and still does) an interesting and genuinely nice guy.

John being a nice guy and starting a musical group, however, aren’t reasons enough for me to bother you with this blog post. I’m doing that because the album is really good. And I mean excellent.

Good enough that I put my money where my mouth is and bought it on iTunes. If you’re a fan of hip hop (or just curious to see what a fellow FHHS alumni is up to) you can judge for yourself by:

What other new and interesting things are FH alumni doing? Let us all know :o)

No Comments | Tags: friends