Slow Roundup 5

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

1. Here's something I wish Google Blogger would try: Timed comment settings. The way Blogger is set up now, if you allow comments at all, you have either (a) open comments, which means your blog will get spammed with "comments" that are nothing more than ads, or (b) moderated comments, which means you have to moderate all comments.

In the first case, the only way to avoid comment spam is to personally check any post with open comments and personally close comments to each post as reader interest wanes. In the second case, you have an easier time avoiding comment spam, but if you get lots of traffic, you probably won't be able to moderate comments effectively unless, again, you personally close off posts to comments.

Both problems could be solved -- and with more bloggers moderating comments, comment spam almost eradicated -- if Blogger incorporated a feature that would allow you to have comments automatically close after some pre-set period.

2. I've seen lots of buzz about the Amazon Kindle -- Rational Jenn has one and loves it, while Ann Althouse hates hers.

Me? My Eee PC is great for reading PDFs, such as the scientific papers I often need to read and which, oddly, the Kindle does not support. Also, I prefer to carry one multifunctional device over several specialized ones.

I prefer to let early adopters sort things out, and I smell a convergence. Why shouldn't the Kindle do more than it does? And why not sell books in a format that more users than those who buy a specific device can use?

3. Good typo of the week: "undertasken". I was thinking about some work I'd started for my boss when I wrote that one!

4. I love my wife, but she's not the most confident speller. Recently, when I replied to her request for a confirmation of how to spell, "matter", I tossed in the following phonics lesson in joke form: "It's m-a-t-t-e-r. With one 't', it's 'mater, and that's a vegetable."

5. Van Horn's Law of Corporate Computing: No matter how sophisticated computing becomes, some corporations will find new ways to apply it poorly.

For example, back in the late eighties, I believe, when computers were still brand new, I remember people using them all the time in ways that were actually more inconvenient and less effective than established ways of doing things. This sense of novelty seemed to get the better of the folks in charge of International Harvester, who renamed their company "Navistar". They selected this ghastly name with -- you guessed it -- the "aid" of a computer.

Nowadays, I find myself making purchases on the phone because some scientific supply houses have web pages so poorly designed that they aren't worth the trouble of trying to figure out. "Please, please help me put my money in your hands," I think.

I then go straight to a web site -- of a competitor -- that actually works, unless there is none that I know of, or the phone. Being on the web does not necessarily mean you're being cutting-edge anymore, and just because you think you're cutting-edge doesn't mean you are going to make money.

6. Possibly paraphrasing from the May 6 entry of the 2008 Beer-a-Day Calendar: "In Texas, it is illegal to take more than three sips of beer at a time while standing."

Yeah. That's my real reason for moving to Bean Town!

7. Random thought: When it comes to "Big Oil", leftists want to take everything away from the evil corporations. But when it comes to the the oil "owned" by various dictators, suddenly, "property" is a sacrosanct right. But then, "bigness" is a sin for all but the government in their eyes.

8. As I mentioned before, my wife sometimes coins the cutest portmanteau words and phrases. Recently, when deciding what to have for dinner, we had narrowed things down to Italian and she started out thinking of pizza, but switched to pasta in mid-thought. The word "pista" (pronounced "peace-tah") came out.

9. The straitlaced grammarian in me winces every time I hear someone say, "a number of Xs are". The subject, "number", is singular, so the verb should be , as well. And, yes, the grammatically correct wording does sound awkward. Try something else.

10. Bikers on streets should obey traffic laws and rules of common courtesy that apply to cars, including all that apply to the smooth flow of traffic. This means, among other things, that they should travel mainly at the edge of the road -- rather than slowing everyone else down by forcing their green piety in our faces by occupying the center of the lane at 15 MPH.

Instead, many do this and more, even turning into pedestrians when that suits them. I just love crawling behind some idiot and then having to stop at the red light he made me miss, while he trots his bike across the pedestrian crossing with the crosswalk signal.

I think pedestrians hear my car horn better, too, and bikers who behave like that are always pedestrians in my book.

You want to be a car? Then act like a car.

-- CAV

This post was composed in advance and scheduled for publication at 8:00 A.M. on June 17, 2008.


Galileo Blogs said...

As an avid biker myself, I share your disgust at this "green-in-your-face" behavior of bicyclists where they insist on taking up an entire traffic lane. There is no reason for them to do that. As a kid growing up in a suburban area, I learned that the roads exist first for cars, and my job as a bicyclist is to stay as far to the side of the road as I can to let cars safely pass me. Needless to say, it was entirely in my self-interest to do so in order to avoid getting clipped by a car. In all my years of bicycling on city and suburban streets, it has never happened.

However, these "activists" who make a "cause" out of bicycling risk making drivers so angry that some yahoo will intentionally clip a bicyclist. That includes the completely unnecessary practice of taking up a traffic lane. It also includes, here in New York, bike-mob behavior. Various groups will organize mass rides where they will flout all traffic laws and deliberately snarl traffic. These nihilists pretend they are pursuing some noble "green" goal, but in reality they just love causing mayhem as an end in itself.

Having said all that, I do disagree that bicyclists should obey all traffic laws. I run stop signs and red lights whenever I can, but I do so safely. I will never do it in a way that causes a car to slow down for me, or a pedestrian to fear for his life.

Mutual courtesy can allow cars, bicyclists and pedestrians to "share" the road. These activists want to create an "us versus them" conflict that is unnecessary and, ultimately, contrary to any legitimate goals a bicyclist would want to achieve.

Gus Van Horn said...

"Having said all that, I do disagree that bicyclists should obey all traffic laws. I run stop signs and red lights whenever I can, but I do so safely. I will never do it in a way that causes a car to slow down for me, or a pedestrian to fear for his life."

As an occasional bicyclist myself, I'll grant you that.

Perhaps a better way to put it is this, "If you behave rudely and expect me to forgive you on the premise that a bicycle is somehow "equivalent" to a car, expect me to treat you with rudeness equivalent to that a lousy car driver deserves."

Joe said...

Gus: isn't most comment spam automated? In which case wouldn't using the Blogger Word Verfication option (which I see you are already using) be sufficient?

Gus Van Horn said...

True. MOST comment spam is automated, but every time I am dumb enough to tell my readers I am going (or even MIGHT) be going out of town, some bozo tries to post an ad to my blog, and I'm not especially widely-read.

In addition, some candidates and causes attract nearly fanatical followers who seem to have nothing else to do with their time but cut and paste canned "arguments" in support of their candidate into blog comments any time certain search terms come up.

There are lots of nuts out there with plenty of time on their hands that my idea would easily take care of.

Matt said...

I understand your frustration with the annoying sector of the bicyclist crowd. I live less than a half-mile from the dead center of downtown and I can't go anywhere with having to avoid one or two of this people. I've also just stopped taking several of my neighborhood through-routes at night as I've almost nailed some half-wit swerving down the road in the dark without lights or reflectors on several occasions.

There is also some odd group around my neighborhood that has turned biking into an ideology...I don't know.

Gus Van Horn said...

Heh. One "good" thing about Boston's lunatic drivers is -- as far as I can tell -- that they deter this kind of idiocy.