O.K. I Lied!

I’ll admit. Siri got me vev though I said I would not upgrade my i{HONE4 to a new iPHONE 4S.

Because you can sell your “old” iPHONE 4 today for $162 to Gazelle on-line, it made the Delta acceptable to get just two new features of the iPHONE 4S – Siri and 8 megapixel camera.

Let me tell you, Siri is advertised as a “Beta” product, and it is. It doesn’t work at all like the on-line video demonstration. It’s more like an Abbott and Costello version of what Siri is supposed to be.

Surely it will get better. Apple says it needs to learn your voice, intonation, and handle different accents – then Apple in other places says it works right out of the box and does not need training. The former is the case, and not the latter.

The first few attempts at communication were disastrous – all I wanted to know was if the new iPHONE 4S needed a hand guard on the antenna like the previous iPHONE 4 did. Siri either didn’t understand my repeated question or didn’t want to acknowledge the previous problem with the iPHONE 4.

Either way, Siri and I are not communicating well, although “she” did give me an alert in an hour as requested.

We shall see.

This capability has so much potential ( a la “Hal” in “2001”) that certainly others are trying to copy, but the question is if the “others” will step on the patents owned by Apple or risk Apple going into court again. (Or still. Apple sues heavily to protect their lead in technology.)

Someone could buy Dragon, Naturally Speaking and gain an immediate jump.

It may be that Apple will not upgrade Siri into a regular product until someone in the marketplace challenges Siri. Apple holds its own counsel, and closely because, as the technology leader they always have a bulls-eye on their back.

Statists, All! (Some Worse Than Others!)

In a Letter to the Editor in today’s North County Times, one of the interchangeable parts of the Crews family suggests that Libertarians should vote Democratic.

Libertarians, of which I am a registered one for decades, range from Liberal Libertarians to Conservative ones.

Theoretically, Libertarians do not see Left and Right, but Statists and less Statists. Libertarians want the government out of both the Boardroom and the Bedroom, but each Libertarian places different interest.

Personally, I am considered a Conservative Libertarian, because while some Republicans would use the power of government to impose their social issues, they are singularly ineffective at doing it and I will oppose their effort to do so.

On the other hand, the economic policies of the Democrats in their movement toward economic socialism (small “S” socialism) is singularly effective – aided by Republicans up until the time the Tea Party partially reined them in. Both Republicans and Democrats are wedded to spending other people’s money.

The Republicans and the Democrats are both Statisis, each wanting power to impose their particular interests using the levers of government because they both promise to “bring home the bacon.”

Republicans slightly less so, and so they (usually) get my vote.

I view the Democratic economic threat to be paramount.

A Good Search Engine Is a Great Plus!

If you have a great deal of information on your computer, you may need a good hard-drive search – and best I have found is X1, the product of a Pasadena, California company which has worked on search engines since 2003.

It is not as cheap as the free one that comes with Windows XP, or the much better free one that comes with Windows 7, but then it is much better. Prostitutes still make money with all of the free sex available, and so do products that are better than the free Windows products.

X1 is certainly fast and accurate – in fact the results appear as you are still typing, and the more you type the more refined your search becomes.

I am not certain how many files I have but it is something just short of 400,000, so keeping up with what research I did in the past is almost impossible without a GOOD search engine. I can recommend his one.

It’s a new shopping world!

The big news for the past week has been the Stop On-line Piracy Act (SOPA), which despite its name will not stop on-line piracy or even slow it down but will put major obstacles in the way of just regular people on the internet.

Regular users who know this HATE the act which is supported by Hollywood and the record industry – both of whom have legitimate gripes about piracy.

Piracy is not something that can be easily legislated, because it is already against the law but people with larceny in their minds still do it anyway. When I taught at the university in the beginning the university itself did not have rules against copying, and I clearly recall when I told my students that if I caught them copying the university-supplied software, they would get an “F” for the course instantly, had to leave the class, and when I reported them to the university they would be kicked out. Several students reminded me that the university has no such rule in place, and I told them that if the university let them stay I would resign from the faculty, and I urged them not to think that the university had rather have them as a student than me on the faculty.

The university eventually moved to a policy where they reserved the right to inspect even professors personal computers brought on campus – a policy I supported. I didn’t worry because I have never owned a copy of pirated software, even though as a owner of a computer store, and a professor, software was just there to easily copy.

I am absolutely death on violation of copyrights, because it is pure theft – but that does not mean I favor the SOPA, which those who have read it (I have not) tell me it is killing flies with a shotgun.

I do know that one computer industry giant (GODADDY) supported SOPA (briefly) and had 36,000 clients quit the service in just two days! GODADDY went to personal telephone calls to try to get their clients back, with unknown success because that is an on-going effort.

GODADDY has 50 million domains under their control, so the loss of 70,000 – the count today – is not much of a problem but it is a growing problem. I am webmaster for three domains, and one of them was under GODADDY but I switched several years ago and now all of my domains are under the auspices of Verio.

As Netfliz discovered, and Best Buy is discovering, on-line companies are easy to leave. Brick and mortar stores in the neighborhood are hard to leave because their proximity gives them an edge – all on-line stores are equidistant from the user. That being the case, I wonder why (as does PC World) why other corporations are not suffering similar boycotts – names like Bose, and Coach, and 3M and Burberry…

It’s a new shopping world! On-line sales in general are up 16% over last year’s holiday sales, but on-line sellers must be very, very careful.

I Really Hate To Write This! (Not!)

Just a note to brag about our San Diego weather, since this blog is suscribed to in the Central and East Coast areas: Christmas was 75  and sunny in the micro-climate in which I live, so we went to our son’s house for Christmas with the hard-top down on the convertible!

We expect to leave the top down all week, with a 79 predicted Thursday. We are still cutting roses, and just starting to pick oranges — but our tomatoes will no longer ripen (I don’t think.)

It is not bad across the nation, but it is just beautifull here. No it won’t last but we enjoy it while it’s here.

Andm yes, we like to rub your noses into the cold, or wet whereve you are

Teachers Are Defensive

Until teachers recognize that they have a product — an educated child — and that every product needs to be tested to see that it is being produced with quality expected of the real clients (the taxpayers) nothing will change.

Right now teachers think children are the customers. The children are the product, the taxpayers are the customer.

The taxpayers will still look at the NAEP standings and see California ranked with and below Louisiana, and be dissatisfied. The teachers will then take any and all suggestions that they might want their students to at least rise to the level of say, Alabama or Georgia as personal criticism, when it is actually a plea for our children who must eventually meet the competitive working world. That competitive working world will test and grade them daily, and will not advance them based on age or wrinkles — as is done in school both for students and teachers.

The teachers say that they are encumbered by large class sizes.

When class size was low, our students tested at the bottom 10% of the states in every subject. When class size is large our students test in the bottom 10% of states in every subject, We have the highest paid teachers in the nation and those teachers give us students who test in the bottom 10% of states in every subject. Taxpayers were told that our schools were falling apart, so taxpayers voted huge amounts of money to fix the schools and our students still test in the bottom 10% of states in every subject.

The solution for our very worst districts has been a Charter School System: New Orleans Charter Schools are at the 80% level, Washington D.C. Charters are now representing 41% of the schools, and Oakland is at 20%. This trend will continue unless the public school system (of which Charters are a reformed portion) establishes reforms on their own.

That will not happen as long as teachers do not recognize why taxpayers are dissatisfied. Currently teachers assume a defensive stance blaming their failures on things that Charter Schools do not find as problems.

Merry Christmas, One and ALL!

I wish everyone a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.

Now there Is an app for THAT!

Forget those pricey and separate turn-by-turn voice navigation systems!

TomTom now has an app for that, complete with traffic advice — for $40. iPAD2 and iPHONE.

I forget what I paid for the navigation systems in my two old Lexi, but each approached $2,000 for the nav system, and the update DVD costs something like $300 each.

Now, the same functionality – with added traffic advice – for $40!

Long Live Technology!

Charter Schools Are Making a Difference

The Washington Post reports that DC Charter schools now represent 41% of the District’s school children,

That is up from 5% in 1998,

This is what is called ” A Vote of No-Confidence.”

The growth of Charter Schools continues in California, despite constant attacks by teacher unions. In LA 10% of the students are I Charter Schools, and in Oakland it is 20%. California now has almost 1,000 Charter Schools.

And the shakeout of Charter Schools has begun, because all of them are not good. The difference is that when a Charter School is bad it CAN be closed, whereas in a public school it is almost impossible,

Prosecute Holder!

The Fast and Furious debate continues, and there are both cries for the Attorney General to resign, something I support, and a cry that decriminalizing drugs will end the Cartels, a position where I am ambivalent (in part.).

Cartels are a violent criminal enterprise – made more violent with the delivery of more guns of higher firepower than usual, and financed with US taxpayer money.

Cartels will not go out of business if drugs are decimalized. I support the decimalization, but not for the reason that it will do anything terrible to the Cartels. It has to do with personal liberty.

The March of Dimes did not go out of business when a Polio Vaccine was found, they just shifted gears, and all enterprises will do so when possible. The Cartels are deep into human smuggling and sexual slavery, and they will fill their existing pipeline with whatever product is available – untaxed cigarettes if that is necessary. There is always some product that is banned, overtaxed or otherwise highly regulated that can accommodate an existing and highly organized distribution network.

Facilitating mass murder with US taxpayer dollars by a US federal agency is beyond criminal. Holder should not be permited to resign — he should be fired, and prosecuted.