Friday, January 27, 2012

J.P. Müller’s “My System”

my-systemAbout a year ago (actually, as I look at the article, a year ago to the week) Slate ran an article on an exercise routine published in 1904 by J. P. Müller.  Müller’s regiment promised that just "15 minutes a day" of prescribed exercise would transform "weaklings" into strong men.

Sounds like the kind of thing they used to print in the back of comic books back in the 50’s, huh?  But this guy was Danish, and as everyone knows, Danes are awesome and never lie (not to mention they make fantastic furniture!).  [Full disclosure: I am of Danish descent.]

The idea sounded great to me.  Only fifteen minutes?  Perfect!  I wasn’t looking to turn into Lou Ferrigno, just wanted to be healthier, maybe cut a little bit so I could take off my shirt without looking around at my audience first.

But then I started leafing through the booklet, and just sifting through everything to find the actual EXERCISES seemed like more work than the whole physical aspect of the system.  The point (in my mind at least), was that this would be some efficient exercises I could easily do in my office, without special equipment, to keep in shape.  However, in order to figure out what the exercises were, you had to read a whole freaking book!  Not very “easy.”

Thus, I gave up (the ultimate end to most geeks’ good intentions involving exercise, right?). [blush]

I did a little digging to see if I could find just a list of the exercises, but came up short.  I posted as much in a forum somewhere, and someone just recently responded with a link to a list of only the exercises.

Hurray!  Now we’ll see if I can actually peel my ass out of this Aeron chair and make my body move for fifteen minutes a day.

Point of note: evidently Franz Kafka used to do the regiment twice a day… naked… in his window for all passers by to see. Hmmm.

p.s.  After looking over this again, I still think someone needs to go through and make this easier to understand, maybe that’ll have to be me.  I’m pretty sure the exercising itself is super simple, but the way it’s explained seems much more complicated than it needs to be.  Even just the last line of the Quick Reference: “Do exercises in numerical order from 1-18, moving each exercise into the next degree or level of complexity (or add the rubbing).”  What the hell does this mean?!  In the quick reference, each exercise has multiple numbers for different weeks.  I guess these are the varying degrees of difficulty?  At the very least, the pamphlet should come with a bottle of Ritalin.

Here’s a start.  This is the list of the basic exercises (there seems to be lots of this “rubbing” nonsense).  Also, the capitalization and hyphenation is all copied verbatim (and weird).

  1. Slow Trunk Circling

  2. Quick Leg Swinging

  3. Sit-ups

  4. Slow Trunk-Twisting with Sideways Bending

  5. Quick Arm Circling

  6. Slow Leg Circling

  7. Slow Trunk Twisting with “Forward” Leaning

  8. Push-ups

  9. Rubbing of the Feet, Top of Back, and Round the Neck

  10. Rubbing of Arms and Round shoulders, with Full Knee-Bending

  11. Full Slow Forward and Backward Bending (with Rubbing)

  12. Slow Trunk-Bending Sideways with half Knee-Bending (with Rubbing)

  13. Slow Trunk-Twisting to Alternate Sides (with Rubbing)

  14. Slow raising of Stretched leg in three directions (with Rubbing)

  15. Knee-Raising (with Rubbing)

  16. Quick Sideways bending of Trunk (with Rubbing)

  17. Quick Trunk-twisting (with Rubbing)

  18. Quick Backward-Forward Leaning of Trunk (with Rubbing)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

My Take on SOPA and PIPA

imagesThere has been a lot of attention given to SOPA and PIPA over the past week.  Unfortunately, I predict in another week, like so many other “hot current media topics,” no one will give the issue a second thought.  But it’s an extremely important subject that hopefully doesn’t just fade into the background once Wikipedia comes back on line.

These bills have been proposed with the notion that they are intended to stop or at least curb intellectual property theft (online copyright infringement).

Get this: I am 100% against pirating and copyright infringement.  I make my living by creating music and film.  If people decide they can download my material without paying for it, I can’t buy groceries.  It’s astounding to me how many people think it’s OK to do this, as if it’s not affecting artists/authors and no one is getting hurt.  Can you imagine if I walked into the dentist’s office because I needed a filling, got my tooth fixed, stood up and walked out without paying?  EXACT SAME THING AS DOWNLOADING ILLEGALLY FROM THE INTERNET.  Just sayin’.

However, there are major issues with SOPA and PIPA that don’t seem to be getting as much attention as they should. Everyone’s talking about the possibility of people getting huge penalties for minor copyright infringement (ridiculous notions like a 13 year old girl getting 5 years in prison for uploading a video of herself singing a Katy Perry song), but that is the least of my worries.

Our film distributor recently asked us to take a stand in support of the bill.  At the time, the bill was much more wide-sweeping and draconian, but even in it’s current, somewhat watered-down state, some of the issues below still stand.  Thus, I am posting my response here:

I am ALL against piracy and am willing to do whatever I can to help stop it, but as I understand the situation from having read the document in question, this bill goes far beyond upholding copyright to give the government wide-sweeping power that would allow them to shut down whatever IP's they see fit without any sort of court order or subpoena.  Essentially, this means that the government could censor free speech whenever and wherever they wish.

Without getting all "conspiracy theory," I truly believe this is a thinly veiled attempt to hamper free speech by claiming a desire to uphold copyrights and intellectual property rights.  As we have recently seen from the Arab Spring and other Democratic uprisings across the planet, the internet is an invaluable tool for free, unhampered communication, and I cannot support any bill that so blatantly hinders that free speech.

For too long politicians have been getting away with passing bills utilizing language that reaches FAR BEYOND the scope of the issues they claim they are addressing.  This behavior was rampant during the Bush administration, and it will take decades to undo the wrongs that were written during those dark years.  I cannot be a part of supporting these actions.

Were this bill more specific to targeting piracy and specifying that ANY sort of investigation whatsoever needed to be provided to initiate the freeze on targets, I might be more on board.  If the bill utilized language stating specifically who was being targeted (pirates and websites breaking copyright laws), that investigations would be conducted to prove that the targets were breaking copyright law and specifically disseminating copyrighted material illegally, and that these powers could not extend beyond preventing piracy, I would be in full support.  However, that is not the  case, this bill would give too much power to people who would almost certainly abuse it, and thus, unfortunately, I believe this is a bad piece of legislation and cannot support it.


RyanGoslingSopaThe list below (and picture of Ryan Gosling above) is from a website called  While I think the first point is kind of crap (since the entertainment industry is already shouldering similar expenses… which in turn lead to overpriced media, by the way), I think the site makes some salient points about how blacklisting IP’s that host copyright infringers is too wide-sweeping and would be a horrible overreach. Please pay particular attention to the last point.

  • The blacklist bills are expensive. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that PIPA alone would cost the taxpayers at least $47 million over 5 years, and could cost the private sector many times more. Those costs would be carried mostly by the tech industry, hampering growth and innovation.

  • The blacklist bills silence legitimate speech. Rightsholders, ISPs, or the government could shut down sites with accusations of infringement, and without real due process.

  • The blacklist bills are bad for the architecture of the Internet. But don't take our word for it: see the open letters that dozens of the Internet's concerned creators have submitted to Congress about the impact the bills would have on the security of the web.

  • The blacklist bills won't stop online piracy. The tools these bills would grant rightsholders are like chainsaws in an operating room: they do a lot of damage, and they aren't very effective in the first place. The filtering methods might dissuade casual users, but they would be trivial for dedicated and technically savvy users to circumvent.

So there you have it.  I think websites that encourage, promote, and facilitate piracy and copyright infringement should be shut down.  I think the people running these sites should be put in jail.  However, giving the government wide-sweeping authority to simply shut down entire IP’s on a whim is a HORRIBLE IDEA that goes far beyond stopping or even curbing copyright infringement.

At some point the US Government MUST start creating legislation that addresses ONLY the intended purpose in a specific and poignant way instead of making laws as ambiguous and inclusive, even of non sequitur issues,  as they can get away with.

p.s. Yes, I get the irony/hypocrisy that all the images in this blog post were simply re-appropriated from the internet.

Why I’m Going to Start Drinking Freetail Beer Whenever I Can

Sometimes I drink beer because it tastes good.

I’ve never had Freetail, but even if it tasted bad, I would drink it, simply because of this AWESOME response to a Cease and Desist letter sent to them by Steelhead Brewing Company (which has now dropped a peg in my book).




Sunday, January 8, 2012

Using Picasa with Multiple Computers

UPDATE (1-19-12): I’m going to leave this post up, but feel free to completely ignore it, as much more information has recently come to light because of some nice e-mails from a guy named Don.  It would be best to check out his lengthy explanation of the current situation with Picasa on multiple computers here.  The complexity of the situation has me simply wanting to find a different solution for organizing and sharing my photos.  Ugh.


For being such a pioneer of the web/cloud, Google has created a photo solution (Picasa) that is mind-bogglingly single PC based.  Even the “sync to web” feature only allows uploading of photos to the web… it’s barely “syncing” anything at all!  Your PC simply remembers what photos were uploaded and will update the photos you uploaded when you make changes on your computer.  They only recently made changes that will ask you if you want to update your computer if you delete a photo in your web album (before, it didn’t even do that!).

And if you store photos on multiple machines, you’re really screwed.  That is the impetus for this post.

Picasa uses .ini files to keep track of changes made to your photos (this is definitely a good thing, as it employs non-destructive editing, i.e. the originals are not altered).  As a result, changes you make to photos on one of your computers will not show up on another computer.  Even worse, if you have “sync to web” enabled on multiple computers, you sync your photos between computers, and you tick photos already ticked on another computer for upload to the web, you are uploading multiple copies of the same photo (then try figuring out which photo to delete so as to not REALLY confuse Picasa).  Not only that, but changes you have made to your photos are not displayed on the other machines, as they are tracked only in the .ini files.

You can try syncing the .ini files between computers, but this only leads to more problems down the road, and you can never be totally sure you’re actually looking at the most recent changes on the computer you’re using.

This post at Cloud Ave. is a decent how-to solution, but is still not a great solution to the overall problem (as there are pitfalls all along the way and it doesn't really allow for mirroring your photo collection on multiple machines).  It employs a workaround in which one computer will act as the server, and your other computers/user profiles must feed from that main computer on your network.  But what that means is that if you are out in the world and make updates or changes on your laptop (not the “main computer” at home), it will freak out the system once you get back to home base.

While the Cloud Ave. solution is not a total solution, it does illustrate how incredibly simple the solution to the problem is.  If Picasa stored your .ini files in the cloud (in your online web albums/profile) or at least synced to them there, the problem would be COMPLETELY solved.

I have NO IDEA why Google has not implemented this, as there are obviously thousands of people who use Picasa across multiple machines.  Get to it, Picasa team at Google.

Meanwhile, I'm thinking Microsoft Live Mesh (or possibly a Drop Box folder, though Googling the issue seems to turn up a plethora of problems) is the best current solution.  If I use Live Mesh to sync my master "Pictures" albums on multiple machines, Live Mesh keeps everything (including Picasa .ini files) synced.  The problem is that you have to either sync ALL your photos (which for me is terabytes of data), or set up syncing for every single sub-folder in your Pictures library (which means hundreds of folders).  Since I don't want every single picture I own stored on my laptop, I have to go the "set up every sub-folder route," and Live Mesh is horrible for addressing hundreds (even thousands) of sub-folders, since Live Mesh lists every single synced folder in one long list and has no way to group or categorize things.  Using Live Mesh also means syncing everything across the web (not your local connection), so it's incredibly slow (you can mitigate this a bit by making sure your folders are first synced across all your machines before taking Live Mesh live).

I wish I had a perfect solution to share here, but for the time being, it looks like there isn't one.  Blurg.