Archive for the ‘All Entries’ Category

  • My CA 2010 Endorsements

    1. Research Methods

    One web site that I found particularly useful was California Choices. I had gotten started making a spreadsheet of various organizations’ endorsements when I came across it. I used it to narrow down groups that I like (and also groups that I specifically dislike) to see where they stand, and then I could click the links to read their arguments. If I see all the groups I like go one way and all the groups I dislike go another, then that makes it pretty easy. It’s when the groups I like disagree that I spend most of my time investigating, so to speak.

    Groups that I like are the ACLU (only the Northern California one is listed on the site, and interestingly, they don’t agree 100% with the other two CA chapters), League of Conservation Voters, Sierra Club, League of Women Voters, National Organization of Women, Courage Campaign, Equality California, NAACP, and AARP. And of course, I don’t weight them all equally. As a quick aside, if the EFF was endorsing anything, I’d care a lot about their opinions too, but as far as I could see, they don’t.

    Newspaper endorsements that I look at include the Union Tribune, SF Gate (not listed on the comparison site), Los Angeles Times, SF Bay Guardian, SF Chronicle, and San Jose Mercury News. I like to see what they say and hear their brief explanations, but I don’t “award points” for the endorsements.

    I also look at what all the political party endorsements are. Of course I do this because I can see what people of various ideological platforms go for, but also, getting to see how the smaller parties feel about matters of redistricting is a unique perspective, I feel. In that sense, I am counting on them to each be selfish.

    Also, another site to help you pick some candidates that have similar beliefs to you is Project Vote Smart’s VoteEasy. It only covers senate and house candidates, but I thought it was both fun and useful.

    2. My Candidate Endorsements

    Governor: Edmund G. “Jerry” Brown
    Lieutenant Governor: Gavin Newsom
    Secretary of State: Debra Bowen
    Controller: John Chiang
    Treasurer: Bill Lockyer
    Attorney General: Kamala D. Harris
    Insurance Commissioner: Dave Jones
    United States Senator: Susan A. Davis
    53rd District Representative: Susan A Davis
    State Senator 40th District: Juan Vargas
    Member of the State Assembly 79th District: Ben Hueso
    State Superintendent of Public Instruction: Tom Torlakson

    3. My Proposition Endorsements

    Prop 19: Yes
    Prop 20: No
    Prop 21: Yes
    Prop 22: No
    Prop 23: No
    Prop 24: Yes
    Prop 25: Yes
    Prop 26: No
    Prop 27: No

    Prop 20 and 27 were the most interesting for me. It seems like a lot of the groups that I like (specifically thinking of the ACLU) officially withheld a “no” endorsement for 27, but in their explanation of their official “neutral” position, seemed to say a lot of the same things as the groups that did actually come out and say “no” (specifically thinking of the League of Women Voters). Basically, it seems like they don’t like 20 for different reasons, but all want to see 27 not pass because they’re curious about the commission made by Prop 13 and want to see what it produces.

    Haven’t mailed my ballot in yet, but was planning on finishing up today. It’s the nonpartisan positions and local San Diego stuff that I still have to do.

    Make sure you vote at your local polling station on November 2nd, or if you vote by mail, make sure you send your ballot in time for it to arrive on or before voting day!

  • Technology For All

    This post is a response to my friend Kate Mitchell’s recent thoughtful blog post on human-computer interaction. She wrote from the perspective of a computer scientist, and my response is from that of a user experience designer.

    I hear a lot of people complain about how cell phones and Facebook are taking over our lives, creating the expectation that we should always be available. But is that true? I think that hinges on whether or not these things force us to do anything. Since they don’t, I think we might need to reexamine the problem.

    People might feel pressure to check their email every five minutes, but that pressure is internal, not external. Before the internet, people felt pressured to stay near a telephone. Before that, they eagerly awaited the mail courier or religiously went to gathering places to stay in the social loop. The pressure isn’t new.

    To show how the pressure to always be on call is actually something of an irrational social anxiety that comes from within, consider this: when is the last time you got mad at somebody for not responding to your email or Facebook message within five minutes, or got angry because your call went to voicemail instead of being answered immediately? Thankfully, that kind of entitlement mentality is rare, or else we wouldn’t be able to turn off our mobile devices at the theater, which most people manage to do without a problem. You probably haven’t decided to shun anybody for those things, so you shouldn’t worry about the world conspiring to shun you.

    In short, the problem is our own insecurity, not the technology.

    Another interesting complaint that Kate mentioned in her post that got my attention as a user experience designer was her statement that “The profound satisfaction of getting to know a machine is something that disappears with ease-of-use.”

    Her opinion reminds me of the one held by a lot of Gentoo Linux developers. They resisted making the installation process easier for a long time because they wanted people to learn all about their system, which they felt the difficult manual command-line interface installation would make people experts in. And I suppose that it’s a good sign that a computer scientist or a programmer feels that way since in a way, that shows that they really love what they do.

    However, as a user experience designer, I’m interested in a different sort of profound satisfaction. My field is all about making technology and information more accessible. I enjoy tinkering with Gentoo Linux and other “advanced computer geek things,” but if everybody that made them felt the way that Kate and the Gentoo developers felt, then a lot of people wouldn’t be able to use technology.

    It might be fun for some of us, but computers weren’t invented so that people could sit there and figure out how they work or how to use them. They exist to enable us to do things, and the harder a computer is to use, the more of an obstacle it is to accomplishing things with them. I don’t fear complexity, but I do think that unnecessary difficulty is undesirable.

    Graphical user interfaces, mouse and keyboard interfaces, and sites like Wikipedia all come together to make it easy for everybody to access all of human knowledge, not just an elite group of users. I think that’s wonderful, and that kind of thing is why I hope to be a part of helping even more people take advantage of all the things that computers, the internet, and the rest of modern technology enables.

    And rest assured, plenty of people will still be interested in the computers themselves. I sure am.

  • My CA 2010 Primary Endorsements

    You have until 8:00 pm to vote, so don’t miss it!

    Some resources I used when making my decisions are SmartVoter.org, DailyKOS, and the Union Tribune.

    I’m a nonpartisan, so I got to choose what ballet I wanted. I selected a Democratic ballet. If you have a different ballet, then we’ll still at least have the propositions in common, so I’ll start with those.

    • Yes on Prop 13 – Seems like everybody is agreed on this one. Haven’t heard any counterarguments, and I think it sounds pretty sensible.
    • Yes on Prop 14 – Going against DailyKOS’s recommendation on this one. People still only get one vote, but this way, they’d have more choice in where they could use it during future primaries because they wouldn’t be automatically shackled to the party they’re registered with. Not such a big deal for me since I already have this privilege by being a nonpartisan. Also, I don’t buy the argument that this is actually a roundabout trick by the party bosses to somehow actually end up with more power. If anything, I think it would just force them to be less vicious and immature in their ads since they’d have to care more about centrists instead of just appealing to party hardliners and radicals.
    • Yes on Prop 15 – I don’t like how only people with gobs of money are capable of winning. By letting candidates decide to use public funds in exchange for not going over a limit, more qualified people to would be able to run and would have a realistic shot against the kind of corrupt candidates that get zillions of dollars from corporate interests. And it would be optional anyway for the candidates, so when Scrooge McDuck decides he wants to run for governor, he could still decide to forego this and use his own considerable funds.
    • No on Prop 16 – Corporate lobbyist legislation. PG&E got this onto the ballet to make more money by restricting what people can do to serve their interests. No thanks.
    • No on Prop 17 – Corporate lobbyist legislation. This time, it’s from Mercury Insurance. They just want to be able to charge you for changing your insurance provider. No thanks.
    • Yes on Prop H (Coronado) – Going against the Union Tribune’s recommendation here. I realize this measure is almost certainly going to lose on account of so much money being dumped into the campaign against it (all those silly “Kiss the tunnel proposal goodbye!” banners with bright red lips went unanswered as far as I could see), but I’m supporting it because it’s true that Coronado needs to study the different proposals on how to deal with traffic for now and the near future. This vote is not for or against the tunnel. It’s for or against studying what the tunnel would mean, as well as other traffic solutions. Also, in the voter information pamphlet, I found the argument against it to just be very, very poorly crafted. I’m sure that the opposing side has a legitimate case, but they did not make it in the pamphlet, and meanwhile, the proponents of Prop H made their case very well.
    And now, for the Democratic primary candidate recommendations. I’m just going to say who I’m voting for. I think they’re all reasonable candidates that everybody in California (not just the far left or the far right) could see positive change under, but I’d encourage you to look into them for yourself, of course.
    • Jerry Brown for Governor (Peter Schurmann would also be very good)
    • Gavin Newsom for Lieutenant Governor
    • Kamala Harris for Attorney General (Ted Lieu would also be very good)
    • Dave Jones for Insurance Commissioner
    • Barbara Boxer for Senator
    • Mary Salas for 40th District
    • Ben Hueso for 79th District
    • Tom Torlakson for State Superintendent of Public Instruction
  • “Thou Shalt Not Impose”

    Separation of Church and State

    Today, I had my last English Composition: Creative Persuasion & Argument class. I turned in my final paper, and also did an optional presentation that was pretty funny.

    The paper, “Thou Shalt Not Impose,” is a proposal argument about how religion has intruded into our government, why it’s a problem, and what specifically we should do.

    Don’t forget that you can change the text-viewing options at the top of the page to make it easier to read.

    The visual argument (teensy-weensy PDF) I presented is the same topic, but with my sense of humor poured all over it. Parts of it might not make sense without knowing what I was saying while I was presenting (you can probably figure it out if you read the paper), but that’s alright since I’m uploading it because it makes me laugh. I had fun with it.

  • Apple vs Adobe

    As a web designer, I’ve been following the spat between Apple and Adobe over Flash with interest. So how do I feel about the spat between Apple and Adobe? Whose side am I on?

    Well, I’m happy that Flash isn’t going to be such a crutch anymore. If a concept for a site can be executed with HTML instead of Flash, it should be built in HTML about 99% of the time.

    Right now though, a lot of developers don’t do that though because they like making things in Flash more than they like coding with HTML, CSS, PHP, JavaScript, and so on. To them, the important thing is the final product, and if they think it’s easier or more enjoyable to do it in Flash, and if Flash is perceived as an acceptable standard on the web, then that’s what they’ll use.

    But now that their sites flat-out fail on the iPhone, they’ll be forced to build in HTML again. Frustrating for a lot of developers, but in the long run, it benefits consumers since they’ll get faster-loading, less buggy web sites. In the short run, it frustrates consumers too, but there hasn’t been much of a revolt since Flash web designers have always been supposed to at least build really simple non-Flash versions of their sites.

    The trouble is that there’s a lot more than just web sites on the web, so while I’m happy to see this put the upcoming HTML5 into such a great position, HTML5 is just for building web sites while Flash isn’t. All the other things that Flash can do—programs, games, interactive animations, and so forth—aren’t really answered for by HTML5 because that’s not what it’s for. Sure, programmers can build programs and games for the iPhone, but what a hassle for all the people who learned to be Flash developers. It’s easier to make programs and games in Flash, and when completed, they’d work on any device that had a Flash plugin without any more work. I don’t consider myself a Flash designer, but I do feel a little sorry for my friends who are.

    I can’t help but think that the biggest winners are people with phones running Android, WebOS, and other alternatives to the iPhone. They get to have their cake and eat it too. They’ll enjoy all the benefits of a web that’s built more on HTML5, and if Adobe’s latest press releases about plug-ins coming soon for them are to be believed, they’ll also get to keep enjoying all the cool things that will only ever be made in Flash. In other words, they get to eat the fruits of Apple’s labor while still being pampered by Adobe. And so to them, I say enjoy it.