Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Loose Ends

Thank you to Laurie and Gayle for the winter jacket for Tara, looks really snug, and just in time for our latest XRL venture, my garb at the cleaners. Departing tomorrow.

While Tara went shopping, I had a marketing meeting over Thai food. At what point, when Photoshopping an NGO's (or GO's) logo onto high tech gear, do you want to seek the client's permission? Obviously if it's not real, is science fiction, you're free to tickle the client's imagination. Permission should fall under the heading of informed consent, meaning you've at least tested the waters already.

In terms of funding, the Bhutanese Army has a charter to ferment alcoholic beverages for revenue. Given military discipline is a lot about controlling inventory, supply chains, this makes plenty of sense.

Many NGOs have adopted the same model, making jams, chocolates or cheeses for barter in the marketplace, while offering seasonal retreats to practitioners of whatever faith, closer to the core mission of the abbey, although having ritual chores around cheese making is also food for the soul.

Speaking of NGOs, I've been yakking with Western Friend about the state of the art when it comes to DB work (data bases). In liberal software circles, some talk of AMP or ARM, losing the L and/or changing PHP to Ruby.

We used to say LAMP for those who weren't tracking back then: LAMP = Linux (operating system) + Apache (web server, might be for localhost) + MySQL (database engine) + some computer language starting with P (Python, Perl or PHP).

A lot of us still use Linux of course (I'm on Ubuntu right now), but OS X users need to understand they're not locked in to FileMaker Pro or other proprietary solutions. MySQL (M) and Apache (A) work well on a Mac, and for P you've got Python, although some still prefer Perl.

Same with Windows: don't assume you're locked in to Access and/or any flavor of Visual Basic (VB) including .NET. I'd recommend IronPython if Microsoft seemed less ambivalent about its marketing.

Regarding IronPython, is this the FoxPro story all over again? Visual FoxPro (VFP) was far superior to Access, but Redmond's home grown VB was more the cash cow, not alien xBase, inherited from JPL by way of Ashton-Tate. Access made cube farmers feel special, and as a front end productivity tool still makes some sense, especially if you like those "fat client" office suites (a web browser is considered "thin" even if bulky).

Now some child prodigy is going to remind me that this DB work could all be done in Emacs and LISP i.e. none of this browser-based stuff is really necessary if you can type in computer code. To which I reply: remember we're not all like you, even if we like you.

I've got a second XO, as of today, will maybe get them to talk to each other. XOs prefer to stay social (called mesh networking, like they explained on some cereal box maybe).

Good talking about Hong Kong at lunch, got me thinking about visiting Asia again. Portland's new International High School is set to open in September. That might dovetail with some of our plans to build more bridges with PSU.

Dick Pugh's Willamette Meteor talk
could easily pack an auditorium, and it's this kind of geographically localized content, backed with lots of GIS/GPS, that keeps food on the table in our region. Greater Portland is a city of planners in many respects, my dad having been one of them, before moving his career overseas.

Speaking of GIS, I should talk about the Times Square 3-frequency buckyball again, something I usually get around to this time of year. More though, I'm wondering why CAD people don't burn us an n-frequency ballroom ball to replace the more traditional sort (lots of ill-fitting squares), of hexagons and twelve pentagons (n % 3 == 0). The precision fittings would speak well for the company that did a good one. Maybe it's out there. Please send me a link.

Some high points of 2008: breakfast with Allegra, boating with Tompos (plus seeing the play four more times), hanging out with D.W. Jacobs, Sam Lanahan (Dark Matter found), and Trevor Blake at the Portland Fish House on Hawthorne, a business trip to the high desert, Willamette Quarterly Meeting, HR meetings with some Portland pros, that visit to the Linus and Ava Pauling special collection, some of those Esozone talks, getting Tara's room remodeled (thank you Elizabeth, Gayle), voting, hanging out with Gordon.