All posts by John

Common Sense Eating Guide

Here is one of the most reasonably researched and simply presented dieting guides I have ever seen. Every bit of it is true without the terrible faux-science items such as Guarna or green tea extract. Follow this guide — lose weight. Simple.

I always knew I could put my plan into a simple format for others to use. Thus, I began sketching out the following ideas for a book proposal last year. Several friends kept asking for the information and have since been successful in dropping 30, 40, and even 50 pounds to reach the weight of their dreams.

So, what’s the moral of my story?

You can have your fried chicken and eat it too! Just keep in mind that moderation is the key if you are trying to lose weight or maintain your current figure, not to mention vigorous exercise several times a week.

“A Chef’s Guide to Losing Weight” – via Art of Manliness

What is your favorite album?

Some of you who read this are music people. As it is with music people, we love to discover new bands/artists/music as much as we can. Of course, there are always the old standards we come back to, and today for me, was one of the days I did just that.

All day today I had been meaning to listen to a particular album that I usually catch up on every couple of months or so. I don’t consider this to be an old album, but now that I look at the date of issue, I’m starting to realize it is older than I could believe. Neutral Milk Hotel’s 1998 release In the Aeroplane, Over the Sea. Fifteen years! How did it get this old, and more importantly, how did I get this old?

Neutral Milk Hotel – In the Aeroplane, Over the Sea

I’m talking about this album because tonight over dinner, I told my wife, as I was skimming through my iphone to stream the music to the speakers, that I’d intended on listening to this album all day and just never got around to it. I then told her it was my favorite album. I think I confused, or scared, or just caught her off-guard. She didn’t know what my favorite album was. Not terribly hard to believe. I do listen to a metric crap-ton (an old industry term) of music, a lot of it venturing out of what I would consider to be my favorites. I circle around to this album at least a few times a year, and it never gets old, so I guess I have considered it my favorite for quite some time now without ever really thinking about it.

So after starting the first track, she asked me a really hard question: “Why is this your favorite album?” How was I supposed to answer this? I just sat at the dinner table for a couple of seconds and decided to break it down into its elements instead of its emotional aspects.

In the Aeroplane, Over the Sea is my favorite album because it has a lo-fi folky-indie rock/alternative sound with melodic vocals. Its tempo swings from fierce, fast-paced grunge influenced rock to slow, folk inspired guitar strumming. Jeff Mangum’s voice stretches from these different sounds perfectly and yet sounds foreign and torn away from the music. Is it because it could be about Anne Frank? Is it because it had a wonderful arrangement of horns and organs?

How do you explain this album?

Stop! If you are a fan of this album as well, please don’t try. If you consider this album to be too short be worthy of a “favorite album” title, stop! I know. This isn’t an epic album. It doesn’t have some crazy story arc, or other type of concept (other than the whole, “nobody can confirm it” Anne Frank thing), I don’t care!

It makes me want to know what others would say their favorite album is, and if they could explain it. I mean really, can you?

Does this ever happen on a Mac?

I’m being serious in asking this question. Below is an example of what I am talking about, Java isn’t the only one doing this, but this seems pretty rampant on the Windows side of things. Ed Bott for ZDNet:

Java is the new king of foistware, displacing Adobe and Skype from the top of the heap.

And it earned that place with a combination of software update practices that are among the most user-hostile and cynical in the industry…

  • When you use Java’s automatic updater to install crucial security updates for Windows , third-party software is always included. The two additional packages delivered to users are the Ask Toolbar and McAfee Security Scanner.
  • With every Java update, you must specifically opt out of the additional software installations. If you are busy or distracted or naïve enough to trust Java’s “recommendation,” you end up with unwanted software on your PC.
  • IAC, which partners with Oracle to deliver the Ask toolbar, uses deceptive techniques to install its software. These techniques include social engineering that appears to be aimed at both novices and experienced computer users, behavior that may well be illegal in some jurisdictions.
  • The search page delivers inferior search results and uses misleading and possibly illegal techniques to deceive visitors into clicking paid ads instead of organic search results.

Has this ever happened on the Mac? Am I just naive to think it doesn’t, or lucky that I haven’t run into it? What is even more shocking, is how they trick experienced users:

In the background, the Ask toolbar installer continues to run, but it delays execution for 10 minutes. If you are a sophisticated Windows user and you missed the initial checkbox, your natural instinct at this point would be to open Control Panel and check Programs and Features. When you do, you will see that only the Java update has been installed. You might also check your browser settings to confirm that no changes have been made to your settings. You might conclude that you dodged a bullet and that the unwanted software wasn’t installed.

But you would be wrong. The Ask installer is still running, and after waiting 10 minutes, it drops two programs on the target system.

Seriously? I was a Windows admin in a former life before becoming a Mac guy. I would like to think I would have noticed it shortly after it did eventually install, but no system admin wants any software being installed, and mucking up the registry, when it shouldn’t be there in the first place.

Yes, I blame Java, specifically Oracle, but I also place a lot of this blame on Windows for even allowing this sort of thing to happen. Something that has been happening for years and years.


Quick-Capture Notes Apps

Scratch is a no-nonsense “scratch pad” app for your iPhone. It launches in a hot second, and greets you with a blank text-entry pane and blue blinking cursor. You are then free to type whatever it is you need to type out right now, and leave the fiddling to later when you have a few minutes.

via Shawn Blanc.

Pretty good rundown of note taking apps by a guy who actually uses note taking apps.

Aaron Swartz

Aaron’s death is not simply a personal tragedy. It is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach. Decisions made by officials in the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s office and at MIT contributed to his death. The US Attorney’s office pursued an exceptionally harsh array of charges, carrying potentially over 30 years in prison, to punish an alleged crime that had no victims. Meanwhile, unlike JSTOR, MIT refused to stand up for Aaron and its own community’s most cherished principles.

Official Statement from the family and partner of Aaron Swartz