November 6th, 2012
Millions of people will walk out of their local polling facility today feeling as if they have done a really good thing. We’re taught that voting is our civic duty; good citizens go out and vote at least once every four years. If you don’t vote, then you’re spitting in the face of those who fought for your right to do so. Many of these people, who proudly display their “I voted” stickers, fail to realize that filling in the ballot is only half of our civic duty.
The other half of our civic duty is knowing for whom to vote. Some people vote based on their party lines and never look at other options, others are even less informed and they copy the sample ballot that was handed to them onto their real ballot, but some actually do research – ignoring the party affiliation of the candidates – and vote on the issues. I fall in the latter category, of course, otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this.
So the question is: if you voted based on political party without doing any research or hearing other sides, did you really complete your civic duty? I suggest that you did not. In fact, voting within party lines without researching is what has got us into the situation we find ourselves in today. Those voters, who I believe are the majority, have given complete control to the Democratic and Republican parties. Those voters are driving the Democratic and Republican parties ever closer to each other (though they would maintain that the parties are vastly different), giving us even less choice every four years.
I’m not suggesting that voting for the Democratic or Republican candidate is an invalid or incorrect vote. If you’ve done your research and you’ve decided that yes, Barrack Obama or Mitt Romney does match up with what’s important to you – more power to you; you’ve voted honestly. But if you did your research and found someone you really like, but feel that they “can’t win” and decided to cast your vote for the “lesser of two evils,” you’ve really done a disservice to your fellow Americans and the entire world. That may seem harsh but I really don’t think it is. The point of voting is not to get the other guy out, it’s to get the best guy (man or woman, of course) in office.
Now that the campaigns are effectively over, we can all take a deep breath and look at what we’ve done. It will be interesting to see the outcome in the next few days; but no matter what happens, 50% of America will be displeased with the result. Doesn’t it seem strange that after the votes are tabulated, the “winner” was only chosen by 50% of American voters? The other 50% didn’t want that candidate to be elected! However, that’s how our first-passed-the-post system is engineered to work. It is probably one of the worst ways to vote, honestly. If we want to fix our issues and make elections truly fair, we need to move toward a new voting mechanism. I suggest you look into range voting (more on that later).
November 1st, 2012
Here’s a quick one. I was reading an article and I had to keep scrolling in order to make the content of the article readable. It was obscured by a sharing toolbar which doesn’t have an option to hide or close the toolbar. Luckily, I’m using Chrome which includes developer tools (as do most other browsers), allowing me to easily get rid of this nuisance:
- Right-click on the element you’d like to remove.
- Select “Inspect Element” (or similar, depending on your browser).
- Hover over the elements in the developer panel that pops up, and find the outermost element that is obstructing your view.
- Right click the element’s tag and click “Delete node” (or similar).
- Et voilà!
October 31st, 2012
One annoyance I’ve come across more and more as of late is developers putting form labels inside form fields. For example, while reading an online petition, I was entering my info in the form on the right side of the page (and to the right of this text). I was doing this in Chrome so I can’t speak to other browsers and how they handle this type of form – but in Chrome, since the fields already had text in them (the labels for the fields), I didn’t get any auto-fill options.
Generally, when I fill out a form that’s asking for this sort of standard data, I go into the first field (in this case, email) and enter a couple of characters and then immediately hit the down arrow on my keyboard and then hit enter. Chrome uses my stored data to populate the rest of the form. It didn’t work in this case and I found that annoying. Since the value of the field has been set to the label of the field, Chrome looks at the field’s value and sees that it has already been filled in – so it doesn’t offer to auto-fill those fields.
The reason a designer may choose to layout a form like this is because it takes up less room and, once it’s filled in, it looks kind of nice to not see the labels. With most fields, after you’ve completed them, you know what that field is based on the value it now contains. However, this method only works well with text fields. Have a look at the state drop down, it has no indication of what goes there – when I focus the field, I do get a nifty pop up indicating that I should select my state – that helps. But it leads to a user experience that is not consistent Why should the labeling of a drop down behave differently from a text box? And how would the designer make a radio button or check-box blend into these other form fields and use labeling that looks and acts the same? (It can be done, of course, but does it need to be?)
The solution, in this case, would be to revert to a traditional method to display this form. I’ve mocked up the original form in a way that I think doesn’t detract from the display that much while making it much more clear what you’re supposed to do with these fields. (The text being lower case, not having a semicolon after the field label and right-aligning the labels are all optional.) This version does take up one more line of space since the last name field was moved below the first name field. This version of the form will also allow auto-fill to work.
October 13th, 2012
Preface: I have been using Windows 8 for a couple of weeks now and I do like it. People were freaked out that the Start menu is now a Start screen – but it does not slow down productivity at all – no big deal!
I have two gripes about Jump Lists:
- I have a Visual Studio 2010 shortcut pinned to my taskbar and set to always run as Administrator. However, when launching a recent or pinned solution from the jump list, VS doesn’t start in Administrator mode. This makes the Jump List pointless. This worked fine in Windows 7. The workaround is obvious: open VS as Administrator and then use the Recent Projects menu to load the solution I want. But it is a pain.
- To find an app I press the Windows key and then start typing. The new Start screen automatically shows applications matching whatever I typed. However, I jump lists don’t show up here – so I can’t directly launch a pinned or recently opened document. This is annoying since I don’t use some applications often, but when I do, I generally open the same set of files. I have a couple of documents pinned to Excel but I can’t launch them from the Start screen directly. Now, I could pin Excel to my taskbar and the jump list would work fine from there – but I don’t want seldom-used apps in my taskbar!
September 20th, 2012
Obviously I’m a big Gary Johnson supporter. If you don’t believe me, you can read evidence supporting this case. I’ve attended two of the Online Town Halls that Gary1 has hosted. In case you missed any, you can view them all on Vokle. The most recent one, held on September 19th, was great; Gary got fired up at least a few times. You can see his passion and excitement, and it feels real – not as if he’s acting.
Anyway, I submitted a question and was picked to participate via video, here’s that clip:
1 Yes, I can call him “Gary” because he’s a regular guy; a real guy’s guy.
September 12th, 2012
The internet is worried. Scared may be a better term to use. Why not both? The internet is worried and scared that a Libertarian candidate, Gary Johnson (who expects to be on the ballot in all 50 states and DC), will take votes away from Obama or Romney. I’ve read numerous articles from around the web - some claim that Johnson votes will come from the Obama side, others claim they will come from the Romney side. Obama supporters are nervous about this because those votes that go to Johnson instead of Obama may be enough to elect Romney as the next President. Romney supporters are nervous for the same reason: Johnson’s votes may come from Romney and could cause Obama to be re-elected President.
It seems that there are only a couple of reasons for voting this year1.
- If you don’t want Obama to be re-elected, you will vote for Romney.
- If you don’t want Romney to be elected, you will vote for Obama.
That is to say, people seem to be planning to vote not for who they really want, but instead for the person that they “don’t want less” – in other words, the “lesser of two evils.” To me, this is a very interesting and hard-to-understand way to vote for our next leader. I offer a simple yet elegant solution to this problem. The charts below should help to illustrate this solution. The outcome in all situations is the best outcome – you may call it the “perfect solution.”
As these three charts clearly illustrate, we have at least three choices this November. I encourage Those who are voting for “the lesser of two evils” to instead vote for “the better, non-evil” candidate – Gary Johnson. We need new blood in the Whitehouse. Someone with new ideas (or at least ideas that make sense) who will work for us instead of corporations. Although the solution proposed here may seem silly, it really is this simple: do your research and vote for who you actually want2.
1 Sure some people want Obama or Romney, but it seems most are not in that situation.
2 If you’re not sure who that is, take a quiz to figure it out.
September 11th, 2012
Don’t get me wrong, Ron Paul is a great guy – it’s unfortunate that he got screwed over by his own party. I voted for him in the primary and was excited at how well he was doing during that process. Now that Ron Paul is no longer running for President, I want to urge his supporters to look toward Gary Johnson, who will be on the ballot in all 50 states (a couple are not confirmed yet but let’s be hopeful) and DC. I see a lot of comments from people who are planning on writing in Ron Paul on their ballot – that’s a bad idea. Ron Paul is not registered as a write-in candidate. Writing him in would do nothing other than (possibly) send a message that what the RNC did to him was wrong.
There’s a better way to send that message. Instead of writing in Ron Paul, check the box next to Gary Johnson. He shares many of the same stances as Paul and even endorsed him in 2008. Ron Paul sort of returned the favor, though he didn’t officially endorse Johnson, saying “I think [Gary Johnson is] wonderful, and I think he’s doing a good job and people should look at him and every individual should make up his own mind.” Close enough, right?
For more information:
September 11th, 2012
In reading article after article about Gary Johnson and his run for presidency, it never fails that someone will leave the standard “a vote for X is a vote for Y” comment. Either that or “a vote for X is a wasted vote.” Well, I see it the other way around. Comments such as these are simply scare tactics to keep a 3rd party candidate from garnering support.
If I wanted to waste a vote, I would vote for someone I didn’t fully believe in. For me (and many others), that would mean voting for someone who doesn’t want to make any real changes to the way this country is run. Two candidates fall under this category in this election: Obama and Romney. A large majority of people seem to think that Obama and Romney are the only candidates in the race this year – and that’s exactly what you’re supposed to think.
It should be no secret that the entire political system in this country is rigged to not actually work for the people or offer opportunity for change. It’s been this way for a long time but more and more people are realizing it. Especially after the shenanigans at the Republic National Convention last month (this also happened at the DNC but the RNC move actually had a direct effect on the candidacy). People are starting to see this two party system for the sham that it is. The people really have no control over who is elected – sure, we cast our votes, but in the end we’re usually voting for about the same thing no matter which box we check on the ballot.
Free-thinking Americans are starting to get fed up with the system and it’s about time we start to move toward change. Or should we wait until the economy completely folds as the deficit gets larger and larger? I hope that people will take a fresh look at their options this election and really vote for whom they feel best fits with their stance on the issues (you can find the answer to that question by taking a quiz - you may be surprised by the outcome).
Talk about the issues with your friends and family and talk about who you think will actually try to fix them. Your political views don’t have to be private. The point is, instead of wasting your vote on the lesser of two evils (who would vote for evil?), vote for the man who has an actual plan to fix the deficit and return actual freedom to Americans.
I hope you’ll join me in supporting and voting for Gary Johnson in November – or you can vote for the same-old-same-old and we can remain the laughing stock of the World.
For more information:
July 19th, 2012
I needed to create and then submit a form using jQuery. After codin’ it up, all that was happening was the current page was being “refreshed.” So I broke it down into a simple test:
<a href="" onclick="test()">Test!</a>
var form = $("<form>")
.attr("value", "hot dogs rule"));
The issue, in this case, was that the
a tag had an empty
href. So after the
onclick event fired, the browser immediately sent a request for the blank href – this basically was reloading the page. The new form was setup correctly and it possibly submitted correctly, too. The browser was just too quick and reloaded the current URL so the form post could not be completed.
The fix is simple. I changed the
href from blank to “#” so the browser would not try to reload the current URL. Another possible fix is to stop the
onclick event from bubbling up; not sure if that would have worked or not.
July 10th, 2012
I just installed the latest and greatest version of MySQL Server – version 5.5. However, the service wouldn’t start after the install completed. So I did the normal investigative steps: Event Viewer, MySQL logs, etc. Nothing really told me what went wrong. Googling also didn’t help.
So I said to myself, “just break it down to brass tacks and get this thing running, bro!” And I did just that. I checked the service and notices the path to the executable looked like it could potentially cause some issues:
“C:\Program Files\MySQL\MySQL Server 5.5\bin\mysqld” –defaults-file=”C:\ProgramData\MySQL\MySQL Server 5.5\my.ini” MySQL Server 5.5
Notice the last portion, the service name, is not in quotes. The default service name during the installation is “MySQL55,” but I figured since this is 2012, that a service name should be able to look a little less…old…so I changed it to “MySQL Server 5.5″. Now, as I made this change I was fully aware that I was putting spaces somewhere that could potentially cause an issue (if the spaces weren’t handled correctly). But I continued forward to test my fate. Lo and behold, my intuition was right. Changing the executable path in the Registry Editor, adding quotes around the service name, fixed the issue:
“C:\Program Files\MySQL\MySQL Server 5.5\bin\mysqld” –defaults-file=”C:\ProgramData\MySQL\MySQL Server 5.5\my.ini” “MySQL Server 5.5″
So if you are as picky as I am and want things to look clean and pretty – maybe this will help you when you run into the issue during your next MySQL installation!