Monday, November 16, 2009

Computing as we will soon know it.

If you want to know what computing will look like in the near future all you need to do is watch this video from TED.  It showcases Sixth-Sense technology.
Once this technology matures I believe we will interact with it through a pair of contact lense and an extremely small hearing aid.  This device will allow us to get all sorts of meta data about our surroundings and probably completely replace all of our traditional ways of interacting with computers.
As we drive the road in front of us will literally light up in front of us, showing us how to get where we are going.  We will also always be aware of the speed limit and have access any other information about the roads.  For example, we may know that a deaf child lives up ahead, or there is a better way to our destination based on the traffic situation in the present city.
While walking a nature trail we can get information about any relevant historical information, such as perhaps a famous explorer walked it hundreds of years ago, or find out about the plants and animals we see.  We could see which plants are edible and which are poisonous.  If we catch a fish we could immediately know if it is of legal size to keep.
When meeting people we could look up their profile on the currently popular social networks through facial recognition.  We could then know that they are interested in certain topics you are also interested in and strike up a conversation.  Or you could meet someone at a bar and find out that they are a known sleaze bag, and then take them home.
The possibilities are endless, and the benefits can be enormous. 

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Scanning Problems in Ubuntu Karmic 9.10

I went to scan in some pictures today with my new Karmic install and ran into problems.  When I went to scan I would get "Failed to start scanner: Invalid argument"  Some Googling revealed that many people are experiencing broken scanning after upgrading to Karmic with various printers.  A little more searching revealed the solution.  I think that there is probably an even better solution, but this is how I got scanning to work.
First I installed libsane-extras:
sudo aptitude install libsane-extras
Next I edited saned.conf to enable the epson driver.
gksudo gedit /etc/init.d/sane.d/dll.conf
In this file I removed the # at the line that read #epson
To get the parameters for me scanner I ran:

$ sane-find-scanner

  # sane-find-scanner will now attempt to detect your scanner. If the
  # result is different from what you expected, first make sure your
  # scanner is powered up and properly connected to your computer.

  # No SCSI scanners found. If you expected something different, make sure that
  # you have loaded a kernel SCSI driver for your SCSI adapter.

found USB scanner (vendor=0x04b8, product=0x0839) at libusb:001:003
found USB scanner (vendor=0x0bc7 [X10 Wireless Technology Inc], product=0x0004 [USB Receiver]) at libusb:007:002
  # Your USB scanner was (probably) detected. It may or may not be supported by
  # SANE. Try scanimage -L and read the backend's manpage.

  # Not checking for parallel port scanners.

  # Most Scanners connected to the parallel port or other proprietary ports
  # can't be detected by this program.

  # You may want to run this program as root to find all devices. Once you
  # found the scanner devices, be sure to adjust access permissions as
  # necessary.

Here the line that read "found USB scanner (vendor=0x04b8, product=0x0839) at libusb:001:003" was the key.  These parameters needed to go in the epson drivers file.
gksudo gedit /etc/init.d/sane.d/epson.conf
I replaced the line that read "usb" to read "usb 0x4b8 0x0839"  Finally I just needed to restart the sane daemon.
sudo /etc/init.d/saned restart
After this scanning finally worked.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Being A Parent Is Hard

Being a parent is hard.  The life of a parent is filled with meeting other people's needs, and neglecting many of his or her own.
Today's examples:
It seems I cannot go a morning where at least one of the girls doesn't have a major meltdown.  On the surface getting ready in the morning would appear to be a routinely trivial task.  The reality is that every morning is drama.  The hard thing for me to accept is that I have no control over this.
I try to make it as easy as I can.  I put Aurora and Athena in my bed, put on an episode of Pink Panther and completely dress the girls myself, and do their hair.  Pink Panther gives them a reason to open their eyes and stay awake as I dress them.  By the time I am done each girl is completely awake and dressed.  They have only two tasks to prepare for the day, brush their teeth and put on their shoes.
Without fail at least one girl will throw a major fit over at least one of  these tasks.  Usually more than one task involves a fit.  This morning it was Aurora and her shoes, and Athena had a slight problem with brushing her teeth.  Every morning Arianna has a big fit about us brushing her teeth.  Since I do everything else for all the girls, I make Arianna's teeth Kim's task.

On the way to drop Arianna off at daycare a lady did not break in time and had to pull to the right of me to prevent from rear-ending me.  By the time she came to a complete stop half of her SUV was beside my van, effectively putting her nose in Arianna's back had she not stopped.  Then when the traffic started back up she pulled forward real fast and cut in front of me.  This lady just about put my baby in serious physical danger, and then used it as an opportunity to cut me off.  It's times like this I have to use mental will-power to not let road rage get the best of me.

Aurora has tennis practice on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5 - 6.  I don't get off work until 4:30, and practice is on the other side of town, so Kim takes her almost all the time.  Today Kim called me and asked if I would do it.  I agreed, and she said she'd meet me at day care to give me the tennis racket from her car.
Not paying attention to the fact that Aurora needs to be there at 5:00 I get a call from Kim at 4:50 as I'm shutting down my computer reminding me that I completely messed up tennis practice for the day.  Aurora really looks forward to tennis practice and has been pretty upset in the past when we've had to miss it.
I felt really bad and wanted to make it up.  I was going to take her to the park but when I looked outside I realized it's that time of year when it begins getting dark really early.  Instead I headed up to Publix and bought some ice cream.
It turned out Aurora was not as upset as usual, but she was happy to see that ice cream would be following dinner.

As soon as I placed the ice cream in the freezer I made dinner, with only a little bit of room in between serving everyone I had a quick chance to actually eat myself.
While I was eating Aurora had a major melt down because she's hates having to actually put work into doing homework (she is spoiled because pretty much everything tailored to someone her age is completely below her abiliites and is finished without effort.)  In stead of working hard she completely broke down yelling at people, being nasty to Kim, and slouching down kicking everything around her.
Next Judith called.  When Aurora spoke to her Judith told her that she should visit the Smithsonian Kids website, so we did that after dinner to help her calm down from homework.
Afterwards it was back to homework, which she finally finished and I knocked out the kitchen while Kim tended to the other two girls.  After the kitchen was done, and Arianna's lunch was packed, I read Arianna two books and put her to bed.  Kim, worn out and half asleep by this time read the other two girls their books while I took a shower.
Once out of the shower Kim was asleep with the two girls crawling all over her.  I then put them to bed, a process which takes about ten minutes as I talk to them and tuck them in.  Then Arianna declares she needs to go potty.
When it was all said and done I woke up at 6:45am, it is now 9:00pm and I finally have a moment to myself.

And such is my daily life.  Very little of my day was spent for me, and none of my day had any time for my wife.  It is no wonder so many parents do such a poor job.  It is so tempting to take shortcuts, like giving my children empty-calorie TV dinners, packing lunchables for lunch, yelling at them in stead of effectively working things out (actually there is more yelling going on at times than I'd like to admit), sitting them in front of a TV all afternoon, etc.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Battlestar Galactica

I just finished watching the entire season of the original Battlestar Galactica TV Show that aired in 1978.  The series started off rough with some sub-par acting and some frequent plot gaps.  The last five episodes where fairly solid and I was saddened when the final episode ended, knowing the show was canceled right as it was starting to peak in almost every aspect.
I would like to at some point watch the 1983 continuation.  It is not available online for free, though I may buy the entire season from Amazon as a download for $7 if I feel up to it.
I am now on to watching Start SG-1.