Friday, September 17, 2010

IE9 or XP, one has to go

The internet seems to be at an interesting crossroad. Windows XP is, according to Microsoft's statistics, used almost equally with Windows 7 finally, despite XP no longer being supported.

With the beta release of Internet Explorer 9, though, XP users are finally seeing this in terms that might be real enough to notice. If you're on XP, Microsoft isn't giving you IE9, and at a critical time as the internet shifts from HTML4 and CSS2 to HTML5 and CSS3, enabling all manner of content delivery which will be the internet for most people. If your webmail or social network requires HTML5 features, IE8 will be dead to you.

Microsoft assumes this leaves one path going forward - everyone pay up and get your Windows 7 so you can have "the internet" back. What I think they fail to realize is that the money-spending public is not the computer neophyte crowd that were in the critical age bracket back when the blue "e" was mistaken for the symbol of the internet. While most people use Internet Explorer when visiting Microsoft's website (because IE used to be the only one that worked there due to intentionally bad site design), the statistics on other websites are much different. W3C, for example, shows a steady decline in IE usage, down to 30.7% this month, with Firefox clearly leading and Chrome gaining ground fast.

So is it more likely that someone will pay for a whole new operating system, which likely requires a new computer, re-installation or repurchase of various software, setting up new profiles and reconfiguring old accounts? Or will those who feel XP "still works fine" for them, just stop using Internet Explorer and switch to one of the browsers that already supports the new standards better than what IE9 is expected to do when it finally comes out at some vague point in the future?

Even I still have an XP machine at home that I use regularly. It's days are numbered (possibly in single digits...), but I still use it. And I only open Ineternet Explorer when testing compatibility. Internet Explorer 8 is already a dead browser for me on a personal level. If a programmer like me doesn't see the dire need to upgrade to 9, and therefore Windows 7, why does Microsoft think this is going to work?

My suspicion is that this will not be the death knell of the Internet Explorer empire, but the capitol has at least moved to CSStantinople while the "barbarians" gather siege weapons in their WebKit. Just as the Romans before them, the empire fell from within, the "barbarians" were merely the power that rose up in their place.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Agile Cod'ing? Another geek fish recipe.

I made this last night, but was too stuffed to type it up. It's better for serving two rather than one. Seasoning is based on the amount of sauce, not the fish, so don't scale up if you don't need more sauce.

Cod & pasta recipe:
  • 1-2 Cod fillet
  • Olive oil
  • 15oz Tomato sauce
  • 1/2tsp Onion powder
  • 1/2tsp Garlic powder
  • 1tsp Oregano (flakes)
  • 1tsp White pepper (ground)
  • 2tsp Ancho pepper (ground)
  • Parsley flakes
  • Pasta

(Measurements approximate)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees (F).
Pour tomato sauce into glass baking dish. Stir in onion, garlic, oregano, white pepper, ancho pepper.
Spray or brush olive oil onto fillets on both sides, then put into the sauce. Cover with the sauce thickly.
Sprinkle parsley flakes over the top of the fish lightly (this would also be where you might add cheeses if you prefer that), then put into the oven for 21 minutes (fish should flake easily with a fork when ready).

While this is cooking, boil your pasta. Preferably timed so that you’ve finished straining the pasta shortly before the fish is done baking. I used shells (conchiglie), but it would be better with flat noodles, such as linguini, mafaldine, farfalle (bow ties).

Once everything is cooked, plate the pasta, then place the fish on the pasta carefully with the sauce and any cheese or parsley you added still over it. Stir the remaining sauce in the pan, then pour it over the pasta.

Make a cute portmanteau of “cod” and whatever pasta you used (eg. “codinguini”) and serve.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Last American on the Moon

On the anniversary of the first moon landing, I'm again bothered by a quote that has always left a painful lump in my throat:
"I always knew I would see the first man on the moon. I never dreamed I would see the last." -Jerry Pournelle
On July 20th, 1969, mankind achieved it's first footprint on a world other than our own. The first baby step towards the vast universe beyond our atmosphere. On December 19, 1972, the last man to ever set foot on the moon returned to earth, but it wasn't the same earth that Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins had left three years earlier. Everyone to some extent knew the world would change once mankind reached the moon, but I doubt anyone predicted that the change would be boredom. After only six flights to the moon, the world, or more precisely, the American public was willing to let NASA fall into the background and do their work with only quiet news articles now and then. And so the ax fell on the budget for mankind's greatest achievement in exploration, and with it the hope of going farther.

In recent years, disasters which killed a handful of very talented astronauts have made people forget one very important fact - the brave people who choose to go into space do so knowing that they may not make it back. They are pioneers who believed the greater risk was not to their lives, but to the future of mankind if they did not go.

With further cutbacks, the nation that once looked into space and to a President who quite literally promised us the moon, now is a nation whose greatest collective aspirations amount to athletic events and socio-political shifts that seem so important at the time, but are largely forgotten by the next year.

Make no mistake, though. Mankind will be back to the moon. There will be a human outpost there. There will be habitable satellites and publicly accessible transportation to space in time. But Americans aren't the only ones with a history of looking upward.

This isn't a criticism of the current politicians, but a concern for the state of the public mindset. It is "we the people" who the nation stands for, and it is "we the people" who must -want- a future beyond what we have now.

If we are no longer a nation that dares to dream big, and invest in the futures those dreams provide, what will the first child born on the moon read of us in the history books? Will we be the nation that risked it's best and brightest to build a future, or will we be like the nations of Europe, giving up our manifest destiny in favor of social structures that barely address a single lifetime?

History records ascendancy of nations over the empires that came before them many times over. As the "new world", we are merely the most recent. At the crucial moment of history when mankind colonizes space, we do not want to be the shunned former world power who gets left behind. If we are not leading the charge into space, can we really expect passage when someone else boldly goes into the future we didn't budget for?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Successful dinner

As some of you might know, I experiment with food rather than cook it properly with recipes and the like. This one is simple enough that someone probably has already written it, but I didn't see it with a cursory Google search.

This is blogworthy because there was NO microwaving involved, and it wasn't a disaster.

1 Tilapia fillet (I bought individually wrapped frozen from Schnucks)
1/4tsp each of salt, lemon zest (peel), white pepper
2-3 fresh/frozen cayenne peppers
Foil & water

1 cup Bow Tie pasta
Salt & water

First, I thawed the fish. This took a while. They suggest thawing overnight in the fridge, but alternatively allow you to thaw it in cool water.
Second, I rubbed the salt, lemon zest and white pepper evenly over the fish and set it in foil, making a bowl shape with the foil.
Third, I slitted (cut, but not all the way through) the cayenne peppers and arranged them around the fish.
Fourth, I added about a tablespoon of water along with the juices from the bag the fish came in.
I closed the foil, leaving a vent hole in it, and baked that for about 17 minutes at 400°F.

While that cooked, I prepared Bow Tie pasta, putting that on the plate once it was done. I don't like mine al dente, but you might, and instructions vary by the pasta, so read the side of the box for how to cook that.

I took the tilapia out and carefully lifted it out of the foil and onto the "bed" of pasta. It fell apart on me, so I should have been more careful.

As an anti-vegetarian, this was a very successful medium effort meal. More effort than the microwave (sorry), but tasted so much better and was so much more moist.

I'm pretty sure this can be done over a campfire as well, though you're probably not going to catch frozen tilapia while out camping, and keeping your campfire at 400°F is a little tricky. ;)