Police State

September 29th, 2008

Big House Big Heart 5K Run

September 28th, 2008

On September 28, I ran the Big House Big Heart 5K run.  Leading up to this run, I was not running very often because of an ankle injury.  Mid-Summer I hurt my ankle, so I have been taking it easy the last few months.

I was pleased that I ended up improving my time since the last run I entered. I didn’t think that would happen.

30-34 Male
Place    Name                Tag Time   Pace     Place      by Sex
66       Balon,Nathan     25:38.8       8:15      702       547

The Revolution: a Manifesto

June 28th, 2008

I was a supporter of Ron Paul’s bid for the Presidency.  As a result, I ended up purchasing Ron Paul’s new book The Revolution: a Manifesto. Overall, I felt that this is a decent book. The only problem with it is that it doesn’t introduce many new ideas. I found this book very similar to Harry Browne’s Why Government Doesn’t Work. Both of these are good introduction into the Libertarian philosophy.

I believe that The Revolution: a Manifesto is geared to a general audience. For instance, it is a good book to give to others who aren’t familiar with Libertarian ideas. Overall, I found nothing wrong with this book. On the other hand, I didn’t learn anything new from it that I didn’t already know. I the one nice thing I found about the book are the references. I noticed that I have read a lot of the books that Ron Paul recommends. Overall, I think that one can learn more from the works of Murray Rothbard, Luwig Von Mises, Friedrich Hayek, or Frédéric Bastiat.

The one thing I found refreshing is that one Ron Paul is probably the only politician that regularly visits lewrockwell.com and The Mises Institute. These are sites that I also regularly visit.

The Revolution

Plymouth Father’s Day Run

June 15th, 2008

On Sunday, June 6, 2008 I ran the 5K Plymouth Father’s Day run with my family.  This was the second run that I have entered.  The first race that I ran was a few weeks back.  I was hoping to get around 27:00, since I finished with a 27:48 in the Dexter Ann Arbor Run.  These are the results for the Plymouth Father’s Day Run.

This is my placing for my age bracket for the Plymouth Father’s Day Run:

                         MALE AGE GROUP:  30 - 34

Place No.   O'A Name                       City              Ag 5k      Pace
===== ===== === ========================== ================= == ======= =====
 11  1272 207 Nathan Balon               Washington        34   26:03  8:23

I ended up with a 26:03, which is better than I expected.  I improved on my previous best time by 1:45.  I feel I should realistically be able to get my time down to 25:00 in the next month or so, which is my goal for the Summer.  I would also like to try some longer runs.  I typically run approximately 6 miles.  I would like to increase my distance by doing some longer runs (8 to 10 miles), before I enter any 10Ks.  The next run I plan on entering is either Gallup Gallop or the Tortoise and Hare, which are both in Ann Arbor.

Dexter - Ann Arbor Run

June 1st, 2008

On Sunday, June 1, I ran my first race, the the Dexter - Ann Arbor Run.   About a year ago I started running, and I occasionally run.  I never ran in the past, because I’m an ex-smoker.  While I smoked, I would have never considered running. However, since I have quit smoking, I have tried to live more healthy lifestyle.

At first, I wasn’t going to sign up for the running because recently I haven’t been running that often. But my Dad and his girlfriend, my soon to be step-mom, were going to run the race. I figured if they are going to do it then I should run it too.  I was initially going to sign up for the 10K, but since I had never run in a race before I decided to run an easier run first. I ended up registering for the 5K run. Overall, I was pleased with my time. My time for the 5k was 27:48.  My current goal is to get my time down to 25:00 by the end of the summer. I feel that this is a reasonable goal. I would also like to try to run the 10 mile Crim in August.

Penguicon 6.0

February 18th, 2008

Today, I registered for Penguicon 6.0, which is an annual science fiction and open source software convention held in Troy, Michigan. Last year was the first time that I had attend Penguicon, and I was very impressed by the conference. Penguicon may not be the most technical conference, but it is a good time and the guest speakers are outstanding. I didn’t attend any of the scifi talks, but all of the presentations I went to on open source were good last.

This year some of the big names that will be there are: Jono Bacon, Eric Raymond, Chris DiBonna, Benjamin Mako Hill, and Dr. Peter Salus. This is a unique and extremely good time. I would recommend this conference to anyone in the Mid-west area. Besides Penguicon, this year I would also like to attend HOPE and the Ohio Linux Fest.

Boston Globe Article

February 17th, 2008

This January, I went to New Hampshire for Operation Live Free or Die.  The goal of the Live Free or Die project was to help with the Ron Paul campaign leading up to the NH primary. Overall, it was one of the best trips I have ever been on. I was able to meet a lot of interesting people that shared similar views to mine, and at the same time I was able to donate my time to a good cause.

Outside the Ron Paul Campaing office in Concord, NH.

When I was in New Hampshire, I was interviewed by the Boston Globe while working at polling location in Concord, NH. I feel that I am somewhat misrepresented in this article.  I don’t think I ever told the reporter that I had any problem with the press.  On the other hand, I feel that Fox News should not have eliminated Ron Paul from the pre-primary debate.  I don’t have a problem with the press not reporting on Ron Paul. The reason I feel this way is news papers are there to make money, so they report on the candidates that they think the public is interested in. Also, anyone can start a news paper or magazine. Although circulation my not be large at first, there are not the barriers to enter the printing business that there are with TV. In the case of TV news, it is next to impossible to start a television station, because of the FCC regulations.  So, a few large corporations control what the American public watches. As far as the debate goes, because Fox eliminated Ron Paul it probably cost him a number of votes. Fox shouldn’t be able to exclude candidates simple because they don’t like them, when they have a government granted monopoly on the media.

A Reveiw of Professional Software Development

November 16th, 2007

A while back, I read the book Code Complete, by Scott McConnell. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Code Complete is full tips to make one a better programmer. It is written in a similar fashion as books such as The Pragmatic Programmer, Programming Pearls, or The Practice of Programming. Because I enjoyed reading Code Complete, I decided to tryout another McConnell book, and I purchased the book Professional Software Development from Amazon. I think I may have passed on this book if I browsed it first.

I feel that maybe half of the material in the book carries any relivance and it doesn’t really address any new topics. The basis of the book is that programmers make bad code, and standardized software engineering techniques should be used to improve software. For instance, McConnell talks about the drawback of the “Code and Fix Development” style. Where developers rush into the coding process without any planning. I wouldn’t say the book was a total waste to read, but I expected it to be better based on Code Complete.

The majority of the book is about how software engineers should be licensed in a similar manner as doctors, lawyers, and accountants are today. I tend to disagree with this opinion. I think that voluntary certification would be a better way to go then to have Government issued licenses for software engineers. I don’t see what good would come out of forcing software engineers to be licensed.

Overall, there is some good information in this book, so it is not a total waste of time to read. I would recommend getting a copy from a library rather than purchasing this book.

Professional Software Development

End of Binrev

November 15th, 2007

All good things come to an end at sometime or another. This happens to be the case with BinRev Radio. On this week’s episode, show number 200, StankDawg announced that the show has officially come to an end. I am very sad to hear that the show is ending. I found this show towards the end of 2003 beginning of 2004, and it became one of my favorite podcasts. For a number of years, I looked forward each weeks new episode. Once I started listening to Binrev, I never missed an episode.

I really appreciate the work that StankdDawg and his guests put into the show. Each week he had an interesting topic and was always passionate about teaching. I never contributed to BinRev, as StankDawg always pushed for people to become more involved, but I appreciate all of the hard work that was put into the show. Before listening to BinRev, I had the same misconceptions that most people have about the hacker community. This show ended up teaching me a lot and introducing me to some subjects that I knew little about. The show had a great four year run, and if someone has never heard it before I would recommend listening to the archieves of the show.

One Laptop Per Child Persentation at the MUG Meeting

November 15th, 2007

At first I was skeptical about attending a presentation about the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project at the /Michigan!/usr/group (MUG). So initially, I wasn’t going to go to this months MUG meeting. I figured the meeting wouldn’t be very technical and would only be about the benefit of the program. At the last minute, I decided to go, and I’m glad I went to the meeting. Ivan Krstić from the OLPC project put on a excellent presentation.

One thing I found interesting is the OLPC motivation for the project. Krstić explained that before children reach school they are inquisitive and want to know how everything works. It very similar to the hacker mindset. But once children reach school, their education becomes authoritarian based. It is no longer acceptable to question how and why things work the way they do. I had never thought about the education system in the United States this way. This is probably one of the reasons that I disliked school. I didn’t like school until college where I was able to take the basic knowledge I gained and further explore it and research the topics I found interesting. So from what I was able to gain from the presentation, the main reason the OLPC project was started was to empower the youth in developing countries and give them the tools to conduct their own research.

After giving the motivation for the project, Krstić explained the technical details of the laptops. I had no idea of the innovations involved in making this project a reality. To begin, the laptops had to be extremely cheap to manufacture. Next, the power consumption of the laptop had to be much lower than the average laptop. These constraints seemed very similar to those that exist in the field of sensor networks. One thing I found impressive is almost all of the programs on the laptop were ported to Python. So for the curious students, they can modify the source code of their application to see the effect of their changes. The laptop also had a show source button. This button would display the source code in an IDE for the application that is currently running on the laptop. Krstić also went on to explain his part of the project, which is creating a security model for years olds. This problems is more difficult than it appears at first because it can’t be assumed that a five year old can read.

After seeing the presentation, I was very impressed with the direction of the OLPC project. If I had a small child, I would try to get them one of these laptops through the “Give One Get One” program.