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Get Out The Vote!

Posted 2011.04.06 16.58 in Pointless Blather by Stephanie

It seems like every election there’s at least some talk in the media about voter apathy. Some percentage or cross-section of the populace are disaffected, disinterested, disillusioned, or dis-whatever. Most-recently I read that it’s the youth that they fear aren’t going to get interested enough to get out and vote.

I can’t speak for the youth today, but I can say that when I was going-on 18, I couldn’t wait to vote. I was very eager for the opportunity to cast my ballot and have my voice heard, I saw it not as a right but as a responsibility or duty that every citizen was expected to fulfill.

In fact, my own experience is that apathy and age are directly proportionate – or maybe I’m thinking of cynicism… But I digress.

What I’m actually writing about today is how to get more people to vote, plain and simple.¬†As I see it, there are a few specific problems with our current system, which contribute to lower-than-desired voter turnout. If we address and correct those problems, then more people will vote. Let’s look at the problems one by one, below the fold.

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Blinkin’ Flashin’ Bliss

Posted 2010.12.15 0.57 in Computers/Internet/Technology by Stephanie

It’s a problem I’ve confessed to before. I love blinkin’ lights. LEDs, blinkins, flashins, flickering their magic little messages… and just recently, I’ve come across a wild and wonderful blinkin’ flasher that’s just plain blissful blinkin heaven.

Not only does it enchant and calm with it’s blinkins, but it also performs fun mathematical calculations. See, it’s based on Conway’s Game of Life.

It’s a GoL kit – modular boards, each with a 4×4 grid of cells (represented by LEDs). The boards can be linked to build larger and larger grids. I’ve started with 6 boards, for a 12 x 8 grid. It’s very addictive though. I already want to get another 6 boards and go to a 16×12 grid.

Here’s a short animation – it’s not perfect, there’s missing evolutions so the animation doesn’t exactly portray the way the game runs. But it’s close enough: a bunch of (seemingly) random flashes of LED light.


The Horrors Of E.D.

Posted 2008.12.03 1.00 in Computers/Internet/Technology by Stephanie

ED, or “Electronic Dysfunction”, is predominantly thought of as a problem of the older generation. However, it does occasionally strike young and otherwise healthy technology.

Earlier this week, I had settled down for the evening, looking to spend some quality time with my computer — a relatively spry 15-month old iMac. The evening started out well, things worked as planned. However, as the evening progressed, my iMac started to slow down, to stumble a bit. Even stalling at times. I attributed this to software lag, or internet lag — but those issues usually come and go, this was a case of a steadily worsening condition.

Then it happened… the computer siezed up completely. We’ve had lock-ups like this before. Rare, but they do happen. Particularily when using a certain program which shall remain nameless (I’m looking at you SecondLife). However, before I went for the full reboot, something new happened: The entire screen went black, then hard-drive errors started spewing all over the place. New, and nasty.

One reboot later and things were functioning again. Still, the hard drive errors troubled me, so I went into Disk Utility. And there it was. It was ED and it was confirmed. My iMac’s hard drive was no longer hard, and wasn’t driving.

What to do?! The iMac looks pretty but it’s not exactly easy to get in for a hard-drive swap. I fretted for a bit. It’s out of warranty. The thought of actually paying someone to fix my computer is intolerable. Then I remembered the Makers’ creed: If you can’t open it, you don’t own it. The iMac was not going to beat me. I would OWN this computer.

Turns out, the door to the (Aluminum,2007) iMac is through the screen! The glass panel is held on by magnets(!!) and you can pry it off with the right tools. Under the glass are a bunch of screws, that free the frame, then the actual screen itself covers up most of the electronic jiggery-pokery.

Skipping through the dull boring bits, I got my iMac open, got the screen out of the way, and extracted the droopy drive. I replaced it with a much bigger, much harder drive — I mean really, the only reason to put a 1TB drive in there is “because I can”. It was easy to put it all back together and now my iMac is all virile and strong again.

The message nobody wants to see.
The HardDrive message nobody wants to see.