Coup at political convention

Today I attended the 2006 Texas Senate District 16 Republican Convention. Towards the end of the convention, the attendees adopted or rejected 18 resolutions that represent SD16’s recommendations to revise the Texas Republican Party Platform. These resolutions were ones that trickled up from the precinct conventions and made it past the SD16 Resolutions Committee. The resolutions that convention approve go on to the June state convention’s Resolutions Committee.

One proposed amendment was to change a sentence like this: “… address the real problems …” of something or other. (The underlined/bolded word represents a proposed addition.)

An attendee motioned to amend the proposal to change “real” to “actual.”

At that point, I got up and delivered this short speech:

Regardless of whether we use “real” or “actual,” all we are doing is excluding “unreal” or “imaginary” problems. I’m sure people already know to exclude “unreal” or “imaginary” problems. Such pedantic language doesn’t accomplish anything and doesn’t need to be in the platform.

This wouldn’t win any extemperaneous speech contests. Regardless, I got a lot of chuckles. That statement shut down the debate, and the “real” and “actual” proposals were soundly defeated.

After the convention, a lawyer asked if I have an English degree. I assured her that I am just a lowly Computer Science major.

Ditching my Nova SS email handle

If you have received emails from my private email account since 1995, the email probably showed my name as “Nova SS.” I adopted that name my freshman year at SMU because I had so closely identified myself with my (now-departed) ’74 Chevrolet Nova. Yes, that was a “Nova,” not a “Nova SS” as in Nova Super Sport. I didn’t chose “Nova” because I didn’t want to be mistaken for a left-wing hippie practitioner of a watered down amalgam of eastern religions. I chose “Nova SS” because that most clearly associated me with the decidedly non-Earth worshipping, gas guzzling, air dirtying, PITA but strangely enjoyable car.

My emails should now come across as just “Aren Cambre.” I am doing this mainly because “Aren Cambre” is less likely to resemble spam than “Nova SS.” Also, people less familiar with my Nova obsession–which is an increasing number since the car has been gone for over 19 months–may not immediately recognize that Nova SS is really me.

Don’t worry: I still like Novas, and if the right Nova at the right price shows up locally, it will end up in my garage. This is merely a logistical change.

Web Email Programs

I want to switch to a web email program. It would be handy to have instant access to all my email no matter where I am. I wouldn’t be tied to a specific computer to get my “full” email experience.

I use Outlook 2003 for email. It’s great: fast email searches (with Google Desktop), uses Word as the email creator (so I get all of Word’s strengths), great sorting capabilities, messages can be grouped by conversation (great for seeing replies), built-in image handling (you can crop, resize, and resample images from within the email creation process), and so on. But when I download my email, it permanently stays on my home computer. I can’t get to the downloaded emails again until I am back on that machine.

The current web email programs aren’t up to the task yet.

Hotmail, like most of Microsoft’s online services, is a joke. It lags far behind Google and Yahoo, and it’s not worth any more column space. I don’t understand how a company capable of innovative products, like Windows Vista, Office, the .Net Framework and C#, and Visual Studio, can suck so badly at online services. What gives?

Google’s Gmail is a strong contender, and it has come a long way. It still has serious shortcomings, one of which is no way to mark all messages as read. This is a problem when your Google inbox has 12,157 unread messages piling up (here’s an explanation—note that it is about 10 months after that post). While innovative, Google has a history of arrogance when deciding on user features. Also, when you log into Gmail, you stay logged into Google when you do searches. Do I want Google tracking my searches like that?

Yahoo Mail may be my best bet. Yahoo’s current online mail program is far better than Hotmail (what isn’t?), but it still lags behind Gmail. Yahoo’s revolutionary, next generation online email client should be awesome—taking all of Gmail’s advantages and working them into a much better interface. Once this comes out, I may ditch Outlook and go full-time with an online mail reader.

DSL on the fritz!

UPDATE (11:10 AM): The technician thinks he fixed the problem by changing “pairs” at SBC’s neighborhood phone box. I think this means that my line was punched down to a defective location in the box. Anyway, the bandwidth problem should now be fixed.

UPDATE (10:03 AM): This morning, my full 1.5 Mb/s downstream bandwidth returned. The tech is getting bad readings even behind the house. He said the problem is so bad that he was surprised we are getting any DSL signal at all. He is checking further downstream to see what is going on. Fortunately, because the readings behind the house were bad, it’s very likely they won’t bill me for this.

Original article:

If I had blog software where you rate your current mental state, it would be “annoyed.” This afternoon, I noticed that my internet connection dramatically slowed down. SBC’s speed check site shows my download speeds are running between 5% and 10% of the normal 1.5 Mb/s, but upload speeds are 100% of the normal 384 Kb/s. Huh?

I checked several things but couldn’t fix it. I even swapped DSL modems with a neighbor’s. SBC tech support was no help. So tomorrow, an SBC line technician is coming to my house to check things out. This guy comes with the ominous provision that if they determine the problem is my fault, I get billed. What is the actual problem? How much does an SBC technician cost? Those unanswered questions are driving me up the wall.

I strongly feel that SBC is at fault. I don’t understand how I could do anything that could hose downloads but not affect upload speeds. If my equipment was faulty, it seems that both upload and download speeds would be affected.

Oh, well, I’ll find out more tomorrow!