Richard Tallent’s occasional blog

Political post ahead…

I was trying to explain yesterday why my beliefs lean to left libertarianism (i.e., somewhat close to democratic socialism), and how that has absolutely nothing to do with Marxist Socialism or Communism. In short, it’s because I believe the government is not the enemy, nor is business. Instead, the enemy is *unfettered* corporate power and *unchecked* government. We check corporate powers through a combination of free-market capitalism (voting with our feet), unions, and where those are ineffective (and they are in a number of broad classes of corporate abuse), we use the law and the courts to regulate them. Read more →

A Meaningful Backup Strategy for Photographers

For the second time in the past few weeks, I’ve heard of a photographer who lost many years’ worth of work due to their computer and drives being stolen. This has caused me to start re-evaluating my own backup strategy, and I thought I would share a few notes about what I’ve already learned and how I’m planning to improve my own data security. IMHO, a good backup strategy involves five prongs: good drives, local live backup, local online backup, remote backup, and portable backup. Read more →

Why House Batteries are an Unsustainable Idea

I greatly admire Elon Musk. He’s like one part Steve Jobs, one part Tony Stark, and he has a knack for making the impossible both possible and profitable. And usually just plain damned cool. But his latest idea, batteries for houses to store solar energy, makes zero economic sense for the vast majority of US homes. The sale pitch is as follows: Make energy while the sun shines but you’re at work. Read more →

Zero Tolerance for DWI

A friend of a number of my friends was killed yesterday by a drunk driver. Not just any run-of-the-mill drunk, but one that had at multiple DWIs on his record. As a result, my Facebook feed is full of calls for Texas to get stricter on sentencing for intoxication manslaughter, and comments range from “no parole” to “death penalty.” IMHO, this may serve our collective need for revenge, but it doesn’t address the core problem — drunk drivers are generally habitual, and tough sentencing for murdering someone with their car will absolutely not deter them. Read more →

Making Word 2010 Show ONE PAGE AT A TIME

I’ve been fighting with Word 2010 at work for months, trying to figure out how to simply view a document the way I want — ONE page at a time (not side by side), but also zoomed in to a comfortable reading level. Unfortunately, some asshole code weenie at Microsoft decided that Word 2010 would ALWAYS show pages side by side UNLESS you either (1) zoom in too far for two pages to fit (which is too wide), (2) resize your window to do the same (too distracting), or (3) choose a “one-page” view that zooms out so the entire page is on-screen (too small). Read more →

Oops… Lost my backup…

I temporarily misplaced the database driving this blog during an upgrade, but I’m back in business! *sigh* I’m in the final stages of replacing my main web site (www.tallent.us), so that should be up soon. I’ve been hosting it with Zenfolio for a number of years, but since I don’t do commercial work anymore, it didn’t make sense to pay someone else for a fancier web site than I actually need. Read more →

How Pandora can be profitable

I’m a fan of streaming music services. Pandora clued me in on a number of bands I would’ve never heard of otherwise. But services like these currently have unsustainable business models. They pay exorbitant license fees for the music, and they also have to pay for bandwidth. And with the end of network neutrality around the corner, their bandwidth will likely skyrocket, putting the last nail in the coffin. I have a solution. Read more →

Welfare Cliffs are Amusing, but Useless

In a recent post, Philip Greenspun tries to make the case that the ACA is just one more situation where people will suck on the government teat rather than doing something productive, because they actually do better on assistance programs. While such “cliff” maths are interesting for academic trivia, they are practically useless. The vast majority of families making $50k a year or more (73%) have private health insurance (mostly employer-paid), and that goes up to 90% for families making around $100k/year. Read more →

RSS is still missing comments

A blog is a conversation, not a publication. Yet, there’s still apparently no standardized support for having a conversation thread, and coming back to a post to view it when comments are added. This is one feature set that the blogging world should bring over from the Facebooks of the world. Read more →

Back Again

Every few years, I get the blog bug again, I post a few updates, and then I fall off the wagon. But I really, really miss two things about blogging, which is why I’m back again: I’m tired of soundbite updates, be they on Twitter or Facebook. Blogging is all about reading something with meat on the bones, and I miss that, whether the topic of discussion is programming, politics, photography, or my other interests. Read more →