June 2008

May 2008 -- 2008 -- July 2008

June 7, 2008

My 25th birthday was on the 3rd, and I got an awesome present: Barack Obama officially clinched the nomination for the Democratic party. It's been pretty much a sure thing since February, but it's nice to have him break the 2,118 needed to become the presumptive nominee. It's not "official" official (also known as "Facebook Official") until August at the convention, but Hillary officially conceded and endorsed Obama today, so it won't be going to the convention after all. She did however leave a very blatant opening for her running in 2012 if Obama somehow loses this year. Which ties into the conspiracy theory ideas floating around the Internet, that she stayed in it just to damage Obama enough to ensure he loses in 2008 so she can run again in 2012 on the "I told you so" platform.

Unfortunately it seemed to work. There's been many a news story about her supporters not following her directions and supporting Obama. It makes absolutely no sense to me why someone who supported Hillary would go and vote for someone who has opposite viewpoints on pretty much every issue instead of the guy who had 99% of the same policy. I think they'll eventually come around, much like Republicans have come around on John McCain even though they were far more badly fractured and had different viewpoints. It's still sad this had to be drug on so long though, I remember writing back in January about how the Republican side was a mess, but the Democrats had two great candidates that everyone would like.

I also think the idea of Hillary as the VP in the "Dream Ticket" scenerio will not and should not happen. It would not be a happy ticket to begin with, and would chase away all of those independents and Republicans who support Obama but don't like Hillary. Plus with the Republican Party already re-using Hillary attack lines in ads, it just makes it a very easy target. Not to mention Hillary honestly believes Obama will lose, and she would never accept the VP slot on a ticket she thinks she couldn't win on.

More realistically, some of the front runners for the VP slot are Tim Kaine, Governor of Virginia, Kathleen Sebelius, Governor of Kansas, and my personal favorite, Brian Schweitzer, Governor of Montana.

Yes, you read that right, Montana has a Democratic governor. He ran for governor with a Republican in the Lt Governor spot (which is exactly what is Obama's message), grew up on a ranch and has extensive ranching and farming experience, speaks Arabic (though I suppose that would just fuel the "Obama is a secret terrorist" rumors), and I LOVED his speech about how he got elected to office in Montana and how some voters *really* decide who to vote for. Plus he looks darn good in a bolo tie.

Of course for McCain to win in November, the public would have to ignore things like that his economic plan would either "either cause the federal deficit to explode or would require unprecedented spending cuts equal to one-third of federal spending on domestic programs". Where as Obama's balances out. Or a photo that should be it's own 30 second TV ad: Bush helping celebrate McCain's birthday on the morning that Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans.

And on a purely political viewpoint, sometimes I wonder about the McCain campaign. They scheduled a speech for June 3rd to air during prime time, when they knew the cable networks would air it and there would be lots of voters watching because of the finale of the Democratic race. But there was quite a stark contrast between McCain's speech and Obama's speech. Who on McCain's staff decided that a ugly green background would look better than a stadium of 18000 cheering people?

And on one final bit of political news, Obama addressed his campaign staff at his Chicago headquarters yesterday. One of the striking things about the video is just how young most of the workers are. It really is a youth movement, that we are tired of the world as it is and want to make it better. We see the debt, the social inequality, the civil rights encroachments, and the environmental destruction that have been dropped on our doorstop. I will live in a world that will see $8 gas one day, that will see rising oceans and social security and Medicare go bankrupt. My generation will have to deal with these things, and this is how we start fixing them. I particularly liked the end of his impromptu speech about how the "easy" part of the campaign is done and now the real works begins:
We don't have an option now. You know, when we were at the beginning of this thing, in Iowa, if I lost Iowa, it would have been okay. One of the other Democrats would have emerged, they would have carried the banner, we would have joined their campaign, and moved forward, and the country would move in a better direction. Because we we won, we now have no choice. We have to win. .... We're going to have to work twice as hard as we've been working. We're going to have to be smarter, we're going to have to be tougher, our game is going to have to be tighter. We are going to be attacked more viciously, we are going to have to respond more rapidly, and we are going to have to raise more money. I'm going to have to be a better candidate. Each of you what you do, you are going to have to do it better, longer, and probably without break between now and November 4. And we don't have a choice. We don't have a choice because if we screw this up, all those people I met, who need help, they're not gonna get help ... Now everybody's counting on you, not just me. And I know that's a heavy weight, but also what a magnificent position to find yourselves in, where the whole country is counting on you to change it for the better. Those moments don't come around very often, and here you are, five months away from having transformed the country and made history and changed the world. So we gotta seize it. So rest up a little bit, but come back ready to go, and fired up. Alright, I gotta go, cheers guys, I love you, let's go win the election.
Finally on some more personal notes, as I mentioned above, I turned 25 on Tuesday. Which means I can now rent cars for far cheaper and also get a discount on my insurance rate! I used to worry about getting boring as I got older, but I have quite a few friends in their early 30's and they're still fun and active, so it gives me an optimistic look at growing older. I was starkly reminded though that I'm no longer a kid when I went to the NASA space museum a few weeks ago and they had this really cool playground that I was way way way too old to play in. It had a huge slide though ::sigh::

Also that work project I mentioned in the last update has been eating up ridiculous amounts of time and sleep. I finally got the code done on Friday though, even though it meant doing some last minute bug fixes in the parking lot of the manufacturing facility before submitting the code to get flashed into the final product. I'll be able to share much more and have a ton of photos once FTF starts next Monday, but while it's been very stressful because of the deadline and very high profile nature of the project, it's also been a lot of fun and the result is really cool. I haven't worked this hard since Sbob for my senior project.

June 19, 2008

So this is what I've spent the last month of my life on: the 2008 Freescale Technology Forum badge. I added some photos too.

Instead of a boring normal paper badge for our biggest conference, this year it's an actual development board with a 5x16 LED matrix array, 8 touch sensitive buttons, a small magnetic speaker, and runs off a rechargeable Li-Ion battery. Meaning that essentially all 2,000+ attendees will be wearing a mini-computer around their neck that is the same size and weight as a normal conference badge, but that lets people do all kinds of fun things with it.

There's four pieces of Freescale silicon on it: If you're uber-nerdy, the website has full code and schematics once you register.

I wrote all the demo software and my job in Orlando was to fix any issues that came up and answer questions about it. It pretty much owned my life for 4 weeks, but it was a LOT of fun to play with and work on. Some of the fun stuff I wrote was Pong, a Magic 8 Ball demo (ask the badge a question, shake it, and it will tell you if it's right or not), a electronic keyboard using the speaker, and if you plug it into a laptop, it acts like a mouse. You just tilt the board around to move your mouse cursor. And I snuck in a easter egg to make it scroll "Go Gators!" if you pressed the right buttons (3, 1, 3, 3, 7. Get it?)

And one of the coolest features (for the engineers anyways) is that it has a USB bootloader (that part was written by another co-worker). So to run new software, all someone has to do is connect the badge to a laptop, it enumerates as a USB drive, and you drag and drop your program into it.

So by using that we were able do a software design contest during the conference, and an Etch-a-Sketch program ended up winning first place. There's quite a few videos of the badge up on Youtube actually.

So this project is why I get to go to FTF, and what I've spent sooooo many hours on. In the 3 days before the conference, I got a total of about 5 hours of sleep, and I also pulled the very first all-night of my life the Thursday night before. It's been a really fun project to work on, but also quite stressful at times. For most demos, if it doesn't work or something isn't done in time, at worst it affects maybe 30 people. But this badge was given to over 2,000 attendees. It's also been a very interesting experience seeing how a project like this gets created and executed, and all the behind the scenes work for the marketing and conference details that have to happen.

And I could do an update without some sort of political note. Fox News had some fun the other day with Obama's fist pound with his life as he got up on stage to win the nomination. Because "Fair and Balanced" means starting off your story with: "A fist bump? A pound? A terrorist fist jab?". Yes, that's not a shallow attempt at a smear at all. With all the news this story got though, I came across this explanation of The Etymology of Human Male Non-Verbal Communications (or, Why Men Fist-Bump). Who knew?

June 22, 2008

It's been a while since the last update, but I've been incredibly busy with work. See the post below for all the details on the project that took over my life for the first half of June.

At the moment I'm stuck in the Tampa airport, waiting for some severe storms to pass before they'll let us start getting on the planes. Actually right as I write this is when my flight was originally scheduled to leave, but at the moment it's been delayed an hour and a half, with no signs of how much longer it could get.

The saving grace in all of this is that I have my newspapers (NY Times, St Pete Times, and USA Today (every time I travel, for one day, I know all there is to know about what is going on in the world. But then it gets outdated pretty much instantaneously)) to read and Tampa does their airport right and provides free wireless. It bugs me to no end that airports and hotels charge for wireless internet, to me it's like charging to use the restroom or use the tram shuttle to get between terminals. It should be a free utility to make using the airport just a little bit better.

Apparently there is a "Code 20" going on right now. Have no idea what that means, maybe they're re-opening the airport?

The weekend was really fun seeing old high school and college friends, and going to all the cool dance clubs that Tampa has. That's the one thing I don't like about Austin, is that there are no good places that play good music. I keep saying I should just start one, since I think it'd be really popular and a great investment. I am looking forward to getting home though, since I have Rock Band waiting for me.

Speaking of videogames, here's a fun one to play in your favorite bar's bathroom. I think it's a great idea, I would definitely play it!

Firefox 3 was released this week, with some pretty big improvements in security and usability features. It's slowly but surely becoming the defacto browser.

New York Times Magazine had a fascinating article about equality in marriage. Most people would say they like the idea of “equally shared parenting", but all the data shows that that pretty much never happens. So this piece explorers why that happens, looking at all the decisions people make that shape what happens when they have kids. How couples decide who stays home and who continues on to a career. Of course most of the time it's the person who is making less is the one who stays home, why then why is that person makes less, why did they chose to do a career that doesn't have as much flexibility or less career advancement. One of the more interesting studies when people were presented a hypothetical couple that was randomly assigned the role of a professor or physician. And regardless of which career each person in that couple was assigned, both sexes would agree that it was the man's job that was less flexible. Or why women are in general more willing to give up a career versus the man. Or the things that men have to go through to get maternity leave or flexible hours to spend more time as a parent, since it's commonly seen as a "woman's" thing even today. And even just how the definition of "clean" differs between the sexes which is also what causes the housework inequality.

I think it's interesting to see what gender stereotypes are ingrained in us.

Could Texas turn blue in the 2008 election? maybe

May 2008 -- 2008 -- July 2008