As You Were

Devin Coughlin's blog.
Styles: Serious Spare

July 28, 2004

Win One For the Skipper

Some thoughts, so far, on the Democratic National Convention. In vaguely chronological order.

  • As Matt Yglesias says, Clinton is a fucking rock star. His speech on Monday was fantastic. Laura Rozen links to some professional analyses. Clinton is a master of parallel form, and he shows it. It is a striking contrast to other politicians — while the hone sound bites and one-liners, he crafts entire speeches. It is anachronistic, but still, a wonder to behold.

  • Dean's speech wasn't memorable, but his applause times were. People (myself included) are still very, very enthusiastic about Dean.

  • Chris Matthews et al. interviewed Ben Affleck about celebrities and politics and asked him all the same stupid questions, but Affleck handled them well. When David Gergen said he was much better informed and well-spoken than they had expected, Afflect responded that he benefited fromt the same thing Bush did in the debates in 2000: expectations were so low that if he put together a coherent sentence, it was considered a slam dunk. I was impressed.

  • Barack Obama's keynote address didn't actually impress me that much (although everyone else seems to think it was great). He had a couple of excellent one liners and that was it. I think his story projects more power than he does, at this point, but I imagine that in 10 years this man will be a powerhouse. It is very telling that a sitting Senator resigned so as not to face him and that the Republicans can't find anyone to run against him. Can you imagine a Senate race in Illinois going uncontested — to a Democrat?

  • I thought Teresa Heinz Kerry's speech went pretty well. She seemed kind of shaky in the first half, but after she warmed up it went pretty well. She got in a couple of good zingers (the difference between stubbornness and strength) and then she said:

    "My right to speak my mind, to have a voice, to be what some have called "opinionated," is a right I deeply and profoundly cherish. My only hope is that, one day soon, women — who have all earned the right to their opinions — instead of being labeled opinionated, will be called smart or well-informed, just as men are."

    Joe Scarborough (who is remarkably insightful when he is not on his own TV show) said afterward that that wouldn't play well in Peoria. Andrea Mitchell snapped back: "Well, that's the gender gap right there." They went to commerical and when they came back, Scarborough was gone. I've never understood why so many otherwise rational men (and some women, too) are scared of women who demand respect for their thoughts. I see it in on the news, in my family, in my friends. I think for many people gender is the primary lens through which they view the world — separating genderless (to me, at least) objects and actions in to male and female camps. Perhaps they feel threatened when their epistemology breaks down.

    It is a pleasant irony that we don't need to worry about what will play in Peoria — the Democrats will probably win Illinois by 10 points this year (and maybe more).

  • Oh yeah, Al Sharpton's a dick. What the fuck was he thinking?

The Kerry campaign has been threshing out Kerry's life story about, talking about specific incidents in Vietnam and bringing out former crewmates to vouch for the candidate. One of then called him 'skipper' in an interview and it struck me that it would a powerful piece of electioneering to get people to think of John Kerry as the skipper.

Oh yeah, if you're not following Fafnir, Giblets, and the Medium Lobster you don't know what you are missing.

Posted by coughlin at 7:16 PM | TrackBack (0)

July 2, 2004

WWDC 2004

So I'm wrapping up at Apple's World-Wide Developer conference, and it has been very interesting.

While there was nothing really earth-shattering at the conference, the incremental advances seem strong. We already pretty much knew that there would be a comprehensive meta-data situation in the new OS, but I was reassured to see a (fast) working prototype. It will be very interesting to see the degree to which this changes the way I use my computer.

Dashboard seems pretty neat (although its resemblance to Konfabulator is troubling to some indie developers) — you really have to see it in action to understand its utility — it is an interesting irony that Apple has gone full-circle in its approach to so-called 'desktop accessories'. Dashboard {gad,wid}gets are basically webpages with CSS3 and JavaScript, which seems odd to me, but we'll see. I am a little bit worried that Apple seems to be adopting JavaScript as a programming language (either to lower the barrier-to-entry for new programmers or perhaps for political reasons they need a common language which is neither Objective-C nor C nor Java?). I certainly don't disagree that a languagelet is needed, but I don't think JavaScript fits the bill. It simply has too much baggage.

Unfortunately, Tiger won't be released until the first half of next year, so no new apps that rely on all the nifty new features will be released until then.

I've noticed that there are a lot of foreigners (German, Australian, French especially) here. And a cadre of Russians running security. The had people at every entrance, near every restroom, at every escalator entry point, and had badge scanners at every room entrance.

All of the sessions except the keynote are under NDA, but one thing I can talk about is Rendezvous (Apple's name for the earth-shattering ZeroConf). The have come up with a way to use ZeroConf globally (i.e in addition to service advertisement and discovery on .local. you can also Rendezvous on an arbitrary domain, so you could ask for all open IM clients at .stanford.edu.).

I've been experiencing overwhelming information overload — I've had to review the program to remember what I saw that day. But I've managed to lose the program now, so I guess I'm screwed. Most of the sessions were great — there were only a couple of clunkers (and these seemed to be very interesting to other people) I've been working on about 5 hours a night of sleep for the whole conference, so my data-retention has been quote poor. I've taken short naps over the lunch break when possible, but this is not enough.

I've also been able to see some people I hadn't seen in a while. Marco and Jessica let Ben and I park our cars in front of their apartment in Berkeley so we wouldn't have to pay the ridiculous fees for parking in the city ($45 a day in the hotel!). I had dinner with them three times and am going out to dinner and seeing Spiderman 2 (I can't wait!) with them at the Metreon tonight. I also had a drink with Andres and his friend last night and have seen lots of Stanford people running around the conference. It has been very interesting to match meatspace people with their e-mail and blog personas.

Posted by coughlin at 6:28 PM | TrackBack (0)