Windows 8 and Windows Phone: what next?
Posted on 2012-09-04 22:42:00
Tags: windowsphone projects metro
I've ported my three "staple" apps to both Windows 8 and Windows Phone:
|Windows 8||Windows Phone|
|Marriage Map||Marriage Map|
link dump: tax deductions, paid apps are not like cups of coffee, video streaming copyright laws
Posted on 2012-08-30 14:17:00
Tags: taxes links
- When I talked about Paul Ryan's tax plan, one of my complaints was that the plan talks about closing tax loopholes, but didn't specify which ones. Here's a handy list of the deductions and how much they cost, and you see how hard this would actually be. Two of the three most expensive ones are pretty popular (mortgage interest and 401(k)), and of course one of the the fourth most expensive one is "lower rate on dividends and capital gains", which the Ryan plan would actually make a bigger deduction by taking the rate down to 0%!
- Speaking of Paul Ryan, there were a lot of lies in his convention speech last night.
- Stop Using The Cup of Coffee vs. $0.99 App Analogy - a good article on paid apps. Apparently a lot of people are making money with apps by making them free with ads (and in-app purchases). Maybe I should aim for this model more, but I'm apparently atypical because I like paying for apps and am not a huge fan of ads in apps. But getting people to pay is a big hurdle, and "free" is very enticing...
- Why Johnny can't stream: How video copyright went insane - a good Ars Technica article about how ridiculous streaming/time-shifting laws are.
- New Zealand is taking a step towards legalizing same-sex marriage, and they say the catalyst was Obama's endorsement of the same!
- This is old news, but SpaceX got a NASA contract to work on the next Space Shuttle and take people back into space. Congratulations to them, and I heart SpaceX so bad it hurts!
- Gotye made a "Somebody That I Used to Know" mashup of YouTube performances of the song, which is pretty cool. (and features Pentatonix's a capella version)
- Did you know you can totally buy a 3D printer for under $2,000? I did not.
- Another awesome Old Spice ad - this one's interactive!
- Astros Not Even Good Enough To Play For Pride - from the Onion, but still, the truth hurts.
Marriage Map now available for Windows 8!
Posted on 2012-08-29 10:38:00
Tags: windows projects
My same-sex marriage map is now available on the Windows Store!
This is my third app in the Windows Store, and given that there are now ~650 apps on the Windows Store, just under 0.5% of them are mine :-)
David at the circus
Posted on 2012-08-26 13:44:00
Windows 8 - PasswordHash now available, getting excited!
Posted on 2012-08-24 13:19:00
Tags: windows essay windowsphone projects
PasswordHash is now available on the Windows Store! This is particularly nice for me as I've been using Windows 8 more and now I don't need to keep a browser tab up to the PasswordHash homepage. The port was pretty quick since it does so little (and I like the brown :-) ) - one feature that I did add was auto-clearing of the master password and generated password field. Since state for apps tends to stick around in Windows 8, now you don't have to worry about explicitly clearing those fields or closing the app.
(there's also a new version of FlightPredictor which makes the text more readable and fixes a crash when you purchase the app - whoops!)
I'm starting to get more excited in Windows 8 the more I learn about it. (just yesterday I learned that Windows+X or right-clicking the space where the Start menu used to be brings up a bunch of useful shortcuts) It seems like apps are flowing into the store at a good rate - I saw an estimate of 50-100 per day somewhere.
The developer experience has been quite good over the last few months. The new app hub for Windows 8 is very functional (and they even upgraded the Windows Phone app hub, which fixed a bunch of my complaints), and the four times I've submitted apps they've gone through the entire review process in under 24 hours, which is pretty amazing.
I'm hoping downloads of FlightPredictor pick up - it would be nice to have a review or two when Windows 8 releases "for real" in late October. Until then, I'm working on porting the same-sex marriage map to Windows 8 - it's coming along quite nicely!
FlightPredictor now available on the Windows Store for #win8!
Posted on 2012-08-17 09:58:00
Tags: windows projects
I'm happy to announce that FlightPredictor is now available on the Windows Store! As usual, it has a ton of features, plus some new goodies like live tiles and beautiful city backgrounds.
I started working on the app in April, and since them I've poured a lot of time into it. The app has around 11K lines of C# (and 2.5K lines of XAML), and it took on the order of 150 Subversion commits.
Special thanks to Jared Bienz (@jbienz), Ryan Joy (@atxryan), and a bunch of other Microsoft people who helped me along the way. (also, thanks to whoever's working submission duty - it went from submitted to approved in about 12 hours!)
Next up: more improvements to the app and marketing, marketing, marketing! I'm also working on porting the marriage map to Windows 8.
Pictures from the summer musical
Posted on 2012-08-14 23:35:00
I put a few up - click to see them!
long post on Paul Ryan's tax plan
Posted on 2012-08-13 23:23:00
Tags: essay taxes politics
This weekend Mitt Romney picked Paul Ryan as his running mate. I think this is a good choice that really clarifies the election, as Ryan is a pretty staunch conservative. (according to DW-Nominate he's the most conservative VP pick ever)
Prior to this, Ryan is probably most famous for his budget plan, known as "The Path to Prosperity", which the Republicans in the House of Representatives passed earlier this year. I posted about this last year, but I thought I'd take a closer look at the proposal after reading that Mitt Romney would pay 0.82% in taxes under the Ryan plan. (!) This is because the plan eliminates taxes on capital gains, dividends, and interest.
The full plan (warning: big .pdf) includes a bunch of non-tax stuff (including the plan to turn Medicare from defined-benefit to a defined-contribution), but I just read through the tax parts because I'm not a total masochist :-) For those of you following along at home, these are on pages 59-67.
It starts by saying the tax code is complicated (true!), and unfair because of the special credits, deductions, and loopholes that apparently cost $1 trillion a year(!), which is roughly how much the government actually collects in individual income taxes. That is...well, surprising.
It then shows a pair of graphs claiming to show that tax revenue really just depends on GDP and not the tax rates. Here they are:
I think the first one is a little misleading - you can't just look at the top tax rate and use that to determine how high the "overall" tax rate is - the other brackets and rates matter too. (although, to be fair, that's a lot of variables and it's hard to combine them all) For example, in 1950 the top tax rate was 90%, but that bracket didn't start until an income of $400K, which in today's dollars is roughly $3.6 million. (by comparison, the top tax rate today is 35%, but it kicks in at an income of ~$400K) I'm honestly not sure about these graphs - one interpretation is that as tax rates go up, people take more steps to avoid paying taxes. (using offshore accounts, etc.) Another interpretation is that the "average" tax rate hasn't really changed that much over the years.
The proposal talks about the corporate tax rate for a while, which it points it is the highest in the industrialized world (or will be soon, anyway), but lots of companies get around paying the full rate anyway. It says it would be better to lower the rate and eliminate loopholes, which I agree with (and Obama has proposed as well). One thing I did have clarified is that nearly 75% of small businesses file taxes as individuals, which is why Republicans often say that raising individual income taxes "hurts small businesses". (why do they do this? Seriously question...is it just easier than actually incorporating? I have no idea...)
Anyway, the gist of the whole thing is to reduce our current six bracket system (10%, 15%, 25%, 28%, 33%, and 35% - see current brackets here) to a two bracket system with 10% and 25% rates. One might immediately notice that this is a pretty huge tax cut for people making more than $400K/year. I also think that doing this in the name of "simplification" is a bit of a dodge - is the fact that we have six brackets instead of two really what makes the tax code complicated? No, it's all the deductions, credits, etc.
I'm not even going into the idea of not taxing capital gains, dividends, and interest (which I didn't even find in the plan, confusingly enough). One argument for not taxing these things is that it's "double taxation", since for example corporate profits are taxed, and then the dividends they pay out of their remaining money is taxed again. The phrasing always seemed weird to me, as if each dollar is only ever taxed once, which is of course totally untrue! When I get money in my bank account from my paycheck, that's money that has already been taxed, and then when I go out and buy a new phone, I pay sales tax on that too.
Finally, the whole premise of the tax part of the plan is that we can afford to lower the tax brackets by reducing deductions and loopholes and such. The problem is that a lot of these deductions (like, say, the home mortgage interest deduction) are really popular, so the plan cleverly takes the tack of not saying what would be removed. This makes it somewhat less of a plan and more of an idea. I'm wondering whether there actually was a real plan somewhere (after all, the House of Representatives passed something!), but I sure couldn't find it.
The plan also refuses to fund Obamacare, because why not? At this point it's really looking more like a wish-fulfillment scenario than a serious plan.
So...yeah. The whole idea of balancing the budget by cutting taxes (even the plan admits that revenues will be lower in 2014 and beyond) and then cutting spending even more (but, of course, not cutting defense spending), is really not that serious.
Fitbit: status after seven months of wearing one
Posted on 2012-08-02 13:19:00
Tags: reviews essay
I've been wearing my Fitbit for seven months now (initial impressions here), and it seems like as good a time as any to see how it's going.
I've kept my weekly goal at 70,000 steps. Looking at my FitCalendar, I've made my goal every week except one in which I was sick. Clearly some weeks have been better than others, but I'm proud of myself for sticking to the goal.
I definitely feel like having the numbers changes my behavior (which is the point, really) - I can remember plenty of instances where I have to force myself to go out for a walk (or, worst case, walk round and round the kitchen) to get up to 10K steps.
I might not make my goal this week or next week (because I can't wear it during the musical, I don't get credit for steps, and I'm exhausted from the musical so I'm giving myself permission to not kill myself to get up to 10K), but even so I'm pleased with how things are going.
A word of advice to Fitbit users: use the belt holster! Everyone I know who has just clipped the Fitbit itself to their pants/whatever has lost it. I've had a few close calls even with the holster. (I've lost it twice during musical runthroughs, hence the rule above!)
I also have one base station for home and another one for work, which was donated to me by someone who lost his Fitbit. That makes it pretty convenient to charge, and since there are a number of people that sit near me that have one, it will sync down their data too. :-)
Final verdict: Yay for Fitbit! (and yay for me!)
a sensitive kid
Posted on 2012-08-01 17:03:00
When I was in kindergarten, every kid had their name on the wall with a hook and a happy face hanging from it. If you misbehaved, your happy face got downgraded to a "neutral face", and if you did it again, a sad face.
I was a good kid, so my face was always happy. One day, the class was acting up in general (the details are lost to time) and so the teacher gave us all neutral faces. I hadn't done anything wrong, and was very upset by this.
It occurred to me today that while I've learned to be less sensitive (usually by distancing myself when necessary), at heart it still bothers me when this happens.
links: Obamacare description, Romney's tax plan, NYT trial, a capella BSG cover!
Posted on 2012-08-01 14:43:00
Tags: politics links
- Here's a concise description of what Obamacare does, complete with citations. (from a subreddit called Explain Like I'm Five) Very thorough from what I've seen!
- A new analysis from outside groups shows that Romney's tax plan will raise taxes on anyone making $200K or less, and lower them for anyone making more than that. So...yeah. I don't mind higher taxes to reduce the deficit, or investing in infrastructure/education/etc., but raising my taxes so millionaires can get a tax cut...not so much.
- Speaking of Romney and taxes, here's a striking graph comparing the past 5 presidents + Romney's yearly income and effective tax rate.
- The New York Times Is Now Supported by Readers, Not Advertisers - glad to see their online strategy is working, even if they did still suffer a pretty big loss. Related: anyone want to try an online subscription for 99 cents for 4 weeks? Drop me a line and I'll send it your way!
- This a capella cover of BSG's All Along the Watchtower is awesome. (thanks, Jessica!)
- A story about the LGBT student group at Rice back in the 70's. Spoiler alert: Annise Parker makes an appearance!
- idreambooks.com is kinda like Metacritic, but for books.
same-sex marriage map: now with pending actions!
Posted on 2012-07-25 10:42:00
Tags: gay projects
My same-sex marriage map now has a list of "pending actions" at the top (i.e. upcoming votes, etc.).
I've been wanting to add something like this for a little while, but I had some trouble figuring out how to integrate it with a map. (should states be a different color if there's a pending action? Or should they...um, blink, or something?) You can see I've solved this Gordian knot by cutting through it, as it's not tied in to the map at all - it doesn't even go "back in time" with the rest of the map. I think this is about 95% good enough, since this keeps the current pending actions at the top always, and really, who cares about pending actions in the past that aren't pending anymore? (not to mention it would be a lot of work to add that data...)
Luckily the data file is flexible enough that I was able to add those entries without breaking the TouchPad or Windows Phone clients. Someday I'll go back and update them to include this info.
Suggestions, as always, are welcome. (like a less dorky name for "pending actions", for example...)
My new email address...
Posted on 2012-07-24 15:50:00
Yeah, I finally took the plunge and am hosting my own email. (actually, I'm using Google Apps) Hopefully this will be my last email address ever (TM). I guess I should update all of my logins everywhere, but that will probably happen over the next year or so.
(and my old email address should work for the foreseeable future)
Blur: How to Know What's True in the Age of Information Overload review
Posted on 2012-07-23 22:01:00
Tags: reviews books
Blur by Tom Rosenstiel, Bill Kovach
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
This book was...well, OK. I bet it would be interesting if you were interested in journalism or journalistic ethics.
The main point for news consumers is that it's good to ask the following questions when analyzing a news story:
- What kind of content am I encountering?
- Is the information complete; and if not, what am I missing?
- Who or what are the sources, and why should I believe them?
- What evidence is presented, and how was it tested or vetted?
- What might be an alternative explanation or understanding?
- Am I learning what I need to?
and then there are chapters about each of these that aren't that interesting. It did make me feel better about subscribing to the New York Times, at least.
(why did I buy this book, you ask? Well, it was on sale at Bookpeople and I thought it was worth a shot. Oh well - can't win them all!)
View all my reviews
a few pictures: the rocks in front of the house, and a Starry Night typewriter cake
Posted on 2012-07-22 22:52:00
Here are just a few new pictures:
and the aforementioned Starry Night typewriter cake:
let's all calm down re Chick-Fil-A
Posted on 2012-07-22 12:51:00
Tags: essay gay politics
Apparently people are surprised that Chick-Fil-A is against same-sex marriage. First of all, I don't know why this is such a surprise - it's pretty obvious the founder of Chick-Fil-A was Christian, and he certainly passed that down to the restaurants (closed on Sunday, etc.), and sadly these days that's enough to pretty much assume they're against same-sex marriage.
But I don't think you have a moral duty to boycott Chick-Fil-A (or, say, prevent them from opening in Boston). If you want to boycott Chick-Fil-A, or it makes you uncomfortable to eat there, then sure, go ahead. But it's not like Chick-Fil-A is the Westboro Baptist Church. And I guess I have an allergic reaction to overly politicizing everyday life. Society is polarized enough already - I don't want to live in a world where Republicans and Democrats can't even eat at the same restaurants based on their political affiliations!
A reasonable middle ground - eat at Chick-Fil-A, and donate money to the Human Rights Campaign to offset whatever small percentage of your money goes to anti-gay organizations.
Silly season re Batman/Bane/Bain (a rant)
Posted on 2012-07-18 22:46:00
Recently some have said (I'm not going to point any fingers, but his name starts with "R" and ends with "ush Limbaugh") that Bane, the villain in The Dark Knight Rises, is meant to evoke Mitt Romney, because "Bain Capital" sounds the same as "Bane".
People. This may be, literally, the stupidest thing I've ever heard. To think this is all some sinister Obama plot requires that you believe:
- Back in early 2011 (when they announced Bane was going to be the villain in the next Batman movie), someone realized that not only was Mitt Romney going to win the nomination (this being back in the days of Trump and Cain and Palin), but Bain Capital would become a big story - it may seem obvious now, but hindsight is 20/20
- Even though Bane is a supervillain who hates the rich (as I understand it), this would still make voters associate Bain Capital with Bane
- ANYONE would be convinced by this to not vote for Romney
Bane is not Mitt Romney. Batman in The Dark Knight is not George W. Bush. The Joker is not Ron Paul. Robin is not Joe Biden. The Riddler is not Paul Wolfowitz. Commissioner Gordon is not Rudy Giuliani. Mr. Freeze is not Dick Cheney. Catwoman is not Nancy Pelosi. Alfred is not Dennis Kucinich.
I understand it's only four months until the election, but when we throw around stupid comparisons to Batman movies the terrorists win!
(now Limbaugh has clarified: he just thinks the Democrats will take advantage of the movie, somehow...and to be clear Batman is NOT ROMNEY. Grrrr!)
Austin Summer Musical for Children time!
Posted on 2012-07-18 22:34:00
1. Come see me in the Austin Summer Musical for Children! This year we're doing Alice in Wonderland, we have free shows starting Aug 4, and for adults we have a Gala with a silent auction (and cash bar!) Aug 10. See the website for details.
2. I was tired last week, and caught up on sleep last weekend, but then I had a bad nightmare Monday night (one of those "someone is breaking into the house with a knife" affairs), so I'm exhausted again. And I have musical rehearsals/performances 17 of the next 18 days (hooray for Sunday!), so if I look grumpy/asleep, that is why. I swear I will try not to bring this up constantly, as I am wont to do.
videos: bizarre anti gay marriage video, TED music talk, The Newsroom opening credits
Posted on 2012-07-16 12:50:00
- I saw this bizarre anti gay marriage video, and was like: ...wait, what? The organization that created it looks real and not a satire, which was my first thought.
To be fair, there's approximately one reasonable argument made in the middle: a wedding photographer in New Mexico was fined for refusing to photograph a same-sex wedding in 2006 (even though gay marriage wasn't and isn't legal in New Mexico!), and that does bother me some. But the first 1:20 of the video is: super super crazy.
(having watched The Newsroom, I realize that this is the best form of the argument against same-sex marriage, but it is funny and I ain't no journalist...)
- Speaking of The Newsroom, do yourself a favor and watch the opening credits a few hundred times in a row, like I'm doing. Now I want to play this music when I walk into the office every morning to get me going :-)
- Another good (but longer) video: TED talk by Benjamin Zander about (classical) music and passion.
Popular Crime review
Posted on 2012-07-13 23:15:00
Tags: reviews books
Popular Crime: Reflections on the Celebration of Violence by Bill James
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I haven't read any "true crime" books before, but I downloaded a sample because: hey, Bill James! I bought the book because in the sample he talked about why it's considered somewhat uncivilized to be interested in crimes covered by the media. He sort of defends the practice by saying a lot of them raise real issues about our criminal justice system, and it was kind of convincing. There's also the fact that a) James is an entertaining writer, and b) there's something that appeals to me about hearing the story of what really happened in these cases given what we know now. James isn't shy about saying what he thinks really happened (or at least whether there was enough evidence to convict), and that appeals to me.
So, most of the book is a series of "famous crimes" in the US, starting with Elma Sands in 1799 all the way up to OJ and JonBenet Ramsey. (by a "series" I mean he easily covers more than 50) Along the way, he'll also stop to comment about related topics like the success rate of the judicial system, the evolution of the legal system, and why arguing someone had motive, means, and opportunity is not even close to the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard of convictions.
Two of the more interesting asides were:
- Showing his true stat-nerd colors (God bless him!), he proposes a mathematical system to evaluate the evidence against a defendant. He comes up with a fairly reasonable system where each piece of evidence gets a weight, presumably normalized by its type, like "defendant bore malice towards the victim" or "defendant was untruthful in describing events around the time of the crime". You then discount how unproven and irrelevant it is, add all the values up, and see if you get to 100.
- He proposes a grand idea for prison reform, making a lot of prisons that only hold (say) 24 inmates, and each prison has a "level" between one and ten, corresponding to the privileges prisoners get. (Level one is like a Supermax, and level ten is really more like a halfway house than a prison)
Other interesting bits:
- I didn't know anything about Lizzie Borden's case, but she was totally innocent. Neat!
- The story of William Goebel was pretty interesting - James says that his assassination may have prevented a Kentuckian civil war!
- He talks about the murder of William Marsh Rice - yay!
- Earl Rogers was the real-life model for Perry Mason!
- There's a long section on JonBenet Ramsey, and despite the fact that the police and DA bungled the investigation so badly, the parents were almost certainly innocent.
I don't think I'm going to get into true crime books much more, although I may seek out more Bill James books - his writing style really livens up the book!
View all my reviews
good things run by people I know: Financial Geekery, PCPartPicker
Posted on 2012-07-10 11:04:00
- Financial Geekery is a personal finance-type blog, but the posts are short and interesting. Some good ones: die broke: what it really means, the academic and the businessman: two views on investing, and a good series on ESPPs: part 1, part 2, part 3. Excellent stuff, and I'm sure Britton's financial coaching is well worth it!
- PCPartPicker is an insanely great way to build a new computer. You can pick out parts by category (with some nice filtering) and see which retailer has the best price for it. I've used it twice in the past few years to build machines at home. He's just started adding benchmarks for CPUs and it looks like GPUs will be coming soon. Philip, the guy who runs it, recently left NI to work on it full time, and I have no doubt he's going to do well.
crazy Astros game
Posted on 2012-07-09 15:21:00
I went with my dad and Lukas to see the Astros play the Brewers on Saturday...and what a weird game it was!
After getting out of a jam in the top of the first, Jordan Schafer (the Astros' leadoff hitter) took the first pitch from Zack Greinke and hit a line drive to center field. The Brewers' center fielder ran straight ahead, dove for it, and missed, so the ball got by him. It looked for a minute like Schafer was going to get an inside-the-park home run, but he ended up with a triple.
Three pitches later, Jose Altuve hit a slow roller to first base. Schafer scored, and Greinke covered the bag but the umpire ruled Altuve was safe at first. (from where we were sitting, it looked very close) Greinke then got upset and spiked the ball, and the umpire ejected him! (the manager then ran out of the dugout and got himself ejected shortly thereafter)
So that was dramatic. Then, the Brewers had to find a new pitcher who had to warm up very quickly - usually when you bring a pitcher in, he's been warming up in the bullpen for a while. If a pitcher gets injured, then the replacement pitcher gets extra warmup pitches, but apparently that isn't true when a pitcher gets ejected :-)
So the rest of the game was pretty weird - the Brewers ended up using 7 pitchers, and based on their stats, they were probably the bottom of the barrel ones. Wandy Rodriguez started for the Astros and went 5 good innings, and then the Astros also went through 6 other pitchers, which made the game drag on for a bit. The Astros were up 6-0 at one point, but the game never really seemed out of reach for the Brewers which kept it somewhat interesting. (the final score was 6-2)
whole lotta non-healthcare-related links
Posted on 2012-06-28 14:00:00
- Both true and false: a Zen moment with C - legit, but pretty funny.
- Why is processing a sorted array faster than an unsorted array? - understanding how hardware works is important when optimizing software.
- VIM Clutch is hardware pedal to toggle vim between insert and normal mode. This is actually kinda tempting!
- How we die (in one chart) - wow, I didn't realize how big of a problem tuberculosis/pneumonia/influenza used to be. Yay science!
- What facts about the United States do foreigners not believe until they come to America? - interesting discussion on Quora.
- Navy Plan To Fire Dust Clouds At Space Junk Would Take 10 Years - hmm, that's kinda neat.
- Video of a Mercedes racing a golf ball - yeah, that's pretty cool.
- Map of MLB player hometowns - pretty much what I expected, although some kinda heatmap might be nicer - there are a lot of markers in the US. (thanks Shawn!)
- The Most Amazing Bowling Story Ever
a typical Texas summer: in three acts
Posted on 2012-06-27 13:06:00
Tags: travel essay
Act I: Yesterday I was at a Microsoft event in Dallas. From 1-6 PM I was in the same freezing room. The thermostat must have been set at 65 or something...it was unbearably cold.
Act II: Walking outside into the 100+ degree heat felt glorious for the two minutes it took to get to my car, which had been sitting outside all day.
Act III: Enter car; face melts off.
on personal responsibility and the Coast Guard
Posted on 2012-06-26 09:18:00
Tags: travel essay
(I'm in Dallas today for a Windows 8 thing)
When I woke up this morning, I turned on HLN (nee Headline News) to wake up. They were doing a segment about a woman whose family had to be rescued by the Coast Guard - it looked like they were staying in a beach house on the coast of Florida when Debby hit.
I assume that this sort of thing is in the Coast Guard's mission, and yay for them, but: nowhere in the half of the interview I saw was it implied that maybe the family shouldn't have been, you know, on vacation in a beach house when a freaking Tropical Storm was scheduled to hit. The tone of the interview was oddly light - the interviewer asked the woman how she kept the dogs from running away, and if their vacation had been "ruined".
Being rescued by the Coast Guard should not make for an amusing family story - they (presumably) risked their lives to some extent to save the woman's family because they were stupid or stubborn and put their own lives in danger. It felt like the interviewed glorified their stupidity instead of pointing out that people really should stay out of the way of tropical storms and not stay on the beach. Sheesh!
This backup was done by LJBackup.