RPV Convention Weekend

Republicans from around the state are invading Richmond this weekend to decide whether Jim Gilmore or Bob Marshall will run against Mark Warner this fall.  I will boldy state my preference and say I’m hoping Jim Gilmore wins, because I despise everything Bob Marshall stands for (well, maybe not everything — but that whole thing where he tries to shove his personal belief system into everyone’s lives is rather annoying).  The outcome of the convention will also affect which “Bloggers 4” group (Bloggers 4 Jim Gilmore or Bloggers 4 Bob Marshall) gets to gloat about winning the nomination for their guy.  It may also in some way help decide once and for all which blogging platform is better:  Blogspot or WordPress.

At the convention, Republicans will also be making a choice between John Hager (yes, that, John Hager) and Jeff Frederick (who is such an unknown that even Wikipedia doesn’t know who he is) for Republican Party Boss.  I don’t really know how they decide that sort of thing, but I assume it will be a vote and not a steel cage deathmatch.  It would be interesting to watch, but I imagine they would require a blood sacrifice to get into the convention.  Also, being that close to so many politicians and political junkies might cause cancer of the soul.

By the way, if you are interested in watching how they decide these things and don’t want to sacrifice your blood or soul, there are approximately 12,427 Virginia Republican bloggers (and even some Democratic ones) liveblogging the convention.  Take a look at Jeffersoniad and scan through the posts.

(Is there going to be a Democratic convention?  I feel I should have an opportunity to make fun of blindly partisan Democrats, too.)

UPDATE: Jim Gilmore and Jeff Frederick won.

Jeffersoniad

I’ve been living under a rock, so I’m just now noticing this Jeffersoniad thing.  Seems to be a coalition of non-SWAC Virginia Republicans, which is clearly not a bad thing.  Also seems to be a vehicle for getting in the pants of Virginia politicians.  Or something like that. 🙂

Spolsky on Podcasts

Joel Spolsky said that most people only listen to podcasts while they’re distracted.

“People who listen to podcasts, it’s not like they’ve carved out an hour from their life so that they can sit in their armchair and listen to it. You know, they’re working out, they’re taking a walk, they’re driving to work or driving back from work, they’re in the gym, any kind of situation where you can listen to something in the background but not really give it your whole attention. You can’t be watching it. That’s pretty much the entire market that podcasts are ever going to have, the same as the radio market.”

Now admittedly, I haven’t listened to very many podcasts, but if that’s true, it would explain why podcasts aren’t very popular. Joel is basically saying that podcasts are generally so boring that you can’t stand to listen to them.

When I envision a podcast (and I have envisioned creating a podcast), I don’t see it as just a boring recording of a conversation — I see it as a show. I imagine families gathering around their old time radio cabinets and being entertained for however long the show runs. I see it as something that the listeners should pay attention to, in other words. I guess I’m just weird.

Light Gaming This Spring

I deleted some comment spam tonight, which reminded me that I haven’t posted anything about gaming in a while, which is probably because I haven’t played anything much since I quit CoD4.  I couldn’t get into Team Fortress 2 even though it was kind of fun for a couple weeks.  I recently bought Neverwinter Nights 2, which I played for a little while but I got bored and distracted by other activities.  I also bought a copy of Gears of War for the PC but I haven’t installed it yet.  Probably will need a computer upgrade before I do.  About a month ago, I reformatted what used to be my Windows XP gaming PC and now use it as a domain controller, so I’ll need to install all my future games on my Vista PC.  I hope it works. 🙂

Burma

I haven’t read any Virginia aggregators in a while (what my wife aptly calls “aggravators”), so I pulled one up this morning out of curiousity, and the very first post I saw annoyed me: The Warmongers on the Left: “Is it time to invade Burma?”

All I can say is that this is another outstanding example of the fact that The Right doesn’t really go to church very much.  (Yes, I’m making a gross generalization on purpose.)  That someone can sit back and watch so many people suffer — and condemn anyone that suggests helping – is rather telling.  Next I suppose we’ll be hearing how the Burmese “State Peace and Development Council” is doing the right thing by leaving all those people to die.  After all, they chose to live in the coastal areas, right?  Yeah, screw ’em, it’s their own fault anyway.

P.S.  I don’t think we should declare war on Burma — we’ve got our hands full with Iraq, thank you very much.  The last thing we need is to be changing any more regimes right now.  But why aren’t we sending squadrons of planes in there to drop supplies, with or without permission?  What are they going to do, attack us?

Web v. Desktop

I’ve been following Jeff Atwood’s Twitter feed for a little while now. I find that I enjoy his blog much more than his tweets, which sometimes tend toward preachy elitism. For example, in a recent tweet he said:  ”[T]he desktop is dead. web apps won,” referring to the years-old debate about desktop apps vs. web apps, or thick clients vs. thin clients, or whatever you want to call it.

Web apps are certainly the fad for startups right now, I’ll grant you that. If I were a venture capitalist, that’s definitely where I’d be throwing my money away, and if I were a programmer (which I am), that’s where I’d be concentrating most of my skill set (which I am).

But does that mean web apps “won?” I guess it depends on how you define winning. Are web apps popular? Sure. But are they technologically superior to desktop apps? In a word, no way.

Web apps are “winning” only because that’s where the easy money is. Some of that is driven by simple laziness: It’s much faster and easier for an adventurous startup company to build and sell (advertising for) a cool web page than it is for them to build and sell, say, an innovative new word processor for Windows. Everyone knows it’s technically possible to build a better, faster, smarter word processor, but who in their right mind would try to compete with Word?

For myself, there are plenty of applications that I prefer to run locally on my computer. Like, basically everything I do on a computer. Writing software? Check. Writing a document? Check. Writing music? Check. Writing this blog post? Check. Writing an email? Check. Playing a game? Check. Browsing the web? Che… oh, okay, you got me there. Almost everything, then.

You might be asking why in the world I would possibly want to do any of that on my desktop when I could fire up a browser and go to Google Docs, WordPress, Yahoo Mail, or (insert any one of a million Web 2.0 sites with a silly name)?

Answer: Responsiveness, stability, and even more importantly, data ownership.

Does anyone really think that fetching code and data from a server somewhere out there on the Internet will ever be as fast and reliable as fetching it from a local hard drive? Sometimes network latency is not anything to worry about in an application (eg. data entry apps), but most of the time, people want things to happen on their screen right now. I’ve lived through the days when you had to watch the computer draw interfaces pixel by pixel on the screen, and believe me, I don’t want to repeat it. Even my wife — who I think is representative of the typical computer user — is often frustrated by how sluggish web pages load even over broadband.

But even if GMail ran exactly as fast as Outlook Express (and it’s close) and never, ever went down, there is still the philosophical issue of data ownership. The bottom line is that I want my emails on my hard drive, not Google’s. I don’t want to relinquish the responsibility for the safety of my precious, precious data – my intellectual property. Many people probably don’t care, and maybe some are even happy to outsource the job of data management to nameless, faceless foreigners working for pennies a day. To those people I say: Good luck with that and I hope the startup company of starry-eyed marketing school grads you’re depending on stays in business forever. (Oops, I think I just dissed 99% of all Web 2.0 startups.)

The way I see it, the only way to make web applications competitively fast and responsive is to keep the data on the servers with the application. So users need to ask themselves: How important is my data to me? Do I really own it or not (not just legally, but physically)?

To put it another way: If you owned a car, would you store it in someone else’s garage? Some people do. Some people (like me) wouldn’t dream of it.

That’s why I think there’s still a place for desktop applications.

Twittering

I’m starting to play around with Twitter. It took some work, but I finally figured out how to send tweets from behind The Firewall Of Doom. If you don’t know what Twitter is, you probably don’t care. (Cynthia provided an apt analogy: Twittering is like praying because you send out all kinds of messages but you have no idea if anyone is actually listening.)

I actually prefer the look and feel of Pownce, but it is not as widely supported by the community right now.

Digsby also has built-in support for Twitter, which is very cool.

UPDATE: I actually intended to post this on Krehbiel Tech…