Hand trouble

Many of you who know me know that I take computer ergonomics very seriously. I started doing so in my sophomore year (~1.5 years ago at this point), where I started to experience symptoms of a RSI from my intensive computer science classes.

Last semester, I took a long break from computers and saw my RSI symptoms disappear. Once I got back to work last semester, they came back even worse than before, and it even affected my performance in classes and such due to the strain and time I had to spend nursing the injury.

This break, I’ve been researching ways to get over this problem. I am still not sure if what I have is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, DeQuervain’s Syndrome, a muscle inflammation or pinched nerve (or all of the above), but I’m trying self-treatment by immobilizing my right wrist in a wrist splint, taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (i.e. ibuprofen) and using my left hand for as much as I can.

We’ll see how it goes, but I have to take a break from this blog for a couple weeks, most likely. (Unless I get Dragon Naturally Speaking working under Windows!)

Site cross-pollination – check out h2h

I just wanted to mention that earlier today I finally got hand tracking working on my final project for my Motion Capture / Computer Vision class. You can now connect a webcam to your computer, load up my GTK+ program, and watch boxes with crosshairs follow your hands accurately as you move them across the screen.

Pretty awesome, no? Check out the project if you haven’t yet, its MoinMoin wiki is here. I might post up a video of it in action soon.

It uses a clever skintone detection algorithm across the RGB colorspace, along with clever segmentation of the regions of interest to determine the cardinal direction a hand is moving in and retargeting the box to the new area and running the algorithm again. I am quite happy with the results. It can only get better, but it’s already pretty fun to play with.

My Facebook Profile, and Everyone Else’s

-“You need to change your Facebook profile.”
-“Why?”
-“My friends all think it’s weird.”
-“Why?”
-“Because you mention things like ‘corporate power’ on it.”
-“So?”
-“The Facebook is supposed to be fun, you’re supposed to not take it seriously.”

So here, let me propose my new Facebook profile so it can be more amenable to social pressures. I’ve decided that the Facebook has become just as insane as real life, and, unfortunately, just as predictable.

Here is my Facebook profile for the alternate reality in which I care about making Facebook friends:

Relationship: Married to someone of my own sex even though I’m obviously straight. Hah hah, I’m so ironic.

Political Views: Moderate, even though I’m obviously liberal or conservative, but I don’t want to offend anyone. It’s not cool to talk about politics!

Interests: in truth, none whatsoever, so let me just write cute unfunny stuff here, like “Drinking with roomie,” or “duh, The Facebook.”

Favorite Music: A mish-mash of hip-hop, indy rock, and classic rock, because then you’ll know my musical palate isn’t vulgar.

Favorite Movies: here’s my chance to wow everyone with how cultured I am, so I’ll have at least one Coen Brothers movie here, and one or both of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind or Waking Life.

Favorite Books: I don’t read on my own, because that’s not being social. So here are my choices: (1) my textbooks, because that’s ironic, and dodges the issue; (2) Catcher in the Rye or 1984, because I read that in high school and maybe no one will notice; or, (3) obviously bad books I’ve never read and no one will think I have, like “Treason” by Ann Coulter.

Favorite Quote: Something my roommate said while drunk. Isn’t it funny? Isn’t it? No, really, it’s funny… you had to be there. Or, if I take myself a bit more seriously that I can at least allow a quote, make sure it’s something about postmodernism or from a modern poem that makes minimal sense.

Now that you guys see I am capable of writing a Facebook profile exactly like all the others, perhaps you’ll stop asking me to. In the meanwhile, to make you all more comfortable being apathetic, I’ve censored political content from my interests. I’ve also deleted references to a comedian you’ve never heard of from my quotes section. If you’re lucky, I’ll promptly replace them with Jon Stewart quotes. (Politics is cool, apparently, only if it’s on TV.)

Instilling Doubt

A pretty insightful comment coming from an anonymous poster (in the comments section),

I always wonder about these Linux puff articles — what motivates the writers to pimp OSs that any experienced person knows will be nosebleeds for 90%+ of the novices trying to do a real, complete migration from XP?

Linux never has been, nor will it ever be, an effortless turn-key OS for all-purpose desktop (let alone laptop!). Ubuntu is an improvement, but it’s still Linux — which, if you consider the costs of replacing unsupported hardware and your time struggling with setup at about two cents an hour, is the most lavishly expensive OS ever devised.

I’ve been screwing around with Ubuntu 5.04 for about five months, all but living on the official support forum, which provides — at best! — solutions for only about a quarter of the hardware and software problems I’ve encountered, and there are tons of them.

When 5.10 was released, the forum exploded with bug reports from those who had upgraded from 5.04 and found they had major-to-fatal problems.

I’ve tried to install 5.10 on my new laptop, but the VIA video is not supported, nor is the RaLink wireless, nor WPA authentication…etc., etc., etc.

If you want to spend the rest of your life talking with geeks (and in the process learn that OS advocacy is best understood as a psychiatric symptom above all else) and trying out an infinite number of kludges, you can get a lot of these problems worked out (more or less), but what you normally wind up doing is succumbing to what I call “Linux disfunction drift,” eliminating tasks that you used to do in Windows because your Linux distro won’t do them, or support the hardware you needed to do them.

Slashdot comes through for once: on the viability of open source “business”

There’s also a larger problem with this approach – it sucks for small companies trying to become bigger.

If you are only able to profit off of service contracts, you can’t ‘write once, reach many’ like you can with COTS software. Moreover, companies like IBM and Novell which have large established sales and service teams will win all the larger contracts.

If you write a great peice of software, and then have to sell, educate the customer AND hire/train all the workforce, how much time are you going to have to devote to Rev. 2 of your world beating product?

Whenever folks talk about OSS in the context of markets, I think it should be with a jaundiced eye towards our “helpmates” at IBM, Novell, SAP/MySQL and Sun.

Ultimately, IBM et al are about making money for shareholders, if they didn’t see that as the likley outcome, they would not be out there pimping OSS.

I think a world where software is only ‘sold’ in the context of a service contract is bad for the next great idea. OSS is great in its place, but to preclude software for sale isn’t the answer.

The truth hurts for Free Software zealots, but it’s the truth.

Free Software isn’t about eliminating proprietary software, at least it shouldn’t be. It should be about developing a free system for development, learning, and sharing, because we can.