Jon Reid's Journal
20 Most Recent Entries
Friday, May 16th, 12:42 pm
No, Livejournal. Major changes to the user interface should always be opt-in. DNW.
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Tuesday, July 31st, 04:45 pm: I don't know why this needs to be said, but...
Dear everyone who has bleated about "freedom of speech" ever,

In terms of protecting speech, the First Amendment of the United States Constitution provides the following:

- protection from congress passing laws that abridge your freedom of speech.

That's it. That's all. (Actually it does other nice things, too, but in strictest terms of what it says about speech, that's it.) And it's not even 100% protection either; we still have the legal concept of slander, so if you say something you know is false and it harms someone, that's not permitted by law. So the First Amendment doesn't even completely protect you from congress.

For future reference, here is a list of the other things that the First Amendment of the United States Constitution does not do:

- it does not guarantee you venue for your speech
- it does not guarantee you audience for your speech
- it does not guarantee you protection from response to your speech
- it does not guarantee you protection from consequence for your speech

Just because you have something to say it doesn't mean we all have to sit down, shut up, and listen to you. It doesn't mean if you say something really stupid we can't all say, "hey dude, that was a stupid thing to say." And if you say something REALLY stupid, it doesn't mean we can't say, "hey, that was a really stupid thing to say and because of it I'm not doing business with you anymore." In fact we can even say, "hey, that was a really stupid thing to say and because of it I'm not doing business with you anymore AND I am recommending to anyone who will listen that THEY shouldn't do business with you either. Because, you know, that was stupid."

If you want to stand up and say (for example) something really stupid like "I think our society is being harmed by gay marriage" then other people can stand up and say "I think our society is being harmed by bigotry."

And if as a result of all of this speech you find your business approval ratings dropping significantly, that's not an issue of "freedom of speech," it's a message that society is sending to you.

FYI, this entry was crossposted here from my primary journal at Comments are welcome there as well as here.

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Thursday, December 15th, 08:23 am: Heads Up: The latest LJ misfeature
LiveJournal is presently reimplementing the comment system. You can see a screen shot here:

You'll notice there is no subject line. Subject lines are being removed, apparently because less than 1% of the comments on LJ use them.

On the plus side, they are adding a new feature that adds a "new" mark next to comments that are new on a page since your last visit.

You can see more details on what the new changes are in this thread:
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Monday, February 7th, 10:39 am: Space Gremlin
Yo Mac users!

My co-worker Sean Christman has put up his very first app on the Mac App Store: Space Gremlin, an app that helps visualize the files on your hard drive. It's way cool, and there's even a free demo available. If you get it and have feedback or questions, Sean sits like ten feet away from me. Well, when he's not in Ireland, that is, which he is about 30% of the time. Yes, he's that cool.

In other news, Sean and I will be working together on a project in a couple of weeks. He'll be working on an iPhone demo app, while I'll be retooling the client's current mobile web app using jQuery Mobile. Exciting stuff.
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Thursday, November 18th, 05:52 pm: Because I don't know a loosing battle when I see it
Looks like I was wrong in my previous post. I said that there wasn't enough science to back up worries that the radiation exposure from the new full-body airport scanners is harmful. And I tried to put things into perspective by talking about relative radiation doses. Where I was wrong is that there is evidence and study about the harm that these scanners can cause.

But before we go there, let me review what I said before. Basically I said what these guys were saying in this letter sent to Joseph Holdren, the Assistant to the President for Science and Technology (a job that I lust after in my darkest dreams, by the way).

What The Letter Said: A ParaphraseCollapse )

What the letter doesn't say is that the radiation from the scanners is definitely harmful, or that those populations definitely are at risk. They are rightly throwing red flags, pointing out things they're worried about but don't have enough information to be able to make a determination. They're calling for more information, for more study.

Remember how I said, "My advice is to not use 'radiation exposure' as a reason why the scanners are a bad idea. The science is not there to back it up..." Pretty much what those guys were saying, they just had more specific concerns to go with the call for more study.

So where was I wrong? CUT FOR SPOILERSCollapse )
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Thursday, November 18th, 08:38 am: On the full body scanners now in use in airports
I don't like 'em. It is basically what we've been joking about for years, become horribly real: the TSA has figured out a way to make all of us fly naked.

On the plus side, I've been seeing really encouraging conversations about privacy and privilege as a result of these scanners, and I've been seeing them in the "mainstream." This makes me happy.

But I've seen one common derailing point: whether or not the radiation exposure involved in being scanned is harmful. So I want to clear this up right now.

The science involved in our understanding of radiation is fairly precise. We know pretty much exactly the exposure involved in being scanned. What we're not sure of is exactly how this dose radiation will affect a person's physiology (this is mostly because the effect is not solely dependent on the physics of the radiation involved). So I can't say "yes it's safe" or "no, it's harmful" because I don't know.

I can, however, provide some perspective that I think will be helpful.

The dose of radiation from being scanned is between 0.005 and 0.009 millirems. This figure comes from studies done by experts in the field, not from the information given by the TSA or the company who manufactures the machines (who claim a slightly lower number). Great, so what does that mean?

0.009 millirems--let's round it up to 0.01--is, in fact, pretty small. During a three hour flight, you will get a dose of about 1 millirem: 100 times more than what you're getting in the scanner. And as someone on twitter pointed out, the difference between living in Atlanta and and living in Denver is about 50 millirems of radiation per year, just because Denver is higher (more cosmic radiation) and there is more uranium in the soil. I am speaking of the same kind of radiation in all of these cases, by the way.

So to sum up:

Are the scanners guaranteed safe? I can't say. But I can say that if you're worried about the radiation dose from the scanners, you shouldn't be flying anyway, because the radiation dose you're getting from flying is about a hundred times more than the radiation dose you're getting from being scanned.

My personal opinion, based on my knowledge of the physics of radiation, is that it's probably safe. We evolved on a planet that has a fairly low level of background radiation of various types, and it pretty much doesn't affect us until it gets way above those levels. These scanners are nowhere near that level. Neither is the radiation you get while flying, so that's okay too.

My advice is to not use "radiation exposure" as a reason why the scanners are a bad idea. The science is not there to back it up, and it serves for an all-too-convenient derailing point.
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Tuesday, June 8th, 12:24 pm: Skepticism
Apropos other conversations I'm having online and IRL, here's a little information about skepticism.

In a nutshell, skepticism is a methodology, a way of searching for knowlege. It involves suspending judgement on the topic at hand and applying reason and logic to examine the claims and evidence. Only after examining the evidence will a skeptic make a provisional conclusion.

Now, there's a lot of meaning encompassed in these two sentences, so let's deconstruct...Collapse )
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Friday, March 26th, 04:13 pm: ZZ Top Zapping Zombies!
Neill Cameron brings us The A to Z of Awesomeness.

Edited to add: you can go to Neill's blog and buy these as a poster! Proceeds benefit SSNAP - Support for the Sick Newborn And their Parents.
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Wednesday, March 17th, 09:26 am: Gun Trolls Strike Again
So, some more gun trolls are taking it upon themselves to be dicks again. This time, some of them are open-carrying at Starbucks in the Bay Area.

Here’s the thing. When you learn how to handle firearms, one of the things you’re supposed to learn is that they are tremendously powerful tools which are quite dangerous and should be handled with great care and respect. They have a couple of very specific purposes (self-defense and sport) and THAT’S IT. Any other use constitutes misuse.

Open-carrying for the sole purpose of making a political point is misuse of your firearm. These people should have their weapons taken away from them by their grandfathers, be swatted with a hickory switch on the behind, and be sent to bed without supper. Once they grow back up and promise to treat their firearms with respect, they could have them back. In other words, if you’re going to behave like a petulant three-year-old, you should be treated like one.

Seriously, folks. Open-carrying to make a point is disrespectful to your firearms and it’s disrespectful to your fellow citizens. Grow the fuck up. If you feel your rights are in danger, find a better way to engage in the debate. And I’m talking as someone who knows what it’s like to have his rights actually legislated away. I would NEVER abuse my firearms this way even if I thought it would help my case. Which it doesn’t.

To everyone out there who’s looking at these people and thinking about generalizing, please PLEASE believe me, the vast majority of gun owners in this country are not complete douchebags.
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Thursday, January 28th, 04:37 pm: Job Openings at EffectiveUI
My company is looking for contractors and contract-to-hire people in the following professions:

HTML/CSS/JavaScript developers (that would be my team)

Interactive/User Experience Design

Project Management

You can learn more about us at our award-winning website:

I have job reqs I can pass along if anyone needs specifics. They should be posted to the Careers section of the website soon.

Please feel free to forward anyone interested to this posting. Interested folks can either apply via our Careers section on our website--there's an Apply button that brings up a nice form you fill out and upload your resume--or you can contact me here.
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