The latest Southern Station Newsletter has some gems

September 29th 2009
Friday 9/11/09 8:35AM 1546 Market St.: Officer Woo was standing on Market St at Franklin dealing with transient related call when he observed the suspect being chased by an woman. The woman saw Officer Woo and yelled "help, help she just stole ice cream from my store." Officer Woo detained the suspect and recovered the stolen ice cream. The victim stated the suspect entered her store and opened a bag of chips and started eating them. The victim told her to stop it. The suspect refused, took off her shoe and hit the victim over the head. The suspect then went into the freezer, stole the ice cream and ran. The suspect was booked at County Jail 9.

Saturday 9/12/09 12:09 AM 1155 Market St.: Officer Forneris and Officer Madrid were on patrol when they were dispatched to a call of a person who was assaulted with a cane. Officer Cronin and Officer O'Keeffe arrived on scene and detained the suspect. The Officers spoke to the victim who stated the suspect beat her multiple times on her head and back with his cane. The victim stated the suspect just kept yelling that his girlfriend told him to beat her up. The suspect was booked at County Jail 9.

Sunday 9/13/09 11:29 PM 563 Natoma St.: Officer Gunter and Officer Tack were responding to a call of a burglary. Upon their arrival, Officer Forneris and Officer Madrid had the suspect detained with the assistance of Sgt. Frazer and Officer Glynn. The suspect had taken off the security gate and was crouched down by the front door of the residence. When the suspect saw the Officers he tried to pull his hood over his head to hide. But that didn't work!! When Officer Cronin and Officer Tack made contact with the residents they stated that they were sleeping when they heard a loud bang. The suspect was trying to kick open the door. Both victims were terrified for their life. The suspect had numerous prior arrests for violence and theft. The suspect was booked at County Jail 9.

Tuesday 9/15/09 11:05 PM 479 Natoma St.: Officer Pedroza, Officer Frost, Sgt. Christ and Sgt. Bragagnolo were working plain clothes in the area. The Officers and Sergeants were walking east on Natoma St. when they observed a hand to hand narcotics transaction. When the two suspects saw the Officers they both tried to throw their rocks of cocaine they had. One of the suspects even tried to throw the cocaine down a storm drain. HOWEVER, Sgt. Bragagnolo was smarter then the suspect!! Sgt. Bragagnolo got a rake handle, put a piece of chewing gum on the tip of the handle and was able to recover the one piece of rock cocaine that fell down the gutter! GOOD McGyver work Sgt. Bragagnolo! All in all the Officers/Sergeants recovered nine pieces of rock cocaine. Both of the suspects were booked at County Jail 9.

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dnalounge update

DNA Lounge update, wherein GAMH gets some good news, but not as good as it sounds.
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I, for one, welcome our new robotic pancake-sorting overlords.

Greatest hits from the voiceover:

"Using robotic technology to transform the production of pancakes"

"Then operators manually check the pancakes for consistency"

"The pancakes are then fed into the robotic enclosure"

"Integrated with the PickMaster software are four gigabit ethernet cameras mounted in front of each robot, and used to locate each pancake's position on the conveyor."

"Speaking about the Final Solution... Director of Honeytop Specialty Foods Limited said... despite some apprehension... the robots have enabled us to absorb a number of overheads, thanks to reduced labor costs and improved productivity."

I think I can read between the lines to understand how this robotic "Final Solution" can "absorb overheads" and "reduce labor costs".

But here's what I don't understand: there is a company who sell pre-made stacks of pancakes? That's something that is done? Who would want this? I am disgusted.

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Exclusively at Tape Barn

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What's worse than a Bus Plunge...?

...why, a bus plunge WITH BEES.

A teenager died and more than 20 people were injured when swarms of bees escaped from their hives after the van transporting them crashed into a lorry and overturned on a motorway near the resort of Marmaris, in southern Turkey.

Previously, previously, previously.

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Current Music: Belly -- The Bees ♬

that "duct tape" silliness

So, Peter Seibel interviewed me for his book. Then Joel Spolsky wrote this weird article about me based on that interview where he called me a "Duct Tape programmer". Peter asked me what I thought about it. I responded:
It's such a strange article, in that it's mostly favorable to my point of view but with such a breathless amazement to it, like he's just discovered an actual unicorn or something. "Look, everybody! Here's a hacker who actually accomplished things and yet he doesn't fetishize the latest fads that I and all of my friends make our living writing about!" There's this tone to the thing like he just can't imagine that someone like me can exist. He's impressed but he doesn't really believe in it, this mythological creature he's discovered. And of course the whole "duct tape" thing is vaguely insulting, and a perfect example of what we call "damning with faint praise".

So I guess to the extent that he puts me up on a pedestal for merely being practical, that's a pretty sad indictment of the state of the industry.

In a lot of the commentary surrounding his article elsewhere, I saw all the usual chestnuts being trotted out by people misunderstanding the context of our discussions: A) the incredible time pressure we were under and B) that it was 1994. People always want to get in fights over the specifics like "what's wrong with templates?" without realizing the historical context. Guess what, you young punks, templates didn't work in 1994. They also like to throw stones at Mozilla, and how much 4.0 sucked and how mozilla.org decided they needed to rewrite it all in 1999, so that jwz code must not have been any good, right? The peanut gallery always fails to understand that I was talking about an entirely different code base that pretty much ceased to exist by early 1996, thanks to the (at the time completely unwarranted) Collabra rewrite, and that has never been seen by the outside world.

Around 1998 I pushed for Netscape to open source both the 3.0 and 4.0 code bases, since the 3.0 code base was the one that included a mail reader that actually worked, but they wouldn't let me do it.

Peter wrote his own response to Joel's article that goes into more detail with some more excerpts from the book.

I really enjoyed reading Peter's book, by the way. (The parts that I'm not in, I mean.) You should buy it.

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My ongoing Kafka-esque nightmare of dealing with Palm and their App Catalog submission process.

A few days after the Palm Pre was released, I wrote a couple of programs for it: a restaurant Tip Calculator, and a port of Dali Clock. These were, as far as I'm aware, the 2nd and 3rd third-party applications for Palm WebOS that were ever available. I got on this boat early.

So why are they still not available in Palm's App Catalog? That's a very good question. This is my story about attempting to simply distribute this free software that I have written, and how Palm has so far completely prevented me from doing so.

The main problem here is that the only reasonable way that exists to distribute software for the Palm Pre is to get it into the App Catalog. On Palm's previous operating system, PalmOS, you could download and install applications from anywhere. There was a thriving software ecosystem of third-party applications for the Palm Treo, Centro, and their decade-long history of PDAs before that. You could (and I did) buy third-party software that ran on PalmOS on random web sites, or buy it in physical stores on CD-ROMs.

But taking a page from Apple's play-book, Palm has now decided that they have to be the one and only gate-keeper for all the software on your Palm Pre, in a way they never did on the Treo, Centro, or any of the earlier PDAs.

So if you, a developer, want to get your software into the hands of your customers, you have to beg and plead and wheedle Palm to distribute it for you.

Shortly after I wrote those applications in June, I mailed a few people inside Palm trying to figure out how to get them into the App Catalog, so that normal people could actually run them. In July, Palm publically asked for submissions for the App Catalog. I submitted my apps, signed up for their application-submission web site in July, printed out ten pages of PDF legal documents, signed them and scanned them back, then signed up for their web site again when they threw away the previous web site and created a whole new one in August, and basically jumped through dozens of hoops -- literally dozens of email exchanges -- from July through September.

They had all kinds of ridiculous requests and requirements, like, "It's a corporate policy that all of the applications use a version number less than 1.0.0", even though Dali Clock is already at version 2.31. But whatever. I jumped through all their hoops.

Finally, in mid-August they found a hoop I would not jump through. They said:

Required: You can only distribute your app via the Palm App Catalog. Do not make your app available on your website or anywhere other than the App Catalog.

They were objecting to the existence of the source code and binary executables on my Tip Calculator and Dali Clock web sites! I responded:

This is absolutely unacceptable, and frankly I find it offensive that you would ask for this.

This is open source software, and I will distribute both source and binaries any way I see fit, and give permission to anyone else to do the same.

If this is a requirement for inclusion in your app catalog, then I will stop developing for your platform at all.

Look, I'm on your side. I've been rooting for Palm for years, primarily because of the openness of the old PalmOS platform. But if this is your new direction, forget it. I use the Pre every day, and believe me when I tell you that you have exactly two advantages over the iPhone. First, a physical keboard. Second, a more open development environment and the goodwill of your developers. Apple has been shooting itself in the foot over its app store policies lately, and their idiocy has been your gain. Don't screw this up. If you try to maintain as much control as they do over the applications available, you are going to be a footnote. Did the vast numbers of applications available for PalmOS teach you nothing?

A few weeks later, I got a response asking to have a conversation about my objections after signing a non-disclosure agreement! I said no, obviously.

Finally, in September, I got a reply from Joe Hayashi (I don't know what his position is, but apparently he's somewhat higher up in the food chain than the folks I had been arguing with before) who said, "We aren't asking that you remove the binaries or source of your apps from your web site, and we aren't restricting anyone from distributing their source code, open source license or otherwise." Well, actually, that's exactly what they had asked for, but I was willing to assume that what he was trying to say was "we have now changed our crazy policy." Great. Problem solved, right?

I said, "Thank you for changing your policy. When can I expect to see my applications in the app catalog?"

Now, they have apparently changed the rules again, and won't post my applications until I give them a PayPal "Verified" account, and (possibly?) pay them $99/year in order to give away my software for free. My last exchange with Palm, on Sep 14:

I wrote:

Can you tell me what the status is of my apps? Will Tip Calculator and Dali Clock be showing up in the app catalog soon?

Liz Benson wrote:

I'll check status on these and see if we can't expedite. I know we sent you a review on Tip Calculator a while back and that you had feedback on our feedback. I'll ask for a re-review and see where we are.
I wrote:
Thanks.

I replied to the last review email I got (and then it was all de-railed because of the "you must take the source code off your web site" demand, which has since been rescinded.) The other small code changes you asked for, I don't agree with, and I'm not going to do.

I consider both Tip Calculator and Dali Clock to be complete.

I would be happy if you would post them both as-is to your app catalog.

If you think the minor changes that you asked for that I'm not interested in making are deal breakers, then please just tell me that, and I'll give up.

Is this a PayPal "Verified" account? That is what is needed to get you set up on the new portal.

No, it's not, because I don't trust Paypal to have my checking account number. I'm happy with them only having my credit card number.

Please understand: these programs are free. I am not, and will never, be charging money for them.

If you're not going to post them without me giving Paypal my checking account number, then, forget it. I will just stop trying to get my code into your app catalog, because that's just one ridiculous roadblock too many.

I have written free software that I am trying to give away and so far this has involved 27 emails and ten pages of signed documents.

I understand that you're still trying to work the bugs out of your submission process, but seriously, this is downright Kafka-esque.

Please, just post the programs already. Or tell me you're never going to, so I can stop trying.

I am so frustrated by this.

It's been two weeks, and I have received no reply. In the months since this process began, other third-party developers seem to have managed to get their applications into the App Catalog. Apparently these people are better at jumping through ridiculous hoops than I am.

So at this point I think it's safe to say that I won't be developing any more software for the Palm Pre.

Maybe it's time to look into getting an Android phone again.


Update, Sep 29:

    Despite Joe Hayashi's claim that "We aren't asking that you remove the binaries or source of your apps from your web site, and we aren't restricting anyone from distributing their source code, open source license or otherwise", gregv points out that the license agreement that comes with the 1.2 Palm SDK that was released yesterday still contains the restriction that applications may only be distributed through the Palm App Catalog. Let's hope that this is just an oversight: that the company has, in fact, changed this policy, but that the paperwork just hasn't yet caught up to reality. An official statement from Palm to clear up these contradictory statements would be appreciated by everybody, I'm sure.

Update, Oct 6:

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But where's the remix?

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"Asshole Bomb".

Here come the airport rectal exams!
Uh-oh. Now that a terrorist has tried unsuccessfully to blow up a Saudi prince with a bomb shoved up his ass, the TSA is obliged to perform rectal exams on every flier for the rest of time. After all, once a jihadi failed to blow up a plane with his shoe, we all needed to start taking our shoes off. Then some knuckleheads believed they could blow up a plane with energy beverages and hair gel, so now we have to limit ourselves to 100ml of all liquids and gels, unless they're for babies or are prescription (because no mass-murderer would be so evil as to forge a doctor's note, which, as every junkie knows, cannot possibly be forged).

Now we found someone who was made to believe he could kill people with an asshole bomb, and so it follows that the TSA will have to ban -- or at least inspect -- our assholes.

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"The owner of the cows was 'very upset' by the incident."


Animal-cruelty charges dropped against Burlington County cop

During a bizarre hearing there yesterday, a Superior Court judge dismissed animal-cruelty charges against a Moorestown police officer accused of sticking his penis into the mouths of five calves in rural Southampton in 2006, claiming a grand jury couldn't infer whether the cows had been "tormented" or "puzzled" by the situation or even irritated that they'd been duped out of a meal.

"If the cow had the cognitive ability to form thought and speak, would it say, 'Where's the milk? I'm not getting any milk,' " Judge James J. Morley asked.

Children, Morley said, seemed "comforted" when given pacifiers, but there's no way to know what bovine minds thought of Robert Melia Jr. substituting his member for a cow's teat.

"They [children] enjoy the act of suckling," the judge said. "Cows may be of a different disposition." [...]

Sex with cows is the least of Melia's problems, though.

He and former girlfriend, Heather Lewis, of Pemberton Township, are also accused of sexually assaulting three young girls over a five-year period, sometimes in Melia's Cottage Avenue home in Moorestown, where he was a patrolman, authorities said. [...]

During the course of the investigation, authorities also discovered child pornography on Melia's home computer as well as videos of him with the cows. [...]

Morgan, the prosecutor, said in court that the owner of the cows was "very upset" by the incident.


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