Going Galt? Give me a break

I have a friend who seems to believe in Ayn Rand Objectivist philosophy and talks about Tea Parties and Going Galt.
I’m guilty of not having read Atlas Shrugged though I did like this 1000 word summary of Atlas Shrugged . I certainly enjoyed this discussion from Ezra Klein
Here’s a great review from Whittaker Chambers reviewing in 1957 Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged on National Review Online:

Its story is preposterous. It reports the final stages of a final conflict (locale: chiefly the United States, some indefinite years hence) between the harried ranks of free enterprise and the “looters.” These are proponents of proscriptive taxes, government ownership, labor, etc., etc. The mischief here is that the author, dodging into fiction, nevertheless counts on your reading it as political reality. This,” she is saying in effect, “is how things really are. These are the real issues, the real sides. Only your blindness keeps you from seeing it, which, happily, I have come to rescue you from.”
Since a great many of us dislike much that Miss Rand dislikes, quite as heartily as she does, many incline to take her at her word. It is the more persuasive, in some quarters, because the author deals wholly in the blackest blacks and the whitest whites. In this fiction everything, everybody, is either all good or all bad, without any of those intermediate shades which, in life, complicate reality and perplex the eye that seeks to probe it truly.


Google Voice/Grand Central vs. Skype

I decided to give Skype a try, again, after I started working with a few people that use it for chat, teleconference and video conferencing.
Contrary to what some people are saying, it seems like a complementary offering to Google Voice. I spend a lot of time in front of my computer and there’s a certain benefit to being able to call and be called from it. But I’m not about to give out my skype phone number for people to call — I don’t always have a computer on.
On the other hand, if I add my Skype phone number to Google Voice and gave out the Google Voice phone number, than rather I wanted to answer a call from my computer, my cell phone, or my home phone becomes irrelevant.
From NY Times: Google Voice May Threaten Other Phone Services:

Google Voice allows users to route all their calls through a single number that can ring their home, work and mobile phones simultaneously. It also gives users a single and easy-to-manage voice mail system for multiple phone lines. And it lets users make calls, routed via the Internet, free in the United States and for a small fee internationally.


Qt Labs Blogs » Lightning-fast JavaScript

Here are the performance numbers about Qt4.5’s improvement in JavaScript performance that I mentioned in yesterday’s post. It offers about a seven times performance improvement on ix86 processors. From Lightning-fast JavaScript:

For Qt 4.5, the JavaScript engine is powered by a new bytecode interpreter, along with optional JIT (just-in-time) compile support. They are often referred as SquirrelFish and SquirrelFish Extreme, respectively. This interpreter has been developed by Apple engineers working on WebKit in order to speed-up JavaScriptCore, the backbone of WebKit’s JavaScript engine. The interpreter makes its first appearance in the recent Safari 4 Public Beta, where it is dubbed as Nitro JavaScript Engine.

Longer is better:


Thunderbird and Gmail

In my quest for the ultimate email, rss, and newsreader I’m giving Thunderbird 3.0b2 a try. Check out this post for a few more details. So far, decent for email, decent for news, but it’s weak for rss.
First, read these two tutorials:

Then, you ned to figure out keyboard shortcuts
If you are curious about how messages get retrieved, check out this tidbit on IMAP and the “IDLE” command from Entire message fetched when opening a IMAP message:

mail.imap.fetch_by_chunks controls whether Thunderbird tries to fetch a message body (or any other MIME body part) in chunks. mail.imap.chunk_size controls the size of the chunk. It currently defaults to 10240 bytes. If you set the chunk size too big, it defeats any attempt to fetch just the message body. One problem with enabling fetching by chunks is it breaks the optimizations built into the TCP/IP protocols, and adds extra overhead as each chunk has to be acknowledged. If tweaking the “MIME Parts On Demand” preferences doesn’t help, or if it works but you get poor performance, try disabling fetching by chunks.


Suse 11.1, NFS, exportfs

I tried to mount an NFS volume on my MacBook at home and it was failing. I hadn’t accesed my NFS in a month since I updated to OpenSuse 11.1 or changed some network parameters.
Checking the logs on the server (/var/log/messages) showed this error:

mount request from unknown host

but the IP address seemed good. I checked the exported filesystems:

$ sudo exportfs
/home           192.168.13.*

and everything looked fine. Checked the exports(5) man page:

$ man 5 exports

and realized the “*” is meaningless in that context. Changed /etc/exports to use the /24 address for my network:


and re-exported:

$ sudo exportfs -ra


Setting up my iPhone and various other clients to access my email via IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) I’d been reading about how Google finally supported the “IDLE” command and how this made “push” work a lot better. I finally got around to looking up some details. In a nutshell, the client keeps the TCP connection open; sends the “IDLE” command; and eventually the server responds when there’s a message.
From IMAP IDLE: The best approach for ‘push’ email:

How IDLE Works
IMAP works by the software on the mobile device (the client) issuing commands to the server. An IMAP server provides two things in response to a client command:

  1. An answer to the request.
  2. Information on any new messages.

This means that where a client is actively doing things with an IMAP server, it will > be told immediately about new messages. The client can then get summary information on the message to present to the user, and can (automatically) download the message when appropriate.
This means that an active client will always be kept up to date. The IDLE command deals with the situation where the client has no more requests to make. The server responds to the idle command when there is a new message (or messages) which indicates to the client that there are new messages.


Qt 4.5 released


Qt is now released under the Lesser General Public License meaning it can be freely linked into commercial applications.


Read What’s New or a more detailed description to see what’s changed since Qt 4.4 (released in May, 2008).

  • If you haven’t upgraded to Qt4, here’s what changed since Qt 3.3.4 in June, 2005.

  • Latest WebKit (aka the html display used by Apple’s Safari browser) including support for Netscape plug in so, for example, Flash can be embedded. Includes HTML 5 and CSS animation.

  • XSLT support (XML translation)

  • QtCreator is a Visual Studio like editor that works cross platform and incorporates debuging support and Qt Designer (a layout editor).

  • Mac OS X Cocoa support (latest Mac graphics library). Enables 64-bit support.


Read either Improved Performance or a white paper with more details and it requires registration so they can email it to you.

  • FileDialog is significantly faster (60x in one case)

  • QGraphicsView optimized

  • Clipping sped up.

  • Added SquirrelFish javascript engine which is much, much faster.

  • Added QtBenchLib to make application performance testing easier.


A few other noteworthy changes:


How to argue for more tax cuts

When you’re only policy solution is tax cuts, I guess you get pretty good at arguing for them. Matthew Yglesias summarizes the Republican arguments from the past decade.
From The Genius of Capitalism and the Tax Cut Debate:

There’s a certain beginner’s level of this. Here, when progressive tax policy has been in place during a period of growth, and that growth has led to a budget surplus, you argue not that it’s smart to balance the budget over the course of the business cycle, but rather that the surplus reflects the government “overcharging” in taxes that should be returned to those who pay the most taxes; which is to say to those who have the most money; which is to say to the rich. That’s a 1999 argument. Then if the economy falls into recession wiping out the surpluses, you argue that a tax cut for the rich is needed as economic stimulus. That’s a 2001 argument. And if the economy is growing during a period of conservative tax policy, you argue that the low taxes produced the growth so need to be kept in place forever. That’s a 2005 argument. And then if the economy falls into recession again, you argue that additional permanent tax cuts for the wealthy are the only solution.