Another VP Post – Paul Ryan

I think I agree with the general consensus from Democrats/liberals that Ryan is an exciting opponent to go up against, and I wanted to try to articulate why.

Let’s imagine for moment that instead of Ryan, Romney chose someone that was essentially a clone of himself as a running-mate. The election would have proceeded with the Romney/Clone ticket being non-specific about what they would do with the presidency, which would make this election more a referendum on Obama than the country thinking Romney was the right guy for the job. Now, I think Obama would still win that match-up, but how would the Republican party and conservative movement respond to that loss? They would argue that Romney was not Republican enough. He wasn’t conservative enough. Or at least not strong enough of one. Tea Partiers wouldn’t take the blame either, because he was never a voice for them. So they would come away thinking that, next time around, they just need a stronger Republican/conservative/Tea-Partier. And who the hell wants that? What we want is to convince as many Republicans and conservatives as possible that their ideas are wrong, not to have them go back and try to figure out a way to win with their current agenda.

So Ryan gives us that chance. Ryan embodies the current Republican mindset. He’s pretty young, so he comes off as the future of the Republican party. He’s even got a little bit of the Tea-Party fairy dust on him. And now we have a chance to beat all of those things in a presidential election. If Obama and Biden can do that with a decent margin of victory, the repercussions would help to dismantle some of what’s preventing the progressive movement from…. progressing. It would also damage the idea that austerity is what we need to fix our fiscal problems.

So maybe a “thank you” is in order.

MVC 4 and Azure emulator error: CREATE DATABASE permission denied in database ‘master’

Go through the basics of ASP.Net MVC 4 and Azure development, I ran into a problem when the site would try to access the database:

CREATE DATABASE permission denied in database ‘master’

I found this site detailing the problem and a potential soltuion:

What that doesn’t cover is the fact that, when debugging with the Azure emulator, it’s not using your personal local account anymore. It’s using the “NT AUTHORITY\NETWORK SERVICE” account. So the steps to grant that account access to the database from SQLCMD is:

CREATE LOGIN [your domain account] FROM WINDOWS;

Hillary as VP?

I’ve wondered for a long time whether Hillary would be tapped as Obama’s vice president for his reelection campaign. And with women’s health issues taking a front-seat of the political stage recently, it’s making even more sense.

First off, Biden doesn’t really help Obama any more. Let’s be honest and accept that in 2008 Obama needed an old white guy to stand next to while running for president, to ease the concerns of people who, consciously or subconsciously, had a problem voting for a black guy. And it probably helped at the time. But now that Obama has an actual term as president under his belt, standing next to Biden isn’t going to change the minds of people like that any more. They’re either comfortable with a president that’s black to the point where they can judge him on his record, or they’re not.

So after helping Obama get elected, what has Biden done during this term? While I can’t say I’ve been going out of my way to pay attention to Biden’s accomplishments over the past 3+ years, it’s still the case that nothing notable comes to mind. At least nothing that doesn’t involve the words “big fucking deal.”

Now thinking on a longer time frame for the Democrats, and assuming Obama wins reelection, do they want Biden to be the heir apparent in 2016? I can’t imagine that’s the case. He is not an exciting candidate, I don’t think he’s any more palatable now than he was in 2008, and I don’t think he’ll be any better in 2016.

So Biden’s replaceable. It’s rare for a president to switch running mates after their first term, but it’s not unheard of. Looking at the list of vice presidents on Wikipedia, it’s happened a handful of times for various reasons.

As for Hillary being a good choice for Vice President, I think it’s pretty easy to make the case. A resume as first lady, senator, viable presidential candidate, and now secretary of state, is undeniably powerful. Extend that to 2016 and she could add being Vice President to the list.

Why can’t my tablet be the best remote control ever?

Every time Apple TV gets an update, I can’t help but think that Apple (or a competitor) is missing an opportunity.

Check out this quick video from The Verge:

See how you have to move what is essentially a cursor around the screen, using Apple TV’s tiny remote with its arrow and select buttons, to highlight the choice you want? Come on. For as pretty a UI as the Apple TV presents you with, navigating around like that feels so antiquated in this “Post-PC” era that Apple champions.

This is where a tablet comes in. So while mirroring and AirPlay options exist already, they’re awkward features, and it doesn’t make sense for the tablet to do the heavy lifting of data transfer and streaming that both of those options imply. The Apple TV doesn’t have to worry about battery life, so make it do all the work. But what a tablet is really good at is presenting me with choices, and allowing me make my selection using a pretty and responsive interface.

And that’s exactly how a tablet can be used here. See all those menu items at the top of the Apple TV UI? Present me with those choices in a tablet-oriented UI on my tablet. I make my selection, and both my tablet and the TV respond with the next screen of choices. I tap a movie to see its details on both my tablet and the TV. I hit play, the movie starts playing on the TV, and the tablet shows a progress bar and pause/play/etc. buttons along the bottom of its screen. At which point I can navigate away, use a different app, lock my tablet, or turn it all the way off, and the TV keeps showing the content from the Apple TV until told to do otherwise.

This could also be the start to an API that apps could make use of, to essentially have two screens at their disposal. This could be great for both media consumption scenarios, and for the displaying of content with a group of people.

Why can’t my tablet be the best remote control ever?

Half a year later…

… and a bill has passed. While it doesn’t have a public option, it is still a good thing. Insurance reforms to make the current system better. It’s hard for me to understand how that can be viewed as a bad thing.

Some view the fact that one will be forced to buy insurance (and given subsidies if they can’t afford it) as either an infringement on our freedom or as a legislated racket controlled by the insurance companies. But so be it: assuming that in order for healthcare in this country to be effective, it would require that most people have insurance, perhaps it’s irrelevant where that insurance comes from. As long as there are rules and regulations on how healthcare is dolled out, and assuming those rules are enforced in good faith, does it really matter if it comes from the government or from the private sector? It doesn’t to me, to be honest. The end result (effective healthcare) is my chief concern.

So this bill is a good balance. It keeps the basis of our current system in place, while regulating it so that it offers a level of healthcare that approaches what a government-run system would to be. It’s good policy.

I always had faith that Obama and the Democrats would get something passed. It got scary at points, I never gave up hope on it. I hope, and believe, that this isn’t the last major success for President Obama. He keeps this up, this level of expert political jujitsu, and he will not have any problems getting re-elected in 2012. Republicans have got their work cut out for them.

A Public Option is the best plan

I understand I am most likely just playing into the degenerate rhetoric you find on the internet when it comes to political discussion, but I’ve been thinking about this health reform stuff a little too much, so I needed to write something.

All right, here goes.

You have a public option when it comes to security: the police. If their protection is not sufficient for you, you can go to the free market and hire a private security firm.

You have a public option when it comes to legal defense: a court-appointed attorney. If their defense is not good enough for you, you can go to the free market and hire a lawyer.

You have a public option when it comes to education: the public school system. If you deem that system insufficient for your child, you can go to the free market and find a school that meets your child’s needs and your needs as a parent.

You have a public option when it comes to shipping letters and packages: the U.S. Post Office. If the services they provide don’t meet your needs, you can go to the free market and find a private shipping company that does.

And with a public health insurance option, the same principle would exist. If the public health insurance option meets your needs in terms of cost and effectiveness, you can use it. If it doesn’t, you can go elsewhere in the same manner you can with all the other industries I mentioned above. All of these options help make this country stronger. None of the options (public or private) are perfect, each have their faults, and a public health insurance option would be no different in that regard. But that doesn’t change the fact that having all these options, public ones included, helps to set the bar for what’s considered acceptable for a citizen of the richest country in the world.

And for this plan to get lost in the discussion of a sea of ridiculous claims about how this plan will kill your grandmother or your baby who has Down syndrome is so, so frustrating. It’s like arguing against having a public security option (a.k.a. the police), because it will cause robbery, since allowing it to happen would be cheaper than trying to stop it. But it’s accepted that police can’t stop every crime, and it likewise will have to be accepted that a public health insurance option will be imperfect as well, and won’t be able to save everybody, or make your grandmother immortal. But, again, this goes back to the notion that if it isn’t good enough of a service for you, you can go to the free market and get something else. A public option will merely set the base standard.

And this is why a public health insurance option is the best plan we could possibly have.

Login Form Input Elements’ Tab Order should be Standardized

One thing that can always irk me about a website’s interface is when the tab order of the site’s login form input elements are not what I expect. Typically, this is the order I want to do things:

  1. Click in the Username field.
  2. Type my username.
  3. Press Tab to go to the password field.
  4. Type my password.
  5. Press Tab to go to the “Remember Me” check box.
  6. Optionally press the spacebar to (un)check “Remember Me.”
  7. Press Tab to go to the submit button.
  8. Press the spacebar to submit the form.

This process often gets mucked up by extra links in the way, like the “Forgot your username/password?” link, or a “?” help link, which really annoys me. Providing your username and password is (well, should be) a keyboard-centric action, and it’s completely unnecessary to ask the user to go back forth between the keyboard and mouse for this.

I don’t know of any existing standard that might apply in this situation, or where a standard like this could even be defined. Would be appropriate for the W3C to include this in their standards? Whatever the case, it’s about time this became a universal aspect of all web sites.

Watched Watchmen

And I thought it was great. It was a very accurate representation of the original graphic novel, and (keep this a secret) I think I liked the ending they had in the movie over the book. There’s no giant squid, but instead the idea is that explosions occur around the world, killing even more millions than in the novel, but Ozymandias orchestrates events such that it’s perceived by the rest of the world that Dr. Manhattan is the cause of the explosions. This was a great idea, since nothing is lost from the story in terms of theme or message, but it makes the ending more tragic and personal, since one the characters we’ve gotten to know is now blamed for genocide and forced to excommunicate himself.

The casting turned out to be spot on. Pretty much everyone was presented nearly identical to how I interpreted them in the novel. One exception would be Sally Jupiter. She was a little too Joan Rivers for me.

If I had to pick one thing to improve, it would be the pacing of some of the scenes. This is probably the fault of trying to keep as short as they could. But certain scenes didn’t feel right. Towards the beginning, when Rorschach is giving a voice over, some of his lines are strung together too fast, making it seem like his mind is moving from thought to thought incohesively. Putting a couple beats between those lines would have helped. Same goes for some of Laurie’s and Daniel’s exchanges. Some of their interactions happened faster than what seems normal.

Can’t wait for the DVD release, though. Seeing the scenes that didn’t make it, as well as potential pacing fixes, is going to be even better.

StyleCop Brutality

We’ve just started to use StyleCop, and the classes I’m currently writing are the first of our project that have to validate correctly before submission. It’s an interesting task, getting my code to be in the exact proper format: the 4 or so classes I’m writing generated over 300 StyleCop errors. I’m amazed at how specific StyleCop is, in regards to what it considers valid. I went into it expecting that it would enforce that certain elements merely have documentation, but it actually goes a step further an enforces that the documentation have specific wording. Kudos the StyleCop on that.

But one (default) rule that I think might be excessive is that a class’ private variables must be documented. While I understand from an idealistic point of view why it should be documented, the typical scenario where I use private variables is one where that documentation seems excessive to me. That scenario is for read-only properties that force me to have a private variable to store the value of the property (if I want to be able to set the property from within the class). In that scenario, I then must document both the private variable and read-only property itself. But documenting that private variable seems just as (ir)relevant as documenting local variable of a method.

I think we’ll be turning that rule off.

ASP.Net MembershipProvider using NHibernate

At work we are in the process of implementing an ASP.Net MembershipProvider that uses NHibernate for the data access. I’m hoping that once it’s all complete, we’ll be able to post it online (somewhere) for the ASP.Net and NHibernate communities to peruse. It seems like a typical thing that developers out in the wild would make use of. Stay tuned.

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