Words On Wednesday

Words on Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Watch out, I get political. Rare, but it happens.

 

The Nexus 7 – Repurposed to be Useful Again

I have one of the original 2012 edition Nexus 7 devices, and it has served many purposes.

 

When I first got a Nexus 7 (I’ve technically had 2. The first was tragically broken when I dropped it and the touch screen became unresponsive), it was intended as a device to do some basic Android programming on. My only other device at the time was a horribly outdated Droid 2 Global with an ancient version of Android. The Nexus allowed me to tinker with the most recent software and gave me a separate device so I wouldn’t be taking risks with my main communication device.

 

My Android programming class began and ended, and I stopped any sort of software testing with the Nexus. It became a toy and a wifi backup to my phone, with most of my communication coming through Google Voice. The front facing camera is mediocre and there is no rear facing camera, so it certainly has limitations. I played some games on it, taking it with me whenever I knew I would get bored.

 

When I replaced my phone with a Nexus 4, most of the appeal of the tablet quickly died. Both devices got the latest version of Android rather quickly. The phone was easier to carry, more powerful, and just generally my preferred device. The tablet just gathered dust. It would frequently go days or even weeks without so much as being touched. I typically had to charge it up any time I planned on using it, which was typically only when my phone was either lost or I knew the battery would die before I returned home. Being so old and with storage so packed with useless apps, the device was cripplingly slow and unpleasant to use.

 

My wife had started playing Bingo on the tablet occasionally in her spare time. Even with such a minor game, my pitiful tablet could hardly keep a decent framerate up. Couple this with the fact that I wanted a mp3 player to avoid burning through my data, and it was decided we would factory reset it. After the reset, it was ridiculously more responsive. I started syncing my music to it, and we downloaded her bingo game again.

 

For the past few weeks, the tablet has stayed charged and remained with me to and from work almost daily. When the Android 5.0 OTA went out, I started playing with the new features and stumbled upon Google Newsstand. I had previously bought a few magazines, but the News feature was new to me. With the ability to download news sources and have stories automatically cycle out any time I’m connected to wifi, I actually have something to read up on while I’m out and about.

 

Over its lifespan, I’ve used my Nexus 7 for a lot of things. Chances are, I won’t even be using it the way I am now for long. That’s one of the many things I find beautiful about technology. I bought this low cost device a while back for one purpose, and it has acted as a large number of tools for me.

 

Radio Parsing

Maybe I’m just a nerd, but I have a great idea about radio stations and playlists.

 

I’m a big fan of music. I have a rather large music library containing numerous genres and I love hearing new music. FM radio bugs me because…

  1. They play the same popular songs over and over
  2. Talk shows are annoying
  3. Ads are annoying
  4. Quality is abysmal, even if you’re near the broadcasting station

However, if I don’t listen to FM radio at least some, a lot of new music goes right past me. I’ve come up with an idea to fix all these problems.

 

Based on a coworker’s project of an IMDB HTML scraper, I want to scrape radio station logs and populate their songs to databases. Luckily, tunegenie.com has me covered. Most stations I like the music of use tunegenie for their on air playlist, which makes formatting similar across the board.

New Rock 93.3 The Planet – http://wtpt.tunegenie.com/onair/

Rock 101 – http://wroq.tunegenie.com/onair/

All the Hits B93.7 – http://wfbc.tunegenie.com/onair/

 

My plan is to create a background task to load up these sites every 15 minutes or so, grab the HTML with the current on air songs, and grab all the artist and song titles to put in my own DB. The DB will, of course, only add songs that aren’t already included. The scraper will also grab a timestamp anytime a new song is added.

 

When I’ve let the the scraper run for a few days or weeks, I’ll take the DBs and add songs from my own library to playlists for each station. I can check the db every so often, sorted by timestamp, to see if new songs have been played. With sources like YouTube and Spotify, I can check out new titles to see how they are and add them to my library if I like them.

 

Once I’ve made playlists for my favorite stations, all my previous problems with FM radio will be solved:

  1. Songs are shuffled at random, based on the entire list of songs normally played. No more hearing the new or popular songs twice every hour.
  2. No talk shows
  3. No ads
  4. Quality depends on my own library, typically ripped as 320kbps mp3
  5. I have a convenient list of new songs to investigate occasionally

Plus, any stations supported by tunegenie are fair game. If someone else want a station that I don’t care for, plug in the URL and everything should port right over. Extensibility!

 

Political Issues

I’m not into politics, but for the sake of sharing I’ve included how I feel on a list of political issues pulled loosely from politics1.com/issues with some tweaks.

 

Please be aware, my views may be controversial. I know very little of politics and these are simply my thoughts on some bigger issues. If it makes you feel better, pretend I’m just writing specifically to offend and that these do not reflect my views at all.

 

Abortion – I personally do not advise abortions except in the case of fallopian tube pregnancies that could potentially kill the mother and child or tentatively in the case of pregnancies with confirmed birth defects. I wouldn’t say that I’m necessarily Pro-Life and want these rights stripped of others, however. If an abortion is something the individual feels is necessary or preferable, I believe they have the right to act on that.

Budget and Taxes – Nobody likes taxes, but they are a necessity to fund the government. I feel that the most fair way to distribute taxes is a flat percentage of income, no matter what bracket an individual falls in. If some get taxed at 5%, everyone should get taxed at 5%. I also feel there should be a large reduction in the salary of government officials. If they want the job, they should want it for the betterment of the country.

Campaign Tactics – Slander and negative campaigning against other candidates should be completely removed. Buzzwords and fancy jargon are unnecessary. Tell me how you feel about a variety of issues and allow me to decide for myself who deserves to be elected.

Crime – So many people feel that making more laws is the best way to reduce crime. This line of thinking is idiotic. Criminals do not obey laws. Murder, rape, theft, and plenty of other practices are illegal, but they still happen. Instead, I feel that steps should be taken to actively deter people from committing these acts with penalties other than “You’ll go to jail and you might be killed.” As for what, I’m not sure.

Death PenaltyHere’s where it gets interesting. I am personally a fan of the death penalty for quite a number of crimes. I couldn’t necessarily list them all, or specify what I feel deserves the death penalty, but I do think you should die for a lot of things. How the death penalty is executed (haha, get it?), however, is very precise.

  • Depending on the severity and certainty of a crime, inmates get up to a 1 year waiting period before execution. I realize that some crimes are proven to be committed by someone else long after someone has been imprisoned or executed. This sucks, but that is the nature of law. They don’t always get the right guy.
  • A typical lethal injection, if I remember correctly from reading somewhere, costs something upwards of $50,000 for a single death. I have an idea to reduce that price and potentially even turn a profit for the government.
    • We bring back gladiators. This is optional and those who do not wish to participate receive the firing squad or electric chair. A single live round, 4 blanks, and 5 willing participants is far cheaper to acquire than a lethal injection, I’m sure.
    • When 2 willing inmates are available, they are scheduled to fight. There could be some sort of regulation in place such as weight classes, combat history, or some other category. The details could be fleshed out later.
    • The inmates are given a last meal and allowed a selection of weapon and armor. Equipment could include swords, axes, shields, helmets, and whatever else deemed appropriate for the event.
    • The loser dies, as is appropriate for death row. The winner is given some time to recover depending on wounds and allowed another last meal before the next fight.
    • These events are opened to the public for paid entry. Call me cruel, heartless, or any variation of the two, but people love violence. With the high ticket prices that MMA fights and such bring, people would pay absurd sums of money to see such a thing.

Drugs – All recreational drugs should be legalized everywhere. Marijuana, cocaine, heroine, and everything else. Any unrelated crimes committed while under the influence of or in any way related to these drugs are treated exactly the same as if no drugs were involved. Hopefully, idiotic abusers of these drugs will have themselves killed off by their own stupidity and casual users who understand restraint can avoid punishment.

Education – I am fully in favor of providing education to as many people as possible for as low cost as possible. I firmly feel that everyone could better themselves by becoming more educated. If you have some high school experience, get a diploma or GED. If you have a doctorate degree, get an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in some entirely different field. Knowledge is power.

Environment – Fossil fuel is bad for the environment, not recycling is bad for the environment, plenty of things are bad for the environment. I get this. We need to fix it. I’m not sure how, and I don’t want some sort of law requiring recycling and cleaner energy, but there should be some form of incentive for them.

Euthanasia – Your life, you end it on your terms. Like abortion, it isn’t something I would advocate for personally, but I do feel the option should be available for those who do want it.

Foreign Relations – I believe it was Teddy Roosevelt that once said “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” Maybe it was Franklin Roosevelt. I don’t know. Regardless, I think we should mind our own business. If something gets violent with other countries and could potentially have effects on the rest of the world, we should try to tentatively mediate. Otherwise, we should stay out of it.

First Amendment – I should probably read up on my constitutional amendments more.

Free Speech – Should remain free. Everyone should be able to say anything.

The Internet – All bits treated equally, I am fully in favor of net neutrality. There should be no fast or slow lanes.

Gay Rights and Women – I think everyone should be treated equally. If people of any race, sexuality, gender, religion, etc want a job, position, or some other opportunity, they should not be discriminated against. I will not, however, fight for those rights if I do not fit into the category. If you try to say anything along the lines of “if you aren’t for the cause, you’re against it,” then you are an idiot and I do not care about your opinion. I can approve of a cause without actively supporting it.

Guns – As a concealed weapons permit holder, I am fully in favor of training people with guns and equipping them. I strongly believe that if teachers and school administrators were equipped with firearms and this were made known with a sign at every entrance to the building, school shootings would drop drastically. Emergency response time is far longer than most people have in a deadly situation. If several people around are carrying weapons, I severely doubt that most potential criminals would still have the confidence to go through with an act. I do believe that before anyone can buy a firearm, they should be required to undergo a psychiatric evaluation. This psych eval should be repeated every few years, at least. If someone is going to attack another person, they’ll do it with a gun, a knife, a bat, or whatever they can get their hands on.

Health Care – People should have a right to be healthy. There shouldn’t be an incentive to not work just because the government will take care of you, but there should be some sort of collective health care so that everybody gets the treatment they need.

Immigration – Get your green card, pay taxes if you plan on staying here.

International Trade – Trade doors should be kept wide open. If another country can do something for cheaper, let them. If you want customers local, provide something other countries can’t, doesn’t matter if it’s quality, price, peace of mind, or anything else.

Labor Unions, Jobs and Business – Cut the gap between minimum wage and top CEO salary. I don’t think minimum wage should be raised, since that just drives up the cost of other goods and services. Pull a Robin Hood and take from the rich to give to the poor, they can afford it.

Military, War, & Veterans – Similar to foreign relations, don’t get involved with stuff we don’t have any business in. Take care of your veterans, but don’t let them loaf around and do nothing for the rest of their lives. They served their country, and that’s awesome. Doesn’t mean it’s a free ticket to sit around and relax.

Social Security & Seniors – I highly doubt social security will be providing benefits to the elderly by the time I retire. Overhaul the entire system so that people can’t take advantage of the system, and those who have put in their work are rewarded.

 

To quote a song by Lamb of God:

“Whoever appeals to the law against his fellow man is either a fool or a coward.

Whoever cannot take care of themselves without that law is both.

For a wounded man shall say to his assailant,

‘If I live, I will kill you. If I die, You are forgiven.’

Such is the rule of honour.”

 

I do not believe in a heavy reliance upon any sort of government. I feel that all politicians are crooks and liars. I refuse to vote for anyone when the only choices are down to the lesser of evils. The day I encounter a politician I can confidently get behind is the first day I’ll vote. Until then, I’m not registering.

Ferguson

A hot topic, that I don’t feel is appropriate this week. My opinion is too emotionally charged and I want to give the heat time to blow over before I make any sort of commentary. Expect something next week about how I feel on the matter.

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One thought on “Words on Wednesday, November 26, 2014

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