Happy New Year!

No, I’m not nuts. Well, at least not in regards to that headline. This refers to the fact that baseball season has started and we get another year to cheer on the Mariners.

I have been involved with a fantasy baseball league for several years, now, so the beginning of the year is always exciting. We will be drafting our teams on April 11. I’ll give an update here when we’re done to let you know how I make out.

I actually think there’s some optimism for the M’s after two pretty bad years. The defense looks fantastic. Beltre and Sexson at the corners are solid defenders. Lopez has moved to second and actually looks like he’s feeling comfortable there. Betancourt at short is magic. You really have to watch him a while to understand just how good he is. And, he’s only 24.

In the outfield, Ichiro is still Ichiro. Ibañez is average as a defender, but he doesn’t leave a huge hole in left. Reed is turning into a heck of a center fielder. I heard that he trains with Darin Erstad in the offseason. It shows.

Finally, my new favorite player is Kenji Johjima. He’s our starting catcher and is here fresh from Japan. He has been hitting well, catching well, and thrown out a few baserunners already. Such fun.

The offense looks pretty decent with some pop in most of the lineup and some great contact hitters at the top and bottom of the order.

The pitching, as always, is the question mark. Moyer is always good for 15 or so wins. Piniero has the skill, but can be a head case. Washburn showed some good stuff and should eat up innings. Meche is another head case and Hernandez has amazing stuff, but he still has some lessons to learn. The bullpen is shaky at best after Soriano.

Bottom line: It’ll be a bumpy year, but I don’t think we’ll be at 90+ losses again. This team is better than that and it should show in the record. The really good news is that the team is young and shouldn’t change much for a couple of years. They have a chance to become very solid without a lot of churn.

Apple Makes It Possible

Ever since Apple announced that it would being using Intel processors, geeks everywhere have been contemplating the possibilities of running Windows on an Apple-built machine.

Some folks just need to run a couple of Windows-only apps and don’t care about performance. Those folks were asking for a Windows-in-a-box kind of experience where a user could run the Windows OS in a single window. VirtualPC did this kind of thing for a while until the G5 processor broke assumptions in the underlying code.

Others wanted a snappier, more real experience and were asking for a dual-boot scenario. This would mean that each time you started your computer, you could choose whether to boot it up under MacOS or Windows. It also means that you’d have to reboot each time you wanted to change your OS. This promises to have better performance as there is no translation layer and the OS is running directly on the hardware. This is a popular request for folks doing higher performance work or for playing games.

As a cross-platform developer, I kind of need both. I need to be able to switch back and forth quickly (which seems to beg for the former solution), but I also need performance for compiling code and debugging (which seems to beg for the latter). So, I’m looking for the holy grail. I’d like a setup where I could run Windows-in-a-box, but that was high performing. I don’t know if and when that might come, but the concept of virtualization seems to be the ticket. This seems to have fewer issues with emulation and translation layers, but presents the possiblity of running multiple OSes as guests of a host OS.

Yesterday, Apple computer introduced Boot Camp. This is their first cut at addressing some of these issues. Their approach is the dual-boot one that requires you to reboot to each OS, but it does allow Windows to take full advantage of the great hardware they’ve packed in the new Intel Macs. Even better, it appears that they may have met the needs of those gamers who want it all in one machine. This PC World article provides reason for optimism. Especially the following passage:

Back in Windows, I got right down to business and installed a few games to put the graphics and sound support to the test. The quick and dirty verdict on performance? Most impressive. Doom 3 and Far Cry both ran smoothly with high-end graphics options turned on.

In both cases, I had to tweak visual settings manually, since the games automatically set themselves to very low settings. Far Cry, for example, autodetected very low settings, but it ran without a hitch when I bumped the resolution up to 1280 by 720, with all visual quality options set to “High.”

I’ll be in the market for a new Intel-based tower Mac this fall. I will be happy to set it up as a dual boot if it means being able to play some new games (Guild Wars, Unreal Tournament, etc.) on the sweet hardware Apple provides.

Welcome to a brave new world!

They’ve Thought of Everything

I was doing some tax research on the IRS website today and found something that made me laugh.

In a list of taxable and nontaxable income items was this knee-slapper:

Bribes. If you receive a bribe, include it in your income.

I can see it now. “Hmm, I need to amend a prior year return to account for previously unreported bribes.” Ooookay.

Another Plug

Okay, so I have a bias, but I can tell you all about it anyway. My dad is now selling real estate on Camano Island which sits north of Seattle in Puget Sound. It’s a beautiful place.

To help promote his business, I’ve helped to set up a website that promotes living on the island itself. It gives you some history, some interesting links, and an easy way to browse some of the homes for sale in a great part of the world.

Go ahead and give them a visit at : http://www.camanoliving.com/

If you don’t like the site, you can complain to me. If you don’t like the pictures, complain to dad.

Islam or Death

This story really amazes me. The Afghan government is seriously discussing the execution of a man for the crime of accepting Christ as his savior. I’m amazed at the bravery of the man to declare his faith proudly and openly knowing it might be his death sentence. I’m enraged by the idea that a government that depends on our goodwill would consider this at all.

I really don’t know if Islam as a faith is fundamentally broken. However, this situation sure makes it look like there are some deep problems with the idea of Islam living in peace alongside other faiths.

Eugene Volokh made at great point in his recent post on this issue. The key point is here:

The striking thing about the Abdul Rahman prosecution — in which an Afghanistan court is considering whether to execute Rahman because he converted from Islam to Christianity — is how Establishment the prosecution is. The case is before an official Afghani court. The death sentence is, to my knowlege, authorized by official Afghani law. The New York Times reports that the prosecutor, an Afghan government official, “called Mr. Rahman ‘a microbe’ who ‘should be killed.'” The case is in a country which is close to the West, and is presumably under at least some special influence from Western principles (whether as a matter of conviction or of governmental self-interest).
We’re not talking about some rogue terrorist group, or even the government of Iran, which is deliberately and strongly oppositional to the West. We’re talking about a country that we’re trying to set up as something of a model of democracy and liberty for the Islamic world. And yet the legal system is apparently seriously considering executing someone for nothing more than changing his religion.

This is telling evidence, it seems to me, that there is something very wrong in Islam today, and not just in some lunatic terrorist fringe. Doubtless many, I would hope most, Muslims would not endorse executing converts. But a strand of the religion, and a strand that is not far from the levers of political power in at least some countries, does seem to endorse such a position. This is deeply dangerous, most obviously to residents of countries in which radical Islamism has broad support, but also to residents of Western countries as well.

We cannot afford to ignore this issue as we go about rebuilding Afghanistan and Iraq. This is antithetical to the very foundations of our republic.

Disappointing, But Not Unexpected

Having been great fans of Blizzard fare like Starcraft and Warcraft, David and I were waiting for a first-person shooter based on the Starcraft universe called Starcraft: Ghost. It has been delayed a couple of times after being announced almost four years ago.

This latest story seems to confirm our worst fears. They claim they are waiting once again to evaluate the new consoles. I suspect it is more likely that this game will never see the light of day. A great idea that got reworked to death.

Bummer.

Geeks Play Sports, Too

No, you haven’t misread that headline. No, I’m not going to try to claim that chess is a sport (we can have that argument later).

I’m talking about Mike D’Auria. One of many legitimate athletes from my alma mater.

I have to admit that I’m still amazed anyone could put that much time into a sport and still do well in classes there. I was up to my ears in it and had a hard time just keeping up Star Trek. Way to go, Mike!

I’m Shocked (not really)

So Microsoft announces the next version of Windows to ship in 2005. That wasn’t going to happen, so they scale back the feature set and aim for 2006. Well, true to form, that’s not going to happen either. Vista is going to be delayed.

This means that they’ll miss another holiday season. It also means that the next version of Mac OS X will ship before they do. OS X 10.5 (codename Leopard) is due near the end of 2006. I suspect Apple won’t miss that date.

Just one more reason to move to the more cultured platform.

Shameless Plug

What’s the point of having the ability to post on the Internet if you can’t issue a shameless plug once in a while?

Last year, my dad finished a novella and had it published. It’s a great adventure story with a Biblical foundation and powerful message. I encourage you to buy a copy or borrow mine. Clicking the image will take you to Amazon:

Enjoy!

Good Work If You Can Get It

If you need any more evidence that our society is lawsuit happy, then look no further than this story. It’s about a man driving a city truck who hit his own car in his own driveway and then proceeded to sue the city for the damage. Since the judge found it silly that he was effectively suing himself, the man dropped the suit and his wife filed a new one!

This is the ultimate reach for deep pockets of a faceless institution. Really unbelievable.