Category Archives: Life Journal

The press needs to do better, and so do we

What would you think if 2% of the population drove the discussion on the most important issues facing the country? How would feel if this 2% was driving the country apart rather than uniting it? Would you feel part of a representative democracy?

Well, this is the situation we are trending towards, if we’re not already there.

As my one of my favorite bloggers, Michael Mace, pointed out in his most recent post, We’re not as divided as we think we are, 2% of the US population writes 97% of the political posts on Twitter. It’s these posts that are promoted by the press. These posts, which are usually very opinionated and highly controversial, are picked up by the press and presented as though these are the views of the majority of Americans.

Source: We’re not as divided as we think we are – Mobile Opportunity

It begs the question, why does the mainstream press behave this way?

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Benefits of reading

There are those who worry that our worst technological invention will be the creation of a runaway, artificially intelligent supercomputer. While it’s a valid concern, my greatest fear is that we may have already created the scourge of our generation – the internet. Watching The Social Dilemma certainly didn’t ease my fear.

On the other hand, the internet could also be considered the greatest invention of our time. It’s the collective hive. I use it to learn how to fix things around the house, to make all sorts of baked goods, and to program, which is essential to my career. I also discover intriguing content on it. For example, one of my favorite bloggers posted the link to a speech that I would have never found, heard about, or otherwise read.

You can read the full text of the speech by clicking here. It’s a long read, but well worth it. The speech, delivered to the plebe class at The United States Military Academy at West Point by William Deresiewicz in October 2009, is about the relationship between solitude and leadership.

So how is this related to a post about the benefits of reading?

It turns out it has a lot to do with it. It made me think about why I read, what the benefits of reading are, and why I encourage others to read.

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The Value of Browser Diversity

At the beginning of 2019, I made a conscience effort to reduce my usage of Google’s Chrome browser. I felt like Google was collecting too much of my personally identifiable information (PII). Based on the sites I visited, I would see similar ads in Gmail, video recommendations on YouTube, and news recommendations on my Android device. It was very big brother like, and quite honestly, it started to freak me out a bit.

Instead of Chrome, I began using Mozilla’s Firefox browser. The switch was gradual, and I probably use Firefox for 2/3 of my web browsing these days. The best part, switching was easy. Outside of controls being in different places, the browsing experience is identical. It’s the beauty of the web. Standards allow any company to make a browser rendering engine, in theory.

In practice, the number of browser rendering engines is small. There are 3 primary rendering engines – Blink (Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge), Webkit (Apple Safari), and Gecko (Mozilla Firefox). There are a few others, but none have any significant market share. And of the three I mentioned, Blink dominates with over 70% market share (stats as of August 2020).

It begs the question, is browser diversity a necessity to maintain the health of the web, or is it OK if one engine dominates?

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PC upgrade: The 2020 edition

Fractal Node 202 mini-ITX PC

I like building my own computers. Why do I do it?

I enjoy customizing my computer, setting the specs, and selecting the parts. More importantly, I like understanding what’s going on under the hood. If something goes wrong with the machine, there’s a better chance that I’ll be able to fix it.

I built my first PC in 2005. It worked well and lasted over 8 years. In fact, had it not been for Microsoft ending support for Windows XP, I probably would have kept the machine a few years longer. You can see the parts list for that first machine along with that of its replacement by clicking here.

I’ve built several computers since then, both for myself and family members. I doubt that I will ever go back to buying an off-the-shelf desktop PC again.

My latest build is a compact PC in a mini-ITX form factor, which is what I’ve used for my last few builds. Unlike in the past, you don’t have to compromise on performance when building a machine with a small footprint. To see just how far things have come, here’s a rundown of the new machine and a comparison to the one it replaced.

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San Francisco: Coffee

Inevitably, whether for business or pleasure, I end up visiting the city of San Francisco at least 2-3 times a year. While I’m not the biggest fan of Northern California, I love the city. The sites, the history, the restaurants, the hiking – it has it all.

Like most big cities, San Franciscans take their coffee seriously, which I appreciate and enjoy. I’m always adding a place or two to my rotation of favorite coffee shops when I’m in town.

This past visit was no exception. I found two more places that are sure to be regulars in my San Francisco coffee rotation.

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Off to new adventures

Lisa, Courtney and Gregg Borodaty

To raise a child who is comfortable enough to leave you, means you’ve done your job. They are not ours to keep, but to teach them to soar on their own.

It’s a saying I first heard last year at Brad’s wedding. His wife’s father spoke those words to everyone at the reception pointing out that while he was sad to see his daughter go, he was happy for her because she was not his to keep.

Those words stuck with me, and they’ve been ringing in my head over the past few weeks as our third child prepared to head north to start her new job. While I’d love to keep her with us at home (along with her older sister and brother), it’s not the right thing to do. We spend years working with our kids so they can venture out of the nest to live on their own. While it’s hard to let them go, when they leave it means we’ve done our job.

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There’s a new term that I expect will soon become a regular topic of conversation – transhuman. It sounds like a new gender category, but it isn’t. It’s far from it.

Transhuman is the integration of technology into humans. It’s similar to genetic and cell technologies like CRISPR or stem cell therapies but much more invasive. A transhuman refers to someone who has integrated technology into their body in a way that substantially augments either their mental or physical capabilities, or in many cases both. Perhaps you’re more familiar with the term cyborg, the mix of man and machine, although becoming transhuman doesn’t necessarily require embedding a machine in one’s body.

While it sounds like an amazing thing to happen, and in some ways it can be, it’s also quite scary. Here are some of the benefits that could result from being transhuman and why I also thing it could be a cause for alarm.

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And then there was one

Gregg and Courtney Borodaty at her graduation get together

Earlier this month, Courtney completed her coursework and officially became a graduate of the University of California, Davis. The event would normally have resulted in a gathering of family members in Davis to celebrate her accomplishments over the last four years. But with the pandemic and restrictions imposed on large gatherings, she had to settle for an online ceremony and small get together at our house. So instead of having pictures around campus in all of her graduation regalia, we had to settle for a less subdued picture in our family room.

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Memories: June 1977

Raymond and Debbie Castner wedding photo - June 1977

My Aunt Debbie and Uncle Raymond celebrated their 43rd wedding anniversary this month. Somehow, some way, a picture of their wedding party made its way to me.

Yellow tuxedos, fat bow ties, bridesmaids hats, plenty of hair. Yup, it was the seventies all right.

I was the ring bearer, front and center, and my sister, 5 years younger than me, is the flower girl on the far left. My mom and dad were also a part of the wedding party – bonus points if you can pick them out!

Congratulations on 43 years Aunt Debbie and Uncle Raymond! Thanks for including me in your special day – and don’t look back, Lisa and I are only 16 years behind you!