Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Online Tax Revolt: Will it Work?

I heard about the "Online Tax Revolt" through a little social networking birdie (twitter) today. It sounds like a good idea, but the cynic in me has to ask: Will an idea like this work?

I applaud the fact that this is another way for us to "send a message" to Congress and let them know that we've had enough. But haven't we sent them enough messages that they've ignored? Let's take a trip down memory lane and recap just a few of the loud and clear messages they've disregarded thus far:
  • The 9/12 march on Washington, DC. Some estimates put the attendance at said march at 1.5 or 2 million.
  • Rep. Michelle Bachmann leads a "house call" protest, where protesters literally visited the Congressional office buildings in Washington, DC.
And the really big one:
  • The recent election of Scott Brown in the People's Republic of Massachusetts. (To any readers in Massachusetts, let me say that all of America owes you a great debt!)
  • Not to mention earlier election upsets in New Jersey and Virginia.
Despite these clear messages, Congressional Democrats, led by President Obama, are still intent on shoving health care down our throats. It seems to me that they're not paying attention. And the GOP still seems uncertain about what political steps they can take to avoid facing the same electoral defeats delivered to the Democrats.

But, I digress. If Congress and Obama can ignore millions of protesters taking the time and effort to show up on their doorsteps or in their offices, what makes the people behind this website (with whom I agree) think that millions of people signing up for an online protest will do anything to get anybody's attention? Signing up to take part in such a protest takes virtually no time or effort. And I think it'll take Congress will take almost as much effort to ignore this message, too.

What do you think? Is there any chance this will get the attention of Congress? Will they pay attention to anything less than huge electoral defeats?

Sunday, February 07, 2010

What's the Deal with Multi-Touch?

I have long viewed this blog as more than just a political soapbox -- hoping for it to be more a platform for the discussion of a number of topics as varied as my interests. As such, I hope you'll entertain a slight deviation from my typical political banter -- and perhaps also help to answer a long-nagging question I've had: "What is the deal with multi-touch?"

I've always been an avid technology enthusiast, so the evolving mobile phone market has long held my interest. While the iPhone was a transformative device that has forever altered the way we think about interacting with our devices, it's never fascinated me. I've always preferred the idea of an open system that doesn't place artificial limitations on what I can do with it. (See, Liberty isn't just a political ideal!) As a result, I've always rooted for the "underdog" mobile phone platform: Google's Android.

Since Google announced an Over-the-air (OTA) update for the Nexus One, the current flagship Android device, everyone's been clamoring about the fact that the update enables multi-touch gesturing support in the core applications, (think Google Maps). The blogosphere has been abuzz about it since early last week. (Here's a smattering of the coverage: here and here.) Actually, people have been yapping about that since the beginning of the Android "revolution". Virtually every review of every Android device I've ever read has included a standard complaint that bemoans the lack of multi-touch. And every time I read one of these, I have to ask myself "What's the big deal?"

Granted, I've never used in iPhone or an iPod Touch. But, I just don't get what's so important about that single pinch gesture. Frankly, having watched a good number of slightly older individuals struggling to pinch their iPhones "just right", it looks cumbersome and odd. Plus, I like to be able to use my phone with one hand. Multi-touch invariably requires one hand to hold the phone and another to interact with it. We're not talking about a device that's large enough to be self-supporting or set on a tabletop so one can use it without holding it. We're talking about a (reasonably small) phone. Multi-touch seems a waste, and I'd prefer to see Google focus on innovating (i.e. coming up with other/easier ways of interacting with the phone) rather than imitating the has-been known as the iDon't.

I'm obviously in the minority here, or I'm missing something that's perhaps painfully obvious to others. If you have any thoughts on this, I'd love to hear them. Thanks for letting me get on one of my soap-boxes.