Where’s the Justice?

What has happened to the Justice System in the USA? I’m tired of seeing big criminal trials become media circus fiascoes. The media coverage in big trials creates a business out of crime. Criminals can profit from victims’ suffering, by selling interviews, photos, books, film rights later. Spectators following the trials become addicted and obsessed by the twisted circumstances. Confidential info is exposed, and can lead to a wrong verdict. Stop the madness!

The 1995 O. J. Simpson murder trial was the first big televised court case, a real disgusting display of a media circus. Because of so much publicity before and during the trial, it’s likely that a guilty man was not convicted, although he was held liable at the 1997 civil trial. It is estimated that 100 million people worldwide watched or listened to the verdict and $40 billion of work productivity was lost from employees following the case. Some evidence against Simpson was not presented at the trial because the witnesses sold their stories to the media. Other prominent media circus cases are the trials of Gary Gilmore (1977), Martha Stewart (2004), and Casey Anthony (2010). Dr. Ronald B. Standler, an Attorney in Massachusetts, has a very compelling essay against Pretrial Publicity.

Who’s to blame? The Media mostly, publishers of Television, Newspapers, Magazines, and Books. These big trials bring them big profits, and they spend more time and effort on them than more important news. The history of ‘Yellow Journalism‘ in the USA goes back to the late 1800’s.

I remember when cameras and photos were forbidden in court, only artists were permitted to draw sketches. How did we go from that to live television!? Let’s bring back some dignity to the Justice System by keeping TV out of the Courtroom. Stop the madness!

Apalachicola, FL, a trip back in time

When most people think of Florida, they probably conjure images of beaches with palm trees and semi-clothed sunbathers, Disney type theme parks filled with touring families, and big cities clogged with traffic. Yet if you drive through the state, you realize that most of it is quite different from that. There’s a lot of forest, lakes, hills, agriculture, and small towns.

Apalachicola is one of those places that is quite unique. Located on the North Gulf Coast, it has a character and pace that makes one feel as if in another time period. I lived there for four years, and got a pretty good familiarity with it. One of the interesting things about it is that after about a year living there, I got to know many of the people. I could go just about anywhere in town, and run into someone I knew. This just doesn’t happen in Miami, my hometown, where I have spent more years than elsewhere. Of course ‘Apalach’ (as its called there) only has about 2400 residents, but the point is, most of them are friendly.

Oysters are the central theme here. Many locals work in the industry; harvesting, processing, and transporting the voluptuous bivalves. There are many fine seafood restaurants to choose from. There’s even one called ‘Boss Oyster’, which serves oysters in many creative delicious ways. The local shrimp is also excellent. The biggest event of the year is the Florida Seafood Festival held every November. It’s a lot of fun, with great fresh seafood, entertainment and rides.

The little town incorporated in 1827 has quite a bit of interesting history. It was once the third busiest port in the Gulf of Mexico. Botanist Alvan Wentworth Chapman settled in Apalachicola in 1847. Dr. John Gorrie discovered the cold-air process of refrigeration and patented an ice machine in 1850, while trying to help fever patients, which led to advances in modern refrigeration and air-conditioning. The city erected a monument to him, and a replica of his invention is on display in the John Gorrie Museum.

There are a few special little hotels in Apalachicola, and the Coombs House Inn is a real pearl. It has an authentic historical ambiance, the breakfast is fantastic, and the Innkeepers make you feel like at home.

The small downtown area is an easy and pleasant walk. It is filled with eclectic shops, eateries, and historic sites, as well as picturesque vistas of the working riverfront. Anyone who wants to see the ‘other’ Florida should visit Apalachicola.

Embed Fonts in Websites

Here’s an easy and effective way to add some excitement to a website, embed some custom fonts, so they can be displayed in the browser even if they are not installed on the visitor’s computer. There are 2 ways to do this; use a Web Font Embedding Service (see http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2010/10/20/review-of-popular-web-font-embedding-services/ ), or manually add them using the CSS3 @font-face rule. I will explain how to do the second option.

First find a font that is not restricted by copyrights, and legal to use and embed on your website. I like http://www.dafont.com/ , it has many free open source fonts, and you may make a donation to the designer. Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Opera support fonts of type .ttf (True Type Fonts) and .otf (OpenType Fonts), so start with one of these formats. Try to use a fairly efficient font, like less than 200kb.

Microsoft Internet Explorer is still the most widely used browser on the Web (39%), and it does not support .ttf nor .otf for @font-face embedding, it requires .eot (Embedded OpenType). Fortunately, there are easy ways to create them. A simple converter can be found at http://www.kirsle.net/wizards/ttf2eot.cgi . It only converts .ttf, and has no options. Another more versatile option is http://www.fontsquirrel.com/tools/webfont-generator . It can convert .ttf and .otf, and has several options to customize the output files for advanced users. There are other converter sites, I’ve used these 2, they’re fast and easy to use.

Once you have your font formats, upload them to your server. Then you need to use the @font-face rule in the CSS;

font-family: Font1; /* any name you like */
src: url(‘Font1.ttf’),
url(‘Font1.eot’) format(“opentype”); /* IE */

[Of course src needs to point to the correct location of the font files.]

Then you could create a class to reference the font in many places;
.font1{font-family: Font1;}

The only thing left to do is design with the font by specifying the class;

<div class=”font1″>My embedded font!</div>

That’s it, easy huh?

Mozilla’s WebAPI & B2G: more good zen

Mozilla, creators of popular free open source software (such as Firefox web browser and Thunderbird e-mail client), are working on two new projects aimed at uniting the way we access some of the various internet applications out there. WebAPI is intended to make Web-based applications compete better with native apps. B2G (Boot to Gecko) is being developed as a complete, standalone operating system for the open Web with attention on mobile devices.

Developers today need to create apps for many platforms (Apple iOS, Google Android, Blackberry, Symbian, Windows Phone). Mozilla wants to simplify that by offering the alternate choice of creating one ‘WebApp’ instead. This would be access thru the browser with basic HTML5 code. They would interact with a phone’s dialer, address book, contacts list, and camera. Two other companies have been developing similar technology, Opera and Adobe. WebAPI is part of W3C’s Augmented Reality Community Group, and complies with the development and further W3C standardization of open API’s. Web programming is expanding fast due to: JavaScript’s performance, mobile device browser capabilities and internet 3G & 4G speeds, and cloud computing.

B2G is competing with Google Chrome OS a bit, but they are also both efforts at making advanced apps (not only basic) run smoothly on the Web. Both OS are trying to use Android’s “intents”, which allows an App to grab something from another App, like YouTubeApp pulling a video from the phone’s gallery. B2G will uniquely boot from Android drivers, and be released in “real-time,” new features added immediately, making a rapid release cycle. Mozilla has many challenges ahead (especially security and data usage), but it seems to going in a positive direction. Even Microsoft (who may lose market share with WebApps) is developing browser IE10 to be WebApp friendly. That must be a good sign.

for Roaming Minds