Book Review: Freakonomics

On the way up to Washington, I read
Freakonomics
. As you might
be hearing by now, it’s all about everyday economic stuff — mostly
crime and cheating — in the style of
Blink
. That is, the
punch-line is usually something counter-intutive or sly.

The book it pretty damn fantastic. It’s chock full of plenty of interesting
stories
— about crack-gangs, bagel sellers, real-estate agents,
crazy kid names — and lots of interesting applications of “what cool
ideas can we pull out of these mountains of data”:

  • Real-estate agents have little incentive to get $10,000 more for
    your house. After everyone takes their cut of the pay-off, it’s just
    an extra $100-150. So, they’ll sell your house for $300,000 instead
    to get the bird in the hand instead of waiting a few days to get
    $310,000. Not so for their own houses: they get wait for those two
    in the bush.
  • Lowly crack-dealers make less than minimum wage. And, with a
    little spin on semantics, they have a higher chance of getting
    killed than prisoners on death row.

If I were you, I’d get myself and copy and read it: it’ll provide
plenty of fodder for bar-talk and give you a good list of names and
advice for kids.

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Austin Bars: Brentwood Tavern

Burgers at the Brentwood Tavern

We went to the Brentwood Tavern tonight for a little happy hour. It’s up there on Burnet, next to the farmer’s market by Elsie’s (where Academy used to be).

My one-time-visit-review can be summed up in 4 characters: Yuh!

There were some flaws — only appetizers served outside, WTF, dude?! — but over-all, it was a great, relaxing, easy going, hangin’ out, Austin-y place.

We can only hope they’ll make it. In the meantime, we’ll probably be back soon, and for lunch. The Salisbury steak was fantastic.

Sadly, they have no Wild Turkey, but the Marky-Mark is a good stand-in.

Update: the Simmon’s posted several pictures of the Tavern.

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,,
,
.

Feeling Better About Tech Work?

There’s two stats that seem to follow and oscilloscope-like output month to month: tech workers feel for job security (“confidence”), and C*O’s intentions to hire more tech works. Here’s the most recent:

Staffing firm Hudson said its monthly gauge of information technology workers’ confidence rebounded 12 percent amid more reports of hiring activity and more sunny views about personal finances.

How’re all of you, dear readers, feeling about your tech jobs? Is this nutty double digit “recound” the same for you too?

Switching Between J2SE 1.4.2 and J2SE 5.0 on OS X

As noted in a previous post, we started using J2SE 5.0 (or “1.5” as everyone calls it) at work last week. Upgrading the PowerBook was pretty easy.

The anoying thing is that you have to manually go change around symlinks to start using the 5.0 compiler. To do that, you:

$ cd /System/Library/Frameworks/JavaVM.framework/Versions/
mcote-laptop:/System/Library/Frameworks/JavaVM.framework/Versions cote$ ls -l
total 48
lrwxr-xr-x   1 root  wheel    5 Jun 29 13:44 1.3 -> 1.3.1
drwxr-xr-x   8 root  wheel  272 May 27 14:41 1.3.1
lrwxr-xr-x   1 root  wheel    5 Jun 29 13:44 1.4 -> 1.4.2
drwxr-xr-x   9 root  wheel  306 Jul  1 09:17 1.4.2
drwxr-xr-x   8 root  wheel  272 Jun 10 13:48 1.5.0
drwxr-xr-x   6 root  wheel  204 Jun 29 13:45 A
lrwxr-xr-x   1 root  wheel    1 Jun 29 13:44 Current -> A
lrwxr-xr-x   1 root  wheel    5 Jul  1 20:17 CurrentJDK -> 1.4.2
-rwxr-xr-x   1 root  wheel   50 Jun 29 21:48 to14.sh
-rwxr-xr-x   1 root  wheel   50 Jun 29 21:48 to50.sh
$ sudo unlink CurrentJDK
$ sudo ln -s 1.5.0 CurrentJDK
$ ls -l
total 48
lrwxr-xr-x   1 root  wheel    5 Jun 29 13:44 1.3 -> 1.3.1
drwxr-xr-x   8 root  wheel  272 May 27 14:41 1.3.1
lrwxr-xr-x   1 root  wheel    5 Jun 29 13:44 1.4 -> 1.4.2
drwxr-xr-x   9 root  wheel  306 Jul  1 09:17 1.4.2
drwxr-xr-x   8 root  wheel  272 Jun 10 13:48 1.5.0
drwxr-xr-x   6 root  wheel  204 Jun 29 13:45 A
lrwxr-xr-x   1 root  wheel    1 Jun 29 13:44 Current -> A
lrwxr-xr-x   1 root  wheel    5 Jul  1 20:22 CurrentJDK -> 1.5.0
-rwxr-xr-x   1 root  wheel   50 Jun 29 21:48 to14.sh
-rwxr-xr-x   1 root  wheel   50 Jun 29 21:48 to50.sh
$

And then you’re using J2SE 5.0 for your compiler. Exciting!

There’s another setting for which VM to use for applets and JARs. That’s in Applications->Utilities->Java->J2SE 5.0->Java Preferences.

Easily Switching Back

I’m finishing up my book, JAAS in Action which is primarly done in 1.4.2. So, during the day, I want 5.0, but at night, I want the old version. I got tired of typing unlink, ln, blah, blah, so I made these little scripts that do it for me. You just have to run this with sudo, and they do the trick:

#!/bin/sh
# to14.sh
unlink CurrentJDK
ln -s 1.4.2 CurrentJDK
#!/bin/sh
# to50.sh
unlink CurrentJDK
ln -s 1.5.0 CurrentJDK