This is the website of Abulsme Noibatno Itramne (also known as Sam Minter). Comments here or emails to me at abulsme@abulsme.com are encouraged... or follow me on Twitter as @abulsme.

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June 2008
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Electoral College: Bad News for McCain in Florida and Wisconsin

In terms of state by state polls, this is a very bad day for John McCain.

First of all, Wisconsin strengthens for Obama. Obama’s lead is now more than 5%, taking Wisconsin out of the swing state category. McCain may still be able to bring these 10 electoral votes back into play, but it would take work.

Second, and a bigger deal, Florida weakens for McCain. His lead there is now under 5%. That is 27 more electoral votes off the list McCain can feel pretty good about and into the “fully in play” category.

Current Summary:

McCain Best Case – McCain 303, Obama 235
Obama Best Case – Obama 378, McCain 160

And if everybody gets their leans (and Obama gets DC) – Obama 272, McCain 266

The “everybody gets their leans” numbers still remain incredibly close. But the best case scenarios are getting more and more unbalanced. Obama’s best case is now getting into landslide territory. McCain’s best case is just barely more than squeaking out a victory by a margin of a couple of states.

There are 140 electoral votes now in the “leaning” category that can easily go either way.

Assuming Obama gets all his strong and weak states and DC, that gives him 238 electoral votes. Which is 32 electoral votes from the win. That is only 23% of the electoral votes in the swing category. He only needs any two of Florida, Ohio, Michigan or North Carolina in order to do that. Two out of 12 swing states. (Or instead he could get a bunch of the smaller states…).

By contrast, if McCain gets all his strong and weak states, he only has 160 electoral votes. He needs a full 110 electoral votes from the swing states to win. That is 79% of the swing state electoral votes. From the big state side of things that means McCain would need all of these: Florida, Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, Virginia, Indiana and Missouri. Eight of the 12 swing states.

A lot of Obama’s gains in the last few weeks can be attributed to a “bounce” from clinching the nomination. If the trend continues, and McCain doesn’t manage to fight back a bit, and Obama manages to flip a few more states in his direction and out of the swing state category… we might actually end up with McCain’s best case scenario being a loss…

…or Obama may start to peak and then things get closer again.

It is still early. Anything can happen. But the recent poll results are ones that the McCain camp should be very worried about. They have some work to do.

EyeWing

I have no idea if Spore itself will be fun at all, but the Spore Creature Creator was good for a couple hours of goofing around yesterday. Fun stuff. I’ve just loaded the free trial so far (on both my computer and Amy’s) but the paid version is actually somewhat tempting. You get more choices of eyes and legs and mouths and stuff. :-)

Damn You Netflix, Damn You

I got an email about this from Netflix at 0:16 UTC today, but was actually going to wait for tomorrow to blog about it, but since it is hitting Gizmodo already…

Here is the the email Netflix sent out:

Important News Regarding Netflix Profiles

Dear Samuel,

We wanted to let you know we will be eliminating Profiles, the feature that allowed you to set up separate DVD Queues under one account, effective September 1, 2008.

Each additional Profile Queue will be unavailable after September 1, 2008. Before then, we recommend you consolidate any of your Profile Queues to your main account Queue or print them out.

While it may be disappointing to see Profiles go away, this change will help us continue to improve the Netflix website for all our customers.

If you have any questions, please go to http://www.netflix.com/Help?p_faqid=3962 or call us anytime at 1 (888) 638-3549. We apologize for any inconvenience.

– The Netflix Team

All I can say is that this is bullshit. Profiles are a critical part of how we use Netflix. Each member of the family has their own queue which they manage separately. (Plus we have one extra queue for other stuff.) We each return our DVDs when we want and get our new DVDs. We have it set so that while I have the 4 disks at a time plan, each profile gets one disk at a time. This makes it easy for each of us to get what we want without having to worry about reconciling our queues into one single list. As far as I can see, to get the same effect in the future we would have to actually have four separate accounts, billed separately, at no doubt a higher total monthly rate.

The economics of Netflix at this point are barely worth it at the rate we actually watch DVDs. With this change we would either have to move everything to one queue, with all the additional confusion and complexity that would add, or we would have to pay a lot more for separate accounts. This is likely to make Netflix no longer an attractive option.

If they don’t reverse this decision before the feature is scheduled to go away, I can easily see us canceling our Netflix account. It just would not make sense any more.

I’d be willing to pay a little more monthly to keep this feature (although not four separate accounts more)… please Netflix, figure out a way to keep this. Or we may well have to say goodbye.

Death of an iSight

My external iSight seems to have died. On Monday at 2:18 UTC my webcam spontaneously flipped from the external iSight to the internal. At 7:40 UTC I switched it back to the external after unplugging it and plugging it back in. At 11:01 UTC it started showing video artifacts. It got worse and worse until at 12:56 UTC the video signal died completely. I found it and switched it to the internal iSight at 15:19 UTC, where it has stayed ever since.

The video above is the timelapse of that fateful day.

I didn’t get a chance to see if I could get the external working again until just now. No luck at all.

This blows, as even though I don’t do it often, I like to keep the internal iSight free for video iChat and such. Plus the external camera is more flexible as to where I can point it, and I like to change it up for the AbulCam.

So I go looking for what a new iSight costs these days. Can’t find any in the online Apple store. None directly from Amazon either, although some third parties have them at way high prices. There are rumors of an iSight HD coming soon, but nothing out yet. I’ve also wanted a 802.11 wireless webcam for awhile, so that I could put the thing further from my computer, but those still cost too much to be worth it really. Plus since my usecase is non-standard, I never feel like I know for sure if it will work for the way I want to use it until I try it.

I suppose I could go buy a cheap $25 external webcam. Dunno.

For now, I guess the AbulCam stays on the internal iSight. But I won’t want that to be a long term solution.