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Scientific Archaeology: The Philosophy of Science applied to Archaeology

Here is a paper that I wrote for my senior seminar class (Archaeological theory class at the University of Evansville, IN). If you care about science and/or archaeology you might find it interesting, if not you probably won’t. The goals and content of this paper were constrained by the requirements of the course, so I may put more work into it and make it more like I want it to be in the future. If I do I will also post that here (probably). Here is the link the pdf (via google docs), and bellow is the opening paragraph.

Making archaeology scientific has been a goal of the field for over 100 years, but it was not until Processual archaeology that a systematic and conscious effort was made to reach this goal. This attempt has widely been seen as a failure and the discipline has largely lost hope in the attainability of a scientific archaeology. However, Archaeology needs to take up this goal again and become scientific in order to be considered a legitimate field of study and must adapt the scientific method, particularly hypothesis testing, to fit archaeology if this goal is to be achieved, and thus Processualism failed because it tried to make archaeology fit the perceived ritual of the hard sciences and put too much emphasis on results and not enough on the process and spirit of Science. In order to discuss how a scientific archaeology can be achieved, the definition of scientific must first be determined, and the important and difficulty of making archaeology scientific must be explored. if archaeology is to understand what the next step is to be, the history of past attempts must also be taken into consideration as well as the modern work which has attempted to develop solutions to the lack of scientific hypothesis testing in archaeology.

 
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Posted by on December 8, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Ubuntu 11.04 Review -The Basics

It has been a year since I last posted and I’m going to pick up where I left off. I last posted about how my laptop was broken and that thus I was thus not willing to attempt to reinstall Fedora. This left me stuct with Ubuntu 10.04. a year and two versions of Ubuntu later and I still haven’t gone back to Fedora (at least not full time). I had Ubuntu on my laptop because it had just come out and I installed it to write a review. So I think it is fitting that I should pick back up with a review of ubuntu 11.04 Natty narwhal (which sounds like the name that would be given to a “craft” version of cheap Busch beer marketed towards some sub-culture)

Before I jump into that, I would like to explain a bit about why I have not moved back to Fedora. Like I said in my last post my laptop was broken and trying to install Fedora would have been difficult or impossible. That laptop quickly became unusable and I had to switch to a Dell gx150 that I had laying around. the gx150s were on the low end of the pc spectrum when they came out a decade (or whatever) ago. being that I had two laptops die in 2 years I decided investing in a desktop might be a better option. So I harvested what I could from the laptop and pieced together a desktop from whatever I could find on sale or craigslist. now I have a desktop with a intel core 2 quad q84000, 6gb of ram, and an nvidia 9600 video card. It may not be the fastest machine on the block, but it is certainly a few steps up from my laptop. (I also just finally upgraded from an old dying crt to a used lcd monitor that I was given by someone who claimed it didn’t work)

Now on to the review. I’m going to break this up into two posts so if you are reading this much after the post date you should be able to follow the link below to continue, if not you will just have to come back for more. Also as is usual if you find spelling and grammatical errors it is because I don’t care enough to proof read any of this stuff. It takes long enough to write it in the first place, if I were to proof read it, I would never post it.

Installation as far as I can tell/remember is identical to 10.10. There is really nothing special or interesting here. Below is a screen shot of what 11.04 looks like right after install (minus the folder on the desktop). Its pretty sleek looking (click to enlarge).

The only real change of notice in Natty Narwhal is Unity, which I actually rather like. Unity is by no means perfect (see next post), but I’m hoping that with time it could be great. I heard a few people complaining bitterly about unity when it was first included in the netbook edition, but I have always liked docks (which is essentially what this is) in just about any form, including the windows taskbar. The Launcher (as canonical calls it) is not the only feature of Unity. There is also a mac os/compiz style virtual desktop viewer called expo (as seen below). One really cool feature that expo has is that you can drag windows around between the desktops. You can also use expo without ever touching your mouse. Meta(win)+s opens expo and the arrow keys can be used to select the desktops. When you have found the desktop you want just hit enter.

Unity also features a new search/launch thing called the dash that is very similar to the one in Gnome 3 (press the meta(win) key to access). unfortunately I could not get a screenshot of this because print screen is disabled while the dash is open. I’m sure I could get a picture if I really cared, but I don’t. I wasn’t a huge fan of the dash like thing in Gnome 3 but this one is actually quite usable. I think the difference maybe the ease of use from a keyboard. If my memory serves me correctly it was difficult to use the one in Gnome 3 without the mouse. I am basing this on the version of Gnome 3 that the fedora 15 alpha used so things may have changed (it is also possible that unity has these problems but I haven’t noticed them as much for whatever reason). I absolutely hated Gnome3 and I thought I was going to hate unity but I actually like it a lot (except for a few fairly minor things which I will discuss next time). There are two other less impressive new features which should be noted; one is the new rating system built into the software center (bad screen shot of software center below). and the other I will discuss in the complaints section and the other I will discuss in the complaints section. It is probably worth mentioning at this point that the launcher, the dash, and expo all require graphics acceleration and therefore for most people also require that you install proprietary video drivers. I’m not a complete FLOSS zealot so I don’t really mind this but I’m sure a lot of people out there will. If you are one of those people or if you just have a old graphics card Canonical has graciously provided a default mode (just in the same way Gnome 3 does) which looks very similar to gnome 2.x.

So lets talk about the launcher for a bit. The launcher will dodge out of the way of windows as you can see in the next two screenshots. This is the major source of my complains about Unity. The launcher needs a good polishing. It is the face of Unity and frankly I’m not sure it is really ready for mainstream use. though I have had no problems with Unity crashing, it seems that many people have. I believe I read that almost every user in a test group for the release candidate crashed it. I would be willing to bet that many of the people experiencing crashing with Unity have under powered graphics and thus anyone with a decent graphics card should not have this issue. This might be fixed by now so don’t take what I say for granted. Despite its problems as I have said a few times already, I like it. One feature of note (though I think it is kind of annoying) is that when the launcher is hidden if when a program wants you attention it will pop out and wiggle (which I believe is also a feature found in mac os). Despite the constant referencing of mac os, I think the launcher more resembles the windows taskbar than Apple’s dock. You can think of it as something that is in between.

Moving applications around in the launcher is not intuitive and it took me a day or two of using Unity before I figured out how to do it. The two pictures below show the process. You can not simply click on an icon and drag it up or down, nor can you right click and select move like you could in gnome. In order to move an icon you must drag it to the right out of the launcher and then move it up and down. When the icon is dragged out, a little gray line appear indicated where the icon will be dropped when you let it go. I discovered this only after seeing if I could remove an icon from the launcher by dragging it out like in just about every other similar program (you can’t).

The last bit about the launcher is how it keeps track of multiple windows. As you can see in the picture below there are dots on the left of the icon and an arrow on the right. the dots indicate the number of total windows for that application and the arrow on the right indicates that at least one window is open. If the application only has one window the dots are replaced by a single arrow as can be seen in a few of the other screenshots.

The next thing to point out is that the menu bar is gone! As you can see in the picture below, application menus and the window buttons have been moved to the top panel like in mac os. Unlike mac os however, you can only see the menus while mousing over them. When you do not have your mouse over the top panel the window title is displayed. I’m not sure if I really need to say this or not, but I’m going to just for good measure. This is really freaking annoying.

One last thing I just noticed. If you drag a window to the left or right the window will “maximize” to fill half of the screen or the full screen in the case of the top. I don’t believe gnome does/did this, but if I’m just being forgetful let me know. Even if gnome didn’t do this its still not terribly impressive, but it does need to be mentioned.

As you can see and may experience the only thing to really talk about in Natty Narwhal is Unity. As I have said several times now, I like unity but it needs a lot of polish. I think they did a really grate job on this so far. It looks and acts very very similarly to Gnome 3, yet somehow I don’t hate it. I actually like it! Anyway, if you have been afraid to upgrade to 11.04 you should probably get over your fears and take the plunge because while it may not be perfect and it might take you a day to get used to the launcher and the dash, I don’t think it will negatively affect your productivity and you just might like it as much or more than I do. If you are still on the fence because I keep talking about how there are lots of little problems without ever telling you quite what they are you should come back later/check out the link below to see my next and final installment on this review.

 
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Posted by on May 23, 2011 in foss, linux, opinion, review, ubuntu

 

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No Fedora for me (for a while at least)

My computer is broken (half working) so I don’t want to try to install Fedora on it and have it not work and then not have an os. I guess I get to use Ubuntu a bit longer…

 
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Posted by on June 5, 2010 in linux, ubuntu

 

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Review: Ubuntu 10.04

Edit May 17: I have encountered a few bugs. The indicated applet often shows the same item multiple times and does not show other items. (see the picture)

Ubuntu often turns off networking at boot for some reason. It also has some problems with recovering from sleep mode (on my computer anyway)

Another thing that has been annoying me is that it seems that ubuntu turns the audio on at boot by default (and won’t let you mute it during boot). This is annoying because sometimes I am in public places where I don’t want my computer screaming annoying noises. I haven’t really looked into this much. So, take this with whatever size grain of salt you want.

Unfortunately Fedora 13 was delayed again so it will be a few more days before I can give that a shot.

Edit May 5: I just realized I forgot to mention the new social crap thing. All I have to say about it is that I found it completely pointless and useless. Maybe if I used twitter I would care.

As some of you may know I have no great love for Ubuntu. I don’t really hate Ubuntu itself I just like to poke fun at many of its users Some of you may also be aware that I have done a few reviews of a couple of different distros in the past. However, I’m sure all of you know that Ubuntu 10.04 LTS was released on April 29th, 2010.

I have been using Fedora for the past few years(since september, 2007) and have been very happy with it, until the release of Fedora 12. I stuck with Fedora 11 because 12 was unstable. Fedora 13 is on its way and I hope it is an improvement, but in case it isn’t I decided to give Ubuntu another try since I haven’t used it since 2007. I have to say I am impressed so far. Here is a synopsis of what I thought of it in the first 3 days of using it. Keep in mind that I have been using a year old version of linux and may be unfamiliar with changes to software (gnome) that have occurred in the past year (so I might complain about something that isn’t Ubuntu’s fault)

Day 0: (April 30th)
Install:
This is about as I expected. It has changed a bit. I think it might be a little bit more userfriendly than before because you get just the installer and it is certainly more professional looking. The install was pretty quick but that is what you would expect from an minimalist installer like ubuntu’s. I would have prefered the user stuff to be set up after the first reboot rather than before.

Ubuntu Software center:
This is really nice. This is what/wanted I expected apple to do years ago. it is really well polished and easy to use. Not everything a geek will want is in this list (no big deal apt-get is still there), but 90% of things are. Ubuntu has much larger repositories than fedora so a lot of things that I use (chrome/flash) were already in the list, but not installed of course)

first impression: Ubuntu 10.04 looks very nice and is much more professional looking than the past versions. Canonical seems to have put a lot of work into this (which is what one might expect from an Long Term Support release). I like the new dark theme (much better than the shit colored them). The window buttons being on the left is a bit odd and pointless but that is a pretty minor detail. I really think Ubuntu is trying to compete with mac os and not just windows.

Day 1: (may 1st)
I didn’t use the system a whole lot today. What time I did spend using it was mostly used to fix the problem from moving stuff and installing programs that I need. It would have been nice if the installer had offered to install programs during the instillation. I don’t remember there even being network support (or updates of course) during the install.

I know Canonical wants ubuntu to fit on a cd to make it more accessible I would rather have had it on a dvd and had more stuff installed by default. This isn’t in anyway important since there are repositories and it is only for the first few days that I will need to install stuff every 5 minutes.

Though I like dark themes they have 1 major flaw in my opinion. They contrast way to much with the bright white all programs use. Also it is hard to get the contrasts you sometimes need with a dark them for instance a dark gray on light gray progress bar can be annoying.

I don’t like apt that much. yum is much nicer. apt annoys me because apt-get only installs stuff (or is only really useful to install stuff but you still have to tell it to install (apt-get install). apt-cache only is useful to find package but you still have to tell it to search (apt-cache search). this is a lot of typing. I would rather just be able to type apt search or apt install (like yum). I’m sure this is somethingt I could get used to I would just rather not have to. yum is one of the reason I switched to fedora.

Day 2:
I got most of my major thoughts on 10.04 in the first two days, but I do have a few complains and observations for today. First is that the location of the power controls in the right corner of the top panel really annoys me. There is nothing bad or wrong about this, and in fact it could be a good thing, but I’m not used to it being there so I tend to look for it under the system menu. Also the power controls dialog box seems to be less extensive than Fedora’s.

Ubuntu’s pre-configuredness (sudo and what not) is nice for the average user who doesn’t know anything about computer but annoying for geeks. As a geek I want to have root access to my computer and to know how and what it is doing. I like being able to set and change things myself without the system fighting me.

When a program is not responding it fades to indicate that it is not responding. This is a nice touch and is more than I have seen in other distros, but I would really like to see a lot more. I think this is probably enough for a program that has frozen, but it would be nice if a full crash is reported to the users. I don’t remember ever having a program fully crash while using Ubuntu 10.04 (maybe if I had used Firefox more) so I can’t say for sure that they are not reported. Reporting is of course often annoying to users, but I would rather have a dialog box that tells me that the program died (and ask if I want to report it to the developers) then just have the program disappear (sometimes without me noticing). For a freeze (not responding) reporting to the user may not be such a good idea because programs which freeze often will start working again in a few minutes. However, if the program continues frozen for a long enough time the user should probably be told about it and asked what to do. Ubuntu does warn the user by fading the window (which as I said I like), but it doesn’t go the extra step to report crashes or extended freezes (as far as I know). Programs should crash gracefully (of course this is really something the programmer should take care of and the os should only have to deal with in an extreme condition). Good start Ubuntu, but I want to see more in the future.

and lastly a note to all the programmers out there. Ubuntu comes with python 2.6 only by default. if you wish to use python 3 you will have to install it yourself. Also perhaps of more interest g++ is not installed by default (though gcc and make are). To be fair I don’t think Fedora comes with any developer tools installed by default.

(back to today)
Overall I have to say Canonical has done a very good job and I do like Ubuntu 10.04 and I will probably continue to use it if Fedora 13 is as bad as 12, but if Fedora 13 turns out well I will probably use that. Fedora 13 will be out in 14 days (May 18th) so I will see what happens then and I’ll be sure to write about it.

 
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Posted by on May 5, 2010 in review, ubuntu, Uncategorized

 

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A note to tv producers.

If I miss a show and it isn’t available on hulu, or your website, I have 2 options. 1. Stop watching it on TV and wait months or even years to buy the entire season on DVD. 2. Pirate it.

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2010 in math, prirate, tv

 

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The Free Market

The free market philosophy relies assumes that people are capable of making good decisions. People are ignorant, impulsive, short sighted, knowingly self destructive morons (present company included). The idea that anyone really knows what is best for themselves is pretty dumb. It is even more ludicrous to think that a small number of people could make decisions for everyone better than they can make them themselves.

Perhaps one could argue that though people make bad decisions there tends to be an overall trend toward ok or even good decisions. I think that would be a fairly difficult argument to make, but maybe not impossible.

I kind of lost track of my point, but I think it was when people tell you that the free market will solve all problems just remember that People are ignorant, impulsive, short sighted, knowingly self destructive morons who either often wouldn’t or couldn’t tell a good decision if it hit them in the face.

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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How do you prefer your coffee?

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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