April 2009 Archives

A Secret to Install Pandora on Blackberry

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pandora_blackberry.pngTo my normal readers, don't worry! This blog will soon return to its regular programming!

While installing Pandora on my Blackberry Pearl, I hit an obscure error message. Google only knew of a single page in the whole wide world wide web that discussed this error, but that page had no solution. So now for the perfect stranger who came here from Google, who doesn't care about Oracle software, who doesn't know me, and who just wants to listen to his or her reggae/polka/rap/country/classical music through the Blackberry, I bring you this special announcement:

Pandora provides different application downloads based on which device it thinks you're using, and it determines your device by your browser's emulation mode. So if you're not using the Blackberry emulation mode, then your device may try to download the wrong one. In my case, I saw the error "Unsupported media type: application/x-cabinet," and the device wanted to download pandora.cab. I was using MS Pocket IE mode when that happened. You may be using a different but still wrong mode, so try setting it properly. To do so:

  1. Open your browser (and it must be the default browser--don't try Opera Mini or some such thing)
  2. Click the Blackberry menu button
  3. Select "Options"
  4. Select "Browser Configuration"
  5. Set your emulation mode to Blackberry
  6. Navigate to http://www.pandora.com (or refresh if you had already been there)
  7. Download, and you'll be in business
  8. For good sound, use a headset of some sort
  9. Give me a comment if this really did help you
Enjoy!

Book Response: Curing their Ills

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curing.jpgI'm in an anthropology class called "The Politics of Humanitarianism," and I've just toppled one of its reading assignments. I tried posting a 140 character review on Twitter, but it wasn't successful--someone asked me to try again. Since the professor too requires more than just a tweet in response, I wrote up a couple pages. I share those here for Neema and for the rest of you portal junkies who need a break.

In Curing their Ills, Cambridge anthropologist Megan Vaughan examines the difficulties faced by African colonizers as they tried to find the best frame of reference from which to approach African medical problems. Colonizers struggled in their own debates to determine whether to perceive Africa and Africans in terms of difference as well as whether to attribute behaviors and outcomes to African culture or African nature. Vaughan conveys the idea of Jean Comaroff about biomedical knowledge that "whilst it is ostensibly based on 'empirical objectivity', in practice its underlying epistemology remains a 'cultural construct', existing in 'dialectical relationship with its wider social context'."[1] Though the colonizers may have had good intentions, it is problematic to transplant a cultural construct.

 

Vaughan explores "the African" as assumed by the medical community in the context of missionary medicine, leprosy, insanity, sexually transmitted disease, and didactic books and videos. A challenge with missionary medicine was how much the care providers should link physical health with spiritual health and "moral" practice. Perhaps no construct is as cultural as a religious one. An interesting aspect of dealing with African leprosy patients was that the colonizers seemed to view their primary identity as that of lepers and only their secondary identity as that of Africans. The problem with identifying insanity was that it was defined as an aberration from "normal" but normal African behaviors themselves were viewed as pathological by many colonizers. The growth (or at least persistence) of STDs was in part a result of the traditional African systems being destabilized by those introduced by European interaction, and some blamed it specifically on Christianity which hoped to introduce its own moral code in the place of the indigenous one. Regardless of the medical issue, the response would include propaganda of some sort, and this propaganda whether in the form of written material or film could not be created without first defining its audience and that audience's learning styles.

 

One response I had to the book was that when seen through an anthropologist's critical eye, a cultural boundary-crosser can enter a no-win situation. How shall the traveler interact with his host culture? To deny difference is to deny the other, but to perceive difference is to wade into alligator infested waters. Is it oppressive to even categorize another? Are stereotypes, useful shorthand in themselves, always unacceptable because of their generality rather than precision? If one cannot escape every influence of one's culture in making a judgment, then can the judgment withstand the scrutiny of a deconstructing anthropologist? Yes, colonialism is a concept with terrible connotations, but not everything related to it is terrible. Individuals, groups, nations, and cultures have asymmetric relationships, and within any asymmetric relationship is found the potential for abuse and is often found colonialism either in fact or in creative perception. However, such asymmetries and abuses existed within pre-colonial societies as well (no footnote on this). A key factor magnifying the disgraces of traditional colonialism as seen in Curing their Ills is that when cultures encounter each other, especially when one has new technologies, then change occurs. Change is often painful (e.g. for the Africans whose health deteriorated as they migrated to work locations in response to the globalizing economy) but in other cases the change alleviates problems (e.g. when transportation became available for the migrants).

 

Maybe I'm a bit defensive because I'm [1] white, [2] male, [3] involved in international humanitarian efforts, [4] religious, and [5] carrying a passport from the neocolonial power. In any case, this was a thought-provoking book, and I write my critique with a smile!



[1] Vaughan, Megan: Curing their Ills. Stanford University Press: Stanford CA; 1991: p 6.


lost-and-found.jpg

When you're working with servers behind a load balancer, do you ever feel a bit lost about which server you're really on? I do. With the ALUI/WCI portal pages, you can find an HTML comment telling you which server rendered the page. But today I realized it's hard to know which imageserver I'm on. So here's a little file to put on each website. Place it at http://myhostname/whereami.aspx, and you can hit it whenever you want to know which physical server you've been routed to by the load balancer.


<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN"
"http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd">

<html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" >
<head id="Head1" runat="server">
<title>Machine: <%= System.Net.Dns.GetHostName() %>
- URL: <%= Request.Url.Host.ToString() %></title>
</head>
<body>
This is machine <b> <%= System.Net.Dns.GetHostName() %></b>.
<p>You came here on URL <b> <%= Request.Url.Host.ToString() %>.</b>
</body>
</html>

This would be simple in Java too, but I've not written it. Add it as a comment if you'd like?

Enjoy!