The new iPhone Announcement

On Tuesday Apple unveiled the [iPhone 5c]( and [iPhone 5s]( The 5c is basically the same thing as the iPhone 5 but with a better camera and improved battery along with a color plastic shell. Meanwhile the 5s adds a fingerprint sensor to those improvements and uses a metal shell. It also has Apple's newest A7 processor and has a motion coprocessor whose capabilities will be interesting to see. Most of these improvements were not a surprise so the tech community seems to not be overly impressed with these gadgets. My recommendation is that if you have an iPhone 4 or 4S it is probably worth upgrading to the 5c or 5s because you will get 4G LTE along with the improved camera, larger screen, and other features. I think that the processor improvement will be appreciated by people who use their device for mobile video processing or gaming but otherwise is not worth it for most people. If you currently have an iPhone 5 then neither of these are likely worth the upgrade. They are both incremental improvements. My biggest disappointment with the presentation was that there were no upgrades to the iPad line announced. I have been hoping to find an excuse to upgrade my iPad but have not been tempted by the slightly bigger retina iPads and dislike the smaller form factor of the iPad mini. A retina iPad that has dimensions similar to the iPad 2 or even thinner would be a great upgrade. More and more I find myself using my iPad with my Logitech UltraThin Keyboard instead of my laptop. I am surprised how much I actually use my iPad and it would be great to see Apple bring it to the next level.

Connecticut Deserves a Full-Time Legislature

My [op-ed in the Hartford Courant]( garnered [lots]( of [reactions]( over the past couple weeks. Most of the feedback I received in person was positive, but online the comments were mostly negative. Fortunately the Hartford Courant had the wisdom to delete all those comments when it moved my op-ed into its permanent archive. However I would still like to address some of the criticisms. The first criticism seems to be that a full time legislature would mean full time trouble. Many people seem to believe that each law makes things worse instead of better. However I have not seen evidence to suggest each law will definitely make us worse off. The quality of laws is both an objective and subjective thing, and as I mentioned in the article, if we pay our legislators more we will get higher quality legislators which will lead to higher quality laws. I also had a former state senator suggest to me that instead of using the additional time to make laws they use it to engage in oversight activity. Another question is where the money will come from. Besides the fact that Connecticut currently has a budget surplus we could consider lengthening the terms of the senators and representatives. Four year terms would reduce the money spent from the Citizens' Election Fund that could be used to fund the longer sessions. The CGA might also consider reducing the number of its members and/or staff. Do you think this is a good idea? How do you think we can make this happen? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Blog Changes and Building a Choropleth using D3.js

As you can see this blog is going through a bit of a transition at the moment. I have decided to move the blog off my shared hosting provider and onto an Amazon S3 static bucket. I have transferred the blog from Wordpress to something called [Jekyll]( In a nutshell this means that the blog will load more quickly.[^1] It also means I will save a lot of money every month on shared hosting. I already have been hosting the website for [What's Next]( on an S3 bucket and it has worked quite well. There are still images for me to fix and some other things to clean-up and migrate so if something is not working please feel free to leave a comment. I have also been spending time learning [D3.js]( D3.js is the cutting edge of data visualization and presentation on the Internet and lets you make maps and graphs on your website. I followed some tutorials and the result is [this choropleth of the 2008 election results]( I will be tweaking and playing with it to try new features and hope to obtain data sets from other elections. Unfortunately it seems that the Secretary of State only puts the election results online in PDF which makes it difficult to use them in programs like this. If you know any good sources of Connecticut election data please leave a comment, otherwise I am going to try and get it from the Secretary of State directly. [^1]: I had a shared plan on Dreamhost. It provides a lot of features for the money but subjectively the performance has been declining and I had more outages in the past year than in previous years. The next logical step was to either upgrade to a dedicated hosting plan at more money, or to move to a different system. Considering my low traffic, I decided on the latter.

Back in the Saddle

A 2005 Giant TCR C1

I am not good at hitting softballs. Never mind fast balls, curve balls, and knuckle balls, I tend to do terribly in sports that require some kind of aim. What I did enjoy was riding my bicycle. In high school I started riding small hills in a short route around my neighborhood. My parents upgraded me from a mountain bike to a hybrid bicycle as my high school graduation gift. I rode more and eventually bought a road bike. A couple of years ago a joint condition in my ankle made riding the road bike difficult so I took a break. I was benched and disappointed. Fortunately that has passed. The other day I literally dusted it off and took it for its first ride in a long time.

You do not forget how to ride. As I connected my shoes to the bicycle I could feel the activation of dormant neurons and electricity jumping across my synapses bringing my body into balance. Uncertainty was replaced with excitement as I tested the mechanics of the brakes and gears and found them fully functional. Fear gave way to adrenaline. I was free again.

However the freedom of the road is still laced with confusion. Motorists and cyclists often seem oblivious to the rules surrounding bikes. They belong in the road, not on the sidewalk where you can easily run into pedestrians. Riding against traffic by cyclists, a common sin, is disconcerting for motorists and dangerous for the cyclist. Motorists seem to get angry at the slow machine taking up their road space. Some intersections lack clearly defined sensors to trigger stop lights. We need to educate both the people behind the wheel and on the saddle on the rules. Unfortunately, we still have a long way to go before Connecticut will truly be bicycle friendly, but that will not stop people like me from enjoying it.

Caucus Week(s)

If you are involved in Connecticut politics you might sit on your party’s town committee. And if that is the case then this week or next week is probably caucus week for you. Caucus is how each of the party committees endorse their preferred candidates for election in November. The procedure for this varies by town and city but generally members of the town committee get to vote on the endorsement. If enough people think a different candidate should be put on the ballot in November then there will be a primary so that all the party members can choose their candidate(s).

This is also a good time for candidates to introduce themselves to their base and ask for support both in the form of money and volunteering. Town committee chairs try to make sure there is good attendance at these events to maximize the legitimacy of the endorsements and make sure the word gets out. If you want to see part of the local political process you should attend your local caucus and see the endorsement process in action. If you want to find out when your caucus is you can stop by where public notices are posted in town hall or call your town committee chair.

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This work by Matt Zagaja is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.