For many software and hardware engineers of my generation the 1981 issue of Byte Magazine coverage of Smalltalk and the 1991 issue of Scientific American covering "ubiquitous computing" were defining milestones.

Vote in favor of the High School bond

South Kingstown needs a new High School. The current building is too old, too big, and too costly to maintain or to renovate. For three years the Town and the School Committee have been working toward a replacement. This is a long process but one that has been done with much commununity eguagement and open meetings. At this time we have the benefit that the Rhode Island Department of Education will contribute $81M towards the new school. This contribution, however, is not forever and we risk loosing it if we don't act soon. The $150M cost is a better estimate than the $125M of just a year ago. (Construction costs in RI are very high due, in part, to a labor shortage.) The $150M will be borrowed over 4 years and paid back over 20 years. For the average house in SK that means approximatly a $60/year increase in taxes until all the money is borrowed for a final $318 increase in taxes for the remaining period of the loan. (Ie, $60, $120, $180, $240, $318, $318, ...) For my house that works out to be 3 weeks of extra tax payments, hardly something to be concerned about.

With that said, this $318/year is in addition to the normal increase in property tax. The tax increase is between 1.2% and 1.7% per year. SK runs a very tight operation. (Narragansett, for example, is at 4%.) For my house that's a $60 to $80 per year increase. So, in 4 years I will be paying several hundred dollars more in taxes. I am not indifferent to this being a significant increase for those on a fixed income. (It will not be long before I am amongst them.) But it is also far less than other communities are seeing.

South Kingstown continues to attract new residents and tourists from all around New England. Our tax base is growing and, if we are prepared, we can increase our commerical as well as residential tax base. There is much reason to expect our tax payments to remain well within an acceptable amount for all the benifits we have living here. If my house was in Richmond, just a few miles inland, I would be paying 50% more in property taxes. I much prefer living just minutes from the ocean. I suspect you do too.

Please vote in favor of the High School bond. You can vote at the Town Hall now or on May 7 at your polling station.

Update: I have seen and heard statements that taxes will increase by over $1,000 by 2030. The implication being that this increase is due to the High School bond. The reality is that over $700 of that increase is just normal increases in Town and School spending.

Inspiration and ingenuity

Sometimes all you need is inspiration and ingenuity for your tabletop space wargames.

PDF and filling in forms with pdfcpu

I am always on the lookout for programatic PDF tools. I have heard for a very long time that PDF is dying and yet it is still far from dead. Pdfcpu is a newish tool that works on the command line. I was interested in it as it has a simple mechanism for filling in PDF forms. It uses a JSON file to provide the form data, and that along with the original PDF is then used to create a new filled in PDF.

Use the form export sub-command once to get the JSON structure

pdfcpu form export in.pdf out.json

This JSON file would be used to create a programatic template. Edit or generate the JSON with the form data you want. Now create the filled in PDF.

pdfcpu form fill in.pdf in.json out.pdf

What got me particually interested in it is that it is written in Go, which I am currently learning, and is open sourced. Hopefully, someone is thinking about turning form filling into a lightweight, locally running HTTP service.

So very disappointed with yesterday's eclipse here in Rhode Island. I should have paid attention to the data about the eclipse's path and not succumbed to the hype. Had I done that I could have driven to Vermont to see something quite spectacular

Photo by Tim Barmann, a colleague at MojoTech

Natural RGB

I really enjoy the Tippecansett trail in the Arcadia management area. It is strenuous and beautiful. Some of yesterday's colors, a natural RGB,