Mar 21

La vie

Definitely in a hip hop mood today.

Her voice is even better than Lauryn Hill’s, in my opinion. I really like the Fugees’ version, but Rudimdental’s live version is better than the Fugees’ studio version. And that is pretty amazing.

Mar 19

Not improving

Internet access in the US is actually getting worse — unknown to most — as more and more ISPs push data caps onto their customers.

It doesn’t matter if you have a 100Mbs connection if you can use all of your 150GB cap in less than five hours downloading at top speed.

The reason for this retrogression is that most of the ISPs are also content providers and producers, and they are attempting to eliminate competition from Netflix, Hulu and other streaming services.

Most people — being too ignorant for their own good — will not complain until it is already too late. That 150GB cap which seems generous now won’t seem so great when in five or 10 years you are watching a 4K movie streamed over the internet, and three of those movies in a month can exceed your entire cap.

Or in 10 years one game does it. (Even now, some games are more than 40GB. That will only increase.)

In most of the rest of the world, caps for landline broadband don’t exist or are disappearing. In the US, they are becoming nearly inescapable. It will only get worse.

For this reason, many 3rd-world countries (for lack of a better term) now have considerably better and cheaper internet access than the US.

Bandwidth is just insanely cheap. It is nothing like electricity or water (which is what your ISP wants you to believe). Nothing. If a network is idle, it costs the ISP absolutely zero to move data across it. And adding more capacity these days is so cheap you can do with a million dollars (nothing to an ISP) what 10 years ago when there were no caps would’ve cost $100 million. Really.

Well, it was a nice internet while we had it.

Mar 13

Marge Piercy

I recently finished reading Marge Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time.

I don’t intend to write a formal, full review but it was one of the most literate and grounded novels I’ve read. It called to mind — as it would for many others, I suspect — Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest in its exploration of the inhumanity of institutionalized violence.

Since I have been consciously attempting to read more fiction by women, as I’ve noted the quality of my reading material hasn’t suffered in the least. This novel, though, stands near (but under) Jo Walton’s Among Others as among the very best I’ve read.*

Published in 1976, Woman on the Edge of Time feels much more contemporary than its publication date would suggest. In fact, Piercy accurately predicts many technologies that did not yet exist making it feel even more current than by all rights it should.

It’s rare enough that a novel takes the perspective of an overlooked, welfare-dependent woman who is past the age of being appealing to men. Even rarer is that it doesn’t snidely wink at the reader, seeming to say, “We both know that you are better than this.”

In short, Piercy’s work is highly recommended.

*If someone forced me to choose a favorite novel of all time, I’d say Among Others by Jo Walton.

Mar 08

Not very bright is Bright

Is this guy some sort of idiot? The evidence says yes.

What’s a bit strange is that people are even looking for it in the first place.

While early PCs had dumb power switches that unceremoniously cut the power to the machine, the use of electronic power buttons—buttons that can tell the operating system to perform an orderly system shutdown before killing the power—have been a feature since the introduction of the ATX specification in late 1995. Any system on the market today can be shut down by pressing the same button that you used to turn it on. On the face of it, at least, this should make the on-screen button fairly unimportant.

I can think of dozens of scenarios (not all of which I will list) that this dumbass apparently can’t imagine where having a software power switch is far better and easier than having to find the physical power button each time. To wit:

1) The machine is in a cabinet where getting to the physical power button is incovenient.

2)
The machine is in a locked kiosk for public use.

3) The household has lots of kids and/or cats and the physical power button is disabled in software to avoid being accidentally turned off once booted.

4) The user is handicapped and is physically unable to reach the button.

5) The PC is in another room, and is remoted into.

You get the picture. This idiot Peter Bright (I guess it is opposite day, as “bright” he is not) seems to be unable to conceive of any use for an operating system, or any way or reason for using it, that he has not personally taken part in.

People like him are why I sometimes hate being associated with IT.

Mar 07

Apps for the dumb

We had the internet, but we were too stupid to keep it.

Apps aren’t the only thing killing it, but that’s a big part. I fucking hate apps. Hate using them, hate how limited they are, how slow they are and how they are designed for 3-year-olds.

But that seems to be about all people can handle. When we all go extinct, I hope some smarter species rises in our place.

Mar 04

Collapse

The collapse of Jared Diamond.

Another one — along with Malcolm Gladwell and Jonah Lehrer — I thought was bullshit long before anyone else seemed to catch on to the scent. I don’t know exactly how I tell — reading scientific papers with their (justified) hedging and uncertainty, versus the stone certainty of people like Diamond helps immunize one from being duped, even if not an expert in the field.

As I am an expert in no field nor do I wish to be (it limits creativity and flexibility enormously), having reliable heuristics for judging validity and relevance is important.

There was a post on Making Light recently about how everyone has a superpower. If I had to list one, I’d say it is being able to look at a massive amount of data (whether a book, some numbers, it really doesn’t matter) and say, “That doesn’t look right.” Often without being able to articulate why. And then being right about that incorrectness at far better than the rate of chance.

Diamond, Lehrer and Gladwell immediately set off that detector in me, with Lehrer making it go off like the foghorn of a steamer ship.

Mar 03

Crapitalism

I agree with some of this piece, but this portion is fundamentally wrong.

My point was if his products and business models were so great, he could succeed on his own, by attracting private capital.

Almost nothing actually innovative attracts private capital. The internet, for instance, never would’ve amounted to anything if we’d had to depend on private capital to fund it as the returns were 20-30 years in the future. For a private company, anything more than 2-3 quarters away is also known as “eternity.”

Private capital only attracts to what is already nearly-sure to be profitable, for the most part. It’s not some magical arbiter of what is actually a good idea, especially for society at large.

Why do people insist on believing that against all evidence?