Jun 06

Configurability

My ability to use the internet it appears will be over sooner than I expected, as Firefox 25 will remove most configurability options as well as having a terrible, eye-shatteringly bad interface.

The Chrome browser is equally bad if not worse, and of course IE is completely unusable.

Assuming that most pages will work on a version of Firefox that I can actually use for 2-3 years after Firefox 25 comes out is a fairly good assumption, I think. After that, it’s likely that I will curtail or nearly completely eliminate most internet usage as the experience will become intolerable since then I will be forced to use the new interface or have many pages render broken.

I find terrible interfaces to be complete unusable, so it’s no exaggeration to expect that in five years my recreational internet usage will drop from 3-4 hours a day now to nearly 0 as user-hostile interfaces are all that is available.

It’s very sad because one of the primary reasons Firefox came to the fore was its configurability; it’s why it stole so much market share from IE. Why make it more like the terrible, slow (if you are doing anything serious) Chrome browser I have no idea.

The developer arrogance treadmill continues, I guess. Too bad there is not likely to be a fork, or a usable browser in the future.

Unlike with OSes, the internet is evolving quickly so it’s not likely I can get 10 years of usage out of Firefox 24 (the last sane version) as I will be able to out of Windows 7. As I’ve noted, the cool thing about me continuing to use Windows 7 while people switch to Windows 8, Unity and Gnome 3 is that it gives me a huge competitive advantage in the workplace as using those interfaces is productivity-killing among my main competition.

I will still use the internet/a browser for work of course, but about 2018 or so I suspect I will only turn on my computer to edit photos and such.

So much opportunity lost, but humans do that – cater to the stupid as there are more of them, and I guess always will be.

Jun 05

Fail

Office 2007 – the first version of Office with the ribbon interface – has been out for well over six years now, and I still need to Google basic operations that I did effortlessly in pre-ribbon versions of Office.

What a terrible, terrible interface, designed to make work easier for someone who uses Office once a year, but punishes anyone more competent on every damn use.

Office was the first symptom of making things so dumb that they are nearly impossible to use. It’s designed to make extremely easy operations slightly easier, while making nearly anything else almost impossible.

Jun 04

Down

It just occurred to me that for the traditional 20% down payment on a house in Seattle, it is possible to buy a nicer house here in the Tampa area for that down payment alone.

A $900,000 house in Seattle proper would be about a $180,000 house here. The $180,000 house here unless you bought in a very, very exclusive neighborhood would probably be better than the $900,000 Seattle house slightly.

$9000,000 * 0.2 = $180,000.

Damn.

Jun 02

Worse

The Chrome browser is completely unusable, and it looks like Firefox is going the same way.

If that’s the browser of the future, it seems I will not be able to use any browser at all. In the future, it seems I will also not be able to use the internet or computers at all as they will have been dumbed down and restricted to such a degree that using them is utterly pointless.

I am sure I will still do very minor things on the internet at that point, but with no obvious professional OS in sight and every piece of software going only for the LCD, it’s not clear that there will be anything someone like me – who actually knows how to use a computer and a browser – would actually enjoy doing.

It’s mystifying this trend to make everything the worst possible product, and then to tell everyone – even the people who depend on this software professionally – that it’s for “their own good.”

Jun 01

Trouble

The trouble with most people writing is that they have very little knowledge of most fields besides their own tiny specialty or interest. This results in writing nearly intolerable to read as there is always an elephant in the room that is about to step on their head they can’t even see, and usually can’t even imagine.

Like this, for instance, and its complete lack of economics knowledge.

How many animals does a vegetarian save each year?

Not a one, really.

The reason is that the demand for meat is price-constrained – that is, as the price of meat falls, people will consume more of it in a nearly-linear relation. A vegetarian consuming less meat does nothing to change the number of animals consumed. It just means the vegetarian lacks for yummy hamburgers and such.

A better and more insightful question is, and one that actually has academic relevance would be, How many new vegetarians do there have to be before meat production is reduced significantly (say, 20%+) from its current state? Let’s restrict that to the US only, as countries are vastly different.

As a complete wild-ass guess, I’d say that more than 20% of the US population would have to become vegetarians for this to occur –- I’d guess around 35%, as long as it included at least half of the affluent consumers (those who consume the most meat).

Of course, this is very complicated and imprecise, and would be very, very hard to model.

However, my point is that a vegetarian saves no animals at all in a world where the demand for meat is price-constrained for so much of the population (which it is).

May 31

All my dreams

Oh my fucking god, I cannot wait.

Good fonts, good fonts everywhere!

Every time we post a story that mentions a high-PPI notebook, tablet, or smartphone screen, folks chime in about the need for higher pixel densities on the desktop. Well, here you go. Asus has announced a 31.5″ monitor with a “4K Ultra HD” resolution of 3840×2160.

Now I will no longer necessarily have to use my 3rd-gen iPad to read an ebook with decent fonts. And the iPad does have a spectacular screen – far more legible and easier to read than a printed book.

And photos should look glorious on that screen.

I will be getting this; Asus, take my money, please.

May 31

Humans

As a species, I think humans are too stupid due to evolutionary circumstances to not go extinct.

There’s a fairly good chance that we will create real AI before our final departure, so we may leave successors. Some humans may also sort of survive – either resurrected from stored DNA or kept as near-pets by these AIs.

Think this is all crazy talk?

Imagine what our ancestors would’ve thought about Skyping someone from across the planet, or being able to see nearly any building on any street in the entire world as Google Maps allows.

I don’t believe in the technological singularity, but I do believe that over long time scales things can become radically different, and are almost guaranteed to do so.

May 30

Fuck keyboard shortcuts

About those who think that keyboard shortcuts are the sine qua non of computer use, how about this: fuck you.

I use or work on seven differerent OSes regularly or semi-regularly. Yes, that is correct. Seven.

I use not-very-regularly seven more.

That’s 14 different OSes that I use. Now tell me, how am I supposed to even begin to remember all of the shortcut keys for all of the OSes and applications that I use?

For the disbelievers, here are the OSes I use regularly or semi-regularly:

1) Windows 2003 Server

2) Windows XP

3) Windows 98

4) Windows 2008 Server

5) Windows 2012 Server

6) Linux Mint (MATE edition)

7) Windows 7

Here are those I use not-very-regularly, but more than once every 3-4 months:

1) Solaris 10

2) Novell 4.1 and 5 (too similar to list separately)

3) Windows 95 (legacy system at work)

4) Windows 2000 server

5) Windows NT 4.0 (legacy system at work)

6) KDE on Linux (keyboard shortcuts are vastly different in this)

7) Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5

Yep, many Windows versions use the same keyboard shortcuts. However, they differ between every version slightly, and it is impossible to remember what works in Windows XP and what doesn’t in Windows server 2008 and vice versa.

Not to mention the dozens to hundreds of admin tools I use on a weekly basis, all of which have different keyboard shortcuts.

Your reliance on keyboard shortcuts tells me only that you are probably mostly in one OS and one application 95% of the time. Good for you.

For some of us, that is not possible.

And yes, I do really know how to use all of those OSes, and about a dozen more. I’ve been at this shit for a long time.

May 30

Horrendous

Wow, the the new Gmail sounds even more horrendous than it already was.

So very glad that there are still desktop mail clients that do what I want.

But like a lot of tools that are increasingly designed for non-power users, it makes the hoi polloi slightly faster, but decreases my competition among smarter people as it reduces their efficiency while at the same time creating the illusion that they are working faster.

So as long as I don’t have to use the stuff myself – as long as I have alternatives – in many ways it is a net gain for me.

Just as long that is as I never have to suffer it.

May 29

Corpse

It is clear that humanity will not be allowed to get in the way of corporate profits.

It is also clear that people who believe that corporations are just a collection of humans and only that understand very little about the world. After all, a human is only a collection of single cells – and yet these same people would not claim that a human is the same as a spirochete or a jellyfish.

Reasoning by analogy is always dangerous, even when it is correct. Perhaps particularly when it is correct.

There is probably nothing to be done, anyway. Oligarchs will not surrender power. Climate change is unstoppable. Environmental degradation is continuing apace.

When change occurs, it will occur quickly – also despite popular belief.

I no longer align with the left or the right as dangerous and unshakeable illusions are firmly established in both camps, and are implicit in the very ordering of their belief systems.

I align with the data and with the truth, and revise my views avidly and quickly as new evidence arises, at least as much as any human can.