Jun 06

Mall cop

When I was 21 or so and still in the army, I went to a mall in North Carolina to watch a movie. I got there too early, bought my ticket, and was waiting on a seat right outside the movie theater for the film to start.

A security guard came up to me and told me that I was “not allowed to loiter.”

“I’m not loitering,” I said. “I’m waiting for the movie to start.” Then I showed him my ticket.

He said I was not allowed to stay there regardless, as it was considered loitering and was against the “rules.”

Then I told him to go screw himself loud enough for all the people around us to hear. I am just really terrible with rules that make no sense and idiots who try to enforce them. And my temper used to be so much worse than it is now.

He told me I’d have to leave and then reached out to grab my arm. I moved back and told him that I knew that since he was not a sworn law officer that he had no right to touch me, and that if he tried to do so again, he’d be bleeding all over the floor.

So I left, and he walked me out the door and all the way to my car. And if I hadn’t been in the Army at the time and with the desire to stay enlisted, I probably would have beaten the hell out of him in the parking lot. But instead as I was getting in my car, I told him that if I ever saw him when I was a civilian again, I would not forget his face and the outcome would be much different than me just leaving meekly in my car.

I am not as hotheaded now as I was then, but I honestly can’t say I’d do anything any differently now – except this time I’d probably let him grab my arm, and then take him down right in the middle of the mall. Yes, I realize that is not productive and would not change anything. But protests against stupidity and the petty enforcers of tyranny don’t need to be. They just need to happen, sometimes no matter the cost.

The security guard didn’t react much after our initial confrontation to anything I said. I think he didn’t expect to get that much pugnacious guff from some pretty skinny (though I was in ridiculously good shape then), nerdy-looking guy. I think he was just glad to be rid of me (I get that a lot!).

Note and disclaimer: I am not any kind of bad-ass, nor do I think I am. I am just really, really resistant to idiocy, formerly with a very bad temper, and am generally not afraid of much. And I strongly recommend against anyone doing many, if not most, of the things I have done or one day will do.

Jun 06

ME too

I’d rather use Windows ME than Windows 8.

At least Windows ME only crashed once or twice a day. Windows 8 is unusable all the time, all day long, in every situation.

Jun 06

Moby

I wish I’d saved the comment as now I cannot find it again, but I saw someone on Reddit aver that no one younger than 15-16 could possibly read and understand Moby Dick.

I read it when I was 9 years old and understood it just fine. It’s not really a difficult book, though some of the language is archaic. I believe I learned the word “ere” from that book, and was also amused by the the term “sallied out” which is used often in the work.

I was probably mentally capable of reading and understanding it when I was 6-7, but hadn’t yet discovered it. In that era, I mainly read National Geographics and other non-fiction and didn’t read much fiction.

If this sounds impossible, remember that at the time I was scoring in the 99th percentile of high school seniors for reading comprehension.

Yeah, I started early and never stopped.

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.