October 2003 Archives

Piracy's Bad Mmkay...


Lovely article on the difficulties of indoctrinating something wrong on young people who know better

Louis has a webcam


Louis has finally capitulated and gotten a webcam. Happy Day. Come and see what Louis looks like.

Longhorn 4051 Leaked


If you're a geek, you might want to have look at the section in my forum for registered users. You might find a lovely surprise - but only if you're too lazy/n00b to know better where to get this stuff from.



The Breeder's Title TK was a great birthday record I think.

Legacy Radio


I find it intriguing that there are times when the intention is to support legacy-ness not for technical or economic reasons per se, but rather for the sake of feeling and experience.

The latest hour of Showtalkers was initially posted as streaming only (on KSSX.com) - you could stream it as if it was "live", so that it cycles every say 45 mins or however long the show is.

The whole idea of KSSX is basically as a radio station like other (I don't think all) internet "radio stations" - it plays content as if you were tuning in with an analog tuner.

I mean one of the most powerful or useful features of "internet radio" is that it can be on demand - if you "miss" a show, you can just go at any time and listen to it from start to finish, or if you aren't in time at the top of the hour, you can just stream/play from the beginning as if you were there at that time.

I wonder at the thinking behind it, but one of the motivations I can see is that it's like programming real time shows, so that if you're waiting for a show you listen/watch the channel/station until it's time for the show, or you keep listening/watching after your favorite show is on, therefore attracting the audience to your other content.

The other attraction I suppose is that if you had ads (KSSX doesn't seem to, at least showtalkers doesn't) there's no choice but to sit through them.

I suppose it's just the dialectical nature of my attitude to technology that I find it difficult to feel indulgent/retrograde/myopic to that kind of rehashing of past paradigms. Just to be clear it's not the economics of it that bothers me - the desire for profit of promotion, rather the unwillingness to translate that economic motivation along with the content to the new medium of delivery.

Tell the Truth


Hopefully this is the last post about Longhorn, unless the stuff from PDC is really that worthy of comment.

Have a look at this comment in response to some Microsoftie posting more about the community project that's going on. I just wish they could be more honest about what they (MS) are doing, if they could at least say, well, open source developers have something in what they do - it's intelligent of them to create a community - and despite the fact that we're not too sure about the quality of the products this produces, they do help to create people who are happy with the product and have a place where they can be heard about what's wrong.

I'm getting the feeling that I might want to get my hands on the pre-beta to play with, when it's released, hopefully the shipping isn't expensive, or that the versions they distribute online aren't bad.

Oh Microsoft, let me count the ways.


It must have been me reading a Longhorn blog, and all the Microsoft ra-ra-ness that being plagued by open-sourcers can engender, but I'm really not all that invested in MS per se. I have enough faith that my prose conveys my ambivalence, but I suppose at times that ambivalence becomes a bit too indeterminate and confusing even to myself.

Honestly though, a lot of the stuff that got bandied about was pretty heavy going, and some of it was pretty rough - I have nothing but sympathy for anyone on the recieving end of it, whether or not at the end of the day I think they brought it on themselves.

It's nice to have some thing/s that make me want to write again, the exertion does me good I think.

I think what Michel's mention of my entry in his blog did was really crystalise in my mind that I couldn't give a toss in a sense about the topic itself - I glanced at Cringely's article (I'd seen it earlier anyway) and just shrugged - that aspect of it really doesn't interest me. In a larger sense I'm just intrigued by the (in many senses) ideological conflict that engenders this level of rhetoric; but also I'd be happy to use Linux if only I didn't have to go through being a newbie again and a bunch of other things.

In terms of what I have at stake in all this, I hate to think of it this way but I am (only) an end user - obviously part of me thinks this makes me king anyway. I suppose I should blame ATI for the fact that their drivers suck ass and whenever I boot up I seem to have to change my refresh rate, and all the other software developers for fucking things up - but in a sense on MS' part, they really just can't use that as an excuse.

I really wish I knew what was up with Overnet.

What I don't understand is why Microsoft is so rabidly reactionary towards the Open Source Community.

When you are in a position of power, when you are sincerely assured that you are right - that is when you tend to be able to resort to civility, gravitas and self-assurance. You don't get reactionary unless you feel really threatened.

Microsoft is in a position of prominence, it should not behove it to stoop to the level that people in the OSC can be accused of. It should be able to take/ask for/act on criticism with aplomb and a sense of not-overbearing responsibility.

The fact that it does not can mean a number of things. First, that they've succumbed to a kind of paranoia, where everything around them is a threat and the people criticising them are stupid (they are patently not).

Second they may have come to believe that they are being criticised for things that are not really wrong/their fault - an extremely dangerous path to go down, since it leads you to miss the truth. People can hate you for no reason, true, but how can you assume that?

Third, they are feeling so threatened by the OSC that they're pissing in their pants and flailing when they should be maintaining an image that the OSC cannot, perhap are unwilling to, emulate - be professional, be stable, keep the poker face while being convincing that customer loyalty matters. Saying that OS software sucks is not the same as saying that MS software is good.

I suppose what I'm not doing too good a job of making clear is that what the Economist says here about the relationship between America and Europe applies very readily to MS and the OSC. Look through the article and substitute the respective terms. If I'm really that cack-handed, this is the last line of that article: "From a true leader, a little effortless superiority is called for."

And if I was totally unmitigated in my support for MS, that's what I would/should be saying.

I don't know that I would have bothered to comment about this, but after the Economist decided to write tripe, I suppose I can't help it.

Mahatir is a racist and delusional. I'm sorry but did we not know this? He's no better than Lee Kuan Yew in this respect (if not others) - he's a doddering old man who decides he knows everything and wants to mouth off now that he's not long/no longer in office. He over-sees a country that has institutionalised racism inscribed in it's laws - which, if nothing else, is at least honest, unlike elsewhere, where dominion is completely ellided.

Here is someone who is willing to use an adversarial people as an example of how his own people have so abjectly failed. That said, there is not (and definitely not here) any benign construction of the "other" - saying people control the world by proxy, however good it sounds or how much of a (rather funny) joke it is, does not negate the fact that it is predicated on a real sense of dislike, distrust, hatred.

But if Mahatir were not known to have distributed copies of the "International Jew" before, would this not be someone calling for the end of violence, the call for a return of pride to a group of people? Whether or not either side is more sinned against than sinning is now too internecine a knot to untangle - but if aspiration could become the pursuit of intellect, of technology, of advancement and discovery, would that not be grand?

If it were not for the fact that I cannot entirely dismiss the Economist's assertion that this is, regardless, a form of casus belli, it does not expunge the problem that Israel has a lot less to worry about than the muslim world put together from a conflict between the two. It might be a joke to some that the Jews rule the world, but it would be a very poor joke to say that Muslims do the same. And muslims don't get away with having governments who institutionalise terrorism.

I will now take one step too far and take issue with the fact that this one comment has generated more column inches than it should have because it's pushed the Jewish button. Just like Trent Lott, there are legitimate reasons why this should cause alarm and reaction. And yet why am I sick and tired of hearing about black oppression and the holocaust? Because people have said it better, and it's being said at the expense of other things - just so it can indulge a particular paltry liberal core of sympathy and outrage.

Izzit cuz I is bleck?

And if I were complaining about my own oppression rather than those of others, I'd bother to be more exacting, more selective, and less depreciative of my capital accumulation of whine.

I Hate Microsoft/Longhorn


I've been looking at the "discussion" over at Longhornblogs.

Without going into technical detail, especially since a lot of it is developer level stuff anyway, the dynamics of the discussion is no end of interesting.

I'll try not to be hideously snarky about these people's understanding of a) logic b) economics c) writing.

The one who put up the original post is Robert Scoble, and his post reads (especially in context of the responses it recieves) as differing magnitudes of insufferable.

There's a certain amount of gall in the fact of what they're blowing their own horn about.

Let's just be clear about this, self-deprecation is not the mark of humility, not the mark of humour, not the mark of self-deflation, not the mark of supplication.

The general tone of the post is one of presumption: *everyone* will want to tell us we suck, because we are the be-all and end all. Asking for criticism and then expecting it in it's droves is an oblique way of saying the world revolves around you.

There is no real sense of "there are things deeply wrong, we are worried, help us out because we don't quite know what we're doing". First it's a kind of fishing, "oh it's so bad" "oh no it's not that bad, this and that just need a bit of work". Second, "we're so great and well meaning that how could you not cream in your pants at the thought of making us feel better about what we do".

Just the hyperbole with which he characterises the false expectation he has of how bad the criticism will be bespeaks only a very petty extent to which they are willing to be corrected. You're going to tell us this sucks, that blows - they are making the complaints already sound really trivial. It's the kind of expectation that the uncriticised has of what criticism will be like - they haven't a clue as to how or whether people will react.

That said, the idea of having a Longhorn that's actually good isn't a bad idea, and what they're doing in itself isn't horrible, it's just the way they do it reflects their naivete towards how and why people dislike their products. Telling yourself that people dislike you just because you are no. 1 (and being shy about that position even as you perpetuate your own paranoia about it) doesn't allow yourself to address what is really fundamentally wrong with what you're doing/making.

As far as I know, the only good (?)/ justifiable monopoly is a regulated one which they postively would never want. Don't pretend competition isn't good just because you wish it wasn't. If you want to insist on appealing to the market, where you are paid for your labour/knowledge, you have to respect that that has to occur in a competitive environment, because if money is the only objective (which is what paid software people predicates itself on), in a monopoly the only thing needs to get better is how to get the money.

In terms of how panicked they might feel and how hard they work, I have deep suspicions as to how much Orwell's maxim rings true - the higher you are on the food chain, the more delusional you are about the threat that others pose, the more you believe your own spin. This hardly sounds like a healthy competitive psyche at work.

Thank god blogs aren't expected to be *too* considered and can be expected to peter out and meander a bit. There are sometimes reasons why developers should have people who speak for them - communication is not something that anybody and everybody can do.

It's your refresh rate Su-lin


In order to change your refresh rate, you go to display properties (right click on desktop, properties) - go to the "settings" tab - click on "Advanced" - look for the monitor tab - set the refresh rate to 85 Hertz. Happy Su-lin.

If that doesn't work, you can try re-installing your graphics driver - www.nvidia.com if I remember your family computer correctly.

It'll be much better for you eyes.

It's probably one of the worst myths that's bandied about in tech circles - that everyone should have antivirus software and a software firewall. I don't have a problem with the protection that these applications provide per se, but really, I just don't find them either necessary or useful outside of educating those who don't yet know how vulnerable their computers are - and consequently how to effectively and efficiently protect them.

The problem with antivirus software and firewalls is that they're software. This might come as a surprise, but software has bugs. And for whatever reason, either because these applications function at such a fundamental level with the operating system, or the companies producing them are just complacent in an unrationalised marketplace, these bits of code are particularly awful. But not only are they awful, they cost money to be awful, and often require you to subscribe to services that make you pay every year. Not that you'll ever really pay that subscription fee though, since every year without fail, these vendors will come out with "new" "improved" versions of their software that "add more up-to-date funtionality. Take that as code for they want you to pay to "upgrade" to something that is nothing more than your current application warmed over, with new features that are less than useless.

Another problem is that updating the software (not the virus definitions) is a chore for those who constantly clean install their systems - you have to download large chunks of data and reboot more than once most of the time. When it gets to the point where I'm thinking antivirus vendors should provide service packs that I can slipstream, something is wrong wrong wrong. The patch based model for updating software has it's advantages, but in this case I don't see why I can't eventually download a fully updated installer for when I clean install, instead of leaving my computer vulnerable for the download and reboot process.

Whoopty Doo


I've strung bits together into what looks vaguely promising, hopefully Cari will find it funny (if she's not terribly pleased :P).

I've decided that going over to the UK will be just the thing, probably just before easter. I'll have to find someone to put me up when the time comes, mayhaps Ve-Yin, but you never know. Visiting Cari will be fun, wonder if Claire might be around. I should really mail Claire, wonder if I should mail Anthony. Should really mail Ve-Yin and Andrew. Oh, and commiserate with Delwyn about his accomodation.

I've discovered the joys of Halo, something I'm sure Eugene's familiar with (another person to mail). It's not too bad, but I get the feeling my having turned off any and all anti-aliasing is just the thing. Unless I'm feeling particularly ready to become one of those people, I don't think I'll be paying 300 bucks for a graphics card anytime soon. But yes, some modicum of fun.

Oh, another reason to mail Ve-Yin is to tell him about my lovely discovery of Misfit's of Science. Bittorrent, and Suprnova.tk are lovely lovely lovely - they're also the source of said Halo... :D.

Here She Comes Again


It does vaguely concern me that writing here has not been much of an attraction of late, but I suppose it's not surprising. I'm not kidding though, that Hunky Dory is an absolutely fantastic Bowie album, just such frenetic energy and yet so shaped and hovering between control and exuberance.

There is a certain paltry surrender to the supernatural. Those who imagine that their computers have personalities and moods ? that is the supernatural of the blithely flacid ignorant, not the supernatural of the will, of defiance.

I wonder at points whether I am actually telling a story at all, whether I am simply stating my opinions as people can find so objectionable, and yes there is a certain cack-handedness about ill-performed obliqueness, when it becomes *so* much of a conceit ? as bad as the pointedness and directness of political intent. Sometimes I wonder whether it is ambivalence that I aspire to but rather just a struggle to get things right amidst all the geometric complexity.

Hi, My Computer's Named Annie, and...


I really don't intend to be mean to anybody (though to people who really *don't* read this), but for fuck's sake, if you insist on ascribing mystical forces and a personality to your computer, you can fucking well go out and dance naked in the rain instead of coming crying to me when things go wrong. Whose god-damned fault?

I take it very personally when people I know are fuckwits about computers, and I'm a complete snob about it, but I find very good reason to be when people refuse to become informed about something that's so important to them. We should ALL and I say ALL, become fascists and have extension ladders. If you don't want to empower yourself there's very little I can do to help you - using computers requires you to maintain a reasonably steep learning curve, and you ignore it at your peril.

I make it a point to admit my broad range of ignorance, but learn what I need to in good time, and people cannot always expect "computer people" to know everything or want to know everything. I know about what I'm interested in, in what I use, if you want to use something else you can for god's sake find out what RTFM means (Read The Fucking Manual).

I don't do this for a living.

Isn't Bowie wonderful?

Alizee and Overnet


Well, ahem, yes, Michel talking about Alizee? All becomes clear now. It's getting quite compulsive downloading her videos and performances. Very much like a paedophile's dream Kylie. But then she just looks young I suppose - she's 19?

And just to set things straight about Overnet, it's all my fault, and Overnet is fantastic - mess around with the connections and learn how to use port forwarding and the world is wonderful again.

Su-Lin might be interested in this :)

'It's an interesting thing,' said Spruce, 'but very few of the great masters of trash aimed low to start with. Most of them wrote sonnet sequences in youth. Look at Hall Caine - the protege of Rosetti - and the young Hugh Walpole emulating Henry James. Dorothy Sayers wrote religious verse. Practically no one ever sets out to write trash. Those that do don't get very far.'

From Evelyn Waugh's Sword of Honour Trilogy (pp. 673-674).

I Take It All Back


Actually, now that I think about it, the article I just posted on the X-Men is actually the epitome of all the things I really dislike about a certain kind of criticism, that I tend to conflate as Marxist.

Not that the article is not perceptive and well, the accusations it makes are actually quite fitting. It's just that there's a general tone about it that is rife with that dramatic turn for revelation and the relish and strut of political discovery. However much I am swayed by the accuracy of the accusations it makes, and obviously I feel them to be necessary, even essential, to any reading of the text, yet the problem lies in that this kind of writing is just so very simply not very good literary analysis. Beyond that, it is also just not very fair or descriptive - to the extent that it becomes a kind of naive imposition on the text, and lacks any real engagement with the complexity that accompanies any text deemed worthy of comment.

Just as examples that spring to mind, what of the aesthetics of spectacle involved? The endless close reading that can take place in examining the narratorial and textual elements of the form the text takes - the framing of the action, the "how" of the story being told in a series of panels, the issues of focalisation and perspective that are involved. Not to mention the sexual fetishism inherent in the depiction of bodies, the textual and verbal ticks that pervade the series, somehow independant of the change-over of writers. And I suppose I could make some snarky comment about ignoring how funny things are but that would be somewhat unfair.

Not that I am not guilty of doing similar things - and to be honest it is very effective as a kind of rhetorical trump, to undermine the politics of a text - and yet I find that it's really the easy, and lazy way out, an effective way of dismissing texts rather than examining them.

Accusation, if nothing else, detracts from the more fruitful examination (if you want to retain the same ideological slant as accusation allows) of the mechanics, the emotional appeal if you will, of how and why these texts are then still so attractive and persuasive. If you wish to move beyond idle politics, then you come to the point where these caveats become a baseline, a point of departure from which you examine the million other things that are of so much more interest. I appreciate that he's writing in response to something, working against the flow of something, but it's just how predictable he has to make it that is rather disappointing.

Of course it's politically compromised. Deal with it.

Naughty X-Men


Without mentioning that I've been spending most of the past week catching up on the edonkey-available Uncanny X-Men, I found this rather sensible, if somewhat annoying (though reasonably well written) article on why X-Men was not concieved as the kind of trope for racial tolerance it's accepted to be today. Vive la Marx.

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