Archive for December, 2010

Of LCD Monitors, Old Novels, and Stranger Things

Warning: May Contain Language.

I try to be an informed consumer; nobody knows the value of careful deliberation and researched and jaundiced critical evaluation more than I. Nonetheless, I do occasionally wind up with goods that were clearly beaten with a crap stick somewhere during the design and/or manufacturing process. I try not to be bitter about this, but instead take the opportunity to look upon these incidents as learning experiences, grow, and move on, somewhat poorer, but somewhat wiser.

For instance, having recently purchased an LCD monitor from ViewSonic – the VA2323WM, though I doubt you care – I’ve learned three things: I hate LCD monitors in general, ViewSonic make absolutely crap LCD monitors, and the people who review monitors on Amazon are fucking dillholes.

Now, I’ve also been reading a lot of ancient novels again lately, mostly very late Victorian or late Edwardian, and one thing I’ve found particularly fascinating is the almost ridiculous difference between the insults of that era and of our own. Not just the difference, but the general and mostly clearly palpable superiority of insults from a century ago.

Much like the decline in musical ability over the decades, I blame drug use.
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Published in: Geekiness, General | on December 9th, 2010 | 2 Comments »

Cablegate: An Abject Failure

I’ve been kind of busy the last couple days with annoying familial obligations, but I have managed to find time to read most if not all of the first couple hundred cables that Wikileaks has released as part of “Cablegate”, and on the whole I’m really, really underwhelmed. For all the promotion and anticipation and propaganda and whatnot, the sad reality is that Julian Assange’s promises so far have proven empty.

What’s been released to date has been, like most Wikileaks dumps, pretty damned underwhelming. Assange wanted to maximize their impact by doling them out a few at a time over months, but this – as far as I can tell – is not working. Nobody anywhere cares about 99% of the cables leaked (and censored, ironically, by Wikileaks) to date. Nobody. They’re outdated administrative cruft with absolutely zero public interest. A tiny fraction of the Angry Young Men of the internet find one-half of one percent of the cables either shocking, scandalous, or unassailable confirmation of things they already believed in; the majority of the remaining half percent could be interesting, were the media interested.

The media are not interested, however. And neither is anybody else.

Wikileaks’ ongoing drama, and that of Julian Assange, are all that the media care about. They’re all that the media are ever likely to care about.

Right now, Julian Assange and his personal legal problems are probably better known, globally, than the Vice-President of the United States, or the Prime Minister of Great Britain. More people probably know his name, age, face, and place of birth than know that of Dmitry Medvedev. As a talentless do-nothing celebrutante, Assange is bigger than Snooki.

Was that his plan, all along? Achieve global infamy by pretending to be a demagogue? If so, he’s succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest expectations. Cablegate, alas, is likely to go down as little more than a not-very-interesting, here-today, gone-tomorrow footnote in history, much like Bill Clinton’s blowjob coverup, or the questionable accounting practices of British MPs.

Ah, well. Perhaps someone will come along to replace Wikileaks with a technically-competent system that’s more than a shell for a cult of personality. Or perhaps the fad of “leaking” things nobody cares about will go the way of the zoot suit and the pet rock.

Published in: General | on December 7th, 2010 | No Comments »

Kwik Hits

Random things of possible interest on a snowy and very cold Friday here in Minnesota:

Thanks to everyone who entered the Mendacities giveaway, and congratulations to the lucky winners. Thanks also to anyone who might have bought a copy on Amazon recently, thereby – however briefly – causing the sales rank to spike above 500,000 for a day. (Hey, I’ll take whatever I can get.)

I found this amusing enough to share: RFC 6565. “Fault-tolerant pairs of rodents, whoo!” indeed.

Apparently this was quite the hit in 1912. My, how the times have changed in the last 98 years, no?

Cattle rustling, however, is still with us today. I’m sure the economy is to blame…

I spotted this on the USAF website; to read it, you’d think modern aircraft were made from interwoven layers of toxins and carcinogens, and leave Superfund sites everywhere they go. Sheesh…

Published in: General | on December 3rd, 2010 | No Comments »

The Eken M-001 as Ebook Reader: Its’ All About the Apps

Back in June, I acquired an Eken M-001, an Android-powered tablet computer with a seven-inch display, occasionally referred to as an “Apad” or “ePad”. It normally sells for around $99 USD, making it pretty much the cheapest such device on the market. In July, after owning it for a couple of weeks, I wrote about my first impressions with the machine.

The short summary, for people who don’t want to re-read that: It’s an awesome e-book reader, and kind of ill-suited for many of the other things that people try and do with it.

After about six months with the thing, I’m still incredibly pleased with it, and have come to the conclusion that it’s the apps that make – or break – the device. To be somewhat helpful in that regard, here are some of my thoughts and experiences, after a lot of extensive use.
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Published in: Geekiness, General | on December 1st, 2010 | No Comments »