June 27, 2006


So I spent a fair portion of my day today at work watching movie trailers. Its not that I was COMPLETELY slacking off, I had a lot of downtime today.

I still haven't seen An Inconvenient Truth, but I will since I hear its coming to Lansing soon enough (this weekend actually). See the An Inconvenient Truth website to find out when and where its playing.

If you haven't seen the trailer, here you go:

or here on Apple.com.

While on Apple Trailers today, I ran across this: Who Killed the Electric Car?. Its another environmentally-themed film, so it goes along, and also delves into the politics of the environment, and why we haven't seen widespread use of electric cars yet. I intend to see it.

YouTube trailer:

I also found The Road to Guantanamo. It is a film about three British Muslims who were held without charges in Guantanamo for two years.

YouTube trailer:

All of these kind of get me worried about where we're going. I'm constantly dissapointed with the state of the world.

On a lighter note, the first trailer for Spiderman 3 is out. I'm somewhat excited.

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June 20, 2006

Computer Skills

I like computers. If you know me, you probably know this about me. I'm kind of a nerd. I don't run Windows on any of my computers any more, and all of my machines are Macs except for one. On that box (as well as on one of my Macs) I play with Linux sometimes.

Why? you might ask.

Well, I like to learn, and since I like computers, I like to learn about them. I like to learn about how they work, and I know enough for me to hobble around when I have to repair hardware. I'm no guru by any means, but I know a bit, and I'm happy with what I know.

What I'd like to know more about is different operating systems. I know my way around the command line in OSX pretty well, but I'd like to learn a bit more. And since there is enough similarities between how OSX's guts work and the way Linux's guts work, I figure it'll give me something to play with, and maybe I'll learn a thing or two I can apply on my Mac. If not? I had a bit of fun, and hopefully understand a bit more about how the computers that power the majority of webservers on the planet (not to mention a ton of other stuff).

I'm not a super-user (pun intended), so I wanted a Linux distro that is friendly, but I still want to be able to get my hands dirty if I feel like it. After trying Fedora Core and SuSE, I settled on Ubuntu. To make it short, Ubuntu is easy to use, and it meets my requirements. I could go on about it, and perhaps I will another day, but for now, that's all I'm going to say about why.

On Livejournal, there is a community of Ubuntu Users, a lot of whom are in the same boat as me.

Recently, one user wrote about how he had tried to switch his entire family over to Ubuntu. In the end, they decided that their next computer will run Windows exclusively. Why you ask? In short because they don't know exactly how to use it like they do with Windows. His dad predictably reacts the way a 60 year old man might, his mom is actually okay with Ubuntu, and his brothers... The one is only 10, and what he learns about computers at school is so Windows-centric that he needs to run it at home.

[quote]Unfortunately, the content of the instruction is actually of the “go to START>PROGRAMS>” sort--button-by-button, screen by screen handhold howtos for (naturally) Microsoft products.[/quote]

The older one seems a bit too stubborn to bother learning (but what do you expect from a 16-year-old?). And he's a gamer.

But the biggest issue is that none of them will know where to go if something goes wrong. They can't support it themselves, and everyone they know is a Windows user. They get a Windows license with new computers, and that includes Tech Support is they need it. One commenter remarked:

[quote]It's depressing, but then I have to remind myself that computers are not simple devices, and every attempt to make them so has failed. Why are we trying to make Linux something that even Windows is not?

But perhaps there's nothing wrong with this. After all, if for example your washing machine breaks, if your car breaks, if your home brickwork needs repairing or plumbing bursts, most people need enlist the help of someone who knows what they're doing and are perfectly happy with that. Why are we trying to make computers braindead-simple to use when they're probably the most complicated consumer device ever? Where did this expectation that everybody can "master" a computer and never need to ask, much less pay anyone for help come from?[/quote]

Which I think is extremely poignant. My mom can't change the oil in her car, much less fix it if something actually breaks. Someone who's trained to fix such things would be the one to fix it. People don't expect it to work that way with computers. They're not magic (some people seem to still forget this); they are extremely complicated machines, both in regards to hardware and software. If it breaks, you might have to take it to the mechanic. Whether it "just broke" or if you ran it into a wall, sometimes you have to have an expert look at it. And that'll cost you time and money.

That being said, I would say that their are more reliable operating systems than Windows. Despite there being fewer repair shops that will do repairs on them, people still buy Japanese cars because they are reliable. Should the same apply to computers?

I don't know what all this means in the grand scheme of things, but it got me thinking anyhow.

You still need to perform basic maintainance.

In your car you check the oil and coolant, make sure you have air in your tires. You want to make sure your brakes work. You take interest in who and what goes into your car.

On a computer you might have to run anti-virus and anti-spyware software. You might have to run a firewall. You also need to take interest in who and what goes into your computer.

Make sure you understand what you're installing. Would you install a new oil filter in your car that you found on the side of the road, even if it looks okay? No. And you shouldn't install software from just anywhere.

Take interest in where things come from. If you trust them, go for it.

Always know that you might be taking a risk with your computer. Be careful - you might not know how to clean up any mess you might make. When that mess comes and you don't know what to do, accept that you might have to let someone who does clean it up.

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June 16, 2006

In the news:

In news that makes me angry, two guys were convicted and sentenced at the Old Bailey for the murder of a gay barman. They got a minimum of 28 years in prison, which is good, but what a pair of assholes:

[quote]One witness who tried to intervene was warned off and told by one of the pair: "We don't like poofters here and that's why we can kill him if we want".[/quote]

And in news that's absolutely HILLARIOUS, the RIAA cliams that illegal filesharing has been "contained". That's some serious shit. That Register article puts it really well:

[quote]In the past, the recording industry has blamed digital music and illegal downloads for the slump in CD sales. However, this was in direct contrast to a number of reports that claimed file sharers purchased more music, not less.[/quote]

And in news that makes me happy (combining two of my favorite things - beer and coffee), apparently coffee helps protect your liver from cirrhosis.

[quote]For every cup of coffee participants drank each day, the researchers calculate they were 22 per cent less likely to develop alcoholic cirrhosis long term...[/quote]

Not that this allows you to become an alcoholic, but its nice to know that I'm doing something good for myself when I'm at the coffee shop.

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June 14, 2006


So every day I open up a bunch of stories from my newsreader (NetNewsWire Lite from Ranchero for what its worth), and read, in a bit more depth, the stories that caught my eye.

Today, by the time I was done, two stories stuck out, and I hadn't closed their respective tabs in my browser. They seem related to me, not directly, but... well, just take a look.

US 'biggest global peace threat' - from the BBC

US Marines investigate singing squaddy - from The Register

The first is a BBC story on how the rest of the world (at least the European and Muslim countries) feels that our government's policy is a bigger threat than Iran's nuclear program.

The second is another British piece (it seems I get all my real news from the Brits) on The Register about this video that was recorded of a supposed Marine singing a song about... well, as the Register article puts it:

[quote]Called "Hadji Girl" the lyrics are more or less what you'd expect. It's not the most culturally-aware composition you've ever heard but presumably the squaddy wasn't recruited for his singing ability.[/quote]

And the audience (again, supposed Marines - the Marine Corps is looking into it) cheers him on.

I guess the first story simply confirms for me that the rest of the world thinks we're fucking this situation up as much as I think we are. And the second points me at a video that seems to me to be indicitive of the attitude that some people in the United States have. This is the face we're showing the world, and then people wonder why we are disliked in the best situations and hated in the worst.

I understand that going to Iraq and dealing with what those folks see every day isn't easy (the man who would have been my brother-in-law died there before I ever got to meet him), and isn't going to likely foster good will towards the Iraqis who attack US soldiers, but this is ridiculous. There has to be something better. Mocking the language and culture of these people, and then making jokes about using children as a shield against gunfire is inexcusably wrong, and kind of makes my stomach turn.

This is not what America is like. I sincerely hope the rest of the world doesn't think that this moron represents the majority of people in this country, because he is nothing like any of the people I know and love here.

If you want to see the video, its on YouTube right now. You have to be a YouTube member to watch it, but I guess I'll embed it. Sorry that its offensive, but its easier than people having to go register for YouTube.

EDIT: The video has been removed from YouTube, and the Marine (Cpl Joshua Belile) apologized. How he "never intended to cause offense" by writing trash like that is beyond me.

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June 13, 2006


If you ever thought YOU were good at Tetris (I know I did), prepare to be shamed.

I saw this on TechEBlog. Original post.

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June 11, 2006

Windows RG

This is REALLY old, but with the release of Windows Vista eminent, on its way, forthcoming happening eventually whenever they get around to it, I'm reminded why I'm glad to be away from the Windows world - especially after those sad, lonely months when I was forced (for reasons beyond my control) to run Windows ME. *shudder*

Okay, the flashbacks are subsiding.

Windows XP wasn't THAT bad, but the amount of maintenance I had to do with it on a college network, it was more work than it was worth. Here's hoping Microsoft hits a little closer to the mark this time.

Windows RG is one of my favorite (albeit greatly exaggerated) parodies of all time.

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The new Weird Al

I saw this a couple days ago, and I didn't actually give it a listen until just today. Its actually pretty okay - I mean, its Weird Al, but as Weird Al goes, its entertaining.

Weird Al takes on James Blunt (mp3)

Thanks to Stereogum for the article with the link.

I know I used to be really into Weird Al, I even saw one of his concerts at the Fowlerville Fairgrounds back in the day. Laura actually got dragged to a Weird Al convention once with her brother. She met the man, but she was really unhappy to be there at the time.

PS - Al's a Mac user. Who knew?

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June 09, 2006

George Washington

While I'm on a YouTube kick:

Sheer brilliance. I can't say enough about this video.

[quote]Washington, Washington. Six foot twenty, fucking killing for fun.[/quote]

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Popo Zao

I probably totally mis-spelled that, but this it too funny to not discuss.

I haven't watched Late Night in a long time (as in I've only seen it maybe twice in the last year), so I'm not sure when this aired. BUT, somehow they got James Lipton from Inside the Actor's Studio to come on and recite the lyrics from Kevin Federline's terribly awful tune "Popo Zao".

This is sheer brilliance, and I owe my friend Mike major props for providing the link.

And if you haven't seen it already, see the classic video of Federline making a complete fool of himself.

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