polemicist: a writer who argues in opposition to others  

A BLOG about science, technology, consumerism, philosophy, higher education, media and other bothersome stuff that makes up modern life...

20080623.1604 The Universal Language

Get your mind above your navel!  I'm talking about Music.

This has been a good summer for me so far.  I've gone to see/hear a lot of good music.  The big name acts that other people might recognize would include Duran Duran, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, and The Cure.  I have to point out that 65daysofstatic opened for The Cure the other night and they were insanely great.

What I found really interesting is a recurring pattern.  The older folks at the shows are the ones that are going wild and the younger crowd is sedate.  I saw people who looked >40 who were crowd surfing at Duran Duran.  The depressing bit was that when they left their circle of friends no one would lift up their hands and down they came.

Everyone is too busy texting each other & emailing bad digital photos to their friends to be aware that there's a concert going on around them.  "Acting up" in any way gets people staring at you & whispering to each other like it's a scandal & not a party.

Let's face it - I've been gen-gapped by the echo of the 1950's.  It took Lithium, Prozac, Paxil, etc., the Disneyfication of all media, and a mind-numbing ever-present unsettling fear of The War to make people that boring again - but it happened.  The children of the 60's have raised their parents as their children.

Maybe that's a Good Thing - since the next president of these United States is going to be the next Herbert Hoover - inheriting the next Great American Depression - and that was the generation that lived through it.  Do you think they had that same sense of entitlement though?  I doubt it.  The 20teens promises to be the decade of the rude awakening. 

Please, please, please let me be wrong.

Of course - if you want to look at more historical parallels - keep in mind that Hoover also resided over the period of Prohibition.  That era was brought about by religious groups exercising political power 'for the good of the people.'  We can all read about the Gangs of Chicago to see all the Good that came of it.  And while I'm playing the role of Oracle I'm going to go so far to say that the next 'roaring twenties' will metaphorically resemble the Shrieking Eels.  Oh boy are people going to Freak Out...


20080616.1104 Outsourcing Innovation

It started simply.  We sent the grunt-work of software development off-shore to save money.  The premise was that if a junior programmer is good enough to do the job on-shore then we can save 80% of their salary and have the same work done off-shore.

And unfortunately that actually worked.  But it worked for all the wrong reasons.  It worked because IT is seen as a resource instead of a strategic partner in the eyes of business management today.  Business doesn't want senior developers and architects who will second-guess them and seemingly add 'unnecessary' delays and additional costs for things like modeling, up-front planning and regression testing. 

But in the hurry to put the squeeze on senior IT staff salaries one very important thing has been left on the table: Intellectual Property.  What we used to call "Innovation".  By downplaying the importance of IT related R&D and by moving not only the "grunt work" but also the design and architectural components off-shore we have given away the formula to the secret sauce.

Now the largest out-sourcing company in the world is filing over 100 patents for new technology ideas.  This is not an R&D firm.  This is a firm that rents it's people out to companies the world over.  In my humble opinion this reeks of industrial espionage & should command a complete rethinking of the way that out-sourcing is done as a practice industry-wide.

Why exactly are we teaching the rest of the world all of our trade secrets?  How long have all of these emerging nations (where the work is being farmed out to) observed international conventions concerning Intellectual Property?  How much of that is Lip Service to get us to the bargaining table?  How willing are we to sign away IP rights in order to save a couple of bucks in the short term?

20080610.1434 Our Good Friends, The Communists

When I came across these pictures today I just couldn't resist doing some kind of mash-up-style-bloggery...

Something about the juxtaposition of extreme politics with children's toys just made me think about our good friends that manufacture almost everything we buy at Wal-Mart - America's Fortune #1 company.

"Why are toys made in China?" A question asked by a child, but not a childish question.

 20080604.1710 iPhone Goodies

First the Big News: Sipgate offers VoIP for Jailbroken iPhones.

And then something very useful: the VLC media player for Jailbroken iPhones.

And then the chaser story, my favorite Bluetooth headset, the Jawbone goes 2.0.

I imagine this will be the last of the pleasant surprises for iPhone 1.0 owners. The new unit is due to drop soon and if Apple is going to continue as they always have - it's only a matter of time until we "fall off the supported platform" once the newer units are shipping.

I'm anxious to see how the units becoming obsolete will coincide with the 2 year AT&T contract expiring. If you're an early adopter chasing the upgrade dragon, will you end up leapfrogging an entire generation of phones if you get one when you re-up your contract?

In case you don't know - there's no such thing as being an AT&T customer without a contract. Even Pay to Go Phones have a contract of a sort. I look forward to getting out from under a contract but not to the hearty shafting I will receive when I have to renegotiate prices. No doubt things like using VoIP will cause them to change the rules about 'unlimited data plans'.

20080602.1350 Nerd Chic

Tech only goes in & out of style for some people. I think they call them humans. I wouldn't really know much about that from first hand experience though as I am actually one of the Others. Embracing your Technolust is something that most people only come close to when they buy a new Gadget, TV or Car. We Who Know usually live a life filled with it and only briefly come up for air to sample the day to day experiences of the species we have mutated from.

Technology is a fascination unto itself and often manifests in the most delightfully random ways as humanity tries to claw its way up the evolutionary ladder on its own power.

Today's random find in this category leads me to encourage you to experience some music:

OK That was SFW -- the following is NOT. But for the first time ever I'm putting a NSFW link in this column on the theory that an English accent softens the impact of extremely harsh language somewhat. All that being said - here's the Zero Punctuation Review(NSFW) of the Video Game The World Ends With You(SFW).

[I'm going to try using a policy of tagging ALL the links whenever I used one to draw attention to the difference. I guess in the future I'll only bother if I used any.]<shrug/>


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