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...

20070614.1209 Google </3 Safari 3b

Nope, I'm not feeling the love...  Not when I try to run Google Page Creator on Safari 3b for Windows & I get the following:

Sorry, your web browser is not yet supported.

Our programming wizards tried their darndest to get Google Page Creator to work with as many browsers as possible. But alas, even the most expert practitioners of web sorcery must sleep now and again, lest their JavaScript magic run dry.

So, for now, you'll need either to download a new version of Firefox or download a new version of Internet Explorer (Windows only), and then come right back.

How do they manage to be so cute & yet so frustrating....

20070614.1016 Script Kiddies all grown up

It's the nature of things that the new generation grows up, looks at the weird ways that the older generation does things, and promptly takes a piss on it.  Believe me, I was guilty of this too.  Then you get a little older & realize that yes, there were reasons why it was done that way & maybe we should have learned a few lessons from them before we burned down everything they had built.

Rewriting everything makes you feel really really important.  Realizing how badly you screwed up everything by doing so is a mark of maturity, but it's one expensive lesson that everyone else has to pay for.

So this morning I was on & I'm reading about JRuby... and I read this:

"Scripts are gaining in popularity with developers because they are easy to write, take less time to write than compiled programs, and require little maintenance."

Scripts are easy, and you don't maintain them, you just build them & throw them away when they break ... just like Japanese cars.

What's interesting is that when Perl was in vogue - people threw stones at it for being a Scripting Language.

Now that there's PHP and a gaggle of other scripting languages, and people are doing LAMP-based Web development for 1/2 or less the cost of formal software development, the major players like Sun & Oracle are trying to come to terms with them.  This is not because it's a good idea - it's a form of pacification.

The same children who used exploit-scripts (written by real programmers) to 'hack' into computers - have grown up but have not changed their ways.  They will still rely on the work of real programmers but instantly forget their contribution in the wake of making themselves feel important.

So if I'm describing you - then keep in mind that coding scripts is much like assembly line work.  You will find plenty of work immediately, but it won't take long to replace you with something even easier/cheaper.

Innovation is what makes technology worth anything.  Quit fooling with RoR and trying to write a new blog engine and go invent something new.

20070613.0841 Paradigm Shift

Are you kidding?  I love to say "I told you so"...

It was brought to my attention that Multi-touch is now the basis of a new Microsoft Product.  To be honest, it's the first time ever that anything from that company has me excited.  Let's face it - they've never been first with anything.  Their name is build on being last in everything.  That is to say, they let other people make mistakes first and then they run with the refined idea and flood the market.

This is something else entirely.  $5,000-$10,000 each??  That's distinctly not their style.  This is new, but important. 

Just as I've been raving about the work of Jeff Han, his newly formed company, and the iPhone - this is direct application of an interface technology that's going to change everything...

20070612.1545 Oh Bother...

Yesterday I was reminded of a shopping experience that I had last December. I bought a Coach Handbag for my wife. Then I needed to wrap it or something. So, being the modern/lazy man that I am I got a gift-bag. Then I put them in my backpack to bring them home.

NOTE: The hand-bag came in a protective cloth bag that was then put into a shopping bag by the clerk.

I got home to discover that I had a bag with a bag with a bag in it, and a bag in a bag in a bag in it also! So then I had to take the bag out of the bag and the bag in a bag in a bag out of it - so that I could put the bag in a bag into the GIFT bag.

I was reminded of it yesterday because the clerk tried to put a gift bag - with perfectly good handles - into a crappy plastic-film bag designed for single use. This was part of the above equation also.

It's all about how you spin the value of that bag isn't it?

So talking about spin - the effects of The Steve's Reality Distortion Field (TM) are waning & people are ripping Safari to pieces. I personally found a major problem interacting with proxy servers - and by major I mean the application crashes. If I try to configure it in the preferences it's all greyed out. Seems like someone didn't finish their homework..

OTOH - Google's not taking the impending Apple product intro lying down.  They're working on an SSH client for iPhone.  Now we're talking! 

20070611.1643 New Fruit

If you go to Clusty & punch in "The Steve" the very first response you get is Steve Jobs' biography. I had an occasion to meet the man in 1983 - when my father got a prototype Mac on the developer's program a year before they were released. I was very young and I could see nothing but his arrogance in his demeanor. "This is a man you can't trust." sang all of my instincts. I don't know what that's worth now - but it's a true story.

Today The Steve made one of his infamous Keynotes, and has been greeted mostly by yawns. Mac OS/X Leopard was revealed. The reviews are already asking where are the Killer features?

Now keep in mind - as you might have noticed from the above - I've been working with Apple computer products for as long as there have been them. I do not wear the logo on my chest like superman anymore. Not for a looooong time now. Apple screws up a lot and they screw people a lot. But they still approach technology in an alternate & some might say better way and that much at least I still appreciate.

So let's hit these one by one with a little commentary:

  • Boot Camp built in - they should have just OEM'ed Parallels. I'm not rebooting my machine to run Windows. It runs in it's own window side-by-side with OS/X or it's useless.
  • Spaces / Virtual Desktops - this is a UNIX thing that's been around (I'm thinking back to IRIX) for 15 years. Nice of them to add it. I think there's been a haxxie out there that's done that for a while now too.
  • New Dashboard - I hope it's good because I don't use the existing dashboard - EVER.
  • Make Widgets out of Web Pages - this is a good idea. I've seen lots of web sites doing this for a couple of years, but it's a worthy feature.
  • Refresh of iChat - they added a lot of integration with their applications. This is a nod to AIM Pro which I've mentioned before. The problem with both is that you have to have the same software on both ends or nothing works except the IM part.
  • Time Machine - Apple's rendition of Sun's ZFS Snapshot feature. Nice, assuming you only have the 12 average songs downloaded from iTunes and a couple of term papers to back up. Source code, garageband files, or video clips are going to bonk your storage budget hard.
  • "Leopard shipping in October. Basic version, $129. Premium version, $129. Business version, $129, Enterprise version $129. Ultimate version, $129." - Which is a great way of bashing Vista... except that apparently OS/X server is still a lot more than $129...
  • Safari 3 - For windows! - I hope you don't have a proxy server or it will constantly crash on you. I managed to break it >12 times so far & I've had it installed for 1/2 hour. Beta is right. I particularly like that the crash report gets filed with Microsoft. I wonder if Apple's trying to launch a DoS attack on Microsoft... :-)
  • iPhone - closed, closed, closed.
    "Have been trying to come up with a solution to letting developers write Apps for the iPhone and keep it secure. We've come up with a very sweet solution ... you can write amazing Web 2.0 apps that work exactly like apps on the iPhone integrate w/ iphone services ... can make calls, send e-mails, google maps, etc. instant distribution, easy to update, secure same as amazon or bank .... run safely on iphone with no SDK needed"
    In other words - NO THIRD PARTY APPS ON iPhone. You can just forget about Skype. If you are running someone else's app you need internet connectivity at all times, period.

So since Apple wasn't "all that" - here's something else that's Insanely Great to hold you over for a while...

20070608.0916 Quoth the Cluefull.. "Think!"

"The well-meaning contention that all ideas have equal merit seems to me little different from the disastrous contention that no ideas have any merit." – Carl Sagan

"All opinions are not equal. Some are a very great more robust, sophisticated and well supported in logic and argument than others." - Douglas Adams

"We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them" - Albert Einstein

"The scientists of today think deeply instead of clearly. One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane." - Nikola Tesla

"The fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown. " - Carl Sagan

These just seemed to go together...

20070604.1514 The Values of Cable TV

Over the weekend I finally got around to watching a few of the Epic Films I managed to miss. I almost wish I hadn't bothered.

I say 'almost' because it's wrong to be close-minded to culture, even if you mostly regard it as crap... The four & a half hours of my life that I'd like back was taken up by two movies that shared the same inherent flaws: Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe and V for Vendetta. (It took me a long time to get around to them & now I know that I should have kept on trusting my instincts.)

Some similar problems are obvious: flights of fantasy unsupportable by any reasonable framework other than that they look pretty, wreckless abandon on the part of the editors with regard to the time honored source material, and in both cases hordes of cardboard cutout characters - with only one character experiencing any kind of change at all, and that one is forced on them.

I could go on & on. I could mention that they both glorify violence without realistically nor accurately portraying it too - but that's just nitpicking isn't it?

The Big Problem that they both shared and IMHO died from - was Values. Forced values. Other people's values being forced down your throat for two hours and being called entertainment.

You can't get more diverse in the messages. One was about saving Christmas and the other about Rebellion against Totalitarianism. That's not what I'm driving at. What bothered me was getting beaten over the head with the moral of the story when I'm just trying to enjoy the story.

This happened with Apocalypse Now Redux. Here is a film that was perfect as it was, but the Director's Cut leaves in a scene at the plantation where the moral of the story is rubbed in your face for 20 minutes - just in case you missed it.

Both sides of any story are increasingly rare to find together. We're no longer encouraged to make up our own minds about anything because the truth is self-evident. Self-Evident Truth is out of fashion. Today we tell you what to believe, think, buy, say and do... and apparently watch. I could have put something else on. I didn't. Maybe next time I will.


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