Tag Archives: technology

Who Is Hosing Me?

I hope y’all enjoyed the kid-friendly headline. It wasn’t my first choice. -Ed.

I’m looking at one of the 42,000 spinning animations that constitute the soundtrack of my life. In this particular instance it belongs to the Netflix app on my iPad. But really it could be any of them.

One question: Who is responsible for this outage outrage?

Yes, we have the technology to sell technology whether it is ready for prime time or not.

When I was a kid “sit and spin” was consider an insult. Now it’s a phrase that singularly defines an entire generation of tech-hungry consumers.

Who decided this shit was ready? Because I have a serious bone to pick with them.

The technology cycle works like this: Invent. Sell. Count your piles of gold. Then, and only then, stick your head up, look around and see how it works. (Just ask Apple about iOS 8.)

This thing, right here, right now, is not working. Since it takes about 42 pieces of tech just to make this go, how should I proceed? Is there a way for an average schmo like me to logically isolate the culprit? Is there anyone I can call who won’t say, “Nope. It’s not us,” and point the finger at one of the other 41 links in the chain, including me?

I think not.

Is it my ISP? The cable assholes of Satan? Is it the router? The modem? Any points of relay on the internet between me and them? Is it a problem in my iPad? Is it Netflix itself? Is it the Amazon Cloud where Netflix wisely decided to put their egg in a basket? Is it a fucking solar flare?

All I know is that I paid a lot of money for this shit and that money is long gone. And there’s no tech fairy who will make it right.

What a helpless feeling. It’s enough to make my head spin.

This post was written on an iPad using only one finger. Sheer torture.

Blog notes: I have a voice!

It’s time to write a blog post. What to do? What to do?

Unless there’s a burning issue sitting happily on my frontal lobe, step one is usually checking my “blog notes” and finding some scrap of an idea. But wait! It’s not as easy as it sounds.

For one thing, my notes are scattered to the wind across a wide variety of locations. In the physical world this includes sticky notes littered around my desk like dying leaves on an autumn lawn. There’s also two pocket notebooks filled with pages and pages of tiny scrawl. Most of it is not decipherable, even to me, the hand that did the scrawling. And they’ve both been through the laundry so the ink is fuzzy and faint.

In the electronic world I’ve cleverly tried to consolidate my little notes to self. There’s the “Notes” app in my iPad. There’s another app called “Werdsmith” I also use from time to time. And, in an app called “Evernote” there’s probably my biggest library of random thoughts. This one has the advantage of being shared with my computer, too. Lastly there’s a plain text file in the home directory of my computer that I maintain with a command line text editor.

Here’s a sample of what can be found in my notes. I’ve culled these from the herd for your edification of the writer’s process.

Artichoke or Boss?
Tags: smell, rat

As is often the case, my notes are generally useless when I revisit them later. They may seem obvious at the time but usually I don’t breadcrumb enough to lead my brain back to the scene of the crime and grok the point, if there even was one.
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Apple to change iPhone naming scheme

iphoneYou might think that Apple is about to announce the iPhone 6 but they have one more surprise up their sleeve before the big day finally gets here. In a move that will stun the uncivilized world (societies with iPhones) they’ll abandon the practice of naming each iteration of iPhones in boring numerical sequence.

Instead, in clever fashion, they’ll use words that sound similar to the numerical scheme we’re all expecting.

Yes, tomorrow they’ll be introducing the iPhone Sex. Siri gets a major and surprising upgrade in this one. Nuff said, I hope.

This will be followed in later years, of course, by the iPhone Heaven. This will be the one time in the history of iPhones that they won’t actually change anything. They’ll just release a new version that’s exactly the same to satisfy the cravings of early adopters.

The iPhone Mate will feature an enhanced personality matrix so you’ll no longer need to bother with the formality of legitimate marriage within the confines of the real world.

The iPhone Spine will usher in a new era of cyborgality with an interface that will make Google Glass look like quaint child’s play. Remember the good old days when technology remained outside of your body?

And, finally, iPhone Hen will exponentially build upon marital aspects originally introduced in iPhone Mate with hyper-realistic calendar reminders and much, much, much, much more. This will also be the first iPhone to incorporate state-of-the-art hammer-resistant technology.

The future for iPhones looks bright but who’s counting?

Magic: The Blathering

magic-battle

I say this! Well I say that! Don’t cross the streams!

You’ll have to excuse the faltering nature of this post: My Facebook status is currently “Low on Mana.”

You know I like to think the Big Thoughts (har) and these mental excitations decidedly do not lead to good vibrations. In fact, more often than not, they lead to impasse.

Most people, I hear tell, have an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other. Not me. I have a miniaturized and hovering Gandalf the Grey and he continually yells, “You shall not impasse!” For some reason, though, that’s not all that helpful.

What sort of big thoughts, you ask, oh helpful reader? Just wee trifling matters. Is climate change real and impacted by human behavior? Do vaccines kill my kids? Should girls be allowed to show a little shoulder in their high school yearbook photos? Will a little non-disclosed GMO kill me? Is it acceptable to harvest organs from poor people? Would raising minimum wage help or hurt the economy? Will we as a society literally swallow petroleum until it kills us? Does being armed to the teeth make society safer or more dangerous? Should politicians and people advertising products have to tell the truth? Does Earth orbit the sun or does the entire universe orbit the Earth? Does trickle-down economics represent the overall best solution for everyone? Why does Hulu Plus have commercials if there’s a monthly fee? Why does a good portion of the people on this planet feel it is acceptable for a 50-year-old man to marry a 12-year-old girl? Does Obamacare make our nation stronger or weaker?

It should be obvious my wee little brain is incapable of grappling with weighty issues like these (and many, many more). What to do? What to do?
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Top 10 List: Nerd Rage

karate-kyleNerd Rage is not an exact science. There are no right or wrong answers. All approaches have their validity and pros and cons.

The following list is offered as a general guide only. It is not intended to be a road map. Your mileage may vary. The important thing is to be creative and make it your own. Play with it. Get crazy. Do things in a slightly different order.

Much like there are five generally accepted steps in the grieving process, this list attempts to make sense of nerd rage. I think I wrote it after spending eight hours trying to get music from iTunes to sync with my iPad. You know, that thing at which Apple is rumored to excel.

Nerd Rage List
in order of escalation

  1. Shrug and blame it on the cloud. Optimistically try to work the problem.
  2. Feel irritated.
  3. Feel more irritation.
  4. Say out loud (or tweet): “WTH”
  5. Say out loud (or tweet): “WTF”
  6. Yell, “G*ddammit!”
  7. Symbolically pound something causing no real damage.
  8. Throw something breakable and smash it to bits.
  9. Drive angry.
  10. Repeatedly shoot a gun in the air.
  11. Head asplode. (Bonus step.)

I’ll close with an ancient guru curse: May you always have plenty of technology.

What causes your nerd rage?

Spring Niggles

Hi! I'm The Niggle. I solve crimes by eating your brains. Artist rendition.

Hi! I’m The Niggle. I solve crimes by eating your brains slowly over an agonizing period of time. Artist rendition.

I am The Niggle
And I’m here to say
I bore in your skull
Every hour of the day

You wanna live your life?
You wanna get away?
I’m gonna stalk you down
I’m gonna make you pay

I’m a patient guy
I got plenty o’ time
No matter how long it takes
I’m gonna own your mind

Introducing my good buddy The Niggle. He’s an ornery rambunctious sort. Invisible and sneaky, at any given moment in time there are literally thousands of him latched on tight, gnawing at our skulls, always desperately trying to get in. Fun stuff, huh?

The Niggle is the price we pay for this modern life. He hangs on dearly when we look around and ask, “What gives? Is this all there is?”

He’s the background highway noise that permeates our fancy homes. A little drill bit of omnipresent noise that pushes us one step closer to the edge. Our brains may have long since given up and deemed those roads sounds as mere “white noise,” but even if we’re no longer conscious of it, it’s always there, chipping away. Chip, chip, chip.

The dictionary describes a niggle as something that causes “slight but persistent annoyance, discomfort, or anxiety.” But, to me, he’s a modern day superhero of goodness and fun.

What other forms does this little devil take? Read on. He might even be working through this very blog post.
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Hit and Run: The Solution

solutionYesterday, while feeling angry after watching the news, I spewed some aggression in the form of a blog post about the heinous problem of hit-and-run drivers.

Today, I’m back for more of the same, but this time without the aggression. This time I have the solution.

Google and the like may be feverishly pouring millions (billions?) into pie-in-the-sky dreams about cars that can drive themselves. Ostensibly this will solve the hit-and-run problem once and for all. I hope they spare a few subroutines for things like hit-and-run morality. (With embedded advertising, of course.) Perhaps a Fourth Law of Robotics? “This robot will not allow asshole human beings to override operation after an accident in an attempt to break the law. Check out the hot deals on polar fleece at Old Navy.”

One can dream.

Meanwhile, we need a solution in the here and now. We can’t afford to wait.

What I propose is simple: A federal law that mandates installation of an Accident Reporting Device (ARD) in all vehicles. This device will, when an accident is detected, immediately communicate, via satellite, the following information to a national law enforcement database:

  • Unique vehicle ID
  • Date/time
  • GPS coordinates
  • Collected accident data (location on vehicle, type of impact, force of impact, etc.)

The law will be written in such a way that operating a motor vehicle with an ARD that has been tampered with or disabled in any way will be a serious crime. This will be treated in similar fashion to refusal to submit to a sobriety test.

When vehicles are stopped by law enforcement they shall have the authority to conduct an inspection of the ARD to ensure compliance. This is similar to the authority to ask for proof of insurance.

Costs of the ARD program will be passed on to consumers.

Vehicles will be required to pass ARD compliance testing every 24 months before vehicle registration is issued.

Any ARD compliance violation will result in suspension of driving privileges for one year (or more for each subsequent violation).

The purpose of the program is to give law enforcement a simple yet powerful tool to fight crimes like hit-and-run. In the event of an accident involving hit-and-run, the database can be checked to easily determine which vehicles were involved. The database may have other uses, like identifying vehicles involved in large incidents, etc.

Some might raise objections to a program like this on privacy grounds or that it creates more bureaucracy. Both are legitimate concerns.

Regarding privacy, the program is mostly non-invasive in that it only “pings” during an event and the law should be written with privacy in mind. (For example, the database can only be queried, by law enforcement, when certain criteria is met.) Further, since the ARD only reports during an accident, privacy concerns are minimal. The ARDs shall be designed and constructed in such a way “on-demand” or continuous tracking is impossible.

As with all bureaucracy, the question becomes one of cost (both money and rights) vs. public benefit. I would argue that a program like this is minimal in cost while providing almost incalculable benefit. The cost of doing nothing is to continue to allow those responsible for death, serious injury and property damage to have an opportunity to escape unchecked. Approximately ten percent of all vehicle accidents in the United States currently involve hit-and-run. Some of them are never solved.

It’s just that simple. Problem solved. You’re welcome.

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