Glass Smashing

One more good reason to abandon MegaHard and make the switch to another OS:

“If you’re running Windows 7 beta, you probably know that when you first load operating system it asks if you want to upgrade an existing Windows installation or do a fresh install. But as Business Week’s Stephen Wildstrom points out, that upgrade feature only works for Windows Vista users. If you want to upgrade from Windows XP you’re out of luck.”  [Link]

(emphasis added.)

Is this some Lucasesque “Revenge of the MegaHard”? With all the nasty associations that seem to resonate with that comparison?

I am not saying upgrading is enjoyable. When I upgraded from 8.04 to 8.10 on this box, the GUI got catastrophically trashed to the point that I spent a couple of weeks on command line backing up as many files as I could to a USB brick and then reinstalling 8.04 from scratch. And I spent those two weeks getting my normal efforts sorta-maybe done on an XP box that is my usually cobwebbed alternative that I keep to run stuff like MAPLE and SCIENTIFIC WORD and the few clients I just can’t live without but as soon as I learn WINE goodly enough, BAM! new OS on that box and it won’t have a fake holographic decal.

But I have since tracked down the problem and it was a glitch during the too facere impetum LONG download of the new OS. Now usually I am Dr. Caution and download an ISO, burn it to CD and then upgrade, and doing so has been relatively frictionless. That’s what I did after the reinstall of 8.04 and the only disturbance in the ether waves was a mild disagreement that my NORTHGATE Omnikey 101 keyboard (real mechanical keys that make click noises on their own and not the tacky clack noise of plastic striking plastic of the modern ones) had been dropped from Saint Peter’s roster of saved keyboard souls but would be honored anyway as a grandfather. Does this mean that my keyboard is a Zoroastrian or a NeoPlatonist?

And it did take me the better part of six months to get Super 8.10 on my HP Mini 2133 waiting on real Ubuntu nerds to figure out the complexities of making the vdisplay and the wireless transciever play nice, which was entirely due to HP offering a Linux version of the box except that the Linux offered was SUSE that bears the same resemblance to an OS that hamburger bears to cow. Or in deference to my cardiologist who only lets me consume formerly cow once a month, that tofu bears to soy plant. That one is a bit more accurate since tofu tends to give me all manner of gastrointestinal gas that runs throughout the system “from the nave to the chaps”.

So while I do have to admit that Windows is marginally more usable than SUSE, it is definitely less usable than most other forms of Linux and so far as I can observe, the MAC OS. I say observe because I haven’t touched a MAC since the general officer who trhust one into my hands departed and I could get rid of the thing. Not that it wasn’t well made and usable, just not to me. I remain firmly convinced to this day that there are people who are take naturally, implicitly as it were, to a MAC, and ditto to a PC, jusy not the same people. Or at least I haven’t seen anyone who convinced me they were bicomputational.

Not that PC means either politically correct or MegaHard OS box. It means open architecture versus closed architecture (MAC) even though that latter architecture is pretty well eroded down to a nub these days. Still I acknowledge that there are people who do MAC naturally and well, and there are people who do not-MAC naturally and well. And I consider neither to be pathological, criminal (regardless of their given name), nor asocial.

But Windows is another matter. If is pathological, criminal, and asocial. Autarkic, in fact. And that is why I am getting closer to walking away from it. At least as far as I can get so long as FD SCP still uses sewing clients written only for Windows.

Next project: Virtual Machine. If I have to have the blob that tried to eat Steve McQueent, I want a refrigerator to keep it in.

And if you are really wondering why the tirade, it’s because I spent ten hours yesterday working on FD CSP’s new HP box with XP on it trying to get close to where I can do a swap out for her W2K box that is terminal. I got about half way done with the prep work, which would have taken we about two hours if I were installing Ubuntu.

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Celestial Insight

While we are on the subject of blowing things up, I note that the theory that a meteorite did in the mammoths is being depreciated. [Link] Seems that researchers at Lawrence Berkley Labs and U London had the dea that if these hirsute pacyderms were done in by a celestial kinetic event then there would have been widespread fires. Overall, a fairly standard direction and one that seems to provide a ‘gotcha” for the “hammer of deity” theory.

No layer of burnt debris.

So we go back to the theory that humans did in the big guys. One more straw on our morality shoulders. And in light of the previous blot, some insight. Pangs of morality are luxuries to be savored after survival has been achieved. When survival is threatened, morality is not necessarily a relevant nor viable concept.

Remember that when protesting the tyranny of others. Until such time as survival is actually threatened, as opposed to constrained or reduced, morality remains a central concern. Those who lightly abandon it become little more than than dispossessed versions of the tyrants opposed.

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Explosive Politics

Today is the anniversary of the execution day of Guy Fawkes. [Link] Fawkes was executed for being part of a plot to protest the British government’s pro-protestant, anti-catholic policy. The protest took the form of a gunpowder bomb aimed at the British legislatue and chief executive.

As such, this activity represents one of those period when the British come to their senses and attempt to rid themselves of of the tyranny of monarchs, a theory critically flawed by the idea that excellence (and incompetence) in governance is genetic.

Now I am not advocating that anyone celebrate the day by planting explosive devices in government premises, largely since one of the lessons of this British “Gunpowder Plot” and similar episodes closer to home is that such efforts fundamentally are meshugah, and more importantly, ineffective almost totally. Attempting this is thus doubly a waste in that not only do they not have anything close to the desired effect of changing behavior of tyrants, but they are nasty bits of effort that corrupt and cripple those who perpetrate them.

So while we should celebrate Guy Fawkes’ sacrifice for the right of humans to do as they would, we should also observe that such freedom does not extend to curtailing that right for others.

Besides, being ineffectual is just asentient consumerism.

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Funny? Or just Strange?

Friday is traditionally punday, at least in the office environment that I used to work. And yes, Qadgop, those in the service of the Yankee republic did indeed exert force over distance. I don’t believe this had much of anything to do with Spider Robinson or Callahan’s, at least in part because most of the folks who work for the Yankee republic have not the perspective to appreciate science fiction. Although again, the scope of the folks who participated in the informal social ritual were rather varied, from clerks and interns through members of the Senior Executive Service. No General Officers, but then that just tends to confirm their myth of granite jaws as well as mentation.

But I was reminded of such by the conjunction of several articles this morning. First is a fan fare on a sixty year light bulb that costs ~ $3 to manufacture. [Link] This is all rather too close to those old stories about gas additives and carborator gagets that result in one never needing gasoline again. So pray forgive me if I am not golding my breath. But what I am confident in is someone finding a truly wonderful way into making this product cost a great deal more and last a great deal shorter time, if it does exist. Physics and humans, a combination far beyond the capacity of football coaches to comprehend.

Next, the Washington Times [Link] informs me that criminal inclination is largely a matter of given name. It seems the more out of the ordinary – in some poorly explained and therefore I suspect, poorly defined, sense – a given name is, the more likely that person is to engage in criminal activity. If this is the case, and it does seem rather specious, one may imagine mothers rushing to caucus to deciede on the name they will all bestow on their children. Should also make things rather difficult for shul teahcers and drill instructors. Of course we might take a leaf from the book of the British Army who commonly used one’s service number as an identified, especially when names were less irregular than they are now?

On a similar vein, I note that the government of Champaign, Illinois – the municipality closest to one of my Alma Materi, the campus of the Boneyard – has issued an edict that snow must be removed from sidewalks by property owners. Huh? I thought the sidewalks were there because the city exercised a lein on the property they are own and thus in effect, insofar as control is concerned, the city owns that property inasmuch as they have domian over it? Is this some sort of government shell game? You not only take property away from citizens without recompense, but you charge them for the privilege? Or is this just a town-gown animosity thing?

Next, I note in the Wall Street Journal [Link] that locales that just instituted a positive identification validation component to voting exhibit an increase in such. This sounds like a light bulb story. First, the recent presidential election was the heaviest in a decade or more, largely due to the polarization of the electorate. So that is a factor that tends to overwhelm the measurement. Next, the explaination offered is that people are more eager to vote in an environment of decreased fraud. Again, this sounds like a light bulb story. What seems more likely is that people figured the Yankee government is now keeping track of who votes and doesn’t and may send the latter off to some unnamed successor to Guantanamo Bay.

And lastly, reserachers at Florida Internation U claim to have developed a monoelemental chemical compound, boron boride, which sounds suspiciously like something the Irish would name one of their kings. [Link] The compound exists stabily (?) at over a kiloatmosphere of pressure and a kilodegree of temperature. I haven’t trakced down the original article yet but as odoriferous as this one is, it still seems the least such of the list.

Nor Package Nor Parcel

By now those who give attention span to national news have heard of the Yankee postal service whining about further compromise of their jobs. I heard it last evening on the  electromagnetic acousto-optical image receiver as part of the national news program. And no, I cannot tell you which one because I don’t pay much attention to the hetwork. It’s whichever one is on immediately after the local news program.

I know not what other use as their criteria for selecting such a program but ours is a bit of a mixed state. My solitary criterion for the selection is the value of information presented on weather in my location. I am not very concerned with what the weather is in Huntsville – Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill, or Birmingham – Central Alibam’s Sulfide Sublimeness, or even Dawg’s Hind Leg – Alibam foremost bastion of real, actual, democracy, except as they will eminently impact me. I recognize this is a rather selfish outlook but it is mitigated by a secondary expectation that uniformity of presentation will be provided. In consumer speak, everyone’s ice cream cone gets licked.

I really care less about the petty happenings in the area that pass the lips of the Potempkinisn news readers, a travesty of news whose primary value is the humor insitilled in its mangling, nor do I really care what meaningless competitions have been engaged in by the varios sports apparats in the area although the cheerleader huff puff style of the sports readers is less annoying than the smiling voice of doom Mosaic style of their colleagues.

But it is very distressing when the weather beavers pronounce that the nights heat conditions will be conducive to a phase change of dihydrogen oxide and then fail to provide me with localized temperature predictions so I can estimate whether prophalctic measures are indicated. This is also a source of stress to FD SCP since such measures involve the dripping of faucets and she finds such activities discomfiting. Such situations would be avoided if one could find local craftspeople who could properly weatherproof hourses for heat or cold. But then such shoddy construction techniques have long been  Southron tradition.

The postal service is more of a Nawthran tradition, perhaps the oldest of the Yankee government, owing no small part of its providence to the senior of the founding fathers. And it is no surprise to students of modern organizational practice to recognize that it is very likely rather badly whacked. At the root of that whackedness is, as one should expect, the Yankee congress. Basically the woes and ills of the postal service have their well spring in the unfunded mandates of that august legislature. And since the congress is quite unable to manage itself with any effectivenesss, much less efficiency, we may not expect any rectification of these ills in the postal service.

One of the basic contradictions of the postal service is that by dictate of the congress they are the only ones who may convey letters. They also may convey packages but they have plenty of competition for this and that competition is part of the weeping sores that are the postal service. There are good social reasons for the postal service to carry letters and be solitary in that task, but there is little reason why they should carry packages. Back when such was the only vector other than express companies the service made some sense but with the rise of the great commercial package delivery houses, the service has become redundant and wasteful.

So perhaps the postal service should drop its package service and limit itself to letters, and periodicals? This would permit it to unify its activiteis and its infrastructure and while there would be a period of turbulence during the transition this would place the postal service on a sound financial foundation.

And maybe get the mail delviered on time and accurately?

Subjective Meanings

You have to really appreciate the contribution the PEW folks make to modern society. One of their latest surveys is a test of “common knowledge”. [Link] The survey is a set of ten questions. And the questions are on the subject of current events, heavy on national politics.

No history, no maths. That may be the bad side.

No celebrities, unless politicians count as celebrities, which may certainly be the case if a necessary and sufficient condition for being a celebrity is being a near worthless, malignant parasite. That may be the good side.

Before discussing the questions. A look at the statistics of the results. Among the sample population:

  • men got about 0.2 more questions “correct” than women;
  • college graduates (regardless of degree) did 0.6 better than high shul grads and dropouts;
  • people under the age of 30 did poorly;
  • registered voters knew about 0.6 more than not-registered-voters;
  • democrats were marginally less knowledgeable than republicans and independents; and
  • the mean was answering about seven of the ten questions correctly.

So from this we may conclude that male college graduate who are over thirty and not democrats but are registered voters are smarter (more knowledgeable?) than everyone else?

I took the test. Got 8 of 10 questions officially “correct”. Then I went and looked at the questions. Seven of the ten were well posed in that the answers, while multiple choice, were objective. Examples are: “x is closest in value to” (numeric) or “y is a member of which set” (binning). But three of the seven questions were subjective. Example is “z is good, bad, indifferent”. So given there are four answers to each question and three subjective question, probability gives that you have a reasonably good liklihood of answering one of the three questions correctly and two incorrectly. So I can chalk up my grade to random chance with a pretty good confidence. More, actually, than in the local television weather beavers who tell me it is going to rain today.

And aside from some other whacks, such as well documented trends like women, statistically at least, paying less attention to politics than men, and young people paying less and different attention to news than older folks, the problem I have is the claim that this is common knowledge. Given the grades it clearly is not common knowledge, although that is a bit of a conundrum. If it were common knowledge, then everyone not pathologically disengaged would know it, so if the grades aren’t close to nine of ten, the test is whacked.

But more germanely, it is not at all obvious to me any more in our information balkanized nation that such a test is meaningful because it is not at all obvious that very much is common any more. It might be argued that certain warning signs, money, and acts like dialing a telephone are common. But attention to the news? Maybe. Agreement on which news content to listen to? No. And that’s the rub.

Habilis Speaks

Another rant about television advertisements for internet services.

Put in the form of a Zeno statement:

“The turtle is three times as slow as the rabbit.”

Say what? Slowness? Whazzat?

Is this another stupid on the order of “the speed of dark”? It certainly seems as such.

Suppose the rabbit sits still. How can the turtle be three times as slow as not moving?

Or is this preying on the inability of Joe Consumer/Citizen to comprehend basic maths? Like speed limits and making change?

Happily I refrained from hurling anything – partially digested stomach contents, book of the moment, small anvil, crockery – at the television screen. Probably was able to restrain myself only because the Yankee congress has delayed the transition to digital television because something less than 0.01 of the population has not implemented their conversion. And what is the fraction of people in the Yankee republic who don’t even have television? More than0.02! So how do they know? Someone please go round up the usual bunch of conspiracy theorists for an exercise period.

Also aversion to the high prices on HDTV instruments. What is it that I can buy a 23″ LCD monitor for $250 and a PC for a bit more but an HDTV 23″ in size costs about 2.5 times the total? Something smells and it is the wrong season for Lutefisk.

And correct me if I am wrong but the programming transmitted will be the same old stercus? Inept but occasionally humorous local news readers, exhibitionist talk show hosts, parasitic celebrities. And the old movies won’t look right?

This is improvement?