Archive for May, 2008

On Kennedy…

Saturday, May 17th, 2008

I’ll make this quick:

Will you TV commentators please stop referring to Ted Kennedy in the past tense?

Thank you.

Obama’s Mirror

Saturday, May 17th, 2008

I keep hearing about Obama’s outrage over President Bush’s “divisive” remarks regarding people who want to appease terrorists. Bush compared the modern day appeasers to the people in the 1930s who wanted to talk to Hitler rather than actively opposing him, and was speaking in the context of modern-day Israel. Barack Obama is outraged that Bush would say such a thing about him, because, he is not trying to appease terrorists. He has also stated that John McCain is a “hypocrite” for defending Bush.

The notable thing to me in all this is that Bush made no reference to Obama.

Imagine you’re among a group of people, and you make a derisive comment about “idiots” (for example). Somebody in the group suddenly acts all offended and insists that they are not an idiot. You weren’t talking about that person — there are certainly enough idiots in the world that you can make such a statement without referring to present company. What does that person’s outrage say about you? More importantly, what does that person’s outrage say about what they think about themselves?

I think there is an argument to be made regarding Obama’s previous statements about going into the middle east and talking with certain belligerent groups, but that is beside the point: Bush made no such argument. There are prominent people who have been arguing strongly for appeasement1, enoughs so that Bush’s comment should not be assumed to be pointed at Obama unless you think the accusation fits. Obama’s defensiveness is telling. It is a weakness. Beyond the sense of self-incrimination, it is also indicative of a man who is thin-skinned — enough so that he may have serious difficulty withstanding the unending personal attacks that hound anyperson who achieves the office he is pursuing.

There is a common tactic in politics to demonize your opponent by assuming the worse about them in all cases. If a statement can be interpreted two ways, you assume the worst one, and thus justify thinking the worst of that person. I generally reject that tactic — it is dishonest and hurts the cause of honest debate. On a similar note, I also believe that:

  • When John Kerry made his infamous remark about ill-educated people getting “stuck in Iraq”, he was not attacking military personnel, but making a clumsy attempt at a “Bush is stoopid” joke. Nothing more. He fumbled a joke and got unlucky.
  • When Newt Gingrich referred to “the language of the ghetto”, he was not referring to Spanish, but to the way that not knowing the primary language of the country you live in automatically marginalizes (or “ghetto-izes”) a person. Putting it another way, if you live in Paris, any language other than French is “the language of the ghetto” if you do not also speak French.
1: E.g. a certain ex-pol whose last name, ironically, rhymes with “smarter”

Alas, poor Vista

Friday, May 9th, 2008

Just looking at my site statistics (using the really amazing Woopra, which you should check out if you have a web site), and I noticed the OS breakdown for visitors to my site. Here’s the top four systems:

  • Windows XP: 38.3%
  • Windows Server 2003: 36.9%
  • Mac: 11.7%
  • Windows Vista: 7.47%

Beyond my mild annoyance that they break down every type of Windows, but lump all Mac OSes under one number, I was a bit amused by the fact that Macs outnumber Vista. Two variants of Windows at least five years old collectively outnumber Microsoft’s new flagship product ten to one.

Of course my little slice of the web isn’t going to perfectly reflect worldwide statistics, but it is one more piece of anecdotal sadness for the Regents of Redmond. I saw an article a while back (probably Joel Spolsky) suggesting that if MS sat back and did nothing but bleed money keeping themselves open, it would take then ten years to go out of business. Despite that impressive buffer, they had better get on the ball and try something new — ’cause whatever they’re doing, it’s not working.

My first thought is: get rid of Ballmer — the man’s a bully. Microsoft has used its near-monopoly like a bludgeon, but as time passes they are once again more and more at the mercy of market forces and individual consumers. Clearly he is having a hard time adjusting to that reality.

Or you could just say that Vista is Microsoft’s Copland… but then, I always thought Windows Me was Microsoft’s Copland. Heh. Showoffs.


Thursday, May 8th, 2008

So the other day I decided to upgrade my hard drive. The ol’ 60 gig was getting cramped, and I was tired of removing stuff to make room for other stuff. I wanted my iTunes library back, among other things….

The tricky part is that I’m talking about my laptop, not a tower.

So first things first: If you ever plan on disassembling a laptop computer, go online first and find instructions — hopefully instructions for your specific model of computer. I was dealing with an old Mac Powerbook, and as Macs have some pretty obsessive fans, you can almost certainly find such a guide for any particular model. I did.

Next: before you start, read all of the directions.

No, really. Put the screwdriver down. Yes, you. Read the directions. All of them. Don’t you look at me like that. Read!

Why yes, Step five really does contain the words “This is scary”. Take a deep breath — It’s going to be okay. Yes, that is a lot of screws, and yes, you have to remove them all. Just keep track of what you remove from where. What do you mean you don’t have a screwdriver that small? What kind of geek are you, anyway?

You need a what? What the hell is a T6 torx screwdriver? Oh, those little star-shaped things? People actually use those? Where do you get one? (Answer: Home Depot or, if you’re lucky enough to have one nearby, Microcenter. See? Aren’t you glad you read the directions first?)

Two Words: Don’t sneeze.

It helps to have a good toolkit. For example, if you drop a screw, you’re going to need a skinny tweezers or a nosepicker1.

The really scary part is where you have to crack the two halves of the case apart. Some sections part easily, but others are quite happy where they are, thankyouverymuch. Screws are completely straightforward — prying something apart when you’re not sure what exactly is holding it together can be intimidating. Take your time, it’ll come.

Okay, we’re down to the drive. This is the easy part. Remove the bracket, pull out the plug. Good. Good. New one is in. Oh good, it does fit.

And the last step of course, is: “Now do everything you just did, but backwards (and in high heels)2.”

Finally, when you get everything back together, just plug in your backup drive, boot from that and restore it to the new drive.

Um, you did make a backup, right?

Oh crap.

1: You know, one of those things with the plunger at the end, and when you press it down these three prongs flex out of the tip — for grabbing small objects in tight places

2: Ginger Rogers joke. Sorry.

Louis Armstrong would have liked this

Monday, May 5th, 2008

I have a tendency to envelop myself in politics and such when bumming around the Internet. I think that involvement in such things can be important in the long term, but over time it really can drag you down — so much backbiting and spite, and the inevitable “anything to win” attitudes and resulting calumny and fraud and… *sigh*

So it’s nice when I come across something like this. It’s just an ad for a TV network, but what a breath of fresh air.