Like: My PowerMac G4 (R.I.P.)

October 30, 2009

“At long last it’s Crashed, this Colossal Mass…”

I’m not quoting the Shins because I’m in love with the Shins or anything. I’m quoting them because it was appropriate.

It was a long time coming. I bought this sucker in 2000. A powermac G4 with dual 800 cores and 80 gigs. This was the top of the line at the time. A lot of money and a solid investment for a guy who would be doing lots of video editing. And it went amazingly well. For almost 9 years the two of us worked in perfect harmony. Rarely a problem.  It’s nine years later and still you could keep up with all the advancements, and changes to web design, and newer OS systems. You could even play some of the more recent games. You were like the little engine who could! To think I once ran OS 9.2 on you! (only the greatest OS ever but that’s beside the point). We were made for each other this computer and I, and I simply could not have had a better computer.

And now with a kaput power supply, fan problems, and quite possibly some serious damage to the logic board and HD, it is time to salvage what I can from you and move on.

To my next computer, I wish you good luck… you have some big shoes to fill.

To My PowerMac G4

Computer, Desktop, Friend

-(2000-2009)

Advertisements

Don’t Like: Dealing With A Nuance In Beauracracy

October 23, 2009

There’s nothing more banal that complaining about bureaucracy. I admit this. It’s like a stand-up comedian bitching about lines at the DMV. It’s nothing but maturbatory self-aggrandizing. But lately I’ve been once again thrust into my yearly scenario of having to explain to justify to other human beings that my car is fully operational, clean-running, and fit for driving.

First off, I say this not, but because my car is a piece of crap that doesn’t pass the eyeball test. It totally does.  You would never think there’s a problem with it. It’s 1999 toyota camry that’s clean, runs great, and is excellent condition. On top of that it meets all the standards of Los Angeles emissions tests.

So what’s the problem? The problem is that the 1999 toyota camry has a well-documented problem of the check engine light coming on and reporting an “ERG” flow problem… only there is no problem, everything is in perfect working order. It took my mother and her mechanic back home a whole year to figure this out. They diagnosed the problem and she promptly searched the internet and discovered that many others have had the same problem. So she would take it to her mechanic at her convenience when the light would come on, he would check to be sure that that was the problem, and then shut the light off. It was great.

I have since bought the car from her and been using it here in Los Angeles. Thankfullly, I was hyper-aware of this problem already. So the time came where I had to take it to a shop for it’s due maintenence and repair and was not only promptly told I had an ERG flow problem, but that the car was undrivable without it being fixed. A massive discussion took place. The person was convinced there was an actual problem and I documented my case against it. He was positive that it wasn’t and gave me a whole list of reasons why I needed a set of repairs to A, B, C, and D. I took it to three other mechanics and they all said the same thing.

So I got the ERG flow system replaced for 1000 dollars. The day after the work was completed the light came back on. And yes, of coures the ERG flow was in the indicated problem. “Well that’s weird! Must be this other problem.” was his response. I typically do not yell. I can’t remember ever yelling at a service person before. There is just no need and there wasn’t even a need for it then. But here I yelled. I was angry because everyone refused to listen to me. I’m not a mechanic and I’m not a nave when it comes to cars either. Unfortunately the mechanic shop was part of a big chain and my feeble attempts to take them to small claims court was met with upstanding resistence, and would probably result with even more money out of my pocket. So why bother? I drove my car and the check engine light would come on and i’d routinely get it checked for any other problems, and refused service when someone said my ERG flow needed to be fixed.

So all of this came to back to rear it’s ugly head today, when I went to get my smog test so I could renew the registry on my vehicle. The man said he could not approve my vehicle because my check engine light was on. Now, I’m already at a disadvantage because it was my last day of registration and I had my appointment at a DMV in 15 minutes.

Which is my fault right? I waited too long. They’re not responsible. Well no matter how many times over the last four years I’ve told them to correct my address, no matter the fact that I had called 6 times in the last five weeks to get my registration sent to me at the correct address, they have continually failed to update the address and send me my information.  Why does this matter so much? Because the registration notice includes your “renewal ID Number” which is the only way you can renew your car without missing work and going to a DMV in person. And missing work is a last possible option for me. That’s right, you can’t call and obtain your number, you can’t email, you need it snail mailed for some absolute nonsense reason. So after 5 weeks of pleading with the DMV, I was out of options and scheduled the first possible appointment which would only make me a little late to work and that happened to be the last day of my registry.

Which brings us back to me getting the required smog test, which I didn’t realize was required of me. I thought it was every two years, but it’s every two years within renewel, which means my year and 1 month status counts as 2 years for the registration renewel purposes. But did you know that if it’s outside the 2 year window with a renewal purpose it’s technically expired? (Meaning if you get your smog test a few months before your renewal, you still need to get one in the last few months of the next two year window for it to be considered a legally drivable vehicle). Most people don’t know that and I don’t blame them because you know it’s the literal definiton of a double standard. FUN STUFF.

So I explain all of this and the smog test guy is nice and helpful and gives me a number of a “Refugee Service” that can vouch for a car that has a problem like mine. I leave and call to cancel my dmv appointment, then call the service once I’m at (and late) to work. they say “sorry we can’t serve you without a failed smog test notice.”

“But the guy recommended me to your service and wrote down the number?”

“We need a failed notice to go forward.”

“But that will cost me lots of money to get a test I know is going to be failed anyway and then you’ll charge me for the same smog check service?”

“Sorry it’s policy.”

Fine.  I’ll have to go back to the guy and pay for a failed smog test. I then go onto explain the problem to the Refugee service and she says, even with all my documentation: “This car isn’t on our list of cars. This will probably very hard to prove. You should probably just get it fixed.”

“But it doesn’t need to be fixed. That’s not how it works, I just explained it y-”

“If it’s not on the list you have a battle ahead of you. You should try to get it fixed.”

“Yeah. But even if I fix it, that won’t help. The light will still be on.”

“But that’s not my problem.”

“WHAT? That’s the definition of your problem, that’s what you guys do right?!?! You help people who have nonsense problems with their cars get passed the too rigid laws that don’t account for problems exactly like this one.”

“Yeah, but we’ve never seen this problem before.”

“But thousands of others have. I can show you. Wouldn’t I just be your first for this particular company then? I mean hasn’t this happened before? This doesn’t even make sense.”

“Um… [long silence except for the sound of gum chewing].”

“I’m going to look for another refugee service.”

“We’re the only approved ones in california”

“Well then let me come in to talk to your supervisor.”

“Just get that failed test notice first.”

I hang up. The girl was actually nice sounding, but just didn’t get what was going on. It’s that simple.

Look, we all know dealing with a bureaucracy is a pain in the butt. So what? everyone has to do deal with. And everyone’s situation is unique to them and everyone has a specific problem. But dealing with a nuance like this is just death. What do you do? How do you convince people to help you? Everyone thinks I’m trying to pull one over on them. I feel like that scientist in that annoying blockbuster than knows the truth and everyone thinks he’s crazy. Bureaucracies are a big old fact of life and they’re annoying, but when you have a black and white case they still work. Which is what they’re supposed to do. And that’s still something.

But the second you get into any gray area, that’s where it gets complicated. They’re designed not to deal with gray areas. They’re meant to make it simple for them. To refuse. To make it black and white. And that’s not how life works. I have a situation of inherent nuance. And they’d rather I not.

So all I have to say is this, does anyone know a mechanic who would be willing to shut of my check engine light, for a nonsense reading, and pass me for a smog test?

Probably not.


Don’t Like: “Sleep Systems”

September 30, 2009

Are you kidding Tempur-Pedic? It’s not a sleep system. It’s a freaking bed.

You’ve made a new and better bed? Sweet. If it’s good enough, I may even purchase one. But who are you kidding? A sleep system? In order to qualify as a sleep system, your contraption would have to have like tubes and wires going into the person’s body to help maintain hibernation or something.

Come on. It’s a bed.


Like: District 9

August 24, 2009

So I’ve missed the last few weekends of movies and am going back to furiously catch up.

Starting with District 9, which is astoundingly good.

I’m not sure I can add anything to discussion, people seem to love the serious sci-fi angle on this this (relatively) low budget and rather unlikely blockbuster.

But I just found it to be doing so many interesting things so let’s go to bullet form:

-This is the best CGI I’ve ever seen. Hands down. The close ups of the bugs are photoreal. You’d swear they were prosthetic or practical effects, but nope. CGI. James Cameron should be ashamed of himself, spending 450 million to make “photoreal” cgi and instead his Na’vi from Avatar look like damn cartoons. He was utterly bested by a south african filmmaker with 30 millions dollars and hell of a lot more smarts. So how did this guy do it? Care, mostly. Rely on less CGI shots, spend more time on them, opt for a non-glamorous shooting style, go for an alien design that caters much better to CGI (ie bugs), and it helps to have WETA on your side, who in my mind is easily the best effects studio working today.

-Lots of great tone jumping. You don’t really notice it like you would in other films, but by keeping the docu-like form and cinematography the filmmakers afford themselves the ability to jump tones, and even narrative to a degree, all while keeping a cohesive singular movie. It’s just so exceptionally well done and I don’t really think people realize how vibrant and stark the sense of humor is in some of the scenes (the prawns living habits, the main prawn father/son interactions). Like I said the whole docu vibe affords them a lot of leeway. Just a brilliant move.

-Speaking of the “Shaky” cinematography, THIS is how you do it (Booooo Cloverfield). They know just exactly how to hold the camera with a slightly wider shot and focus in when focusing is important (it only gets real shaky with intentional bumps). Just lights out work, and believe me they worked on this over and over again until they got it right. Loved it.

-Lots of great violence. I’m not some guy who just sees movies like this for it’s action, but boy oh boy can a appreciate a film when it does it well. Blowing people up doesn’t have to be some mindless actioneering, but instead can be a cinematic, visceral and even cathartic film experience.  Like a pro, Blomkamp holds off most of this til the end and unleashes such a great last few acts.

-This movie has a lot in common with Starship Troopers (also just a great movie. I’m not kidding, the cartoony stuff just plays perfectly in that film. Verhoeven’s no dummy). D-9’s not going for the same satire angle, but there’s a lot of the same kinds of things being said about war mentalities, the “other”, etc.

-The movie somehow has just the right amount of sweetness too.

-Particularly loved the opening detail on their malnourishment as explanation, does so much explaining in a simple detail.

-Having Sharlto Copely, who plays the main guy Wikus, just absolutely NAIL the role has to help you out. It seriously wasn’t until this exact moment that I realized he was acting against nothing and completely sold his relationship with the main bug. It blows my mind. I seriously didn’t even think about it til right now… whoa… I had been thinking about his character arc and how he sold his development. Which is what you really should be thinking about and not the CGI. Just brilliant.

-As a historical lover of first person shooters, I could appreciate all the great inventive weapons in this. Fun stuff.

-That’s good for now I think. I really liked this well executed, and thoughtful movie. Sure the concepts at play aren’t exactly rocket science, but they sure aren’t banal and they used a valid sense of maturity and tact in dealing with them. Which is a HELL of a lot more you can say than most summer movies.

-Peter Jackson found a winner.

PS – A basterds blurb coming soon


Don’t Like: This Asshat’s Logic on “Why Athiests’ Arguments Do Not Work”

April 2, 2009

First off he never really addresses atheist’s arguments and just makes hilarious statements and conclusions instead. But first, a qualifier!

1) I am somewhat at odds with logic. It’s is an incredibly useful tool of construction/deconstruction and often provides the crux of philosophical theory. But logic itself is not, and has never been, the definitive system for “answers,” philosophical or otherwise. The basic scientific principal of “correlation does not mean cause” prevents it so, and yet most logic depends on that being true. While it may seem that “science” as we know it was invented in the 17th-18th century, really the basic tenants have always been routed in the pillars of observation and appropriation. There’s a timelessness to those qualities, just as their is a timelessness to logic, but they are interdependent on one another and have always been. More so, in the age of increasing scientific propriety, observation, data collection, and technology, we have a legitimate ability to gain actual substantial answers to long theoretical questions and problems. With that, logic has become the currency of the intellectual disaffected and the occasional dead weight of lunacy.(1)

Enter this asshat.

There’s a lot of general stupidity out there with which I have absolutely no problem. I generally like to single out the most amusing or most outrageous in some kind of personal way. So like those, this guy is special (assuming he’s serious. Which I think is true. More on that later). But this seems to think he is the god of logic. But so often the problem with logic is that YOU define the variables and if you define them wrong you can go of an logic bender that leads you to a stunningly crap-tastic conclusion. So let’s go on a journey.

First off, there is his claim that Atheists don’t believe in god, because they can’t see god. He compares this to the fact that we can’t see air, but we know it’s there.  Sigh.  The obvious problem is that we can see air. You use a thing called a “microscope” (well a powerful version of one) or other scientific instruments with which we can look at and analyze the molecules that make up this “air” thing you speak of.  Even better, he then uses the comparative example of “not being able to see your own brain, yet it exists.” Well tell you what, I’ll go grab my dad’s Vietnam era machete and give a good slice across your forehead, grab a piece of your brain and show it to you before you die. Because you’re sitting and talking to a camera, yes, even you have a brain (of course this implies your sliced brain would still have visual functioning capability). See we have TANGIBLE ways of actually seeing these invisible examples you speak of. The atheist argument is dependent on the fact we currently have NO TANGIBLE ways of seeing god. (2)

The next part is equally awesome. Saying that proposition of God’s existence inherently begins as a 50/50 chance is a total falsehood.  Just because there are two possible answers, does not mean there is an equal chance of those answers being correct. It’s like saying there’s a fifty/five chance I’ll be hit by a falling lime green Boeing jet today. The odds are actually dependent on, you know, the probability of said event occurring, not the number of a possible outcomes. It is one of the most basic pillars of logic and one of the first things you learn on the subject: An either/or result does not facilitate either/or logic.

Which then brings him to the “51%” thing where he goes from his already incorrect 50/50 probility of god existing to the the long-pause-inclusive “but. there. is. evidence!… of him, existing!” deduction is high comedy. Needless to say said evidence isn’t presented and instead we’re just treated “we exist” followed by a statement which implies 100% of god existing by saying “And if he didn’t exist there would be nothing.” Just awesome. It becomes evident he has no idea where he is in his logistical timeline and is pretty much winging. Then sequeways with a sort of nice equivalent of saying science can’t prove anything “because it’s logic.” Which is oh so failsafe.

The also also best part comes right after that with “the four most evil people in history of human history” (nice repeat) were atheists… followed by the hilarious DOUBLE eyebrow raise (a kind of awesome you get me? you GET me? ATHEISTS ARE EVIL, eh?). Followed by the prefect double hand open of obviousness.

Just Killer.

The also also also best part is his other videos are even more hilarious, offensive, and culturally charged (the one on sex hurting the vagina being okay in particular), but this one highlights his logistical failures much more acutely.

Psychologically speaking, his arguments are oddly solipsistic. He is taking special care to deny almost any other singular influence on his opinions. Most like to reference and support, his logic is instead a wholly insular enterprise. It is an increasingly common behavior on the internet and something I find to be a result of 1) a disconnected society and 2) bad learning habits. But that’s all conjecture. The dude is funny to watch.

There’s a lot of belief that this guy is playing a character and these segments are a joke. Who knows? The problem is that it doesn’t pass my gut test. I look at him and it reads real even if his statements are ludicrious (a good deal of Christians seem to be just as offended by his nonsense giving them a bad name). He’s just too good the personality type. He’s simply too good at playing the self assured, withdrawn, intellectual type who is probably a libertarian, thinks no one is as smart as he is, and dismays that society does not live up to his standards. Which makes me sad… I’m going to hope he really is playing a character.

It should be said there scientific arguments/theories for god’s existence (the big bang, etc) that are at least somewhat interesting. It’s all deeply theoretical and miles away from having scientific legitimacy, but it’s still interesting and enjoy reading about it. And no, I’m not talking about intelligent design. Any scientific theory that is built on “we haven’t figured this shit out yet, so it must be god” is about as faulty in logic/science/basic life skills as you can get.

For those  questioning my motives, as everyone tends to do, I really don’t have a stake in the answer. I might believe in God, but I lean sort of atheist. I’m not sure. I just know that I care about the methods we use to come up with “answers”, because often the methods inform the answers themselves.

Addendum

1- This statement however does ignore the problems created by conflicting data and the mass amounts of misinformation.

2- There are some interesting theories, which I address a bit at the end above.


Like: Rock Band

June 10, 2008

So this is how it went:

A bunch of video game designers were sitting around in their awesomeness and went:

“Hey let’s invent the greatest party game ever!”

“Okay, how about a game where you play simplified musical instruments collectively as a rock band”

“And we can use popular/totally awesome songs!”

“Cool, and we’ll make different difficulties so you can totally show off or if you’ve never played you’d be okay after two tries!”

“Or even play when you’re drunk!”

“Especially if you’re drunk!”

“And we could actually make the drums give you some of the same skills needed to drum”

“Not the guitar though”

“No, not the guitar”

“And you wouldn’t even really have to know the words! Just the basic tune!”

“And we’ll have the vocals real low so people’s awful, awful voices don’t ruin it!”

“And we could actually teach people the value of pitch since it’s the only thing the mic could measure!”

“BAD ASS! LET’S DO IT”

“Dude, be sure Gimme Shelter is one of the songs!”

***

Sure there were 2 versions of guitar hero as the progenitor to this so it was really just the next logical step in the evolution, but I still like this version of the events.


Don’t Like: Defective Coffee Lids (PART II)

June 10, 2008

I have a temper about the weirdest shit. It rarely, rarely, rarely comes out and it’s almost never directed at humans. Why not humans? Cause I can usually understand the fallacy of human error and chalk it up to individual interest (basically objectivism). No, what usually gets me angry is incredibly stupid stuff like traffic patterns, or in the case of today: THE SAME FUCKING DEFECTIVE COFFEE LID.

This is BS man. I got some coffee (which again, I rarely do) and didn’t even fill it up all the way. I put the lid on. Walked outside. INSTANTLY SPILLING OUT BOTH SIDES OF THE CUP. Luckily, I was smart enough to bring napkins this time to help take care of the mess. I had to pour out a bunch of the coffee out into the trash to even get it mobile. Lo and behold, I get into the elevator and the lid starts spitting out coffee when I’m pretty much perfectly still. My hand continues to burn and I finally get upstairs to my office. I pour more out (i have like 1/2 a cup by now) and finally sit down to drink this thing because I’m tired and desperately need caffeine.

I check to be sure the lid is on extra tight again. I raise it up… instantly spilling out from underneath the lid and onto my jeans.

Needless to say I hurled that fucking cup across my cube. Yes, it was at my trash can and it went in, but coffee is now everywhere. I made a half hearted attempt to clean it up but now it just smells like coffee.

Now this is usually the point where you suspect someone has an anger problem. But like I said, I only do about the weirdest shit. And I don’t even care, cause that coffee lid can totally kiss my ass. How can we not make coffee lids that work?!??!!

So why don’t you analyze me interwebs! ANALYZE THIS!