Interwebnet Uglies & Co.

facebook street advert in germany
This is a pic I took the other night of a street advert.

Ok. Maybe I’m over doing it. It’s just that, I really thought, for years and years, that The Ineterwebnets was something beautiful. The reality is, it’s something ugly. Very ugly. Of course, it’s not ugly because it reveals the worst of humanity. No. It’s ugly because the cult of the entrepreneur (#americant) have found so many ways to turn something beautiful into something ugly. Perhaps that’s always what happens when something that was/is meant to be decentralised is then forced in to being centralised. Which means we’re probably not only in a time of greed run amok but also of ugly run amok. Can you say: #Trump? Or. If it works with industries like Hollywood (Harvey Weinstein & Co.) why shouldn’t it then work with technology?

Enter Facebook & Co. (Co. = social media.) Now don’t get me wrong. If FB or social media floats your boat, sail on. But that doesn’t alleviate the reality that FB is part of what has turned The Interwebnets into The Uglies. And if you don’t believe me, give the above pic a good look.

Here’s worst-writer’s translation to assist those who don’t speak the language of the last bastion of communism in the west, i.e. German:

  • Top text: “Facebook has no real daily use for me.”
  • Middle text: “Get really useful recommendations from friends that know what they’re doing.”
  • Bottom text: “Make Facebook your Facebook.” (Italic mine.)

Note on translation: Although I have a FB account (and a Twitter account) and use the service to follow certain people, I don’t actively use it so I’m probably a bit out of the loop of what’s going on first hand with FB. Above the middle text is a red and white info-bubble icon with a star in it. I have no idear what this icon means. Nor am I interested in researching it to find out. Gee, am I missing (in translation) any redeeming quality from this advert because of that info-bubble?

I had to ask my German better-half what this advert is about. She said it’s about FB’s bad rep in Germany. She added that FB has had trouble getting users because of the Snowden revelations. Ok, I thought. And then added in the back of my mind: if she (the German) says so.

What is clear to me in the advert is that FB, either with or without knowing it, is revealing the thing that is not only inherently wrong with what it does but also that it’s partaken in making something ugly that is or was once beautiful.

Or maybe I’m just way off base and can’t really articulate what I want to worst-say.

Who cares.

Rant on.

-T

 

How The #neweconomy Became The #oldeconomy And #Apple #Sucks

apple sucks.jpg

Who loves being forced to buy new technology? I mean, that’s really what’s happening these days, or? If hardware manufactures somehow acted responsibly, there would then be no reason that the investment consume-to-survivors make couldn’t last longer. Or are the engineers that make everything smaller and thinner really not that good after-all? Oh wait. We’re living in monopoly times. And. Apple just made my Mac Mini obsolete. And. Apple also made it more difficult for me to update some software that I’ve been using. And while I’m on the subject… iPhones and the corporate obsoletism that’s behind them, really sucks. Yea. Apple sucks!

After a year and a half of use, my iPhone 6s only works for about four hours a day before I have to put it on a charger. To counter this engineering #neweconomy wonder, a few months ago I splurged for an external battery case so I could forget about charging all the time. Luckily the case works really well. On the other hand, because of the case, my once gorgeous iPhone is now über-ugly, ridiculously heavy and I have to use an adapter for the headphone jack. But I’m not even complaining. Reason? I’ve been able to extend the life of my iPhone; I’ve been able to extend my investment. Ain’t that great? More importantly, this extension means I don’t have to dish out stupid-money to corporations that are already undeservedly rich because they can avoid paying taxes. And so. If I’m lucky, my technology investment (iPhone 6s) has somewhere between six months and year left in it. The reason for that has nothing to do with the battery. And so…

The problem was hardware. The problem is software. Get this bull$hit quote from one of the undeservedly rich a$$holes from richer-than-god corporation:

“I’ve always been fascinated by these products that are more general purpose. What I think is remarkable about the iPhone X is that its functionality is so determined by software. And because of the fluid nature of software, this product is going to change and evolve. In 12 months’ time, this object will be able to do things that it can’t now. I think that is extraordinary. I think we will look back on it and see it as a very significant point in terms of the products we have been developing. So while I’m completely seduced by the coherence and simplicity and how easy it is to comprehend something like the first iPod, I am quite honestly more fascinated and intrigued by an object that changes its function profoundly and evolves. That is rare. That didn’t happen 50 years ago.”

Let’s break this quote down, shall we. Below the underscored text including worstwriter’s interpretation of greed mongering corporatists’ subtext.

  • functionality is determined by software
    • This will allow us to cheat customers even more than we cheat them now
  • fluid nature of software
    • fluid = 100% control
  • change and evolve
    • profit dictation and monopolised market equals obsoletism at the flip of a switch
  • I think we will look back on it and see it as a very significant point in terms of the products we have been developing
    • There is no ceiling to what we can charge for our products (first example is the iPhone X)
  • I’m completely seduced by the coherence and simplicity and how easy it is to comprehend something like the first iPod
    • Never question progress in the name of unsubstantiated profits in a monopolised market that is determined by arbitrary costs we pass on to customers in the name of that progress
  • object that changes its function profoundly and evolves. That is rare. That didn’t happen 50 years ago
    • That because 50 years ago there was competition and corporate behaviourists with college educations in Stupid hadn’t yet realised the easy profits from the verticalisation of industries, i.e. politically supported monopolies

But I’m probably way off subject. What I really wanted to worst-write about today, dear worst-reader, was the idear that Apple’s App Store, along with the bull$hit spewed by Jony Ive, is yet another example of how the new economy has been defeated by the old economy (i.e. Goliath hath slain David). And not only has it been defeated but the new economy is now becoming the old economy. In the pic above, we see that software developers are locked into some kind of control room regarding their creations. A simple software that a few people put together must adhere to preposterous rules regarding how they run their business simply because they sell their creation through a “store” controlled by a monopolist entity. That this is legal, is beyond me. But then again, we are living in greed-times. Greed is good, right #americant?

I have never been so motivated to trash all this tech krapp. Indeed. Looks like this text will be typed on the last Apple Mac that I ever buy. Of course, I’m stuck with the iPhone for a while. But that’s only because I’ve been too lazy to adopt “smartphones” the way I adopted (real) computers. But I don’t think it will take me as long with smartphones. Luckily I was able to see through the “smart” in phones a long time ago. And with that…

But I digress.

Rant on.

-T

Link that motivated this post:

Pseudo Review: RasPlex + Hifiberry And Some Serious Audio On The Cheap

 

rasplex hifiberry dacpluspro
That little green light is more than go-go, baby!

Can a non-audiophile still hear great audio? Can a music-lover of old music still get some jams through his/her head in these digital times without breaking the bank? Do those guys that spend all that money as “audiophiles” give you the creeps? Indeed. Money. Audio. How much you got?

Because I spend too much money on other expensive stuff, I’ve never really prioritised audio in my life–even though I love listening to music. I learned a long time ago that you don’t have to dish out huge sums of cash to hear good replicated music. That said, I can’t go more than a few days without listening to something that either soothes me, rocks me or moves me. A good drink and some Jazz while cooking is heaven. Am I wrong? And so. Unlike most young folk today, I can’t listen to music through headphones–whether in-ear or over-ear. If you see me out and about with Beckett, the killer pug, and I’ve always got earbuds stuck in my head–I’m listening to podcasts! The problem with headphones and earbuds is the feeling I get with so little space between my ears and what moves air. Headphones make music not only sound weird but feel weird, too. If that makes me old fashion, then get this. I have come to love today’s modern digital music consume-to-survive world. Even though I don’t buy much music anymore–and I can’t stand most all of the music made nowadays, I’m good. Reason? I have a digitised music library that contains everything I need. Whether it’s The Beatles (the greatest album ever is Abby Roads), Beethoven (9th!) or some esoteric Jazz, I’m good. Really good. Seriously. And that’s not all. For all practical purposes, dear worst-reader, I completely missed the CD revolution, too. I couldn’t afford the equipment back then. Since the 70s I have consumed music by borrowing, sharing or trading. In fact, till about fifteen years ago, I had never even owned a sound system with speakers. But I digress.

As digital music took over by the mid 90s–along with the Internetwebs–I was still catching up on the CD revolution. Of course, at least two-thirds of the CDs I have, were all acquired pre-owned or traded. Like in the days with cassettes and albums, digital music was made for sharing. For those who consider sharing piracy, first: fuck you. Second: I still have most of the CDs I ripped in a box in my basement. I never once downloaded anything from Napster–even though I admire greatly what they were trying to do. (Note: I will never buy anything Metallica for what that $hitty band did to young people who just wanted to share music.) I did make a few downloads from BitTorrent, though. (Note: it was all part of research!) Anyhoo. I have a nice digital library of music that spans most of the 20th century. Oh, and I have two version of that library. One version is in FLAC and the other, to appease me wife’s demand for media singularity and simplicity, is iTunes compatible.

Let’s move on to the pseudo-review, shall we?

As you’ll note in the pic above, I am currently using two streaming devices for our home media. For amplification (and in order to avoid those awful sound bars, which my wife wanted after I got rid of our AVR krapp) I’m using a TEAC A-HO1 integrated amp and DAC. Here’s a review of it. I got it last year after selling my hundred pound multi-channel AVR system, 7 speakers, and one 700 watt subwoofer. I’m not even gonna worst-write how little money I got for all that krapp–which says a lot about the state of the audio equipment industry. But get this. I would have almost given it away. If I ever have to wire up five, six or seven speakers again and then try to configure an AVR for a room… I’m gonna shoot myself with your gun.

Amp and sound.

The TEAC is connected to some really, really cool Audioengine P4 speakers (not pictured). We have a fairly small living room and I’ve never once regretted having these “bookshelf” speakers–which are actually in bookshelves that surround my flatscreen TV. They are fantastic speakers and I got them on a über-great-deal from shopping on the Interwebnets. They move the air more than enough to make sound very, very enjoyable.

Streaming boxes.

For iTunes we have the AppleTV(3) connected via HDMI to the TV. The optical-out of the TV is connected to the optical-in of the TEAC. This works fine–except for the fact that one is locked into the Apple world. Which also means no high-end audio and/or limited access to my own higher-end audio files. The ATV can’t play FLAC files.

Also connected to the TV via HDMI is my RaspberryPi 2 Model B+, and connected to that is a Hifiberry DAC+Pro. This is a bit more complicated than the ATV. The HDMI of the RaspberryPi also delivers audio to the TV, and, as with the ATV, the TV converts audio signals to the TEAC’s optical-in. Again, for simplicity, I have chosen not to use the ATV’s optical out–which does produce better audio than the TV. That said, we want something more than any of these optical options, don’t we?

Analogue Audio Galore.

The Hifiberry is where the real magic happens. For less than a hundred Euros–the software, RasPlex, is free btw–the Raspberry Pi is a fantastic DAC. It actually converts and, where applicable, upscales audio and then delivers that as analog right and left stereo to the TEAC’s analog-in cinch ports. The Hifiberry DAC+ and “pro” designation means that it has the same type of chips used in high-end DACs. You can opt for a non “pro” version of the Hifiberry if you prefer to save a buck or three. But I couldn’t resist the gold cinch connectors! Nomatter.

Btw, I’ve had the RaspberryPi+Hifiberry for two years or so. I gave up on it when I first got it because I couldn’t get the drivers to work properly. Even though the HDMI of the Raspberry Pi spits out audio, it’s not half as good as what this thing spits out with the Hifiberry card attached. And so. The other day, while bored out of my early-retirement mind and while fiddling through a junk box of old gadgets, I decided to google whether or not they finally fixed the driver issue. Alas! They did. I re-installed the newest version of RasPlex on a 16GB micros SD card. I also had to fiddle with the config.txt file a bit. Then you have to tell RasPlex, using the UI, to route audio through the Hifiberry daughter card… Boom, baby! That little green light (pic above) lights up bright and shinny.

First test.

From a ripped blu-ray of Guardians of the Galaxy, the Raspberry Pi + Hifiberry streams from my Plex server via LAN crystal clear 1080p video including up (or is it down?) scaled DTS 5.1 audio to stereo and the TEAC releases what will make even an ageing grouch like me smile from ear to ear. Also. I’m really glad those boys at RasPlex got their software to the point that even I can set it up. Cool. Über cool.

Rant on.

-T

 

Is A Skewed Mind Any Worse Than The Mindless?

And it was good, your Lord said. Or maybe not, say worst-writer. Or maybe not.

It’s also good that the world is looking into who/what the people are that can come up with so much mindlessness–especially when being employed at one of the most prominent employers in the world. I mean, that is the purpose of so many currently having a look at the ten page manifesto written by a now former Google employee, James Damore, that kinda, sorta, goes the way so many went way back before liberal minds and freed thought saved the world. Or? Nomatter.

By-the-buy, I had a look and spewed a worst-thought or three about it here.

In that vein…

I mean, if you can get a job at Google, doesn’t that make you, comparatively speaking, a pretty special human being? Then again, what is a prerequisite for acquiring such a position in life? The College degree these days is nothing more than a token one has to acquire, perhaps not unlike fiat-money so that the working classes can think they’re actually achieving. Once you have a certain amount of these tokens then you can manoeuvre in your world of token commoditisation. Of course, let’s not forget that the world is now lead by the first generation of humans that have acquired tokens. The only problem is, the next generation is waiting in the wings with token-vengeance, i.e. the youngsters born of privilege and entitlement that are now working at Google.

And so…

The reality of the lie that is this token world is finally starting to sink in to some of this new generation, especially the likes of James Damore. In their confusion to comprehend the world they’ve been handed and the world they continue to enable and facilitate, the Damore’s will lead on. With that in mind…

A skewed mind is no worse than the mindless.

Good for them; entertaining for the rest of us.

Rant on. -T

Moment You Know Your Gig Is Up And #ConfessYourUnpopularOpinions

burn it down but dont hurt anybody
HDT + fire (but don’t hurt anybody) = burn the whole fcuking thing down. Source of pic: the movie Office Space

I love it. It’s one of those rare moments where there is so much crumbling in the souls of those who thought they $hit roses that I can sit back, for even this brief amount of time, and actually enjoy watching the catastrophic embarrassment of WWE or anything reality-tv. Cause that’s what we’re/you’re in, baby. But here’s the thing, dear worst-reader. There’s been quite a backlash to a recent publication by a Google automaton regarding the genetic deficiencies of females as computer programmers, or something like that. Of course, if one reads what was actually published (which I’ve only partly done), two things should come to mind:

  1. Have you nothing better to do with your expensive San Francisco ruining time?
  2. Convention and status-quo are the enemy of rational thought and the innate human desire to consume too many Jujubes.

This whole shebang is so hi-larry-us regarding this issue that I’m also wondering why rational people–if there actually are any left in my beloved #americant–don’t all get up and finally do what needs to be done. By-the-buy, if you want to know what needs to be done, read HDT and then add fire (or maybe not). As far as my enjoying this moment where others suffer, heed this: when a manifesto from an automaton blows up like this it can only mean one thing. Either there’s something wrong in Kansas (as in that Munchkinland where everything is almost perfect, ‘cept for those menacing witches and what-not) or your time is up at the fun factory–where you’ve been riding on the backs of future generations because of the greed you and your salary has been perpetuating for having done nothing except ruin the #interwebnets. Indeed.

Yeah, to have the time to write and think about what this automaton thought about means you might have a bit too much time on your hands. At a company like Google, that means there has to be a lot more of you that have too much time on their hands, too. Which also means, many, many, many automatons should be made redundant. Either that or switch your major (as in college) to eugenics.

Rant onwards.

-T

Links that motivated this post:

Pseudo Review: MacBook vs Macbook Air

three dollar bill apple logo (low res)

Gallantly playing the role of the über mindless consumer, spending the morning lazying around while on a short vacation, there’s always time to 1) practice typing and 2) blog something before we head out on our last full day around Flensburg’s Fjord. With that in mind, here’s my pseudo review of two Apple MacBooks I’ve had the pleasure of using lately.

MacBook.

First there’s the early 2016 Macbook (1,1 GHz Intel Core M3, 8/256GB). This is actually my better-half’s machine. Since she’s been using iOS more and more, and since we’re on the verge of getting her the new iPad Pro 10″, she’s letting me use it for the week. In fact, I left my MacBook Air at home for this trip and simply set up my own user account on her machine via iCloud and boom–I’m up running in my Apple universe. The thing that’s had me curious about this device since we purchased it last fall has been the M3 CPU performance and that darn skinny keyboard. Seriously. Skinny–and maybe even boney–is the only way I can describe it. But does it work?

The comparison.

My main work device is an early 2015 13″ MacBook Air (Core i7, 2,2 GHz, 8/256GB). I bought it through the Apple refurbish program almost two years ago. It was my second Macbook–the previous one being a mid-2010 13″ MacBook Pro. The Air is simply the best portable computer I’ve ever used. The keyboard is smooth. The screen, even though it’s not a new fangled retina display–is excellent. The Processing power of the i7 is enough to do minor video processing–which is why I opted for the i7. Of course, the Air, compared to the new MacBook, does have all those ports. Needless to say, two USB 3 and one thunderbolt port make a difference in everyday use. In fact, hooking up a second monitor via the thunderbolt port turns the Air into a real desktop machine. Very impressive indeed.

Love?

Get this, dear worst-reader. After a week of use I’ve fallen in love with my wife’s 12″ MacBook. The retina display is nothing less than fabulous. I have it set to the highest display settings, which I always thought would make everything too small for my ageing eyes. Instead, it’s fantastic. Getting 2304 x 1440 pixels on a screen of this physical size–especially in such clarity–is amazing. I actually find myself squinting less with the MacBook display than on my Air. And then there’s that keyboard. Holly smokes! Ever sense I fiddled with this keyboard on the first edition of the MacBook, usually while visiting an Apple Store, I thought I would never be able to type on it. Prove me wrong, Mr. Jonny Ive! The skinny, no travel keys work great. It just takes a bit of getting used to. And before I forget. The newly developed trackpad is cool, too. It’s definitely more precise and sensitive than the trackpad on my Air.

Love can be short lived.

The only negatives I can find with  the MacBook is the M3 processor and the single USB-C port. Although it handles my tasks pretty well, it demands more of the user than my Air does. There’s lag when loading web pages, when moving between virtual desktops, even when activating the dock, which I usually keep hidden. Considering the physical size of the motherboard (pic below), it does make me wonder how long it’ll take for Apple to get this thing up to real world capability. Kinda reminds me of the first MacBook Air that Steve Jobs pulled out of a manilla envelope. What a slow pooper that thing was. But perhaps Apple isn’t even interested in that sort of thing. And I’m sure there are many users like me who don’t need the highest spec machines to get lots of work done. If Apple can make the smallest useable machine they can make–and it turns out like this? I’m good with it.

macbook motherboard
The rest of the space is for batteries. Whaaaa?

Would I trade up?

As mentioned, my wife is in the process of going full iOS. She’s got her iPhone, her Apple Watch, her iPad–which she’ll be upgrading to the new iPad Pro w/ keyboard and pen when iOS 11 is released. Does that mean it was a waste to buy the MacBook? I’ve never seen her as a Mac user anyway–so I guess this was her trial machine. The real question is, would I trade my Air for her MacBook when the times comes? We certainly don’t need both machines. On the other hand, I’ve lost count of how many Macs I have at home right now. (At least four.) My off-the-cuff answer, if I’d take the Macbook after only a week of using it: hell yea! I would give up the power and speed of my Air for this little, skinny, boney MacBook. The screen is that good. And although my Air gets better battery life, the MacBook is not far behind. There’s just something about the whole package, this thing, like so many other Apple products, just fits. The screen, the keyboard, the trackpad, the weight, the screen! Did I mention that the audio it produces is phenomenal, too? Considering what Apple has done with its new MacBook Pros and that stupid touch pad, the MacBook seems like a fine alternative.

Cost?

In case you didn’t know: Macs are stupid expensive. The MacBook is waaaaay stupid (expensive). But allow me to say this as a long-time Mac user. Even though Apple is going to weird places right now, i.e. with pricing, touch bar on MacBook Pros, the Apple Watch, the newly announced iMac Pro (starting at $5k??????), etc., I’ve always found that if you know your needs and spec the machine accordingly, there’s no need to compete with specs and you don’t have to pay out the yin-yang for a more than decent work machine. The only problem is, you have to want to be in the Apple universe to really get the full benefit of these machines. Since I’m already deep in that universe, there’s no turning back now. Thumbs up for the 12″ Macbook.

Rant on.

-T

What Scares More? Who Or How A $140m Was Won In Court?

When I was kid there were two things that scared me. One was the return of my father who abandoned me when he realised the petty jubilee of war-winner’s bounty in the form of young German girls–while fulfilling his commitment to the US military–and how that wasn’t quite what he thought it would be. And the other was the 1972 movie The Poseidon Adventure. Seriously. To this day I complain to my mother about having dragged me to that film. I even remember the filthy floor that I crawled on while hiding behind the backs of movie theatre seats to escape the portrayal of suspense and human suffering on the big, wide Hollywood screen with the aftermath of a capsized ocean liner. It was indeed a dirty, filthy, grimy disgusting floor. Nomatter. I count myself lucky to not have feared what other kids feared when they were young. You know, ghosts, monsters, priests, etc. Of course, fear is something we all must deal with in life–especially in times like these where everything, everyone, The All of Life, is about one thing and one thing only: money. So I guess, as an adult without any money, I’ve had to deal with fear anew. But you know what, dear worst-reader? It doesn’t stop with being a useless eater, one who was meant to be a ditch digger but instead told those with privilege and inheritance to go fcuk themselves thirty-three times over. And with that in mind, there is one other thing that scares the krapp out of me as I start down the path of getting older than I ever thought I’d get. The thing I fear most today is power run amok in the hands of the few. And if you think it hasn’t run amok, give a look at that weird court case a few years back between Hulk Hogan and Gawker. Even though I haven’t seen the documentary discussed in the video above, I’m really looking forward to seeing it asap–as soon as it’s available here in the old country. In the mean time, I’ll utilise the wait-time to psych myself up. For, dear worst-reader, the amount of power that is currently being consolidated into the grimy hands of wealthy assholes who can manipulate the judicial system (of any country) should raise red flags not only across the world but, indeed, #americant. But then again, if those flags were raised, it could cease to be #americant. Or? Oh my. I’m so afraid of the future of the western world having given in to political conservatism and thereby monetising the judiciary of democracy that I’m already looking for movie theatre seats to hide behind. Oh. Wait. I guess I’m also a little afraid of what grime is gonna be on the floor of those movie theatre seats I try to crawl under. Or maybe not.

Rant on.

-T

Links that motivated this post: