Saturday, 26 March 2011

Tainted Planet

Humanity is currently in red alert - no, wait, what's worse than red? And the thing is that we don't fully realize the extent of the crisis, really.

The media, but also people around the world (which the media are sort of the thinking machines for), haven't paid the whole situation - nay, this crisis - the proper attention. I really feel we should be much more freaked out about it. These goings-on are not just something going on somewhere we've probably never visited. They really, deeply affect us, they can, and most probably will, have an impact on our lives.

Those Japs there, still fighting, all day and every day, in the nuclear plants, have already delivered their lives to the common... better-than-totally-bad (that's the only option there is left), and they keep reaffirming this with every move they make, to the best of their abilities, in the meantime. OK, you might think that they're just little yellow people*), far away from you, and thus you don't care. Still, I'll explain why you most certainly should care.

The six degrees of separation thing means that you most probably have somebody who either lives there, or at least knows somebody that lives there, and is thus is somehow a victim of the effects of this Fukushima thing. But that's not all. Even we, ourselves, are victims of it, in some way, as inhabitants of this planet. When you sit down to eat a fish, my friend, wherever you may be, you may easily be eating a fish who ate another fish that was there, in Japanese waters, with all the radioactivity around it. And I won't say a thing about the matter and foods and everything else that might travel here from there in one of numerous ways - even just in the air, nothing will stop it from being dangerous in the meanwhile.

Our planet is hereby a tainted planet. Nuclear power was our major hope - and most probably still is - in this energy crisis. But even if this crisis worried us on its own, now the cost of this answer is proven to be mightily expensive. There's no turning back - the radioactivity is out there, for much longer than our petty little lives. There's nothing, absolutely nothing, that we can do - since we haven't discovered time travel or anything - so we're living on a planet that is tainted, and can only become more tainted if it is to offer us some hope, some possible solution to other worries of ours.

* NOTE: Japanese people aren't really 'yellow'. If anything, they just freakishly remind me of robots - the-opposite-of-Uncanny-Valley-style - at times, otherwise I often admire the way they go about things as a culture, superhumanly so, even. But they can be pretty freaky, I won't deny that. Hai, soo desu.

Friday, 2 July 2010

In This Heat...

You see, I've been wondering, for a while now, and used this as a spark for my once-every-ever-so-long post here, why Google Wave is such a failure and nobody ever uses it, no, checks it even.

My boyfriend and I (hereforth refered to as 'us' or 'we') have been avid users of said Wave facility for a while now, initially inspired by my Google fangirl-ism, which I am somehow notorious for among certain crowds (such as said-boyfriend, whose 'bro' is some kind of ├╝ber-hotshot-Macintosh-employee). And, several well-known failings of The Wave notwithstanding (such as its surprisingly low info-stamina, which has forced us to switch Waves several times until now), it's been very good to use so far.

And I still stare at others, especially ones who had access to it from the Beta stage, because... well, they don't use it. And, yes, I perfectly understand how the fact that it was 'closed' when it first started out, and one was only able to Wave with one's acquaintances if they happened to be lucky enough to have access to it at that point - a failure kind of explained through Metcalfe's law - impeded it.

Not having people to Wave with, they got used to 'not checking it', the way they check other things, like it is a somewhat regular thing to check one's email now - made increasingly easier with so many things out there which notify you if you have a new email - but I supposed that this would cease to be an issue since they implemented an email-notification-when-a-Wave-is-updated feature. So, well, there's no doubt, now, that someone may try to use it and not be seen by their Wave-ees, or that any Wave might disappear into obscurity and be forgotten.

And, yes, many everyday needs don't make use of a good amount of its features, but, then again, it would be much better if, say, my mother didn't forward all those emails that simply contain links to pages that... well, would. But, then again, my mother doesn't have Google Wave (partly since I have been careful not to introduce her to it, now that I could, say, invite her there).

Which brings us to something else. You see, gmail (which my mom now has, thanks to... well, yours truly, once again) was once an invite-only kind of email. And I looked at it sideways for a while, way-back-when, due to its Beta status, which lasted for a long, long time too - long enough to allow me, not only to see it for the non-problem which it was (since I normally have a quasi-allergy to anything beta and avoid it as much as I can), but to get used to it enough to fail to realize it when, after many-a-year, it was actually over.

But gradually, after a friend pestered me enough (while I was reading for my first Undergraduate degree, which meant that... well, I had enough spare time to be pester-prone), I got myself a gmail address, and even failed to realize that... it stopped calling itself Beta, for a while before I actually did. Throughout all of this time, however, I used my gmail, since I could interact with others, whether they had gmail themselves or not.

I think that it would be a good idea to have the ability to view one's actual (sad, sad, simple) emails from a Wave client, as well as the ability to see actual Waves, from other Wave users (and, no, with this I don't refer to the ability of adding any email address to your Wave, and send them nieh-nieh notifications of what they're missing and what they'll be able to see if they get themselves Google Wave). One page to rule them all, one page to bind them, and don't you drop it into Mordor, because asked for it and I want it.

Therefore, I postulate that the current failure of the Wave may lie right there: one can't send an actual wave to someone without this facility, even with limited capabilities, and a call to 'join Google Wave to see more' or something (invitations, anyone?). And, well, the capability of receiving and reading one's actual 'simple' emails, even with... a check-box which we would have to check, or something, for this. This would be the only way for The Wave to re-become what email would be like if it was invented today.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Why Linux?

(The post title here is kind of a double entendre, get it? I'm explaining why I chose the thing, while it took me a while to do so, and I'm asking it why it's doing this to me, like "Why, Linux?")

I've always had this 'thing', you see: whenever somebody pesters me about something, even if I know it's 'better', or at least want to try it out, I avoid doing so with all my might, until they stop pestering me.

And back until a short while ago, Linux used to be a thing that some people were so enthusiastic about, and they had just discovered this brave new world, that they kept going on and on and on about it, and comparing it to other OSs, and all that. Which, of course, got to me.

Now, enough time has passed that pretty much whoever was going to bother, even with Ubuntu - the 'easy', 'dumbed down' distro - out there for a few years, that everyone, pretty much, and their brother, has Linux.

So, here I come in. I downloaded and installed Ubuntu, back at the Jaunty Jackalope (9.04) stage, as a second-booting OS, along with Windows 7. And, you know, other than managing to install my printer and sound card drivers for some reason, I was using it, loving it, getting used to it enough that it was now my primary booting OS, with me using win7 only to print something that needed printing and to talk on Skype if I really, really wanted to, enough to reboot for it.

For some reason, I've been forced back to win7 now, though, because... one (otherwise) fine day, Ubuntu 10.04, which I'd now upgraded to and used for a few days (but there was no jackalope here, just a reportedly lucid lynx, and the bunny-with-horns was my friend by now!), decided not to be able to connect to my WiFi, just barely detecting that it's there, but having no viable reception of it to allow it to connect.

My problem here, you see, other than the fact that any Linux distro relies so desperately on Internet access (which I otherwise love it for, being the 'team' OS that it is), is that I've lost loads of the savvy people that I used to hang out with a lot as a student etc, and I have nobody at the tip of my palm to ask about things.

And, yes, I've used the Ubuntu forums, finding them more than helpful there, with loads of people immediately trying to help as best they can with my problem. The thing is, however, that they're not here, and although I tried to explain this as best I could there, that's nowhere the same as... well, having a geeky guy come over to your place and fidget with the thing enough to find out what's wrong - and fix it for you.

So, here I am now, posting from my... (wait for it, I'm becoming one of them now!) Win-blows, and having no idea what to do, all alone in this place that feels like a damp and empty place compared to the otherwise community-oriented and supported place that my Linux is...

(oh, it has more music in that world too, they even have a separate app which you don't have to launch your browser for - and they're soon putting up a Linux version of Steam, I hear/read, so when gaming is no longer an issue, and since I've solved my Photoshop and Premiere issues with different apps there - I'm using GIMP now! - I was hoping to move there for good...)

Oh, and I recommend that you read this post listening to a song from my teenage years which I was singing to myself (well, the refrain, that talks about doing what they told me), because of the fact that  I did it, after all, but it sux that it took me so long.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Apple Mensa Puzzle

The iPad is to netbooks, what the iPod is to mp3 players. No, let me explain: They both existed beforehand, and other, non-Apple brands continue to make those similar products, often better than the Apple versions of them, but Apple is the one that made them popular, that made the world realize that they exist as technologies. Oh, and they're cutely designed, but shockingly overpriced compared to what you could still pay for something... better, in the same category.

Of course, that concerns those non-tech-savvy idiots, people whom I don't really care about, and my mom. If those people want to completely waste their money, just to buy themselves an iPod or, heck, an iPad, I don't give a rat's nether region. And, well, if it makes my mother happier, just to buy one of those things with the snazzy design and the friendly-to-everyone features, then, for the time being, it's her money to waste however she wants to - and, frankly, I don't want to lose her, so I hope that's a long, long time.

The thing is, I really don't see the reason why that would ever involve me. I had an mp3 player ever since... back then, when having an mp3 player pretty much involved having a Discman that played mp3 CDs as well - and I have an affection for Creative's related products ever since. And I had a netbook, thankyouverymuch - an MSI wind, to be precise - since almost two years before I ever heard, or anyone whose name is not Steve Jobs, for that matter, or doesn't work really close to someone whose it is, had ever heard, about iPads.

And, to be frank, I felt a warm feeling in... I won't tell you where, when I saw the video of the iPad being smashed by otherwise annoying American teens (I'd said ever since I first heard about the thing that, if I had loads of money, I would only spend some to buy one just to have the pleasure of violently destroying it), and then cooked in a microwave oven, just as I did when... well, that's a different Apple peeve of mine, but when I saw the video of that iPhone 3G running Android. Boo-yah.

Oh, and, just to mention cause I have to, one of the companies I've liked for many a year is Nintendo (in a way, they brought me up - no, it's not their fault that I turned out like this, I fathom), and they, very eloquently, characterized Apple as "the enemy of the future", and proceeded to 'declare war' on them. Boo-yagain.

Monday, 23 November 2009

A Remix Map In The Sea Of Knowledge

The thing about culture, the important thing about culture, is that it builds on the past (yes, that's building on the Terry Pratchett quote regarding football, from Unseen Academicals, which I'm evidently reading now), as they pretty much say in RiP: A Remix Manifesto. And what can be a more appropriate modern ground for us to discuss culture than the Internet, whose past is pretty short, despite the fact that it encompasses so much of it in its... webs.

As I recently realized, in the newly developing art of blogging, a very common way to remix, which seems to be the talk of the town on the Internets for a while now when it comes to copyright issues and all that, is linking. It 'builds on the past' pretty well, harnessing that which is, I feel, the primary power of the 'Net, the fact that most of the knowledge available to us as a race is on it. Everything is out there, as we often discover examples of for ourselves,for us to find and thus become a bit, or a lot, smarter because of it.

The only thing which is needed in this digital sea of knowledge is a way, or ways, to map our paths within it (the power that Google has now gained all starting from this fact alone), and links to other websites which have something to do with a different subject are, I find, an interesting, practical, interactive way to do so. You're reading a post about a subject that you find somewhat interesting, and you click on a link, or links, that relate to it, possibly linking from words within the text which you thought would link to something you'd want to read (if you didn't just check what they link to, there on the lower left of your browser). Kind of like surfing on from an article in wikipedia to a completely unrelated subject at the end.

I use links a lot in my posts, yes. This is partly (well, mostly) because I find this 'mapping the Internet' thing to be pretty vital. Our generation has access to a whole lot of knowledge - the modern Library of Alexandria, as I often say, something which makes me dread the day when it will all be 'burned down' through a destruction of the Internet in some way - but we're not always sure to find what we want, or what's best for our purposes. But the way in which these links work is virtually guaranteed to give us things we may want, or didn't even know we wanted before we were given access to it, while promoting what we find to be best or more convenient and available to us at least in the topics in question.

So, here's to a way (*lifts glass of mead*) to find a convenient method to find our way around this maze, to sail through the sea of knowledge, like the salty pirates that we've been forced to be, each of us doing our part, as little as it may be, building personal maps for people to sail after us - different to each other as they may be, where their topics of interest, in this case, are concerned - to become, ideally speaking, omniscient as they ought to become in the millennium we've just begun living in.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Not a non-gamer any more!

Yes, a double negative, and I'm not phased enough to turn that into a positive, to tell you the truth. I haven't really proved my come-back fully yet, I believe. And the role of a gamer isn't one to be taken lightly, in my book. Plus, things keep going wrong for me, so I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep (you know whom this is dedicated to).

For one, Steam has a policy where you have to actually buy something there in order to fully use all of its features, in order to avoid spam and all that, and I have only installed, and am currently playing, the Batman: Arkham Asylum demo, which is a demo and therefore doesn't count, 'cause I paid nothing to the Steam people for it. Fair enough, I say, but I still have to ask people for friend requests instead of requesting their friendship from within Steam because of this policy...

The other tragic story is the one about Fallout 3, the purchase of which, however delayed, was, for me, what initially inspired my return to the world of gaming. You see, Fallout, and especially Fallout 2, were my favourite games ever, so I really felt that there was nothing in the known universe that would allow me not to play Fallout 3 after oh-so-many-years. Especially since I'd spent so much time watching Than play Oblivion, and then went outside, only to discover that the 'real world' had less impressive graphics!

So, you see, after a long-long-long search on the hostile waters of the Intranetz, I managed to order the game - which had, by then, already grown quite old - from Amazon, which wouldn't send it to my home address in Greece, so I had to send it to my uncle's in the UK. And, you see, I knew that Uncle D would be coming to Greece 'quite soon', but what I hadn't predicted was that, with all the toss going on in his life, he would forget to bring me the game when he finally did come, and now I have to wait for him to send it to me by snail-mail, when he actually can and when he actually remembers.

So, long story short, although I feel that the Universe is kind of sabotaging my gaming attempts, I had kind of missed this feeling, I now realize. Things go wrong, when you're a gamer, so if this goes on, I might actually allow myself to call myself one again.

Oh, and I've been playing Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass when I'm bored and it's too early for me to go home from work, or when I'm tragically bored someplace else (goodbye to thee, sketch-notebook, that means), and I've also bought Rayman: Raving Rabbids, for my Nintendo DS, and I don't care if that makes me underage, it's how I feel that counts and all that.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

A Two-Of-My-Faves-Together vid

I just couldn't NOT share this with you guys. As the article says, 'here is yet another "two of my favorite things, together at last" video: A Magnetic Fields song being played on a Game Boy.' And that it is, alright. In every way possible. Plus, it irrevocably proves the fact which I have known for a while to be true: even geeky kids (check that awesome hairstyle, now, whydoncha) love Stephin Merritt. Yesh.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Refertence Analysis

Wolfram|Alpha is quite the talk of the (digital) town at the moment, yes. Everyone (who matters) has tried to play around with it one way or another. Still, I'll tell you what: the most fun of all games you can play with it is to ask it a question which is also a reference. It's cool to see how each of these are answered by it.

For example, we all know that the answer to life, the universe, and everything is 42. Well, apparently, W|A knows this as well. And, when asked of the speed of an unladen swallow, it proceeds to ask, in its own way, if you mean an African or a European swallow. So, yes, it knows its basic references too.

My point, however, is to inquire if it's best for a reference to remain as such, despite the way in which the society around us moves and changes and evolves. And my answer tends towards 'oh yeah' in many cases.

You see, we recently mourned an ongoing reference to Indiana Jones IV being the movie that was in eternal theoretical production - my sources say, you see, that rumors of it were being heard since 1994. And then the movie actually came out, and despite the fact that I actually enjoyed watching it, as a tribute to my generation that grew up on Indy or whatnot, well, numerous people whined, and it was really far from what many expected.

Which is natural, if you think about it, since every single person for whom X means something, expects Y - with Y being something somehow related to X - to be a certain way, if there is no other way to examine Y, as is the case with theoretical creations. And, yes, when Y actually came out, it was definitely not, and most probably far from, what everyone who had expectations of it actually expected.

So, a way to deal with this, so as to avoid disappointment, is to simply experience Y with no expectations whatsoever, so as to be thankful for all one is given, since there is no source for disappointment. Another way is to whine about it beforehand, since it is for certain to be far from any expectations for the best that one may have.

The latter was a way for Yahtzee to go about Duke Nukem Forever - yes, gamers still have their eternal promised sequel, while moviegoers have to deal with their own disappointment with what they actually got, now that it's a reality and not simply theoretical, with the potential to be imagined any what way one may prefer.

So, well, my point is that I may be very pro-evolution, in most cases, since usually things evolve for the better, and if they don't there's always the option to backstep into what *used* to be right, but that doesn't seem to be the case where references are involved. You can't forget what has been experienced there, you can't unwrite what has been writ. Unless you get the right kind of blow to the head.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Energy For Life

The Human race's energy issues are well known to all of you guys - from the 'why the f*ck batteries don't last longer' question to what on Earth (or in space, for that matter) we're going to do about powering our needs, now that we've grown to have so many.

Well, it's not like I have answers to any of these questions for you here, 'cause, sadly, I don't. I just want to grasp this opportunity to join the crew in wallowing in self-pity for a minute because of this huge problem of our generation - and in doing so to underline it as such.

So, yes, the answer is bound to be in renewable resources, which probably means solar power, that's pretty much for sure. And, no, it doesn't just involve tying a pretty little bow on our miniature pools of leftover oil or whatnot and thinking, even for a second, that we've solved that problem, now. No, renewables'll have to do the trick, I say.

And, yes, this might even mean that here, in Greece, where I live now, will be a global frontrunner in that department, oh yes. But, well, the oil lords (which I'm sure are all stroking their Persian cats sitting on their golden thrones as we speak, villainous as they all are) won't let go of their reign so easily. And that's why - well, one of the numerous reasons why, at least - we're going through hell right now. Titans' struggle and all that.

Because, you see, all other problems that seem to worry the Humans from time to time are met within record times, usually - mostly because they promise amazing proceeds if you deliver, and there's more gold-diggers looking for something worth selling as a solution, but hey. It's just that here there's not only a great issue involving us having to change everything that works 'the old way' - which will take some time, money and overall effort on its own - but there's also lots of people, with lots of money in their hands and therefore power and humongous metaphorical boxing gloves trying to stop us until the last drop of oil is spent - on military purposes, nonetheless.

So, as you probably already knew, we're f*cked. Yes, let me say that again: we're f*cked, where energy is concerned. And now it's time for you to sod off and go charge your cellphone.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Consoles Don't Count

My friend Sabbattack came over today. He's been coming by quite often lately, filling his - and my - mornings, which would otherwise mostly be boring (well, that's a lie - I seem to always have things to do lately...).

Last time he came, he left with my Wii - which was formerly my brother's wii, but my brother gave it to me because he couldn't care less for it and I looked at it and drooled - in order to get it chipped for me, and bring it back with a few games as well (including Rayman 2 and Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure, these being Wii-games-with-bunnies, which goes to support my theory that every Wii game with bunnies is made to rule supreme, for the wii is a bunny console).

He's going to bring the Wii back, chipped and set, with the games and everything, on Saturday, when I have friends over, to celebrate the election of Barack Obama as President of planet Earth, and my birthday, the two important events of November 4th, in the order mentioned. And, yes, I'd arranged this celebration more than a week ago, because I can see the future, and because some things are obvious, even if we're used to being disappointed.

Still, Sabbattack came over today, and we discussed Fallout 3 (among other things), because Fallout 2 is my favourite game ever, and because I had to mention that I've got the game there waiting for me and I still haven't even started playing, because I haven't got time. And he promised to bring me his X-Box, because, as he insisted, you need Direct X 10 to enjoy the game, and I don't plan to install Vista, like, ever - and I believe him that you need this beauty, as I remember Oblivion being more beautiful than the real world (no, I didn't play it, but Than was playing it, and we hadn't left the house for a few days, and that was the only 'outside' I'd seen, until I went outside, only to be disappointed...) and I think Fallout 3 is going to be pretty much like a post-apocalyptic Oblivion. Anyway.

Console girl, you say. And, not a gamer, you say. Well, yes, I reply. Because gamers are PC gamers. Console gamers are an inferior brand of people. I may now belong to them, but I'll remain true to some values for as long as I can. You can take my time, real world, but you'll never take my soul.