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User Journal

Journal Journal: 1950s TV 1

If this won't render properly just go here

        A year or so ago, an executive from an electronics company (Apple, if I remember correctly) spoke of the lack of innovation in television sets since the 1950s, and my reaction was âoeHeâ(TM)s either stupid or thinks I am.â
        In the 1950s televisions had knobs on the set for changing channels. Remote controls were brand new, expensive, limited in capability, and used ultrasound rather than infra-red.
        The screens were vacuum tubes, and most were monochrome. Color television was brand new, and it was nearly 1960 before any stations started broadcasting in color. Rather than being rectangular, color sets were almost round; even black and white sets werenâ(TM)t true rectangles.
        They had no transistors, let alone integrated circuits; the IC had yet to be invented, and transistors were only used by the military. They were a brand-new invention. TVs didnâ(TM)t have the âoeno user-servicable partsâ warning on the back. When the TV wouldnâ(TM)t come on, as happened every year or three, the problem was almost always a burned out vacuum tube. One would open the back of the set and turn it on. Any tubes that werenâ(TM)t lit were pulled, taken to the drug store or dime store for replacement. If that didnâ(TM)t fix the problem you called an expert TV repairman.
        The signal was analog, and often or usually suffered from static in the sound, and ghosts and snow in the picture.
        There was no cable, and of course no satellite television since nothing built by humans had ever gone into space.
        However, there is one thing about television that hasnâ(TM)t changed a single iota: daytime TV programming.
        In the 1950s most folks were well paid, and a single paycheck could easily pay for a familyâ(TM)s expenses. Most women, especially mothers, stayed home. As a result, daytime TV was filled with female-centric programming like soap operas, game shows, and the like. Usually there were cartoons in the late afternoon for the kids.
        Today the rich have managed to get wages down so low that everyone has to have a job. The demographics of daytime television have radically changed as a result. Now, rather than housewives (of which few are left, and we now have house husbands), who can watch daytime TV? Folks home from work sick, both men and women, folks in the hospital, the unemployed, and retired people.
        Yet daytime TV is still as female centered as it was when I was five. Soap operas, talk shows with female hosts and female guests discussing topics that would only appeal to women, and game shows.
        Whatâ(TM)s wrong with the idiots running our corporations these days?


Journal Journal: Trump - a warning from the present 8

I don't believe for a second Trump believes a word he's saying.

What I am concerned about is that Trump could, very realistically, be elected because of the views he's espousing. That says something terrible about too many people at the moment, and also makes possible the frightening scenario whereby someone who believes what Trump is currently saying could be elected too.

In the mean time, Trump is also validating the opinions of many extremists.


Journal Journal: Capituation 17

Just a rather obvious observation that nobody seems willing to make. Responding to a terrorist event by banning people who are trying to escape those terrorists does not hurt the terrorists in the slightest. It's actually what they want.

And giving terrorists what they want generally doesn't stop terrorism.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Ask Slashdot: What SF Magazines do you read? 2

I'm actually looking for two things: good magazines I haven't found, and good magazines to submit science fiction stories to. I also want to know where I can find your favorite magazines; I've been getting them at the Barnes&Noble in town, but they sell out quickly. Once all they had was three copies of F&SF, and I found it to be excellent. Another time I found five titles, but I haven't seen Asimov's there, and I always liked that one.

Analog was excellent as well, as they've always been. The British Interzone was very well designed, with excellent layout and large amounts of excellent artwork, but I didn't like any of the writing. It just didn't suit my taste.

I have yet to find any decent online mags, I'm sure you guys can supply me with that.

The Military

Journal Journal: There's a reason it's called Terrorism, not Endofcivilizationism. 30

For the next few days, weeks, months, the usual suspects will channel their fears and hatred towards both those who murdered in France two days ago, and those who disagree with them on how to tackle it. They'll whip themselves up into a hatred-filled frenzy against those who are unfortunate enough to share the same religion as the terrorists, and they'll blow the "threat" up out of all proportion.

These people are simply stupid. Don't get angry at them, ignore them. They're victims of terrorism in its purest sense - they're the people shitting their pants at what just transpired, in a way nobody in Paris, New York, or London is doing, or will do. They're weak, scared, and pathetic, and they're lashing out at everyone from ordinary Muslims to Liberals because ISIL just played them like a violin.

Tomorrow is another day. It'll be like Tuesday of last week, except there'll be 150 or so fewer people to enjoy it thanks to a group of religious extremists who represent nobody but themselves. We'll miss those who are gone, but life goes on. Dealing with those who cause such horrors involves reason and human decency. ISIL's plan involves us having neither. Their success requires we have neither.

But we're better than they are.


Journal Journal: Pale Moon

I broke down and installed Pale Moon as my default browser. For those who haven't heard of it, it's Firefox 3.x with updates.

Comments so far? Well, it seems snappy, but then most browsers do if they don't have any crud from a year's worth of browsing sessions. Compatability looks OK. Memory usage is not off the wall but not awesome either - I've suspected for a while that the out-of-control memory usage of Firefox has more to do with how Javascript is being used these days than anything Firefox itself is doing.


Journal Journal: Media bias 8

It has to be said, in defence of the whole "Lieberal media" nonsense, that the media has been telling a lot of lies about Ben Carson recently, albeit most of which sourced from his autobiography.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Where's my fridge?? 24

I plan to buy a house next spring, so I'll almost certainly need a new refrigerator. There's a problem: they don't make the fridge I want, and never have. I can't figure out why.
        Refrigerators today are quite different than antique ones, using a different coolent because of the ozone layer, better insulation, the use of rare earth magnets in the motors, and other improvements.
        But they're still incredibly wasteful.
        The fridge I want has two vents outside, much like dryer vents but insulated. There is an electronic outside thermometer, one in the refrigerator, and one inside the freezer.
        When the temperature outside is above seventy fareignheight, the heat taken from the fridge is vented outside, so the air conditioner doesn't have to work harder to cool the hot air refrigerators let out inside the house.
        Under seventy the air is vented into, rather than outside, the house. If the heat is on, it doesn't work as hard.
        But most of all is winter. It's ludicrous that we pump the heat from our freezers with a lot of energy expenditure, while freezing air is right outside that could come in the intake hose and freeze and cool your food. At freezing, this fridge doesn't need the compressor at all and compressors take a lot of energy to operate.
        I don't know why nobody is selling those things.


Journal Journal: No President Lessig 3

So Larry's dropped out of the race. This is because the Democratic Party are totally unfair, because they said someone needs to have more than 1% of the vote for a slightly more sustained period of time than Lessig could manage.

In other words, the Democratic Party didn't want to waste anyone's time with clear no-hopers who were only running to use their debates and a convention as a platform.

I'm with the Democratic Party on this, for two reasons. One is I agree with them. The other is quite simply that tech does not currently deserve a place in polite society when it comes to discussing the major social issues of our time.

If we're still throwing tantrums in 2015 because we can't call Anita Sarkeesian the C-word on a Go language mailing list, then as an industry we need some deep introspection, and we need to ask ourselves why the hell such a small band of lucky, privileged, individuals as ourselves (we're overpaid for work we love, be honest) are fundamentally incapable of dealing with people less fortunate than ourselves.

Lessig is the only Democratic Party candidate worthy of having his speeches interrupted by BLM. That's how terrible we are.


Journal Journal: Bye Biden 1

I don't think it's a coincidence that Biden's announced he'll not be running immediately after two polls suggesting that the pundits, not the loudest Internet critics, were apparently right about who "won" last week's debate. As I've said, I think Biden was solely hanging around to handle the chance Clinton would lose to Sanders. That... doesn't appear to be happening.

Maybe it's too early to tell, but I really don't buy a Sanders victory. Although I'm tempted to get the HD DVD journal entry out just to use its awesome power to upset the status quo.


No that would be wrong. With great power comes great responsibility. If it were important that Sanders win, I would consider it. But it is not. Sorry Berniphiles, but we need something better than the Democrats answer to Ron Effing Paul.

User Journal

Journal Journal: So who won the debate? (Updated: Clinton) 1

Update Oct 20th 2015: No serious answers from you people, but it appears at any rate to be Clinton who won the debate. Most votes are coming at Biden's expense (and Biden isn't even running) but Sanders is essentially treading water at this point.

Media consensus: Hills.
Internet consensus and every single poll: The Bern.

Anyone who actually watched it have an opinion?

User Journal

Journal Journal: Fare thee well, Slashdot 6

I've been on slashdot since the early days. I've seen meme after meme come and go from the trolls, I've seen the internet grow from 28.8 modems to multi-megabit pipes. During those years we moved from 386's measured in MHz to Core CPUs measures in GHz.

But along with all the other changes, the internet itself has changed. The quality of comments on Slashdot has changed. Even the quality of selected articles has changed.

And most of it has not changed for the better.

So while I'll still be using, I don't think I'll be coming back to Slashdot any more.

Quite frankly, it's boring.

United States

Journal Journal: The other car 11

President Clinton - GWB's fifth term. The continuation of everything from the partisan insanity to the continuation of the post-9/11 war-on-humanity. Rating: *OHMYHELL*.

President Sanders - the establishment isn't going to let this happen unless it somehow becomes extremely difficult to stop him AND the Republicans put up either Rand Paul or Donald Trump. Pretty much anyone else from the Republicans, even a deranged religious nutcase, will result in "something" happening to Sanders, be it an invented scandal or an assassination. If he ever makes it into office (thanks Trump) then he'll be cut off politically pretty early on and won't get a second term. *OHWELL*

President Biden - the best we can hope for (which is a terrible thing to say, I guess, but at least Biden has a certain amount of respect from both sides, but I don't see him stopping the post-9/11 thing), but let's be honest, it's getting a little late for him to jump on board even if Clinton starts to falter. *OHWELL*

Me, I'll probably vote Sanders or Biden. At least the latter likes passenger trains.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Plutus' Revenge

It was the only life-bearing planet in the entire universe; the very first planet to have life. It was the only planet in existence to have the conditions necessary for biogenesis, including being a double planet, each orbiting each other. The double planet was one of the keys of biogenesis, because of the tides. The timing of orbits and gravities had to be perfect, as well as chemical and photonic conditions.

        Life has a hard time getting started. This was the first planet on which it was possible. It would be billions of years before any other planet had these conditions.

        In time, its rotation slowed as its sister planet Theia went farther away and took up an eccentric orbit around the star.

        It was a very rich planet. Rich in metals, rich in diversity of vegetation once life had evolved that far, vast riches of water, and very rich in hydrocarbons. It was rich in chemicals and conditions conducive to abiogenesis. One of the planet's fauna evolved to the point of sentience, then the arts, than the sciences, until their technologies were very advanced. By the time this had come about, though, the slightly smaller sister had wandered away. The Vulcans never knew of it.

        The Vulcans were a very religious people who worshiped Plutus, a god everyone could see and love. When the heretic prophet Ragnarok was twenty three, he warned them that Plutus had told him to inform everyone that he was commanding them to explore outer space, that there were vast riches there, and their very existence depended on it.

        But space exploration isn't cheap, and the Vulcans couldn't see any monetary payback, only expense. Space travel wasn't started.

        Fifty years later Ragnarok spoke of an evil that only Plutus could save them from, and said it was on its way, and called it Theia. He spoke before a crowd one day, saying Plutus had spoken to him in a dream. As they listened intently, he informed them that their god was angry because they had never left Vulcan and was going to destroy the Vulcans, and Ragnarok and his family were the only ones who would survive the cataclysm unless he told anyone of his dream, in which case he would die instantly and his family would perish as well. His blasphemy was met with a storm of stones, and he died there broken and bloody. The mob then murdered his family and set his house on fire.

        But Ragnarok was right. The rich are never satisfied with their riches, so poured more and more of their seemingly limitless hydrocarbon riches into industry and commerce, all worshiping Plutus with all their hearts. Technology brought wealth, and was developed to a very high degree.

        A century after the would-be savior Ragnarok was stoned to death, the Vulcan culture was already in decline. They developed space travel, but they never saw the signs of the decline. The denizens of a declining civilization never do. But space travel was developed despite its seemingly nonexistent to meager payoff, and a colony was planted on the next planet out from theirs, the third, and another on the fourth. The third planet was uninhabitable because of its almost completely nitrogen atmosphere, and space men and women had to wear oxygen masks and very heavy clothing outside. It was very cold there, having very low concentrations of greenhouse gasses. The planet was called âoeSchneeâ.

        Schnee was the reason space travel was actually developed on Vulcan. Vulcan had been much like Raj a few centuries earlier, but had gradually warmed, becoming hotter and drier. The area near the equator become a desert with fewer and fewer forms of life, and its oceans started shrinking, the water entering the atmosphere as vapor and staying there. Collecting this water was very expensive, so they started looking at Schnee for water. It was a hard life for the scientists and ice miners there, many of whom froze to death.

        The fourth planet, Raj, was much nicer. It had a nitrogen atmosphere with plenty of oxygen for animals to breathe, and carbon dioxide for plants to breathe and warm the planet, so had very comfortable temperatures near its equator. Scientists were there before too long, followed by rich tourists, followed by rich immigrants who went for its beautiful weather and the wonderful Marineris Ocean's seashores. As Vulcan became hotter, Raj became the star's ruling planet. All still worshiped Plutus.

        Vulcan was dying, but wasn't yet dead when Theia returned. It had been in its eccentric orbit for billions of years, its orbits often changed drastically by a gas giant and a ringed planet.

        Theia seemed to be headed directly to Raj! It came very close, its gravity from its larger mass than Raj's and its nearly all iron composition tearing away almost all of Raj's atmosphere. Animals, including the sentient Rajians whose ancestors had immigrated from Vulcan died in hours. Flora came to its end shortly later.

        Raj's gravity altered Theia's course, and it was now headed directly to Schnee. Vulcan had fallen so far that its meager population of Vulcans had no idea of the destruction that had hit Raj, now dead, and what awaited Schnee. It mattered not to them, for they knew that they were doomed. Ragnarok's prophesy was well on its way to being true -- but no one would be left alive to tell tales of the blasphemous prophet.

        The Vulcans on Schnee saw Theia coming, but were helpless to do anything about it. There were few of them left, as well.

        At first it was a white dot in the night sky that got brighter and brighter every evening, then bigger and bigger. Before long it was a huge circle. It hit Schnee with tremendous force, releasing tremendous energies. It made a giant splash of molten rock and metal, and steam from the suddenly boiled ice. Vulcans who still had binoculars could see rings around Schnee, but there were few Vulcans, let alone binoculars. They, the few animals, meager vegetation, and microbes in Schnee's atmosphere that had ridden to Schnee with the Vulcans were the only life in the entire universe.

        Plutus had his revenge, making Vulcan so hot anything combustible burned, and soon there were rivers of flowing lead. Schnee was covered in an ocean of magma, and Raj was hit by so many meteors that all traces of Vulcan activity were erased completely. Plutus had not only destroyed the Vulcans, but all evidence of their very existence.

        It was finally only the microbes in Schnee's atmosphere that lived, who had no way of appreciating the beauty of Schnee's rings. Which was a pity, as they were very beautiful rings indeed.


Journal Journal: So... Windows 10 1

The supposed pattern of Windows releases is similar to Star Trek movies, bad, good, bad, good. This doesn't make a lot of sense, I mean, Windows 1 was innovative but not exactly going to set the world on fire. Windows 2 was better, but again wasn't going to set the world on fire. Windows 3 was an incremental improvement on Windows 2 (largely code clean up, some minor fixes such as Program Manager) and, uh, set the world on Fire.

OK, fast forward. There's 95 (Yay), 98 (Boo.. . wait, yay.), Me (Booo), XP (Yay though I don't know why, I personally couldn't stand it), Vista (Booo), 7 (Yay), and...

OK, there really isn't a pattern there is there?

OK, OK, get on with it:

So, anyway, people have been saying "Well, 8 was a dud, therefore 10 will great and set the world on fire."

Is it me, or is Windows 10 a slow bug ridden piece of crap that's actually more like Vista was to XP than Windows 7 to Windows Vista?

Windows 8.x wasn't perfect. But it wasn't slow. It was relatively stable, not as stable as 7, but for the most part stable. The only problem with it (which admittedly was huge) was the lack of a Start menu.

Windows 10 seems ambitious, but it's ambitious in a Vista way, and I think they released it way too early and didn't really care about the consequences of half their decisions. My tablet crashes (rebooting) periodically, it didn't before. The laptop I've been trying it on is chronically slow, so slow I can boot up my Ubuntu laptop in the time it takes to get the lock screen to start recognizing key strokes after I've unsuspended it.

The features of 10 are hit and miss, with some, such as Cortana, being very impressive and completely useless, and others being a giant step back on what we had before. Mobile Office seems decent, albeit buggy. Mail will be excellent when it's finished and the numerous bugs are squished (same for other bundled groupware apps.) Edge appears to only exist because "Internet Explorer" had a bad reputation, but it's hardly feature complete, and to make sure we use it, we Windows 8.x tablet users lost our actually-pretty-good (and secure! No ActiveX!) version of IE for tablets. Why? Why remove that before you have the same features in Edge? And what about the extent to which many apps are reliant upon (unnecessary - I'm talking Freecell here!) network access and have been coded in such a way that they only start properly if the network is either completely turned off, or completely perfect?

There's the mandatory Windows Update nonsense. I can only imagine someone at Microsoft said "Nobody will complain, Android does that already, my Android phone is always downloading updates for apps", ignoring the fact that (1) Android isn't used on desktops, and (2) updating apps and even app infrastructure doesn't imply needing forced reboots. Hell, I regularly update my Ubuntu machine and virtually never reboot it, I don't need to, only updates to the kernel and X11 actually need reboots, and it's rare, if ever, that either absolutely 100% needs to be updated.

Couldn't Microsoft have just, you know, added the Start menu, and released that as Windows 8.2, and then held back on Windows 10 until they had a usable, stable, pleasant to use operating system? I know they were kinda in a panic, but the Start menu was literally the only thing anyone ever complained about with 8.x.

BTW I'm always wrong on these issues, so expect Windows 10 to be very popular with everyone lauding how great it is that Freecell will sit spinning at a Please wait screen because your laptop or tablet automatically connected to a coffee shop hotspot and is now waiting for you to log in.

You are in the hall of the mountain king.