Sunday, February 14, 2021

Tesla, Sapiens and Software Upgrades

 One cool thing about my new Tesla is that they've moved much of the operation of the car into software, which means that, as time goes on, my car will actually improve, unlike almost any other car out there.

In his book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, the author, Yuval Noah Harari, points out that the main difference between Homo Sapiens and other primates is that we can organize ourselves around ideas and so we can have groups larger than just people who know each other personally.
The point being, we, as a country, are attempting a software upgrade of our humanity, trying to replace the old meme, which was good for some people but not all, with something that works for everyone. The old guard are resisting the upgrade, they're afraid of change, but eventually you have to upgrade, to get the new features.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

 My friend Ken Stanley and I created a song for the times, and posted it everywhere.  

My wife told me it felt like the Apocalypse; I realized it was Tuesday and contacted my friend the ace songwriter Ken Stanley, and suggested that he create a song called "Apocalypse Tuesday", in the vein of the "Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society".  A couple of hours later he had finished the song.  I sang it and played guitar and bass on it.

Then Ken created a great video for it in the space of a couple of days!  So here it is:

Apocalypse Tuesday

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

Film Frame Rate

I think it's high time for people to get used to high frame rate video.  The "Soap Opera Effect" seems eerily realistic because it IS MORE REALISTIC.  24-30 fps was a way to make film cheap enough to use, but just barely fast enough to make action less jerky.  We don't have to do that anymore; we don't use film stock anymore.  Realistic video is a GOOD thing!  It's time to start working with it!

The only movie I’ve heard of that was actually filmed to use a high frame rate was Ang Lee’s “Gemini Man”.  A kinda standard action movie starring Will Smith.  And the thing is, it looked pretty cool!   It bombed, but it looked cool.  But I agree with Lee: digital is not celluloid, and we don’t need to be limited to what celluloid can do just because of movie audience nostalgia for a crappy motion format.


Containers.  The new buzzword.  The latest iteration of the desire to make applications invulnerable.

I've been working with Docker a lot recently.  I have to admit: I'm basically offended by containers.

Containers simply gather a lot of technology that already exists into one place and let you use it all at once with yet another interface and set of commands.  Some parts of virtualization, some parts of more advanced, kernel-based security features, all bundled into a single thing called a container.

The thing is,  we could have made running apps on single unix machines much safer and easier to do.  For instance, let's just admit that dynamic libraries were a bad idea.  They were meant to save space when hard disk space and RAM were expensive, but the price was library/DLL hell.  We don't need to deal with this anymore.  One time I begged my manager to let me statically link the older version of OpenSSL to a program.  It would save so much time and effort on the customer's side to not have to install our antiquated version of OpenSSL themselves, but the manager didn't want the responsibility for having to issue new binaries if another "Heartbleed" was found.  Fair enough.  But boy, does that manager want to get us working with Docker!  What?  Now we're not going to just be responsible for our own binaries, we're going to be responsible for the entire OS installation in the container?

Star Trek

I like many aspects of the new Star Trek series, but ... the writing.


The entire premise for the series is that Spock has a previously unknown adopted human SISTER.  Does that sound like a fanfic from a 15-year-old girl?

The first season is yet another trip into the “Spock’s Beard” universe.

The premise for the second season is that Spock (the real one) and his sister have to, um, save the universe. Yes, Mr. Spock is a really popular character.  Does he really need to dominate yet another series?

I mean, I often think about writing sequels to my favorite tv episodes.  Doesn’t everyone?  What most people DON’T do is write original stories.  I would think that’s what you pay actual writers to do.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Social Democracy

I'm one of the last of the Baby Boomers. Me and my parents' generation were deathly afraid of Communism and, by extension, Socialism as well. But those days are long over, the Soviet Union is dead and gone (despite the efforts of Putin), and China continues to be an example for the problems of both Socialism and Fascism in the 20th Century, that is, the problem was really Authoritarianism all along.
It's time for all true non-Classical Liberals and Progressives (which basically includes everyone to the left of Ayn Rand) to get over our fear of the "S" word and get behind Social Democracy. No one wants to have workers control the means of production (unless they really want to) and no one wants a "strong man" in control of everything; Social Democracy is key. It's what we and all our cousins in Europe and Scandinavia were already using, we just didn't have a name for it. Let's embrace it, and get to work!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Do liberals think Trump supporters are dumb?

I've seen many statements by Trump supporters that they are angry because liberals think they are "dumb" or "evil". I've even been told this by someone I know who feels this way. So, let's break it down:
Trump has been a celebrity almost his entire life. Everything he's ever done is out there, documented. All the philandering, all the bankruptcies, all the screwed employees, all the racism. Anyone who wanted to know about Trump and exactly what he was could have found out, long before the 2016 election.
Given that, there are three possibilities:
a. You didn't bother to check into Trump before you voted for him
b. You checked, but you didn't believe the bad stuff, despite it being posted by many, many sources that had no intrinsic anti-Trump bias, they just posted what he did, or
c. You liked what he stood for, even knowing what it was.
Now, which of these options should make me think you aren't either dumb or just plain nasty?

Monday, May 07, 2018

Can't go Back to iPhone

I decided to do a little experiment; I wanted to see if I could stand iOS well enough now that I could use an iPhone full time, specifically the iPhoneX, perhaps the most beautiful piece of tech I have ever seen. 

But once again, iOS has stopped me.  For instance, I want to copy a FLAC file to my phone and play it.  On my Android phone that's a drag and drop operation.  On the iPhone, however, the native iTunes can't handle FLAC, and so I can't use iTunes to transfer the file to my iPhone.  I could use a third-party app, but I'd still have to use iTunes to transfer the files.  It's too much of a pain.

So I want to arrange the locations of my app icons on my Home screens.  On Android, I can do this.  But using iOS, I can do no better than to limit the amount of icons on each screen in order to show some free space.  And I can choose which icons are on which screen, but I can only change their order, not where they are actually displayed.  And the big icons still look awfully Windows 3.1 to me.  

I want to buy a new Kindle book.  On Android, I can do that from within the Kindle app.  On the iPhone, I have to open up a web browser session at Amazon, buy the book there, then load it on to my iPhone using the app.  What a non-elegant operation.  Pisses me off.

Apple, it's time to join the 21st century.  Oh, I'll probably keep using my iPad; Android just doesn't have what I need there yet.  But phone-wise, do the following, and I'll consider returning:

1. Let me drag and drop music and video files onto the phone from my computer, and not just from a Mac.
2. Reduce the size of the damn app icons and let me arrange them how I want.  It's a beautiful phone, let me keep it beautiful-looking!
3. Let me buy stuff in the apps I want to use.  Preventing it makes you guys look like idiots.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Google Pixel 2 Phone, Pixel Buds bluetooth headphones

Edit: 2018-03-21: I do like the Ear Buds, but my criticisms of the sound quality and the lack of noise cancellation stand.  It's fun to walk with them, but not in high-noise environments. 

I have a Pixel 2, and the Pixel Ear Buds, and I'm definitely of two minds about them.  I think it's time Google put some serious money into design.

I don't like IOS, although I'm an Apple fan most ways, so an iPhone X is out of the question for me.  Nevertheless, I wish my Pixel looked like that.  I wish it was interesting looking in any way!  It's just bland.

Bland wouldn't be so bad; the phone is, at least, small and smooth and pleasant to hold and use.  And it looks OK.  However, for some unknown reason, about a quarter of the back is covered in a chunk of extremely thin glass.  Hey, it looks and feels kinda nice, but I had the phone not more than three days when it slid out of my pocket at a theater, not more than 15 inches off the carpeted floor, and shattered.  Obviously you CANNOT use this phone without some kind of box around it, which completely destroys the nice look and feel of it.  And this is a premium phone, most definitely in price.  Why should I have to wrap my $700 phone in a cheap box just so that I can dare to take it somewhere?

And they've removed the analog headphone jack, which means to use my headphones I need to use a clumsy adapter.  And the adapter/phone interface needs some work; the phone doesn't always recognize when the adapter is plugged in.  That generally requires rebooting the phone.  And it will take another clumsy and expensive adapter to be able to charge the phone while I'm playing music on it.  Which isn't even out yet.

(BTW, wouldn't it make sense to have TWO USB-C jacks on the thing?  Wouldn't that be unique among phones, a reasonable "premium" feature, and since the circuitry for the single port is already there, still save some space in the phone?)

I'm a musician; I really do want high fidelity sound from my device, and the lack of an analog headphone port means I must really use bluetooth, which has NO real hi-fi codecs available, at least not yet.  Even the best of them, aptX, only promises "nearly CD quality sound".

Which brings me to the buds.  They don't sound good.  The bass is OK, but subtle high frequency stuff, like maracas, tend to disappear.  I've certainly heard decent sounding bluetooth headphones; my old Sony SBH-50 sounds a lot better than these things.  On the plus side, once you have them adjusted, they are quite comfortable and stay in your ears.  But I'm not sure I want to live without noise cancellation in my headphones anymore.  At least the touch controls work pretty well.

Google, I have to admit, you are making me look longingly at the iPhone X and the Samsung and LG phones.  For a premium price I'd much rather see a premium design.  I'm not sure how much I want to trade groovy looks and sound for the most up to date version of Android.