blarg?

If you, like me, enjoy your thrash metal as cartoonishly over-the-top as possible then, my friend, have I got a deal for you: Through The Fire And The Flames, by DragonForce.

That’s right, they’re called “DragonForce”. And I swear to you that if that song does not have you throwing up the horns with both hands, there is not an ounce of Metal in you. None. The video is here, and it’s safe for work, but it definitely features a whole lot of guitar-face, so be warned. Depending on where you work, the video may be just too awesome.

Finally up.

If you, loyal reader, could try that out in your browsers and/or portable devices of choice and tell me if anything’s broken, I would be grateful.

I am hiding this behind a cut, because there are spoilers here for R. Scott Baker’s “Prince Of Nothing” series, and if you don’t want me to ruin it for you, come back tomorrow when perhaps I make the funny.


Read the rest of this entry

My phone has a button on the side which cannot be disabled and which makes my phone take a picture. It then makes a very loud shutter noise which cannot be disabled that notifies everyone in earshot that a photo has just been taken.

At work I have my iPod on and can’t hear the sound my phone makes when something else in my pocket, that same iPod, pushes down the button. I can hear my boss, when he taps on my shoulder and I take my headphones off, telling me that I have just taken at least two dozen pictures of the inside of my pants, and could I please stop.

Thank you, technology!

This is where I’m going to be married.

Ominous!

I mentioned the fact that I’d got Linux running on my PDA to Alex the other day, and he said, well, OK, so? Let’s say you do that. What then?

Being a nerd, I was tempted to fall back on the Louis Armstrong Reply™, but this is a temptation worth avoiding, and not just because it’s glib, facile and more than a little condescending. Admittedly, part of being a veteran nerd is that being glib, facile and condescending is just so much muscle memory at this point, a facility that permits me to look reflexively down my nose at people who are better human beings along every observable axis. But, young nerds take note, this isn’t how you want to treat your friends, and it won’t get you laid even a little.

So let me say instead that I think there’s more important going on here than just some elaborate nerdkata.

The question is, so, let’s say that you can get Linux running on some piece of hardware X. Your “payoff” for that is that you can do (presumably) anything that you can do with Linux, which if you’re a gamer runs the gamut from Tetris knockoffs to xterm. Then you… well, then you get the LEDs to blink at you, and you bask in your own dorkdom for a while, and then you try and undo what you did so that you can go back to playing Soul Calibur instead of trying to get your network connection working.

Not an unreasonable position, I think. He mentioned things like the GNU/Linux-on-a-Dreamcast project that seem, at first glance, fall directly into the nifty-but-useless category, because once you’ve done that, well, what else can you do?

Let me tell you a story about a different piece of hardware.

Imagine for me, using the inside of your powerful brains, a computer thinner and smaller than a MacBook, that folds open to either a laptop or a tablet, supports SDRAM, CF and PCMCIA cards that it uses both as live memory and long-term storage, weighs less than three pounds and has a ten hour battery life. No hard drive so no moving parts aside from the hinges, cheaply expandable to as much solid-state storage as modern CF will hold. Zero bootup time: you just push the button and it’s on, in less time than it takes to to get the phone from the desk to your ear.

What does this miraculous piece of tech cost, you ask? Two thousand dollars? Three?

Try and imagine paying sixty bucks for all that.

And if it breaks, hey, life sucks, wear a hat. Pull out the removable media, maybe keep the battery, and get another one.

This isn’t some theoretical device, of course. This computer really exists; it’s called a Vadem Clio, also sold as a Sharp Tripad, and if you’re having a good day you can find one on ebay for around $50 plus shipping. It’s six-year-old tech, of course – VGA screen, no USB, an old processor and so forth, but if all you need is a web browser, an IM client, a mail client and a terminal you’re gold. Load up Firefox, put Skype and a wifi card in, and you’re ready to…

Well, nothing, really. But, longtime reader, you knew this was coming. I wouldn’t be dangling this tender morsel in front of you if I had any intention of actually giving you a taste. New readers, take note: If I am dangling a tender morsel in front of you, I will typically have no intention of giving you a taste. Be warned!

The reason you’re not ready for anything at this point is that this machine is running Windows CE 2.11, as miserable a backwater of an OS as you’re likely to find. And as a result this otherwise serviceable device is basically useless. Nothing built today is going to work on it, it physically cannot be upgraded because the OS is burned into ROM, and because the OS is old and nobody sane gives two shits about it none of that will ever change.

No bug fixes anymore, no security updates, nothing. Want a driver for that USB card, or for Wireless-A? Forget it. It doesn’t matter if you like the hardware or not, that platform is dead. Don’t like that? Choke on it.

That’s why I think that Linux is important, ultimately. Not because I’m part of the dead hardware preservation society, but because open document and binary formats on an open operating system gives you some small hope of keeping your hardware (and, ultimately, your data) from being frogmarched into obsolescence by forces outside your control, and a way to get your information out from inside those machines when your hardware finally lets the smoke out. Not futureproof, strictly, but far more future-resistant. And also, at sixty bucks a pop, very affordable!

So, longwinded am I, and not much for the entertainment value, but there it is. Take at the very least note of the pioneering linguistic innovation that is my invention of the word nerdkata.

Stendhal Syndrome is “a psychosomatic illness that causes rapid heartbeat, dizziness, confusion and even hallucinations when an individual is exposed to art.” Jerusalem Syndrome, by comparison, is the state of being overwhelmed by your presence in the city of the same name, “whereby a person who seems previously balanced and devoid of any signs of psychopathology, becomes psychotic after arriving in Jerusalem. “

If there were some hipster-occupied middle ground between these two afflictions of romantic art and holy ground, a man might be able to experience that in Kensington Market on a Saturday morning. There’s color, motion, and sound all around you, in surreal and alien combination and so much of it everywhere you look that, strangely, the jaded aloofness you see all over the city is cast in a new light. Not an affect or an air, I think; a defense mechanism. There is an awful lot here to take in, far too much to parse; if you’re hard-of-coping and you don’t let it slide past, you get swamped.

Thinking like that puts jaded detachment in a whole other light, a symptom of a chronic inability to grab hold and deal. A person to be pitied, perhaps, instead of just somebody you want to punch the teeth out of for no reason two minutes into the conversation.

There were at least half a dozen bands up and down the length of the street, some cars trundling slowly through the packed crowds of pedestrians, and far, far too much going on to pull in all at once. Lots of people out doing their own thing, which meant lots of different things being done. It was colorful and noisy and awesome, and once I overcame a shameful urge to acquire (as though cool was a thing you could buy and put on a shelf) I settled down and spent a few hours just walking around trying to soak it all up.

If you’re paying attention, it turns out, there’s an awful lot of the human condition to be seen here. If you’re just going to act like you’ve seen it before, though, you’re going to see the same thing you saw last time. Which is to say, not much.

There’s no real equivalent for this in Ottawa, and zoning laws and white-bread bureaucrats being what they are, no way for one to come into existence; the Market, maybe, if you took away the shopping mall and the four-lane roads. The wrenching mediocrity of the Sparks Street Mall isn’t even a member of the same species. Kensington Market is alive and fun in a way that really isn’t permitted to exist in our NCC-sheltered national capital. Which is too bad, really, but not much of a surprise.

Beef or fish, damn the lot of you!

If you do not tell us, I am going to give you the kid’s meal.

If you are a vegetarian and you don’t tell us, I am going to not care, and then give you the kid’s meal!

When I see a little icon on my screen with an Adobe logo saying “Embed sound and video into your PDF documents!”, my brain filters that into a picture of the Kurgan from Highlander scowling at nuns and yelling “Happy halloween, ladies!”

I wonder why that is?