Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Ten Best. . .

Since my percocet prescription has left me too messed up to even follow most blog posts, much less comment on them, even less come up with anything substantial myself, we'll continue the lighter, tech-geeky vein from two days ago. Today I give you the ten best things to ever hit cyberspace:

10) Winamp If you ever used a media player before Winamp you understand exactly why it's here. It's not the best media player anymore. But it was a pioneer.

9) Steve Jobs Man, what a showman. Nobody, nobody, in the tech world does better PR than Apple's ringmaster.

8) Creative Commons "We use private rights to create public goods: creative works set free for certain uses. Like the free software and open-source movements, our ends are cooperative and community-minded, but our means are voluntary and libertarian. We work to offer creators a best-of-both-worlds way to protect their works while encouraging certain uses of them — to declare 'some rights reserved.'"

7) Firefox It fails the Acid2 test miserably. While it's generally less likely to be exploited than IE, there's nothing that really makes it inherently more secure, and IE blows it out of the water so thoroughly on virtually any benchmark that its claim to be "faster" is almost comedic. But this open source darling gets the nod anyway. Firstly, for changing what users demand from a browser, secondly for creating arguably the most successful grass roots movement of any tech product ever.

6) IRC Yeah, Bittorrent is better for file sharing. Yep, most IM clients are better for chat. Without IRC, neither would exist. Between PacketNews, XDCCSpy and IRCSpy, it's become a bit of a slum. How I long for the disorganized jungle of yesteryear.

5) Slashdot News for nerds. Stuff that matters.

4) Bittorrent Has it killed the piracy scene? Sure has. Any idiot can now upload their DVDShrink copy to the same place as the 9 Pass CCE scene release. But that's not the point. Bittorrent accounts for some 35% of worldwide bandwidth usage, making it easy to distribute anything from Linux distros, to pirated movies, to clips that have gone down to the Slashdot effect.

3) Linux The first time I installed Linux, it took me a week to figure out how to get everything set up properly. And even then it was half-assed. Earlier this month I set up Gutsy Gibbon, start to finish, in two hours. I assure you that isn't a testament to my improvement, it's a testament to the improvement of Linux. Between Shuttleworth's billions, and the best user community in the world, Linux has become a legitimate contender for the desktop.

2) Open Sourced Software Talk is cheap, show me the code!

1) Google Larry and Sergei, the de facto mayors of the global village. Blogger, GMail, Google Earth, Google Maps, YouTube. . .they used to do one thing, and do it well. Now they've got their fingers in every pie. With a stock price of over $690 and a market cap of some $214B, Google is a juggernaut. They're taking over the world, and I, for one, welcome our new overlords.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Spontaneous Pneumothorax

So I'm minding my own business, a little bit of a sore back (I get a sore back a lot, so thought nothing of it), when I turn and feel the sore back shift around my lung to become a sore chest. Another turn sends it back again. I knew what it was immediately, the shifting is air, which should be inside my lung, but isn't. Mostly because my lung has collapsed--the titular "spontaneous pneumothorax." Good times.

I was sent home in the hope that it'll resolve itself, but have to go for daily X-Rays at the hospital--if it doesn't we get out the old fashioned vacuum tube, cut a hole in my chest, and suck the air out gently for a few days. Which, I can tell you from experience, hurts. A lot.

On a positive note, I've officially quit smoking effective immediately. Plus I get to spend some time with my good friend Percocet. Which makes everything better :-D

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Ten Worst. . .

We've always had room for the tech-geeky here at The Dilettante Exegete (by "we" I mean "me"), so today something a little on the lighter side, the ten worst things to happen to cyberspace:

10) LOLCats What's better than pictures of cats with all-caps spelling out their thoughts in Pidgin English, with ten thousand variations of "I CAN HAS CHEEZBURGER?" No cats at all, that's what.

9) Internet Explorer I'm sure you all thought I'd rate this one higher (lower?). I hate IE. 'Nuff said.

8) Realplayer & Quicktime (tie) It's not only bloated, it also thinks it should be the default media player for, well, everything. A poor quality product that thinks it should be your first choice for all your multimedia needs. That ceaselessly provides you with useless news, and prompts you to upgrade to the "pro" version hourly. Guess which one I'm talking about? That's right, both of them.

7) Windows Server XXXX. Because as any geek will tell you, a server running Windows is a glorified workstation.

6) Apple That's right you disturbing cultists, I said it. Their proprietary architectures are worthy of mention all by themselves Sure, sure Windows ripped you off. True enough. But the fall of the Mac is the fault of Apple and Apple alone. Closed standards never win. As if that isn't enough, they're the original love slaves of DRM, putting the rights of providers over that of consumers. Steve Jobs, you're a genius and a brilliant showman. Apple, you annoy the hell out of me.

5) Steve Ballmer. Who can forget gems like "Linux is a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches" or "Google's not a real company. It's a house of cards." Ballmer, you're an idiot.

4) Bonzi Buddy You remember this irritating purple monkey? It used to pop up everywhere promising to increase search speeds, help you shop, check your email! In the days before Realplayer disclosed it's spyware practices, Bonzi Buddy found an eager audience in naive netizens. If you know anyone who downloaded it, punch them for me. It's their fault it spread.

3) MySpace What's worse than letting anyone who is so inclined create a homepage from a web designer's bad dreams? Making it easy for them to add the mind-numbing sounds of Hawthorne Heights to their bad poetry. Extra points? No screening process lets any pedophile sign up! If you don't hate Murdoch for Fox News, hate him for this.

2) DRM How do I hate thee. Here in Soviet Canuckistan, we pay a levy on blank media, on the assumption that we're going to make a copy of something we own. DRM says I can't do that, I should pay the levy and pay for the copy. You've gotta be kidding me.

1) AOL By some estimates, over a billion free trial CDs for AOL have been produced. More than enough for every person in the world with web access to have one. Almost all distributed in North America. More CDs were made than there are people to use them. You've all gotten one, with their garish colors and loud proclamations (NOW NO CREDIT CARD NEEDED!). Someday, AOL, you'll pay.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Some disheartening news

Some disappointing news in the latest issue of Science (apparently, at least. I'll have to make my way to the library to read the paper later).

University Suppresses Report on Provenance of Iraqi Antiquities

Michael Balter

University College London has become embroiled in a dispute over its handling of a large collection of religious artifacts that may have been part of the illicit trade in archaeological relics from Iraq in recent years.

In a field already severely tarnished by the likes of Oded Golan, this type of thing is inexcusable.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Academic Imperialism

Over on The Forbidden Gospels Blog, April DeConick thunders against National Geographic for what appears to be a Qumran-esque case of Academic Imperialism. Be sure and have a read:


Quote of the Day

Bear in mind as you read this sweetheart that it was delivered in a lecture given immediately following the lectures of Crossan and Borg. Zing!

We cannot "domesticate" Jesus into a person with whom we can be entirely comfortable. It is, unfortunately, also necessarily an unfinished portrait. One this is sure: I would be very suspicious of my own method it I came up with a Jesus who was not particularly Jewish but looked a lot like a professor of religion of the late twentieth century--even if I could put a name such as Cynic philosopher upon that portrait.

Alan F. Segal, Jesus in First Century Judaism in Jesus at 2000, Marcus J. Borg (ed), p.69