Monday, July 23, 2012

Inappropriate Reactions to Tragedy = Opportunism

I am one of those people.  I don't really watch TV anymore and I certainly do not read newspapers.  I get all of my current events either from the internet or from word of mouth.  As a result - I really have no idea what is going on anymore.

This is a side-effect and as they go I have to say that I am growing to enjoy blissful ignorance of such things that ultimate do not matter in my life.

I heard about what we shall call "The Batman Shooting" from some friends who were complaining about world-wide premiere cancellations.  I didn't know anything about it.  What I heard took a while to filter through because first there was the Batman angle and then there was the "12 miles from Columbine" angle.

Interestingly, a few days later I actually go to look it up on the internet & being a few days behind, the headlines are now all about reactions to the event.

Here are two examples of blatant opportunism that I absolutely find offensive but are to be expected, tolerated and somehow complimented and admired (!?) : 

Illinois Man Brings Crosses to Site Of Shooting, one for each victim.

President Obama visits victims

In the first case, Greg Zanis is a self-aggrandizing Christian Zealot from another state.  He makes a point of 'undertaking a 16 hour drive' in his truck to deliver crosses to a murder scene.  He did this for the Columbine shootings and now felt the need to "come back".

  1. Are all of the victims Christian?  Would they actually appreciate this gesture personally?
  2. On whose property are these crosses being erected?
  3. Who the hell is Greg Zanis & why is he interested to begin with?
  4. Why does he feel the need to tell people "Zanis cares"?  Is this really about the victims or is he just showboating how much he cares?
  5. It is to be noted that the first time he did his he put up 15 crosses, including 2 for the shooters - which an angry father of one of the victims came & tore down.  So you might say that his efforts have already offended people.  Why did he do it again?
In the second case - yes every politician since the dawn of time uses tragedy for a photo opportunity to look like they are doing something about it.
  1. What exactly is his presence doing to help the situation?
  2. What exactly would be do, ever, at all, about preventing this from happening again in the future?
  3. His statement about the killer being forgotten quickly & the victims being remembered in the long run might have been met with : "Really?  Can you name any victims from similar incidents?"
  4. There are pictures of him smiling with the victims.  Does anyone else find this inappropriate?
  5. Yet another case of "Obama can not resist the lure of the camera".  I don't care what side of the political spectrum you butter your bread - you have to admit that the guy loves to be on TV.
Sadly, I still don't know a lot about the actual incident, as I've been so distracted by the bum-rush of opportunists swarming in like seagulls from receding waves.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Can't haz Christian Nation...

Four years later and the fastest way to find this sound-byte is still to look at the reactionary Christian web-sites where there is an endless amount of rabid paranoia that President Obama somehow harmed Christians by rightfully claiming equal representation for believers of all faiths, or no faith at all.

The last time that I checked, the Constitution defined this extremely clearly.  If anything, the only point to take umbrage with is the inference that American used to be a "Christian Nation".

First of all - the identification of "Christians" as a voting block in this country is a complete non-sequitur.  That group is comprised of Catholics, Protestants, Baptists, Lutherans, Evangelicals, Quakers and a whole slew of other belief systems - all of which have very few things in common - notably one of those is the inclusion of Jesus.  But to imply that this group of people all believe the same thing is comical to the point of absurdity.

Secondly, the reading of the works of the Founding Fathers would tend to put a large swath of them firmly in the skeptic camp.  Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson spring to mind as being matchless both in their contributions to a fledgling country as well as their theological doubt.  Back then it was a question of trying to keep the different "Christian" sects from violently discriminating against each other.

It would seem that it took the political campaign against Roe v. Wade to galvanize all of these disparate groups into anything like a cohesive political force.  A decade of appealing to this force to sponsor the modern Crusades has seemingly dredged up some of the least "turn the other cheek" kind of outspoken rhetoric that the internet has yet seen.

I find this kind of distasteful "Burn In Hell" backlash to be utterly pathetic.  How anyone can call themselves a "Christian" and spit anger or hatred from their mouths at the same time is beyond my understanding.  I truly wonder if these sorts of things are what people own up to during Confession or if somehow thinking, feeling and behaving in this way is considered "being a Good Christian"...

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Customer Service not Dead but Dreaming

In order to protect my spiffy new Very Expensive Rectangle, I took a cue from my most successful iPhone case and bought from OtterBox.

I got the Defender series and the Latch.

You will note a photo of the Latch attached to this article.  Here is my brief journey:

First I ordered both units.

Second I received only one of them, the Defender.  This is very nice indeed, but having paid for both I was left scratching my head.

Third I tried going through their online form.  This is an annoying process that is very gimme-gimme about your personal information and seems far more focused on collecting demographics about you than about the problem you might be contacting them about.

Fourth I got tired of waiting for a reply so I called them directly two days later.

Fifth the representative was very nice indeed, did not try to make excuses & sent me the Latch with expedited shipping gratis.

Sixth I got the Latch & it was very nice indeed.

Seventh I broke one of the clips, pictured above, that hold that little strap-sack/stand-foot to the harness.  This took me less than a week of usage.

Eighth I called up and asked about how to get a replacement.

Ninth and most significantly, they just sent me a whole new Latch system, again with expedited shipping, all for free.

I got it last night, and I am very happy about the whole transaction.  Sure there were some mistakes made, but it was handled in a very professional way and I am indeed one happy customer.  Happier than I would have been had there not been a problem even.

In short, in an age when customer service seems to be eroding on a daily basis, it is really nice to do business with a company that tries to treat their customers well.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


So I took the plunge & bought an iPad a few weeks back.  It is a complete game-changer.  I find myself doing things with it that I never really expected.  The things that I did expect - using it to read books, watch movies, TV-shows and listen to music, podcasts & audiobooks - basically the stuff that I used to use my iPhone for - yes, I am doing that.   So much so, that I find myself quickly digitizing more media.

Things that I can do rather well with the iPad that I did not expect to be so good, if indeed exist at all, include image editing, audio editing, music mixing, actual software development with run-time engines, network scanning, and distance learning.

The Killer App for me is remote desktop.  I have been experimenting with TeamViewer.  This is Great Stuff.  Being able to bring up my home computer and keep it busy all day is a real performance enhancer.  I am coming up with more and more batch jobs to run every day.  Having an idle computer is like having a lazy, freeloading child.  You need to keep them constantly engaged.

I have opted out of iCloud.  When MobileMe dries up I will be all the way out.  I have started moving my data out of GoogleDocs also.  It was a fun ride, but the "Cloud" is growing murky.  At the end of the day it is all about ad revenue and Google+ is all about trying to get the same kind of ad money that Facebook gets.  This is because advertisers want to know all about you, so that they can sell you things.

iCloud is not like that, but they are far more insidious.  I see no reason to automatically publish anything that is snapped by the camera in my phone and I certainly am not giving up control of all of the Contact information that I have.  That more than anything is extremely ominous.  I can think of several malicious uses of that kind of information and I can't really think of any up-side beyond the simple laziness of avoiding having to sync your devices at the end of each day.

Another major complaint is the price of media.  Apps are generally speaking, reasonably priced.  I think that $10 for a highly functional piece of software is a very fair price.  I will use that for hours & hours and so the value is there.  TV Shows however are ridiculous.  Someone in that pipeline is price gouging big-time.

On a related topic, has Marvel Comics completely lost their minds with the on-line distribution of comics?  When an eBook costs the same as the printed comic, what is the value proposition?  It isn't like you can collect eComics.  There is no resale value later.  How do they justify that?  Let's face it, only 1/2 of the reason why people collect comics has to do with the art & story-lines.  The other 1/2 is the appreciation curve as the comics gradually grow in value over time.  This is not going to happen with bits...

Ironically one thing that I could not do was to upload an image to this blog.  You can only do that from an Android phone if you use Google+...  So now that the peer-pressure era of social networking is winding down, the free services model is now ramping up as leverage to make people exchange privacy for access to web applications.

I also found a hole in the theory of the "PostPC world" that Tim was talking about during the Apple Keynote.  When I save a song that I recorded in GarageBand on the iPad, I can't save it to the playlist.  In fact none of my applications allow me to add anything to the song database.  (i.e. anything playable with the Music App)  To do that I need to sync to a computer, where I am allowed to drag the mp3 files from one folder to the other.  Then I can resync & they are added to the song database.  So my computer is essentially my only way out of the Walled Garden.  It's only unique functions now are XCode and the ability to drag to/from a protected playlist.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

OTOH BF1943 R0xx0rs

OK SRSLY?  No RLY.  Dude.

So I am 40 hours into playing Battlefield 3 now.  Why do I keep playing a game that I hate so much?  Mostly because I hate how difficult it is.  I've gone on about that way too much already.  The problems still remain and you learn to work through them as you gain familiarity with all of the diverse game mechanics involved with the whole BF3 experience.

On The Other Hand... I got 3 things with my BF3 game:

  1. A pass to play online without getting bonked for an additional $10 (that apparently you have to pay if you rent the game!?)
  2. Downloadable content:  Return to Karkand & the Advanced Ballistics whatever...
  3. Downloadable content: Battlefield 1943 - The Whole Game
Perhaps in one of the mildly hallucinatory pits of my slightly disturbing adrenaline curves that seem to accompany playing this game I started poking at BF1943.


This is a Whole Different Experience!  Certain things are missing, sure: Crawling on the ground fully prone, quick-switch to pistol when you're out of ammo & animations showing who killed you & most noticeably the Knife

However - and this is a weird thing to find myself saying - the graphics not being so intense actually makes the game more enjoyable.  The stark noon-day-beach lighting applied to every map - the absence of the 1,001 distracting little animated objects blowing around - and the higher contrast of the enemies against their background - all of these contribute to what amounts to an easier game.

I have been playing this more or less exclusively now for several days and I find myself getting just as engaged in it, but I don't get stressed out by it.  Interestingly the voice-overs don't seem to include the word 'fuck' at all - whereas in BF3 every sentence uses it as punctuation.  I find it odd that I even notice that but the absence of it is conspicuous when you switch from one to the other.

I am certain that I picked up BF1943 faster because of the intensity of learning to aim & run & throw grenades in BF3 in live combat.  Ironically I love the tutorial mode in 1943.  This is a deal-changer.  If they simply added a similar tutorial mode in BF3 where you can walk around a base & try out all kits & all of the vehicles - on their own - the game would be far more enjoyable for beginners and casual players when people played on-line.

The only thing that I can point out as being weird and negative is the odd sort of Japanese stereotypes that seem to appear in the graphics.  I try to ignore it as there is nothing that is distinctly offensive - but it is very very weird and surreal.