Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

All stove up

November 27, 2019

The HAL 9000 unit effects repairs upon the Frigidaire 666 unit.
Photo: Hal Walter

The Retro-Grouch, Continued: Some people, and the devices they devise, can be too smart for their own good.

And more importantly, for ours.

Case in point: My man Hal up in Weirdcliffe just replaced a $200 control-board/keypad widget in his $1,500 Frigidaire oven for the third time, after being ovenless since March 29. He’s slightly over it, but consoles himself with the knowledge that had he employed the local appliance-repair dude to do the job(s), he’d be out another six hundy or so.

Next time around he may fix it for good.

“If this thing breaks down again, I will shoot it full of holes,” he said. “The backside of this fucker looks like the wiring to the starship Enterprise.”

And why is that, d’you suppose? What do we require of an oven? That it boldly go where no one has gone before? Nope. That it bake things, and roast things, and broil things, and not take eight months off per annum, amirite? What do we need for that? Heating coils, a thermostat, and knobs to make it all hop, yeah?

My old Whirlpool double-decker uses analog knobs and is about as smart as an Iowa Republican. The knob that sets the clock is missing. Happily, unlike an Iowa Republican, I know what time it is.

And unlike Hal, I never have to crawl into the backside of the fucker with a toolbox, like Scotty, with Kirk hollering into his communicator.

“Captain, I canna make ’er cook nae faster! She’s about to blow!”

Channel surfing

November 12, 2019

TV or not TV? In this case, it’s definitely TV.

Any of yis care to weigh in with a recommendation for a new TV that’s not insane?

I’m hunting one for the mom-in-law, who needs it for the new digs. Nothing huge, probably a 43-incher or under, and preferably a model with easily navigated menus and a remote that doesn’t look like the dashboard of the Millennium Falcon. Just your basic Ralph Spoilsport model, a personal remote-controlled, picture-sized color TV, with matching brass knobs, the kind where you reach above the bar and press the button right there under the handy laminated imitation-masonite Wild West gun rack with the look of real wood, for the channel of your choice.

We’re dealing with the elderly and feeble-minded here, which is to say me, a guy who hasn’t set up a new TV in the better part of quite some time.

Thanks for the insurrection, and now back to our morning concert of afternoon showtime favorites — the Magic Bowl movement from Symphony in C Minus by Johann Amadeus Matetsky.

The Terminator is a wordsmith

October 13, 2019

Sweetheart, give me rewrite … and an oil change.

Ho boy. There goes the neighborhood. The Poindexters are building the next Billy Shakespeare out of 1s and 0s.

In this piece for The New Yorker, John Seabrook wonders:

Could the machine learn to write well enough for The New Yorker? Could it write this article for me? The fate of civilization may not hang on the answer to that question, but mine might.

Sigh. Remember the good old days, when automatic writing was limited to the spirits or subconscious? I have a feeling this new breed of writer will rely on a different solvent than did its human predecessors.

“Gimme a benzene. Make it a double. I’m stalled on this goddamn novel.”

Powerless

October 9, 2019

“Who turned out the lights? Strike a match, Betty Lou, I can’t see shit.”

Remember the good ol’ days, when you could make magic just by flipping a switch? Communication, refrigeration, information, even transportation, all delivered with a wave of one hand. One finger, actually. No, not that one.

And without burning down half the county, too.

As is often the case, our brethren and sisthren in California are getting a sneak peek at the future this week as PG&E returns them to the Dark Ages, that they may not be barbecued by their desires for communication, refrigeration, information, even transportation.

I wonder how much safer everyone will be with a few million generators busily chugging along next to the woodpiles.

“Crank up the Honda, hon’, ‘Dancing With the Stars’ is coming on!”

• Extra Bonus Snark: Good timing, awarding the Nobel Prize in Chemistry to three scientists behind the lithium-ion battery. We’re gonna need a bigger one, dudes.

‘Revel in your time.’

June 17, 2019

Having more fun than you. Especially if you work in the bike biz.
Photo “shared” from Revel

Ho boy. “Like biking without the work.” Thanks so much, Revel.

I’ll just put the bicycle industry over here, shall I? Next to the buggy whips, Linotypes and rotary-dial phones?

Anybody seen any journalism on what we do with the batteries in all this lovely “green” e-shit when they fail, as batteries do? Can they be recycled? Do they wind up down in WIPP? Or do we just launch them into space?

e-DWI

May 31, 2019

The operator of this gas-powered scooter was appallingly sober.

In less than a week after rentable electric scooters hit the mean streets of Albuquerque, we’ve collected our first e-DWI. ¡Salud!

I suppose we could look on the bright side here. Had our early adopter not gotten popped for allegedly e-scooting under the influence — the cops say she got all beered up at Marble Brewery and had planned to hit at least one more grog shop downtown — she probably would’ve clambered into her land yacht and driven home to Belen, an hour or so to the south, depending on how many ditches and medians one inspects en route.

Or tried to, anyway. ¿Quien sabes? Having had some small experience in these matters I expect it’s a lot easier to hide one’s impairment from the John Laws behind the tinted windows of a four-wheeled Ford than on one of their two-wheeled throwaways.

Stock options

May 4, 2019

“Stock” art. That’s a publishing joke, son!

What can society do with some well-heeled, ne’er-do-well swell like Mark Zuckerberg, who persists in skullduggery, but unlike your corner dime-store hood has a fine-proof wallet and thinks a cell is something the rubes use to check Facebook?

How about a stint in the stocks? If we can’t shame him, or slammer him, let’s slime him. Food for thought, que no?

Yes, yes, yes, it’s another exciting episode of Radio Free Dogpatch. Grab a basket of rotten eggs, warm up your pitching arm, and take your place in line.

Hur-ry, hur-ry, hur-ry, step right this way! It’s showtime!

P L A Y    R A D I O    F R E E    D O G P A T C H

• Technical notes: This episode was recorded with an Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB microphone and a Zoom H5 Handy Recorder. I edited using Apple’s GarageBand on a 2014 MacBook Pro. The music is some medieval Viking ditty from Kyster at Freesound.org. It may have been performed by these dudes here. Other sounds liberated from Apple’s iMovie library. Tim Cook will probably have me put in the stocks for that, if Pøbel doesn’t beat him to it, but they’ll have to catch me first.

Get bent

February 26, 2019

From February 1968, when bending a phone took a little more than
a bored engineer and/or an attitude problem.

I’ve wanted to bend my phone a time or two. But the urge usually passes.

Polishing the Apple

January 9, 2019

The “new” iPhone 5.

I may be smashing the State today, but yesterday I was helping Tim Cook turn Apple around.

No, I didn’t buy one of the new Minis, or even a new-used iPhone.

I had the battery replaced in the old iPhone 5. Set me back all of fiddy magic beans.

You’re welcome, Timmy old hoss. Don’t spend it all in one place.

I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon

January 3, 2019

No wonder the Chinese aren’t wasting their money on iPhones. They’ve been saving their pennies to debut a Pink Floyd space opera.