Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Housekeeping notice

December 5, 2018

Here’s your head, there’s the keyboard, what’s your hurry?

The Wizards of WordPress are preparing a switch to “a new, modern publishing experience” called Gutenberg.

Having been through a number of new, modern publishing experiences during my association with WordPress in self-hosted, custom, and WP-hosted iterations, I anticipate a few hitches in the ol’ gitalong here at the Duke City Chuckle Hut.

I’ve been pretending this is not happening, the way a cat does with anything it deems out of order, but the guys at DrunkCyclist tell me that the bomb could drop this week. If you’re so inclined you can read more about the grand-do and foofaraw at MarTech Today (thanks and a tip of the Mad Dog propeller beanie to Nick W. for the head’s-up).

The bigshots are supposed to have access to a plug-in that lets them revert to the classic editor, but I’m not sure that option will be available to those of us slumped in the cheap seats.

So if for some reason you can’t find me here, look for me at my old Blogger bunker, which I’ve dusted off for this oh-so-special occasion.

A bit of InSight

November 26, 2018

Well, now that we’ve made a mess of this place, I see we’re scoping out some new real estate.

Mars looks like a fixer-upper to me — “Kansas without the corn,” say mission scientists — so no doubt we’ll get a good price and a hell of an interest rate.

I don’t expect we’ll get the damage deposit back on this rental, though.

Hope the new neighbors are cool. Hey, look, the Welcome Wagon! Ack ack ack!

 

O, Canada

October 2, 2018

Houston, we have a problem: Robot brothels.

From our You Can’t Make This Shit Up Department comes this sordid tale of e-hoes (iHoes?) in a town that’s up to its tits in the old-school flesh-and-blood models.

At the root of the problem is Kinky S Dolls, a Canadian outfit that claims to be the first AI sex-doll outfit to offer test drives. Seems our horny neighbor to the north wants to bend Houston over for its initial thrust into the U.S. market.

Hold your whoreses, say local Christians, coppers and politicos.

“This is not the kind of business I would like to see in Houston, and certainly this is not the kind of business the city is seeking to attract,” says Mayor Sylvester Turner.

And the not-for-profit group Elijah Rising has begun a “Keep Robot Brothels Out of Houston” online petition “that as of Monday had more than 12,600 signatures.” according to The Guardian.

But this is Texas, goddamnit, and at least one columnist says the goldurned gummint has no bi’ness telling a fella what to do with his tallywhacker and his android love muffin (the pearl-necklace metaphor seems particularly apt in this instance).

Anyway, just think of the jobs! No, not that kind of job, the other sort, which come to think about it is not that different from the kind you’re thinking of, especially if you’re the one who has to clean up the rent-a-robot between clients. It’s enough to give a fella the blues.

Hit it, Steve:

And they say Texas weather’s always changin’
And one thing change’ll bring is somethin’ new
And Houston really ain’t that bad a town
So you hang around with the Fort Worth blues

Another bite of the Apple

September 13, 2018

The iPhone 5. Sure, it’s old. So am I.

It’s that time of year again. Another golden delicious has fallen from the tree in Cupertino. Several of them, actually.

There’s the latest iteration of the Apple Watch, of course. Apple is always Watching lately. I have a Timex Ironman that’s so old I don’t recall exactly how or when I acquired it, and we get along fine. It doesn’t inform on me to the State or the Medical-Industrial Complex, and I don’t reset it with a hammer.

The Timex Ironman takes a licking and … yeah, yeah, awright, OK, I toldja I was old.

And then there are the new iPhones. Once the size of a wallet, they’re now as big as a purse, and the rubes will empty both to buy even the cheapest of them.

That would be the iPhone Xr, which goes for the low low price of $749 for the 64GB model. I imagine the 128GB model will be more popular, so tack on another fiddy for the additional selfie storage.

OK, lessee now, what can I get for my 2012 iPhone 5?

Apple GiveBack chirps: “Based on what you’ve told us, you’ve got $25 in trade-in value. We’ll happily turn it into a refund once we verify the condition of your device.” This is mildly insulting — not just the low-ball offer, but the language, which implies I’m trying to screw Apple instead of the other way around. But as a trillion-dollar company Apple doesn’t really need me and this dry peck on the cheek is all the foreplay a mutt like me is gonna get.

Hmm. Based on what I’ve told them, I have an iPhone 5 that turns on, with an enclosure and screen in good shape, and buttons that work. So I think I’ll keep using it until a critical number of those things are no longer true. How d’ye like them apples, Apple?

A love-hate relationship

May 25, 2018

Winter Table | self-portrait by The Burning Hell

This is why I love the Innertubes: You can hear something delightfully off the wall on the local NPR affiliate, look it up with a few strokes on the keyboard, and discover an entire band of Canadian weirdos you didn’t know existed. Well done to Peggy Hessing, who was spinning the platters during Friday’s Afternoon Freeform.

I’m particularly fond of the lyric: “Life is a comedian who used to be funny but then became a born-again Christian. Now it’s all punch and no punch lines and he calls his routine his mission. And he doesn’t understand the difference between laughing at and laughing with him.”

This is why I hate the Innertubes: Your “smart” hardware can use it to rat you out.

Siri chirped some inanity at me once when I had a lot of balls in the air and I told her to shut the fuck up. “I’d never talk to you like that,” she replied. You can say that again. But she can’t. I turned her off.

 

Danger, Will Robinson

May 10, 2018

“Call Uber, see if they’ve got those flying cars up and running yet.
I’d like to get the hell out of here.”

Remember when Google’s motto used to be “Don’t be evil?”

Those were good times, hey? ’Scuse me, I need to take this call. Hi, Dr. Smith!

Asked for comment, Skynet-Palantír-Magic 8-Ball CEO Sauron DeGreate said, “Eye have no idea what you’re so excited about. That’s a joke, I say, that’s a joke, son! Say hello to Siri for me.”

Losing Face(book)

March 20, 2018

“No sir, I don’t like it.”

Mr. Horse was nobody’s fool. I bet he never signed up for a Facebook account. You may argue that this is because he’s a cartoon character, but then so is Il Douche, and he’s all over Twitter. There, I’ve run rings around you logically.

A status update from Mike Keefe at the Colorado Independent.

Over at Wired, Brian Barrett argues that Facebook “has been a poor steward of your data, asking more and more of you without giving you more in return — and often not even bothering to ask. It has repeatedly failed to keep up its side of the deal, and expressed precious little interest in making good.”

And at CNET, Sharon Profis goes a step further, recommending that users cash out of Mark Zuckerberg’s casino, and showing them how to do it.

I croaked my Facebook account some time back after not using it in a good long while, and I haven’t used Twitter since the new year began. Snapchat, Instagram and LinkedIn are likewise safely in the DogMobile’s rear-view mirror.

Some critics will sniff and observe that I’m simply antisocial, and what keen observers they are, too. But as Profis notes, there are plenty of other ways to stay in touch with friends (texting, email, chatting over a cup of coffee).

Why, you might even start a blog with all the free time you’ll suddenly be enjoying. Be sure to send us a link. No, not on Facebook.

• Late update: Want to erase yourself from the Internet? It ain’t easy, says Abby Ohlheiser.

• Even later update: At The Guardian, Arwa Mahdawi recommends deleting Facebook at the very least. “The recent revelations about Cambridge Analytica are an important wakeup call that we are all living with the sociopolitical consequences of surveillance capitalism. We are, I think, at a critical moment where the degree of corporate surveillance to which we are all subjected can either get much better, or much worse. So, I would urge you to extricate yourself from social media as much as you can.”

The Return of the Cone of Silence

March 12, 2018

Get Smart. No, really, I mean it.

And about time, too. I’m tired of listening to the technologically besotted as they totter hither and yon, chattering boisteriously with their invisible friends. Send them to Coventry.

Bad Apples

February 7, 2018

The not-so-smart speaker setup in the kitchen at El Rancho Pendejo.

Apple has gotten a bit of the old spankity-spank from The New York Times over the longevity of its iPads and the functionality of its HomePods.

John Herrman grouses that his 5-year-old iPad Mini “hasn’t been used up; it’s just too old.” And the HomePod — Ms. Siri in particular — is expensive, unfinished and “tough to recommend,” according to consumer-tech reporter Brian X. Chen.

Ooo, snap, as the kool kidz don’t say anymore.

I have the exact same iPad Mini and it was demoted some time back to serving up music in the kitchen while I butcher NYT Cooking’s recipes. Like Herrman, I was disappointed in the Mini’s early decline from full functionality, mostly because I liked its portability and small size for nighttime, one-handed reading (the right hand is reserved for scratching the Turk’s ears).

But I can’t say I was surprised, because the iPad always struck me as Apple’s pricey idea of a consumer content-consumption gadget intended to be replaced, not revived.

I was late to the iPad, just as I was to the iPhone. It struck me as unnecessary, and still does in a lot of ways. Using one to write, edit, blog, or work any sort of audio/visual project involves workarounds and compromises. And to do any of these things at all, even badly, you pretty much have to add a couple adapters and an external keyboard-slash-case, which adds to the cost and complexity and basically makes the iPad a sort of half-assed laptop.

That said, I’m on my third iPad, because as you know, I will never be smart.

The first, an iPad 2, retired to the Walter household up Weirdcliffe way, where thanks to a rambunctious youngster they were light on portable computing technology. The Mini, as we have observed, plays my iTunes library in the kitchen. And No. 3, a 9.7-inch iPad Pro from 2016, mostly sits (with its keyboard case, because of course the fucking thing needs a keyboard case) on the nightstand, next to the bed, in which it has proven a cumbersome one-handed e-book reader.

A $100 Amazon Kindle Paperwhite would probably suit me just fine for that. But remember, I create as well as consume, and in a pinch I can actually do paying work with the iPad while traveling (I once updated the blog from a tent in Arizona, using an iPhone).

I didn’t have a HomePod in that tent, and I don’t expect to have one in the house anytime soon either. The whole Smart Home/Internet of Things deal gives me the creeps. I already wonder whether the Apple TV is watching us as much as we watch it, and I sure as hell don’t need the stereo, toaster and ’fridge to be finking for the State.

Anyway, I already have a nifty little JBL Clip 2 speaker Bluetoothed to the Mini. Forty-two smacks it cost me.

Hey, Siri, do I look any smarter to you now?

Technology Tuesday

January 16, 2018

When I was a copy boy in the mid-’70s this was one of my babies.
Ding! Ding! Ding! Photo liberated from UPI

I’ve embraced antisocial media in 2018.

Facebook? Don’t care how it rejiggers itself, my account stays croaked. Ditto for Instagram and Snapchat, the latter of which I never did figure out, because apparently as a senile old goat I’m not supposed to.

And a couple weeks into the new year I can’t say I miss Twitter, either. That account remains open, but unused as of Jan. 1.

I enjoyed the service once. At 140 characters it reminded me of headline writing, which was always one of my favorite parts about deskwork.

Even at twice that its immediacy reminded me of the wire services. Man, you’d hear those bells ring in the teletype room — Ding ding ding ding ding! — and you knew instantly that some shit was hitting the fan somewhere.

But there were those long stretches of not much going on, too, just the machinery mindlessly punching out dreck from drones that nobody was ever going to read, not even the copy boy, and that’s what Twitter has become for me. More characters and fewer characters, all at the same time.

Now if I crave to inspect the latest outrage from Sir Orange of Golf, I have to go looking for it, which mostly I don’t.

And yes, the reverse QWERTY dent in my forehead is healing nicely. Thanks for asking.