Monday 31 October 2011

Not really life with a dumbphone

One of the worst things on the Internet is attempting to outgeek geeks. Only one thing is worse, and that is trying to out-hipster hipsters.

For the uninitiated, I'll try to define "hipster" (in its Internet sense) a little more concisely than Wikipedia and UrbanDictionary.
A hipster is someone who actively rejects the mainstream, and a large part of the reasoning is that the idea of a "mainstream" seems to run counter to their need to stand out from the teeming, unwashed masses who have seemingly been brainwashed into their 'preferences'.
I (try to) pass no value judgement on hipsters, as sometimes I can come across similarly (being a Bieber-hater, for e.g., although I try to convince myself that it's because he's shite.)

And yet, when I try to draw on other people's experiences in a life with a dumbphone, I come across examples that are either not really dumbphone enough (GPS? Music? Podcasts? WTF?), or way too smartphone-hating.

The problem with the first linked post is that the blogger's reaction is a little extreme. He tries out a Moto Cliq tied to T-Mobile, and after a terrible first experience, continues to do the exact same thing! He then moves on to a Huawei Comet (again with T-Mobile), and has an even worse experience, promptly pronounces renunciation of smartphones, and goes for an LG "feature"-phone. Which can still do GPS, music and podcasts.

So it's not really "life with a dumphone", but more like "life with a non-shitty phone and service provider, but let's start small". He's basically gone hipster without knowing it.

My issue with the second linked post (in two parts, One and Two) is that it is phenomenally hipster, in that it denounces the typical smartphone user as being a socially inept person in real life, who dumps all over real-world relationships, based on a survey done by a phone systems company ("81 percent of survey participants said they would prefer being single and keeping their smartphones!", "on average, an adult spent nine hours a day playing with a smartphone and only about 27 minutes per day talking with their significant others!") Except that the study it cites was an April Fool's gag, as confirmed by the company in question on their blog. There's an important lesson in there about getting your data from the right sources, as well.

After having to forcibly live with a "proper" dumbphone, it is a little strange that there is such little chronicling of such experiences. Ah well, if the mountain will not come to Muhammad...

The Metallica "Angry soon-to-be-ex Fan" is stupid

Nearly everything in this "Open Letter To Metallica from an Angry soon-to-be-ex Fan" is either wrong, misguided or plain foolish.

What have Metallica said or done that betrays a lack of concern or knowledge about the fans feelings? Their news update is pretty clear (IMHO), and just about stops short of an apology. What more do you want them to do? You're taking them to task for not wanting to perform in a - by your own admission - "shitty venue"? And you're mad at them for this? To paraphrase the hackneyed t-shirt slogan, "They've upped their standards. Up yours." :-)

Spirit of personal integrity? Laugh and a half, that one. "Put on our headphones and tear shit up"? Well, that's what the Metallica 'fans' did at the concert venue, and look how well that worked out for them.

Saying "we can behave like idiots because you do too" is far too childish for someone in the age-range of the average Metallica fan.

The absolute kickers were these lines:
See…you shouldn’t toy with the affections of people who love your music…they will react like homicidal lovers. They will set u on fire.
..followed shortly by:
Heavy metal is supposed to represent a spirit of rebellion and independent expression but it seems like you expect less from your fans.

There are strangely unsettling parallels between the thinking that drives this blog post, and the apologists for the London rioters.

Tuesday 19 July 2011

Gotta get down on Sunday

  1. Take a train to tiny speck of a station.
  2. Trek through the Sussex country-side on roads without sidewalks.
  3. Step back into the late 18th/early 19th century of railways.
  4. Hop aboard a choo-choo train.
  5. Stare at guy in dirty overalls shovelling coal into the firebox of ancient steam locomotive.
  6. Inhale coal gas fumes in moving train.
  7. Gawk at adverts for companies, brands and products long since extinct.
  8. Take shortcut across a meadow that turns out to be grazing lands.
  9. Watch woolly and shorn sheep gambol.
  10. Marvel that gambolling doesn't just happen in books.
  11. Wade through a slushy path to a delightful little patch of green.
  12. Curse at rain for threatening to deprive a day of its cricket.
  13. Rejoice at the senior citizen players deciding to play anyway.
  14. Rejoice even more at the clouds relenting and deciding to let the sun through.
  15. Get picture taken with one of the finest commentators of all time.
  16. Laze through a cricket match with a pint of bright Sussex ale.
  17. Laugh at random commentator who keeps quietly asking spectators and players the names of the batsmen and bowlers.
  18. Shoot the breeze about cricket obscuridae with genuine lovers of the game.
  19. Run back through aforementioned meadow to catch taxi and train back home.
  20. Feel like a character out of a chilled out Enid Blyton novel.
  21. Crash.
Best. Sunday. Ever.

Tuesday 12 July 2011

Showing the URL protocol in the Firefox address bar

A fair amount of people seem to be using Firefox Aurora.

Unfortunately, the latest Aurora 7.0a2 build (as of tonight - 12th July, 2011) has enabled a 'feature' as part of the Firefox team's efforts to copy Google Chrome's efforts at being different: they have gone and disabled showing the "http://" (the protocol) part of the URL.

I was dreading the day this would come to my beloved Firefox - but fortunately, Firefox retains the ability to make quick, under-the-hood changes using about:config.

Here's how you go about ensuring your URL bar isn't screwed around with:
  1. Go to about:config
  2. Find the value called browser.urlbar.trimURLs
  3. Double-click and toggle it's value to false
And that's that!

Friday 1 July 2011

Suspicious Gmail IMAP Activity

Quick note for future reference: if your Gmail activity window shows frequent IMAP access from the United States IP, don't panic (as I did initially).

It's just your Nokia phone polling Gmail for new mails. That IP resolves to

Just FYI. And FMI.

Monday 20 June 2011

Kurt Vonnegut is awesome. And very scary.

I finished reading Slaughterhouse-Five on a Sunday night.

Monday morning, the better half informs me of weird bed-side behaviour and ramblings about time travel.

I then flip through my phone, and realise I'd typed this out in the "Notes" section, reproduced verbatim (except for the timestamp bit; that was generated by the phone)

Date: Monday, 20th June, 2011
Time: 00:21

Time is like a fractal tree. The past is always the trunk, the future always the branches, and the present is always the junction of the two.

To the simple mind, time can be visualised as an endless 3-dimensional matrix of amber. And every moment of our lives is captured in it as bugs. Except we are all the bugs, in every direction. But our actual physical manifestation can only be one point in time, because is is not a spatial dimension!

This seems to make sense at some points, but is also disturbingly out of reach to my conscious mind and brain. Hence recorded here.

What. The. FRACK?!

Dear Mr. Vonnegut: what have you made me smoke, and may I please have some more?

Friday 8 April 2011

Sending all the wrong signals

From BusinessInsider:

The investment banking career path is now even more attractive than it was before the financial crisis, when it drew 9 percent of the class of 2008.

Shortly after the dot-com bust at the turn of the millenium, I was able to waltz into any computer/IT course as there were suddenly no takers for an industry that had caved in on itself. It would be 2005 at least, till people considered a career in tech a good option.

And now, despite the entire global economy coming to a grinding halt not two years back because of the investment banking industry shenanigans, students are flocking to it in greater droves than before.

Why? (My theory follows.)

The bailouts. "Privatise profits, socialise losses" has found a large number of takers (surprise, surprise), and the concept of "high risk, high reward" is only an abstraction now. Now that the US government has clearly indicated that highly risky behaviour will definitely be punished with a stern warning and a slap on the wrist, MBAs around the world are essentially going "cha ching!" with the cartoon-y cash symbols in their eyes.

I'm all for the the government showing that failure in business ventures is not a cardinal sin, but most certainly against fostering blatantly amoral behaviour.