Archive for the ‘Rants’ Category

Filed Under (Internet, Rants, Social Media) by Sean on July-23-2009

I am so sick and tired of classmates.com’s bullshit I decided to write a quick blog post about it. My biggest gripe about it is the fact that you cannot read your own guest book that others sign without paying for a Gold membership. This flies smack-dab in the face of what social networks are all about. Having grown weary of this charade after not being able to read several guestbook entries compounded by the spam I’ve received from classmates telling me someone has left a note and that I have to pay to retrieve it, I decided to update my classmates.com profile page. I assumed that I could provide at least a modicum of contact information, such as a blog link, or even links to other social network profile pages. Nowhere is there a predetermined place on your profile where you can enter such contact information. I decided instead to create an entry on my “Bulletin Board” (equivalent I suppose to Facebook’s Wall).  Here’s what I wrote:

Find me on facebook or my blog. I do not check classmates.com since they want you to pay in order to read what people have written you. Find me on Facebook at http://facebook.com/maslowbeer or my blog at http://seanstoner.com. Thanks for stopping by!

Immediately after submitting the bulletin board post, the site displayed a notice that my post had been hidden because I included website addresses, personal contact info or innapropriate language. So, I obfuscated the website addresses using the typical facebook dot com slash maslowbeer scheme. Seems classmate’s programmers have been very busy in detecting these schemes due to all the incredibly harmful content that has been posted such as links to facebook, because it detected these as links as well. The notice also told me that classmates.com was trying to create something that was “friendly for everyone.” Right.  Included was a link for me to submit the post for manual review by their “Content Policy Team” with a field for me to enter additional comments. So I took advantage of that and sent them this comment:

Seriously – every social network allows you to include contact information so people can find you and learn more about you. That’s the whole point of social networking. But, you choose instead to extort money from people to read what people have sent you, and add insult to injury by not allowing me to put up links to my profile on other networks or my personal blog. Your reasoning “to make classmates friendly for everyone” is complete and utter bullshit. I hope you guys get with the program. There’s a reason facebook is worth several billion dollars as a free site and your chicken-shit site isn’t. Finis.

It should be entertaining to see what their Content Policy Politburo has to say in response. I will post it here when I receive it!

Does everyone else hate classmates.com as much as me? Share your story in the comments below!

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Filed Under (Politics, Rants) by Sean on February-9-2009

I felt it important to write this quick post about what I believe it really means to be Liberal. I always find it amusing that the people who use the label pejoratively seem to be somehow divinely knowledgeable about its definition. They like to use definitions that frame it as an ideology that is counter to their own. They use it to be divisive. I’m here to say they’re dead wrong.

Let’s start with the dictionary definition:

lib·er·al (lÄ­b’É™r-É™l, lÄ­b’rÉ™l)  adj.

    1. Not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry.
    2. Favoring proposals for reform, open to new ideas for progress, and tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; broad-minded.
    3. Of, relating to, or characteristic of liberalism.
    4. Liberal Of, designating, or characteristic of a political party founded on or associated with principles of social and political liberalism, especially in Great Britain, Canada, and the United States.
    5. Tending to give freely; generous: a liberal benefactor.
    6. Generous in amount; ample: a liberal serving of potatoes.
    7. Archaic Permissible or appropriate for a person of free birth; befitting a lady or gentleman.
    8. Obsolete Morally unrestrained; licentious.
    1. Tending to give freely; generous: a liberal benefactor.
    2. Generous in amount; ample: a liberal serving of potatoes.
    3. Archaic Permissible or appropriate for a person of free birth; befitting a lady or gentleman.
    4. Obsolete Morally unrestrained; licentious.
  1. Not strict or literal; loose or approximate: a liberal translation.
  2. Of, relating to, or based on the traditional arts and sciences of a college or university curriculum: a liberal education.
    1. Archaic Permissible or appropriate for a person of free birth; befitting a lady or gentleman.
    2. Obsolete Morally unrestrained; licentious.
  1. A person with liberal ideas or opinions.
  2. Liberal A member of a Liberal political party.

[Middle English, generous, from Old French, from Latin līberālis, from līber, free; see leudh- in Indo-European roots.]
lib’er·al·ly adv., lib’er·al·ness n.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
Copyright © 2006 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

Read it over. Carefully. Especially read the first definition. Not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry.

Read it again. THAT is what being liberal is all about. It is ruthlessly independent. Not trying to apply the same policies and ideas to differing situations and different contexts. Different realities require different approaches.  This is the core of being liberal. Being liberal is not about “big government” or “welfare society” or anything like that. It is not about confusing correlation with causation. It is not about using rhetoric and divisive labels to plant prejudicial narratives in people’s minds. After all, there is nothing inherently bad about big government any more than there is something inherently bad about a large gun; though, to be honest, I still don’t know what the hell big government means any way. To me it’s kind of like saying, “Big football is bad. Big companies are bad.” Uh, sure. It’s intellectually dishonest and lazy. It’s pandering. How easy it is to paint such a broad stroke and completely discount the human element within. How easy it is to ignore the complexities of reality, of systems, of chaos, and simply say it’s all bad because it’s easier that way. Instead, what being liberal is about is doing what works given the situation. It’s about critically thinking about issues in context, applying analysis and some semblance of scientific method where appropriate, and crafting policy to put action behind the hypotheses derived from those activities.

Dogma is this: you have a square peg. There may be a square hole, in which case you’re in good shape. You may have a round hole, in which case you still try to fit the square peg through it. In case that doesn’t work, you take some C4 and blow a big enough hole so you can insert the square peg. This epitomizes GOP thinking. It’s all about laissez faire, no government, no regulation, the market is divine arbiter of all things good, blah blah blah all the time, no matter what is happening in the world around them. Being liberal is to say, “Hey, we like the Friedman school of economics so long as it applies to the macroeconomic realities surrounding it.” BUT, when you have zero percent interest rates and economic stagnation and a domino effect of economic collapse going on, you dust off the book from the Keynes school and start applying the lessons learned there. It’s balanced. It’s not about big vs. small government or any of that, so much as conservatives love to play those frames over and over and over again. It’s about doing what’s required given the situation. Finis.

Tuam libera mentem.

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Filed Under (Business, Houston, Rants) by Sean on October-10-2008

(UPDATE) I wanted to take a moment to update this post, since it has been almost three weeks since it was originally authored. We’ve had a virtual group hug through this post, evidenced in the comments below. Let me restate the obvious: Max’s coffee and coffee drinks are the best in Houston,  probably in the top 10% of coffee shops on the planet. I do have to admit I haven’t been back to Catalina yet, but I will be paying Max a visit very soon (mostly to get some beans now that I’ve finally settled into my new place, with espresso machine). Lest there be any doubt, I will frequent Catalina for its off-the-charts lattes and coffee, albeit less frequently than before. The reason for that actually has to do more with my commute and proximity since moving than the fact that Max and I had a tiff or that his electrical outlets are still covered up (and yes, they are still covered up). If I were Max, I wouldn’t have covered the outlets, but it’s his shop and he can do whatever he damn well pleases. And that’s fine by me. Just don’t fuck with the coffee.

As many of my followers know, Catalina Coffee is one of my favorite coffee shops and hang outs. In my opinion, it epitomizes cafe culture (albeit a unique American variant) and has, bar none, the best coffee in Houston, period. In many cases, like many regulars there, I’ll make it by more than once in a day. I’m very sad to say, however, I had an extremely unpleasant experience today.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Ike, it has been extremely difficult to come upon a coffee shop (or anywhere, for that matter) with a) power, b) coffee, and c) wireless Internet access. Catalina was one of the only places in Houston to offer all three, and they did so the day after Ike made it’s appearance in our fair city. None of the local Starbucks were open, and other local coffee shops (Coffee Groundz) that were either had bad coffee, no Internet, or both.

When word got out, Catalina quickly became overwhelmed with new business from Houstonians needing their caffeine fix. It also served as a command center and refuge for many citizens who had no power or Internet at home, who wanted to check the latest status updates from Centerpoint Energy, check on loved ones, and generally go about their business online. Consequently, long lines for coffee and tables overcrowded with laptops became the norm.

Though I’ve made a few appearances at Catalina after the storm for coffee, today I arrived with my fully discharged laptop needing to catch up on a couple of mundane tasks, including paying a few bills and moving utility services to my new residence (incidentally, my old place has power but no Internet; my new place has no power). I was surprised to see all the power outlets had metal plates over them. Suspecting this was a result of Ike-related water damage or some other such safety issue, I inquired when the outlets would be available again. Max (the proprietor) responded, “Never.” He stated the reason was that the environment was getting mob-like and out of control over the last few days as “people were fighting over power outlets” and things of that sort. While I certainly understand the need to mitigate unruly behavior, there are many other ways to go about it. I do have to tip my hat to Max for his ingenuity in solving the supposed “problem;” it was extremely effective. The problem is it unnecessarily penalizes legitimate, regular customers who spend lots of money on coffee and conduct their affairs online. To add insult to injury, he decides to use this “solution” during a time of crisis and when people need to use it the most. It smacks of reactionary behavior and poor business citizenry in the least.  After debating the issue with Max for a few minutes, I seem to have unearthed some far deeper rooted issues that apparently vex Max. I’ll reiterate some of our discourse and let you be the judge.

After getting the “never” response from Max to my question about when we would expect to get the power outlets back (assuming this was a short term fix, even if it was extremely poor timing given the current situation post-Ike), I politely stated that I needed to get some things done on occasion, along with a subtle allusion to my regularity and largesse (not only do I spend lots of money on coffee and am always careful to not take up space unless I’m buying things along the way, but I tip extremely healthy and have referred lots of new people to the establishment).  He said, “bring another battery.” I told him that wasn’t an acceptable solution (a) I don’t have another battery, and b) where am I supposed to have charged these batteries especially if I don’t have power?). His shocked response to that was, “Unacceptable? Are you fucking kidding me? Unacceptable. I can’t believe that.” I told him that especially after Ike in a time of crisis I thought he was betraying his customers’ trust. He stated that he was “tired of people abusing my space. Cafe culture is not sitting down at a coffee shop for three hours.” Really? Are you kidding me? I suppose you have never sat down in a Parisian cafe then. Incredulous and stunned to that response, I told him that I thought the defition of cafe culture was different for everyone and that one should err on the side of what your customers wanted it to be. His response? “Customers? I don’t care what customers want. What matters is what I want. I opened my own shop because of that.” I asked him if he had thought of better ways to address the problem. His very cavalier response was that he had solved the problem and wasn’t really interested in discussing the subject any further. I told him that he was curing cancer by killing cancer patients and there certainly were better ways of addressing the problem.

I have tremendous respect for Max, his craft and his business acumen. He runs a very tight ship that produces a superior product and spares no expense nor takes any short cuts to achieve it. That is a very rare quality that I think more businesses should adopt. I also absolutely appreciate running your own business on your terms and not doing things the way everyone else does. I respect his ingenuity in his approach to the problem, but it is akin to solving email spam by simply only accepting 1 out of 1000 emails to your inbox, regardless of content. If his problem is slim margins from not turning over enough tables, he should address the business model accordingly and raise prices, or charge for wifi, or establish minimums. Ripping out the rug from under customers and biting the hands that feed him is not the proper solution. I am troubled by Catalina’s “solution” on two fronts: 1., the “solution” itself, and 2., the arrogant, cavalier attitude exhibited about the “problem.” I wasn’t aware that working quietly on my laptop for a few hours and spending $20 while I’m there in one sitting was “abusing his space.” In 20 years of starting and running small businesses, I do understand the importance of “firing” bad customers and mitigating abuse. By the same token, however, I have always found it extremely beneficial to the bottom line to err on giving customers the benefit of the doubt and applying the golden rule in abundance. That this decision comes in the highest time of need, makes it especially pernicious.

What do you think?



Filed Under (Politics, Rants) by Sean on April-30-2008

I suppose with all the wars Republicans have going on, such as the war on terror, war on drugs, war on illegal immigration, war on crime, war on gay marriage, war on abortion, war on the environment, war on science, war on education, war on health care, and many others, it should come as no surprise they have been fighting a war on economics since the Reagan era. As successful as Reaganomics has been in widening the gap between rich and poor, skewing the distribution of wealth further into the hands of the few, putting increased burden on the middle class while expecting them to go into debt to consume even more to hold up the economy, stacking up nearly insurmountable federal debt, mortgaging the country with tax cuts for the rich that are eventually paid for by everyone else, making more and more corporate welfare available to poorly run businesses, and making sure that those who have benefited most from the commonwealth don’t have to give anything back so they can pass it on to their spoiled brat children who don’t need it in the first place, there isn’t any reason to stop now!

So, you ask, “what exactly is this war on economics you’re taking about and how do I join the fight?” Well, a perfect, timely example of this is John McCain‘s proposed fuel “tax holiday” with the presumed goal of stimulating the economy while taking some of the bite out of high gas prices. Right. Let’s take a closer look at this proposed legislation, shall we?

The idea is this: we’ve got this giant sucking sound out of people’s wallets with $4 per gallon gasoline, particularly hurting the average, red blooded, good, hard working, god-fearing ‘murican who is driving a 4 ton land yacht. Compounding the issue for this good, middle class ‘murican, is that he (she of course is a stay at home mom, cleaning the floors and putting dinner on the table) lives three states away from work and has to commute for 4 hours each way, giving him even more time to listen to angry, sex-deprived, white men like himself rant on “talk” radio about the fact that it takes so much money to fill up their land yachts and how it’s all the fault of illegal immigrants and communist liberals (especially given the audacity of said latte drinkers to demand things like safety belts, catalytic converters, and bumpers!). They want relief damn it (I’m not talking about from their enlarged prostate here either)!! So, what better than to put a moratorium on federal taxes on gasoline, which amounts to $0.184 per gallon for passenger vehicles and $0.24 per gallon for trucks (the real kind that hauls freight, not your neighbor’s gilded Cataract Escapade).

To see the wisdom of this wonderful idea, let’s first determine what useless entitlements these federal taxes fund. The proceeds go into the highway trust fund to fund infrastructure such as highways, levees, and bridges, which we all know are in completely perfect shape; perfectly omnipotent market forces or the sins of residents of course explain things like Katrina and the Minneapolis bridge collapse, so why waste money on those things? Since we’re in agreement that the US Government has no business interfering in free markets by working on roads and the like, let’s go ahead and see what economic benefits are derived from this wonderful tax holiday.

The first awesome benefit to be derived from the tax holiday is to make refiners and oil companies richer! This is perfect and in accordance with Reaganomics (who undoubtedly is looking down from Peter’s right shoulder and uttering, “it is good.”). How does this ingenious plan accomplish this, you ask. In several ways. First, Americans drive more during the period in which the holiday would be in effect (i.e., summer), creating more demand. Refining capacity is a constant, constricting supply, resulting in increased prices at the pump. Second, a tax holiday may in fact spur good, flag lapel pin wearing ‘muricans into patriotically driving their land yachts rather than other means of travel (or staying home). This increases the demand for gasoline even more, escalating prices. So the net effect is that in all likelihood has prices at the pump would climb back to what they were pre-tax holiday, and adding the difference straight to oil refinery‘s profits. Brilliant!

The next economic benefit is to further mortgage the country since the revenue lost from the tax (not to fund silly entitlements like highway improvements, construction jobs or clean air, but more important things like invading more sovereign nations not run by angry white Christian men) would have to be added to the deficit, likely resulting in the shortfall being borrowed from foreign investors. We can just add this to shortfalls from things like the sub-prime mortgage success, which resulting from eliminating pesky government interference of predatory lending practices (a perfectly moral thing in a free market, right?).

“Wait a minute!” you say. “What about a windfall profit tax excised on oil companies to make up the shortfall?” This was proposed by Hillary Clinton (McBush presumably taking money instead from welfare earmarks such as education and healthcare). This is a great idea! In fact, it falls in perfectly with the other economic benefits listed above. Ronald Reagan, if alive, might leap for joy and secretly vote for Hillary in fact. Companies who will derive no marginal benefit from increased sales due to a windfall tax will of course further restrict supply to result in the optimum mix of revenue/profits such that they would yield the same profits by selling less gasoline. This reduced supply fits in perfect with the above formulas in pushing up prices, yielding no revenue benefit for the government, forcing it again to look elsewhere to make up the shortfall.

So, we continue in good King George Bush fashion with this plan, by decreeing the laws of nature and to hell with nonsensical things such as facts. This is perfectly in alignment with other brilliant Republican strategies, including but not limited to, privatizing Social Security, boundless free trade agreements, pushing abstinence as the sole means to address teen pregnancy, eliminating terrorism by pissing off as many people in the world as possible, and preaching good wholesome science like intelligent design in the classroom.

And my eyes were already welling up with tears from the loss of Premier W. It is good to see that we still have ‘publicans willing to fight the good fight for the constitutional right to have a moron for President. It also shows once again that Senator Obama seems to be the only candidate with the “temerity” to actually critically think complex things (like reality) through rather than take every opportunity to pander to voters.



Filed Under (Politics, Rants) by Sean on April-16-2008

So every once and a while you read something that really fires you up. Yesterday was one of those instances. I was lying in bed, peacefully scrolling through the last several hours of tweets that I had missed while sleeping (in today’s case that would have been between 7 am and 1 pm; yeah, my schedule is that screwed up), and I came across a tweet from @nprnewsblog, whom I follow on Twitter:

nprnewspic4.jpg

Intriguing, I thought, and hardly debatable. I usually read the really controversial stuff and would have typically passed this over completely but thought I would at least get the pulse of what diplomats had to say about the subject. So I clicked on the link. It was a decent account of what, again, seemed to be obvious. Quoted in the article was an excerpt from study by Quinnipiac University professor of public relations Kathy Fitzpatrick:

An overwhelming majority (88 percent) of more than 200 former high-ranking officers in the United States Information Agency who participated in the study said the U.S. is not diplomatically prepared to address ideological threats to U.S. interests in the 21st century …

More than 80 percent of the former USIA officers rated American public diplomacy efforts today as either “poor” or “marginal.” In contrast, more than 80 percent of the former USIA officers rated America’s public diplomacy efforts during the Cold War as “good” or “excellent.”

Sounds good – again, nothing earth shattering. Then I see the following thoroughly well thought out, insightful comment by our good buddy deek:

LOL, what else would we expect from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates?

The center’s of Jihad are supposed to like us?

Sent by deek | 11:01 AM ET | 04-15-2008

Yeah, that got me out of bed. I went straight to the computer, before having any coffee or food (which is a very serious thing for those that know me), and hammered out the following response in 90 seconds:

Boy comments like deek’s show the ignorance and impudence of the neo-conservative’s school yard adolescent bully mindset. You may recall that we actually won the cold war, resoundingly in fact. If the Bushies were in office at the time we would have certainly started WWW3 and none of us would be alive because of it. Even during (failed) shows of force like the Bay of Pigs and crises like the Cuban missile crisis among others, diplomacy shows its deftness of in being able to obtain the net result desired, in spite of these failings. If we took a similar tact in the current terrorism threat, we perhaps could win the war of ideas necessary to ultimately make us safer and ultimately prevail; the current strategy (or lack thereof) is not only ineffective, it does quite the opposite, further fomenting “jihadism.”

It is becoming increasingly clear to me how collectively immature the Bush neocon ideology is. The pre-pubescent school yard bully is an appropriate metaphor. Do you actually want to accomplish greatness in your life and truly lead or is your ego so frail you have to constantly show everyone how bad ass you are? The true leader is one who can show force but never does. Ultimately the bully always ends up at the short end of the stick later in life. Let’s do our best to put the dark days of W behind us and have some intelligent, enlightened leaders do what’s necessary to actually protect our interests rather than continuing our current weak, pathetic, and insipid “war on terror.”

Sent by Sean | 3:38 PM ET | 04-15-2008

So I wasn’t shy and didn’t pull any punches. Even though I suppose I could have taken a few minutes to compose a more proper argument, I still stand by what I wrote. Just when I start to regain some hope about the human condition, I read or hear this type of crap spewing out of some jackass’ mouth and my cynicism resurfaces.

As an inherently progressive species, it appears there are still those amongst us who want to divide us and hold humanity back for their own gain or sense of self worth. I will be writing a lot more about this and other political hot buttons in the coming weeks.

I will forever be optimistic, but it is certainly up to us to pave the way for change. I’m finding in my reading and discussions with other progressives that it is imperative we begin speaking out on our values and vision for America. That is the only way we can reclaim this nation from the grips of the insidious neocon spin machine.

 



Filed Under (Internet, Rants, Technology) by Sean on March-18-2008

I am getting increasingly aggravated at Firefox’s lack of adequate garbage collection. Firefox, over the typical span of usage over several days, or weeks, in which multiple tabs are opened and closed, possibly hundreds of sites visited, cumulatively thousands of JavaScript functions executed, and Flash instances instantiated, begins to consume inordinate amounts of memory. I have seen my Firefox process consume well in excess of a gigabyte, for example, though I’m only looking at 2 or 3 sites simultaneously. When I visit the Firefox IRC channel and inquire about this, as so many have before me, the excuse is given that the poor code written within websites or many memory leaks that plugins like flash and quicktime have are the culprit and are completely outside the responsibility of Firefox and its developers. I don’t buy it. Firefox, by proxy, is the new operating system in today’s world of Internet delivered applications. Thus it is Firefox’s responsibility, in my opinion, to perform aggressive garbage collection and manage memory leaked by wayward processes spawned from within it. In my typical session, where I have two gmail accounts open, and a couple of other tabs open simultaneously, I have to restart Firefox or kill it forcefully every few days it seems. As a Linux user who typically experiences login sessions measured in weeks to months of uninterrupted uptime, this is simply unacceptable. Supposedly version 3, which is currently in beta, addresses these many issues. We will see. I’m sure some of the garbage collection features and fixed memory leaks will undoubtedly help. However I feel the pathology of, “it’s not our problem” is the wrong attitude to take by Firefox developers. They need to step up to the plate as the developers of the Internet operating system of the future and do everything possible to deliver the best user experience possible.

Let’s watch and see what happens.



Filed Under (Business, Rants) by Sean on March-17-2008

I know all the Friedmanist laissez-faire, free marketeers will jump all over my shit about this, but the current financial crisis, and every crisis prior, certainly makes a strong case about tighter regulation of Wall Street. Here’s the recipe: 1 part great wealth creation phenomenon and 1 part Wall Street greed yields a huge serving of crisis. Make no mistake, the Internet bubble wasn’t created by technology companies or entrepreneurs. It was created by greedy financiers and Wall Street. Don’t get me wrong — I certainly hope to have a ridiculous pay day with Wall Street’s help (I had a Wall Street pay day before, but the bubble burst before my section 144 stock was free to trade), which is precisely why I would like more effective oversight to prevent another bubble from bursting in my face.

The Internet bubble would never have been were it not for Wall Street, in my opinion. It would have been an extended, sustainable period of prosperity that awarded innovation (not the “let’s sell $1 bills for 95 cents and make it up in volume” kind of innovation that was improperly awarded during the bubble). The current sub-prime mortgage crisis is another example of a bubble created where none existed. The rose colored glasses on Wall Street were all too willing to give AAA ratings to mortgage backed securities that really were absolute crap. The “greater fool theory” is all too real a phenomenon in the apparent zero-sum game that is Wall Street finance (it doesn’t need to be). The problem is, we’re running out of fools. Additionally, our entire financial system gets downgraded as you can rest assured the fools who got bitten once won’t be back to the trough any time soon. Meanwhile, our currency weakens and more of our debt is in foreign hands.

It seems we repeat history all too often and never learn anything from it. Sorry Gordon Gecko, greed isn’t that great after all.



Filed Under (Geekstuff, Rants, Technology) by Sean on February-28-2008

This is a very minor update to my series of rants about Microsoft’s crappy software.

So as mentioned in the last rant, I was backing up all the data on my Dell laptop before I wipe it clean and install Ubuntu. I left the office yesterday after starting the backup process. I came in today expecting it to be complete. Nope! Guess what? Yep, Microsoft decided it was a better idea to reboot my machine after some very important updates instead of complete my backup. It only backed up 1.7 GB, so now I’ve got to start again . . . . sheesh . . .



Filed Under (Geekstuff, Rants, Technology) by Sean on February-27-2008

If I had a dime for every time . . . . I find myself muttering that often while sitting there waiting for Windows to finish some inane task, whether it’s giving the hard drive a good workout (aka thrashing), wanting to reboot for no good reason, or upon start up where 67 applications combat each other for the computer’s attention thinking they are more important than me, the user. Microsoft Windows is basically a playground for poorly written software that pays no attention to what the user actually wants to accomplish. Literally, while writing this post, my old Windows laptop I’m copying files from before I wipe the drive clean and install Linux has prompted me with no fewer than 4 dialogs insisting I reboot (and I’m not referring to the incessant “Windows must reboot” dialog after a Windows update either).

Some of my favorite work interruptions: “New Wireless Networks found!” [Click the X to close] Ten seconds later “No, really!! New Wireless Networks found! Aren’t you curious?” [click to close again] “No Wireless Connection found.” Christ! Go the fuck away will you?? Even more fun: after manually shutting off the wifi hardware on your laptop, presuming that, uh, you really want it, uh, off, “No Wireless Networks found.” No shit?!? “There’s a new Java Upate!” “Windows required an update to fix one of a gillion vulnerabilities in its shitty software and decided the hell with you and what you were working on and rebooted anyway.” “Warning! Are you sure you want to quit this crappy software? It provides an essential crappy service and should you decide you wanted to use it, it wouldn’t be hogging all your memory and thrashing your hard drive!” Or my favorite quick-launch executables that run at startup so the programs will launch faster: “Hey if you want Word to startup in less time than it takes to run to Starbucks and get coffee, we recommend you run this quick launch utility, also useful in taking up an inordinate amount of memory. This will only add about 23 minutes to your computer’s start up time.” Or “Macafee SuperVirus has decided you were working on something important so it decided to perform some updates and thrash your hard drive so it could squash competing viruses.” I’ve always liked this one with trying to kill wayward processes: “Haha got you! We displayed this task manager process list to make you think you had control over your machine, but the joke is on you. We’ve decided you’re incapable of making decisions and have determined that the process taking up all your memory, hogging your CPU to the point you could scramble eggs on it, and trashing your hard drive within an inch of its life is in fact a process you cannot Kill at this time. Go wash your car or something and check back later.” I love it when you scan the local network to find a Windows share and Windows basically locks up while searching the network for computers; my Ubuntu box does a faster and more thorough job of finding Windows shares than Windows does which is amusing to say the least. Or my very, very favorite: since I usually am on the go, I close my laptop up putting Windows in standby (which works only part of the time – the other part it just stays on and runs down the battery until it’s dead). It’s safe to say when you turn your computer on or bring it out of standby you may actually want to do something really quick, like look up something on the Internet, shoot off a quick email or read a document. Well you can forget that! When I open up the computer and pray to the Steve Ballmer lunatic gods it will come on at all, it’s pretty much a free for all between various programs deciding that there are much more important things to do that don’t involve me at all (again, usually involving intense hard drive, memory and CPU exercise).

This is the first part of many, delving into the innumerable serious deficiencies regarding Microsoft software at a high level. I promise it won’t only be ranting; I will also discuss specific solutions to each of my rants should Mr. Ballmer and his team read my insights. I’ll touch on ideas that would eliminate the above gripes and discuss further annoyances.

Shit, another dialog box. No I do not want to fucking reboot now and will let you know when I do, so please stop asking!



Filed Under (Life, Rants) by Sean on February-27-2008

Ok. Here’s another rant in my mini-series of driver education. The thing you use when you turn or change lanes is called a turn signal or indicator. Not a turn request-for-permission-please or any such thing. It is used to indicate to others your intent, not request permission. Signal that you’re changing lanes and change lanes already. If necessary, alter your speed to match the flow of traffic of the lane into which you’re changing. As a person who uses the turn signal as mentioned, I use it and follow with action immediately. As someone who is driving, I appreciate when others use it similarly. Don’t drive 1 mph slower than me, be 10 car lengths ahead and put on your turn signal and sit there waiting for me to roll out an invitation. Just come over! All traffic will move more smoothly if we adhere to these principles.

Next in my series? A rant on what merging traffic means and how it’s supposed to be done.