Monthly Archives: June 2007

On the mundane dangers of social networking…

I was talking to Brad this morning about Facebook versus Myspace, and he brought up an interesting point. I was talking about how Facebooks features were nice and functional (though the reason I noted it this morning was that the rss-down-my-blog-into-notes feature _wasn’t_ working) while Myspace was definitely leading the population war (case in point, I have found one guy I already knew in an internety way, one guy I know only through his work, and one girl I already knew in an internety way on Facebook; Myspace, I’ve reconnected with four people from my past and could easily connect with more, also my Mom is on there, my Sister, her boyfriend, plus all of the people from Facebook). Regardless of the fact that MySpace sucks four dicks as far as functionality goes, it’s the clear winner in the “social” as well as “networking” categories.

However, the danger I realized was that of syndication. Say I link both of these back to my personal blog. This means that anybody who finds me in one of these will find their way back to my blog. This means that if I bitch about my itchy scrotum one day, my mom, the first girl I french kissed, a guy I don’t really know, some folks who like to eat food, a person who rides fixed gear bikes, etc, will all get pinged with a notice – “Hey, Aaron is bitching about his sack, click here to read!” This isn’t necessarily the reason that I bitched about my dad, nor is it really the reason I wanted to syndicate some of my writing.

My ideal fix for this would be individual category feeds in WordPress (and rss import functions in MySpace), so I could have a “Social” category or something to flag on a post, and Facebook would only pick that one up. So, now I’m off to see if there’s a way to do that.

Cingular is the new AT&T…

I’ve had a love hate relationship with my Cingular 8125/HTC Wizard since I bought it (or more specifically, since it was bought for me by my dad). The keypad slides out in a very tech 1.0 grungy way. The screen doesn’t rotate until the keypad is entirely engaged and “clicks” out. The screen often doesn’t rotate for a couple seconds because it’s doing god knows what. If you click out the keypad while the “screen locked” screen is up, you get to watch a hilarious series of resizes and reorientations on the unlocking keypad while it gets up to speed. The device doesn’t “wake up” when you tap the screen, which is good-ish, but sometimes it doesn’t go to sleep either. So you hit the power button to wake it up and it goes to sleep, and you have to hit it again to get it to wake up. Which is weird and confusing. Sometimes when you lock the screen, it goes into “device lock” mode where you have to enter your code to get it unlocked. Sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it’ll decide that my headset is still OK as a bluetooth device, but not as a headset. So I’ll get a call, hit my headset button, and it’ll answer the call, but the person is talking to my pocket. Fixing this requires fishing out the phone, unlocking the device/unlocking the screen (sometimes both), then hitting Menu, Turn Handsfree On.

In otherwords, it’s as klugey as you’d imagine a phone interface built by Microsoft on Windows CE technology would be.

But this latest thing just rides right up my ass. See, since typing on a thumbpad is as exciting as it is slow, and the mobile IE is shit, and the chat program I use on there is only OK, my primary use for the phone is to dial out on it over bluetooth from my laptop, for EDGE internet. Finding details on how to do that was not too hard, but definitely not on their webpage, nor on Cingulars. That’s still not the big problem. The big problem is, I keep getting booted offline, and the speed when connected is not good. Not bad, but definitely modem territory.

The loss of connectivity is odd, here’s how it happens. I get online, I connect to Gtalk and AIM (through pidgin). It slowly pulls down my contacts. I open up Firefox, it slowly brings up my homepage. I’ll be talking to somebody, like maybe Brad or Fargo, and then they’ll stop responding. I’ll check to see what is going on by going to my work machine, pulling up my Gmail archive, and looking at my chats. Usually, I’ll see that none of the last messages I sent are in there, which means they never hit the gtalk server. I have tried a series of voodoo fixes, including but not limited to, rebooting the phone, rebooting the laptop. Disconnecting and reconnecting to the bluetooth connection. Turning bluetooth on the phone off, and then on again, making the phone discoverable or not. Nothing really seemed to fix it, but eventually it would go back to being OK but slow and I’d get on with my life. This morning? It became unbearable. I would connect, then get online, and then be back offline as fast as you please. Finally, I tried pinging yahoo.com (which is my default troubleshooting ping name)… couldn’t resolve yahoo.com.

Couldn’t resolve google either. Couldn’t resolve shit. Could ping by IP though.

So, I did what I used to do with dialup users that had this problem, I hardcoded the old Mindspring DNS servers into my connection… and it has been like turning a light switch on. What the fuck, Cingular/AT&T? Are you incapable of installing a good DNS server? Shit, _I_ have a DNS server! I created it accidentally and it works better than yours. What the fuck!

For everyone else, if you are having problems with your internet connection through your Cingular phone (you can hard code the DNS on the phone itself too), I highly suggest you do this.

Fair and Balanced

In the interest of my own writing, as per suggestions from John Scalzi, I am trying to analyze jPod to determine why it got published, even though it angered me greatly.

  • Snappy dialog. The dialog in the book was, outside of some obviously and horribly ridiculous moments, very human and natural, but with the wit knob turned to 11. It was very easy to read the conversations.
  • A grabber. In the first ten pages, we have a guy who leaves a fairly mundane day job to help his pot-growing mother bury a dead biker (Post-spoiler alert! You just read a spoiler.)
  • A highly likeable main character. Ethan is so utterly vanilla and moderately braindead, it’s nearly impossible not to overlay some of your own traits onto him.
  • A recognizable, comfortable environment. jPod is just an amalgam of any computer company, pleasingly separated from the normal grind of the rest of the corporate machine. An island of friends awash in a sea of gray conformity. Who _doesn’t_ see their friends like this?
  • A group of peers you wish you had. Nerdy female friend who can be totally honest with you through benefit of your platonic relationship. Drug-using sexual deviant who you get to live vicariously through. Hot girlfriend who comes on to you with minimal prompting. Normal-looking guy who turns out to be so strange you feel normal by comparison. Other guy who you cajole into revealing his deepest secrets by group harassment.
  • A series of disasters that peaks in an adventure and emotional enlightenment. Dead guys, human smuggling, heroin-addicts sold into labor camps, the book has it all. It actually has two arcs, the motion of Ethan moving from slacker cubedrone, through utter exhaustion, into honest and emotionally complete Ethan (who also gets to have regular sex), then the motion of Ethan to fix his sin of inaction and rescue Steve (and therefor his professional life, saving him from the assistant production assistant black hole).
  • A situation where the reader would naturally turn away, explored. Who would have buried the biker? Who would have stayed at the house and fed the immigrants?
  • An ending. I’m not going to say a good ending, because I don’t feel it was good. But, there was a handy cinch on this bag of turds. Everyone leaves their old jobs, and starts working at a fascinating new place. Through their trials, they are purified and move from purgatory to heaven. We don’t even get to find out what it’s like there, we aren’t capable of it. Because the book is a map, a to do list. Get your shit sorted out, develop healthy relationships, come to peace with yourself, pursue your dream, and in pursuit, you will evolve into God-knows-what. It’s not a bad concept for an ending. It’s practically the same ending that Lost in Translation used, and I loved that. It’s the “tech victory” from Gal Civ 2. The ending of Back to the Future (“Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.”). The ending of Catcher in the Rye. The ending of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Simply put, the character has changed, and this book is the story of the character at the beginning, not the story of who he turns into.

Dude, Douglas Coupland, seriously…

What the hell is your problem? I read Generation X, I liked it. I read Microserfs. It practically formed my opinion of what living in a geek-commune tech company should be like. It was the first book that was recommended to me by a peer that wasn’t utter filth. My memories of that book are inextricably linked to the memories of my Performa 400 and late nights showing people how to zmodem down porn from AzTec and my first 17″ monitor and full height, 5.25″ one gigabyte hard drives bought from onsale.com and watching Akira four times in a row and dry humping and milkshakes and bondage, laserdiscs of 2001 and the first time I thought I was in love and normal.

And now jPod.

As an author it must feel awesome when you decide to write yourself into a book. It’s the only thing I can think of. It must be like some kind of sweet release/tantric writing experience where you just imagine how awesome it’s gonna be. It ain’t. I haven’t read a single book where the author shows up (especially after as many fucking vaguely self-aggrandizing namechecks as you pulled) and not had my HACK ALERT go off. This was no different, Doug. I was tired of you being in the book around the incredibly stilted “They failed to credit me with Melrose Place” conversation, and was ready to scream around the time they were talking about how drinking Zima was such a Coupland thing to do. When you showed up on the plane? I was fucking ready to vomit. And then you just KEPT DOING IT. Did you read the last three Dark Tower books and go “Hey, Steve managed to do that with grace and style, it’s a new era where readers are totally cool with this.”? Because no, he didn’t do it with grace and style. He did it with the same sort of ratcheting, mechanical, contractually obligated put-on-a-rubber-let’s-get-this-shit-over-with attitude that normally accompanies this sort of schlock. Fucking hell.

Did you quit cocaine? That will make it OK. Just release a book where you explain how you quit coke and I’ll forgive you just like I forgave Mr. King. Some of his new stuff is even good! It’s not quite as good as his old stuff, but hey, what are you gonna do? Or maybe it was heroin. Whatever. I’d be willing to overlook some of this if you admitted you were addicted to airplane glue or lottery scratchers. But unless you explain pretty verbosely why you realized you hit bottom when you were having dog-sex in front of a crowd for lines of aspartame, I’m not sure I can forgive you.

Love and snuggles,

Aaron

Biopace Chainrings

Guess what fags! I don’t care what your shitty opinions are and I’m tired of moderating (aka putting bad words into) your windy dickbag comments. If you were planning on commenting on this post, please light a match inside your asshole instead. I know it’s fun to stick up for Sheldon’s shitty opinion on this now that he’s dead but I hope you all die of shitpox.

All due respect to Sheldon Brown, but I cannot believe that anyone can talk about BioPace chainrings as anything other than utter fucking filth. This is like lauding the brilliance of the Citroen hydropneumatic ball based engine stuff, or how great an idea it was to use nikasil-liners, how the Titanic design was truly brilliant, the Hindenberg was amazingly well thought out. The simple fact is, history has god damned spoken, and time and time again, the results are the same. Piece of shit. Officially disavowed by the people who made it, universally accepted as failures. Moderate fowardthink without any real analysis. Maths without fizzix. But every couple months, on the ONE cycling forum I read, there are five pages of huffing and puffing about how it was OK and how it was really a pretty good idea, etc.

That’s dumb. If you think Biopace is good, you have dumbness in you.

Fathers Day

Well, I had a nice father’s day, my dad and I went on a hike out in the Sandy River Delta area, took the dogs, got lost. Saw a bunch of flowers, a snake, lots of different dragonflies. Lots of people out with lots of dogs. The river was either way higher than it has been before, or way lower, it’s tough to tell since I don’t go out there very often. Either way it was a beautiful way to spend the day, and have a lot of low key, but civil, conversation with my dad.

It sounds like he’s starting to come out of his latest depressive plunge, which is a good thing. He actually talked about getting in touch with the probate lawyer and taking care of Grandma’s stuff, which is something he should have done months ago. He also talked about whether or not he was going to need to get a new car, which is a subject that had long not been broached. It was nice to be able to just kind of talk about problems, without fearing that he was going to flip out and yell at me. Of course, we steered wiiiide of The War and The Economy and The Presidential Election. That shit is a little too heavy for me during exercise time anyway, but the last three or four times we’ve “gone there”, it’s not ended up working out. Lots of emotion tied into it for him, and when Dad gets emotional, he gets argumentative. And when I say argumentative, don’t think for a moment that I’m talking about the sort of argumentative that goes on when Hannity and Colmes talk about Iraq; Instead imagine the sort of argumentative that went on in the mid 90’s when a blood and a crip had a discussion about the ownership of a car.

Of course, this is not the only weird emotional response Dad has. When he thinks his kids are in danger, he gets angry at them. Weird, but true. When the neighbors indicated that my sister had several boys in her room, and that they had held her out the window (which is apparently not true), he screamed and yelled at her, grounded her, not listening to anything she had to say. When I rode my big wheel down the street and he didn’t remember where I was? He spanked me. When I got arrested and wrongly accused of sexual assault, he treated me as if I had done it. Very exciting.

I see this in myself from time to time, the backwards responses, the screeching chaos behind my eyelids, and I have to wonder if he experiences all of the same crazy things I do. Does he not really trust anyone? Does he live a life that merely spans the moments between elaborate, violent revenge fantasies? When he sees happiness in others, does it disgust him? Does he feel like the smile on his face has been glued there to distract everyone else? I wonder.

Comcast : We have no fucking clue.

There’s your new slogan, Comcast. It’s either that or “Beats the shit out of me!”. After being told that there was no “date” assigned to my autopay and that it probably wouldn’t take place until next month, I checked my bank account today and noticed that they extracted their $112. I signed into my Comcast account and it still shows that I owe $186 ($74 for a previous bill that I paid over the phone the first time I called to complain my autopay wasn’t going through, plus $112 for the current months service). It also still shows that the autopay will go in on the 11th (just as it did before, though previously it showed such strange dates as the 26th of May and the 4th of October). Presumably, I now have a $20 credit on my account, but the account page will likely never update to reflect that.

Is it this hard to bill for a service in this day and age? What is their billing department running on, some type of hammer-and-chisel driven system of gears and pulleys, that jockey decrepit accountants from one position on a great granite cliff face to another, carefully crossing out accounts receivable when payments are made? Fuck me, man.

Bike Riderz

So, in my last post, I decided my hate-on for Octalink 1 v2 cranks was supreme, and that I would go ahead and get some square taper cranks and sell off the BB. Instead, I went back to Citybikes and found another set of Octalink 1 v2 cranks (this time in the “touring” gears, 28-38-48) that seems to be in better repair. It was the cheaper option ($25, versus $25 for cranks and $20 for a new BB), and hey, it’s gotta work OK this time, right? I even got some washers to install between the pedal and the crank, and lubed the threads of the pedal when I put it in. Now that the weather is getting nicer (Fuck you cloudy skies on the weekend, this shit needs to stop), I’ll take her out for some grocery runs and whatnot. Still need a new fork, if only so I can adjust the frickin’ stem up some, but that is another dollar for another day.

Banned from Craigslist

So, I’m not sure why, but it appears that I have been banned from Craigslist. I’d like to say it was because of a clever interstate confidence scam that netted a tidy profit, or because I was so clever and conniving in the personals ads that I started a fat girl on skinny girl flame war, or even because I posted some “hate speech” in the rants and raves section, but alas, it’s not true. As far as I’m able to tell, it’s because I have a blue wingback chair and some metal halide fixtures that are insufficiently tangible or whatever to give away in the free section. When I post an ad, it gets deleted by Craigslist staff in approximately 4 minutes, regardless of if I’ve even gotten the confirmation email to post it or not. I assume that I am different from the folks who are posting the C.I.4l.IS 4 FUCKN ads in every category because their wingback chairs are more tastefully upholstered, and their light fixtures are high pressure sodium, which everyone knows is better.