Category: Rants

Eve Kills boot.ini, Or: Why I Won’t Be Playing Eve

by redshift

I’m a programmer by trade. I read a lot of tech-related and programming sites, both for the good tips and the horror stories. We’ve all heard about the IT guy who forgot to backup the production server (oops!) or the janitor who unplugged the AC in the server room (ouch!). All kinds of fun in the world of corporate IT.

We’ve even heard about some commercial software with heinous errors. Games with no sound. Security software that steals your resources. Sony installing rootkits. Microsoft software.

Eve Online, however, has just gone one step beyond. If you installed their new expansion, Trinity, on opening day, it deleted your boot.ini file. You can no longer boot Windows.

Even a rootkit leaves your computer working for a little while.

In case you haven’t heard of it, Eve Online is a space combat MMORPG. There are somewhere around 300,000 subscribers, and 30,000 people online on an average night. Tens of thousands of potential victims.

Of course, there was no warning that this would happen. They did not send out any kind of alert until a day later – today at 5:45pm EST. If you happened to reboot or shut down your system in that time, and you’re not running Linux (my saving grace), you’d be greeted with a unusable computer.

This is simply inexcusable. CCP, the developer of Eve, and whose slogan is “We Care More, We Work Harder,” is a professional software development firm. They should have tested what they’re putting on your computer. My God, you’d think making a computer inoperable would make one of their QA people say “Hmmm… that can’t be right.” There is no conceivable reason for the game installer to even touch the boot.ini file, forget about deleting it.

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BMWs, iPods, and speed limits

by redshift

Hey you. You, driving the BMW at 90 in a 65 with your iPod earbuds in. I know you can’t hear me, but try driving instead of loading more techno music.

Oh, by the way, it’s quite easy for cops to see the white cords.

Cellular Companies Preventing Progress? A Wireless World

by redshift

Cable Mess
The world is going wireless. We’ve been seeing the trend for 20 years, and it’s really gained momentum in the last five. Not only do all new laptops have wifi built in, but many new desktop computers do as well. It’s getting difficult to find someone who doesn’t own a cell phone. Portable music players, such as the Zune, are getting interesting wireless capabilities. Home entertainment equipment is going wireless to prevent the mess of cables pictured over on the right. All new cars have wireless key fobs for easier entry. I could go on all day.

Not all wireless devices are a commercial success, of course. Remember the portable TVs of the 90’s? They were in every electronics store and usually had a 2″ screen. You never see one anymore. It’s because of the popularity of cable and satellite TV, and the unwillingness to settle for three channels. It is not because of the screen, I might note – geeks go crazy for tiny screens for the portability. I predict that we’ll see a resurgence of portable televisions, though in a different form. We’ll have television streamed onto portable media players through wifi or cellular broadband. And this brings us to the topic of this post.

Cellular broadband is the only commercially viable method of sending data wirelessly to the entire country. Public wifi networks only exist in a few major cities. Satellite is available, but not feasible due to cost and receiver size. Cellular networks such as EVDO and HSDPA are virtually nationwide, the new standards are coming soon, and the older EDGE and 1xRTT standards are available as fallbacks.

Think of what we could do with the cellular data networks in an ideal world. First of all, no cables. Your computers wouldn’t need network cables, your TV wouldn’t need a cable line, your online-capable video game systems wouldn’t even need a wireless router. Your cell phone or portable media player could be fully internet capable, not crippled like most current devices. Your car, house, and appliances could send you maintenance reports. You’d never lose a device again, because they’d all have GPS-like capabilities. You’d worry a lot less about stolen goods for the same reason. And these are just the basics.

So why isn’t cellular data more widespread? Because the cellular companies like their profits. Huge profits. Text messages are marked up 7314% from the data charge, and the data charge itself is marked up by an even larger percentage. The most basic data plan for a PDA from Cingular is $19.99/month for five megabytes. For comparison, I can download five megabytes at home in about five seconds, for a cost per megabyte of 0.007 cents. The first unlimited plan, not including any text or media messaging, is $44.99/month.

Quite frankly, it’s absurd, and I think it’s holding back technological progress. It seems to be another case of short-term thinking on the part of the business, and consumers lacking the information they need to make better decisions.

Maybe if more of the consumers knew they were paying a 285,571% markup for mobile data, they would have a word with their cell phone provider.

Math Dunces!

by blue midget

England’s Math Dunces Baffled by Christmas Sale Offers!  “About 14.9 million adults in England do not have the maths skills expected of an 11-year old and may have problems working out even basic deals like “20 percent off” or “buy one, get the second half-price”, the Department of Education and Skills said.”  WTF!

What possesses them?

by redshift

AMD bought ATI. What the hell? Now I have to choose between overpriced processors from The Man with good video cards, and good, cheap processors with bad cards?

I eat babies

by redshift

And I kill people all day long because I play video games 😦

Jack Thompson is my hero

Jack Thompson owns

Scientific Inaccuracy, Or: This is not another anti-global warming rant.

by hulk

I swear. I’ll shut up about global warming. That rant has been made, more than once by me if memory serves, you can find the rant and comment there. Here’s what’s pissing me off today: the phrase “long overdue”. Can you use a colon and then quote something? Is that appropriate from a literary perspective? Can I deviate from the topic like this? I need an independent editor, not like redshift who feels the need to make up rules about parantheses. I honestly think he’s just lying. Why can’t (I) d(o) this()()((((()((()(()()))())()()))))?()

Anyway. The phrase “long overdue”. Here’s my problem. While radiological dating is pretty reliable, it’s not exceedingly accurate. I also believe, and please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, that the error increases as you go out. Such that the predictions that something happened 400,000,000,000 years ago, and the prediction that something happened 30,000 years ago, do not have the same error. I’m guessing that 400 googly years ago number has a error of oh, say, 30 brews of coffee (a widely accepted unit of time), whereas the 30,000 year number has an error of maybe 0.5 batches of chocolate chip cookies. I’m sorry, I’m using two different units, and you canadian readers (assuming I didn’t piss all of you off with my asian rant) are confused what with your metric thing. 0.5 batches of chocolate chip cookies = 3 brews of coffee = 8 minutes. That should clear things up.

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You are what the media says you are, Or: An interesting psychology experiment

by hulk

Who else has been waiting for the day? It’s finally here, my friends. Congressman Nick Ranhall, Senator Jay Rockefeller, and West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin are all calling for greater mine safety. Holy crap! Mines are dangerous! Everyone! I promise that as your elected leader I will make mines safer!

Sigh. I typed into google “ranking of dangerous occupations” and came across an article that listed mining as the fifth most dangerous occupation in the US. First is logging, second is fishermen, third is airline pilots, and fourth is structural metal workers. I’m assuming the whole thing is based on number of deaths per person in that occupation. Not even cops and firemen made the top five… and cops and firemen are heroes… who wants to place bets that miners will be labeled heroes by at least one TV commentator or politician in the upcoming elections this year? Maybe someone can say something fun like, “if we don’t take care of our brave miners, the terrorists win.”

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PHP is Strange Voodoo

by redshift

All I want is a simple database management program.

All I need is to create tables, rows, and fields, insert or edit data, things that aren’t always convenient on the mysql command line. (editing of data in particular.) The only decent program I’ve found is phpMyAdmin, which of course requires a web server and php. I’ve tried every native DB management tool in portage, and several not in portage, to avoid these requirements. They all bite ass. Even MySQL‘s own management tool is buggy and missing features. Is this really so difficult a request?!

Anyway – phpmyadmin decided to die yesterday, after I hadn’t used it for a month or so. The strange voodoo that commenced haunts me to this day.

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Dear Credit Card Companies, Or: More Debt, Please

by hulk

Dear Credit Card Companies,

Thank you all for your generous offers this Christmas season. From one of you, I received a card informing me of all the savings I could have – if only I spent more with my credit card. From another of you, I received an offer for this miraculous checking account tied to my credit card where I get free money that is actually credit I will be *charged interest on*. Of the three of you I hear from most, the remaining member of your group sends me offers monthly for a card. I’ve also been offered travel insurance and even a sort of life-event insurance – if something bad happens to me, I get lots of money. All I have to do is pay now.

I must respectfully decline your offers of imaginary money. I must point to three things. First, the number of us in the country declaring bankruptcy has risen signficantly. Second, the laws for declaring bankruptcy have been changed to make it more likely that someone will have to pay their debts. Third, generalizations lead me to believe that there is simply too much stuff to buy today, and in order to sustain a lifestyle we neither can afford nor should try to, more of us are going into debt. For many of us, all it would take is the loss of our job, even for a short period of time, to drive us into four-to-five-figure debt with interest rates in the double digits. Finally, this is precisely where you want us to be.

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