December 18, 2014: 1:26 pm: humour, internet, Technology

A: 132 divided by 26 is about 5.

B: How do you know.

A: Because that’s how division works.

B: Doesn’t make sense that you can just say that. I mean I think we should investigate all sides of the issue. Who benefits from 132 being divided into 26 parts? Why does it have to be 5?

A: But when you divide 132 by 26 that’s the answer you get.

B: OK OK. Explain to me like I’m 5.

A: We don’t teach division to 5-year-olds.

B: So you can’t explain it. :)

A: Fine. So in this case let’s say you want to separate 132 things into 26 groups.

B: What things?

A: Doesn’t matter.

B: I think it could but let’s see where you go with this.

A: The idea is to find out how many things would be in each group.

B: So gather 26 twist ties say. And I spread them out until I have 26 groups. But not every group will have the same number. That doesn’t give you one answer.

A: Well you can keep shifting the groups around until they all have the same amount but there’s an easier way if you know how to multiply. Which as a five year old you would’t.

B: So this is all sounding like a runaround. The simple truth is you don’t know what 132 divided by 26 really is. You can’t prove it to an average person.

A: Multiply 26 times 5. You can teach a five year old to use a calculator.

B: If you trust calculators. But OK, for the sake of argument. Hold on. 26 times 5 is 130 according to my caluclator NOT 132.

A: Right there’s a remainder.

B: WAIT. So you’re trying to convince me that 132 divided by 26 is 5 but when I use MY OWN CALCULATOR It shows that is demonstrabvly NOT the case.

A: I was rounding. It’s actually 5.08

B: (PAUSES) NO! 132.08

A: Well yeah there’s a decimal but we usually round that off.

B: So your “SCIENCE” isn’t so precise after all. If you can just round things off why can’t I round things off. Why can’t I say 132 divided by 26 os 6. I’m just rounding off!

A: You do that.

B: See? You can’t win a fair logical argument can you? WHY CAN”T YOU HANDLE THE SIMPLE TRUTH? Stop trying to ruin this country!

November 19, 2014: 2:38 pm: Technology

I re-wrote the Apple WatchKit press release to take out unnecessary adjectives and anything not simply describing the functions and facts. I did this because the number of ‘incredibly easy’ and “most personal device ever” phrases was actually making it hard to read. So I wanted to see what would happen if I took out the puffery.

The original is here.

Apple® today announced the availability of WatchKit, software that gives developers a set of tools for Apple Watch™. Developers can begin developing WatchKit apps before Apple Watch becomes available. Developers can create WatchKit apps, actionable notifications and Glances.

Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing noted developers can, “work with new technologies such as Force Touch, Digital Crown and Taptic Engine.”

Notifications allow users to take action from their wrist such as turning the lights off after they’ve left the house, accessing flight details at the airport, and rerouting their transit when a train or bus is late. Glances show users information such as the latest news and sports scores, alarm system status or the next step of a favorite recipe.

App features are subject to change and may not be available in all regions or all languages. Apple Watch requires iPhone 5 or later.

The iOS 8.2 SDK beta including WatchKit is available now for iOS Developer Program members at The WatchKit site includes programming guides, human interface guidelines, templates and more. Starting later next year, developers will be able to create fully native apps for Apple Watch.

“The ESPN app for Apple Watch gives us the ability to deliver live scores and information for their favorite teams,” said John Kosner, executive vice president of Digital and Print Media, ESPN. “Glances provide fans with a snapshot of live games, and if there is no game taking place, they’ll get valuable game-time information or the final box score. With actionable notifications… fans receive alerts on score changes, news and more.”

Kevin Systrom, co-founder and CEO of Instagram said, “With actionable notifications you can see and instantly like a photo or react with an emoji. The Instagram news and watch list allows you to see your friends’ latest photos, follow new accounts and get a real-time view of your likes and comments.”

“The American Airlines app on Apple Watch reminds you when it’s time to head to the airport via pre-trip notifications, and provides updates for gate changes, connecting gate info upon arrival, and will notify you when boarding begins if you’re not at the gate yet,” said John Gustafson, American Airlines vice president of Digital. “Travelers can also ask ‘Where am I?’ in-flight and get real-time location information at 30,000 ft.”

October 31, 2012: 6:27 pm: Technology

As I find myself using Ubuntu and Windows 8 more these days, it got me thinking about my personal history with operating systems. I’ve often been a multi-OS user, even back int he 1980s. So I plotted out to the best of my recollection what OSs I had on my machines dating back to 1982.

This doesn’t count the number of machines just the OSs running on them. In most cases there were more machines than OSs. In some cases fewer, since I was virtualizing through much of the 2000s. When there are multiple OSs I have listed them in order of most used. I only listed years in which I changed an OS.

1981 – Apple II
1982 – TI 99/4A
1984 – Commodore 64/Timex Sinclair
1985 – Commodore 64
1988 – Windows 286
1990 – Apple System 6/Windows 286
1993 – Windows 3.1
1996 – Windows 95
1998 – Windows 98
2000 – Windows 98/Mandrake
2001 – Windows XP/Mandrake
2002 – Windows XP/Xandros
2004 – Windows XP
2007 – Windows XP/Windows Vista/OS X/Ubuntu
2009 – OS X/Windows XP/Windows 7/Ubuntu
2010 – OS X/Windows 7/Ubuntu
2012 – Ubuntu/Windows 8/OS X

Update: Did I use DOS? Yes. a lot, especially in the Windows 286 years. These are also not the only OSs I ever used. Just the ones I lived in. I experimented with BeOS and OS/2 Warp, OK? Who didn’t? I’m not ashamed.

March 2, 2012: 2:12 pm: Technology

AT&T has decided to throttle users of it’s unlimited plans, and the unlimited wireless data plans are disappearing fast in the US.

Yet a recent study indicated that data caps are a crude and unfair tool for relieving congestion. The study recommends “policies honestly implemented to reduce bandwidth usage during peak hours should be based on better understanding of real usage patterns and should only consider customers’ behavior during these hours”

The problem isn’t how many bits people use. There is not a big bucket of bits that the carriers will run out of if everybody uses too much. The flashing lights on the routers don’t cost more to run either if people are moving their bits through the pipes in large numbers.

What is a problem is connection capacity. If too many people are hitting the towers, as I understand it, the towers have a hard time handling the traffic, and you get the poor wireless data service you see in some big cities and at tech conferences.

There’s also the good old fashioned flood of packets that cause increased packet loss as routers get overworked by too much traffic. That’s what makes DDOS attacks work. So there *are* problems, but limiting the amount of data I use at 3 AM when nobody else is using the Internet, doesn’t help the problem.

Throttling may help some because it knocks people into using a slower network with different capacities, but again it’s a brick bat to the head kind of solution. Sure, folks who use lots of data are more likely to be connecting at peak times, but it doesn’t mean they are, and it doesn’t mean they’re the root cause of the problem.

The situation reminds me of any kind of situation where a line or queue forms. Look at bridge tool booths or airport security lines for similar behavior. They can get horribly backed up, but the solution is not to somehow punish or throttle people who drive or fly often.

I suggest that carriers abandon data caps in favor of a ‘fast pass’ model. When the network reaches capacity or congested situation, all regular users get throttled a bit, unless they pay for a higher tier of service. That may sound bad at first, but remember, that right now, all users get throttled anyway in places like San Francisco, and the only option you have is to pay more to use your phone less. What if, instead you had the same service with the same issue you have now, for the same price but no data cap. However, you had the option to pay more per month to get your connection prioritized. You’re not violating net neutrality, because all users are connected, and all traffic is treated equally. You just don’t get throttled.

Of course the fast pass model requires pricing that makes it so that not everybody uses it. You want to avoid the situation you see sometimes on the Bay Bridge where the fastTrack lanes are backed up but the other lanes are not.

It’s possible they might even be able to provide tiers of fastpass where the more you pay the less likely you are to get throttled. And the throttling only happens at peak times. In non-peak hours everyone has full unthrottled access anyway.

I can already imagine some of you screaming why this is a horrible idea, so have at it, respectfully, in the comments. In the end maybe we can figure out some model that is agreeable to most, if not all? Who knows?

August 9, 2010: 3:54 pm: Technology

In case you don’t have time to wade through the pages and pages being written about Google and Verizon’s net neutrality announcment, I’ve tried to sum it up here.

Google and Verizon have made a public policy proposal (no business arrangements) and have asked for it to be enforced by FCC with power for fines (up to 2 million dollars). The proposal requires wired broadband like cable and DSL to be strictly neutral but it allows for additional, differentiated online services. In other words things like services to hospitals, or Verizon’s FIOS service, neither of which would go out on the open Internet. It leaves wireless broadband largely unregulated.

A key point in the wired broadband part of the agreement is that there would be no selling of priority traffic slots over the public Internet. In other words no company can pay to get their videos sent more reliably or faster than others. But dedicated capacity could be sold to customers over a dedicated network. That means you can buy a VPN or a private service of some kind. But nothing that would be available openly on the Net.

June 13, 2010: 12:18 pm: Technology

Yesterday I spent the day trying to save my data from a dying hard drive and swap in a new one. It all turned out successfully. This is something I’ve done several times int he past, but this time I noticed one incredible difference from all my past experiences.

I wasn’t irrationally angry.

And I think I know the reason. In the past while cloning and swapping, all my data was essentially unavailable. The stress of fearing I might fail in the process and have to spend countless hours restoring from other backups or even lose some data made me wig.

I remember one evening when Windows 95 wouldn’t boot for me and I actually asked friends who were over at the time to leave until I got it fixed. I knew myself. I was not going to be pleasant to be around.

So what changed?

This time around I had my iPhone and iPad. I was able to access almost all the data I needed while my cloning churned away. I answered email, I edited documents, I read books and comics.

The few things not comfortably done on these devices could have easily been done on one of the other computers in our house too, just by using Mozilla Weave to get all my settings in my browser.

The cloud is what eased my mind. Having my data accessible in useful applications in ways I was familiar with meant I didn’t really sweat the swap. I know ‘terminal’ computing and other variants on the cloud have been predicted for years. I’m not saying we’ll all move to dumb terminals. But I think we really have ventured down a new road in how we interact and rely on our data. We’re going to think less about where it is in the future.

May 12, 2010: 6:27 pm: Technology

The other day I referred to one of my laptops as “Starbuck” and the topic of naming your gadgets came up. I do it in the grand tradition of naming servers or printers or such, just to make it easy to know which device I’m talking about. I generally use my default “stuffed animal” names for mobile devices, and name computers after SciFi characters.

Do you name your gadgets? Tell me the names int he comments? Here are some of mine.

MacBook Pro (Unibody) – Martha Jones
Old MacBook Pro (Silver keyboard) – Lois
Old ThinkPad T42 – Starbuck
Dell Windows XP machine – HAL
iPod – BobPod
iPhone – FredPhone
iPad – JeffPad
Apple TV – Teeves (like Jeeves)
Slingbox – Sam

I don’t name things like the TiVo, PS3, Wii Xbox, etc… because they’re so easy to refer to anyway.

December 25, 2008: 7:06 pm: humour, Technology

I have a question, can anyone help?

You left out an important detail. Please provide it.

Oh sorry, here is half of what you asked for.

Yes, but that’s still not all of the important details I asked for.

Oh sorry. Here’s the rest, but with a serious misunderstanding.

Let me clarify. I need this exactly.

Oh OK. Here you go.

Hi I just discovered the thread and instead of being helpful I’m going to explain to you why you would never want to do what you’re asking.

Hi I just discovered this thread and would like to point out how you could Google this yourself but I also will not actually provide any help.

I just jumped in to call you a n00b and make an ironic joke.

Hi I’m the original responder and I have a solution you can try.

I tried your solution but it didn’t work.

Can you explain more why it didn’t work?

Well let me give you half an explanation leaving out several important details.

I guess I’ll need to ask for the rest of the details then.

Oh sorry, here are the rest of the details including a very important detail that I left out of the original problem that you could never have guessed.

Well I will have to take a slightly exasperated tone and say that you should have told me that in the beginning. So now let me propose a different solution.

I want to jump back in and point out that I can’t see any earthly reason why you’d want to do what you’re asking, but at the same time provide no real useful help to the thread.

I just want to make another ironic joke.

I the original poster must now ask a question that was actually answered in the latest proposed solution.

I will politely refrain from pointing out that if you read my last post more carefully you would see I answered that, but instead just repeat that part verbatim without further commentary.

Oh, got it, I will try that. I will then not respond for several weeks.

Hey, it worked. Thanks for all the help everyone!

November 16, 2008: 9:32 pm: internet, podcast, Technology

Last week on CNET’s The Real Deal podcast, I realized that a lot of my favorite podcasts have no topic. In fact I do a podcast called East Meets West that intentionally has no stated topic. So I’ve decided, without their approval, to start a trade group for these podcasts called Podcasts without Portfolio. Here are the charter members, whether they like it or not.

You Look Nice Today
Had the idea for this trade group while listening to the latest episode. While ostensibly about emotional hygiene, it’s really about saying funny things.

No Agenda
Was this podcast with John Dvorak and the Podfather, Adam Curry cerated created as an homage to East Meets West? Only history can judge.

Tangential Convergence
Smart Canadians talk about smart things while usually drinking.

Jawbone Radio
I never knew that life living near Cleveland could uncover so many universal truths.

Honorary Membership: Extra Life Radio
It’s a gaming podcast, but really it’s much much more.

May 23, 2008: 10:14 pm: software, Technology

Someone, I think it might have been Starman, but I rightly don’t remember, so forgive me. That wasn’t a sentence. This next one will be. Someone recently asked me to blog my experience with VMWare Fusion and Parallels.


I’m so bad at blogging. You can see that as early as my first post. Go ahead, dig into the archives here and find it. I’ll be right here experiencing the effects of time diliation. F or you it’s been a period of ten minutes or so. For me it’s been the space of hitting the space bar. But do you see? I don’t know what it is, but I have a real block against this blogging thing.

However, time, thunderstorms, and airline policy have conspired to keep me delayed here at gate 23 at good old OAK, meaning I have sunk deep into my amusement of last resort; picking out nose hairs. Which got me in BIG trouble with the wife, so now I must sink to blogging.

I shot a video on virtualization for CNET TV this week. The editor just finished it up today, so I imagine it won’t be posted until Tuesday. That will cover the majority of my experience. Then on Tuesday, Rafe Needleman is out of town so I’m on my own for The Real Deal podcast. So I figure I’ll talk virtualization there while it’s fresh in my mind. So that will cover almost the rest of it. And frankly audio is the medium I’m most comfortable with.

But here I blog until the gods of airline delays release me from my purgatory of waiting. So wile I’ll hold off on real details and explanations for the video and podcast that pay the bills, perhaps I will give an impressionistic account of my trip through virtualization, as I remember it.

Boot Camp 2.1 Freeze. Anger. Annoyance. A feeling of an era of bliss ending. Oh Windows XP on a Mac. I loved your look. I loved your speedy performance. I loved your idiosyncrasy. But your occasional need to freeze for 20 seconds played havoc with the Sword and Laser podcast as well as Buzz Out Loud prep. So you drove me into virtualization.

Start with free Parallels download. All is smooth until —- ACTIVATION. See, I had played with VMWare once in January. And had used activations with Boot Camp. So I was looking mighty peg-legged and eye-patch wearing as far as Microsoft could tell. But a little extra effort overcame.
Parallels is great!

But wait. Slight sadness. No second monitor now for Windows apps. Grr. How about VMWare? No respite there.

Surpise! VMWare Fusion Beta. Multi-monitor support.

Install it. Crazy install hell. Must make calls and pretend to have rebuilt machine. But finally activated. No way to get Parallels and VMWare to both work. They seem to overwrite each other’s activations. OH well. Live in VMWare. The beta seems a bit slower than PArallels but I lvoe the multimon support.

So why not keep moving to OS X!

Move iTunes over. No problem! Well slight problem when shooting a video and I accidentally trash my whoel library. But I restored it. So no harm done!

BUT THEN! I tried to repartition. S ee when I set up Boot Camp I expected to live in Windows. So I gave Windows a healthy 150 GB and Mac about 80 or so. With iTunes moved that 80 was getting cramped. So I plunk down the money for iPartition. Doesn’t work. Can’t move the data. Must defrag. Go into Windows Boot Camp and defrag Windows partition. Go into iDefrag and defrag Mac partition. Now partitioning works! Cross fingers and pray as partitions are resized and moved. It works!


Next morning’s VMWare boot can’t find the virtual machines file! Ack! Moving the partition munged the virtualization. Oh well. Bite nails, cry a small tear and trash the VMWare image file and rebuild. Whew! It works. Must reinstall VMWare tools but no reactivation! Crisis averted.

Now in search of the mail and calendaring replacement. Millions of programs will get my mail but almost nothign can read our exchange calendar. One program that promises to sync iCal with Exchange Calendar doesn’t work in Leopard!

Oh but Entourage you are so darn expensive. I mean, I just bought Popcorn Hour, Roku Netflix AND new headphones for my iPhone. I just can’t plunk down for Office for Mac. No way.

So I live in two worlds still. And the only real issue with that is when I click a link in an Outlook mail, it opens in Windows Firefox instead of Mac.

Also the Belkin Flip we use on CNET Live won’t recognise video from OS X for some reason. We need the flip so both me and Cooley’s laptops can be hooked up to the control room. The direct conenction without the flip works fine, which is how I was able to demonstrate VMWare on CNET Live last week. But as soon as we use th flip so both laptops can be connected, nothing.

So for CNET Live I must use Boot Camp. But good news! I figured out the Boot Camp freeze that led to all this. Apparently Input Remapper, that I use to reprogram the MacBook Pro keyboard doesn’t play nice with the keyboard manager in Boot Camp 2.1. So I disabled the keyboard manager in MSCONFIG and voila! No more freezes!

So I suppose I could go all the way back to Windows now, but I kinda like OS X. Plus I’d have to pay for MacDrive in order to see the files on my OS X partition in Windows. So I think virtualization will be the mode of choice for now. And hopefully the VMWare beta will be updated and not be so laggy as it goes along.

Scattered and incomplete as it is, there are my impressions of my experience with virtualization. Thanks for reading.

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