Thursday, March 13, 2014

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Supergeek question: why do computers age?

Adam Engst, founder of tech newsletter TidBITS, has said that he believes computers become slower with age, a process which can't be reversed with a reinstall  or such, in other words, the hardware changes.  

Last week I fished out two laptops, both like 5-7 years old. (They've been keept snug and dry.) And they both sort of didn't work. There was just odd things going on, like they refused to connect to the networks though they could see them, or the external DVD drive did not work with them. It just felt like machines on the brink of death. You know how you can sense that sometimes? When I was young, I once sold a used bike. I had been pretty much used. Everything worked on it, but just the whole feel of the bike said to me it was working on it's last breath. And true enough, shortly after the sale, it just broke down all over, and never was used again. (I think I later offered him his money back, but I'll try and make sure.)

Now, back to computers, I can understand a battery getting old or dying, because it is chemical in nature. But the other parts in a computer, why would they get old? (It seems to apply more if the machine is not used.) They are plastic, metal, and silicone. Not, so far as I know, materials which deteriorate quickly, outside of damp or extreme temperatures. So...

For me emotionally, computers should be like Charles Babbage said of his mechanical computer the Difference Engine: "It does not make errors. Either it works or it doesn't at all." There should be no odd grey-area or weird on-and-off malfunctioning. But there is. I guess they are just so complex that this stuff "develops" somehow.

Any ideas?

The unkillable skinny ideal

It is striking to me how, despite a lot of campaigning against it, the omnipresence of super-thin fashion models is still king in the world, seemingly invulnerable.
They claim it's because it is easier to make clothes "hang" well on thin models, and perhaps it is, but there must be more to it, because it seems to me it's a minority of people who really like that kind of thin, and most of them work in the fashion industry.
It is like it is an idea, a self-destuctive idea from our collective subconscious, which has attached itself like a leach.

For instance, this one, from an ad on my Kindle Fire, she's probably envied by many women, but she strikes me as more... Scary, than anything else, yea?

By the way, in the wonderful and funny collaboration between Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, Good Omens, they present it as one of the more effective ideas which the main demon has introduced in the world. He has created a line of food producs ("Mealz" or something), which is addictive but contains no nutrients whatsoever. And a newer line which is the same plus suger and fat, you bloat up while starving to death.
A fan walks up the demon (in human form) and thanks him heart-feltly for his products, they have changed her life, she says. He describes her as skeletal and estimates with satisfaction that she has about two months to live.

I think the lesson is not so much to blame or attack the fashion industry or the food industry or anybody else, but to realize that we have deep destructive impulses, including self-destructive, and recognize them and see the for what they are. This all takes time and work, perhaps even therapy for some, but I think it's the only way to really change things.

Odd LinkedIn recoms

I've had a couple of odd, reality-disconnected recommendations on LinkedIn. The latest one says:
"Eolake is a very honest, likeable, scholar of early Greek literature as well as webmaster for list server which focuses on Meher Baba and his work."
I've no clue who Baba is, and I haven't read much early Greek literature since school.

I wonder what this new phenomenon is? Maybe a new kind of spam. Fake profiles building up good reputation just based on those who respond to the kind thought rather than to whether it really applies?