Saturday, April 06, 2013

Friday, April 05, 2013

"Facebook Home: Is That a Feature or a Threat?”

Facebook Home: Is That a Feature or a Threat?, article.

Not just that. It’s a threat of apocalyptic proportions.     :-S (That's a don't-know-whether-to-laugh-or-cry emoticon.)

When will we get Twitter laptops, where all you can do is use Twitter? When will you ever *really* need more than 140 characters anyway? And imagine how lean and fast the OS and interface could be!

The good news is you can use the extra space in your skull to store an extra kidney.

Facebook Home explained.
Home is a "family of apps" that essentially push Facebook content front and center on your Android phone.
I guess sorta like your Kindle tablet is all Amazon content all the time.

Putting friends first isn't a bad concept for the smartphone experience. But Facebook thinks that friends = Facebook and Facebook = friends. If this were ever true, it isn't now." -- Jesse Brown, columnist

From the first article:
...particular concerns with Home's "chat heads", a feature that cannot be turned off. It sounds like the recurrent theme from Scifi -- the computer that's so powerful and intelligent, it denies you the ability to turn it off. [...]
The concern is not about giving up a little bit of absolute privacy in order to connect with people. Rather, the concern is that users are blissfully unaware of the motives behind penetrations into their lives to the point where the act has become a dangerous violation, an accumulation of knowledge that controls and debases the "customer." Remember, if the service is free, you are the product.

For me, the scary thing is that Facebook Home assumes that all your friends are on Facebook, and all want to use Facebook to communicate and interact. And the really scary thing is that millions of people will probably just swallow that raw. And if it's successful, the effect is "use facebook or get ghettoized".
Already without "Home", people tell me that they *have* to use Facebook, or simply loose contact with some of their friends and family!

Thursday, April 04, 2013

No bacteria on TV no mo'

That is one TV screen which is thoroughly anti-septisized! (Source)
I'm guessing this lad has a future as a powerful TV critic. He knows what he *doesn't* like, and is willing to do something about it, and a lost remote ain't gonna stop him.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

A question of Time and Resolution

Pascal wrote to me:
Mentioned the Garden of Earthly Delights (below) to my Mom yesterday.
She said "What's the point?"
I think she's a bit old-fashioned about everything internetty and "virtual"... 
I explained that not everyone can take the plane to travel all the way to a museum to see this in equivalent quality. She still wasn't convinced.

A writer wrote about this around maybe 1997, Dave Sim who made the Cerebus comic. He said he couldn’t see the point of viewing art on a small bad monitor ("postage-stamp-sized", the standard derogatory). I told him it was just a matter of time, and resolution (in two definitions). 
I think Dave still doesn’t even have a computer, he never seemed at all interested, so he may not know this (and probably doesn't care), but viewing color art on a good 27-inch monitor beats the hell out of viewing his comics, which for economic forces are smaller, and have no color. (I'm talking about visually here. Artistically, his works beats most everything.)

Anybody who cares about getting art to people, and has seen a big and good monitor, has a quite limited horizon if they can’t see the blessing of the net.

I’ll bet many of these people have reproduction posters of art on their walls. And I’ll bet the color is far from as good as a good scan on a good monitor (in part simple because it's lit). 
In fact I didn’t even realize it, even though I’d been an advocate for many years, even written an article about art on screens in 1999. When I first got a 30-inch monitor, my viewpoint on photos and art totally changed, the monitor was suddenly a viewing gallery as well as a work studio. This was a surprise for me, I just got the bigger one for productivity reasons, the aesthetics gain was a bonus. 

We are only in the infancy of this, of course. In due course, cheap, flat, flexible, colorful, pin-sharp monitors will be everywhere. They may even get so cheap they are virtually disposable. One may for example have all the walls papered with screen material, and one can distribute one's current favorite art in the sizes and places of the moment, or have the collection rotate. (Or of course one may choose virtual picture windows on some of them.) Or less may do it. 

I'll bet some museums will make services available, some free some not, of their current exhibition, so you can have it on your own wall. This could be good business for them, since it would cost them very little, but they could stream to many more people than they physically have space for. And of course it won't be limited, like physical museums, to the current exhibition. Museums can finally start making money on the large collections they have in dead space in the basements. 

Bye Iain

Aw, goddammit!!
Just about a day after I wrote about how few really substantial authors I know and how hard it is to find new ones, the very one I used as my prime example announces he is dying and has stopped writing.

Iain, if you reincarnate, I hope it'll be in something like the Culture. I may join you.

Thanks, man, I can't count the hours of joy you've given me.


If you haven't read Iain Banks, you've missed out. Check my earlier mentions of him (scroll down for several posts).

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Heaven, Earth, Hell

[Thanks to Jimmy]
(I posted part of this way back in 2006, but only the middle, and a poorer scan. The work makes a tonne more sense with all three parts.) 

Hieronymus Bosch's colossal painting The Garden of Earthly Delights (wiki). 

Really big size scan here.

I think this is a monumental piece of art. It's beautiful, it's hugely complex but hangs together, it's funny, it's sardonic, it's hellish...
Gawd, it must take a special kind of mind to go through making a work of that size.

For my own desktop, I have broken it up into four parts: lower middle, higher middle, left side recomposed to landscape (bottom put on the right), and same with the right side, Hell. (Of course I also have the full original. It's a bit of sacrilege to break up a painting like that, but even with very large screens, you just can't really see what's on this enormous painting otherwise. (If you want them, I have zipped the parts into a zip file.)

‘Mystery blonde’ reunited with lost camera six years, 8,000 kilometres later

‘Mystery blonde’ reunited with lost camera, article.
A Georgia woman has been reunited with her camera and photos after the camera she lost during a 2007 trip to Hawaii washed ashore some 8,000 kilometres away in Taiwan.

That's a durable underwater-camera!

This photo was posted on Facebook after the camera was found. The caption reads "The camera was covered in seaweed and barnacles, suggesting it had drifted for a long time. Amazingly well-preserved, the camera remains rust free and contains pictures up to August 2007."

Sunday, March 31, 2013

On finding substantial content

Re my current kick of bitching against the tide of fluff of the Net:

Charles said:
Most human communication seems to boil down to: "I'm here. Are you?"
Substantive content has always been rare...but we never used to be exposed to [this much] noise.... :)

Yes, that seems to be the consensus, and I can’t find a good argument against it.

Admittedly it’s more likely than mankind having changed suddenly to produce more of the superficial crap.     :-)
[Well, I'm sure we do, but percentage-wise it can't be as great a change, surely.]

My emotional problem is that I always assumed that there would all kinds of filtering mechanisms and people to make it easy for me to find that substantial content. But I just can't seem to find those filtering mechanisms!

For example, I joined GoodReads, and rated dozens of books, which should help it to make recommendations for me, to find books I'd like. But looking through the recommendations, not many at all really attract me.

I think part of the problem is that what I consider "substantial" is quite subtle, and probably subjective. For example, I see an abyss of difference between Iain M. Banks and almost all other writers of space-opera books. But clearly most people don't see it, and I find it quite hard to explain. So I get recommendations of "books with big spaceships in them", not books with the subtle wit and insight which I see in Banks' books.