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Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

"But please give us subsidies"

“But please give us subsidies”

I wrote a small review of John Etherington’s book “The Wind Farm Scam: An Ecologist’s Evaluation” at GoodReads:

The Wind Farm Scam: An Ecologist's EvaluationThe Wind Farm Scam: An Ecologist’s Evaluation by John Etherington
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Rather dry, but a good overview of why wind-power is a scam: uneconomical,an ugly blight on the landscape, unlikely to reduce the “problem” of greenhouse gases (assuming for a moment such a problem exists), and a way for “green energy” firms to drain “rents” (tax money) from gullible governments. Focused almost wholly on the UK, the discussion is useful to critics of wind-farming here in the US, too.

View all my reviews

Not so sure I like GoodReads, but, what the heck. I haven’t posted here in a while.

And wind-power is still a farce.

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You’re sure to sleep well after looking at these:

"They're coming for you..."

“They’re coming for you…”

 

Here’s an excerpt from the Wired article:

It can be hard to take your eyes off a good GIF. Turns out, it can also be tough to take your eyes off a terrifying one.

In Oswra, a collection of GIFs by self-taught animator Hayden Zezula, we witness baby parts rearranged into all sorts of endlessly-looping abominations. A plaster-white baby head sits atop a churning cone of arms and hands. A dense cluster of legs marches nowhere at all, like a sea anemone with tiny feet instead of tentacles.

A couple of these convince me the artist is secretly a Yog-Sothoth cultist. And I bet the mutant babies work with the evil clowns.

Sweet dreams!

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My new best friend

My new best friend

Well, for TV shows and movies, that is. I came to the decision more than a year ago that, while TWC provided good service, they were just charging way more than I wanted to pay. I was paying for more than 200 channels, but watched only five or six with any regularity. Seems kind silly to subsidize the rest, no? But, being a NFL football addict —and my 49ers are good, again!!— it was hard to cut back to Internet only. I mean, I could catch the shows I like through streaming services or their web sites, but… football. (Said in a slack-jawed, caveman voice.) Then I did the math and realized I could save $85-$90 per month.

Football isn’t worth that much to me.

So, yesterday I “downgraded” my service and returned the DVR box to my local TWC office. And the choice to do so is no reflection on Time-Warner; I’ve had almost nothing but great service from them. And there was no hard sell yesterday to keep me, just a couple of offers and then making the change I asked. Returning the equipment was no questions asked, out in ten minutes, tops. So, well-done, TW.

My replacement is the Roku streaming video box pictured above. Because my TV is older (no HDMI), I had to get a switcher box so I could also connect the DVD player to the TV, but, overall, the set up, both physical and online, was very easy. Video playback and sound is excellent, and I’m impressed with the breadth of channel offerings. (1) I’m now linked to my Amazon Instant Video and Cloud Player accounts, so I can keep current with the shows I watch (2), paying only for them and not for channels I’d never watch.

So far, I’m very happy with the change.

Now all I need is a live streaming option for the NFL…

Notes:
1. Okay, some are on the level of public-access cable, but, you never know when you’ll find a gem. I mean, I found a channel for military miniatures enthusiasts! How cool is that?
2. Currently: Grimm, Justified, The Americans, Person of Interest, Sherlock, The Black List, and Covert Affairs

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logo kubuntu

Yes, this is how I spend my weekday nights: loading new operating systems, just to see what they look like.

I know, I know. You envy me. You wish you were me. Everyone does.

Anyway, for quite a while now I’ve considered abandoning Windows (especially after the fugliness that is version 8), and one of the alternatives I’ve been considering is some flavor of the Linux operating system. There is a lot to like about linux and it’s derivatives. For one thing, it’s free. It’s also stable, powerful, rarely targeted by viruses, and is supported by software that does most everything one could do on Windows, except most Linux applications are also free.

Free is good.

Anyway, a couple of years ago, my friend Richard sold me a his Linux laptop when he decided to dedicate his soul to the Cult of Mac. Since then, and quite a bit recently, I’ve been teaching myself Linux using Ubuntu, one of the many Linux derivatives. I’ve been quite impressed with what one can do (the Linux command line is like crack to someone like me, raised on DOS), but I wasn’t thrilled with the Unity desktop. It just didn’t work the way I wanted to (or was used to?). So, I decided to switch the laptop to Ubuntu’s close cousin, Kubuntu and its KDE Plasma desktop and give those a go. Installation was a breeze, and, though I’ve only used it for a few hours, I so far like Plasma quite a bit more than Unity.

(From what I’ve gathered, desktop preferences can generate flame wars in the Linux community, much like Mac vs. Windows fights. So, no offense intended — it’s just personal taste.)

The next steps will be to install the software on Kubuntu that I used on Ubuntu: Apache Open Office, Chrome (Unless the already-installed Chromium, from which Chrome is derived, lets me log into my Google account?), and a few other things. I did a clean wipe-and-install, so all this will have the benefit of forcing me to learn my way around Linux. After a few weeks of this, I might give a try to other Linux flavors, such as Xubuntu and Mint.

In case you’re wondering, the only reason I have not switched all my PCs yet is that there are still some applications I use in Windows, such as Final Draft and Roboform, for which I haven’t found adequate substitutes in Linux-land. I may have to eventually set up a means to boot Windows 7 or Linux on the same machine, as needed, so I can have access to those programs. From what I’ve read, that’s not too hairy a project.

At least it will give me something to do on a weekday night. 🙂

PS: If you were confused by the vague references to various operating systems and desktops, you’re not alone. There is an incredible family tree for Linux (being an open-source movement, it seems everyone has to make their own) and a dizzying proliferation of desktops. And, of course, they’re interchangeable. Plasma comes with Kubuntu, but I could have installed it with Ubuntu and just switched between it and Unity. Or I could (I think) install Xubuntu’s Xfce desktop over Kubuntu. Or…. You get the idea. For me, this kind of customizability is a benefit, not a problem.

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Dungeons Dragons Dark Creeper

Aside from being weird in itself, the idea of hiring assassins to kill someone’s online character is just full of wonderful possibilities for stories:

According to reports, a man in China became so exasperated by the amount of time that his unemployed son was spending playing World of Warcraft that he decided to do something about it. It seems that the lad had quit a software development job after just three months, and was doing nothing to find another one.

Showing, perhaps, a rather limited understanding of how these things work, Mr Feng hoped that killing the 23-year-old’s character off repeatedly would put him off playing altogether – and hired virtual assassins to do just that.

According to the Sanqing Daily, he managed to find killers who were at a much higher level than his son – despite all his hours of game play.

In fact, I’d swear there was a Japanese anime series on a similar idea.

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Makes me want to break out my old copy of Mosaic:

17 Ancient Abandoned Websites That Still Work

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Can I have one? Pleeeeaaaase? I promise to use it only in the event of a zombie apocalypse.

Or a day ending in “y.”

Let’s see, mount it on the back of a truck and….

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