Fuzzy Curmudgeon

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Date registered: Monday, 22 December 2014 18:31

Latest posts

  1. Ah, the old Apple vs. the World argument rages again — Wednesday, 20 September 2017 11:54
  2. 9/11 again — Monday, 11 September 2017 12:25
  3. RIP Jerry Pournelle — Saturday, 9 September 2017 07:46
  4. Love him or hate him — Thursday, 7 September 2017 11:40
  5. It’s not climate change. — Tuesday, 5 September 2017 13:12

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Ah, the old Apple vs. the World argument rages again

From a Facebook thread I started to troll some of my friends in the Apple ecosystem, which started out by comparing the features of the new iPhone X to the Samsung Galaxy Note s6 (the Samsung won):

Maybe I live a charmed life, but I just don’t have the problems y’all talk about with Microsoft products.

I’ve had Windows machines blow up on me that were the fault of the hardware and sketchy drivers provided by the hardware manufacturers, but rarely if ever could the fault be traced to the operating system software itself. Never, ever use Intel’s software-based RAID for anything. Learned that the hard way.

Is Microsoft software bloated? Yes. But so is everyone else’s. Check out how big your Facebook app is on your iPhone or iPad sometime. For me, it’s the largest app I have on my iPad, and it runs like a pig because Facebook’s programmers don’t know how to bum code the way we used to do it in the Paleolithic.

Do Windows computers slow down as they age? Yes. But you can get rid of the cruft in a number of ways, starting with the built-in Disk Cleanup application that will let you clean up a lot of old junk (like Windows Updates), and ranging to commercial applications that will clean up and compact your registry (just be sure you run a full backup first). Modern versions of Windows run a disk defragmenting process automatically, instead of making you do it manually like XP and earlier. And you can speed things up physically by replacing certain hardware items, like replacing your old-tech spinning disk drives with fast SSDs (which is kind of like replacing incandescents with LEDs, except not). You can generally add RAM, if you didn’t max the machine out when you bought it, which will prevent the machine from swapping memory to disk as often. (I bought my current Dell laptop three years ago with 8GB RAM, and recently upgraded it to 32GB RAM, for instance. It’s also had the boot drive upgraded to SSD. It’s my daily driver and I don’t have any trouble with it.)

And finally (because I need to get back to work), don’t buy cheap sh*t to start with. I keep trying to explain to my lady wife that the cheap laptops you see at the warehouse clubs that run $400 are not what she needs. If it has an i3 processor, avoid it. If it has an i5 processor and you just use a computer for email and web browsing, eh, OK. Personally, I won’t buy anything new anymore that doesn’t have at least an i7 processor. i3 and i5 processors are not future-proof to the extent that a good i7 is. We saw a Dell on sale at Costco last weekend for $799 that had an i7, 1TB drive, and 16GB RAM — which would be my minimum specifications for Windows 10, which it was running. But she balked at the $799 price tag and wanted to know why I didn’t recommend the $499 HP sitting next to it. And I said, because HP’s consumer line is junk now. And she still argued. And I said, fine, you can keep using your five-year-old i3 that I’ve upgraded with more RAM and an SSD and you still complain is too slow.

(I’ve been running Dell computers — mostly laptops — since at least 2002, and I have no complaints. My Inspiron 600m is still running; it’s my last surviving XP machine. My Precision M4300 is in its second incarnation only because I spilled a soda on it and killed the first one dead; I replaced it with a nearly-identical machine off of eBay and it’s still alive and kicking, with the same disk drive off of the old one. I’ve specified Dell for other people and organizations and have never once been disappointed. The only use case where I would specify something else would be for server machines, where I am solidly an HP advocate — their server products are still the best in the business, and the few times I’ve actually had hands on Dell servers, I haven’t been very impressed. They struck me as flimsy compared to the HPs.)

She also keeps talking about just switching to a tablet computer, and I keep telling her that she can’t run a business like the one she keeps saying she wants to start from a tablet (and, Office 365 running on a tablet to the contrary, you really can’t). Maybe a Surface, but a new Surface is more expensive than a new laptop these days — and I don’t do refurbished for a “main” computer.

The fact is, I don’t actually care what you run for a phone, or a tablet, or a main computer — you have to run what you are comfortable with. Hell, I own an iPad Air 2 myself, and like it quite a bit. But I’ll defend to the death my contention that the open hardware architecture in the Microsoft/Android ecosystem beats the closed one in the Apple ecosystem hands down in terms of innovation, and that’s what the image I posted is really all about. In the Microsoft/Android ecosystem, we simply get the newer stuff faster — and contrary to popular belief, it works just fine if the user doesn’t eff things up. In my business, problems are usually a combination of PEBCAK and a refusal to RTFM — not the software or the OS it’s running on.

 

9/11 again

And I find that I’m having a harder time caring this year.  Oh, sure, I can and do still empathize with those who lost loved ones, and I’m still angry that anyone could actually be heartless enough to plan and execute such an attack (and damn glad the main pig-fucker is dead and tossed to the sharks).  It’s our increasingly-feeble response to 9/11 that I’m having a harder time caring about.

For all the initial calls to find the bastards and destroy them utterly, here we are, 16 years later, still playing whack-a-mole with the RIFs.  Of course for at least eight of those years, we weren’t serious about it, thanks to our unlamentedly-former so-called president.  And the guy before him, much as I liked the cut of his jib at the time, frankly didn’t go about it right.  (If he’d studied his father’s response to the invasion of Kuwait more closely, we’d have been a lot better off.)  And I’ll never forgive the guy before him for not taking Osama’s head when it was offered to him on a plate.  But I digress.

It was my great privilege to meet Harry Truman’s oldest grandson last Friday night.  Clifton Truman Daniel is a great man and a great American, and for all that he’s an antiwar no-nukes type, he is at least rational about it.  Hell, I even agree with him; I’d prefer never to see such weapons used in anger again.  On the other hand, you maintain the peace by preparing for war.

The point is, Mr. Daniel demonstrated that he fully and completely understood his Grandpa.  “Grandpa never reconsidered his decision to use the bombs.  His decision was based solely on the premise that doing so would save American lives.”*

How’s that old song go?  “Mister, we could use a man like Harry Truman again.”**  Because America isn’t Sally Field; we don’t really care if the world likes us.  We want the world to respect us sufficiently to fear our response if someone tries to pull something like 9/11 again.  That we are currently being threatened by a North Korean Louse That Roared with nuclear devastation and/or EMP attack only points up the fact that our leaders have been unserious in this endeavor.  For what it’s worth, it appears that President Trump is deadly serious about it, and the fat boy hasn’t yet actually achieved an understanding of that fact.  Which may end up being very messy, but when you kick the can down the road for 25 years, sooner or later it’s going to come to rest in an uncomfortable place, which it now has pretty much done.

The real lesson and legacy of 9/11 is that nobody is our friend, and we need to start acting accordingly.  Donald Trump and certain members of his administration get it.  Many Americans are tired of all the putzing around and want action.  To be entirely honest, I originally wrote “and closure”, but I think Americans would be willing to support a long-term general cleanup of the asshole of the world if it had clearly-stated intentions and goals.  There’s only one problem with that.

The problem with America (note, “America”, not “Americans”) doing anything long-term is that we have these minor revolutions every couple of years that we call elections.  So everything we do is circumscribed by the two- and four-year election cycles.  George W. Bush found that out in 2006, and in a way, thank goodness, because we hung around in Iraq too long and were doing too many things wrong there.***  We could fix that problem, of course, at the cost of more of our already circumscribed essential liberties.  Or we could fix it by simply deciding, as a people, that we have the power to make the world be the way we want it to be, and dedicating our lives and treasure to that end — much as did the Romans.

As for the rest of the world, well, “Fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.”  I’m not particularly interested in their opinion and neither should you be.

___________________

* Paraphrasing a bit, but that’s the essence of what he said in response to a question from the audience after his talk.

** Yeah, I know.

*** His daddy had the right idea — kick ass, take names, then get the hell out — but didn’t hang tough quite long enough.  The true end game in Gulf War I should have been Saddam dead or in a jail cell.  Instead, that wound festered for another ten years and resulted in another war.  On the other hand, who knew what might have replaced Saddam.

Of course, Jerry Pournelle (PBUH) for many years opined that we should have instituted a Legionary Corps and literally settled legionary troops there much like the Romans did when they extended their frontiers.  With 25 years’ worth of 20/20 hindsight, I have to wonder if that wasn’t a better solution.  Although today I’d be inclined to simply hand the keys to the Kurds and say, “It’s all yours, boys.  Call us when you need air strikes or more ammo.”

RIP Jerry Pournelle

An active and engaged thinker to the very end.  Always one of my favorite reads, although his volume had slowed markedly in the last couple of years after his stroke.

Perhaps the most poignant aspect of his last blog post was its last line:

“Bye for now.”

Ave atque vale…requiescat in pace.  In the sure and certain hope that we shall all meet again.

Blessings and condolences to Roberta and his family.

Love him or hate him

From an away game:

The real and lasting damage Sherman’s March did was to the moral, not the physical; he pierced the shell of the South and found it all hollow. This was impossible for the South to live down, and is why Sherman is still cordially hated by the soi-disant Sons of the South.

The rest of us remember him as the first great American exponent of the indirect approach, influencing to a great extent the campaigns of Patton eighty years later.

 

It’s not climate change.

A friend posted something about Houston on Facebook and actually implied that Harvey proved the case for climate change.

Neglecting the fact that a major hurricane has not hit the United States since Katrina, 12 years ago.*

Neglecting the fact that hurricanes aren’t driven by climate, they’re driven by weather.  If you don’t have a deep low pressure zone over warm water, you don’t generate a hurricane.  But that is completely and totally dependent on the chaotic system known as “weather”, that the experts in the field can’t even predict accurately more than about 12 hours out, let alone your lazy ass that looks at the outdoor thermometer for the last week or so and gasps, “OMG it’s global climate change!  It’s August (or now September) and it’s still summer and it’s ONLY 70 degrees!” without bothering to look at the latest NOAA surface analysis map (as if you took the junior-level Weather and Climate class from Prof Tom many years ago and actually know what all those squiggly lines mean) to find out why that might be.**

Climate is what we expect.  Weather is what we get, and it doesn’t always track with climatic expectations.

And still nobody on the Chicken Little side of the climate debate has explained why all the “warming” they saw suddenly stopped in 1997 and hasn’t started back up since.  (Oh, sure, they keep adjusting the models and fudging the data, but the models don’t jibe with what we see and we all know the data is being fudged.)

And nobody — but nobody — wants to admit that the solar cycle has anything at all to do with that, even with us going into one of the deepest solar minimums since the Maunder or the Dalton. No, the big hydrogen fusion furnace in the sky that burns your skin if you stay out in it too long has nothing to do with temperature on earth.  Y’all just keep believing that.

And keep believing that increased atmospheric CO2 means increased atmospheric heating, when actual research shows that CO2 gets released during cooling cycles, and trapped during warming cycles.  It’s almost as if the planet has a thermostat.  Oh, wait.

The fact is that the human race has seen warmer times and colder times.  Indeed, when I was in high school, Al Gore was ranting about global cooling, with just about as much reason to pay attention to him then as there is now, i.e., none.  But let’s face it:  Around the turn of the first millennium, the Vikings named their colony in eastern Canada “Vinland”.  Because they fucking grew grapevines there and were making wine, that’s why.  And as another friend of mine who is another global warming advocate (and ought to be smart enough to know better) keeps pointing out to me, there are ancient farmsteads being uncovered by melting ice in Greenland, another Viking haunt from about the same period of history.

Is it possible that we’re just living during a period when the natural variation either way just seems like it might be catastrophic?  There are stories of winter festivals held on the iced-over Thames River in London during the “Little Ice Age” (1645-1715) coincident with the Maunder Minimum.  (The Thames, for those of you who aren’t keeping up, doesn’t freeze in the winter these days.  Neither does the Hudson or Long Island Sound in New York, but both did in 1780 — the winter of Valley Forge — and the British troops rolled cannon across them to Staten Island to defend it from American partisans who were sneaking across the river to attack them.)

The US was just getting a good start when the Dalton Minimum hit in 1790. and winters turned awful until around 1830.  Have you ever read any good stories about pioneering in the Midwest during the Northwest Territories period?  Look what they have to say about the winters.  Hint:  They were nasty.  And the New Madrid fault famously cut loose during the depths of winter right in the middle of it, 1811-1812, probably making folks in proto-Illinois and proto-Indiana even more miserable than they already were.

Conversely, the Romans at their height lived through a warm era that probably fostered the growth of their empire.  It’s called the Roman Warm Period. You or Al Gore could look it up.  And there was another warm period later called the Medieval Warm Period that might have had a lot to do with the Renaissance.  You or Al Gore could look that up, too.  That one coincides with the Vinland colonization, by the way.

But you try to make that sort of logical argument these days, and the Luddites put you in the stocks and throw rotten vegetables at your head.  Or the virtual equivalent thereof.

Won’t they all be disappointed when it all works out just fine.

_____________________
* And never mind that another one is bearing down on either Florida, or the Carolinas, or the Gulf, or somewhere (the models — remember what I said about models? — disagree fairly violently) even as we speak.  To all my friends in Florida, hang in there; we’re thinking of you.

** Your concept of that sort of map may well be along the lines of, “Weather was dominated by a large Canadian low, which is not to be compared to a Mexican high, ha ha ha.”

Windows 10 tweakage

Just putting these here for my future reference.

Mandatory FTC disclaimer:  I have no connection with the companies or the software referenced below.

Start10 Windows 10 Start Menu Alternative

How to make Windows 10 File Explorer look like Windows 7 Windows Explorer

Windows 10 breaks Outlook 2010 clickable links in messages if IE 11 is default browser

 

The big solar furnace in the sky

Sitting in the doctor’s office waiting for my appointment just about the time the moon wolf was starting to eat the sun goddess, I got to watch the full totality somewhere in Idaho courtesy of their TV which was set to ABC’s “Great American Eclipse” — and isn’t that just precious.

Anyway, the talking head chick was mentioning how chilly it had gotten all of a sudden, and I had to snicker, thinking,

“And you people who believe in globull warmerongering don’t think the sun heading for the bottom of the cycle minimum has anything to do with the fact that global temperatures aren’t rising and climate change cruises to Antarctica keep getting stuck in the ice.

“Unexpectedly!”

Turn that big H->He converter in the sky off for just a few minutes in a comparatively small area of the planet and look how chilly it gets immediately from the lack of insolation.

If there were a just God, he’d turn the damn thing off altogether and let us freeze, as stupid as the mill run of us are.

Story is that Bannon is out.

And, yep — True.

Now if General Kelly would take the President’s Twitter account away from him, maybe something substantive could get done.

That slippery slope is going to be quite a ride.

A friend noted that one of our local television stations had prematurely labeled church vandalism (Nazi-esque, pro-Donald Trump graffiti spray-painted on the exterior) in a southern Indiana county last February as a “hate crime”, prior to discovering that, in fact, the church organist vandalized the building as a protest against Donald Trump.

Talk about egg on their face.  But, nah, let’s talk about “hate crimes” instead.

On some level, all crimes are potentially hate crimes. Designating certain types of crimes as official hate crimes under law is an exercise in legislative opinion (and as a primarily-political opinion, it makes for bad law). It’s all well and good to fix in law that vandalism of a religious property is a hate crime, to be prosecuted with special attention to the mental state of the perpetrator; but once you have designated one thing as a hate crime, you’ve got a foot stuck in the door to eventually broadening the definition of a hate crime. And we’re already headed down that slippery slope, with “thoughtcrime” already being sanctioned, however unofficially, by the media and by various Internet services like Facebook and Twitter.

And you thought 1984 was just a book.  “Two-Minutes Hate,” anyone?

I, for one, strongly believe that tearing down Confederate memorials is a hate crime. Not because I hold any brief for slavery, or for the rebels and their ill-conceived secession and the war it engendered, but because to destroy or remove these monuments destroys our national history out of no emotion other than hatred for that history. As an historian, I strongly believe that we MUST embrace our history honestly, warts and all, and not try to erase the “uncomfortable” parts just to make ourselves feel better.

On the other hand, there are people out there who believe the opinion I just expressed is itself a hate crime. The next thing we know, it may become a hate crime to express opinions that are out of the mainstream.*  If you think that’s impossible, don’t think the First Amendment will protect us from that; remember, the Second Amendment is very clear that the right to bear arms is not to be infringed, yet there exists a multitude of local, state, and federal laws that significantly infringe the right. Legislators can always find a way to get around the Bill of Rights, and with the right (meaning the left) judges in place, they can take away God-given rights we have long thought inviolable.

Don’t be so quick to label anything as a hate crime. Or at least, wait until the investigation is complete and the facts of the case have been made public. Remember that a lie can make it around the world twice while the truth is still lacing up its boots.

_________________________

* Oh, wait — as I pointed out, it already is, on Facebook and Twitter.

61

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

Happy birthday.  I love you.

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