twenty twelve

c nerd

image: grumpy beer

This blog has descended too far into grumpiness.

I’ve started a new one, replacing mr. grumpy here, called c nerd. Go look.


the british national abscess

image: islandist

Hearing the islandist (monoculturalist?) Peter Hitchens on Today today reminded me of an important question. How do you see the future? Do you excite at things coming? Or do you, like Peter Hitchens, look back to the past, a fantasy past, a nasty fantasy you’d like to see real?

The thing is, if you face forwards, you see tomorrow through your eyes. You judge it by what it shows you. Facing backwards, there’s only one orifice available through which to look. And that orifice, unfortunately, makes rather nasty stuff that clouds your vision. That’s why backward facing people look to the future and see shit. It’s not that the future’s shit, it's what they see is what they themselves produce.

So the shit that Peter Hitchens sees in Britain tomorrow? It’s nothing to do with Britain tomorrow. It’s everything to do with Peter Hitchens.

Ok, I'll be honest, I can’t take the guy seriously after he derided science because he was too lazy to learn long words. He represents everything wrong with the UK today; he’s the British national abscess.


windows 8

I’ve been playing with Windows 8 for a while now, and, I’m sorry to find myself saying this, but it’s unusable. It’s very very pretty, but unusable. I really would like it to work, but it simply doesn’t.

image: glass

The problem is the user interface is changed radically, but contains no hints on how to use it. For example, it’s nice to be able to launch programs, but it’d be good to be able to stop them too. Worse, the fine control I need to be able to get the best out of my computer is completely missing.

Making computers unusable seems to be a bit of a fashion amongst UI designers at the moment. I’ve given up on Ubuntu for similar reasons (what kind of idiot thinks command lines aren’t useful for unix users? Ubuntu idiots, that’s who). I wish these designers would put usability ahead of pretty–pretty; as it is, both Windows 8 and Ubuntu belong to the bimbo school of design.

To me, it’s Microsoft’s next Vista. I suspect we need to wait until Windows 9 to get the working version. In the meantime, I’ll probably stick with Windows 7, which remains very very good. Well, almost: that also contains some features which make it a bastard to use in places, but you can turn those menus back on and get access to the things needed to get work done. Why can’t I do that with Windows 8?

I’ve one hope: I’ve been using a pre–release version of Windows 8. Perhaps Microsoft have restored the essentials to make it usable in the product itself. I’ll see when it’s released, I guess.


software being stupid

image: glass

Here are three examples of poor software design.

First comes the Gimp. Select an area using the scissor select tool. Hit copy. It copies the entire image.

They do a lot work on the fancy fancy detail, but totally screw up the glaringly obvious: when one selects something and hits copy, one wants to copy the selected something.

Mind you, I found a moronic mess in my recently purchased copy of Photoshop. Go to Help in the Photoshop menu. Ask for help on Photoshop. Get help on Safari.

Ok, I’ve got it now. The Gimp is meant to be a freeware replacement for Photoshop. They’ve copied everything, including the idiocies. Open Office did the same with Word.

Fortunately, I could do my work in Aperture.

image: glass

But Apple’s XCode cancels out their gold star. Do a search and replace in all open documents. It seems to work. Change the search term. Change the replace term. Search and replace again. Rather than doing what you’ve said, it changes the previous result.

E.g. Replace “(i)” with “01”: it works. Then replace “(ii)” with “02”, it replaces “01” with “02”.

In all three cases, the software has obviously being designed this way. Such errors would not have got part testing unless they were deliberate. I imagine arguments. Quite clearly, someone made a wrong decision. Perhaps they were trying to do something clever and screwed up the simple. Perhaps they presumed anyone who disagreed with them was stupid. Perhaps they couldn’t see the forest. Whatever, the error also lies with the organisation that permitted these wrong decisions to remain.


tannoy returns

image: glass

What was the arts & ego blog, which had replaced this tannoy blog, is gone. It was built on the content management system Drupal.

Drupal is overkill for just a blog. It’s designed for more complex activities than the occasional essay. When I installed it, I’d intended to use those features, but, apart from a mailing list, that never happened.

Furthermore, I had to update it every few weeks, when bugs were found and fixed in drupal itself. This necessary maintenance added nothing to the blog.

Anyway, the last update failed, and failed badly. It corrupted the database. I could have restarted by reinstalling drupal & restoring arts & ego, but I decided against that. Instead, I’ve restored this blog, the tannoy blog. I’ve incorporated all the entries from what was the arts & ego blog, so nothing’s been lost.



image: not actually tea

When I was a young man, I didn’t like tea.

After a few years, I realised that, actually, I didn’t like cheap, crap tea.

Recent experience has taught me that, actually, I don’t like hideously–overpriced, cheap, crap tea.

Hey, people, give up being ripped off with teabags and go grab yourself a tin of Chinese tea. Around the beginning of March, I spent 1.75 euro on a small tin of Loong Tseng Tea. It’s the beginning of May now, & I’m halfway down it. I’ve been drinking roughly six cups a day, each working day, for two months.

First of all, it’s a good green tea, although it doesn’t approach the best green darjeeling (yum yum). But if you don’t like green tea, no problem, this works with good black teas too.

image: glass

Secondly, I said green tea, but don’t judge green tea by the cheap crap sold in hideously–overpriced cheap crap teabags. A good cup of good green tea should cost you in the region of one hell of a lot less than a penny, presuming you make it yourself (unobviously, a cheap crap one costs nearer 25 cents). It should be delicious to drink, not a punishment for appalling crimes committed in a previous life, such as ripping off tea drinkers.

Ah, but you see, what matters is how you make it. You need an exotic device called a ‘kettle’. And weirdly shaped apparatus called a cup. Oh, and some water. You don’t need a strainer. You don’t need a bag. You don’t need milk or sugar, unless you’re so rich you want to be seen to throw money away.

You do use the kettle to boil the water. You do put a small pinch of tea leaves in the cup. You do add the boiling water. You do wait until the tea leaves sink to the bottom of the cup (if the water wasn’t boiling the tea leaves won’t sink, so don’t cheat by using hot water from a coffee machine, unless you have a crap coffee machine that likes the burn the coffee). You wait until the tea has cooled a little. And you drink the tea.

image: glass

Once drunk, you leave the used tea leaves in the cup, & add more boiling water. You drink another cup of tea. That trick doesn’t work with crap tea, which is one reason why crap tea is crap (another is the horrible flavour, another is the nasty colour). Depending on the tea, and your taste, you can get two, three, maybe four cups, from one pinch of leaves.

Don’t poison the tea with milk, unless you’re using cheap crockery that might crack when you pour in boiling water. Don’t add sugar, unless you need a legal high.

This, as many know, is a Chinese way of drinking tea. It works well. The brilliant British teapot, with its artful tea cosy, is perfect for a group of people sharing tea, is how I prefer to drink tea, but you do need a group of people willing to risk not drinking hideously–overpriced, cheap, crap tea. That’s the difficult bit.

That tea I bought, Loong Tseng Tea, at 1.75 euro for a five month supply? That, I was told, was hideously expensive, but very very good. Obviously, if you want to economise, and you’re not so fussy, you don’t need to be quite so exceptionally extravagant. But, hey, I’m willing to be that kind of mad, to spend silly silly money on exotic foreign luxuries, to show–off my wealth, my taste.


software corporates’ unfortunate nationalism

image: baile

I wrote this a few months ago, before I moved to the Netherlands.

Zune has just assured me that GB (my computer setting) is not part of the UK (my live email setting). Doh—they’;re the same country! Technically, the difference is Northern Ireland. But then, I’m signing in with a .IE mail address. So what’s happening: is Microsoft taking sides in that old conflict? That’s how it seems from here.


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