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Technology

New iPad announced and still iDon’tCare

New iPad
Another year, another iPad. I’m still not sold. (Apple photo)

The new iPad was announced yesterday. I thought it would be a good time to reassess my position from two years ago since the first iPad came out. But as I have for the past two years since Apple supposedly redefined the computing landscape, I can only shrug.

Now, I understand that I must not represent the market at large, but based on how much the iPad costs in its various incarnations, and what you gain from it, I just still for the life of me cannot wrap my head around its blockbuster popularity, let alone this notion that it has redefined the future of computing by ushering in an era of tablets that will soon supposedly become more often purchased than laptops or desktops. (Read more…)

Louis C.K.: Independent comedian, auteur

Over the past few years, the stock value, figuratively speaking, of comedian Louis C.K. has been going steadily up. In a few years we might look back and say that 2011 is when it officially hit its peak. I hope it stays high for a long while. I suppose that depends how long C.K. can maintain it, and if he can continue building on the success he’s currently having.

In his latest (independent) stand-up special, C.K., in typical self-deprecating fashion, notes how well things are going but suggests it must be temporary: “It’s not gonna last,” he says. “It’s been about eight months, I’ve got a year left, and then I’m back to being just like you.” (Read more…)

I would never say this in mixed company

Note: This post contains profanity. If that offends you, get the f**k over it already. And, also, sorry; I’m not trying deliberately to offend anyone.

Earlier tonight, Kathy and I were watching The Daily Show, and Jon Stewart had on guest Marion Cotillard, which right there led to a moment between me and my wife:

Me: “Oh, man, who the hell is that chick? She looks so familiar.” (Read more…)

The TRT-909: An engineering marvel

Ever since I was a kid I’ve had something of a fascination with trains. Well here’s the ultimate train: one that tears up and then lays down its own tracks. It’s the TRT-909 Track Renewal Train, which made its way by my neighborhood last weekend.

TRT-909The TRT-909 Track Renewal Train is a train upon a train, with its own rails to transport this tie ferry.

I’d known it was coming based on prior news reports weeks ago. I knew it was actually here when I heard very loud noises coming from the tracks a few blocks from my house on Sunday.

These particular tracks that run through town are part of the corridor that runs between Chicago and St. Louis and is being upgraded to accommodate the forthcoming high-speed Amtrak that will travel the corridor in a few years. (Note that “high speed” is by the lowly standards of Amtrak and not those of the world.)

Anyway, the TRT-909 is an impressive machine. It pulls up and spreads the rails apart, removes the old wooden railroad ties and replaces them with new concrete ties, then puts the rails back down. There are also a dozen or more smaller vehicles/machines that do other work on the tracks before and after the TRT-909 does its thing. I’ve seen other videos online that show this process in more detail, but this video shows the gist of the main part of the job, as well as I could shoot it from my distance of 20 or so yards away. Apologies for the shaky-cam quality; I was kind of far away and had to zoom quite a ways in to get the detail.

That such a machine was conceived and built and can do this is quite an impressive thing. It’s a very specific job, and here they’ve created a very specific engineering marvel.

When it comes to social networking, I’m not very social

Working as I do in online media — both as a career and as a free-time hobby — I naturally have to keep up with what’s hot, what’s trending, where everything is going, how people are using online tools to get and share information, etc., etc.

Obviously, over the last several years, social networking has exploded. Facebook and Twitter are pretty much platforms that every company or blogger has to be on, otherwise they’re missing out on a swath of people who might be on Facebook or Twitter all day, but do not necessarily seek out and view content on websites without being reminded by updates they get on Facebook or Twitter.

(Interestingly, the idea of going to websites to seek out the content you want — without getting some sort of reminder — seems almost foreign to me now. I pretty much do all my online reading via RSS feeds, where Google Reader gives me a list of headline links from all my favorite sites that I either choose to click on to read the story, or not.) (Read more…)

Who needs the iPad? Nobody, I’m sure.

The headline pretty much says it all. What is the point of the iPad? I think this may be the perfect example of the consumer product that exists first and foremost to fleece its buyers out of their money. Goal #2: To convince them that it’s great in the absence of these customers having better reasons for living.

iPad. Who cares.
The wonderful iPad. Frankly, iDontGiveADamn.

Too cynical? Perhaps. Granted, the last thing I should probably do is dare to question the uber-smart-and-savvy Steve Jobs. After all, every high-tech, game-changing, mega-hyped, life-altering, blockbuster piece of techo-wizardry that Apple has released in the past decade has been a slam-bang success, right?

The very first “i” product, the iMac, basically saved Apple from oblivion shortly before the turn of the millennium. After that came the iPod and the iPhone, both of which redefined the notion of success when it comes to cool-ass gadgets. The iPod announced Apple as a company that owned the gadget zeitgeist, and the iPhone was so hyped it confirmed Apple’s lightning-in-a-bottle reputation well before it even came out. For me to question the potential success of the iPad is probably betting against the house, where the house has long ago rigged the game. (Read more…)

Twitter: Let’s get this party started

Last year, I posted my position that was not exactly anti-Twitter, but certainly not at all for it, either. I wondered whether it was a fad, and questioned its utility as a worthwhile endeavor on the Internets, where we use the Google and stuff.

Twitter tweets you
Twitter. A-holes. Silly bird and cartoon T make me feel compelled to tweet. Too bad Conan’s Twitter Tracker is no more; now he can’t follow me.

Even then, I knew that post was the blogging equivalent of ice-skating uphill and revealing myself as an out-of-touch fuddy-duddy.

I think that column reveals more about me personally than about the Way We Live Now. I also think that it’s time to backtrack and take advantage of The Way We Live Now, rather than fighting it merely because it allows me to be a quieter and less plugged-in procrastinator. I should opt to be a noisier and more technologically dependent procrastinator.

Twitter, of course, represents a format of brevity and here’s-what-I’m-thinking-right-now. I’ve always assumed that people don’t particularly care what I’m thinking right now and would rather wait until I have a more comprehensive and organized collections of written-down thoughts that can be consumed over the course of 10 minutes rather than five seconds. You know, something that would necessitate — oh, I don’t know — at the very least 200 words, and more likely my more typical 2,000. (Read more…)

3D cinema? Possibly. 3D television? Please get real.

The film industry has been trying to push 3D on its customers for a while now, but it has just in the past year or so shifted that campaign into high gear. 2009 had a number of notable titles to be released in movie theaters in 3D (most of them CGI-animated productions that easily lend themselves to the 3D process because they are completely digitally created).

AvatarAvatar and 3D: The future of cinema? Not so fast.

Now comes the 3D “game changer” behemoth: Avatar. This is going to be the movie that changes everything, right?

Well, not so fast.

Avatar is the first modern 3D feature film that I’ve seen. By “modern,” I mean the sort of 3D by way of modern techniques like circular polarization, as opposed to those 1950s-style red/blue glasses.

Avatar is a wonderfully entertaining and unsubtle message movie and a visual achievement (and no, I will not be reviewing it), but I am not convinced that it needs to be seen in 3D. Granted, the 3D was pretty damn cool. There were scenes where you could literally focus on foreground objects on the screen as if they were really there, and then switch your focus to objects behind them, and the foreground object would go double, just like in real life. There are some breathtaking shots in 3D, where the experience becomes immersive. And impressive. (Read more…)

Review: Microsoft Windows 7

Actually, this isn’t a review, but an announcement that there will not be a review of Windows 7, because I find Windows 7 to be inexplicable. (Read more…)

Abandoning the battle against spam

I don’t understand why people are so afraid of spam in this day and age. It seems to me that people get overly concerned about giving out their e-mail address to companies or web sites or what-have-you, because “they’re going to send me a bunch of stuff I don’t want.”

Well, I suppose there’s a kernel of truth there. After all, why would someone want your e-mail address unless they wanted to e-mail you? And I admit that I have a tendency to omit my e-mail address from forms where it’s not needed. But then there are those who feel a need to create a separate e-mail account specifically because they don’t want to see spam in their “real” inbox. At which point, it seems to me that the cure is taking more effort than dealing with the mild symptoms of the disease. (Read more…)